When I was a kid, my friends and I would assign each other characters from Charlie’s Angels. I always claimed Dylan, Drew Barrymore’s badass, loud-mouthed rock ‘n’ roller with questionable taste in men. She was my favorite, but I also knew that if I didn’t act quickly, everyone would try to assign Lucy Liu to me—after all, that’s, like, the older, sexier version of always getting cast as Mulan in your friend group if you’re the token Asian. Nineteen years later, I’m starting to accept that I actually probably am most like Liu’s Alex (or at least an Alex rising?)—the brainy babe who couldn’t bake a muffin to save her life, but has an expert ear for the chirps of rare bird species. (Okay, I’m not a bird person, but I feel like I could be.)
Too bad Netflix wasn’t around back then, because my parents were forced to take me to Blockbuster so I could obsessively rent the DVD until they finally caved and bought it for me for my 11th birthday. Charlie’s Angels, and its slightly inferior but still-great sequel, Full Throttle (2003), are kicking down doors and launching themselves onto the Netflix carousel on October 1, a month before Elizabeth Banks’s reboot. I’m not sure if it can ever live up to the 2000 version, and sadly, dream casting (K-Stew as an angel, whewwww) doesn’t necessarily make a great, or even good, movie (see: Ocean’s Eight). But more on that in a future column, after we all go see it.
Ready to Get Spooky? Of Course You Are!
Despite my penchant for dressing up for minor occasions and my love for horror movies, I’m weirdly not a big Halloween costume person. So this month, I’ll probably skip the parties to stay home and stream something vaguely spooky, like Scream 2, which is coming to Netflix next month. It’s probably the second best Scream movie (they’re all great IMO), and features Sarah Michelle Gellar in an especially harrowing scene because you half-expect her to go full Buffy on Ghostface before you realize she’s a defenseless sorority girl. If you’re looking for something more thriller-adjacent, Along Came a Spider (also hitting Netflix October 1), was weirdly on heavy rotation for me when I was younger and obsessed with those ’90s/early aughts crime movies along the lines of The Fugitive and Double Jeopardy.
There will be no shortage of Halloween programming this October, but it’s still a great time to sign up for Shudder, which, if you’re unfamiliar, is the perfect streaming site for horror buffs. They’ve got subgenres for basically all your phobias, and you can do a seven-day trial if you’re unconvinced. If you want an underseen slasher to double feature with Scream 2, try Slumber Party Massacre, which is unabashedly ’80s camp and unexpectedly feminist, featuring female characters that know how to work a drill. It’s what AHS 1984 wants to be but waaaay better. Shudder’s got your back with the must-see classics (like Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre) but they also have a robust collection of should-be canon flicks, like Black Christmas, which is a slasher favorite of mine, featuring one of the most progressive final girls (played by Olivia Hussey). Yes, bish, you leave your anti-abortion boyfriend!
If you’re in the arthouse horror mood, Criterion Channel has the staples: the 1960 face-transplant fantasy Eyes Without a Face (starring Edith Scob, the French actress who passed away this summer) and the 1977 Japanese cult film House, which will absolutely make you see your cat in a more demonic light. There’s also Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, a colorful homage to vintage sexploitation—this is an especially good choice if you’re bad with scary movies but want to tap into your witchy energy.
Your local cinemas will certainly show haunting selections next month. New Yorkers, stop by Metrograph at the end of October for a trio of murderous Hitchcock films (all streamable if you’re not in New York). It’s not horror-related, but Metrograph’s coinciding series of NYC movies from 1981 features a Halloween fave that ends with a costume party: Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45, a rape revenge thriller that gave us one of the baddest nuns on screen.
And if I may plug my own programming, I’m presenting a 35mm screening of The Faculty on October 29 at Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse as part of their Terror Tuesday series (tix on sale here). This was another childhood staple of mine—I probably used the prospect of aliens taking over teachers’ bodies to try and skip school. Come hang out with me if you’re in New York! I’ll be the one eating fried pickles.
Thrills From the Far East
Two masters of Asian horror/thriller have new movies coming out this fall. Takashi Miike, the director of the quintessential J-horror, Audition, the date-ruining, body-mutilating classic, will release a new movie called First Love on September 27. It’s far, far less disturbing than Audition and definitely a lot more romantic (bringing together a terminally ill boxer and a woman on the run from the yakuza), and includes an incredible, extended set piece within the aisles of a hardware store. Then on October 11, Parasite, the much-hyped, Palme d’Or-winning thriller from Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder, Snowpiercer) will come stateside. Parasite, about a poor family that scams their way into the services of an extravagantly rich family (or, rather, leeches onto them, you know, parasitically), was the first Korean film to win the Palme, the highest award at Cannes, newly opening up the conversation about whether this might finally be the year Korea gets its first Oscar nom. If Korea doesn’t get nominated this year, I SWEAR TO GOD.
But the Real Horror This Fall Will Be…Tortured Male Egos?
Unfortunately, the talk of the town this fall will be Joker. It hasn’t even come out yet and I am already exhausted by the discourse, which is mostly centered on whether the film casts a sympathetic light on incels, or the kind of bullied lone wolf types who turn violent (see: this country’s epidemic of white male mass shooters).
On a less troubling, but more pretentious note, is A24’s The Lighthouse, the black-and-white followup from The Witch director Robert Eggers, in which two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) start losing their minds and, uh, yelling at each other. It looks great—black and white and shot on film—but it’s ultimately all style, little substance, unless you count hallucinatory dreams of R Patz humping a mermaid. Consider my boat not floated.
Take a Break With Female Filmmakers This Fall
Thankfully, there’s a lot of counter-programming this October. A cool new festival you should be aware of: FFFest (Female Filmmaker Fest), which launched last year and will now be hosted by Quad Cinema in New York, from October 25–27. There will be screenings of underseen women-directed or shot films (like Kei Fujiawara’s Organ and Bette Gordon’s Variety), along with panels about making movies and screening them. (Tickets on sale soon!)
Over at Film Forum, they’re celebrating the 100th birthday of filmmaker Shirley Clarke with select screenings. Her best-known work is Portrait of Jason, a biographical documentary about a gay, black entertainer in the ’60s. The film, which is also rentable on Amazon, is a seminal text for shows like Drag Race and Pose.
If you want to take a chance on something super underground, may I draw your attention to The Eyeslicer? It’s an omnibus TV show comprised of shorts from the coolest emerging filmmakers, most of whom are women. There’s ASMR (I attest to tingles), animation, and so much more, and lucky for us all, the first two episodes are streaming online for free here and here. The rest of the season is available to order on a beautiful 7-inch.
Lastly, Can We Please Talk About J.Lo?
Okay, I know we are all collectively re-obsessed with J.Lo right now, especially after she lit up a cigarette and invited Constance Wu to climb into her fur in Hustlers, but I let out an audible gasp when I saw she closed out the Versace show with an homage to her Google Image-inventing green Grammy dress from 2000. I thought everyone on the Internet was collectively appreciating a nearly two decades old photo, but then I realized she had recreated it. J.Lo is genuinely one of the greatest actresses. I wonder if she actually has a chance at the Oscars or if I’m too high on Hustlers right now?
And speaking of J.Lo being iconic, the film that originally made her a star is slated for a restoration run. That’s right, Selena is getting a weeklong engagement at BAM from October 4–10. We simply must stan.
Feature photos via Sony.