I’m already on a mad hunt for Halloween horror flicks I hadn’t yet seen to add to the complete Halloween horror page, because sometimes they’re really hard to track down. For instance, with this trio I had to buy two on used DVD and rent the other one on Prime. Let’s see how much Halloween spirit they delivered.
THE FANGLYS (2004)
Although it pains me to give Texas props for anything, I have to give this low budget film made in Texas major props. Wannabe indie directors should look to films like this for an example of how to do it as right as you possibly can on a low budget. This is a movie that gets to the point, delivers the horror and Halloween atmosphere, keeps the pace going without any excessive, extraneous scenes of dialogue, and demonstrates a director actually planning out setup shots rather than just sticking actors in front of a camera.
Notably, The Fanglys gives me the warm and fuzzy feels because it’s a reminder of the direct-to-DVD days of the early 2000s. I miss movies like this from that era.
The opener sets the Halloween tone with a scary voice-over reciting a creepy limerick, as well as a Wolfman Jack vocal clone DJ dude hyping the spirit of the season while we are treated to festive shots of a town all ready for the holiday.
And of course there’s a first kill scene. A couple driving on a deserted road stops when they hear something scraping along their pickup truck. This scene just teases us with a glimpse of a witch’s hands and a warped witch POV.
Then we meet our main guy, who is totally preparing for Halloween night and planning a trip to a cemetery with his friends. I felt so noticed when he jokes on the phone about a friend’s taste in mail-order horror sequels. Yay!
There are plenty of classic cheap scares to get us in the mood, as well as a heavy metal strip tease dance in a second witch attack before our main group arrives at the cemetery. Then we learn the legend of the killer witch, known as the Fang Lady, and her intellectually disabled son, who skins and eats her victims. This is accompanied by some nasty visuals of him actually doing it.
The hillbilly son also keeps some sort of creature in a cage, but we only ever see that from the POV inside the cage. That might perhaps be the biggest letdown. The second letdown is that the witch herself is not as effective as she could be. The majority of her presence is simply her sitting in a chair and barking orders to her son. She kind of sounds like Norman Bates’ mother.
The hillbilly son is the horror star. He gives a great, icky performance as he runs around the woods in blue lighting and fog machine mist killing and collecting the cast to bring back to his and the witch’s isolated house in the forest. It’s during the final battle that the filmmaker does something I was kind of waiting for all along considering this film was made in the redneck of the woods—tosses in a derogatory slur. The shocker? It’s one of the main characters calling the hillbilly son a “tard”.
Interesting to note is that the deleted scenes on the DVD virtually all contain some sort of fart or shit humor. It was definitely a smart move to cut these scenes from the film, because they would have felt ridiculously out of place and cheapened the serious tone of the film.
DEATH ON DEMAND (2008)
This camera POV supernatural slasher starts on Thanksgiving and ends on Halloween! The first scene shows a man carving up his whole family on Thanksgiving instead of the turkey, and then 20 years later a reality web show contest takes place in that house on Halloween.
Essentially, this is a low budget indie take on the Halloween Resurrection concept, complete with inserts of a group of kids at a Halloween party reacting as they watch it. This would be a good time for me to reveal that I don’t hate Halloween Resurrection. I don’t hate it at all. I actually think it’s a blast.
I also thought Death On Demand was kind of fun, too, in a post-Scream era low budget slasher way.
For the setup, pretty people prepare to go on the show while the guys behind the scenes plot their production. We get the usual adolescent behavior meant to appeal mostly to straight male viewers—tits, sex, lipstick lesbians, fat jokes, guys farting. You know, the stuff that appeals to the people running this world and trying to control the moral fiber of the masses. And we wonder why we’re in such a mess.
The show starts, the kids, all in Halloween costumes, use a Ouija board to summon the dead murderer, they all go off to have sex, and pretty soon the murderer is back and hacking them up—no mask, just a psychotic looking dude.
The rundown house is a classic setting and works well here with the help of traditional horror lighting, plus, the kills are nice and gory and rely solely on practical effects. Awesome.
The kills start piling up in the final act, and we are whittled down to a final girl (yay!) that holds her own.
It’s definitely comfort food for fans of simple slashers from the 2000s, plus it takes place on Halloween, so I had a good time with it. The only bizarre aspect is that the killer’s backstory features this sudden, out of left field reveal about him snapping and killing his family because of the Abominable Snowman. Huh?
IN SEARCH OF LOVECRAFT (2008)
This curious combination of subgenres mixes Lovecraft with found footage and Halloween horror, resulting in a film that feels more like something from the late 90s than 2008.
All the Halloween aspects are focused on the first scene…and the song during the closing credits. A reporter is on the street for Halloween, interviewing people dressed in costume for a Halloween story about HP Lovecraft. It sets us up nicely for the holiday. Unfortunately, after that the only other real indulgence in the holiday is during the end credits, which roll to the sounds of a rockin’ track called “Halloween in Hollywood”.
As for our reporter, she and her crew, including a hot cameraman and an assistant who dresses like a Catholic schoolgirl, expand their research into Lovecraft. They talk to a college professor, join forces with an expert on the occult, and eventually add a practicing witch to their entourage.
The film is way too long at 97 minutes, so much of the movie is uninspired exposition about them trying to determine if there’s a cult that is trying to bring the creatures of Lovecraft’s writing into the real world. In an odd twist to the found footage concept, the lost film they discover that holds some of the answers is worn out black and white footage from a mid-1900s camera!
It’s not until there are only about 30 minutes left that the film finally settles down and finds its groove, which should have happened much sooner. The team stays in a house where a cult was believed to perform their rituals. They then begin to encounter cheesy, CGI, otherworldly creatures, which leads to my favorite part—the survivors entering a pentagram to fend off the various supernatural threats crawling their way. It’s cheap looking, but it’s still a fun finale shrouded in loads of fog machine mist.