From the vintage Italian horror of Mario Bava to the modern claustrophobic chills of Neil Marshall’s The Descent, get your fix of essential holiday viewing.
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 picks are wildly different from one another. One is a colorful and sultry giallo film of the 60s while the other is a gory and intense survival flick from the mid-2000s. Both are must-sees.
‘Blood and Black Lace’ (1964) Directed by Mario Bava
A particularly enchanting entry in the filmography of Italian horror master Mario Bava (Black Sunday, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Black Sabbath), the appropriately titled Blood and Black Lace is a murder mystery set in the world of high fashion. It’s an erotic horror flick made in Europe in 1964, so it’s full of gorgeous scenery, stunning cinematography (courtesy of frequent Bava collaborator Ubaldo Terzano), and beautiful people.
Primary among them is Eva Bartok, a Hungarian-British actress who rose from a painful childhood during the Second World War to the silver screen, in perhaps her best-known role. Bartok confessed to an affair with Frank Sinatra, and it’s easy to see why ole’ Blue Eyes would be taken with her.
Cameron Mitchell, a Broadway and MGM player who later starred in exploitation films in the seventies, is the male lead. The opening sequence introduces us to the mysterious killer, whose stark white and featureless mask is the stuff of nightmares, and the grisly murder of a model named Isabella. Isabella kept a diary, full of lurid and potentially incriminating details about the Christian Haute Couture staff.
Cocaine, pills, sex, murder… Everyone is beautiful and everyone is a suspect.
‘The Descent’ (2005) Directed by Neil Marshall
If there’s some reason why you haven’t watched The Descent, Neil Marshall’s horror masterpiece that gives me chills just thinking about it, then it’s high time you hopped on that train. The film follows a group of women who set off on a caving expedition when pretty much everything goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange and terrifying breed of predators.
The Descent was a landmark moment for horror in the 2000s; an intense and claustrophobic nightmare that employed multiple tricks of the trade to scare the ever-loving shit out of unsuspecting audiences. Once those women enter that cave, you know there’s no going back.
Knotfest 2021 Halloween Horror Coverage: