Yes, Halloween is here and it's time to nuke some popcorn, gather ’round the television set and enjoy some creepy creeps and scares.
Every Halloween I try to add to my Top Horror Movies of All-time list, but this year I decided to just focus on 2017 horror movies instead so you'd have an idea of what's out there.
Many of these films are low budget, but the directors did amazing work to still squeeze as much tension out of them as possible.
I didn't number my picks in a best-to-last list format either so without further ado, here's my list.
I'm not a big fan of zombie movies overall, but this smart and witty U.K. entry is one of the best and most original of the post-zombie apocalyptic films I've ever seen.
A great story and cast led by newcomer Sennia Nanua as Melanie, the gift girl, give this film its heart and soul. This is the type of imagination we wished the people of "The Walking Dead" could do more of.
M. Night made a strong comeback with this film (I did enjoy his 2015 flick called The Visit) and James McAvoy gives a tremendous performance as a man with twenty three separate personalities who kidnaps a few girls along the way for some deeply nefarious purpose.
Anthony Perkins' son Osgood directs this atmospheric and timey-wimey thriller starring Emma Roberts and Don Draper's daughter, Kiernan Shipka. By the way, she's grown up now and is really, really good.
The plot involves a Roman Catholic all-girls school closing for a break, but a couple of students are left behind waiting for their parents to pick them up. What could go wrong, right?
The acting and cinematography are so good that we don't mind that there isn't much of a plot to follow. Also Osgood's brother Elvis adds some really nice touches to the music score that keep this movie feeling, dare I say, off-kilter.
This movie which is based on real characters and events is about a deranged serial killing couple that kidnaps and kills together, even when they are having relationship "issues."
One girl does her best to survive. Will she make it?
++ A Dark Song
Irish director Liam Gavin's first film gives us a tragic look at love, loss, and grief (dead son) and possibly redemption as a mother locks herself in a house she's rented for a year with an occultist who will perform a dark ritual that will grant her 'a wish.'
From whom, you might ask?
If they leave the house at any time once the ritual begins, they could be lost forever. It becomes a bit of a slog in the middle of the movie, but the first 40 minutes and the last act make this all worth it.
Only the French can produce an expertly made film that is a disturbing look at how a girl from a family of vegetarians, after being hazed during a bizarre Veterinarian college initiation, gets a taste of meat and well, becomes obsessed with it.
And I'm not talking about Kobe beef either.
++ Get Out
A young black man goes to spend the weekend with his white girlfriend and her rich family out in the suburbs and things get creepy right from the get-go.
I knew Jordan Peele was a talented comedian and writer, but damn. He wrote and directed this movie that pushes all the correct racial buttons while giving us the appropriate chill factor.
It's tremendous. Financial success notwithstanding, "Get Out" plays like a stand-alone 'Black Mirror' episode and is all the better for it.
(Rent on Amazon or wait for HBO 11/4 )
Trey Edward Shults creates a paranoid's claustrophobic nightmare with his second film. This minimalist movie takes advantage of its incredible set designs and takes place after some horrendous plague destroys civilization.
Joel Edgerton tries to keep his family safe, by all means possible since the virus is still active and no one seems to be entirely immune.
Fear, anxiety and a teenager's dream fuel the tension throughout.
When I saw the trailer for this movie I had no interest in seeing it. But, in the end, the cast was just too good for me to pass on.
Here's a tip. As characters, the international minds of science that populate the expedition are absolutely the dumbest scientists of all time in any science fiction/horror movie -ever- bar none.
The decisions they make out in space are, to be kind - questionable. If you forgive that, you'll have a good time.
Oh, and I did figure out the ending.
(Streaming on Starz)
I must admit that I couldn't get to my local theater to view the newest King adaption on Pennywise in time with work and all and it pains me, but since so many of my friends who saw it loved it, I put it on the list.
"It" is one of my favorite Stephen King novels not only because it's scary but because King has such a great way with writing for adolescents.
(Not available to stream at this moment)
If you're into a more satirical approach to horror, this movie has it in bunches.
It's about a fetus that talks to mommy from the womb and instructs her to carry out vicious murders, whether you've wronged her or not. Sounds silly I know, but the writer, director, and star Alice Lowe makes a film you will react to.
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw writes, "She plays Ruth, a heavily pregnant woman with an intense and rational awareness that, despite the sentimental propaganda, pregnancy is a grueling, painful and violent business, made even more traumatic by the condescending way women in her situation are habitually treated."
++ Lake Bodom
This movie is based on an actual case of three teenagers being brutally murdered while one survived and conveniently had no memory of the incident in Finland back in 1960.
It's an 80's type of slasher movie but is expertly crafted. While it doesn't lay new groundwork for the genre, it still works once the twists and turns begin.
If you've seen "The Loved Ones," you know Australian director Sean Byrne is one twisted dude.
Watching the film it was hard to see how all the pieces fit together for a while, but they do. Here's the description in Netflix, "A struggling painter moves his family into a house with a horrific past and soon finds himself being artistically inspired by demonic forces."
There's tons of frontal nudity in this film, but most of it is by lead actor Ethan Embry, who's a freewheeling painter being possessed to paint a horrifying portrait of children suffering at the hands of Satan. Will he turn on his family?
And D-Candy boasts the coolest rock daughter of all time, who has to deal with an overweight madman played by the always spooky Pruitt Taylor Vince.
Confused? You won't be. It works.
The always wonderful Teresa Palmer goes on a sort of walkabout trip with her camera from Australia, ends up in Germany and meets a guy, a teacher I might add who seems really nice.
After a great date, she wakes up to find that he's imprisoned her, but still treats her like she's his girlfriend. Sort of.
Some bonus selections:
Here's another Aussie crime/horror movie that's very cool. While not an original premise, first-time director Damien Power does know what he's doing and after about thirty minutes of set-up, the thrills begin to take hold.
After this film, I do believe you will either think twice about or take precautions when camping.
(It's not streaming cheaply yet)
This is not so much a horror movie as it is, at least for the most part, a well filmed and acted thriller that delves into the lives and pressures of being young teenagers, pre-Columbine.
THR writes, "Super Dark Times is set two full decades ago, reminding us that teens were perfectly capable of screwing themselves up — and each other — before the internet, cellphones and social media came along to assist them in such activities."
(You can rent it from most of the services)
The always great Ted Levine stars as Samantha Isler's grandfather in this low budget thriller that is much better than it should be.
The move is set in 1977 but bounces back and forth between a dark tragedy that involved Levine, a policeman, and his boss thirty years before it. After a present-day accident takes her older brother, Isler is approached by three gypsies who say they can bring her brother back - at a cost.
Anne Hathaway, who gets kicked out of her boyfriend's apartment in New York for being a blackout drunk, goes back home to regroup and realizes after a drunken binge, she can do something fantastic. It's more of a Japanese Kaiju film rather than a true horror movie, but I included it anyway.
It starts off as more of a horror comedy but then turns into a nasty character study during the final third of the film.
It's directed by the man that gave us the imaginative Timecrimes, Nacho Vigalondo so you know it's going to be creative.
++ I also wanted to give a shout out to one of my best friends, John Morvay.
A fellow musician from New York who is now living in Las Vegas, he wrote a horror graphic novel that was put to animation a few years back and it just started running on Amazon. It's called Bible Black.
Nevermore Horror gave it a four-star rating.
Have a terrific Halloween!