Just as expected, October has a fine line-up of horror films that stretch from TV shows and indie darlings to big budget sequels. Starting with the return of Ash vs. Evil Dead, this Halloween season has plenty to offer with an emphasis on the bizarre—The Greasy Strangler promises to be among the standouts this month alongside (and most surprisingly) Syfy’s Channel Zero: Candle Cove, which looks outstanding so far. But before we get started, here’s what I watched in September:
31 (review): Rob Zombie’s latest was a disjointed mess, a film that promised so much and delivered so little. One of the year’s biggest disappointments, unfortunately.
Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 2 (Starz)
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless
Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.
Director: Tom Nagel
Cast: Brian Nagel, Lauren Compton, Andrew Staton
A group of friends get stranded in a seemingly deserted small town and find themselves stalked by a violent gang of psychopaths dressed as clowns.
Phantasm: Ravager (VOD)
Director: David Hartman
Cast: Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin, Kathy Lester
Phantasm: Ravager is an all-new film that brings one of cinema’s longest-running franchises (36 years!) without a reboot to a close, with Mike and Reggie teaming up to confront the dimension-hopping Tall Man once and for all.
The Monster (DirecTV)
Director: Bryan Bertino
Cast: Zoe Kazan, Ella Ballentine, Scott Speedman
A divorced mother and her headstrong daughter must make an emergency late night road trip to see the girl’s father. As they drive through deserted country roads on a stormy night, they suddenly have a startling collision that leaves them shaken but not seriously hurt. Their car, however, is dead, and as they try in vain to get help, they come to realize they are not alone on these desolate backroads – a terrifying evil is lurking in the surrounding woods, intent on never letting them leave…
Goddess of Love (Theaters & VOD)
Director: Jon Knautz
Cast: Alexis Kendra, Woody Naismith, Elizabeth Sandy
A mentally unstable woman begins a volatile descent into madness when she suspects her lover has left her for another woman.
The Greasy Strangler (Theaters & VOD)
Director: Jim Hosking
Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo
Ronnie runs a Disco walking tour with his son, Brayden. When a sexy woman takes the tour, it begins a competition between father and son for her love. It also signals the arrival of an oily strangler who stalks the streets at night.
Under the Shadow (Theaters & VOD)
Director: Babak Anvari
Cast: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi
As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn Tehran of the 1980s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.
Channel Zero: Candle Cove (SyFy)
Director: Craig William Macneill
Cast: Paul Schneider, Fiona Shaw, Natalie Brown
It centers on one man’s obsessive recollection of a mysterious children’s television program from the 1980s – and his ever-growing, dreadful suspicions about the role it might have played in a series of nightmarish and deadly events from his childhood.
She Who Must Burn (VOD)
Director: Larry Kent
Cast: Sarah Smyth, Bart Anderson, Steve Bradley
When Angela refuses to leave her planned-parenthood clinic after it is shut down by the state, a family of fanatical evangelists vow to make her pay.
Jack Goes Home (Theaters & VOD)
Director: Thomas Dekker
Cast: Rory Culkin, Lin Shaye, Nikki Reed
After his father is killed in a car crash, Jack travels home to Colorado to help nurse his mother (who was injured in the crash) back to health. There, he uncovers long buried secrets and lies within his family history, his parents, his friends and his very identity.
Minutes Past Midnight (VOD)
Cast: Jason Flemyng, Barbara Steele, Mika Boorem
As midnight falls, all manner of terror invades the Earth. Demons, cannibals, killers, ghosts and monsters swarm the world in these tales of the supernatural, the fantastic, and the just plain horrific. Featuring nine stories of horror.
Director: Víctor Matellano
Cast: Caroline Munro, Verónica Polo, Marta Flich
Faithful to the sexy, twisted 1974 cult classic by Joseph Larraz, Vampyres is an English-language remake pulsating with raw eroticism, wicked sado-masochism and bloody, creative gore. Victor Matellano directs this tale set in a stately English manor inhabited by two older female vampires and with their only cohabitant being a man imprisoned in the basement. Their lives and lifestyle are upended when a trio of campers come upon their lair and seek to uncover their dark secrets, a decision that has sexual and blood-curdling consequences.
Ouija: Origin of Evil (Theaters)
Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Doug Jones, Henry Thomas
In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by a merciless spirit, the family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.
The Handmaiden (Theaters)
Director: Chan-wook Park
Cast: Min-hee Kim, Kim Tae-ri, Jung-woo Ha
A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.
Fear, Inc. (Theaters & VOD)
Director: Vincent Masciale
Cast: Lucas Neff, Caitlin Stasey, Chris Marquette
A horror junkie and his friends sign up with a company that brings their customer’s greatest fears to life.
The Windmill (VOD)
Director: Nick Jongerius
Cast: Noah Taylor, Charlotte Beaumont, Patrick Baladi
Jennifer is an Australian girl on the run from her past who washes up in Amsterdam. In a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, she joins a coach-load of tourists embarking on a tour of Holland’s world famous windmills. When the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, she and the other tourists are forced to seek shelter in a disused shed beside a sinister windmill where, legend has it, a Devil-worshiping miller once ground the bones of locals instead of grain. As members of the group start to disappear, Jennifer learns that they all have something in common – a shared secret that seems to mark them all for doom.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (Netflix)
Director: Osgood Perkins
Cast: Bob Balaban, Lucy Boynton, Ruth Wilson
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House follows Lily, a young nurse hired to care for elderly Helen Bloom, a best-selling author of ghost stories who has chosen to live out her final days in her beloved country home – a home that holds an horrific ghost story of its own.
What you shouldn’t miss:
We’re lucky to have such a strong month of horror (especially with Halloween just around the corner) because the “shouldn’t miss” titles are very strong—The Handmaiden, Under the Shadow, and Ash vs. Evil Dead all look excellent.
- Chan-wook Park, the brilliant mind behind Stoker (one of my favorite movies), is back with another stunner in The Handmaiden. Since making its festival debut, Park’s thriller has been met with nothing but the highest of praise—if that doesn’t sell you, this trailer will.
- Perhaps one of the most talked about horror movies of the year (critics have been raving about it since Sundance), Babak Anvari’s haunting Under the Shadow looks entirely wicked and no doubt worthy of the praise.
- This one speaks for itself—last year’s debut season of Ash vs. Evil Dead was easily the most entertaining thing on television, bringing groovy Ash back into the fray in the bloodiest of fashion. Season 2 promises the same deadite-slaying perfection and it’s not to be missed!
What you should take a chance on:
There’s a lot to digest here because so much of what’s coming out this month could potentially be great. SyFy, as strange as it is, could be the biggest surprise with its new anthology series Channel Zero: Candle Cove. But beyond that we have The Greasy Strangler, Ouija: Origins of Evil, and Goddess of Love.
- Channel Zero: Candle Cove is a new anthology series from SyFy (in the vein of American Horror Story) that so far looks fantastic (and super creepy). Their secret weapon is Nick Antosca (Hannibal) who will be spearheading the show—the dude is super talented and I’m excited to see where he goes with Channel Zero.
- The Greasy Strangler hardly needs an introduction (just google it)—if you’re into some expertly weird shit and want to see a movie that promises to be unlike anything else this year, then you’ve got to check this one out.
- I’m just as surprised as you are to see Ouija: Origins of Evil on this list but bear with me here—I’m saying you might want to take a chance on this one only because Mike Flanagan is directing and that’s gotta count for something. While I’m on the fence, if anyone can deliver a solid sequel to one of 2014’s worst movies, it’s probably Flanagan.
- I actually had the chance to see Goddess of Love a while ago and was pleasantly surprised by its straightforward narrative about a woman’s damaged mind—the film goes to some dark places and it was wonderful to see Jon Knautz back behind the camera (he directed the wickedly fun Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer).
Which film are you looking forward to the most?
Although I’m 1000% positive that no theater near me will be playing it, I’m going with The Handmaiden. If I’m being practical, however, I gotta go with Ash vs. Evil Dead as a close second, though.