Favorite Things

Favorite Things: Best of 2019

As another year ends, it’s time for me to reflect on my favorite pieces of horror entertainment. It’s been another amazing year for horror, making it incredibly difficult to narrow down what I thought was the best. From movies to books to music to events, here are all of my best horror of 2019 selections!

BEST MOVIES OF 2019 (Note: I have two #1 films as I couldn’t choose between them)

10. Sweetheart

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I had a really hard time choosing between a few films to take this spot on my list, but ultimately Sweetheart stuck with me more than the others. Released on Netflix just before the end of the year, this film by J.D. Dillard brings together the thrills of an aquatic monster film with the deeper message of a social commentary film. I wish Blumhouse had done a bit more to get the word out about Sweetheart. It has great creature design/effects, a strong performance from Kiersey Clemons, and sends an important message. Full review here.

9. Harpoon

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This film surprised me because the three characters are so unlikeable! Normally this ruins a film for me because there isn’t anyone to root for, but it worked in Harpoon. Instead of rooting for someone to survive, we could all relish in their darkly humorous demise. The small setting on a boat adds to the tension of being trapped with people you hate and the performances from all three leads are wonderful to watch. Full review here.

8. Happy Death Day 2U

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It was hard to imagine there was any way to make a sequel to Happy Death Day. Yet writer/director Christopher Landon was able to double down and make a sequel that added to the mythos, injected even more humor, added some great sci-fi elements, and made the film have even more emotional depth. Plus, it’s impossible not to love Tree, played by Jessica Rothe. Full review here.

7. Crawl

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Everyone knows I’m a sucker for aquatic horror. Crawl was no exception. It drew from multiple fears people have including natural disasters, small spaces, and of course alligators. The film is very exciting and surprisingly gory, which is everything I could want from a killer gator film. Yet I believe the film held back just enough to keep it from getting too cheesy. Full review here.

6. The Perfection

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This was a film that caught me completely off guard. While watching for the first time, it shocked me again and again while also making me question what subgenre of horror it would end up fitting into. The many twists and turns, the unique format, and the overall plot made me fall in love with The Perfection. It may not work as well upon second watch, but I won’t forget how it felt watching it for the first time. Full review here.

5. Satanic Panic

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Satanic Panic is by far the funniest horror film I saw this year. I loved the play on the classic 80’s idea that the rich get rich by worshipping the devil. It allowed for some hilarious hijinks and fun practical effects. Plus, it’s impossible to not fall in love with the trifecta of badass female leads; Rebecca Romijn, Hayley Griffith, and Ruby Modine (especially Modine because she has the best dialogue). Full review here.

4. Tigers Are Not Afraid

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Writer and director Issa López truly created a powerful film with Tigers Are Not Afraid. It offers a unique glimpse into the lives of little kids surviving on the streets of Mexico, with an added supernatural element. The children acting in this film are absolutely fantastic. The balance of cartel violence, eeriness, and heartbreak tell a beautiful story that can appeal to even those who don’t enjoy horror. Full review here.

3. Daniel Isn’t Real

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This is a film with a plot that shouldn’t work on film. Yet Adam Egypt Mortimer not only made it work, but he create a beautiful film about trauma, mental illness, and inner demons. On top of having a great story, the film also has gorgeous visuals and superb performances from the two male leads. Daniel Isn’t Real is the kind of film that really takes an emotional toll and sticks with the audience long after it’s over. Full review here.

1. Doctor Sleep

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The more I think about it, the more I completely adore everything about this film. Mike Flanagan managed to write and direct what, in my opinion, might be the best Stephen King adaptation with Doctor Sleep. Not only did he bring the book to life, but Flanagan also managed to incorporate the film version of The Shining to appeal to fans of both the film and the books. The film really perfectly conveys trauma and addiction in a beautiful way, has fascinating characters, incorporates gorgeous visuals, and has a cast of amazing actors. Full review here.

1. Midsommar

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It might seem impossible to create an effective horror film drenched in daylight, but Midsommar does just that. Seeing truly horrific events unfold in the light and in a beautiful setting somehow makes everything more disturbing. Another emotionally driven film, the way writer and director Ari Aster is able to convey grief, trauma, and the longing for that feeling of “home” results in a memorable film experience. As someone who was once in a similar relationship as the one between Dani and Christian, I found the film to be especially cathartic to watch. Full review here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (Films I watched, but didn’t review – no order)

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, Wounds, The Nightingale, Knife + Heart, Velvet Buzzsaw, Ready or Not

BEST HORROR SHORTS OF 2019

5. Road Trash – Written and Directed by Natasha Pascetta

4. Fanatico – Directed by Hannah May Cumming, Written by Hannah May Cumming and Sam Schrader

3. Hana – Written and Directed by Mai Nakanishi

2. Cemetery Song – Directed by Michelle Prebich, Animated by Justine Prebich

1. Finley – Written and Directed by J. Zachary Thurman

BEST FILM SCORES OF 2019

5. Tigers Are Not Afraid – Music by Vince Pope

4. Black Site – Music by Max Sweiry

3. Candy Corn – Music by Michael Brooker and Josh Hasty

2. Midsommar – Music by The Haxan Cloak

1. Satanic Panic – Music by Wolfmen of Mars

BEST TV SHOWS OF 2019

5. Creepshow S1 – Shudder

4. N0S4A2 S1 – AMC

3. Castle Rock S2 – Hulu

2. What We Do in the Shadows S1 – FX

1. Stranger Things S3 – Netflix

BEST BOOKS I READ IN 2019 (not necessarily released this year)

5. Osgood as Gone by Cooper S. Beckett

4. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

3. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

2. The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (I know this is cheating since it’s 3 books, but it’s my list so I don’t care)

1. Lady From the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara

BEST EVENTS OF 2019 (no specific order)

  • Midsummer Scream
  • Portland Horror Film Festival
  • The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder – including the holiday specials
  • Into the Dark on Hulu
  • Joe Bob Briggs Live: How Rednecks Saved Hollywood

 

 

Favorite Things: Wintery Hellscapes

This time of year you can always find lots of great lists featuring holiday horror films. In fact, I have done one in the past (which can be found here). This year, I wanted to do something a bit different. Here are some of my favorite films that show the dark, desolate, deadly side of snowy winters.

Frozen (2010)

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Adam Green (Hatchet) created something unexpected with Frozen, the most subtle and understated of his films. When three friends get stranded on a ski lift in the mountains, they are forced to find a way to escape or freeze to death. The film has great performances by the three leads and the snowy setting perfectly amplifies the dire circumstances the friends find themselves in. There is an anxiety in this film that worms its way into your chest and stays there until the bitter end, making it a winter must-watch.

Let the Right One In (2008)

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This Swedish film creates a unique love story in the bleak and snowy landscape. Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, young loner, Oskar, falls for the mysterious new girl next door. The only problem is, she’s over 200 years old and needs blood to survive. This film has such a beautiful plot filled with young love and realizing how far you will go for the ones you care about. The freezing, snowy suburbs of Sweden offer a fantastically ominous backdrop for the film.

Pontypool (2008)

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One of my favorite Canadian horror films, Pontypool tells the story of a radio host in a remote town in Ontario. The host is the first to report on a strange outbreak causing locals to attack each other. The film does a great job of not only creating a bizarre and entirely unique premise, but it also makes the viewer feel just as isolated as the host. While the outside world is a wintery hellscape of snow and murder, he’s trapped inside the radio studio. That single location helps to amplify just how dire the situation is.

30 Days of Nights (2007)

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This underrated vampire flick offers one of the most isolated and desolate settings for the carnage that ensues. A remote Alaska town prepares for the 30 days a year where the sun doesn’t rise, only to have the town overrun by bloodthirsty vampires. This film has darkness, freezing cold, and enough snow to make it impossible for the outside world to save them. It definitely creates a nihilistic feeling as it seems as though the characters are doomed. That combined with lots of thrilling bloodshed makes for an exciting and highly re-watchable film.

Wind Chill (2007)

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This film often gets overlooked, but it stars Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place) and has a very intriguing premise. Two college students sharing a ride home for the holidays end up stranded in the snow on a road in the middle of nowhere. As if that isn’t bad enough, they soon find themselves terrorized by ghosts of people who died on that road. The film has great performances, a mysterious plot, and a few good twists to keep you guessing. It’s sure to make you think twice before taking any snowy side-roads anytime soon.

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)

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Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to find the third Ginger Snaps film gracing this list. This prequel takes the audience back to a trader’s fort in 19th century Canada. Brigitte and Ginger find themselves trapped there with a group of men as they fight off the winter as well as a pack of werewolves. Of all the films on the list, this one really emphasizes the isolation in the snowy wilderness in a time where transportation was by boat, horse, or foot. Plus, this selection has two badass female leads, giving some much-needed feminism to a time period of male bravado.

The Thing (1982)

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Now, you knew there was no way I could have a list of snowy horror films and not include John Carpenter’s The Thing. This classic film follows a small research team in the Antarctic when it discovers a dangerous life form that can take on the shape of anyone and anything. The film has the most isolated and snowiest location on this list, amazing practical effects, and some truly memorable performances. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Kurt Russell (Escape From New York) as MacReady. This is the kind of classic you can watch again and again, never tiring of it.

The Thing (2011)

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Much like it’s 1982 predecessor, this film focuses on a research team in the Antarctic. While this film doesn’t quite have the same magic as the ’82 version, it is still a fantastic film that deserves way more love and attention than it gets. The biggest differences are that this group was the first to find the “thing” and they have a different way of detecting who is still human. The main reason the film gets overlooked is the last-minute decision to go with mediocre CGI creature effects instead of the practical effects fans know and love. Despite that, I still adore this film with it’s surprise ending and love Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane) as the lead.

Favorite Things: Feminist Films to Weed Out the Oafs

There has been a lot of clashing in the film community on social media. Much of it has been men targeting and attacking women for having a different opinion than they do. The opinions women are attacked for are often that a film with a feminist plot is good, entertaining, and/or has a great message. The fact that men attack women for these opinions is absolutely insane.

In honor of those troglodytes, I’ve created this list of five feminist films for women to show men (especially ones they are considering dating) in order to weed out the cretins from the good guys. To be clear: men don’t necessarily have to like all of these films since everyone has different taste. But if they sympathize with the men I point out in each film, or they’re against the feminist messages, then it’s time to kick them to the curb!

(This list will contain spoilers so avoid if you haven’t seen one of these films)

1. Black Christmas (1974)

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Many people seem to forget the feminist message sent in Black Christmas, but if you watch it again it will become glaringly obvious. In this classic slasher, we watch Jess (Olivia Hussey) as she reveals to her boyfriend that she is pregnant and intends to get an abortion. Her boyfriend, Peter (Keir Dullea), immediately reacts by trying to control Jess and force her to keep the fetus. However you feel about abortion, one person should not have control over another person’s body.

Peter, and his reaction, is clearly portrayed as a villain in the film. I’ve heard people say Peter is meant to be a red herring in the film, making the audience believe he could be the killer. To me, it was obvious he was never the killer, but he’s just as villainous as the serial killer. Both Peter and the killer are trying to ruin Jess’s life in their own way. If a man agrees with Peter and thinks he should have been able to force Jess to keep her pregnancy, effectively taking away her autonomy and destroying her life, then get rid of him now!

2. You’re Next

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This might be the least obvious choice on this list, but hear me out. In You’re Next Erin (Sharni Vinson), who is arguably the most badass final girl ever, has to fight for survival as a trio of masked men attack a family get-together. The twist comes when she discovers her own boyfriend, Crispian (AJ Bowen), was in on the murder plot in order to inherit his family’s fortune. While Crispian insists the plan was for Erin to survive as a “witness,” the betrayal and living hell he put Erin through leads to her stabbing him in the neck.

It’s bad enough that Crispian plotted to kill his family, who he didn’t seem to care much for, but to put the girlfriend he supposedly loves in danger is taking it too far. Erin was attacked, stabbed, chased, beaten, and almost killed by multiple people throughout the film. All of this is because her boyfriend and one of his brothers wanted the family’s wealth. If the person I loved and trusted put me through all of that, I wouldn’t care if he had instructed the killers to keep me alive; I would also stab him in the neck. If a guy you’re dating thinks Crispian did his best to keep Erin safe, run away immediately!

3. Revenge

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Horror fans are very familiar with the rape-revenge subgenre of horror. What makes Revenge a bit different is how the lead, Jen (Matilda Lutz), is portrayed. She isn’t the typical demure, innocent young woman typically seen in these films. She dresses provocatively, she flirts and dances with different men, and she is dating a married man. Jen is raped by the friend of her boyfriend. Then, instead of defending her, the trio of men push her off a cliff and leave her for dead. It is very satisfying to watch her take her revenge.

Unless you’re dating a complete monster, chances are they are against rape and will root for the victim seeking revenge in these types of films. Yet, because of the way Jen is portrayed, there are some men who don’t feel like she is justified in killing the men who wronged her. That’s why her character is so important, because it reinforces that what you wear or how you act doesn’t matter; no means no. If you know a guy that thinks Jen is just a slut who got what she deserved, kick him in the balls and kick him to the curb! (Full review here)

4. Midsommar

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One of the most popular horror films of the year, Midsommar takes the audience on a journey with Dani (Florence Pugh). Dani’s boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), is a terrible boyfriend. He doesn’t seem to really want to be with Dani, but he stays with her out of familiarity and continually emotionally manipulates her and cheats on her. Watching how horrible he is to Dani, and to their friends, makes it all the more satisfying to watch his fate fall in Dani’s hands. The moment Dani finally smiles as Christian burns alive is quite the cathartic moment.

All of Christian’s actions in the film are for his own personal gain, including his manipulation of Dani. Even after everything she goes through with losing her entire family, he can only think of himself. It’s fine if you think Christian maybe shouldn’t have been burned alive. While I think it’s fantastic and well deserved, it can be interpreted as a bit extreme. Yet, if you’re with a guy who doesn’t see anything wrong with Christian’s treatment of Dani and their friends, definitely ghost his ass! (Full review here)

5. Black Christmas (2019)

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This newest re-imagining of Black Christmas has been engulfed in controversy. The only reason for the controversy: it has a feminist message that tells men their time is up, and they can’t get away with treating women like garbage anymore. This film depicts a group of strong, independent sorority sisters being hunted down and killed by evil frat boys. These guys are condescending, misogynistic men who are prone to violence against women. Unfortunately for them, these women fight back, and they make the frat regret coming after the sisters.

Even before the film was released, men were complaining about the message of this film. They make all sorts of claims about all the different reasons this film is going to suck when it all comes down to one thing: they can’t handle feminism and women being shown as strong enough to take down men. The film isn’t perfect, so it’s one thing for them to simply not enjoy the film. If a man doesn’t agree with the message the film sends or he thinks this message isn’t important, leave him out with the rest of the trash! (Full review here)

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: 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: 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: 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.