Top 7 Horrors in the Movie Theater
Howdy Hellions! It’s been a long time since I put together a list like this, but after watching one of the below flicks, I thought it was time to cobble one together. Now that we all stream our entertainment most of the time, going to an actual theater is a welcome and special event. I practically grew up in theaters, and the damn pandemic stole one of my life’s greatest pleasures from me for a while. Luckily, my daughter just got a job at the Alamo Drafthouse near us, so I’ve been making it a point to hit the theater once a week.
One of the things I always loved to see on the big screen was horror movies set in a big screen. Watching it kind of felt like we the viewers and actors were all in the same theater, and the lurking terror was all around us. From the hilarious interactions between David and Jack and the recently dead in An American Werewolf in London, to the mysterious paranoia Jay’s date exhibits in It Follows, there’s something about watching the terror unfold in the same environment where you think you’re safe, watching it all, is a bit of a thrill.
So, here in my very subjective order, is what I think are the top 7 movie theater horrors. I wonder what makes your list…
7. THE BLOB
Who can forget the iconic scene of terrified teens fleeing the theater as the gelatinous creature from outerspace oozes from the exits? I prefer the remake in the 80s, but nothing beats the visuals set down way back in 1958.
6. THE LAST MATINEE
This nasty little gem from Uruguay will haunt your cinematic dreams, especially if you have a thing…like me…about eyeballs. Set almost entirely in a movie theater, once the action starts it never lets up.
With an unforgettable last act that makes it a standout for the early 90s (with a definite 80s feel), Popcorn also has a stellar cast – Jill Shoelen (The Stepfather), Dee Wallace, the late Tom Villard in a brilliant, manic performance, all written and directed by the great Alan Ormsby (Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things). Popcorn, buy a bag, go home in a box! I miss those great taglines.
4. THE TINGLER
Where is the next William Castle? Not only is a creature on the prowl in a theater on the screen, it may just be running past your feet in your own theater! My father hooked up the Tingler devices when he worked at his local theater as a kid. Vincent Price never mailed it in, no matter how cheesy the premise. The Tingler is a horror classic. Remember to scream, scream for your life!
What happens when the tired workers at a little hometown theater find a hidden porno theater below it? Madness, gore and hilarity, of course. This main feature from the folks at Fangoria is an absolute blast. Gentlemen, prepare to experience some crotch sympathy pain. Seriously.
2. THE FINAL GIRLS
This has become one of my all time favorite movies, hands down. When a teen girl goes to a showing of her deceased mother’s 80s slasher movie, a fire in the theater leads to them escaping into the movie itself. Screamingly funny, tear-jerkingly poignant, with some fantastically framed scenes that will stick in your brain like they were made of Gorilla Glue. It’s a fun homage to 80s slashers with a killer cast.
I’m not a big fan of Italian horror, so the fact that this is my #1 speaks to it’s sheer bonkers-ness. Patrons are trapped in a theater flooded with blood thirty demons. So much splattery fun. The sequel is pretty much the same movie, but set in building and parking garage. Bring out the super red blood and practical effects!
5 Spooky Movies To Watch On Halloween
Okay, you’ve answered the door a thousand times and have run out of candy. Time to shut out the lights, crack open a beer or wine (blood red, of course) and watch a scary movie, something to haunt your dreams. Sure, you could stick with the tried and true like Halloween or Night of the Living Dead. But why not explore new dark territory this year? Here are 5 movies guaranteed to give you shivers…
5. THE SENTINEL
3. THE DESCENT
2. THE ORPHANGE
- THE NIGHT STALKER
Top 5 Haunted House Movies Just In Time For Halloween
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.
The Art Behind The Evil
I thought it would be fun to share the vision of a couple of artists I had worked with on Evil Eternal, back in the day when I had dreams of starting it as a graphic comic. I haven’t given up that dream. Please feel free to petition your favorite comic publisher to make Evil Eternal come alive in the panels of a comic!
This first one of the character Father Michael was drawn by my close friend, Mike Chella. Dude looks badass. Unfortunately it comes out grainy here, but I loved the dark style that Mike brought to the project. The panels Mike drew are what inspired me to keep working on the story and escalating the madness!
Next is a slick, computer graphic version of our favorite undead priest by author and artist, Ron Leming. The crucifix trident is pretty freakin’ cool.
And speaking of comics, Saturday, May 5th is National Comic Book Day. If you’re a fan, please visit your comic book store and pick up a few issues of your fave. I also wrote an article, more an ode to comic books, to celebrate the day. Click here to take a gander.
It’s Here! Evil Eternal vs. The World
It’s a great day here in the Shea neighborhood. My second book with Samhain Publishing, Evil Eternal, is now available and can be had a pretty damn good price (under $5!). I’m honored to be part of the Samhain family and have been impressed every step of the way since they took this orphan in last year.
Now, I’ve already given you an excerpt in a previous quote, breakdown of the book on my Books page along with some advance reviews. So, what the heck esle do I have to talk about (other than the various posts and article on my blog tour—see previous post)? I figured I’d give you a little Shea family snapshot and show you how Evil Eternal grew from a tiny idea to a full-fledged, demon-killing novel.
Way back when Bill Clinton was asking the world to define the word ‘is’, I got a spanking new computer. The best way to test drive that Gateway was to write a short story, preferrably something with larger than life characters, demons and gore. Hey, it’s what I was in the mood for at the time. Well, I cranked out a short story about this undead priest called Father Michael who stumbles upon scenes of carnage wrought by a demon called Cain (he of Cain and Abel infamy).
I wrote it, I read it, I liked it. So did other folks I showed it to. I went on to write another story, placing Father Michael in the NY sewer system seeking demons in dark, filthy tunnels. About a year after I had written both stories, a Bram Stoker nominated horror website came to me to see if I had any ideas for a monthly e-serial. I thought, hey, I’ve got just the thing!
So for a few months, I wrote new chapters for the website, leaving each on a cliffhanger. It was great fun. Alas, the website shut down well before the story was finished.
There were plans to make it a graphic comic and a great friend started preliminary artwork. Comic publishers were contacted, but no one took the bait. Oh well. I may be a big comic book reader, but I was never too saavy about the business side of the medium.
I had an ending that was just itching to be written, so I went back and finished what I started and had a dandy novella. And that’s the way it sat for quite a while.
Enter Samhain, stage right. As I was digging through my drawer of misfit manuscripts, I showed my editor the novella. The next question was, “Can you flesh it out and make it a novel?” Hell yeah, I can! I dove back into the Evil Eternal world and added a new beginning, ending and beefed up everything in between. I had a ton of fun writing it. This is ‘let your freak flag fly’ territory.
And now it’s finally here. Be sure to check in at the ‘ol blog and chain and the various blog tour stops for giveaways and fun. Next time you’re in church, thank a priest. They may save you from death at the hands of a demon some day. 😉
Evil Eternal – A Sneak Peek
It’s hard to believe that my next novel with Samhain Publishing, Evil Eternal, will be available May 1st as an ebook, with print coming in early September. It feels like Forest of Shadows just came out a week ago and here I am gearing up for another round of horror-fueled madness.
Evil Eternal has all the subtlety of a Cat-5 hurricane. I had originally designed it to be a graphic novel but over time it morphed into a full length novel. It’s been described as ‘rip-roaring grand guignol’ and an over-the-top battle royale of good vs. evil.
So, to get you all revved up and ready, put on a little mood music (I suggest anything by Wagner or White Zombie), sit back, and enjoy the follow excerpt…
EVIL ETERNAL – Ante
Hot sand blew into the stranger’s face as he crested the dusty hill. He refused to blink, refused to admit even the slightest defeat to the power of nature and the one who birthed it. He spat on the lone tuft of grass that clung to the hilltop, laughed as it turned a bilious brown, wilting back into the dry earth.
He was surprised to find a small orchard of fig trees lay nestled in the valley below, a lush land fed by the runoff from the surrounding hummocks. At the outer edge of the orchard sat a clay home, baked hard in the sun, big enough to house three, maybe four people. The leaves of the fig trees chittered in the breeze, mocking him. He’d see to that.
Using his gnarled, wooden staff, he descended the hill in a matter of minutes, his bare feet finding a solid grip with each step. The sun was strong and burned the back of his neck. He pulled his woolen hood over his head, pausing a moment to take in the orchard from eye level.
Five rows of a dozen trees each were spaced out evenly across the valley. Thousands of ripe green figs hung from the branches. They looked, to him at least, like swollen scrotums. He reached up to pluck one, grimaced as it discolored in the palm of his hand, turning a mushy black and melting between his fingers.
The tree followed suit, the figs dying and falling in a rain dance of heavy plops, bursting as they hit the ground. Leaves shriveled up, became brittle, while the branches sagged as if saddled with the weight of the moon.
The trunk split in half, the bisected tree collapsing in opposite directions.
The verdant soil around the tree transformed to a cancerous black, spider veins stretching to its neighbors, the scene of rapid decay and death replayed again and again until the orchard was a killing field, the soul of the land corrupted beyond measure.
This made the stranger smile.
Two men erupted from the house, hands on their heads, wailing in shock, anger, fear. Their life’s work had been destroyed in a matter of minutes, struck down by an unseen plague. A woman holding a child to her breast emerged. She looked across the demolished field and cried. The baby fidgeted in her arms as if it too could sense that something had gone terribly wrong.
One of the men met the stranger’s gaze, pointed.
“You did this?” he cried. It was more a question than an accusation, for the moment. The strange man in his former orchard was the one thing that did not belong. If he was not the cause, and how could one man do this, then perhaps he was witness to the death of his beloved fig trees.
To the man’s amazement, the stranger bowed and said, “Yes, I did.”
Fire flashed in both men’s eyes and they disappeared into the house. The woman turned away from him, shielding the baby from his view. The men emerged brandishing long swords. They held them high above their heads, charging.
He waited for them to come to him, to wear themselves out running across the barren field. They swore curses as they rushed headlong, prepared to maim this stranger who had taken their life from them through some power they did not and could not understand. But they did understand retribution, the swifter the better.
The stranger waited until they were several steps away before raising his walking stick above his head. It caught both swords as they swooped down to cleave him from shoulder to hip. With a flick of his wrist, both swords were torn from their hands, buried in the unyielding wood of his staff. He tossed it aside, grabbing for their throats.
He closed his eyes, in the throes of an orgasmic rapture as he felt their windpipes crush between his fingers. They swatted at his thick forearms to no avail. He squeezed tighter, cutting off their supply of oxygen, demolishing the inner workings of their respiratory system. They wouldn’t be needing them much longer.
Their throats collapsed one after the other with an audible rending of cartilage and muscle. He released them, looking on in amusement as they dropped to the ground, their eyes distended, tongues swollen and lolling from open mouths.
The woman sobbed, falling to her knees. He came to her in slow, steady strides, confident that she would not run from him. She looked up as his shadow loomed over her.
“What kind of monster are you?” she asked, defiance in her eyes. Her baby had grown silent, tucked within her robes.
He leaned on his staff, regarding her with cold curiosity.
“I’m the best kind of monster.”
You can pre-order Evil Eternal or add to your Wish List by clicking any of the following links: