The Final Jump Scare: Our Horrortober Wrap-Up

Posted in Screening Room by - November 01, 2015

Horrortober has comes to its shocking conclusion so check out our thoughts on the best, worst, and everything in between of the month. 

Best Film

Ben: Pan’s Labyrinth

While not a horror film in the strictest sense, Del Toro’s dark fantasy tale is one of the most original and enchanting films of recent memory. The director’s signature visual flair blends perfectly with a story that is both startling macabre and strangely hopeful. With a cast of creepy creatures, memorable villains, and our lovable hero, Ofelia, at the helm, Pan’s Labyrinth is not just the best movie I watched this month, but easily one of the greatest in the last decade.

Chris: The Poughkeepsie Tapes

This film is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and it’s a truly unique horror experience. It’s the kind of film that gets under your skin, but is reserved in its approach to creating a tangible sense of terror. The performances are great, the writing and direction are smart and tight, and it kicked off the careers of the Dowdle Brothers and Stacy Chbosky. While it is hard to find (it is off Epix once again), it is worth tracking down and getting sucked into its unique narrative and truly unsettling visuals.

John: The Nightmare

This was an unexpected winner for best film in my books. I enjoy a good documentary now and again, but rarely do I seek them out for consumption. The Nightmare was another of the many documentaries I’d heard excellent things about, but never got around to watching until it came up on a podcast. I’m glad it did. It’s unique blend of documentary, reality and horror shot composition, paired with it’s terrifying subject matter, made for one of the few legitimately creepy movies I’ve seen in a long time. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out now, because it is truly an experience.

Worst Film

Ben: The Midnight Meat Train

Even as the bottom of the month, this film isn’t even that bad. It’s wonderfully acted, beautifully staged, and, at least in the pre-twist moments, deals with some interesting real-world questions quite well. But unlike Pan’s, the parts (heh) don’t all quite come together on this. Clive Barker’s a creative and brilliant guy, but Meat Train feels like it didn’t have his, or for that matter, the studio’s, full attention, and the movie fails a bit for that.

Chris: Funny Games

I actually really liked Funny Games, but it makes the worst of my month primarily because it is so unrelenting in its sadism that it would turn off a majority of viewers. Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet are sadistic in such a realistic and upsetting way that there is nothing remotely redeeming about them. Couple that with the pitch black ending, plus the torture thrown upon Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, and you get a film that feels more like an endurance test than a normal movie.

John: It’s a tie

My pick for worst film is a close tie between two flicks that weren’t really bad. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (TCM2) and New Nightmare are two relatively entertaining features that have entirely different tones but suffer from the same problem: pacing. TCM2 is a campy B-horror flick where a giant, mentally handicapped man wearing other people’s skin has violent symbolic sex with a woman with his chainsaw replacing his dick. New Nightmare is a film about “Freddy Krueger” attacking the people that made the first Freddy Krueger movie.

TCM2 can’t seem to find the pacing for it’s jokes, and they last so long that they go from hilarious to boring. However, with some truly psychotic performances, a few incredibly twisted gags, and the sheer gore of it, it manages to surpass its downfalls and still be good. New Nightmare’s pacing issue is similar. It builds the tension with suspenseful events, but they go for too long,  leading to a mostly boring main body. However, with a premise that can’t help but be interesting, the film still manages to be worth a watch.

Best Villain

Ben: Sergi Lopez as Vidal in Pan’s Labyrinth

When I say Pan’s is a movie where the supernatural critters aren’t as monstrous as the real humans, Vidal is the textbook example of this. He’s unforgivingly terrible to everyone in the film, even the ones he “loves.” Wrathful, vain, and just about as near to truly evil as possible without being a caricature, Vidal is a villain without equal, and that’s all thanks to Sergi’s impressive performance.

Chris: Mark Duplass as Josef in Creep

While the film doesn’t really buy into the conventional horror tropes, the fact that Duplass is able to create a simultaneously upsetting and sympathetic villain is the real success of the film. Duplass, who is known in the mainstream as Pete from The League, shirks his mainstream roles to fully inhabit the part of Josef. Throughout the film, you can’t tell whether to feel for him or be disturbed by his escalating psychosis. Often the best villains aren’t the ones who stalk through the night with a machete, but rather the quiet neighbor next door with the heads in his fridge.

John: David Hyde Pierce as Warwick Wilson in The Perfect Host

The Perfect Host is a thriller, a psychological drama, a cop drama, and a torture horror flick all at the same time. It’s a great combination that really makes for a compelling, entertaining, and sometimes laugh out loud funny film. David Hyde Pierce’s Warwick Wilson is delightfully twisted, flipping from congenial and polite to intimidating and absolutely nutter butter brained.

Best Hero

Ben: Jason Miller as Father Karras in The Exorcist

A film doesn’t get this legendary on the legs of poor performances. And against so many other great performances, Jason Miller’s portrayal of the young Father Karras truly stands out. At once empowering and despairing, he shows the true gamut of the conflicted priest, set against an impossible task.

Chris: Adam Green as Adam Green in Digging Up The Marrow

Granted, he is portraying a fictionalized version of himself, but Green is able to fully inhabit the skeptical observer to Ray Wise’s Dekker. He isn’t a hero in the typical definition. He doesn’t slay the baddies by the end of the film, and he isn’t a final girl. He’s just a normal, curious guy who wants to see monsters and believes that they aren’t evil. His beliefs are tested by the end of the feature, he is changed, and you can see that, If a sequel does come to fruition, I could see him transitioning into a more traditional hero role.

John: Sharni Vinson as Erin in You’re Next 

You’re Next is a film about betrayal, family, survival, and the fucked uppedness that comes with an entire family being stalked and killed in their mountain vacation home. Erin, a young woman, is thrust into the situation while meeting her boyfriend’s family. When shit hits the fan and people start getting shot with crossbows and sprinting headlong in to throat-level razor wire, Erin gets down to business. She reveals that her crazy father raised her in an Australian, anti-government survivalist compound. She leads the family in their mostly vain attempts to outsmart the baddies, and holds her own against their assailants. She’s one hard core chick, plus, Australian accent.

Best Kill

Ben: The final kill/reveal in Sleepaway Camp

The entire pull of this movie hinges on this one bloody reveal. It’s ridiculous, comically gory, and somehow deeply disturbing; to say it epitomizes the entire film is no overstatement of the truth. You’ll want to laugh out loud as much as cleanse the horrid scene from your mind. It’s definitely not a moment I’ll be forgetting any time soon. And, if you haven’t had the pleasure for yourself, you can find the movie in its entirety here:

Chris: Victor Crowley kills Shannon Permatteo in Hatchet

This may be one of the best kills in the history of horror, due in part it the sheer brutality of it. Victor Crowley grabs Shannon’s upper mouth and her lower jaw and pulls in opposite directions. It’s gory as fuck, and awesome in its execution. In a film that features a plethora of awesome kills, this one takes the bloody cake for the entire month.

John: Erin kills Felix in You’re Next

This kill is awesome. It isn’t as over the top as the ones in Hatchet, which still has excellent kills, but it’s still pretty crazy. Erin shatters a blender against Felix’s head, stabs the base of the blender through the top of his skull, and then turns the blender on to liquify his brains. Check out this video. The kill ramps up at around the 1:50 mark.

This post was written by
Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He's a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You'll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.
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