Halloween – some alternative movies

My friend Dominique and I were chatting about movies on Saturday and I decided that for today I would present some alternatives to the usual lists of scary movies. These are films I really enjoyed and are not usually present on such lists.

Whilst I love horror movies, I am actually very picky and will read reviews and synopses carefully before watching a movie. Movies with torture are out of the question (so no ‘Saw’, ‘Hostel’, ‘Wolf Creek’ etc). I am a big fan of ‘creature-features’ and horror-comedy however. The serial-killer genre largely does not appeal at all, though ‘Psycho’, ‘Halloween’ and ‘The Hitcher’ are great movies in their own right. Ghost movies too are not my scene.

Dog Soldiers (2002)

The first feature film directed by English director Neil Marshall. This is basically ‘Aliens’ with werewolves and follows a unit of soldiers investigating the disappearance of an elite unit in the Scottish highlands. Though low-budget this is a very effective movie and the creatures are well realised. After decades of watching horror movies it is rare I don’t see a jump-scare coming but the first one in this caught me out…

Marshall was actually disappointed that this was not an ’18’ certificate in the UK so deliberately went all-out with the gore in his next movie ‘The Descent’, which is also well worth a watch unless you are claustrophobic…

It Follows (2014)

This is the best John Carpenter movie that John Carpenter never made. It does very much resemble his style, even down to the excellent music.

The plot is basically that a mysterious entity relentlessly pursues its target and the only way a person can escape is by passing the buck to another person through sex. The entity can only be seen by its target and can resemble anyone it has come into contact with.

This is actually very low on gore but very high on tension and a feeling of dread.

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

An old favourite from my twenties. Loosely based on a story by John Russo (who co-wrote the 1968 ‘Night of the Living Dead’ with George Romero) it is unrelated to the Romero movies. Very much pitched as a black comedy this actually boasts far better effects and (I think) scarier zombies than the Romero movies. It works both as a comedy and as a horror movie, which is not an easy thing to balance.

Tremors (1990)

An early starring role for Kevin Bacon, who subsequently left the franchise before the sequel as his career took off. This is a very well cast movie, with Fred Ward and Bacon as the leads. The real star, for me, is the hilarious Michael Gross as survivalist Burt Gummer. And indeed – his character became the lead in subsequent sequels (which are still being made and which I keep buying..) and a short lived TV series.

Very much a throwback to the giant-creature movies of the 1950s this features giant prehistoric carnivorous underground worms menacing the tiny town of Perfection, Nevada. The engaging characters make this an enjoyable movie to watch, however corny.

Near Dark (1987)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this reunites three stars of her friend (and future husband) James Cameron’s movie ‘Aliens’ from the previous year: Jenette Goldstein, Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen.

This film sprung out of an 80s trend for vampire movies but compared with the recent ‘Lost Boys’ and ‘Fright Night’ this one took a very dark and brutal turn and the chemistry between the three is very much to the fore, though they are the villains of the piece this time.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Perhaps the most classic movie here, and much parodied (not least by Mel Brooks with ‘Young Frankenstein’).

A direct sequel to Universal’s ‘Frankenstein’ of 1931. This surpasses the original and is visually stunning, with effects that still stand up today.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

The 80s saw a lot of utterly bonkers horror movies and this one is actually great fun. Even the title makes me smile! The plot is fairly routine but the creature design and sense of fun are terrific.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Another werewolf movie but told in a very different way. A few years back I went through a phase of watching werewolf movies and found this one after seeing a review. Both leads are superb in this.

The cello theme for the opening montage is a lovely piece of music by the way.

The Fog (1980)

Very rare that I like ghost movies. (I did, however, recently watch ‘The Ring’ and enjoyed it greatly.)

This ghost movie was one of the less well received of John Carpenter’s films during his 70s/80s peak. I have always loved it however, and it is genuinely scary. A superb cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau and Janet Leigh. The music, by director John Carpenter, is as good as always.

Troll Hunter (2011)

This is a lot of fun. A ‘found footage’ movie, which I am not usually very keen on, that is actually great. The synopsis is that trolls really exist but have been kept secret by the Norwegian government and fenced in far north of civilisation, with occasional encounters ‘managed’ by poorly paid and demoralised rangers. A group of students making a film follows one of these rangers, suspecting he is a bear poacher…

In Norwegian, it was up for a Hollywood remake directed by Neil Marshall (see Dog Soldiers) but thankfully this never happened. More of a dark fantasy that a true horror movie, but has its scary moments for sure!

Kindergarten Cop (1990)

Because no vampire, werewolf, zombie or ghost is anything like as terrifying as small children are….

28 Comments

  1. You must go watch the 1982 ‘Cat People,’ with songs by David Bowie. I am sure you will find it free on line.

    “Cat People is a 1982 American erotic horror film directed by Paul Schrader. It stars Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell; John Heard, Annette O’Toole, Ruby Dee, Ed Begley Jr., Scott Paulin, and Frankie Faison play supporting roles. Wilbur Stark and Jerry Bruckheimer served as executive producers. Alan Ormsby… ”

    It is a twist on the vampire movies and it is still one of my favourite movies in this genre. I hate Gore, for Gore sake like a lot of today’s stuff… Cat people is also a psychological thriller.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve never seen it but will check it out for sure. I recall seeing an old black and white version I think? Thank you for this suggestion!
    I’m not averse to gore but I have moved away from it as I’ve grown older. And I cope better if it is in a fantasy context (e.g. Alien). Realistic torture scenes I detest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You would like Troll Hunter I think Lisa. I mentioned to Dominique on IG messenger that my last one was a funny one. She can’t read the blog until she gets home so is trying to guess it. What are her chances??πŸ˜„β€

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I loved Tremors. Early Bacon always makes me laugh. (Except the original Footloose..which I love!)
    I still need to watch Perfume, I am always more distressed by movies than books and that book was creepy!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Love your list – and the pic of you in your wings! I haven’t seen any – however I did see the new Terminator last night and loved it. Probably the most violent film I’ve ever seen, but when it’s terminators that are invincible it’s sort of OK. Non-stop action and in-your-face special effects – seamless though so a great experience for the cinema.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is an awesome list Darren. I only saw one film and that is Bride of Frankenstein. I did see Colette,s suggestion and I confirm that is is a really good movie. And in reply to Kris I must say that I love the book Perfume but the film wasn’t that great. I do want to see Terminator!!!! And reading Eve’s comment makes me want to see it pronto! Perhaps this weekend. Now, back to your list… Gosh you made me laugh. I should have known it was a joke. You are right β€”I never could have guess that one. I still think that my suggestion was a good one. Monsters inc. was a good film. I want to see The Fog, especially because it is a John Carpenter’s film.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I’ve seen that Tracy and enjoyed it greatlyπŸ˜„. I got it around the same time I got a vampire movie called ‘A girl wslks home alone at night’ which is set in Iran and is black and white and very arty. Critics loved it but I was bored silly. The original Bela Lugosi Dracula had the same effect on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you. I plan to see Terminator next week. It will be the first since T2 I have seen at the cinema, having waited for the others to come out on dvd. Nice to know you enjoyed it! Really looking forward to it now! Was not sure from the trailers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you and you have some catching up to do!
    Wish I could go see Terminator with you but if we both see it we can chat about it later.
    Your suggestion of Monsters inc. Is actually a better fit and I wish I’d thought of it. It is indeed a good film. My other option was ‘Daddy Day Care’.
    Can’t believe you have not seen ‘The Fog’ and we must put this rightπŸ˜„. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t read any reviews of the new Terminator, but I am a big fan with all films on DVD in my collection. As a new James Cameron film , it’s said to be following in the tradition of 1 and 2. Definitely worthy of the big screen!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ha! I haven’t seen any of these except Kindergarten Cop and I have no excuse for watching that except maybe that I was 9 years old back then! πŸ˜‚ I used to watch some creature horror films in my teens but always preferred psycho thrillers or classic Hitchcock movies. I’m a big jumper too so I learned to recognize the warning signs in films. πŸ˜‰ But every so often one does catch me. πŸ˜‚ Will copy down your list and look out for these films on next trip to the library. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

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