Conor Barry looks through the horror archive and picks your cinematic Halloween playlist
Halloween is, as everyone knows, a time for partying down in stupid costumes while committing random acts of vandalism. However, if you have no friends/parties, fret not: there is always the slightly more pathetic option of a horror film marathon. Myself and fellow otwo loser Seán McGovern took on this torch of shame and spent a night trying to scare the Hell out of ourselves. Then we watched some horror films.
First up, Hellbound: Hellraiser 2. We follow the heroine of the original Hellraiser who has wound up in a psychiatric prison because she kept moaning on about how the guardians of Hell stole her father’s soul. Through some not particularly exciting series of events, with the aid of fiddling a magic box, the gates of Hell are opened and the so-called “Cenobites” are released again. People get torn to shreds, kiss skinless women and eventually enter a version of Hell that looks strangely like an Escher drawing.
The main reason we chose this film is because it terrified Seán when he was younger. I can see why: a group of freaky men, one with pins in his head, climb out of Hell to steal your soul just because you played with a toy box. It’d keep you away from Rubik’s Cubes at least. But now that we are wise old men does it still pack the same punch? Well, sort of.
Maybe I’ve become cynical in my old age but the plot makes no sense. As Seán reminds me, the girl was wandering around Hell in search of her father. Focusing on the grosser bits, some people do get completely mangled – exactly what some will want from a film – but even this is too little, because most of the film is speech. There were some freaky parts, and a little trip to Hell was fun for all the family, but overall Hellbound is bound to disappoint.
Next: Rosemary’s Baby, Roman Polanski’s tense masterpiece. Rosemary and her husband arrive at a new apartment where all the neighbours are a bit odd. When Rosemary realises she has mysteriously fallen pregnant, she begins to wonder where it came from, rightly so. Thus starts a tense slow burner of a mystery that’s genuinely terrifying.
The issue with this film is it’s too good. Shoved in between two slightly lower quality films just made it seem… strange. The point of a Halloween film is to make you jump, scream and laugh a little, but Rosemary’s Baby dulls you into a steady gaze with the screen that you refuse to break out of fear. This was Seán’s experience, at least, because I fell asleep.
One of the many pitfalls of the horrorthon is the guy who falls asleep during the movies, but I think I was justified. I signed up for an all out scare-fest, not high quality psycho-drama. Regardless, when I awoke Seán seemed genuinely freaked out by the film, perhaps worried about his unborn child. The shift from Hellbound to this was the equivalent of reading a copy of Nuts followed by Ulysses. It is genuinely chilling, brooding and worrying; not necessarily suitable for jumpy thrills. I have since watched the film, by the way. It’s amazing.
Last, but – holy crap! – by no means least, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Freddy Krueger haunts teenagers’ dreams, leading them not to sleep for fear of dying a horrible, bloody and unexplainable death.
While our first film was too obvious and the second was complete crap, number three nailed it. It has all the things you need from a horror film: the jumpy bits where Krueger appears out of nowhere, the gross bits where a kid is dragged along by his intenstines, but – most importantly – it knows it’s a stupid film and makes fun of itself, such as when Krueger slams an aspiring actress through a TV shouting “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” All the stereotypes are there too: the hot girl, the token black guy, the nerd. Watching the nerd attempt to kill Freddy by turning into a wizard may very well be the best thing I’ve ever seen.
These films are perfect for Halloween – the type where you know people are definitely going to die, so you’re on the edge of your seat for the whole film before they inevitably meet their maker in the most grotesque way imaginable. It’s also perfect for that semi-party atmosphere because it doesn’t actually require much attention – you can actually chat with people and just quiet down for some fantastic deaths. otwo also guarantees you’ll have at least one dream about Krueger.
There you have it. Far and away the most successful film of the night was Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Not necessarily the best film, but since when has Halloween been about quality? However, realising that a single film does not quite make a horrorthon, otwo suggests adding American Werewolf in London, Final Destination 2 and Cool Runnings. Strap in for some scares.