Halloween Is Here: New To Me Horror Movies

My sister and I have been watching new to us horror movies throughout the month of October, to prepare for today. That’s right, it’s finally Halloween. Most of the films have been from the 80’s, and even though we’re millennials, we love films from that decade. A few are from the 70’s as well. Here’s some recommendations for tonight.

Night of the Creeps (1986)
Maniac Cop (1988)
Intruder (1989)
Graduation Day (1981)
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
Blood Rage (1987)
The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)
The Prowler (1981)
Final Exam (1981)
The Burning (1981)
Cheerleader Camp (1988)
Home Sweet Home (1981)

April Fool’s Day (1986)

Maniac (1980)

Terror Train (1980)

The Initiation (1984)

The Children (1980)

Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Any of these films are worth watching, but this list is way too long to finish tonight. So I’ll highlight three films for now.

April Fool‘s Day (1986).

For anyone seeking out a less gory movie, this one’s for you. With a group of college kids that represent the 80’s type characters we always think of, the film follows some young people while on vacation. They are staying at an isolated house on an island. They prank each other over and over, but things quickly go wrong, and it appears murder is in the air. Despite being released all the way back in the 80’s some qualities about these college kids feels so familiar, at least to my experience as someone who graduated at age 23 back in 2016. One example is that there’s always an artistic person with a camera. I imagine these characters spirits live on through current late teens and early 20 somethings. Trust me it happens, no matter how different each generation thinks they are.

I can’t really say too much without giving the plot away, but this movie has a twist I didn’t expect, but it makes sense. It’s more lighthearted, and has a really fun vibe, while also being a horror movie. One of the characters is also portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson, who played various Tannen’s in the Back to the Future movies (1985-1989). I recommend this movie for anyone who wanted to see The Breakfast Club (1985) or St. Elmo’s Fire (1985) as a horror movie. I also recommend this movie for anyone who likes Clue (1985).

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

This film features a couple moving from NYC to Connecticut. I’m not really sure on their age. The woman playing Jessica was in her 30’s at the time, while the guy playing her husband was middle aged. It could be an age gap couple, or he could be playing younger.

Soon enough things get spooky, as Jessica isn’t sure if she is seeing ghosts or dealing with affects of her mental illness. I don’t think this spoils things too much, but I believe this is supposed to be a vampire story. The old men in town, that one character comments are leftover from the civil war, are probably vampires. It makes more sense once you watch the film.

My sister and I are from Connecticut, not the part shown in the film, but it’s a small state, so we’ve probably been through those areas at least once. The cinematography is beautiful, and even during scary scenes I can’t help but notice the beautiful setting. Even though this Connecticut is way before my time (born in 1993), I feel like I’ve met these characters. A lot of older adults grew up in cities and moved to the suburbs, or the country as shown in this film. This movie is about my grandparents generation. On my Mom’s side they left a Connecticut city called New Haven for the smaller city of Milford. Plenty of other adults I knew growing up, from my grandparents and parents generation, had moved from other Connecticut cities and New York like the characters.

The film shows the end of the hippy 60’s, and the beginning of what is supposed to be a more serious time, even if I think of the 70’s as one giant disco party. It’s a film for anyone who feels like they need to make a change in their life to become a real adult. It covers the worry that a new setting won’t change internal struggles.

I recommend this film for anyone who liked another 70’s ghost film called Night of Dark Shadows (1971). It also features a big house in the middle of nowhere, and the vibe of both movies is very similar.

Maniac (1980)

A low budget thriller that does a lot with it’s minimal resources. Set in New York City, the gritty one of decades past, this film is like a combination of Psycho (1960) and Taxi Driver (1976). The film follows a middle aged man named Frank Zito, with an odd apartment and murderous deeds. He’s a serial killer, but now he’s met a women named Anna, who he actually might want to spend time with. For those of us who never saw this time in New York, it’s fun to recognize parts of the city, even if certain things have closed and been replaced. To keep this family friendly, one vague example is some women being near a theater at the bottom of Times Square that has been replaced by an office building. I’m a tourist from Connecticut, born in 1993, but somehow I still new exactly where they were. The city can always call you back I guess. Even if it’s changed significantly.

SPOILERS NEXT. STOP AND COME BACK LATER IF YOU WANT TO WATCH THE FILM FIRST. SPOILERS NOW.

SPOILERS: So this is either for after you have finished the movie, or people who love to interpret films. The ending is one of those “What really happened?” endings. I don’t think our killer Frank, was actually doing any of these things. At the end of the film our supposed killer was attacked by his odd mannequin collection the night before, but when they did so they were human beings. The cops who find him don’t seem like real cops to me, but more like artistic types. The dead body is clearly dead from suicide, since the mannequins are back to being fake. When the cops leave Frank’s eyes shoot open. This left me thinking that the killer was only doing a performance piece, or he has awful thoughts of murder and deals with it through art. His apartment seems more like a scene, than a place someone actually lives. I know that could also make it someone’s very real NYC apartment, but just hear me out. He meets a photographer named Anna, and explains to her that he is a painter. They begin to fall in love, but he gets her too. Nothing can change him. This all could have been scenes for an audience. Whether it was filmed or performed on stage.

One theory I have is that everything was fake, and Frank made an art piece featuring murder to deal with his traumatic childhood. The photographer he meets is supposed to represent when women think they can change a man, or be the one he loves for real. Frank’s character never gets over the abuse from his Mom, and so the photographer is attacked as well.

Another theory I had is that Frank is an extreme bachelor, and more of a serial dater. After each interaction with a woman he likes he fantasizes about murdering them, but because of his Catholic background he fights the urge. Anyone of any background can do this, just to be clear, but his Catholic background is highlighted at the end of the film. He could act this out with his many dolls, or by painting, but we see it as if it really happened. When the cops leave, and Frank’s eyes open, it could either mean the scene has ended, or the dream has ended. The cops could be imaginary, just like the mannequins who try to kill Frank, or they could be hired actors for a scene.

The argument could be made in the opposite direction that Frank is a murderer, and then puts his awful tales into his art, but that’s not what I want to believe. I would however, love to hear your side of the story in the comments below.

END OF SPOILERS.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve seen any of these films, and what you’re watching tonight.

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About Katelyn The Journalist

Katelyn Avery is a Connecticut based writer, born in 1993. She graduated from Central Connecticut State University in May 2016. As someone who has enjoyed writing since childhood Katelyn is very excited to see where her passion will take her.
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