Top 10 Halloween Favorites
I’m taking some time off from work and blogging and heading out to Maine to enjoy the fall scenery. This might be my last post for a few weeks (unless I’m tempted to write a review for the new Thing movie). Just wingin’ it, here’s my list of the Top 10 Halloween Favorites:
- Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Many horror purests dislike this film because it made fun of Universal’s monsters and signaled the end of the classic monster era. However, I consider it one of the finest examples of melding horror and comedy ever made. It works primarily due to Lugosi’s engaging performance as the count, a terrific supporting cast, sharp writing and pacing and funny gags. It’s also tremendously entertaining. To me, A&C Meet Franky is to Halloween what It’s a Wonderful Life is to Christmas.
- The Thing from Another World (1951). John Carpenter liked this film so much the kids in Halloween (1978) are watching it the night the shape attacks, and he later re-made it as The Thing (1981). I still favor Howard Hawk’s version for the rapid dialogue, cast and plot of a group of stranded military ilk and scientists battling a monster at the north pole. Hawk’s wisely cast James Arness as a humanoid alien rather than a shape-shifting entity. The monster delivers and the film works. The Thing from Another World is my favorite sci-fi film largely due to the horror elements.
- Night of the Living Dead (1968). Still my favorite zombie movie. Don’t watch a crappy public domain print (or worse, the 30th Anniversary Print with modern shot footage!). Look for the THX optimized Elite Entertainment DVD. NOTLD still packs a punch after all these years.
- The Wolf Man (1941). Probably the finest cast ever assembled for a horror film, with Lon Chaney, Jr, Claude Raines, Bela Lugosi (in a small but effective part), Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Evelyn Ankers (HOWL) and Maria Ouspenskaya. Curt Siodmak’s screenplay in unforgettable. Don’t waste your time on the remake.
- Horror of Dracula (1958). My pick of the Hammer films. Lee made an ominous Count Dracula.
- The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Probably the finest horror film ever made. Bride is a great film and an American classic. The film is layered with such depth that it is singularly unique. I don’t know of any film quite like it. Everything clicks. My only quibble is Una O’Connor’s screaming and comic relief. What a wonderful film. Pretorius: To a new world of gods and monsters!
- Cat People (1942). Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur’s first teaming resulted in art. This film has directly influenced horror films for over 70 years through inclusion of a startling scene where a bus pulls up and scares the audience. The pool sequence still holds ups! For fun, count the number of times you see an image of a cat. Not for all tastes. Many horror aficionados consider Val Lewton films to be slow (nothing is really ever shown).
- Halloween (1978). One of the best slasher film ever made. Donald Pleasence is unforgettable as Dr. Loomis. That’s a Captain Kirk mask Michael wears!
- The Black Cat (1934). Lugosi and Karloff’s first teaming. The ending is shocking. Edgar Ulmer’s quirky direction and John Mescall’s cinematography are highlights, but this film is all about the two horror heavies. The Black Cat might be my favorite horror film.
- Horror Express (1972). I reached on this one, but couldn’t resist including another Cushing and Lee film. Horror Express is a brilliant, face-paced film that pits Lee and Cushing versus a mysterious alien entity on a trans-siberian passenger train. Look for the new DVD and BR out this month!