Halloween Watch List 2020

Halloween Watch List 2020

Every Halloween season I like to find a scary book, either one that deals with ghosts, monsters, or scary science fiction. Unfortunately, I am too far behind in my reading to throw a Halloween book on top of the list. Instead, I want to utilize the video services we subscribe to and watch a few movies instead.

We do not watch many scary movies at our house. My wife gets frightened easily. I used to really like them, especially 80’s era slasher films. My favorite back then was “Friday the Thirteenth”, however, as time passes I favor “Halloween” and Michael Meyers much more. Among the franchises created in that time period, two stand out to me that I realize I’ve not watched in many years. When I did see them, I don’t think I really understood what was going on and so they never registered as favorites. Unlike Freddy, Jason, or Michael, the concepts were a little more complex. In the former, the idea is just about building up tension, however the two movies I chose differs in that you’re exploring haunted worlds. Whereas one are demonic, these two movies are more like alien demons, which is an odd concept. They are, of course, “Hellraiser” and “Phantasm”.


Of all the franchises out there, “Hellraiser” is the oddest in my opinion. There’s an entire lore of pain and pleasure loving aliens called Cenobites, who are summoned when a user interacts with a puzzle box. People search out this puzzle box because they’re looking for the next big thing, an upper level of “pushing the limits”, that sets them on a course where they come into contact with it. The series is based on a book by Clive Barker, which I did not realize until recently, and Clive Barker’s name is synonymous with horror from this period of time. Clive Barker also did “Candyman“, another movie series that interestingly enough, like Hellraiser, is getting refreshed as a series on streaming services.

Overall the movie is hard to follow. The acting isn’t very good, the editing doesn’t make sense, and you really need to pay attention or get lost in these concepts because they’re so foreign. The main “bad guy” is Pinhead, who is an iconic Halloween store mask (although you don’t see much of him anymore). He’s a leader of sadomasochistic inter-dimensional travelers who capture whoever summons him and his team of weirdos through a puzzle box. There’s another bad guy who summons them, but escapes when blood is spilled in the area he was massacred in by the Cenobites. He’s aided in his quest for more blood by his brother’s wife, who he seduced some years prior, who murders people for him. A niece gets involved, finds out what is going on, and ultimately saves the day.


“Phantasm” is another iconic horror film you do not hear much about anymore. As a youth, it was really hard for me to follow the story line. I couldn’t understand what was going on, and they only really explain it in a single sentence in the movie. Basically, the “Tall Man“, which is the series monster, is gathering people either by murdering them or taking their corpses and shortening them into ghouls that he transports into another world to be used as slaves. There’s also a flying silver ball that is like a guard dog that drills into people’s heads, monsters with mustard blood, a creepy ice cream truck driver who’s actually a good guy, and two brothers caught up in the middle of it who become the film’s protagonists.

After watching the movie today much more of it makes sense now. The dreaminess of the film, something I used to struggle with, is because the main character Mike is actually dreaming all of it (sorry for the spoiler…or is he?) When framed that way things start making more sense, which is probably why this movie is a cult classic today. It also has a memorable sound track, and interestingly enough was recently remastered in 4K.