The GATE’s Top 10 Halloween Flicks: Extended Comments

by W. Andrew Powell


Bruce McDonald, Director – ‘The Tracey Fragments
ABOUT: Bruce McDonald is the Canadian film and television director who is best known for the hit 1996 film Hard Core Logo. His latest film, The Tracey Fragments stars Ellen Page and opens in select theatres on November 2.

Mark Rendall, Actor – ‘30 Days of Night
ABOUT: Since the age of 10 Mark has appeared in numerous film, TV and stage productions, including Don McKellar’s dark comedy Childstar, NBC’s mini-series Revelations, and can currently be seen in the film 30 Days of Night playing Josh Hartnet’s brother Jake.

Aaron Abrams, Co-Writer and Star – ‘Young People Fucking
ABOUT: Aaron has appeared in numerous television shows, including Kevin Hill, This Is Wonderland, Slings and Arrows, and Little Mosque on the Prairie. Not to mention a number of films. Currently, Aaron is shooting Flash of Genius opposite Alan Alda and Greg Kinnear. He added writer and producer to his resume over the last year with the film Young People Fucking which opens in theatres soon.

Mobsters bury their dead in a particular forest, then the dead come back as Zombies. Then time traveling Ninjas show up for some reason. It’s not ‘frightening’ per say, but it does have the undead and plenty of killing and if you enjoy saying ‘What the Fuck’ and ‘Holy Shit’ while you watch a movie – give this one a chance. Also, ‘Zombies versus Mobsters versus Ninjas’ is about as good a description of a movie you’re ever going to hear.

Pet Cemetery
Back when no one could figure out how to make a Stephen King novel into a good movie, this one slipped thru the cracks and did the job right. Mainly on the strength of a creepy cat performance and a creepy child performance. This kid makes The Grudge kid and The Ring kid look like The Karate Kid. Who, despite his knowledge of the martial arts, wasn’t really that scary.

Funny Games and Near Dark
Both these movies are very good and being remade in the near future. The trailer for the updated version of Funny Games (starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) is already online. So, if you like saying things like ‘It was okay… but did you see the original?’ – then check these movies out now before everyone knows about them.

Killer Tongue
I respect people who like to chill at home, turn off the lights and put on a legitimate creepy movie. But when I think of Halloween, I think of loud drunky times and funny outfits. This movie about a lady with a murderous tongue that kills, rapes and eventually begins talking (in a voice reminiscent of Harvey Fierstein) is like a sexier, stupider version of Evil Dead 2. Which compliments a loud, drunky Halloween night just fine.

Sleepaway Camp
This movie blew my mind when I was a kid. I think it’s the only time I ever screamed from a movie. If you’ve seen it, you already know the part where I yelped. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t ruin it for you, but holy fucking shit that chick had a dick.

Olivia Cheng, Actor – ‘The Rape of Nanking’
ABOUT: Originally from Edmonton, now living in Vancouver. fresh off the Emmy award winning series Broken Trail, she’ll be starring in the feature film docudrama about New York Times best-selling author Iris Chang, titled The Rape of Nanking.

Brigitte Kingsley, Actor and Producer – ‘Dark Rising
ABOUT: Brigitte has appeared in both TV and film and currently stars in Dark Rising which arrives on DVD on October 30. Brigitte will appear next in the film Medium Raw opposite John Rhys-Davies.

Karyn Dwyer, Actor – ‘Last Call Before Sunset’
ABOUT: Karyn is the star of stage, film and television and made her breakout appearance in the hit Better Than Chocolate. Karyn recently appeared on stage in Suffragette Koans at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank, CA.

Carly Pope, Actor – TV’s ‘Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon’, and ‘Young People Fucking
ABOUT: Originally from Vancouver now living in Los Angeles, currently shooting a TV series Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon, and soon to be seen in the film Young People Fucking.

Matt Austin, Filmmaker – ‘Words With’
ABOUT: Chosen by the National Post as one of their “Top 30 to Watch” for 2007, award-winning filmmaker Matt Austin recently completed a mini film series called Words With for Open Book: Toronto. The twenty guerrilla style interviews feature Canadian celebrities discussing Canadian culture, identity and literature and can be viewed at

Tony Wosk, Film Executive – Christal Films Distribution, Acquisitions
ABOUT: Instrumental in bringing films such as The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Civic Duty, Severance, and Young People Fucking to Canada.


Liana K., TV Host and Producer – Ed’s Night Party
ABOUT: Liana is the co-star and producer of the hit TV show Ed’s Night Party, is currently developing comic book and radio projects, and is addicted to video games and geek culture.

5. Evil Dead 1 & 2
I count these as one movie because there would be no Evil Dead 2 without Evil Dead, but Evil Dead was made for five cents, so the whole franchise really got going on Evil Dead 2, and this begat Army of Darkness. And this begat Evil Dead: The Musical. And it also begat Bruce Campbell becoming a B-Movie legend, and being the best frikkin’ part of every Spiderman movie!

4. Nightmare Before Christmas
This is Halloween… this is Halloween… Halloween Halloween… do I need to say more? Sure, it’s 90% art direction, 10% story, but that 90% art direction is mind blowing! Oogie Boogie 4evar!

3. Beetlejuice
Come on, who doesn’t love this movie? Remember when movies were fun eye candy and weren’t trying to win an Oscar? Remember when Winona Rider was sane? Remember when Michael Keaton was a household name? For that matter, remember when GEENA DAVIS was a household name? Memmmmmories….

2. Misery
Not only did it rightly make romance novels scary, but it made “Dirty Bird” an acceptable term among one’s cool friends. Plus, hobbling O_O. Probably one of Steven King’s best books, as well as the best movie adaptation of his work.

1. The Silence of the Lambs
Never mind my favourite Halloween movie, this is one of my favourite movies of all TIME! … okay it’s not a Halloween movie at ALL, really, but… IT’S ONE OF MY FAVOURITE MOVIES. OF. ALL.TIIMMMMMMME! In my books, it was the last truly great psychological thriller. So if you don’t like it, bite me with some fava beans and a nice chianti!

Alan Park, Actor – CBC’s ‘Air Farce Live
ABOUT: Alan Park is a cross between a stand-up comic and a sit-down satirist, whose weekly commentary on Air Farce is called “Not The Official Story”. He mocks reality and digs behind the headlines to find the vein of humour or the object of weird but witty attack.

Christopher Bolton, Actor, Writer, Creator and Executive Producer – ‘Rent-A-Goalie
ABOUT: Christopher Bolton is the executive producer, creator, writer and star of Gemini-nominated Rent-A-Goalie. Season 2 of Rent-A-Goalie premiers Sunday October 28th at 9:30pm on Showcase with back-to-back episodes.

Ken Murphy, Co-Founder and CEO – High Fidelity HDTV (Equator HD, Oasis HD, Treasure HD, Rush HD)
ABOUT: Among the many thousands of all HD programs they are buying from around the world, they now have the largest HD library of Giant Screen Films (IMAX) that air every Friday night on all four channels.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Eerily beautifully and charming atmospheric film balancing classic gothic kitsch with humour and pathos. Beside, who doesn’t want to see Frankie hooked up with a little cutie… (we’ve all had dates as scary)

It, The Terror From beyond Outer Space (1958)
Cheesy production values are overcome by this solid formula piece which inspired the Alien series of films from the 1980’s

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Creepy film which links our most basic instinct to fall asleep with going over to the dark side.

The Exorcist (1973)
Somewhat dated with leisure suits throughout… but it can still chill my spine.

The Keep (1983)
Love to see the nazis done in by no less than the devil himself.

John Panikkar, Co-Founder and COO – High Fidelity HDTV (Hubble’s Canvas, Ultimate Dream Day, Motivated, and Road Crews)
ABOUT: HiFi is busy producing a number of in-house HD productions: Hubble’s Canvas, Ultimate Dream Day, Motivated, and Road Crews.

5. The Blob (1958)
A classic for a variety of reasons but for me primarily as the primo example of the “horror” genre of the era.

4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
The one starring Gary Oldman because he’s the best vampire ever and the special effects are excellent (for the then-current day) and because he called himself “Dra KOOL ya”.

2. The Changeling
It made my friend and I dive for cover behind the row of theatre seats in front of us when the empty wheelchair suddenly turned abd chased the protagonist down two flights of stairs.

3. American Werewolf In London
Kitschy humour and hokey but somehow believable special effects.

1. The Exorcist
Sw it at an impressionable age and had nightmares for a week afterwards.


Rich Beddoe, Drummer – Finger Eleven
ABOUT: Rich and Finger Eleven have been together since 1994. The band released their latest album Them vs. You vs. Me earlier this year.

Buck 65, Musician
ABOUT: Buck 65 blends all manner of blues, country, rock, and folk music together with the style of an avant garde MC. His latest CD, Situation, arrives in stores on October 30.

Billy Bottom, Lead Vocals – Nights Like These
ABOUT: Nights Like These is a Memphis-born band on Victory Records. Their latest CD is called Sunlight At Secondhand.

Katie B., Singer
ABOUT: Katie is a singer/songwriter currently working on her latest project.


Peter Howell, Writer – The Toronto Star
ABOUT: Peter is a film columnist with one of Canada’s biggest newspapers, the Toronto Star.

Drew Curtis, Creator –
ABOUT: Drew created the insanely popular news agreggator website in 1999 and has been the go-to man for opinion on the net ever since.

From Dusk til Dawn
This isn’t a particularly scary movie, but it’s a lot of fun to show to people that haven’t seen it before and don’t know what happens in the middle (highly recommended if you have no idea what I’m talking about). Plus it’s got Selma Hayek in a bikini. So even if you hate it there’s something to look forward to. Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney are main characters, if you like them you’ll like this movie.

Army of Darkness
This is a great example of what happens when a movie team realizes no one watched the first or second movie of the trilogy and just gets silly. There’s undead stuff in it, that’s about it. A classic with many quotable lines that you can use on friends in the bar later.

Shaun of the Dead
I lived in England for a year, I completely sympathize with the need to go to the pub regardless of how many zombies there are between me and it.

Shadow of the VampireNosferatu
Nosferatu is an old silent movie loosely based off of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I say loosely because the producer couldn’t get the rights from the Stoker family so he basically renamed everything in the Dracula legend and did an extremely similar movie. Instead of Dracula his vampire was named Nosferatu, played by some random Czech actor that he found from who knows where (probably Czechoslovakia but what do I know).

Shadow of the Vampire is a movie made around 2000 that postulates what if the guy who played the vampire in Nosferatu actually was a vampire?

Things go downhill when it’s revealed that in order to get Nosferatu to act in the movie the director had to promise that he could kill some of the cast and crew. It goes from bad to worse when Nosferatu takes a liking to the lead actress and the film isn’t done shooting yet. It’s a great movie and like the other movies I’ve recommended there’s an element of humor in it, in particular the director being more worried that he won’t be able to finish the film than he is about Nosferatu actually killing people working on the movie. Willem Dafoe plays Nosferatu and was nominated for an Oscar for his performance.

What I recommend doing is watch Shadow of the Vampire, THEN break out Nosferatu and watch it as a followup. You can see where the idea for Shadow of the Vampire came from, the actor who plays the vampire could believably be one. Nosferatu isn’t particularly scary by modern standards but it starts getting to you toward the end, in particular when Nosferatu starts killing off an entire town one by one and they write it off as an outbreak of the plague. Good times.

Christopher Heard, Author, Film Critic, TV Producer and GATE Writer
ABOUT: Christopher’s career grew out of a lifetime love of movie history & culture. His first screenplay was optioned at 21, he wrote a twice weekly movie column in a local newspaper that lead to a long, Gemini Award winning stint on the CBC show On The Arts and the creation and co-hosting role on Reel to Real for nine years. Since then Christopher has written books on a number of filmmakers, including Johnny Depp, and currently hosts, writes and co-produces two shows for iChannel.

5. Island of Terror – 1966
This is another holdover from my childhood – I remember first seeing this with my dad when I was just small on TV and it was so creepy it never left me. Set on a small island off of Wales there is a sudden infestation of weird slimy turtle like creatures with tentacles that suck the bones from victims leaving them a pile of clothed gelatin. This is all as a result of a lab experiment having to do with radiation treatments gone wrong and the simple farming community on the island is terrorized as these things just keeping multiply and multiplying all around them. This film starred old Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing and was directed by another Hammer vet Terence Fisher so it has that kind of Hammer sensibility (meaning even though the plot and the creatures are silly, the writing sounds like it was trying to be Shakespeare). This is another example of why if you are a young horror filmmaker out there and are stuck for an idea – just go the isolationist route – it never fails.

4. The Exorcist – 1973
This is an intelligent horror film that aims for the scares a few layers deeper than most horror movies tend to strive for. William Friedkin’s landmark horror (until Silence of the Lambs, which is a debatable entry in the horror category) was one of the few flat out horror movies to earn major Oscar nominations. This film deals not only in stark visual terms with demonic possession but also with the themes of lost faith, and the physical manifestation of psychosis. This one is a classic because of its resonance – you cannot not think about if long after the final credits role.

3. The Thing (From Another World) – 1951
For some reason a lot of film folk credit Howard Hawks with making this movie – the tag line from the film actually reads “Howard Hawks astounding movie…” but Hawks just produced it, Christian Nyby directed it. It is the classic fifties red-scare, commie-under-every-bed paranoia – a remote Arctic Air Force outpost is terrorized by a bloodthirsty “alien” they have inadvertently dug up from his ice-encased space ship. Of course this alien is described as wearing a… red suit. This is a creepy movie – this is one of the finest examples of isolationist horror you will see.

2. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – 1948
Since I was a small kid I have loved this movie – and my appreciation for it grew as I did. Abbott and Costello were masters of both physical comedy and word play and what they did with this film was treat this like a legitimate Universal horror film that they had just stumbled into – the traditions were all respected down to the letter – Lugosi played Dracula, Lon Chaney Jr. played The Wolf Man and Glenn Strange played the Frankenstein monster (he did it in the Universal horrors after Karloff stepped down). My favourite line –
Bud: “You know that Dracula doesn’t really exist and I know that Dracula doesn’t really exits.”
Lou: “Yes, but does Dracula know it?”

1. Halloween – 1978
To me this John Carpenter breakout film is an unqualified classic of the genre – shot in 20 days on a budget of just under $300,000 the film manages to be genuinely scary without succumbing to genre clichés. You have a bogey man that you never really see, you have victims that are innocent and vulnerable and as in all good horror movies, everyone in the film is seen to be taking it absolutely seriously which makes it much easier for the audience to do the same.

Chris Alexander, Writer, Film Critic, Radio Film Guy –
ABOUT: Chris is probably best known for his dealings, and boxing experience, with filmmaker Uwe Boll. Chris recently joined the ranks of horror magazine

5. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
John Landis’s deft balance of abusrdity (not comedy as many have claimed) and balls out horror is one of the best werewolf films ever made and is pretty much the apex of the genre. Rick Baker’s astonishing special effects highlight this melancholy, sharply observed, kinky and highly entertaining study of a man (a dynamite David Naughton) who refuses to believe he’s been marked by the devil. And Jenny Agutter gets naked. Yum. Fuck the sequel, by the way. It blows.

4. Silent Hill (2006)
Damn the imagination stunted fools who can’t recognize Christophe Gans’s flawed but fascinating nightmare logic epic for the work of art that it is. Based on the popular videogame, a woman goes searching for her lost daughter in the ghost town of Silent Hill and is immediately swallowed up in its foggy clutches. Saturated with freeform surrealist imagery, this is truly an amazing underrated film that requires multiple viewings.

3. Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Forget the silly TV show or the sillier films that followed, this vintage UK anthology horror masterpiece (directed by Oscar winning cinematographer Freddie Francis) is a towering horror classic. Five tales adapted from the pulp pages of the notorious 1950’s Bill Gaines EC comic are brought to life for the Coronation Street set. Trust me, that’s a good thing.

2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
George A. Romero makes social satires pretending to be horror films and with Dawn of the Dead the act was bang on. Tom Savini’s vomitous prosthetic gore effects add heft to a bleak, funny and terrifying vision of America gone to hell, led by an army of confused, fumbling, relentless flesh eating zombies. A perfect movie.

1. Angel Heart (1987)
Alan Parker’s haunting, dreamlike mash up of vintage film noir and skin crawling existential, theological horror is a true blue unsung masterpiece. Mickey Rourke has never been better and DeNiro channels Scorcese as the mysterious Louis Cyphre (say it fast). My favorite movie and a must see.

Justin Olivetti, Writer and Film Critic – Mutant Reviewers!
ABOUT: Justin is one of the creators of Mutant Reviewers From Hell, an off-beat site devoted to indie and cult classics.

W. Andrew Powell, Writer and GATEkeeper – The GATE
ABOUT: The “brain” behind the operations, Andrew came up for the idea for The GATE in 1999 as an off-beat vehicle for his love of music, movies, TV, and all things entertainment. Andrew designed the site, sells ad space, writes extensively, and also enjoys being The GATE’s main photographer. A “Jack of all Trades”, Andrew is also striving to publish a novel some day soon.

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