Weekly Gravy is continuing on from last week’s look at the ghoulish wonders available on Netflix Instant to bring you another week’s worth of programming that will keep you in the mood for Halloween shenanigans the entire month long. Last week’s theme was monsters and creatures and hopefully you enjoyed the selection of titles from the fun to the terrifying. This week the running theme is a real witch’s brew: spells, curses and spirits. What scary fun do we have in store for you this week? Well, sadly, Hocus Pocus (1993) isn’t available on Instant so you’ll have to seek that one out yourself.
Wednesday the 8th – The Craft (1996)
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the stretch of time that I was ‘enjoying’ my teenage years was also an incredible time for youth-oriented fare both at the movies and on television. Perhaps it’s not and I was just incredibly lucky to have great material to sink my fledgling horror teeth into. There’s no denying that thanks to shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files and, yes, even Charmed, there was no shortage of small-screen supernatural horrors for us geeks and outcasts. Meanwhile, at the movies Scream (1996) kickstarted a slasher renaissance. The Craft’s success is more cultish than mainstream, but it’s a deliciously wicked good time when being into witchcraft was the coolest and former child star Fairuza Balk was the best.
Thursday the 9th – The Keep (1983)
I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in parts of The Keep, and the film certainly sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the career of director Michael Mann – he’s the man behind Heat (1995), Ali (2001) and Collateral (2004) amongst others – but there’s something addictive about this mix of Nazis and ancient spirit curses in the Romanian countryside. Just watch and wonder.
Friday the 10th – Carrie (1976)
A teenage girl is cursed with the power of telekinesis, which she eventually unleashes upon the crowd of gawking onlookers at the prom after a prank by the popular kids. It’s about much more than all of that, but even on a base level Brian De Palma’s original and best Carrie (forget the sequel, the remake and TV version) is simply just a scary, eye-popping vision of terror. The climactic prom sequence is its most famous, but another involving a pig farm and a mallet isn’t for the faint of heart. Likewise, the storyline between Carrie and her fundamentalist mother is rife with malice.
Saturday the 11th – Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013)
A remake of a 1979 Australian classic, Patrick: Evil Awakens is a dark and gloomy film starring Sharni Vinson as a care nurse hired to help brain-dead coma patients, including one named Patrick. She soon begins to suspect he has more of a spirit to him than previously expected and is out to kill her and those around her including the potentially evil boss, the malevolent hospital warden, and her ex. The curse that lingers over Patrick’s body allows him to communicate much like Carrie through mental telekinesis, but in one of the film’s ickiest gags all he really wants is a handy.
Sunday the 12th – House of the Devil (2009)
Good grief, give this one time. It’s only 95-minutes long and you may feel like it’s just waffling about, but by the time the end credits roll your heart will be rolling about somewhere on the other side of the room. Uneasy and unnerving, Ti West’s retro throwback follows a babysitter and the strange happenings that befall her on the night of a full lunar eclipse. It even has Greta Gerwig from Frances Ha (2013) in a small role.
Monday the 13th – Candyman (1992)
“If you look in the mirror and you say his name 5 times, he’ll appear behind you breathing down your neck.” So goes the urban legend that sends a young grad student down the rabbit hole that is Candyman. Based on Clive Barker’s short story ‘The Forbidden,’ the film is gory, sure, but where it really succeeds is in garnering so much dread from the decaying urban environment that surrounds these characters. This isn’t a film to watch distracted by smartphones, but rather an intelligent and actually very sophisticated horror. As sophisticated as you can get with a mythical serial killer who has a hook for a hand, I guess.
Tuesday the 14th – Shivers (1975)
In some films, witches brew a potion and cast a spell. In a David Cronenberg, the witch is a scientist/doctor, the potion is a venereal parasite and the spell is uncontrollable sexual desire. It sounds mad, but that’s because it is. Cronenberg, that wonderful Canadian director of grotesque body horrors like Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988) and Crash (1996) certainly made a splash with Shivers, his first film, and this is just the kind of sick film you can proudly use to disgust your co-workers with a day later.
Join us next week when we share more Halloween recommendations.