Tag Archives: horror

Hush Little Baby

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It’s a bit late or very, very early for Halloween but I’d like to announce that my short horror story, “Hush Little Baby”, has been published in The Haunted Traveler and can be read here The Haunted Traveler Volume 1 Issue 2

I’d also like to issue a warning, the contents of the story are of a disturbing nature.

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Horror Video Games Part 3: Resident Evil

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Resident Evil is one of my all time favorite video games series. I love abandoned places and zombies, puzzles and experiments gone terribly wrong. And the first several games in the series combine those elements well. There are a LOT of RE games and spin-offs/side games in the series, some of which I haven’t played or have even heard of before doing a little research for this post. So I’ll only talk about the first game since I could easily go on for hours.

Resident Evil/Resident Evil: Director’s Cut/ Resident Evil Archives

The first game of the series was released in 1996, but was rereleased as a director’s cut and later remade. Resident Evil Archives contains the same plot of the original but with added rooms and areas, the introduction of several new (non-playable) characters, one of whom is Lisa. Her story is a heartbreaking thread woven into the plot but she is also very, very scary.

There was an incident involving a series of cannibalistic murders in the area surrounding Raccoon City and the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactical And Rescue Team) Bravo team is sent in to investigate. After contact is lost with Bravo, the Alpha team is sent in. Set down, the team becomes separated as a pack of very strange dogs appear (if you’ve seen the movie, they look like those) and start chasing them. A handful of the members manage to make it to a mansion located nearby. Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton and Albert Wesker.

 

You can play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. Both have their own special tool that is unique to them, although (if memory serves me right) either one of them can also pick up the other’s item but it takes up space in the item carrier. And believe you me that space is at a premium. Excess items can be stored in item boxes (they look like large, wooden trunks) scattered throughout the area. Any room with an item box is a safe room. You cannot and will not be attacked there. It’s a good place to heal; exchange items and save, using a typewriter.

 

 

The objective is to the explore the mansion and the surrounding grounds, gleaning information about what has happened on memos, reading journal entries and reports. One of my favorite entries to read is the groundskeeper’s journal (again if I remember correctly). The last page reads simply: “Itchy. Tasty.”

 

 

Foes range from zombies, which are encountered almost from the first to a giant, poisonous snake that you have to fight twice. Genetically engineered creatures also appear. The Hunters are large, almost gorilla-like animals that have a very annoying and startling screech. The first time I played this game, my brother was watching me play and we experienced the first encounter with a Hunter at the same time. There was a lot of screaming involved. They remain my least favorite foe. Sharks (Project Neptune, and thank you Umbrella for giving me another reason besides Jaws to be afraid to go into the water), crows, dogs, snakes (little ones), and large spiders also make an appearance because zombies just weren’t enough to scare you out of your pants, I guess.

 

 

As you explore, you move further and further into Umbrella’s secret facility. The mansion is only a front; the out buildings housed a laboratory, Project Neptune and a mutated plant. Beneath the courtyard, a series of tunnels lead to an underground facility. It’s here that all the pieces of the puzzle regarding the nature of Umbrella’s experiments come together to form a whole, and disturbing picture. It’s also where Tyrant is housed, and he’s the game’s last boss. Tyrant stands about seven or eight feet tall (my estimate) and is muscular. He is a single-minded, hunting/killing machine, and nerve-wracking to fight.

 

 

Resident Evil is the only game in the series to have multiple endings. They depend on decisions made at certain moments. The endings and the fact that you get a closet key make the game playable several times and always fun to return to.

Horror Video Games Part 2: Dino Crisis

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Jurassic Park meets Resident Evil? There is probably a much better way of describing this game but this one works for me, since I love both RE and Jurassic Park. 😀

Made by Capcom and produced/directed by RE’s creator Shinji Mikami, Dino Crisis has a distinct Resident Evil aura. Both games have an almost claustrophobic feel to some of their environments (i.e. narrow hallways) and dark atmosphere, they also have puzzle solving elements, which I love in a game. Plus there is  science gone wrong.

Regina is the main character. She’s one member of a special forces team sent to a secret government facility to find Dr. Edward Kirk, who was thought to be dead. He was discovered during a recon mission by another SORT (Secret Operation Raid Team) member, Tom. Dr. Kirk was the head of a secret weapons team, creating something called Third Energy which ripped a hole in the fabric of time. Hence the dinosaurs and all the survival, run-for-your-life fun.

Regina and her fellow SORT team members (Cooper, Gail and Rick) parachute onto the island. During the decent, Cooper goes off course and becomes a T-Rex snack. His whereabouts remain a mystery to the others. Exploring the facility, several mangled and chewed bodies are discovered and the SORT agents are clueless as to what happened to the scientists until Regina encounters a dinosaur.

From that moment on, the game is all about surviving as you try to find a way off the island. Dinosaurs are everywhere, velociraptors roaming the hallways and a T-Rex that stalks you along outside passages and bursts through windows. Ammo and health items are key (as they are in RE), you run out of either and it could be the last mistake you make.

Four possible endings can be played out, depending on what is chosen at specific times. Each ending unlocks a new outfit for Regina, one of them a very cute, almost Pebbles Flintstone type dress complete with a bone gun. If you complete the game in under five hours, a mini game is unlocked (American version, only, I think) called Operation: Wipeout. This is a game with limited ammo in which the point is to bag a certain amount of dinosaurs during an allotted time.

Though short, Dino Crisis has just enough material to provide re-playability and has very tense moments. But it also has lighter moments, which gives it an excellent balance in my opinion. The characters are well done, each having their own personality. Gail is no nonsense, and tough as nails, Rick is more laid back and the team’s comedian while Regina is in the middle, sharing the best qualities of her teammates.

I think Dino Crisis might be a good game to start with if you’re interested in trying a survival horror game. It’s a little more panic inducing than outright scary but still an entertaining member of the genre.

 

Horror Video Games Part 1: Castlevania N64

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I am a gamer, have been since first playing games on the Atari system when I was a kid. My first horror game was Friday the 13th on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and I remember playing it with my heart in my throat. Jason, in all his pixelated glory, was a near unbeatable foe. I never could survive an encounter with him. But, I think it was Castlevania for the N64 that woke a deep love for horror games in me.

Castlevania

The opening of this game still excites me, a sweeping view of a grand castle and the strains of a haunting and melancholy tune played on a violin by Malus. There are two playable characters: Reinhardt Schneider and Carrie Fernandez. Each have their own special weapons. Reinhardt has a whip and a dagger, while Carrie has magic orbs that home in on targets and a set of rings.

They share the same adventure, trekking through the Forest of Silence, the Castle Wall and then the Villa but then diverges to separate levels unique to one character. Some levels can only be accessed through Carrie (i.e. the Underground Waterway) or Reinhardt (i.e. the Tunnels). Others are shared. There are also several different endings that can be unlocked. That makes this game have a great re-playability.

I love the atmosphere. Dark, tense and horrifying. Time slips from day to night, which is important to some aspects of the game. There is blood and implements of torture, supernatural foes and some very disturbing bosses. But there is also beauty to be found in Castlevania. One of my favorite levels is the Villa.

The Villa is reached after completing the Castle Wall area and fighting several Cerberuses. A timeworn cemetery greets you as you pass through the Villa gates, some of the tombstones still retain their epitaphs and are readable. Entering the Villa, you find yourself in a large foyer with a staircase. Exploring the house, a small indoor garden can be found. Red roses encircle the room. If the time is right, you’ll meet Rosa. She is the garden’s caretaker, responsible for the white roses. What white roses? There aren’t any but as the scene progresses, we learn the reason why. Rosa waters them with blood.

A maze lies behinds the Villa and it’s here that you meet Malus, a frightened boy that has lost his family. This part never fails to make my heart race. In order to help Malus, you must follow him through the maze while being chased by a large creature reminiscent of Frankenstein’s creature wielding a chainsaw and two hellhounds. I can still hear Malus’s scared “Help me!” and the revving of the chainsaw in my head.

As Reinhardt, one of the most memorable moments is entering the Tunnels, a labyrinth of seemingly endless pathways. Shortly after discovering a poisonous river, a scantily clad woman emerges from the murky depths, her arms chastely covering her chest. Walking toward Reinhardt, more of her is seen. Below her waist is the body of a spider. These spider women are the dominate foes of the level, gliding down from the Tunnel ceilings, skittering toward you from the shadows and spewing poison whenever they get the chance.

The Castle Center provides a harrowing challenge. To release the seal and fight the boss, two ingredients are needed. One is mandrake, the other magical nitro and it’s with the nitro that comes all the fun. One jump, one slip from an edge or a hit from the traps or enemies and you explode. Playing through this, my hands shake every time. Once the seal is broken, a massive bull awakens. As you battle him, his flesh falls from his body, leaving only a gigantic skeleton until you defeat him.

Castlevania has left a lasting impression on me. From entering the Forest of Silence to fighting the incarnations of Dracula, it has held endless fascination and frustration. At times creepy and beautiful to downright scary (there’s a statue in the Castle Center that weeps blood which then becomes a monster), it is a game I return to again and again.

 

 

 

 

7 Nights of Darkness: A Low Budget Horror Movie

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7 Nights of Darkness is one of my favorite horror movies, though those of you who are familiar with it might think I’m a little crazy. It is a low budget movie made in 2011 by Allen Kellogg who also stars as Carter (one of my favorite characters, by the way). The special effects are a little crappy (and I say that with complete love of the movie), but still effective, except for the part where Lina (strapped into the lobotomy chair) is being taunted by Randy and her face turns into a computerized greenish sort of screaming expression which I think is supposed to be the ghost possessing her. Still, I did scream at that part the first time I watched this movie.

The movie is about 6 people doing a reality show. They must spend 7 nights in an abandoned asylum and complete the given tasks in order to split the 1 million dollar prize money. It sort of reminds me of that old MTV show (I think it was on MTV) Fear, where people took cameras and ghost-hunting equipment into empty hospitals, prisons and asylums. Anyway, back to the movie.

Odd things start to happen, a bucket comes flying out of nowhere, a baby is heard crying in the middle of the night in an empty bassinette, maggots appear on pizza, and these occurrences wear on the nerves of the contestants. The above mentioned possession of Lina scares the hell out of Randy, and he tries convincing the others to leave with him. When that fails, he asks them to at least help him get Lina (once more catatonic after the brief screaming incident) out. They agree but when they enter Randy and Lina’s room, they find the lobotomy chair empty. Lina is gone. One by one, the contestants disappear until only Carter and Brooke remain.

I think the reasons why this movie is a favorite and effectively scary is that it uses several tried and true horror movie elements. Jump scares, atmosphere, tension-building and disturbing (okay, maybe unnerving is a better word) scenes. It also employs several elements that can be found in other horror movies, namely The Ring, The Grudge, with just a dash of House on Haunted Hill thrown in for good measure.

If you are a fan of straight-to-DVD movies, (or creepy ghost girls and dolls) I recommend that you check out 7 Nights of Darkness. I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed. And make sure you watch through the credits, there a bit of a surreal bonus scene that’s worth watching.

What low budget movies are your favorites?

 

The Gift

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Molly thundered down the stairs, her heart soaring with anticipation. Christmas morning had arrived. As she reached the bottom step, she jumped it and rushed into the living room. The glory of gifts awaited her, cascading out from the adorned tree. Molly squealed and dove into the treasure.

 
“You are supposed to wait for us,” her mother said with mock sternness, her eyes dancing.

 
“She’s our little monster.” Molly’s father entered the room with two mugs of steaming coffee. Mom laughed at the joke and took the cup Dad offered her.

 
“Let her open the big one first,” Molly’s mother said. Her father set his coffee aside and walked to the mountain of presents. Molly squirmed, barely able to contain her excitement. There was a rustle as her dad searched for the gift.

 
“I had forgotten how heavy this was.” Her father pushed aside the presents to unearth a long, large box wrapped in red and gold striped paper.

 
Molly didn’t wait for her father to move out of the way before attacking the present. She tore at the paper, revealing a black lacquered box. She grinned, opening the lid, and cried out, delighted.

 
Lying upon a bed of silk was girl near her own age, her face peaceful in death framed by dark doll-like ringlets. Molly had admired the girl several weeks ago when they went into the city to shop. She gazed up at her parents beaming with joy.

 
“She’s perfect,” Molly said. “I can’t wait to introduce her to the others.”

Horror Movies – Part 6

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Series, Miniseries and Anthology Movies

There are tons of great visual media out there to watch this time of year, from dark, supernatural TV series to miniseries and beyond. Here I am going to list some of my favorites, some staples in my DVD case or oft borrowed from family members willing to never again see whatever it was that was lent. (Seriously, though, I do mean to return it. Sorry it’s taking so long. 🙂 ).

Television Series

Supernatural (2005-Present). I LOVE this show! I became hooked on it since first seeing season 4 and had to go back and re-watch it from the first season. This show is dark in places, tackling subjects such as family, friends, trust and loyalty as well sacrifice and the battle between good and evil, both internal and external. There are ghosts, monsters (although I do not like their take on werewolves), pagan gods, witches angels and demons. It is also funny, containing strange but hilarious situations like my favorites episodes: Ghostfacers (Season 3), The French Mistake (Season 6), Frontierland (Season 6), Sam Interrupted (Season 5), Yellow Fever (Season 4), and Season 7: Time for a Wedding (Season 7) just to name a few. There is kick-ass classic rock music to add to the appeal. I recommend this show for those of you who enjoy a great mix of drama, horror, and comedy.

Kingdom Hospital (2004). Just 13 episodes comprise this series. While it was short lasted, it did leave an impression on me. There are two hospitals, one that is only evident to the living, conscious people and another that is home to the ghosts and a comatose patient. There are also secrets lurking among the corridors. Sadly, Kingdom Hospital was not renewed for a second season and all we have are the handful of episodes that aired in spring-summer of 2004.

Other Television series: The Walking Dead (2010-Present), The Twilight Zone (1959-1964, 1985-1989, 2002), One Step Beyond (1959-1961), Outer Limits (1963-1965, 1995-2002), Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction (1997-2002), Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996).

Miniseries

It (1990). Based on the Stephen King of the same name. This was my first ever Stephen King miniseries, it might be the first Stephen King movie I had ever seen. It scared the…it was very scary. Tim Curry is truly frightening as Pennywise the Clown. In fact, just seeing the picture of him in full make-up from that movie makes me jump and give a mental, high-pitched YIKES! This movie is probably the reason for many cases of coulrophobia, it is probably the cause of mine.  It is about a group of children living in the fictional town of Derry. They are misfits and become fast friends, each experiencing a run-in with Pennywise. All but one of them end up leaving the town and it isn’t until Mike Hanlon calls them to tell them Pennywise has returned that they remember their time in Derry. This movie has some really scary parts, one that still gets me is where Eddie is in the showers and Pennywise appears from one of the drains.

Intensity (1997). Based on the novel of the same name by Dean Koontz. I saw this when it aired and enjoyed it so much that I had to read the novel. Both are great, in my opinion. The main character, Chyna Shepherd, is staying with her friend, being invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Sometime during the night, the house is broken into and Chyna’s friend, Laura, is murdered along with her whole family. Chyna manages to escape notice by hiding in the killer’s van. From there on, Chyna is along for the ride and she discovers more and more about the serial killer. It is a fast-paced movie filled with twisting turns and edge-of-your-seat intensity.

Other miniseries: ‘Salem’s Lot (2004), Nightmares and Dreamscapes (2006), The Shining (1997), Rose Red (2002).

Anthology Movies

Trick ‘r Treat (2007). This movie has four interwoven stories in it, concerning Halloween, with a mysterious little trick-or-treater by the name of Sam who ties all the stories together. Sometimes dark and creepy and sometimes funny, it is a favorite annual watch. Not everything is as it seems in this movie. Two of my favorite tales are The Principal and The School Bus Massacre Revisited.

Creepshow (1982). This movie contains five tales introduced in comic book style. And true to its name, this movie is creepy. From the dark family drama of “Father’s Day” to the melancholy “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” and the OCD riddled fear in “They’re Creeping Up On You”, this movie has a variety of scares. I still cannot watch this movie alone and by far, the scariest one for me is “The Crate”. Trivia: This movie was written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero and played homage to E.C. and DC Comics of the 1950s. Also, little Billy, the boy at the beginning of the movie and owner of the forbidden comic is 9-year-old Joe King, also known as Joe Hill.

Other anthology movies: Tales From the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Creepshow 2 (1987), Spooks and Creeps (1999?).

This concludes my Horror Movie Series. I hope that you all enjoyed reading them as much as I did writing them. It was fun to go over my favorite movies, share them with you. And if you have any favorites that you’d like to share with me, please leave them in the comments. Thanks. 🙂

Horror Movies – Part 5

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B’s and Funny Bones  

Some B horror movies go on to have cult followings, propelling them into pop culture. Others fall flat, becoming the fodder of discount movie collections with titles like: Zombie Gore Fest or Bloodsuckers and Nightmares or some other bland, blasé title to bind the collection together. Some are good, having some merit of being unintentionally funny or very disturbing.

And then there are the movies meant to be horror-comedy but manage to pull off the comedy part very well and lack true elements of outright horror. Here are some of my favorites.

The Direct to DVD/Video Releases: So Bad…but So Good

I Am Omega (2007). A zombie apocalypse movie with tones of I Am Legend and a slew of zombie movie staples. Lone survivor, Renchard, is holed up in his zombie-proof home, having lost his wife and son in a fatal encounter with the undead several years previously. He tries on a daily basis to search the internet for survivors but is unsuccessful until he is contacted by a stranded survivor Brianna, when she is trying to contact Antioch, a band of other survivors. Renchard refuses to help her, having dotted the city with explosives. Two men from Antioch appear soon afterward. They try to convince him to help, telling Renchard that Brianna might carry the cure to the virus in her blood. That doesn’t make Renchard eager to help, so the men end up forcing him to help at gun point. This movie isn’t for everyone. I enjoy it because it is funny, unintentionally, it was meant to be taken seriously. Some acting is actually good, others not so much. If you enjoy good bad movies, you might like this one.

Monster (2008). A documentary style movie. It is set in Japan where two reporters are doing a documentary on the unusual seismic activity that has been occurring around Tokyo. As the movie progresses, aftershocks begin assaulting the city, causing chaos, and the reporters document their experiences as they traverse through Tokyo. I did enjoy it, although it lacked the depth or terrifying elements of a horror film or the trying-too-hard-this-is-serious-acting kind of hilarity. It still remains a favorite B-movie.

Both of these movies were released by The Asylum. Delving a little deeper, I discovered that The Asylum has a history of making these type of movies usually when Hollywood blockbusters come out of a similar nature. I Am Omega has a clear association to I Am Legend. Monster came out when Cloverfield did. Going down the list of productions, I was surprised (but really don’t know why I should be) to see that The Asylum had a hand in the break-out hit Sharknado.

Other straight-to-DVD/video movies: Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return (1999), The Lurking Fear (1994), The Dark (1994), 7 Nights of Darkness (2011).

 Horror-Comedies: Easy Peasy Watching Movies

Horror-comedies are great tension easers and are preferred watching for those who don’t want a constant diet of fear, blood, violence and darkness. I like to be well-balanced and I also possess a (weird) sense of humor. So to cleanse the horror palette, I turn to some of my favorite horror-comedies.

Young Frankenstein (1974). Mel Brooks is a spoof genius, in my humble opinion. Anyone who has seen this movie could probably remember that every time someone says “Frau Blucher”, horses will neigh loudly, has noticed that the candles Frau Blucher carries when showing Frederick Frankenstein to his room is unlit yet she tells him to stay within the light because “the staircase can be treacherous.”, and (one of my favorite bits) when Igor gets a brain for Frederick, drops the one specifically asked for, grabs one that he later tells Frederick came from “Abby Normal”. This movie is in black and white, giving it a classic movie feel and pokes fun at the early Frankenstein movies. Trivia: this movie was written by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks.

Beeltejuice (1988). I am a big Tim Burton fan and this is one of my favorite movies. It’s dark, quirky, visually interesting (as most of Tim Burton’s films are) and funny. A married couple die in an accident but return home, at first unaware that they are dead. They stumble across a handbook for the dead which they are unable to make sense of since it reads much like a manual.  Their country home is bought by a family from the city and that is when Barbara and Adam decide to haunt them, to reclaim their house. Unable to do the job themselves, they try to hire a ghost by the name of Beetlejuice. But things do not go the way they plan. The DVD has several episodes of the Beetlejuice animated series under the special features.

Other horror-comedies: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Ghostbusters (1984), Haunted Honeymoon (1986), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), House (1986), Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), High Spirits (1988), Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988), Dracula: Dead and Loving it (1995), Scary Movie 1-4 (2000-2006).

Horror Movies – Part 3

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Slashers: The Monsters are…Human!

These are by far the most frightening due to the fact that the creatures that are causing so much fear and killing innocent folks are OTHER PEOPLE! This area of horror can be straightforward slash and gore or more psychological in nature.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(1974). This movie was THE BIG MOVIE. It was often talked about as I was growing up, referenced by adults and older children that had seen it. Nothing was as scary as this movie because it had actually happened. It didn’t, but it became this sort of urban legend that endured due to marketing strategy. This movie has scared some people I know that don’t scare easy. All of that gave me high expectations of the movie when time came for me to watch it. I was not disappointed. It was scary. There is nothing quite like the sound of a chainsaw that can really make my blood run cold with terror. (Brief side note, one that is probably more interesting to the author of this post than to the readers: the first time I played Resident Evil 4 and encountered the village’s flour-bag-masked-chainsaw-wielding-doctor, I screamed like a little girl, dropped the controller and covered my eyes while Leon Kennedy promptly had his head removed by said chainsaw.) I do love the ending of this movie, the scene where Sally escapes in the back of a truck. I felt sorry for this girl who went through so much, and was very glad that she escaped with her life. Her companions did not fare as well.

The Strangers(2008). I don’t remember seeing this advertised at all. In fact the first time I did notice it was on a bargain shelf of a big box store. Ever on the look out for a good horror movie, I picked it up and read the back. And replaced it on the shelf. I had “seen” those movies, needless violence and gore, all for shock value. A couple of years later, I was discussing horror movies with a friend and she mentioned that there was a really good horror movie called The Strangers. We share similar tastes in scary movies so I thought that I should give the movie a proper chance. I am so glad that I did. It is one of my favorite movies. It’s subtle at times, eerie and foreboding, and atmospheric. It centers on two main characters who are going through a very difficult time in their relationship. James takes his girlfriend, Kristen, to his family cabin. It’s awkward between them and James calls his friend Mike to come pick him up since there is only the one vehicle and James doesn’t want Kristen to be stranded there. But Mike did not answer his phone and the message was left on his voicemail. Things start to get interesting when a knock sounds on the door sometime in the very early morning. It’s a young woman, her face obscured by the lighting, asking for Tamara. She leaves when Kristen and James says that she does not live there. After that, James leaves to pick up a pack of cigarettes for Kristen. From that moment on, they become plagued by a trio of masked, psychotic tormentors. Never once during the course of this movie do you see the assailants’ faces. They remain anonymous. I highly recommend this movie, it’s very well made and quite scary with little gore. Be sure to lock your doors before watching it, though. I know that the premise of this movie haunted me long after I watched it.

Them(2006, French-Romanian) Like the first two movies, this contains the “based on real events” tag, and this movie was also suggested to me by my good friend. This movie is very well made but since it isn’t in English, there is some distraction with subtitles. Lucky for me, I don’t mind subtitles (some of the movies I have really enjoyed have subtitles). It has a very surprising ending, that is all I am going to say and I know that it both shocked and horrified me. It is fast-paced, the running time is less than an hour and a half (in fact I think it is just a little over an hour total). It starts out with a mother and daughter riding along after dark. They are arguing and during the course of the argument, the mother crashes the car. There’s no cell service, and no way on that deserted county road, for them to get help immediately. They are almost playfully and invisibly attacked. The movie then goes on to concentrate on a school teacher, Clementine, and a night in her life. A night that is full of torment for her and her boyfriend. I won’t give anymore of this movie away. For those of you who loved The Strangers, this might be one you will enjoy as well. It has a similar atmosphere. I highly recommend seeing this.

Halloween(1978). The music scored by the movie’s director and co-writer, John Carpenter, is truly haunting and very appropriate for such a movie. It concerns Michael Myers who was put away when he was 6-years-old for killing his older sister. He escapes some fifteen years later to revisit the old homestead where he begins to stalk a baby-sitter, Laurie. A great movie which reminds me of those urban legends centered on the dangers of baby-sitting and “local killers escaping”. A horror movie classic, and a Halloween staple around here. It is, interestingly enough, one of the highest grossing independent films in history, and stars a then unknown actress, Jamie Lee Curtis.

Scream(1996). Very inventive while playing with common themes and elements from a long line of slasher movies. It contains a combination of horror and dark comedy and while being gory, frightening and tense, manages also to be funny and playful. There is also a wink to Freddy Kruger in one brief scene. The janitor mopping the floor is wearing a green and red striped sweater and is called either “Fred” or “Freddy” by the principal. The janitor is actually Wes Craven in costume, the film’s director. The main character is a high school student, Sidney Prescott. She is at times vulnerable and tough, and always intelligent.  I think she’s a kick-ass heroine. I remember being very impressed with Sidney when I first saw this movie. And every re-watch just reaffirms that admiration.

Other favorite slasher/human as “monster” movies:

Urban Legends(1998)

I Know What You Did Last Summer(1997) – Also written by Scream writer Kevin Williamson

Vacancy(2007)

Chernobyl Diaries(2012)

Silence of the Lambs(1991)

Love’s a Bitch

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Warning: This story has some mild adult language and themes.

 

 

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“I didn’t expect to see you here,” Joey said.

 

He stared up at his ex-girlfriend, enjoying the view. Long legs encased in tight, faded jeans and a white tank top that barely hid the fact she was wearing a lacy, black bra. He hadn’t seen her in over a year and since then, she had lost thirty pounds and dyed her mousy brown hair a vivid, fire engine red. The music blared in the tiny bar and eruptions of drunken shouts or laughter often wafted over to the other patrons. Avery grinned at Joey and sat down. The petite, overly made-up blonde beside Joey frowned and wrapped an arm around his, laying her head on his shoulder.

 

“It’s a small world, Joe.” Avery replied, setting her elbow on the table and propping her chin in her cupped palm. She stared at him with smoky, green eyes.
“Is this some sort of revenge, Ave? You look good, and you know you look good.” Joey said with a wide, rueful grin. He took a pull off his beer. She shrugged and smiled.
“If it hurts, then I’m glad, but no, this wasn’t planned. I’m meeting someone here,” Avery replied. She glanced around.

 
“Who?”

 
“Don’t matter and no one you know,” she said. Her eyes danced at his tone. Joey nodded, trying to pretend he didn’t care. “I could ditch him, Joe. We could go out to Marlowe Grove, have a little fun, like the old days.” Avery suggested. The blonde sneered at her.

 
“I thought we were done. If I remember correctly, you said that you would rather sleep with twenty sailors than be with me again.”

 
“It was thirty crackheads, actually. And you cheated on me. I was angry.”

 
“Still singing that song?” Joey asked, giving her a crooked grin.

 
“The only one I know. You’ll learn it real quick, Blondie,” Avery said.

 

The woman gave a disgusted snort and stood. “Joe, I’ve had enough of this bitch’s talk. Get rid of her or I’ll leave,” she said. She crossed her arms over her chest.

 
“Go on then, Casey.” Joey said. “At least Ave’s interesting to talk to.”

 
“You are a bastard, Joseph Mueller. I hope she gives you herpes!” She hissed through clenched teeth. She snatched her purse off the back of the chair and stormed away, weaving through the maze of tables.

 
Avery gave a whistle and chuckled. “Cute kid, Joe,” she said and snagged Joey’s beer from him. She took a swig and handed it back to him.

 
“She’s legal.”

 
“Barely, by the looks and attitude.” Avery sniggered.

 
“What’s this about?” Joey asked. He studied her, sitting back in his chair.

 
“Seeing you brings back all the good memories, I guess. I had to stop over and just say hi when I noticed you sitting here. You know, you were something.” Avery grinned. “We were something.”

 
“Yeah, we sure were.” Joey leered and chuckled at the rush of memories.

 
“For old time’s sake?” Avery asked.

 
“Why not? My evening has become free.”

 

The summer air was heavy and hot. Avery rolled down the pickup’s window to let in the wind, but it did little to cool the air. Even in twilight, the atmosphere was humid and stifling. The world was violet and blue, still kissed with the sun’s heat. Joey turned the radio on, and an old country number played. Avery sighed and began to sing along, her voice blending beautifully in with Patsy Cline’s. He glanced over at her face turned slightly away. Her fiery hair, back in a ponytail, was tugged by the rushing wind, whipping it around her face. Joey felt his chest tighten. Why hadn’t he noticed how pretty she was before? Patsy Cline gave way to Waylon Jennings. The soft, dreamy twilight faded and the sky darkened. Stars began to appear, clear, cold shards of diamonds, as they drove farther from town. Joey turned down an old dirt road, his headlights bouncing with every dip, pothole, and rut they encountered.

 
“I must have been stupid to leave you.” Joey said, driving into the grassy area before the stretch of woods. He parked the truck, the headlights cutting through the darkness and casting the pines and oaks in brilliant light. He turned to face her and found that she was smiling.

 
“You were very stupid.” She agreed. “But that’s okay, though because after tonight I think I’ll be able to forgive you.”

 
Joey scooted across the faded, holey vinyl toward Avery but she opened the passenger door and slipped outside.

 
“Remember that time we went skinny dipping?” she asked. Joey lunged through the open passenger door and Avery raced toward the trees, her laughter trailing behind her. Joey swore and grabbed the flashlight he kept in the glove compartment. He turned it on and followed Avery into the forest.

 
“You know, a lot has changed since we broke up.” Avery called from somewhere ahead of him. “I discovered that I love to run, especially at night, in the light of the moon.”

 
“Wait, Ave!” Joey shouted, panting. Joey tried keeping up but she always remained ahead of him, her voice leading him onward. He heard her laugh echo around him.

 
‘If you want me, come and get me!” Avery laughed.

 
Joey halted, trying to discern where her voice was coming from. He spun around slowly, shining his flashlight into the trees. He heard a twig snap from behind him and he turned toward the sound. More laughter echoed from the darkness.

 
“A year up north really changed me,” Avery said, her voice sounding deeper, followed by a grunt, animalistic and pained that came from his left.

 
Joey’s heart pounded against his ribcage and his hands shook as he pointed the beam toward the sounds. A growl erupted from behind him and he nearly tripped as her turned to face the creature hiding in the dark.

 
“Ave! Where are you, Avery?” Joey shouted, his voice wavering with fear. He heard a sound like a rusty laugh followed by a long, drawn out howl pierced the air. The fine hairs on Joey’s arms and the back of his neck stood on end, and his skin prickled with gooseflesh.

 

The first thing that materialized from the shadows was a large, gray paw. A twig snapped and Joey jumped, torn between fighting and fleeing. A narrow, canine head followed, the shadows slowly pulling away from its features as it emerged into the beam of the flashlight.
Its muzzle wrinkled in a snarl, the teeth long, sharp, and gleaming with saliva. Predatory eyes glared at him with hatred and triumph. Joey took a step backwards, hoping he could evade the creature. It tossed its head, growling and crept forward.

 
“Holy shit!” Joey whined. The beam jostled and bounced in his shaking hands. He turned and ran.

 
The forest was unfathomable in the darkness. He couldn’t tell if he was running toward the safety of his truck or farther away from it. His heartbeat thundered in his ears, making it difficult for him to hear if the beast gave chase behind him. The objects that were illuminated by the beam of his flashlight came into sharp focus before he streaked past them, returning them to deep shadows. The full moon rose up toward her zenith, but her glow barely reached the ground.

 
He broke from the trees, stumbling into the harsh, bright glow of his truck’s headlights. Joey paused for only a second, dragging in deep, ragged breaths. A howl echoed behind him, and he sped toward the open passenger door. He slid along the seat, reaching across and slammed the door shut just as the animal rushed for him. He rolled up the window, his sweaty hands slipping every other turn of the handle. The beast thudded against the door, rocking the truck. Joey locked the doors and curled up on the driver’s side, rolling up that window as well. The radio played Willie Nelson’s “You’re Were Always on My Mind”. The truck rocked again, the shocks squeaking as the massive wolf rammed into it. Joey whimpered and mumbled a soft prayer. The wolf lunged at the truck several more times before an ominous stillness ensued.

 
Joey crawled across the seat an inch at a time, his eyes fastened on the trees ahead. The meadow was empty. He pressed his face against the glass, his breath steaming the window. Sweat poured down his face, stinging his eyes. A metallic scraping chirped behind him and he spun around on the seat. The sound stopped. The truck jostled. Joey peered out the back glass, watching the wolf stalk across the truck bed.

 
It stared at him, tongue lolling in an open mouth. Joey knew that it was toying with him. It gave a low, rusty bark that sounded like laughter to his ears before it leapt onto the roof. Metal groaned under its weight, and Joey slid from the seat to the floor, drawing his knees up to his chest. The roof was little protection against the beast’s assault. Each swipe tore at the metal. Long, jagged holes widened until Joey could see the wolf’s face and the starry sky above. He slowly unlocked the passenger door; his hand hovered over the door handle.
The hole was large enough for the creature to slide through, but only just. Its head entered, and after a little squirming, a leg followed. Joey grabbed the handle and pulled. Cool, night air rushed over him and he started for the road, his feet pounding against the sun hardened earth. He heard the truck’s shocks squeak behind him, heard the fury filled howl but he didn’t look behind him.

 
Joey was thrown forward, his face hitting the edge of the dirt road. The force knocked the flashlight out of his hands and it rolled along, rocked gently and then stilled a few feet from him. His gasping mouth filled with earth. He felt a pressure followed by searing pain. The creature flayed his back, snapping his spine in half. Joey twitched and gulped, his eyes staring at the road that led into darkness. The wolf sat back, admiring its work, panting. Satisfied, it stood and padded away. It howled once more, returning to the forest.

 
***

 
A pair of men who had entertained the thought of fishing in Marlowe Lake stumbled across Joey’s body the next day. Dave Frens lost his breakfast behind Joey’s truck while his friend, Bill Marx, called the police. His hand shook as he reported the corpse, his eyes pinned to what was left of it. The cops came, the men were questioned and the scene investigated before deciding Joey was the victim of an animal attack. They found Avery Williams in the woods nearby, shaken but unharmed. Avery told them that she and Joey were going for a moonlit dip when they spotted the wolf. She had ran and shimmied up a tree.

 
”I can still hear his screams. He kept calling for me.” She said, her green eyes large and shimmering with tears.

 

Dan Bolens, the county’s sheriff, nodded. His was face sympathetic as he took down her statement.
“Wasn’t your fault, Avery. There are no wolves in these woods. Well, there never used to be.” He added, trying to offer her some comfort.

 
“It is my fault. I led him here,” Avery insisted.

 
Dan couldn’t think of a reply. He led Avery to his cruiser to drive her home. He peered at her in the rearview mirror, frowning as Avery sat with her face turned to gaze out the window. She hummed a Willie Nelson song, a small smile playing about her lips.