October is a fantastic time of the year for many reasons, but the best? It means having an excuse to watch horror movies anytime, anywhere. Zombies, witches, ghosts, serial killers, demons and any number of other ghastly ghoulish wonders take over the screen as they try to weasel their way into our psyche with nightmares, frights and gore. While we no longer have the thrill of perusing video rental store shelves hoping to come upon a new Halloween favorite based only on the bloody artwork of the VHS cover, we do at least have a whole database of scary films to stream on our beloved Netflix. So while this month certainly has its fair share of movies worth seeing at the cinema – Gone Girl, Birdman, Dear White People, and a selection of horror releases like The Town that Dreaded Sundown and Annabelle – you don’t have to bother if you follow this foolproof day-by-day viewing schedule.
Each week throughout October we will offer a daily guide to films you should be watching to get in the All Hallow’s Eve mood. This week’s theme is monsters and creatures.
Wednesday the 1st – Frankenstein’s Army (2013)
Filmmakers don’t need a collection of grotesque man-made creatures parading across the German countryside to make World War II horrific. While it’s perhaps irksome to use the very real-life horror of WWII for a movie designed to be so entertaining, there’s something altogether eye-popping about the creative grotesquery about Frankenstein’s Army as hideous patchworked Nazi monsters made from body parts of the dead with added killing apparatuses like drills and buzz-saws attached for bonus effect stalk a group of soldiers. It’s gruesome and entertaining.
Thursday the 2nd – The Stuff (1985)
When you think of great horror villains, an ice-cream/yoghurt substitute probably isn’t among the first to spring to mind. And yet in Larry Cohen’s, er, deliciously fun blend of horror and sci-fi, America has come under the hypnotic allure of a new snack food called simply “The Stuff.” Initially just a tasty treat, it quickly becomes all-consuming and The Stuff becomes a hilariously gooey take-down of mass-consumerism. It’s smarter than your average horror comedy.
Friday the 3rd – Slugs (1988)
“We’re dealing with a mutant kind of slug here, one that eats meat.” For a movie that prizes laughs over genuine scares, this Spanish/American film is remarkably effective. Like Of Unknown Origin (1983) before and Arachnophobia (1990) after, Slugs gets a lot of mileage out of simply having its titular creature villains be their usual gross selves. Watching these bugs creep and crawl, even in a film as ludicrous as this, will make your skin crawl without a doubt. If slugs are just too ugly for you, there’s always Frogs (1972).
Saturday the 4th –The Bay (2012)
Following on from Slugs we have The Bay, which somehow vanished into a blackhole when released despite being one of the most effective horror titles of recent years to use the popular found-footage aesthetic. Yes, there are too many these days – recent titles like As Above, So Below and The Sacrament were less successful – but Barry Levinson (yes, that Oscar-winning Barry Levinson) made a sick and tension-filled thriller about a town plagued by what else but mutant bugs on the Fourth of July.
Sunday the 5th – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Sometimes the most monstrous villains that filmmakers can concoct are the most realistic. In this truly disturbing and gut-churning document of a ruthless, irredeemable killer partly inspired by Henry Lee Lucas, the streets of Chicago are turned into a decaying playground for the twisted world of a murdering low-life. He is the antithesis of the wise-cracking slasher killer, and what better way to end your weekend than by being disgusted in the world? If you’d prefer something equally blood-splattered, but less traumatizing to the psyche, maybe you should check out Wolf Creek 2 (2014).
Monday the 6th – Hardware (1990)
What do you get when you mix the claustrophobic chills of Alien (1979), the futuristic design of Blade Runner (1982) and the technological nuttiness of The Terminator (1984)? Well, probably a big ol’ mess, but Hardware is probably the best-case scenario. This is a bonkers sci-fi horror film about a killer robot reborn out of the ashes of a future society. It makes little sense, but gosh it’s entertaining!
Tuesday the 7th – Creature (1985)
I don’t think anybody could claim that Creature isn’t just a cheap rip-off of Ridley Scott’s Alien set on Titan, a moon of Saturn. But if you’re going to mimic a far more famous movie, then at least do it like this. Much of the film’s loony power comes from the fact that it stars famed nutso Klaus Kinski (look him up if you’re unaware of his many moments of insanity), whose performance borders of vaudeville. It’s a wickedly good time even when it’s being completely terrible.
Join us next week for more fiendishly horrific good times…