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The Other Halloween: Movies

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There are those of us that are not socially inclined, those of us that may balk at the idea of partaking in sweaty, alcohol fueled festivities with a group of strangers for a cover charge. Perhaps we are just too exhausted to throw together a costume and pretend rave for the night only to have to wake up for work the next morning hung over and covered in the sticky, stray gore makeup of others.

Sometimes, Halloween is a night best spent ignoring the pleading cries of trick-or-treaters while eating all the candy you intended for them and basking in the serene light of a Netflix marathon. So if you’re one of these people. put on your jammies, turn off your porch light and prepare for a night of self-imposed horror cinematic isolation from everyone’s favorite affordable streaming service. Here are some movie ideas for Halloween night:

(No spoilers, folks!)

‘The Omen’-1976

The film opens on rainy night in Rome, where we learn that the Thorns, a couple played by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, have lost their newborn son moments after birth.

Unbeknownst to his wife and at the suggestion of a priest, Peck swaps the dead child out for one born in the same hospital whose mother died in childbirth, christening him Damien. By Damien’s fifth birthday, the strange events, and even stranger behaviors of those around him that seem to be of an accursed nature, hardly surpass the notice of his parents, as well as a photographer who has the opportunity (misfortune?) of documenting these anomalies and begins an investigation about the child and his origins.

True to 70’s horror form, the plot blossoms methodically while taking the time to draw the viewer in, letting the fear seep like a dark, tall shadow under a closed door.  Just as in other classics such as “The Exorcist,” “The Wicker Man” and “The Shining,” the complete lack of CGI lends itself to a more unnerving, subtle terror that is told by the camera, acting as an eye glaring into the characters’ own private hell.

‘Halloween’-1978

Everyone knows the hockey mask-wearing mugshot of knife-wielding serial killer Michael Meyers, though I didn’t actually see this film until last year. When I finally did, it scared the living bejesus out of me. There is something to be said about a movie that is so suspenseful it gives you back pain.

In John Carpenter’s crowning horror achievement, mentally disturbed Michael Meyers escapes from an institution that held him since childhood for brutally murdering his sister, and he returns to his hometown. While his doctor frantically tries to track him down, Meyers takes his psychotic murdering tendencies out on babysitter Laurie Strode and friends, stalking and terrorizing in a slow, savory fashion that makes the 91 minute running time feel like 91 long, tense years.

Meyers is very much the predator playing with his ignorant prey, drawing the tension out to unbearable, spine cracking levels that allow the film to reach a degree of such psychological terror that all he has to do is stand there to raise the audience’s pulse.

‘American Werewolf in London’-1981

Before the supernatural was celebrated in mainstream culture and touted as a badge of inclusion amongst tween cliques, there where movies like this.

Two young, able bodied college men are hiking through the foggy mores of England in the middle of the night, and things go terribly awry when they are stalked and attacked by a mysterious beast. After the terrifying ordeal, the man left standing is confined to a hospital bed at the care of an attractive and kind nurse.

He then experiences a sad and bone wrenching metamorphosis. The film has its own sense of brutal violence and maintains a sense of dread and desperation in the fever dreams of the afflicted. Plus, the epic final scene takes place in front of an unsavory porn theater in an ally in the dregs of London.

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