I watched 27 movies in the month of October, 20 of which one could reasonably count as horror. That’s not quite 31 days of horror as the hashtag puts it, but I’d say it's pretty good. I really enjoyed doing it as well. There is something fun about trying to see a whole bunch of one genre in a given month. It also helped me watch a bunch of horror films I’d been putting off forever.
I liked it so much I think I’ll do another theme month, call it Noirvember. But first we have to get through this week's last chunk of horror.
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight
I didn’t quite get a full five horror films in this week so we are gonna make this count. This book contains two one-off (or it is two-off?) stories that find the Dark Knight living in the Victorian era. Call it, Steampunk Batman, which sounds amazing. Batman should work really well in that era, but the book doesn’t quite use it to the full. The first story inexplicably finds Jack the Ripper in Gotham. There are so many great villains in the Batman rogues' gallery I can’t fathom why they brought in the Ripper, but they did. It seems like such a wasted opportunity. The second story is better, but still not great and with yet another unknown villain. But it does include a battle on a zepplin which is pretty cool. Mike Mignola’s art is what saves the entire book. It is dark, expressive, and quite beautiful.
The Haunting of Hill House
Netflix’s modern adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic tale is a slow burn, but really well made and very atmospheric. It tracks the Crain family, flashing between the past and present as they confront the memories of Hill House, the home where they used to live and the horror that drove them out of it. I’m only a few episodes in, but so far it's really quite effectively scary.
The Perfume of the Lady in Black
This giallo is a hallucinogenic, at times incomprehensible mess. It is about a woman slowly losing her mind and how her neighbors and friends either cannot help her or actively seem to push her into madness. Or something. Honestly, I’m not all that sure what happens in the movie as it constantly blurs the line between reality and hallucinations. The first hour is actually rather dull without much happening and what does happen doesn’t always make sense. The last 30 minutes make it worth the watching with some arresting imagery and completely crazy action.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
For most of my horror-movie watching this month, I’ve sat alone in the dark after my daughter has gone to bed and my wife busied herself elsewhere. It was nice to watch a scary movie with the whole family for once. Tim Burton’s imaginative holiday classic follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, who grows tired of ghouls and goblins and scaring people all the time. When he stumbles into Christmastown, he becomes enamored with their shiny, happy way of life and tries to bring a bit of Christmas to Halloweentown. The claymation is delightfully creepy and the songs are great, but the story has never quite done if for me. But I’ve been singing “This Is Halloween” for a week straight.
Of course, I had to watch John Carpenter’s classic horror film on Halloween night. He didn’t invent the slasher film, but Halloween’s massive success created untold knock-offs filled with knife-wielding psychopaths slashing virginal beauties for the entirety of the 1980s. But unlike so many of those films, Halloween still holds up. Mostly because Carpenter is a real director who created fleshed-out characters making us actually care whether or not Jamie Lee Curtis’s character of Laurie Strode lived or died.
It was a cold, rainy Halloween night around these parts. We had planned to eat some hamburgers and hot dogs at my mom's and then do some trick or treating in a family-friendly neighborhood nearby. But the weather wasn’t having it. Luckily, my friend brought a huge bag of candy with her and we let the kids run around the house, ring the doorbell, and get great gobs of sugary sweets each time. This turned into a fun dance party with me playing Halloween favorites via Spotify. Of course, we landed on Michael Jackson’s "Thriller". Of course, I had to then watch the full, extended video. I have vivid memories of watching it on MTV way back when and then watching it again at the local video store. This was early days of home video, my local shop still had BetaMax tapes, but copies of Thriller were sold and rented in massive numbers.
My daughter absolutely loved it. I had forgotten what a fantastic little mini-movie it was. So instead of giving you something new and cool to leave on, I’m leaving tonights Five Things with a classic. Enjoy!