Bloody Mary and dead Laura Palmer get into a taxi. No, really, this isn’t the start of some weird joke. My flatmate and I decided against our better judgement to dress up for Halloween, staying up until 8am to attend the Tyneside Cinema’s Halloween Cult Classic All-Nighter on Saturday 29th October.
At only £1 per ticket, it’s a bargain, and a great excuse to watch the classics you’ve never gotten around to seeing. The choices this year were tough, being made up solely of spooky-season-appropriate films; hence yours truly had to hope their nightmares wouldn’t be too traumatic post-viewing.
First up, Alien. Considering I’d only seen this film on a laptop doing A Level coursework, it’s unsurprising I found Cameron’s action-orientated sequel more engaging. Not that I disliked the original, but most of the film’s plot was spoiled for me, so the majority of frights left me unfazed. On the big screen though? Well, that’s a different story. Not only do both the set design and cinematography look stunning, but our titular antagonist is far more menacing when enlarged on a cinema screen. Of course, it’s evidently a man in a suit, but H. R. Giger’s Xenomorph still impresses nearly 40 years on, and Alien’s third act firmly cements its status as cinema’s greatest sci-fi horror. Poor Jones the Cat.
“An American Werewolf in London was nothing like I expected – but in the best way, it’s more a dark comedy than horror”
Second on our list was An American Werewolf in London. Admittedly, this film was nothing like I expected – but in the best way. It’s honestly not a horror, but more of a dark comedy; I mean, it does essentially boil down to a bunch of corpses telling poor David to kill himself for the entire movie. But it’s this twisted humour, killer soundtrack, and sharp script that make the film so likeable, not to mention Rick Baker’s iconic make-up effects that make this the highest production value I’ve ever seen in a comedy. What more can I say? It’ll leave you howling (and quoting “Fuck off Jack!” at every available opportunity).
My most anticipated screening was A Nightmare on Elm Street. Despite choosing it for being hyperbolically goofy, I was surprised at just how little it frightened me. Freddy Krueger is simply not scary; heck, he has wacky expendable arms in the first full appearance. The film’s concept however is undoubtedly ingenious, paired with an addictively unsettling main theme, and a badass protagonist, Nancy. Seriously, why does nobody talk about her? She’s smart, brave, assertive – yet the most iconic image of her is Freddy trying to grab her who-ha in the bath. Regardless, she’s definitely a future Halloween costume for me, and despite all its flaws, Nightmare is a true Halloween movie in every sense of the word.
“Alien’s titular antagonist is far more menacing when enlarged on a cinema screen”
Last, and most certainly least, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. At this point, our costumes are falling apart, drunk attendees have joined us after their night out, and my Monster energy drink is all but a distant memory. And what do we get? A pretentious romance that sucks the life out of its source material, and Keanu Reeves giving the worst performance of his life. I was flabbergasted at how many consider this a gothic masterpiece, especially considering Francis Ford Coppola’s previous ventures out of typecast being… well, shit. I mean, sure, it has some interesting aesthetics and creative editing (somehow enough to earn 78% on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s even goofier than Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 from Outer Space. A rather dead ending to an overall fantastic night of freaky films.