If you’re looking only at the multiplexes this month, the horror options will probably seem slightly limited. No disrespect to Annabelle, Dracula Untold, or the upcoming Ouija, but the horror geeks I know need a hell of a lot more sustenance than three movies in one month. Especially if that month is October.
Fortunately we now live in a world of DVDs, Blu-rays, VOD transactions, and plain-old simple “streaming” options — and that means a hell of a lot more horror flicks than three. Three!?! I know some genre freaks who watch three horror movies before dinner! In honor of those aficionados, we offer this handy calendar of what’s new in horror, and where you can find it.
10/2 (VOD) — The ABCs of Death 2 — If you thought the original ABCs of Death had a few morsels of genius but was overall an exceedingly mixed bag, congratulations. We are in agreement on that. That’s why it’s nice to say that the 26 shorts gathered here exhibit a markedly more impressive batting average. My full review is available at The Horror Show. (Magnet)
10/3 (VOD) — A Good Marriage — Hardly the most scintillating Stephen King adaptation you’ll ever see, but probably still worth seeing for the central hook (housewife discovers that her lovable husband is actually a serial killer), a great performance from Joan Allen, an amusing supporting cast, and a few cool jolts here and there. My full review is published over at Geek Nation. (Screen Media)
10/3 (VOD) — Horns — A fine adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel, as directed by Alex Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes). My full review is over at Geek Nation. (Radius)
10/3 (VOD) — Inner Demons — If I said “it’s a cross between found footage horror and that reality show about interventions,” you’d either cut me off and say “No, thanks!” or you’d mentally jot down “Inner Demons” in your head. Personally I think it’s the best possible rendition of that premise, but as is always the case with “faux doco” horror films, your own mileage may vary. (IFC Midnight)
10/7 (VOD) — Mercy — Frances O’Connor, Shirley Knight, Dylan McDermott, Mark Duplass, and two very solid kid actors in a rendition of Stephen King’s old “Gramma” story. (Yes, from way back in Skeleton Crew.) Clocking in at a lean 80 minutes, Mercy combines a lot of comfortably familiar King themes (loss of innocence, fear of mortality, loyalty amongst family, etc.) into a generally handsome and effective little chiller. (Universal)
10/7 (VOD) — Mockingbird — The director of The Strangers will probably look back at this film as his “sophomore slump,” given how popular his debut was, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about here. Fans of the “found footage” style of scary storytelling may appreciate this sparse and impressively stark story of three people, three video cameras, and the mysterious force that compels them to keep filming — even well after they shouldn’t. (Universal)
10/7 (VOD) — Not Safe for Work — Not exactly sure what happened here, given how much I love the work of director Joe Johnston (Captain America, The Rocketeer, Jurassic Park 3) and several previous efforts from screenwriters Adam Mason & Simon Boyes (Broken, The Devil’s Chair, Blood River), but this thriller about a law firm beset by a maniac hits the screen in a rather dry and inert fashion. A few amusing twists keep things moving, but there’s not much here that’ll lodge itself into your memory banks. (Universal)
10/10 (VOD — The Canal — A cool Irish thriller about a man overwhelmed by marital stress, work problems, and the fact that his house may be very haunted indeed. (Orchard)
10/10 (VOD) — The Houses October Built — I seem to find myself saying this a lot, but (ahem) “if you actually like found footage movies, or at least willing to give a new one a fair shake,” this one about a group of “haunt hoppers” is pretty decent. It suffers from some of the same issues seen in “found footage” flicks, both good and bad, in that it takes a little while to get rolling, but once our characters get past the sillier haunted houses and begin poking into some truly disturbing locations, that’s when the stuff gets good. [And for a much more fact-based account of “local Halloween haunts,” check out an indie documentary called The American Scream.] (Image)
10/14 (DVD) — Juan of the Dead — A very agreeably silly zombie comedy from Cuba. I didn’t get all of the regional humor, but I did enjoy the zombies and the slapstick. (Entertainment One)
10/14 (DVD) — Witching & Bitching — See above, only take out “zombies” and put “witches” there. Also take out “Cuba” and use “Spain.” (IFC Midnight)
10/14 (DVD) — Penny Dreadful (season one) — I know this is a movie list but who cares? This series is really solid, and I generally don’t watch a lot of horror TV. (Paramount)
10/14 (DVD) — The Texas Chain Saw Massacre — Yes, the 1974 original. If you love this movie you need to check out this epic Blu-ray release from MPI/Dark Sky. Simply amazing.
10/17 (VOD) — The Town That Dreaded Sundown — It’s always a little weird when there’s a remake to a film that nobody besides horror geeks even remembers (like Sorority Row!) but here’s a new one. Superior to its predecessor if only for its wonderfully kinetic (and sometimes bizarre) cinematography, this remake “utilizes” the original film (and its reputation) to a clever degree, but it also wanders straight into “generic slasher flick” territory more than once or twice. A colorful ensemble (including Veronica Cartwright, Ed Lauter, Gary Cole, Josh Leonard, Anthony Anderson, Edward Herrmann, and Addison Timlin) certainly doesn’t hurt. (Orion)
10/10 (VOD) — Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead — You thought there was some insane Nazi zombie slapstick carnage in Part 1? Ha! Check out my full review at The Horror Show! (Well Go)
10/17 (VOD) — Extraterrestrial — The guys who brought you the surprisingly cool Grave Encounters are back with a flick that’s half a basic slasher movie and half a basic alien probe thriller… and yet somehow they combine to make a pretty fun whole. A few slow spots here and there, but also some decent special effects, some nasty dispatches, a creepy third act, and a final shot that’s super showy but so so cool. (IFC Midnight)
10/17 (DVD) — See No Evil 2 — Haven’t seen this one yet, but given that the first one is absolutely atrocious and that the directors this time around are Jen and Sylvia Soska (of the great American Mary), I’ll be throwing it 90 minutes next week. Looks to be little more than a hospital-set slasher story, but there’s nothing wrong with that. (Lionsgate)
10/17 (VOD) — Summer of Blood — A low-budget comedy about a guy who is an asshole long before he becomes a vampire. Funny stuff. (MPI)
10/17 (VOD) — Housebound — At every film festival there are three or four films that get a lot of excited “buzz” among the ticket-buyers, and this fantastic import from New Zealand grabbed a lot of that stuff at South by Southwest, Fantastic Fest, and other festivals not located in Austin, Texas. It’s a horror story, a suspense thriller, and a witty comedy all at once. For more, check my full review at The Horror Show. (XLrator)
10/21 (DVD) — The Purge: Anarchy — Even those who disliked Part 1 seemed to agree that Part 2 addressed some of their gripes. In other words, yes, the sequel goes outside. And stays there. For 90 pretty enjoyably insane minutes. Full review at The Horror Show. (Universal)
10/21 (DVD) — The Squad — A Spanish import about a troop of soldiers dispatched to a remote Colombian outpost, and the unexpected presence they find there. (Scream Factory)
10/21 (DVD) — Vincent Price Collection Vol. 2 — The first Blu-ray set had six Price classics, and this one has seven: The Last Man on Earth, The Comedy of Terrors, The Tomb of Ligeia, The Raven, House on Haunted Hill, and Dr. Phibes Rises Again. OK, maybe they’re not all classics, but anything with Vincent Price is worth seeing at least once. (Scream Factory)
10/21 (VOD) — Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort — Yes, there are SIX of these and NO, not much of Parts 3, 4, and 5 are worth a whole hell of a lot, but of course we keep watching them because that’s what horror nuts do: we watch sequels, hoping for some of the surprisingly unexpected divergences from formula that take place in, yes, Wrong Turn 6. Look, either you’re a fan of this stuff or you’re not, and this one’s actually an improvement on its predecessors. All things being relative, of course. Plot: backwoods cannibals make trouble at an isolated spa/hotel location. Lots of gore. Not much social relevance. Still kinda fun. (Fox)
10/23 (VOD) — V/H/S: Viral — The third, probably final, and arguably weakest entry in the surprisingly creative “found footage anthology” franchise has some good, some bad, and some stuff that is almost sublime. Full review at The Horror Show. (Magnet)
10/24 (VOD) — Exists — Found footage + Bigfoot + the director of The Blair Witch Project. So you’re either in or you’re out. (Lionsgate)
10/28 (DVD) — Deliver Us from Evil — This atmospheric combination of police procedural and occult thriller proved to be a tough sell in the middle of the summer, but it seems the sort of genre flick that will find plenty of fans on DVD and cable. My full review at Geek Nation, thanks. (Sony)
10/28 (DVD) — Nightbreed — Includes the theatrical cut AND the brand-new, long-awaited, Clive Barker-approved director’s cut, plus all sorts of supplemental bells and whistles. Kudos to Scream Factory for putting so much time into this Blu-ray project. Oh, they’re also releasing the awesome killer worms movie, Squirm, on 10/28, which makes that day my version of Christmas.
Two last tips for horror junkies who need a fix but don’t have a lot of cash to spend:
1. Netflix members should check out my “Quality Indie Horror on Instant Netflix” gallery right here.
2. Here’s a handy list of film noir, thrillers, and horror films that you can watch right now, for free, because they’re in what’s known as “the public domain.” (cue eerie music)
Did I leave a good movie out? Let me know via Twitter: @scottEweinberg. Thanks. And if all else fails… go with this one.
Have a safe and happy Halloween season. Staying inside with movies will help make sure that happens.
[H/T to Shock Till You Drop for some reminders.]