Patrick Lacey, author of Bone Saw, Sleep Paralysis, Practitioners, and more drops in to talk Freddy Krueger, Halloween-themed breakfast cereals, and much more.
Our Halloween sale has been a big success. I’m extending it ONE MORE DAY. Today, November 1st, you can shake off your Halloween Hangover with a few more inexpensive but high-quality horror books, include our latest release Hive, the critically acclaimed Creeping Waves, and our most popular title High Strange Horror!
4. Halloween (1978). A re-telling of classic urban legends, made classic itself. It re-invented the modern slasher, established tropes and techniques that are still used today, and remains an incredibly enjoyable, simple-yet-scary film. Almost too simple, I suppose, for people who mistake horror for jump scares. And that’s too bad. Donald Pleasance is sublime as the apocalyptic Dr. Loomis, and Jamie Lee Curtis is both vulnerable and capable. Sometimes, the best movies are the ones that do one thing (in this case, create a sense of impending doom), and do that one thing flawlessly. What makes The Shape so terrifying is that we don’t really understand who or what he is, beyond a few paranoid, rambling declarations of doom from Dr. Loomis. That makes him very frightening—he’s a ghostly figure that simply shows up in your life, unbidden and uninvited. Rob Zombie’s recent remake isn’t bad, but it undercuts the mystique around The Shape by giving him an extensive (and occasionally sympathetic) backstory, and trades the suspense of the original for bloody violence.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Tobe Hooper’s legendary film “inspired by true events” (not even close) isn’t actually all that gory or violent, at least in terms of what is shown on screen. It feels like pretty standard fare at first—young people act stupidly on a road trip in deep Texas, bad things happen—but quickly goes off the rails. It’s wild, unpredictable, and feels like a survival experience, not entertainment.
27. Phantasm II (1988). One of the few sequels on my list. It takes the Phantasm epic into action-adventure territory, and expands the mythos in new, weird, and bipolar directions. More maniac Jawas, a double-super-shotgun, killer silver orbs, horrific body-horror monsters, the menacing Tall Man, and, yes, a chainsaw duel! Angus Scrimm (an Oscar-winning liner note writer, natch) is equal parts ridiculous and menacing. Half the time he doesn’t look like he quite understands what’s going on, like he stumbled into an iconic horror movie role on his way to the opera – which makes him seem all the more alien. If you want to get nitpicky about it, there’s plenty to criticize, but I think this movie is pure weird, spooky fun. Believe it or not, these movies have had a pretty strong influence on my writing lately, too. Here’s hoping Phantasm: RaVager lives up to the legacy of the first two films of the franchise. I mean, 4 was okay, but 3? Just awful. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOY