Halloween is just around the corner, which means we’ll get our regular dosage of costumes both wildly inventive and horribly unoriginal. Props to those who used an extra year of creativity to come up with a truly new idea, because we’re already sick of the endless Mandalorians, Britney Spears impersonators, Stranger Things kids and bad political caricatures.
It's also the time of year to revisit some of our favorite scary films and learn of some new ones.
North Texas has been a popular filming location for many classic films, including Robocop, JFK, Bottle Rocket, and uh, Batman & Robin. It’s also the spot where some definitive “not quite classic” scripts have rushed into production. Look, it’s just a location. There’s no telling what the eventual quality is going to be. At least they didn’t film the god-awful Robocop remake here.
If you’ve already managed to burn through the Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and The Exorcist franchise collections as part of your festive binge, consider checking out these bizarre horror movies that were shot in Dallas.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
What? There’s a 12th Puppet Master movie? We can say without a hint of irony that this one is the Citizen Kane of Puppet Master sequels. The newest entry about a group of, you guessed, scary puppets, is the closest to having real class, with a script from Bone Tomahawk filmmaker S. Craig Zahler.
Remember when teachers were so scary that an alien queen seemed more appealing as a substitute? Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty has been reclaimed as a cult classic of sorts, with a clever script by Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson that pokes fun at clichés in teen, science fiction and horror films.
This very strange made-for-television thriller came out in 1989 when the premise “trapped in an elevator on a skyrise” didn’t immediately spark outrage over sensitive 9/11 memories. For a Universal Home Video release, it gets a surprisingly strong performance out of future Academy-Award nominee Kathleen Quinlan.
The Killer Shrews
Mutant shrews! Quirky boat captains! Terrible special effects! This is a quintessential ‘50s cheesefest. The Killer Shrews actually appeared on a classic episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Mars Needs Women
Mars Need Women came out in 1968, but its special effects are definitely closer to the ones you’d see in the ‘50s. Or the ‘20s. Or your kid neighbor’s backyard home movie. Horny Martians and mumbo-jumbo about “space genetics” should make this an amusing late-night watch if you’ve had a few drinks.
The Amazing Transparent Man
Also lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Amazing Transparent Man is about as close as you can get to H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man without it being actual plagiarism. Except The Amazing Transparent Man is rather dull, and its plot of a military conspiring to train invisible soldiers makes no sense.
Finally, a good movie! This low-budget horror film from up-and-comer Jason Kabolati is a fascinating look at the anxieties sparked by teen bullying. Debuting at the After Dark Horrorfest, it's worth checking out for fans of indie genre storytelling.
The Aurora Encounter
The Aurora Encounter is based on a true story, at least in the same way that The Conjuring is. UFO conspiracies were just as crazy in the pre-internet era, and this 1986 sci-fi thriller depicts the supposedly “real” account of a small Texas community that witnessed a UFO sighting in 1986.
A 1984 slasher cult classic, The Initiation was praised by horror aficionado Adam Rockoff in his slasher guide Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film and by critic Brian Collins of Birth.Movies.Death. The story of sorority sisters who are haunted after their titular initiation has become a popular “midnight movie” in the years following its initial DVD release.