The Halloween season is upon us here at Laser Timer, truly my favorite time of the year. In honor of this joyous occasion, I present to you my second annual horror movie recommendation list (now expanded to 10 films), consisting of my favorite Halloween flicks that have not appeared in previous lists.
The only things that go together better than Subway Jared and child porn are metal and horror, and Deathgasm is a rhinestone-encrusted gift from the rock gods. This is the tale of metalhead Brodi, forced to move in with his Bible-thumping relatives after his mom commits an illegal sex act with a department store Santa Claus while high on meth. So, you know, pretty cliche. Luckily, Brodi meets fellow metalhead Zakk and D&D nerds Dion and Giles. The foursome forms Deathgasm and unwittingly plays a metal song from hell, unleashing a demonic plague on their small town. This movie satisfies black comedy lovers and practical effect gore-hounds alike — find out what happens when Brutal Legend meets Evil Dead!
A Christmas Horror Story
I was really torn about adding this one, not because it’s not worth it, but because it could just as easily make a Christmas movie list. Still, its horror roots and anthology style can’t be denied, plus it has William Shatner, which immediately raises its street cred. Like other great horror anthologies, this features intertwining story lines, a great villain, and a great hero in Santa Claus, who seems to have relocated to the Netherlands and taken up bow staff fighting during the off season. To say more would ruin the surprises this films offers. Just be prepared for a Dragon Age-inspired Krampus, a haunted murder investigation, and viking Santa Claus versus zombie elves!
Believe it or not, the Australian zombie genre wasn’t really a thing prior to this release. Wyrmwood received a lot of Mad Max comparisons (not in reference to the action scenes — there’s only one George Miller) for its excellent stylistic choices. It’s the story of a family man who loses just about everything during the initial stages of a zombie outbreak, and must team up with an unlikely ally to rescue his sister from the clutches of a mad scientist. Did I mention it has a genre-changing hook? Well, it does, and it’s something I hope will get expanded in a possible sequel. “You call that a zombie film? This is a zombie film, mate.”
The coolest cannibal film since Ravenous features such stars as Dulle Hill, Paul Rodriguez, Gabourey Sidibe, and Sarah Silverman. When a small Mexican restaurant’s staff is taken hostage by a trio of cannibal psychopaths, the crew is in for the worst Hallow’s Eve in the history of El Pollo Loco. Thanks to niche 80s references like Night Court and “90 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon,” fans of Hostel’s brand of violence will really dig this one.
Lost After Dark
No horror themed list is complete without an 80s homage, and this film nails it perfectly. Starring Robert Patrick in his coolest role since the T-1000, Lost After Dark tells the story of a group of teenagers, stalked by a crazed maniac when their ride breaks down in the darkest of night. With special effects that would make Tom Savini cry tears of retro joy and classic horror setups straight out of Friday the 13th and Madman, you can’t go wrong with this one.
We Are Still Here
This was one of my most anticipated horror films of the year due to its trailer and positive buzz, and this is that rare scenario where hype meets reality. When a middle age couple, still grieving from the loss of their teenage son, move into a new home, they unwittingly become victims of a family of evil spirits. Before you feel bad for them, know that they kind of had it coming since their new home was once a funeral parlor. As Poltergeist has taught us, grave desecration is a surefire recipe for disaster. When you add horror veteran Larry Fessenden (You’re Next, Wendigo) into the mix, you’ve got a classic on your hands.
Brought to us by producer Eli Roth, this is the story of a drifter who enters a small town while searching for his wife, and has an unexpected and deadly reaction to its inhabitants. Director Guillermo Amoedo, who previously worked on The Green Inferno Knock Knock, gives us a slow burner of a tale — one that’s sure to put off a lot of viewers.
Harry Potter in something other than Harry Potter? I know it’s a tough sell, and this dilemma surely contributed to Horns’ negative reviews. But I put all that aside because I am a big fan of director Alexandre Aja, who gave us such classics as High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes reboot, and Mirrors. After being accused of killing his girlfriend (played by Juno Temple), Radcliffe awakens with a pair of horns on his head that cause everyone he meets to tell the truth. This story device opens up some truly satisfying encounters, especially his scenes with Temple.
I know Slender Man is played out, but with the failure of Sinister 2, this budget-friendly pick fills the void left by Bughuul. Yes, it is a found-footage film, but it’s one of the few that is done right. Plus, it has underrated character actor Chris Marquette, of Freddy vs Jason and Fan Boys fame. With solid performances and some truly creepy scenes, this one is “worth watching!” Sorry, couldn’t help myself.
This is a supernatural take on John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, one that should please fans of the late, great TV show Fear itself — specifically the episode “Eater.” And if you liked the film Let Us Prey, you’ll love this one!
Honorable Mention/Family Pick: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
Not sure when this classic received its DVD debut, but I only recently picked it up on a random late-night Walmart stroll. This family-friendly film stars comedy legend Don Knotts in one my favorite roles, and he turns in another stellar performance as Luther Heggs, a small town typesetter who dreams of becoming a reporter. Realizing he needs a good story to prove himself, he decides to solve a murder mystery. Fans of Knotts owe it to themselves to check it out and share this 60s classic with the younger generation.
Thanks to all of you for checking out this labor of love, and I wish you all a safe and happy Halloween!
Halloween articles are Moan4Stallone’s bread and butter. Hit him up on Twitter to talk terror!