31 Days of Horror: Let’s Kick it Off

Can you feel that? It’s finally October, and now I am finally able to say it is spooky season. This means a month-long horror movie marathon: The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Days of Horror. Most of the time, it’s a casual viewing or rewatch, maybe with some popcorn. But sometimes, you want to make a night out of it. Each week, I’m going to go over the calendar posted below and pair a snack and cocktail with each movie I designated for the day and what movie I would pair with each film for a double feature. Posted below is the calendar for the whole month. Let’s get things started!

As you can see, this year is the first year of The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Nights of Horror. Therefore, it is a whole lot of standards and not a lot of style (forgive my mediocre Excel skills). I’ve realized that I have a lot of fans that may not be horror fanatics, and I want the first to always be the one that people can come back to for some strong recommendations, even if it isn’t October yet. I’m looking forward to these breakdowns, as I can offer double features that are a bit more niche for fanatics to possibly replace the one listed, or walk down memory lane and then possibly find something new. Anyways, on to Week One

You can find Week 2 here and Week 3 here.

October 1st: The Cabin In the Woods

31 Days of Horror

I firmly believe Joss Whedon is a misogynistic asshole. However, that does not deter my love for his writing and craftmanship. That applies to this movie, which feels like an ode to all things horror. This film focuses on five college kids go on a trip to a cabin in the woods and horrific events ensue. Sound familiar? Like almost someone else was copying and pasting tropes into a program that controls the scenario? Hmm… In avoidance of potential spoilers, The Cabin in the Woods is a romp and a love letter to the filmmakers that came before. In particular Sam Rami, as the comedic elements and cabin itself seem to reference the Evil Dead series. I think it’s also a great meta-horror to kick of the season chock full of spooky familiarity.

Pairings for this film include a Summer Shandy (or an Arnold Palmer if alcohol isn’t your choice) and Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos, as they scream frat house with a little bit of class. As for double feature, the sequel/remake is on the calendar already, so go ahead and pop in Sam Rami’s original The Evil Dead, and enjoy the grape-soda-looking blood fest that comes from this extremely low budget masterpiece that made a legend.

OCtober 2nd: A Nightmare on Elm Street

This rare 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' deleted scene sheds new light on the  film | Movie News | SBS Movies

It’s a Saturday, and it’s time for slashers. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a classic filled to the brim with bloodshed and 80’s cheesiness. Therefore, I thought it was a good place to start in regards to slashers. A group of high school kids from a small Midwest town start having crazy vivid dreams. Funny enough, they have the same antagonist, a mangled man with knives for hands known as Freddy Krueger. Once they realized that these dreams can in fact kill them, they try everything they can to put a stop to it, even if it means never sleeping again. It’s cheesy, it’s creative and it’s always a fun watch every time so therefore it had to be featured.

Kick off with the original, skip the second one (even though it is glorious, you can find out a bit more on my past blog post LGBTQ+ Representation: An Overview of the Horror) and have A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors as the double feature for this film. This is the sequel that matches the energy, creativity and the scares of the first one. It also has the iconic “Prime time, bitch!” scene in it, so if you’ve never seen that, it’s a must. As far as drinks go, the cocktail of choice is of course an Irish Coffee (a coffee with brown sugar would be a great virgin alternative) as you need that caffeine to hopefully never sleep again. The featured snack is going to be Little Smokies, as fire is quite a big role in this film.

October 3rd: Devil

Devil (2010) review
Yes, it does take place in 2010, so the smartphone and the flashlight on it were not in wide distribution.

This film is scary on so many levels, and not only because it takes place primarily in an elevator. A group of five strangers are going about their day when they are stuck in a broken down elevator. While waiting for a maintenance team, things starts to go awry as their secrets seemingly are forced out by a darker force greater than themselves. Written by M. Night Shyamalan, you can only expect twists and turns in this intense, condensed story.

On the topic of seemingly cursed mundane things, the double feature I pair with this film is Oculus. You can read more on Oculus in my rundown of Mike Flanagan works. Since it has to do with a tall building, I’m going to keep up with the wordplay and pair a Manhattan with this film (you can find the virgin variation here). Since the cocktail is an elegant, class it up with Fig, Goat Cheese, & Caramelized Onion Flatbread or dress it down with some Homemade Popcorn Chicken, preferably dipped in something smoky and spicy.

October 4th: The Thing

The Thing movie remake confirmed

While I usually throw this one on in November due to its snowy setting, this never fails to give me a good scare. Taking place in the seemingly barren Antarctica, a group or American researchers are disturbed by a seemingly helicopter attack. They take in a sled dog that was seemingly running away from the attack, unknowingly inviting in the very thing that will manipulate and try to pick them off one by one. It’s a story that leans on the paranoia both of the characters and the viewer, and it is a Carpenter classic. It also features amazing special effects in regards to the practical medium.

This film always makes me feel extremely cold, so warm up with a Hot Buttered Rum or a Buttered Not Rum Mocktail. Keep the cozy up with some Salted Caramel Popcorn. Leaning on the sweets helps with the paranoid feeling, but if you want to keep the creeps up, throw on 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Good luck not side eyeing your movie buddies due to the heightened paranoia in the room.

October 5th: The Fog

John Carpenter's The Fog - Trailer (HD) (1980) - YouTube

We are sticking with John Carpenter the next day (sorry not sorry) and going to two years back to The Fog. Bodega Bay is a seemingly ordinary town, but it has its ghost stories. All normalcy disappears as a fog rolls into the bay, causing a sequence of terrifying events to the residents of this coastal town. Carpenter is known for his suspenseful horror, and this film delivers that with a mildly violent touch. It’s one of the unsung heroes in Carpenter’s discography, and deserves more recognition. Also, avoid the remake at all costs, it’s god awful.

With a name like Bodega Bay, you almost would want a drink from a bodega boy. Therefore, I’m pairing a Bay Breeze cocktail with this movie (here’s a Hurricane Mocktail as a yummy alternative). As far as keeping the creeps up at sea, my double feature pairing for this film is Below, as the scares continue under the water rather than on the shore.

October 6th: What we do in the shadows

What We Do in the Shadows: See the first three minutes of short that  inspired the film | EW.com

Now, it can’t be all horrifying. I may be depraved, but I definitely still like to laugh. Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows is a brilliant mockumentary, not absent of gore and some mild jumpscares. Follow Viago, Deacon and Vladislav as they room together in New Zealand and have to take a rather annoying new vampire under their wings (bat wings, of course). This film has spun off into a very successful TV show on FX, but nothing quite beats the original troop as the chemistry between long time friends Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi carry this film to hilarious heights.

With this film, you got to have ‘pasketti, or try it in bite size forms such as these Easy Spaghetti and Meatball Appetizers. And due to Vladislav being deadly but delicious, steal a Vampire’s Kiss cocktail while you’re at it. Or if you’re in the more wholesome mood like Viago, go for the Vampire Margarita Mocktail. To keep on delightful vampire tales, the obvious double feature to this is Fright Night, which while I prefer the original, the remake is not bad at all and has amazing performances, including one from the late Anton Yelchin.

October 7th: Hush

Hush | Netflix

Alright, time to crank it up again. Yes, this is another Mike Flanagan film. Yes, I adore his work and will not shut up about him. Hush is an intense modern slasher full of creative moves and smart writing, Our final girl here is deaf and mute, and while the killer tries to use that to his best advantage, she is able to stay right on top of him due to her quick thinking and creative counterattacks. It’s an intense game of bloodsplattered chess that will keep you on the edge of your seat for its entire runtime. It also doesn’t wear off in rewatches, so if you’re thinking of skipping this one because you already saw it, think again and have some fun.

The double feature that comes to mind that can take the mind of depravity but amps up the gore is Ready or Not, another brilliant cat-and-mouse game with ridiculousness sprinkled in there. Since both of these films feature spicy and smart heroines, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers seem to be the move in this blood fest. Pair that greasy grub with the Best Ever Bloody Mary Recipe (remove the vodka for a mocktail, spicy tomato juice can really hit the spot) and you got yourselves a bloodbath.

Until Next time on 31 Days of horror…

There you have it, the first seven days filled with tasty treats, delectable drinks and a multitude of films. Join us next Friday on The Void of Celluloid as we delve into the next seven films. In the meantime, the Mother of the Void (mi madre) posted earlier this week on the wild film The Black Cat and will have a new post this Wednesday for the film Cat People, a wild film with amazing, poignant subtext. You can find that here on The Void of Celluloid. Happy Spooky Season and thanks for spelunking this void with me.

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.

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…