Entertainment

All the Horror Movies You Should Watch This Halloween

From a screwball comedy take on Dracula to the true horrors of modern life (marriage!), Deeper Into Movies have your October viewing covered.
October 26, 2021, 8:00am
Trash Humpers Warp Films
Photo: WARP FILMS
All the good shit you should be watching, as curated by the East London film club Deeper Into Movies.

For one month every year, horror just hits different! 

We’re excited to share our certified ‘Deeper Into Movies Horror Canon’. Horror is such a diverse genre, so we’ve got everything from the eerie and supernatural to Italian horror, body horror, torture porn, art films, grin house, to trash… no, literally people fucking trash.

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‘POSSESSION’ (1981, Dir. Andrzej Żuławski)

Easily the sexiest movie ever made. You’ll likely know it from all the screen-grabs of pale-faced Isabelle Adjani flipping her shit in a subway tunnel, which looks more like a sewage catacomb for the recently disposed dead. But beyond the visual sensation it’s become, POSSESSION is perhaps the greatest film ever made about the true horrors of divorce.

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It’s a domestic nightmare down the darkest annals of love and lust. Combining elements of body horror, sci-fi, Polish moral anxiety, and Kramer-vs-Kramer, POSSESSION is a smorgasbord of hot dripping sex and filth that will leave you wondering why people even get married in the first place. 

‘TRASH HUMPERS’  (2009, Dir. Harmony Korine)

For the fully-grown boys and girls of TRASH HUMPERS, every day is Halloween! Set in the glory hole of Nashville, Tennessee, where the desired locations are highway underpasses and back alley hoots n’ hangs, TRASH HUMPERS stars a redneck group of self-proclaimed “Devils” on a mission to raise hell while wearing old people prosthetic masks. Harmony Korine describes the film as “an ode to vandalism”, and that it is, as its protagonists pillage, murder and party the whole way through while chanting the film’s broken record mantra “Make it make it don’t fake it!”.

The highlight, aside from the obvious dumpster fucking, is a child preacher beating the living daylight out of a babydoll with a hammer, cackling “I told you I’d kill it!!” It’s quintessential Korine, whether you like it or not, presented in complete earnestness and equal-parts moral ambiguity. It’s only scary if you let it be. A pure American landscape. 

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‘OPERA’ (1987, Dir. Dario Argento)

Now we enter the bottomless treasure trove of Giallo horror, where Italy’s finest Dario Argento bookended the 1980s with his loud-n-proud psycho thriller hit OPERA.

It’s a blood-curdling slasher flick about a young injured actress who is stalked by a deranged phantom killer inhabiting the Opera House she’s constrained in. The killer forces her to watch as he kidnaps and murders various members of her production, strapping her down and duct-taping needles across her eyes so she doesn’t dare shut them. The ultimate love letter to voyeurism and our inherent sickness as an audience to keep watching even when we shouldn’t. A pounding 80s Metal soundtracks accompanies each killing and leaves you reeling for more-more-more! 

‘Society’ (1989, Dir. Brian Yuzna)

In what can only be described as very broad satire, a teenage boy living in Beverley Hills discovers his WASP parents may be part of an orgiastic cannibal cult of elites who consume the less fortunate in a blood-soaked, eroticised ritual of writhing, shapeshifting bodies. Directed by Brian Yuzna with jaw-dropping effects by the great “Screaming Mad George”, Society is a riotous cult classic that pushes back against the wealth-worshipping mentality of eighties America.

‘MANIAC’ (1980, Dir. William Lustig)

Conceived by porn-director turned video-nasty visionary William Lustig, MANIAC stars 70s character actor Joe Spinell in the truest expression of Kotch-era NY terror filtered through the grimy lens of a sex-crazed lunatic. Frank Zito is a tortured soul who can’t keep his hands off women, even if it means strangling them to death and taking their flesh as a consolation prize.

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The horror of this movie defies genre and gets things down to a freakishly documentary level: watching a serial killer sob himself to sleep amidst tattered mannequins wearing the scalps of his dead victims is an unholy sight, but we can’t keep our eyes off it!! By the end, you’ll be rooting for the poor deranged mamma’s boy, wishing him the best and hoping he’ll just get some well-deserved peace.

MANIAC would soon become the most notorious exploitation horror flick of its time, following a long-lasting tradition of slasher films told from the killer’s point of view. 

‘The Dead Zone’ (1983, Dir. David Cronenberg)

In one of Cronenberg’s more somber outings, Christopher Walken plays Johnny Smith who, wakes up from a car-wreck-induced coma to discover that he’s gained the power of premonition, able to see a person’s future simply by touching them. Naturally (this is a Stephen King adaptation after all), his new powers prove to be a bit of a pain, especially once he sees what’s in store for a rising political star played by Martin Sheen. The titular “dead zone” refers to the murky part of the future seen in Johnny’s visions, which could potentially be altered by human interference, introducing some fun genre plotting that pays off beautifully in the climax. 

‘Deathdream’ AKA ‘Dead of Night’ (1974, Dir. Bob Clark)

From the director of Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 comes a deeply haunting monkey’s paw fable and Vietnam war allegory. After his family prays for his survival, a young recruit miraculously returns from the front to his small American hometown. Unfortunately, something clearly isn’t right. Using elements of vampire and zombie lore, director Bob Clark explores the plight of US veterans, succumbing to PTSD and addiction once they’ve hung up their fatigues. Frightening and tragic, Deathdream is an unusually powerful exploration of America’s post-war consciousness. 

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‘Ganja & Hess’ (1973, Dir. Bill Gunn)

Conceived as a blaxploitation horror flick in the vein of Blacula, an initially reluctant Bill Gunn (who was quoted as saying “the last thing I want to do is make a black vampire film”) recognised the amateurish production team would provide little creative oversight on the project. Under Gunn’s direction, the film became a stylish, brazenly experimental exploration of mortality, race and sex. Starring Night of the Living Dead’s Duane Jones, Marlene Clark and Gunn himself, Ganja is a rapturously beautiful vampire tale and a reminder of Gunn’s prodigious talent.

‘Hostel’ & ‘Hostel: Part II’ (2005 & 2007, Dir Eli Roth)

In the late 90s and 2000s, horror movies were big box office business once again, mainly thanks to Wes Craven’s Scream. Combining elements of sadistic killings, nudity and mutilation, many were dubbed "torture porn" by critics and detractors. The first to have this label slapped on it, by critic David Edelstein, was Eli Roth’s Hostel.

Roth blew up in the horror world with his debut Cabin Fever, and he went even harder for his follow-up Hostel films. In the first of the franchise, American college bros Josh (Derek Richardson) and Paxton (Jay Hernandez) decide to spend the summer after graduation on a bromantic trip across Europe. One night they're enticed to a hostel in Slovakia, which is populated by hot girls but turns out to be a trap, as they’re abducted and sold to rich weirdos who pay top dollar to kill and torture people.

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Both stand as some of the hardest, most nihilistic movies to come out of Hollywood. Even half the poster campaigns were banned – for both movies.

‘BLOOD FOR DRACULA’ (1974, Dir. Paul Morrissey)

So few sexploitation films from the past have lasted the test of time. This is why Paul Morrissey's Andy Warhol-produced BLOOD FOR DRACULA has remained a sleeper hit all these years.

While Bela Lugosi brought bravado and class, and Christopher Lee came through with the razor-sharp menace, Udo Kier is the people's Dracula. Why? Because here, he’s a lovesick diva going through withdrawals. He moans and complains like a Valley Girl until he gets what he so wants, and what happens when he sucks the blood of a woman who lies to him about being a virgin? He pukes his lungs out and cries for mercy, stumbling through this screwball comedy with the lazy desperation of a classic Warholian junkie-Prince. Also starring Morrissey regular and sex symbol, Joe Dallesandro, it’s a real Graveyard Smash.

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