GUEST POST: John Boden

A List of Films to Watch Around Halloween, None of Which are HALLOWEEN

How about that lame ass title?

It’s that time of year again, Boils & Ghouls. I was asked by Meghan to contribute to her yearly holiday blog series, and as usual I said yes and then flaked until literally the day before a piece is due. The grandest intention being to craft a fresh story or autobiographical sliver as I have in past years.

But, see, I think my brain is broken. Plague World and working retail have done it in. Focusing is hard and holding a captured thought is akin to catching tadpoles. So in true cop out fashion I give you this list of movies I love to watch this time of year that may or may not have anything to do with the holiday…okay, a couple of them do.

Ready? Here we go, in no rank or order…

Burnt Offerings. This amazingly gothic film concerns the account of a family whom rent an old mansion in the middle of nowhere only to discover it is not, exactly as promised. Lured by the unreal low cost, the trio learn about desires dark and hungry, about aspirations realized and locked away and never have framed old pictures of people not smiling ever been creepier. Based on the equally superb novel by Robert Marasco.

Dark Night Of The Scarecrow. A Made-For-TV movie that debuted on CBS in 1981. Starred the late Larry Drake as Bubba, a mentally retarded young man who falls victim to violence and prejudices in his tiny farm town…you think. But when the true reason behind his murder begins to show through “Vigilante” posse-runner, Otis Hazelrigg’s cracks (And my God, is it dark and icky for television) you find out it run much deeper. A fantastic cast and wonderfully creepy atmosphere have turned this into a cult favorite. Directed by Frank De Felitta.

Something Wicked This Way Comes. There is nothing that tastes more like October than this novel from the master. A deeply affecting coming-of-age tale about a town haunted. The haunts here are regret and disappointment. Are aging and absenteeism. Are wishes and I mean, we all know how long and hard a wish can clank about in the darkness. Two boys eager to be men, witness the arrival of a strange carnival one late October night. And coming with it are things that live on dreams…and barter for much bigger things. Perfection, this one!

WNUF Halloween Special. This recent treasure from Chris LaMartina is a pinnacle of “found footage/nostalgia itching.” An incredibly well-done trip down memory lane in the costume of a recorded-from-TV Hallwoeen special complete with commercials and static and rewinding and a fairly effective if pretty simple set-up and delivery. A ghoulishy good time!

The Funhouse. This 1981 gem is on here because I have always found it deeply creepy and it always gave me the Autumn feels, even though I think it might be set in late summer. There’s a thick vein of sleaze running through this slasher classic where a group of horny teens (always with the horny teens) decide to sneak into a carnival funhouse for a night of Bible study and crafts and by that I mean probably smoking weed and bumping uglies, only to find themselves pursued by the deformed son of the carnival owner. Not super high on gore but it makes up for it in gross close ups of drooling monster mouth and weird carny imagery.

The Other. 1972 film based on the splendid novel by Thomas Tryon. Set during the Depression, twin brother are at the center of a circle of bizarre events and murder in their rural community. The less you know going in to this one the better but it is absolutely fantastic and a gorgeous film to behold, literally.

I’m going to leave off with this one. The goofy and highly off-kilter Satan’s Little Helper. A video game obsessed little boy finds himself assisting a serial killer plundering his town on Halloween. The boy is all about a game where you help the Devil do bad things and since the killer is dressed as the horned one he thinks that’s what he’s doing. Sure this relatively tame flick has all kinds of logic holes and the acting isn’t the best. But it’s fucking weird. And a lot of fun. From Jeff Lieberman, the feller what gave us the killer worm classic Squirm and the slashery Just Before Dawn.

There. You’ve maybe seen these. Might not have heard of some. Or maybe just never gave them a thought as a Halloween watch. But seeing the white-painted Kirk face every year…hearing the doo-doo-doo-doo of the Silver Shamrock jingle…Watching that little dude with the burlap face chase Brian Cox around his house with a broken lollipop? Change it up. Add one or two of these to your last weekend’s viewing and I promise you you might find at least one new favorite to sew into your Octobers from now on.

And if not, Michael Myers will be waiting for you…as always.


Boo-graphy:
John Boden lives a stone throw from Three Mile Island with his wonderful wife and sons. A baker by day, he spends his off time writing or wasting time watching terrible horror films from the 70s and 80s. He likes Diet Pepsi, cheeseburgers, heavy metal, and old country music and often sports ferocious sideburns. While his output as a writer is fairly sporadic, it has a bit of a reputation for being unique. The books Dominoes, Spungunion, Walk The Darkness Down, and Jedi Summer are his doing alone. Detritus in Love, Out Behind the Barn, Rattlesnake Kisses, Cattywampus, and the nearly finished Black Salve… on those, he had assistance from Mercedes Yardley, Chad Lutzke, or Robert Ford. He’s easily tracked down on Facebook or the Twitter and as rumors have it, a pretty friendly feller… honest.

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