Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy BOO Year: Anticipating 2018

Tomorrow the slate will be wiped clean once again! Are you excited? I know I am. I love a brand new year, with all of its promise and anticipation. Here are a few things I'm looking forward to in 2018:

  • Insidious: The Last Key. The fourth (!) entry in what has become a veritable franchise, I don't have high hopes that this one will revolutionize the genre or anything; I just want a ride through the spook house. 
  • Winchester. Have you been to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose? Legend has it that Sarah Winchester had to keep her labyrinthine mansion in a perpetual state of construction to appease the spirits of the angry dead murdered by her family's namesake rifles. True story or con perpetrated by a particularly savvy 19th-century contractor? Perhaps this movie will provide some clarity! In any case, it's a haunted house movie based on a place that I've actually visited, so I'm in.
  • Hell House LLC 2: The Abbadon Hotel. Despite the cumbersome title, I'm super excited for this follow-up to the found-footage creeper set in a seasonal haunted house. 
  • Halloween (2018). RuPaul said it best.
  • The 'Burbs Collector's Edition. Look at this glorious Blu-ray edition of ONE OF THE GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME. Just look at it. Come March, it will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine. 
  • More horror conventions and festivals! We already have good, solid dates for Spookshow 6 (April 7), Monsterpalooza (April 13-15), and Midsummer Scream (July 28 & 29). Half my year is already planned, wheeee!
  • Halloween haunts! Of course I'm already thinking about October. When am I not? Can't wait to find out what Knott's has in store this year. Plus, I'm hoping to finally check out Mable's 6 Feet Under, Coffin Creek in Corona, and whatever else the Halloween gods might throw my way.
  • Channel Zero: Butcher's Block. The third season of this creepypasta-based horror anthology series premieres on February 7th! 
  • The return of iZombie. Not sure if there's a date yet, but the fourth season of this zom-com should be making its way back to the CW in 2018. I know I say a lot of things are underrated, but um, so is this. It's so fun and funny and well-cast and clever. Please check it out, even if you're burnt out on zombies.
  • Shirley Jackson hits Netflix. At some point this year, I am going to be watching a Netflix original series based on The Haunting of Hill House. That's reason enough to be excited for that ball to drop tonight.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Best of 2017: Everything Else

Photo by Rebecca Orlandini

Despite the weirdness of the world at large, so many cool things happened this year that I feel like I need a second, non-movie-related post to recap it all. So here are a few of my non-filmic favorites of 2017:

  1. Halloween vow renewal in Haddonfield. My husband and I had our vows renewed by Michael Myers himself on Halloween at the SugarMynt Gallery in South Pasadena, directly behind the original Myers house from John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece Halloween. I wore a dress from the Elvira for Pinup Girl collection. The ceremony and subsequent photo shoot at nearby locations from the film (with Michael in tow, natch) were simultaneously hilarious, romantic, and suitably spooky. Thank you to SugarMynt and Wicked Weddings! This was a dream come true.
  2. So many conventions. We made it our business to hit as many as possible this year: Halloween Club's Spookshow, Monsterpalooza, Midsummer Scream, ScareLA, Son of Monsterpalooza. I got a super sick zombie caricature of me and my husband at Son of Monsterpalooza that I will treasure forever.
  3. Podcast madness! I never really talk about podcasts on this blog, but there are so many that I love, and many of them are horror-related, or at least horror-adjacent. Allow me to give my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION to Boys and Ghouls, the Faculty of Horror, the Purple Stuff Podcast, My Favorite Murder, Post Mortem with Mick Garris, Nightmare on Film Street, and Teen Creeps. Thanks for getting up in my ears all year long.
  4. Pilgrimage to Salem. I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of traveling to Salem, Massachusetts this year. We visited in February, which meant that there was still snow on the ground and some of the attractions were closed for the season (catch you next time, Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery and Witch Dungeon Museum!) - but on the plus side, there were no crowds whatsoever, and I felt like we really got to explore at our leisure. I loved the old cemeteries, the Witch Trials memorial, the Witch House, the House of the Seven Gables, and the divine pizza and Caesar salad at Bambolina.
  5. Knotts Scary Farm. I've been going since I was probably too young to be going, and this was the best year yet at the Haunt. Shoutout once again to Dark Ride, my favorite maze of all time. I can't wait to see what they have in store for 2018.
  6. Spooky site-specific interactive theater. Namely, the Willows (from the minds of Creep LA) and Wicked Lit, which I finally experienced after years of anticipation. 
  7. The return of the Griffith Park Ghost Train. I'm just really happy that it's back. 
  8. Channel Zero: No-End House. Even better than Candle Cove. This might be the most underrated horror TV show. Can't wait to see what's coming up for season 3.
  9. John Carpenter's Anthology tour. I feel so lucky to live in a world where one of my favorite directors and composers can enjoy a second career as an honest-to-god rock star, and I can't believe that I've been privileged enough to see him perform twice now. 
  10. Not with a broomstick, but a pen. Finally, I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the horror community myself in some small way. In 2017, I had one of my short stories featured on HelloHorror, had a piece published in a beautiful collection of poems about Salem called Entombed in Verse, and saw the micro-short Nothing Happens that I created with my husband accepted at Midsummer Scream and the inaugural Salem Horror Fest.

What were some of your favorites of 2017? What are you looking forward to in the new year? (I'll tell you some of my picks tomorrow!)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Best of 2017: Movies

JFC, what a year this was! It felt like the news never stopped in 2017, like any given day had the potential to end in either nuclear catastrophe or the dawning of a new era of awakened human consciousness - take your pick. Given the volatility in our culture right now, perhaps it's not surprising that this was an extremely interesting year at the movies, particularly for horror fans. Even some of the movies I didn't particularly care for - like The Killing of a Sacred Deer, It Comes at Night, and mother! - lingered in my mind, inspiring plenty of thought and conversation and illustrating just how far horror has come since the lean years of the late '90s and early '00s.

Without further ado, here are a few of my filmic favorites:

Best of 2017: H O R R O R 

  1. Get Out. What's left to say about Get Out at the end of 2017? This was basically the undisputed movie of the year, and I'm pretty sure you've seen it by now. Those who weren't familiar with writer-director Jordan Peele going in might have been surprised by this super inventive, intelligent, incisive horror film coming from a guy best known for sketch comedy, but I think it's totally in line with the surreal, disturbing tone of the best Key & Peele sketches. Despite the Stepford Wives-meets-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? heaviness of the subject matter, this movie was also funny, cathartic, surprising, and the best experience I had in a crowded theater all year, thanks to the audience reactions. Get Out stands alone as a movie that could function equally well as a good group watch at a party or as part of the syllabus for any number of academic courses, from film studies to sociology. Its legacy is already cemented.
  2. It. This was the other Big One this year - the film that, along with Get Out, inspired a million think pieces on the Great Horror Revival of 2017™ and the oceans of money that said revival has generated in the past 12 months. This was a mainstream horror movie based on a well-known and previously adapted novel starring a bunch of kids, and it STILL MANAGED TO BE AWESOME. Bill Skarsgård offers a terrifying new take on Pennywise that sits comfortably alongside Tim Curry's iconic creation without stepping on any toes. The whole thing felt like Stand by Me but with a token girl and, you know, a sewer-dwelling clown that consumes children. Sick!
  3. The Shape of Water. A film that asks - and answers - the provocative question, "What if the Gill Man was hot?" In all honesty, this is my favorite from Guillermo Del Toro - sad, beautiful, and romantic, like if Amélie found herself in a Universal monster movie.
  4. The Lure. Another poignant tale of aquatic monsters in love, but this time it's fishy mermaid babes and they end up working in a Polish nightclub in the '80s, and oh yeah, this is a musical, and also there are subtitles. A fairytale with (actual, literal) teeth. I wasn't at all sure how I felt about this one at first, but it's been months since I first watched it and I still think about it from time to time, so it definitely made an impression. Personally I think it would be a great double feature with The Shape of Water
  5. Happy Death Day. What if Groundhog Day was a horror flick? That's what it looked like from the trailers, and yes, it's exactly that. But it's also exactly that much fun. This may not be a movie that's going to change anyone's life, but it's a really enjoyable way to spend 96 minutes.
  6. 78/52. A documentary about the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho - arguably the first proper slasher scene in film history, and inarguably one of the most stunning, innovative and influential sequences of all time. Psycho is one of my all-time favorites and I loved this deep dive into such a specific and pivotal moment. Felt like attending the film class of my dreams.
  7. The Blackcoat's Daughter. Speaking of Psycho, did you know that Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates himself) had two sons, and one of them wrote and directed this creepy AF slow-burn horror that takes the demonic possession trope in completely new and surprising directions? Oz Perkins also wrote and directed the similarly glacial-paced and ineffably eerie I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, which is available on Netflix and would have made this list save for the fact that it came out in 2016 (even though technically The Blackcoat's Daughter was completed first, it wasn't widely distributed until this year). If you like super-slow, engrossing, atmospheric, female-led horror that would do Shirley Jackson proud, I promise you'll love the films of Oz Perkins. (Fun fact: Perkins' other son, Elvis, provided the film's haunting score.) 


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