31 Days of Horror ’22: Week Two

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We’re back this week with the next seven movies in this year’s 31 Days of Horror. This is the second iteration of the 31 Days of Horror; you can find the one chock full of classics here. As for this year, we have classics, newbies and deeper cuts peppered in here and there. You can check out the first week here if you see a movie you missed on the calendar below.

There will be two more posts after this one: Week 3 and The Final Ten Days. Now that that’s established, let’s go ahead with days 8-14.

October 8th: The Funhouse (1981)

The Funhouse (1981) [31 Days of Gore] – The Goug' Blog

There is something cheesy and fun about this next film. The Funhouse from Tobe Hooper has quite a cult following and holds up as a creepy, odd film from the 80s. This is the film that put Hooper more prominently on Spielberg’s radar for Poltergeist, so you know it has to be good. Creepy clown like figures, terrifying animatronics and one helluva monster makes this a romp that one won’t forget. This definitely a sleeper hit from the slasher surge.

Of course, we have to lean in on the circus theme. Clowns always scare me, so I had to have my liquid courage based around the freaky guys. Therefore, go with the Clown Car Cocktail or if you are brave enough, go with the non-alcoholic Cranberry Clown Mocktail. Now, everyone loves a good snack mix. This one is on theme and does contain some polarizing things, so make adjustments as necessary. This Circus Snack Mix has the cherished (or dreaded) Circus Peanuts and other fun bits and bobs. In order to make this an epic double feature, pair this film with the wacky Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Rent The Funhouse here on Amazon Video or own it in its newly 4K remastered version here. I made a design for this one as well featuring the creature itself, which you can check out here on Redbubble.

October 9th: Hereditary (2018)

Review: In 'Hereditary,' the Horror Is Slow-Cooked and Homemade - The New  York Times

Yes, this movie. It’s a slow burn, but good god does it pay off. I am an Ari Aster fan here and have rewatched both this and Midsommar multiple times whenever I’m in a mood to get disturbed. Hereditary is an intense film that deals with possession in multiple versions. That’s about all I can say without giving anything away, because if you haven’t seen this film, it will impact you the best if you go in blind. It’s a slow burn but stick with it as the last 15 minutes are some of the most intense minutes in film history.

For this one, I have an interesting cocktail that is directly inspired by the film: the Hail Paimon Cocktail. If the mixture of pomegranate and peanut butter into a shooter doesn’t sound like your style, maybe just stick with the peanut butter with this non-alcoholic Peanut Butter Milkshake that you COULD make alcoholic by adding a bit of Skrewball. Now, to honor Charlie, make these Homemade Devil Cremes and make sure NOT to put nuts in them.

You can rent Hereditary on Amazon Video and you need to add it to your physical collection ASAP if you want some brownie points with the cool indie kids. Buy it here. As for the design? I leaned way more on the inside joke side as it is a heavy supplied topic on Redbubble–check it out here.

October 10th: Green Room (2015)

Green Room (2015) - IMDb

This film is fantastic and seems to be forgotten. Brutal as can be, Green Room leans more like a thriller than a horror if you subtract the gore and violence. A punk band have a gig at a bar in the middle-of-nowhere Oregon (my state!). Little did they realize that the bar is a Neo-Nazi bar and the band they’re opening for falls swiftly in that genre as well. Deciding to take the gig anyways–to quote Stephen Stills, “a gig is a gig is a gig is a gig,”–they end up having to fight for their lives as the crowd is deadly. It’s an intense one as well as another A24 film.

For the food, we have to go hardcore punk in solidarity for this poor band. Therefore, I’ve gone with the strong but tasty Ankle Breaker Cocktail. Not into the booze? That’s alright, you can still be punk rock with this Molotov Mocktail. To echo the wish of them playing at a normal dive bar rather than this hellhole, we paired it all with these White Castle Copycats–a crowd-pleaser and made to accompany alcohol. Now for this double feature, I’m going a little lighter as I want to honor the late Anton Yelchin that delivers in this role and going with Odd Thomas–a cute but creepy flick.

Rent Green Room on Amazon Video or add it to your now growing A24 physical collection here. I also designed a very simple but very reliable design for this one. Check it out here on Redbubble.

October 11th: Ganja and Hess (1973)

BLACK HISTORY MONTH – GANJA & HESS — Beyond The Void Horror Podcast

Ganja and Hess came to my attention with the release of Clipping’s album There Existed an Addiction to Blood and I’ve been hooked ever since. This film is one of the most famous blaxploitation horror films out there and was released a year after Blacula. Dr. Hess Green gets stabbed with an ancient dagger by his unstable assistant and becomes a vampire. After the assistant goes missing, his wife Ganja Meda goes looking for him and falls in love with Dr. Green–who turns her into a vampire as well. It is a fascinating film with beautiful imagery and luscious symbolism. It was also remade by Spike Lee as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, but due to critical reception, you’re better off sticking with the classic.

Want a bloodthirst just as mighty as our vampire lovers? Check out this macabre Vampire Vodka with a Syringe of ‘Blood’ which has a fun interactive element that will win over guests in a heartbeat. If you don’t need the heat of alcohol with your blood, try out this Raspberry Mojito Mocktail with the syringe instead. In order to continue your feast of blood, try out this sweet and salty Bloody Popcorn. For a double feature, you’re going to want more Duane Jones in your life. Therefore, pair this with the original Night of the Living Dead.

You can rent Ganja and Hess on Amazon Video or have it adorned on your entertainment center by purchasing it here. Listen to Clipping’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood to get into the spooky mood with some experimental noise rap that has killer bars. I did do a design for this film as well, can’t stop, won’t stop.

October 12th: Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Horror

I know a lot of people who have a soft spot for this film, myself included. Jennifer’s Body is a good time. Filled to the brim with cringy noughties’ humor and a film that has earned some respect among the LGBTQ+ community, it has aged quite well in a modern scope–as long as you don’t take it too seriously. Jennifer comes back from a sacrifice gone wrong and seeks revenge to those who have done her dirty–men primarily. It’s a romp that needs to be revisited if you didn’t like it the first go around.

If Jennifer can, you too can go both ways with Cheese + Chocolate Fondue. In terms of drinks, I had to find the iconic and morbidly named 9/11 Tribute Shooter in which they drink pre sacrifice, so make sure you have one before and after she turns (or as many as you want you wild animal you). I also found a virgin version, but make sure it’s a virgin beforehand. My double feature pick for this film is Ginger Snaps to go back-to-back with sultry, violent femmes.

You can rent Jennifer’s Body here on Amazon Video or add it to your (now-growing, yes?) physical collection here. Check out the design I made on Redbubble for this one.

October 13th: The Birds (1963)

Horror

This film is responsible for most peoples’ irrational fears of birds. One of Hitchcock’s tried and true classics adapted from a Daphne Du Maurier novella. It focuses on Melanie and her small town as they try and survive once the avian species in the area turn murderous. With iconic shots and terrifying tension, don’t sleep on The Birds as it is one of the best horror films of all time. One thing I will mention with this film is to watch it with consideration of what Hitchcock did to Tippi Hedren, more of which you can read about in my article all about Hitchcock.

I had to keep with the ‘bird’ theme when choosing these drinks. Therefore, I went with a Kentucky Bird, which is a variation of the classic tiki cocktail, the “Jungle Bird.” Due to it being a booze forward drink, my mocktail consists of one of the ingredients–pineapple juice. Therefore, indulge in this Pineapple Mocktail if you’re not into the strong stuff. In regards of food, I kept it very retro chic and looked for recipes around the 1960s. There, I came across one of my favorite snacky recipes: Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes. It’s delicious and bite sized that you’ll think you’re eating like a bird.

Rent The Birds on Amazon Video or flex your classic horror movie muscles by having it adorn your shelf, which you can get here. I made a very chic, very classic design for this film on Redbubble.

October 14th: Don’t Look Now (1973)

Horror

Speaking of Daphne Du Maurier, this film is a must watch if you haven’t seen it yet. A surreal horror nightmare, Don’t Look Now addresses some of the bleakest topics there is out there. Not only that, but it is also a visual masterpiece. Starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, Don’t Look Now reigns as a surreal psychological thriller that stood the test of time gracefully. There’s not much more I can say as going into this film with little information has a huge payoff.

This film will pair nicely with a Little Red Jacket Cocktail, both in feeling and in the literal sense of the red jacket seen several times in the film. As that cocktail contains Jägermeister, I wanted to see if there could be a mocktail that has same spiced taste. Considering Jaeger has 56 herbs and spices, I had to narrow it down to a delicious tasting mocktail that has no name relation to the content of the film: Don’s Virgin Sacrifice. Now, we’re ending the week fairly classic, so why not take it to the 70s with this Classic Cheeseball, perfect for spreading and stress eating the dread away.

You can rent Don’t Look Now on Amazon Video or own it physically by following the link here. Due to the film’s harrowing subject matter, I mashed up two films for the design to poke fun at a trope rather than referencing the movie itself. Check that design out here.

Coming Up Next

So, there’s the second week of the 31 Days of Horror here on The Void of Celluloid. Hopefully this spawned some ideas on what to make for any upcoming Halloween celebrations. For those that like to go hard and celebrate every day like me, go for it–I have given you the tools. We had Week 1, coming up next is Week 3 and The Final Ten Days which will be linked respectively once published.

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, horror filled tomorrow. See ya next time.

The Art of the Creative Kill

A shared experience for every horror fan is sitting in the theater for a new horror film that they already know how it’s going to end. Whether it be too much advertisement or the writer’s pitfalls, it can be a semi-disappointing viewing experience. The viewer doesn’t necessarily want a M. Night Shyamalan sized twist at the end to prove themselves wrong–they don’t really care if they’re right–but they would definitely appreciate some spice to keep the experience enjoyable. There is one technique that can be a saving grace for a horror film: creative kills.

Creative Kills

Horror will remain one of the more creative genres on the film spectrum. However, there is monotony that future creators are trying to dodge when releasing a new film out into the world. One of the genres that faces the most monotony is the slasher genre. With its never-ending sequels and reboots, it seems like all the kills of characters that you care less with each film never hit quite as hard as watching the original. Even A Nightmare on Elm Street with its dream realm lost its spark as the sequels seemed to go on and on, despite its open availability to do something new and out there.

Creative kills are a thing that horror creators do to engage its audience. It surprises them in moments rather than the whole plot. Sometimes it works better than trying to add a twist that people end up anticipating in the first place. I can save a film too. If a viewer remembers a certain death, even if they didn’t enjoy the film as a whole, that could be considered a win.

Warning: Spoilers past this point


The First Viewing

The horror films we see nowadays are rarely original. Most trace back to an origin film, with most of the films from the 60s, 70s and 80s serving as influence on modern horror creators. This was a special time period for horror. The monster movie was going out and the genre was starting to branch out into different subgenres. The groundwork for creative kills rests in the original slashers, as they were the first to take the plunge into the grisly. Their reign in conjunction with rental movie shops that dominated in those decades allowed for these gruesome yet unique scenes to spread to televisions across America.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Creative Kills

We start from the beginning with of the 70s-80s slasher reign with Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While there are a variety of weapons in the film, none of them sound more terrifying than the chainsaw. Despite its low budget, there is plenty of clever camerawork in this film. This expressed the gruesome nature of the kills, tarnishing the chainsaw forever. It’s rare to find a haunted house that doesn’t utilize one without its chain for its terrifying sound. Personally, a man wielding one of these chased me out of a haunt with one. I don’t scare super easy, but I did minorly fear what would’ve happened to me had he caught up.

Halloween

Creative Kills

Up next is John Carpenter’s masterpiece, Halloween. While there are plenty of groundbreaking, iconic kills, the one topping the list is Michael Myers playing pin-the-Bob-to-the-pantry. The impact of the scene is not necessarily the kill in action–though it is effective–but rather Michael Myers stepping back and observing his kill, tilting his head and brainstorming his next move. This leads to the iconic bedsheet ghost with glasses. John Carpenter is no stranger to creativity in his horror and his kills. This shows especially in his follow up film The Fog and even more as he approaches the sci-fi horror genre in 1982 with his take on The Thing.

Friday The 13th

Creative Kills

Going chronologically, the next in line is Friday the 13th, which kickstarted the trope of “you have sex, you die.” The death that sticks is both creative and one of the only familiar faces in the film. Poor Kevin Bacon’s character Jack is trying to enjoy a nice cigarette. Moments later, he gets a hand around the head and an arrow through the throat. The use of close up practical effects in this kill distinguishes it from the previous pair of film mentioned, as it is a death seen up close rather than imagined due to shadows or camera placement. This pushed the boundary of gore on screen, which was turned up to eleven in 1984.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Creative Kills

A Nightmare on Elm Street is the foundation for out there creative kills. It takes place primarily in a dream state. This allowed for Wes Craven to push the supernatural boundaries on this classic slasher. It is also has the impact of familiar face meets gruesome end as it stars a babyfaced Johnny Depp. While watching Tina pinned and slashed on the ceiling is truly frightening and impactful as a first kill, it is Glen’s bed eating him and projectile vomiting him out in a geyser of blood. The excessive gore and false security that both the viewer and Glen feels makes the death impactful and very memorable. Wes Craven is no stranger to making the viewer care for the characters, which can also be seen in the Scream franchise. This only makes his creative kills even more useful and impactful.

BREAKING THE VIEWER’s TRUST

While a horror fan knows not to get too close to any characters in their favorite horror series, it happens anyways. They want the best for these characters ultimately. When it comes down to their brutal death, there is a powerful emotion that comes with it. Sometimes they don’t see it coming. Most of the time they do see it coming and convince themselves that the writers simply wouldn’t do that. This is what makes this technique the cruelest of the creative kills.

Fear Street: 1994

Creative Kills

These attachments are usually side characters that shine just as bright as the main character. A main example in recent times is Kate in Fear Street: 1994, which is one of the most unfair and creative deaths I’ve seen in the recent years. Kate is lovable. She and her best friend Simon have some hilarious, if chaotic, moments together that just makes the audience care and love them more.

As the film arrives at the final grocery store showdown and the Skull Face Killer locks her in a chokehold, the film convinces the viewers she isn’t going to die. She had escaped death too many times to count prior in the movie, she has to get out of this. He slams her down on the table and her head slides closer and closer to that bread slicer. The film convinces the viewers once more someone will save her since this team is always looking out for each other, and her screaming her head off has to attract one of them to help her. All that hope shatters into pieces as the audience gets a close up shot of her head becoming shredded by this once ordinary, now malicious machine.

The predictability comes back the moment afterwards, with Simon’s death seeming inevitable, but it was that brief moment that will actually stick with you. Not only because the writers killed off beloved Kate, but also the shocking visuals and the manner of her death.

Scream 2

Creative Kills

Another way to shock the audience is killing off what seems like a quintessential-to-the-plot character. In recent years, the fake-out death of Marty in The Cabin in the Woods is an example of this kind of kill. He was high as a kite the entirety of the film, but he was the one–other than the main protagonist– not affected by the mental curveballs thrown by the company running the show. The one that has stuck with many horror fans however was the killing of Randy in Scream 2.

Lovable, adorkable Randy who was an easy target in the first film but delivered very necessary information on the tropes of a horror film that saved a lot of his friends’ asses. He, like us watching a horror film, knew what pleasant predictability felt like; the first Scream is chock full of pleasant predictability with its main but effective curve being there was a second killer and it was Stu. With its equally enjoyable sequel, we think we are just as self aware as Randy. Therefore, we together are not susceptible to the killer’s tricks.

All of those comforting feelings go out the window, or rather into the back of the van when Ghostface murders Randy in broad daylight with Gale and Dewey so close by. Upon each viewing, the kill is just as devastating as it is the first time. A die-hard horror fan relates the most to this character, and his death dismisses the belief that his knowledge and self awareness alone could keep him alive for another round.

Sometimes horror creators are too trigger happy with killing off characters. While this is sometimes done in a “they were all doomed anyways” kind of sense, sometimes they take it way too far.

The extreme: Torture porn versus arthouse

There are two genres that have the same level of brutality most of the time. They differ so heavily from each other. The genres are arthouse horror and a genre lovingly known as torture porn. Both feature disturbing images and scarring scenes, but a film that completely relies on tolerance to gore doesn’t mean its the most creative. The best horror movies are ones that non-horror fans can watch, in my opinion. It doesn’t mean that they won’t come out unscathed– some of the mentions on this list are disturbing–but it’s not watching people die in bloody, gruesome ways back to back.

Torture Horror

These types of films have their fanbases, and I am not invalidating their feelings towards these films. In regards to their accessibility , their grisly goriness earns them their praise rather than storyline. This does not mean that the kills in these films aren’t creative, they are overly creative. However, they lose their impact by having so many creative kills back to back. It allows a new kind of unpredictability that creates excitement for what bizarre thing will come next , which amps up fans of torture porn. This allows for some creative error, because while a lot of these films continue to have out of the box moments, the excitement with each sequel dims and dims as each sequel falls short.

An example of this last year is Spiral, the Saw reboot. While this film was sadly hindered due to movie theater closures due to COVID, there was an overall complaint about seeing things that have already been done before in the franchise. In a series full of traps that are made of the masses’ worst nightmares, it a risk to make so many movies which ultimately turn away a general crowd due to its brutality and turn away its cult following due to running out of ideas. You can see this same progression in many of Eli Roth and Rob Zombie films too, meaning that going to the extreme all the time can burn out the creative spark that make this gory flicks tick.

Arthouse Horror

Another genre of film that can be hit or miss but can teach the torture porn genre a thing or two about how frequently to use creative kills is the arthouse horror genre. The obvious recent examples are films such as Hereditary, Midsommar and The House That Jack Built. These films can exhibit as equally creative and disturbing scenes as the torture porn films, but these films use a one-and-done method. They’re films where it is okay if they’re not watched again, since they can be deeply disturbing, even for the most desensitized horror fan, but there is no hinderance in watching it again, as most of the time there is opportunity to understand and see more than one saw in the first viewing.

Comparison

While most arthouse horror have things that are odd and out of the usual, it is usually in a slow burn format rather than the fast paced timing of torture porn movies, which allows for a break from the gore but also creates a foundation of dread to build upon during the film’s usually longer runtime. Much like the grisly films mentioned above, these films are not everybody’s cup of tea, but they are the films that are shaping the horror scene. More mainstream films follow the influence of arthouse horror, which includes the films from recent horror powerhouse Jordan Peele, who utilizes disturbing images and creative kills to his benefit in both of his films Get Out and Us–specifically the use of the giant scissors as well as the deerhead stabbing.

Overall, both of these genres have changed what modern horror fans are looking for in horror films. Whether it be an out-there arthouse film or a grisly never-ending death hour, both genres hold heavy influence over the modern day horror film, with viewers seeking out more and more creativity in the standard mainstream horror films that come out year after year.


Conclusion

It is undeniable that the use of creative kills defines what the horror genre. It also separates it from the similar thriller genre. When used correctly, an out-of-the-box kill can shake things up for a seemingly predictable movie. This can be used to the enjoyment of the general viewer and the horror fan, even if it involves some broken hearts along the way (I’m still not over Randy’s death). However, when used too often, it can alienate both the casual horror viewer as well as its cult follower. Nonetheless, it is an essential technique that is used by the best horror filmmakers out there and is a one stop shop to make a horror film memorable.