If you’ve got a movie recommendation for Murder By Death, they’ve already seen it. It doesn't matter how obscure, they've seen it. They are something of movie buffs, in case you hadn’t noticed from their band name being borrowed from the title of the 1976 Peter Falk comedy. When not on tour, the Indiana band often holds screenings on their front porch where they gather with friends to watch the best, but mostly worst, that cinema has to offer. But of all the genres of film, they hold a special place in their hearts for horror flicks.
This year, their second album, Who Will Survive And What Will Be Left Of Them? (which is the tagline from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre because of course) is commemorating its 10 year anniversary. To celebrate, the band is playing three shows at a very special venue: The Stanley Hotel, which was the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. It is also totally haunted and some weird stuff is gonna go down in that ballroom.
With Halloween approaching, we asked Murder By Death’s Adam Turla, who is right smack in the middle of a quest to watch a new horror flick every night for the month of October, for some October movie recommendations. Here’s what he suggests for your Halloween viewing.
We love Kurt Russell. Everyone in this crew is deep into him. The Thing is legitimately an awesome horror movie. It’s got those classic ‘80s special effects where there’s this gigantic animatronic monster. I’m so sick of watching horror movies that don’t use props. It makes you feel really detached from the movie. I love watching The Thing in the winter when it’s really snowy outside. I love the simple movies that have a small cast, trapped in an area they can’t get out of, and they can’t trust each other. It’s got all those classic elements. It’s also got Wilford Brimley. Another movie that uses that same approach that I thought was really good was The Conjuring. They attacked the number one problem with that kind of movie which is that people are always like, “Why don’t you leave the fucking haunted house! Just go away! The ghosts live there!” The Conjuring is really cool because they talk about how a demon attaches itself to your soul. Wherever you go, it goes.
Drag Me To Hell
I like Drag Me To Hell because the Evil Dead movies were fucking fantastic. I think a lot of people wrote off Sam Raimi after Spider-Man 3 because it was a really silly movie. Then all of a sudden, Drag Me To Hell comes out and there’s a gypsy lady barfing in a beautiful girl’s face and we’re back! It didn’t skip a beat. I love this movie just because it has all those goofy, creepy laughs and little monsters and just strange things about it. He has such a good sense of humor about his horror movies. But they’re actually spooky too. I was so happy to see Sam Raimi make a movie like that again. He nailed it.
El Dia De La Bestia
El Dia De La Bestia is a Spanish movie from like, late ‘80s, early ‘90s, I think. Basically, there’s a priest who finds out the time and place that the anti-christ is going to be born. He knows what city, but he doesn’t know where. It happens in Barcelona. He takes it upon himself to kill the anti-christ because nobody will believe him. So he’s trying to find satanic stuff in Barcelona so obviously the first thing he does is go to a metal record store where he recruits this awesome, bumbling metalhead to track down satanists and the anti-christ in an attempt to save the world. It’s like a comedy-horror. It has this perfect balance that you rarely see in movies.
House might be one of the best movies ever made. It’s a Japanese movie. It’s about these teenage girls and whenever they show them, they play this really idyllic music. Like the kind of music they play in Bambi, whenever they show the fawn. They go out in the country to hang out with one of the girl’s aunts. They’re like, “Oh wow, you’re so beautiful yay! You’re so cool!” And she’s clearly really spooky. But they’re just like, “Wee! Vacation!” And that’s when there’s a ghost cat that’s biting and flying at their faces, flying out of a painting. A piano chops a girl’s hand off. It’s one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s this crazy animated sequence thing that happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been as beautifully shocked by a movie.
The Host is Korean. It’s hard to remember this one because it doesn’t seem like that’s what the movie should be called. It’s about this family that are kind of dipshits and they can’t seem to get it together and they run this food stand. All of a sudden, there’s this giant, mutated monster that starts terrorizing Seoul, Korea. In order to protect their family, they have to go against this monster with bows and arrows and shit. It’s definitely a comedy-horror movie but it’s just so unique. I really like colorful movies that break the rules of the genre. It’s a monster movie but I’ve never seen one like it. It’s a riot.
Spellbound has my two favorite golden age actors: Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. It’s got this great sort of amnesia quality to it. Salvador Dali designed a dream sequence in it and it’s just really fucking crazy. I just love Hitchcock’s droll sense of humor and the very heartless approach he takes to things. But this movie just has everything you want. It looks great. The story is more of a suspense thriller than a horror movie but I love it for that reason.
Dawn of the Dead (original)
I’ve seen all the Romero movies and that was the one that when I first saw it, it blew my mind in the sense that the containment—that idea of the mall—it’s so simple, but the resources, there’s so much for them to live off of. It’s one of the first apocalyptic movies that I saw where I really felt like they reduced the idea down to simple necessity like scavanging and finding adequate shelter. Everything is post-apocalyptic all of a sudden. The last five years, it’s insane. Whether you’re watching Walking Dead or whatever. That was the first one that touched into the simple everyday life, like, “OK, now I need to go get more of this from this store in the mall.” And their universe is so small and even though it’s controlled, it’s still threatening.
Ghost Dad is scary for a different reason. Bill Cosby, I’m a huge fan. When I was a kid, my mom was always working and the lady next door took care of me and she was a nun. I remember having to fight to get that movie. She was like, “Ghosts, huh? I don’t think you should watch that.” And I was like, “Please, please! It’s Bill Cosby! It’s OK!” But nothing like watching Bill Cosby getting hit by a bus as a ghost and it blows right by him. Blows your mind if you’re six years old.