[For the previous countdown post, click here.]
25. “Johnny Halloween” (1992)
Fright masks and dire tricks abound, as Partridge imports the Halloween spirit into the tale of noir crime. “Johnny Halloween” features a familiar character type employed by the author: the narrator, Dutch, is a small-town sheriff, tough talking but of questionable veracity. He’s haunted by his fatal shooting of his brother Willie during an attempted robbery of the liquor store Dutch worked at back when both boys were teenagers. Now, on the thirtieth anniversary of that fateful Halloween, Willie’s old partner in crime–the titular jack-o’-lantern-masked bandit–has returned to the scene to orchestrate another deadly robbery. But Johnny Halloween has more than vengeance on his mind, and the narrative is packed with grim twists. If Jim Thompson ever ventured into the October Country, the result might be something like this lean, mean holiday story.