Days of October- Underrated horror titles 2013-2014

I am keeping the list confined because I could go on forever on underrated and lesser known horror movies.

Enjoy and give this lesser known movies a shot!

The Guest (Go see this in the theater RIGHT NOW)

You’re Next


Jug Face

The Sacrament


Banshee Chapter

Under the Skin


A Field In England

Only Lovers Left Alive

The Den

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Starting the of the Days of October posts!

Let get this started with the question, “What are the best scary movies for kids?”
(Also this isn’t meant to include every spooky children’s movie, just ones that meant something to me)

Foreword, every child is different and has their own tolerance levels for fright. Use your own judgement when sharing scary movies with children. Ask what they want to see, pay attention to their reactions, they will let you know when things are too much for them.

We will start with my gateway horror:
Dark Crystal
Little Shop of Horror

Monster Squad
The Neverending Story
Escape to Witch Mountain

Additional recommendations:

The Addams Family

The Witches
the witches


Hocus Pocus


Hotel Transylvania
Hotel Transylvania

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Why I am proud to own my physical movies.

I used to feel embarrassed about my movie love. I felt like I needed to apologize for how often I watched movies, how much I spent on them, how many I purchased. But finally I hit a point where I am able to accept who I am. I love that I am a go-to person for movie knowledge and trivia. I have this movie blog, and I started a horror movie podcast. Recently in a  discussion with a friend he mentioned that I am the purveyor of the indie, the unknown, and the hard to find. This give me a real sense of pride in knowing that my interest and love isn’t just for me. It is an awesome thing to share with others; like making a good meal, it just tastes better when shared.

So my soapbox moment is this, it is important to own my media. It is important to buy it via legitimate means. I love film. I want movies that I like to continue to be made. For that to happen I need to give them money. Also I don’t want a computer glitch, or a studio decision to make my movie disappear out of my grubby little paw. I own the means to play several types of media and have multiple types of players because some movies don’t exist on DVD, Blu Ray, or sometimes even VHS. Is VHS my preferred way to own a movie? Hell no. Am I going to be tossing out my copy of Big Night anytime soon? No freaking way! I also have a shelf of laserdisc titles I can’t get any other way, or even just for the extras that don’t exist in any other formats (or, in the case of The City of Lost Children, a better translation in the subtitling). Storage is a pain in the ass, I will be the first to admit, but I don’t want internet speeds to control the quality of my movie. and I want something I can loan to friends or give to my kid someday.

Another irritation is the idea that the only movies worth watching are on Netflix streaming. There is a wealth of good movies out there. Movies that will disappear and no one will be the wiser. It will be like most of Theda Bara’s filmography, or London After Midnight – gone without a trace because we have let them go, let them fade first into obscurity and then oblivion. I will continue searching for hard to find movies. If I love a movie enough to watch it again, I will buy it. I will support that new director or writer.

Why? Because I really love movies.

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WMF Horror Movie Friday -Burnt Offerings



Burnt Offers is an atmospheric gem. A family of three rents the old family home of an elderly brother and sister who care for their housebound mother. The siblings rent it out infrequently yet still state they can only rent it to the right people. After they are completely charmed by the wife they agree not only to rent the home to them, but for a price the family cannot refuse. The only sidenote is they will have to care for the elderly mother who never leaves her room. So for the measly price of hand delivered meals to the mother and a flat rate of $900 for the entire summer they have the run of this large beautiful home. As you might imagine, hijinks then ensue.

All of the actors bring their A game. Oliver Reed is alternately loving, charismatic, and frightening. Bette Davis, while at the end of her career, never feels like she is phoning in her performance. Karen Black is sweet, yet sometimes otherworldly. Eileen Heckart and Burgess Meredith, in their brief appearance, chew the scenery as the delightfully devious brother and sister.

This 1976 film really shows its age. But if you love a gently moving, atmospheric horror this may be just the film for you.


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Upcoming movie squee- The Guest



No one who listens to me here should have any misconception that I am any type of professional critic. What I am is a gibbering fan with a platform. I am the safe version of a zealot, with movies for a cause.

Part of me wants to give a concise breakdown of all the wonderful reasons why, when The Guest hit the theaters, you should throw your money at it like rock icons had panties tossed their way in the 1980s. Throw that money till the writers, directors, and actors are sitting in a heaped pile of it looking confused. But the other half of me just wants to scream “OMG!!! YOU GOTTA SEE THIS AWESOME F-ING MOVIE!!”

The Guest is just a wonderful f-ing ride. It is the next effort from the writers and directors of You’re Next (which is also wonderful, and you should go watch it right this very moment). The Guest is a tension filled romp with a soundtrack to die for. Every single actor holds their own, but the biggest surprise in the entire film is Dan Stevens. I would have never guessed that he had this kind of performance in him, but he hit Robert Mitchum Night of the Hunter levels of alternating charm and intimidation.

The bottom line is that this movie should not get the reception that You’re Next got; its theater release came and disappeared. I feel like even with other horror fans I keep having to tell people about it. You need to know the director Adam Wingard’s name. You need to know the writer Simon Barrett’s name. The Guest is suspenseful, funny, violent, and smart. Please go see this movie. You’ll thank me later.

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A square peg in a round world

These are the stories of women. Women that took different paths. Like salmon swimming upstream they fought to live their lives against the current of societal expectations. Some secretly and some out in plain sight.

Finding Vivian Maier
In 2009 a woman passed away in lonely destitution. While never discussing her photography she took approximately 100,000 photos while working as a nanny. Her negatives were found after her death by a young man who purchased them in an auction. Realizing what he had found, and even to his novice eye, he spotted their timelessness and quality. He researched and found the others who had bought parts of her vast collection and purchased them. He then found a way to show them to the world.

She never discussed her photography or photos with anyone, though because of her voracity, everyone knew she took them. There is one letter to a printer in France where her mother was from, discussing printing some of her work. She states in a quiet way that she felt her work was good, and broaches the idea of printing them, yet never does.

Sadly her tale ends with a crumble into mental illness. But I refuse to let it sully her accomplishments. She lives on in an amazing body of work that now is seeing the light of day.

51 Birch Street
The story starts when the documentarian’s mother passes away suddenly after 54 years of being married to his father. To the shock of his family his father marries his former secretary less than 90 days after his wife dies. In trying to deal with this turn of events, he starts to read through his mother’s meticulously kept daily diary. He finds out more about both of his parents than he ever planned on..

The line that really killed me in her diary was a revelation that his mother wrote of one night after running into Kitty, the secretary, in passing. I paraphrase, “Kitty is very sweet, and honestly I wonder if she is the type of woman that Mike [the husband] should have married. She is simple and sweet, non-challenging, and perhaps what he should have wanted, other that someone like me who has always been too much, too emotional, too smart, too much woman.”

She was trapped by her time, by the ideas of who she was supposed to be, of having to fit into parameters that were too confining for her. Of course she was miserable, and kept her husband miserable too. If only this woman had the opportunities that I had to actually find a partner that accepted the woman that she was, or moreso had been born in a time when the expectation wasn’t that you had to marry and try and live a life that you were unsuited for.

Lastly The Woodmans
This documentary is a wonderful insight to two women’s lives in the mix of the story of their whole family. The mother, who created her own version of matrimony and parenthood, a wife and mother who never stopped being an artist, in a family of artists. And the daughter she raised, a wonderful artist in her own right who passed too young by her own hand.

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Let me tell you about this little film I saw- The Den


The Den


Sometimes you have to take Netflix recommendations with a grain of salt. There is many a movie that I have avoided which came with their stamp of approval. But sometimes there are movies like Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and Grave Encounters where I am pretty certain I owe them a thank you card. The Den came up in my suggestions yesterday, seemed to have a decent premise, and since I was going to be spending the evening on my own I decided to give it a try.

So I think that watching this movie alone in the dark really help set the stage, and brought me on board fast. This movie set the tension bar  fast and kept you there. There was a moment at the end where I was struck by a similarity to the French film Ils AKA Them and, a little more vaguely, the Spanish film Tesis. I enjoyed the story and the journey, there was a bit at the very end where the movie seemed a tad smug with itself, but having enjoyed everything else so much I was willing to overlook it.

I’d have to say I recommend it. It’s scary, fun, and current.
I give it four Walkens.

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Inspired by Scarecrow Video

One of the promotional rewards for contributing to Scarecrow’s kickstarter effort to go nonprofit was a top ten list that would be posted on their site.

Scarecrow is  a wonderful place, I happily contributed but I declined the reward. I just want to see them up and running. But it got me thinking. If I were to provide a list of movies that I feel are representative of myself as a movie lover what would they be?

They are in no particular order and from every conceivable genre. When I was thinking about which ones I should list I picked movies that stuck with me for years. Ones that changed the ways that I looked at movies or the world. Movies that impacted me, and that I still love.

Dogfight (1991)
Oscar (1991)
The Impostors (1998)
Fright Night (1985)
Cold Comfort Farm (1995)
The Changeling (1980)
Harold and Maude (1971)
Born Yesterday (1950)
City Lights (1931)
They Live (1988)
The Addams Family (1991)
The Godfather (1972)
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Paragraph 175 (2000)
Grey Gardens (1975)
Poltergeist (1982)
The Haunting (1963)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Labyrinth (1986)

What movies are on your list?

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Throwback from Fanboy News Network Jug Face v. The Lords of Salem

Horror Review: A hit and a miss

The success:
jugfaceJug Face grabbed me the moment the credits began; it pulled me in with its primitive folk art animation that foreshadows the movie’s undertone, style and people. I was really struck by the charisma of each the primary characters. The sympathy that you feel for the young woman in the lead role is surprisingly strong in a short period of time. You immediately gather that she has wits and is struggling to survive as well as she can in a backward, cultish community. Having grown up in a small town in a rural area, you see a lot of that tough, almost emotionless, rearing. It was very familiar to me and I understood how emotionally starved she was, and why she would make choices that would normally horrify or disgust me. Both the special effects and sound effects are well used and give a sense of foreboding, while never being intrusive or overplayed. This is a girl who fights and you root for her to make her escape, yet when the end comes you understand the choices she makes.

The movie that fails:
the-lords-of-salem-posterThe Lords of Salem is not completely without merit. The quality of the supporting cast is amazing. Whenever Bruce Davison, Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson, or Dee Wallace enter the scene you are captivated. Every time I was about to turn it off, they
reappeared. The atmosphere and set combine to create their own character that completely stands out. But, as soon as the story starts, things go downhill. Firstly, the ominous sound use is ham-fisted and oppressive, it starts well but is so overused it becomes cliché. Next, everything around Sheri’s character shows how strong and what an individual she is (female DJ in a male dominated industry, especially metal), but when she is on the screen you never see any of what they hint at. The fact that she is attending NA and fighting to stay sober speaks of strength, to me, in theory. But after five days of what is, in essence, bad dreams she starts using again. It’s like she is only the shadow of an amazing person, walking around, but that you never really get to see on screen. She is empty and defeated, and that isn’t interesting. I don’t place the blame completely on Sheri Moon Zombie’s
shoulders. All she did is work within the story, and it was the story that failed her. Because the moment things start going badly, it’s just a descent into oblivion with no effort on the character’s part for any other outcome. And I just don’t find that interesting.

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WMF Horror Movie Friday -Paperhouse


Some movies are game changers. I saw Paperhouse as a teenager. Wandering through our small town video store, I was teased by the line on the cover that stated, “Paperhouse is the thinking man’s Nightmare on Elm Street.” Which is not entirely accurate, but being a horror fan and Nightmare on Elm Street fan, it got me in the door. It is an early film from the director of Candyman, his touches are all over it. To this day I am thankful I picked up that VHS tape.

Paperhouse frightened and imprinted on me. I only watched it once and it’s stayed in my memory  for years, truly decades. I searched endlessly for it. I remember having a Tivo wishlist created for it as far back as 2000, hoping I would find it. Last year I was rewarded by it randomly showing up with the rest of my recordings. To be honest, I was a little afraid to watch it. Would it lose some of its power? Would I love it less? If anything, it was even more powerful to adult me. I showed the movie last Friday, and then watched it a third time with some of my closest friends. I felt like standing and spinning in the center of the the room saying, “my triggers, let me show you them.” I was obviously crying while watching it, and was asked afterward how in the world I had watched this movie when I was a teen. I let them know it scared me less then, while I was in the midst of my terrifying childhood. It’s like that Stephen King quote, “there’a a phrase, ‘the elephant in the living room,’ which purports to describe what it’s like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, ‘How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?’ And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; ‘I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.’ There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.” And I think the reason why this movie affected me so much more as an adult is that I was no longer acclimated to the feelings it arose into my conscious awareness: being afraid, being afraid of a parental figure, fearing for other children, never being in control.

Paperhouse is surreal. It has touches in its dreamworld that are amazing and otherworldly. I both wish for and would dread Scream Factory getting their hands on it and giving it a full Blu Ray release. Would it make it more beautiful or would wiping away time’s fuzziness of the images make it lose something important. It’s hard to find, this movie is partially why I bought a laser disc player. But if you ever get the chance to watch it please do. It’s frightening and wonderful, it is a coming of age movie that is human and touching and truly frightening. But it’s okay, childhood sometimes comes with a side of fear, it’s getting past it that helps you grow.


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