Some things just go together: peanut butter & chocolate, pretzels & beer, peanut butter & beer.... What I am trying to say is that as the weather gets cooler, the days get shorter, and the trees get naked, that’s the time when scary movies seem like a natural watch. Is our love of #ScaryMovieMonth merely due to the coming of Halloween, or is it an instinctual “caveman reflex” to consider our own mortalities on the eve of another crushing winter that we just might not survive?
It could be that we simply thrill to being in some sort of “invisible competition” with others at F This Movie! to post more seven-word reviews this month than anyone else. Thanks in part to those reviews—and my desire to post more of them myself—this SMM, I have seen some outstanding horror offerings that were new to me. I recommend the following with all of my little black heart.
One Cut of the Dead
offers the legal goods and, let me tell you, this is one of this year’s MUST WATCH horror films. The plot is simple: a film crew makes a zombie movie in an abandoned warehouse and is beset by real zombies. OR ARE THEY? Seemingly a one-extended-take, shot-on-video quickie from Japan, the film proceeds to open like a puzzle box, revealing layer after layer of the mayhem inherent in its creation. The small details here are so well observed that it becomes a remake of François Truffaut’s Day For Night, only with zombies. One Cut of the Dead is so endlessly clever and has so much to say about any creative endeavor, it just knocked me on my intellectual ass. Be sure to stay through the credits to discover just how complicated the production actually was. “So… do you have any hobbies?”
And Soon the Darkness (1970)
L’Avventura, but turns it into a giant cat and mouse game between the filmmakers and the audience. Pamela Franklin and Michele Dotrice play English girls on a cycling vacation in France. They quarrel and Dotrice goes missing. Who-dunit? What-dunit? Where-wasitdunit? This film seems designed to provide a stripped-down murder mystery for viewers who think they have seen it all. It’s deliberately slow and low-key, but watch how director Robert Fuest ramps up the tension using the plainest techniques. I particularly like how he uses the locals’ inability to speak English as an off-putting distancing device. What other film features Pamela Franklin shouting, “Hello! Where are you?” to a character that SHE KNOWS IS DEAF?
Creepshow on Shudder
If your old favorites somehow aren’t doing it for you during October this year (Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein AGAIN?!) check out these new and/or obscure horrors. I can’t say that you will be glad that you did… because you will be terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.
Happy Scary Movie Month!