There’s a famous line from John Carpenter’s They Live: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble gum.” That’s exactly what I did to the third annual 31 Horror Films in 31 Days Challenge.
Previous Octobers I suffered the tortures of the damned, with the final days spent drooling in front of the TV as indescribable horror after indescribable horror flashed before my bloodshot eyes, so determined was I to meet my queasy quota. But not this year. This year I stabbed this monster in the heart with a crucifix-laden stake made of pure silver. (Just covering my bases.)
Perhaps it was the element of competition that drove me. After I announced this year’s contest Twitter, two courageous men answered the call. Writer Adam Jahnke was already doing something similar with Oktoberfest, and he roped my contest into that. But Adam and I were both humbled by Dan Poblocki, author of The Stone Child and The Nightmarys, who despite a late start not only finished early but ran the score up to 34. Bad form in football, maybe, but fair game here. I would congratulate Dan, but his publisher has informed me that he has been transferred to a clifftop asylum overlooking the crashing waves of some forgotten New England village. So it goes.
Nonetheless I am proud of my achievement. Now excuse me while I spend the next month watching “Golden Girls” re-runs to detox.
THE MOVIES (in order viewed):
1. THE HOUSE ON SKULL MOUNTAIN. Relatives of dying matriarch come for reading of the will, stay for the out-of-control 1970s-style voodoo. Medium levels of afros, jive talk, drumming, blood.
2. PARANORMAL ENTITY. Knock-off of Paranormal Activity, which ain’t half bad and includes two separate instances of what I like to call “paranormal nudity.”
3. THE DEVIL WITHIN HER. Joan Collins gets cursed by a horny dwarf and births a super-strong baby who beats the crap out of everyone.
4. DEMON SEED. Classy Julie Christie struggles to class up this story of a woman who gets impregnated by an evil supercomputer.
5. DEAD OF NIGHT. Much talked-about anthology film from 1945. Does it live up to the hype? I’ll just say this before crawling back under my desk: It’s got ventriloquist dummies in it.
6. GRIZZLY. Like Jaws, but with a bear. And instead of incredible, it’s, you know, not-incredible.
7. WICKED, WICKED. Wild slasher film that comes up with a brand-new way to make you sick: the entire thing is shot in split-screen!
8. THE CRAZIES (2010 version). Biological agent loosed in small town turns chummy citizens into slobbering zombies. Is that really so darn “crazy”?
9. DEVIL. Five people trapped in an elevator and guess what? The elevator music won’t stop. Just kidding, one of them is Satan.
10. SHE FREAK. Gold-digging waitress joins carnival, seduces freak show owner, pisses off freaks, gets freakenized.
11. THE THING (1982 version). Good times in Antarctica spoiled by peevish alien. OK, maybe that’s not strong enough.
12. SQUIRM. Tons and tons and tons and tons and tons of worms.
13. CULT OF THE DAMNED. A girl obsessed with her weight gain joins a bunch of psychedelic skydiving pop stars with murder on their minds. No, the word “skydiving” was not a typo.
14. THE HORRORS OF STEPHEN KING. Disappointingly, not a tell-all produced by King’s disgruntled children.
15. [REC] 2. Picking up seconds after [REC] left off, this is awesome for those who loved [REC]. Of course, if you haven’t seen [REC], you’re probably getting annoyed by all my references to the fantastic [REC].
16. MONSTER DOG. The creator of the infamous Troll 2 directs Alice Cooper in a werewolf rock-n-roll movie. What could possibly go wrong?
17. 976-EVIL. Call-in advice line called Horror-Scope transforms teen dork into bully-bashing hell-spawn.
18. HELL NIGHT. Linda Blair stars in a film about a fraternity haunted house hazing prank gone terribly awry. Well, they should’ve known better than to invite Linda Blair.
19. THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. Feature-length public service announcement regarding dining and restroom etiquette.
20. DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. Surprisingly, those little beasties in the basement don’t really want to “be your friend.”
21. THE THING (2011 version). This movie has so many flame-thrower scenes it’s practically a manual for flame-throwing. Flame-throwing!
22. LASERBLAST. Sullen teen finds alien gun, mutates into alien, and goes a-blasting.
23. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2. Heads-up, new parents, here’s something else for you to worry about: demons who want your first born.
24. I CAN SEE YOU. Imagine if David Lynch had directed The Blair Witch Project. Wait, why are you sobbing?
25. THE DUNWICH HORROR. Sandra Dee spends most of this movie writhing and moaning atop a sacrificial alter, so if that’s your thing, you’re welcome.
26. DEAD AND BURIED. Cult of good-looking zombies inflict a number of quite serious eye injuries.
27. FOOD OF THE GODS. The giant rats were expected. But the giant chickens? Did not see those guys coming.
28. FAN OF THE DEAD. Miserable documentary by earnest fan of George Romero films nearly turned me against George Romero films.
29. HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. Key scene with floating skeleton enhanced at our screening by some guy running around the audience with a plastic skeleton. Seriously!
30. THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. Vincent Price stumbles around in post-vampire apocalypse America, looking lonely and depressed. Things go downhill from there.
31. FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM. Four truly unpleasant stories about life in a godawful Tennessee town where apparently everyone is a tortured madman.
Until next year, pleasant dreams.