Every October it’s tradition that I attempt to watch one horror movie for every night in the month. And every year, this one included, I make it about halfway down the list. I really tried to do better, but like most people I’m limited to after-work hours and weekends, and it turns out it’s pretty hard to watch a movie every single day. I did my best.
Because I was limited what I could stream on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, find on demand, or purchase using someone else’s itunes account, not every movie I watched had excellent ratings. In my house, we’ve established a general rule is that if the rating on Rotten Tomatoes is over 70%, then the movie is worth watching. If it’s free AND we’ve heard of it, you can’t really ask for much more than that.
Here are the 13 horror movies I watched this month. Some great, some not so great, all fun to talk during.
1. The Babadook, 2014 (Rating 98%) Ok, this one is kind of cheating because technically I watched it in September when James and I were in the Catskills. If you can find one, a log cabin in the woods is the perfect setting to watch this Australian movie about an exhausted single mother and her son who are both struggling emotionally to deal with their shitty lives (and each other) so much that they become haunted by a mysterious children’s book (or is it?) This movie is a nice combo of jump scares, suspense and psychological thrills. The scariest part, though, was after the movie ended, when James woke me up in the middle of the night by saying “Baba…dook…dook…dook” in his sleep. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen to you. The Babadook is currently on Netflix
2. 28 Days Later, 2003 (Rating 87%)I first saw 28 Days Later in ninth grade and proclaimed it “the scariest movie I’d ever seen.” This wasn’t saying much as I was only 14, but it wasn’t saying nothing either as at the time I was very much horror-obsessed. I’d pretty much been raised on the John Carpenter Halloween films and had seen every installment of the Friday the 13th franchise by the time I was 8 years old. I was even familiar with zombie movies, but they were the slow, dragging Night of the Living Dead variety and not the animalistic, spitting/growling/running faster than humanly possible breed you see in this movie. Watching it now, I’m way more desensitized to the whole zombie thing (thanks, better part of the last decade) so it hardly feels as shocking as it did at the time. But it’s still pretty darn intense. And the whole Cillian Murphy bewitching eyes/luscious lips combo doesn’t hurt either. 28 Days Later is currently on Netflix.
3. Scream, 1996 (Rating 78%)This trilogy is classic as fuck, which is why they make up three of the movies on my list. Again, they were films I hadn’t seen since the days I used to crush Blockbuster VHS. Re-watching them today, I was legitimately confused that something with so many levels of irony could have ever been parodied as much as it was. But what do you expect from the Wayans brothers, I guess? Scream is so meta that of course it’s Wes Craven, although maybe you didn’t know he was the man behind it all (I didn’t either until recently). If you haven’t watched them recently, give them a revisit. At least the first one, if for no other reason than to watch Rose McGowan be perfect, even while being bisected. She should really be on this poster.
4. Scream 2, 1997 (81%)
A killer is haunting your fav teens again, but this time – they’re in college! AND SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR IS HERE. And a movie called Stab just came out about the murders in the first Scream movie. And maybe that movie is inspiring the current murderer?! What do we do?? I guess we just lol in awe that Portia de Rossi is in this movie and we never knew!
5. Scream 3, 2000 (36%)
This one is shittier than the others, but is still fun and goofy. Plus, my all-time love Parker Posey has a main role as the actress that plays Gale Weathers in the on-screen movie version of the movie. How could I not at least give it a chance? That, and sometimes you just have to watch a movie to remember what the year 2000 looked like. Wow, and we thought we were so advanced.
All three Scream movies are currently on Netflix.
6. Rob Zombie’s Halloween, 2007 (25%)
Fuck this movie. Obviously since it had terrible reviews anyway I shouldn’t have expected to enjoy it. But I was drinking and Hannah was bleaching Reid’s hair in the kitchen so it’s possible I was affected by the fumes. Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a bastardization of the original that focuses more on grotesque, violent images, and fucked up drama than anything truly scary or even suspenseful. The whole time I was like “I just want everyone in this movie to die,” except during the painfully long, gratuitous rape scene, when I myself wanted to die. I think I watched this on Amazon Prime, but it doesn’t really matter.
7. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, 1994 (77%)
If you’ve already seen Scream and the original Nightmare on Elm Street, you know what Wes Craven is about. In the same vein, New Nightmare plays with the blurred lines between reality, fiction, and the world in our dreams. While this movie is hilariously dated and ridiculous, I could see how it may have been somewhat groundbreaking (no pun intended – there’s an earthquake in the film!) in pre-Scream days as a self-referential horror. Heather Langenkamp plays herself, as the actress who starred in the original Nightmare, trying to fight off Freddie Kruger – who’s escaped from the movie world and is haunting her and her son IN REAL LIFE! It’s definitely got some layers to it, and almost enough camp to excuse the melodrama/all the pickled oak in that damn house. New Nightmare is currently on Netflix.
8. It Follows, 2015 (96%)
Widely regarded the best horror movie of the year/in fucking ever, It Follows is the story of a teen who contracts a SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED HAUNTING. It’s a pretty unique story, the actors are great, and it’s beautifully shot. The concept is so thrilling, in fact, that my brother and I stopped the movie halfway through to hypothesize on how the mystery would be solved. Without spoiling anything, the end didn’t exactly meet our expectations. Or the whole third act, really. But plot holes aside, I was legitimately terrified almost the entire time, and very visually stimulated. And that’s pretty much what makes a horror movie great. It Follows is on iTunes, aka you gotta pay. But it’s worth it.
9. The Nightmare, 2015 (71%)This “horror movie” is actually a documentary on night terrors (and the big, faceless monsters that attack you during them). It’s a concept that, even after watching the movie, I don’t really find all that scary. It kinda seemed like most of the people they interviewed were a little out of touch with reality to begin with, some positing that they were observing another dimension in their terrors or being actually visited by aliens – and the director, who suffers from these nightmares himself, validates these concerns. Cue a lot of eye-rolling on my part. One thing I found pretty strange/interesting though is how common these visions are, and how similar they are from person to person. Some of these hallucinations are even thought to have inspired horror movie conventions, like the mysterious scary man in a hat that comes out of the shadows (Freddie Kruger? The Babadook?) or the alien face (you know the one. It’s identical to a 90s temporary tattoo). The Nightmare is available on Netflix.
10. Honeymoon, 2014 (70%)
I can’t tell you too much about what this is about without giving anything away. Suffice it to say, two newlyweds go on their honeymoon to a cabin in the woods, and one of them starts acting…real weird. It seems like an intense indie drama until towards the end, when you find yourself yelling “WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK!” I actually really liked this movie, and thought Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) was super captivating and great at being strange as hell. Watch this one, if just for the shock factor. Honeymoon is available on Netflix.
11. Oculus, 2013 (73%)
This one is about two siblings seeking revenge on an antique mirror that possess people. The movie begins by unloading the backstory and exposition in a tangled mess, and flips between past and present so much that James and I kept calling it Oculus 2. I get what they were trying to do, and there’s a substantial amount of jump scares with a few solid mindfucks here and there, but they aren’t held together with enough logic for me to call the movie “good.” Still, I recommend watching it because it’s SO fun to make fun of (I mean, what’s up with the main characters’ hair?). Then afterward you can watch a very satisfying youtube video that lists all the things wrong with the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV4MnmOi5KI
Oculus is available on Netflix.
12. Let the Right One In, 2008 (98%)
Finally, something actually worth it’s weight in good reviews. Let the Right One In is a Swedish movie partly about vampires and partly about young love, and somehow manages to handle these both in a non-corny way (can you believe it??) In some ways, it’s more of an indie drama/love story than a “scary” movie, however, it has some pretty badass attack scenes and one spontaneous combustion, so it served up the excitement I craved. Also, it’s just freakin’ gorgeous to look at. Best enjoyed with a bottle of red wine. Let the Right One In is currently on Netflix.
13. We Are What We Are, 2013 (85%)
Ugh, gotta love a horror that centers around hyper religious psychos. As a fan of cult stories and talented young actresses, I loved this movie about two sisters trying to escape their family’s…unconventional…tradition of cannibalism. It was tough to watch at times, but I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. And I wasn’t disappointed. Also, Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers are mesmerizing and I want them to be my new best friends. Hooray for human meat!
So, tomorrow night after your Halloween party inevitably disappoints, take off your wig, plop down on the couch and queue up one of these spooky movies. Then call me up after so we can make fun of them!