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It's time to mutate out of the saccharine sweetness and sentimental nonsense of the mainstream and get all dark. Or, um, something. Or maybe because it's Halloween it's time when a goofy B-movie reviewer gets to dress up as legit film critic and use three-syllable words? At any rate, 2009 has seen a bumper crop of fright flicks. Here are 10 to see — some brand-new to DVD and some classics reissued in ever-glorious deluxe editions.
Dead of Night
From Dan Curtis, the dude who made a Zuni fetish doll the scariest thing since clowns, comes another made-for-TV anthology like 1975's great Trilogy of Terror. Much like TOT, Dead of Night's first two segments aren't much, but the third, hoo boy, "Bobby" is as chilling as anything you'll like ever see on the boob.
Based on a manga about a sleepy, isolated Japanese village whose folk become obsessed with spirals, it's worthy off-kilter horror devoid of the classic vengeful, pasty-faced ghosts or haunted electronic devices.
House on Haunted Hill: 50th Anniversary Special Edition
This 1957 William Castle classic sees Vincent Price's eccentric millionaire hosting a party in a sinister haunted house. He offers $10,000 to each of the five guests if they spend the night. It's like the Ghost and Mr. Chicken times five! Sort of. See, there's a catch; each guest here must survive until morning. The special edition contains both the original and color versions, so you have every reason to skip the 1999 remake. Besides, the real plus for this edition is Mike Nelson (of Mystery Science Theater 3000) and his irreverent audio commentary.
Gettin' tired of "horror" movie characters who are nothing more than moronic sitting ducks? Yeah, me too. Which is why you must check out Brit director Toby Wilkins' cunning and visceral Splinter; it's part monster movie and part eco-savvy thriller armed with a clever claustrophobic setting, some great acting and killer, heart-skip scares.
True Blood — Season 1
It's cable's most addictive show. It's tightly wound, smartly written and pretty to look at, and is crammed with all the sex, humor, bloodlust and social commentary that isn't in, say, Twilight. Fuck Team Jacob and Edward. Go Team Bill.
My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition
Yep, it's true, holidays are downright scary for any number of reasons. This flick's a nostalgic and stylish flashback to 1981, an innocent and carefree time when you didn't need to remake a gory slasher movie, much less one in 3-D. All you needed was a mine shaft and a lovers' holiday.
Angus Scrimm's Tall Man returns! That this is on finally on DVD is like finding the missing piece of a treasure map where you then discover those ever-creepy, bizarro flying metal balls of carnage.
Happy Birthday To Me
One-time teen hottie Melissa Sue Anderson (Little House on the Prairie) attempted to ditch her squeaky-clean Mary Ingalls persona with this gruesome slash-fest. Just check out the cover of the DVD for some insight into the ahem unique killings. And no father figure or Michael Landon in sight!
Audition: Collector's Edition
Crazy Japanese director Takashi Miike hits horror-movie pay dirt with this deceptive gem about a lonely widower who gets more than he bargained for when he starts dating a meek and mild would-be actress. Sure it comments on gender and romance in modern Japan, but the finale just disturbs.
Pumpkinhead: Collectors Edition
MGM / UA
Lance Henriksen's tour de force as the grief-riddled hillbilly dad who unleashes a vengeful creature on a group of annoying, self-centered teens who accidentally killed his only son. Do not miss the backwoods witch, straight from the cutting-room floor of Deliverance!
This guy Paul Knoll drives his lover crazy with crappy movies. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.