Halloween – October 31

A movie doesn’t have to be good to have a good trailer.

A movie with a great concept doesn’t have to be good- in fact there are many, many films that have great concepts or a lot of heart but don’t quite work.

I have always found potential in movies that probably didn’t deserve my affection – and sometimes that potential has been enough for me to pronounce a movie awesome. In fact some years ago an anonymous comment claiming to be from someone I had known in high school derided me for championing Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, as the person had apparently just seen it and it “sux”.

I did champion that movie a lot in my youth (saw it 3 times in the theater!) and I’m looking forward to the Director’s Cut (out on Blu from Scream Factory- if anyone is worried about what to get me for Christmas). Now I don’t really think of Nightbreed as a horror film, it is more a dark fantasy movie.

There is something fantastical about a lot of the trappings of Halloween. Ghost stories, spooky decorations, haunted houses…

I don’t mean the purported haunted house down the street with the overgrown yard and the curtained windows, or the infamous murder houses that become part of urban legends.

I mean Haunts, the professional (and pro-am) businesses that open every October, do business, and then disappear for a year.

When I was a kid, Haunts were something kids did- some guy in a Dracula cape with plastic fangs looming out of the shadows to “blah!” at you, or a rotting hand loudly hissing with hydraulics reaching through a plastic grate. The modern Haunts are much bigger deals. There is the Hollywood polish of Universal Studio’s PG-13 mazes and “scare-actors” leaping about in pig masks with chainsaws, or the more hard-R rated grand guignol splatterfests held in various downtown locations, or the living theater-type immersive hauntings… and even back-yard haunts that harken back to my youthful memories of plastic fangs and store-bought decorations writ large.

People seek out this fear, this electrical sort of excitement, and do so every year. They pay for it.

And in The Houses October Built, I’m guessing they pay for it.

I have read no good reviews of The Houses October Built. In fact, most are pretty dismissive of the movie as a whole.

I might never see the movie- but the trailer, that spooky masked girl, the ring of figures outside the Winnebago- that will stay with me.

I love the idea of this movie. There is something sinister, something scary, and something unnatural about seeking the “fun” fear of harmless haunts. And if you search too hard for the “ultimate” scare, something truly frightening will find you.

I will watch it if it shows up on Netflix, even if it is a Found Footage (bleh) movie.

Happy Halloween- I hope you find what you are looking for…

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