HORROR COUNTDOWN Part 1
Halloween! This is my favorite time of the year. Every aspect of it calls out to me. As an avid lover of horror and science fiction films, it’s like Christmas in October for me. Cable channels everywhere are full of ghosts and ghouls both day and night. As much I appreciate the hard work of these courageous programming directors, they often leave plenty of choice fare off the airwaves. So I’m going to countdown some of my favorite horror/sci-fi films to cover the 31 days in October. Here are the first ten to satisfy your craving for terror. I’ll see you back here on the 11th! And since we’re in the Halloween spirit (pun intended!) check out all of the great costumes and Frightening Films on Sale we have available.
31. The Crazies (1973)
George Romero wrote and directed this indictment of the military industrial complex cloaked as horror film. Hey, it’s what Mr. Romero does. Soldiers roll into a small Pennsylvania town to “control” a viral outbreak of their own making. The bio-weapon literally drives the infected crazy hence the title. Our survivors have to not only fight the infected they have to dodge the soldiers indiscriminately killing everyone. Romero does a good job of giving the town a claustrophobic feel throughout.
30. The Hitcher (1985)
You know the old saying, “Never pick up a stranger.” C. Thomas Howell should have adhered to it. Rutger Hauer stars in the title role bringing to life an unforgettable character. The psychological torture that Howell suffers throughout had me cringing. A good film for a dark and stormy night!
29. Gargoyles (1972)
This made-for-TV movie won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. Stan (Jurassic Park) Winston was part of that incredible team. The film stars Cornel Wilde as an anthropologist who uncovers a growing army of gargoyles in the American Southwest. Great story, great makeup, and great special effects, sets Gargoyles a cut above other TV movies. You need to see this one. Sorry there is no trailer available. Check out the picture below though.
Take writer Stephen King and partner him with director George Romero and you get Creepshow. On display were five darkly humorous tales of the supernatural that featured an incredible cast including Ted Danson, Leslie Nielsen, Ed Harris, and Stephen King. This one gives as many laughs as it does scares. I find it a good way to break the tension during a horror marathon.
A Horror/Comedy in every sense of the word, Zombieland is just pure fun. In the wake of a zombie apocalypse a small group comes together and have to survive both the zombies and the greater challenge, each other. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Jessie Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin. There is a cameo appearance in this one that is not to be missed!
26. 13 Ghosts (1960)
Another William Castle film makes the cut! The nephew of an occult researcher visits his empty mansion and finds it filled with ghosts that can only be seen through special glasses. Showman extraordinaire Castle created an effect dubbed “Illusion-O” and supplied theater-goers with glasses so they, like the actors, could see the on screen ghosts. This is an awesomely fun haunted house movie for everyone. More fun if you can get a copy that works with the 3D-glasses like viewer.
25. The Bad Seed (1956)
Never has there been a child more evil than Rhoda Penmark (played deliciously by Patty McCormack). To outsiders she appears to be the happiest, sweetest, child in the world. Only her mother Christine suspects that Rhoda may be a cold-blooded killer. The Bad Seed was nominated for 4 Academy Awards with one win.
24. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Bored with Halloween, The King of Halloweentown Jack Skellington decides that in order to understand his neighbors in Christmas Town he must take the reins of Santa Claus. What ensues is a raucous romp of miscues with a heavy dose ghosts, ghouls, bats, and spiders. Written by Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a perfect Halloween film for all ages.
Giant ants rampage through the New Mexico desert and threaten all of mankind! One of my earliest science fiction film memories, Them solidified my love of giant monster movies. This is one of the best complete with a fine Hollywood cast of James Arness, James Whitmore, and Edmund Gwenn.
22. Fright Night (1985)
I saw this movie back in ’85 as a sneak preview double feature with Romero’s Day of the Dead. Truly one of my best movie outings ever! Fright Night centers on a teenager (William Ragsdale) whose next door neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) turns out to be a vampire. Ragsdale seeks out Peter Vincent (played by the incomparable Roddy McDowell), TV Horror Show Host and Vampire Hunter to aid him in slaying the vampire. A really entertaining film with good scares and wonderful performances all around.
See you in ten days with Part 2!