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monsters from the vault

monsters-vaultYeah, yeah, it’s already been October for a few days now, but I’ve been recovering from a tonsillectomy, so this is the first time this month that I’ve felt well enough to post anything. So consider this the official kickoff of my Countdown to Halloween this year!

This year it seems like everyone has been doing these “31 movies for Halloween” lists, to help people to watch a horror movie a day for the entire month of October. Which, to be fair, is something I come very close to doing most months of the year anyway. I thought that it would be fun to throw together a list, but with so many people doing them, it seemed impossible to think of a way to make my list stand out. And with so many movies to choose from, narrowing them down to just 31 seemed like a daunting task. So I hit upon a solution:

I would limit my list exclusively to movies that came out before prior to the release of John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978. Part of the impetus for this decision was to make my job a little easier, but part was also to help draw attention to the fact that Monsters from the Vault, my collection of columns on vintage horror films, is on sale for only 99 cents on the Kindle for the entire month of October! (And is currently already sitting in the #1 bestseller spot on Kindle for “video guides & reviews.”)

So, to that end, not only did I limit myself to movies made before ’78, I also pretty much used the same criteria that I used when selecting movies for my Vault of Secrets column. No movies that felt too “modern,” for whatever ambiguous and subjective definition of that I wanted to use. So while my ’78 cutoff would technically let me include things like The Exorcist or even Suspiria, I ruled those too modern, and stuck to the stagey movies that dominated the horror scene in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s.

Which brings me to my other stipulation. I also tried to avoid the most usual suspects, so you won’t find many of the most respected “classics” on this list. No Nosferatu or Psycho, no Haunting or Rosemary’s Baby. If a title seemed to obvious, I tried to eschew it, with a few exceptions. That means you also won’t find some of the classic monsters on here. No Frankenstein, Dracula… not even a mummy. Instead, I opted for at least somewhat more obscure titles that felt like they captured that “Halloween spirit,” while also hopefully covering a pretty wide swath of different styles, tones, and sub-genres. (This also means that you won’t find many kaiju, 1950s atomic panic movies, or alien invaders here… though maybe a few.)

If you like my list, these are exactly the kinds of movies that I write about in Monsters from the Vault, and there’s no time like the present to pick it up. Anyway, without further ado, here are my 31 vintage horror films for the 31 days (and nights) of Halloween:

  1. Night Creatures (1962)
  2. Dead of Night (1945)
  3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
  4. I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
  5. The Body Snatcher (1945)
  6. Night of the Demon (1957)
  7. The Devil Rides Out (1968)
  8. Black Sunday (1960)
  9. Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
  10. The Haunted Palace (1963)
  11. Die, Monster, Die! (1965)
  12. Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
  13. The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)
  14. The Brainiac (1962)
  15. Santo and the Blue Demon Against the Monsters (1970)
  16. Fiend without a Face (1958)
  17. Curse of the Fly (1965)
  18. Matango (1963)
  19. Kill, Baby… Kill! (1966)
  20. The Legend of Hell House (1973)
  21. The Vampire Lovers (1970)
  22. The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
  23. Doctor X (1932)
  24. Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
  25. The Thing from Another World (1951)
  26. The Undying Monster (1942)
  27. Return of the Vampire (1943)
  28. Mark of the Vampire (1935)
  29. Mad Love (1935)
  30. The Old Dark House (1932)
  31. House on Haunted Hill (1959)

 

Over the last few weeks, I’ve acquired a lot of new Facebook friends and Twitter followers, thanks, I imagine, in no small part, to the recent Kickstarter to launch a deluxe second edition of my debut collection Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings through my friends at Strix Publishing. Whatever it is that brought you here, though, I figure all these new faces are as good an excuse as any to stop, take a step back, and sort of remind everyone of who I am and what I do.

As my bio says, I’m a skeleton who likes monsters. I’m also a writer, editor, amateur film scholar, and monster expert who was born on the night before Halloween. (Before you ask, yes, skeletons are born, where else would we come from? We hatch out of coffins, just like everyone else.) I’m a full time freelance writer, and when I’m not doing content marketing work or writing licensed stuff for Privateer Press or penning articles about true crimes and other weirdness for The Lineup, I write stories about monsters, ghosts, and sometimes the ghosts of monsters.

My stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, and been collected into two collections, with a third on the horizon probably sometime in early 2018. Right now you can pick up Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, my second fiction collection, from Word Horde, and that aforementioned deluxe edition of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings should be available to those who missed out on the Kickstarter very soon.

I have had stories recently published or forthcoming directly in Children of Lovecraft, which managed to cross two items off my bucket list (be in an original Ellen Datlow antho, and have something of mine appear behind a Mike Mignola cover), as well as Eternal Frankenstein, which you can pre-order now from Word Horde, The Children of Gla’aki which is nearing the end of a pre-order campaign at Dark Regions Press, and The Madness of Dr. Caligari, which you can pre-order from Fedogan & Bremer, to name just a few. I’ve also got a new novelette, The Cult of Headless Men, which is being released as a chapbook by Dunhams Manor, with an incredible cover by Michael Bukowski.

For a relatively succinct summary of my philosophy regarding my own work and my relationship with the genre of horror in general, check out my essay for Nightmare Magazine’s The H Word, “But Is It Scary?

I also spend an inordinate amount of time writing about horror movies, which you can find right here on my blog, as well as at my Patreon and occasionally other places, like the forthcoming October issue of Unwinnable, where I will be nattering on once again about Monster Squad, while all of my literary betters show me up by discussing more intellectual things, I have no doubt.

And if you can’t get enough of reading my rambling opinions on especially creaky old monster movies of yesteryear, all five-or-so years of my column on vintage horror cinema for Innsmouth Free Press have recently been collected into an affordable volume that you can buy right now, Monsters from the Vault.

So, for newcomers or those who just have a tough time keeping up, I think that’s a decent crash course in who I am and what I’ve been up to. There’s a lot more announcements in the works, so keep your radio tuned to this dial until long after you hear the static. That’s where the good stuff lurks…

Yesterday was the official release day for my first nonfiction book, but I was still feeling a bit under the weather, and too overwhelmed to post anything about it until today, so here’s the official announcement: Monsters from the Vault collects more than five years worth of the Vault of Secrets column on vintage horror cinema that I wrote for Innsmouth Free Press, including a few columns that haven’t gone up on the website just yet, so you can read ’em here first!

Movies range from the 1932 classic Doctor X (filmed in two-strip Technicolor!) to the 1976 Bert I. Gordon “classic” Food of the Gods, filmed with a bunch of rats on tiny model cars and houses. A few of the columns that are in the book but haven’t yet gone live on the website include pieces on The Monster That Challenged the WorldThe Invisible RayThe Mummy’s Curse, and even the great William Castle masterpiece The Tingler, to name just a few.

Short on cash at the moment but still want a copy of Monsters from the Vault? There’s a Goodreads giveaway of it running for the next few days, but act now, because it ends on June 17! (And speaking of Goodreads giveaways, you can still enter for a chance to win a copy of Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts as part of the Word Horde Summer Solstice Giveaway, ending June 20. Already got Painted Monsters? There are plenty of other amazing Word Horde titles up for grabs, including John Langan’s new novel The Fisherman!)

There’s more promotions and other stuff in the works for Monsters from the Vault, and I’ll be live-tweeting a suitably creaky old horror movie sometime soon, so keep your eyes on this space or on my various social media presences for more info. And if you already ordered your copy, it should be on its way to you directly! As always, reviews (whether positive, negative, or indifferent) are much appreciated, and if anyone knows how you go about getting a book into consideration for a Rondo Award, drop me a line…

Monsters from the Vault, collecting every single one of my more than four years worth of Vault of Secrets columns from Innsmouth Free Press, is now available for pre-order, and cheaper than cover price! But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the blurb it got from no less a personage than John Langan, author of The Fisherman, among others:monsters

“Orrin Grey’s Monsters from the Vault is a delight.  Grey takes the reader on a film-by-film journey trough some of the lesser-known horror films of the middle decades of the twentieth century, offering incisive and witty analysis of them along the way.  Possessed of an apparently encyclopedic knowledge of these films, Grey points out connections among their directors, writers, actors, and production crews.  The result is a book that can be enjoyed both for its discussions of individual films and for its overview of horror film during this period.  Put this one on the shelf next to Danse Macabre and The Outer Limits Companion–even better, keep it on your desk, so it’s close at hand.”

I’ve already been asked elsewhere about the table of contents, which should be showing up over on the IFP site directly. But for those of you who just can’t wait, I’ll go ahead and post it here, though I warn you, that’s a full 80 movies, so you’re in for a long list of titles, which I’m gonna put behind a cut:

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