It’s heeeeeeere! As horror fans, every day is Halloween. But October is the month where the rest of the world joins us in celebrating blood and guts and pumpkins and piles of leaves and cool nights. As AMC shits the bed with Fearfest, TCM has really stepped up and honored the greatest film genre in existence (check out their line-up here).
Elliot, Trey, and I are gathering up our watch lists, and you’ll get to see their lists later this week, but I thought I’d kick off the week with my #31DaysOfHorror. The first two years I did this, my lists were composed of movies I’d never seen. Last year my list was made up of all movies I’d seen that put me in the mood for the season. This year I’m splitting the difference with nearly half of the movies on my list being discoveries (new to me), and half being movies I love. As always, click on the blu-ray image to go to Amazon and purchase the movie while supporting The Basement. Without further ado…
Oct. 1 – The American Scream (2012, Michael Paul Stephenson)
By Oct. 1, I proudly admit that I will have watched this wonderful documentary at least a dozen times. I say that without hyperbole. As I work in the Prop Shop (my garage) getting indoor decor and yard display props ready for the season, I plug my phone into my speakers, and turn on this touching story about three families that go nuts for Halloween by setting up home haunts. I guarantee that you will enjoy this.
Oct. 2 – Phantasm (1979, Don Coscarelli)
Like warm cider coating your insides and warming you up on a chilly autumn day, Coscarelli’s indie [dare I say] masterpiece is absolute comfort food for me. It’s the elbow grease, passion, and DIY attitude that is highlighted here, but it’s also the characters and the love they have for one another that Coscarelli has so beautifully crafted. I regret not seeing this until three years ago, but since then [oddly enough] it’s one of my go-to feel-good movies.
Oct. 3 – Don’t Look Now (1973, Nicolas Roeg)
And here we come to the first discovery on my list. The Basement is lucky enough to partner up with the Alamo Drafthouse again this year, and this is one of two films I’m most excited to see on the big screen. To see a film on 35mm is one of life’s greatest treats, but knowing that it’s on loan from the British Film Institute makes it that much sweeter. I plan to have my heart broken and my creeps crawling from this tale of grief.
Oct. 4 – The Innkeepers (2011, Ti West)
A film that will no doubt end up on my Top 10 list of discoveries at the end of the year, Ti West has solidified his place in the pantheon of great directors with this ghost story. The hotel itself oozes Halloween. Kelly McGillis is a perfect usher for the season. And the score by Jeff Grace sets my heart aflutter with autumnal warmth.
Oct. 5 – Dawn of the Dead (1978, George A. Romero)
This classic film is… *gulp… a blindspot for me. My name is Anthony and I’ve never seen Dawn of the Dead. But dammit I plan on watching my glorious double VHS of it on October 5th. I’m trying not to set my expectations too high, but I’ve waited all year to watch this during #31DaysOfHorror and the anticipation is just coursing through my veins.
Oct. 6 – The Houses October Built (2014, Bobby Roe)
Can we all admit the found footage sub-genre is a dead horse that we’ve kicked into an equine stew? I understand it’s a cheap way to get a film made, and FF movies have their jump scare moments. But it’s time to “re-invent” this genre. THOB is nothing groundbreaking. It’s your standard FF horror movie. But if this movie doesn’t scream Halloween than I don’t know what does. The mythology behind it is as (or more) interesting than the movie itself: extreme haunted houses in the BFE south. I’m in.
Oct. 7 – Burial Ground (1981, Andrea Bianchi)
Here’s another discovery that I’ve been planning on saving since I saw it pop up on Shudder this year. I even avoided reading Elliot’s review (which you should definitely read; I’ll read it after I finally see the movie). Since Elliot reviewed it, I expect a soupy movie, and I can’t WAIT to watch it.
Oct. 8 – Fright Night (1985, Tom Holland)
If Phantasm is comfort food for me, Fright Night is the basket of warm buttered rolls that go along with the meal. I put this on just the other night as I was working on something. From the soundtrack to Evil Ed’s laugh, it’s all just so soothing. This movie even contains within it three of my all-time favorite side characters – Mrs. Brewster, Billy Cole, and Det. Lennox. And the box art is one that was burned into my brain from when I was kid in the video store.
Oct. 9 – The Wolf Man (1941, George Waggner)
Don’t shoot me, but I’ve never seen this classic Universal monster movie. In fact, I’ve only seen two Universal monster movies (Dracula and Frankenstein). But now’s the perfect time since Best Buy released all the Universal Monsters in fancy new SteelBooks. My favorite part about monster movies is that they tend to explore humanity and the human condition, and The Wolf Man leads the pack (pun intended) in that regard.
Oct. 10 – Trick ‘r Treat (2007, Michael Dougherty)
Uh, hello? Daugherty has created THE movie of the season for a new generation. I hadn’t seen this until last year and it will forever be a part of my autumnal cannon. I can’t wait to show it to my son [in a few years]. Sam has become the Halloween mascot, and just like those before him – Freddy, Jason, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, Dracula – is now a universal symbol for the season.
Oct. 11 – The Blob (1988, Chuck Russell)
Earlier this year I watched the 1958 original starring Steve McQueen for the first time ever. Now it’s only fair that I see the remake that carries with it the moniker of “special effects masterpiece.” We’ve been disappointed time and time again by remake after remake, but knowing the acclaim behind this Chuck Russell schlockfest, I know I won’t be let down.
Oct. 12 – Rawhead Rex (1986, George Pavlou)
Let me admit something: I’d never even HEARD of this until earlier this year. I first heard Becca mention it on Shock Waves, and have avoided learning anything about it since hearing her love for it. I’m serious. I know NOTHING about it. I assume it’s about a dinosaur, but I could be completely wrong. Please don’t tell me because I’ll be experiencing it for the first time through the brand new 4k restoration at Alamo on Oct. 12.
Oct. 13 – Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Roman Polanski)
Masterpiece. There is no other word for this film. From the title sequence to the end credits, Polanski proves that he’s creative genius. With perfect performances from Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, and Ruth Gordon, a masterful score by Krzysztof Komeda, and classic photography of New York City shot by William A. Fraker, Rosemary’s Baby is an absolute must-watch.
Oct. 14 – Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento)
And now the second movie I’m most excited to see on the big screen this year… Saw it once. Fucking loved it. Heard they were doing a restoration of it. Vowed to never watch it again until I could see said restoration. That time has come thanks to Synapse and Alamo. Presented in all new 4k, I will get to see Argento’s masterpiece on the big screen in pristine high-definition. This was the first movie that made me realize what a cinematographer really does. Join me on Saturday, Oct. 14 to experience a movie in a way you’ve never seen it.
Oct. 15 – Tales of Halloween (2015, various)
This fun anthology pales in comparison to Mike Daugherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, but that’s a pretty high bar to surpass. Tales is a collaboration of several genre filmmakers featuring the sultry-voiced narration of Adrienne Barbeau. Dave Parker’s segment Sweet Tooth is the obvious highlight of the movie, but as a whole this ode to the greatest holiday of them all is so entertaining.
Oct. 16 – Hocus Pocus (1993, Kenny Ortega)
There are two movies on this list that I plan to watch with my five-year-old son, Eben. This Disney romp is one of them. I was 11 years old when this came out and it hit all the right spots in my nerdy youth (who am I kidding, I’m still a giant nerd). When I was still working at the church, this was an annual viewing with my after school kids. Most (if not all) of them had never seen it, so it was always a pleasure seeing kids of today still get a kick out of Bette, SJP, and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson Sisters.
Oct. 17 – Dawn of the Dead (2004, Zack Snyder)
Blindspot. Naturally, if I’m watching Romero’s original for the first time, why not include Snyder’s remake. Many love it and consider it one of the greatest remakes of all time, and I’m glad I picked the DVD up for $2 a few months ago. Some say the zombie sub-genre is waining. I say gimme more.
Oct. 18 – The Hearse (1980, George Bowers)
What? Who? Why? Because. That’s my answer. The fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome put this forgotten spook tale out a few months ago, and we talked about it on the show. Ever since then I’ve wanted to see it. There’s a high chance that it won’t be good. But it just seemed like the perfect movie to watch this season.
Oct. 19 – Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)
If you don’t watch Carpenter’s classic this season, you’ve failed us all. I will never not love this film. Every. Single. Thing. It’s a perfect movie.
Oct. 20 – The Lords of Salem (2012, Rob Zombie)
If you don’t watch this this season, you’ve failed us all. I’m kidding. Many of you hate this movie. And you know what? That’s ok. You probably don’t love Rob Zombie as much as I do. I won’t rehash everything I’ve already stated, but Lords – just like The Innkeepers – just emits a sense of Halloween through the screen.
Oct. 21 – Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981, Frank De Felitta)
Whereas Suspiria and Don’t Look Now are the two films I’m most excited to see at the theatre this year, DNotS is quite possibly the movie I’m most excited to see on the small screen on this list. It’s probably not going to be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I may even be a little disappointed. But there’s just something about the title? The poster? I just don’t know. All I know is that Daena sold it really well, and I’m super excited to watch it.
Oct. 22 – Twins of Evil (1971, John Hough)
Unfortunately I won’t be able to see this at the Alamo to kick off Drafthouse of Horrors, so I’ll just have to watch it on Amazon Prime. I’m a sucker for the Hammer classics, and Peter Cushing is always a welcome presence on my screen.
Oct. 23 – The Exorcist (1973, William Friedkin)
I haven’t watched Friedkin’s classic film about a little girl that gets possessed by a demon in a couple years. Now’s the time, folks. I’m so excited to get scared again. And I’m excited to watch it with an analytical eye, to really appreciate the craftsmanship and art behind one of the scariest movies of all time. I’m currently reading the William Peter Blatty novel in preparation, and it’s only heightening my anticipation.
Oct. 24 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, Francis Ford Coppola)
I have never seen Coppola’s take on Dracula. I had nightmares as a child featuring Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the vampire just from seeing trailers, so maybe that’s what scared me away from it. I just can’t say. But now I own the very Blu-ray you see above, and I plan to watch this shit out of this.
Oct. 25 – The Monster Squad (1987, Fred Dekker)
Here we have the second movie I’ll be watching with Eben. I remember seeing this when I was his age, and just being entranced by the mythology of these monsters I was seeing. I loved this movie so much as kid that I even got up in front of my fourth grade class and gave a presentation warning my fellow classmates not to talk to anyone named Alucard.
Oct. 26 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994, Kenneth Branaugh)
*See two movies above.
Oct. 27 – Return of the Living Dead (1985, Dan O’Bannon)
This was the last movie I added to the list for this year. I saw it for the first time last October when Derek Dillon made his first appearance on the show. I was almost ashamed to admit I’d never seen it, but there are a lot of movies to watch, folks. Sometimes, you just can’t see ’em all. But I have rectified that since, and I’m so excited to revisit it again this year.
Oct. 28 – Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982, Tommy Lee Wallace)
October 31 is THE big day at our house which means I won’t be seeing this at the Alamo that night in illustrious 35mm. I’m still baffled by people that don’t like this movie. No, it’s not “great.” It’s entertaining as FUCK, though, and that’s why I, and countless others, love it so much. I love it so much, in fact, that this will be the fourth time I’ve seen this year. You never need an excuse to just stare at Tom Atkins.
Oct. 29 – Cathy’s Curse (1977, Eddy Matalon)
The movie you’ve never heard of that you HAVE to see. It’s not good. It’s a complete rip-off of The Exorcist. These are all things I’ve heard well-respected critics say about Cathy’s Curse. These are all things that are selling points for me. Shudder has the exclusive restoration Severin did for their Blu-ray, and I’m going to try and enjoy this one with a few friends.
Oct. 30 – The House On Haunted Hill (1959, William Castle)
William Castle is a Halloween staple in our house. This is a list of 31 movies, but there will no doubt be more than 31 movies viewed this October. William Castle and Vincent Price will make several appearances. HOHH is the first black and white movie I ever really appreciated thanks to my mom. And I’ve watched it every year around Halloween since that day in high school.
Oct. 31 – Van Helsing (2004, Stephen Sommers)
I don’t care. Say it. Call me an idiot for liking this movie. I just don’t care. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Hugh Jackman? Kate Beckinsale is incredibly hot? Shuler Hensley’s portrayal of Frankenstein’s Monster is one of my favorites? Yes. To all of those questions. Theo opening scene of Jackman’s Van Helsing chasing a computer animated Mr. Hyde through the rooftops of London is so fucking fun to me. I honestly don’t understand the hate this movie gets. Is it a true adaptation of these classic stories? Absolutely not. But it’s pure popcorn, and this is how I will start my Halloween day.