As we close out the preseason and get ready for the season, the 2017 Moviefest is well under way. 2016 was the first year I did a preseason. It seemed like 31 films during the 31 days of October was movie enough, but when I launched the blog I felt it my duty to do a little research. And really, can you ever have too much horror?
Don't answer that.
What developed last year is a model for how I do the preseason. That is, a list of movies that you can stream with your subscription to Netflix or Amazon Prime. There are 26 films on the preseason list and before you judge, I have not seen all of these movies since September 1st. Honestly, I need a regular horror fix throughout the year and when I satisfy it, I feel it my duty to pass the research on to you. And while I shamelessly admit to watching each of these films to the end, I left out plenty that were well on their way to earning half a skull before I bailed. I wouldn't do that to you. Feel free to skip right to the movie list by clicking the quick look link on the right sidebar if you want to get started on your own fix.
There are not that many 3-skull films on the list so if you haven't seen them, start there. There is one 4-skull film that you should immediately watch if it is new for you and that is Jaws, released in 1975. The only reason it is on this list is because it appeared on the Rotten Tomatoes "Top 75" horror movie list. And the only reason I gave it 4 skulls instead of 5 is because I do not consider it a horror film. But it is a great movie that everyone needs to see; even I had forgotten how good it is. I think it is all about the music. Where else have we seen this? Oh, yeah, the original Halloween.
I really enjoyed Little Evil, a Netflix original that I had not heard of before. I recommend it as a first choice if you just want to grab one movie right now. This is a delightfully original comedy-horror that won't require you to wait until everybody has gone to bed before watching. Second on the list would be What We Do in the Shadows. This mockumentary about what it's really like to be a vampire is also a comedy-horror and makes liberal use of the blood and gore one might expect when exploring such domestic problems as cleaning up after dinner when live human blood is on the menu. The last 3-skull film on the list is It follows - a film that is nothing like the previous two recommendations but with plenty of original, if not slightly awkward in the presence family, content. It Follows landed an impressive #14 position on the Rotten Tomatoes list - the only other preseason film to make the list. That doesn't necessarily mean it is a great horror movie in my book, but it was pretty good.
Unless you are intentionally looking for a crappy horror flick, or you want to challenge my ratings, or if you are just trying to cram even more horror movies into a season than I do, I suggest you avoid anything that gets fewer than 2½ skulls. Definitely stay away from The Black Room. The only reason this film got one full skull is because for some inexplicable reason, my husband and I watched the entire thing. Neither of us even nodded off. The only possible excuse I can come up with is that we just needed to see where in the world was this film going? Or maybe it was like a train wreck where you just cannot look away. What's truly frightening is that this is a remake. Ouch. Watch this turd of a film at your own risk and if you think it deserves more than one skull, let me know why.
I would also avoid the Ouija Experiment 2: Resurrection. I watched this one to conclusion but admit I was multi-tasking, like making toast and hooking up the "Halloween" theme song to my doorbell. I don't remember its predecessor being all that great but it was also not awful. This film is. Screen it you're looking for the truly cliche' and seriously bad acting. Knock-Knock was pretty bad but in a different way. I found it more sleaze than horror - and it was zero horror. Definitely not Keanu Reeves' best work. Charlotte is just a weak attempt at creating a collection of horror-themed stories by ripping off the creepy doll theme.
The remaining 2½ skull selections are worth your time if your criteria is something on Netflix or Amazon that fits the mood and is not likely to have you exercising your eye-roll muscles. If you are a fan of Rob Zombie's style of horror, definitely check out 31. This film is a Shudder original - meaning you'll have to spend five bucks for this add-on to your Amazon Prime service. Fancy Kevin Costner in a horror film? Then take a look at The New Daughter. The horror genre is not notorious for casting actors who have Oscars, so I like to watch them when they come along. And for a better attempt at a collection of horror-themed stories, check out Tales of Halloween. This film is closer to the spirit of Trick 'r Treat.
Mine Games is kind of a thinker that took a couple of tries to understand; even then, I got a little lost. This isn't a great film to have on in the background if you want to follow the plot. Death Note is a Netflix original take on Aladdin's magic lamp crossed with The Craft. It may well be worthy of another half a skull but I stuck with my first impression. Neil Gaiman's Likely Stories probably doesn't belong on this list because it is technically not a movie. This TV mini-series has four episodes with a combined commitment of 90 minutes so I went with it. And I like Neil Gaiman. The first episode is the weakest of the four so you might want to start with the second one and see if it works for you. The order is not important. Beyond the Gates held my interest with its creepy throwback to the interactive VCR games of the 1980s. I would watch it again. And for some reason, Unborn had been on my Netflix recommended list forever with a fairly high rating, but I'd always ignored it. I blame the movie poster. It had a decent, if not predictable, plot and some pretty good acting.
I had meant to close out the preseason with Road Games, something I watched just to see if this was the same film starring Jamie Lee Curtis that I remembered from way back. It was ... is. To be fair, this may be more of a memory trip for me than anything and I admit I gave it an extra half a skull for Jamie, the original teen scream queen.
But I was unable to closeout the preseason with this movie because my daughter posted yet another list. Those damn lists! This one being 31 underrated scary films, and my spawn knew that I couldn't ignore it. So I grabbed a couple more to round out the preseason streaming selections: The House of the Devil and Would You Rather. I gave The House of the Devil 2 skulls and attributed it not to the great acting, but to some pretty good music - I haven't heard The Fixx in a long time. I gave Would You Rather 2½ skulls and put it up there with The Unborn, a long-time movie recommendation with a good rating that I had ignored.
It is the last day of September so I am really finished with the preseason this time. If this list doesn't give you something new to indulge your habit with no more effort than a few clicks of your mobile device, I need you to be a contributor to this blog. There are only two movies on the preseason list that I had never seen before and even though the average skull rating was around 2, I was entertained right to the beginning of October. I continue to be comforted that the genre is very much alive and well.
And now the countdown. Three ... two ... one ...