As longtime readers of the pre-crash blog know, we have a family tradition on the Friday before Halloween: I have a stack of pre-vetted movies — usually innocuous B-movies and creature features — and I’ll keep throwing them in the DVD player until the kids give up and go to bed. Here’s what we went through last Friday:
The Call of Cthulhu (2005) — This is the indie-made feature undertaken with the conceit of an a contemporary adaptation of Lovecraft’s 1926 story, i.e., a silent feature. I always enjoy this movie fully every time I watch it (there are only so many movies I can say that about), and the making-of featurette is almost as entertaining as the main feature. (There’s two kinds of making-of material: the gazillion-dollar Lord of the Rings stuff, where it’s all documentation of all the money and people they threw at each scene, and the micro-budget stuff like that featured here, which is all “Look what we made with cardboard and garbage bags!” I enjoy the second more.)
Michael Jackons’s Thriller (1983) — As much fun as most feature-length movies. And hey, look! Michael Jackson looked black once upon a time! (Proof that he was always really white manifests itself at the start of the zombie dance: Check out Michael’s white-guy overbite.)
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) — There needs to be at least one movie ever Halloween that makes my kids say, “Wait, what? What the what?” This fulfilled that mission admirably. I only realized a month ago that I had never seen this all the way through, just bits and pieces on TV twenty-five years ago. Sheer lunacy in all the right ways.
Gremlins (1984) — The movie that made people say, “We really need a rating between PG and R!”
The Watcher in the Woods (1980) — This was my wife’s suggestion, and the kids have voted never to let her pick another Halloween movie. Bette Davis finds herself trapped with some of the worst actors in history, front and center being the lead, Lynn-Holly Johnson, best known (probably) from her role in Ice Castles (1978) (in which she skated) and For Your Eyes Only (1981) (in which she skated). It turns out that the skates were doing all the acting.
Troll 2 (1990) — I’m not willing to say that this is, as the cult bandwagon has declared, the “best worst movie” ever, but — holy moly! Does it ever deliver on the lunacy! My kids have been saying, “It’s ‘goblin’ spelled backwards!” at random moments ever since. (Not so much of the “You don’t piss on hospitality!” — my wife frowns upon it.)
And then it was 2:30 a.m., and although Sariah was game for another one, the rest of us were ready for bed. (In the stack but unseen: Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) and Blood of the Zombie (1961).)