Scares that Care Weekend

I attended my first horror con over the weekend! The sixth annual Scares that Care Charity Weekend was held in Williamsburg, VA. Simply put: I found my people. I make my living as a professional fundraiser for a nonprofit organization, so going to a horror convention that gives back to charity truly made my heart happy.

If they ever decide to hire people, I will be applying for the Director of Development position. But, they’re proud of the fact that Scares that Care is an all volunteer organization. And they should be proud. They’re doing amazing things for a lot of children and families. In the mean time, I can raise money for them on my own time. Which I plan to do next year!

We drove to Williamsburg on Friday night and after a fancy Taco Bell dinner we made our way to the Double Tree Hotel. After getting over my initial giddiness of seeing a horror themed silent auction, we trekked over to the first stop: the hotel bar. Obviously. They had spooky shooters and scary cocktails! I WAS IN HEAVEN. We ordered two zombies and a booberry shooter and took it to our next destination: HOW REDNECKS SAVED HOLLYWOOD HOSTED BY THE ONE AND ONLY MR. JOE BOB BRIGGS!


Listening to Joe Bob Briggs speak for two hours about the history of rednecks on film and their contributions to Hollywood was an absolute highlight of my year. He is so damn entertaining, knowledgeable and no-frills. I loved that he had no stage theatrics or set decorations. He is the show. All he needs is a podium and a projector screen. I learned so much, most importantly that I am a Sling Blade person and not a Forrest Gump person. My favorite clip was from the Lil Abner musical in 1958, where the town of Dogpatch pokes fun at the fictional confederate general, Jubilation T. Cornpone. A reminder that there was a time when confederate monuments were lampooned.

Joe Bob could talk about anything and we’d all sit there for hours without getting up to use the bathroom or glancing at our phones. He’s that magnetic. Thanks, Joe Bob, for coming to Virginia: where you don’t have to explain “Appalachia” to the audience because we live it. Congrats to Scares that Care for landing such an awesome event. It was fantastic. PS: Darcy was there too and I love her!

On Saturday, we headed back to the convention to check out the huge selection of vendors and the celebrity room. The vendors were so much fun. I picked up an Elivra tank, a Freddy glove necklace, some Predator themed period panties, and two crochet dolls from one of my favorite local horror creators, “Horror Knots”. Then we walked into the celebrity room and Sid Haig was just sitting there with no one in line to talk to him. I couldn’t believe it. I was star struck. Our buddy got an autograph and photo with Tom Noonan, which was awesome. And I got to experience the ins-and-outs of celebrity autograph culture.

I can’t wait to go back next year. I plan to stay at the host hotel and attend more of the conference events, including readings, film screenings, Q&A sessions, and more. For a charity horror convention just 45 min from where I live, it’s well worth an annual trip.

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Twenty Great Horror Movies for Summer 2019

What I miss most about summer vacations from my youth is… actually a whole damn lot. But one aspect that sticks out is how time seemed limitless. The days seemed to last forever. The amount of times I mentioned to my mom that I was bored probably had her at least considering alcohol (she doesn’t drink and never has). That’s the beauty of youth. Time is relative. I do remember filling my days and weekends with lots and lots of horror. Because I had nothing else to do, I could watch movies back-to-back. Those were the days. But let’s be honest, not much has changed.

So this list is for you, the fourteen or fifteen year old who’s wondering how to fill their time this summer. Go forth and horror on, young buddies. And for the oldies like me? Pencil in a weekend or six for you to watch these back-to-back. Because if you can devote eight years to Game of Thrones you can spend a summer watching nothing but scary movies. Enjoy and party on!

1. The Day of the Beast (1995)

Looking for an underrated gem? The description on IMDB is all you need to know: A Catholic priest teams up with a Black Metal aficionado and an Italian connoisseur of the occult to avert the birth of the beast, and with it, the end of the world.

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2. The Bay (2012)

An above average found-footage horror that Cronenberg could be proud of. I’m from Virginia and grew up going to the Chesapeake Bay (still do!) so this one hits close to home, which I love. Show this one to your kids when they get a cut and then whine about wanting to go swimming.

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3. Friday the 13th (1980)

It’s never a bad time to watch Friday the 13th. Any of them. Summer is just when the films are especially ripe!

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4. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

The role that cemented Felissa Rose’s expertise on mangled dicks. The quintessential summer camp horror with one of the all time greatest endings.

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5. 2001 Maniacs (2005)

Technically this movie is set over spring break. But the town’s jubilee has that patriotic, Fourth of July feel that’s perfect for summer. This movie is what I imagine BBQs in backwoods Alabama are like.

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6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 or 2003)

Duh.

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7. Piranha (2010)

Love me some creature features. You should really research what Jerry O’Connell is up to these days. He is a treasure. I’m so happy he was in this iteration of Piranha. I’m also so happy that Eli Roth gets mangled. And I am an Eli Roth apologist!

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8. Lake Placid

Oh, that Betty White! Feeding those little gators until they grow too big. You knew what you were doing! An essential watch for any river or lake house trip.

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9. Deep Blue Sea

And while we’re on Lake Placid, it complements nicely with Deep Blue Sea. Like wine and chocolate, the pair bring out the best in each other. Yes, I recommend watching one right after the other. Because LL Cool J’s bird deserves it!

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10. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Sure, anyone can watch Scream. And they should, because it’s better than I Know What You Did Last Summer. But this one is set around July 4th and that makes it distinctly great for summer viewing. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

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11. Tremors (1990)

The original that started it all. Also the only movie I love more than Reba McEntire. And she’s in it. I WILL WATCH 2000000 TREMORS MOVIES. #LongLiveBertGummer

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12. Blood Beach (1980)

The tagline directly rips off Jaws 2 and I love that. Capitalize on whatever you can, amirite?! “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…you can’t get to it.”

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13. The Shallows (2016)

A shark movie with Blake Lively should not be so good, but it is. A great survival horror that at 86 minutes can be watched more than once this summer.

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14. Downrange (2017)

The daylight scenes in this horror/thriller are magnificent. The tension is palpable. The premise is interesting enough to keep you entertained. I enjoyed it.

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15. Perfection (2019)

I love body horror and this is a welcome entry from Netflix. Enough twists to keep you interested and though the ending may not be as satisfying as you want, it’s got enough oomph for a lazy summer weekend watch.

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16. Horror Noire (2019)

If you haven’t yet watched Shudder’s outstanding documentary about the history of black horror, don’t wait any longer. It’s fantastic, interesting, and educational. Don’t be cheap: shell out the $50 for a year’s subscription and support horror.

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17. Revenge (2018)

Another great daylight movie. A fresh take on revenge. And an inspiration for me to get a badass stomach tattoo.

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18. Hulu’s Into the Dark Series 

I’ve been calling these the Lifetime movies of horror. I love Lifetime so this is a compliment. Hulu’s partnership with Blumhouse has delivered six solid horror entries thus far. All of them are related to a theme for that month (Think: Halloween, New Year’s, Mothers Day). While they aren’t all as good as the others there all worth watching. And all of them are less than 2 hours long.

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19. Escape from Tomorrow 

If your family is begging you for a trip to Disney World, please watch this film. The back story is incredible. The trippy Disney scenes are worth the “what the fuck” reaction you’ll ultimately have.

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20. Rambo (2008)

This isn’t horror, but the violence and gore might as well be. Okay. I’ll fess up. I watched Godzilla: King of the Monsters over the weekend and saw the trailer for the new Rambo. Rambo 2008 is bad ass and deserves a spot on this list because A.) this is my blog and B.) sometimes ya need a quick breather from scary movies. Even me!

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Godzilla: King of the Comeback

I love a monster movie. I do not need plot. I do not need drama. I do not need substance. I need pure, in-my-face carnage, effects, and chaos. I loved Kong: Skull island for this reason. There was a love story but not a deep one. There were interesting characters but no one I really cared enough about if they died. There was humor, action, amazing effects, and the pace never relented. I felt the same way about Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Full disclosure that I have not yet seem 2014’s Godzilla, but I plan on remedying that before the weekend. Therefore I do not have that lens to go from in this review, but I can tell you that I enjoyed the heck out of Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

I am a fan of Vera Farmigia. Kyle Chandler? I like him enough. I never watched Friday Night Lights or Bloodline, but I do remember him from Zero Dark Thirty and The Wolf of Wall Street. And Millie Bobby Brown! Come on, who doesn’t love Eleven? The actors do a fine enough job (love you Bradley Whitford), but that is not why we’re here.

MONSTERS. SO. MANY. MONSTERS. Monsters in Antarctica. Monsters in Mexico. Monsters in Wyoming! In Boston! In Jordan! Everywhere – monsters. This is what we want from a monster movie.

Coolest monster of the film (for me) has to go to burning Godzilla. HE WAS FREAKING AWESOME. But I also loved and want to see more of Komunja. Yeah – Ghidora is flipping sweet, too. The effects in this movie were outta control. I can see how they easily spent $200 million. As a very casual movie reviewer with limited understanding of the actual film industry, I always delight in the 900000000 credits that scroll in a movie with lots of effects. So many people worked on bringing these Titans to life. TO WHICH I SAY: BRAVO!

My brother and I giggled at the delivery of the “humans are the real infliction” monologues (though I do agree there’s some truth there). But this is Godzilla in 2019 and we gotta remind the people about our responsibility to save the planet.

Godzilla is a technical triumph for the unassuming movie viewer. A feast for the senses. My nephew had his ears plugged for several parts of the movie because it got so loud. That’s exactly what I want in a summer blockbuster: nonstop action, explosions, creature effects, and cheesiness. LOVED IT. Stay for the clues in the credits and for the post credits scene!

I Love You, Driller Killer

Last night I watched Slumber Party Massacre I and II and I haven’t been the same since. Why did it take me 32 years to watch these brilliant diamonds of 80s horror?

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The outfits in part one are SENSATIONAL. The locker room scene makes me want to sprint to my local Forever 21 to buy suspenders and a “Space Baby” t-shirt, and I have no business being in a Forever 21. THERE’S A BASKETBALL SCENE WHERE SOMEHOW THE WOMEN DON’T WEAR BRAS. My boobs hurt just thinking about it.

Then we have the first sequel, which I greatly prefer over part one. For no explainable reason the driller killer is now a heavy metal cast member of West Side Story with a Prince-esque guitar that has a drill attached to it. To which I can only say:

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The fashion is just as good as part one, plus there’s now a girl gang band and that’s pretty rad if you ask me. Always support your local girl gang.

The undisputed highlight of part two is the sheer absurdity of the driller killer. He has an original song and dance number! HE HAS AN ORIGINAL SONG AND DANCE NUMBER. There’s really nothing else you need to know.

I think that Slumber Party Massacre II is going into my Top 5 list, but what will it replace? Stay tuned.

Great Scenes, Meh Movies

In 2018 horror fans buzzed about a certain pool scene from an otherwise critically panned sequel. I personally loved The Strangers: Prey at Night but many people were underwhelmed. However, everyone seemed to agree that the pool scene was instantly legendary. And I agree.

That pool scene started and ended strongly. It quickly broke a slasher rule and then somehow got even better. The juxtaposition of flashing neon lights, Bonnie Tyler, and the sound of the Man in the Mask’s axe scraping against the concrete is *chef’s kiss*. Director Johannes Roberts had recently finished filming 47 Meters Down and learned a LOT about underwater filming in the process of making that movie. His mastery of this technique is obvious as the camera seamlessly moves above and below water in the now iconic pool scene. I could watch that scene over and over again and cheer the same way I did in the theater when I first saw it.

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Which got me thinking…

What are other exceptional scenes in the last 20 years of horror that are in movies that weren’t overall loved by audiences and critics? The scene itself is memorable, but the movie itself didn’t blow fans away.

Top of mind for me is the Madame Bathory scene in Hostel II. This is another case where I love the movie, but horror fans in general don’t seem to agree. That scene is freaking awesome, though. What I enjoyed about Hostel II is what I wanted from the first one – more information about the members of the Elite Hunting Club. I was awestruck by the idea of a mega rich woman paying to bathe in the blood of an American tourist. The scene is visually arresting and dirty. It feels perverted, like I’m not supposed to be watching it.

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I would put 30 Days of Night in this category as well. Once again, it’s a movie I really enjoy but I have several horror-nerd friends who hate it. They agree that the scene of pure vampire carnage in the town of Barrow, Alaska is top notch. This is the point in the film where literal hell breaks loose and the vampires go ape shit on the town and its residents. Windows are shattered, wives are eaten, and guns aren’t doing a damn thing. There’s a really awesome aerial view of the massacre that nicely highlights the blood spatters on the white snow.

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Who can forget the opening scene of Ghost Ship? Unless you truly love that movie, do you remember ANYTHING else that happens? Probably not. But you remember that wire severing an entire cruise line of passengers in half. Epic opening. Great scene. The best part is when the little girl looks up at her dance partner and his head falls off. (Hi, welcome to my horror blog where we celebrate decapitations!)

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There are a few others floating around in my brain, but I’m undecided if the movies were actually deemed a stinker by fans or if they are well liked. I think in general people really love the Final Destination series. But is part two really beloved or do people just remember and rave about the log truck scene? Similarly, does any general fan of horror actually remember the plot of Jeepers Creepers 2 or do you just love that it took place on a school bus? Finally, I’m wondering about V/H/S 2. Was the whole film well received or did people just really fucking love the “Safe Haven” segment (as they should, because it’s bat shit crazy bananas awesome).

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What other iconic scenes can you think of from the last 20 years, but the movie itself wasn’t really well received?

Su-Su-Spiria

It’s true: I’ve been singing Su-Su-Spiria to the tune of Sussudio for the last few days. It’s so damn catchy, and a fun reminder of American Psycho. That’s never a bad thing.

But that’s not what we’re here to discuss. I am PUMPED to see the new Suspiria TONIGHT! Why do I feel like this movie has flown a little bit under the radar? Have promotional efforts been overshadowed by the new Halloween? Do not enough people love the original? Is it because it was released after October 31st? Whatever the reason, nothing has deterred my enthusiasm.

Like most people, I try to avoid hype. It ruined Shutter Island and The Strangers for me. Hype sucks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t avoid the initial reactions to Suspiria from attendees of Fantastic Fest. EW called the audience reactions “orgasmic”. Will it actually be a decent remake? I’m cautiously optimistic and going into the film with an open mind and no expectations. I will update this post later tonight with my usual bite-sized review.

UPDATE 11/9/18: The Review:

I was ambitious in stating I would have a review of Suspiria posted on the same night I saw it. It is a HEAVY movie. It felt like eating a six course meal with wine pairings. Like a giant, ostentatious necklace worn over a dress made of drapery fabric. I needed time to digest it. My immediate reaction was that Tilda Swinton is outstanding (in both of her roles!) The set design and costumes are spectacular. As I was watching I felt immersed in the set, like I was in the dance academy building. Like the original, this version felt like watching a dream. Unlike the original, it is not vivid. At all. It’s bleak the whole way through. And girl, it’s pretentious. This movie screams that it went to NYU and had life changing experiences while studying abroad. That’s okay – I can overlook pretentiousness if there’s substance.

The dance sequences are dazzling, but I know jack shit about dance technique and they could very well suck to a trained eye. I have NO idea how the Holocaust or other references to political terrorism ties into this story, and the final scene still confuses me. Why does this Suspiria have to live in a world that’s bigger than it? I’m not sure, but it’s why the movie is 153 minutes long. The feminist in me loves that men exist in Suspiria exclusively to be fucked with. That’s awesome. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading. Now. If you have seen it, then I know you loved the cameo by Jessica Harper! That was a fun little surprise, and she was wonderful. I’m not exactly sure if I liked Suspiria or not, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s meaty, gaudy, beautiful, and douchey. I’ll be sitting with this one for a while, and may update this review periodically haha.

See Suspiria (1977) On the Big Screen With GOBLIN Perfoming Live Soundtrack!

If you live in Richmond, VA and you have never seen the original Suspiria, you have the perfect opportunity to see it on the big screen at the legendary Byrd Theater on December 7th. Need an incentive? Mother. Fucking. GOBLIN. will be at this screening PLAYING THE SOUNDTRACK TO THE MOVIE (Read: this is a big deal). Get your tickets HERE before they sell out.

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31 Nights of Horror VII, Night 31: Trick ‘r Treat

UNLucky year 7 has officially ended! But let me be honest, it WAS a lucky October indeed! I saw my brother and his family in Charleston, SC where I also got to see a badass Halloween mural and explore Boone Hall Fright Nights. I stood with one of my best gal pals as she married the love of her life in Louisville. I hosted the best Witches Night Out to date with my best buds. I got to be a guest on the second best podcast in Richmond!! It’s been a frightfully fun October!

As always we end with Trick ‘r Treat. This year’s post is dedicated to Anna Paquin, our favorite little red riding hood werewolf (the irony is not lost on me). She got to lose her werewolf virginity by devouring a dumbass who attacker her in an alley. HOW BOUT DAT TOWN HALLOWEEN STREET PARTY THO.

31 Nights of Horror VII, Night 30: Pieces

31 Nights of Horror VII, Night 30: Pieces

Three sentence review:

If you’ve been following this year’s 31 Nights of Horror closely you may have rightly suspected that I watched the shit out of Joe Bob Brigg’s “The Last Drive In”. Pieces was shown during the event but I swear I watched it for the first time just a couple weeks before “The Last Drive In” aired, and was so excited when I got to watch it again. The movie is insane (random Kung fu?!) but the gore is great and the ending gives Sleepaway Camp a run for its money.

31 Nights of Horror VII, Night 29: Therapy

It’s French, it’s low budget, it’s found-footage style, and it’s not bad. Masks, creepy sets and a Go Pro camera are used effectively to create a dark ominous atmosphere. The movie fails in the way that the characters respond to certain situations, but if they made smart decisions and walked away from danger it wouldn’t be a horror movie.

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Therapy (2016)

31 Nights of Horror VII, Night 28: Revenge

31 Nights of Horror VII, Night 28: Revenge

Three sentence review:

This year women all around the country decided that we’ve had it with predatory men remaining in power. Revenge is horror’s perfect complement to this movement and it feels ferocious, like a hot tin beer can cauterizing its logo onto wounded flesh. Resilience and anger go the distance in this brilliant film about a woman who, like many others this year, overcomes enormous obstacles to fight back.

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