Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Vice Squad (1982)

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One thing I wouldn’t anticipate from a sordid exploitation guilty pleasure like Vice Squad is a disclaimer that the film was produced with the contributions and cooperation of the Los Angeles law enforcement. Gary Sherman bedraggles and tarnishes the West Coast boulevards until they rival the prostitution rings and narcotics parade that was 42nd Street in New York.

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

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Before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and after Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper was a WWF wrestler on the precipice of crossover stardom. Honestly, his husky screen presence and luxurious blonde locks in both They Live (spawning Duke Nukem catchphrase “I’ve come to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum.”) and Hell Comes to Frogtown should’ve ossified his transition.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Scars of Dracula (1970)

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A spurious bat on a string flaps into Dracula’s castle and expectorates blood onto the Count’s desiccated ashes. Voila, the baron has risen again but the low budget restrictions are definitely evident this time around. When the irate townspeople cordially knock on the door to the cliffside manor for Dracula’s servant to open the barricade, the scene is such a falsely polite and ingratiating bluff (“I promise I’m alone”), it should’ve been the droll parody that Dracula Dead and Loving It was proclaimed as.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Fade to Black (1980)

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Movie buffs are often portrayed as cloistered introverts whose only prism through life is a silver screen. I, for one, can occasionally become fixated upon an era or filmography of an auteur to the point of insalubrious mania. Fade to Black is a pathologically brackish, remarkably egalitarian thriller that tackles the sun-starved isolation of Eric Binford (Dennis Christopher), a malcontent cinephile who can quote and collate listless trivia about James Cagney in White Heat and his other idols.

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Little Monsters (2019)

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On the heels of Zombieland 2: Double Tap, another undead farce could be an insurmountable stretch for viewers to rekindle for. Haven’t we lampooned, spoofed and tar-and-feathered the whole sect of flesh-eaters yet? Could there possibly be another oblique angle for Little Monsters to capitalize on? As it turns out, this Australian romp doesn’t warrant its accessibility with the wanton annoyance of a bickering couple finally separating from each other.

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Man’s Best Friend (1993)

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With Victorian pictures of canines throughout the centuries, Man’s Best Friend is already laughably pretentious. The insistently obtrusive and downright ear-ravaging score from Joel Goldsmith is another misstep. Writer-director of the equally underwhelming Child’s Play 2, John Lafia is utterly tone-deaf and the film teeters uncomfortably near spoof territory if only it wasn’t so staggeringly lumpen.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

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F.W. Murnau’s 1922 picture was a revolutionary landmark for the silent film era and it was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula which is why the monikers (a giggling Renfield is still intact) and situations have been slightly modified to avoid copyright infringement. Nevertheless, with a live orchestra, the film is still an audacious shocker. It would almost be sacrilegious for anyone to remake it. However, the pugnacious team of Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski were dithyrambic enough to embark upon it.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – The Relic (1997)

Peter Hyams is not only a director but he is also his own cinematographer. One of his stipulations with this film is that it not be deluged with artificial lighting. Because of that, the film oozes nyctophobic atmosphere as the hallways and corridors of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History are barely discernible and therefore, something could be prowling within the shadows.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

Normally, I would be beleaguered about the prospect of a belated, mostly disconnected sequel to a beloved 1978 miniseries. However, the X-factor is Larry Cohen’s name across the credits from his penmanship to his direction. Cohen is always a distinctively Homeric, astute, streetwise New York helmsman.

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Fright Night Part 2 (1988)

For members of the audience who are hazy on the details of Tom Holland’s masterstroke Fright Night, Tommy Lee Wallace rejiggers a highlight reel during the opening therapy sessions in which Charley Brewster’s (William Ragsdale) vampiric battle is expostulated by his psychiatrist as delusions. Strangely, despite the popularity of the predecessor, the home video release of this oft-forgotten sequel is out-of-print and can be exorbitant to acquire.

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