Halloween Gift Guide: Tricks, treats, frights and fun

Halloween is my favorite time of the year as monsters in all shapes and sizes take to the streets in search of candy and treats. (Photo: Insight Editions, Universal, Shout! Factory, Warner Bros., Disney, Funko, Arrow Films, Quiver Films, Paramount, Funko,{ }Lokai,{ }RLJE Films){ }

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Sure, we're forced to enjoy it from a safe distance, but that doesn't mean we can't share a few scares or populate our shelves with a variety of Funko Pop! figures (they make the backgrounds of our Zoom meetings all the more interesting). I took a dive into the rabbit hole and uncovered a variety of movies and collectables that speak to the many aspects of my Halloween and horror fandom.

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  • Beetlejuice - I came of age watching Tim Burton movies . His gothic-carnival aesthetic suited me perfectly. "Beetlejuice" is a wonderful mix of irreverent and strange. It's also now in 4K, which brings all the little details into focus (Jack Skellington Easter egg included).
  • Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! - The most recent Scooby-Doo! title features a classic mystery and an appearance by Elvira.
  • Hocus Pocus - When I worked retail, I often marveled at how many copies of "Hocus Pocus" we'd sell every October. Now director Kenny Ortega is talking about transforming the movie into a Broadway musical. I'd watch that. In the meantime we have the new 4K release and a Ravensburger board game. The

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  • Friday the 13th Collection: Deluxe Edition - I own the previous "Friday the 13th Collection," but this trumps that release in everyway as it includes new transfers for the first four films, newly discovered deleted footage bonus features and the third film is in 3D. It's mindboggling.
  • Box Sets and Collector's Editions - If you're a fan of classic Universal horror films from the 1930-1960s, the Universal Horror Collection series will introduce you to films that are just off the beaten path. They've also brought "The Vincent Price Collection" back from the dead (so you won't have to pay hundreds of dollars for a second-hand copy). Recent horror Collector's Editions include "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie," "Ghost Ship," and "April Fool's Day." Contemporary titles include "Babadook" director Jennifer Kent's latest "The Nightingale" and The Soska Sisters remake of David Cronenberg's "Rabid."

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  • Shudder - Shudder is primarily a streaming service that focuses on the horror genre, but they recognize that there are still fans who prefer physical product over digital media. Many of their original movies, documentaries and series. Recent titles include the Canadian reanimation film "Blood Quantum," the revived anthology series "Creepshow: Season 1," the documentary series "Cursed Films," "Scare Package" an anthology of short films and "Z," a ghostly tale centered on an 8-year-old boy's imaginary friend.
  • Arrow Films - Arrow Films are a legendary label that specializes in genre and classic catalog releases with the occasional new film thrown in. They're primarily a UK label, but their reach into the US market has increased considerably over the past couple of years. They've also just launched a streaming service, Arrow Video Channel, that features an eclectic mix of titles in and out of the horror genre. Recent physical releases include the campy "Elvira Mistress of the Dark," "Solid Metal Nightmares," a box set from Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto, Hideo Nakata's original Ringu trilogy in "Ringu Collection," contemporary horror in "The Deeper You Dig," and the dark "Comic," a tale of a standup comedian who is willing to do anything to be a success.

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  • Contemporary Cinema - Recent releases include the wild Nick Cage's Lovecraftian horror "Color Out of Space," the second season of Joe Hill's "NOS4A2," "Eli Roth's History of Horror," where the director/writer sits down to talk horror with some of the people who shaped the genre, "Spree," a rideshare horror featuring Joe Keery from "Stranger Things," and the animated mayhem of "To Your Last Death."
  • Cult Cinema - There's a lot of nostalgia associated with the horror genre. Some reach back to the Universal monster films or the Hammer films that came soon after. Others look to the 1970s and early 1980s where directors were pushing the limits with their ultra-violent shockers. "Suspiria" was recently reimagined, but the original Dario Argento film remains the definitive experience. Synapse Film's 4K release, approved by cinematographer Luciano Tovoli, is a must own for genre fans. Elsewhere Blue Undergound has served up their own platter of splatter films in 4K with "The Daughters of Darkness," "The House By The Cemetery", "The New York Ripper," "Maniac," and "Zombie."

  • Insight Editions Themed Notebooks - Many of my favorite horror films started out as novels or short stories. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I'd love for those inclined to write to pick up a notebook and start jotting down ideas that, if nurtured, will grow into something more.
  • The Folio Book of Horror Stories - If you're looking explore the written world of horror, I'd highly recommend "The Folio Book of Horror Stories," a collection that includes Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King and many others.
  • King Adaptations and Inspirations - I mentioned the Stephen King 5-film collection earlier, other recent King releases include both chapters of "It" and "The Shining" in 4K as well as two seasons of "Castle Rock," a series that draws upon numerous King stories to populate the fictional town of Castle Rock.
  • The Haunting of Hill House - Mike Flanagan's adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel was a massive hit for Netflix in 2018. In 1999, Jackson's story was also the basis for "The Haunting," a film from Jan de Bont. Paramount is adding the latter to its Paramount Presents collection.

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