Just Can’t Get Enough

WICKED WEDNESDAY: 100 HORROR MOVIES IN 92 DAYS 2022, WRAP-UP #1

I told myself, “Never again.” Never again would I challenge myself to watch 100 movies in three months. That’s a lot of movies. Do I even like movies that much? What is a movie?

Well.

Here we are again. I am nothing but a weak, competitive soul.

But this year, I’m going full metal. We’re following all the rules, baby! This Letterboxd challenge, created by user Sarah Stubbs, asks horror fans to watch 100 new-to-them horror films in the three months leading up to Halloween. Sarah has a list of all the rules on her website. And unlike last year, I’m trying to abide by them all! This means no short films (at least 45 minutes) and must be tagged as “horror” in either IMDB or Letterboxd unless considering gateway horror. And yeah, that ruined all my giallo options!

Jokes aside. I do enjoy this. And it’s a great way of forcing myself to watch some films I’ve put off for ages.

At the point of writing, I’m about halfway there. But here is everything I watched in September. Check out my Letterboxd if you care to check out more, including seeing my ratings!

#1-37

1 Prey (2022) dir. by Dan Trachtenberg

2 You Won’t Be Alone (2022) dir. by Goran Stolevski

3 The Crazies (1973) dir. by George A. Romero

4 The Curse of Kazuo Umezu (1990) dir. by Naoko Omi

My first cheat, okay? It’s only 43 minutes. Cut me some slack.

5 Just Before Dawn (1981) dir. by Jeff Lieberman

A surprsingly good slasher with one hell of an ending!

6 America’s Most Haunted (2013) dir. by Chris Randall

7 V/H/S (2012) dir. by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence

8 Howl (2015) dir. by Paul Hyett

9 Zombie Flesh Eaters/Zombi 2 (1979) dir. by Lucio Fulci

10 Scared to Death (1946) dir. by Christy Cabanne

11 Damien: Omen II (1978) dir. by Don Taylor

12 Creepshow 2 (1987) dir. by Michael Gornick

13 Color Me Blood Red (1965) dir. by Herschell Gordon Lewis

14 Big Top Scooby-Doo! (2012) dir. by Ben Jones

15 A Creepshow Animated Special (2020) dir. by Gregory Nicotero

16 Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) dir. by Dominique Othenin-Girard

17 Sting of Death (1966) dir. by William Grefe

18 Noroi: The Curse (2005) dir. by Koji Shiraishi

19 The Night Walker (1963) dir. by William Castle

20 Xtro (1982) dir. by Harry Bromley Davenport

21 Blood Feast (1963) dir. by Herschell Gordon Lewis

22 Dream No Evil (1970) dir. by John Hayes

23 Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster (2021) dir. by Thomas Hamilton

24 So Vam (2021) dir. by Alice Maio Mackay

25 Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) dir. by Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

26 Viy (Вий) (1967) dir. by Georgiy Kropachyov, Konstantin Ershov

27 The Seventh Curse (1986) dir. by Lam Ngai Kai

28 Savage Intruder/Hollywood Horror House (1970) dir. by Donald Wolfe

29 The Curse of Halloween Jack (2019) dir. by Andrew Jones

30 The Gorgon (1964) dir. by Terence Fisher

31 Cult of VHS (2022) dir. by Rob Preciado

32 Torn Hearts (2022) dir. by Brea Grant

33 V/H/S 2 (2013) dir. by Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Timo Tjahjanto, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard

If anything, just watch Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans’s segment “Safe Haven”. A brilliant bit of found footage terror!

34 Beyond the Door (Chi sei?) (1974) dir. by Ovidio G. Assonitis, Robert Barrett

35 Barbarian (2022) dir. by Zach Cregger

Going to call it now: this is going to be my favourite horror film of the year. Utterly bananas and terrifying. I LOVE THIS MOVIE. I would give anything to watch it for the first time again.

36 Tremors (1990) dir. by Ron Underwood

37 V/H/S: Viral (2014) dir. by Nacho Vigalondo, Marcel Sarmiento, Gregg Bishop, Justin Benson, Aaron Scott Moorhead

Top five Wisconsin-based horror movies

I’ve been back in Wisconsin for an extended holiday this month. This is truly one of the best times to be in the state. Beautiful weather, lots of time at the lake, and lots of food and beer (though that last one isn’t seasonal).

To celebrate my time in the Dairyland, I’ve collated a list of my top five favourite horror movies set and filmed in Wisconsin. You can read my initial reviews of them from back in the day during my Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday project. Honestly, Wisconsin has a lot to offer for regional horror (usually a lot about farms and lakes), that they’re definitely worth checking out.

And going through my old lists, posts and other Letterboxd material – I’ve realised that I’ve got a lot of watching and catching up to do! Viva Wisconsin!

5. Blood Harvest (1987) dir. by Bill Rebane

I recently revisited this Rebane “classic” on the 88 Film release. And look, I’m not going to argue that this is a good movie. It’s got a lot of oddities about it. But it also has a great performance from Tiny Tim as a Vietnam War veteran who dresses up as a clown. He comes across as very unsettling, but also someone you pity. It might not be a cornerstone of the genre, but it’s a good example of regional horror.

4. Blood Hook (1986) dir. by Jim Mallon

Filmed in Hayward near the Fishing Hall of Fame muskie, this slasher is pretty darn Midwestern. I mean, the premise is a group of kids at a fishing festival get murdered. It’s whacky for sure and directed by the producer of MST3K to add a bit of prestige to it. There’s apparently an extended version available from Vinegar Syndrome and Troma. It’s what the world needs most.

3. Trapped Alive (1988) dir. by Leszek Burzynski

A fun, Christmas-time cannibal film! A group of kids and escaped convicts get lost in an abandoned mine during a snow storm. Unfortunately for them, the mine contains a cannibal and his boobytraps. Utterly weird. Completely Wisconsin.

2. Lake Michigan Monster (2018) dir. by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews

A truly trippy sea monster movie that’s zany enough to make my beloved Milwaukee proud. A sea captain goes to great lengths to capture and kill a sea monster that supposedly dwells in the depths of Lake Michicagn. It does lose pace at the end, but it’s so worth the watch if you’re a fan of b-monster movies like the type from Roger Corman.

1. Dead Weight (2012) dir. by Adam Bartlett and John Pata

A somber zombie movie that has more going for it than many. A man struggles through the zombie apocalypse to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend. It’s a look at obsession and the struggle some people have to just let things die.

Top five new-to-me movies of 2022 (so far)

How is it already nearly the end of July? This year has been an utter blur. Perhaps a fun sign of getting older?

I’ve watched so many good films this year. A big plus to going to the cinema more often. (Shout out to the Prince Charles Cinema for being my second home.) I’ve made an effort to watch more international films, and have been greatly rewarded for doing so.

So for the first six months of this year. Here are the five new-to-me movies that I’ve enjoyed the most.

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) dir. by Daniels

When I saw this at the cinema, the woman behind me was sobbing like a baby. Not much more needs to be said.

Okay. Actually, I have a lot more to say about this movie, which is largely about the immigrant experience. It’s hilarious, truly moving and utterly unforgettable. Michelle Yeoh is a treasure. As is Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan (IN THAT STUIT!!!!), Jamie Lee Curtis and James Hong… The cast is brilliant.

Black Dynamite (2009) dir. by Scott Sanders

“Your knowledge of scientific biological transmogrification is only outmatched by your zest for kung-fu treachery!”

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began watching Black Dynamite, a parody of the Blaxploitation movies of the 70s. But it’s so funny and very clever. A true love letter to the genre.

If you’re fond of the films of that era, it’s a must-watch. Even if you’re not, the comedy is excellent. It’s a fun ride that keeps the pace moving at all times.

Mother (2009) dir. by Bong Joon-Ho

First off, shout out to my coworker who took the time to give me an excellent list of Eastern Asian movies to watch. It’s been an endless source of great

When I saw Mother in cinemas, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But I left stunned and in tears.

It’s best to go blind into this one to avoid any expectations. But the story examines the lengths people (mothers) will go to protect their children, sometimes to the detriment of others.

The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch (1968) dir. by Noriaki Yuasa

If there’s one thing I’m excited to explore more of, it’s classic Japanese horror. The monsters are unlike anything I’ve seen in Western cinema.

I have, of course, seen many of Yuasa’s Gamera movies, but this fantasy horror outing is special. The Snake Girl follows a young girl who is reunited with her family after spending time in an orphanage. Though her family is not quite everything she hopes they would be.

This movie reminded me vaguely of the excellent A Tale of Two Sisters, which is also a story about family betrayal and secrets. But this one has witches and crazy ladies with snake necks!

Switchblade Sisters (1975) dir. by Jack Hill

I’ve seen some of Jack Hill’s movies before, but was so surprised by how engaging Switchblade Sisters was.

Based loosely on Othello, this exploitation gang movie follows a group of school girls who fight for power and leadership of the Jezebels. There’s betrayal, excellent outfits and plenty of violence.

My top 10 horror films of 2021

We made it through another year, everyone. I’m hoping that 2021 was more bearable than 2020 was.

If anything, we had some amazing horror movies out this year. Such a wide variety of voices and stories. In the UK, we didn’t have as many movies streaming at the same time they were in cinemas, so I missed a few key ones thanks to Covid (thinking about Candyman).

Actually, while compiling this list, I realised I missed out on a lot. No changing that now with only a few days to go! Nevertheless, we’re making a list here. Who cares if I still haven’t seen Censorship? But of the horror movies I saw this year, these are my top ten 2021 releases.

I’ve gone by UK theatrical and streaming release dates. So if you see something on here that was on everyone else’s 2020, blame the stupid pandemic we’re living through.

10 There’s Someone Inside Your House dir. by Patrick Brice

I was shocked by how much I liked this movie. Predictable? Very. But it’s a solid slasher that comes from an original source material. A girl and her friends are being stalked online where their biggest secrets are being exposed.

I know this received pretty lukewarm reviews, but I watched this on one of my flights back from the US and I thank it for making two hours pass by painlessly.

9 The Found Footage Phenomenon dir. by Phillip Escott and Sarah Appleton

A nice documentary about one of horror’s most polarising subgenres: found footage. I would love for this to be done as mini series to allow more in-depth discussion about the genre and it’s development. But great work for a panini doc.

8 Till Death dir. by SK Dale

One of the biggest (but pleasant) surprises of 2021 was how much I enjoyed this Megan Fox thriller.

Fox was great as the wife of a powerful man, stuck in an unhappy marriage. When she’s taken to their remote cabin for their anniversary, she thinks things might be on the mend. But it soon becomes apparent that her husband has something much more sinister in mind.

There are great moments that held me in suspense throughout. Again, Fox was really great, especially as she had to carry much of the movie on her own.

7 Werewolves Within dir. by Josh Ruben

It will be clear from the next few movies on this list that I really favoured horror comedies this year.

Sam Richardson plays Finn, a forest ranger who goes to a small town to keep the peace over a proposed gas pipeline. But there’s more than just politics at play here. Soon the residents realise they must band together to fight a werewolf. Only, working together isn’t exactly their strong suit.

The ensemble cast is really good here, and bring the film to life really well. I loved the snowy locked room mystery, even though I guessed who the werewolf was almost straight away.

Werewolves Within was my first Ruben film, but I’ve since watched Scare Me which was one of my favourite new-to-me movies of the year.

6 Freaky dir. by Christopher Landon

Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton switch bodies and play each other’s characters to perfection. Vaughn gives a great performance here that made me laugh until my side hurt. The script is hilarious, and it’s a film I find myself enjoying more with each watch.

5 Fear Street: 1666 dir. by Leigh Janiak

This summer, Netflix gave us three Fear Street movies back-to-back. They created an entertaining world of monsters and curses.

Each of the instalments had something about them that I liked, but part three really pulled everything together. It’s part three, so I won’t go into plot because of spoilers. But it’s proof that horror was alive and well in the mainstream in 2021. Truly, thank you Netflix for this gamble.

4 Psycho Goreman dir. by Steven Kostanski

Psycho Goreman is absolutely bananas. A little girl and her brother find an extraterrestrial overlord and force him to be their friend with a magic stone. It’s hilarious, disgusting and absolutely unique.

3 The Amusement Park dir. by George A. Romero

Is it cheating to include a movie made in 1975? Maybe. But I call the shots here.

The Amusement Park is a 50-minute movie that Romero made for the Lutheran Service Society in Pittsburg about elder abuse. The Lutherans didn’t like the film’s bleakness and shelved it. The film was believed lost until rediscovered in 2017.

It certainly is bleak. An elderly man spends time at an amusement park meant only for the young. He suffers embarrassment and cons throughout a day of abuse. I found this story very hard to watch at points. But it’s poignant and makes it’s points well.

I miss Romero and his work very much. It was a blessing to be able to see new footage of his this year.

2 Malignant dir. by James Wan

Certainly one of the more polarising horror movies of the year. I adored this bat shit crazy story. It’s really a movie you should go into completely blind. Watch the trailer if you wish, but it gives literally nothing away to what unfolds in the third act. It’s in that last act that things go from a three to 100. It’s a rollercoaster that you’ll never want to get off.

Malignant is bold and ballsy. I can’t help but adore that in a movie.

1 Veneciafrenia dir. by Álex de la Iglesia

A group of Spanish friends go to Venice for a holiday of debauchery during Carnevale. They’re incredibly irritating, typical tourists. But when their group starts to dwindle in numbers, they realise someone is targeting tourists in the city.

There are two movies I’ve seen this year that I think about every day since I’ve seen them. This is one of them. It’s one of the most stunning horror movies I’ve ever seen. The sets and costuming are jaw-dropping. The plot is fun and twisty – clearly very inspired by gialli. I cannot wait to be able to watch this one again. If it’s ever released theatrically, do yourself a favour and see it on the big screen.

Favourites of 2020 (because, yes, some good things did happen this year)

Well. Here we are – at the precipice of a new year. I’d rather not reflect too much on 2020. Pretty sure we all had about the same amount of fun. So let’s just celebrate the good things that did happen. Most of the good things in my year were either on my television screen or on the pages of a book. Enough reading and watching that I could actually compile a list!

Hopefully, 2021 will be filled with more good movies with friends? Maybe family? Maybe even on a plane?! 

I hope your year was safe and healthy. You know, if nothing else – I hope it at least had good movies.

Favourite 2020 horror movies:

I didn’t manage to watch too many 2020 releases this year. They were either too pricey to rent (Possessor), not-yet-available in the UK due to COVID restrictions (Freaky) or I just haven’t gotten to it yet (His House). But what I did manage to get to, I loved. All so unique and diverse. What a year for the genre.

Host (dir. by Rob Savage, written by Savage, Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd)
The Invisible Man (dir. and written by Leigh Whannell)
La Llorona (dir. by Jayro Bustamante, written by Bustamante and Lisandro Sanchez)
The Stylist (dir. by Jill Gevargizian, written by Gevargizian, Eric Havens and Eric Stolze)
Blood Quantum (dir. and written by Jeff Barnaby)

Favourite horror fiction and nonfiction read in 2020:

Novels, nonfiction, short stories – I really read some great horror stories in a variety of styles. Narrowing the list down to five was really tough. Most of these I listened to on audiobook, and I’d also highly recommend that format.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Anoka: A Collection of Indigenous Horror by Shane Hawk
Darkly: Blackness and America’s Gothic Soul by Leila Taylor
When Darkness Loves Us by Elizabeth Engstrom
Walk Down the Darkness by John Boden

Favourite new-to-me movies of 2020:

Another list that I found really difficult to narrow down. Where the hell would we be without movies this year? The most shocking thing I realised looking back on this year was that I barely watched any international films, including Italian horror, which is very unusual. I fully plan on using my Letterboxd better this year to make sure I watch more diversely. That being said. Just look at the beauties on this list.

Season of the Witch (1973) (dir. and written by George A. Romero)
Grey Gardens
(1975) (dir. by Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer)
April Fool’s Day
(1986) (dir. by Fred Walton, written by Danilo Bach)
The Muppet Movie
(1979) (dir. by James Frawley, written by Jerry Juhl and Jack Burns)
The Exorcist III
(1990) (dir. and written by William Peter Blatty)

Favourite documentaries and TV series of 2020:

I didn’t really watch any new television shows that I loved this year (though I am binging Broad City, and I’m in love). But boy did I watch a great number of quality documentaries and docuseries. All of these happen to be on Netflix.

Unsolved Mysteries episode 1 “Mystery on the Rooftop” (dir. by Marcus A. Clarke)
American Murder: The Family Next Door (dir. by Jenny Popplewell)
The Ripper (dir. by Jesse Vile and Ellena Wood)
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (dir. by Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht)
ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas (dir. by Sam Dunn)

Top 5 recent horror reads

I have always loved thrillers, mystery and horror books. But lately, it seems that I can’t devour the stories fast enough. My Audible library is teeming audiobooks from Valancourt Books and my pre-order list for this summer’s releases is maaaybe just a little too long.

But what else do I have to do with my time but consume stories? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

And there’s certainly been a lot of crud that I’ve read. That’s for sure. But instead of talking about everything I’ve recently read, here are the shining lights from the last six months.

Top 5 Horror/Thrillers from the first six months of 2020 in no particular order because I hate ranking things:

1. I’ve gone on about this book already, so I’ll keep it short. But When Darkness Loves Us by Elizabeth Engstrom is a dark and twisted pair of novellas from Valancourt Books’ Paperbacks From Hell series. 

It’s been said in many reviews, but it’s a sin that Engstrom’s name is not mentioned more in the list of great horror writers. “When Darkness Loves Us” is a visceral and stomach-churning tale of revenge. And “Beauty Is” is the magical realism horror that tackles misogyny that we all need. 

2. So I wrote an entire short story about my love for Christopher Pike’s The Midnight Club. Magically it was deleted, and I will hate WordPress forever for it. But this is another one I’ll keep to the point.

This was my first foray into Pike’s work. I love me some early teen horror. So I really was expecting a ghoulish tale of ghosts and children up to no good (probably me just associating the title with the Midnight Society). 

Instead I was slapped in the face with a poignant story about reincarnation and accepting death. This probably shouldn’t be classified as a horror novel. There are no ghosts. There are no mysterious figures arriving to deliver punishment. Just a group of four young adults in a hospice coming to terms about the end of their lives.

I felt out ugly sobbed at the end of this book. It really just hit me in all the right places. It’s been announced that Mike Flannagan is going to be directing an adaption for Netflix. Given how he handled the themes of death in The Haunting of Hill House, I couldn’t pick a better man for the job. 

3. I struggle with anthology novels. The stories are often forgettable, surrounded by one of two memorable pieces. I’ve read a small handful this year so far, and not many of them were impressive. The one that stood head-and-shoulders above the rest was Stephen Graham Jones’ After the People Lights Have Gone Off.

First of all: THAT TITLE! 

But more importantly, Jones has a wonderful style that’s vividly descriptive. I read it via audiobook, but I bet reading it physically is something entirely more visceral (remind me to buy my physical copy). Because I don’t have the book and I read the physical book a month ago. I can’t name my favourite stories. And that, kids, is quality content! 

4. There’s something slightly shameful about admitting how much I loved revisiting Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. It’s been very difficult getting to the reason why

Is it because it’s salacious? Are stories by women more inherently less worth-while if they tackle themes of sex, guilt and desire? God knows. But if loving Flowers in the Attic is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

If you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, Flowers in the Attic follows the tragic story of the four Dollanganger siblings. Following the death of their father, their mother moves them into her parents home. Only the children are soon locked up in a room to be kept as a secret. They’re promised their release will be in a matter of days. But the nightmare emerges when the children’s stay turns from days into months and into years. 

It’s wild in the best sense of the word. But it’s more than just a story about incest. It’s about Cathy and the horrible women in her life. Gillian Flynn’s piece on the book sums it up better than I ever could. If you like her stories, you’ll certainly love the Dollangangers and their secrets. 

5. And finally. The pièce de résistance. The book I haven’t shut up about in months: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Vampire Slaying.

It’s always intimidating starting a book you’ve been looking forward to for so long. Even if the author has impressed you time and time again, there’s always a chance that the next book will be the disappointment. 

So when my copy of Grady Hendrix’s latest novel arrived (over a month late, mind), I almost didn’t want to pick it up. But holy shit am I glad I did. Hendrix has a way of taking the most camp-sounding plots and turning them into something so worthwhile and meaningful. 

Patricia is a good housewife in her town in South Carolina. She tries her best to be the good wife and mother to her family. But she’s also a member of a true-crime-loving book club. When a new neighbour moves in, Patricia is suspicious of the man. And while she’s adamant that something more is going on, the rest of her town, including her book club, turn on her. 

Sure. This is a book about a vampire and the group of housewives wanting to take him down. But it’s also about the silencing of women (particularly black women) within a community, class and the complexities of motherhood. 

Though don’t worry. There’s still plenty of gore and horrible scenes of disgusting rats!

I haven’t reread a book in years. But I think Hendrix’s last three novels have “reread” written all over them.

Lockdown highlights (so far)

It feels unreal to finally be reaching the end of the strict stay-at-home orders. Sure, we have a long way to go. Living in London means my life won’t be running as usual for a long time. But we can see glimpses of “normalcy” seem to be breaking through.

Exhibit A: My friend brought me flour over this morning. FLOUR! The first bag I’ve been in three months.

I’ve been at home for 10 weeks. I wish I could look back on these past few months and take pride in the things I accomplished. But like most of us, I haven’t done anything. Instead I lay around listening to audiobooks and watching videos with titles like “5 most shocking murders with household appliances!”

That’s not to say that there haven’t been good things. So as we begin to step back out into this world, I’d like to doff my cap to the things that got me through Rona Times (so far).

Do share what’s been entertaining you and make you happy!

Movies

I’ve had a shocking time with movies lately. Almost all of them have been forgettable.

In the early days of March, my husband and I paid to watch The Hunt, which was definitely a mess, but a fun mess. More than anything it was interesting to partake in this new VOD-style release of brand new films. Going to the cinema in London is incredibly pricey, so this was a great middle ground. It was a way of paying to see a movie I wouldn’t have otherwise paid to see in cinemas. So I get to be relevant and cheap!

One of my better viewing choices was Candyman. I haven’t seen it in aeons, and thought it would be worth revisiting in preparation for the new film. Well, that release for Nia DaCosta’s sequel has been pushed back to September, but hey – plenty of time to watch the rest of the series.

For something more mind-opening, I can’t recommend Netflix’s Crip Camp more highly. This documentary chronicles the lives of key players in the disabilities rights movement in the US. It begins with their summer together at Camp Jened, a space that allowed them to be inspired by others like themselves. It’s an eye-opening piece of work that is so moving and impactful. You’ve already watched Tiger King twice, so just watch this next.

Hands-down the best movie I’ve seen call lockdown has been The Muppet Movie. There isn’t even a close second. Give me puppets, puns and Paul Williams and I need nothing else. It’s wholesome, but not in any sort of sickening way. A bright spot in what was certainly a dark time.

“Turn left at the fork in the road.”

Books 

One of the saving graces of the lockdown has been discovering Valancourt Books. This indie publisher specialises in rare and out-of-print fiction. They publish a wide variety of genres, but I’m here for one thing: horror.

From icons like J.B. Priestly and Robert Marasco to the hidden gems in the Paperbacks from Hell series, there’s a lot to discover from their selection.

My audiobook library is currently heavy with their titles. So far, the highlight has been Elizabeth Engstrom’s When Darkness Loves Us. This book is made up of two quiet, haunting novellas. The audiobook narrator, Karly Hutchins, does an incredible job bringing the stories to life.

My copy of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires FINALLY arrived this morning. Over a month after I was supposed to meet Grady Hendrix in person for a signing. Just the delivery of the book itself has been a highlight.

Let me tell you, the publishing industry has been absolutely ravaged by the coronavirus. So please support local bookshops and authors as much as possible.

Music

I rarely write about music anymore. Frankly, I find it dull work. And even more honestly, my music tastes haven’t exactly extended beyond the familiar in the last few years.

Early in the days of lockdown, I decided to start a playlist of the songs that I’d been listening to the most. Some are songs that I’ve only just discovered by accident through shows (and TickTock videos stolen and uploaded onto Twitter). The tracks don’t necessarily sounds good together, but it is what it is. A reflection of the chaos that is Rona Times.

So I guess if you like Ghanaian disco and early Meixcan rock ‘n’ roll…this playlist is for you?

Quick-fire “Misc” round

The Meyer Dancers‘ for their 60s go-go dancing videos that make at-home workouts fun again.

Enchanted Living Magazine for filling my dull life with stories and images of fantasy, magic and beauty.

RuPaul’s Drag Race and Schitt’s Creek for making me laugh and cry and being the only TV shows I can stomach.

Top5s and Rachel Maksy for being my go-to YouTube channels despite having nothing in common.

Filmageddon for hosting the best-damn film quiz, making me feel like I’m at the Prince Charles Cinema again and for filling my Wednesday nights with cheer.

A beginner’s viewing guide for Women in Horror Month

It’s (finally) February, which means Women in Horror Month is here again! This month-long initiative works encourages people to learn and shout about women working in horror industries. Check of their official website to learn more about the various celebrations happening this month and their own database.

Women are an integral part of the history of horror. We’re writing the classics, taking centre stage in the films, filling spots in special FX classrooms. And what women also do is direct one hell of a movie.

I love the horror community. As far as genre fans go, we’re the best (I’m not biased – just 100% spewing facts). But we always need to work on being more inclusive – especially for fans just getting into the genre. Whether you’re old or young: everyone has got to start somewhere, right?

So here is my list of must-watch films for anyone wanting to dip their toes into the genre, and want to start at a place in command of a woman.

This is by no means a comprehensive list! Keep in mind I still have a lot to learn and watch! I’m greatly biased towards older films, and most (if not all) of the films on this list are created by white, English-speaking women in the West. My goal is to watch more diversely moving forward – so send me all the recommendations!

1. Slumber Party Massacre trilogy (1982, 1987, 1990): written by Rita Mae Brown (1), Deborah Brock (2), Sally Mattison (3) and directed by Amy Holden Jones (1), Deborah Brock (2), Catherine Cyran (3)

This slasher trilogy is (to the best of my knowledge) the only horror series to be entirely directed and written by women. While the title might fill some people’s imaginations with -ehm- fantasties, this series is actually much smarter than that.

While the first one comes off as a straight-forward slasher on the surface, it’s filled with plenty of symbolism. That’s only heightened in the second one – making it the smartest of the three entries.

Fans of the series are constantly bickering about which of the three is best. It’s ridiculous because part two is clearly the superior. This is the hill I’m willing to die on!

2. The Wind (2018): written by Teresa Sutherland and directed by Emma Tammi

One of the most frequently-visited themes in horror is motherhood. The Wind shows what happens when that journey is taken from someone who desperately desires it. It’s a story of betrayal, paranoia and loss. All set with the backdrop of some gorgeous, lonely American frontier.

This is a stunning, tragically over-looked period piece. If you like The Witch, you’ll like this because this is MUCH better.

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992): written by Joss Whedon, directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui

You know the story: she’s the chosen one – born to kill vampires. Only this early incarnation of Buffy Summers looks a little bit different. It’s brighter, more colourful and contains a whole lot of Luke Perry. So, yes, this is definitely the least “horror” of the films on this list. But there are vampires – so it counts, dammit!

It’s very well known to any fan of the Buffy TV show that the script was basically wrestled from Whedon’s hands and mangled. That being said, I quite adore the early 90s valley girl vibe. Kristy Swanson’s Buffy is very likeable and silly, but determined and smart.

“Buffy, you’re not like other girls.”
“Yes I am.”

This is one of my absolute favourite movies of all time. And while I adore the TV show, I still prefer the movie. Does that make me the only member of this club? Probably. But add this to the growing list of hills I’m going to die on.

4. The Babadook (2014): written and directed by Jennifer Kent

Another entry about motherhood and grief – only this time we face a picture book villain who is wrecking havoc on a mother’s mind.

Australian director Jennifer Kent has created a masterpiece of modern horror. One that has joined the ranks of classics we will remember for decades to come. Kent deftly handles of themes of loss while building a great sense of terror while telling the story of a widow and her young son.

The Babadook himself is now a cultural icon. One who has left out little realm of horror and entered into the mainstream. You might not have seen his movie, but you’ll certainly be familiar with his white face and top hat.

5. American Psycho (2000): written by Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner (adapted from the novel by Bret Easton Ellis), directed by Mary Harron

The pièce de résistance. The big kahuna. The movie that consistently shocks people (for some reason) when they learn it was directed by a woman.

American Psycho is about greedy, narcissistic men. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a banker, obsessed with himself, money, women and the desire to kill. As his thirst for success grows, he goes to further lengths to achieve his desires.

It’s absolutely classic for a reason. Every bit of this film is weird, wonderful and absolutely twisted.

UPDATE FEB 8: I forgot to mention Mirror, Mirror – it is excellent. Watch it now!!

Horror I’m most looking forward to in 2020

I had every intention of watching a film and writing for Wicked Wednesday today. But I woke up with a bigger hangover than expected.

So 2020 is off to a very unique and special start. Eh. So here’s a rather-lazy list of things I’m looking forward to in 2020!

1. The franchises

Halloween 2018 was pretty perfect for me. I know it certainly wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but it easily slid in at my #3 in the Halloween series. It’s perfectly fine as a stand-alone. But when I learnt there was to be two more sequels, I wasn’t going to complain. Give me more Jamie Lee Curtis as badass, grizzled Laurie Strode any day!

I absolutely love The Conjuring and its sequel. Both are great little pieces from James Wan. I have to be honest, the rest of the Conjuring Universe doesn’t really interest me. So I was really happy to see that a third instalment featuring Ed and Lorraine Warren was to be released in 2020. This time, director Michael Chaves tackling the true story of “the Devil made me do it” case. I only know a bit about the true story – but it’s certainly a promising bit of history to turn into a film.

2. Grady Hendrix brings us a world of vampires and old ladies

Over the last few years, Grady Hendrix has become a firm favourite of mine. His novels My Best Friend’s Exorcism and We Sold Our Souls are definitely a couple of my top horror novels. He does a great job of blending horror with campy fun in a way like no one else in print. Also, his nonfiction Paperbacks from Hell is a great read too!

His next novel, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, sounds like it’s another wild ride. The book’s summary declares the story is Fried Green Tomatoes meets Dracula and that’s all I think anyone needs.

Also, do yourself a favour and follow Hendrix on Twitter. You won’t regret it.

3. Mike Flanagan returns to Netflix to haunt us

I was so pleased with the success of The Haunting of Hill House. While I was initially disappointed that it didn’t directly adapt Shirley Jackson’s work, I was so impressed with the show.

Season two doesn’t see us back with the Crain family, but in a world inspired by Henry James’s Turn of the Screw in The Haunting of Bly Manor. I suspect the adaption will be as loose as season one’s, but I’ll definitely be reading James’s work in preparation for what’s sure to be another excellent piece from Flanagan – who is time and time again proving himself a modern-day master.

4. Take a trip to Fear Street

R.L. Stine is a master of children’s horror with his Goosebumps series. But those a touch older will remember him for his Fear Street series, his stories featured teenagers in the town of Shadyside.

There’s to be three instalments based on these books, apparently all to be released in 2020. There aren’t a lot of details about which books will be the inspiration for the films, but it will be set in 1994. Hopefully the movies include some twisted cheerleaders and a bit of creepy phone calls – all the joys of being a teen.

5. The stand-alones

There are countless horror movies coming out in 2020. I imagine many of them will continue the success we saw in the past few years. Original, interesting stories with great acting.

To say exactly what I’m looking forward to most would be difficult, as many films later in the fear will not have trailers or full synopses yet. Also, I’m struggling to find out info about more small independents (that will come with FrightFest season, I hope!). But I’ll just throw in this mini-list:

6. Welcome to Lovecraft

It’s no secret that Locke & Key is my favourite graphic novel series. Netflix’s adaption cannot arrive soon enough. The cast looks pretty damn spot-on (especially when compared to the previous attempts), and all early teasers and stills looks magnificent. I really hope that this adaption will do the story justice. But I have very few worries. The show was developed by Joe Hill and Carlton Cuse (Lost) which is as solid of a team that you could hope for.

Locke & Key follows the Locke siblings after the brutal murder of their father. They, along with their mother, return to their father’s ancestral home where they begin to uncover secrets about both the house and their father’s past. It’s a wonderful blend of family drama, magic and horror. February 7th can’t come soon enough.


What are you looking forward to most this year? I personally can’t wait to see the end of the horror that is the current presidency. But that’s perhaps a chat for a different day.

Things I missed out on in 2019 (and really shouldn’t’ve)

I am queen of putting things off. Especially when it comes to watching or reading things I know I will like. No particular reason why, other than I’m already overwhelmed with nice things.

It always seems to be that whenever we reach December, I can’t seem to remember anything about the previous year. Did I read anything? Maybe. Did I watch tv? Probably.

But it’s much easy to figure out what I’ve missed versus remembering what I actually did. Character flaw? Probably.

 There was a lot that I missed out on in 2019. Something that I really want to rectify in 2020. One of my resolutions for next year is keeping up with everything that is happening.

One of the themes I noticed when writing up this list was that most of these shows/films are acclaimed reboots. Nancy Drew, Shudder’s Creepshow (I watched the first episode!), Are You Afraid of the Dark? all were pretty well-received.

Both Nancy Drew and Are You Afraid of the Dark are yet to be released internationally. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become a lot more resistant to streaming illegally. But because of it – I feel very cut off from my fellow American fans. We can also throw Into the Dark on that pile.

If I’m wrong on that – please let me know where I can find these in the UK!

As far as films go, I’ve seemingly missed all the heavy hitters. One that I’m most desperate to get to is Tigers Are Not Afraid. This Mexican film has been on so many best of lists this year. It looks fantastic and it’s on Shudder!

Other 2019 films I’d like to are Satanic Panic, One Cut of the Dead, Doctor Sleep, and A Good Woman is Hard to Find.

And for a dash more nostalgia, I’d really like to see Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It’s significantly less well-received than anything else I’ve listed, but going into it with a low expectation will help me, right?

There are a lot more films on that to-watch list. But we all know that I’m garbage at watching newer films.

But I’m also garbage at watching old films, too. My pile of unwatched Blu-Rays is slowly getting bigger and bigger. When I stacked them up, I was a touch embarrassed…

Basically, I don’t seem to have much time in my life! That or I’ve been spending it on the wrong stuff.

Am proud to say that I watched Perfume of the Lady in Black last night and it was fantastic. See? Always putting off things I know I’ll like.

And just like that, we enter a new era. I feel really positive about the future for horror. It was one hell of a decade for us! May writers, actors, musicians, and directors continue to make incredible art.