Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, focusing on some spooky selections to help boost your Halloween celebrations.
Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)
Halloween (2018) – 40 years (!!!!) after the John Carpenter original helped Shape the early stirrings of the slasher genre, this timeline-resetting sequel promises to return the series back to its grounded, horrifying roots. The early buzz is strong, the creative team (fronted by David Gordon Green & Danny McBride, of all people) seems genuinely passionate, Jamie Lee Curtis is back to afford it legitimacy, and it’s the exact right time of the year to see this kind of thing big & loud with a first-weekend crowd. Hell yeah.
Bad Times at the El Royale – Six whole years ago, Drew Goddard’s debut feature Cabin in the Woods brought the meta-horror of Wes Craven works like New Nightmare & Scream to a new level of comedic what-the-fuckery. His only credits as a director since have been a couple (excellent) episodes of The Good Place, so this twisty, star-studded neo-noir follow-up feature is much-anticipated (and is supported by one of the year’s best trailers).
Hell Fest – It’s the final week of October, which means it’s time to indulge in as many gimmicky, mainstream horrors as possible before Halloween comes & goes. This one is set at a haunted house amusement park, appearing to fall halfway between the grime of The Funhouse & the slick production of the Final Destination series in its basic aesthetic. It almost doesn’t even matter if it ends up being any good; it’s just the exact right season to see a ridiculous horror movie big & loud with a multiplex crowd.
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – I didn’t expect to love 2015’s Goosebumps movie nearly as much as I did, but it ended up excelling as a children’s primer for life-long horror fandom, like a Monster Squad update for a generation raised on CGI. I’m going into this sequel with a much higher level of anticipation, for better or for worse.
The House with the Clock in Its Walls – Eli Roth made a name for himself in one of horror’s worst creative slumps: the torture porn nu-metal aughts. He hasn’t been of much interest to me as a result, but recent tongue-in-cheek pranks like the Keanu Reeves head-scratcher Knock Knock have been slowly changing my mind on that, so his directing a PG-rated haunted house comedy for children certainly has an unignorable allure to it. I’m foolishly optimistic.
Movies We Already Enjoyed
Psycho (1960) – Alfred Hitchcock’s infamous proto-slasher is likely the classiest way you can celebrate Halloween on the big screen. The Prytania’s semi-regular screenings of The Master of Suspense’s greatest works are always worth attending, but rarely are they this seasonally appropriate. Playing Sunday 10/28 & Wednesday 10/31 as part of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.
Hocus Pocus (1993) – Returning for its 25th Anniversary (via AMC Theatres), this horror-themed Disney comedy has become something of a Halloween-season standard, but it can rarely be seen in a proper theatrical setting. Comedic performances from Bette Midler, Kathy Najimi, and (my personal favorite) Sarah Jessica Parker as the Sanderson Sister witches are obviously the main draw, but may I suggest that the brief cameo from Mr. Gary Marshall as Satan is the secret highlight?
Ghostbusters (1984) – Another big-budget horror-comedy crowd-pleaser that most of us likely grew up with on VHS instead of experiencing it on the big screen in its initial run. Playing Saturday 10/27 & Sunday 10/28 as the final events of Prytania’s fantastic Kill-o-Rama series.
Venom – A C-grade superhero movie that treads water for at least a half-hour, then mutates into an A+ slapstick body-horror comedy with an outright Nic Cagian lead performance from Tom Hardy. Venom is a less satirically pointed, big-budget version of Upgrade or a modernized Henenlotter, but its highs are also much funnier (and surprisingly queerer) than either of those reference points. It’s a lot of fun if you maintain your patience through the first act.
Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – Even if you’re not the kind of person who regularly attends audience-participation Rocky Horror happenings, there’s no better time than Halloween to give it a go, as it’s pretty much a self-contained horror/sci-fi costume party. Playing (at midnight!) Friday 10/26, Saturday 10/27, and Wednesday 10/31 (with an extra 10pm showing added for Halloween night).