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31 Horror Films in 31 Days 2013: The Soul-Swallowing Conclusion

Even the cat was scared.

                    Even my cat was scared.

The 5th Annual 31 Horror Films in 31 Days challenge is now but matted red roadkill in my rear-view mirror. For the fourth year straight, I staggered across the finish line in a ghastly state, choking down film #31 mere minutes before the fateful witching hour.

Now, of course, I find I cannot sleep, for I am braced for a last-second back-from-the-dead surprise: “No, you fool, you miscounted and only watched 30! Now we shall SWALLOW YOUR SOUL!!!

I wasn’t the only writer who eviscerated his or her personal demons this year — for example, check out the lists of these sinew-splattered soldiers: Dan Poblocki and Lex Thomas. Note to these authors: You are now unclean; we’ll need to burn your bodies.

Below is my confession. Please don’t recite it aloud lest you summon something …unspeakable.

THE MOVIES (in order viewed):

1. INSIDIOUS 2. If you thought Insidious was sinister — or that Sinister was insidious, for that matter — then you’ll find this sequel simply sinisidious.

2. THE LORDS OF SALEM. Grungy radio DJ is taken over by witches, and the best kind of witches, too: the writhing-in-their-own-filth kind!

3. SCREAM 4. Watching this is like being back in the 90s, when being scared was so like whatever, man, and horror movies were totally lame-ass anyway because emotions were for preppies, so how bout we just meet out on the quad for some hackey sack and — OH GOD SOMEBODY KILL THESE PEOPLE!

4. THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS. Stark and utterly realistic true story of Australia’s worst serial killer. Who out there loves extended, painful choking scenes? Who loves it?? Aw, I know who! It’s you!!

5. THE ATTIC. Miserable masturbating librarian loses best friend, replaces her with a monkey in a sailor suit, suffers the verbal tortures of her wheelchair-bound father, wonders about the fate of her missing true love, and can we talk about that monkey in a sailor suit again?

6. SPLINTER. Kidnappers and kidnappees alike barricade themselves inside of a gas station to keep out a mutating monster. Deleted scenes probably feature lotto tickets being scratched, Combos snacks being snarfed — more standard gas station horrors.

7. COME OUT AND PLAY. Nice white couple ends up on a Spanish island full of giggling children. It’s awful! Just awful! And then the children start trying to kill them, which is insult to injury.

8. BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW. A dude with a sweet bowl-cut meanders around in front of nonsensical visuals that will look great projected at your next rave.

9. YELLOWBRICKROAD. Team of forest researchers are driven mad by distant big band music. You read that right, folks — big band music is making a comeback.

10. [REC] 3. Past Halloween marathons forged within me an undying devotion for the awesome [REC] series. So seeing this pile of dog-doo was like taking my undying fandom and placing it inside a pile of dog-doo.

11. MANIAC. Fact! Elijah Wood is highly skilled at scalping people. Fact! This was something I did not need to know.

12. TROUBLE EVERY DAY. Cannibals mope around, gnaw upon the occasional human, speak in melancholy riddles. Why, yes, it is French.

13. BURN, WITCH, BURN. Thoughtful 1950s housewife uses witchery to bring good fortune upon her husband. Instead of being like “Gee, honey, that’s swell!” he goes and screws it all up. Men, stand by your witch.

14. ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? Spooky phone calls from cackling stalker suddenly, terrifyingly, and without warning turn into an after-school special. I even learned an important life lesson and I shall never forgive this movie for that.

15. LOVELY MOLLY. Newlywed goes crazy in an old house. Instead of scrapbooking takes up chewing on human faces.

16. V/H/S 2. Robot-eye, zombie bicyclist, HOLY EFFING SHIT TERRIFYING SEGMENT ABOUT SUICIDE CULT, aliens.

17. MEGAN IS MISSING. Too . . . disturbing . . .  can’t . . . muster . . . joke . . . wish . . . I’d never . . . seen it . . . [dies]

18. THE BASEMENT. Low-low-low-budget 1980s 8mm anthology film. Watched on VHS tape, because I’m trying to impress you. So . . . you come here often?

19. RESOLUTION. Guy chains his crack-addict pal to a pipe to force him to get clean. Then things in the woods around them start to get weird. Add a six bottles of peach schnapps and you have my usual weekend.

20. BLACK WATER. The first of two(!) giant crocodile movies I watched this year. Really helpful film if you’re looking to add a new phobia to your tired old repertoire.

21. JUAN OF THE DEAD. Take Shaun of the Dead, set it in Cuba, cast it with the most likeable leads ever . . . Wait, are you actually doing what I’m saying? No, no, stop, they already made that movie, it’s called Juan of the Dead.

22. THE WICKER MAN. New restored theatrical version of my favorite film of all time. Why are you staring at my Wicker Man-themed mask that I wore to the theater and then to sushi afterward? And am still wearing right now?

23. THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH. One-man performance follows a gloomy guy who inherits a lonely house from his estranged mom. Features perhaps the scariest magazine ad of all time. (I didn’t sell that well, but I’m serious.)

24. SLUGS. Slugs are off to the races / all over the places / so let’s cover our bases / and burst out of faces. <—poem

25. THE INKEEPERS. Haunted hotel gotcha down? Never fear, dearie. Kelly McGillis has just checked in and she’s the top gun of paranormal mediums! Ug, sorry, it’s been a long month.

26. THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM. Rip-off scenes of The Exorcist, straight down to the pea-soup vomit, are spliced together with an unrelated film about creepy mannequins. No, seriously, the two are unrelated. Look it up.

27. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. Fun, permissive 1950s mom invites neighborhood kids over to torture her niece, who is chained up in the cellar. Ah, it was such an innocent time.

28. ANGST. A young woman’s woman-parts eat any man who gets too close. If that doesn’t doesn’t float your boat, there’s a subplot about a nerd who has an affair with Siamese twins.

29. SUSPENDED ANIMATION. Man falls into hands of woodland cannibal sisters, escapes, becomes obsessed with one of their daughters, tries to make an animated film about it, becomes involved with said daughter’s zit-eating delinquent son, discovers a dried-out body part in a junkyard — well, why bother continuing, it’s the same old story.

30. THE CROCODILE MAN. This comes direct from Cambodia, where apparently one can make drastic shifts from Scooby-Doo-style shenangians to ultra-violence without people giving you the evil eye. Highly amusing subtitles include shaky translations like “You will be died by love.” (h/t: AEM.)

Crocodile Man

31. WINTERBEAST. First off, it didn’t take place in winter. Second, there were many beasts. Third off, I’ll stop my complaining because, good lord, does this movie rock. Tons of stop-motion monsters and very, very self-conscious nudity. Winterbeast, let’s make it official. Will you be my life partner?



About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

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