Category: Film

John Carpenter | Live at Royale Boston

John Carpenter | Live at Royale Boston | Anthology Tour

November 15, 2017 | Review & Photos by Rob Watts

What can I say about Director, Writer, Producer, Composer, John Carpenter, that hasn’t already been said? The man is one of the greatest Filmmakers of our time and in his over forty years of filmmaking, he’s managed to entertain the masses with classic films such as They Live, Halloween, The Thing, The Fog, Escape from New York and Christine, just to name a few. In addition to filmmaking, Carpenter has a knack (and yearning) for scoring his own films; everyone knows the haunting theme song from Halloween—it’s embedded in our heads, but many of Carpenter’s hardcore fans appreciate just about every film soundtrack he’s produced. Most notably The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween 3, Escape from New York and Prince of Darkness. These particular soundtracks are synth heavy and lend very well to his imagery on screen. Which perhaps makes sense that Carpenter has decided to take his music bank on the road, performing with a live stellar lineup of musicians as clips of his accompanying films play behind them on stage. I can’t think of any other director who could pull this off with such panache while commanding near-capacity crowds every night on tour. 

Opening with Escape from New York, fans were treated to the classic theme as imagery from the film blasted its way on screen. This was followed by Assault on Precint 13 and The Fog—at which point, a fog machine threw fog about the stage as the performers played on. Of course the classics were pulled out, including Halloween and Big Trouble in Little China, but one of the highlights and crowd favorites was the theme to the classic cult film, They Live. Carpenter and his band mates donned black sunglasses during the song, referencing the key element to the film. The finale was the theme to the classic film, Christine, which had just recently received the re-issue treatment on special edition vinyl. The Thing has fans cheering and perhaps and out of place addition was the beautifully composed theme to Starman, which was originally performed by Jack Nitzsche for the film. 

It’s great to see a man nearly 70 years old in age, after all the accolades and rewards from filmmaking, taking the leap into live performance after all these years, bringing his classic movie themes that fans have loved over so many years, out on the road with a solid lineup of musicians—including himself. Hopefully he’ll continue this for the next few years; people deserve to enjoy as much of his work as possible—be it, film, comic books, soundtrack music or live performances. 



Halloween Film Series: 10 Films, Worst to Best! 


Halloween Film Series: 10 Films, Worst to Best

By Rob Watts   @RobWattsOnline

It’s just my opinion, but being a life-long fan of the classic film series—John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) was my first ever viewing of a horror film at a young age, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with many of the sequels that have followed over the years. With very few exceptions, I actually despise movie sequels with a passion—particularly horror film sequels. They are money grabs in my opinion, and unlike films such as The Godfather, Rocky (Part 2), Star Wars (the original trilogy) and a small handful of others, there is very little need for continuations of a film, other than the obvious desire to cash in on movie goers’ willingness to sit through crappy third-rate reproductions of great films that’ve preceded them. The horror genre is notorious for this practice. I mean, seriously, how many Saw and Paranormal Activity follow-ups did we need? I’ll say the same about the Holloween film franchise. At some point during the run of this film series, it took a sad and desperate turn—snowballing to a point of no return; or did it? Again, this is just my opinion on the matter, but let’s see if you agree. Feel free to comment or Tweet me your thoughts. 

Worst to Best

10- Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks and a slathering of nameless, crappy actors (including one of the actors from American Pie) make this a terrible film from the get-go. If you need more reasons, how about the beaten to death found-footage style of camera work, the cringe-worthy dialogue, the embarrassing “acting” and the overal poor storyline? Directed by Rick Rosenthal—director of Halloween 2, was brought back to the franchise fold in hopes of giving the series a back-to-basics treatment, but instead he managed to deliver one of the biggest turds in movie history; not just horror movie history. Oh by the way, Jamie Lee Curtis appears in this movie during the first act. The trailer led fans to believe that Curtis had a much more prominent role in this film, but of course, the trick—not treat, was on us. 

9- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

This was considered to be the absolute worst (not just by me) in the series, at least until Halloween Resurrection came about. It’s a tight race, however, because this film is just God awful and in all honesty, an insult to fans of the series and to John Carpenter himself. It is apparent that this film’s script was written over the course of a weekend and that the casting director was clearly on drugs. Rushed into production and released just one year after the previous film, Halloween 5 is a shitty mess. It’s a continuation of Part 4, however, this movie bares very little resemblance to everything we loved about part 4—the charm, the ambiance, the style, the acting, the subtlety (much like the original), and it just gets worse and worse as the film goes on. (Spoilers ahead) – If you felt ripped off by the plot of 1982s Halloween 3 by virtue of the fact that it wasn’t a Michael Myers film, then you should have been undeniably disgusted by the plot line of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. First of all, at the end of Halloween 4, the film series threw a considerable twist our way by killing off (once again) the masked villain and revealing young Jamie Lloyd (Michael’s niece—see my take on Part 4 below) to be the new killer, due to the fact that her evil uncle’s curse had now been passed on to the adorable little 11 year old. Well, after much anticipation among eagerly awaiting fans—anxious to find out how the series was going to play this storyline out, we had come to find out that the Filmmakers basically threw this plot point away like a greasy McDonalds sandwich wrapper. Michael’s niece was not to be the new killer; instead, they brought him back in the most ridiculous way and threw his niece in a hospital bed (much like Laurie Strode in Halloween 2) throughout, almost, the entire film and gave her very little dialogue (again, much like Laurie Strode in Halloween 2—which I disliked about that film btw.) Summing the rest of this mess up in short-order, many of the things I found fault with was the fact that they killed off Jamie’s older step-sister, Rachel, in the first act of the film—why would we want her around—she was only one of the most likable characters in the previous film. She was replaced by the most irritating cast of characters (and actors), among them, the character of Tina, the most ANNOYING character thus far in the series franchise and universally hated within the Halloween Film Series fanbase. What else? Well, how about the Myers house? It looks NOTHING like the home used in the original film. This house looked like something out of a Dracula film or Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It was simply ridiculous. The character of Dr. Loomis had now become a parody of himself—just crazed, delivering the same tired lines—it had just become very sad for me. The overall style of the film was campy and clearly, Swiss director Dominique Othenin-Girard had zero clue about the established fanbase of this series. I don’t know who he thought he was aiming this film at, but it wasn’t the true devotees, that’s for certain. We mustn’t leave out the fans of The Omen film series. They are still up in arms over his directorial duties of The Omen IV: The Awakening. 

8- Halloween : The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Not quite as bad as its predecessor but still a terrible film in my opinion. Produced for the first time by a major studio, Miramax / Dimension Films, this film proves the all-too-well-known-fact that there truly can be too many cooks in the kitchen. With all the re-writes, re-shoots, re-castings—it’s amazing that this film even got made, and perhaps that should have been this movie’s ultimate fate. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (AKA Halloween 6) reveals that Michael Myers is part of an evil, secret cult known as the curse of Thorn. Ugh! This apparently is where he gets his evil superpowers from. Remember the man in black with the odd symbol tattooed on his writs in Part 5? Well, this storyline reveals what that hokey mystery was all about in that film. The problem was, the Filmmakers in part 5 had no clue what any of that meant; they just went ahead and through some mystery man in the film with absolutely no idea where the storyline was going to go or who the character was. Great filmmaking! Okay, I’ll dispense with any further criticism about Halloween 5. I’ll save it for this pathetic excuse for a film. So, we learn that Michael is part of a cult and his niece, Jamie (who they replaced with a new actress—enough said) is pregnant (who the father is is left ambiguous—Michael perhaps? Eww…) and is introduced in the film on a delivery table as she gives birth to a baby boy; a baby boy who I guess was intended to eventually follow in the footsteps of Michael Myers—how awesome. Not! Everything that follows is just crap. A new family (Laurie Strode’s and Jamie Lloyd’s relatives) now live in the Myers house (which seemed to have shrunk in size since the last film—oh gheeed!) and the father, a discount John Goodman character, is basically a miserable jerk and is a POS to his family. We knew exactly who we wanted killed off by Michael immediately. The mom was played by the mom in Better Off Dead (“it’s got raisins in it”) and the daughter was played by Maryanne Hagan; probably the most likable character in this film. Rounding out the rest of the cast is the always creepy Paul Rudd; this was his debut film role and his character of Tommy Doyle (yes, the little boy from the original) is highly ridiculous and just as creepy as Rudd in real life—perhaps creepier. We have a grunge loving, flannel wearing college student, a creepy as hell little boy, a cartoonish shock jock and of course, Donald Pleasence, returning for one last hurrah as Dr. Loomis. Pleasence was very ill at the time of filming and this clearly shows throughout the movie. Though, through no fault of his own, his character was greatly diminished in his final film before his death just prior to this film’s release. The deaths are gratuitous, the pacing is awful, the acting is terrible—it’s just all over the place. It’s no shock that the producers of the film series shied away from this particular storyline (starting with part 4) and took it in another direction. I do, however, applaud screenwriter, Daniel Farrands’ efforts in continuing the stupid storyline laid out in Part 5. I mean, how much could be done with that pile of garbage left at your doorstep. Farrands at least tried to bring it back to familiar territory; somewhat, because in the end, the geniuses at Miramax and Dimension demanded more gore, more needless action sequences and apparently the insertion of “And Fools Shine On” by the band Brother Cane. The original cut of this film, known as “The Producers Cut” has been long circulated on bootleg copies for years until recently, when it saw a proper release on DVD in 2014 as it was included in the Halloween: The Complete Collection Box Set. This version is a watchable version of the film and shows the scope of where the screenwriter intended the film to go. Of course, the film that’s released in theaters is the film that counts. If only they went with this version instead. 

7- Halloween H2O (1998)

20 years later, we had the return of Jamie Lee Curtis once again portraying the character of Laurie Strode (although she’s hiding and living under an assumed name) and I will say, although this isn’t one of my favorites, it is a watchable entry in the series. It’s paced well, establishes the plot in short-order and the actor (Chris Durand) who portrays the character of Michael Myers is, in my honest opinion, the best since Nick Castle’s portrayal in the original film. He brings an ominous and menacing tone to Myers that hasn’t been duplicated since. There are some drawbacks, however—the cast for starters. Aside from Curtis’ return, I didn’t appreciate the teen stars dujour being pushed down my throat; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michelle Williams, Josh Hartnett—they all may or may not be fine actors today, but at the time of this film, their inclusion was very force-fed and contrived. L.L. Cool J—a fine actor and tremendous musician, seemed like stunt casting to me. Although his character was likeable and had added comic relief, it had become obvious that this sort of casting was to become an annoying trend. Maybe they should have cast Busta Rhymes instead—oh wait, that’s right, they did in the following installment. Even though I felt as though I was watching a bad Dawson’s Creek episode at times—the teens had to work out their rich white people problems—I did enjoy Jamie Lee’s performance and there were some thrilling action scenes at times. At 81 minutes, there is hardly any fat on this film. It moves right along. It was a box office success and it pretty much guaranteed that a sequel would be soon on the way. Sadly, that sequel was Halloween: Ressurection. 

6- Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)

If there ever was a film that DID NOT need to be remade, it’s John Carpenter’s Halloween. Unfortunately, the film series had taken far too many turns into back alley’s and another generic sequel was sure to bury this franchise once and for all. With that in mind, it’s understandable why the powers to be decided upon a remake rather than a pointless continuation. I was up in arms when I heard that it was being remade; I was a bit relieved when I learned that musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie would be at the helm. After all, Zombie, while not the best filmmaker (The Devil’s Rejects was great, though), he does possess the elements of everything horror fans love and he has often cited the original Halloween as one of his favorite horror films, so how badly could he botch it up? Well, let’s see. The opening 10 minutes of dialogue (when I say dialogue, I mean screaming) is simply stressful and unnecessary. It’s revealed that young Michael Myers comes from a family comprised of white trash. A stripper mom (of course played by Zombie’s wife, Sherry Moon-Zombie), an out of work father (actually, I think it was just his mom’s boyfriend) and a slutty older sister. The entire set up is just depressing. I didn’t particularly care for Michael Myers origin story—it’s not knowing about the killer that makes it more intense and scary. Regardless, we were given a gratuitously violent backstory tied together with a remake of the original movie, following Laurie Strode and her annoying friends. Malcolm McDowell’s portrayal of Dr. Loomis was well done as was the performance of Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) but the stunt casting of Dee Wallace (she’s become the female Tony Todd in my opinion) and Danielle Harris—returning to the series, but now as Laurie’s best friend,  Annie, was particularly hard to swallow. And nothing against Harris, but it was clearly a sympathy casting as a way of repaying Harris for screwing her out of her role in part 6 (actually, I’d say they did her a favor in that regard.) Visually, Zombie nails his films. They look great. The storyline and much of the over acting in this movie was off-putting. I do like this movie, but it’s not something I’d reach for very often. 

5- Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009)

I know you’re scratching your head asking yourself why I’d place Rob Zombie’s follow-up higher on the list. Well, even though it just squeaks ahead of his first film, there were things I found better about this film than his first film. For starters, I knew going in that Zombie’s portrayal of Haddonfield was that of trashy degenerates. This is confirmed in the opening scene with the ambulance drivers. I was prepared for this. While I could live without the overused ghostly images of a white horse and once again, Sherry Moon-Zombie, I found that the storyline was much improved. Where Zombie was confined to remaking the original the first time around, he had room to stretch his wings a bit more this time and tell more of a standalone story. It might not be the best storyline, but it’s original nonetheless and really takes the series into a more ominous and darker territory. Scout Taylor-Compton’s portrayal of a now crazed and disturbed Laurie Strode was terrific (but she did come off obnoxious at times) and I found Danielle Harris’s performance in this film so much better than the previous. Lots of fans complain about Dr. Loomis being a total jackass in this movie, but I find this to be a highlight. Malcolm McDowell is very entertaining as a formerly compassionate child psychiatrist, now a fame-hungry, book promoting celebrity. We all know this is exactly how it would happen in real life. Oprah Winfrey would give him a daily show of his own for Christ sake. All in all, I do enjoy this film. And although I can’t count films other than the theatrical version, I highly recommend the extended directors cut. It’s so much better and it closes any storyline gaps that the theatrical release left open. 

4- Halloween 2 (1981)

Most fans site this as the next best film in the Halloween film series, usually because it still has John Carpenter and Debra Hill ‘s involvement and because the action picks up immediately after the original film. Those reasons have never really cut it for me. First of all, I hate that Halloween had a sequel featuring Michael Myers at all. I don’t need things explained to me and I don’t possess the need for more, more, more when in-fact, the original film was as satisfying as a horror film could get—even by today’s standards. But—understandable, it’s not up to me; these are just my feelings and I won’t complain—much. I’ll start off with what I disliked about this movie. The continuity errors for one; the first film clearly shows SIX gunshots being fired at Michael Myers at the hand of Dr. Loomis. In the opening flashback scene, he’s now shot SEVEN times, yet, all throught this film, Loomis keeps screaming that he shot him six times and he’s still on the loose. Speaking of Loomis, his dialogue was basically recycled from the last film and his character really offered nothing in the end. He just delivers a series of speeches, including a classroom scene where he continuously mispronounces ‘Samhain.’ It’s pronounced Sowin / SOW-in. And Yay, Jamie Lee Curtis came back to reprise her role as Laurie Strode; unfortunately, she is filmed in a hospital bed nearly the entirety of the film armed with a terrible wig and very little dialogue. The setting is in a nearly empty hospital (where are all the other patients?) and the new cast is, umm, okay. Nothing about them is very memorable but they aren’t bad either; not as bad as future sequels would offer. The kills are much more graphic and some are very unnecessary. It’s overly gratuitous at times. The music has changed, but not for the better. It’s far more gothic sounding than the first film and it lacks the understated elegance that the original offered. The only action worth bragging about is during the final 20 min of the film, where Laurie tries to outrun Myers. 

3- Halloween 4 (1988)

I really enjoyed this entry in the Halloween series. Although it’s not without its flaws, it’s a terrific attempt at capturing the original spirit of the original. Taking the Michael Myers storyline back after the ill-fated attempt to move the series into a string of one-off Halloween themed films on a yearly basis, starting with Halloween 3: The Season of the. Witch (Which I was all for by the way), we find our serial killer lying comatose in a mental institution for the last decade, while Dr. Loomis (who we all assumed was dead after the ending of part 2) is left badly burned and scarred and still rocking his beige trench coat and waving his gun around while trailing Michael back to Haddonfield. While Michael and his mask look rather goofy and un-menacing, the storyline itself was pretty well thought out. Laurie Strode is now dead (at least as far as this film is concerned) and now her daughter Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is the object of Michaels psychotic affection. Rounded out by a likable and decent cast, including Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont and Sasha Jenson, this return to the original concept was on the right track—until they poisoned the franchise with part 5 only a year later—undoing everything that was fresh and distinctive about this film. This was the last good film in the series and if you’ve never watched any of the films and are considering giving them a try, watch the first four and stop there. This is a good film to end your run. 

2- Halloween 3 (1982)

I know, I know…it’s not a real “Halloween” movie, it doesn’t have Michael Myers, it’s crap, bla bla bla—I don’t care, it’s a great movie and I’m standing by it as one of my favorites. Let me explain my reasoning; as far as I’m concerned, the original Halloween is a perfect stand-alone horror film—it didn’t need a sequel—the killer was shot, fell off a second story balcony, was believed to be dead, until it was revealed that he got up and walked away. That’s how the movie ended, it was incredible, theater of the mind came into play and we were all left imagining our own version of how the killer lived, where he might have gone, would he kill again—I don’t need continuations or half-assed concocted back stories spelling things out for me that quite frankly, I’m not looking for. As far as I’m concerned, the rest of the films and their attempts at bigger and more shocking story lines, simply don’t exist. So—although part 3 is non-related to the Michael Myers world, I think it’s a very good attempt to make a fresh start in what was to become a batch of one-off Halloween films released every year. That obviously never happened, although imagine if you will; Halloween 4: Prince of Darkness, Halloween 5: They Live, etc.. It might have happened that way if part 3 had made a greater impact at the box office. While I won’t summize the film, what I loved about it was the filming locations—they were simplistic much like the original film and offered up the same type of eerie vibe. It had a likable (sometimes laughable) cast of characters and although the storyline was very simple, it was effectively creepy. Let’s not forget the film’s score; probably some of the best work John Carpenter has ever done. Remove the annoying Halloween Mask jingle, and you have a perfect soundtrack! 

1- Halloween (1978)

Hands down—never mind in the Halloween franchise, but in the rhelm of the horror film world—one of the absolute greatest horror films to ever be made. For a film that was made on practically a whim, with a minuscule budget, with much of an unknown cast, during a time when horror movies were considered passé, by a virtually unknown director, John Carpenter’s Halloween was a happy accident and lives on as one of the most creative, well-directed, memorably acted and perfectly scored horror films ever made. From the pan and glide POV filming techniques, to the this could happen anywhere filming locations, to the well-placed (yet modest) jump-scares, the tension building, the likable characters, the dialog and of course the spine tingling, suspense inducing film score, you simply can’t find a better recipe for a scarier horror film. Many films have tried over the years but have never truly captured the essence and uniqueness  that made the original Halloween great—not even close! 

Thanks for reading. Do you enjoy reading scary stories? My latest book, CHARMS: Four Stories of Female Revenge is available now! 

5 Soundtracks by Tangerine Dream That You Should Hear

5 Soundtracks by Tangerine Dream That You Should Hear

By Rob Watts    @RobWattsOnline

As a writer, I find it necessary to have some form of background music playing. I think many of my writer friends will agree that dance music, death metal or gangsta rap blaring from the speakers serves more as a distraction than a soothing counterbalance while concentrating—perhaps I’m wrong, but I know it wouldn’t work well for me personally. While working in the creative realm, I tend to play instrumentals in the background; less distraction, I’m not singing along and losing my concentration and it adds a certain ambience while helping me frame a storyline properly. I usually find my comfort zone in film scores. To those who know me best, it’s no secret that my favorite film scores were produced in the 1970s and early 80s (huh, that’s funny, that’s when the best films were made as well.) Along with John Carpenter and John Williams, my other favorite soundtrack composers are the European synth rock band, Tangerine Dream. While their entire body of non-soundtrack work is amazing, especially Zeit (1972), Phaedra (1974), Rubycon (1975) and Stratosfear (1976), their film scores are equally as impressive and as much as I’d love to list each and every soundtrack release, I’ll whole-heartedly recommend the following five. It will be worth seeking them out, trust me. 

Sorcerer (1977)

Tangerine Dream’s first soundtrack album to William Friedkin’s existential thriller, Sorcerer, the music is a mesmerizing mixture of classical music run through a synth-pop blender. Each track truly sucks you in and captivates you with its ominous presence. 


Thief (1981) 

The band’s second soundtrack album to Michael Mann’s Thief, this is yet another captivating piece of work. It moves you along, front to back, leaving the listener is a suspended state of ear candy euphoria.  
Wavelength (1984) 

Their fourth soundtrack to the little known low budget Science Fiction film, Wavelength, just might be my favorite.  While the film might be poorly produced (look for the boom mic in the top corner of the shot, at least three times), it does have its moments and the film score certainly amplifies these occasions. A high point in the film for me is the scene when the three alien boys are being driven along Sunset Boulevard by their rescuers (Robert Carradine and Cherie Currie) while the hypnotic film score rolls on. 

Firestarter (1984) 

While I’m not a big fan of the film, the score is far more memorable for me. It keeps in line with the previously listed soundtracks, especially Thief. 

Risky Business (1984)

One might not consider Risky Business’ soundtrack to be very memorable other than the addition of the (ugh—so overplayed) hit song, Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger. No one seems to recall that Prince, Phil Collins and Journey offered their contributions to this bore fest (just my opinion) of an 80s film as well. What enhances any salvageable portion of this film, however, is Tangerine Dream’s film score, once again proving that they truly crafted and set the benchmark for soundtracks for the remainder of the 80s, as they went on to contribute to Flashpoint, Three O’Clock High, Near Dark and Legend. 

More Scary Movies to Watch This October! 


More Scary Movies to Watch This October!! 

By Rob Watts. Follow @RobWattsOnline 

Generally speaking, I don’t watch many horror films throughout the year, but like most fans of the genre, I like to indulge during the fall season, especially October as the countdown to Halloween begins. Halloween night is traditionally spoken for by John Carpenter’s Halloween, usually a classic Dracula (w/ Christopher Lee of course) and possibly a more contemporary horror film, so long as it doesn’t include an uber-annoying cast or plot line. Last month, I wrote a post recommending Five Horror Films to Watch this October. Well, here are some more to add to your viewing pleasure this month. Most are from my childhood, with a few contemporary features to keep it interesting. These films scared the life out of me at one point—in fact, some of them still do to this day. But that’s the point of a well-written horror film—scares, jumps and good fun. Enjoy and happy haunting! 

Patrick (1978)
This creepy Australian horror flick freaked me out for months after first seeing this. Patrick, who’d murdered his mother and her lover in the bathtub by way of electrocution, falls into a coma and his only way of communication is by electronic typewriter via psychokinetic powers. Although he is completely written off as nothing more than a catatonic vegetable, he can still murder anyone who crosses him. The thought of Patrick lying still in that hospital bed with his eyes wide open is still enough to keep me awake tonight.


Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)


This is the film that made me petrified of the translucent grinning mask. Set in Paterson, NJ during the early 60s, 9-year-old Karen (played by Brook Shields) gets strangled to death at her First Communion. Her jealous older sister Alice is of course at the center of suspicion although the actual killer is the last one you’d expect. This film was rather unique for its time as you hardly ever saw young children being murdered on-screen. With the exception of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 that same year, I can’t really remember many films that crossed that Hollywood taboo. This film was actually theatrically released three separate times under three different titles due to Brook Shields’ ever-growing popularity after this film was made. Communion in 1976, Alice, Sweet Alice in 1978 and Holy Terror in 1981. Alice, Sweet Alice has remained the official title since then. If you haven’t seen this classic 70s flick, check it out. It has everything, a bitchy jealous sister, a fat creepy landlord and of course the horror movie’s best friend, the Catholic Church. How can you go wrong?


Magic (1978)


A movie about a man and his dummy. Ventriloquist Corky (Anthony Hopkins) and his foul-mouth dummy Fats are on the road to stardom but when Corky feels the pressure of showbiz, he retreats to the secluded Catskills where he reunites with his high school crush (Ann Margaret.) Fats however does not enjoy competing for Corky’s attention and soon talks Corky into “getting rid” of the people in his life that could potentially separate them from each other. The dummy, Fats, is just unsettling in every way. This was another film that made it impossible to sleep with the lights off after viewing it for the first time.


Summer of Fear (1978)

A made-for-television gem starring Linda Blair and Lee Purcell and directed by Wes Craven. Based on the Lois Duncan novel of the same name, it’s a pretty simple plot where Rachel (Blair) and her family invite Rachel’s cousin Julia (Purcell) to come live with them as Julia’s family died tragically in a car wreck. Things seem fine at first until Julia becomes jealous of Rachel, then of course strange things begin to occur in Rachel’s world. If you don’t mind simple storytelling and a rather predictable plot then you’ll probably enjoy this lost classic. Hey, it was directed by Wes Craven after all.

The Houses October Built (2014) 


Oh gee, another found-footage movie about a group of jackasses out seeing adventure! That’s exactly what I thought when I first started watching this film, however, the plot drew me in quickly and from then on I was hooked. Five friends set out on a road trip (in an R.V.) to visit haunted house attractions throughout Texas, hoping to find the ultimate scare. Through their documentation they encounter a lot of backwoods craziness, coupled with some terrifying visits through the haunted attractions. Their final visit to what’s to be the ultimate haunt, turns out to be more than they had hoped for and the intense scares just keep coming at you until the very end. This movie was cast very well (no obligatory annoying characters to the point of nausea) and there is a lot of great production value for a such a low-budget film. 


Monster Dog (1984)


Rock star Vince Raven (Alice Cooper) along with his girlfriend and band, travel to Vince’s childhood home to shoot his new music video. While at the house, strange noises and occurances begin to take place. People disappearing, packs of wolves surrounding the home, mysterious cars and crazed men having a shoot out Alice Cooper’s character. It’s definitely not a great movie, but worth a viewing for the sake of Alice Cooper in a leading man role. 


Sisters (1973)


In this Brian De Palma psychological thriller, Margot Kidder stars as a French-Canadian model whose separated Siamese twin is suspected of murder by a Staten Island news reporter (Jennifer Salt.)  The film takes many twists and turns and has a very Alfred Hitchcock feel to it. It even features a score by Bernard Hermann. The filming technique adds to the edge-of-your-seat suspense, with various split-screen shots for dramatic effect. This is a very chilling movie if I do say so myself. 


The Strangers (2008)

Suspense and tension. The Strangers had plenty of those two elements. The only caveat to this film is that it’s a one-time viewing experience to gain its full shock value. After that, the scares are watered down because you know exactly what’s happening. But upon viewing this film for the first time, you’d agree with me that this is one suspenseful ride. In short, a young couple arrives at their summer home in the country very late at night. They get a strange late-night knock on the door from a girl looking for someone who doesn’t live there. She is turned away and the guy decides to take a ride to the store to run an errand for his girlfriend. While alone, the mysterious girl knocks on the door again asking for the same person. She gets turned away again but it’s revealed (to the viewers) that masked strangers have entered the home unbeknownst to the girlfriend. Even though this movie has a few moments where you ask “why would you run that way when you should go that way?” It’s loaded with suspenseful unpredictable moments that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. It starts off very slow-paced but it definitely builds tension leading up to the action. Remember, this film only has shock value the first time you watch it, so turn the cellphones off and don’t allow yourself to be distracted.


Salems Lot (1979)

Blending elements of vampires and haunted houses, this Tobe Hooper directed mini-series based on the Stephen King novel is very memorable for keeping us kids awake expecting to find our friends tapping at our windows in the middle of the night, only to discover that they are vampires. It still gives me chills, along with the eerie town setting and creepy night time shots. This, in my opinion, is one of the best Stephen King adaptations and it’s really lost nothing over time. 

Popcorn (1991)


Saving the not so best for last, this campy and oh-so-generic horror flick is worth a watch simply to remind you of how awful horror films had become at the turn of the 90s decade. I guess it still holds a slight sentimental value for me as I remember that my sister and I actually went to see this in the theater when it was released. We weren’t all that impressed. However, I wouldn’t add it to this list if I didn’t feel it still had somewhat of an entertainment factor. This movie is great to watch with a few friends who are looking to laugh a lot during a horror film. There are some cool visuals and although it’s presumably set in Los Angeles, it’s actually filmed entirely in Kingston, Jamaica. The film is about a group of college film students who put on an all night scare-a-thon in an old abandoned theater. Surprise, surprise, things begin to go horribly wrong throughout the night as people are killed off one by one. It stars Jill Schoelen, Dee Wallace Stone, Tom Villard and Ray Walston

5 Horror Films to Watch This Halloween Season! 

By Rob Watts. Follow @RobWattsOnline

It’s only my opinion, but I think you’ll enjoy most, if not all of these 5 underrated (some forgotten) horror films. In no particular order of importance, here is my recommended list. Also check out my 10 More Horror Movies to Watch.

Borderland (2007)

Selected as one of the “8 Films to Die For” at the After Dark Horror Fest, Borderland is based on the true story of Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, the leader of a satanic cult that practiced human sacrifices. The plot involves three American college students who travel down to Mexico for a week of strip clubs, prostitutes and debauchery. While their guard is down, being the naive travelers that they are, one of the men gets kidnapped and is held in a secret location as he awaits his fait during a human sacrifice. Keep and eye out for actor Sean Astin as he plays an uncharacteristically sadistic character. The film is very suspenseful, dark and gritty. It avoids the typical horror film stereotypes (as much as it can anyway) and keeps your interest throughout the film. 

You’re Next (2011, 2013)

This independent slasher film revolves around a family reunion at a big vacation house in Missouri. The family, suffering from their own dysfunction, is targeted by masked assailants who surround the home, allowing no one to escape. Each family member is picked off one by one by the unknown terrorizers and it’s up to the remaining few to band together for their survival. There is, however, a pretty clever twist at the end. So if you’re not wild about gory effects in movies, the payoff at the end may be enough to keep you engaged throughout the entire film.  

The Babadook (2014)

This creepy Austrailian psychological thriller is a film about a single mother and her young son who are tormented by an evil entity brought upon by a mysterious pop-up children’s book. In addition to the creeptastic tone of the film (like most Austrailian horror films), it also deals with sadness of losing a spouse, a child’s behavioral problems and deep psychological issues. It all swirls around a deep-thinking horror film that should be viewed with little distraction. You might be left scratching your head for a bit after watching this, but it has a way of staying with you until you’ve formed a solid opinion of the film. 

The Hearse (1980)

Looking for an old school, classic ghost story from back in the day but are tired of watching the ones you’ve already seen? This 1980 film went widely unnoticed but it still packs the punch of a creepy, haunted house film made with the techniques that only the late 70s/ early 80s could provide. A city woman moves into the country after inheriting her late aunts house in a small, yet suspicious town. She is immediately shunned by the community upon her arrival at the home, which was used by her aunt to practice witchcraft and other satanic practices. Little does she know, the house is filled with secrets and slowly but surely, haunted occurrences begin to unfold in this eerie, suspenseful film. 

Alone with Her (2006)

As if personal privacy hasn’t been a big enough issue already, this 2006 psychological thriller Alone with Her will creep you out at every turn. This part hidden camera, part POV shot film stars Collin Hanks as a twisted stalker who breaks into people’s homes, sets up hidden nanny cam-type spycams  throughout the house, and begins to obsess over his victims, studying them to the point of lunacy in attempt to make interaction with them based on his knowledge of the victim’s daily routines, interests and behavior patterns. This is exactly what happens when he obsesses over a young girl that he randomly discovered in a local park one day. The fact that she was completely unaware that she was being spied on is disturbing enough, but how he manages to enter her life is truly terrorfying. A must-see film that should serve more as a wake up call, rather than a an entertaining horror film.