Hallowe’en Viewing Suggestions

Okay, so Hallowe’en is on its way. Maybe you’re planning a party, maybe you’re thinking about what horror movies you should watch leading up to the big day in general.

Sure, you could watch 3 flicks from the same property like Evil Dead, or Halloween, George A. Romero’s zombies… but horror movies spawn a lot of sequels of varying quality (I’m talking to you, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)).

Instead, I’ve created a list of possible movie-combos based on themes. I hope you like them, and maybe they will give you some new ideas.

1. FUNNY (but not for kids)

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Night of the Demons

These are some (sometimes unintentional) comedy-horrors that make for good popcorn-eating, drinking-game-playing, party movies, but still have moments that might creep people out.

Night of the Demons (1988) The weird kid decides to have a Hallowe’en party at the local haunted house. Things get really scary. Lipstick, ladies?

The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987) Evil deadites possess the living (and the woods themselves) in an isolated cabin. These are the films that made Sam Raimi’s career and his eccentric camera work, paired with Bruce Campbell’s off-the-wall performance make these a mainstay of Hallowe’en programming everywhere.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985) An homage to the George A. Romero films, this is a new take on his zombies that pits a bunch of no-good-punks against government-produced zombies.

Re-Animator (1985) A sort-of H.P. Lovecraft story, with the best mad scientist I’ve seen on film.

Dead Alive AKA Braindead (1992) Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) was clearly inspired by Raimi. He made a low-budget horror film with some great props and crazed ideas. You may never look at a lawnmower the same way again.

There are many more self-aware horror-comedies now. I will list some, but they wink at the audience pretty broadly: Lake Placid (1999), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Slither (2006), Drag me to Hell (2009), Zombieland (2009), What We Do in the Shadows (2014), Get Out (2017).

 

2. BODY HORROR

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Dead Ringers

This is the opposite end of the spectrum from above, while there are some funny elements, there are genuine gross-out points here. I have given almost no information so you can get the full experience.

Dead Ringers (1988) Jeremy Irons is twin gynecologists.

Scanners (1981) One of the most iconic explosions, ever.

The Thing (1982) Kurt Russel is part of a team in an Antarctic scientific outpost and they are under attack.

The Fly (1986) Jeff Goldblum is a scientist working on teleportation.

From Beyond (1986) Barbara Crampton is a psychologist trying to understand one patient’s madness.

 

3. REALLY CREEPY

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Martin

Martin (1978) This movie is ambivalent about whether Martin is or is not a vampire. It makes for an interesting watch.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) A classic for a reason, this movie is all about paranoia.

28 Days Later (2002) Kind of a big deal when it came out, this movie brought us the “fast zombie” and really got into living through the zombie apocalypse.

It Follows (2014) Gets by more on creep-factor than content, per se, but really stuck with me.

It Comes at Night (2017) More upsetting emotionally than anything else. Not a creature feature.

 

4. EVIL, MAGICAL GIRLS

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Phenomena

As I’ve discussed in other posts, this is really its own category of horror films. Girls are often used as the site of societal fears.

Phenomena (1985) An often-overlooked Argento film, in which a girl has an unusual bond with insects.

The Exorcist (1973) An obvious choice, but it still holds up pretty well, blurring the lines between psychopathy and evil.

Carrie (1976) Another obvious choice, but it remains a chilling portrait of teenage cruelty.

Let the Right One In (2008) A new take on young vampires.

The Witch (2015) A new take on the psychology of witchcraft.

Hereditary (2018) Although my husband maintains that this was “a dark comedy”, I found it really got under my skin. It works both as a metaphor and a literal story, so it’s pretty neat.

 

5. STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE

Image result for Mandy 2018 filmMandy (2018) This movie is all about looks, and I’m fine with that; it’s visual storytelling.

White Zombie (1932) I would be remiss not to include a Lugosi film, and this one is more interesting to look at than some of his other ventures, while not noteworthy for its plot.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) If you can get over Keanu’s attempt at a British accent… well, you can’t, but this movie is sexy and super cool to look at.

Sleepy Hollow (1999) A re-telling of the horror classic with sets to die for (ah, puns).

Crimson Peak (2015) A Gothic-with-a-capital-G film all about ambiance and colour.

 

6. THE OBVIOUS CHOICES

These are all classics for a reason. You can’t mess with Psycho (1960), The Omen (1976), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Halloween (1978), The Shining (1980), An American Werewolf in London (1982), Silence of the Lambs (1991), or Candyman (1992) but even I get burnt-out on the classics after a while.

 

7. JUST SKIP IT

These are some of the supposed classics and game-changers that left me unmoved or felt too much “of an era” to remain relevant: Suspiria (1977), Poltergeist (1982), The Hunger (1983), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Hellraiser (1987), Tremors (1990), Scream (1996), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Saw (2004), The Descent (2005), Paranormal Activity (2007), Sinister (2012), The Conjuring (2013), Antibirth (2016), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), It (2017), A Quiet Place (2018).

 

8. HONOURABLE MENTIONS

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Pet Sematary

These don’t quite fit the categories that I defined, but are worth watching in general:

Pet Sematary (1989) Great film, sequel not wanted.

The Others (2001) Ghosts!

Shadow of the Vampire (2000) A fictitious look at filming on the set of Nosferatu (1922)

Mama (2013) Sort of creepy kids and ghosts.

The Babadook (2014) Worth the hype.

Bone Tomahawk (2015) Sort of a Western, but also horror.

The Ritual (2017) A creature feature, but cooler than it sounds.

Annihilation (2018) Although the ending left me a bit dissatisfied, this sci-fi horror is inventive visually.

 

9. KID STUFF

Young Frankenstein (1974) I mean… I saw it as a kid despite adult situations.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Gremlins (1984)

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Beetlejuice (1988) I mean… I saw it as a kid despite adult situations.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Corpse Bride (2005)

Coraline (2009)

Paranorman (2012)

Krampus (2015)

 

Any viewing suggestions that I missed? Please post a comment.

 

Build your own: Necronomicon ex Mortis and Kandarian Dagger

I made my own Evil Dead props, so can you!

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Groovy.

In case you’re not familiar, The Evil Dead films are cult classics, and a recent TV series has brought the hero of a generation, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), to a new generation. Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless) is a new character invented for the show. She is tough and cool, with sweet leather jackets and a devil-may-care attitude… as well as being an evil sorceress and stuff.

 

Please note: I’m not a cosplayer, this was for a Hallowe’en costume, so these are not 100% show-accurate. BUT, Ruby Knowby did have a sweet green jacket in season 2, so please don’t bust my chops. I wanted to make everything look good enough to be recognizable, but on a budget. So, that said, let’s get into what I did.

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As Ruby, clothing-wise I just needed faux leather leggings and driving gloves (I got both on the cheap). I already had the green faux leather jacket, like her look on Season 2 (I also bought pink hair spray, but since it was for an event in public long before Hallowe’en, I chickened out and left my hair as-is). It’s not a costume that a non-fan would immediately recognize, but I’m okay with that. I am going to keep the props that I made for the foreseeable future, and I had a great time trying out something new.

My husband went as Ash, so all he had to do was to wear a denim shirt he already owned, buy cheap brown trousers at Value Village, buy a Hallowe’en prop chainsaw (which I painted red, and into which he cut a hole to stick his hand). Also, a bit of fake blood to the face really makes it happen. He was totally recognizable in a crowd of horror fans, since he is the hero of Evil Dead. Ash really has all Image result for ruby ash vs evil deadthe luck. You know, except when it comes to his girlfriends, who inevitably become evil, undead Related imagemonsters. But other than that…

THE NECRONOMICON EX MORTIS, THE BOOK OF THE (EVIL) DEAD

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Like any reasonable person, I started by looking up tutorials online. This one was the primary source, in the second half he specifically makes an Evil Dead version. A movie or show-accurate copy will run about 300$ (although there are cheaper variants of lower quality, so it’s your call, really). I would give yourself 5 days for this project, just to ensure you’ve got drying time for the paint.

Materials:

Second-hand book (FREE)

Cardboard (FREE)

Hot-melt glue 16$

Plastic table cloth 3$

Craft paints (red, white, gold, brown, black) 8$

Unfortunately, I didn’t take process photos, since I wasn’t originally thinking about posting anything, but I essentially followed the tutorial above (or, rather, combined elements from both books he made).

I did my best to copy the shapes for the eyes, mouth, nose and forehead from images online, which I then cut out in cardboard. Next, I built them up a bit with hot glue. After that, I cut the tablecloth and glued it down like a book cover. Then, I cut slits in the table cloth to insert the forms and pressed the cloth down into them like stretched leather. For the back, I cut slits for the seams and laid down some hot glue to create the ridges, then stuck in staples to give the stitched look. After that, I just kept building up the hot glue over the forms and added staples to the front cover as well. The overall result was OKAY but I have some suggested modifications at the end.

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For colour, I laid down a base coat of brown mixed with red. Drying took a very long time. After that, I watered down a mix of black and brown, to wash over the whole thing to increase the relief effect. I then went in again selectively with some gold and a new mix of brown to boost the highest parts of the shapes. Next, I did another selective wash of dark brown and added straight black paint in the mouth and eyes. Finally, I did some touch-ups and distressed the outside pages with some black and added some red paint spatter and fingerprints to look like blood.

Things I would do differently:

I would have glued the forms directly to the book cover first, then built up the glue, then laid the table cloth on top of the surface with white glue to hold it in place like papier maché. This would have given a smoother, more leather-like finish. I would also have used less red in the base colour. Altogether, though, the result looks pretty good in photos and was recognizable. Many tutorials use liquid latex, but this was inexpensive and appears to be more durable so far.

KANDARIAN DAGGER

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So, the Kandarian dagger changes a great deal from film to film, but the one from the show Ash vs. Evil Dead is what I tried to make. A very nice one on Etsy costs about 300$, so… I knew I wanted to make my own. I didn’t have any experience in manufacturing, so I used similar materials to this tutorial, but not the same techniques. All told, I would give yourself at least 5 days to do this project.

Materials:

Toy sword 4$

Air-Dry clay 12$

Craft paints (yellow, white, gold, brown, black) 7$

Acrylic varnish 9$

With this one, I have some process photos:

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First, I figured out the length of blade I wanted, and just snapped it by hand. Then, I started to sculpt the handle. I used a bit over half of the package. I used most for the general form of the handle, but I set aside a bit for finishing details.

I knew from my research that the air-dry clay would shrink by 5-15%, so first I cut a piece of cardboard to about 20% larger than my blade 20181012_120207and wrapped it in plastic.

I kneaded the clay, adding a bit of water, and rolled out a coil with a lump at the end to make the “mouth” to go over the blade. I created the basic forms of the “mouth”, but not the teeth or any other details.

Then, I wrapped the coil up to mimic the snake shape in the picture, hatching the joined surfaces with my nails and applying some water to bind them, like you would with regular clay.

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Drying clay

The last part was details. From the remaining bit of clay, I rolled out  fine little coils for teeth and lips, and also laid them around other forms, such as the eyes. I also used them to reinforce the edges where I had wrapped the coil up in a snake shape. In all cases, these little coils were seriously wet down and hatched to hold their position. I let it dry a little bit before going in with my nails again to create a scale-like pattern (I created a grid on an angle, then went in again with my nails to pull up the scales a bit.).

 

I left the blade in place while the handle dried, to ensure that the clay didn’t slump. It took about 3 days to dry. Once dried, the blade could still slip in and out easily. I left the blade out when painting.

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Painted, glued, and varnished

The last steps were painting and gluing. Similar to the technique for the Necronomicon, I based it out in a bone-white (mixing white, yellow, and gold). Then, I applied a wash of heavily watered down black mixed with brown. I went back in with the bone-white where I felt it was needed. I was kind of worried, because both times I painted, the clay itself seemed to get pliable again, like it might squish, but it did eventually re-dry. I glued the blade in place with plain white glue. Finally, as an extra precaution, and to get a bone-like finish, I applied an acrylic varnish at the end. It was mighty shiny, but I do think that it helped to reinforce things and also made it look more professional. I also dirtied up the blade with the wash colour, just to make it look a bit more worn-in. You could also apply some fake blood to really sell it.

 

I hope that this post inspires you for Hallowe’en. Stay groovy, kids!

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