It’s summer time, and that means lots and lots of blockbuster pictures. It also means we’ll be on a steady diet of action movies, which is both good and bad. Good because I freakin’ LOVE action movies. Bad because that means there aren’t a lot of horror movies.
But there is a ray of hope in summer: the action horror film.
The action horror film is an audience favorite, for good reason. A good action horror movie smashes together the jump scares and roundhouse kicks, supernatural elements and thrilling fight scenes. When a horror movie makes me squeal in fear, an action movie makes me squeal in delight.
An action horror movie makes me do both, which makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining film-going experience. In the same spirit as a superhero film, an action horror movie lets me watch mega-powerful beings and monsters duke it out for my benefit, serving creepiness and gore the whole time.
I had hoped, sincerely, that Universal’s recent remake of The Mummy would satisfy my unquenchable thirst for badasses fighting monsters, but it sucks. Like, really sucks.
Side note: Universal really needs to get it together if it wants the Dark Universe to work.
Instead of slogging through a review of The Mummy, I decided to post about my favorite action horror movies. So here you go, thirteen awesomely cool, bloody action horror movies. They embody all the coolness of traditional action movies with the supernatural and horror baddies I love to watch. They may not be the smartest movies or the most culturally relevant, but they endure and impact audiences for years, and that’s something important.
Woohoo! June horror movies are here! There’s a lot this month, so strap in and buckle up because there’s wide array of films. There’s different subgenres, different levels of quality, and different levels of WTF-ness.
I need to apologize as well, because I’ve been traveling the last few days, which delayed my normal blog post schedule. Basically, I was traveling and boozing it up. Consequently, I wrote a lot of this in the Houston airport after drinking several glasses of overpriced wine (#noregrets). I am truly a Hemingway fan and wrote drunk and edited sober.
Can I just say that this was very fun to edit this? It was a challenge.
But anyway! Here’s your June Horror Movie list! You didn’t miss much from my post being late. Ooops!
**Very Mild Spoilers for The Boy on the Bridge. Full discloser, I was given an advance copy of the novel by M.R. Carey’s publicist.**
In a horror subgenre that often feels like it’s overflowing with the same old stories, M.R. Carey has a knack for the original and inventive.
With his 2014 novel The Girl with All the Gifts, he explored how what’s left of humanity persists 20 years after a cataclysmic pathogen transforms the majority of the population into mindless, vicious zombies known as “hungries.” It was a novel heavy on scientific research and crafted tension, delivering a nightmarish and realistic vision of how an actual zombie pathogen might behave, how the world would evolve, and how fearful and selfish human beings would struggle in the aftermath. I found it a fascinating approach to the zombie apocalypse, a survival tale with all the expected strained group dynamics coupled with fascinating science and difficult ethical questions.
Continuing his mission of smart, well-researched, compelling zombie novels, Carey has just published his latest novel The Boy on the Bridge with Orbit. And let me tell you, if you liked The Girl with All the Gifts, you’ll really like The Boy on the Bridge.
Here in Texas, March is a bit of a tumultuous month. The weather is crazy, with hot days and chilly nights, and crazy pollen causing allergies like you wouldn’t believe. And the event scheduled is packed—you’ve got the weeks-long Cook-off and Rodeo, along with St. Patrick’s Day and Spring Break.
So too, the horror release schedule for March 2017 is a roller-coaster of horror movies. There’s blood and ghosts and humor and social commentary and fascinating stories. We’ve got some big, splashy gore fests in The Belko Experiment and Life, along with the artsy cannibal flick Raw. Later in the month, we see some pensive and creepy offerings with Dig Two Graves and The Blackcoat’s Daughter. And don’t overlook indie films The Devil’s Candy and Here Alone, both of which might prove to be pleasant, bloody surprises.
Let’s see where March takes us!
*Beware, here be spoilers*
The tense political environment right now has me thinking a lot about my identity as an American. I was born and raised here. I’m fairly patriotic. I studied the law and our nation’s history in part to better understand the rules that underlie our Americanness.
And when I think of myself as an American, I think about our rights and the defense of our liberties. I think of working together with those who have different viewpoints. I think of respect and tolerance, because Americans are supposed to hold those values in esteem. I also think, “It’s easy to be American when things are going well.”
What happens if this all falls apart?
We Americans treasure our autonomy. Look at the Bill of Rights. Look at the Constitution. These are the rules by which the government protects our rights and with which the people limit the government. We have all said we agree to abide by this rulebook to preserve everyone’s pursuit of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (within reason). Do we mean it?
February has arrived! And it brought along a pretty full slate of horror movies. This month we’ve got some impressive and hyped films, like A Cure for Wellness, Get Out, and XX. We’ve got Rings, which Paramount Pictures really wants to be a hit but actually looks convoluted and unintentionally hilarious. There’s also The Girl with All the Gifts, an adaptation of the 2014 bestselling zombie novel, and the normal amount of indie horror films that may or may not be worth your time.
Check them out!
Happy New Year!
January is one of my favorite times of the year because there’s so much hope for this brand new shiny year we have before us. With a new year comes new surprises and delights, and I feel particularly optimistic since I think 2017 owes us for 2016. Hopefully that will extend to horror movies.
The good news is that, if the January horror movie release calendar is anything to go on, 2017 is off to a solid start. We’ve got some awesome horror-action films, a M. Night Shyamalan psychological thriller, and a promising urban legend supernatural horror movie, among others that could surprise us.
One of my favorite parts of the Halloween season are the TV specials.
As I’ve written about before, Halloween allows us to pretend to be someone you’re not for a little while. And Halloween allows our culture to engage in some some macabre activity that we don’t usually acknowledge. Death and violence are part of life, but Halloween helps us confront those unpleasant topics in a safe and fun way.
The Halloween TV special is part of that. Every show from The Simpsons to Mad Men has had Halloween episodes. For a short time, we get to watch our favorite characters explore secret sides of themselves, become monsters, run from zombies, and attend some of the craziest parties you’ve seen. It’s fun, it’s a little scary, and it’s an integral part of Halloween.
I’ve listed my favorite Halloween TV specials here. They range from silly to heartwarming to straight gross (looking at you, Community), but they’re all tons of fun, infusing Halloween scares into your favorite weekly shows.
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.
***Spoiler Alert: mild spoilers for The Girl With All the Gifts***
Stagnation is one of the unfortunate things avid horror fans deal with. For such a rich, dynamic, and prolific genre, horror often trades in the same old stories. Sometimes I feel like I’m experiencing the same serial killer thriller, haunted house short story, or post-apocalyptic zombie movie again and again. I’ve noticed a cycle to subgenres’ popularity, where one well-made novel or movie captures hearts, minds, and nerves only to inspire a lot of not-as-good imitations. Knock-offs are churned out in record time, and in the rush to get the product out, creators sacrifice quality and imagination.
This isn’t always a “bad” choice, since there is a lot of money in producing cheap and gory horror movies. It happened with zombies, possessions, and found-footage horror movies. It happens with vampire novels. These works have entertainment value, but they aren’t groundbreaking and become uninteresting.
As a fan, this vicious cycle frustrates and bores me. Horror is such a flexible genre, with great potential for constant reinvention. I always enjoy horror that offers something different.
Thus, whenever a movie or novel comes along that breathes new life into a worn-out subgenre, I can’t help but take notice.
Enter The Girl With All the Gifts, M.R. Carey’s innovative 2014 zombie novel. In a subgenre rife with the same old survivor story, Carey wrote a compelling zombie narrative reexamining many of the assumptions of the genre. The result is a novel that offers a fresh perspective on many of the tried-and-true themes of the zombie genre, including survival at all costs, us vs. them mentalities, and what it would take to rebuild a shattered world.