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?

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Patchwork (Film) Review

Horror month rumbles on and I for one am as happy as a clam about it. This month is something of a mish mash of horror ideas which is ironic given the premise. Shall we?

Patchwork (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A bombastic throw-back horror-comedy that follows three young women who go out partying one night and find themselves Frankensteined together in one body. Now they must put aside their differences so they can find who did this and exact revenge!

My Review

Blimey. This week’s pick is not what you’d call a pretty picture – we do get three (sort of) Final Girls for the price of one though so I’m not really mad at it.

Jennifer (Tory Stolper), Ellie (Tracey Fairaway) and Madeleine (Maria Blasucci) are three individual women. To start with. Via a series of flashbacks we learn that each were present in the same bar on the night they became one. Thanks to a maniacal gentleman known only as The Surgeon (Corey Sorenson), who splices them together in the same body, our trio are quickly and reluctantly acquainted.

All conscious and babbling at once, the girls share one body and three minds which proves challenging but also fucking awesome when they pool their skills to solve the mystery of what happened to them.

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We’ve all been there, amirite?

Jennifer is a billy no mates who, after a lack luster birthday party returns home to wait for her married lover. Here she is knocked unconscious and when she awakes, she’s not alone. She is joined by ditzy party girl Ellie and quiet girl Madeleine – as mentioned above, in the same mangled body.

Luckily, all three are on the same page regarding vengeance and the film is at its best when they go on a rampage for the truth, revenge and hopefully, a cure. Along the way they meet geeky Garret (James Phelps) who may have a big thing for bitchy Jennifer, and scene by scene they kick arse and take names (because even if half the men in this bar are not The Surgeon, they are THE WORST and therefore guilty of something).

Jellileine (lol) dispose of date rapists and pervs, cheats and generally douchy arseholes like pros – which is joyful because girl power but also… is there a secret lurking deep down within one of them?

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You’ve got red on you

My Thoughts

When we learn more about the motivations of one of our heroines I felt like it was trying to say something about the societal pressure of being a woman and trying to be perfect, but that falls apart for me quickly.

This film tries so hard to be kooky and falls short. It could be great if they dialed down the hamminess and stuck with the feminist theme. I enjoy the fact that each of the women has their own issues and when they start to bond it made me happy, like they’d finally found each other. But that feeling didn’t last long and I got bored quickly.

All the male characters are dreary and terrible – and this is proof that yet again comedy/body horror is so hard to get right. Which is shame because I really wanted to like it.

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Where’s your head at?

My Rating

2.5/5. A mish mash of ideas that never really come to anything, sadly.

What would my sweet think of this one? Would she surgically attach herself to it forever or… not so much? Find out here.

3 Contemporary Horrors

They say they don’t make horror like they used to and it is true that, of all the genres, this one seems to be the hardest to get right. But occasionally it is possible, even in this day and age. Here are a couple of my favourites, just in time for Halloween.

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The Innkeepers (2011)

During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.

I’m quite a lover of Ti West‘s films, and I was going to choose House of the Devil for the purposes of this post because it is really good. However, I also really like The Innkeepers and it’s my blog, so nurr.

Sometimes I’m not even that sure why I like it so much – I think public opinion is quite split on it. I don’t care though, I like it and it could be because of the slight homage it pays to The Shining, it could be Kelly McGillis as a washed up actress – all I know is that I like the concept and it leaves me feeling pretty creeped out. At the same time, it’s having a laugh and the effects seem deliberately schlocky which only adds to the vibe.

There’s also a sadness that permeates the narrative, the ending is tragic and there’s a thread about an old man who has haunted me ever since.

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You’re Next (2011)

When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

You’re Next isn’t exactly reinventing the horror wheel but it is seriously ace with an awesome final girl to boot. I’m going to write more about Erin later on in #blogtober but for now know that this survivalist is not about to sit down and accept a premature death any time soon.

Full of twists and a lot of gore, this film takes on the traditional home invasion trope and runs with it. Proof that isolation with your family in the woods is pretty much the worst. Coincidentally, Ti West actually stars in this movie as one of the girls’ boyfriends and I think is the first person in the house to die.

Enjoy!

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Creep (2014)

A young videographer answers an online ad for a one-day job in a remote town to record the last messages of a dying man. When he notices the man’s odd behavior, he starts to question his intentions.

Hands down one of the most effective thriller/horrors I’ve ever seen, I pretty much recommend this to everyone all the time. Mark Duplass plays the oddly vulnerable Josef, a lonely man with a lot of baggage – and he plays him very, very well.

Honestly, all I can say is watch this, ask no more questions. Then watch the sequel because that’s good too – the third film in the trilogy is currently in production.

What are you watching this Halloween?

Late Night Lady DJ

Long ago I fell in love with a very specific horror trope and dream job all at the same time: the late night lady DJ. 

This will be a character you have encountered a good few times if you’re a lover of scary movies, particularly the classics. The late night lady DJ works the graveyard shift and has a hypnotic voice that rings out strong and true into the night. She often narrates the horror as it unfurls before us – she’s a special final girl, the beacon of hope in a haunted night.

I really think I’d be good at this role. To be the voice in the darkness, the comfort and the calm, playing sad songs and angry anthems – taking calls from the lonely hearts and the insomniacs. Here are a few of my favourite inspirations:

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Heidi Hawthorne

I was walking by with my dog and I thought I would just come in and sit for a minute. Is that okay? Are you closed? ~ Heidi Hawthorne (to a Priest in a church)

Played by Sheri Moon Zombie in The Lords of Salem

I personally adore this movie and hold it in the highest esteem perhaps because of the character of Heidi Hawthorne. This Late Night Lady DJ is part of an on-air trio with her colleagues Whitey and Herman – and is a recovering drug addict. When she plays a mysterious record live on the radio one night, it triggers something in the women of Salem, something witchy and wonderful. But is all the weirdness that ensues in her newly drug-lapsed mind or is her connection to The Lords (a coven of Satan worshipers) very real? 

Rob Zombie does not always get it 100% right but he did with Lords. I just love the imagery, which for me has the flavour of Kubrick’s The Shining. It’s genuinely creepy and Sheri Moon is the best she’s ever been. Heidi is a cool lady whose nice to her dog and does banter with the best of them on-air. I’d definitely like to be friends with her IRL – my favourite LNLDJ hero.

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 Stevie Wayne

I don’t know what happened to Antonio Bay tonight. Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us. In one moment, it vanished. But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don’t wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again. To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog. ~ Stevie Wayne

Played by Adrienne Barbeau in The Fog

Stevie might well have the coolest set up of all the DJs, broadcasting live from her lighthouse. When the mysterious fog starts to roll in (and with it a band of vengeful ghost fishermen), Stevie implores her listeners to rescue her son from her home on the mainland.

Her voice guides the locals (mostly) to safety as the terror unfolds but there’s only so much a girl can do. And all this while she rocks a lovely 80’s perm and plaid. BABE.

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Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock

I know nobody’s listening ‘cos you’re all looming, but I got a shot of hot rock ‘n roll for you anyway… ~ Stretch

Played by Caroline Williams in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II

I LOVE Stretch and have already said all I need to say about her here. I stand by everything still – she is a total and utter bad ass.

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Sydney Briar

Oh, God. You’re gonna eat me soon, aren’t you? ~ Sydney Briar

Played by Lisa Houle in Pontypool 

Shock-jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) might be the so-called star of the show but his station manager Sydney deserves credit for her bravery in fighting the infected horde who attack their small radio station – and are the reason the small town of Pontypool is current on lock-down.

Pontypool is an underrated gem as it is but Grant is the meat in a feisty girl sandwich as he also has a cool radio assistant in Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly). When it becomes clear that certain words in the English language have become ‘infected’ and are therefore contaminating the people who hear them, Laurel-Ann is compromised and it’s a waste frankly. But that’s the price we have to pay for the horror we love sometimes. Long live Sydney though, or should I say ‘Lisa the Killer’? (Just watch it).

My review is here.

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Jungle Julia

Black men and a whole lota’ mother fuckin’ white men have had plenty fun adoring my ass. I don’t wear their teeth marks on my butt for nothing. ~ Jungle Julia

Played by Sydney Tamiia Poitier in Death Proof

JJ isn’t quite the same as the others, in that we don’t see her at work in the studio but I feel like she had to appear on this list because I love Death Proof so much.

Jules is a sexy woman without a doubt, confident in her own skin with a voice to die for – she’s thoroughly enjoying her fame and having her face plastered all over billboards across the city. We don’t get to enjoy her for long, thanks to Stuntman Mike and she goes out in the most horrifying way – but she’ll always be one of the highlights of this movie for me. Gone but very hard to forget.

Right, so any local radio stations hiring?

Blogtober 2018 – Coming Soon!

Since we’re about to enter the best month of all, I’m currently planning my #blogtober2018 posts, as well as this year’s 31 Horrors (see 2017’s here). Even though I’ll be in Copenhagen for a small period at the beginning, I’m aiming to watch a horror movie for every day of October, just like last year. I’ve even got a list pre-prepared, check me out!

Anyway, I aim to fill my Blogtober with all of my favourite spooky things, creepy books, horror films and Autumn flavoured posts – who knows where the month will lead us? All I know is that it’s the best and I can’t wait.

Out the way September…

Tag (Film) Review

This month is May-hem Month (see what Jill did there?!) and we start off with quite the bang. I’m not sure if that’s in a good way either because I am still trying to work out what the fuck happened. So without further ado, let’s get down and dirty with our first May-hem pick!

Tag (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A girl’s life cascades into chaos as everyone around her suffers a gruesome fate while she herself becomes less and less certain of who she is and what kind of a world she lives in.

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My Review

WTF was a common phrase running through my head as I watched this. I have little to no understanding of what happened which actually doesn’t matter that much as it adds to the general vibe of what our main character Mitsuko is going through. I’ll try my best to elaborate anyway.

Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) appears to be a sensitive soul, writing poetry and being less abrasive than her classmates (in short, there’s something special about her, bear that it mind). On a school trip, our heroine narrowly escapes a bloody and inexplicable fate. (Like the most creative death scene since Ghost Ship (2002) – it is immense!).

Killer wind, anyone?

Dazed and confused but very much alive, Mitsuko immediately stumbles from the scene of the accident into a (different) school where her peers all seem to recognise her – but she’s got no clue if she’s a student there, who she is, who they are. Bemused by her sudden flakiness, her friends – Aki, Taeko and Sur – make her cut class and they all end up in the woods. Whilst there, Mitsuko outlines what happened on the bus (killer wind, sliced up bodies, all that jazz) – and puts it down to being a bad dream.

This leads to an existential discussion about parallel timelines and alternate worlds lead by Sur (short for ‘Surreal’) – who philosophises that to avoid a horrible fate and set the world back in motion, Misuko just has to do something completely unexpected (honestly, I got lost here but there is a giant crocodile dream sequence which is pretty glorious).

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When the girls return to their classrooms, they are torn down by homicidal teachers with machine guns (and I thought Catholic school was heavy). All but Mitsuko are slaughtered where they stand. From here we flip and flop into an exploration of these alternate universes, as Mitsuko becomes Keiko and Izumi (played by different actresses so very confusing). Her alternates are a bride betrothed to a boar headed man (been there) and a marathon runner.

(You with me?) LOL.

Mitsuko keeps on meeting the same group of girlfriends who are either friend or foe in these realities – but they generally end up killed in the most OTT ways imaginable. Always constant however is Aki, who pops up to support or gee up Mitsuko/Keiko/Izumi along the way. At one point she tells Mitsuko that she might be these other two characters in different lives but at the core she will always be Mitsuko.

Aki also explains to Mitsuko that in order to stop the cycle of all her friends being slaughtered in every reality, she needs to die. Later there’s a convoluted thread about all this being a computer game with Mitsuko as the main character, some stolen DNA and a sinister as all fuck shrine to all her dead classmates.

I guess the final point here is, will Mitsuko make the ultimate sacrifice to save her friends?

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My Thoughts

Apart from the gore there isn’t an awful lot to engage me here – which is ludicrous because on paper this is the most me film you can think of. However, I just didn’t connect with it at all. I loved the killings and the fantasy/horror element of everything but the plot is just too incoherent for me to keep up. I’ve read through the Wiki synopsis a few times and I’m still confuddled.

I do like what it’s supposedly saying about the ‘boys club’ and how everything is run by a bunch of sad and pervy little boys and I would have liked more of an exploration of that. It would have been amazing to have seen Mitsuko fuck up the patriarchy – but it is refreshing to watch a movie run by so many females.

In tone it reminds me of a film called The Machine Girl (2008) – which dials up the blood and goo but doesn’t deliver much else. Again, believe me I’m as surprised as anyone that this sub genre doesn’t seem to be for me.

My Rating

Sorry, but 1.5/5.

What did Jill make of this one? Would she leave it outside in the killer wind or follow it through parallel universes for lyfe. Find out here.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (Film) Review

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Kicking off December with a Christmas horror classic (?). This tale is all too real to be honest and I find myself siding with the (hot) antagonist, which is always rather worrying.

There’s not much more I need to say by way of introduction, other than – I think the Christmas/Horror hybrid sub-genre is one of my favourites.

*Spoilers*

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

IMDB Synopsis

After his parents are murdered, a tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior.

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Leave Billy alone!

My Review

You know what a little kid doesn’t need when he becomes an orphan? To be abused by a sadistic Mother Superior.

You know what a little orphan kid who’s witnessed the slaying of his entire family at the hands of an evil burglar dressed as Santa Claus especially doesn’t need? To be abused by a sadistic Mother Superior. And here’s me remembering how hard I had it learning GCSE Maths from Sister Ursula and her extra long metal ruler.

From the beginning:

Billy and his family go to visit his catatonic grandfather in a nursing home on Christmas Eve. Gramps is completely unresponsive to everyone around him until Billy is left alone with him for a moment, and then it’s party central. Gramps grabs Billy and tells him a horrifying story about Santa Claus and what he does to naughty kids when they’ve been shits. Poor Billy is terrified and his parents aren’t particularly sympathetic when he tells them about it later.

This might have turned into an amusing anecdote for Billy to regale his own family with years later had it not coincided with a criminal dressed as the big man himself running their car off the road and then killing everyone but Billy and for no good reason, either.

Years later and the orphan Billy is getting a lot of shit from the Mother Superior as mentioned above. The woman is horrible and completely unsympathetic to anything vaguely childlike (kind of my hero) – and she especially takes pleasure in spanking naughty kids. She also forces Billy to be around Santa, even though she knows how triggering the notion of Saint Nic is to this poor child.

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Nice work uniform, Billy

The only real light on the horizon is Sister Margaret who totally has Billy’s back and tries to do what she can to make his life better. Ten years later and Billy is a buff young honey who gets a job in a toy shop. This is great and we even get a working hard montage to show us how well he’s getting on in the professional world.

Billy is clearly well-loved and enjoys a flirtation with a pretty young colleague. The only fly in the ointment is the Christmas period and it gets worse for Billy when he’s promoted to store Santa. Can you even imagine what that would do to a person?

Billy gets on with it as stoically as he can, though on the night of the office party something inside him snaps and he does something he can never take back (clue: it’s not getting off with the slightly creepy dude from Accounts).

And the thing is, once he gets going he can’t stop – so eager is he to punish the naughty people of the world. Some of his victims deserve to be sliced and diced (rapists/nasty bullies) and some of them don’t really (highly sexed babes/his boss) but Billy is relentless in his judgement. He slaughters with gay abandon and it all seems to be leading up to a terrible swan song: revenge on the old bitch that made a nasty situation so much worse…

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“What do you mean red isn’t my colour?!”

Sister Margaret teams up with the feds to try and track down Billy, whom she still has every sympathy for and sidenote: she totally reminds me of Doctor Lomax in Halloween. In a race against time, Margaret and co have to get to the orphanage before actual hell breaks loose.

Can they save Billy from himself and MP from the fate she so richly deserves before it is #toolate?

Hmmmmm.

My Thoughts

This does exactly what it says on the tin. The eighties vibe is deeply enjoyable and Billy looks super cute in his Santa suit – the killings are OTT and satisfying. There’s a lot of boob and classic horror movie tropes (aka the slut gets it) which is fun but also highly offensive and tiresome by today’s standards. I’d like a remake please.

Billy saves his work crush from potential rape but then murders her because she’s a witness to his first murder – or is it because he’s judging her by her bad behaviour aka putting herself in a situation where she could get herself raped? Or… is it because she rejected him in the first place?

Billy is all shades of messed up and who can honestly be surprised about that? If only he’d got the help he deserved in the beginning, eh? I think it’s an interesting take on PTSD and for a change not just a clichéd escaped mental patient storyline.

Sure it could have been way better but I like it for the kitsch value. And I’m 100% on Billy’s side – fuck everyone.

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Billy with have NUN of your nonsense, Mother Superior

My Rating

3.5/5. Fun. Bloody. Silly af.

What does my queen think? Would she lop this one’s head off or… not? Find out here!