It’s that time of year again—my absolute favourite time of year—Halloween! Vampires, werewolves, zombies, … all come to life at parties for young and old, live theatrical and haunted house performances, and most especially, horror movies. Classics like Dracula, Night of the Living Dead, House on Haunted Hill or The Exorcist, and more recent additions like Cabin in the Woods or The Witch.
As a Canadian filmmaker and author, I would particularly like to draw your attention to Canadian-made horror films. There are some terrifically spooky films to choose from in First Weekend Club’s horror catalogue that you should definitely make time for in your Halloween-related viewing schedule.
Haunter: I love a good “reverse ghost story” —a haunting story from the perspective of the ghost or ghosts. It worked to great effect in The Others and it works here, too. Particularly the repetitious “day” the family from 1986 must walk through over and over, until their teenage daughter begins to wake to their scenario, and unravels what happened to her family. Not only this, she must reach out to her living counterpart, whose family may suffer the same fate without intervention from beyond the grave. It’s broodily directed by Vincenzo Natali, written by Brian King, and stars the consistently creepy and angst-ridden (when she wants to be) Abigail Breslin.
If you enjoy creeptastic children in your horror movies, you’ll love Mama. This film tells the tale of two little feral girls rescued after five years in the woods on their own – or so everyone thinks. It seems, perhaps, that something rather “phantastic” was watching over these little ones, and may have followed them to their new home with their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girl friend (played by the always strong Jessica Chastain). This one was written and directed by Andres Muschietti.
The Moth Diaries is set in a girls’ boarding school and guides us along the twisted path all young girls must follow on their journey to womanhood, fraught with all its anxieties, fears, and sexual awakenings. For most of us, however, it doesn’t involve potential vampires. Lucy Blake (Sarah Gadon) must muddle her way through one frightening event after another, all the while obsessing over her new classmate Ernessa played by the delightfully sinister Lily Cole, a woman already disturbingly beautiful, so it’s no wonder Lucy can’t shake thoughts of her. Reality and fantasy become increasingly difficult to parse as Lucy attempts to discover whether or not her new classmate is a supernatural creature.
Don’t forget David Cronenberg’s many early films, such as The Brood, Rabid, Scanners, Videodrome or Dead Ringers to name merely a few, and other Canadian-classics like Prom Night (Leslie Nielson and Jamie Lee Curtis!), The Gate and Black Christmas, which is suitable for viewing from October right through to the end of December!
And let’s not forget the charming subgenre of horror comedies! I will be catching Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal for my fill of the horrifically hilarious this year. To those of you who appreciate B-movie cult favourites by the likes of Ed Wood and other films that are “so-bad-they’re-good”…or at least, funny…may I humbly suggest my own horror/sci-fi B-movie parody, Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem! It hits most, if not all the typical B-movie notes: mad scientist, check; zombies—from SPACE!, check; giant monsters rampaging through a city, check; something with two heads, check; cheesy space saucers battling aforementioned monsters, check; heaps of felines, check…you get the idea.
Incidentally, A Man of Great Importance, the narrator from Space Zombies, has reappeared in my life and online this year to worry the masses with ridiculous conspiracy theories and imminent disasters for any and all who will listen. You can check out those 13 short episodes on YouTube. Unfortunately, he did not predict the current Scary Clown craze, but don’t worry—we have that covered in one of my short films, The Scary Bitch Project (included as a special feature on the Space Zombies DVD, for those who are interested).
And for those of you who enjoy complimenting your horror film watching experience with reading scary stories as well, I must let you know there’s a novelette version of Space Zombies!, as well my latest horror story They Suck, co-written with my husband, Kevin Risk (whom, it so happens, I married on Halloween night in 2004). Both are available on Lulu.com and Amazon.com.
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t miss out on what Canada’s filmmakers have to offer in the horror movie genre—whether you watch before, during, or after the Halloween season.
Regan Macaulay is an enthusiast of all things horror, animal, NZ and Winnie-the-Pooh. She writes genre novels, plays and films for all ages, as well as picture storybooks. Learn more about her at reganwhmacaulay.weebly.com and find her films and books at http://www.tripletake.net/shop/.