Stories For Ghosts http://storiesforghosts.com Literary Horror for Everyone Wed, 15 Mar 2017 15:23:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.4 79824033 Deep in the Heart of Texas! 2017 SXSW Horror Movies http://storiesforghosts.com/deep-heart-texas-2017-sxsw-horror-movies/ http://storiesforghosts.com/deep-heart-texas-2017-sxsw-horror-movies/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 05:21:00 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1770 Spring Break in Texas means a lot of things, like South Padre Island, Mustang Island, and South by South West! I have many a fond memory of my time as a college student in Austin, Texas, too poor and too uncool to go to the exclusive, VIP SXSW events and having to settle for free […]

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Spring Break in Texas means a lot of things, like South Padre Island, Mustang Island, and South by South West!

I have many a fond memory of my time as a college student in Austin, Texas, too poor and too uncool to go to the exclusive, VIP SXSW events and having to settle for free events and waiting in line for screenings and concerts. Most of the time, I could only ever get into the musical events. I dreamed of the day I could afford a VIP pass to the SXSW Film Festival, especially because of all the freakin’ amazing SXSW horror movies there. So many great horror films premiered at SXSW! To name a few of those SXSW horror films, take French-extremism horror film Them, Lake Mungo, Insidious, and The Cabin in the Woods, to name a few.

Sadly, I’m still not in a place where I can take off a whole week to go party in Austin. Someday, I’ll get there. But until then, here’s a list of SXSW horror movies that are premiering this year! I’ve included a synopsis and a trailer if available. Enjoy!

First, the Midnighters category!

In the festival’s own words, the Midnighters category is “Scary, funny, sexy, controversial”, and showcases, “provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.”

  1. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

SXSW Horror

(This movie actually premiered at SXSW in 2006! This screening is special.)

“If Christopher Guest ever turned his attention to psycho killers instead of folk singers and dog breeders, this is exactly the sort of movie he would make.

Set in a world where Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and the like are not only real but celebrity role models for a disturbed hero, Leslie (Nathan Baesel), the movie examines his murderous passions through the eyes of a young filmmaker (Angela Goethals) and her crew…

Appealing more to the brain than to the gut, “Behind the Mask” subtly prods at the sick dance between the news media and ubercriminals without belaboring its point or lowering its tone.”

 

  1. Game of Death

    SXSW horror

    Da fuq is this screengrab?

“Kill or be killed is the golden rule of the Game of Death, which sucks for seven decent-looking young friends who decide to play one sunny day. They quickly and gruesomely realize that if they don’t murder people, their heads will literally explode. Hence, they go on a killing spree, taking the lives of anyone they meet in their middle-of-nowhere town. The killer-instinct in each of them bubbles to the surface as their search for victims unravels into chaos. Divided, terrified and confronted with their own mortality, their drive to survive blurs with their desire to win the game. Will they turn on each other? “Jumanji” meets “Natural Born Killers”… The Game of Death will blow your mind.”

 

  1. Honor Farm 

SXSW Horror

“When Lucy’s prom night falls apart, she finds herself jumping into a hearse headed for a psychedelic party in the woods. Looking for a thrill, the party wanders deeper into the forest, to a haunted prison work farm. A secret wish and a summoning of the dead sends the group on a mind-bending trip that may be a dangerous trap.”

  1. Lake Bodom 

sxsw horror

“Every camper’s worst nightmare came true at Lake Bodom in 1960 when four teenagers were stabbed to death while sleeping in their tent. As the years passed and the case grew cold, the unsolved mystery turned into an urban legend, a creepy campfire story passed from generation to generation.

Now, a group of teenagers arrives at the same campsite, hoping to solve the murder by reconstructing it minute by minute. As night falls, turns out not all of them are there to play.

Tonight… it’s girls against boys. Let the killing games begin.”

 

  1. Mayhem 

sxsw horror

A dangerous virus, one that prevents the infected from controlling their inhibitions, is discovered in a corporate law building, the very same firm that recently cleared an infected man on murder charges. When a quarantine is issued and the building goes on lockdown, all hell breaks loose inside, while a disgruntled employee (Steven Yeun) and an irate client (Samara Weaving) must fight and even kill their way to the top to “have a word” with the corrupt executives who wronged them before time runs out.

 

  1. Meatball Machine Kodoku

sxsw horror

Oh my…

“Nobody knows where they came from. They parasitize in human beings, take control of them and change their bodies into hideous monsters (Necro-borg). The Necro-borg fight each other until the other dies. Where did they come from? To what end? Yuji and Kaoru, whom both have dark secrets within themselves, get caught up in the horrific battles of Necro-borg. What will their fate be?”

LMAO this is one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in a long time! I’m so sad I’m not at SXSW!!!

 

  1. PIG

sxsw horror

“A savage satire of gender politics in America, Adam Mason is guaranteed to shock and offend with “PIG.” Created with actor and long time collaborator Andrew Howard, “PIG” is a virtuoso piece of pure cinema – with the vast majority of the film shot in a single, excruciating take. Less a narrative than a slice of madness – “Pig” pushes gender roles out to wild, lunatic extremes. Boasting a powerhouse performance from Howard in front of the camera and technically dazzling work from Mason behind it, “PIG” creates a truly uncomfortable sense of intimacy and has never been more relevant than in the chaotic time we live in now.”

Apparently this film is BRUTAL. The Austin Chronicle has a great write-up about the storied past of this gruesome and infamously mysterious film. Check it out.

Here’s the trailer. It’s something.

 

  1. Tragedy Girls 

sxsw horror

“Sadie and McKayla are two social-media obsessed best friends who will stop at nothing to build their online following. The self-titled “Tragedy Girls” kidnap Lowell, an unambitious local serial killer, and force him to mentor them into modern horror legends by committing murders to blow up on the internet. As the bodies fall, the girls become national news and panic in their small town hits a fever pitch — just then, Lowell escapes! Now with the local Sheriff closing in and their relationship on the rocks, the girls must rethink their plan before they find themselves the latest victims of their own killing spree.”

 

  1. Two Pigeons

sxsw horror

“Hussein, a wide-boy estate agent, doesn’t realize he’s sharing his apartment with a forgotten stranger, a master of concealment… until his malicious campaign of sweet revenge starts to really hit home.

A roof above our heads is a basic human need so why are we all fighting each other over it?”

 

The next category are the Festival Favorites – “Acclaimed standouts & selected previous premieres from festivals around the world.”

  1. Prevenge 

sxsw horror

“A pitch black, wryly British comedy from the mind of Alice Lowe, “Prevenge” follows Ruth, a pregnant woman on a killing spree that’s as funny as it is vicious. It’s her misanthropic unborn baby dictating Ruth’s actions, holding society responsible for the absence of a father. The child speaks to Ruth from the womb, coaching her to lure and ultimately kill her unsuspecting victims. Struggling with her conscience, loneliness, and a strange strain of prepartum madness, Ruth must ultimately choose between redemption and destruction at the moment of motherhood. “Prevenge” marks the directorial debut from Lowe, who is a triple threat, writing, directing, and acting in the film during her own pregnancy.”

  1. The Transfiguration 

sxsw horror

“An official selection at the Cannes Film Festival [I profiled it here], writer/director Michael O’Shea’s debut feature “The Transfiguration” follows troubled teen Milo who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo’s dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality. A chilling portrait of violence, “The Transfiguration” is an atmospheric thriller set against the grit of New York City.”

 

Are you at SXSW’s Film Festival? Did you see any of the SXSW horror movies? Let me know in the comments!

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Get Out: Entertaining, Challenging, and Required Viewing http://storiesforghosts.com/get-out-entertaining-challenging-and-required-viewing/ http://storiesforghosts.com/get-out-entertaining-challenging-and-required-viewing/#respond Mon, 13 Mar 2017 02:09:36 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1742 *Very Mild Spoilers for Get Out* Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that checks off all my horror-movie boxes. Such a movie strikes a balance between horror and comedy, between jump scares and mounting dread, between imagination and classic genre fare, between a stand-alone story and an important social message. Every once […]

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*Very Mild Spoilers for Get Out*

Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that checks off all my horror-movie boxes. Such a movie strikes a balance between horror and comedy, between jump scares and mounting dread, between imagination and classic genre fare, between a stand-alone story and an important social message.

Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that knocks me back. Holds me in my seat. Grabs me by the throat.

Get Out is the most recent example of such excellent filmmaking. By now you’ve surely heard that the film has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 167 total reviews and an 83% “Universal Acclaim” rating on Metacritic. You might also have read that Get Out is a certified box office smash, grossing $111 million dollars worldwide against a budget of $4.5 million, which is 24x over its budget.

Get Out deserves every good review and every penny it earns. Movies like this make me proud to be a horror fan because they prove how the genre is positioned as uniquely challenging and entertaining art. From its technical execution, to its writing, to its casting, to its deeply relevant social criticism, Get Out will probably be one of the best movies of the year and will undoubtedly be one of the best horror movies of the decade.

There have been tons of think pieces about this film. I’m there will be tons more. This review is one. I know there are people who have explained the importance of this film with far more insight than me. But I feel like I should speak out in support of this film, for many reasons:

  1. Get Out is, simply, a very well-made horror film (and we don’t get enough of those);
  2. Get Out is a horror film that uses the genre to its full potential;
  3. Get Out was written, produced, and directed by a black man. It has a black protagonist. And it has found huge success in an industry that relegates black characters to largely supporting roles;
  4. Get Out challenges the viewer to empathize with a minority segment of the population during a time of national political and social divisiveness.

get out

It’s the razor-sharp indictment of racism in America that makes Get Out an instant classic, a political horror movie that satirizes real-life social interactions instead of politicians. Additionally, Get Out succeeds where many have failed because it doesn’t sacrifice solid filmmaking for its social message. It was made with care, precision, and humanity.

Written, produced, and directed by Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele fame), Get Out is the story of a young man named Chris. At first, he seems to have a great life—he has a great career as a photographer, a posh New York City apartment, an adorable dog, and a pretty girlfriend, Rose. But his comfortable life has deep cracks in it. Chris and Rose are spending the weekend with Rose’s family upstate, and if that wasn’t anxiety-inducing enough, Chris is nervous that Rose’s family won’t approve of him because he’s black and Rose is white. Rose assures him that her family will love him and that they totally aren’t racist. After all, they loved Obama! Putting aside his hesitation, Chris finds the Armitage family to be polite and welcoming, if not a bit…strange. It’s the little things, like how they speak to him, how weird their domestic servants act, and other unexplained occurrences. At first, Chris tries to pass it off as rich white people being ignorant yet harmless. But soon enough Chris realizes that something is very, very wrong in the Armitage house.

get out

First, the film itself.

The nuts and bolts are solid. It’s got a good foundation. Peele knows what he’s doing as if we didn’t already know about his talent from the hilarious and darkly witty Key & Peele.

His writing is great; tight and streamlined. It is elegant, balancing dread and heartbreak and humor. The story moves efficiently. Every scene is purposeful. Every line is paired down to the essential. Every jump scare is expertly placed to raise the tension and make the audience’s experience more sensitive. Peele is careful not to waste scenes or move too quickly through key sequences that build the audience’s empathy towards Chris. With such a strong script, the actors have proper guidance and enough freedom to craft their own characters.

get out

And speaking of crafting roles, the acting is top notch. Peele assembled an excellent cast. Daniel Kaluuya is amazing! He plays Chris with a deft hand, at times imbuing him with confidence and self-assurance, other times with a sense of near-debilitating apprehension. If you watch closely, you can see the subtle transformations when Chris puts up his shield and prepares himself for another uncomfortable encounter. Chris was such a sad character, carrying many burdens from his personal history and the way people treat him. He seems worn by the world, yet he has fight in him. It those careful acting choices that make Chris an engrossing character.

Get-Out

The actors who played the Armitage Family were very good as well. They were all so creepy and fake-polite and passive aggressive that even I felt uncomfortable. It was a shock to see Bradley Whitford and Katherine Keener in such intense roles because I love them so, but they were really fun to watch. Caleb Landry Jones as Jeremy was repulsive in his entitled racism. And Allison Williams as Rose was delightful, in a terrible way. Without giving too much away, she had one of the best roles in the film and the movie would have been weaker had she not done such a good job.

get out

As for other cast members, I just have to say that it was stunning to see these actors absolutely nail their awful, fake, and condescending tones when interacting with Chris. I don’t think I’ve seen such interactions play out on the big screen in a realistic way. It was jarring.

While the cinematography wasn’t the star, I loved the different visual styles. Peele knows his horror movies references them freely, using blurry shots of wilderness to invoke slashers before then switching to precise and Kubrick-esque shots later in the film. He has a really good eye, which isn’t a surprise considering what a film nerd he is.

get out

And being the talented film nerd he is, Peele does an amazing job. On the whole, Get Out is focused and controlled. The plot is relatively simple and straightforward in order to let the characters and their subtle, meaning-laden interactions take centerstage. The film isn’t gory because it doesn’t have to be; Peele knows how to craft genuine suspense without resorting to cheap gimmicks. Most importantly, his deft direction allows the film to explore serious topics like helplessness, autonomy, cultural appropriation, and racial power dynamics. Peele’s instincts are well-precise, because for as thought-out as the film is, his direction allows for scary moments as well as funny ones. Somehow, Get Out doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I think this is largely due to the fact that Peele has lived through similar moments. He didn’t have to be preachy to express it. He just had to be honest.

get out

Get Out uses empathy as its most powerful tool. In this way, the film is groundbreaking. I cannot think of a horror movie that did so successfully rooted the audience in the experience of a black man.

Now, I’m white , so I can speak only to my limited perspective, but this film was deeply uncomfortable for me because I watched a human being be harassed in ways that conjure up ugly racial constructs built upon the intersection of masculinity and blackness. And unlike movies where racism is depicted in slavery and KKK rallies, Get Out focused on perfectly “civil” and “welcoming” white people.

get out

I try to educate myself about these racial constructs. I try to confront my privilege. I try to avoid “white feminism.” I try to keep up with the news. I try to pay attention. I know that racism isn’t a light switch, where you are either accepting of everyone or you like to burn crosses on someone’s front lawn. I recognize that I am privileged in this society. I also recognize that I’ve probably done some very ignorant things in my life, though I hope not. From simply watching Get Out’s trailer, I was forced to confront my understanding of my own limited “wokeness.”

And I was confronted with how truly insidious racism is, as presented in the film. I realized this scenario would never happen to me. If I was a guest in someone’s home and they treated me the way the Armitages treated Chris, with slyly racist comments and rude inquiries, I wouldn’t stand for it. As soon as it became clear that something was amiss, I’d do whatever necessary to leave. If they tried to stop me, I’d throw a fit. If they fought me, I’d scream and thrash. I’d make them think twice before touching me.

BRADLEY WHITFORD and CATHERINE KEENER as Dean and Missy Armitage in "Get Out," a speculative thriller from Blumhouse (producers of "The Visit," "Insidious" series and "The Gift") and the mind of Jordan Peele, when a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend's family estate, he becomes ensnared in a more sinister real reason for the invitation.

That’s the horror of Get Out, isn’t it?

It’s the moment where I realized that, while Chris is rightfully creeped out and scared, he’s so used to this kind of interaction that he doesn’t give credence to his own intuition. It’s the moment where I realized that a lifetime of navigating racism in all forms has conditioned Chris to put things aside, to brush off rude comments, to give these ignorant people the benefit of the doubt when they say something completely inappropriate. (Like that fucked-up conversation Chris has with Rose’s brother about fighting that veered into fetishizing violence and black male bodies? HELL NO.)  Even when he starts to put the pieces together, and he experiences more aggressive and racist behavior, it’s almost as if Chris cannot bring himself to accept his suspicions. He’s been conditioned to disregard his own thoughts and emotions. Even after Rose’s mother hypnotizes him during highly nonconsensual and deeply unethical session, to say the least.

get out

get out

Worst bingo game ever.

A lot of horror movies run through that tired cliche where a character remains in harm’s way despite all the signs. In a brilliant subversion of genre tropes, Get Out demonstrates that everyone understands exactly why Chris doesn’t try to escape right away.

get out

Watching those scenes, I understood. His life and experiences have taught Chris that he stands to lose too much by asserting himself. He might be belittled, shut down, told he was being paranoid, told he was pulling the race card. Someone might gaslight him, get mad at him, turn things around on him, label him the threat. He could get in a lot of trouble. He could get hurt in many ways. Best to be quiet, to not make a fuss, and try to get through it. I recognized how it might feel like there was no other choice. I’ve seen it happen.

Rose and the Armitages are keenly aware of this dynamic and coldly exploit it.

get out

It dawned on me that some situations are never comfortable for a black person. Certain interactions will always be harrowing and exhausting. When Chris confesses, “If there’s too many white people, I get nervous,” I saw the half-embarrassed, half-self-deprecating expression hiding his actual fear. It sounded silly to him on some level, but on a deeper level, it’s the truth.

I walked out stunned. No matter how “woke” I become, there are black people in this country whose experiences make them suspicious of people like me. Who wants to confront the fact that a huge number of people might be wary and fearful of them? Who wants to find out that they’re a potential boogeyman in the eyes of many? And that the fear isn’t misplaced, based on countless real-life events?

get out

After reflecting on the film, I felt ashamed about how I’d assumed I was doing a good job being “woke” and educating myself. I assumed I was helping in some small but measurable way. I am an ally, aren’t I?

And then I thought, this isn’t about me. This is about the pernicious racism black people face and how deeply it affects them. Who wants to live in a place where there are countless people who might want to hurt me just because of my skin color? Who wants to live a life where boogeymen are not only real, but cleverly disguised as a wealthy, polite-but-not-really, cunning family?

I had missed the point, which was that I needed to understand that my worldview was not absolute. Regardless of what I think I’ve done to “make things better,” the whole point was that I acknowledge the perspective presented in Get Out. That I respect the message by identifying my own role apart from how I view myself.

Thus, I ask everyone, especially my white readers, to support this film. Go see it with your eyes and hearts open, with self-awareness and empathy. Pay attention to the story. Allow it to make you uncomfortable. Examine your reactions. What are you really feeling? Why?

And then be sure to share with others what you’ve learned about yourself. Too often, black people are burdened with the task of patiently explaining and defending their experiences to skeptical audiences. Their art and their voices are vital, and while white people like myself should not speak for them, we should do our part to lift up these narratives. Jordan Peele spoke, and I will amplify and bolster his voice.

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March 2017 Horror Movies – Cannibals, Grief, and Workplace Violence http://storiesforghosts.com/march-2017-horror-cannibals-grief-workplace-violence/ http://storiesforghosts.com/march-2017-horror-cannibals-grief-workplace-violence/#respond Sun, 05 Mar 2017 03:07:48 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1738 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 […]

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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!

March 10th

  1. Raw (Limited, then expanding wide on March 17th)

Stringent vegetarian Justine encounters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world during her first week at veterinary school. Desperate to fit in, she strays from her principles and eats raw meat for the first time. The young woman soon experiences terrible and unexpected consequences as her true self begins to emerge.

 I’ve been waiting for this movie for months!!! Since last year’s Cannes Festival, to be exact. Cannibalism is still a huge taboo for literally all of humanity (rightfully so), but horror has normalized it to an extent, particularly within the context of the zombie genre. In a zombie movie, a person eating another person is so routine that that, in and of itself, isn’t shocking.

But when a nice college student starts eating people out of nowhere, you can’t help but take notice. Raw may not be the gore fest it was hyped as, but it is still going to be well worth your money. As Vulture put it, “Raw is certainly nasty, but its gore is strategic and sparse…It is, however, a very stressful film to watch from beginning to end.”

I can’t wait!

 

  1. Personal Shopper (Limited)

A young American in Paris works as a personal shopper for a celebrity. She seems to have the ability to communicate with spirits, like her recently deceased twin brother. Soon, she starts to receive ambiguous messages from an unknown source.

How. Very. FRENCH.

Word is this film isn’t a typical horror movie, so don’t expect jump scares or intense chase scenes. It’s a ghost story wrapped up in a mystery and will feature creepy moments and a slow build of tension. And it won a ton of awards in France, so there’s that.

To be honest, I’m still not totally convinced this is a horror movie or even a “supernatural chiller.” Not every ghost story is horror, so if that’s what you’re looking for, Personal Shopper may not be for you. But I do think that this is a movie worth seeing.

 

March 17th

  1. The Belko Experiment

The American Belko Company in South America is mysteriously sealed off at the start of work, leaving 79 people trapped in an office building, forced to kill each other or be killed.

Work is such a huge part of our lives. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Time Use Survey, employed Americans spend 8.8 hours of the day at work. They also spend 7.8 hours sleeping. That leaves only 7.4 hours to spend time with family, work-out, enjoy leisure activities, clean your house, and anything else you need to get done. Which sucks.

Cue The Belko Experiment, which looks like a cross between Office Space and Battle Royale and combines all the awkwardness of the office with murderous group dynamics. The central premise of the film seems to be commentary not only on shallow nature of the office social structure, but the corporate attitude towards expendable employees. It’s a rather obvious metaphor, but it could be powerful.

 

  1. The Devil’s Candy (Limited)

“A struggling painter is possessed by satanic forces after he and his family move into their dream home.”

I have to confess that this kind of film didn’t seem like my cup of tea. At first. However, I noticed several details and read some reviews. Now I think, you know what, maybe I will see this. It’s not my thing, but it seems promising for several reasons.

For one, the film stars Pruitt Taylor Vince, a character actor who I know best as Gerry Schnauz, a serial killer featured in The X-Files episode “Unruhe.” That episode messed me up. It actually still messes me up every time I watch it. And Mr. Vince is a large part of my experience. At the very least then, The Devil’s Candy has a formidable villain. And with Ethan Embry of Can’t Hardly Wait fame turning in a performance as a tortured artist and family man, I got to say that this cast looks great.

The film has also garnered mixed to positive reviews, which isn’t surprising considering the director is none other than Sean Byrne, whose debut was delightfully wicked film The Loved Ones. The Guardian’s review said that The Devil’s Candy “plays with the formalism of classic 1970s and 1980s horror” and is “as much a love letter to the various branches of the metal family tree as it is an exercise in tightly wound classic horror.”

Sometimes I find good horror in the most unexpected places. Maybe The Devil’s Candy will be that movie.

 

March 24th

  1. Life

Life tells the story of the six-member crew of the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As the crew begins to conduct research, their methods end up having unintended consequences and the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.”

Alright, who else thinks this looks like an updated Alien without the grim spaceship and huge xenomorph? The whole premise is that a spaceship crew encounters extraterrestrial life and things go horribly wrong. This isn’t a bad premise, but we’ve definitely seen this before. Or have we?

I think the most interesting thing about Life could be the actual lifeform. I like the idea of dispensing with a big scary monster and using a smaller though no less vicious organism. Alien is one of the finest horror movies made and the monster is nightmare fuel, but that taps into our preexisting fears of big animals, right? But something without the characteristics of an animal, no arms, no stingers, no teeth—it’s a different challenge, isn’t it? How would you stop something so small?

Yeah, this looks like a rehash upon first glance. But I don’t want to write-off Life just yet.

 

  1. Prevenge (Limited)

“Widow Ruth is seven months pregnant when, believing herself to be guided by her unborn baby, she embarks on a homicidal rampage, dispatching anyone who stands in her way.”

Another unexpected entry, Prevenge hits a personal nerve for me. Like many young women my age, I am constantly asked about my plans to start a family. At times, I field everything from unsolicited advice about having a baby before thirty to helpful yet awkward tips on how to conceive. People mean well, but it’s very strange to be the target of such attention. I sometimes feel like it’s not really about me but about the baby, and I am a means to an end.

Which brings me to Prevenge, and its satire of this societal attitude that a baby calls all the shots. How far does this attitude extend? Where is the line between “The baby wants you to eat four cheeseburgers” and “The baby wants you to pick up unsuspecting men and murder them?” It sounds absurd, but I think that’s the point. I love it. I really want to see it.

 

  1. Dig Two Graves (Limited)

“After 13-year-old Jacqueline Mather loses her brother in a mysterious drowning accident, she is soon visited by three moonshiners who offer to bring him back to life, but at a grim cost. As the dark history of her grandfather, Sheriff Waterhouse, is unearthed, the true intentions of the moonshiners come to light.

Oooo, what a pretty little southern gothic tale we have here!

I want to see this movie just for the cinematography, but I’m also intrigued by the story. It’s bad enough that when a grieving young girl makes a deadly bargain with three strangers straight out of Something Wicked This Way Comes, but it’s even worse that there’s some dark family secret at work. Dig Two Graves seems every bit the tense horror movie about grief, regrets, and creepy snake-worshipping rituals I didn’t know I wanted.

 

  1. The House on Willow Street (Limited)

Kidnappers realize they’re in over their heads when they take a woman with a dangerous secret.

Someone in the comments described this trailer as Don’t Breathe plus Evil Dead, which I felt was really spot on. I don’t have much to add to that assessment other than IFC Midnight hasn’t put out too many impressive horror movies. So, while The House on Willow Street looks a little better than the standard fair, it also looks jumbled and riddled with clichés from many different horror subgenres.

Ehhh, I’ll pass.

 

March 31st

  1. The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Limited)

During the dead of winter, a troubled young woman embarks on a mysterious journey to an isolated prep school where two stranded students face a sinister threat from an unseen evil force.

Can this movie come out already? It feels like it’s been eighty-four years. Normally it’s a bad sign when a film’s release date is delayed numerous times.

However, I’m hoping that it was well-worth the weight, especially know that distribution heavy-hitter A24 has acquired rights to the film. If you’re not playing along at home, A24 distributed Best Picture Winner Moonlight, along with critically acclaimed films like The Witch, Room, and Ex Machina.

And if this brand-new trailer is any indication, The Blackcoat’s Daughter looks like a dark, moody number with atmospheric dread to spare. I’m hopeful.

 

  1. Here Alone (Limited)

A woman struggles to survive on her own in the wake of a mysterious epidemic, which has decimated society and forced her deep into the unforgiving wild.

We’re all very tired of zombie/survival horror movies, right? I know I am. And yet, Here Alone seems promising.

Not every movie has to be an epic like World War Z, where the audience witnesses the complete desolation of human civilization. There can and should be more intimate stories, tales of individuals struggling in the aftermath. That’s where the humanity of the disaster lies. That’s where more hard hitting, emotional horror can be harvested.

When it comes to this film, I like that the scope of the story is so small. It’s about one woman who, like everyone else, survived the outbreak and is desperately fighting to survive longer. I really like how the movie creates her world for us. And I like how there’s a mystery surrounding the fate of her family. Here Alone seems poised to be a thoughtful, well-crafted zombie movie delivering both scares and difficult emotional moments.

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Blood, Guts, and Politics: 11 Political Horror Movies http://storiesforghosts.com/blood-guts-politics-political-horror-movies/ http://storiesforghosts.com/blood-guts-politics-political-horror-movies/#respond Wed, 01 Mar 2017 05:08:37 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1719 *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 […]

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*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?

As has been made clear time and time again, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes our authority figures let us down. Sometimes they mess sup really bad and people get hurt. Sometimes we turn against our fellow Americans when we should band together. It’s hard to be sure if a threat exists, or what or who it is.

As I’ve been reflecting on the current political environment, I’ve been thinking a lot about the following political horror movies. It’s no secret that many horror movies explore themes regarding contentious political issues, like racism, feminism, abortion, class conflict, and war. I chose these political horror movies for their particular aim in using horror to explore the ways in which group dynamics play out, how leaders rise and fall, and how power changes people for better or worse. In short, the following American horror films address governance and our American group identity in ways that are scarily relevant.

Most of the political horror movies on this list ask these same questions, particularly after times of unrest and turmoil. After all our talk about doing the right thing, will the right bad situation make liars of us all?

political horror

  1. 2000 Maniacs (1964)

In this movie, an entire southern town traps and murders six unlucky yankee teenagers in revenge for the deaths of 2000 Confederate soldiers, slain by Union forces 100 years earlier. Obviously that description invokes the tension borne by the American Civil War, but consider as well the political context in which this film was released.

The early 1960s saw a huge shift in the Civil Rights movement, with marches, sit-ins, and Supreme Court cases that struck down various elements of institutionalized racism. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963. In November 1962, President Kennedy used Executive Order 11063 to ban discrimination in federal housing practices. The Civil Rights Act was working its way through Congress in 1963. On June 11, 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace physically blocked the integration of two black students into the University of Alabama and President Kennedy called in the National Guard to remove him.

Obviously, racist southerners did not take too kindly to the use of Federal force to win another war, this time for civil rights. We’ve all seen the pictures of angry white people screaming and throwing things at students. We’ve seen pictures of white officers beating black demonstrators in the streets. And yet this stereotype of southern hospitality and charm persists.

With all this in mind, 2000 Maniacs asks some chilling questions: What if the caricature of uncivilized the southern redneck was not only real, but way worse than you ever imagined? What if that charming southern hospitality masks a deep brutality? What if the weird hokey customs were more sinister than you ever thought? And what if your fear that southerners harbor a not-so secret resentment and hatred towards people who threaten their way of life? What if they never let go of the fact that someone more powerful forced them to give up their way of life?

I’m not saying all Southerners are like this. But enough people are, in all regions of the country. And those people who resisted Federal enforcement of basic civil rights for African Americans didn’t go anywhere. A lot of them are still here, hiding behind a smile and a folksy accent.

 

political horror

  1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Really, I could have used any George A. Romero zombie film for this list, but I think that Night of the Living Dead is one of his best and most subversive films. This film deals explicitly with threats from within the community and from within the family unit. Neighbor turns against neighbor. Brother turns against sister. Daughter turns against parents. The dead turn against the living. All of those nice, conservative 1950s ideals about family and community are dashed.

The film’s claustrophobic farmhouse setting reflects the cultural and socio-political upheaval of the 1960s, coming off the red-scare of the 1950s, and with added pressure from the hugely unpopular Vietnam War. Everyone in the film is on edge. Everyone has their own ideas of how to fix things and fears things will only get worse. All the infighting serves only to distract from the greater threat of communism and war and “subversive elements”…I mean…. zombies.

Additionally, one of the most subversive parts of Night of the Living Dead is the fact that Duane Jones, a black actor, was cast in the lead role of tough, smart, and cool-under-pressure Ben. Not only did he prove to be the film’s most competent character, but he also thrashed a white patriarch for being an insufferable douchebag who wouldn’t admit that Ben was the natural leader. Ben earned his role as the leader of the group and lives longer than anyone else in the group. This casting choice was hugely important to representations of black people and forced audiences to question their own attitudes. Romero’s decision, intentional or accidental, was a ballsy stroke of genius.

 

political horror

  1. The Omen (1976)

The Omen, like many horror films in the 1970s, was born of the cultural and political tension of the early 1970s. There was much distrust among the American people due to the tumultuous environment created by America’s own leaders and authority figures.  While the situation is much more complicated than that, and it’s another discussion about whether or not that’s fair, the fact is that many Americans felt extremely resentful of those in power. It’s not too far a stretch to see how this attitude would inform The Omen a movie where a perfectly pleasant, rich, powerful ambassador and his nice wife become the adopted parents of the literal antichrist, a creepy little boy who ends up in the custody of the President.

In The Omen, evil appears in the least expected form and completely fools the political elite. No one realizes the gravity of the situation until it’s too late. For this reason, the film is notable, since most horror films involve victims who are average, normal Americans. Not only had our political elites endangered the nation’s global standing with the Vietnam War and compromised our values with the Watergate scandal, now they had ushered the Antichrist into the world. They elites were the ones who messed up, naïvely assuming their position and privilege would protect them and nothing bad would ever happen to them. They were not as smart as they thought, and we would all pay for their mistakes.

 

political horror

  1. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

The original The Hills Have Eyes is a classic of 1970s low-budget horror and one of Wes Craven’s first big films. Craven’s film took aim at our beliefs about members of marginalized society, the socio-economic tensions of American life, and most of all, the fragility of our own “civilized” nature.

The Hills Have Eyes is a story about two families caught in a violent, zero-sum game. One family is modeled on ideas of a wholesome American family while the other is the exact opposite. One family realizes violence is the only thing that will save them while the other uses violence and cannibalism to survive. The surviving family members succumb to brutality and questionable acts, just like the other family does. Both sides are desperate and angry and savagery ensues.

The slide into barbarism is a theme that appears often in Craven’s films. In this instance, The Hills Have Eyes and other films from this period were his way of criticizing the Vietnam War. More pointedly, however, were his criticisms about the American reaction to violence in Vietnam. In an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, Craven said:

“I felt like America as a whole country – myself was becoming immune to violence. We were watching it – I literally was watching people dying on my television screen while I was eating dinner, you know, and several times caught myself, you know, with mouthfuls of food and nausea coming over me with – what? You know, this is horrible. I mean, this is really horrible.”

While he didn’t explicitly decry war, Craven had deep concerns about the effect of war and violence on the population, and was able to (ironically) use horror to warn against it. He wanted us to recognize what we are all capable of, should we become desperate and angry enough.

 

political horror

  1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of my favorite horror remakes ever. The original 1956 version dealt with Americans’ fears of the “red scare” and an impending Soviet invasion. The 1978 version picks up where the original left off, combining Cold War fears with fresh anxieties about the Watergate Scandal and Vietnam, the effect of which were so shocking and existentially damaging that I’m not sure we will ever fully recover as a nation.

As in the original, the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers told the story of an alien race that comes to earth to quickly and quietly invade, replacing our loved ones and authority figures with creepy, sinister copies. There is no one to trust and nowhere to hide. The worst part is that the infected human beings aren’t transformed into mindless zombies. The aliens steal thoughts and memories, stepping into the bodies of humans, and feeding their own greed and consumption. In this way, the film hits on everything from growing paranoia and loss of faith in our elected officials, suspicious about our neighbors, and American consumerism.

And even though the aliens assure their victims that they will have the same memories and thoughts, that they can “have the same life,” the message of compliance struck nerves all across America. What is a smooth, trouble-free life if you are not really free? Another question lingers—What if we wouldn’t really mind all that much, despite our confessed dedication to liberty?

 

political horror

  1. They Live (1988)

They Live is such an 80s movie, and I’m not just talking about just the clothes and the Wayfarer knock-offs and the mullets. (Lord, the mullets!) No, the specter of President Ronald Reagan and trickle-down economics looms large. While some Americans may remember Reagan’s America as stable and profitable, loads of other Americans never saw the benefits of Reagan’s tax cuts, let alone the jobs that were supposed to be magically created as a result of trickle-down economics. Not to mention Reagan’s apathy to the AIDS crisis or how his repeal of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 led to a dramatic increase in violent crimes perpetrated by mentally ill individuals.

They Live pits a working-class everyman against a race of aliens that have successfully infiltrated and brainwashed America. They have seized power and seek to further solidify their position at the expense of the powerless. To make matters worse, a select few humans help the aliens, eager to be rewarded in the impending new world order. It’s not hard to see this film as an indictment of 80s conservatives or yuppie culture.

But I digress. Director John Carpenter has admitted that They Live was about “giving the finger to Reagan when nobody else would.” Specifically, Carpenter took aim at the materialism, consumerism, and the smothering influence of the so-called “moral majority” of 1980s America. I wrote a whole post about it here. Carpenter’s point, of course, is that those people telling you what to buy and how to buy it and what to consume and when to reproduce probably do not have your best interests at heart.

After all, healthy skepticism is very American.

 

political horror

  1. The People Under the Stairs (1991)

While I admit it’s not Wes Craven’s best film by any metric, I’m surprised this movie isn’t more well-known based on its political satire. Craven wasn’t even subtle: he called out the institutions maintaining the socio-economic status quo and those who benefitted from them. He fired shots. He emptied the whole clip. And he did that by savagely lampooning Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

In The People Under the Stairs, the main villains are “Daddy” and “Mommy” Robeson, an incestuous brother-and-sister pair that take advantage of their impoverished black tenants, abduct and abuse children, scream about their moral superiority, lie to the cops and are generally f*cking terrifying. Not-Ronald-Reagan and Not-Nancy-Reagan also keep a horde of maimed, crazed people, all white, in their basement. They are all the children who “were bad” and who had to be punished by Daddy. It’s completely messed up. And that’s not even touching the scene where Daddy runs around in a Pulp-Fiction-esque gimp suit, wielding a shot gun, trying to kill the black child protagonist of the film.

There’s even a scene where Daddy kills Leroy, who is black, and feeds his body to the horde of starving white people in the basement. I could not help but think of this Martin Luther King Jr. quote, an association I’m sure was intentional:

“If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. He gave him Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man.”

Because when push comes to shove, is it really that much better to be imprisoned in a basement and fed human flesh? Aren’t Daddy and Mommy Robeson the ones we should focus on?

 

political horror

  1. The Village (2004)

It’s human nature to grieve and withdraw from the outside world when the going gets tough. As Americans, we have this image of how “resilient” and “strong” we are. To a degree, it’s true. We are a persistent, tenacious lot. (I am proud of that to a very American degree, come at me bro.) But we aren’t bulletproof. We’re not superhuman. We are vulnerable and no degree of stability or illusion of safety changes that. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to manipulate you and you should be wary. Sometimes, Americans forget this and we react badly when tragedy strikes.

Cue The Village, which explored themes of political and social isolation in the wake of 9/11. The film tackles that misconception that nothing bad can happen to us on our own soil, that we can take drastic precautions to “secure” safety. We’ve done this before—rounded up Japanese people in internment camps, turned away boats full of Jewish people fleeing the Holocaust, increased surveillance post 9/11. While such efforts don’t work to keep out real threats, we tend to neglect this lesson. It didn’t stop the village elders from doing their best to implement their drastic precautions. That hasn’t stopped some of our political leaders from doing the same over the course of American history.

It’s a pity this film wasn’t better, because it could have been an instant classic, relevant not just for the atmosphere of fear post-9/11, but for our history in general.

 

political horror

  1. The Mist (2007)

What better movie to talk about complicated group dynamics and the resulting power struggles than The Mist? Forget the bad CGI and questionable acting from some of the cast, because the Mist is at its best when it lets Marcia Gay Harden go off the rails, whipping half the town into religious frenzy and terrifying the rest.

Religion and politics go hand in hand. America is no different, despite that pesky Establishment Clause. The Salem Witch Trials, justifications for slavery and Jim Crow, blue laws, the Reagan-era moral majority, arguments against teaching evolution and sex education in classrooms—this is our thing, and we’re pretty good at it.

And so of course this exact thing would happen in The Mist, where all sorts of strange and horrifying monsters besiege a small Maine town. In the best part of the movie, when the townspeople learn that their own government conducted top secret experiments and unleashed their collective nightmare, the zealotry becomes hysteria. The familiar toxic infighting and religious justification erupts and the townspeople turn on each other. The majority of the are utterly convinced God is on their side, so much so they sacrifice a man to appease Him and prove to the non-believers that they’re right. Being right is most important.

In a film filled with chilling ideas, the most chilling show easily the townspeople fell into mania. They were all “regular” and “rational” people, until the mist arrived.

 

political horror

  1. The Crazies (2010)

I know this is a remake of another political horror film The Crazies (1973), directed by George A. Romero. That version is good too, but I like the remake better. To me, it’s the more relevant film in the age of drones and government surveillance.

As with many “zombie” movies, The Crazies has two villains – the hyper-aggressive infected and the militarized quarantine force. In comparing the two movies, I was intrigued by how the remake portrayed the army. In the 1973 version, the film’s narrative is split between the townspeople grappling with the outbreak and the army trying to contain the leak. The army isn’t portrayed as all-powerful. The film makes a point to show you how much they messed up and how difficult it is to contain the situation. Given the historical contest, it’s easy to see this depiction as analogous to attitudes many Americans held about the military post-Vietnam.

But in the remake, the narrative cuts out the army’s side of the story relegating them to faceless, intimidating authoritarians. This makes the army’s presence all the more sinister and frightening. Without warning, soldiers descend upon the town, commandeer resources, round up citizens, and execute people without any kind of due process. All in the name of containing some kind of top secret toxin. Not only are these events deeply unjust, they reflect a deeply held human fear of those in power, the same fear many Americans have.

Specifically, The Crazies remake reflects a national mistrust and fear of military intervention. We hear and watch stories of military raids on both domestic and foreign soil. Our police have become dramatically militarized post-9/11. As we’ve struggled with our national security in the wake of the attacks, there has been a surge in conspiracy theories and a mistrust. Deep down, we’re afraid of the police and the military, afraid of how they might be used against us. What happens when we’re on the wrong side during a martial law situation and our constitutional rights are no longer in effect? If the government sees us as disposable?

 

political horror

  1. The Purge Series (2013 – 2016)

This is an obvious pick, but very appropriate one.

I’ll be honest with you, these movies aren’t as smart as they want to be, but they’re also not a bad as people claim. They delve deeper into disturbing and uncomfortable territory than many horror films, let alone films that confront similar themes. What I’ve always liked about The Purge movies is how unafraid it is to point out hypocrisy. It’s done in a ham-fisted way most of the time, but yeah, these movies go there and that’s important. Armed with incendiary symbolism and a diverse cast, the Purge series is committed to throwing hard questions about race and class at the audience with striking albeit contrived plot points.

It’s astonishing that The Purge cast a black man as the victim of a gang of snooty white kids, at the mercy of a wealthy white family who profits off the annual Purge. It’s audacious that The Purge: Anarchy depicts a sick, aged black man sacrificing himself to a rich white family because it was the only way to set up a nest egg for his family. And, holy shit, The Purge: Election Year depicts a bunch of powerful white men murdering a drug addict in a church before preparing to “sacrifice” a troublemaking female presidential candidate on the altar.

Shots fired, am I right?

These are powerful, provocative images that strike a lot of nerves. These movies wouldn’t be so popular if they didn’t hit upon the truth, however rendered, and for that reason alone The Purge series deserves a closer look, cheesiness and all.

 

Do you know of any other insightful political horror  films? Let me know in the comments!

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Horror Movies at the Academy Awards – A Complete List http://storiesforghosts.com/horror-movies-academy-awards-complete-list/ http://storiesforghosts.com/horror-movies-academy-awards-complete-list/#respond Sat, 25 Feb 2017 08:10:09 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1674 The Academy Awards are this weekend, and I’m excited! I’m a huge film buff and enjoy watching the Academy Awards every year. I strive to see all the Best pictures, even if I don’t agree with the choices. Despite my love and respect for the Academy Awards, I am disappointed that many excellent films are […]

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The Academy Awards are this weekend, and I’m excited! I’m a huge film buff and enjoy watching the Academy Awards every year. I strive to see all the Best pictures, even if I don’t agree with the choices. Despite my love and respect for the Academy Awards, I am disappointed that many excellent films are completely overlooked by the Academy. Especially horror films.

I shouldn’t be surprised. The Academy has a lot of issues. The Academy is a notoriously conservative body, reluctant to reward risks or give credit to inventive and brave filmmaking. Lately it seems like the more popular a film is, the worst its chances are for receiving any kind of recognition from the Academy, though there are notable exceptions. Why does the Academy pick certain films over others? I have no idea.

And while horror is criminally underrated and underappreciated genre, turning out well-made and culturally resonate films, there have been several films that the Academy has lauded for achievements in directing, acting, cinematography, and other facets of filmmaking.

Consequently, in honor of the 89th Academy Awards, I decided to compile a list of all the films that have been nominated and have won Oscars. The list is longer than I thought it would be, but it’s still nowhere near where it should be. I can only hope that more and more excellent horror films come out with enough studio support to be serious Oscar contenders.

academy awards

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

  • Synopsis: Testing his theory that in every man dwells a good and an evil force, the reserved Dr. Jekyll (Fredric March) develops a formula that separates the two, turning him into a violent ruffian named Mr. Hyde. Thinking he has found the answer to one of life’s grandest mysteries, Dr. Jekyll soon realizes he is becoming addicted to his darker self as he unleashes his violent side on earthy dance hall girl Ivy (Miriam Hopkins) and fights Hyde to regain control of his body.
  • Nominated: Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominee – Fredric March, Best Cinematography Nominee, Best Adapted Screenplay Nominee
  • Won: Best Actor in a Leading Role – Fredric March

academy awards

 

Rebecca (1940)

  • Synopsis: Story of a young woman who marries a fascinating widower only to find out that she must live in the shadow of his former wife, Rebecca, who died mysteriously several years earlier. The young wife must come to grips with the terrible secret of her handsome, cold husband, Max De Winter (Laurence Olivier). She must also deal with the jealous, obsessed Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), the housekeeper, who will not accept her as the mistress of the house.
  • Nominated: Best Picture, Won, Best Cinematography Won, Best Director – Alfred Hitchcock, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor – Laurence Olivier, Best Actress – Joan Fontaine, Best Supporting Actress – Judith Anderson, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects
  • Won 2 Academy Awards: Best Picture, and Best Cinematography

 academy awards

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

  • Synopsis: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1941 horror film starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner.
  • Nominated: Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture
  • Won: none

 academy awards

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

  • Synopsis: A corrupt young man somehow keeps his youthful beauty, but a special painting gradually reveals his inner ugliness to all.
  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Angela Lansbury (!), Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
  • Won: Best Cinematography, Black-and-White

academy awards

The Bad Seed (1956)

  • Synopsis: Air Force Colonel Kenneth Penmark (William Hopper) and his wife, Christine (Nancy Kelly), dote on their pig-tailed daughter, Rhoda (Patty McCormack) — as does their lonely landlady, Monica Breedlove (Evelyn Varden). But self-centered Rhoda has a secret tendency for selfishness and loves to accumulate gifts, whether given or stolen, in her room. Christine keeps her knowledge of her daughter’s darker side to herself, but when a schoolmate of Rhoda’s dies mysteriously, her self-deception unravels.
  • Nominated: Best Actress – Nancy Kelly, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Eileen Heckart, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Patty McCormack, Best Cinematography (Black-and-White)
  • Won: none

academy awards

Psycho (1960)

  • Synopsis: A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
  • Nominated: Best Director – Alfred Hitchcock, Best Supporting Actress – Janet Leigh, Best Cinematography, Black-and White, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White
  • Won: none

academy awards

Kwaidan (1965)

  • Synopsis: Taking its title from an archaic Japanese word meaning “ghost story,” this anthology adapts four folk tales. A penniless samurai (Rentarô Mikuni) marries for money with tragic results. A man stranded in a blizzard is saved by Yuki the Snow Maiden (Keiko Kishi), but his rescue comes at a cost. Blind musician Hoichi (Katsuo Nakamura) is forced to perform for an audience of ghosts. An author (Osamu Takizawa) relates the story of a samurai who sees another warrior’s reflection in his teacup.
  • Nominated: Best Foreign Language Film
  • Won: n/a

academy awards

Wait Until Dark (1967)

  • Synopsis: A recently blinded woman is terrorized by a trio of thugs while they search for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment.
  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Leading Role – Audrey Hepburn
  • Won: none

academy awards

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

  • Synopsis: This brilliant adaptation of Ira Levin’s best-selling novel is the story of a loving young New York City couple who are expecting their first child. Like most first-time mothers, Rosemary experiences confusion and fear. Her husband, an ambitious but unsuccessful actor, makes a pact with the devil that promises to send his career skyward.
  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Ruth Gordon, Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Won: Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Ruth Gordon

academy awards

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

*note* I know some people don’t think this is a horror movie, but I disagree. A Clockwork Orange was designed to produce horror and disgust in its audience, so it counts. Deal with it.

  • Synopsis: Based on Anthony Burgess’s disturbing novel about England in the totalitarian future, Malcolm McDowell portrays Alex, a Beethoven-loving, head-bashing punk who leads his gang of droogs on ultra-violent assaults–until he is captured by authorities and subjected to nasty behavior-modification therapy.
  • Nominated: Best Director – Stanley Kubrick, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay – Stanley Kubrick
  • Won: none

academy awards

The Exorcist (1973)

  • Synopsis: When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd — levitating, speaking in tongues — her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Jason Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (Max von Sydow) to help with the difficult job.
  • Nominated: Best Picture – William Peter Blatty, Best Actress – Ellen Burstyn, Best Supporting Actor – Jason Miller, Best Supporting Actress – Linda Blair, Best Director – William Friedkin, Writing Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing
  • Won 2 Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor – Jason Miller, Best Production Design

academy awards

Jaws (1975)

  • Synopsis: A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers until a part-time sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down.
  • Nominated: for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Sound
  • Won 3 Academy Awards: Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Sound

academy awards

Carrie (1976)

  • Synopsis: Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom.
  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Leading Role –Sissy Spacek, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Piper Laurie
  • Won: none

academy awards

The Omen (1976)

  • Synopsis: Mysterious deaths surround an American ambassador. Could the child that he is raising actually be the Antichrist? The Devil’s own son?
  • Nominated: Best Original Score, Best Original Song for “Ave Satani”
  • Won: Best Original Score

How did “Ave Satani” lose?!?! And to “Evergreen”, from freaking A Star is Born? A song that has such profound lyrics as “Love soft as an easy chair/Love fresh as the morning air”? The fuck? What in the actual fuck? I almost clawed my face off.  It should have been a fight between “Ave Satani” and “Gonna Fly Now” which is the goddamned ROCKY THEME SONG! Get the hell out of here, Academy voters.

 academy awards

 

Alien (1979)

  • Synopsis: A ship sent to investigate an SOS distress call encounters an alien that begins to kill the crew members one by one.
  • Nominated: Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects
  • Won: Best Visual Effects (Who else would be able to compete?)

 academy awards

The Amityville Horror (1979)

  • Synopsis: Newlyweds move into a large house where a mass murder was committed, and experience strange manifestations which drive them away.
  • Nominated: Best Original Score
  • Won: none.

academy awards 

Altered States – 1980

  • Synopsis: In this 1980 sci-fi horror film, William Hurt plays Eddie Jessup, a scientist obsessed with discovering mankind’s true role in the universe. To this end, he submits himself to a series of mind-expanding experiments. By enclosing himself in a sensory-deprivation chamber and taking hallucinogenic drugs, Jessup hopes to explore different levels of human consciousness, but instead is devolved into an apelike monster.
  • Nominated: Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing
  • Won: None

academy awards

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

  • Synopsis: David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), two American college students, are backpacking through Britain when a large wolf attacks them. David survives with a bite, but Jack is brutally killed. As David heals in the hospital, he’s plagued by violent nightmares of his mutilated friend, who warns David that he is becoming a werewolf. When David discovers the horrible truth, he contemplates committing suicide before the next full moon causes him to transform from man to murderous beast.
  • Nominated: Best Makeup and Hairstyling Winner
  • Won: Best Makeup and Hairstyling Winner

In case you didn’t know, this was the very first award for Best Makeup.

 academy awards

Poltergeist (1982)

  • Synopsis: A family’s home is haunted by a host of ghosts.
  • Nominated: Academy Award for Best Sound Editing, Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, Academy Award for Best Original Score
  • Won: None

academy awards

Aliens (1986)

  • Synopsis: 57 years after the original attack, Ripley and a crew of marines return to the planet to kill the remaining aliens that have slaughtered the colonists on the planet.
  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Leading Role – Sigourney Weaver, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Music, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.
  • Won 2 Academy Awards: Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects

academy awards

The Fly (1986)

  • Synopsis: When scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to him, a housefly slips in during the process, leading to a merger of man and insect. Initially, Brundle appears to have undergone a successful teleportation, but the fly’s cells begin to take over his body. As he becomes increasingly fly-like, Brundle’s girlfriend (Geena Davis) is horrified as the person she once loved deteriorates into a monster.
  • Nominated: Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Won: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

academy awards

Misery (1990)

  • Synopsis: After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.
  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Leading Role – Kathy Bates
  • Won: Best Actress in a Leading Role – Kathy Bates

academy awards

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

  • Synopsis: A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
  • Nominated: Best Picture, Best Director – Jonathan Demme, Best Actor – Anthony Hopkins, Best Actress – Jodie Foster, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing
  • Won 5 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director – Jonathan Demme, Best Actor – Anthony Hopkins, Best Actress – Jodie Foster, Best Adapted Screenplay

The five awards listed above are what’s known as The Big Five. And The Silence of the Lambs is only the third film in history to win The big Five.

academy awards

The Addams Family (1991)

  • Synopsis: Con artists plan to fleece an eccentric family using an accomplice who claims to be their long-lost uncle.
  • Nominated: Best Costume Nominee
  • Won: none

academy awards

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

  • Synopsis:The vampire comes to England to seduce a visitor’s fiancée and inflict havoc in the foreign land.
  • Nominated: Best Costume Design – Eiko Ishioka (an actual legend, btw), Best Sound Editing, Best Makeup, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration
  • Won 3 Academy Awards: Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Makeup

academy awards

Addams Family Values (1993)

  • Synopsis: A comical Gothic horror-movie-type family tries to rescue their beloved uncle from his gold-digging new love.
  • Nominated: Best Art Direction
  • Won: none

 academy awards

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)

  • Synopsis: When the brilliant but unorthodox scientist Victor Frankenstein rejects the artificial man that he has created, the Creature escapes and later swears revenge.
  • Nominated: Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Won: none

academy awards

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

  • Synopsis: Louis is lured by the supremely evil and charismatic vampire Lestat into the immortality of the damned, then tormented by an unalterable fact of vampire life: to survive, he must kill. One lifetime alone offers plenty of opportunities for the savage revelries of the night. Imagine what an eternity can bring.
  • Nominated: Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Original Score
  • Won: none

academy awards

The Sixth Sense (1999)

  • Synopsis: Young Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is haunted by a dark secret: he is visited by ghosts. Cole is frightened by visitations from those with unresolved problems who appear from the shadows. He is too afraid to tell anyone about his anguish, except child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis). As Dr. Crowe tries to uncover the truth about Cole’s supernatural abilities, the consequences for client and therapist are a jolt that awakens them both to something unexplainable.
  • Nominated: Best Picture, Best Director – M. Night Shyamalan, Best Supporting Actor – Haley Joel Osment, Best Supporting Actress – Toni Collette, Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay
  • Won: none

academy awards

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

  • Synopsis: Set in 1799, “Sleepy Hollow” is based on Washington Irving’s classic tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Faithful to the dreamy custom-bound world that Irving paints in his story, the film mixes horror, fantasy and romance and features an extraordinary cast of characters that dabble in the supernatural.
  • Nominated: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design
  • Won: Best Art Direction

academy awards

The Cell (2000)

  • Synopsis: An FBI agent persuades a social worker, who is adept with a new experimental technology, to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to learn where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim.
  • Nominated: Best Makeup
  • Won: none

academy awards

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

  • Synopsis: The filming of Nosferatu (1922) is hampered by the fact that its star Max Schreck is taking the role of a vampire far more seriously than seems humanly possible.
  • Nominated: Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Willem Dafoe, Best Makeup
  • Won: none

academy awards

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

  • Synopsis: In 1944 Spain young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her ailing mother (Ariadna Gil) arrive at the post of her mother’s new husband (Sergi López), a sadistic army officer who is trying to quell a guerrilla uprising. While exploring an ancient maze, Ofelia encounters the faun Pan, who tells her that she is a legendary lost princess and must complete three dangerous tasks in order to claim immortality.
  • Nominated: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film
  • Won 2 Academy Awards: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup

academy awards

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

  • Synopsis: Evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) lusts for the beautiful wife of a London barber (Johnny Depp) and transports him to Australia for a crime he did not commit. Returning after 15 years and calling himself Sweeney Todd, the now-mad man vows revenge, applying his razor to unlucky customers and shuttling the bodies down to Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), who uses them in her meat-pie shop. Though many fall to his blade, he will not be satisfied until he slits Turpin’s throat.
  • Nominated: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Johnny Depp, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction
  • Won: Best Art Direction

academy awards

The Wolfman (2010)

  • Synopsis: A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him cannot possibly exist.
  • Nominated: Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Won: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

academy awards

Black Swan (2010)

  • Synopsis: A committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity.
  • Nominated: Best Picture, Best Actress – Natalie Portman, Best Director – Darren Aronofsky, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing
  • Won: Best Actress – Natalie Portman

 

 

 

 

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A Cure for Wellness – Beautiful and Creepy, But Underdeveloped http://storiesforghosts.com/cure-for-wellness-beautiful-creepy-underdeveloped/ http://storiesforghosts.com/cure-for-wellness-beautiful-creepy-underdeveloped/#respond Thu, 16 Feb 2017 06:15:36 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1655 *Mild spoilers for A Cure for Wellness* Some horror movies are simply transcendent. Such films function on multiple planes and deliver on every level of filmmaking—acting, writing, editing, cinematography, and direction. They are frightening and entertaining stories that craft pointed arguments about the human condition and, well, scary shit. Those films add to our understanding […]

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*Mild spoilers for A Cure for Wellness*

Some horror movies are simply transcendent. Such films function on multiple planes and deliver on every level of filmmaking—acting, writing, editing, cinematography, and direction. They are frightening and entertaining stories that craft pointed arguments about the human condition and, well, scary shit. Those films add to our understanding of the dark places where we dare not tread.

Other films aspire to those same heights, and while this group of films strives to execute on every filmmaking aspect, they fall short. It might be that the acting or editing was merely “good” instead of great.” It might be that the cinematography was astonishing, but something else was poorly done and the film couldn’t recover. I think it’s kind of tragic when a promising movie fails to coalesce into a truly great film.

I’m sorry to say that a Cure for wellness falls into that latter category. Although it was an entertaining movie with a lot to offer, I cannot call this movie a success. An original effort with stunning visuals and a great cast, A Cure for Wellness lacked firm story foundations. Had it the script been better, A Cure for Wellness could have been a real stunner of a movie.

It is not for lack of trying. A Cure for Wellness tried really hard to be great. I really wanted it to be great.

a-cure-for-wellness

As a film buff, I appreciate filmmaking risks. It’s brave to experiment and that should be supported, even if the end result isn’t what it could have been. Where would we be without risky filmmakers like John Carpenter or George A. Romero? They don’t always deliver great movies, but when they do, holy crap they’re good!

But as a horror fan, I am frustrated that this. Same. Thing. Keeps. Happening. An ominous yet sexy trailer, a great cast, and a kickass premise lead to…nothing substantial.

The Neon Demon is the most recent example of such a film—it had a lot going for it, though not enough to overcome some pretty serious flaws. Others that come to mind are Crimson Peak and Prometheus.

And despite my love for certain elements of A Cure for Wellness, of which there were many, I can’t quite bring myself to loudly sing this film’s praises. This hurts me, because I wanted so badly to like this movie. I really, really did. Cross my heart and hope to die.

A Cure for Wellness is the latest feature film from director Gore Verbinski, director of the 2002 English language remake of The Ring. Lockhart, a scheming young stockbroker, is sent to retrieve the CEO of his company after the CEO has taken an indefinite leave of absence. What started as a quick trip to Switzerland to collect the CEO from a tranquil but strange “sanatorium” quickly devolves into a waking nightmare. Something is very wrong at the wellness center, where guests “take the cure”, unwind from the stresses of modern life, and never ever leave.

a cure for wellness

That could be fun.

This looks not as fun.

This looks not as fun.

A Cure for Wellness was unlike any thriller I’ve seen in recent memory. It was lush, creepy, and unnerving. It built a world full of beautiful yet sinister people in beautiful yet sinister locales. Despite its faults, I will not soon forget this movie or its originality. For that alone, I won’t tell you not to see this movie. I’m glad I saw it, especially in a theater, because this movie is beautiful.

a cure for wellness

pretty AF

Love this shot

Love this shot

The gorgeous visuals were the major strength of and most compelling argument to see A Cure for Wellness. I expected as such and was not disappointed here. Director Gore Verbinski once again partnered with accomplished cinematographer Bojan Bazelli, who lent his talent for producing striking images to The Ring. Here to, Bazelli created a wonderful, unified aesthetic for the movie. The images are crisp. The colors are expertly calibrated. Great care was taken to compose the frames, light scenes, and manipulate images in post-production (though there is one scene where bad CGI steals the show). It paid off. From sullen grays of anonymous skyscrapers to brilliant whites against a lush green lawn to consistent algae-green visual motifs to more lurid pops of red and blue, the film is very, very pretty. I was especially struck by how good Bazelli is at rendering visual texture—a smooth glass, a coarse stone path, a small wrinkle on a bed sheet. The attention to detail was remarkable. The result is a stunning, moody visual experience that, on its own, produces dread and unease.

a cure for wellness

The acting was good. Dane DeHaan, playing protagonist Lockhart, did an excellent job of preserving the douche-y-ness of his character while still creating a compelling character. It’s not easy to accomplish an unlikable yet relatable character, yet DeHaan was able to give his character an internal emotional consistency (even if the script failed to).

a cure for wellness

I also enjoyed Jason Isaacs as the insidious Dr. Vollmer, who oozes creepiness despite his handsome British face. Isaacs’s casting is near-perfect. He walks a fine line between concerned and intimidating. And he has to do some heavy lifting in order to compensate for the scripts shortcomings in plot and character development, though even he couldn’t save it. And Mia Goth as mysterious patient Hannah does her best, though her role is a fairly shallow, stereotypical character. I was most disappointed in her character, since she wasn’t given much to do but float around the set all childlike and ethereal, in desperate need of being rescued. Much of her time onscreen was devoted to enticing Lockhart further into the mystery and giving both male characters an object to obsess over.

a cure for wellness

In this way, A Cure for Wellness takes a lot of its inspiration from gothic literature and old Hollywood horror films. This is not a bad idea by itself. My favorite thing about this movie was how it was a modern spin on classic gothic tropes, something of which I personally want Hollywood to revisit. Gothic literature is built on growing tension and expanding dread. This is something that has been and should again become a staple of contemporary horror. The gothic elements worked to create atmosphere—the lovely but overbearing scenery, the isolated and castle-like setting, the mysterious and virginal damsel in distress, the evil aristocratic patriarch. And in true gothic fashion, things veered from merely foreboding to straight f*cked up in the third act with several reveals, including the terrible secret at the heart of a family’s past.

Give me those Dracula's Castle vibes

Give me those Dracula’s Castle vibes

Unfortunately, this is also where the film struggled.

First off, the script should have been tighter and more focused. It was long and convoluted and bloated and dragged in parts and did I mention it was long? It needed at least one more round of rewrites. I mean, seriously, I like slow burn horror movies. I live for them. But even I thought this film had a glacial pace.

There were whole scenes that were either redundant or unnecessary. Scenes could have been combined and certain languid developments could have been streamlined. There were certain scenes were I definitely knew what the point was, but it was obvious that the same effect and narrative weight could have been accomplished without bogging down the story. Because while the film spent more and more time teasing the mystery and the bad shit at the sanitarium, it forgot where it was headed.

A Cure For Wellness

Opportunities to underscore themes—fathers and fatherhood, trauma, the struggle for meaning, the unavoidable nihilism of trying to stave off death—were overlooked. The “sickness” and the mechanics of “The Cure” should have been better fleshed out or not explained at all. The film gave several hasty, wishy-washy explanations that succeeded only in distracting me as I tried to figure out my way around the plot holes. Because after spending ninety damn minutes building up to “The Cure”, it better be solid.

And then that was that hard shift in tone during the third act, which made the ending feel completely off. The film went from shaping an abstract existential horror film to a full blown melodramatic gothic romance, morbid and unnecessary sexual assault scene and all. This isn’t a bad choice in theory. Gothic literature has always been crazy and unhinged and macabre. But it definitely could have been executed in a more consistent way.

Atmosphere is not the same as story, and a story has to be developed from beginning to end.

Like those pretty horror films that preceded it, A Cure for Wellness feel into the trap of prioritizing style over substance. And it turned into something more gothic than horror. It just wasn’t very scary. Sure, it delivered more scares and was generally more f*cked up than Crimson Peak, but it wasn’t enough to push the film into horror.

Though, no lie, that dentist scene was not a joke. I was not prepared for it.

NO NO NO

NO NO NO

Or for the eels.

STOP NO NO NO

STOP NO NO NO

I guess I should be encouraged by the existence of A Cure for Wellness. It’s exciting to see visionary projects secure funding, land big directors and talent, and make it to the screen. And it’s important to note that the filmmakers behind these projects tried to bring their true visions to audiences. We don’t know what happened, and making movies is hard.

I am pleased that films like this are being made. I’m optimistic about the improving quality of horror films. Problems aside, I’ll take A Cure for Wellness over the Poltergeist remake or the 19th Saw movie any day.

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February 2017 Horror Movies – Heavy Hitters Amid the Mediocre http://storiesforghosts.com/february-2017-horror-movies-heavy-hitters-amid-mediocre/ http://storiesforghosts.com/february-2017-horror-movies-heavy-hitters-amid-mediocre/#respond Sat, 04 Feb 2017 04:10:56 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1649 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 […]

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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!

February 3, 2017

  1. Rings

“A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a movie within the movie that no one has ever seen before.”

Oh man, this trailer is too much!

This kind of thing happens to horror movie sequels all the time—instead of properly developing the story past the original movie, filmmakers just start throwing new shit into the mix while recreating certain scenes from the original.

Like, this trailer starts off alright. At first it seems like an updated version of the first Rings movie. But then (!) things veer off into absurdity! Not only does the movie still have the video and the phone call and the gross creepy bits from the original, but now there are 1) burns that spell out messages in braille, 2) a large ringworm mark, 3) Vincent D’nofrio, 4) diseased flesh fusing together, 5) Samara hauntings, and most importantly, 6) Samara’s video featured as the inflight entertainment on a plane!

It’s too much!!! She comes out of the plane’s control panel? I CANNOT LMAO. I could not stop laughing. I don’t know why that was so hilarious, but I started cracking up and it kind of ruined everything for me.

Every unnecessary component of this remake…why? Why does the film need the curse to have evolved so much? It’s already scary, you don’t need to add more. This isn’t how you one-up the original.

 

  1. Don’t Knock Twice (Limited)

“When a mother, desperate to reconnect with the daughter she abandoned, becomes embroiled in the urban legend of a demonic witch, she must go further than she ever imagined possible to win back her child.”

Perhaps it’s the super dramatic and jumpy cut of the trailer, but I don’t get a great feeling about this movie’s quality. I want to believe this has potential. I love witches. I love when movies take terrifying childhood legends and render them real. I love that shot of the witch’s hands rising out of the sink, because I’ve had that exact nightmare before.

But I’m not sure. It looks a little hooky, a little middling. Don’t Knock Twice could be an unexpected surprise, or it could just be the same kind of mediocre horror we’re used to.

 

  1. Eloise (Limited)

“A psychological thriller set in an abandoned insane asylum known as Eloise. Four friends break in with the intention of finding a death certificate that could land Jacob the rights to a hefty inheritance. While inside, the friends discover the terrifying history of the asylum and the truth about their own pasts.”

That’s where Chase Crawford, Eliza Dushku, and Robert Patrick have been hiding!

Hand to God, I thought this trailer would be a lot worse just going off the synopsis. Do you remember a couple years back when insane asylum horror was all the rage? I got so burned out. It’s a de facto cool premise, because real-life insane asylums were horrifying, but good Lord that subgenre was run into the ground. Again. And again.

That being said, this trailer is a mix of insane asylum cliché and an actual interesting plot point. I have a psychology degree and instantly recognized the crazy doctor’s treatment technique as exposure therapy. This is approach derives from a cognitive-behavioral ideology where the patient is gradually and carefully exposed to his fears. I am intrigued by that part of the movie and how the doctor is, obviously, not using it correctly.

Is it enough to save the rest of the movie? I don’t know.

 

 

February 10, 2017

  1. Havenhurst (Limited)

“Jackie, a troubled young woman struggling with addiction, is released from rehab and given a second chance with a new job and a furnished apartment at Havenhurst. Guilt-ridden over the loss of her 8-year-old daughter, Jackie is quickly drawn into the mysteries of Havenhurst, in particular the disappearance of apartment 1006’s previous lost soul, a young woman she befriended in rehab who vanished without a trace. Aided by a hardened New York police detective and a lonely foster child who lives under the sadistic shadow of her caretakers, Jackie must not only battle her inner demons… but the very real ones that live within the walls of Havenhurst.”

I feel like I’ve seen this movie a million times. I get it; horror movies set in apartments are ripe with meaning and resonance because so many people live in close quarters with complete strangers. It’s hard to set and maintain boundaries, which creates a certain amount of uneasiness, which lends itself easily to horror. Think Dark Water, Rec, Apartment 1303, and of course, Rosemary’s Baby, among the greats.

I guess that’s my problem with this trailer—it doesn’t convince me that this movie will offer anything new or refreshing. A sinister rich old lady owns a gothic apartment building with dark corners and secrets? Yawn. Give me something else.

 

 

February 17, 2017

  1. A Cure for Wellness

“An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem.”

AAAAAAHHHHHHH I’m so excited! By now y’all know I’m really into psychological horror: the uncertainty of the main character’s own experiences, the foreboding tone, the twisted “spa treatments” that may or may not work, depending on what your goal is. Literally every person in this trailer looks a little bit…off, and coupled with the disturbing imagery (eels! EELS!) and invasive medical procedures, I think A Cure for Wellness will make for a genuinely unsettling experience.

There are a lot of people talking about how this movie is a hybrid of Shutter Island and Bioshock, and how that may not bode well for this film. I’m going to reserve judgment. At the very least, I think the visuals will be reason enough to see this movie.

 

  1. XX (Limited)

“XX is a new horror anthology with a gender twist – all segments will be helmed by female directors and will star female leads. The directors have been given free creative rein within budget and time constraints, but all of the segments themselves will involve the horror genre.”

I’ve been waiting for this horror anthology for a long time! Horror anthologies in general have only gotten better over the past few years, and I hope that XX follows that trend. News out of the Sundance Film Festival has been positive (though none of the films are perfect).

I’m particularly swayed by this quote from The Hollywood Reporter, “The best thing about this project is that in the genre realm of the final girl, each story features a female protagonist facing unique fears beyond scream-and-die victimhood, in one case becoming the vessel of carnage herself.”

Gimme!

 

 

February 24, 2017

  1. Get Out

“Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.”

Finally, this movie comes out! Key & Peele was one of my favorite shows of the last few years. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were gifted, both in their physical comedy and their uncanny ability to combine humor with biting social criticism. I was so sad when the show ended in 2015.

But now that I see what Jordan Peele has been working on during that time, I’m stoked! Peele is a huge horror movie fan, and drew upon his favorites Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives to write and direct Get Out, which tackles issues of race in this country. I think that’s brilliant. Both Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives were about the pressures society forces upon women, pushing them into certain roles and punishing them when they don’t comply. Get Out has tons to work with here and can provoke an important conversation about race. It’s even better that this film was written and directed by a black man, whereas Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives were not written by women.

Add in that Get Out is getting rave reviews, and I think Get Out will prove to be one of the most significant horror movies of the year.

 

  1. The Girl with all the Gifts (Limited)

“In the future, a strange fungus has changed nearly everyone into a thoughtless, flesh-eating monster. When a scientist and a teacher find a girl who seems to be immune to the fungus, they all begin a journey to save humanity.”

This may not be the star of February horror movies, but I for one want to see this movie. I was a fan of the book and I greatly appreciated how M.R. Carey approached his zombie novel. Instead of focusing on the outbreak, The Girl with All the Gifts focuses on the remaining uninfected as they struggle to find a cure and survive in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. By the time the story picks up, it’s been twenty years since the outbreak. All the people who have survived until this point are, as expected, traumatized and hardened. They cling to the old ways of human civilization as much as they can, but things are irrevocably different now.

I hope The Girl with All the Gifts will successfully breathe life into the zombie subgenre, which has stagnated a bit over the years. Not every movie can give us the zombie outbreak like Night of the Living Dead or 28 Days Later, but not every movie has should.

 

  1. Drifter (Limited)

“A pair of outlaw brothers are held captive in a desolate town run by a small family of psychotic cannibalistic lunatics and their sadistic Mayor.”

This looks a little bit like what would happen if Rob Zombie directed a Mad Max movie. I guess that’s a surprising combination, and when I think about it, I’m kind of shocked we haven’t seen more Mad Max-esque horror movies. Though I’m sure someone is furiously planning that exact movie as I write this (it’s probably Rob Zombie).

These types of horror movies are hardly my cup of tea, and if I’m being totally honest, Drifter doesn’t look inventive or good enough to convince me otherwise. But I’m sure it’s entertaining, and fans of these types of horror movies will probably like it just fine.

 

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13 Highly Anticipated 2017 Horror Novels For Your Amazon Cart http://storiesforghosts.com/13-highly-anticipated-2017-horror-novels-amazon-cart/ http://storiesforghosts.com/13-highly-anticipated-2017-horror-novels-amazon-cart/#comments Thu, 26 Jan 2017 05:26:41 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1630 As a self-proclaimed literature nerd with a demanding job, I am torn between my desire to be well-read and getting enough sleep. I wish I had more time to devote to reading, especially as it concerns horror novels and short stories. It’s an exciting genre, and if you can wade through the not-so-great books and […]

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As a self-proclaimed literature nerd with a demanding job, I am torn between my desire to be well-read and getting enough sleep. I wish I had more time to devote to reading, especially as it concerns horror novels and short stories. It’s an exciting genre, and if you can wade through the not-so-great books and find the provocative, imaginative, and truly disturbing reads, it’s a rewarding endeavor.

I am sick of not reading enough horror.

Consequently, I decided that one of my New Year’s Resolutions would be, you guessed it, to read more horror. And so I did a little research and compiled a list of 13 highly anticipated 2017 horror novels to share with you! The list includes some tried-and-true horror veterans, like Caitlin R. Kiernan and Josh Malerman, but it also includes some shiny new debuts.

So if you want to read more horror as well, or if you just want an interesting book to read, check out my list!

Enjoy!

horror novels

1.  Little Heaven by Nick Cutter (January 10, 2017)

“From electrifying horror author Nick Cutter comes a haunting new novel, reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and Stephen King’s It, in which a trio of mismatched mercenaries is hired by a young woman for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven. Shortly after they arrive, things begin to turn ominous. Stirrings in the woods and over the treetops—the brooding shape of a monolith known as the Black Rock casts its terrible pall. Paranoia and distrust grips the settlement. The escape routes are gradually cut off as events spiral towards madness. Hell—or the closest thing to it—invades Little Heaven. The remaining occupants are forced to take a stand and fight back, but whatever has cast its dark eye on Little Heaven is now marshaling its powers…and it wants them all.”

Nick Cutter is famous for his novel The Troop, which blew readers away with its updated and somehow more twisted take on The Lord of the Flies. Cutter has a real knack for crafting “a fresh twist on horror conventions, while also writing a story that delivers the bodies.” With him, we get literary style without sacrificing horror and terror. His stuff is always solid, and you can’t go wrong with Cutter.

horror novels

2.  Under a Watchful Eye by Adam Nevill (January 30, 2017)

Seb Logan is being watched. He just doesn’t know by whom. 

When the sudden appearance of a dark figure shatters his idyllic coastal life, he soon realizes that the murky past he thought he’d left behind has far from forgotten him. What’s more unsettling is the strange atmosphere that engulfs him at every sighting, plunging his mind into a terrifying paranoia.

To be a victim without knowing the tormentor. To be despised without knowing the offense caused. To be seen by what nobody else can see. These are the thoughts which plague his every waking moment.

Imprisoned by despair, Seb fears his stalker is not working alone, but rather is involved in a wider conspiracy that threatens everything he has worked for. For there are doors in this world that open into unknown places. Places used by the worst kind of people to achieve their own ends. And once his investigation leads him to stray across the line and into mortal danger, he risks becoming another fatality in a long line of victims . . .”

Named “Britain’s answer to Stephen King” by the Guardian, Adam Nevill is the author of eleven novels. Three of his novels won the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel from the British Fantasy Awards—The Ritual, Last Days, and No One Gets Out Alive. He’s also got mad wheeling and dealing skills, since at least SIX of his works are in development for television and film. So he’s kind of a big deal. He’s a contemporary horror literature staple and you should definitely add this book toy our Amazon cart.

horror novels

3.   The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria (February 2017)

“Written during the height of the 1970s Italian domestic terror, a cult novel, with distinct echoes of Lovecraft and Borges, makes its English-language debut.

In the spare wing of a church-run sanatorium, some zealous youths create ‘the Library,’ a space where lonely citizens can read one another’s personal diaries and connect with like-minded souls in ‘dialogues across the ether.’ But when their scribblings devolve into the ugliest confessions of the macabre, the Library’s users learn too late that a malicious force has consumed their privacy and their sanity. As the city of Turin suffers a twenty-day ‘phenomenon of collective psychosis’ culminating in nightly massacres that hundreds of witnesses cannot explain, the Library is shut down and erased from history. That is, until a lonely salaryman decides to investigate these mysterious events, which the citizenry of Turin fear to mention. Inevitably drawn into the city’s occult netherworld, he unearths the stuff of modern nightmares: what’s shared can never be unshared.”

Does this novel not sound scarily relevant and timely? Damn, who knew something published in Italy over 40 years could resonate so clearly with the current American cultural landscape? It also promises to create a uniquely fearful experience: “a mute, palpitating dread that seeps into every moment of daily existence.” With its themes of neo-fascism, terrorism, social media and the internet, The Twenty Days of Turin seems to have been decades before its time.

Give it to me!

horror novels

4.  The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn (February 7, 2017)

“Ten-year-old Stevie Clark of Deer Valley, Ore., is a word-salad stutterer with one friend in the world: his older cousin Jude. When Jude goes missing, Stevie is the only one who takes it seriously, and he knows the creepy house in the woods must be involved. Despite an uninterested town and his own fear, Stevie embarks on an investigation that convinces him there’s a monster lurking in the woods. The real horror comes when Jude abruptly returns and Stevie must accept that he may still have lost his friend.”

I’ve never read anything by Ania Ahlborn, but she sounds great and this novel sounds like something right up my alley! I love psychological horror and I love interesting points of view in fiction. How would a ten-year old process the sudden disappearance of his only friend, and under such dark circumstances? Even though this summary makes it sound like there may or may not be supernatural forces at work, it probably doesn’t matter in the end. Trauma can be its own unsolvable mystery. That’s what draws me in.

horror novels

5.     Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (February 7, 2017)

“The book opens at the Video Hut in late-’90s, small-town Iowa, where twentysomething Jeremy rides out his days manning the counter, blissfully unaware of the forces (Hollywood Video, DVDs, the Internet) conspiring to make his job representative of a very specific cultural moment. What Jeremy is aware of is a series of customers returning video tapes with complaints that something’s wrong with them—that, for instance, She’s All That is interrupted by four minutes of grainy, homemade, black-and-white footage that is distinctly creepy-as-hell—there’s a darkness there, an overwhelming sadness. She’s All That is the most popular tape affected, but not the only one. Jeremy would prefer not to have to get to the bottom of the disturbing videos, but that, of course, was never a real possibility . . .”

John Darnielle is a musician in the band The Mountain Goats and a novelist. His debut, Wolf in White Van, was a trippy, provocative novel about a disfigured game designer guarding a traumatic secret about his past. Wolf in White Van touched on many pop culture elements for Generation X, as it seems Universal Harvester will do. When speaking about his latest novel, Darnielle explained that he is “Really super proud of [Universal Harvester]; I think it hits that sad/frightening axis that I’ve always found most inspiring in the writers I like best.”

The literary part of me loves that self-assessment, while the 90s kid in me really wants to know what’s on that She’s All That tape.

horror novels

6.     Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman (March 2017)

“The Danes—the band known as the ‘Darlings of Detroit’—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

Part Heart of Darkness, part Lost, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking new novel plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear.”

Josh Malerman wrote Bird Box, which received tons of critical acclaim and notice for its chilling story. He’s been compared to Stephen King (doesn’t it seem like literally everyone gets compared to Stephen King?). Although I think, given just as long and prolific a career, Malerman could give King a run for his money.

Bird Box was crazy, Black Mad Wheels sounds crazy, and I can’t wait for this book.

horror novels

7.     Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan (March 2017)

“What exactly is the difference between a love letter and a suicide note? Is there really any difference at all? These might be the questions posed by Dear Sweet Filthy World, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s fourteenth collection of short fiction, comprised of twenty-eight uncollected and impossible-to-find stories.

Treading the grim places where desire and destruction, longing and horror intersect, the author rises once again to meet the high expectations she set with such celebrated collections as Tales of Pain and WonderTo Charles Fort, With Love, and the World Fantasy Award-winning The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories. In these pages you’ll meet a dragon’s lover, a drowned vampire cursed always to ride the tides, a wardrobe that grants wishes, and a lunatic artist’s marriage of the Black Dahlia and the Beast of Gévaudan. You’ll visit a ruined post-industrial Faerie, travel back to tropical Paleozoic seas and ahead to the far-flung future, and you’ll meet a desperate writer forced to sell her memories for new ideas. Here are twenty-eight tales of apocalypse and rebirth, of miraculous transformation and utter annihilation.  Here is the place where professing your undying devotion might be precisely the same thing as signing your own death warrant—or worse.”

I profiled Caitlin R. Kiernan in my Female Horror Writers post last year, and thus I’m excited to read her new collection. Kiernan is an established horror author, and an acclaimed one at that. She’s won multiple International Horror Guild Awards, multiple Bram Stoker Awards, and multiple World Fantasy Awards. She’s perhaps most famous for The Drowning Girl, a wonderful mix of grim and disturbing and mythical. Continuing that arc, Dear Sweet Filthy World sounds like an exquisite collection of pretty little horror and dark fantasy gems.

horror novels

8.  The Girl From Rawblood by Catriona Ward (March 7, 2017)

“Born in England in 1899, Iris Villarca, the principal narrator of Ward’s superb debut, grows up without human company, except for Tom Gilmore, a farmer’s son with whom she forms a secret bond, and her father, Alonso, the only other surviving Villarca. She believes that a rare disease necessitates their seclusion at Rawblood, their Dartmoor estate, but as she matures, Alonso reveals the truth: isolation is the only way to save Iris from a ghostly presence that destroys the Villarcas when they fall in love, marry, or have children. As WWI begins, Iris violates her father’s interdictions with horrific repercussions for both of them.”  

YAAAAAS! A period piece horror story with resounding gothic influences! I live, I die, I live again!

Sorry, I’m just excited. I’ve been itching for a modern twist on gothic horror, and I hope from the buzz surrounding this book that it scratches my itch. Gothic horror can be so amazing.

horror novels

9.     Beneath by Kristi de Meester (April 2017)

I haven’t been able to track down much information about this book, but Litreactor says that, “Beneath is about a reporter investigating a snake-handling cult in rural Appalachia.”

Honest to God, that good be really, really good. How aren’t there more horror stories about snake handling churches? That shit is wild! Check out this video to learn more (and enjoy the cheesy intro):

I just wish we had more information! I do know that Kristi de Meester is an accomplished short story writer and has been featured in many collections and anthologies. Beneath is her first novel.

horror novels

10.  Ararat by Christopher Golden (April 18, 2017)

“Christopher Golden’s Ararat is the heart-pounding tale of an adventure that goes wrong…on a biblical scale. When an earthquake reveals a secret cave hidden inside Mount Ararat in Turkey, a daring, newly-engaged couple are determined to be the first ones inside…and what they discover will change everything.

The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. Inside the coffin they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver—not the holy man they expected, but a hideous creature with horns. Shock and fear turn to horror when a massive blizzard blows in, trapping them thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain. All they can do is pray for safety. But something wicked is listening to their prayers…and it wants to answer.”

I will admit that I did not know who Christopher Golden was until I drafted this post. But since then, I’ve learned he’s a big deal. He has written for comics and graphic novels like Hellboy, The Punisher, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (among many others). He has written tons of novels and edited and contributed to a lot of horror anthologies.

With his horror pedigree, Golden’s latest novel sounds promising. Surprisingly, I really dig the Old-Testament–meets-the Thing-and-Alien­ angle, and I think Ararat has all the makings of a great horror-thriller.

Preordered!

horror novels

11.     In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson (June 6, 2017)

“Haunted by his past, Travis Stillwell spends his nights searching out women in West Texas honky-tonks. What he does with them doesn’t make him proud, just quiets the demons for a little while. But after Travis crosses paths one night with a mysterious pale-skinned girl, he wakes weak and bloodied in his cabover camper the next morning with no sign of a girl, no memory of the night before. 

Annabelle Gaskin spies the camper parked behind her motel and offers the cowboy a few odd jobs to pay his board. Travis takes her up on the offer, if only to buy time, to lay low and heal. By day, he mends the old motel, insinuating himself into the lives of Annabelle and her ten-year-old son. By night, in the cave of his camper, he fights an unspeakable hunger. Before long, Annabelle and her boy come to realize that this strange cowboy is not what he seems.

Half a state away, a grizzled Texas Ranger is hunting Travis for his past misdeeds, but what he finds will lead him to a revelation far more monstrous. A man of the law, he’ll have to decide how far into the darkness he’ll go for the sake of justice.

When these lives converge on a dusty autumn night, an old evil will find new life–and new blood.”

This Texas girl is excited for In the Valley of the Sun, because who doesn’t want to read a vampire novel set in the Texas desert and influenced by both Cormac McCarthy and Anne Rice? No one I know! I’m also getting a strong Near Dark vibe from the synopsis. As far as debuts go, this one has definitely piqued my interest.

horror novels

12.     Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (July 11, 2017)

“1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Sean, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.”

I’ve never heard of Edgar Cantero, but has he sucked me in with the blurb for this Scooby-Doo-meets-It-meets-Lovecraft novel synopsis. I won’t lie, I find it amazing at how much Stephen King has influence the authors on this list. It’s almost a cause for concern, but then I remember how much I loved YA detective novels (Nancy Drew fans, where you at?) and 80s adventure movies (The Goonies, Monster Squad) in addition to Stephen King novels.

I hope this is good!

horror novels

13.     The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy (August 1, 2017)

“The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret, far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now, an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. These demons are threatening to spread virally into the real world unless they can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew:

 Twelve-year-old Hannah, who has been fitted with the Mirage, a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness, wonders why she sees shadows surrounding some people.

A technophobic journalist named Lela has stumbled upon a story nobody wants her to uncover.

Mike Juniper—a one-time child evangelist who suffers from personal and literal demons—has an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs.

And Derek, a hacker with a cause, believes himself a soldier of the Internet, part of a cyber army akin to Anonymous.

They have no idea what the Dark Net really contains.”

Ok, hear me out. This write-up is a little cheesy, yes. But think about this for a moment.

The Dark Net, or Deep Net, is real and mysterious and entirely frightening. I’m fascinated by this part of the Internet, which lies beneath that layer of the Internet that can be accessed by Google’s search engine. Only people who want to be there go to the Dark Net. And they have… certain motivations. This article freaked me out, because while I knew that the Deep/Dark Net was where awful people swapped child porn and arms dealers sold weapons, I didn’t realize it was so…involved.

The Dark Net seems timely, to say the least. A great deal of our day-to-day lives are controlled by computers connected to networks that are connected to the Internet. If written well and thoroughly researched, it could be a very good book.

 

Do you know of any other horror novels being released this year that I should check out? Let me know.

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Horror Movies at The 2017 Sundance Film Festival http://storiesforghosts.com/horror-2017-sundance-film-festival/ http://storiesforghosts.com/horror-2017-sundance-film-festival/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 05:43:10 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1610 Contrary to popular belief, January can be an exciting time for horror fans for one big reason—the Sundance Film Festival, one of the industry’s major film festivals. Every January, Sundance bestows upon us weird, frightening, and bizarrely amazing horror movies. Come tomorrow, Sundance will kick off premieres and screenings of buzzworthy movies. While Sundance doesn’t […]

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Contrary to popular belief, January can be an exciting time for horror fans for one big reason—the Sundance Film Festival, one of the industry’s major film festivals. Every January, Sundance bestows upon us weird, frightening, and bizarrely amazing horror movies.

Come tomorrow, Sundance will kick off premieres and screenings of buzzworthy movies. While Sundance doesn’t specialize in horror movies (sadly), the festival is committed to providing a platform for intriguing and promising films, many of which are horror. Films like The Blair Witch Project, American Psycho, 28 Days Later, The Descent, and the Witch.

Horror has always had a place at the high-brow-film table, and Sundance has a proven record for bringing fresh horror to hungry audiences.

Last June, I wrote about the horror movie lineup at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where films like Green Room premiered in 2015 and Raw and The Neon Demon premiered in 2016. I decided to do a similar post for the horror lineup at Sundance, especially with films like XX, Killing Ground, and Bitch scheduled for screenings. Here you’ll find a list of the horror films at Sundance, as well as the “segment” in which they will be showcased.

Who knows? Maybe one of these films will become the Next Big Horror Movie, i.e. that movie people either love or love to hate, like It Follows, The Witch, or The Babadook.

I’ll update the post with reviews as they are published! Enjoy!

 

SPOTLIGHT

The Spotlight segment is Sundance’s category for showcasing films that have already premiered at other festivals. So while Sundance doesn’t get to premier these films, the festival is still an important stop of the film festival circuit.

 

sundance

Colossal

 

“Horror master Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) returns to the Sundance Film Festival with another mind-bending genre film that was an audience favorite at the Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest.

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a hard partying New York scene girl who is thrust into crisis when her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), grows sick of her antics and kicks her out of their apartment. With no other options, she moves back to her hometown and quickly regresses, drinking every night until last call and accepting a job at a bar owned by her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). One day she wakes up and blurrily finds out that Seoul was terrorized by a giant creature the night before. Eventually, Gloria begins to suspect her own drunken actions are bizarrely connected to the monster rampaging in South Korea.”

 

sundance

Raw

“An electrifying film that took Cannes by storm upon its premiere in the Critics’ Week section this past May, Julia Ducournau’s wild, primal, flesh-eating marvel, Raw, boldly introduces a major new French talent to the world stage.

Brilliant, shy 16-year-old Justine heads to the same veterinary college her parents attended, and where her older sister, Alexia, is also a student. Along with the other newbies, Justine is subjected to a series of bizarre initiations, including a hazing ritual that forces her to eat a raw rabbit liver. Although she’s a committed vegetarian, Justine is desperate to fit in and ultimately caves to the peer pressure. Afterward, she grows a voracious appetite for meat, which starts branching out to other forms of flesh. At the same time, the young virgin’s new carnivorous tendency coincides with a burgeoning sexual desire.

A grisly, viscerally charged experience, Raw is art-house horror of the highest order. A darkly funny coming-of-age story at its bloody heart, it unpeels the complex layers of the sisters’ not-always-nurturing bond as it hurtles toward a climactic, bloody showdown.”

 

Midnight

“Midnight” is Sundance’s way of lifting up indie genre films that might otherwise be overlooked. According to their website, Midnight is for “horror flicks to bizarre comedies to works that defy any game.” These films are usually well-crafted and insightful, but are a little offbeat. Maybe really offbeat.

 

sundance

XX

“Gather round if you dare for four murderous tales of supernatural frights, predatory thrills, profound anxiety, and Gothic decay in the first all-female-driven horror anthology film. Audacious new works from some of the genre’s most promising voices—Annie Clark (better known to fans as St. Vincent), Karyn Kusama (The InvitationGirlfight), Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound), and Jovanka Vuckovic (former editor of Rue Morgue magazine)—bring forth a study in the proper unspooling of dread for your viewing pleasure.

Framed around innovative animator Sofia Carrillo’s haunting tableaus, these modern myths range from Vuckovic’s reverent control of grotesque elegance to Clark’s deliciously macabre sense of comic timing, Benjamin’s skillful powers of tonal transformation, and Kusama’s authorial grasp of simmering psychological fear. Vigorously challenging a stagnant status quo within the industry, this collection of tightly coiled short films by some of horror’s most influential women offers a refreshing jolt to the senses.”

 

sundance

Killing Ground

“When young couple Sam and Ian escape the confines of urban living for a weekend getaway at a remote campsite, they arrive to find a neighboring tent set up with its inhabitants nowhere in sight. As day turns to night and then to day again, the young couple becomes increasingly concerned about the whereabouts of their unknown fellow campers. When they discover a toddler wandering alone on the campground, things go from bad to worse, thrusting them into a harrowing fight for survival in a place miles from civilization, where no one can hear them scream.

Teeming with dread and unnerving tension, the debut feature of writer/director Damien Power draws heavy inspiration from Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, utilizing the film’s sparse locations to considerable effect. As jagged pieces of the puzzle are carefully revealed one by one, Killing Ground evolves into a brutally violent thriller that will force you to think twice the next time you dare venture beyond the city’s bright lights”

An exclusive trailer was released today! Check it out here.

 

sundance

Bitch

“Jill, a lonely, distraught housewife with four unruly children, paces on her dining room table with a belt around her neck, contemplating a desperate end to her wretchedness. Her husband, Bill, focused on his identity as breadwinner and an affair with a lusty co-worker, is as oblivious to Jill’s growing terror that she will do something destructive as he is to the panic at his unraveling company. Meanwhile, dogs bark and howl through the night, as one persistent mutt continually stalks the family’s yard. When Jill’s psyche finally breaks, she takes on a vicious new canine persona.

Marianna Palka (returning to the Festival after 2008’s Good Dick) writes, directs, and stars in this provocative film. She balances a whip-smart, deeply unsettling take on the horrors of a crumbling nuclear family with a palpable sensitivity for her character’s plight and perfectly timed comedic flourishes. Jason Ritter delivers a beautifully tragicomic performance as Bill, who’s transformed by bizarre crisis from an indifferent hound of a man entirely untethered from his family to their unexpected emotional anchor.”

 

sundance

Bushwick

“On the way to Grandma’s house with a new boyfriend in tow, Lucy (Brittany Snow) steps off the subway into an utter bloodbath on the streets of Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. Texas is attempting to secede from the Union, and militia forces have descended upon New York City to claim it as an East Coast base of operations and negotiation tool. Faced with a flurry of whizzing bullets and total destruction around every corner, Lucy takes shelter in the basement of Stupe (Dave Bautista), a burly war veteran who reluctantly helps her traverse the treacherous five-block stretch of Bushwick to reach her destination—assuming it’s still there.

Directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott return to Midnight with this intense and frenetic follow-up to their comedy/horror debut Cooties (2014 Sundance Film Festival). Bolstered by an immersive score from indie hip-hop mainstay Aesop Rock, Bushwick is an exhilarating thrill ride that is not to be missed.”

 

sundance

78/52

(This film is technically a documentary, but what serious horror fan wouldn’t want to see this?)

“In 78 setups and 52 cuts, the deliriously choreographed two-minute shower sequence in Psychoripped apart cinema’s definition of horror. With a shocking combination of exploitation and high art, Alfred Hitchcock upended his own acclaimed narrative structure by violently killing off a heroine a third of the way through his film, without explanation, justification, or higher purpose. Psycho played out like a horrific prank, forcing audiences to recognize that even the most banal domestic spaces were now fair game for unspeakable mayhem.

With black-and-white film-geek reverence, director Alexandre O. Philippe breaks down this most notorious and essential scene shot for shot, enlisting the help of film buffs and filmmakers alike—including Guillermo del Toro, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Eli Roth, and Peter Bogdanovich. 78/52 examines Janet Leigh’s terrified facial expressions and the blink-and-you-miss-it camera work, not just within the context of the film but also with an eye toward America’s changing social mores—revealing how one bloody, chaotic on-screen death killed off chaste cinema and eerily predicted a decade of unprecedented violence and upheaval.”

 

World Cinema Dramatic Competition

According to Sundance’s website, the World Dramatic segment is for “Films from emerging filmmaking talents around the world,” and offers “fresh perspectives and inventive styles.”

 

sundance

Berlin Syndrome

“Australian tourist Clare (Teresa Palmer) travels to Berlin to photograph East German architecture and meets Andi (Max Riemelt), a handsome but brooding schoolteacher. After a brief erotic fling, Clare tries to leave, but Andi isn’t ready to let go. She soon finds herself held prisoner in his locked apartment, cut off from the outside world. As her ordeal unfolds, Clare cycles between reasoning with her captor, surrendering to his obsessions, and plotting her escape.

Acclaimed Australian director Cate Shortland’s (Lore and Somersault) potent thriller unfolds with a slow-burn intensity as Clare’s growing dread becomes your own. Adapted by Shaun Grant (The Snowtown Murders) from Melanie Joosten’s 2011 novel, Berlin Syndrome is psychologically acute and uncommonly observant to the shifting power dynamics between captor and prisoner. Palmer’s empathetic and courageous performance keeps us rooting for Clare, while Riemelt brings terrifying depth to the disturbed Andi.”

 

NEXT

Next presents “pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling. Digital tech paired with unfettered creativity promises they will shape a ‘greater’ next wave in American cinema.”

 

sundance

 A Ghost Story

“Lauded filmmaker David Lowery, last at the Festival with the lyrical Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), reunites with his collaborators for a haunted tale like no other—one conceived in secret and fueled by the spirit of pure, creative expression.

Lowery’s meticulously sparse narrative contemplates a spectral figure who was once a man (Casey Affleck). Prematurely taken from this Earth, he makes his way toward his former home, where he is fated to remain forevermore. Shrouded in a white sheet, he observes the lament of his grief-stricken lover (Rooney Mara). Bearing unseen witness to her pain, the wisp stands sentry for years to come, interacting only with time as it hurtles further and further forward, the remnants of his humanity quietly evaporating.

Making full use of his singular abilities as a visual storyteller and finely tuned craftsman, Lowery boldly returns with an enriching experiment in micro-cinema that gorgeously defies categorization.”

 

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Thoroughbred

“Emotionally challenged Amanda and contemptuous Lily reboot their childhood friendship after years of instability and judgment, thrown back together by standardized-test tutoring. When Lily’s icy stepdad, Mark, conspires to ship her off to reform school instead of her dream college, Amanda’s nonchalant quips about killing him suddenly seem enticing. Even as Amanda’s sinister tendencies surface and the girls hatch a plan, the mutual manipulation that has always defined their relationship threatens to derail their ambitions.

First-time director Cory Finley’s impressively stylish and assured filmmaking evokes a high-class world that is simultaneously familiar and strange, dripping with acidic dark wit and a disquietingly eerie score. Finley nurtures and coaxes astounding chemistry out of his talented cast, from the capricious friendship that binds Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, 2015) and Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, 2015), to the unruly vulnerability of Anton Yelchin as their unlikely co-conspirator. Firmly staking his claim as a filmmaker to watch, Finley comfortably basks in the quiet chaos of his characters and leaves behind a beautiful and orderly trail of destruction.”

 

MIDNIGHT EPISODIC

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Snatchers

“After status-obsessed teen Sara loses her virginity, she wakes up nine months pregnant—with an alien. The only person she can trust, without ruining her newfound popularity, is her nerdy ex-best friend, Hayley. Once the snatcher emerges, carnage ensues, forcing the duo to enlist the help of a conspiracy theory–obsessed alpaca farmer to put an end to it before all hell breaks loose. The Festival will premiere eight short form episodes of this otherworldly horror-comedy series.”

 

sundance

Pineapple

“When the assault of a coal miner’s daughter turns the local mine into a crime scene, the inhabitants of Black Rock are baffled to learn that the only word uttered by the victim after the attack was “pineapple.” Tensions rise as the mine’s opportunistic owner uses the investigation as an excuse to shutter the dying operation indefinitely. Faced with solving the town’s now-dreadful economic future, the sheriff dedicates himself to the mystery surrounding who, or what, pineapple is. The Festival will premiere three short form episodes of this uniquely cinematic drama series.”

 

SHORTS

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Dawn of the Deaf

“When a strange sound wipes out the hearing population, a small group of deaf people must band together to survive.”

 

INDEPENDENT PILOT SHOWCASE

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When the Street Lights Go On

“In the summer heat of 1983, a string of unusual occurrences in a small Illinois town culminate with the shocking murders of a popular high school girl and her teacher. When a fellow student, and neighbor, discovers the bodies while riding his bike home one night, the quiet suburban lives of the town’s residents are irrevocably shaken.”

 

If you get to see any of these, leave your comments!

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My List of Most Anticipated Horror Films of 2017 http://storiesforghosts.com/my-most-anticipated-horror-films-2017/ http://storiesforghosts.com/my-most-anticipated-horror-films-2017/#respond Sun, 15 Jan 2017 22:55:12 +0000 http://storiesforghosts.com/?p=1594 A new year, a new list! It’s time for my list of most anticipated horror films of 2017! Let’s be honest, 2016 sucked in a lot of ways, not least of wish was that the horror movie release calendar was disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great 2016 horror movies with real terror, […]

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A new year, a new list! It’s time for my list of most anticipated horror films of 2017!

Let’s be honest, 2016 sucked in a lot of ways, not least of wish was that the horror movie release calendar was disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great 2016 horror movies with real terror, solid scares, and provocative storytelling. But there were some real duds, the kind that made me roll my eyes and sigh at the state of the horror industry.

Yet here comes 2017, still full of hope and potential, sharing bright and shiny horror trailers for all. Among 2017’s most anticipated horror are dark and twisted social commentaries,  high-profile reboots of horror movie classics, gorgeous grotesqueries, and a few black pearls of brave indie filmmaking.

Check them out!

  1. The Lure (February 1, 2017)

“Two mermaid sisters become caught in a love triangle when they fall for the same man.” 

I saw this trailer a few days ago and instantly fell in love with its sparkly, gritty, 80s craziness. I love mermaids, especially when they’re presented as the frightening sea monsters of lore. Also, who doesn’t like musicals?

Touted by Indiewire as “a wonderfully demented new musical that bridges the gap between Hans Christian Andersen and Nine Inch Nails,” I’m really looking forward to the Lure and all its potential for zany, bloody, feminist horror.

  1. A Cure for Wellness (February 17, 2017)

“An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious ‘wellness center’ at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem.”

Wasn’t that trailer gorgeous? Director Gore Verbinski is always delivering sumptuous cinematography, as evidenced in The Ring. Luckily for us, A Cure for Wellness looks like he will once again deliver in the visual department. Check out these striking and disturbing teasers as well, one for water, air, and earth. Makes me shiver!

I’m also excited for the premise of a “wellness center/spa” that has a probably evil doctor at the helm with malicious intent. Its setting and undeniably nihilist themes are so timely, especially with our new cultural obsession “mindfulness” and reflection. Indeed, Gore Verbinkski recently gave an interview to Slashfilm where he explained the film as such: “It’s a health spa. Who doesn’t like to put on a nice comfy robe and slip into a warm bath? But when you put a razor blade next to the bathtub, it changes the meaning completely. I think to pervert and corrupt that sort of tranquility, or to at least say, look, the thing about denial is, that inevitability keeps marching forward. The truth keeps marching on. And I think as a society, we live in a time where we are perhaps in denial.”

Here’s to the hope that A Cure for Wellness is more than just a pretty movie and gives us both horror and insight.

  1. XX (Limited release February 17, 2017)

“An all female horror anthology featuring new work from Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin and Jovanka Vuckovic.”

Horror, like most of the film industry, is still a boys’ club, despite a lot of advancements. How wonderful is it then to see a female-led, female-directed horror anthology? The female directors are, Roxanne Benjamin (Southland), Sofia Carrillo (Prita Noire), Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, The Invitation), Annie Clark (a.k.a. singer St. Vincent!), and Jovanka Vuckovic (The Guest). It’s an eclectic group of female directors with their own visions and talents to share, and I can’t wait to see it.

There are four chapters of XX: “The Birthday Party”, “The Box”, “Don’t Fall”, and “Her Only Living Son”. How encouraging is it that all of the segments are intriguing and chilling? I was very impressed by what I saw in the trailer, most notably the clips of “The Box” and “Her Only Living Son”, but it all seems solid. We will have to wait to see if it’s truly groundbreaking horror, but XX is definitely shaping up to be a great entry in the recent horror anthology trend.

  1. The Girl with All the Gifts (February 24, 2017)

“In the future, a strange fungus has changed nearly everyone into a thoughtless, flesh-eating monster. When a scientist and a teacher find a girl who seems to be immune to the fungus, they all begin a journey to save humanity.”

Yes, horror is crowded with zombies—zombies have taken over movies, books, graphic novels, tv shows, and podcasts. Lord knows I’m a little tired of zombies at this point, but I can’t help but be excited for The Girl with All the Gifts. I enjoyed the novel for its fresh take on a zombie plague, as well as the difficult questions it raised about evolution, scientific discovery, and other ethical dilemmas. In particular, I loved how deep the book went in handling the plight of survivors in the zombie wasteland and all the ways they were able to fend of “the hungries.”

I’m especially heartened by IGN’s review, where Chris Tully wrote that The Girl with All the Gifts is, “light on gore but heavy on brains” and “delivers what it means to be living, undead or a new combination of the two, with originality and guts.”

  1. Get Out (February 24, 2017)

 “Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

There are so many things to look forward to concerning Get Out: Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele) wrote and directed this film, it has a solid cast, and it looks like genuinely creepy horror with a socially conscious message about race and class.

I was a huge fan of Key and Peele when it was on air mostly because I appreciated the duos’ love of movies and pop culture and how skilled they were at entwining the two with provocative humor. It appears as though Jordan Peele has done the same for his directorial debut, telling Forbes that he looked to Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives for inspiration.

I hope I’m not getting ahead of myself when I say that Get Out has potential to be an insightful, powerful film as only a horror film can truly accomplish. It is certainly a good sign that Peele himself said this of the horror genre, “As with comedy, I feel like horror and the thriller genre is a way, one of the few ways, that we can address real life horrors and social injustices in an entertaining way. We go to the theater to be entertained, but if what is left after you watch the movie is a sort of eye-opening perspective on some social issues, then it can be a really powerful piece of art.”

  1. Raw (March 10, 2017)

“A young vegetarian begins having an unbidden taste for fresh meat after a carnivorous hazing ritual.”

I’ve been waiting so long for this film to be released in the states! SO LONG! I first caught wind of this moody cannibal movie when I was researching for my Horror Movies at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival post, and I’ve been infatuated ever since. Especially considering much-hyped reports that people fainted and dry-heaved during screenings of Raw.

But it’s not just a blood-spattered gorefest—The Guardian assures us that “What is very impressive about Raw is that absolutely everything about it is disquieting, not just the obvious moments of revulsion: there is no let up in the ambient background buzz of fear.”

  1. The Belko Experiment (March 17, 2017)

“The American Belko Company in South America is mysteriously sealed off at the start of work, leaving 79 people trapped in an office building, forced to kill each other or be killed.”

Honestly, I wouldn’t normally be very interested in a slasher/murder Olympics horror movie like this, but two things pique my interest: James Gunn and my own complicated feelings to my corporate job. I can’t help but think about that—I probably spend more waking time with my coworkers than I do with my husband and friends. We like to assume there aren’t any emotional attachments to our coworkers, but how can it be avoided? A huge chunk of your life is shared with the people who occupy the offices next to yours, with your boss, with the one coworker who always takes lunch at the same time as you and who you chat with as you both microwave leftovers. And you didn’t really choose those relationships, did you, not in the same way you can choose your friends and significant others. Yet there you are, spending the majority of your day with these people, week after week.

What would it be like to suddenly be pitted against the people you spend so much time with? That conflict fascinates me.

Also, I, like many, have strong feelings about how cutthroat and manipulative a corporate environment can be, which seems like a shallow but ultimately correct interpretation of The Belko Experiment.

  1. Alien: Covenant (May 19, 2017)

“Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, members of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think to be an uncharted paradise. While there, they meet David, the synthetic survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The mysterious world soon turns dark and dangerous when a hostile alien life-form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival.”

*Sigh*

I’ve written before about how much I love Alien, as it’s one of my favorite movies ever. It was and still is a huge influence on horror and science-fiction, and its legacy will endure for a very long time to come, regardless of how bad some of its sequels were. As a fan, I’ve longed for a return to the genius of Alien. I thought Prometheus would do that, and while that film was well-acted and beautiful and had a good premise, it failed to deliver. It was nowhere near the worst film in the franchise, but Prometheus did devolve into a clumsy mess of shallow development and characters acting stupid. It proved to be a massive disappointment after all the studio hype.

All of this is to say that I want Alien: Covenant to succeed where Prometheus failed. I really do. This trailer has me cautiously optimistic, because holy crap that opening clip is intense. And using “Nature Boy” is inspired. And the alien hunts them through the dark bowels of the ship? And Danny McBride is in this? GOD PLEASE MAKE THIS GOOD. I’ll just ignore that cheesy looking CGI in the shower scene clip.

  1. The Mummy (June 9, 2017)

“Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the desert, an ancient princess whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in the modern era, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.”

This doesn’t look like a traditional scary horror movie, but I’m still excited for what looks like an action-horror thriller. Also important to consider is how The Mummy is Universal Picture’s first attempt to “reboot” all of its classic movie monsters. Forbes reported on rumors of several films in the works: Invisible Man starring Johnny Depp, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring Russell Crowe, Frankenstein with Javier Bardem, Bride of Frankenstein with Angelina Jolie, Creature from the Black Lagoon with Scarlett Johansson, and Dracula with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Be still my heart!

And it all starts with The Mummy, as the success of this film determines the fate of the others. So yeah, keep an eye on The Mummy.

 

anticipated horror

  1. It (September 8, 2017)

“In a small town in Maine, seven children known as The Losers Club come face to face with life problems, bullies and a monster that takes the shape of a clown called Pennywise.”

What horror fan doesn’t want to see this movie? It is one of the most infamous horror novels and Pennywise is one of the most famous modern movie monsters. I mean, this clown has been giving people Coulrophobia for years! It’s about time this Stephen King classic received the proper movie treatment.

It remains to be seen if the movie will be any good or not, considering the behind the scenes drama, but you know It is going to be huge.

 

anticipated horror

  1. Flatliners (September 29, 2017)

“Medical students experiment on “near death” experiences that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives.”

In case you don’t know, Flatliners was originally a 1990 horror movie starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, and Kevin Bacon’s mullet. It may be one of the most 90s films I’ve ever seen though not in a good way. It had a great premise but was poorly executed and unintentionally hilarious, mostly due to director Joel “Let’s put nipples on the Batsuit” Schumacher. IT also wasn’t very scary.

I mean, just look at these clips:

Flatliners has deserved a proper remake for years, and I’m really hoping this one improves upon the original.

 

anticipated horror

  1. Friday the 13th (October 13, 2017)

“The return of the legendary mass murderer Jason Voorhees in the new Friday the 13th.”

As with the It adaptation, the new Friday the 13th has a reputation and a legacy that very much works in its favor. I don’t really do slashers, but the original Friday the 13th is a classic and I respect it as such. That alone makes me want to see this remake.

But wait, apparently the filmmakers really want us to know they’re putting effort into this iteration. It will be a “hard R” which means that gorehounds will be very satisfied and Jason will be terrifying. This film won’t be a found footage horror film (thank the Lord!) and will be told from Jason’s POV. The characters will be realized and developed characters, including Jason’s family! Sounds promising!

 

anticipated horror

 

  1. The God Particle (October 27, 2017)

“A team of astronauts aboard a space station find themselves alone after a scientific experiment causes Earth to disappear. When a space shuttle appears, the space station crew must fight for survival following their horrible discovery.”

The God Particle is actually the latest entry into the Cloverfield series, which continues to deliver smart and unexpected stories. There isn’t much known about this film, but I want to see it based on the premise alone.

 

anticipated horror

  1. Suspiria (TBD)

“A young ballet dancer travels to a prestigious dance academy in Berlin in 1977, only to discover it is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of increasingly grisly murders.”

The danger with remaking such iconic and classic horror films is the high probability that your remake will suck. That’s especially true for the Suspiria remake, considering how influential Dario Argento’s 1977 horror film was. This remake is an uphill battle. I’m praying the filmmakers know what they’re doing and don’t try to simply reshoot the original but opt instead to do something new with this story. At least the cast is encouraging, with Tilda Swinton as the mistress of the ballet academy, Dakota Johnson as main character Susie, and Chloe Grace Moretz and Mia Goth as students.

 

anticipated horror

  1. Killing Ground (TBD)

“Ian  and Samantha head to a national park, hoping the bush will give them space for some quiet time together. They arrive at an isolated campsite to find an SUV and a tent – no sign of the occupants. As night falls and the campers fail to return, Ian and Sam grow increasingly uneasy. The discovery of a distressed child wandering in the woods unleashes a terrifying chain of events that test the young couple to breaking point.”

I’m very intrigued by this film, mostly because Australian horror doesn’t disappoint—Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones, You’re Next, The Babadook. Rolling Stone described it as, “an impressive, not-for-the-fainthearted feature debut that cleverly plays both with narrative chronology and your central nervous system.”

Sounds good to me!

 

anticipated horror

  1. Thoroughbred (TBD)

“Two teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. In the process, they learn that neither is what she seems to be, and that a murder might solve both of their problems.”

Again, not a whole lot is known about this film, but the cast is amazing, with Anna-Taylor Joy (The Witch) and Anton Yelchin (Green Room, Star Trek). And this is Anton Yelchin’s last film due to his tragic and untimely death last year.

I think there is a ton of potential in the story itself, about two girls seeking to bond and repair their tumultuous relationship by committing a murder together. Bad friendships can be toxic enough without the addition of murder, so I’m definitely keeping watching for this film.

 

anticipated horror

  1. Housewife (TBD)

Housewife is centered on Holly, whose mother murdered her sister and father when she was seven. 20 years later and slowly losing her grip on the difference between reality and nightmares, she runs into a celebrity psychic who claims that he is destined to help her.

This is another example of an upcoming film that’s being kept mostly under wraps (indeed, whether or not this is released in 2017 seems to be up in the air). I am intrigued by the synopsis and by the director, Can Evrenol, whose most recent film Baskin was…something else.

This quote from Can Evrenol says a lot:

“’It’s almost a continuation of my work, the recurring themes of sexuality, family, social claustrophobia and nightmares,’ he explained. ‘This time it’s from a female’s perspective and it’s going to be in the English language. If you say Baskin is like my Carpenter and Stephen King homage, this is going to be Argento and Fulci.'”

That’s all I need!

  1. A Dark Song (TBD)

“A determined young woman and a damaged occultist risk their lives and souls to perform a dangerous ritual that will grant them what they want.”

Last but not least, A Dark Song is an Irish horror film about two desperate people engaging in a black magic ritual, and I am here for it! This looks so dark, giving me a serious The Monkey’s Paw vibe, which promises to explore how scary and consuming grief and obsession can be. But I’m also totally going to watch this movie just for the rituals themselves. Too often, films about witchcraft have kind of lame spells or don’t spend a lot of time on spells; as such, it’s exciting to see a film spend such time and care on depicting some terrifying spells.

And early reports support the film’s darkly attractive feel. The Hollywood Reporter described it as “Peppered with runic symbols, spooky spells and invocations to ancient gods, Irish writer-director Liam Gavin’s debut feature initially feels like a docudrama on occult rites, though it is ultimately more interested in the real-world horrors of grief and depression.“ There’s no release date yet, but you can bet I’ll be there whenever A Dark Song opens.

 

I hope you enjoy these anticipated horror movies when they come out! Did I miss any anticipated horror that you think should be included? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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