31 Days of October Madness Strikes Back! – Part 1

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October is upon us, and to celebrate our favorite time of year, October Madness is back with a vengeance to make sure your 31 nights are filled with dread and joy. Below are seven titles we recommend to get the Halloween spirit pumping through your veins.

Be sure to check back next week for more movie suggestions to drive you mad.

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2

Tobe Hooper and screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson’s black comedy sequel to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was very much at odds with what Cannon Films wanted them to deliver, but despite the studio’s best efforts of cutting the picture to deliver audience expectations, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is without question a horror comedy that doesn’t shy from the gore and is about as crazy as Leatherface himself. Like Motel Hell on speed, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is sheer anarchy from beginning to end, and it absolutely works. Dennis Hopper’s Lefty is his most unhinged character portrayal next to Frank Booth, Chop Top cemented Bill Moseley as a genre icon, Jim Siedow’s return as The Cook is a blast and Tom Savini’s makeup fx work is killer.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

LADY IN WHITE

I somehow missed out on Lady in White while it gained a cult following on television, but thanks to the new release from Scream Factory I recently had the opportunity to see what I missed out on. The first thing that struck me about Frank LaLoggia’s film is how it immediately feels like a movie I would have watched traditionally for Halloween. Everything about the atmosphere and tone stirred up feelings I used to have around this time of year, mostly thanks to Russell Carpenter’s vivid cinematography, and I absolutely identified with young Frank’s admiration of classic monsters. A supernatural mystery inspired by an urban legend, Lady in White is a creepy, melancholy and sweet viewing pleasure that will have you humming “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?” well after it’s over.

Lady in White

ANGUISH

This 1987 Spanish film from director Bigas Luna is a cerebral hallucination from start to finish. The Mommy is the film within this film that stars Zelda Rubinstein who manifests her blood-thirst by hypnotizing her optometrist son portrayed by Michael Lerner to do her bidding. Meanwhile the audience within this film watching The Mommy are themselves put under a trance while a homicidal maniac obsessed with the movie they’re watching mimics the terror portrayed on screen and it all unfolds as you the viewer become sucked into the surreal atmosphere and feel like a participant in this unnerving cinematic experiment. Anguish really gets inside your head as all the action taking place on the screen in the theater is a mirror image of what’s surrounding the audience and the director goes as far to put backward subliminal messages in the theater to pull the audience further into this hypnotic nightmare. Anguish is a disturbing assault on the senses and once you see it there’s no going back.

Anguish

INSIDE

During the new wave of extreme French horror films, the filmmaking duo of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo burst onto the scene with what I consider to be the best of the bunch. Flipping genre clich├ęs, Maury and Bustillo created a terrifying antagonist who will stop at nothing on Christmas Eve to get what she wants be any means necessary. Inside is visually stylish, psychologically brutal and completely unrelenting.

Inside

THE WITCH

My favorite horror film of 2016 is this creepy period piece from director Robert Eggers which actually got the endorsement of The Satanic Temple. Set in 17th century New England, a family banished from a Puritan plantation has their faith and sanity tested as paranoia, black magic and ritualistic murder invade their sanctuary and tear them apart. Black Phillip is a horror icon you won’t forget and this brilliant debut from Robert Eggers shows how movies about witches are supposed to be made.

Black Phillip

CANDYMAN

When looking back at horror films in the Nineties, I don’t recall any of them getting under my skin the way Candyman did. When I was twelve years old and nervous about standing in front of a mirror in the dark, this movie might have creeped me out a little. Based on the short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker, Bernard Rose’s film adaptation wisely moves the story’s setting from England to the Cabrini-Green public housing development in Chicago, giving this picture a blend of raw energy and gloomy atmosphere. Candyman holds up like a frightening piece of cinematic poetry underlined by a masterful score from Philip Glass. I dare you to watch this and stand in front of a mirror afterwards and say “Candyman” five times.

Black History Month

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER

A delightful surprise this year was director Billy O’Brien’s chilling adaptation of Dan Wells’ 2009 novel I Am Not a Serial Killer, the first in a series of books that includes five so far. John Wayne Cleaver is a teen sociopath who’s engrossed with mass murderers and crime scenes; he finds himself at odds with his own murderous urges and forces himself to conceal them by his own set of rules. Christopher Lloyd gives his best performance in years as John’s neighbor in this suspense thriller that takes a fun detour into the supernatural. I Am Not A Serial Killer is witty, spooky and filled with interesting characters. I hope more of you see this so we can get some more cinematic adventures in this world.

I Am Not A Serial Killer

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