From the Coast: What to Watch on Halloween
There’s nothing better than a Halloween-themed movie marathon — which usually means queueing up a set of scary favorites with some friends, making some popcorn, and settling in to be frightened.
At the Coast, we are big into Halloween and each have some excellent recommendations for what to watch this Halloween.
Sometimes we love films because we have the perfect viewing experience. I watched Malignant cozied up on the living room sofa with some friends and having a few beers. Now, I'm not saying the beers affected my viewing experience, but they do go perfectly with a film like Malignant.
Malignant is the kind of horror film that doesn't get made anymore. It's big, bonkers and, at moments, hilarious. It made me feel the same joy that I only get watching campy 70s and 80s horror movies and I think that's completely intentional on behalf of director James Wan.
I can't say I love all of Wan's work, but this made me respect him so much more as a filmmaker. There's such a love for the genre here and a bat-shit third act that had me and my friends laughing and horrified in equal measure. I recommended going in as blind as you can and just enjoy this incredibly fun horror romp.
Watch Malignant on HBO Max, Sky, or Now TV.
Do yourself a favour and watch Ghostwatch this Halloween. Originally airing on the BBC in 1992, Ghostwatch was presented as a live-event following the supposed haunting of a house in Fox Hill Drive, London. Upon airing, the BBC received over 30,000 complaints from scared viewers across the UK and hasn't been aired on the channel since!
Although actually pre-recorded, my favourite part about Ghostwatch is its commitment to the format - the found footage / live broadcast presentation was way ahead of its time and still holds up today. This format also stops it feeling like a traditional film narrative, instead of waiting for a jumpscare, you're looking in the corners - waiting for a figure or movement of any kind.
What's also timeless is how scary Ghostwatch is - the presentation thrives off what it doesn't show you; stories about the poltergeist 'Mr. Pipes' and the streets' violent history create this underlying sense of dread to the whole production.
Ghostwatch has become a bit of a tradition of my Halloween and I implore you to make it one of yours too.
Watch Ghostwatch on the Internet Archive.
A new Halloween favourite for me this year has been Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. Based on 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' a gothic story by Washington Irving, the film sees Ichabod Crane, a police detective played by Johnny Depp, sent to a small American town to investigate a series of beheadings.
The film is set in 1799 and released in 1999 with a star studded cast including Christopher Lee, Michael Gambon and Christina Ricci. The best part of the film however is the artistic vision: the props are impeccable, the campy gothic setting is wonderful and the costumes are to die for.
Tim Burton doesn't miss a trick with the dark fairytale direction making this feel my favourite feel good Halloween binge of 2022, having watched it twice this October already.
Luca Guadagnino’s was the first film I saw in theaters where members of the audience walked out during the screening; this movie is definitely not for the faint of heart because body horror abounds. Although it is a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic, it is more apt to call Guadagnino’s take on this lore a reimagining of the witchy dance school and experiences of Susie Bannion.
Suspiria is an atmospheric nightmare relying on the feeling that something sinister is afoot in the German dance school. It features incredible (and creepy) choreography with stellar performances from Dakota Johnson as the lead and Tilda Swinton in three roles. For fans of X and Pearl, you’ll also get to see the illustrious Mia Goth in one of her early horror roles.
Even though the runtime is long, it’s hard to take your eyes off of the screen because of Guadagnino’s unparalleled skill in building up absolute terror until it reaches a breaking point. Suspiria excels with its slow, meditative qualities — and might even have you covering your eyes.
Watch Suspiria (2018) on Prime Video.
Slumber Party Massacre II
Before you ask “Don’t I need to watch Slumber Party Massacre (1982) to fully appreciate the next steps in this seminal franchise of horror artistry?” I can tell you the answer is absolutely not.
Slumber Party Massacre II is the sequel to Slumber Party Massacre, but don’t fret that you will be lost because SPMII does the viewer a great service by just summarizing the events of the first film before unleashing its what-the-fuck-is-happening greatness on unsuspecting audiences. This is a perfect late night delirium film, complete with a knockoff Danny Zuko who murders people with a guitar that has a drill bit on the end, multiple musical numbers, and one of the best scenes including a birthday cake and dismembered limb in cinematic history.
The film is definitely a product of its time and falls nicely in line with other b-movie greats like Chopping Mall or Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (they really liked malls back then). I’ve often considered this film an “experience” for the audience, rather than something to sit with and meditate on — so enjoy the ride and don’t be afraid to get up and dance or yell at the TV like it’s a football game.
Watch Slumber Party Massacre II on Shudder, Tubi (US), or Prime Video (UK).