If you’re anything like us here at Grindhouse Theology, you know that Halloween is a bittersweet day. You realize that, somehow, another October got away from you without returning to any favorite old films or trying out any new ones. All tricks, no treats. Well, we’ve got you covered in your post-Halloween malaise! So this weekend, grab a handful of leftover candy (yeah, even the gross ones), light a few candles, and watch some old or new favorite horror films.
Here’s a short list of horror television & film for you to enjoy from Jared, Chris, Caleb, & our newest contributor, Ian! Rememember folks, they may be able to take you out of October, but they’ll never be able to take the October out of you!
Jared – The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Most years during the Halloween season, I either introduce someone to one or more of my horror favorites, or hunt down an avowed classic that I haven’t managed to see yet myself. This year, I went with something a little different. Mike Flanagan has given us all an incredible gift with his multi-part, multi-hour adaptation of a horror classic, The Haunting of Hill House. Easily the best ghost story in recent memory, the Netflix treatment gives it space to build and to breathe in ways a theatrical release couldn’t hope to duplicate. And while Haunting is very, very scary in a lot of different ways, it is gloriously restrained in its use of jump-scares, the perennial cheap-shot of a second-rate director. Instead, it trades heavily in suspense and mounting dread, presenting us with rich characters we grow to love and grow to hate and, finally, grow to understand. Don’t miss it!
Chris – Magic (1978)
This film is a perfect addition to any Halloween watchlist. Anthony Hopkins displays a masterful performance as Corky, a ventriloquist who slowly descends into madness. As the film progresses, the viewer becomes increasingly unsure of where he ends and the “influence” of his dummy, Fats, begins. The film evokes all kinds of conflicting emotions and responses from the viewer, as we bear witness to a character whose mental fabric is deteriorating before our very eyes. It is genuinely unnerving, particularly the latter half of the film. If you haven’t yet seen it, MAGIC is certainly worth the 107-minute runtime to experience it for yourself. And Fats may be the creepiest doll in horror history, yes even above Chucky.
Ian – Asylum (1972)
Amicus’ 1972 release Asylum cemented the production company’s status as stalwart purveyors of anthology horror, following upon such classics as Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, Torture Garden, The House That Dripped Blood, and Tales from the Crypt— an enviable seven-year excrescence of canon-expanding fear and trembling. And make no mistake: Amicus’ formula is indebted monumentally to the hoary old EC tradition of moral fog and angst that Uncle Soren might have read beneath the covers, lamp in hand, had he dumped Regine in the 1940s rather than the 1840s. The same dread and disruption that trips his trigger comes home to roost in the stories that make up Asylum, but as you can imagine, not everyone opts for the Abraham-route. Here our subjects, the inmates of the titular asylum, struggle to take hold of the finite goods they value above all else and discover they have chosen wrong: they have not uncovered the loophole of faith that suspends the ethical. So who really is who they say they are and. . . wait a minute, is that Commissioner Dreyfus from The Pink Panther? You’re damn right it is. If only Inspector Clouseau was on the case we might have a chance of deciphering which inmate is the former Head Doctor! So tighten your straitjacket and treat yourself to a dose of Asylum. I’ll take your screaming as a “thank you.”
Caleb – Cargo (2017)
This is one of those Netflix curiosities that you check out with low expectations & high hopes. Fortunately for those of us who love the zombie genre, but also feel a little beleaguered by the countless ventures of the past few years, this may just be the shot in the arm (or perhaps the amputation of it) that we needed. In this lean & biting directorial debut by Yolanda Ramke & Ben Howling, we get the story of Andy (Martin Freeman) trying to survive the apocalypse by venturing into Australia’s Outback with his infant daughter. Along the way, he meets Thoomi (Simone Landers) who is a bridge between the Aboriginal & Modern world. What follows is thoughtful, but imperfect, critique of the cancerous attributes of the “civilized world,” from seething racism to blustering anti-theism. There are real differences between us. Not all values or cultures are equal. Nevertheless, it seems that we are made for something more than ourselves, and as this film tries to make clear, sometimes we have to lose everything to find something better.
Happy watching, friends!