October is almost here, and with it our annual celebration of the spookiest time of the year, Halloween! Last year we took a bit of a break and had a very relaxed celebration of the season, but for years we have set the entire month aside for Halloween shenanigans and called it CINE-WEEN! Our efforts have been to highlight the work of staff and friends as they reflect on what frightens them, what reminds them of Halloweens of the past, and what gives them perhaps a bit of hope in the face of death. The work has ranged from funny to reflective, between recommending films which are not horror films but are upsetting to think about and pieces exploring some of the works of horror that have informed our tastes for our whole lives. Opening a space for a diverse array of voices to reflect not only on the genre of horror, but on the ways this holiday resonates for us in a modern context, has allowed for some great reads and listens over the years.  I am excited this year to get back into the swing of this ceremony, this setting aside of time and effort for this purpose, and to truly have a CINE-WEEN again.

I have detailed in many places how I was introduced very early to horror. The first horror film to really terrify me was the original A Nightmare on Elm Street which I saw at the tender age of 8 and scarred my mind for some time. However, my relationship with this season did not begin there, not even my relationship with our representations of our fears we call monsters. Somehow, despite never having seen any horror films,  I knew the big names in horror movies. I was not reading horror books or comics, nor had I seen the 80s movie that made it clear these creatures were not just IP but were typological forms for Monsters written into the fabric of the universe (MONSTER SQUAD). Perhaps they were just so present in popular culture that I could not help but pick up on their existence: Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Now, any student of folklore or horror literature will tell you these are not widely held types of creatures, but just specific characters from a specific tradition of films (Notice also that my young mind always left out the Invisible Man, which might be important later).  So, in first grade, I insisted to my mom that I needed to be The Wolf Man for Halloween. Not “a werewolf” but THE Wolf Man. My mom could not afford an expensive costume, but she did have a collection of silly wigs and a flannel shirt that fit me. With the help of those wigs, cut up and attached to my shirt in strategic ways, and an impressive make up job for someone who had never worked in theater, I became The Wolf Man. It was impressive enough that I won the over all costume prize at the school for Halloween, quite honestly the first and last thing I won until I won best Chili in the Princeton Seminary Chili Cook Off of 2008.

Obviously, wearing an amazing costume is about being seen, and I showed this get up off like I was the belle of the ball. I was so proud, so amazed that my mom was able to make me look so convincingly like this classic monster. Was it so convincing you ask? Who knows, I have found no photographic evidence of the day anywhere, but in my mind I was terrifying. That desire though, to be seen and even to be the best costume, it was not actually about competition, though there was one. There was no prize and I really don’t remember it being about feeling like I had won anything. It was about feeling like I was seen, and that I was sharing my love for this thing with others. The Wolf Man, as I am sure you know and as is true of most werewolf stories, is a tragic story.  It is about fate and corruption and ultimately of a doom you cannot escape. Being that person for that day made me very happy as a strange six year old, and part of that was not just the feeling of being impressive. It was sharing something, participating in something. It was the way this ceremony, his tradition, connected this community of which I often felt excluded, together.

I might not be dressed as The Wolf Man here but I am clearly strange

When we first started to expand Cinepunx beyond just the one podcast, into a website and a network, one of the first questions we kicked around was how to make our audience feel included? I discussed it with many people, and I thought about it often to myself. I never wanted this site to be just me or just the people who stepped up to create for it, but for it to feel like a place where lots of people could connect and feel like they were part of something. Cine-ween was an answer to that question, and the reason I saw it as an answer connects not just to the reason for this site but to my pride at that costume way back in 1985. One of the ways I know how to connect and to welcome others, even to invite them to participate, is to share my love with them. To share with them the things I care about, that I ruminate over, that make me excited or frustrated or deeply afraid. Unfortunately, we have been given so many examples in the last 10-15 years of the ways that communities of interest are limited. Any fandom or subculture you can participate in will be flawed because it will have people in it. No place is free from the specters of capitalism, sexism, racism, misogyny, heterosexism, and so on and so on. It is depressing to admit, but in forms that surprise us more often than not, the things we are seeking to escape or combat still find us in our sanctums and movements.

Cinepunx, in a weird, way, is about not giving up despite all of that. It is about knowing full well that sharing the art and film and music and culture and material products of life that we love is not nor will it ever be enough to change a broken world. And yet, it is a place to start. Cine-ween began from a place of saying to myself and then to the amazing people on the staff here “Celebrating Halloween has allowed me to remember death, not just literally but the ways all things end or pass away, and to more deeply appreciate life. I want to share that.” For me, horror has a lot of functions and contradictions and joys, and not all of that is tied to this holiday alone. Horror is for the full year. In this time though I hope Cine-Ween can mean for you and for this community the sharing of our fears and joys together. What we fear reveals what we love and what we love is often what we fear to lose. Enacting those fears together in dramatic ways will no protect us, but it could create the possibilities of not only surviving but thriving together

We have a lot of things planned this month., not quite the daily deluge we have managed other years but still some great writing and episodes of your favorite podcasts to enjoy. There will be explorations of the films, books, comics, and music that reminds us and hopefully you of this  season.

In this spirit of sharing this experience together though our first event we wanted to share is our 31 DAYS OF HORROR FUN watch list! I have created a list of horror movie categories for you to follow this October, and created my own list to match each description. You can follow along to my list, or you can use the categories to create your own list, or heck just dip in and out as you see fit!
The idea was to create the possibility of sharing together, of having some common ground to connect and discuss this Halloween, and to hopefully further create the possibility of us drawing together. Regardless, check out the categories below as well as a link to my Letterboxd list, and tell a friend about Cine-Ween. More to come friends, thanks as always for your support!

1. Haunted House
2. Gothic Horror
3. Animated Horror
4. Slasher fun
5. 60’s horror
6. Not quite Horror
7. Slasher Classic
8. Creature Feature
9. Universal Horror
10. Terror in Space
11. Can’t Trust the Neighbors
12. The Kids are not Alright
13. Grindhouse Horror
14. All of them Witches
15. Folk Horror Classic
16. Folk Horror Under seen
17. 90s Horror
18. Satan Rules
19. 70s Horror
20. Korean Horror
21. Horror Anthology
23. Not Zombies Again
24. Giallo!
25. Being a Teen is Terrifying
26. Arthouse MIndfuck
27. Body Horror
28. Dark Disney
29. Japanese Horror
30. Queer Horror
31. Your Halloween Comfort Movie

In putting my list together I tried to favor movies I had never seen before, so if some of the picks seem random or obscure I promise I am no trying to impress, there are a good 20 films here I have never seen! Yes, I also need some comfort films in there, like visits from old friends, but I really think the fun of lists like this is to expose yourself to new and exciting movies!

CINE-WEEN WATCH LIST 2023- A Guide to 31 days of Horror FUN

1 Comment

  • Hans Howk
    On September 28, 2023 3:44 pm 0Likes

    Excited to follow this! I’ve been on a solo dive into horror cinema for the past few months and I’m in pretty deep, but I’ve only seen 2 or 3 of the films on your list so I’m pumped to check them out.

    Incidentally, if you’re in need of writers/content creators/podcasters for cinepunx, lmk!

    Keep the good stuff coming!

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