We here at Black Dog love the horror genre and are terribly excited to share our favourite terror-filled films with you. So it’s become a (somewhat) tradition that we concoct a very nice list of horror films to be celebrated during the month of October! Everyday we’ll recommend a sweet little number guaranteed (no actual guarantee) to flip your hair back and scare the pants off of you (figuratively and hopefully, literally!) We’ll also stay away from the big numbers – Halloween, Shining, Exorcist – as everyone already knows about those fine films. Enjoy!
Hereditary – I thought that since this is a new list for this year, we’d start with what is probably going to end up being the best horror film of 2018. Part dour family drama, part haunted house dealy part, well I don’t want to give anything away suffice to say that what starts out as a slow burn ends with an intense crazy, if somewhat derivative, ending. Great performances throughout. Looking forward to seeing what this guy does next!
The Innocents (1961) – Let us step back in time a few years for an amazing tight little ghost story. Based on Henry James story Turn of the Screw, Deborah Kerr is the ward of a couple of youngin’s at a giant house with big gardens. But something’s not right! Is it haunted? Are their ghosts? Well, I’m not one to spoil anything but… It would make a great double bill with another fine ghost story from around the same time that will appear later on this list.
Baskin – Strap yourself in for a weird, gross ride into the pits of hell! No we’re not going to Denny’s, we’re watching a bunch of Turkish cops set out to investigate some goings on out at a large country estate. But what they find there is a stairway to hell! It’s revolting, debauched, bloody and even a tad repulsive. And fun did I mention fun?! (I guess it would also depend on your definition of fun.)
The Others – I love a good haunted house movie. Have I mentioned that? And here’s an excellent little number that finds Nicole Kidman and her two kids living in an old dark manor house out in the country (sounds eerily familiar!) who come to believe that their house is haunted. Is it? Well, I’ll never tell.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956/1978 – It’s not often the remake of a great film equals or betters the original but here’s the exception to the rule. I remember watching the original on TV when I was a kid – I didn’t really get the communism allegory at the time – but it freaked my crazy beak right out the door! It was like a giant game of Spider but with stakes being much higher. The remake, which features a nice little cameo but Kevin McCarthy – star of the original, held up it’s end of the bargain and heightened the paranoid horror. Props for having the better ending of the two as well (it also made me look at capers in a different light!) .
The Wicker Man – I remember catching this on late night TV when I was but a youngin’ and I couldn’t believe what I was watching! Strange rituals and masks, naked women, singing and dancing and that ending, holy hotdogs! Such a great creepy experience. The remake is fun on its own because it’s so absurd and poorly made and over-acted (looking at you, Mr. Cage). But for good chills, stick with this classic.
Raw – Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving everyone!. On the menu for tonight is a tasty little number from France. A nice vegetarian girl from the countryside goes off to veterinarian school and soon develops a tasty craving for the joys of the flesh. I won’t say anymore about this fine film except bon appetit!
Everyone likes a good ghost story, right? Well here’s a nice little anthology movie dealy from England! Three spooky tales are book-ended by another scary story. Usually in these types of affairs not all the of the tales are quality but the three on display here are all top notch. My only complaint is that I wanted more out of each. The wrap-around story is just OK as well but there’s lots of good scares here!
Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi has made some of my favourite movies (Evil Dead II can’t be beat) and this is among his very best. I just re-watched it on the weekend (probably scarring my 13 year-old son in the process) and loved it all over again! It is simply a perfect film. It balances the comedic elements (which there are many) with the terrifying parts (which there are many!). Best old hag fight sequence ever laid down on film!
The Haunting (1963)
I’m a sucker for a good haunted house or ghost story and this is one of my all-time favourites.. Based on the Shirley Jackson book, The Haunting of Hill House, the story is simple – Some folks spend some time in the in an awesomely creepy old mansion to see if it’s haunted. This black and white masterpiece is a master class in the use of sound and editing to heighten the scares. So good.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil
A couple of lovable hillbillies head to their cabin where they run into a bunch of preppy college kids who assume they are redneck maniac chainsaw-wielding murderers. Much hi-jinks, hilarity and gross gory deaths ensue. This totally fun take on the cabin in the woods scenario is a hoot. And it’s Canadian!
A woman, who recently lost her unborn child and husband, really wants another woman’s unborn child. And I mean really really wants it! This film is bonkers! It’s as intense and gory as anything I’ve ever seen. Man, I want to watch this again! But be warned, if you’re pregnant, about to be pregnant, know someone is pregnant or know what the word pregnant means, this might not be for you! Or it might!
Under the Shadow
When was the last time you saw a ghost story from Iran? Well here’s your chance! Not only do a mom and her daughter have to worry about living in war-torn, post-revolution Tehran in the 1980’s, but they also have to deal with a terrifying presence in their home. Very effective chiller. Check this one out!
Whoever thought a film about a haunted mirror could ever work? Well Mike Flanagan sure did (he’s behind the new adaptation of the Haunting of Hill House – better be good, Flanagan!). And he was right. A pair of siblings attempt to destroy a sinister mirror – one that shows you things that aren’t there, which is very scary in itself, that was responsible for the death of their parents. Great tense atmosphere add to the chilling fun!
Another great haunted house film! I think one of the key factors in this genre is to have an amazing house to start with. And then add George C. Scott. Shot here in Vancouver (and Victoria) but set in Seattle the tale tells of a guy who, well, moves into a haunted mansion. That’s about it. It’s a very well done, tense chiller. Reportedly based on a true story!
A woman inherits an old mansion in Louisiana (of course) that happens to be built atop one of the 7 gateways to hell (I imagine there’s one in Surrey as well – aaoo!). Lucio Fulci’s fun, barely-coherent, poor-acted piece of awesomeness takes such delight in staging weird, crazy murders it makes up for all that it’s lacking. The scene with a bunch of tarantulas is the highlight (for me at least)!
I could riff on The Burning of weed or maybe suggested some marijuana themed horror movies (if there are any) because, as of today, weed is legal in Canada! But, whatever. I remember seeing this nasty little shocker way back in the 80s and it’s reputation has grown since then. A caretaker is horrible burned when a prank by some unruly teenagers goes wrong. Of course the only course of action is to get some garden shears and seek revenge! Features spectacular gore effects from the master, Tom Savini.
More Evil Dead II and Dead Alive than a straight up horror film, New Zealand’s Deathgasm is a riotous mix of heavy metal (a song is used to invoke a nasty demon that makes everyone go crazy) and blood and guts (and lots of it!). It’s a fun blast of a party movie and with a description such as this – Suddenly, they are attacked by Brodie’s uncle Albert and his wife Mary who have also been possessed, but manage to kill them using three dildos and a chain saw! – one can’t really go wrong.
Let the Right One In
This Swedish gem is one of the best vampire movies. Ever. It has a great, cold atmosphere, compelling characters – all brilliantly acted – and tight perfect direction. And cats. Don’t forget the cats. If you’re looking for an interesting, unique take on a tired genre, this is your baby. Your vampire baby. The remake, Let Me In, is also worth a gander.
Time for another double bill of the original and the remake. Loved me to bits, tiny fleshy bits, each of these hungry little numbers. Directed by Joe Dante and Alexandre Aja respectively, both follow the same plot -nasty meat-eating fish are accidentally released into the surrounding waters and feast on the unsuspecting public. Lots of good eating in both flicks with the latter upping the gore content to dizzying heights. Yes please!
It’s rare when a horror anthology hits on all notes. And while some stories in this are better than others, most are pretty spot on. The stand-out here is the one directed by the folks who made The Raid movies. It’s set on some weird cult plantation in Indonesia and it’s totally bonkers and terrifying. I’d say watch it for this part alone, but I enjoyed all of the tales of dread and horror.
Cemetery Man aka Dellamorte Dellamore
Rupert Everett plays a guy who works at a eerie cemetery (is there any other kind?) and must kill the recently deceased a second time as they always return as zombies. This movie is weird, creepy, hilarious and gross. Pretty much everything I want in a good horror film. It’s quite unlike anything you’ve seen before and the ending is a mind freak. Check this one out!
An odd amalgamation of gangster story, family drama and some culty twisty brain bashing, Kill List is a hard film to categorize. It’s violent as hell and will leave a mark on your mind that may or may not recede with time. The story is simple; after a hit gone wrong, a killer-for-hire accepts a job to take out 3 individuals. What follows is a nightmarish descent into the abyss. Good times (maybe not).
Gross, weird early body-horror from the master of such things, David Cronenberg. An unstable woman (Samantha Eggar) undergoes strange and intense psychotherapy sessions with an unconventional practitioner of such things, Oliver Reed (perfect casting). The results are, well, lets just say, some folks shouldn’t have children. Also stars the great Art Hindle. Interesting note – Oliver Reed was arrested by the Canadian police during the production of this film after he made a bet with someone that he could walk from one bar to another without wearing clothes in freezing cold weather. There you have it.
Return of the Living Dead
I wasn’t going to include this minor zombie masterpiece in this year’s list as I’ve tossed it on almost every other list we’ve made (except, maybe, favourite documentaries) but with the recent passing of James Karen, I thought it would be appropriate. I remember seeing this in the theatre when it came out and I loved the breath of fresh air it breathed into the festering corpse that was the zombie genre at the time. It’s hilarious, gross, scary and has a killer soundtrack. A great party movie that ends with a bang. Literally. Send. More. Cops.
Maybe more of a thriller than straight up horror, this is a nice tale of a dude – Cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey (Dan Stevens) – who shows up at the house of a dead army buddy and is welcomed into their home. But then some strange things, like death and stuff, starts happening? What’s it all about? Even if the ending is fairly predictable and can’t live up to the first 2/3rds of what came before it, I still totally enjoyed this film.
The Loved Ones
Lola wants Brent to go to the prom with her. Brent’s not into it. So what’s a nice psychotic girl like Lola to do? Why kidnap Brent for her own home-made prom, that’s what. Bloody mayhem and nasty, darkly funny things transpire. From Australia in case you’re wondering.
I love me a good revenge film. And this is one of the best I’ve seen since I Saw the Devil. A woman is assaulted at a remote fancy cabin by the buddies of her creepy boyfriend and left for dead in the desert. What follows is a bloody trail of nasty awesome revenge (hence the title) as this quality film (written and directed by a woman – Coralie Fargeat) breathes new life into a somewhat stale genre.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter
Two girls are left behind at their boarding school over winter break and must deal with some sort of strange evil force lurking there. Tons of atmosphere, weirdness and dread fill the halls in this underrated little gem. The devil is in the details.
While everyone goes bananas for Suspiria (and rightly so) I’m going to throw this Argento giallo craziness into your pinned-opened eyes! A young opera singer takes over for the recently run-over-by-a-car star of the show only to find herself and her associates being stalked by a deranged killer. Some amazing, gross things are on display here as this is from the time when Argento was operating at the height of his insane powers.
Trick r’ Treat
Well today’s the big day and to absolutely no-one’s surprise, Trick R Treat is our pick for the 31st. This anthology piece of mayhem gets it right. It embodies the spirit of fun and mischief and horror of Halloween night. It’s my Christmas Carol for this season. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it, and if you have seen it, do yourself another favour and watch it again! Happy Halloween everyone!