Top 13 Horror Movies of 2022

It’s that time of year again where I consult my great and mighty notebook that holds all of the movies I watch for Horrortober and my ongoing list of potentially ‘best of’ flicks for each year. I have to tell you, I was worried I wouldn’t see 13 horror movies worthy of making any kind of list this year. Luckily, there was a slew of quality movies that hit theaters and streaming at the end of the year to quell my fears. It’s like an Oscar push without the hope of anyone getting an Oscar (though Mia Goth sure as hell deserves at least a nomination).

Now, in the first episode of 2023 on Final Guys, we all revealed our top 13 list. Naturally, days later, the order has changed a bit for me. You can check out the extra-sized episode below and then scroll down for my remastered list.

Now, onto my revised list with one sentence reviews for each!

#13 – SISSY – Beautiful to look at with pretty cool gore and social media influencer gone wild. You can watch it on Shudder.

#12 – THE SADNESS – Horny, fast moving zombies are more disturbing than you’d think. Also on Shudder.

#11 – DEADSTREAM – Another social media influencer gets his comeuppance at an haunted house, all while streaming live. No shock, you can see it on Shudder.

#10 – THE BLACK PHONE – Creepy, heart wrenching child abduction thriller with a terrifying Ethan Hawke that will hit you in the feels. Catch it on Amazon Prime.

#9 – RESURRECTION – A complete mind fuck of a movie starring the queen, Rebecca Hall who should get every award for every movie she does. See it on Shudder.

#8 – SMILE – Biggest surprise of the year for me with genuine chills, pulse pounding scares and an ending that will wipe that smile off your face. Available streaming on demand and Amazon.

#7 – NOPE – A big yep for this alien western with killer performances and a very, very bad monkey. Catch it on Hulu.

#6 – PEARL – The prequel to X is a throwback to big movies of the 30s and the most daring horror film to come out in a long time. Available to stream on Amazon.

#5 – FRESH – What starts out as a kind of romcom descends into madness and cannibalism. Watch it on Hulu.

#4 – THE MENU – Wondrous to behold, this hysterical take on food culture stars the otherworldly Anya Taylor Joy who is the best of her generation. Feast your eyes on HBO Max.

#3 – BARBARIAN – Proof that Detroit horror movies rule, your jaw will drop more times than you can count in this offbeat foray into subterranean horror. Watch it on Hulu.

#2 – VIOLENT NIGHT – The most fun I had at the movies all year, the violence and humor is at eleven. In theaters.

#1 – X – I knew this would be my favorite the second I saw it. Shooting porn in a rented shack in Texas has never been so sexy, strange, and disturbing. Thank you Ti West for coming back to horror!

And to round things out:

HONORALE MENTION goes to A Wounded Fawn, Dashcam, Slash/Back, Hellbender, The Innocents and Piggy.

WORSE MOVIE OF THE YEAR is undeniably Halloween Ends. Words still fail me. Let’s hope this is truly the end.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT – Terrifier 2. I’d been looking forward to it, but what I got was a bloated, mean, pointless exercise in gore for gore’s sake.

COMEBACK DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR – Ti West for giving us 2 amazing flicks! Can’t wait for Maxxine later this year.

Who Wants Me On Their Chest?

Thanks to our newest Final Guy, author extraordinaire and graphic designer (hit him up if you need a killer book cover) Chad Lutzke, we now have brand new Final Guys merch. He gifted us with a surprise shirt featuring each of us this holiday. It was pretty hysterical when we opened up our packages together live on the show last week. It was even funnier when I wore it to all of my Christmas festivities and people would stop and stare and then say, “Wait, is that you?”

Well, if you’ve always wanted my mug on a shirt, sticker, or well, mug, today’s your lucky day!

This beauty comes in an array of colors and sizes. Thrill your friends! Shock your neighbors! Get kicked out of the PTA! Forget MAGA. This is what will unite the country, by jiminey!

We’ve asked Chad to create a shirt that will have all 4 of our images, like the classic Kiss album cover. Until then, why not grab a Jason, Jack or Chad shirt? What we make lack in handsomeness, we more than make up for in silliness.

And I know the holiday season isn’t all happiness and jingle bells for everyone. If you need an almost 2 hour laugh session, I encourage you to check out our Christmas episode where we review the holiday trash classic, Elves.

Do you like FREE BOOKS?

Honestly, this post title is rhetorical. Of course you do! Why else would you be lurking around my blog? We are readers, and we all want book-scented cologne and perfume this Christmas.

I wanted to take some time out of your day to let you know of important changes going forward. In the past, I’ve done quite a bit of book giveaways, posting scads of contests here and on my social media pages.

Going forward, if you want to be in it to win free signed books, ebooks and more, you’ll need to be signed up for my Dark Hunter Newsletter. That’s where I’ll make announcements and draw winners. And trust me, there are going to be a lot of giveaways in 2023! Below are just some of the books that will be in the mix. Trust me, there’s lots more, including books by some of your favorite horror authors.

So, if you’re in the mood to read, sign up for my Dark Hunter Newsletter today and please forward it to anyone else you know who enjoys horror! You’ll be happy to be a newsletter Hellion.

Who wants to win a free signed book?

In honor of my second favorite holiday, I’m giving away a signed copy of BIGFOOT IN THE BRONX. All you have to do is click here to join my Dark Hunter Newsletter so you can be in it to win it.

All the details are below. And knowing me, I will probably give away more than 1 copy. Good luck and gobble gobble!

Just Some Halloween Fun

I can’t help but have the Silver Shamrock theme run through my head every time I look at the calendar in October. As of this moment, there are 9 more days until Halloween. I’m fine with putting on my pumpkin mask now while I sit in front of the TV. But since I don’t want worms and bugs coming out of my head on the big day, I think I’ll wear my bigfoot costume instead.

I know everyone’s looking for fun things to do during the spooky season. Me and my gang of horror idiots have been busy filming new shows and promoting the horrortober season like busy, twisted elves. So, for those of you who can’t make it to a haunted attraction, spooky hayride or pumpkin maze, here are some things to get you in the proper mood.

Are you a fan of the Halloween series? Have you seen Halloween Ends yet? The Final Guys (5 of us this time around!) give our picks of what to watch and read and then dive into the final chapter of Michael Myers…or is it? It’s making money so let’s face it, he’ll be back.

Speaking of Final Guys, we also just dropped a special episode where we interview producer Peter Phok, the man behind such horror greats as Pearl, X, Stakeland, The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers and more. He was a blast to talk to and is living the horror and Hollywood dream.

My Halloween Video Visions column is dedicated this year to all things Bigfoot. This time around, I’ll be your video store curator as I walk you through the Video Visions squatch section, offering you 32 Bigfoot Movies That Scratch That Squatchy Itch! And here I am last year chilling out while watching Elvira between trick or treaters.

Need a great book to read with creepy tales from some of the best horror writers in the game? And it just happens to have the best cover of the year? Check out Human Monsters! This one’s a can’t miss and it features my buds, Tim Meyer and Chad Lutzke.

And with all of this Halloween goodness, you know you have to have a great pumpkin ale by your side. Luckily, the Monster Men conducted our annual pumpkin ale tasting while talking about the horror heart throbs that get our motors running. The dat after filming this, I was sick as a dog with Covid, so I had it in this video. I think I did pretty, pretty good for a guy who was hours away from being laid low for 2 weeks!

2022 Horrortober Killer Reading List

Happy Horrortober to all the Hellions far and wide! I woke up early on this rainy October 1st morning and watched the Italian horror classic, DEMONS. Nothing like a little insane gore to start your day. Not to mention a helicopter crashing through a movie theater ceiling. Last year I watched 65 movies during Horrortober. Who knows what will happen this year? Other than the tried and true flicks I always watch like THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, HALLOWEEN, IT FOLLOWS and THE FUNHOUSE, I plan to add movies like THE RELIC, PRIMAL RAGE, THE BOOGEYMAN and THE BROOD to the mix. Plus, I have a stack of new Blu-rays in my room I had stashed for this month.

Speaking of rainy days, every year I save up special books to read for Horrortober, and this year is no different. Though with the Mets making the playoffs, I might not have as much horror time as usual. So, here are the books on my TBR list for this Halloween season. I’m curious to hear what’s on yours!

Right after DEMONS ended, I dove into this one that I’ve been dying to read. Sager is one of my current favorites and never disappoints.

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye—and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces.

This mockumentary-style dark comedy recounts the grisly events surrounding the terrible slasher flick THE ROOFER, remembered only because an obsessed fan tried to reenact the murders as they played out on the screen. When the same theater shows the film twenty years later, will the warnings that this is a really, really bad idea be justified?

It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother and she’s still adjusting to her new life in rural Nebraska. Then, one by one, students at her high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair.

As the body count rises and the terror grows closer, can Makani survive the killer’s twisted plan?

Eligos is waiting…fulfil your destiny

1941. In the dark days of war-torn London, Violet works in Churchill’s subterranean top secret Cabinet War Rooms, where key decisions that will dictate Britain’s conduct of the war are made. Above, the people of London go about their daily business as best they can, unaware of the life that teems beneath their feet.

Night after night the bombs rain down, yet Violet has far more to fear than air raids. A mysterious man, a room only she can see, memories she can no longer trust, and a best friend who denies their shared past… Something or someone – is targeting her.

“Think you’re hardcore? Think again. If you’ve handled everything Edward Lee, Wrath James White, and Bryan Smith have thrown at you, then put on your rubber parka, spread some plastic across the floor, and get ready for Ryan Harding, the unsung master of hardcore horror. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Harding’s work is like an acid bath, and pain has never been so sweet.” – Brian Keene

“Enjoy the tour, friends. Enjoy the gang-bang. You may need psych drugs afterwards, you may need an air-sick bag and a steam shower, but I feel confident that you will be provocatively moved by this book.” – Edward Lee, from his introduction

Genital Grinder collects the most sought after and most extreme fiction from the diamond in the puke – Ryan Harding.

A Simple Thank You

Hello and happy almost Halloween season, Hellions! As I’ve been gathering all of the things to fill up my Horrortober, I wanted to pause for a moment and thank you all for everything you’ve done for me.

The process of writing is a lonely endeavor. You miss out on time spent with family and friends, hoping the words you’re putting down will entertain basic strangers out there in the insane world.

Over the past decade plus, so many of you have stepped out of the shadows of stranger and become friends, colleagues and supporters that are invaluable to me. I truly love horror, and am proud to share that love with all of you. In the end, we’re all just fans, jawing about the things that give us chills and make us sleep with the lights on.

So, thank you to everyone who has ever purchased one of my books, dropped a rating, left a review, connected with me on social media, promoted my work on said social media, watched or listened to my podcasts (Monster Men and Final Guys), appeared on my podcasts, signed up for Patreon, read my Video Visions column at Cemetery Dance, shared your ghost stories, made me aware of awesome new movies or UFO documentaries, alerted me to the latest cryptid news, came to a book signing or appearance at a convention or brewery, lent me a hand with things like marketing and design, gave me encouraging words to keep me going, and overall, just made me feel welcome. I know there can be a lot of drama in this genre, and I thank you for sticking with me in keeping that horse crap in the basement where it belongs.

Every single one of you is special to me, and I appreciate this community we’ve built. The future is known to no one, but I will always know that I have rock star Hellions in my life. We have a month and a half to go hog wild with this thing we love. I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you, like we do every year.

Stay scary, keep looking to the skies, and call me if you see a Bigfoot!

Top 7 Horrors in the Movie Theater

Howdy Hellions! It’s been a long time since I put together a list like this, but after watching one of the below flicks, I thought it was time to cobble one together. Now that we all stream our entertainment most of the time, going to an actual theater is a welcome and special event. I practically grew up in theaters, and the damn pandemic stole one of my life’s greatest pleasures from me for a while. Luckily, my daughter just got a job at the Alamo Drafthouse near us, so I’ve been making it a point to hit the theater once a week.

One of the things I always loved to see on the big screen was horror movies set in a big screen. Watching it kind of felt like we the viewers and actors were all in the same theater, and the lurking terror was all around us. From the hilarious interactions between David and Jack and the recently dead in An American Werewolf in London, to the mysterious paranoia Jay’s date exhibits in It Follows, there’s something about watching the terror unfold in the same environment where you think you’re safe, watching it all, is a bit of a thrill.

So, here in my very subjective order, is what I think are the top 7 movie theater horrors. I wonder what makes your list…

7. THE BLOB

Who can forget the iconic scene of terrified teens fleeing the theater as the gelatinous creature from outerspace oozes from the exits? I prefer the remake in the 80s, but nothing beats the visuals set down way back in 1958.

6. THE LAST MATINEE

This nasty little gem from Uruguay will haunt your cinematic dreams, especially if you have a thing…like me…about eyeballs. Set almost entirely in a movie theater, once the action starts it never lets up.

5. POPCORN

With an unforgettable last act that makes it a standout for the early 90s (with a definite 80s feel), Popcorn also has a stellar cast – Jill Shoelen (The Stepfather), Dee Wallace, the late Tom Villard in a brilliant, manic performance, all written and directed by the great Alan Ormsby (Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things). Popcorn, buy a bag, go home in a box! I miss those great taglines.

4. THE TINGLER

Where is the next William Castle? Not only is a creature on the prowl in a theater on the screen, it may just be running past your feet in your own theater! My father hooked up the Tingler devices when he worked at his local theater as a kid. Vincent Price never mailed it in, no matter how cheesy the premise. The Tingler is a horror classic. Remember to scream, scream for your life!

3. PORNO

What happens when the tired workers at a little hometown theater find a hidden porno theater below it? Madness, gore and hilarity, of course. This main feature from the folks at Fangoria is an absolute blast. Gentlemen, prepare to experience some crotch sympathy pain. Seriously.

2. THE FINAL GIRLS

This has become one of my all time favorite movies, hands down. When a teen girl goes to a showing of her deceased mother’s 80s slasher movie, a fire in the theater leads to them escaping into the movie itself. Screamingly funny, tear-jerkingly poignant, with some fantastically framed scenes that will stick in your brain like they were made of Gorilla Glue. It’s a fun homage to 80s slashers with a killer cast.

  1. DEMONS

I’m not a big fan of Italian horror, so the fact that this is my #1 speaks to it’s sheer bonkers-ness. Patrons are trapped in a theater flooded with blood thirty demons. So much splattery fun. The sequel is pretty much the same movie, but set in building and parking garage. Bring out the super red blood and practical effects!

New Book Release – To The Devil, A Cryptid Pits The Goat Man Against Satan!

Releasing my latest foray into cryptid mania on Friday the 13th was no mere coincidence. What better time to give birth to a book that is chock full of Goat Man carnage, devil worshipping, revenge, and, well, love? Oh yeah, this has it all.

The ebook is available now and paperback will be quick to follow.

If that doesn’t have your horror motor running, here’s a quick preview of Chapter One!

SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS

            The bleating of the terrified goat rode under the constant barrage of thunder. Lightning crackled against the starless sky, throwing up strange and twisted shadows in the woods. The first patters of rain plinked off the leaves. It sounded like a monsoon was barreling their way…fast.

            “What about the fire?” one of the black-robed figures asked.

            “It will burn for as long as it needs to burn,” replied the nude woman covered in blood and holding a heavy, leatherbound book. Her name was Lupita Saenz and she was the leader of their cult. Lupita had used a metal file to whittle her eye teeth into fangs the night before, and with the way the wind was whipping her jet-black hair, she was a vision of absolute terror.

            Perhaps not for Chuck Bugna, who had had enough of an unrelenting crush on Lupita to willfully join the group of weekend Satanists on the night of their big sacrifice. He couldn’t stop staring at her crimson breasts. There had been promises of a wild bacchanal when they were done. Chuck had been in charge of procuring all of the alcohol and the suite at the Hampton Inn a few towns away. The word orgy had been bandied about and that was not something Chuck was going to miss, even if he had to watch a goat get its throat cut. Normally an animal lover, he clung to the memory of being chased by a goat at the petting zoo when he was eight. It had traumatized him.

            Yeah, well fuck that goat. Chuck looked at the goat to his left as it strained against the rope, its eyes wide and terrified with each clap of thunder and flicker of lightning. Sorry you gotta take the fall for it, but at least you’ll be serving a higher purpose.         

            That higher purpose, Chuck was sure, was not the incarnation of the devil or satisfied Goat Man or some lesser demon. It would be him getting laid. With Lupita, if the fantasies in his head managed to play out.

            He just wanted this whole part to be over and done with. With his luck, he’d get struck by lightning. A whole year of chanting HAIL SATAN for naught.

            Think positive. And stop looking at the goat.

            Lupita motioned for Sandra on her right to hand her the chalice. She took a huge gulp and promptly spat the cheap wine into the large campfire it had taken Chuck and Dan the better part of an hour to build.

            Chuck thought the wine would make the flames roar. Instead, the bitter liquid sizzled and was quickly evaporated.

            She threw her head back and looked into the roiling sky.

            “It’s time!”

            Dylan took the book from her, dropped to his knees and held it open so she could read from it. Chuck had wanted that job, if only to get closer to a naked Lupita. She had insisted Dylan be the book bearer. For that, Chuck hated Dylan just a little bit.

            “Bow your heads and repeat after me,” Lupita commanded. “Amen. Everlasting life and body the of resurrection the sins of forgiveness.”

            The group of six Satanists around the fire intoned as one. “Amen. Everlasting life and body the of resurrection the sins of forgiveness.”

            When they finished, the rain started to fall in earnest. So many jagged spires of lightning sprang to life, it turned night into day for several seconds. Chuck felt his arm hairs start to rise.

            The rain washed the blood (pig’s blood they got from the butcher) off of Lupita’s tan, taut body. Chuck licked his lips.

            She continued. “The saints of communion the Church Catholic holy the Spirit Holy the in believe I!”

            They responded. “The saints of communion the Church Catholic holy the Spirit Holy the in believe I!”

            Saying the Apostle’s Creed backwards was no easy task. They had been rehearsing it for the better part of a month. Chuck couldn’t count how many times he’d said it forward in church growing up. The priests used to stop random students in the school halls to make them say it until they knew it like the backs of their dirty hands. If they could only see Chuck now.

            When they finished the Apostle’s Creed, Lupita began chanting in a weird language that was so guttural, Chuck worried she might choke on her own tongue. His worry didn’t prevent him from ogling her.

            “Get the sacrifice!” she wailed. Chuck forced his eyes to lock on Lupita’s face. Her eyes showed too much white. Crazy eyes. He quickly and happily went back to looking at her chest and below.

            Rosie and Harold pulled the stake the goat was tied to out of the ground and led the skittish animal closer to the fire. Sandra passed the ceremonial dagger she had ordered from some seller on Etsy to Lupita. The fire hissed as the rain pounded down. Chuck could feel the thunder in his bones. This had better be quick.

GET YOUR COPY OF TO THE DEVIL, A CRYPTID TODAY!

Cryptidmania – Welcome to the Eerie World of the Goat Man!

As you all know, old Hunter is a bit of a cryptid fanatic. It’s been my mission in life to drag these poor (oftentimes scary) creatures into my fictional world of mayhem and murder. As a lad who became fascinated by the likes of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster thanks to shows like In Search Of, I’ve always wanted to see these mythical beasts at their wildest and most terrifying.

Hence, I have a library of books I’ve penned detailing the fantastical adventures of the Montauk Monster, Dover Demon, Skunk Apes, Loch Ness Monster, Pukwudgies, Thunderbirds, Orang Pendeks, Jersey Devil, Loch Ness Monster, and now, coming out on Friday the 13th in May…The Goat Man!

When I was searching for a new cryptid to exploit…er, I mean explore…I reached out to my mega Hellions on Patreon and asked them to make suggestions. I was looking for a creature that has had little to no fiction written about it. When someone brought up the Goat Man, tiny bells went off in my head. I recalled my daughters loving an episode of Buzzfeed Unsolved where hosts Shane and Ryan go down to Denton, Texas to find evidence of the local legend…and maybe some devil worshipers!

I was hooked! I knew about the Goat Man, but I didn’t realize that the cryptid is not confined to just one place. There are Goat Man legends in Texas, Maryland, Louisiana, and the most infamous of all, Kentucky, home of the Pope Lick Monster, which, if you ask me, is a way cooler moniker. Goat Man conjures up too many images of Jim Brewer doing the Goat Boy on SNL.

But here’s what intrigued me the most. When you think of it, the Goat Man, a bipedal half man, half goat living in the woods, looks a hell of a lot like the devil himself, or at least something demonic. Sprinkle in tales of Satanic rituals being performed in places where the Goat Man has been known to dwell, and you have a pretty spine-chilling backstory.

And speaking of backstories, the Goat Man has plenty. He is sometimes said to be the offspring of one of those Satanic rituals. Others say he was an African American goat farmer who was hanged by jealous white farmers. He also may be the end product of a science project gone awry at a nearby animal lab. Like all juicy legends, speculation runs wild and give us space for our imaginations to soar. And when we’re left to fill in the blanks or expound upon an existing theory, the darkness creeps in.

Photo courtesy of cryptidz.fandom.com

I don’t know about you, but if I saw that thing in the woods, I’d hightail it all the way to Canada. I’ve always felt that the Goat Man in America is an extension of the mythological Satyr. What’s a Satyr? Well, here’s my favorite definition found on Wikipedia – “In Greek mythology, a satyr, also known as a silenus or silenos, is a male nature spirit with ears and a tail resembling those of a horse, as well as a permanent, exaggerated erection.” I know, I’ll never outgrow my adolescence. These beings are also half man, half goat, and have been around for three thousand years. Here’s another thing I love about Satyrs, thanks to those Wiki peeps – “Satyrs were characterized by their ribaldry and were known as lovers of wine, music, dancing, and women. They were companions of the god Dionysus and were believed to inhabit remote locales, such as woodlands, mountains, and pastures.

Now, it seems like Satyrs have a whole lot more fun than our American Goat Man, which kind of makes me feel sorry for him. What I don’t feel sorry for are the cultists who have been known to sacrifice cats to the devil or the Goat Man or Linda Blair. Killing cats is not cool, though you never hear someone ask about a book or horror movie, “Did they kill the cat?” Down in Texas, it’s gotten so bad, local pet stores won’t sell cats.

Now, you can’t have a Goat Man without a bridge, it seems. The old Anton Bridge in Texas still stands after well over a hundred years. Known to residents and cryptid enthusiasts as the Goat Man’s Bridge, it’s a sort of gateway between our world and the underworld…and I’m not talking about the Mafia. All one needs to do to call upon the Goat Man is to rap on the bridge three times and utter its name. If you’re lucky, nothing will happen. If you’re one of the very unlucky, the Goat Man’s piercing eyes will appear out of the darkness, a growling voice compelling you to “get off my bridge!” And if you’re super unlucky, the Goat Man will chase you!

The Goat Man isn’t necessarily a killer, but he is territorial. Satanists, on the other hand, can be killers, especially if you wander into their ritual while wearing a cat suit. For my money, Devil worshippers are much scarier than a Goat Man. And that is how my next book was born. Out of a love for the Goat Man and a fear of Satanists!

There’s a lot more to come as we walk across the old Goat Man’s Bridge and see what we can do about rousting that modern day, unhappy Satyr out of his lair. Stay tuned, and if you find yourself in the woods at night on a decaying bridge, knock three times and tell me what you see.

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