Stories For Ghosts

Horror for the Discerning Fan

Category: Monsters (page 1 of 11)

Horror and the 2019 Cannes Film Festival

(To read my past coverage of Cannes, see my 2016, 2017, and 2018 posts.)

One of the more exciting trends in horror over the last few years has been the proliferation of horror movies making splash debuts at renowned film festivals. Horror has been defying expectations and proving the genre haters wrong by showing up and showing out at festivals like Sundance and SXSW. Even genre festivals like Fantastic Fest and Frightfest have increased their profiles to become hotly anticipated in horror and non-horror circles alike.

And as a horror fan, I feel like it’s about damn time. Many critics and filmmakers have turned their noses up to horror, so it’s nice to see the industry not only embrace horror but start to experiment with how the genre can tell compelling stories.

Cue the Cannes Film Festival, arguably the glitziest and most buzzworthy film festival in the world. In years past, horror films like Evil Dead 2, Pan’s Labyrinth, Train to Busan, and The Neon Demon. have garnered much attention and acclaim at Cannes. Additionally, Cannes serves as an important marketplace and networking nexus for filmmakers looking to secure additional funding or distribution for their horror films.  Such attention helps the whole genre do better, which is why I catalog the horror films showing at both the Cannes film festival and the Marché du Film (Cannes’ Film Market) every year.

This year’s Cannes festival doesn’t have as much horror as I would like to see (there’s never enough horror as far as I’m concerned). It’s disappointing that there aren’t more horror films at Cannes, but rest assured, those that will screen are ones to watch. This small but strong group of horror films promises to offer audiences a lot more than the same old tired remakes and half-assed slashers.

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“Sometimes, Dead is Bettah.” So Is Pet Sematary, the Novel

When I saw the trailer for Pet Sematary (2019), with John Lithgow as Jud Crandall, I felt excited. I’m usually skeptical of remakes, but since I liked the remake of IT (2017) with Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the clown, I’m kind of hopeful for upcoming horror remakes. And then it occurred to me: I hadn’t read the book. I’d seen the 1989 film more than 20 times – sometimes just playing it in the background at home while I did chores. I really like the movie,  but I didn’t know what I was missing until I soaked up the novel.

In case you don’t know, Pet Sematary is a story about the Creed family, who moves to Ludlow, Maine, and into a house beside the town’s pet cemetery (misspelled “Sematary” by local children who made the sign). Strange things occur as Louis Creed discovers what lies beyond the Pet Sematary – breaking his grip on sanity and morality.

I had some traveling ahead of me, and I wanted to make sure I read the book before the remake hit theaters. So the night before I headed off to Austin, Texas, for SXSW, I kicked off the Pet Sematary audiobook on my way. As soon as I began the audiobook, I was hooked. I listened during my drive. When I stopped for gas, I didn’t linger so I could finish the next chapter. After a few hours, when I rolled into Austin, I could already tell there were differences between the novel and the 1989 film. But I turned off the audiobook and began live-music-binging.

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My 10 Favorite Episodes of The Twilight Zone

What is it about the spooky, provocative short story that moves us so? Whether it’s listening to the big kids recount ghost stories around a campfire or reading creepypastas under the covers in the middle of the night, we cannot resist the pull of eerie, enigmatic stories that linger long after they’ve finished imparting their lessons.

Personally, I’ve been fascinated and transfixed by these kinds of stories my whole life. Ghost stories, urban legends, local folklore, internet nightmares–I love all of them. And one of the reasons why I love them so much is due, in large part, to watching The Twilight Zone with my grandmother.

Before I could really understand what I was seeing, I remember visiting my grandparents’ house and watching episodes of the Twilight Zone on what was once The Sci-Fi Channel. My grandmother, who was a loving and fun grandma, was also a well-mannered and restrained woman who never had a messy house and just wasn’t a fan of dark fiction, be it books or movies tv shows. (Assuming that it was a hard-hitting period piece or something, she and my grandfather once walked out of a screening of Men in Black. Another time, I made her watch X-Men with me, and she told me in that it was the worst movie she’d ever seen.) I wasn’t allowed to watch certain movies or TV shows because they were “unpleasant” or “inappropriate.” But for some reason, she didn’t mind The Twilight Zone, and she let me watch them. Sometimes, she watched them with me.

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Upcoming 2019 Horror TV – A Running List

With the plethora of fantastic horror available right now, it’s a great time to be a horror fan. Not only are horror movies getting better and better, told from a variety of viewpoints and with tons of cool new stories, but television is also experiencing a horror renaissance. And y’all, there are just too many options to choose from.

It all started with the premiere of What We Do In The Shadows this past week, which got me thinking–what other cool new 2019 horror TV shows have come out or are coming out soon?

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Not Your Average Demon – SFG Reviews “The Golem”

***Some Spoilers for The Golem (2018)***

Editor’s Note: I’m so excited and honored to announce that Stories For Ghosts has a new contributing writer, Andreana Binder! She’s a talented and whip-smart Houston writer who loves dissecting horror films and books, particularly when it comes to Stephen King and American Horror Story. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us. First up: Andreana’s review of The Golem.

As an audience, demons derived from Christian/Catholic belief, like in The Nun (2018) or The Conjuring series, are pretty common. Also fairly common are the demons with loose origins, like in Annabelle Creation (2017), and Insidious (2010). Most of the time, we’re dealing with demons from some version of Hell – and while it’s not uninteresting, it’s been done before.

That goes double for all the movies that include the Christian/Catholic Devil – again, the devil isn’t uninteresting, we’ve just seen him a lot. The presence of Christian/Catholic demons in religious horror films perpetuates itself, and while I always hope to see the demon story told differently, sometimes it falls flat. It’s kind of like Frankenstein or Dracula movies – same character, mostly the same strengths, weaknesses, and challenges – where we as an audience are counting on something “different” to occur. Because the story’s been told before, we may rely on other factors like the dialogue, direction, special effects, or cinematography to give us a fresh experience or an exhilarating ride.

Thus, lately, as far as demons go, I’ve been sitting back like, “Meh. Demons.” We don’t get too many movies about Haitian demons, or entities like Pap Legba (seen recently in American Horror Story: Coven.)

I haven’t seen any golems lately. So rarely are we presented with a story rooted in Jewish folklore that gives us a demon to wrestle with. And because I feel like I get heavy doses of demons from other belief systems, The Golem (2018), rooted in Jewish folklore and mysticism, was pretty refreshing.

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February 2019 Horror – Splashy Fun and a Groundbreaking Documentary

February hasn’t always been a strong month for horror. In fact, the early part of each year used to be seen as a dumping ground for meh movies for the entire film industry. And when it came to horror, a lot of those films were not really worth anyone’s time.

But thanks to the horror boom, which has revitalized the genre, we’re seeing interesting, high-profile horror releases year-round. This February is very strong, with splashy new horror movies straight from the festival circuit (Velvet Buzzsaw and Piercing), solid wide releases (The Prodigy and Happy Death Day 2U), and one VOD release that infuses the Frankenstein mythos with Jewish folklore (The Golem).

February also sees the release of an important and illuminating documentary, Horror Noire, about the historical role of black people both in horror films and behind the camera.

So yeah, February horror has a lot to offer. Enjoy!

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The 2019 Sundance Film Festival and Horror Movies

The time has come for the Sundance Film Festival 2019!

You guys, I’m so excited to see what all Sundance has in store for us on a horror front. Year after year, Sundance has provided some really cool cutting edge horror ranging from the commercially and critically brilliant (2017’s Get Outto some very intense horror films (like last year’s Hereditary).

In fact, Sundance has always been a showcase for up-and-coming horror. Sundance brought us last year’s Mandy and Revenge in addition to The Blair Witch Project, American Psycho, Saw, 28 Days Later, The Descent, and The Witch

Truly, the Sundance Film Festival is one to watch, which is why I’ve covered it for both 2018 and 2017. This year, I’m excited to see the wide array of horror films. There are so many! And so many different kinds. There’s the arthouse gore of Velvet Buzzsaw, the black comedy of Little Monsters, and survival horror of Corporate Animals. I can’t wait to see what films have legs and become future horror heavyweights.

Enjoy!

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My List of Most Anticipated Horror Films for 2019

A new year, a new slate of horror movies to anticipate. This year, as with nearly every year, there are so many horror films to choose from. And as with every year, there are some movies that look DOA (like La Llorona, which looks so cheesy) as well as some films that will blow us all away (Jordan Peele’s Us looks way intense, I’m ready but so unprepared at the same time).

That being said, this year’s anticipated horror list includes a whole lot of sequels (4 total) and remakes (2 total). 2019 is the year of Stephen King, as his stories have inspired THREE of the fourteen movies on my list. But there’s also a fair bit of original content, like Us, Brightburn, and Ma.

I’m just so excited to see all of these. As always, stay tuned for my reviews of these films! Enjoy!

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January 2019 Horror Movies – Not a Bad Way to Start the Year

Happy New Year to all you horror fans out there!

I don’t know about you, but 2018 was kind of an amazing year for horror. There were a lot of original titles and a fair bit of inventive stuff. Of course, each month we saw many of the same old bad horror movie titles, with shoddy special effects, unimaginative jump scares, and laughable acting. Despite the highs we experienced in 2018, it appeared that each month would bring an endless stream of subpar horror movies.

I went into this month’s horror movie calendar feeling the same way. 2019 would be, largely, the same, and all I could do was hope we’d have the same caliber of cool horror movies as in 2018.

But then! These January 2019 horror trailers weren’t that bad. Some of them were actually, dare I say, interesting? Take Rust Creek, which might be a more sophisticated execution of your typical redneck survival horror movie. Or Pledge, which promises to unleash a whole frat of Patrick Bateman psychopaths on a group of unsuspecting underclassmen. And then, of course, there’s Glass, which isn’t really a full horror film, but by God, James McAvoy’s Beast character creeps me the hell out.

There’s also the notable horror DVD releases this month—Halloween will hit Amazon on January 15, followed by Suspiria on January 29. Both of these 2018 horror films are solid choices, so check them out.

And enjoy this month’s new horror releases!

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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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