I’m a huge horror fan as you all know. I love the gore, the violence, the macabre and all things that go bump in the night. I’ve watched a shit load of horror movies throughout the years, but there is still so much I haven’t seen. On October 31st, I set out to watch 31 hours of horror movies I’ve never seen before. This is my story.
Twenty-two movies. Crazy you say? Yes. Awesome you say? Yes. These movies ranged in every aspect possible– from the year it was filmed, to the horror sub-genre, to the quality– everything was different. Thanks to streaming services like Shudder and Netflix, it made the selection process rather painless. I started with a pool of about 31 movies and dwindled down the selection to 1,860 minutes, or the much cooler looking 31 hours. With my collection of random horror flicks in hand, I began this arduous journey.
The marathon unfortunately kicked off tragically with WNUF Halloween Special. The flick was a cheap parody of an 80’s TV news broadcast. The concept was neat. The execution was lacking, but “A” for effort, I guess. I thought the appearance of a dead cat might have begun to spice things up a bit, but that was wishful thinking. Lucky for me, the next flick on the list made up for that terrible start. The Battery was a pleasant surprise. I’d heard of the movie a while back, but never got around to checking it out. Thank Satan I finally did though. The story of a couple of baseball players trying to survive each other while trying to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse was just heart-warming. The ending to that movie was totally awesome. This flick is tame in comparison to the next offering, the retro slasher flick, Pieces. Right off the bat you get this kid hacking his mother up into pieces. This dude had issues from the start. He was hacking off pieces in accordance with his favorite childhood puzzle, a nude pinup. The movie had a slew of kills and dismemberments that would make Jason blush. Pieces can easily be summed up with a great line from a Misfits track called “Skulls”: “Hack the heads off little girls and put ‘em on my wall!” There was also a pretty great mix of 70’s era police action and 80’s camp, plus an ending that definitely had me laughing out loud. Great conclusion to the fifth hour of my marathon.
The sixth hour got pretty grim for me. I made myself watch Two Thousand Maniacs for some reason. Director Herschell Gordon Lewis, also known as the Godfather of Gore, passed away earlier this year so I figured, why not? He’s been credited in making the “Splatter” sub-genre of horror. Splatter is pretty much what it sounds like– excessive blood and gore with no substance behind it. I passed out during this piece of crap. It was definitely a good time to rest my brain. I remember watching the remake of this movie, and even that was subpar. This is one of those occasions where crap breeds crap unfortunately. It was time to get back into the present and leave the old-school horror behind– it hadn’t impressed me thus far. I decided to check out Nina Forever as a change of pace. This turned out to be a pretty cool movie, and just what I needed after my time warp to the ‘60’s and ‘80s. The movie had a pretty somber ending, which is always welcome in horror. The visuals and the blood were pretty awesome. It’s actually worth seeing for that reason alone. Eight and a half hours into this marathon and I’m making myself watch another old-school flick for some reason, Kill Baby Kill. I watched it because it’s one of Mario Bava’s essential films, so fuck it, why not give it a whirl– and I ended up passing out again. My wife enjoyed the movie at least. I’m starting to realize that old movies don’t really hold my attention, no matter the popularity of the movie.
Heading into the conclusion of the ninth hour, I got the 1989 horror comedy Parents. This really was one of the highlights of my first ten hours. The story of a kid who’s trying to figure out if his parents are cannibals or not– this is the stuff good horror movies are made of. The fear and curiosity of a little boy, really makes the movie stand out. The flick brings a sense of nostalgia, like The Goonies in a sense, where it made you feel like you were a child again. Plus, Randy Quaid was fucking solid in this movie. Next up, was what I thought was going to be another terrible 80’s parody like WNUF, but fortunately for me Lake Nowhere wasn’t a piece of shit. Back to the 80’s spoof thing, I don’t get it. I appreciate it for what it’s worth, but still, I don’t get it. It’s one thing to have the movie be set in the 80’s, but to go out and pretend you’re back in that era filmmaking wise is a mistake. The Netflix show Stranger Things is a perfect example of how to do retro the right way, but anyways, back to Lake Nowhere. At just under 60 minutes, this horror movie was concise and straight to the point. It’s brutal and the characters turn out to be pretty solid. I highly recommend this one, as I was super impressed by it. From an 80’s spoof to an actual shit show of an 80’s horror flick, I had the awesome pleasure checking out Body Melt. From my past experience, you can’t go too wrong with an Australian horror flick. Awesome practical effects are what good horror movies are made of, and this one in particular had some gnarly bodily deconstruction scenes: Other than that, the story was pretty stupid.
The conclusion of hour number thirteen, brought me the first French horror flick of the marathon, In Their Sleep. I’m a huge fan of French horror movies– they’re ultra-violent, with good characters and acting, as well as some strong story-telling. In Their Sleep was no different. I’m not going to get into it too much, but this movie had a great twist, coupled together with a bleak French horror ending, and this one was one of my favorites from this marathon. Again, I cannot say enough about the French horror scene. Some of my favorite horror movies hail from France: Inside, Martyrs, High Tension, The Horde are just some of the most memorable movies I’ve ever seen. Anyways, that’s a different article for a different day. Next up on the list is Cherry Tree. So this girl is making a deal with a witch to save her father, but the twist is, in order for the witch to do her thing, she wants this chick to have a baby in the name of a satanic witch cult. Lovely. This flick gets pretty fierce in terms of memorable visuals– it reminds me a tiny bit of Hellraiser, in terms of the effects. Fun movie, quite entertaining. The last movie in this block was painful to watch. It was a crap B-movie called Creep Van. What a mistake. Ugh, why do I put myself through these indie horror flicks? I guess it’s the fiend in me. Just for the record, there is a difference between B-movie and low-budget, indie horror. B-movies set out to make a visually low quality product, while a low-budget movie will try and stylize as best possible, because of what they’re working with.
From a contemporary B-movie to an older B-movie, the end of the 17th hour brought the start of Microwave Massacre. First off, the movie wastes its title. Only one person dies by way of microwave, and that one was disappointing. Other than that, this movie is off the wall. We get a death by loaf of bread, and plenty of flesh eating fun. I did not mind this movie one bit, I do wish more people had expired via microwave, like the title says. I also saw an odd scene, where our killer’s neighbor is gardening with a vibrator– classic B-movie shenanigans. Next up is another very regrettable hour, with another Herschell Gordon Lewis disaster, Bloodfeast. Better and shorter than Two Thousand Maniacs, this one actually tries to do something unique. It concentrates on Egyptian mythos and almost pulls it off, except for the main antagonist, which is just a mess. This one was short, but it still managed to put me to sleep– what a waste. Next up was The Toolbox Murders. This one was actually pretty good. The gore was good, and the killings turn out to be part of some crazy paternal feelings the killer has. It reminded me a lot of Don’t Breathe– the need to keep one of the victims as a daughter was nuts.
I decide to stop fucking around with old, dated horror and jump into the near present with Crawlspace. Just because we’re back to the future does not mean there is going to be quality though. This movie is a great example of that. The story is there, but the flick lacks execution towards the end when shit really hits the fan. The inclusion of some very questionable CGI also adds to the weak ending of this movie, but it’s still better than Bloodfeast and Two Thousand Maniacs combined. The 23rd hour of this freakish marathon brings us the Korean flick Death Bell. A group of students start getting picked off, one by one, by some unknown force. The students make it seem like there’s a vengeful ghost involved, and even the audience is thinking vengeful ghost all the way until the plot starts to unravel. This flick was a breath of fresh air. Several hours had passed without any quality films. This one was veering down that road, but it fortunately made a left turn and surprised the fuck out of me. To conclude this block of flicks, I checked out the supposed “cult hit” Basket Case. Wow, what garbage. There is a sad story in there about the twins and their connection and the breaking of that bond, but that’s about it.
As we head into hour 25, I think of all the crap I had forced myself to watch. Only a true horror fan, a true savage, a real fiend, would put themselves through this grueling marathon full of little hits and many misses. This next one is a definite hit. Hailing from Indonesia, Macabre was very reminiscent of a French ultra-violence. This was by far the best movie I saw during this marathon. The movie spilled into the 26th hour which was absolutely merciless. From the kills, to the gore, to the story, to the characters and acting– this movie had it all. The final act of this movie was so fucking good, I’d watch this one again in a heartbeat. This was truly one of the best horror films I’ve seen in recent memory. Hour 27, showcases one of director Adam Wingard’s earliest movies, A Horrible Way to Die. This was a slow-burn of a thriller. It views more like a drama than horror/thriller honestly, but it’s one of the best I’ve seen, which showcases why the duo of Wingard and Barrett are a force to be reckoned with in the horror industry. The acting in this flick is on point, and the ending? Wow, the ending. Fucking great. You will not be disappointed. It’s worth sitting through all the character building, because the payoff is just freaking sweet.
The final three hours of this horror marathon were quite interesting to say the least. During hour 28, I make myself watch the taboo Nekromantik. I was pretty hyped about this one thinking it would be some insane, A Serbian Film type shit. Wrong. Instead what I got was a slice of pure German garbage. The gnarliest thing I witnessed was the actual sex scene with the gooey, decrepit corpse. That was it. This movie was terrible and for a generation like mine, where we’ve been desensitized by Ebaumsworld and Rotten.com, this “taboo” film is nothing more than B-movie trash. Next: The final film of the 31 hour horror movie marathon did a good job in summing up my viewing experience– weird but oddly satisfying. The Rambler was filled with oddities and some pretty cool exploding heads caused by an experimental dream machine: Yeah, I know– exactly, weird shit. The story of a hitchhiker and the atrocities he sees on the road to the west coast was a great bookend to this crazy marathon. A strong lead character, supported by some weirdos and violence made this flick quite memorable.
Thirty-one fucking hours. Wow, that’s quite the accomplishment. It was a crazy journey. I laughed, I cringed, I napped. I’ve learned that I am not a fan of old-school horror. I appreciate the classics for what they’re worth and what they’ve brought to the horror table. The grandfathers of gore and violence must be shown respect for their accomplishments, but it does not mean I have to like their movies. I enjoy contemporary practical effects and film making methods, it just looks fucking good. I also learned for next year’s marathon to stick with the contemporary films. None of this 60’s,70’s bullshit. I enjoy horror from the 80’s on up and there is nothing wrong with that. One of my all-time favorite horror films is Frankenstein, but even for that classic gem, it took me a couple watches before I could get through the film, and I’m glad I did– but it goes to show, the classics and the black and white put me to sleep. Modern horror is what makes my blood pump. The French ultra-violence, the story telling of Wingard and Barret, Michael Myers– this is the stuff my nightmares are made of. //Arturo Padilla