Monday, 24 June 2024

Halloween brings out a cornucopia of fright programs on TV

Halloween is not just for kids dressing up and knocking on doors for candy. This is the time for anyone willing to enjoy the scary thrills of series and movies on television and streaming services.

The Turner Classic Movie channel has been showing an abundance of Creepy Cinema for the whole month, but it is Halloween day when all the chills and frights are going to be released for a 48-hour Terror-thon – 31 films with the most fear-inducing stories.

The early 1930s was indeed a golden age of great horror and monster movies. Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle struck gold for his struggling studio by adapting classic Victorian novels into cheaply made, but enormously popular horror films.

One of the first and best was the original “Frankenstein” (1931). Colin Clive plays Dr. Henry Frankenstein, the mad scientist obsessed with bringing people back from the dead.

Frankenstein manages to assemble a being made entirely of human body parts who then comes to life as a homicidal maniac set on killing his creator. The ensuing sequences are as terrifying today as they were over 90 years ago.

Boris Karloff gives one of the most chilling performances in all of film as the monster, a role he would recreate in two equally frightening sequels, “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and “House of Frankenstein” 1944.

Mel Brooks’ 1974 “Young Frankenstein” is a classic in the genre, even though it is a comedy, and it would be nice to find it on a streaming service. Peter Boyle could not be any better as the tap-dancing monster.

Gene Wilder’s Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is a treat as the American grandson of the infamous scientist ending up in Transylvania, where he discovers the process to reanimate a dead body that goes all kind of wrong.

As its title suggests, Tod Browning’s “Freaks” (1932) is like nothing else you’ve ever seen. This peculiar film tells the story of a group of sideshow performers in a seedy carnival.

Olga Baclanova plays a scheming trapeze artist set on stealing a small inheritance from one of the little people performers, played by Harry Earles of the famous Dancing Dolls.

Drawing on his own experience as a carny and circus performer, Browning made the wise, though risky decision of casting the film with real sideshow performers; people
with real physical disabilities, including conjoined twins and amputees.

The aptly-named “Freaks” is a bizarre and gritty film with the kind of stark realism that is highly unlikely to be made by any major studio in today’s world. Imagine the controversy it would generate.

Fans of the anthology series from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk will find four intriguing episodes of “American Horror Stories” third season having premiered on Hulu on October 26 that is being promoted as a Halloween extravaganza.

While some of the stories tie back to the main series, others provide distinct horror tales by interconnecting storylines from earlier seasons. Watching the horror anthology series FX’s “American Horror Story Four-Episode Huluween Event” on Hulu should do the trick.

On Hulu and Disney+, “Goosebumps” is a horror comedy series developed by Nicholas Stoller and Rob Letterman based on the popular book of the same name by R.L. Stine. The series stars Justin Long and Rachael Harris.

In the “Goosebumps” series, a group of high school students embark on a journey to investigate the tragic death of a teenager named Harold Biddle. While unearthing dark secrets surrounding the mystery, they unwittingly unleash supernatural forces on their town.

Notwithstanding their personal issues and rivalries, the teenagers must all work together to finish what they started. In doing so, they begin to learn more about their families’ secrets, which eventually leads to the answers to their questions.

AMC Networks’ annual “FearFest” is whipping up scares that started the beginning of the month, and every week AMC+ and Shudder have rolled out a new horror movie which began with the fan favorite “V/H/S” franchise.

“V/H/S/85,” the next installment in the infamous found footage anthology series, is an ominous mixtape blending never-before-seen snuff footage with nightmarish newscasts and home video to create a surreal mashup of the forgotten Eighties.

In the Shudder Original “The Puppetman,” a convicted killer on death row maintains his innocence saying it was an evil force controlling his body as he slaughtered his victims.

The killer’s daughter begins to suspect that there may be some truth to her father’s claim when those around begin to die in brutal ways. All hope rests on her shoulders to break The Puppetman’s curse.

The night before Halloween brings “Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor,” wherein a group of cold case investigators stay at the Carmichael Manor, the site of the unsolved murder of the Carmichael family in the Eighties.

After four nights, the group was never heard from again. What is discovered in their footage is even more disturbing than anything found on the Hell House tapes. It seems Shudder lives up to its name for the frights of its Halloween films.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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