The shattering cacophony of broken glass pierces the eerie stillness of night and a blood red liquid sprays across the kitchen floor of the vacant old house. The centenarian building seems to breathe and shift as the crimson fluid babbles and surges over the cracked tile floor and a body sluggardly collapses alongside its trail.
No, this isn’t the opening scene to your new favorite horror flick — this is my Friday night as I boorishly dropped a glass of red wine and slumped down to clean up the shards and drink off my kitchen floor. The failed pour of wine was specifically selected to “pair” with a choice scary movie, the first in a marathon of five bone-chilling, handpicked motion pictures.
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I spoke with Ian Dinsmore, movie reviewer and founder of Drunk Sunshine, to get his mandatory list of spooky films to watch leading up to Halloween and paired the silver screen essentials with select wines and beers. Watch and drink at your own risk.
The Movie: 28 Days Later
According to Dinsmore, director Danny Boyle’s zombies are unlike the dense meandering corpses of his cinematic predecessors, they are quick, savage and unwavering. “Boyle has always brought a visual flare to the screen and his take on the zombie apocalypse is no different,” he explains. “Combine taut [acting] performances with the unsettling backdrop of an abandoned London and you have one of the most unique zombie films of the last 30 years.”
The Pairing: Owen Roe 2015 Sinister Hand, Yakima Valley
One thing a zombie can appreciate — other than brains — is a severed hand. Legend has it that two 17th century Irish families were in a dispute over land ownership and decided to settle the rivalry with a good, old-fashioned rowing competition to claim the property — first to touch the land would earn its rights. In order to earn said land, one of the contenders cut off his hand and chucked it ashore to win the real estate that still remains in that family today.
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In honor of their Irish ancestors, Owen Roe bottles this blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault from Washington’s lauded Yakima Valley for a darkly fruited, buoyantly floral and peppery wine that gets handsy with acid and texture in the finish.
The Movie: Evil Dead
Before director Sam Raimi achieved international fame for Spiderman, he made low-budget horror films and this pièce de résistance tops the list for Dinsmore. “He’ll most likely always be remembered for Evil Dead, the film that launched his and actor Bruce Campbell’s careers,” he reminisces. “The stunning combination of practical gore effects, gallows humor and intense satire makes this an all-time horror classic.”
The Pairing: AleSmith Evil Dead Red Ale
An easy match to make, this San Diego brewery serves up several sudsy iterations, including Halloween release Evil Dead Red, brewed in honor of Raimi’s horror cult classic. Obviously blood red in color, American hops give away to sweet pine and tangy citrus aromas while the toffee and brioche scents stab through from the caramel malts. Making it even easier on us, AleSmith recommends pairing this with a scary movie. But which one (see directly above)?!
The Movie: The Blair Witch Project
“I still have never had a more intense theater-going experience than when this was unleashed on audiences in 1999,” Dinsmore recalls. “I will still ride for the film’s original ‘found-footage’ style, roundabout plotting and naturalistic performances. Few films nowadays have the courage of their convictions but Blair Witch will always be returned to for just that reason.”
The Pairing: Boordy Vineyards 2012 Landmark Reserve, Maryland
One of the original Thirteen Colonies, Maryland receives nods as the origin of American religious freedom, which makes sense that the “local legend” of the Blair Witch would practice her deprived ideology in this Mid-Atlantic wilderness. Less evil, more delicious, the historic Boordy Vineyards blends estate-grown Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon for a succulent tipple of plum, black cherry, cassis, cocoa powder and sweet tobacco.
The Movie: The Fly
“David Cronenberg movies can be upsetting experiences, the man has mined the depths of the soul like few have in film,” Dinsmore says, his inner fan-girl showing. “His exploration of sexual desire, body horror and arm-wrestling known as The Fly may always be remembered his most accessible film, which should tell you something about the man.” He credits Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis for their talents in aiding to provide this Cronenberg masterpiece its “timeless nature.”
The Pairing: Sawtooth 2013 Classic Fly Grenache, Snake River Valley
Ok, it’s certainly a different fly in question here but Sawtooth Winery embraces the fly (fishing) of its Pacific Northwest location and slaps it on the label of this 100 percent Grenache. Orange peel, violets and fresh raspberry jam buzz to the forefront of the glass, while the jam spreads on the palate with a twinge of rhubarb and white pepper on the glassy finish. Delicate and bouncy, challenging to swat.
The Movie: The Shining
The movie reviewer admits he knows a thing or two about writer’s block and this exploration of history’s worst case tops the list. “Producer-director Stanely Kubrick’s steady hand eliminates any need for jump scares, instead using a looming sense of dread through some of the most iconic imagery in the history of cinema,” he notes. “Jack Nicholson’s performance may carry the film to its conclusion but it’s the inhabitants — real and otherwise — of The Stanley Hotel will be what we always remember.”
The Pairing: Estes Park Brewery Redrum Red Ale
The inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining” novel came from his visits to The Stanley Hotel, the century-old upscale resort located 10 miles outside the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Just over a mile down the road is this eponymously named town brewery, fermenters of this commemorative beer. The Redrum is a special bitter red ale, brewed with creamy malts and citrus-forward Cascade hops for a desired medium body and lower caliber of bitterness. A little bit work balanced with some play keep these brewers from being dull boys.