Entries Tagged 'SHOCKtober 2020' ↓

SHOCKtober: 121-94



Holy moly, today we're cracking the top 100 faves! Holier molier, there are only a handful of days left. It's true what they say, SHOCKtober flies when you're something something whatever.

The following films received eight votes each!

121. Child's Play -- 1988, Tom Holland
120. Dead Alive (aka Braindead) -- 1992, Peter Jackson
119. Freaks -- 1932, Tod Browning
118. House on Haunted Hill -- 1959, William Castle
117. Interview with the Vampire -- 1994, Neil Jordan
116. Lake Mungo -- 2008, Joel Anderson
115. Mulholland Dr. -- 2001, David Lynch
114. My Bloody Valentine -- 1981, George Mihalka
113. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge -- 1985, Jack Sholder
112. Peeping Tom -- 1960, Michael Powell
111. Phenomena -- 1985, Dario Argento
110. Silver Bullet -- 1985, Daniel Attias
109. The Blackcoat's Daughter (aka February) -- 2015, Oz Perkins
108. The Craft -- 1996, Andrew Fleming
107. The Lords of Salem -- 2012, Rob Zombie
106. The Strangers -- 2008, Bryan Bertino

Each of the following films received nine votes!

105. A Tale of Two Sisters -- 2003, Jee-woon Kim
104. Black Swan -- 2010, Darren Aronofsky
103. Day of the Dead -- 1985, George A. Romero
102. Friday the 13th Part III -- 1982, Steve Miner
101. Paranormal Activity -- 2007, Oren Peli
100. Pontypool -- 2008, Bruce McDonald
  99. Ravenous -- 1999, Antonia Bird
  98. Re-Animator -- 1985, Stuart Gordon
  97. The Devil's Backbone -- 2001, Guillermo del Toro
  96. The Invitation -- 2015, Karyn Kusama
  95. The Wailing -- 2016, Hong-jin Na
  94. Videodrome -- 1983, David Cronenberg

  • FUCK YEAH THE WAILING. Epic movie, I love love love it. 
  • Of Re-Animator, a reader says: "Did green ooze before Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and has the same energy, you can’t change my mind." 
  • Shout out to my eight Lake Mungo peeps, who clearly have exquisite taste in horror films.
  • "Even without a vibrator under your chair or a rubber skeleton floating across the room on a string, it still manages to be fun and creepy," says a wise reader about House on Haunted Hill. That movie is such a good-timey blast no matter how or where you see it, but man, I'd sure love to see it in a theatre and get the full William Castle experience!

FAVE 20: Mats Strandberg




Author Mats Strandberg has been called "the Swedish Stephen King" and while that is certainly a compliment, maybe Stephen King is the American Mats Strandberg, huh? Did you ever think about that? You should! But I get it: Mats's stuff is character driven and scary. But unlike Stephen King, Mats populates his work with characters that aren't so...I don't know, homogenous. Look! Comparisons aren't entirely useful. But if you give Mats's Blood Cruise a whirl--it's out in the US today!!--then you'll see what I mean. It's 'vampires on a booze cruise,' it's scary, it's gory, and it's a lot of fun (I really, really need Blood Cruise to be a mini-series, thanks), and I love that his characters that might be considered disposable in other works are really given a time to shine. I can't recommend the book enough, so I won't try! You lucky Europeans have access to more of his work (including The Home, which is out now in the UK)...have fun reading it while waiting for your free healthcare, you savages!

PET SEMATARY (1989, Mary Lambert)


When I grew up, my mother was very ill. I loved her, but her pain sometimes made her into something scary, something I didn't recognize. It was a fear that dared not speak its name. I couldn't have put it into words even if I had wanted to. Seeing Zelda in Pet Sematary traumatized me, but I kept going back to those short scenes with her, again and again. I was 13 and didn't understand it then, but it was the first time that I used fictional horror as a release for very real anxieties. That's why this movie, flaws and all, will always be closest to my heart.


TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992, David Lynch)


My favourite part of the whole Twin Peaks saga finally puts Laura Palmer front and center. She's the relatable queer martyr we all deserve, trying to save her own soul from the evil clutches of patriarchy.


SUSPIRIA (2018, Luca Guadagnino)


How do I love these mothervolking witches? Let me count the ways. Or actually, I don't have to. The Gaylords of Darkness and this very blog have already done it way better than I ever could. I did try though, in the Suspiria fanzine that Stacie masterminded. (FG note: zine coming next month, woo! I will update with info when available!)


EVENT HORIZON (1997, Paul W.S. Anderson)


This is one of those movies that I keep coming back to, over and over. It is by no means perfect, but the imperfections are part of its magic. It always feels like I just have to watch it one more time, and then I'll somehow be able to unearth the perfect horror movie hidden just beneath the surface. (By the way: I feel the exact same way about another Sam Neill vehicle; Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness from 1994.)


THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955, Charles Laughton)


This dark fairytale is of the most visually stunning movies ever made.

Gets me every time.

Every. God. Damn. Time.


STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997, Paul Verhoeven)


So in about a week, the future of the entire planet is decided in a rigged US election. No biggie, right? There couldn't be a better October to watch this movie.


GET OUT (2017, Jordan Peele)


Speaking of November 2020; I am so, so happy that this movie exists.


HOUR OF THE WOLF (1968, Ingmar Bergman)


It's a bit of a dilemma: Swedes are very proud of Ingmar Bergman. But we look down upon the horror genre. So how to deal with the fact that Bergman made some excellent horror movies? Well, the answer is that we don't talk (or think) about the fact that they're horror movies at all. Instead we throw around terms like "psychosexual" and"dreamlike." or simply call them BERGMAN MOVIES. But Bergman himself loved horror, unapologetically. I think he got a kick out of it when Wes Craven "borrowed" the whole plot of Last House on the Left from Bergman's The Virgin Spring. And Hour of the Wolf is so damn weird and jarring it's no surprise that David Lynch has named it as a big inspiration.


BLITHE SPIRIT (1945, David Lean)


This scratches the same itch as Death Becomes Her (1992) and Addams Family Values (1993) for me; horror-adjacent, family-friendly comedies with very queer undertones. Blithe Spirit is based on a play by Noël Coward, so you know there's going to be campy fun, amazing ladies (both dead and alive) and one-liners galore.


HALLOWEEN: H20 (1997, Steve Miner)


My favourite incarnation of Laurie Strode. I think I might love this movie even more than the original Halloween. Yeah, I said it. *ducks for cover*


THE EXORCIST III (1990, William Peter Blatty)


I will never forgive Stacie and Anthony for the fact that this wasn't part of The Three-ening.


I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (1958, Gene Fowler Jr.)


A newlywed woman discovers that her husband sneaks out at night to meet up with other dudes in the park. Turns out he belongs to an alien species who secretly breed with Earth women. One of my favourite gay-panic movies from the lavender scare era. It's really hilarious or really depressing, depending on how you look at it.


FRIDAY THE 13th PARTS 1-7 (1980-1988)


These movies will always be part of my horror DNA. I will always enjoy them. I tell you what is scary though: going down the rabbit hole of erotic fanfiction about Jason Voorhees.


A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987, Chuck Russell)


By far the best set of queens in any of the major franchise movies. I love all the characters so much.


ALIEN (1979, Ridley Scott)


Yes, Ripley is a queen. That goes without saying. But all the characters are amazing. This movie was a huge inspiration for my book Blood Cruise. On the Baltic Sea, no one can hear you scream either. A cruise ship and a space ship are both isolated settings that you can’t escape from, surrounded by a cold darkness that would kill you if you fell overboard. But my biggest inspiration was the way this movie depicted the crew: tired, unglamorous, human. They never asked to be heroes, but they stepped up when the blood hit the fan.


FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011, Steven Quale)


I have such a sweet spot for this campy franchise. It seems severely underrated in the horror community, but it's ridiculously entertaining with all the deliciously gory slapstick killings. Also: Ali Larter. Also also: The idea of having Death itself as the boogeyman is beyond brilliant. The franchise (created by our fellow gay, Jeffrey Reddick) has its ups and downs, for sure, but number 5 ties it all together beautifully.


THE WITCH (2015, Robert Eggers)


I wouldst like to live deliciously too, please. (By the way, have you seen Daniel Malik who does the voice of Black Phillip? Delicious indeed.)


STAGEFRIGHT (1987, Michele Soavi)


My favourite giallo movie and definitely the gayest.


THE INNOCENTS (1961, Jack Clayton)


Honestly, it was a toss-up between this one, The Haunting (1963) and The Others (2001). I chose this one simply because it came first, and because it was written by Truman Capote.


CURSE OF THE BLAIR WITCH (1999, Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez)


Wait, I'm at the end of the list already and I haven't even mentioned a found footage movie? Even though it's one of my favourite subgenres? Ok. (deep breath in) I promised myself not to overthink this list. I would simply choose the movies that first came to mind. (deep breath out) I could have gone with As Above, So Below (2014) or The Banshee Chapter (2013), or Paranormal Activity 3 (2011), the standout gem of the franchise. But I'll go with this mockumentary, which to me is much scarier than the movie it was made to promote.

SHOCKtober: 150-122



Boy oh boy, things are getting ever more exciting by the day as we continue counting down 951 of your favorite movies, all the way to your #1 (by an overwhelming margin), Amityville: It's About Time

OH DANG, spoiler, sorry. Although...you had to expect it, right? The wordplay of the title alone is enough to earn it top spot. They could have called it Amityville: It's About a Clock, because it is, but It's About Time is so much classier and it also really makes u think. 

Well, I guess we should all try to maintain some excitement as we barrel through these last 150 movies. After all, it's the journey, not the destination, you guys. Final Girl: really makin' u think, as always.

Each of the following films received six votes!

150. Raw (aka Grave) -- 2016, Julia Ducournau
149. Shaun of the Dead -- 2004, Edgar Wright
148. Slither -- 2006, James Gunn
147. Society -- 1989, Brian Yuzna
146. The Funhouse -- 1981, Tobe Hooper
145. The Host -- 2006, Bong Joon Ho
144. The Hunger -- 1983, Tony Scott
143. The Night of the Hunter -- 1955, Charles Laughton

The following films received seven votes each!

142. Dawn of the Dead -- 2004, Zack Snyder
141. Friday the 13th Part 2 -- 1981, Steve Miner
140. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter -- 1984, Joseph Zito
139. Ghostwatch -- 1992, Lesley Manning
138. Gremlins -- 1984, Joe Dante
137. The House on Sorority Row -- 1982, Mark Rosman
136. Ju-on: The Grudge -- 2002, Takashi Shimizu
135. Messiah of Evil -- 1973, Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz
134. Mother! -- 2017, Darren Aronofsky
133. Repulsion -- 1965, Roman Polanski
132. Sleepy Hollow -- 1999, Tim Burton
131. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 -- 1986, Tobe Hooper
130. The Blob -- 1988, Chuck Russell
129. The Faculty -- 1998, Robert Rodriguez
128. The Howling -- 1981, Joe Dante
127. The Lighthouse -- 2019, Robert Eggers
126. The Love Witch -- 2016, Anna Biller
125. The Orphanage (aka El orfanato) -- 2007, J.A. Bayona
124. The Perfection -- 2018, Richard Shepard
123. Tucker and Dale vs Evil -- 2010, Eli Craig
122. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? -- 1962, Robert Aldrich

  • I admit, I am starting to feel a bit like I'm starring in a one-woman production of The Lighthouse
  • Also, Willem Dafoe should have been nominated for his performance in that film! His awards circuit snub should be talked about by bitter horror fans the same way we talk about Toni Collette's snub for Hereditary.
  • Love to see Messiah of Evil get so many votes (obviously). It got three votes in 2010's SHOCKtober and six in 2017's...after seeing it on so many special guest 20 Faves lists (which are not counted in the master list!), I can only hope that it'll keep getting in front of more eyeballs. What a gem of a movie.
  • You could hand today's chunk o' list to a horror newbie and feel confident you'd be giving them a great education in so many subgenres! There are superior titles from arthouse, slashers, ghosts, 90s teen horror, horror-comedies, creature features, zombies, classics, found footage...wowzee wow. I might be losing my mind in my lighthouse, but SHOCKtober is worth it!

SHOCKtober: 182-151



LISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLISTLIST

Each of the following films received five votes!

182. Killer Klowns from Outer Space -- 1988, Stephen Chiodo
181. Knife + Heart -- 2018, Yann Gonzalez
180. Pumpkinhead -- 1988, Stan Winston
179. Salem's Lot -- 1979, Tobe Hooper
178. Silent Hill -- 2006, Christophe Gans
177. StageFright -- 1987, Michele Soavi
176. The Mist -- 2007, Frank Darabont
175. The Omen -- 1976, Richard Donner
174. The People Under the Stairs -- 1991, Wes Craven
173. The Stuff -- 1985, Larry Cohen
172. Theater of Blood -- 1973, Douglas Hickox
171. Tremors -- 1990, Ron Underwood
170. Under the Skin -- 2013, Jonathan Glazer

The following films received six votes each!

169. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night -- 2014, Ana Lily Amirpour
168. Bride of Chucky -- 1998, Ronny Yu
167. Burnt Offerings -- 1976, Dan Curtis
166. Children of the Corn -- 1984, Fritz Kiersch
165. Chopping Mall -- 1986, Jim Wynorski
164. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives -- 1986, Tom McLoughlin
163. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me -- 1992, David Lynch
162. From Beyond -- 1986, Stuart Gordon
161. Halloween II -- 1981, Rick Rosenthal
160. Happy Birthday to Me -- 1981, J. Lee Thompson
159. House of Wax -- 2005, Jaume Collet-Serra
158. May -- 2002, Lucky McKee
157. Night of the Comet -- 1984, Thom Eberhardt
156. Night of the Creeps -- 1986, Fred Dekker
155. Night of the Demon (aka Curse of the Demon) -- 1957, Jacques Tourneur
154. Noroi: The Curse -- 2005, Kôji Shiraishi
153. Nosferatu the Vampyre -- 1979, Werner Herzog
152. One Cut of the Dead -- 2017, Shin'ichirô Ueda
151. Pet Sematary -- 1989, Mary Lambert

  • Love to see that House of Wax is finally getting the respect it deserves! It's one of the few American films from the mid-aughties era that still holds up. It's stupid, it's creative, it's gross, it's fun. Justice 4 Paris!
  • Also love that Noroi is getting in front of more eyeballs thanks to Shudder. It's messin' folks up but good.
  • A reader calls Part VI's Jason the best Jason. Do you agree? Disagree? Abstain?
  • The People Under the Stairs? Or Sleepwalkers, maybe?? A mystery that will never be solved...which is just how I like it.
  • I love this anecdote from a reader about Under the Skin: "Fun fact, when I watched this movie I didn’t understand a single word of what they said but still loved it. I had just arrived to the UK (I’m Portuguese), and it was my first movie in the cinema, without subtitles and they had a Scottish accent. Impossible to decipher." AlienManMurdererScarJo transcends spoken language!

SHOCKtober: 212-183



Embrace SHOCKtober while you can, for we are now under #200 and hurtling toward the abyss (November)!

Each of the following films received four votes:

212. Slumber Party Massacre II -- 1987, Deborah Brock
211. Spider Baby -- 1967, Jack Hill
210. Starry Eyes -- 2014, Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer
209. Tales from the Hood -- 1995, Rusty Cundieff
208. Tenebrae -- 1982, Dario Argento
207. The Abominable Dr Phibes -- 1971, Robert Fruest
206. The Bad Seed -- 1956, Mervyn LeRoy
205. The Burning -- 1981, Tony Maylam
204. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari -- 1920, Robert Wiene
203. The Gate -- 1987, Tibor Takács
202. The Hills Have Eyes -- 1977, Wes Craven
201. The Invisible Man -- 2020, Leigh Whannell
200. The Ritual -- 2017, David Bruckner
199. The Sentinel -- 1977, Michael Winner
198. The Taking of Deborah Logan -- 2014, Adam Robitel
197. The Uninvited -- 1944, Lewis Allen
196. The Vanishing (aka Spoorloos) -- 1988, George Sluizer
195. Tourist Trap -- 1979, David Schmoeller
194. What We Do in the Shadows -- 2014, Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi

The following films received five votes each:

193. Alice, Sweet Alice -- 1976, Alfred Sole
192. Annihilation -- 2018, Alex Garland
191. Dark Water -- 2002, Hideo Nakata
190. Daughters of Darkness -- 1971, Harry Kümel
189. Final Destination -- 2000, James Wong
188. Happy Death Day -- 2017, Christopher Landon
187. Hell House LLC -- 2015, Stephen Cognetti
186. In the Mouth of Madness -- 1995, John Carpenter
185. Inside (aka À l'intérieur) -- 2007, Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury
184. It -- 1990, Tommy Lee Wallace
183. It -- 2017,  Andy Muschetti

  • Even if that mask was the only thing it had going for it, Alice, Sweet Alice would still be a classic!
  • One time a friend of mine mistakenly called In the Mouth of Madness "A Mouthful of Madness" and I think about that every time the movie comes up. And it comes up a lot, it's a pretty great film.
  • In his Fave 20 list, Ben Raphael Sher mentioned the attention Daughters of Darkness gets these days, and he's so right. It wasn't that long ago that it wasn't discussed in the mainstream at all, and now it seems like it's everywhere. It's a worthy film, of course, I just find these kinds of cycles interesting. The shifting zeitgeist will only become more apparent as we continue the countdown!
  • The Vanishing is devastating. That ending is an unparalleled gut punch, ay yi yi.

SHOCKtober: 244-213



Aw yeah, now it's gettin' real. Why, I can smell the top 200 from here! At least I hope that's the Top 200...

Anyway, each of the following films received four votes

244. All Cheerleaders Die -- 2013, Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson
243. American Mary -- 2012, Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska
242. American Psycho -- 2000, Mary Harron
241. Army of Darkness -- 1992, Sam Raimi
240. Battle Royale -- 2000, Kinji Fukasaku
239. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon -- 2006, Scott Glosserman
238. Black Sunday -- 1960, Mario Bava
237. Brain Damage -- 1988, Frank Henenlotter
236. Climax -- 2018, Gaspar Noé
235. Creature from the Black Lagoon -- 1954, Jack Arnold
234. Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight -- 1995, Ernest R. Dickerson
233. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark -- 1988, James Signorelli
232. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood -- 1988, John Carl Buechler
231. Frankenstein -- 1931, James Whale
230. Funny Games -- 1997, Michael Haneke
229. Grabbers -- 2012, Jon Wright
228. Grave Encounters -- 2011, Colin Minihan & Stuart Ortiz
227. Hellbound: Hellraiser II -- 1988, Tony Randel
226. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer -- 1986, John McNaughton
225. I Know What You Did Last Summer -- 1997, Jim Gillespie
224. I Walked with a Zombie -- 1943, Jacques Tourneur
223. Jacob's Ladder -- 1990, Adrian Lyne
222. Just Before Dawn -- 1981, Jeff Lieberman
221. Krampus -- 2015, Michael Dougherty
220. The Lair of the White Worm -- 1988, Ken Russell
219. Martin -- 1977, George A. Romero
218. Misery -- 1990, Rob Reiner
217. Nightbreed -- 1990, Clive Barker
216. Onibaba -- 1964, Kaneto Shindô
215. Orphan -- 2009, Jaume Collet-Serra
214. Scanners -- 1981, David Cronenberg
213. Scream 2 -- 1997, Wes Craven

  • (crowd chants) Or-phan! Or-phan! Or-phan! She sure is different! I still love that bonkers movie so much. I'm also still waiting for Esther's head to fall off when she removes her velvet choker...
  • Of Nightbreed, a reader says: "The monsters-as-good-guys angle was still pretty fresh at the time, and as the years have passed I've grown to love it as an LGBTQIA parable."
  • Can me pathetic if you will ("Oh don't worry, I will!" -- you), but I'm still hanging onto a sliver of hope for that All Cheerleaders Die sequel. What a fun movie, I'm glad more folks are getting hip to it.
  • "Yes, it's a comedy, but there is 100% a dark supernatural event at the heart of it. The best cast you could ever want, and dialogue that is forever memorable," says a reader about Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, and so say we all.
  • Upon seeing Jacob's Ladder in today's list chunk, I thought "Hmm. What has that purveyor of lite-n-sexy sleaze Adrian Lyne been up to? Sure has been a while." It turns out he has a new movie coming next year (or whenever), his first since 2002: Dark Water, an adaptation of a very "Patricia Highsmith" Patricia Highsmith novel, if you know what I mean. Love the book and I'm looking forward to it...Ben Affleck is perfect casting, same as he was for Gone Girl.

FAVE 20: G.G. Graham


G.G. Graham is horror's sultana of sleaze, grande dame of grindhouse, and empress of exploitation! Whether she's writing for Drive-In Asylum (I love Drive-In Asylum by the way), The Horror Hothouse, Wicked Horror, her own site Midnight Movie Monster, or any of the countless other places you can find her byline, she most often delves deep into the genre's depraved depths, the places I, your humble blogmistress, dare not tread. I love that even after my 77 years as a horror fan, there are corners of the genre I've yet to explore and so many films I've never heard of out there waiting to eat my face. This list features plenty of lesser-known gems and you'll get gobs more ghoulish goodies at G.G.'s gtwitter.

I don't know what's with all the alliteration today, sorry. Maybe I'm subconsciously trying to manifest a gig writing headlines for The New York Post?



THE BEYOND (1981, Lucio Fulci)


While often unfairly made the Jan to Argento's ever-so-stylish Marcia, The Beyond's slightly daft, dime store surrealism proves Fulci could navigate a visual set piece with a puckish, gleefully gory abandon. The actual narrative borders on nonsensical, but The Beyond zips along through eyeball trauma and acid attacks on undead zombies in a frenetic manner that is rarely linear, but never boring.

It's a gothic nightmare that has no problem leaving us blindly standing alone in the road, lost in the depths of despair while one of horror cinema's best scores pounds in the background. Hell may be an endless void, but they really do have the much better band.


NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985, Bill Leslie & Terry Lofton)


If this movie were an intentional slasher parody, it would have been brilliant. As it stands, it's just brilliantly inept. Line readings are sub-dinner theater level, dead extras forget to hold their breath and the killer cracks punny one liners that would make a third rate Borscht Belt comedian cry. Massacres are perpetuated with the titular nail gun at a brisk pace, damn the plot threads left to dangle in the Texas breeze. 

This direct to video dreck is the best possible example of passion project regional filmmaking, where the sheer love of the movies overrides tiny budgets, better sense and a lack of any discernible talent. Do you remember when you could go outside without worrying about the mosquitos...or the killers? I do. It was in the sad days before I had discovered the goofy joy that is Nail Gun Massacre, surviving proof that every movie that gets made is a tiny miracle. Even the awful ones.


SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000, E. Elias Merhige)


The mid to late 90s boom of meta horror started out as a breath of fresh air, but soon devolved into a dull, interminable game of "Are You Smarter Than A Slasher?" Released at the tail end of that trend cycle, Shadow Of The Vampire instead wraps its meta-narrative around the filming of 1922's silent classic Nosferatu. Rather than a joking poke at genre tropes, the film revises history to offer a terrifying explanation of what may have made the silent classic so damn scary. 

Simultaneously, we also get a gorgeously shot contemplation on creativity, and how far someone can be willing to go to realize an artistic vision. With a stacked cast of some of the finest actors of their generation and a visual aesthetic that incorporates some of the best techniques of the silent era into a modern movie, Shadow Of The Vampire is an arthouse meditation on all of the ways making great art can (quite literally) suck the life out of you.


I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1970, David E. Durston)


One of the first films rated X primarily for violence, David Durston's exploitation classic is a first-rate example of the wild world of grindhouse era, fly by night filmmaking. A faux-Manson Family of Satan-worshipping grifters terrorizes a tiny town in a spectacularly bloody fashion. Watching the last few townsfolk battle the frothing undead, we learn some valuable lessons about both rabies and LSD along the way. 

Rabid hippie zombies! Scooby-Doo-style chase music! Meat pies as carriers of vengeance and disease! Geysers of red paint gore! Satan as an acidhead! If this fast paced, hippie hangover freak out doesn't have it, you don't want it.


HELLRAISER (1987, Clive Barker)


In all of the franchises that dominated the 80s horror box office, Clive Barker's Hellraiser was a welcome dose of Euro weirdness that gave gooey practical effects a highly stylized S&M groove that has been rarely matched before or since. 

Frank Cotton was perhaps cinema's slickest sleaze, willing to take his search for sensation straight to the gates of Hell. The character type wouldn't be out of place in the cheaper environs of 70s exploitation, but the journey his hedonism instigates owes as much to giallo oddities and your local leather bar as it does any of the horror trends of the time. A pile of in name only rights-fueled sequels and the passage of time have done little to diminish how singularly strange Hellraiser still is. "We have such sights to show you..." indeed.


DEAD & BURIED (1981, Gary Sherman)


Potter's Bluff is one of the greatest of horror's many small towns with a secret. Shrouded in seaside fog and as subtly unsettling as holes to a trypophobic, when the idyll becomes something far more grisly, it's almost a relief. As the body count rises, it’s very clear Sheriff Gillis isn't crazy and neither are we.

While the entire film is a masterpiece of mood and atmosphere, Jack Albertson gives us one final, magnificent turn as eccentric mortician William Dobbs. For the generation who likely best remembers him as the kindly (if incredibly lazy) Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, it’s an utter disservice to Albertson's incredibly prolific career not to see him swing from dodderingly sweet to utterly sinister here. Genre has always been the place where character actors can swing for the fences in meatier roles, and that is exactly what happens in Dead & Buried.


MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973, Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz)


Speaking of seaside shockers, Messiah Of Evil is a moody chiller that transcends its myriad of production problems to become something far more unsettling than it otherwise might have been. A young woman goes searching for her father in a coastal California town, and runs afoul of a cult of ghouls that sit at an odd juncture between vampires and zombies, obsessed with moonlit bonfires and the consumption of raw flesh.

Rather than jump shocks and manic chases, Messiah Of Evil settles into a nightmarish, disjointed surreality. Alternating between dourly drab and luridly vivid colors, a bevy of disaffected beauties find themselves wandering some of the best slow burn horror set pieces I've seen at this price point. Messiah Of Evil might just be a lost masterwork of arty low budget horror. It might just be proof of the infinite monkey theorem. Either way, it’s still pretty great.


FREAKS (1932, Tod Browning)


Outcasts and the creation of chosen families is a thematic throughline that genre cinema loves to come back to, but few films are more effective than Freaks at illustrating how tightly wound the ties that bind can be. Tod Browning's otherwise promising directorial career was ground to a standstill with this verbose melodrama and its cast of sideshow and circus performers. The open display of so called "oddities" and a sympathetic portrayal of their lives was considered obscene at the time.

What makes Freaks a masterpiece isn't necessarily its corker of a twist ending, or its bucking of public opinion of the era. When the titular cast of "freaks" takes their revenge on a gold-digging trapeze artist who has harmed one of their own, the climatic rain soaked chase is one of the tightest, tensest sequences in cinema history. What becomes of the victims afterwards is almost beside the point. The terror lies in knowing just how far the avenging angels are willing to go.


SHATTER DEAD (1994, Scooter McCrae)


In the massive glut of SOV content, Scooter McCrae's Shatter Dead deserves a reappraisal and rediscovery for its impressively empty post-apocalyptic world (made more so by the fact that the cleared streets were accomplished without the luxury of permits), and a conceptual ambition more in line with foreign art films than video store trash.

God abandons humanity, and death ceases to exist. The dead just keep on living, minus the ability to heal and the luxury of blood circulation. A woman named Susan is just trying to make it home to her boyfriend, and encounters all of the factions of this strange new world. Manic revivalist preachers thinking undeath is a gift of immortality, terrorists mutilating the comparatively unblemished dead, and hopelessly mangled zombies begging for change on the street all take a turn in delaying her long trip home.

Once your eyes adjust to the microbudget visual limitations, Shatter Dead is an oddly transfixing mix of philosophical musings and exploitation style shocks that will definitely stick with those willing to ride along with its contemplative take on the nature of living, and the natural place of death to add poignancy to life.


AN EYE FOR AN EYE (aka THE PSYCHOPATH, 1973, Larry G. Brown)


The Psychopath is a prime slice of grindhouse golden age weirdness that hasn’t seen home video release since the heyday of VHS. Tom Basham puts in a disquieting performance as Mr. Rabbey, a stunted manchild who also hosts an inexplicably popular local children’s television program. When some of his favorite fans and park playtime pals are abused by their parents, Mr. Rabbey takes the law into his own hands, assuming they aren’t otherwise occupied by his selection of creepy ass puppets.

This isn’t the most ambitious or bloody of exploitation era fare, but what it lacks in gore, it makes up for in a particular strain of only possible in the 70s, psychosexual weirdness. Mr Rabbey is a grown man that goes from eating chocolate cake with his substitute mom/producer to killing people with household objects as if both were part of the same game of make believe.

Long before the first murder even happens, it’s disturbing that people would let this fractured, fey wreck of a man anywhere near a playground. What makes it worse is that Mr. Rabbey is then encouraged to inflict his excessively punitive puppet shows on both the local children’s hospital and a cheering television audience. Never has a pouty squeak and the shadow of a bowl cut lurking at a window been so squirm inducing. I pity the fool that declines to become one of Mr. Rabbey’s rangers. Best watch out for that lawnmower.


CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962, Herk Harvey)


Carnival Of Souls separates itself from the herd of low budget indie films in that it takes the opposite approach than most of the B cinema of its era. Rather than tossing its characters into a flashy parade of blood, beasts and bad taste, it surrounds its supernatural trappings with the distinctly ordinary patterns of small town life. Mary Henry is just trying to get settled in a new job, and a new city, not succeeding particularly well at either one.

The ghostly elements sneak in with a whisper, rather than a bang, and we have every reason to question Mary's sanity as her obsession with an old carnival pavilion becomes more consuming, her visions of a stalking man more frequent. We'd all be more likely to blame stress or loneliness before we started looking toward the otherworldly.

In that specific sense, Carnival Of Souls tracks the same haunting territory as some of the best episodes of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. It's terrible to feel as if you don't belong, but utterly horrifying to discover the hidden reasons your hunch is exactly right.


THE STUFF (1985, Larry Cohen)


Of all of the riffs on 50s creature features like The Blob and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Larry Cohen's The Stuff livens up his monster kid nostalgia with razor sharp satire of 80s consumerism and a host of lived-in, delightfully quirky performances.

It's an utterly ridiculous idea that a groundswell of something that looks uncannily like soft serve ice cream could so easily take over the world. The brilliance of The Stuff is that it makes this off the wall tale far more plausible than it has any right to be, tongue firmly planted in cheek. The atomic age B movies didn't get the details wrong, necessarily. The Stuff posits that the US military and hosts of small town sheriffs were lucky in that their impending invasions weren't accompanied by a catchy jingle and a slick PR firm to market the invaders as a low calorie dessert.

Much like Michael Moriarty's star turn as corporate spy/savior David "Mo" Rutherford, The Stuff is a fast paced, funny spoof that isn't nearly as dumb as it first appears. Too much really is never enough, when it comes to Larry Cohen, New York City's finest indie film eccentric, at his most accessible.


GANJA & HESS (1973, Bill Gunn)


Originally funded as an attempt to cash in on the success of Blacula, writer/director Bill Gunn instead used the loose framework of a vampire narrative to deliver a richly layered thematic kaleidoscope of the effects of addiction, assimilation, and religion on Black experience in America. The visuals are framed oddly, sometimes obscured, and Sam Waymon’s gorgeous musical history lesson of a score is often just as key to conveying plot elements as the spoken dialog. Ganja & Hess has far more in common with the arthouse explorations of the 70s “New Hollywood” period than exploitation flicks.

Duane Jones (Night Of The Living Dead) and Marlene Clark star as the titular couple infected with an ancient African blood disease. While both actors were woefully underutilized in the bulk of their filmography, their performances here shine even amongst the dense layers of visual and sonic quilting that flesh out the film’s aesthetic. The director’s cut was unavailable for decades due to the producers’ unhappiness with the final result, but has since been restored to Gunn’s original vision by MOMA and Kino Lorber. A fiercely intelligent fever dream and a masterpiece of Black horror cinema, it rightfully belongs on any genre lover’s watchlist.


HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986, John McNaughton)


A hyper-realistic low budget film loosely based on the life of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer is a horror film in the most literal possible sense. There is no catharsis here, no comforting explanation of the how and the why of its protagonists’ ruthlessly efficient violence. Director John McNaughton and co-writer Richard Fire have very little interest in diagnosis or explanation, just a grey, grimy tour through a few days in the lives of men incapable of human empathy.

Henry and Otis don’t kill out of any misguided sense of justice or cause, and if there is some tragic backstory, the film doesn’t make us privy to it. In a genre littered with tragic monsters, anti-heroes and sympathy for the devil, it is a deeply harrowing experience to see characters kill primarily just because they can. They drift from city to city, picking off the weak and the forgotten with impunity, without any real remorse or calculation. Boredom and a vague dissatisfaction is more than enough to add another victim to the body count, nonchalant as a trip to the corner store.

Often shown alongside the more violent strains of exploitation film, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer’s power comes from its utter disinterest in making any moral judgments with which to exploit its subject matter. Cold and clinical as an industrial film, its only aim is to quietly document the daily routine of a pair of men for whom the depths of human depravity have become horrifyingly mundane.


CANNIBAL FEROX (aka LET THEM DIE SLOWLY, 1981, Umberto Lenzi)


All roads in the journey to the center of the bad taste world of extreme exploitation and horror cinema eventually make at least one stop amongst the 80’s Italian cannibal trendlet. The cannibal films take the exoticizing, cynical snicker of the Mondo subgenre to its logical, fully fictional extreme. Hiding behind a thin veneer of ethnography and supposed larger points about the nature of civilization, the cannibal flicks had a perfect cover of plausible deniability for a plethora of blood, boobs, and completely unnecessary animal cruelty.

Cannibal Ferox doesn’t particularly deviate from the basic template, but it is the only entry that combines its crueler excesses with extremely overblown line readings and scenery chewing performances that almost feel imported from another, less self-serious film. Giovanni Radice’s tooth-gnashing cokehead abandon as Mike and Zora Kerova’s utterly dippy Pat are far campier than they have a right to be thanks to their paired commitment to exaggerated overacting. There’s also the steady thump of an amusingly mismatched funk disco score. By the time you add in the dub’s melodramatic pauses in a line about a recently consumed set of genitals, Cannibal Ferox proves it is indeed brutally violent, but also occasionally brutally funny.


SCREAM BLOODY MURDER (1972, Marc B. Ray)


This manic 70s gem is one of the treasures lying buried in the trash heap of those 50 movie public domain DVD box sets. Matthew is a strange young man with a hook for a hand and the mother of all Oedipus complexes. He was sent away after murdering his dad with a tractor and mangling his own hand in the process. Years in a mental institution have done nothing to cure any of his issues, other than allowing his long-suffering mother to forget who he is.

Jealous at anyone who dares to be happy, soon Matthew is on a hitchhiking spree of murder, mayhem, and visions of men defiling dear old Mommy whenever he sees a happy couple. Home invasions, kidnapped prostitutes, and a hysterical speech about his captive’s lack of gratitude zip by in a tight 88 minute runtime that leads to one of the most delightfully left field endings this everything but the kitchen sink approach to filmmaking could possibly conjure up. Scream Bloody Murder isn’t the most polished of turds, but it amazingly never really manages to stink. Goofy, gory, and unapologetically cheap, its madcap energy is infectious fun.

M (1931, Fritz Lang)


Fritz Lang is better known to modern audiences for his sci fi masterpiece Metropolis, but while 1931’s M is less flashily stylized, it is both importantly directional (as one of the earliest extant examples of a police procedural) and quietly terrifying. A serial killer of children is on the prowl in Berlin, and when the police have no success locating the murderer, even the criminal underground joins the manhunt.

For an early sound film, there is masterful use of long stretches of silence to enhance the import of key dialog, a whistled tune and shadowy silhouettes marking the primarily off-screen murders. A young Peter Lorre was typecast for the majority of his career after his masterful turn as the murderous Hans Beckert, a monster with the most inhuman of impulses hiding behind a nondescript baby face.

The tension and fear of the city are palpable, from mobs questioning strangers on the street to the full blown kangaroo court that dominates the film’s final act. Made in the shadow of the rise of real-life Nazism, M’s deeper thematic questions of the appropriate punishments for inhuman crime and the fear fueled mob mentality lying just beneath the surface of our civilized trappings were certainly prescient of the real world events to come.

M was one of the first films to make plain the most terrifying of truths: The world is full of monsters. They don’t announce themselves in coffins or spaceships or laboratory experiments gone wrong. The darkest desires hide in ordinary seeming people, that on the surface, look just like us.


BABA YAGA (1973, Corrado Farina)


Baba Yaga is a loose adaptation of a story arc from Guido Crepax’s Valentina, a long-running Italian series of erotic comics. What plot there is involves a battle of wills between Valentina, a mod and modern fashion photographer, and the titular ancient witch, who is enthralled with Valentina after a chance late night run-in. 

However, Baba Yaga soon abandons the linear narrative for a pop art surrealism that owes more to the graphic novel source material and stylized European Gothics than it does any straightforward horror cinema traditions. Fascist visions and high fashion parties mix with an action/reaction Sapphic S&M struggle between the ancient and the modern models of fierce female autonomy. This sleek, sensual nightmare is made for late nights and altered states, a literal comic book come to life. Consider it the cool blue, cool jazz older cousin to the (equally queer coded) blood red of fellow high style arthouse Eurosleaze classic Daughters Of Darkness.


NOSFERATU (1922, F. W. Murnau)


One of the first stone cold, blood curdling classics of early silent horror cinema, Nosferatu’s genius lies not in its highly questionable, slightly clunky adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, but in the visual vocabulary of creeping dread that it essentially invented. Lacking the technology or the inclination for the visceral and gratuitous, Nosferatu’s terror lies in the light exposing the outlines of the shadows and the things that lurk there. Max Schreck’s masterful performance as Count Orlok has none of the suavity of the later cinematic adaptations, but is something closer to death, at home in desiccation and decay. What thrall he wields is not a seduction, but the predatory instincts of a carrion creature, the not quite dead sapping the lifeblood from the living.

Nosferatu was also perhaps the original “cult” film, with the majority of the prints destroyed due to a legal injunction against the unauthorized adaptation of the source novel. The few remaining prints were copied and distributed in secret, and allowed the film to survive into the modern era. Almost a hundred years on, its silent, lurking menace is still all the reason in the world to be afraid of the dark.


BASKET CASE (1982, Frank Henenlotter)


As a born and bred New Yorker, I have an eternal soft spot for films in which New York itself may as well be a billed character. Frank Henenlotter is another of my hometown’s indie eccentrics, and Basket Case is a seven layer dip love letter to grit, grime, and the Deuce, with all of the trash cinema delights it once had to offer.

Duane and his basket-bound, misshapen brother are the rubber appliance, stop motion stuff B movie dreams are made of. Had Henenlotter stopped right there, he would have made a sleazy delight of a creature feature. However, he tossed all notions of taste to the wind and served up healthy doses of violence, nudity, and oddly sympathetic stunted sibling drama to take what would have been an amusing grindhouse novelty into exploitation classic territory.

None of this should work, but Basket Case is unafraid to lean into its essential silliness with a wink, a nudge, and a seemingly infinite number of rubber Belials wearing a variety of expressions for all close up occasions. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a movie about a murderous claw-wielding wad of what looks like flesh-colored ABC gum, and it is fantastic.

SHOCKtober: 271-245



Well, already we're at the final chunk o' list featuring films that received three votes each. Enjoy your final day in the spotlight, you trilogies of terror, 'cause tomorrow we start getting kinky with foursomes and moresomes!

271. Something Wicked This Way Comes -- 1983, Jack Clayton
270. Son of Frankenstein -- 1939, Rowland V. Lee
269. Sorority Row -- 2009, Stewart Hendler
268. Sugar Hill -- 1974, Paul Maslansky
267. Suicide Club -- 2001, Sion Soto
266. Teeth -- 2007, Mitchell Lichtenstein
265. The Babysitter -- 2017, McG
264. The Children -- 2008, Tom Shankland
263. The Loved Ones -- 2009, Sean Byrne
262. The Lure -- 2015, Agnieszka Smocszynska
261. The Midnight Hour -- 1985, Jack Bender
260. The Neon Demon -- 2016, Nicolas Winding Refn
259. The Old Dark House -- 1932, James Whale
258. The Stepford Wives -- 1975, Bryan Forbes
257. The Witches -- 1990, Nicolas Roeg
256. The Woman in Black -- 1989, Herbert Wise
255. Thelma -- 2017, Joachim Trier
254. Triangle -- 2009, Christopher Smith
253. Trilogy of Terror -- 1975, Dan Curtis
252. Urban Legend -- 1998, Jamie Blanks
251. Uzumaki (aka Spiral) -- 2000, Higuchinsky
250. Viy -- 1967, Konstantin Ershov & Georgiy Kropachyov
249. We Are Still Here -- 2015, Ted Geoghegan
248. Wes Craven's New Nightmare -- 1994, Wes Craven
247. When Animals Dream -- 2014, Jonas Alexander Arnby
246. Witchboard -- 1986, Kevin Tenney
245. Wolfen -- 1981, Michael Wadleigh

  • Ugh, The Old Dark House is such a treasure. So funny, so charming, even kinda spooky. A must see!
  • Viy is also a treasure, what a delightfully theatrical fairy tale of a film. 
  • A reader called The Children "a gold standard creepy kids movie" and I totally agree! It's such a nasty little gem.
  • A big heck yeah to Thelma getting some love! I mentioned on my Top 20 that it almost made my list and that is the truth. A gorgeous film with filled with *chefs kiss* actressing.
  • I am not a musicals gal but holy crapping crap do I love The Lure.
  • I try not to think about the fact that I was due to see a theatrical production of The Woman in Black in NYC this past April, but...well, we've all missed out on cool opportunities over the last nine months, I'm sure. Still. This pandemic sucks big ass! But we'll get through it. Right?

FAVE 20: Jason Edward Davis


Lemme tell you, Jason Edward Davis gives great movie recommendations, especially to folks like me who think they've seen everything, because clearly I have not but clearly he has. Jason knows every movie! If I say "Jason, I'm in the mood for a slasher, what should I watch?" he won't say "Have you heard of Psycho?"--he will say "The Legend of the Willywompadoo Swamp Killer is a good one!" or something, you know, the one 80s slasher I haven't heard of, never mind seen.

Jason also puts his movie knowledge to incredible use in his work as an artist. Horror folks around Portland OR are familiar with Jason's work from gallery shows and the like, in particular his work as the resident artist for the Queer Horror series at the Hollywood Theatre.  I love that so much of his work centers the oft-overlooked women in horror films, the sidekicks and the weirdos, including some of the queens he mentions in his list. And he draws cats both spooky and cute and plenty of horror hunks too, ok my. Here's his website. Spend some time giving your eyeballs some treats!

And spend some time with Jason's favorite 20 horror films! I knew there would be some off-the-beaten-path entries and it doesn't disappoint.



NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988, Kevin Tenney)


It's Judy's turn to cry... for help!


DEMONS (1985, Lamberto Bava)


Perfect movie, perfect cast, but the real question is... how did the usherette get the job? What was the application process like? Who trained her? Does she have a comprehensive benefit package?


DEMONS 2 (1986, Lamberto Bava)


When Sally is the life of the party, it means the party is going to be the death of everyone else!


KILLER PARTY (1986, William Fruet)


When I was kid, this movie would play on the television in the afternoon all the time. Now it plays in my heart all of the time. Bless Sherry Willis-Burch, who plays Vivia, my favorite final girl. She laughs, she loves, she lives!


SPOOKIES (1986, Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran, & Brendan Faulkner)


Five minutes in and the kid is dead. Then the spider woman shows up, after the mud monsters, but before the monkey-like-carny-killer, in the room with the haunted-trivial pursuit, next to the grim reaper, who works for the pale man with the head thing, who's in love with the ghost, who isn't a ghost, but she's good, but also the mother of the other monster kid.


NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CLASS REUNION (1982, Michael Miller)


What do you get when you combine a devil worshiper, a vampire, a serial killer (who is not Ben Stiller), and Bunny Packard? A sleepover at my house... I mean, a class reunion! MVP goes to Zane Busby, as Delores Salk, a real go-getter.


EKO EKO AZARAK: WIZARD OF DARKNESS (1995, Shimako Sato)


A teenage witch, an inescapable school, and a huge body count! Yes please!


IT FOLLOWS (2014, David Robert Mitchell)


It followed me all the way home... and now we are married. I don't make the rules, I just lock the doors.


STAGEFRIGHT (1987, Michele Soavi)


Hide the axe, tuck in the chainsaw, put away the knives, because once this dancing owl hears the sweet-sweet sounds of burning-hot-cool-murder-saxophone no one is safe! But then again, danger has never looked this cute!


CHEERLEADER CAMP (1988, John Quinn)


Lucinda Dickey will have you yelling Cory all the way to the insane asylum! Poor Bonnie though.


I SAW THE DEVIL (2010, Jee-woon Kim)


I saw the devil and the devil saw me... we both cried. It's been a hard year.


HONEYMOON (2014, Leigh Janiak)


I've never been more upset watching someone fail to make coffee. Watch this, then read Claire C. Holland's book of poetry I Am Not Your Final Girl.


THE BONEYARD (1991, James Cummins)


Hands-down my favorite leading lady. A burned out psychic a.k.a. middle-aged butch who rises from a pile of laundry like a phoenix from the ashes to take on zombie children, poodles, and Phyllis Diller.


THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (1985, Jack Bender)


I refuse to acknowledge a life in which this isn't watched every October since it came out.


THE TALL MAN (2012, Pascal Laugier)


What can I say, I got a bad case of the Beasles!


PUMPKINHEAD (1988, Stan Winston)


I first saw this when I was the age of Lance Henriksen's kid. Now I am older than Pumpkinhead and I would like to think we've both grown during this time.


TRIANGLE (2009, Christopher Smith)


This is my High Tension.


THE KISS (1988, Pen Densham)


National treasure, Meredith Salenger, with the help of an amazing eagle sweater, must fight for her life against her beautiful-witch-aunt Joanna Pacula. If you grew up in the '80s you were terrified of dying on an escalator. This movie shows you why!


MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973, Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz)


When this movie pulls over and offers you a ride in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, you'll be saying "sure, why not" all the way to the end! You'll be so in love with the cast and the visuals that you won't even realize you're being surrounded... until it's too late!


JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993, Adam Marcus)


Body jumping, Jason Voorhees, and an endless parade of character actors?! I don't want to be right, when being wrong is this bad... I mean, good!

SHOCKtober: 304-272



Once again, here we are in the magical land where the films received three votes each!

304. Evil Dead -- 2013, Fede Alvarez
303. Eyes of Laura Mars -- 1978, Irvin Kershner
302. From Dusk Till Dawn -- 1996, Robert Rodriguez
301. Ghoulies -- 1984, Luca Bercovici
300. Halloween H20 -- 1998, Steve Miner
299. House of 1000 Corpses -- 2003, Rob Zombie
298. House on Haunted Hill -- 1999, William Malone
297. In Fabric -- 2018, Peter Strickland
296. Inferno -- 1980, Dario Argento
295. Insidious -- 2010, James Wan
294. Intruder -- 1989, Scott Spiegel
293. Jeepers Creepers -- 2001, xx
292. Killer Workout (aka Aerobicide) -- 1987, David A. Prior
291. Kwaidan -- 1964, Masaki Kobayashi
290. Let Us Prey -- 2014, Brian O'Malley
289. Lifeforce -- 1985, Tobe Hooper
288. Lost Highway -- 1997, David Lynch
287. Mandy -- 2018, Panos Cosmatos
286. Maniac -- 1980, William Lustig
285. Maniac Cop -- 1988, William Lustig
284. Opera -- 1987, Dario Argento
283. Ouija: Origin of Evil -- 2016, Mike Flanagan
282. Pan's Labyrinth -- 2006, Guillermo del Toro
281. Perfect Blue -- 1997, Satoshi Kon
280. Piranha -- 1978, Joe Dante
279. Piranha 3D -- 2010, Alexandre Aja
278. Pulse (aka Kairo) -- 2001, Kiyoshi Kurosawa
277. Pyewacket -- 2017, Adam MacDonald
276. Return of the Living Dead III -- 1993, Brian Yuzna
275. Seed of Chucky -- 2004, Don Mancini
274. Silent Scream -- 1979, Denny Harris
273. Sisters -- 1972, Brian De Palma
272. The Phantom of the Opera -- 1925, Rupert Julian


  • Why, as I just mentioned earlier today, Pulse (Kairo) nearly made my list of 20 faves. It perfectly encapsulates my 2020 pandemic mood.
  • I have never seen Ghoulies and let's face it, I probably never will. But! I am more inclined to since I just learned that Lisa "'Jennifer' in the movie Jennifer" Pelikan is in it?!
  • Of Piranha 3D, a reader said: "Watching Jerry O'Connell's dismembered penis being spit out by a fish in 3D was one of the bright spots to my existence."
  • Of House of 1000 Corpses, a reader said: "I am straight up ashamed that I love this stupid broken awful movie. Maybe it's because Chris Hardwick gets scalped in it."
  • Lifeforce is so goddamn bonkers, it is perfect 80s and perfectly cocaine.
  • YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT KILLER WORKOUT AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNER RHONDA JOHNSON.

FAVE 20: Yours Truly


Here's a glimpse behind the curtain: I finalized my list just this past weekend! That's right, while cruelly demanding that all special guest lists met a pre-SHOCKtober deadline, I worked on mine until a few days ago. Being able to wait is just one of the many, many perks of being a Blog Owner. Okay, it's actually the only perk, but I treasure it nonetheless!

There was only one spot, really, I was focused on. I spent a great deal of time ruminating on many films as they wrassled for the incredible privilege of being called one of my favorites. I'm sure you all know the pain of making many a Sophie's choice! But it finally all settled into place like a good cheek filler and this list is the most me it can possibly be. Here we go, in no particular order!



THE HAUNTING (1963, Robert Wise)


This quintessential haunted house movie is a terrifying exercise in minimalism that burrows deep under my skin every time I watch it. We never see whatever it is that stalks the halls of Hill House, but it's there, clawing and pressing at the doors, trying to get in. The wood buckles, the doorknobs slowly turn--it is chilling enough to break my brain! Credit goes to Robert Wise, of course, for knowing the power of unseen horrors--but credit is also owed to this cast that truly sells those horrors. When the impossibly cool Theo (Claire Bloom) panics as the thunderous footsteps draw closer to her room, when playful playboy Luke (Russ Tamblyn), frozen in fear, drops his booze bottle, when Eleanor (Julie Harris)--prickly, fragile, lost Eleanor, speeding towards her end--snaps out of her daze and realizes that Hill House has fully claimed her at last...it all feels real, that we're right to be scared of this ugly house and its ugly history, and that the townsfolk are right to live no closer than town, not to come any nearer than that.


MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973, Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz)


"They're waiting for you...and they'll take you, one by one. And no one will hear you scream!" God DAMN do I love Messiah of Evil. It's possible that it caught my eye during a SHOCKtober past--whenever it was, it was definitely here when a kindly commenter recommended it. As we all know, I love a town with a secret, and Messiah's Point Dune is a town by the seaside and under a blood red moon with a cult of the undead secret. Is it any wonder I fell in love so hard? I've never seen another film capture the idea of the uncanny so well. In the beginning voiceover (very reminiscent of another love, Let's Scare Jessica to Death), our heroine tells us that Point Dune "doesn't look any different than a thousand other neon stucco towns," and it's true. From the bright lights and overwhelming walls of products at an empty grocery store to the televisions displayed in storefront windows to the marquee of the local movie theatre, Point Dune looks like Average Small Town, USA. But it feels wrong. It's too quiet, for one thing. The streets are always empty. If the townsfolk aren't acting strange--standing silently on the beach staring out to the sea, or silently looking to the sky--then they're afraid of those who are. Every instance of comfortable, familiar Americana dissolves when the horrors awaiting in that grocery store and on those streets and at that beach and in that theatre are revealed.

And they're revealed after sequences of long buildup, where the tension ratchets up as, say, Laura walks down the grocery store aisles or the seats behind Toni at the theatre slowly fill up . Messiah of Evil is a masterful example of using mood and atmosphere to the utmost, and it's a gorgeous rumination on the creative process to boot, full of art, striking cinematography and colorful production design. I will never not recommend this film! The Code Red physical media editions are out of print and pricy, but there's a handsome transfer on YouTube, of all places. Check it out.


THE DESCENT (2005, Neil Marshall)


It's always heartbreaking when that photo I've just posted appears onscreen after all is said and done and those six women are gone, killed by horrors they never could have predicted. Who knew that monsters from our nightmares are real, and that being trapped by a cave-in wouldn't end up the worst part of their day? There's no doubt that Neil Marshall made a bonafide genre classic: the sense of claustrophobia is palpable. It's got lots of cringe-worthy violence and gore in times of pure action and relative quiet. The creature design is some of the best. But what keeps this movie feeling fresh and vital to me are those six women and the relationships between them. Marshall gives us plenty of time to get to know them and the cast chemistry makes this one of horror's greatest ensembles, which only heightens the tragedy of it all. They display remarkable resolve and courage in the face of indescribable terror and there are small, human moments that take these characters beyond the usual stock archetypes we get in these kinds of movies: I think of Sam, the future surgeon, giving a last tentative glance at her hands before she ruins them in her desperation to survive. I think of the deep friendship between Sarah and Beth brought to an end neither of them should have had to face. I think of sisters Sam and Becca protecting each other and encouraging each other to push on. There is such relief in gulping in that fresh air alongside Sarah when we think she's found a way out, but ultimately the UK ending feels right to me--not just because the US version ends on a dumb jump scare, but because of that bittersweet photo.


THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999, Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez)


Of course, of course. This movie was (and continues to be) an experience and I cannot overstate how much I love it. It made me the found footage apologist / aficionado I am today. It still scares me beyond belief. Although it is not set in New England, it taps into my homegrown love of witches and witches' graves and urban legends and the woods and all the horrors waiting within. I feel this movie. 

It's also interesting to dissect the politics in this film, the way the two men berate and undermine Heather almost from the jump, their gaslighting and disdain so palpable and obvious that a silly fan theory has evolved, which is that they lured her out there to the woods to kill her. It's ridiculous, of course, but it does speak to the fine whiff of misogyny that seeps in from time to time in the film and in the fandom. No, they say, this isn't a film about a woman who just fucking wants to make a movie and ends up mired in a supernatural situation beyond her control, it's actually a movie about these two men. They are driving the narrative! Meanwhile, Heather cops the blame for a situation wherein she did absolutely nothing wrong and still goes on to frame one of the most iconic shots in horror film history. Justice 4 Heather Donahue, Heather Donahue 4ever.


FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 (1981, Steve Miner)...no wait, FRIDAY THE 13th PART III (1982, Steve Miner)...PART 2? PART III...PART III? PART 2


I have long maintained that Part 2's Baghead Jason is best Jason, and while that is still true, my love for Part III cannot be denied. It cannot be denied so much that there is constantly a war for my affections waging between these two movies! Ultimately I couldn't decide...or maybe I decided that I want both. Part 2 is full of iconic moments and characters, from the machete in Mark's head to Mrs. Voorhees's beef jerky head to Ginny fucking goddamn Field...but I ask, does Part III not also have more than its share? The spear in Vera's eye (RIP, queen), Jason putting on that hockey mask but sometimes giving us a peek at what's underneath it, and BIG DUH, horror's most underrated, underappreciated, and overlooked BOSS of a Final Girl, Chris motherfucking Higgins. All of that in THREE whole dimensions. It's clearly my favorite Friday the 13th! But then again, I love Jason showing up in Alice's apartment in Part 2, and...ugh. I now pronounce them movie and movie, and their marriage makes them one big experience that's my fave Friday.


THE WITCH (2015, Robert Eggers)


This masterpiece exemplifies some of the things I mentioned when talking about The Blair Witch Project, mainly my love of New England and everything spooky therein. The woods! Finally the woods of my dreams (nightmares) was captured on film: the darkness, the sheer size, the beauty, the foreboding. The wind is foreboding in this movie. Everything is foreboding in this movie. It evokes the damp, the chill, and the grey of a perpetual Autumn. I find the tension throughout The Witch almost unbearable as I wait for this hyper-religious family to tear itself apart or for the horror of the woods to emerge or both; the tension and build are so much for me that the first time I saw it (in the theatre, opening weekend...RIP Before Times), I said OH MY GOD right out loud like a fool when some of said tension broke during that raven scene. I expected to get a great horror film and to be scared, and I got all that. What I didn't expect, however, was a parable about women's autonomy. I never could have predicted that Thomasin would choose to live deliciously and instead of being punished, she flew up into the trees feeling nothing but joy. Before 2015 I'd long lamented on the pages of this here blog that I vehemently wanted more witches in my scary movies...even so, I thought that if I got 'em, those witches'd never be allowed to live. The Witch proved me wrong and ushered in an era that has vastly shifted the way women's stories are told in horror.


STRAIT-JACKET (1964, William Castle)


It's not William Castle's most bonkers movie, but oh, is Strait-Jacket so much fun. As Lucy Harbin, Joan Crawford takes an axe and gives her cheating lover forty whacks, then emerges from the asylum years later and attempts to rebuild her life and her relationship with her daughter (played by a young Diane Baker, aka one Senator Ruth Martin, she of the fantastic suit). Is Lucy holding on to her sanity? Or is she responsible for all the freshly axed heads rolling around?

It is absolutely as campy as it sounds, of course, but Strait-Jacket is so much more than that thanks to Crawford, who turns in a bravura performance. She approaches the role like she approached every role, committing to Lucy Harbin the way she committed to, say, Mildred Pierce. She goes over-the-top as she vamps it up, putting on her jangly charm bracelet and practically shoving her fingers in the mouth of her daughter's boyfriend as she hits on him. But she also lets us feel the weight of Lucy's guilt and pain over her past and all the years she lost. Seeing her desperately try to hold on as it seems her sanity is slipping away again isn't merely a horror movie "will she or won't she?" thrill, it's downright heartbreaking. She's awards-worthy, quite frankly, in a movie that also features really fake-looking decapitated heads. Actresses like Crawford are why the subgenre is called Grand Dame Guignol, after all. Strait-Jacket is a treasure.


LAKE MUNGO (2008, Joel Anderson)


The first time I saw Lake Mungo, I fell in love with it. The second time I saw Lake Mungo, it left me too scared to sleep. It's never left me, and I think about Lake Mungo all the time. Yes, it has that scene, but it's all the unsettling quiet and dread before it that really makes that scene land with such a terrifying, devastating impact. This movie, a mockumentary about the Palmer family coping (or not coping) with the drowning death and possible spectral return of their 16-year-old daughter and sister Alice, is so perfectly constructed and acted it's easy to forget that it's fiction. Still photographs, videotapes, 8mm film, and newsreels tell some of Alice's story, but as we learn, "kept secrets...she kept the fact that she kept secrets a secret." The dialogue is largely improvised and the performances are so natural, it feels like we're actually watching how a family grieves and how some of them might dare to hope that Alice isn't truly gone. Alice was haunted, essentially, by her own death drawing ever-nearer, which feels very familiar as the number of infections continues to rise precipitously every day. That fatalism and sense of doom really speaks to me and is part of the reason why this film hasn't left me. That and, you know. That scene.


The WHISPERING CORRIDORS series (1998-2020)


Hey, if Ben can cite the Poltergeist trilogy as "a" fave in his list, then I can say the whole series! Sure, I like some of the entries more than others, but it's most interesting to look at the five films (there's a sixth on the way) as a whole. 

Whispering Corridors (1998), Memento Mori (1999), Wishing Stairs (2003), Voice (2005), and A Blood Pledge (2009) all use South Korean girls' high schools as a setting, but each socially-conscious film has a different plot and school and different characters, so they need not be watched in any particular order. They deal with various subject matters that these students face, whether it's the brutal school system itself, a suicide epidemic, peer pressure, or even taboo topics like gay relationships. They're hugely important films for many reasons, not the least because they helped kick off cinema's New Korean Wave in the late 90s.

All of this, of course, is wrapped in big supernatural packages with the requisite ghosts and the dark hallways they haunt. Some entries are more "horror" than others--Wishing Stairs might be the most overtly horror movie typical--and they probably won't keep you up at night, but as I've come to learn over the years of writing at Final Girl, that doesn't always matter. In fact, for me these days, it often doesn't. 

I love the creepiness of these movies, but what I love more--what I love most, even--are the relationships between the girls. Unlike most of their western "schoolgirl horror" counterparts, we get to see these characters (GASP) interact. They tease each other, they have fun, they confide in each other, they band together, they bully one another. These movies are spooky, funny, sad, and always interesting. While I'm not--nor have I ever been, SPOILER--a schoolgirl in South Korea, the experiences that play out ring true and familiar regardless. The specifics might not be the same, but hey, teen girls are gonna teen girl no matter where they are. If I have to recommend only a couple, they are Memento Mori, which was one of the first Korean films to explicitly depict a lesbian relationship onscreen rather than merely hint at it, and Voice, which is the most stylized of these movies (and also is gay as heck). I love Whispering Corridors, too. Actually I love all of them and that's why I listed all of them, see?


SALEM'S LOT (1979, Tobe Hooper)


When Tobe Hooper died, I watched Salem's Lot as a tribute. As much as I love it, watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre wasn't even a consideration that night. This is the only vampire movie for me, if I'm being honest, and one of the greatest--if not theeeeee greatest--made-for-TV horror movies. I will only indulge in the 2-part miniseries event version, thank you, because that shit is epic. Residents of a small town in Maine begin disappearing and dying to something that feels like a plague, but there's no plague. Finally, two hours in--TWO HOURS IN--Mr. Barlow makes his appearance and the true ill that has befallen Salem's Lot is revealed. I'm sure there are some who are not into the long-ass build-up, but I am certainly not one of those some. Give me more, I say! I wish Salem's Lot was a week long, because I can't get enough of it's horror-flavored soap opera feel. 

This movie--excuse me, this event--is so damn scary that I can't believe, still, that it was made for television. Mrs Glick's return? Ralphie Glick's return? Please. And I cannot stress enough how deeply Mr. Barlow terrifies me, like right down to my core. The kitchen scene, where he suddenly materializes from a dark heap on the floor and seems to fill the whole room, is it, baby. I love that he's just this mysterious, repulsive monster. Who is Kurt Barlow? Who was he before he was this? Was he anything before he was this? Who the fuck cares, I say. He is a plague, and that's all I need to know. There's nothing else that would help me anyway.


THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009, Ti West)


I am so into this movie. It's the perfect combination of waiting a while for something to happen and hey, the waiting is the point and something happened and it rocked your face off. I drink up the exquisite rising tension of House of the Devil every time I see it, even though I know when the action will really hit. I could watch Samantha explore that massive, unfamiliar, creepy-as-all-h-e-double-hockey-sticks house forever, whether she's doing it stealthily or bopping around as she blasts The Fixx on her Walkman. I love a what's behind the door? movie, and this is one of the best: who is this "grandma" that Sam has been hired to babysit, and why is grandma's door locked? Throw in an eclipse, a sinister pizza order, and a bathtub littered with hair trimmings and you've got a sinister WTF of a good time. And while this film is completely to blame for kicking off the retro trend in horror that we continue to deal with, it remains the one that, to me, gets what a 1983 horror movie feels like, the pacing, the editing, the set dressing, those hair styles...it still feels like a lost movie from another era. RIP to Megan, always the true pal who knew what was up the whole time, never the babysitter.


AMITYVILLE 4: THE EVIL ESCAPES (1989, Sandor Stern)


I talked a bit about my (our) love for all things Amityville the other day, but my love of Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes isn't necessarily a part of that, I don't think. You see, I love Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes because it dares to exist. How can this movie about a possessed floor lamp actually exist? People...made this movie? Like, people showed up to set everyday? To make a movie about a possessed floor lamp?? It seems like a joke--it has to be a joke--but somehow it is not a joke. It's treated completely seriously, which makes its existence all the more baffling. A floor lamp, purchased at a yard sale at 112 Ocean Avenue, becomes possessed by a demon. The floor lamp telekinetically drives a van! The floor lamp makes a garbage disposal turn on! The floor lamp drives a young girl to want to murder! The floor lamp has an evil face sometimes! The floor lamp battles Patty Duke, but the floor lamp loses when Patty Duke throws it off a cliff and it explodes on the rocky shore below! But then maybe a cat gets possessed, so does the floor lamp really lose? It doesn't matter. We all win, just because Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes is.

MARTYRS (2008, Pascal Laugier)


Martyrs always appears, rightly so, on those lists of the most extreme horror movies. It is violent, it is gory, it is brutal. To call it a "tough watch" is to put it way, way too mildly. In short, it is not my kind of movie! I don't enjoy watching people get tortured, and I don't "enjoy" Martyrs, but I do love it. It is a depressing film made by a depressed man, a film that speaks to our inhumanity to one another, to the way the wealthy (and white) will casually exploit the disenfranchised until there's nothing left. It is a rumination on our endless fixation on knowing the unknowable, on what's next, on what awaits us after the end, on what the point of all of this is. It seems that Laugier, in his state, was saying that there is no point beyond pain and suffering.

There's more to it, however, whether intended by Laugier or not, and it's what flayed me open the first time I saw Martyrs and what keeps me coming back to it: it is that for all its seeming inhumanity, Martyrs is actually imbued with kindness, and Martyrs is a love story. 

Anna is a saint long before the cult attempts to make her one, and it's why she is able to "transcend" at the end of her life. Despite this world continually beating her down or beating her loved one down--she and Lucie met at that orphanage, after all--Anna helps. She never stops. She talks Lucie down during her psychotic breaks. When she sees that one of Lucie's victims is still alive, she tries to get her to safety; Anna doesn't know that this woman was also one of Lucie's torturers, but she might have afforded her some kind of mercy regardless. She tries to rescue and gently takes care of the victim she finds in the basement. Laugier doesn't seem to want to reward this--rather, Anna's repeated kindness lead to her capture and torture. Martyrs feels like nihilism 101: the world doesn't reward kindness, he seems to say, and none of it matters. But it turns out that it does matter, and it's that surprising, secret, soft heart of the film that breaks me. 

In her pain, Lucie saw the monster, the fellow torture victim she had to leave behind.

In her pain, the unnamed victim sees cockroaches crawling all over her and burrowing under her skin.

In her pain, Anna sees Lucie. "I miss you," she says.

Instead of more pain, Anna gets some comfort near her end. It's beautiful, and it's the most any of us can hope for.


CREEPSHOW (1982, George A. Romero)


As I'm sure you've heard me say time and again, this movie is absolutely perfect, and I don't have the words to describe how much I love it. It is the best Halloween-time viewing. It is the best anthology movie. It is fun with a capital fun. There is not a story I would excise, there is not a story I simply tolerate to get to the others. They are all baller, and this EC comic come to life is gross and scary and, to use a word that all the youths use, a "hoot." The cast is pitch-perfect, playing it riiiiight on the line of campy. I will never, ever tire of dotty old Aunt Bedelia, of Leslie Nielsen in that velour track suit, of Sylvia Grantham's smoky-voiced scolding, of Upson Pratt being a right bastard, of everything, most especially Adrienne Barbeau as Wilma "Billie" Northrup. She is always a treasure, but here she is her most treasureful. I mean, she knows all the best stores. 


ZOMBIE (1979, Lucio Fulci)


Listen, like any rational human being I adore George Romero's Night, Dawn, and Day of the Dead. They are essential films not only to me, but to the horror genre. But while I was composing this here list, it came to be like a bolt out of the blue (or, perhaps, like a rotten hand out of the ground): holy shit. I fucking love Zombie

As I said, I adore Romero's work and he's the father of the zombie genre as we know it. But this absolutely disgusting Lucio Fulci film is my perfect zombie movie. There is none of that "the living are the real monsters" pontificating. There is no allegory. It is simply the dead come back to life, and as the movie's tagline says, they have one goal: we are going to eat you. That's all I need to be scared out of my mind!

I knew about this movie long before I ever saw it, thanks to ol' worm-eye's appearance on the cover of Fangoria. You know who ol' worm-eye is. This movie has iconic zombies, and they are all so gross. I love it. They are rotten and nasty and falling apart and full of worms. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I fucking love it when zombies claw their way out of the ground, and this movie gives me the goods a lot. I love that almost all of them have their eyes closed and move by instinct. I love that they move with the slowest shuffle--barely moving, so much so that they make Romero zombies look like Snyder zombies. But when they get close, suddenly they'll getcha just like that. I love the mystery of an abandoned ship and this movie gives me that. I love any score by Fabio Frizzi, but Zombie's title track might be my favorite. I love the long buildup, the journey our heroes undertake on their way to the voodoo-cursed island Matul intercut with the medical staff there trying to get a grasp on the plague killing residents and causing them to come back to life. I love the crazy-ass gore, and that eyeball scene--you know the one--is eye-conic (I'm sure that old Fangoria called it "eye-popping"). And I love that downer ending, with the undead shuffling over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, the world already lost to them. 

It's not just one sequence or one moment or one shot that unnerves me in this movie, it's everything. This is absolutely my absurd, illogical nightmare come to (un)life, and it makes me want to pull my covers up over my head. More than any other film on this list, I think (even Creepshow), Zombie makes me feel like a kid again.

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991, Jonathan Demme)


Not that it matters, but I sometimes wonder if I would love The Silence of the Lambs--because love it I do--if Clarice Starling was played by anyone but Jodie Foster. I know other actresses have given it a go since, but thinking of the 1991 film, it seems inconceivable, doesn't it? Foster/Starling is such a beyond-perfect melding, or embodiment, or whatever you want to call it, that I can't imagine it being any other actress. Don't get me wrong, this film is obviously a gen-u-ine masterpiece from top to bottom and all the way around. (It was the third film in Oscar history to win the "big five," after all, if you put any stock in that sort of thing.) But I'm not sure it would land on my list of favorites without Foster, because Clarice Starling is the reason it's here. She is such a hero! She's such a hero she's virtually unmatched amongst other female characters. She's the personification of bravery, pushing on despite all of her fear. I love that she fucks up because despite her innate brilliance, she's still in training. Ugh, Clarice, perfect Clarice.

AGONY

PAIN

LOVE -- IT


SUSPIRIA  (2018, Luca Guadagnino)

This one should be no surprise to anyone who has spent one second or more (or less, let's be real) interacting with me. Believe it or not, I still have things to say about Suspiria, yes, even after four Gaylords of Darkness episodes about it (including, umm, that one where we talked about it with Luca Guadagnino and David Kajganich), even after I spent the entirety of last SHOCKtober talking about nothing but it. There is always more to say about this film that is woven into my DNA...but you have to wait for that more to say! I can't wait to say something about that more to say, but the time to say it is not now. *evil laugh*

 

THE FOG (1980, John Carpenter)

My favorite ghost story. Gimme that glowing fog rolling in and over the streets of Antonio Bay. Gimme every single one of Nancy Loomis's sarcastic "yes, ma'am"s. Gimme her and the rest of this incredible cast. Gimme the legend of the Elizabeth Dane. Gimme that classic John Carpenter score. Gimme a stomach pounder and a Coke! Gimme the terror of that slow, insistent rapping on Mrs. Kobritz's door. Gimme the glowing eyes of Captain Blake and his crew. Gimme the Stevie Wayne lifestyle, because there has never been and there will never be anyone cooler.


[REC] (2007, Jaume Balageró and Paco Plaza)

Ángela Vidal is second only to Clarice Starling in the horror movie heroine department for me,and in a just world she would have gotten out of that building, solved the pandemic plague possession curse thing, and gone on to win every Pulitzer Prize in history for her fearless reporting. This movie is the only found footage movie where "don't stop filming!" isn't just, like, a way for the audience to go "Oh, so that's why they haven't put the camera down." Here it's a journalist's ethos and battle cry! The government is lying to the residents of that unfortunate apartment building and essentially holding them all hostage, and Ángela Vidal is going to find out why, dammit, no matter the cost. I love her. And I love this movie. It's a found footage masterpiece if you ask me; I know there are sneaky edits in there, but so much of [REC] feels unedited, like we're actually watching this story unfold as it happens. The choreography as they go up and down that massive staircase and in and out of various apartments! Seamless. There are killer jump scares, lots of blood and formative sequences galore. How many other found footage horror movies have used the night vision and someone getting dragged away into the darkness bits of this film's closing moments? The Blair Witch Project may have brought found footage into mainstream horror, but [REC] stands right next to it as one of the most influential in terms of subgenre tropes. Once Ángela and the crew leave the fire station, this movie does not let up. It keeps building and building until we're in that attic, groping around in the dark...and when we finally see what's up there, hot damn. I still hold my breath every time. I love this movie so much.

 

FATAL FRAME (2014, Mari Asato)

I only saw this movie less than a week ago, but here it is regardless. That's how deeply this movie resonated with me. Today we dropped an episode about it on Gaylords of Darkness, where you can hear me really expound on it. Man, it just ticked so many boxes for me:

  • gothic overtones
  • J-horror
  • girlschool horror
  • it's based on a video game (WHAT? I KNOW)
  • it's so beautiful
  • it's so gay
  • it's directed by a woman
  • it made me emotional!
  • so many bitchin' sequences

If you listen to Gaylords, then you know that I'm currently vibing with J- and K-horror more than ever before right now. The melancholy that hangs over all of my favorites (like the entire Whispering Corridors series above!) is perfectly in tune with the melancholy that I feel as I isolate during this pandemic. They don't make me sadder, they are simply in tune with my current wavelength, and they are a comfort. Fatal Frame came out of nowhere and knocked me right out. I was expecting ghosts in a girls' school, and I got that. But I also got a touching story about friendship and love and rejecting the paths that society demands we follow. It's a gorgeous film, and I have absolutely no qualms about having it on my list despite the fact that it's been in my life for such a short time. It'll be around forever. Sometimes you just know, you know?

PHEW THAT'S IT, IT'S FINALLY DONE. Here are the other films that vied for a coveted spot: Hell Night (1981), Thelma (2017), Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Shining (1980), Pulse (aka Kairo, 2001), Black Christmas (1974), The Ring (2002), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), The Thing (1982)

SHOCKtober: 336-305



Can you believe that we've counted down more than 600 movies already? And there are still over 300 to go? Our SHOCKtober overfloweth! At a rate of one movie per day, it would take about 2.5 years to watch them all! I know this is just basic math, but still. So many movies, and yet it is but a drop in the cinematic ocean. There are so many horror movies that aren't on the list! Classic, timeless, important works--nowhere to be seen. 

For example, Amityville Dollhouse. Look, I don't want to give away the super secret plot or anything, but it's about a dollhouse shaped like the Amityville house. AND YET IT'S MISSING FROM THE LIST. Oh well, maybe in 2025. Something to look forward to!

Each of the following films received two votes.

336. They Live -- 1988, John Carpenter
335. Tragedy Girls -- 2017, Tyler MacIntyre
334. Twins of Evil -- 1971, John Hough
333. V/H/S -- 2012, there are nine male directors and I am not listing them all, who cares
332. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders -- 1970, Jaromil Jires
331. Vampyr -- 1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer
330. What Lies Beneath -- 2000, Robert Zemeckis
329. What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? -- 1969, Lee H. Katzin & Bernard Girard
328. WNUF Halloween Special -- 2013, Chris LaMartina
327. YellowBrickRoad -- 2010, Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton
326. You're Killing Me -- 2015, Jim Hansen
325. Zombie (aka Zombi 2) -- 1979, Lucio Fulci

Each of the following films received three votes!

324. A Dark Song -- 2016, Liam Gavin
323. Alien 3 -- 1992, David Fincher
322. As Above, So Below -- 2014, John Erick Dowdle
321. Beetlejuice -- 1988, Tim Burton
320. The Black Cat -- 1934, Edgar G. Ulmer
319. Black Sabbath -- 1963, Mario Bava
318. Blood and Black Lace -- 1964, Mario Bava
317. Blood Quantum -- 2019, Jeff Barnaby
316. Blue Sunshine -- 1977, Jeff Lieberman
315. Bubba Ho-Tep -- 2002, Don Coscarelli
314. Byzantium -- 2012, Neil Jordan
313. Cannibal Holocaust -- 1980, Ruggero Deodato
312. Cemetery Man (aka Dellamorte Dellamore) -- 1994, Michele Soavi
311. Crimson Peak -- 2015, Guillermo del Toro
310. Cube -- 1997, Vincenzo Natali
309. Cujo -- 1983, Lewis Teague
308. Dog Soldiers -- 2002, Neil Marshall
307. Dolls -- 1987, Stuart Gordon
306. Don't Go to Sleep -- 1982, Richard Lang
305. Dracula -- 1931, Tod Browning & Karl Freund


  • DOLLS, bitch! It's so much fun, a total bonkers fairy tale with some of the best killer doll action horror has to offer. You can't go wrong with Stuart Gordon, can you? No, you cannot. It occurs to me that it would be great Halloween viewing, and in the future I solemnly swear to shout it out as such.
  • Is this a good time for me to admit that I've never seen Cemetery Man?
  • This is a good reminder to watch Don't Go to Sleep again (or for the first time, if you've never seen it!), one of made-for-TV horror's finest offerings. You can't go wrong with Valerie Harper, can you? No, you cannot.
  • Of Cube, a reader says: "Hands down best use of silence in a film EVER."
  • I'll be talking more about one of the films that is listed today when I post my 20 faves some time this week! *evil laugh*

SHOCKtober: 364-337



SPOILER ALERT today is the last days of, shall we say, the full twosies. I will miss the sort of platonic horror nerd "missed connections" vibe of the last few days, but if there's one thing we should all know by now, it's that SHOCKtober marches ever onward. This is a countdown, after all, not a countstayinoneplace or whatever. So please, enjoy this last list chunk that solely comprises films that received two votes each, for tomorrow will soon be here. Nothing gold can stay!

364. The Convent -- 2000, Mike Mendez
363. The Devil Rides Out -- 1968, Terence Fisher
362. The Devil's Rejects -- 2005, Rob Zombie
361. The Endless -- 2017, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
360. The Fly -- 1958, Kurt Neumann
359. The Fourth Kind -- 2009, Olatunde Osunsanmi
358. The Girl with All the Gifts -- 2016, Colm McCarthy
357. The Haunting of Julia (aka Full Circle) -- 1977, Richard Loncraine
356. The Hills Have Eyes -- 2006, Alexandre Aja
355. The House by the Cemetery -- 1981, Lucio Fulci
354. The House of the Laughing Windows (aka The House with Laughing Windows)-- 1976, Pupi Avati
353. The Initiation -- 1984, Larry Stewart & Peter Crane
352. The Keep -- 1983, Michael Mann
351. The Last House on the Left -- 1972, Wes Craven
350. The Legend of Boggy Creek -- 1972, Charles B. Pierce
349. The Monster Club -- 1981, Roy Ward Baker
348. The Monster Squad -- 1987, Fred Dekker
347. The Night Stalker -- 1972, John Llewellyn Moxey
346. The Pact -- 2012, Nicholas McCarthy
345. The Prowler -- 1981, Joseph Zito
344. The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- 1975, Jim Sharman
343. The Stepfather -- 1987, Joseph Ruben
342. The Town That Dreaded Sundown -- 1976, Charles B. Pierce
341. The Village -- 2004, M. Night Shyamalan
340. The Void -- 2016, Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski
339. The Watcher in the Woods -- 1980, John Hough & Vincent McEveety
338. Them (aka Ils) -- 2006, David Moreau & Xavier Palud
337. Them! -- 1954, Gordon Douglas

  • I am so into The House by the Cemetery, it's my favorite Fulci film. It's got his patented grossness and some genuine chills. It's got a New England gothic haunted house vibe that speaks to who I am and everything I love. And most importantly, it's got Bob. HAHA just kidding Bob BOB? BOB! BOB BOB BOB is too much but even BOB cannot dampen my feelings for this film!
  • LOVE to see two Charles B. Pierce movies represented! I just picked up The Evictors which is a new one for me but Pierce + Jessica Harper means I'm sure to dig it.
  • Surely I don't need to reiterate how much I love The Convent, but I would like to point out that it is somehow more than 20 years old???? I feel like that makes me somehow more than 120 years old????
  • The Haunting of Julia is such a GD beautiful, atmospheric downer and more people would know that IF IT EVER GOT SOME KIND OF POST-VHS RELEASE
  • Speaking of beautiful, atmospheric films, if you love art and dread then you should check out The House with Laughing Windows ASAP. Criminally underseen. CRIMINALLY I SAY

SHOCKtober: 397-365



I love the chunks o' list that covers the two vote films for I love to imagine the voters finding each other and being like...


So nod away, you unlikely duos...each of the following films received two votes!

397. ParaNorman -- 2012, Chris Butler & Sam Fell
396. Pet Sematary II -- Mary Lambert
395. Prevenge -- 2016, Alice Lowe
394. Prom Night -- 1980, Paul Lynch
393. Prometheus -- 2012, Ridley Scott
392. Puppet Master -- 1989, David Schmoeller
391. Quatermass and the Pit -- Roy Ward Baker
390. Safe -- 1995, Todd Haynes
389. Saw -- 2004, James Wan
388. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark -- 2019, André Øvredal
387. Scream 3 -- 2000, Wes Craven
386. Season of the Witch (aka Hungry Wives) -- 1972, George A. Romero
385. Seven -- 1995, David Fincher
384. Shadow of the Vampire -- 2000, E. Elias Merhige
383. Shivers -- 1975, David Cronenberg
382. Signs -- 2002, M. Night Shyamalan
381. Sinister -- 2012, Scott Derrickson
380. Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers -- 1988, Michael A. Simpson
379. Sorority House Massacre -- 1986, Carol Frank
378. Spring -- 2014, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
377. Strait-Jacket -- 1964, William Castle
376. Strangeland -- 1998, John Pieplow
375. Street Trash -- 1987, James M. Muro
374. Summer of 84 -- 2018, François Simard, Anouk Whissell, & Yoann-Karl Whissell
373. The Amityville Horror -- 1979, Stuart Rosenberg
372. The Bay -- 2012, Barry Levinson
371. The Blob -- 1958, Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr & Russell S. Doughten Jr
370. The Borderlands (aka Final Prayer) -- 2013, Elliot Goldner
369. The Brides of Dracula -- 1960, Terence Fisher
368. The Cell -- 2000, Tarsem Singh
367. The Children -- 1980, Max Kalmanowicz
366. The Company of Wolves -- 1984, Neil Jordan
365. The Conjuring 2 -- 2016, James Wan

  • Ah yes, Amityville. I totally understand the love, for a love of all things Amityville is embedded in my DNA. It doesn't have much to do with the quality of the films or believing the story is true or whether or not one thinks the Warrens were a couple of con artists or anything...it's just...there. Part of it, I think, owes to when one first sees the '79 film or reads Jay Anson's book (or both). To a youth, they are about the epitome of terror--especially that ridculous oversized purple demon pig Jody. It's also the sheer bizarreness of it all as a pop culture phenomenon and the way we've all sort of silently agreed to act like it's all real and we're afraid of it while secretly we all know it's a big dumb crock of shit. It feels even more uniting than Hands Across America, which was...okay, that was a big dumb crock of shit, too. Shhh!
  • Safe! I will be first in line any time Todd Haynes wants to make a movie about a woman named Carol.
  • As for Strangeland, a reader says: "Dee Snider has played with my heart over a sequel for the last 20 years. I believe him every time he says he's making it and I am disappointed every time, yet I WANT TO BELIEVE!"

SHOCKtober: 428-398



Here we are, still in the realm of where, as the Spice Girls might say, "2 become 1." Except here the two stay as two...? I am tired. The point is, each of the following films received two votes!

428. Ghost Story -- 1981, John Irvin
427. Ghostbusters -- 1984, Ivan Reitman
426. Gothic -- 1986, Ken Russell
425. Graduation Day -- 1981, Herb Freed
424. Halloween II -- 2009, Rob Zombie
423. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers -- 1988, Dwight H. Little
422. Halloween -- 2007, Rob Zombie
421. Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages -- 1922, Benjamin Christensen
420. Hell Night -- 1981, Tom DeSimone
419. Hellbent -- 2004, Paul Etheredge
418. High Tension -- 2003, Alexandre Aja
417. Horror Express -- 1972, Eugenio Martín
416. Horror of Dracula -- 1958, Terence Fisher
415. Host -- 2020, Rob Savage
414. Hostel: Part II -- 2007, Eli Roth
413. Hour of the Wolf -- 1968, Ingmar Bergman
412. Housebound -- 2014, Gerard Johnstone
411. Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte -- Robert Aldrich
410. In a Glass Cage -- 1986, Agustí Villaronga
409. Kill List -- 2011, Ben Wheatley
408. Kuroneko (aka The Black Cat) -- 1968, Kaneto Shindô
407. Lake Placid -- 1999, Steve Miner
406. Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural -- 1973, Richard Blackburn
405. Let Me In -- 2010, Matt Reeves
404. Lights Out -- 2016, David F. Sandberg
403. Little Shop of Horrors -- 1986, Frank Oz
402. Maximum Overdrive -- 1986, Stephen King
401. Motel Hell -- 1980, Kevin Connor
400. Night Warning (aka Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker) -- 1981, William Asher
399. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master -- 1988, Renny Harlin
398. Only Lovers Left Alive -- 2013, Jim Jarmusch


  • No movie in the whole entire history of ever brings together the talents of Vanna White, Linnea Quigley, Christopher George, and a Football-With-a-Sword-Attached besides Graduation Day. It is the only movie! And that is worth something. And that picture of my beloved Football-With-a-Sword-Attached? About 15 years ago I paused my VHS copy of Graduation Day and took a picture of my television so I could talk about that iconic moment here at Final Girl, because that is the way I did things here at Final Girl at the time. Yes, since then I have upgraded to the Blu-ray of Graduation Day, but I do not want to update that picture with a fancy, hi-def screencap where you can actually tell, like, what's going on. I only ever want to post that shitty photo because it is a good reminder for me of this site's very early days and very humble beginnings, when I had not written anything about horror movies for public consumption (or even for my own private consumption, to be fair). It was a time when the internet was a kinder, gentler, weirder place that felt full of creative opportunities--and I don't mean financial opportunities or exposure opportunities or what have you. It was simply a new platform and people were making stuff not for clout or to be cool, but because they just wanted to do it. I certainly had no idea what I was doing. I just wanted to talk about horror movies--and there was nothing fancy about Final Girl at all, as that picture demonstrates. Final Girl isn't particularly fancy now ("Yeah, we know" - you), but the pictures are usually nicer than those days where I posted tiny-sized pictures I took of my TV screen or awful scans from horror magazines. There isn't much point to all of this rambling except to say that it was a good time! And if you were around back then, thank you. If you've found this place since then, thank you. If you are Graduation Day, thank you: All hail the Football-With-a-Sword-Attached.