October is my favorite time of year. Everything about it is the best. It’s got all the best weather; I love cool nights. It’s got all the best sartorial options; I love sporting jeans and a light jacket. Living in Massachusetts, as I do, it’s got the spectacular foliage. And give me pumpkin spice-everything all day long.
Most of all, October is Halloween season, and that means horror movies dominate the airwaves. I love horror movies. I love them. The good ones, the bad ones—maybe especially the bad ones—I love them all.
Which brings me to today’s draft. The crack team of drafters I assembled for our last outing to build our Slasher Super-Teams, Dan, Sasha, Troy, and myself have reunited in order to determine once and for all: Who can build the best Halloween Horror Movie Marathon?
Ah, but there’s a twist to this challenge! (There’s always a twist).
This draft will run six rounds, snake style, and each of our drafters will be responsible for filling out each of six horror sub-genres that are listed as follows:
- Sci-fright – Science fiction horror
- Undead and Loving It – Zombie movies
- Foreign Bullshit (and remakes) – Horror movies produced abroad, or a remake thereof
- Creature Features – Non-human (or originally human) killers
- Psychotic Games and Power Trips – Evil games, experiments, or f-ed up behavior by people with wealth or power
The categories can be drafted in any order, but they must be filled. Obviously, there would be overlap between the categories, we would need to be strategic about which movies we would deploy where.
Last, there would be a surprise seventh round, with a mystery category, to be revealed at the end of the draft. (Twist!)
The draft was conducted live, with a 60-second clock. Going overtime would be punished with an automatic forced-pick of Leprechaun 4: In Space.
Pick 1, Sasha: Alien (Sci-fright)
[Sasha: Much like my 2021 NBA fantasy draft, I usually like my draft position to be somewhere in the middle. Joker, Giannis, Steph, KD, they’re all gonna have amazing seasons. Do I care which one I have? No, not really.
However, this draft was the exception to the rule. In the horror arena, one film reigns supreme. That film is Alien. It is not just one of the best horror films of all time, it is not just one of the best sci-fi films of all time, it is simply one of the best films of all time. Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece rewrote the rules of genre filmmaking and changed the course of movie history.
If this draft was a run at your local Y, I just picked the one 6’5” dude who played D1.]
Dave: Predator (Sci-fright)
[Dave: Sci-fi was the shallowest category, but with one of the greatest classics of the horror genre, so Sash made the right move by taking Alien first overall. It would have been my pick, too. That left me in a quandary, because there were numerous movies I’d have preferred to grab first, but very few left in sci-fi that I considered particularly good. Since the other genres were deeper, I decided to make my play for the genre right off the bat. Predator is a bit of a reach, since it’s more of an action movie, but it has horror movie elements, and is such a classic film it puts any other sci-fi option remaining to shame.]
Dan: Get Out (Psychotic games and power trips)
[Dan: I ended up with the third pick in this draft, so obviously Alien wasn’t going to fall to me. Looking at the categories, some were very deep and I could wait on, and others I had to get the top picks as quickly as possible. I think Dave could have waited on taking Predator–which isn’t even a true horror movie, never mind a classic of the genre. I considered taking Jaws with my pick but ultimately I knew I didn’t love any pick in the “Psychotic Games and Power Trips” category nearly as much as this modern classic. What other movie better defines the category’s description of “fucked up behavior by people with wealth and power”? Get Out does what truly great horror movies do; scares you, disturbs you, and provides a cathartic and frightening lens to examine something unpleasant about the real world we live in. The pick may not have been obvious, but it was the best of the sub-genre.]
Troy: Jaws (Creature feature)
[Troy: With six categories, this was a case of supply and demand. The “Psychological Experiment by People in Power” category felt so narrowly written it might as well have been “Psychological experiments by people in Power directed by Jordan Peele and starring Daniel Kaluuya”. Strategy was grab Get Out, get my faves, and wait on the deeper categories. This strategy lasted three picks until Daniel was revealed to be the only one in the draft as smart as I was.]
[Dave: There are so many options in that category.]
[Troy: Jaws is my favorite movie of all time so this was easy. The first summer blockbuster. A classic among classics. Likely the first thing you think of for “creature feature.” Also, it is still my favorite movie of all time.]
[Dave: Hard to disagree on any of that. I probably should have taken it first.]
Troy: The Descent (Foreign)
[Troy: The Descent gave me a chance to use the foreign category to double dip in creatures and kneecap that category a bit. Based on the “oh shit, good idea” feedback, it seemed to be a wise choice.]
Dan: The Thing (Sci-fright)
[Dan: Considering that two people had already picked their sci-fi movies, it felt a little un-strategic to dip into that category so early, but with The Thing still available and its potential to be picked next or even in another category like “Creature Features” I couldn’t let it pass me by. John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of the best horror movies ever made. It’s a massive accomplishment in practical effects that still holds up to this day, and it’s scary as hell! To get the third pick of this sub-genre and snag one of my all-time favorite horror movies was a steal.]
Dave: Suspiria (Original) (Foreign)
[Dave: I was paralyzed for choice in the foreign section. There are TONS of amazing foreign horror films out there– J-horror, K-horror, French New Wave, hell, there’s even good stuff from Canada! (Looking at you, Ginger Snaps.) Still, I wanted to draft this uniquely beautiful giallo thriller from Dario Argento. It doesn’t make the most sense, but it’s a delight for the senses. Watch it on blu-ray if you can, because those colors really pop. And like Troy, I figured removing this witchy option from another category was a nice bonus.]
Sasha: Cabin in the Woods (Creature feature)
[Sasha: I truly believe Cabin in the Woods is a one of one. The first hour is deeply unnerving and hits all the horror checkpoints with the best of them. Then the second hour twists the genre in a way we’d never seen before. With the story unspoiled, I was shook when I first experienced the turn. I remember the feeling in my body physically changing. This film is as brilliant in its concept as it is adept in its execution.
Also, as both a huge MCU and West Wing guy. I’m going to ride for any movie with Chris Hemsworth and Bradley Whitford!]
[Dave: One of my favorite films. I’d have drafted it myself, but unlike the others, I had the advantage of knowing a surprise round was coming. The genre would be determined at random, but I designed them, so I knew “horror-comedy” was on the table, and I spent the draft holding back from that category. That proved to be a mistake, because several great choices wound up getting picked from there.
I also think it bends the category quite a bit. Yes, there are creatures in the movie, especially at the end. However, the true villains of the piece are an organized conspiracy of human actors. Even the primary monsters called up and engaged for the majority of the film are a zombie redneck torture family–not within the category. I let it go, along with a couple others to come, because I was being nice, but I envisioned this category as being, essentially, “animal killers.” Using a movie like this makes it too easy.]
Sasha: Se7en (Psychotic games)
[Sasha: David Fincher, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman all at the peak of their powers. Se7en is devastatingly excellent. It’s not controversial to say Se7en and Alien are the best *films* to be drafted. I have them both.]
[Dave: We paused the draft here to determine if this qualified as a horror movie at all. Personally, I would say no. Still, there are people out there who think Silence of the Lambs is a horror movie, and this film is more intense than that one, so I let it go.]
Dave: The Blair Witch Project (Witches)
[Dave: This felt like a solid pick. Never seen it. Any good?]
Dan: Rosemary’s Baby (Witches)
[Dan: I actually thought this category was pretty deep, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take another best of the best in horror movies. Dave ended up taking The Blair Witch Project right before me… of course he hasn’t actually seen that movie somehow… which might be more shocking than any actual horror movie. Although that’s definitely a good choice, the movie itself kinda lacks any actual Witches… spoiler Dave, sorry. More importantly, as films go, Rosemary’s Baby is just better. It’s considered such a great horror film that it’s in the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It’s a masterclass in showing audiences why the occult and Satanic witches are so damn creepy and somehow even realistically sinister.]
[Dave: I’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby. Once again I allowed this pick to occur, but it doesn’t really have witches. It has a cult. Whatever. Ultimately it’s fine because, spoiler alert, Library of Congress or no, the movie just flat out isn’t scary.]
Troy: Hereditary (Witches)
[Troy: People throw around the term modern classic, but Hereditary is likely the best horror movie in the last five years.]
[Dave: Again, guys, cult =/= witches.]
Troy: Night of the Living Dead (Undead)
[Troy: Night of the Living Dead created and defined a genre, so it was fun to pick the O.G., and watch everyone else take the copycats.]
Dan: Audition (Foreign)
[Dan: This sub-genre is hugely broad, so it is hard to make a bad choice here. I could easily have gone with [Rec], The Host, or Ringu, and so many others that were still available. But if you want a completely horrifying experience, not much can deliver like Takashi Miike’s Audition. The movie was also a huge influence on the “torture porn” style horror movies that became incredibly popular such as Saw and Hostel. Yet none are as unsettling or surprising as Audition.
[Dave: Kiri, kiri, kiri.]
Dave: Saw (Psychotic games)
[Dave: This is a shockingly deep category. With games alone you could take Would You Rather?, Ready or Not, and TWO different movies called Truth or Dare. From the “rich and powerful people being assholes” angle, you could still take Ready or Not, or snag American Psycho, The Belko Experiment, Would You Rather? (again), Cube, Circle… the list goes on. In the end, the simple quote “Would you like to play a game?” won out.]
Sasha: Dawn of the Dead (Undead)
[Sasha: An all-time classic. Most film historians would say it’s the GOAT of the genre. To get Dawn of the Dead in the 4th round is outrageous.]
Sasha: Train to Busan (Foreign)
[Sasha: Is this the most terrifying, skin-crawling, ravenous foreign horror film? Yes, yes it is.]
Dave: 28 Days Later (Undead)
[Dave: I’d been saving this category, because it was so deep. I figured I was safe after Sasha took Dawn, and there’d be no rush, but then he took my ace-in-the-hole pick, Train to Busan. What a dick. Since the good options were finally starting to run out, I took the last really elite option left, and snagged 28 Days Later. It’s not the first zombie movie, but it’s easily one of the most impactful. It invented the “fast zombie,” and re-launched zombies into the modern cultural zeitgeist. Most of all, it was one of the scariest, most intense movie-going experiences of my entire life. Never before or since have I left a movie theater and felt relieved simply to see the streetlights working.]
Dan: IT (Part 1) (Creature Features)
[Dave: Dan initially tried taking An American Werewolf in London, evidently having missed the “not originally human” part of the category. He started flailing around like a dying fish, so, despite it not really fitting the category–as explained above–I let him take this. Sure, fine.]
[Dan: I wasn’t allowed to take American Werewolf in London because it somehow didn’t fit in the boundaries of the sub-genre, so I went with the creature that exemplifies fear in its victims. This modern adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel is the highest-grossing horror film of all time! Not bad for my fifth-round pick. The movie really captures that big-budget horror movie magic with a coming-of-age storyline, fantastic performances, a classic monster, and beautifully shot, elaborate set pieces, with scares around every corner of innocent Derry, Maine.
Troy: Event Horizon (Sci-fright)
[Troy: Event Horizon and Annihilation were numbers three and four on my list, so I’m glad to mention them both here. Annihilation is the better *pushes glasses onto the bridge of my nose* “FILM”, Event Horizon is just terrifying. I’ve watched it in the afternoon with all the lights on and it is still amazing.]
[Dave: I have a friend who’s afraid of space because of that movie.]
Troy: Killing of a Sacred Deer (Psychotic games and power trips)
[Troy: Let the record state that I wanted to pick The Big Short as my “Psycho Experiments by People with Money and Power and Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them” category, but the genre police stormed my door. Anyone impacted by the housing crisis would surely agree The Big Short is a horror movie, but I relented. Killing of a Sacred Deer is a tense masterpiece that if you want to see what someone with power and motive can do, it will forever haunt the rest of your life.]
[Dave: The genre police deeply suspects this one doesn’t count either, but they haven’t seen it so you get a pass.]
Dan: Shaun of the Dead (Undead and loving it)
[Dan: This is clearly the deepest category, which is why I felt comfortable saving it for last. I was a little surprised that with four players including myself I still had to go with my unconventional fifth choice since four zombie movies were picked before I went. If you haven’t seen this movie you need to. It’s amazing. Shaun of the Dead is easily the most fun zombie movie of all time.]
[Dave: Shaun of the Dead is arguably my favorite film, period, full stop. The only reason I didn’t pick it myself was because I was saving it for comedy.]
Dave: The Ghost and the Darkness (Creature feature)
[Dave: As I said before, I designed this category to be people stalked and killed by creatures—y’know, animals and stuff? Jaws and the xenomorph would fit. Similarly, bears, piranhas, and anacondas would work. If I’d wanted to go with a deeper pull I might have chosen evil orcas or, ahem—flying piranhas. One thing was for sure: I wasn’t going to pull some BS like my fellow drafters. I was going to do it right. Ultimately, I chose a movie that might be obscure, and not the greatest, but is near and dear to my heart. Basically, it’s Jaws with lions. And based on a true story!]
Sasha: The Conjuring (Witches)
[Sasha: A pantheon horror film of this millennium. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are the best paranormal crime-fighting duo since Mulder and Scully. This film has prompted EIGHT sequels, and with no end in sight, The Conjuring is unquestionably one of the greatest horror franchises.]
[Dave: Now it’s my turn to push my glasses up my nose and be a pedant. I believe Sasha meant to say “sequels and spin-offs.” (Also, greatest horror franchises?) I’ll give him this much, though–at least his movie actually has a witch in it.]
Surprise Round 7: Horror-Comedy
With the primary draft concluded, a surprise bonus round was sprung on our drafters. This round would consist of a genre that would be chosen at random, from options including Found Footage, Slashers, Sequels, and Cults. The genre that was picked was “Horror-Comedy.”
Since Troy went last in the regular draft, he went first in the bonus round.
Final, wrap-up thoughts are included here.
Troy: An American Werewolf in London
[Troy: American Werewolf in London was my number for “creature feature.” Luckily for me this was deemed not to qualify to Dan’s earlier pick, and this is the best horror-comedy EVER, so an easy pick here. “Blue Moon…..You saw me standing alone……Without a dream in my heart.”]
Dan: Evil Dead 2
[Dan: We didn’t know ahead of time what this sub-genre would be and I had already dipped in this category with my last pick. Also Cabin in the Woods was taken earlier too. I also almost picked American Werewolf in London for a previous category. But Evil Dead 2 is my favorite of the bunch anyway. Sam Raimi shows how this genre is done with this masterpiece. Bruce Campbell and his chin are perfectly cast. And appropriate for a horror film this movie has developed an international cult following. This sequel is definitely better than the original too in case anyone hasn’t seen them. Gory, quotable, iconic, and hilarious it spoofs the genre without being just an obvious collection of references *cough* Scary Movie *cough*]
Dave: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
[Even though I didn’t know for sure this would be the genre picked, I spent the entire draft saving options for this one, just in case. Alas, my planning was all for naught, since all of my faves–Shaun of the Dead, Cabin in the Woods, even Evil Dead and American Werewolf–were all taken. That left me to choose from a set of more obscure picks. Fortunately, there were a whole lotta those.
I considered some of the more recent gems, like Final Girls, or Happy Death Day. I thought about Zombieland, and the very first film I ever reviewed for MMH: The Babysitter. (I even considered a pick that I haven’t seen yet, but have heard good things about, and seems like a good choice based on title alone: Psycho Goreman.) In the end, I picked the movie that cleverly turned “scary rednecks menace city folk” on its head, and features charming performances from Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowden, and the always welcome Alan Tudyk.]
Sasha: Scary Movie
[Sasha: You know. Everyone knows it. Everyone loves it? I wasn’t super prepared for the surprise round.]
[Troy: With the category format, this is more of celebrating my picks, rather than shitting on the others, however three points need to be made.
I recall Sasha asking if people liked Scary Movie, and I am sure I saw David try to suppress a smile. [Dave: Accurate.] No, Sasha, people do not like that movie. Not at all. [Dave: Accurate.]
Killing of a Sacred Deer and Seven both got the “more of a thriller than a horror movie” treatment, which is such a hackneyed argument once created to avoid giving all those Oscars to a true horror movie for Silence of the Lambs. However, if there is a genre fraud on the list, it is the action film Predator getting WAY overdrafted at number two overall. There are also a bunch of foreign picks–Let the Right One In, Martyrs, and any of the 50 Italian films that went undrafted–I’d pick over Audition, but otherwise Daniel’s draft was front to back solid. I fully endorse him for second place.]
[Dan: Overall, if you were to design a horror movie lineup for Halloween, no other draft list tops mine for its balance of all-time classics, modern gems, and pure frightening fun. I really enjoyed this live draft; please vote for my team and check out any of these awesome films this season.]
[Dave: Sasha claims to have the best overall “films” of the draft. First of all, rude. Second of all, Sash, you sir, have failed to comprehend the assignment. You have failed to read the room. This is a Halloween movie marathon. Horror fans are not always on the lookout for the “best” film. They want the most enjoyable film. Horror fans love the movies they love because they’re the most fun, and sometimes, to adjust a quote, crappy is better.
I understand horror fans. Horror fans are my people. That’s why my draft is the best.]
- Cabin in the Woods
- Dawn of the Dead
- Train to Busan
- The Conjuring
- Bonus: Scary Movie
- Suspiria (the original)
- The Blair Witch Project
- 28 Days Later
- The Ghost and the Darkness
- Bonus: Tucker and Dale vs Evil
- Get Out
- The Thing
- Rosemary’s Baby
- IT (Part 1)
- Shaun of the Dead
- Bonus: Evil Dead 2
- The Descent
- Night of the Living Dead
- Event Horizon
- Killing of a Sacred Deer
- Bonus: An American Werewolf in London