Happy New Year, 2023!

Welcome, January! I don’t do resolutions because I can never keep any promises. Life simply gets in the way sometimes and adapting is name of the game. That’s not to say I don’t make changes. Truth is, I’ve been thinking of quitting this blog for some time, but later this spring will mark my blog’s 5th anniversary and I’m proud of my little creations. So, I’m going to stick it out another year and see where the road leads.

Blogging hasn’t always been easy. Last year was a dismal time. I have not been able find the balance in work-to-home life after the pandemic. The first two years of blogging seemed promising. Then, I realized there was another Halloween Haiku writer who returned from a long hiatus and insisted in creating a competition. It was awkward and weird. Totally killed my inspiration. I ignore that person and exist in my own space because my haiku are original. I never claimed to do anything first, especially where a 3,000 year-old art form is concerned.

My real enemy is social media. I added “horror” to my blog name to differentiate between any other halloween haikus, no matter when they started. I thought I would gain more followers doing that. The unpleasant reality is my blog is a little too niche, even for fans of Halloween, horror, or haiku. Thus, I’ve failed to make any kind of mark. I don’t have the time to keep up Halloween trends, nor the skills to run entertaining or informative social media accounts. If you’ve noticed, I stepped back from Meta (Facebook) and Twitter altogether. While I’m happy to be part of The Samhain Society, it seems my lot in life is to always be the square in a circle. But, hey, this is no pity party. I am GenX. Being alone ain’t nothing new.

So, here I am, giving blogging in 2023 a chance. This year I’m going back to basics, just writing haiku. Halloween and horror haiku to be specific. Trying something new though, all my haiku will connect to tell a story that fits a monthly theme. Actually, I did it in December 2022. Every Monthly Haiku Corner, I will announce the theme and give readers a little background blurb. From there, a tale will unfold week after week and by the end of the year, I should have 12 different micro stories, told in haiku format. Occasionally, I’ll post some other stuff too, a horror movie list for those looking for recommendations, a Friday Fright Nightcap here, a Wicked Art Wednesday showcase there, but mostly, it will be all about the Halloween and horror haiku.

I wish everyone all the best this year. May 2023 be good to you. Be safe and have fun. May you find love and inspiration this year, and of course, good health, joy, happiness, and prosperity.

Culinary Cannibals Marathon

On this last day in November, I serve up a fresh list of intriguing or scary movies featuring cannibals. Holidays are all about eating. Thanksgiving just passed and I still have leftovers coming out my ears. Pretty sure, cannibals don’t have this problem. Anyways, if you’re feeling stressed, why not chill for a day, or the weekend, and have scary movie marathon.

These are my faves, but there are certainly other good cannibal films out there. This year, I shy away from Cannibal Holocaust exploitation type movies cuz horror movies should be fake, lest they become something else. The real killing of animals and the rape of women is just sickening and I want to do my part to hold people accountable. Fuck those movies.

Personally, I’m excited to see the recently released Bones and All starring Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and Mark Rylance. I might even add it to the list for next year.

Poe Sundays – The Masque of the Red Death

Every Sunday in October is Poe Sunday, the day we celebrate the Master of Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. This year, I’ll suggest the best movie adaptations of Poe’s work.

In the lingering post-pandemic era of Covid-19 and trump presidency, Roger Corman’s 1964 gothic horror triumph, The Masque of the Red Death has never seemed more relevant. Vincent Price’s sadistic portrayal of Prospero, the greedy devil-worshipping medieval ruler who tortured his peasant villagers and gave shelter to his wealthy courtiers from a plague, only to learn you can’t hide from death, is a chilling sublime performance that cemented his legacy as a horror legend.

Corman weaved two tales from Edgar Allan Poe, Masque of the Red Death and Hop-Frog to create this cult-classic and it’s one of his best. While he and screenwriters Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell took several liberties with the stories, I find this adaption is the closest to any of Poe’s works.

Poe Sundays – The Tell-Tale Heart, 1953

In 1953, United Production Artists produced an 8-minute animation based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. This surreal psychological horror short film, narrated by James Mason and distributed by Columbia Pictures, became the first animated film to earn an X rating in the UK. The reason? Well, that’s just what old stuffy white dudes do when someone makes a film about killing old stuffy white dudes for no reason.

Click here for more information on The Tell-Tale Heart from 1953.

Friday Fright Nightcaps – Ode to the Mummy

Every Halloween season I make it a point to revisit the classic Universal monster films. These are the films that cemented American’s love affair with horror. Watching my favorite old classic horror films is one of my biggest Halloween traditions. This week, I created spooky cocktail to honor Karl Freund’s classic The Mummy, starring the legendary Boris Karloff, with a drink I call Ode to the Mummy.

INGREDIENTS:

3 oz. Coffee
1.5 oz Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Monkey Liquer
1.5 oz. Vodka
1 oz. French Vanilla Creamer or Cream
Splash of Cream of Coconut

31 Days of Halloween 2022

Happy October! After starting late this Halloween season, I’m now ready to post the schedule of this year’s 31 Days of Halloween Celebration. The theme this October is dystopian Halloween. With the doomsday clock ticking down, due to savages like Russian dictator Vladamir Putin and gun-crazed trump-loving jesus-freaks, it’s probably way past time to think about how humankind plans to survive the apocalypse, in particular, how we’ll preserve our traditions and holidays, like Halloween.

Part of the month, we’ll have some fun with the dystopian Halloween-horror theme, but I have decided to mix in some good old-fashion Halloween traditional themes as well, cuz, I just love talking about those Halloween memories.

Have a safe and happy Halloween season!

31 Days of Halloween Schedule

Monday Macabre
Mondays are always dedicated to Haiku, but every Monday in October we’ll explore a dystopian Halloween.

Tuesday Terror
Every Tuesday, I’ll share my favorite scary movies that I believe make great Halloween season viewing.

Wicked Art Wednesdays
Every Wednesday, I’ll share some spooktacular Halloween art with an apocalyptic twist. I might even post some my own original Halloween pencil stencil art.

Throwback Thursdays
Preservation of Halloween traditions is important for several reasons. Every Thursday, let’s explore the origins of some Halloween traditions and muse over whether these traditions might survive the apocalypse.

Friday Fright Nightcaps
Ghosts aren’t the only ones who like to get sheet-faced on Halloween. Check back every Friday for Halloween season-inspired cocktails.

Sinister Saturdays
In the past few years, Sinister Saturdays have always been dedicated to food and Halloween recipes.  The problem was, besides my being the worst cook in America, people are simply reluctant to let you share their recipes online, even if you give them complete credit and link back to their website. So, in the true spirit of Sinister Saturdays, we’re just going to let the demons loose that day and see what they come up with.

Poe Sundays
This year’s tribute to the master of macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, will feature my thoughts on the best Poe adaptations on film.

4th Annual Halloween Haiku Challenge 2022
#Halloweenhaikuchallenge

Share your most original or scariest visual Halloween Haiku photos during October for a chance to win some prizes.

More details about the haiku contest will be announced on October 18th.

Join in the fun, and follow me @Halloweenhorrorhaiku on Instagram and @Halloweenkristy on Twitter

Werewolves Within Movie Review

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

Werewolves Within 2021
Director: Josh Ruben
Ubisoft Film and Television

Newly appointed Forest Ranger Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) heads to Beaverfield, a small scenic town whose residents are currently divided by a pipeline proposal presented by a slick oilman Sam Parker. Finn meets the sweet and helpful postal worker Cecily, who helps him navigate his first day and introduces him to the town’s most eclectic residents, including estranged couple Trisha and Pete, wealthy transplants Devon and Joaquim, blue-collar besties Gwen and Marcus, activist environmentalist Dr. Jane Ellis, isolated hunter Emerson, and local lodge owner Jeanine, whose husband has mysteriously disappeared recently.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

When a blizzard knocks out all power, the residents take shelter in the lodge. The next day Finn finds a generator ripped wide open and a mutilated body under the lodge porch, which could be Jeanine’s husband. Tensions over the future pipeline continue, as Finn investigates the mystery beast terrorizing the town. Does Forest Ranger truly have a sinister werewolf on his hands or is there a more down-to-earth explanation for these heinous crimes?

Veep alumni Sam Richardson leads an all-star cast in this campy horror-comedy based on the hit video game of the same name. While the video game was set in a medieval village, this movie takes place in modern times. The plot may not seem entirely original but entertains nonetheless. It’s funny, quirky, spooky fun, not chainsaw terrifying blood splatter, and it works perfectly with the witty banter between the characters. Filmed just before the pandemic hit, Director Josh Ruben shot on location in Hudson Valley, near Woodstock in New York, and used mostly practical effects and make-up for the monster and scares. Ruben, known for his successful meta horror-comedy Scare Me for Shudder, makes the most of a low-budget creature feature and impresses audiences with his creativity and wit.

Much in the way of Bruce Campbell’s legendary hero Ash from the Evil Dead series, Finn is not your typical hero. He’s just an ordinary everyday man who finds himself suddenly dealing with an extremely dangerous supernatural problem, maybe. The always solid funnyman Sam Richardson has built an impressive resume playing affable, offbeat characters and he aces the assignment yet again.

Sam Richardson, Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

The town residents are basically a who’s who in television comedy. There are a lot of familiar faces here, including Groundlings and American Dad star Michaela Watkins, What We Do in the Shadow’s Harvey Guillen, American Horror Story heartthrob Cheyenne Jackson, and Orange Is the New Black and Stranger Thing’s comedienne Catherine Curtin, just to name a few. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone is a potential victim. And, they all equal parts funny and annoying in their own way, viewers aren’t sure if we should root for their survival or their slaughter.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

The real treat here is Milana Vayntrub though. Best known as the AT&T spokesperson Lily, Milana once again uses her charm and girl-next-door likeability to keep viewers guessing whether she’s a misunderstood postal worker or a wolf under sheep’s clothing. I’ve never seen her in anything but a phone commercial so it was delightful to see her get a chance to shine a little and show off her comedic chops.

Milana Vayntrub, Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

All in all, Werewolves Within is better than most horror movies based on video games. It’s a smartly written whodunnit that keeps the twists and turns going all the way to the end. This is a great date night or just staying home on a Saturday night movie.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

Hellmouth Movie Review

Strange Films

Hellmouth 2014

Hellmouth, Strange Films 2014

Director Joe Geddes teams up with Pontypool writer and lead actor Stephen McHattie for visually stunning spooky adventure about a terminally ill grave digger who travels to hell to rescue the beautiful woman he falls in love with.

This highly-stylized CGI endeavor pays homage to 1950’s horror and sci-fi cinema, but lacks the campy fun of any such movies. Truth is this is more of an offbeat fantasy drama than horror and it takes itself quite seriously, which would have been fine if the story had made any sense. Despite the eye-popping visuals, the movie slogs along without actually going anywhere, which is a real shame for Stephen McHattie, who does a fine job playing Charlie Baker, a graveyard caretaker suffering from episodic pran disease (brain clunk). In addition to his head pounding pain, Charlie endures daily harassment from local children and starts to notice some bizarre vandalism happening in the cemetery. Problem is Charlie can’t be sure if this isn’t all an illusion. Charlie is tired of looking after the dead and wants to move to Florida, but after a visit from his employer, Charlie learns he’ll have to delay retirement for reasons not entirely clear and inherits a box with a mysterious map, which he can’t stand more than 10 feet away from. While on an afternoon drive, he meets an alluring woman named Fay, who is running away from an unseen force. The two quickly fall in love and Hell doesn’t seem to like it very much. Fay disappears just as quickly as she showed up. 

Hellmouth, Strange Films 2014

The movie then introduces a subplot involving a squirrelly policeman on the hunt for two dangerous escaped criminals from the local insane asylum. The copper tells Charlie several small and strange tales of the cemetery’s more notorious residents. These small stories are perhaps the most interesting part of the whole movie. Unfortunately, the escaped criminals storyline goes nowhere fast, and soon after, Charlier Baker uses the mystery map to find his way into Hell, where he battle the forces of evil to win back his beloved Fay.

Hellmouth, Strange Films 2014

Unfortunately, the Sin City-style visuals and amazing set design are not enough to carry this one. I didn’t really have any problem with any of the other actors, particularly Julian Richings, who I felt was criminally underused here, but the characters needed more fleshing out and more clarity to their relevance to the main story. The end is one big beautiful muddled mess.

Hellmouth, Strange Films 2014

Horror fans won’t find any scares here, but for those who want weirdness and to witness some really cool visuals, this one’s for you.

Cryptid Monster Marathon – Monstrous, The Retreat, and Dawn of the Beast Movie Reviews

After missing my own self-imposed deadlines in January and February, where I was to present a movie review for the month, I am determined not to miss March! Thus, I decided to triple down and do three movie reviews in celebration of our legendary creatures theme.

The truth is, earlier this March, I watched Dawn of the Beast, but it was only when I started writing the review did I realize the movie was actually the third cryptid monster film, following Monstrous and The Retreat, all directed by Bruce Wemple. Naturally, I had to watch the other two films.

Armed with a great love for campy horror films and his trusty cast of relative unknowns, New York director Bruce Wemple creates fresh horror that makes the socially conscious Gen Z crowd proud. All boxes checked. Wemple knows all the horror tropes, and these films felt like proper indie horror movies. There was decent acting, strong female characters, and lots of action. The camerawork makes good use of those shadows, close-up shots, and practical effects to perpetuate the scares and despite the low budget, the production quality was pretty good. I was even forgiving of the few man-in-a-monster-suit shots, which were super cheesy, but hey look, considering the third film was entirely developed during the pandemic, all of us should be impressed by that. I’ll be honest, I never gave much thought to Adirondack mountains before watching these films, and whatever location Wemple chose to shoot on location is some damn beautiful country. If I wasn’t so scared of the real Wendigo, I’d run out and buy a Winnebago.

The Retreat, 2020 (377 Films)

There’s a lot of good psychological horror here too, especially in the second film, The Retreat. The biggest flaw of this cryptid trilogy was the films suffered from having too much story. I guess having too much story is better than having no story, right? It’s just these long drawn out or overly heavy exposition scenes take away our monster time, and when you make a feature film starring these two legendary creatures, you have got to have more monster!!

I should also mention upfront, each of these movies is stand-alone. You’ll understand each of them on their own just fine, but movie marathons are so much more fun.

Continue reading “Cryptid Monster Marathon – Monstrous, The Retreat, and Dawn of the Beast Movie Reviews”

Throwback Thursday: Night of the Comet

Night of the Comet (1984)

I saved the best for last.  If you ever hear a Cyndi Lauper song in a horror film, this is peak 80s in all its surreal neon day-glowiness!

At face value, Night of the Comet is a mindless mash-up of several low-budget B-movie horror Sci-fi gems from the 50-60s, but look closer, and you’ll see Writer-director Thom Eberhardt actually penned a smart, witty satire, in tribute of such fine films. The question asked, what happens when two valley girls are the only two people left after a comet wipes off everyone on the planet?  If your first guess was ‘they go mall shopping and then get attacked by zombies’, give yourself a prize!

Two sisters Regina and Samantha played by Catherine-Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, are more than just gum popping, ripped-denim, leg warmer wearing bimbos full of sass. As if!
They’re actually pretty smart, and they manage to fight off armed invaders with Uzis in a sinister turf war, blood-seeking evil scientists with one-foot in the grave, and of course, comet-induced flesh-eating zombies, that always seem to come outta nowhere, all while working through why always-absent daddy married that money-hungry bitch Doris.
Level one up for the ladies of the eighties!

It’s true, there’s a lot of “family drama” with our feather-haired heroes, and less zombies than an average Walking Dead episode these days, but there’s still plenty of fun-filled comedy and bursts of non-gory action.  That’s right, no gore in this one, which is probably while the movie missed its mark as a really great horror film, but horror fanatics can’t live on blood-splatter alone. We need something to break up the monotony. If your eighties Halloween movie marathon contains Nightmare on Elm Street, any Hellraisers or early Maniacs, or John Carpenter’s The Thing, consider throwing in this campy zombie romp as a breather. You’ll thank me later.

Happy Halloween, everyone!