Spotlight: The Best Horrors of 2022

What a year for a film, and what an exciting time for horror! There are so many that I really don’t know how I can possibly only highlight ten. Who made this number up as the definitive one anyway? Instead, I’ve decided to give a place for all of them! Why not? Horror knows no bounds.

The variety is quite eclectic, so if you’re looking for your next horror fix you’re bound to find it on this list, one way or another. Many of these I have written longer reviews for (either on here or on FI) and I will include the link. For the others, I’ll elaborate. As always, thanks for reading, thanks for staying spooky, and thank you for supporting horror!

Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg)

This is one favorite horror as it’s one of my top ten (overall) of the year, but what is intriguing about this particular Cronenberg creation is that it doesn’t feel like a horror to me. It morphs into something much more, and it’s a film I can’t wait to revisit. Currently streaming on Hulu.

I’ve got to admit I was pretty enamored with this one. It was a no holds barred return to form opportunity that was seized with an instinctual, sexual-like curiosity. What can the human body do? What should it? A true visionary, Crimes of the Future sees Cronenberg at his most curious and morose in many years. 

https://wonderfullyweirdandhorrifying.com/2022/07/02/crimes-of-the-future-2022/

Speak No Evil (Christian Tafdrup)

Speak No Evil was one of the first horrors I saw in 2021, and its impact is as strong today as it was then. It has to be the most discomforting horror I saw this year and the unique way that it wields that power is quite impressive. Currently streaming on AMC+.

The effects of this movie, and its final scenes still cling to my bones. Speak No Evil winded down with a quick and punching descent into significant darkness, and it left me pondering the details I had consumed in the previous 70+ minutes of watching. Shook.

https://wonderfullyweirdandhorrifying.com/2022/01/25/sundance-2022-speak-no-evil/

The Wounded Fawn (Travis Stevens)

The Wounded Fawn was such a uniquely weird viewing experience that is definitely a must-see because it’s difficult to truly describe. Just let its freaky little vibe wash over you. Travis Stevens directs and is fantastic as always, and Josh Ruben is hilarious. Currently streaming on AMC+.

It is often a visual explosion, frequent bright tones of red reminding us of the blood lust at the core and the blood price to be paid. It’s an intriguing concoction of supernatural forces, psychological torment, and hilariously disturbing imagery. It also has to be said that it has one of the funniest extended finales I’ve seen in some time. A Wounded Fawn is delightfully bizarre and a daring dose of horror.

https://www.filminquiry.com/tribeca-2022-report-1/

Barbarian (Zach Cregger)

This was one of the most fun horror experiences this year (the same can be said about the previous one too). The setup is interesting and current, and the twists are both creepy and hilarious. It’s good storytelling and still entertaining as hell. Gosh, I love Justin Long. Currently streaming on HBO Max.

Certainly, Barbarian is one of our best treats this spooky season with ample mystery and pure entertainment value. It’s what you’re looking for, even if you don’t know quite what that entails, but the set design, acting, and perverse, disturbing twists, make Barbarian a worthwhile discovery. Just bring a flashlight.

https://wonderfullyweirdandhorrifying.com/2022/10/26/spooktober-22-day-26-barbarian/

You Won’t Be Alone (Goran Stolevski)

You Won’t Be Alone is a movie that takes its time burrowing into you, but once it does it is hard to forget. This is one that still resonates, feeling like much more than a “horror” making you question identity and life. Currently streaming on peacock.

If parts terrify you, you’ll feel a sense of wonder by its end. There’s a metamorphosis that utilizes the full run time to ensnare the viewer.

It is haunting in its ability to convey what many others attempt. There’s nothing not challenging about this piece of art, but if you give yourself over to You Won’t Be Alone, and let it really sink in, I can’t imagine you not being moved.

https://www.filminquiry.com/sundance-ff-2022-report-3/

Pearl (Ti West)

Pearl, the prequel to X, is definitely superior. The electrifying performance by Mia Goth (Oscars FYC) ensures that this horror is one of the year’s best. Currently available on VOD.

Pearl is a compelling and sinister intro to the character established earlier in the year, taken to new heights by Mia Goth’s striking performance.

https://wonderfullyweirdandhorrifying.com/2022/10/28/spooktober-22-day-28-pearl/

The Innocents (Eskil Vogt)

The Innocents, much like Speak No Evil was one of the horrors this year that burrowed deep under the skin and left a lasting impression. I still shudder thinking about some of the scenes from this movie. Thank you 2022 for showing us that kids can be creepy again. Currently streaming on AMC+.

Shockingly disturbing, discomforting, and entirely evocative; there are scenes from The Innocents that have still not left me, weeks later, and there are feelings trapped, wound with celluloid in their pristine heritage that makes me confirm a truth despite any negative reactions: this is talent.

https://wonderfullyweirdandhorrifying.com/2022/05/28/the-innocents-review/

Prey (Dan Trachtenberg)

Who would think that a new Predator film that was actually a prequel would end up being one of the best of the series? With a standout performance from Amber Midthunder and a fresh, new perspective that utilizes practical effects and delivers on nostalgia, Prey is a must-see. Currently streaming on Hulu.

Deadstream, (Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter)

Deadstream manages to be quite commanding despite being one-setting, a limited cast, and a found-footage-like aesthetic. It’s witty when it needs to be, and disturbing when we need it to be. Currently streaming on AMC+.

I was pleasantly surprised by how hard Deadsteam hit. It was a blast, filled with a delightful blend of hilarity and horror and effects that felt real. It’s a must see for horror lovers! PSA: maybe don’t stay in a haunted house and if you do, bring duct tape. It’s super versatile.

https://www.filminquiry.com/sxsw-2022-report-1/

Sissy (Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes)

Sissy was a delightful surprise that plays with its audience much like our lead, an influencer, might with her fans. We like her, and we root for her, but should we? Currently streaming on AMC+.

Overall, Sissy was a revenge tale that was an unexpected thrill. It causes a variety of emotions ranging from sympathy, to apathy, to disgust before also making you laugh. It’s equal parts sneer as much as it is a smirk. 

https://www.filminquiry.com/sxsw-2022-report-1/

The Sadness (Rob Jabbaz)

This is a head and adrenaline rush. There is no way someone can see this without feeling a little a: woozy, b: uncomfortable, c: downright disgusted. I can imagine some can’t even finish this one but the boldness alone is reason enough for it to end up on this list. Viewers beware, this isn’t for a weak stomach. This film rides at a 10 the whole time, and it never lets up. Currently streaming on AMC+.

Glorious (Rebekah McKendry)

This is one of those films that really should not work as well as it does but manages to be surprisingly humor-tinged, nightmare fuel. Kudos to the cast and the disgusting locale.

The small locale with big consequences is a win for me. Glorious adheres to this idea to create an entertaining movie that writhes with thought and provocation. There’s a lot hiding between its initial grotesque and gory facade. It’s a bloody, neon-tinged nightmare that becomes one man’s reality. In all of its disturbing glory, it shouldn’t be missed.

https://wonderfullyweirdandhorrifying.com/2022/08/15/glorious-2022/

Nope (Jordan Peele)

Nope was one of my most anticipated films of 2022, and while it didn’t hit me the way that Peele’s previous entries did, it was still inventive and a hell of a good time. It’s got science fiction, terrific performances, and some spectacular shots. Please, Mr. Peele, keep creating. Currently streaming on Peacock.

Resurrection (Andrew Semans)

We’ve gotta have at least one movie that ends with a total WTF reaction, yeah? Resurrection has that, in spades. It’s weird, it’s atmospheric and Rebecca Hall proves AGAIN, how spectacular she is. Please Academy, recognize that horror can show some amazing talent. Currently streaming on AMC+.

Resurrection isn’t perfectly done but it brings such an intensity that it’s difficult to ignore. The performances alone are electric. It’s outrageousness will either impress or disgust (maybe both) but you won’t forget it. It bewildered me some.

Smile (Parker Finn)

While Smile may feel a bit like something we’ve seen before it delivers enough thrill and kills (with some great jump scares) to keep you glued to your screen. You may think differently about asking people to smile more after this one. Currently streaming on Paramount+.

Jethica (Pete Ohs)

Jethica is such an independent horror delight that transcends what you’d expect to give you a ghost story worth hunting down. Don’t sleep on it.

Quirky, hilarious, and somehow cathartic, this movie perfects just the right amount of earnest charm. It maximizes on its dry humor while honing it’s bittersweet mentality and terrific performances, all residing within an unique ghost story. Ultimately compelling and wholly original, I loved Jethica.

https://wonderfullyweirdandhorrifying.com/2022/03/15/sxsw-2022-jethica/

Torn Hearts (Brea Grant)

Brea Grant hits the mark again with her newest horror which is just infused with gory, spunky life. It’s a female-driven, country music-filled fight to the top, and Torn Hearts is savage.

An intriguing premise set in a world that doesn’t get its due in the horror game, guided in the confident, talented hands of Brea Grant, with an especially standout and savage performance from Katey Sagal, Torn Hearts shows that the price of stardom may just be signed with blood.

https://www.filminquiry.com/torn-hearts-2022-review/

The Black Phone (Scott Derrickson)

The Black Phone was one of those films that was wildly different than I expected (more of a thriller, suspense than horror) but still felt comfortable in its own skin. I got more of a Devil’s Backbone vibe, and more of a ghost story feel than Ethan Hawke as a psycho movie the trailer enticed. Still, there are some intriguing twists and turns that end up all making sense in the end. Bonus points for the child performances.

Fresh (Mimi Cave)

Sebastian Stan, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Cannibalism, comedy, horror, discomfort. Do I really need to say more? Perhaps, but just watch it and find out for yourself. Fresh deserves its place on this list earning it through ingenuity and lots of limbs.

Fresh works best when it marries the grossness factor with slick black humor, percolating to a place of truly provocative horror. The film really shows promise for Mimi Cave and I can’t wait to see what other delicacies she has in her freezer. Sorry, not sorry for the quips.

https://wonderfullyweirdandhorrifying.com/2022/01/23/sundance-2022-fresh/

Project Wolf Hunting (Kim Hong- sun)

It’s a bloody good show, and by that I mean, it’s entirely blood-soaked. So much carnage. Project Wolf Hunting doesn’t hold back, even for a second, and it makes it an intense, relentless experience. Not currently available on streaming.

It’s full of splatters, disgusting moments, and absurdity. This film is inventive and extravagant, but nonetheless, Project Wolf Hunting is sheer bloody entertainment. A wildly engaging nightmare on the sea.

https://www.filminquiry.com/tiff-report-4/

But wait, there’s more: Watcher. Two Witches, Huesara, A Family Dinner, Slapface, and many others!

Also, some didn’t see these last year, but both are worth highlighting: What Josiah Saw + Hellbender!

2022 has been an exceptional year for horror, and if you haven’t seen enough, please- search them out! There are so many talented writers and directors out there creating originally horrific content! Shudder is also a must-have for any horror fan, they’ve breathed life into the horror streaming game.

Two Witches (2022)

When it comes to any sort of supernatural horror there are certain things that have to hit for me. The most important is an unsettling vibe. You’ve got to nail the mood because that’s the basis for which the horror builds.

Two Witches finds that early but really nurtures it significantly for the second of the two stories at play. In its early moments, it’s less subtle, using more of its dark comedy chops, and jarring features.

This is a film about witches, but also two parables separated into lightly blended chapters. We start with a couple, a young pregnant woman, Sarah (Belle Adams), and her partner Simon (Ian Michaels), who go to visit their friends Dustin (Tim Fox) and Melissa (Dina Silva). Sarah has already been feeling off, paranoid, and like someone is watching. When Dustin and Melissa decide to do a seance, with candles and Ouija boards, things turn amiss. The first half is very much attuned to unsettling imagery, sacrifice, and the cautionary tale of delving into spiritual invocations. Once you go there, can you go back? There is also the sense of old and new practices of witchcraft which make the two stories intriguing.

source: Arrow Films

In the second half, we focus on Masha (Rebekah Kennedy) and her roommate Rachel (Kristina Klebe). The introductory scene is a sexual encounter between Masha and a male partner where she pushes her limits and things turns aggressive. From there we get the idea that Masha is someone that wishes to be special, especially because of her heritage, and soon she even tries to adopt some of Rachel’s life and her experiences.

Basically, be weary of your roommates (hasn’t Single White Female, The Roommate, taught us anything?)

I’m not a jump-scare person per se unless it’s utilized in a creative fashion. Two Witches has some good ones, combining music, camera work, and acting.

The film is very much about curses or gifts as some may interpret, but also the passing of generations and the power that comes with it. In the second half there are interesting turns, and watching Kennedy float through the scenes as her confidence comes surging through is enigmatic to watch. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this horror tale makes it to the holidays and one scene where Masha delivers a “present” is a delightfully wicked scene.

The first half crawls so the second can run. I have some elements that I feel could have been tamed, and others spotlighted, but for the most part, Two Witches settles into an admirable discomfort. Pierre Tsigaridis is definitely a talented director, cinematographer, writer, and editor.

Rebekah Kennedy is really the standout, harnessing a performance of both internal uncertainty and external fire, that is immensely compelling. Two Witches doesn’t hold much back, lingering heavily on quick shots, hallucinations, terrific makeup, and body acting. Sometimes the movie feels a bit off-kilter in the sense of its tonal experience, but what it lacks consistency with writing it makes up for in ambiance and solid performances.

If nothing more can be ascertained one can appreciate that this directorial feature debut is incredibly telling of Pierre Tsigaridis’ talent. This may not be for everyone, but I would say stick it out and be on the lookout for future projects. With a stellar performance from Rebekah Kennedy and an intriguing supernatural take, Two Witches is worth a once-over. Keep the candles lit.

Spooktober 22, Day 31: Halloween (2007)

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, lists, audio, or video may also exist. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

Well, this is the end of Spooktober! Happy Halloween all! Of course, I have to end on a movie with the holiday in the title! This time I’m looking at the 2007 Rob Zombie remake. AKA the grungy, coarser take on the babysitting classic slasher that John Carpenter started.

If you’ve ever seen any of Zombie‘s previous work you know he has no qualms about getting dirty, gory, and disgusting. This takes aspects of the original story but flourishes it with some of its own creative and disturbing choices, the biggest being that Laurie is actually Michael Myer’s sister. It also shows more of Michael as a child, and how he became the killer he is.

After killing his stepfather and his sister he gets locked up where he develops a relationship with Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) who tries to help the young boy as he grows up, but to no avail. When he breaks out 15 years later, he goes back home to look for his sister, played as a teenager by Scout Taylor-Compton on Halloween night.

source: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

In many ways, the remake doesn’t bring anything exactly new to the table, but it still hits some bloody notes that go hard. I think I am a bit kinder to this film than some because I do understand what he was trying to go for with his intent. I love the original Carpenter film, and I’ve found things to appreciate about at least – some – of the sequels, but I find nothing compares to the first for many reasons.

That being said, I think that Zombie has a distinctive take but he’s already coming at a disadvantage when you have a beloved horror villain with an enormous fanbase. There are some thrilling kills, and Scout Taylor-Compton does a terrific job as Laurie, but is ratcheting up the R rating enough? I believe so, and I think after the newest three films maybe some will come back and think more favorably upon a second watch.

Not without its flaws and unevenly paced, Halloween remains an interesting turn for the series, and another opportunity for Zombie to flex his horror muscles.

That concludes Spooktober 22, until next year! Happy Halloween and stay spooky!

Spooktober, 22, Day 30: The Witching Hour (Podcast) With Bailey Jo Josie

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, lists, audio, or video may also exist. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

For the Go, On, Scare Me I decided to invite my good friend, writer/editor Bailey Jo Josie to discuss all things Witchy! After recording, a couple films I meant to discuss popped into my head- Rosemary’s Baby and The Wretched (as we had predicted). We mention a lot of movies/shows so I’m sure there are many more! Happy to report Bailey Jo was right about Black Sunday too!

Have a listen here!

I did a poll regarding people’s favorite witches on Twitter, and Suspiria won (though I’m not sure if it’s the OG or remakes) but there was also some additional, wonderful write-in love for Practical Magic, Teen Witch and You Won’t Be Alone (a movie I loved from last year).

What is your favorite witch movie? And who is your favorite witch? Let me know in the comments!

Spooktober 22, Day 28: Pearl

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

The second of our double dose of Ti West this year, Pearl works as a prequel to the earlier released X, and while it’s a more contained story, it is elevated even more than its predecessor because of the terrific, electrifying performance by Mia Goth.

Pearl (Mia Goth) is waiting for her husband to come back to the war and lives with her judgmental mother and ill father. Pearl dreams of being a star, an actress, or a dancer, but most days are spent caring for the animals and holding onto the idea that she is meant for more.

source: A24

She finds out about an audition in town but tries to keep it a secret. Meanwhile, she meets a local projectionist at a theater (David Corenswet) who also makes her feel like she can make her dreams come true. The two have a connection, but, like most who meet Pearl, this temperamental girl will do anything for her, bottom line.

As a prequel to the horrifying farm where those who face peril in X are, this is more a character study, which allows Goth to dive into the role with a wink and smile amid a cascade of blood.

Pearl is a slasher, origin story that doesn’t let down. I love the contrast of colors with this drab farm, it really makes some moments, especially those that emphasize costume design or violent aesthetics pop. In Pearl, there’s more time living with this character which makes the moments of anger more pointed, and therefore more substantial. That’s not to say that all successful horrors do this, sometimes random unexplained atrocities can be just as effective. In many ways, it is a matter of context, and for this film, we see it

My favorite Ti West is still The House of the Devil, but Pearl has gotten me more intrigued to see where his third in this series will land. This also has one of my favorite end credit sequences (next to A Wounded Fawn) of the year which takes the dread that’s built over the course of the film and reminded you that her story, is most certainly, not over. Her wicked smile is imagery enough to keep you mulling over this one.

Pearl is a compelling and sinister intro to the character established earlier in the year, taken to new heights by Mia Goth’s striking performance.

Pearl is currently available on VOD.

Spooktober 22, Day 27: The Night Eats the World

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

Somehow, we are already on Day 27! I’ve been trying to be as different with my choices as possible because if there’s one truth to horror, it’s that the stories and potential for imagination are near, limitless.

The subgenre of zombie films is a commonly revisited one, and the ones that stand out are usually saying something new. The Night Eats the World (wonderful title) concentrates less on the gore when considering elements of surviving a zombie apocalypse, and instead leans into one man’s journey through the isolation and the danger that lurks outside.

The film starts with musician Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) visiting his ex while she’s having a party in hopes to get some of his things back. When he passes out in one of the rooms he wakes up to find the place empty with blood everywhere. When he makes it outside he realizes that overnight a zombie apocalypse has occurred forcing him to survive on his own. Dominique Rocher creates a movie that focuses on both the unimaginable horror of an event like this, with the imaginable fear of being alone.

A minimalist approach to storytelling when it comes to flesh-eating monsters, Sam is mostly the only character on the screen once things happen. He finds ways to pass the time and keep his sanity, but his loneliness is abundant. A trapped zombie named Alfred (Denis Lavant) provides him some “company” but for the most part, we see the film take its time and we get to know Sam.

In some ways, it may sound like it would be a slog, and perhaps for action junkies it could, but it’s genuinely compelling. I found myself intrigued watching him be methodical about collecting survival gear or building musical instruments out of random items. That’s not to say there aren’t at least a few encounters with some bloody chompers, but the horror of the film instead is wrapped around a convincing character study and his internal and external struggles.

The Night Ate the World is unhurried, thought-provoking, and features an absorbing performance from Anders Danielsen Lie to make something new out of an aged premise.

The Night Ate the World is currently streaming on AMC+

Spooktober 22, Day 26: Barbarian

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

One of my most anticipated films of the year has finally arrived digitally and I was able to experience the unforgettable, and one of the more creative of the 2022 horrors: Barbarian.

It’s always smart to use an aspect of the current climate as fodder for scares, and in the day and age where Airbnb’s are commonly booked, it’s got its finger right on our pulse. And yes, Barbarian ratches up our heart rates.

source: 20th Century Studios

Could there be something worse than booking a house for the night only to arrive and have it already occupied by another? Well, yes, yes there certainly is, which we will get to, but even that is terrifying in and of itself.

When Tess (Georgina Campbell) arrives it’s late, pouring rain and she just wants to settle in. But, the key isn’t in the lockbox and the person she booked with isn’t answering. Then a light comes on, and opening the door is Keith (Bill Skarsgård) who also paid and secured the room on a different, similar site.

The predicament has Tess on edge, rightfully so, and she almost leaves and finds somewhere else to stay. Maybe it’s Keith’s charm or the fact that he has an answer or solution, for all of her concerns, but she ends up staying the night with her in the bedroom and him on the couch.

There’s most definitely an element played up here that keeps the audience on edge, suspecting, unsure who we can trust or what is happening, but just accepting the truth that this is most definitely going to get dark. The two have a great rapport, and bond over some wine, and there’s even a sense that maybe these two could have a real connection. If, they both have a future that is.

The next day’s light shows the neighborhood in Detroit that she’s in is completely dilapidated, with this being the only home still standing. Coincidence? Not likely.

source: 20th Century Studios

AJ (Justin Long) is an actor in LA that seems to be on top of the world until he’s accused of rape by a coworker. His life quickly unravels and his finances dwindle so he heads to Detroit to liquidate a property he owns. Can you guess which one? When he arrives and notices that it looks like someone has been staying there (or two) he investigates.

I’m not going to give much more plot detail than that, but I will say that there’s something sinister that resides below. Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, and Justin Long are all fantastic. Long despite being a rather dislikable tool at times, is absolutely hilarious (he always is) adding some lovely humor to color this grim, strange story with occasional laughter.

Writer/director Zach Cregger employs a lot of misdirection and ensures that Barbarian is quite surprising at every turn.

Certainly, Barbarian is one of our best treats this spooky season with ample mystery and pure entertainment value. It’s what you’re looking for, even if you don’t know quite what that entails, but the set design, acting, and perverse, disturbing twists, make Barbarian a worthwhile discovery. Just bring a flashlight.

Barbarian is currently streaming on HBO Max

Spooktober 22, Day 25: Cat’s Eye

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

Stephen King rocks. If you don’t already know this, somehow, I’m happy to consistently remind you.

The anthology film Cat’s Eye is one of those lesser-known King ventures, despite him having penned the screenplay (his first solo) based on two of his own short stories (both from Night Shift), and one new one. This screams King in all the ways you may expect, and others, well, they may just surprise you.

It follows three stories linked through a cat, and it’s chock full of Easter eggs and is darkly hilarious. It feels a lot like Creepshow but somehow gets significantly less traction. Lewis Teague directs the interestingly offbeat breed of storytelling that is Cat’s Eye.

The first story stars James Woods about a man who signs up for a service to help him quit smoking, but the terms…well, they may require quite the sacrifice. It’s got a wicked burn this one, and Woods is perfect in the role. It is my favorite of the three and starts the movie with a bang.

source: MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

Next, our kitty companion takes us to a wealthy man’s (Kenneth McMillan) own twisted vengeful obsession with gambling to new heights when he bets his wife’s lover won’t make it around the building on a tiny ledge. While I feel it’s the weakest, it’s still wildly entertaining.

Finally, we visit a young girl (Drew Barrymore) who is being tormented by a small troll in her walls. It’s delightfully campy with a tricky little creature that doesn’t want to let up, and a girl no one believes. But the troll is cute, he’s got bells on his hat like a court jester and just wants to suck the life out of children!

Cat’s Eye is pure, bizarre camp with just the right amount of Stephen King’s signature terror.

Cat’s Eye is currently streaming on HBO Max

Spooktober 22, Day 24: Carnival of Souls

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

The alienating feeling begins swiftly and remains wrapped around Herk Harvey’s 1962 film Carnival of Soul until its final scene. This isn’t a movie that thrives on visual scares, but instead, the effects of trauma, psychological peril, and the sense that you’re misplaced.

That’s not to say the film isn’t creepy, it’s just delivered in a way where the fear is read in the eyes of our lead, and in the well of loneliness, you see in her tears.

source: Herts-Lion International Corp.

Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) is the only survivor of a horrible car accident. She tries to put it behind her and start anew, getting a job as a church organist, and settling into a boarding house in Salt Lake City. Soon though, she is haunted by visions of a man, and other disruptions that begin to unravel her grip on reality. She’s also fascinated with the site of an old carnival pavilion as if something is pulling her towards it.

Carnival of Souls is definitely eerier than it is scary, made on a small budget, without any of the more pushy aesthetics or violence that so often accompanies the genre. Here it works, though it wouldn’t be surprising to find that some viewers think it tedious. For me, the 80 minutes went by in a flurry, and I can see how this paved the way for many films to follow (one, in particular, I won’t mention because it spoils the twist). I love tracing the inspirations in horror throughout the beginning of the film. Each time I discover a new one it’s like coloring in the picture a bit more.

Carnival of Souls isn’t a complete stunner for me (though damn close) but it’s a resonating, effective piece of work that nudges those feelings of lonesomeness we often face with a moody, nightmare-tinged quality.

Carnival of Souls is currently streaming on Amazon Prime

Spooktober 22, Day 23: Cat People (1982)

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, lists, audio, or video may also exist. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

Earlier in the month, I saw the first Cat People, loved it, and covered it for Spooktober. Forty years later we got another Cat People, this time directed by Paul Schrader which is wildly different. Of course, I had to watch it, and now that I have, I feel compelled to write about it.

source: Image Entertainment Inc., MCA/Universal Pictures 

Irena (Nastassja Kinski) has just arrived in New Orleans, meeting up with her brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell) who she hasn’t seen since they were kids. The film doesn’t really touch on where she’s been after their parent’s death, more than a brief dialogue, but it isn’t entirely necessary. This movie has some supernatural teeth and it doesn’t waste time before biting.

When a woman is attacked by a black leopard, it is then trapped in a hotel room and local zoo employees including zoologist Oliver Yates (John Heard), and Alice (Annette O’Toole) come to take it in. They bring the leopard to their zoo, and Irena finds herself drawn to it, where she also meets Oliver, who she falls in love with.

If you know the story at all, you’ll know that being intimate with another triggers the shape-shifting ability in an uncontrollable, bloodthirsty fashion. Something her brother Paul knows a lot about.

There are some callbacks to the original, including the diner and pool scene, with similar bones and ideas but warped into something weird and feral. It’s sexy, it’s sensual, and it’s strangely intoxicating. I found myself mesmerized at times by the texture of it, the horror, and the magic of watching Natassja Kinski, who is truly captivating. It also has some genuinely creepy scenes.

I totally dug how charged the movie felt, from its opening gorgeous scene to its end. Throughout the film we hear the music from David Bowie’s Cat People track, but not until the final shot do we get to experience it, and hear him belt out the lyrics.

I can see why some people may not love this version, and I try not to compare it negatively to the original, which holds its own in unique but varied ways. If the 1942 version was our quiet intro, the 1982 one is the loud, controversial counterpart. More violent and extroverted than its predecessor this is less thought-provoking, but more visceral.

Paul Schrader makes this movie his own and I found it to be intoxicating, strange, and at times horrific- a reimagining served with a side of mysticism that is certainly never dull.

Cat People is currently streaming on the Criterion Channel.