With Halloween all up in here this weekend, there are times one may not be able, physically or mentally, to do the going-out stuff. Now, the most obvious option is to watch a couple scary movies that pop up on TV or visit your favorite video outlet. Without further Apu, here is a brief listing of some of those offerings that help ring in the spirit it their own little way.
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Part VI
Even though an amazing Simpsons episode has become more endangered than a dodo, every once in a while, the show finds its bite again (see the recent Banksy-assisted intro). Maybe it's the darkness of the holiday or the genuine geekiness of the writers, but the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes rarely disappoint. A perfect sampling of the episodes at their zenith can be found in the sixth entry of the series (from the seventh season). With this episode, we're treated to three stories. One tale features Paul Anka and Lisa fighting off the colossal Lard Lad statue while another finds Homer turned into a computer-generated 3-D character lost in a Tron-like dimension. This nerd's personal favorite is "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace," a freaky parody of the Freddy Krueger series with Groundskeeper Willie doing his best impression of Robert Englund's legendary role. It's certainly better than that dumbass Nightmare on Elm Street remake.
What if you just want to test your intestinal fortitude? Well, grab a nearby barfbag ladies and germs because one need look no further than the grody stylings of the late Italian director Lucio Fulci (Zombi 2). It should be noted that The Beyond, one of his best films of the early '80s, is more than a mere gorefest. The plot revolves around one of the gates of hell opening up. Crazy crap starts going on: a painter falls from a building, a blind woman gets attacked by a dog, and a man gets his face eaten off by tarantulas. These are but a few of the stupidly gnarly scenes that'll give you that "ugh" face. Aside from the goofy gore, the oneiric incoherence and pervasive Catholic themes turn this pukefest into something eerily beautiful.
Some horror movies are great for one thing and one thing only: making the viewer stare in gaping disbelief while uttering the phrase "What the hell?" over and over again. When it comes to giving the viewer this sensation, one should scan their eyes eastward, more specifically to Higuchinsky's Uzumaki. Based on a popular Japanese manga, the inhabitants of a small seaside town come under the influence of a strange force that puts them under a spell. This spell makes the townsfolk become obsessed with spirals. Yes, I said spirals. The townspeople's strange obsession with finding spirals manifests itself in a townsgirl's overly long, curly hair, a patient digging the cochlea from her inner ear, and a man's spinning eyes, among other things. It's only fair warning to mention that the film is subtitled but, in all honesty, you don't need them when the visuals rival David Lynch's most psychotic work.
House of the Devil
One sure-fire way to give any movie geek a nerdrection is to reference a genre's glorious bygone era. When it comes to horror, the '70s and early '80s are where a newer film should look to for guidence. One film that harkens to the early '80s paranoia of satanic cults is Ti West's House of the Devil (2009). When Samantha Hughes is hard up for quick dough, she gets a baby-sitting job at a creepy isolated mansion. Needless to say, things go from crappy to creepy when she discovers why she's really been hired. Never has a movie attempted to be more faithful to a particular cinematic era than this film. With cinematography unique to low-budget horror flicks, a long opening credit sequence harkening back to old TV-movies, cameos by '80s genre vets like Mary Woronov and Dee Wallace Stone, and a languid pace that may test the patience of some of today's viewers, House of the Devil is a treat of its own for the faithful and the casual.