Halloween Horror Roundup ’12

Who says they don’t make them like they used to?

In most cases, “they” are right. But there appears to be a new trend in horror films to go back to old school, and focus on scares and atmosphere and creepiness rather than gore and torture and gratuitous violence.

So, just in time for Halloween, comes this survey of recently issued DVDs for those who want to keep their holiday creepy.

Penumbra (2011): From Spain’s Bogliano brothers comes this atmospheric shocker in which a group of unusual characters rent a South American apartment from a harried real estate agent just as a solar eclipse hits. It’s obvious that the event has something to do with their gathering, but what, exactly?  The talented siblings take their time to tell their disturbing tale in serious Twilight Zone-style fashion.

The Victim (2011): More exploitation film than shocker, this film warrants attention because of its grindhouse elements that resemble a drive-in film from the 1970s. Michael Biehn (The Terminator) wrote and directed this story of a woman who discovers her best friend has been raped and killed by a cop. The woman flees the crime scene chased by two corrupt lawmen, and seeks haven in the cabin of reclusive ex-convict Biehn. Boasting sex, violence, suspense and action, this could be one of the better Roger Corman pictures Roger Corman never made. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Chained (2012):  Jennifer Chambers Lynch, daughter  of David Lynch and the director of the notorious Boxing Helena, wrote and helmed this brutal saga of a psychopath (Vincent D’Onofrio) who kidnaps a kid, keeps him hostage and eventually witnesses him going to the “other side,” abducting women and killing them. The forces of evil alive in D’Onofrio are eventually realized in this horrific tale, not for the squeamish. Julia Ormond and Gina Phillips also star. Available on DVD and in a DVD/Blu-ray package.

Hypothermia (2010): Something fishy is going on under the ice! Michael Rooker plays the fellow who takes his family on an ice fishing vacation. When they arrive, they encounter a father and son who seem to be scaring the fish away with their newfangled equipment. But everyone soon discovers that a dangerous creature is lurking under the frozen waters. In other words, it’s Grumpy Old Men Meets Jaws!

House of Dark Shadows (1970): Tim Burton’s big-screen Johnny Depp remake has prompted the release of both Dark Shadows movies. Here Barnabas is resurrected, goes on a killing spree and believes a local girl where he’s been unleashed is actually his bride Josette. Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall and Kathryn Leigh Scott star in this Dan Curtis production.

Night of Dark Shadows (1971): Jonathan Frid took a rest while David Selby’s Quentin takes new wife Kate Jackson to Collinwood, only to find Angelique (Lara Parker) attracted to him.

The Tall Man (2012): Jessica Biehl is a widowed nurse in a small Washington state town whose beloved daughter is swiped by a legendary figure known as “The Tall Man,” an individual with a history of stealing little ones away. This intriguing shocker comes from French helmer Pascal Laugier (Martyrs).

The Cabin in the Woods (2012): Advance hype preceded this Joss Whedon production into theaters. Was it a game changer that was going to alter the course of horror outings in the future? We wouldn’t say it achieved that, but it did offer some interesting angles on the genre. Two stories unfold at the same time—one about a group of horny college kids’ trip to a desolate cabin in the woods, and the other—well, we don’t want to give anything away. An ambitious survey on modern horror clichés and expectations, the film features Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford and Sigourney Weaver.  Available on DVD and on a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack.

Barricade (2012): WWE produced this outing, their first without any of their wrestling stars in the cast. Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) plays a psychiatrist who takes his kids to a remote cabin during a blizzard in order to take a break after McCormack’s wife dies. Instead, they encounter terror from unknown forces.

The Hole (2009): The latest from Joe Dante has been on the shelf for a few years, and while it was produced in 3-D (and is not available in that format on DVD or Blu-ray) we’re thrilled that is finally getting a release.  The story has two young brothers and the girl next door discovering a hole that leads to…who knows? Ample shudders, childhood fears realized, and some wild surprises abound.

Intruders (2011): Two stories are told at the same time. In Spain, a young boy is terrified by visions of a monster called Hollowface, and an exorcist is called on to cleanse the boy of his troubles. Meanwhile, in London, construction worker Clive Owen discovers his daughter has similar stories about seeing a creature named Hollowface. What is the connection between the two, and why are they haunted by this ghostly presence? Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) adds style and atmosphere to the proceedings, fashioning a film that mixes elements of gothic horror and Italian giallo. Available in DVD and Blu-ray.

The Pact (2012):  In this first-rate haunted house film, two twentysomething sisters have to tend to family affairs after their oppressive mother dies. One of them returns to the childhood home with her 9-year-old daughter, while the other one disappears. Strange noises, disturbing images and bizarre pictures put the spook on the woman and her child as the mysteries of the house—and her missing sister—are revealed. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Halloween II (1981): The sequel to John Carpenter’s indie sensation takes the original’s star, Jamie Lee Curtis, into the hospital where she again becomes the target of killer Michael Myers. Loads of extras here, too.  Available in DVD and Blu-ray.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): This franchise entry got divisive reactions from ticket purchasers and horror fans, but is now viewed with a new enthusiasm by genre enthusiasts.  There is no Michael Myers here. Instead, the story focuses on a diabolical toymaker and a murderous ancient ritual. All sorts of extras are included. Available in DVD and Blu-ray.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012): Four score and seven years ago, our bearded 16th president fought bloodsuckers. Or at least that’s the premise of this film taken from the popular novel from the folks who gave you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Benjamin Walker is the rail splitter/vampire killer, Mary Elizabeth Winstead his wife Mary, and Rufus Sewell the leader of the undead. Available in DVD, a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack and a DVD/Blu-ray/Blu-ray 3-D combo pack.

The Awakening (2011): In the tradition of The Haunting, The Others and The Devil’s Backbone comes this first-rate ghost tale set in 1922 London, in which Rebecca Hall (Vicky Christina Barcelona), a debunker of paranormal activity, is called to investigated reported appearances by ghosts in a school. Dominic West and Imelda Staunton also star. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

  • Aaron

    The “Halloween II(1981)” and “Halloween III:Season Of The Witch”  DVDs are an improvement on the previous threadbare releases. Shout Factory does an impressive job bringing out neglected or forgotten films,and one film I hope they get to release from Universal is “Nightmares(1983)”,as well as the short-lived TV series “Darkroom”,also from Universal.

    They call it their Scream Factory line,all horror films from the 1980′s so far,though it may get expanded.

  • Bryankr

    I think I more enjoy the horror films of the Black & White era. It might be that today’s flicks tend to lend more to gore than horror, or it might be that the older movies were more likely to use my own imagination to scare the jeebies out if me! I don’t know, but I love the older ones and am still convinced they just don’t make them like they used to. Sorry!

  • Allycatcha

    what about the “Alien” movies?
    13 Ghosts(original)
    The Haunting(original)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PODTFFPVEUXYHXVGNS5G5FWKGI DIRK

    My votes are for THE HEARSE with Trish VanDevere as the woman moving out of the City onto a Farm and is tormented by the said Vehicle and its demonic Driver! Chills, no gore!
    The first HALLOWEEN, suspense and absolutely anemic compared to ALL the later flicks it inspired!!!!!  DEF worth a second (or 50th) look !!!
    PLAY MISTY FOR ME, shocker and plenty of scares for everyone here!!!!  Even an Edgar Allan Poe homage included!  And a Hit Song, too!!
    If you need more: WHATS THE MATTER WITH HELEN? with Debbie Reynolds and Shelly Winters — HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLEN with Anthony Perkins — DAUGHTER OF THE MIND with Ray Milland — THE SCREAMING WOMAN with Olivia deHavilland !  Fun for all !! Enjoy

  • Grizzled Geezer

    Though this is about recent films, don’t overlook “Psycho” on Blu-ray. The transfer is of spectacular quality.

  • Gary Vidmar

    Halloween blu-ray fest:

  • Jarod

    Halloween! The first halloween was great!
    Black Christmas another all time fave.

  • Britt

    Homicidal or The Sniper

  • Jackie

    My favorite scary movies that I saw for the first time in late October when I was a kid was “THE TINGLER” with Donald Pleasance and the original ” House on Haunted Hill” with Vincent Price,My birthday is on Halloween so I was out taking my kid sisters out on that night,Vincent Price was the best. my other favorite was called ” Cat Burgler” I think where Agnes Moorehead plays the part of a mystery writer who is investigating murders in a “Haunted” house? This was a great movie. as I remember.

    • Nils Goering

      The film you’re referring to is the 1958 Allied Artist production of ‘The Bat’  starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead (who plays a mystery writer).  The film is based on the play by real life mystery writer, Mary Roberts Rhineheart.  The hype on the poster declared “When it flies Someone dies”  It’s not really a horror film –  rather it’s a whodunit with a bit of suspense thrown into the proceedings.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/G5PGSAP2WNJQLMOQJJMSFOE2M4 m.j.

     The vampire in “Salem’s Lot” iss truly horrifying.  The full version of this movie is my favorite.

  • Rosie_gibson

    The horror of Dracula

  • Mark

    Storm of the Century–how did Andre Lenoige get to the island? And why are peopleyhere dying horribly? What does he mean when he says “Give me what I want and I’ll go away?” while in handcuffs? Horror, mystery, psychological thriller.

    Jeepers Creepers–is that old guy dumping bodies down a tunnel behind a church? Is the legend of the “Creeper” who hibernates for 23 years before awakening for 23 days true?

    Apollo 18–yes, there’s a reason we never went back to the Moon–tension gradually rises for two astronauts, leading to a choice between their fellow astronauts and themselves for survival.

    The Thing–Why were the Norwegians in the `copter trying to kill the running dog? How’d their Antartic base get totally destroyed? Now it’s happening to the Americans who discovered the why, but who may not be able to stop it from happening to them either.

    All of these are more chills and scares than gore, which I like. Especially SotC. He knows what he’s doing and why, but the townspeople  don’t. What’s especially interesting to me is how they change due to fear.

  • Allycatcha

    was Homicidal the movie about that woman pretending to be a guy or the other way around?