If you're looking to celebrate Halloween with some scary movies, and Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street seem a little been there, screamed that, here's a nifty trilogy for you.
Return of the Living Dead III (1993)
This zombie flick from has everything going against it—it's a part III, and it went straight to video. But don't let that fool you; thanks to visionary director Brian Yuzna (Reanimator), this is a terrific film with an original take on the living dead mythos. While the original Return of the Living Dead was a blackly comic romp, and part II was even goofier, part III is deadly serious. It portrays the saga of doomed lovers Curt (hunky J. Trevor Edmond) and Julie (Melinda Clarke, later The OC's fabulous Julie Cooper), who stumble upon Curt's dad's involvement with the reanimating Trioxin formula. When Julie dies in a motorcycle accident, Curt foolishly resurrects her with the stuff, and she gradually transforms into a flesh hungry ghoul with the military in hot pursuit. What makes the movie truly unforgettable is Julie's use of freaky piercings to quell her cravings, resulting in a movie that melds sex and death to spectacular effect. Return of the Living Dead III is an awesome underrated film that stands alone even if you've never seen the others.
Back in the 90s, my dad dragged me to a weird-looking cannibal comedy thriller I had no interest in seeing—and it turned out to be one of the greatest horror films in years. Antonia Bird, who helmed the gay themed Priest, directs this startlingly original tale of a disgraced soldier (a pre-LA Confidential Guy Pearce) who falls under the spell of a sinister cannibal (The Full Monty's Robert Carlyle) in the days of the American frontier. Veering wildly from comedy, to intense horror, Ravenous captivates with stirring performances, gorgeous cinematography, and an absolutely amazing score by Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn. As a bonus, hilarious queer actor Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Beetlejuice) and David Arquette both costar.
I discovered this movie at the Tribeca Film Festival and have raved about it to anyone who'll listen. Vampires have been done to death at this point (no pun intended), but Neil Jordan's unique opus is one of the most original takes on the creatures I've ever seen. Its sumptuous visuals, arresting performances (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan star as nomadic mother and daughter vamps) and female focus make this prime cult fodder. Vivid period flashbacks, a curious romance between Ronan and the always intriguing Caleb Landry Jones and a lush score make Byzantium emotionally resonant, electrifying entertainment.