Monday, 31 October 2011

Editorial : Halloween Tricks 'N' Treats 1 - Essential Cinema

It's that time of year again, when golden leaves dance in the streets on the biting Autumn winds. When shadows loom larger as all manner of ghouls, goblins, witches and ghosts come out to play, and when kids and adults everywhere recognise the customs of old, and celebrate accordingly...It's Halloween!

This is by far my favorite time of year. I love the ambiance, the sense of mystery, the long cold nights, the howling winds whistling through the trees. I love the store front windows filled with seasonal goodies; monster masks, macabre toys, creepy decorations and pumpkins of all sizes just waiting to be carved into fearsome Jack-O-Lanterns. I love the sound of children's laughter as they happily carry on the traditions of their parents. I just love it. Its the time of year when I feel most alive, and most content. You can keep your Santa, your Easter Bunny and your New Year Bells. All I need is a shrill howling wind in the fall, a bunch of Horror-loving friends over for drinks and a seance, and I'm about as happy as a man can be.....almost.....

No Halloween party is complete without at least a few seasonal cinematic shockers. As the party winds down, the hangovers kick in and the costumes begin to inspire true horror, its time to dim the lights and throw on a few classics....

We all have our own particular Halloween favourites. Some go for 50's Sci-Fi, some go for the Hammer Classics or the Universal back catalogue. Me, I go for films that represent the season in its purest form. These are films I can watch all year and be transported back to my most beloved time of year, but on All Hallows Eve, these films are a MUST.

When I think of all the fun things I associate with our holiday, there are a select few films that immediately spring to mind. Some old and some modern. All of them bring me back to a time when my childhood self was entranced by the season. These are very personal films for me. They symbolise comfort and innocence, even while having the power to frighten and unnerve, in some cases. These are my Halloween essentials. The films that, without which, no Samhain in my 'dojo' will ever be complete.....


Hilarious, sexy, cheesy as hell, gore-filled and 100% medically old-school....NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a great film for all those ill-advised chemical and drink fuelled teen's, (and all the adults who should know better). It has brilliant gore effects, a perfect Halloween setting and an ever-prevalent air of the ridiculous that makes it a beer-soaked delight. This was the film we all watched as drunken teens, and were never really able to shake as we grow older in body, but not in mind. Its as crass as they come, but its spooky setting and constant visual references to the season make it a firm favorite for party animals everywhere. Demonic possession has never been so irresistible.


Yes, its a great film. Yes, it has Leslie Neilson in a serious role. Yes, it as wonderful special effects and an intelligent plot. Yes, its a Sci-Fi classic. But a Halloween classic? It is in my house. Ever since I was a kid and found myself terrified and delighted by HALLOWEEN, the soundtrack has been something of an obsession for me. Yet its not only Carpenters amazing score that brings the chills so effectively. Its the ambiance. As Laurie and the kids are innocently enjoying their holiday, and you and I are horribly aware that evil is lurking nearby, we hear a plethora of strange oscillations and sound effects. They become a subliminal form of menace that's every bit as vital as the main score. Laurie and her wards watch two films that night, and both merit a place here. One is THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, (which Carpenter himself later remade into one of the genre greatest works), and the other, is FORBIDDEN PLANET. Viewing this film isn't the point here. For me, its a soundtrack that sets my imagination on fire. Every time I hear it on Halloween night, it becomes very easy for me to imagine someone outside, in the darkness, watching. Someone with a William Shatner mask, a large butcher knife and an unsavoury Halloween tradition all his own; which brings us to....


A film that needs no introduction. HALLOWEEN lives and breathes the seasons customs, atmosphere and sense of peril. I first saw this masterpiece alone at home when I was somewhere around eight or nine, and its been a firm favourite ever since. Micheal Myers scared the bejeesus out of all of us when we were first introduced to him all those years ago, and no amount of terrible sequels or thoughtless remakes will ever distill the primal power of his debut. Cinema rarely reaches this level of perfection. Its simple plot, dread inducing atmosphere and pinpoint sharp observation of the holidays dark side make it a timeless classic. The film and the holiday have become inseparable, and no other film has ever matched its sense of seasonal atmosphere. No other film, that is, until.......


Where HALLOWEEN takes a serious look at the holiday, this one parties with it till morning, and then some. An instant Halloween essential since its release a few years the few who actually seen it. Warner Brothers insane handling of this film denied it a truly massive following, (they held it's release back for years, and refused a theater release altogether. Morons). This film gave the season its first bona-fide mascot, in 'Sam'. The diminutive psychopathic spirit of Samhain, who takes the customs of the night VERY seriously. T'R'T is a time machine. A perfect encapsulation of what made Halloween so magical and frightening as a child, and what makes it so damn appealing as an adult. Every single frame bleeds autumnal atmosphere. Every moment is a pitch perfect rendition of what Halloween once was, and occasionally still can be. The whole movie is one long love letter to the holiday, and manages to be clever, creepy, and very intelligent as it gushes over our favourite night. Zombies, killers, masked madmen, vampires, ghosts, werewolves...they're all here, and share space with moments that so accurately portray the holiday, its appropriately uncanny. It's shocking this work isn't far more widely adored. I have no doubt, though, that in the future, it will loved and cherished each Halloween just as A CHRISTMAS STORY is each Christmas. Passionate word of mouth will carry TRICK 'R' TREAT into legendary status as the years roll on. You can count on it....

Hope you enjoyed the little list, guys. And hope your Halloween is every bit as frightening, fun-filled and fang-tastic as you deserve it to be. And remember, keep the Jack-O-Lanterns lit, leave out treats for the young, and always check your candy!!!!!



  1. A couple of classic faves in there.:) Hey, I don't know if you'd be interested, but I posted a horror story I wrote and recorded here:

    It's gotten some positive feedback, so maybe you'll like it, too. Think of it as a little horror appetizer before your main course.;) Enjoy and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

  2. Kyle I said it before and I'll say it again. You are the best at this. Perfect!!!

    p.s. do you do Guy Fawkes Night,I would love to know more about it

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  4. Thanks, Rich! hope u all enjoyed the article, and hope you all had a blast on our fave day! I'm going to listen to your story tonight, Max. Looking forward to it. Thank you x