For some horror fans, the end of October is a devastating denouement. AMC shelves its Halloween marathons, Netflix returns to nominally watchable dreck, and thoughts are forcefully turned to heartwarming, rosy-cheeked holiday fare like It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Things couldn’t get more upbeat.
Save the suicides and Christmas ghosts – we’re just getting started with the gristle and viscera. Horror doesn’t take time off and neither do we, even if we’re notoriously finicky about deadlines. Between Thanksgiving and Black Friday, November is defined by overindulgence, and our films this month range from wildly gruesome to bat-shit crazy to unexpectedly revolutionary. Like that third helping of green bean casserole, your stomach might say no, but it’s too delicious to resist.
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Halloween II (2009)
As a sequel to our review of Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake, we’ll kick things off with the director’s own 2009 follow-up, Halloween II. The film begins as an adaptation of John Carpenter’s 1981 film of the same name before taking an unexpected turn, delving deeper into the connection between perpetual scream queen Lorie Strode and unstoppable killing machine Michael Myers. Zombie darkens the usual slasher conventions with his signature violence and twisted vision, all while adding new and chilling elements to the ever-expanding Halloween universe. We’ll touch briefly on how it compares to Carpenter’s version, but try to focus on its strengths and weaknesses as a standalone film. Oh, and it has “Weird Al” Yankovic playing himself, if that does anything for you.
If a cigar-chomping, one-lining turkey isn’t enough to get you in the mood for Thanksgiving, then nothing is – unless that turkey also happens to be a murderous psychopath. Thankskilling, a gloriously inept slasher/creature flick/clusterfuck, delves into a very real American fear: What happens when poultry takes revenge for years of human insensitivity, turning the automated knife back on its tormentors? Plus some other shit about necromancing, whatever. And no, it’s not quite the ‘70s horror send-up from Eli Roth’s faux-trailer in Grindhouse (2007), but it delivers all the laughable gore and tongue-in-cheek humor you’d expect from a B-movie with the tagline, “Gobble, gobble, motherfucker.” No joke, watching this film is a tradition on par with cornbread stuffing, at least for Phil. We’ll see if Chris agrees.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
It’s been delayed by a month or so, but we’re finally getting around to Chris’s first horror film. If you’ve scoped our “About Us” page, you know he was duped into believing witches and stick bundles haunted the twisted forests of Maryland, thanks almost wholly to a prepubescent viewing of The Blair Witch Project. On the budget of an Axe commercial, first-time filmmakers pioneered the “found footage” sub-genre – typified by queasy-cam and bare-bones plotting – and influenced an entire generation of horror directors. Neither of us have watched it in quite some time, and we’ll do our best to separate the film from its troubled legacy.
The review is also the first installment in our “Where it All Began” series. Look for coverage of Phil’s first horror experience, The Shining, sometime in December.