I’m an absolute slave to the television in October. What other time of year is it reasonable to waste a sunny, blue-sky day indoors, building a pillow fort on the couch, armed with a remote, a bag of Tostitos and a cable version of Evil Dead? (Seriously, why even bother showing Evil Dead on cable? It’s like driving a SmartCar. Everything stupid without anything good.)
Tonight, I’m headed out to a few parties, dressed as an evil, Victorian ringmaster. This was partly inspired by Blood Drive, a new show I’m watching on Syfy, about an apocalyptic Drag Race featuring cars that run on human blood. It’s awesomely campy, but, at the same time, extremely violent and occasionally sexually disturbing. Colin Cunningham absolutely crushes the character of Julian Slink, the demented, bitchy, Vaudeville-esque Ringmaster. If you like this sort of nonsense, then it’s worth your time.
Also worth your time this weekend … should you be suffering on a couch littered with glitter … are my all-time favorite horror movies.
I can’t possibly rank these. Some, like The Birds, I love for the cinematic genius and accidental humor. Others, like Gremlins, make me nostalgic for growing up in the 1980s. Then, there’s The Strangers, which just straight out scared the shit out of me and caused me to check my door locks with a near O.C.D. level consistency for about a year.
Thus, these are in chronological order based on when they hit the big screen.
THE BIRDS, 1963
Why I Love It: This movie should also be considered a Stalker film, because Melanie Daniels straight out meets Mitch Brenner in a pet shop, flirts for a minute, then buys him two birds which she drives to his house, located in another city (say what?! yes.). The birds, furthermore, are present to his much younger sister, whom she’s never met and does not know the name of. This involves a boat, being hit in the face by a seagull, and going to his ex-girlfriend’s house to find out his address. And, there’s also a lot of people getting their eyes pecked out too––which was a first for the big screen in the ’60s.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, 1974
Why I Love It: Such a classic. It’s even more horrible that it’s based-on-a-true-story, and in the genre, it’s a masterpiece that paved the way for a lot of other masterpieces to come. It’s as scary the 10th time you watch it as it is the first. The dinner table scene is the absolute worst. Stop plonking her with that hammer!
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, 1975
Why I Love It: Rocky Horror might be in my Top 10 for movies in any genre. I love everything about this film, from ripped fishnets to the insane plot line, from the the gritty sexuality to the fact that Meatloaf sings a song and then is murdered with a chainsaw in a weird ice locker.
Why I Love It: Is it a Christmas movie? Is it horror? Is it comedy? Who cares. It is the reason your mom always yelled at you about putting things in the microwave that did not belong in there. Kersplat!
THE LOST BOYS, 1987
Why I Love It: Because quoting every single line … even the random, uneventful ones … is super annoying for everyone but me. Plus, it has both Coreys and Jason Patric at the peak of his big, sexy hair.
Why I Love It: Yes, some movies make us jump, but very few can make you physically freakout while laughing. This is one of the only movies that will actually make me slap myself. It happens every time I watch the shower scene where the spider falls onto the naked girl. John Goodman is aces in horror. More on this statement later.
ARMY OF DARKNESS, 1992
Why I Love It: My brother rented this at Blockbuster one Christmas Eve (probably in 1992) for us to watch upstairs while my parents wrapped our presents downstairs. I was hooked. This is the movie that planted a life-long love of corn-syrup-laden cult classic horror. I won’t go into the storyline here (because you’d read it and decide to go nowhere near this idiocy fest), but if you know and love Bruce Campbell and haven’t yet seen the television series revival of this called Ash vs. Evil Dead, stop whatever you’re doing and sign up for Starz. It’s possibly even better than the original movie trilogy.
Why I Love It: I wouldn’t put Anaconda in a horror category normally, because it’s more of a b-rate action flick. However, if your afraid of snakes, then it definitely counts. And, if you’re hungover, you can totally nap in the middle of this film with no need for fussing with rewind. It’s also got Ice Cube, J-Lo, Owen Wilson, Danny Trejo and John Voight. How this movie did not win an Oscar is beyond me.
IDLE HANDS, 1999
Why I Love It: You should definitely follow watching Army of Darkness with something equally stupid and deliciously funny. Which is to say, watch Idle Hands. It’s all the C-list actors you love from the ’90s MTV era, and it has a strikingly similar plot. A dude’s hand gets possessed. That is, until ganja literally saves the day. How do you beat a demon living in your hand? Get the hand high. So bad but it’s really, really good.
PLANET TERROR, 2007
Why I Love It: Robert Rodriguez is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time and Freddy Rodriguez is one of my favorite actors. I will stop whatever I’m doing to prepare the popcorn for this movie any day of the week. Recently, my buddy RJ and I have been heading to Alamo Drafthouse to watch re-screenings of cult classics, and I’m seriously hoping they get Planet Terror on the roster soon. In this one, a toxic bio-chemical spill creates legions of the undead. Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) loses a leg but makes the most of it by strapping on a chainsaw and unleashing deadly stripper kicks, alongside a merry band of misfits hoping to save the world.
ROOM 1408, 2007
Why I Love It: By now you’ve noticed I’m a big fan of campy, saccahrine horror with a lot of corn-syrup and animatronic antics from giant snakes and overly wet mogwai. I’m also a fan of cerebral horror, where the director leans not on gore but on genuine triggers that we all have. In Room 1408, John Cusack plays a journalist fascinated with the paranormal. He checks into a supposedly haunted hotel room to stay the night and what ensues is a disturbing look at our fear of nearly everything, from heights to claustrophobia to mental illness.
THE STRANGERS, 2008
Why I Love It: I’m not sure I could watch it again. That’s how disturbed I was when it finished. Basically, it shreds horror down to the simplest plot line imaginable. People are in a house, being terrorized by strangers wearing super creepy, very cheap masks. From start to finish, this movie never lets up. The last line explanation also had me locking doors for months.
STAKE LAND, 2010
Why I Love It: This is one of the best vampire films I’ve ever seen. It’s told from the point of view of a young boy who’s saved by a vampire hunter only known as “Mister.” It’s a coming-of-age while also being a leave-your-seat suspense film. Holy hell, they are fast and furious.
CABIN IN THE WOODS, 2012
Why I Love It: I’m a big fan of what I like to call “romantic comedy horror,” which is movies like Joy Ride, Scream, Cabin Fever and Fright Night. Essentially, it’s movies where you could take out all the horror, and have a teen-angst flick or a Rom-Com, if you subbed in something else. This category was pretty damn saturated. Then, along came Cabin in the Woods with a plot twist to end all plot twists. It was genius. It’s jumpy-scary and funny, cerebral and surprising with great talent from make-up artists and CGI experts.
THE VISIT, 2015
Why I Love It: What’s creepier than old grandparents whom you’ve never met and are forced to spend a few weeks with? Everything done by these octogenarians pushes the moment from quirky to weird, then on to disturbing and what-the-F-did-I-just-watch levels. I had to look away at towards the end a few times, and I was definitely yelling “NOPE!” at the screen. Don’t eat food while watching this.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Why I Love It: John Goodman is so great at horror. You forget that he’s Roseanne’s husband and suddenly, he’s this terrifying, massive monster. Cloverfield is a trilogy, but you don’t need to see the others before this one. It starts with people living in a fallout shelter after the world above has been, essentially, nuked. As the film progresses, you are not sure who to fear or what to believe. Then comes the vat of acid. Never a bad way to off someone. Neat & tidy!
LITTLE EVIL, 2017
Why I Love It: Adam Scott’s signature, Parks & Recreation dry wit is well-timed in this Netflix movie I discovered a few nights ago. The storyline is that he marries a woman way above his batting average (Oh, hello, Evangeline Lily!), and her son is … well … potentially the spawn of Satan. If you liked Santa Clarita Diet with Drew Barrymore, you’ll likely adore this one. Evil kids are the worst. At least you can burn your demented house to the ground or chop off your own hand with a chainsaw. Killing a kid presents it’s own set of annoyances and social taboos, and this movie delves into all of them.
That’s my list for now. Leave your favorites in the comments below. I’ll need them for tomorrow if tonight goes according to plan.