Ten Favorite Horror Movies from 2020

Not all was lost in the 2020 shit show, as we continue to live in a golden era of horror. Here are my Top 10 from 2020, and a bonus round of films I still haven’t seen that may alter the list.

#10 The Cleansing Hour

The possession trope goes full YouTube in this updated take on exorcism stories. I enjoyed the modernization here: a fake preacher with a gazillion followers performs fake exorcisms live on whatever streaming channel he’s using. This is clearly the natural step for mega churches, right? Actually, this probably EXISTS. I didn’t even look into this. Everything exists on the internet, right? No way there isn’t some Justin Bieber pastor out there selling merch and exorcising the demons on TikTok. Excuse me while I investigate. *Two minutes later* Um, no, I will not be subscribing to Christianity Today to read an article about Jesus TikTok. But I did find this: https://www.inbeat.co/top-influencers/tiktok/gospel/ … Not the millions of followers I suspected but I only did less than 3 minutes of research. OKAY back to The Cleansing Hour. Like The Last Exorcism before it, the Cleansing Hour’s pastor learns that the exorcism that he’s doing during the film is actually real, and hell breaks loose. That in itself was enjoyable enough, barring the very formulaic exorcism plot devices. What I *REALLY* enjoyed was the film’s finale. They should DEFINITELY do a sequel exploring that concept. I’ll save the spoilers – for now.

#9 Underwater

You can read all about my love for Underwater here. It was delightful. The surprise hit that January of 2020 needed, and the nice, normal creature feature we could enjoy before the world went to hell in March. I MISSED SEEING THIS ONE IN THEATERS AND I SORELY WISH THAT I HAD. What I will add, though, is that 2020 was the year I actually started reading HP Lovecraft stories. I mean, I get them. I pop-culture very well, and I knew the premises and Cliff’s Notes version. This was the year I read the full short story of Cthulhu. I also read Reanimator, the Colour of Space, and several other Lovecraft works. Holy shit was he a racist (I knew this, but didn’t know).

#8 The Mortuary Collection

Ayyyy! Clancy Brown in a great horror anthology! You love to see it. Really a surprise horror hit of 2020. Great production value, great variety of stories, and an EXCELLENT umbrella arc about a peculiar mortician named Montgomery and his seemingly innocent new staff member. I really loved how this one progressed, twisted, and wrapped up. Fantastical and tons of fun. I loved all of the short stories, but was cheering by the end of the second one. Check it out on Shudder.

#7 The Babysitter: Killer Queen

How hilarious and good was this sequel? It exceeded every expectation I had going into it. The characters in this series are campy and entertaining and the sequel really amps up all of their quirks and buffoonery. I absolutely lived for Bella Thorne’s self-aware entrance in the movie and how she basically played a caricature of herself. So good. The plot isn’t thick but I didn’t need it to be. I wanted to laugh, have a lot of fun with the characters and feel like everything was wrapped up by the end. I was not disappointed.

#6 The Platform

The complete opposite of a fun movie, but an important one. The Platform illuminates the dark sides of capitalism, caste systems, survival, and working together to beat a common enemy. It starts out sort of like a Black Mirror episode but quickly goes south. By the end, I wasn’t exactly sure how it would wrap up. But I really appreciated the brutality and depiction of what humans will do to survive. The hallucinatory scenes were excellent as well, and wondering who would be introduced next kept me invested. A great horror entry from Netflix. Keep your subtitles bitching to yourself, please and thank you.

#5: Host

Not much for me to add to all of the praise for 2020’s biggest horror hit. Timely, well executed and packed with scares. The Zoom horror movie we didn’t know we needed, and could have NEVER predicted five years ago. Whew.

#4 Anything for Jackson

What an awesome entry into the ritual/dark arts horror realm. This one was punchy and did not go into any direction I expected. The supernatural characters were legitimately terrifying, especially one dental related monstrosity. Great main character development had me rooting for the anti-heroes at times, or at least sympathizing with them, while still wanting their prisoner to get the justice she deserved. I still feel adrenaline fatigue after completing the Walsh’s journey. Woo, what a rush. A must watch on Shudder.

#3 Deep Blue Sea 3

Yeah, we are going there. Put your life vests on. Look, I’m not saying this one is winning any awards. I’m just saying I’ll watch a thousand movies about genetically enhanced sharks and this one happened to be not awful. The cinematography looked great to this viewer and it was nice to have some closure from the horrible relationship we had with Deep Blue Sea 2, which sucked. This one wasn’t as awful! I love a mindless popcorn horror and this it it, folks. Get drunk with friends and have fun supporting aquatic creature feature horror. My only complaint is that there needed to be more sharks.

#2: The Invisible Man

Remember horror in 2020 from pre-Covid times? Underwater was a surprise hit and The Invisible Man renewed our hope for stellar Universal monster reboots. This is a superb horror film with enough legs to appeal to broad audiences and one that will definitely give leeway to more blockbuster type horror films (hellllooooo Dr. Strange!) I also really appreciate the fact that domestic violence is the true terror in this film. That shit is real life scary and too relatable for so many women (and men, too). The special effects were fantastic. It was just a damn good thriller.

#1 The Dark and the Wicked

Every couple years or so I’m reminded that movies can still scare me. The last time this happened was in 2018 when I watched Terrified and had an actual nightmare. Before that, it was The Autopsy of Jane Doe. This year, it was The Dark and the Wicked. This movie is BLEAK. And let me commend Bryan Bertino for being a MASTER at effectively using sound, setting and lighting to create a supremely nerve wracking scene. The performances are great, the scenes progressively scary, and an ending that left me feeling just generally unsettled. I liked that the characters in this story were very logical and pragmatic about religion and demonic forces (or skeptical depending on your perspective). Minor spoiler but I very much enjoyed that the mother was not religious. That small detail increased the horror of what was happening in the farmhouse. I really recommend this if you’re someone who, like me, enjoys the feeling of nervous anticipation about how a scene will play out. Bertino’s skillfully built tension and sense of dread will get ya!

That’s it for 2020!! The movies I haven’t watched yet that could change this list:

Hunter, Hunter

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

Freaky

The Relic

His House

Category Is: LGBT Horror

But first…Support Black Horror Creators, An Epilogue:

Following my last podcast episode, “Support Black Horror Creators”, I realize I left out two crucial comments. One, I am ITCHING in anticipation for Nia Decosta’s Candyman and I can’t believe I left that out of the episode. And remember, Jordan Peele may be the producer but Nia Decosta is the director. It’s her movie! The most recent trailer, which uses shadow puppets, is awesome and you should check it out immediately. The other point I omitted is my own personal journey in acknowledging my racism as a white person. The episode is not about me, and I do not want to center my feelings in a conversation that needs to be about supporting black creators. But for anyone reading who is white, I want to share how I got here: I have done and said so many vile, racist things. My freshman year of college I used bronzer to darken my face for a Halloween costume that was not just racist, but also just a really bad costume. A lazy stereotype. I didn’t know at the time that this was offensive AF – I thought I was being ironic and funny. And I was NINETEEN. Two years later, I wore my friend’s confederate flag as a dress to a dumb “anything but clothes” party. This was when “hipsterdom” was a burgeoning concept and I thought I was being so *~EdGy~* and ironic. Nope, I was being a dumbass racist. Because I went to the University of South Carolina, I don’t remember anyone calling me out at the time. Maybe someone did, and I didn’t listen. Then I got my first job out of college working for a labor union. It was the first time in my life where my daily experiences in life weren’t surrounded by 99% white people. I met and got to know people who didn’t look like me and didn’t grow up in the privileged environment I did. And so it grew from there. Turns out, listening to experiences that aren’t yours does wonders for broadening your worldview. I am STILL racist and complicit in a racist system. I am trying to do better. Do the work in unlearning. Check out Rachel Cargle on Instagram or Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race”. And if you’re white like me, sit with your shame, guilt and privilege. Feels like shit, right? Now imagine being oppressed every day. Just shut the hell up and listen. But enough about me. It’s not about me.

Okay, on to today’s subject: LGTBQIA Horror!

Happy Pride month, horror fans! This week I watched the new documentary, Disclosure, on Netflix. I highly recommend it. It details the experiences and representation of trans actors and filmmakers in TV and film. As you can imagine, there’s lots of work to do. We are just now at a point where trans actors, non-binary actors and their stories are SLOWLY being shown on TV without centering their gender or impact of that journey as the main plot. They’re just existing like normal humans with real feelings, challenges, celebrations and aspirations. Looking back and seeing interviews by Oprah, Katie Couric, and scenes from Jerry Springer and other talk shows made me cringe. We’ve evolved – a LITTLE bit.

As it relates to horror, queer subtext and LGBTQIA horror creators have existed since pretty much the beginning of the film industry. One prominent early example is The Bride of Frankenstein, directed by a gay man and starring an openly gay actor. I didn’t know that until this week. Maybe you did, and if so you’re a savvier horror fan than I am. And that’s arguably one of the greatest horror sequels of all time! But even before that, horror fiction dating back to the 1790s include queer points of view and stories. At a time where the word “gay” may not have existed, queer writers were inserting their stories in horror fiction. Including Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Unfortunately, while queer themes have been there if you look hard enough, over the years LGBTQIA characters in horror movies have either been cast as monsters/villains, or as dispensable victims or background characters. I have started to see more positive representation in recent years, and hopefully the trend continues.

I highly recommend watching Mark Patton’s documentery, Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street. I talk about this in the Nerdcropolis Podcast, Episode 8. It’s not just a great documentary about a great Nightmare on Elm Street sequel, you also get to hear Mark’s take on the making of the film. He really wears his heart on his sleeve in this one, and should be commended for his bravery in being so vulnerable about a subject that has clearly tormented him for years. I applaud you, Mark! Excellent documentary. Check it out on Shudder!

I have more to add about the film discussed on the podcast this week – Alena. I mention there are some beautiful depictions of queer relationships, and there are. BUT! There’s also a lot of brutality there. *Spoiler alert, and TW: R*pe*: There’s a pretty graphic depiction of lesbian sexual assault in a locker room, and while it’s undoubtedly violent, the assault is not BECAUSE of their sexuality. At all. It’s just because the main bully, Fillipa, just sucks. It definitely has a Carrie vibe in that regard. There’s also such a gnarly, bloody make out scene which I thought was awesome!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the death of director Joel Schumacher. A lot of stories in the media that I’ve seen about him says he’s best known for the Batman movies he made, but we all love him for making Flatliners and The Lost Boys, which is loaded with homoerotic imagery that I LOVE. Read a tribute to him in Advocate: https://www.advocate.com/people/2020/6/22/joel-schumacher-gay-director-lost-boys-st-elmos-fire-has-died

Ok – here is the watch list from this week’s podcast episode:

  1. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
  2. Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama (1988)
  3. High Tension (2003)
  4. Raw (2015)
  5. Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2020)
  6. Alena (2015)
  7. Child’s Play (1988)
  8. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  9. Hellraiser (1987)
  10. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
  11. Ginger Snaps (2000)

Blogs to check out:

  1. Big Gay Horror Fan https://big-gay-horror-fan.com/
  2. Gayly Dreadful: https://www.gaylydreadful.com/

Podcasts:

  1. Gay for Horror
  2. Horror Queers

On MY Watchlist:

  1. Knife + Heart
  2. Lyle
  3. May
  4. Rift
  5. Stranger By the Lake

Nerdcropolis Podcast Ep. 7: Support Black Horror Creators

Notes and watch list from Nerdcropolis Podcast, Episode 7: Support Black Horror Creators

Watch List:

Unsane (2018): Amazon Prime

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989): Shudder

Horror Noire: Shudder

SHE: Vimeo

The Quiet Room (2019): Watch on Shudder or Youtube:

Blogs to Follow:

Graveyard Shift Sisters (here’s their post for further viewing/reading after Horror Noire…scroll down through the image posted on the blog post): https://www.graveyardshiftsistersarchive.com/2019/02/the-horror-noire-syllabus.html PS: Ashlee Blackwell from Graveyard Shift Sisters is one of the producers of Horror Noire!

The Real Queen of Horror (Zena Dixon’s blog): https://www.realqueenofhorror.com/2020/06/being-enough-in-horror-industry.html#more

Organizations to Support in Richmond:

Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project (support their petitions and events, and be informed about community initiatives they’re proposing): https://www.richmondvatap.org/

Richmond Community Bail Fund: https://rvabailfund.org/

Side By Side: http://www.sidebysideva.org/

Underwater Was the Monster Horror I Needed Right Now

Hey, there’s gonna be a few spoilers here for Underwater. So don’t read on if you haven’t seen it. But if you have, or if you just don’t care, proceed with delight!

Kristen Stewart didn’t *need* to have a fantastic haircut to be great in Underwater but it certainly had me internally screaming triumphant cheers for her at the beginning of the film. Likewise, this surreal and chaotic year didn’t *need* to begin with a surprise aquatic horror hit about Cthulhu, but that also has me cheering. I didn’t see Underwater in theaters when it was released, and I regret it. I bet it was a really entertaining watch on the big screen. Will we still have movie theaters after this pandemic life ends? I hope so. We’ll see. But that’s another day and another post.

What I love about horror movies set in or around the ocean is that the ocean is freaking scary for a multitude of reasons. Not just the monsters that live within, but the terror of the environment and our inability to survive. The action begins right away with a huge explosion at the gigantic oil drilling site deep in the ocean. At that point, we have no idea that it’s due to a mythical monster but that doesn’t matter! Explosions are always cool. A small crew of survivors set out to reach a new rig that will supposedly have working escape pods. The only issue is that the majority of these survivors have no idea how to deal with the crushing pressure of being so far underwater. And that is a problem for poor Rodrigo almost immediately. What a horrific way to die. And you’re chumming the waters for who knows what kinds of deep sea beasts!

Shenanigans (seananigans?) continue to ensue as the survivors fight the environment and some creepy looking humanoid monsters that are HANGRY. There were some quality death scenes that really do seem hellish when you think about them. I find TJ Miller to be super obnoxious, which he loves, but he was subdued enough in this one that he didn’t bother me. And I found his stuffed bunny to be kinda freakin endearing. My friend informed me that the bunny was actually supposed to be a live rabbit, but like, logistics, man. But fucking Emily, ugh. She had a journey in this movie. I was so annoyed by her but she ended up being pretty much a bad ass and even offered to sacrifice herself so K. Stew could live. But Kristen gave her solid advice to follow her soulmate, Smith. Speaking of Emily and her love for Smith, did anyone else know that rising horror darling John Gallagher was on Broadway? Yeah, I didn’t either.

I’m going to talk about the ending now. First, I wonder what they would have done if more than three people had survived? Kind of convenient how the number of pods matched the number of survivors, even if one of them was faulty. Second, I do think that Kristen Stewart’s character could have fixed the pod. She was an engineering badass throughout the whole movie. But I get that her sacrifice was necessary as the hangry humanoids were ascending quickly to her friends. Lastly: OH MY GOD IT REALLY WAS CTHULHU. That is so awesome. I read a few articles arguing that Underwater is the movie we needed in the Cloverfield universe. As someone who has only recently seen the first Cloverfield, I agree that it would fit in nicely. TJ Miller even references an oil team drilling too deep and unleashing mythical monsters in Cloverfield. Inspiration, much?

Damn, I know I’m not alone when I say I’m stoked about the rise in popularity of monster movies. Fingers crossed we get to meet some more on screen monster baddies real soon!

Spoilers] 'Underwater' Director Confirms That You Saw What You ...

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?

Officially a Fannibal

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Four years ago I was flipping channels in bed on a Friday night. I jolted out of my blanket and did a quick double take. Did I really see what I just saw? I did. It was season one of Hannibal, and I had just stumbled on the “human cello” episode. My mouth dropped. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on network television. It was gruesome, creative, and oddly beautiful. I needed more.

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But, because I was 26 and going out nearly every weekend, and because NBC was stupid to show Hannibal on Friday nights, I missed out on watching the show when it was airing (I was too cheap to pay for DVR service).

One year later I couldn’t stop thinking about that scene. I was bummed to discover that the series wasn’t available On Demand, and I couldn’t find it on any of the streaming services. It was 2014 and I was bummed over the lack of availability of a network tv show. These were simpler times.

Flash forward to the end of 2016! Not only did I turn 30, I got to mooch off of my amazing boyfriend’s Amazon Prime account. FINALLY! I was able to watch every episode of Hannibal. I am now proud to say that I’m a bona fide Fannibal.

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Not really my design. If I knew who designed this “this is my design” image, I’d say that it was their design. Because I credit people and don’t steal. Stealing sucks.

 

Brian Fuller’s Hannibal is the best horror TV show of this decade. It’s better than The Walking Dead. It’s better than American Horror Story. And as far as how much I’ve enjoyed watching a series, it’s on par with some of the G.O.A.T.s like Breaking Bad and The Wire – really!

Season one – at its most basic – is a classic crime drama with a grisly edge. We meet the curious Will Graham and steadfast Special Agent Jack Crawford of the FBI. We learn that Will has an empathy disorder that allows him to understand the reasons behind why the most demented murderers kill. It’s all very CSI or NCIS at the beginning with more interesting characters and way better gore. Because we’re horror fans, we know who we’re dealing with when Dr. Hannibal Lecter is introduced to the show. But we’re not quite sure who he is at this point and how he fits into everything – until we see him cooking human lungs. Same ol’ Hannibal.

Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is better than Sir Anthony Hopkins’ performance in the film trilogy. Sorry, Hops. I love ya but it’s true. Watching Mikkelsen befriend and manipulate Hugh Dancy’s Graham throughout season one is a treat for viewers. It also sets up an incredible story line for season two where Will toes the line between repairing his psyche and submitting to much darker urges.

Hannibal’s second season is possibly my favorite season of any show – ever. Bold claim, I know. I could not get enough of Will’s struggle to rebuild himself when nobody believed him and Hannibal’s arrogance that ultimately led others to discover his true identity. I told you there would be spoilers, and here’s one of them: the episode where Beverly’s body has been perfectly sliced – vertically – into even sections and then meticulously encased solidified my opinion that Hannibal Lecter is the most interesting and complex character in the history of horror. Another highlight of this season for me is when – spoiler again – Mason Verger uses a knife to slice off pieces of his face and then feeds them to Will’s dog. Holy crap. Seriously, this was on NBC? If you want to talk the finale of season two, hit me up. I could go on for hours.

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How stunningly rich and decadent is season three? Bedelia and Hannibal seem like a power couple I would want to know. They are beautiful together, entertaining, classy, and intelligent. Everything you want in a dinner party guest or host, except no, you do NOT want to be a guest at any of their dinner parties. Bedelia’s internal conflict of being a “participant” or an “observer” is quite an interesting character study. As her story unfolds, we learn why her final dinner scene makes perfect sense. Also – Zachary Quinto is amazing and I wish I would’ve gotten to know his character as Bedelia’s ill-fated patient a bit more.

Of course, the real “meat” of season three is Hannibal and Will’s lost bromance. The cat and mouse game of season two may have ended in violence, but in season three its clear that Will and Hannibal can’t quit each other. Will goes to great lengths to find Hannibal in Europe and even with all that has happened between them, he still very much feels a deep sense of loyalty to and connection with Hannibal. Will realizes he can’t lead a normal life and cannot return to his wife and stepson. Too much has happened between Hannibal and Will. They have saved each other and they have tried to kill each other. Will knows that he cannot kill Hannibal, so he hopes that Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Red Dragon, will do it for him. Well, things don’t quite turn out that way. Will and Hannibal take on the Red Dragon together, and the rest is history… or hopefully a fourth season.

The visuals in Hannibal deserve every accolade they’ve received. I can’t possibly write anything more clever than what’s already been written about them. They’re simply stunning. The cinematography, lighting, sound, and set design are all intentional and convey exactly the type of feeling that the moment intends.

In fact, here’s an entire list of examples that prove how visually breathtaking the show really is. Yes, I know you’re not supposed to end a sentence with the word “is”. Dammit, I did it again. Anyway, my personal favorite example of imagery in the show is when Hannibal discovers the creator of the Human Color Wheel and peers into the silo and casually states,”Love your work”. Delicious. God like. Genius.

Beyond Will and Hannibal, the other main characters are so alive and vivid that I feel that I know them. Jack Crawford spends all of his time trying to prevent deaths – including his own wife’s. Dr. Alana Bloom begins her journey on the show as a just psychiatrist who values fairness for all and sees the best in people. It is so damn interesting and fun to watch her transform into a lesbian hitwoman vying to get revenge on Hannibal. The scenes with Margot, Alana, and Hannibal while they’re working together to defeat Mason are delectable. Speaking of Margot, lets talk about how wonderful Katharine Isabelle is. She is and forever will be my modern scream queen. Even Dr. Chilton and Freddy Lounds are characters I couldn’t stop watching.

There is so much subtext, content, and symbolism in Brian Fuller’s Hannibal that I know I will need to watch the series one or two more times before I fully grasp the weight of the body of work I’ve witnessed. It’s a show that I cannot stop thinking about even months after finishing the series. I truly hope we are treated to more from Fuller and his team!

In the mean time, though, I think it’s safe to say that I am officially a “Fannibal”.  Hope the rest of the community will welcome me with open arms and a freshly roasted leg.

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In Defense of Blair Witch (2016)

Horror fans, I have a request for you. I know it will be difficult, but all I’m asking is that you try. It’s time that we chill the hell out – well, just slightly.

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Horror fans are indisputably the most dedicated fans of any film genre. Just check out the message boards for the “Genre Zone” on IMDB.com. At the time of this posting, comedy has 769 posts dedicated to discussing that genre. Drama has 325 posts. People really seem to enjoy film noir, which has over 1,500 posts.

Horror? Horror has 34,697 posts. We are nerds, but dammit we are committed nerds.  There’s no denying this. But we need to relax just a little bit. Our expectations as horror fans are through the skyscraper roof. It’s unlikely that any movie will ever scare you as much as that one legendary film from your childhood. We’re constantly looking for that high. That thrill. That same spine-tingling sensation. It’s just not going to happen because we’re too desensitized and we’re really good at predicting the killer’s next move or the victims’ next dumb choice. We’ve watched a ton of movies, okay?

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I am not saying that we need to give a participation trophy to every fuckwit that wants to make a horror movie. We need to demand quality and innovation because otherwise this genre will not survive. We need to stay hungry for fresh talent and interesting points of view (or is it point of views?) We need to celebrate good storytelling and gnarly make-up effects.

But please – just give some of the stuff you considered “complete trash” a second look and give credit where credit’s due. My main gripe right now is with the fan response to the new Blair Witch. Yes, there are a lot of flaws. They should’ve used the drone more effectively, or at all. Why the fuck did that chick climb a tree? And what was that shit that got into her leg and what did it have to do with the story? And seriously, time warps?!

That being said, there’s some interesting film work happening here. Adam Wingard, our valiant mumblegore prince, manages to include some pretty intense and frightening stuff. There’s some great body horror visuals when Talia dies and when we finally get a glimpse of The Witch. If you’re the least bit claustrophobic, the tunnel scene works quite effectively. There’s also a lot of atmosphere going on here, folks. Lots of rain. Lots of darkness. Lots of screaming. When you take a deep breath and consider these efforts objectively, they are pretty good. Certainly not “Awful, abhorrent and wholly embarrassing for everyone involved” as one IMDB user stated.

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This is a stretch, but it’s not a dumpster fire.

As this post in the A.V. Club explains, Wingard wanted this to be a straightforward, jump-scare type horror movie. “It’s a movie that’s meant to be watched with a crowd,” he says. And I agree. In fact – and I know I may be in the minority here – watching horror films in a packed theater is one of my favorite things. This movie is exactly for that scenario.

There’s a lot to refute here, I know, because my writing style is lazy at best. But please, maybe ease up on the mainstream horror movies and try to focus on what’s working and where we can improve, not just complaining about what you think is utter crap.

Or maybe I should shut up and just let horror fans be horror fans. We are the dedicated-yet-salty curmudgeons of movie fans, after all. And proudly so.

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Your Average Horror Fan

Yuletide Terrors Volume Two: A Christmas Horror Story

Anthology films. You love them as much as I do, right? For five years in a row I have culminated my annual 31 Nights of Horror with Trick ‘r Treat because I think anthology movies are the bees knees. You get multiple stories in one! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

That’s why I’m elated to review a modern holiday horror anthology, A Christmas Horror Story.

First, a pro tip: when you see a horror movie on Netflix that has higher than a two-star rating you need to pay attention. That means that many REAL people who aren’t amazing horror weirdos like us gave it a good review. This one currently has three stars. Well done.

A Christmas Horror Story features four blustery tales of wintry dismay that will give the whole family a reason to believe in holiday magic. With everything that happens, it seems you’re likely to have a shitty Christmas if you’re a resident of a town called Bailey Downs. Ghosts, changelings, zombies, and Krampus are indeed the reasons for the season.

The film is well made and entertaining, and the twist to one of the main four stories is pretty good. Some of the scenes are cheesy and laughable, but they are a wonderful homage to ridiculous horror premises and the Christmas horror trope in general. As Peter Sobczynski wrote for Rogerebert.com, “Once you’ve seen one homicidal elf, you’ve seen them all”. That’s why we love this genre, though, because anything and everything goes. But the biggest scene stealer of all is William Shatner looking like an adorable grandpa in a Christmas sweater as a radio DJ who gets increasingly hammered and presides over the stories.

This is a great movie to watch over Christmas weekend or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, during your Christmas vacation. It’s an easy watch and a great holiday tradition to start. I give it two Krampus thumbs up.