Once a month, we (or YOU) ask the blogging staff here at NOTLP a survey question. This being September, time of 5-Star Notebook sales at Staples and increased vodka consumption in faculty lounges, we have no choice but to wonder:
What’s your favorite horror film for back-to-school season?
Between the dilemma of what to wear and fear of strict teacher assignments, the first day of school was always a source of stress growing up, but I can now comfort myself knowing that things could have been worse. As a graduate of the class of 2000, I never had to deal with all the horrors that apparently came just one year before: gang warfare, corporal punishment, murderous robots, and Stacy Keach’s mullet. I’m speaking, of course, about Mark L. Lester’s pseudo sequel to his gritty and fabulous Class of 1984, the then-futuristic Class of 1999. I may have had nightmares about physics tests and cursed my marching band uniform, but when I think of what could have been my fate–Pam Grier as an evil cyborg chemistry teacher, constant rape-threat, being spanked in front of my peers–I’ll make sure to really live it up at my next reunion.
Mine is John Carpenter’s Halloween. Quite a bit of it takes place at the girls’ school. There’s all that great autumnal imagery. Blowing leaves. Early dusk. Sweaters. It just always reminds me that, “back to school” time is also, “try not to get murdered” time.
Fall is my favorite time of year, so It’s hard to beat Halloween for atmosphere and overall greatness. I think that Trick R Treat also deserves to become a fall classic.
This might be the toughest question yet, as I can easily answer with a large number of movies, most of which would fall under the Slasher category. With that said, my decision came down to the film I believe best conveys high school/teen angst, which left me with two films: Ginger Snaps and 1986’s Trick or Treat. Now, seeing as I was a “headbanger” who grew up in the ‘80s who never felt the joys of menstruation, my final choice had to be the film I could best relate to, so Trick or Treat it is.
What makes Trick or Treat such a great high school horror movie is the way it captures the heartache that some teenagers face in high school. In this instance, Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer is the lone metalhead in his school, which results in him being the target of constant bullying and rejection from girls. Eddie’s a loner, whose only solace can be found in the one place where he is not judged for being different; a place where he can be surrounded by those who appreciate him for who he is. And that place is his poster covered bedroom where escape comes at the needle point of a record player.
While I was an outsider type in my youthful years, I was lucky enough to not have had to deal with the shit that Eddie has to deal with in Trick or Treat because, well, I was basically awesome. However, as amazing as I was, I was certainly an angsty teenager who thought that any little thing such as a girl not liking me (WHORE!), or my favorite band breaking up was going to result in the world erupting into flames. And the best way for me to deal with ridiculous thoughts was to emotionally rock out to some pajama jammy-jams in my poster covered bedroom, just like Eddie.
Trick or Treat seems to understand what it’s like being a teenage metalhead in the 1980s as well as any film ever has. However, this understanding transcends its time period and musical genre, as anyone who has ever felt rejected for being different can and will relate to what Eddie goes through in Trick or Treat.
Back to school was always an exciting but stressful time for me. No film really captured the uncertainty of what lay ahead each September more than Tobe Hooper’s 1986 remake of Invaders From Mars. I was about the same age as the film’s hero when I saw it. The idea that David’s neighbors, teachers and even his parents were being controlled by aliens made me feel hopeless and alone. The film’s bleak ending fed many of my childhood nightmares. School was often a familiar place, but sometimes it could be as strange and hostile place. Invaders really expressed this sensation well.
Got picks of your own? Share them in our comments section, and don’t forget to ask us YOUR questions via Twitter with the hashtag #heyNOTLP