We’re midway through October and that means we’re in the full swing of horror movie season. Really any time of year is horror movie season, but it’s always the most fun in the days leading up to Halloween. Or “Nerdoween” if you’re us. But what movies to watch? There are plenty of choices on streaming, surely, but some of the best, spookiest, and downright weirdest movies are on physical media. Specialty distributors are pulling out all the stops this year and we have a breakdown of the best of the bunch. Here now are the best horror Blu-rays hitting shelves this October.
Hercules in the Haunted World
Mario Bava is maybe the most important, yet still underrated horror maestro. Without Bava, we wouldn’t have Argento or Del Toro or even George Romero. And while his giallo movies have gotten their propers in recent years, his Gothic horror films are where he really shone. He even brought that macabre, colorful artistry to his sole entry in the massively popular
Starring British bodybuilder Reg Park as Hercules and none other than Christopher Lee as his nemesis (a vampire, a sorcerer, or the Lord of the Underworld depending on which translation you watch). A super low-budget affair, Bava nevertheless gave us a really creepy and effective depiction of Hercules’ journey into Hades. The finale which finds him fighting a cadre of flying zombie-ghouls is particularly awesome.
The Blu-ray from Kino Lorber comes with the English version, the longer, re-edited Italian cut, and a British export version. You also get a commentary from the absolute authority on Mario Bava and European cinema fantastique, Tim Lucas.
I assume most people have seen
The Blu-ray’s special features offer a much deeper look at the movie and the sequels that followed than previous releases. Author David Kalat gives us a thoroughly researched commentary track about the origins of the movie and its source novel in addition to sequels. There is an interview with author and critic Kat Ellinger about Hideo Nakata’s career; author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas presents a video essay about the lengthy and complex
And despite what we in the U.S. call it, the movie’s called
One of the weirder slasher movies I’ve seen in quite a while,
It’s not the best slasher movie by any stretch but it’s weird and gory and sometimes that’s kind of all you need.
Two Evil Eyes
Horror collaborations were big in the 1980s and ’90s. From John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper’s team-up
Romero’s “The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar” finds Adrienne Barbeau (
Argento’s is “The Black Cat,” a particularly gruesome version of the Poe classic in which a sadistic crime scene photographer Rod (Harvey Keitel) who hates his girlfriend (Madeleine Potter)’s cat, who hates him right back. As their relationship begins to break down, Rod begins battle the cat and eventually kills it. And yet it keeps showing back up. He slowly goes crazy as he gets more and more dangerous, all with the police breathing down his neck.
Now this isn’t the best movie of either Romero or Argento, but each part does give us a lot of what each filmmaker did best. Romero with his social commentary and capitalism satire, and Argento with his look at depravity and supremely violent situations. It’s worth a look for fans of Poe, Romero, Argento, or Pittsburgh.
The “nunsploitation” genre is a weird one. They were big in Europe in the 1970s and usually focused on Catholic nuns in convents in the middle ages. Those movies generally tended toward the soft core or sexploitation and were basically mainstream fetish movies.
It’s a trip of a movie. Anita Ekberg plays Sister Gertrude, a nun working at a hospital. She just had brain surgery and spirals into drug addiction and psychosis when the Mother Superior urges her back to work quickly. In addition, Sister Gertrude begins a lesbian affair with a younger nun and begins to flirt with a handsome young doctor at the hospital. And then someone starts murdering people, and even Sister Gertrude isn’t sure if she’s guilty.
This was one of the infamous “Video Nasty” films in the UK in the ’80s and it’s definitely a weird one. But the score by Alessandro Alessandroni is one of the best in Italian genre cinema.
Watch Me When I Kill
More Italian movies! These gory thrillers from the ’70s are really having a Blu-ray renaissance lately and I couldn’t be more excited. This one, directed by Antonio Bido, finds a dancer who witnesses the slashing murder of a pharmacist. A cat-faced stalker begins pursuing her, and her boyfriend tries to solve it. The mystery goes all over the place, eventually leading to a World War II connection and a family of lunatics. It’s way better than its salacious title suggests.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
For whatever reason, there were a metric ton of horror TV movies in the 1970s. Some were better than others; one that people love is 1973’s
Warner Archive has released the film on Blu-ray and it looks marvelous. Guillermo del Toro produced a remake a few years back, but avoid that one.
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