Tag Archives: horror


Anthology horror movies are a mixed bag in more ways than one. Often times they have flashes of brilliance in one short and everything else falls flat. XX (2017) is a collection of four short films written and directed by women. It is an excellent example of an anthology done exactly right. It captures a consistent tone with distinct style differences between all the shorts.

First off there’s an amazing stop animation frame story directed by Sofia Carrillo. It’s creepy and is about dolls. That’s absolutely all I need in something ever. It is a full enough tale unto itself that it almost counts as fifth short. It sets the tone from the get go that you’re in for a quirky and slightly unsettling ride, but ends on a sweet note.

Which leads us to the shorts themselves:

The Box
(Jovanka Vuckovic)

Based on a short story by Jack Ketchum, a boy asks “what’s in the box?” to a stranger on the train. The stranger shows him and proceeds to lose his appetite and stops eating altogether.

Let me just take a second to say that the answer to “what’s in the box?” is never ever something good. It just isn’t. So don’t ever ask it in real life. Did se7en teach us nothing? Now that we’ve established that, the Box feels like a psychological mind fuck about how mothers can feel alone and isolated even amongst the people who love them most.

The Birthday Party
(Annie Clark/Roxanne Benjamin)

Annie Clark is better known to the world as St Vincent and she makes some of the most amazing music ever. Here she delivers a psychedelic and delicious black comedy about the lengths we’ll go to for our kids. It is my favorite in the four films. It walks a perfect tightrope between dark, weird, funny and still making sense.

Don’t Fall
(Roxanne Benjamin)

Don’t Fall is a pretty quick and straightforward possession tale about four campers who camp on cursed land. There’s excellent monster makeup and a well done transformation scene. Super enjoyable, but it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel.

Her Only Living Son
(Karyn Kusama)

Eighteen years after living on the run, a woman must confront who (or what) her son really is or if he is even really her son. Another one that is pretty straightforward, but speaks so much to the strength of women even with things they have very little actual control over.

What XX offers us is a unique take on women in the horror genre. It is the rare film that doesn’t depend on over sexualisation or damsel in distress cliches. This is one of best shot and well crafted collections to come along in awhile. Every single one of these women has a unique and much needed voice. These stories are just good stories. XX is completely worth a watch.

[film]bad kids go to hell

Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012)
Genre: Horror Comedy

Have you ever found yourself wondering what would happen if Bret Easton Ellis had written the Breakfast Club? Probably not, but if you had Bad Kids Go to Hell is there to assuage your curiosity.

Six kids that attend prestigious Crestview Academy show up for Saturday detention where they learn something about themselves and that they’re not so different after all. Things like they all could die before the day is out. Will Mommy or Daddy even care if what may or may not be a Native American curse kills them? Can you fit in having meaningless sex while being scared for your life? What is that awful, terrible thing they did last summer? And will Judd  Nelson ever actually show up in this movie since he has main billing?

There’s the Princess (daughter of a sociopathic politician), the Athlete (token black dude), the Brains (hot redhead with big boobs and immigrant from some unspecified country), the Criminal (scholarship student) and the Basket Case (Pagan who claims to talk to her dead parents through seances). Judd Nelson plays the headmaster. There’s a big statue in the middle of the library where they’re to serve their detention. There’s a kind of creepy janitor that always seems to be around.

If all this sounds familiar, it should. Bad Kids Goes to Hell owes a lot of its good moments to these homages to the Breakfast Club. It’s the Breakfast Club through the lens of a Bret Easton Ellis novel though. Murder, mayhem and a lot of stylistic sex and violence instead of a heartwarming tale about disaffection with authority and temporarily putting aside differences. There’s still plenty of disaffection, but no one has time to put aside differences once bodies start hitting the floor.

After watching, I found out that Bad Kids Go to Hell is based off a graphic novel. One can’t help being left with the feeling that perhaps some scenes worked far better in that medium. Fast paced cut scenes and flashbacks with out of this world physics especially.

Bad Kids Go to Hell is a fun enough film and horror comedy is notoriously difficult to pull of well. It suffers from style over substance as it strings together cliches in an attempt to be more clever than it really is. (Again, much like the majority of Bret Easton Ellis’ work is.) There’s a half way decent unexpected ending, but it also feels a little hollow motivation wise. By then though it’s clear no one really has any motivation for anything they do so it doesn’t even really matter.

Rating: 6/10

(Fun extra fact: Upon investigating IMDb, it turns out there’s a sequel called Bad Kids of Crestview Academy that recently came out. The headmaster is played by Sean Astin.)

[film]Green Room

I watch a lot of movies. In all honesty, though many of them are entertaining, few of them are truly excellent movies. Enter Green Room. Green Room tells the story of a punk rock band who thinks about nothing more serious than staying as true to their punk rock ideals as possible. Until after one fateful gig in the heart of Neo Nazi skinhead territory in the Pacific Northwest. From then on their main and only concern is survival.

It’s a pretty basic formula for a movie and one that’s been done in many forms. Where others fall flat and feel formulaic, Green Room was far more effective.

5 things Green Room did right:

1. Sir Patrick Stewart is the leader of the skinheads. Maybe I should put forth a full disclaimer of how big a Patrick Stewart fan I am. We did, after all, choose to watch this, because it was his birthday. That not withstanding, this is a side of Stewart rarely seen. As far playing villains, it’s not something he does enough in my opinion. He played one in the easily forgettable movie called Masterminds. He also was the best Captain Ahab on film to date. Here he leads a fantastic cast and shows how much his element it is as the calm and almost benign seeming Darcy.

“Gentlemen, you’re trapped. Things have gone south. No doubt. Now, whatever you saw, or did, is no longer my concern. But let’s be clear, it won’t end well.”

2. It feels realistic. If you’re going to set a movie in a scene, it’s really nice if it feels like the creators actually know that scene. Too many movies rely on tropes and cliches to get the point across. The beginning of this movie feels like my late teens/early 20s. It’s extremely realistically portrayed.

3. Everything has a point. The beginning of the movie starts off with two members of the band siphoning fuel so they can get their van on the road again. This ends up coming into play later in the film for a plan of the skinheads. Nothing feels like an extraneous moment and that keeps the tension high.

4. Nobody’s an idiot. Protagonists and antagonists are both realistically intelligent and dealing with a situation as best they can. This is actually the most refreshing thing about Green Room. Too often survival movies have to fall back on people doing stupid things in order for the story to move forward that no one would do in real life. No such case here. Traps are recognized as such, but they walk into them because they have no choice. When the protagonists decide to make a run for it, it’s out of desperation and they know they might not all make it. Little things like this make the movie more convincing.

“Now we won’t all live, but, I don’t know, maybe we won’t all die.”

5. It’s gory and brutal, but not unnecessarily so. I am a gore fan. I even enjoy movies that are just gore on gore strictly for the sake of gore. This is not the movie that would have worked in though. It could have easily gone this route, but wisely kept the hardcore scenes to a minimum and where they were most effective.

I highly recommend Green Room. It is that rare film that is tense, smart and entertaining. I even lost the dead pool we had going for who was going to survive and I rarely do that. (It’s a good thing, I promise. It means it’s not at all predictable.)

Let me know what you thought (about the film, the blog, how fucking amazing Sir Patrick Stewart is) in the comments.

[ink: world war moo by michael logan]

Published: June 2015
Genre: Zombies, infection, snarky
Sequel to: Apocalypse Cow


Full disclosure: I wasn’t the biggest fan of Apocalypse Cow. Given the premise of zombie cows and being majorly endorsed by Terry Pratchett I thought it would be sillier. At the end of the day it ended up feeling like a pretty average zombie apocalypse novel. Decent enough, but not really reinventing any type of wheel. I debated even reading the second one, but since I had already picked it up from the library, I figured I may as well.

This is one of those cases of a sequel surpassing the original. It’s all around snarkier and full of subtle humor. The addition of human zombies makes for a more entertaining and unique read.
First off, they’re not zombies in the traditional sense. If you think of 28 Days Later as an infection movie and not a zombie movie, then the same logic applies here. I’m not terribly interested in the absolute semantics of the term though, so from here out it shall be referred to as a zombie novel and anyone who wants to can argue the point to their heart’s content in the comments, their blog, wherever.
Now, that being established, I love zombie everything. If there’s one complaint to be had though, it’s that there’s not a lot of variation in your zombies beyond fast ones and slow ones. This book steps in with my favorite kind of zombie: the thinking variety. It showcases that there are always those that will fight their instincts and those that will surrender completely to it in the most over the top ways.
Another thing I love is snark. This book possesses the perfect amount of it. Just enough to lighten what is by it’s very nature a pretty heavy plot with morality quandaries left and right, but not so much that you don’t care about said quandaries.

All in all, it’s a good choice for fans of the zombie genre. It would be recommended to read Apocalypse Cow first, because it’s one of those stories that definitely needs the complete background. World War Moo is all around a better offering though.

Rating: 8/10

[flash fiction: dance]

This night there were devils shining in the bright moonlight. Beckoning her forward and repelling her away. A battle in her bones set to the beat of an ancient drum. A building sensation starting in her gut and working it’s way out until she was stomping towards the brightest moon beams, with devils weaving around her, over her, through her. A pounding and stomping that took away all thought, all breath, every piece of her until all that was left was the rhythmic, orgasmic emptiness in which she felt for the first time whole. Darkness wending around her ankles, creeping upwards, seductive and unwelcome. A small part of her crying out to stop the tribal frenzy. That voice struggling to be heard over the boom, boom, boom that spoke to her primitive wants.
Minutes, hours, days pass and the sweat pools around her turning the dust to mud and wringing out her inhibitions. In the moonlight she is reborn and she is finally beautiful, shining in all her monstrosity.
And this is how a demon is born. From moon, dance and freedom from inhibition. And this is how a new night is born in which she will rule and all will learn how to fear.

[poetry: caged]

walking through the woods one day
alone and falling out of love
she came upon a tree somewhat strange
with a door covered and engraved
words strange and unreadable

perhaps it wasn’t the wisest choice
perhaps it was the broken heart
perhaps she never should have
perhaps she knew she shouldn’t

but she turned the handle
opened the door
walked into another world

worlds can be better
worlds can be worse
worlds can just be different
worlds can be exactly the same

several moments of silence
in a darkness so absolute
she thought her heart itself
had finally stopped and died

then her heart started beating
then it all seemed a blur
then she felt a searing pain
then she felt the world shrink in

awareness of light crept in
inability to move at all
a desire to spread her wings
a vague idea that this is new
something that wasn’t there before
a feeling like always being trapped

hours spent trying to remember
hours wondering what freedom was
hours fighting hopeless tears
hours of ennui setting in

and now something new and unknown
the approach of a thing
like a tremendous herself
a rumbling as of thunder a voice
an opening door to a cage
a hand that pulls her up
a cavernous mouth opens

then silence and a darkness unending

Writing prompt image courtesy of Nighthags Writing Corner.