October is here once again, which means all things spooky, creepy, and outright horrifying are currently making their way into the homes of millions of people – through their screens, of course. All Halloween aficionados know that this is the month where we attempt to watch as many horror movies as we can, marathoning as much blood and guts as anyone might be able to stand (or delight in). It may as well be a sacred tradition.
In that spirit, Knotfest has called on our very own Ryan J. Downey as well as resident film critic Nicolás Delgadillo to put together two individual lists of vital Halloween horror picks for every day of the month. The wide variety of macabre favorites range from classics to more obscure cult films and feature zombies, demons, serial killers, vampires, and monsters of all kinds from all different eras.
Today’s first pick takes us back to the 60s with a bloodsoaked vampire tale, while the other takes a look at one of the most potently scary movies of the last decade.
‘A Taste of Blood’ (1967) Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
The poster for this drive-in ready b-movie promises “a ghastly tale drenched with gouts of blood spurting from the writhing victims of a madman’s lust!”
A Taste of Blood is a vampire tale, one involving the most famous vampire of all, in fact. “Splatter” genre mastermind H.G. Lewis (Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red) directs and while it’s not really all that gory by modern standards (and at two hours, a bit long for a movie of this type), it’s a fun watch with some menacing moments and a fairly imaginative plot.
Businessman John Stone (Bill Rogers) accidentally becomes a vampire after drinking some brandy gifted to him via inheritance which just so happened to contain the blood of Dracula. It turns out Stone is a descendent of the Count. Naturally, he makes it his mission to track down all of the descendants of the people who killed Count Dracula and make them pay. Elizabeth Lee (Something Weird) costars as Stone’s wife, Helene. The cast also includes William Kerwin (a regular player in Lewis films). Lewis cameos.
‘The Babadook’ (2014) Directed by Jennifer Kent
Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent originally started her career in front of the camera with roles in various television shows, but the course of her life was forever changed upon viewing Lars von Trier’s 2000 film Dancer in the Dark. Kent was so affected by it that she wrote to the prolific Danish filmmaker directly requesting that she study under him, which miraculously, he agreed to.
Years later, Kent would leave her own impact on cinema with her unshakable 2014 feature debut The Babadook, a genuinely terrifying tale of a burnt out and grief-stricken mother named Amelia (Essie Davis) attempting to care for her troubled young son (Noah Wiseman). The sudden appearance of a strange and unnerving children’s book called Mister Babadook in their home signals the start of inexplicable and horrific events that quickly take their toll on the already overburdened Amelia.
With a pair of phenomenal performances and a shockingly brilliant script and direction from Kent, The Babadook is one of the greatest modern horror films in the way its titular monster is second only to Amelia’s own fractured and strained mental state. The incredibly real fears of parenthood are just as paralyzing as supernatural horrors, and Kent’s combination of the two makes for a masterful debut.
Knotfest 2021 Halloween Horror Coverage: