Let’s say you’re more “Halloween” than Halloween. You love scary movies, but the actual holiday makes you want to punch a drunken Dracula in the plastic fangs. You’d much rather turn off the lights, ignore the trick-or-treaters at the door, dig your nails into the couch and enjoy a good (or bad-good) horror movie at home. But first you must sort through the fright-flick detritus.
For guidance, I asked the authors of three newly released books about horror movies and poster design to make recommendations for a perfect stay-at-home Halloween film festival. Each author selected a single under-the-radar favorite mentioned in his book. (Forget “Psycho” or “Friday the 13th.”) Additional criteria were that the film have dynamic artwork and be available on DVD. Together, the selections constitute a lowbrow triple feature that’s likely to provoke more giggles than screams.
“Killer Klowns From Outer Space: (1988)
From “Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art From the Underground” (Schiffer)
By Matthew Chojnacki
This horror-comedy hybrid about clown-aliens who harvest humans for food is a good choice for fans of “big hair and bad sweaters,” said Chojnacki, whose book is a collection of fan-designed posters for their favorite horror, sci-fi and underground films. In the movie, directed by Stephen Chiodo, victims are hunted with balloon animals, shot with popcorn and tapped for blood with Krazy Straws. The poster was created by Joe Simko, a designer of the popular Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages trading cards.
“Attack of the Crab Monsters” (1957)
From “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman: King of the B Movie” (Abrams)
By Chris Nashawaty
This atomic-age tale, from the renegade B-movie director Roger Corman, is about a crew of scientists (one is played by Russell Johnson, the professor from “Gilligan’s Island”) who encounter giant, man-eating crustaceans on an island in the South Pacific. Designed by Albert Kallis, the poster features an attack-by-claw scene that isn’t in the movie.
“I love the blocky font, the patently phony-looking crab monster and the hint of sex,” said Nashawaty, whose book is a decades-spanning look at Corman’s babes-and-behemoths body of work. (He received an honorary Academy Award in 2009.)
“Burial Ground’ (aka “The Nights of Terror”) (1981)
From “Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey” (Headpress)
By Joseph A. Ziemba and Dan Budnik
Andrea Bianchi’s Italian grindhouse film about an invasion of flesh-ripping zombies is perfect “for throwing a degenerate Halloween party,” said Ziemba, whose book features low-budget artwork from the seedier years in the golden age of VHS. Ziemba is offering high praise when he describes the poster design as coming from unknown “sicko geniuses” whose work “suggests a subversive fairy tale land where artists couldn’t care less about making things look good.”