31 Days of Horror: The Final Countdown

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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 third 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, the second week here and the third week here if you see a movie you missed on the calendar below.

Now let’s finish this thing with the final ten days of October–eh hem, I mean horror.

October 22nd: Alice Sweet Alice (1976)

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) | MUBI

Whether you have seen this film or not, one can agree that this film has one of the creepiest masks of all time. Alice Sweet Alice is an underrated gem that tackles head on Catholic thought and the effect of sin–not to mention it’s a great slasher film as well. On the day of her first communion, sweet Karen is strangled to death and a string of murders break out with her jealous sister Alice as a suspect. From then on, a strange timeline of events occurs. Inspired by Don’t Look Now and Hitchcock, Alice Sweet Alice has plenty of twists and turns throughout its runtime while being surreal to the eye at the same time.

For food, I did a lot of digging as to what is served at a first communion and such. Turns out, ham is one of the top things, so let’s make it ultra-tasty with these Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders that keep things handheld and also incorporated the bread aspect of communion. Next comes the wine, and while you can sip on a nice glass of red wine during this film, jazz things up a bit with this red wine cocktail the 1870 Sour. If you still want some grape juice but the non-boozy kind, craft up this Grape Lime Rickey Mocktail. For a double feature for this film, why not try some more Argento with Deep Red?

Add Alice Sweet Alice to your physical collection or you can rent it on Amazon Video. Check out this creepy baby doll sticker here on Redbubble.

October 23rd: The VVitch (2015)

Robert Eggers on The Witch - Projected Figures

Before The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers created one of the most iconic horror films from the 21st century. The VVitch is a beautiful film as much as it is a suspenseful one. Arthouse horror meets a colonial period piece, in which the eldest sister in a Puritan family is blamed for the youngest sibling’s disappearance. Hysteria breaks out amongst the family, and it leads to dire consequences as their greatest fears manifest once spoken. This one is a slow burn, but the ending rewards us with a great payoff. You also will never fear a goat more.

This film caused me to deep dive into colonial times and try to find recipes. While majority were either basic or disgusting, I dug out a few that will help us live deliciously. First off, party like a revolutionary with this Philadelphia Fish House Punch. If this doesn’t tickle your taste buds, try out something new and follow this Mom’s Homemade Apple Cider to make some cider for this film and beyond. I went for something sweet and crowd pleasing with these Colonial American Molasses Cookies–because who can resist cookies?

You can rent The Witch on Amazon Video or have it as an arthouse gem on your shelf by purchasing it here. You can also check out the design I made around this film on Redbubble.

October 24th: A Classic Horror Story (2021)

Watch A Classic Horror Story | Netflix Official Site

If you would’ve told me a decade ago that Netflix would release its own Giallo-style film, I wouldn’t have believed you. However, they gave us A Classic Horror Story in 2021. A fusion of genres and a wicked good time, A Classic Horror Story is a must watch if you’re in the mood for something more brutal. Strangers getting stranded in the woods as they fight for survival–a very basic premise that we’ve seen time and time again. However, we’re in Southern Italy this time. There’s not much more I can say, it is full of tropes and homages that it will feel familiar and new at the same time. The perfect kind of watch for spooky season.

I got way too into the Italy setting for this film which has led to some of the tastiest pairs yet. For our snacks, we had to get some variety up in here. Therefore, follow this Crostini 8 Ways recipe and have a display of colors. Pair it with a refreshing Limoncello Lemon Drop or if you want to relax the zero-proof way, try out this Italian Strawberry Basil Shrub–shrubs are the best. As for a double feature, go ahead and check out Haunt to see tropes subverted in a different way. It’s gonna be a spooky night!

Check out A Classic Horror Story on Netflix. You can check out my very simple-but-cool design on Redbubble.

October 25th: Train to Busan (2016)

Train to Busan (2016) - IMDb

Ready to watch one of the best zombie flicks of all time? Train to Busan is a harrowing, intense and beautiful experience that took the world by storm eight years ago. South Korea has been attacked by a viral outbreak and have established a Safe Zone in Busan. When passengers try to take a bullet train to this safe zone, an outbreak occurs on the train itself, leaving them trapped in a dire situation. This film will grab onto you and not let go during its runtime–probably cause a few tears to shed as well.

From Italy to South Korea, we have a complete change of culinary scene. For the drink, I found this Makgeolli Old Fashioned which can add a nice bitterness to the semi-sweet rice wine. If we are looking for something a bit sweeter and fall-like on the booze area, look for Kuk Soon Dang’s Babamba (Chestnut) or Jolly Pong makgeollis in your local Asian grocery store. Pick up Milkis Drinks while you’re there or order them off Amazon–they’re a great non-alcoholic choice for viewing. As for the snack, I was recently introduced to Korean Cheesy Corn and it is simple but game changing. Try it out immediately. For the double feature, I have to recommend another stellar South Korean horror, The Wailing–just make sure that you hydrate properly as I’ve sent you on a pathway of tears and sadness.

You can rent Train to Busan on Amazon Video or have it proudly on display on your shelf by buying it physically here. I designed a spoiler free design on Redbubble.

October 26th: Werewolves Within (2021)

Werewolves Within' Review: Small-Town Chaos - The New York Times

Usually, I am not one for video game adaptations, but this one truly is a treat. This film was one of my favorite releases during the pandemic and is worth a regular spot in your Halloween rotation. A newly hired forest ranger and postal worker get snowed in with the residents of a small town who are being terrorized and attacked by a vicious beast–a presumed werewolf to be specific. It’s a romp with a touch of whodunit that is simply irresistible. It also might have you side eyeing your neighbors if you happen to live in a town with a similar vibe as this one.

This film does take place in a snow-covered winter horror land, so it’s not just you that’s feeling cold. Warm up with these tasty hot drinks. While I am not the hugest hot toddy fan, this Fire Cider Toddy sounded oh-so-intriguing. If we’re not fancying that, opt out for a Hot Buttered Pineapple Mocktail which can easily be made boozy with a touch of rum. As for food, it seems like every small town has a bar that has surprisingly good food. Therefore, let’s class the pub fare with these Gooey Manchego Cheese Fritters. I want these at every bar ever.

You can rent Werewolves Within on Amazon Video or share it with your friends with a Blu-Ray they may never return by purchasing it here. I did a fun little design for this one which you can check out on Redbubble.

October 27th: The Black Phone (2022)

The Black Phone' Review: The Dead Have Your Number - The New York Times

I’m sure this has been on your radar this year. This was a killer psychological horror-thriller that brought us spooky season three months early. Ethan Hawke kills it (and others) in this film, solidifying that him and Scott Derrickson equals gold. The Black Phone is a slow, vintage feeling burn that has outstanding performances with a brief look into a psyche of a serial killer. You can read my in-depth post over this movie here if you want more details, but I think it’s best to go into this film not knowing what to expect.

We’re in the seventies, baby. They year is 1978, and disco has taken the world by storm. Therefore, we have to celebrate the birth of the Harvey Wallbanger, a blend of OJ and Galliano to make a creamsicle goodie. If you’re wanting even more of a throwback, you can opt out of the alcohol and make an American classic: an Orange Julius. On top of everything, everything ‘Hawaii’ (more Hawaiian pizza rather than actual Hawaii) was popular during this time. So, go retro with your snack choice with this Hawaiian Cheese Bread. The double feature for this one is another Derrickson/Hawke collab, Sinister.

You can rent The Black Phone on Amazon Video or shelve it next to your other horror films using this link. I think this design made itself.

October 28th: The Lost Boys (1987)

The Lost Boys' Coming Back to the Big Screen With New Movie Starring 'Quiet  Place' and 'It' Actors! - Bloody Disgusting

SAY HELLO TO THE NIGHT. LOST IN THE SHAAAADOWS. This incredible movie and its soundtrack turn 35 this year. This definitely is my favorite vampire flick and is a must watch–Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz and Jason Patric are snacks in this film. A single mom moves to Santa Carla, California with her two sons. The town happens to be the murder capital of the world with plenty of people missing or dead. The reason? All the damn vampires. It’s a fun time with a sexy shirtless sax man. Who could ask for more?

The Lost Boys reminds of two things: Chinese food and California. What’s the fusion of those two things? Obviously, the Cheesecake Factory classic, Avocado Egg Rolls. They’re big enough to not think you’re eating worms or maggots. Pair that with an on-theme cocktail appropriately named The Bloody Vampire. You don’t need to bite into a bald man’s head to get that kind of blood. If you prefer no spice in your blood, cut the alcohol and indulge in the Vampire’s Kiss Mocktail. The double feature for this one is so cool, Brewster. Indulge in the original Fright Night to add to the 80s flair or go for the remake for a fun modern twist.

You can rent The Lost Boys on Amazon Video or buy it on Amazon so you can look at the sexy vampires any time you want to. Have your own carton of maggots with this design on Redbubble.

October 29th: Trick ‘r’ Treat

In Praise of Trick 'r Treat, the Ultimate "Halloween Night" Movie - Paste

This. This film is the ideal Halloween movie and I stand by that. An anthology horror tale meets a comic book tone laced with camp and comedy. All the tales intertwine with each other and blossoms into this fun twist on Halloween traditions. Not to mention, it introduces one of the most adorable horror villains, Sam. All you gotta do is follow the rules to avoid his bloody wrath. Simple enough, but a colorful cast of characters seem to make things a little difficult for Sam to catch up. I could watch this film over and over during October, so therefore it is an annual tradition of mine.

As far as snacks and drinks go, we have to let the Halloween flag fly. I found a spooky cocktail complete with theatrics known as The Witch’s Heart. Purple, spooky and bubbling with delight. If we are craving the sweeter style of life, I also found this lovely Pumpkin Milkshake. Since this film is a grab-bag of spooky delight, snack on this Sweet and Salty Halloween Snack Mix. As far as fun films suited for spooky season go, my double feature for this film is a guilty pleasure for many, and that is the 2001 film Thirteen Ghosts. The ending of this film is very bleh, but Matthew Lillard is a yes in my book.

Rent Trick ‘r’ Treat on Amazon Video or get it physically following the link here. I watched it as a bought Blockbuster exclusive back in the day–the true straight-to-DVD experience. Check out the design I made on Redbubble and always remember to check your candy.

October 30th: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Ouija: Origin of Evil' review

There are times that sequels are miles better than the original. This is one of those times. If you haven’t seen Ouija: Origin of Evil based on the first film, I don’t blame you. Ouija is a very bad movie. However, this film is one of the best PG-13 horrors out there. Leave it to Mike Flanagan to make a great film from the ashes of a failed one. A 1960s period piece meets a possession film sponsored by Hasbro themselves. That’s the most generic I can describe it, but it truly is a spooky treat you should indulge in.

If we’re going back to the 60’s, we’re doing it right. A very popular cocktail got its rise to fame during this decade, and that is the decedent Sidecar. You can obtain a non-alcoholic version by following this Virgin Sidecar recipe. Cheeseballs also rose to fame too, but the grandpappy of cheeseballs will add the spice that will meet what this film brings. That is the classic Pimento Cheese Spread, which is versatile and makes great leftovers. I praise Flanagan at any chance I can get, so the double feature has to be Hush, which is a great, smart slasher film.

Rent Ouija: Origin of Evil on Amazon Video or buy it physically using this link. If you want to mess around with one yourself (you could never convince me to), you can get your own here but be very careful and look into it beforehand. I did another peekaboo design for this one, look closely.

October 31st: Halloween

Halloween' 1978: The Times Finally Reviews a Horror Classic - The New York  Times

You had to see this coming, whether or not you paid attention to the calendar. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a tried and true masterpiece that has served influence for hundreds of horror films, so it is always a good call to re-watch it come Halloween time. What’s not a better time than actual Halloween night? It’s the tale of Michael Myers that feels even fresher than before with its new sequel that came out only a week ago, so the time is better than ever to revisit the original!

The obvious double feature is a quadruple feature with the 2018 Halloween, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends following up the classic (although you can skip the last one if you’d like). This is a night to go all out, but sometimes you want a quieter night in, so let’s pair this up with some Michael Myers Jell-O Shots to add to some booze to your snacks. A mocktail for the night is the Cereal Killer (minus the Cognac) or plus the Cognac if we want another cocktail for the night. To up the comfort and the tasty treats, snack on some adorable Ghost Pizza Bagels. Be sure to toast to Michael all dressed up in his ghost costume.

I went surprisingly cute with this design and recreated him all dressed up. You can rent Halloween on Amazon Video or have it at the ready every Halloween by owning it physically.


Conclusion

So that wraps up this October! Everyone, have a safe and spooky Halloween and watch as many horror movies as you can! I’m going to be taking the holiday weekend off but expect me to be back the Friday after Halloween. Scroll on back up if you want to see about other films that you might have missed or jump back to Week One if you want to see what’s going on with last year’s 31 Days of Horror. It was a great time, thank you for your support and keep things spooky, spelunkers.

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.

31 Days of Horror: The Final Ten Days

So we’ve made it everybody. 31 Days of Horror: The final Ten Days of October are upon us and we are getting spookier by the minute. Let’s finish this spooky season with a bang! If you want to spend a night in the theater, Halloween Kills is out and I personally thought it was quite good. Or later this week, Edgar Wright is taking a slash at the thriller/horror genre with his new flick Last Night in Soho which has already gotten rave reviews, so be sure to check that one out as well. As before, the calendar is down below:

This is the final installment of this series, which has been a fun and exciting journey. I cannot wait for next year’s lineup, but right now, let’s live in the moment. Did you miss the last installments and see a film you’d rather have these final ten days? You can find Week One, Week Two and Week Three by clicking on their respective titles.

October 22nd: An American WereWolf in London

An American Werewolf in London' Movie Facts | Mental Floss

Coming it at number 10 is a classic, An American Werewolf in London. A dark, dark comedy about American tourists, the Moors and beware-ing them (yes, both of them). The film has everything from porno theaters to brilliant special effects, so much so that I’ve been alarmed by the amount of people showing their younger teenagers this movie. I started young in horror films, but my mom didn’t let me watch this one until I was sixteen. I’m grateful for that, however, because I feel like I was prepared for what a weird romp this one is. There isn’t really a short, concise synopsis that won’t give away some major plot points, so if you haven’t seen this masterpiece already, make sure to check it out!

For this film, I have chosen another werewolf flick Werewolves Within. It’s a fun horror comedy with as many twists and turns as this one, therefore I think it keeps the tone-ball rolling. In conjunction with this furball of a night, I suggest pairing the night with the Werewolves of London cocktail (or a sparkling apple cider in a pint glass to give the impression of chilling at the Slaughtered Lamb). Obviously this has to be paired with some traditional English pub food, so these Miniature Shepherd’s Pies are the right choice for some yummy finger food. No Moors nearby (unless you’re in the UK), so you should be able to relax. Just don’t wander foggy fields alone.

October 23rd: You’re Next

You're Next (2011) - IMDb

Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, this typical home invasion movie is not what it seems. You’re Next is in the same ballpark as The Strangers that were showcased earlier this month, but I truly believe it delivers a more impactful punch. Not to mention those animal masks are absolutely terrifying. Who knew a family dinner could go so wrong? The director, Adam Wingard, went on to film shorts for the V/H/S franchise as well as direct the lofty film Godzilla vs. Kong, so why not check out the film that put him on the map?

I’m actually going to start out with a mocktail, since drinking too much around the in-laws is always not the greatest idea. Let’s start off with a blushed Watermelon Mint Cooler that is as red as those poor tablecloths might be (here’s a alcoholic version). As for the food, estranged family dinners scream “easy elegance,” so pull up to the party with these Easy Pesto Tortellini Skewers. As for double features, TVOC’s pick has to be V/H/S, as it matches the tone and features the same director as well as plenty others. Both films are going to be considered classics in the next few years, so might as well get ahead of the pack.

OCtober 24th: The Exorcist

The Exorcist Reboot Will Kick Off Trilogy With Ellen Burstyn Returning -  Den of Geek

It has finally made its appearance. Many claim this film is the scariest film out there, and I could easily agree with them, though I think scary factor changes from movie to movie. Poor little Reagan messes around with a Ouija board one night and gets targeted by a demon. What proceeds is one of the gnarliest possessions ever on screen. This film also has a reputation for being one of the most cursed/haunted sets, with a lot of misfortune occuring left and right during filming. These stories added on to its notoriety and got the film banned in the UK for eleven years. Yikes.

Of course, I had to pair this with an appropriately named Satan’s Whiskers cocktail balanced out with a Holy Mocktail: Negroni, which you can find more classic cocktails-turned-mocktails in this series Roberts and June did when they gave up alcohol for Lent. Keep it on the holy side with these Lamb Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce, which is nice and traditional in contrast with the brutality on screen. Then make a devilish sandwich with two choices of a double feature. A modern take would be Hereditary, but you can keep it classic with The Omen.

October 25th: Tales from the Hood

Why Tales From The Hood Is Still The Best Horror Anthology Movie

I featured this film in my anthology list and I have been recommending it every second I get. It’s a fun Creepshow-style film with a lot of social commentary and plenty of camp. Produced by Spike Lee himself, it is definitely a staple in 90s horror that gets forgotten and also drips with modern day relevance. It’s a fun ride perfect for this Monday night and I promise you won’t regret making this one of your choices for your Halloween lineup.

To match the crazy mad-scientist vibe the storyteller has, I decided to go with some wacky concoctions. There is the beautiful, glowing Halloween Hpnotist and the zero proof Blue Shoe. As for snacks, I wanted something short and sweet like an anthology so here is extremely simple 2-Ingredient Nutella Brownies. Now, for double features, I did go the stereotypical route with Jordan Peele’s Get Out. However, I don’t think you can get enough commentary and diversity in your film digest, and I know there is still a bunch of people that haven’t seen Get Out and I know there is a ton of people that have missed Tales From the Hood, so it’s never too late to add these to your film watching portfolio.

October 26th: Poltergeist

The Gadgets From Poltergeist That Fueled Our Nightmares | WIRED

This film has so much heart, it’s almost silly to call it a horror film. This was the first horror film that I watched and I definitely think that this is probably the greatest starter horror for younger folks. A suburbia nightmare–little Carol Anne makes contact with the beyond only to get sucked into another dimension. Her parents take dire measures in order to get her back, not absent of random bumps along the way. What could cause such a powerful poltergeist in the first place?

I actually found a cocktail called The Poltergeist and thought that was fitting, of course. However, I think there isa sort of softness that comes from this film due to its adorable protagonist. Therefore I’ve chosen this pastel green shake that matches the softness: a Green Grasshopper Shake. The food pairing is a disturbing one given its context in the film, but at least it will be tasty up until that point and make great leftovers: Honey Garlic Chicken Legs. I’m a big fan of cold left over chicken legs, given my face doesn’t fall off afterwards. A good double feature for this one is the classic film When a Stranger Calls, which is another starter horror that leans more on the edgier side.

October 27th: Evil Dead II

Evil Dead II (1987) - IMDb

Ah, one of my favorite movies of all time. And before you protest and say that you have to watch the first one before this, you’re incorrect. This film is pure horror-comedy genius from Sam Rami and features Bruce Campbell as the iconic Ash, fighting the Deadites one groovy step at a time. It’s corny, it’s gory and it’s hilarious. It’s also a remake of the first one and a sequel at the same time, making the Evil Dead trilogy one of the most unique ones to date. Hail to the king, baby.

Which brings me to the OBVIOUS follow-up Army of Darkness. The way the film ends, it’s impossible to not throw on the next one to see how Ash holds up in medieval times. As far as pairings go, this Maple Mocktail will make you feel all cozied up in a non-cursed cabin. However, if you want to jump head first and start reciting the Necronomicon for fun times, pair it with the shooter and the cocktail The Cabin and the Deadite and snack on some Necronominoms.

October 28th: [Rec]

Why the Terrifying REC Ending Works So Well

I’m a fan of Spanish horror, if you can’t tell. This goes down for me as the best found footage horror out there, and if you don’t agree, you can at least agree it’s one of the scariest. A television reporter and cameraman follow medical personnel into a dark apartment building and are locked in with something sinister. The US remade this film under the name Quarantine, so if it sounds familiar, that’s why. But sit through subtitles one last time to get a good scare from across the pond.

I went Spanish again with the drinks and snacks, so we have a delicious, refreshing Rebujito for the cocktail of choice. As for the zero proof crowd, a Virgin White Peach Sangria will give that refreshing feeling much like the Rebujito. Since we are creating a creepy atmosphere, pair it with some comfort with this Spanish potato salad: Ensaladilla Rusa. Sticking with the twisted zombie vibe, I am pairing Pontypool, a fun Canadian horror film, with this film.

October 29th: The Final Girls

The Final Girls': LAFF Review – The Hollywood Reporter

This film is such a fun meta-horror film that it usually soars to the top of my list when I need a quick recommendation. It works for both die-hard horror fans and newbies, as it describes the tropes much like Scream lays out the rules. With a bunch of familiar faces as well as all of them well versed in comedy acting, it’s an easy, feel-good movie meets a gory slasher flick. Oh, it also tiptoes on fantasy with the whole being-in-the-actual-movie plot. What are you waiting for? Call your friends and let’s get the ball rolling for a Friday night romp.

Since Billy’s choice of weapon is the large, heavy blade, I found a cocktail called the Liquid Machete. It seemed fitting for this hilarious bloodbath. But if you are more of the Kumbaya type, dig into this delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate. For food, I leaned into the camping vibe and found this delicious Hawaiian BBQ Pork Walking Taco that allow for easy cleanup post movie night. As far as double features go, I remembered this little flick that is a great romp and a fun, quick follow up is the indie film You Might Be the Killer. A unique film format meets an even more unique film form–a perfect start to the Halloweekend.

October 30th: Trick ‘r’ Treat

In Praise of Trick 'r Treat, the Ultimate "Halloween Night" Movie - Paste

This. This film is the ideal Halloween movie and I stand by that. An anthology horror tale meets a comic book tone laced with camp and comedy. All the tales intertwine with each other and blossoms into this fun twist on Halloween traditions. Not to mention, it introduces one of the most adorable horror villains, Sam. All you gotta do is follow the rules to avoid his bloody wrath. Simple enough, but a colorful cast of characters seem to make things a little difficult for Sam to catch up. I could watch this film over and over during October, so therefore it is an annual tradition of mine.

As far as snacks and drinks go, we have to let the Halloween flag fly. I found a spooky cocktails complete with theatrics known as The Witch’s Heart. Purple, spooky and bubbling with delight. If we are craving the more sweet style of life, I also found this lovely Pumpkin Milkshake. Since this film is a grab-bag of spooky delight, snack on this Sweet and Salty Halloween Snack Mix. As far as fun films suited for spooky season go, my double feature for this film is a guilty pleasure for many, and that is the 2001 film Thirteen Ghosts. The ending of this film is very bleh, but Matthew Lillard is a yes in my book.

October 31st: Halloween

Halloween' 1978: The Times Finally Reviews a Horror Classic - The New York  Times

You had to see this coming, whether or not you paid attention to the calendar. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a tried and true masterpiece that has served influence for hundreds of horror films, so it is always a good call to re-watch it come Halloween time. What’s not a better time than actual Halloween night? It’s the tale of Michael Myers that feels even fresher than before with its new sequel that came out only a week ago, so the time is better than ever to revisit the original!

The obvious double feature is a triple feature with the 2018 Halloween and Halloween Kills following up the classic. This is a night to go all out, but sometimes you want a quieter night in, so let’s pair this up with some Michael Myers Jell-O Shots to add to some booze to your snacks. A mocktail for the night is the Cereal Killer (minus the Cognac) or plus the Cognac if we want another cocktail for the night. To up the comfort and the tasty treats, snack on some adorable Ghost Pizza Bagels. Be sure to toast to Michael all dressed up in his ghost costume.


Conclusion

So there it is! All 31 days laid out and prepped. This list is formatted for October but feel free to use it year round when in a good mood for a scary movie night. Thank you all for tuning in each week and jumping down these delectable voids full of blood, booze and bread. Coming up next week The Mother of the Void makes her noble return after a tiff with a rogue charging cable and I am going to take a look at Halloween and what makes it such a masterpiece. Until next time, you lovely spelunkers…

31 Days of Horror: Week Three

Welcome back everybody to The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Days of Horror. The whole concept of this series is to go through each week of October and pair snacks, drinks and double features to The Void’s picks. This is the first year of this series, so the standard calendar is a lot of staples and not a lot of sleeper hits. However, it is not a bad thing to revisit some of the classics. We are hitting the halfway point of October, so we have to celebrate spooky season every second we got! Here is the calendar:

I’m really excited to revisit the picks of this week, as we have some killer classics here. You can find the kick off of this series here and the bloody sequel here. Alright, let’s set up this trilogy of good spooky fun, shall we?

A Micro-rant from The Void

For those that are going to stay away from some of these films because of tiny little words you have to read, please try and push yourself to do so. There will be another subtitled movie this week as well as next week, and if you aren’t open to subtitles, you’re going to miss out on a lot of good horror. As Bong Joon Ho says “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Alright, micro rant over, let’s get to the goodies.

OCtober 15th: THe Orphanage

If you somehow missed this movie during its long Netflix reign during the early 2010s, you missed out. That’s why it’s here. El Orfanato or The Orphanage is a compelling ghost tale that will have you rethinking every time someone knocks on a wall. Laura moves her family back into her childhood home, which was once an orphanage specifically for handicapped children. Not long after, her young son combats transition by having an imaginary friend. However, it turns out this friend might not be so imaginary. You might wanna have some tissues with you if you’re a hair-trigger weeper like I am when anything is remotely sad.

The double feature for this one has to be Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. He actually produced The Orphanage and both this film and Pan’s Labyrinth became the top grossing Spanish films of all time. Since both films take place in Spain, we have to indulge ourselves with some Spanish food and drinks. One of the most popular cocktails in Spain is the Agua de Valencia, a delicious drink reminiscent of a mimosa. For our zero-proof crowd, there is a delicious dessert drink known as Leche Merengada which is a creamy, spiced milkshake style drink (for those lactose intolerant and savvy in Google Translate/fluent in Spanish, you can find a dairy free version here). As far as snacks go, almost everyone loves potatoes, so pair all of this with a simple, spicy Patatas Bravas.

OCtober 16th: Psycho

Psycho's Shower Scene: How Hitchcock Upped the Terror—and Fooled the  Censors - HISTORY

As we know, Halloween Kills is out and while it is general trivia knowledge for most horror fans, a lot of people do not know that Jamie Lee Curtis is Janet Leigh’s daughter. Psycho is a must see and showcases stellar performances from all of its cast, especially Leigh and Anthony Perkins. Despite Peeping Tom being the first slasher film by technicality, it never reached as great of heights and praise as Psycho did. Marion Crane decides to make a run for it with her employer’s precious deposit, but due to a storm has to take refuge in the Bates Motel. I think we all know where it goes next… Nevertheless, Psycho still packs a punch despite its second biggest twist being spoiled for most film lovers and therefore, it makes it onto the calendar.

Psycho just screams classic to me, so therefore I pair this one with a nice Negroni. Believe it or not, I actually found a non-alcoholic Negroni which I thought was impossible, but it has great ratings, so check it out. What pairs nice with the sophisticated Negroni? A bunch of snooty (but tasty) things, but for some reason, these rich Bacon Mac and Cheese Bites from Entertaining with Beth will do too. Double feature wise, you could go with the previously mentioned pioneer Peeping Tom or you could go with another Hitchcock horror The Birds. It’s the simple decision of not trusting men or not trusting birds, you decide.

OCtober 17th: THe Conjuring

The Conjuring (2013) - IMDb

Ah, there’s nothing like family and building a home together, right? Gathering together and playing Hide-and-Clap sounds like a very wholesome thing to do? Well, when there is a possible witch/demon terrorizing your family each night, it’s not as picture-perfect as you would imagine. This is the first installment of the now expansive Conjuring Universe, but nothing quite beats the first one, which delivers the suspense upon every single viewing. Too bad that it spawned another wave of copycats and cheap spinoffs, but I don’t think any of its expansions can take away from this gem.

The film takes place in the 70s, complete with Patrick Wilson sporting some epic sideburns. Therefore, I’m going vintage with these pairings. If you’ve never had a cheeseball before, you have to try this classic cheeseball recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch. In the mood for something sweet and more with the season? Check out this this pumpkin cheesecake ball. If we’re keeping it classic 70’s, we should go for a nice bright Harvey Wallbanger (here’s a virgin one) to lighten up the mood for this dark, grim film. The double feature for this one is surprisingly not from the Conjuring-Verse, but rather a Mike Flanagan film Ouija: Origin of Evil. It matches The Conjuring‘s tone and because of its predecessor, some horror fans missed out on this one.

October 18th: The Shining

The Shining -REVIEW – The Martini Shot

In October, you try to shuffle in some new finds, but sometimes nothing beats the tried and true classics. That is why The Shining is on here. I watch it at least once a year, mainly to play detective to see if I get anything new from it. I feel like I don’t really need to explain the plot of this one other than it deters heavily from the book. Why I bring this up is mostly due to my double feature, but also a push for people to read the book, as it has a lot of sentiment that the Kubrick film is obviously lacking in.

There is now an obvious double feature for The Shining which is its sequel Doctor Sleep. Yes, Mike Flanagan again. Here he does the impossible task of marrying the two versions of The Shining, and he pulls it off beautifully. You can read more about it on The Void of Celluloid here: We Love You, Mike Flanagan. For this film, I went more with a themed cocktail meets generic yummy carbs, since alcohol is such an important plot point in the story. Yes, suggesting a cocktail is opposite of the point which is why I will lead with this mocktail recipe that sounds utterly amazing: Cranberry Apple Cider Mocktail. Which is red. I think you can see where this is going, just don’t spell this REDRUM cocktail backwards. The delicious side I chose to pair with this deep red punch is the viral Cheese and Garlic Crack Bread.

October 19th: Scream

13 Seriously Effed Up Facts About 'Scream' - MTV

This film is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year so it’s time to rewatch it if you haven’t caught it in theaters yet. This film is Wes Craven’s comeback as well as the father of meta-horror that a lot of modern horror comedies use today. Also, I think it is impossible to not fall in love with Sidney Prescott’s badassery. Oh, and Matthew Lilliard’s acting. There’s a lot I love about this film.

Its double feature has to go to its sequel Scream 2, as I think there is a lot that they did better in regards to it being a horror movie. There is scarier moments in the second one at least, so if you want to go more pedal-to-the-metal with your scares, don’t skip this one. These two films drip with teenage/college student energy, so I decided to go for a dive bar meets high school party aesthetic with the pairings. We got a lovely light beer cocktail known as a Chelada, which is like a Corona with lime on steroids. Since we already did Shirley Temples last week, we’re going to go with another non-boozy classic: the Roy Rodgers. Pair this off with some adorable, salty Bacon Cheeseburger Bites and you got yourself a spooky rager.

OCtober 20th: Housebound

Housebound review: Perfect horror for the Covid-19 quarantined - Vox

If you couldn’t tell, I am quite a fan of Kiwi humor. Housebound is another title that lurked around Netflix for a while, and I remember watching it without any prior knowledge. I was confused, but once you realize it is a comedy through and through, it gets absolutely hilarious. Therefore, I want to use this platform to clarify and shine some more light on this lost gem. Kylie is forced to return to her childhood home under house arrest, trapping her inside with the supposed evil entity that lives among her and her family.

This is a fun movie and should be paired with equally fun things. Therefore I’m pairing it with one of my favorite movies The Lost Boys. Because who could say no to some glam punk 80s vampires? This is a mixed bag of a night, so why not mix it up some more with this Halloween Sangria or a prom-style punch? In my mad search for recipes, I came across these jalapeno popper pigs in a blanket that I could not help but share. Say hello to a wild Wednesday night!

OCtober 21st: Ringu

Ring (1998) | Trailer - YouTube

I’ll be honest, I am not a big fan of the American The Ring. I feel like it’s a cheap knockoff of the rich story that is Ringu. If you have only seen the American version, I urge you to watch Ringu this week. It is genuinely one of the creepiest films out there. It still centers around the cursed tape that is well known but its use of practical effects as well as the absence of that blue filter that was so popular in early 00s horror (and promptly killed by Twilight) make this film soar above the American remake.

The obvious double feature is another story done so dirty by American film studios: Ju-On: The Grudge. A “slower” burn than the first film, but a truly rich and amazing ghost story through and through. Since we are enjoying two classic Japanese horror films, I decided to pair it with onigiri, which is impossible to hate given its endless combinations and simpler assembly. Of course, I involved sake, so please enjoy the highly rated Sake Southside from Tasting Table (a Japanese Cream Soda for the non alcohol drinkers).

Conclusion and what’s Next

I’m so happy to see people enjoying this series and I enjoy making it (even though it makes me hungry). There is a lot coming up with The Void of Celluloid in the next few months from a podcast to a Patreon startup to oh so much more and I am excited to share this journey with all of you. Please be sure to follow and share this with your friends and loved ones and I will see you next week as we celebrate the final ten days of TVOC’s 31 Days of Horror.

31 Days of Horror: Week Two

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

The Haunting (1963) - IMDb
31 Days of Horror: Week Two

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

31 Days of Horror: Week Two

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

31 Days of Horror: Week Two

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

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) - IMDb

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

Zombie Apocalypse Now: 'Night of the Living Dead' at 50 - Rolling Stone

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

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) - IMDb

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.

Mike Flanagan, We Love You

Mike Flanagan's Stuck-At-Home Binge Guide: Indie Horror Hits and Overlooked  Gems << Rotten Tomatoes – Movie and TV News

Yes, this is an ode to the one and only Mike Flanagan. Of all the horror creators out there, Mike Flanagan was put on the radar with his film Oculus. He has taken on bigger names ever since then, with The Haunting series and two Stephen King adaptations. With his highly anticipated horror series Midnight Mass releasing today, now’s the time to jump into the Flanagan void and review all that he’s done for the horror industry thus far. So strap in, and let’s go back all the way to 2011.

2011: Absentia

An Awful Truth: Mike Flanagan's "Absentia" | Weird Fiction Review

Despite its lower budget and narrow release, this was the film that got people talking about Mike Flanagan. It also was where he found his writing niche in the atmospheric, slow burn horror. This movie focuses on two sisters that go looking for clues after the protagonist’s–Tricia–husband disappears. Seven years later, she comes to accept his death in absentia and move on with her life, considering she is now pregnant and it seems that everything else in her life has moved forward. Upon signing the death certificate, she finds her husband beaten and bloodied on her doorstep. He confesses to her sister that something took him “underneath” in the tunnel near their house, something not human.

There is a lot of weaving between what’s real or not due to drug abuse and supposed hallucinations. These are the things that makes Flanagan’s horror writing so good, as he is able to blend real life conditions into fictional, outlandish horror. It makes it even scarier in a sense, as it reflects this feeling that something like this could happen to yourself. He integrates real life issues in a lot of his work, especially substance abuse. Overall, this film had a budget of $70,000, and despite its lower budget, Flanagan utilizes his directing to create the scares rather than using cheap jumpscares.

2013: Oculus

Review: Why 'Oculus' Is One of the Scariest American Horror Movies In Years  | IndieWire

The next big project launched Flanagan like a catapult. The catapult had Blumhouse labeled across it, and he took on Oculus, an original short film turned full length feature. He was given over 4.5 million more in his budget than the last film. Therefore, there was a lot of pressure to deliver on a film focusing on a cursed mirror. Oculus focuses on two siblings Kaylie and Tim, who plan on uncovering what happened the night their parents were killed. Kaylie believes it is a cursed mirror that caused the unfortunate events. Tim–just recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital–grapples with the belief that him and his sister are severely mentally ill.

This movie delivers an epic twist that also puts you in the place of the protagonists, as the viewer does not know what to believe until the very end. It’s another tragic ending, which is a key piece of Flanagan’s writing wheelhouse. The topic of mental illness versus the supernatural comes up a lot in Flanagan’s work, most prominently The Haunting of Hill House. Following his movie timeline, we can see him experiment with a lot of topics leading up to that work. Another thing that is admirable is the next works we see from Flanagan is his collaborations with his wife Kate Siegel, who he met on set of this film.

2016: The Year of Flanagan

Hush

Hush (2016) - IMDb

When I think of Mike Flanagan, this is usually the first film that comes to mind. In this film, Flanagan takes on a traditional slasher film but turns it on its head by having a deaf and mute protagonist played by Kate Siegel. This whole concept was cooked up when Siegel mentioned she would like to tackle on a role of someone with a communicative disability. Immediately led Flanagan to write a horror piece surrounded that concept. Her disabilities should put her at a major disadvantage, at least the killer thinks it should. However, she is also a writer. She is well versed in coming up with creative moves for her protagonists that she writes. Therefore, her quick problem solving has Hush play out like a violent game of chess.

This slasher falls in the same category as The Strangers did, in which the killer has no motivation other than malicious intent. This is what makes the film even scarier, as he is written with such a personality. Most of the slashers we watch, the killer barely gets any lines. In Hush, the killer has the same framework as Billy Loomis in Scream, as he talks just to hear himself talk. This is even more frightening, as it seems like he is talking to us more than he is the protagonist. She can only read lips when looking at him, while we hear everything he spews out of his mouth. This film is brilliant, and easily one of the best horror films in the past decade.

Before I wake

Before I Wake | Netflix Official Site

If only this film wasn’t in production hell, I believe it would have garnered a much larger press coverage as well as box office. Flanagan began this project back in 2013, and it is his first attempt at a PG-13 horror film. Much like all of his other works, this film deals with grief and family dynamics as much as it deals with its horror elements. It deals with heavy topics such as child loss and parent loss. Therefore if one is sensitive to those topics, I suggest preparing or possibly skipping this film. Despite its heavy topics and mild critical panning, it was a passion project of Flanagan’s and should be respected as such.

In this film, foster parents Mark and Jessie welcome home Cody. Cody confides in them about his fear of sleeping. Though seeming like a childlike fear at first, the couple come to realize quite quickly that the boy’s dreams become highly animated in reality. So much so, that the boy is able to dream their dead son back into existence, or so it seems. There is consequences for this, as the lines of imagination and reality become blurred. It is a creative film that may be hindered a bit by its PG-13 rating, but overall it deserves an honorable mention in his repertoire.

Oujia: Origin of Evil

Ouija: Origin of Evil tries its best but fails to spell out a good time at  the movies - Vox

2014’s Ouija was definitely not asking for a sequel. However, with an astounding profit gained from its theater release, it was inevitable. I believe that this film is a shining example of what a PG-13 horror film should be. You can find my further opinions on PG-13 horror here: PG-13 Horror: Is it Just for Box Office? Anyways, this prequel surpasses the original and then some. Mike Flanagan once again focuses on the family dynamic, pulling away from the original’s traditional teenager subjects. This is also the beginning of Flanagan’s regular rotation of actors, as most of the actors in this film feature in later works of his, especially Henry Thomas and Kate Siegel, as mentioned previously.

Taking place in 1967, a widowed mother supports her and her two daughters through a séance scam ran out of her home. Her oldest daughter suggests to add a Ouija board to legitimize her service even more. When left alone, the youngest daughter uses it in hopes that she could communicate with her recently deceased father. An evil spirit takes advantage of the young girl. What plays out is a unique possession film that packs in quite the scares as well as a whole lot of heart. I think that the predecessor sadly overshadowed this film, and will go down a modern classic. If you’re a fan of possession films and/or like the films mentioned prior, please go check this one out.

2017: Gerald’s Game

Stephen King's New Netflix Movie, Gerald's Game, Gets Tense First Trailer -  GameSpot

Instead of the Flanagan Renaissance that was 2016, 2017 was the return of a Flanagan project a year. This time, Flanagan was taking one of the larger challenges of a horror creator: a Stephen King adaptation. This film managed to secure a partnership between Flanagan and King, as King had nothing but amazing things to say about it. You can read more on King’s reaction in his interview with Vulture here: Stephen King on Movies Gerald’s Game, 1922, It, The Stand. Flanagan passes the adaptation test with flying colors with Gerald’s Game.

A flame is flickering out between a couple in Gerald’s Game. What would be a spicy night with S&M and handcuffs to relight the flame turns sinister when Gerald suddenly dies by a heart attack and leaves Jessie strapped to the bedposts–in actual handcuffs. A chain of events play out as Jessie fights for her life and comes to terms with her situation. Known for its infamous “degloving” scene, this film is not for the lighthearted. However, it is an adaptation that soars beyond the original text, which will be another skill that Flanagan pockets and portrays in his next works.

2018: The Haunting of Hill House

the Haunting of Hill House' Fun Facts

This thus far is Flanagan’s magnum opus. The writing and outstanding interpretation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House contains some of the most memorable moments of horror in the 21st century. Flanagan is known for injecting strong emotions into his writing. However, the way that Flanagan balances the line of supernatural and mental illness like he did in Oculus is even more refined. He truly highlights family dysfunction, substance abuse, and other troubling topics whilst telling an incredible ghost story.

There is also a deep attachment to each of the characters, in particular Nell and Luke, the twins targeted by the house. The use of flashback enriches the story even more and the visuals are both effortlessly beautiful and truly haunting. There is also a rewatchability factor due to its rich story and easter eggs throughout. Overall, The Haunting of Hill House was and still is a breath of fresh air in the ghost story genre. It is one of the greatest horror series of all time. It also is the theme of one of the haunts at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights this year, providing scares outside of the screen.

2019: Doctor Sleep

Rebecca Ferguson: 'Not being recognised suits me' | Rebecca Ferguson | The  Guardian

Hello again, Stephen King. Flanagan took on a drastic challenge with Doctor Sleep. Without stepping on any toes, he managed to marry King’s novel to Stanley Kubrick’s loose adaptation of The Shining. He did it, and with drastic effort too. For a day of filming, Flanagan rebuilt the entire set of the Overlook from the 1980 film based on his several viewings of the film. The Shining is his favorite film, if you couldn’t tell. If you’re wondering how they did such a feat, check out this article here from No Film School: How the ‘Doctor Sleep’ Crew Rebuilt Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel.

This film ended up being a beautiful blend of the two works. It features phenomenal acting from Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson and Henry Thomas–who does a brilliant Jack Nicholson impression. The story follows Danny Torrance a long time after the events of The Shining, as his powers gets him in contact with a young girl who also has the ‘shine’ by the name of Abra. She is in danger due to a sinister cult known as the True Knot, sucking the ‘shine’ out of young children and murdering them. Events unfold that require him to go back to the place it all began. It is very much worth it to watch the director’s cut of this film, as all three hours are entertaining, suspenseful and invigorating.

2020: The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor: Fan Reactions to Everyone's Latest Netflix  Obsession | Glamour

2020 was a rough year as we all know. Mike Flanagan just had to go and break our hearts even more on top of it. While The Haunting of Bly Manor is a horror series, it focuses primarily on the relationships in the series, especially between Dani and Jamie. It’s a love story and a ghost story tied together, which has amazing characters you care for, but instead of it working out for most like The Haunting of Hill House, it hardy works out for anyone. This is another loose adaptation, but this time it is a novella of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.

Dani goes to get a new start by nannying two children on an English estate. Things start getting weird when the children start acting out–more like act not themselves–and what is unlocked is the estate’s grim but lavish backstory, which is starkly intertwined with current events. While Flanagan has almost a completely new cast with a few repeat actors, the acting is once again outstanding. They carry the story effortlessly to its extremely tragic ending. Bring tissues for that last episode.

2021: Midnight Mass

Reviews are in for Netflix's major new series Midnight Mass - and viewers  are saying the same thing | HELLO!

Midnight Mass was as good–if not better–than I expected. It is a masterpiece honestly. Full of brilliant monologues that act as sermons and fascinating visuals that heighten the melancholy that seeps into this horror drama. I also have to mention that Neil Diamond heavy soundtrack. Overall, it was a fantastic “vampire” drama that focused on the trauma, trials and tribulations of the small Crockett Island. Not to mention the copious amount of performance snubs this award season, particularly from Hamish Linklater and Kate Siegel.

Like I mentioned with Bly Manor, make sure you have some tissues. I caught myself sobbing quite a few times in this one, and that final episode is full of heartbreak and betrayal. This is a heavy series as well, so to those that too struggle with religious trauma or addiction, tread lightly with this series. It is an important watch if you do deal with those things, as there is no hint of glamorization and the personal ties to Flangan himself really send the message of it can and does get better. It just takes time, and it is how you deal with it in the short time we have.

OVERALL, Mike Flanagan is scaling the sides of the horror palace and are a few films away from seizing the throne. I am excited to see what he has coming next with The Midnight Club and The Fall of the House of Usher. Flanagan taking on Poe is in fact a dream come true.

The Revival of the PG-13 Horror Flick and its Subtle Fall

What usually illustrates the horror genre is three things: blood, guts and gore. It seems like an impossible feat to remove these things, but nothing garners more money than a PG-13 rating rather than an R. Is that the only reason PG-13 horror movies are made, or is it for accessibility reasons?

A PG-13 rating for all genres implies that teens can go see racier movies without adult supervision or that parents feel a little more okay taking their kids to movies, which can result in a bigger box office. It’s actually rare for an R movie to supersede the top box office spot from movies with other ratings. We are going to go back to the beginning of the rating’s history and how PG-13 horror began before starting in on the money effects.

The Beginning of the PG-13 Horror Flick

The PG-13 rating is a recent addition, with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom being the first movie that had people questioning its PG rating. Apparently, ingesting monkey brains and watching a dude’s beating heart get ripped out was too intense for younger audiences. The majority opinion however was that it didn’t deserve an R rating. Therefore, the MPAA compromised on an in between rating. Later that year Red Dawn became the first movie to receive the PG-13 rating. More movies started adopting the rating to avoid giving their movie an automatic R.

Pg-13 horror: Night of the comet

The first horror movie to garner the PG-13 rating was Night of the Comet, a brilliant zombie satire released in 1984. With some scares and very little gore, this one has became fairly popular with its home video release. Having this film the standard for PG-13 horror should’ve led this genre to a good start, and instead, it allowed for some shoddy–yet comedic–excuses for horror. While there were some cult classics such as Little Shop of Horrors and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the introduction of the PG-13 rating also gave us flops such as the Troll franchises and the Critters franchise.

No big names took on the PG-13 challenge, surprisingly. That is due to theater culture in the 1980s. Most theaters were still showing one movie at a time. Big names such as Cineplex and Regal were just getting started. It was extremely expensive to run a multiplex. Finally, the video store was extremely popular and would be until streaming was established. Therefore, there was no box office “risk” in making an R-rated movie. That changed in the 1990s, when most major cities had a multiplex in town and the movie industry started to churn out content a little faster.

The shift in theater culture

The 1990s brought us amazing films varying all genres, and many enjoyed them in the theater. It’s not that home video wasn’t popular, it still reigned as the most accessible way to see new movies. The film industry’s advertisement tactics shifted towards pushing a theatrical run. Especially with film epics such as Titanic and Jurassic Park, a theatrical screening was the “right way” to see these movies. This is when advisory ratings became correlated with box office.

In the 1990s, there are only three R-rated movies in the top 20 films by box office, and among those 20, there is only one horror film. M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense was the 7th highest grossing film of the 1990s and remains the 2nd highest grossing horror film, only second to the 2017 adaptation of It. This formed an equation for many studios that PG-13 horror makes more money than R horror. While that is true on paper, The Sixth Sense was an anomaly that was high grossing and also critically acclaimed, as it is well written, directed and acted. We cannot say the same for the majority of PG-13 horror in the early 2000s.

The Race for Box Office Success

Not all hope is lost for 2000s horror. In fact, a large chunk of films are actually good movies. A favorite of mine that I watched as a starter horror film is The Others, which kicked off the decade in such a brilliant way (imo, it has a better twist than The Sixth Sense). We also have The Exorcism of Emily Rose, an amazing court thriller with horror sprinkled here and there. However, this was also the decade of half baked remakes of Asian horror. This is a highly hot take, but The Ring and The Grudge do not even touch their original content in regards to quality.

These movies became so popular because they were accessible through their PG-13 rating. They tamed down the original story. In regards to these film, it is purely the look of them that makes them so appealing. Everyone was a sucker for blue filter, as it made films seem edgier than they were. With a few exceptions, a lot of the films followed the same format and all were met with moderate box office success, however the quality became more and more diluted. They also became more predictable, which many filmmakers combatted with spurts of creativity, as discussed in my former article Creative Kills: What Makes It Pop. All of this regurgitation and financial strife of the R-rated film escalated once streaming services quickly replaced the video rental shops in the later 2000s, which came to a glorious head in 2010.

The Renaissance of PG-13 Horror and its fall

PG-13 horror changed forever in the year 2010. Before this year, PG-13 horror felt like a normal R-rated horror film. Instead it turned it down a couple notches. In 2010, James Wan shook up what it meant to make a PG-13 horror film with Insidious. Insidious remains one of the greatest horror films of all time, because it is still effectively scary, but it is a film without gore. PG-13 horror seemed very half and half, toning down how scary it was to stuff in mildly horrific images. This film is nothing but scary and competes with the R-rated classics of the 80s and 90s. This allowed for a lot of other films to come out of the woodwork as the decade went on.

Insidious | Netflix

James Wan went back to his R-rated roots however with The Conjuring, which with its financial success spawned a whole franchise. As I stated earlier, It: Chapter One is the highest grossing horror film of all time, which is another R-rated success. Once more, PG-13 horror lost its quality when R-rated movies actually started garnering financial success. Still, the movie industry makes half baked PG-13 horror films for a quick buck. Non-restricted films allows teenagers and such to go see a scary movie. A crowd looking for cheap thrills (not so cheap anymore, given theater prices) doesn’t necessarily care about the quality of the film. Cheap jumpscares usually leads to a pretty penny.

Conclusion

Despite all of that, we are still in a sort of PG-13 horror renaissance. A Quiet Place is one of the most financially successful horror films, and its sequel was just as successful and critically acclaimed. However, the R-rating does not damn a movie’s box office anymore. Most of the time, an R-rating is due to language more than anything, except for horror films. Most horror fans willingly seek out something not tamed down. That leaves the question open as to what happens to what we know as starter horror. Will we have new horror films we can show younger audiences to get them started? Perhaps not, but there are plenty past starter horror classics. I much rather rewatch those rather than watch the film industry continue rehashing them.

The Final Girl: How Wes Craven Saves the Day

Horror movies had quite a rocky start in depicting women. Early horror and the age of monster movies depicted women as damsels in distress rather than the final girl archetype we see today. They were always preyed upon and scared into submission. Most of the time, they were helpless. We see from the start of horror all the way to the 1960s with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Marion Crane isn’t really moving while she stabbed in the shower, which contradicts the ballsy moves she makes in the beginning of the film. She flails and she screams, but without the effort to do something, she dies naked, cold and humiliated.

Psycho Crane Sisters: Ancestors to the Final Girl - Ghoulish Media

It is important to remember that Marion Crane is not what horror fans know as the “final girl,” but rather her sister Lila that solves the mystery and escapes near death at the end of the film. Psycho did present a shift in the female protagonist, but Hitchcock is not the one to turn to for female empowerment. His following film The Birds is infamous for the mistreatment of actress Tippi Hedren. Instead, we are going to focus on the transition of the female protagonist in horror starting in the 1970s, and how the trope of the final girl went from empowering to demeaning. It remained that way throughout the years until the 1990s with the release of Scream, which destroys and rebuilds the trope once more.

1974: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was groundbreaking at its time of release. It determined what the slasher genre would be in the next few years. It was the next major exploitation horror film after Wes Craven’s release of The Last House on the Left, which is notorious for its brutality towards the two women. That film continued to push the narrative of damsels in distress–in high distress in this case–as they were put into a completely helpless situation. Yes, there is revenge as we see a mother and father rain hellfire on the rapist-murderers, but we don’t see the wronged women get justice themselves.

Marilyn Burns, Texas Chain Saw Massacre actress, dies aged 65 - BBC News

One of the first appearances of the trope that defines the slasher genre is Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This film is the standard of low budget grindhouse, and has the bare bones of what a final girl would look and be like in future films. Sally Hardesty is the last one left alive, and she does get out of the terrifying situation she finds herself in towards the film’s climax. She has good instinct too, but honestly, she gets out of there due to pure luck. She also drags that poor semi truck driver into the situation during the final scene. He is the one to deal the blow that saves both of them. That doesn’t dismiss her as a final girl, but instead of the typical showdown the final girl has with the killer, Sally takes the flight method rather than the fight method.

1974: Black Christmas

Released the same year as the previous film, Black Christmas is an underrated slasher pioneer. It released the same weekend as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but carries a different tone. While both are gruesome, Black Christmas takes a different approach with its characters. Many tropes trace back to this movie, and considering this movie inspired John Carpenter to make Halloween, I say that Jess Bradford is the pioneer of the final girls. For more comparisons between Black Christmas and Halloween, check out The Ringer’s article ‘Black Christmas’ Was the First ‘Halloween’.

What sets Jess apart from Sally is that Jess seems to have a functioning brain and does not shriek at anything and everything in sight. That is a real insensitve take, I know that the traumatizing situations justify Sally’s reactions, but it isn’t the usual image of a final girl. Instead a final girl does what she needs to do, which involves being sneaky and keeping quiet. It also involves a headstrong attitude. Jess exhibits both in the action of the film as well as the other plot points, most poignantly the discussion she has with her boyfriend in regards to her plans for an abortion.

FINAL GIRL PROFILE: Jess Bradford, Black Christmas (1974) - The Black  Museum: Lurid Lectures for the Morbidly Curious

There is something deeply unsettling about the fate of this final girl, as the ending is ambiguous and it leans more towards killing off the final girl, since she receives the damning phone call. This is why I claim this movie and Texas Chainsaw pioneering films. The main reason being that their final girls do not fit the modern day image of the final girl. However, I give it Black Christmas to kick off this trope, as there are similarities between Jess and our next final girl Laurie Strode.

1978: Halloween

Laurie Strode is always the first to come to mind when I think about final girls. John Carpenter set the groundwork for the strong female protagonist with his 1978 film Halloween. She is a quiet, reserved teenager responsible for babysitting a kid Halloween night. She is on edge throughout the beginning of the movie as she sees Michael Meyers lurking in the shadows. Therefore, in the beginning and by the constant harassment of her friends, we as the audience are meant to view her as “lame”. That’s not it at all though. She is self aware of herself and her actions, which is why she kicks it into gear when she realizes Michael picked off her friends one by one.

In Praise of the Shy Girl: Halloween's Laurie Strode (Women In Horror  Series) | by Kelcie Mattson | Applaudience | Medium

With Laurie being the stay-at-home-and-study type in contrast with her somewhat reckless friends, it is sometimes read that Laurie’s survival is like a reward for her purity. This is a stripped down, male gazey version of Laurie Strode and the Final Girl as a whole. Whether we like it or not, the standard for women is lowkey pedophiliac its focus–more like obssession–on virginity. This aspect supposed to be admired about the final girl. This is the wrong way of looking at it. Rather than glamorize the idea of virginity, it should praise not succumbing to peer pressure and holding standards for yourself. Her friends tell her to loosen up multiple times in the film’s beginning. Laurie stands her ground and continues to be herself, all the way up to the end of the film. Tragically, the first train of thought is what the horror industry ran with.

1980: Friday the 13th

The next big slasher is what gave us the so-called “rules” of the genre: Friday the 13th. This has a big plot point of punishing the act of sex, as that is the reasoning Mrs. Voorhees attaches to her son’s death, and rightfully so, as neglect to watch over the swimmers led to him drowning. But they push that punishment to the extreme, with Mrs. Voorhees striking during or right after the act. It’s mindless revenge as none of the counselors were around Camp Crystal Lake during Jason’s death. Therefore it comes off more as a senile woman punishing the act of sex rather than getting revenge for her son.

Friday the 13th: Why Alice was Killed for part II – Mack's Musings

Alice Hardy is our final girl in this film. The film exhibits her prudishness with the strip poker scene and her childlike crush on Bill, therefore it establishes the assumption that she is a virgin. What makes her the standard for the final girl is her epic showdown and kill of the villain. The seemingly innocent Alice is fed up and lops Pamela Voorhees’ head off, which according to her character we saw in the rest of the film, it is fairly unexpected and has us cheering for her. While Laurie Strode served as influence for Alice Hardy, the ideal final girl is Alice when the trope is analyzed by itself.

1984: A Nightmare on Elm Street

This implication of slashers punishing the youngsters for sex and drugs carried itself on a box office pedestal throughout the 1980s as several knockoffs and sequels planted their roots in the home video-palooza of the 80s. Though some had their twists and turns, the final girls became more and more washed out. It was almost like the final girl was becoming a hollow shell of herself and they were hitting copy-paste with each new release. Wes Craven took on a different kind of final girl in A Nightmare on Elm Street by giving Freddy a different motive than the motiveless voiceless killers of the early 80s, but even then Freddy painted himself as a godlike figure doing punishing.

Why A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET'S Nancy Is Horror's Greatest Final Girl -  Nerdist

Nancy Thompson is smart and has a good head on her shoulders. She is feminine, which was forgotten in the 80s, with the purposeful masculinization of the final girls to make them seem tougher. However, due to the nature of the killer and her surroundings, she comes off as helpless quite a few times throughout the film. Another ambiguous ending confirms this helplessness in which it implies Nancy actually never made it out alive.

Instead of going in that direction, the rest of the films of the 1980s almost had a carbon copy of Alice as their final girl. We would continue to see this regurgitation for the whole decade, until Craven finally said enough is enough.

1996: Scream

Scream is brilliant, and I mean that in both adoration and critically. This film blends humor, horror and badasses, especially from the main protagonist Sidney Prescott. When I think of my ideal final girl, it goes to Sidney all the way. Despite her trauma and her poor taste in men, she doesn’t skip a beat to kick ass and defend herself and her posse. Her posse in both the original and its sequels also feature some badass women, with Gale Weathers being a secondary final girl and Tatum Riley, who scores some awesome hits on Billy before her unfortunate run in with the garage door.

Scream 5: Neve Campbell in talks to return as Sidney Prescott | GamesRadar+

Sidney destroys the final girl archetype as she breaks most of the “rules” Randy reminds of us nearing the climax of the film. She is not a virgin by the final showdown and she is not a innocent delicate flower. She is actively dealing with her mother’s murder and testified against Cotton Weary so effectively that she put him in jail on a life sentence. Sidney is a breath of fresh air and restores the internal workings of a woman into the final girl. Therefore she rises to the top of the hierarchy side by side with Laurie Strode.

Wes Craven did make an instant classic, which engraved Ghostface in the history of horror among the classic slasher villains. He also made Sidney Prescott a posterchild for aspiring young women. His writing of Sidney is almost like a true apology in regards to how he wrote women characters before. A lot of Craven’s previous work brutalized women quite a bit and put them in hopeless situations consistently. Therefore, to have Sidney Prescott persevere through all of this, I can forgive Craven’s depravity.

What now? Modern Day Final Girls

In modern horror, the final girl is still alive and kicking, but rather in the model of Sidney Prescott rather than Alice Hardy. Some key examples is Grace from Ready or Not, Rocky in the first Don’t Breathe, and Dana in The Cabin in the Woods–who plays a trope in but transcends it much like Sidney did. There hasn’t been much regression, and while sequel fever has sparked back up in the recent years, more paranormal based films are the ones to pick up sequels, which prevents the final girl becoming hollow again.

THE FINAL GIRLS (2015) • Frame Rated

A brilliant horror comedy that has come out in the past decade is The Final Girls. It truly is a romp and will become a cult classic as the years go by, but the way that this movie plays with the rules that the 1980s horror flicks set is creative and hilarious. This film is a feature in my 31 Days of Horror coming up, so check it out. Overall, I don’t think the horror community will allow this trope to return back to where it was, and when it does, it usually is in homage to something and likes to challenge the original ideas that caused such a prudish final girl. Final verdict: thanks to Scream, you can drink, do drugs and have sex and you can still survive a horror film. Just don’t say you’ll be right back, because you won’t be. Easy enough, right?

Spooky Season, Welcome: A Guide for September Spooky Flicks

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.

Halloween' 1978: The Times Finally Reviews a Horror Classic - The New York  Times
A preview of what’s to come next month…

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

spooky season

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).

spooky season

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?

Spooky season

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)

Spooky Season

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

spooky season

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.

spooky season

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.

Conclusion

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.

Anthology Horror: Short Stories Unfolded

Anthology horror has risen to one of the more popular subgenres of horror, and it is easy to see why. With television shows such as American Horror Story and Black Mirror in high demand during the 21st century, the idea of shortened, contained scares are appealing to both the binge watcher and the casual TV viewer. The subgenre has such beautiful roots too, since anthology horror found its home in the imagination of Rod Serling in 1959 with his groundbreaking series, The Twilight Zone. With the new release of the Fear Street anthology, I decided to take a dive into the void and well, I was feeling quite opinionated. It is truly a range of films, with attempts of sprinkling in some cult classics amongst household names.



Anthology Horror: Not Great to best

All of the films and television I am putting up here are definitely watchable, and are based on my personal feelings, as well as what I perceive as quality entertainment. They are not everyone’s cup of tea, however. I will also describe an age range for these films if you are looking for something more intense for yourself, or something tame to show some curious kiddos. Let’s get on with the ranks, starting of with films that I think you should avoid.

Utter Garbage: Holidays, THe ABCs Of death Series

Photo example of anthology horror Holidays
Seth Green in Holidays (2016), XYZ Films

I do understand that I stated these are watchable, and while these pain me deeply, they’re not unwatchable. Some may debate with me, and while there are good individual stories in these films, they’re not really worth your time. It was especially disappointing, because Kevin Smith did the Halloween short for Holidays. Now, one of my favorite directors meets my favorite holiday should have been an easy knockout for me, and I was ready to grant it a little grace, but oh boy, it was bad. As for The ABCs of Death, I admire the concept of a collection of international short horror films, but some of the films were either A) too disturbing, or B) way too ridiculous (for example, F is for Fart). Don’t waste your time, and kindly avoid these films.

AMerican Horror Story seasons 3-9

Photo example of anthology horror series American Horror Story
American Horror Story: Coven (2013), FX Television

Now, these are enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but oh boy, is it Ryan Murphy television to a tee. Ryan Murphy has a certain style, and while I can appreciate the humor and the excessive musical numbers in Season 4 (not necessarily dissing these, I enjoy them, but a major turn off for a lot of fans), these seasons are not as strong as the first two, and even die hard fans can agree with this. They are fun and full of bitchy dialogue, darker humor, and heart wrenching tragedy, but overall, they are way more soapy and not everybody’s cup of tea. Also, he needs to stop killing of my favorite characters, and maybe I can forgive these seasons more.

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Photo example of Twilight Zone: The Movie
Dan Aykroyd in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Warner Bros.Studios

Yeah, this film. This film suffered in production hell and was shadowed by the tragic, notorious helicopter accident that occurred on its set, but that doesn’t stop it from being a decent film. With a story from Steven Spielberg as well as memorable moments from Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow, it is sad to have this movie go under the radar so often, but also completely understandable given the nature of the accident. The stories are good retellings of classic Twilight Zone tales, and John Landis has a good prologue as well as a predictable first segment, but it is an uncomfortable viewing, especially after having looked at the details of the accident. If you want to continue not having a knot in your stomach when you hear John Landis’ name, I suggest not deep diving into the details of what happened.

Creepshow 2

Photo example of Creepshow 2
Creepshow 2 (1987), Laurel Entertainment

Creepshow is admired for its cheesiness, but this sequel doesn’t hold a candle to the first one. While its budget quadrupled from the first and the special effects seemingly improved, it is extremely campy and leans more on the comical side. It is not bad, but rather quite enjoyable, given that Stephen King and George A. Romero were still behind the wheel (quite literally in King’s case). Approach this one with a not-so-serious mindset, and enjoy another journey with The Creep.

Cat’s Eye

Anthology Horror
Drew Barrymore in Cat’s Eye (1985), MGM

Awe, isn’t lil’ Drew Barrymore adorable? Cat’s Eye is a more accessible anthology film by Stephen King, in which the viewer follows a cat around through three chilling tales, which seems to be the magic number for King. I remember watching this when I was younger, around age 10, and remember it being rather tame. It’s quality short stories from King, and was the groundbreaker for a flowing anthology film rather than broken up, separate stories–a format featured in a few films on this list. However, it was not as memorable as other starter-horror, at least from my childhood, so it goes here.

Fear Street Series

Anthology Horror
Fear Street Trilogy (2021), Netflix

It was exciting to see R.L. Stine’s name attached to a modern production, especially one that was promising some gory, grown-up scares. These movies are fun and have a few creative tricks of its sleeve (yes, THAT misfortune in the bakery) but overall, it is an homage to the ones that came before. It’s campy and predictable, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun romp for sure. It’s a surprisingly brutal installment to the seasoned anthology horror genre. I am curious to see what else the creators plan on dishing out in the rumored future installments. Also, it is the only film on this list to have LGBTQ representation–something the horror genre struggles with–so major props to them.

The Mortuary COllection

Anthology Horror
Jacob Elordi in The Mortuary Collection (2019), Trapdoor Pictures

The newest addition to this list as well as the only one tied to an exclusive subscription, this is a fun and creative–though predictable–horror film through the subscription Shudder. Shudder just recently did a revamp on Creepshow, and while it is not on this list, it is a worthy revival that I cannot recommend more. Anyways, I just watched this recently and really enjoyed it! It has a lot of good twists and turns, and is one of the more gorier ones on the list, so if you’re into more intense horror, especially body horror, this one should be on your watchlist.

American Horror Story Seasons 1 & 2

Anthology Horror
American Horror Story: Murder House (2011), FX Television

Finally, here is the beginning of the series. I absolutely adore these first two seasons and their rewatchability factor is extremely high. I’ve seen the first season multiple times, so much so that it has become a comfort show of mine, and as far as critical acclaim goes, the second season is the best of the whole series, even with its wacky tangents. There is also a complexity in characters between the first two seasons, brilliantly acted by Zachary Quinto, Jessica Lange, Lily Rabe and Evan Peters. It has its touch of cheesiness, but that can be expected from a horror series made the same creator that made Glee. Nevertheless, this was and still remains to be highly influential horror television.

V/H/S

Anthology Horror
V/H/S (2012), Bloody Disgusting

This film started the reign of Brad Miska in regards to horror anthology of the 2010s. Miska served as producer of this iconic found-footage anthology film and with the involvement of Bloody Disgusting, this film was met with wide acclaim from horror audiences. With the most notable segment “Amateur’s Night” being the launchpad of director David Bruckner, it is one of the more disturbing films on this list and definitely doesn’t fall into a “starter-horror” situation. Instead, this is catered to the commonly-desensitized horror fan that is looking for a good scare.

Southbound

Anthology Horror
Southbound (2015), Willowbrook Regent Films

As I mentioned in the previous segment, the films from this team are not for the faint of heart. Southbound is more of a flowing cinematic anthology rather than the found-footage format that Miska started out with. It brings back most of the directors from V/H/S as they tell ghastly stories centered around a wild batch of characters. In describing the impact of this film, I have only watched once, which was about five years ago. The visuals and stories were so impactful, that it skyrocketed to the top of my mental list when brainstorming for the topic. This was definitely a sleeper hit in 2015, and I encourage the strong stomached to check it out.

Goosebumps/Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Anthology Horror
Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990-1996), Nickelodeon Productions

This is as “starter-horror” as it gets. Both Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? established whether or not millennials liked to be scared or not. Both mild yet creepy, it is no coincidence that both have experienced reboots in one form or another to enlighten today’s younger audience. They offer nostalgia to many audiences and most people under the age of 35 can say that one of these series got them into horror.

Tales from the Crypt

Anthology Horror
Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996), Home Box Office

A classic serving us an icon that was The Cryptkeeper. Horror fans and 90s kids alike remember Tales from the Crypt fondly. It was an anthology series based of the same comics that inspired other works such as Creepshow. It also brought in a multitude of talent to tell different stories each week, hosted by the iconic puppet host The Cryptkeeper. With tales laced with cheesiness, every episode I watched held up brilliantly. Therefore I consider it still a delight to watch as a horror fan.

V/H/S 2

Anthology Horror
V/H/S 2 (2013), Bloody Disgusting

This is one of those sequels that improves upon the original. In this film’s case, it gets scarier and to put it in to crude terms: it goes batshit crazy. Even more creative short films with all the knobs that made the previous film function turned up to 11. V/H/S 2 will stand as a staple for the cross between found footage and anthology, and while there are some that have come after that have tried to out do it (i.e. The Poughkeepsie Tapes, which is just tasteless gore and disgusting just to be disgusting), none will make your heart thump like this one.

The Haunting Series

Anthology Horror
The Haunting of Hill House (2016), Netflix

The only horror series that I will ever advise to have tissues with you at all times is the Haunting stories. Mike Flanagan–our modern horror saint–takes the chilling classic tales of The Haunting of Hill House and The Turn of the Screw and with his careful personal touches, crafts terrifying, melancholic masterpieces. The Haunting series have loveable characters, terrifying ghosts and is also one of the most diverse casts in the horror scene as of late, including a beautiful Sapphic love story in The Haunting of Bly Manor. Again, bring tissues with you, especially for Bly Manor.

Tales from the Hood

Anthology Horror
Tales from the Hood (1995), 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks

This film has been and is currently seeping with social relevance, that it deserves a high spot on this list. The first story is particularly disturbing following the recent events that occurred in 2020 and sadly has become a classic that has been swept under the rug. The director and writer Rusty Cundieff would go on to direct Chapelle’s Show ten years later, which was a brilliant choice given his stylistic directing showcased in this film. Much like the other films that came out in the 90s focusing on the Black community, it is a direct reflection on today’s times and how things have not changed that much. Please go watch this film if you haven’t.

Creepshow

Anthology Horror
Creepshow (1982), Laurel Show Inc.

A-ha, the blueprint of anthology horror as a singular film makes its appearance in the top three, of course. This lovely brainchild of Stephen King and George A. Romero is a cheesy delight, and remains the posterchild of anthology horror. The use of original storytelling in the height of Stephen King adaptations paid off well for the movie’s success and budget. While you’ll giggle at times, it remains one of those cult classics that will stand the test of time, which its sequel and its very recent reboot through Shudder proved. You can’t wear your horror badge too proudly if you haven’t sat through this one.

Trick ‘r’ Treat

Anthology Horror
Trick ‘r’ Treat (2007), Legendary Pictures

This film has a very special place in my heart and the fact I’ve seen a rapid increase of merchandise come Halloween time proves it has found its footing in more mainstream horror. This is one of those films that survives the phenomenon of straight-to-DVD due to its creative storytelling, format and aesthetic. Michael Dougherty is responsible for this film, with it being a precursor to his more well known holiday horror Krampus. Upon my discovery of this movie in 2009, there is not a Halloween that goes by that I do not watch this movie at least once. Please watch it if you haven’t, and for those that have made it tradition like me, rock on. Now let’s hope that sequel comes out soon.

The twilight Zone

Anthology Horror
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), CBS Productions

It was mentioned in the introduction, therefore it needs to top this list. This is the only suitable place for this revolutionary TV show to go, as we would not have the formatting for anthology horror without it. Rod Serling was a master storyteller, providing nearly every story for the show in its 150-plus episode run. His craft proved brilliant by the generations that The Twilight Zone crosses, whether it be copious amounts of reboots trying to revive that originaal charm or a kid recognizing the theme song from Disneyland, The Twilight Zone will forever remain a classic as well as the golden standard on how to put short story to screen.


Thus the epic (but limited to my personal knowledge) list comes to a close, with the reminder that there is so much more to come from this genre and what we can hope for in regards to innovation in the subgenre of anthology horror. That’s it for this journey, but definitely not the last you’ve heard of these films from me. As we depart the void, let me know in the comments what films I missed and I’ll make sure to check them out and update the list as time goes on. Until next time…