Hi, my name is Mariana, and I really like horror movies.
This year for Halloween, I decided to do on a little journey and do a month-long horror marathon. So, I picked a different horror film for each day of the month, watched it, and below are some of my thoughts on them. The list was full of some of my personal favourites (like The Thing and Re Animator), films I’d never seen before (like Invaders from Mars and The Devil’s Rejects), and films I was curious about (like Horror Hospital and The Frighteners.) So, Happy Halloween, and I hope you enjoy my thoughts on these films! Let me know in the comments what your favourite horror films are and what you’ve been watching this past Halloween month.
Day One – Rosemary’s Baby, 1968 | Roman Polanski
My thoughts: This is an institution, right? I mean, if you’re a fan of horror, you’re a fan of this film. It’s absolutely beautiful, with some of the most haunting score ever. Mia Farrow is fantastic as Rosemary, perfect in her portrayal of fear and anxiety, especially at the very end when she discovers her demon child. And it’s very effective in creating a scary atmosphere of distrust. The conception scene, which is the most important part of the film, is downplayed perfectly, and it is edited in a way that makes us feel confused much like Rosemary, leaving something to the imagination, because it isn’t always about showing everything. Polanski is very economical in this film, and it works brilliantly. I wish they’d shown the demon baby, though. I know why they didn’t, it’s much more effective that way, but gosh it would have been awesome to see the little demon baby.
Day Two – Horror Hospital, 1973 | dir. Antony Balch
My thoughts: This was a bit disappointing. I was really looking forward to it, because it was released by the same people who put Re Animator out on DVD, and it looked super gory. Alas, it was a lot of nonsense and silly lines, and awful awful acting (which I can overlook if the film is interesting.) I wasn’t too keen on it, to be quite honest. I did like he set, though.
Day Three – Day of the Dead, 1985 | George A. Romero
My thoughts: This was my first time seeing this, and I have to say, it is now my favourite of the Romero zombie trilogy. It’s super fun, with a really cool leading lady, and a fantastically over-acting performance from Joe Pilato. What’s not to like? I love the small scale of it, and the tension between the scientists and the army guys is palpable. The look of the zombies is great as well, and you can tell these Romero films are a heavy influence on the modern zombie movies/TV series. I think my favourite thing about it, though, is how bright it is. It doesn’t put the characters is total darkness, breathing harshly with their breaths fogging before their faces as they run away. It’s all clear, they know what they’re doing, everything has a purpose. It’s tight and effective, and I really enjoyed it a lot.
(side question: is the end of Planet Terror a reference to the end of this movie?)
Day Four – Dawn of the Dead, 1978 | dir. George A. Romero
My thoughts: This film is great. We had a bit of a chat about this film and the remake on YouTube, but I’ll summarise it a bit here. I really like this. I know it’s read a lot as a critique on Capitalist society and consumerism, which I suppose makes sense, with all the zombies walking towards the shopping mall and all that, but looking on the POV of the main characters, I’d say a shopping mall is a very good place to hide during an apocalypse. There’s plenty of food, water, bathrooms, even beds. It’s comfortable, and highly secured if you can get all the rotten things out and lock yourself in. I personally think that’s quite clever. Also, I quite like how in these Romero zombie films, there’s this one female lead who makes it to the end through either cleverness or bad-assery, or general good luck I suppose, like in this film, because that woman is mostly useless, haha. The fights with the zombies are fun, though, and there are some really cool moments of tension. Really, really fun film.
Day Five – Night of the Living Dead, 1968 | dir. George A. Romero
My thoughts: An absolute classic. It’s like watching history, sort of, because it’s such a pivotal film in horror history. Although not as dynamic as Dawn or Day of the Dead, it’s still really fun to watch, and a true masterpiece.
Day Six – Alien, 1979 | dir. Ridley Scott
My thoughts: Another absolute classic. I love the Alien films (especially Alien 3), and this one holds a special place on the hearts of all horror fans, I think. It’s the ultimate creature film, and it doesn’t follow the now-cliched tropes of useless leading characters who allow themselves to be killed because they’re too stupid. Ripley is probably one of the greatest action heroes of all time, but the film does a really good job of concealing its lead character until the perfect people. At first you might think that Captain Dallas is the lead because, you know, he’s the clever guy, the bearded white guy, the captain. The boom! Here comes Ripley, taking charge and being awesome. It’s scary in all the right places, and Ridley Scott makes beautiful use of darkness and light. The make-up is really great, and the John Hurt scene is probably one of the best in horror/sci-fi history, yes? I would highly recommend doing a marathon of all four Alien films, and then maybe check out our Alien discussion on YouTube.
Day Seven – Halloween, 1978 | dir. John Carpenter
My thoughts: As you can see from my bio, John Carpenter is one of my favourite directors, and this film is one of his many masterpieces. It’s the slasher movie that slashes all slasher movies. It’s the ultimate teen scar, and it’s absolutely fucking awesome. Michael Meyers is a really scary villain because there’s no humanity in him, his origin story is already all messed up, and he is only a psychopath, which makes him truly truly frightening, which in turn makes it all the more effective when he gets his rampage started. And the music! The main theme is so great, those few notes sparking fear as they begin and we see him in a corner, hovering over our characters, wondering when he’s about to attack. Jamie Lee Curtis is also great, and it was very clever of Carpenter hiring her as a tribute to Hitchcock, Psycho and her mother, Janet Leigh, because she brings the same sort of vulnerability and strength to this role. Such a fantastic film, and definitely a must-see in every Halloween masterlist!
Day Eight – Invaders from Mars, 1986 | dir. Tobe Hooper
My thoughts: Well, first of all, this was mislabeled on Netflix as horror, when it’s just sci-fi with some rubber puppets. Second of all, I was excited to see the Cannon logo because I thought ‘hey this is going to be super schlock-y’, but really, I think it was a little too good. The story is pretty neat, the visual effects are really good, especially the Martian creatures, and overall this is a pretty solid B-type movie. It’s really enjoyable even though it’s not horror, but I think it would’ve been more fun if it’d been a bit worse, haha.
BONUS: Feeding Frenzy | dir. Jay Bauman, Mike Stoklasa
➝ SO on this day, Stephen lent me his Feeding Frenzy DVD so I could prepare for our RedLetterMedia radio show, and I decided to watch it straight away because it looked brilliant. And, boy. They did not disappoint. This film is, according to everyone involved in the making of it, a homage to the rubber puppet movies from the 70s-80s, like Gremlins, Critters, Ghoulies, etc. Jay Bauman created the little monsters that were small latex balls with teeth, and Mr Plinkett was the main villain. It’s brilliant, super fun to watch, the characters are really funny, and Mike managed to get a laugh at every scene he’s in, obviously.
Day Nine – A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984 | dir. Wes Craven
My thoughts: This was probably one of the first horror movies I ever saw when I was a kid, and I hadn’t seen it in a long long time. But, boy, is it amazing! Freddy Krueger is an awesome villain, and this film has one of my favourite deaths of all time — Johnny Depp being swallowed by the bed and gallons and gallons of blood shooting out. So fucking good. God bless this film.
Day Ten – Scream, 1996 | dir. Wes Craven
My thoughts: I love this, all right? How subversive it is and all that. But I always forget that this is a Wes Craven movie and think of it as a Kevin Williamson movie instead. All these kids going through each other’s windows. And then I keep thinking about a Scream-Dawson’s Creek crossover. Anyway, this is still great, it has one of the best opening sequences in any horror movie.
However, my DVD copy had the Scary Movie trailer on it, so I’ll deduct points for that.
Day Eleven – It Follows, 2014 | dir. David Robert Mitchell
My thoughts: Mainstream horror movie that isn’t filled with jump scares and stupid characters, what’s not to like??? I really like the premise, how the person has to have sex in order to survive. It’s very subversive of the “rules of horror” described by Randy in Scream, and it holds up pretty well. Some say that it doesn’t make sense because where does the demon goes after it kills the person, but they explain it in the film that it goes back to the previous person, which is demon thing goes back to Jay after brutally murdering Long Haired Dude. Anyway. It’s a great film, at least 90% of it is great, I wasn’t too happy with the ending, it felt very haphazard, but otherwise, it’s pretty fantastic, it looks absolutely gorgeous, and it especially stands out against all the Paranormal Activities and Sinisters and Purges.
Day Twelve – The Silence of the Lambs, 1991 | dir. Jonathan Demme
My thoughts: All right, all right, so this isn’t a “horror” movie, but it’s often put in the category, and since I love it and this week is essay-writing week, I figured I might as well. I love love love Silence of the Lambs. Not only is it a fine piece of filmmaking and storytelling, but it’s got some brilliant acting from Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. I’m really into studying serial killers and watching shows and movies about them, which is why this film appeals to me so much, but it goes beyond that, because it’s a psychopath studying a psychopath, and Hannibal Lecter is just one of the best villains ever. This film (and Red Dragon, which I really like as well, even though it is a Brett Ratner film [shudders]) is the reason why I can’t watch the TV series Hannibal. There’s just no other Hannibal Lecter for me. Anyway, I won’t ramble on, but this film is absolutely fantastic, and it does have its scary moments, like the investigation scene in the warehouse that always has me on the edge of my seat even though I know what’s going to happen. Brilliant, brilliant film.
Day Thirteen – The Evil Dead, 1981 | dir. Sam Raimi
My Thoughts: I mean, what horror marathon would be complete without this classic? More interestingly than my thoughts on a version of a film I’ve already seen before, check out my post about the ALL NIGHT HORROR MADNESS on the 17th when I watched The Evil Dead on 35mm and it was AWESOME.
Day Fourteen – Evil Dead 2, 1987 | dir. Sam Raimi
My thoughts: Who doesn’t love Evil Dead 2? It’s so camp and crazy and hilariously gory in all the right (and wrong) places, and it feels a lot more like a crack-y B-movie than The Evil Dead, which just makes it all the more fun. From Ash cutting off his hand to the big demon monster thing at the end, it’s a crazy ride that does not disappoint. God bless Sam Raimi.
Day Fifteen – Army of Darkness, 1992 | dir. Sam Raimi
My thoughts: I guess I should point out that my copy of this film has the alternate ending, which I didn’t know until I talked to a friend about it and found out we had completely different endings in mind. Mine is the one where Ash ends up way in the future and screams in dismay, so it’s absolutely hilarious (sorry Bruce.) Anyway, other than that, I really really love this movie. It’s more of a comedy than a horror, for sure, especially with the skeletons bobbing about as they march to the battle against the feudal village. Then all the stuff with Ash in the forest is brilliant. And what’s awesome and consistent throughout the trilogy is the solid quality of the practical visual effects and make-up. It looks really cool, and still holds up today, which is great. I should probably watch the special features with the proper ending, though.
Day Sixteen – Horns, 2013 | dir. Alexandre Aja
My thoughts: Okay, I am aware that this isn’t horror, but it is listed as horror on Netflix, and I’ve been meaning to watch it for ages, so I used this whole thing as an excuse to do that, so sue me. Anyway. This film is pretty cool, though the end is a bit predictable when we get to the middle of the film. And I love Daniel Radcliffe, but I don’t think he is quite right for this role. He’s just too sweet-looking, too nice… I can’t picture him getting that angry. Still, though, it was a pretty interesting story, and the film feels almost like a fairytale, which I liked. However, I am super tired of the “friendzoned”-douche trope and the all-the-guys-love-the-quirky-girl trope. Please, Hollywood, let them die.
Day Seventeen – Eraserhead, 1977 | dir. David Lynch
My thoughts: Wow. I’m still a David Lynch virgin (sorry) so this was my first ever time watching this, and it was genuinely the scariest thing I’ve watched thus-far this month. The imagery is hauntingly daunting, and there’s something about that world that is incredibly unsettling. It’s almost like a storybook, but evil. And this is definitely where the Drambuie guys got the inspiration for those fucked-up adverts of theirs that make no sense.
Day Eighteen – Tremors, 1990 | dir. Ron Underwood
My thoughts: Crawly monsters and Kevin Bacon in a mullet, need I say more?
Day Nineteen – The Birds, 1963 | dir. Alfred Hitchcock
My thoughts: This was actually my first time ever seeing this, which I suppose is a travesty, considering it’s such a classic. I quite liked it, it’s very funny nowadays, but I can imagine people in the 60s going crazy about how scary it was. The birds were the best part, clearly superimposed, absolutely wonderful. But it’s really more about the characters than the bird attacks, and I quite liked how they performed the characters’ interactions and reactions to the attacks.
Day Twenty – The Devil’s Rejects, 2005 | dir. Rob Zombie
My thoughts: I watched House of 1000 Corpses a while ago but never got around to watching the sequel until I added it to this exercise. Which is a right shame, because The Devil’s Rejects is a more interesting film than House of 1000 Corpses. It’s got all that gore and those gross-out moments Rob Zombie seems to really enjoy, but the characters have more to do as characters rather than just people killing other people. I thought it was quite cool how we’re supposed to feel bad for these murderous rednecks at the end even though they are mess murderers. All in all, it was pretty good, well done.
Day Twenty-One – Under the Skin, 2013 | dir. Jonathan Glazer
My thoughts: God, I love this film. It fucked me up the first time I watched it and it’s been fucking me up ever since. It’s horrifying in its use of silence and light, and the image of the alien dying at the end is haunting. I love the simplicity of it, the lack of exposition, we never know what’s happening, who she is, what she wants, all we know is that she hunts men and the black goo sucks them in, and that’s it. There are no demons or exploding bodies or extreme gore effects, and yet it’s much scarier. The scene with the family on the beach is particularly poignant, even after seeing the film multiple times.
Day Twenty-Two – May, 2002 | dir. Lucky McKee
My thoughts: What? What?! Okay, so this is Pieces but with a lady doing the killings right? Plus, she’s properly messed up in the head, and the whole film is a build-up to the last fifteen-twenty minutes. Nothing much happens, but building up the tension and May’s anger. And it’s not really a tale of haunted dolls like it might seem at first, it’s really about this lonely woman who is crippled with anxiety and mental issues that cause her to lash out to the point where she not only hurts others but herself. I liked it quite a bit, it’s always fun to have women being the killers for once, and there is something very vulnerable about May that makes her even more interesting as an evil protagonist. Plus, there are non-sexualised lesbians, which is always great as well.
Day Twenty-Three – The Thing, 1982 | dir. John Carpenter
My thoughts: My all-time favourite, obviously. I love love love this film with all my heart. It’s proper scary, claustrophobic and fantastically gory. The practical effects are gorgeous, and the music is stunning. It’s pretty fantastic that John Carpenter managed to create such a compelling film with all these thirteen characters virtually stuck in the same three rooms together. There isn’t a lot of action, it’s mostly psychological horror, a tale of paranoia, an it still holds up.
Day Twenty-Four – Re-Animator, 1985 | dir. Stuart Gordon
My thoughts: Also one of my favourites. It has one of the best lines in moves ever “cat dead — details later”. I mean, how can you beat that? Well, perhaps with a severed head trying to give head and a man being strangled by re-animated bowels. Gosh, what a brilliant film.
Day Twenty-Five – Beyond Re-Animator, 2003 | dir. Brian Yuzna
My thoughts: For some reason this reminds me of Alien3. Probably the whole prison thing, because there are literally no other similarities. Anyway. I enjoyed this. It’s not as good as Re-Animator, but it’s still entertaining, though there’s more violence than gore, which is not really much fun. Plus there are no severed heads, so what’s the point? Still, it’s a pretty decent sequel that highlights just how insane West is, and that is pretty cool.
Day Twenty-Six – Idle Hands, 1999 | dir. Rodman Flender
My thoughts: That was a LOT of fun. It’s a really silly film, more of a comedy horror, really, but super fun. The concept is just insane, and the execution is really great. I love that the serial killer in this slasher movie is a hand, because it’s so ridiculous, but the deaths are still super gruesome and there’s a lot of gore to keep you entertained. I don’t like Jessica Alba, though, she’s so blah in everything, and in this in particular. A more spunky actor, someone who actually has more of a personality onscreen would be more interesting. Still, great film, really enjoyed it.
Day Twenty-Seven – The Beast Within, 1982 | dir. Philippe Mora
My thoughts: This film started out really weak. The opening scene is all right, sets up everything quite well, but then the next hour is super boring. A few murders happen, but the story stagnates and we spend way too much time on the Most Annoying Movie Character in History (Amanda) and I was almost giving up hope that this film was going to be a bust when suddenly, the last half hour happened, and it is glorious! Incredibly gruesome monster transformation (a la An American Werewolf in London), beheading, shooting. It’s great! I’d say definitely sit through the first hour of the film because it pays off just to watch that transformation.
Day Twenty-Eight – From Beyond, 1986 | Stuart Gordon
My thoughts: That was excellent! Made by the people who made Re-Animator, this film really feels a lot like it (plus it features Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton) because of the HP Lovecraft connection, but also because of the really awesome practical effects. Some great animatronics and really fun make-up. Ken Foree is also there, which makes it even better. It’s all about the overacting and crazy extra-dimensional beings in this film, and I absolutely loved it!
Day Twenty-Nine – The Frighteners, 1996 | dir. Peter Jackson
My thoughts: So, this is more of a comedy than a horror, but it has ghosts on it! And spooky murders! Sort of. Anyway. It’s pretty good. The CGI is absolutely abysmal though, even for 1996, which is surprising considering Peter Jackson would go on to make Lord of the Rings a little over a couple of year later. I don’t mind that, though. What really stopped me from really enjoying this film was the Danny Elfman score. It just sounded too much like a Tim Burton movie, and when it sounds like Tim Burton but doesn’t look like Tim Burton it gets far too confusing. Didn’t like that at all. But the film itself was okay, a bit like Casper meets Ghosbusters, but oh well.
Day Thirty – Starry Eyes, 2014 | dir. Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
My thoughts: First of all, wow! Not at all what I was expecting. This film is pretty much amazing, really grotesque, and proper scary at times. The plot itself is a bit silly (kinda like Starlet meets Rosemary’s Baby?) but the execution is fantastic. The film also looks really good, there are some gorgeous shots, and the gore effects and make-up are great. I would really recommend this!
Day Thirty-One – Event Horizon, 1997 | dir. Paul W.S. Anderson
My thoughts: So, this happened. It’s pretty good, I’ll say that. I liked some of the visual a lot, especially at the end when those grotesque images flash on the screen, that was great. However, I thought that the story of the previous crew of the ship was probably more interesting than this one haha. It was a good film, though. I’ll definitely be watching it again, though maybe not as a scary movie. It works more as sci-fi, even though most people say it’s horror first… Oh, well. Still a great way to end the marathon! It’s always fun to watch Laurence Fishburne.
Thanks for reading, and have a SPOOKY Halloween!
post by Mariana Duarte