Halloween might be a holiday for the kids, but that's no reason to deprive your adult-self of all the horror the holiday offers. Whether you're sitting at home and just answering the door to children in their spooky best or hosting a macabre get-together with pals, film companies like Anchor Bay and Shout! Factory have recently released plenty of titles of terror to keep any all-night All Hollow's Eve well-stocked on screams.
First off is the obvious pick, the 35th anniversary edition of John Carpenter's seminal Halloween (Anchor Bay Entertainment). Introducing the bogeyman Michael Myers as he slashes his way through a bevy of late '70s scream queens like Jamie Lee Curtis and P.J. Soles, this Blu-ray is more pristine than ever in an all-new HD transfer supervised and approved by cinematographer Dean Cundey. If you haven't seen this one before — or are ready to introduce a new generation to it — this is definitely the version that best presents this classic, in all of its dark-shadowed glory.
Shout! Factory, with the introduction of their Scream! Factory sub-label, has been the number one go-to for horror fans over the past couple of years with a constant stream of releases that even the most hardcore fright fan was sure would never see the light of day. Not to mention delivered in a package handled with such care and concern for the viewing experience.
Perhaps the label's greatest achievement this season is the deluxe Blu-ray triple-feature of the famed Amityville flicks. Released in 1979, The Amityville Horror recounts the terrifying true(?) tale of the Lutzes and their month-long ordeal of demonic warfare within the confines of the now-iconic house with Dutch windows.
The sleazy follow-up Amityville II: The Possession is a dirty little prequel that removes all of the class and subtlety of the original and presents itself as a nasty little post-grindhouse feature. The set is rounded out with the goofy Amityville 3D, starring Tony Roberts as a paranormal debunker and a pre-Full House Lori Loughlin as his daughter who tempts the dark side. Filled with preposterously gooey special effects — finally on home video in its original 3D incarnation — it's a dumb but fun good time.
The hits keep on coming from the Factory with the Blu-ray collector's edition of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead. A disappointment upon release in 1985 due to having its screenplay and budget slashed, in retrospect it's a solid little shocker that shows just how much the current TV hit The Walking Dead rips it off weekly.
Finally, Shout! Factory, God bless it, has also released the two little-known Canadian-lensed sequels to David Cronenberg's cult gem Scanners. Both Scanners II: The New Order and Scanners III: The Takeover, a double-feature Blu-ray, are cheap and gaudy outings, but they're filled with all of the telekinetic head explosions that fans of the original couldn't get enough of. Almost too much.
For the more technically inclined, I highly recommend the amazing six-hour documentary Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (1428 Films). And when they say complete, they truly mean it. No machete is left unturned as every single aspect of every single Jason Voorhees camping trip is examined, analyzed and reviewed. Featuring just about everyone involved with the making of each film, this is truly a horror geek's ultimate nightmare come true and, even at six-plus hours, it doesn't feel like it. As a matter of fact, you'll just end up wanting more.
Say you don't have time to watch any of these monster movies because you've waited until the last minute to decorate the front yard or build a haunted house in the garage. Then there's only one film to watch on this haunted holiday: Halloween Home Haunts.
A lo-fi documentary from the upstarts at Apprehensive Films, this invigorating, inspirational film follows eight different backyard boo-stars as they try to turn their suburban homes into chilling dwellings of nightmarish terror, all for one night a year. Either marvel at their tenacity, or steal their DIY ideas for your own front-door fright-fest — either way, it's an indispensable guide to the joy and merriment that a holiday dedicated to demons, devils and the dead can generate as it turns some of us into over-stimulated little kids, all jacked up on Smarties and fake blood.