Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Horror Stories Worth Your Time

Halloween is polarizing. Some people hate it. I don't know why. It's easily one of my favorites.

This is the magical day where everyone gets to be as big of a skank as they want and nobody cares. Gay boys take their first baby steps out of the closet with ironic (?) drag. Schools set off massive A.D.D. bombs (we play costumed volleyball, even in the bullshit testing era). Sugar binging is encouraged. We shed our inhibitions. I think it's great.

One of my favorite parts is classic horror movies coming back on on-demand. I thought I'd recommend some from the last twenty years or so that might've flown under your radar.

Cabin Fever - Bunch of kids go up in the woods. I know, but stay with it. They turn away a stranger with a juicy case of flesh-eating bacteria, accidentally setting him on fire in the process. Their plan is to leave as soon as they can without telling anyone what happened, until they start to come down with symptoms. It plays masterfully on blue state fears of redneck America, and man's inhumanity to man is always scarier than sci-fi.

Moment of Satanic Zen: A boy with a crush has to euthanize the girl he's loved for years, with a shovel.

The Descent - A group of thrill-seeking female friends go on a spelunking adventure in a remote cave system. They're attempting to heal emotionally one year after an accident killed one woman's child and husband. Another member of the group was cheating with the husband as well. I haven't been more scared for a group of people BEFORE they entered the kill zone since the Torrence family took that long ride up to the Overlook Hotel.

Moment of Satanic Zen: When the jilted widow gets her revenge in a way you might not expect.

Sharp Objects - Moving to books for a second, it doesn't get better than Jillian Flynn if you want insight into female evil. The subtle abuse the women and girls in this book inflict on one another is more frightening than anything Jason Vorhees ever did to a camper in the eighties. When self-mutilation becomes a form of revenge, gentlemen, we can only recognize we're out of our league and back away slowly.

Moment of Satanic Zen: Flynn reveals a killer like no one else.

28 Days Later - The latest return of the living dead started here. One of the best aspects of a good horror movie is fuzzy picture quality, giving the impression of some dude with a camera who happened to stumble in while awful shit went down. (Best example: the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre) This movie has the snuff film quality, plus sprinting zombies. The Infected are hacking, guttural track stars. Their lack of immoratlity makes them more frightening. They launch themselves through windows with no regard for pain or self-preservation, simply because they absolutely can't wait to get you sick.

Moment of Satanic Zen: When Cillian Murphy's character has to become just as infected as the infected to save Naomi Harris (and that iconic theme music starts).

Event Horizon - Sci-Fi Horror can go from scary to silly without careful direction. Event Horizon stays scary. The titular ship is designed to tear a hole in space time, allowing for inter-galactic travel. Unfortunately, it disappears. When it reappears, a rescue team is sent to investigate, and they slowly realize the ship literally went to hell and came back alive. Laurence Fishburn's overacting is scary for the wrong reasons, but Sam Neill more than makes up for it as the ship's demented Dr. Frankenstein.

Moment of Satanic Zen: While begging forgiveness from the ghost of his neglected, suicidal wife, Sam Neill tears his own eyes out. Later, after setting a timer to send the ship back to hell, he informs Fishburn, "Where we're going, you won't need eyes to see at all." I would've pooped my trousers and sobbed like a little girl who dropped her lolly.

So everyone enjoy a good scare. And check out my previous post for the link to my short stories on Amazon. A few of my stories deal with more tangible horrors: self-inflicted emotional evil, religious evil, and corporate evil. Sleep tight!