The season of ghouls and things that go bump in the night is upon us once again. This means Lost Highway is digging up another list of some must see horror films to check out when all your trick or treaters have gone to bed. So turn off the porch lights early, blow out the candles in your Jack-o-Laterns, and get your big bowl of left over candy corn to sit down and watch these haunting tales.

Retroman Steve gives his top 5


1. Trick ‘r Treat

Delayed for nearly 2 years and hyped to the hilt as the perfect Halloween film, It was doubtful it was going to live up to expectations or even see any type of domestic release. Well it’s finally here and I can unequivocally say “yes” it’s hype worthy and truly garners a honored place among classics like the original Halloween, Night of the Demons, and even It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. I’m proud to say that Trick ‘r Treat is my newest halloween tradition. Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt comparison aside, it does take it’s own direction with multiple tales of “All Hallows” eve creepingly interwoven. It earns praise more on great atmosphere and wonderful storytelling that outright scares or gore though you’ll find a few moments in it that are downright frightening mostly revolving around a school bus. But I really enjoyed it’s fun matinee horror that I haven’t seen in many films lately.

This is a modern horror fairy tale that understands the true essence of what Halloween is  and that essence takes the physical form of Sam. Sam is a little halloween demon in disguise that defends the holiday’s tradition with dire consequences for anyone that breaks the rules. Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, Leatherface and now we have Sam. You’d think they could have come up with a scarier name. But make no mistake Sam is a vicious little guy that won’t stop until he gets what he wants. My advice keep a bowl of candy always at the ready. This is a pretty recent direct to dvd release with plenty of good reviews around the web so it’s likely you’ve already seen it but for the few of you that have been on volunteer duty in Equador it’s time to get caught up. See it and I guarantee it’ll give you that warm fuzzy feeling like a big jack-o-latern glowing in your heart. Also check out the cartoon extra on the DVD. It’s a hand drawn short animated film that inspired the full length feature lovingly crafted by the director Michael Dougherty . Trick ‘r Treat is a fantastic little piece of halloween horror that should be a part of any horror buff’s collection.

2. Magic

The commercial for this movie played on televison in the late 70’s during some saturday morning cartoons much to the horror of the children everywhere watching it at the time. Parent complaints flooded the TV stations as they were in an uproar over a creepy little ventriloquist doll talking about evil hocus pocus and death while the kids were watching the Smurfs. I fortuntately missed that early childhood scaring opportunity as I must have been watching Soul Train instead. Hey It’s where I learned to dance like the funky white boy that I am, but I did check it out the commercial on YouTube and was very intrigued with what I saw.

Anthony Hopkins in his pre Silence of the Lambs phase shows his early chops as a deranged psychopath/failed magician named Corky. After many lame cards tricks, his newest ventriloquist act with Fats the foul mouth puppet becomes a huge hit. Soon the promise of TV fame comes knocking on his door but fearing his his mental disease may get exposed, he disappears into upper state New York instead. Corky finds an isolated town and his highschool sweetheart/resident crazy lady Ann Margaret renting out cabins. Somehow she’s impressed by his comb over hair and lack of social skills and soon they fall in love. Unfortunately she’s still married and despite him always having his hand up the rear end of a wood doll things get even more creepy as Corky continues his downward spiral into madness. An interesting fact, the doll was actually designed by Disney but that company would cut ties with being involved with the film as it was all too dark and twisted to have their seal of approval. Sure Disney you won’t be associated with that horror film but then you’ll make Herbie the Love Bug. Magic was and is a great psychological thriller but never did well in the box office and missed out on any of that Oscar buzz due to all that early negative press. Definitely some great performances all around as Fats terrifying voice will be stuck in your head long after. Who is really the puppet pulling the strings is never quite clear but this is a very well crafted thriller that I highly recommend.


3. One Dark Night

A pre-breast enhanced Meg Tilly stars in this great 80’s gem about a deceased evil psychic recently buried in the town’s Mosoluem. He’s just waiting around for a group of teenagers that he can zap some brain juice from so that he can return from the dead. Meg’s character Julie is happy to oblige when she decides to spend the night there as part of a highschool gang initiation. Shiny purple club jackets apparently gave you a lot of street cred back then. Little does she realize that a few of her friends are going to crash the party and to give her a good fright including resurrected floating zombies on strings and ineffectual boyfriends on motorcylces who get tossed around like muppets.

Surprisingly a creepy film once the dead start to rise despite their dry cleaned and pressed appearance. Even the Dark Knight himself Adam West makes a cameo sans tights and bat utility belt as an alcoholic husband. Not sure if this was such an acting stretch. Give One Dark Night a try for a good Halloween fright film and be sure to read the full review here.


4. The Burning

How did this movie slip by my slasher radar in the 80’s. My SLASHdar as I’d like to call it, can detect great slashers simply from a quick glance of the back of a VHS box covers from up to 300 ft. away. But “The Burning” had totally gotten by and I only viewed it recently based on some positive talk about it on the Twittersphere. Well Friday the 13th should pay back some royalties to these guys because The Burning does everything right all the way through and in some ways is a better film than Friday. A psychopath on a vengful kiling spree, characters you actually care about, decent acting, and a river kill scene that shocks you to the core. The strength of this film rests on it’s plausibility and sense of impending dread as Cropsy the dark shrowded killer offs these teens in increasingly brutal fasion. You’ll never feel comfortable around a gardner with pruning sheers again…well you’ll feel even less comfortable and the forboding atmosphere is punctuated with a great soundtrack from Rick Wakeman who played in the rock band Yes. Everything hits the right note of perfect b-movie fright and slashertude. Yeah I just made up another b-movie term “slashertude” the attitude of a pefect slasher film. Pass it on.


5. Let the Right One in

One thing I thought we could do with a little less these days was vampire flicks. I think the last good one I saw involved Corey Haim pushing a vampire into a bathtub of holy water. Then came Twilight and all it’s Transylvania 90210 cheesiness and that put the proverbial nails in the coffin for vampire flicks for me. Hesitatingly I gave “let the Right one in” a foreign vampire film a last chance since it was referred to me by @chrisbanzai. Hey the man has got great taste in hats so I was hoping that would translate to great taste in vampire flicks. Ding ding ding we have a winner! Even though it’s from Swedish subtitled and I hate reading my movies this one is is actually quite engrossing (with an emphasis on the gross) and was more of a slow burning horror film that delves a lot into the character relationship rather than just going for the throat which is also does quiet well.

The story revolves around Oskar, a swedish boy who one night meets another neighborhood kid named Eli. Eli is a quiet girl who also happens to be a neck sucking vampire hell beast, but in a kind and thoughtful way. When Oskar isn’t making modular furniture, he’s bullied by kids at school but fortunately his new girlfriend can remove their head with a good right hook and also clean up the mess afterwards. Oh if only I had dated Eli in highschool and I could have avoided all those times stuffed in a locker smelling like a gym bag. The atmosphere in this one is bleak and while the acts of Eli are horrifying you’ll find it difficult not to sympathize with her and the relationship these two have. A good story about growing up and how it can be a pain in the neck..literally. Retroman says check it out.

Drive-in Dan gives his top 5.

1. Night of the Demons

Don’t bother to RSVP for the upcoming remake, and just check out director Kevin Tenney’s horror classic from the 80’s.  You are invited for a get-together at Hull House on Halloween night, so don’t forget to dress up in your favorite costume. Your sexy hostess for the night will be Angela.  But there’s one thing that I should tell you about her: she’s a demon in disguise who has a taste for human souls.  And word has it that she steals souls by kissing.  So if she tries to give you a smooch, just play it safe and go with a handshake instead.  This is a great film to watch on Halloween.  For starters it takes place on the spookiest night of the year.  Then there is the eerie animated opening title sequence that sets the mood for the whole movie.  And I can’t forget to mention a couple of freaky visuals like a possessed Angela floating down the hallway looking for more victims, and scream queen, Linnea Quiggley, doing a magic trick involving a tube of lipstick.  Plus, the director’s brother, Dennis Michael Tenney, contributes a great electro-synth soundtrack that gives what’s happening onscreen another layer of creepiness. Read a full review here.

2. Lighting Bug

Green Graves (sounds like a tv horror host) is a young makeup effects prodigy who creates thrills and chills using clay and latex.  Unfortunately he’s stuck in a pint-sized town filled with small-minded people who don’t recognize or appreciate his creative abilities.  However, things start to look up for Green when he lands his dream gig designing and creating nightmarish creatures and effects at the “Spook House”, a local haunted house attraction where he lives.  Shortly thereafter he meets his first love, Angevin (Laura Prepon), who works at a video store and shares his passion for horror movies.  But soon he is faced with real-life monsters (an abusive stepfather, and a religious nutjob) who are more teriffying than any of his made-up creations and stand in the way of his becoming a makeup effects star in Hollywood.  Will Green survive small town life, or will the misguided townsfolk crush his childhood dream?  I won’t say what happens; you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.  Director and accomplished special effects artist Robert Hall (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) really succeeds in making a heartfelt masterpiece that is at times funny, and at others very distrubing, with his first trip behind the camera.  And from what I’ve read, some of the events in this movie may have been based on Hall’s real life.  This movie does for small towns what “Jaws” did for public beaches.

3. Phantasm

A teenager named Mike discovers that something very distrubing is happening over at the local mortuary, and it’s not how much they are charging for funerals.  Turns out a towering and mysterious figure with Dracula’s sense of style called the Tall Man is snatching the town’s dead from their graves, and turning them into hoodie-wearing half-pints of terror in a desparate attempt to supply workers for the Red Planet he calls home.  Now there has to be a better way to find employees…  Hasn’t this guy ever heard of Manpower?  Anyway, to help carry out his diabolical scheme, the evil undertaker has a floating Christmas tree ornament gone wild that is armed like a Swiss Army Knife and will kill anyone who tries to stop him.  Director Don Coscarelli and actor Reggie Bannister, who stars as the heroic, balding ice cream vendor–also named Reggie, became instant celebrities among horror fans after doing this film.  And Angus Scrimm’s onscreen presence and bone-chilling peformance as the Tall Man makes him one of the most original and creepiest horror villians ever.  A word of warning, though: don’t try to figure out the plot because you’ll probably give yourself an anneurism trying to make sense of what’s happening on screen.

4. Warlock

A time traveling Warlock (Julian Sands) racks up some serious frequent flyer miles trying to track down a puzzle book for his daddy, the Devil, that supposedly contains God’s true identity.  He needs the Big Guy’s real name so that he can undo all of his hard work.  You know that whole “creation” thing.  But Warlock better hurry up and find the book because a 16th century bounty hunter has followed him to the future, and it’s not to tell him that he just saved 200 pounds on his sorcerer’s insurance by switching to Geico.  Now, I don’t understand why the Wiz didn’t just wait and get a copy of the book off of eBay, or from a rare/used bookstore; he could have saved himself a lot of trouble.  The movie contains some cheesy goodness in the effects department; features a dark and campy performance by Julian Sands in the title role; and an effective music score by the late Jerry Goldsmith.  Steve Miner, who directed “Friday the 13th” parts 2 and 3 creates a fun little horror movie with a supernatural theme that should get you in the Hallowen spirit.

5. Nightmare on Elmstreet 3: Dream Warriors

Finally–a sequel that won’t divide the horror community.  Most fans will agree that this installment is as good as the original, or even better.  Wes Craven comes aboard to co-write the script, bringing the series back to its roots, and as a result helps to create one of my favorite ‘Nightmare on Elm Street” sequels and horror movies in general.  The story has Freddy, the man of your nightmares, taking care of some unfinished business by going after the last remaining Springwood children.  But things won’t be so easy for Mr. Burnt Cheeseface because the group of teens are at a pysch ward (Westin Hills), and they have the power to use their imaginations to become Dream Warriors.  Fans will be happy to know that Nancy from the original ‘Nightmare on Elm Street” returns, but can she and the kids finally put Freddy to sleep for good, or will he channel their inner demons and get the best of them?  This installment features creative dream sequences like the one where Kreuger rips a guy’s arteries out and controls him like a puppet.  “Nightmare on Elm Street 3” does deliver some laughs as the scarred and crispy one shows his sense of humor by saying some hilarously dark one-liners, but don’t worry–he doesn’t do a stand-up routine like he does in later films.

UK readers can pick up a cheap DVD player from Tesco Direct to watch these top 5 Halloween films.