It's an advent calendar... with movies!
That's right, it's officially October, which means a new spooky/seasonal cinematic adventure a day for all of you viewing needs (and mine, of course).
So please join me on my quest; featuring a new movie added to this post each day this month!
So be sure to come back and see what's new each and every day!
OCT. 1 - Halloweentown (1998)
Halloweentown is undoubtedly the quintessential kickoff to my 31 days of October each year. It masterfully weaves nostalgia into the fabric of its storyline, transporting me back to those carefree days of elementary school Halloween parties. With every viewing, the film effortlessly reignites that unmistakable fall vibe, setting the perfect tone for the entire spooky season. Despite its undeniable Disney Channel Original cheesiness, Halloweentown remains a timeless gem in the realm of Halloween movies. This cinematic delight introduces an array of witches and ghouls, and an assortment of creepy characters that roam the town's enchanting streets that create a universe to be continued. It has the magical ability to inject a dose of delightful fright into the littlest one's night while maintaining a charming, family-friendly atmosphere.
What truly sets Halloweentown apart is its skillful blend of whimsical, silly humor and the horrible Disney graphics that have become iconic in their own right. These elements combine to create an enduring classic that captures the very essence of Halloween classics.
OCT. 2 - The Haunted Mansion (2003)
The Haunted Mansion (2003) invites us into a thrilling, ghostly adventure that seamlessly blends spooky humor and captivating visuals; immersing us in the world of a classic haunted house adventure. The film introduces a cast of comical spirits (each with its own quirky charm) along with the mansion itself, which becomes its own character due to enchanting set designs and special effects. Of course, Eddie Murphy brings his own comedic talents to the table for the whole movie. While it’s no The Nutty Professor, it’s still a fun way to start the spooky season!
The Haunted Mansion strikes the right playful tone by balancing its humor and supernatural thrills and delivers a captivating cinematic journey for all ages. Whether you're a fan of haunted tales or simply seeking family-friendly entertainment, this film offers a delightful escape that will leave you and your family grinning from ear to ear.
OCT. 3 - The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a spine-tingling treat that blends the best of both Halloween and Christmas. Tim Burton's dark and whimsical world was brought to life through stunning stop-motion animation under the direction of Henry Selick. This masterpiece follows the adventures of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, as he stumbles upon the enchanting realm of Christmas Town. Jack's quirky and endearing quest to put his own frightful spin on Christmas is a misadventure filled with spooky humor and catchy musical numbers (written and performed by Danny Elfman).
The quirky characters, from the lovable Sally to the mischievous Oogie Boogie, add depth to the story. And the distinctive animation style ensures The Nightmare Before Christmas stands out as a Halloween classic, making it the perfect 3rd choice for your 31 Days of Halloween marathon.
OCT. 4 - Coraline (2009)
Coraline is a unique perspective that combines dark humor and mesmerizing stop-motion animation to deliver a chilling experience. Director Henry Selick returns, proving that he doesn't need Tim Burton to scare the pants off of children. The film's eerie and enchanting world is brought to life with meticulous attention to detail, making it a visual treat for viewers of all ages. The stop-motion animation has its own way about it that exceeds the normal amount of creepiness of the medium. One of the standout elements of Coraline is its hauntingly beautiful music score, which perfectly complements the eerie atmosphere of the story. It adds an extra layer of depth to the film, leaving you both impressed and slightly creeped out.
But what really sets Coraline apart is its ability to create a dark and imaginative tale that lingers in your mind long after the credits roll. This is what makes Coraline a must-watch for your 31 days of Halloween!
OCT. 5 - Young Frankenstein (1974)
Tonight’s pick is a timeless, hilarious, and entertaining classic, Young Frankenstein (it's pronounced Fronk-en-steen). While its slapstick humor might be considered a bit crude by today's standards, it's essential to appreciate the film in the context of its era. The irreverent comedy is a throwback to a time when such humor was more prevalent, adding a unique charm to the movie. Mel Brooks' directing style and choice to use black and white footage capture the essence of classic horror films while having a parody-style script. Gene Wilder's performance as Dr. Frankenstein is nothing short of brilliant. His comedic timing and genuine enthusiasm for the role shine through, making him the heart and soul of the film.
Young Frankenstein may not align with the tastes and sensibilities of modern-day audiences when it comes to humor, but it will always remain a timeless classic; making it a spook-tacular choice for your marathon.
OCT. 6 - Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Little Shop of Horrors (the '86 version) is a Halloween treat that combines catchy musical numbers, dark humor, and outstanding production design. The songs are infectious, and the witty humor keeps you entertained throughout. The cast shines with knockout performances by Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, and of course Steve Martin. But what truly stands out is the mesmerizing set and costume design, especially the carnivorous plant that steals the show. This cult classic is a must-watch for those looking to add a dash of horror and humor to their Halloween festivities.
If you're able to find a copy of the alternate ending, be sure to check it out, as it's based on the ending of the original stage play. And for an extra lark, watch the 1960 version and keep an eye out for a cameo from Jack Nicholson!
OCT. 7 - Beetlejuice (1988)
Beetlejuice is a delightfully odd and ghoulishly creative film that continues to captivate audiences with its unique charm. Michael Keaton's performance as the mischievous Beetlejuice is a standout, bringing an unforgettable blend of humor and chaos to the screen. Young Alec Baldwin's hilarious turn adds to the film's comedic brilliance. The set design in Beet– (HAH! Won't catch me saying that three times!) is nothing short of extraordinary, creating a world that is both eerie and visually captivating. The film's costumes are a testament to the craftsmanship that went into this production. And the old school effects bring a certain charm while still outshining CGI with their inventiveness and personality.
Tim Burton's inventive directing, and fantastic chemistry with Keaton even paved the way for their later collaborations. Which is just another reason it is a must-see this Halloween season!
OCT. 8 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cinematic treasure that has earned its place over th years as a cult classic. With mesmerizing set design and unforgettable songs, it immerses viewers in a world of eerie charm and humor. The film's set design, a testament to craftsmanship, blends the eerie and the comedic seamlessly. Its gothic architecture and dimly lit corridors transport viewers to Dr. Frank-N-Furter's eccentric castle, setting the stage for the bizarre and outrageous events that.
Susan Sarandon, Richard O'Brien, Barry Bostwick, and Meat Loaf are all memorable, but at the heart of the film lies Tim Curry's iconic portrayal of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. His charismatic, gender-bending performance, complete with witty one-liners and impeccable comic timing, remains the standout star of the movie. Curry's role in this timeless classic is often regarded as the pinnacle of his career, leaving an indelible mark on cinema history.
OCT. 9 - Freaky (2020)
Freaky is one of the more modern additions to the season. But it shines as a unique horror-comedy that features Vince Vaughn giving a fantastic performance. It's a clever mix of humor and horror, featuring a killer body-swap plot that keeps things fresh. The chemistry between Vaughn and Kathryn Newton is a highlight, and the film pays homage to classic horror while delivering gruesome kills. It's a fun, must-see movie that will make you laugh and cringe in all the right ways.
OCT. 10 - Jennifer's Body (2009)
Jennifer's Body stands out for its unique cult appeal. It masterfully blends dark humor and a memorable performance by Megan Fox, delivering a quirky and unconventional horror experience. The dark humor woven into the film's narrative adds a layer of satirical wit that's both entertaining and thought-provoking. It's a refreshing departure from traditional horror, offering a humorous take on the genre. The film's pacing can be a bit awkward at times, leaving me feeling a little off balance however, in the context of a teenage drama horror theme, this uneven pacing somehow fits. It mirrors the chaos and unpredictability of adolescence, making it oddly appropriate for the story and another perfect addition to your Halloween marathon!
OCT. 11 - What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
What We Do in the Shadows is admired for its unique and hilarious take on the vampire genre. And it does so with witty humor, a clever mockumentary style, and extremely memorable characters. Its dry and absurd humor is a hallmark. As is its ability to make the supernatural seem oddly relatable and human. The ensemble cast (led by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement) is rightfully praised for their comedic timing and chemistry.
Jam-packed with jokes, blood, and every vampire trope you can think of, What We Do in the Shadows is a riotous good time. It’s one of my favorite movies any time of the year but it’s especially a great addition to your Halloween playlist!
OCT. 12 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) is a cult classic within the horror genre, recognized for pioneering the standards of its era. This film was not without its share of controversy in Hollywood, initially earning an "X" rating due to its disturbing content before undergoing necessary edits. Despite these hurdles, it introduced audiences to a unique brand of psychological horror. Unlike modern-day slashers that often rely on explicit gore, this film invites viewers to engage their imagination, allowing them to craft their own terrifying scenes in their minds. This means that for many, the film is remembered as being far more gory than in reality.
We would not have the same slasher films we do today if it were not for this gem. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre stands as a most worthy addition to the 31 days of Halloween, setting the stage for a thrilling exploration of classic horror films from the 1970s and 1980s. It serves as a testament to the power of low-budget filmmaking and the enduring ability to bring fear through atmosphere and tension. And the addition of a cannibalistic family never hurts.
OCT. 13 - Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th is the nearly perfect 1980 horror classic that redefined the slasher genre. The film's gruesome murder scenes are legendary, showcasing the masterful work of Tom Savini. The film creates terror through practical effects and suspenseful story-telling. In an era dominated by CGI, Friday the 13th’s visual effects still stand out! What sets this movie apart is its shocking twist near the end, leaving audiences in the 1980s with heads spinning and jaws dropping. I hadn’t seen the classic since I was a kid and was shocked all over again! (Also young Kevin Bacon? Yum.) While Jason's iconic appearance in a hockey mask came in later films, this movie laid the foundation for his menacing character, setting the stage for numerous sequels.
In the realm of horror classics, it's not just a movie; it's a cornerstone. Friday the 13th is now one of my favorite horror movies and the perfect movie to watch today, Friday the 13th!
Happy Friday the 13th!
OCT. 14 - Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1982)
The sequel is never better than the original... While Friday the 13th: Part 2 adds depth to the series by introducing Jason and expanding its lore (and is overall a good movie), it falls short of its predecessor in several aspects. The pacing was slower and kill scenes felt less realistic and somewhat rushed. Many plot elements were predictably formulaic. Nevertheless, it remains a solid slasher movie that will enhance your Halloween movie marathon.
OCT. 15 - A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
"One, two.. Freddie's coming for you.." Wes Craven's A Nightmare On Elm Street stands as a classic in the horror genre. The film expertly blends and weaves together a haunting narrative, eerie set pieces, gush-tastic gore, and solid characters. But more importantly, it is responsible for introducing the world to the iconic character Freddy Krueger, whose ability to invade dreams creates a unique and terrifying premise. The practical effects and inventive dream sequences set a high standard for horror filmmaking. Unlike many of its contemporaries, this movie avoids the predictability often associated with slasher films, keeping the audience on edge throughout.
While its sequels may have fallen into camp, the first film still remains terrifying. A Nightmare On Elm Street is a must-watch for horror enthusiasts and a timeless addition to any horror movie marathon!
OCT. 16 - The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is an undisputed masterpiece in the horror genre and likely the most terrifying movie of its time. The film's chilling atmosphere and unrelenting tension make it a true classic. Linda Blair's portrayal of the possessed Regan is nothing short of extraordinary. At such a young age she delivers a performance that continues to send shivers down the spines of audiences to this day, even warranting calls for banishment from the Catholic church. The movie's groundbreaking special effects and makeup work set a high benchmark for future horror cinema.
Unlike many horror films, The Exorcist delves deep into themes of faith and doubt, making it a terrifying and thought-provoking experience. It remains a defining and enduring entry in the horror canon; a must-see for anyone who appreciates the genre or if you just want the crap scared out of you! I don't think I'll sleep for the rest of October after experiencing it alone!
OCT. 17 - Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) is a timeless horror classic that still gives you chills. It's all about the suspense and fear, not flashy effects. Michael Myers is an unforgettable, silent menace. And Jamie Lee Curtis is terrific and iconic as Laurie Strode. The film's eerie atmosphere, complete with its iconic music, keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Halloween isn't just a movie; it's a genre-defining masterpiece that set the standard for countless horror films to come. Whether you're a die-hard fan of slashers or just suspense in general, this one's a must-watch!
OCT. 18 - Child's Play (1988)
Child's Play ('88) is a classic horror film that still holds up today. Chucky, the possessed doll, is a menacing and wicked character; brought to life through impressive practical effects and the chilling voice of Brad Dourif. The film's unique concept of a killer doll adds some much needed freshness to the horror genre. And it expertly builds suspense and tension, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The clever blend of horror and dark humor creates a distinctive tone.
For those who grew up in the 1980s, Child's Play is a nostalgic gem. And its enduring cult following speaks to its lasting impact (6 sequels, a reboot, and 2 seasons of a television show prove it has staying power). This movie remains a must-see for your Halloween marathon, but still, a very important question remains… why not just kick Chucky? He’s only 6 inches tall!
OCT. 19 - Poltergeist (1982)
Poltergeist ('82) has left an indelible mark on the genre. It tells the chilling story of a suburban family haunted by malevolent spirits. The film's ability to tap into our primal fears of the unknown and the supernatural is remarkable. It's a suspenseful and terrifying journey that kept me on edge. Poltergeist is a visual representation of supernatural forces at work, making it all the more spine-chilling for those who believe.
This classic film has had a lasting impact on the horror genre and popular culture, and it remains a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the significance of pioneering visual effects in cinema. And it's no wonder when you see who was behind the camera. Director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) teamed up with producer Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark), and that partnership bore incredible fruit. Poltergeist continues to haunt our memories, and its visual effects are a vital part of its legacy.
OCT. 20 - The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is an iconic horror film based on Stephen King’s novel that left a lasting impression on me. This cinematic masterpiece delves into the unsettling tale of a family's descent into madness within the confines of isolation. Kubrick's meticulous direction is evident in every frame, creating an atmosphere of dread and unease. Jack Nicholson's performance as Jack Torrance is a standout, capturing the character's dark spiral with remarkable intensity, while his co-stars manage to exude horror to perfection. And with Kubrick's eye for perfection, there are dozens of layers and hidden themes to sniff out during a watch. Besides, what would a Halloween marathon be without some Stephen King?
OCT. 21 - The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Wes Craven's original 1977 classic, The Hills Have Eyes, continues to terrify and captivate to this day for various reasons. This film strikes the perfect balance between gore and suspense while also delivering shocking moments that keep you on edge. It is another Wes Craven horror masterpiece. And true to Wes, this is another offering that peers into the darkest corners of human instinct while venturing deep into the depths of primal human nature. This reflects the fragility of civilization when faced with survival extremes. The cannibalistic family in the remote desert remains unforgettable, thanks to Craven's unique approach; casting unconventional actors, and adding authenticity to the film. It's a chilling testament to his directorial genius.
The Hills Have Eyes ('77) is a terrifying addition to your 31 days of Halloween!
OCT. 22 - Scream (1996)
What’s your favorite scary movie?
Scream is an unforgettable cult classic that masterfully combines the elements of a top-tier slasher film/mystery with a brilliant parody of the genre's tropes that came before it. This unique blend of horror and humor is what makes the Scream series a true standout in the world of horror cinema. What sets it apart is its uncanny ability to keep audiences guessing the killer’s identity until the very last moment, a hallmark of suspense that weaves its way throughout the entire franchise. One can't help but applaud Matthew Lillard's unforgettable performance in Scream, a role that stands as the highlight of his career (second only to his iconic portrayal of the ever-lovable Shaggy Rogers in the beloved Scooby-Doo series). And that's not to mention Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, and the rest of the fantastic cast.
Scream is a series that never gets old and has many great sequels to add to the depth of the story. The whole series would make a great addition to any marathon!
OCT. 23 - Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Tim Burton's Gothic masterpiece Sleepy Hollow is loved for its visual style, Johnny Depp's eccentric performance, and its terrifying headless horseman. Emmanuel Lubezki's ominous cinematography and meticulous set design adds to the atmospheric appeal. However, not everyone is a fan. Purists dislike the film's departure from Washington Irving's original story. Others find the plot predictable and the graphic violence unsettling. At the time of its release, critics argued that character development took a back seat to style. Additionally, dated CGI effects can be a drawback for some viewers.
But time has been kind to this 90s horror offering, which has since gone down as a cult classic. In the end, your enjoyment of Sleepy Hollow depends on your taste for Gothic aesthetics, bloody horror, and Johnny Depp's unique charm. It's a film that continues to captivate and haunt audiences to this day, albeit in different ways. I personally love it! Especially during spooky season.
OCT. 24 - IT (2017)
IT (2017) brought Stephen King's iconic novel to the big screen, and it did not disappoint. This cinematic adaptation successfully captured the essence of King's story while adding its own modern twist, resulting in a horror film that left me both terrified and nostalgic. One of the standout features of IT: Chapter One is its ability to balance pure horror with moments of heartwarming camaraderie and humor. The young ensemble cast, known as the "Losers' Club", delivered remarkable performances. Their chemistry made it easy for the audience to empathize with their characters. This balance of fear and emotion added depth to the story and made the horror elements even more impactful.
Bill Skarsgård's portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown was nothing short of spine-chilling. His performance gave another life to one of the most iconic horror villains in cinematic history while adding his own flair to the role. With a combination of eerie prosthetics and an uncanny ability to switch between playful and terrifying, Skarsgård's Pennywise is unforgettable and genuinely scary.
OCT. 25 - IT: Chapter Two (2019)
It: Chapter Two revisits the town of Derry, where Pennywise the Dancing Clown terrorizes once more, and brings an epic conclusion to the Stephen King adaptation. While not quite reaching the heights of its predecessor, this film still offers a lot of pop scares and terrifying imagery. One of the notable strengths of It: Chapter Two is its commitment to character development. The adult "Losers' Club" (portrayed by a talented ensemble cast) delves into the complex psyches of their characters. The performances, particularly by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, breathe life into the adult versions of the beloved Losers. Their struggles, traumas, and enduring friendship, are central to the story and create a deeper connection with the audience. This chapter fails to keep the balance of horror and heart that made the first installment so effective and at times it can feel a little long. But it ultimately ties up the narrative, providing a mostly fitting conclusion to the saga of Derry. Let's hope the upcoming prequel series lives up to quality of these two films.
OCT. 26 - Hereditary (2018)
Hereditary is a psychological horror masterpiece that delves into family dynamics, trauma, and eerie cultish horror. It forgoes jump scares, instead relying on an escalating sense of dread and an unsettling atmosphere, amplified by Toni Collette's exceptional performance. Even the sound effects and music were meticulously chosen to add an even deeper chill to your bones. I particularly enjoyed the director of photography's ability to constantly have hidden horrors in the back ground; unnoticeable to the casual viewer. While the complex story may be confusing on the outset, the spine-tingling climax makes it all worthwhile. That makes Hereditary a must-watch for those seeking a chilling, psychologically charged experience. Which also makes a great addition to our (soon-to-be-ending) Halloween marathon!
OCT. 27 - The Pyramid (2014)
The Pyramid takes horror to an unusual place: an ancient Egyptian pyramid; incorporating ancient Egyptian history and mythology in the storyline. For fans of Egyptian or even ancient themes, it offers an interesting perspective. The film excels in building suspense and tension as the characters navigate the labyrinthine chambers of the pyramid. The claustrophobic environment adds an extra layer of fear, making the audience feel the characters' desperation. However, it's not without its flaws. The plot could have been a little more engaging, and character development is majorly lacking. The choice to film from a mostly first-person POV can take its toll, especially considering the choice isn't consistent throughout. In the end, The Pyramid is worth a watch for those who appreciate a distinctive horror setting and are willing to embrace the film's ambitious attempt to fuse ancient history with the horror genre.
OCT. 28 - Trick 'R Treat (2007)
Trick 'R Treat is a horror anthology film thatweaves together multiple short stories, all revolving around the same Halloween night in the same town. This creates a unique and entertaining viewing experience. Director Michael Dougherty does many things well, but also allows for some shortcomings. The unrelenting nature of the film's gore elements occasionally overshadow the storytelling, leaving some viewers craving a subtler touch. Despite the graphic violence, the movie excels in connecting these seemingly disparate stories. All of the narratives are tied together by Halloween traditions and folklore, creating a sense of cohesion that underscores the holiday's darker aspects. Trick ‘R Treat can occasionally veer into the realm of campy horror, with some elements feeling more playful than genuinely terrifying. However, this blend of absurdity and terror can add a unique charm to the film, making it a suitable pick for those who enjoy a good scare with a side of Halloween cheese.
OCT. 29 - Fresh (2022)
Fresh has a brilliance that lies in its ability to pull the audience in from the very beginning. It's a slow burn, setting up the characters and the world they inhabit. Just when you think you've got a handle on the direction the story is headed, it takes a sharp and unexpected turn. Fresh introduces us to a premise that, on the surface, is nothing short of gruesome – but a masterful combination of humor and horror makes even cannibalism easy to digest. The film makes you chuckle at situations you'd never expect to, making you wonder how sick you really are.
Fresh has the ability to make you laugh in the face of the unimaginable. This is a testament to its storytelling prowess. It's an unconventional narrative that grips you with its peculiar characters and situations, leaving you eager to see how it all unfolds. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan's stellar performances add that extra layer of brilliance to an already intriguing story. So, if you're looking for a film that's fresh (in every sense of the word) this one should be on your watchlist.
OCT. 30 - The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring was inspired by real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and is one of the most authentic and genuinely scary movies of our time. The film draws from the real case files of the Warrens which connects real-life stories; making the supernatural elements feel all the more terrifying. The performances by leads Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are exceptional. Their on-screen chemistry adds depth to their characters, making the audience genuinely care about their well-being. Supporting cast members (particularly the child actors who play the Perron family) deliver convincing and emotionally charged performances which heightens the fear factor.
What sets The Conjuring apart is its ability to build tension methodically. It relies on old-school horror techniques; creating fear through what isn't shown, as much as what is seen. The film's slow approach keeps the audience in suspense, never quite revealing the malevolent force at play until it is absolutely necessary. Thus, it strikes a delicate balance between subtlety and jump scares.
The Conjuring has spawned an entire cinematic universe with sequels, spin-offs, and prequels expanding the lore of the Warrens' investigations. This successful franchise has kept the spirit of The Conjuring alive and continuously feeds the appetite of horror enthusiasts, making the entire series a great binge this Halloween season.
OCT. 31 - Sinister (2012)
Sinister has stood as the scariest movie I've seen for quite some time. Every time I watch it, a sense of dread sticks with me. It’s the perfect way to end a spooky marathon before hanging up the witch's hat for a while. From the moment the Oswalt family moves into their new home, a sense of dread creeps into every scene. The use of found footage and the gruesome home movies that are discovered add a unique and deeply disturbing layer to the narrative. The graphic violence, disturbing imagery, and child-oriented story can be too much for some viewers, but all of these things combine to make for a terrifying experience.
Ethan Hawke's performance is both compelling and sympathetic as he grapples with his obsession; with uncovering the truth and the effect it has on his family. His performance brings depth to a character driven to the brink of sanity. Sinister explores the darkness within both its characters and the audience, leaving you questioning the blurred lines between reality and the supernatural. This deadly combination of atmosphere, performance, and dread makes Sinister a must-watch addition to our Halloween marathon that will make your skin crawl. Just be prepared to sleep with the lights on.