31 Days of October Madness – Part 1


Like most of you, nothing puts me in the Halloween spirit like spending each of my October nights with a good horror movie in a dark room, be it in my home or local movie theater, and enjoying some ghastly cinematic experiences that build anticipation for my favorite holiday.

Happy Halloween

Instead of suggesting traditional classics that we’ve all seen dozens of times every year, here are five great viewing options that I recommend to kick off the October fun! I’ll be back next week with five more to add to your 31 days of Halloween movie watching mischief!


For my money, the peak of the Friday the 13th films would have to be director Tom McLoughlin’s self-aware entry in the series that expanded Jason Voorhees’ mythology into more supernatural territory and gave clever nods to horror movie fans long before Scream came into the picture. A great balance of dreadful tension and meta humor, Jason Lives not only is responsible for raising an invincible monster Jason out of the grave but introduces characters that have some witty dialogue, and actually some of them serve more purpose than just adding to Jason’s body count. There are tons of fun horror movie references from Boris Karloff to Sleepaway Camp, and up until Jason X it had the highest body count in the series. Unfortunately, this was not the first film in the series not to place first at the U.S. box office opening weekend, but fans are beginning to come around and give due respect to the most entertaining entry in the franchise. It’s also a great ending to the Tommy Jarvis story arc that began in my second favorite entry, Final Chapter.

Jason Lives


No horror film in recent memory has been able to capture claustrophobic terror quite like The Descent. The biggest strengths of this terrifying journey are the six compelling female characters gathered for a spelunking expedition in the Appalachian Mountains that contend with not only the diabolical creatures that await them in the dark but their own personal demons and how they must survive the test of true solidarity and humanity in order to overcome the outside threat. Not unlike John Carpenter’s The Thing, Neil Marshall’s odyssey into the dreadful abyss examines the truth in human instinct and how horrific situations can bond people together or tear them apart. The Descent offers up equal amounts of chilling scares and insightful social commentary that will eat at your brain long after it’s over.

The Descent


If Season of the Witch didn’t bear Halloween in its title, I am absolutely certain that this movie would be regarded as a classic of the horror movie genre and a staple in the tradition of seasonal horror movie marathons in nearly every home. The sole entry in the Halloween franchise not to feature boogeyman Michael Myers fully captures the spirit that John Carpenter originally envisioned for the Halloween series, where every film would have its own unique Halloween-related tale to tell. The film was a commercial failure at the box office, but the story was so effective that the novelization became a best-seller and was even reissued two years after the film’s release. Tommy Lee Wallace replaced original director Joe Dante, who also received sole writing credits despite contributions from John Carpenter himself. The iconic Silver Shamrock masks of the skull, witch and jack-o-lantern are the center of one of the darkest horror movies of the Eighties with a kick-ass performance from Tom Atkins and an eerie John Carpenter score, adding layers of atmosphere to a unique horror sequel that long deserves its due. Whether the movie’s resolution is considered bleak or bold, there’s no denying that Halloween III is a successful exercise in terror on its own merits and stands on its own. Consider this a worthy addition to your annual Halloween viewing.

Halloween 3


Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett set out to make a fun slasher feature for the Midnight Madness audience at the Toronto International Film Festival, and they not only reached the bar they set but far succeeded it. You’re Next turned the tables on the conventional home invasion movie and delivered one of the most memorable horror heroines since Laurie Strode in the form of Erin, portrayed with ultimate ferocity by Sharni Vinson, and marks a delightful welcome home to icon Barbara Crampton. Wingard and Barrett have become one of the most exciting pairs working in the horror movie industry today, and after their follow-up, The Guest, they have proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the genre that you don’t want to take your eyes away from.

Youre Next


Almost two decades before Shaun of the Dead, Dan O’Bannon’s zombie comedy came on to the scene like a horror movie revelation that had a defiant punk rock attitude much like the characters that partied at the graveyard in Return of the Living Dead. What truly makes this hilarious excursion of the undead successful is the commitment to its own ridiculous premise and dedication to following its own rules. Much like Repo Man, this movie maintains a comedic and anarchic tone without undermining its narrative or sacrificing its dedication to horrific thrills and unapologetic mayhem. With too much quotable dialogue, from “You think this is a fuckin’ costume? This is a way of life!” to “You’ve got to let me EAT YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINS!” and a fun punk soundtrack where 45 Grave declares it’s “Partytime,Return of the Living Dead is an all-time cult classic and a guaranteed blast in your October movie lineup.

Return of the Living Dead



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