It’s Halloween soon, so a lot of movie lovers are planning horror marathons for the season. I’ve clearly gone mad, so I figured I would try to suggest the longest endurance test of them all: a
I’ve listed the titles alphabetically, leaving you free to juggle how you’d like to schedule each film. There’s everything here from survival horror to surrealism and from slashers to spoofs. There should be something that’s right up your particular street, plenty of variety along the way, and enough films for you to dip in and tailor a marathon of your own from this selection.
Better Watch Out (89 mins)
This recent Christmas set scarer has built a reputation since screening at Frightfest in 2017, but it had passed me by until earlier this year. I expected something fairly rote; a fun but functional slasher to fill future Christmas horror programmes. In fact, this is a much more inventive film than expected, with excellent performances from Levi Miller and Olivia DeJonge and a
Darling (78 mins)
Mickey Keating’s surreal black and white chiller
The Final Girls (88 mins)
Over the past few
Frostbite (98 mins)
A vampire film set in a region of the world that experiences
Frozen (93 mins)
Director Adam Green is best known for his Hatchet series of slashers, but for
Hounds of Love (108 mins)
For me, serial killer films are the scariest horror gets because they are often the most real it gets, that’s certainly true with this film, based on a real case from Australia. Ben Young’s feature debut is full of imagery that is both evocative and disturbing (look at the stunning opening ten minutes, which are essentially the film in miniature and with very limited dialogue), but his work is matched by that of the actors. Emma Booth, in particular, creates a complex picture of a woman who is capable of acts of horrendous cruelty, but also clearly beaten down and severely damaged. A deeply disturbing film about the evil that just might live next door.
Otis (96 mins)
Veering close to parody at times, this horror comedy doesn’t completely nail its tone, but it does have some gloriously silly moments mixed in with its macabre sense of
Pigs (80 mins)
There’s something special about 70’s grindhouse cinema; a homemade grubbiness that gives even the ones that,
Popcorn (91 mins)
As a fundraiser, a student film society screens a supposedly haunted art horror film as part of a horror marathon. This is perhaps most notable for featuring the often overlooked Jill Schoelen – think an 80s/90s horror Mary Elizabeth Winstead – in one of her best lead roles. It’s fairly predictable, but all executed very well. The films within the film are all dead on parodies of horror subgenres, and there are some extremely striking make up effects. This has been a cult classic for a while, here’s hoping the recent Blu Ray from 88 Films can bring it some overdue notice.
Stir of Echoes (94 mins)
Unfairly overshadowed on release by The Sixth Sense, this is less about a kid ‘seeing dead people’ than the effect that it has on his family and on the wider community. Aside from the horror element of the film, what I appreciate here is the minutiae. The marriage between Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Erbe’s characters is entirely convincing, and we’re invested as his pursuit of answers about what a ghost he believes he saw was trying to tell him begins to fracture their relationship. This extends to the wider community too, with the film having a real sense of place. Stir of Echoes works as a haunting ghost story, but it’s so much more than that too.
Suffer Little Children (74 mins)
I’ll level with you: this is a bad movie. In fact, it’s a very bad movie. It was made on video in 1983 by the members of a London acting school for what appears to be a budget of £3.50. The story is about a mute child who arrives at a children’s home and appears to exert a malign influence over the other children. It turns out she might be the Devil. There are occasionally some moments that are diverting in their extreme weirdness (ZOMBIE PICNIC!), and the largely terrible performances give the film an odd hypnotic pull, but it’s the ending that you have to watch this for. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but trust me, you NEED to see it.
Switchblade Romance (91 mins)
15 years after its release, the film that acted as
The Toolbox Murders  (91 mins)
Tobe Hooper’s video nasty remake bears scant resemblance to the film it’s based on but, after a challenging few years for the director, it found him reinvigorated. Freely moving between chills and some crunchingly nasty violence, Hooper delivers the horror goods, while also extracting a terrific leading performance from Angela Bettis and an interesting supporting turn – miles away from her work on the Buffy TV show – from Juliet Landau. The third act is
The Ugly (90 mins)
As with several of the films I’ve listed here, it’s not that The Ugly is totally obscure, but it certainly deserves to be better known. The typical shorthand is to say it’s New Zealand’s Silence of the Lambs, with a psychiatrist (Rebecca Hobbs) going to examine a serial killer (Paolo Rotondo) to determine whether he is safe for release. Hobbs and Rotondo are both excellent, but it’s writer/director Scott Reynolds who gives his film its own identity. The visions the killer – Simon – has of his victims, through the stylised design and colour scheme of the hospital and exaggerated
Wake Wood (86 mins)
The Witch Who Came From the Sea (88 mins)
There are many great films on the video nasties list (we’ll get to more of them in due course on BANNED!) but this true