MONSTERZERO NJ’S 31 HORROR FLICKS FOR THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN!

MZNJ_new_views

While I watch dozens of horror films during the month of October…these are a mix of classic favorites and recent horrors that I feel are especially perfect to watch during the Halloween season!

halloween-pumpkins

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HALLOWEEN
  2. TRICK ‘r’ TREAT
  3. PHANTASM
  4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
  5. THE FOG
  6. ANY (OR ALL) OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC B/W HORRORS!
  7. PUMPKINHEAD
  8. EVIL DEAD
  9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
  10. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  11. ZOMBIE
  12. THE THING
  13. THE HOWLING
  14. THE FLY
  15. HORROR HOTEL
  16. DAWN OF THE DEAD
  17. DAY OF THE DEAD
  18. FRIDAY THE 13th
  19. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
  20. HALLOWEEN II
  21. HALLOWEEN III
  22. THE VIY
  23. WRONG TURN
  24. THE OLD DARK HOUSE
  25. THE DESCENT
  26. HELLIONS
  27. TALES OF HALLOWEEN
  28. THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
  29. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  30. HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES
  31. THE HILLS RUN RED

-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: CHRISTMAS EVIL and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT

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Tis the season!…

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CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Few movies can make the distinction of being both laughably bad yet, remain very disturbing, but Lewis Jackson’s yuletide horror is bizarre and creepy enough to be both. Story opens with young Harry (Gus Salud) seeing Santa coming down the chimney and delivering presents for he and his brother (Wally Moran). His love of Christmas is shattered, though, when he catches that same Santa…actually his dad in a costume…going at it with his mother. Many years later the adult Harry (Brandon Maggart) is a lonely introvert who works at the bargain basement Jolly Dreams toy factory and is obsessed with becoming Santa Claus…an obsession that drives him over the edge and turns Harry into a Santa-suited homicidal maniac.

Written and directed by Lewis Jackson, this is both a hysterically bad flick and one that, somehow, remains really disturbing. Harry is just a very creepy person with his spying on neighborhood children, to see if they are good or bad and his deeply unnerving obsession with Santa Claus and Christmas. The fact that he is so determined to be seen and loved as the real Santa Claus drives him to kill anyone who laughs or makes fun of him, leading to his being hunted by neighborhood citizens actually bearing torches. It’s like Transylvania though, the film takes place in New Jersey. It’s all very funny to watch Harry snap and slaughter three obnoxious yuppies in front of a church and it’s parishioners and his Santa themed apartment brings the appropriate chuckles and chills. But the film is also very creepy in it’s portrayal of a man who psychotically wants to be loved by all as the most famous holiday icon of all-time, enough that he will kill anyone who doesn’t buy into his delusion. Jackson may not be a skilled filmmaker, but there’s no denying this flick entertains in both it’s badness and ability to present you with a truly unnerving main character. Credit has to also be given to Brandon Maggart for giving his Harry some strong creep factor while the rest of the cast are adequate at best. There is a very off-putting quality to this film that works with the camp factor far better than it should and I’ll wager quite by accident. A happy and horrifying accident, as the film does have a ‘made up as it goes along’ quality to it.

So, if this type of flick is your bloody cup of egg nog, enjoy this movie for what it is. It’s a strange and sometimes laughably bad movie that still has the ability to creep you out with it’s disturbed main character and some gory kills all within it’s yuletide setting. There is something unnervingly real about Harry that makes you believe that there might be someone like him out there, yet, the film itself can be almost surreal with it’s torch bearing New Jersey residents and the fact that kids really seem to like Harry’s Santa despite their parents knowing something is really off about this guy. This film has developed a bit of a cult following and I can see why as it is definitely midnight movie material, especially if it’s midnight on December 24th. Recommended for those looking for something weird, unsettling, but very amusing!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 campy and disturbing Christmas trees.

fred clause rating

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SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

This Christmas set 80s slasher isn’t very scary, but it is a lot of fun. It has a very devious sense of humor and certainly isn’t afraid to involve little children in it’s holiday horrors and blood soaked Christmas clichés.

The story opens in 1971 with five-year-old Billy (Jonathan Best) not only being frightened out of his wits by Santa horror stories from his demented grandfather on Christmas Eve, but witnesses the brutal murder of his parents by a thief dressed in a Santa suit. Three years later we find Billy (Danny Wagner) in an orphanage where a cruel nun is trying to force his fears of Christmas out of him by forcing Christmas on him. We finally cut to ten years later where a now eighteen, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) gets his first job…at a toy store…at Christmas! And to make matters worse he is chosen by his boss to play Santa and when he catches a co-worker forcing himself on his store crush Pamela (Toni Nero), Billy snaps and a yuletide murder spree gruesomely begins. Will anyone survive the holidays now that a Santa suited Billy is killing anyone he deems naughty…which is pretty much everyone he encounters!

As a horror film, this flick has very little scares or suspense, but as directed by Grizzly Adams creator Charles Sellier…from Michael Hickey’s sadistically clever script…the film is a lot of gruesome fun that definitely isn’t afraid to cross some boundaries, especially when it gleefully involves little kids in it’s horrible holiday hi-jinx. If the things little Billy experiences aren’t enough, the deliriously horrific scene of an orphanage full of little kids witnessing the gunning down of a priest in a Santa suit, by an overzealous cop, will have you giggling out loud. Sure we know who our killer is without question and his victims are fairly random Santa fodder, but the fact that Sellier so happily makes a bloody mess of one of the most beloved holidays, makes up for the fact that their really isn’t much to chill us other than watching the plentiful and well orchestrated blood and gore spatter all over the screen like spilled eggnog. It’s good, gory, campy fun and makes no excuses that it is breaking some taboos and is proud of it.

The cast, including 80s scream queen legend Linnea Quigley as a victim, are all delightfully bad. They are all mostly unknowns, except for TV actress Tara Buckman who has a brief role as Billy’s hot but ill-fated mom. Wilson just basically carries out his villainy with a blank and evil stare, but it’s enough to work even if he is not an overly strong psycho. Actress Lilyan Chauvin is actually a lot scarier as Mother Superior who tries to torment the love of Christmas back into the young, mentally scarred Billy and Gilmer McCormick is sweet and likable as Sister Margret a young nun who takes pity on Billy, even when he turns stone cold killer.

This is a deviously fun slasher though, admit-tingly, as a horror, it is kind of weak. It makes up for a lot of that weakness by delighting in breaking some movie taboos and pouring blood over as many Christmas traditions as possible in gleeful fashion. It’s an entertaining enough slasher though, it is far more campy than creepy and that’s just fine. Obviously recommended during the holidays when endless showings of A Christmas Story drive you to want to kill. Billy will be happy to oblige for you.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Christmas trees.

fred clause rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 31 HORROR FLICKS FOR THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN!

MZNJ_new_views

While I watch dozens of horror films during the month of October…these are a mix of classic favorites and recent horrors that I feel are especially perfect to watch during the Halloween season!

halloween-pumpkins

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HALLOWEEN
  2. TRICK ‘r’ TREAT
  3. PHANTASM
  4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
  5. THE FOG
  6. ANY (OR ALL) OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC B/W HORRORS!
  7. PUMPKINHEAD
  8. EVIL DEAD
  9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
  10. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  11. ZOMBIE
  12. THE THING
  13. THE HOWLING
  14. THE FLY
  15. HORROR HOTEL
  16. DAWN OF THE DEAD
  17. DAY OF THE DEAD
  18. FRIDAY THE 13th
  19. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
  20. HALLOWEEN II
  21. HALLOWEEN III
  22. THE VIY
  23. WRONG TURN
  24. THE OLD DARK HOUSE
  25. THE DESCENT
  26. HELLIONS
  27. TALES OF HALLOWEEN
  28. THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
  29. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  30. HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES
  31. THE HILLS RUN RED

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

silent night

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SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

This Christmas set 80s slasher isn’t very scary but, it is a lot of fun. It has a very devious sense of humor and certainly isn’t afraid to involve little children in it’s holiday horrors and blood soaked Christmas clichés.

The story opens in 1971 with 5-year-old Billy (Jonathan Best) not only being frightened out of his wits by Santa horror stories from his demented grandfather on Christmas Eve, but, witnesses the brutal murder of his parents by a thief dressed in a Santa suit. Three years later we find Billy (Danny Wagner) in an orphanage where a cruel nun is trying to force his fears of Christmas out of him by forcing Christmas on him. We finally cut to 10 years later where a now 18, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) gets his first job… at a toy store… at Christmas! And to make matters worse he is chosen by his boss to play Santa and when he catches a co-worker forcing himself on his store crush Pamela (Toni Nero), Billy snaps and a yuletide murder spree gruesomely begins. Will anyone survive the holidays now that a Santa suited Billy is killing anyone he deems naughty… which is pretty much everyone he encounters!

As a horror film, this flick has very little scares or suspense but, as directed by Grizzly Adams creator Charles Sellier… from Michael Hickey’s sadistically clever script… the film is a lot of gruesome fun that definitely isn’t afraid to cross some boundaries, especially when it gleefully involves little kids in it’s horrible holiday hi-jinx. If the things little Billy experiences aren’t enough, the deliriously horrific scene of an orphanage full of little kids witnessing the gunning down of a priest in a Santa suit, by an overzealous cop, will have you giggling out loud. Sure we know who our killer is without question and his victims are fairly random Santa fodder but, the fact that Sellier so happily makes a bloody mess of one of the most beloved holidays, makes up for the fact that their really isn’t much to chill us other than watching the plentiful and well orchestrated blood and gore spatter all over the screen like spilled egg nog. It’s good, gory, campy fun and makes no excuses that it is breaking some taboos and is proud of it.

The cast, including 80s scream queen legend Linnea Quigley as a victim, are all delightfully bad. They are all mostly unknowns, except for TV actress Tara Buckman who has a brief role as Billy’s hot but, ill-fated mom. Wilson just basically carries out his villainy with a blank and evil stare but, it’s enough to work even if he is not an overly strong psycho. Actress Lilyan Chauvin is actually a lot scarier as Mother Superior who tries to torment the love of Christmas back into the young, mentally scarred Billy and Gilmer McCormick is sweet and likable as Sister Margret a young nun who takes pity on Billy even when he turns stone cold killer.

This is a deviously fun slasher though, admit-tingly, as a horror, it is kind of weak. It makes up for a lot of that weakness by delighting in breaking some movie taboos and pouring blood over as many Christmas traditions as possible in gleeful fashion. It’s an entertaining enough slasher though, it is far more campy than creepy and that’s just fine. Obviously recommended during the holidays when endless showings of A Christmas Story drive you to want to kill. Billy will be happy to oblige for you.

3 Christmas trees.

fred clause rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE BLOB (1988)

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THE BLOB (1988)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of the 1958 classic The Blob is simply a really fun monster movie that takes the spirit and basic structure of the original film, but adds it’s own twists to keep it fresh… how a remake like this should be done. it’s also now filled with 80s nostalgia which adds to the entertainment.

The film takes place in the small town of Arborville, California where the biggest concern till now, is if it’s going to snow enough to support the upcoming ski season, which fuels the rural town’s economy…or asking out the hot cheerleader. When a fiery object falls from the sky, a kindly homeless man (Billy Beck) goes to investigate and gets a corrosive, jelly-like substance on his arm. He’s discovered by local rebel Flagg (Kevin Dillon with amazingly 80s hair), hot cheerleader, Meg (Shawnee Smith) and her date, Paul (Donovan Leitch) and taken to a local hospital. But the old man is eaten alive by the goop and the rabidly growing substance takes out Paul, too and escapes into the woods. But despite local law enforcement being skeptical of this monster story, a strange biological containment team arrives along with the mysterious Dr. Meddows (Joe Seneca) and soon the town is quarantined as the protoplasmic ‘space monster’ beings to prey on the locals, growing larger with each meal. Can Flagg and Meg save the day, or become happy meals for the viscus invader?

With a script co-written by The Walking Dead’s Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell delivers a really action-packed and entertaining horror-thriller that does not skimp on the gore or spare anyone from the hungry, predatory title creature. He keeps just enough of the story and spirit of the original, including some key scenes, like the movie theater and the monster’s aversion to cold, but crafts his own monster flick and makes good use of a bigger budget and what was then, more advanced SPFX to open things up and have a little more fun. He takes his subject matter seriously, but turns the smaller scaled 50s monster movie into a larger scaled sci-fi/action flick and gives us some nice suspense, a fast pace and some very gory demises to make this more of a popcorn entertainment and it really works. On top of the suspense, action and bloody kills, we get some well-rendered FX sequences, though not all of them work. And at the time, the blood, gore and creature work on display were pretty impressive, though, at this point in time they haven’t aged all that well, except for a few sequences that still hold up quite nicely. Sad that it bombed back in the day, as it is an underrated monster movie, but it’s recognized as a cult classic now and I was there in my seat in 1988 and had a real blast with it even before the 80s nostalgia set in and the added charm of it’s now cheesy, by today’s standards, SPFX.

As for the players, the cast all take their roles seriously, but also appear to be having a good time. Kevin Dillon is a bit too much of a pretty boy with his shoulder length, permed hair to really be acceptable as ‘rebel without a cause’, Flagg, but he gives the role his all and we go along with it just fine. Smith is very pretty, but also very tough and resourceful as the cheerleader turned monster fighting heroine and she kinda steals the film from Dillon to boot. Joe Senenca makes an appropriately sinister government scientist who knows far more about ‘The Blob’ than he let’s on and Candy Clark is very sweet and likable as the sassy town cafe owner. The supporting cast all get the tone of the material and give us some nice secondary characters to root/care for along with our leads.

In conclusion, I really like this movie a lot. It echoes and honors the original, yet does it’s own thing as an 80s monster movie and does it well. It’s played seriously, but has fun with it’s monster story and the FX may not have withstood the test of time completely, but are still competently made and being a bit dated only makes them more charming. Add in the 80s nostalgia and this is still a really fun flick even today. A good time creature feature with some nice added nostalgia!

3 and 1/2 gun toting cheerleaders.

blob_1988 rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)

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now playing

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NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

This is another 80s horror written and directed by Kevin Tenney (Witchboard) and is a predominately silly flick with some the gore and scares sharing time equally with the laughs and goofy humor. While the film has more of a horror movie feel than the soap opera-ish Witchboard, it still is far too goofy to really be scary despite some effective and plentiful gore.

The film takes place on Halloween night at a party being thrown at an abandoned funeral home by high school goth chick and suspected black magic user, Angela (Amelia Kinkade) and her friend Suzanne (Linnea Quigley). An assorted group of party goers arrive including Judy (Cathy Podewell), party animal Stooge (Hal Havins) and nerd Roger (Alvin Alexis). Of course no party in a former mortuary can be complete without a seance and before you can say “not a good idea” Angela and Suzanne are possessed by demons and begin to gorily dispatch the assorted party guests who themselves rise from the dead as vessels for demonic entities.Will anyone escape this Halloween party alive?

I’m not really a big fan of this film. Despite the amusing premise and the plentiful blood and gore, It’s a very slow moving horror/comedy that is not particularly scary and not all that funny either. Tenney seems to want the best of both worlds here from Joe Augustyn’s script and while the set-up was ripe for some Halloween fun, the film is directed very by-the-numbers and is far less clever than it thinks it is. Maybe the reason is that the story is pretty thin and probably would have been better served as an episode of a TV show than stretched out over 90 minutes. Once the girls are possessed the slowly isolate others and dispatch them rather methodically dispensing tired one-liners as they gruesomely off their victims. There is little suspense as our characters wake up to what’s going on and try to find a way out and it’s pretty obvious who are there to become corpses and who are there to be our survivors. It’s just a matter of sitting through the weak comedy and equally weak attempt at scares till it all plays out. There is some heavy 80s nostalgia at this point and at least David Lewis’ cinematography makes this look far more like a horror film than Tenney’s WitchboardDennis Michael Tenney once again does the music and it is a bit atmospheric though, not very remarkable.

The cast are all weak. Cathy Podewell tries hard as our final girl/heroine Judy, but the rest of the cast are pretty wooden including Kinkade as Angela and that hurts the film which needed a stronger villain to work better. Havins is just annoying as frat boy-like Stooge though, in his defense, his dialogue is terrible. Quigley is there to show her boobs and when she does speak, her line readings are far flatter than her cleavage and her demonic form is not very threatening. Roger is a stereotypical cowardly nerd who finds his courage and is probably one of the more successful characters in the flick. The rest are generic and unmemorable demon fodder and there is no attempt to really make the characters anything more than the two dimensional cliche’s they are.

In conclusion, I was never all that fond of this flick, though respect that it is a cult classic with a following…I’m just not one of the following. I do appreciate the 80s nostalgia and it is heavy with that, but overall find the film a dull and by-the-numbers horror/comedy that is not all that successful at being either. It’s a silly flick that has the benefit of some well executed gore and make-up FX and otherwise not much else to recommend. It’s almost a mystery as to why it’s premise had so much more potential for a fun time than Witchboard yet, is half as fun. Also a good example of how light and silly horrors got in the later half of the 80s. (For my article on the subject of the tonal change of horror through the 80s, go here!)

2 unimpressive actresses with impressive surgically enhanced racks.

night of the demons rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: WITCHBOARD (1986)

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Witchboard

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WITCHBOARD (1986)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

This 80s horror written and directed by Kevin Tenney (Night Of The Demons) is a silly flick when viewed strictly as a horror movie, but is so delightfully 80s…with it’s feathered hair, heavy metal music, valley girl psychics and, of course, 80s icon Tawny Kitaen as it’s lead…that it’s just a lot of fun to watch even though it is devoid of scares, or much suspense and evokes more laughs than chills.

The film starts out at a party being held by gorgeous Linda Brewster (Tawny Kitaen) and her overly obnoxious boyfriend James (Todd Allen). A former friend of Jim’s and ex-love interest of Linda’s, Brandon (Stephen Nichols) brings a Ouija board and tries to make contact with the spirit of a little boy. Things go awry as Jim’s taunts provoke the spirit and when Brandon leaves in anger, he leaves the Ouija behind. A curious Linda begins to communicate with the spirit of ‘David’, but her sudden shifts in behavior and the strange and sometimes violent occurrences that begin to occur around the couple, indicate that the spirit Linda has evoked is no child and certainly does not want to play. Can Jim save Linda before she is possessed by this malevolent entity, or it kills him and anyone that stands in it’s way?

While presented seriously by writer/director Tenney, this is still a very silly flick, but is a lot of fun as it is just has so much 80s nostalgia. There is little suspense and no real chills or scares, but it is a very good example of the tonal shift 80s horror movies made about midway through the decade, from the dark and somber slashers inspired by Halloween to lighter toned and more colorful flicks such as this and the Elm St. sequels. The attempt seems to be to make a straight horror, but when you introduce characters like Kathleen Wilhoite’s over-the-top, wisecracking, valley girl medium, any attempt to be taken seriously goes out the window just as it does when Whitesnake video girl Kitaen begins to threaten Jim in a husky man’s voice while dressed in men’s clothes. Fun…sure…scary…hell, no. There are a few instances of gory violence, but they are too few to really add impact, though they are well executed by the FX people. The movie is competently made on a small budget and certainly entertains, but it’s too silly to be anything but a light diversion that now packs a heavy dose of  80s era nostalgia…which is fine with me. Roy H. Wagner’s cinematography is a little too bright and colorful to add atmosphere to a horror film, while Dennis Michael Tenney’s score…with it’s theme performed by metal band Steel Breeze…evokes the 80s but not chills.

The cast are all satisfactory enough. Tawny Kitaen was at her hotness prime and while she is a stunner, she is a bit wooden as Linda and not very convincing in the possession scenes despite the dubbed man voice, but considering how silly it all is, it doesn’t really hurt the proceedings. Allen comes across as a jerk and it takes most of the film to warm up to his Jim and believe he really cares about Linda. Stephen Nichols gives us a Brandon who is a pompous elitist at first, but he legitimately seems to want to help and takes responsibility for what’s happening and transforms into a likable character, when all is said in done. As Zarabeth, Kathleen Wilhoite gives us a totally over-the-top, valley girl psychic that really smothers any possible tension made up to this point and while her character’s time on-screen is brief, she is disruptive and it’s hard to believe the arrogant Brandon would take her the least bit seriously…we certainly don’t. I’m sure that is how the character was written and directed to be played, but one has to wonder why Tenney would choose to make a joke out of a pivotal scene with such a flamboyant character.

Overall, I find this movie a lot of fun, but not sure for the reasons intended. It’s story is routine and been done before, there is little tension or suspense and the gore is effective but very minimal. There is, however, fun to be had watching the actors try to play this stuff straight and the film is at least competently made. There is also heaping amounts of 80s nostalgia to be had and that in itself makes this a good time to watch, especially with quintessential 80s babe Tawny Kitaen as our lead. A fun movie whether that was the intention or not and one best enjoyed with a few pints of your favorite poison.

3 possessed video vixens.

witchboard rating

and as a bonus Steel Breeze with their biggest hit, You Don’t Want Me Anymore…

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 MUST WATCH HORROR FLICKS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON

MZNJ_new_views

While I watch dozens of horror films during the month of October… these are 25 favorite horror flicks that I feel are absolute musts to watch during the Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HALLOWEEN
  2. TRICK ‘r’ TREAT
  3. PHANTASM
  4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
  5. THE FOG
  6. ANY (OR ALL) OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC B/W HORRORS!
  7. PUMPKINHEAD
  8. EVIL DEAD
  9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
  10. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  11. ZOMBIE
  12. THE THING
  13. THE HOWLING
  14. THE FLY
  15. HORROR HOTEL
  16. DAWN OF THE DEAD
  17. DAY OF THE DEAD
  18. FRIDAY THE 13th
  19. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
  20. HALLOWEEN II
  21. HALLOWEEN III
  22. THE VIY
  23. WRONG TURN
  24. THE OLD DARK HOUSE
  25. THE DESCENT

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