Five Sleeper Hits on Streaming

Summer is always a rough season. Summer combined with the Corona virus lockdown is almost unbearable, but being stuck inside doesn’t have to be torture. I found these five low budget gems, definitely better than expected, that should satisfy your horror movie cravings.

We Summon the Darkness (2019)
Service: Netflix

“There’s a lotta evil out there.”

For anyone’s who has ever worn a leather vest over a jean jacket, sported big feathered hair, or been bullied for listening to Ozzy or Slayer, all over the misguided belief that heavy metal is Satan’s music for devil worshippers, this one’s for you. Set in the 80s, this low-key thriller about three victims falling prey to a murderous cult with diabolical intentions isn’t particularly scary or gory, but it definitely harkens back to those old glossy B slashers that the studios used to churn out. The movie stars a gaggle of Hollywood’s brightest teen stars, led by Alexandra Daddario, and Johnny Knoxville, surprisingly right at home, playing a smarmy televangelist. The energy is high and acting is decent, honestly though, absolutely nothing else stands out here. Both the plot and the twists are totally predictable, it’s a little hard to tell if that’s by design or not. If I was one of the filmmakers, I’d get all meta and say, ‘oh yeah, it was supposed to be that way.’ People really enjoy homages, and stickin two giant middle fingers up to the real evil in the world, those big greedy corporate churches, for lying to the world about great music, using the lord’s name in vain, and besmirching religion. That, plus a bitchin’ soundtrack, and heavy metal couture, so 80s, you can almost smell the AquaNet, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night.

Spring (2014)
Service: Shudder

“I gotta make sure you’re the kinda crazy I can deal with.”

There aren’t too many well-made horror romances out there in the world, but this movie is in top ten. Spring, the story of grieving young man who finds love with a mysterious woman, while on a vacation in Italy, is just as refreshing as its name sounds. It’s simply a beautiful movie, everything from the strange Lovecraftian story to the incredible cinematography, and the dark, creepy suspense to the blossoming love between two strangers. What makes the film work, besides getting lost in charming scenery of Southern Italy, is the chemistry between the leads Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker, it’s sweet, like saccharine, yet, definitely filled with a touch of danger and mystique. Their romance moves a little fast and even seems unrealistic, but if you factor in love at first sight (hey, it can happen), and remember the vulnerability of a lonely, grieving, inexperienced young man, it becomes real easy to understand why he would be attracted to an alluring, beautiful, mystical 2000 year old creature. It’s almost sad to watch her toy with him so effortlessly, then again, the boy is as impulsive as he is lost. A violent episode in the film’s beginning shows he’s far from a perfect hero and they might just be morally matched. As for the girl and her “condition”, well, you’ll just have to go watch the movie to see if her intentions are pure or not.

Ghost Stories (2017)
Service: Hulu

“Things are not always as they seem.”

This movie about a skeptical professor and paranormal debunker is a cleverly disguised anthology from IFC Midnight, turns out to be one of the scariest movies that I’ve seen in a long time. Triple threat writer-director Andy Nyman stars as the wry skeptic investigating the disappearance of his hero mentor. Once he finds him, he is then tasked with looking into the old man’s three most disturbing cases, which brings the professor on a terrifying journey of self-discovery. Nyman, along with co-creator Jeremy Dyson based their script off their hit theater show of the same name. The writing, cinematography and performances here are all phenomenal, in particular, Martin Freeman as a haunted banker, and in a mystery role, that I won’t give away. Ghost Stories makes good work of jump scares and sports some deep Hammer vibes, paying homage to numerous horror films, so it’s not inventing the wheel or anything, just making really good use of the tools from the tool box. Sometimes, that’s all a proper horror film needs.

One Cut of the Dead (2017)
Service: Shudder (Japanese subtitles)

“One take, no cuts. With one camera from start to finish.”

Shin’ichiro Ueda’s brilliant feature debut is a bit of movie inception. The movie starts off as a seriously cheesy low-budget zombie movie about an indie film crew filming a zombie movie in an abandoned warehouse, when suddenly, they’re attacked by real zombies, much to the director’s delight. If you’re still watching by the time the credits roll about 37 minutes in, yes, you read that right, boy, are you in for a treat! As you’re sitting there wondering ‘what the hell was that?’ a new movie starts. Well, sort of, it’s a flashback, and all good things to those who wait. One Cut of the Dead isn’t really a cheesy low-budget zombie film, it’s a hilarious meta-satirical comedy about filmmaking, including the backstage antics of producing live television. There are a ton of references to zombie movies and lots of gore and screaming, of course, but, the real prize here is the storytelling. One Cut features a strong message about the collaborative filmmaking process, and the resourcefulness, courage and heart it takes to be in the entertainment business. I guarantee, by the third act, you’ll forget all about those 37 minutes wasted in the beginning and cheer on the film crew’s spirited efforts to make their zombie movie.

Blood Quantum (2019)
Service: Shudder

“Every one of those motherf****** is a time bomb.”

Blood Quantum is essentially zombies on a modern-day reservation. You get all the blood-thirsty ravaging undead and pensive natives struggling to survive day-to-day, while reconciling their anger, resentment, and fears. Writer-director Jeff Barnaby channels his inner Romero and delivers biting social commentary on real life native troubles by drawing parallels to surviving in the zombie apocalypse, thus, immediately making it a better than average zombie story. Life on the reservation hasn’t improved, but it hasn’t necessarily deteriorated either. The white man is still trying to kill us. Same shit, different millennia. A little closer to the heart, there’s nice family drama subplot involving a wayward son named Lysol, wonderfully played by Kiowa Gordon. Lysol is one complex dude. He’s angry and alluring, righteous, and terrifying, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he represents a lot of young native men across the North America. Sadly, in a film filled with quirky interesting characters, Lysol is one of the few fleshed out characters. Dropped plot points involving back stories is just one of tiny problems that all add up over time, keeping the film from being truly great. I read director Barnaby wore several post production hats to ensure he told the story he wanted to tell, but I can’t help but wonder what the film could have been, if only it had a bigger budget and better editing. Despite its obvious flaws, this is a solid horror movie with nice cinematography, comical one-liners, ranging from cheesy to endearing, and plenty of zombie action and bloody carnage.

Return to Spooky Season – Happy October

oct shadows

October 1st is only a few days away and it’s one big Halloween party all day, every day, around here. This season, I’m encouraging people to do two things, 1) be Green for Halloween, and 2) take the Halloween Pledge, a pledge to practice one old Halloween tradition and introduce a random new tradition into your celebrations this year.

Before I share the schedule of festivities coming in October, I have an exciting new development to report, Halloween Haiku has new message boards! You can access the forum by clicking on the spinning pumpkin on the right sidebar of the home page.

The forum hopefully will be a place where we can have a little fun together.  There’s going to be Halloween trivia, scary movie trivia, along with random chat and silliness, and a special contest on Halloween Day.

pumpdance

Halloween 2019 Schedule 

Monday Macabre

Every Monday, you’ll find spine-tingling haiku so scary, you’ll sleep with the light on

Tuesday Terror

Every Tuesday, we’ll be celebrating the best of horror cinema, dug up from the Hollywood Vaults

Wicked Art Wednesdays

Every Wednesday, I’ll be showcasing art from five of the most brilliant Halloween artists in the industry

Throwback Thursdays

Every Thursday, we’ll share in the memories of vintage Halloween and Halloween traditions

Friday Fright Nightcaps

Every Friday, you’ll find chilling adult cocktail recipes from the other side

Sinister Saturdays

Every Saturday, I’ll be serving up decadent desserts and savory Halloween recipes so sinful, you might need an exorcism on November 1st.

Poe Sundays

Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and read the chilling classics of the Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe

October 31st – Halloween Haiku Challenge

On Halloween day, people will have the opportunity to post their own original, spooky haiku for a chance to win a prize bag, valued over $25 (more details to be announced).

pumpkin line 1


31 Days of Halloween (on Social Media)

Instagram – Halloween Haiku Photo Challenge
Join us in posting cool pics to match the #HalloweenHaikuPhotoChallenge this October.  Don’t worry about missing any days. It’s Halloween, you should be out having fun. You can post anytime, just remember to use: #HalloweenHaikuPhotoChallenge

Halloween Photo Challenge (1)

Twitterween
Halloween Haiku is a proud member of the Samhain Society, and I’ll be happily sharing the Halloween fun and festivities of my fellow community-goers. Everyone has been working so hard and I’m super stoked to join in the celebrations.

Pinterest
Check out our boards for more Halloween fun ideas and inspiration. We’ve got at least 5 new boards!

Wishing you all a fun, safe and memorable, haunting season!

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6 More Things to Do When It’s not Halloween

Happy Walpurgisnacht! We are halfway to Halloween and another long, hot, miserable summer is just around the corner. Last year, around this time, I shared with you 10 Things to Do When It’s Not Halloween.  Sometimes, we tend to focus on the bad so much that we forget to concentrate on the good, like the fact there are plenty of Halloweenesque activities to do to keep us happy until October.

Plant a pumpkin

The Pumpkin is the ultimate symbol of Halloween. It’s the heralded icon. The shepherd of the holiday. One could argue it’s the whole reason that Halloween even exists. Planting your own pumpkin can be rewarding in a number of ways. For starters, you’re doing something nice for the environment. Your pumpkin can be insecticide and chemical-free. Second, it might be more economical than buying a pumpkin at the store, particularly if you live in rural areas. Next, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that gardening relieves stress. Watching your little pumpkin grow makes you happy. That alone is totally worth it. Next, you can brag about it on your Instagram and social media. Create a photo album tracking your pumpkins growth. Lastly, you’ll have an amazing pumpkin to carve into a jack-o’-lantern by Halloween!

The Farmer’s Almanac has all the info you need on growing pumpkins:
https://www.almanac.com/plant/pumpkins

bonnie plants pumpkin
©Bonnie Plants

Paint Halloween ceramics

Lemax and Department 56 are awesome, no doubt about it, but they’re also a little pricy.  Why not try and create your own Halloween village? Everything you need, ceramics, materials, and the tutorials that teach DIYers how to create certain looks with paint, can all be found online. Likewise, you can find paint, brushes and other materials at your local arts and crafts stores. You can paint your own ceramic haunted house and knick-knacks, or add new items to storebought villages piecemeal.

Bonus: Painting ceramics can be a soothing way to relax and hone in your concentration skills

Watch all 1225 episodes of Dark Shadows

ABC’s dark gothic soap opera Dark Shadows featuring vampires, witches, ghosts, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, aired 30-minute episodes on weekdays from 1966-1971.

The first season sluggishly produced efficient melodrama, romance, and the usual family squabbles, as found in a typical daytime soap, until introducing the charismatic, creepy, and somewhat sexy character of Barnabas Collins, a centuries-old vampire played by Jonathan Frid. From that point, the show became his show and Frid’s portrayal of the powerful Barnabas helped boost audience viewership and eventually, made him a horror icon.

 

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Create your own Halloween florals

You can certainly wait for fall to buy some artificial autumn florals or black roses, but it’s always been my belief that some fake flowers are “fuller” than others, during different times of the year. This is certainly just an opinion, based on no facts whatsoever, but if we always paid attention to facts, we’d have no fun at all!

For those of you looking to dye real flowers black, the good people over at Florist Chronicles have put together one of the most comprehensive tutorials on how to create black flowers that I’ve ever seen. Check it out: www.floristchronicles/2011/create-black-flowers

black vase Steph O Rama
©Steph O Rama

Create a spooky centerpiece

After you create some black florals, you may need a haunted vase to put them in. You can turn any dollar store vessel into a gothic or Halloween centerpiece with some black paint, a glue gun, some fake spiders and other Halloween objects.

spray painted vases paige taylor evans
©Paige Taylor Evans

Check out this amazing easy to make spider vase tutorial over at KS Craft Shack:
http://www.craftshackchronicles.com/dollar-store-crafting-spider-halloween/

spider vase ks craft shack
©KS Craft Shack

Need more ideas, check out the Halloween florals board on Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/halloweenkristy/gothic-halloween-florals/

Visit a cemetery

Cemeteries are lovely quiet little places, open all year around. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting under a tree and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature of a cemetery in the springtime, a time when the flowers and trees are in full bloom. There’s something meaningful, even bit ironic, about so much life flourishing among the dead. Just when you thought your little goth heart didn’t like pastels.

Go early and you’ll have a chance to photograph the gravestones before the morning mist burns off, or try in the late afternoon to catch those eerie shadows falling over the tombstones.

springtime greenwood cemetery
Springtime ©Green-wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY