In space, no one can hear you scream. In front of your TV, however, is a different story.
Directed by Ridley Scott, “Alien” follows a starship freighter on its trip back to Earth, when its crew is suddenly awoken by a mysterious signal from a passing planet.
The crew, featuring main character Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) descends onto the planet to investigate, but what they bring back will haunt them for the rest of their journey.
The freighter, where the movie takes place, is a masterwork of atmospheric terror. Lighting is sparse, corners are dark and the pipes that line the walls of every corridor drip and hiss at every turn. Ripley’s cat, Jonesy, also roams the spaceship in fear, hissing in surprise at nearby crewmates.
The structure of the ship provides a sense of false security, making it the perfect hunting ground for the alien.
One look at the Xenomorph alien tells you everything you need to know about it.
The creature’s eyeless face, slim figure, jet black skin and its twisted armor forces you to watch the corner of every scene.
The Alien can hide in every dark room, blend in with every jumble of pipes and wires, and slip through every vent.
For the viewer and the crew members who think themselves bold enough to face the creature, will find that its defenses are as horrifying as the alien itself.
As Ash (Ian Holm) said, “The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.”
All the while, you can’t help but wonder if the Alien draws near, silently slinking down the dark corridors, attracted by the noise.
It’s as if the movie doesn’t want you watching the characters but watching around every corner for them like your calls and warnings can be heard.
You know it must be lurking behind the boiler, or in the vent over as someone squeezes through. You may even call out to warn the helpless crewmates as they wander to their deaths.
But through your TV, just like space, no one can hear you scream.
In the Mouth of Madness
The human mind is a fragile, pitiful thing.
This idea is certainly a driving force in John Carpenter’s 1994 film, “In the Mouth of Madness.”
Inspired by the likes of authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, “In the Mouth of Madness” follows John Trent (Sam Niell), an insurance investigator tasked with investigating a claim by a publishing house in regards to horror novelist Sutter Cane’s (Jürgen Prochnow) disappearance.
In his investigation, Trent finds that Cane’s books have been driving readers to madness, becoming cult-like and violent in their appreciation of Cane’s books.
Trent also finds that the once fictional locations and people within the novels have appeared in the real world, leading to bizarre supernatural occurrences and monster sightings.
While all this sounds disturbing enough, Trent soon discovers that he is a character wrapped up in the middle of the plot Cane wrote about in his newest novel, “In the Mouth of Madness.”
Trent tries to fight against his predetermined destiny and actions in an attempt to break free from the story and return to his “normal” life while stopping the cult of Cane from growing.
As Cane’s influence continues to spread, Trent finds himself helpless to fight against the growing appeal.
What’s even worse, the book is being adapted into a movie.
Over the Garden Wall
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t really like horror movies but still wants to get into the Halloween spirit, “Over the Garden Wall” is just the movie for you.
Well, technically, it’s not a movie. It’s a 10-episode miniseries, but the runtime is about two hours, so you could easily watch it in one sitting.
“Over the Garden Wall” follows high-schooler Wirt and his younger brother Greg as they navigate a mysterious forest, trying to find their way back home on Halloween night.
The lands Wirt and Greg travel through are whimsical and strange, and they meet a whole host of friends and foes on the way.
The animation style is reminiscent of old cartoons, steeping the story in nostalgia.
The environments they find themselves in are beautifully rendered in autumn golds, greens and yellows.
The musical numbers vary in tone and style, but each time they wonderfully complement the events of the scene.
My favorite aspect of the show, however, is the characters.
Despite having a relatively brief runtime, we meet several people who live in the woods, chock full of distinctive traits and individual character arcs that subvert expectations.
“Over the Garden Wall” provides a haunting, melancholy watching experience perfect for a cozy fall night.
Even with my childhood being deprived of most classic Halloween flicks, one I did watch is still vivid in my memory.
“Monster House” released in 2006, is a very bizarre kids’ film that really hasn’t had something come close to its strangeness since its debut.
The movie centers on a house in a normal suburban neighborhood that is supposedly possessed.
Coupled with the angry old man living there who takes any item thrown over his fence, the house is a force that most neighbors know shouldn’t be reckoned with.
It isn’t until three kids stumble inside this monster house when they see what’s in store for them.
Characters in the movie aren’t too unique, but it is instead the visuals that always sparked my interest growing up. The 3D animation looks claymation-like, giving the setting a very creepy vibe.
Spoilers: The big reveal is that the house was actually being possessed by the old man’s dead wife who fell to her death when the house was being built, infusing her soul to the building.
Because of the possession, the house would distort to look somewhat like a face, which terrified me as a kid.
The implications that many residents who stepped foot on the property were eaten by the house made it even more menacing.
Its unique story and eerie visuals make “Monster House” a no brainer to watch around Halloween. With a PG rating, it’s got just the amount of frights any age can enjoy.