WIHM 2020

February is just a few short days away. And it’s a leap year! That means it’s the perfect year to celebrate Women in Horror Month (WIHM). Obviously, women in horror are and should be celebrated all year. February is the month where we just get a lil’ extra.

I’ll be celebrating all month with posts highlighting my favorite ladies of the night, including some local creators and events. You can find and follow a TON of gnarly women by visiting the main Women in Horror Month website: https://www.womeninhorrormonth.com/

I’m a horror blogger who happens to be a woman. Hear me roar.

Signed, your favorite graveyard gal,

Katie

The Possession is Underrated

Unfortunately I didn’t grow up Jewish, so I had never heard of a Dybbuk much less the Dybbuk box. The mythology (or at least Wikipedia) states that a Dybbuk is a malicious, possessing spirit of a dead person. A writer named Kevin Mannis gained national attention in 2001 when he sold a “Dybbuk Box” on eBay. You can go down that rabbit hole yourself with a quick google search. I’m not here to discuss Dybbuks or the real box, but I AM here to remind you of an underrated possession movie based on it: 2012’s The Possession.

The film’s opening scene has excellent special effects as an old woman becomes the first victim of the box’s violence. As she lay recovering at home, fully bandaged from the spirit’s attack, a young girl takes the box away from a yard sale. Strangeness ensues and the little girl, Emily, becomes seriously creepy and obsessed with the box. The scene where Emily becomes actually possessed by the Dybbuk is one of my favorites. The sound of the Dybbuk spirit whispering to her in a dark parking lot is unsettling and the depiction of the moths being swallowed under the lamp post is one of the more literal portrayals of a possession on film.

The effects are great throughout the movie. At one point Emily menacingly looks at her mom’s new boyfriend and reveals that she’s holding a tooth. As the boyfriend (a dentist) inspects the tooth, Emily’s eye roll around in her head and what appears to be an outline of a human hand attempts to climb out of her cheek.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Emily’s dad well, and I appreciate that he finds out about the Dybbuk and immediately attempts an exorcism. No skepticism, just solutions oriented. That’s what we want in a dad! I love that he travels to Borough Park in Brooklyn and meets with MATIYASHU (hahaha) to learn more about the Dybbuk. I’ve seen plenty of Christian based possession movies and I for one am thrilled to have a lens from a different religion. I’m an Atheist, but I really enjoy religious folklore, especially about evil spirits. Let’s get a Jehovah’s Witness horror story or something for god’s sake.

Back to the film. Matiyashu comes back with Jeffrey Dean Morgon to do an exorcism. Meanwhile Emily’s mom, Kyra Sedgewick, is seriously in denial about her baby girl being swallowed up by a Jewish demon. Kyra always bring a convincing performance to any project she’s in. Why don’t we appreciate her more? Why is Kevin Bacon always seemingly having money issues? Where did I put my Tremors box set? Okay. A hallmark of a good possession story is that there’s always this weird, unhuman voice that comes from the demon. The Dybbuk is no exception. It has a raspy, dark voice but DOES speak English.

Whew boy, then we have this scene where Emily takes out Brett, her mom’s new boyfriend. Her demon powers allow her to remove all of Brett’s teeth and causes him to jet out of town. I would, too. I did not sign up for your kid’s drama nor to lose all my damn teeth. But it’s creeeeeeeepy! That scene is in the top 15 creepiest kid scenes for sure. We then learn the demon’s name: ABYZOU: Taker of Children. How convenient that it found Emily at a yard sale.

Then we have the quintessential MRI scene, which gifts us with a FREAKY FACE inside of her. The recommended treatment is – a nap. Until Matiyashu comes in to save the day and do an exorcism. I know it seemed like I was giving him crap earlier but he actually does a pretty decent job as an actor. The actual exorcism scene is really well done. The CGI isn’t TOO distracting (there’s no unnecessary black smoke that follows her or anything stupid like that). And there’s a supremely unnerving scene in the morgue that I remember being affected by when I saw it in a theater. Not as scary the second time around, but still quite eerie. Grainy red lighting is always spooky.

I like this movie. Not sure if it’s just because I’m into the actual concept of a Dybbuk or if it’s actually a solid flick, but I enjoyed rewatching it today. If you’re looking for a good possession double feature weekend, I’d put this one on and follow it up with The Last Exorcism. Shalom!

Horror Harvest Week Two: BLOOD RAGE

AKA Nightmare at Shadow Woods aka Slasher?! As if Thanksgiving in Jacksonville, FL wasn’t scary enough! This little dish from 1983 (or was it ’87?) features all of the awkward family Thanksgiving hits: co-dependency, slut shaming, good twin vs. evil twin, popped collars, machetes (a real missed opportunity to exclusively use a carving knife), gluttonous consumption of leftovers on a linoleum floor, alcoholism, and of course, cranberry sauce. BUT IT’S NOT CRANBERRY SAUCE, ARTIE. It’s a GORE-NUCOPIA of 80s gravy. Serve with crackers, gas station wine, and Virginia Slims.

Image result for blood rage movie
Image result for blood rage movie

HORROR HARVEST 2019, Week One: Pilgrim

What, you think that just because Halloween is over we don’t continue the horrorthon? It’s November and that means I’m counting down the days until I get to enjoy the most delectable dish of the entire year – the leftover turkey sandwich. Until then, let’s be thankful for a bountiful cornucopia of Thanksgiving themed horror. A “horror harvest” if you will. Each week in November I’ll feature a heaping helping of Thanksgiving themed horror. So what are you thankful for? Hopefully this. Because I spend time on these posts. FOR YOU!

Let’s begin with week one’s feature film: Pilgrim. This is the little movie that just would not quit. First of all, I am GRATEFUL that Hulu has continued their “Into the Dark” series with a second season. #BLESSED. October’s Uncanny Annie was a wee bit disappointing start to season two, and at the beginning I was afraid that Pilgrim was also going in that direction. I couldn’t get past the fact that the main pilgrim villains were basically Chip and Joanna Gaines in puritan clothing. However, by the end I was laughing out loud at a few of the gags and was cheering for the effort made by the filmmakers. They really just went for a few things and honestly it made up for the many flaws in this horror fan’s opinion. The movie is all over the place as it clumsily evolves from family drama to wannabe B-movie. But you know what? I’m not mad about it. I’ll even forgive the gratuitous fish-eye and lens flare. I love any scary movie with a creepy children’s choir soundtrack.

A lot of the movie is inexplicable, yes, and there are plenty of flaws. But I am HERE for more Thanksgiving themed horror and I think I will indeed by watching this again next November. And yes, it wouldn’t be an “Into the Dark” entry without a little social commentary. I hope that continues.

Image result for into the dark pilgrim
Image result for into the dark pilgrim

31 Nights of Horror VIII, Night 31: Evil Dead 2 and Night of the Demons at Triple Crossing Brewery – Fulton

Well, folks, another Halloween season has come and gone. At least, the official Halloween season because we all know that Halloween lives all year long for us horror nerds. Brett and I typically spend Halloween night at my parents house because they do an amazing trick-or-treat station that gives out hot dog, chili, candy and beer. This year we decided to stay home and see if we got any trick-or-treaters on our street. To my delight we had quite a few candy seekers at our front porch! I’m so happy we stuck around our ‘hood this year and gave out all of the candy we purchased. I dressed up like Elvira because, obviously.

After the last piece of candy was claimed we headed to Triple Crossing Brewery in the Fulton neighborhood of Richmond. Every Thursday in October they hosted a horror movie night and Halloween was no exception. On Halloween night they played two of my all time favorite horror movies: Evil Dead II and Night of the Demons. The movie nights were sponsored by a local haunted house/horror production company called Red Vein. I absolutely loved their simple but very effective pumpkin decor and plan to steal that idea for my own display next year. October 2019 was a whirlwind filled with amazing movies, frightful events, and all things spooky. Does this mean the horror stops? Hell no! But that does it for 31 Nights of Horror VIII: Katie Takes Manhattan. See you next year for year nine!

31 Nights of Horror VIII, Night 30: Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

Three sentence review:

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure has been a favorite of my fiance for decades, and he’s right – Garfield is fun whether you’re a kid or an adult. In his Halloween special, Garfield ropes Odie into trick-or-treating so he can get more candy and in their efforts the pair runs into a crew of spooky pirate ghosts. The episode features so many wonderful musical numbers, including my favorite “Scaredy Cat”.

Image result for garfield's halloween adventure

31 Nights of Horror VIII, Night 29: Evil Dead (2013)

Three sentence review:

In eight years of 31 Nights of Horror I don’t think I’ve duplicated a single movie, and that’s nearly 250 horror films! Though I am always searching for a fresh title to include on the list, sometimes I just want to go back to my favorites. The Evil Dead remake from 2013 is outstanding and was, at one time, the bloodiest movie ever -rewatching it last night definitely reminded me why!