Favorite Things

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!

Favorite Things: Christmas Horror Films

Horror isn’t just for Halloween. Over the years there have been a number of great Christmas horror films to come out. Apparently Santa and his counterparts can be just as terrifying as any witch, ghost, vampire, or werewolf. When you really take the time to look at holiday horror there is to offer this time of year you may be surprised at the wide selection available to you. Keeping that in mind, I have decided to come up with my five favorite Christmas horror films. They are in no particular order, but all are beloved for their own reasons.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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Anyone who has read my site or looked at my social media knows that I count kid horror ever chance I get. It deserves as much attention as the scariest movies. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a classic film from my youth that not only encompasses both Halloween and Christmas, but it’s a great way to get younger audiences into horror. All Jack Skellington wants to do is get to the true meaning of Christmas and we as the audience get to watch things go wrong in the funniest ways. This is the perfect family Christmas horror film for all ages to enjoy.

Gremlins (1984)

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This is another great holiday horror flick that appeals to people of different ages. It is equal parts adorable, creepy, funny, and festive. While you may think this is another kid horror movie, keep in mind that there are actually a couple fairly gory scenes and many people die horrible (albeit funny) deaths. It’s hard not to love the fuzzy little creatures that multiply and become scaly green monsters that wreak havoc on the poor little town. Just try watching this film without wishing you had your own mogwai.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

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This is one of the most iconic Christmas horror films out there. I just saw it for the first time earlier this month and it is already one of my favorites. After seeing his family brutally murdered a boy grows to be a teen before witnessing another crime that makes him snap. This leads to an often times hilariously cheesy killing spree, all while wearing a Santa suit and telling his victims that they have been “naughty.” After one viewing, this film has already been added to my required holiday films that I will watch every year.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

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This Finnish film is not just a great holiday horror film, but an all around great movie. A group of workers accidentally unleashes the first Santa upon a small settlement in the countryside of Finland. The first Santa is not the fun-loving, present-giving Santa we have come to know and love. This one comes to punish bad children by whipping them and kidnapping them. Of course there is only one child that figures out what is going on, but it doesn’t take long for the adults to catch on. This film is exciting and creepy with a lot of dark humor thrown in. It also has one of the biggest “WTF” endings I have ever seen in a horror film, but it is an absolutely perfect way to end the story. One could argue that this is another film that could be watched with the family, but it all depends on your nudity comfort level (there are a lot of naked men, but the vast majority of nudity is in the shadows).

Krampus (2015)

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This film is probably the most frightening on my list, but this is also one I will likely show my kids as they grow up. It contains many of the same themes as A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life in that it is about a person (a young boy in this case) who loses his Christmas spirit and has to find it again. It can be terrifying at times, but there is also a lot of humor to it. I may be slightly biased about this film since it follows the German legend of Krampus, and much of my heritage is German, but it is still one of the best Christmas horror films out there. If you pay close attention you will also notice nods to other horror films, as well as other Christmas films. (Click here to read my full review for Krampus).

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD FRIGHT!

Favorite Things: Horror Films of 2015

Now that 2015 is over it’s time to reflect on the films I watched and reviewed over the past year. 2015 was a great year for horror. There were so many great films that came out. I wish there had been more time to watch them all, but of the ones I watched there were definitely some stand outs. My New Year’s resolution is to make more time to watch the horror films coming out in 2016. Here is my list of my 5 favorite horror films that came out in 2015 (in no particular order):

It Follows

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This was one of the more polarizing films of 2015. Most people either loved it or hated it. Personally, I thought it was a unique concept that was beautifully shot. It was almost like watching a piece of art. Probably my favorite aspect of this film was actually the score. The score was so amazing that it will likely go down in horror history as one of the best.

Full Review: https://thebloggingbanshee.com/2015/03/29/it-follows/

What We Do in the Shadows

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Horror comedy is one of my favorite horror sub-genres. What We Do in the Shadows did not disappoint. It was such a bizarre concept that came together so well. You always see vampires as these grand, regal, ancient creatures. This film made you see vampires in a different light and kept you laughing from start to finish.

Full Review: https://thebloggingbanshee.com/2015/08/04/what-we-do-in-the-shadows/

The Final Girls

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This may be my absolute favorite horror film that I saw in 2015. It was hilarious, the story was familiar and original at the same time, the acting was phenomenal, and it had some gorgeous visual effects. What makes this film stand out is because it relentlessly makes fun of the classic 80’s slasher film, while paying homage to it all at the same time. It also did a superb job of portraying what it would be like if you were trapped in a horror movie, which is saying a lot given the likelihood of that happening. If you don’t laugh your ass off while watching this film, you might be broken.

Full Review: https://thebloggingbanshee.com/2015/10/12/the-final-girls/

The Hive

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This film was quite a surprise for me. I hadn’t heard much about it beforehand, but recognized Kathryn Prescott from a couple TV shows. I had liked her in her previous work so I thought I would give this film a try. It blew me away. The plot immediately drew me in and kept me interested all the way through to the credits. These days, that is quite a feat. The Hive also has some great acting and used some intriguing visuals to catch your attention.

Full Review: https://thebloggingbanshee.com/2015/11/16/the-hive/

Krampus

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I love writer/director Michael Dougherty.  This film showcased everything I love about his work; it used a classic piece of holiday mythology, it was creepy, it was funny, and there was never a time when I was bored. Something that I feel many horror films lack these days is character development, but Krampus definitely made sure you knew the characters before things turned South. My favorite aspect of this film, and other works by Dougherty, is that he manages to makes creatures that are adorable and terrifying at the same time.

Full Review: https://thebloggingbanshee.com/2015/12/05/krampus/

 

Favorite Things: Halloween Horror Movies

Halloween. It’s my favorite time of year and my favorite holiday. The change in leaves, the crisp air, the costumes, and of course the great horror movies. It only seemed fitting that for my blog’s first Halloween I do a list of some of my favorite horror movies that take place during Halloween. This list is in no particular order and range from classics to more recent favorites. Let’s begin…

Halloween (1978) 

This is probably the most obvious horror movie that takes place during Halloween, but it is also one of the best. Like A Nightmare on Elm Street, some of my earliest horror movie memories are related to this film. It is a classic slasher flick that still sends chills down my spine, even though it’s been almost 40 years since its release. Jamie Lee Curtis really showed her acting abilities in this. She also has one of the best screams I have ever heard. She is by far one of my favorite “final girls.” Although I may be a bit biased because I think she and my mom look alike.

Honorable Mention: The 2007 Rob Zombie remake of Halloween is actually quite good. It stayed true to the original, while also adding quite a bit of back story on how Michael Myers became the iconic killer.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

This may be a slightly less popular choice, but this film definitely has a cult following. The Halloween movies were meant to be almost like an anthology series where each film focused on a different story taking place during the holiday. Many people likely went to the theater expecting to see another Michael Myers film. Because of this, the film did not do well at the box office. Since then it has become wildly popular with horror fans. I have to admit the first time I saw this movie I hated it. I have watched it a few times since then, and now it is definitely one of my favorite Halloween-themed films.

Trick r’ Treat

This is another film that has a huge cult following. I didn’t see this movie until several years after its release. When I finally watched it, I immediately fell in love. The film is done in an anthology style where all the stories are connected in some way. What makes this film so great is that it covers all the major themes you think of when you think of Halloween. The “main character” of the film, Sam, is great because he manages to be absolutely adorable and terrifying at the same time. This is very difficult to manage, and I still don’t understand how they did it. Trick r’ Treat really is a classic film that I now watch every year for Halloween.

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps will forever be one of my favorite horror movies. The fact that it takes place during Halloween just adds the icing to the cake. I find the main characters, Ginger and Brigitte, to be fascinating and complex characters. It’s also amazing the actresses are able to portray this complexity while also having to be regular teenage girls. Their bond throughout the film also draws me in. I will warn the men who are interested in seeing this film that the entire movie could be seen as one giant metaphor for a girl going through puberty, but don’t let that stop you from seeing it. There is a lot of fun gore and practical effects, plus the script for this film is absolutely incredible.

Idle Hands

I know this is probably the most cheesy movie that will appear on this list. You might say it’s a ridiculous choice. Well, I don’t care. This movie cracks me up and has fun with horror. Plus the young nineties girl in me will forever be in love with Devon Sawa. I have always loved this film because it is hilarious and has copious amounts of gore. It is a film you can watch for Halloween if you want a healthy dose of horror accompanied by a fun and light-hearted tone. Idle Hands is a great Halloween horror choice for watching with a group of friends, especially if there are some in your group that don’t necessarily want to watch a scary movie.

The Houses October Built

This film only came out last year, but it has already made quite a name for itself. The most endearing quality of this film is that it examines why people love to be scared. It also delves into how extreme some people will go with those scares. It’s a great concept, and the cast is really fantastic. I’m sure this film will only grow in popularity over the years, much in the way that some of the previous cult classics I mentioned have. My only recommendation is to watch this after you go to a haunted house. If you watch it before, you just might change your mind.

House of 1000 Corpses

This is another one of my favorite horror films, and the film that made me fall in love with Rob Zombie as a director. It’s a unique story that got me within the first few minutes. This film is intense, bloody, and filled with insane characters. What I love most about the film (and the sequel) is that Zombie manages to create characters that are truly despicable, yet there is something about them that you can’t help but love. That takes true talent, especially when you see what these crazies like to do for Halloween (and on ever other day of the year). Watching this makes me want to be a part of the Firefly family. After watching the film, you will understand that this is not the most sane way to look at that family.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

Favorite Things: Horror TV Shows (Still Running)

These days, horror TV shows seem to be more and more popular. Unfortunately, just like horror movies, they always get snubbed when the award shows come around. It seems only fitting that my first “Favorite Things” blog post be all about my favorite horror TV shows that are still on the air.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

This one is a fairly obvious choice, but it is just so damn good. I’m shocked every year that this is not nominated for some kind of award. The acting is amazing, it makes you afraid of humans and zombies, the practical effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and it never stops surprising me. That last bit may obviously be different if I had read the comics, but I haven’t so I get shocked from time to time. I just have one more word to help describe how great this show is… Daryl.

Season 6 returns Sunday, Febrauary 8th 9/8c.

Grimm (NBC)

This may be one of my favorite shows currently on TV. For those of you that haven’t seen it, the show focuses on a Portland detective who has some very interesting powers. He is what is called a Grimm, and he can see the fairytale creatures that no one else can see. Not only are the characters very compelling and likeable, but it is amazing how they weave together the stories that we grew up with and turn them into modern mysteries. They also do a great job of using the German language to name the various creatures, or Wesen, that they encounter on the show.

Airs Friday nights at 9/8c.

Penny Dreadful (Showtime)

I typically don’t mark a show as a favorite after only one season, but this is an exception to that rule. Penny Dreadful is twisted, and beautiful, and everything you could ever want from a horror show set in Victorian times. There is such masterful storytelling in this show that it is not immediately noticeable that this show incorporates some of the classic horror movie characters. The more obvious ones of Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray, but if you watch and listen closely you will find the more hidden ones. The web is so tangled that at the end of the first season you have only just started to separate the threads. It is very upsetting that I have to wait until April for the second season to start!

Season 2 premieres Sunday, April 26th at 10e/p.

Teen Wolf (MTV)

This is a completely underrated show. I think just because it’s on MTV everyone assumes that it will be crap, but that is not the case at all. The show initially got the idea from the 1985 movie starring Michael J Fox. The only true similarity is that the two main characters/best friends are named after the characters in the movie, and the main character ends up being a werewolf. After that, everything goes completely off script. The characters are so dynamic, the script is witty and fascinating, and there is a new twist at every turn. Probably my favorite thing about the show is that they introduce all sorts of creatures from mythology around the world.

Right now the air date for season 5 is TBD, but I’m guessing it will be this Fall.

Bates Motel (A&E)

Freddy Highmore and Vera Farmiga are the perfect Norman and Norma Bates. Not only are they simply amazing actors, but they create this very uncomfortable codependency between the two characters that you can’t help but get hooked on. This show does a great job of giving you a bit of the story you already know and love, thanks to the great Alfred Hitchcock, but it also brings it to modern times and gives you more of the history of the infamous mother-son duo. This show also gives you that uncomfortable feeling of liking the two main characters while also being very disturbed by them for their own reasons.

Season 3 airs Monday, March 8th at 9/8c.

Face Off (SyFy)

I couldn’t find a trailer for the current season, so I chose the original teaser from when the show first started. Not many people will consider this a horror show, but I think it should be included on this list. The show is a competition series where you get to watch people create masterful works of art that you would see in your favorite horror/sci-fi/fantasy films and TV shows. I am kind of obsessed with practical effects, so this show is definitely one of my favorites. I love seeing the creative process the artists go through to create unique creatures from their imagination. Definitely worth watching.

Airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c.

That is my list of current favorite horror shows. I would like to give honorable mention to The Strain, Z Nation (which I have been binge-watching on Netflix all day today), Bitten, and Helix. The Strain is on FX, and the other three shows are on the SyFy channel. All of them have only had one full season so far, so it is too soon for me to add them to my favorites. Maybe they will make the list next year, but I would recommend checking them out as well.