I made it! I ended the month of October having watched some form of horror-related media every single day. I won’t say “horror movie,” as I don’t want to get called out on a technicality–some of these aren’t actually movies. Let’s just say I got creative with the concept. Also, I do want to thank everyone for their very excellent suggestions of titles for me to tackle over these last few weeks! I did want to note though, that I’m not re-watching things I have already seen, so while I would have loved to have re-visited Spider Baby, Don’t Deliver Us From Evil, Alucarda, Frankenhooker, or Jean Rollin’s entire œuvre, it was not to be.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the horror I consumed in the latter half of the month!
Day 17: Shiki. Originally a two-part novel adapted for manga, Shiki takes place in the rural, remote mountain village of Sotoba, known primarily for its production of traditional grave markers. In the midst of a summer heat wave in the mid-1990s, several people in the small town are afflicted with a bizarre and incurable wasting disease, and the local doctor fears an epidemic may be starting. In the course of his investigation he discovers there are supernatural, vampiric presences at work, called shiki, (which translates to English as “corpse demon”). If you’re interested in horror anime, this one is pretty enjoyable so far! Though I don’t watch Sailor Moon anymore (much), I’m a long time anime fan, and thought it would be fun to add a few shows to my challenge. If you’re looking for some more viewing in this vein, give Corpse Party a try, or, Another, and When They Cry (whose theme song contains the best lyrical snippet I have ever heard: “raise your nails up to the dark and slash the night!”) You can find Shiki on youtube if you poke around for all of it.
Day 18: The Vampire Lovers (1970) is actually the first Hammer film I have ever seen! I suspect I will have to make it my last, simply because I loved it that much and I just can’t imagine they get any better than this. (Feel free to tell me otherwise in the comments; I will keep an open mind.) Another re-telling of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla–and don’t get me wrong, I adore the tale and will read/watch every reworking of it that exists–The Vampire Lovers oozes with atmosphere and and bewitching beauty and even if you know the story by heart, you could turn off the sound and still have a very satisfying experience. Just do yourself a favor and don’t read any internet reviews of this film. 75% of them are written by literal pigs. You can find The Vampire Lovers on Youtube right now.
Day 19: Blood and Roses (1960). Another take on Le Fanu’s Carmilla, this melodramatic, surreal French film takes place in 20th-century Italy as opposed to 19th-century Styria (and Styria aka Angels of Darkness, by the way, is yet another film adaptation of this tale!) Blood and Roses is on Youtube right now.
Day 20: The Slumber Party Massacre (1982). I can remember eyeing this VHS tape in the video store when I was a teenager, and even then, thinking, “wow, this is going to be cheesy and awful.” And yet–as much as both of those things appealed to me, I never got a chance to watch it until now. And I am so glad that I did! I suppose it is kind of cheesy, but it was also a lot of fun, and ever so much smarter than I think people give it credit for. I laughed with this film, not at it…and that’s a distinction that I can really appreciate. The plot is summed up in the title: friends are having a get together, there’s a deranged driller-killer on the loose. That’s the long and short of it. There’s the requisite t&a, of course, but…I don’t know. The film’s director is a woman, the telephone repair person is a woman, the PE coach is a woman, and there’s all of these funny, relatable, wonderful female characters…even though it’s presented as a little gratuitous and exploitative, it just doesn’t feel that way at all to me. And there’s no small amount of ridiculous detail, I mean, you should watch it for the .02 second Kool-Aid scene alone! It’s all of the little details that make The Slumber Party Massacre so great, and dare I say–rewatchable. I just saw it two weeks ago and I am already ready to give it another go. That’s pretty rare for me. You can watch it on Youtube and on Amazon Prime right now.
Day 21: Kill, Baby Kill (1966). I saw a midnight showing of Mario Bava’s Kill, Baby, Kill at my favorite little art house theatre in Orlando (but you can watch it on Shudder). I don’t know if it was the late hour, the rum punch I’d consumed at the party I’d attended a few hours prior, or if Kill, Baby Kill was actually just a sleepy story, but I found myself nodding off several times during the course of the film. A misty Transylvanian town, with the most beautifully labyrinthine dark alleyways and fog shrouded cemeteries, is haunted by the cursed spirit of a young girl killed 20 years earlier. I wanted to adore the film, as it is apparently a masterpiece of gothic cinema, but mostly I was just bored. This is another film I plan to re-watch soon.
Day 22: Maximum Overdrive (1986). My brother-in-law was shocked and appalled that I had never seen Maximum Overdrive, a story of how, if I understand correctly, a comet passes over the earth and all of the machines gain murderous sentience? (Before cars even had computers in them? Wow!) I’m pretty sure Stephen King was on drugs, all of the drugs, when he directed this horror/sci-fi-comedy, because this movie is crazy dumb, but I don’t even care because Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) as a newly married woman on her honeymoon, shrieking with hysterics as she and her husband are chased down the highway by homicidal tractor trailers is everything. I’m fairly certain we found this one on HBO.
Day 23: John Dies At The End (2013). I’m on a bit of a David Wong kick right now. I received This Book Is Full Of Spiders and What The Hell Did I Just Read in previous Nocturnal Readers boxes; after I picked one up to begin reading it, I realized they were part of a series, and that John Dies At The End was actually the first in this series. Did that deter me? No, I went right ahead and read them out of order and it really didn’t matter, anyway. I did recall that I had John Dies At The End in my Netflix queue, though, so that’s how I solved that problem. If you dig the idea of buddy comedies full of inter-dimensional monsters and dick & fart jokes, you’ll probably like the series of books. The movie, despite having appearances by Clancy Brown and Angus Scrimm (!!)… maybe not so much.
Day 24: Le Manoir du Diable (1896) On an evening when I was too tired to commit to a full length film, I thought I might see what I could find in the way of horror shorts. Why not start with Mephistopheles conjuring up a variety of supernatural characters, in what is widely considered the first horror film ever made? You can find all 3+ minutes of Le Manoir du Diable on Youtube right now.
Day 25: The Devil’s Candy (2015). I had read somewhere that The Devil’s Candy was director Sean Byrne’s love letter to heavy metal music, and while I don’t know if that’s exactly true or not, I’ll admit, that’s what lured me in. (What is true, though, is that when so many of my friends were in high school listening to The Cure or Morrissey or whatever, I was listening to Iron Maiden. My secret’s out.) The story begins with a struggling artist and his small family moving into a new home, and explores the relationship between creativity and demonic possession, but I think where it really shines is its focus on the relationship between a parent and their child, and how parents can’t always protect their children. Was it an amazing movie? Not really. But I thought hip-long-haired-artist dad Ethan Embry’s relationship with his metal-loving daughter was really something special, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching that. Perhaps because I don’t have a relationship with my own father? Eh, now’s not the time to to delve into my issues! The Devil’s Candy is on Netflix right now
Day 26: Audrey Rose (1977) is the story of a couple confronted by a stranger who is convinced their child, Ivy, is the reincarnation of his daughter, Audrey Rose–who died in a horrific car accident, years before. I read the book when I was younger and it is mired in my memory as being pretty creepy. While I blame that nightmarishly malevolent cover art, I think it also freaked me out a little that someone was writing about things I believed, and that, if there was some guy writing books about reincarnation, then it must actually be a real thing. And to discover a thing that your Sunday school teacher is constantly pooh-poohing, might actually be real? That’s kind of mind-blowing. This was my 10 year old logic, anyway. Also, I have no idea why I was in Sunday school. I suspect my hippie-pagan-astrologer mother knew the neighbors were church-goers and thought if she played along, she could get rid of her kids for a few hours every Sunday morning. I guess I can’t blame her for that. Audrey Rose the movie though, was a pretty mediocre affair. It’s on Amazon prime at the moment.
Day 27: American Horror Story: Cult. Do you ever have an evening where you’re like, “hmm…I don’t think I have it in me to watch a whole, two hour movie tonight…maybe I’ll just watch an episode of some t.v. show”? And it is on this premise that you begin watching one forty five minute episode, but then nine bleary-eyed hours later you’ve somehow binged a whole season? When I realized that American Horror Story’s seventh season had not only started up already, it was already several episodes into the story, I thought, “well, let’s just see how it starts out!” It starts out stressful and heartbreaking, is how it starts out: Election Night, 2016. Too soon, AHS, too soon. But then I proceeded to watch 8 more hours of it, and I paid full price for AHS: Cult on Amazon because I’m a dummy.
Day 28: Shivers (1975) was a compromise with myself. I had actually wanted to watch David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (the one where Jeremy Irons plays twin gynecologists) but…I can’t seem to work myself up to that one. The whole idea of it squicks me out so much that I wince myself into a fetal position just contemplating that viewing experience. Still, Cronenbergian body horror was on the docket for the evening, so I instead went with Shivers, a subtle tale of venereal horror wherein slug-like parasites turn the occupants of a luxury apartment block into sex-obsessed maniacs. Just kidding about the subtle part. I mean, the script was initially titled Orgy of the Blood Parasites. Shivers is on Amazon Prime right now, and why not watch Dead Ringers as well, while it’s on Shudder?
Day 29: Channel Zero: Candle Cove. I heard about Channel Zero from our very own Sonya V. whose weird & creepy recommendations I take very seriously. Apparently Channel Zero is a Syfy horror anthology series based on various creepypastas, which I am very peeved at myself for not knowing about until just this week. I am only a few episodes into the Candle Cove season (I think there’s only two seasons so far?) and I am thoroughly enjoying this unnerving story about a macabre television show that may or may not exist and which may be responsible for a string of tragedies that occurred in the town’s past. What I am enjoying the most is so silly that it almost makes me cry; the main character, as an adult. comes back to his hometown to confront his past (or sort it out, or something) and is staying with his mother while he is there. And she insists on accompanying him when he heads out to investigate terrifying locations and situations–it’s so sweet! More family issues, on my part, I guess. Maybe I miss my own mother. Plus! His mom is played by Harry Potter’s Aunt Petunia! I paid full price for Channel Zero on Amazon. You might be able to find it elsewhere.
Day 30: Repulsion (1965). I have been meaning to watch Repulsion for years, even before that creepy gif of Catherine Deneuve wading down a dark hallway of disembodied arms was constantly reblogged all over tumblr. The main character is a sensitive, shy, reclusive seeming woman who appears to exist in a perpetual daze; in many synopses, reviewers note her supposed “androphobia” and her horror of men and male interaction. I suppose this could be the case, especially if this is how the director would describe it. Who am I to say that the director doesn’t know what his own film is about? After having watched finished it, I think I was more angry than anything else. I wish I hadn’t seen it. Or rather, I wish this was not a film made by a man. You can watch Repulsion on Shudder right now (but you can also find it on Youtube.)
Day 31: Stranger Things, Season Two. Our neighbors go all out with the flashing, strobing lights and horrific haunted house sounds on Halloween; it’s like a demented beacon of tackiness, drawing greedy children and their parents from neighborhoods far and wide. Meanwhile, my partner and I don’t decorate or advertise at all (except for our two tiny, sad pumpkins) but since we are the house right across the street, we have to deal with this influx of tiny monsters and their demands. In preparation for this, we had planned to watch The Monster Squad (which I have never seen) while doling out treats to the little goblins. And though I’m fairly certain it was on our Netflix to-watch list for years, on this night, Netflix no longer offered it for streaming. Just wasn’t there! Very rude. So, we watched Stranger Things instead. Everyone in the world loves this show, I am fairly certain. I don’t need to convince you to watch it. We’re only three episodes in now, but I’m hearing some folks say that they liked it even more than the first season. Hot dog! I am very excited.
So what about you all? Did you wrap up your 31 days of horror on a high note? On a schlocky b-note? Did you see anything new that you loved and you actually had to run out and buy the Blu-ray? (That would be a big deal for me, I don’t actually own that many DVDs or Blu-rays! Maybe five, total.) Did you see anything that you utterly loathed? Let’s dish in the comments! Maybe in conversation, we’ll start putting together our lists for next year…