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A NIGHTMARE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM

 

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: OK, spooky film fans … er, I mean, fans of spooky films … here’s a vintage ‘Hicks on Flicks’ column that recommends some older films for Halloween. It was published in the Deseret News on Oct. 30, 1988 (in the era of VHS rentals), under the headline (which I did not write), ‘Our man Hicks picks Halloween flicks.’

OK, all you Halloween video watchers — got your scary movie picked out for tomorrow night yet?

Jon Carter, of KRSP-FM (better known as ROCK 103.5) did one of his notorious movie previews last week — “A Nightmare on Sesame Street,” which he said was “brought to you by the makers of ‘King Friday the 13th!’ ” (Mr. Rogers would be turning over in his grave if he were dead.)

But I couldn’t find either one of those titles at my favorite rental store, Humongous-Big Monster Video. Iggy, the guy who runs the place, looked in his catalog, but he couldn’t find them either.

I told him they were probably on the same label as Carter’s other favorites, “The Care Bear Murders” and “The Cult of Yabba-Dabba-Doo.” But …you guessed it: Couldn’t find them.

Oh, well.

There are some wonderfully scary movies you can rent from Iggy’s shelves, however (or whatever video store you shop at), and since I get the same phone calls every year at this time asking about good, solid horror movies that can be shared with the kids without embarrassing the parents, here’s a list of a few of my personal favorites — all of which can be found on video.

House of Usher/The Pit and the Pendulum — These two Roger Corman films are arguably the best of his Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, both starring Vincent Price, and both in color. Great stuff.

 

The Black Cat/The Raven — These are Poe-oriented films, but only nominally. Both star Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi at the peak of their popularity (1934/1935) and the films come on one videocassette tape, since each features is only slightly over an hour long. Very scary old black-and-white thrillers.

The Thing From Another World — The black-and-white 1951 version, of course, about a flying saucer discovered under the Arctic ice, and the thawed-out monster from within that tracks down and butchers his rescuers. James Arness is the monster.

The Fly — This color 1958 original is not as technically refined as the recent remake (nor as gloppy and gooey), but it builds suspense very well in a story about a scientist switching his head and arm with a tiny fly, then searching desperately for the insect to try and switch back.

The Haunting — A fine British cast and great atmosphere make this haunted house yarn one of the best of its kind, another black-and-white chiller.

Poltergeist — Forget the two sequels; how long has it been since you’ve watched this one? Steven Spielberg’s haunted-house-in-the-suburbs is one of the most frightening contemporary ghost stories around.

Forbidden Planet — Technically a science-fiction film, this is as much a horror yarn as “Alien,” with the monster from the id killing a rescue team on a nearly deserted planet. Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis. In color.

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers — The one I refer to here is the black-and-white 1956 classic, simply one of the greatest fright films ever made, but the color remake (1978) is a good one too. Both are very scary sci-fi/horror yarns about seedpods from space taking over the human race.

The Phantom of the Opera — While the Claude Rains color version (1943) is entertaining enough, I opt for the silent original (1925) with Lon Chaney in one of the great horror classics.

Nosferatu -— The silent classic (1922) is a good old-fashioned “Dracula” yarn but the German remake (1979) with Klaus Kinski is also excellent, a wonderfully moody look at the world’s most misunderstood monster.

Psycho — Alfred Hitchcock’s black-and-white masterpiece made people take baths instead of showers for years afterward, and it holds up as a terrifying film of great power.

Westworld/Futureworld — Both the original and its sequel are frightening sci-fi/horror yarns set in futuristic theme parks that may make you think twice about your next trip to Disneyland.

There are others, of course, but this will give you a good start:

But when you’re watching one, don’t get so involved you forget to open the door for the trick-or-treaters — otherwise the trick may be on you.