We’re getting closer to Halloween, and all month my friend Rain has been doing her annual lineup of recommended horror movies and how to stream them on her Musty TV blog.
This year the twist is that she’s choosing movies she hasn’t seen before. Which means there are several interesting suggestions that I’d never even heard of; you’re likely to find some good recommendations on there so check it out!
I’m not sure how many I’ll check out, since I’ve always had a very low tolerance for horror movies, and that tolerance just keeps going down the older I get. It really sucks, because intellectually, I love horror, but it’s as if I physically can’t enjoy it.
In movies, horror is the genre with the most potential for being multi-layered: there can be a horror/suspense story that’s being experienced viscerally, while any social commentary or over-arching theme can be going on in a “separate channel.” It’s also got the most potential to be high-brow or low-brow, and you never know what you’re going to get. And filmmakers who really understand the genre, like Sam Raimi, can blur the line between low-brow and high-brow and combine them into one movie. Drag Me to Hell is still underrated.
I still think that’s why Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies work so well. He approached them as a horror movie maker doing an epic fantasy, instead of someone trying to make an epic fantasy story with a few scary moments. It’s most apparent in the scenes with the Nazgul and with Shelob, which feel as if they’re not holding anything back. See also: the transformation of Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.
But that seems to be as close as I can get. Several times over the years, I’ve pledged to go to a Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, or Knott’s Scary Farm, and the pandemic isn’t the only reason I’m not going this year. I know from time in hospitals earlier in the year that I can’t just intellectually turn off my reaction to seeing blood; it makes me feel light-headed and just on the verge of throwing up or passing out (or both).
I’ve tried playing Phasmaphobia, and I haven’t made it past the tutorial. I want to love it, since it’s about ghost hunters and solving puzzles in typical horror movie environments, and it seems really clever. But it’s too good at setting a mood and being extremely creepy. I wasn’t able to distance myself from it at all, and it was just like walking around my own house with voices whispering and hissing, and doors opening and closing — not like being in a fun haunted house, but that feeling when you’re woken up in a dark house in the middle of the night. Even if I do play this again, there’s no way that I’d play it in VR.
But back to the horror movie recommendations: I may see Chopping Mall, since it looks silly, and I’ve always wanted to see it. I could also probably handle Host and Lake Mungo, since video adds a layer of detachment that I can always handle. I’ve already seen Hello, Mary Lou: Prom Night 2, and that just made me a little sad, because it feels like they were going for a self-aware tone and just not pulling it off.