This is my attempt at Horrotober ‘23. I’ve selected 31 movies that I’m hoping to find the time to watch.
1. Friday the 13th (1980)
I’ve never watched the Friday the 13th movies back to back (to back to back…), so this year we’re starting with the classic franchise since I bought the first eight in a collection. Friday the 13th introduces us to Camp Crystal Lake in 1958, where a couple of camp counselors get murdered by some unseen slasher before jumping us to the present, in 1980. Here we follow a group of camp counselors attempting to re-open Camp Crystal Lake only to be taken out one by one - again by an unseen slasher. The effects here hold up pretty well: an arrow through the neck of Kevin Bacon (!!), an axe to the face, etc. The reveal is part of what makes this movie so iconic and stand out among an entire franchise built around a machete-wielding maniac in a hockey mask.
More fascinating tidbits about Friday the 13th over here @ Cinemablend.
2. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Part 2 picks up 5 years after the events of the first movie (the first 5-6 minutes is literally footage from the first movie). With a new camp is opening next to where Camp Crystal Lake was, the formula is in place! This time there’s a new killer in town, wearing what looks like a pillow case on his head. No counselors are safe!
3. Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
Part 3 is a decent installment in the franchise. We’ve got some good kills/effects, and while much of the music is the same, it does stand out as an improvement in part 3 (the intro music especially). This also marks the first time we see Jason in the iconic hockey mask. This time we find a group of teenagers who take a trip to a house near Camp Crystal Lake. Hackin’ and slashin’ ensues.
4. Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter (1984)
At this point we really can’t expect much for actual story. But since this is the “final chapter” in the franchise, we can expect some sort of closure, right?? Jason, as it turns out, is not actually dead from that axe to the face in Part 3. He was only pretending to be dead, for the cops and crime scene investigators and resting up during his ride in the ambulance to the morgue. Once rested, he rises from the dead to wreak havoc once again.
There isn’t really anything memorable about this installment aside from the introduction of young Tommy Jarvis, who will be a returning character in later movies.
5. Friday the 13th - A New Beginning (1985)
Did you think Jason was dead? Because he’s back…maybe? Tommy Jarvis, still traumatized by his encounter with Jason Voorhees, is sent to a halfway house. As you might expect, people around him start to die off one by one. This time we end up with a copycat killer, and a clue as to the next installment’s killer, and the series is starting to feel a little chaotic. But - there are some funny side characters in this one, so it’s fairly entertaining as far as the franchise goes.
6. Friday the 13th Part VI - Jason Lives (1986)
If you’re watching these back to back, the first thing you notice here is a new actor playing Tommy Jarvis. This is quite jarring, however the opening of this movie is one of the few I remember most. Seeing Jason exhumed from his grave and then ⚡️⚡️⚡️ back to life (right after getting his mask back!) is wild. I enjoyed this one quite a bit more than I expected to, and the ending is pretty iconic.
7. Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood (1988)
I don’t have much to say about this one. I have zero memory of seeing this one before, but from this awesome poster above, I had hoped for better. This was probably the most bored I’ve been in the series so far and I had trouble paying attention. A girl with telekenetic powers awakens Jason at the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake. He kills people again and then ends up in the bottom of the lake again.
8. Friday the 13th Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
This is the last F13 movie for me, for a while (I’m limited to the movies I own and the others aren’t streaming currently so this is it for now). Jason, as you might expect, is awakened from the bottom of the lake (again). This time he climbs aboard a boat near Manhattan and continues his rampage.
9. The Exorcist (1973)
The the recent release of The Exorcist: Believer, I knew I’d better fit this 1973 classic into my lineup. Often referred to as the best/scariest horror movie of all time, it still holds up and is as unsettling as ever.
10. Happy Death Day (2017)
I saw Happy Death Day a few years ago, and remember enjoying it but couldn’t remember the ending. I think it was referenced in one of the many podcasts I listen to and it got me thinking about it again. I love this movie. The “Groundhog Day” / time-loop premise is really interesting and I never found myself getting bored (which was refreshing after all the Friday the 13th movies).
11. The Exorcist: Believer (2023)
The Exorcist: Believer was fairly disappointing to me. Having re-watched the original, I had high hopes, but was skeptical. Some really odd choices took me out of this one but it was a fun theater experience. You’ll really gain an appreciation for the original with this one.
12. X (2022)
I had seen X once before but wanted to re-watch before seeing the prequel, Pearl. Made in 2022, but set in 1979, this is a genuinely creepy movie. I love the vintage, 70s vibe and it really feels like like an homage to the old school horror movies of the 70s and 80s. Here we follow an excellent cast as they set out to make a “good” dirty movie on a remote farm in Texas, but get a bit more than they bargain for with the elderly couple who live there.
13. Pearl (2022)
This was another first for me. I knew very little about Pearl prior to watching, aside from it being a prequel to X. Right off the bat, we have Mia Goth again playing a nearly identical character to Maxine in X: a young woman who will stop at nothing to become a star. This time, though, the movie focuses entirely on Goth’s character and she is fantastic. I’m definitely looking forward to MaXXXine.
14. The Fall of the House of Usher (2023)
I can’t say too much about this yet, as I’m only a few episodes in, but since that has added up to multiple hours of entertainment, I’m including it here as something I watched. I’m really enjoying this so far and can’t wait to see where it goes.
15. Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023)
FNAF was a sort of spontaneous decision once I found out it was streaming early on Peacock. I’m familiar with the games, but never played them (so I didn’t know anything about the story going in). The main character (Peeta from the Hunger Games) maybe didn’t have the range for this or maybe that’s just him - but he felt a bit lifeless here. Matthew Lillard was a nice surprise. All in all - had fun, and would be highly recommended for a younger audience.
16. Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
Getting the most out of my temporary Peacock subscription, I decided to watch the sequel to Happy Death Day. I wasn’t sure how they could keep this story going but the multiverse angle worked well (for me). This is one of those rare occasions where the sequel is just as good, if not better, than the first. Really enjoyed this one.
17. The Thing (1982)
The Thing is one of those highly-regarded classics I’d never gotten to. I’d seen bits and pieces and knew the general story but never sat down and watched it start to finish. About 1/3 of the way through I felt a little bored, as it starts slow. This is probably where my attention faded on previous viewings. I’m really glad I powered through for this viewing - the 2nd half of this movie is wild. The gore and body horror is over-the-top and gross and I loved every minute. Highly recommend this one.
18. Halloween (1978)
It wouldn’t be Halloween without finishing out the month with the best. This is one I always come back to and never seem to get tired of. This movie is one of the first horror movies I ever watched, probably too young, at a birthday party in elementary school, and is likely part of the reason I love horror movies so much today. The franchise as a whole definitely has its duds, and don’t even get me started on Halloween Ends, but the 1978 classic (and it’s sequel) still hold up remarkably well.
I obviously didn’t get to 31 movies this month. That’s a tough thing to do with kids, work, and life in general, but 18 movies is pretty solid in my book. There are several movies I didn’t get to, some I’ve seen and others I haven’t, but those will have to wait another day. It’s not like I don’t watch horror movies year round.