Monday, September 22, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

October is drawing near, and with it comes an inevitable rush of horror films. In terms of what comes out in theaters, I usually dread this time of year. Most releases will likely be bullshit remakes, and the ones that aren't will probably be bullshit ripoffs. (Excuse my cynicism here, but I feel I've earned it.) Yet I can't deny that I do get a certain itch to indulge in the lower depths of my cinematic pleasure around Halloween. While I may be reluctant to drop upwards of ten bucks on a shitty horror movie, I am more than willing to let them trickle in all month via Netflix. In fact, in years past I've been proud to take part in a certain noble tradition, started originally (I think) by my friend Good Ben, known simply as "The Month of Terror."

The idea is this: during October, the Month of Terror participants will watch at least one horror film per day.

This sounds easy enough, and it sometimes is. But there are no exceptions. Have a paper due the next day? Fuck you. Have to wake up at 6AM to go to work? Fuck you. Friends and relatives in town? Fuck you. Girlfriend/boyfriend doesn't like horror films? Fuck you. No horror movies on hand? Fuck you.

In fact, to accomplish a totally successful Month of Terror takes a certain amount of planning and forethought. It usually requires a Netflix queue, an account at a handful of video stores, one or more friends with a large horror collection (if you don't have one yourself), and possibly a subscription to some movie channels. The logistics of having a new horror film on hand at any given time can be tricky, especially when the mail is involved. It may even be wise to upgrade to the 5-at-a-time Netflix plan for the month. (I think this actually saves money in the long run.) Then of course one must decide on the movies themselves. Usually it's a good idea to think at least a week in advance, and to have a selection of standby titles ready in case of unforeseen disaster. (It occurs to me that Netflix's "watch now" feature will be endlessly useful in this regard.)

Of course there are various strategies for success. Sequels help fill out the month, for instance. If you watch all the Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Hellraiser movies, you're basically home free. This kind of thing is discouraged, though. While there's no official Month of Terror "rule" against this, it does go against the spirit of inspiration the month of October is supposed to instill in a self-respecting horror buff. Sequels are okay, sure, but it's generally best to branch out further if at all possible. Use your imagination.

It should be noted that there's no rule against watching movies you've seen in the past, although counting a movie more than once for that particular month is understandably frowned upon. And besides, the Month of Terror is a perfect opportunity to catch up on all those horror flicks you don't otherwise get a chance to see. When else are you going to sit down specifically to watch Phantasm III, or April Fool's Day? And what about the horror movies that you don't really want to go out of your way for, but are mildly curious about? I'm talking about things like Cabin Fever here. Or the newest Saw or Hostel or whatever else is lying around in the horror section of your local video hole. Sure you wouldn't normally be interested, but October is a month of equality for horror films. If it sucks, you've got another one to watch tomorrow.

Watching more than one movie per day is allowed, and is actually encouraged. Watch as many as you can stand! Just know that this doesn't count for multiple days. Remember, at least one every day. So you can't, for instance, have a double feature and skip the next day. That's cheating. And now that I think of it, I should also mention something about the definition of a "day." Generally for the Month of Terror, a day is defined as the span of time between when you wake up and when you go to sleep. Time isn't necessarily relevant. So if you watch one movie at 10PM, then another at 1AM, they're both still technically in the same "day." The converse is also true: if you watch a movie at 1AM, go to bed, then watch another movie the following afternoon, it counts as separate days. The date on the calendar was the same, yes, but that doesn't matter.

So I'm sure you get the picture by now. And really, the most important thing is to get out there and watch some goddam scary movies. A properly executed Month of Terror can even help you enjoy the worthless piles that will be released in the theater during the coming weeks. It's win-win! Just make sure to keep from blowing your horrific wad too early, because ideally the whole thing should culminate on Halloween itself, with a glorious (drunken?) hurrah. Typically this calls for marathons, parties, violence, orgies, &c. Make it count. It only happens once a year.

There's one danger I should definitely mention: after an entire month of horror flick glory, it can be tricky to stop. In all seriousness, the horror binge is a habit-forming substance. You may find your days feeling empty without perpetual assaults of tits, blood, and torture. The best advice I can give for the newfound horror addict is to bring yourself down slowly. Maybe cut down to one movie every other day, or just a couple a week. My own Months of Terror have been known to stretch well past Christmas and into the new year, though I have yet to hear of one lasting until the following season. Should this be the next challenge?


Make it happen.

Also, if anybody out there feels like it, I don't think a Month of Terror has been properly documented yet. You've got a blog? Keep us updated! What movies are you planning to watch? When? What kind of marathons do you have planned? Any Month of Terror related events? What's your Halloween movie going to be? Reviews of little-known films that the rest of us should know about? Maybe even use your blog to track down other horror addicts in your area for citywide murderfests. The possibilities are endless. I'll try to document my run as much as possible, but between work and school I'll have to do my best just to watch the movies, much less write about them. But we'll see...

Happy October!


elgringo said...

As first I thought "this guy's full of shit, no one's gonna do this." Then I thought, "No wait, I'm going to do this!"

Then I thought "I'm gonna ask Whitney if she's up for watching these with me."

I'll get back to you.


Keith said...

Yeah! Do it!

I can say firsthand that it helps to build a kind of support group around the Month of Terror. Every once in a while everybody has a day where they just don't feel up to another horror movie. Then it's up to the other person(s) to bully them until they helplessly submit.

Peer pressure, as usual, comes to the rescue.

whitney said...

I'm so entirely, completely, fully happy right now. What an amazing month this will be.

Can I count Salo as one of my horror movies?

Keith said...

I would be personally offended if you didn't count Salò as one of your horror movies.

tommy salami said...

Count me in. Though on my post I said 30. Because I am dumb and forgot there are 31 days in October :)
Best bet is to do movie marathons a few days a week and space the reviews out. Some nights you just don't have time to watch a movie.

elgringo said...

Um, Tommy Salami, I believe the correct response to your "some nights you just don't have time to watch a movie" comment is: Fuck you.

Did I get that right, Keith?

Anyway, we just finished our Oct. 1st film. Ingmar Bergman's 'The Virgin Spring.' Now I know where Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave got their plotlines.

Keith said...

Good first choice! Max Von Sydow is so wacky in that movie. And the story's apparently based on some ancient Swedish something-or-other... I guess the rape revenge story is a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme....

Uh, sorry. Anyway, I watched Peeping Tom for my first night, which was really fun.

And yes Scott, you are correct. The proper response to any Month of Terror participant who doesn't have time for a movie is, more or less, an enthusiastic "fuck you!" That's what makes it so much fun!

elgringo said...

Ah, Peeping Tom is on my list! Glad to hear it doesn't disappoint.

Tonight was Poltergeist. Much better than I remembered. It screams "Steven Spielberg" and not so much "Tobe Hooper" but I'll be damned if that clown doll didn't have me jump a little.

elgringo said...

Checking in on Day Three.

The film: Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors

This is the best of the Freddy series. Plus, Dokken is underrated. I'm talking Great White underrated.

Keith said...

There are so many things I love about Dream Warriors, but I think what I love most of all is my man Larry Fishburne. I can't deny it, nor would I even try.

Tonight I caught Let the Right One In at the Dead Channels fest, which turned out to be really good. Surprising, even. Check it out if you get the chance. (That goes for everyone.)

elgringo said...

I've read so many good things about Let the Right One In. I'll catch it the split second it comes to MormonLand.

Let's see...
Day Four: The Innocents (later remade into The Others)
Day Five: Poltergeist II
Day Six: Poltergeist III (Whitney rented the II/III pack from Blockbuster)
Day Seven: Pulse (orig. Japanese version)

I also watched Teeth today which turned out not to be a horror movie like I thought it was. Worth watching if vagina dentata is your thing.

Keith said...

I wasn't really a huge fan of Teeth... I guess I expected something more from what I'd heard about it.

Pulse, on the other hand, surprised me in a good way. I guess I should expect that from Kiyoshi Kurosawa by now.

Have any of you guys come across this or this? Apparently this idea was not as unique as I had imagined. Oh well... let the Month of Terror rage on!

elgringo said...

Day Eight: John Carpenter's Vampires
Day Nine: Cube
Day Ten: Dead Zone
Ten Eleven: Frankenhooker

First off, those a-holes are thieves! This was your idea and they deserve to die and I hope they burn in hell!

Next, Cube is amazing, in case you didn't know. Also, Frankenhooker was 100x better than I could have possibly hoped. All my boyhood dreams came true with this one!

elgringo said...

So what have you been watching? Haven't missed any days have you?

Whitney had never seen The Lost Boys...silly that's tonight's movie.

elgringo said...

If you're a slasher fan, I'd suggest Silent Night, Deadly Night (filmed in Utah). It's about a little boy who sees his family murdered by a guy dressed as Santa then grows up to go on a rampage one winter's eve.

Keith said...

I immediately bumped Frankenhooker to the top of my queue. But it's at "very long wait!" What the hell, universe?!

Oh, and I was going to say something about how crazy it is that Whitney's never seen Lost Boys, but then I realized that until a couple of nights ago, I had never seen They Live. Talk about a "where has this movie been all my life" experience... I officially never have the right to criticize another person for not having seen something essential. Because I am an idiot. An idiot who hadn't seen They Live.

But miss any days? Shit, son. That's a silly question. October only comes once a year, and I give the Month of Terror an unhealthy amount of priority in my life.

elgringo said...

Here's the first twenty-two days (mostly for my records):

The Virgin Spring
Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors
The Innocents
Poltergeist II
Poltergeist III
John Carpenter's Vampires
Dead Zone
The Lost Boys
Silent Night, Deadly Night
The Exorcist
The Howling
Someone's Watching Me
Sleepy Hollow
In the Mouth of Madness
The Amityville Horror
Deliver Us from Evil (A documentary on Catholic priests and the children they loved. If that's not horror, I don't know what is.)
Twilight Zone: The Movie

elgringo said...

Whit and I just watched They Live for the first time. You're completely right. Fuckin' phenomenal. That five minute fistfight. Those aliens. Rowdy Roddy!

Frankenhooker said "Very Long Wait" on the top of my queue but it ended up getting sent really quickly. Within a week...maybe two. Keep it at the top, it's worth the wait.

Keith said...

Frankenhooker is still at the top of my queue, but motherfucking Stella Dallas is what got sent.

Netflix can be such a dick.

elgringo said...

Dead and Buried
Nightmare on Elm Street
Gut Pile (Mine) Psycho (Whitney's)
Shaun of the Dead
The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Keith, if you haven't seen Dead and Buried, check it out soon. Whitney got it from Netflix, I hadn't ever heard of it before. Evil Grandpa Joe, the Undead, and awesome scenes of violence added by producers and financiers who actually improved the movie quite a lot.

elgringo said...

Yesterday was Martin
Today will probably be The Ghost & Mr. Chicken
Tomorrow will be Halloween

R.I.P. Month of Terror

Keith said...

Bless you sir, for your tireless Month of Terror efforts.

Once I can pry this semester's dick out of my mouth I'll probably type up a quick M.o.T. wrap-up on my end, but you've done a far superior job than I, blog-wise.

It's been a great month!