#31HorrorFilms31Days Roundup (2)

Scary-movie1This is my second annual roundup for the 31 Horror Films in 31 Days challenge. I had such a great time doing it last year, that I just had to do it again. 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.

 

The real “challenge” comes into play cobbling together a list of 31 horror movies I’ve never seen before and stand a decent chance of being good. I cheated only a little with The Birds; I had seen it before but this was the first time on a big screen, so I decided to include it. If you think you know Hitchcock but have never seen any of his films on a theater size movie screen then I’m telling you you’re missing out. You have no idea. It’s like seeing the movie for the first time (and definitely how Hitchcock envisioned the size of the canvas he was working with). This makes all the difference.

 

There seemed to be a lot more duds this year peddling plain sloppy examples of lazy and unimaginative movie making and storytelling. But coming out of that mixed bag of uninspired mediocrity were some of the scariest (and funniest) horror movies I’ve seen in a long, long, time, so I’m still calling this year a huge win.

 

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Topping my list this year for outright scariest, achieving a surprising amount within its very modest indie budget is the Australian flick Lake Mungo (2008). Its simple but incredibly convincing faux documentary style relies on no special effects, no jump scares or loud music, and it still SCARED THE LIVING BEJEBUS out of me. It accomplishes so much with so little — this is as stripped down and bare bones as movie making gets, but it all felt so authentic and engaging, pulling you right into the heart of this family and the tragedy they’re experiencing. So not only is it a believable portrait of grief, it really digs at the psychological costs of grieving and how we might process an actual haunting. This is a movie that impressed me with its ambitious ending too. It’s a twisty narrative that when it finally departs from its straight-forward premise where you think you know exactly what’s going on, the movie is going to jangle your nerves, terrify you, break your brain (and then your heart). Watch it!

 

file_744248_wyrmwood-posterAnother winner from Down Under is the post-apocalyptic zombie flick Wyrmwood (2014). I’ve been burning out on zombies of late (and I place the blame firmly at the feet of The Walking Dead for my zombie fatigue — so glad I stopped watching). But this loud, action-packed, gory and edgy zombie fest from Australia is smart and innovative with some Mad Max thematic overtones to act as the cherry on top. The zombie genre is SO well-trod it’s really a challenge to pull off anything new, but Wyrmwood succeeds splendidly. Trust me, put this one on your watch list. And tell your friends! I want a sequel.

 

Another HUGE SURPRISE was the Lovecraftian romantic horror mash-up (yes, you read that right) — Spring (2014). This one was so unexpectedly spring-2014great, I almost gave it five stars. Not only is it a convincing love story set in a beautiful Italian landscape, it is a terrifying contemplation on body horror and metamorphosis. It’s subtle yet consuming, with great dialogue and fantastic chemistry between the two leads. And don’t just take my word for it: horror maestro and creative genius Guillermo del Toro tweeted that it’s “one of the best horror films of this decade.”

 

The FUNNIEST horror comedy that I watched this year had to be What We Do In The Shadows (though I finally got around to seeing Dale and Tucker vs Evil and that almost tied with it). Both of them I will watch again because they’re that good. What We Do In The Shadows is a mockumentary out of New Zealand from the creator of what_we_do_in_the_shadows_ver6Flight of the Conchords. If you weren’t a fan of that show, don’t let that stop you from checking out this HILARIOUS look at the life of a den of modern vampires sharing a house together trying to navigate their challenging condition and their annoyances with one another. It’s fresh, cheeky and a whole bucketful of bloody fun.

 

And lastly, while not strictly a horror movie per se, I finally got around to seeing Green Room with Patrick Stewart and the gone much too soon Anthon Yelchin. This is a gripping, edge of your seat, white-knuckle thriller that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the final credits roll. It is INTENSE, extremely well-acted, and not easily forgotten. The violence is graphic, but not gratuitous, and the suspense and tension unrelenting. If you haven’t seen it yet, add Green Room to your queue. You won’t regret it.

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Lastly, please share what scared YOU this October. I’m already working on my list for next year!

 

31. WYRMWOOD (Australia 2014) Mad Max w/ ? Yes please! Action-packed, gruesome & funny 4/5

30. FEBRUARY (2015) Sally Draper’s left behind at empty boarding school over holiday. Quiet & supremely unnerving 3.5/5

29. SPRING (2015) A mash up of body horror & love story profoundly, authentically beautiful in its themes & charm 4.5/5

28. CLOWN (Canada/US 2014) Like if Jeff Goldblum had morphed into a demon clown instead of a fly 3.5/5

27. CELL (2016) Cell phones turn people into fast moving zombies, sorta??? Confused & messy & kinda dull 2/5

26. CUB (Belgium 2014) Boy Scouts + feral wood kid. No. Just no. Graphic violence + animal cruelty 0/5

25. TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL The dumbest, clumsiest college kids mistake two hapless hillbillies as psycho killers. 4/5

24. DEMENTIA 13 (1963) Francis Ford Coppola’s mainstream directorial debut & weak attempt at ripping off Hitchcock 2/5

23. GOODNIGHT MOMMY (Austria 2014) Opens w. twin boys playing in a cornfield. You know this isn’t ending well.

22. THE HALLOW (Ireland 2015) The deep Irish woods are alive with… you don’t want to know. It isn’t leprechauns 2.5/5

21. THE DEAD ROOM (New Zealand 2015) Minimalist approach to maximizing suspense. Impressive sound fx 3.5/5

20. STAKE LAND (2010) Mad Max meets The Road via vicious vampires. Gripping apocalypse melodrama with great acting 4/5

19. HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995) Paul Rudd’s film debut and the final film of Donald Pleasence

18. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (New Zealand 2014) Loved it! The funniest goddamn vampire movie you will ever see 4.5/5

17. THE ONES BELOW (2015) Epic suspense fail when your audience can predict every plot twist 2.5/5

16. FOUND (2012) What sucks more than being 12 and getting bullied? Discovering your brother is a serial killer 3/5

15. LAKE MUNGO (Australia 2008) Utterly unnerving indie gem in faux-doc style. Don’t miss this one! 4.5/5

14. PURGE 3: ELECTION YEAR (2016) Very shoot ’em up this time and LOUD. The tonight was much scarier 2.5/5

13. BONE TOMAHAWK (2015) A horror western with cannibals starring Kurt Russell and Patrick Wilson? Yes please 4.5/5

12. BAD MILO! (2013) This is why men don’t give birth. Utter schlocky nonsense totally worth it for Peter Stormare 3/5

11. ZOMBEAVERS (2014) Because sometimes you just have to opt for the truly ridiculous. Raunchy, gory fun 3.5/5

10. THE BOY (2016) Lauren Cohen gets nanny gig in English mansion. The Innocents meets Pinocchio meets Chucky?? Meh 2/5

9. BLEED (2016) Never go ghost hunting in an abandoned prison when you’re pregnant. Recycled schlock 1/5

8. MANIAC COP (1988) What’s not to love here? 1980s NYC, Tom Atkins, ‘s chin & eyebrows, & Raimi cameo

7. HOLIDAYS (2016) Very meh horror anthology that tries too hard to be clever. That bathtub scene though 2/5

6. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR What part of don’t open the goddamn door do you not understand?! Nothing new here 2.5/5

5. GREEN ROOM (2016) Punk rockers get a gig in a den of neo-Nazis and see something they shouldn’t. Intense!  4/5

4. SINISTER 2 (2015) Predictable jump scares pale in comparison to outstanding frightening unforgettable original 2.5/5

3. BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (2013) British sound engineer gets movie job in 70s Italy. Lynch-like weirdness ensues 3/5

2. THE BIRDS Small coastal town besieged by shrieking, screeching homicidal birds. Calculated silences=pure dread 5/5

1. CRIMSON PEAK Lush, gothic romance filled with terrible beauty and dread by the master 3.5/5

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