I always have a hard time watching many serial killer movies if for no other reason than serial killers exist, and the crimes depicted onscreen could and sometimes do happen to real people. In serial killer movies in particular, much of the violence is directed towards women, which makes my viewing experience more difficult.
But I find such films can be worthwhile despite their grotesque, depressing subject matter. In our culture, we have a fascination with serial killers. They do not kill for reasons society considers “justifiable.” They seem to do the unthinkable, killing for pure personal gain, for profit, or to fulfill some twisted sense of morality. It seems to go against all human decency to kill so needlessly and frequently.
Our fascination expresses itself with many questions—how does the killer select his victims? Why those victims? How does he kill them? How long has he been doing this? How has he never been caught? Yet those questions come secondary to the ten-million-dollar question:
Why does he kill?
As a devoted horror movie fan, I’ll be the first to admit that the market is glutted with horror movies, most of them terrible. And not in an enjoyable, over-the-top kind of way.
If you are a horror movie novice searching for a good horror movie, the simultaneous breadth of availability and lack of choice entertainment can be discouraging. Horror fans feel that way all the time, but we know enough that we can make solid recommendations.
With Halloween fast approaching, I decided to compile a list of horror movies with solid scares and terror but that are accessible to a wide audience. The following films are perfect for a Halloween watch party because 1) they are relatively easy to find on streaming services, 2) they’re actually well-made films, and 3) they scare audiences in thoughtful, enjoyable, entertaining ways.
Even if you’re a horror movie buff, I feel like this list is a nicely packaged bundle of great horror movies that present a strong argument for the merits of horror. These movies are harrowing, smart, witty, and funny. They are heartbreaking and profound. They reinforce the magic of telling stories through the medium of film and legitimize a genre that critics loves to hate.
One of my favorite things about horror movies is how long they’ve been around.
People started making scary films as soon as they could. Audiences have always loved going to horror movies. Films like Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were widely popular. A lot of these movies became genre classics. You’ll find them on many best-of-horror lists, where they are widely praised for employ innovative techniques and practical effects to terrify audiences.
There’s just one problem—the majority of those films are no longer scary by today’s standards.
Bad news, horror fans, there are only three theatrical release horror movies in August. Three! And only one of them is a wide release!
I know, right? What happened? This summer started off strong with The Conjuring 2 and The Shallows. I know August is usually kind of “sleeper” month for movies, but this I was expecting more than this!
The good news is that two out of three of these horror movies look promising, in a RedBox or Amazon Prime kind of way. Hell, Don’t Breathe might be worth the price of a ticket just for the Silence-of-the-Lambs-esque night vision scenes.
Check ‘em out.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in Easter service, mulling over the more horrific aspects of many religious stories. As the gospel was read, I listened to all the details of Christ’s death and resurrection. I couldn’t stop thinking about how bloody and traumatizing the whole event must have been, on a physical, emotional, and existential level. And yet, this story brings happiness and comfort to millions of people. It’s not the only one either, since holy books are often filled with ghastly depictions of violence. It’s weird to think that these brutal stories are revered as sacred.
There are some months where the horror movie fountain overwhelms with a wide selection of scary films across a plethora of subgenres. Other months, not so much.
April has turned out to belong to the latter category, with barely any wide-release horror movies to be found (though the one wide-release horror film looks awesome). But don’t despair! April has brought us a small but eclectic mix of horror movies covering a range of subjects. There’s a serial murder thriller aiming for social commentary, a vicious survival gore-fest, a moody and stylish exploration of insanity, and a darkly surreal collection of fairy tales.
So while you might be counting the days until June when The Conjuring 2 comes out or July for the Purge: Election Year, maybe expand your horror horizons and try a movie you wouldn’t normally watch. While most of these films have secured only a limited theatrical release, they will be available on VOD the same day.
Texas is a unique place, full of crazy but true stories. It also has some demonstrably false ones that say a lot about Texas as a state. It’s a larger-than-life state, full of legendary characters and strange circumstances the give rise to the most bizarre stories. As such, Texas is the kind of place that easily lends itself to artistic expression, particularly in novels, paintings, TV, and movies. The horror genre is no exception, and there are some exceptional Texas horror movies.
In keeping with my Texas-themed posts this month, I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite Texas horror movies. These six films all take place in Texas and examine certain facets of Texas life and identity in one way or another. These films deal with religious doubt, big city vs. small town tension, criticisms of Texas culture, and lots more. These Texas horror movies are as imaginative and violent, just like Texas.
I don’t know about you, but my idea of a perfect date night is a indulging in a round of classy cocktails, enjoying a nice dinner, and afterwards, maybe going out to a bar or club. Wherever the course of the date takes me, it almost always ends with watching a film of some kind. And I almost always want to watch a horror film. Especially a romantic horror film.
Ah, February. In keeping with the human need for tradition and ritual, this is the time of year where everyone becomes temporarily obsessed with their and others’ relationship statuses. If you’re in a relationship, you’re bombarded with messages to spend hours planning the perfect candlelit Valentine’s Day date and spend a chunk of change for flowers, candy, stuffed animals, jewelry, perfume, and lingerie. If you’re not in a relationship, then you’re bombarded with messages about how you either need to find a Valentine or become recluse for those weeks that the grocery store explodes into a red and pink mess of cheap cards, candy, and other cheesy knick-knacks.
Why do we go to all this trouble? We tell ourselves its because if you love someone, you buy them “romantic” stuff, right? And if you don’t have a Valentine, then you should be constantly reminded of it, right?
But in all the bustle to buy and surprise and spoil, no one really stops to think about love itself, which is odd. After centuries, love is still an enigma, a cypher. Countless hearts and minds have attempted to elucidate the twists and turns of love, but no one has ever been able to truly plumb those murky depths. Everyone knows about love and its paradoxes, how it can make you feel happy and sad, grounded and insane. Love can introduce you to your soulmate and in the same moment cause you to feel a chilling loneliness.
Love is immense and pervasive. It touches everyone, sneaking unexpectedly into unsuspecting lives and wrecking the best-laid plans, for better or for worse.
Love is scary.
The premiere of Season 10 of The X-Files has come and gone, and so far, I’ve been pleased.
While the first episode may not have been the strongest episode ever, it gave us a solid dose of those mythological in scope, all-encompassing conspiracy theories we’ve come to know and love. Episode 2 was way more solid, truth be told, and pulled no punches when it came to violence and gore, which was a pleasant surprise.
It is good to have the old X-Files back. Conspiracy theories are all well and good, yes, but I have to say that I prefer the monster-of-the-week episodes with lots of scares and gore. They affect me more, they arrest my imagination and my heart and genuinely terrify. Those episodes make me question so much as they confront me with truly horrifying stories.
It’s why I keep coming back to The X-Files. I love how The X-Files forces me to think even as it entertains me, even as it scares me.
So, to continue from this post, here is Part 2 of my list of X-Files episodes that continue to scare me. Again, these episodes are presented in the order they aired.
(Also, spoiler alert, though, for real, these episodes aired at least ten years ago, if not longer. At this point, it’s your fault if you haven’t seen them. But at any rate, if you haven’t seen The X-Files, watch the whole show and then come back.)