***Warning, mild spoilers for The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires***
Vampires are my favorite monsters. I love how they represent a dangerous, alluring mixture of lust, power, sin, and death. I cannot get enough of how they are compelled by their desperate thirst even as they leverage human weaknesses to seduce victims.
Likewise, I’ve always appreciated author Grady Hendrix’s nuanced understanding of monsters and horror tropes. He possesses an uncanny ability to tap into pop horror elements, investigate how they work, and map them onto our lives. He did it in Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, both of which I loved. So, when I heard that Grady Hendrix, author of some of my favorite horror novels of the past few years, I was stoked.
I wasn’t disappointed—not only was The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires worth the wait but it is now my favorite Grady Hendrix work. As a longtime fan, I find it his most mature, compelling, and satisfying work. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires represents a new level of his craft, where he has successfully dissected the vampire archetype, crafted compelling and realistic characters, and breathing new life into an old story. And he didn’t sacrifice any of his trademark dark humor or his love for gross-out scenes.
Right now in Austin, Texas, film lovers from all over are converging to revel in their love of film. But not just any kind of films–weird films. Gory films. Films that make people squirm in their seats one minute and laugh out loud the next. I’m talking about Fantastic Fest 2019, the largest genre film festival in the United States.
Fantastic Fest 2019, as in past years, is devoted to horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and “just plain fantastic movies from all around the world.” Further still, the festival “is dedicated to championing challenging and thought-provoking cinema, celebrating new voices and new stories from around the world and supporting new filmmakers.” Over the years, the festival has put its money where its mouth is, having screened the world premieres of John Wick, There Will Be Blood, Zombieland, Split, and Apostle.
This year, Fantastic Fest 2019 has several notable films, including the world premieres of the latest Stephen King adaptation In The Tall Grass and horror anthology The Mortuary Collection. I’m particularly excited for Nic Cage’s Color Out of Space, The Lodge (from the team that scarred me forever with Goodnight Mommy), and documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street. Also, if I’m being honest, this Wrinkles the Clown documentary looks wild.
Earlier this month, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF 2019) delighted audiences and critics with a brand new slate of exciting films, not least among them being horror movies.
I just love festival horror films. Most of the time, horror
films that make the festival circuit are much more exciting and innovative than
your run-of-the-mill major studio, teen-horror flick. They may not be the best
movies in the world, and they may not be the scariest, but I feel that such
films should be encouraged and promoted. Why watch the 8th Paranormal Activity movie when you could
see something new and daring from some up-and-coming talent?
Enter TIFF 2019, which has done a stellar job of showcasing groundbreaking horror movies, some of which even went on to become huge hits commercially and critically speaking. TIFF 2019 has shown such films as The Grudge (2002), Hostel (2005), À l’Intérieur (2007), Black Swan (2009), The Lords of Salem (2012), The Ritual (2017), and Halloween (2018), among many others.
This year, the star at TIFF 2019 is Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse, a moody psychological-horror film starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattison. The film is his follow up to The Witch, which took the horror genre by storm, dividing audiences and igniting a debate about what horror movies can do. Also at TIFF 2019 is the latest Nic Cage B-movie horror flick, Color Out of Space. There’s also a bunch of indie horror films with promising premises and fresh, hungry talent in front of and behind the camera.
Check out the TIFF 2019 lineup below!
September’s arrival means two things. First, that school is
back in season, which means a return to old routines, much-appreciated cooler
weather, and a fresh round of illnesses. (Yay for daycare, ugh!) Secondly, it
means we’re officially less than a month away from 31 days of celebrating Halloween!
The best part about Halloween becoming more and more of an
event is that we get a ton of scary movies around this time of year, and September
really ramps up the horror movie releases. As a fan, I love seeing what movies
are released, especially if the September horror movies are buzzy or promising.
However, it’s not always great seeing the not-so-good offerings.
And while I’m a little late with the post (see the aforementioned daycare illnesses, boooo), September is off to a roaring start. That’s mostly due to It: Chapter Two, which is clearly the star of September horror (read my recap of the first half of It here).
Guys, what did we do to deserve this many horror movies in a single month?!?! I’m overwhelmed with all these new August horror films! From a ton of VOD films (of varying quality) to some solid theatrical releases, the August horror cup runneth over.
For my part, I’m excited for Ready or Not, Scary Stories
to Tell in the Dark, Tigers Are Not
Afraid, and The Divine Fury.
Watch those trailers and many others after the cut!
With summer drawing to a close, I find myself contemplating how the
meaning of “summer” has evolved throughout my life. As an adult, summer means vacation,
renewed gratitude for Texas-proof air conditioning, and drinking copious
amounts of rosé poolside. As a teenager, summer was consumed with plans to drop
the ten pounds that held me back from being irresistible, scrape together spending
money, and secure a sensitive-but-jocky boyfriend. As a kid, summer was
dominated by summer sports camps, vacation bible schools (blergh), and babysitting
gigs. Whatever my plans, summer means watching tons of TV shows and movies,
which prevent me from getting too bored and getting into too much trouble.
As a kid, I watched so many movies. Everything from old black and white
classics to mediocre romcoms to trashy teen slashers. I especially adored those
adventure movies of the 80s, the iconic films where a group of scrappy latchkey
kids, preteens like I used to be, face a fantastic and dangerous challenge.
Just like with the enticing and taboo slashers where teenagers talked and acted
like adults, so too did those 80s movies suck me into dream worlds where kids
answered the frightening and tempting call of adventure. The threat of injury
and death were always very real. The threat lingered constantly, and the
vicarious possibility of being the casualty, of never making it back home, of becoming
stuck in the nightmare world, was all too compelling.
Those stories have always spoken to me as well as an untold number of my contemporaries. This is the reason why Stranger Things, fueled by what critics merely assume to be nostalgia, enjoys immense popularity.
The heat is settling over the country, and so too are the July horror movies creeping onto the big and little screens. This new crop of horror movies is overtaking us all with a cloud of weird VOD releases and an eclectic mix of theatrical releases. To be honest, July horror is a crapshoot every year–for every sumptuously shot arthouse horror film like Midsommer, you have a cheap looking The Strangers rip-off like They’re Inside. For every enigmatic and dread-inducing foreign film like Luz, there’s a survival horror flick about a killer croc during a hurricane (which feels somewhat-opportunistic given all the damn hurricanes recently, Paramount!) But hey, there’s something on this list for everyone!
And I’m going to call July horror a success for no other reason than Critters Attack! is in my life now. I must see it.
release of Midsommar, Ari Aster’s
follow-up feature to last year’s Hereditary,
folk horror is enjoying much deserved time in the spotlight. While the niche
horror subgenre is known to many a horror fan (folk horror is one of my
favorite subgenres), many curious viewers are at a loss when it comes to folk
horror. What is it exactly?
Of course, as many folk horror fans will try to explain, the subgenre is difficult to pin down. Some consider it a subset of religious horror, and while I see and respect that viewpoint, I don’t necessarily agree with that. The two subgenres are related; I see them as distinct. Perhaps folk horror and religious horror are sisters. They both explore man’s fear of his beliefs, of one’s faith being tested, and of watching religion corrupt its practitioners. But folk horror has a particular flavor, a certain aesthetic, which religious horror does not replicate.
(To read my past coverage of Cannes, see my 2016, 2017, and 2018 posts.)
One of the more exciting trends in horror over the last few years has been the proliferation of horror movies making splash debuts at renowned film festivals. Horror has been defying expectations and proving the genre haters wrong by showing up and showing out at festivals like Sundance and SXSW. Even genre festivals like Fantastic Fest and Frightfest have increased their profiles to become hotly anticipated in horror and non-horror circles alike.
as a horror fan, I feel like it’s about damn time. Many critics and filmmakers
have turned their noses up to horror, so it’s nice to see the industry not only
embrace horror but start to experiment with how the genre can tell compelling
Cue the Cannes Film Festival, arguably the glitziest and most buzzworthy film festival in the world. In years past, horror films like Evil Dead 2, Pan’s Labyrinth, Train to Busan, and The Neon Demon. have garnered much attention and acclaim at Cannes. Additionally, Cannes serves as an important marketplace and networking nexus for filmmakers looking to secure additional funding or distribution for their horror films. Such attention helps the whole genre do better, which is why I catalog the horror films showing at both the Cannes film festival and the Marché du Film (Cannes’ Film Market) every year.
year’s Cannes festival doesn’t have as much horror as I would like to see
(there’s never enough horror as far as I’m concerned). It’s disappointing that
there aren’t more horror films at Cannes, but rest assured, those that will
screen are ones to watch. This small but strong group of horror films promises
to offer audiences a lot more than the same old tired remakes and half-assed
What is it about the spooky, provocative short story that moves us so? Whether it’s listening to the big kids recount ghost stories around a campfire or reading creepypastas under the covers in the middle of the night, we cannot resist the pull of eerie, enigmatic stories that linger long after they’ve finished imparting their lessons.
Personally, I’ve been fascinated and transfixed by these kinds of stories my whole life. Ghost stories, urban legends, local folklore, internet nightmares–I love all of them. And one of the reasons why I love them so much is due, in large part, to watching The Twilight Zone with my grandmother.
Before I could really understand what I was seeing, I remember visiting my grandparents’ house and watching episodes of the Twilight Zone on what was once The Sci-Fi Channel. My grandmother, who was a loving and fun grandma, was also a well-mannered and restrained woman who never had a messy house and just wasn’t a fan of dark fiction, be it books or movies tv shows. (Assuming that it was a hard-hitting period piece or something, she and my grandfather once walked out of a screening of Men in Black. Another time, I made her watch X-Men with me, and she told me in that it was the worst movie she’d ever seen.) I wasn’t allowed to watch certain movies or TV shows because they were “unpleasant” or “inappropriate.” But for some reason, she didn’t mind The Twilight Zone, and she let me watch them. Sometimes, she watched them with me.