Welcome back boils and ghouls!
It’s time for yet another installment in my long running annual Month of Horror. Every October starting on the first and running through Halloween, I watch at least one new (to me) movie a day and usually more than that. This will be my fifth year posting about this and the seventh year overall with the tradition. The tradition started over on the AV Club with some brief capsule reviews in 2014 before graduating there to a more in depth analysis with my World Edition in 2015. With the founding of the AVCAD, I made the migration over there and likewise started to grow even more out of control with the Genre Exploration in 2016 (all the links to them are here).
Last year, however, was a bit of a mess. I like to think I still provided a quality written product, but my Dealer’s Choice theme was born out of a combination of burn-out, writer’s block, and lack of preparation. I had only recently come back to the site and had to be talked into the project (a mistake they would come to regret). It also came during a month I went on vacation and I spent much of it helping to build this site up and so besides being the massive time sink of years past, it was also a giant headache and source of stress.
As a result, I’m going to make a few changes this year. While I have always gotten the reviews up as close to midnight as possible (dating back to the AVQ&A days), they will now go up at 10:00 AM the next day to give me both a couple extra hours to work on it and also to get the posts more attention. Also, I’m returning to the highly planned system I used in previous years. In fact, as I write this line, it is still August and yet my schedule is mostly planned out for the month. Freedom is a wonderful thing and all, and while I thought writing about whatever I felt like would ease the burden, instead it just added more since I felt and in many ways still do feel like I have already burned through most of the horror topics that I could talk about.
That brings us to this year’s theme. While 2014 lacked any sort of a theme, I’ve found that the most interesting part of writing these reviews each year are the historical and genre discussions which I use to lead off each review. Just writing thirty-one reviews (okay it was 59 reviews last year, 78 in 2016, 62 in 2015 and that’s if you just count films) would get boring quick, but what coming up with thirty-one different variations on one subject is hard. I have already done countries and subgenres. I’d do them again, but there’s no way I could get to thirty-one I haven’t talked about yet. I considered directors, but coming up with a list of thirty-one greats was a challenge due to my limitation of it having to be films I hadn’t seen before and I picked up the spares on a number of them last year.
I considered doing one a year and making this a multiyear project, but besides the fact that some years had none (many pre-1920 years) or practically none (for 1950 I would have had to resort to a Guatemalan film with no subtitles and I am constantly depleting lean years unintentionally), it’s hard to imagine interest being high from readers in those early years and I always like writing as if this will be my last year doing this, because it may very well be. Describing horror on a year to year basis also felt like far too granular of a level, even in the present day with changes happening slower than that.
Earlier this year, I had an epiphany that would involve combining a number of those ideas together. Based on the ubiquitous internet chatroom question of “A/S/L?”, I had my theme. I would divide the month into three ten-day chunks with one blow out Halloween celebration.
“A” here also stand for age, but instead of breaking it down on a yearly basis, I would go by decade. While the first horror films popped up in the 1890s and the first feature length horror films were made in the 1910’s, the 1920’s was the decade where the feature length horror films started to be produced with regularity and as a result will serve as our starting point. Coincidentally, it is one that takes us right to the modern day.
“S” maintains its abbreviation for sex and it is the one that is the most essential here to me. After noticing a dearth of attention paid to female-directed films in 2016 (reviewing only a short and one feature film, both as extras and the latter I didn’t even note at the time as being female directed), I wanted to devote more attention in 2017 to female directed films. While I did devote one feature to discussing their contributions and Mattie Do’s representation for Laos added another two films, trying to fit more in got lost in the chaos of the end of the month and is another of my regrets about last year. I aim to rectify that and spotlight at least ten, though probably more female directors and their films.
“L” is for location as we look to ten more countries and their horror cinema. It’s getting harder and harder to fill these out each year. New ones become available and are released each year as more countries enter the international marketplace, but I ended last year at forty-five nations represented and we have hit almost every major cinema by this point. There’s a couple I’ve long wanted to tackle that I finally get to this year, but most of the films I went looking for are unavailable (Munafik being the most devastating of them) and or a confusing mess of whether you can really count them as being from the country (such as films “from” Luxembourg).
The themes will be on alternating days and I get that not all of them will make for in depth discussion topics, but I do think they all are important subjects to shine a light on. If you would like to check out the rest of the site’s horror coverage, follow the link here. Below, I have also listed the schedules for the past four years as well as links to each of the reviews from last year. The movies are subject to change as every year there’s always at least one issue that crops up with a movie (usually related to Netflix’s DVD service in some way) and plenty more bonus films to be added so keep an eye on the schedule file for updates. Hopefully, this year will run a lot smoother and I hope you all will check back in each day of this most special of months.
10/1/17 – TV Movies: The Plumber
10/2/17 – James Wan: Dead Silence
10/3/17 – Stephen King: It
10/4/17 – Remakes: The Phantom of the Opera
10/5/17 – Chucky: Curse of Chucky
10/6/17 – Female Directors: Raw (Grave)
10/7/17 – Sub-R Horror: Ouija
10/8/17 – China: Song at Midnight
10/9/17 – Modernized: The Return of Dracula
10/10/17 – Schlock: Vicious Lips
10/11/17 – Exploitation: I Spit on Your Grave
10/12/17 – DTV Sequels: American Psycho II: All American Girl
10/13/17 – Song Kang-ho: The Quiet Family (Choyonghan kajok)
10/14/17 – Hannibal Lecter: Hannibal Rising
10/15/17 – Platinum Dunes: The Amityville Horror
10/16/17 – Horror Titles: 976-EVIL
10/17/17 – Youths: Eden Lake
10/18/17 – Terence Fisher: The Brides of Dracula
10/19/17 – Movie Posters: The Creature Walks Among Us
10/20/17 – Propaganda: Invisible Agent
10/21/17 – Movie Length: A Cure for Wellness
10/22/17 – Switzerland: Sennentuntschi
10/23/17 – Literature: This Book Is Full of Spiders
10/24/17 – Female Villains: She-Wolf of London
10/25/17 – Documentary: Universal Horror
10/26/17 – George A. Romero: Survival of the Dead
10/27/17 – Greece: Island of Death (Ta pediá tou Diavólou)
10/28/17 – Laos: Dearest Sister (Nong hak)
10/29/17 – M. Night Shyamalan: Split
10/30/17 – South Africa: House on Willow Street
10/31/17 – The Essentials: The Old Dark House