The Great Shudder Challenge – Week 5

The Challenge: Watch every single movie/series/podcast on Shudder by the end of 2020.

The Stakes: If I lose, I must cut my long hair for my upcoming wedding (10/31/2021). If I win, I get to keep my long hair, as well as have full control over the music at the reception.

Can it be done?!

We’re now in week 5 of the Great Shudder Challenge. This week was a bit slower in terms of movies, but that’s because I watched a 26 episodes TV series (more on that below). The current standings are:

201 movies left to watch
20 TV series left to watch
3 podcasts left to listen to

And here’s everything I watched this week:

Inner Demon (2014)
This was an Australian gem that I had never heard of before, but wound up really enjoying it. Mostly because, it features a protagonist who’s actually smart, and uses her wits to fight back against her captors.

Because she makes decisions in line with logic and reason, it’s easy to root for her. It’s a tense thriller that’s apparently based on a real murder case in Australia from the 1970’s, which is all the more disturbing!

Hands of the Ripper (1971)
After watching something modern, tense, and thrilling like Inner Demon, I was in the mood for something old school and 70’s. Hands of the Ripper was just the Hammer solution I was looking for.

When we think of Hammer, it’s very often in connection with Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, and other classic horror icons. But this told a really interesting and compelling story of how evil can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Although, given the harsh world that our main character experiences (like being pimped out as a teenager), it’s understandable why she goes down that road.

Host (Shudder Original, 2020)
So if you’ve been anywhere near Shudder’s social media in the last week, you’ve probably already heard a lot about Host. I even wrote a full review of it, so I won’t go into too much detail here.

It’s inevitable that Host will get compared to Unfriended, but it did a lot more with a lot less. The fact that it was legitimately shot over Zoom while the actors and director were in quarantine is kind of amazing. Though to get the best experience, I recommend watching it on a computer, by yourself, at night, with the lights out.

She Kills (Shudder Original Podcast, 2019)
Unlike the History of Horror or Horror Noire Uncut, these interviews with female figures in horror weren’t part of an existing series. She Kills was its own original podcast, and because of it, the episodes definitely have more tonal consistency, and are able to focus on a more central theme each time.

There were interviews from actresses/writers/directors that I really respect and am fans of, as well as others than I had never heard but I’ll certainly be seeking out their work now. Horror has often been described as being both pro-feminist for its many female protagonists, as well as incredibly misogynistic for the way it has often treated those characters.

This podcast is a great way to expand on my own experiences as a male horror writer, and to try and understand issues from a different point of view.

The Club (2015)
Definitely horrifying, but in a way totally unlike the rest of the movies here (or most other movies on Shudder). The Club is really more a drama/thriller from Spain that deals with abuse and corruption in the Catholic Church.

Other than its disturbing content, which is very much inspired by real-life scandal, it’s hard to tell why this movie was ever put on Shudder. It makes for a compelling watch, but not if you’re in the mood for an actual horror film. (Removed from Shudder at the time of writing)

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (Shudder Exclusive, 2010-2012)
Initially, this series reminded me a lot of Deathgasm, at least in the first couple episodes (despite this coming out several years prior).

But it grew into an off the wall stoner/demonic comedy that spoke the outcast in all of us. The fact that the cast featured Jason Mewes also made it a lot more fun (I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan).

And while the episodes did get a little formulaic (something weird happens, they have to find the student who used the book, they save the day), it went really far for a series about teenagers. Just about every week another high school student gruesomely died and everything just sort of went on normally.

But the whole time the show as very aware of this in a sarcastic manner. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, but as I understand there was an animated movie follow up that ended the story in 2017. I’ll definitely be checking that out!

Nina Forever (2015)
So every now and then I’ll let my fiancée pick a movie from Shudder as long as it’s one I’ve never seen before (she usually picks from the “Love Sick” collection), and she picked this absolute gem.

It’s kind of a dark, twisted spin on relationship drama and the baggage we bring into new relationships, particularly from our exes. Nina Forever features a guy whose girlfriend died, but her bloody ghost appears any time he is intimate with his new girlfriend.

Initially she’s kind of intrigued by the concept, and they even seem to form a polyamorous triad from beyond the grave. But eventually, it all starts to be too much. It’s a really creative idea, that’s done with cleverness, dark humor, and a few moments of real poignancy.

The Mutilator (1984)
I had already watched the Kill Count video about this movie on YouTube, so going in I kind of knew the gist of it. It has a reputation of being a good old fashioned slasher with fun kills, and that doesn’t even try to be anything more than that.

The movie lets us know who the killer is early on, and it sort of just unapologetically exists as a campy and intentionally trashy slasher. It was a lot of fun to watch!

Check back next week for another installment of how much Shudder I can cram into one week (while also working full time, having a one year old, and running Halloween Year-Round’s website)!

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