We’re now at week two of the 61 Days of Halloween through Shudder and we have seven movies to rank. I don’t think my rankings will be too controversial, but we’ll see! This is our first full week of Halloween goodness, so that means seven films. Twitter threads are presented alongside each film.
Let’s get spooky!
#7 – Countess Dracula
I love Hammer horror films. They practically serenade my more gothy-tendencies and the production values, costuming, and candy-red blood just evoke such positive feelings within me. Hammer’s films are like a kind of comfort food, where even if the offering isn’t among their best, you still get something out of it.
Countess Dracula is fun. There’s blood, breasts, and some solid acting. Hammer also manages to bring ridiculously beautiful women to the screen. The story is pretty much a loose adaptation of the lore around Elizabeth Báthory. Throw in a narrative revolving around inheritance and courtly scheming and you end up with a fun little romp for an hour or two. It’s fine, but not among the best the studio has produced.
#6 – Sweet Sweet Lonely Girl
I am generally a fan of slow burn horror. The tension builds agonizingly until everything falls apart, but my main concern with Sweet Sweet Lonely Girl is twofold. One, the film is slow, until it suddenly, jarringly is not. It takes a long period of time for the general unease to give way to the supernatural and when the supernatural does arrive, it’s more confusing than horrifying. Secondly, if you miss a key detail within the first five minutes of the film then you wind up confused by the ending.
It’s a moody, LGBTQ+ period piece, but isn’t among the best exclusives of the service. Stick to Ty West’s The House of the Devil for that 1970s/1980s throwback aesthetic with modern storytelling.
#5 – Southbound
Southbound is a fun anthology of sorts of different stories that bleed into one another. I believe at one point I described it as a “Tex-Mex Silent Hill” which is an assessment I will stand by.
It is all very solid stuff and a ton of fun. A couple of the stories are quite compelling. Not all of them are fantastic pieces but they all feel fairly well connected through the location. Just what is the place? Who knows, maybe it’s Hell (as seen in one of the segments) or maybe it’s more like the Bermuda Triangle? It really doesn’t matter in the end. It is just a pretty fun ride the whole way through.
#4 – Fade to Black
Fade to Black might be a bit of a mixed bag for a number of viewers. It’s definitely less a horror film than a psychological thriller, but those genres are kissing-cousins anyway, so what does that matter in the long run? Fade To Black follows a movie-obsessed nerd who, after being bullied and stood up too many times, ends up snapping and engaging in a series of destructive acts, all themed around a variety of movies. His crimes eventually escalate to murder, as you’d expect. His obsession with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike, however, presents some of the more disturbing elements of his crime spree.
It’s basically a good version of Joker.
#3 – Noroi: The Curse
“J-Horror found footage” is either something you are instantly intrigued by or you are more than willing to pass up. I am of the former and this was my first experience with Noroi. It’s a great film, not just as a found-footage movie, but because it exudes that sort of weirdness that makes for the best J-Horror by latching onto certain ideas and images and running with them. Noroi is wonderfully paced, presents some creepy lore, but more importantly uses found footage in such a way that it feels very authentic, as though you are watching something illicit and being exposed to a darker world than you know.
This one comes highly recommended.
#2 – Tourist Trap
I love Tourist Trap. It is a dumb film in the best way possible and if I see it is playing anywhere (which seems to be increasingly frequently these days) I tune in. It’s just too much fun.
Look, the movie makes no sense. It’s not very scary, the gore is virtually absent and the killer is so patently ridiculous you’d be more prone to use the film as an example of what not to do. Yet something about it just works. I have been obsessed with it since I saw it back during the first Joe Bob Briggs revival on Shudder.
I think so much of it comes from the fact that journeyman Chuck Connors just buys into the utter ridiculousness of the concept and runs with it. It’s such a bizarre little film and watching it for the 10th time was still a highlight of the week for me.
#1 – The Changeling
This is one of my favorite horror films of all time and of course it would rank as #1 for the week. It was inevitable, really. The Changeling is a classic ghost story starting George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere. The movie combines tragic loss, great ghost story tropes, and political intrigue is such a flawless way that I honestly feel a remake could work out very well because of the bones of what makes this movie are so goddamn strong. I don’t think it is a movie that should be remade, of course, but I am just saying that it is so good that a remake would probably be good just because it can borrow so heavily from its source.
That being said, I can’t believe I was such a jackass and misspelled ghost in the tweet. Sigh.
I’ll be sticking with Shudder’s recommendations for week three, which are the following:
So, are you all enjoying the ride so far? What movies are you watching week to week to bring in the season?