As All Hallow’s Eve draws close, I realize that some of you want to probably have your horror movie marathons. So I have decided that I will take it upon myself to provide several suggestions for film festivals for you. For the first of those suggestions, let me begin with film series that make for good watching in a block. I mean in reality these are kind of perfect for marathons, you start at the beginning and continue on until the end, or perceived “end”, because as we all know you can’t keep a good monster/murderer down.
The first film series that I would recommend has got to be the Halloween series (original not remake). Not only did the original film start the standard slasher conventions but it is a simple film that still works today. Another advantage is that you have several different viewing options with these films. You have to start with Halloween 1 & 2, both starring Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, then you can watch Halloween 3: Season of the Witch or skip it seeing as it is not connected in any way to the first 2. Or you can watch 1, 2, go to 4 and 5, starring Danielle Harris as Laurie Strode’s nine year old daughter, and go to the Halloween: the Curse of Michael Myers where a young Paul Rudd becomes our hero. Also all of these films feature Donald Pleasance in his signature role as Dr. Sam Loomis. You can stop there or keep going with Halloween H20 (bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis), but I’d stop there because Halloween: Resurrection is not one I particularly care for. Or you can just go for the Jamie Lee Curtis triple threat of Halloween 1, 2 and H20 (this actually makes a kind of sense because Halloween H20 ignores 4, 5, and the Curse of Michael Myers). If you prefer to skip the slow build up used in Halloween and H20, jump directly to Halloween 4, 5, and the Curse of Michael Myers. It really just depends on what you want for your personal fright fest.
While there are several other slasher series that make for great watching as well, most notably Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, I’m a classical kind of guy. Granted some people want to argue that Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Psycho started the slasher film craze but Halloween started most of the conventions that we’ve seen become cliché in the genre.
If you want something a bit more strange, then please by all means sit down in a day and watch all four of Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm series. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a little while probably know that I love these movies. It’s a strange mix of themes, from a very real threat from another world or dimension and no real way to defeat the villain. Coscarelli stated that he wanted to do something similar to Invaders from Mars where a boy sees something he isn’t supposed to and it leads him into this strange adventure. I can very much agree that Phantasm takes some great cues from Invaders but the movie is strange and does not ever really answer all the questions it poses and when it answers one it makes you ask more questions based on the answer. There have been rumors circulating for years about a fifth film but to date none have materialized, but the four that we have are fantastic and a great way to spend a Saturday. So you have an evil “Tall Man” who is opposed by a young teen (who you witness grow up over the course of the films) and a balding ice cream vendor. You’ll see floating spheres of death, zombies driving hearses, small cloaked dwarves, explosions, alien landscapes and some of the most fun home made weapons of any film. So if you want something that’s a bit of a different flavor then pick up the four Phantasm films.
Okay, so you want something a bit more standard, not slasher and not quite out there like the Phantasm films. You want vampires? I can give you vampires. I have two different recommendations depending on your taste. If you are looking for something a bit more modern then may I humbly recommend the Lost Boys trilogy. The first one introduced the concept of the rock star vampire and they have kept updating their monsters in each of the films. The only mainstay of the series is Corey Feldman as Edgar Frog, however we get to see the Frog Brothers back in action in the third film. If you’ve never seen these films then do yourself the favor of checking them out. Now if you are more of a classical vampire kind of guy, then may I suggest Hammer’s Dracula series. This consists of Horror of Dracula, Brides of Dracula, Dracula Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, and Scars of Dracula. There are three additional entries but I tend to classify these as a separate series, Dracula AD 1972, and The Satanic Rites of Dracula are set in the 1970s very different from the Victorian feel of the others, and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires does not have Christopher Lee playing Dracula. Out of the 6 Victorian era films Brides of Dracula does not actually feature Dracula but one of his disciples carrying on, though it does have Peter Cushing reprising the role of Van Helsing from Horror of Dracula. One thing that I do like about the Hammer Dracula films is that they tend to be creative about the manner in which they dispatch Dracula (and bring him back). Very seldom is he dispatched with a stake through the heart, although they do tend to dispatch his vampiric consorts in a bloody display (keep in mind this is the 50’s and 60’s so it’s really fake looking blood but it was gruesome for the times). So there you go if you have a soft spot for a fanged menace you’ve got two choices to make.
So there you have it, I will be putting other recommendations for horror film combinations, mainly based off of my own personal viewing lists. So I’ll be posting others soon but until then you have some suggestions for the self contained serial horror fest. Enjoy and happy watching.