I know that I’m about two weeks late. Elvis took priority in my weekly viewing first (truly fantastic movie, always been a Baz fan). However, I took the next opportunity to catch The Black Phone and boy what a treat it was. I really did enjoy this film, and it’s continued to get better the more I reflect on it.
This is the fourth horror project of Scott Derrickson that I’ve seen, and it takes second place to The Exorcism of Emily Rose. For those not familiar with Derrickson, he is responsible for the film Sinister which in has held the number one spot until 2021 for the scientifically scariest movie in a study conducted by Broadband Choices UK called the “Science of Scares.” It’s not my personal favorite, but I do tip my hat to a certain scene with a lawnmower, as it is one of the best horror scenes I’ve ever seen. Much like Sinister, The Black Phone has some flaws that pop out to me.
I will be discussing the highs and the lows of the film here, so if you haven’t seen it, go and watch it! I caught it on a value day, but I would pay full price to see it again–so go and watch it or scroll down and face the consequences of getting things mildly spoiled. Now let’s jump into this void of a detailed review.
Let’s get straight to it: Ethan Hawke
I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but Ethan Hawke is amazing in this film. He is truly a terrifying villain which differs from the heartthrob, sensitive roles I’ve loved him in. He really took the plunge and played a complexly evil man chock full of dysfunction. While all the elements of his character weren’t fully explained in the film, he portrayed who he was in full confidence that even a viewer with zero context of the story can reach a mutual understanding of who he is and what his motivations might be.
Taking place in the late 70s, The Grabber’s targets emulate one similar to John Wayne Gacy–with details being eerily similar that doubles down on the creep factor for familiar viewers. The varied complex emotions that he swings to seamlessly is very similar to the skill portrayed by Toni Collette in the dinner scene from Hereditary. Accompanied with the variety of creepy masks that only adds on to the performance, this movie is worth seeing for just his performance alone.
Brilliant Kid actors: Another It Phenomenon
However, it is not just Ethan Hawke that excels. The child actors that play the main characters in this film are beyond brilliant, especially the sister. Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw are what brings the film to life. They also add quite a lot of heart to the story. Starting out in their abusive household, your heart automatically hurts for these kids as the story goes on. It makes the abduction scene that more intense and heartbreaking, as you know their farewell to each other might be their last.
I give major props to McGraw here for her performance. She’s a convincing psychic and delivers some heartfelt, comedic lines through the film that breaks up the tension a bit. This does not discount Thames’ performance as well as the rest of the younger actors, who are at the center of this horror. The film starts out a bit slow. However this is only for us to get an insight and bond with these two children before they are thrust into the whirlpool that is this movie’s act II and III. We’re approaching a decade now of incredibly strong child actors in horror-based content such as Stranger Things and IT. Boy, do they add brilliance to their stories.
Peak Storytelling: Well Crafted
The scares from this film came from the realism. I meant it by drawing up comparisons to Gacy. Probably the scenes that delivered the most is the abduction scenes and the overall desensitization of the community as it occurs more and more often. The dream sequences and storytelling are top notch, making this seem much like a passion project of Derrickson’s. I also believe that it is aided that this is an adaptation of a novella, meaning there was structure to build off of.
Not that the two are remotely comparable in regard to story content, but I feel that this tale was told better than Sinister. Derrickson played within his wheelhouse of gritty realism. For example, the scariest pieces of Sinister are the found ‘snuff’ films. This played it out through the film’s entirety. I see the progress only going up from here. If he has Hawke as his De Niro, the only direction is up for the duo.
Uneven Pacing and Plot Holes: The only Complaints
While I mostly want to sing its praises, The Black Phone is not flawless. Because it is an adaptation, the film relies too much on inference. There are a lot of unanswered questions and details that only the source material delves into and reveals. While this might cause the average viewer to pick up the book to find more, majority of film viewers will see these as merely plot holes. However, the questions don’t need to be answered to enjoy the movie and understand the main points.
Another issue that can grind people’s gears is the pacing. The pacing is very similar to a typical somber psychological thriller. That being said there are quite a few moments where things seem to lull. However, I had no complaints as some of my favorite horror/thriller movies are slow burns. However, the way that this film was marketed was as a pure horror film. I can confidently say that it is not what it was marketed as. Reminiscent of films such as Zodiac or Se7en, it’s the burn of the chase.
Overall Review of The Black Phone
Rating: 8 out of 10.
I definitely recommend this movie and believe it’s more enjoyable once one knows what they’re getting into. It’s an intense thriller that doesn’t let go once it sets off. It’s a solid film from Scott Derrickson that showcases stellar performances. The key reason to watch this film is to get blown away by Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames and Madeline McGraw. They delivered through the whirling hour and 42 minutes. Finally, I think it’s a must see in theaters before it’s gone. If you’re seeing this too late, watch in a pitch-black room–should get the same creepy effects.
Anyways, thanks for spelunking this void with us. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post regularly and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horrific tomorrow. See ya next time.
Ah, the Fourth of July. The best holiday to get drunk and blow up stuff–because if that doesn’t scream patriotism, I don’t know what does. If you’re new here, I have taken the responsibility in turning any moment into a possibility for scares. Therefore, I had to track down what films are appropriate for this American holiday.
To qualify, the films had to have a Fourth of July related plot point that was consequential to the story. With vigorous research, two films came out on top. Both films were coincidentally released in 1985. so that must have been an explosive year. If you’re into celebrating the holiday or you couldn’t care less and want to tuck in for a movie while it sounds like a warzone outside, let me turn you onto Silver Bullet and Return of the Living Dead.
This film falls into the category of forgotten Stephen King adaptations (though every cover has his name announced on it). If you’re a fan of the werewolf genre, this is your movie. Silver Bullet is based on King’s novella Cycle of the Werewolf. Starring 80’s wonderchild Corey Haim, who you might recognize from The Lost Boys, it focuses on a paraplegic kid who believes the random, violent murders happening across town have a supernatural culprit: a local werewolf.
This string of murders cancels the local Fourth of July celebration. However, our protagonist Marty steals some fireworks for a personal celebration. These fireworks set of a series of confrontations with the supposed culprit, leading to an investigation on who is the culprit. It’s a film that most of Generation X has on their radar. It was either something that either terrified them beyond belief or inducted them into the horror genre.
I consider this film a clear example of starter horror. It isn’t too intense for younger viewers and is chock full of 80’s nostalgia that parents can enjoy it too–if they haven’t seen it already. It also is a decent King adaptation and has a stellar performance from Corey Haim and quite a convincing villain. Not to mention, the werewolf makeup is quite terrifying. Check this out if your neighbors are annoying you with late night fireworks–maybe consequentially you’ll sic a werewolf on them.
On the other side of the coin, we have this zany, punk horror comedy. This is one of the most beloved zombie film of all time and has truly ascended with its cult status over the years. It is acutely self aware and takes place over the Fourth of July weekend–so it was practically screaming at me. Released in 1985 and a true riff off of Romero’s zombie flicks, Return of the Living Dead is a true, crazy treat. Two careless warehouse workers accidently lets loose a gas that turns corpses nearby into unkillable zombies. Teaming up with a group of punk teens, they face off against this invincible crowd over the holiday weekend.
I mean, what couldn’t be more American than dropping a nuclear bomb on the problem and labeling it as a solution, despite making things worse? The film also serves as a scathing commentary on the nuclear scares occurring during the Cold War area and how nuclear warfare could lead to more destruction than aid to their cause. This was a common topic that horror films addressed during the 80s–adding further to my “horror-social commentary” point that I’ve made on many posts (if not all).
This is the film that introduced the concept of zombies feasting on brains as well as one of the first that was not a Romero. On top of that, it is a gorefest that is unrelentless in its hour and a half runtime, making this a quick watch for the holiday so you can go out and catch some fireworks. If not, it has plenty of sequels that are equally ridiculous and could make for an entertaining (and possibly drunken) night.
Well, whether you enjoy the holiday or not, hopefully these suggestions give you ideas for some new holiday traditions. The macabre never sleeps, so I hope to offer a tradition for those that indulge in it daily like me. What are your favorite nonconventional horror movies? Let me know in the comments and I can feature them next holiday–it doesn’t have to be horror either, I love unconventional matches for every genre.
Anyways, thanks for spelunking this void with me. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post regularly and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horrific tomorrow. See ya next time and have a great Fourth of July.
For my film this week, The Void has chosen the 1922 German silent film Haxan. This has been lovingly restored for the Criterion Collection, and is available for streaming on HBO Max. This will be a shorter dissection than my previous submissions. Don’t get too excited. It really is not possible to go into too much of a story analysis.
You can check out my last post on Suspicionhere, if you want to see a heated review. Nonetheless, let’s get into it.
Summarizing Haxan: The first stories
This film tells the story of witchcraft through the centuries. It is told in chapters with the first telling a history or how the Devil and witchcraft are connected and the preceding chapters telling dramatizations of witchcraft being practiced and the impact on innocent victims.
Many of the movie tropes we see today can be traced back to Haxan. The depiction of witches being ugly, old hags for one. Even in the story when the beautiful young woman is the witch, it is quite easy for her to frame a woman fitting this description as the witch and divert attention from herself.
In one of the first stories, what we have come to know as the early zombie walk is depicted. Arms straight out, walking aimlessly. The woman in question is young and beautiful, and stark naked. I don’t think I have ever seen shadows used so skillfully to maintain modesty.
German Macabre in Haxan
As the dramatization progresses there is a stunning scene of witches flying on their broomsticks, to dance with demons. I want to add that the witches are able to fly because of the ointment that they rub on each other’s back. I wonder if that could be where the concept of Pixie Dust came from?
There were a number of laugh out loud moments for me, but I am not sure they were intentional. It could be the fact that, at times, I have the sense of humor of a 13-year-old boy. When the title card suggests that witches have to kiss the devil’s bottom and then showed an illustration of this act, I found it quite amusing. I must also say that my laughter was that of being delighted by the images, which were highly imaginative and way ahead of their time. The Germans have a special quality in their depiction of the macabre, especially during the 1920s.
The film is in black and white, but the filmmaker also used a sepia color, often indicating either firelight, or hellfire. The use of shadow, as I previously mentioned, was masterfully done. It allowed the provocative to be present, but maintained the film’s modesty.
I am recommending this film, especially to those who love the process of filmmaking. To those, it is almost essential viewing. Also, those of you who are Pop Culture addicts like me, you might want to watch to see where Tenacious D and Dave Grohl found their inspiration for their version of the devil in “The Pick of Destiny.”
While this take was short and sweet, I will be back with whatever The Void decides to throw me. Hope all of your 2022 are magical…with no devil butt kissing included!
Notorious is a wonderful introduction to the genre of film-noir. It eases you in without being too dark, and gives you enough romance to make you care about what happens to the two leads; the two leads are Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, so that is not a difficult thing to do. Boy, Ingrid Bergman has gotten a beating over the last few weeks. Brilliantly directed by Alfred Hitchock, Notorious transports us back to the days just after World War 2, with enough spies, intrigue and innuendo to keep even the most passive viewer engaged. So without further ado, here is my analysis of 1946’s “Notorious” . PS: If you are looking for the 2009 biopic Notorious about the Notorious B.I.G., I am afraid this is a very different film. You can check out the last MOTV post here.
The film starts in a courtroom in Miami, where Alicia Huberman’s (Bergman) father has just been convicted of treason. The press is waiting for her, taking her picture and bombarding her with questions. It is quickly established that she is being followed, but by whom?
We now find ourselves at a party at Alicia’s house, where she is generously pouring drinks, as she is being asked questions by her guests about being followed by the police, which she ignores. We can see everyone’s face, except a shadowy figure with his back to us. Alicia acknowledges him, pours him a drink and begins talking to him, with no response from the mystery man. To be honest, she doesn’t really give him a chance to respond. This is her house and she is commanding the room, looking stunning while doing so. She suggests that the mystery man is a party crasher, but is corrected by the guest who invited him. Still not a word from the shadowy figure.
Alicia finally acknowledges the fact that she is being followed and expresses her annoyance at being a marked woman because of her father’s dealings. The elder gentleman she has been generously imbibing reminds her that they are setting sail tomorrow and the police will no longer be a problem. The party begins to break up, and as it does, Alicia pours the mystery man another drink, telling him she likes him, even though he hasn’t uttered a word.
Finally the camera pans around to show that our mystery man is Devlin (Grant). It is apparent that the two have continued to drink long after the other guests have either left, or passed out. Alicia is clearly intoxicated, but Devlin is cool as a cucumber. Alicia suggests that the two go outside for a picnic. She tells Devlin her car is outside, and asks if he wants to go for a ride. She tells him that she is driving, and all he protests to is that she doesn’t have her coat, to which she replies, “You’ll do.” When they exit the house, the wind is blowing, and Devlin proceeds to wrap a scarf around Alicia’s bare midriff, telling her he doesn’t want her to get cold.
Celeb crushes, anyone?
I have a confession to make here. If I was to build the perfect man it would be a combination of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. I think I spent half this movie swooning over Grant’s cool demeanor and suave good looks. Ok, let me wipe the drool off my chin and continue.
Having gotten her way, Alicia is erratically swerving all over the road. She asks Devilin if he is scared, and he shows no fear, as she increases her sleep to make him show her something. We can see Devlin’s hand is positioned to take control of the wheel if need be, but he is saved from having to do so by a motorcycle policeman’s approach. Alicia expresses her disdain for the police. She reluctantly pulls over after admitting that this would be her second drunk driving offense and that would cause her to go to jail, like the rest of her family.
The officer approaches the car and after a few snide remarks from Alicia, he asks Devlin if she is drunk. He doesn’t answer, he just reaches into his pocket and shows the officer his credentials. The officer apologizes for pulling them over and states his assurance in Devlin’s abilities as he walks away.
Alicia, confused and agitated, askes her passenger where the ticket she rightly deserves is. Finally Alicia asks for his name, and he introduces himself to her. She questions him about what he showed the officer to make him leave. She becomes aggressive as she identifies him as a cop and begins to hit him, while Devlin stays measured and cool. He tells her to move over so he can drive and take her home. She refuses, gripping the steering wheel until her knuckles are white. He tries to be as gentle as he can with her, while she continues to hit and fight. I am not sure what moves he does on her, but she finally either passes out or just gives up. He slides into the driver’s seat with a sigh.
The next morning, Alicia awakes with a hangover cure on her nightstand and Devlin leaning casually in her doorway. Hitchcock’s direction is wonderful here. He spins the camera to show how Alicia’s head is spinning from her crazy night.
The Plot Thickens
As Alicia slowly starts to get her wits about her, she questions Delvin about what he wants with her. He explains that he works for the government and they want her to help them catch some of the men who had worked with her father, and are now conducting business in Brazil. She insists she is not interested and even turning her back on him. He tells her that her apartment has been wired for three months, and he plays a recording between Alicia and her father. She tells her father that she loves America and hates what her father is doing. She is visibly upset by this, but tells Devlin that she wants to live her own life.
The captain from the night before arrives and tells her that it is almost time for the boat to depart. He leaves again as Devlin gives Alicia another chance to agree, which she does, sending him to tell the captain the bad news.
The couple is now on a plane to Brazil. Everyone used to get so dressed up on airplanes, not a pair of pajama pants or crocs to be found. Devlin points out their boss, a few rows back in the plane. Devlin tells Alicia that her father has died. He took a poison capsil. Alicia reflects on how nice she and her once were before she knew who her father really was. With his death, she no longer has to hate him or herself.
They are now at a street cafe in Rio, still awaiting news on what their job will be. Alicia asks Devlin to put his cop brain on the back burner and just take her hand and have fun. Alicia starts to drown her doubts in herself as she asks Devlin to believe in her.
They have gone for a drive and are admiring the view as Alicia tells Devlin that he can’t admit he has feelings for her because he is ashamed of loving a drunk, and is worried about what others will think. Well he finds a way to stop her from talking; a passionate kiss does the trick.
Alicia and Devlin
The agents are having a meeting about Alicia, and how much faith he has in her. The meeting adjourns with the men looking very proud of themselves. They basically just agreed that Alicia will have to find her way into the house of the German business man they are targeting, who had ties to her father.
Devlin and Alicia have arrived at her hotel room and make good use of the balcony, and I don’t mean they are admiring the view of the beach. The two make plans for dinner in between kisses. Devlin contacts his hotel to see if he has any messages. Alicia tells Devlin she knows he doesn’t love her, to which he responds, “When I don’t love you, I’ll let you know.” Ok…heart…calm yourself….swoon…
Devlin has a message from his boss, and he has to leave for a meeting. They kiss all the way to the door. At the meeting, his boss has obviously told him they expect Alicia to become intimate with their target. He is visibly upset and states that he is not sure that she will do it. His boss tells him that their target, Alex Sebastian ( Claude Rains) was once in love with Alicia, and this is the perfect opportunity to get someone on the inside to find out what has been going on.
It is determined that Devlin and Alicia will stage an unexpected meeting with Alex at a local riding club. Devlin now has the unfortunate task of going back to tell the woman he loves he is whoring her out for the good ole’ USA. Those are my words, not his, but if I was Alicia, that is what I would hear in my head.Devlin returns to Alicia’s hotel room as she is happily cooking for the two of them. She happily is going about, setting the table, and he is back to his mystery man stance. Alicia is so open with him, and he zings her, and gets back to business.
Devlin asks Alicia if she remembers their target and asks if he had feelings for her. She tells him that he did have feelings for her, but she did not return them. She asks him what the plan is and he tells her that they are meeting Alex tomorrow, but it is up to her to “land him”, which is better than saying nail him I guess. Alicia compares herself to Mata Hari, trying to lighten the mood, Devlin brings any levity crashing to the ground as he reiterates that she has to win the target over and get the intel. Alicia accuses him of knowing all along that this is what the job was and he tells her he just found out himself. Both are heart broken, but Devlin hides behind his law enforcement mask while Alicia’s expressions are an open book.
Alicia Joins the Case
Alica asks if he told the boss she was not the kind of woman for this job, and Devlin says he leaves it up to her to defend herself. She enquiries if he tried to adjust the assignment, if he tried to protect what they were starting. Devlin replies, this is the job they have to do. As her pain increases, Alicia’s mask is starting to be secured into place. She asks him if she should take the job, and he tells her it is up to her. She asks him to tell her that he loves her, but once again, the words do not come.
As she walks from the cozy balcony, her self esteem seems to blow way with the ocean breeze. My heart breaks for her. This man she is falling for is willing to give her up to another man because it is the job. His cold and matter of fact demeanor is doing nothing to help ease the pain of this blow he had dealt her. He did so much more damage with his words and lack thereof, than he ever did in the tussle over her car back in Miami. She takes a drink and when she speaks her mask is firmly in place.
The next day, the two are heading to the riding company. Devlin gives her his back story, and his folded arms show how unhappy he is about the situation. At the riding club, the two slowly ride past Alex, but Alicia’s hat obscures his view, even though he does have a spark of recognition. When Devlin says they should wait around and take this slowly, Alicia is not too keen on this idea, signaling her horse to run, which makes Alex follow, clearly recognizing a woman he was once very fond of. Alex catches up to her, taking her horse’s reins and stopping them both, as Devlin looks on, his mask cracking.
Having missed a meeting with Devlin, we find Alicia and Alex having dinner. Alex is openly flirting as Alicia is cool but affectionate. She sees Prescott, her boss, enter the restaurant. Alex asks if she knows that man and she says no. He explains to her that Prescott is intelligence, and Alicia shares her disdain for members of law enforcement, explaining they are the reason why she left Miami and was not there when her father died. Alex admits this answers a question he had about why she left Miami. Alex says he wants to help Alicia forget all the pain and trouble she and her father had gone through. She tells him she feels at home with him.
Tension between the lovebirds
Alex asks her if there is someone else in her life and specifically Devlin. Alicia tells him that Devlin has been nothing but a pest since she arrived in Rio. She assures him that Devlin means nothing to her. Alex invites her to a dinner party his mother is throwing at their house. So, he is a mama’s boy. Let’s see to what extent shall we….
Devlin is angry, Prescott curious about flowers Alex has sent Alicia. The two agents are waiting in Alicia’s room as she appears, stunning in white, ready for the dinner party. Prescott gives Alicia some rented jewels, and tells her to try and memorize the names of the people in attendance. He tells the two that they need to not see each other for a few days, in case anyone from the party checks up on her.
Alicia arrives at Alex’s house, a large mansion on the ocean. He is doing very well for himself. . She is escorted into a room to wait, and she sees Alex’s mother descend the stairs. The two women greet each other, but with guarded stances. Alex enters, and the Ice Queen, oh sorry, Alex’s mother suggests they meet the other guests.
As all the guests take their seats for dinner, a certain wine visibly upsets one of the guests. Alex quickly escorts him from the room as Alicia takes note. Alicia cannot see the label of the wine in questions.
After dinner the gentlemen retire to a room to have cigars and to discuss the poor man who had a melt down about the wine and is now waiting nervously in the hall. He enters the room and apologizes to the men. He tells Alex he wishes to leave on his own. One of the other guests insists on driving the man home. A concrete shoe fitting, anyone?
Mama’s boy and the Ice Queen are at the horse races, discussing where Alicia disappeared to. Devlin and Alicia meet, and she gives him her intel from the party. Alicia tells Devlin that Alex is one of her playmates. Devlin is angry and lashes out the best he can without losing their cover. He is cruel to her and as Alex approaches he gets one more jab in as Alicia tries to gain her composure. Alex tells Alicia he was watching the two of them and she must convince him that Devlin means nothing to her.
Alicia and Alex
Prescott and Devlin are meeting with other agents, discussing the intel Alicia gave them. She announces that she is there to see them, and when one of the other gentlemen in the room makes snide remarks about her character, Devlin stands up for her, putting the man in his place. Now if he could just do that when she is actually in the room, the love birds might make some progress.
Alicia enters and tells the gentlemen that Alex has asked her to marry him, and she had to give him an answer quickly. They tell her that if she is willing to go this far for them. Prescott asks for Devlin’s opinion and he agrees it is a good idea. Both the lovers are heartbroken, but masks in place. Devlin quickly takes his leave, as the men discuss their luck in this opportunity.
Now married Alex and Alicia return home after their honeymoon. The Ice Queen is not happy about the situation, and makes sure the couple comes home to a dark house. The next day, while Alicia is settling in, she discovers locked doors. The butler tells her that the Ice Queen has all the keys to the locked doors. Alicia interrupts Alex’s meeting and he goes to fetch them from mommy. The two argue behind clothes doors, and what do you know, Mama’s Boy won.
Alicia systematically goes through the house unlocking all the doors but the wine cellar, which only Alex has the key to. While meeting to share information, Devlin tells her to get the key. Alicia tells him easier said than done, and that she is having no fun. Devlin tells her it is too late for all that. He convinces her to throw a party. She can steal the key and slip it to him during the party.
The night of the party, as Alex gets ready in the other room, Alicia stealthily takes the key from his keychain. She does some quick maneuvering as her husband tries to explain his jealousy toward Devlin.
The newlyweds greet their guest, as Alicia holds tight to the key. When Devlin arrives, Alicia slips him the key as he kisses her hand. Alex quickly approaches and assures Devlin and the invitation to the party was from both of them, not just his wife. Our two sneaks begin to worry that the party will run out of champagne and Alex will realize that his key is missing during his absence. Another guest drags Devlin away, while Alicia enquiries with the butler about the champagne supply. Alicia goes to find Devlin, and as they sit and talk, Alex watches the pair from across the room. They plan where to meet and Devlin leaves as Alicia returns to her husband’s side, watching more and more glasses of champagne be poured.
The Wine Cellar
Alicia makes an excuse to leave and goes to meet Devlin. As he searches the wine cellar, Alicia keeps watch. While trying to examine some paperwork, Devlin breaks a bottle of wine that is full of “sand” Devlin gets a sample and the pair half heartedly clean up the mess. He tells her to find another bottle with the same label. She does, but only looks at the label, not the vintage. Alicia pours out the wine, and puts the “sand” back in the bottle and places on the shelf.
At the party the butler approaches Alex to inform him they are running low on champagne. Devlin and Alicia quickly finish cleaning up as Alex arrives in the cellar. Worried about being seen, Devlin quickly kisses Alicia. In the moment, she loses herself and drowns his love for her. He tells her to push him away as Alex approaches. She tells her husband that Devlin drunkenly made the advance. Devlin tells Alex, “I knew her before you, I loved her before you, but I am not as lucky as you.” From behind his mask, Devlin is able to speak his truth. He gives his apology to the couple, and Alex sends Alicia up to see to her guests.
Back to the task at hand, when Alex and the butler return to the wine cellar, he realizes that his key is missing. He tells the butler that the guests have had enough champagne and they can drink what is available upstairs.
Alicia apologizes to her husband after the guests have left. He tells her he was the one who acted like a school boy and then sends her to bed while he goes to conduct some business.
When he enters his bedroom, he sees Alicia sleeping in her bed. He takes his now lighter keyring and places it on the vanity, looking back to his wife. The next morning Alex awakens and looks nervously at a still sleeping Alicia. He goes to check his key ring and the missing key is back where it belongs. He goes down to the wine cellar. Nothing seems out of place, but then he notices something poured down the sink. He goes to examine the shelf where the broken bottle came from. One of the bottles is the wrong vintage and not sealed properly. He picks it up and sees it is full of the “sand”, but he realizes that someone has tampered with this bottle. He searches further and finds the broken bottle under the shelves.
Alex does what any self respecting mama’s boy would do. He runs to his mommy and tells her that his wife is an American agent. The Ice Queen is practically giddy when she finds out there is a problem with her daughter in law. Alex reminds his mother that his business partners got rid of a man for freaking out over a bottle of wine. What will they do to him when they find out his wife is a spy. The two strike up a plan to slowly make Alicia ill, and then one day they will just get rid of her.
What’s in the Bottle?
So the slow poisoning of Alicia begins. When she goes to meet Prescott, he tells her that the “sand” is actually uranium ore. He tells her about Devlin’s transfer to Spain. He asked for the transfer. Alicia confirms that she is still to report to Devlin until the new contact arrives.
Alicia is suffering from dizzy spells, and when she finally goes to meet with Devlin, she is quite ill. She apologizes to him for being late. They both say nothing new is happening. He tells her she doesn’t look very well and asks her if she is sick and she tells him it is a hangover. He is not surprised about her return to her old ways. While they both try to hurt each other with their words, Alicia gives him back the scarf he tied around her waist in Miami. She goes to leave and he asks her to stay, and she tells him she doesn’t want to.
The scientist that is staying with Alex shows genuine concern for Alicia’s health. He starts to give away information about where the uranium is coming from. When the houseguest mistakenly picks up Alicia’s coffee and the Ice Queen and Mama’s Boy quickly stop him from drinking from her cup, the light bulb goes off in Alicia’s head. She knows they are poisoning her, and tries to leave and returns to her room. She collapses before she can get up the stairs to her room and make a phone call for help. Alex insists on removing the phone so she is not disturbed and locks her in there, cutting her off from all contact.
Devlin is in his usual meeting spot, but Alicia never shows up. He goes to see Prescott, and tells him that she hasn’t shown up for 5 days. Devlin tells Prescott that he realizes that Alicia was not drunk when he saw her last, just very sick. He tells him he is going to go to the house and check up on her, make a friendly house call. Prescott tells him to check in after.
Devlin pulls up in front of the stately manor and when the butler opens the door, she asks for Alex first. The butler tells him Alex said no interruptions. He then asks about Alicia and the butler confirms she is ill. Alex is told Devlin is there, and he has his butler tell him to wait. In the meeting, they discuss that people are following them.
Delvin decides he can no longer wait and quickly makes his way up to Alicia. She is barely responsive, but when she realizes it is him, their love for each other cannot hide. She tells him they are poisoning her. He tells her he is going to get her out of the house. Devlin tells her that he was leaving Rio because he loves her and couldn’t stand to see her with Alex. He starts to get Alicia ready to leave and she tells him they gave her sleeping pills. He tries to keep her talking to keep her awake. She asks him to tell her again that he loves her, it keeps her away. As they slowly make their way to the door, she tells him where the sand comes from.
They start to make their escape as Alex meets them at the top of the stairs. Devlin tells the Ice Queen and Mama’s boy that unless he lets them go, he will tell his business associate the truth about who Alicia is. Alex freezes, and mommy does his talking for him. As soon as his associates start to question what is going on, Alex actively helps get Alicia to the car. Once in the car. Alex is locked out of the car and left behind to deal with his associates. With the weight of this hanging in the air, the film ends.
After filming wrapped, Gary Cooper took the wine cellar key. After a few years, he gave the key to Ingrid Bergman, and at a tribute to Alfred Hitchock, she presented the key to him.
All the scenes with multiple kisses were because there was a time limit on long screen kisses due to the Hayes Code.
RKO paid David O Sleznick $800,000 and 50% of the profits for the use of the screen writer, HItchcock, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.
Hitchcock stated that during the course of making the film, he was under surveillance by the FBI because his film contained references to uranium.
I am a huge Hitchcock fan, but this film had escaped my viewing all these years. The first fifteen minutes of the film is very funny. Drunk Ingrid Bergman is delightful. The rest of the film is suspenseful and full of angst and heartbreak. All of the performances are outstanding, but it is the film leads, holding on to those masks of their feeling with all their might is where the film shines.
Hitchcock skillfully uses light to show conflict. Characters in half shadow, stepping into the light, retreating into the dark, this often says more than any dialogue could.
World War II was still fresh in America’s mind when they made this film I am sure that it made the audience question how far they would go for their country. Could they give up their happiness, love, freedom and body if their country asked it of them? More importantly, should this be something that a country asks of its citizens?
“Notorious” is on a number of top film lists and for good reason. You can stream it for free on YouTube and other platforms.
I don’t know where the Void will send me next. Thriller, Horror, Noir…Wherever it is, I am looking forward to the journey, and I hope you will join me for what lies in store. Until next time.
The 31 Days of Horror continue with Week Two! I’m excited to pair up these next seven movies with some yummy food, tasty drinks and delectable double features. Below is the entire calendar if you want a sneak peak for the next few weeks of Spooky Season! If you missed week one, you can find it here.
Anyways, let’s kick off Week Two with one of the greatest films of all time, in my opinion.
October 8th: The Haunting
No, not the terrible remake with Owen Wilson. I’m talking the original from 1963. Based of the Shirley Jackson novel The Haunting of Hill House, Dr. John Markway assembles a team of people to confirm whether Hill House is haunted or not, due to its history of its inhabitants meeting strange, gruesome ends. It is a very spooky ghost masterpiece. It also includes amazing queer subtext between the two main women Eleanor (Nell) and Theodora. The Mike Flanagan limited series The Haunting of Hill House is also an amazing rendition. However, it is not so much an adaptation as this one is. This film’s legacy lives on and is an iconic staple to the whole horror timeline.
All the spooky haunts of this film wanted you all to have a literal taste. Therefore the cocktail for this movie is a Liquid Ghost. For the kiddos (as this film is on the tamer side) or those who choose not to drink, a white chocolate hot chocolate is an alternative, as this movie feels cold at times. Warm soup is a good pairing for this, however I am aiming for little bites, so these French Onion Bites will do. As for a double feature for this film, my suggestion is the film that The Mother of the Void just reviewed: Cat People, as it is another classic horror film dripping with subtext.
October 9th: The Strangers
The films (other than Hush) have been rather tame thus far. Therefore, let’s crank it up. This is a slasher film where the assailants truly have no motive. Therefore it is a malicious, terrifying film that has you on the edge of your seat through its entire run time. It’s bloody, it’s creepy, it’s a slasher through and through. That’s about all that I can say, as this film is purely action from the get-go.
Because of the violence in this film, I found a fun cocktail from Sugar and Soul called Blood and Guts, which is a variation of a Jell-O shot meets classic cocktail. If you’re not a fan of that texture, emulate that same red color with some classic Shirley Temples (according to 50+ 5-star ratings, this is the best Shirley Temple). As for a double feature, if you can stomach some more violence, skip the sub-par sequel. Go check out Maniac, a 1980’s exploitation-slasher that pushed the boundaries so movies like The Strangers could be released. If we’re looking for more “lighthearted” after all that brutality, Halloween: H20 is a good alternative. A classic slasher still, but a bit lighter than Maniac.
Food for this movie is something I imagine the couple stress-ate at the wedding/proposal gone wrong before these grisly events, and the first thing that popped into my head was Caprese Skewers. Delicious, but I have only really had them at special events, so let’s make this night a special event of slashing. Finish it off with some Jordan almonds if you’re really want the wedding vibes to overtake the horror.
October 10th: Southbound
If you’ve been following the blog thus far, you know that this film has come up a few times. I honestly have watched this film once. Yet, it has stuck in my head for the past five years. An anthology film by the same creators behind the V/H/S series and Ready or Not, Southbound deals with the unholiest of topics, being another film that pushes against my tolerance for depravity. Mind you, it’s not as depraved as torture porn films, however, if you are uncomfortable with Satanic symbolism, this one will get to you. I personally am not, I was more horrified by the car accident/hospital scene that is on the gorier side. Anyways, this anthology twists and turns into itself, with a lot of stories overlapping to create one big ol’ hellfest.
What is more devilish than Deviled Eggs and a Red Devil cocktail? Maybe the gas that comes post deviled-egg-consumption, but I digress. For the zero-proof fans, sub the alcohol in this recipe with some grapefruit juice, and it will taste just as citrisy and delicious. As for a double-feature for this one, I suggest the father of anthology horror Creepshow, which without it, we would not have this format. If you want to know more about anthology horror and read up on the other creations by these filmmakers, check out TVOC’s first article: Anthology Horror: Short Stories Unfolded.
October 11th: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Laying out day by day, I didn’t realize I laid out such a brutal weekend. Oh well, into the deep end we go. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre set the standard of what the modern slasher looks like back in 1974, and you can see a lot of ties back to its style, predominantly in gory horror heads Rob Zombie, Eli Roth and Darren Lynn Bousman. It’s a disgusting film, given its budget and its age, and most of it still holds up. Heed warning if you haven’t watched the original however, Franklin is probably one of the most annoying horror characters I have ever seen, and him alone almost made me give up on the movie the first time I watched it. Lots of tension, lots of screaming and lots of violence–just as every good slasher should be.
Over on my new favorite blog, Geeks Who Eat, they have put together an amazing pairing specifically for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that is exactly what I envision consuming during Texas Chainsaw. Therefore, I had to feature them. You can check out their pairing here: The Snack is Family: A Texas Chainsaw Massacre Inspired Pairing (2geekswhoeat.com). For an alternative to bloody mary-style drinks, I found another drink that is sure to get you as messed up in the head as The Family: The Bloody Chainsaw. For the zero-proof peeps, here’s a guide from Texas itself on How to Brew Sweet Tea. The double feature for this one that comes to mind is The Midnight Meat Train, because similar weapons are used in this Clive Barker adaptation–oh yeah, and more brutality. It’s quite a way to start your week.
October 12th: Night of the Living Dead
What is known as the first zombie flick is the choice for this cool, sleepy Tuesday night. Night of the Living Dead is both a cult classic as well as a revolutionary film, as it features the first black protagonist in a horror movie, played expertly by Duane Jones. The quote “They’re coming to get you Barbara!” comes from this film, but its incredibly controversial and powerful ending is probably the most memorable upon viewing.. A teaser for what’s coming next on The Void of Celluloid: this film will be the first featured on the podcast coming soon… Anyways, I feel as if this film has not been seen enough, despite it being the film that started one of the most dominating genres in horror films. Therefore, it demands a spot on the calendar.
Of course the cocktail I would choose is titled the Zombie, which can be easily made into a virgin Zombie minus all the liquor and increasing the pineapple and grapefruit juice to make it at least 12 ounces. And to really amp up the zombie vibes, take your movie snack ideas and turn it into breakfast with Bloody Gut Cinnamon Rolls. Since I can’t get enough of Duane Jones, the double feature will be Ganja and Hess, a experimental horror film that deals with cursed objects and vampires. It’s a fun film with a lot of metaphors. So much so in fact, experimental rap group Clipping. formulated a whole album around it called “There Existed an Addiction to Blood”. You can check that out on Spotify (and I encourage you do).
October 13th: Tucker and Dale VS. Evil
There is no way that this has flown off your radar if you already know about this bash of a film. Easily one if not my favorite horror comedy, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil take the evil-hillbilly trope and flip it on its head for some good, gory laughs. Not to mention the amazing acting coming from Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, Tucker and Dale will stick in your head as some of the most loveable characters of the horror universe.
You have to drink a PBR with this film. You just have to. If you’re not into PBR, Montucky Cold Snack is a good alternative for alcohol, and brew up a hot cocoa if you’re not into the whole beer thing at all. Make sure you toast to the two doofs every time you crack a new one open. As far as food, have some breakfast for dinner with these Pumpkin Pancakes. Make sure to serve them with a side of bacon or have scrambled eggs as an alternative just in case anyone is afraid of/doesn’t like pancakes. The double feature is very obviously Shaun of the Dead, as we like to keep the buddy vs. evil comedy trope going and I frequent these two together almost every year.
October 14th: Alien
Ah, the grandest of the sci-fi horror, Alien takes the cake of a slow burn horror film going batshit and having you squirming in your seat, even on repeat viewings. Follow a crew out in space as they going searching the terrain assigned to them by homebase. When a foreign creature attaches itself to a face of an unsuspecting John Hurt, paranoia, dread and doubt fill the crew as the alien thing takes on its rapidly evolving form. Honestly, the set and costume design alone would carry this film, but with brilliant performances, especially from Sigourney Weaver as the badass Ripley, this film is a staple and should be in yearly rotation if you appreciate good cinema.
When I think of Alien, I think of its cover art and that neon green color, so therefore the cocktail that came to mind was the Midori Sour. A fun zero proof alternative to a Midori Sour is melon flavored Ramune soda.. Because I can’t help but think of sweet lil’ Jonesy, add these Cat Pizzas to the menu for a little bit of fun in this fairly grim story. And of course, the double feature (while it isn’t remotely horror) is Aliens, as you can’t pass up a double feature of these two films when you get a chance to do so. Plus, Aliens features even bigger features of the Xenomorphs, which are scary just by themselves, so cut me some slack this one time. It’s an action packed ending to a week kind of full of brutality (sorry, not sorry?).
Conclusion and What’s Up Next Week
So there we have it, that wraps up my suggestions for week two of 31 Days of Horror. I hope you guys are enjoying the series thus far, as we have two more installments this month and I plan on doing broader installments of random collections throughout the year, as I enjoy making them. As I mentioned before, there is a podcast in the works. It will be called Dripping with Relevance and there will be more details out soon as the first season becomes more flushed out and production begins.
Meanwhile, next week, The Mother of the Void returns on Wednesday with the classic French horror film Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage), and I’m glad she’s having fun with it, even when two whole pages of her summary disappears into the laptop void. Next Friday will be the third installment of 31 Days of Horror, which will be the last one leading up to the Final Ten Days of Halloween. So stay strapped in and keep spelunking, as we have so much more in store.
Can you feel that? It’s finally October, and now I am finally able to say it is spooky season. This means a month-long horror movie marathon: The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Days of Horror. Most of the time, it’s a casual viewing or rewatch, maybe with some popcorn. But sometimes, you want to make a night out of it. Each week, I’m going to go over the calendar posted below and pair a snack and cocktail with each movie I designated for the day and what movie I would pair with each film for a double feature. Posted below is the calendar for the whole month. Let’s get things started!
As you can see, this year is the first year of The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Nights of Horror. Therefore, it is a whole lot of standards and not a lot of style (forgive my mediocre Excel skills). I’ve realized that I have a lot of fans that may not be horror fanatics, and I want the first to always be the one that people can come back to for some strong recommendations, even if it isn’t October yet. I’m looking forward to these breakdowns, as I can offer double features that are a bit more niche for fanatics to possibly replace the one listed, or walk down memory lane and then possibly find something new. Anyways, on to Week One
I firmly believe Joss Whedon is a misogynistic asshole. However, that does not deter my love for his writing and craftmanship. That applies to this movie, which feels like an ode to all things horror. This film focuses on five college kids go on a trip to a cabin in the woods and horrific events ensue. Sound familiar? Like almost someone else was copying and pasting tropes into a program that controls the scenario? Hmm… In avoidance of potential spoilers, The Cabin in the Woods is a romp and a love letter to the filmmakers that came before. In particular Sam Rami, as the comedic elements and cabin itself seem to reference the Evil Dead series. I think it’s also a great meta-horror to kick of the season chock full of spooky familiarity.
Pairings for this film include a Summer Shandy (or an Arnold Palmer if alcohol isn’t your choice) and Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos, as they scream frat house with a little bit of class. As for double feature, the sequel/remake is on the calendar already, so go ahead and pop in Sam Rami’s original The Evil Dead, and enjoy the grape-soda-looking blood fest that comes from this extremely low budget masterpiece that made a legend.
OCtober 2nd: A Nightmare on Elm Street
It’s a Saturday, and it’s time for slashers. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a classic filled to the brim with bloodshed and 80’s cheesiness. Therefore, I thought it was a good place to start in regards to slashers. A group of high school kids from a small Midwest town start having crazy vivid dreams. Funny enough, they have the same antagonist, a mangled man with knives for hands known as Freddy Krueger. Once they realized that these dreams can in fact kill them, they try everything they can to put a stop to it, even if it means never sleeping again. It’s cheesy, it’s creative and it’s always a fun watch every time so therefore it had to be featured.
Kick off with the original, skip the second one (even though it is glorious, you can find out a bit more on my past blog post LGBTQ+ Representation: An Overview of the Horror) and have A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors as the double feature for this film. This is the sequel that matches the energy, creativity and the scares of the first one. It also has the iconic “Prime time, bitch!” scene in it, so if you’ve never seen that, it’s a must. As far as drinks go, the cocktail of choice is of course an Irish Coffee (a coffee with brown sugar would be a great virgin alternative) as you need that caffeine to hopefully never sleep again. The featured snack is going to be Little Smokies, as fire is quite a big role in this film.
October 3rd: Devil
This film is scary on so many levels, and not only because it takes place primarily in an elevator. A group of five strangers are going about their day when they are stuck in a broken down elevator. While waiting for a maintenance team, things starts to go awry as their secrets seemingly are forced out by a darker force greater than themselves. Written by M. Night Shyamalan, you can only expect twists and turns in this intense, condensed story.
On the topic of seemingly cursed mundane things, the double feature I pair with this film is Oculus. You can read more on Oculus in my rundown of Mike Flanagan works. Since it has to do with a tall building, I’m going to keep up with the wordplay and pair a Manhattan with this film (you can find the virgin variation here). Since the cocktail is an elegant, class it up with Fig, Goat Cheese, & Caramelized Onion Flatbread or dress it down with some Homemade Popcorn Chicken, preferably dipped in something smoky and spicy.
October 4th: The Thing
While I usually throw this one on in November due to its snowy setting, this never fails to give me a good scare. Taking place in the seemingly barren Antarctica, a group or American researchers are disturbed by a seemingly helicopter attack. They take in a sled dog that was seemingly running away from the attack, unknowingly inviting in the very thing that will manipulate and try to pick them off one by one. It’s a story that leans on the paranoia both of the characters and the viewer, and it is a Carpenter classic. It also features amazing special effects in regards to the practical medium.
This film always makes me feel extremely cold, so warm up with a Hot Buttered Rum or a Buttered Not Rum Mocktail. Keep the cozy up with some Salted Caramel Popcorn. Leaning on the sweets helps with the paranoid feeling, but if you want to keep the creeps up, throw on 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Good luck not side eyeing your movie buddies due to the heightened paranoia in the room.
October 5th: The Fog
We are sticking with John Carpenter the next day (sorry not sorry) and going to two years back to The Fog. Bodega Bay is a seemingly ordinary town, but it has its ghost stories. All normalcy disappears as a fog rolls into the bay, causing a sequence of terrifying events to the residents of this coastal town. Carpenter is known for his suspenseful horror, and this film delivers that with a mildly violent touch. It’s one of the unsung heroes in Carpenter’s discography, and deserves more recognition. Also, avoid the remake at all costs, it’s god awful.
With a name like Bodega Bay, you almost would want a drink from a bodega boy. Therefore, I’m pairing a Bay Breeze cocktail with this movie (here’s a Hurricane Mocktail as a yummy alternative). As far as keeping the creeps up at sea, my double feature pairing for this film is Below, as the scares continue under the water rather than on the shore.
October 6th: What we do in the shadows
Now, it can’t be all horrifying. I may be depraved, but I definitely still like to laugh. Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows is a brilliant mockumentary, not absent of gore and some mild jumpscares. Follow Viago, Deacon and Vladislav as they room together in New Zealand and have to take a rather annoying new vampire under their wings (bat wings, of course). This film has spun off into a very successful TV show on FX, but nothing quite beats the original troop as the chemistry between long time friends Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi carry this film to hilarious heights.
With this film, you got to have ‘pasketti, or try it in bite size forms such as these Easy Spaghetti and Meatball Appetizers. And due to Vladislav being deadly but delicious, steal a Vampire’s Kiss cocktail while you’re at it. Or if you’re in the more wholesome mood like Viago, go for the Vampire Margarita Mocktail. To keep on delightful vampire tales, the obvious double feature to this is Fright Night, which while I prefer the original, the remake is not bad at all and has amazing performances, including one from the late Anton Yelchin.
October 7th: Hush
Alright, time to crank it up again. Yes, this is anotherMike Flanagan film. Yes, I adore his work and will not shut up about him. Hush is an intense modern slasher full of creative moves and smart writing, Our final girl here is deaf and mute, and while the killer tries to use that to his best advantage, she is able to stay right on top of him due to her quick thinking and creative counterattacks. It’s an intense game of bloodsplattered chess that will keep you on the edge of your seat for its entire runtime. It also doesn’t wear off in rewatches, so if you’re thinking of skipping this one because you already saw it, think again and have some fun.
The double feature that comes to mind that can take the mind of depravity but amps up the gore is Ready or Not, another brilliant cat-and-mouse game with ridiculousness sprinkled in there. Since both of these films feature spicy and smart heroines, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers seem to be the move in this blood fest. Pair that greasy grub with the Best Ever Bloody Mary Recipe (remove the vodka for a mocktail, spicy tomato juice can really hit the spot) and you got yourselves a bloodbath.
Until Next time on 31 Days of horror…
There you have it, the first seven days filled with tasty treats, delectable drinks and a multitude of films. Join us next Friday on The Void of Celluloid as we delve into the next seven films. In the meantime, the Mother of the Void (mi madre) posted earlier this week on the wild film The Black Cat and will have a new post this Wednesday for the film Cat People, a wild film with amazing, poignant subtext. You can find that here on The Void of Celluloid. Happy Spooky Season and thanks for spelunking this void with me.
It’s now September, therefore I declare that spooky season begins now, for all of our sanities. As an author of a horror blog, I am always in the mood for a scary movie. However, sometimes it’s hard to convince the viewing party to join the fanatical ways. Therefore, I took the time this week to conjure up a loose fitted plan to ease even the biggest scaredy cat into spooky season.
This will be the first installment, and while there isn’t necessarily horror forward movies on the September catalogue, there are plenty of good romps on here. This plan starts now, as Halloween candy and pumpkin spice are already making strides into a part of our regular diet for the next few months, so what are we waiting for? Let’s begin this journey and explore other genres’ takes on the spooky season.
The First Half of September: Easing In
Most of the films listed in this first half could easily be in the final week of October. I prefer to ramp up the scares then, so I put a lot of comfort in this first half. As the sunshine drifts away and seasonal depression might start to sink in for some, nothing is more comforting that goofy, sometimes heartfelt movies. I’m talking 1990s and early 00s cheesefest kind of movies. That is not a derogatory sense, as I love all of these movies myself. The movies also listed here can be good replacements for October films if you either A) have little ones to be cautious of or B) don’t like to get scared.
Practical Magic, BeetleJuice and Ghostbusters
Topping my list is actually not a horror movie, but rather a movie about family, magic and of course midnight margaritas: Practical Magic. This movie has always been a staple for my mom and I during fall time, so not only does it bring fuzzy feelings, but also a boat load of nostalgia. It also includes many familiar faces, with the two main stars being Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Check it out if you haven’t, it probably is my favorite film about witches (see below for hot take about Hocus Pocus, I’m sorry).
This is also where Beetlejuice goes for me surprisingly. I usually get to this movie later in the season despite me placing it here, but this movie fits in with the semi-lighthearted, cheesy vibe, even though it is a magnificent film. I haven’t ran into many people that hasn’t heard this story before, especially with the recent surge in popularity of its Broadway counterpart, but if you haven’t seen it, I have a few questions. First, what are you doing still reading this? Second, why aren’t you watching it right now?
With the new sequel coming out in November, it is impossible not putting Ghostbusters on this list. This movie was a childhood staple for me, and my favorite character isn’t even pictured here and that is Rick Moranis’ character, Louis. This is forever a classic, and a good light felt romp fit for younger kids when you’re looking for some Halloween classics.
Hocus Pocus and Others: Family Friendly (Except One)
Okay, okay, yes. A large chunk of the population watches this on Halloween, and I get that. But most years, I don’t even watch Hocus Pocus. It isn’t one of those comfort movies for me, even though it can be enjoyable, but–in the most hipster way possible–I kind think it’s overrated. I’m not alone in this opinion either, check out this piece from Sarah El-Mahmoud: Who Decided Hocus Pocus Was A Great Movie?Other than the three witches, every character annoys me and if the film just consisted of Winifred and the gang causing chaos rather than the weird plot they forget about half the time, I would probably like it more and consider it part of my ritual. It’s a staple for most however, so no judgement if this is in your regular spooky regimen.
Below is a gallery of other films that I like to partake in/think fit this tone. Most are kidfriendly but they are fun films nonetheless.
The Second Half of September: Dancing Through Life
The leaves actually start changing, the equinox comes and there is fall euphoria in the air. It feels like you could burst out into song any moment. So why don’t you? There are plenty of spooky musicals out there. Most are cult classics at this point, while others might have been revisited since childhood.
The Rocky horror Picture Show & Little Shop Of Horrors
There is an obvious crowning jewel to this subgenre, which is most enjoyed at midnight in your local theater. If you aren’t giving yourself over to absolute pleasure, a couple viewings of this masterpiece will have you doing so whilst scantily clad and throwing toast at the screen. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has quite a legacy, and what kept alive is fans and notoriety. Most people have seen this film, and I haven’t met anyone who has absolutely hated it. Even musical haters have a soft spot for this film. It is truly a transcendent cultural icon, and should be indulged every spooky season, every year for how many times that you wish to watch it (I average about four times a year, it’s a deep comfort of mine). Also, yes, this gif embodies probably my favorite Frank-N-Furter moment.
Another comfort film of mine is a bit more hush hush than the previous, but a cult classic nonetheless. Little Shop of Horrors features a great array of actors and one of the most impressive uses of practical effects and puppetry. All the songs are bops and will get stuck in your head, so much so that they may sound familiar. You’d be right, as the writers are the same people that did the music for Disney’s 90s Renaissance. “Somewhere That’s Green” is the same exact tune as “Part of Your World,” meaning it isn’t plagiarism if you steal from yourself. and the characters are likeable, even when they are doing terrible things. There’s also a weird but hilarious S&M scene between Steve Martin and Bill Murray that is not one to miss.
Claymation Classics: Thanks, Laika
Stepping into the spotlight is Laika Studios, who is responsible for most of the claymation films we see today. Not all of these are musicals, but a lot have musical elements and are perfect for spooky season. The two I want to feature are Corpse Bride and Coraline. Yes, The Nightmare Before Christmas should be a feature here too, but I do consider that film a November film in between seasons. Corpse Bride features beautiful music from Danny Elfman and adopts Tim Burton’s usual style. Coraline revolutionized claymation and pushed the limits on what is advertised as a children’s film or not. Both are spooky and perfect for pushing the limits on older kids looking for a mild scare. If they love them, congrats, you’re raising a future horror fanatic.
Honorable Mentions for A Playful End to September
Below is a gallery of other films to consider as we ramp up to October. Yes, we embrace the Bowie Bulge here.
I warned there was not a lot of horror on this list, and while I believe every time is horror time, this is a guide for everybody. Some people don’t like the spooks, and sometimes needs coaxing to be down to watch the scarier movies. That’s completely okay! However, if you’re depraved like me and are ready for the scares, stay tuned, as October 1st comes 31 Days of Horror, a calendar strictly for horror fans and those ready to be scared this October. Don’t forget to sign up for email notifications and I’m excited to embark with you all on The Void of Celluloid’s first spooky season. Now to feast on copious amounts of pumpkin bread.