My Halloween Playlist
"You Do Know What Tonight Is, Don't You...?"
By Andreas Charalambous
Halloween has always been one of my favourite times of the year. I’ve always thought that it was a shame we don’t celebrate it as much in the UK as they do in the US. The catalyst for my love of horror films was one October 31st as a youngster. Coming home from school, I went to a neighbour’s house to play with some school friends. Their brother – a few years older than us – decided to enlighten us on the traditions of Halloween. “You do know what tonight is, don’t you”, he said. We all stared back at him blankly wondering if “Friday” was the correct answer. It wasn’t. Well, technically it was, as it happened to be a Friday, but he meant Halloween. Having been quite young at the time, we listened on fascinated by his description of all the ghosts, ghouls and witches that were to be roaming around this very night.
The short walk home was one that made me have a spring in my step, as I was still fascinated by this new discovery – probably not the effect the older brother was hoping for. That evening, I somehow found out that John Carpenter’s Halloween was to be shown on television and I was lucky enough to be able to stay up late and watch it with my cool uncle – who was himself a teenager at the time. I’ll never forget that feeling of amazement that I had after the end credits started rolling, with that instantly recognisable theme music – the fact that the ‘monster’ was shot repeatedly, fell off the balcony below, but still managed to get up and escape when no-one was looking! It was also quite cool that Donald Pleasance looked remarkably like my grandfather!
So, this is why I am here today, writing about what I love the most. I've also been lucky enough to be able to incorporate this passion into my career and lecture on film. I'm now in the process of doing a PhD where I will be conducting academic research on the topic of horror films. I have had a number of horror-related articles published in various books and journals, and have also been an invited guest speaker to a number of international horror cinema conferences over the years - as well as being interviewed for horror features within leading international cinema and film magazine publications.
You may be wondering why I’ve included all of this information - it is all down to that one day in my childhood. Because of that night, I always have Halloween permanently in my Halloween playlist. Be warned - there just aren’t enough hours in the day to watch all these films on Halloween (unless you attempt to watch them solidly over the 24-hour period) but they are all very much part of my Halloween playlist.
So, with this in mind - film number one…
Halloween (1978) dir. John Carpenter - An absolute classic horror film loved by generations of horror fans, and a personal favourite of mine.
The Fog (1980) dir. John Carpenter - Another great Carpenter film I enjoyed from a young age. Ghostly pirates.. Can't go wrong, really!
(I promise it's not all Carpenter films on my list!)
The Thing (1982) dir. John Carpenter - This one too! Alien-themed paranoia in one of the remotest locations on the planet. (Room for one more?)
Prince of Darkness (1987) dir. John Carpenter - (Ok. Last one!) Amongst many other reasons, it stars Donald Pleasance and Alice Cooper!
Ghostwatch (1992) dir. Lesley Manning - First watched this 'live' on BBC television one memorable Halloween night. Still a fun - if dated - watch.
Clownhouse (1989) dir. Victor Salva - Despite behind-the-scenes controversies, this is an atmospheric and enjoyable film... unless you
suffer from severe coulrophobia.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007) dir. Michael Dougherty - The latest addition to my playlist. An intricately intertwined collection of narratives set on
Halloween night. A fun anthology film.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) dir. George A. Romero - The birth of the modern zombie. A special film indeed.
The Evil Dead (1981) dir. Sam Raimi - A group of teenagers have their weekend in a remote cabin totally ruined.
House on Haunted Hill (1959) dir. William Castle - How can we celebrate Halloween without some Vincent Price in there!?
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) dir. Philip Kaufman - The best of all the Body Snatchers interpretations.
The Haunting (1963) dir. Robert Wise - A classic 'haunted house' horror film, which is ingenious in its scares and atmosphere.
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My Halloween Playlist
By Liam Cairns
The first horror film I ever watched, in its entirety, was the remake of The Haunting starring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta Jones. I was eleven. It is still the worst horror film I have ever watched. But, whether or not I like to admit it, it was the film that introduced me to the genre and set me on the path I have walked to this day.
Ever since that day I have indulged in everything horror that I can find – every film, book on the subject, radio drama, anthology, stage play; you name it and I have done it. My A-level project for Film and Media was a short horror film entitled Hour Of The Phantom - a short ten minute piece about a lonely caretaker stalked by an unknown force wishing to destroy her. Looking back on it, the audio is terrible and the plot is non-existent. But it did make it into a local film festival and some people still enjoy it (or so I'm told).
You can still view it here on my YouTube channel.
At university, I continued with other horror projects including Guest Of Honour, a black comedy involving a dog served as the main course, and a modern adaption of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, this time with two women instead of men. These can be seen on my Vimeo page.
Horror both fascinates and thrills me. It scratches an inch for the macabre that I have always had. Perhaps it's the adrenaline rush of being scared or something hidden in the sub conscious that only appears in a well-crafted horror story. Whatever the reason, the horror bug has always been with me and it isn't going away!
To celebrate my favourite time of year (second only to Christmas of course!) here is a list of my ten favourite films, in no particular order, to watch on October 31st.
Creepshow (1982) dir. George A. Romero - A tribute to the EC comics of the 50's, this is the quintessential fun horror film. The icing on the cake
is a screenplay by Stephen King himself.
[REC] (2007) dir. Jaume Balagueró - Easily one of the most intense horror films of the last decade, revitalising the “found-footage” genre and
scared the willies out of everyone doing it. Ignore the American remake.
The Haunting (1963) dir. Robert Wise - The original adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel remains an all-time classic and deserves to be watched
in the dark. Atmospheric and chilling, it has aged remarkably well.
The Innkeepers (2011) dir. Ti West - Writer/Director Ti West has never been at his most suspenseful than in this modern ghost story. It has a
slower pace than other chillers but it only serves to create a truly creepy atmosphere.
Fright Night (1985) dir. Tom Holland - Another fun horror film. The 2011 remake lacked the camp charm and witty characterisation that makes
the original an 80's classic.
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) dir. Kim Jee-Woon - Based on Korean folklore, this technically flawless film works brilliantly as a drama about a
dysfunctional family as it does a disturbing horror film. Not one to watch alone!
Suspiria (1977) dir. Dario Argento - Arguably the best of all the giallo thrillers, Argento's masterpiece combines satanic rituals, dazzling lighting
effects and buckets of blood.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) dir. Victor Fleming - Another old-school choice, Fleming's adaptation of the novel stars Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman. Subtle and Freudian for more high-brow horror.
Halloween (1978) dir. John Carpenter - Let's face it, you can't celebrate the occasion without Carpenter's groundbreaking Halloween. Still the best Slasher ever made.
Deathdream (1972) dir. Bob Clark - Loosely inspired by The Monkey's Paw, the story follows a Vietnam soldier return from the dead to extract blood from the living for sustenance. An under-rated horror classic.
My Halloween Playlist
By Charlotte Castle
As a child, horror was never my first choice. I can still remember every time Michael Jackson’s Thriller came on the television set I would run out of the room screaming to my mum to switch it off. My brothers and I had to share a bedroom for a time in my childhood. They are a few years older than me and had also developed a large appetite for the macabre. When they wanted to watch a horror film, nine times out of ten I would have no choice but to watch too. Due to their disregard for the fact I was watching what they were watching, I experienced a few horror classics such as The Shining and The Lost Boys and a few recent ones such as Resident Evil as I got older.
It was not until I turned seven, that I began to develop a strange fascination with ghost stories and vampires novels. Although I was still unable to watch full-fledged horror films, I compensated by watching television series’ such as Are You Afraid of The Dark and Goosebumps. It wasn’t until I began my first few years of secondary school, did I become the horror fan that I am today. Horror films became an emotional outlet for me.
As a student I suffered from a lot of teasing and social isolation. Through these films I was able to let out any frustrations or anger I had at the time. Due to unpopularity, there were few places to hang out without the risk of ridicule. As a result, I made the school library my home away from home. It gave me a great opportunity to discover new gothic fiction and soon I became a fan of authors like Edgar Allan Poe, James Herbert and Anne Rice.
Thanks to my love for horror, my skills in language and literature improved and my knowledge of folklore and history expanded. I would make regular visits to my local cinema whenever a new horror film was released. At the time, I was not concerned about the film’s quality but simply hoped that I would be given an exciting thrill for that evening. Some nights were better than others but I never stopped going back.
I continued the same routine through my sixth form years. By the time I turned eighteen, I started to realise there is a quality that I look for in horror films. I look for films that will not just scare you but play with you, make you think something is about to happen and then do something completely different. To this day I continue to visit libraries and cinemas looking for the thrill and release that only horror can provide.
The Omen (1976) dir. Richard Donner
The Shining (1980) dir. Stanley Kubrick
Creepshow (1982) dir. George A. Romero
Creepshow 2 (1987) dir. Michael Gornick
The Woman in Black (1989) dir. Herbert Wise
Dead Silence (2007) dir. James Wan
Masters of Horror: The Black Cat (2007) dir. Stuart Gordon and Stuart Ortiz
Thirst (1979) dir. Rod Hardy
The Lost Boys (1987) dir. Joel Schumacher
The Unborn (2009) dir. David S. Goyer
Insidous (2010) dir. James Wan
Interview with the Vampire (1994) dir. Neil Jordan
My Halloween Playlist
Sugar, Wet Nazis and a Love Affair Born
The Fog (1980) dir. John Carpenter
Halloween (1978) dir. John Carpenter
Dawn of the Dead (1978) dir. George A. Romero
The Return of the Living Dead (1985) dir. Dan O'Bannon
Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) dir. Lucio Fulci
It’s a pity then, that the film itself is a complete and utter mess. Directed by Jean Rollin in 1981 and widely considered his worst film ever. In fact he was so ashamed of his part in the film that he directed it under the name J.A Laser and didn’t admit his involvement for many years. That said for an eleven year old boy with nothing to compare it to and a film offering eighty minutes of zombies, nudity and soldiers it was quite simply the finest piece of cinema imaginable.
Set in a French village, the “Lake of Ghosts” as the locals call it is home to a squad of undead Nazis ruthlessly killed and dumped by French resistance fighters during World War II who terrorise anyone (particularly young naked women) who dare to go near the lake and disturb them. The zombies themselves are painted as green as Emu`s nemesis Grotbags - but are a lot less frightening. It has a ludicrous side story of a zombie befriending a young girl and the less said about the acting, dubbing and soundtrack the better, but to an eleven year old boy loaded with sugar (I found my hidden bounty)
Nearly three decades later and with countless thousands of horror films viewed and horror books read I have
a lot to thank Jean Rollin and his band of green men for. Without them, I might have missed the wonderful
works of George A Romero, the films and music of John Carpenter, the murderous mayhem of Jason and his
mum or the London jaunt of an American Werewolf.
My lifelong passion began that day with Zombie Lake and little did I know at the time, but it could only get
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and full of adrenalin thanks to breaking not just a law in my own house but an actual real law, this was the most fantastic introduction to horror films I could hope for.
When in 1985 an eleven year old boy was tipping his house upside down and on the brink of a tantrum in the search for his lost treasure of a Sherbet Fountain and a Wham bar accidently stumbled across a VHS copy of Zombie Lake a lifelong love affair with zombies and horror was well and truly born.
Twenty eight years later and that same boy, now considerably older and with a lot less hair (but still hiding sweets) is, if anything, much more in love with the genre and now, thankfully, able to watch it without fear of his parents or the police catching him.
In 1985 my uncle owned a small video shop on the outskirts of our town - the very same video shop I would work in for most of my teenage years - and my father had borrowed a copy of Zombie Lake (to watch when my mother had gone to bed no doubt). The fact that I wasn’t allowed to watch it mixed with the images on the cover made it utterly desirable. I simply had to watch it. The only thing that could make it better was finding my damned sweets to scoff while watching it. The wonderful VHS big box copy actually titled Zombies Lake was released by Modern Films Video and had a cover to literally die for, full of undead Nazis snacking on young women and what appears to be a bout of synchronised swimming. It is a fantastic example of Eighties VHS covers and I still own an exact copy with the same lurid images but sadly have no machine to play it on. It really does look wonderful on my shelf though.
My Halloween Playlist
By Anthony Silver
The Halloween season is upon us! That hot sticky Summer weather is gone and the cool, crisp autumn air is blowing in. The orange leaves making the best scenery of the year and provide an atmosphere that's calming but yet somehow creepy. This can only mean it's time to watch some scary movies! I don't remember much of my childhood but I have one very vivid memory that stands out. I must have been 8 years old. I was spending the weekend at my dad's house, playing with my Ghostbusters action figures in my room. It was way past my bed time - maybe 11:30pm.
My dad had just gone to bed and I waited an hour for him to fall asleep before I snuck downstairs to watch my VHS copy of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie. I switched on the television - making sure the volume was at zero - and before I could even think of popping the tape in, I saw something that shocked me so much that without even thinking, I spun round and covered my eyes. I was terrified. I had never seen anything like that before. It was putrid and disgusting. Although scared and horrified, a part of me wanted to see more. I was curious so I slowly turned back to face the screen with my hands still covering my eyes. Very slowly, I opened my fingers and observed in horror as Jeff Goldblum's Brundle fly dissolved Stathis Borans' (John Getz) hand and foot with human-fly vomit. Of course, it wasn't till years later that I discovered what I had seen.
At the time, I was so frightened, it disturbed me to the core. I was watching something I knew I shouldn’t have been, but I was compelled to see more. I liked that feeling and I kept it to myself. A few weeks later, I was staying with a friend whose parents were out for a few hours. He put on a television channel that I had never heard of before, called Sky Movies. We watched an unknown movie called Friday the 13th - Part 3. There was a big on-screen graphic at the start of the film saying "Over 18s" and "Contains scary scenes and violence." We were in!
I watched, once again terrified but strangely having fun at the same time. I took this as an omen as I was born on Friday the 13th 1982 - the same day, month and year the film was released. I never enjoyed rollercoasters or thrill rides as a child (or as an adult for that matter). I slowly discovered that my adrenaline rushes came from being scared and afraid of the dark and unknown horrors that cinema had to offer. Twenty-three years - and most likely a thousand or so movies - later, I yearn for any film to give me that rush again. Some do, but sadly nowadays, most are recycled and rebranded trash. With that in mind, I give you some of my favorite films to watch during this Halloween season.
Let’s start with numero uno...
The Fly (1986) dir. David Cronenberg - The film that started my obsession with all things horror. Yes, it's a remake, but still to this day in my opinion it's the best one and holds up very well.
Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) dir. Tom McLoughlin - My favorite Friday film and considered a fan favorite in the franchise. This is largely attributed to the use of humor. Great kills!
Night of the Living Dead (1990) dir. Tom Savini - Don't get me wrong. The original is the better film but I personally enjoyed this great remake from the effects legend, Mr Tom Savini. This film made zombies scary again, in a pre-Walking Dead world.
The Thing (1982) dir. John Carpenter - This is possibly my all-time favorite horror film. Amazing effects that again, still hold the test of time. A fantastic blend of isolation, paranoia and dread.
Re-Animator (1985) dir. Stuart Gordon - I'm a huge HP Lovecraft fan. The story of Herbert West portrayed by the great Jeffrey Combs is a shocking, funny and gory cinematic romp.
Day of the Dead (1985) dir. George A. Romero - I was going to include Dawn of the Dead on my list, but I must admit that this one sits just above it for me. It's darker, bleaker and has Joseph Pilato as the twisted Captain Rhodes & Sherman Howard as Bub the Zombie!
Fright Night (1985) dir. Tom Holland - An all-time personal favorite of mine. It captures everything you need from an 80's Vamp flick - creepy atmosphere, superb performances, great 80's music, werewolves(!) and of course the amazing, late Roddy McDowall.
Night of the Creeps (1986) dir. Fred Dekker - This film has everything. Space ships, aliens, brain eating leeches, zombies, flamethrowers and a great performance by Tom Atkins. What more can you ask for? Thrill me!
Dead Snow (2007) dir. Tommy Wirkola - Pissed off zombie nazis vs. a group of students on a skiing vacation in the mountains of Norway. 'Nuff said!
The Gate (1987) dir. Tibor Takács - Cheesy as hell - "hell" being the right word! A great example of a pre-CGI world. Superb stop-motion effects ensue when a young Stephen Dorff inadvertently opens a gate to hell and has to take on its minions.
In the Mouth of Madness (1995) dir. John Carpenter - The third installment in what Carpenter calls his Apocalypse Trilogy. This film was critically panned when first released but has gained a cult following over the years. Well-deserved too. Lived any good books lately?
Dr Giggles (1992) dir. Manny Coto - Ok, this is the bottom of the barrel but a guilty pleasure of mine. Larry Drake gives a hysterical performance as the psychopath with the one-liners, Dr Giggles.
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