Happy New Year to all you horror fans out there!
I don’t know
about you, but 2018 was kind of an amazing year for horror. There were a lot of
original titles and a fair bit of inventive stuff. Of course, each month we saw
many of the same old bad horror movie titles, with shoddy special effects, unimaginative
jump scares, and laughable acting. Despite the highs we experienced in 2018, it
appeared that each month would bring an endless stream of subpar horror movies.
I went into this
month’s horror movie calendar feeling the same way. 2019 would be, largely, the
same, and all I could do was hope we’d have the same caliber of cool horror
movies as in 2018.
These January 2019 horror trailers weren’t that bad. Some of them were
actually, dare I say, interesting? Take Rust
Creek, which might be a more sophisticated execution of your typical redneck
survival horror movie. Or Pledge,
which promises to unleash a whole frat of Patrick Bateman psychopaths on a
group of unsuspecting underclassmen. And then, of course, there’s Glass, which isn’t really a full horror
film, but by God, James McAvoy’s Beast character creeps me the hell out.
There’s also the notable horror DVD releases this month—Halloween will hit Amazon on January 15, followed by Suspiria on January 29. Both of these 2018 horror films are solid choices, so check them out.
And enjoy this month’s new horror releases!
“Remake”—the very word inspires the most dramatic of eye rolls for horror fans. That’s because so many horror remakes are unnecessary. All too often, remakes are based on films that were wonderfully crafted, and some producer somewhere is trying to make a quick buck by dragging a good movie’s legacy through the mud.
Seriously, how frustrating is it when a solid, well-made horror classic, like 1982’s Poltergeist, gets remade? Poltergeist didn’t need a remake! And if someone just had to remake it, couldn’t they have created something better than the 2015 remake?
But then, again, how cool is it when a horror remake actually adds to or improves upon the original horror film? As much as I love Dario Argento’s Suspiria, it has its flaws. Luckily, the remake of Suspiria paid homage to the original, avoided copying the original’s aesthetic, and dove deep into the plot. What resulted was an original film that preserved the original’s legacy and stood on its own.
Or take the most recent news about the remake of Candyman, a good film that could have been great. It’s set to be produced by Jordan Peele and promises to dig into the power of the Candyman mythos against the backdrop of the now-gentrified area where the Cabrini-Green housing projects once stood. With Peele at the helm, I’m optimistic that this remake will cover a lot of new ground when it comes to racism and class differences, which is sadly very relevant.
That got me thinking—what are some other horror films that deserve a remake? What are some films that were good but not great, full of potential that shouldn’t be wasted? For whatever reason, be it a shoe-string budget, uneven writing, or production troubles, tons of horror movies never reached their full potential despite having most of the parts to do so.
Gosh, can you believe it’s December, and we’ve got nearly a year’s worth of horror movies behind us? From A Quiet Place to Hereditary to Halloween, we’ve seen horror movies make waves. We’ve also heard from quite a few quieter horror movies, like Unsane, Mandy, and Annihilation. All in all, it’s been a compelling year for horror with a lot of very creative and innovative films, but also a good amount of the same kind of mediocrity we’ve seen before.
And December 2018 is no exception. This month serves up a short but punchy list of horror movies. The recent trend of Christmas horror anthologies (love) continues with All the Creatures Was Stirring. We’re subjected to an ill-timed holiday horror film in Leprechaun Returns. Lars von Trier does his sexual and violent is-he-a-misogynist-and-if-he-is-does-does-he-at-least-feel-bad-about-it act with The House that Jack Built. And Netflix, as dependable as ever, gives us an early Christmas gift in the form of the film adaptation of Josh Malerman’s frightening, taut horror-thriller Bird Box.
Not a bad month all around, considering.
*Warning: Some Spoilers for Suspiria*
When I walked out of the theater after watching Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t know if I liked the movie or if I hated it. Oh sure, there was plenty of horrific elements and beautiful dance scenes and provocative imagery, but did I enjoy it? Was it a good movie?
And then I realized that I felt the same way after watching Dario Argento’s original Suspiria. I had to laugh. Even though the remake of Suspiria is a wholly independent film that stands on its own, it reminded me of the original in more than one way. Beyond the purposefully muted visual palate, the expanded plot, and the exploration of themes, Guadagnino’s Suspiria creates a similarly enigmatic and overwhelming horror film that compliments Argento’s work.
One of my favorite things about the horror genre is how versatile it is. From films, television shows, books, and art, horror can triumph with the right story and the right talent. And this is particularly true for the horror comic.
It’s a very different experience for horror fans—horror comics have the cinematic qualities of movies with the immersive elements of books. The most effective horror comics take the best aspects of comic book storytelling with stunning artwork, creating unique and deeply disturbing aesthetics that suck in readers and stick with them for days afterward.
With the success of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, I’ve decided that more people need to know about the horror comic, which reboots the bubbly Sabrina The Teenage Witch series with a decidedly darker angle. And while we’re at it, let’s discuss a small portion of the staggeringly good horror comics the medium has to offer.
*Mild spoilers for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina*
To the delight of many horror fans (myself included) witches are enjoying a moment in the sun right now. This year has seen films like Hereditary and Suspiria make waves with their frightening portrayals of one of civilizations oldest horror archetypes. And now, Netflix has thrown its hat into the ring with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the horror comic of the same name, itself a dark reimagining of a beloved Archie icon.
Similar to the light and wacky ’90s show Sabrina the Teenage Witch, this new Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) is a half-witch, half-human teenage girl, living with her magical aunts Zelda and Hilda. As if navigating the pitfalls of high school and teenager problems weren’t enough, Sabrina must also contend with the added responsibilities of her blossoming magical abilities.
That’s where the similarities end, because like the horror comic, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina casts Sabrina and the other witches as everything old-timey witch-hunts said witches were: full-on devil-worshipping cannibals who hold black masses in the woods and have a dangerous propensity to interfere with mortal affairs. In this new TV series, Sabrina must decide if she will embrace her human side and forsake her witch heritage, or if she will join her family by signing her name in the Devil’s book and give up the mortal world.
It’s a fun and macabre show, with lots of entertaining twists on old TGIF material. But more importantly, the fascinating thing about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is how sharply it examines the power dynamics of being a witch. Power and influence trickle down from Satan, to his high priests (all men), to influential coven members, until those at the very bottom tear at each other for scraps. This dynamic is intentionally juxtaposed against Sabrina’s yearning to harness her fledgling powers and use them as she sees fit. Continue reading
It’s officially November, which means that we’ve got a whole new slate of horror movies to discuss while steadily munching on leftover candy.
The months after October were usually devoid of quality (or even interesting) horror movies because the holiday season is the domain of awards seasons hopefuls. But that’s changed in recent years as more and more studios realize there is a year-round audience for horror.
As such, there’s a not-terrible slate of horror movies to choose from this November. Based on trailers alone, highlights include Luca Guadagnino’s stylish remake of Dario Argento’s classic Suspiria, WWII occult-horror Overlord, and zombie-musical-comedy Anna and the Apocalypse. (I’ve been waiting for that last one since I first learned about it at FantasticFest 2017! I never knew how badly I wanted a Christmas-themed zombie musical until then.) But November also has a large number of stinkers, like The Amityville Murders (can they stop with this franchise already? Lord have mercy), The Farm, and The Possession of Hannah Grace.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments!
Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that blows away audiences and critics alike. These films are nearly flawless, making perfect use of scares, genre conventions, plotting, character development, cinematography, and score to weave a bewitching triumph of filmmaking that both expands and transcends the genre.
Unfortunately, Netflixs’s Apostle is not one of these films. But damn, I had fun watching it!
Inspired by British religious horror classics The Wicker Man and The Devils, Apostle admirably bites off more than it can chew. Ambitious and thoughtful, it is a gory, thrilling film that needed more space to breathe to achieve horror greatness.
I get into a lot of spoilers here, so be warned. But that shouldn’t stop you from checking out Apostle.
***Warning! Spoilers for Halloween (2018)***
It’s a rare thing to see a horror movie sequel that expands upon and develops the source material in an exciting, worthwhile way. It’s even more unusual and unexpected for a film with as storied a following as John Carpenter’s Halloween. A groundbreaking film that spawned a stream of uninspired sequels, the original Halloween finally has a sequel worthy of its legacy in the latest Halloween film, from Blumhouse Productions.
This horror fan enjoyed the film immensely because it did much more than pay fan service to horror legend. Halloween (2018) dove deep into the genre in a way that slashers rarely do. Sure, it’s got the body count, jump scares, and genre conventions of a slasher (along with some clever role reversals and callbacks), but Halloween will be remembered as a meta-slasher.
40 years after the events of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Laurie Strode, the only survivor of that fateful night, is convinced that Michael Myers will come for her again. Between not treating her PTSD and struggling to live a functional life, Laurie has become a hardcore survivalist. But she’s lost a lot in the process. She has a strained relationship with her family—daughter Karen, son-in-law Ray, and granddaughter Allyson. She is a recovering alcoholic. She doesn’t seem happy at all. But at least she knows that when Michael Myers returns, she’ll be ready for him.
And sure enough, Michael Myers escapes from state custody the night before Halloween. He hasn’t forgotten about Laurie either, and he will stop at nothing before he finds her and kills her. After all, she’s literally the one that got away.
Few things make me happier than finding one of my favorite actors starring in an old horror movie. The cheesier and more awful the movie, the better I enjoy the newbie actor’s performance. It’s comforting to know that these rich and famous actors, all at the top of their industry, started at the bottom like everybody else.
For a genre that doesn’t get much respect, horror consistently delivers new talent. Many of today’s A-Listers got their start in low-budget and shoddy horror films, while others were a little luckier with their early roles.
I figured, being as it’s Halloween time, I should pay homage to their early roles. First, it shows you just how much, um, range, some of these actors have (or not). Second, it’s fun to wonder how their careers would have been different had they not been Classroom Girl #1 in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary.
There’s also something so delightful about knowing that Tom Hanks, one of my favorite actors, started his acting career in a horror/thriller with terrible dialogue and ATROCIOUS acting, as evidenced by this clip.
If nothing else, I hope you enjoy this list for its Bad Movie Night potential. Seriously, I’ve never seen Leprechaun or Hellraiser: Hell World (what an amazing title!).
So, without further adieu, here is a list of 20 actors who saw their film debut in horror, followed by 20 actors who had early roles in some “iconic” horror films.