Do you know when Christmas for horror fans is?
If you said Halloween, I hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong.
Because horror Christmas starts this Thursday, August 23, 2018, when the FrightFest Film Festival kicks off in London, England.
As a genre, horror rarely receives the respect it deserves. Imaginative, crowd-pleasing horror films are too easily dismissed and underestimated by major studios and audiences alike. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of horror films that have wowed both dedicated horror fans and critics (a la Get Out, Hereditary, see my whole blog). But honestly, there are way more horror films deserving of attention, if not acclaim.
That’s why I started blogging about horror movies at film festivals and why I’m so excited about this year’s FrightFest. I wanted to bring attention to horror films that, against harsh odds, broke out of their confines and stampeded into the spotlight. From Sundance to Cannes to TIFF, horror movies are proving that they can hang with the best of the best.
Still, it’s exhausting always having to prove that point, isn’t it?
But this week, my horror-fan prayers will be answered by the 18th annual FrightFest, a unique film festival dedicated to horror and other genre-bending films. FrightFest initially started as a quest to give British horror fans a high-caliber horror film festival before quickly becoming an internationally renowned festival. FrightFest is the festival where Danny Boyle debuted the first reel of 28 Days Later, where Guillermo del Toro chose to premiere Pan’s Labyrinth instead of the more glitzy London Film Festival, and where Neil Marshall held a gala preview for The Descent.
***Note: Some Spoilers for The Beauty***
The distrust between the male and female sexes has and will probably always be fertile ground for horror narratives. The difference between the sexes foster fear; the shared human experience between them gives form to that fear. We know what the other is thinking and what they might do to us. They are devils we’ve always known and could never escape.
As the saying goes, “Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.”
This is the plot of Aliya Whiteley’s The Beauty, her 2014 novella, which was published recently in the United States. In the dystopic near-future of The Beauty, a mysterious disease has claimed the lives of every woman and girl on earth. The men have grown old, and the remaining boys have grown into men. Some of these men inhabit what used to be a thriving off-the-grid community. Every day, the men busy themselves with all the various activities needed to keep the community running, unsuccessfully ignoring the fact that they are merely waiting to die. Every night, Nathan, the community’s storyteller, recounts stories of their dead women and idealized past. Nathan is on the brink of losing hope when their women come back, rising from their graves in the form of mushroom-woman hybrids.
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.
As I admitted in my last post, I do not have a strong foreign horror game. Of course, I’ve seen a ton of foreign horror films from countries like Great Britain, France, Japan, Canada, and Mexico, and more than a handful of foreign horror films from countries scattered all over the world, but I remain woefully ignorant of the global body of foreign horror.
This is something that I need to fix. And I figured that the Olympics would be the perfect time to educate myself.
A new year means a whole new year of fresh and creepy horror novels!
As a horror fan, it’s for me easy to focus on horror movies. Horror movies are relatively quick to consume instead of a horror novel, just as a movie is sometimes more immediately entertaining than a novel.
But there is a great deal of original, well-made horror fiction out there, crafted by authors from diverse backgrounds, points of view, and traditions. Stephen King may still rule horror fiction, but there’s plenty of room for all of the unique and unsettling tales offered by authors like Ania Ahlborn, Alma Katsu, Josh Malerman, and Paul Tremblay (King has a book out this year too, don’t worry!).
So, in keeping with my goals to raise awareness of exciting new horror fiction, I’ve put together a list of fifteen horror novels to be published in 2018. I can’t wait to read them, which is good for my New Year’s resolution to read more, but really bad for my book buying addiction. (If you’re interested in last year’s list of horror, check that out here.
Recently I found the time to finally read one of my most anticipated novels of 2017, The 20 Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria. This novel was hyped as a cult classic, a prime example of Italian weird fiction that had finally been given the treatment owed to a cult classic and translated into English. Reviews and publisher blurbs hailed it as a horrifying tale that, despite being published almost forty years ago, had proven just as timely and significant as ever.
With such endorsements, I didn’t really know what to expect, since I have never read any Italian weird fiction, and the closest thing to Italian horror I’ve read was Dante’s Inferno. But the synopsis was intriguing, the cover was creepy, and I thought, what the heck?
The 20 Days of Turin turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated. It’s part Lovecraftian horror story, part political allegory, part mystery thriller, and part sublime nightmare. This novel is a very good example of the kind of horror that focuses less on jump scares and more on weaving an insidious scheme to ensnare its reader.
Ensnare me it did. The 20 Days of Turin didn’t scare me in a way that forced me to make sure my doors and windows were locked. But it burrowed its way under my skin, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Fantastic Fest 2017 is here! Finally!a
Fantastic Fest is the largest film festival specializing in genre films, which basically means it focuses a lot more on sci-fi, horror, fantasy, action, and generally fun and weird movies. Fantastic Fest may not be a critical darling like Cannes, Venice, or Sundance, but it has a proven track record of showcasing crowd-pleasers and groundbreaking genre films. It usually picks up where TIFF leaves off, pushing the envelope even farther with non-horror movies like There Will Be Blood, Red, and John Wick.
These are the kinds of movies that really make you feel something, whether that’s a vicarious blood lust, a sense of wonder, squealing terror, or outright uncomfortable confusion. Fantastic Fest is always interesting and has something for every type of horror fan.
*Mild Spoilers for It**
I’ve known about It for as long as I can remember. It was that massive brick of book that sat on the shelf at the public library, daring me to secretly check it out and sneak it home, where I could read it under the covers at night. It was also that early 90s TV movie starring Tim Curry that my parents wouldn’t let me see, and that I didn’t see until I watched it during a slumber party. Growing up, It was the epitome of horror, not only because of the scary clown, but because children were the target of his evil, and It was not afraid to depict child murder.
It really went there, and many 90s kids won’t forget it. Many of us flocked to movie theaters last weekend and forked over cash to see the latest adaptation of It. I, for one, was almost giddy with excitement. I wanted to be scared sh*tless. I wanted to recapture some of the terror I felt reading the novel. I’ve grown up, but I still remember the exquisite and sickening pain of growing up, of realizing the evil in the world.
But this adaptation didn’t make me feel that.