Bow, filthy mortals! Kneel before your new overlord! For I have, for the fifth year in a row (2009 is the Year That Cannot Be Named), descended into the underworld, grappled with legions of steaming hell-beasts, and emerged gore-striped and victorious to rule with absolute sovereignty over the sprawling acreage of Hell!
It can now be proclaimed that 2014 was the year that the 31 Horror Films in 31 Days Challenge escaped from its rusty playpen and wreaked havoc across the entire country. I’m not sure why, but the thing really took off this year, with the #31HorrorFilms31Days hashtag popping up all over the net. I also received anecdotal remarks that from associates who were participating, having no idea that I started the gall-durned thing. Well, I did! So pay up! Pay up in precious lifeblood!
I would be remiss, of course, not to mention a few of the authors and Booklist staffers who destroyed their free time and ruined their personal relationships to in order to flay themselves nightly for my twisted cause. Check out the annotated lists of authors Stephanie Perkins, Courtney Summers, Lex Thomas, Dan Poblocki, and Anne Elizabeth Moore, as well as Booklist‘s own satanic slaves, Carlos Orellana (a crusty old vet) and Maggie Reagan (who’d only seen one horror film prior to this! What!?).
And now, my list. Writing it down always feels like a nice, cleansing bloodletting.
1. CHOPPING MALL. Mall security killbots go haywire, slice and dice recently nude teens. Decent head explosion, too. Clean-up in aisle seven!
2. OPEN GRAVE. Man wakes up in mass grave with no memory, finds others in the same pickle. Surprisingly, does not turn out to be the latest pledge prank from Alpha Gamma Delta.
3. HAUSU. Imagine taking every drug ever made and making a tasty drug-smoothie out of it and you have the basic feel of this hyper Japanese freak show about a house that literally eats its residents.
4. KILL LIST. You ever sat down to watch a comforting buddy movie when all of a sudden in the third act it turns into a sacrificial cult nightmare and makes you cry like a child? Well, then, here is a present for you.
5. BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL. The sensitive story of a black devil doll (from hell) who comes to life with one mission: teach his church-lady owner the true meaning of passion. I wish I was kidding.
6. TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE. If Creepshow were made by a half-asleep family with a broken VHS camera, it’d look like this. Endless—and we never even learn what the hell “Quadead” means.
7. VIDEO VIOLENCE. 1980s shot-on-video gore fest about a video store owner whose clientele wants to stock his shelves with snuff. Full of rubbery FX that just made me feel dead inside.
8. CATHY’S CURSE. Cute little girl gets possessed by a doll (or something?) and develops psychic powers with which to torture her folks. I humbly posit that I, too, was tortured in the watching.
9. BORGMAN. Polite drifter takes down rich family via gardening. Not the most expedient method, true, but like the beautiful banzai tree, you can’t rush these things.
10. CONTRACTED. Girl catches STD that ends up being a mite bit worse than she originally thinks. Every year there’s a point where I ask myself, “Why am I making myself watch this stuff again?”
11. HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. Monstrous mutant fish-men ruin annual Salmon Fest. Don’t they always?
12. EXTE: HAIR EXTENSIONS. Hair extensions run amok, shoot out of orifices, cover entire houses. You read that right, my friend.
13. THE SACRAMENT. Pleasant commune ruined by jerks with cameras. Why won’t people just let cults be cults?
14. JUG FACE. Hillbillies worship “the pit” by killin’ jug faces. Well, I guess you had to be there.
15. STAGE FRIGHT. A dancer in an owl mask dismembers crabby cast members. Given that their play includes a lady playing a saxophone on a fire escape, I’m rooting for the owl.
16. BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD. The story behind Night of the Living Dead finally gets the baritone narrator it deserves.
17. ALIEN ABDUCTION. Found-footage film about alien invasion, starring my favorite kind of family—the constantly screaming kind!
18. DEVIL FISH. A shark . . . but with tentacles! And a gun! Actually, just tentacles.
19. HALLUCINATIONS OF A DERANGED MIND. Perfectly titled “movie” featuring “scenes” of “people” writhing around a “hell” that is made up of 90% underwear ladies and 10% snakes.
20. WORLD WAR Z. Brad Pitt’s hair and scarf are both inadvisable with so many grabby zombies about.
21. HERE COMES THE DEVIL. Kids worship cave, come back vapid, parents act rashly, everything starts to float. (?)
22. THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN. Derailed documentary about an Alzheimer’s patient. Alzheimer’s? More like Devilheimer’s. Well, it’s true.
23. ALUCARDA. Mexican nuns *freak the eff out* about our buddy Satan.
24. SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER. Dumb kid enlists masked serial killer for ha-ha Halloween fun-times.
25. VISITING HOURS. Killer chases two women around hospital for, like, days.
26. DUST DEVIL. Desert drifter commits murders, collects fingers, wins hearts.
27. KILLDOZER. Meteor bestows precious gift life to a bulldozer. Despite lumbering speed, manages to kill just about everyone.
28. GHOSTWATCH. Creepy faux-live-TV ghostbusting event from 1992 BBC out Blair Witch-es Blair Witch before there was even a Blair Witch.
29. SATAN’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS. Girl goes undercover at a boarding school to figure out why—oh, why even finish the sentence. It was Satan.
30. REPULSION. Young woman suffering from ennui gets groped by her own house.
31. V/H/S: VIRAL. Several found-footage horror stories spliced together with carefree abandon. Has not, at last check, gone viral.
32. MR. JONES. Reclusive avant-garde artist discovered living in the woods, young fans approach him, knee-slappin’ hilarity ensues. Also: 32! I watched one more than I had to! I am officially sick!