It’s Halloween time. If you’ve found yourself all tuckered out blowing up Irish Water Metres with black cats and quarter sticks and are looking for a good old fright night with some mates, then gather round – we’ve just the list for you.
To help you avoid download indecision we rooted out some lesser known horrors to put the willies up you. This selection really reflects movies caught late at night on the bog channels growing up as a culchie child. If you like this list, we might just return with some more recent macabre outings before Samhain itself.
Don’t be an old greedy guts, if you’ve a film worth sharing, then shout it out or we’ll set fucking Freddie Kreuger on you.
The Innocents (1961)
Jack Clayton’s film (based on the Turn Of The Screw ghost story) centres around a governess stuck in a chilling gothic mansion while the spirits of two dead servants torment two kids in her charge. It’s a real psychological creep fest this, with the undertones of sexual carry on properly rotten. It got a remake in the 1990’s with Patsy Kensit, but avoid that – the original set the mold for later movies like The Orphanage, The Others and countless more.
If my childhood diet of horror was based around muck like the Nightmare On Elm St series and the shelves and shelves of VHS nasties in local rental shops, then this really opened up a new world, less about blood and demonic fright and more about the candle lit horror of human relationships.
Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971)
Ever wished you could stick your brain through the wash and cleanse all memories of The Wicker Man just for the singular pleasure of watching it all again? Well, it’s unlikely to happen – but watching this movie is damn close. Robin Hardy’s The Wickerman is cut from the exact same peasant garb of English pastoral folk horror as that served up two years prior here by Piers Haggard.
So what do we get here? A rank looking skull is found by a ploughman, leading to a strange events in a small village that is just learning to become rational after the witch trials. It becomes quickly clear that a rising pagan tide emanates from the woods and channels itself through the kids of a village. To what ends? Who knows. You’ll just have to watch it. A black metal soundtrack must exist for this somewhere too.
Be warned, some of the scenes in this cut close to the bone – so a major trigger warning for sexual assault needs to be attached.
The Devils (1971)
You might have come across Aldous Huxley The Devils of Loudun, his account of a priestly dude called Urbain Grandier who gets up the ire of a convent of nuns when he rejects their desire to have him retained as a spiritual adviser. What you get is a combination of ecclesiastical conspiracy set against a mass frenzied orgy and a total on-screen pile on of heretical imagery that would make that young one out of The Exorcist blush with embarrassment.
You really didn’t want your parents walking in on this one.
The Changling (1980)
Just good simple old ghost story telling here. No fornicating with Christ, orgiastic nuns or Satanic kids in this one. A successful composer moves into an old eerie mansion, when the spirit of a murdered young boy starts to plague him. He ends up on a quest that uncovers the dark family conspiracy behind a powerful American politician. This one will completely give you a phobia about wheelchairs left on their own. Great for a Sunday afternoon hangover.
This is about as cult 1980’s B movie as it gets. Accept no pretenders. This sits up their with They Live in the paranoid-horror stakes. It’s your classic American high school movie, about a young man who just doesn’t fit in. And hell, you know he can’t figure out why. When he does, it turns out that all those high class dickheads (including his own famly) are some sort of lizard-cum-blob type species that subside off human sacrifice and fucked up sex rituals.
We’ll leave it to you to puzzle out your own set of metaphorical interpretations for Reagon-era America from all this bad SFX and latex. And Christ, don’t go zipping open your local politicians face with a Stanley blade to check for signs of humanity after this either. It’s just a movie man.