The Monster Men are kicking off a new series of episodes where we go back in time and look at the horror movies that came out in a specific year. We started it all off with 1987 (the last year I was a single man) and boy, what a year! It may be the best of all time. Give the episode a watch and tell me what you think. What was your favorite horror movie of 1987? Also, what years would you like us to explore next?
As a man who makes his stock-in-trade trade in creature features, I make it a point to watch as many monster flicks as possible. Somehow, I missed the 1993 horror/scifi romp, TICKS. That was the year my wife got seriously ill, so there are quite a few things that flew under my radar. Cut to years later and I always assumed I had watched it. Well, I hadn’t…until now.
I’ve had TICKS on my Amazon Prime watch list for a while now. If I had realized it was Ami Dolenz on the poster, I would have watched it sooner. The daughter of Monkee Mickey Dolenz, I crushed on her when she played a genie in the movie Miracle Beach.
If you’re looking for pure icky bug mayhem and some gooey gore, TICKS is for you. We start with a very young Seth Green being sent to one of those city kids goes to the woods camp. He meets a street thug who threatens to kill him if he doesn’t make a free throw. That gutter punk is none other than dancing Carlton, AKA Alfonso Ribeiro. It’s wig flipping to watch him play the tough kid who also sells dope on the side. They’re picked up in a van by couple Holly (played by Rosalind Allen, who I remember from the soap, Santa Barbara, but was also the marine biologist on Seinfeld) and Charles (Peter Scolari, from Newhart and Bosom Buddies – ever wonder how much he truly hates Tom Hanks?). Their sullen daughter is along for the trip and they’re joined by bad boy Ray, his main squeeze Dee Dee (Ami Dolenz) and a girl who never talks.
Oh, did I forget to mention that Clint Howard is a filthy redneck who has some insane contraption that pumps steroids into his marijuana plants? It looks like something the Little Rascals or Bugs Bunny would make, only less sturdy.
That weird goo is what drips on a tick and starts the whole shit storm. I always let out a little cheer when I see Clint in a movie. He’s this generation’s Dick Miller (RIP). The ticks pupate in these ooey-gooey egg sacks and when they pop out, they’re about the size of a man’s hand. Giant ticks skitter everywhere, latching onto faces and backs, crawling up pants and burrowing under rippling flesh.
This is all practical effects and it’s glorious. Be warned, a dog gets the tick treatment and he does not fare well. The third act is freaking bonkers, with hordes of ticks descending on the cabin, pot farmers looking to kill the wilderness kids and something growing inside Carlton. I don’t want to give too much away, but take my word and watch it if you haven’t already. Alas, there’s no nudity, but you do get Dolenz in a very teeny black bikini. There’s plenty of slime and blood and ticks exploding like pus filled popcorn when flame touches them.
I wonder how Seth Green feels about this movie. If you didn’t know better, you would swear he would never get another acting gig. He’s that bad. But hey, he was young and learning. Without this, we might not get Buffy or Robot Chicken!
It’s been a while since I posted a movie review, but I felt this was good penance to make up for missing TICKS for the past 26 years. It is now my job to preach the word. The only thing creepier than the ticks in the movie are the millions of ticks around my house carrying Lyme Disease. Thank you, Plum Island buttholes for creating that little gift.
Now, go watch TICKS. I have to attend to my chiggers.
Oh, and if you revel in the squeamish delight of TICKS, your skin will crawl with joy when you read THE DEVIL’S FINGERS. Swap out bugs for a killer fungus and let the games begin!
Let’s play a game.
A Halloween/Horrortober game.
It’s called 31 DAYS OF TERROR – CHAPTER 2. If you’re like me, you want to fill your Halloween season with horror. For me, one of those ways is watching a horror movie every single day. But the questions is always, what movie do I watch?
Enter 31 Days of Terror.
31 Days of Terror is a roll the dice game where chance selects your movie each night. Author Steve Hutchison has compiled categories and lists of movies in this great second edition. It’s easy to fall into the same old same old with your Horrotober movie selections. The great thing about this game is that it will suggest movies you’ve either forgotten or never heard of, along with plenty of tried and trues.
This is the second year the Monster Men have played the game to help build our viewing list. Watch our latest podcast to see what 31 movies we came up with this time around and see if there are any forgotten gems you want to add to your own. I know we rolled a few very welcome surprises this time around.
And by all means, BUY THE BOOK so you have a fun way to build your own Horrorotber viewing list each and every year.
So, what movies are you planning to watch? Hellions want to know.
Every time I look at the calendar lately, I get giddy. October – uh, I mean HORRORTOBER, is almost here! That means one month of complete horror immersion, from books to movies and things to do.
I’m looking forward to Horrortober more than ever this year because the slate of horror flicks that have come out in 2018 have left a lot to be desired. I feel as though I’ve been bombarded by duds like Unfriended : Dark Web, The Nun and Winchester. Yep, time in the local movie has has not been time well spent, although A Quiet Place and Hereditary are a couple of bright spots. Hell, Puppet Master : The Littles Reich is now in my top 10 for 2018! That’s all that needs to be said.
For me, Horrortober means going back to revisit the movies that are the reason for the season. My goal, that I’ve been able to surpass most years, is to watch at least one horror movie a day. Every year, I rewatch Halloween (natch), It Follows, Motel Hell and The Funhouse and several other staples. But each year, I also add a bunch I haven’t seen in a while. So, what’s on this year’s to-watch list?
2018 is the year of Fred Dekker for me. I’ve added House and The Monster Squad to the old queue. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the top 10 rat movies to see. On that list is Of Unknown Origin, which is now on my Horrortober list. I’m a HUGE John Carpenter fan, but it’s been too long since I revisited They Live. I’m rectifying that this year. The Changeling was just restored in what I hear is a wonderful Blu Ray, which I may buy to give us nightmares in the Shea lair. Or I’ll just watch my old, grainy DVD. Oh, gotta have vampires, so Near Dark is in the rotation.
Now, I have two questions – are you here to chew bubblegum or kick ass? No, that’s not it. What movies do you think I should add to my list? We can watch them ‘together’ and discuss on Twitter. Also, what’s on your Horrortober list? Let’s make this a month long party and swap movie ideas. Those who comment here and share are in the drawing to win free ebooks of Rattus New Yorkus, Jurassic Florida and more. So come on you hellion horror hounds, let’s get pumped for Horrortober!
It’s that time of the (new) year again. 2017 was a surprisingly strong year for horror flicks. Once you got past duds like the latest Resident Evil and Underworld installments, horror hit its stride with a slew of stellar releases, one of them already on most classics lists. Many of my favorites came out between January and April, which is not the norm. I had a hard time whittling my list down to 13, and some real quality movies just missed the final cut. Basically, I ranked movies based on how much they lingered with me long after the final credits rolled on. There are some controversial picks on here, so strap in and get ready…
#13 – CREEP 2
Mark Duplass is one hawk-eyed lunatic. I loved Creep and was anxious to see what he did with the sequel. Let me tell you, Creep 2 did not disappoint. Stakes were upped, strangeness got, er, stranger, and Peach Fuzz made a reappearance! Best watched in a hot tub with a serial killer.
#12 – SUPER DARK TIMES
As My Chemical Romance once sang, “Teenagers scare the living shit out of me.” This one creeped me out because it seemed so damn real…and terrifying. Set in upstate New York, it’s bleak both in imagery and tone. You’ll remember kids you grew up with that were just like the cast presented here, and you’ll think, “crap, this could have happened to me.” This is one that will stick with you for a long, long time.
#11 – THE DEVIL’S CANDY
From the director who gave us one of my favorite movies, The Loved Ones, this one was on my top 10 list for most of the year, getting bumped at the very end. Ethan Embry gives a stellar performance as a struggling artist caught between a rock and a devilish place. Filled with awesome metal guitar licks and psycho imagery, it’s a can’t miss.
#10 – GERALD’S GAME
2017 was inarguably the year of Stephen King. Unlike most people, IT won’t be on my list. But the adept direction of Mike Flanagan brought King’s most difficult book to life, anchored by the performance of the year by Carla Gugino. It also had the most cringe-inducing scene of the year, bar none. Netflix has knocked another one out of the park. I also suggest you head on over to Netflix to check out another King adaptation, 1922. It’s bleak and haunting, so have plenty of booze on hand.
#9 – SPLIT
Thanks to The Visit, I was chomping at the bit to see M. Night Shyamalan’s newest venture into horror. James McAvoy is brilliant, his multiple personalities putting us all on edge from start to finish. There’s not a wasted frame of film in this tight, suspenseful hostage drama with an ending that had people shouting “holy shit!” at the screen.
#8 – LIFE
I have to say, this one surprised me the most. When I saw the coming attractions, I was like, meh. Boy, was I wrong. Life is the best monster movie of the year. I tell folks it’s like Alien, only brighter and prettier. The creature in this space opera is terrifying and there are some super-sweat-inducing moments. Best of all, they nailed the ending. Life breathed life into the monster movie!
#7 – A DARK SONG
In any other year, A Dark Song might be my top pick. How can I describe it? Dark. Desperate. Bizarre. Creepy. A grieving mother hires a man experienced in the dark arts to bring her son back so she can talk to him one more time and get his forgiveness. You never know whether the shaman is full of shit or the real deal, and what he puts her through is truly torturous. A fantastic movie.
#6 – THE SHAPE OF WATER
Having known about this movie for some time, I had penciled it in as my favorite movie of the year way back in March. It didn’t quite make it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a beautiful movie to behold. Imagine a love story between the Creature from the Black Lagoon and a mute cleaning woman. It’s lush and dreamy and at times achingly beautiful, so much so that it’s on the fringe of a true horror movie. Guillermo Del Toro is a master storyteller and his visual aesthetic is this side of stunning. I’m pretty sure I’d love this movie even if the sound was off.
#5 – THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
Now, this is my kind of horror. We all think of the work place as one of the inner circles of hell. Well, your warren of cubicles and backbiting co-workers has nothing on Belko. It’s gleefully insane, bloody and gripping. I rarely watch a movie more than once in a year, but I’ve already seen it three times. The Belko Experiment takes no prisoners. Literally.
#4 – THE BLACK COAT’S DAUGHTER
I can’t say enough good things about this atmospheric, haunting tale by Oz Perkins (son of Anthony “Psycho” Perkins). With a miniscule but fantastic cast, this is one that will linger with you for a long while. The sense of isolation in this blizzard-wracked girl’s academy will leave you shivering. I have to admit, this one bothered me for days. I watched it again to see if I could dispel the feeling, and it only got worse! It also has one of the most realistic and brutal kills of the year. Watch it now!
#3 – GET OUT
Look, I know this is going to be #1 on 90% of lists you see. Don’t get me wrong, it deserves it. Get Out is an instant classic, a Rosemary’s Baby-esque romp into dark territory and creeping dread. I loved it. Jordan Peele knows his horror and has his pulse on the stuttering heartbeat of American society. It’s crackling smart and witty and will keep you guessing all the way to the end. Everyone who loves horror needs to watch this one.
#2 – MOTHER!
I’m not going to lie, this is the most controversial movie I’ve seen in a good long while. Is it horror? It is for me. The building tension and utter confusion had my heart racing for most of the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is simply amazing in her portrayal of a woman in love beset by people and events of Biblical proportions (there’s a hint for you). No movie has set my brain on fire more than Mother! – ever. Not to mention, there are a few scenes that left me breathless and wishing I’d averted my eyes. And that’s coming from an old, jaded horror hound. I can’t recommend this for everyone, but I feel in my gut it’s going to be the kind of movie people talk about and dissect for generations.
#1 – RAW
Yeah, I’m just as surprised that this French import has made the top of my list. Set in a veterinary school that looks like a post-apocalyptic academy run by MDMA-fueled lunatics, Raw was a punch to the gut. Again, we have a small yet killer cast (the Oscars never looking to the genre for best actors is just one of many reasons it’s a sham), off-kilter storyline and moments of incredible gross-outs that easily made it my movie to least forget in 2017. Subsequent viewings have only made it even better. Raw will be on my steady viewing rotation from here until I’m rotting and raw meat.
HAPPY DEATH DAY
Just like The Autopsy of Jane Doe from a couple of years ago, I didn’t see this one until recently, after I had compiled my list. Rather than revamp the entire list, I decided to give it an honorable mention. A self-aware horror take on Groundhog Day, this is witty and fun and guaranteed to make you jump a few times. Shit, even out cat hit the ceiling at one point. If you’re a fan of The Final Girls, you’ll love this.
What do you think of the list? How does it compare to your own? How many have you already seen?
But wait, there’s more! Still looking for more horror movies to catch up on? Take a gander at my Final Guys podcast where I present a slightly different list, along with my partners in crime. Happy bingeing!
Okay, you’ve answered the door a thousand times and have run out of candy. Time to shut out the lights, crack open a beer or wine (blood red, of course) and watch a scary movie, something to haunt your dreams. Sure, you could stick with the tried and true like Halloween or Night of the Living Dead. But why not explore new dark territory this year? Here are 5 movies guaranteed to give you shivers…
5. THE SENTINEL
3. THE DESCENT
2. THE ORPHANGE
- THE NIGHT STALKER
Is there any month finer than October? I don’t have to list all the reasons why October…ahem, Horrortober…kicks ass to my Hellions. I’m pretty sure we’re all in agreement here.
Now begins the quest to once again watch at least 1 horror movie a day, read only horror books, and attend only horror parties and functions. Naturally, I’m also in the midst of writing a new horror novel, so I literally cannot escape the genre I love during Horrortober.
Every year, I set aside books and movies just for Horrortober, a bit o’ curation for the season of dark terror. Typically, I read about 6 books or more (some of them novellas). This year, I’ve decided to tackle 2 BIG books and 1 graphic comic.
I prefer the uncut version Stephen King’s THE STAND, reveling in all 1,156 pages. I’ve come to realize that reading this book is a young man’s game. It’s literally too heavy for me to hold for any length of time. Looks like it’ll be a lap book this go around. I’m also looking forward to reading CRAB MONSTERS, TEENAGE CAVEMEN, AND CANDY STRIPE NURSES, a beautiful book crammed with glossy pages of Roger Corman’s oddball, incredible film career. Somewhere in between those two massive books, I hope to sneak in the Howling Commandos graphic comic. Any book with Man-Thing is a must have for me.
For your own TBR pile, click here to get a free copy of my ghost novella, THE GRAVEYARD SPEAKS. Nothing better on Horrortober than a haunted cemetery!
As for the movies I’ve set aside, here’s a few sitting on my queue…
THE DARK HALF
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
THE CRAZIES (GEORGE ROMERO’S ORIGINAL)
THE LOVED ONES
THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOO TRILOGY
HALLOWEEN (1, 3, 4 & 5)
And sooo many more. Last year, I watched 50 movies in Horrortober. I’m not sure I can top that, but dammit, I’m going to try!
As always, I’ll tweet the movies I watch with the hashtag, #Horrortober, along with my rating system of 1 through 9 tana leaves. The Mummy is always proud. I encourage you to do the same thing so we can all see what we’re watching, loving and hating.
I’ll also be at Chiller Theatre at the end of the month (milling around and having fun) along with several other spooky events.
So, what are your plans for Horrortober? Share your to-read and watch lists. There just may be some special surprises for those Hellions who want to get in on the fun.
If you’re a horror freak like myself, I’m sure you’ve heard of the all horror movie streaming service, Shudder. They say ‘It’s always midnight on Shudder’ and to me, that’s a good thing.
I’ve been on the fence for the past year whether or not to subscribe. I mean, I already have Netflix and Amazon Prime. How many more flicks could Shudder offer me?
Well, with all of the hype for the Shudder exclusive, PREVENGE, I finally took the plunge. Man, I’m kicking myself for not doing this sooner. First, I really dug Prevenge. Its dry wit and proper English pacing stands in stark contrast to the horrors that unfold as a pregnant woman goes on a murder spree…all at the behest of her very talkative fetus!
A Shudder subscription is only $5 a month. Why did I think it was so much more? I spent an hour going through their catalog, adding movie after movie to my Watch List. Here’s a sampling of what I found there and can’t wait to watch :
Demons, Demons 2, The Church, The House by the Cemetery, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Night Train to Terror, Sleep Tight, Shock Waves, The Stuff, Wake in Fright, Crystal Lake Memories.
There are a lot of brand new horror movies on there as well. I have to work my way through all of the older movies I haven’t seen in a long time before I do a deep dive on the new stuff.
So, if you watch a lot of horror movies, like I do, I’m going to give it a hearty recommendation. Not to mention, it costs less than a meal at McDonald’s. I’ll talk about at least one Shudder flick each week on my FINAL GUYS podcast to help you add to your own Watch List.
Are you or were you a Shudder subscriber? What do you think of the service? Severed thumb up or down?
It goes without saying that I get a little giddy whenever I come across a new Bigfoot movie. Which seems odd, since most of them are so terrible. If horror is the red headed stepchild of cinema, Bigfoot is the redheaded step-beast of the genre.
That being said, there has been an upswing in Squatch movies the past few years. In fact, one of my favorite flicks was Exists, the found footage Bigfoot thriller by Eduardo Sanchez.
Ever since I saw just the poster for HUNTING GROUNDS, I’ve been dying to see it. I even saved it on my Instagram account to remind myself to watch it as soon as it came out. Well, the time is nigh!
This latest foray into Squatch Horror is brought to us by Uncork’d Entertainment, the company that has released cool flicks like It Watches and After Death. Hunting Grounds centers around a father and son (played by Jason Vail and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) down on their luck, recovering from the loss of their wife/mother. Dad’s drinking has cost him his job and now their house. They have nowhere else to go but the family’s dilapidated cabin in the woods.
Little do they know, the cabin is smack in the middle of the infamous Ape Canyon. Squatch devotees like myself will be giddy over the reference. You see, back in 1924, a group of miners were attacked in their cabin by a band of highly pissed off Bigfoot who rained rocks and fists on the small structure for an entire night. In the world of Bigfoot stories, this is right in the top 5. Kudos to the filmmakers for doing some research! Also, once you know the true story, you have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen here.
The family dynamics are at times uncomfortable to watch, and that’s a good thing. Dad is a bit of an ass, a man lost in his grief. His teenage son absorbs his abuse because he knows there’s a good guy deep down inside. Things get even worse for the kid when his father’s absolute asshole of a friend shows up at the cabin to do some drinking. This friend, Sergio (David Saucedo), is possibly the biggest jerkoff I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. You want this schmuck to get it in the worst possible way.
The cast, though small, is filled with familiar faces in the horror scene. You’ll be like me, checking IMDB and going, “Oh yeah, that’s where I saw him!”
The father’s brother-in-law also comes to visit, and the foursome go out hunting. Let’s just say, things go downhill from there.
Look, I know Bigfoot movies aren’t going to be high art…yet. That’s what they used to say about comic book movies. What I want is to be entertained and to see some Squatches. Hunting Grounds gives us a glimpse of Bigfoot within the first few minutes. Score one in the win column. Too many of these movies wait for the reveal in the last couple of minutes.
Also score one for no CGI. The Bigfoot creatures are all practical effects, which were decent. I will say, they are huge. I would have liked a little articulation in their faces so they didn’t look so much like masks, but that’s quibbling. What I got was a trio of enormous Squatches wreaking havoc on the cabin and the puny humans inside.
That’s not to say that Bigfoot is the bad guy here. On the contrary, they’re more curious than anything else. It’s only when they’re provoked that they strike back, and in some pretty cool ways. There is some good gore in the final act, which was pleasant to see as well.
If you have lazy Saturday and you’re tired of watching the dreck on the SyFy channel, definitely fire Hunting Grounds up. Or have some friends over for a booze n’ Bigfoot night and have a ball.
Give a Squatch a watch!