Archive for the exorcist

Best Movies to Watch on Halloween

Posted in Best Of, Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2015 by smuckyproductions

THE DAY HAS ARRIVED! Movie marathons commence, costumes are fussed over, and legions of undead-for-a-day ghouls crawl the earth to celebrate Hallow’s Eve. In the spirit of this joyous and spooky occasion, here are my 10 favorite horror films to watch on Halloween.

It goes without saying that, for me, all of these films capture something about the essence of Halloween – the liminal autumn air, the dying leaves, and the electrifying sense of the impending uncanny.



Trick or treating gone wrong: everyone comes knocking at your door, but instead of candy, they want your guts. George Romero’s visceral, paranoid and ground-breaking classic is a must for October. (That’s why MTV plays it every 31st.) It’s disturbing, suspenseful, and phenomenal for its introduction of the zombie trope.



From the brilliant novel by Shirley Jackson comes one of the scariest haunted house stories of all time. Fabulously acted, beautifully designed and utterly terrifying without showing any ghosts, this film is a landmark of horror. It reminds us that madness and anxiety are the true monsters. And there’s no better villain than a house that preys on those things.



Controversial, to be sure, but in the right mindset, ‘Blair Witch’ is exhaustingly disturbing. Set in the autumn woods and featuring a great folktale as its backdrop, the true terror comes from the breakdown of the human mind. It’s an exercise in restraint – which is why many will hate it – but for those with whom it connects, the experience is pure horror.

  1. THE FOG


A perfectly simple ghost story, an eerie seaside atmosphere, and a score by John Carpenter – what more can you want? This film is calm and chilling until suddenly it breaks out in mist-shrouded horror. It’s perfect for a Hallow’s Eve sunset when things just start waking up.



One of the purest horror films of all time, Clive Barker’s cinematic debut is all visuals and world-building – and it does an amazing job at that. Disgusting without being tasteless, and featuring some of the most brutally scary villains of all time, this one is required viewing for the strong-stomached. Behind all the goo, it’s quite beautiful, too.



Another example of pure horror. A genius work of cinema, this film attacks all the senses and also some of the basest fears. It takes no prisoners as it spins its tale of normality upended by pure evil, and what goodness means in the face of such a thing. Brutal, brilliant and bold – and, of course, monstrously frightening.



With a terrific score and some of the most beautiful camerawork in all of horror, this Italian giallo is the perfect dose of surrealism for Hallow’s Eve. It shuns the idea of ‘plot’ and ‘logic’ in favor of a dreamy series of scenes, which crescendo into utter terror. This is one sick, bloody fairy tale.



The original cabin-in-the-woods movie. It remains one of the most flawed movies on this list, but it possesses (no pun intended) such intensity and non-stop brutal horror that the viewer can’t pay attention to mistakes – they’re too busy having a ball. Like a haunted-house video game on film, it’s an unprecedented blast.



Obviously. This one isn’t that scary, but it is one of the greatest homages to this holiday. With an onslaught of different monsters – from werewolves to zombies to a principal-turned-serial-killer – and a killer atmosphere, it’s hard to think of a better film to kick off the season. But…



One cannot ignore the master. It’s simple, it’s slow-building, and you hardly see it coming, but this film captures the October spirit – while also scaring the sh!t out of everyone – like no other film out there. Eerie, heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and completely phantasmal, this is the quintessential Halloween film – just look at the title.

That’s all for now, ghouls! Go out and haunt the streets tonight. Get ready to be scared.


Films That Haunt Me: ONIBABA

Posted in Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Today’s film is one that every horror fan has seen referenced, even if they did not realize it. We all recognize the nightmare-inducing demon face from “The Exorcist” – but what inspired William Friedkin to design that horrific makeup? For this, and for many other reasons, we can find endless macabre genius in ONIBABA.


Translating more or less as “Demon Woman,” this Japanese classic follows in the footsteps of its contemporaries – weaving a fable-like morality tale set during the wars of feudal Japan. This one finds a destitute mother and daughter duo who survive by robbing half-dead samurai and hiding their bodies in a pit near their house. When the daughter falls in love with a stranger who lives nearby, the mother must find a way to keep her precious asset. She manages to steal a horrific demon mask off a dying soldier and uses it to scare her daughter away from her lover… but she doesn’t know that the mask is cursed.


Like many of the films that haunt me, this one requires patience and attention – but these are rewarded monstrously as the film crescendos to its climax. The almost lulling atmosphere of the first half, composed of swaying reeds and the tense fraying of a mother-daughter relationship, sets a dreamy tone that is shattered by the horror of what comes. This transition from quiet and peaceful to violent and nightmarish is highly effective. The film takes on a liminal aspect, as if the characters are in limbo, waiting in the reeds; then hell is unleashed in full force.


William Friedkin sites this as one of the scariest movies he’s ever seen, and used the disturbing mask as inspiration for his own Pazuzu’s face. That goes to show the power of the imagery in the latter half. Watching the mask float out of the night, rising above the daughter gone to meet her lover, is unreasonably shocking. Like a nightmare, the film constructs itself so that the viewer only recalls specific moments – and the appearance of the mask, then learning what it truly means, is one of the things that will never leave my mind. It’s pure, poetic horror.


In addition to this, there is a magnificent human story that supports the imagery – a tale of survival and jealousy. The mother-daughter tension is palpable and subtle, justifying the nasty things that happen later on. As all the best horror films are, “Onibaba” begins as a drama and moves into terror as the story escalates. Because of this, it will test some viewers’ patience; but those who stick with it will be rewarded with a thunderbolt of an ending. It really plays out like a fable, but the final moral is dirtied by the humanness of the characters. That is what lends it its brilliance.

As a family drama, a survival thriller, or a pure demonic horror, this film succeeds on many levels, and cements itself as iconic. Watch it, and enter this liminal world of murder and death. Perhaps, after the credits roll, “Onibaba” will follow you back.