The List: March 2019 Catchup

The Highlights

Tetsuo, The Iron Man (1989, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Japan) 

A fever dream of body horror. Really captures an anxiety about your body betraying you and being invaded.

Thirst (1979, Rod Hardy, Australia)

A paranoid drama about a cult trying to make a woman a vampire through forced medical procedures and psychological conditioning. Plays on a fear of medical institutions, which makes for an interesting look back to 40 years ago.

The Eclipse (2009, Conor McPherson, Ireland)

Beautiful and muted drama about two haunted people starting a friendship. It separates the scares and the horror to really pull some emotional punches.

Macabre (2009, Kimo Stamboel & Timo Tjahjanto, Singapore)

Real juicy splatterfest with a magnetic matriarch of a cannibal murder house. The directors have since become masters of action directing, and their ability to manipulate the tension of a scene shines here.

Us (2019, Jordan Peele, USA)

Peele makes a loving homage to past horror movies while he continues to pull the genre forward. Pivots hard a couple times, touching on a lot of genres, but has a strong core analogy and some impeccable horror sequences.

The Sixth Sense (1999, M. Night Shyamalan, USA)

This was my first time watching it since its release, and wow. This delivers in every capacity.

The Rest

  • When a Stranger Calls (1979, Fred Walton, USA)
  • Fascination (1979, Jean Rollin, France)
  • Zombie (1979, Lucio Fulci, Italy)
  • Phobia 2 (2009; Banjong Pisanthanakun, Visute Poolvoralaks, Paween Purikitpanya, Songyos Sugmakanan, Parkpoom Wongpoom; Thailand)
  • The Unborn (2009, David S. Goyer, USA)
  • The Descent: Part 2 (2009, Jon Harris, UK)
  • Son of Frankenstein (1939, Rowland V. Lee, USA)
  • The Terror Within (1989, Thierry Notz, USA)
  • Grave Robbers (1989, Rubén Galindo Jr., Mexico)
  • Halloween 2 (2009, Rob Zombie, USA)
  • Vacations Of Terror 2 (1989, Pedro Galindo III, Mexico)
  • Hell’s Trap (1989, Pedro Galindo III, Mexico)

The List: February 2019 Catchup

Through 2018 and early 2019, I gave different themes to each month and would sort movies into those. October was Sequels and Remakes, November was Current-Year Catchup, and December was Old Favs; February is Women in Horror Month, so I listed all the movies directed by women and dove into them in February. The XXX9 list has quite a few:

By the end of the month, I realized that the remainder of the list was even more predominantly men, and so I gave up on the monthly themes at that point. It’s more important anyway to just watch what I feel like watching.

The Highlights

Drag Me to Hell (2009, Sam Raimi, USA)

A woman is cursed and endures gross slapstick horror (it’s a Raimi movie after all). Great performance by Alison Lohman. I remember when it came out, people wanted more Evil Dead and Raimi’s return to horror wasn’t appreciated as much as it is nowadays.

Pet Semetary (1989, Mary Lambert, USA)

Eerie Stephen King adaptation that wallows in grief. As effective as ever.

Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird, Czech Republic)

Chilling, slightly goofy, fully homoerotic battle between white settler cannibals on the frontier.

Horror Noire (2019, Xavier Burgin, USA)

Documentary on the history of Black horror, with Get Out as the final bookend. Essential for any horror fan.

Jennifer’s Body (2009, Karyn Kusama, USA)

A young woman is possessed and kills her male classmates, while her friend struggles with the change in their relationship. Looking back, this movie called bullshit on people’s maligning of Megan Fox. Sure this movie was unfairly dismissed, but I still haven’t seen enough of a reckoning on Fox’s behalf.

Celia (1989, Ann Turner, Australia)

Slow, character-focused movie that takes the time to weave Australian history and the adults’ political crisis into a girl’s story.

I want to tell you what happens as a way of recommending Celia, but that wouldn’t be nice. That aside, this felt like an old live-action Disney movie, up until the movie had me screaming for blood. This is a horror movie right?! Please tell me this is a horror movie!

Don’t Look Back (2009, Marina de Van, France)

A writer struggles with disassociation and memories that betray her.

Don’t Look Back does something I’ve never seen before: it swaps out actors for the same characters to represent the protagonist’s disassociation. I think it’s obvious why this is a risky thing for a movie to do, but Don’t Look Back is dedicated enough—not lifting its head out of the protagonist’s psyche—to pull it off.

The Rest

  • House on Haunted Hill (1959, William Castle, USA)
  • The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999, Katt Shea & Robert Mandel, USA)
  • Family Demons (2009, Ursula Dabrowsky, Australia)
  • The Revenant (2009, D. Kerry Prior, USA)
  • Amer (2009, Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, France)
  • Blood & Donuts (1989*, Holly Dale, Canada)
    • *Blood & Donuts is listed as being released in 1995 almost everywhere I’ve looked, but IMDB lists an original festival release in ’89. So for the purposes of my list, I go with ’89.
  • Kill By Inches (1999, Diane Doniol-Valcroze & Arthur K. Flam, USA)
  • The Countess (2009, Julie Delpy, France)
  • Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009, Jen & Sylvia Soska, Canada)

The List: January 2019 Catchup

Here’s the first in a series of catch-up posts listing the movies I watched each month in 2019. The highlights are the new discoveries that struck me, the ones that I couldn’t stop thinking about, my recommendations, or my favs.

The Highlights

Alien (1979, Ridley Scott, UK)

Title screen of Alien

A crew brings an unknown lifeform aboard their ship and get killed one by one.

I need a term for the movie on year’s list that is the most important to me–my favorite, my darling, best in show. Anyway I hit play on Alien at 12:01 on January 1.

The Loved Ones (2009, Sean Byrne, Australia)

Title screen of The Loved Ones

A teenage girl kidnaps a schoolmate and tortures him. I’ve heard this called torture porn, but this movie is so much more; it’s about the relationships we inherit and the ones we (try to) make ourselves. It isn’t easy to watch, but if you’re sold on the poster (teen in a pink dress and paper crown, pointing a drill at the camera), it’s very much worth your time.

Thirst (2009, Park Chan-wook, South Korea)

A priest tries to hold on to his ethics after becoming a vampire. A very different twist on the genre.

Antichrist (2009, Lars von Trier, Denmark)

A husband and wife in the throes of grief destroy each other in a secluded cabin. I was excited to see this, although I was aware of what I was getting into; that said, being aware of it can’t prepare you. Saying it’s a hard watch is an understatement.

I was reading Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch at this time, and her history of the witch trials as medieval enclosures sure put this movie into perspective.

Sweet Home (1989, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan)

Haunted house with some real phenomenal practical effects.

For those unaware, it’s the movie companion to the game of the same name (same writer worked with the directors of each and helped adapt his story to the different media). The game is one of the primary inspirations for Resident Evil, often being credited with the birth of survival horror.

Dogtooth (2009, Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece)

Three siblings are raised in an enclave, in which they are abused and lied to about the real world.

I can’t say this about a lot of movies, even the really heavy ones, but: I felt sick at the end of Dogtooth. That’s a testament to its brilliance and effectiveness. It succeeded in putting me into the heads of these kids who see the world in a completely twisted way due to the abuse and gaslighting they suffer, and I needed time to come back to real life. Highly recommended if you like slow, disturbing character studies.

Audition (1999, Takashi Miike, Japan)

Infamous torture movie in which a man tries to find love under false pretenses and finds the exact wrong person. It was a movie that I’d heard so much about, I felt like I’d already seen it. I was surprised by the non-horror first half, which runs abruptly into the terrifying telephone scene, and then morphs into the movie I’d heard about.

The Blair Witch Project (1999, Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez, USA)

Found-footage search for a local mythical witch that revitalized the genre. I’d never seen this! It really really works. Watching it felt like telling scary stories to your friends.

The Rest

  • The Visitor (1979, Giulio Paradisi, Italy)
  • Horrors Of Malformed Men (1969, Teruo Ishii, Japan)
  • Santa Sangre (1989, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Italy/Mexico)
  • Killer Nun (1979, Giulio Berruti, Italy)
  • Triangle (2009, Christopher Smith, UK/Australia)
  • Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959, Riccardo Freda, Italy)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959, Terence Fisher, UK)
  • Stigmata (1999, Rupert Wainwright, USA)
  • Memento Mori (1999, Tae-yong Kim & Kyu-dong Min, South Korea)
  • Deepstar Six (1989, Sean S. Cunningham, USA)
  • Leviathan (1989, George P. Cosmatos, USA)
  • End of Days (1999, Peter Hyams, USA)
  • The Brood (1979, David Cronenberg, Canada)
  • Existenz (1999, David Cronenberg, Canada)
  • The Man They Could Not Hang (1939, Nick Grindé, USA)
  • The Butterfly Murders (1979, Hark Tsui, Hong Kong)
  • Pandorum (2009, Christian Alvart, Germany)
  • The Amityville Horror (1979, Stuart Rosenberg, USA)
  • The Gorilla (1939, Allan Dwan, USA)
  • Idle Hands (1999, Rodman Flender, USA)
  • Tourist Trap (1979, David Schmoeller, USA)
  • The Giant Behemoth (1959, Douglas Hickox & Eugène Lourié, UK)

XXX8 Recap

I started this list in July 2018, and in those 6 months I watched 104 movies from the list. It was definitely a proof of concept for me—I exposed myself to a lot of foreign horror and movies forgotten by the mainstream, and I really enjoyed watching them.

There were two unexpected benefits of using the list: 1) It helped get me past the choice paralysis that often eats up a lot of my time; and 2) Because I’m watching these from a mindset of curiosity, I’m not bothered by “bad” movies—what I came to call the List Immunity. I’m happy to say I never once felt like I’d wasted my time, which otherwise happens when I’m emotionally invested in the expectation of a movie to entertain me.

For now I’ll just post what I watched from 2018’s list; if I want to highlight movies later I’ll do that in separate posts.

2018

  • A Quiet Place
  • Annihilation
  • Apostle
  • Cam
  • Hereditary
  • Mandy
  • Summer of 84
  • Suspiria
  • The Cloverfield Paradox
  • The Night Eats the World
  • Unsane

2008

  • Alien Raiders
  • Cloverfield
  • Coming Soon
  • Deadgirl
  • Doomsday
  • Eden Lake
  • I Sell the Dead
  • Lake Mungo
  • Left Bank
  • Let the Right One In
  • Long Weekend
  • Martyrs
  • Mirrors
  • One Missed Call
  • Pontypool
  • Quarantine
  • Sauna
  • Splinter
  • Surveillance
  • The Midnight Meat Train
  • The Ruins
  • The Strangers
  • Untraceable

1998

  • Blade
  • Bride of Chucky
  • Deep Rising
  • Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
  • Phantasm IV: Oblivion
  • Phantoms
  • Ringu
  • Serial Experiments Lain
  • Sombre
  • Sphere
  • The Faculty
  • The Quiet Family
  • Tomie
  • Urban Ghost Story
  • Urban Legend
  • Vampires
  • Whispering Corridors

1988

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
  • Child’s Play
  • Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters
  • Dead Ringers
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space
  • Monkey Shines
  • Night of the Demons
  • Phantasm II
  • Pumpkinhead
  • Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama
  • Tales from the Gimli Hospital
  • The Blob
  • The Brain
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow
  • The Vanishing
  • They Live
  • Vampire’s Kiss

1978

  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Empire of Passion
  • Eyes of Laura Mars
  • Halloween
  • I Spit on Your Grave
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • Jaws 2
  • Long Weekend
  • Magic
  • Martin
  • Piranha
  • The Fury

1968

  • Destroy All Monsters
  • Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
  • Genocide
  • Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell
  • Hour of the Wolf
  • Kuroneko
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Spirits of the Dead
  • The Devil Rides Out
  • The Green Slime
  • Witchfinder General

1958

  • Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
  • Fiend Without a Face
  • Horror of Dracula
  • I Married a Monster from Outer Space
  • The Blob
  • The Fly
  • The Haunted Strangler
  • The Revenge of Frankenstein

1948

  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

About the List

What is the list?

Decades of Horror is my list of horror movies that were released in years ending with the last digit of the current year—for example 2009, 1999, 1989, and so on. See the list for yourself here.

What are my goals for the list?

I want to explore lesser known horror movies and to discover hidden gems that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. I also want to get a bird’s-eye view of trends and landmarks through the decades.

How do I decide what goes on the list?

I start with IMDB’s advanced search tools, which allow me to filter movies by release year, genre, and other criteria that are useful for the list (here’s an example). Afterward I add anything that doesn’t meet the IMDB search criteria but I feel belongs on the list. There are a lot more gray areas than I expected, so it was necessary to pick some rules for the list to follow.

Genre: What counts as horror? I want to cast a wide net here, so here’s the definition I use: Any movie with the “horror” tag on IMDB, or any movie that anyone has made a case for being or celebrating horror. Super vague, but it serves the list.

Year: How do I determine release dates? They can be tricky, with different resources listing different years for the same movie. Often horror movies have limited festival releases in the fall and aren’t widely released until the following spring. So here’s where I just had to pick a rule and stick with it: I go by what IMDB says, which is when the movie entered the world. Movies are released into specific times and places, and that context is important to me, not when it was released in American theaters or streaming services.

Popularity/Rating: Do I include every movie that meets the criteria? There would be way too many, so I use IMDB’s filters for number of votes and IMDB rating. I set a minimum number of votes, depending on how many total movies there are for that year. Then I do a second search that includes movies with a 5.5 or higher rating below the minimum number of votes, down to a smaller minimum.

What are my rules for watching?

I have none. I watch what I want, and I don’t have to watch anything I don’t want to.

How do I watch?

Many movies are available streaming for free through sites like Kanopy, Hoopla, Tubi, and Vudu. I also have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and most importantly, Shudder. I am also blessed to live in Seattle and have access to Scarecrow Video, which has their impressive Psychotronic Room. Finally, JustWatch is an indispensable tool for finding movies across streaming services; I take the time to add every movie on the list to my JustWatch watchlist, which I can filter to show only movies available on my streaming services.

What’s my purpose for this blog?

First, to present and explain the list. Second, to archive and comment on what I’ve watched, as much for myself as for whatever audience I may have.