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Every October people everywhere get into the Halloween spirit. For some this means pumpkin spice flavored drinks, for others this means designing their Halloween costumes, and for others, this means horror movie marathons. Halloween is the time that people are in the mood to be scared witless which is why they flock to haunted mazes, haunted hayrides, do seances, and dress up to scare other people.
A lot of people ask me for my opinions on what to watch this time of year so to avoid recommending movies many of you have already watched or typically watch this time of year, I thought I would design a unique movie list that people do not usually do. This watch list has twelve entries on it, one for each month of the year. It will scare you, give you chills, but most of all, each entry will remind you of the selected month. I made sure to include movies from the various horror subgenres to ensure the list is diverse to appeal to a wide audience.
With all that out of the way, let's get into the list!
January - Winter
Starting the list and representing my birth month is 30 Days of Night. 30 Days of Night takes place in a small town that experiences the titular month long night, as they prepare for the night a ship arrives with a group of vampires onboard. The people of the town must fend off the vampires for the month and wait for the sun to rise so they can make their escape.
If you live in a state that experiences the full brunt of winter then you can agree with how spot on the title is for describing the doldrums of winter. During the holiday season, the snow and cold add to the holiday vibe, but after New Years it seems to stretch on without end. 30 Days of Night nails this feeling before upping the ante by giving us a pressing reason to want the sun to rise, it is a case of life or death for the characters who need the sun to help them escape the vampires who invaded their town.
Special shoutout to those of you reading this article anywhere that experiences nights that last for weeks. Just be wary of any large groups of people that arrive on derelict boats as the sun sets...
February - Valentine's Day
Moving to February and Valentine's Day is The Strangers. A story about a couple whose love has soured after a failed marriage proposal, The Strangers takes a turn and delves into the horror territory when the couple it is following is beset by masked assailants. The couple soon finds the assailants have disabled their phones and vehicles and must fight for survival as they try to fend off their attackers.
The Strangers does not pull any punches, it opts instead to build the tension and suspense from the get-go with great moments such as the moment shown above. Liv Tyler's character is standing in the kitchen when we see one of the assailants emerge in the background and silently stare at her. It is a tense scene and one that showcases what is in store for not only the characters, but for us the audience as well.
I have much fondness for The Strangers, I convinced my sister who does not like horror movies to take me to see it. She spent much of the second and third acts with her eyes shielded or her face buried in her boyfriend's shoulder. I appreciate that she took me to see it, sorry I insisted on seeing a movie that traumatized you, Danielle!
March - Easter
I am so going to Hell for this one, worth it. For the Easter slot, I have decided to invert the holiday dedicated to the death and resurrection of the son of God by selecting a movie about the conception and birth of the child of Satan. Again, I know I am going to Hell, so there is no need sending me emails to tell me.
Rosemary's Baby centers around a young couple as they begin their life together. They are warned by a friend not to move into their new apartment due to the neighbors, but they ignore his warnings and move in anyway. The elderly neighbors take an interest in Rosemary, but she has misgivings, especially as strange things begin to happen. Rosemary has a dream that she is raped by a demonic being and soon after discovers she is pregnant. As the pregnancy advances, her paranoia increases until the truth is revealed.
A true horror classic, Rosemary's Baby's religious themes, and its iconic revelation scene make it the ideal horror movie for the Easter slot on this list. Good luck looking at any pregnant woman the same way after watching this movie.
April - Spring Break
Next is the April and Spring Break slot which goes to Hostel. Hostel is often cited as one of the films that led to the modern torture porn subgenre of horror to find its footing, and for good reason. It made waves as critics were quick to denounce its violent content and gore.
Hostel follows a group of friends as they travel across Europe. After being locked out of their hotel they are taken in by a local living nearby who tells them of a town with beautiful and desperate women. The friends set out for the town and find it as their host had described it. They enjoy the town, but one by one become separated from each other. Unbeknownst to the group, it was all trap to lure tourists in for a disturbing reason.
Spring break, a time for relaxation, unwinding, and for many, it is a time to travel and visit new and exciting places. What better movie to watch to get us in the mood to travel and party than Hostel, a film about a group of friends traveling through Europe tricked into visiting a hostel with a deadly secret? Moral of the story; always check the online reviews people!!
May - Prom
Bringing another horror classic onto the list is the May slot which I dedicated to prom, so there was no other choice but Carrie for this one. A cautionary tale about not pushing others too far which climaxes at the prom, Carrie remains one of the staples of the horror genre over 40 years after it was released.
The story of the ostracized Carrie White, she is panic-stricken when she has her first period and seeks help from her peers who cruelly bully her instead. The gym teacher intervenes and helps Carrie and punishes the others for their act causing one to seek revenge. Meanwhile, Carrie attempts to escape the grasp of her zealot mother while exploring her telekinetic powers. She is invited to the prom as an act of kindness, but things turn when her vengeful peer plays a cruel practical joke on Carrie who then unleashes her telekinetic powers.
Carrie is the quintessential prom horror movie and one of the great teen horror movies of all times. It defined horror for a generation and endures to this day in a genre that is quick to churn out new films in rapid succession. And let's be honest, it still freaks me out when someone starts yelling "They're all going to laugh at you!!"
June - Summer
Moving into June and to the Summer slot, we come to 2017's It. The story about a group of kids who have separate run-ins with a creature that inhabits and oppresses their small town. Their encounters with the creature bring them together as they overcome their individual adversities and commit to taking down the creature once and for all. The group succeeds in defeating the creature before agreeing to reunite if the creature ever reappears.
2017's It is the definition of a summer horror, it is about kids finding friends, having adventures, battling a shapeshifting demon clown, typical kid stuff. We get to see the kids grow as they face their adversities and overcome the creature, becoming stronger and maturer in the process.
I remember reading other people's feelings toward 2017's It before the movie came out, a lot of people seemed to be excited to have an R-rated modernized adaptation of the classic novel, but were also hesitant because it was a horror remake and King adaptations could be hits or colossal misses. Our fears were misplaced, 2017's It was a hit and earns this slot.
July - 4th of July
Representing the July/4th of July slot is Jaws, which is a simple tale of a man with aquaphobia who takes up residence on an island. He is faced with an imposing adversary in the form of an abnormally large great white shark that begins to wreak havoc on the island attacking anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in its path. After a too close for comfort encounter between the shark and his son, the man enlists two others to help him kill the shark. The shark does not go down willingly leading to an explosive climax.
Jaws is the little movie that very nearly did not happen. Filming went over schedule and over budget, the mechanical shark malfunctioned, actors fought on set, and the studio was close to pulling the plug. Let us all be thankful they did not, the sharpest steel is forged in fire, and all this turmoil produced one of the staples of the horror genre.
Bruce's outing nails the criteria for the 4th of July slot, it is set on the fourth, it is centered on the beach, and it prominently features characters getting drunk. I know many of you will take offense to the lack of patriotism in my choice, but it does accurately show how many celebrate the holiday. So what better choice for a horror movie to represent the 4th of July than Jaws?
August - Back to School
Going into August and the Back to School slot is The Faculty, a film about a small American town whose teens begin to notice the adults acting out of character. At the same time, they find small strange creatures around the high school where the strange occurrences seem to be centered around. They soon discover that not only are the two related but are the early stages of an alien invasion that they must stop before it spreads to the rest of the world.
August is a month when kids everywhere groan as their summer vacation is drawing to a close and the inevitability of the beginning of school looming before them. A sci-fi/horror mashup that is dedicated to an alien invasion spearheaded by a group of high school faculty members, could The Faculty be any better a choice for the horror movie to represent August/Back to School?
The Faculty was one of the first horror movies I watched, can't remember what was the first but it was up there with Wes Craven's New Nightmare, Aliens, and Scream. It is often overlooked now except by those who want a dose of 90s nostalgia, The Faculty will make you hope that school will stay out forever. Great, now I got that song stuck in my head.
September - Autumn
Falling into fall, I am already regretting that statement, but it has been said, so we're going to go with it. We come to the September, and for the Autumn slot, I have selected Children of the Corn, a story of a small town in the Midwest which was normal until one day the children slaughtered all of the adults. The children lived under the leadership of an apocalyptic prophet who follows an entity. The community remains mostly undisturbed until a couple becomes lost, ends up in the town, and discovers the children and their cult. The couple must fight for their lives as they attempt to escape the cult or defeat their murderous leaders.
If I say September or Autumn, you would most likely think of cold nights, apple cider, corn mazes, or pumpkin spice. With there being no horror movie based on pumpkin spice, yet, I could not think of a better movie for the Autumn slot. Side note, how horrible does Pumpkin Spiced and Diced sound? Moving back onto topic, Children of the Corn fits the Autumn slot perfectly. It is centered around a corn-focused cult, never thought I would say that statement and has several long sequences set in cornfields.
To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with Children of the Corn; I first watched it at my cousins' house which is surrounded by... cornfields. Yeah, I was petrified when my father picked us up that night. I remember bolting for the car and begging for us to go. Twenty years later, I am still hesitant to watch the movie, which is why I believe it is the perfect choice for this slot.
October - Halloween
I am sure several people just choked on their tea as they read this. That is right, I gave the October and Halloween slot to Trick 'r Treat and did not include Halloween on this list. Make your insinuations about my mother in the comments below. Still here? Good, then hear me out.
Trick 'r Treat is an anthology film that follows the different characters on the same Halloween night in a small town as their Halloween unfolds. The characters often appear in each other's stories as cameos, but the actual story is about little Sam (pictured in the poster above) who punishes anyone who loses the spirit of Halloween. Sam appears in each character's story with him either punishing the character or observing it unfold before the movie concludes with Sam's chapter that explains why he is in the town.
Trick 'r Treat is a great horror movie about not losing the spirit of the holiday (like another entry is for another holiday) making it the ideal choice for this slot. Next Halloween, be sure to pick up a copy of Trick 'r Treat and make sure you keep your Jack-o-lantern lit all night!
November - Thanksgiving
For the November and Thanksgiving slot, I have selected The Witch, an atmospheric horror set in Puritan times that centers on a family who is excommunicated from their community. They are forced to live deep in the untamed countryside where they succeed in scraping a life together. The family begins to turn on each other after their youngest child vanishes, and the situation worsens further when they are beset by a curse.
Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for what we have, a concept touched upon by the characters before the plot begins but is forgotten by the climax of the movie. The holiday also serves as a time when many families reunite to celebrate together, but, again, The Witch actively seeks to destroy the family it centers around with members destroying other members.
The aesthetic of The Witch makes it the choice for this spot and its destruction of the family serves as the corruption of the themes of Thanksgiving. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, just don't play peek-a-boo with your infant near any woods.
December - Christmas
Last but certainly not least is the December and Christmas slot which I gave to Krampus. Krampus follows a family that has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. They bicker and quarrel until one of the younger member is pushed too far and loses the spirit of the holiday. He tears up his letter to Santa and throws it out the window unknowingly summoning the titular Krampus. Krampus quickly isolates the family before hunting each down in turn.
I love the concept behind Krampus, as I am the youngest sibling in my family, and everyone took special care to allow me to believe in Santa until I figured it out for myself. I cannot remember exactly how old I was when it happened, but this allowed me to develop a deep love for the holiday which endures to this day despite working in retail for a decade.
The idea of someone spoiling the magic makes me wish a vengeful entity would pay them a visit to punish them, so Krampus nails it for me. Like Trick 'r Treat for Halloween, Krampus is a reminder not to spoil the holiday spirit and paints a grizzly portrait of what would happen if you did.