Five Things You Couldn’t Possibly Know About Friday the 13th (1980)

Reviewed by Henry Bernice for

(Editor’s note: Film critic/historian Henry Bernice has been struck by lightning seven times. Keep this in mind when reading the following article.)

Friday the 13th is one of the more polarizing horror films of the ’80s. Legions of horror fans see something in the film that legions of film critics simply do not. But, love it hate it, the film has made an indelible impact on the industry, one that continues to this day. More than four decades after that first fateful trip to Camp Crystal Lake, generations of Friday fans continue to spend their hard-earned dollars and their precious time pouring over the minutia of the film’s most trivial tidbits, wearing their knowledge of the film(s) on their sleeves like a merit badge from Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco. And yet I have come up with five juicy little factoids that even the most ardent Friday fan couldn’t possibly know. So … here we go.

(1) Most Friday enthusiasts know that the film was originally titled A Long Night at Camp Blood. But only a privileged few have heard the actual working title: Friday July 13th, Around Seven O’clock P.M. Can you imagine such an awful title being seriously considered? But that’s nothing compared to the title proposed by Paramount Pictures bigshot producer Colin Bretherton, who wanted the film called: Camp Necky Stabby in honor of the film’s most notorious murder (you know, the scene where Kevin Bacon gets it right through the neck). Other prominent title suggestions include: The Horny Teen Massacre, Kind of Halloween, but not really, and Friday in New Jersey.

(2) The film had to be completed on a budget of $550,000. To cut costs, all of the cabins seen in the film were made completely out of fudge and Rice Krispie treats. “We thought it was a good idea,” said Sean S. Cunningham (the film’s producer/director) in a 1982 interview with Film Monsters Magazine. “But, boy, were we ever wrong. Those cabins attracted every hungry animal withing ten miles of the set. By the second week, we were up to our cornholes in rat bites and bear attacks.”

(3) Mrs. Voorhees was not supposed to be the killer. Believe it or not, the original script called for Crazy Ralph (“You’re all doomed!”) played by Walt Gorney to be revealed as the Camp Crystal Lake killer in the film’s final moments. Unfortunately, Mr. Gorney fell ill and had to be hospitalized before the film was finished shooting his scenes. “It was the damnedest thing,” Cunningham told an interviewer for Haute Couture Magazine in 1981. “One day we came to the set and found him [Walt] eating his weight in fudge and Rice Krispie treats. I mean, that guy was chewing right through the walls of one of the cabins. It was crazy.” Years later at a horror convention, when asked about the lost opportunity to play one of horror cinema’s all-time great villains, Walt Gorney said, “Worth it.” Then he threw a half-finished Bahama Mama-flavored Slush Puppie at Betsy Palmer.

(4) Queen Elizabeth is a big fan. That’s right, QE2 loves the Voorheeses and all of their gory misadventures. She was overheard talking about the Friday films at the snack bar while appearing for an official Audience with Pope Francis in 2015. “I can watch all of the Paramount Fridays, but that first one is hella scary,” she said. There is also an unconfirmed rumor stating that QE2 collects Jason masks. “Oh hell yeah, she loves her Jason masks. She even paints them and gives them customized machete gashes,” said Sarah, Duchess of York, in an off-the-record 2019 chat with journalist Chelsea Taunton from the magazine Modern Root Beer Enthusiast. “I think she’s even got a withered Pamela head tucked away in a closet at Balmoral.”

(5) Kevin Bacon was almost fired. It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when Kevin Bacon was difficult to work with on set. Screenwriter Victor Miller recalled some of the not-so-fond memories of shooting with Bacon in an interview with Immoral Dentistry Magazine in 1990. “Kevin was in a strange place at that time. He wanted to do the role as a Polish transfer student, and no matter how much we pleaded with him, he refused to acquiesce. So he spoke with a Polish accent for the entire production.” The situation became so dire that Cunningham had to bring in an actor dub all of Bacon’s lines. “We couldn’t afford a top-tier voice actor,” Miller said. “So we had to bring in an unknown named Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, like, shockingly, he totally nailed it. Too bad he went uncredited.”

So, there ya’ have it, Friday fans. Five more things you can use at parties to impress other … um … trivia enthusiasts, maybe? Yeah, let’s go with trivia enthusiasts. Bye!

It’s Me, Billy: Traditional Sequel or Postmodern Masterpiece?

Reviewed by Armen Steckler-Briggs for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Armen Steckler-Briggs is unaware of the 1974 film Black Christmas. He has also recently been institutionalized for excessive glue sniffing. Keep this in mind when reading the following review.)

Well … here’s something new. Just when I thought I’d seen it all, here comes It’s Me, Billy, one of the strangest sequels (or films) I’ve ever seen–and maybe one of the most brilliant.

Written and directed by Bruce Dale and Dave McRae, It’s Me, Billy serves as both a fantastically realized slasher film and (get this) as a sequel to the 1979 family classic Black Beauty. I know what you’re thinking. Believe me, I felt the same way at first, but, as crazy as this premise sounds, it works … somehow.

In this iteration, Black Beauty (the equine hero from the original film) has gone all Travis Bickle after years of being forced into servitude as a racehorse. That’s right, this beauty is pissed and it’s time for someone to pay. Victoria Mero stars as the granddaughter of Alec Ramsey, the man who initially befriended Black Beauty before ultimately betraying their friendship and exploiting the majestic creature for financial gain.

Here’s the story: After learning that Alec Ramsey has passed away, Black Beauty devises a plan to do away with as many surviving Ramseys as possible. He begins by inviting Ramsey’s granddaughter (Mero, in a devastating, gritty performance) and two of her besties to Ramsey’s house for some good old-fashioned Christmas spirit. This is when the film takes a turn away from the spirited family friendly adventure of the original in favor of a dark examination of why good horses go bad. And believe me, this horsey has indeed gone bad. Now referring to himself as “Billy,” Black Beauty embarks on a murder spree, picking off his victims one at a time until his blood lust is satiated.

This is where It’s Me, Billy mutates into a postmodern masterpiece. The film forces the viewer to ask some pretty tough questions like: Is “Billy” a character Black Beauty plays in order to psychologically distance himself from the violence he is about to commit? Or is “Billy” a more permanent manifestation of Black Beauty’s fractured psyche? Has “Billy” completely taken over Black Beauty so completely that Black Beauty no longer exists at all? Or does “Black Beauty” now exist in the mind of a fully realized Billy? The answer really doesn’t matter because you get to see a horse kill people.

Honestly, after watching this film, I have to put Billy up there with the greatest screen killers of all time. After all, Norman Bates is scary, but he isn’t a freakin’ horse. I mean, imagine you’re in a big scary house at night, settling in, getting ready for bed … And then, out of the shadows comes a knife-wielding horse. Let’s be honest, the heart attack will get you long before the serial-killing horse.

Dale and McRae do a good job of keeping Billy/Beauty in the shadows, never allowing too much to be seen. We don’t hear any neighing or the clippity-clop of hooves hitting hardwood. That would be too obvious. (For the record, we also never see any big, steamy horse poopies, either. That would have been gratuitous and silly.) No, instead we are treated to a subtle, terrifying film that works as both an experiment in pure terror as well as a treatise on equine mental health issues.

I give It’s Me, Billy a perfect five stars out of a possible five.

(It’s Me, Billy is rated NC-17 for graphic violence, profanity, nightmare imagery, drug abuse, and one brief shot of horse schlong.)

Revisiting Halloween II (1981)

Reviewed by Marc Hopspring for

(Editor's note: Film critic Marc Hopspring reviewed this film after watching it via a malfunctioning cable box that, unbeknownst to him, randomly switched back and forth between Halloween II and True Lies. Keep this in mind when reading the following review.) 

It had been at least a decade since I'd seen Halloween II, and boy oh boy is it different from the film I remember. For starters, I had no recollection of James Cameron directing this film. And now that I know, I have to rank this as one of Cameron's worst efforts. And that's just the first of many surprises.

Halloween II is by far one of the strangest sequels ever produced. I'm not really sure how this thing is even related to the first Halloween. Despite the uncountable number of temporal and logical gaps, I have to assume this hodgepodge of narrative spaghetti was created on purpose. After all, Halloween creator John Carpenter wrote the script, which is supposedly based on a French film or something. Anyway, here's the plot: After surviving being shot six times on Halloween night 1978, Michael Myers is now--somehow!--the leader of a terrorist organization called the Crimson Jihad, and it's up to husband-and-wife team Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Dr. Sam Loomis (now played by Arnold Schwarzenegger--that's right, Ahhhh-nold) to stop Myers from sneaking a nuke into Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. This is where the film starts to lose me. I mean, why would any terrorist group want to take out a small town hospital, especially with a weapon that could destroy an entire city? Where's the logic in that? And when the hell did Laurie Strode marry Dr. Loomis?

Even worse than the nonsensical storyline is the film's schizophrenic editing style. In one scene an unmasked Myers (who is now Middle Eastern for some reason) engages in a brilliantly choreographed gun battle in a public restroom, and then in the next scene he's drowning a naked nurse in a hot tub--and the mask is back. In another confusing sequence, Laurie does a sexy striptease for Loomis (again, he's now her husband!), then out of nowhere, she's posing as a hospital patient (in a bad wig) who is forced to fight off the advances of a horny ambulance driver, only to find herself, mere moments later, fighting off the advances of Bill Paxton. And then, for reason I will never EVER understand, Arnold disguises himself as Donald Pleasance and faces off with Myers in the film's climax--a climax in which they are both blown up. Don't get me wrong, it's a find ending, but by the time the film finally got to it I was just too confused to care anymore.

When I say the film is confusing, I have never been more serious in my life. Once scene begins with an intricate chase in which Loomis, on horseback, pursues Myers, on a motorcycle, through a crowded shopping mall. Exciting, right? So then why does the scene end with a horny ambulance driver singing an X-rated version of "Amazing Grace"? The film just leaves me with too many questions. Why, for example, does Jamie Lee Curtis's makeup keep aging and de-aging her? Is this supposed to be an example of spycraft? If so, is this really supposed to confuse Myers? And why the hell is Tom Arnold in a Halloween film? When the hell did Loomis learn to fly a Harrier jet? And for what possible reason did the Crimson Jihad feel it necessary to Kill Ben Tramer? It's all so bizarre. And I haven't even mentioned the ski slope shootout that culminates with a child in a pirate costume getting gashed by a razor blade hidden in an apple. Why are trained spies hunting trick-or-treaters? One minute we're watching a bridge blow up and the next we're watching an idiot knock himself stupid after slipping in a puddle of blood. Aw ... forget it! To hell with this mess of a movie.

Halloween II is a flawed horror sequel for sure. If you're in the mood for something that makes you question your sanity, this flick's for you. Otherwise, stay far, far, away from this celluloid turd. Although, to be fair, Halloween II makes more sense than the movie I watched right after it. In that stinker, a gremlin steals a DeLorean and time-travels back to 1955 to make sure nobody gets wet or eats after midnight. Talk about nonsense.

I give Halloween II one star out of a possible five stars and all the bile my liver can produce.

(Halloween II is rated R for profanity, violence, nudity, aggressive stupidity and the graphic depiction of Tom Arnold.)



The Twilight Saga

The Twilight Saga: The Most Baffling Film Experience of My Life twilightzonemoveposter

Reviewed by Anton Snoot for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Anton Snoot is currently enduring an aggressive course of antipsychotic medications which often leads to a state of utter confusion. Please keep this in mind when reading the following review, which is for entertainment purposes only.)

First of all, I realize that this review is incredibly twilight2late. Thanks to an unfortunate break with reality that led to a prolonged stay in a certain kind of healthcare facility, I have only just recently been made aware of the pop-culture phenomena known as The Twilight Saga. Now that I have witnessed this so-called “saga,” I have to admit that I find myself at a complete loss, as the seven films that comprise the universe of Twilight make absolutely no sense at all. Even the way the films are marketed is scattershot and confusing. But I’ll get to that later.

For starters, the films lurch back and forth twilight_1998_film_posterbetween completely different casts and filmmakers, while simultaneously mining utterly disparate narrative terrain. For example, the first film in the series is an anthology comprised of four science fiction tales that feature everything from Vic Morrow being hunted by Nazis after time traveling to Scatman Crothers as the world’s all-time greatest ambassador of Kick the Can to John Lithgow being tormented by a wing gremlin on a commercial flight. Okay, fine. This first installment is a pretty decent entertainment, but it makes no sense as the introductory film in this series, being that it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the next five films, which form a bizarre collection of abstinence propaganda pictures that prominently feature the throbbing loins of teen vampires and werewolves who share a seemingly life-threatening affliction for shirt-wearing and subtlety.

That’s right, the next five Twilight films are nothing but eye candy for teen girls. So much about these films baffles me that I’m not sure I can even honestly review them. For example, right smack in the middle of one of these films there is a scene in which a family of vampires heads to a park on a rainy day to play baseball. Seriously. Baseball. And then we, the audience, just have to sit there like idiots, watching vampires play baseball for what feels like an eternity. But here’s the kicker, the remainder of these vampire films is so awful that by the time you’ve finished watching them, you look back at the baseball sequence with great fondness.

And then there’s the seventh and final film in the saga. This one’s a real headscratcher. For some reason, the creative geniuses behind this mess decided to move away from that whole vampire thing and close the saga with a detective thriller starring Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, and Gene Hackman. Newman stars as a now-elderly version of Edward the vampire, but the film never explains why Edward has suddenly aged, nor does it explain why he has become a private detective and relocated to Los Angeles. Stranger still, Susan Sarandon plays an older version of Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan character, and Gene Hackman plays the older version of Taylor Lautner’s Jacob; however, for reasons unknown (and probably unknowable) all of these characters now exist under different names. Edward is now Harry, Bella is now Catherine, and Jacob is now Jack. I guess maybe they were forced to change their names to protect their true identities as vampires and werewolves, but even if that’s the case, the film never mentions it; in fact, this final installment of The Twilight Saga never mentions vampires, werewolves, or anything that could possibly be interpreted as connective tissue between these films.

So, what the hell, man? Why are these films so popular? Taken as a whole, The Twilight Saga simply makes no sense—none! Taken individually, these movies suck vampire ass. So what’s the deal? And why were these films marketed in such a strange manner? Why were the middle five films marketed so much differently than the first and seventh films? And why was seventh and final film (the one starring Paul Newman) released in 1998, a full 14 years before the sixth film (the final vampire film) in 2012? What sense does that make? None, if you ask me.

In conclusion, The Twilight Saga may be popular, but its narrative logic (or complete lack thereof) is baffling, its core concept is muddled, and its execution makes me want to crap. So if you haven’t seen The Twilight Saga yet, don’t. It will scar you forever. It will also fill your trousers with an unstoppable torrent of sudsy excrement. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I give The Twilight Saga a 9.3 out of 10, because that vampire-baseball sequence is so mind-numbingly stupid I kind of respect it.


Day 9: The Haunted Palace

Halloween Every Day (for a Month)

By Andrew Neil Cole

Day 9: The Haunted Palace (1963). the-haunted-palace

Vincent Price, Roger Corman, Edgar Allen Poe, H. P. Lovecraft—sounds like Halloween to me. Creepy houses, fog-shrouded streets, death curses, a burning at the stake—so far, so good. Satanic allegiances, cloaked figures scampering in the dark, paranoid townspeople, an unknowably horrific creature awaiting release on an unsuspecting populace—it can only be The Haunted Palace!

This is one of those movies in which the sins of the past come back to wreak full-blown panic on the present. Vincent Price stars as Joseph Curwen, an evil warlock who is put to death by a handful of God-fearing townspeople who’ve had enough of the ominous goings-on regularly occurring behind the formidable walls of Curwen’s supremely Gothic mansion. While being burned at the stake, Curwen vows revenge from the beyond the grave and curses those who’ve had a hand in his death. Cut to 100 years later, when Charles Dexter Ward (also played by Price), a descendant of Curwen’s, arrives in town to take possession of the mansion. Soon the spirit of Curwen tries to possess the body of Ward and begin his season of resurrection and comeuppance. Of course, this all plays out within a series of creepy secret corridors, cobwebbed basement laboratories, and densely shadowed cobblestone streets where flickering gas lamps dance to a soundtrack of bone-rattling thunderclaps and otherworldly howling winds.

Movies like The Haunted Palace always come complete with their fair share of plot holes and unexplainable behavior. (For example, if the descendants of the men cursed by Curwen are so fearful of the curse actually coming true, why do they all still live in the same town generations later?) At the same time, the movie is delightfully creepy and absolutely dripping with atmosphere. So what if Roger Corman goes a bit too heavy on the fog machine? Who really cares if all of the thunderclaps sound exactly the same? Granted, those looking for excessive gore or heaping piles of naked young bodies (in other words, those who believe Nurse is a modern masterpiece) should probably seek their gooseflesh elsewhere. Even for true horror aficionados, The Haunted Palace might not be the scariest, most mind-blowingly terrifying place to spend an evening, but, luckily, you can rent by the hour.

Day 10: Popcorn

Halloween Every Day (for a Month)

By Andrew Neil Cole

Day 10: Popcorn (1991).  popcornposter

Although it was released theatrically in 1991, Popcorn feels more like one of the last ’80s horror films than one of the first horror films of the ’90s. In fact, Popcorn could be seen as the movie that bridges the gap between dark ’80s slasher flicks and the sleek, meta, ironic-commentary horror shockers of the ’90s and beyond, as Popcorn works as both a serious slasher film and as a loving parody/homage to the history of horror cinema. As a slasher film about film students being stalked during an all-night horror movie marathon in a musty, dusty, old-timey theater from the William Castle days of yore, Popcorn is clearly a precursor to Scream’s wink-at-the-audience style of horror as a commentary on horror cinema as entertainment.

Subjectively, I much prefer this movie to the Scream movies. No offense to the Scream fans out there. I get it. Those movies certainly have their moments (thanks entirely to the direction of Wes Craven), but I just find them a little too cutesy, a little too pandering, a little too insular, and not nearly as clever as they clearly are trying to appear. Popcorn, however, knows exactly what it is: a fun, low-budget, unabashedly unpretentious B-movie slash-a-thon totally devoid of any delusions of grandeur. Popcorn is a movie that knows it’s not great, and that lack of self-consciousness provides the requisite creative freedom for it to at least be really good. I won’t bother unpacking the ebbs and flows of the storyline, and I wouldn’t dare reveal any spoilers. I will say that, with a few notable exceptions, slasher movies and I haven’t enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. I find the stories totally lacking in originality and the characters so lazily drawn that I stop caring what happens to them within seconds of their introduction. And yet, I really do enjoy watching this movie. And while Popcorn is admittedly not one of the great slashers, like Halloween or Black Christmas, it is a great entertainment and a great movie to kick back late at night and watch with a cold drink and a salty, buttery bowl of … well, you know.

Day 2: Hausu (House) 1977

Halloween Every Day (for a month)

By Andrew Neil Cole

Day 2: Hausu (House) (1977).    houseposter_500

Hausu is a Japanese horror film that tells the relatively pedestrian tale of seven teen girls spending their vacation in a creepy old house; however, there’s probably never been a haunted house movie quite like this. This is an outrageous, hyper-stylized, unpredictable little horror gem that viewers will either love or hate. There is no middle ground.

Sometimes the film’s style can be overwhelming: animation, stop-motion animation, black-and-white photography, sepia-tones, pink tones (yes, pink), lap dissolves, matte paintings, etc … Every single frame of this film seems to be screaming YOU ARE WATCHING A MOVIE! The constant visual fireworks are complemented (if you can call it that) by an intrusive musical score that almost never stops. But if you can see through the film’s overbearingly cartoony style, Hausu delivers on a rather audacious conceit, in that the film works as both a horror film and a commentary on horror tropes and clichés (and it does this decades before films like Scream and The Cabin in the Woods would mine similar thematic territory). For example, all of the principal characters are literally named after character types, as if their behavior has been genetically predestined. I’m not kidding. The attractive girl is named Gorgeous. The girl with an overactive imagination is named Fantasy. The studious, bespectacled girl is named Prof. The hearty girl who likes to eat is named Mac. The music-lover/pianist is named Melody. The ridiculously companionable, eager-to-please girl is named Sweet. And, my personal favorite, the martial arts enthusiast is named Kung Fu. Subtlety is clearly not this film’s forte. Nonetheless, Hausu is a movie experience that really feels like an experience. This is a movie that, once seen, must be talked about with anyone who will listen.

Much has been made of the film’s impact on future filmmakers, specifically Sam Raimi and his Evil Dead films, so I won’t bother to stir that pot again. Nor will I bother to comment on certain sexist aspects of the movie that have confounded and angered so many viewers over the years. It should be remembered that this movie, like any movie, is a product of its time and place. It is what it is and nothing more. (Although, to modern sensibilities, it is pretty sexist.)

Intro/Day 1: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Halloween Every Day (for a Month)

By Andrew Neil Cole


Like a lot of cinephiles, I believe that Halloween is less about trick-or-treating, costumes, candy, and parties than it is about reclaiming a small piece of yesteryear through watching (or more likely re-watching) our favorite horror movies. In fact, Halloween is, for horror fans, much more than one single day denoted by a grinning jack-o’-lantern in the final calendar square for the month of October. No, Halloween begins on the first day of October and doesn’t end until the sun rises on the first day of November. That gives us 31 glorious days to bask in the warm, nostalgic glow that can only be created (or recreated) by our favorite cinematic boogeymen. After all, what better way to feel like a kid again then to relive what it felt like the first time you saw a movie that made you sleep with the lights on and the covers pulled tightly over your head?

So, in the true spirit of Halloween (as defined by us movie fans), I, your Humble Heckler, have decided to take on a challenge: I will watch one horror movie every day throughout the month of October and faithfully record my experiences here. The idea to do this comes from an assignment I was once given as a film student in college. A professor I greatly respected required his students to watch two films a week and simply respond to them in a diary of sorts. What did we like about each film? What didn’t we like? Did a certain film remind us of other films? If so, how?  He was looking for gut reactions—but informed, well-considered gut reactions. The assignment forced me to get out of my head, set all academic pretense aside, and simply let a movie happen to me. As a result, I found greatness in movies that had been written off by the critical community, and I found that I didn’t particularly care for certain films and filmmakers that had been universally adored. It was a great lesson. Therefore, the movies I choose to view will not necessarily be my favorites. My goal will not be to watch specific horror movies but to have a larger, more complete experience with the horror genre as a whole by watching a lot of movies in a relatively short period of time. I will not be making a “best of” list, nor will I be assigning films a rank or a grade of any kind. I’ll do my best to select a wide variety of horror types and classifications. I’ll also do my best to select movies from different eras and to avoid choosing too many obvious titles—there will be no Friday the 13th movies, no Scream movies, no Saw movies, and no sequels of any kind. What follows will not be a series of reviews but rather a collection of subject-specific responses, reflections, and musings.

Enough said. Let’s get started!

Day 1: The Cabin in the Woods (2012).  CabWoods

In the years following John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween, the horror genre took a turn for the worse. In fact, it can be argued that Halloween represents the genre’s definitive line of demarcation, in that virtually every horror film since 1978 has an appreciable pre-Halloween or post-Halloween feel to it. After Carpenter proved that a low-budget slasher flick could make untold millions for its producers, businessmen with absolutely no interest in film, let alone horror, saw an opportunity to cash in and pounced like carrion birds on a fresh carcass. To this assemblage of heartless capitalists, an investment of a few hundred thousand could mean tens of millions in profit, and soon the market was flooded with Halloween wannabes. Every weekend a new masked assailant stalked a collection of sexually promiscuous teens at a theater near you. Interesting, fleshed-out characters and strong, driving suspense narratives were instantly jettisoned and replaced by archetypal caricatures heedlessly meandering through a loose collection of slaughter scenarios. The horror genre would never be the same.

With The Cabin in the Woods, director Drew Goddard and co-writer/producer Joss Whedon seem to be pointing an accusatory finger directly at the kind of filmmaking that occurred on the post-Halloween side of that line of demarcation. Genre conventions are both openly mocked yet necessary to the film’s overall structure. Torture porn and the excessive use of graphic violence as entertainment in horror cinema are clearly criticized while the film dumps buckets of blood and goo on everyone and everything in sight. Characters are written to satirize the preordained fates of modern horror film caricatures (the dumb blonde, the jock, the virgin, etc …), and yet, in the end, these characters live and/or die by the same rules as the lazy, clichéd, cardboard characters they were created to lampoon—and all of this is intentional. It is also a lot of fun. I’m glad I decided to begin this month-long exploration of the horror genre with a movie that is clearly conducting an exploration of its own.