My October 2018 Horror Watchlist

Year four of 31 Days of Horror is now complete! Here’s the full list of movies that I watched…I will probably break this up into weekly posts next year because I know no one is going to read all the way to the bottom of this very long post. 😛

Week 1

October 1: Jigsaw (2017). I selected this movie to kick off the month mostly because I noticed that it had just been added to Hulu and I hadn’t seen it yet. I’ve always enjoyed the Saw franchise, although the twists and turns can be tiresome. It had been years since I saw the most recent installment so I was fuzzy on the details, though that didn’t really matter. As per usual, the torture and killing devices were clever, and I did enjoy the ending. Bonus points for Callum Keith Rennie!

October 2: Final Exam (1981). Cheesy 80s slashers are always entertaining. This one included a Brett Kavanaugh-like douche frat boy, a racist lawn jockey, a solid wedgie pick from of a pair of epic mom jeans, and a faked mass shooting on a college campus that absolutely would not fly in a movie today. Nothing special about this one, but the crappy acting is good for a laugh.

October 3: The Belko Experiment (2017). This movie was decent; nothing too groundbreaking. The cast had a ton of familiar faces (Merle from The Walking Dead! Big Head from Silicon Valley! The dad from The Killing!). I definitely got Purge vibes, and I do enjoy that franchise. The ending did intrigue me and set the stage for a sequel, so if they make one I’d be interested to see where they go with it.

October 4: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988). I’m pretty sure I had somehow never seen this 80s cult cheesefest before. You can tell the entire budget went into the klown costumes—the sets and props looked so insanely cheap. The only actor I recognized was John Vernon, who played Dean Wormer in Animal House (and was basically the cop version of the dean in this movie). I’m glad I finally watched this ridiculousness.

October 5: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976). I watched the 2014 remake in 2016 so it was time for me to finally see the original. This was one of the earliest slasher films, pre-dating Halloween by two years. The story was based on an actual serial killer known as the Phantom Killer, who was active in Texarkana, Texas in 1946. The killer’s “mask” in the film is quite unsettling in its simplicity: a white sack with holes cut out for the eyes. Even more unsettling is that his identity is still unknown to this day.

October 6: Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986). I had only seen the first Poltergeist so I decided to check out the sequel, from a time when sequels were generally terrible. This one was alright, nothing too memorable. Bonus movie: Beetlejuice (1988). With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice taking place, I needed to watch something that would cheer me up, so John and I watched Beetlejuice together. It’s one of my all-time favorites!

October 7: Terrifier (2017). A low budget movie about a creepy serial killer clown. It started off okay, but included a grotesquely gratuitous murder of a woman, which I did not appreciate. Gore itself doesn’t typically bother me, but with the current political climate as a backdrop today, the scene felt especially misogynistic. There was another element that I’d classify as transphobic. I can’t recommend this movie.

Week 2

October 8: Wolves at the Door (2016). I picked this movie because it’s a slasher inspired by the Manson Family murder of Sharon Tate and her friends. The Manson Family is one of those true crime stories that I cannot get enough of. However, this film didn’t really have much of anything to add. The cast was fine but the cinematography was pretty dark, which I’m sure was meant to unsettle but felt more frustrating than anything. Mercifully, they didn’t show Sharon Tate being killed; the murder of an 8-month-old pregnant woman is one of the most brutal things imaginable.

October 9: Dolls (1987). When I picked this movie I didn’t realize it was directed by Stuart Gordon of Re-Animator fame. I’m kind of a sucker for 80s movies with special effects creatures, and the dolls in this movie were pretty creepy. Those bloodshot eyes and sharp teeth…yikes. I enjoyed this one for the dolls alone.

October 10: 31 (2016). I hadn’t even heard of the latest Rob Zombie film until a few months ago. I’ve enjoyed his past movies but I wasn’t that into this one. It was pretty much more of the same: awesome 70s tunes, tons of gore, undeveloped characters, and poor acting (particularly on the part of the director’s wife). Meh.

October 11: Re-Animator (1985). I know I’ve seen this Stuart Gordon film once or twice before, but I didn’t remember it well. This is a fun cult classic with gory special effects that were probably pretty awesome at the time. I recommend it if you haven’t seen it, but watch out for a scene in the last act that could be triggering for sexual assault survivors.

October 12: The Beyond (1981). I hadn’t realized this is part of a Lucio Fulci “Gates of Hell” trilogy; I’ve already seen the other two films: City of the Living Dead (which I want to rewatch) and The House by the Cemetery. I really enjoy Fulci horror and liked this one too, except for ONE HORRIBLE SCENE WHERE TARANTULAS EAT A GUY. That was LITERALLY THE FUCKING WORST. I couldn’t watch but even the sound was nightmarish. Otherwise, this movie was quite a lot of fun. I love the 70s and 80s Italian horror aesthetic: the music, the visuals, the over-the-top disgusting special effects. I’m into all of it except for THOSE MOTHERFUCKING TARANTULAS.

October 13: Pieces (1982). I really enjoyed this one except for a completely racist kung fu chop suey nonsequitur. The movie was so 80s that it included a water bed and a bunch of women dancing in leotards and leg warmers. The plot had some nonsensical elements like a tennis pro and a college student helping out with a murder investigation (and the tennis pro, played by Linda Day George, is Heather Graham’s doppleganger). The freeze frame ending was utterly hysterical.

October 14: Cannibal Ferox (1981). An entry in the Italian cannibal exploitation film genre that I had yet to see. And exploitative it is…from a coked-up douchebag New Yorker with a penchant for calling women “twat” to footage of animal killings to the portrayal of indigenous people as savages. I get why films like these were banned. However, the white man as the ultimate offender here is not wrong.

Week 3

October 15: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988). A pretty standard slasher featuring an adorable young Danielle Harris in her first of many horror roles. I haven’t seen the entire franchise, so I wanted to try and catch up before seeing the new Halloween this month. I did like the ending of this one.

October 16: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989). This movie picked up a year after the events of the last one. I was less into this movie, as it was pretty formulaic. But I will say the ending actually struck me as rather sad.

October 17: A Cure for Wellness (2016). I hadn’t heard of this film until I saw it on HBO Now. At 2.5 hours it’s very long for a horror movie, but I rather liked it. I know it got bad reviews but I enjoyed the production design, the gross-out moments, and the incredibly twisted nature of the story.

October 18: The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018). The original Strangers was so good! This sequel was just okay, though it actually got better toward the end. It started to have 70s vibes, which I appreciated. The cast was pretty good—it’s always nice to see Christina Hendricks. I had had no idea this movie even existed until I saw it while browsing the Amazon Prime selections.

October 19: Halloween (2018). I had heard good things about this movie going in. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either…and I actually really did like the final act. The first two thirds felt like a pretty standard slasher, which I guess was kind of the point. I think the filmmakers wanted to create a faithful sequel to the original, and in that respect I would say they succeeded.

October 20: Hereditary (2018). I was really excited to watch this movie; I had meant to see it in the theaters when I came out. I liked it…but I was also confused by it. It kind of took a hard left toward the end, at least to me. I’m sure there were hints of what was going on throughout that I missed. I should have realized when Ann Dowd showed up that something was amiss (and I mean that in the best way). I should probably watch this one again.

Week 4

October 21: Puppetmaster (1989). Pretty positive I’ve seen this one but wanted to refresh my memory. This is a very weird movie with some twisted moments, mostly on the part of a horny sexy puppet. Yes, I said horny sexy puppet. I love weird and twisted, obviously, and I love puppets, so of course I liked the film.

October 22: Tourist Trap (1979). A pretty decent low budget 70s slasher, though the villain looked like Conan O’Brien so it was hard to take him seriously. Masks and mannequins have a pretty high creep factor for me, so I enjoyed that element of this film.

October 23: Cannibals (1980). AKA White Cannibal Queen, The Cannibals, and Mondo Cannibale. An exceptionally bad cannibal exploitation film. The acting was awful, the English dubbing was worse. The movie was supposed to be set deep in the Amazon jungle, but it looked like it was shot in Hawaii. Overall the film was boring and the special effects were shitty. Literally the best thing about this movie was the mascara on Sabrina Siana. How her character would have managed such spectacular lashes while being held captive by cannibals in the jungle, I’ll never know.

October 24: Castle Freak (1995). I enjoyed this film—it had a pretty solid story for a horror. I was interested in watching it because it was directed by Stuart Gordon of Re-Animator fame and starred two of his frequent collaborators, Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs. The Italian castle setting made me pine for my honeymoon, which fortunately did not involve a castle freak (though we did stay in a hotel that was a castle).

October 25: Tusk (2014). Truly some of the weirdest shit I’ve ever seen and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Points to Kevin Smith for creativity, though.

October 26: Murder Party (2007). A pretty inventive low-budget film that does a solid job of poking fun at the Williamsburg hipster art scene. I decided to watch a movie despite the fact that we put our beloved cat, Walter, to sleep in the afternoon. I felt like I needed to do something “normal.”

October 27: Demons (1985). The second day in a row that I watched a movie in which someone accepts a random invitation to an event and people start dying. This Dario Argento-produced movie is a lot of fun, with some good 80s Italian horror-style gore and music. The monsters were more like zombies than demons, IMO, but whatever. Loved the guy snorting coke through a straw out of…a Coke can. Subtle. Directed by Mario Bava’s son, Lamberto!

Week 5

October 28: It (2017). I saw this in the theater last year and loved it, so I wanted to rewatch. Still enjoyed the hell out of it and can’t wait for Chapter 2!

October 29: Night of the Demons (1988). Not a ton of story here, but I liked the 80s synth score, the gore special effects, and the demon makeup. The demon voices were pretty hilarious; they sounded like demented Yoda. And I enjoyed the ending.

October 30: The Prowler (1981). Another pretty standard 80s slasher. I wasn’t all that into this film, but I appreciated the unusual choice of weapon for the killer (a pitchfork). The ending was a little WTF, but I did also kind of like it.

October 31: Carrie (1976). I decided to go with a classic for the final day this year. It’s still awesome. Sissy Spacek is amazing and the editing and music in the school dance scene are so suspenseful. Piper Laurie as the psychotically religious mother is simply disturbing. “They’re all gonna laugh at you.”

Number of Horror Films By Decade:

  • 1970s: 3
  • 1980s: 15
  • 1990s: 1
  • 2000s: 1
  • 2010s: 11

I leaned heavily into the 80s again this year; I tend to gravitate toward movies made when I was a kid. I’m surprised I watched so few 90s and 2000s films. I’ll have to try to watch more of those next time around.

Did you do 31 Days of Horror this year?