At last, October is here, and like any other horror fan, I have an excuse to binge watch Halloween themed movies. Since October is one of my favorite times of year, this entry will provide some extra treats.
In previous months, I have compiled three movies per post. This statement excludes September when I uploaded my first “Double Feature” blog. Instead of this entry being a triple, or “Double Feature,” I have compiled a list of five seasonal movies. From this moment forward, I will call blogs of this extent, “Bloody Binge Blogs.”
As one may know, there are tons of great Halloween themed horror movies. Because of these vast options, I pondered how to narrow my list to five movies. After debate, I decided to focus on titles that didn’t receive the love they deserved upon release.
“Halloween 3: Season of the Witch” was the ultimate trick on the Michael Myers fandom. Why? Because it didn’t star Michael Myers. Due to this abstraction, diehards booed its anthology concept, and to this day, some pretend this sequel never happened. Nonetheless, I admire “Season of the Witch” as a solid horror film that embodies the spirit of the season.
The movie opens with an action sequence where a man named Harry is being chased. Following a scuffle, and a crushing moment, he outsmarts his attackers, and runs to safety. Thereafter, Dr. Challis, arrives at work where Harry undergoes his care. Although it seems Harry is safe, a mysterious stranger sneaks into his room.
After Harry endures a skull splitting death, his daughter, Ellie, approaches Dr. Challis. Distraught, and without anyone left to trust, she requests he help solve her father’s murder. Still, intrigued by the crime, and determined to bring justice, he agrees to assist.
Eventually, their investigation leads them to Santa Mira, CA, home of Silver Shamrock Novelties. Throughout the years, Silver Shamrock has gained a famous popularity for their products. This year, they have outdone themselves by producing a line of mind-blowing masks.
As clues lead the duo to the Silver Shamrock factory, they create an alias to gain behind the scenes access. Once inside, they discover a catastrophe of epic proportion is soon to commence. If they don’t act fast, every child wearing a Silver Shamrock mask will die on Halloween night.
Though I adore Michael Myers, I wish Carpenter and Hill were able to pursue their anthology vision with the series. The reason I say this is because the possibilities of where the franchise could go were endless. Yet, due to the hate “Season of the Witch” received, we will never know what else Carpenter and Hill were brewing.
Message wise, this nihilistic movie is about occultists and child endangerment. Created in the rise of the “Satanic Panic” this sequel plays on the fear of occult propaganda. In specifics, it portrays occultists celebrating the holiday by sacrificing children. With this concept, rather than harming a few children, the writers create a nationwide frenzy by utilizing capitalism and television.
In this era, the farfetched urban legend of razorblade spiked candy circulated. However, the real danger was the television, which produced irrational fanaticism. Since the dangers of “Halloween 3” stem from a TV commercial, the overall message is simple. As a family, all one must do to enjoy the holiday is to turn off their TV.
“Trick or Treat” is an underrated gem that produced a hellraising soundtrack and a fun cast. Among cast members there are two cameos. One is Gene Simmons, who plays a Wolfman Jack style DJ. The other is Ozzy Osbourne, who plays as a fanatical reverend. Add to that mix: sex, death, and rock and roll, and the end result is a heavy metal, Halloween classic.
The plot focuses on high school outcast, Eddie, who has endured constant bullying. Seeing as he is unpopular and has no one to relate to, he writes his heavy metal idol, Sammi Curr. In his letters, he relays his troubles, figuring Sammi can sympathize since he attended Eddie’s school. Before Eddie can mail his latest letter, the TV hits him with devastating news. Sammi has died in a mysterious fire.
To be among someone who understands his pain, Eddie visits his radio DJ friend, Nuke. Once seeing Eddie’s mournful state, Nuke gifts him the only copy of Sammi’s new and unreleased album. Though Eddie feels guilty taking the rarity, Nuke urges otherwise. To entice him, Nuke explains he duplicated the record and he will play it as a tribute on Halloween night. Without further argument, Eddie accepts the present.
At home, Eddie plays the album and falls asleep to the music. Minutes later, he awakes from a nightmare which reveals what happened to Sammi. Coming to, he notices the record player’s needle has skipped on a peculiar lyric of the album. Transfixed by the words, he investigates and plays the record backwards. Doing so causes him to discover Sammi is communicating from beyond the grave.
As the two bond, Sammi helps Eddie exact his revenge against his bullies. At first, the revenge is nothing more than harmless pranks. But as Eddie continues to play with fire, the revenge becomes malevolent. After one of the pranks result in murder, Eddie decides he is in over his head as he never wanted to kill anyone. Though determined to end his relationship with Sammi, he soon realizes Sammi isn’t ready to part ways.
As a child, I jumped into the mosh pit of “Trick or Treat” without plot context. What drew me into its viewing was nothing more than admiring its cover art while shelved at a video rental. By the time the movie concluded, my black heart extended its love to another B rated classic. Also, I grew happier when I discovered the movie spawned a soundtrack, which I still listen to today.
While focused on the movie’s music, the point of “Trick or Treat” takes center stage. Screaming at high velocity, this rock and roll nightmare comments on how parents and churches feared heavy metal was the devil’s doorway. Furthermore, it notes the irrational fear of heavy metal producing harmful subliminal messages. To defend the music, there’s a scene regarding Sammi speaking to a censorship board. This scene pays homage to when Dee Snider defended the genre when confronted by the PMRC.
Unlike the nihilism in “Halloween 3,” this satire laughs at “Satanic Panic” propaganda. In particular, it mocks those who blame music for criminal behavior. To prove using music as a scapegoat is unjust, the movie provides a heroic metalhead protagonist. Perhaps the overall message is not to stereotype people who walk to a different drumbeat.
“Dark Night of the Scarecrow” was a made for TV movie that aired in October 1981. If one is a fan of nostalgia horror, this slasher is a bountiful field of screams. It provides American Gothic eye candy, vintage Halloween décor, and a slasher dressed as a rustic scarecrow. Among everything listed, a whodunit theme keeps viewers guessing until the end credits.
Taking place in a Southern backwoods town, this plot introduces two friends. One, a young child, Marylee; the other, a mentally handicapped man, Bubba. Although many see their friendship as a perverse threat, their companionship is benevolent.
One day, as they are playing together, Bubba rescues Marylee from a dog attack. Having endured injury and stress, she faints. Since the movie depicts Bubba as having the mentality of a child, he is scared and confused. Without understanding what to do, he takes Marylee to her mother for help. Yet, upon seeing her lifeless daughter, she assumes Bubba has brutalized her.
Considering this is a small town, the rumor mill begins spinning and assumptions spread. Not until the postman, Otis, receives word of the tragedy do things become deadly. For a long time, Otis has wanted to see Bubba hang due to presuming he is a danger to society. Seizing the moment, he gathers up a posse, and hunts down the unlikely hero, who has run home to his mother, Mrs. Ritter.
Since Bubba and his mother have endured harassment before, she already has a plan in mind. Speaking to him in a manner that he can comprehend, she encourages him to play, “The Hiding Game.” This prompts Bubba to run to their field and disguise himself as a scarecrow. Nonetheless, Otis, and his band of good ole boys, find him and unload their guns upon their discovery. Afterwards, they receive notice that Bubba saved Marylee’s life.
When the case goes to court, Otis and his men have devised a scheme to appear as law abiding citizens. Due to who they know, and unethical politics, the court finds them not guilty. As they get away with murder, Mrs. Ritter warns, “There’s other justice in this world besides the law.” A few scenes after this revelation, a faceless killer begins picking off the good ole boys one by one.
Upon my first viewing, I knew this movie would become an annual revisit during October. Not only does it harvest all elements of the season, it’s the granddaddy of the killer scarecrow genre. While plot and characters keep viewers planted in their seats, symbolism is relevant.
Aside from nostalgia, the scarecrow is the ultimate fall symbol. In many cultures, scarecrows have diverse and unique backstories. No matter its origin, the scarecrow has one purpose – to protect. Throughout the story, revenge is the key component. But as the movie progresses, the killer scarecrow represents protection. Supporting this is the scarecrow’s guardian angel portrayal over Marylee. Also, by the scarecrow eliminating the good ole boys, there is a twofold. Not only is justice served, but the good ole boys can no longer harm others.
The movie’s overall theme focuses on the underhandedness among tight knit communities. By how the lenient court, and townspeople, treat the good ole boys, discrimination is blatant. Such as one might see a crime dismissed if the victim was a racial, or gender minority, the same is portrayed here. By assumption, if Bubba wasn’t handicapped, his death would have received legal justice.
“Night of the Demons” is the perfect Halloween, punk rock, splatter flick. As a child, I hesitated renting this sleeper due to its cover art appearing too ghastly. Years later, as a seasoned gorehound, I slammed down my three dollars and fifty cents at the video rental and braved its footage. After doing so, I became bedeviled by its story, characters, soundtrack, and its bizarre scenes of murder and possession.
Before the plot’s reveal, a subplot concerning an old, cantankerous man enters perspective. Appalled and disgusted by the future generation, he feels all youths are doomed. Opposing his pessimism, the lead protagonist, Judy, offers to assist him when he drops his groceries. Despite her generosity, he blesses her out for being trash, which she is anything but.
Directing attention away from the old man, the plot follows Judy. From here, she speaks with her boyfriend, Jay, to discover he has canceled their plans to the school dance. Instead, he has accepted an invite for them to attend a Halloween party hosted by the class misfit, Angela. Already apprehensive, her alarm worsens when discovering the bash is at Hull House. Despite they are to party in an abandoned mortuary with a grisly past, she swallows her fear to please Jay.
Once everyone arrives at Hull House, the night goes from bad to worst. Judy’s ex-boyfriend, Sal, has crashed the shindig and not long thereafter, their radio dies. Determined to have a hell of a night, Angela leads her guests into a séance. The results of their attempt is a pure success. But by their accomplishment, they have opened a doorway to the underworld. Because of their careless dabbling, things that never existed in human form soon crash their party.
“Night of the Demons” is full of iconic moments. Noteworthy scenes include: Suzanne’s lipstick nipple penetration, Angela’s possession dance, and a delicious finale featuring apple pie. Also, the dialogue is pure gold with unforgettable one liners. One of my personal favorites is the line about “sour balls.”
Among the cast, almost everyone is ripe for the demons’ picking. Example: Angela dabbles in mysticism, Suzanne is vain and promiscuous, Jay is conceited, Franny and Max practice premarital sex, Stooge is a male chauvinist, Sal is hostile, and Helen is a pushover. One way, or another, each character’s downfall makes them easy prey. Opposing everyone’s shortcomings is Judy and Rodger. Both are innocent persons who are strong willed, when they have to be. Due of their purity, the demons are intent on tormenting them.
In this old fashioned tale of good vs. evil, a final girl, and a final boy, walkaway. Still, no matter what they endured, the old man from the beginning shames them as they walk down the street. But little does he know, their survival contradicts his doom generation philosophy. Perhaps the overall message is the future generation isn’t as bad as what one may perceive.
“Tricks or Treats” is perhaps the least popular title on this compilation. While not the most original, gory, or frightening, it is full of camp and it is holiday festive. Despite the horror fandom telling me to stay away from this title, I watched it on Amazon Prime. When finished, I enjoyed it as a dark comedy rather than a horror flick.
The movie opens at breakfast, and introduces husband and wife, Malcolm and Joan. In solitude, they are sitting on their back patio, enjoying the morning. However, little does Malcolm know Joan is waiting on the asylum to come collect him. When the orderlies arrive to apprehend him, the character dysfunction sets the theme.
Fast forward and Joan has remarried. Compared to her institutionalized ex, her new husband is suave and wealthy. At last, living her desired life, she and her new husband have received an invitation to a Halloween party. Not passing by the opportunity, they hire a babysitter, Linda, to watch Joan’s biological son. But, unbeknownst to Linda, Joan’s son, Christopher is no ordinary child. He’s an aspiring magician and a posterchild for safe sex.
Once the evening commences, Linda begins her babysitting duty. For the first few minutes alone, she doesn’t realize what she has gotten herself into. Then Christopher’s pranks begin and they are endless. Lucky for him, Linda is gullible and falls for all of his shenanigans.
Amidst Christopher’s antics, Linda’s night is about to worsen. As she is being tortured by the spawn of Satan, Malcolm has escaped the mental institution. Having endured a wrongful incarceration, he wants vengeance. By the time he invades the household, Linda has grown immune to Christopher’s pranks. Now, dismissing every sound and action, she doesn’t realize she is in danger, until it’s too late.
Throughout the decades, “Trick or Treats” has been labeled a slasher film. But I would argue otherwise due to its low body count. Plus, two of its three deaths occur offscreen. In regards to its low likability, I feel the movie’s failure lies within its marketing. If this was advertised as a dark comedy, it could have provoked more favoritism. If one tries this movie out, don’t expect gore, or fun death scenes. Instead, expect underhanded comedy.
The point of the movie is easy to decipher. As spelled out by Linda to Christopher, this movie is an adulterated variation of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Except rather than the antagonists being a wolf and bored peasant boy, it’s a lunatic and a privileged brat.
Another aspect of the movie reflects poor parenting. Due to how Christopher behaves, and how his parents coddle him, one sees the downfalls of neglected discipline. If one has ever needed a reminder to wear a condom, or take birth control, “Trick or Treats” is the movie to watch.
On this list, the only two features suitable for young adults is “Dark Night of the Scarecrow,” and “Trick or Treats.” Otherwise, this compilation features gore, sex, and explicit language.
I hope everyone enjoyed my first “Bloody Binge Blog” and I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween.
Don’t feel too alarmed if one of your favorite Halloween movies aren’t listed. Next year will provide more titles.