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Hallow director Corin Hary explains why Return of the Living Dead is the ultimate Halloween movie

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In Corin Hardy‘s directorial debut The Hallow, a forest conservationist (Joseph Mawle) and his wife (Bojana Novakovic) are threatened by a mysterious presence after relocating from London to rural Ireland with their baby. Is the family being victimized by a disgruntled local? Or by something more supernatural? Or even biological? You’ll have to wait until next month to find out, when the movie is released in theaters (Nov. 6) and on VOD (Nov. 5).

In the meantime, we asked Hardy to nominate the best movie to watch over Halloween and to write a couple of sentences about it. He wound up doing much much more than that…

CORIN HARDY: I love watching movies on Halloween night. In fact I host my own “Horrorthon” with a group of friends and relish creating that special atmosphere that comes with the smell of pumpkin soup and permeates the dark autumn evenings. I actually wrote a list of 31 movies for Halloween last year on my blog to identify my favorites as I do think there is a special set of characteristics that determine a Halloween movie, over any old horror movie…

For me, I prefer to show a scarily-fun party-horror movie that a group of people can get creeped out to together and laugh, scream and drink along with, over something too bleak or nasty. 

Part of me wants to nominate A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, or Pumpkinhead, Fright Night, that all carry this vibe, or perhaps more recently Trick ‘r Treat or Cabin in the Woods. But I’m going to go with…

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) “They’re back from the grave & ready to party”

…because I always loved this film as a teenager and it’s steadily become one of my favourite films to watch every year on Halloween and goes down a riot with anyone who hasn’t seen it. Dan O’Bannon’s snappy script, about a couple of medical warehouse employees (Frank and Freddy, played hilariously by James Karen & Thom Mathews) who accidentally release a toxic gas on a nearby cemetery, bringing the dead back to life, is an OTT, anarchic punk-rock-rollercoaster ride with superbly quotable dialogue and some of the greatest, gloriously gory, practical zombie monster FX, that feel straight out of a ’50s EC comic book (“Tar-man” is stand out, as is makeup artist Tony Gardner’s “Half Corpse woman”: “The paaaaiiin ooff beeiiing deeaad..”). The comic cast is rounded out by Don Calfa and Clu Gulager as a mortuary worker and his friend who try to help thwart the outbreak along with a gang of punks who invade the graveyard amid a torrential rain storm. It’s tremendously garish cartoon-horror fun with a great soundtrack and it runs at a swift 87 minutes, so never overstays its welcome. The film also stars ’80s scream queen Linnea Quigley as one of the gang and features an outrageous sequence when, after dancing naked on a grave, she is set upon by the living dead in an orgy of mud.

Visually, I find the movie a real feast, again resembling comic book frames, and I can’t get enough of Frank and Freddy, who after breathing the toxic gas, start to suffer early signs of rigor mortis. Their relationship is somehow tender, and heart-breaking, and hilarious, and reminds me of a grim spin on Laurel & Hardy. The scene where the zombie horde tricks the ambulance team to “Send more paramedics” is also golden, even if the running and talking zombies turn a few purists off, but I excuse this just once, as its all such a blast. 

So, if you’re looking for a party horror movie to watch on Oct. 31, sit your gang down with a bowl of pumpkin soup, a beer, and Return of the Living Dead. “Brraaaaiiiiinnnnnnsssssssss.”

You can see the trailers for both Return of the Living Dead and The Hallow, below.