Halloween/Horror Gift Ideas for 2021

Unlike most Halloween fans, I do not get immediately sad after Halloween because there’s still so much spookiness going on to carry us through Thanksgiving, through the holidays, all the way into next year. What a fabulous time to be a horror fan because there are some incredible apparel, collectibles, products, and amazing box sets of the greatest films in history out there, and, for the next 5 weekends, I’m going to post my gift-giving guides for your favorite Halloween and Horror fans.

The Bela Lugosi Collection at CreepyCo. ($10-70)
https://www.creepycompany.com/collections/bela-lugosi
Lugosi Enterprises is dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of the man forever associated as Count Dracula. They’ve been quite savvy, selective, and tenacious about their licensing agreements in recent years and that’s more apparent than ever with their deal at Creepy Co. This holiday, you can find some awesome apparel, including button-up shirts, t-shirts, PJs, socks, enamel pins, and much more.

Custom designed Bedding and Bathwares – There will be Cute at Society 6 ($17-$120)
https://society6.com/therewillbecute
Artist and illustrator Caley Hicks brings her world-class spooky cute to Society 6 with these Halloween baths and bedding sets. Normally, I’d include Caley’s works in an upcoming Artist gift-giving guide, but I’m in love with the idea of having a Headless Horseman decorated bathroom.

Magnetic Poetry – Edgar Allan Poet Kit ($12.95)
https://magneticpoetry.com/collections/themed-kits/products/edgar-allan-poet
Is your horror fan a haunting, witty wordsmith with a gothic heart? Well, here’s their chance to shine with this unique and fun way to create original refrigerator poetry, inspired by the Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe.

Dead Sled Coffee ($18-$20)
https://deadsledcoffee.com/
Why we don’t have coffee bars filled with coffee, horror, and heavy metal music on every corner is beyond me. For the people who don’t care where their coffee comes from, or, at the very least, trust that their favorite musicians and horror icons have lawyers and management that have already scoured Dead Sled’s ethics and ability to produce good-tasting environmentally friendly coffee.


Bloody Good Fake Blood Apron ($21)
https://www.redbubble.com/i/apron/Bloody-Good-Fake-Blood-by-nerdchild/32528424.6ZXWR
Whether you’re a dynamo chef with a macabre sense of humor or cosplaying as Ghoulish Ramsey, this 100% polyester machine washable bloody cooking apron will entertain your next gruesome dinner party.

Godzilla Jenga/Godzilla Monopoly ($22-40)
https://toywiz.com/godzilla/diecast-microman-miscellaneous-toys-figures/
I don’t talk about Godzilla enough. He is the King of the Monsters after all, which is why I got so excited when I found a Godzilla version of Jenga and Monopoly from USAopoly. Why play Jenga when you can play Godzilla Jenga! Finally, a reason to be excited for family board game night. Just don’t let Grandma play as King Ghidorah.

100 Horror Movie Scratch-off Chart ($25)
https://popchart.co/products/100-horror-movies-scratch-off-chart
Whether you’re watching for the first time or revisiting old favorites, this is a cool way to keep track of the which classic horror films you’ve watched.

Elvira Meets Vincent Price Comics (($1.99 and up)
https://www.comixology.com/Elvira-Meets-Vincent-Price-1/digital-comic/943748
Dynamite Entertainment brings the Mistress of the Dark together with the Merchant of Menace to save the world from Apocalyptic doom! In a madcap mix of comedy and horror, the Hollywood star spector and horror hostess with the mostess pair go together like peanut butter and jelly. Digital subscriptions start at $1.99, regular comics are $5, but special limited edition variant covers are for collectors only.

Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection ($26-47)
https://www.uphe.com/movies/frankenstein-complete-legacy-collection
If for some reason the giant 30 film collection of the Universal Monsters Legacy Collection isn’t your jam, then consider getting The Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection, which, in my opinion, contains all the best films of the Universal Monsters collection. including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Horror Movie Figure Collectibles from NECA ($39-70)
https://necaonline.com/2020/12/12-days-of-downloads-2020-day-9-ultimates-visual-guide/
Start a yearly tradition of giving the gift of a horror movie 7″ scale action figure with accessories, officially licensed, made with high-quality materials, packaged in beautiful boxes. These are not toys, these are collectibles and horror fans should own them all. Well, at least one, your favorite one.

Halloween/Goth Shoes ($45-$120)
https://strangecvlt.com/
I’ve heard it said if you’re gonna join a cult, then, join a shoe cult, and there’s no better place to start than Strange Cvlt shoes. From sandals to flats, Mary Janes to platform boots, this is the only socially acceptable fetish a girl can have without getting burned at the stake.

Friday the 13th Blu-ray Collection – Deluxe Edition ($129-159)
https://www.amazon.com/Friday-Collection-Blu-ray-Betsy-Palmer/dp/B07GNV288V
Bring Jason Vorhees home this holiday! Finally a worthy Blu-ray collection of the most successful, long-running slasher series in film history. All 13 movies, some digitally remastered in 4K and featuring a booklet, behind-the-scenes, commentaries, interviews, and special features in the most incredible packaging I’ve ever seen from Scream Factory.

Season’s Screamings Tickets – December 17-19, Pasadena Convention Center ($30-60-95)
https://midsummerscream.org/seasons-screamings/
This one-of-a-kind holiday horror convention promises just as many chills and thrills as its parent-con Midsummer Scream, which was canceled earlier this summer. This is the place to find dark holiday gifts and spooky stocking stuffers. The event includes special ghoulish guests, over 200 exhibitors and vendors, and the Hall of Yuletide Spirits, a “dark showfloor of holiday themed haunts and yard displays, created by Southern Californias most talented haunted house creators.”
Did I mention Pasadena is simply lovely this time of year?

Amazing Pre-order Gifts: Every penny is worth the wait!

Dying Light II Stay Human – Feb 4, 2022 ($60-80)
https://dl2.dyinglightgame.com/
Techland’s sequel to the worldwide phenomenon Dying Light could be the dream of every gamer and zombie fan alike. Trailers and early play-throughs show a creative, technical, and visual feast. The first Dying Light game featured hours of gameplay, multiple DLCs, great customer and technical support, and developed a strong community of fervent players (like me) anxiously awaiting this new gaming adventure.

☆Mezco’s Monsters – Tower of Fear Deluxe Boxed Set – March-May 2022 ($95)
https://www.mezcotoyz.com/5-points-mezcos-monsters-tower-of-fear
Delight your inner child with this fabulous-looking multi-level diorama playset featuring 5 highly detailed poseable classic monsters and a host of accessories, all packaged in a collector-friendly box to bring your own favorite horror stories to life! This product is for collectors, not children.

Bela Lugosi as Dracula by Infinite Statue & Sideshow – June 2022 ($300-355)
https://www.sideshow.com/collectibles/dracula-bela-lugosi-infinite-statue-909742?var=909743
Sideshow and Infinite Statue teamed up with Kaustic Plastik to give us the Dark Prince himself, Bela Lugosi! This handpainted, incredibly detailed sixth-scale figure features two different sculpted heads, ten poseable hands, fully costumed, accessories, and captures the beauty and essence of the most recognizable horror icon ever created. The Deluxe version features a spooktacular coffin for $355. This is the ultimate tribute to both the character of Count Dracula and the beloved actor who embodied him.
A must-have collectible for vampire fans.






Poe Sundays

On Sundays, we celebrate the Master of Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe

Fun Fact: Readers of the day were so horrified by the story’s violence, they complained to the editor of the Messenger, the first magazine to publish Berenice. Poe himself later removed 4 paragraphs of text, thus, many early publishings are missing the detailed heinous act of Poe’s story.

Poe was angry at being forced to self-censor his own work, believing a story should be judged solely by how many copies it sold.


You can read Berenice in its entirety here:
https://poestories.com/read/berenice

Poe Sundays

On Poe Sundays, we celebrate the Master of the Macabre, the grandfather of gothic fiction, writer-poet extraordinaire Edgar Allan Poe.

Excerpt of The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Fun Fact: Despite that readers the worldover consider the narrator to be male, there is no gender specified in The Tell-Tale Heart, thus, some critics have taken up the point that the narrator may in fact be a woman.

Book Gift Ideas for Halloween and Horror Fans

I’ve compiled a list of great holiday horror and Halloween books that your favorite Halloween and horror fan will love this Creepmas. I live in Los Angeles area so some of my suggestions reflect my current location, but free feel to check local bookstores in your area. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Horror:

We Bleed Red and Green by Jeff C. Carter

Hot off the heels of his October anthology We Bleed Orange & Black: 31 Funsize Tales for Halloween, Jeff C. Carter is back with 12 new tales of Christmas terror.

Secret Santa by Andrew Shaffer

There’s a lot to unwrap in this fun, festive horror set in the big, bad, cut-throat publishing world of the 1980s.

Nos4A2 by Joe Hill

Time-travel, immortal vampires and Christmas make for one terrifying tale for the holidays. When you’re done reading, check out season one of the TV adapation from AMC Channel on Amazon Prime.

Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas by Michael Dougherty (Graphic Novel)

From the creator of Trick ‘r Treat, Michael Dougherty shares his Krampus vision in a new graphic novel form, filled with stunning artwork.

The Old Magic of Christmas by Linda Raedisch

Come check out the Yuletide tales of witches, elves and ghosts, Perfect winter reading. Keep an eye out for the new Audiobook coming on December 22, 2020.

Krampus’s Great Big Book of Yuletide Monsters by Amanda Woomer

Come explore the spooky world of Krampus and other holiday monsters in this latest book from author and paranormal investigator, Amanda Woomer.

Halloween Books:

Pumpkins and Party Themes: 50 DIY Designs to Bring Your Halloween Extravaganza to Life By Roxanne Rhoads

I know 2020 put a damper on our Halloween celebrations this year, which only means we should come back hard in 2021. This book is full of ideas and DIY designs to help get us ready for the perfect party next year!

Creating Your Vintage Halloween: The folklore, traditions, and some crafty makes by Marion Paull

What a fantastic way to learn all about Halloween traditions. This beautiful, fully-colored little book is a dream for vintage Halloween collectors and Halloween lovers.

The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo

From author and illustrator Rhode Montijo, follow along with the adventures of the mysterious masked defender of Halloween. Word around town is there’s an animated show in the works.

Other Horror Related Books:

The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara

This LA Times Bestseller, which topped all the 2019 ‘Best Of’ lists, uncovers the mysterious life of former Disney animator, Milicent Patrick, the only woman in history to create a Hollywood classic movie monster.

Graven Images: The Best of Horror, Fantasy, and Science-Fiction Film Art from the Collection of Ronald V. Borst (Hardcover), Introduction by Stephen King

I absolutely fell in love with this beautiful, bright, fully-color collection of vintage Hollywood movie posters. It’s a great read for film lovers and filled with the history behind some of Hollywood’s best classic horror and sci-fi movies.

Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror by Michael Mallory, Stephen Sommers (Foreword)

Come explore the magnificent legacy of Universal Studio’s Monsters, learn all about the characters, their mythologies and get behind-the scenes insights into Hollywood’s golden age of horror.

The Spirit Guide: America’s Haunted Breweries, Distilleries, and Wineries by Amanda Woomer

I predict once this pandemic is over, travel will come roaring back to life and 2021 will be the perfect time for a paranormal adventure. This awesome read breaks down what to expect when you visit some of America’s most haunted bars, breweries, wineries and more!

Classic Books:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Poirot) by Agatha Christie

Throwback Thursday: Horror 3D

Anyone who follows film, knows the history of 3D is a bit murky. Some people just don’t take to it. During the 80s, 3D made a short-lived comeback with big name franchises such as Friday the 13th Part III, Amityville 3D, and the biggest money-maker of the three, Jaws 3D. All of the films were critically panned and stand out from their predecessors as the campiest of all. I don’t know if you could call them B-movies. Beside the weirdo 3D effects, they were hella expensive and mad glossy, but everything about those stories were heinous. Barf!

This isn’t a best of horror list though, this is a best of 80s horror, and we gotta embrace the fact that for like two hours, 3D was totally gnarly!

Friday the 13th, Part III (1982)

Believe it or not, Friday the 13th was supposed to be a trilogy and this was the movie to end it all. It marked the first time Jason Vorhees appears in his signature hockey goalie mask and for sure that had something to do with the film’s growing popularity, enough to convince studio suits to keep making movies.

As far as 80s connections go, I’ll be honest, the campground setting makes it harder to distinguish the time era, but take one look at those feathered locks and cashmere sweaters, now, you know you’re time traveling.

Amityville 3D (1983)

This movie was sort of an anomaly of the franchise. At the time of filming, a legal dispute between the famed Lutz family and studio producers broke out and the result was the film featured brand new fictional characters and the story didn’t follow either of its predecessors. Also, supposedly, the home owner at the time was totally being a spaz and the studio had to make physical changes to the infamous haunted house.

Sadly, the film was not well-received by fans or critics. The 3D was reportedly bad compared to technology used by other 3D films of the time, and so, it was all just a major bummer. We did get the future America’s sweetheart and Aunt Becky playing with Ouija Boards in jean jackets and feathered hair, conjuring slimy demon creatures from Hell, like, it doesn’t get more 80s than that.

Jaws 3D (1983)

I think Jaws 3D had the toughest sell considering how beloved the first film was to audiences. They did get to keep the fancy disposable cardboard 3D glasses and I pity anyone who didn’t keep those amazing souveniors, cuz they totally still work. Of course, because televisions weren’t equipped with 3D capabilities at the time, thus, the name of Jaws 3D changed to Jaws III once it hit home video and there were no 3D versions until the early 2000s.

Unfortunately, not even the magnificence of Louis Gossett, Jr. and the curiously coked-out Dennis Quaid performance could save Jaws 3D from being anything more than fish food. If you want real scares, stick with the original, Jaws, a magnum opus of horror filmmaking. For frivolous fun, under the sea in 3D shots, a fantastic historical look at Sea World parks before Blackfish backlash killed their business, and great 80s vibes, including water-skiing stunts, this is the movie for you!

I think to truly appreciate the small strides 3D has made over the years, one should watch the even older scary movies, like House of Wax, starring Vincent Price. That was the first feature length 3D film with stereophonic sound. Arguably the most famous 3D movie ever was Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and its 3D spawn, Revenge of the Creature (1955), was the only 3D sequel of a 3D movie of the time. That was major back then. Other notable 3D horror films are It Came from Outer Space (1953), The Mad Magician (1954), The Tingler (1959), House on Haunted Hill (1959), and 13 Ghosts (1960).

What you do think about 3D movies? Hit me up in comments section or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @HalloweenHaiku9 and let me know your thoughts.

Trick or Treat Tuesday: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Full-length, remastered HD version of Night of the Living Dead,
directed by George A. Romero, brought to us by Public Domain Films

Ever wonder how the most popular zombie film of all time, Night of the Living Dead ended up in U.S. public domain? Well, it happened after the original theatrical distributor, Walter Reade Organization, failed to replace a necessary copyight notice on the title card of the print of the film, after changing the movie’s title from Night of the Flesh Eaters to Night of the Living Dead.(1) 

According to U.S. copyright laws, any work made or published before 1923 automatically enters the public domain. According to the 1909 Copyright Act, all creative works needed to have a sufficient copyright notice. That’s why most works are accompanied by the following symbol © and a year.(2) The act has since been updated, but at the time of its release, Night of the living Dead needed to follow this simple rule. 

As a result of the distribution company’s error, George A. Romero immediately lost the rights to his film, and subsequently, millions of dollars in lost revenue, advertising and merchandising. In fact, up until Night of the Living Dead, zombie movies were about mind-controlled humans through manipulation, sorcery or voodoo. Romero was actually the first to create an undead flesh-eating creature that preys on the living. So, we can pretty much speculate that if Romero had retained the rights to Night of the Living Dead, every zombie book, film, TV and video game would have been controlled by George A. Romero.

Romero often expressed that losing the rights to his first feature film was one of his biggest regrets. The famed horror director passed away in 2017, after watching his creation grow into a monsterous sub-genre of horror. Strangely enough, Night of the Living Dead falling into public domain helped make zombies more popular, inspired creativity across the globe, helped spawn several horror franchises, and even launched the careers of some of today’s best horror directors. The entire zombie industry owes a debt of gratitude for its existence to this man. Maybe the universe knew the power to control zombies was too big a task for one human being.

It all worked out for George A. Romero too. As zombie popularity grew, Romero earned more opportunities to make movies, created projects, wrote books and comics, and even capitalized on his own notoriety as the “king of the zombie films.” In 1999, Night of the Living Dead was added to the U.S. National Film Registry for its historical and cultural significance.

Source Material:
1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Living_Dead
2) https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15a.pdf

Throwback Thursday: The Toxic Avenger

These movies are so painstakingly 80s, they serve as a tubular tribute to both spandex and bloodsplatter.

The Toxic Avenger (1984)

Today is National Cheese Curd Day (10/15) and cheese curd is basically immature cheese that hasn’t gone through any proper process. That’s kinda how I view Troma movies, films shot, cut raw, and served to the masses as unrefined horror. It’s definitely an acquired taste. The Toxic Avenger is a story of a bullied young man who gains superhuman strength after falling into a vat of toxic waste. The new mop-carrying hero promptly sets out to get revenge on those who tried to kill him, but also manages to clean up his small town of Tromaville, by getting rid of the bad guys and corruption along the way.

Directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, who also helped write and produce the film, The Toxic Avenger was panned upon its initial release but gained a strong cult following after being the featured midnight show at a popular movie house in Greenwich Village in 1985. The rest is history. Troma Entertainment went from making campy sex romps to campy horror, building a franchise of Toxic Avenger movies, which spawned five films and even a short-lived cartoon television series.

Armed with a specialized in a brand of satire, Troma effectively exaggerated the issues of the 80s drug-fueled excess, gym craze obsession, raging crime, political corruption, and clear class divisions, while serving up a satisfying revenge fantasy. The Toxic Avenger is campy, it’s gory, it’s silly, and may have played on stereotypes of the time, but once you swim through the bloodsplatter and Aquanet cloud, the Toxic Avenger is just as heartwarming as any of those John Hughes teen comedies of the 80s, and it had a lot to say about teen bullying. The Toxic Avenger isn’t the best-looking superhero on the planet but he sure is the hero the world needs.

Throwback Thursday: Chopping Mall

These movies are so painstakingly 80s, they serve as a tubular tribute to both spandex and bloodsplatter.

The Chopping Mall (1986)

The fear of machines taking over and destroying mankind was all the rage in 80s, and Chopping Mall delivered feathered hair and killer lasers in spades. One-time protégé of B-movie king Roger Corman, Director Jim Wynorski kicked off a long career of B-horror movies and exploitation films, with this story about of group of mall employees partying after hours, only to find themselves the target of the mall’s new nighttime security system. I’m sure the movie had some meaningful message about not having sex in furniture stores and trusting machines to do a man’s job, but who cares, we came to see robots vs. humans!

These formidable Dalek-looking knock-offs rack up a kill count that could make the Terminator proud. They start by impaling a couple of techs and electrocuting a night-time janitor, played by character actor and Corman alum, Dick Miller, before moving on to our horny co-eds, played by a cast of hot 80s hopefuls, including Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, and the legendary Barbara Crampton, in one of her earliest roles. Our spunky protags fight back with Molotov cocktails, flares and propane tanks, but ya know, bad bots and their neon lasers gotta steal the show.

Honestly, most of the special effects are as cheesy as the gratuitous boob shots, but one death does stands out as unbelievably gory, even by today’s blood-thirsty audience standards. It wasn’t as well done as say, Scanners, but it probably was the highlight of Suzee Slater’s career.
All and all, Chopping Mall isn’t the best killer robot movie in the world, but I think true horror fans will appreciate it, besides, once Hollywood figured out how to make heads explode, even bad 80s B-flicks got a little more interesting.

Throwback Thursdays: The Howling II

These movies are so painstakingly 80s, they serve as a tubular tribute to both spandex and bloodsplatter.

The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985)

In celebration of the Harvest full moon, we’re kicking off Throwback Thursdays with this 80s classic, chosen over Joe Dante’s brilliant first film The Howling because it stars Christopher Lee as aging werewolf hunter, who recruits a young American couple to accompany him to Transylvania, on a hunt for the immortal witchy-werewolf queen Stirba, played by B-movie queen Sybil Danning and all her royal glory!
You get the Prince of Darkness himself, cheesy special effects, awful werewolf costumes that were actually ape costumes, bloody carnage, bitchcraft, werewolf menage a trois, werewolf orgy, a catchy theme song on repeat throughout the entire movie, a Czech club full of punk rockers, 80s perma hair, sunglasses at night, the tightest black leather outfit ever stitched together for film, and Sybil Danning’s gigantic scene-stealing breasts. My friends, this is a masterclass in 80s B-movies!

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.