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Halloween Essentials 2009
Happy Infiniween!

Image by Caustic

By: Infini Staff & Citizens

There's no better time to indulge in hours upon hours of horror films, and the staff and citizens of Infini-Tropolis would like to help out in making the toughest of decisions: which ones to watch! Our personal "Top 10 Halloween Essentials" lists for 2009 are below. Keep in mind, there will be some duplicates, and these aren't our personal favorite top-10 horror films of all time. It's just a list of 10 films that each of us felt would fill out the perfect Halloween day (or week!) marathon.

Click the images on the right to jump to a specific list!

KamuiX's Essentials

While everyone else below has done a traditional top 10 list of scattered films from all facets of the horror genre, I decided to do a theme this year, and I chose one that's near and dear to my heart: Gothic Horror. What says Halloween better than shadowy mansions, cobweb-covered castles, and fog-choked cemeteries? I'm intentionally leaving out any films made before 1950, as pretty much every genre film from that period falls under Gothic out of necessity, due to small budgets and the amazing settings they provided for little cost; and if I included them, I'd have had an even harder time narrowing this down to ten. You may also notice a few glaring omissions, but I wanted to do equal parts heavy-hitters and recommendations, and also wanted to avoid including any films I included last year (I still love you, Blind Dead!), which you can check out here.

10. Nightmare Castle (1965)
"A mad, sadistic scientist on the loose!"

I kick off the festivities with a film starring a woman you’ll be seeing frequently in this top 10: Barbara Steele. No other female in horror comes close to this Gothic Goddess’s accomplishments in the genre, and Nightmare Castle sees Ms. Steele at her devious best, playing dual roles (not that that’s something new for her), one of which is out for delicious revenge. Sure, the science aspect of the film is ridiculous and woefully underdeveloped, but traipsing through these shadowy halls more than makes up for it, as does the chaotic ending which is one of most over-the-top you’ll find in this area of horror.

09. The Iron Rose (1973)
"The Poetry of death."

Known by most for his mastery of the erotic vampire film, Jean Rollin has much more to offer than that, occasionally branching out into other realms. In fact, I personally find some of those films more interesting than his vampire fare, and The Iron Rose may very well be my favorite film Rollin ever directed. Only one of two films on my list that takes place in a modern setting, a couple gets lost in a cemetery and their sanity begins to wane. It’s slow, moody and ethereal, and it’s an experience like nothing else I’ve ever seen. The atmosphere is suffocating and dense, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a dreary, dreamy October night.

08. The Curse of the Crying Woman (1963)
"A stately, breathtaking excursion in bone-chilling fear!"

Thanks to directors like Mario Bava, Italy is generally crowned the king of non-English gothic cinema by many, but Mexico (and Spain as well) is arguably equal in its genre contributions. Just like the early days of American cinema relied on Gothic settings to create mood when budgets were low, so did Mexico in the 50s and 60s, and Rafael Baledón’s The Curse of the Crying Woman is among the finest examples you’ll find. Based on the Mexican legend of La Llorona, I can’t imagine there’s a better screen adaptation of the myth than this, which features wonderful scenery, ancient curses, and devious witchcraft.

07. The Diabolical Dr. Z (1964)
"Meet the doctor's fiendish creation: Miss Death!"

Say what you will about Jess Franco, but in the 60s he not only had on his trademark work boots, but he also showed a bit of discretion in regards to what work he actually took on. The Diabolical Dr. Z is one of, if not the best film he ever directed, a tale of mad doctors and revenge that’s anchored by Miss Muerte, an arachnid-esque seductress equipped with poisonous fingernails. It’s a blast from beginning to end, and fans of Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (in other words, everyone) will find much to enjoy.

06. The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
"Betrayal cuts both ways!"

A gothic horror list wouldn’t be complete without a contribution from Roger Corman’s Poe period, and The Pit and the Pendulum is among the finest he helmed. It’s an amazing adaptation of the story, filled with thrills and chills throughout. Seeing two legends, Vincent Price and Barbara Steele, together for the only time makes it essential viewing, as does the incredible climax that you’ll never forget.

05. The Vampire Doll (1970)
"What is the deadly secret of the Vampire Doll?"

So you thought there was no way you’d see a Japanese film on a gothic horror list, didn’t you? Well, even the land of the rising sun was bitten by the Hammer horror bug in the late 60s, resulting in Toho producing a trilogy of romanticized vampire films that felt more like something from American International than the house that made Godzilla. Surprisingly, it worked. I don’t know if it’s the bizarre feel of the film that looks and sounds nothing like Japanese cinema from the same period or the amazing look of the freshly-turned vampire Yuko, but The Vampire Doll offers up an eerily unique experience that’s truly one of a kind.

04. Mill of the Stone Women (1960)
"See a beautiful girl changed into a petrified monster before your very eyes!"

A near-flawless mix of Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (oddly enough made the same year, in the same country) and House of Wax (or Mystery of the Wax Museum, take your pick), Mill of the Stone Women may be France’s finest hour in the realm of gothic horror next to the aforementioned EWAF. Unlike that film though, Mill is directed by an Italian director, Giorgio Ferroni, giving it a distinctly different feel. As far as I’m concerned, this film may very well have been just as influential as Bava’s Black Sunday (again made the same year; brilliance must have been in the air) if it had reached a wider audience upon release. Watch out for the fantastic acid-trip sequence, one of the creepiest scenes in any film on this list.

03. Paranoiac (1963)
"A harrowing excursion into terror that takes you deep into the twisted mind of the PARANOIAC!"

The one studio synonymous with gothic horror is without question Hammer, and you may be surprised I didn’t include one of their more noteworthy Dracula or Frankenstein films, but as I said at the start, I wanted to toss in a few films solely for recommendation purposes, and this is one of those films; I figure you’ve all already seen the classics, so why not experience something you may have missed out on? Paranoiac has all the hallmarks of a good Hammer production: it’s directed by Freddie Francis (who’s every bit as good as Terence Fisher), written by Jimmy Sangster, and stars Oliver Reed who turns in a killer performance as a psychotic heir to a wealthy family estate. It mixes melodrama with that trademark Hammer horror, and it’s great to see that Hammer can easily do a film that’s just as horrific whether it has monsters or not.

02. Night of the Werewolf (1981)
"The werewolf vs. the blood countess!"

A list of gothic horror flicks would be an epic fail without some Paul Naschy! The Spanish horror king is best known for his role of nobleman by day, werewolf by night Waldemar Daninsky. Naschy got in touch with his feral side in eleven films based on the character, and while it’s up for debate which is the cream of the crop, Night of the Werewolf in my humble opinion is at least the most refined and complete, if not the best of the series. Directed by Naschy himself (under his birth name Jacinto Molina), the film takes all of the elements that worked from the previous entries and combines them, adding the best special effects the character ever enjoyed and incredible cinematography; what we get is a sexually-charged gothic masterpiece in which Daninsky goes head-to-head with Elizabeth Bathory. Yep, Naschy as usual casts himself against the hottest of chicks. If nothing else, the man knew how to get the most of his time on set.

01. Black Sunday (1960)
"The undead demons of hell terrorize the world in an orgy of stark horror!"

Did you really think the number one spot would go to anything else? The epitome of gothic horror, there is not one film that has graced the screen before or since its release that comes close to the oppressive, insidious atmosphere Mario Bava manages to achieve in Black Sunday. Not only did the film put Bava on the map, it did the same for Barbara Steele, Italian horror in general, and fog machine makers everywhere. If you only have time for one horror flick this Halloween, make it Black Sunday; you really don’t want to make Princess Asa mad, do you?

Nakadai's Essentials

10. Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)
"Who are these unholy savages who hunt out their victims by sound alone?"

The aesthetics here are absolutely brilliant! Mummified Templar Knights bounding about the countryside on undead steeds, you know…. killing and stuff. The things zombies must do for baby Jesus, I tell ya…

09. Alucarda (1978)
"They gave their souls to Hell...but the Devil wanted MORE!"

I hope you like shrieking! Satanism, demonic possession, nuns and vampirism all in one! I think there are some boobies too…in fact I know there is. Who’s got your back this Halloween, eh?

08. Martin (1977)
"He could be the boy next door..."

Oh poor Martin, EMO before there was My Chemical Romance. If you’re looking for something different, depressing, and well…awesome this Halloween, good ole Romero’s got you covered.

07. Night of the Creeps (1986)
"The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is... they're dead."

Finally this Halloween Night of the Creeps can boast not only a legitimate region 1 DVD release but a Blu-Ray as well...I think I just made a mess. Needless to say we can all throw away those shitty eBay bootlegs away now.

06. Maniac (1980)
"I warned you not to go out tonight."

If you like your Halloweens filthy this film is a must. I can’t seem to sit through it without needing a shower and taking a long hard look in the mirror. This will leave you groping for the Louisville Slugger before facing the night's trick or treaters.

05. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
"The night no one comes home."

Fuck you. That’s right, I said it. I love this film, and don’t give a rats ass about the ill-fated decision to include it in a franchise which by that point would never support a Myers-less sequel regardless of Carpenter's original intentions. And that’s all I have to say about that.

04. The Beyond (1981)
"...and from the day the gates of hell are opened, the dead will walk the earth."

Fulci Lives! I’ve made no secret of my love for the Godfather of Gore. But Gore aside what makes this a great Halloween watch? Well the first thing that comes to mind is the soundtrack. Fabio Frizzi once again teams up with Fulci to create another ambient masterpiece. Okay, masterpiece might be a bit of a stretch but it really does bring the film to another level.

03. Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
"The body count continues..."

I don’t let a Halloween season pass without watching some Friday the 13th, as it’s my earliest Halloween tradition aside from dressing up and begging for candy. Part 2 just happens to be my favorite of the series. I love me some hillbilly elephant Voorhees, and by love I mean I would probably have his babies.

02. Suspiria (1977)
"The only thing more terrifying than the last five minutes of this film are the first 90!"

Even if you’ll be too busy this Halloween to actually sit through an entire film, Suspira works as the perfect Halloween backdrop. Just loop it in the dvd player and you’ve instantly trumped the best of K-Marts flimsy rubber spiders, cotton webbing or plastic pumpkin lights; you’ll still need to supply the mini snickers and peanut butter cups however.

01. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
"Who will survive and what will be left of them?"

Yes I realize I chose this last year and for some this might be considered cheating, but frankly I just can’t see a Halloween season pass without it. It’s good to be the boss.

Mr. Bishop's Essentials

10. Boardinghouse (1982)
"Where the rent won't kill you, but somthing else will!"

Here is my obligatory z/shit film pick. With the right frame of mind (preferably about a case of beer and mixers) and a group of like minded friends, this is one of the greatest shit movies of all time.

09. Cigarette Burns (2005)
"Film is magic."

The only thing John Carpenter has done that is worth a shit in the last.....FOREVER. Great episode of Masters of Horror and a fine short film.

08. Black Sabbath (1963)
"The most gruesome day in the calendar!"

Bava's anthology showcases some of his finest cinematography and scares.

07. Castle Freak (1995)
"Hideous... hungry... and loose!"

This often overlooked Stuart Gordon flick is a great gothic shocker that is one of the really good Full Moon productions. It doesn't hurt to have Jeffrey Combs either...

06. Horror of Dracula (1958)
"Who will be his bride tonight?"

An absolute classic of Hammer horror. A must see.

05. The Abandoned (2006)
"Death never runs out of time."

I know, I keep recommending this all the time but I really like this one. It isn't perfect, but the atmosphere is great. Good ghost story for a late night.

04. Kuroneko (1968)
"The cat's return."

THE Infini-pick. It doesn't get jerked off around here without a reason. Stark Black and White photography mixed with thick surreal atmosphere makes for one of the best Samurai ghost stories.

03. The Last Broadcast (1998)
"What actually happened that night in the woods?"

With all this talk of Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, I am more inclined to turn to this indie gem that gets little to no press. It isn't flashy, but it is a well made ominous homegrown shocker.

02. Trick 'r Treat (2008)
"Poison, Drowning, Claw, or Knife. So many ways to take a life."

My Halloween recommendation for '09. Fun ghouls and ghosts movie that will send you back to your childhood.

01. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
"The idyllic summer's day that became a nightmare of fear and blood."

THE greatest horror film of all time.

Ferg's Essentials

10. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
"Beware the moon."

Truly great Werewolf movies are something to be celebrated. So why not spend Halloween with one of the greatest Lycanthrope movies ever made, not to mention one of my favorite horror movies ever!

09. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)
"Humans...the other white meat."

Some might say it's a peculiar choice for Halloween; to which I reply, no fucking way. Troma's best movie in 20 years is the perfect topping to a booze-fueled night of Halloween viewing. Hilarious, disgusting and horrifically violent, Poultrygeist deserves a spot on your Halloween movie playlist.

08. Psycho (1960)
"A new, and altogether different, screen excitement!"

I first saw this movie at the tender age of 19...okay, so I caught it a little late, but on my first (and repeated Halloween viewings) it terrified me. Anthony Perkins' performance is so eerily perfect, I guarantee if you watch this movie alone on October 31st, you'll sleep with the light on.

07. Evil Dead II (1987)
"Dead by dawn!"

Got your costume? Got your beer? Got your copy of Evil Dead II? No? What the fuck are you waiting for?! To view the birth of the horror comedy as we know it, look no further. If you're planning a movie, then a night of partying, then I strongly recommend putting on Evil Dead II. "I'll swallow your soul!"

06. Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
"Tokyo is burning."

A newer entry into my own personal annual Halloween viewing timetable, Tokyo Gore Police is all the things you never thought you'd see in a movie. From bizarre sexually charged scenes, to wallops of sensational gore, this movie really has it all...if you're looking for a sick and twisted Halloween experience, that is.

05. Halloween (1978)
"The night HE came home!"

Hey, you knew this was going to be on here somewhere...what's left to say about Carpenter's classic that hasn't been said before? Not much, so I'll just say that if you haven't seen this movie, then get off your ass and buy one of the thousand editions readily available on DVD & Blu-Ray! You won't regret it (or sleep afterward).

04. Trick 'r Treat (2008)
"If you don't follow the rules tonight, you won't live to see tomorrow."

Another new edition for me; Michael Dougherty's uber-badass Halloween night-set movie. Told within 4 interwoven tales, Trick 'r Treat has a lot packed into the tightly paced 90 minutes. From serial killers to hairy encounters with Creatures of the Night, Trick 'r Treat is a blast through and through. Also, the seriously hot Anna Paquin stars...whats not to like?

03. Scream (1996)
"Don't answer the phone. Don't open the door. Don't try to escape."

Now, before you flip out, let me say this; Scream isn't the piece of shit people make it out to be! It's funny, smart and packs enough blood and scares for any Halloween party this year. Hell, the first time I saw Scream was at a Halloween party, dressed as Michael Myers...whose referenced in the movie, along with a billion other horror movies! It packs a pretty wicked ending too, so give it a spin!

02. From Beyond (1986)
"Humans are such easy prey."

Stuart Gordon brought the fucking house down with this movie. Before this, Re-Animator was my favorite Gordon movie along with my favorite Lovecraft adaptation, but this changed my mind completely. Oozing with blood and sex, From Beyond is a near perfect Halloween feature. It's also got the seriously badass double teaming of Jeffrey Combs and Ken Foree!!!

01. Night of the Creeps (1986)
"They don't bother to knock."

It comes out for the first time on DVD and Blu-Ray this Halloween. So this is the perfect time to check out one of the horror genre's most underrated films ever. Tom Atkins tears up the screen as a balls out detective, with so many quotable one-liners it'll have you grabbing for a pen and paper! Night of the Creeps really is a genuine gem. Great gore EFX, some awesomely creepy scenes, great direction from Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad) and a sprinkling of the right amount of cheese makes Night of the Creeps the best recommendation I could give to anyone this Halloween! "It's Miller Time!"

Please feel free to post your own Halloween Essentials lists here, in our forums!

KamuiX's Essentials
Nakadai's Essentials
Mr. Bishop's Essentials
Ferg's Essentials

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