As the Halloween season draws to its glorious close, we revert to the well for the final weekend of the month: that’s right, we’re looking at more anthology films. Why, you ask? The answer is almost deceptively simple: because they’re awesome. And as I sit here writing this, fully aware that the impending hurricane currently stalking the east coast just may swipe this review right out of my hands, I’m keenly aware of what my wife and I are going to do when the lights go out. And after we do that, we’re gonna tell some killer scary stories. (HEY-OHH!)

After all, the scary story is one of the purest forms of horror lore; back when we looked at Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, we discussed that a little bit. So as you’re gearing up for All Hallow’s Eve, what’s more satisfying than sitting down and enjoying a series of bite-sized frights? (Nothing. Nothing is the answer we were looking for.)

Worlds apart from the campy series that its moniker is known for, Tales From the Crypt boasts all the gravity of the best old-school Amicus anthologies; largely devoid of winking humor, Tales From the Crypt is stone-faced and glorious. The scares come fast and furious, from frame one, a Christmas-themed episode featuring a deranged Santa Claus. That it’s not played for laughs makes it all the more glorious: from Santa’s first wild-eyed appearance at the window, it’s shockingly effective at playing its scares. (Contrast this with, say, Silent Night, Deadly Night, which bombed a whole killer-Santa-themed movie.) As with the best horror anthologies, the segments are largely focused on blackly ironic twists, and feature terrible people getting their deserved comeuppance; it’s predictable, and delightful.

Creepshow, meanwhile, aims to put the fun back in Halloween; these five stories (the bastard children of George Romero and ’80s Stephen King, a match made in horror heaven) are campy and wily, and feature just enough creepy-crawlies and slam-bang visual panache to work. Structured as a sort of live comic book — a cinematic resurrection of those musty old E.C. rags — these stories range from chintzy and hilarious (“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” and it’s author’s immortally drawled line “ugh, meteor shit!”) to exercises in bone-chilling terror (“The Crate” is one of the most vaunted horror segments of all time, but for my money, it’s the final segment, “They’re Creeping Up On You”, that makes my skin crawl right off of my body). But they’re all fun, and Creepshow is one of the best times you can have in this genre we call horror: it never takes itself too seriously, but when it aims to scare, watch out.

More 31 Days of Halloween:
Day 1: May
Day 2: The Night of the Hunter
Day 3: The Descent
Day 4: Night of the Demons
Day 5: Them
Days 6 & 7: Night of the Living Dead // Dawn of the Dead
Day 8: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Day 9: A Tale of Two Sisters
Day 10: When a Stranger Calls // Amusement
Day 11: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Day 12: The Orphanage
Day 13: I Know What You Did Last Summer
Day 14: Dressed to Kill
Day 15: Deep Red
Day 16: Jeepers Creepers
Day 17: Black Sabbath
Day 18: V/H/S
Day 19: Sleepaway Camp
Days 20-22: The MistThe Shining, & Silver Bullet
Days 23-24: SplinterThe Host
Day 25: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Day 26: Ginger Snaps

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