It’s that time of year again
…when we dress up as monsters or favorite TV characters, or even the scariest of them all…
Dressed as someone else we go around to our neighbors’ homes with a greeting which basically says “give me treats or else”. And to think it’s perfectly legal one day out of the year, even if you do get a lot of people telling you that you’re a little tall for trick or treating. Some people just have to try to ruin the holiday.
And of course during the Halloween season comes an interest in one particular fun activity, and that is watching horror movies. From going to the movie theater to catching a special on TV, our parents and grandparents probably reflect on their “those were the days” as children. For many of us it was going to the video store or to a rack of videos they got in at the five and dime every Halloween.
Today things are quite different, and very much for the better. With video cameras not needing to be a major investment and the abilty to edit films on a computer, many talented filmmakers have made some fantastic films for a fraction the cost of even only a decade ago. And with the internet offering things such as streaming and much better download speeds these days, you don’t even have to leave your home to find those entertaining movies for Halloween.
…But where to start?
Well this is where I come in as I’m giving you a list of 13 independent films from short subjects to full length movies which are fitting for this Halloween season. From completely free to watch movies to films you can rent or buy online. The makers of these films not only come from all walks of life, and from many different corners of the globe, they are often the ones taking the risks with original works the big studios are afraid to touch, well because they are doing their own thing rather than copying a tried and true “safe” gamble that has been made 20 times over already.
From a local Mississippi director born and raised in Hattiesburg to a famous TV personality now living in Louisiana and making his own films how he wants to make them. From East Coast to West Coast, and on the other side of the Atlantic are people making films, and from the comfort of your home you can watch these gems.
Let’s meet the filmmakers and their films:
…is no stranger to… well, almost anybody conscious. From his breakout role as Bo Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard to Smallville and presently Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, he not only shattered typecasting but also reinvented his career several times becoming a fixture to different generations of TV viewers. John has also maintained a presence in movies and in the past several years has opened his own movie studio in Louisiana making films the way he wants to make them.
Due to problems being experienced on Vimeo with the popularity of his latest film 4:GO, as an alternative you can go to John’s official website to rent or buys his films on DVD.
A twisted black comedy or horror comedy depending on how you want to look at it, is drenched in splatter movie gooeyness throughout. You’ll find things to laugh at, and you’ll be ashamed you laughed at it. An at times surreal, hedonistic and tongue in cheek killing spree painted in crimson starring Jordan Salloum, Maddie Nichols, Dane Rhodes, Brande Roderick and a cameo by John Schneider.
With horror conventions being all the rage and bringing in icons from horror movies to sign autographs, well what happens if it’s a flop? In this movie some famous horror icons ditch the convention to take a gig scaring people at a campground, but they aren’t the only troublemakers out this night. A horror comedy featuring actual horror icons Kane Hodder (Jason from several Friday the 13th films), Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, The Devil’s Rejects, Night of the Living Dead ’90), Don Shanks (Michael Myers in Halloween 5), R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3) and Malcolm Danare (Christine), with a special appearance by Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes ’77)
The latest from John Schneider is a tale of revenge and horror as 4 escaped inmates make their way through the woods with a hostage in tow, and a posse on their trail. But things aren’t quite what they seem. Brings together an all-star cast with Dean Cain of Lois & Clark, Buff Bagwell, Don Shanks who wore the mask of Michael Myers, and country music superstars Johnny Lee and Mickey Gilley.
…is a native son of Mississippi, having been born and raised in Hattiesburg, excelling in film and academia he infuses his films with a deeper meaning, from drama to horror. Bringing it home to Mississippi you will see familiar faces of actors from the region in his films including John Schneider, Gary Grubbs and Jessica Harthcock. Find out more about Miles and his films on his website Historia Films or the companion Facebook page.
Among Doleac’s latest offerings is a film that appears to be a take-off on The Exorcist from all appearances of the poster, but appearances can be deceiving and if you like a thoughtful thriller for your horror, this is one to check out. A talented cast includes Miles Doleac himself, Lindsay Anne Williams, Andrew Divoff, John Schneider, Gary Grubbs and Jessica Harthcock.
…began as a fan of horror movies running a blog, reviewing movies, founding the Fright Meter Awards, and maintaining his craft in writing fiction since elementary school, he eventually turned his sights to making his own movies.
Six high school friends skip out of their high school after prom party for their own celebration in a secluded old house, but it seems somebody else wants to join the party, uninvited. Genre fave Tommie Lee Vegas heads up the cast in this tribute to 80s slasher movies. Below is the trailer but you can also check out the Party Night official website.
…has a wicked sense of humor seemingly well nourished by an endless supply of old VHS horror movies. He is based in Las Vegas, Nevada where he ‘gambles’ at making low budget horror movies (don’t hate me for that). From writing, producing and acting in films, and working at just about every job on a movie set, he has turned to directing his own feature film, though still mugging for the camera behind the scenes.
Pool Party Massacre
High maintenance socialites take to relaxing by the pool on a lazy summer day when an unknown killer decides to join the party, naturally uninvited of course. Described as “A micro budget love letter to both ‘80s slashers and the VHS tapes on which they often found their lasting home” by Kevan Farrow of Scream Magazine and “… everything I hoped it would be and more. It features everything I love in a horror film: Beautiful women, nudity, and gory kills” by Charlie Cargile of PopHorror, Pool Party Massacre stars Kristen Noel McKusick, Alexis Adams, Crystal Stoney, Drew Marvick and Jenifer Marvick, no relation…kidding!
Special thanks to Drew Marvick and his film Pool Party Massacre for permission to use a screencap of the screamer, Crystal Stoney, for the header of this article. Do check out the Pool Party Massacre official website for information and cool Pool Party Massacre merchandise.
…is an up and coming writer/director to keep on your radar. Raised by Amish farmers, kidnapped by Gypsies then abandoned in New York City when they realized their mistake (I may have embellished …just a bit), Brandon has been involved with sketch comedy and improv for over a decade, and it shows in his work. He additionally has a keen eye as a director and the ability to juggle a complex project and turn it into solid and successful film.
And a bad habit of mine is forgetting to mention Rey Alli, Bassham’s co-conspirator in crime… er, I mean in film production. One half of the team, with Brandon Bassham, that make up Annum Films.
Fear Town, USA
Paraphrasing from my own review, Fear Town, USA is simply the horror comedy of its decade and destined to be a cult classic. Parodying a slew of 70s and 80s horror movies, it hits its mark time and time again. It features the talents of Anna Callegari, Cody Lindquist, Amber Sophia Nelson, Avery Monsen, Patrick Foy, Mark Vigeant and a cast of thousands (there goes that embellishing again). And it gets even better since you can watch the full movie for free on YouTube. It is also available with its sister feature, The Slashening, on Blu-ray distributed by Troma.
This time around the focus is more specifically on the 80s slasher movie, parodying most everything about slasher movies, but not everything as there is a sequel in the works. Featuring many of the same cast and crew from Fear Town, USA having much of the same fun they did with that movie. If you want to see the sequel completed, movies don’t make themselves, you can contribute to their GoFundMe page.
…is from Chicago, Illinois; that little town up North. With an actor as a father and a costume designer as a mother, stage and screen are in his genes. An experimental filmmaker and self-professed slasher movie fan, he brings to the screen fan films returning to those favorite 80s slasher icons. He is additionally a skilled composer having done music for the feature film Fighting Belle, and for Sean Riley’s Second Acts Podcast.
The Shape Returns
A short subject “Halloween” film paying homage to the John Carpenter classic as Michael Myers returns one Halloween night to torment a young teen; what Michael does best. Mykee co-directed this with Tony Crespo, and made by a team of friends and former peers from Chicago’s Tribeca Flashpoint College. This is set to be released on YouTube on October 28. The link is to the film’s YouTube channel. You can also check out the film’s Facebook page.
In the spirit of 80’s horror anthologies like Amazing Stories, Tales from the Darkside and Monsters comes this new anthology of short subjects.
Episode 1: Don’t Disrupt the Dead – It’s 1985. Jake and his brother Chris visit a graveyard where Jake desecrates his dead teacher’s tombstone. Little did they know an angry spirit of the dead is lurking nearby waiting to seek vengeance for their foul deed.
Episode 2: Hands to Hold You – A high school couple’s romantic night is turned to a nightmare by a demonic intruder!
You’ll find even more from Mykee on his YouTube channels. In the works for the near future is also a Friday the 13th fan film.
…is a professional drummer and an avid horror movie fan. Seeking a change in his life he decided to make low budget horror movies full time under the name TBRvideo for his video company. He has several horror short subjects available online for free viewing, under TBRvideo, on YouTube and Vimeo. Stay updated by following TBRvideo on Twitter.
In the First Few Days
Jenny wakes up in the woods wrapped in a blanket left for dead. The last memory she has is her boyfriend kissing her. Jenny is showing abnormal behavior, headaches, vomiting blood, paranoia, and hallucinations. We follow Jenny on a personal journey to find out why she was left in the woods and her search for answers. A near 53 minute film starring Brittany Cox which you can watch for free online.
…is last on our list but far from least on our list. We head across the Atlantic to Scotland where Grant McPhee does some incredible work on a small budget; most movie sets spend more for lunch than the budget he works with. An experimental filmmaker, his approach shatters conformity while building a montage that successfully spins a narrative not soon forgotten.
A vampire movie in a different vein (Get it?! Don’t hate ). Infused with psychedelic imagery, Night Kaleidoscope tells the story of a vampire hunter using his psychic gifts, amplified by drug use, and the vampires he hunts. This is not your usual vampire story, or your usual movie. Surrealist and gruesome it will stay with you. Stars Patrick O’Brien, Mariel McAllan, Kitty Colquhoun, Jason Harvey, Craig-James Moncur, Robert Williamson, and Ashley Sutherland as the Cat Girl. Find more information on Night Kaleidoscope from its official website, follow Grant McPhee on Twitter or read my review.
A passion for indie films
…is a wonderful passion to have. Indie filmmakers are doing incredible work. What grassroots filmmakers are able to produce today in many cases is as good as anything coming out of the big studios, quality-wise, and certainly more original. John Schneider and Miles Doleac in comparison to the rest of the filmmakers on this list do have more resources and connections, but still compared to big productions they are doing just as good if not better of a job on only a fraction of the resources. But regardless of the resources any of these filmmakers have, unlike the deep pockets of the big studios their everything is on the line. So if you enjoy their work, support their work, and spread the word about the fine films they and others like them are producing.
I can’t rave about indie films enough. Many times I have seen big budget movies that were a disappointment; several times in a row as a matter of fact. It is an uncommon thing for me to be disappointed by an indie film. Free or paid, check out these films, and you’ll find more along your journey, and of course have some fun this Halloween.