In this column I previously promised news about the 12 Hours of Terror event happening at the Belcourt this weekend from Saturday, Oct. 22, at 10 p.m. through Sunday, Oct. 23, at 10 a.m. Unfortunately, dates and times are all I’ve been able to pry from the cold dead hands keeping this lineup safely in its crypt until the seats are filled, the lights are dimmed and the projector flickers to life for the theater’s latest iteration of this Halloween season tradition.
I don’t know about you, but I want to watch scary movies every day in October. Like Christmas songs during the holidays, for me horror films are a big part of observing the spookiest month of the year. It’s also an opportunity to steep myself in a genre that I’m not always inclined towards. In 2016, I’ve seen The Witch and The Conjuring 2, and I liked them both, but I haven’t made it to any other horror films. I’m much more likely to make a disgusting discovery or to stream a cringy classic at home. With that in mind, here are five films for the Season of the Witch currently streaming on Netflix. Any of these would make an awful appetizer or a diabolical dessert before or after your 12 hours at the Belcourt.
'THE LEGEND OF THE HELL HOUSE' (1973)
I’m not a Stephen King fan, but after three terrible nightmares in a row while I was reading the short story collection Night Shift in college, I respect the hell out of his chops as a frightmeister. King’s genius lies in his expertise at provoking your imagination so you’ll scare yourself right into one of those 3 a.m. nightmares I had when I was 20 – I hadn’t had one since I was young enough to run to my parents’ bed. The Legend of Hell House is the kind of movie that gives you just enough rope to tie your own noose, and it’s a must for lovers of haunted house movies. This isn’t based on a Stephen King book, but the combination of brains and blood in this screenplay come courtesy of Richard Matheson’s adapting of his own Hell House novel. Matheson also wrote the novels and screenplays for I Am Legend and What Dreams May Come.
'THE WICKER MAN' (2006)
The original The Wicker Man was released in 1973. That movie is a cornerstone of the Folk Horror genre, and is one of the best scary movies ever made. The Wicker Man remake starring Nicolas Cage and released in 2006? Not so much. Recently I’ve read a few articles defending the movie, but YouTube will forever be packed with clips of Nicolas Cage’s berserk performance as a cop investigating a missing child case on an island ruled by a matriarchal cult. Work of hidden genius or great bad movie for the ages, this one makes the list.
'CHILDREN OF THE CORN' (1983)
A film that might also be considered a Folk Horror flick is Children of the Corn – Fristz Kiersch’s take on the Stephen King short story that tells the story of a young couple driving across the Midwest before the discovery of a dead body finds them sidetracked to a town populated only by children. King’s short story first appeared in Penthouse before being collected in Night Shift. For me creepy kids are even scarier than monster clowns, and John Franklin’s Isaac Chroner is one of the creepiest kids in movie history.
Jaws is the scariest summer movie ever, but it’s so associated with the warm weather months that I sometimes forget that its status as one of the great monster films makes it a perfect pick for a frightful fall lineup. Director Steven Spielberg, Peter Benchley’s adaptation of his own novel with help from Carl Gottlieb, and an amazing cast of actors raise this flick from a rogue shark chew-em-up to a masterpiece of blood-in-the-water cinema.
'EXTRAORDINARY TALES' (2015)
No list of Halloween horrors could be complete without a tip of the hat to Edgar Allen Poe, and Extraordinary Tales would probably fill the master of suspense’s tell-tale heart with pride. This animated collection of classic tales like The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum hits and misses, but these pairings of Poe voiced by Christopher Lee, Guillermo Del Toro and even Bela Lugosi are – like that candy corn you can’t stop eating – just too good to pass up.
Visit www.belcourt.org to get your tickets for 12 Hours of Terror, and find all the films on our list streaming this month on Netflix.