Posts Tagged ‘movies’

We’re baaaaaaaack!

Last year, I stepped up my #31DaysofHorror (watching a horror movie every day in the month of October) experience by adding bingo to the game. This year, I am returning to the same haunt with a new board, fresh with different horror movie tropes and cliches!

Will I top my record of 50 horror movies last October? Will some devoted soul beat me to bingo blackout? Join in and find out! Please, read the rules below, download the board and play along!

31 Days of Horror Bingo Rules:

  1. Each day of October, watch a different horror movie. You are allowed to catch up by watching multiple movies in one day.
  2. For each movie, cross out a tombstone on the board. Only one horror cliche per movie!
  3. Blackout all 24 spaces in the 31 days.

That’s it. Simple. Let’s see who can overdose on horror movies first!

 

 

UPDATE: I made it! Blackout by October 24th. Here’s how the tombstones fell:

Foreshadowing: Who’s Watching Oliver
Creepy doll: IT
Improvised weapons: You’re Next
Revenge: Revenge
Bait: Upgrade
Gratuitous nudity: Tenebre
Reanimation: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Look behind you: Delirium
Ghost story: Sleepy Hollow
Rural horror: Never Hike Alone
Unrealistic death: Scream
Flashbacks: Terrified
Haunting: The Witch in the Window
Disfigured killer: The Dark
Dream sequence: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Aliens: Aliens
Stupid victim: After.Life
Final guy: Get Out
Ahab: Halloween 1978
Let’s split up: Halloween 2018
Pet scare: Pet Sematary
Bad acting: Scream 4
Urban horror: Bones
Stoner: The Thing

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
goodreads.com/author/show/11032481.Christina_Bergling
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling
instagram.com/fierypen/
amazon.com/author/christinabergling
Advertisements

In the month of May, I participated in the ABCs of Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Halloween. Each day, I selected a horror movie I had not seen to match the letter of the alphabet for that day.

So allow me to share my new-to-me horror alphabet from May.

A is for Audition
Visually poignant and confusing in the best and most disturbing way
B is for The Bye Bye Man
Boring, cliche, and full of poorly executed tropes
C is for The Children of the Corn
Essential. How had I not seen this yet?
D is for Dig Two Graves
Delightful spin on the exhausted revenge subgenre
E is for Excision
Fell infinitely short of expectations
F is for Frontiere(s)
Some wonderful combination of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hostel
G is for Ginger Snaps
Fun ride with angsty, teenage goths
H is for House of the Devil
Gorgeous throwback that left me bored
I is for Irreversible
Irreversible and haunting in every way, brilliant but brutal
J is for JeruZalem
Winged zombies, stupid
K is for Kaw
Fantastically horrendous, the Birdemic of horror
L is for The Lazarus Effect
An excellent cast in a passably entertaining story
M is for Maggie
A slow burn twist on the post apocalyptic zombie trope
N is for Near Dark
Bill. Paxton.
O is for The Open House
A spectacular fail at commentating on random crime
P is for Phenomena
Classic Argento, delivering cringe-worthy gore before the credits
Q is for A Quiet Place
High tension suspense in an interesting premise
R is for Raw
Beautiful and disgusting, a wonderfully real take on cannibalism
R is also for Revenge
So good I needed a second R! Gorgeous and gory, how rape revenge stories should be told
S is for Slither
Disgusting and hilarious
T is for Terrifier
Amazing practical FX gore, deeply disturbing and so much fun it had us screaming
U is for Under the Shadow
Slow and uneventful
V is for The Vault
An awkward insertion of horror into a bank heist movie
W is for Wrong Turn 2
As awful as I knew it was going to be
X is for XX
Four frightening trips into female horror
Y is for Yeti:
Curse of the Snow Demon
Ridiculous and hilarious, best of the worst
Z is for Zombie
Necessary zombie watching, subgenre defining

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
goodreads.com/author/show/11032481.Christina_Bergling
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling
instagram.com/fierypen/
amazon.com/author/christinabergling

I apologize for the break in the regular posting. My family and I went to England for the holidays; then I became slightly consumed by writing book #3. I have finally reached the point in the story that has me excited and engaged–murder.

2015 vanished in the blink of an eye. I am officially old, that specific age where time starts to disappear faster than I can register. I now understand what my parents were always saying about how the years fly by. The years are flying, and 2015 was the fastest yet.

IMG_1367

Let us take this moment, though, to review the fruits of the horror genre we all experienced in 2015. Please feel free to comment with your own favorites.

Horror Movie

I did not see even a fraction of the horror movies released in 2015 that I wanted to, though I did watch a robust library of horror over the months. I reviewed 39 horror movies on MoviePilot over the year. This left me 13 shy of my goal, but there is always 2016.

If I limit my 2015 horror movie ingestion to only those films released in 2015, horror comedy ended up ruling the year. Historically, horror comedy has been perhaps my least favorite subgenre under the horror umbrella. However, all my favorite 2015 horror movies are horror comedies. Maybe I was feeling more lighthearted this year; maybe my compromising with my viewing partners brought me to the lighter side. Or maybe the subcategory is growing on me.

I even find myself currently penning a horror comedy novel. What has become of me?

goosebumps4

My favorite horror movies released in 2015 are:

krampus

Nostalgia played a huge role in nominating Goosebumps and The Final Girls, particularly the former. Krampus secured my heart by infecting the joyous holiday of Christmas with fear. Yet all are clever and/or well executed; all manage to strike the crucial balance between horror and comedy, a balance of which I am particularly demanding.

I did also watch a fair amount of non comedy horror over the year, but much of that was horror education like Hellraiser and Re-animator, but since this list is restricted to those released in 2015, horror comedy wins!

finalgirls

Tell me what I missed, what movies I should add to my list for 2016.

Horror TV

The Walking Dead rules this category. Obviously. Always does. Mostly, I enjoyed the offerings of my regulars. The Walking Dead, Penny DreadfulAmerican Horror Story. However, the best new additions were Scream Queens (horror comedy again!) and Ash vs. Evil Dead (also pretty much horror comedy–what is happening to me?). If I had to select the series that got the most into my heart and my head during the year, I would declare Penny Dreadful the winner. The last season crawled inside my head, and I sit rigid on the edge of my seat for next installment.

Penny_Dreadful

Horror Book

I did not get to read in 2015. I planned to; I wanted to. Instead, I devoted any spare time I could scrape up to writing. I managed to sneak one book on the plane to England, but it was not horror. I went classic and finally read Venus in Furs. It was amazing! It is the BDSM book everyone should be reading instead of 50 Shades of Grey. The terms sadist and masochist actually come from the author’s name: Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. I devoured it in a sitting.

venusinfurs

Tell me what I should be reading when I reclaim some of my own spare time.

Horror Experience

The Stanley Film Festival was an amazing horror experience. We crammed in as many movies and parties as we could, yet I still do not feel like we even grazed the surface. I loved being able to see such a variety of films before the leaped into the market. I loved being able to see and hear from the actors and filmmakers. I loved feeling like an active member of the horror community. Then, there was, of course, staying in the Stanley Hotel itself. Potentially the best birthday present I have received to date.

I would love to say that I would be returning to the festival this year, but it does not appear to be in the cards. I am certain, however, that I will find myself there another year in the future. Most likely, more than once.

stanleyhotelred-logo

What were your horror favorites in 2015?

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

I have written about it before. I wrote a confession of my past, present, and future readings for Confessions of a Reviewer. I reviewed the Goosebumps movie on MoviePilot. Yet doing both those things has but the examination of my horror influences in my brain. My thoughts swirl and fixate on the horror writings that have made an impression on me.

The Goosebumps movie really unearthed these strings in my mind, resurrecting a menagerie of my childhood monsters onto the silver screen in front of me. I had been so anxious and so curious to see how Goosebumps would take the screen. I read at least 50 of the books in my youth and watched any of the TV adaptations I came across. I did not know how they could capture the series instead of just capturing one plotline.

I was pleasantly surprised by the cleverness of the plot. I will not regurgitate my review here again, but the amalgamation pleased me and permitted me to wallow in my own nostalgia. The same way I basked in flashbacks when I dug out all my paperback copies to show my daughter.

goosebumpsgenerations

(I love her little ermahgerd face, btw.)

Goosebumps were definitely my first definitive horror influence. Something about them spoke to me. I devoured the books whole as soon as they showed up in the store. I found myself transfixed by the fear, attracted to the light shade of darkness. Reading the books felt like home.

My horror ingestion just grew and evolved from there, but Goosebumps and Halloween were the start, the seed in the perverse dirt of my mind.

13082015093702

Goosebumps taught me to put fear and horror in the every day, even my childhood life.

The next logical progression was Stephen King. I followed the well-trodden mainstream path of horror development. King, like R. L. Stine, provided an exhaustive library to choose from.  I dove in as deep as my adolescent eyes could take me.

Different Seasons taught me to infuse stories with deep, relateable emotion. Gerald’s Game taught me to fill subtly with fear and tension.

From there, I sampled far and wide. I read the classics. I began indulging horror movies and their various adaptations. I dabbled in other genres. I majored in English and took endless literary classes. Back before I had children, I read ravenously and rapidly. A couple other non-horror influences stick in my mind.

Chuck Palahniuk taught me how fascinating the ugliness of reality is. In 7 Types of Ambiguity, Eliot Perlman taught me about the power of perspective.

A little piece of everything I have read or watched is with me when I create, whether I loved it or hated it. I may emulate aspects of what I love, violently avoid reminders of what I hate. Regardless, I am affected; I am influenced.

ghostbook

I enjoy rekindling these influences. It feels like taking a stroll through my old mind. For brief seconds, I feel like I am that version of myself again, that child, that teenager. And I look forward to evolving through ingesting new, varied influences in the future who can teach me something about myself that I have not yet seen.

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

I do not usually post here or write about the happenings in Hollywood, even when particularly influential figures pass on. However, I am making an exception in the case of horror master Wes Craven.

wes_craven_photo

Wes Craven made so many masterful horror movies and greatly shaped and influenced the genre. Everyone knows that. For me, it was all about Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street.

wescravenmask

I have written about it before. Scream was my very first horror movie. At age 12, after my parents got divorced, this was my introduction to the genre. I loved it instantly, both the movie and the genre. Scream scared me and also made me laugh; it was fun to watch.

wescravenglove

Nightmare on Elm Street blew my mind. I saw it much later than its release, well into my adulthood. It filled a hole in my horror heart that I did not know was there. Again, fear perfectly edged with humor. Again, just perfect entertainment for me. I watched with my jaw on the floor and had nightmares about it for nights afterward.

Of the many contributions Wes Craven made to the horror genre, these were the two that changed me. I will greatly miss his influence.

wescravenquote

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

When I embarked for a weekend of horror movies at the Stanley Film Festival, I had all of these grand ambitions of spare time. My children would not be in attendance, so surely, I would be drowning in surplus hours. I was going to go for mountain runs; I was going to blog, review, Facebook, and tweet in real time; I was going to work on my next horror novel.

Very few of these things actually happened. Instead, my waking moments were utterly and wholly consumed by horror movie viewing. Fitting for a horror film festival.

So I devoted myself to the cause and emerge now to finally recount the experience.

IMG_0226_edited

Estes Park is gorgeous. I am Colorado born and bred, so I am an insatiable sucker for a beautiful mountain town. Something in the looming peaks speaks to me deep, in my bones. I could have simply vacationed there, could have been content visiting the famed Stanley Hotel, yet coupled with my resounding love of horror, I was euphoric.

IMG_0246_edited
Attending the Stanley Film Festival marked my first film festival experience. I had no idea what to expect. My exceptional partner secured the trip to celebrate my birthday.

IMG_0229_edited

The Stanley Hotel is a character within itself. I could see how the setting, how that personality could inspire Stephen King, how it still has a draw for horror and paranormal enthusiasts. It was like a pilgrimage. The hotel is, at its essence, creepy. The walls and floors themselves creak; the physical building speaks and whines. It is not a faceless, renovated, cookie cutter hotel you can stay at in any American city.

I loved it.

IMG_0240_editedWe braved the fury and fickleness of mountainous Colorado spring weather as we waited for the initial screening. Huddled under our daughter’s rainbow polka dot umbrella, we felt decidedly un-horror, but it was worth the freezing pelting wait.

Cooties was the opening night screening (Cooties review here). Cooties was potentially the perfect film to kickoff the festival for us. It managed to be funny yet still scary and wildly entertaining throughout. My partner and I laughed out loud, and I flinched on multiple occasions.

Directly after the screening was the opening night party. The party was a strange experience. I am a cinematic civilian, so it was surreal to me to be in arm’s reach of celebrities or actors like Elijah Wood. As much as I wanted to gush over each and every one of them (and also hand them a copy of my book), I forced myself to keep a quiet and respectful distance.

The party was oddly low key. The music was loud, but the crowd was more sedated. People stood stoic with drinks around tables. It only became more lively when the chicken nugget eating contest began (or perhaps after we left).

20150430_233541

On Friday, the first full day of the festival, it became an assault of movies. We went to screenings only to exit the theater to get back in line for the next film. There was no time for eating or sleeping. My partner and I took turns fetching beers (free from the Chiller Lounge) as we stood in these long and slow lines.

IMG_0244_edited

We began Day 2 with The Treatment (The Treatment review here).  This was not the wisest of selections for us. As parents, a movie so graphically about child rape and abuse was hard to take. It was horrific but not in the way that we usually enjoy the horror genre. The film left us somewhat beaten and depressed. Afterward, all I wanted was another beer and to watch anything else.

Thankfully, Goodnight Mommy was only a line’s wait away (Goodnight Mommy review here). I enjoyed the film, and it made me forget (somewhat) The Treatment. Nothing could truly ever wash it from my mind. However, at this point, I began to question the Stanley Film Festival’s intentions when it came to children. Cooties had killer monster kids; The Treatment was all about child abuse; Goodnight Mommy brought us back to more killer kids.

Where we had intended to watch four movies in the second day, we dropped one from our roster. We could not make it between theaters (there were three around Estes participating in the festival) in time to line up. Instead, we capitalized on the opening to actually eat food.

IMG_0247_edited

We returned to truly cleanse our palates with the midnight movie: Deathgasm (Deathgasm review here). Deathgasm was mindless, stupid, crude horror comedy. While it was not my particular flavor, my partner thoroughly enjoyed it, and I was relieved to have my brain realigned and distracted after the earlier trauma.

By Day 3, we were orientated to the routine. We fell into a horror viewing rhythm and started to recognize faces around the festival. Various actors, directors, producers, and our many friendly line mates.

Once again, we did not make the optimum choice for our first movie of the day. We opted for the documentary The Nightmare (The Nightmare review here). While I found the chronicle of sleep paralysis sufferers intriguing, my partner was relatively bored. Both of us agreed we would have rather invested our festival view on another selection.

The Invitation and The Boy made up for our slow start (The Invitation review here) (The Boy review here). Back to back quality horror, broken up only by more time queued up outside the theater. Both were slow burns. Both followed in the anti-child theme with a dead child in one and another killer kid in another. Consistency is important. What matter was how much we enjoyed them both.

CameraZOOM-20150502014108375

By this point, as much as we had enjoyed the many movies we had been offered, I was a bit burned out on slow burn, artsy, indie horror. I was ready for something a little more traditionally entertaining.

Enter the closing night movie. The Final Girls was potentially my favorite of the festival, though the competition with Cooties is fierce (The Final Girls review here). Like the opening film, The Final Girls was fun to watch in a full theater of horror lovers. And it was so very genre savvy and appropriate. It made me happy to watch it, right there on the grounds of the Stanley Hotel.

At this point in the festival, I began oscillating between wanting the festival to continue and being overstimulated and ready to relent. I missed food and sleep and exercise. My brain was awash of horror. Yet, at the same time, I loved it.

The final day arrived either way.

We attended the bloody horror brunch, which had themed food that could be served at a Halloween party and table decorations devoted to great horror films. At the end, they distributed some of the awards from the weekend. It was fun, and the drinks were strong.

20150503_101803

20150503_101905

Then we concluded our weekend and our viewing with the Pumpkin Pie Show. Amazing. The show consisted of four live monologue performances. The actors were brilliant; the stories rich and appropriate. It was the perfect way to end our time.

IMG_0231_editedIn the end, I am glad we attended the Stanley Film Festival when we did. It is on the cusp of becoming too big for itself. The schedule offered more to do than you could ever indulge. We missed out on multiple movies, the virtual reality experience, the immersive game, and yet we took no time off. There was very little time to eat or sleep, mainly due to the time that had to be committed to waiting in line to obtain seats to the screenings.

I am not sure how any of these issues could be resolved. The festival is popular, rightfully so, and will only become more so, but the Stanley Hotel venue will never be able to accommodate more patrons. The city of Estes Park will also probably not have more or larger theaters to offer.

Success is a double-edged sword.

I do know I hope to attend again. I also may venture out to check out the horror festival in Telluride, Colorado in October. I enjoyed the experience, the environment, and the people. I am glad I was initiated at the Stanley.

While I attended as a horror and movie lover, I also did sprinkle in a bit of my horror writing. On the scenic drive up through the mountains, I sat in the passenger seat, typing away on my third book.

More importantly, I left a couple copies of my book, Savages, around the Stanley Hotel for other festival attendees, patrons, hotel staff, or ghosts to enjoy. I was not there to pimp myself, but I could not help but leave a part of my own horror behind.

CameraZOOM-20150503153432417

I was also recognized for the first time, which was another surreal experience. The first in my author career. I appreciate that he managed to pull it off in an appropriately creepy and awesome way.

Screenshot_2015-05-04-13-44-10

My weekend at the Stanley Film Festival was amazing. While I was tired and hungry at times and disappointed in the limitations of the scheduling at others, it sated my ravenous horror appetite for the time being and stimulated so many parts of my dark little mind.

Horror Imagery

Posted: March 11, 2015 in horror
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(I have been woefully slacking on this blog, I know. Life surged up and kept me overly distracted. Now, back to the important business of horror…)

One scene. One image. One thing that truly affected you. Widened your eyes, caught your breath in your throat, brought your hand over your mouth. A picture that climbed under your skin and made a home in the back of your brain.

Something that haunted you long after the image faded from your retinas.

I watched Hellraiser for the first time last week. I know, I was gravely deficit in my horror history by not indulging it until now. Yet at my more mature age (I was 4 when it was originally released) and my expanded horror expertise, I feel like I could more fully appreciate the horror brilliance of it.

hellraiser

And the brilliance of Hellraiser lies mostly in its imagery. Frank, from the point of his resurrection onward, is visually impressive. His initial resurrection scene enthralled me. His creature clawing after his victim was completely unnerving. I was dazzled, and the film lingered with me.

hellraiser4

That effect, that successful bit of horror got me thinking about horror as a genre. To me, the ultimate purpose of media in the horror genre is to evoke a fear-based reaction in the audience. By definition, what you see (whether with your eyes or with your mind) should be frightening or disturbing.

When I craft horror, I definitely (attempt to) lean heavily on these ideas. With my book, Savages, I aim to make my reader uncomfortable with the terrifying savagery hiding under our humanity, personifying it with a crucified sacrifice. With my book, Ode to Master (working title, soon to be retitled!), I climb into vivid detail of skin removal, hoping to make my audience’s skin cringe at the words.  With any luck, I am successful, but I rely heavily on creating horror through images.

When I think back through the library of horror exposure in my memory, there are a few stark images that stay with me.

From reading horror, it is Gerald’s Game. Unfortunately, my brain tends to offload the details of a book very quickly after I finish it. I can remember if I liked it or if I thought it was amazing, but the specific scenes fade away. I wish they did not, but gray matter real estate seems to be at a premium these days. Yet one image from Gerald’s Game lingers with me. Jessie is handcuffed to the bed after her husband dies. Eventually, she lubricates her hand with her own blood to attempt to free it from the cuff. Complete with skin peeling. My hands crawl just typing the glimpse. That picture lives in my nerves.

geraldsgame

I have seen numerous horror movies, good and bad. I have cringed; I have laughed. I could probably list plenty of disturbing scenes and gory flashes. Yet the first one that comes to mind is the baby removal scene in Inside. Thankfully, I had not had children by the time I viewed said scene because, after two babies, I cringe at the mere recall of that bloody mess. Again, I feel the memory of the image in my body.

inside

These are just two, the first two on the crest of my brain. Yet they are burned deep behind my eyes.

What horror image haunts you best?

(The delightful people at Man Crates [mancrates.com], where you can get an array of manly kits and sets in wooden crates, ammo cans, or tactical bags [including zombie survival!], asked me what I would need to survive a Halloween movie. I stepped it up and went for the full horror franchise.)

So you lived through a horror movie. Congratulations. So have 1-3 people in almost every horror movie ever from the awful to the awesome. If you are going to prove you have true Halloween and horror chops, you have to make through an entire horror franchise, or in the least to the closing film (until they reboot it 10 to 20 years later).

Surviving a horror franchise is not for the faint of heart. At a minimum, it would require scraping through at least three full length films. If you are aiming to live up to Laurie in the Halloween movies or Sidney in the Scream series, you are going to have to condition, prepare, and (most importantly) fight.

sidney_scream

laurie_halloween

Cardio

Not unlike Zombieland, the #1 rule is cardio. Because you are going to be running your ass off, movie after movie, up misadvised staircase to tripping in a field. You need to be in top physical condition to sprint and run and hide from the serial killer at your heels, who will always walk faster than you can run without fail.

rule1cardio

Take it easy now, though. A horror movie franchise is a marathon not a sprint. You cannot go blowing your whole cardio load on the first chase sequence; you are sure to end up dead before the next reel that way. Work on your interval training so that you can sprint away in an emergency but always keep running through script after script.

Helpful supplies: Workout DVDs, heart rate monitor

Hydration

Closely linked to cardio, you need to take care of your body, and most importantly, you need to hydrate. Could you really run through a minimum of three films, consistently stumbling at the most inopportune moment, hurdling the bodies of your fallen castmates without so much of a swig of water? Sure, the movies make it look like their characters can do it, but the smart know better. Hydrate, snack, definitely sleep between features. In short, keep your body in peak physical condition.

Helpful supplies: Hydration pack or water bottles, iodine tablets for filtration in a pinch

Sin Avoidance

We all know the old paradigm for horror movies: Those who have sex die; those who drink or use drugs die. Basically, those who sin are guaranteed a death scene. Granted, those commandments have largely been evolved from since Scream called out the genre on their existence. However, you might as well be safe because you are going to need all the help you can get. Not to mention, sins like sex, drinking, or drugs can deplete the muscles and dehydrate you or weaken your mind, all making you a much easier target. You may be able to sneak out of one horror movie with these infractions, but they are bound to catch up to you in a whole franchise.

Helpful supplies: Bible or other code of conduct (depending on who is defining “sin” in the series)

Survival Skills

When you think horror movie, you might think big-breasted woman running (falling) stupidly as she flees a slow-walking killer. Yeah, those victims all die. Those victims do not even get to see the first set of credits roll by. Sure, those characters have their place, nameably dying before you to keep you alive, but you need to do better. You need to develop some survival skills.
Think You’re Next. Sure, that’s not a horror franchise (yet), but if anyone would survive a long-standing horror franchise, it would be Erin. If it is a tactic that could help you survive the apocalypse, there is a good chance it could help you survive a horror franchise. Plus, you never know what the set will be in the next film. Adapt and overcome!

erin_yourenext

The ability to hide or camouflage yourself is paramount. Running and cardio are great and necessary, but how monotonous would it be if that was all you did for multiple movies? You also need to be able to evade and avoid. Punctuate your sprints with an ultimately unsuccessful hide in a closet. Sure, it did not work, but at least you caught your breath as you deafened the audience with your panting.

Strategy is also key. You do not just want to be running around in a panic, running up stairs or jumping into rooms with no secondary exit. Think! Think beyond your primal fight or flight instincts and actually make decisions that will keep you alive. Maybe practice some yoga or meditation to learn how to control your physical body and still think clearly in high stress (death and murder) situations.

Helpful supplies: Meditation for Dummies book, black clothing, sound shoes

Sound Communications

The best way to knock off victims in a horror movie is to isolate them. Of course the phone line is going to be cut; of course there is no cell signal; naturally the power has gone out. If you want to reach the outside world and rescue, you are going to need sound communications means that traverse these obstacles.

soundcomms

It would not be a bad idea to cultivate a personal relationship with some sort of law enforcement character. Someone who might miss you if you disappeared, someone who might exchange walkie talkies with you. Yes, this poor bastard will get snuffed out along the way for helping you, but hey, he might just save your life once before that happens. Since you have to survive multiple times, you have to take your life saving where you can get it.

Helpful supplies: Satellite phone, walkie talkies

Personal Connection

The only way anyone is going to even remotely entertain the idea of letting you claw your way through a horror franchise is if you have a personal connection to the killer. The audiences need the drama. Plus, why else would we buy that this killer keeps coming after you movie after movie?

Take our examples of Laurie and Syndey. In the Halloween movies, Laurie is Michael Myers’s sister. Sure, she does not always know that. And sure, she vanishes for part of the franchise, but any Halloween fan pretends those movies never happened anyway. In the Scream movies, even though the killer is vanquished at the end of every film (spoiler alert!), a new killer or killer emerges in the next installment, and they are all, in some way, connected to Sidney. A boyfriend, a brother, a copycat, a cousin.

If you want to be valuable enough to be written into multiple endings, you better make yourself indispensable to your adversary.

personalconnection

Helpful supplies: Memento from relationship with the killer (just to remind everyone why you are indispensable)

Ultimate Faceoff

While the running and evading and hiding is necessary for the first few movies, every horror franchise eventually culminates in an ultimate faceoff between the persistent survivor and the killer. Some protagonists may survive multiple movies just to finally be defeated at this glorious moment, but you are not trying just to make it to the last movie; you are trying to live to see the final credits of that final film (again, until the reboot). You better be prepared for this ultimate faceoff.

faceoff

It may happen in each movie of the franchise. You may think you have killed the killer over and over. Whether it happens once or three or five times, you eventually will have to man up and fight the killer face to face.

By the conclusion of the franchise, the killer will have become stronger and more impervious to death with each movie. You will also get beat to hell a little more each time you escape. You may have been stabbed multiple times by this point. You need to rehabilitate your body. In your off film time, indulge in some physical therapy and some self-defense or martial arts classes. For all your running and cardio, at this point, you are going to need to be able to fight.

The fight is only over when the killer is dead (or at least when you and the audience are sneakily convinced the killer is dead). Since this killer has survived just as many horror movies as you have, you are going to have to bring out the big guns (ironically, a gun almost never works). You need to rely on your survival skills to provide you with a weapon to finally put down your killer. (If it is a gun, remember, head shot.) Perhaps a baseball bat with nails through the end? Maybe a vehicle and a large cement wall? Get creative.

faceoff2

Helpful supplies: Weapon of choice or opportunity

Surviving a horror franchise takes an unteachable blending of charisma and interest, physical condition and preparation, and a sound mind (not to mention current genre trends and dumb luck). If you prepare enough, you might just be able to join the ranks of those blood soaked survivors who lived through not just one horror movie but an entire series.

What do you need to survive?

I have already shared my thoughts on our culture’s current fixation and mainstreaming of the horror genre. A natural extension of this is our culture’s near obsession with all things apocalyptic.

The horror and apocalypse genres easily blur and mingle, mostly because the apocalypse is the worst thing that most people can imagine. The apocalypse, in any of its varied forms, also nearly always includes a whole menagerie of horrors. It does not have to include a knife-wielding serial killer to be considered a member of the horror family.

I am no exception to this. My first book, Savages, is entirely centered around an apocalyptic scenario. I found this topic fascinating for the same reason I think we as a culture and a species fixate on it.

Humans, as a whole, are almost always somehow focused on our own demise. We have writing about it since there were cave paintings; we invented religion to explain it. We all know it’s going to end somehow, and an apocalypse no doubt seems the most grandiose. What is really more terrifying and fascinating than the abrupt end to absolutely everything we know?

Beyond this inherent morbidity in us, I am drawn to the psychology of the survivors, what happens to people who lose everything and manage to continue on. Due to my own personal beliefs on the savagery of humans (for another blog post, I assure you), I believe something like the apocalypse reverts us back to our natural and base instincts. When falling from a society as advanced and convenienced as ours,  this is a drastic and near unfathomable change. It’s no different than the change required in desperation or war, yet the apocalypse equalizes all humans involved.

I do believe that the more socially tense or politically unstable our culture, the more we tend to gravitate towards this apocalyptic media. The post-apocalyptic obsession is art manifesting our deepest fears about our current reality. Is the apocalypse really happening now? Probably not. But with the issues we face, we can see the path down that road more easily; it seems like a more realistic scenario.

We like to flirt with that fire, get close enough to the heat of that idea while still being able to tell ourselves it’s all fiction and just for entertainment.

Why do you think we are all binging on movies, television, books, video games about the end times?

Horror Threshold

Posted: June 24, 2014 in horror
Tags: , , ,

My horror threshold. I never actually gave it much thought. I have been infatuated with the horror genre since my teens, and I have seen (and sought out) some truly depraved media. The most disturbing movie I have ever seen (The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things) is not even what I would consider horror.

Yet an online associate told me about a movie (A Serbian Film) that I had never seen or heard of that got me thinking about what my horror threshold might be–where I would draw the line between horror as disturbing entertainment and legitimate, unappealing depravity.

This associate told me the movie included someone having sex with a newborn baby. Instantly, there was my threshold! For all the obscure, graphic, and mentally traumatizing horror I have sought out, I had absolutely no desire to see this movie. I did not even really want to think about the fact that it existed.

Children. Children are my personal horror threshold.

If there is a freaky possessed child or a stoic kid on a murderous rampage, I’m fine; I’m good with it; please continue… However, if the horror is directed at the child, particularly a baby, I’m out. I might be able to tolerate some light suggestion with no visual, but largely, I want no part of it.

Horror involving children is a biological aversion for me, even more so after I became a mother. I imagine it is for many people.

So that is my line. Horror threshold here!

I am also not exceptionally fond of rape horror. The inclusion in a plot or the suggestion of it does not necessarily bother me, even a brief scene. However, when the scene is gratuitously graphic or lengthy, I feel my threshold approaching.

When I foolishly watched the remake of Last House on the Left while I was in Iraq (worst venue choice on my part), the rape scene seemed neverending. Yet when I watched it later, it is not horrifically long or graphic for the genre. It stabbed at my legitimate fear of getting raped in theater.

Like children, graphic rape horror is biologically upsetting to me. I can tolerate rape horror to a higher degree because it involves adults, not children. In either case, not my first choice for trauma and fear. Give me a deeply psychological serial killer any day.

Everyone is different, so everyone’s horror thresholds are distinct, even for the most versed aficionados in the genre. I have written torture pieces that have upset my dearest friends; I have written pieces my own husband refuses to read.

So what is your horror threshold?