bill bodkin peers into the eerie excellent of his favorite halloween-related movies …
If you’ve noticed the lack of posting on B&B recently, it’s been due to the fact that I, Bill Bodkin, have been taken away from blogging duties because I just went in for surgery. Nothing huge, but it’s kept me away from the site for the past week and a half. I even had to forgo my Halloween plans to make sure all my work was done for my job.
So what better inspiration for a Top 10 post? These films are ones that I feel really can capture the Halloween spirit, even if the ground is covered in snow or it’s the middle of a blazing summer.
1. Shaun Of The Dead
Fresh off the critical and cult success of their U.K. sitcom Spaced, Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, Nick Frost and Big Talk Productions took a huge gamble and produced this wacky-yet-serious, romantic-yet-gory tribute to George Romero films. The film is filled to the brim with brilliant sight gags, witty one-liners, wanky British humor, tongue-in-cheek film references as well as genuine horrifying sequences and a real sense of humanity. This is one you can watch a million times and still find something new and hilarious.
2. Evil Dead Trilogy
Suck on this, you primitive screw heads! The brainchild of then first-time director Sam Raimi and executed to acting perfection by Bruce Campbell, The Evil Dead series, is equal parts side-splitting comedy and gruesome, terrifying horror. The first Evil Dead flick is a bloody-as-all-hell horror film that is a good starting point. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn is basically a rehashing of the first film with the Three Stooges-esque comedy ramped up to 11. Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness is a terrific combination of slapstick and action/horror film that is known for its memorable one-liners than anything else. Remember … shop smart … shop S Mart.
3. Sleepy Hollow
Heads will roll indeed. Tim Burton creates a beautiful film that seamlessly combines 50s Hollywood back lot horror with modern CGI technology. Slightly modified from the original story, Johnny Depp played Constable Ichabod Crane, a forward thinking yet timid New York cop sent to the small hamlet of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of murders. Burton’s gothic tendencies, Depp’s daft performance and Christopher Walken as the Headless horseman makes this a classic.
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Another Burton gem. This is a beautifully crafted stop-motion animated musical comedy that has inspired millions of Hot Topics products. The music of Danny Elfman (who provides the singing voice of Jack the Pumpkin King) and unique vision of director Henry Selick (and Burton, of course) make this not only a timeless Halloween classic, but a Christmas one as well.
5. Night Watch/Day Watch
The brainchild of Russian visionary Timmur Bekmambetaov, (known in the States for Wanted), this is a really trippy series of films that has to be watched within the same sitting. The film revolves around Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabenskiy), a reluctant agent for the forces of good who constantly battles the end of the world, vampires and tons of emotional problems in Russia. The visuals are mind-blowing — I mean, got-to-see-it-to-believe-it good — and the storytelling, while frustrating at first, come together perfectly in the final act.
6. Hell Boy and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army:
Hellboy’s success can be attributed to the brilliant mind of director Guillermo del Toro, as well as the brilliant performance by Ron Perlman. The fantastical adventures of Hellboy and his buddies is a visual buffet filled only with the sweetest treats. The comedy is very high, especially in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, where a drunk Hellboy and Abe Sapien belt out Barry Manilow’s “Cant Smile Without You.”
7. Pan’s Labyrinth
The masterpiece of Guillermo del Toro. He is able to tell concurrent stories of a fantasy world and World War II Spain, with the same attention to detail. The film’s creature effects are what’d you’d expect from the fantastical touch of the jolly director, but the drama and the phenomenal finale are what makes the film that damn good.
8. Big Trouble In Little China:
Jump on the Porkchop Express with good ol’ Jack Burton (the amazingly underrated Kurt Russell) as he and his friends go into the mystical depths of the Chinese underworld. Helmed by Halloween director John Carpenter, the film has a lot of strong fantasy and martial arts elements, but it’s Russell’s faux-John Wayne performance that makes this a truly enjoyable film.
9. From Dusk Til Dawn
Not many people dig this film, but it’s still a fun film. Take the snappy dialogue of any Quentin Tarantino film and combine it with the rock ‘n’ roll violence of a Robert Rodriguez film, add a dash of pre-awesome George Clooney with a whole mess of blood, guts and go-go dancers, and you’ve got yourself a damn fine horror film.
10. John Carpenter’s Vampire 2: Los Muertos
Oh my sweet Lord … Jon Bon Jovi as a vampire hunter named Derek Bliss? Yes, this actually did happen. This made-for-DVD sequel (from the late ’90s flick with James Woods) features Jon Bon Jovi kicking vampire ass in Mexico. Along for the ride is Darius Mcrary — AKA EDDIE WINSLOW from Family Matters — and indie film darling Diego Luna of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Milk fame.