Stories For Ghosts

Horror for the Discerning Fan

Category: Survival Horror (page 1 of 6)

Don’t Keep the Wicker Man Waiting: My Favorite Folk Horror Films

With the release of Midsommar, Ari Aster’s follow-up feature to last year’s Hereditary, folk horror is enjoying much deserved time in the spotlight. While the niche horror subgenre is known to many a horror fan (folk horror is one of my favorite subgenres), many curious viewers are at a loss when it comes to folk horror. What is it exactly?

Of course, as many folk horror fans will try to explain, the subgenre is difficult to pin down. Some consider it a subset of religious horror, and while I see and respect that viewpoint, I don’t necessarily agree with that. The two subgenres are related; I see them as distinct. Perhaps folk horror and religious horror are sisters. They both explore man’s fear of his beliefs, of one’s faith being tested, and of watching religion corrupt its practitioners. But folk horror has a particular flavor, a certain aesthetic, which religious horror does not replicate.

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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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SXSW Review: Little Monsters Has Lots of Heart and Zombies

Want more SXSW horror besides Little Monsters? Check out my SXSW 2019 Horror Lineup post.

The zombie horror-comedy is so popular that it’s nearly a separate horror sub-genre. Films like Dead Alive, Shaun of the dead, and Zombieland have shown just how fun and raucous a zombie film can be without skimping on the gory set pieces we all love. But not all zombie comedies meet the mark. To be successful, a zombie horror-comedy must command two separate films in one, and as such, must strike a balance between the gravity of a zombie outbreak while creating relatable, funny characters.

At first, Little Monsters might seem like too risky a premise to strike that balance. Set in present-day Australia, Little Monsters follows Dave (Alexander England), who is crashing on his sister’s couch after his life craters. When he’s not smoking weed, he’s watching his adorable 5-year old nephew, Felix (Diesel La Torraca). Once Dave meets Felix’s lovely kindergarten teacher, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o), he decides to pursue her by volunteering to chaperone the class’s field trip to a local petting zoo. Little do they know that the American army base next door to the petting zoo has been secretly conducting zombie experiments (naturally). The zombies escape, of course, and Dave and Ms. Caroline find themselves responsible for the lives of eight adorable, innocent, precocious kindergarteners. And if that wasn’t enough, they must also contend with Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad), a highly annoying kids’ entertainer who shows his true sleazeball colors once shit goes down.

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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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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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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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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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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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