It’s (undead) Christmas!
In honour of things that go bump in the night – and the holiday that embraces them in a big bloody hug – I’ve compiled a list of the bogeymen that haven’t had their due. Sure, these creepy creatures may have spooked a fair few of us but the likes of Michael Myers, the Blair Witch, Leatherface, Pennywise (of course, frickin’ Pennywise) and even bloomin’ Jaws have stolen their thunder as the nightmarish monsters that haunt the collective dreams of a generation or two who have seen way too many movies and TV shows.
So, here they are, the scary monsters and super creeps I really hope I don’t run in to tomorrow.
(Honorary mentions: Pyramid Head, Eugene Tooms, Mrs Massey from ‘The Shining’ and, erm, the Sanderson sisters?)
5. Alley Man
Is it a man? Is it a woman? Is it a malevolent monster metaphor sent from the warped mind of David Lynch’s brain to screw with us and set the tone for the rest of his psycho-thriller puzzle pic ‘Mulholland Drive’? Definitely the latter.
In this unforgettable early scene from the director’s 2001 masterpiece, an anxious man who has just described a troubling nightmare takes his companion into the alley behind the diner from his dream – and out pops the dark and disturbing hobo-like horror he described as being confronted with in his night terrors. The sequence can almost be appreciated as a short film that stands on its own within the framework of the epic enigma that surrounds it – and it’s definitely the freakiest five or so minutes from a fascinatingly freaky whole.
4. The Peacock Family
‘The X Files’ threw up a fair few shady characters, extra-terrestrial or otherwise, but Mulder and Scully’s most terrifying foes were a twisted take on the family unit, bringing the horrors of the Peacocks home. Receiving a viewer discretion warning for graphic content, the episode ‘Home’ centred on three severely deformed brothers living on an isolated farm who keep their mother (and lover – ick) under the bed and routinely kill anyone whose snooping threatens their existence – not to mention the barely-born babies that are a product of their maternal incest. Gross but memorably horrific, ‘Home’ freaked me the F out when I was about 11 – I stayed up too late and remember the home-invasion scene, where the boys pay the sheriff and his wife a visit, ruined my sleep for a week.
3. The Pale Man
Grimm fairytales were never so grim! Guillermo del Toro outdid himself with ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, a dark fable he is yet to better, but the crowning achievement was surely the intensely scary Pale Man. Referencing Goya, this awful bogeyman is an artistic achievement despite being grotesque – and the baby-eating backstory and eyes-in-hands look only add to the terror. When he wakes up… well, I was awake for a while after that.
2. Tristana Medeiros
Those last five minutes of the first ‘REC’? CRAP STEAKS! Little girls shouldn’t look like that – but little girls possessed by demons and twisted into a crazy-scary fiend lurking in the highest reaches of a forsaken hotel? I want my mommy.
1. The Gentlemen
The highlight of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s ghoulish creature canon also provided, arguably, its best ever episode ‘Hush’. Tim Burton’s visual aesthetic is referenced heavily but the Gentlemen are scarier than anything offered up by ‘Sleepy Hollow’ or even the creepy stylings of ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’. Despite the influences though, the Gentlemen are a unique creation – sunken-eyed, suited, knife-wielding baldies with metallic grins – only rendered more scream-worthy thanks to the genius Whedon concept of them being fairytale monsters who steal the voices of their victims so there’s none of that pesky screaming business when they get down to the business of stealing hearts. Can’t even shout, can’t even cry… TURN THE LIGHTS ON!!!
Happy Halloween, peeps. Avoid dark alleys.
With only a week to go until Halloween, it’s time to sit in a dark room with some popcorn and get suitably terrified. Only, with the glut of premier TV horror available to fans of guts ‘n’ gore, that dark room doesn’t necessarily have to be a cinema anymore.
Sure, with ‘The Babadook’ and Joe Hill adap ‘Horns’ treating scary movie fans in the run-up to All Hallows’ Eve, the state of horror cinema isn’t looking too shabby – this week anyway. But with UK fans having been treated to the first outing to ‘American Horror Story’s suitably freaky ‘Freak Show’ this week, there’s as much chance – if not more – of being wigged out by the terrors in the tellybox.
^ That guy is obviously nightmare-worthy, and will haunt the dreams of any sensible adult – let alone any unfortunate kiddies who tune in after bedtime, in a similar way Pennywise all but ruined my formative years after I stayed up too late one Sunday night in the ’90s.
Even so, if you haven’t caught the awesomely alarming anthology antics of Jessica Lange and co. (and Lange’s singing is sure to give you night terrors even if the homicidal clown doesn’t), you’ll be able to find some top quality horror without leaving the house thanks to TV’s recent embrace of entrails and entropy.
‘The Walking Dead’ may be one of the biggest shows of the moment (and rightly so) but there is plenty more gore for TV fans to gorge on. ‘Sleepy Hollow’ adds a fantastical spin, ‘Bates Motel’ riffs on Hitchcock for a noir-ish serial killer origin story, while Bryan Fuller’s deliciously stylish ‘Hannibal’ is an all-the-trimmings feast for Lecter fans.
The genre has even carved a bloody niche on Netflix, with ‘Hostel’ man Eli Roth guaranteed a final third season for his hit-and-miss ‘Hemlock Grove’. Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro’s vampire saga ‘The Strain’ is already proving infectious, whilst Eva Green lent a magnetic malevolence to Sky’s ‘Penny Dreadful’ which will hopefully deliver on its promise second time around. Even this year’s critical darling ‘True Detective’s crime saga was spun with Southern gothic, its denouement a descent into Hell itself.
Why all the post-watershed horror, why now? I don’t care, basically. Not since ‘The X Files’ followed in ‘The Twilight Zone’s bloody footsteps 20 years ago, keeping us up all night with classic episodes like ‘Squeeze’ and ‘Home’, has TV been in such a fantastically frightening state.
Halloween countdown starts here!
Attending this year’s big Halloween bash with a pal? Make it man’s best friend by taking tips from Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’, the tale of a budding young scientist and his beloved – and decidedly dead – dog.
Dress up in your best ‘mad scientist’ garb to embody Victor, that’s the easy part. For Sparky the dog? Either add some well-placed stitches and a fake neck bolt to your beloved pup OR if you have an up-for-it friend, tell them not to have a shower for the next two days (for that authentic been-in-the-ground smell) and get them in their best doggy onesy. Just add a lead and you’re done!
In a week when he might be honoured this year’s Mercury Music Prize, David Bowie could prove to be a very on-trend costume choice this Halloween. But then again, hasn’t the Thin White Duke’s flamboyant approach to glam-rock always welcomed copycats inspired by his look?
Bless Lady Gaga, but she’ll do well to create even half of the iconic looks emblazoned in our minds by Bowie. Ziggy Stardust and his lightning-bolt makeup are always ripe for a redo, so why not give the famous alien alter-ego a zombie twist for a spooky Halloween theme? Alternatively, you could go full-on Goblin King and smuggle a budgie or five in your tights as ‘Labyrinth’s iconic villain. The power of the babe, indeed…
The great thing about being a video gamer AND a girl? You have some great options for cosplay chic or, of course, Halloween dress-up. Sure, us guys can dress up as Pyramid Head for super scare factor but how the hell are you meant to enjoy a drink with a big-ass pyramid on your head?!
Meanwhile ladies, thanks to Lara Croft your options are fun without requiring crazy headgear. American McGee’s bloodier take on Alice and zombie-slaying cheerleader Juliet from ‘Lollipop Chainsaw’ are just two ready-made heroines perfect for Halloween.
Halloween roller disco to attend? Sure, Artie from ‘Glee’ and Heather Graham’s famed Roller Girl are both viable choices, but if you want something with real scare factor then look no further than the childhood-scarring Wheelers from a decidedly darker Oz.
If you saw ‘Return to Oz’ between the ages of 5 and 10 since its 1985 release, then you’ll know what I mean. Recreating the wheeled devils may take some skill and coordination, but do it right and you’ll be the hit of Halloween. Beware the Wheelers, indeed.
Want a costume that’s so hot right now AND rather horny? Go loco and make it Loki.
With part 2 of the ‘Thor’ saga out next week, Tom Hiddleston’s super villain with a ‘little brother’ complex is totes on trend and you’re less likely to run into a carbon copy, whereas my Spider-sense (keeping it Marvel) is tingling and telling me there will be plenty of Thors wielding hammers this Halloween.
Ergo: rise, puny Gods!