Welcome to the Weekly Watchlist, a rundown of everything you should be watching.

This week, with The Nun II in theaters, let’s look at films that operate within the same unique intersection of The Nun II’s time, place, and genre. So think of this as a Venn diagram, where each entry will have some correlation to the 1950s, France, horror, or a combination therein, all just in time for the Halloween season to kick off in earnest.

5. I Married a Monster From Outer Space (1958)

One of the quintessential atomic dread science-fiction horror films of the 1950s, director Gene Fowler Jr.’s delightfully titled film is a must-watch. Released as a drive-in movie double-feature with the iconic The Blob, I Married a Monster From Outer Space is a B-movie in theory and in execution, but one that utilizes its genre tropes to dig into powerful thematic work with vigor.

Chronicling the story of a young woman whose fiancé is replaced with an alien imposter on the eve of their wedding, the film takes a subversive look at both the surface-level veneer of white picket fence American patriotism which swelled so distinctly in this era (and has only grown more palpable in hindsight thanks to the politicization of nostalgia for it) and the idea of marriage itself. Can one ever truly know one’s partner? It’s a fascinating film that would fit right in alongside works such as Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut or Fincher’s Gone Girl as meditations on relationships through the lens of their era.

Plus, it’s edited by George Tomasini, who is the master editor behind so much of Alfred Hitchcock’s most indelible work (Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest), and it absolutely shows. A great film, more than worth checking out.



4. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Look, I wasn’t expecting to get to talk about an Indiana Jones film in relation to The Nun II, but when life gives you lemons, you make motherfucking lemonade. Somewhat inexplicably, The Nun II features multiple homages to Indiana Jones films throughout its runtime, but this is far from the first time the Harrison Ford-starring franchise and the horror genre have crossed paths.

Steven Spielberg’s controversial and polarizing first sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, the incredibly titled Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, was essentially a horror film in its own right. Spielberg made his name delivering satisfying, suspenseful, and ruthlessly tense horror films like Duel and Jaws, and Temple of Doom sees him experimenting within the genre once more, to absolutely delirious results.

I’m sure that there’s an entire generation of younger viewers who exclusively associate Indiana Jones with films inspired by them (The Mummy, National Treasure, Uncharted), or the relatively uninspired latter films (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Dial of Destiny) and those folks owe it to themselves to give something like Temple of Doom a watch because it is a master of the craft just shredding.



3. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

One cannot really speak about the horror genre in the 1950s without speaking about Hammer films, one of the most influential and distinctive production companies of the era. The British-based studio hit it big with their first color horror film, The Curse of Frankenstein, which made them a household name.

Directed by Terence Fisher and written by Jimmy Sangster, this is a phenomenal recontextualization of the Frankenstein story, taking influence from both Mary Shelley’s iconic novel and James Whale’s immaculate 1930s adaptations, Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein. The result is a phenomenal film with remarkable sets, incredible performances, and scares for days. So much of what The Nun and The Nun II are trying to emulate is this Hammer Horror sensibility, but rather than watch a poor recreation of that aesthetic, opt to return to the source and experience Fisher’s wonderful The Curse of Frankenstein instead.

If you need further convincing, just know that filmmakers like John Carpenter and George Lucas are on record as ginormous advocates and fans of The Curse of Frankenstein. It rules.



2. Night of the Demon (1957)

From director Jacques Tourneur (who also made miraculous early RKO horror films in the 1940s like Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, and Leopard Man), Night of the Demon is one of the defining accomplishments of not just the horror genre but of cinema in the ‘50s, period. A late-in-the-game masterpiece from Tourneur, the film had a troubled release (in some regions, it was called Curse of the Demon and released with a shorter runtime) but has since gone on to become a revered classic, and rightfully so.

So many modern horror films, from The Ring to It Follows to Smile to Talk to Me, owe a gargantuan debt to Tourneur’s Night of the Demon and its high-concept horror, whether they know it or not. It’s an astonishing tour de force, one that is so good that it even comes recommended by Martin Scorsese himself. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a late-night viewing of Tourneur’s Night of the Demon.



1. Les Diaboliques (1955)

1950s? Check. Horror? Check. French? Oui. For both the criteria of this watchlist and beyond, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques has it all. A film so horrifying, so primally upsetting, and so deeply affecting that a viewing of it infamously directly inspired Alfred Hitchcock to make several of his best films (Vertigo and Psycho), Les Diabolique is a film best experienced with zero prior knowledge.

Suffice it to say that Clouzot was a master of the craft and tightened the screws of suspense and achingly effective tension with such precision that it is nigh unbelievable. In a time where horror is increasingly expanding its palette in delightful ways, the genre has so much more to offer than the simple stock-standard shocks. Les Diaboliques is a perfect encapsulation of the ways in which great horror can get under your skin in palpable ways and stay with you long after the credits roll.