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31 Horror Films in 31 Days: The Crud-Cracking Conclusion

The 3 stages of horror-movie binging.

The record of this, the ninth year of the #31HorrorFilms31Days challenge, shall one day be carved into mausoleum walls. From the usual pile of writhing, sobbing, scrabbling horror-movie marathoners, rose two titans of terror: Julia “J-Horror” Smith and me, Daniel “D. K. / Decay” Kraus. To put it in sports terms, this was the 1998 home-run record chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, where both sluggers not only met Roger Maris’s record of 61, but blew right past it.

Of course, we all know where that ended up: steroids! Turns out, those rippling, sweaty, veiny ballplayers were Frankensteinian monsters. I can’t say J-Horror Smith and I were on steroids, but we must have been on something—how else to explain the shocking, unbelievable, and frankly sickening 40-film total that both of us reached? Yea, ’tis a record that will last till Ye End of Tyme. The rat-like gargoyles that will succeed the human race will still speak of it, even as they’re dancing upon the salted earth of our graves. It’s a cheery future.

See you all again next year, our 10th anniversary… I have something special planned. Until then, I present the full lists of participating Booklist staff. Note that, as previously warned, those who didn’t reach 31 will now be forced to watch Spooky Buddies. Don’t complain. You knew what you were signing up for.

Daniel Kraus, Books for Youth Editor

1. THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA. #31HorrorFilms31Days starts strong w / 1976 weirdo about woman obsessed with football players & mermaids.

2. DEATH SPA. Ghost / man-in-drag/buggy computer haunts 80s gym. Lots of people melted by acid showers & whatnot.

3. THE FACE OF ANOTHER. 1966 Japanese stunner. Burned man gets prosthetic face, seduces own wife, feels malaise. Great!

4. I WAS A TEENAGE ZOMBIE. Micro-budget 1987 zombie flick made by doofuses somehow, against all odds, fails to charm me.

5. THE SOULTANGLER. Frequently inaudible no-budgeter so inept it accidentally achieves moments of transcendent beauty.

6. EXCESS FLESH. Woman gets revenge on cruel, skinnier roommate by focusing on her “problem areas.”

7. DECAY. OCD fella decides to keep around the girl who just died in his house. It’s Ed Gein lite, folks.

8. SOULMATE. Grieving violin prodigy rents cabin, meets attractive ghost, and somehow it isn’t ridiculous at all!

9. ALWAYS SHINE. Two struggling actresses deal w/ jealousy in the woods. Of course in the woods. Always with the woods.

10. GENOCIDE. Fearful of nuclear warfare, Earth’s insects band together to eliminate humans. And they succeed!

11. GHOSTHOUSE. Ham radio enthusiast encounters ghostly girl & her cursed clown doll. Adequate 80s garbage.

12. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? I can honestly say you don’t want to know the answer to that.

13. THE LAST WINTER. Fab eco-horror in which a drilling team learns what oil is made of. An art-house THE THING.

14. PET SEMATARY 2. Mary Lambert’s grimy, cruel sequel has its moments. (Not enough of them.)

15. SUN DON’T SHINE. Dreamy indie-Badlands knows how to hide all its worst things. Need to dig its odd vibe, but I did.

16. A CURE FOR WELLNESS. Maybe IT got all the praise, but this great big-budget horror really pulls out all the stops.

17. THE GUEST. Family’s new best friend is also, conveniently for them, a killing machine.

18. THE MIDNIGHT SWIM. 3 sisters return to the lake where their mom drowned. Little horror, but good, tense bickering.

19. THE LIVING SKELETON. 1968 Japanese film has it all: ghost ship, rubbery bats, dissolving acid, burlesque scene.

20. MAGGIE. Underloved weeper about dad deciding when to kill zombie daughter. Is this Arnold’s answer to COPLAND?

21. IN MY SKIN. Woman gets leg wound, becomes obsessed with it. For those who wished RAW was 1000xs more disturbing.

22. THE COLLECTION. Reclusive guy revealed to have talent for DIY home projects.

23. DONKEY PUNCH. In the things-go-badly-on-a-boat subgenre, surely this is one of the things-go-badliest.

24. THE FINAL TERROR. Junior park rangers Adrian Zmed & Daryl Hannah vs. . . I’m still not sure.

25. HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN. Stupidly complex plot obfuscates glorious bevy of wacko visuals and lotsa malformed men.

26. JIGOKU (HELL). The best cinematic vision of Hell I’ve ever seen. I can’t possibly post enough images; google them.

27. CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES. 6-and-1/2-hour (!!!) documentary on Friday the 13th movies. (I want a cookie for this one.)

28. ANGST. Sloppy murderer murders sloppily while wiener dog looks on. Really great!

29. THE SIMILARS. People trapped at a bus station in a storm start resembling one another. A Twilight-Zoney joy!

30. THE NINTH CONFIGURATION. Aggravating / riveting Cuckoo’s Nesty tale of shellshocked Nam vets going crazy in a castle.

31. THE FLY II. Absolutely disgusting sequel boasts great, gooey effects, plus a surprising tenderness toward dogs.

32. CREEP 2. Serial killer with man-bun commissions documentary, but can’t decide how it ends. ❤ this character.

33. WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL. Made to look like a VHS of a 1980s TV-station Halloween broadcast. . . gone wrong. Clever!

34. THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE. Dad & son undertakers keep finding things inside a corpse that shouldn’t be there.

35. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. New 4K restoration of my all-time favorite movie. Loved comatose Barbra more than ever.

36. PATRICK. Mr. Coma Unibrow uses telekinesis to bloodily proclaim love to nurse.

37. BUTTER ON THE LATCH. Two friends at a Balkan music camp… well, I’m not really sure what went down, but liked it.

38. BODY MELT. New vitamin supplement turns suburban neighborhood into a pile of goo.

39. FOUND FOOTAGE 3D. Nervy indie with some jumps. Plus it’s fun to wear 3D glasses. But doggie no like.

40. HUSH. Hate it when someone watches me google.


Julia Smith, Books for Youth Associate Editor

1. THE EYES OF MY MOTHER: Childhood trauma leads to a fascination with eyeballs, dismemberment, & human pets.

2. GRIZZLY: It’s Jaws on land w / a prehistoric-size grizzly munching people like trail mix. A+ bear cam.

3. THE WEIGHT OF WATER: A journalist investigates an old axe murder. The most horrifying part is the sexual tension.

4. THE CAT CREATURE: A stolen amulet frees the spirit of an ancient Egyptian cat goddess, & she wants your blood.

5. CATHY’S CURSE An evil doll, a possessed girl, wonderfully bad acting, & lots of exploding vases.

6. THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK: A gentle doc-style tale of a lonely, lurking Sasquatch.

7. GREEN ROOM: Don’t play a gig for neo-Nazis. But if you do, bring duct tape.

8. THE WAILING: Something’s making everyone go mad & stab. (It’s a demon!) Better call the shaman.

9. ZOMBEAVERS: The name says it all.

10. MIRROR/MIRROR: Goth girl gets revenge on high school bullies via a bewitched mirror.

11. GET OUT: The most sinister use of a teaspoon I’ve ever seen.

12. BLACK SABBATH: 3 beautiful Bava shorts put stalking, revenge, vampires, & a cursed ring in 1 convenient package.

13. MS. .45: Mute girl goes on well-deserved killing spree & attends Halloween party. Lipstick’s on point.

14. BEYOND THE GATES: An old board game found in a video store is literally soul wrenching. Cue the basement demons!

15. BACKCOUNTRY: A confirmation of all my camping fears, except Lyme disease. #horrifying

16. AND SOON THE DARKNESS (1970): A woman tries to find her missing friend while pursued by a mysterious Frenchman.

17. [REC]: Reporter films the horrifying spread of infection in quarantined apartment building. Lots of eating faces!

18. HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER: He’s got a pretty good system, I’ll give him that.

19. THE CLUB: 4 priests sequestered for poor behavior are forced to atone. Less horror than quietly horrific.

20. SENSORIA: A lady’s new apartment is harboring ghosts & one is growing rather attached to her.

21. A FIELD IN ENGLAND: Men captured by a necromancer during the English Civil War eat some mushrooms. Things get weird.

22. BENEATH THE SHADOWS: Djinn & missiles strike apt during Iran-Iraq War. Jane Fonda workout video among casualties.

23. DARLING: Being the caretaker of a haunted mansion is not without its consequences.

24. ERASERHEAD: A nightmare montage obviously condemning pre-marital sex.

25. RAW: Rabbit liver, human liver. Potato, potahto. A girl’s gotta eat.

26. HOME MOVIE: An antisocial set of twins finally shows some spirit. Unfortunately, it’s of the evil variety.

27. MAD LOVE: Besotted surgeon replaces pianist’s / rival in love’s hands w / those of a knife-throwing murderer.

28. SHOCK: Excellent 1st husband revenge flick. He’s dead, btw.

29. TORTURE GARDEN: Folks at a carnival sideshow peer into the shears of fate to see the horrors of their souls. Snip!

30. FELT: “See how this is blackened & hollowed out? It’s kinda like my heart.”

31. THE GORGON: Something’s turning people to stone every full moon. But who could it be?! And why are there snakes in your hair?

32. THE BABY: A social worker attempts to save a man-baby from his weird family. Truly incredible.

33. SQUIRM: Downed power lines unleash a hoard of supercharged & super-hungry worms on a southern town.

34. BERSERK!: Joan Crawford struts her stuff as the ringmaster of a murder-plagued circus. Great aerial & poodle acts!

35. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: Girl finds comfort in lace after losing her shoes & brother to zombies.

36. LIVIDE: Vampire ballerinas!

37. [REC] 2: The demon behind the virus you loved in [REC] gets her chance to shine in this bloody, wobbly cam sequel.

38. BURNING BRIGHT: Siblings trapped in a house during a hurricane with a tiger. Worst stepdad award!

39. BE AFRAID: Bunnyman Bridge meets sleep paralysis meets grey men in fedoras.

40. GHOSTWATCH: A BBC ghost hunting show inadvertently triggers a massive séance.


Briana Shemroske, Books for Youth Editorial Assistant

1. LITTLE EVIL: Just because a kid’s the spawn of a satanic ritual—& an actual portal to hell—doesn’t mean he’s evil.

2. GRABBERS: They’re repulsive, they decapitate people, & the only way to stop ’em is with lots & lots of booze.

3. THE WITCH: The “Goats Gone Grazing” of Instagram will never be the same. Farewell my furry friends.

4. DER BUNKER: An alien-possessed leg wound. A breastfeeding “8-year old.” Lots of corporal punishment. Verrückt!

5. MANBORG: Imagine a poorly constructed 80s video game that makes you feel bad inside.

6. MOTHER!: Which does this movie have more of?: a) breathing sounds / b) possible interpretations?

7. THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE: Santi will always be one of my favorite ghosts.

8. BORGMAN: A Dutch family is enchanted & undone by arrival of mysterious “gardeners.” NOT to be confused w/ Manborg.

9. GET OUT: “I want those things you see through.” A classic.

10. SMALL TOWN KILLERS: The troubled sex lives of two Danish couples lead to . . . dueling hitmen!?

11. SOCIETY: When your own family excludes you from their ravenous, wildly sexual escapades & your whole life is a lie.

12. DEATHGASM: Demons are just a few sinister-sounding chords away—but new metalhead BFF may be most depraved of all!

13. SHREW’S NEST: The best way to care for a wounded neighbor? Take him hostage . . . & ready your knitting needles.

“I con women for a living.”
“I love you. Please be mine forever.”

15. WE GO ON: Desperate death-fearing man seeks proof of an afterlife, finds most damning evidence there is.

16. THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME: The only thing that can save a woman jailed for murdering her husband is . . . murdering her husband.

17. WE ARE STILL HERE: Dead son or charred evil spirits? Sometimes you just can’t tell.

18. THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE: If your friend isn’t willing to be tied up & threatened with sulfuric acid, is he really a friend at all?

19. RESOLUTION: These storytelling supernatural forces are particularly invested in endings. Grisly ones.

20. BAGHEAD: Bagheaded man terrorizes four unbelievably heinous humans. Sadly, everyone survives.


22. DIGGING UP THE MARROW: Don’t be fooled by their kind of cartoonish exteriors! They’re evil (I think?)!

23. LOVELY MOLLY: Woman returns to childhood home, is haunted by horrific GhostDad / horse. No more corrupted animals plz.

24. THE CANAL: Have you ever seen a ghost give birth!? I have.

25. THE BABADOOK: The Babadook makes a great pet—especially after you murder your real pup while tragically possessed!

26. WAKE WOOD: Small town council helps grieving couple resurrect dead daughter, is surprisingly lax in their methods.

27. A TALE OF TWO SISTERS: Or a tale of one sister and . . . ? *brain destroyed*

28. THE WOLF MAN (1941): “When the wolfbane blooms & the autumn moon is bright.” (Why are these pentagrams so poorly drawn?)

29. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS: Vampire flatmates navigate Google, friendship, & familiars in the modern world. RIP Petyr.

30. ANGST: All this guy wants to do is torture, but these people are untortureable! AND THE PUP SURVIVES.

31. THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL: Strange couple offers college student $400 to “watch” “Mother.” Not even the pizza is safe!



About the Author:

Dan Kraus was 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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