Stories For Ghosts

Horror for the Discerning Fan

Author: SARussell (page 1 of 20)

Round Out 2018 With These December Horror Movies

Gosh, can you believe it’s December, and we’ve got nearly a year’s worth of horror movies behind us? From A Quiet Place to Hereditary to Halloween, we’ve seen horror movies make waves. We’ve also heard from quite a few quieter horror movies, like Unsane, Mandy, and Annihilation. All in all, it’s been a compelling year for horror with a lot of very creative and innovative films, but also a good amount of the same kind of mediocrity we’ve seen before.

And December 2018 is no exception. This month serves up a short but punchy list of horror movies. The recent trend of Christmas horror anthologies (love) continues with All the Creatures Was Stirring. We’re subjected to an ill-timed holiday horror film in Leprechaun Returns. Lars von Trier does his sexual and violent is-he-a-misogynist-and-if-he-is-does-does-he-at-least-feel-bad-about-it act with The House that Jack Built. And Netflix, as dependable as ever, gives us an early Christmas gift in the form of the film adaptation of Josh Malerman’s frightening, taut horror-thriller Bird Box.

Not a bad month all around, considering.

Enjoy!

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Suspiria Review: A Mesmerizing Reflection on Abuses of Power

*Warning: Some Spoilers for Suspiria*

When I walked out of the theater after watching Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t know if I liked the movie or if I hated it. Oh sure, there was plenty of horrific elements and beautiful dance scenes and provocative imagery, but did I enjoy it? Was it a good movie?

And then I realized that I felt the same way after watching Dario Argento’s original Suspiria. I had to laugh. Even though the remake of Suspiria is a wholly independent film that stands on its own, it reminded me of the original in more than one way. Beyond the purposefully muted visual palate, the expanded plot, and the exploration of themes, Guadagnino’s Suspiria creates a similarly enigmatic and overwhelming horror film that compliments Argento’s work.

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Expand Your Horror Tastes with These 10 Horror Comics

One of my favorite things about the horror genre is how versatile it is. From films, television shows, books, and art, horror can triumph with the right story and the right talent. And this is particularly true for the horror comic.

It’s a very different experience for horror fans—horror comics have the cinematic qualities of movies with the immersive elements of books. The most effective horror comics take the best aspects of comic book storytelling with stunning artwork, creating unique and deeply disturbing aesthetics that suck in readers and stick with them for days afterward.

With the success of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, I’ve decided that more people need to know about the horror comic, which reboots the bubbly Sabrina The Teenage Witch series with a decidedly darker angle. And while we’re at it, let’s discuss a small portion of the staggeringly good horror comics the medium has to offer.

Enjoy!

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Teen Drama & Resisting the Patriarchy

*Mild spoilers for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina*

To the delight of many horror fans (myself included) witches are enjoying a moment in the sun right now. This year has seen films like Hereditary and Suspiria make waves with their frightening portrayals of one of civilizations oldest horror archetypes. And now, Netflix has thrown its hat into the ring with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the horror comic of the same name, itself a dark reimagining of a beloved Archie icon.

Similar to the light and wacky ’90s show Sabrina the Teenage Witch, this new Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) is a half-witch, half-human teenage girl, living with her magical aunts Zelda and Hilda. As if navigating the pitfalls of high school and teenager problems weren’t enough, Sabrina must also contend with the added responsibilities of her blossoming magical abilities.

That’s where the similarities end, because like the horror comic, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina casts Sabrina and the other witches as everything old-timey witch-hunts said witches were: full-on devil-worshipping cannibals who hold black masses in the woods and have a dangerous propensity to interfere with mortal affairs. In this new TV series, Sabrina must decide if she will embrace her human side and forsake her witch heritage, or if she will join her family by signing her name in the Devil’s book and give up the mortal world.

It’s a fun and macabre show, with lots of entertaining twists on old TGIF material. But more importantly, the fascinating thing about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is how sharply it examines the power dynamics of being a witch. Power and influence trickle down from Satan, to his high priests (all men), to influential coven members, until those at the very bottom tear at each other for scraps. This dynamic is intentionally juxtaposed against Sabrina’s yearning to harness her fledgling powers and use them as she sees fit. Continue reading

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November Horror: Suspiria, Overlord, and A Christmas-Themed Zombie Musical

It’s officially November, which means that we’ve got a whole new slate of horror movies to discuss while steadily munching on leftover candy.

The months after October were usually devoid of quality (or even interesting) horror movies because the holiday season is the domain of awards seasons hopefuls. But that’s changed in recent years as more and more studios realize there is a year-round audience for horror.

As such, there’s a not-terrible slate of horror movies to choose from this November. Based on trailers alone, highlights include Luca Guadagnino’s stylish remake of Dario Argento’s classic Suspiria, WWII occult-horror Overlord, and zombie-musical-comedy Anna and the Apocalypse. (I’ve been waiting for that last one since I first learned about it at FantasticFest 2017! I never knew how badly I wanted a Christmas-themed zombie musical until then.) But November also has a large number of stinkers, like The Amityville Murders (can they stop with this franchise already? Lord have mercy), The Farm, and The Possession of Hannah Grace.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments!

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Apostle: A Promising Religious Horror That Should’ve Been a Miniseries

Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that blows away audiences and critics alike. These films are nearly flawless, making perfect use of scares, genre conventions, plotting, character development, cinematography, and score to weave a bewitching triumph of filmmaking that both expands and transcends the genre.

Unfortunately, Netflixs’s Apostle is not one of these films. But damn, I had fun watching it!

Inspired by British religious horror classics The Wicker Man and The Devils, Apostle admirably bites off more than it can chew. Ambitious and thoughtful, it is a gory, thrilling film that needed more space to breathe to achieve horror greatness.

I get into a lot of spoilers here, so be warned. But that shouldn’t stop you from checking out Apostle.

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Halloween (2018) Review: Entertaining, Violent, and Thought-Provoking

***Warning! Spoilers for Halloween (2018)***

It’s a rare thing to see a horror movie sequel that expands upon and develops the source material in an exciting, worthwhile way. It’s even more unusual and unexpected for a film with as storied a following as John Carpenter’s Halloween. A groundbreaking film that spawned a stream of uninspired sequels, the original Halloween finally has a sequel worthy of its legacy in the latest Halloween film, from Blumhouse Productions.

This horror fan enjoyed the film immensely because it did much more than pay fan service to horror legend. Halloween (2018) dove deep into the genre in a way that slashers rarely do. Sure, it’s got the body count, jump scares, and genre conventions of a slasher (along with some clever role reversals and callbacks), but Halloween will be remembered as a meta-slasher.

halloween

40 years after the events of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Laurie Strode, the only survivor of that fateful night, is convinced that Michael Myers will come for her again. Between not treating her PTSD and struggling to live a functional life, Laurie has become a hardcore survivalist. But she’s lost a lot in the process. She has a strained relationship with her family—daughter Karen, son-in-law Ray, and granddaughter Allyson. She is a recovering alcoholic. She doesn’t seem happy at all. But at least she knows that when Michael Myers returns, she’ll be ready for him.

And sure enough, Michael Myers escapes from state custody the night before Halloween. He hasn’t forgotten about Laurie either, and he will stop at nothing before he finds her and kills her. After all, she’s literally the one that got away.

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Famous Actors Who Got Their Start in Horror Movies

Few things make me happier than finding one of my favorite actors starring in an old horror movie. The cheesier and more awful the movie, the better I enjoy the newbie actor’s performance. It’s comforting to know that these rich and famous actors, all at the top of their industry, started at the bottom like everybody else.

For a genre that doesn’t get much respect, horror consistently delivers new talent. Many of today’s A-Listers got their start in low-budget and shoddy horror films, while others were a little luckier with their early roles.

I figured, being as it’s Halloween time, I should pay homage to their early roles. First, it shows you just how much, um, range, some of these actors have (or not). Second, it’s fun to wonder how their careers would have been different had they not been Classroom Girl #1 in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

There’s also something so delightful about knowing that Tom Hanks, one of my favorite actors, started his acting career in a horror/thriller with terrible dialogue and ATROCIOUS acting, as evidenced by this clip.

If nothing else, I hope you enjoy this list for its Bad Movie Night potential. Seriously, I’ve never seen Leprechaun or Hellraiser: Hell World (what an amazing title!).

So, without further adieu, here is a list of 20 actors who saw their film debut in horror, followed by 20 actors who had early roles in some “iconic” horror films.

Enjoy!

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October 2018 Horror Movies: Netflix to the Rescue

I have to be honest…I’m disappointed in the slate of horror movies for October 2018.

Shouldn’t the movie release calendar for October be overflowing with horror movies? I’m not even asking for good horror movies. I’ll take them all–well-made, shoddily-made, solid casts, bad acting, inventive premises, uninspired ripoffs–I don’t care.

Where are all the horror movies?

I suppose I should be thankful for the movies we have. After all, the latest Halloween comes out this month, and I could not be more excited! Netflix’s Apostle and indie film The Dark also look like great contenders for worthwhile horror.

In fact, I’m just going to spend a lot of my time on Netflix this Halloween. Between Apostle and Netflix’s new series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and The Haunting of Hill House,  Netflix seems like a sure bet for horror.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t check out the rest of the horror offerings this month. Maybe just…temper your expectations.

Enjoy!

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Revisiting Night of the Living Dead, 50 Years Later

The horror genre is littered with controversial films, films that inspired censorship and protests and extreme backlash. While controversy is certainly good for box office takes, it’s not always good for the critical interpretation of a film. Horror fans, especially, know that controversy does not always merit the backlash our favorite genre films receive. A violent or unsettling or difficult movie doesn’t mean it’s bad—sometimes, it means that the film has done its job.

Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero’s 1968 black-and-white exploitation classic, is one such film. What modern audiences see as an undisputed but perhaps dated work of essential horror, contemporary audiences were shocked and appalled by Night of the Living Dead. It was violent! It was gory! It tested the very boundaries of decency!

Despite its critical success, the movie simply did not deserve to exist, according to some critics. As the Variety review put it, “Until the Supreme Court establishes clear-cut guidelines for the pornography of violence, Night of the Living Dead will serve nicely as an outer-limit definition by example.”

But it’s precisely because of those outer-limits that films like Night of the Living Dead are essential. They ask us to question art, to question the way we tell stories. They force us to consider uncomfortable implications of what we’re seeing onscreen. In short, they ask what deserves to be committed to film and why.

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