We’re pounding down the home stretch to Halloween, but the big opener today isn’t a horror movie. It’s The Lion in Winter, Anthony Harvey’s adaptation of the James Goldman play about Henry II’s (Peter O’Toole) vacillating choice for an heir. Katherine Hepburn won the third of her four Oscars as his scheming queen, and the sight of the two of them joyfully tearing into each other makes the film a treat all on its own. It opened 50 years ago today in 1968.
The other big opener today is Thor: The Dark World, a minor entry in the MCU by anyone’s standards, though buoyed (and saved in my opinion) by another fine turn by Tim Hiddleston as the titular thunder god’s treacherous brother Loki. The film opened 5 years ago today in 2013.
Beyond that, we have a trio of small but notable genre films for Halloween. House of the Devil eschews the torture porn of the early 2000s in favor of a slow burn that actually plays much better. It put director Ti West on the horror map and opened today in 2009. John Carpenter’s Vampires fails to rank among his greats, but still carries threads of the iconoclastic energy that made the director a legend. It opened today in 1998. But the best of the lot is The Hidden, the story of a body-swapping alien on a wild crime spree in LA, hunted down by Kyle MacLachlan’s pre-Agent Cooper weirdo fed. It opened today in 1987.