HDD Goodie Bag: Your Horror Blu-rays For Halloween 2010

Posted Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 12:00 PM PDT by Mike Attebery

In preparation for Halloween, High-Def Digest has scraped together a maggot-infested candy bowl of fun!

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

by M. Enois Duarte (The HDD Crypt Keeper)

The Hell-idays are upon us once again, kiddies! That time of the year when we hang rotting cadavers by their lips and their hairs. The little monsters rise from their graves to haunt the streets in search of gory treats. It's no secret this is the season I cherish the most - what with the sights and sounds wringing in the New Year. I normally like to kick things off with a killer party, but this time around, I've had a few cut backs due to our economic dissection.

I tell ya, boils and ghouls, times are tough these days. I've even enforced some strenuous spending guts on my own crypt theater so as to make ends meat. But it doesn't seem nearly as bad as this year's horrid selection of putrid horror tales. Although we've seen more released this time around than last we met, the choices are rather slim pickings. Not exactly the sort to really deliver the frights and howls, with a chunk of the new stuff being the worst of the slab.

Nonetheless, High-Def Die-gest has invited your pal, the Crypt Keeper, to exorcise another terror list in order to celebrate the feast-ivities. While the spooky stories are separated into three stomach-churning categories and in alphabetical order, the queasy gathering is organ-ized according to each title's contribution to horror cinema - those which made a loud ruckus with a couple of personal favorites sprinkled on top, offering you creeps the best variety in scares and creepy laughter. So, without further ado . . .

Frights! Camera! Hack-tion!


MILD DECOMPOSITION (Grade A Top Choice Flesh)


Despite not being made available as a standalone release, this 1979 sci-fi classic deserves to be mentioned on its own as one of the greats of the genre. Other films had been released before with a similar blend of science fiction and horror, but nothing to the extent by which 'Alien' drew audiences in and produced such an instinctive fear of the dark. While moviegoers were still feeling the Force with them and desired to fight the Galactic Empire in a galaxy far, far away, this creature feature reminded Skywalker-wannabes that no one can hear you scream in outer space. Especially, when being chased by a drooling, hideous monster with acid for blood. With highly unusual and exotic art designs by H.R. Giger, Ridley Scott delivers a masterwork of haunting atmosphere and morbid suspense, energized by imagery and symbolism of sexuality and female empowerment.



Making an impressive directorial debut, Sam Raimi tells this spooky, gory tale about what happens when young adults are left to their own vices. Apparently - and stupidly - they tend to mess around with a mysterious book that conjures malevolent demons to possess them. With a brilliant performance by Bruce Campbell as the lovable, pessimistic antihero, Ash Williams, this outrageous and macabre funhouse of graphic frenzy offers the perfect blend of slapstick comedy and a genuinely frightening experience. Not hindered by its limited budget, 'Evil Dead' is, simply put, a highly imaginative feature of blood-soaked brilliance that establishes ambiance before revealing the grisly details. It's a sure-fire way to fill this Halloween night with laughter and creepiness.



For nearly 40 years, William Friedkin's 'The Exorcist' has terrorized households as quite possibly the most terrifying and disturbing thing ever conceived on celluloid. It truly is a testament to its immense power and mastery to scare audiences for so many decades without losing its edge. The film even today remains an urban myth and a rite of passage amongst young viewers and fledgling horror fans. The story about the exorcism of a little girl by two priests still stands as the only motion picture to cause such visceral and guttural hysterics from moviegoers. Of all the features on the list, 'The Exorcist' is the most frightening of them all and continues as the sole horror movie that still gives this genre aficionado the heebie-jeebies and the screaming meemies.



By the time Wes Craven jumped into the slasher craze of the early eighties, 'Halloween' and 'Friday the 13th' already had franchises going for themselves. The filmmaker smartly exploited the conventions of the genre and surprisingly turned them into something completely new and exciting with 'A Nightmare on Elm Street.' Craven's homicidal maniac can talk back and loves toying with his prey! Horribly disfigured and a victim of parent vigilantism, Freddy Krueger also invades the most intimate and private area of teenhood: our dreams. Wielding a glove with finger knives, Krueger not only runs after you while spewing his sadistic wisecracks, but this freaky-looking bugger comes with his own nursery rhyme. Today, the name has become synonymous with the horror genre.



While the aforementioned 'The Exorcist' remains the most frightening film ever made, 'Psycho' will be forever remembered for altering the course of horror movies. Leave it to Alfred Hitchcock to create something with such indelible ramifications. The classic masterpiece has left such an immense impact that the maestro is now thought of as a brilliant director of the genre even though this is his first and arguably only "true" horror film. Previously, scary movies were about grotesque, fantastical creatures, but this complex psychological chiller brought the monsters closer to home. For the first time, audiences were met by a fiend, Norman Bates, who was courteous, friendly, the next-door neighbor you trusted and thought was innocent, until those final, shocking, crucial moments. Hitchcock's 'Psycho' is literally the mother (all pun intended) of the modern horror movie.



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
Aliens, Antichrist, House (1977), Inferno (UK Import), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Monster House 3D, Poltergeist, Pontypool (Import), REC (Import), REC 2 (Import), Return of the Living Dead, Se7en, Shutter Island, Suspiria (UK Import), Thirst (Import)


MOULDY AROUND THE CORNERS (It's Still Good, Just Pick Off the Maggots)


The horror convention of young, annoying people being slaughtered one by one is given a new twist by having those irritating kids record their own deaths. In search of the urban legend of the Blair Witch, three college friends take advantage of our suspension of disbelief and capture more chilling evidence of ghostly apparitions than in any episode of the 'Ghost Hunters.' I suppose it also adds a new twist to the saying "curiosity killed the cat." Or as is the case here, snooping around the woods without first learning how to read a map correctly will get you one of the creepiest time-outs around. Although not the first movie of its type - a faux documentary - the immense box-office success of 'The Blair Witch Project' is responsible for turning it into a popular trend and cementing the style into a new subgenre called "found-footage horror."



When a prominent film critic basically summarizes a horror/splatter movie by quoting from philosopher Thomas Hobbes that it is "poor, nasty, brutish and short," you know you're in for something special. That is, as long as "special" means brutally shocking and unnervingly gory. With special effects from celebrated make-up artist Giannetto De Rossi, French director Alexandre Aja made a name for himself in this twisted tale of sadistic romance about two college friends on vacation who are chased by a vicious psychopath. Where the 'Hostel' and 'Saw' films failed, 'High Tension' succeeds by providing gorehounds with a simple but very important concept: a story. If the night calls for something to cringe at and jolt the senses, then this special platter of splatter makes for good date night entertainment.



This hilarious little gem has gone almost completely unnoticed by the mainstream public, which is a downright shame. The story about a bumbling pair of Victorian grave robbers is the perfect blend of side-splitting, slapstick humor and macabre, spine-chilling atmosphere. Irish director Glenn McQuaid makes an impressive and wonderfully stylish directorial debut with an absurd period tale about making a living desecrating graves. Starring Dominic Monaghan and Ron Perlman, this bizarre, offbeat comedy delivers equal amounts of silly laughter along with the eerie, hair-raising spookiness. The quirky independent film features a colorful array of ghouls and monstrosities, from vampires, zombies, the supernatural, black magic, beheadings, and even extraterrestrials! Watch it with your loved one!



Of all the movies since 'Blair Witch' launched the "found-footage" subgenre, 'Paranormal Activity' has really been the only one to come close to repeating its predecessor's success. Personally, I much prefer 'REC,' its sequel, and 'Cloverfield,' but this low-budget sleeper took the nation by storm with endless viral hype and word of mouth. In fact, all the brouhaha surrounding the demonic haunting of a young couple's home became part of the event in itself. Even more surprising is that the movie turning out to be somewhat creepily entertaining, even more so than a story about a witch in the woods. It's a fun and freaky supernatural flick which builds tension with setting and situation rather than special effects, effective because of everything we don't see. Scary enough to scare Spielberg (Google it!).



Even in these hard economic times, someone will always find ways to make a killing on the unfortunate. During a zombie apocalypse, what better way to relieve the stress of survival and forget the panic of being eaten alive by a horde of the undead than by visiting an amusement park called 'Zombieland.' There are emotionally distraught cowboys named Woody, pathetically insecure College virgins from Columbus, Ohio, and two con-artist sisters that might as well be conjoined at the hips. The comical thrill rides include carnival shooting games, demented clowns, and a special appearance by legendary performance artist Bill Murray. The list of rules and guidelines for staying alive in the theme park are long and rather strictly enforced, but it's all in the name of providing only the best form of fun and enjoyment for the whole family.



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
The Amityville Horror (2005), Babysitter Wanted, City of the Living Dead, The Crazies (2010), Daybreakers, Dead Snow, Evil Aliens, Feast, Hatchet, Kalifornia, Maniac (1980), Pandorum, The Prowler, The Stepfather (1987)


(It's Okay, Just Keep Telling Yourself "It isn't real, it isn't real")


Oh, dear GAWD!! The mere thought of having to sit through this idiotic mess once more is enough to induce nightmares and panic attacks. As a survivor of the massacre in Alaska, Stella goes all Val Helsing on bloodsuckers. In Los Angeles, she earns the opportunity to work with a small ragged group of vampire hunters and destroy the Queen Bee, Lilith. Unfortunately, standing in their way is a host of bad acting, lame set designs, a floundering script with insufferable dialogue, and some of the most dreadfully amateur direction this side of 'Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.' But even that Syfy debacle had better production values than this offensive atrocity. At one point, I half expected Wesley Snipes to walk into the picture, armed only with a pair of sunglasses and his kick-ass martial arts. 'Twilight' makes 'Dark Days' look like a high school drama club production.



Sorry, to disappoint, but being a rock star with an extensive horror library does not a talented filmmaker make. And in the case of Rob Zombie, you're a stale and trite hack with too much gory money and little appreciation for what really makes a movie scary - or entertaining. Here's the premise to 'Halloween II,' which pretty much is the same in all his movies: let's steal ideas from other features, throw a bunch of blood and guts at the camera so as to think we're edgy and controversial, and put hillbillies in the lead and make it as terrifying as a toenail clipping flying into your eyeball. And then, and then, to make the movie really bad, let's put Sheri Moon in a speaking role. Oh, oh, and to top it all off, we'll psychoanalyze to death a horror icon by giving him mommy issues and completely destroy the 'Halloween' mythos by making the heroine into an utterly annoying and despicable character. Yeah!



Speaking of talentless hacks, Diablo Cody is showing signs of being the next M. Night Shyamalan - a one-hit wonder. For her second major Hollywood feature, Cody takes a stab at the popular girl in school by singling her out as the demon she truly is - a brainless, artificial, materialistic, heartless bitch with a really, really big mouth. It makes sense then that Megan Fox is perfect for the role. In another attempt to seem culturally relevant, the stripper-turned-writer infuses the entire picture with her own blend of nonsensical teen speak and adds an identity crisis since it can't decide if it's a horror or a comedy. It aspires for B-movie status with smarts, but true genre aficionados know there is nothing new about 'Jennifer's Body.' Unfortunately, the flick is too shallow to ever be taken serious and will never attain the cult status it so desperately begs to attain.



Another rehash from Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes is proof positive that looks are not enough to make a good scary movie. Samuel Bayer makes his feature-length debut in this reimagining of a beloved genre icon, and he's the movie's best feature, providing an otherwise bland production with a sinister tone and quality. Although Jackie Earle Haley deserves some credit for attempting a role unquestionably meant only for Robert Englund, this Freddy Krueger is better to lull you to sleep than induce horrific nightmares. And the attempt also at making the maniac with finger-knives look like a true burn victim fails to draw some scares. In a film about disturbing dreams that kill, reality seems like the last thing we would need. But with such a terrible cast of actors in the forefront, perhaps inducing comas is the filmmaker's point.



To be perfectly honest, 'Troll 2' is on the list mostly for shits and giggles, and it should be watched precisely for that. The independently-financed horror dreck was mostly ignored during its theatrical run and almost immediately received cult status for its sheer awfulness. The flick is known for not featuring a single troll or even being remotely related to its predecessor, despite what its title may indicate. It has since grown in popularity for its terribleness, but most of the attention is due to the movie's child star directing a documentary about its devoted following called 'Best Worst Movie.' Personally, there are way worse things to watch, like 'The Thing with Two Heads' or 'The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies' (now, that's a good bad movie!), but 'Troll 2' is still all kinds of awful stinkiness and great for a Halloween laugh.



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
Black Christmas (2006), Cabin Fever, The Final Destination 3-D, The Howling Trilogy, The Human Centipede, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, Legion, Open Water/Open Water 2, Pulse, Sorority Row (2009), The Stepfather (2009), Survival of the Dead


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

The list may look a bit daunting and comprehensive (this is actually the short version!!), but this past year saw quite an abundance of scary movies released in high definition. So, 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 since they're region locked, this list is offered in hopes of one day receiving announcement of a North American release. Please share your own wish lists in our forums.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Alone in the Dark (1982), The Beyond, The Birds, Black Sabbath, Blade, Blood and Black Lace, Braindead (Dead Alive), Bride of Frankenstein, The Brood, The Burning, Candyman, Cannibal Apocalypse, The Changeling, The Children (1980), Dellamore Dellamorte (Cemetery Man), Dementia 13, Demons, Les Diabolique, Don't Look Now, Dracula (1931), Dressed to Kill (1980), Eden Lake, The Fog (1980), Frankenstein (1931), Freaks, Fright Night, 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, Scream, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Stepford Wives (1975), Shadow of the Vampire, Sleepaway Camp, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Tenant, They Live, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Zombi 2 White Zombie, Zombie Lake.

THE LEFTOVERS (just because they didn't make it to the main course, doesn't mean they can't be enjoyed still)

2001 Maniacs, The Collector, The Crazies (1973), Dreamscape, The Eclipse, Forbidden World, The Fourth Kind, Frozen, Galaxy of Terror, The Girl Next Door (2007), The House of the Devil, Humanoids from the Deep, Jacob's Ladder, Piranha (1978), Puppet Master, The Relic, The Skeleton Key, Thir13en Ghosts/House of Wax, The Toolbox Murders (1978)


Abandoned, After.Life, The Alphabet Killer, Dark Nature, Don't Look Up, Freeway Killer, The Killing Room, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Parasomnia, Red Dragon, Triangle, Uncle Sam, Vampyres, Wolf Creek

Please note the following titles are set for release after the publication of this list and we eagerly await their arrival:

Altitude, And Soon the Darkness, Children of the Corn (2009), Cronos, Crowley, Damned by Dawn, Daughters of Darkness, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Fingerprints, Ghost Machine, It Waits, Lost Boys: The Thirst, Mega Piranha, Mirrors 2, Night of the Demons (2009), S&Man, Staunton Hill, Tremors, Prey, Vampire Circus.


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Tags: Halloween, Best of 2010, M. Enois Duarte (all tags)