It’s October History Week at the Midnight Society, so of course I wanted my post to be related to horror movies in some way. So I decided to look back at the history of horror film releases in October, and what I found was kind of interesting. Over at www.the-numbers.com, you can check out movie releases by month and year. So, I started looking back at what horror films were released in October back in the day, and outside of a few milestone movies, October didn’t really become a month known for horror flicks until the early 1980s. In fact, October didn’t really look like a big release month at all. But let’s focus on the horror flicks for today.
Night of the Living Dead was released in October of 1968.
It wasn’t until October of 1974 that we saw another major horror release, with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
And it would be another four years before Halloween came along in October of 1978.
But from 1978 forward, there was at least one horror movie released in theaters during October for the next decade plus (I’ve bolded the ones I highly recommend):
1979–Nosferatu the Vampyre
1980–The Awakening, Motel Hell
1981–The Pit, Halloween II, Looker*
1982–Time Walker, Halloween III, The Sender
1983–The Prey, Possession, The Dead Zone
1984–Terror in the Aisles
1985–Silver Bullet, Re-Animator
1986–Deadly Friend, Trick or Treat
1987–Prom Night 2, Nightflyers, Prince of Darkness, The Hidden
1988–Halloween 4, Night of the Demons, Pumpkinhead
1989–Halloween 5, Shocker
1990–Night of the Living Dead (remake), Graveyard Shift
Not to mention, by 1990, the direct-to-video market was in full swing as well, so the theatrical releases were complimented by new horror flicks at the video store (Troll 2 was released in October of 1990, for example).
My take on this? It seems to me that the original Halloween firmly established October as a month for horror film releases. Which makes perfect sense, as by the time Halloween III came around, the franchise was synonymous with the month and the holiday. If you’re a horror fan, you can’t even hear the word Halloween and not think of the movie first (ironically, it wouldn’t return for six years after the third installment).
It’s also interesting to think back to a time when we actually had to wait for content to come out in the theaters. We now live in an era where we can have a horror movie marathon at the click of a button or tap of a screen. Back then, we savored each release, and the wait between the theatrical run and home video was agonizing. Today, many horror flicks are released on video the same day they hit theaters (Phantasm: RaVager being the most recent example).
So, we have yet another reason to love the Halloween franchise–it helped solidify October as a month for horror flicks. What are some of your favorites from the list above?
*NOTE: While Michael Crichton’s Looker is not technically a horror film, I put it on the list above because everyone should watch it. Released in 1981, it’s a thriller that looks at the objectification of women in advertising and how the watching public can be manipulated. It also features a mind-freezing gun that puts the one in Men in Black to shame. Oh, and the title song by Sue Saad is amazing.