My Personal Horror-thon 2016

For the past five years I’ve made the month of October my personal horror film marathon…

I stream all kinds of stuff while I grade papers, do chores, cook, etc. Now that it’s year five, I’m kind of into the dregs and fringes, but I’m still finding plenty of less obvious gems.

There are still more in my queue and five days before Halloween, but I thought I would post in case anyone is looking for Halloween viewing ideas. [Past favorite can also be found here.] Some highlights from my month, in no particular order [images link to trailers]:

Don't BreatheDon’t Breathe (Fede Alvarez, 2016)

It starts as a classic little confined-space thriller which is always fun in my opinion. Naughty burglarizing youngsters get trapped in a house with the owner. Nice twist, well played, I was happy — and then it took another twist, and I was squirming in my seat. YIKES. Great flick. [in theaters]

The InvitationThe Invitation (Karen Kusama, 2015)

I love that this film starts off  like an annoying indie-film ensemble piece that would star Ethan Hawke. I want to kill all these jerks and guess what…. [Netflix]

contractedContracted (Eric England, 2013)

Forget It Follows (I’d like to); this film gets serious about its horrific social disease. A rebounding lesbian hooks up with a guy and contracts an alarming illness. The morality here is unsettlingly unclear, and while we’d like a solid feminist message, I think the film is all the more alarming for refusing to give it to us.  [Netflix]

hauntedpalace2The Haunted Palace (Roger Corman, 1963)

This film has it all: Corman, Vincent Price, Elijah Cook Jr., Lon Chaney Jr., Debra Paget, script by Charles Beaumont and Francis Ford Coppola, actually based on Lovecraft, by way of a Poe poem, toss in: the Necronomicon, alarmingly maimed villagers, and let’s not forget the Burning Man Tavern which bears too striking a resemblance to the Slaughtered Lamb to be coincidental. Panavision, Floyd Crosby, and Pathé color = gothic luxuriance. Yes, it’s silliness, but peak AIP silliness and super-fun. [Joe Dante on The Haunted Palace / DailyMotion]

infernoInferno (Dario Argento, 1980)

Thin on plot, but this is, of course, a gorgeous movie. Third in the Love the cats and the underwater hotel room. [Netflix DVD]

the-beyondThe Beyond (Lucio Fulci, 1981)

This would make a great double feature with Inferno – another scary hotel setting. Clunky acting, and it’s still delicious, beautiful, gore — cue the tarantulas! [Netflix DVD]

horror-hotelHorror Hotel aka City of the Dead (John Llewellyn Moxey, 1960)

Might as well go for a triple-horrorific-hotel feature — this one stars Christopher Lee as an academic who sends his curious, innocent undergraduate to New England to study up on the witch trials. How could anything go wrong? I can’t say it isn’t slow and cornball, but it is a hoot, and wrapped up in some great-looking black and white cinematography by Desmond Dickinson. [DailyMotion]

the-creeping-fleshThe Creeping Flesh (Freddie Francis, 1973)

It was Christopher Lee month on TCM, and what a cornucopia it was! Quite a few clunkers (Hammer pirates are surprisingly boring), but Lee is always entertaining. This non-Hammer was a gruesome and giddy treat, co-starring Peter Cushing as the archaeologist whose brought back a pre-neanderthal specimen that regrows the titular flesh — just add water! Lee is an evil doctor. Everyone is searching for evil, and Cushing’s lovely, innocent daughter seems to have found it. Did I mention its the Victorian era as conceived in the me-decades 1970s? And speaking of the 70s… [DailyMotion]

zodiac_killerThe Zodiac Killer (Tom Hanson, 1971)

This has low star ratings, but I honestly don’t know why. Imagine Zodiac made forty years earlier by someone who had interned with John Cassavetes and had a James Whale-esque sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this and laughed out loud while my skin crawled. Take this scene for example.

blackmirror3Black Mirror Season 3 (various, 2016)

This series is more sci-fi than horror (Twilight Zone for the 21st century). Everyone has their favorite episodes. I found “Nosedive” perversely hilarious, and “San Junipero” a sweet dream, but “Shut Up and Dance” chilled me to the bone and won’t get out of my brain. Reviews are saying it’s a so-so episode, and maybe while you’re watching that is true, but I am still haunted by Alex Lawther’s sorrowful, cherubic face. [Netflix]

The Faculty (1998)The Faculty (Robert Rodriguez, 1998)

The titular faculty — Bebe Neuwirth, Piper Laurie, Salma Hayek, Robert Patrick, Jon Stewart, Famke Janssen, and Christopher McDonald — are hysterical. I was in heaven watching them get to cut lose and chew scenery (literally in some cases). Once it becomes a cat-and-mouse and the students are the focus, it’s kinda formula, despite fun performances from Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett. Still it’s worth a watch for the first half. [Netflix]

Green RoomGreen Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2015)

Another smart little confined-space thriller — punk band on the road, takes an unplanned gig and lands in a white supremacists’ bar in the middle of nowhere… One thing leads to another and they are locked in the green room (dressing room). Nice character interplay and performances keep it interesting. Alia Shawkat is my hero. Anton Yelchin will break your heart. The story takes a side-step that I didn’t love, but overall it’s still a smart, indie thriller. [Netflix DVD]

blueruinBlue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier, 2013)

After Green Room, I had to watch Blue Ruin, and now I can see why Saulnier was the “It” boy of indie thrillers. This one also has refreshingly unexpected twists of both plot and character and nuanced performances. Personally, I grew weary of it after awhile, but then again… I have been watching a lot of movies. [Amazon Prime]

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