31 Nights of Horror: Final thoughts (2010)

23 Nov

This is your brain after 49 hours of horror films.

Now that I’ve finally written up the last straggling reviews from my 31 Nights of Horror experiment, I feel like it’s OK to admit … I had no idea how tough a task I was taking on. Watching a movie a day for 31 straight days is daunting enough, but when you add in writing a timely (at least when I started I thought it would be timely) review of each film? Madness. What was I thinking? I vastly underestimated how difficult it would be to have a life outside of horror movies for the entire month of October, and I vastly overestimated my willingness to give up nearly all of my free time.

Do I regret doing it? Not really. It was a great challenge and a great learning experience. I enjoyed all the feedback I got from readers while doing it. I got some great recommendations from friends, and I even stumbled across a few gems on my own that I’m glad I took the time to watch.

What I missed most during my experiment was the ability to watch my old favorite horror movies at Halloween. I didn’t get to gird up for my annual “Evil Dead” trilogy late-night marathon, for example, and I missed watching “Poltergeist,” “Hellraiser,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and all the other classic films that get trotted out around Oct. 31. I was so busy tracking down and watching movies I’d never seen before to enjoy the ones I already loved.

Will I do this again next year? I don’t know. If I do, I’ll be much better prepared than I was this year. I went into this experiment with some vague ideas of what movies I’d like to watch but without really having a solid plan of how to go about watching them. For one thing, I should’ve made better use of my Netflix subscription by commandeering all available rentals for the month of October. (Right now, I split my three-at-a-time plan with my husband. I should’ve revoked his privileges for the month.) A lot of times I was left scrambling for something to watch because I didn’t get a DVD in the mail that day. That said, I did rediscover Hulu as a source for watching movies online. Yes, there are commercials, but the films are still uncut. That’s how I watched “Night of the Demons.” On the whole, I would have been better served by having a definite list and some backup movies to slot in if others fell through. I also wasn’t interested in any of the horror films released to theaters during the month. That’s not something I have control over, but I would’ve liked to have had a brand-new review up at some time during the month.

Did I actually watch 31 movies in 31 days? Yes and no. I started at midnight Oct. 1, and I finished before midnight on Oct. 31, but there were days that I watched more than one film. I watched two in one long night while visiting my family, and I marathoned three films in a row on two separate occasions. Mainly this was to get ahead during times when I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch a new movie due to already existing plans. Since it averaged out to 31 movies in 31 days, I feel like it still fulfills my initial intent.

Some quick statistics: I spent a total of nearly 49 1/2 hours — or a little more than two solid days — just watching the films. I spend about 90 minutes writing each review, so that equals 46.5 hours — or nearly another 2 solid days — doing the writing. In all that’s right at four solid days dealing with the watching/writing for this project.

The films’ star reviews average out to a median of 2.45 stars. Not too shabby, in other words, but more on the low end than the high end. There were two four-star reviews: “The Innocents” and “Eraserhead.” There was one zero-star review — “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.” There were three one-star reviews: “Bad Biology,” “Venus in Furs,” and “Swamp Thing.”

FYI: It took about 10 days for me to start dreaming horror movie-esque dreams every night. That finally ended about a week ago.

Which films were my favorites? Well, as works of art, I stand by my two four-star reviews. As far as which films were the most fun to watch? “Night of the Demons” and “Sleepaway Camp” as straight horror and “Fido” as a horror-hybrid.

Most disappointing? The one-star and below films were real stinkers, but I honestly expected to be genuinely scared by “The Human Centipede: First Sequence” and I just wasn’t.

As much fun as I had (at times) watching a slew of new-to-me horror flicks during October, I’m glad to get to move on to other new-to-me films. Since October ended, I haven’t watched a single new film. In fact, I only just started watching films period a few days ago. (It was Disney’s “Robin Hood” if anyone’s interested.) I’m not overstating it when I say that the 31 Nights of Horror experiment really kind of sapped my desire to consume movies for a good long while. But now with the holiday movie season gathering steam and the long winter nights making it socially acceptable to hide in one’s home and watch film, I’m totally ready to resume my cinematic devotion.

I’d love to hear from anyone who particularly enjoyed or didn’t enjoy the 31 Nights of Horror series, what you would change, what you would keep the same. I know my review schedule slowed to a maddening pace toward the end, so barring that, is there any major gripe you had with the experiment? Feedback is always appreciated.

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