From 1957 to 1987, thirty years of horror in thirty days

, | Features

October has always been my favorite month. It’s the month of cool weather, awesome clothes, and sleeping with the windows open. It is long shadows and the magic hour in prime time. Thanks to Halloween, it’s also the month I love to dive deep into spooky stuff in all kinds of media, from horror story collections to favorite scary video games.

After the jump: “You wanna see something REALLY scary?”

One of my favorite features on Quarter To Three was in 2011, called 14 Days to Halloween. In the two weeks leading up to Halloween, Tom and a handful of contributors posted a daily horror film with an explanation about why each was worth seeing. I found a number of terrific movies from that series. As I consider myself a horror movie buff, albeit with some gaps in my cultural awareness, I thought this might be a good format to fill in some of those gaps. Inspired by Tom’s 2011 series, I’d watch and write a little about each horror movie I saw.

The first task was picking the movies to watch. I made the rookie mistake of posting on my Facebook page “I’m thinking of watching a horror movie each night until Halloween, so what are the best ones?” I got deluged, and not by bad movies either. I realized that if I wanted to hit everything worth seeing in this category, I’d need nearly a year to accomplish it. To narrow the field and to get it done in a month, I decided on a 30 year period from the late 1950’s through the mid-1980’s, which captures a couple of golden ages in horror cinema. 1957 through 1987 covers a remarkable evolution of the genre. I also feel incredibly nostalgic for horror of that era. If you grew up during that time, before cable and VCRs became commonplace, you watched whatever scary movies, schlock or otherwise, aired on regular TV. I wanted to revisit that a bit. Furthermore, this is the time before computer-generated special effects, so the rules were very different back then. It was a time before found footage. It saw the birth of the slasher genre. It spanned the inimitable 70s.

Seeking a good cross section of excellent horror movies from those years, I started a thread in the Quarter To Three forums. I got a bunch of excellent suggestions. I began to firm up a list of movies to watch and write about. A few movies on this list come straight from me, but most of it was sourced from the Quarter to Three community, and they did an outstanding job.

As the list was coming together, Tom contacted me to express his support for the project and inquire whether I’d be interested in posting it here. This was a perfect chance to discuss the movies with the folks who helped make the list in the first place. I also remembered that back in 2011 when Tom was doing 14 Days to Halloween, he’d mentioned that it took no small amount of effort to cover a movie every day. It occurred to me I might have bitten off more than I could chew, so I was thrilled when Tom offered to help and even participate. We hatched the idea of writing about each film together. And that’s what we’ll be doing every day, even on weekends, from today until Halloween.

We hope you’ll join us as we get into the spirit of the season with our 30 day tour of 30 years that span one of the most interesting periods in horror. We’ll post every night about the films we’re watching, and we’d love you to watch them as well and join the conversation about them. My own thesis question for each film is how well the movie holds up and if it’s still entertaining or scary at all, but there are so many other angles to consider. Every film we’ll watch is readily available, and all but one is available through video on demand services. So without further adieu, here’s what’s in store for our October (we’ll update the list with links as we post):

1. Curse of Frankenstein 1957
2. Horror of Dracula 1958
3. Black Sunday 1960
4. Peeping Tom 1960
5. Tomb Of Ligeia 1964
6. Plague Of The Zombies 1966
7. Night Of The Living Dead/Dawn Of The Dead 1967 and 1978
8. Witchfinder General 1968
9. Rosemary’s Baby 1968
10. Let’s Scare Jessica To Death 1971
11. From Beyond The Grave 1972
12. Don’t Look Now 1973
13. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark 1973
14. The Exorcist 1973
15. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974
16. Jaws 1975
17. The Omen 1976
18. The Haunting Of Julia 1977
19. Halloween 1978
20. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers 1956 and 1978
21. Phantasm 1979
22. Salem’s Lot 1979
23. The Shining 1980
24. The Changeling 1980
25. American Werewolf In London 1981
26. Q, The Winged Serpent 1982
27. The Thing 1982
28. Poltergeist 1982
29. Angel Heart 1987
30. Near Dark 1987