This was the year I decided to take the 31 Horror Films in 31 Days challenge. The rules are pretty simple — beginning October 1st watch 31 previously unseen horror movies by midnight of Halloween, tweeting each one with a descriptive blurb and the hashtag #31HorrorFilms31Days. This was a no brainer. In my world, watching 31 horror movies would be a breeze and a pleasure.
The real “challenge” I faced was cobbling together a list of 31 horror movies I’d never seen before (because I’ve seen a lot). Not only that, I wanted them to be movies I thought had a decent chance of being good. It’d be easy come up with a list of B-grade pieces of schlocky garbage. I wanted my challenge to be a labor of love, a genuine attempt at uncovering some diamonds in the rough and a perfect opportunity to catch some classics I’ve managed to miss along the way.
The verdict — I’m deliriously pleased to announce — is that horror is not dead. Despite too many baaad remakes and too many rip-offs and too many shaky cameras, the genre is alive and well. Not just good movies, but great movies are being made. Even M. Night seems to be back in the game after I’d sworn off his movies for good after The Happening, in which nothing actually happens other than people get scared by “gently rustling leaves.” Two hours of my life I won’t ever get back, fuck you very much. The Visit isn’t half bad though, with some creepy scenes and a “twist” that has a “the call is coming from inside the house!” kind of vibe. The kids are a bit overly precocious and annoying, but the old woman is TERRIFYING.
Listed below is my complete round-up of all 33 movies I ended up watching by Halloween. They were all previously unseen. I’ve assigned a rating out of 5. No movie scored 5/5 but two came very close — not surprisingly Jacob’s Ladder and the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Not necessarily the best, but the two that scared me the most (as in sleep with the light on nearly make me pee my pants level of scare) included most unexpectedly a new documentary called The Nightmare about sleep paralysis. The human brain is an asshole and some unlucky people fall under its torment nightly. Don’t miss this. I will say the same for The Banshee Chapter. Ever heard of Shortwave Numbers Stations? Yeah, me neither. This movie makes use of them in a way that completely unnerved me. Sit alone in a dark room and listen to the swedish rhapsody. I dare you.
Also high on my list from Canada is Backcountry — a gripping man versus nature tale about an intrepid couple who go into the woods — and meet a bear. It’s beautifully shot and terrifying to watch unfold. Not as good as Open Water, but very compelling nevertheless in its convincing actors and in the confident execution of its simple plot.
Lastly, please share what scared YOU this October. I’m already working on my list for next year!
32) THE VISIT | Old people be scary. Precocious kids can’t see dead people but get traumatized for life anyway 3.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
30) DEAD WITHIN Couple hiding from zombie-esque plague become unhinged in their isolation. Slow burn but good 3/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
29) HOUSEBOUND | Bratty adult with legal troubles is trapped at home with mum under house arrest. Funny & scary 3.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
28) HELLRAISER (1987) | Ugly characters. Ugly movie. Pinhead is a dick. How has this spawned so many sequels? Hated 0/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
27) BIG ASS SPIDER! As much scary fun you can have w/ a giant arachnid & it still be legal 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
26) STARRY EYES Bleak Faustian tale mixing Cronenberg body horror w/ Lynch weirdness. Compelling but difficult to watch #31HorrorFilms31Days
25) THE LAZARUS EFFECT | Didn’t little Gage teach you people nothing?! Sci-fi Pet Sematary 3/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
24) THE GALLOWS Is this House of Leaves high school? How big is it anyway? Silly shaky mess copycatting much better 2/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
23) DIABOLIQUE Stripped to its bare essentials this classic is effective but sorely missing Hitchcock’s stylings 3.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
22) BACKCOUNTRY (Canada 2014) | Open Water in the woods with a bear. Lush & nerve-wracking 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
21) HIDDEN (2015) Intense, claustrophobic survival story about a family hiding underground 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
20) WE ARE WHAT WE ARE | If Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a subtle, lyrical well-acted movie. This one surprised me 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
19) THE HAUNTER (Canada 2013) Teen caught in time loop in haunted house. Must unravel sinister mystery. Nice twist 3/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
18) THE AWAKENING (2011) | Jimmy McNulty is a British boarding school teacher. There is a boy ghost. And a twist. 3/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
17) THE GIFT (2015) | More psychological thriller but still intense and creepy. Bullies suck. Karma is a bitch. 3.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
16) WE ARE STILL HERE Never bring hippies into a haunted house with ancient curse. Good! 3.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
15) THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME (Spain 2013) | Well plotted ghost story genuinely frightening and emotional Rating 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
14) DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD | Russian zombies kick Nazi zombie ass. Gory slapstick fun! 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
13) INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 | Pissed off demon in a breathing mask torments teen girl. Intensely scary for a sequel. 3.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
12) DEAD SNOW Cabin in the Norwegian mountains movie w/ NAZI zombies. Spectacular cinematography, splatter and fun. 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
11) CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO | “No, I’m not on my period. Why do you ask?” Flesh eating disease is an asshole. Rating: 3/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
10) THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL | Adventures in babysitting. Nostalgic 70s stylings & slow build make this a real gem 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
9) THE PYRAMID Can a movie be so bad it’s good? Yes. Just not this one. What a laughable mess in every way. Rating 1/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
8) THE BANSHEE CHAPTER Effing scary!! Sound effects are unnerving. Lovecraft + hallucinogens = bad news Rating: 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
7) GRABBERS Creature feature with drunk Irish and tentacles. Hilarity abounds. Nearly peed myself laughing. Rating 4/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
6) JUG FACE Hicklit meets The Lottery. Young girl cheats Pit. The Pit wants what it wants. Backwoods chaos ensues 2.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
4) JACOB’S LADDER | Vietnam vet has hellish visions. Doesn’t know what’s real anymore. Terrifying and beautiful 4.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
3) RE-ANIMATOR Sometimes dead is better. Ayuh. Above all else, keep your head. Cheesy gory fun. My rating: 3.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
2) THE NIGHTMARE 2015 | Dramatized documentary about sleep paralysis. Scary! My rating: 3.5/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days
1) HERE COMES THE DEVIL – (Mexico 2012) Creepy kids get lost in a cave overnight. Come home acting even creepier 2/5 #31HorrorFilms31Days