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Horrific October

MUBI Special

Our annual series of horror films celebrating the month of Halloween.

The Howling

Joe Dante United States, 1981

Arriving the same year as American Werewolf in London, Joe Dante offered an entirely contrasting vision of horror with this story of a woman news anchor wrestling with the many complexities of trauma. Harmonizing campy wit and tangible dread, The Howling is a quintessential 80s horror film.

Kill List

Ben Wheatley United Kingdom, 2011

Breaking all the rules, and boldly leaving behind conventions a lesser film may rigidly adhere to, Ben Wheatley & co-writer Amy Jump veer into violent horror with this, their sophomore feature: a spectacularly brutal, brilliant blend of the socio-realist and surreal. Brace yourself for Kill List!


David Cronenberg Canada, 1975

David Cronenberg is one of Canada’s most prodigious artists for good reason—his films tap into the universal subject of the potential and indeed, likely, horrors of having a body. This early film is an unrelentingly pure genre B-movie, yet also a deceptively profound expression of fleshly anxieties.

Season of the Witch

George A. Romero United States, 1972

Best known for ushering in the modern idea of zombies, the late George A. Romero applied an incisive level of social commentary in his underrated—even forgotten—non-undead films. Thus, the stellar Season of the Witch takes aim at the nuclear family and invokes witchcraft as an attractive answer.


Bruce McDonald Canada, 2008

Like George A. Romero’s original classic Night of the Living Dead the best horror films often come from low-budget ingenuity and storytelling invention. Canadian auteur Bruce McDonald (Weirdos) crafted Pontypool on such terms, repurposing zombie mythos for a bilingual nation often divided.


Michael Mann United States, 1986

From the master American filmmaker Michael Mann, Manhunter is a truly experiential foray into two opposing minds. Belying its 80s neon hues and (welcome!) pop music cues, the film grows into a complexly woven inquiry into the origins of serial murder and its amorphous relation with domesticity.

The Black Cat

Lucio Fulci Italy, 1981

Our final Horrific October film—and 2nd adaptation of Poe’s “The Black Cat”—is a stylized horror film from genre legend Lucio Fulci. Transplanted to an English village terrorized in equal parts by the cat menace and Fulci’s thrilling camera, it stars Mimsy Farmer and Patrick Magee. Happy Halloween!

Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key

Sergio Martino Italy, 1972

We conclude our Horrific October with a double feature of loose Italian adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic thrilling tale, “The Black Cat.” This being Italian genre cinema of the 1970s, its equal parts horror and eroticism, a giallo where nearly everyone ends up nude—or dead.


Fabrice Du Welz Belgium, 2004

We like Belgian director Fabrice Du Welz for his arty, European take on genre filmmaking. The references are pure American cinema but the manic energy of the cast, camera and filmmakers is something all its own. For the Notebook, we spoke to Du Welz about his great follow-up, Alleluia.

The Hands of Orlac

Robert Wiene Germany, 1924

Another silent horror that, through the mystery of cinema, gets creepier as it recedes into a black and white past that suggests a documentary of the time and not a fiction. A premise of unbeatable inspiration, with the great Conrad Veidt directed by the creator of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.


F.W. Murnau Germany, 1922

You don’t need sound to be terrified. Off-brand at the time (thus, Nosferatu and not Dracula), F.W. Murnau’s Expressionist masterpiece is now iconic horror. Its spare medieval atmosphere and Max Schreck’s iconic, otherworldly vampire seems to get increasingly eerie and disturbing as the film ages.

The Demons

Jesús Franco France, 1972

Our next Jesús Franco horror flick contends with Female Vampire as to which crams the most unnecessary, ridiculous and unforgettable eroticism, exposed skin and 70s violence into the least amount of story. But where that film had vampires, this one has possessed nuns. Danger: witch-hunting ahead!

Female Vampire

Jesús Franco Belgium, 1973

Madly prodigious (over 200 productions!) and madly inspired Spanish genre stylist Jesús Franco cast his wife Lina Romay as a female vampire on the prowl. Female vampire…the 1970s…Jesús Franco: Signposts of warning not just of horror ahead but of also of truly plenteous nudity and sex.

The Innkeepers

Ti West United States, 2011

Indie director Ti West followed the success of The House of the Devil with another visit to the American horror cinema of the 1980s. A crafty and fun haunted hotel film film shot for under a million, The Innkeepers is a ghost story that builds slowly, smartly, making much from its limited resources.

The House of the Devil

Ti West United States, 2009

Our October is filled with a Rodriguez-Tarantino mash-up, 1970s sleaze, and silent terrors—and also indie surprises, like this week’s double feature of films by Ti West. His name jumped to attention with this thrillingly precise homage to classic American horror like Halloween.

The Reflecting Skin

Philip Ridley Canada, 1990

Next in our Horrific October series is an under-known British gem—set in the US—featuring an early lead from Viggo Mortensen. One of the few films from poet, playwright, novelist, and musician Philip Ridley, it’s a dark, scintillating take on vampirism, stylishly shot by Mike Leigh’s DP Dick Pope.

From Dusk Till Dawn

Robert Rodriguez United States, 1996

Welcome to our Horrific October! We’re highlighting some of our favorite horror films this month, beginning with this darkly comic vampire mix of Robert Rodriguez and Tarantino. A pulpy, gory B-film jacked up by an amazing cast: Clooney, Keitel, Cheech, Hayek, Danny Trejo, Tom Savini and more.

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