Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween Movies

These are some of my favorite movies to watch during Halloween. I could have picked the most famous scary movies, such as the Exorcist or Psycho, but the following have always have a special place in my heart.

Pontytpool (2008)- You probably have not seen this one. It is a wonderful movie from Canada. A zombie like virus that is spread by WORDS.

Horror of Dracula (1958) - A movie I watched as a kid. This was THE movie that made me a fan of horror films. Stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

The Brides of Dracula (1960) - A sort of sequel to Horror of Dracula, but there is no Dracula, or Christopher Lee. This movie is more about Van Helsing, again a role reprised by Peter Cushing. This movie portrays Van Helsing in more of a heroic role. At one point he is bitten by a vampire and he removes the vampiric curse with some holy water and a red hot branding iron.

Black Sunday (1960) also known as The Mask of Satan- A scary Gothic witch story. You have to find this one to watch, it is incredible. It stars Barbara Steele in two roles. She is one of the most gorgeous witches you will ever see, until they nail a mask onto her face.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) - A classic movie about a gill-man that lives in the Brazilian rain forest.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) - George Romero started the zombie craze that is popular today. Check out the two originals, each is a gem in its own right.

The Last Man on Earth (1964) - Based on the novel by (and in my opinion) one of America’s greatest writers, Richard Matheson. This one stars Vincent Price. There have been remakes, The Omega Man , and I am Legend but The Last Man on Earth, follows the Matheson’s story almost to the letter. This is the story which George Romero credits for the inspiration for his dead movies.

The Fly (1958)-Vincent Price is in this one too. This is the original and the best. Once you hear; “Help me, help me” you will never forget it. Trivia about this movie, the screenplay was written by James Clavell who also adapted the screenplay for The Great Escape, and also is the author of King Rat and Shōgun.

The Night Stalker (1972)- Teleplay by Richard Matheson based on a book by Jeffry Grant Rice. A TV movie, about a reporter (Carl Kolchak portrayed by Darren McGavin) who investigates a vampire in Las Vegas. This movie led to the excellent TV series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) - Again a movie based on the book and screenplay by Richard Matheson. This is an excellent movie about a man who is shrinking and shrinking in size. How he perceives himself in the universe at the end of the movie is inspirational.

The Haunting (1963) - This movie is frightening. The scene with the noise outside the door must be the scariest thing ever to be filmed. This is one of those movies which is terrifying, but nothing is really shown.

Freaks- a 1932 movie about a carnival sideshow. If you see this, you will never forget it. Directed by Tod Browning, who had previously directed Dracula, his career never truly recovered after Freaks. The show is not your traditional Halloween movie. The story is about sideshow people who are unique or have physical deformities, once you watch it, you will know who the “real” monsters are.

Count Dracula (1977) I saw this on PBS, it stars Louis Jourdan. It is one of the most frightening versions of Dracula ever filmed. Frank Finlay’s portrayal of Abraham Van Helsing is outstanding.

Dracula (1931), The Wolf Man (1941), Frankenstein (1931) - I put these all together because they are from the glory days of monster movies. Each had an excellent star, Bella Lugosi as Dracula, Lon Chaney Jr. as the werewolf, and Boris Karloff as the monster. Each of these movies are considered classics and deserve the recognition they have received.

Not only did I watch many of these movies in my youth, I also remember getting the model kits based on these movies. The kits were from the line of Auroa Monster Models. These were wonderful models, and to this day, I still remember putting them together.

I want to comment about how I saw the movies I mentioned above. I viewed most of them on local channels, mostly as “creature features.” Probably anyone who is over 40 remembers one of these shows on their local channels. The one I watched most was out of Syracuse, NY and called Monster Movie Matinee.

The set of this show was cheap; it showed a scale model mansion on top of a small hill overlooking a graveyard. The characters consisted of Epal, and Dr. E. Nick Witty. Epal was the assistant to Dr. E. Nick Witty, he performed numerous tasks and experiments for the doctor. You only saw the hands of Dr. Witty, for he was so gruesome that seeing his face would make you catatonic, or even drive you insane.

Another show that was broadcasted long before I could ever watch it was Baron Daemon which was portrayed by Mike Price. I never saw this show, but I wanted to mention it because I later got to know Mike Price in the Coast Guard Reserves.

I mention these shows, because it was local programing like this that introduced me to movies I had never seen before, some good, and some bad. Shows like Monster Movie Matinee, was on once a week, and with only 5 channels on my TV, I did not have many more options. I looked forward to this show, even though I was forced to view whatever they offered. I was exposed to something different every week, because what I saw was out of my control. In this way it expanded, and opened my mind up to new things and new ideas.

Today, I think we miss that introduction and exposure to new things, both good and bad. We have hundreds of cable channels, and on the web you can watch anything you want. That is the problem; you watch what you want to see today. You choose what you view, so there is nothing new or different being presented to you.

When I was a pro wrestler, I had the opportunity to be part of this local movie show history. I appeared on Freaky, Flicks and Food. This was a local broadcast on WWTVH5 in Syracuse. It was a show where a different host each week commented on a B movie that was being shown. It was a fun time, and we even got into a pie fight at the end of the show. Unfortunately, like Monster Movie Matinee, Freaky, Flicks and Food has vanished and has been replaced with an infomercial.

I want to wish everyone a great Halloween. If you do get a chance, check out my author’s site: it definitely has a Halloween about it, and you can get some information about me and my writing.

Next Time: Human Monsters in my novel.


  1. A nice selection of classic and well-known horror movies, William.
    The Fly is definitely one of my faves from this list. The eerie way that Jeff Goldblum slowly mutates and that gut wrenching scene where the dog (i think) is put into into the teleporter and is turned inside out. Yuck!!


  2. That is not a bad version, I do like the original. In the original there are two versions of a fly. One with the body of a man and head and arm of a fly, the other is a fly with the head and body of a man. At the end of the movie the fly (with a mans head and arm) is stuck in a spider's web and is crying "help me, help me". I think being scared of spiders as I am, that one scares me more.

  3. Ha! The Brides of Dracula is an auspicious movie for me. My parents took me to see it when I was 8 years old!!! They came to regret that choice when I ended up in their bed for almost of full month of nights:) I'm still terrified of Dracula and like most people, I try to avoid terror as much as possible!

  4. Not surprising to me but I have not seen many of these Bill. Besides being an introvert, I'm HSP (highly sensitive person) and these kind of stories can - haunt me for months and months. I even had to stop watching tv shows like Criminal Minds. Mu husband LOVES The Night of the Living Dead - it was shot in his home town.

    1. That is really neat about Night of the Living Dead filmed in his home town. I have always been a fan of George Romeo’s movies.
      I am an introvert too, and also pretty sensitive. This is why I liked some Hammer movies, the company that produced the Dracula movies with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. It was always a tale of good vs evil, and good would always win. I think it helped to instill into me right and wrong, and that good will overcome evil in the end.

  5. I am not one who likes horror movies. Halloween is my birthday and it has always bothered me that all the moves come out on that day are horror movies.

  6. What a great list! I own several of the digitalized classics like Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Mummy, etc., and of course Night of the Living Dead. But some of my favorites are the B-rated films that don't usually make these lists like The Thing (I have both the original and the remake), House on a Haunted Hill, Them ... oh and who can forget The Crawling Eye. :-) Now that I think about it, can't wait for Halloween!

    1. I had to limit the list for space, or I would have listed all the ones you did. It is funny now, that you think of the movies today, horror movies and others genres like Godzilla, that use to be considered B movies are now main stream.

  7. This is a great list for the brave- of which I'm not one. I wouldn't be able to sleep for a month or longer. I once went to see Psycho years ago, (not my choice) and it still haunts me from time to time. But I do know people who love this type of movie - I'll pass the list on to them.

  8. My personal favorite on this list is Freaks. Amazing movie. I know it is 80 years but I'm surprised it doesn't get circulated more widely. I first saw it in college which is a long time ago and, as you said, I never forgot it.

    1. That was a time for movies, I think I would put in the same category the original “Cat People.” That too was cutting edge for the time.

  9. Hi William,

    Thanks for this post! Lots of golden oldies here! I feel I'm becoming desensitized to horror as I watch so many. :/

    Have a great day!

    Jenny of Penned by Jenny

  10. I've seen Night of The Living Dead and Dawn of The Dead years ago. None of the others ring a bell. I don't watch scary films often, but if they are well done, I do enjoy them. Thanks for the suggestions.

  11. Well, I'm not generally a fan of scary movies because they give me nightmares! But I did love Gary Olsen as Dracula, back in the 90s, I think. And I do like me some Hitchcock - suspense is awesome! Probably my favourite is "To Catch A Thief" - how can you go wrong with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly?!

  12. As a kid I remember vividly watching horror movies and one that you mentioned is the Fly. But, one that really sticks out in my mind and send shivers up my spine and made me lay awake the night after I watched it was "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane"...OMG!

    1. Betty Davis always scarred me when she did one of those roles. I know someone who was a maid at one of the hotels she used to stay at. She said Betty Davis was one of the nicest people she ever met, and was a great tipper.

  13. I have to admit I'm not a big fan of scary movies although I love the dressing up part of Halloween and loved TV shows such as The Adams Family. I do think we've lost something with local channels not offering their own unique shows such as the ones you've pointed out.