Tag Archives: Horror Movies

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 co-eds/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!

Halloween Would You Rather?

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Happy Best Day of the Year! I’ll be eating candy with Stranger Things and the lights off tonight, what are you doing?

In the spirit of this great holiday, I thought I’d do my own Halloween version of Would You Rather? (I stole the idea from the internet). I’ve put my answers in too, so you can get to know me even better than you already do. Play along if you fancy.

Here goes.

Would You Rather:

Or

Go on date with Jason Vorhees for a whole evening OR kiss Michael Myers on the lips for ten seconds (over his mask)?

The date with JV, though the conversation would definitely be stilted. Still, been on worse.

Spend the night in a haunted house on your own OR visit The Upside Down for an hour?

Haunted house I think, although I definitely would not make it through the night. But it would be cool to say I’d done it if I did survive.

Be turned forever into a vampire OR a werewolf?

Even though werewolves are infinitely cooler, the whole process of changing every full moon seems exhausting, so I choose vampire. Vampires also get to stay young and beautiful, so that’s a bonus.

Or (2)

Have your Air B&B turn out to be The Overlook Hotel in The Shining OR the cabin in The Evil Dead?

Yikes. Definitely The Overlook. At least there’s a bar and no tree branches.

Eat nothing but pumpkins OR get egged every night for the whole of October?

Pumpkins I guess? Although I’m not even sure if I’ve ever really tasted pumpkin without all the cinnamon and sugar and spice that usually goes with it.

Or (6)

Go to your Halloween party dressed as Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers OR Lydia Deetz?

I think Joyce is going to be as iconic as Lydia one day so I’m going for her. I’d wrap myself in fairy lights and work on my deer-in-headlights look.

Or (7)

Be a horror writer OR a horror director?

I love horror movies with all my heart but I think to be able to write a genuinely terrifying book would be incredible so I say writer. I love how prolific female writers are in the thriller/horror/ghost genres.

Have awesome telekinetic abilities AKA Eleven/Carrie OR amazing medium abilities AKA Lorraine in The Conjuring?

I think it would be so cool to be able to move things with the mind. I wouldn’t be able to handle being bugged by the dead. I have enough trouble keeping up with friends let alone having to be there for a whole other realm.

Or (8)

Ryan Reynolds in The Amityville Horror OR The Voices?

This was just my excuse to post a picture of a half-naked RR with a beard, not gonna lie. So I think you have an idea of my answer.

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Be a Ghostbuster OR be in the Stranger Things gang?

Stranger Things, hands down. Those kids are so cool.

Get a Good Guy Doll for your birthday OR Annabelle?

Chucky. At least he’d be a laugh before he murdered me.

Be a Trump Supporter OR star in the real life remake of Ghostwatch?

The latter any day of the week. Over and over if I had to.

2017 Pennywise OR 1990 Pennywise?

Tim Curry all the way, even though I like the new IT. You can give it a good go but you can’t beat the original and best Pennywise. Obvs.

Or (12)

Do a Ouija board with guaranteed ghostly interaction all night OR play one round of Would You Rather?

Ouija baby, I’m too much of a wimp to allow myself to get physically hurt (or hurt someone else for no good reason).

~

Over the next couple of day I’ll be rounding up Blogtober 2017 and my 31 Horrors, but apart from that, my Halloween work here is done.

Until next year, my spooky friends.

Yet Another Horror Questionnaire

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What’s Blogtober without a little horror questionnaire, eh? I’ve also been stuck for ideas today so here’s a little quiz I found on the internet*. This week’s film review will be up tomorrow.

How old are you?

Ancient.

What’s your favourite aspect of a horror film?

I’m all for heads rolling and guts spilling but I also like a good story, call me old-fashioned. Sure, Freddy Vs. Jason isn’t expected to deliver a nuanced narrative but I do like it when I’m presented with something fresh like The Babadook, that makes me think in a different way. Or at the very least, a modern twist on a traditional theme, like It Follows – which I found genuinely petrifying.

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What scares you the most in a horror film?

I think ghosts are the scariest, then home invasions. I’ve a huge soft spot for the Paranormal Activity films because they genuinely make the hairs on the back of my neck rise and stop me from sleeping, even if they started to slip in quality towards the end of the franchise.

I remember The Others freaked me out so much when it came out that I needed people to come to the loo with me – and The Blair Witch Project did the same. That ending is burned into my brain forever.

In a trailer for a horror film, what would entice you to go and see the film?

Anything deeply twisted or a little bit different. Although, who am I kidding, I’m usually up for most things, even if I’ve seen it hundreds of times. Home invasion? Cool. Found footage? I’m in.

I won’t lie though, I like horror with a strong female protagonist!

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Within a horror, what’s your favourite genre?

It is very hard to pick. I love it all. Psychological, a great creature feature – there’s a place for all of it. I guess I don’t like anything too gratuitous, which I’ll go into below. And as above, I love a good ghost story.

What do you dislike about horror films?

I really do not enjoy the rape revenge sub-genre, and I don’t like torture porn either. Hostel is a prime example of a what could have been an interesting premise, destroyed by making it into a soft porno. Like, I get it: boobs are nice to look at, I agree but why not cut down on the chicks in white cotton pants slow mo shots and focus on making the film good? Disappointing.

Oh and I get so hacked off when a film plays its hand too soon and shitty special effects. I’m not talking Tom Savini film effects, I mean just disappointing monsters and demons. See The Conjuring 2‘s nasty nun.

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What’s your all time favourite horror film and why?

I’ve got two: Candyman and Hellraiser.

Candyman because it was the first film to truly terrify me after Jaws and I really enjoy the folk-lore of the story. Virginia Madsen‘s Helen is mesmerising to watch and it feels so topical, 25 years later in terms of its comments on race, white privilege, poverty. Man, I’m definitely watching it again this week.

And Hellraiser is pure perfection. Pinhead (Doug Bradley) is firmly up there with the best of the horror icons and Claire Higgins‘ Julia is the most deliciously evil and self-serving movie step mother of all time. I couldn’t love her more.

I will never tire of either.

Do you feel that documentary style horror films such as the Blair Witch Project are more effective than purely fictional horror films such as Saw and why?

I don’t think they are more effective although if done well they can really immerse you in the terror, like Paranormal Activity did. I really have a soft spot for found footage actually but I think those films can be as effective as fictional horror films. I guess it depends on the films. Lame-o answer, sorry but I’ve got nothing else.

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What puts you off watching a horror film the most?

As above, anything sexually gratuitous, shit actors who are also shitty characters I don’t care about, horrible effects, crappy monsters/demons/ghosts, stupid twists, obvious jump scares and rape revenge fantasies (unless they’re done very well). I hate puke too and also animal torture, like can we just not anymore? It’s such a cheap shot.

What do you expect to see when watching a horror film?

Nothing really. Something interesting and if not scary then at least interesting or a bit twisted. Going into any horror I always think: “Scare me please”. So scare me, please!

Three of the worst horror films ever made?

I’m not doing ever, I’m going to do of recent times:

  1. The Black Room
  2. Annabelle
  3. Cat Sick Blues

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Three of the best horror films ever made?

Easier:

  1. Candyman
  2. Hellraiser
  3. The Devil’s Rejects (or The Blair Witch Project? Shiiit!)

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you like watching horror films?

10/10, my very favourite hobby.

Feel free to do the questionnaire yourselves, horror fans.

*I can’t remember where hence no credit given. Sorry!

Final Girl Friday: Stretch, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

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I must have seen TTCM2 at some point in my tiny life but when I picked it up on Netflix last weekend, I couldn’t remember anything about it.

It’s great though, isn’t it? A little bit of comedy can go a long way in a horror movie (if done right) and this has a sort of tongue in cheek charm reminiscent of Evil Dead 2. But to the woman of the hour.

The Girl

Radio DJ Vanita “Stretch” Brock, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The Situation

Stretch (Caroline Williams) inadvertently becomes witness to a horrifying chainsaw murder when two horrible college kids, who just happen to be live on the air with her at the time, are attacked by a chainsaw wielding maniac.

As a result of coming forward to dogged Lieutenant Boude “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper), who has his own personal vendetta against the saw happy family from the first film, she becomes very much embroiled in a new kind of nightmare.

The Final Girl

Stretch is great because she’s cool. I mean like radio DJ Stevie Waynes (horror babe Adrienne Barbeau) in The Fog (1980), Stretch has my dream job. Growing up I remember thinking how awesome that was and I still do. I basically want to give it all up to become a late night disc jockey and you know what? Maybe I will.

Stretch suffers no fools and that’s why I like her. She might um and ah about putting the station’s reputation at risk when Lefty asks her to play the murder tape live again on air but in the end she does what’s right. She also stands her ground when Lefty initially rejects her help with the case. Like, beggars can’t be choosers dude.

As things get hairier and the Sawyer Family come looking for Stretch and her station colleague L.G. (just as Lefty knew they would), Stretch is forced to use any means possible to persuade Leatherface (Bill Johnson) not to chop her up like yesterday’s fire wood. This somewhat backfires (or not, depending on how you look at it) when he falls in love with her.

Hey, even deeply damaged horror antagonists need love.

Things round The Sawyer’s gaff are not that fun really, not if you’re a civilian reluctant to be murdered horribly, though I can’t deny the set design is marvelous.

Stretch is forced to endure the unusual sensation of wearing her best friend’s face over her own when LF kindly hides her from his family because LOVE, amirite? When she’s inevitably caught she has to sit through the world’s most awkward dinner party  and then gets attacked by a 700 year old grandpa with a hammer. She’s had been better days, I’m betting.

But, like all great Final Girls, she uses her initiative, manipulates the Leatherfaced one, blows up the family (forever?) and escapes to live another day – oh, and star in another sequel which I haven’t seen yet but will be damn well catching soon.

Final Girl Rating

3.5/5 – Chainsaw looks good on you, gurl!

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If you can’t beat ’em

My Top Ten Horror Recs

My Halloween favourites* in no particular order.

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Creep (2014)

IMDB Synopsis

When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day job in a remote mountain town, he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems.

Creep is one of the most effective, genuinely haunting horror movies of recent years and proof that if it’s done well, it can be just as classic as the classics. Mark Duplass absolutely nails his part as Josef, the vulnerable yet creepy loner looking for a little company in his cabin in the woods.

Near perfect – and probably my most recommended film of the last three years. Plus, Creep 2 THIS MONTH.

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Candyman (1992)

IMDB Synopsis

The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster’s myth.

Not only one of my favourite scary movies but one of my all-time favourites in general, Candyman never fails to get me. Virginia Madsen is incredible as Helen, the woman who gets herself tangled up in the mythology of the Candyman – and wishes she’d never started it, much like me and every project I’ve ever undertaken.

My thoughts on this masterpiece, here.

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Hellraiser (1987)

IMDB Synopsis

An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover; demons are pursuing him after he escaped their sadomasochistic underworld.

Another shit-hot horror tale not least because it features the greatest representation of the evil stepmother I’ve ever seen. Julia, you make the first two Hellraiser movies and I forever salute you.

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Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

IMDB Synopsis

Kirsty is brought to an institution after the death of her family, where the occult-obsessive head resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites once again.

Hellbound is a blood spattered nightmare of a movie and it’s one of the best. Julia’s back to terrorise snotty little Kirsty and get in on with her hot dead brother-in-law – and I’m here for it all.

One from the archives.

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Evil Dead (2013)

IMDB Synopsis

Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods.

Fuck, I love this remake. One of the taglines on the poster was “A near perfect experience” and I’m with them on that one. It bothers to change things up a little, giving us a different kind of protagonist to root for – and a final girl to die for.

Love, love, love.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

IMDB Synopsis

A group of teenagers get into a car crash in the Texas woods on prom night, and then wander into an old farmhouse that is home to Leatherface and his insane family of cannibalistic psychopaths.

If you’re looking for fun, then look no further. Matthew McConaughey relishes his role as a member of Leatherface’s crew, hellbent on terrorising the shit out of Renée Zellweger and pal on prom night.

This film has a great aesthetic, if nothing else.

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The Orphanage (2007)

IMDB Synopsis

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

This one might make you more sad than scared, but it is brilliant and features one of the most iconic and creepy moments in horror history. IMHO.

THE BABADOOK, Noah Wiseman, 2013. ©IFC Midnight/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Babadook (2014)

IMDB Synopsis

A widowed mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

Sometimes I can’t even express what this film means to me. Its depiction of depression and grief is so real that when I first saw it, I couldn’t breath.

This is a masterpiece and nothing will ever convince me otherwise. It’s also one of the only films I’ve ever watched with my husband that has visibly disturbed him. So bonus points for that.

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Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

IMDB Synopsis

A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.

This is a classic for a reason and proof you should never get to know your neighbours.

My review here.

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The Visit (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.

I really enjoyed this film. It seemed at the time decidedly un-Shyamalan but now, I’m not so sure. The kids are great.

Bonus Material:

A Dark Song (2016) – reviewed by me here
The Innkeepers (2011)

What are your favourites?

*A couple of these films seem to make every list I write about my favourite horror movies.

31 Horrors

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Halloween Month is without question the best month. Pumpkins gently fester in every corner as the temperature drops, the leaves get crunchy and then invariably soggy as rain pours down on my crispy Autumn fantasies. I still love every minute though because cardigans, PSLs and horror movies. Ah, the horror movies.

It’s not like I ever need an excuse to indulge my favourite past time but this is the month my viewing can go into overdrive and it’s expected because it’s the Lord’s spookiest month.

I’ve set myself not only a post a day challenge with Blogtober but also the glorious task of viewing 31 Horrors in October. I’d say one a day but that’s not always possible what with having a life and that.

The biggest challenge so far, just four days in, is trying to convince my husband that The Monster Squad might be a good Halloween movie but it doesn’t count as a horror film. Also keeping him engaged in my film choices is a chore. While I would happily watch 10 found footage flicks in a row he has limited interest in that.

So I have a list of titles and the inclination, and that will go a long way to getting me to my end goal of 31 Horrors in October. I have been sharing my picks on social media which is fun as it prompts opinions on the films and leads into what other people are watching themselves, which I love.

Which leads me into the most important question: what are you watching? 🎃🍁🍂🦇