October is the time of year when the horror genre cannot be escaped. The studios put out new movies every week, your local revival theaters do all-night horror marathons (as I write this, I just got back from one, in fact), and pretty much every TV show does a "scary" episode - if you needed any further proof that Community was genius, last year they managed to pull off an in-continuity zombie outbreak.
It's also the time when my Horror Movie A Day Google alert is mostly filled with people who are not me, as they attempt to watch a horror movie every day in October. I get asked every now and then if this bothers me, and it doesn't - as long as they don't change the name of their blog to "Horror Movie A Day" (or flat out steal my reviews, as at least one misguided girl has done in the past), I'm all for it. I'm sure I wasn't the first to try (I actually got the idea from Kevin Murphy's book "A Year At The Movies"), and besides - folks should be watching horror movies all the time! Plus, someday I AM going to get tired of this and quit - maybe I can pick one of these budding obsessives to be my successor.
Sadly, I also see that a lot of these folks don't actually make it. They start off OK, but then that first Friday comes along and they get home from work and decide to go out with friends or play Xbox instead of watching a movie, or whatever the excuse. I'm not going to lie - I've actually had to leave a party early, or wake up 90 minutes earlier on a busy day to get a movie in for the day, which is just as depressing to do as it is to hear, I assure you. Absolutely no one would know if I "cheated", but I stick to my guns, dammit! I swear on my pop's grave that I have not missed a day since February 16, 2007 (I started on February 7th, I should add).
But what I realized is that as time went on, it became a lot easier. What was difficult at first (again, I missed a movie after just 9 days) is now just a part of my day, and it's only when projects spring up out of nowhere (such as the work I did on Chillerama - now on VOD!) do I come close to missing my "deadline". And since you folks doing this for October won't get a chance to have it become part of your everyday life - it's just 31 days (well, 27 now, but if you've already screwed up you are hopeless) - I thought I'd offer up some advice that should help you succeed at a full 31 days of horror as planned. Take it from a pro!
1. Mix It Up.
One of the "rules" I set for HMAD is that every day is a new movie or one I saw so long ago that I can't really remember much about it (i.e. as a kid, though now high school has entered eligibility as I'm getting damn old). And while this has obviously allowed me to see a ton of great flicks I never would have seen otherwise, it also means that favorites don't get re-watched as much as they used to. My favorite horror movie from 2010 was Splice, and I still haven't watched it a second time.
On the other hand, if I was watching stuff I'd already seen, it would probably be a lot easier to cheat. Do I need to actually sit down and watch, say, Halloween 4 again if I wanted to write a review? Of course not - I've seen it probably 30 times. So for you guys, I recommend an even blend of new films and treasured favorites, preferably on alternating days. If today's new movie is a stinker, you can look forward to revisiting a classic tomorrow. And if that beloved movie from childhood that you're re-watching for the first time since you were 6 turns out to be not as great as you remember, then maybe tomorrow's new film will supply the entertainment that "classic" no longer does.
2. Don't Procrastinate.
Nothing's worse than those days that I get busy on projects or actual work and realize it's 10pm or so and haven't watched a movie yet when all I want to go is go to bed. But they sting even more when I realize that I could have watched something earlier in the day but opted to spend 2 hours reading every new article on AVClub and getting into Twitter fights or something. Obviously, it's a lot more fun to watch horror flicks at night, but if you know things might come up once the sun falls, pull the shades down and get it out of the way.
3. Netflix Is Your Friend.
I mock Netflix streaming quite a bit, and will never pass up the opportunity to point out a piss-poor or cropped transfer, or even a censored version of the film on occasion (avoid their stream of Deep Red!). But the truth is, it's saved HMAD's butt on numerous occasions, thanks to their deep selection of independent horror films. While I try to stick to stuff I've at least heard of, there are those days when I'm between rental discs and things in my own collection, and thus those no budget, "Where did they find this?" options are my only choice. Also, you can find a lot of movies that are around 70 minutes, another godsend for those busy days when a 130 minute opus like Dawn of the Dead is just not feasible.
4. Invest In A Budget Pack.
I talked a bit about these before, and while I've more or less dried up my supply, I'm guessing the same can't be said about you fine folks. Yes the transfers suck and most of the movies deserve their status as public domain junk that literally costs pennies for you to own, but there are a number of gems on each set that justify the cost of the 50 movie set. Plus, with 4-5 movies a disc, they're nice and portable - 6 discs and a laptop can supply your entire month! Also, if you're not just sticking to stuff you already own, it's a super cheap way to provide options.
5. Don't Be A Dick.
This is for those who are writing about the movie as well. It can be fun and even a bit cathartic to rip apart from piece of junk, but don't make it personal. The director might not know how to block a scene or direct his actors, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a "fucking retard" or something similarly colorful. Keep in mind that there are tons of folks doing this sort of thing - stick out by being the most insightful, not the most hateful. We can read inane trash-talk 365 days of the year on the IMDb. Be better than that!
But most importantly, just remember why you started doing it in the first place - presumably, you love horror movies. Sometimes I get in a "rut" and don't like anything I watch for nearly an entire week, and it's enough to make me want to quit. However, then I remember one of the reasons I started doing this (to find gems I never would have seen otherwise), and realize that it's worth sifting through a lot of trash to find those treasures. In other words, if you find yourself watching DTV Dimension sequels back to back to back, do not despair! It WILL get better!!!
Good luck! And make sure Mike Dougherty's Trick R' Treat is one of your movies!