Family game night at the Brooks household was no joke. Board games were a prominent fixture in our family room; Monopoly® games left untouched for days at a time, ready for resume play at a moment’s notice, and blue and pink Life® people were permanently embedded in the carpet. When our parents unearthed a tattered box with the word ‘Clue’ on the top, my sister and I had no idea what was in store. This antique relic (it was probably an 80’s edition, but as kids, anything older than you is an antique) would begin a lifelong obsession with a unique game of deception and secrecy. I still remember our combined delight when a trusted video store clerk pointed us in the direction of Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 adaptation of the game. How could this possibly be a thing, and why didn’t we already know about it? We grabbed the VHS, and headed home. That night changed us forever, and our love for Clue singlehandedly kept that video store in business (one of the last holdouts against Blockbuster in the neighborhood). As the crowning jewel atop our Halloween marathon, Clue was a yearly event that we anticipated as much as the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials, or the Thanksgiving Bond-a-thon (albeit that one was more me than my little sister). And before you say, “Clue isn’t a Halloween movie, much less a Horror movie;” any movie that takes place in a spooky mansion and surrounds six murders is damn close enough.
Stephen King is widely regarded as a master or the horror/suspense genre, and with fifty-five published novels under his belt, one of the most prolific. His first novel, and consequently the first film adapted from his writing, Carrie, is a mainstay of the horror genre. Heralded as not only one of the best adaptations of King’s work, but as one of the best horror films ever made, Carrie has been keeping audiences on the edge of their seats for almost forty years.
Opening in a manner befit of a cliché 1970’s porno, Carrie follows a group of girls into the locker room, where the steamy atmosphere is ripe with hairspray and teenage angst. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), one of the least unlikable, yet most disliked girl in school, suffers crippling embarrassment at the ever-brutal hands of Mother Nature. The rest of the film follows thusly, mostly showing Carrie being the butt of jokes, and being constantly belittled by everyone – including her mother. Things take a much darker turn when Carrie’s hopes are built up by her crush’s invitation to prom, and dashed by the cruelty of teenage girls.
David Cronenberg’s visceral and alarming, The Brood, strikes a terrifying chord with its absence of a horror intermediary (i.e. monsters, serial killers) and goes straight for the jugular of fear – a threat masked by the innocence of a child.
In a darkened room, two men sit cross-legged on a stage. The “father” is berating his “son” for being a cowardly disappointment. As he castigates his “son,” sores start to consume his body, until, at a precipice of emotion, the two men embrace, and the exercise is over. Dr Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) is a psychotherapist and practitioner of “psychoplasmic” therapy, and currently the caretaker of Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar). Nola’s husband, Frank (Art Hindle), is forced to “accept” her chosen methods of treatment (which he considers nonsense), and care for their five-year-old daughter, Candice “Candy” (Cindy Hinds). When Nola’s mother is horrifically murdered by an unknown assailant, and in front of Candy, Frank is forced to take action to protect his daughter. As the murders pile up, Frank comes to a bizarre and terrifying conclusion, the likes of which, only David Cronenberg could dream up.
Quiet and precise, unassuming yet powerful, Let the Right One In moves much like that of its vampiric subject, and is a focused and refreshing take on the vampire narrative.
Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a shy twelve-year-old boy living in an apartment complex with his mother, when a strange new tenant moves in next door. A habitual loner, Oskar spends much of his time outside, on a snow-covered jungle gym, where he first meets Eli (Lina Leandersson). As the two continue to meet at the “playground” they begin to bond over Oskar’s bullying and Eli’s quick solution to a Rubik’s Cube. When murders – coinciding with Eli’s arrival – start piling up, it is apparent that this young girl is more than she appears.