Trick or treat or my recommended list for Halloween movies

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It is no secret that Halloween is one of my favorite celebrations of the year. It has some mystical aura where you can mix the fun with the scary. And in this line of thought, I consider then one of the best ways to spend the day is with a movie marathon. Now, for me, not any movie makes it because let’s be frank, for the past decade most of the horror movies show gratuitous violence for the sake of it. Therefore I consider that a true Halloween movie must mix some elements of humor, suspense and horror or simply be a classic where a true horror is a tool used to narrate a good story. So no Saw, zombie fest (I hate zombie stories with passion, aside from the one mentioned here) nor gore classics in my list.

And to show my point, here is my list of recommendations for the day when the dead and the monsters walk the Earth in search of candies and horror. Bear in mind that most of these movies are meant to be seen in a family, so aside from one case, most are not as intense as ‘It’.

 

1. Ghostbusters:

 

A true classic in all sense. One of my favorite movies. When I was a kid this movie made me laugh in the same amounts that it scared me (especially the library scene). Now it might not be at all scary, but more than two decades after, it is still pulling its weight. If you haven’t seen it, stop wasting your time on the internet and do it. If you don’t like it, then you are a soulless creature and I would like you to introduce my friends Stantz, Spengler, and Venkman, they might want to have a few words with you. And avoid marshmallows, trust me. The bottom line, if you don’t like this movie you are either dead or soulless. In either case, I know who I’m gonna call to deal with you.

2. Fright Night

 

 

 

Seductive vampires? Check. ‘Intrepid’ (in the loosest definition of the word) hunters? Check. Scary story? Hell yeah. Unlike the current crop of vampires, the Fright Night really delivered the goods. A forgotten classic by now, it is still an enjoyable piece of horror film from the 80’s. The remake is not bad (thanks mostly to David Tennant who is always awesome), but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original.

3. Re-animator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I said no zombie films and this is considered a zombie film. However, it is one of those movies that have become really good on the basis of being soooo bad. Inspired by a short story from a true master of horror, H.P Lovecraft. Maybe what makes this movie a classic is not the story nor the (excessive gore), but the large, ham-fisted acting of Jeffrey Combs (better known as The Question from JLU). He eats the scenery like a zombie eats a brain. If I have to break one of my movie rules for Halloween, it has to be for this one.

4. Sleepy Hollow

Unlike many of my friends, I’m not a fan of Mr. Burton’s work in general (my opinion is quite similar to Kevin Smith’s in that regard). However, I recognize that this particular work, always including the master of the strange that is Johnny Depp captures to a ‘t’ the spirit of the legend of the Headless Horseman like no one else did since Disney filmed that short movie with the narration of Bing Crosby (which you need to see as well).

5. Gremlins

Granted, the second one is funnier, but honestly? It is also kinda lame. But man the first one was really scary and good for the time it was released. It was at what I consider the peak of Spielberg’s work and whether you laughed at the antics of the green menaces or you were downright scared of them, this movie is a great fit for Halloween. Ironically enough, it was released as a Christmas movie. Take that as you wish.

6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Vampires have been part of the Halloween mystique from ages and what better than watching a movie inspired by the novel that practically launched the bloodsuckers to the stardom. This movie is ripe with good actors (yes even Keanu) and for what I remember, follows the book pretty well. Highly recommended, if only because of Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the Count, sexy and scary at the same time. Or if you want to go for a more alternative route, watch The Shadow of the Vampire with Willem Defoe.

7. The Exorcist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C’mon, just the theme tune of this movie gives you the chills. The movie will leave you with nightmares. Just avoid the sequels and prequels. Nuff said.

9. Lost Boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best vampire movies, a classic with a stellar cast and bonafide jump scares. It’s a bit dated -very 80s’ as my wife would say- but the main theme ‘Cry, Little Sister’ is haunting and its plot twist still holds after all these years. Plus it gives you good tips to fight vampires. In a way, this movie is to vampires what ‘Zombieland’ is to the walking dead.

10. Pet shop of horrors

 

 

 

 

For the anime fans, now, while most anime fans would tell you that Mermaid’s Scar is the quintessential anime horror by excellence (amidst a very decent record of horror animes, man the Japanese writers know how to do scary stuff), I would argue that Pet Shop of Horrors is a good alternative, especially if like Brent, you are more into Twilight Zone kind of stories. This is an anthology of four bizarre short stories, that will keep you glued to your seat while realizing that more often than not, humans are the true monsters.

11. Event Horizon

 

 

My favorite proper horror movie: Event Horizon. A movie which is the result of mixing the old haunted house trope (lightning storm included) with the ghost ship trope and a heavy dose of Lovecraft. Most people in geekdom consider this an unofficial prequel to Warhammer 40k (if you don’t know what’s that, let’s say that is the most grimdark tabletop wargame known to man and wickedly fun); I consider it a sci-fi version of At the Mountain of Madness, but with a bit more gore. Also a good horror movie for dates (trust my teenager self on this one). Sam Neill aces it on this film.

12. 30 Days of Night.

 

I can’t believe I almost forgot to put this one. maybe it was because when I went to see it I was with a friend in a cinema in the middle of nowhere, mist all over the place (like is typical of UK) and it was the midnight release, but this movie made for a tense return to home and me starting to plan how to deal with something like this. Everything in this movie is pitch perfect to scare you. These are not sexy vampires, these are predators and we are their food. Also the design of the monsters is disturbing to say the least. And the music, eerie as hell.

13. The Addams Family (1991).

 

 

 

 

 

In my 13th entry of the list (very ad hoc), here is the ‘family movie’. My wife and I recently watched the animated film and we enjoyed it a lot. It was charming and had a lot of heart. The kind of family movie that can be enjoyed in these days. But, the 1991 film is a way better fit for this time of the year. It has a stellar cast, it’s very spooky kooky and a lot of heart. Besides, it is an opportunity to see late thespian Raul Julia chewing the scenery like a vampire chews a victim’s neck

 

Well, this is my list. Obviously, with the current output of films, this reads more like a classic list than a modern one. I know there are other movies worth watching today like Ringu or The Grudge, but I think this list captures pretty well the spirit of Halloween (not of Samhain, that is different, but I will talk about that later).

Do you think a movie is missing? Want to talk about your personal list? Please go ahead and join the conversation in the comments below.

Enjoy and ‘trick or treat!!!’

New frightening collaboration with the Wicked Library

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As you remember, The Wicked Library has been kind enough to record one of my stories for their podcast. So earlier this year they asked me to participate with a flash fiction tale for their Halloween audio anthology. The story I submitted was “The Scratching”, which you can read here as well.

The Wicked Library released the audio anthology this weekend and well, my story is there (it’s actually the first one) and given that today is Halloween… I hope you enjoy my work and that of my fellow authors.

Here is the link for the podcast entry: https://thewickedlibrary.com/821

Chilling reads for Halloween

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Given that tomorrow is Halloween and the weekend is for the Day of the Dead, I thought it was a good idea to offer some suggestions of chilling reads for the celebration. Now, I set myself some ground rules:

-Short stories…
-…that I’ve read…
-that may not be well known or haven’t been done into a media production.

That means, despite some of the suggestions made on my twitter feed, that no Stephen King nor H.P. Lovecraft. I’m recommending this stories because I have read them and found them a great addition to the holiday and also I had help from Leo McBride at Altered Instinct. All but one are available in one format or another for free.

So without further ado and in no particular order:

So Glad We Had This Time Together by Cat Rambo: A different twist on traditional vampire lore and proof that reality shows are evil. If you have seen ‘Unreal’ or ‘Being Human’ you will get the gist of it. And I admit, the end made me laugh for how clever it was. I’m still wondering why this hasn’t been turned into a tv miniseries. Netflix should get at it… oh wait…

The Box by Leo McBride: an experiment that leaves you wondering if it was just a trick of the mind. Of my bunch of friends that are also writers, Leo is by far the best of us (now if life allowed him to finish one of his two novels, we would have an NYT bestseller in hand). This story is unsettling. The horror is subtle, like the kind of stories you would see in a Ray Bradbury anthology series. The ones that leave you wondering what the hell you just read.

The Beast by Alei Kodaitshura: sometimes, the line between dreams and reality goes away and something dark awakens from inside. Look, I’m not recommending this story just because Alei and I have been friends for years, but because when she gets to it, Alei can write really creative and seriously unsettling stories. This story left me stunned for days after I read it. Very Lovecraftian and could actually fit on the New World of Darkness RPG setting.

Web by Karl Drinkwater (as part of his short story anthology): this story is interesting for a couple of reasons: features a POC character from a culture I admit know little -she is a Somali woman, living in England-, there is certain ambiguity on it that will leave you to wonder what really happened and as Leo said in a review, better than I could ever do:

It’s a tough tale emotionally to read, but brilliantly done. The harsh honesty of the tale almost feels out of place alongside the fantasy horrors of the other stories – but it’s perhaps the most horrific of all for that.

Sometimes horror doesn’t come from outside, but from inside us. It’s a tough read, so be warned.

Pull Cord for Nurse by Noreen Braman: Noreen has quite a few Halloween stories to choose from at her site. I went with this one. It’s really short but nonetheless enjoyable. Think your classic gothic horror story, but place it in a setting that will remind you of certain stages in Silent Hill. And not the nice ones.

Idle Hands by Kelli Perkins (audio version by the Wicked Library): something I like of Kelli’s stories is he knack to combine the macabre with a wicked sense of humor. And through that, even the most devilish creature can be relatable. If you enjoy Lucifer (the tv show) but you want a darker twist to it, one that will leave you reflecting upon the nature of evil, you will enjoy this.

Finally, and if I’m allowed to self-plug my own story:

Bone Peyote by Ricardo Victoria (audio version by the Wicked Library): Don’t mix ancient prehispanic rituals, strange drugs and the Day of the Death.  Also very Lovecraftian in my opinion. This was my first (and so far most successful) take on horror. You can get more on its development here.

I hope you enjoy this chilling reads these weekend.

Vampire Raph

Last week, was my birthday so my friend Marco got me this Vampire Raph.

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Pretty ad-hoc considering the month of the year. Now, although I collect toys, I haven’t written a review since the Green Arrow from DC Universe of Mattel, mostly because I’m lazy. That said, this figure does warrant a bit of a chat.

For starters, it’s not the first time the TMNT toys do weird mash-ups with. You name it: prehistoric times, Frontierland, Universal Monsters (back then, it was Donnie, not Raph who was the vampire), Star Trek (believe it or not), Dungeons and Dragons, etc. It’s the design of the Turtles back then and now with the current one (based on the 2012-2017 series) that lends itself for the weirdest, toyetic proposals ever. Thus a monster mash is on par of the course. As usual, these figures are hard to come by in Mexico at the retail level, you either have to go online or have a friend that can get them for you in the USA.

This particular figure is pretty basic, articulation wise, like most of the ‘special’ versions of the TMNT toy line. In fact, regular turtles have way better articulations and detail.  Nonetheless, I appreciate the fabric cape, as it allows for better poses and the tiny details of its tuxedo. This Raph won’t be kicking any Foot Soldier in the but at least will scare them to death with style.

Now, I get that toys tend to get the strangest accessories ever. Batman toys are particularly guilty of this with the Turtles a close second. But… why the hell Vampire Raph carries around a wooden stake? The sai I get, traditional ninja turtle weapon of choice for Raph. The tiny ninja turtle-vampire hybrid that can be attached to Raph’s arm? Makes sense, after all, vampire lords enjoy the company of the children on the night.

But a stake? Is he planning to go all Blade and kill other vampires? Or is he planning to trick others like the Count did in A Night in the Lonesome October? Why toy designers? Why?

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That, my friends, might remain a mystery that will baffle the alien archeologist from the future that will explore the ruins of my collection.

Wooden stake aside, I really love this figure. I don’t have that many horror related figures. I mean, unless you count Plush Cthulhu, Funko Pop Cthulhu and Guillermo del Toro (he has created some of the best vampire stories… except The Strain of course). So finally getting my hands on this horrifying fellow was a nice birthday surprise. Now I wonder if I should get Leo Van Helsing to put them to fight like in that movie.

And if you want to check more vampire toy figures, including the original Vamp TMNT, check this video by Toy Galaxy.

Meanwhile, I will be plotting what further uses for Halloween decorations I can concoct for my non-sparkly Vampire Raph. Blah Blah Blah!

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