It’s Halloween week, and you know what that means! You forgot to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters! Also you’re probably knee-deep in horror movies because that’s how late October works for movie nerds: We are beholden to watch at least a few extra horror flicks. Now would be a good time to head out to your local theater and enjoy the latest chapter in the Halloween saga (yep, it’s pretty good, and here’s Eric’s review) but since most of our horror film consumption is done at home, let’s start with some new reissues of some classics.
Creepshow — This 1982 anthology comes from the (un)holy collaboration of George A. Romero and literary horror lord Stephen King … and boy does it not disappoint. Easily one of the most admired in the anthology department (along with the classic Dead of Night and and recent cult favorite Trick ‘r Treat), it opens with the goriest Father’s Day ever, ends with an insect invasion you won’t believe, and has all sorts of monsters, murders, and mayhem in between. And since the new Blu-ray edition is from Shout! Factory, it’s loaded with supplemental goodies for the hardcore horror lunatics. Like me.
Halloween II & Halloween III: Season of the Witch — Two more superlative Shout! Factory releases. Michael Myers’ first sequel hit way back in 1981 and offered up a nifty premise that picked up immediately where the original left off — the same night, in the aftermath of Michael’s spree. Basically: a whole lot more stalking, slashing, and screaming, much of it at the Haddonfield hospital. A year later, the producers tried to do a standalone Halloween sequel without their signature villain, and horror fans were not having it. Season of the Witch has gone on to become a bona-fide cult sensation, thanks mainly to its wacky plot and earworm jingle. Both movies arrive with the standard Shout! Factory supplements and some slick steelbook packaging.
Maximum Overdrive — Speaking of Stephen King, here’s the one and only feature he ever directed! Based on his short story “Trucks,” it’s a certifiably insane movie about a world gone wild because machines have decided to strike back. Mostly cars, to be honest, but also soda machines, steamrollers, and water sprinklers, I think. Everyone in this movie screams non-stop and all they do is wildly stupid things. Literally nobody (including the director) would call this a great movie but there’s no denying that it’s full of numerous wacky moments. Plus Lionsgate has treated this kooky cult flick like it’s something out of the Criterion Collection, which means you’ll be treated to all sorts of featurettes and audio commentaries and such.
Sisters — Speaking of the Criterion Collection, here’s an early Brian De Palma flick that doesn’t get all that much attention, but it is a consistently creepy psychological thriller that turned out to be the director’s big breakout. It’s a very Hitchcockian tale about a reporter who witnesses a murder but then cannot prove her claims, and it features some fantastic work from leading ladies Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt. And of course Criterion has unearthed some fantastic archival material to supplement the film, including a feature-length Q&A session with the director from a 1972 film festival. Great stuff.
Evil Dead — This unexpectedly well-received 2013 remake of the indie classic is back on home video with an even nastier “unrated” edition! Frankly, the theatrical cut (which is also included in the 2-disc set, along with a director’s commentary and other behind-the-scenes featurettes) was plenty gruesome enough, but Sony has quickly realized that there are quite a few fans of the Fede Alvarez revisit — it made close to $100 million worldwide and is “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes — and that’s why we get multiple releases like this one. Personally, I’m a little curious to see how much nastier this flick could actually get…
Night of the Living Dead — Sony unleashes another solid old remake. Gore-master Tom Savini got into the director’s chair for this 1990 reboot of George Romero 1968 genre-defining classic, and while it didn’t make much of a splash 28 years ago, it has gone on to earn its fair share of fans. Truth be told, this remake is probably best suited as part of a double feature with the original. It may not be smarter than the original film, but it sure is gorier.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers — The original 1956 classic gets a new release (one that’s loaded with extra goodies) from Olive Films, and it’s as quietly creepy as you remember from your childhood. Kevin McCarthy stars as a man who slowly comes to realize that, yes, alien pod creatures are murdering and replacing everyone in town. Pair this one with Philip Kaufman’s 1978 brilliant remake and you’ve got one long night of suspense and paranoia.
You want something on Netflix? Sure! Check out the grim and fascinating period piece called Apostle, which is a lot like the original Wicker Man in the coolest ways, and then settle in for ten full episodes of The Haunting of Hill House, which is easily one of the most engrossing and accomplished pieces of long-form horror storytelling I’ve seen in quite some time. This series comes from Mike Flanagan the director behind Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Gerald’s Game, so you know you’re in good hands here, scare-wise. And while it’s definitely not a horror film, genre fans of all kinds will no doubt soon fall madly in love with the Indonesian action flick called The Night Comes for Us. It’s like a classic film noir combined with the best action scenes from The Raid and The Raid 2, and you simply will not believe how much insane, gory mayhem can be jammed into one two-hour movie. It’s a whole lot of fun.
Over on Shudder they’ve got four brand-new terror tales from around the globe: Terrified (from Argentina), Satan’s Slaves (from Indonesia), The Witch in the Window (from Canada) and a great little piece of creepy nostalgia called Summer of ’84. They’ve also got Mandy on the way, which you really should have seen by now. It’s truly insane.