I’m a lover of the horror genre and honestly think there is a horror movie/book out there for everyone. The genre is so huge and creative and encompassing, my dudes! I’m talking horror comedies and twisty thrillers and genre send-ups and monster mashes and OG slashers and psychological once-upon-a-terrible-dreamscapes. There’s so much to love in there and I just couldn’t resist doing a triptych Top Five Friday!! After this, I must get back to reviews (and some tags), but since I’ve been so happily swamped with Halloween shenanigans lately, I’m just sneaking in and out with these absolute fave recs, and I’ll be back in November with actual bookish content. Okiedokes! Let’s get to it, muahahahaha!
Top Five Horror Movies Of All Time
In My Opinion At This Creeptastic Moment
1. Paranorman // I would sell my soul to Laika Animation Studios, their stop-motion movies are so beautiful and heart-bursting. Paranorman holds a special place in my heart, however, if for nothing else, my first viewing experience. I was wearing my comfy AF zombie slippers (left foot is Lars (Von Trier), right foot is Eli (Roth)) and what should our big-earred, ghost-seeing, adorable AF hero do one morning pretty early in the film?? He slipped his own feeties into his own pair of zombie slippers, and reader, I died. This movie is too damn cute and has a gorgeous soundtrack and a brilliant delivery of an anti-bullying message.
2. V/H/S // This anthology series (I love all three, yes, even the third one) is freaking great. Are all of the stories top notch? Nah, but there are so many that have wonderful, spine-tingling, perfectly executed CREEPY imagery. It’s a maelstrom of ill intent, wrapped up in nostalgia, and watching it is how I imagine Gotham residents feel. This is home, it’s scary and twisty and dangerous and life-affirming… so yeah, we might check out every once in a while, but we’ll never leave.
3. Hereditary // I watched this two weeks ago and I’m still hoooooooo boy. It is so well done and acted and UGH just people standing in corners of rooms should not be that scary, bravo, well done. It’s one I think will hold a lot of rewatch value, but um, let me stay under my delightfully soft comforter for another few weeks or so before that, okiedokes.
4. The Taking of Deborah Logan // Ohoho, this film however has some of the creepiest imagery I’ve seen ever. It starts out far too real, as a documentary crew visits a family where the elderly mother is starting to exhibit signs of Alzheimer’s and you truly start to care for the characters. And then, of course, supernatural elements are introduced and 67-year-old Jill Larson is FREAKTASTIC at her role. There are several nice trope subversions in this film as well that I won’t spoil. Just, ugh, a solid, powerfully sad film.
5. Hocus Pocus // This movie is my childhood!! I am this movie. The only way I could be more this movie, is if Binx had been transformed and trapped as a wee bear cub for 300 years. I pushed for my friends to name their Chihuahua-Maltese mixes Billy and Binx. This movie is practically perfect in every way. Yes, it’s horror, three witch sisters want to suck the lives out of all the children in Salem before it’s sunrise, otherwise, it’s CURTAINS. I just, ugh, my heart (ugh, I say! again!), it’s so much 90’s fun. I watched this movie last night with friends and 100% I would watch it again tonight if it wasn’t Rocky Horror time. It’s got Doug Jones, Bette Midler, and voice actor/Eric Matthews’ best friend Jason Marsden in it. I should stop, but I’ll leave you with some gifs.
Top Five Horror Movies That Subvert Tropes
Or Full On Defenestrate Them Because YES
1. Murder Party // I’m three for three in loving what Jeremy Saulnier (director) and Macon Blair (actor, producer) have put out. Green Room stars Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart and is a devastating survival thriller and I wrote fanfiction for it, I was that affected. Blue Ruin is a superbly written and acted crime/family drama with splashes of dark comedy. And then this first feature, ohoho, I’ve been meaning to watch it for years, and finally did very recently and it’s so FREAKING funny. A lonely dude just decides, heck it, my cat Sir Lancelot won’t get off my armchair, can’t watch my horror videos, I’ll go to this random MURDER party and see what happens. And it’s great. Weird, but great.
2. Final Girls // I love girls, I love final girls, and I love this movie. The basic premise: young girl’s struggling actress mother dies and then she and her friends are transported into her mother’s scream queen days slasher classic. So she gets to see her mum again… but it’s not really her. I’m really not a fan of slashers past the initial one (they’re repetitive and ridiculously graphic and cash cows). But movies that send up the genre? Grabby hands. And this one has such great emphasis on female friendship and literally defying stereotypes and mother/daughter bonds!! So freaking awesome.
3. Get Out // This movie is brilliant, across all facets. Daniel Kaluuya is an amazing actor. Jordan Peele packed his movie with so much symbolism and cruel beauty and in your face commentary. Actually, this is more than a horror movie, because of how real its satire is. I don’t really have the words for how important and powerful this film is.
4. The Babadook // This movie might be a little hard to get into (the pacing and it’s hit or miss if you think the child actor is well, acting well) but it’s just… it’s an affecting little Aussie monster movie, where the real monster is [highlight for spoilers] grief. And grief and depression might never truly leave you. But it’s something you can work on living with, on thriving with. You just have to feed it every once in a while. Is that message too blunt, on the nose? I don’t care. I freaking love this movie. And the monster design is fun. And the internet is a wonderful place.
5. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon // I wrote about this film for my senior Independent Study capstone thesis extravaganza in college. It’s so, so, so, so much fun. In this film’s world, all slashers are real, and we have a mockumentary afoot observing the next aspiring slasher by the name of Leslie Vernon. And it’s just hilarious and meta. About 2/3 of the way through the film, the perspective changes when the crew realizes, oh dear, he’s serious!! Robert Englund of Freddie Krueger fame and Zelda Rubinstein from Poltergeist and Scott Wilson (Herschel from The Walking Dead) have roles in this film! And I still quote some of the lines to this day, even when they don’t rightly make sense.
Honorable Mentions: A Quiet Place, Trick ‘r Treat, Hellraiser, The Witch, Suspiria, From Dusk Till Dawn, As Above So Below, Blair Witch (2016), It Follows, Coraline
Top Five Horror Books
Oh My Cthulhu There’s So Much More Out There
1. The Thief of Always by Clive Barker // If you like Coraline or The Phantom Tollbooth, then you’ll love this. The Thief of Always is just pure childhood, but it holds quite a few truths for adults as well. It just makes me content in ways similar to Spirited Away or Over the Garden Wall. Let me just reference every other thing in this blurb, lol, but seriously, it is such a mood read and it will always have a place in the lil horror chambers of my heart.
2. Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones // I just recently read this and hope to review it soon. This is such a human story and perfectly folds its supernatural elements into relatable aspects of teenage hopes and fears. It was so perfectly delivered, like a ghost story someone whispers to you, while you’re curled up safely in bed. It’s rambling but beautiful and strange and lovely.
3. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero // I am the worst (with reviewing in a timely fashion)! But let me restate that I loved this book, and its narrative style quirks, and its cast of meddling, broken, beautiful young adults. This is how you adapt a very personal nostalgic favorite and make it your own groovy, creepy, chilling thing.
4. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia // Ha, okay, I think with this entry, I’m realizing I love when the so very familiar and overdone (werewolves and vampires and teen sleuths, oh my) is revisited so very well. This is one of the best vampire stories I’ve ever read because it draws on different mythologies and gives us a world under our own that feels so very real and dangerous, that feeling that if you looked over your shoulder right now, you’d see something you shouldn’t.
5. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle // I was fortunate enough to see Victor LaValle speak and have him sign a copy of Destroyer, his graphic novel that brings together Black Lives Matter and Frankenstein, and he’s just freaking awesome. I can’t wait to read more of his work (Black Tom is my second venture) so who knows, I probably won’t be able to pick a favorite literary child of his (it’ll just be whatever book of his I’m currently reading). He couldn’t, and that was a fun lil conversation to have. I love his writing style and how immersive his imagery is and how he loves a lot, a lot of different things, and they all come together brilliantly in his novels.
Honorable Mentions: Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy, Locke & Key by Joe Hill, Books of Blood by Clive Barker, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Do you read anything that could fall within the wonderfully dark and fantastic realm of horror? Have any of my recommendations caught your eye? I have so much more to read and discover in the horror genre. Octavia Butler, Jac Jemc, Tananarive Due. Ugh, I hope my heart can take it all in soon. And I hope everyone is having a lovely October, wherever you are, and whatever (spooky) things you’re doing this month.