It’s the 31st of October, which means the Southeast Asian nightlife & social scene will be Halloween-themed. Cosplays, traditional Universal Monster getups, pop culture icon outfits, skin-revealing ensembles: no outfit type is spared.
Or maybe not since it’s a weekday and all the Halloween parties were happening during the past weekend, but whatever. The whole costume dress-up is fun and all, but I prefer to have a solid foundation of entertainment and activities to go along with the dress-up bit. Oh, and Halloween-themed drinks: can’t forget those.
That means movie marathons, gaming marathons, and even more of that. Whether they’re new or old, I’m going to list down my favourites. Hopefully, they’ll be yours too.
The Exorcist Trilogy
Demon possessions, and the priests who banish the mischief makers to hell. The first one is a classic, no questions asked. Priest exorcizes demon from a little girl; all kinds of awesome scares, dread, and crazy horrifying moments. The second one is awkward and feels more like a drama-comedy of errors. It focused more on what happened to Regan post-Exorcist 1, and really, she’s not as engaging or fun to root for.
It gets silly especially when the cast keeps mentioning the name “Pazuzu” so many times. Yes, it’s a real demon in Babylonian times but it doesn’t make it any less goofy.
The third one is underrated. It features ghost psychos, really cool jump scares and shock moments, and a narrative with a number of twist and turns. It also proved once and again why Brad “Chucky” Dourif is a horror treasure.
The Saw Franchise; All Of It
The one show that made torture horror mainstream before it died in obscurity thanks to other cinema horror fads at the time -hello Paranormal Activity! Still, the first few Saw films and even the sixth one were decent films that kept the Jigsaw legacy going.
If you don’t know what this film is, here’s a brief synopsis: a serial killer named Jigsaw creates traps for his victims that they can escape from if they sacrifice some of their flesh and blood (and even more). There’s a subplot involving Jigsaw himself, John Kramer, and his successors and the people tied to him, but it’s all weaved in some elaborate scheme.
Of course, there’s a ton of plot twists and turns that I won’t go into detail, with some of them kinda making sense and most of them requiring a lot of precognition and lucky assumptions from Jigsaw and his proteges. The absurdity of the plot threads and even the traps requires your attention; do keep an open mind and a strong stomach when making this film series your Halloween staple.
I even got a kick out of watching Jigsaw, the latest Saw film that builds upon the show’s legacy, but alas we won’t be seeing more sequels since it flopped hard in box offices everywhere. Guess no one can appreciate a good Jigsaw trap, eh?
Tim Burton’s Claymation Extravaganza
Forget the noise that is the Alice in Wonderland duology. Tim Burton made his mark as an auteur with his stop motion animated wonders (and also Batman and that one other movie with a guy with scissors for hands). I’m talking about Vincent, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie. All of his stop-motion animated works are usually goldmines due to how cute and weird they can get, and comes with some tinge of scariness and delightful ugliness to them.
From the one about how a Halloween icon tries to take over Christmas with horrid consequences to a meek groom accidentally married to a half-ghost bride, you cannot fathom the amount of work and thought put into these film’s art direction, animation, and charm.
The First Three Nightmare On Elm Street Films
Before Freddy Kruger became a horror-comedy icon who is fond of catchphrases, ads, and the word “bitch”, he was an actual horror icon in the first three films. He’s the guy who kills you in your dreams, a former basement janitor pedophile who terrorizes future generations of Elm Street kids with his claw hands, disfigured face, and twisted mad dream-killing skills.
He makes the bed eat people and spit them out, have his head and elongated neck pop out of a TV and kill victims, and even terrorize kids in a pool party somehow. I don’t care; it’s pretty cool to watch.
You can just forget about the next few films (save Wes Craven’s New Nightmare; that was awesome) and just look back at the trilogy that showed us new and inventive ways to kill people in their sleep.
Cabin In The Woods
One of Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s best love letter to the horror genre. Basically, it’s about four teens who reside in a cabin in the woods; strange horror stuff happens. That is all I am going to say because the twist and premise are just too good to share and spoil.
I will say this: Detroit – Become Human fans will get a kick out of seeing Marcus out of his revolutionary element here.
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
Nope, this film has nothing to do with Michael Meyers, Laurie Strode, Michael’s psychic cousin, Dr. Loomis, or even Paul Rudd pre-Ant-Man. This one’s a totally separate film that just happens to have the Halloween title in it. When I saw it the first time, I hated it because it wasn’t the Halloween I remembered. But I gave it a second chance and watched it as a standalone film. And surprisingly, it captured my attention.
It’s unfortunate that this film has Halloween and “3” in the title, which led to a lot of angry John Carpenter slasher flick fans. But as a film about a TV Halloween ad that messes up kids wearing specialized masks and the heroes who need to stop this weird magic schtick, the film is all kinds of funny, weirdness, and dread.
Castlevania Netflix Series
After seeing both Season 1 and Season 2 of this animated action-horror series, I am convinced that there is such a thing as a damn good film adaptation of a video game series. This series recaps the story of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse but with a number of great key changes. Trevor’s a drunk trying to reclaim glory and relevance, Alucard’s got daddy issues, and Sypha’s bringing the team together with her optimism.
Along the way, we get not so subtle nods to the evils of religion, fleshed out villains, and a load of easter eggs for Castlevania fans. Remember Hector and Isaac from the Curse of Darkness games? They’re in here. Slogra and Gaibon from Super Castlevania IV? They made a short appearance here too.
And of course, who can forget the two standout moments from each season? Season 1 had the lovely fight at the end, and Season 2 capped the series off with an episode called “For Love”. I won’t say more than that because the stuff that happens after this 4-second clip below is beyond amazing.
Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2018)
Let’s cap off this feature with the two films that made Halloween and slasher flicks pretty iconic: the first Halloween film and the most recent one, both from John Carpenter. The first one is about Michael Meyers and his killing spree and focuses more on the “where is this indestructible boogeyman hiding at?” and dread these horror films are supposed to evoke.
The 2018 film, basically the sequel, ignores all that mumbo jumbo with Paul Rudd, Rob Zombie’s directorial touch, a pretty good Dr. Loomis by Malcolm Mcdowell, and Busta Rhymes. Instead, we get an enhanced version of what we saw back in 1978; lots of gotcha moments, heavy breathing, having Michael Meyers hide in plain sight, lots of shadow and suspense.
We also get a lot more fleshing out of the Strode family tree since we now have two other women carrying the film: Judy Greer as Laurie’s daughter Karen and Andi Matichak as Karen’s daughter Allyson. As far as slasher flicks go, this one’s a surprisingly decent entry that just goes straight to what the Halloween series is about: victims and innocents trying to deal with the force of unexplained mysterious evil known as Michael Meyers.
The ones who try to prod through this simple exposition and find out why Michael is like this? They’re on the big guy’s “To Kill” list.
That’s it for my Halloween classic picks, whether they’re oldies-but-goldies or new cult gems in the making. Share your favourite Halloween classics with us!