A young boy craves adventure. An uncle is more than happy to encourage this personality trait. But will adventure lead him further into a darkness he’ll regret?
Spencer, discovers he has diabetes, victim to shots and the monotonous monitoring of sugar levels, but he copes. Even better, this gives him a mutual affliction with a young girl named Chloe, whom our protagonist happens to have a low-key crush on. This shared medical illness, leads them to realize they have another shared interest (or concern): something flying around their town murdering people. But what is it?
As usual, Anthony devices a superb plot, with excellent twists, and heavily researched characters that appear as real as you and me. We root for Spencer, developing a relationship with this young man and his struggles. These struggles aren’t just restricted to diabetes and a murderous not-so-mythical creature, but a complex family dynamic also. What more could a reader want?
Are Spencer’s struggles with the monster a metaphor for his struggles with diabetes? I feel so. It’s a strong metaphor for life in general. Events and incidents are thrown are way, and sometimes we feel a lack of control, as he feels by trying to self-care with his ailment. A strong life lesson. I am not sure if Mr Hains intended this worthy analogy, but for me, it gave the story a new level of not just entertainment, but significance.
As someone who lives in Michigan, near Lake Michigan, I love that Mr Hains chose to set this novel near that very lake. But on the other hand, it made this novel all the more unsettling and a little too close to home. However, as usual, I was spellbound to the pages, unable to put the book down!
Captivating. Brilliant. Powerful. A thrilling tale of a young man with his own personal struggles, battling a supernatural intruder to his livelihood.
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When you read the following 'based on true events', does it give you extra chills? This isn't just the vivid imagination of a writer, this actually happened! Yes, sometimes that is merely a marketing ploy, but other times it's a promise. A promise that this did happen, and could happen again.
1) The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Firstly Jennifer Carpenter (White Chicks, Dexter, Quarantine) is superb. She portrays a truly terrifying woman possessed. When you know this did happen to a woman at some point, drinking urine, having convulsions and being offended by all religious items, you'll be served with an extra dose of chill.
2) The Haunting in Connecticut.
A family moving into a Connecticut home with a son suffering cancer, and realizing it is haunted, did occur. Spanning back to the 1980s a family did actually move into a house that they strongly believed was haunted after several unexplained incidents.
3) The Conjuring.
Now, Patrick Wilson (Insidious) and Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) are fantastic in their portrayal of a couple of paranormal investigators, based on a married couple that does exist, Lorraine and Ed Warren. This movie is frightening as hell, so to think this genuinely did happen, is unnerving, to say the least!
4) The Hills Have Eyes.
A family ravaged by hillbilly cannibals, including one horrific rape, happened?! Oh yes, it happened. A man named Sawney Bean married and had 14 kids, most of whom were the result of incest. The family were...gulp..cannibals, who resided in caves and murdered over a thousand people!
A spin-off movie from The Conjuring produced this chilling flick, which stems from a true story. Eurgh. Creepy dolls. Yeah, real. Though the movie exaggerates the events, that doesn't change the fact that it happened.
Christ-on-a-cracker! Jaws is based on a true story?! Maybe I won't go for that summer break by the beach after all. Okay, so don't panic. A great white didn't repeatedly attack members of a family. But, there was a string of shark murders off the New Jersey shore in 1916 that sent people into a frantic panic, threatening tourism.
7) Open Water.
Again, another shark-related movie. A couple that got left behind while on a scuba diving trip and were stranded in the sea, vulnerable to drowning, starvation, and most importantly, great whites!
8) Paranormal Activity.
A couple convinced that their home is haunted, purchase cameras and set them up around the house, convinced they will find some form of paranormal activity. While loosely based on true events, it still begs the question, if you think you are being haunted, maybe don't record them? They don't like it.
9) Wolf Creek.
A psycho Australian man, basically an Aussie version of The Hitcher, terrorizes innocent people.
The real life story is a hitchhiker killer - Ivan Milat: captured and tortured many travelers during the 1990s.
10) The Exorcist.
And it only seems appropriate to end with one of the scariest movies of all time. Oh, and it just happens to be again, based on real events. The movie is based on a book which is based on a real-life tale of a young boy by the name of Roland Doe who is strongly believed to have been possessed in 1949. Several witnesses backed up the claims on this one. Extra chills!
Maybe you'll think twice the next time you scoff at 'based on real events'. Maybe a movie will record your haunting tale in the future.
Love water-based horror movies? Me too! Call them my guilty pleasure, if you will. I guarantee you'll enjoy these movies. They may make you afraid of stepping foot into a large body of water, but after watching this list, maybe you'll be glad you are now aware of just what predators are lurking under the surface.
Come on, I couldn't leave out Jaws. Still, years after its release, is one of the most successful creature feature horror movies, having grossed over $470 million! We all know the story: a shark out for blood.
2) Deep Blue Sea.
Another one of my favourite Aquatic Horrors. Here, the sharks get smart, injected with a compound by scientists in an underwater lab, allowing them to tap into uncharted territories of their brains. But what starts as an important experiment, soon turns the tables. Why would you want to make sharks intelligent? That seems like a recipe for disaster.
This one made me terrified of lakes and rivers. A bunch of genetically-modified piranhas are released into a stream, open to feast on whatever or whoever they like. A mention has to also go to Piranha 3D and Piranha 3DD, also great guilty pleasure creature features.
4) 47 Meters Down.
Now, this one just came out at theaters but is rumored to be fantastic. So far, the reviews have been impressive. Two girls go cage-diving with sharks, when the rope snaps, leaving them 47 meters under water, victim to the water-demons!
5) Open Water.
I've found this movie is quite controversial. Some love it, others hate it. It is seen as a slow burner gradually stitching suspense into the plot and building to an interesting conclusion. Most horror viewers want quick payouts and don't care enough to be patient, so maybe skip this one if you want an abundance of jumps and thrills straight off the bat. Basically, a couple goes on a scuba diving expedition, only to be left behind at sea, vulnerable to predators of the water.
6) Shark Night.
All they want is a weekend of fun. Sex. Swimming. Drinking. But when Sara's friend returns from a salt-water lake missing an arm, things go awry! It turns out someone is stocking the lake with ravenous sharks!
7) Ghost Ship.
Now, let's step away from creature feature horrors and acknowledge a flick that most seem to enjoy. A boat salvage crew discover the remains of a grand passenger line deemed lost for more than forty years! The crew hops onboard to face unexpected evils stemming from the ship's history.
8) Black Vampire Water.
A documentary crew investigates a string of brutal killings known as the Black Water murders. Could this be an investigation they will come to regret? This is slightly reminiscent of 'The Descent' but with a refreshing twist.
9) The Reef.
An invitation for sun, sea and tranquility, who'd turn that up? But when aboard a boat, and it hits a rock, capsizing, the fun is put on hold. Tension escalates between the group as some believe they should stay on the sinking boat's hull, others believe they should swim to Turtle Island. But wouldn't that leave them vulnerable to sea creatures?
10) The Shallows.
Blake Lively shows that she's more than just a pretty face in this one. She wows in the water! Nancy, whilst surfing at a secluded beach, finds herself facing a shark. Although she isn't far from the shore, dare she step from an isolated rock and swim back to the beach with a huge predator hot on her tail? This puts Nancy through her paces as she has to outsmart the shark to survive. And making things worse, she only has so long until the rock she stands on will be devoured by the sea.
So, when you think of Britain, what do you think? Tea? Crumpets? Scones? Castles? Horses? The Queen? Well, we can actually manage to offer some rather lovely-jubbly horror films. Why not enjoy these movies in the good ol' stiff-upper-lip manner, and grab a cuppa (tea) and some biscuits (cookies)?
A classic. Based on a novel by Clive Barker, a couple move into an old house and discover a horrifying creature: the man's half-brother, and woman's former lover. Talk about family drama! This creature has some rather insidious agendas in mind.
2) 28 Days Later
One of the better zombie movies, which just happens to do the UK proud! In a secret lab, a monkey is released with a contagious virus. A while later, 28 days to be specific, the virus has spread through the majority of the United Kingdom, turning everyone into raving, psychotic nutters.
3) The Woman in Black
Daniel Radcliffe shows he is more than a wand-wielding Harry Potter in this creepy story of a lawyer who is recently widowed, traveling to a remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased eccentric. Spooky, jumpy, and terrific.
4) The Descent
One of my favourite movies, which does Brits everywhere proud. Some kick-ass women go on a hiking holiday and end up trapped in some rather treacherous caves. As it turns out, suffocating and starvation aren't the only threats they face.
5) Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson stars in this chilling tale of a woman searching the highway for forsaken men, enticing them into an otherworldly lair. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again. Unusual, unsettling, but addictive.
6) The Conjuring 2
Set in what I call 'Vintage England' - a true representation of working-class Britain - Ed and Lorraine Warren are on another one of their paranormal investigations. They come to the aid of a single mother raising four children in a house that has witnessed some incredibly strange phenomenon. James Wan is one of the directors to watch! Every movie he directs is gold!
Melissa George, one of my personal horror heroes, starring in 30 Days of Night and others, adds edginess to this role. The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas.
Two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor befriends Frank and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.
9) Eden Lake
This is pure gritty British horror, so suspenseful you'll be palpitating. Simply put, a young couple gets away for a break and finds themselves facing a rather brutal gang of chavs (thugs). Intense doesn't even begin to describe this one!
10) An American Werewolf in London
Another classic for you. Two American students travel to Britain, only to find themselves in the crosshairs of a ravenous beast.
There you have it, good day ol' chap!
Those Aussies sure know a thing or two about horror movies. They've released some terrific flicks over the years. I suggest you watch all these on the list and always stay on the lookout for Aussie horrors. They ain't afraid to push those boundaries and abolish those limits. They'll go as far as required to make a shocking but superb movie!
1) The Loved Ones
Since when do you torture a guy just because he refuses to be your prom date? Get ready for this one.
2) Wolf Creek 1 & 2
A truly deranged individual just won't stop. He'll hack you to pieces.
This is an outstanding take on the sub-genre of horror: 'zombie / apocalypse'. A must-see!
These days this movie is the new LGBT horror icon due to Netflix incorrectly putting it in the LGBT category and not in the horror one. Either way, this movie's great and has to be seen. A boy keeps having dreams that a monster is going to attack.
He wants to escape violence. A man comes to his rescue. But will this man lead him into even more violence?
6) Black Water
What lays down under? And by under, I mean the water. And by lays, I mean is hungry for your flesh! A great croc-flick! If you love creature features, absolutely check this one out!
A revolutionary vampire movie. Nothing more need be said. If you enjoy toothy films, hit this one up!
8) The Tattooist
A tattoo artist steals a tool. Little does he know that tool will lead him into a vat of trouble! Plus, for the gays and gals, Jason Behr strips off in this one.
There you have it, some of the finest Aussie flicks for the true horror fans among us, who want to experience all forms of horror from around the globe.
Like sick, messed-up movies? This is the list for you!
WARNING: some of these films are deeply disturbing.
The Last House on the Left
What's it about? A gang of deranged individuals wreak havoc among a nice family.
Why is it sick? There is a particularly graphic rape scene, which will churn your stomach!
What's it about? A wannabe-doctor performs an insane procedure on three individuals.
Why is it sick? Many many scenes are horrific, forcing you to gag and cringe mightily.
What's it about? Buddies travel Europe, wanting nothing more than sight-seeing and sex. They come across a terrifying 'business' in the slums of Europe, ruining their vacation.
Why is it sick? Multiple moments of massacre and bloodshed.
What's it about? A man who wants to turn a woman into an obese monster.
Why is it sick? This is possibly one of the strongest films in a graphic manner, I've ever watched. It's morbidly fascinating, but completely disgusting. As he force-feeds this woman, among other things, you'll be gagging up a storm.
Wolf Creek 2
What's it about? A psychotic Australian man with an odd moral compass.
Why is it sick? Among scenes of mutilation, there is a scene that stands out, where a man has his manhood chopped off. Men, prepare yourselves for this one!
What's it about? A group of New York student activists travel to the Amazon to save the rain forest, stumbling into a strange cult.
Why is it sick? Superman-strong scenes of cannibalism. Props to the special FX team as the cannibal parts are beyond realistic.
What's it about? A bizarre man who adores walruses finds himself interviewed by an American pod-caster. Only, the pod-caster uncovers more than he wanted.
Why is it sick? Completely insane! A crazy old man literally tries to turn a young American dude into a walrus. This will have you repeatedly saying 'what the f*ck?'
There you go. Prepare yourselves.
Over the past several years we have been very lucky with horror gracing our television screens. We've had some stellar horror shows, inventive, original, and compelling. So, here's my list of 10 horror TV shows you need to watch!
1) American Horror Story.
Come on, can it get any better? This show broke new ground by being an anthology series. Each season is a different plot, with new characters, but often played by a recurring cast. They explore a haunted house, asylum, witches, circus, hotel, and there is more to come. This is a still-going show, so catch up with previous seasons on Netflix, so you can be up-to-date for the new season to air this fall. However, that's one of the perks of an anthology series. With each season bringing new storylines and a new set, with new messed-up characters, you could watch multiple seasons simultaneously. Kathy Bates stars!
2) Harper's Island.
I don't know about you, but I love Island Horror. This show aired in 2009. A bunch of young people go back to an island that holds many traumatic memories, all for a wedding. One by one, they are hacked away by a merciless killer. This was reminiscent of 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' and other teen-slasher flicks. However, the depth of this show is deep. We explore characters in great detail, and the complexities of their personal lives, as well as the backstory of the horrific event that caused some to consider not attending this celebration. While only one season, available on Amazon Prime / Amazon video, it is worth a watch!
3) True Blood.
Vampire are real. Did you hear? They have officially come out of their coffins, no longer in the gloom. But this brings a new, fascinating world with new rules. Vampires just want to be treated like everyone else, they want equal rights. But as is common in society, especially where this show is set, there are bountiful bigots that object to any change. We follow Sookie, the lead character, as she falls for a vamp, in a world with much hatred for their kind. Throughout the show we don't just explore the toothy creatures, but fairies, werewolves, witches, and other sorts of supernaturalness. But this series brings a different flavour to each type of creature.
Gory. Well, what did you expect? We follow someone with a keen ability to put himself into the mind of killers, as he helps out the law by finding many killers. But whilst doing this, there is a serial killer at large. This one is elegant and unsettling, with some fabulous performances from the cast. Gillian Anderson guest stars.
5) The Walking Dead.
Now, chances are you already watch this, unless you've been living under a rock. But it bears mentioning. A zombie show that has broke records for being the highest viewed show on cable television. It goes way beyond a zombie apocalypse. We delve into characters, and other threats out there, spurred by the decline in society and a lack of order. It's a free-for-all.
6) Stranger Things.
Wow, Winona Ryder, what an actress. After battling stigma, this actress is back on our screens in a sensational show, proving her relevance. A young boy goes missing, forcing his friends to go on a dangerous journey to get him back. This show is so successful because it's set in the 80's, and brings with it a heavy serving of nostalgia. This takes us to a time when kids used to ride bikes, not play video games obsessively. It's very reminiscent of many Stephen King novels where a band of kids are the lead characters. We've only been blessed with one season, but a second is on the way. Due to the feedback and success, I imagine much more seasons to come. You can watch this on Netflix right now.
7) Bates Motel.
We've all heard of Norman Bates, right? A psycho who cares deeply for his mother. Every wondered what he was like as a child? Well, here is your answer. This show is terrific, Vera Farmiga is superb, as usual, playing the mother of a disturbed child. This series respects the movie 'Psycho' but adds so much more to the story. Check it out on Netflix.
8) Scream TV series.
'What's your favourite scary movie?' Come on, we've all heard that line from the Scream movie. But now, MTV have taken a series into their hands, with two seasons, and a third on the way. It explores in much greater detail, a serial killer loose amongst a bunch of high schoolers. It's interesting, and I personally enjoyed it, despite not receiving the best comments from critics. Mystery is a heavy element. It isn't just about the killings, but who is the killer, and why are they doing this? That, for me, is why I thoroughly enjoy the show. Season three is rumoured to have a new cast in a new set; I guess we'll see! Either way, give this a shot, I think it will surprise you. Got a Netflix account already? You may as well add it to your list!
9) The Strain.
Personally, one of my favourite horror shows on TV at the moment. An apocalypse storyline that takes us so much deeper and further than any apocalypse show ever has, including TWD. The acting is stellar, and pacing is perfect, the twists and turns are unseen and absolutely riveting. This is a must-see show!
Last but not least, we have a long-running show of over ten years! Two hunks chasing down demons. One is a perve, the other is a softer gentlemen, but are both brothers, carrying on the family business. I am amazed that this show is still going, it gives me hope that horror will always have a place in society. Yes, two hot guys leading the series doesn't hurt , but it is the new breeds of demon and great script that make this show so popular. It's one of the longest running shows ever, and for it to be a horror one, we as horror fiends, must be grateful and watch this out of respect! And, all 12 seasons are on Netflix right now.
See? We've got plenty of horror shows to be proud of in the twenty-first century! Go ahead, enjoy!
So, 2017 has been a good year for horror movies at this point, but it is far from over! Here is still what's to come.
- Annabelle: Creation (August)
- Amityville: The Awakening (June)
- It (October)
- Cult of Chucky (October)
- Demon Hole (October)
- Cloverfield 2017 (October)
- Saw: Legacy (October)
See, we've got plenty to come! And, they look awesome.
Bradley Cooper did a horror movie? And I didn't know? And he was impressive in the movie? A hat trick of yes.
Cooper plays a budding photographer gagging for his 'big break' into professional photography. After his friend hooks him up with a major contact, and asks him to go deeper into the dark, sinister side of photography, this leads him down a path so unnerving and dangerous, he'll soon end up regretting it.
Suspense was practically stitched into the plot. As Bradley's character Leon becomes obsessed with capturing moments of sheer terror and unsettling confrontation, he ends up catching the attention of a dangerous looking man, played by none other than Vinnie Jones.
Mr Jones, based on his exterior, looks the part, and played it remarkably well. I've found with some of his roles, when he talks and intends to threaten and intimidate, it breaks the realism. However, he didn't utter a word throughout the whole movie. Which is explained in the epic climax.
As Leon becomes convinced this man is responsible for a series of subway killings, despite being armed with little evidence, he throws himself in harm's way many times. This has the viewer gasping repeatedly, questioning his intellect and common sense. If you suspect a man is a killer, why follow him?
As I say, Cooper plays crazy well. Too well. You can almost feel the desperation. He is obsessed. Reckless. He has no regard for his own safety. I loved him in this role, and would love to see him branch out and star in more horror movies. He was superb.
On a content level, the gore is tremendous. Horror gore fiends will have a field day with this film. Blood and guts are just for starters. I found myself cringing many times, and I thought I was basically immune to cringing at anything in a horror movie, having seen thousands of them.
An odd observation, but I myself can get slightly OCD when it comes to angles and symmetry. So I had an usual respect that few will have for the shots in the movie. There were some excellent angle shots and symmetrical masterpieces.
And for the most part, the movie's filter is dark and grungy, only adding to the disturbing, on-edge vibe that 'The Midnight Meat Train' exudes.
The subtle soundtrack only emphasizes this feel, working hand-in-hand with the colours, and strengthening the suspense. Horror movies can make the fatal mistake when incorporating a soundtrack. The loud boom suggests a surprise. Or a faster rhythm suggests something is coming. Here however, there were no clues or telltale signs that something was approaching. All shocks are unexpected. When Vinnie's character locks eyes with Leon, we shudder. That dude is scary.
And then there is the ending. Wow. I literally felt my mouth drop and my eyes widen. I had made brief guesses as to how the movie would end. I in no way saw this coming. Serial killer, maybe. Sick fetish, maybe. The actual way it ended, never saw it coming. It smacks you between the peepers.
A group of teens head off to Henry Island for a weekend of drinks, fornication, and general debauchery. But the fun comes to a screeching halt with the discovery of a body. From then on, things go from bad to disastrous.
If you are a sub-genre snob and have the false impression this novel is a generic island horror with the usual teen cast from a cheesy slasher flick, you'd be gravely mistaken. This plot is thoroughly thought-out. The characters are so well characterized, they could be real people. The shocks are delivered with expert precision. The mystery thickens with every page, becoming more unnerving, yet alluring. We are spellbound to the pages, needing to know who is responsible and why. But in-between this investigation completed by our protagonist Meg, more bodies turn up under strange circumstances. Were they actually accidents? Or is something more at work here?
Gretchen takes what could be stock characters, and molds them into believable people with justifiable behavior and motivations. Meg, our central character, smart, beautiful, and an all-around do-gooder. She, unlike most teens there, plans to lock herself away in the bedroom and get some journal writing done or work on her laptop, being a writer and all. You can't help but love Meg, a great role model and a character with extra bite.
Next, we have her best friend Minnie, who for me personally, was irritating as hell, until the conclusion to the story reveals everything....
We have a few guys, ranging from nice and chivalrous, to the typical aggravating jerks. The same rules go for the other girls. Pleasant, or intolerable.
A house full of teens is bound to result in drama of some sort, and most are already headed to the island with baggage, both literally and figuratively. So you know it's gonna get good, even without the darker side of the weekend inevitably veering the partying off course.
The author catches us off-guard with the bodies, and other morsels of information, enticing the reader continually until she smacks us in the face with a stellar ending.
When said and done, the ending reminded me of the new hit show on Netflix, '13 Reasons Why', but with a vengeance. You'll understand what I mean when you enjoy this novel.
Also, there were elements of the TV show Harper's Island, which I loved. An island horror with subterranean depths.
All in all, Gretchen McNeil takes a sub-genre of horror and adds her own secret ingredients: a sprinkle of mystery, a dollop of death, and a dash of drama, all iced in a tightly and neatly structured prose that flows effortlessly.
I highly urge all readers to grab a copy of this one. For those who don’t enjoy unnecessary gore or overly graphic scenes, don’t worry, this isn't overly gory. There is just enough, all of which is appropriate for the shock-factor.
It's all about the characters and the plot, but bodies are weaved into the plot, along with buckets of suspense.
My first McNeil mystery, but I promise, it won't be my last.
Bestselling horror author, marketer, blogger, reviewer, business owner, freelance writer.