October 18, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year, or why I love Halloween

There are certain times of the year that tickle my heart as a filmmaker and a deep lover of movies.  I love February, when all of the classic Oscar-winning films suddenly get new life on TV.  I love December, when your favorite holiday movies return while the studios generally offer the highest qualify films they've made all year.  I love May, when the biggest, loudest popcorn movies of the summer come roaring into the multiplexes.

But my dirty little secret is that I love the month of October most of all.

I love scary movies.  And these 31 days are the days that they all rise like zombies, shambling across the quiet countryside to frighten a new generation.  These old horror films are like old friends:

The tightly coiled maniacal genius of a medical student who can Re-Animate the dead.

The terrible thing Creeping inside the crate beneath the university staircase.

The little boy in the clown costume with the butcher knife on Halloween night.

The puzzle box that Raises a little Hell every time someone is fiendish enough to try to solve it.

The Thing inside that snow dog running across the Anarctic.

I could talk about Val Lewton and William Castle.  I could talk about Vincent Price and Peter Cushing.  I could talk about Universal and Hammer and Dimension and Artisan and Lions Gate.

I could talk about the newbies, like the people who can't help but video tape the things that go bump in the night, or all the poor souls who've forced to live or die and make their choice.

In many ways, I think a good horror film is the highest order of filmmaking.  Think of the skill it takes to craft a movie that can terrify and amuse, that can horrify but still attract repeat viewings, that can attract the best talent, that can push the boundaries of special effects.

Psycho
Jaws
Alien
The Silence of the Lambs
Cape Fear

I could go on and on and on.

But I won't.

I'll just ask you to turn on the TV or go to the theater, hold on to your sweetheart, and enjoy the rush of getting the daylights scared out of you for the next two weeks.