Welcome to the seventh installment of the series where I rank the films scheduled during Shudder’s 61 Days of Halloween event. What ghoulish delights were on offer on the penultimate week of the event?
Halloween won’t officially be over for me (and my obligations) until I have watched every movie presented during Shudder’s 61 Days of Halloween. Now, sometimes life and other obligations get in the way, but am I going to let that stop me? Never!
It’s good to be back and covering the remaining films that Shudder provided.
#7 – The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection
Contestants who lost out on previous seasons of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula are reunited in a socially-distanced remote horror drag completion.
This is a unique case in the rankings as it is not so much a movie, like virtually everything else in these recaps, but that is not to say it is a bad thing either. The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula is a reality competition series, but in the extraordinary circumstances of COVID19 required some cleverness. This played like a combination of documentary and compressed season of the normal show. The special featured past contestants from previous seasons who were reunited for a new, three-round, socially distanced competition that featured documentary-style explorations of their lives, stories, and processes. The slower pace of the competition playing out as little intertwining documentary vignettes was a refreshing approach to the competition format and led to some very interesting storytelling.
But as a Halloween marathon inclusion did it work? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, this was a lot of fun, and even pretty touching in spots, but as a film, especially in a Halloween marathon, it doesn’t quite land. It is worth a watch, even if you haven’t really watched any of Dragula before. It’s like a spookier, gorier version of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
#6 – 32 Malasaña Street
Another Spanish-language offering from Shudder, 32 Malasaña Street follows a rural, financially-struggling family who moves to an apartment in 1972 Madrid where they are quickly confronted by a vengeful spirit with a fixation on the youngest child.
The film features solid performances all around, especially the youngest actor, Iván Renedo, who plays a menaced and traumatized child quite well. The film is at its best when the pressures of living in a haunted apartment with nowhere to go drives the story; the pain of being unable to pack up and move, or even forcing oneself to go to work when your child is missing. The film presents some interesting, tense, and sometimes scary ideas and scenes.
The movie oozes some style and promise, at least initially, but by the end, most of the praise I could extend to it was squandered. The film went from being a stylish, period story about a haunted family and economic horror to having some very problematic and regressive ideas concerning gender identity and disability. Even if the film creates some generally creepy moments and has wonderful period-accurate stylings, those issues drag it down. It’s a shame, too.
#5 – The Tomb of Ligeia
October was filled with an absolute abundance of Vincent Price and week to week his work has always satisfied. The Tomb of Ligeia also has him working with the legendary Roger Corman, again, adapting (loosely) more works of Edgar Allen Poe. The film follows a man, haunted by the death of his wife, who remarries only to find that his first wife has not given him up from the afterlife. Throw a black cat into the mix and you have a fun slice of 1960s British gothic horror.
This 1965 film was the last of what is known as the Corman-Poe cycle, a collection of eight films starting with 1960’s House of Usher. All but one of these films starred Vincent Price. The Tomb of Ligeia is probably one of the more complicated of the films in regards to the story, yet the film definitely feels a bit like the spark of earlier films had faded a bit. The cinematography and visuals are not nearly as sumptuous as The Masque of the Red Death and most of the film feels fairly small in scale, featuring a cast working on a handful of sets. Despite this, the final 15 or so minutes, Ligeia’s revenge, is hellish and exciting.
#4 – Metamorphosis
Metamorphosis follows a family who moves into a house where a mysterious neighbor may be influencing terrifying circumstances in their new home. Soon they must turn to their uncle, a priest with his own tragic history, to uncover the horror.
This film surprised me in how much I enjoyed it. I wasn’t expecting the film to be bad, of course. I was very impressed by the story being told and how polished the production was. The film felt very much like a Hollywood horror film but from a distinctly Korean point-of-view. It was also interesting to get a film so heavily invested in Christian theology from a non-American/European perspective. There is a sizable Christian population in Korea, so this shouldn’t be completely surprising, but it is a perspective not seen regularly in mainstream film, much less horror. It feels like a Korean extension of something like The Conjuring universe.
I am not exactly praising the film for skewing closer to western sensibilities, though. I was just shocked by how closely it executed certain conventions in a way that almost exceeded what I’d expect from a mainstream Hollywood possession film. Granted mainstream Hollywood isn’t a guarantee of quality when it comes to horror, but in this case, I’d say Metamorphosis is an example of what the best western-style possession movies can offer.
#3 – Joe Bob’s Halloween Hideaway
So, technically this was an additional two films with the Joe Bob Briggs dressing. I went ahead and did my usual review and recap of the festivities, so I’d direct you over to that at this point. While it was not my favorite installment of The Last Drive-In, it was still a ton of fun and definitely ranks among the highlights of the week. Go ahead and open the review in a new tap as you wrap up this week’s list.
#2 – Ginger Snaps
Ginger Snaps is a classic horror film now in many ways and a highlight in Canadian horror. The film still holds up after 20 years and still presents one of the most unique spins on the werewolf genre around. The film follows a pair of gothy, death-obsessed Canadian teenagers who must deal with the fact that one of them has recently been bitten by a werewolf that has been menacing their community.
Ginger Snaps is a movie that uses the werewolf metaphor to explore issues of identity in teenage girls has a lot to say and not always subtly. The film features Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle as the sisters, and who turn out masterful performances. It’s more of a cult film that most on the list this week but is probably pretty well known around horror fans, especially if you’re a Canadian horror fan. There is not much else to say beyond the fact that it is a damn good choice to include in the marathon. It comes highly recommended.
#1 – Host
Host is a Shudder original. It is about friends who gather over a Zoom meeting for a socially-distanced séance that has deadly and terrifying consequences.
No horror film has seemed so suited to its time as Host since The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or Scream. Is Host a perfect film? Not really, nor was Scream (I contend the Chain Saw is, however), but as a sign of the times and tapping into the collective zeitgeist, Host has become an instant classic. It is one of the most highly-praised releases of 2020 and really stood out among Shudder’s originals. It’s a terrifying movie for a terrifying time in America and plays with a modern aspect of life and twists it in some fairly ingenious ways.
It helps that the film is legitimately good outside of the initial gimmick. The characters as a whole are reasonably well-drawn as individuals, and the fact that the events are all taking place across a group Zoom session does not strain credulity any further than most horror films. If you can handle a bunch of teens going to a camp known for yearly murders you should easily handle a virtual séance that goes terribly wrong.
Drop by Haunted MTL next week for the final installment of this series, covering the last batch of films of the event.