Hello you roaming spirits searching for you next fix of that sweet sweet soul juice…it’s HALLOWEEN! This is my favorite holiday as I’m sure you could have guessed/I’ve probably said. Seeing all the spooks and creeps makes me feel just so alive. The Halloween season is what I look forward to every year. As soon as my anniversary is done (which happens to be the day after Halloween and is therefore part of Halloween I DON’T CARE WHAT NIKKIE SAYS!) I immediately begin looking forward to the next Halloween season. Which, by the way, starts in July for me.
Sadly though, this Halloween season has been pretty…bad. I’ve felt it everywhere. The decorations feel like an afterthought, the specials are mediocre, youtubers I usually rely on to do a bunch of fun stuff for Halloween have done barely anything or what they’ve done has been cynical. There’s a David Pumpkins animated special and it’s terrible apparently! It’s been a dire year and it shows in this Halloween. Thanks a lot trimp! You ruin everything!
So needless to say this year I’ve been feeling pretty down. So now I’m gonna lean into that feeling and shit all over movies everyone likes! Isn’t that fun?? But I’m not gonna just contribute to the negativity of the year. I’m also going to suggest a better movie to watch instead. So hopefully it’s a net positive!
Don’t hate me too much guys.
- The Shining
I feel your hate already! I said don’t! But look The Shining is a good movie, obviously, we all know that. It’s well made, decently scary, and the acting is good because Stanley Kubrick was an abusive asshole who tortured Shelly DuVall until she was actually terrified. The movie’s fine and I even enjoy, that’s why I’m starting with this one. Because IT’S NOT A BAD MOVIE. I can’t emphasize that enough. Buuuuuuuuuuut I don’t really think it’s a great movie either. It’s not a good enough movie to deserve all the analysis, and the conspiracy theories, and the obsession, and the number one spot on basically every Greatest Horror Movie of All Time list.
And I have to admit I’m a little biased. Stephen King hates this movie for a lot of valid reasons and I’m always in Stephen King’s corner. But also I don’t like what the movie did to the characters. It turned Wendy Torrance into a one-dimensional, frail, damsel in distress type and it turned Jack into a relentless dick bag with no redeeming qualities. I like the story in the book where Jack is a damaged man who wants to be a good dad but is beaten down by his personal demons (and maybe the demons from the Overlook) but in the end he is redeemed. In the movie everyone sucks and everything sucks and that’s just how it is. And to me that’s just not as satisfying.
A Tale of Two Sisters
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s a beautiful, tragic, scary movie about two girls being abused by their stepmother in a house haunted by their dead mom. The score is excellent and evocative and the ending makes me cry every single time. You might see the ending coming, it’s not exactly original, but the execution is so perfect that it doesn’t matter. I was originally going to use this movie as the Watch Instead for every entry but then I realize only I would find that funny. So since I did that favor for you, do me a favor and go watch this movie right now!
- Goodnight Mommy
I remember when the trailer for this one dropped and I heard from so many different places that it was “the scariest trailer of all time.” I remember so many people talking about how the trailer alone was scarier than most horror movies. I remember all the superlatives, all the promises, all the potential. Then I watched the trailer and it was…pretty creepy. Lady in a creepy mask, big ass roaches, creepy white kids. It was pretty cool but not nearly as scary as everyone implied. But then that’s how marketing works and that’s what happens when 89% of all horror movies are shit, people latch on to whatever hope they can. The movie came out and it was hailed as one of, if not the greatest horror movie of all time. People loved it.
Here’s a fun game: see if you can see the strings. See if you can figure out where this is going. A woman is disfigured in a horrible accident. She comes home from the hospital to her two children. She pays attention to one child and not the other. The other child tries to get her attention in various escalating ways but she never even acknowledges him. Never looks at him. The other child gets all sorts of attention, both good and bad. Have you guessed it yet, do you get the big twist? Yeah one of the kids is dead/a hallucination. This is a twist that happens a lot and it’s not bad by nature but goddamn is it telegraphed in this movie. Like, reeeeeeeally telegraphed. And the rest of the movie isn’t strong enough to get over how lame the twist is. And it’s really not scary. Like I feel like all of the “horror” comes from the fact that one of the kids (the alive one) has big roaches for pets. And the mom’s face is covered. These things do not a scary story make. It’s boring and lame.
A Tale of Two Sisters
Fine! I won’t actually do it.
So if you’re gonna watch something instead you should try The Taking of Deborah Logan. Like Goodnight Mommy it’s a movie that’s one part family drama, one part horror, and one part questioning reality. It follows a group of film students making a documentary about a woman’s descent into Alzheimer’s. It’s full of great acting – particular the woman who plays Deborah and the woman who plays her daughter who puts in a real emotional performance – and genuine scares. Found footage movies are rightfully being scorned now but this one really works.
- The Devil’s Rejects
So I’ve watched just about every movie Rob Zombie has made and I still don’t know how I feel about him. He’s somehow both good and bad at the same time. And for whatever reason The Devil’s Rejects is the movie that the most people say is great. Which is…weird. House of 1000 Corpses was better in like every regard. The Devil’s Rejects was just a kind of typical hillbilly horror movie with dirty white people goin on a rampage cus…reasons. Like the characters are all really thin, the violence is over the top and unnecessary, the dialogue is bad. Nobody has any motivation other than “cops ain’t gonna take us out cus we’re rebels!” I don’t know. It just doesn’t do anything for me and it’s barely a horror.
Watch Instead: Is House of 1000 Corpses a bad answer? Cus it’s so much better.
Fine! If you want a less lazy suggestion go with Kill List. Kill List is a tense psychological horror/crime drama about two ex-soldiers who are now hit men accepting a job to murder a priest, a man with a collection of some kind of sickening videos (we never see what they are), and a member of Parliament. They essentially sign the contract in blood and as they make their way through the list the stakes escalate and the reality of what’s happening comes into question. What starts as a simple crime story becomes something much more frightening.
- High Tension/Haute Tension/Switchblade Romance
Oh boy. Guys. This movie. I HATE this movie. This was another one that was hyped by everyone everywhere. Every website, every magazine, every random person who was “really into horror movies” eeeeeeverrryyyyyyoooooone. I held off on it for a long time because it looked like a typical slasher movie. But everyone assured me it wasn’t. It was smart, they said; it was crazy, they said; it would blow my mind, they said. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. It IS a typical slasher movie basically – though I guess it’s more like a home invasion type movie, like Last House on the Left mixed with a girl vs. slasher movie – but with added bonus of a really shitty twist. That crazy killer that’s been stalking the two girls for the entire movie, who has been seen by both girls, who has interacted with both girls, WAS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE GIRLS ALL ALONG. This twist doesn’t work. It’s literally impossible. The only way for the twist to work is for the girl who is also the slasher to be able to be in two places at the same time. Which hey, that would be a better movie. The slasher is a projection of the girl’s twisted psyche somehow made manifest. But nope. She just defies physics and story structure. And the movie itself is just dumb in general. You’ve seen one splatterfest, you’ve seen em all. But it takes itself sooooooo seriously.
Also I’m really not a fan of the “closeted gay person is a crazy killer” trope.
Watch Instead: American Mary
Made by the wonderfully stylish Soska Sisters, American Mary is about a surgical student who becomes fed up with the men’s bullshit and quits school after discovering a talent for extreme body modification. She goes into business and gains renown, finding happiness outside of society’s conventions of normalcy. And she takes revenge on a professor who betrayed her trust and raped her. It’s a brutal movie and gruesome but not without plenty of black humor. It’s very much in the style of the exploitation movies of the ‘70s. The movie just oozes with personality and Katharine Isabelle is wonderful as the eponymous Mary.
I love the Soska Sisters and if a new Addam’s Family movie is ever made I hope they direct it!
And this is the one that most people would genuinely be angry about. This one, like The Shining, frequently tops “GREATEST HORROR MOVIES THAT YOU HAVE TO SEE IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE A TRUE HORROR FAN” lists. I see it all the time. Every time I look around for horror movies that I may have missed this fucking movie pops up. Every. Single. Time.
This movie sucks. It sucks hard. The first half is about a creepy old guy auditioning young women to be his girlfriend. The second half of the movie is about one of the girls he auditioned torturing him. And that’s ALL this movie is. Torture. People frequently cite Hostel as originating the “torture porn” genre but they’re wrong. This one did. It’s a terrible movie about a woman sticking needles into a dude’s eyes and tongue. You could make a case that it’s about obsession but so is basically every story ever written. And god is this movie boring. Seriously. I don’t care what anyone says. This movie sucks. Takashi Miike is better than this. Watch literally any of his other movies.
Watch Instead: Here’s a small (not at all comprehensive) list of movies that deserve to be on best horror lists way more than Audition and which don’t get enough love…
Trick ‘r’ Treat, You’re Next, Session 9, Hush, The Taking of Deborah Logan, The House of the Devil, Candyman, Pontypool, The Descent, Oculus, As Above So Below, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and A Tale of Two Sisters because fuck you this is my list!
So as usual this post was longer than I intended even after extensive editing to remove as many words as I could. I have a problem guys! But hey it was fun to write! If you like any of these movies I won’t hold that against you. Unless you try to tell me how great Audition is. It’s not great. IT’S NOT! I hope you guys have a spooky and fun Halloween and here’s hoping that next year’s Halloween season will be better. Only 9 months until we find out!