October is for horror movies. We all know that. It’s the one month of the year that your non-horror loving buddies will pick your brain over what to watch. The drop in temperature makes it okay to veg out on the sofa and binge scary movies until your black heart is content.
One of the more common events every Halloween season is the horror movie marathon. Your local independent cinema lines up a dozen hours of fright fare for a test of endurance. It’s a blast to sit in a packed theater with horror fam. However, there can be roadblocks to getting out for twelve hours of movies in one sitting. Securing a babysitter can be a pain in the ass. The price of admission plus the cost of snacks can kill one’s wallet. Sitting in a regular movie theater seat for 12 hours is murder on the joints. Also, and I hate to say this, but it takes one asshole in the crowd to ruin the night for everyone else.
The proliferation of streaming services makes it easier than ever to program a movie marathon in the comfort of your living room. Call over a few friends, make some good grub and get cozy on the sofa. Each of the big four streaming giants: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Shudder all have enough variety in their selection that you could program a kickass night sticking to only one of them.
That’s what we’re going to do in this set of articles. Each day we will program our own marathon using one of the services. We’ll plan out an evenging with films running every two hours, from 7pm through 7am. I try to have a rationale or theme behind each time slot. Also, there’s an ebb and flow to programming a marathon. It’s not as easy sticking a half-dozen titles in the queue and hitting play.
Up first, we bring you the horror exclusive streaming service Shudder.
For Horror Fans, By Horror fans
If you’re not familiar with Shudder by now, certainly you’re missing out on a great thing. For a mere $5 a month, or $6o annually, fans have a massive library of genre titles one click away. It’s reductive to call it “Netflix for horror fans” as it’s not a slave to the almighty algorithm. Instead, Shudder titles are handpicked by human beings, including a number of guest curators. in the recent past these curators included artists such as Barbara Crampton, Alexandre Aja and Larry Fessenden among others.
Shudder not only includes a huge collection of titles that span different eras of horror they have also entered the acquisitions game. Shudder has a growing list of exclusive titles geared towards hardcore horror fans and will relaunch Creepshow as an anthology show next year. If you have not signed up for Shudder yet, you can try the service free for 30 days here: www.shudder.com/fangoria
This Argentian horror film is exclusive to Shudder. Consider it the South American answer to the Conjuring or Insidious series. While it plays to a popular formula, Terrified nails the beats of a good haunted house flick. The creature design is outstanding. The monsters look like something lifted from HP Lovecraft’s personal nightmares. Rather than stick to one location, Terrified follows a trio of paranormal investigators looking into strange events in a neighborhood. The film opens with an absolute spectacle of a haunt that grabs your attention right away. Terrified never loosens its grip on the viewer, and if you’re not tittering with apprehension as each scare builds to a crescendo, then you may have ice water in your veins. Terrified offers a perfect start to your movie marathon night It states your intention to scare the bejesus out of your friends perfectly.
9pm SATAN’S SLAVES
We’re traveling to another foreign land, this time Indonesia, for our second pick. Satan’s Slaves tells the story of one family’s grief after the loss of their mother from a prolonged illness. To their horror, the family finds out mom isn’t as gone as they believed. I consider myself tough to scare, yet Satan’s Slaves made me jump out of my chair three times in the first twenty minutes alone. It’s not only dripping with a haunted atmosphere, but it draws its characters perfectly. You find yourself emotionally invested in their plight, which makes the events all the more difficult to watch unfold. For folks who might find reading subtitles back to back difficult late at night, the film comes in its native language or dubbed in English.
11pm AMERICAN PSYCHO
What better way to bring things back to the US of A than with this ode to greed, capitalism, and narcissism? Mary Harron took Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, considered unfilmable by many, and crafted an absolute classic. It’s a wonderful satire that drips with condescension towards the yuppie class of 1980s Wall Street dudebros. It also delivers some fantastic splatter moments, including the iconic scene of Christian Bale chopping up Jared Leto to the tune of Huey Lewis. american Psycho remains a blast to watch, and the last act is filled with high intensity just when one’s energy might start to flag a bit.
1am GHOST WATCH
Before “found footage” became a thing that dominated the box office, there was this 1992 BBC production. Reminiscent of Orsen Welles and his War of the Worlds radio drama, this mock documentary used real BBC news anchors and studios to create panic amongst its viewers. Many watching at home believed what they were watching was real, and terrified viewers flooded police and station phones lines trying to figure out what was going on. The production works in part because of Michael Parkinson, a respected and award-winning journalist that anchored BBC News for almost twenty years. His presence and his dedication to playing the material straight add the gravitas needed to pull this stunt off. The actual haunted footage is very basic, and the low budget nature of the scares make them all the more realistic.
Until Shudder acquired the rights to Ghost Watch it remained difficult to see. Due to the controversy surrounding it, Ghost Watch was banned from the airwaves until a 2002 rebroadcast. From there it received a region 2 DVD release but had never had an official US release. Anyone who has enjoyed a Paranormal Activity movie owes it to watch this wonderful, scary title.
3AM THE OLD DARK HOUSE
For the 3am slot, I wanted to infuse a bit of classical horror into the proceedings. This James Whale picture is of the first and still best examples of horror-comedy. Coming off the box-office success of Frankenstein, Whale demanded that Universal allow him to do this film before he would commit to a sequel. The result is a genre classic. The combination of gothic interiors and a raging storm outside its battered walls show Universal firing on all cylinders. The performances from Karloff, Charles Laughton, and Gloria Stuart are infused with a wonderfully weird vibe. Whale brings an impish sense of humor to the whodunnit. This humor would carry over to his work on Bride of Frankenstein. It may not contain the famous Universal Monsters, but The Old Dark House remains every bit as impressive and vital as those iconic films.
5AM THE EVIL DEAD
It’s getting late, or early, and many patrons might be on their way to tapping out. It’s time to break out the big guns, with some high octane, crowd-pleasing horror. I can’t think of a single, better title, than Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead to fit this bill. The original film in Raimi’s beloved trilogy is the ultimate example of DIY filmmaking. It’s low budget, there are cracks at the seams, and it doesn’t always make sense. You know what? Who gives a damn? Evil Dead is an unrelenting and terrifying film that holds up even today. The gore, the hysteria, the over the top histrionics and Bruce-Freaking-Campbell combine to make a horror classic.
7AM THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW
I want to end each night with a quieter, more contemplative horror title. Something to send the crowd into the daylight wistful and reflective as they start their days. This new Shudder exclusive (debuting on the service Friday, October 18th) is the perfect fit. Call this “parent horror” if you want. Within the trappings of a traditional haunted house movie comes this meditation on watching your child grow up and realizing you cannot protect them from the world forever. That’s not to say it skimps on on-screen terror. The actual witch is terrifying, and she pops up in the most inopportune moments.