October. My second favorite month of the year. It encompasses all things scary. And while some people like Halloween to be silly or fun, I prefer it to be scary and terrifying. Below are a list of some films I recommend for watching this month to help put you in the terror mood. They are in no particular order.
1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Go with the original. It is a hallmark of American cinema, and it's documentary-style presentation still bothers people to this day. Until this film came along, total utter nihilism didn't really exist in American cinema.
2. Audition. Great date movie. Starts out as a romance and ends with torture. Lesson learned? Stay away from sweet girls. They'll stick needles in your eyes.
3. The Shining. Go with the Stanley Kubrick version. It's got a great cast, a wonderful soundtrack, and a director not known for horror, but who knows horror nonetheless. This film has become a part of our culture, and is referenced in television and in movies. If you haven't seen it, you can find out what the fuss is all about.
4. The Devil's Rejects. Not exactly a horror film, but terrifying in its own right. Rob Zombie did the film world proud with this one, and it holds up to this day.
5. Cannibal Holocaust. One of the more extreme movies out there. It is not for the easily disturbed, and its footage of animals really being slaughtered turns off many viewers, but if you can stomach it, you'll get an interesting look into the world of reality television before such a thing even existed at the level it does now. Great stuff and historical.
6. Suspiria. Dario Argento's masterpiece is less a film and more of a twisted nightmare. I'd recommend most of his work, but this one has the best Halloween feel. It is not my favorite of his, but it fits the season far better than The Stendhal Syndrome, which is my personal favorite.
7. Halloween. John Carpenter's finest film. It is brilliant, and was his answer to the Italian giallos. It works, too. It is not a bloodbath, and nor does it have to be. As far as slasher films go, it is nearly sublime.
8. Nosferatu. You have to go with the original, silent film again. Watch this at night with the lights out. Try not to get creeped out. I dare you.
9. High Tension. A wonderful mind fuck of a movie. It won't make sense on the first viewing, but it will the second time around. See if you can spot the Maniac homage.
10. Frontier(s). Like the first film on the list, but with Nazis. This is one more reason why the French are doing horror better than ourselves. Yes, it is brutal, but it is well worth it.
11. Marebito. A very subtle film that draws inspiration from all over the place, including (seemingly) Lovecraft. It is a movie that creeps along, but the concepts played with are interesting and well-executed.
12.Videodrome. A pirate TV channel of snuff? James Woods? The images you see on screen causing cancer? Blondie burning her breasts with a cigarette? What's not to like? A film that may actually work better now than it did when it first came out. David Cronenberg is often an acquired taste, but this one is easy to get into. It is, however, hard to escape from.
13. Eaten Alive. A silly movie by most standards, but man is it creepy. That country music that always plays on the radio. That backwoods hotel. It all adds up to this weird movie where the man-eating crocodile is the least scary thing in it.
14. Amateur Porn Star Killer. Art snuff. Dangerous. Illegal. Not for anyone with ADD. It will make you feel dirty after watching it, but it is creepy enough to make your Sunday evening memorable.
15. The Thing. For flat-out monster films, John Carpenter's take on things has few equals. The sense of paranoia that permeates this film is contagious. The blood testing scene is as tense as anything done today (if not moreso), and when you watch the monster scenes remember that this was in the days before CGI.
16. The Provider. You may have a hard time tracking down this short film. I have it on VHS, and I don't know how many copies are out there. This is another one to watch in the dark with the lights out. What's it about? I can't give anything away, but I will say to keep your eyes open, because what you see in one spot in the house will give you chills.
17. The Blair Witch Project. People love or hate this film. I love it. Growing up surrounded by woods gave me a healthy fear of them, which is exploited here to no end. No, it's not real. It's also not a disappointment, either.
18. Peeping Tom. This film is a film lover's film. It's rare that it gets on those magazine lists that come out this time of the year. It was ahead of its time, and it still remains timely. This is a great examination of voyeurism, snuff, and deep, dark sexual trauma, but done in the most mature of ways. People did not like this film when it first came out. It made them ... uncomfortable, though by today's standards it is almost quaint. That is, until you start to think about what you are seeing. Then it just messes with you.
19 The Great American Snuff Film. Another one that isn't easy to track down. There is plenty not to like in this film, but it's uneasy insanity brings to mind the first film on this list again. Its rough edges really just lends to the madness, too.
There are dozens more films I could include, and I know I left out some that I would recommend to anyone. I wanted the list to be a bit eclectic, with something for everyone. There will be differing opinions, and I understand that. I welcome comments and recommendations, too. If the response is good enough, I may do a second part to this list.
-Doug Brunell (America's Favorite Son)