Sunday, October 5, 2014

Classic Horror Movies For The Halloween Season

A thought struck me the other day.  It was not anything earth shattering nor a profound realization, but a thought none-the-less.  I haven't seen much in the way of promo on television for the October theatrical horror movie releases typical of the Halloween season.  Did Hollywood run out of ideas for this year's tribute to the spooky, macabre, and gruesome?

And, as if I just spoke/wrote too soon about the lack of new horror-type movies this Halloween, there's a movie trailer on television right now for a new film opening this Friday titled Dracula Untold, complete with big time special effects.

What happened to the scary horror movies from the past that traded on the atmosphere of fear rather than the visual of spurting blood and flying body parts?  The tingling sensation that made the hair stand on the back of our necks and gives us goose bumps on our arms as our imaginations ran amuck.  The spooky ground fog that slithers over and around the tombstones, cloaking the cemetery in an eerie silence.

I'm talking about the traditional horror classics like Frankenstein from 1931 with Boris Karloff's brilliant performance as the monster.  Also from 1931, Dracula with Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the vampire as both elegant and mesmerizing which properly left the horror to the imagination of the viewer.  In 1932, Boris Karloff gave us another classic monster character with The Mummy.  Then came 1941's The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney, Jr., as the stricken Larry Talbot.

True to Hollywood tradition, these classic horror movies spawned numerous sequels—Bride of Frankenstein, House of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, Dracula's Daughter.  And as long as Hollywood was on a roll, they added to the profit factor by capitalizing on the popularity of the characters by having them co-star in such movies as Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.  Then there were the myriad remakes that came over the ensuing years, some serious attempts and others totally ludicrous.  Each one pushed the envelope in its own way in order to hopefully make it better (as in more box office dollars) than its predecessor.

With all four of these original movies, the remakes never really captured the essence of the originals…in my humble opinion.  Of course, the remakes from the last approximately 20 years (and most certainly those much newer) had super special effects, but the original fear factor was missing…that internal emotional quality that can't be conveyed by special effects.

The award for the most remakes, versions, and variations over the years goes to Dracula.  Some were serious films and others were more on the ridiculous side with titles such as Dracula's Dog.  Even Sesame Street has adapted the character in Muppet form with The Count, and General Mills manufacturers Count Chocula breakfast cereal (along with Franken Berry).

Each October Turner Classic Movies cable channel airs a selection of movies featuring horror, monsters, ghouls, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and other creatures that go bump in the night to celebrate Halloween.  October 2014 is Thursday Night Ghosts featuring a classic array of phantoms, apparitions, spooks and specters.  They've broken them down into 5 categories—Unfinished Business, Supernatural Romance, Ghost Comedies, Gothic Ghosts, and Haunted Houses.

And in addition to the Halloween fare sprinkled throughout the month of October, this year their 24 hours of horror for Halloween starts at 6:00AM (Eastern time) on Friday, October 31st, and includes:  London After Dark (1927), Mark Of The Vampire (1935), The Devil Doll (1936), I Walked With A Zombie (1943), Cat People (1942), The Tingler (1959), Spine Tingle! The William Castle Story (2007), Dementia 13 (1963), Carnival Of Souls (1962), Repulsion (1965), Night Of The Living Dead (1968), Curse Of The Demon (1958), House Of Wax (1953), Poltergeist (1982), Strait-Jacket (1964), and Eyes Without A Face (1959).

And that should be enough to satisfy anyone's need for a horror fix until the next time we come up against a dark and stormy night…


Abigail Owen said...

Great post. What a fun look back at many of the movies that started what is now the paranormal genre today. Who knew!

Samantha Gentry said...

Abigail: I think many of the old classic horror movies were a lot of fun.

Thanks for your comment.

Ashantay said...

Night of the Living Dead scared the bejeesus out of me - saw it on a big screen (the type of theaters that have gone out of existence, sob) and walked out onto a street filled with people who could have worked as extras in the movie. Before the make-up. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is another classic - Hitchcock - dang, I miss seeing those flicks every Saturday night on tv!

Debra Jupe said...

Great post! I've never been a fan of the current blood and gut filled horror films. Some things are better left to the imagination.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: One that scared me a bunch when I was a little kid was House Of Wax (in 3D). And Hitchcock...I can't think of a bad movie he did.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Debra. You're right, some things are better left to the imagination.

Thanks for your comment.