Forget dressing up for Halloween parties—you’re an adult now. The appropriate course now is to sit in the dark scaring yourself silly with classic horror movies while you stuff your face with candy because no trick-or-treaters ever make it to the sixth floor of a walk-up. And while he didn’t always work inside the genre (see: Escape From New York), John Carpenter has always been a master of it, easily equal to your murderous movie marathons.
Well, sure, duh, it’s got “Halloween” right in the title. But it’s well worth seeing the film that launched a million knockoff slashers, establishing all those beloved clichés about innocent virgins and un-killable psychos. These are also undoubtedly some of the most sensational stabbings since that one notable Hitchcock shower scene.
Assault on Precinct 13
Nothing supernatural to fear here, not even the uncanny Michael Myers, only the relentless hate and bloodlust of our fellow human beings. Carpenter gives politically-correct inclusivity a sick twist as a gang with members of every race turns out to be more of an army, and not inclined to let themselves be ruled by the cops, who fight for their lives against an inexhaustible siege.
A slow burn, but an extremely satisfying one, with some of the creepiest shots in the Carpenter repertoire: he shoots those rolling, smoky mists with an almost tender touch, and they conceal some top-notch ghouls. With an unexplained phenomenon killing people in a small northwestern town and some dire post-colonial overtones, this is the total package.
The story of a man who discovers that life on earth is not what he assumed, and from there goes on a bloody rampage in order to kill every parasitic monster hiding in plain sight, They Live will make you laugh even as it unsettles and challenges your deepest beliefs; this dread is only compounded by the passing thought that wrestler Roddy Piper, who plays the tough-guy lead, has actually snapped and is just shooting innocent people.