Favorite Things

Favorite Things: Birthday Movies Pt 3

Today is my birthday! To celebrate I wanted to create some fun movies lists for you all. I couldn’t decide what the basis for my list should be so I’m giving you not one, not two, but THREE movie lists! This list features my favorite films that came out the year I was born, 1988. There were a lot of great films that year so it was difficult to narrow down to just a few favorites.

Here are my top five favorite horror films that were released in 1988 (in no particular order):

1. KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE

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Killer Klowns from Outer Space isn’t just one of my favorite movies from 1988, but it’s also one of my favorite movies ever. It has a space ship that looks like a circus tent, cotton candy cocoons, living balloon animals, dangerous popcorn, and alien clowns who want to drink us dry. It’s really a recipe for an 80’s masterpiece. The film is definitely out there, but it’s campy and fun and the design for the clowns is amazing. There was so much clever thought put into all the clown details and how they could be made deadly that it’s nearly impossible not to enjoy this flick.

2. NIGHT OF THE DEMONS

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I only saw Night of the Demons for the first time a couple years ago, but it became an instant favorite. A group of kids go to an abandoned funeral home to party on Halloween night and accidentally unleash ancient demons that possess and kill the kids one by one. The practical effects are to die for, and the plot is surprisingly good for how campy the film is overall. There is one specific practical effect alone that makes the film worth watching (and if you’ve seen the film you know what I mean). This is a must-watch every October.

3. WAXWORK

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Of all the horror films on this list, Waxwork I have the oldest memory of. I remember finding it on TV one day when I was very young and instantly being mesmerized. The film brings a creative story in which a mysterious wax museum comes to town and when a group of kids explore it they find the exhibits come to life, sucking the kids into the scene. This film also has many recognizable faces from other horror films such as Zach Galligan (Gremlins), Deborah Foreman (April Fool’s Day), and David Warner (In the Mouth of Madness). This isn’t an 80’s film that gets much recognition, but it is one worth seeking out.

4. POLTERGEIST III

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Poltergeist III scarred me for life as a child. To this day I refuse to have mirrors anywhere in my house (except the bathrooms) and my dislike/fear of mirrors started with this film. Carol Anne moves in with her aunt and uncle into a fancy high-rise, only to have Kane try to come after her through mirrors and any other reflective surfaces from the other side. This is honestly the weakest film in the Poltergeist franchise, but it is the one that effected me the most as a child and remains a favorite of mine.

5. SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA

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A group of sorority girls and frat boys break into a bowling alley. They accidentally break open a trophy and unleash an imp set on mischief and carnage. If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. I only saw this film for the first time last year (thanks to Joe Bob Briggs) and it is so bizarre and hilarious that I couldn’t help but fall in love. As shocking as it may sound, this is the most ridiculous and outlandish 1988 films on this list. If that doesn’t convince you to see Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama, I don’t know what will.

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Favorite Things: Birthday Movies Pt 2

Today is my birthday! To celebrate I wanted to create a fun movies list for you all. I couldn’t decide what the basis for my list should be so I’m giving you not one, not two, but THREE movie lists! This list features my favorite films released in the month of January (my birthday month). January is generally considered a “dump month,” which sucks for me, but I found a surprising number of awesome horror films that were released during this month.

Here are my top five favorite horror films that were released in the month of January (in no particular order):

1. TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT (1995)

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Demon Knight is an awesome Tales from the Crypt horror comedy starring Billy Zane (Titanic) and Jada Pinkett Smith (The Matrix Reloaded). Zane plays a demon trying to get a relic to end the world, and Pinkett Smith is one in a group of unfortunate souls trapped in an old church turned boarding house. This film has awesome creature design for some of the demons, and Zane shows yet again that he can play one hell of a bad guy. This is arguably my favorite film on this list.

2. CLOVERFIELD (2008)

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This is one of the better found footage style films. During a going away party New York is attacked by a giant monster and a small group of parygoers has to try to find their friend and escape the city before it’s completely destroyed. The film is really tense and I love that the filmmakers managed to take a Japanese-inspired giant monster movie and translate it into the not always love found footage format. Cloverfield has a killer creature design and keeps me at the edge of my seat from start to finish.

3. FORM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)

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Two bank robbers hijack a family in their RV to cross the Mexican border and meet a friend at a remote bar. Unfortunately for them, the bar is infested with vampires. The group has to band together to stay alive until the sun comes up. This was the first Robert Rodriguez (Planet Terror) film I had ever seen, and he quickly became a favorite director. This film has copious amounts of gore, amazing creature design and practical effects, plus several great actors. It’s hard not to love this movie as you’re watching the limbs fly and laughing at the dark humor.

4. PHANTOMS (1998)

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Phantoms has a really unique plot that still gives me chills to this day. Based on the novel by Dean Koontz, it follows a group of people as the enter a remote town where everyone has disappeared. From there it only gets more dark and twisted as an evil entity threatens them. Many of the cast members were just starting to become household names when the film came out, and their performances are stellar. The evil in this film is really anyone’s worst nightmare, and the film conveys that so well. No matter how many times I watch the film it still freaks me out.

5. DEEP RISING (1998)

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Imagine going up to a fancy cruise ship with the intention of robbing the place, only to find a giant sea creature has already taken over and eaten everyone on board. That is what you get when you watch Deep Rising. This is a criminally underrated film that is probably one of the best water monster movies to date. It has a great cast and does a good job of bringing some fantastic scares and gore. This is a monster you wouldn’t want to meet, but it’s definitely a movie you should see.

Honorable mention: The Relic, Split, House on Sorority Row, Tremors, My Bloody Valentine (2009).

Favorite Things: Birthday Movies Pt 1

Today is my birthday! To celebrate I wanted to create a fun movies list for you all. I couldn’t decide what the basis for my list should be so I’m giving you not one, not two, but THREE movie lists! First up is a list of horror films that take place on or around a character’s birthday.

Here are my top five favorite horror films that take place during a birthday (in no particular order):

1. FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

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While a birthday is only really mentioned in passing, there was no way I could not include Friday the 13th on this list. The killings that take place at Camp Crystal Lake happen on what would have been Jason Voorhees’ birthday. This is a classic slasher flick that made way for numerous sequels. All the kills in this film are as awesome as in the subsequent films, yet this first installment stands apart for one specific reason (which I won’t mention even though by now you should know the spoilers). Friday the 13th is a film every horror fan needs to see.

2. MY SOUL TO TAKE (2010)

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This was Wes Craven’s penultimate film he directed and the last feature film he wrote. My Soul to Take revolves around a group of kids all born on the same day. The night they were born a serial killer with multiple personalities was killed, so the townsfolk believe one of his personalities went into each kid. It’s a really great concept, but for some reason the film was not liked by critics and moviegoers alike. I personally love this film. It’s a great story with a wonderful cast and an amazing performance from Max Thieriot (Bates Motel).

3. DEMONS 2 (1986)

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If you’ve seen Demons and thought that was crazy, just wait until you see Demons 2. This sequel takes the insanity and gore from the first film and injects it with steroids. There are crazed demons, a dog creature, and tons and tons of gore all inside a 10-story high-rise. It all starts with a teenage girl’s birthday where she ends up possessed, and the “plot” continues to go nuts from there. In terms of quality the first film is probably better, but Demons 2 is still gory and unintentionally funny. If you love campy films, you’ll love this one.

4. HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017)

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This is a film that really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. The basic premise is a college student who gets repeatedly killed on her birthday, only to wake up and restart the same day. Happy Death Day is one of the most successful horror films that uses the gimmick made famous by Groundhog’s Day. It has a really great mystery, it’s fun, and it had me laughing the entire time. This is a film I definitely recommend, especially with the sequel coming out this year.

5. CHILD’S PLAY (1988)

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Child’s Play is a double-whammy because it takes place during a birthday AND it came out the year I was born. As I’m sure you all know, the film tells the tale of a serial killer who uses a spell to put his soul inside a Good Guy Doll in order to escape the police. Then a woman buys that possessed doll for her son’s birthday, which leads to murder and mayhem. Like Friday the 13th, this is another classic horror film that spawned several sequels. I personally love villains with a lot of personality, so Chucky is one of my favorite bad guys to watch.

Favorite Things: Best of 2018

TOP 10 HORROR FILMS

10. All the Creatures Were Stirring

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There are new Christmas horror films every year, and this is one of my favorite additions of the past decade. The anthology, written/directed by Rebekah and David Ian McKendry, has a little something for everyone and perfectly combines chills, laughs, and the holiday spirit. Click here for my full review.

9. Bird Box

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I had a difficult time choosing between Bird Box and A Quiet Place, but I thought this film was ever so slightly more well-put together. The film is thrilling while also pulling on the viewer’s heartstrings. What really elevates the film is the concept for the entities killing off the human race. Click here for my full review.

8. Overlord

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This film definitely surprised me. It is visually beautiful, has fantastic performances, and is as exciting as it his frightening. The filmmakers perfectly blend historical events with the horror genre in a way that catches the audience’s attention. Click here for my full review.

7. The Ritual

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The Ritual is dark, mysterious, and brings a depth to your typical lost in the woods subgenre of horror. The film uses gorgeous visuals to create a metaphor for grief and guilt. It also has some of the most beautiful creature design I’ve seen in a while. Click here for my full review.

6. Cam

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It’s not every day that sex work is portrayed in a way that is both realistic and non-negative. Cam does just that, plus it has a suspenseful horror twist that catches the viewer’s attention right up until the credits roll. Click here for my full review.

5. Suspiria (2018)

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This remake of Argento’s classic film brings audiences a new and hauntingly beautiful film. It boasts a compelling plot, outstanding performances, and some scenes of rather shocking brutality. The filmmakers definitely succeeded in honoring Argento’s film while also creating something new and unique. Click here for my full review.

4. Revenge

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Revenge is a film not talked about enough this year. The rape-revenge film, directed by Coralie Fargeat, truly brings something beautiful to the sometimes controversial subgenre of horror. It is visually stunning, has amazing performances, and has one of my favorite scores of the year. Click here for my full review.

3. Mandy

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This film was made for Nic Cage. It is insanity personified with amazing visuals, loads of carnage, and an amazing 80’s aesthetic. Cage shines in the role, and he delivers one of his most memorable performances to date. Click here for my full review.

2. Annihilation

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This scifi-horror genre bender is one of the most thought-provoking films of the year. It also has some of the best CGI effects of the past decade, creating an absolutely gorgeous film that is also terrifying in its own way. The female-driven film has it’s polarizing moments, but I loved every minute of it. Click here for my full review.

1. Hereditary

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Hereditary is the kind of horror film that is truly terrifying to me, and it is one of the scariest films I’ve seen in ages. It stuck with me long after the film ended. Toni Collette should win all the awards for her performance, and Alex Wolff held his own right along with her. This is the kind of film that you can watch again and again and still notice new details. Click here for my full review.

TOP 5 SHORT FILMS

  1. Wild
  2. What Metal Girls Are Into
  3. The Night Delivery
  4. Love Cuts Deep
  5. The Day Mum Became a Monster

TOP 5 TV SHOWS

  1. Channel Zero: The Dream Door
  2. Haunting of Hill House
  3. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  4. American Horror Story: Apocalypse
  5. Ash vs. Evil Dead (ended in 2018)

TOP 5 HORROR EVENTS

  1. The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs – Shudder
  2. Diners of Death with Joe Bob Briggs – Shudder
  3. A Very Joe Bob Christmas – Shudder
  4. International Horror and Sci-fi Film Festival – Phoenix, AZ
  5. Into the Dark – Hulu

TOP 5 HORROR FILM SCORES

  1. Revenge – Rob
  2. Halloween (2018) – John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies
  3. Suspiria (2018) – Thom Yorke
  4. Mandy – Jóhann Jóhannsson
  5. Summer of 84 – Le Matos

Favorite Things: Best of 2017

Disclaimer: 2017 was a busy, stressful, and emotional year. Between working full time, going to school full time, trying to maintain this website, and dealing with personal issues, I have neglected my site more than I care to admit. As a result there are several films I saw in 2017 that I unfortunately never had time to write reviews for. Instead of stressing out about it and trying to cram multiple reviews into the last few days of the year, I’ve decided to instead start 2018 with a clean slate. Some of the films in my top 10 list I did not write reviews for, but I will include a number rating for those films and links to the full reviews for others.

Ok, now for the fun stuff. There were many amazing great horror films, shorts, and TV shows in 2017. Here are my top picks for the year!

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2017

10. It Comes at Night

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This film suffered from misleading advertising. Between the name and the trailer, audiences got the impression it was going to be a very different film than what they got. Looking past that, It Comes at Night is still an intense film that puts audiences in the frame of mind of the main characters. All we know is there is an end-of-the-world type virus killing everyone, but no one knows anything more about the virus or what is going on in the rest of the world. The concept, along with a stellar performance from Joel Edgerton (The Gift), makes for a suspenseful film that sticks with you. OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10

9. A Dark Song

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A Dark Song is a polarizing film. The majority of the plot is a slow burn showing the meticulous ritual a mother goes through to get revenge on those who killed her son. The climax then goes in a wildly different direction leading to a fascinating image that some will love and others will hate. Personally, I thought it all worked well together, and the two leads are both fantastic, especially Catherine Walker (Critical) as Sophia. Click here for my full review.

8. IT (2017)

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The latest adaptation may not have had the scares everyone expected, but it was exciting, well written, and had a superb cast of young actors. This film managed to make Pennywise a much more terrifying monster because they actually showed him being violent towards kids, something lacking in the first adaptation (and something many horror films don’t have the guts to do). This film makes me excited to see part two. Click here for my full review.

7. Hell House LLC

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There is one thing that makes me love Hell House LLC so much; it is not only the scariest film I saw in 2017, but it is also the scariest film I can think of in recent memory. Writer/director Stephen Cognetti took the more subtle approach with his scares, and it definitely paid off. This film is a perfect example of found footage done right. Click here for my full review.

6. The Devil’s Candy

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Metal music and the devil go hand-in-hand in The Devil’s Candy. The film is haunting and atmospheric, utilizing music to drive the plot down a dark and twisted path. The great story is accompanied by an even greater performance by none other than Ethan Embry (Empire Records). This could be Embry’s most powerful performance yet. Click here for my full review.

5. Gerald’s Game

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I hadn’t read Stephen King’s book before seeing Gerald’s Game. The plot sounds like something that wouldn’t work in a feature length film, but director Mike Flanagan made a thrilling and suspenseful film with various scenes that won’t leave my mind anytime soon. The film also has one of the strongest female performances of the year from Carla Gugino (San Andreas). OVERALL RATING: 8/10

4. Tragedy Girls

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Tragedy Girls was one of the most fun film experiences I had this year. It is disturbing, hilarious, and sweet all at the same time. Both Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool) deliver hilarious performances with great chemistry between the two of them. The film perfectly displayed the lives of teenage girls; these teenage girls just happen to be serial killers. OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

3. Get Out

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Jordan Peele gave audiences a socially poignant thriller that is equal parts disturbing and funny. Get Out may be one of the most important horror films to come out this year because of the social climate throughout the country. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s just a genuinely great film with an interesting story and lots of little hidden meanings throughout. Click here for my full review.

2. Raw

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For most of the year Raw held the number 1 spot on my list of favorite films in 2017. While it got bumped at the last minute, this film still stands out in my mind. Raw is a French film focusing on a girl going through a sexual awakening while also discovering she has cannibalistic tendencies. The film is intense, unsettling, and even beautiful. Click here for my full review.

1. The Shape of Water

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The Shape of Water is not only my favorite film of 2017, but it just might be my new favorite film of all time. It is visually stunning, well acted, and has a beautiful story that many people will be able to relate to. Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Elisa. Guillermo del Toro yet again proves that he is a master of his craft with this gorgeous piece of art. Click here for my full review.

Honorable mention: Dave Made a Maze, The Night Watchmen, The Babysitter, Boys in the Trees, Better Watch Out.

TOP SHORT FILMS OF 2017

TOP TV SHOWS OF 2017

  • The Exorcist
  • Stranger Things
  • Bates Motel (series ended in 2017)
  • American Horror Story: Cult
  • Grimm (series ended in 2017)

Favorite Things: Women of Horror (Characters)

At the 2017 Phoenix Comicon I had the pleasure of being a panelist alongside three amazing women to discuss the female perspective of horror. The panel went over female stereotyping in horror, the difference between how male and female anatomy is censored, and why women enjoy horror when it is typically considered a genre for men. This made me think of various female characters in horror films that could be considered role models. These are the women who are strong, independent, and break the mold of what we typically see of women in horror films. Here is the list of my top 5 favorite female characters in horror:

5. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) – The Silence of the Lambs

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Clarice Starling is one of the few female law enforcement characters in horror films that isn’t a caricature. She is strong, intelligent, and determined to make a name for herself in a male-dominated field. Starling is also completely fearless. She mentally takes on Hannibal Lecter, and physically takes on Buffalo Bill. Clarice Starling is also a standout because she is not defined by her relationship with a man. Many times during The Silence of the Lambs she is hit on, but she barely even acknowledges it because her career and the case are more important. Starling should be every woman’s role model.

4. Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie) – House of 1000 Copses, The Devil’s Rejects

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This is probably one of the more odd choices for my list. I am not saying people should aspire to be like Baby Firefly because, let’s face it, she’s a psychotic murderer. Instead, she is on the list because she plays a unique role in the horror world. Most of the time when a horror film has a female villain, she is doing evil things for a specific reason. Sometimes that reason is revenge, sometimes it is fear, sometimes it is because of childhood abuse. Baby Firefly is one of the rare female horror villains that does evil things simply because she enjoys it, like we see with many male horror villains. I would love to see more evil women in horror like Baby Firefly.

3. Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) – A Nightmare on Elm Street, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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It’s no secret that A Nightmare on Elm Street was my first horror film. Nancy Thompson is on my list because she is not your average slasher film final girl. Leading up to this film, final girls mostly just survived or they were saved at the last second by a man. Nancy is different. When she learned that her life and the lives of her loved ones were in danger, she gets to work. Not only does Nancy study up on the killer, but she even studies survival tactics and traps in order to defeat Freddy. Nancy is the first well-known final girl to truly go into defensive mode and try to find a way to not just survive, but eliminate the threat. If you ever find yourself being hunted by a psycho killer, be like Nancy.

2. Erin (Sharni Vinson) – You’re Next

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Erin is a more recent final girl, but she is definitely one of the most amazing. As soon as people start getting picked off in You’re Next, Erin is ready. She takes the skills she grew up learning and uses them to her benefit. Not only does Erin keep herself calm, but she also tries to keep everyone else calm and safe throughout the entire film. She puts her survival skills to the test by finding the most logical solution to each problem she encounters, and even sets a few brilliant traps to try to stop the attackers. Erin is one tough lady, and someone I would want by my side if I were in a slasher film.

1. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) – Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection

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Ellen Ripley, the epitome of a female horror role model. While the first Alien film is probably the only one that can truly be called a horror film, she is still number 1 on my list. Ellen Ripley is a complete badass, and she is probably the first woman in horror that takes on traditionally male roles. She is strong, she is a leader, and she is determined. Ripley is another female character that often takes on the leadership roles that would normally be played by a man. Not only does she excel in this role, but she also doesn’t take any crap from the men that try to challenge her. What’s even more amazing about her is that she will always do her best to save everyone, not just herself. She even saves a cat from the terrifying Xenomorph!

Favorite Things: Horror Films of 2016

2016 was another amazing year for horror. It was incredibly difficult to come up with a top ten list for my favorite horror films from this year. Even harder was putting those ten films in any kind of order. While I have changed my mind on my list multiple times since writing it, I’m going to go with my gut and stick with my current list as it is. Here are my top ten horror films of 2016 in order.

10. Last Girl Standing

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I had the chance to see this gem at the International Horror and Scifi Film Festival (IHSFF). While I didn’t know what to expect, I was definitely blown away. Every time I watch a slasher movie I can’t help but wonder what happens to the survivor after the movie ends. Writer/director Ben Moody gave the audience exactly that in his first feature length film. It’s exciting, mysterious, and shocking in turn. Click here to read my full review.

9. Under the Shadow

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This is another film from the IHSFF. There are so many things I loved about this film. Not only was it very creepy and atmospheric, but it also had a lot of interesting cultural aspects. It was like getting a bit of a historical and cultural lesson wrapped into a very creepy horror film. The mother-daughter duo were also delightful. Click here to read my full review.

8. We Go On

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We Go On was a film that I happened upon at Cinequest. I went in knowing nothing about the film except it was a horror film that fit into the movie schedule I made for myself. I am so thrilled I was able to see this on the big screen. It is such a unique and well acted film. I really can’t rave about it enough. Everyone needs to see it, whether you are a horror fan or not. Click here for my full review.

7. Don’t Breathe

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This was one of the most exciting thrillers that has come out in ages. It was a perfect storm of writer/director Fede Alvarex, actor Stephen Lane, and actress Jane Levy. This trio created a disturbing film that brings such a high level of intensity you almost never get a chance to breathe (no pun intended). Click here for my full review.

6. The Blackcoat’s Daughter

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I had the chance to see this film at Cinequest when it was known as February. Sadly, I missed the showing. Then, luck struck, and the film got picked up for the IHSFF. This is a film that is quite disturbing. It manages to work so well as a film that is not a linear story line. Everything is revealed to the audience in pieces that eventually create a complete, disturbing plot. Click here for my full review.

5. Train to Busan

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Train to Busan is one of the best zombie flicks I have seen in recent memory. It is scary and gory. At the same time the film addresses social issues of human nature and creates a dynamic cast of characters. It’s a film that will excite you while also tugging at your heartstrings. I wish I had seen it sooner, but I’m glad I saw it in time to put in my top ten list. Click here for my full review.

4. The Witch

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The Witch was the first great film of 2016. It is beautifully shot and creates a story of paranoia. Not only was I impressed at the beauty of this film, but all the actors were absolutely perfect (especially the lead, Anya Taylor-Joy). She is clearly an up and coming actress in the horror world, and I cannot wait to see more of her work. Click here for my full review.

3. Green Room

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This film is in my top ten for many reasons. It is an exciting story, it has absolutely stunning practical effects, and it stars the late Anton Yelchin. This film has everything going for it. It is another one that falls more into the thriller category, but as I always say, thriller is deeply rooted in the horror realm. Of the films on my top ten list, this is the one I’m looking forward to watching again the most. Click here for my full review.

2. The Monster

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For a while, The Monster was my number one film of the year. It is still one of the best films I saw in 2016. This film is one of the most gorgeous films I saw this year, filled with amazing cinematography. It also has a plot that drew me in with the deranged relationship between mother and daughter. I loved watching their dynamic and how it changed as they were thrown into peril. Click here for my full review.

1. The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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This film was so fascinating and terrifying at the same time, there was no way it wasn’t going to be in my top ten. What really bumped it up to number one was the insanely realistic practical effects. I also loved how they blended science with the supernatural. It made for a very unique film I can’t wait to watch again, especially since I’m sure there are details I missed the first time around. Click here for my full review.

HONORABLE MENTION: There are a few films that didn’t quite make my top ten I still feel deserve a nod. Those films are Blair Witch, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Lights Out, The Wailing, and Sadako vs. Kayako. While they didn’t quite make the cut, they are definitely great films in their own way and worth watching.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!