HDD Goodie Bag: Your Horror Blu-rays For Halloween 2012

Posted Tue Oct 30, 2012 at 12:40 PM 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 this 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 this year's feast-ivities.

And with the political race starting to really heat up, I'm dressed in my ghoulish best to show my patriotic spirit for what's sure to be a suspenseful and frightful carnival freak show. A battle royale with lots of hunger, mudslinging, and bloodsucking mayhem! In one corner, we have a Harvard graduate with the experience of a jackal, but full of grand, extremists ideas to gut and rip apart the nation into ruin. In the other corner, we have a Harvard graduate with little experience and extremist notions to shred the nation into pieces and restructure the social order. So, umm . . . place your bets on the loser?

Well, never fear, kiddies, I've scraped together a terror list of putrid horror tales that will set the perfect mood and distract from this miserable lot. The scary stories are separated into three stomach-churning categories and 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!




This year's biggest surprise is from Joss Whedon and 'Cloverfield' writer Drew Goddard, who has also worked on J.J. Abrams's 'Lost.' It's a highly entertaining and clever love letter to horror movies before they devolved into torture stupidity — or "a very loving hate letter" as Whedon describes it. Disguised as a reality TV spoof, the movie delivers a terrific blend of gore, suspense, mystery, and comedy as it tackles a variety of clichés and archetypes. Starring Chris Hemsworth, with memorable appearances by Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, and Sigourney Weaver, the meta-spoof of a familiar formula with a serious horror undertone is a great way to kick of the Halloween season.



Pick your poison, from Collector's Editions of 'Halloween II (1981)' and 'Halloween III: Season of the Witch' via Shout! Factory to 'Halloween 4' and 'Halloween 5,' which see the return of Michael "The Shape" Myers, through Anchor Bay, the franchise is most popular and always a fun treat during this spooky season. These four releases are the only reason why the series makes this year's horror list. We also have 'Halloween H20' and 'Halloween: Resurrection' available on Blu-ray, but they come from Echo Bridge, a company that never cares to provide the best possible presentation of any movie. Fan can complete their collection with a double feature that includes 'Halloween 6' but that also comes from Echo Bridge. Or you can wait for Echo's triple feature release. None of the sequels compare to John Carpenter's original or even come close, but they've become a traditional watch around this time of the year.



While Steven Spielberg's first massive box office hit is arguably more appropriate during the summer months, the story of a great white shark terrorizing a small beach community remains one of the best and scariest horror movies ever made. Featuring one of the most iconic musical motifs by John Williams, the film changed the way Hollywood studios marketed future releases and initiated the summer blockbuster tradition that continues today. With clever editing by Verna Fields and inspired direction by a then up-and-coming filmmaker, 'Jaws' still delivers the nerve-wracking chills it did during its original, record-shattering theatrical run. Never has a wood fragment from a small pier been so unnerving or two yellow barrels moving across the water been so thrilling to watch.



Roman Polanski made his American debut with this macabre, spine-chilling masterpiece based on the bestselling novel by Ira Levin and featuring amazing performances by Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, and Ruth Gordon. Ranking as one of the best by the Polish filmmaker, this creepy tale about a young's woman's disturbing ordeal with her seemingly loving husband and her overtly friendly neighbors spawned a trend of horror flicks that centered around the occult, black magic and Satanists. The second in Polanski's unofficial "Apartment Trilogy," the landmark film of stylishly artful horror is an ingeniously slow-build of unsettling atmosphere that disturbingly spirals in psychological terror. Not only did it scare the bejesus out of audiences in 1968, turning it into a box-office hit, it also continues to rank as one of the most terrifying motion pictures ever filmed.



Personally, the inclusion of this wonderful collection of classic horror movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood goes without saying and doesn't need an introduction. Horror fans and cinephiles everywhere know the influential significance and importance of these splendid films within the history of cinema. Along with Todd Browning's 'Dracula,' which has made Bela Lugosi into a screen legend, we also get the more stylishly atmospheric and arguably better Spanish version. Boris Karloff also became a household name of horror when he made 'Frankenstein' into the iconic face of monsters. He's accompanied by the superior masterpiece 'Bride of Frankenstein.' Joining the festivities are 'The Wolf Man,' 'The Mummy,' 'The Invisible Man' and 'The Phantom.' Also crashing the party is the 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' for the first time in 3D, the format in which it was originally shot!



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
The 39 Steps, Arachnophobia, The Boogens, The Dark Mirror, Dead Ringer, Dial M for Murder - 3D, The Entity, The Game, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960 & 1986), Mad Monster Party, Night of the Living Dead (1990), A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection, The Ring (2002), Shallow Grave, Terror Train (1980), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?


MOULDY AROUND THE CORNERS (Just Eat around the Maggots)


After years of waiting for a good zombie movie where the dead actually behave like rotting corpses walking the Earth, this low-budget independent feature rises from the earth to quench the insatiable hunger for apocalyptic mayhem. Set in the scorching deserts of western Africa, providing the plot with a chillingly immersive atmosphere, two men with military backgrounds are forced to overcome their difference and work together in order to survive. Directed, written, produced, and even photographed by the Ford brothers, 'The Dead' wears its influences with pride, carrying a solemn political undertone similar to the 'Living Dead' films from George A. Romero. It makes for a suspenseful, scary flick with brains.



Yes, 'Paranormal Activity 3' should technically be the only one on the list for being the newest to hit Blu-ray, but this is the box set featuring all three together. What better way to spend the spooky season than with some fun jump scares, something to genuinely creep you out and make you afraid of the dark. And honestly, all three of these micro-budget flicks are far better and imaginative in the way they build fright than the latest idiocy going out of its way to make you barf rather than scream. What I find most interesting and appealing are sequels that play as prequels, with the third going as far back as the childhood of the sibling protagonists. And with each one, the filmmakers keep designing new ways of giving the audience goose bumps. Granted, there are some flaws worth noting, but when you're having this much fun being scared by a camera attached to an oscillating fan, you simply sit back and enjoy the supernatural horror.



As far as I'm concerned, the best way to enjoy the Halloween festivities is with a good balance of cheese to go along with all the tasty treats. And what better cheese to savor than this smelly, moldy mass of perfectly aged celluloid from the legendary filmmaker of Z-grade dreck Ed Wood. It's an oddly delightful piece of awful filmmaking that still ranks as one of greatest bad movies ever made. The plot is deceptively simple but hilarious about Earthlings creating a weapon that could destroy the universe and the aliens resurrecting the dead (as in zombies, but called ghouls in the movie) in order to distract them. Production issues and goofs abound, from the terrible acting (except for maybe the wonderful "Vampira"), continuity problems and the sometimes confusing editing. Topping it off is the bewildering presence of Bela Lugosi, which is actually footage of another Ed Wood movie that was never completed. 'Plan 9' is for great Halloween laughs and fun, not scares.



Another cheese-tacular spectacle of low-budget horror is this cult classic from Stuart Gordon. However, the silliness doesn't come from terrible production values or any major gaffes. In fact, the adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story is filled to the brim with amazingly realistic special effects and is ultimately one of the best modernized inspirations of the Frankenstein tale. Instead, what makes this 1985 sci-fi horror flick so memorable is the flawless balance of horror and comedy mixed with outrageous levels of gore which are sometimes shockingly accurate. In addition to that, we also get a splendidly deadpan performance from the always terrifically funny Jeffrey Combs as the psychotic Herbert West, a deluded medical student obsessed with reanimating the dead. Things only get better once the decapitated head of David Gale enters the bedlam.



Extending the cheese factor further is Tobe Hooper's cult sequel to his own seminal vérité classic of hillbilly horror. After thirteen years since the incident on a normally quite Texan farmland, Hooper decides to revisit the cannibal family and give fans an update as to their whereabouts. Going against the intense, creepily atmospheric tone of the original, and pretty much eschewing its subtle political commentary, the script by L.M. Kit Carson ('Paris, Texas') goes for a more black comedy style — a very dark, ultra-black type of comedy, I might add — while opening doors for gooey amounts of gore by make-up maestro Tom Savini. It's a bit off-putting at first, but after a while, it's fairly hilarious, especially with Dennis Hooper's over-the-top performance, and essentially set the tone for future installments. Along with the return of Leatherface and Bill Moseley's Chop Top, the movie is a gruesome entertainment for the whole family.



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
Dark Shadows (2012), The Deadly Spawn, The Devil's Advocate, Exorcism, The Faculty, The Funhouse, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Hocus Pocus, Jeepers Creepers, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, The Night of the Devils, Pet Sematary, Puppet Master 1-3 (Three-Pack), The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season, The Woman in Black (2012)




I don't know which is scarier: the thought of having to suffer through this cure for insomnia a second time or the fact that well-regarded Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro actually believed this would scare the bejesus out of audiences. The remake to the 1973 made-for-television horror feature, which today enjoys a strong cult following and remains an amusing watch, is the best way to keep trick-or-treaters away from your house. I know I would if I saw this dreck playing inside your house. If you find this anywhere remotely scary, you're also probably the type to hand out toothbrushes and floss instead of some delicious, tooth-rotting goodness.



Trying to wring out every drop from his fifteen-minutes of notoriety, Eduardo Sánchez writes and directs another horror movie that ultimately fails to impress. In fact, it's downright boring and verges towards the idiotic on several occasions because characters would rather cry and argue than give the protagonist the psychological help she clearly needs. Sure, the filmmakers try to have audiences question whether it's all in Molly's head or if she's actually possessed by a demonic presence, but they never once succeed at making the latter a genuine possibility. The only good thing to come out of this dreadful mess is Gretchen Lodge, delivering an amazing debut performance. Unless you find feelings of frustration and a desire to yell at the screen scary, then I'd avoid this at all cost.



The thought of a faceless stranger in a hooded raincoat living in my daughter's closet is utterly terrifying. So much so that there is little for a filmmaker to do when turning that idea into a creepy horror flick. Yet, Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who previously worked on '28 Weeks Later' and is attached to the 'BioShock' adaptation, has managed to turn something that sounds disturbing on paper into a sleep aid. Granted, the movie starring Clive Owen has its moments of raising the hairs on the back of your neck, but it ultimately flounders towards the end and collapses under its own heavy-laden plot. In an effort to find a conclusion that wraps everything up nice and neat, the story opts for a coincidental twist sugarcoated in melodrama.



I'm sorry to have to include this one on the list of dreadful horror flicks to avoid, mostly because it marks the fourth feature-length film from Mary Harron, a director who impressed me enough with 'I Shot Andy Warhol,' 'The Notorious Bettie Page' and especially 'American Psycho' to tempt me into giving this foul piece of s**t a chance. Based on another tween novel but nowhere near as crappy as the Twilight series (yes, the books are undeniably garbage and Stephenie Meyer is a hack), the adaptation is clearly an attempt to capitalize on the latest trend but it also lacks pretty much everything you'd expect from a horror movie, like an actual scary tone. Worse still is Harron's script missing many of the mature themes about adolescence and sexuality found in the book and the mystery of Ernessa being a vampire is all but lost in this awful snoozefest.



Gimmick movies like 'Silent House' depend too much on contrived conveniences to be effective. The house in which Elizabeth Olsen becomes trapped in conveniently has all the windows boarded up, and the front door conveniently requires a key for unlocking it from the inside. The house conveniently has no power for lights, except when certain scenes conveniently need more lighting, and the property is conveniently located in an area where cell phone reception is poor. Sadly, these conveniences, along with the movie's single-continuous-shot gimmick (which it's not, by the way), are more of a glaring nuisance than a frightfully good time. From Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, the team behind the much better 'Open Water,' the horror psycho-thriller is a waste of Ms. Olsen's talent, with a predictable twist and a finish that's complete rubbish.



Others Worthy of the Cleaver:
ATM, Beneath the Darkness, Cold Creek Manor, The Devil Inside, The Haunting of Whaley House, Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker, The Hills Have Eyes: Part 2, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, The Innkeepers, Piranha 3DD, Queen of the Damned, The Shock Labyrinth - 3D, Sleepwalkers


THE LEFTOVERS (just because they didn't make it to the main course, doesn't mean they can't be enjoyed as a side-dish.)

The Asphyx, Bell, Book, and Candle (1958), Black Magic Rites, Black Sunday, Blade, Blade II, Blade: Trinity, The Blood Beast Terror, Chained, Demoniacs, The Divide, Chernobyl Diaries, Female Vampire, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Hatchet for the Honeymoon, House of Dark Shadows, Hocus Pocus, Killer's Moon, The Living Dead Girl, Mother's Day (1980), Mutant Girls Squad, Murder Obsession, Night of Dark Shadows, Night Train Murders, The Rape of the Vampire, Requiem for a Vampire, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, Sector 7 - 3D, Strip Nude for Your Killer, Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except, Two Orphan Vampires, Virgin Witch, The Wizard of Gore / The Gore Gore Girls

THE OTHER UNMENTIONABLES (the abnormal putrefaction from the far bowels of dead imagination)

Camel Spiders, The Day the Dead Walked, Edgar Allen Poe's Requiem for the Damned, Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust, Kill List, Monster Brawl, Night of the Demons (2009), Psychotica, The Summer of Massacre, Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show, The Wicker Tree, Where the Dead Go to Die, Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines

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 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 the forum.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Alone in the Dark (1982), The Beyond, The Birds, Black Sabbath, Blood and Black Lace, The Brood, The Burning, Candyman, Cannibal Apocalypse, The Changeling, The Children (1980), Death Becomes Her, Dellamore Dellamorte (Cemetery Man), Demons, Don't Look Now, Eden Lake, The Fog (1980), Freaks, From Beyond, Ginger Snaps, The Haunting (1963), Hell Night, Horror of Dracula, The Howling, The Hunger, Idle Hands, The Innocents, It's Alive (1974), 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, Phantasm, Prom Night (1980), Rear Window, Ringu (2003), Scanners, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Stepford Wives (1975), Shadow of the Vampire, Sleepaway Camp, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Tenant (1976), White Zombie, Zombie Lake.


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Tags: Horror, Fun Stuff, M. Enois Duarte, HDD Godie Bag 2012, HDD Goodie Bag (all tags)