I Wish I Knew How To Quit Boo – A Spooky Reading List

I’m finding it hard to hang up my Halloween hat and move on this year. It’s been such an awesome month. November will be just as cool – it’s birthday month! – but I don’t want to turn my back on spooky things just yet.

Continue reading “I Wish I Knew How To Quit Boo – A Spooky Reading List”

Blogtober 2018 – Round Up

Not my finest Blogtober but it wasn’t a complete disaster by any stretch. I managed 28/31 posts and that’s okay with me. I had two Halloween parties and lots of other October engagements, what’s a gal to do?

I do really love writing a post every day though, it really inspires me to think outside the box when it comes to content and the Halloween theme is delightful. I’m already psyched for next year.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Late Night Lady DJ
  2. Autumn Projects
  3. Veronica (Film) Review
  4. America Horror Story Rewatch
  5. Autumn Book Recommendation: The Little Stranger
  6. Autumn Bucket List
  7. 3 Contemporary Horrors
  8. CopenYAYgen
  9. The Scariest Tale of All
  10. Patchwork (Film) Review 
  11. American Horror Story Rewatch: Part 2
  12. Final Girl Friday: Helen Lyle, Candyman (1992)
  13. Autumn TV Recommendation: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell
  14. Horror F(r)iends
  15. The Monday Feeling
  16. Scream Queen Girl Gang (Modern Edition)
  17. Ouija: Origin of Evil (Film) Review
  18. 3 Witchy Horrors
  19. Final Girl Friday: Sara, Creep 2
  20. Autumn TV Recommendation: Haunted
  21. Autumn TV Recommendation: The Haunting of Hill House
  22. Fall Anthems
  23. You Can’t Handle the Tooth
  24. Horror & Anxiety
  25. Spooky Podcasts
  26. Final Girl Friday: Laurie Strode, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II
  27. Autumn TV Recommendation: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  28. The Most Assassinated Woman in the World (Film) Review

It’s been real. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Until next time!

Autumn TV Recommendation: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

I’m four episodes into this show and I’m feeling a lot of things. It’s not perfect by any means. Like Riverdale, it’s taken a story we know and love, and given it a dark modern twist. I guess it’s aimed at a YA audience and that might be why I don’t love it as much as I want to. Yet, anyway.

That said I’ve only dipped my foot in so far and there are a lot of things I do like, so I’m going to keep on going. The upside is that it’s come out at just the right time of year – and it’s a show my husband will actually willingly watch with me.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends. Based on the Archie comic.

Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) isn’t like most girls. She’s half-witch, half-mortal for a start and as her 16th birthday approaches, she must make a decision that none of us have ever had to make: sign herself over the the Dark Lord himself in exchange for unimaginable power or… not.

Meanwhile, there’s the issue of her boyfriend Harvey, and friends Susie and Rosalind (Lachlan Watson and Jaz Sinclair) to consider. How’s she supposed to leave them all behind to start a new life at witch school? Especially when Susie’s being horribly bullied.

Can she conceivably live a normal mortal life or will her magical side win out? These are the things Sabrina is working through with a little help from her aunts and her cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo). I think he’s her cousin.

I adore Zelda and Hilda. Ambrose too is delicious and a welcome addition to the Spellman household. Salem, Sabrina’s familiar so far is mute which I find disappointing but I guess it’s to be expected in this contemporary retelling. Still, it’s disappointing as he always used to get the best lines in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

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I’m also quite enamored with Mary Wardell (Michelle Gomez), Sabrina’s teacher who is currently possessed by a demon who feasts on male flesh (yay). Although there is sure to be more drama afoot, at the moment she is an ally of the girls’ at school, advocating their women’s group and now, their banned books club.

And finally, the Weird Sisters, the mean girls who rule witch school. They’re so gloriously bitchy and wonderful. I expect big things from them. So yes, there is a lot to love so far and with so many TV shows, it’s more about the supporting characters than the main ones. I’m not quite sold on Sabrina the protagonist yet but there is time.

I’d like more magic, more bitchiness and less romancing Harvey. I want less school unless it’s about the feminist women’s club and I want more Madam Satan.

This show is proving to be very inter-sectional and feminist, I can only hope that continues. There have been some great lines while the whole concept of Sabrina not handing over her freedom to the devil, even if he can give her all the power and magic in the world is an interesting one. It’s bold to say no to the big man himself, and Sabrina is ruffling feathers left and right.

As she says herself, she wants freedom AND power. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that. I, for the record, would grab power and sign over my name in a heartbeat.

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What are you watching?

Final Girl Friday: Laurie Strode, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II

Lots of horror fans refuse to acknowledge Rob Zombie‘s place in Halloween history. Lots of people are torn about the man himself and honestly, I really get it. Personally, I’m a fan and have loved most of his movies. While Halloween & Halloween II don’t really work the way John Carpenter‘s original did*, they do at least try to explore the story from a fresh angle and I appreciate that.

This week I thought I’d pay tribute to the second most famous Laurie Strode in cinematic history, played by Scout Taylor-Compton, an actress with a couple of cool roles under her belt.

*Spoilers – beware!*

The Girl

Laurie, Halloween (2007), Halloween II (2009)

The Situation

This one probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. The character of Laurie Strode is probably one of, if not THE most famous final girl of all time. But just in case, Laurie is the adopted daughter of The Strodes. She is also the baby sister of serial killer Michael Myers who killed their elder sister Judith when he was six years old.

In this version, we meet a young Michael Myers who on the night he kills his sister, also kills her boyfriend and his mum’s horrible boyfriend. This isn’t really in keeping with the original story but never mind. He’s also ten when he commits these atrocities. Anyway, Laurie is really Angel Myers but she doesn’t know it (yet). |Her secret history is just dying to creep out and slap her around the face, thus changing her life forever. How will she handle it?

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In less stabby times

The Final Girl

This Laurie is cool because she takes on all the characteristics of the original character but she also has to deal with the aftermath of the loss of her adoptive parents, after Michael slaughters them. She’s super young and has dealt with so much, having lost most of her friends, the only parents she’s ever known and now, some of her marbles.

Halloween does what is says on the tin (with a little embellishment here and there, including more focus on Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie), mother of Michael), but Halloween II examines Laurie’s PTSD in more detail. Following the events of that first night, Laurie now lives with Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) and his daughter Annie, who is Laurie’s BFF. The two girls have barely made it out alive but here they are and their relationship is shaky at best. Laurie finds it hard to look at her friend’s badly scarred face without recounting that night and that is driving a wedge between them.

Laurie seeks out faster friends, alcohol and drugs like any normal teen would. But she’s a fighter still and although she’s haunted by the truth once it’s outed, she comes out kicking. Michael’s MO is to find Angel and rejoin his mother in the afterlife, a fucked-up family for all eternity. But you didn’t think it would be that easy did you, Mikey?

The ending of HII suggests that Laurie has completely lost it (and perhaps compelled to take on Michael’s role) as she ends up in an institution but I feel as though there is more to her story. I don’t think of her as the same girl played by Jamie Lee. She’s a contemporary anti-victim and a pretty good FG too. A terrible screamer though.

Final Girl Rating

3/5. I like everything but the scream. 

*For the record I think these movies are too gory (I know, right?) and they take away the things that made the first so iconic. We’re not supposed to know anything about MM, that’s the point. He’s evil personified and we don’t really know what’s going on in his head. But they are kind of fun too.

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?

Autumn TV Recommendation: The Haunting of Hill House

It’s no secret that this girl (me) loves TV. Sue me. I particularly love good television to enjoy during the darker evenings and luckily for me, Netflix has delivered another interesting prospect in the shape of this Gothic beauty.

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

I love this show so much. It’s genuinely one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been frantically messaging my friend Matt throughout to compare notes – I think that’s made me love it even more.

While it focuses on the Crain family and their experiences at Hill House, it flits between past and present day, giving us an insight into the effect everything has had on its troubled members. Dad Hugh has a deeply damaged relationship with his children Nell, Shirley, Luke, Theodora and Steve. Their sense of distrust and anger toward him stems from the dramatic night they all fled the house in the middle of the night. The same night they lost their beloved mother Olivia.

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Each has their own demon and as we find out, is haunted by different things. Nell (Victoria Pedretti) has grown up haunted by the continuous appearance of the bent neck lady. Her twin brother Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) sees a tall man in a bowler hat and has a history of substance abuse brought on no doubt by his experiences.

Theodora, Shirley and Steve each have their own cross to bear too. Eldest brother Steve (Michiel Huisman) has cashed in on their childhood by writing a book about Hill House and enjoyed medium success as a writer. This has set him apart from his siblings, particularly Shirley who refuses to take his ‘blood money’ and resents him exploiting the others’ experiences.

As the show progresses we get all the answers we need about what precisely happened at Hill House and to Olivia Crain (Carla Gugino), who we visit in flashbacks and also see from time to time in present day.

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I’m not going to spend any more time on the narrative because I want everyone to watch this and love it as much as I do. It’s tinged with so much sadness and grief but it’s beautifully paced, genuinely frightening in places and perhaps most importantly, gives us well-rounded, flawed characters to fall in love with.

While the whole concept of the haunted house is not a new one, the way this series looks at PTSD, addiction and fractious familial relationships makes it feel really rich and satisfying. As the last episode wrapped up, I cried like a baby. It’s so beautiful with an amazing cast.

Get on it ASAP.

What are you watching?

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?