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.

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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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31 Nights of Horror VII, Night 8: Black Christmas

31 Nights of Horror VII, Night 8: Black Christmas

Three sentence review:

Nineteen seventy-four’s Black Christmas is mandatory viewing for anyone who questions whether or not feminism has a place in horror. This movie was way ahead of its time and not just because it is one of the first (and creepiest!) slasher movies. I vow to forever live my life channeling Margot Kidder’s IDGAF attitude in this film (spoiler warning: just hopefully for a little longer than she survived).

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (For Horror!)

Holiday horror is wonderful, isn’t it? I haven’t watched this year’s Better Watch Out yet, but I have spent many years appreciating yuletide terror.

These are my favorite:

  • Gremlins

The best trivia about Gremlins is that Steven Spielberg forced Hollywood to create the PG-13 rating. It was rated PG and I guess little kids were traumatized by Gremlins and the Indiana Jones movies. That’s awesome. Also, there’s just nothing better than watching a frantic Phoebe Cates pour beers for dozens of Gremlins in a dive bar. Nothing.

  • Rare Exports

I accidentally had Rare Exports on the TV when my boyfriend’s mom was over at my house. There were definitely Elf butts and wieners. Woops. It’s such a good Santa movie though. Finland just looks cozy. Doesn’t Pietari’s cottage look so cozy!?

  • Black Christmas 70s and 2000s

UPDATED May 2018: The original is absolutely the best, and it’s one of the first slasher movies. But there’s nothing wrong with the 2006 remake. I happen to like Michelle Trachtenberg.

  • Treevenge

My all time favorite. Jason Eisner’s cautionary tale of vengeful Christmas trees. It’s so campy I have to watch it in a sleeping bag. Watch the entire short film below:

  • Elves

Grizzly Adams stars in this 80s horror about evil elves. Side note, my mom used to give us presents “from Santa’s elves” but she would write: “From Elvis” instead of elves.

  • Frozen

It’s not set during Christmas, but it is a solid survival horror set during a blizzard. Wolves, yo.

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.

Yuletide Terrors Volume One: Treevenge

DISCLAIMER: If you don’t care about words and shit, I understand. Scroll all the way down to the bottom for the good stuff. Merry Christmas, you ungrateful bastard.

Dear Nerds,

I deeply apologize for my absence. After Halloween I pretty much go on a Thanksgiving bender until it’s suddenly December and I can’t remember how many leftover turkey sandwiches I’ve eaten. But I’m back. And today is my 30th birthday (shameless birthday plug).

If Halloween, horror, and turkey sandwiches are my first loves, Christmas doesn’t fall too far behind on the list. Hate all you want, but I am a sucker for tacky Christmas lights (follow my Instagram for photos of #ProjectTackyBalcony) and I just can’t get enough of Sharon Jones’ Christmas album (RIP).

When Christmas and horror collide it is truly a beautiful thing. Seasonal horror movies have been around for decades (thank you, Black Christmas) and there are so many wonderful Christmas horror movies that I’ve decided to come out of hibernation and share my favorites with you all month long.

I’m going to start off with a BANG because I take this shit seriously. I could’ve saved this entry for tiny, 8 lb baby jesus’ birthday as the centerpiece of this merry compilation, but I want to establish my street cred and you always have to take out the biggest mother fucker in the yard once you get into prison. Amirite?

Point is, show them that you mean business and the rest is gravy. Mmmm. Gravy. Omg..turkey. Mashed potatoes. Can it please be Thanksgiving every day?

Oh, right – the list. Starting this jolly ride into hell with my ALL. TIME. FAVORITE. Christmas horror movie. It comes from the fantastic and arguably criminally insane director Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) and it’s called Treevenge. Yes. TREEVENGE.

Say it with me, you falalala loving maniacs, Tree-venge. If it were described by Tina Turner herself it would be simply the best. God damn, girl is a legendary performer.

Outer Space level craziness doesn’t even begin to describe this short film. At under 17 minutes long, it packs more punch, more gore, more camp, and more great one liners than most modern feature length efforts in the last 5 years.

If you are not a fan of outlandish, bizarre, and/or splatter movies, you are NOT the audience for Treevenge. If you love Troma Entertainment, Hobo with a Shotgun, and the basketball scene from Escape from L.A. (so what, it’s in Spanish), THIS IS THE SHORT FILM FOR YOU.

Treevenge is a 2007 short film about what happens when Christmas trees stop being polite, and start getting real. Real pissed, that is. Humans are the scum of the earth and we treat everything like shit. Including our most precious resources – Christmas trees. Imagine a world where you wake up on Christmas morning and instead of opening presents in your fucking one piece jammy jams you are greeted by a bloodthirsty tree hell bent on getting revenge on your sorry ass for allowing folks to chop him and his entire family down in his fucking home (the forest) so that you can put a stupid costume on him for 25 days until you let it brown out and die and throw him out. It’s barbaric!*

*Note: I cut down a live Christmas tree and will never stop. They are the best and they smell better than the artificial ones, even with those fancy scentscicle things. Quite your PETA-ass whining.

WATCH THE ENTIRE SHORT FILM HERE AND THANK ME LATER: