It’s Halloween, the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Ghosts and demons lay in wait for little boys and girls who prefer tricks over treats!
What better way to spend the season than watching great horror movies? Here are what I consider the 5 best haunted house movies of all time. For my money, ghosts are far scarier than monsters because we’re potentially looking at our own destinies. Will you be among the trapped spirits some day, haunting the family living in your former home?
5. THE SENTINEL
The 70s were a treasure trove for horror. This is the decade that gave us true frights like The Exorcist, The Omen, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left and Halloween. Lost in the mix is this chilling classic about a NY fashion model who moves into a creepy brownstone apartment. The residents are the most disturbing cast of characters you’ll ever meet. Part ghost story, party possession tale, some scenes in The Sentinel will haunt you for the rest of your life. And it’s loaded with stars, including Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Beverly D’Angelo, Ava Gardner. John Carradine and so much more.
4. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
This flick needs no introduction. Even if the story the Lutz family told the world is total B.S., this is still a spine tingling movie.This one has it all – evil spirits, bleeding walls, mystery rooms, imaginary friends with bad intentions and a home clouded by the spectre of a mass murder. James Brolin is brooding and terrifying as the spirit of the house drags him down. Almost 40 years later and this one still gives me chills.
3. THE CHANGELING
George C. Scott plays a composer who lost his family in an accident. Trying to put his life back together, he moves into a huge old house that, as we come to find out, is quite haunted. First of all, Scott may be the biggest-name actor in a horror movie – ever. His performance gives a gravitas rarely seen in the genre. As the story unfolds, you’ll find your goosebumps just won’t go away. That’s one haunted house I might skip if invited to spend the night.
2. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
I wasn’t a fan of The Blair Witch Project and the whole found footage dealio, but Paranormal Activity changed my mind. This one actually made my wife and I nervous when we went to sleep that night (it doesn’t help that we live in a haunted house). I can think of better things to film in the bedroom, but I’m glad they concentrated on the demonic spirit here. I just watched it again last week and it’s still unsettling. Find the BluRay with the alternate ending if you can!
Hands down, this is my favorite ghost movie ever. Short on special effects because it doesn’t need them, a college professor gathers willing subjects to live in a haunted mansion in Massachusetts. As the caretaker warns them in the beginning, “No one can hear you scream in the dark. In the night.” Using the twisted history of the house to put your nerves on edge, The Haunting is all about atmosphere and odd sounds and tortured souls. This is a must watch for any true horror fan.
So, what would make your top 5 list? There were so many I could have added here, but I forced myself to whittle it down to the 5 that deeply affected me, long after the end credits.
Ah, October, or #Horrortober to me. 31 days of ghouls and ghosts, tricks or treats, pumpkin ale and comfort food. What’s not to like? I’m going to kick things off in grand style today, so be sure to read this here post from top to bottom. Lots o’ treats (aka giveaways for your trick or treat bags) for everyone.
This year, the Monster Men released our Halloween special a little early so you can gather great movies to watch and books to read. We also try a new pumpkin ale that you might want to stock in your fridge.
If you’re looking for more terrifying books, check out my 2015 Horrortober Reading List.There are some great reads on there by authors like Nick Cutter, Brian Moreland, Catherine Cavendish and more.
As always, I start my Horrortober reading in mid September so I can get to as many dark delicacies as possible. For those of you new to my Horrortober, it’s essentially my total immersion in all things horror from now until Halloween. During this special time, I only read horror and watch at least one horror movie a day.
Yes, there are a lot of Samhain books on here or books by authors who have published with Samhain. What can I say, they’re putting out some of the best new horror around, just like the good old days at Leisure. And yes, I have two, count ’em, two books on the list called The Deep. It’s an ambitious list this time around, but I think I’m up to the task. And of course there will be short stories, mags like Horrorhound, Rue Morgue, Fangoria and more. I’m buckling in as I write.
So, if you’re looking for some great spooky reading, come along with me…
BIGFOOT BEACH by Kristopher Rufty
A bizarre, brutal murder. A missing woman. And a giant footprint in the sand. Now, the dying beach community known as Seashell Cove finally has a hook to attract the tourists—a Bigfoot on the beach! As the summer season winds down, the tourists go home and the town begins preparing for the colder months.
Soon, more strange footprints are found, other mysterious sightings are reported. Then the deaths begin. Could there really be a Bigfoot running loose in Seashell Cove?
A tracker with a personal agenda, the local sheriff, a hero whose fifteen minutes of fame expired a long time ago, and a female reporter looking for a scoop will team up to find out for sure.
DARKNESS RISING by Brian Moreland
It’s all fun and games until…
Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him. And tonight, when all the pain from the past is triggered, when those secrets are revealed, blood will flow and hell will rise.
THE DEEP by Nick Cutter
TRIBESMAN by Adam Cesare
Thirty years ago, cynical sleazeball director Tito Bronze took a tiny cast and crew to a desolate island. His goal: to exploit the local tribes, spray some guts around, cash in on the gore-spattered 80s Italian cannibal craze.
But the pissed-off spirits of the island had other ideas. And before long, guts were squirting behind the scenes, as well. While the camera kept rolling…
TRIBESMEN is Adam Cesare’s blistering tribute to Cannibal Holocaust and Lucio Fulci: a no-bullshit glimpse into grindhouse filmmaking, stuffed inside a rocket of tropical non-stop mayhem.
WE ARE MONSTERS by Brian Kirk
The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum.
He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.
Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.
Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.
BLOOD AND RAIN by Glenn Rolfe
The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.
Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man’s terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen.
Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past. Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can’t even comprehend?
One night can—and will—change everything.
DARK AVENGING ANGEL by Catherine Cavendish
Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.
Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.
When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.
THE DEEP by Michaelbrent Collings
A woman searching for a sister lost at sea. A man bent on finding lost treasure. A mother who has lost all hope. A maniac who believes all life exists for his pleasure. The man who would keep them all safe.Together, they will all seek below the waves for treasures long buried, and riches beyond belief. But those treasures hide something. Something ancient, something dark. A creature that exists only to feed on those that would enter into its realm. A creature… of The Deep.
THE RED HIGHWAY by Robert E. Dunn
It’s finally here….just a few days until the unholy feast of Samhain! We have hundreds of goodie bags ready for the little ghouls and witches that come by the house. Pumpkin beer is in hand and in the fridge. My costume is set – the big bad wolf from the movie, You’re Next. I bought the mask off the guy who wore it in the film. Pretty sweet, if I do say so myself.
As part of the #Horrortober fun, I’ve been sticking to my pledge to watch at least 1 horror movie a day. As of the 28th, I have over 40 movies under my belt. The rest of this week is devoted to the classics – Halloween, Halloween 2, Friday the 13th Part 6, The Funhouse and The Haunting. Now, you may ask, why Friday the 13th Part 6? To me, this is when the franchise took a crazy turn and became a nightmarishly fun event. When I saw it in the 80s in the theater, they oversold the seats. A pretty girl asked me if she could sit on my lap and we were making out 5 minutes after Jason was resurrected. The rest of the time was spent yelling and howling and having a blast. You can never duplicate the vibe of those 80s movies at home.
And of course, I’ve plowed through my reading list. So many great books out there begging to be made into movies.
I wanted to do something new this year, so I took my kids on a nighttime tour of the famous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It was pretty incredible. You get to walk through 2 miles of dark passageways by lantern, stopping at famous tombs and mausoleums. I hadn’t realized they filmed the original Dark Shadows movie there, along with a Ramones video for Pet Sematary. Oh, and there’s that whole Headless Horseman legend as well. The best part was when we were at the back of the tour pack and I told my girls to turn around. You couldn’t see 5 feet behind us, the darkness was so complete. I whispered, “Anything could be back there.” That got us all walking a little faster.
Went to the Chiller Theatre con this weekend. Wow. Saw so many cool folks and spent way more than I had planned. I’ll have a separate post on that soon.
Last but not least, I’m just a few days away from finishing the first draft of my new cryptid novel. I’ll reveal who the monster is in the coming months.
To help get you in the mood, the Monster Men present our 3rd annual Halloween episode. Turn down the lights, grab a beer and crucifix, and enjoy!
I’m writing this from deep in the abandoned copper mines in Hecla, Wyoming. It’s kinda dark in here but the internet access is surprisingly good. I just spotted a pair of rough hombres skulking around. They have the spirits all riled up. Hope they know what they’re doing.
As you may or may not know, my most recent novel, HELL HOLE, takes place right here in these mysterious hills. A pair of former Rough Riders plumb the very depths of these mines on the orders of none other than Teddy Roosevelt. What they encounter, well, let’s just say none of it’s good. Unless being harrassed by ghosts, black eyes kids, squatches and a whole host of craziness is your idea of a fun time.
HELL HOLE was written with the Halloween season in mind. I want people to read horror as much as they watch it, especially this month of #Horrortober! So, here’s what I aim to do. I’m going to give a free ebook to everyone who does one of the following:
- Go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Samhain’s website and post a review/rating for Hell Hole. Once you do, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your review or rating.
- Purchase a copy of Hell Hole. Again, send a screen print or other proof of purchase to email@example.com
One book per customer. This incredible offer lasts until October 31, 2014.
This is all part of my plan to win the lottery and buy the most tricked out RV in history, convert it into a book mobile and travel the country handing out books and spreading the love of reading. So come on, show your love for HELL HOLE and Halloween. I’ll make it worth your while.
OK, this Halloween nearly did me in! And that’s a good thing. I once again achieved my goal of watching a horror movie every day (my favorite new flicks – new to me – being Rites of Spring and Revenge of the Creature). I read all of the books on my Horrortober reading list. Kudos to Kealan Patrick Burke for making my stomach turn with Kin. Awesome stuff.
On Halloween night, we had over 300 costumed kiddies come to the house. After canceling Halloween last year due to super storm Sandy, they had to make up for lost time. Yes, I and my twisted children dressed up to scare those kids who only wanted some candy. What was I? I have no clue. I was something no one else was likely to see that night. You be the judge.
In the dark, with my hooded black jacket, it was effective enough to make trick or treaters pause. Heh heh heh.
The 99 cent sale for my first short story collection, ASYLUM SCRAWLS, is over, but it didn’t go up much. You can download a copy now for just $1.99. I noticed that quite a few folks have already checked into the asylum. How about you? A little thorazine, three hots and a cot, get some rest.
Congratulations to Lindsey Loucks who won a signed copy of SINISTER ENTITY. Thank you for playing along with my madness.
We’ve made some updates to the Monster Men website, adding a podcast archive so you can catch all the episodes you’ve missed.
I have some exciting announcements to make over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.
Oh, and thank you all for making SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE an audiobook bestseller. It’s an honor to be beside the likes of Tim Lebbon and Ron Malfi. I’m telling you, those skunk apes are gonna rule the world one day.