Every year I set a movie watching challenge. 30 horror movies in 30 days (not 31 because I have stuff to do Halloween night!)
These are my rules for movie selection and watching:
- No more than 10 movies can be films I’ve seen before
- At least 10 of the movies must be foreign films
- Cross over genres like Sci-Fi and Fantasy are permissible if the horror element is dominant
- Movies may be watched in any order
I rarely manage to watch all 30 movies in October, but it’s fun trying! So without further ado, here’s the 2019 selection!
1. Carry On Screaming! (1966)
This is the twelfth film in the British series of “Carry On” parody films. Carry On Screaming! takes on the gothic and twisted world of Hammer horror movies that were super popular in the day. The Carry On! series often starred ongoing cast members from the previous films, putting them in (sometimes) hilarious new roles.
This edition of the series follows a pair of inept private detectives on the hunt for monsters. In no time, they find themselves trapped in the frightening castle of the evil Dr. Watt, a ghoul returned from the undead and his hottie sister.
R: I’ve seen many of the Carry On! movies, but never seen this one. I’m a huge fan of Hammer horror so I thought it was time to add the movie to my list.
[New / Foreign]
2. Suspiria (2018)
Suspiria is a 2018 supernatural horror film directed by Luca Guadagnino with a screenplay by David Kajganich, inspired by the 1977 Italian film of the same title, directed by Dario Argento.
Set in the 1970s in Berlin, young American dancer Susie Bannion auditions for the Helena Markos Dance Co., who’s female directors are accused of witchcraft. Susan and a nosey psychotherapist who look into the troupe discover sinister secrets.
R: The original Suspiria is one of my favorite horror movies. I wish I’d seen this in theaters as it’s supposed to be nearly as visually stunning as the Argento original.
3. Alien (1977)
The 1979 science fiction horror classic directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O’Bannon. The crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo brings aboard a deadly and aggressive extraterrestrial. The film stars Sigourney Weaver in her debut role, as well as legendary stars Tom Skerritt, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt and Victoria Cartwright.
2019 is the film’s 40th anniversary. If you happen to live within range of a theater that shows Fathom events, you can see it on the big screen!
R: Come on, does this movie even need an introduction? I’ve seen it dozens of times, in its original and updated versions, and love love love it. It was one of those movies that scared the hell out of me when I saw it. And that was before the end of the opening sequence. And I can go see it in theaters!
4. Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
The ninth, and final, film in Hammer Films’ Dracula series has the studio working Chinese film makers the Shaw Brothers in a martial arts horror film unlike any other. Van Helsing, on a lecture tour in China, is convinced to help a team of seven martial arts masters take back their village from a hoard of sword wielding vampires recently risen from the grave.
R: What happens when Hammer Horror meets the Shaw Brothers? (If you don’t know them, Shaw Bros made wicked good kung fu fighting in the 70s) I’ve never seen it the movie, but I’m about to find out! I love Hammer Studios AND the Shaw Brothers, so I’m disappointed in myself I haven’t watched this yet.
[New / Foreign]
5. The Dead Don’t Die (2019)
Jim Jarmusch directs Adam Driver, Danny Glover and Bill Murray, In the sleepy small town of Centerville, something is not quite right. The moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming unpredictable, and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behaviors…
R: I have mixed feelings about Jim Jarmusch movies, but I’m willing to give anything Bill Murray is in a shot.
6. Aaah! Zombies!! (2007)
Four friends unwittingly become zombies and attempt to reverse the transformation. It’s like Return of the Living Dead…in reverse.
R: I’ll watch almost anything zombie. And this looks like goofy good fun.
7. Dead of Night (1945)
Architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) goes see a potential client. When he arrives, he gets the feeling that he has been there before. Once inside, he meets a group of people who seem oddly familiar. He tells them that he has dreamt about each one of them and begins to list events that occurred in the dream. Walter’s revelations begin a conversation amongst the group, and each person admits to having experienced a strange, unexplainable event.
RS: I love anthology movies and this one is regarded as one of the best.
8. Evolution (2015)
In a hospital on an island populated solely by women and boys, Nicholas is subjected to a medical procedure. He senses everyone is lying to him, and with help from a young nurse, he learns the secret of what the women do on the beach at night.
R: This movie looks delightfully spooky and creepy and received generally positive reviews. I missed it during its initial (brief) theatrical run.
[New / Foreign]
9. Dr. Jekyl Sister Hyde
Blackly comic variation on the classic tale, in which the good doctor, experimenting with ways to prolong life, tests the formula on himself and metamorphoses into a beautiful woman. His alter ego turns out to have a very nasty streak, killing prostitutes who, terrified of Jack the Ripper, believe they have nothing to fear from a woman.
R: I’ve seen this Hammer horror movie many times before and just love it. If you’ve never seen it, the film is a great rip on the classic Jekyl and Hyde story.
10. Eraserhead (1977)
Henry (John Nance) resides alone in a bleak apartment surrounded by industrial gloom. When he discovers that an earlier fling with Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) left her pregnant, he marries the expectant mother and has her move in with him. Things take a decidedly strange turn when the couple’s baby turns out to be a bizarre lizard-like creature that won’t stop wailing. Other characters, including a disfigured lady who lives inside a radiator, inhabit the building and add to Henry’s troubles.
R: It’s been a REALLY long time since I’ve seed Eraserhead and I feel like watching it again, but part of the reason it is on the list is that so few people seem to have seen the film, I wanted to introduce some more people to it.
11. From Beyond (1986)
Obsessive scientist Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) successfully discovers a way to access a parallel universe of pleasure by tapping into the brain’s pineal gland. When he is seemingly killed by forces from this other dimension, his assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), is accused of the murder. After psychiatrist Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) and detective Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree) take the case, the trio risks a return to the other world in order to solve the mystery.
R: Reanimator is one of my favorite horror movies. So much so, I’ll watch anything that Jeffrey Combs is in. From Beyond is quite as much fun, but it’s still a gory good time.
12. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
After returning home from the Vietnam War, veteran Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) struggles to maintain his sanity. Plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, Singer rapidly falls apart as the world and people around him morph and twist into disturbing images. His girlfriend, Jezzie (Elizabeth Peña), and ex-wife, Sarah (Patricia Kalember), try to help, but to little avail. Even Singer’s chiropractor friend, Louis (Danny Aiello), fails to reach him as he descends into madness.
R: I originally saw this movie in the theater and it was so creepy I had to go back and see it again. The Vietnam war isn’t as raw today as when the film was released, but it holds up well and isn’t widely known these days, so it made the 2019 list.
13. Galaxy of Terror (1981)
Neurotic astronauts (Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston) face a giant worm and other monsters on a distant planet.
R: I love pre-1990 Roger Corman movies. Galaxy of Terror isn’t one of his best films, but it is still hilariously fun B-movie horror with a weird mash up of Alien, Star Wars and a dozen other films driving the plot.
14. The Wailing (2016)
A 2016 South Korean supernatural psychological mystery horror film directed by Na Hong-jin about a policeman who investigates a series of mysterious killings and illnesses.
R: South Korean film isn’t always great, but when it comes to horror, the Koreans have a pretty great record and The Wailing received overwhelmingly good reviews.
[New / Foreign]
15. Audition (1999)
This disturbing Japanese thriller follows Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a widower who decides to start dating again. Aided by a film-producer friend (Jun Kunimura), Aoyama uses auditions for a fake production to function as a dating service. When Aoyama becomes intrigued by the withdrawn, gorgeous Asami (Eihi Shiina), they begin a relationship. However, he begins to realize that Asami isn’t as reserved as she appears to be, leading to gradually increased tension and a harrowing climax.
16. A Cure for Wellness
A Wall Street stockbroker (Dane DeHaan) travels to a remote location in the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company’s CEO (Harry Groener) from an idyllic but mysterious wellness center. He soon suspects that the miraculous treatments are not what they seem. His sanity is tested when he unravels the spa’s terrifying secrets and finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all of the guests there longing for a cure.
R: Wellness centers have always scared the crap out of me. I’m surprised there aren’t more horror movies about them.
17. Freaks 1932
When trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) learns that circus midget Hans (Harry Earles) has an inheritance, she marries the lovesick, diminutive performer, all the while planning to steal his fortune and run off with her lover, strong man Hercules (Henry Victor). When Hans’ friends and fellow performers discover what is going on, they band together and carry out a brutal revenge that leaves Hercules and Cleopatra knowing what it truly means to be a “freak.”
R: Freaks is the film that ended Tod Browning’s (Dracula) movie career. It was so shocking it was banned, edited, and censored. It’s a pretty messed up film and way way ahead of its time.
18. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters orphans of the Republican militia and politicians, and is taken in by the steely headmistress, Carmen (Marisa Paredes), and the kindly professor, Casares (Federico Luppi). Soon after his arrival, Carlos has a run-in with the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). Gradually, Carlos uncovers the secrets of the school, including the youthful ghost that wanders the grounds.
R: Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed this Spanish/Mexican horror film co-production. Del Toro always makes interesting films so this has been on my list to see for a while.
[New / Foreign]
19. Orca 1977
Ocean-going tale with ecological overtones in which a ruthless profiteering fisherman accidentally kills the pregnant mate of a canny killer whale. It’s `Jaws’ meets `Moby Dick’ as the bounty hunter becomes the target of the enraged, grief-stricken creature’s craving for vengeance.
R: I saw this during a re-release in the early 80s at a second run theater. It makes Jaws and Piranha seem like wimpy fish.
20. The Stuff 1985
A private detective investigates a new consumer taste treat that’s absolutely delicious and just possibly lethal.
R: Larry Cohen and Michael Moriarty are a match made in horror movie heaven, and yet, somehow, I still haven’t seen this movie…(Please be as good as Q: The Winged Serpent!)
21. The House in Nightmare Park (1973)
A British comedy horror film directed by Peter Sykes and starring Frankie Howerd, Ray Milland and Hugh Burden. Frankie Howerd plays an actor invited to perform in a remote country house but becomes involved in mysterious events.
R: More brit comedy horror…I’ve heard good things about this movie but never gotten around to watching it.
[New / Foreign]
22. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Residents of a worn-down Iranian city encounter a skateboarding vampire (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who disrespect women.
R: Shot in Bakersfield, CA, this Persian language, black and white movie just looks fun, with it’s Spaghetti Western vibe and noir angles.
23. Daphne & Velma (2018)
Daphne and Velma, two mystery-solving teens, investigate what is causing some of the brightest students at their high school to become “zombie-fied.”
R: I LOVE Scooby-Doo. Really love it. Writing a Scooby-Doo story is a bucket list item. So a Daphne and Velma solo film is like catnip.
24. Parents (1989)
Ten-year-old Michael Laemle (Bryan Madorsky) senses that something is not quite right with his family. Sure, his mother, Lily (Mary Beth Hurt), is the perfect 1950s housewife, and they have a comfortable life in the suburbs, where his dad, Nick (Randy Quaid), works at a mortuary. But what’s with the enormous cuts of meat that his father brings home every night? What, or whom, do they come from? Michael takes his concerns to a school counselor (Sandy Dennis) who decides to come over for dinner.
R: Pre-nutso (for him) Randy Quaid is always fun to watch. This movie has been on my Halloween list several times and I’ve not gotten around to it, but this year it’s a must!
25. Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a Halloween-themed television special starring Paul Lynde broadcast October 29, 1976 on ABC. It featured guest stars Margaret Hamilton in a reprisal of her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Also guest starring are Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf, Tim Conway, Roz Kelly, Florence Henderson, rock band Kiss, Billy Barty as Gallows the Butler, Betty White and, in an unbilled surprise appearance, Donny and Marie Osmond. The special aired only once.
R: Chances are you’ve never heard of or seen this. I have, and it is pure 70’s holiday special gold. I’m not sure if the DVD is still in print, but it’s worth hunting down if you’re a fan of Halloween.
26. The Black Cat (1934)
The Black Cat is a 1934 American pre-Code horror film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and starring Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi. The picture was the first of eight movies (six of which were produced by Universal) to pair the two iconic actors.
R: Karloff and Lugosi…What more do you need to know?
27. Nightbreed (1990)
Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) is haunted by terrifying nightmares of a city of monsters. He goes to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg), for help. But what Boone doesn’t know is that Decker is really a serial killer. Decker frames Boone to take the fall for his murders, and Boone is killed by the police. But Boone is brought back to life by the monsters of his dreams, the Nightbreed, who in turn join Boone in his quest to stop Decker from killing again.
R: There is a newish director’s cut available for this movie. I really enjoyed the original, even if it wasn’t that great, but I figured I’d give the update a shot.
28. IT (1990)
Original release. November 18 – November 20, 1990. It (also known as Stephen King’s It) is a 1990 American horror miniseries directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen from Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name.
R: Before the current version of IT, there was the Tim Curry version of IT, which isn’t good, but is so much more fun than what is in theaters right now. “We all float down here!” can only be said aloud by Tim Curry.
29. Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl 2009 foreign
Two monster schoolgirls, one a vampire the other a Frankenstein type monster, battle for the affections of a handsome boy.
R: The title alone sells this. I have no idea what it’s about or if it’s good, but I want to watch it.
[New / Foreign]
30. The Perfume of the Lady in Black
After her mother dies, a chemist begins to have strange visions of a mysterious woman in black applying perfume in a mirror, and of strangers who follow her everywhere.
R: Words like “etherial” and “haunting” and “pornographic” are often used to describe this movie, and it frequently makes the best Italian horror lists. I’m not a huge giallo (Italian slasher) fan, but I’ve been curious about this movie for a while so when I found a used copy on DVD, I picked it up for this year’s marathon!
[New / Foreign]