Stories For Ghosts

Horror for the Discerning Fan

Category: Award-Winning Horror (page 1 of 4)

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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All the Fresh Horror Films at Fantastic Fest 2018

Festival season continues its steady momentum of exciting new horror movies this week at Fantastic Fest 2018. Held in Austin, Texas, Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the United States, which if you want a sneak peek of upcoming horror films sure to delight and shock, you pay attention to Fantastic Fest.

In Fantastic Fest’s own words, “The festival is dedicated to championing challenging and thought-provoking cinema, celebrating new voices and new stories from around the world and supporting new filmmakers. We are committed to supporting film in its most provocative, ground-breaking and lesser-known forms and giving the audience a chance to find new favorites and future genre classics.”

In the past, Fantastic Fest has screened horror films such as Zombieland, SplitDark SongThe Void, The Witch, We Are What We Are, It FollowsThe Babadook, and Sinister. Last year, Fantastic Fest screened The EndlessGerald’s Game, and Revenge, among others.

Essentially, Fantastic Fest is legit. And the list of horror films is long! There are 31 horror films total at Fantastic Fest! (It’s a sign!)

Even better, this year’s Fantastic Fest seems especially committed to showcasing horror films from all over the world–Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and Tunisia, to be exact. For horror fans like me, the chance to learn about new foreign horror is thrilling, especially when mainstream American horror fails to deliver.

Without further adieu, let’s check out what Fantastic Fest has to offer! Continue reading

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Horror at the 2018 Venice International Film Festival

The Venice International Film Festival officially kicks off today, serving as one of the most important stops on the film festival circuit. Venice is one of the three most influential film festivals in the world, up there with Cannes and Berlin. As such, films showcased at Venice are regarded as being the crème de la crème, as prestigious films that aim to elevate the medium of film.

Of course, horror films are often overlooked. But not always.

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Father Knows Best – My Favorite Horror Films for Father’s Day

Let’s talk about what it means to be a father. In our culture, a father is supposed to be a protector, a provider, the person responsible for the physical, mental, and existential well-being of his family. While both mothers and fathers face conflicts regarding their individuality and the demands of having a family, their duties are wholly distinct.

In many horror movies, a mother’s fears are tied to her biological function and are restricted to her relationship with her children. The anxiety here is that a mother might lose her autonomy to her children, that she might selfishly betray the sacred bond between mother and child, or that she will fail as a mother and be subject to a multitude of punishments. I delve into a lot of these movies in my post about mothers in horror movies, which you can read here.

When it comes to fathers, horror movies seem divided into two camps. In the first, a father struggles to fulfill his obligations (whether he’s aware of this or not is left to the individual film), thereby putting his family at risk. It’s only through his re-dedication to idealized fatherhood that he can protect his family. In the second, a man rebukes his fatherhood and the responsibilities that come with it because he is the nefarious threat to his family. On the whole, his obligations are to both his children and his wife (heteronormative families rule the roost in horror movies so far), and his duties arise more from social code than biological function.

It’s with these thoughts in mind that I created this list of horror movies that examine fatherhood. In these films, fatherhood is the glue that holds the family together and allows the family unit to become the fundamental building block of communities, societies, and civilizations. Whether these fathers fail or succeed in living up to the standard has profound ramifications for his family, which reflects our deeply held fears about the stability of our society.

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The Unsettling, Profound Discomfort of Hereditary (2018)

After seeing Hereditary a few weeks ago, I left stunned, thinking that I hadn’t seen a horror film like Hereditary in a very long time. So much happened, much of it overwhelming in its emotional punch and terror. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I gave up trying to decipher things and instead just let memories of it come to me. It is one of the most genuinely horrific films I’ve seen recently. It’s also one of the most depressing films I’ve seen in a long time.

After weeks of not knowing how to write this review, I finally managed to lean into the film’s complexity. Hereditary is so good at unfolding itself, at managing what information it offers the audience and when. Not only does this model make for excellent slow burns, but it also mirrors the disintegration of the family as their first loss spirals into unimaginable horror. It is a tragic story, really, a film about a woman that unwittingly enables and fulfills her family’s nightmarish fate.

As far as horror movies go, Hereditary isn’t focused on entertainment, though I found the film entertaining in and of itself. No, Hereditary is more focused on using its story and characters to create a fundamentally unnerving experience. It explores how we are at our most vulnerable around our family members, and despite our fervent beliefs that we can ignore the scars and outrun the past, we can’t always. Continue reading

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9 of My Favorite Prom Horror Movies

Ah, the Prom Horror Movie. The guiltiest of my guilty pleasures!

They’re so cheesy, so campy, so over-the-top and wonderfully bad, though not always. Some prom horror movies have unexpected depth and nuance, exploring (sometimes clumsily) the dynamics of high school and the pressures of being a teenager. Just like the high school horror movie, the prom horror movie fumbles towards peering at the dark underside of the high school experience as memorialized in high school’s forever hyped event.

It makes total sense that prom is a big deal. In high school, especially the closer to graduation they are, teenagers find themselves stuck in a weird, awkward limbo where they don’t have the rights and privileges of an adult but know enough to want them, where the responsibilities and obligations of adulthood loom on the horizon. The intense desire for agency, meaning, and purpose melds with teenagers’ immature assumptions that agency, meaning, and purpose can be found in one glitzy, epic night.

Of course, it rarely happens that way. Prom night is almost never the incredible, life-changing event that Hollywood movies would have you believe. Most of the time, you get all dressed up in your high school best and spend a few hours swaying on the dance floor or sitting at your table with your friends, wondering why your crush hasn’t noticed how awesome you look. And then a drunk junior pukes Malibu all over the dance floor, and you and your friends leave and go to Denny’s on the way to someone’s house to watch Donnie Darko and try to sneak beer out of the garage refrigerator.

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Horror and The 2018 Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival is officially underway! Yay for independent artsy films!

In the past, Cannes has given us not only buzzworthy prestige films from around the world, but it has also been a source of horror films outside the Hollywood mainstream. I’ve covered both the 2016 and 2017 Cannes Film Festivals, which introduced to the world to films like Raw, Neon Demon, Train to Busan, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. And that’s not to mention horror classics like Evil Dead or Pan’s Labyrinth.

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Crack Open a Shiner and Settle In – It’s Time for SXSW Horror Movies!

Festival season continues with the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, which means there are new (and, hopefully, fresh) horror movies for us to peruse!

2018 marks the 25th year of the SXSW film festival. Just think of it–25 years of a fearless and unflinching commitment to emerging voices, diverse viewpoints, and plain crazy schemes that translate into memorable films! SXSW is known for its commitment to pushing the envelope of the film industry, and the horror industry knows this.

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March 2018 Horror – The Strangers Are Back!

It’s March, which means that spring is right around the corner. It also means that the steady stream of horror we’ve been enjoying this year runs a little slow during the spring months before the summer horror season starts in May.

But don’t fear! March promises some intriguing films, despite the short list of horror films this month. There are two great foreign horror films, the long-awaited sequel to The Strangers (2008), a documentary about a real-life haunting, and the latest psychological thriller/horror from Steven Soderbergh. It’s shot on an iPhone and Claire Foy gives a raw, frazzled performance that’s the exact opposite of her role as Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown (which I also love. I just love Claire Foy, and I can’t help it).

Check out the trailers below!

March 2

The Lullaby (Limited)

“A 19-year-old woman falls into a deep depression after the birth of her first son. In her paranoia, she begins to hear voices and comes to believe that a strange entity is haunting her child.”

What a coincidence (really!)! I was just talking about this South African horror movie as an example of foreign horror from the African Continent! It looks very creepy, though I can’t really discern the quality of the film from this trailer. I hope it’s a strong film, only because the subject matter and the hopeful exploration of post-partum psychosis deserve a nuanced discussed.

March 3

The Ravenous aka Les Affames (Netflix)

“A village in Quebec is terrorized by a flesh-eating plague.”

Here’s another foreign horror film for you—a zombie movie from Canada. Damn Canada! I know you’re very good at body horror, but not particularly known for your zombie films. Where did this artsy, old-school Romero, understated movie come from? It’s freaking me out. This is not good for my nerves, Canada, you must understand this. And I say that as a seasoned horror fan.

But seriously, I remember hearing about this movie when it was making the festival rounds at TIFF, and I understand it’s pretty good, both for its scares and its exploration of social themes. I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s popped up on Netflix. Add this one to the watch list!

March 9

The Strangers: Prey at Night (Wide)

“Mike and his wife Cindy take their son and daughter on a road trip that becomes their worst nightmare. The family members soon find themselves in a desperate fight for survival when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park that’s mysteriously deserted — until three masked psychopaths show up to satisfy their thirst for blood.”

I’m both excited and freaked out for this movie because, as far as horror subgenres go, home invasion movies burrow under my skin and stay there. The Strangers is widely regarded as one of the most intense home invasion horror movies in recent years, and for good reason, which makes The Strangers; Prey at Night a highly anticipated release. So far it seems to be getting some good reviews, but it’s still too early to tell which way this will go. Lucky for me, I get to attend a screening of the film tomorrow night, so stay tuned for my review!

 

March 16

Demon House (Limited)

“Paranormal investigator Zak Bagans buys a supposedly haunted house in Indiana and documents what happens when he moves in.”

Woooo a cursed movie! Earn your check, marketing team!

But seriously, this is a documentary about an actual real-life case, though I’m not sure how flexible the film is being with the term “documentary” here. The movie centers on a house that used to belong to the Ammons, a Gary, Indiana family that claimed they were being haunted and tortured by as many as 200 demonic entities.

I highly suggest reading the story as published by the Indy Star. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and creepier still, it’s written in a very even tone. It neither believes the Ammon family story about demonic possession nor does it deny the story—it merely lays out the story.

Essentially, I’m way more interested in the Ammons, their story, and a potential film adaptation about the intersection of socio-economic factors, psychology, and religion than I am with this documentary about a guy who buys the house after the family flees.

March 23

Unsane (wide)

“Sawyer Valentini relocates from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape from the man who’s been stalking her for the last two years. While consulting with a therapist, Valentini unwittingly signs in for a voluntary 24-hour commitment to the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Her stay at the facility soon gets extended when doctors and nurses begin to question her sanity. Sawyer now believes that one of the staffers is her stalker — and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive and fight her way out.”

This film is on my list of Most Anticipated Horror Movies of 2018! I am always up for a good psychological thriller/horror, especially when you can’t be sure if the protagonist is crazy or not. While reviews have been positive, they haven’t been quite glowing. Despite that, I think the film will be worth seeing for Claire Foy’s performance, Steven Soderbergh’s experimental use of an iPhone for his single camera, and its a solid (though perhaps uninspired) psychological horror.

Are y’all excited for these movies! Tell me about it in the comments.

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A Survey of Foreign Horror Films – Oceania

I’m making solid progress on my global tour of foreign horror movies! Next stop: Oceania!

I’ve devoted my last few posts to educate myself (and my readers) about foreign horror, of which I now realize I knew *almost* nothing about. Not all the foreign horror is confined to countries like Great Britain, France, Japan, Canada, or Mexico, right?

Luckily for me, the ongoing Winter Olympics inspired me to research foreign horror the world over.

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