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MindFull Macabre   —   Horror Movies

Gray skies, cold hands, damp earth - this is October in Portland. The air outside swirls with the scents of decaying leaves, brewing coffee and burning wood. The shrill cawing of crows and the hissing of tires on wet pavement are the soundscapes. People start planning for Halloween, decorating their yards and houses with skeletons and cobwebs, deciding on ridiculous costumes and candy, and the horror movie elbows its way into most homes, setting the mood for scary. It's no surprise that this is my favorite month of the year. The overcast skies, misting rain and early nightfall makes with the dark and the dreary, while corn mazes and haunted houses and silly costumes makes with the fun and the whimsical.

It's true that my appetite for the macabre is year-round and the frequency of my indulgence is weekly. But when October hits it's like the whole world is finally in my head, At last! the universe understands me! Stores are overflowing with bags of candy and cheesy horror movies and home decor adorned with skeletons. There are life-size animatronic serial killers standing in the aisles, pumpkins and apple cider are now commonplace, and you can buy sheets of stickers with black cats and ghosts and bats. I'm deluged with it all, powerless against the call of the season, and soon I gorge myself nightly with the ambiance of "It was a dark and stormy night..."

Setting the stage for an evening of horror movies includes a bottle of wine, snacks, candlelight, and of course the right horror movie for your mood. Here's a look at some of the best, worst, and best-of-the-worst horror movies that I've seen in the last twelve months. (click on the links for movie trailers)

Top Ten Best Horror Movies

  • Final Destination 5 - Being a fan of the series I was relieved and surprised that FD5 was just as good if not better than most of its predecessors. It's the same old recipe, true, but it still makes for a great dish! And the little end reveal was a clever nod to the series.
  • Fright Night (remake) - Taking itself a touch more seriously than the original, this remake amps up the terror of the "My neighbor is a vampire" scenario. Collin Farrell is charming and evil, and David Tennant makes sure that this rebooted version of the original maintains its sense of humor.
  • High Lane - The terror that comes from the first half of this French horror movie comes simply from a group of inexperienced climbers hanging off the side of a mountain. The terror that comes from the second half is brutal.
  • House (Hausu) - Honestly, the most fucked-up trippy horror movie I've seen, this 70's Japanese flick was like being on an acid trip inside a children's movie that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
  • Insidious - Intensely creepy imagery, solid actors, a creative story and a few jumpy scares were enough to put this one on the list.
  • Quarantine 2: Terminal - Poorly reviewed and in no way related to [Rec2] - the first Quarantine movie was a remake of the Spanish horror movie [Rec] - I just so happened to think Q2 was scary as hell. I'm a sucker for rabid zombie-like virus movies and the claustrophobia that this movie exudes sets it all over the edge.
  • Rubber - Barely a "horror" movie but still playing to the genre, this dark comedy was one of the most cleverly conceived flicks I've seen in recent memory. Thoroughly ridiculous and equally as entertaining.
  • Scream 4 - Say what you will, but as a diehard Scream trilogy fan this was the most anticipated movie of the year for me, and it didn't disappoint! Scream 4 was just as clever as the rest, and with the original cast intact it fit easily into the series. I look forward to more.
  • Wake Wood - One of those indie gems that you stumble upon once or twice a year, Wake Wood was creepy and disgusting and really well done.
  • YellowBrickRoad - Another indie gem that wormed its way into my heart. The end of the movie will leave you loving or hating this film but despite its shortfalls I ruminate on this movie, absently poking at it like a sliver in the top of my mouth. Really disturbing.

Five Worst Horror Movies

  • Fertile Ground - A mess of a movie that wasn't sure what it wanted to be. Rosemary's Baby? The Messengers? Amityville Horror? Hell, let's just do 'em all but be really boring about it. Yay! (snore)
  • Pray For Morning - Do you want to watch a poorly produced, confusing movie with bad acting and crappy special effects? No? Me neither! Oh wait. Damn, too late.
  • Scream of the Banshee - Just... so bad. Really, really bad. Not even a good bad. Just... bad, bad.
  • Stag Night - Oh god. Just thinking about this movie for a review makes me want to write a letter to writer/director Peter Dowling listing all of the things that were horribly, horribly wrong with it. Like, if you're a group of underground "psychotic transients" who wear leather jackets and biker boots, do you really not know, like, language? Any language? All you can do is grunt and yell and pound things? Wow man, no home, bad hair AND no ability to speak? No wonder they kill people. Them's some tough breaks. Also, for a movie that takes place in NYC maybe you should try to make it look like NYC and less like, oh, say Bulgaria (where the movie was mostly shot).
  • The Task - Who knew the task of this movie was simply to endure it? EH? Get it? It was a task to watch The Task? HA! Quality humor right there. Yeah, this movie is about as good as that joke.

Five Best Worst Horror Movies (Guilty Pleasures)

  • Amusement - Three creepy stories about three different women weaves together at the end in one twisted reveal. Clever and beautifully shot, it wasn't the best movie but I had a ton of fun watching it.
  • Forget Me Not - This one was really interesting. Again, a clever and well done movie that was a bit confusing at times but still really worth the watch. The end was a bit of a, "huh?", but it was much better than half the garbage out there.
  • The Hazing - Not for everyone due to the poor acting and low budget, but if there's a better Evil Dead-esque movie out there I haven't seen it. This movie was so much fun to watch I actually had a huge grin on my face the whole time and when the credits rolled I got up and danced to the music. Seriously cheesy fun.
  • My Soul To Take - True, this movie was panned, but it called out to my soft spot of teen screams and I couldn't help but love it. Lots of quick witty lines and violent deaths, and with a high production value (Wes Craven apparently has money to do crap-ass movies and make them look good) this one easily won me over.
  • Reeker - Death by bad smell! Or something. So cheesy and so fun, you just have to go with it.

Now that you have a few horror movies to check out this October, here's some book recommendations to get you in the mood for the rainy season.

  • The Woman in Black - In less than 200 pages, author Susan Hill weaves a truly haunting ghost story that actually gave me chills. Thick with atmosphere and quiet dread, don't miss the opportunity to read this wonderful story before the upcoming movie colors your perception.
  • The Haunting of Hill House - Forget any shitty movie version of this story that you've seen, Shirley Jackson's original novel is claustrophobic, dream-like, and haunting. Wonderfully written and masterfully told, it remains one of my favorite books.
  • Speaks the Nightbird - Written by my favorite author, Robert McCammon, this is a story of a witch trial that takes place in the late 1600's in soggy and dreary Carolina. Full of mystery and rich with vivid characters and poor weather conditions, there is no better book to read on a dark and stormy night.
  • Bag of Bones - A great ghost story, murder mystery and character study all from the master of horror, Stephen King.

And on my October/November To Read list:

  • Rotters - A story of a boy who discovers that his father's "family business" is grave-robbing. Perfect for Halloween!
  • Dylan Dog - A graphic novel about a private eye who specializes in the supernatural.
  • The Queen of Bedlam - Matthew Corbett, the magistrate's clerk from Speaks the Nightbird, returns for another mystery, this time set on the streets of Manhattan.
  • Lord Byron - A book of poems.

So pour yourself a glass of wine and light some candles while you curl up with a good scary book! Enjoy your October everyone, and I'll see YOU at the movies.

Posted 10.10.2011 7:23:32 PM

OnCueBoy wrote:
Please tell me you are watching American Horor Story on FX.
Posted 11/22/2011 12:52:57 PM
Doll wrote:
Unfortunately we don't have TV and Hulu doesn't have all of the episodes available for viewing. Looks like I'll be waiting for DVD.
Posted 11/22/2011 1:13:52 PM
OnCueBoy wrote:
They have all the episodes here. http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/originals/ahs/
Posted 11/22/2011 1:47:31 PM
Doll wrote:
Thanks! I'll check it out.
Posted 11/22/2011 2:15:26 PM
Replies are closed for this post.

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