My October 2021 Horror Watchlist
Happy November! I’ve successfully completed my seventh consecutive 31 Days of Horror challenge. I ended up watching my way through some popular franchises that I had yet to finish, which was fun. So my list leaned into 80’s and 90’s movies. I tend to gravitate toward horror from those decades, anyway. I also watched quite a few more recent films.
October 1: Malignant (2021). I kicked off the month with this recent release directed by James Wan of Saw fame. Though the film had a different composer than Saw, the music had a very similar sound (which I loved). It was nice to see Jake Abel (the Winchesters’ half brother on Supernatural) and Susannah Thompson (Moira Queen from Arrow) in minor roles. The third act was bonkers and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I won’t say any more, as this film is definitely best if you going into it knowing nothing (which I did).
October 2: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” I hadn’t seen most of this classic franchise, though I’ve watched Never Sleep Again, the documentary about it. So I’ve seen clips of most of the major kills. Starring a young Patricia Arquette and “Larry Fishburne.” A pretty solid movie for the third installment of an 80’s horror franchise.
October 3: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988). HBO Max has a Nightmare collection, so I went for it. The fourth film picks up where the third left off, with a recast of Patricia Arquette’s character Kristen. This one was not as engaging as Dream Warriors, but the campiness and Freddy Krueger’s one-liners are always fun.
October 4: A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989). I wasn’t too into this one. They were clearly pumping these out annually, and it showed. The kills were pretty standard and even Freddy wasn’t quite as menacingly funny as usual. And there was a scene with lots of tarantulas…NOPE NOPE NOPE
October 5: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). Obviously not the final Freddy film. This one wasn’t great either, but it’s notable for being New Line Cinema’s first 3D movie. And it featured a pre-Clueless Breckin Meyer, along with random Roseanne and Tom Arnold cameos and a Johnny Depp cameo.
October 6: Freddy vs. Jason (2003). I liked this the most out of the Nightmare films I watched this year. Maybe it was the early 2000’s nostalgia (lol @ the rave scene). Maybe it was the familiar faces (Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Katharine Isabelle, and more). Or maybe it was the epic titular showdown that involved Freddy trying to kill the unkillable Jason. TBH I had low expectations going in, but it was a fun movie.
October 7: Frankenhooker (1990). Directed by Frank Henenlotter of Basket Case and Brain Damage fame. As you can imagine with a title like this one, there’s a lot of exploitation of female bodies (or, should I say, female body parts). The special effects are super cheesy and there were a couple moments that made me laugh out loud. Not the most PC of films (terribly shocking, I know), but it was quite entertaining.
October 8: There’s Someone Inside Your House (2021). A contemporary high school slasher from the producers of Stranger Things. The film’s woke social commentary was not wrong, but it didn’t really have anything profound to add to the conversation. Of course, those of a more conservative persuasion will be turned off by that element. Overall it was a fun movie, and I appreciated the diverse cast; representation matters!
October 9: Black Christmas (2019). A Blumhouse update of the classic 70’s sorority house slasher with a heavy dose of feminism, plus a somewhat odd twist. I did enjoy the film up to the twist, though, and didn’t hate the ending. The cast was mostly unfamiliar to me, save for Brittany O’Grady (Paula from White Lotus) and the always-welcome Cary Elwes. Another movie that conservatives will hate for its social commentary.
October 10: Candyman (2021). Billed as a sequel to the 1992 film, which I re-watched in 2019. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Anthony) is always a magnetic performer, and the rest of the cast was great as well. I absolutely loved the visual style: the set design, colors, and cinematography at times reminded me of the original Suspiria (as did the music in one scene). The ending was slightly muddled for me, but overall I enjoyed the movie. I felt like this film expanded upon the social commentary of the first, which was ahead of its time.
October 11: Satan’s Slaves (2017). An Indonesian film by Joko Anwar, the same director as one of the picks from my list last year: Impetigore. I enjoyed this film but not quite as much as Impetigore. Like that movie, this one also starred Tara Basro and had a similar creepy occult vibe.
October 12: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). I had never seen this classic 70’s paranoia thriller (nor have I seen the 1956 version). So it was finally time! I really enjoyed this film, starring Donald Sutherland, Brook Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy. The special effects are cheesy as hell now, but they were probably really gross at the time.
October 13: Black Sunday (1960). AKA La Maschera del Demonio (“The Mask of the Demon”). This is an early, black and white film by Mario Bava, an Italian horror master. TBH this movie was pretty slow, but that’s unsurprising given the time period in which it was made. However, the special effects were pretty impressive for the year, and I imagine it must have really scared viewers back then.
October 14: Final Destination (2000). I saw this movie back when it came out, and it’s become a classic teen franchise. I’m not sure if I’ve seen the whole thing again since then, so I decided it was time for a rewatch. Still holds up!
October 15: The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). I’ve only seen the first Exorcist, so I figured I might as well watch the sequel. Meh…not great.
October 16: Halloween Kills (2021). This film picked up where the 2018 installment left off, but it wasn’t as good. The pacing felt odd to me. This movie had a bunch of aged characters (some recast) from earlier films, and unless you’re a Halloween superfan they might feel a little out of context. And there was a harrowing scene that was reminiscent of the Capitol insurrection (probably just a coincidence, as I’m sure it was written and filmed before January 6).
October 17: Child’s Play 2 (1990). I’ve seen the original and the recent remake, but none of the films in between. So as with the Nightmare series, I decided to attack the Chucky movies. This was a pretty good sequel, with some familiar faces: Grace Zabriskie, Christine Elise, Greg Germann. Chucky cracks me up—he’s so ridiculous. I never thought about this until watching CP2, but I wonder if he was inspired by Robert the Doll.
October 18: Child’s Play 3 (1991). The third Chucky installment takes place eight years after the events of the second film. It’s set at a military academy for teenagers, so I wasn’t very into it; war and military stuff just doesn’t interest me, even when it mostly involves kids. It was interesting to see Perrey Reeves as one of the academy students, though—she played Mrs. Ari on Entourage.
October 19: Bride of Chucky (1998). I knew Jennifer Tilly starred in this film, but I had no idea Katherine Heigl and John Ritter also appeared in it. This fourth Chucky installment was ridiculous, campy, and silly…and a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the next one.
October 20: Seed of Chucky (2004). This horror comedy is VERY early 2000’s: a meta premise, a rapper (Redman), “Britney Spears” (a lookalike, not the real thing), plus John Waters being super John Waters-y. And the movie unexpectedly touched on gender nonconformity, in a somewhat nonjudgmental way? I think? If I’m not mistaken, there was even the use of “they” as a singular pronoun. Overall the film was wacky and entertaining.
October 21: Curse of Chucky (2013). A more straightforward gothic horror than the uber-campy previous two installments…until the end. And I liked it. Starring Fiona Dourif—niece of Brad Dourif, voice of Chucky/Charles Lee Ray. Also featuring Brennan Elliot, who played Graham in UnREAL…the perennial put-upon host of Everlasting. It was also nice to see A Martinez pop up in a minor role; he played Cruz in Santa Barbara, which I watched back in middle school.
October 22: Cult of Chucky (2017). I did it! I finished the franchise. The seventh film in the series picked up where the sixth left off, with Alex Vincent returning as a grown-up Andy Barclay. I wasn’t as into this one as Curse, but it wasn’t horrible. Now I want to watch the new SyFy/USA TV series that recently came out…it’s apparently a sequel to this film.
October 23: Phobias (2021). The concept was decent but the execution was ho-hum. There’s a vaguely sketched overarching story but the movie is more about the five segments, each written and directed by different people. It was fun to see a couple folks I’ve enjoyed in other things: Hana Mae Lee and Alexis Knapp from Pitch Perfect and Leonardo Nam from Westworld. The story featuring Macy Gray’s character was by far the best.
October 24: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993). I realized I hadn’t seen this Friday the 13th movie yet. It’s been a couple years since I watched my way through most of the franchise, so I don’t remember where the story left off. I don’t think it really mattered, though. This film’s plot was a little messy, but the gore effects were fun.
October 25: Jason X (2001). A very silly movie in which Jason Voorhees ends up on a spaceship 400 years in the future. I did enjoy the Terminator-like costume Jason ended up in near the end; it seemed appropriate given his immortal state. Your mileage may vary with this one depending on how much you enjoy movies set in space (I don’t love them). Now I’ve finally seen the Friday the 13th franchise in its entirety!
October 26: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986). I don’t know how I hadn’t seen this sequel before, starring Dennis Hopper and Caroline Williams. Oh man, this film was fucking BONKERS. And very, very disgusting. So of course it was really entertaining. Feels like this film had quite an influence on Rob Zombie’s horror movies.
October 27: Videodrome (1983). My first time watching this David Cronenberg sci-fi/body horror film. I’m not sure I totally understood what was going on, but the body horror effects were fun (super gross and also very explicit from the “horror movies are about sex” perspective). I’m glad I finally watched it, even though the star is a Tr*mp supporter. Ew.
October 28: The People Under the Stairs (1991). This Wes Craven film was ahead of its time in terms of social commentary. It was also pretty wacky and very fucked up…so of course I liked it. Notable for having a 13-year-old Black boy as the hero—quite unusual for the time. Also fun to see Twin Peaks‘ Ed and Nadine: (Everett McGill and Wendy Robie) in utterly unhinged roles. Jordan Peele is producing a remake, which I will 100% watch.
October 29: Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (2021). I decided to watch this brand new release despite only having seen the first (and possibly the second, I can’t remember) film of the franchise. The original PA was legit scary, but this installment was less so. This film had slight Midsommar vibes and the acting was solid. If you’re a fan of found footage horror, I’d say go for it.
October 30: Trick ‘r Treat (2007). Still my favorite Halloween movie! I’ve watched this one many times and I enjoy it every single time. I even dressed up as Sam for Halloween this year!
October 31: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990). A pretty straightforward slasher, especially compared to the batshit previous installment. I appreciated the brief Caroline Williams cameo, and it was fun to see Viggo Mortensen in an early role.
Horror by the Decade
I always like to do a rundown of how many films from each decade that I watched. Here’s my tally for this year:
- 1960’s: 1
- 1970’s: 2
- 1980’s: 5
- 1990’s: 8
- 2000’s: 5
- 2010’s: 4
- 2020’s: 6
My previous years’ watch lists:
Until next year…