HALLOWEEN HAUNTS: Classic Movie Double Features for Halloween Night
I love watching horror movies, that’s a given. And what better time to watch them than on Halloween night? Even folks who don’t generally watch horror movies indulge on Halloween.
Some watch just one. Others do marathons long into the night. Still others hearken back to the days of the Creature Double Feature and settle in for a twin bill. Yep, everybody loves a good double feature.
So, for Halloween 2013, here’s a look at some awesome double features for you to enjoy after all the Trick-or-Treaters have come and gone.
Granted, I lean heavily on classic horror, but no worries, I’ve got some new ones here as well. The bottom line is there are simply so many horror films worthy of your time, especially on Halloween night. You really can’t go wrong.
Here we go:
Into the Universal classics? Excellent! They make great viewing on Halloween night, as they’re real mood setters.
Look no further than the best of the best: FRANKENSTEIN (1931) followed by its sequel THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). FRANKENSTEIN is my personal favorite of the Universal monster movies. Boris Karloff’s Monster is the perfect mix of uncontrollable brutality and infant innocence. He’s as sympathetic as he is terrifying. Its sequel, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is considered by many to be the best horror film of all time.
Not into Frankenstein? Rather watch vampires? Then check out DRACULA (1931) and allow Bela Lugosi to mesmerize you as the king of the undead. Follow it up with its effective sequel, DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936).
More into werewolves? Then watch THE WOLF MAN (1941) followed by its exciting sequel, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1942).
Simply want more monsters? Then indulge in these Universal monster parties, which include Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the Frankenstein monster, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944) starring Boris Karloff as an evil mad scientist, rather than as the monster, and its companion piece HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945).
Not into monsters but want a classic flavor? Then check out this Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi double bill: THE BLACK CAT (1934) and THE RAVEN (1935). Other than their signature roles as the Frankenstein monster and Dracula, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi probably turn in their best performances in these two movies. They complement each other so well. Karloff and Lugosi made several movies together. These are two of their best.
In the mood to mix frights with laughter? Then settle in and watch ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) and Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974), two of the funniest horror movies ever made.
Moving onto to Hammer Films, while there are so many to choose from, it’s Halloween, so go with the best: THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) followed by HORROR OF DRACULA (1958). Watch Peter Cushing give the performance of his life as the relentless Baron Victor Frankenstein, creating one of the most hideous monsters ever to grace the big screen, Christopher Lee’s Creature, in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Then, watch HORROR OF DRACULA and witness Christopher Lee’s insanely frightening and sexy performance as Dracula, matching wits against Peter Cushing’s energetic and dynamic Van Helsing.
Into Vincent Price? Check out this early double bill, HOUSE OF WAX (1953) followed by this other “house” classic, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959).
Want later Price? Then check out these campy classics, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971) followed by THEATER OF BLOOD (1973). Murder has never been so much fun!
Into giant monsters? Invite these behemoths into your home: KING KONG (1933), the classic monster movie that remains one of the best movies of all time period! It’s truly the Eighth Wonder of the movie world. And follow it up with the campy Japanese classic bout, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962). It’s silly, it’s goofy, and King Kong looks like a stuffed gorilla toy accidentally run through the wash, but it’s oh so fun.
Speaking of Godzilla, if you want to be scared by a giant monster, then kick off this frightening double bill with GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS! (1956). Godzilla’s first foray into the movies is his most frightening ever, a very intense film, nothing at all like the lightweight Godzilla movies from the 1960s and 70s. Follow this with one of the best horror movies of the 21st century, J.J. Abram’s CLOVERFIELD (2008). If you don’t think giant monsters can be scary, you haven’t seen these two movies.
You prefer your giant monsters silly and campy? Then look no further than these wild rides from Japan’s Toho Studios: FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1965), featuring a giant Frankenstein Monster who battles a colossal reptile, followed by THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966) which in Japan was the sequel to FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD. But here in the United States, all references to Frankenstein were removed from GARGANTUAS. Still, it’s one of my favorite Toho movies, and once you’ve seen the good gargantua and the bad gargantua, you won’t forget them.
Looking for some 1950s science fiction to get you in the Halloween spirit? Then kick things off with George Pal’s colorful and explosive THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953). You’ll forever marvel at those Martian machines. Follow this with a different kind of space invasion, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) one of the scariest science fiction movies ever made.
Jumping ahead to the 1970s, how about these devilishly good haunts to scare you this Halloween, THE EXORCIST (1973) followed by THE OMEN (1976). Heads will spin, beds will rise, and 666 will be flashing on your speed dial.
Okay, let’s get modern and look at some more recent haunts.
Want brutal and intense? Then go with 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007), a story about vampires loose in an Alaskan town just before the sun sets for a month. Follow this with THE CRAZIES (2010) an excellent remake of George Romero’s original about a small town overrun by a disease that turns people into crazy murderous beasts.
Speaking of remakes, watch the better than average remake THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009) about parents getting the chance to avenge a brutal rape of their daughter. If you like family tales of a different nature, follow this up with ORPHAN (2009) a story that will make you think twice about adopting.
Feel like spying on people in their own homes and watching them terrified by spooks and demons? Then watch PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007) followed by PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010).
In the mood for a modern take on classic monsters, in colorful productions that honor the Universal and Hammer styles? Then go with ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (2012) and follow that up with the remake of THE WOLFMAN (2010). Both these movies have some serious bite.
For me, the most fun horror film I’ve seen in the past few years has been INSIDIOUS (2010). When I saw this in the theater, people were screaming left and right. It was one of the most fun times I’ve had at a horror movie in years. So, start off with INSIDIOUS, guaranteed to freak you out, and follow it up with another fun horror movie, this one very new, MAMA (2013).
What will I be watching this Halloween?
Well, for me, it varies from year to year. This year I’m going with a classic, an oldie-but-a-goodie double bill: John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978) followed by its sequel, HALLOWEEN II (1981). HALLOWEEN is a classic of horror cinema, one of John Carpenter’s best movies. Its sequel, HALLOWEEN II, is not, but it’s still an entertaining follow-up. You’ll also have fun with John Carpenter’s memorable music score stuck in your head for the rest of the night.
You can’t go wrong with any of these double bills. And of course, there are many, many more horror movies not mentioned in this column. Feel free to come up with your own double feature.
This Halloween, after the Trick-or-Treaters have come and gone, sit back and relax and enjoy one of these Halloween double features.
Happy Halloween, everybody!