Daily Horror Movie

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Next up: We hit the road with “Race With the Devil.”

“Race with the Devil” is a scary movie for people who don’t like scary movies. It follows two couples as a relaxing RV vacation turns into, you guessed it, a race with the devil. On their first night camping in the woods, Roger (Peter Fonda) and Frank (Warren Oates) stumble upon a satanic ritual and witness the murder of a young female sacrifice. Their wives call out to them, interrupting the ritual. The four are terrorized in various Satanic ways as they try to reach Amarillo.

This movie is less horror and more occult thriller because there’s lots of Satanism, 70’s car chases and Fonda throwing flaming shaman bags full of gasoline, rendering the parts that could have been scary into delightful camp. It’s difficult to be frightened by the rattlesnakes that jump out of the cabinet because they land on dated orange and brown shag carpet and Oates tromps around in pointy boots and bellbottoms in an effort to kill them.

While the identity of the cult is revealed at the last minute, it’s pretty obvious throughout the entire film that - shocker - every person the couples come in contact with are part of the cult. From the unmoved sheriff they first show the kill site to, to the over-friendly RV camp neighbors that take them out to a bar so another Satanist can kill Fonda’s dog.

Just because “Race with the Devil” is predictable doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. It’s 88 minutes of super slow climax, with the last 20 minutes turning into one of the greatest car chases you’ve ever seen. “Race with the Devil” offers up the whole nine yards of action movies and occult thrillers, wrapped in the glorious cheese that is 70’s cinema.

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today, "Signs" brings aliens and M. Night Shyamalan to the Daily Horror Movie.

There is always something terrifyingly memorable about your first experience with scary movies. No matter the realism of the monsters, no matter the intensity of the suspense, you vividly remember the first time a motion picture frightened you out of your wits. I was nine years old when I saw “Signs,” arguably the last of M. Night Shyamalan’s good movies. Up until that point, the scariest moments in movies to me were the flying monkeys from “Wizard of Oz” and the giant worm scene from “Star Wars.”

I had never even considered that a director could use fear and tension to guide his audience anxiously through a movie. In fact, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t even grasp the concept of “tension” at age nine, but I remember getting unfamiliarly nervous while watching this movie as a kid. Mysterious scene after mysterious scene laid the foundation for what was to be a tense ride for nine year-old Sam.

And then there was the moment. “There’s a monster outside my window - can I have a glass of water?” an eerily calm Abigail Breslin asks her father, played by Mel Gibson.  He walks her to her bedroom and stops dead in his tracks, because outside the window, on the opposite rooftop, he sees the silhouette of a dark figure, standing upright, staring straight at him and his unsettlingly unafraid daughter.

That moment changed my life. I screamed, very audibly, and covered my eyes and plugged my ears - a position I would assume for probably 95% of the rest of the movie. I felt betrayed - movies had always entertained me, but this movie had the audacity to scare me and make me uncomfortable in the confines on my own living room! On my very own TV! I, to this day, have trust issues with scary movies because of “Signs.”

Now, at the more desensitized age of 19, after having revisited “Signs” free of the anxiety of the unknown, I see a different movie. I see a brilliantly orchestrated psychological exploration of Mel Gibson’s character, a disgruntled priest whose faith was challenged when his wife died years before in a car accident (a scene which we’re eventually shown in flashbacks). I see puzzle pieces strewn across the floor at the beginning of the movie (“glass of water”) and then satisfyingly assembled at the end.

“Signs” will be remembered as one of Shyamalan’s good movies because it deals with very real fears and demons that people have by projecting it against the backdrop of far-fetched and terrifying situations. He masterfully builds suspense the whole movie by hiding the movie’s purported antagonists. You see mysterious lights in the sky, you see a scaly leg disappear into the corn fields, you hear the strange trilling language they communicated with, you see a dark figure cross a street on low-quality video, but you are hard-pressed to get a good glance at them, which creates an anxious fear that stays with the audience throughout the movie. That slow-building fear, coupled with a fast-paced and gripping last 30 minutes makes for a genuinely scary movie, or at least the nine year-old in me thinks so.

Maybe it’s because it was my first experience with fear in a movie or maybe it’s because the movie is genuinely scary, but because of “Signs,” I check rooftops for aliens, I get chills whenever I hear any sort of trilling noise, and I sure as hell don’t even think about going close to a cornfield at night. It’s the first impressions that stay with you, and, as an introduction to scary movies, “Signs” managed to wreak havoc on my psyche for a significant chapter of my life.  

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today, “The Cabin in the Woods” satirizes the slasher genre.

With “The Cabin in the Woods,” Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon take horror satire to the next level. Whedon’s love letter to slaughtering college students is written with a biting satirical edge, but the film’s epic, mythological plot has the viewer constantly second-guessing their inherent predispositions on the slasher genre. 

First we’re brought underground to a lab filled with workers in ties. Next, we meet our soon-to-be-mercilessly-murdered scholars who are surprisingly intelligent, and then we’re off. As the kids embark to an ominous cabin in, you guessed it, the woods, and the office drones watch and regulate the goings on, we quickly get a new, meta understanding of the slasher genre.

Joss Whedon has always been a master of balancing comedy and dark melodrama and it shines especially here. The stringent devotion exhibited by the satanic dilberts is juxtaposed with hilarious water-cooler discussions commonplace in a workplace environment. The horror experienced by our young victims is countered by the hilarious conspiracy theories of the Cabin’s resident stoner, Marty. 

Goddard and Whedon lead you with a carrot for the length of the film, teasing bigger mysteries and jokes about certain monstrous creatures. But just when you think the story is over, they take the carrot, bake it into a cake, and serve it to you on a golden platter with a cherry on top . 

I won’t spoil the ending, but I can safely say that watching the final 30 minutes of “The Cabin in the Woods” was one of the most entertaining experiences of my natural life. “The Cabin in the Woods” is one of the best horror films of this generation. It’s satire of the highest tier and I recommend it to anyone who loves horror and the movies.

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today, “Child’s Play” gives us a killer doll for all ages.

Why do we find dolls so terrifying? Perhaps it's because of that relaxed expression on their plastic faces. They seem so calm, but there’s always the possibility of a devilish personality lurking behind those motionless eyes. Tom Holland's "Child's Play" confirms just how monstrous these figures can be when no one is looking.

"Child's Play" centers on Chucky (Brad Dourif), a serial killer who, after being fatally shot, uses voodoo powers to plant his soul in a doll. He ends up in the hands of young Andy as a birthday present, and eventually decides to force his soul into Andy’s body to avoid being stuck as a doll forever. The pint-sized psychopath racks up quite a body count along the way, and scores creativity points for his methods of killing.

"Child's Play" is especially scary because its use of POV shots, the camera briskly scurrying across the ground, makes the audience wonder if it’s Chucky or Andy committing the murders. This greatly builds up the tension in the film during every death sequence. When the true killer is revealed, remarkable animatronics really make Chucky come to life. The doll’s flailing limbs and glassy eyes are even more terrifying as he plows through victims.

Though to be honest, Chucky shouldn't be as intimidating as he is portrayed. "Bride of Chucky" and "Curse of Chucky", the fourth and fifth entries in the franchise, prove this by turning him into a black comedy antagonist. Yes, he kills people in those films, but the deaths are played more for laughs.

I was frightened of Chucky at a young age by just seeing a movie poster that featured him. Perhaps it was because I had a closer proximity to toys when I was younger and held a greater appreciation for them. Still, Chucky can be frightening to adults as well; his scorching red hair and chilling cackle are terrifying no matter how old you are. Added is the fact that, for a doll, he is incredibly mobile. Imagine a mad toddler armed with a kitchen knife skirting between your legs.

"Child's Play" warns you to not underestimate a threat because of its small size. It also reminds us that Chucky wasn't always that goofy villain that cracked one-liners better than skulls. He is a truly evil creation designed to express our fear of inanimate objects. Think about that next time you pass a toy shop and see a puppet glaring at you through the window.

If you are one of the very few people who would love to be one of Chucky's victims for Halloween, I suggest purchasing a replica Good Guy Doll to carry around with you. Then, you can get creative in expressing whatever misfortune he's inflicted on you. I'd invest in a lot of blood.