This post is an updated and reworded version my original Rating the Halloween Franchise post from October 2008.
Rating the Halloween Franchise
1978, Compass International Pictures
What can be said about this movie that hasn’t been said already? Though not the first slasher movie, Halloween is the movie that spawned the entire horror sub-genre that blew up during the 1980s. The film’s score is amazing. Right up there with Star Wars, and the atmosphere throughout the film is tense, as are the film’s closing moments. It’s my favorite horror move and one of the my favorite movies period. You can’t call yourself a fan of horror movies if you’ve never seen this one.
out of 5
1981, Universal Pictures
The sequel is a classic in its own right, but a lot of horror fans and film critics don’t agree with me. The movie takes place immediately after the events of Halloween, and director Rick Rosenthal (John Carpenter passed on directing but did co-write & co-produce) hoped to create a similar atmosphere for this movie. The final product of Halloween II ended up being far more violent and gory than its predecessor. This is thanks to the fact that Universal and/or John Carpenter felt the movie needed to be able to compete with other slasher movies of the day and new kill scenes were filmed (supposedly with Carpenter as director).
Yes, the movie is harsher and features a slightly different tone than the original movie because of that, but both movies are a fantastic 1-2 punch. Just as Halloween III: Season of the Witch has grown in stature over the years, it’s high time Halloween II starts getting the credit it deserves. It’s one of the best slasher movies of all time, but it has the misfortune of being the follow up to THE best slasher movie of all time.
out of 5
1982, Motion Picture Marketing
For the end of the Halloween season, I’ve been trying to watch horror movies that I have never seen or haven’t seen in a while. Funeral Home falls under the “never seen” category, and boy, I wish it stayed that way!
A Canadian production filmed in 1979 and released in that country by Frontier Amusements in 1980 as Cries In the Night, the movie would be re-titled Funeral Home for its 1982 U.S. theatrical and future home video releases. Given the independent distributors and the very low-budget nature of the movie, I imagine this movie probably never made it to a cineplex, but instead could probably have been found as a double feature at a rundown drive-in somewhere.
Movie poster for the 1980 Canadian release
The best thing this movie has going for it are the movie posters. The U.S. version makes it look like good cheesy ’80s horror fun, while the black & white Canadian poster makes me think it might be something a bit more shocking. Too bad it’s neither.
Funeral Home‘s trailer does a pretty good job of making the movie seem creepy, but the actual film moves at a snail’s pace and you don’t even seen anyone killed until 32 minutes into the movie. [SPOILER]And even that is just people drowning in a car.[/SPOILER] The movie features very little gore and mostly relies on darkness and the score to help set the mood. In short, Funeral Home comes across as a late night made-for-TV movie and would be ripe to RiffTrax to pick at.
I will say that the ending is kind of interesting, even if somewhat of a cop out.
Check the movie out for yourself… if you dare.
Over the years, I’ve mentioned that I’m a big fan of old-time radio shows, especially Jack Benny. Throughout his 23 years on radio, Jack Benny had a handful of Halloween-themed episodes. They even helped to inspire a Halloween tradition for myself, as I discussed yesterday.
So here’s two of my favorite Jack Benny Halloween-themed episodes. The second episode features Basil Rathbone, who starred in Son of Frankenstein two years earlier. If you’ve never listened to a Jack Benny radio show, then you’ve probably never listened to any old-time radio show. Give it a chance. You may like it if you’re a retro/vintage-minded person.
And if comedy isn’t your thing and you want some chills & thrills, well, radio could get pretty scary, too. Sometimes what your mind creates is more terrifying than anything practical effects and CGI can show you, so check out a trio of horrific tales from a previous blog post: Old-Time Radio Horror: “Fugue In C Minor”, “The Thing on the Fourble Board” and “The House In Cypress Canyon”
One Halloween tradition of mine for the last 6 years or so has been to have donuts and apple cider on Halloween. Yes, donuts instead of candy. Maybe that seems weird, but maybe not. All kinds of bakeries, brands of baked goods and donut shops celebrate the season by dressing up their donuts with pumpkin flavoring or icing decorations.
Dunkin Donuts has done an exceptional job of it this year…
In years past, I’ve used Dunkin Donuts as my “go to” for donuts on Halloween, but I’m going with Entenmann’s Soft’ees this year! I generally don’t care for Entenmann’s products, but their Soft’ees donuts are amazing (I only get the regular cake and powdered sugar kinds).
Anyway, the reason I started doing this is because while listening to late 1930s/early 1940s episodes of Jack Benny’s radio show they would make mention of Halloween parties and serving apple cider & donuts. So I decided that make a new tradition for myself of doing that. Who doesn’t love apple cider & donuts?
Check out this ad from the October 1944 edition of Woman’s Day for A&P’s Jane Parker brand of donuts. This ad obviously sets the scene for a fantastic Halloween party and I’m willing to bet those glasses are filled with apple cider!
Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers
1987, Warner Bros. Television/Hanna-Barbera Productions
Buy the movie
The first of three Scooby-Doo movies to be released as a part of the Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 syndicated animated movie package, Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers retains a bit of the old mystery feeling that the classic Scooby cartoons had (something that was dropped for the light-hearted Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School).
A gorilla, various ghosts, a creepy caretaker, a hillbilly family that’s feuding with Shaggy’s, and a trio of ghost-busting ghosts are all included in this tale that stars Scooby, Shaggy and Scrappy.
Shaggy inherits a plantation down south from his uncle and is immediately warned by the local sheriff to stay away. He is then told the same thing by the estate’s caretaker and also informed of a treasure of jewels hidden on the property. After being terrorized by a gorilla on the loose and a ghostly Confederate general, Shaggy & Co. call up the Boo Brothers, ghost exterminators who turn out to be ghosts themselves, to help with the ghosts while they search for the jewels.
VHS Cover Art
An homage to the Three Stooges, the Boo Brothers provide comic relief but their inclusion isn’t necessary as they only occasionally pop-up and they definitely didn’t deserve to be in the movie’s title. They are an odd addition. I wonder if Hanna-Barbera had a spin-off in mind for the Boo Brothers? For all of their relevance, they might as well have titled this movie Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Plantation. Speaking of the plantation, the setting feels like a character itself. The rundown swampy plantation setting was a nice choice for a story as it provides a spooky nighttime atmosphere.
As with all traditional Scooby-Doo tales, there’s more to the eye going on here with these “ghosts” trying to scare off Shaggy & Co. Overall, Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers is a fun mystery/treasure hunt tale that features enough wacky characters and events to try to shake things up.