With Halloween upon us, Team Humidor has been emptying our closets in search of movies, music and games to jump start the spirit of spookiness. Because toilet papering Cliffy B’s house, soaping the windows of the police station and digging up graves are hard work, and a double shot of witch’s brew will only take you so far on its own.
So to help us (and you) get in the mood, we’ve compiled the following list of spooktacular Halloween treats. Enjoy!
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Before the day he became an odd-looking white female (which is pretty creepy in and of itself) Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, released an album, Thriller. And lo, it was given unto the masses, and we each stood and proclaimed that Billie Jean was, in fact, not our lover and that if one had a problem with such a notion, he should Beat It. Maybe it is Human Nature to desire such a PYT as she, but keep suggesting The Girl Is Mine if You Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.
But the true jewel of this illustrious album is the title track, Thriller, with the monologue by Vincent Price. Just listening once will have you craving sweet pumpkin-y treats and dancing like a zombie. Just ask these guys. – Julianne Greer, EIC, The Escapist
The Thief Franchise
One of my fondest videogame memories is from 1999 when as a teen I sat huddled in the darkness in front of my computer. Normally, I’m that guy who giggles at horror movies, but that night, as I crept through the zombie-filled caves with my friend Garrett, even the sound of the mouse as it crept across its pad set my teeth on edge. I was terrified.
Thief: The Dark Project and its sequels get plenty of critical accolades for its story, innovative sneaker gameplay and much more, but the real beauty of that game was how it really grabbed me and scared me in a way no film or game has since. As each zombie jumped out, I jumped too, literally tossing the mouse across the room. The zombie levels had me so scared that it wasn’t until years later that I actually finished the game. – Dana Massey, Senior Editor, WarCry
Halloween means zombies, and when we’re talking zombies, we’re talking Dead Rising. Not only did this zombie shooter help dig the Xbox 360 out of its post-launch grave, it also resurrected the “beat the crap out of zombies invading a mall” genre. So right out of the gate we’re talking about a great deal of zombilicious awesome.
And then you play it, and it’s exactly what you expect: hours of mindless fun stomping, beating, shooting, blending, exploding and slicing zombies. In fact, there’s even a bonus mode, minus story, where that’s pretty much all you do. And you’re in a mall, so, pretty much the sky’s the limit in terms of what you have at hand for the zombie beating. You can even break into the clothing stores and play dress up. It is, in a a few words, the perfect Halloween game.
Inspired by Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and brought to you by the Capcom, of Resident Evil fame, this is zombitastic gaming at its best. – Russ Pitts, Associate Editor, The Escapist
Duskwood Zone – World of Warcraft
From the moment you set foot in this area for the first time, you know this is not a happy forest. There will be no bluebirds on your shoulder here. Eerie music reminiscent of the Nightmare on Elm Street series begins to play when you enter and begin wonder if your monitor is starting to go bad as your screen brightness fades to darker hues. If there was ever a place you thought Halloween lived the other 364 days of the year, this is it. Haunted houses, cemeteries, ghosts, ghouls and werewolves are all denizens here. During one of my first few trips, I had been sneaking about the Raven Hill Cemetery and a hidden spider suddenly jumped out and attacked me. I screamed like a little girl, heart racing, trying to explain to the person next to me how really scary it had been. I still get mocked now and again. – JR Sutich, Razorwire
The Exorcist isn’t just the best horror movie of all time, it’s one of the best movies of all time. And it’s all in the first hour of dialogue. From Jason Miller to Linda Blair, every actor spends the first hour being, well, boring. Father Karras is a boring priest, and Regan MacNeil is a boring girl. You’re lulled into a false sense of security; how could anything happen to someone as normal as I am? But then all hell breaks loose. Suddenly, a little girl is skittering down a flight of stairs and vomiting blood, and a Jesuit priest is forced to confront his own demons while he battles a real one. And you believe every bed-shaking minute of it, because in that first hour you had everyone figured out.
And that’s why The Exorcist is terrifying; not just scary, terrifying. The movie has an air of plausibility about it that few dramas are able to achieve, and beyond that, it’s a miraculous anti-hero. You want to believe extraordinary things can happen to these boring people, no matter how terrible those things are, because it means extraordinary things can happen to you, too. The whole film is a crisis of faith in a horrific wrapper: You believe when you’re watching, and that makes you scared, and then you stop believing when the movie’s over, and that’s even scarier. – Joe Blancato, Associate Editor, The Escapist
Nothing says Halloween/creepy like an opening sequence of “Wow, I totally just killed a dude in cold blood in the bathroom of some little diner with a cop right out at the counter. I better stash the knife.” It becomes only that much weirder when you’ve managed to shuffle yourself out of the diner, into the snowy night before the murder is found … only to find you are now playing the detective assigned to solve the case.
As the temperature plummets (Hint: The European release was called Fahrenheit.) and the hallucinations get weirder, the head trip on which Indigo Prophecy whisks you away is sure to make you think about turning those lights back on, watching a happy movie or grabbing a blanket. Is it getting colder in here?? – Julianne Greer, EIC, The Escapist
Thirty years ago a man named John Carpenter took a Captain Kirk mask, a synthesizer, a few hundred thousand dollars and the daughter of the lady from Psycho and made one of the most memorable horror movies of all time, cementing his status as horror director of the stars and making the guy in the mask as recognizable a symbol of American horror as Paris Hilton.
Surprisingly, the film holds up pretty well, and although there’ practically zero blood, it’s still outright creepy. But if Jaime Lee Curtis and her 30-year-old screams don’t do it for you, then check out the recent remake (which they stupidly failed to release in time for me to watch on DVD this Halloween), directed by Rob Zombie and starring Sheri Moon Zombie. Zombie, Zombie, Zombie. With so much Zombie how can it possibly suck? – Russ Pitts, Associate Editor, The Escapist
Too often, game designers rely on surprise to scare people, and while that worked in 1999, BioShock showed that a well crafted world and a palpable tension are much more effective. Sure, bad guys sometimes jumped out from behind doors, but the image of the female splicer’s silhouette as she sang to what would turn out to be a gun in a baby carriage is seared into my mind.
BioShock was full of moments that not only engrossed me, but also put me on edge. It made the pure shock moments even more frightening and at the simple sound of a few clicks, I still involuntarily glance towards the ceiling. – Dana Massey, Senior Editor, WarCry
Trilogy of Terror, “Amelia”
I first saw this on broadcast television as a child, and 30 years later it still scares the hell out of me when I think of it. This is the story of a woman who is attacked by a cursed Zuni warrior doll. This wasn’t some cartoonish-looking Chucky doll; this was pure, shrunken evil. Karen Black was one of the very first “scream queens” and while portraying the victim, scream she did. I think part of what really solidified the fear for me so long ago was having to spend the night at my Aunt Junie’s house the same night I watched it. Junie was of Phillipino/Polynesian decent and you can guarantee she had some of those damn Tiki idols in her house. The difference between Zuni and Tiki didn’t matter when it was impossible to sleep because of the grinning menaces just waiting to steal my soul. Available on DVD, Trilogy of Terror may seem tame compared to some of the more contemporary horror offerings of late, but I dare you to watch it alone with a Tiki doll by your side. – JR Sutich, Razorwire
Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines
A game where you are the bump in the night? Total no-brainer. Troika’s Bloodlines is based on White Wolf’s World of Darkness mythos, a modern-day “gothic punk” setting in which no one’s clean and everyone has an agenda, the man in the dark suit and glasses really is watching you, that sound you heard wasn’t the wind, and your nightmares are your mind’s way of telling you what’s really up. The game is set in Los Angeles, a hotbed of supernatural activity, and something’s rotten in the City of Angels. A ship off the coast, the Elizabeth Dane (Gee, where have I heard that name before?), is carrying a sarcophagus believed to be holding the body of an ancient vampire, which has everything inhuman on edge.
Funny, sexily written and genuinely scary, Bloodlines is the best Western RPG since, well, Western RPGs. This isn’t exaggeration. Grab it off Steam for $10, grab the fan-made patch and play through the haunted house. If you haven’t jumped out of your chair by the time you’re in the basement, you don’t have a pulse – and that means you’ve already got the Halloween spirit running through you. – Joe Blancato, Associate Editor, The Escapist