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Torn Light Halloween Must Watch List.

Torn Light’s Halloween Season Movie Watchlist – by Justin Wiese

We’re midway through October of 2020, truly one of the most ghoulish years of all time, and we at Torn Light thought that we could share our list of Halloween season film recommends that contain classics as well as some deep cuts to put into your seasonal rotation!

1. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982, dir. Tommy Lee Wallace)

– When director John Carpenter made the original HALLOWEEN in 1978, he never intended for Michael Myers to show up in another movie again. So after the mandated sequel HALLOWEEN 2 was released, Carpenter handed the reins of the franchise over to Tommy Lee Wallace with the direction to move the series away from the Myers family and to instead create a new, holiday-centric mythos around the third film. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH was almost uniformly panned when released, a disappointed public outcry occured when Michael Myers failed to show up, and it’s only been within the last 20 years that horror fans have came to embrace one of the most inventive, wild and misunderstood Halloween films of all time. Staring Tom Adkins and Stacey Nelkin as a pair of strangers brought together to combat an evil corporation hellbent on bringing the holiday of Samhain back to it’s bloody pagan roots, HALLOWEEN III is a perfect, weird little movie for the Halloween season and one of our top favorites at Torn Light. So much so that it was our first October film to be programmed at the Esquire Theatre in 2019! Absolutely essential.

2. BLACK SABBATH (1963, dir. Mario Bava)

– Mario Bava’s 1963 horror anthology BLACK SABBATH is soaked in spectacular gothic imagery, rich vibrant colors, thick rising fog and gruesome black magic. Featuring a wide array of ghouls, undead, psychics and the legend himself Boris Karloff in the segment “The Wardulak”, it’s perhaps one of the greatest anthologies of all time. Perfect seasonal vibes all around.


3. ABBOT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948, dir. Charles Barton)

– Maybe not the first horror comedy, but definitely the first to make a huge impact. Comedy duo Bud Abbot and Lou Costello were brought into a unfinished Frankenstein feature to add a different element to the film, and the success of MEET FRANKENSTEIN was so huge that this would be the first of many films where the pair met the stable of monsters at Universal Pictures. In this film, Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi, in the only officially reprisal of the character he made famous) sets a plan in motion to replace the brain in the Frankenstein Monster (played by Glenn Strange) with that of our friend Lou Costello. Luckily the Wolfman himself, Larry Talbot (played once again by Lon Chaney Jr.), is on Abbot & Costello’s side, and the trio set off to stop the mad count. By the time the finale happens and you get all three monsters brawling, it’s total perfection. Keep an eye out for Vincent Price as the Invisible Man.


4. HAPPY HELL NIGHT (1992, dir. Brian Owens)

– An overlooked and underseen early 90’s slasher movie set on Halloween night, HAPPY HELL NIGHT is definitely a film in search of a cult and a modern reappraisal. When a frat-house hazing prank goes awry, an incredibly evil, immortal killer priest is let loose from an insane asylum and is set on continuing the body count he created 25 years earlier. The priest himself is a mixture of Freddy Krueger and Kurt Barlow from SALEM’S LOT, a legitimately unsettling and frightening villain, although the film’s troubled production caused him to not only dispatch frat boys in nasty ways, but to also spit one-liners after every kill. Goofy as hell but also effectively scary, a rare combination!


5. VIY (1967, dir. Georgiy Kropachyov, Konstantin Ershov)

– The very first horror film made in the Soviet Union, VIY is unlike any film before it or since. A young, inexperienced priest is given the task to preside over the wake of a witch in a remote village, and to do so means staying in her death chamber for three nights alone with her corpse. As you would expect, unbelievable and phantasmagoric events start to occur during this tomb occupation, including one of the most incredible last 30 minutes of any horror film in history. Top tier spooky vibes and when the creatures start showing up, you won’t believe what you’re watching.


6. SPOOKIES (1986, dir. Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran, Brendan Faulkner)

– THE ULTIMATE. A Frankenstein’s monster of a movie, stitched together from pieces of multiple different movies, languishing in obscurity on VHS for years, and only available in HD in the last year, SPOOKIES is one of the strangest and most bizarre 80’s horror movies of all time. In lieu of a plot description, because there’s no way to properly describe what exactly happens in this joyful mess, here’s a list of some of the creatures you may see in SPOOKIES: zombies, giant spiders, lizard goblins, warlocks, ghosts, swamp monsters, werecats, pig people, loudly farting mud monsters, an incredible looking grim reaper, and a dork with a mustache who uses a muppet. It’s unreal, it’s completely ridiculous, it’s SPOOKIES!


7. HAXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES (1922, dir. Benjamin Christopher)

– The original satanic panic film, this early 20’s silent faux-documentary is legendary for a reason. Using, at the time, state-of-the-art special effects and storytelling, HAXAN presents itself as an examination of why witchcraft and evil forces exist and where they come from, using some of the most sublimely evil reinactments of high sabbaths, perverse torture, grave robbing, and demonic possession ever put on film. Still astonishing to watch, even nearly 100 years later.


8. HOUSU (1977, dir. Nobuhiko Ōbayashi)

– An utterly batshit crazy Japanese school girl haunted house movie that takes cues from Italian horror, native Japanese witchcraft, pop-art madness and even Scooby Doo cartoons, HOUSU (AKA HOUSE) is one of the wildest rides in all of Japanese genre cinema, and that’s saying a lot. Disembodied heads, buckets of blood, flying demons, carnivourous pianos, and of course, cats. LIke many of the movies on this list, you won’t believe what you’re watching. Prepare to be amazed!


9. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981, dir. Frank De Felitta)

– A Halloween-set made-for-television movie that has lived on in many people’s memory since it’s first airing in 1981, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW is a powerful little piece of Americana that still works as a disclaimer and warning of the dangers of mob rule. When a mentally challenged man is unjustly slain by an angry mob of bigots, one by one vengenise is enacted on each of the men from supernatural forces disguised as a mysterious scarecrow that appears in fields surrounding their house. A visceral and affecting watch, especially today!


10. THE BEYOND (1981, dir. Lucio Fulci)

– The horror masterpiece of Italian genre film legend Lucio Fulci, THE BEYOND is haunting, disturbing, disgusting and a waking nightmare in every sense. When one of the gates of hell is unearthed under a hotel in Louisiana, the dead rise and walk the earth, resulting in carnage and unholy bloodshed upon the world. Dreamlike, atmospheric and unbelievably gory, Fulci packs in multiple horrific death scenes and some of the most startling imagery ever put to film, all with an incredible score by Fabio Frizzi pulsing underneath. One of the greatest horror films of the 80’s and perhaps of all time!


  October 22, 2020  |  News