Everyone seems to be a horror fan during the second half of October, but they always seem to pick the same movies; either the tired classics from the ’70s and ’80s (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween) that we’ve all seen a million times over, or one of those damn Saw movies. Forget those boring standbys. Here are some oughta be classics that you really should pop in the DVD player this Halloween.
Crawlspace (David Schmoeller, 1986)
The legendary (and legendarily crazy) Klaus Kinski is probably barely acting in this low-budget slasher, in which he stars as a sadistic landlord who MacGuyer’s the hell out of his apartment building so he can torment his tenants.
Tales From The Crypt (Freddie Francis, 1972)
The first movie based on the comic book, this rarely seen anthology piece features not only a zombie Peter Cushing but also a freaking hot-as-hell Joan Collins in a way-too-tight sweater on the run from a killer Santa Claus.
Alone In The Dark (Jack Sholder, 1982)
No, not the Uwe Boll monstrosity based on the video game (Why would you think that, what’s wrong with you?) but a little-seen 1982 that stars Jack Palance and Martin Landau as a pair of psychos who bust out of a mental hospital and cause all kinds of mayhem as they go after their doctor (Dwight Schultz – Barclay from various Star Trek shows). While Landau and Palance were certainly slumming it with this low-budget slasher, it doesn’t show in their performances. Both take their crazy to 11 here.
Pieces (Juan Piquer Simón, 1982)
Man, 1982 was an awesome year for crazy-ass horror flicks. Totally the second-best movie ever made about a chainsaw-wielding nutjob, Pieces is one of the most exploitative and offensive slasher films of the 80s, and features one hell of a bisecting. Arms fly off, torsos get removed, and one water-bed really gets ruined. Its one case where the tagline really says it all, “Pieces: It’s exactly what you think it is.”
Phenomena (aka Creepers) (Dario Argento, 1985)
Everyone always says that Suspiria is Dario Argento’s masterpiece, but does that movie have a psychic/sleepwalking/jail bait 15-year-old Jennifer Connelly helping a forensic entomologist played by Donald Pleasence (who is also in Alone In the Dark) track down a serial killer? How about a murderous helper chimp and a soundtrack that features Motorhead and Iron Maiden? I didn’t think so.
New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci, 1982)
Italian director Lucio Fulci (the man who brought us a film where a zombie fights a shark) goes to the Big Apple for this disgusting slice of sleaze that also came out in 1982. Sure, there are a lot of low-brow, exploitive movies about serial killers. But how many others feature a killer who quacks like a duck? Seriously, the killer in this flick sounds like Donald Duck.
Just Before Dawn (Jeff Lieberman, 1981)
Stupid teenagers go camping in the middle of nowhere and a duo of inbred mountain men decide to have some fun. The only person who can save them is George Kennedy, so they’re totally screwed. This movie is way better at being Friday the 13th than Friday the 13th ever was.
Trick ‘r’ Treat (Michael Dougherty, 2007)
An ensemble cast that includes Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker and Brian Cox star in this criminally under-seen should-be classic that perfectly weaves together humor, horror, and super-sexy werewolves. The greatest Halloween-themed horror film since John Carpenter’s Halloween.
Blue Sunshine (Jeff Lieberman, 1976)
This is one trippy flick, which is appropriate considering it’s about bad acid that turns ex-hippies into bald psychotic killers. Maybe that explains Sinead O’Connor? From the same director as Just Before Dawn (although sadly lacking George Kennedy).
The Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires (Roy Ward Baker, 1974)
Kung Fu warriors and Peter Cushing battle a low-rent Dracula and his band of Chinese zombie/vampires in this incredibly bizarre British/Hong Kong co-production. It’s not scary per say, but it does feature some pretty great 70s kung fu, plenty of cheesy bright-red fake blood and more barely dressed damsels in distress than you can shake a wooden stake at.