HDD Goodie Bag: Your Horror Blu-rays For Halloween 2011

Posted Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 11:35 AM PDT by

Just like we do every year around this time, High-Def Digest has scraped together another maggot-infested candy bowl of fun to help you prepare for Halloween!

What's in the Goodie Bag? --- Horror Blu-rays for the 2011 Halloween Season!

by M. Enois Duarte (The HDD Crypt Keeper)

Greetings, boils and ghouls! With the Hell-idays finally around the corner, High-Def Die-gest decided to resurrect another selection of gory treats to celebrate the feast-ivities. This year it seems, we've had more choices to dissect than last, but sadly, most the rotting cadavers on this year's slab leave much to be desired.

But never fear, kiddies, I've still managed to scrap up a terror list of putrid horror tales that are sure set the mood just right. The scary stories are separated into three stomach-churning categories and listed in alphabetical order. The queasy gathering is organ-ized according to each title delivering a spooky atmosphere, offering you creeps the best variety in scares and creepy laughter. So, without further ado . . .

Frights! Camera! Hack-tion!




It may seem like an obvious choice, but at least it's one of the better ones from this year's list. The follow-up to the enormously influential slasher classic didn't quite live up to the expectations set by its predecessor, but it remains a fun little horror ditty that delivers the right Halloween spirit. It certainly gave those suffering from nosocomephobia (a fear of hospitals) more to fear with Michael Myers now being a scary threat to their health. Over the years, the movie has become a traditional watch in many a chilling household with the etched-in-your-mind music playing in the background, which itself has become a must-be-played-endlessly tune around this time of the year.



The brooding masked psychopath resurrects old wounds by once again chasing after the one who got away — the young, innocent Laurie Strode. Only this time, she's not so young or innocent, and she's definitely nobody's victim. The seventh installment to the original 'Halloween' series was twenty years in the making, but surprisingly worth the wait because it wisely ignores the events of all the other movies in the franchise. As a direct sequel to 'Halloween II,' the film returns to the storyline's roots and brings back the stalking creepiness of dark, menacing shadows the first feature is so eternally loved for. If for nothing else, it's cool to see Jamie Lee Curtis in the role that made her a star and fight back in a way that finally closes her chapter as the first "Scream Queen."



After the lucid dream-themed mystery, 'Abre los ojos,' brought him some well-deserved attention, Alejandro Amenábar continued his newfound worldwide popularity with this English-speaking spookfest. The Spanish director effectively delivers the spine-tingling chills as Nicole Kidman, playing a mother endlessly paranoid of sunlight, slowly unravels at the thought of living in a haunted mansion. Adding to the creepiness is the large manor continuously immersed in darkness and shadows due to her kids' rare condition of photosensitivity. With strange whispers and random noises heard throughout the house, 'The Others' is a hair-raisingly fun tale of the macabre with a not-so-original twist but still satisfying conclusion. It's also a total bargain on Blu-ray!



With the whole 'Halloween' theme we already have going here, why not also include another slasher flick that acknowledges and celebrates that film's indelible mark. From master of horror Wes Craven, 'Scream' made a mark of its own by becoming somewhat of a template for future self-aware, postmodern genre features. The scary parts are probably not as effective as they once were, but the movie remains an entertaining cerebral deconstruction of strict plot structure and convention, filled with laughs along the way. The franchise creator and still-attached screenwriter Kevin Williamson didn't do much else of note afterwards, including the three sequels which followed, but he's been fairly active nonetheless. Still, this movie seems likely the most memorable thing he's done, which isn't a bad thing. 'Scream' is a fun Halloween treat.



It may not feature any undead monsters or unstoppable psychopaths, but Sam Peckinpah's revenge flick definitely belongs in this horror list. It's a masterful piece of suspense cinema that patiently and methodically builds to the point of boiling, generating a tense, visceral reaction that's scary on its own. It is utterly brilliant the way the director creates a frightening experience of apprehension and fear as we watch a couple be ruthlessly terrorized by a small band of local bullies. Tension grows from a feeling of helplessness and being an out-of-towner, mixed with some western motifs where Dustin Hoffman's character continues to his pursuit for civilized order amid the violence. 'Straw Dogs' is an excellent thriller for those looking for a different kind of scare.



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
The Bad Seed (1956), Braindead (Dead Alive), Dead Heat, Deep Red, Diabolique, Dressed to Kill (1980), From Dusk Till Dawn, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Horror Express, The House by the Cemetery, I Saw the Devil, Santa Sangre, Stake Land, Zombie




The beauty of Christopher Smith's horror mystery, 'Black Death' is its dark, creepy atmosphere that recalls Robin Hardy's classic thriller, 'The Wicker Man.' Set during one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, a small band of brave knights are on the hunt for a rumored necromancer living in a tiny village that has yet to be infected. Things really don't grow hairy until the men reach that rural community and discover what seems like a plague-free paradise. Unfortunately, spiritual beliefs clash and tensions rise, which is interestingly where much of the movie's suspense comes from. Eerily effective and intriguing, this is a fun flick to kick off the scariest season of the year, and best of all, the mystery surrounding this small town of weirdoes remains just that: a mystery.



I am fully aware that several will not agree with this particular selection, and I also understand the reasons for not liking it. It's a haunted house/possession feature pretty much pieced together from other, mostly better such movies. Thing is that that's also precisely the point. Coming from the imagination of the people who gave horror fanatics 'Saw' and 'Paranormal Activity,' the film is a deliberate throwback and homage to those classics of the subgenre, and it does so in very entertaining fashion. With its disturbing, funhouse atmosphere and the engrossing, sinister sounds of ghostly figures all around, 'Insidious' generates the perfect, spine-chilling tone that will give viewers the shivers this season. It's an amusing self-aware creepfest for Halloween lovers.



Another film that definitely divides moviegoers is this Americanized version of the Swedish vampire flick, which is already being hailed as a cult classic of the genre. The remake unfortunately doesn't appear to be as well received yet, but only time will tell. In all honesty, the film isn't quite a horror in the traditional sense as it does feel a bit more like a drama. But it is one of the darkest, eeriest and most atmospheric coming-of-age tales around. It also features some very grave and chilling performances from its two child leads, which is one of the major reasons for watching this in the first place. Chloë Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee successfully humanize two rather disturbing individuals with dark, twisted desires into beings that we can sympathize with.



Since we're already covering other films with a ghostly haunting as the main attraction, let us continue the trend with Brian Gibson's entertaining follow-up to an 80s horror favorite. Though not as successful — or good, for that matter — as its predecessor, the sequel still offers some good atmosphere of the supernatural. Besides, the movie is best remembered as the thriller which introduced horror fanatics to Reverend Henry Kane, the unearthly and bloodcurdling cult leader dressed in black, looking like a physical manifestation of every child's nightmare. Then there's also Zelda Rubenstein as the wonderfully memorable psychic Tangina, and she's always cool to watch. Enjoy it with the original for a fun night of the paranormal.



Granted, this is actually a television series, not a movie. But this is a damn fine television series, envisioning an apocalypse overrun by zombies. And zombies are always fun. Reanimated from the imagination of Frank Darabont, a rather well-respected filmmaker who loves adapting Stephen King stories, the show kicks off with a bang and runs in a frightened panic through the streets of Atlanta with both barrels loaded. But the real kicker, other than the continual display of zombie mayhem with lots of blood and gore, is the surprisingly engaging drama of the survivors. As tensions rise from within the ranks and strangers are forced to work together, each episode slowly intensifies their dilemma and ends with a great season closer that leaves viewers in anticipation for the show's return.



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
Basket Case, Bereavement, Beyond the Darkness, The Cat O' Nine Tails, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Daughters of Darkness, Deadgirl, Dementia 13, The Dorm that Dripped Blood, The Exterminator, Final Destination 2, Final Destination 3, The Frighteners, The Hills Have Eyes (1977) , Inferno, The Last House on the Left (1972) , The Last Exorcism, I Spit on Your Grave (1978, 2010), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Maniac Cop, The Matrimony, The Nesting, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge / A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Scream 2, Scream 4, Subspecies, Torso, Troll Hunter, Vanishing on 7th Street, The Ward, Zombie Holocaust




Far as I'm concerned, anything with Richard Crenna is an instant classic. Well, not really, but the man is a great actor and has been in a few great films. Unfortunately, 'Devil Dog' is not one of them. This made-for-television horror flop was an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the occult/possession subgenre seen in many big-screen pictures at the time. The creators also mixed the theme with elements of the "killer animal" premise made trendy by Spielberg's 'Jaws.' Sounds rather intriguing on paper, but what we actually get is a goofy, over-the-top tale that takes itself far too serious and becomes more laughable than scary. Honestly, it may be at the bottom of the list, but it should only be watched for nostalgic reasons as well as a good Halloween chuckle.



Continuing the badness is a film series I could have sworn was already on its last peg the moment the first movie ended. Sure, the sequel wasn't all terrible, but after the stupid god-awfulness of the third entry, I was sure Death would retire after dealing with all those pesky kids. But sorry, no. There's no pension anymore and retirement age has been upped, so Mr. Reaper is back in the grind, forced into doing a dull, menial job devising new and clever ways of personally hand-delivering Darwin Awards. Making matters worse, there've been cutbacks in this fourth installment by doing away with the always-awesome Tony Todd, making poor Grimie over here pick up the slack, creating shoddy hack jobs of elaborate kills. Oh, when will this recession end so that Death can do what he's best at?



This year seems to belong to the heavily-influential Wes Craven with several of his horror movies hitting the Blu-ray format. And like any well-respected filmmaker who's been in the business for a very long time, he's amassed quite the collection, delivering some seriously dreadful flops along the way. 'My Soul to Take' is practically epic in its massive failure to scare, let alone entertain. This teen thriller is a sad, embarrassing stain to a wonderful career sprinkled with genre flicks that have over time become popular icons. The entire idea of a serial killer being reincarnated into the bodies of some kids born on the same day is rather dreadful and silly. If, however, you've never watched a horror movie before, the concept has potential and promise. So, enjoy it if you're desperate.



When talking about bad movies, we simply have to squeeze in at least one Nicolas Cage movie somewhere in there. This year's hilarious — sorry, spooky horror tale is actually supposed to be a truly strange reworking of Ingmar Bergman's immortal classic 'The Seventh Seal.' That only should already stop most viewers and reconsider watching this drek. But with the fact that it stars the man with the best hairdos in the entire biz, curiosity compels us to watch this train wreck. And the crazy part is, 'Season of the Witch' is actually a side-splitting thrill ride. It completely fails to scare, but the movie has some slight entertainment value in its sheer badness. Oh, and Ron Perlman costars, surprisingly adding some good humor.


VAMP (1986)

Why not finish the list — which as always is only an opinionated suggestion, not an absolute — with at least one "so bad, it's good" entry. In 'Vamp,' what's not to love in a movie that prominently displays Grace Jones as its star attraction, dressed like she's joined the circus. Actually, as the vampire queen of an underground nightclub who owns a waterbed filled with blood, Jones is quite good in this strange horror comedy. It also stars that kid from 'My Bodyguard' and the guy who played the bully next to Robert Downey, Jr. in 'Weird Science' as two college guys on the hunt for a stripper. Imagine on your own how Jones fits in all this. Then imagine the gut-busting silliness of watching a tough street-gang made entirely of albinos. It's bad, but also amusing for a fun Halloween night.



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
After Dark Horrorfest (anything), Children of the Corn: Genesis, Darkness Falls, Dead Cert, Embodiment of Evil, Hatchet II, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, Hellraiser: Hellworld, Monsters, Paranormal Activity 2, Piranha 3D, Priest 3D, Quarantine 2: Terminal, Red Riding Hood, Saw: The Final Chapter 3D, Scream 3, Stag Night, The Terror


WANTS FOR NEXT YEAR (Now, This is What I Can Sink My Teeth Into)

Here's hoping for the best and that studios will take note of what horror aficionados really hunger for and of what will truly please our insatiable appetites. Some of these are available on Blu-ray in other parts of the world, but they're on this list in hopes of one day receiving announcement of a North American release. Please share your own wish lists in the forum.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Alone in the Dark (1982), The Beyond, The Birds, Black Sabbath, Blade, Blood and Black Lace, Bride of Frankenstein, The Brood, The Burning, Candyman, Cannibal Apocalypse, The Changeling, The Children (1980), Dellamore Dellamorte (Cemetery Man), Demons, Don't Look Now, Dracula (1931), Eden Lake, The Fog (1980), Frankenstein (1931), Freaks, From Beyond, The Funhouse, Ginger Snaps, The Haunting (1963), Hell Night, Horror of Dracula, The Howling, The Hunger, Idle Hands, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), It's Alive (1974), Jaws, Jeepers Creepers, The Legend of Hell House, Martyrs, The Mask of Satan (Black Sunday), May, Night of the Living Dead (1968), Nightmare City, Nosferatu (1922), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Oasis of the Zombies, Peeping Tom, Pet Sematary, Phantasm, Prom Night (1980), Re-Animator, Rear Window, The Ring, Rosemary's Baby, Scanners, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Stepford Wives (1975), Shadow of the Vampire, Sleepaway Camp, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Tenant (1976), They Live, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, White Zombie, Zombie Lake.


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Tags: Fun Stuff, M. Enois Duarte, Halloween 2011, Halloween, HDD Goodie Bag 2011, HDD Goodie Bag (all tags)