Happy New Year, my hellions! I hope you all survived the holidays with your gray matter intact. With the start of the new year comes the obligatory list of horror movie badassery. The genre has been on a roll lately and I was hoping to close out the decade with a bang. Alas, that wasn’t so. I was genuinely worried that I wouldn’t find 13 good flix to put on my list. Thank Cthulu (and a case of the Christmas cruds) that I had some downtime to search desperately for any and all horror movies and my new Roku to help me watch them. So, let’s get on with it, shall we? And as always, I’ve provided trailers to get your motors humming.
#13 – SWEETHEART
This little number dropped on Netflix just in time to make the 2019 cut. It was The Creature From the Dessert Island and I dug the hell out of it. A girl washes up on a beautiful, remote island, only to find out there is a killer sea creature that comes ashore each night looking for fresh (or even dead) meat. Two gills up!
#12 – US
Yes, I know Jordan Peele is the second coming of John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling all rolled into one. Us is a slick flick with some great performances and real laugh out loud moments. But once I tugged on the story’s thread, the whole thing just fell apart for me. It gets on the list for its quality. Just don’t spend any time trying to figure out the logic of it all.
#11 – PIERCING
What a hella weird movie. Just what the doctor ordered on a cold and dark December night. A man decides he absolutely must kill a hooker and gets a hotel room ready for the dirty deed. Only the lady of the evening is nothing he was expecting. The city is comprised of models and you never get a sense of time and place. It’s a freaking fever dream that would give David Lynch or David Cronenberg a right stiffie. Mia Wasikowska is outstanding.
#10 – SATANIC PANIC
Pretty pizza delivery girl goes to the very wrong house and gets mixed up in a night of sacrifice at a suburban cult. All I can say is that this is a blast. Zippy, bloody, funny as hell, because that’s where these soccer moms and dads want to party. Rebecca Romjin as the cult leader is just killer bee. One of my favorite horror comedies, for sure.
#9 – ZOMBIELAND 2
I had zero expectations for this one, especially since it’s been 10 years and an Oscar win since the first. But damn was I wrong. What makes these movies is the chemistry between our 4 survivors: Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin. I’ll be the first to say the zombie genre should have its head cut off, but then this comes along and forces me to eat some crow (brains). Now I actually want a third helping!
#8 – HARPOON
Three old friends take a trip to the sea and end up murderlizing each other in my biggest surprise of the year. The budget here is small, but the writing and acting are large. It’s plain fun in the sun with a dash of backstabbing brutality and cannibalism??? You have to see it to believe it.
#7 – CRAWL
A full on b-grade monster movie that gets a wide theatrical release? Shit yeah! Director Alexandre Aja drops a father and daughter into the eye of the storm where they are trapped in their rapidly flooding house filled with and surrounded by hungry alligators. Way better than it should be, Crawl is a throwback flick that’s only missing Ray Miland or Doug McClure. A must see.
#6 – THE NIGHTINGALE
In all honesty, this is the best movie I saw all year. It’s technically not a horror movie, though some things happen here that step well beyond anything Jason Voorhees has ever done. A woman with nothing left to lose tracks down the British soldiers who waster her family in 1825 Tasmania. Not for the faint of heart, this will both depress the heck out of you and lift you up.
#5 – MIDSOMMER
The second cult movie on the list, Ari Aster has done it again with his follow up to Hereditary. This is one long, trippy movie with an ending that will leave you speechless. Aster’s artistry flows from the veins of Kubrick and can be thoroughly enjoyed with no sound at all. He’s definitely working out some issues about pain and loss through his movies. This was also the year of looong horror movies (I’m talking to you, It 2) and the director’s cut of Midsommer is over three hours long! Worth every minute.
#4 – TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID
This Mexican import grabbed me by the feels and kicked the ever-loving shit out of them. A band of orphaned children in a town run by a drug cartel are hounded by cartel killers. I haven’t had a movie affect me emotionally like this in a long time. It’s part fairy tale, part way-too-real and wholly unique and amazing.
#3 – VILLAINS
I’ll bet dollars to donuts most of you haven’t even heard of this one. I was lucky enough to catch it in the theater during it’s 3 day run. Starring Maika Monroe (It Follows) and Bill Skarsgard (Pennywise), this is instantly my favorite home invasion movie. A bumbling couple break into the home of 50s-looking homicidal maniacs. This is one I will own and watch every single year until I drop dead from too much horror.
#2 – READY OR NOT
Hands down, the most fun I had at the movies all year. Samara Weaving is cementing herself as the IT GIRL, knocking it out of the park in this satire about rich asswads who sell their souls for fortune and fame. I laughed so hard my jaw hurt. The kills are great and the ending is sheer perfection. Not one missed note. When I walked out of the theater, I said nothing was going to knock this from my number one spot. And then came…
#1 – DOCTOR SLEEP
I have no idea how Mike Flanagan pulled this one off. He had to make a movie that was a sequel to the movie, The Shining, as well as the book, and the follow up book, Doctor Sleep. This is the kind of stuff that needs to be studied in film school. It gives you all the nostalgia you have for The Overlook and adds a new chapter to the tale of Danny Torrance that is simply mind blowing. The movie itself is gorgeous to look at and the performances by Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson are spot on. This is a sweeping epic that you rarely see in horror and it’s a shame the opinions of boneheaded critics kept people from going to see it. I’m absolutely gobsmacked (love that word) by what Flanagan accomplished here and will be adding it to the steady rotation. I could write a book on all the things that make this great, but I’ll spare you all.
If you’re lucky enough to have a horror hound on your Christmas list this year, it can be fun as hell looking for the perfect gift. I mean, who else is going to go ga-ga over some gore-splattered gee-gaw?
We may, at first, seem easy to please, but with so many sub-genres and purveyors of horror themed gifts and collectibles, it can also be pretty daunting. For example, your sister-in-law might dig the paranormal. OK, normies dump that into the old horror chum bucket. That doesn’t mean she’ll appreciate torture porn like a Blu-ray of Hostel just because it was sitting there in the horror section. Hell, you may trigger the poor girl and then you have to find her a safe space to recover.
Horror is the one and only genre with millions, and I mean millions, of market and specialty-made items just begging for your bucks. It’s hard to navigate your way through the noise.
Have no fear, I have a list of one-stop shop ideas that will satisfy every single horror hop head on your list. So get your credit cards ready. You’re going to make someone very happy under the tree and you don’t even need to leave your seat.
I’ve been to more horror conventions than I can count and the one thing that unifies every black-shirted attendee is horror movies. When people peruse my books, half will inevitably ask, “Is this a movie?” With so may flicks out there, how do you choose the best one to buy? You don’t. Why not just get them a whole slew of movies? Give them a gift subscription to Shudder, the horror streaming service that also personally curates horror movie selections for its members. I can’t live without Shudder. Best of all, it’s inexpensive. You can get a year’s membership for just under $50.
FOR THE READERS
It would be too easy to say just buy all of MY books. Better yet, how about a subscription to what I consider the best horror magazine around, Rue Morgue? Within its glossy pages you’ll get new and old movie reviews, interviews, exposes on important horror moments, book and audio reviews, commentary from some of the best and most entertaining minds in the genre, and even monthly unique collectible ideas. If it’s horror, it’s in Rue Morgue, a mag that covers every aspect of the genre we love most.
CLOTHES AND APPAREL
Just like with movies, there’s an avalanche of horror apparel out there in web land. I always go to Fright Rags for quality products with some of the best original artwork out there. They have the most bitchin’ T-shirts around, focusing on specific movies like Halloween 3, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, Army of Darkness, Predator and so much more. Fright Rags also creates killer socks, pins and hats. Again, if you don’t know specifically what your horror-loving bestie wants, get them a gift card! They’ll quickly get addicted like me and have an entire wardrobe of Fright Rags shirts.
The POP! horror action figures have been a huge hit with the convention crowds for years now. I think every horror fan I know has at least one. My desk has a collection of the cute mini maniacs staring at me as I write this. I have Jason, Michael, Leatherface, Pinhead and the Creature from the Black Lagoon surrounding me. And that’s just a small portion of the little bastards lurking in my room. Pops will definitely put a smile on someone’s face, especially if you can get the one missing from their collection. Make someone’s holiday for under $20. You can’t beat that.
I think this may be my longest wait between new book releases. The Wraith has been hounding me lately, asking, “When’s the book coming out?” Well, not so much in words. More like threatening gestures with various sharp and blunt instruments.
Well Wraith old boy, the wait is over. SLASH has arrived.
If you’re a fan of 80’s slashers like I am, this one is written just for you, a gory love letter to unstoppable killers, victims making dumb ass decisions and an exploration of the final girl phenomenon. With Slash, I’ve created a new, bad ass motor scooter named The Wraith that I think might give Jason and Michael a run for their money. He’s big and bad and silent and pretty inventive when it comes to laying waste to anyone in his path. And man, does he have a wicked origin story.
Here’s a little about the book –
Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith. With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.
Side note. I named the abandoned resort The Hayden because as I was writing that section of the book, I overheard a story about Hayden Panettiere on the TV in the next room. Now you know how writer’s sausage is made.
SLASH was just listed as a novel to embrace the scary season by Kirkus. (see the list here)
And to get you all in a slasher state of mind, read my SLASHER PERSONALITY TEST over at Inkheist and see what kind of slasher would best chase you down and ruin your day. Are you more of a Leprechaun or a Jason? Lucky charms vs lucky machete.
Then hop on over to my Video Visions column at Cemetery Dance Online and check out my latest on THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE where I drill deep into uncharted slasher territory. If you haven’t seen this one yet, rush over to Amazon and feast your eyeballs.
Most of all, The Wraith and I would love you to read SLASH. It’s available in ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook. We need to make this a bestseller, or else The Wraith is going to take it out on me! Please, help!
As my Scottish friend used to say, I’m quite chuffed to announce that I have a story in the new ghost anthology, MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD, on sale starting today. Better yet, my tale features the return of Jessica Backman and her beau, Eddie Home! Even better, the star of the anthology is the one and only Robert McCammon. Whew!
Midnight. Some call it the witching hour. Others call it the devil’s hour. Here in the graveyard, midnight is a very special time. It is a time when ghostly spirits are at their strongest, when the veil between our world and theirs is at its thinnest. Legend has it, that while most of the world is asleep, the lack of prayers allow the spirits to communicate under the cover of darkness, among the headstones, their whispers rustling in the leaves of the old oak trees. But if you’re here in the graveyard, you can tell yourself it’s just the wind, that the moonlight is playing tricks on your eyes, that it’s only the swirling mist you see. But when you hear the graveyard gate clang shut, the dead have something to say. Here are their stories…
Can’t think of a better time of year to come get your ghost on! So bop on over to Amazon and grab your copy today so you can read it under the covers by jack-o-lantern light.
It’s finally here! Seems like it’s been a year since the last Horrortober. 😉 Welcome to 31 days of Halloween.
If you’re like me and my Monster Men buddy, Jack, this is the month where you binge on scary movies. I personally shoot for at least one movie a day. One of the fun tools I use to find horror movies is the 31 Days of Terror book/game. Volume 3 just dropped and Jack and I already created a watch list. Check out the new episode below.
The game always introduces us to movies we’d forgotten or never heard of. Try it for yourself and see, or you can pick some movies from the list that we rolled. Here it is in all its gory glory.
10/1 – Interview with the Vampire 1994
10/2 – The Hole 2001
10/3 – The First Purge 2018
10/4 – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 2018
10/5 – Session 9 2001
10/6 – Predator 2 1990
10/7 – The Sixth Sense – 1999
10/8 – Dracula – 1979
10/9 – Ginger Snaps Unleashed 2004
10/10 – Re-Animator 1985
10/11 – Saturday the 14th 1981
10/12 – Willard 2003
10/13 – The Willies 2003
10/14 – Psycho III 1986
10/15 – Knock Knock 2015
10/16 – Krampus 2015
10/17 – Cabin Fever 2002
10/18 – Attack of the Puppet People 1956
10/19 – Little Shop of Horrors 1986
10/20 – Detention 2011
10/21 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984
10/22 – Prometheus 2012
10/23 – Death Becomes Her 1992
10/24 – House of Wax 2005
10/25 – An American Werewolf in London
10/26 – The Blair Witch Project 1999
10/27 – Dawn of the Dead 2004
10/28 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
10/29 – In the Mouth of Madness
10/30 – Misery 1990
10/31 – Dead Alive 1992
What are some of the essentials for your watch list? I know for me, I always pop in Halloween, The Funhouse, The Haunting, House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Motel Hell and a slew of others.
That’s right Hellions. We’re less than 2 months away until the October 20th release of my latest from Flame Tree Press, SLASH. It’s my homage to the horror sub-genre that ruined me in all the best ways. I’m greasing up the promotion wheels with my biggest blog tour to date. You’re about to be inundated by all things slasher. You can pre-order Slash in hardcover and trade paperback now, with ebook and audio to come soon. Hope you’re ready for it. How do ya like the cover?
As part of the season of the slasher, I’m dedicating my Video Visions column over at Cemetery Dance online to only slasher movies. You can read the first column by clicking here. My next will be devoted to my personal favorite, The Slumber Party Massacre.
I’m also in the midst of working with the top horror reviewers to spread the word, writing articles, diving into interviews and lining up giveaways. It’s going to be a wickedly fun time. So grab your sleeping bag, a cold sixer, some condoms and maybe a little wacky weed, and meet me down by the lake. I promise it’ll be a killer Horrortober this year. Wait, is that The Wraith coming up behind you?
Ah, the dog days of summer are here. Time to beat the heat, or bask in it, and head to beaches and pools and sunny climes.
But us horror hounds know, even an innocent getaway can turn deadly in a flash (or perhaps, a slash?). For those of you loading your family into planes trains and automobiles between now and Labor Day weekend, here are 10 scary flicks you can show the kiddies to make your vacation a little more interesting. Click the movie poster to each to view the trailer. Might wanna bar that flimsy hotel door with a chair and have a weapon on hand….
10. MOUNTAIN TOP MOTEL MASSACRE
I haven’t watched this since renting it on VHS back in the 80s, but how could I not include it on the list? If you have motel or hotel in the title, you win!
Now, you wouldn’t catch me ever staying in hostel. Not because I’m worried about being kidnapped and killed. More like I don’t want to be trapped in a tiny room smelling stranger’s farts all night. Howver, if you’re traveling through Europe on the cheap, beware!
Not my favorite King movie adaptation (or the only one on this list), but 1408 is a wild ride. I also love that John Cusack is a writer who pens true haunting books. Could be a glimpse of my future.
I think of this one every time I pass by a seedy roadside motel. A real nail biter that stars the lovely Kate Beckinsale. Frank Whaley as the motel front desk asshole is so icky, I can never look at him the same.
6. PUPPET MASTER : THE LITTLEST REICH
The latest addition to this long running franchise is by far the best. When a bunch of people go to a convention, the puppets go absolutely wild. If you haven’t seen this yet, do so now and thank me later (with beer).
5. THE DEVIL’S REJECTS
Rob Zombie’s best (and I’m looking forward to the sequel), this is the nastiest motel you will ever see. Raw, foul and unwavering. This does make you think, WTF is wrong with RZ? His posse is in full effect here, from Ken Foree to Sid Haig and of course, Sherry Moon.
I can’t make this list without the godfather of motel horror. This is the slasher that started it all. A brilliant film that makes up in mystery and tension what it lacks in blood and body count. And that music! Go get ’em, Norman!
3. THE INNKEEPERS
I adore this movie. An old Massachusetts inn is about to close for good, and the last two workers on shift are out to prove the ghosts in its walls are real. And what an ending. Just like Psycho, it’s also blessed with a magnificent score.
2. MOTEL HELL
We all know it takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters. One of the best cannibal movies ever made (next to Texas Chainsaw Massacre), you’ll laugh as much as you’re cringe. Sausage anyone?
- THE SHINING
Many moons ago, Stephen King went on a little vacation, staying at an empty, sprawling hotel in Colorado. It spawned the greatest ghost story ever told. The Shining may not be an exact retelling of his book, but that doesn’t dull the shine of Kubrick’s masterpiece. Who wants to walk the maze with me? The top 3 movies all share one thing – amazing music that still sends shivers down my spine.