It’s That Time of the Year Horror Fans!

[Originally posted on Sept. 27, 2013 at baltimorefilmguide.wordpress.com]

October is for horror fans.

Cable channels will soon begin to play their month long horror movie marathons. AMC hosts their Fear Fest marathon, while TCM plays some retro flicks on Wednesday nights. Netflix, Redbox, and the few remaining video rental stores will be advertising horror classics and new releases that audiences should check up on.

If you don’t consider yourself a fan of scary movies, it’s fairly difficult to avoid them this time of year. I know that I don’t particularly enjoy them, but there is something about October that seems to put me in the mood for a good scary movie. However, because I’m not a huge fan of the genre, I have a hard time picking out what I would want to watch this time of year!

That’s why I have always enjoyed Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness, a month long movie review session that is now celebrating its seventh year. Hosted by James Rolfe, Monster Madness delves into all manner of horror films, from the cult monster movies and the b-grade sci-fi’s, to the gory slashers and the psychological thrillers. It acts as a perfect primer for the inexperienced horror watcher, covering the full spectrum of film history.

For example, the earliest film that Rolfe has reviewed is the 1910 version of Frankenstein, which is now over 100 years old. As he notes in his review, the film was so shocking that it was banned in its time. We should be lucky to even be able to see it, considering there is now only one known existing copy in the world!

This year’s Monster Madness covers horror movie sequels, which Rolfe says will cover five classic horror films and their numerous sequels. We won’t know what movies they are until he begins to release his reviews, one per day for the month of October, but it is likely they’ll come from the larger, more modern franchises, such as Amityville Horror, Paranormal Activity, or Saw. Rolfe has already covered the classic franchises, including some of the more other obscure one’s such as the British-based Hammer films, so it will certainly be interesting to tune in and see what he comes up with!

I probably won’t be able to convince you to watch horror movies if you don’t already have a predisposition to them, but I feel that they can be important. For example, this year, I am curious to see Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. I think everyone is familiar with the classic box art for the movie featuring the main villain, Pinhead, but from what I’ve heard from other horror fans, the true villains of the movie are actually the human “protagonists.” The monsters, called Cenobites in the film, are merely catalysts for our human characters to play out their selfish desires to protect themselves, going so far as to betray one another in the hopes of saving themselves.

Many great horror movies have this idea as a trope. The main human characters are actually the monsters and they are written into these scenarios by the filmmakers to show what human nature is unfortunately capable of. I can see why so many people avoid the horror genre for this reason, but I feel that this very challenging aspect can sometimes be important to grasp as an audience member. Consider films such as Schindler’s List or Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. While typically considered dramas, these films depict horrifying implications for what human nature is capable of. Don’t great horror movies beg the same questions?

Horror films, in many respects, shine a mirror back in the direction of the audience, forcing us to ask questions about why we are watching. It’s why I enjoy watching them at home alone, as opposed to in the theaters. When the final blood is spilt and the screen fades to black, I find myself staring – only for the briefest of moments – at myself in the reflection of the television screen.

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