Top Films to Watch on Netflix UK This Halloween: Part 2. #HorrorOctober

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If you missed part one of this post, you can check it out here

5. Malevolent (2018)

I watched this last night and was very pleasantly surprised. It was great! I didn’t expect it to be British either.

Florence Pugh in Malevolent (2018)Siblings Jackson and Angela run a profitable ghostbusting racket; swindling the bereaved with fake detection equipment and Angela’s paranormal ‘visions’. Hired to investigate a haunted old foster home, the team uncover its terrifying past: young girls brutally slaughtered, mouths stitched shut; silenced by a sadistic killer. And Angela’s on the edge – sleepless, strung out and losing her mind, no longer certain what’s actually real; convinced she hears the girls crying out to her from the darkness… But supernatural terrors are the least of their problems when they discover the very real evil lurking in the isolated house.

 

Director:  Olaf de Fleur Johannesson (as Olaf De Fleur)
Writers: Ben Ketai (screenplay by), Eva Konstantopoulos (screenplay by)
Stars: Florence Pugh, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers

6. Family Blood (2018)

Family Blood is an interesting film as far as modern vampire movies go. They’ve sort of fallen out of fashion haven’t they!? I wouldn’t say this is an amazing film, but I enjoyed it. It’s a good one to watch if you’re not big on being scared but want to get in the Halloween mood.

Vinessa Shaw in Family Blood (2018)

Ellie, a recovering drug addict, has just moved to a new city with her two teenage children. She has struggled to stay sober in the past and is determined to make it work this time, finding a stable job and regularly attending her meetings. Unfortunately, new friends, a new job, and the chance of a new life, can’t keep Ellie from slipping once again. Her life changes when she meets Christopher – a different kind of addict – which forces her daughter and son to accept a new version of Ellie.

 

Director: Sonny Mallhi
Writers:
Nick Savvides, Sonny Mallhi
Stars:
Vinessa Shaw, James Ransone, Colin Ford

7. Cabin in the Woods (2012)

OK, so this probably featured on my list last year too, but it’s just so good!

The Cabin in the Woods Poster

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

 
Director: Drew Goddard

Writers: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard

Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison

8. From Beyond (1986)

80s movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. This is a bit of a cheat though because I don’t think I’ve actually seen it. It’s bound to be an all-out gore/laughter-fest though, right!?

From Beyond PosterA group of scientists have developed the Resonator, a machine which allows whoever is within range to see beyond normal perceptible reality. But when the experiment succeeds, they are immediately attacked by terrible life forms.

 
Director: Stuart Gordon

Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (short story), Brian Yuzna (adaptation)

Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sore

9. Hostel (2005)

Hostel got quite a poor reception when it came out (at least here in the UK) but I loved it. Gore, organised crime, and lots and lots of torture. What’s not to like? I wouldn’t bother with the sequels though, if I were you. SAVE YOURSELVES.

Hostel PosterThree backpackers head to a Slovak city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them.

 
Director: Eli Roth
Writer: Eli Roth
Stars: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson

 

10. Carrie (1976)

An oldie but a goody! If you only watch one horror film this Halloween, then it may as well be a classic. I didn’t actually mind the remake either, but the original always wins out.

Carrie Poster

Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom.

 

 
Director: Brian De Palma
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Lawrence D. Cohen (screenplay)
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving

Happy Halloween Blog Friends!

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This Week in Books- Horror October Edition #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone, and perhaps more importantly, happy Halloween!

As you may have noticed, Horror October this year has been a tad sparse – soz. But I have read a few good books over the month.

Here’s what I got up to last week…

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NOW: I’ve just started Painless by Marty Thornley so not much to report there. I’m also dipping in and out of a new collection of Frankenstein stories. Bit miss and miss so far. 

THEN: I finished Hark! the Herald Angels Screams a collection of Christmas themed, horror short stories, which I loved. 5 stars from me. My review is here. Before that I finished Kill Creek, and The Life we Bury, which wasn’t technically a horror, but certainly had dark elements. I’m yet to review that one. 

NEXT: After Painless, and the Frankenstein collection I’ll probably have a break and read something “nice”. 🙂

 

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below, or why not join in and publish a TWIB post of your own. Leave the link to your post and I’ll come take a look.

Horror October: Hark! The Herald Angels Scream #BookReview #ShortStoryAnthology

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Hark! The Herald Angels Scream // Christopher Golden (Editor) // October 23rd 2018 // Anchor Books // Goodreads

A collection of Christmas-themed horror stories!? What could be better! It’s like ordering two desserts. You know it’s in no way good for you, but you just want to do it anyway. 

You could be forgiven for dismissing this book based on the cover. It screams cheap and nasty, doesn’t it? But rest assured, the contents of this book are total class. There’s a mix of established horror/paranormal writers and some new names (well, to me anyway), and I was pleasantly surprised by every single one of them.

There’s a terrifying home invasion story to kick us off, a very, very, weird babysitter, a potty-mouthed robot dog and a haunted hotel room to name but a few story-lines, and they’re all fun and creepy in very different ways. 

The one that stood out the most to me was Love Me by Thomas E. Sniegoski – a writer that was new to me. It’s a creepy-ass tale about a desperate man who plans to rob an old pawn/antiques shop. When he breaks in, the lady who owns it and lives above, catches him in the act and invites him upstairs. Now, this isn’t quite the tale of revenge it seems to be. Without ruining it too much for you, it involves a stuffed toy, with teeth, who just wants to be loved. So wrong, but so good!

Usually when reading anthologies, I end up skipping some of the stories, and I fully expected to do that here too, but there honestly wasn’t a dud story amongst them, and each one made me want to finish it from the off. Golden has done a great job in selecting these. If you like horror, and you like (or hate, actually) Christmas, then this is the book for you!

I feel well and truly in the spirit now. I’m just not sure if it’s for Halloween or Christmas! Oh let’s face it, it’s both!!!

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Horror October: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas #BookReview #HalloweenReads

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Kill Creek // Scott Thomas // October 2017 // Inkshares // Goodreads

Kill Creek has been on my Horror October TBR list for two years running so I’m glad to have finally gotten round to it. I thought it would be a classic haunted house story, and in a way it was, but it was also so different to what I was expecting.

In this perfect-for-Halloween read, four famous horror writers are invited to an infamous haunted house for an unconventional all-night interview  with controversial online journalist Wainwright, in what seems to be an homage to the classic film House on a Haunted Hill. But really, that’s where the similarities end.

After a lot of bickering, some ruffled feathers, and classic haunted house hi-jinks, the writers survive the night and go home. The End. Not reeeeeally. I mean they do head home, but the story is far from over.

I felt like this major twist on the classic haunted house tropes was a double-edged sword. On one hand I thought it was genius as it was the last thing I was expecting, but on the other, I felt deflated. I wanted the predictable people Vs the house story. It had been set us as such and I felt cheated.

However, that’s just me being petulant. What followed was a story in itself, one that felt new and while it held my interest, I did think it could have been condensed slightly.

Overall, Kill Creek was a surprising take on the genre, one that is certainly in need of a bit of a shake up, so I applaud Thomas for that. It’s a perfect read for All Hallow’s Eve.   

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Horror October: Spine Chillers & The Birds #Review #RadioPlays

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Welcome to Horror October 2018!

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I only recently started listening to audio-books.  I find their success very dependent on the narrator, but on the whole I like the medium as it enables me to get through some ‘reading’ whilst doing other things, which is pretty much necessary these days.

I was looking for some Horror-October suitable audios on my app when I came across two which caught my eye, and weirdly they are both turned out to be BBC radio plays, something I haven’t really listened to before either. 

The first one I listened to was Spine Chillers, a collection of ghost stories by M.R James.

spinechillers

I’ve read some of James’ ghost stories before and quite enjoyed them so I thought this would be a great thing to listen to on an Autumn afternoon walk in the woods.

Unfortunately, because I was walking, I don’t think I was able to give it my full attention, and to be honest I found it quite difficult to figure out where one story ended and another began. 

What I did really enjoy was the actual  radio dramatisation aspect. The sound effects were great; there’s a lovely nostalgia in hearing the wind howl, and a window smash and picturing someone in a sound studio surrounded by props. 

It might be obvious to some, but I was surprised at just how different to an audio-book it was. 

“In ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’, Professor Parkins embarks on a terrifying journey of discovery after he removes a curious artefact from the ruins of a Templar preceptory; while ‘The Tractate Middoth’ sees diligent curator David Garrett caught up in the machinations of the mysterious Dr Rant when he’s sent to retrieve an obscure manuscript from the library stacks. ‘Lost Hearts’ tells of a young boy haunted by two ghostly children, and in ‘The Rose Garden’, terrifying forces are unleashed when the Goodmans tear down their old summer house. Finally, ‘Number 13’ takes us to the Danish town of Viborg, where Dr Anderson puts himself in terrible danger as he investigates why the hotel he’s staying at does not contain a room 13.” – Goodreads

The Tractate Middoth was my favourite of the stories, unsurprisingly as it’s about a library LOL, but not particularly spooky. The Rose Garden did provide some welcome creepy moments however. 

All of these tales are family-friendly, and would make a really nice alternative to watching a spooky film on Halloween. Gather around a fire with a hot drink and enjoy a ghost story or two, but don’t expect to be scared…unless you have a very low horror threshold.

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The second one I picked was a dramatisation of Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds.

thebirds

I’m most familiar with the Hitchcock film – an absolute classic – but I did know a bit about the original story too, although I’ve never read it.

This was a different experience than the James collection altogether. The Birds gripped me from the get-go, and although one of the actors had a really piercing, irritating voice (sorry, but ow! My ears.!) it was great!

The tension builds very slowly, and is helped by the fact that the father is a bird-lover and at first reluctant to believe that the birds are dangerous, but of course, we know that they’re deadly.

The sound effects in this were great too, it added to the suspense and terror perfectly. A great listen for Halloween.

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Ten Films to Watch on Netflix UK This Halloween: Part 1 #HO18

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1. The Boy (2016)

theboy

An American nanny is shocked that her new English family’s boy is actually a life-sized doll. After she violates a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.

 

The Boy might have a ridiculous premise, but if you’re anything like me and hate dolls, you’ll find this gloriously creepy, and it’s a really well done, if not silly, horror.

Scare Factor: 4     Creep Factor: 10

 

2. The Open House (2018)

openhouse

A teenager and his mother find themselves besieged by threatening forces when they move into a temporary house which is actually for sale and has open Sundays.

DirectorsMatt AngelSuzanne Coote

Writers: Matt AngelSuzanne Coote

This was actually much better than I was expecting. There’s definitely something creepy about having strangers in your house, especially when you suspect that they may not have actually left…

Scare Factor: 6                        Creep Factor: 5

 

3. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

autopsy

A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harbouring dark secrets.

StarsBrian CoxEmile HirschOphelia Lovibond

Autopsy is a hidden gem. I feel like it definitely deserves more exposure than it’s been given.

 

Scare Factor: 7           Creep Factor: 7

 

4. I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

ispitA writer who is brutalized during her cabin retreat seeks revenge on her attackers, who left her for dead.

Director: Steven R. Monroe

Writers: Adam Rockoff (screenplay) (as Stuart Morse), Meir Zarchi (based on the film by)

If you haven’t seen the original, then watch that instead, but it’s sadly not on Netflix. This remake isn’t half bad though and gives you a good taster of one of the most classic stories of revenge ever told on screen.

Scare factor: 8                             Creep Factor: 4

5. The Awakening (2011)

awakening

In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the ‘missing’ begin to show themselves.

DirectorNick Murphy

Writers: Stephen Volk (screenplay), Nick Murphy (screenplay)

Stars: Rebecca HallDominic WestImelda Staunton 

It’s been a while since I saw this but I remember it being much better than I was expecting. Some genuine scares and many potential jump scares.

Scare Factor: 7            Creep Factor: 7

While we’re talking about Netflix, has anyone watched The Haunting on Hill House yet? Thoughts? I watched the first episode and didn’t enjoy it at all. Do I need to give it a chance?

 

This Year in Horror (thus far) #HO18

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A round-up on my horror reads this year so far

The Hematophages

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Author:
Stephen Kozeniewski
Series: N/A
Format: Digital, 326 pages
Publication Details:  April 1st 2017 by Sinister Grin Press
Genre(s): Horror; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads

Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind.

Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld.

Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort.

But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES

Review

I was in two minds going into this book. On one hand, I expected to like it because I’ve enjoyed many of Stephen Kozeniewski’s previous books (Braineater Jones, Hunter of the Dead and The Ghoul Archipelago) , but on the other hand, I don’t have a huge capacity for deep-space colony settings/ hardcore sci-fi novels.

Luckily for me, 1. I’m a bit of a gore-fiend, and that came in spades, and 2. It appears that everything Kozeniewski writes is so damn readable! It’s annoying, really. 

The Hematophages centres around Paige, a seemingly accomplished and confident Doctoral Student. But deep down she’s inexperienced and naïve, having never left her space station. Paige bags herself a ‘need to know’ mysterious new job which will send her on a mission into the fleshworld (yes, it’s as gross as it sounds) with its oceans of blood and blood-drinking alien-fish monstrosities. 

The mission is fraught with danger from the start, attacked by pirates with no skin before they even arrive, and then the realisation that they are actually salvaging the world-famous ship The Manifest Destiny which holds some truly grim surprises of its own, Paige and her new BFF/the object of her affection, Zanib will be extremely lucky to get out alive (and with all their parts), never mind complete the mission.

I wasn’t sure about protagonist Paige at first. She seemed to have two entirely different personalities, which meant it took me a little while to get into the swing of things, but I warmed to her eventually and ended up really enjoying this fast-paced story.

The thorough world-building made it easy to understand Kozeniewski’s epic vision. And it was epic! As I said earlier, I’m not a huge SF reader, so maybe this was nothing new, but it was definitely new to me, and felt unique.

I liked that in this version of the far-future the human race are all one colour due to years of inter-racial sex, that the gross Skin-Wrappers evolved from ostracised people with some kind of cancer, and that men have completely died out. Hurrah! (I joke…but, imagine).

Written well, full of stomach-churning wrongness and women kicking some blood-sucking, alien-fish-with-teeth-for-tongues ass, Kozeniewski has done it again. He’s like the indie master of horror. Or something. Give him a try if you can stomach it!

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Flood and Fang

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Author: Flood and Fang
Series: The Raven Mysteries #1
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: March 1st 2009 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre(s): Children’s; Gothic; Fantasy
Goodreads

Meet the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand.

Edgar is alarmed when he sees a nasty looking black tail slinking under the castle walls. But his warnings to the inhabitants of the castle go unheeded: Lord Valevine Otherhand is too busy trying to invent the unthinkable and discover the unknowable; his wife, Minty, is too absorbed in her latest obsession – baking; and ten-year-old Cudweed is running riot with his infernal pet monkey.

Only Solstice, the black-haired, poetry-writing Otherhand daughter, seems to pay any attention. As the lower storeys of the castle begin mysteriously to flood, and kitchen maids continue to go missing, the family come ever closer to the owner of the black tail…

Mini Review

This is was fun, middle grade read, with a gothic vibe – of such the kind that Sedgwick is so good at. The illustrations were inspired, too. Fans of the likes of The Addam’s Family will be sure to love this series.

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Member of the Family

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Author:
Dianne Lake
Series: N/a
Format: Digital, 384 pages
Publication Details: March 8th 2018 by HarperCollins
Genre(s): Memoir; True Crime
Goodreads

In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls.”

At age fourteen, Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.

Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.

While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting account from an actual Family member is a chilling portrait that recreates in vivid detail one of the most horrifying and fascinating chapters in modern American history. 

Mini Review

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had this weird fascination with Charles Manson, but I never really read that much about him in the time before the murders took place. This book, written by the youngest recruited member of ‘the family’, provides a lot of insight on that time when the group transitioned from a hippie commune, to a sadistic cult capable of the harshest of crimes.

I found a lot of this book interesting but it dragged, especially in the beginning. I get that Dianne’s dysfunctional childhood is what paved the way for her joining Manson, but it could have been summarised a bit. I’m glad I read it though!

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Midwinterblood

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Midwinterblood // Marcus Sedgwick // October 2011 // Indigo // Goodreads

I’m a huge fan of Marcus Sedgwick. He’s written some of my favourite books (My Swordhand is Singing; Blood Red, Snow White; She is Not Invisible), and I’ve been slowly working my way through his back-catalogue. Midwinterblood had been on my list for a while and I’m pleased I finally got round to it.

It’s an odd book, and I mean that in the best way. It’s one of those books that’s like reading a dream. It explores the theme of soulmates in that deliciously dark tone that you’d recognise in Sedgwick’s early novels if you’ve read any. It’s mysterious and tantalising, in that as you encounter the several versions of the protagonist, the truth feels like an unobtainable thing. I found that this forced me to keep reading, but in some ways made me want to give up too.

The setting helped too. I wonder if Sedgwick had Fair Isle in mind as that’s all I could think of as I was reading which made it all the more mesmerising. 

I can’t say Midwinterblood is gripping in the normal way a thriller or mystery book is, but its strangeness made it impossible for me to stop reading. 

I’m quite disappointed with the amount of horror I’ve read this year-  barely any at all. But I will definitely make up for it this Autumn!