Feature by: Adam Balz, Matt Bailey, David Carter, Matthew Derby, Veronika Ferdman, Leo Goldsmith, Jordan Holtane, Victoria Large, Steve Macfarlane, Michael Nordine, Thomas Scalzo, Rumsey Taylor, and Budd Wilkins
Posted on: 01 October 2013
As a child, one with a predilection for wandering to all corners of a video store in search of its most provocative contents, I was fascinated by horror movies. I had never seen one before, but measuring from the lurid box art and titles they were already imaginative and scandalous entertainments. The thought of watching one was even scarier.
All horror films are in some sense best before they’re watched, when their foredooming titles render across a discomfiting expanse of darkness and pledge untold scores of monsters and blood and death. For the horror fan this initial potency is often unreciprocated by an action that is scary in a permanent sense, and her appreciation ultimately lies in those same cinematic or narrative aspects that horror shares with any other genre. Horror films, in other words, rarely remain horrific.
Nevertheless, each October another round of frights are disseminated across the month’s weekends, each promising customary, if ephemeral frights. It is this custom to which we have summarily paid tribute in these pages, in the interest of retrospection—particularly, to bravely reenter that video store from the past and entertain the most sinister titles regardless of whatever currency they may lack in their cast or critical renown. It is an effort to mine the genre for its overlooked gems, and to reconsider its potency to frighten.
As of 2013, 31 Days of Horror will amount to ten years of practicing this custom. Such a tenure is of only transient value in cinematic terms – there are horror films from the last ten years that are still securing a place in the pantheon of great horror, and others that remain undervalued – but in internet years it is ancient. This realization has prompted a rather derogatory thought: that horror films – most especially those from the last ten years – are prone to redundancy and franchising at the expense of their essential ingenuity, and our feature may perceptibly suffer from the same sort of proliferation. With this thought in mind, I introduce what will be the final installment of our heretofore perennial October feature.
We’ll be updating the site daily and enlarging our archive of horror reviews, which spans nearly a full century, encompasses films from dozens of countries, and ranges from low-budget debuts, titles exclusive to the VHS format, and popular Hollywood favorites. Volume X of 31 Days of Horror will additionally feature two sidebars:
It’s little wonder that high school proms have frequently become the settings for horror films. Sure, proms are more cinematic than your average high school day: just think of how much time and energy is spent on the costuming, set design, and soundtrack. But beyond that, the prom is an event so rife with hope, fear, lust, and frustration that it all but begs for the horror treatment. Brian De Palma’s Carrie is prom horror’s primary touchstone, but there have been echoes of, and answers to, his film ever since its release, offering a fascinating array of heroes and villains clad in taffeta and heels. Every Saturday for the next four weeks, look for a new review of a film that mixes slow dances and corsages with terror. —by Victoria Large
Since the dawn of history, humans have been fascinated, and terrified, by the oceans. Early cartographers, fueled by tall tales, and a paucity of facts, populated many of the blank spaces on their maps with humongous and hideous sea creatures. For centuries, such seemingly benign decorations proved exceedingly powerful on our collective imagination, engendering a persistent belief that something horrible lay in wait in the bottomless depths. Even today, despite extraordinary advances in mapping and exploring the ocean floor, we still cannot claim to have uncovered all of the oceans secrets, or experienced all its horrific possibilities. Each Monday this month, we’ll dive into a tale of terror that plunges us far below the horrors of the surface world into the unfathomable fears of the deep. —by Thomas Scalzo
The scare chords, second deaths, and pools of blood beyond the suspected capacity of the human body are all promised.
31 Days of Horror X commences September 30th at midnight
Introduction by Rumsey Taylor
By Adam Balz, Matt Bailey, David Carter, Matthew Derby, Veronika Ferdman, Leo Goldsmith, Jordan Holtane, Victoria Large, Steve Macfarlane, Michael Nordine, Thomas Scalzo, Rumsey Taylor, and Budd Wilkins ©2013 NotComing.com
The Sea Serpent1984
The Dark Half1993
The White Reindeer1952
The Serpent and the Rainbow1988
Night Train Murders1975
God Told Me To1976
In a Child’s Name1991
Prom Night II1987
Men Behind the Sun1986
At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul1964
They Came Back2004
A Bucket of Blood1959
Buffy the Vampire Slayer1992
Night and Fog1956
It Came From Beneath the Sea1955
Tokyo Gore Police2008
The Rocky Horror Picture Show1975