Halloween is just like the last monster in a Scarowind’s haunted house; it’s just around the corner, ready to jump out at you and before you know it, the whole experience will be over until next year. Over the next few days, everyone needs to maximize the spookiness in their lives to get the most out of this Halloween season.
Personally, my favorite way to get into the Halloween spirit is to watch a horror movie or two, and there’s only one place in Charlotte to load up for a bone-chilling movie marathon: VisArt Video.
VisArt Video, an #OGclt independent video store, has served as Charlotte’s ultimate film connection for well over 30 years. The store has over 40,000 Blu-rays, DVDs and VHS tapes available for rental and a big chunk of that is the best horror collection I’ve ever seen. There are the classics like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street but their horror section goes much, much deeper than that.
I wanted to show off VisArt’s massive collection by finding some under-the-radar films that any horror fan would love. I turned to Matt Christiansen, the manager at VisArt, to help recommend a few films from their wide selection that you might not have heard of, but will definitely want to see.
Remember, these films are available for rent and are just the tip of their horror iceberg. Each film recommended in this article will be included in a photo gallery below so that you can enjoy the stellar box art and you’ll know what you’re looking for when you go to rent them!
Inspired by the horror writings of H.P. Lovecraft, this Japanese film is all about messing with your mind. The film relies on its overwhelming sense of unease and dread as you watch the members of the film’s village slowly drift into madness. What causes this madness? Spirals. Yep, there’s no big baddie here, just spirals. And you know what? Spirals are enough. Check this film out. You’ve never seen anything like it.
The track record of Nicholas Cage films hasn’t been great over the past decade. But, Mandy is an exception. This revenge tale has Cage pitted against a twisted cult, while he gives one of his best performances of all time. Surreal. Unnerving. Trippy. Hyper-violent. These are just a few words that can describe Mandy. Oh, and there’s a duel with chainsaws. That’s worth the rental price in itself.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
It seems like every store in Charlotte has already started putting out Christmas decorations, so you might as well hop on the bandwagon and watch a Christmas horror movie this Halloween. This Finnish film reveals the dark truth behind our beloved Santa Claus. And, it’s the first film to focus on the mythology of Krampus.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
It’s directed by Wes Craven and stars Bill Pullman. That’s all you really need to know. But, if you do need to know more, it’s about an anthropologist who travels to Haiti after hearing about a potion that Haitian Vodou practitioners use to bring the dead back to life. It’s often regarded as one of the best zombie movies of all time.
The Void (2016)
If you want to see a 1980s movie that was made in 2016, then The Void might be right up your alley. A small-town cop + a weird cult + frightening creatures + an overall air of mystery = countless movies from the 80s. The Void solves this equation while remaining unique. And, can we all agree that there’s nothing better than practical effects done really, really well? Because The Void does them really, really well. If you’re a fan of The Thing, go pick this up.
While Matt walked me around the store to give me his recommendations, I couldn’t help but see a few of my favorite horror flicks lurking around. My five picks aren’t nearly as rare but I couldn’t resist giving a few spooky recommendations of my own. Just like all of the films above, these are available for rent at VisArt.
This was the first feature film Jennifer Anniston ever starred in. I’m not saying that her performance of facing off with a psycho leprechaun was what got her on Friends just a year later, but I’m also not NOT saying that. It’s funny. It’s weird. Go watch it.
The Wolf Man (1941)
The most classic werewolf movie of all time. Fun fact: this was the first movie that ever scared me. My family used to always eat at Wolfman Pizza (another #OGclt establishment) when I was growing up and they would have this movie playing on a TV in the corner at all times. 4-year-old me did not enjoy this film. 25-year-old me does.
It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966)
Yes, I’m aware this isn’t a horror movie, but it might just be the most essential Halloween movie of all time. I’ve seen this movie every Halloween of my life. I don’t even know if I really like it but I’ll somehow end up watching it this year, next year and the year after that. I believe in the Great Pumpkin, and believing is half the battle (the other half is knowing).
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
If you’re looking for a frightful foreign film to watch on Halloween, my pick would be The Devil’s Backbone. It’s one of the best ghost stories I’ve seen on film and it’ll give you a good scare or three. This haunting tale was written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, the genius behind Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak and The Shape of Water. You know what? Go rent all of those, too. They’re worth it.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
In my humble opinion, this 1968 film is the best zombie movie ever made that isn’t named Dawn of the Dead. I’m a simple man. I like my zombie movies to be directed by George A Romero and have the words “of,” “the” and “dead” in the title.
If you want even more movie goodness, VisArt is hosting their monthly VHS Potluck on Wednesday, October 30 at 7:30pm. The idea for the VHS Potluck is that everyone brings in an obscure VHS you have never watched and hopefully no one in the audience has seen either. To quote VisArt’s Instagram post, “THE WEIRDER & DUMBER THE BETTER.”
Everyone votes on the movie they want to watch, and then they enjoy the weirdness of whatever is selected. This month’s theme is horror, of course. You don’t have to bring in a VHS to participate.
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