In June or July of 2013, I was driving home from work after a particularly late night when I suddenly panicked: I hadn't watched a horror movie yet that day! I had a bit of time to get one started before the 11:59pm cutoff, but had no idea what to watch and was also pretty tired to boot. Luckily, after a few seconds I remembered that I no longer watched a horror movie every day of my goddamn life, having "retired" at the end of March that year, and thus was free to go home and go to bed like a normal human being. I assume it was because I was so tired that I actually forgot this crucial bit of information for a moment or two, but I later realized it made sense - when you do something every day for over six years, it's bound to take some time to totally adjust to not doing it.
There should be an asterisk in that "every day" part, however. I did miss one day: February 16th, 2007 - a mere nine days after I started. Why I didn't just watch one in the morning before we left is beyond me, but that day my wife and I drove down to Laguna Beach for a long weekend trip to celebrate our (dating) anniversary, but I didn't let the romance get in the way of my self-promised goal for the other days. I didn't have a portable player at the time so we watched The Hitcher (the original) and Dead Mary (a not good cabin-in-the-woods thing with Dominique Swain) on her tiny laptop; the first of many occasions where she'd actually contributed to my commitment to this odd pact, instead of divorcing me on general principle. Our wedding anniversary a few years later was marred by The Final (one of the lesser After Dark efforts), we raced home from Disneyland to watch the not-good 1983 anthology Nightmares (the closest I ever came to missing a 2nd day - I think it was like 11:53 pm when I started it up), and who knows how many times she had to forgo watching one of her TV shows (on DVR I mean, I'm not a monster) so I could hijack the TV for a killer scarecrow movie I didn't even want to watch.
But I knew that if I ever let things like anniversaries or family trips be an excuse to skip a day, I'd find more excuses. My own birthday, Christmas, Comic-Con... all these days where carving out two hours to watch a movie (and possibly another hour or so to write, if I was already far behind on posting reviews) was more of a hassle than the average day would be skipped, I'm sure. No, I knew that if I missed just one more day, it would be that much easier to make it two. Three. Ten. A month? OK, probably not that bad, but you get the idea - I couldn't make excuses and miss another, because it'd just make it that much harder to get back in the groove. The reason for that panic is because it really WAS just a part of my day at one point; after a year (if even that long) I was no more likely to miss a day than I was to forget to eat breakfast or go to work. It just part of my day: I wake up, I shower, I eat my bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats, I go to work, I drive home, I watch Children of the Corn 47, I go to bed. When things like Comic-Con came up, I just had to plan ahead, something that also became second nature after a while (not to mention easier once I did obtain a portable DVD player).
Still, the one day I missed stuck out, and I'd continue to mark its infamy every year, either on Twitter or in that day's review. So when I realized that I had finally, FINALLY finished nitpicking my draft of Horror Movie A Day: The Book in late January (and all three editors, including Meredith, had finished suffering my tenuous grasp on verb tense, refusal to spell out numbers, and abhorrent overuse of the phrase "and stuff"), I knew that February 16th *had* to be the day I released the damn thing. If there was ever a way to make up for my one-time lapse, it would be unleashing this beast on its anniversary. Nine years ago today I fucked up - today I atone, with a digest of the suffering I endured for 2,235 days after it.
If you haven't seen me describe it on Twitter (or on the Killer POV podcast!), the book is a hand-picked selection of 366 memorable titles from the site's daily run - one for every day of the year (including leap year). The chapters are broken down by month, each of which carries its own theme - February is all slashers, for example, and next month's chapter provides you with 31 movies about murderous children (with a few about the loss of a child that I threw in for good measure). But I wanted to retain the sense of discovery that the site offered me, so there are very few famous movies highlighted in the book. You probably just read "there's a month of slasher movies" and figured that I picked Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, Friday the 13th Part 4, etc - i.e. the movies I love and will use any excuse to talk about. Alas, I figured that would be as boring to write as it would be to read, and wouldn't really be in the spirit of the site. I did this for so long because I loved discovering "new-to-me" movies that I may otherwise never have seen, if not for my need to find something to watch every single day of the year. So the book, to the best of my abilities, attempts to give that same experience to you (you being the wonderful person who buys it from Amazon at that handy link below!), avoiding the usual titles in favor of the smaller gems. Sure, I would have seen some of these films for one reason or another (mostly festival entries), but the bulk of the titles in the book are the ones that I saw because I had to see something and it happened to be that. My beloved Cathy's Curse, for example - I sincerely doubt I'd ever come across it if not scouring a Mill Creek budget pack for something to watch on April 10, 2007. To this day the only people I know who have seen it have done so because I kept yelling at them to watch it - the thought of going through life having never seen it chills me to the bone.
Of course, if they were all perfect movies like Cathy's Curse*, you probably would have heard of them by now, and likely seen them for yourself. There aren't a lot of masterpieces contained within the book's massive 800 pages (more than 2/3s of which is completely new material - it's not just copies of the reviews), and I'm pretty up front about that. The month devoted to indie horror has a lot of bad performances; the zombie month has some "so bad it's good" type entries, and there are more than a couple entries for movies that I didn't really like much at all, but for some reason keep thinking about and assume you will just enjoy them more than I was able to. It'd be easy to just pick "the 365 best movies!" and that'd be that, but I wanted to avoid things like "best" or "top 10" or whatever. People always argue with those and call you an idiot, or throw out the dreaded "You forgot ______"; maybe if you tell them that a movie has a few flaws but is worth seeing, they'll have less ammo to argue with me. Maybe they'll even agree! They certainly can't tell me I forgot a movie when my only criteria was to pick 366 movies that stood out, several years and a couple thousand movies later. Is Red Velvet the "best" slasher of all time? No. But after watching hundreds of them, I can almost guarantee that it's the only one that tackles the usual slasher story in its particular way, and so it's in the book. These are the movies that do something different, worming their way into my very tired brain despite their occasional flaws.
Because one thing that's important to keep in mind is that 2,500 movies is a LOT to watch within one genre, even one as wide-reaching as horror (Sports Drama A Day wouldn't last very long, I suspect). There was a lot of repetition, and as the years went on, a lot of feeling like it was a chore more than a strange way to find new things to watch. So the fact that the very last movie I watched (Stitches) is in the book should tell you something - right up to the end I was finding things to like, and they were leaving an impression on me when my brain had been so overwhelmed by all the anonymous junk I consumed day in and day out for longer than most TV shows stay on the air. Is everyone that reads the book going to like Stitches as much as I did? No. But there are people out there who don't like The Thing or The Shining either, so if there's always going to be *someone* sitting there calling me a moron, why not dig deeper? I skipped those movies and focused on things like Gnaw, the British Texas Chain Saw Massacre homage that uses its obvious love for that film's narrative to pull the rug out from under the viewer a couple times. Who is going to finally watch/love TCM because I said so over forty years after it was released? No one. But Gnaw? I can probably make a few fans out of that one - so it's in the book, as November 16th's entry!
The book also has a lot of great art by a variety of artists. Every month has a theme, and every chapter begins with a sketch of me being killed/menaced by a generalized approximation of that theme. I've included Joe Badon's image for May, which is one of my favorite chapters - a collection of really fucking weird horror movies like Things and The Baby. I know it's a book of horror recommendations, but I wanted to make it fun to just read like a normal book if you so choose, and the art really helps get that idea across.
People asked me for a book for years, and I knew it would be a long endeavor that would, like the site itself, keep me from doing other things. But I never lost the desire to do it, because of one major thing: I just love horror movies, and I wanted to shine a light on the ones that help shape that love. They're not necessarily my favorite movies of all time; hell, most of them I've only seen once. But as I read and reread the book over and over while editing and revising (not one but TWO entries had to be rewritten when a principal player died), I kept thinking about how wonderful it would have been if these movies - pulled from the entire six year run - were actually watched back to back over the course of a year as presented in the book. No bad Paranormal Activity ripoffs, no slashers made by people who haven't the first clue about why we like the slashers we do, no movies that quite literally offer "torture porn" that movies like Hostel and Saw were accused of... just 366 movies in a row that, while imperfect, put a smile on my face, and gave me the drive to go another day. I wanted to do this book to prove it was worth the effort, that sifting through all that rubbish did yield, if not always pure gold, a lot of damn fine silver. Ten or twenty years from now, when my bad memory has wiped out the last strong recollection I have about any of these films, I'll grab the book off the shelf** and use it to know what to watch. Same as I hope you do now.
Luckily, I'm not the only one who wants you to spend five bucks - here's the press release, which makes it all official-like!
BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH. PUBLISHING ANNOUNCES ITS FOURTH EBOOK, HORROR MOVIE A DAY: THE BOOK BY BRIAN W. COLLINS
Austin, TX – February 16, 2016 – Birth.Movies.Death is thrilled to announce the fourth title in its publishing label: Brian W. Collins’ HORROR MOVIE A DAY: THE BOOK. The ebook is available beginning today on Amazon’s Kindle Direct for $4.95.
For over six years, Collins watched and reviewed a different horror movie every single day for his site, HorrorMovieADay.com. Most of them stunk. With over 2500 reviews on the Horror Movie A Day site, finding the worthwhile titles can be a chore, so Collins has curated a selection of choice films - 365 of them, in fact, one for every day of the year. Each month has a different theme and offers a variety of films within that theme for your viewing enjoyment. Every movie is someone's favorite movie - perhaps this book will introduce you to yours.
HORROR MOVIE A DAY: THE BOOK follows FilmCritHULK’s SCREENWRITING 101, Evan Saathoff’s MADEA LIVES! and Britt Hayes’ I SHOULD JUST NOT on the Birth.Movies.Death.publishing label, exhibiting BMD’s diverse and talented lineup of writers and content. Of Collins, Birth.Movies.Death. Editor-in-Chief Devin Faraci says, “It takes a special - and weird- kind of dedication to watch a horror movie a day every single day for six years, but if someone had to do it, I'm glad it was Brian Collins. His knowledge, sense of humor and sheer love for horror make him the ultimate guide through horror films both obscure and obvious.”
“Part of the reason I stopped watching and reviewing movies every day was to work on this book, selecting all of the horror films worth watching and leaving the rest where they belong - on my silly website. If nothing else you should buy the book because it finally offers the black over white text readers have requested for nearly a decade,” says Collins.
HORROR MOVIE A DAY: THE BOOK is available for $4.95 through Amazon’s Kindle Direct. It features 365 horror film recommendations, one for every day of the year, as well as a foreword by MY BLOODY VALENTINE, DRIVE ANGRY, THE MESSENGERS and JASON X writer Todd Farmer and art from a variety of artists, including JB Sapienza, Nathan Chesshir, Eric Shonborn, Joe Badon and Jacopo Tenani. The cover art is by JB Sapienza. You can pick up your copy HERE.
About Birth.Movies.Death. The three most monumental aspects of any life. Springing from the movie-loving culture of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, Birth.Movies.Death. is putting the fun back in being a nerd. We know that people who love movies also love travel, good beer, tasty food, cool clothes and keeping up with the weirdest, craziest corners of pop culture. From cult classics to new blockbusters, from the latest TV shows to this week's comic books, from the BBQ to the brewpub, B.M.D. is there to find the treasures, even - especially! - in trash. What does Birth.Movies.Death. mean? It means you are born, you die and in between you go to the movies. It's a name that reflects the centrality of movies in our experience, in our lives. And it reflects the fact that the movies contain and comment on everything about life itself.
P.S. If you pre-ordered and already downloaded it, you are a hero. But also you got a slightly glitched copy. Keep an eye out for an email from Amazon alerting you to an update. In the meantime, when you open the book for the first time, if it's on Todd Farmer's intro, PLEASE SWIPE BACK a few pages to read the special thanks. These folks volunteered their time and deserve recognition, which is why I put them on page 1. Unfortunately, Amazon thought it was just boring legal crap and defaults to skip past it. If you notice anything else amiss, please tweet or email me to let me know. Thank you!
* Perfect to ME.
** I understand that there will be a print version if the ebook proves to be successful enough to warrant risking the cost of all that paper in today's digital-leaning world. So if you want the print one, please support the e-version now. I will do something special for those who took the leap of faith, I promise.