5 Movies RevTerry Has to Watch on/around Halloween

For some of us, horror movies are less a seasonal thing and more an everyday part of life. Many movies considered “Halloween classics” are more or less just “classic” in my mind and do not require a special occasion for viewing (far from it). Still there are a few flicks in my collection I just don't feel right without a watchthrough on or around the only holiday worth celebrating.  So on this Samhain I give you:

5 Movies RevTerry Has to Watch on/around Halloween! 

(fuck that's a long title)

1. Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981) 

I include these two as one entry as even though the first is definitely the stronger, they make one great overall story. The first is the granddaddy of the genre and creates earnest scares with little to no bullshit flash. On the list for obvious reasons but also because Part 1 is one of my all time favorites.

Despite being sort of a non-sequel and making a lot of people mad at the time, Season of the Witch holds well enough on its own. The masks, song and left-field Irish magic are all great, but  pretty much secures its spot in the Halloween playlist each year.

A little bit of a strange pick, the surreal follow-up continues to explore the themes of the first but also pays homage to late 70s Italian horror at times. Its inclusion on the list of need-to-watch films is mostly due to a personal reason, as it was Halloween the first time I watched it all those years ago. So kind of a strange pick, but fuck you, it’s awesome.

4. Trick 'r Treat (2007)

Michael Dougherty’s anthology is the most recent of my picks. It displays a strong respect for the holiday and gave us Sam, Halloween's official tendon slicing mascot. The fun, almost, Tales From the Crypt (TV 1989-1996)-like tone and practical effects made it an instant classic.

This one's a trashy blast and features some creative lipstick work by Linnea Quigley. Its the perfect mash-up of 80s sleaze and holiday spirit. Equal parts satire to exploitation (in a good way), it never gets old, and I look forward to it each year.  Bad Halloween parties make great entertainment.

Honorable mentions: Jack-O (1995), Satan’s Little Helper (2004), Dark Night of The Scarecrow (1981), Trick or Treat (1986), Trick or Treats (1982), Ginger Snaps (2000) and The Changeling because they will pretty much get played at some point every October.


Love,

Did I miss something important? What are your picks? Let us know on the Tumblr or comment below.

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9(ish) More Films RevTerry Will Most Likely Watch on/around Halloween. (aka Part II)
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Vampire's Kiss (1988) Review by RevTerry

If by some stroke of luck I have garnered some good graces among readers or if our beautiful little blog has anything in the way of regular readership, I may unfortunately lose a few of you within the the next few sentences of this paragraph. I remain dedicated in making these statements despite the above fact, doing so knowing in my heart of hearts that it is the truth, at least as far as I can know it.  Nicolas Cage is one of the greatest entertainers ever to grace the silver screen and as is as far I'm concerned the patron saint of mainstream trash cinema. On a personal level it is much easier for me to relate to Cage’s antics off screen than the average socialite. Like most Hollywood stars he was born into the business, lots of money and eventually suffered a breakdown of some sort but as with all things, when Nick Cage goes bankrupt it's with nerdy finesse. It's hard for me to understand people's relationship with celebrities who spend their time and privilege on appearance and soulless pursuits. Cage, on the other hand, buys castles, famous haunted houses and rare comic books,  the kind of extremes that I would imagine myself ruining my head start in life with, had I had the same. On the screen he takes a lot of ridicule, especially in recent years. It's as if we have forgotten the grave depression of Bringing Out the Dead (1999) or the crazed anti hero of Lynch’s adaptation of Wild at Heart (1990). He pours his dorky soul into the thinnest of work, and not in the pretentious look at me fashion of the last two Jokers, but instead with true love fitting of entertainment and fueled with a lifetime of being a fan himself. He makes shitty movies watchable and good movies great. I can hear the The Wicker Man (2006) jokes through time and your computer as I type but you know what? He gave you the bees. He did. Gave that to you. He didn't have to do that. When he is matched up with good film-making the result can be fucking golden and when it's time to cheese or corn he is your man. Don't even get me on my Castor Troy trip. I have a list of flicks from 86 to 05 for any argument against the man and somewhere between the nihilistic spiral of Leaving Las Vegas (1995) and the hybrid tone of Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) there sits 1989’s Vampire Kiss.
Peter Loew(Cage) is a young yuppie living in the late 80’s, spendin his privilege while he works as a literary agent, engaging in drunken one night stands and generally treating people like shit. He is also rapidly going insane and spends time with a shrink, where he goes into narcissistic, disillusioned tirades. One night while with a female caller a bat flies into his apartment and he feels the need to tells his therapist it gave him a boner. During one of his nightly trendy bar adventures he meets a woman who drinks the blood from his neck during sexy time. The events drive him further into madness and he begins to “transform”, which includes sporting some shades to avoid sunlight, some plastic vampire teeth and violent mood swings. We all have a good laugh as we watch the rapid decline of a man's mental health a la vampire movie cliches.
The tone of the film is almost brooding and dramatic with the deadpan humor of the coming early 90’s. A lot of the films laughs come from Cage’s performance, which would be comedic genius if it wasn't so genuine to insanity as well. Its framing of the cruel yuppie and his breakdown gives us a taste of the critical nature that would come with Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. Beating the novel and its celebrated adaptation to the punch in several areas it parodies the horror genre to pick apart the economic attitudes of the 80’s. There's a lot going on there to be examined and pulled apart but it's best done on your own and it is not necessary to enjoy the film. The comedy holds up well enough, even when we shouldn't be laughing, which is really the best kind of laughter in my opinion. Lighting and editing meet or exceed general quality for films of its time and budget(2 mill). It's easy to see while watching why it failed in theaters and found a smaller dedicated cult following but I'm surprised it doesn't get more love with the more “hip” youngsters.
Nicolas Cage throws his whole body into the role and gives three very distinct stages for is evolution into “vampirism”. The character begs for Cage’s signature madness and this was one of the films that cemented that reputation. Moments are filled with humor that would have surely been a meme just as quickly as the BEES, had it come later. He once said in an interview he turned down the film initially, wanting to do something safer after the high of Moonstruck. That would have been pretty fucked up as I can't see anyone else making it work.  is great as the vampiress that “turns” him. She definitely has the aura of a chick that might get you to let her go Radu on your neck. As a secretary that our young urban professional takes special interest in tormenting, we have , a consistent and familiar face that always make me think of Predator 2(1990). It's a shame she has been mostly reserved for bit parts and love interests because she is easy to root for on film.
So what if my dude has been relegated to straight to DVD films with his head superimposed to stock photos as of late? The man has given us some wonderful shit that no one else would have or could have done.  Plus I watched all that garbage and he is still putting in work harder then half the low ball or confused “method” actors you hear about currently.  Vampire's Kiss is a great example of how he can make a good film fucking amazing. It goes well with  Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction (1995) if you are down for a moody escape from the typical vampiric romance tropes.  Be nice to Saint Cage, he is just a spastic nerd like many of us and flicks like this easily can make up for the unwatchable first Ghost Rider and other stinkers for years to come.
 1h 43min | 1988
 Director: Robert Bierman
Writer: Joseph Minion 

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Pumpkinhead (1988) Review by RevTerry

A fable is a story that uses some kind of natural or supernatural “thing” to prove a point. To teach a lesson or give you something to ponder. Life lessons wrapped in a talking plant, a tricky spider or some other entertaining shit, like a wise old mini corn dog that gets passed from generation to generation. The fables we hear as kids are passed on by our ancestors, sometimes through verbal communication alone. Hopefully we are currently laying the groundwork for tomorrow's stories about how not to be a jerk, or at the very least giving some kind of substitute. We can only hope though, I don't think future generations will look towards the gripping yarns behind each week's randomly selected stock photo meme and its many adventures as “wise” lore but then again the future could be just one big ass continuous meme for all I know. But for me that role falls on cinema. I learned several of life's lessons reading between the lines of my favorite films. Unfortunately due to Hollywood business logic, editing, money and other inherited movie elements a lot of the film industries moral messages can be muddled in the end result. While it may be that some of us take something even from even the thinnest of film works, the mediums of passing time may not be so gentle. There are some obvious exceptions to this, who's format or story telling seem to transcend generational change. First to come to mind would be The Twilight Zone, a staple as far as education goes at my house. As well as a horror flick that that for me covers many of the basis needed to become a fable and brings with it the dusty aesthetic, the 80s dark fantasy Pumpkinhead (1988).
Pumpkinhead, based on a spooky poem by Ed Justine, was the first film directed by special effects great, Stan Winston. Already a genre legend in big budget films, he had been instrumental in bringing life to The Predator(1987), the classic crew of Monster Squad(1987) and the titular space menaces of the atypical sequel Aliens(1986) before jumping into directing. After completion in 1988, the film was bounced from its bankrupt production company De Laurentiis Entertainment Group to United Artists under its original name Vengeance: The Demon where it finally slipping out for a limited run in 1989. It didn't do great on release but has gathered a cult following since, due in no small part to star Lance Henriksen's continued blessed presence in horror/scifi.
The story starts with a flashback of little Ed Harley, who from his bed witnesses the shunning of a scared man's pleas for help by Ed's father. Even after being threatened with a shotgun the man continues his banging before being killed in some gruesome way mostly off screen. Jumping to the future Ed has grown up and, a father himself, runs a dusty ass general store in the middle of nowhere, where does business with families of mountain people and such. A crew of young adults arrives to film their “talented” motocross star (John D'Aquino) ride around in a circle on a hill or something and they take some time to engage in a few moments of culture shock with the Eds son and the dirty ass hill kids. Ed promises to bring a forgotten product by a customer's abode and leaves Jr.() to run the shop. Ultimately in his absence, the kid walks in front of the douchey ass dirt-bikers tire during a lackluster tantrum laced bike trick. The asshole has some priors with the law so he decides to bounce on the dead kid, leaving some of the slightly more level headed 20-somethings to deal with the whole thing. When the Ed returns to some random dude cradling his dead son he scoops up the body, throws out some deadly ass eye daggers and heads straight up to the mountain people’s house to ask for directions to the local witch doctor. Unfortunately, his son has passed the point of return but he is instead offered a consolation in the form of the revenge-dealing demon known as Pumpkinhead(the same one from the opening flashback). We all learn a good lesson on not being a dick and some bike safety, then some fools get fucked up by a monster. Afterward, we all learn another good lesson about revenge being not as cool as you originally thinks it's going to be when you are all pissed off and shit.
The film is well put together, dark and, in a way, classic in its storytelling. The plot is generally coherent and keeps a consistent flow, never really caving under the weight of its emotionally driven arch. Scenes are dusty, lit with oranges and yellows working with the slight twang of the soundtrack to give it a rustic feel. Winston's style definitely picks up of a few tricks from the directors of films he had assisted on and unsurprisingly he knows how to use the creature effects effectively. The movie’s title monster holds up to this day, it's creepy movements and detail rival my last few CGI laden theater trips. The practical work and shooting allow the creature to be fully seen in some shots without the chronic loss to its bite that other films have suffered. Dialog has some goofy ass moments as per par with the genres accidental catch phrasing of that time. The whole gives you enough in all to make the dramatic, dark emotion work without sacrificing its status as a fun gory horror film. Some good kills, no nudity unless you count sexless revenge demon crotch.
Lance Henriksen really sells it, sporting fake teeth and his tormented stare. Henriksen or as I called him for many years Frank Black, has given a lot to the Horror and Sci-Fi genres and continues to take roles in trashtastic flicks to this day. He is kind of the trustworthy but gruff uncle of horror and this performance is a good example as to why. The classic but engaging character development is driven by Henriksen's portrait of a tortured man relatable in his mistakes. The rest of the cast works well for their given roles. Kerry Remsen another horror regular is among the “guilty” in her most developed role, that I can think of. Rumor has it that the directors kids make a cameo as some of the dirty ass hill people. The worst of the acting comes from the various speaking children roles in the cast but that's pretty normal, as kids usually suck in movies, horror especially( no offense Matthew Hurley). 
Pumpkin head has all the makings of an old school,don't be a dick or die, fable. Arguably more effective than some of the most famous of fables as far as scaring kids into being better people plus with it's got a more straightforward message and Lance Henriksen. I can only hope that future generations will continue to benefit from its teachings because the world could use a few more lessons on not succumbing to reactionary emotion and  just generally not being a assholes. 
 1h 26min | 1988

Director: Stan Winston
Writers: Ed Justin (poem) Mark Patrick Carducci,Stan Winston,Richard Weinman (story) Mark Patrick Carducci, Gary Gerani(screenplay)

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Return of the Living Dead III (1993) Review by RevTerry

If you still have seasons where you live, the leaves may at this point have changed color and fallen to the ground. Three to five aisles at your local Walmart may seem a lot more "with it", shifting the focus to the ever needed universal constants of candy and spooky shit.  Maybe even a few horror classics have popped up at Best Buy(they still sell movies right?)or, if you are really lucky and you have a local media store, a display showcasing the employee's favorites has manifested. Yes it's finally October and you know what that means. Thats right, romance. Nothing gets those chemicals in motion like the spookiest month of the year. Maybe it is the freedom that comes from the masses annual acceptance of horror as a medium. A time when some of our overzealous genre love becomes a resource as opposed to a quirk. For you single folks, it means being able to break out Re-Animator (1985) on a date without fear of possible persecution. Maybe it's the feeling you get while picking out and watching horror flicks with your favorite person. Deciding on classics and close quarters comforts, while watching mother fuckers get hacked up. No matter the reason I can not think of a more romantic setting. The horror genre is no stranger to the arrow of cupid, its roots steeped in gothic love triangles and burning passions but for those of us that like our not-so-tender relations with a side of 90’s angst the obvious film choice for this years devils date night has to be Brian Yuzna's Return of the Living Dead III (1993).
Yuzna's entry into the Return series was released on the 25th anniversary of its great grandfather Night of the Living Dead and 5 years after a faint almost child friendly sequel Return of the Living Dead II (1988).   Ken Wiederhorn's film had opted for a child lead, exchanged the dark humor of the first entry for slapstick chuckles and as a result lost a large part of the fan-base. With a smaller budget and shortened time the reigns would fall to Brian Yuzna and John Penney , who would drop most of the comedy altogether and instead include romantic and science fiction undertones. Although it did little favors for the series at the time it has been getting some deserved love lately. The film carries over no characters from the previous two, sports a darker tone and has a noticeably different style of special FX but fits nicely into cannon, adhering to universe rules previously set down.
The story is a loose and grungy re-telling of romeo and juliet at its core. A couple of leather clad star-crossed lovers break away early from their friend's and a night of brooding in the desert for some adventurous trespassing at the local secret military base. The young lovers( and ) gain entry using a key card the boy swipes from his father (). While they are playing some real life Metal Gear Solid in the top secret government building the two happen to witness the fathers doomed zombie rehabilitation project in action. When all the excitement is over Julie and Curt climb down from their hiding spot, escape the facility and return home for some love making, 90’s style. Unfortunately date night is cut short by the news that the Curts father had been reassigned due to his zombie taming being a bust, as they had witnessed earlier. There is a frustrating teen drama moment between parent and child that ends with the couple storming out. Having decided it’s better to run away than face separation at the hands of another relocation from the Air Force, the duo descends on rebellious and sexy trek. Unfortunately during the dramatic ride on Curt's motorcycle, high speed foreplay causes a near collision with an oncoming semi truck and Julie is thrown into a telephone pole. Curt awakens to find Julie deceased and stricken with grief, he sees his fathers super top secret government ID card in the dirt and decides to bring her body to the base. Unable to resist, he uses his father's experimental process to resurrect his love and the two go back to running away, now with the added burden of Julies increasing zombie-ness. After the base, the two piss off a group of gang members and then Julie bites some fools. At some point in their adventures it's discovered that her hunger for brains can be temporarily subsided by pain which leads to an awesomely brutal scene where Julie takes up arms by shoving glass shards into her skin. If you refuse to watch this movie for any reason, watch it for the zombie DIY glass-shard armor, super mega-evolution at least. There is some undead exo-suit action, some more fools get bit and everybody lives happily ever after (Shakespeare style, which means not really).
Along with the dramatic tone, the film also attempts something else the other films in the "Return" avoided: character development. A dark love story and mediation on "the turning" can be picked out between soapy dialog and awesome gore. At points in the film I feel for the doomed couple, despite the cheese and retro moodiness. I am not a fan of Hollywood's constant injection of romance into every cinematic tale and a lot of mainstream films could do just as well, if not better, to lose the bullshit boy-meets-girl set up, but ROTLD 3 is a trashy example of special case. It takes zombies, Shakespeare, some Rebel Without a Cause and rolls it into a nice doobie-blunt, in my opinion. Cliches are plentiful but varied in source and played well through Yuzna’s gruesome lens. The zombie effects, while noticeably different from the first films, work particularly with the more dramatic flavors of the film well. The effects, executed by various teams(including Steve Johnson  and Wayne Toth) pairs with the colorful lighting to push the soap opera feel to an enjoyably trashy and safe place.
 plays a whiny version of the same character from the other 90s flicks that instantly come to mind (Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Lord of Illusions). It's that terrible but awesome feel you only got from the era, and every time I see him I can't help but wonder what he's up to. Most of the cast is made of tv veterans, which may have added to the soapy feel. Ursa () herself makes a cameo sans kryptonian powers. Without a doubt  is the powerhouse over all. No stranger to over-drama she rides the cheese out well as well as her reactions during the “arming” scene that help make it difficult to watch. Her performance combined with some wonderful practical effects make the film memorable.
Love is a fucked up feeling, I assume slowly turning into a zombie is a pretty bad trip too. What better way to spend the most romantic of months than snuggled up around a corny but ultimately tragic love story involving the undead? Its a underrated classic date night flick. Then again, I did once include Hellraiser (1987) on a list of “good romance films” so you might not want to take relationship advice from me.
1h 37min | 1994

Director: Brian Yuzna
Writer: John Penney

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(Writers note: I originally typed a whole review on this film for last week but I'am a fuckass and lost it to the √¶ther. I tried to rewrite it but couldn't really remember what the fuck I had been writing so this one is probably different and not as good. That one would have been the shit, I just know it. Best one I ever wrote. Too bad its gone forever.)

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Hideous! (1997) Review by RevTerry

Familiarity is nice. Only more increasingly so as we all collectively plunge deeper into a live-tweeted, ever evolving madness as a species. Charles Band's films can, for the most part, be enjoyed in the same sense you trust your favorite chair or how you know a NOFX album will be a NOFX album no matter the year. Not to say that this is boring but instead more comfortable, reliable. Along with being a big part of the straight to video industry during the 80s/90s VHS golden era, Band is known for an interest in certain tropes. Most notably the inclusion of some kind of miniature or small element, most commonly a living toy of some kind but can be a range of things (including an alien cop), brought to life with practical effects. He is a man tied to his interest, like many of us, and Charles Band’s films wander into the realm of the small creepy things genre often. With well over 200 films to his name and a eventful history on the business side, he has touched on several genres and concepts in his impressive career but will for forever be recognized by some, if not most, for the Puppet Master franchise. The 1989 film would cement a few other tropes that would become his staples including the House on Haunted Hill style plot device that has the human characters somehow being trapped in a location for an extended period of time. Band would apply these calling cards and his special brand of horror comedy to various settings with mixed results but always in a way that was comfortable, familiar and his. From the VHS to the Bluray when i pick up one of his films I know what I'm getting, fun, Gothic influenced horror-fantasy most likely with some fun-sized something popping out at some point. Of the films he has directed, one of my favorites would have to be the medical waste flavored version of the tried and true film formula,  Hideous! (1997).
The rivalry of two pompous collectors comes to a head when a rare form of mutant washes up at a sewage treatment facility.  Elvina Shaw, shrill business type and the two rival’s shared medical rarity dealer sells off the valuable creature to the eager Napoleon Lazar(Mel "Screw you Benny!" Johnson Jr.) for a large sum, breaking a first dibs agreement she has with Dr. Lorca (Michael Citriniti). This prompts the doctor strange look alike to send his tough shirtless right hand woman, Sheila, to hold Napoleon at gun point and leave him cuffed to a tree , all while she is cleverly disguised as a sexy gorilla with a pack a day smoking habit. The robbery is brought to the attention of the semi-broiled Detective Leonard Kantor who takes the whole cast, including Ms. Shaw's dimwitted secretary, to Dr. Lorca's castle-like mansion to investigate. After the two rich assholes share some back and forth they decide that the feud will be decided by the "challenge" of  Dr. Lorca giving Lazar a tour, which oddly proves to be fruitful because Lazar is then brought to tears by the sheer glory of the collection he possesses. But when some specimens go missing and circumstances strand and isolate the party in the good doctor’s home, it becomes apparent that some of the mutant-fetus things may not be as dead as previously thought and possibly want more out of life than being some loaded douchebag’s trophy.

The camerawork and editing are on par with other Band directed works from that time. So somewhere between pre-Halloween(1979) era horror films and a 90’s Disney channel original movie quality accompanied by a bouncing score by Richard Band . Story is coherent and lovingly goofy with stupid but fun dialogue and situations made only just in the realm of the believable, due to the fact that collecting the unfortunate seems like something really rich folks would do. The creatures themselves are classic Full Moon brand practical effects, their gross factor increased by the steady flow of slime that clings to the emotive rubber flipper babies. One of my favorite gang of Band's kids, the designs are fun, and like the Puppet Master films you are bound to pick a favorite (mine’s the big head baby-thing with all the eyes).
A loose follow up to the fan favorite Head of the Family the film carries over a chunk of the 1996 film’s cast. Jacqueline Lovell is easily my favorite of the cast and not just because she spends the bulk of the film with only what looks like a dollar store cowboy vest. Her character serves as the movie’s bad-ass and, for the most part, is really the only likable person among the bunch. The gorilla-mask robbery, while dumb as shit, serves as one of the more comedic and memorable moments in the flick and her disguised voice makes it. It’s gratuitous and immature but I have no shame in saying it’s been a beloved movie moment for me for many years. Our two collectors (,) play off each other well and seem to be having fun. Michael Citriniti's Dr. Lorca makes a scarred return in the later Demonic Toys sequel from 2010, although his temperament has changed.
Hideous! hits all the checkboxes for a Full Moon Picture as well as exceeds some of the label’s other classics in way of coherent plot. I like a good gross mini monster pack I can relate too. Nobody likes being treated like an object. Let those little motherfuckers go! At least in my own ever changing hell I know that I can always go back to the pad, pop in a flick like this and take in all the familiar little-creepy-puppet-monster feels like a warm embrace for my battered soul. Never change Charles Band, never.
 1h 22min | 1997
 Director: Charles Band
Writer: Neal Marshall Stevens (as Benjamin Carr) 

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