Night 1: John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” Second viewing. God, I was fucking looking forward to this all year. I simply cannot get over the effects and the direction. Shlock that’s more than shlock, toxic masc posturing that’s so much more than that too. It’s still hilarious to me how this got hyper-panned on release and crawled at the box office, only to do the ultimate critical 180
Also the music is so perfect. Never underestimate the power of two notes
“The Thing” is like “Jaws” except that everyone is the shark
Night 2: “The Fly” (Cronenberg version). Second viewing. I guess we’re kicking things off body horror style so far. This movie is so deliciously gross
We’re about to get baked and watch The Wicker Man for night 3. Yes, the original. I’m terrified
Okay so yeah night 3: The Wicker Man. Second viewing. Pretty high. I think my first time, I did enjoy myself a lot, partly because I understood why I "should" and partly because I actually did. That said, there were some elements of the production design, editing, people's accents, etc., that I wanted to be a lot better than I felt they were. However, this time around I just felt positive, kind of like how I used to look down on deliberately lo fi music but nowadays I tend to get it.
Would I probably like a glossier, slicker, fully-produced version of this film (you know, not with Nic Cage in it... sorry)? Yeah. Would I say you can separate the quirky-ass Magical Mystery Tour costume aesthetics and folk rock soundtrack from this film and still come up with something good? Yeah. Do I think you NEED to take away all of the film's more rustic, low budget qualities? Definitely not. If I ran across this movie at 3 am on TV when I was young, I would have been fucked the hell up
PREEMPTIVE night 4 because we're going to have at least one busy night the next week: "The Blair Witch Project." Sry this has to happen every year. I've now lost track of how many times we've actually watched it; I just know that while the ending gets into some serious pacing problems, overall Blair Witch has no right to feel as "realistic" as it does. I'll always remember how the original viral publicity campaign felt so stupid and overhyped— well, it was, because most horror movies back then couldn't have good publicity campaigns. But I think the movie ultimately developed the influence it would later show not because of the campaign's efficacy but because the movie itself delivered just enough worthwhile moments that I have to question what people meant whenever they claimed they were bored by the whole thing. Really?
Night 5 (still ahead!): “Play Misty For Me.” First viewing. Nnnnot really horror/scary, and I have a number of complaints lol. Nonetheless, a pretty distinctive movie and I feel like there’s a lot of stuff to analyze in it re: how men are socialized to respond to abusive behavior. I did love getting to see Jessica Walter’s breakout performance.
Night 6 (still ahead): "An American Werewolf in Paris." First viewing. Also... might be the first John Landis movie I've actually watched, in terms of him actually directing it? Dunno. Anyway, I know he's a horrible person and I think I probably don't need to re-watch this movie after having seen it once. That said, I completely understand why it's iconic? I don't even mean the makeup/special effects either. The tonal whiplash is weirdly effective, and I liked a lot of central performances. It still lacked a je ne said quoi for me to actually LIKE it in an enduring way, but I think I'm glad I watched it for film buff reasons.
Violence, sexual assault
Re: not seeing any Landis before, jk, I've at least seen the "Thriller" video if that counts as a Landis movie. And then I'm pretty sure I saw the original Blues Brothers and just don't remember it.
Anyway, reminder that John Landis was responsible for the deaths of 3 people, and I guess his kid has been accused multiple times of sexual assault and harassment 🙃 winning family
Night 7: “Dawn of the Dead,” 1978 original, first viewing!
I just don’t care enough about zombie movies for them to ever be a big part of my horror cinema experience. However, after seeing “Night of the Living Dead” some other year and now this one, I think in a weird way I do like Romero’s definitive take on the subgenre... there’s just no reason for any other zombie movies to exist.
This one was really fun, really smart, and maybe not quiiiite my style the way that NotLD is, but like... yeah.
Night 8: “Clue.” As if we could ever leave that one out. I remain in absolute awe of how much business there is for every actor in every shot. Acting/directing goldmine.
Night 9: “The Ring” (US remake). Forgot to update last night. I think the Japanese original and this version each have their advantages, but I like defaulting to this one year after year because of how the cursed video is just so good, and because there are particular shots in the actual film that also really get in my head. This was another early turn-of-the-millennium thing that got overhyped but is still weirdly enjoyable.
Tonight's installment(s) are coming... soon!
Night 11: “Vertigo.” First viewing, actually. And therefore, I’m still digesting what I think. More to say tomorrow probably!
My thoughts on this one are still half-formed but I have to at least spit out that I am glad I went into this knowing that it's one of David Lynch's favorite movies. The doppelgänger energy is so intense, right down to the Maddie/Ferguson naming joke in Twin Peaks, and basically I felt as if I were watching a bizarro world actually-made-in-the-50s version of Twin Peaks meets Blue Velvet. Kim Novak's performance even made me think about Sheryl Lee.
I don't know if I "liked" this movie, because I can't say that about most Hitchcock, it's always more like "I was entertained and I understood why this thing was influential," but yeah. I have to keep thinking about this for a while
k I'm both behind on updating this AND behind on movies! But night 12 was "What We Do In the Shadows" (several viewings by now, still can't decide if I like the movie or the show more) and night 13 was "The Lost Boys" (second viewing, still absolutely glorious, and the biggest highlight is still sax god Tim Cappello). Intending to catch up with an extra movie or two this weekend.
Night 14: "The Masque of the Red Death" (the 60s Vincent Price movie). I'd never seen this before. I'm not terribly versed in Price's movies and I've only wound up seeing any because of who I'm married to, and he might harm me* for saying that I still don't entirely understand the hype about him other than that he was obviously a lovely guy. THAT SAID, I've never been less than entertained by the Price films I've seen before, and this one was probably my favorite so far. It ticks a number of my occult bullshit boxes and the script is oddly compelling and the inserted Hopfrog plotline is pretty much awesome. I'll probably want to watch this one again.
* consensually. We have fun.
Night 15 (last night): “Alien.” I‘ve lost track of how many times we’ve seen this one. It’s pretty much one of my favorite films of all time. I don’t know what else I can possibly say about it that hasn’t been said before
Night 16: currently near the end of a “Suspiria” rewatch (the original, not the new one). There’s... so much going on with this movie, and I’m still working out how I feel about it other than that the soundtrack and the cinematography completely whip ass— enough that I will gladly watch it on this basis alone. Is it really Deep Shit though? Or is it just Cool Shit? Haven’t made up my mind
Night 17 (late night double feature, caught up now!): “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Didn’t get to do a shadowcast this year... but we yelled at the screen as much as we could
Night 18: "Arsenic and Old Lace." This will always be more my husband's default Halloween movie than mine, but I have no problem with an annual viewing when the actresses playing the aunts are so delightful and I also get to watch Cary Grant be tied up and gagged for a bit~
Night 19 (forgot to update yesterday): "The Invitation." Yeah, that indie one you used to see available on Netflix all the time. Gave it a second rewatch. In many ways it's pretty conventional and most of the storyline you can see coming from a mile away. But ugh, the very end is so good, and I think much more surprising. And also I think surprises in horror matter a lot less than atmosphere; I can't be scared by much in any movie. But I can be fucked up by a lot, and this movie definitely qualifies.
Night 20 (last night, we’re behind): “What Lies Beneath.” First time I’ve seen it. I... understand why it got mixed reviews, but I also think some aspects are kind of underrated? Most of all, Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance really hooked me and was difficult to watch (in a good way).
Night 21: “Crimson Peak.” First viewing and oh shit, it was SO worth the hype.
Like, I’m going to be a gothic horror nerd and say it should reeeeeeally have been set a century prior, when the genre was really a “thing”— I guess the 1901 setting allowed better for starting in the US with an American protagonist? But it wouldn’t have been strictly necessary.
But that really didn’t detract from the movie being everything I really hoped it would be. Ugh, delicious filmmaking. Probably Del Toro’s second best. I love him, and everyone else who put this gory shitshow together
Night 22 (last night): “The Others.” I would say something about this except I’m about to go make a huge mistake— in the meantime let’s just say Nicole Kidman and Christopher Eccleston are so good every time
Soooooo yeah nights 23 and 24 were handled yesterday with “Interview With the Vampire” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” And we were high.
I’m not sure I’ve ever loved those dipshit vamps as much as I did this time around. Overall I think Anne Rice stuff is just bad but IWTV (in both book and movie form) creates this perfect synthesis of good-bad-amazing-horrible that I will eat up till the day I die. And when I’m baked then I get really excited about every scene.
As for the saga of Halloweentown, wow: I’ve never been high and watched a movie where there was so much for my eyes to notice that they hadn’t noticed before. Weed literally does make you focus on different shit. I was fascinated.
Night 25: "Midsommar." First viewing. I'm still digesting this one but of the two Ari Aster films out there rn I liked "Hereditary" more (despite having a giant beef with that one's ending). And I'm gonna go ahead and say that this one was overrated in terms of the shock value or emotional traumatization. There were things I liked about the cinematography and the performances, but I felt like the movie ramped up quickly and then didn't sustain the tension in meaningful ways; and the character psychology gets very obscured and hard to really appreciate by the end. That's like the really nutshell version of the 2+ hour conversation I've been having about it. Basically it wasn't awful (and it didn't feel impactful enough to qualify as gore porn or trauma porn), but it wasn't a revelation at all
Night 26 (last night): "The Babadook." Lost track of how many viewings I've done of this one, but probably less than ten. It tells me a lot about how I'm coping with my trauma issues each year— basically in terms of how fucked up I get by the end. This is the ultimate fuck-me-up horror spectacular and I will never apologize for how much I love it
Night 27 (last night, we're behind but we'll make up for it on Saturday): "Dark Water." This is an annual inclusion. Reason #1 is just my pathetic Jennifer Connelly stanning. Reason #2 is that it's honestly pretty good; I totally agree with any review that says you shouldn't think of it as an actual horror movie, just as a tragic drama, and on that level it works very very well (even if not as good as the best Connelly vehicles out there).
Oh special shoutout to John C. Reilly for playing the best slimy-ass worthless landlord
Oh and Pete Postlethwaite for just existing. And the main child actress who deserves an award for "cutest and least-annoying kid in a spooky movie"
Night 28 (last night): "Practical Magic." During this year's viewing I got ribbed about how funny it is that when I first watched it several years back I was skeptical about whether I'd like it at all, and now I get very excited to watch it every time. My disclaimer is always that there's a lot to put up with in this film— it's crammed with 90s clichés, it's weirdly paced, its portrayal of sisterhood solidarity is overwhelmingly white, and it's got a skincrawlingly pro-cop romantic subplot. Despite all of this, I still manage to be delighted for exactly two reasons: the chemistry between all the lead actresses, and admittedly those same sisterhood themes because of how (baggage time) I've never really gotten to have that experience in the first place, shrugmoji. tldr this is the biggest guilty pleasure inclusion for every Spoopfest
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