The Horror Honeys: 100 Horror Movies in 100 Days!

100 Horror Movies in 100 Days!

A Film Journey with Guest Honey Kim

Like many fans before me I began my relationship with horror movies before what was probably appropriate. I have memories of being a very young child and watching such classics as Piranha and Squirm (it’s a movie about killer worms, come on, that’s awesome), being both terrified and longing for more.

I have always been drawn to horror films of all kinds, but recently I’d become a bit lazy. About 100 days ago, I found myself looking at my Netflix queue for something to watch. The queue was full of movies I’d always meant to see, (hello American Mary) but whenever I’d sit down to watch them I’d find myself opting for something I’d already seen (Halloween 4: Return of Michael Myers).

I needed to change this. I decided I wouldn’t only watch the movies in my queue, I would watch 100 movies that I had never seen, and I would do it before Halloween. This was quite possibly the greatest idea I had ever had. What better way to fully immerse myself in horror? I watch tons of movies - 100 movies in a 100 days was nothing.

Okay, so that may have been a bit naïve.

At times, the process has been...a struggle. Where it brought me to some classics I’d always meant to watch and never found the time (House on Haunted Hill) and modern ones I felt I was out of the loop for not having seen (V/H/S), it also meant watching some boring (The Quiet Ones), some frustrating (Stage Fright) and some I would have been better off never having seen (Children of the Corn II). At times, my head was so full of horror it felt like nothing would scrub it clean other than a lost weekend spent watching Elf on repeat. Now, with less than a week to go, I find myself five away from my goal and weirdly proud of my accomplishment. I am sharing with you today a few of the highs and lows I have encountered on my quest.

The most important thing for me when watching a horror film is that I’m entertained. That might be from the strong characters and writing or the stupid special effects and laughably bad dialogue. Sometimes the movie tells a story I honestly haven’t heard before. Some of the movies on my list are ones I’m sure you’ll be shocked I haven’t watched until now. Many are on the list because the quickest way to watch a lot of movies over a limited period of time is to watch what is available streaming on Netflix, Prime and Hulu. This proved to not always be a good thing. Out of the depths, however, emerged some films that stood out.

The Good: Here are a few of the movies that I found fun, entertaining or just plain awesome.

Michael (Peter Cilella) receives an emailed video of his old friend Chris (Vinny Curran), a junkie, acting erratic. Michael decides to make one last attempt at getting his friend clean. Going to the dilapidated house he’s holed up in, Michael implores Chris to go to rehab and when he refuses, knocks him out and chains him up, hoping to force him clean. Soon, however, strange and unexplainable photos, videos and other bizarre things start occurring, and leaving Michael and Chris dealing with a much larger problem. Resolution is an excellent example of what can be done on a low budget. Smart, creepy and often surprisingly funny, the film plays with the characters as well as the viewer, taking a cue from other Meta and self-aware horror films. The movie’s final act, which I found brilliant, may not appeal to everyone, but you can’t help but applaud the balls.

Grabbers is what I wish the SyFy monster movies were actually like. Set in a small Irish town, local authorities start investigating a mutilated whale carcass that washes up on the beach. They soon realize their town is under attack by tentacle creatures they dub “grabbers.” Since the creatures display an intolerance for alcohol, the locals discover that the way to protect themselves from attack is to be drunk. Hilarity ensues. This is a great movie if you’re looking for something fun, silly, and not to be taken seriously.

The Children:
Scary children have long been staples of horror. Growing up watching Children of the Damned / Corn as well as the demonic exploits of Damien, I have long questioned whether having children was a wise decision. I don’t want to say that The Children has pushed me over the edge, but I’m scheduled for a tubal ligation on Thursday. The plot itself is fairly simple: a family heads to the country to visit relatives when an unknown virus starts to afflict the children. It turns them violent and soon they’re attacking the adults. The film builds the tension nicely, and the child actors are all well cast, walking the fine line between cute and creepy. A solid addition to my list of excuses as to why children are secretly plotting to destroy us all.

Troll Hunter:
A group of Norwegian film students set out to get the scoop on a bear poacher, but instead find themselves pulled into the exploits of Hans (Otto Jeseperson), a troll hunter. Troll Hunter is a delightful and funny addition to the mock documentary style of film. Jeseperson, as Hans the troll hunter, truly steals the show. His deadpan delivery and seriousness create some of the funniest moments in the movie. The execution of the story and strong cast makes the whole thing actually seem rather believable. Who’s to say there isn’t a secret division of the Norwegian government specifically created for the tracking and controlling of trolls. And if there are, I wonder if they’re hiring...

The Conspiracy:
The Conspiracy was a surprise to me. I didn’t expect much going into it, mostly associating it with its rather distinct cover art of a man wearing a bull’s mask. The film starts with two filmmakers using an ardent conspiracy theorist as the subject of their next film. When their subject disappears, however, they try to uncover what happened, leading them towards an ancient secret society. I’ve always been a sucker for a good conspiracy theory, and Christopher MacBride presents a story that’s disturbing because you believe it’s true. It incorporates enough fact to craft a believably frightening look at secret societies and cover-ups.

The Last Days (Los últimos días):
The Last Days, a Spanish Language film about a strange epidemic that prevents the populace from stepping outside, is a subtle movie with a slow burn. It is not a movie for those craving extended action sequences or gore. The action primarily centers on Marc (Quim Gutiérrez ) and his attempt to find his girlfriend, Julia (Marta Etura). He strikes an uneasy bargain with Enrique (José Coronado), a man from his office, and the two set out to find their way in the new world. Solidly acted and nicely shot, this movie is an effective exploration of how people react when their way of life is taken away completely.

Lake Mungo:
It should be mentioned that I am a sucker for the faux documentary style of film. Joel Anderson’s film about a teen girl’s tragic death, and the strange things that start happening around her family home is, if you’ll forgive the pun, haunting. Beautifully paced and constructed, Lake Mungo is a fresh take on both found footage and ghost films. The acting is believable and the script smart and sad. Experiencing the family’s confusion and pain as they try to both move on and decipher what happened to their daughter is the perfect blend of drama and suspense. This is definitely one of the stand out films of this whole experience.

The BAD: I have fairly low standards when it comes to watching horror films. I mean shockingly low. I will watch virtually anything. That these films did not meet my low standards is pretty telling.

Piranha DD:
I’m sure I will shock many with the following statement: I did not like Piranha DD. Shocking that a movie with such a distinguished pedigree would make it onto my list of least favorites, I know, but there it is. There’s not much to say about the plot beyond killer prehistoric piranha in a water park. Plus boobs. There were a lot of boobs. I actually didn’t mind the first one, enjoying its over the top ridiculousness, but this fell completely flat for me (unlike any of the ladies’ boobs, which I believe were contractually obligated to being at least a DD). The one bright spot was David Hasselhoff, whose over-the-top portrayal of himself brought a few moments of actual humor to the film. Even if you enjoyed the first, I’d burn the second without watching.

Almost Human:
I think part of my frustration with Almost Human stems from the fact that I really, really wanted it to be good. The film opens with the mysterious disappearance of Mark (Josh Ethier). Two years later, Mark returns, but he’s changed, and soon begins committing horrible acts. Poorly written and acted, and with little thought given to story development or plot, Almost Human wants to be a cult film, but sadly does nothing to of achieve that status. The special effects are decent and seem to be where the director Joe Begos’s focus was spent, so it’s hard to say what stronger story and character could have done for this film. For me it’s a definite pass.

Stage Fright:
I struggled with whether or not to put Stage Fright on the list, because I think there’s a good film in there screaming (or singing) to get out. I mean how could a film with Meatloaf, theatre kids, and a serial killer go wrong? Unfortunately, Stage Fright is neither clever enough nor silly enough to be a fun or smart watch. It’s not for lack of trying, but heart alone cannot make a movie good. The film is set at a performing arts summer camp. We follow Camilla (Allie MacDonald), the adopted daughter of the camp’s owner, stuck working in the kitchen as she longs to be onstage. Her mother, also an actress, was brutally murdered years before - while acting in a show the camp now decides to stage, prompting Camilla to try out. Before too long, a brutal killer emerges and goes on a rampage (of course). Perhaps if more time was spent on the script, a better movie could have emerged; sadly, Stage Fright falls flat.

ATM is a movie that actually made me mad. I get angry when characters are unnecessarily stupid. I get angry when the plot is so blatantly obvious that there is no surprise to it. I get angry when the character’s actions are completely irrational. ATM introduces us to a group of coworkers who are leaving a Christmas party together. From the get-go, they’re all kind of assholes, so you’re not really upset when they inevitably die. One of them, Corey (Josh Peck), asks to make a stop at an ATM. Bad shit starts to go down as a mysterious and ominous man in a giant parka starts to harass and intimidate them (I would have paid money for the parka to look like Kenny’s from South Park). More bad things happen. Bad writers try to think up more ways to make bad things happen in a small ATM building. I get mad at the stupid people, and stupid people die. Use a credit card.

Spirit in the Woods:
Okay, perhaps picking a film based on its 80 minute run time was not the best way to ensure quality, but in my defense, Hulu recommended it. I fear if this is an indicator of where Hulu thinks my viewing tastes lie, we may be headed towards a rocky time in our relationship. If this film had been a high school student’s project I would have said to myself, ‘good on you sir, for being creative.' Alas, it was not. Low budget is not an excuse for a bad movie. Horror films and low budgets go hand in hand. It’s more than possible to craft something well-written and well-acted on a tiny budget – one must only look to the epic successes of a few of the more famous ones (Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, despite what you think of the films, brought in some bank). The best I could glean from this movie is that it’s the found footage of five college students who disappeared into “Spiritual Woods.” A troubled and dark history is sometimes mentioned before and during the students’ trek into “Spiritual Woods,” but any tie to the ultimate fate of the students is sadly lacking. The laughably bad dialogue doesn’t reach the level of fun that a movie like Birdemic does, unfortunately, so Spirit in the Woods remains a tedious and frustrating watch.

I have five films left to watch. Halloween is on my heels. I’d like to say that I’d planned my last five out and they’re true gems of the genre. Instead I’m letting fate take over. To Hulu!

About the Guest Honey: Kim credits her early viewings of horror films for inspiring her love of movies and theatre. She has a few degrees in theatrical type stuff and when she's not watching obscene quantities of horror films, she spends her time teaching, directing, writing and acting for the theatre. Currently, she's working on starting a theatre company who specializes in horror.