Stories For Ghosts

Literary Horror for Everyone

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All the Freshest Horror Films at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival starts tomorrow! The film festival circuit is in full swing and Tribeca is the latest prestigious stop. And I’m going to tell you all about the featured horror films.

Tribeca may not be Cannes, but in its relatively short existence, Tribeca has proven itself a formidable and important film festival. Founded in 2002 by producer Jane Rosenthal, renowned actor Robert De Niro, and real estate mogul Craig Hatkoff, Tribeca has made a name for itself as a festival dedicated to presenting discerning and innovative filmmaking. More than the Cannes Film Festival or the Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca is about independent films over “prestige studio movies.”

This year, there’s a great mix of various horror subgenres, from serial killer movies to artistic slashers to psychological horror, with loads of films falling between those categories or smashing through them. I have a feeling that some of these feature and short films will go on to generate plenty of buzz. Hopefully, we will see general releases of some of these. I’m particularly excited about Hounds of LovePsychopaths, and Retouch.

Enjoy!

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Deep in the Heart of Texas! 2017 SXSW Horror Movies

Spring Break in Texas means a lot of things, like South Padre Island, Mustang Island, and South by South West!

I have many a fond memory of my time as a college student in Austin, Texas, too poor and too uncool to go to the exclusive, VIP SXSW events and having to settle for free events and waiting in line for screenings and concerts. Most of the time, I could only ever get into the musical events. I dreamed of the day I could afford a VIP pass to the SXSW Film Festival, especially because of all the freakin’ amazing SXSW horror movies there. So many great horror films premiered at SXSW! To name a few of those SXSW horror films, take French-extremism horror film Them, Lake Mungo, Insidious, and The Cabin in the Woods, to name a few.

Sadly, I’m still not in a place where I can take off a whole week to go party in Austin. Someday, I’ll get there. But until then, here’s a list of SXSW horror movies that are premiering this year! I’ve included a synopsis and a trailer if available. Enjoy!

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Get Out: Entertaining, Challenging, and Required Viewing

*Very Mild Spoilers for Get Out*

Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that checks off all my horror-movie boxes. Such a movie strikes a balance between horror and comedy, between jump scares and mounting dread, between imagination and classic genre fare, between a stand-alone story and an important social message.

Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that knocks me back. Holds me in my seat. Grabs me by the throat.

Get Out is the most recent example of such excellent filmmaking. By now you’ve surely heard that the film has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 167 total reviews and an 83% “Universal Acclaim” rating on Metacritic. You might also have read that Get Out is a certified box office smash, grossing $111 million dollars worldwide against a budget of $4.5 million, which is 24x over its budget.

Get Out deserves every good review and every penny it earns. Movies like this make me proud to be a horror fan because they prove how the genre is positioned as uniquely challenging and entertaining art. From its technical execution, to its writing, to its casting, to its deeply relevant social criticism, Get Out will probably be one of the best movies of the year and will undoubtedly be one of the best horror movies of the decade.

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Blood, Guts, and Politics: 11 Political Horror Movies

*Beware, here be spoilers*

The tense political environment right now has me thinking a lot about my identity as an American. I was born and raised here. I’m fairly patriotic. I studied the law and our nation’s history in part to better understand the rules that underlie our Americanness.

And when I think of myself as an American, I think about our rights and the defense of our liberties. I think of working together with those who have different viewpoints. I think of respect and tolerance, because Americans are supposed to hold those values in esteem. I also think, “It’s easy to be American when things are going well.”

What happens if this all falls apart?

We Americans treasure our autonomy. Look at the Bill of Rights. Look at the Constitution. These are the rules by which the government protects our rights and with which the people limit the government. We have all said we agree to abide by this rulebook to preserve everyone’s pursuit of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (within reason). Do we mean it?

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Horror Movies at the Academy Awards – A Complete List

The Academy Awards are this weekend, and I’m excited! I’m a huge film buff and enjoy watching the Academy Awards every year. I strive to see all the Best pictures, even if I don’t agree with the choices. Despite my love and respect for the Academy Awards, I am disappointed that many excellent films are completely overlooked by the Academy. Especially horror films.

I shouldn’t be surprised. The Academy has a lot of issues. The Academy is a notoriously conservative body, reluctant to reward risks or give credit to inventive and brave filmmaking. Lately it seems like the more popular a film is, the worst its chances are for receiving any kind of recognition from the Academy, though there are notable exceptions. Why does the Academy pick certain films over others? I have no idea.

And while horror is criminally underrated and underappreciated genre, turning out well-made and culturally resonate films, there have been several films that the Academy has lauded for achievements in directing, acting, cinematography, and other facets of filmmaking.

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Here’s to The Neon Demon, The Greatest Disappointment of 2016

***Spoilers for The Neon Demon Follow***

Unfortunately, 2016 hasn’t been the best year for horror movies, though it hasn’t been the worst either. In fact, 2016 seems to have been a moderate year, with some of the best films exhibiting hard-to-ignore flaws and the worst films showing flashes of promise. All the good films seemingly came out of left field while all we got from the hyped horror movies were splashy marketing campaigns and disappointment. For me, no other 2016 Horror Movie exemplifies this better than The Neon Demon.

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La Catrina – Icon of Death, Beauty, and Dia de Los Muertos

Today is All Saint’s Day! Or as we celebrate it in Texas, El Dia de Los Muertos, a Mexican holiday. For the uninitiated, El Die de los Muertos is a vibrant, introspective holiday devoted to remembering the dead. Those who celebrate the holiday will tend to the graves of their deceased loves ones, cleaning the tombstones, arranging flowers and altars, and leaving food and small offerings. They do this to invite the spirits to visit, so that the departed will hear the prayers of their living relatives.

While this sounds like it could be morbid and depressing, El Di de los Muertos is actually cheerful and uplifting. People are encouraged to remember the dead fondly by recounting happy and funny stories about them. This attitude carries over into the festival itself, which is often whimsically macabre and very enjoyable.

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30 Years of IT – Stephen King’s Enduring Horror Classic

September marks the 30th anniversary of IT, Stephen King’s infamous 1986 novel. IT sold a million copies in its first run and spent weeks on the bestseller lists. Like so many of King’s horrific tales, IT has broken past the confines of the own story, spreading chills and scares through our nation’s pop culture and terrorizing children and adults alike. People who have never read the book or seen the movie still know who Pennywise the Clown is.

Case in point: when I was a child, all the kids at school knew about the killer clown from the sewer who murdered children. We’d all seen that black book with the blood red letters sitting on a parent’s bookshelf, just out of reach. Some of us had even seen parts of the movie. Many of us had no idea what the actual story was; it didn’t stop us. We whispered and teased each other about Pennywise, and no one really wanted a clown at their birthday party. Such was the strength of that symbol.

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10 of My Favorite Horror Movie Scores

What makes a horror movie truly incredible? The same thing that makes any movie incredible—excellent writing, nuanced acting, gorgeous artistic design, daring cinematography, visionary directing, and a killer score.

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Autumnal Musings on the Wonderfully Morbid Art of Edward Gorey

Oftentimes, autumn puts me in a melancholy mood and only the most wonderful morbid art makes me feel better. Someting pretty, something scary, and something Gorey.

It has to do with how autumn affects me. The nights get very cold. The days wilt and dim under the flat, gray light. In Texas, because we don’t have real autumn, the leaves wither to a dull brown instead of the fiery colors other states enjoy. As such, the sickly brown emphasizes the emaciated, skeletal tree branches. And as the sky begins to darken earlier and earlier, all I find myself wanting to do is be home. There is a small voice urging me to go home, to get inside where it’s warm and safe.

I experience a curious mixture of forlornness and calm during these cold months. There is beauty in the cold. It possesses a certain elegance as it sweeps in with its frosty nights and frigid winds. Despite my apprehension of the cold (I am from Texas, y’all), when it washes over me in a sudden gust, I accept it.

And it always makes me think of the dark. Of the end.

It has always been this way for me. Every year.

I don’t share this to be overly morbid. There are some wonderful bright points in autumn and winter—tons of holidays, good food, time spent with family and friends, and no work! I only mean to acknowledge the connection.

I’ve always thought it had something to do with the fact that, around Halloween and into November, my grade school’s library would put out all the really good scary books. Overnight, beautifully illustrated copies of the children’s version of Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein would appear. There were numerous volumes of ghost stories, urban legends, and campfire tales. One of the best and creepiest of these books was the Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark series, of which I’ve already written about here and here. Those books were deliciously scary, so good that most kids felt compelled to read them, no matter how much those pictures frightened them.

Another one of my favorites was the wickedly artful The Gashlycrumb Tinies, written and illustrated by Edward Gorey. I always remembered those dark tales, despite having long forgotten the name of the author. I remembered the sinister rhyme, offered to help small children remember the alphabet. I remembered the demented but clever drawings.

And it was a particularly grey day that inspired me to dig through my books to revisit this part of my childhood.

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