All the death and mayhem only happens on Halloween in the movies…

It’s all just so romanticized in horror movies, isn’t it? In reality, you stand at the door the whole night, staring at the desolate street, hoping that some kids – any kids – will come along for you to scare. And so we turn desperately to any horror movie that mentions Halloween in the description, hoping it will fill the void that’s been warm light to seep into our cold, dark hearts. Let’s see if Ballad in Blood, The Wicked One, or Del Playa did the trick as I add them to the holiday horror page.

BALLAD IN BLOOD (2016)

ballad in blood cover

Ruggero Deodato, director of the infamous Cannibal Holocaust (nope, never saw it, never will), brings us a Halloween horror flick that so isn’t a Halloween flick or a horror flick as far as I’m concerned. The most we get of either is delivered in the opening scene…a staged haunted horror attraction at a party.

ballad in blood intro horror party

Best part for me? The naked hunk in the bathroom soon after.

ballad in blood bathroom

His buddy is in the next room banging a chick.

ballad in blood sex

It’s the morning after a big Halloween bash, and they’re all kind of fuzzy on what went on the night before—even when a dead body drops in hoping to keep the Halloween spirit alive. Fails miserably.

ballad in blood body

Now the trio has to try to remember how the hell she was killed. They tend to the body. They do drugs. They fight.

ballad in blood attack

They go around town asking questions and piecing together all the bad shit they did the night before. They commit murder and laugh about it.

ballad in blood cast laughs

They are three completely unlikable pieces of shit. But damn, I wish the guys would have ditched the bitch and enjoyed some alone time.

ballad in blood shirtless guys

Instead, the pretty white boy is sexually harassed by a gang of pretty white boys.

ballad in blood gays

And finally, there’s the big twist, revealed in a sexually unpleasant flashback, which leads to a downer ending.

ballad in blood knife

What do you want me to say? Just…go watch Cannibal Holocaust?

THE WICKED ONE (2017)

wicked one cover

I didn’t know going into The Wicked One that it took place on Halloween night, so it was a yummy surprise. The dark intro scene drew me in as it was, with crucifixion and a vicious killing.

wicked one crucifixion

Cut to…a mental institution, October 30. Ah, I see what you’re doing there. Yes, The Wicked Ones makes no effort to mask its nods to Halloween – heck, I’d say it encompasses elements of Carpenter’s, Halloween II 1981, and even Zombie’s remakes – but it even gave me Friday the 13th vibes (the ending is particularly Friday the 13th-ish) and ends up feeling overall like its own independent slasher.

The mental institution is a bit more entertaining than Smith’s Grove Sanitarium has ever been. Numerous zany serial killers are held there, including the most fun one of all, this mad masturbator!

wicked one mad masturbator

When the worst psycho of all escapes, the film flashes its biggest strength—the brutal kills. It’s always good to see that a director (Tory Jones in this case) has paid attention to what makes good horror scenes work regardless of budget.

wicked one patient

Forget quiet streets lined with houses and trick or treaters going door to door.

wicked one behind chair

Here we have a group of friends hanging out in the woods on Halloween, sitting around a fire telling stories of “the wicked one” killer, attending a Halloween party/concert in a barn, having sex, and getting slaughtered, of course.

wicked one campfire

wicked one concert

Our killer pretty much carries himself like Rob Zombie’s Michael Myers before he scores a classic Michael Myers Halloween mask…and after mommy ghost gives him a pony in Zombie’s shit show sequel…

wicked one horse

There’s just something about this simple movie that I really connected with. While it has kills with more of the kind of kick you’d expect from modern horror, overall it has the vibe of lesser-known, gritty and dark slashers of the early 80s.

wicked one couple

And I’ll be damned if it didn’t have me just adoring the main redneck couple. There’s conflict because her brother hates her man, but they are so damn cute together, especially when had a conversation about his love for the TV show Supernatural.

wicked one nude

There’s even some good old-fashioned sex (they just don’t make slashers like they used to, so thanks for that, Tory), with some hot man bod and major muff diving. I bet you’re so expecting me to quip that it was the scariest part of the movie, aren’t you? Well, I’m not going to. I’ve grown a thick skin from decades of watching disgusting horror, so I can even post a pic of the deed.

wicked one muff

All hell breaks loose in the final act when the killer stops with the sporadic slaughters and just goes to town on the main bunch of friends. I was so digging the look and feel of The Wicked One. You can tell that it comes from someone who loves the genre and has really encompassed the elements of horror movies that stuck with him into his own film.

DEL PLAYA (2015)

 del playa cover

Even with the plot stemming from a murder on Halloween and the psycho coming back on Halloween several years later to do it all over again, Del Playa is in no way a straightforward horror film. In fact, it is heavily a dark drama – a tragedy that even moves into melodramatic territory at times. In a way, it follows the structure of Rob Zombie’s Halloween; a majority of the film focuses on the white trashy background story, with the brutal slasher sequence compressed into a shorter segment near the end.

del playa main boy

A loner in high school is cruelly bullied by his peers and horribly treated at home.

del playa dad

Things come to an awful head when he decides to show up at the Halloween dance to ask the girl he likes if she’ll dance with him…

del playa dance

Several years later, the girl is suffering from PTSD.

del playa mirror mask

It’s affecting her friendships, her love life, and her education. She’s even writing a college paper about the event, but can’t bring herself to finish it, what with it being Halloween and all. So…her friends pressure her to celebrate Halloween! Her torment is our entertainment, of course.

As her drama plays out, the loner is back in town, wearing a gnarly Jack-o’-lantern mask, and is warming up for the big night with some pretty good old school slasher kills.

del playa carve

The score rox and the lighting is rather dark and shadowy, bringing to mind old 80s VHS horror.

del playa beach bod
He was looking to score a beach bod. It’s his lucky day.

The classic “have sex, you die” setups are make a welcome return as well…as do some hot guy bods…and butt crack if you screen grab and brighten with Photoshop…

del playa guys

My only real issue with the kill scenes is that more than once, the killer goes after a couple and these entitled bitches are just lying there like, “I don’t feel like fighting! Come save me, boyfriend!” as the dude is getting slaughtered.

del playa killer

The highlight of the film is the final chase with the main girl, which is oddly reminiscent of the Independence Day horror flick You Are Not Alone, with the killer chasing her all over town and yet masterfully locating her even when she ducks into a random house.

del playa chase

The scene is so suspenseful, stopped my heart with a kick ass jump scare, and delivers a shocking turn of events. Plus, it offers an interaction between killer and final girl that’s pretty uncommon in your usual slasher, because Del Playa really does rise above that simple label. If you want a movie with a bit more character development in it, definitely check it out.

del playa confrontation

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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