The Criticwire Survey: The Perfect Halloween Double Feature

The Criticwire Survey: The Perfect Halloween Double Feature

Every week, Criticwire asks film critics a question and brings you their responses in The Criticwire Survey. We also ask each member of the poll to pick the best film currently playing in theaters. The most popular choices can be found at the bottom of this post. But first, this week's question:

Q: You've been hired by your local movie theater to guest curate a Halloween double feature. What two movies do you pick and why?

The critics' answers:

Cole Abaius, Film School Rejects:

"I recently spoke with Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton as part of our podcast's October feature where we ask filmmakers about their favorite scary movies (that show will be up on Thursday), and they talked about 'Halloween' and 'Suspiria' — a pairing that resonates with me personally because they're such fantastic, important films. Plus, they're thematically similar (lone girl, missing an integral part of herself, fighting back evil) and yet visually on different ends of the spectrum (shot from the hip suburbia realism versus stylized technicolor blood splatter). If nothing else, they are both excellent reminders that enduring, impactful horror that be made with relatively little money, which is not a bad lesson for aspiring filmmakers to learn."

Ali ArikanDipnot TV:

"Halloween was never a particular tenet of any of the three cultures I grew up in, and, as a kid, my general estimation thereof was based on its representation in Hollywood films.  Even though trick or treating seems to have been gaining some ground in England (much to the chagrin of many who regard the holiday's adoption as yet another unwelcome import from America), during my time at an English university in the early nineties it still meant another excuse to dress up and get hammered. As such, I tend to think of Halloween as a fun night out. Which is why programming films like 'The Exorcist 'seems unnecessarily drab for me. I'd go for mainstream schlock: 'The Howling' and 'Piranha II: The Spawning.'"

Edwin ArnaudinAshvegas:

"Start off with Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' to make the audience afraid of hotels and taking showers, then put on John Carpenter's original 'Halloween' to make them afraid of everywhere else. Once they're sufficiently terrified, put on the 'Tricks and Treats' episode of Freaks and Geeks to repair their shattered psyches."

Monika Bartyzel, Movies.com:

"'Scream' and 'Evil Dead II.' I have a million double features swimming around in my head, but I’ll opt for Canadian content this time around. I’d start with 'Scream,' because it’s the first horror movie I actively sought out in the theater, and regretted until the scariness let up and pummeled me with awesome ‘90s sarcasm. It’s energetic, horror-movie-loving fun, with enough gore to balance the laughs and a Canadian final girl in Neve Campbell. Then, 'Evil Dead II' as a semi-'Rocky Horror' experience. 'Evil Dead: The Musical' was born here in Toronto, and I’d love to hear fans not only reciting Bruce Campbell’s lines, but also scoring Sam Raimi’s film with some tunes like 'What the Fuck was That?' and 'Cabin in the Woods.' If people did the Necronomicon, that’d be an added bonus."

Adam BattyHope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second:

"A couple of years ago I had the good fortune to stumble across an accidental double bill of Mel Gibson's 'The Passion Of The Christ' and Zack Snyder's 'Dawn of The Dead' remake. That seemed quite apt. But alas my own double bill would kick off with a film set much closer to home than either Golgotha or Wisconsin. My hometown lies relatively unknown on the global landscape. Sure, Sean Bean might stem from there, and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame too calls it home, but it's no Hollywood. With that in mind it's notable that two of the most downright terrifying movies of all time are based or where shot in the city of Sheffield. First up would be the BBC's infamous 'Threads,' a realistic telling of the effects of nuclear warfare on a regular city landscape. Somewhat in the key of the work of Peter Watkins, the film's realism prevented repeat viewings of the film for decades following its initial broadcast. It's long been my ambition to screen the film in the city on one Halloween evening. Second up would be a more recent film borne of Sheffield, in Ben Wheatley's 'Kill List.' While an unnerving experience for any audience, try giving it a watch when the films central protagonists quite literally pass by your house en-route to one of their 'missions.'"

Nicholas BellIONCINEMA:

"Andrzej Zulawski's 'Possession' and Georges Franju's 'Eyes Without a Face,' because there aren't any two movies more unsettling and brilliantly made concerning people trying to desperately get back to a way of life as they want it to be."

William BibbianiCrave Online:

"Like many avid cinephiles I've spent more time than I can possibly count (at least, not without fearing I wasted it) thinking about all the double features I'd like to book if I had access to my very own movie theater. So picking out just two films was incredibly difficult. After much thought, a little dawdling and a brief respite to go bowling I finally decided on 'Frailty' and 'The Mist,' two underrated horror films from the last decade that play very well together. In our increasingly secular society, the notion that God is real has become increasingly terrifying to many modern audiences, particularly if that god doesn't play by our contemporary rules of morality. Both of these movies, in their way (I'm trying not to spoil anything), play off that anxiety to incredible effect. The only question is which film comes first on the bill: the one with the merely troubling ending or the one that makes you want to kill yourself out of utter despair. I vote for the later. Let's mess with some brains, shall we?"

Danny BowesTor.com/Movies By Bowes:

"Assuming a perfect world where I can get immaculate 35mm prints of both, I'm going with, first, 'Cat People' (the Val Lewton/Jacques Tourneur one, not the Paul Schrader one) and then, after a brief intermission, Roger Corman's 'The Masque of the Red Death.' They're not really linked, beyond being good, but I like the idea of starting out with dark, stylish spookiness, taking a brief break, and getting our Vincent Price on. As long as no one in the audience is in a Slutty Film Critic costume (there's only so much horror one can take on Halloween), we should all have a blast."

Ian BuckwalterNPR/The Atlantic:

"As a horror addict, this one is about as tough to answer as that standard, 'What's your favorite movie?' question one gets whenever a new acquaintance finds out that you're a film critic. Do you want to go classic or obscure? Populist favorites, or something you'd like to introduce people to? A well-matched pair, or a diverse dichotomy? With too many choices at hand, I'm going to go with the sort of thing that's been appealing to me lately, and go with two eerie thrillers with exceedingly creepy atmosphere. I'll also link them by picking two that use the horror as a backdrop to serious dramas about individuals dealing with personal family loss, and both of which feature séances. So we'll start with the 1964 British film 'Séance on a Wet Afternoon,' which stars Kim Stanley as a medium haunted by the memory of her stillborn son, and Richard Attenborough as her meek husband, convinced to assist her in a kidnapping plot meant to establish her credentials as a psychic, but with questionable underlying motives. That'll be followed with Peter Medak's 1980 'The Changeling,' with George C. Scott as a composer who has lost his wife and child in a car accident, and who moves into a house occupied by the spirit of a long dead child."

Christopher CampbellDocBlog

"I’m not much of a horror guy, so I’d pick two Halloween-set family films from 1993 that cater to the nostalgia of a certain age group: 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' and 'Hocus Pocus.' After all, if I’ve been hired for the job, I want to make the theater some money. PS: I don’t get the popularity of 'Hocus Pocus,' but it’s really hot this year. I love Bette Midler, and still I don’t get it."

Daniel CarlsonPajiba:

"'The Shining' popped into my head before I'd even finished reading the prompt. For me, no Halloween is complete without it, even though it's not a Halloween-themed movie. It's my favorite horror movie, though, because it's terrifying, tense, psychologically unnerving, and just so damn weird I can't stop watching. Imagine the stones it would take for someone to make a brightly lit, methodically paced, languidly shot horror movie in 2012. For the second half of the double bill: I'll stay in 1980 and go with 'The Changeling,' starring George C. Scott. It can feel a little dated at times, but it's got some of the most fun scares I've ever had in a movie theater. The revival theater in my college town used to show this every Halloween, and they'd pack the house every time. Great supernatural horror story."

Lee Cassanell, Cine-Vue/The New Empress:

"I don't associate Halloween with nightmarish psychological horror; I think it should be a fun and light-hearted affair. I once saw 'The Exorcist' at a midnight showing on Halloween and the audience laughed from beginning to end. I'll always remember that because it's the first time I recognized how the collective mood of an audience can have such a profound effect on the cinematic experience. Scenes that I found terrifying before that screening suddenly became amusing and for night only, one of the great horrors became one of the great comedies. I reckon the ideal Halloween double feature would be 'Evil Dead II' to get the revelers laughing and follow it with a tear-jerking old classic such as James Whale's 'Frankenstein.'" 

Sean ChavelFlick Minute:

"If I'm selecting a Halloween double feature I will go with 'Dawn of the Dead' and 'Re-Animator,' two goofy, gory, grandiose horror films that slap the face of horror features today. They're fun, and frighteningly underrated and need to connect with modern audiences again."

Jaime ChristleySlant Magazine:

"First and foremost, Michele Soavi's 'La Chiesa,' the Giallo-est of the post-Argento Giallos, about a haunted cathedral that begins to prey upon its visitors and employees in macabre set pieces that suggest a department store window collaboration between Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo. Even more than Carpenter's great 'Prince of Darkness,' Soavi's slow-nightmare masterpiece proves that a monster or a ghoul might be good for a few jolts, but that's nothing compared to evil undefined, all-consuming. Effectively starless, a pre-sexual Asia Argento personifies the film's innocence-in-peril. Second, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 'Pulse.'"

Jake Cole, Not Just Movies:

"For an oddly paralleled double feature, I’d play William Friedkin’s 'Bug' with Abel Ferrara’s 'Body Snatchers.' One concerns a couple falling to pieces in fear of imagined government agents and soldiers coming to kill them. The other depicts a young woman and her family being hunted by, well, government agents and soldiers, or at least aliens using such figures as their avatars. Linking the two is nasty, visceral direction that eschews jump-scares and easy jolts, replacing gore with a sense of inescapable doom on personal and global scales. The only challenge would be in figuring out which order to play them, as both are so nihilistic that neither ends on a real high from which to start the slide back down with the B-feature. I suppose 'Bug' would make the 'lighter' opening number, as it merely presents the bleak lives of two individuals. That marks a step up from 'Body Snatchers,' which suggests not only that humanity as a whole is coming to an end, but that it deserves its fate."

Michael DaltonMovie Parliament:

"'Halloween' and 'Scream.' Have to to show 'Halloween' for obvious reasons; it's not halloween without 'Halloween,' a classic slasher movie that displays one of the genre's peaks. 'Scream' would be my follow-up as I wanted to have one film showcasing the genre and another deconstructing it. It also helps that 'Halloween' is in 'Scream.' Other films I considered were 'Psycho,' 'The Shining,' 'Drag Me To Hell' and 'Insidious.'" 

Tony Dayoub, Cinema Viewfinder/Press Play:

"My Halloween double feature would consist of 'Curse of the Werewolf' followed by 'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.' Each features a male lead — Oliver Reed in 'Curse' and Ray Wise in 'Peaks' — with a complicated and tortured soul at war with itself. Both men are compelled to murder/violate women, a sharp contrast to the upstanding reputation they possess in the minds of the rest of their respective communities."

Billy DonnellyAin't It Cool News:

"For Halloween, it's easy to go with films from the traditional horror icons we've come to love over the years — Freddy Krueger, Jason, Michael Myers, Leatherface, etc. — especially since their looks have been closely associated with the holiday as far as costumes are concerned. However, if we're going to go for a double feature that has the potential to truly frighten the audience in attendance, then heading into the horror/sci-fi realm produces better results. That's why I'd be pairing the original 'Alien' and John Carpenter's 'The Thing' together on the bill. First off, I think there are far too many people, myself included, who never had the chance to see these two classics on a big screen individually, let alone together, and, for a pair of films that still hold up every single time I watch them from the comfort of my own home, I can only imagine the community experience that'd come from seeing them with a like-minded crowd that truly appreciates each of them. Secondly, they couldn't be more different in their approaches to horror, provided a wide-ranging viewing experience that shows scares can be delivered in a number of ways. Thirdly, it would serve as a reminder of a time when horror was a big deal and efforts were made to do it well. It wasn't a matter of just throwing out a CW cast and hacking them to pieces to please teen audiences. There were characters to care about, stories to become invested in, and surprises to keep us guessing, not just for twists' sake. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so if I've got a chance to put together a Halloween double feature, I'm doing it right with a couple of horror classics."

Edward Douglas, Coming Soon:

"'Trick 'r Treat,' because I'm really obvious and because someone *really* screwed up the marketing, publicity, and promotion for a Halloween movie that would have done great if they bothered to give it a real theatrical release. And then I'd show Brad Anderson's 'Session 9' cause that will really f*ck everyone up and will give them nightmares until the NEXT Halloween."

Alonso DuraldeTheWrap/What The Flick?!:

"I'm a big chicken when it comes to scary movies, so I'd probably go the horror comedy route; let's say something old and something new, so put me down for 'Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein' and 'The Cabin in the Woods.'"

Jessica ElgenstiernaThe Velvet Café:

"I’d like to challenge the audience with something a little bit more profound than just candy, masquerade costumes and cheap scares. So my first movie would be 'The Seventh Seal,' which raises questions about life and death and let you meet the reaper face to face rather than as a skeleton decoration. My second film would be 'The Call of Cthulhu,' a black and white silent film from 2005, made with a minimalist budget, but a lot of enthusiasm, supported by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. The few special effects are pretty awkward, but this is easily overlooked since the tone is so right. 'In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.' Horror poetry never gets better than that."

Mario Alegre Femenías, Primera Hora:

"The key to a great double feature is in how one movie compliments the other. The pairing of two films could prove to be a difficult task when dealing with something as insane as Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 psychedelic masterpiece 'House,' a film about a bunch of Japanese schoolgirls battling against a haunted house (believe me when I say that sentence does not do the film justice). I asked myself, 'Which movie could even begin to get the crowd in the mood for Obayashi’s funhouse of madness?' And then it came to me: 'The Cabin in the Woods.' Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s fantastic deconstruction of horror films would give the audience one heck of a fun ride while throwing away all the genre rules before being lambasted by the 'WTF Train' that is 'House.'"

Kenji FujishimaThe House Next Door:

"'Found footage films' seem to be all the rage these days, as if 'The Blair Witch Project' had only been yesterday. So how about a Halloween double feature of movies that pointedly question this strangely now-ubiquitous sub-genre? To that end, here's my suggestion: 'Diary of the Dead' and 'Cannibal Holocaust.' George A. Romero's fifth 'Dead' picture follows a filmmaking crew that attempts to shoot a horror movie — until they find themselves ensconced in real-life zombie horror. The emotional detachment with which some of these crew members approach the horror unfolding right behind them — hiding behind the camera, as it were — is genuinely unsettling; has the rise in popularity of YouTube led us to see even the most horrific of real-life events as mere disposable media images? Even that, however, isn't quite as disturbing as what we discover about the disappearing documentary filmmakers in Ruggero Deodato's notoriously icky 1980 film; its second half consists almost entirely of their found footage, and we discover the filmmakers' unscrupulous manipulations of the truth and the horrific comeuppance they eventually suffer at the hands of the cannibal natives they exploit. (There's also that poor dismembered turtle — and sure, the ethics of featuring real onscreen animal slaughter in the service of a supposed greater human truth can certainly be endlessly argued.) 'Paranormal Activity' may have more jump scares, but when it comes to 'found footage' films, both 'Diary of the Dead' and 'Cannibal Holocaust' wade into deeper waters: the depths of depravity of which humanity is capable when it comes to confronting the horrors right in front of their eyes with a camera in the middle. Now that's scary."

Jason Gorber, FilmFest.ca:

"I'd actually cheat and show something different — screening 'Bob Roberts' and 'The War Room' as a double bill in advance of the American election. I'd then likely be fired as a programmer."

Steve Greene, Criticwire:

"If the object is to bring together a properly unsettling pair of films, then maybe it's best to pick one that'll make you scared of humans and one that'll make you scared of nature. (That way, when you walk out of the theater, everything seems equally spooky.) The first choice that popped to mind for the first category is David Fincher's 'Zodiac,' and looking through the Harris Savides tribute only clinched it. As for cringe-inducing nature, my favorite Hitchcock film 'The Birds"'is an obvious choice, but would pair well on a 'moments of calm interrupted by moments of sheer chaos' twin bill. Between the lakeside stabbing and the final shot through the open door of the Brenner house, that's enough to have Bay Area cinephiles squirming well into November."

Eric HavensDownright Creepy:

"My double feature is 'The Shining' and 'The Exorcist.' I chose these for two main reasons: to point out that there are legendary directors making classic horror films at a time of year when horror movies get bad PR; and to reinforce the fact that little kids should never be trusted."

Jordan HoffmanScreenCrush:

"If you really want to scare the audience try a double feature of 'Forrest Gump' and 'Crash' and then have a voice over the PA intone 'These movies won the Oscarrrrrrrrrr……'"

Drew HuntChicago Reader/The Talking Pictures:

"My inner genre nerd is telling me to highlight a pair of overlooked gems, so I'd start the evening with 'Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!,' a late Monte Hellman masterwork that went straight to video but is as equally nimble, exhilarating, and frenetic as his best work; I'd end the evening with 'Cemetery Man' (a.k.a. 'Dellamorte Dellamore'), an egregiously under-appreciated horror comedy/sex farce that stars Rupert Everett as a lonely caretaker who yearns to find the woman of his dreams but spends all his time protecting a nearby village from the zombies that rise from his cemetery — the great Franco Fraticelli is the film's editor. I nearly considered Peter Weir's 'The Last Wave' because of its marginalized reputation as a result of the success of 'Picnic at Hanging Rock,' but I feel as if it's caught on in recent years."

John Keefer51Deep.com:

"'The Virgin Spring' and 'The Last House on the Left' and I'd call it 'Do's and Don't's.'"

Adam Kempenaar, Filmspotting:

"Easy, it would be my 'Is God Dead?' double feature: 'The Exorcist' and 'Rosemary's Baby.' Both deal with the devil, but one goes for (pea soup) in-your-face scares while the other is more psychologically terrifying. They're my two favorite horror films (as boring as that might be)."

Glenn Kenny, MSN Movies/Some Came Running:

"Murnau's 'Nosferatu' and Kubrick's'The Shining,' twin poles of horror replete with indelible images and important messages for the youth of today."

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:

"'Cemetery Man' and 'The Loved Ones.' Existential horror and pure visceral horror as a package that together cover the full spectrum of the genre's possibilities."

Peter LabuzaLabuzaMovies.com/The Cinephiliacs:

"I think the best double features include one cherished classic and one title people wouldn't otherwise see. So I'm choosing a silent horror asylum double. The first would be Robert Wiene's 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,' a classic German expressionist film that still creates chills today. But the second film would be the real treat, Teinosuke Kinugasa's 'A Page of Madness,' which is from Japan. Part of an avant-garde tradition that developed in Japan in the 1920s, 'A Page of Madness' is almost impossible to follow in its narrative (the version seen today is missing over a third of the original cut) but is full of bizarre imagery that will scare the hell out of you. Not enough people see this film that is really not only the first Japanese horror film, but the first Japanese masterpiece (though sadly not on DVD)."

Jonathan Lack, We Got This Covered:

"I would be compelled to program a Henry Selick double-feature of 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' and 'Coraline,' because good horror films for children are hard to come by, these two are some of the best for a younger age range, plenty of other theaters will be playing a good assortment of adult-oriented horror, and Selick's films may get kids interested in exploring the scary and macabre on film."

Max LalanneSmell of Popcorn:

"I don't particularly love the horror genre at all, mainly because I'm a naturally jumpy person. Out of the five or six I have seen, though, I'll  put 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'The Shining' together, only because they both build up an effective atmosphere so masterfully and are more psychological thrillers than typical horror movies. I predict that a pitiful few in my neighborhood will turn out for these two 'old' movies in the face of 'Paranormal Activity 4' and the likes, and that I won't have a Halloween curating job next year, but hey."

Joanna LangfieldThe Movie Minute:

"As one who feels the scariest stuff is the kind of thing that really could happen, I would choose movies that take place, primarily, in the home (or home-like settings). For a classic, you can't get more vulnerable than Hitchcock's 'Psycho' …getting stabbed, naked in a hotel shower? And let's not forget that surprise up at that house! 'Psycho' is one of those great movies that most people have seen on TV, perhaps alone, but it's a great experience in a big theater. For a lesser known but wonderfully effective second film, I would choose 'The Stepfather,' a slim, incredibly shiver-worthy thriller, this is the movie that I never forgot, thanks in great part to the lead performance from Terry O'Quinn, who showed stuff here even more mysteriously scary than he did on 'Lost.'"

Scott MacDonaldToronto Standard:

"One of my favorite horror double features (I've made various friends join me for it) is a weird one, themed around cannibalism. The first is, believe it or not, one of those PBS history specials by Ric Burns: 'The Donner Party.' It relates the infamous tale of frontier cannibalism via the usual still images, nature photography, and diary entries, but it's perhaps the only documentary ever made that's as terrifying as the best horror films. Burns took his visual and aural cues from the opening sequence of 'The Shining' (which itself references the Donner Party), in which the Torrence family drives through the Sierra Nevada mountain range accompanied by a doom-laden soundtrack. The music here is Angelo Badalamenti's spectral 'Dark Spanish Symphony,' and when paired with all the ghostly daguerreotypes and the images of foreboding, snow-darkened woods, a deeply disquieting mood takes hold. The sequence in which the pioneers first resort to cannibalism does something few traditional horror movies ever have: it makes you feel the moral terror of their transgression. Then I'd lighten the mood with the second film, one of my favorite overlooked gems of the '90s: 'Ravenous.' Clearly inspired by the Donner Party, it's a daring combo of horror and off-kilter comedy set on the snowy American frontier. Robert Carlyle gives an amazing performance as the villain — a freaky mountain man who's developed a taste for human flesh — and Guy Pearce gives an equally committed performance as the squeamish U.S. Marshal protagonist. Director Antonia Bird navigates the tonal changes of Ted Griffin's inspired screenplay expertly, keeping you on your toes throughout (you're never quite sure if you should be laughing or cowering beneath your seat), and the amazing score by Michael Nyman and Blur's Damon Albarn disorients you even further. The scene where Pearce and Carlyle lead a rescue mission to a foreboding cave is almost unbearably suspensful, and it culminates in one of the most shocking/funny murderous outbursts ever committed to film. For some reason 'Ravenous' never became a midnight-movie fave, but hopefully that'll change some day."

Joey MagidsonThe Awards Circuit:

"I'd want to go with as different a pairing as possible.  I think I'd choose 'The Cabin in the Woods' for a more meta look at horror for the holiday, but I'd also take it down a notch and show 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' as well. That way you have both sides of the coin represented on Halloween. That being said, I'd make sure my local theater was playing 'Sinister' too so that I could encourage some brave souls to make it a triple feature and take in that unsettling fright flick too. There are tons of combinations that went through my head, but I'm decently pleased with this one."

Yehudit Mam, I've Had It With Hollywood:

"'The Shining' and 'Rosemary's Baby.' They are both masterpieces about toxic families in which the scariest part is not so much the supernatural, but the crazy demons that lurk inside the human mind. They are also enormous fun."

Vince Mancini, Filmdrunk:

"It's tempting to choose some old, acclaimed film everyone's heard of but few have seen like 'Nosferatu' or 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' to make myself look all smart and cultured, and because no one can argue with you when you pick something from a million years ago. It's like when you ask about the best running back of all time, and someone always says Bronco Nagurski. Ooh, check out Charlie History Major over here, he likes the guy from the pre-television era. Anyway, old movies are cheating, and I have alcohol-induced memory problems, so I'm going contemporary: 'Drag Me to Hell' and 'The Cabin in the Woods.' Halloween is always one part scary and five parts goofy. Almost any Sam Raimi film fits the bill, but 'Drag Me to Hell' is recent, underseen, and does a great job riding that line between spooky and hilarious. Favorite scenes include the old lady getting her dentures stuck on the ashtray and trying to gum the girl to death, and the seance scene with the goat. So delightfully bizarre. And 'The Cabin in the Woods' because it does 'self-aware horror movie' about a hundred times better than 'Scream' ever did. They both seem like movies that would benefit from a big crowd of boozed-up goofballs."

Calum MarshSlant Magazine:

"Thomas Edison's 'Electrocuting an Elephant' and Stan Brakhage's 'The Act Of Seeing With One's Own Eyes.' There is no realer terror."

Mike McGranaghanThe Aisle Seat:

"To me, Halloween is about two things: scary stuff and having fun. Therefore, I'd want my double feature to reflect that. For the scary half, I'd go with Guillermo Del Toro's disturbingly creepy 'Cronos.' This is my favorite kind of horror movie, because it's just as unnerving for the story's themes (old age, illness, death) as it is for the scare scenes. Artfully made and chilling as all get-out, I'm sure it would give audiences a good fright. For the fun part, I would absolutely choose Nobuhiko Obayashi's masterpiece of dementia 'House.' Watching this movie is like having a 90-minute fever dream after tripping on acid (not that I'd know personally). Plus, it is filled with delightfully insane sequences, including one in which a young girl is eaten by a piano. 'House' isn't really scary, but to me it encapsulates the glorious, over-the-top spirit of Halloween. By pairing it and 'Cronos,' I think I'd have both sides of the Halloween coin duly accounted for."

Jana J. MonjiThe Demanders/Pasadena Art Beat/Examiner.com:

"If the point of a Halloween double feature is to creep out the audience that most of the studios target — young men — then I'd say put 'Fatal Attraction' with Takashi Miike's romantic horror flick 'Audition.' The original theme of 'Fatal Attraction' was based on a parallel obsessive romance between the female editor Alex (Glenn Close) and a married New York attorney Dan (Michael Douglas) and the tragic disposable 'Oriental' woman story. Alex relates her situation to Puccini's 'Madame Butterfly' and the original script had her committing suicide with a kitchen knife that Dan had left his fingerprints on. Dan is then implicated in the supposed murder. Because test audiences didn't like this ending, the suicide angle was taken out and a three-week reshoot resulted in an improbable, horror story ending. The sudden reactivation of Alex in the bathtub (after she has apparently been drowned) is laugh-out-loud silly. Yet the movie won awards. Too bad the movie makers didn't stick to their guns. Takashi Miike's 'Audition' also plays on stereotypes and men's unwise and unreasonable expectations of women. Guys who are looking for their own Madame Butterfly geisha girl will find this a frightening depiction of a Japanese woman. The middle-aged widower Shigeharu (Ryo Ishibashi) should know better, but he holds a fake audition for a fake movie in order to look for a new wife. The woman he selects, Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), is too willing to please in a passive way and his friend (Jun Kunimura) finds it troubling that her resume leads to no one who can confirm her work experience or vouch for her character. Instead of a boiling bunny, Asami has her own special way of teaching men how to truly love through pain, because only pain can be trusted. Don't you think Sada Abe would approve?"

V.A. MusettoNew York Post:

"I'd go with James Whale's 'Bride of Frankenstein'' and Karl Freund's 'The Mummy,' two elegant classics from the Golden Age of horror movies, both featuring Boris Karloff."

Tony NunesDreaming Genius/Sound on Sight:

"I would insist on two nights of double features. The first would be the classic Halloween themed scares of Carpenter's 'Halloween' and Michael Dougherty's grossly underrated 'Trick r' Treat.' As a Halloween night double feature these would create an atmosphere of sugar-induced joy tinged with a heightened sense of communal fear. With every jolt the audience would laugh and applaud together. What's better? The other night is something I've always wanted to do, a double feature of the greatest sci-fi terrors; 'Alien' and Carpenter's 'The Thing.' When I was a kid these two movies scared the hell out of me more than any other. The irrational fears of aliens and deep space sit with me to this day. Of course, these would all be 35mm prints."

Dan Persons, Mighty Movie Podcast:

"Jeez, no further restrictions, huh? Well, taking in the 'consumer-friendly' nature of Halloween, I don't want to go too hardcore (in which case 'I Saw the Devil' and 'The Human Centipede' probably would've topped the list). Gotta go old-school for one, and that would have to be the 1931 'Frankenstein' for the chilling, background-music-free ambiance, Karloff's stellar performance, and that indelible sequence with the girl by the stream. Then, let's get a little esoteric: 1962's 'Burn Witch Burn' (a.k.a. 'Night of the Eagle'), for its wicked view of modern day witchcraft set against the political wranglings of the academy. Plus, the American release has a goofily charming prologue narrated by Paul Frees."

Matt Prigge, Philadelphia Weekly:

"'Mystery of the Wax Museum' (1933) and William Castle's 'Strait-Jacket' (1964). Because I've never seen either of them."

Rania RichardsonCommunity Media:

"'Pan's Labyrinth' and 'The Orphanage' feature Guillermo del Toro as director and executive producer in Spanish language horrors both fantasy and thriller."

Jason Shawhan, Nashville Scene/Interface 2037:

"In any other year, my dream Halloween double feature would be Lamberto Bava's 'Demons' and Bigas Luna's 'Anguish.' But given the horrifying events in Colorado this summer, it probably wouldn't be prudent to include the latter (the same reasoning excludes Bogdanovich's 'Targets' as well). So let's do a 1983 frissons maudits double of Tony Scott's 'The Hunger' and Michael Mann's 'The Keep.' Eerie, synthy insanity taken from bestselling novels and rendered into beautiful incoherence."

Craig SkinnerBleeding Cool/Hey U Guys:

"If I was in that position I would probably opt for films that are under-seen or not perhaps the obvious choices — a double bill of 'Vampyr' and 'Guinea Pig: The Devil's Experiment,' 'The Phantom Carriage' and 'House' or 'Spider Baby' and 'Kuroneko' — but the double bill that has become a tradition for me in recent years and the one that first springs to mind is John Carpenter's 1978 'Halloween' and the more recent 'Trick 'r Treat' from Michael Dougherty. It's hard to think of two films more heavily linked to the creepy holiday and I shall undoubtedly be settling to down to watch them both again come October the 31st."

Josh SpiegelMousterpiece Cinema/Sound on Sight:

"I’ll freely admit that I’m neither a horror-movie buff nor a big fan of Halloween, outside of the copious amounts of candy that are readily available in October in grocery stores and places like Target. So if my local theater asked me to curate a double feature, I’d go with two of the few I love dearly: 'Peeping Tom' and 'The Shining.' Certainly, the latter is well-respected in the horror genre, but I imagine many people haven’t even heard of 'Peeping Tom,' a film that was so incendiary in the United Kingdom that it essentially ended director Michael Powell’s career. The story of a young man whose voyeuristic tendencies manifest in murdering young women by filming them as he impales them with a knife was gruesome and dark; however, it was overshadowed by the same year’s 'Psycho' (no mistake, an excellent film), tanking in Britain and making Powell a pariah. And 'The Shining' has been a favorite of mine for years, originally because any horror movie with barely any gore (I don’t count the elevator-related kind here) is OK by me. Now, I revel in Stanley Kubrick’s technical proficiency, the Steadicam cinematography, and all the clues to what’s really going on in this story of a disastrously broken family. I may not be a 'Room 237'-level obsessive, but the ambiguities help make 'The Shining' truly frightening."

Andreas StoehrPussy Goes Grrr:

"I'd program a 'Toxic Hollywood' Halloween of 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' and 'Mommie Dearest.' They're a pair of blood-curdling horror movies starring legendary actresses as grotesque, abusive monsters. Both would leave audiences with shot nerves — whether from the scene where Baby Jane serves lunch, or Faye Dunaway's classic 'wire hangers' freakout — but also plenty of bitchy dialogue to quote later on. They even share a meta connection, since Baby Jane's sister/victim is played by Mommie Dearest herself, Joan Crawford. These are two films that poke around in the institutions of family and filmmaking, then turn up piles of maggots. Together, they'd make for a fun, makeup-smeared night. (Following them up with 'Sunset Blvd.' would be optional.)"

Anne-Katrin Titze, Eye For Film:

"In the spirit of carnivalesque transgressions celebrated on this day, I would combine 'The Fearless Vampire Killers' — skiing vampire hunters in widescreen Transylvania — with 'The Party' — a Hollywood mogul's dinner party being kidnapped into the absurd, by unknown Indian actor Hrundi V. Bakshi, feeder of Birdie Num Num, unforgettably portrayed by Peter Sellers in brownface. The real-life tragedies surrounding the two female stars, Sharon Tate in the first, Claudine Longet in the second and the lack of political correctness in both films, make for disturbing subtexts, while the sheer joy and exuberance in this double feature, makes them perfect for getting drunk on cinema while totally sober. When asked 'Who the hell do you think you are?' Hrundi V. Bakshi responds: 'Where I come from, we don't think who we are, we know who we are!' Even, and maybe especially, on Halloween."

Scott WeinbergTwitch/Movies.com:

"I would play 'Poltergeist' early and 'Halloween' late. Or if everyone's choosing Halloween, I'd go with 'Trick 'r Treat' because virtually nobody has seen this fine anthology piece on the big screen."

Stephen WhittyThe Star-Ledger:

"I'm going to cheat and name two possible double features (hey, you always need a backup, just in case of print unavailability). One would be 'The Innocents' and 'The Others,' and the second would be 'The Devil's Backbone' and 'The Orphanage.' The first pair is very much in the proper British tradition; the second, a little more modern and Latino/European. But all four films get their effects from atmosphere and character, over sudden shocks and gore. And there's not a found-footage shot in the bunch!"

Mark YoungSound on Sight/New York Movie Klub:

"I would open the show with Carpenter's 'Halloween.' I expect that would be a "closer" for a lot of people, but I want to follow it up with a movie that is even more gross and creepy: Sam Raimi's 'The Evil Dead.' Good luck sleeping after that pairing, folks."

Alan ZilbermanBrightest Young Things/Tiny Mix Tapes:

"I'd show a double-feature of 'May' and 'The Woman.' More horror fans need to know about Lucky McKee, and his films are never widely seen on the big screen."

Samuel Zimmerman, Fangoria:

"'Bride of Frankenstein' and 'Trick 'r Treat.'"

The Best Movie Currently In Theaters on October 22, 2012:

 

The Most Popular Response: "Argo"

Other Movies Receiving Multiple Votes: "Looper,"The Master," "Holy Motors," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Seven Psychopaths," "Wuthering Heights."

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Comments

Pretty

I had some accident Wypadek w UK in the UK in halloween when some five kids dressed up as Zombies jumped out from nowhere. I hit some wire on someone's fence. It wasn't funny at all, especially when it's dark and it's raining.

Victor Morton

FFR … that kind of humor only works when it is either so over-the-top that "nobody believes THAT" is the reaction or is so contrary to one's public persona as to be completely implausible. This was neither. (I joked last night after now wanting to vote for Obama after leaving a Soviet propaganda masterpiece, though it was one of those films from a million years ago, even before Bronko Nagurski played in the NFL.)

And here's the deal … I love NOSFERATU as much as anyone, but CABIN IN THE WOODS and DRAG ME TO HELL is a perfectly plausible and fine pick for a Halloween double feature. The former is in my Top 10 year-to-date, and while I like the latter somewhat less, Raimi is in fine form and the end is absolutely brilliant, did I see THAT??!? Point being: Neither the films nor one's choice of them needs to be defended by crapping on older films.

Michael

The faux courteous backtrack act doesn't play either. Turning a simple recommendation into a competition of who has the most self-flattering selection of personal taste is a more vile representation of modern film writing than the most risible horror double bill could have been. Great job at curation, Criticwire.

Vince

My preface was meant as a tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating joke about why I wasn't choosing the acclaimed classics I knew would be inevitably chosen (and it turned out I was right, people chose them). Guess it didn't play! Oops!

(And by "few" people have seen those films, I meant "few who aren't film majors and film critics," unlike most of us here).

((And yes, I will cop to being a moron who misspelled Bronko Nagurski's name, even though it's a nickname)).

I can only hope that Aaron Sorkin will one day use me as an example of why this country's going down the crapper.

-A prideful, born-yesterday anti-intellectual

Victor Morton

"It's tempting to choose some old, acclaimed film everyone's heard of but few have seen like 'Nosferatu' or 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' to make myself look all smart and cultured, and because no one can argue with you when you pick something from a million years ago. It's like when you ask about the best running back of all time, and someone always says Bronco Nagurski. Ooh, check out Charlie History Major over here, he likes the guy from the pre-television era. Anyway, old movies are cheating…"

I have nothing to say to someone who could write that … except that it's "Bronko" Nagurski. With a "k."

My question is for Indiewire … what is valuable about that comment? The born-yesterdayism? The anti-intellectualism? The pride therein? The imputation of bad faith against those who might like old films? The falsehood that (even the editorial) "few" have seen those films? And by "valuable," I mean "valuable for a site called Indiewire, not a site called Ain't It Cool."

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