Cover of novel The Complex, by Michael Walters

2022’s #31DaysOfHorror

Another year of #31DaysOfHorror. Again, the rules were, 31 films over 45 days, posting one a day on Twitter all through October, culminating in Halloween. The films had to be either new to me, or not seen in at least twenty years. This year I didn’t write blog posts, so I’ve included the tweets instead.

  1. Nope (2022), dir. Jordan Peele. Something in the desert sky is picking off people. Everything and nothing, too much and not enough, never bored but sooooo frustrating afterwards.
  2. Eyes Without a Face (1960), dir Georges Franju. Classic French modern fairy tale. The mask is memorable enough, but it’s the way she moves that brings her to haunted life. The surgery scene is unforgettable. Classic.
  3. Seconds (1966), dir John Frankenheimer. Arthur Hamilton is sick of his humdrum life. When a dead friend tells Arthur he can have another shot, he takes it. Paranoia, melancholy, an orgy in a wine vat, paranoia. Loved it.
  4. Night of the Creeps (1986), dir Fred Dekker. Goofy sci-fi horror with cool parasites that turn their hosts into zombies. Tom Atkins knows he’s in a B-movie. ‘Thrill me.’
  5. Prey (2022), dir. Dan Trachtenberg. A fresh take on Predator that made me very happy. I immediately tied an axe to a piece of rope. I’ll start practicing later. This might be the last film on the list.
  6. The Night of the Hunter (1968), dir. Charles Laughton. As a kid, my father showed me this and Cape Fear close together, so Robert Mitchum has always been a very bad man to me. Shapes, shadows and haunting songs.
  7. Virus: 32 (2022), dir Gustavo Hernández. Uruguayan running zombies. Strong cinematography, excellent set pieces, decent characters and a cool single take opening. It’s on Shudder.
  8. Dead Set (2008), dir Yann Demange. The Big Brother set is a refuge for contestants during a zombie outbreak. Andy Nyman is wonderfully awful as the producer. Funny and savage.
  9. Dave Made a Maze (2017), dir. Bill Watterson. Annie returns from a weekend trip to find boyfriend Dave is stuck in a cardboard structure he’s created in their living room. Uniquely brilliant comedy-horror about making things.
  10. Don't Hug Me I'm Scared (2011-16), dir. Joseph Pelling, Becky Sloan. Three puppet friends have existential adventures that curdle as you watch. Five shorts on YouTube. Dark Sesame Street. So good.
  11. Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971), dir. John D. Hancock. Didn’t expect this to be so beautiful, so classy, so perfect.
  12. The Bay (2012), dir. Barry Levinson. Does for pollution-fuelled parasites what Contagion did for coronavirus mutations. Found footage horror that is unsettling, gross, creepy and unexpectedly political. One of the best of my #31DaysofHorror so far.
  13. Kill, Baby... Kill! (1966), dir. Mario Bava. A young girl’s laughter is the harbinger of death in a remote village. It’s all about lighting, camerawork, costumes and the trippy gothic atmosphere. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
  14. Candyman (1992), dir. Bernard Rose. This breaks my first-watch-or-30-year rule, but not by much.The true evil is Helen’s husband Trevor and his academic colleagues. The moral of the story is, don’t go into academia.
  15. Candyman (2021), dir. Nia DaCosta. Amazingly shot sequel. Also unexpectedly dull. Great ideas let down by the ponderous script — just my take, don’t cover me in bees and gut me.
  16. Offseason (2021), dir. Micky Keating. On her death bed, a famous actress begs not to be buried in her home town. When her grave is desecrated, her daughter investigates, but the town is closing for the winter. Silent Hill vibes.
  17. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), dir. Terence Fisher. I wanted to enjoy this. The production design and wardrobe is impeccable, the performances are good, but damn it, I was bored by the dialogue and story.
  18. Werewolf by Night (2022), dir. Michael Giacchino. Unexpected under-an-hour gem. A secret group of monster hunters meet to compete to inherit the Bloodstone. It’s Marvel-ified horror that was just... fun. Disney+.
  19. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), dir. Roman Polanski. I think as a teen I was too distracted by Sharon Tate and vampires to notice how unfunny this broad comedy horror is. And between Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby too.
  20. King Kong (1933), dir. Merion C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack. After struggling with clunky thirties attitudes, I sank into Fay Wray’s smile and let the spectacle wash over me. More monster fights than I expected.
  21. Seoul Station (2016), dir. Yeon Sang-ho. Animated prequel to Train to Busan that takes its time exploring South Korean social issues as the zombie plague kicks off. The final twist is shocking and brutal. It’s okay.
  22. Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970), dir. Mario Bava. More Agatha Christie than giallo, but the kills keep you guessing, everyone is beautiful, and I really want to live in the 60s-futuristic house on the beach.
  23. Stage Fright (1987), dir Michele Soavi. A troupe of theatre actors rehearse in the week before opening night. An escaped murderer dons an owl head mask and goes on an artistic killing spree. Excellent macabre fun.
  24. Chopping Mall (1986), dir. Jim Wynorski. You want to party. Your dad owns a mall. You have sex with your friends in a department store. There’s a fleet of security robots, lightning, sentience, death, nudity - fun!
  25. Targets (1968), dir. Peter Bogdonavich. Two stories intertwine. A gun-collecting man has intrusive thoughts of shooting people. A scriptwriter tries to keep Boris Karloff from retiring. The drive-in ending is great.
  26. Come True (2020), dir. Anthony Scott Burns. An insomniac student signs up for a sleep research study, but something in her dreams wants to become real. Atmospheric, stylish mix of Cronenberg and It Follows with a dash of Jung.
  27. Spider Baby (1967), dir. Jack Hill. Manipulative visitors get caught in a family’s macabre web. Addams Family meets Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with a cartoon vibe (?!) Sexy, grim, funny, odd. Truly weird.
  28. New Nightmare (1994), dir. Wes Craven. Unexpectedly disappointing, but it sits between two eras, and two years later he made Scream. It’s clunky in comparison, but still interesting, so I salute a transitionary work.
  29. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), dir. Tommy Lee Wallace. The story beats keep things moving, the characters are quirky and engaging, Dean Cundy’s eye as cinematographer is perfect — really got me in the mood.
  30. Footprints (1975), dir. Luigi Bazzoni, Mario Fanelli. A translator wakes and discovers she’s missing memories of the weekend. A postcard leads her to an island where people know her as someone else. A spooky mystery.
  31. The Funhouse (1981), dir. Tobe Hooper. An homage to Carpenter pivots to a beautifully shot carnival with its dirty glamour, violence and sexuality on full display. Elizabeth Berridge is luminous. Happy Halloween!