Spooky Podcasts

The other night I stayed behind at work to do some overtime. I was seeing a movie with Glynn at 8.30 anyway, so it made sense just to stay at work until I could go and meet him, and get paid for the privilege.

Well, throughout the afternoon we’d been talking (my team mates and I) about the best ghost stories we’ve ever heard. Heather told a story about a gypsy stalking a woman via google maps and I nearly shit my pants. By the time they left me alone for the day, my skin was crawling so I thought I’d treat myself while I worked the remainder of the shift.

I put on the Evolution of Horror podcast and skipped to the Slender Man episode. SM is one of my favourite folk tales and I often fall down a rabbit hole reading stories about him on Creepypasta, so it was a no brainer. As the episode unfolded I learned more about a web series called Marble Hornets that tells the story of a couple of protagonists being stalked by a Slender-like figure.

My friend Matt has recently been watching it and trying to get me in on it. As it started to get darker and darker in the office, with all the lights around my pod automatically going off , I started to freak myself the fuck out. Every small noise became the footsteps of Slender Man walking towards me. Every slight chill was his breath on the back of my neck.

God, I love that feeling.

So to my favourite creepy podcasts for those times you just need to feel scared. In no particular order, a couple of fitting little listens to enjoy in the lead up to Halloween.

Evolution of Horror

Presenter Mike examines the way horror films have changed and evolved over the last hundred years – with a little help from his guests. I’m new to this podcast but I bloody love it. This week I’ve been working my way steadily through the folk horror episodes but there are also ghosts and slasher movies in the back catalog to look forward to. Rumour has it zombie movies are next. Basically this is a must-listen for any horror fan which will give you a new appreciation for the films you already love and inspire you to get on to the ones you haven’t.

Best episodes to far: Folk Pt. 11: Kill List (2011), Sightseers (2012) & A Field in England (2013), Folk Pt. 13: Slender Man (2018) & Viral Folk Horror

You can find Evolution of Horror on any podcast app, just type in the name and GO.

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The Last Podcast on the Left

This one is heavy on the jokes and at times that can take you out of the episode. The rapport of the three presenters (Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski) is fun but can also be jarring for that reason. However, they do examine truly interesting subject matter, from fairies to the suicide of Kurt Cobain, to the ongoing feud and subsequent deaths of Biggie & Tupac. Pretty much everything you can think of has been covered and if it hasn’t, you can be confident it will probably crop up at some point.

Best episodes so far: Episodes 279 & 280: The Enfield Poltergeist (fucking TERRIFYING)

Sword & Scale

This is the best true crime podcast I’ve heard so far with stories that go in deep on horrible crimes committed by ‘ordinary’ people. The tag line “The worst monsters are real” has never rung truer.

Best episodes so far: All of them

What are you listening to?

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Horror & Anxiety

There have been loads of studies about how watching horror movies can actually sooth anxiety sufferers. I had never really thought about putting the two things together but it actually makes perfect sense – it also explains a lot. To me, about me.

I’ve always loved horror. When I was 18 I got my own TV in my bedroom. It was like a gateway to a new world and I fell in love with the movies right there and then. I found horror movies for the first time played late at night and I would stay up way past bedtime getting to know the big boys. Jason, Michael and pals. But I also learned about different sub-genres of horror, how they don’t all have to follow the same formula.

Now I rinse as many horror movies as I can, all the time. I just love them. Obviously there are great horror movies and there are terrible ones, and I generally feel as though there’s a place for most of them. Even the terrible teen ones that play their hand way too soon – I just need to be involved. Looking at you, True or Dare.

My favourites tend to be the psychological ones that get under the skin and fuck with your mind. I loved Hereditary this year because it took me to the darkest place imaginable. It gave me something that’s been done before but in such a different way. It shocked me, gave me feels and nightmares at the same time – and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

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Not your average feel good movie

I like smaller “anti” horrors that offer a slow burn with a massive pay off at the end the best. I like the horrors that feel real. They make me forget my own anxieties but could also totally happen in real life. It’s almost as if watching something like Hush, a home invasion movie about a deaf protagonist terrified in her own home is something that could so easily happen. While I myself am not deaf, I can put myself in her position. In a twisted way it makes me face up to what I might do in the same situation.

Anxiety for me is about questioning every little detail of my life, living with a constant paranoid fear that I’ve done something wrong and everybody hates me. But it’s also about fearing the very worst case scenario, for instance that my love ones will go out one day and never come back. These are the things I cannot control, the things that could happen but are unlikely. When I see a horror film it either makes me forget my own woes and focus all my feelings on the main character – or makes me stare at my own mortality face on – like I’m the final girl and the worst has already happened, so here I am: ready to fight.

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This is why you always sit with your back to the wall

I found a forum about this very topic on Reddit and user coffeeallthetime said it better than I can:

My rationale: Anxiety is your body being ready for an immediate threat that doesn’t (currently) exist, like a fight or flight response. Watching or reading horror gives a face to this “threat” and lets your mind live out the scenario, giving you a catharsis of sorts, and relieving the anxiety. Kind of like how listening to the song you have stuck in your head all the way through is supposed to help it get unstuck in your head. At least that’s how I think of it.

It’s hard to explain I guess just what I get out of these movies. They excite me, they make me tap in to my dark side, my fascination with the human psyche and how frightening human nature can be. I like the adrenaline shot I get what Laurie Strode fights off her brother – and it makes me feel like I could fight too. Let’s face it, in reality I’m more likely to be the wuss hiding under the bed but you just never know.

So to make myself feel better, I like to forget myself with horror and gore, final girls and ghosts. If it’s horrible, I want in please.

What about you?

You Can’t Handle the Tooth

Ugh, you know what’s almost as scary as ghost sharks, home invasion and getting a paper cut between the fingers? Dentists. They’re terrifying in every way and what’s worse is that we need them in order to… have teeth.

I’ve recently had to bite the bullet and find a new dentist. Turns out I need a root canal, which I’ve had before and to be honest, can handle if I have to. It’s just that initial dread of having to visit the man in the white coat who’s just been waiting about to personally hurt me – both physically and financially.

My last dentist was fine (blunt AF but fine) but during our last appointment I had a panic attack in his chair and I just couldn’t bring myself to go back to the scene of the crime. He was sweet enough and it wasn’t his fault but I just suddenly got so overwhelmed that my body lost control.

I thought I was fine but as soon as my chin started to tremble, my body started to shake and tears started to run – I knew it was game over. It’s that foam stuff they fill your mouth with in order to take a mold of your teeth. The worst invention of all time.

My new dentist, however is doing little to keep the fear going. He’s lovely, reassuring and has a little tattoo of a tooth on his leg. How can I be scared of that? Thanks to him my teeth are looking better than ever and even though I have to have the dreaded RC on November 5th (remember, remember), I feel hopeful for the future of my smile for the first time in years.

I kind of need to be a little scared of the dentist though, it seem more natural. We can’t become friends. That would be like accidentally becoming BFFs with Jason Voorhees, it would upset the natural order of the universe. Some things are just meant to make you feel icky.

What is your ‘every day’ fear?

Final Girl Friday: Sara, Creep 2

Desiree Akhavan is a force to be reckoned with and has been super impressive in front of and behind the camera with Appropriate Behaviour (which she wrote, directed AND starred in), Girls and The Miseducation of Cameron Post to name but a few. So imagine my delight when she also appeared in the much-awaited sequel to one of my favorite movies, the sleeper hit Creep.

And now she’s the star of this week’s FGF!

*Spoilers – beware!*

The Girl

Sara, Creep 2 (2017)

The Situation

Sara is a videographer and student with a sideline YouTube channel called Encounters, in which she meets up with strangers who leave bizarre ads on Craiglist. Her numbers aren’t setting the world alight and she’s about to call it a day when she stumbles across an ad that really sparks her curiosity.

Aaron (Mark Duplass) is offering $1,000 to a filmmaker willing to document him for an entire day, as long as they don’t scare easily. Figuring she can go out with a bang following a brilliant finale, Sara digs in. She might live to regret her decision though, particularly when Aaron reveals he’s a serial killer.

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The Final Girl

Sara is an interesting character. She’s self-motivated and very much doing all of this for the sake of her passion project. She’s also not afraid to use her feminine wiles to get what she wants, including getting in the hot tub with Aaron when he loses interest in their join venture and wants to kick her out. At one point Aaron also suggests they get the issue of wondering what the other looks like naked out of the way by… getting naked.

Sara outwardly is unflappable, though we realise quickly she’s giving herself pep talks in the loo. And also, for the most part she doesn’t believe what Aaron is telling her.
When it clicks, and she realises she might be in danger after all, she has the cunning to outsmart Aaron – and that’s the main quality required in any good final girl.

Sara was the perfect foil for Aaron, a serial killer just turning 40 and losing his desire to murder anymore. When she arrives, she mixes things up and not only does she ignite a new energy in Aaron, she also keeps the second film in this soon-to-be trilogy fresh and exciting. Where Creep had the real Aaron (Patrick Brice) play alongside Josef (who changes his name to Aaron for Creep 2, keep up), Sara bounces off Aaron (Josef) in a whole new way. And that ending!

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Final Girl Rating

4/5. I would watch the shit out of “Encounters”.

3 Witchy Horrors

None of these are really horror movies and one of them is pretty much a kids movie – but you can always argue that they contain horror themes and that’s enough for me.

I bet you all thought I’d choose Hocus Pocus for this list, didn’t you? I totally nearly did but young Michelle Pfeiffer pipped it to the post. I’ve no regrets.

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Relatable AF

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Men are such cocksuckers aren’t they? You don’t have to answer that. It’s true. They’re scared. Their dicks get limp when confronted by a woman of obvious power and what do they do about it? Call them witches, burn them, torture them, until every woman is afraid. Afraid of herself… afraid of men… and all for what? Fear of losing their hard-on. ~ Daryl Van Horne

What do you get when you put three of the hottest women of all time together, and then add Jack Nicholson? You get this charming film about a trio of witches who discover their hidden powers (and sexuality) when the devil comes to town.

There’s just something so delicious about The Witches of Eastwick. I feel as though it really captures a moment in time, the zeitgeist of the eighties. By casting the hottest actresses onscreen at that time, it’s a snap shot of a bygone era of film and I couldn’t love it more. It’s witty, grotesque and it also has a lot to say about grabbing life by the balls, even if the balls are attached to a very bad man indeed. Or indeed are a metaphor for something so much more fulfilling.

I can’t choose my favourite of the three, they’re all so gorgeous in their own ways; Suki (Pfeiffer) is the earth mother, Alex (Cher), the artistic hippy and Jane (Sarandon), the secretly sexual sex kitten music teacher. But together they’re a force to be reckoned with and what’s more satisfying than that?

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Resting Witch Faces

The Craft (1996)

We are the weirdos, mister. ~ Nancy

This is such a bitchy film and I was obsessed with it when it was first released, not least because I was ‘of an age’ (or maybe just a little bit older) that it all made sense. Especially the outcast aspect of the movie which fuels the narrative.

Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True) are three ordinary girls who aren’t particularly successful or significant in the high-school hierarchy. When Sarah (Robin Tunney) comes to town, she seems to be the perfect fourth pillar of the group. A group that needs things a certain way in order to make things happen. Magic things.

Well, it’s all a lesson in being careful what you wish for. After all, with power comes a fuck ton of responsibility and teenage girls aren’t always the most reliable, especially when they can make their bully’s hair fall out with a simple spell.

As things begin to spiral out of control and our friends begin to change (not for the better), one of them has to the tow the line before everything is lost forever. Can she? Also: Oh hi, Skeet Ulrich*swoon*

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The girls’ Bake Off showstopper was going well

Practical Magic (1998)

There’s a little witch in all of us. ~ Aunt Jet Owens

I guess you could say this is a Vintage edition of witch movies since none of them are from this millennium. *Shrug* – I love what I love and that’s that.

Practical Magic is adorable, hopeful and has a banging 90’s soundtrack – so as far as I’m concerned it’s up there with the best of them. Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman) are sisters who come from a long line of witches. Including Aunt Frances (Stockard Channing) and Aunt Jet (Dianne Wiest).

They’re very different people. Sally is a homebody while Gillian is a free spirit with a tendency to disappear for long stretches, usually with strange, sexy men in tow. When Sally loses the love of her life in a tragic accident, she is beside herself with grief and Gillian comes home to be with her and her children, in the house they all share with the Aunts.

Little does Sally know there’s an ulterior motive and the sisters bite off almost more than they can chew when they re-animate Gillian’s latest lover – the abusive and accidentally dead Jimmy (Goran Visnjic) – using old school magique. Shame that neither got the memo that what is dead should probably stay dead, eh? Bit of a pisser too that the cop (Aidan Quinn) who turns up to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy, also happens to be connected to a very specific spell cast by Sally…

God I adore this movie. Both leads are dreamy as fuck and the Stevie Nicks heavy soundtrack will always have a place on my (outdated) iPod shuffle. *Sigh*

So yes, I could of chosen The Witch, The Blair Witch Project, The Lords of Salem – even The Love Witch for this list – and they are all fine movies – but these are the ones I want to pay tribute to today. Sue me.

What are your favourites?

Scream Queen Girl Gang (Modern Edition)

These are the actresses I’d most like to have a pint and share eyeliner with because they seem cool. And you know, if we ever happened to get into any trouble, then I’d be confident in their ability to help me fight to the death – which is a pretty good quality to pick in a friend. Just saying.

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Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

Katharine Isabelle

Horror CV: Ginger Snaps, Carrie (TV Movie), Freddy vs. Jason, American Mary, Torment, Hannibal (TV Series)

I adore Miss Isabelle, not least because she’s the lead in a couple of my favourites (Ginger Snaps, American Mary). She’s Canadian (like me) and she’s lovely – and I just think we’d get along.

According to IMDB there was friction on set between her and the director of Freddy Vs. Jason because she refuses to do nudity – and I like that she’s not afraid to stick to her guns. You do you, boo. I just wish she was in way more – my favourite modern-day Scream Queen 4 lyfe.

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Don’t Breathe (2016)

Jane Levy

Horror CV: Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe, Castle Rock (TV Series)

Jane Levy first popped up in Suburgatory and was the best thing in it. Then the remake of Evil Dead came along and she was brilliant. Genuinely. The film itself took fresh liberties with the story which kept it modern and set it apart from the originals (which are amazing) – plus she was the final girl!

Jane herself has gone on to star in Don’t Breathe, a film I wish I liked more and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which is a GREAT movie that also stars one of the other members of this gang (see below). They incidentally also star together in Stephen King inspired TV series, Castle Rock.

I don’t know, I just think she’s cool and hopefully as sarcastic as some of the characters she’s played. Sarcastic is good.

Brittany Snow stars in Screen Gems' thriller PROM NIGHT.
Prom Night (2008)

Brittany Snow

Horror CV: Prom Night, Would You Rather

I feel sometimes like the world needs a doe eyed Brittany to keep things on an even keel – and without Brittany Murphy (RIP), the crown fell naturally to my girl. This Brittany has done the rounds as a teen icon but she’s so much more than that. She’s so convincing in Would You Rather than I often think about that film and how I’d fare in the same situation. She can also tow the line between popcorn movies (the Pitch Perfect trilogy) and lesser appreciated indies (Bushwick).

Brittany has been quite open about her struggle with depression and self-harm in the past and in 2010 she started the Love is Louder movement to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone – which is awesome.

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Melanie Lynskey

Horror CV: Rose Red (TV Mini-Series), XX (segment “The Birthday Party”), Castle Rock (TV Series)

I love Mel, the Indie Sweetheart. Jill and I are such fans we enjoyed a Melanie Lynskey month on the Blog Collab in 2017 – spurred on by the aforementioned I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. We both heavily related to her seriously pissed off character Ruth who is driven to drastic action when she’s let down by the feds following a burglary.

Imagine my delight then when she popped up as Mary in the St. Vincent directed segment of XXX called Birthday Cake. Now she’s rocking her part in Castle Rock alongside Jane Levy – and even though I’ve been quite slow on the uptake, I’m enjoying her very much in it.

Melanie is my age so she’d get my pop culture references and she looks like a laugh so I’m confident we’d be the best of all BFFs.

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American Horror Story: Cult (2017)

Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson would be our mate from out of town who pops up occasionally to hang out. I don’t need to go into why she’s great as I’ve been banging on a lot about American Horror Story lately, she just is.

And that, my friends is my Scream Queen Girl Gang.

Who would you choose?

Horror F(r)iends

I might not have made it clear enough on this blog: I live for the movies. All movies really but mainly horror. Good horror, bad horror, cheap horror – most of it has a place in this old heart of mine. My absolute favourites of all time include Candyman and Hellraiser – with a whole lot of variety in between – and what better month than this to revisit the classics and discover new and exciting horror gems?

This post isn’t strictly about those movies though (we’ll do a 31 Horrors recap at the end of the month), it’s about the like-minded friends who love the same movies I do (specifically horror). People like this, the ones who really really get you are like gold dust I swear and this post is for them.

Of course anyone who reads this blog will be familiar with my blog wife Jillian already. We originally bonded over our love of odd movies and are now three years deep into our Great Blog Collab. Our specialty, and favourite month just happens to be Halloween so you could say we’re on the same page when it comes to horror films (and shark movies but they get their own month). In fact, Ginger Snaps is the first film we ever reviewed together, FACT FANS. We also appreciate women on murderous rampages, Film Noir and women who look good smoking.

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Katharine Isabelle, werewolves AND smoking? The holy horror trinity (read my review here)

Jill and I have had some real hits and misses over the years but most times seem to more or less agree on the ratings. Sometimes the films we pick are too good and that can be a problem when our original MO is to snark the hell out of the things we watch – but you can’t win them all. I’m so thankful for Jill, one of the best things to come out of blogging for me – a gorgeous friend online and IRL now too.

James, my podcast partner also deserves a shout out for sitting through some of the dreck I’ve made him watch over the years in the name of content. Cat Sick Blues, anyone? (I do NOT recommend). We’ve also explored a lot of anti-horror together. To name but a few: Felt, The Sacrament, Magic Magic, Spring and Digging Up the Marrow – all of which could be categorised outside the genre comfortably but are definitely shining examples of horror done well.

Honestly, the podcast has brought me so much joy and being able to just waffle on about films until the cows come home is the best thing ever. There’s a limit to how much people want to talk to me about these things so to find a like-minded partner is priceless, honestly. I hope we never stop. Even if James doesn’t rate The Exorcist III.

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Felt (2014)

And last but by no means least my lovely friend Matt who unwittingly inspired today’s post. Matt is the most knowledgeable horror fiend I know and even though we’ve only known each other for a year, I feel like he’s my horror twin. This morning we compared notes via messenger on what we’ve watched this month already and those are the conversations I live for.

We’re even planning a really cool project off the back of our interests and it is going to be so ace I can’t even tell you. I’ll share more when we’ve actually got off our bottoms and made solid plans. This week we’re just treading water until Halloween (2018) is released.

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Hai bae ❤

I can’t not shout out my husband as well, who puts up with all my shit and still seems to like me. Who hasn’t wavered (yet) when I’ve forced him to get involved in my 31 Horrors challenge. Who suggested The Company of Wolves for tonight’s viewing – and who’s just super-cute most of the time. How lucky am I?

So today I am feeling extra blessed to have these people in my life so we can share our common interests like the beasts that we are.

Thanks for being as horrible as I am deep down 🎃👻🔪