As we enter the home stretch of 31 Days of Halloween here on THE ROCK FATHER, we’re also in the biggest week for spooktacular viewing for the whole family. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, once a month I highlight some hand-picked selections, chosen for you right here at Rock Father HQ. From television terror to sinful cinema, there’s plenty of devilish delights for this pun-fully eerie time of year. So pour the kids some hot apple cider, crack open a pumpkin beer for yourself, and sit back for these terrifying tricks and terrific treats!
Top Pick – SCOOBY-DOO: MYSTERY INCORPORATED
It only ran for two years, but this former Cartoon Network update of SCOOBY-DOO brought forth 52-episodes of ghostly goodness that captured the vibe of the original series, while coming off a whole lot smarter and even somewhat linking to it’s first incarnation. While the kids won’t catch the connections that grownups may recall, adults will also dig plenty of cool nods to a variety of horror films like the SAW franchise, and even Michael Jackson’s THRILLER.
Top Pick – KNIGHT RIDER – “Halloween Knight” (October 28, 1984) & “Fright Knight” (March 7, 1986)
One of my favorite television series’ of all-time, even KNIGHT RIDER caught the horror bug on occasion, with one proper Halloween episode in ’84, and one that should’ve been a Halloween episode as part of the final season in ’86 (where several episodes were aired out-of-order). While the latter featured Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) as a “phantom” in a fairly Scooby-Doo-esque plot involving the filming of a movie (even climaxing at the JAWS attraction of Universal Studios), it’s the former that’s the big winner. “Halloween Knight” is a straight-up homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, complete with a guy named “Norman Baines” performed by Anthony Perkins’ own stunt double, Kurt Paul. They visit the PSYCHO house, include a bit of the music, and there’s even more Universal Easter Eggs like the inclusion of a Silver Shamrock pumpkin mask from one of my favorite seasonal films, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH.
Top Pick – AMAZING STORIES (1985-1986)
When this Steven Spielberg-produced series ran on NBC in the mid-80s, I was captivated. Like THE TWILIGHT ZONE before it, this anthology featured stand-alone episodes with an otherworldly bent – like the series-starting “Ghost Train.” While the entire series is essential viewing, “Welcome to My Nightmare” and “The Pumpkin Competition” are pretty appropriate for this week.
Bonus: “Remote Control Man” featured a bunch of NBC TV cameos, including K.I.T.T. from KNIGHT RIDER (see above).
The first arrival of Doug Bradley as “Pinhead” is legendary at this point, but there’s a personal connection to this film for me. HELLRAISER launched the career of actress Ashley Laurence as “Kirsty Cotton,” and nearly 25 years later, I directed her in THE UNHOLY MANIPULATOR (featured here) with Product of Hate. HELLRAISER is still a must-watch each Fall.
Nickelodeon Movies didn’t do well with this one when it hit theaters (sidebar: some friends of mine built the chicken), but it actually does a really great job of capturing the feeling of what Halloween in the Midwest used to be like – in the early scenes. The story follows “feisty teenager” Wren (Victoria Justice) after she loses her kid brother (dressed as Spider-man) on Halloween and she joins forces with friends to hunt him down. The supporting cast including Johnny Knoxville and Chelsea Handler is solid.
A fantastic documentary that goes behind-the-scenes of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, featuring extensive interviews with the cast and crew.
Just before the remake/reboot of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET arrived, this documentary took it back time to where it all began. Here we join actress Heather Langenkamp for a rare journey down Elm Street, with film clips, rare photos, storyboards, and more treasures from the entire series.