This week, I revisited a film that, after 50 years, still gives me nightmares. I was surprised to find some curious links between it, modern horror films, and today’s news cycle. Like Ripley tells the xenomorph in Alien 3, “You’ve been in my life so long, I can’t remember anything else,”  I can’t remember my life before images from George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead started making an impression. It was so powerful that I first viewed it subconsciously during my nighttime slumbers years before I was able to watch it. The world also said goodbye to Diana Rigg this week. This was a perfect reason to watch her and Vincent Price ham it up in Douglas Hickox’s Theater of Blood, a thriller-chiller of Shakespearean proportions.

9) Underwater (2020) First Time Watch! Kristen Stewart and Vincent Cassel fight evil corporations and weird monsters from their underwater, deep-sea oil drilling base. It was a good Saturday night film with a fantastic jump scare in the middle. It was hours before my dog rejoined me on the couch. 

10) Intruders (2016) (AKA Shut In) I came to this film via Rue Morgue magazine’s “50 Horror Films You Didn’t See” article as something new to watch. It turns out; I had seen this one. While not exactly memorable, it is a competent film that kept me engaged to the bloody, fiery climax.

11) Stakeland (2010) Kelly at Spinsters of Horror recommended the films of Jim Mickle, and I am glad she did. Stakeland’s brutal, pestilence ravaged America, dominated by fear-mongering, ultra-right-wing, religious fanatics, is amazingly prescient to 2020 America. It is agonizing how close to the violent, post-apocalyptic world portrayed in the movie that our growing fear and distrust has brought us.

12) The Initiation (1984) First Time Watch! While I struggle with the slasher genre and often find them hard to watch, this movie had more than a few pluses to keep me involved. Sadly, great performances from Clu Gulager and Vera Miles, awesome setting, and a genuinely surprising reveal didn’t keep my attention from end to end.  I forgot to mention the atmospheric, candlelit sorority ritual was also well done. But any movie set inside a mall during the 1980s get nostalgia points.

13) Night of the Living Dead (1968) My second “End of the world brings out the worst in humanity” film of the week. It is just as powerful today as it was 50 years ago in both  its frights and message. Movie Zombie 101 content aside, it is hard not to consider the shocking ending as a warning against how easily a well-armed, civilian populace can become indifferent to committing acts of violence, mayhem and murder.

14) Halloween at Aunt Ethel’s (2019) First Time Watch! True confession, I chose this as a palate cleanser after the heaviness of NOTLD with very low expectations. My low expectations were not wrong. Typically I love to watch low-budget, DIY, amateur efforts because I respect the devotion to the genre they exude, but I found myself fast-forwarding through the dull or just too silly parts many times.

15) Theater of  Blood (1973) First Time Watch! In memorium, Dianna Rigg, you were my first on-screen crush.  Hearing Vincent Price reciting beloved Shakespearean dialogue was just as thrilling as I had hoped it would be. Rigg turns in a stellar performance as the seemingly bereft daughter of Shakespearean over-actor Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price), raging against her father’s poor treatment at the hands of London’s snarkiest drama critics. Murderous mayhem ensues, including a pretty awesome sword fight on trampolines! I can’t believe I waited this long to watch this.

Vincent Price and Diana Rigg re-imagine The Merchant of Venice