Film

Halloween Horror

Current and creepy

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Typically, Halloween is a real big deal around these parts. A real big deal. I’ve never considered myself to be a Halloweenie like most of my costume-crazed friends, but as the days draw closer to Oct. 31, I find myself a touch melancholy about the a Halloween that will be, if not cancelled outright, severely curtailed. I took myself to the Spook Shop to cheer myself up, but it wasn’t quite the escape from reality I was hoping for.

I guess it’s time to watch more movies. Given that we are currently living in the plot of a slow-moving horror movie, I feel it to be only prudent (or perhaps foolish, but I’m willing to take the risk) to lean in a little. I usually wait a bit longer to begin binging scary movies, but time means nothing in 2020, so I’m kicking off this Halloween horror ride—and I’m taking all of you with me.

The horror genre is rich and varied and I traffic in nearly all of it except for torture porn (Saw, I’m looking at you). And even though movie theaters are shuttered locally as well as nationwide, that hasn’t stopped the release of the horror flicks that are part and parcel of this time of year. Pop some popcorn, turn off the lights and prepare for scares—here’s what’s current and creepy.

Of all the movies available now or coming to streaming services in the near future, Bad Hair is the one that has me the most excited. My favorite horror movies fall into two general categories: straight-up scary and terrible/wonderful. Of those, Bad Hair is surely the latter. Written and directed by Dear White People’s Justin Simien, it’s about an upwardly mobile young woman (Elle Lorraine) whose weave is somehow sentient—and has a tendency to kill people who get in her way. The Sundance hit boasts a killer cast in Lena Waithe, Kelly Rowland, Laverne Cox, Jay Pharoah, and Vanessa Williams and its seemingly ridiculous premise is balanced by its sly messaging about the complex social issues surrounding Black women and their hair. You’ll never look at someone’s weave the same way again. (Streaming starting Oct. 23 on Hulu)

If horror comedy is your thing, a trio of movies in the world of on demand will scratch that itch. The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a dark werewolf comedy (not a lot of those out there) written, directed and starring Jim Cummings as a small-town sheriff trying not to succumb to paranoia as he attempts to figure out who—or what—is killing townspeople during each full moon. Also noteworthy for being Robert Forster’s last role before his death. Organ trafficking and a kidney gone rogue are the plot drivers of 12 Hour Shift, starring Angela Bettis as its harried heroine and featuring a scene-stealing performance by Chloe Farnworth as an organ harvester who is comically bad at her job. Creature features are ripe for the comedic treatment and Save Yourselves! is only too happy to exploit that and other horror tropes, including a secluded cabin in the woods, a couple who wants to disconnect from society in order to reconnect with each other and a planet under attack from hostile aliens that just happen to look like benign puffballs.

But that’s far from all. At Netflix, bloodsucking gentrifiers and actual vampires are the ghouls to be vanquished in Vampires vs. the Bronx, while Adam Sandler does battle with Salem’s supernatural forces in the kid-appropriate Hubie Halloween. Come Oct. 22, the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved The Witches, originally scheduled for theatrical release, hits HBO Max. And in the Halloween cinematic event many of us have been both eagerly and warily anticipating, The Craft: Legacy—the continuation of the 1996 movie about the coolest coven around—will be released Oct. 28 via on demand. Just in time for Halloween.

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