The Scarecrow Video Psychotronic Challenge for 2022 is done!

Scarecrow Video isn’t just a video store. It’s a landmark for all who love about movies.

Each year, they do a month-long challenge to get people to stretch out and watch some movies they’ve never seen before.

You can also check out the Letterboxd list for 2021 as well as my lists for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

And now here are the 2022 movies:

1. START SMALL: It may seem cute at first, but these little ones are always a challenge. Watch one with an evil offspring in it: Who Can Kill a Child?

2. TROUBLE IN THE TUB: Bath time ain’t always relaxing: Diabolique

3. DEAD IN THE SUBURBS: Neither is living in the ‘burbs: The House Next Door

4. MASKED MANDATE: We’re still wearing them and so shall tonight’s antagonist: Found

5. CAKE IN FRIGHT: To celebrate the birth of Donald Pleasence, light a candle, eat a slice and watch one of his many: Night Creature

6. BEE AFRAID, BEE VERY AFRAID: Buzz through a bee picture, there’s a whole swarm to choose from: The Swarm

7. THE 7TH OFFERING: Watch the 7th film in a franchise in honor of the 7th year of the challenge: Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell

8. THE MONSTER MASH: Multiple monsters in one movie? That’s a graveyard smash!: Blood

9. FULL MOON FEVER: Since the “heavenly body” is out tonight, a lycanthrope story seems just right: Tomb of the Werewolf

10. THE FIRST WAVE: One made by an indigenous filmmaker or has indigenous cast members: The Dead Can’t Dance

11. GOLDEN OLDIES: Post-war/50’s movies, from the schlock to the awes: Eyewash

12. IT’S A REAL FREAK SCENE, JACK: A groovy 60’s grinder: Eggshells

13. MAD(E) FOR TV: Any 70’s feature length that was made specifically for television: Revenge!

14. THE RUBY ANNI-VHS-ARY: Watch something that came out in 1982. #onlyonVHS! The House Where Evil Dwells

15. VIDEO STORE DAY: This is the big one. Watch something physically rented or bought from an actual video store. If you don’t have access to one of these sacred archival treasures then watch a movie with a video store scene in it at least. #vivaphysicalmedia Body Double

16. MAKING THE 3RD WALL: One where they’re filming a movie within the movie you’re watching: Mulholland Drive

17. THE VIDEO NASTY: Watch one of the 72 banned in the UK. And we thought the PMRC was tough…Boogeyman 2

18. SO MUCH DEATH: The R.I.P. section has been very active this year so today watch a movie with a high body count: Hard Boiled

19. DRIPS: Blood, sweat, goop, tears, slime, or questionable muck is a must here: The Green Slime

20. TRIPS: Vacations don’t always go how you planned them. Can you get away from the getaway? Nightmare Vacation

21. TRAPS: To lay or be laid, that is the question: House of Traps

22. FURGET ABOUT PATTERSON & GIMLIN: Watch a non-American sasquatch movie. The Untold

23. PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY: In Psychotronic Challenge, the land haunts YOU! Hopefully that joke, ahem, landed okay. Folk it: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch II

24. HOLEY SHEET!: Ddddid I just ssssee a ghost? Crimson Peak

25. CRAIG’S TWIST: When that iffy roommate situation goes sour in a dangerous way: Single White Female and The Rules of Attraction

26. GAMESHOWS: Roll the bones, try your luck, gamble with your life! Devour

27. THE NATURAL ENTERTAINER: Watch one with a pro-wrestler turned actor. Put some raw fun in your movie mania: Mom, Can I Keep Her?

28. SPACE ODDITIES: Aliens that imitate humans or take over a human body: The Hidden

29. EXERCISE OR EXORCISE?: You’ll work it out…Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout

30. DEVILS NIGHT: Watch one with mischief, mayhem or pranks in it but please keep the fires to a minimum: The Jerky Boys

31. RETIREMENT PARTY: Watch any movie with a character named Kevin in it. Bonus points if it has a badass movie dog: The Proposal

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 31: The Proposal (2009)

31. RETIREMENT PARTY: Watch any movie with a character named Kevin in it. Bonus points if it has a badass movie dog.

I mean, this is not a Halloween movie but the Scarecrow Challenge has asked for a movie with a Kevin in it and a dog and I didn’t want to watch Balto and to be honest, my wife has made me watch this movie at least once a week since I’ve known her.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the Canadian executive editor-in-chief of a New York book publishing company that everyone hates and she’s fine with that. No one hates her more than her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who gets most of her abuse. Her boss — Michael Nouri! — tells her that her visa renewal application has been denied due to visa term violation and she faces deportation back to Canada, losing her job and her life in New York City.

So why not marry Andrew? Why not go back to his hometown of Sitka, Alaska, a place where his father (Craig T. Nelson) is the businessman who pretty much owns the town? Then there’s his mom (Mary Steenburgen, who I think was contractually obligated to be an attractive mother in every 2000s movie) and grandmother (Betty White, who this movie seems to be made for). Also an ex-girlfriend (Malin Akerman) and Oscar Nunez as Ramone, who works every job in town, including waiter, shopkeeper,  minister and male stripper. Things work out fine because this is a romantic comedy from 2009.

As for Kevin the dog, he’s a White Eskimo puppy played by four dogs, Flurry, Sitka, Nanu and Winter, who were also in Hotel for Dogs. He almost gets taken by an eagle, which is pretty scary when you think about it, because he’s way bigger than my dog and man, I don’t want to explain to my wife that Cubby got taken by an eagle, particularly after how many times she made me watch this.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 30: The Jerky Boys (1995)

30. DEVILS NIGHT: Watch one with mischief, mayhem or pranks in it but please keep the fires to a minimum.

At some amazing point in the 90s, Disney released a movie about two men who made prank calls for a living. Yes, what a time to be alive. The Jerky Boys mean more to me than just about any other form of comedy if I’m honest and I don’t care what that says about my taste. If you talk to me for any length of time, there’s a very good chance that you will hear me say something from them, whether it’s “Real proud of ya,” “call you when,” or “I hear you Greeks like tunnels.”

This movie — directed by James Melkonian (The Stoned Age) and written by Melkonian, Rich Wilkes and its stars, Johnny Brennan and Kamal Ahmed — has so much in common with the hijinks films of the 80s. Like, two guys who make prank calls accidentally call the mafia and hijinks ensue.

There’s no way that critics would enjoy this movie. So what? I mean, they got Alan Arkin, Vincent Pastore and William Hickey to be in a movie about crank phone calls and used the universe of those calls — Brett Weir and Uncle Freddy, anyone? — to tell a longform story where there was perhaps none. It has Helmet playing “Symptom of the Universe” and they’re managed by Ozzy and I honestly think they made this movie just for me, because huh?

So yeah. You can say this sucks and I wouldn’t blame you, except I will resent you and wonder about your opinions for the rest of time, jerky.

Also: Captain Lou Albano feels right for this movie.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 29: Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout (1990)

29. EXERCISE OR EXORCISE?: You’ll work it out…

In case you ever wonder what life is for and why you’re here and get depressed or anxious, worry not. You live in the reality that produced Linnea Quigley and whatever made this all should be thanked. I’m not really religious but if I were to ever start a church, it would probably be one where we all watched this video and just stared at the tracking lines growing around this VHS wonder, a workout tape punctuated by jokes, zombies and synth. I mean, if you want to believe in God, just stare into the eyes of Linnea Quigley, listen to her bubbly voice and watch her kick here legs over her head while working out in a studded bra.

Ken Hall, who directed and wrote this, also made Evil Spawn and The Halfway House. He also made creatures for CrittersGhoulies, the Bio-Monster in BiohazardCarnosaur, the creatures in Willy’s Wonderland and wrote Dr. Alien and Nightmare Sisters. He’s not in the Criterion Collection but belongs somewhere more important, in the video store shelves of our wildest and fondest dreams.

Nobody watches this to work out. I mean, what other exercise video has its host murder every single other woman in it and then threaten you for jerking off to her films? I mean, this starts with a shower scene and ends with Linnea cooking human parts while dressed in lingerie that Frederick’s of Hollywood would say is too ridiculous.

Linnea shot this in her parent’s house and man, if you don’t love her after that, what is wrong with you?

You can watch this on Tubi.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 28: The Hidden (1987)

Day 28. SPACE ODDITIES: Aliens that imitate humans or take over a human body.

Jack Sholder made two unappreciated horror films, Alone In the Dark and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge before this and it ended up becoming his move from that genre into action.

I remember renting this and had that feeling afterward that I wanted the characters to be real people. I wanted to get to know them better and spend more time with them, which is a little odd as one of the leads is an alien.

Detective Thomas Beck (Michael Nouri) is an LAPD cop. He’s definitely from our world or more likely, the universe of action filmmaking. FBI Special Agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan) is potentially something else. Together, they’re hunting a being that goes from body to body, starting with Jack DeVries (Chris Mulkey), once an ordinary person who has gone on a crime spree and who also takes hundreds of bullets and a car crash to slow down. The slug-like alien inside that man leaps into a nearly dead man, then into an exotic dancer (Claudia Christian), a dog and then even tries to get inside a politician.

Along the way, you get alien weapons, sports car mayhem, flamethrowers and even an emotional ending to this story. It kind of transcends simple science fiction ridiculousness while also having tons of it; it’s just a special movie to me.

Jim Kouf — using the name Bob Hunt — also wrote The Boogens before this. He’d later write StakeoutRush Hour and National Treasure.

This was called L’Alieno (The Alien) in Italy because they don’t care about spoilers.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 27: Mom, Can I Keep Her? (1998)

27. THE NATURAL ENTERTAINER: Watch one with a pro-wrestler turned actor. Put some raw fun in your movie mania.

Terry Funk is the wrestler that every other wrestler wants to be. When I was a kid and saw him battling Hulk Hogan in his short WWF stint, trying to punch ring announcers, running out with a branding iron and yelling at everyone in his path, I said to myself, “I’m going to be Terry Funk someday.” And that was before ECW, before death matches in Japan, before he did moonsaults in his fifties. I trained with his brother Dory and kept asking, “How does Terry throw those great punches?” The art of pro wrestling is very important and making things look perfect is even more so.

He told me he’d tell me someday.

This movie — directed by Fred Olen Ray, also a pro wrestler — starts with Terry Funk as Jungle Ed, introducing a gorilla on stage and do we need anything else from this movie? How about if it also has a cast of people I’d love to meet? One-time Buck Rogers Gil Gerard? He’s on hand. So are Alana Stewart, Brinke Stevens, Reese from Malcolm In the Middle, George “Buck” Flower, Don McLeod (TC Quist and also the gorilla from those old commercials who’d jump up and down on suitcases) and Mary Woronov too.

Let me say that for you real loud.

Mary Woronov is in a movie with Terry Funk.

Look, a gorilla eats all the cookies. And Brinke Stevens is just so wonderful, I want to write her poetry and leave it in her mailbox because I’d be too shy for her to ever know it was from me.

So on the way out of Florida and leaving the Funkin’ Dojo, I asked Dory Funk Jr. again, “How can Terry make his punches look so good?”

He answered, “He just punches you in the face.”

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 26: Devour (2005)

26. GAMESHOWS: Roll the bones, try your luck, gamble with your life!

ARGs are the new RPGs, as a game called The Pathway causes the deaths of Jake Gray’s (Jensen Ackles) friends Conrad (Teach Grant) and Dakota (Dominique Swain). The game itself is operated by Aiden Kater (Martin Cummins) and his Satanic followers who are tricking people into killing their targets or ending their own lives.

Working with occultist Marisol (Shannyn Sossamon), Jake finds Ivan Reisz (William Sadler), a man who lost his wife and child to The Pathway and demons, but then he learns that the child was raised as a human. And that’s who The Pathway was created to get and turn back over to Satan who ends up being Ivan’s wife. What?  Oh, let’s take it one step further. Marisol and this woman and the devil are all the same person.

What a twist! Maybe none of this was real! Oh man, the 2000s, when every movie had to have oh so many turns along the way. Oh well. Nearly everyone in this also ended up being in the show Supernatural. Adam and Seth Gross, who wrote this, went on to write the DOA movie, which maybe doesn’t mean as much.

You can watch this on Tubi.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 25: The Rules of Attraction (2002)

25. CRAIG’S TWIST: When that iffy roommate situation goes sour in a dangerous way.

Written and directed by Roger Avary and based on Bret Easton Ellis’ book, this movie makes me not regret at all that I went to art school instead of college and that I was not forced to suffer through roommates. Although man, my first roommates worked at Arthur Treacher’s, always smelled like fish, didn’t have beds and one of them used to cry about his girlfriend while listening to “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys, infusing in me a lifelong hatred of Mike Love. Well done, asshole.

Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon), Paul Denton (Ian Somerhalder) and Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) are students at Camden College, a place where an end of the world party leads to sex for all of them and not always the way they want it. Lauren gets taken by a townie while a film student records it. Paul gets beaten by a jock who is closeted. Sean ends up sleeping with a girl he really doesn’t want. But oh, before all that, Paul wanted Sean and wrote him letters, which he thought were from Lauren, who also likes him. Except that a geeky lunchlady girl — that’s Theresa Wayman, who was in the band Warpaint with Sossamon — sent Sean those letters and she kills herself and things spiral out of lovelorn control from there and then we get a scene where Lauren gives Eric Stoltz a blowjob while he listens to classic music because he’s married and doesn’t sleep with students. Sure, whatever, she says, taking out her gum.

This movie reminds me of a time in my life where all this music existed yet I was too busy working sixty to ninety hours a week and stuck in a marriage that was crushing me. Such is life, right?

Anyways, it has everyone from Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth and Faye Dunaway to Fred Savage, Swoosie Kurtz and Paul Williams in it and for that — mostly for Paul Williams — I agreed with this film. What didn’t make it in was Casper Van Dien as Sean’s brother Patrick. That guy. The one with the nice business cards.

The soundtrack is pretty good as well — “Six Different Ways” by The Cure, The Rapture, “Colours” by Donovan, “L’ami Cauette (My Pal Peanut)” by Serge Gainsbourg, Love and Rockets, The Go-Go’s, “Rise” By PIL, Harry Nilsson, and Erasure — but it does not have Glenn Danzig redoing “To Sir With Love” for Less Than Zero, so that Bret Easton Ellis movie has my heart.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 25: Single White Female (1992)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I like to do a new movie I’ve never written about for every Scarecrow Challenge, but I wanted to share this film — today’s challenge is CRAIG’S TWIST: When that iffy roommate situation goes sour in a dangerous way. — because my friend Em Fear is presenting a musical version of Single White Female on November 10 at 8 PM at Bottle Rocket Social Hall in Pittsburgh. 

I saw this movie on a teenage date, in a theater filled with other young people and I remember that when the scene came up when Allison (Bridget Fonda) accidentally watched Hedra (Jennifer Jason Leigh) masturbating on her bed, everyone was laughing at the awkward nature of this scene. But I think about this moment a lot. And not for prurient reasons. It’s because Allison is discovering not only that the person who has taken over life is taking over even her own bed, it’s that Hedra is more secure in her own sexuality and womanhood when she takes over Allison’s persona than Allison herself is.

Director Barbet Schroeder worked in the thriller genre quite often, which is the western way of saying that he made gialli that didn’t have as much sex or style. Single White Female is the exception.

Allison has just left her philandering boyfriend and is looking for a roommate when Hedra arrives. She lost her twin in the womb and as such, she’s been seeking her twin ever since. Allison seems to be that person until her lover comes back, which leads to Hedy acting out by launching a dog to its doom (which nearly makes this a slasher; why do slasher killers always take out innocent dogs? Talk about cheap heat…).

There’s an astounding moment in this film when after Hedy gets a makeover to look exactly like Allison, she tricks her way into going down on Allison’s boyfriend. He tries to stop her when he realizes that she isn’t who she thought she was, but then she does what very few female villains do: she assaults him, robbing him of his agency and when he complains, she penetrates his eye and brain with her stiletto heel. Somewhere, Fulci is clapping like a wildman.

I always thought that it was strange that to show how off-kilter Hedy is, they show her dancing at The Vault and participating in BDSM. Oh, she must be insane if she likes pleasure!

Other than that, this movie moves toward an interesting conclusion with a tacked-on square up reel that test audiences demanded. Ah well.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 24: Crimson Peak (2015)

24. HOLEY SHEET!: Ddddid I just ssssee a ghost?

Director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro said that this was “a very set-oriented, classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story. I think people are getting used to horror subjects done as found footage or B-value budgets. I wanted this to feel like a throwback.”

He succeeded as this feels so close to the gothic Italian films I love, as well as parts of Hammer along the way, as heiress and author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) continually is visited by spirits who carry warnings of Crimson Peak, even in her childhood.

As she becomes an adult, she falls in love with English baronet Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), an inventor who is trying to revive the fortunes of his family’s clay mine. Her father thinks something is wrong with Thomas and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), so he pays them to leave the country, but not before Mr. Cushing is murdered. Sharpe takes her to England and his home, located above the clay mines, a place where the red dirt and snow combine to make a bloody canvas for a foreboding home. Meanwhile, Edith leaves behind Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), who follows her to England to save her from the Sharpes.

Working with writers Matthew Robbins and an uncredited Lucinda Coxon, del Toro aims for a big movie here and succeeds. I watch this at least twice a year and am always so pleased with its scope and substance. The story of doomed romance and a deranged family is one that I return to for comfort, marveling at the colors and tones of this, wishing that more filmmakers would find inspiration in films like The Haunting. Nothing compares to seeing this on a real movie screen, just sitting in the dark savoring each moment yet I try to recapture that feeling with each watch.