In the words of The Whitest Kids U’ Know, “October is fucking rad. It’s the scariest sounding month.”
October. It is my favorite time of the year. Fall is beginning, end of the year projects are starting to gear up, and most importantly: HALLOWEEN! I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t Halloween all year round for me, but it’s great that the rest of the world joins me for a month. And the best way to celebrate? Watch a ton of horror films.
For the month of October, I’m going to watch and briefly review 50 horror films. I intend to focus on a slightly weird grade of genre fare, favoring more obscure flicks. I’ll be watching a lot on Netflix, as they do have a pretty extensive library of horror, a lot from my own collection, Hulu+ and Amazon’s streaming library, DVD rentals, and definitely going to theaters here and there. I’ll provide all the info, so if anything catches your fancy, you can check it out. And you should! You should watch all the movies! But the question I keep being asked, by friends and family I have been talking to about this is: Why are you watching 50 films, and not just 31?
The Answer: because everyone else is watching 31. And I’m way more hardcore than that. I took a handicap for being really busy and started a week ago, so here are my first five films of Halloween.
I kicked off my venture rather appropriately with Kim Ji-woon’s daunting cat and mouse thriller, I Saw The Devil. I call it appropriate considering the relationship between the two battling murderers is probably going to closely resemble my struggle with the 50 film task I set for myself. I mean, even with the bonus September week I allowed, I’m still a little behind. Anyhow, this movie is amazing. I was already a fan of the director and both stars, Lee Byung-hun (The Sexy from The Good, The Bad, and the Weird) and Choi Min-sik (Oldboy’s Oh Dae-su!). I Saw The Devil is miles away from the crime thriller I had been anticipating when I hit play. It’s a gory, intense horror film; you spend two hours watching a brutal battle between two blood thirsty men. It’s relentless, and so over the top it becomes mildly comical, causing that same kind of glee I get from an absurd splatter film. It’s stylish, scary, and a little bit emotional.
2) TERRORVISION (1986, Dir. Ted Nicolaou)
Viewed streaming via Netflix
Not Available on DVD
Charles Band made his own genre of good-bad direct-to-video movies and I love it. I love Full Moon. I grew up on their Moonbeam line of kid’s flicks, which I’m pretty sure rotted my brain at a very early age. TerrorVision is as classic Full Moon mega-cheese as it gets. I had not seen it before, although director Ted Nicolaou participated in the making of quite a few Moonbeam films. A lot of Full Moon movies are really boring. TerrorVision is not one of those, it’s fast paced and silly. It has a lot in common with Nicolaou’s later film, Bad Channels, but it’s kind of like the superior version of it. TerrorVision actually has one of the most fun Full Moon monsters ever, a big blob of alien that climbs out of a TV and eats an orgy of middle aged swingers. Lots of slime, murder, and a slow zoom on the tits of a sexy TV horror host. Also, it has one of the best theme songs ever. This plays on a constant loop in my head now.
Personally, I think Eduardo Sanchez rules. I may even include more Eduardo Sanchez in my 50 films. His movies seem to have an ideal balance between fun and horror, always just gory enough, just shocking enough. Although Lovely Molly is imperfect, it’s no exception. It’s more consistent than my favorite film of his, the overlooked alien flick Altered, with a much more rewarding ending. But in terms of premise and execution, Molly is more aligned with The Blair Witch Project for a slew of reasons, including a not-so-interesting Found Footage style subplot. All the scenes featuring Molly’s handicam scream of excess thrown in just to be reminiscent of Blair Witch, just to satiate investors hunger for a money-making product. That’s what found footage horror really is these days. Still, these sequences don’t retract from the rest of the film, which is an entertaining and shocking little ghost story, as promised. Absolutely worth watching.
I can’t quite think of any movie to compare this to. It’s extremely unique, inventive, and so well done. Pontypool succeeds at being one of the scariest zombie films I have ever seen, while depicting very little of its intense viscerality on screen. It’s all done in audio, and done very, very effectively. I honestly struggled to fall asleep after watching this, I was so rattled by it. the whole film takes place at a radio station, as the staff and veteran DJ slowly begin to uncover the breaking news of a virus spreading through their small French-Canadian town. A little on the weird side, Pontypool definitely breaks the genre mold. Highly recommended, especially if you are a sound-junkie like me.
5) RAVENOUS (1999, Dir. Antonia Bird)
Viewed on DVD, Personal Collection
The first time I saw Ravenous several years back, I was so enamored with it that I proceeded to watch is every night for two weeks straight. It was ritualistic and obsessive. I was very excited to revisit it this weekend, and I feel exactly the same. Guy Pearce plays Captain Boyd who has been stationed at a fort in the middle of no where alongside the rest of the great cast of this film, when a malnourished Robert Carlyle shows up and tells them a Donner Party-style tale of a party of cannibals in the wilderness. Things get really creepy from there. Ravenous is a perfect atmospheric immersion: the look of the film, the editing, the performances, and the score. The story is odd, almost a little clunky at points, but every other aspect of the film is so solid. The score by Blur’s Damon Albarn is both haunting and catchy. I cannot get enough of this movie.
That’s it for now. But I’m just starting to watch Chillerama. Please come back soon to keep me company for more of my journey… don’t leave me alone with all this crap!