If you’re looking to get your guts turned inside out with fear leading up to Halloween, there are a few options around town you can take advantage of. (Also, if you’d rather stay home and get scared, I have a few suggestions for films to rent both old and new.)
Wednesday, October 30: Halloween (Uptown Theatre)
The urtext of modern day slasher movies (though many have pointed out that it, ahem, “borrowed” some of its best ideas from the earlier Black Christmas, not to mention a number of other Italian giallo thrillers), John Carpenter’s Halloween is, for better and for worse, the official movie companion piece to every spooky, withdrawn child’s favorite holiday. Most of its scares seem pretty quaint now, but that’s perhaps a big part of the nostalgic spell it continues to cast over its fans. Carpenter may have gone on to bigger and arguably better horrors (The Thing, the severely underrated Christine), but none so eternally iconic.
Wednesday, October 30 & Thursday, Oct. 31: Hausu (Trylon Microcinema)
This movie … is unwell. In the best possible way. Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, a surrealist well-versed in the language of glossy, Japanese commercials, House is a one of a kind genre mixtape that resists predictability at each turn. Seriously, Tim Burton dropping acid inside Bugs Bunny’s worst nightmare only begins to suggest how bugged out this horror-comedy-musical-adventure is. Go figure, the free associative script was created, more or less, by the director’s young daughter. Regardless of what you get out of it, there’s no denying that Hausu is positively giddy in its depiction of blood, mayhem and bananas.
Wednesday, October 30 & Thursday, Oct. 31: The Wicker Man (Uptown Theater)
If not the scariest movie of all time, The Wicker Man (the 1973 original, that is, not the Neil LaBute one where Nicolas Cage gets to inhale an entire hive of bees) is certainly among the most unique genre films out there. Edward Woodward stars as the world’s most pious Christian police detective, who responds to a missing girl alert on an island off the coast of Scotland and finds himself at odds with a Pagan community. The contrast between the sergeant’s rigid religious absolutism and the island inhabitant’s charming (and occasionally sexy) outlook sets up one of horror cinema’s most perverse moments of line-blurring between good and evil.
Wednesday, October 31: Trick ‘r Treat (Theatres at Mall of America)
No genre seems better suited to the anthology treatment than horror. From the venerable British omnibus collection Dead of Night to Italian director Mario Bava’s lush Black Sabbath and Masaki Kobayashi’s epic Kwaidan, from the Amicus two-fer Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, from George Romero’s tribute to those EC horror comics Creepshow, horror anthologies are akin to sitting around a campfire and hearing a bunch of friends tell safely creepy, but more importantly fun little mini-horrors. Anyone who grew up with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series will truly dig this recent gem.