Starting today, many SoCal locals start their yearly staple of horror films, eagerly glutting on them as much as cavity-inducing candy corn. Almost everyone has a few annual choices that are really no surprise to anyone, from “Halloween” by John Carpenter (Sorry, Rob Zombie), to the somber twist of “The Sixth Sense.” Humor also goes hand in paw, and jolly skeletons will ask for an invite to movie night while you watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Young Frankenstein.” But be forewarned, gentle reader, because your master of Scarimonies (God, I sound like the Crypt Keeper), Dukey Flyswatter, will suggest some gems and themes that may have flown drastically under your radar, like a schizophrenic Vampire Bat. So here come my pics, which are even scarier than the Presidential Debates.
Week One: Horror Anthology Films. Often referred to in Europe and England as Portmanteau films, they contain a selection of stories during the course of a normal feature running time.
Saturday Oct. 1st: Dr. Terror’s House Of Horrors. 1965 Dir. Freddie Francis. Stars: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Donald Sutherland and Michael Gough.
I recall vividly seeing this at a crowded matinee indoor theater built in the late forties. It was co-billed with the Re-issue of “War Of The Worlds.” I was eleven and we screamed like cats after someone steps on their tail. This was so successful that Amicus Productions made several others over the course of a couple of decades. The years have taken some of the chills out of this but it’s still great entertainment and a film that would lay groundwork for shows like “Tales From The Crypt” all the way to “V/H/S.” Six strangers meet in a train, each with very different temperaments and backgrounds. Once his Tarot Cards are discovered, the kindly Dr. Schreck is goaded into predicting each one’s future and wouldn’t you know it, none of it’s very sunny. No normal fates are here either, as each tale turns into a supernatural carnival with killer plants, werewolves, Voodoo, crawling hands and Vampire territorial disputes. It has a great nostalgic element to it and the new Blu-ray is the best it ever looked.