Every October I start the month with the idea to watch 31 horror movies in 31 days in honor of Halloween, but I usually only end up making it to the half way mark and then I get bored or just don’t find the time to watch them… This year is going to be different, I’m going to do it.
I will keep track of which movies I watch on this post, along with little simple reviews and thoughts of each one. And if anyone has any suggestions of any horror flicks I should be watching, please leave a comment or tweet them at me @treding.
1. Cabin in the Woods
Ever wonder why these kids that go away to stay in a cabin in the woods always get attacked by killer zombies or weird creatures? Well Cabin in the Woods gives you a look into why that keeps happening. This is one of my favorite horror movies of the past few years and I tend to watch it about every other month so it was a no brainer to make this the first flick of October.
It’s not the scariest movie in the world, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
2. Cabin Fever
Eli Roth’s first movie made him a household name in horror, but watching it again 13 years after I saw it in theaters, it’s apparent that this is the first feature from a new writer/director. I still enjoy it for the most part, but a lot of the jokes are very immature and pretty dumb… I’m not a very politically correct person, but calling everything “gay” as in “dumb or stupid” is what a teenager would do, especially the amount of times it’s used in that context. Also, PAAAANCAAAAKES!!!!
If you look past the pretty bad dialogue, the premise is still pretty creepy. Kids go to a cabin in the woods for a week and one by one are infected by a flesh eating bacteria that starts to rip them apart… literally. Despite the Eli Roth horror movies not being the greatest horror movies, I do still enjoy them, so I’m looking forward to The Green Inferno coming out soon.
I remember hearing about this movie when it first went into production under the name Backmask a few years ago. It was directed by Marcus Nispel who directed the remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Jessica Biel, which I enjoyed, and Friday the 13th, which I didn’t enjoy as much. Nispel started off directing music videos, so you can kinda see how that style comes into his film making.
The movie itself is about a group of teens that throw a huge part at what used to be an old asylum for mentally ill children. After the party has subsided, a small group of friends are left when one of them becomes possessed and shit starts to hit the fan. There is a deeper backstory, or an attempt at one, but ultimately the movie kind of falls flat, isn’t all that scary or suspenseful and the ending kind of fell flat. I want to make sure I watch some horror movies I’ve never seen this month, so I’m glad I crossed this off the list, but I can’t recommend it. It’s streaming on Netflix if you wanna check it out though.
4. The Strangers
Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings, and various Aerosmith videos) and Scott Speedman (the Underworld movies) go back to Speedman’s parents house after a wedding, and a proposal gone bad, to wallow in their misery and awkwardly sit at the kitchen table until three masked strangers decide to terrorize them.
I thought this movie was pretty solid. The first half definitely builds the suspense a lot more than the last half, but when Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny) shows up, shit get’s kind of crazy. Despite the fact that the characters make some stupid decisions, I still enjoyed it. It’s a super short movie so it gets right to the point pretty quickly and then it’s over before you know it. Some people might have a problem with the way it ends, but I’m a fan of the ending and like that it decided to be a bit different.
5. The Evil Dead
Sam Raimi’s classic “cabin in the woods” tale of a group of friends who stumble upon the book of the dead. Upon playing a tape with the translation of the text in the book, evil spirits arise and begin to possess the friends one by one until only Ash (Bruce Campbell) is left to fight off the deadites. Arguably more horror driven than the “comedic” sequel, I still like the original a lot and it definitely still holds up to multiple viewings.
6. The Evil Dead II
I couldn’t watch the first one and then not watch the second one.
The Evil Dead II is sort of a weird movie in the fact that it starts out with a flashback to the story from the first movie, only different. Part 2 is definitely a direct sequel to the original, but when the movie opens and shows the events that happened in The Evil Dead, there are no friends, it’s just Ash and his girlfriend at the cabin, which makes it a little confusing to follow in the sequence of things. But if you go into it knowing that what you’re watching at the beginning is just a retelling of the 1st one, then it leads into the sequel quite well.
The Evil Dead II still has the deadites coming after Ash, but this one is considerably more satirical and comedic compared to the first one. The blood and gore is ridiculously over the top, the dialogue is tongue-in-cheek at times, and the acting is Bruce Campbell at his best. Most people consider this sequel better than the original and some would even tell you to just skip the original all together. I still say watch the original, but if you had to choose only one of them to watch, watch The Evil Dead II.
7. Evil Dead (2013)
Some people refer to it as a reboot, some people think it’s a sequel to Evil Dead 2 that takes place about 30 years after the original and a new family has purchased the cabin and fixed it up and has been using it for the last 20… and the book of the dead still finds its way back. Whatever you want to call it, Evil Dead (2013) throws all of the charm and genius of the original movies out the window. There is nothing even reminiscent of Sam Raimi in this flick, except his old car… but that’s not a bad thing.
If you go into this a fan of the original series expecting the satirical stance that the previous films took you’re going to be disappointed, but if you go into this expecting a new take on the same overall story, then you might enjoy it. I personally do enjoy this flick, and I’m a big fan of the originals. This one is far more grounded and has absolutely none of the slapstick comedy you will find in the previous films. It’s gory and brutal as all hell; there’s no laughing deer heads and lamps in this one folks. The gore might be a little over-the-top and used for the sake of shock value, but every once in a while I enjoy a good shlock fest and this movie definitely delivers.
8. Club Dread
I needed a break from the gory horror movies that made up a good chunk of the prior ones on this list, so I opted to watch Broken Lizard’s Club Dread. This movie gets a lot of hate from people since it didn’t really live up to the genius that is Super Troopers, but I still find it fairly enjoyable, and it was a nice change of pace.
Club Dread is about a group of counselors working on a vacation island run by a knock-off Jimmy Buffet character. The staff is all about making sure everyone is having a good time, but when the staff starts getting murdered they have to keep up the front while they try to figure out who the murderer is.
Like I said, not nearly as funny or entertaining as Broken Lizard’s Super Troopers, but still a good movie to watch when you’re just looking for something a bit lighter and more fun, but still a horror movie.
9. You’re Next
A nice family reunion is ruined when a group of masked assailants start murdering the family members one by one. It sounds like the same premise as “The Strangers”, but it’s far from it. I actually like this one a lot more than I like The Strangers. It’s not quite as gritty and serious feeling as The Strangers and even has a sweet little montage set to an awesome 80’s horror movie style synth soundtrack.
I saw this one in the theaters when it came out and I think this is my 3rd viewing of it since then and it’s still a great flick. Who knew Sharni Vinson from Step Up 3D could kick so much ass.
10. Planet Terror
Robert Rodriguez’s portion of the Grindhouse movie that follows various characters as they deal with a toxic gas leak that turns people into puss filled zombies.
The Grindhouse movie was a concept put together by Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino where each of them would direct a full length feature in the style of old grindhouse horror/thriller movies. They would be shown back to back in the movie theater with fake trailers in between. One of those trailers was directed by Rodriguez himself, and then Eli Roth directed one along with Rob Zombie. Rodriguez’s trailer was actually for a movie called “Machete” which ended up being turned into a full length feature itself, as well as a sequel… and yes, they are solid films if you like Grindhouse, so check them out.
Planet Terror is my favorite of the two movies under the Grindhouse banner, but only because I’m a sucker for zombie movies and over-the-top ridiculous gore. I mean, when a zombie gets shot and each gunshot produces an explosion of blood, I’m in. But just because it’s my favorite doesn’t mean I don’t also like Tarantino’s entry, which is next on on the list.
11. Death Proof
Quentin Tarantino’s half of the Grindhouse flick isn’t as much of a horror flick as Planet Terror is, but it still felt like it fit the theme of the month. Death Proof follows two groups of girls as they are stalked by a crazy stuntman with a death proof car. I always say that I like Planet Terror more than Death Proof, and that still holds true, but after watching the Tarantino flick again I actually enjoyed it quite a bit more than I remember.
12. The Final Girls
The Final Girls is a horror/comedy about a girl, Max, whose mother was the star of an 80’s slasher movie that has become a cult classic over the years. Her mother tragically passes away in a car accident when she’s a teenager and she’s left to live with her aunt. After avoiding the movie for years, she decides to attend a screening of her mom’s movie at a local theater as a favor to a friend’s step-brother. During the screening the theater catches on fire causing everyone to panic and run towards the exit. During the commotion, Max and her friends cut a hole in the movie theater screen to gain access to the exit behind the screen… however instead of ending up behind the screen, they end up in the movie itself…
I thought this movie was a lot of fun. It’s funny and smart and tugs at the emotional heart strings a bit… but there’s also a bit of gore, well enough to keep a PG-13 rating, not to mention a lot of familiar faces that pop up.
13. Shaun of the Dead
If you haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead by now then I don’t know if we can be friends. Edgar Wright’s zombie flick starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is one of my favorite zombie movies of all time. If you haven’t seen this one yet make sure you check it out before Halloween. It’s the perfect mix of comedy and horror.
14. Idle Hands
This will be the last horror/comedy movie on this list, from here on out it’s going to be mostly classics or just straight horror. Devon Sawa, Jessica Alba and Seth Green star in this one about a lazy kid whose hand gets possessed by the devil and leads him on a killing spree. I saw this movie for the first time in high school and have probably watched it 100 times since then. It’s dumb as hell, but there are so many one liners that I still quote to this day… “Rip off your clothes and make sweet love to you red shoe diaries style…” “George found a new home” “Go, go Buffalo”, none of which will make any sense if you haven’t seen the movie, or if you have no clue what red shoe diaries is. It’s definitely not as smart as Shaun of the Dead, or something like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, but it’s an easy watch and never takes itself seriously while still having some decent death scenes.
15. Friday the 13th (1980)
Like I said, back to the classics. While it doesn’t hold up quite as well today as it did when I first saw it in the 80’s, Friday the 13th is still a staple in my horror collection, and I do rewatch it every couple years. If you’re unfamiliar with the story I’m not sure why this post interests you at all because this should be on every horror fan’s list. A group of camp counselors get murdered one by one as a crazy serial killer hunts them down. Someone isn’t too happy that camp Crystal Lake has reopened after the tragedy that struck in years past.
Friday the 13th was created as a way to cash in on the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween and was one of Kevin Bacon’s first acting gigs… spoiler alert, he doesn’t last long… And while I can’t remember the very first time I saw this flick, the series is still one of my overall favorites in the horror genre, even when they start to get ridiculous… but that’s half the fun.
16. The Thing (John Carpenter)
One of my favorite movies of all time is John Carpenter’s The Thing. On a remote research base in Antarctica, things begin to get tense when an alien life form starts taking over animals and people. In an attempt to hide itself from it’s surroundings, it kills the original host and creates an exact replica of it. Obviously since it’s creating an exact copy of whatever it kills, there’s no way to know who is real and who is an alien. Such a good movie, I have to watch it at least once a year.
17. The Green Inferno
Eli Roth directs this homage to cannibal films like “Cannibal Holocaust”, but comes up a bit short. I remember seeing “Cannibal Holocaust” for the first time and being utterly disturbed; I honestly don’t think I could watch it again if I wanted to. The producers of that flick were actually held by the police because the cops thought they actually killed the actors in the movie. The producers were released once they were able to provide proof that the actors were still alive… The Green Inferno never really brought that same feeling to me. There was one part near the end with a female character that had me cringing a bit, but even between all the blood and gore earlier on, it didn’t have quite the same impact on me as “Cannibal Holocaust” did. Now that’s not to say I thought it was terrible, but I feel like he could have done a bit more with it. There’s really only one scene of really graphic nature, nothing else was that graphic overall. I’m glad I checked it out, but I don’t know if I can really recommend it.
18. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
It doesn’t get much more meta than this one. In this world, A Nightmare on Elm Street was just a movie, and the people playing those roles were just actors. But when Wes Craven starts dreaming up a new Nightmare on Elm Street script, everything he dreams about happens in real life to Heather Langenkamp and her son Dillon.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one, I usually just watch the original, but this is a solid flick. It’s kind of a nice lead in to Scream (which Wes Craven directed, but didn’t write). It’s got that same sort of feel where horror movies are just movies in these worlds, but the horror slowly starts to creep into real life.
Speaking of Wes Craven, he passed away a few couple months ago after battling brain cancer, but he will always be the person that introduced me to the horror genre, and got me excited about it. Well, my older cousins actually introduced me to the movie, but “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is the first horror movie I can vividl remember watching as a kid and having it scare the shit out of me. I can still picture the house we watched it in, it was a family party of some sort. Most of the adults were out in the back of the house mingling and drinking, and us kids were in the front room watching the movie. I couldn’t sleep for a week, but I’ll never forget it even though I was probably only 5-6 years old at the time.
I watched this movie when it first came out and remember liking it a lot so I bought the blu-ray and then never watched it again until today… and it’s definitely a solid flick. I’m not sure if it falls into the “horror” genre really, but it’s listed as action/horror so I went with it.
The story itself has a bit of an Aliens meets The Descent type vibe to it. A guy wakes up from sleep stasis and can’t remember anything. He was part of the flight team on a mission to colonize a new Earth-like planet. Eventually his Lieutenant wakes up also and they work to try and get the ship’s power back online. As they make their way through the ship towards the reactor they begin to realize that they are not alone, and not everything is as it seems.
It’s not as good as Aliens or The Descent, but it’s still got a great feel to it.
20. The Lost Boys
Kiefer Sutherland, Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter), and their gang of vampire kids are terrorizing a California town when Corey Haim and his brother move into the area. Obviously Corey Feldman and his brother, aka the Frog brothers, have known about the vampires for a while now, but apparently nobody else has… except maybe grandpa.
Straight out of the late 80’s and it’s painfully obvious, which is definitely not a bad thing. Still one of the best vampire movies out there and just a good time. Whenever “The Corey’s” show up in a movie together you know you’re in for a treat.
21. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
I know I said I wasn’t going to watch this one this year, but I lied. It’s been hard to cram in actual scary/gory horror movies at night before bed so I opted for another horror/comedy. Tucker and Dale are just two back country boys looking to clean up their newly purchased vacation home in the woods until they rescue a college girl that fell into the lake and knocked herself unconscious. When her friends see Tucker and Dale rowing away from them with the girl in their boat, they immediately think that she was kidnapped and vow to seek them out and get their friend back… which leads to a series of very unfortunate events.
22. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
“High Tension” brought Alexandre Aja’s name to the U.S. market and for good reason. That movie is still one of my favorites to come out after 2000, so when I heard that he was going to be directing a remake of Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes” I was pretty excited. Even though I’m not a big fan of the original, I thought that Aja would bring something more to the table, and I was not disappointed.
A family of 6 and a baby (father, mother, teenage kids, 1 adult kid, her husband and baby) set off on a cross country roadtrip to San Diego in their rv. As they start to cross the desert, they stop for gas and are told by the nice old man at the gas station about a short cut through the mountains. Obviously there is no shortcut and they are ambushed by the people living in the hills.
23. Goodnight, Mommy
Two twin boys anxiously await the arrival of their mother who has been receiving some sort of cosmetic surgery, but when she returns home with her face bandaged, the kids begin to suspect that this may not be their mother.
I had seen the trailer for this movie a while back and then had my memory refreshed when a friend recommended that I check it out during this horror marathon I was doing, so I did. It’s a little slow in the pacing, but it’s super creepy. My only complaint about this one is that I was able to figure out what was happening within the first 5-10 minutes of the movie. But that didn’t really take away from the rest of the flick because towards the third act some stuff starts to happen that I really wasn’t expecting.
24. We Are Still Here
Randomly saw this trailer one day while getting sucked into YouTube videos and thought it looked decent. After losing their son in an accident, a mother and father relocate to a house on the outskirts of a small town. What they don’t realize is that there is a dark force at play and every 30 years the house “comes to life” and needs to claim a family in order to remain satisfied… but not everything is as it seems with this small town.
I thought the movie was just ok. It was super short and it seemed like a good chunk of the movie was just location establishing shots that weren’t absolutely necessary. It definitely had it’s creepy moments and it also had it’s gory moments. I really wasn’t expecting the 3rd act to be as brutal as it was from the way the first two acts played out, which was kind of a nice surprise. I can’t fully recommend this one, but if you’ve got an hour and 15 minutes and want to check out something that’s not a Hollywood jump scare fest, then go ahead and give this one a try.
Clearly I didn’t make it to 31 movies, but I feel like I did better this year than I have in any of the previous years. I finished off October by watching John Carpenter’s Halloween; the tale of Michael Meyers. While I don’t mind the Rob Zombie re-imagining, the original is still one of the greatest horror movies of all time, and still holds up today. If you haven’t seen this classic, make sure you add it to your list.
Well, that’s it. I didn’t make it to 31, but if you could the honorable mentions below that I watched just before October started, I got to 29, which is a lot closer than I thought I would get considering I have a 6-month old child to take care of. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to at least improve upon this number and reach my goal of 31 movies in 31 days, but I don’t want to have to just rewatch all the same movies again so leave some suggestions in the comments and let me know some good horror flicks that came out this year that I might have missed.
I watched a handful of horror movies before October started, but I didn’t want them to be left out of this list in case anyone is looking for some other flicks to check out.
M. Night Shyamalan’s attempts to win us back with this creepy POV-style movie about two kids that are sent off to stay with their grandparents for a week. Having never met them before, they immediately start to notice something odd about the two, but just assume that they are old people and have their quirks. Some of the writing choices seemed a bit weird to me, like the brother trying to be a rapper for some reason, but overall I thought it was a solid movie, and it’s only like an hour and twenty minutes long and paces pretty well.
It’s a solid entry from Shyamalan who’s had some pretty terrible outings the last couple times.
What would happen if vampires started taking over your office and you had to fight back to save the girl you love? Well, that’s exactly what happens here. This one is sort of like what would happen if a vampire movie met Office Space. It isn’t as great as I was hoping it would be, but still a decent entry into that comedy/horror genre that I’m a fan of. It stars Fran Kranz of Cabin in the Woods and Joey Kern from Cabin Fever, and I mean, come on, those two were the best parts of both of those movies.
Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell (who also wrote the flick), and Nasim Pedrad star in this horror/comedy about a zombie outbreak that only affects people that haven’t gone through puberty yet… and what better place for it to take place than an elementary school. Again, not as great as I thought it would be, but it’s rated R and had some solid horror moments. Give this one a watch if you’re not in the mood for a horror classic.
Another found footage movie, yay! Don’t get me wrong, I do like the found footage style of movies when they are done well, but The Gallows was not very good. It had a couple semi-creepy moments, but overall I wasn’t drawn in or impressed with it as a whole. 20 years after a student is accidentally hung and killed during a presentation of the play “The Gallows”, a group of students decide that it is time to put on that same play again… and of course things don’t go as planned…