Welcome to Black Dog’s 31 Days of Halloween. We love October, the leaves are changing colours, chestnuts drop like little bombs onto the roofs of cars and it all ends with the best celebration of the year – Halloween. Each and every day of the month we’ll post one of our favourite horror films recommendations. Drop by this page to see what we have for you! Please enjoy responsibly.
October 1st – The Haunting. (1963) Probably my favourite haunted house movie and one of my all-time favourite scary flicks. Director Robert Wise shows us nothing except the wonderfully creepy house and it’s surrounding grounds. It’s all sounds, atmosphere, camera angles and terrified actors in glorious black and white. Don’t bother with the remake.
October 2nd – Cabin in the Woods. Voted very best horror movie of the 21st century by the internet. Not too sure about that but I loved this flick so much. It’s not what you think it is – a bunch of plucky good-looking teens (and Thor for some reason) getting picked off in the titular abode. If you haven’t seen it (is there anyone who hasn’t seen it?) I will not spoil anything for you but it’s not what you think it is (did I mention that already?). It’s got some great scares and some big laughs. Just watch it.
October 3rd – Eden Lake. We’re not out of the woods just yet. A nice English couple (including a young Michael Fassbender) head on down to the local lake for a nice peaceful afternoon. Of course things don’t go as planned as their good times are interrupted by some nasty teenagers resulting in a nightmare of brutality and general unpleasantness. Great chilling ending.
October 4th – Shutter. Great atmospheric horror flick from Thailand. A nice couple discover that they can see weird, terrifying shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident. What does it all mean? I don’t know why, but in movies when images or shadows move in still photographs it scares the hell out of me. This is a good one.
October 5th – Inside. There was a brief moment a few years back when it looked like the French were going to take over the horror genre with a plethora of great releases. Whatever happened to that? Anyways this is my favourite. The plot is simple: a deranged woman wants the unborn child of a not-deranged woman. And what great lengths so goes to obtain it! This flick gleefully wallows in the ferocious gore and violence that few films have the guts to (get it, guts?). Loved it.
October 6th – It Follows. My favourite horror film (and maybe favourite film of 2015) that I’ve seen in the past long time. Great atmosphere, score and acting. Has an amazing John Carpenter 1970’s feel to it. Lots of long takes that build incredible tension and some genuine suck-away-your-breath scares. Original and exciting. The ending is left open to interpretation which I love. Looking forward to what this director has up next.
October 7th – Cemetery Man. Rupert Everett works in a graveyard and must kill all the new occupants a second time as they become zombies for some reason. This is one of the rare breeds of horror-comedy that works to perfection. There’s tons of violence, sex and hilarious moments (I’m thinking Boy’s Scouts!). And it ends with one of the most amazing surreal moments. I had a friend who rented this and watched it 5 times in 2 days.
October 8th – Drag Me to Hell. Forget Spiderman. Forget that Oz blah blah blah. Gimme Sami Raimi horror any day! This was a nice return to form for the master after years of big budget nonsense. What I loved about it, besides the gnarly old woman (best fight scene ever!) was that all of the horror foisted upon our heroine was totally undeserved! She was just doing her job! This flick is scary, funny, wonderfully shot and has a great ending. Seen it twice, can’t wait to watch it again.
October 9th – Return of the Living Dead. I remember seeing this in the theatre when it came out in 1985 and loved it so much. It’s got great bits of comedy, running and talking zombies (better than it sounds) and a terrific, if somewhat disturbing, ending. The few sequels that followed could not match the energy and gory glee of the original. Of course it didn’t hurt that this was written and directed by Dan O’Bannon (writer of Alien, Dark Star and Total Recall).
October 10th – The Innocents. This excellent haunted house (or maybe haunted children which are even scarier) tale reminds me quite a bit of The Haunting. The lovely black and white cinematography add to the creepy atmosphere as does the large sinister estate where the drama and horror unfold. Deborah Kerr is tasked with looking after a pair of siblings in, what she believes, may be a haunted house. A nice Criterion edition of this fine film awaits you. If you dare.
October 11th – Housebound. Here’s a fun little horror/comedy from New Zealand that finds a woman under house arrest being confined to her childhood home. But is there something else in the house with her and her mom? Something sinister perhaps? I will not say anymore except that there’s some twists, some good scares and a few worthy laughs. Get on this one!
October 12th – Rosemary’s Baby. “This is no dream! This is really happening!” That line still sends chills down my spine. Poor Mia Farrow, she moves into a lovely apartment with John Cassavetes only to find out it’s infested with devil worshiping senior citizens. This is Polanski at the top of his game. Makes me want to watch this right now!
October 13th – Devil’s Backbone. For a short while a few years back there seemed to be a small wave of horror films set in orphanages. That sounds like such a terrifying place for a horror movie. This is one of the best. It’s an early Guillermo Del Toro film (Pan’s Labyrinth). A young boy is orphaned during the Spanish Civil War and sent to, you guessed it, a haunted orphanage. Mystery and terror ensue. We have a nice Criterion edition of this film waiting for you to love.
October 14th – Nightmare on Elm St./Final Nightmare. I just realized that we’re almost half-way through the month and I am severely lacking some Wes Craven on the list. In any other year I probably wouldn’t have put Nightmare here (trying to recommend some not-so-popular titles) but with Craven’s recent passing, I felt a little respect was in order. He was one of horror’s masters re-inventing the genre at least 3 times with such fare as Last House on the Left, Nightmare on Elm St and Scream. I’m tagging the last Nightmare film in this recommendation because it’s a criminally under seen gem that finds Craven and much of the cast from the first film playing themselves being stalked by old Freddy Kruger. It’s a genius, post-modern refresher to series that had grown quite stale. I’m surprised there was no Freddy in space movie. Both films are recommended and would make a swell double bill.
October 15th – Braindead. It’s half-way through the month (sort of – odd number of days) and that brings us to the high priestess of zombie gore comedy horror films – Peter Jackson’s Braindead (Dead Alive as it’s known in the edited North American release). If you haven’t seen this yet (!), do yourself a favour, invite some friends over, have a few pops or whatever and sit back and let the insane amount of absurd gore and viscera wash over you. You’ll see zombie’s eating their own ears, zombies being cut down with various garden/kitchen tools, a priest who “Kicks ass for the Lord!”, the famed Sumatran Rat Monkey and even a zombie baby. It’s all great fun and we’re proud to say that we have the fully uncut version at both stores.
October 16th – Phantasm. I remember catching this flick on late night TV many many moons ago and being utterly blown away by the sheer creativeness and weirdness and badassery (that is a word – now). I loved the hell out of it! This odd creepy horror flick has everything – the terrifying Tall Man, strange Jawa-like dwarf creatures, a portal into another hellish dimension, a kick-ass ice-cream truck driver and, of course, the iconic flying silver sphere equipped with an assortment of Swiss Army Knife-like sharp implements. I won’t give anything away about the plot as it’s too crazy to explain (or make sense of). Check this out and Phantasm II as well. Good times!
October 17th – Frontier(s). Let’s go back to France for a moment and see where a bunch of hapless criminals fleeing Paris end up. Is it really a good idea to check into the dodgy- looking in? I think that it may be run by a family of cannibalistic Nazi hillbillies. That can’t be good.
October 18th – Let the Right One In. Still one of the best, if not the best, vampire film. The tone, the excellent kids, the cinematography, the icy Swedish winter, the cats, this film is wonderful from beginning to end. If you haven’t seen it, by all means get this in your eyes! The American remake Let Me In was pretty good as well, but really, what was the point?
October 19th – Re-Animator. Released on this date 30 years ago (and 1 day) this awesome piece of craziness marked a high point (for me anyways) for star Jeffery Combs and director Stuart Gordon. It tells the nice tale of an odd student who arrives at a medical school and proceeds to experiment on reviving dead tissue. Things, of course, don’t go as planned. Or do they?! Kudos to the brave actress for giving her all in that infamous scene involving a disembodied head. Not going to say anymore.
October 20th – VHS 2. The first of two anthologies on this list (I bet you guess what the other one might be!) is this pretty awesome and, at times, bug-nuts insane found footage freak-show. The highlight of the 4 tales told is the one by the guy that did The Raid movies. It’s set in the jungles of Indonesia and revolves around some sort of devil worshipping cult. It’s crazy and ten times awesome. After spending 2 months in Indonesia recently I am thankful I stayed on the beaches and in the cities. Whew!
October 21st – The Orphanage. The second film on our list to feature a scary orphanage and the first of two to feature a scary kid with a burlap sack on his head. A former orphan returns to the place she was raised. But mystery and terror abounds as her son, Simon, tells her of the five new invisible friends he’s made. This is a fine creepy number from Spain.
October 22nd – House on Haunted Hill. What respectable horror film list would be complete without something starring Vincent Price? Being a sucker for haunted house movies I went with this one. Great fun spooky stuff. Weirdo Price and his wife offer 10 K to 5 folks to spend a night in his creepy mansion. That’s all you need to know. And please skip the 1999 piece of trash remake.
October 23rd – The Devil’s Rejects. Say what you want about Rob Zombie (not his real name I’m guessing, but if it is then, cool!) but he loves horror films. In my opinion this is his best effort. A family of gross maniacs wreaks havoc across the US. That’s about it. Great ending set to Skynard’s Freebird. Still out on the fence about his Halloween remakes. But this is aces. Fun aces!
October 24th – The Witches. Something for kids and adults and most in between. Angelica Huston leads a pack (coven? gaggle?) of witches that turns kids into rodents for some reason. Written by Roald Dahl and directed by the weird Nicolas Roeg (children love Nicolas Roeg!)
October 25th – I Saw the Devil. I guess you could classify this a s a horror film. It definitely has enough violence and gore in it to out match most of the films on this list. This sadistic number from Korea is amazing in the lengths it will go to to disturb and horrify the viewer. A police detective hunts down the psycho responsible for his pregnant wife’s murder. But he doesn’t want to just arrest him, he wants to punish him. And he does. I will warn you that this is one of the most violent films I’ve ever seen and that, generally, women don’t fare to well here. If you can handle it then get in the cab and hope for the best (after you watch it, you’ll know what I’m talking about).
October 26th – Evil Dead 2. I know it’s a pretty familiar title but it is the most fun one can have with demons and rapey trees and chainsaws. It has all the gore of the first one and the best parts of the humour of the third (not a big fan of Army of Darkness to be honest). It’s perfect. Looking forward to the Evil Dead series. Bruce Campbell is ten times awesome.
October 27th – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) . When I was a kid my friends and I would play a game called “Spider”. One kid would start off by being “it”. After tagging the next kid they would both be it. And so forth until there was only one kid left running and hiding from all the other lads. It was fun and even a bit frightening. This film reminds me of Spider but with the stakes being much higher. I didn’t get the whole Communist scare angle to film when I first saw it but it didn’t matter, the idea of everyone but you being turned into relentless, mindless clones of your former selves was terrifying enough. Still holds up today. Also check out the fine 1978 remake as well.
October 28th – Wolf Creek. Think of this slice of nastiness as an Australian Texas Chainsaw Massacre but without the chainsaws and finger-sucking. A few good-looking kids head to the outback to enjoy some peace and quiet and a sky full of stars. Instead they run into one of the scariest deranged psycho hillbilly desert rats ever put on the screen. No happy endings here. The sequel was OK but only because John Jarrett is back as the crazy evil bushman Mick Taylor (not the guy from the Rolling Stones). The lesson here – not only will all of the animals in Australia kill you, but it’s rife with nasty outback dudes in Crocodile Dundee hats.
October 29th – Bubba Ho-Tep. I’ve never found the idea of a mummy coming back from the dead inherently scary but in Bubba Ho-Tep not only are there moments of quality terror but we have Bruce Campbell playing a guy who thinks he’s Elvis (maybe he is) and Ossie Davis playing a guy who thinks he’s JKF (um…) who are out to take down said mummy. The premise is brilliant – Elvis and JFK are hanging out in a retirement home where an ancient mummy stalks the hallways looking for souls that it sucks out of his victims assholes. It’s up to our heroes to stop the madness. Don Coscarelli (Phantasm) directs this insane, hilarious and scary “true story”.
October 30th – The Exorcist. Well, we might as well include the scariest film of all-time on this list. I remember seeing this on TV back in the 70s and even with it being diced and sliced for television it still scared the bejeezus out of me. I’m not even a believer in any sort of religion but the possession thing is pretty damn freaky. So many awesome creepy, horrifying and shocking scenes. The medical stuff is just as awful as the possession nightmare. I imagine that you’ve all seen this (I’m envious for those of you who haven’t) but it is worth a revisit as it still holds up quite well. I love that it was released into the theatres at Christmas time way back in 1973.
October 31st – Trick R Treat. This is it the Halloweeniest day of the year. And what better film to recommended than this fine anthology of terror! It’s set on a nice haunted Halloween Night and features all kinds of horror (I’m not going to describe much) including yet another creepy child with a burlap sack on it’s head. Five interlocking stories are here to scare and amuse you. This has almost become essential viewing on Halloween much like Christmas Carol is to that season. Looking forward to what this director does with the Krampus tale this coming Christmas.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this month of scary movie suggestions (that is if anyone actually read it). It’s too bad that there aren’t more days in the month to recommend flicks as there’s tons more great horror out there for everyone! Some might include:
Halloween, Martyrs, Trollhunter, Suspiria, Opera, The Thing, The Descent, The Others, Pans Labyrinth, Prince of Darkness, Phantom of the Paradise, Eyes Without a Face, One Missed Call, The Eye, Cure, Audition, Jaws and the list goes on and on…
Happy Scary Halloween everybody!