October Horror is a special feature here on Returning Videotapes, where I aim to watch new to me horror movies during the month of October. This challenge can also include horror tv shows and books, which you’ll see a bit of in the list below. I couldn’t cross all the classics I set out to watch this month, but I’m walking away with a few great findings from this project.
Top 5 Findings From October Horror1>
American Horror Story
Not originally a part of this project, this FX horror series demanded its place in my Halloween night when no other movie on the list caught my eye. Not being in the mood for gory classics, I turned to American Horror Story for my traditional Halloween night of nightmares, and I was not disappointed.
I’m only halfway through the season, but already loving it. Haunted houses are one of my favourite horror themes – add multiple murders to the mix and I’m set – and the references to other movies/famous homicides are a treat. The main actors are amazing (especially Jessica Lange and Denis O’Hare, how awesome) and the same goes for the guest stars – Kate Mara, Teddy Sears, Adina Porter… A final note for the quality of the music used, from classic soundtracks to some pretty interesting tunes that I already saved on Spotify!
Peeping Tom, 1960
Sometimes it’s hard to separate thrillers from horror, as a lot of nightmare-inducing flicks don’t feature supernatural beings, malicious monsters or gory murder sequences. Some dive into the horrors of humanity, the evil within us all. And the best of those paint a three-dimensional portrait of its villains, equally tearing us apart with the good and bad in them.
Peeping Tom is one of those films, in addition to putting its audience on the stand for the same crimes the movie’s serial killer commits. He revels in seeing other people being scared to death, and isn’t that what we’ve been doing for decades while watching these films? Call it entertainment and fiction, but the morbidity is still there.
The Night of The Hunter, 1955
It’s one of the – if not the – most beautiful black and white films I’ve ever seen, but the beauty ends right there, for everything else is as dark and as eerie as they come. There are endless great shots, but this is the one that struck me the most, and the most horror-ish of all.
Apart from how it looks, it really is Robert Mitchum who stands out as a murderous preacher. Can you image having a man who wants to kill you outside your window in the middle of night, singing Leaning on the Everlasting Arms in a deep, calm voice? Is there anything more terrifying than that?
The religious speeches, the creepy singing from both children and Mitchum, the evocative visuals… it all makes for a very atmospheric movie that I will hardly forget. What prevented me from giving it a full five star rating were the finale minutes, that I found rather off putting. If you’ve seen The Night of the Hunter, what do you make of that ending?
Rosemary’s Baby, 1968
I’ve seen the miniseries, from which I gathered that despite its flaws, the story that supported it was very interesting. Besides haunted houses and spirits, another type of horror theme that I usually enjoy is the religious kind – like The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (two of my all-time favourites), and The Omen (another one on my list) – so I’m all for satanic cults and devil children, so to speak.
But to also have the fear that your husband is involved and against you is just perfect. I love it when the victim is trapped, and no one has ever been as trapped as Rosemary. Everyone really is out to get her, and every attempt to escape is a failed one. It’s frustrating and shocking. And that ending.
Arguably the biggest horror film I had never seen, Alien was the one that most surprised me. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of this franchise, but honestly, how could I say that without having seen the movie that started it? Idiot. So I did, but not for the reasons you might expect. This 70s cult film wasn’t even in the list until, well, I saw the videogame Alien: Isolation for the PS4 and thought it looked really cool. Figured I should watch it before playing, right? And I’m so glad I did.
Sure it stills annoys me that they make the same stupid mistake of touching and looking too close at potentially dangerous alien beings they know nothing about, but I’m willing to let that go for the sake of the genre and because everything else is brilliant. In fact, it’s next to perfect. It’s creative, atmospheric, with plenty of tension and just enough gore. Weaver felt as iconic as I hoped, so what most surprised me were the visuals – what a gorgeous film.