Assistant Editor Jay Alary shares with us his picks for October viewing in his Letterboxd watchlist: LETTERBOXD IN FOR THE NIGHT:

“It’s October and you’re scrolling through multiple streaming platforms on your TV and nothing is jumping out with distinction (it’s difficult when films are reduced to a tiny thumbnail picture, which, more times than not, does not accurately sum up a film’s worth—I’m looking at you, Netflix); you stare at your Blu-ray collection numbly, the spines all blending together in an unrecognizable hodgepodge of overused fonts and colors (always red), as you grapple with indecision. (Even the dedicated folks who organize their shelves by boutique label and Criterion spine numbers can be struck down by this affliction.) This demoralizing disease strikes deeply in even the most ardent horror fanatic: Is the right mood for a simple ‘80s slasher, or maybe tonight’s ripe for a gut-munching zombie movie? What about a lush, historical folk horror flick, or a slimy creature feature? Thankfully, there will be multiple Grumpire October viewing lists to help you out, but here are a few of the standouts from my list:

Raw (2016)

Julia Ducournau’s debut film is a startling debut and one of the best contemporary horror films I’ve seen in years—leave it to the French to show North Americans how to freshen up several subgenres (coming of age, cannibalism, body horror) at the same time by mixing them together to make something truly original! After a cruel hazing incident at veterinary school, Juliette (Garance Marillier) undergoes a drastic personal transformation: Once a vegetarian, she now craves raw meat, which doesn’t satisfy, until a freak accident awakens her inner cannibalistic urges. Marillier’s performance feels so very natural, a shy young woman who didn’t ask for an extreme biological imperative to crash her formative post-secondary years; one can’t help but be moved by her plight. Ducournau’s twisted tribute to body horror maestro David Cronenberg is inspired, creating an unforgettable film synthesis that will liven up your Halloween viewing. (Ducournau’s sophomore effort, Titane [2021], is also highly recommended, but also not for the timid cinephile.)

The Guardian (1990)

William Friedkin’s recent passing saddened many a cinephile: Who could argue against a filmography that includes The French Connection, The Exorcist, Sorcerer, Cruising, To Live and Die in LA, and Killer Joe? Not many would include The Guardian on that list, but it’s a nearly-forgotten film curiosity that deserves a second chance. To be clear, it’s no masterpiece, but a horror film focusing on a killer tree in the middle of urban Los Angeles that requires babies to sustain itself demands a modicum of attention! Friedkin and The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty always had a bit of an adversarial relationship, and despite Friedkin protests that The Exorcist wasn’t a horror film, here he is trying to show us how to make a proper horror film, unconventional though it is, and, not coincidentally, at the same time that Blatty directed his adaptation of his book Legion that ended up being The Exorcist III (1990); I don’t believe in coincidences in Hollywood. I haven’t given much a plot synopsis because there really isn’t one: The cast does their best to sell the outlandish premise of an ancient killer tree and if the film fails, it’s still a fascinating failure to behold. Watch a double feature of The Guardian and The Exorcist III and decide who is the winner of Weird Horror Films of 1990!

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

“‘Who are you, my mom?’ Supreme Grump herself, Elbee, wrote to me upon hearing that this film was on my October watch list; she’s not wrong. Long a staple of Boomer movie memories, I have a soft spot for this ridiculous, wonderful last gasp of the Universal Movie Monster Machine. (Yeah yeah, I know all about the Creature of the Black Lagoon movies, but Gill Man has never felt quite right standing beside Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolf Man, and the Mummy—he can sit in the far corner at the kiddie table.) I grew up reading about the classic Universal monsters in the beloved Crestwood House Monster books (I didn’t actually get to watch any of these movies until the CBC broadcast them when I was in my late teens), but Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein aired on TV frequently in my early childhood, so my dad sat me down and introduced me to his favorite comedy duo. (I saw this film long before the classic “Who’s on First?” routine.) Sixty years before the insipid Marvel Cinematic Universe (part of me just died writing that phrase), Universal Pictures had squeezed their monster properties dry with successive sequels with diminishing budgets and talent (I love Bela Lugosi as the King of the Vampyres, but he is miscast woefully as the Monster in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman). Back then, Universal had merged with International Pictures and after a few years of box office failures needed a hit; Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were one of the few big-name acts still on the payroll, so hey, why not make a monster comedy picture? Even though it’s nearly twenty years since Tod Browning’s Dracula, Lugosi doesn’t fail to charm viewers and plays the character straight, as does Lon Chaney Jr.’s perpetual sad-sack Larry Talbot (aka the Wolfman for you kids), so it’s up to the boys to do the comedy heavy lifting, and they deliver–Lou Costello’s signature raspy hyperventilating is in fine form here. Even if the comedy duo eats their hamburgers in a strange way (no condiments other than salt and a lot of pepper), they are simply wonderful mixing it up with supernatural hokum in this delightfully archaic monster mash.


Check out Jay’s list for these chilling picks and more!

For more October viewing selections, be sure to take a look at our 2023 Guide to Spooky Streaming
…and of course…

Follow us on Letterboxd!