Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

Halloween Special

Written by Jesse Kowalski • October 27th, 2010
Halloween Special

Being a big fan of horror films and organ music, I present my film suggestions for your Halloween viewing pleasure.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Carnival of Souls features young Mary Henry as a wayward organist. Mary doesn’t fit in well with her congregation, so she drives aimlessly from her home in Kansas to the Western United States. On the way to nowhere, she has visions of a mysterious, ghostly man who summons her with spooky organ music to an abandoned pavilion. A suspenseful horror film in the vein of The Twilight Zone, Carnival of Souls was created by Herk Harvey and the other fine folks at the Centron Corporation in Lawrence, Kansas. The Centron Corporation was behind educational and industrial films such as Why Study Industrial Arts?, What About School Spirit?, The Griper, Fire Safety Is Your Problem, and many others. Carnival of Souls and 14 films from the Centron Corporation can be viewed here.

Blood Feast (1963)

The first “gore” film, this gem was the start of a series of light-hearted, but very bloody, horror films directed by the great Herschell Gordon Lewis. A director of all manner of exploitation films, H.G. Lewis was admittedly in the business just to make a buck and in 1963 was looking for a niche market unfulfilled by Hollywood. He struck gold with Blood Feast. Blood Feast is about an everyman, Fuad Ramses, who runs a shop of exotic delicacies. He is contracted by Dorothy Freemont to cater her daughter Suzette’s birthday party with an authentic ancient Egyptian feast. Coincidentally, it turns out that Fuad has been preparing such a feast in order to bring the long-dead Egyptian goddess Ishtar back to life. The ingredients for the feast include tongue, brains, and other body parts stolen from buxom babes. Will Fuad succeed in bringing Ishtar back to life? Lewis intentionally got around censorship regulations by not including any nudity or profanity – regulations which did not mention dismemberment. Blood Feast was filmed in and around Miami for $25,000 and features a memorable organ score by Lewis and must-see set designs.

Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Daughters of Darkness features two lesbian vampires who terrorize a couple honeymooning in seemingly abandoned Ostend, Belgium. I was only in Ostend once, and I can’t think of a better place to honeymoon with lesbian vampires. Great sets, beautiful costumes, and a terrific mood set this film apart from other European films from the 1970s featuring lesbians, vampires, or a combination of the two. To reiterate, Daughters of Darkness features lesbian vampires. I can’t find a video clip that doesn’t feature something for the whole family, so search if you please.

Jesse Kowalski

Jesse Kowalski grew up watching B-movies on a Zenith console in his parents' basement. Has a soft spot for beach movies, lounge music, and Jerry Lewis.

Find out more about Jesse Kowalski

Get all the goods straight to your inbox