Pumpkin spice everything? Check. Weekly trips to home furnishing stores to pick up housewares that they consider “seasonal”? Check. Premature pumpkins that will likely rot before Halloween day? Check, checkity-check! You’re ready, I’m ready, let’s do this.
October 1: Death Note (2017). I’ll be first to admit, this Netflix-exclusive feature had “bad idea” written all over it, in spite of director Adam Wingard’s obvious talent and credentials. Wingard defended the film, saying he’d take a unique spin on the source material and I found myself able to get on board. Bonus points for another ’80s-inspired synth-drenched prom scene.
October 2: Maniac (2012). I often cite this film as the last one to scare the shit out of me at the cinema, to the point that I needed an escort home and slept with the lights on that night. It’s not because Franck Khalfoun’s remake of William Lustig’s 1980 sleazebath is particularly scary, it’s because it remains the first and only slasher flick I’ve ever seen where the killer’s victims and scenarios felt like they’d been pulled right out of my life. Maniac hits too close to home, but in a good way, and the POV cinematography and unsettling soundtrack don’t hurt either.
October 3: A Dark Song (2016). Imagine being so desperate to communicate with the other side that you commission the services of a creepy occultist and agree to do whatever he says to make that happen. I’d be remiss not to mention that A Dark Song falters in its ending, but the tension and ick factor that permeate throughout more than makes up for it.
October 4: The Fly (1986). Cronenberg’s take on The Fly is my go-to for horror fans who don’t yet know that they’re horror fans. Less scary than it is gut-wrenchingly tragic, the film stars then real-life couple Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum and their onscreen chemistry is so palpable, it upset me to discover that they broke up for real in 1990. Considered by many to be body horror’s crown jewel, share it with someone special.
October 5: Sunshine (2007). Also known in my personal catalog as “the Danny Boyle movie that nobody talks about for some reason”, Sunshine evaded me until earlier this fall and I’ll preach its gospel to anyone who will listen. It’s a clever riff on Event Horizon sets a group of astronauts on a mission to save humanity by reigniting the sun with a bomb.
October 6: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). The Cloverfield franchise is as known for the quality of its films as it is for its brilliant viral marketing techniques and 10 Cloverfield Lane is no exception. John Goodman’s Howard Stambler gives Misery‘s Annie Wilkes a run for her money as horror’s most terrifying turnkey.
October 7: Spoorloos (1988). Young couple Rex and Saskia are on holiday when Saskia suddenly disappears at a truck stop, sending Rex on a cat-and-mouse chase with her kidnapper who toys with him for three years before revealing her grim fate. Known as The Vanishing in English (but not to be confused with the 1993 remake) Spoorloos’ ending is a kick to the gut that you’ll feel until Christmas.
October 8: The Evil Within (2017). Created over the course of 15 years, we’re lucky that the late Andrew Getty’s labour of love ever saw the light of day. Concerning a mentally challenged man who develops a strange relationship with his reflection in an antique mirror, The Evil Within should be forgiven its plot holes in favour of its disturbing visuals and unforgettable tableaus.
October 9: Let the Right One In (2008). Think vampires are played out? Think again. While most bloodsuckery in film concerns teens or adults who are tempted into immortality without fully considering its terrible price, this moving Swedish film about lonely, bullied 12-year-old Oskar is so full of heart, you’ll forget where to put your stake.
October 10: The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007). Ok, that’s enough sweetness: let’s get to the fucked-up shit. This lesser-known faux-documentary that pretends to be pulled from the tapes of a serial killer who tortured his victims in an old, abandoned house never saw a theatrical release and languished in the land of bootlegs for ten years until Shout Factory released it on DVD and Blu-ray… TODAY! Harrowing and frankly pretty friggin’ ugly, it’s a must-see for fans of found footage and cinéma vérité.
October 11: Train to Busan (2016). Zombies ain’t dead! Well, they are – I meant the subgenre. Last year’s Korean breakout Train to Busan blew festival audiences away with a frenetic energy that breathes new life into the overplayed topic.
October 12: The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009). Rob Zombie rouses my ire when he takes himself too seriously, but this full-length animated feature is a bit of silly fun for a Friday night; packed with solid horror references and voice work from an all-star cast, including Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, Ken Foree, Dee Wallace and (of course), Sherri Moon Zombie.
October 13: The Belko Experiment (2017) It’s Friday the 13th, but you don’t have to ch-ch-ch that ka-ka-ka just because. It’s the end of the work week and maybe you’ve daydreamed about murdering your co-workers. Sublimate that fantasy with this Battle Royale-meets-Office-Space setup, directed by Wolf Creek‘s Greg McLean.
October 14: Pumpkinhead (1988). You know Pet Sematary. You love Pet Sematary. Pumpkinhead is Pet Sematary‘s red-headed stepbrother, starring the always-fantastic Lance Henrikson.
October 15: Night of the Living Dead (1990). Wait – check that year again. That’s right, this is Tom Savini’s weird and sort of unnecessary but still strangely endearing remake of George A Romero’s original classic.
Onto Alex’s picks! Happy Halloween, everyone!