Today's movies don't really have much in common except that they're horror movies and they all feature characters who are dressed up in costumes. But it felt like a fitting way to close out the Halloween season.
HELL NIGHT (1981)
Linda Blair, several years out from The Exorcist, leads this cast of fraternity/sorority wannabes who have to spend the night in a spooky mansion as part of their hazing (why the guys and gals all seem to be pledging the same organization and why there are only four of them is unclear). Their tormentors have devised a bunch of fake scares for them, but some very real (and very deadly) scares are in store for them instead. This movie is pretty goofy, especially at the beginning, with some laborious joke set-ups, but I love that everyone is in costume and the story that gives us the background of the spooky house is pretty well done. This movie also boasts a rare character who actually acts in his own interest and is proactive - CONCEPT!
TERROR TRAIN (1980)
The old "prank gone awry" chestnut is so much of a trope that I almost made it a triple feature of its own. This prank is particularly sick -- perhaps even worse than the pig's blood prank in Carrie, if you can imagine such a thing. The use of costumes in this is actually relevant to the plot, since the killer keeps exchanging costumes with their victims, which means no one knows anything fishy is going on until well into the movie. This movie boasts Jamie Lee Curtis post-Halloween and not many more actors of note. It also features David Copperfield as a (wait for it) magician, but not as himself -- the kind of magician who would take a job entertaining college kids at a party that takes place on a train. This is a pretty cool slasher, even if for a brief period of time the killer strongly resembles film critic Gene Shalit.
TRICK 'R TREAT (2007)
This movie is a new Halloween favorite of mine and it's a shame it never got a proper theatrical release. It's an anthology film, but not like most that you're used to. Rather than being short stand-alones, these stories all happen on the same night, in the same town, and overlap and criss-cross in unexpected ways. Over the course of the film we see: a father carving "pumpkins" with his son; a group of Sexy Disney Princesses (pictured above) out for a wild night, teasing the youngest among them about her "first time"; a group of kids paying their respects to children who tragically died many years before (and another entry "prank gone awry" pantheon); an old man terrorized by ... well, I'm not sure what to even call it; and a few other little plots that tie things together. A new horror classic, as far as I'm concerned, and it's juuuust scary enough to be fun.
I hope anyone who read these enjoyed them, and perhaps tried one of them out for themselves. Happy Halloween, everyone!