One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to watch 150 new-to-me horror movies. To keep myself accountable—and to get over my fear of having (and expressing) a “wrong” opinion of a movie—I’m going to post updates on my progress with mini-reviews for each movie.
Listed below are all the horror movies I watched in April, May, and June. As you can see from the small number of movies on this list, I, uh, struggled a little. I’m just going to blame it on 2020 being 2020, and I’m going to dust myself off and try to kick more ass the rest of the year.
You can find the first three months of the year here. I picked up where I left off last time on the numbering, and I put asterisks next to the ones I had already seen before. All right: horror time!
34. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
After being mortally wounded and taken to the morgue, murderer Jason Voorhees spontaneously revives and embarks on a killing spree as he makes his way back to his home at Camp Crystal Lake.
My Favorite Corey absolutely delivers in this terrific franchise entry, and lovable weirdo Crispin Glover performs a dance for the ages. Evidently this is the preferred Friday the 13th of most Jasonologists? I really enjoyed this one, but my favorite is a little further down the list.
35. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
When horror novelist Sutter Cane goes missing, insurance investigator John Trent scrutinizes the claim made by his publisher and endeavors to retrieve a yet-to-be-released manuscript and ascertain the writer’s whereabouts. Accompanied by the novelist’s editor and disturbed by nightmares from reading Cane’s other novels, Trent makes an eerie nighttime trek to a supernatural town in New Hampshire.
Sam Neill has a remarkably elastic face, and his incredible eyes let you know you’re only seeing a fraction of the sly, amused intelligence behind them. All of which he puts to excellent use in this terrifying, hilarious, and mind-bending film from John Carpenter. The car door scene still gives me full-body shivers, and “Do you read Sutter Cane?” is a catchphrase for the ages.
No one can end a movie like Carpenter. I’m tempted to say that this is my favorite ending of his, but that will probably change the next time I watch Halloween or The Thing or Prince of Darkness. His work lingers and pushes past the film frames in an impressively unsettling way. In the Mouth of Madness is a fucking masterpiece. Period.
36. Viy (1967)
A young priest is ordered to preside over the wake of a witch in a remote village, spending three nights alone with the corpse with only his faith to protect him.
A phantasmagorical fever dream about why it’s never a good idea to piss off a witch. Astonishing, inventive effects make this eerie story impossible to forget. If I were more knowledgeable about the political and cultural context of the movie, I would write up a full review. This is a must see.
37. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Still haunted by his past, Tommy Jarvis—who, as a child, killed Jason Voorhees—wonders if the serial killer is connected to a series of brutal murders occurring in and around the secluded halfway house where he now lives.
I have a confession: whenever Roy memes would show up every Friday the 13th, I would smile and nod like I knew what was going on, when in fact I had no idea who Roy was. Now that I know who he is, I kind of miss the days when I could laugh along in blissful ignorance. Don’t get me wrong, this movie wasn’t a disappointment because it didn’t have Jason in it. No, this odd foray into soft core porn fell short for me due to its lazy kills and annoying fat jokes. I really enjoyed John Shepherd’s intense portrayal of adult Tommy, though.
38. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Tommy Jarvis goes to the graveyard to get rid of Jason Voorhees’ body once and for all, but inadvertently brings him back to life instead. The newly revived killer once again seeks revenge, and Tommy may be the only one who can defeat him.
My favorite Friday the 13th entry! This movie just absolutely goes for it, from Jason’s bonkers resurrection all the way through to his wacky lake imprisonment. The meta humor and gloriously over-the-top kills are like full-size candy bars in your trick-or-treat bag: an unexpected delight that you just can’t get enough of.
39. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Years after Tommy Jarvis chained him underwater at Camp Crystal Lake, the dormant Jason Voorhees is accidentally released from his prison by a telekinetic teenager. Now, only she can stop him.
Though it’s not my favorite in the series, there are some terrific moments in this movie, from the sleeping bag kill to the hilarious dispatching of Tony Goldwyn. But the real draw is Kane Hodder’s arrival as the definitive Jason. No one stalks a forest or heaves a menacing breath quite like Hodder, and it was a real treat to finally see his debut as Jason Voorhees. He’s a hell of a performer who elevates any movie he’s in.
40. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan* (1989)
Jason Voorhees stalks a group of high school graduates on a ship en route to, and later in, New York City.
Ah, the much maligned “Jason Takes a Boat Ride” franchise entry. I have a deep, abiding love for this movie. Part of that, I must admit, is due to the hilarious “When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?” vibe. I mean, SPOILER ALERT, but I don’t think chilling in a boiler room for an hour and then drowning in toxic sludge with mysterious age-regression properties really counts as taking anything other than a massive L. Still, this movie features one of my favorite kills (Jason punches a dude’s head clean off!) and the classic “fuck you AND your boombox” scene.
Once he actually makes it to Manhattan, Jason has a lot of fun, committing some creative murders and, hilariously, completely blending in with the stereotypical NYC weirdos as he stalks teenagers through Times Square. It just takes him a while to get there. In this house, we stan Jason Takes Manhattan.
41. Demon Wind (1990)
A man’s investigation into his long-dead parents’ demise leads to the haunted family mansion and a date with a demon.
I have absolutely no idea what happened in this movie, but I LOVED it. It’s like a proto-American Horror Story with a slightly lower cast budget. Witches! Demons! Creepy little kids! Zombies! Time travel! Evil…wind? Like AHS, this movie throws everything at the wall to see what sticks, and if it doesn’t stick, it just picks it back up and throws it again. A wacky, ridiculous treat.
42. Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren lock the possessed doll in the artifacts room in their house. But when the doll awakens the room’s evil spirits, it soon becomes an unholy night of terror for the couple’s 10-year-old daughter and her babysitter.
I established my love for creepy dolls pretty firmly in my last Horror Resolutions post, so I had high hopes for this movie, but this was a cheap, manipulative mess. The cast is terrific, of course, and they did as much as they could with the schmaltzy script. But this was a big disappointment.
43. Trick (2019)
On Halloween night in 2015, Patrick “Trick” Weaver massacred his classmates at a costume party. After being arrested, he managed to escape police custody, but not before being shot five times by Detective Mike Denver. Everyone believes Trick must be dead, but when a masked killer reappears the following Halloween, and every Halloween after that, they realize the nightmare is not over.
A cool concept—a Halloween-themed serial killer goes viral!—that didn’t quite stick the landing. There are some good kills, and the reveal of the killer’s identity was hilariously exasperating. Omar Epps sells the “I’m the only one who knows what’s really happening” detective role, Tom Atkins is fantastic as always, and Public Domain Bingo makes a welcome appearance. I may revisit this one, because it really is a fun concept, but if you’re looking for a great recent Halloween slasher, try Haunt instead.
That’s all I’ve got for this round. Feel free to shame me here in the comments or on Twitter for falling so far behind on my goal. Hopefully I can turn things around in the second half of the year!