Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Horror That Made Me Happy in 2015

Tis the season for end of the year lists! Since I've already seen a bunch of best/worst horror film lists that would pretty much mirror mine, I just want to take stock of the things that made me happy in the horror genre this year.  This won't be a list based on quality, cultural impact, or any of that silly crap.  No, this will just be a list of the things that put a smile on my face.

Horror on Film

As you will very quickly ascertain, these are not all movies that came out this year.  But they are ones that I saw for the first time in 2015:

The Final Girls 
If you've read my recent review then you've already heard me fall over myself praising this movie. I won't make you sit through that again, suffice to say that you don't often get to use the phrase "feel good horror movie" but I think that's an apt description for The Final Girls.

It Follows
For the first time in what seems like years, this was a horror movie that compelled me to actually go out to the theaters rather than wait for it to come out on video.  Sure, the premise falls apart if you think about the logic (or lack thereof) for too long, but it's also a chance to let your imagination run wild with the terrifying ramifications of trying to escape a monster that won't ever stop coming to get you.  Plus: 80s synth soundtrack!

As I mentioned in my review, this movie didn't bring anything new in terms of premise.  But its execution was so effective that it drew me in and wouldn't let go until an ending that literally had me cheering at the screen.   And it takes place during Thanksgiving, so it's a great watch for people looking for some Turkey Day-themed horror.

I was fortunate to win this movie (along with its sequel Scream, Blacula Scream) as part of a contest from Graveyard Shift Sisters.  This movie is so much fun, but it also presents a look at race relations that most movies of the time wouldn't have had the nerve to approach.  If you've avoided this movie because of the jokey/gimmicky title, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Quite frankly, this movie is fucking stupid.  But I love it anyway, due in no small part to the presence of Sam Elliot.

Horror in Other Media

Scarlet Gospels
This book was by no means perfect, but to have Clive Barker return to the world of Pinhead and the Cenobites after so many years was still a treat, especially given the fact that we almost lost Barker after a bacterial infection put him into a coma.  Given the ending, I'd say this is the last new story we see Barker create for Pinhead, so I'm glad we got it.

Evil Dead: The Musical
While I am enjoying the new Ash vs. Evil Dead series on Starz, I have to admit that I had a lot more fun seeing the production put on by Bootless Stageworks.  That the stage was in the basement of a church, the script was deliberately over-the-top and campy, and the fact that they sprayed the audience with practical-joke levels of fake blood made this a hell of a great time. 

Horror Fandom

Horror Podcasts
I've gotten to a point where I almost like listening to horror podcasts as much or more than watching horror movies.  Hearing people's passion for horror reminds me what I love about the genre, and the ones below are some of my favorites.
  • "Girls Will Be Ghouls"--Ashlee Blackwell (Graveyardshift Sisters) and Zena Dixon (Real Queen of Horror) started a podcast this year that covers a wide range of topics.  They do reviews, in-depth discussion/analysis, and sometimes just wander into random discussions about the genre that are entertaining as hell to listen to. 
  • "Faculty of Horror"--Alexandra West and Andrea Subissati are a couple of horror academic from the Great White North who dig into the sociological themes broached by horror movies to get to the core about how horror movies reflect our culture. 
  • "Horror Honeys"--The Horror Honeys podcast is your one-stop shop for news, sarcasm, movie reviews, sarcasm, general horror discussion, and of course sarcasm.  I'm tipped off to a lot of new horror movies thanks to these ladies (but I do blame them for introducing me to Goodnight Mommy, which took something from my soul).
  • "Exploding Heads"--This is a brand new horror podcast that features in-depth discussion of one new and one old horror movie for each episode.  Although, they've only got two episodes out as of this writing, it sounds like the hosts, Dave, Christian, and Brandon, have been working together for years.  It probably helps that two of the hosts are veterans from other shows, but even with that I'm surprised at how quickly they have gelled. 
  • "Lore"--This one is a little different than most of the horror podcasts that I listen to.  Rather than discussing horror film, host Aaron Mahnke chooses a general horror topic, such as werewolves or poltergeists, and discusses their historical genesis as well as real-life examples.  A great podcast for anyone taking a long drive at night.

Monster Mania Con
If you've never been to a horror convention, I highly recommend you get to at least one in your lifetime.  And if you're anywhere in the Philly/South Jersey area, the Monster Mania Con in Cherry Hill, NJ is a great option.  They have it a couple times each year, and I have a great time whenever I get to visit.  They've got a great line up of horror celebrities that you can meet/see if a panel, or you can just check out all of the various horror vendor booths and people watch for some incredible cosplay.  If nothing else, it's a great place for fans to get congregate and geek out with one another.  As the resident horror nerd in my circle of friends, it's always nice to be reminded that there are a lot of us out there.

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