Horror Movie Marathon: Part One

Written by Film, Horror Movie Marathon

Kelly Stitzel embarks upon a month-long horror film marathon and she invites you along for the ride.

Every October for the past ten years, I have embarked upon a month-long horror movie marathon and up until last year, when I blogged about the marathon on my tumblr, I didn’t keep a record of the films I watched. I had planned on writing about the marathon on my tumblr this year as well, but I thought it might be fun to share what I’m watching with you guys, the lovely Popdose readers. So, here we are.

For the most part, I try to only watch movies I’ve never seen before during these marathons, though I do tend to stray a little bit towards the end to fit in some old favorites. Sometimes, the films I watch fit into a theme — last year, I watched a lot of haunted house movies — but most of the time, the theme winds up being “1980s slasher movies I’ve never seen.” In fact, the piece I wrote for Popdose a couple of years ago about my 13 Favorite ’80s Slasher Movies came out of one of these October horror-a-thons. I don’t really have much of a theme picked out this year, but I am thinking of doing mini-thons of films directed by Dario Argento and David Cronenberg.

I attempt to watch at least one horror film per day during my October horror-a-thon, but I almost always fail to achieve this goal, so I typically make up for weekdays I miss by watching multiple films over the weekend. So, this won’t be a daily column — more likely, you’ll see a couple of posts a week.

I’m really excited to bring my horror-a-thon to Popdose this year. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to start your own marathon.

1. Silent House (2012). Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross.

This is the English-language remake of the Uruguayan film La Casa Muda. Without having seen the original (it’s in my queue for this month’s marathon), I can’t make any comparisons between the two versions yet, though I know both were edited to appear as though they were filmed in one take — neither uses found footage, thank goodness — which I think is very effective for a horror film that takes place in one location with a very small cast. It’s directed by the same pair responsible for Open Water, and follows a young woman named Sarah (Olsen) as she is terrorized inside the dilapidated family lake house she is fixing up with her father and uncle. The action takes place in real time over a span of 88 minutes and is solely from Sarah’s perspective.

As the strange goings-on begin, the viewer is left to wonder if this is a haunted house movie, a home invasion horror flick, or something else entirely. I think it’s a little bit of all three. While I didn’t find it to be all that scary, it did have me on the edge of my seat at times. That is, until about 3/4 of the through when I came up with a theory as to what was going on and became increasingly disappointed when I was proven correct. What should’ve been a twist really wasn’t that much of one for me and that kind of ruined the last 1/4 of the film. While I understand what the filmmakers were going for here, I would’ve liked this film much more had the explanation for the terror Sarah was experiencing not been so clear-cut. I liked Olsen’s performance and I would love to see her make another horror movie — one that makes better use of her talents.

2. Deadly Blessing (1981). Directed by Wes Craven. Starring Sharon Stone, Maren Jensen, Susan Buckner, Ernest Borgnine, Lisa Hartman, Jeff East, Douglas Barr, Michael Berryman.

An early Wes Craven horror flick that features deranged Hittites, Patty Simcox from Grease, a very young Sharon Stone, and a cast of various ’70s and ’80s TV stars? I’m in.

As big a fan as I am of Craven’s work, I clearly haven’t seen as much of it as I thought I had because I somehow missed this one. Deadly Blessing is exactly the type of early ’80s, slasher-with-a-twist-ending, crazypants shit I love; it’s kind of Friday the 13th on a farm with a satanic twist. A review I read of it calls it a bridge between Craven’s early, subversive films and his later, more commercial films and I agree with that assessment. Hell, it features pretty much the exact same bathtub shot Craven uses in the first Nightmare on Elm Street film. This is by no means one of Craven’s best films, but it’s loads of fun and would be well worth your time if you like ridiculous slasher movies as much as I do.

3. Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992). Directed by Anthony Hickox. Starring Zach Galligan, Monika Schnarre, Martin Kemp, Bruce Campbell, Michael Des Barres, Marina Sirtis, David Carradine, Alexander Godunov, Maxwell Caufield.

I watched the first Waxwork, a camp horror/comedy favorite, during last year’s marathon and since the sequel is currently streaming on Netflix, I had to give it a go. I mean, look at that cast! Drew Barrymore even has a very, very small part as “Vampire Victim #1.” This movie is just as over-the-top and silly as the first one — actually, moreso. Not only does it poke fun at every genre of horror, but it pokes fun at itself, too. I’m a little bummed that Deborah Foreman didn’t return to play Sarah — and that Dolph Lundgren reportedly turned down the opportunity to play Frankenstein’s monster — but otherwise, I was generally pleased with how much fun this sequel is to watch. Also, it has a New Jack Swing theme song.