Out of an immense love of Halloween (and an abundance of free time), follow along as I try to achieve one of the dumbest and most pointless arbitrary goals I’ve ever set for myself; watching 31 horror films the month of October leading up until Halloween. The rules are simple: 31 films throughout the month, multiple films per day are allowed, so long as 20 of the films are films that are being watched for the first time. Why? Because. If you have suggestions for films I should watch, either leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter.
Halloween’s come and gone. Did I do it? Was I successfully able to watch 31 horror films in the month of October for the first time ever? Did I finally make good on a blogging promise? Well, I don’t know how to say this but….
In the end, I fell five films short. Five. That’s seven and a half hours hours. Thinking back, I could have easily found the time somewhere in the last month to fit in those films. That said, I’m not mad or disappointed or anything like that. If nothing else, I now have a legitimate failed attempt under my belt and I know what things to do and what not to do when attempting something like this. If you’re thinking of doing this in the future, follow this handy advice to help you avoid some of the problems I encountered:
- Don’t rely on Netflix. While Netflix’s streaming options once contained a sea of great horror films, those days are no more. While some of the movies I found on here were great and will crack my Halloween rotation (Maniac), most were pretty horrible and forgettable (Hellgate). While the DVD service has pretty much everything you could ever want, the turnaround is just too long unless you’re getting DVDs that have multiple films on them like I was looking for.
- Hit up your local Best Buy. Look, I hate Best Buy just as much as the next guy, but they have some pretty amazing sales in October for horror films. I’m talking “$5 for Evil Dead II on Blu-Ray” kind of sales. You can easily go to Best Buy with $30 and walk out with a week’s worth of films on Blu-Ray.
- Watch the classics/your favorites. Around the time I was watching Apollo 18 and Paranormal Activity 4, I began to regret my decision to use this as an opportunity to introduce myself to new films. The last thing you want to do is burn yourself out early after a string of shit. Stick to your favorites or the films generally regarded as classics and, chances are, burnout won’t be a problem.
- Plan a course of attack. I went into this woefully unprepared. I didn’t plan out what I was going to watch, make a list of films to see, or even check to see what was on Netflix. As a result, I watched shit like Apollo 18, Paranormal Activity 4, and Hellgate when I ran out of ideas. Don’t do that. Make a list. See what’s on streaming and what’s in your personal collection so you can queue up your DVD list and allow for lost days for mailing. While you might be able to wing a film or two here and there, come prepared.
Am I going to try this again? Certainly. But I’m glad I have a full 11 months to prepare this time.
Now with that out of the way, let’s look at the last batch of films:
Film #21: House of the Devil
Verdict: I don’t know if this should technically count as a re-watch or not because I fell asleep the first time I tried to watch House of the Devil a few years back, but man, this film is slow. Like insanely, “what the hell was Ti West thinking when he made this movie?” slow. There are certainly things I liked about this film. The ’80′s occult theme was interesting and the vibe of that film fit with that theme beautifully. The reveal/ending were amazing. But there’s literally almost 40 minutes of this film where the protagonist is just walking around a house she’s housesitting while almost nothing happens. I was torched on Twitter about how this is supposed to be “slow-burn horror” but dear God, I couldn’t handle it. You’ve been warned.
Films #22 & 23: The Alien Factor/Fiend
Verdict: Next up was a double shot from camp director Don Dohler. I had seen a documentary about Dohler a while back called Blood, Boobs & Beast but had never seen a Dohler film up until now. I’m glad I finally got around to checking him out, but these two films were a lot of stupid fun. Both are extremely low-budget, yet the special effect work manages to be charming despite it’s complete absurdity. The Alien Factor was easily the superior of the two films and was actually entertaining enough to where I’d recommend it to any genre fans. Fiend was a bit slower and lacked the special effect work that The Alien Factor had, so I’d hesitate slightly to recommend it to as many people, but thankfully the two share a DVD so you can make the decision to watch or not on your own.
Film #24: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Verdict: I’ve been hearing great things about this film seemingly forever, but every time I’d pass it in my Netflix queue I’d look at the cover, read the title, shrug and move on. I now regret that decision. Despite it’s terrible name and hoaky looking cover, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is actually a pretty great little film. Think of this as the average “killer hillbilly” movie, only it’s told from the perspective of those hillbillies and they don’t happen to be evil killers at all. Tucker and Dale just ordinary, good dudes who happen to be misunderstood by some terrible dudebro frat boys on a camping trip. The title makes no sense, and the premise gets worn a little thin by the end, but all-in-all, this was a pretty enjoyable little movie. Don’t overlook it for years like I did.
Film #25: Hellgate
Verdict: I thought that maybe after the double-shot of Dohler that I could stumble across some more great VHS-era horror films, so I fired this up one afternoon. Holy shit don’t ever make that mistake. There’s pretty much nothing redeeming about this film at all. And to be completely honest, that’s really all the time I want to spend discussing this turd. Just don’t do it. Stay away.
Film #26: The Others
Verdict: Strangely enough, I’ve owned this movie for about two years and just now got around to watching it. Back in my days reviewing films for Bloody Good Horror, I got a screener copy of this on Blu-Ray, but was beaten to the punch reviewing it by another writer. So it sat, forgotten, buried in a box under copies of films called Death Tube, Psycho Shark and Mongolian Death Worm. Then, @spacefunmars started to hound me about how great a film this was. So I dug it up and gave it a watch. And you know what, he was right. Even though I had the film spoiled for me, it still managed to be a pretty atmospheric, tragic little film. Definitely worth all the hype it got that when it came out all those years ago that I ignored for over a decade.
Film #27: The Changeling
Verdict: The Changeling is another one that I’ve been hearing about for years that I decided to finally sit down and watch. And again, I wasn’t disappointed. Normally, I don’t like ghost stories, but this one is well done enough to get me over my general dislike of the genre. This even happens to be my least favorite kind of ghost story (the “avenge my murder and I’ll stop haunting you” story), but it was creepy and moody enough to draw me in. This is definitely a bit on the slower end so I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but if you’re a fan of mystery/suspense films or love a good ghost story, this is one for you.
At a Glance
Films Watched: 27
Films Missed: 5
Re-Watches: 6 (The Shining, Vampire’s Kiss, Troll 2, Evil Dead (2013), Re-Animator, House of the Devil)
Best Film: The Shining
Worst Film: Hellgate
In addition to Goodspeed & Poe, Angelo covers the Cavaliers at Fear the Sword, is working on a novel, and spends way too much time on Twitter. He lives in his native Cleveland with his Netflix account and PlayStation.