Now that it seems our world has totally collapsed and the life we knew has disappeared, maybe we should take some time out and celebrate a meaningless, silly-ass holiday where we get to pull some tricks and get some treats; That's right, folks, it's Halloween! Some of you are going to be out partying, but some of you might be manning the home front, handing out goodies to all the ghouls and guys in your neighborhood. Some of you might be home wondering if there's going to be anything good on TV (not likely!). So here's a list of some classic shockers that are spun around my catacombs on All Hallows Eve.

79 years ago, America faced the Great Depression, and today many fear we might be subjected to a similar fate. Let's hope not! In those far away days, the need for escapism was almost as essential as hot soup and bread. Born from this desperate era were genres of cinema that are still popular today, the gangster film and the horror film. With the sound motion picture taking front and center on the silver screen which was previously dominated by silent pictures, a new dimension was injected, to the movie goers delight. The real world was closing down, while the reel world became a couple of hours of pure relief from the realities of the day. Ah, if only cinema had that kind of effect in our world.

When I was a kid, Halloween was a big deal, and horror films and sci-fi shows were the staples of this holiday, which was and is my favorite. Dusk on October 31st was the time my amigos and I would venture out in our makeshift costumes with parents in tow (in case of accidents), looking for treats and maybe a trick or two. As I grew too old for costumes, there were spook shows at local theaters, featuring a live show and a couple of movies for a meager fee. But now with these movie houses taken over by multiplexes, and slasher flix the tone of the day, we must rely on home video for vintage Halloween fare. So here's a list of my happiest ghoulish and ghastly memories of Halloween film favorites.

Dracula Universal 1931 - this one has always been a special favorite, and I generally start All Hallows Eve with this Lugosi classic at dusk. It's the perfect time to view this masterpiece. Over the years, critics have taken pot shots at this flick, saying it was old, creaky, and has a hissy sound track, but that's it's charm. It's still a gas to watch Bela on the prowl at sundown, with a jack-o-lantern on the coffee table.

If you're in the mood for more vampires, Return of the Vampire also is one of Bela's best - a World War II tale complete with a cool werewolf to do Bela's bidding.

You can always check in with vampires from the U.K. with the superb Horror of Dracula or its indirect sequel The Brides of Dracula, not to mention Dracula, Prince of Darkness or Kiss of the Vampire.

Now, if you're up for biomechanical monsters, the original Frankenstein, which has been beautifully restored, is highly recommended, along with the two Karloff offerings, Bride of Frankenstein and The Son of Frankenstein. Hammer Films' 50s remake Curse of Frankenstein is a magnificent color rendering of Mary Shelley's famed fable. Also from Hammer is the equally potent Revenge of Frankenstein.

If you're in the mood for laughs with your shocks, check out Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and the rest of the A&C Meet the Monsters series.

If werewolves are to your taste, we recommend Werewolf of London, which is carried by a dynamic performance from Henry Hull, while Lon Chaney Jr.'s classic The Wolfman is sure to please your craving for wolfbane.

Some folks have a yen for Eastern intrigue, so the original Mummy with Boris Karloff might be your cup of tana leaf tea. While the rest of the series is B-movie fodder, they are still highly entertaining shows.

Now if ghosts are your thing, House on Haunted Hill starring the incomparable Vincent Price is sure to send shivers down your spine, and if more subtle spirits are your fare, The Haunting might be a good choice. The Legend of Hell House is another fright fest with those who dwell in the afterlife. Poltergeist the original, is chock full of thrills and chills, with a dynamite musical score as well as special effects, and a story that holds up. Too bad the two sequels don't! The Ghost Breakers with Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, and Richard Carlson is atmospherically spooky, with an ample amount of yuks to entertain the whole family.

Now, most self respecting ghosts need haunted houses to practice their craft, and old creaky houses have been a staple of fright films for decades. The house in The Bat Whispers (1930) is a creepy, dust filled abode without any real ghosts. The same holds true with Universal's 1932 production of The Old Dark House (1932), which has enough loonie residents to draw the ghosts out of the moldy damp walls. Abbott & Costello encounter a house full of spirits in Hold That Ghost from 1945. Also from the period, The House of Frankenstein and The House of Dracula provided houses full of monsters, but no ghosts. The three aforementioned films, House On Haunted Hill, The Haunting, and The Legend of Hell House are examples of homes with their hearts born in Hades.

Some paranormal films expect that the viewer believe in disembodied beings, like 1944's The Uninvited with Ray Milland and the real-life tragic Gail Russell, Ghost Story from 1981, The Fog from 1979, and The Amityville Horror also from 1979.

Some of you might prefer your chills from other worlds. Seventy years ago Orson Welles scared the yell out of the whole country with his radio play of H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds. This landmark broadcast got America so amped up that folks were calling in reports of Martians landing in their backyards. In 1953 George Pal brought those little green guys to the silver screen. 1951's The Thing From Another World gave us a frozen paranoid world at the top of the world, where a lone alien held a party of scientists in thrall in a quasi Cold War melodrama. In 1986 John Carpenter reprised the subject with his highly effective remake that was closer to the original literary material.

Big Bugs are always good for extra protein, especially if they are radioactive. Some offerings of the genre are Them, Tarantula, Beginning of the End, and Earth vs. the Spider.

There are plenty of space voyages to embark on with Destination Moon, This Island Earth, Rocketship XM, Flight to Mars, Forbidden Planet, Missile to the Moon, Catwomen of the Moon, to name a few.

Well, if this isn't enough to choose from, we also suggest the worst of the worst, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Night of the Ghouls, Bride of the Monster from the Ed Wood library, just for laughs.

Have a happy safe Halloween!
From janalanhenderson.com

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