61 Days of Halloween
61 Days of Halloween

Last year, I wrote about my annual 31 Days of Halloween "challenge." I suppose, when I started the practice, it was a challenge. Watching 31 movies in so many days can be a difficult undertaking. That's why I expanded the timeline to include September and October. With the expanded timeline, the number of movies I watched grew as well. Why? Because it became less of a challenge.

In years past I've drawn from a planning list, filtering by what's currently available to stream. I add to this list throughout the year as I come across horror movies I'd like to see. I remove films from this list as they are watched in accordance with the rules of the challenge.

The rules are simple:
😱 Watch at least 31 previously unwatched horror movies.
👻 Mix it up by watching different subgenres and franchises.
🧟‍♂️ Roll over the remainder to next year's planning list!

I've become pretty comfortable with this format. It's easy to pull by mood. The drawback to this is that the final list ends up featuring pockets of similar flicks.

Taking last year as an example, I watched a lot of great movies. But I also played it safe and gave up too many spots to multiples within franchises. In addition to the entire Terrifier franchise (comprised by an anthology, two shorts, and two films), I logged a whopping six Scooby-Doo movies. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that. They're all movies I've not seen before, but it's a stark example of how unchallenging this yearly tradition has become. This year I'm changing it up.

My planning list for 2023 on Letterboxd.

What's different?

This year, I decided to pre-draft my list. It took some more work to hunt down the movies on my list, but I want to watch more good movies this year (with a few bad sprinkled in for good measure).

To start, I added all of the unwatched horror flicks from the critics lists on my stats page. This includes the Letterboxd and IMDb Top 250, Box Office Mojo All Time 100, and a few more. From there I alternated between my watchlist and planning list to fill out 61 days. I used a loose array of categories to keep the assortment varied. Those are found in this list's notes.

This list also includes the 7 horror flicks from this year's Movie Draft that are scheduled within my 61 Days window. Last year I counted these as part of my 61 Days. This year they are represented in the list, but as additions. They are found at the end of this list and their draft categories are denoted as well. This brings this year's total to 68 horror movies.

Edit: Mae threw a wrench into the works on day 2 by putting on Ghost Ship, so any unplanned horror flicks will be thrown into the end of the list as well.

Some stats:

  • 12 foreign countries, including Japan (8), Czech Republic (3), Italy (3), France (2),  UK (2), Sweden (2), Canada (2), Germany (2), South Korea, Chile, Austria, and Hong Kong.
  • 12 foreign languages, including Czech, Italian, French, Japanese, Swedish, Spanish, Latin, German, Cantonese, Chinese, Korean, and Tagalog
  • Decades: 1920s (1), 1930s (2), 1950s (3), 1960s (6), 1970s (14), 1980s (14), 1990s (6), 2000s (7), 2010s (11), 2020s (5)
  • 38 films previously existed on my Letterboxd watchlist.

I'm very excited about this list. Like years past, I gave Mae a few picks for us to watch together. Reviewing my favorites from last year, it's clear my tastes lay in the past. As such, there is a definite emphasis on "classics" planned for this cycle. I'll watch through the thrillers first, saving the ghost stories and more specifically spooky entries for October.

Keep tuned to this post for updates on my favorites as I watch. Check out all of my previous 31 Days of Halloween lists on Letterboxd.

2023 Favorites

King Kong (1933), dir. Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

King Kong (1933)

I'm continuing to catch up on Hollywood's horror classics. Like Frankenstein last year, I'm sure I've seen some portion of this in the past. Still, taking it all in from start to finish was a new experience. Some of the great ape's facial expressions are a little corny today, but the effects and romance of its time hold up well.

Side note: Humans suck.  

Cure (1997), dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Cure (1997)

I love a good thriller, particularly a detective story. Cure captures the horrific intrigue of Se7en with a layer of the supernatural, which is actually grounded in theoretical psychology. The result is a masterful mystery with mood and pace perfected.

The way this movie reveals the mystery in stages is methodical and brilliant. All the while we learn more about our protagonist and the concerns he has at home. I love when a detective builds a relationship with their suspect, making them a mirror for their own problems. Cure pushes this in profound new ways. Those Kurosawa blokes know how to make movies. Even the credits are cool.

Not only is this one of my favorites in the challenge or in the noir category, it's jumped right to the top my Japanese films list. It's clear how this has influenced some of my favorite Korean filmmakers like Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho. Memories of Murder is absolutely being watched by year's end. Beyond that, I can't wait to revisit this down the line.

Bone Tomahawk (2015), dir. S. Craig Zahler

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

I believe this to be the first western picture in the history of my marathon. There aren't a whole lot of western horrors, but I'd love to see more like this.

The conceit of the film is that a sadistic tribe of cannibal natives abduct two members of a small western town and a small band of rescuers pursue. The sheriff, his aging but affable deputy, a smarmy gunslinger, and a critically injured cattle man whose wife was one of the white people taken make up the party. Desert hijinks ensue.

What the movie is about, however, are small acts of kindness in dark places. Richard Jenkins' character is a joy to spend time with and the plot is more than serviceable with some really neat ideas when it comes to the troglodyte tribe.

I Saw The Devil (2010), dir. Kim Jee-woon

I Saw The Devil (2010)

It's no surprise that the one South Korean film on my list left its mark. I've left I Saw The Devil unwatched for far too long. If I'm not mistaken, this has been one of the longest kept movies on my Letterboxd watchlist. Checking it off feels as gratifying as the movie was.

Devil bears similarities to Cure in that they are detective stories centered around a serial killer and personal revenge. The difference is in the method the detective takes to find the killer and the trail of violence left behind the hunt.

Detestable as Kyung-chul is, he's played so masterfully by Choi Min-sik that I found myself occasionally convinced that he should be the subject of my pity.

More to come.