Stories For Ghosts

Horror for the Discerning Fan

Category: folklore (page 1 of 5)

Examining The Sins of Our Collective Past in The Terror: Infamy

***Mild Spoilers for The Terror: Infamy***

During the second semester of my first year of law school, I took Constitutional Law. I remember feeling so excited about this course because of all the landmark cases I would study and how much more I would understand about my country. Our Constitution is a complex document—hell, the ink was barely dry on the Constitution before the Founding Fathers started fighting about what it all actually meant. Consequently, The Supreme Court has used the powerful tool of judicial review to shape this country by deciding on the most pressing issues of the day. I couldn’t wait to read Brown v. The Board of Education (1954) (racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional), Miranda v. Arizona (1966) (suspects in custody must be actively informed of their 5th amendment rights if their statements will be used against them at trial), and Texas v. Lawrence (2003) (laws prohibiting private homosexual acts between consenting adults are unconstitutional).

Any halfway decent attorney will tell you that America has done some shit in its past that we’ve never fully processed let alone apologized for. Supreme Court decisions are no exception. Some decisions are a black stain on our country and our ideals. Decisions like Korematsu v. United States (1944), which held that the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII was constitutional and integral to our national security.

What does all this have to with AMC’s horror television series, The Terror?

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25 Funky Fresh Horror Films from the 2019 FrightFest Film Festival

You know how sometimes there’s nothing good to watch? So many cable channels, so many streaming services, so many Blu-rays in your house, and yet you can’t find anything remotely interesting to watch? Either you’ve seen all the horror movies you own, or everything airing looks lame. So you end up watching The Office or Parks and Recreation for the five billionth time, or whatever your I’m-bored-and-want-the-TV-on show is.

Well, buckle up buttercup, because it’s time for the 2019 London FrightFest Film Festival! This year marks the 20th anniversary of FrightFest, which is kind of insane when you think about all the amazing horror movies that have graced this horror-focused film festival. The list of groundbreaking and iconic horror FrightFest films is very long—Audition, Ginger Snaps, Pan’s Labyrinth, Martyrs, and The Babadook all count themselves members of this club, just to name a few.

This year, FrightFest will screen over 80 horror films (So. Much. Horror!), which means that BUCKETS of upcoming horror films are about to flood the market looking for distributors. And that means you’ll be seeing those films shortly, either in theaters or on streaming services. Even the most difficult to impress gorehounds and the pickiest psychological horror fans are sure to find something to like.

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All Spirits Carry Messages in Petra’s Ghost by C.S. O’Cinneide

The majestic peak of Alto del Perdón, also known as the Mount of Forgiveness, overlooks one of the most idyllic and picturesque countrysides in all of Spain. Located on the storied Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, between Pamplona and the town of Puente la Reina, Alto del Perdón basks in brilliant sunshine. An eye-catching metal sculpture, erected to honor past, present, and future pilgrims, sits at the top of the mount. The pilgrimage route itself leads to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where Catholic lore states that remains of the Apostle Saint James the Great lie. The Camino is always filled with pilgrims determined to complete the 500-mile journey to on foot. It appears to be no more than a chalky and rocky dirt trail. But the trail itself is revered as a spiritual journey, one that will open the pilgrim’s heart and mind to some long-awaited truth.

Alto del Perdón does not, at first glance, seem like the kind of setting in which to open a traditional ghost story. But C.S. O’Cinneide did not set out the write a traditional ghost story with her debut novel, Petra’s Ghost, out now from Dundurn Press. Though O’Cinneide draws upon both travel tales and ghost stories for her debut, Petra’s Ghost is a refreshing spin on both of these classic narratives. (You can learn more about O’Cinneide’s inspiration for her novel by checking out the interview I conducted with her.) The result is an engrossing, creepy tale of the people who run away from the dark secrets haunting them and seek forgiveness on the Camino.

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Midsommar: Stunning But Very Cerebral Folk Horror

I live for provocative horror movies—the more beautiful, the more imaginative, and the more messed up, the better. Like so many, I want to be challenged by a horror movie. I want it to make me question why I have specific reactions, why I squirm in my seat, why I cheer when someone meets their deserved bloody end. This the expectation I carry into any movie, including into Midsommar, the latest effort from Ari Aster (Hereditary).

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Don’t Keep the Wicker Man Waiting: My Favorite Folk Horror Films

With the 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.

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Horror and the 2019 Cannes Film Festival

(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.

And 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 stories.

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.

This 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 slashers.

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March Horror Movies Deliver the Goods

Y’all, it’s a March Horror Miracle!

March is my birthday month, and the universe has seen fit to gift me (because it’s all about me) with a lot of new March horror movie releases! Many of these films were on the festival circuit in preceding months, and thus they have been on my radar for a long time. What did I do to deserve so many of them being released in my birthday month?

Where do I start? Of course, I am most excited for Jordan Peele’s Us, starring Lupita Nyong’o, which looks straight frightening. There’s also festival circuit darlings Climax, Book of Monsters, and The Field Guide to Evil. And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given a true gift in the form of Lindsay Lohan’s latest…um…role as a WEREWOLF in Among the Shadows, a cheeseball of a horror movie that will live in Bad Movie Night Infamy for years to come.

I love it.

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Not Your Average Demon – SFG Reviews “The Golem”

***Some Spoilers for The Golem (2018)***

Editor’s Note: I’m so excited and honored to announce that Stories For Ghosts has a new contributing writer, Andreana Binder! She’s a talented and whip-smart Houston writer who loves dissecting horror films and books, particularly when it comes to Stephen King and American Horror Story. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us. First up: Andreana’s review of The Golem.

As an audience, demons derived from Christian/Catholic belief, like in The Nun (2018) or The Conjuring series, are pretty common. Also fairly common are the demons with loose origins, like in Annabelle Creation (2017), and Insidious (2010). Most of the time, we’re dealing with demons from some version of Hell – and while it’s not uninteresting, it’s been done before.

That goes double for all the movies that include the Christian/Catholic Devil – again, the devil isn’t uninteresting, we’ve just seen him a lot. The presence of Christian/Catholic demons in religious horror films perpetuates itself, and while I always hope to see the demon story told differently, sometimes it falls flat. It’s kind of like Frankenstein or Dracula movies – same character, mostly the same strengths, weaknesses, and challenges – where we as an audience are counting on something “different” to occur. Because the story’s been told before, we may rely on other factors like the dialogue, direction, special effects, or cinematography to give us a fresh experience or an exhilarating ride.

Thus, lately, as far as demons go, I’ve been sitting back like, “Meh. Demons.” We don’t get too many movies about Haitian demons, or entities like Pap Legba (seen recently in American Horror Story: Coven.)

I haven’t seen any golems lately. So rarely are we presented with a story rooted in Jewish folklore that gives us a demon to wrestle with. And because I feel like I get heavy doses of demons from other belief systems, The Golem (2018), rooted in Jewish folklore and mysticism, was pretty refreshing.

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15 Scary Good Horror Novels for Your 2019 Reading List

I don’t know about you, but every year I make a resolution to read more horror novels. I experience varying levels of success each year (because life happens). Not that it stops me from buying more and more horror novels and adding to my already out-of-control horror novel collection.

Sigh. There are just too many intriguing horror novels out there, and so little time.

But I feel optimistic about this year! Really, I do. I am making a concerted push to read more in general, especially when it comes to my beloved horror genre. Just as I saw in 2017 and 2018, this year will see the publication of a ton of cool horror novels and novellas, so I certainly won’t have any problems finding good options. Choosing among them will be a different story, however.

All in all, there are 15 horror novels that have caught my eye so far, with something for everyone. Specifically, I’m interested in Caitlin R. Kiernan’s latest haunting short story collection, The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan; Josh Malerman’s new dystopic vision, Inspection; the gothic-inspired nightmare PEtra’s Ghost by C.S. O’Cinneide; Grady Hendrix’s delightful-sounding My Mom’s Book Club Killed Dracula; and the arresting A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs.

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Apostle: A Promising Religious Horror That Should’ve Been a Miniseries

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.

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