I watch scary films year-round, but October is like my Olympics. And since today is Friday October 13, there's literally no better time to stay up stupidly late and marathon some horror movies. Here’s a list of things that can help optimize your stay-at-home fright fest. Viewer beware, you're in for a scare!
Lekue Popcorn Popper
I’ve always wanted a big, old-fashioned, theater-style popcorn machine. But I live in a New York City apartment, so until I inherit a distant dead relative’s haunted mansion, I’ll have to settle for a more compact popper. This Lekue one’s collapsable, deceptively huge, and goes right in the microwave. It’s an ideal tool for a long spooky marathon day — though remember to cease heavy snacking if you’re watching a film with a high upchuck factor.
Moonbeams On Pumpkins™ candle
Set a mood.
If you’re worried about spirits and demons and slow-moving mass murderers coming through the TV set and into your home, you should burn white sage or some Palo Santo wood. Otherwise a few great-smelling candles will suffice. May I suggest Moonbeams On Pumpkins™, a new addition to Yankee Candle’s sociopathically-named seasonal selection. This one smells like vanilla, nutmeg, and nighttime in the suburbs!
An old VCR
For an eerie, vintage feel.
Like a lot of ’90s kids-turned-horror nerds, I spent far too many hours haunting the scary section of my neighborhood video rental store, which was somewhat mysteriously called “Age of Video 2” (as far as I know there was never actually an Age of Video 1). Something about the grainy, bootleg-like quality of the format just suits the genre. Like, imagine if The Ring was about a cursed .mp4 file. No thanks.
Purple string lights
Lighting changes everything.
Before starting your horror marathon, please take a second to consider the lighting situation. A lot can go wrong: too bright makes everything less scary; a warm yellow overhead will make The Shining feel like Eloise at the Plaza. Too dark, though, and you might end up dozing-off during the movie’s slower parts. Purple LED string lights are a great, still-spooky medium. You could also pair with green ones for a full-on Hocus Pocus vibe.
Halloween "VHS or Die" T-shirt
For the fully committed.
A good horror tee is hard to find. EBay has some vintage gems, but also lots of silly-looking mass-market duds. This new-ish Studio Designs shirt is actually pretty cool, featuring a stack of all eight movies in the iconic Halloween franchise, from the flaw-free 1978 original to the webcam-age Tyra Banks disaster, Halloween: Resurrection. The tee’s currently sold out, but there’s a Friday the 13th one still up for grabs. Get it oversized for couch-wearing comfort.
All the right movies
Curation is key.
You could be sort of arbitrary about it, but I personally recommend a more thoughtful approach to deciding on a lineup for your horror marathon. Be willing to spend a few bucks on iTunes and Amazon rentals; Netlfix often has some solidly creepy choices, but don’t let the algorithm curate your life. Here are a couple ideas to help get you in the right headspace.
-You could stick to one sequel-stuffed franchise, like Nightmare on Elm Street or the Final Destination movies. (The first F.D. holds up. John Waters loves it, too!)
-Maybe you pick a slasher film from each decade, like Peeping Tom (’60s), Black Christmas (’70s), April Fool’s Day (’80s), Candyman (’90s), All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (’00s), and It Follows (’10s).
-Or maybe you watch some super-atmospheric domestic horrors from the 1970s, like Audrey Rose, Alice Sweet Alice, and Don’t Look Now.
-You could watch a bunch of movies about kids who kill, like The Bad Seed, Orphan, The Good Son, and Pet Cemetery.
-You could pair vintage horrors with their trashy, too-slick 2000s remakes, like Sorority Row, 13 Ghosts, or The Last House on the Left.
-Or maybe opt for actually watchable remakes, which are few and far between, like The Fly, Dawn of the Dead, or (controversially, in my opinion) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
-If you’re not actually looking for anything too gory or scary but still want to get in the spirit, try the ridiculously good pilot episode of short-lived ’90s show Eerie, Indiana; Joe Dante’s The Hole; or Disney’s early-’80s pastoral mystery Watcher in the Woods.
There’s no real way to do this wrong. Just pick a bunch of freaky movies, and watch them with your friends.