With Halloween today, many people may be going out tonight, but as it’s a Thursday, some may have celebrated this past weekend, while others may just not be able to take off work/school/etc. tomorrow. So for tonight, why not pick a fun, scary but not too scary movie for the Halloween season? These films are all streaming on Netflix right now.
Honorable Mention: Shaun of the Dead
Though not on Netflix instant, alas, we couldn’t not mention Shaun of the Dead, as it is one of the best horror-comedies every made, and works as both. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s script is firing on all cylinders, and the film is already a cult classic. So if you own it, it might be fun to throw it on for the season. If you haven’t too recently.
5. Land of the Dead
Though not on par with George Romero’s original Living Dead trilogy, Land of the Dead is easily his most fun of the series as it follows Riley Denbo (pre-Mentalist Simon Baker) as he lives in Fiddler’s Green with a town of survivors. Things go bad when the evil sheriff/owner tries to keep his police in line, but though it’s definitely got zombies snacking on humans, there’s an old west vibe to whole thing, and just enough of Romero’s political commentary to keep things interesting.
4. The Frighteners
Before Peter Jackson became the Lord of the Rings, he made a number of splatter horror that were also ghoulishly funny. The Frighteners was his attempt at doing a big studio ghost story, which was met with little acclaim. But this gem of a movie delivers laughs and frights in equal measure, but it’s the mid-movie turn that makes it special. There’s actually a great story here not worth spoiling, and the film works on a emotional level that should be no surprise to fans of Jackson’s earlier Heavenly Creatures.
3. Bride of Chucky
A franchise that got more ludicrous as it went along, for the fourth entry Hong Kong director Ronny Yu was brought in, and his stylish tone keeps this movie from devolving into camp. Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) is in love with Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif), so she fixes up the Chucky doll up and resurrects him, while a neighbor is in love the niece (Katherine Heigl) of the chief of police, but the chief wants to keep these lovers apart. Tiffany is turned into a doll, and the two lovers run off to get married using money gotten from Tiffany to deliver two dolls. As they’re transporting the murderous doll couple, violence follows in their wake, which makes them wanted by the police and they think the other person might have done it. Clever, well shot and funny, Bride of Chucky is easily the series’ best sequel.
For those who like old school horror films and a lot of gore, there’s nothing quite like Stuart Gordon’s masterpiece Re-Animator. Jeffery Combs stars as Herbert West, who is a medical student working on a formula to reanimate life. But his professor Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) is jealous of his work, and eventually tries to steal his formula. Things get bad from there. What’s so great about Re-Animator is how it builds. It starts with some disgusting things, but as the film moves into the third act, it just amps up the crazy, and keeps turning up the volume until a severed head tries to give a tied-up woman oral pleasures. And then it keeps getting crazier. At a certain point it just becomes so over the top that it’s hard not to laugh, but the secret is that that was the master plan all along.
1. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
If you haven’t seen Sam Raimi’s horror slapstick film, there’s no better time than the present. And if you have seen it, groovy. But what better way to enjoy the holiday with this spook-a-blast movie, which became a cult legend because Bruce Campbell puts on a (mostly) one-man show as Ash, who loses his girlfriend (and hand) to an evil demonic spirit in the woods. That spirit also seems to have a sense of humor as it likes to mess with Ash’s mind. Much like Re-Animator, what’s amazing about Evil Dead 2 is its sense of pacing. There’s a sense that the picture is at full gallop for much of the running time, and it just keeps getting nuttier. You know it’s going to be sharp when Ash has to chainsaw off his infected hand, which then comes back to life so he imprisons it with a bucket. Which he then stacks books on top of. The top book? A Farewell to Arms.
What do you plan to watch for Halloween?