Written by Briant Laslo

Briant Laslo

My goal here is to go throughout the year and each month pick out five of the best films, in my opinion, that in some way or another fit into the horror genre. They may not have been box office smashes. They may not have been critical successes. Some of them might even be more funny than scary. But, all of them will have made some kind of contribution to the genre or, at the very least, made their mark on me personally.

Top five lists are, by their very nature, subjective and meant to be fun, conversation starting pieces. So, I encourage everyone to get involved in the comment section. Give us your top five, or talk about any of the films I mentioned.

So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Horror (ish) Movies Ever Released in the month of January!

Mama, released January 18, 2013. Let me start off by saying the first several months are rough going. January is one of the big “dump months” for films where studios push out all of the films they’ve made that they don’t think are going to make any money. However, Mama is a decent, scary movie with some great visuals. I’m not a big fan of horror movies that rely solely on the “made you jump” moment, and while Mama has a few of them, it does a great job of portraying the main antagonist as a sympathetic, while terrifying, character that truly does care for the children. The scene where the children are playing tug-of-war with a blanket in their room and you can’t see who’s on the other side of the blanket, and then they start to get pulled up towards the ceiling laughing in fun is one of my favorites.

From Dusk Till Dawn, released January 19, 1996. Definitely not your stereotypical horror movie, nor your stereotypical vampire movie for that matter. This is definitely the “Tarantino is cool and pulp fiction is great, let’s make a vampire movie like that!” Heck, there’s even a cameo by Big Kahuna Burgers. The movie is of course ultraviolent and definitively answers the question “does Quinten Tarantino have a foot fetish?” There’s not a lot of true scary moments or tension builders in this one, but if you’re looking for a fun ride with lots of blood, you will not be disappointed.

Hostel, released January 6, 2006. The second full-length movie directed by Eli Roth is the kind of movie that I have the hardest time watching when it comes to horror, and is for that reason usually something that sticks with me. This is a straight out horror/torture film about as based in reality as you can get for a horror movie. There are not any ghosts or invincible bad guys around. These are humans, both vulnerable and depraved. The movie doesn’t pull any punches and the horror is more about enveloping you in the situation rather than building tension. I don’t like re-watching this movie because I honestly don’t enjoy the feelings it creates inside me. But, it DOES successfully create those feelings of fear and disgust. So, if that’s your thing, then you need to make sure you give this one a go.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil, released January 22, 2010. Okay, so like I said, not all of these movies are going to be pure horror. This one still touches on many of the horror stereotypes (deranged hillbillies, sexy teenagers, running, screaming, blood, all that good stuff) but it certainly plays it on the comedic side. First off, full transparency, I’m a huge Alan Tudyk fan. I like pretty much everything he is in. And, if you’re a fan of the current NBC medical drama “New Amsterdam” you’ll love seeing Ziggy in a completely different role. If you’re looking for scares and tension, this is not the movie for you at this moment. But if you’re looking for multiple good laughs, still plenty of blood, and enough of the horror movie tropes to potentially trick your brain into thinking you’re watching a horror movie, making the comedy even that much better, then this might be one of those cult classics you wind up watching several times.

The Girl with All the Gifts, released January 26, 2017. Second bit of full transparency, I love zombie movies. I will go into why I love them more in some reviews later in the year on movies that are more prototypical zombie movies. This is one of those movies that, again, isn’t necessarily straight out horror. It’s very well written, with an original twist on the zombies. It’s also not truly a straight out zombie movie, but more of an intersection of horror/zombie/post-apocalyptic movies. It’s got plenty of tension building and moments where you realize you are gripping your seat, or clenching your jaw. You’re not entirely sure who the good guys are, or if there are even any good guys, and the ending leaves you to ponder whether things went the best way they could have, or the worst.

And there you have it everyone, inarguably, the best 5 horror movies ever created and released in the month of January! Look forward to your comments and I’ll have another one out for you all next month.

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Ryukyuan-American, award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year, she shares Authortunities, a free weekly calendar of author opportunities at authortunities.substack.com.

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