A holiday horror triple feature just in time for Halloween!

That’s the headline you get when Easter falls on April Fools’ Day and I don’t have any new killer bunny movies to blog about (see the holiday horror page for all the ones I’ve done so far), but I do have 3 Halloween flicks to cover. Let’s get right to it.

KARPENTER (2017)

This short “full-length” Halloween film runs 47 minutes long when you subtract the 13 minutes of credits and outtakes tacked on at the end.

As far as Halloween horror movie plots go, Karpenter sticks with the tried and true: a killer escapes an insane asylum and skulks around a town on October 31st, eventually slaughtering a bunch of kids at a party.

There’s some good 80s style soundtrack music, plenty of axe killings, loads of Halloween spirit, and a killer all dolled up for the holiday.

It’s also as basic as you’re going to get for this subgenre with nothing new or frightening to blow you away…aside from a farcical crap humor scene that feels ridiculously out of place.

And finally, you won’t find yourself connecting with any characters here, so there’s no standout protagonist POV to carry you through the film.

When everything is whittled down to one girl, you just have to accept that she’s the final girl because she’s the last one standing.

LOST CREEK (2016)

I’ve been anticipating this one since seeing the trailer, which makes it look like a charming, festive, and creepy throwback to 1980s PG Halloween movies that focused on kids in a scary predicament in a small town, but with an underlying heartfelt message.

When it at last showed up on Amazon streaming, I was bummed by the dismal reviews populating the page.

Even so, I went for it. To my horror, I got…a charming, festive, and creepy throwback to 1980s PG Halloween movies that focused on kids in a scary predicament in a small town, but with an underlying heartfelt message. Yeah, to my happy horror, I got exactly what I’d wanted.

I won’t even go into the specifics of the bashing that Lost Creek receives online. Personally, based on the amount of indies that I still appreciate despite their…um…let’s call them budgetary restraints, I say this is one seriously well-polished production. It’s well-written, well-paced, beautifully shot, atmospheric, nails the holiday spirit, and has a great balance of creepy moments, suspense, emotional impact, and light humor. Plus, it perfectly captures the world through a child’s eyes.

A young boy moves to a new town with his single mother and has only one buddy in school. His loneliness finds him stealing away to a creek in the woods on a regular basis. There he meets and befriends a young girl. But it’s the only place she’ll spend any time with him, because she refuses to cross the creek to join him on any kind of excursions.

Meanwhile, he is having terrifying dreams of a monster in the woods. Beginning with the disappearance of his pumpkin from his front steps, he starts to see evidence that the monster is actually real and roaming his neighborhood.

As the threat mounts, he teams up with his school buddy and the girl from the creek to face off against the monster and its ghoulish minions on Halloween night.

Rather than hamming it up like Hollywood child actors often do in an attempt to “steal the show,” the three main kids here are refreshingly genuine in their innocence, which really allows Lost Creek to feel like a day spent inside a child’s imagination.

As a result, the audience gets to live vicariously through them as they come up against something fantastical and frightening on their journey towards a touching life lesson.

10/31 (2017)

10/31 is the most crucial inclusion in this blog for two reasons. First, it was a blind buy! Blind buys aren’t something I do often these days, but I knew I was in good hands this time, which is my second reason for blind buying this one. It comes from the guys who brought us Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories and The Barn, and segments are directed by the likes of Brett DeJager (Bonejangles), John William Holt (The Dooms Chapel Horror), Hunter Johnson (2 Jennifer), and Justin M. Seaman (The Barn). Plus, I love anthologies, Halloween horror, and throwback flicks loaded with a synth-heavy, 80s-style score, so those are a whole bunch of bonuses.

Things kick off with a very simple and basic wraparound. Trick or treaters sit down in front of the TV to watch some horror movies hosted by Malvolia: The Queen of Screams.

Hey, I get that busty gothic mistresses of the macabre are a tradition, but at this point, if I were going for the horror hosting thing, I might try a different angle. Maybe a big burly bear dude taking jabs at his masculinity while squeezed into ridiculously tight and skimpy horror costumes that can barely restrain his fat, hairy tits and ass.

All 5 stories here perfectly immerse you in the Halloween spirit, and even if some of them are a little more abstract and stray a bit in their narrative, they all deliver on the good old popcorn movie horror by the end. Here’s a brief breakdown of each:

1st story – This one totally has a classic Tales from the Darkside vibe.

When aspiring filmmakers come to an old B&B to shoot a commercial for the owner on Halloween night, one guy is terrorized by an old hag that look likes like she stepped off the set of Creepshow.

This story touches upon the sleep paralysis phenomenon like so many horror flicks are doing these days (especially anthologies), yet I’m hooked every time. However, even with 10/31 being a fun midnight movie, the final cheap scare here is a total groaner! I love it.

2nd story – Unsatisfied with the scares being offered at the local theater on Halloween night, a couple decides to take a tour of a murder house. When they come across a creepy scarecrow…we get something way more original and refreshing than the usual killer scarecrow plot!

3rd story – It’s like 1979 all over again when a young woman goes to her job at the roller rink on Halloween night, taking her little brother with her, all dressed in his costume and unwilling to break character. This one feels like it’s going nowhere beyond an excessive roller skating montage for quite a while, but eventually, the Halloween night blood starts to flow…

4th story – Holiday signals really get crossed in this rather confusing tale when a snowstorm hits on Halloween night. I did my best to tune out the extraneous stuff and focus on the macabre part with the creepy trick or treaters…

5th story – An escaped mental patient, a Halloween party, a Ouija board, a witchy demon chick, a masked killer, a pagan ritual, a cornfield…

it might be unclear what the hell is going on in this final tale, but it sure is an effective way to ensure a high body count as this Halloween horror anthology comes to an end.

You can purchase the DVD and soundtrack CD of 10/31 on the same site that sells The Barn. I’ll just note that while a lot of bells and whistles went into producing the materials for that film’s physical releases, a much more modest approach is taken with this release. It’s understandable, and I’m just appreciative that this indie team is still making the effort to release physical media for collectors. The DVD and CD are both real pressings, not recordable media, but they are as bare-bones as you can get. The DVD “menu” is simply PLAY. And the CD does not come in a jewel case—just a clear plastic sleeve with a printed artwork insert.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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