Things That Go Bump in the Night….and a Couple That Don’t! – By Brian Morton

Since it’s Halloween, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some movies that, I think, will scare the crap out of you, and a couple that won’t. Now, since this is a very subjective topic, you’re bound to be yelling at me saying that what I think is scary, really isn’t all that scary and what I think isn’t scary, really is. So don’t take it out on the editor of this fine magazine, please feel free to direct all obscene and rude email to me at brian@badmovieguy.com, and who knows maybe you’ve seen a great movie that I’ve never seen and I’ll agree with you.

Now, with the disclaimer done, how about a couple of movies that might scare the crap outta you during the time of the festival of the dead. The first movie that will come to your mind whenever you think of Halloween is, of course, “Halloween.” Now, if you’ve seen it a thousand times, like I have, you might be able to sit through it without a whole lot of reaction, but think back to the first time you saw it: Michael Meyers with those dead eyes looking out of that creepy William Shatner mask and chasing Jamie Lee Curtis around with a knife. Then you have Donald Pleasance chasing Mike around Haddonfield and yelling about him being the embodiment of evil and having no soul. In Halloween, the tension builds slowly, but once there, it never lets up! This is classic horror at it’s best, with tons of memorable movie moments such as: The tombstone on the bed over the dead babysitter, the knitting needle to Mike’s throat, and him coming back to life afterward. Then there’s the ending that let’s you know the killer is still out there…somewhere! If this movie doesn’t scare you, then you should check your pulse, you may be dead already!
Now, if masked maniacs aren’t your cup of tea (or bucket of blood since it’s Halloween) how about a little movie called “Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer.” It’s not all that gory and the special effects are pretty low budget, but about half way through this you’ll start feeling like you need a shower. This has been described as more of a ‘how to’ movie than a horror movie, and you know what, they’re right! This was given an X rating for ‘moral tone’ and once you sit through it you’ll know why. It’s like getting a lesson from your friendly neighborhood serial killer on the best way to kill someone, the best way to choose a victim, how to get rid of your murder weapon, the care and disposal of your newly dead victims and, of course, how to keep from being caught. It’s a weird movie with a weirder ending that will have your skin crawling, unless you are one of the aforementioned deceased.
Maybe you don’t like movies that are that close to reality, maybe a good monster movie is up your alley, then, might I suggest Jeepers Creepers? This is a great movie that starts off like your run of the mill ‘slasher chasing kids for no good reason’ movie. Then about half way through the killer is revealed to be a giant winged monster from hell who needs to devour human body parts to stay alive! How’s that for scary? This guy’s got wings, for God’s sake! And when he gets injured he’s got to find a victim and steal that part of his body to heal up. So, when our evil winged monster gets his arm hurt, he’s got to find someone, preferably a teenager, and rip his arm off and eat it! And once you think you’ve figured out how this little piece of horror will end, they’ve got a little twist planned for you that makes the whole movie just that much better. I know you think you’ve seen it all before, but this is pretty much one of a kind, and by that I mean don’t even think of watching the sequel because it stinks on ice.
How about one more for good measure? If you’re like me, you enjoy a good chainsaw massacre and, while a lot of people don’t like the original or the “reimagining” for scares, how about “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2?” For a sequel, Tobe Hooper did a pretty good job here. In the first half of the movie there’s a chainsaw through the head, gratuitous Dennis Hopper, and a sequence where the ‘Sawyer’ family chases a female DJ through a radio station at night during one of the most intense and scary scenes in any horror movie. Add into that the creepy character ‘Chop Top’ and you’ve got a sequel that at least matches, if not surpasses the original. Plus this is the one that introduces the line “The saw is family”, which happens to be one of my favorite movie lines of all time and it ends with our heroine having been tormented into insanity doing the chainsaw wielding! This is by far one of the best sequels ever made, and you’ll never look at your chili in the same way again…. I won’t say any more about that.
Now, having told you about a few of my favorite Halloween scares, you might decide to you out and rent a couple of good old fashioned horror movies for your own personal Halloween festivities. You’d think that all you’d have to do is go down to your local video store, find the horror section and just grab a couple of movies, right? Well, it’s not that easy my friend! There are a lot of movies in that horror section that really aren’t, what you call, horrible. For instance, “The Blair Witch Project.” Now, while this is a great concept, the execution lacked something fierce. For one thing, the shaky cam thing was played out when they did this movie, but these guys took that cam and shook it like it was a polaroid picture, if you know what I mean. And, there are way too many scenes in the dark; maybe someone should’ve brought a flashlight into the woods for their little camping adventure! Then to top everything off, just when it’s getting good, we’re in the basement, we’ve found the missing guy, he’s standing silently in the corner in the room with his back to us and suddenly the movie is over. What’s up with that? Here’s a little clue for all you horror movie makers out there: When you talk about a monster through the whole movie, and you name the movie after that monster, then you should be obliged, by law, to show your audience that monster before the movie is over. I mean, for a “Blair Witch Project,” there really wasn’t a sign of any witches that I could see, of course, the lights were turned off for about half the movie, so maybe that’s when the witch showed up.
Then, there’s the excellently named and poorly executed “House Of 1000 Corpses.” With a title like that you’d wonder how things could go wrong, but there’s so many that did, and it would take too long to list them all here. First of all the much talked about Dr. Satan turns out to be a guy in makeup who really doesn’t do anything. There’s another guy who’s underground with Dr. Satan who seems scary and we run from him, but I never found out his name and he never really does anything to speak about. This movie started with a TON of promise. It was directed by Rob Zombie, has a great title, and a premise that seemed sound. It’s got kids alone in the middle of nowhere, a story about a local serial killer named Dr. Satan who mysteriously disappeared years ago, a mean guy in a clown suit, and an insane family in a secluded house. But then, suddenly, for some thinly scripted reason we’re underground, and there’s people down there, and while it’s creepy and dark and very cool looking, none of these people seem to be corpses! So for a “House of 1000 Corpses,” I only counted about three. Maybe it was really an accounting issue? And, then there’s a great scene when a deputy is shot behind the house. If you can sit though this, you can sit though anything. It’s not gross, or scary, but it seems to be the longest single shot ever and it’s filmed from about a mile away from the actors! Even in the theatre, someone yelled, ‘Alright, enough already!’ It’s kind of sad really, from the beginning this looks like something to rival Texas Chainsaw for it’s sheer unrelenting violence and horror, but I guess Rob must’ve run out of money or something, because the promise from early in the movie really peters out and turns into nothing.
Perhaps you’re thinking about one of those Chucky movies that seem to be coming back into style. Now, I enjoy these as much as the next B-movie aficionado, but let’s be honest. Child’s Play is really about nothing more than a killer cabbage patch doll, and, honestly, how scary is that? If you really need an answer to that question, the answer is, IT’S NOT. While the premise here, when the movie was new, was very original. An escaped serial killer uses voodoo to put his soul into a doll to escape the police, only to find that if he doesn’t move into a real body soon, he’ll be trapped in the doll’s body forever. Trapped in the Chucky doll, our killer is bought and given to Andy. The killer decides to do the voodoo ritual to take over Andy’s body, but every time he tries someone gets in the way and the little doll starts killing people five times his size! Now, I know it’s a movie and I’m supposed to suspend my disbelief, but I really have a hard time imagining a scenario where I wouldn’t just throw this doll into the fire and tell the wife, ‘Honey, that damned doll tried to stab me so I had to burn it. I think I’ll buy little Andy a GI Joe, they’ve never tried to kill me before.’ While this is a well put together movie with a cool premise, is it scary? I don’t think so!

Now you might agree or disagree with me and that’s the beauty of horror movies. What I might like you may think is the dumbest thing ever. What might seem really scary to me and what I think is dumbest thing ever might make you wet your pants with fright. But, at least, we all agree that it’s that special time of year when we need to get out blood pumping by being chased through a haunted house by some weirdo in a bad mask, or just rent those movies that scared the living crap out of us when we were kids. So, whether it’s a Texas Chainsaw or a cabbage patch doll that makes your blood run cold, remember that it’s Halloween and the dead walk the earth and rug-rats will be begging soon, so the safest place to be might just be curled up in front of your TV with your favorite horror movie… or one of mine.

Happy Halloween everyone!!!!