Once upon this blog, lo these many moons ago, I actually tried to track my annual halloween challenge;
"Speaking of which, stick around for the next month. I'm going to see how many I get through. I've got all sorts lined up - classics, film noir, creature features, black humor, foreign masters, ones of questionable taste with cute boys. Should be fun."
Of course, pretty much every year, I find I have overbooked myself wildly, and I get through 4-6 films within the month. Not that that's terrible. I've slowly worked my way through such classics as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, and Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil:
This year, though, I started the challenge in mid-September, and I actually tried to block off times for watching things, so that even if some of those were dropped for other obligations, I would still make it through a bunch. Additionally, I've started another film challenge: watching all of the movies in my 100-year watchlist. And before starting this challenge, I flagged which of those counted as horror/thrillers (29; with a further 18 alternates). And that's before considering what's coming out this time of year, what with fall festivals premiering the new Halloween and Suspiria (sadly not out till November), as well as things like Border and In Fabric. Plus I needed to catch up on earlier films from the year like Hereditary, Unsane, and a Quiet Place. So I had lots to get to, and an actual schedule.
Day 1: The 39 Steps. This was very enjoyable! Mostly because Robert Donat is charming, but also because as an early Hitchcock, there are some very brilliant shots, and some that were totally perplexing in their 'you still have things to learn' sort of way. Also, an early film exemplar of some very tried and true tropes: the bickering couple being handcuffed together, the villain reveal, the stranger drawing another in on a spy plot and immediately kicking the bucket. 4/5 stars; lots of fun.
Day 2: I binged the Brooklyn 99 Halloween episodes. Because.
Day 3: Opera tickets to Roberto Devereux. (So good! I really loved it. I hope they do the other two in the trilogy.)
I *thought* day 4 was the Castro double feature and went all the way down there only to discover I had the date wrong. Yay for losing 90 minutes during a busy week! So what I actually ended up watching was Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves and Denis Villeneuve's Enemy. The Company of Wolves might have worked better as just straight up vignettes/anthology, but the creature effects are pretty great, and there are lots of good doggos in the film. 3.5 stars.
Enemy is fab. Great cast, wonderfully directed, lots of spiders. 4 stars.
Day 5: Not part of the challenge: Castro double feature of Battleship Potemkin/Battle of Algiers. Holy fuck y'all. Battle of Algiers is so good! Highly recommended. Battleship Potemkin has a few too many montages of the inner workings of a ship for me, but I guess if you're inventing montage editing, you're going to really go for it. The steps scene is totally brilliant.
Potemkin: 4.5 stars
Algiers: 5 stars
Day 6: A Simple Favor. This was pulpy, soapy fun. Which is what I needed at the end of the Kavanaugh hearings week. Blake Lively swanning around in tuxes. Yes please. 4 stars.
Day 7: Caught up on American Horror Story: Apocalypse. I was three episodes behind and, yay! This is shaping up to be the best season since hotel, and clearly (hopefully) a return to form.
I cannot adequately express how much I cackled at Evan Peters and Rubberman. *mwah* Perfecto.
Day 8: The Sisters Brothers & the Kennel Murder Case. The Sisters Brothers because it was on one early prognosticator's potential oscars list. I think that's unlikely. I can see why John C. Reilly was so interested in adapting this; it's a great showcase for him. Jake Gyllenhaal commits real hard to an accent that does not entirely work. Still, the four leads are good, and it's a melancholy take on the western. I really disliked the cinematography, though. And I think it'll be too French of a western to get enough buzz for the oscars. 3 stars (and that's mostly because they did stick the ending well.)
The Kennel Murder Case: Powell with a puppy! Just snappy and fun and silly. Three and a half stars.
Days 10 & 11: So here's where things get a little tricky, because SFFilm and SFMoma's Modern Cinema fall series is in October. Great for classic cinema, not so great for horror films. So the fall series kicked off with Pather Panchali and Aparajito, which I had yet to see (I had seen the World of Apu several years ago). These are brilliant. I really love them. Pather Panchali: 5 stars Aparajito: 4.5 stars
Day 12: Oof. This was tough. Still at Modern Cinema; saw The Bicycle Thief and The Middleman. Skipped out on Ikiru, because those first two were so bleak. I really loved the Middleman, as dark as it was (corruption in India in the 60s/70s). I thought it was very well done. I hated watching The Bicycle Thief, as much as I understand why it is considered a classic, and as glad as I am that it inspired Pather Panchali. 4 stars for Bicycle Thief, 4.5 stars for the Middleman.
If you think about it, Neorealism is just a different kind of even scarier horror.
Day 13: A Star is Born: Welp, it was never going to live up to the trailer. 3 stars
The Thing: So great! Such wonderful creature effects! Doggos! 4.5 stars
Day 14: Hereditary. Really good. I had been spoiled on *the thing* that happens, so I can only imaging what it was like for audiences who had a bit of a Scream moment. Some really good atmospheric moments, tiny jump scares, and then just really great acting. Part of why I wanted to see this (other than Toni Collette, obvs.) was that I was impressed with some of what Alex Wolff did in My Friend Dahmer and House of Tomorrow. The car scene in this convinced me (well and probably everyone else, given what a hit this was) that he's definitely one to watch. I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending. I understand A. O. Scott's gripes, but the film had also been building to a lot more style than resolution anyways (or perhaps that was what I had been expecting based on director's breakout short; The Strange Thing About the Johnsons.) 4 stars.
Day 15: An American Werewolf in London. Despite terrible screening circumstances (two moronic girls thought it would be a great idea to get high, come to the Castro and talk through the ENTIRE FILM), I just really enjoyed the set pieces in this. It's so weirdly 80s, the creature effects are fab and, oh man, the corpse in the porno theater is perfect. 4 stars
Day 16: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell. I got sucked into this weird little series on Netflix. The pilot is rough, and it's such a weird concept for a show, because she's not really demonstrating how to actually do any of the crafts or baking. She's showing that she's an artist who will spend several days icing a gingerbread house. But the Henson muppet sensibility won me over and it was a silly little thing to watch while I was tired. I am super impressed with her edible brown recluses, though...
Day 17: The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog and Bad Times at the El Royale.
I was a little out of it watching The Lodger, so I'm going to blame that on totally not seeing the ending coming. I liked the atmosphere of the film (although hard to play up the fog in silent film cinematography), and Ivor Novello is brilliant.
As for Bad Times, bless Drew Goddard and Chris Hemsworth for bringing us joy in these dark times. It could've used a tighter edit, but it has lots of Cynthia Erivo singing, and it turns out *THE GIF* is to one of my all time favorite songs (the whole soundtrack is aces):
After this, life got very busy between work, halloween baking, taking headshots, and halloween parties, so I didn't see anything else remotely in genre.
Day 18: Tosca at the SF Opera. Meh.
Day 19: San Francisco Girls Chorus concert (a weird repertoire for this concert, but they did a surprise pre-concert performance in the lobby with amazing acoustics.)
Day 20: Roma (with Alfonso Cuaron and the actresses in attendance.) This is incredibly well done, and the lead actress is stunning. I'm sure it will be in the running for best picture. (I didn't *looove* it, but much like CMBYN last year, I recognize how incredibly well-done it is.)
And that's it! I didn't get to nearly as many as hoped (once again), but I got a couple crossed off my various lists, and saw the two big horror hits for this year. I may see a few more, but I'll be concentrating on anything on Filmstruck through the end of November (Dead Ringers, looking at you)