Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover at least two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62+ scary movies perfect for a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s one-two punch of ‘Satanic Panic’ features a cult of Devil worshippers and a particularly nasty coven of witches with Ti West‘s 2009 film, The House of the Devil, and Dario Argento‘s 1977 classic, Suspiria.
“During the 1980s, over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic cults. This film is based on true and unexplained events.”
Desperate for quick cash, college sophomore Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes a babysitting job in the isolated mansion of the creepy Ulman family. Ignoring the warnings from her best friend (Greta Gerwig), Samantha has no idea that a nightmare of unspeakable horror and torment awaits her within these walls. At midnight, in the shadow of a full lunar eclipse, an ultimate evil will be unleashed upon the world.
Cult icons Tom Noonan (Manhunter), Mary Woronov (The Devil’s Rejects), and Dee Wallace (The Hills Have Eyes) co-star in this acclaimed demonic thriller that servers as an unnerving return to the classic slow-burn horror films of the late ’70s and early ’80s.
That Creepy Scene:
My favorite scene in Ti West‘s The House of the Devil comes when Samantha breaks out her clunky Sony Walkman cassette tape player and dances around the house to “One Thing Leads To Another” by The Fixx.
The super-cute Jocelin Donahue bounces around the house jamming to her cassette tape, playing pool and exploring the house’s various rooms. The fun, ’80s montage scene is interrupted abruptly when Jocelin’s Samantha accidentally bumps into a vase while dancing, sending it crashing to the ground. The viewer discovers that the one room Samantha neglected to enter has three dead bodies inside…
Back in the ’80s, the horror genre nearly imploded with the brain-splattering proliferation of slasher films. Films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween turned the horror genre into an industry of franchises.
The once-adolescent audience, which feasted on the blood and morbidity of the previous decade, grew up. The replacement audiences for films of an imaginative nature were being captured instead by an upsurge in the science fiction-and fantasy genre. For all intents and purposes, the horror film was dead.
To re-connect with its audience, horror became more self-mockingly ironic and outright satirical, especially in the latter half of the ’90s. Wes Craven’s Scream featured teenagers who were fully aware of, and often made reference to, the history of horror movies, and mixed ironic humor with shocks and scares.
The House of the Devil is a return to the classic horror films of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Ti West’s film does not use satire or irony to convey the story, but instead flawlessly recreates the style of horror movies from that era – shot on glorious, grainy 16 millimeter film.
Set in the ’80s and ‘based on true, unexplained events,’ The House of the Devil stars the gorgeous Jocelin Donahue in a breakthrough performance as cash-strapped college student Samantha Hughes, who takes a babysitting job at a secluded mansion.
She’s desperate for money and the pay is good, but something doesn’t feel quite right. As a lunar eclipse darkens the night sky, Samantha finds that her employers don’t have a baby at all, but something truly terrifying in store for her.
The less you know about this film before seeing it, the better. I will simply say it is, without a doubt, one of the most intense and unsettling horror pictures I’ve ever seen. There’s The Exorcist, The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby, and then there’s The House of the Devil.
When I first saw this film, I found myself reaching for the remote control to view the time remaining on the disc, as the suspense and tension was almost unbearable at times. I kept saying to myself, “I’ve only got 25 minutes left…”
Directed by Italian horror maestro Dario Argento (Tenebre, Phenomena) with cinematography by Luciano Tovoli, Suspiria features a haunting score by Italian progressive rock band Goblin.Jessica Harper stars as Suzy Banyon, a young American ballet dancer who arrives at a prestigious European dance academy run by the enigmatic Madame Blanc (Joan Bannett) and Miss Tanner (Alida Valli).
When a series of bizarre incidents and horrific murders turn the school into a candy-coated nightmare, Suzy must escape the academy’s unspeakable secret of supernatural evil – the most powerful witch of all time… The Black Queen. Who would have guessed? An American girl goes to Germany to do ballet and discovers all of her teachers are part of a secret coven of witches… story of my life.
Follow Me on Twitter, and come back tomorrow for a new double-shot of horror!