Firstly, this movie was everything I wanted it to be and more! It gave the hardcore horror lover everything they needed.
I have been waiting for this movie ever since JLC announced on social media that she would be doing another sequel, but this time, with a twist. This sequel would expose us to a new Laurie Strode. A fierce LS who has been waiting and preparing for the eventual return of the one and only Michael Myers. 40 years she has been prepping. 40 years she has armed herself with close combat, guns, and cunning. He has no idea what is in store for him this time. He won't be coming after a feeble teenager. He is hunting a survivalist.
Halloween is arguably THE movie that started the slasher sub-genre of horror. It was a huge success. And now it's breaking ceilings once more. It is ignoring all of the sequels and remakes and continuing on from the original John Carpenter 'Halloween' from 1978. While many of the sequels received harsh comments, the latest has so far been praised for its boldness and originality as well as paying homage to the original by flooding us with nostalgia. It is its own movie but respects what fans of the franchise want to see. We need a reason for this movie but we also want to see Michael walking zombie-like around a neighbourhood and butchering innocent people. We want to hear that infamous theme song. We want bone-chilling screams. And, oh boy, do we get that!
Without delving too much into the entire franchise and exploring how it has stood the test of time and has become iconic and has been analyzed for its metaphorical and literal significance, let's get down to this movie specifically.
We have Laure Strode, a grandmother, a loner, a woman portrayed as crazy and odd. She is no longer the fun-loving teen that everybody loves. She is a fighter. She has used trauma to turn her into a warrior. Her family, however, aren't too happy about her solitude and filling her grandaughter's head with stories of the boogeyman. The family dynamic is complicated and highly intriguing. We feel empathy on both sides. That in itself is entertaining, but come on, we didn't go to the movies to see a family drama, did we?
The first half of the movie feeds our need for nostalgia, while the second half treads uncharted territory. It shows us a new way to handle horror movies and franchises. Without giving away any spoilers, there are endless jumps and scares, but more importantly, genuine chills. In my opinion, this is the best of all the sequels and a superior sequel that has come from any iconic horror movie such as Scream, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and so on.
The casting is top notch. Each actor portrays each character convincingly and with purpose. However, as expected, JLC stole the show. I loved seeing this new Laurie, it was endlessly fascinating. I would not wanna take her on. And let's just touch on this lightly, the 'girl power' vibe. No longer are men needed to protect the ladies. Women can handle themselves. This theme is needed in horrors.
And, not so surprisingly, this movie has broken many box office records and has made $253.70 million so far! With this success, it was rumored that JLC would do one more sequel if John Carpenter is involved. However, sadly, she posted on social media with a statement declaring quite the opposite, essentially hanging up her hat for any future movies. Let's hope this changes.
The DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K is out now, packed with special features. Head over and buy your copy!
1) 'Pet Semetary', Stephen King remake, April.
2) 'Annabelle 3', July.
3) 'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark', August.
4) 'Us', March.
5) 'Happy Death Day 2U', February.
6) 'The Prodigy', February.
7) 'It: Chapter 2', September.
8) 'Godzilla, King of the Monsters', May.
9) 'The Curse of La Llorona', April.
10) 'Zombieland Double Tap', October.
It's the most wonderful time of the year.... for us horror lovers. Here is a list of the horror goodies available on Netflix this wondrously spooky season!
The Haunting of Hill House (Series)
A wonderfully twisted, creepy, and intriguing spin on The Haunting movie starring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Highly recommend for the chills. Slow paced and compelling.
Truth or Dare (Movie)
Low budget but modestly impressive. It's worth at least one watch. And what better time of the year?
The Sayers Medium Service will expel evil spirits from your house, for a fee. The Sayers just wanna make a quick buck and put on a great show. This is until they come across a house that is actually alive with evil... This is a must-see! High caliber acting, original story, and superb effects.
The Rain (Series)
How can you avoid rain when it's deadly? An interesting apocalyptic series. I have high hopes for a season 2!
The Haunting of Molly Hartley (Movie)
With a murderous mother rotting in prison, Molly thought she was safe. It turns out it's not just her mother that wants her dead.
As Above So Below (Movie)
Now, this is a total mindf*ck! Freaky, unsettling, confusing, and terrifying. I have been waiting for this to hit Netflix.
With all of these and some other spooky gems, it's safe to say that Netflix has our back this season.
My personal selection.
Now, not all horror movies fans will agree. But personally speaking, these movies gave me the chills! I highly recommend you tick these off your list if you haven't already.
1) Insidious 1 & 2.
Whatever you do, don't go into the further...
2) The Conjuring.
A witch story on steroids.
3) Evil Things.
Low-budget but high-chills as a group of youngsters head to a cabin.
4) Blair Witch (2016).
The woods bring death.
5) Paranormal Activity 1.
If you suspected you were being haunted, would you record it? This couple did. It didn't turn out too good.
6) It, remake or original.
Whether you take the original or the remake, both are killer clown flicks. Literally.
7) 30 Days of Night.
My favourite vampire movie. The fangers are gruesome AF!
8) Last Shift.
Ever wondered what goes on in a police station at night?
9) Dead Silence.
Eurgh. Ventriloquism. Need I say more?
10) The Strangers.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Because you were home."
Is that a motive for homicide?
Here comes another horror movie courtesy of Netflix. This one had a lot of promise and potential.
Based on Adam Neville's novel 'The Ritual', this flick has its ups and downs but for the most part isn't half bad.
Four men go on a hiking trip, despite the fact that none of them are exactly experienced. However, the trip is bittersweet as one of their group was recently killed in a horrific robbery, unable to attend alongside his buddies. For some, this trip a way of honoring him. For one in particular, who was there during the alteration and did nothing, is his way of coping with the enormous burden of guilt and regret hovering over him like a dark cloud.
However, while they expected brisk walks and soothing talks, mixed in with tents and basic food, something more ominous and supernatural comes their way. An unseen foe preys on their personal fears and weaknesses as they delve deeper into these woods. After a few strange and unexplainable incidents, the men quickly become unsettled and on edge. Tensions rise in the group as a result of the bizarreness following them, and their own issues. All the threads come loose.
One aspect of the movie I just couldn't get away from was the awkward and clunky conversations. I feel the scriptwriter tried too hard to create a macho vibe that came across as uncomfortable. Some dialogue was forced, as if to create a testosterone-fuelled weekend with beer and farting, when it made the characters appear two-dimensional and stereotypical. Yet, as the movie progresses, these archetypes become real people with genuine fears and problems. The initial awkwardness fades, to an extent. This is disappointing, as the actors are quite talented, I just feel that maybe the script or direction lacked during the filming process. I was especially impressed with Rafe Spall (Luke), who I instantly recognised from Hot Fuzz, though he played a drastically different character in this. Robert James-Collier (Hutch), straight from Downton Abbey, was the voice of reason and strength within the group. And Sam Troughton (Dom) showed his true colours as a highly nervous and stressed out character who cracked under pressure.
Although, the movie did have some strengths. The videography was excellent. Some shots of the wilderness were nothing short of majestic and elicited that tingly feeling. I found myself mesmerized by the scenery explored through a variety of angles.
The soundtrack was simple but fitting. It stirred up jumps and scares while producing a tense and unnerving atmosphere that I enjoyed. In some instances, silence was the best soundtrack they could administer to scenes of dread and suspense.
On a psychological level, the movie had meaning. It delves deep into their psyche and has their worst nightmares come to fruition. These tough guys became feeble, shivering wrecks after experiencing extremely graphic night terrors that toyed with their view of reality and fiction. For me, it was this intriguing exploration of psychology that maintained my interest and kept me hooked until the end. Not to mention, I wanted to know how they would end this tale. A bad ending can leave a bitter taste in your mouth and ruin the whole movie. Especially when the film had its obvious flaws from the get-go.
There are thousands of horror movies set in the woods with similar plots. It takes a truly great cast and director to bring something new to the table. What can they explore that hasn't been explored before or hasn't really been touched on, on a significant and detailed level?
Now then, the ending. Despite the problems in this flick, the ending more than made up for it. The speed dials up. The action becomes more fulfilling to a hungry audience. It becomes edgier and much more satisfying than the first forty minutes or so. There is one common and strange denominator in the suffering of these men, and that's a strange and large object. This explodes in the ending. While there were drawbacks, the ending perked me up and left me with a pleasant feeling. The flaws, in the grand scheme of things, were minor in comparison to how well the ending was executed.
Netflix is really upping their game this year by buying shows that stand out. Channel 4, a British network, produced this surprisingly superb series. It has unique scripts, professional and impressive effects, and great actors.
'The End of the F*cking World' is a hit.
What first drew me to it was that it's British, as am I. This comes across in the countryside scenery and the decor of homes, which I personally found to be nostalgic and overtly English. But secondly, I was drawn due to the elements of horror. After watching the trailer and discovering that the show explores a young boy who strongly believes he may be a psychopathic killer, I instantly added it to my list.
A young boy (James) is following the typical serial killer path: killing animals, doesn't 'do' emotion or socialize well, and the big give away: he yearns to kill something bigger.
In school, he keeps to himself. He blends in and avoids drawing too much attention to himself. He doesn't have time to deal with high school drama, he has bigger fish to fry. Or, if speaking technically, bigger living creatures to kill: humans.
A young girl takes a liking to him, a rather candid and brash young lady. She is outspoken and bold, to say the least. They begin an unlikely and unconventional love affair, which takes a dark turn. However, it does not turn out the way you think it will. The tables are turned on the viewer.
Throughout the series, the characters develop remarkably. You get two completely different people who grow on each other. They identify their differences and push past them. On a road trip to find the girl's father, they find themselves in a spot of bother on more than one occasion.
I found the lead actors, Jessica Barden (Alyssa) and Alex Lawther (James), to be impressive. They suited the characters fantastically.
Jessica portrayed Alyssa as this misunderstood girl who speaks out to deflect from her insecurities, behaving self-destructively. I went to school with girls like this, whose first response to most situations was anger, stemming from feeling uncomfortable, stupid, or misinformed. The performance came across as genuine. Although she made me uncomfortable on more than one occasion, I can't deny the authenticity of her performance.
Whereas Alex plays James as a quirky, odd individual who hates 'feelings' and is awkwardly stumbling through adolescence. We all knew, or were, someone like this. They were nice yet reserved, shy yet always there to offer help. However, James seems to merely want to blend into the background and prefers to monitor human behaviour, rather than partake in it.
Against all wishes, he begins to get 'the feels'.
The voice overs (internal dialogue) was needed with such characters that don't often speak. This aided character development and often their exterior didn't accurately express their inner anguish.
As the story progresses, we see glimpses of actual people with souls within these archetypes, creating a need to know who these people really are and how this horrible journey will affect them. Who will they turn out to be?
There are some adorable yet uncomfortable scenes that remind us what it's like to be that age, having these feelings and not sure how to handle them. It also reminds us we have all behaved embarrassingly as youngsters, acting out for attention, or as some form of a coping mechanism.
The pace was fast, but not rushed. Scenes were sharp with no 'filler' moments. Everything was essential to character development or the plot. And if anything, the show continues to strengthen as it progresses. These opposite characters start to form a bond, shockingly. Everything falls into place after that. Things get darker and darker as their twisted road trip continues, putting them face-to-face with danger.
I found the twists to be exciting and unexpected, none of which I saw coming. I'd say this fits in the middle of comedy, horror, and has definite 'indie' vibes. The production is top-of-the-range without being all flashy and Hollywood-esque. You are taken on a ride that's unnerving, inappropriate, entertaining, and bizarre.
Overall, I'd give this a 9/10. My only problem, which has nothing to do with the content but rather it's length, is that the episodes are super short. Each clock in at around twenty minutes. I sincerely hope there will be a season two. I can see this show sprouting off in so many directions.
2017 was an incredible year for horror movies. But some stood out more than others. Here are what I consider the cream of the crop for horror offerings in 2017.
A crazy man with multiple personalities? Oh yes!
2) GET OUT.
A literal mind-f*ck. A strong psychological horror.
Stephen King + Clowns + other creepies = nightmare fuel.
4) ANNABELLE: CREATION.
An excellent prequel that was far superior to 'Annabelle'. This gave us chills, jumps, entertainment, and ultimate horror.
Jennifer Lawrence delivers a spectacular performance in this one-of-a-kind horror/suspense flick. See it!
6) DEATH DAY.
She is destined to die over and over until she figures out who keeps killing her.
7) 47 METRES DOWN.
Shark Cage? Really? Disaster waiting to happen.
8) THE BABYSITTER (NETFLIX ORIGINAL).
A perfect blend of horror, comedy, and wittiness. A horror movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. I loved it!
9) RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER.
An excellent way to close out a sensational franchise.
10) ALIEN: COVENANT.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Aliens are back, baby.
If you happened to miss any of these 2017 treasures, get on that immediately, if not sooner.
Netflix has recently been doling out some excellent horror goodies. Make sure you don't miss out on them before they leave.
1) CREEP 2.
Original. Quirky. Suspenseful.
An amazing series about a man who is destined to see people for who they really are (monsters) and kill them!
3) FREDDY VS JASON.
A horror/comedy for some easy watching.
4) CAGE DIVE.
You're in a shark cage when the boat it's attached to is flipped over by a huge wave. Sound terrifying?
5) 30 DAYS OF NIGHT.
The scariest vampires onscreen since The Lost Boys. Vampires viciously attack a town that has 30 days without sun.
6) THE BELKO EXPERIMENT.
Odd. Exciting. Interesting.
7) INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2.
A horrifying sequel. This'll give you goosebumps for days.
8) VAN HELSING.
The second season has finally graced our Netflix accounts! A woman with a strange gift that could save the population from hordes of vampires.
9) THE GRUDGE.
A remake of a truly chilling Japanese movie starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. I can hear that neck-cracking sound right now... and that awful moan...
10) OPEN HOUSE.
A new Netflix original about a series of strange occurrences in an open house...
What are you waiting for? Get started!
As 2017 comes to an end, it's time to get excited about what horror movies 2018 is going to bring! Here we go.
1) Conjuring 3.
Ed and Lorraine Warren are back again to battle the forces of darkness.
2) The Nun.
Speaking of which, remember The Conjuring 2? Can you recall that creepy-ass nun? Well, the scary b*tch gets her own movie... Oh crap.
3) Insidious 4.
Keys for fingers, now that's horrifying! Lin Shaye comes back to the franchise to tackle some key-fingered evil.
4) Cloverfield 3.
Back into the movie series for a third installment of extra-terrestrial badness.
5) Purge 4.
So far, these movies have been great and touched on a real fear in many people of what may happen in the future with the wrong president and a corrupt government. This movie will be a prequel that explains the events leading up to the first purge and how it came to be. Excited? Hell yes!
Jesus Christ! Here it comes, the new Jaws. Only in this movie the shark is slightly bigger than Jaws, believe it or not. And with Jason Stratham, it's sure to be a kick-ass film.
7) Goosebumps; Horrorland.
One for the younger generation among us. I don't know about you guys, but I loved the books and the TV show, and the first movie. So I am stoked to watch this sequel.
8) Strangers: Prey at Night.
A sequel to The Strangers, a family staying in a mobile park for one night are pushed to their limits by a bunch of masked psychopaths.
9) The Crooked Man.
Another baddie from The Conjuring 2 that is getting his own spin-off film. He gave me goosebumps in The Conjuring 2, so no doubt this film will be pure nightmare fuel.
10) Deep Blue Sea 2.
Now this shocked me. I love Deep Blue Sea, so I was understandably hyped to hear they were creating a sequel! A billionaire gets ambitious and experiments on bull sharks. Doesn't sound like a good idea to me.
It's that time of year again. Even horror fiends like to get all festive and add some tinsel to their movie selection. So, if you want to be festive, but not compromise your horror-loving ways, this list is for you!
1) Better Watch Out
This is a new one. One cold, snowy night an intruder breaks into Levi's home. His only defense? His babysitter!
Another fairly recent one. Don't be bad kiddies or the Krampus will come for you!
3) Black Christmas (2006)
One of my personal Christmas horror faves. A psychotic man with a disturbing past takes it out on a group of sorority sisters living in his childhood home. Stop it, Billy!
4) Silent Night (2012)
It's silent. Everyone is asleep and resting. Everyone, that is, but a killer dressed as Santa. The ultimate disguise. No one would expect Santa to axe them to pieces!
5) Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Deep in the Korvatunturi mountains, lays the secret of Christmas. It's about to get dug up! But is that something they really wanna do?
6) Jack Frost
You thought he was dead. You thought you were safe. Guess again. He is back... as a snowman!
7) Gremlins (1984)
Don't let them eat after midnight. Keep them out of the sun. And whatever you do, don't get them wet! A classic that I am sure most have seen but deserves a mention on this list.
8) Nightmare on 34th Street
This is brand-spanking-new! Santa does exist. He comes to 34th street to tell three horror stories that will change the way you look at Santa for good!
9) Krampus 2: The Devil Returns
He's back kiddies. You'd better behave!
10) Holidays (2015)
An anthology of short horror films set around the holidays.
What are you waiting for? Get the hot chocolate, the gingerbread men, the fluffy blanket, and sit by the tree for some great Christmas horror movies!
A Christmas Horror Story
Among the red bows, tinsel finished furniture and neatly wrapped presents were the shocked faces of the Dawson family. Surrounded by bells, mistletoe, gingerbread scented candles and a tastefully decorated Christmas tree, was the spoilt little child known as Bruce. He stood glaring maliciously at his parents, throwing the mother of all temper tantrums. Legs stomped. Arms flailed. His voice screeched. Liza, his younger sister, wept at his remark. Leonard and Lucy: their parents, were outraged at Bruce's behavior. They had no idea what had possessed him to act so selfishly. Normally this little child was one of the most respectful and polite young boys ever to have graced the planet. But tonight, consumed with greed and impatience, a self-centered little shit had surfaced. It was a family tradition at the Dawson's residence to open one present on Christmas Eve, so sticking with tradition, Liza and Bruce had unraveled one present each. Liza had torn delicately, a magic glow in her eyes. Whereas Bruce had ravaged through the paper, tossing it aside and opening the box to his present. There was no magical glimmer in his eyes. Instead, pure gluttony. Liza had been overwhelmed with her teddy bear, mashing it against her face in an adorable fashion, immediately naming it Fred. Bruce, on the other hand, was disgusted at receiving a puzzle; despite him having asked for it months earlier.
"What the hell is this?" he spat.
"Bruce, watch your tone!" Leonard had warned with a firm finger wagging.
"This is crap!" he screamed, launching it into the tree. The puzzle had skidded into the green bristles, catching on the lighting and ornaments, wrecking the tree as orbs plummeted to the cream carpet. Colourful bindings of tinsel came undone, shedding strings of shimmering colour, tiny figurines thumped onto presents and flipped onto the floor. It rained tree ornaments for several seconds.
An awkwardness swept through the living room. The cream interior of the classic American home froze in anxiety. Lucy didn't know whether to laugh or cry. And Leonard trembled with anger, wanting to smack the petulance from Bruce. Liza clung onto her new teddy, uncomfortable.
"Santa isn't even real!" he bellowed.
That sentence had stripped the vocal ability from the remaining family for several seconds, not quite sure how to respond. Neither his parents or sister could believe he would scream that with such malignancy. Why was he so mad? Lucy wondered. She'd never seen her little prince like this.
Leonard held back the instinct to bash his head in, choosing instead to get to the root of the problem first. Liza wept, hurt that he would even suggest Santa doesn't exist.
"Come here my sweet," Lucy whispered to Liza, beckoning her over with open arms.
The young girl toddled over in her red pyjamas, blonde hair tied in a bow.
"It is not true, Santa is real," she promised, rocking Liza on her knee.
"What is the matter with you? To say such a thing, and in front of your little sister Bruce!" Lucy asked, annoyed.
Bruce simply shrugged, appearing inconvenienced.
"Go to your room," Leonard ordered. He figured that was the safest place for him right now, Leo wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to still his temper.
"But I didn't even get to open a good present," he complained, with a patronizing look burrowed into his face.
"Go upstairs now or you will get no presents at all tomorrow and I will come upstairs with my belt!" Leo threatened through gritted teeth. Bruce scampered upstairs in his snowman pyjamas. Although he dashed away in fear of receiving the belt, his face was scrunched in anger.
The little brat stormed upstairs, huffing and puffing. Leonard fixed the tree and took the puzzle away, hiding it in the kitchen. "The little shit," Leo muttered, reaching the puzzle on to a kitchen cabinet too tall for anyone but him to see or collect.
"What are we gonna do?" Lucy fretted, whispering.
"There is nothing we can do now," Leo responded, disappointed and sad, retrieving a bottle of whiskey from the fridge.
"But he denied his existence, Leo!" Lucy spoke with force but restrained volume.
"Shhh! Maybe they didn't hear, just take care of Liza," he advised, pouring himself a generous serving of liquor to settle his nerves. Lucy reluctantly carried her daughter into the living room while Leo took a secret swig from the whiskey bottle.
Lucy rocked her daughter, soothing Liza until she became sleepy in her arms. In her red silk nightgown, resembling Mrs. Claus, Lucy carried her little angel to bed. Meanwhile, Leonard put out milk, cookies and carrots for the reindeer, hands trembling as he did so.
While his wife tucked in Liza, he cradled a glass of whiskey in his leather armchair. He tried to shrug off his son's attitude and his worry of the consequences and get back in the Christmas spirit. After all, the living room was magnificently embellished. An explosion of reds, golds, ornaments, globes, miniature snowmen and gingerbread men were scattered on the fireplace, coffee table, and window sill. The walls and photo frames were bordered in glittery stretches of various fabrics, and that was just the living room. The theme of Christmas spilled throughout the house, drenching every room in various forms of festivity. It was a result of a family working together to bring Christmas cheer to their home. Beneath the rage of his son's inexcusable behaviour was a nagging disappointment munching on his stomach as it squirmed uncomfortably. Leo hadn't raised Bruce to behave in such an unforgivable manner. Not once had Bruce even come close to acting out like this in the past. So Leo questioned his son's motives. Or was hitting the teenage years finally taking its toll? Either way, regardless of the reason, his outburst could turn out fatal. Draining the last of his whiskey, Leo hung his tumbler in the dishwasher and headed to bed. He had a good mind to rip Bruce a new one, but truthfully, he was exhausted. In a few short hours the kids would hopefully be up and begging their parents to wake so they can play the routine of 'has Santa been?' The innocent, naive children had no idea just what they were asking for when they asked if St Nick had been.
The whiskey would help send him straight to slumber, to take full advantage of the short window of opportunity to catch some shut-eye. So Leo wandered into he and his wife's room and collapsed into bed, falling into a deep sleep only minutes after his head was cushioned by the pillow.
Listening intently, ear pressed against the bedroom door, Bruce waited until he was sure everyone was asleep. His father had begun snoring, sister gently wheezing in the room next door, and his mother was a silent but heavy sleeper: she could sleep through a violent earthquake. The air was chilly, various festive scents slithered down the halls, from potpourri, candles, and scented sticks. Bruce creaked open his bedroom door and crept through the hall, wading through cherry-plum coated dimness. His hands smoothed along plastered walls, occasionally tickled by garnishments. As he neared the stairwell the buzz of the Christmas tree zinged up the stairs. Other than that, and the odd passing car, silence seized the household.
Exploiting this, the child delicately declined the steps, placing a great deal of weight on the wooden banister spiraled in gold and red tinsel, as to minimize any moans from the steps. His feet went from fluffy carpet stapled to the stairs, to wooden beams of the foyer, back to snugly carpet in the living room. Multiple scents continued to grow; they were nauseating. Mum had gone way overboard with the candles this year! Cherry, cookie cream, gingerbread, peppermint and other sweet aromas soaked the interior, swimming in the air. The smells were so overpowering they even washed his palate; each bud of his tongue cleansed in sickly sweetness. He almost choked, but kept swallowing and chose to breathe only through his nose.
Bruce pranced through the living room, creeping by the bay window with velvet burgundy curtains drawn, and made for the tree. Lights battled the darkness, winning and bringing tinted colours into the room. Red, green and yellow lights that strangled the tree, emanated a magnificent glow. Everything was rinsed in a warm sprinkling of colours. These marvelous surroundings were lost on the boy, as his only concern was the presents awaiting his twitching fingers.
Bruce was only metres from the tree, sliding along the back of the couch, when a chunk of guilt lodged in his throat. He knew it was selfish, greedy, and he would be severely punished, but he wanted to open his presents now. The various patterns of paper that concealed his presents were just dying to be torn to pieces. Reindeer, candy canes, snowmen, sleigh bells, trees, elves and such; each called out to him. They pleaded with Bruce to be freed so the child could see his presents. At the thought of what gifts awaited him, the hint of remorse dissipated and was replaced with selfish excitement. Which is when he was pleasantly surprised to see even more presents in a huge black bag, propped against the fireplace aside the tree. It overflowed with perfectly wrapped gifts, bound in bows and name tags dangling from each one. Bruce couldn't wait any longer and rushed to the bag. He did briefly question how this had gotten in the living room. His parents hadn't had time to go upstairs and bring it down as Bruce had been listening intently the whole time. Unless his father got it from the basement while everyone was upstairs. The greed stole any further curiosity or anything hindering the unraveling of gifts.
After having seen the black sack, Bruce toddled to it, reaching out, with wide plate-like eyes. He yearned to slash the paper from each present, but he knew better than that. The ruckus was sure to wake Leonard and Liza. So instead, he gently untied the bows and delicately tore the paper. As his hands worked at freeing the present, his eyes wandered inside the sack. A mountain of presents lay inside as if it was a bottomless pit of gifts. Too good to be true. Among the finely wrapped items was a pair of angry-looking eyes, staring at Bruce from inside the sack.
Bruce jerked backwards, thumping to the ground and letting the half-opened gift skid along the carpet and join other presents under the shining tree. Something rustled from inside the black sack. Ripples traveled through it, along with a rumbling of laughter. Abrupt lumps deformed the bag, joined with 'na' noises. As if whoever or whatever was inside, aggressively shoved the boxes aside. The bulge indicated the creature's whereabouts; they were rising to the top, coming close to escaping. Bruce was sprawled on the floor, terrified. He shuddered in his snowman pajamas. A hat sprang from inside, similar to Santa's, with a white bobble on the end, but green. A band of white fur was squeezed around the forehead as the face loomed before the spoilt child. Bruce trembled ferociously. A pale forehead covered in lines and bushy chocolate brows appeared. So far it looked human, perhaps someone dressed as an elf. Bruce was slightly relieved and wiped mousey hair from his face. But when the eyes came, the boy knew this was something harmful. Vertical slits, like that of a cat, coloured a toxic green. They burned through the boy's flesh and terrified his soul. Idle tears ran down Bruce's face as his lips quivered. More of the frightful features arose from the bag: a huge gnome-like nose, more wrinkles scratched across the snowy skin, and a rather large mouth. The nose and mouth were disproportionately bigger than the remainder of the thing's face. And so were the long sharp teeth that held a restless wriggling tongue. "I'm hungry," it hissed.
Bruce somehow gathered the gall to scamper away from the bag. In a spider-like fashion, he backpedalled across the carpet, panting. In one swift movement, the creature sprang from the sack and landed on the floor. The speed of his spring was inhuman, an ivy blur still lingered behind. Bruce's vision caught up and focused on what stood before him. To the best of his knowledge, he stared at an evil elf.
The boy gasped in terror, still scurrying from it, palms burning against the carpet. Beads of sweat ran down Bruce's forehead, seeping through his brows and burning his darting eyes. "Please don't.." Bruce whispered.
"Don't what?" the elf asked in a demonic rumble that sent shivers rushing throughout Bruce.
"Don't hurt me," he wept, tears joining the stream of perspiration. His face was a damp, hot mess.
"I am not, I am just going to eat you," a tongue ran under the keen-edged teeth that were more comparable to narrow fangs.
"No, no, no," Bruce chanted, relentlessly pushing backwards.
The elf approached him, chuckling. Its fingers played an invisible piano as he reached out, saliva drooling from each corner of his mouth. Bruce came to a stop when he bashed into the closed living room door. I can't remember closing that. Bruce slumped onto his back and looked up at another devilish elf hovering above, grinning.
"Dinner time," the second elf muttered, equally as horrifying.
Bruce curled into a ball, squeezing his eyes shut in the vain hope it was all a dream.
"Not so fast little ones," a voice loomed from the room. It didn't have the strange lispy vocalizations of the other elves; it was powerful and threatening.
Bruce immediately felt the heat from the elves fade and the smell of mouldy gingerbread vanish.
Bruce, caught in the throes of curiosity, peeled open his peepers. For a second he stared at the ceiling, and the chandelier adorned with yet more tinsel. It was as if the gold light fixture was growing red furry mould. With the golden stems sprouting from the bulbs, was a reflection. The tiny elves were scuttering to a heavy-looking man in a red suit, strips of white broke up the cherry tones of a velvet jacket and baggy trousers. Huge black boots bounced light from the Christmas tree. Bruce actually smiled. Santa is real. The young boy became giddy and began to stand eagerly. Star-struck and tingling with anticipation, he paced to Santa. The red hat had a white ball on the end, matching his bushy beard. A pot-belly bulged from underneath his top. It was all true. Bruce spasmed in excitement on his approach. The harmful elves evaded his mind; his only thought was of Santa.
"Santa?" Bruce asked with a huge grin stretching from ear-to-ear.
The man, whose head was looking down at his elves, raised. The enthusiastic smile soon disappeared. Completely black eyes, dull dark flesh and an abundance of fangs at the gums; Santa was scarier than anything Bruce's nightmares could concoct.
"Yes Bruce?" he sneered, voice warbling: low and unquestionably demonic.
"Wh..." Bruce stumbled for words, frozen to the spot, aside the Christmas tree. Heat from the many lights warmed him. But there was no level of heat that could warm the frosty terror in his gut.
"I believe you denied my existence, young boy? That was very naughty!" he scolded.
Bruce wanted so badly to run, yet was glued to the carpet. Sweat also glued the pajamas to his skin. Fright had stolen all motor functions, save for his unsettled bowels and frantic pulse.
"It's time you were punished for that remark!" he winked.
As he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, Bruce tried to speak through a stiff throat.
"Pl...ple...please don't....I....a...am sorry," he stuttered in a high pitch.
"Understood, but the rules of North Pole state you must be punished Bruce," Santa explained.
"Are you going to kill me?" Bruce spurted out, needing to know. His intrigue overtook any fear for that moment.
"Oh no, of course not," Santa assured the young boy.
Bruce should be happy, but those black orbs where colourful eyes should be were horrifying. Not to mention the boy couldn't stop gawking at the razor teeth. Why does he have teeth that look sharp enough to shred anything?
"She is!" Santa pointed behind Bruce as a stale breath brushed his neck.
From the bristles of the tree, crept Mrs. Claus. The elves bowed in respect while Santa had a wicked grin smeared from cheek-to-cheek, ruffling his beard. She snuck behind the boy, bony hands waggling towards him, overgrown nails only inches from his mousy locks. Bruce broke from his fear-coma and spun to face her head-on. He instinctively yelped. Mrs. Claus had skin just as haggard as Santa, if not more so. Brown spots and deep lines were burrowed through layers of epidermis. Shadows exposed various lumps and bumps. Moles were scattered on the well-worn flesh, sprouting hairs. The eyes resembled Santa's black pools of darkness, above a hideous grin with more shreds of keen-edged fangs. Thinning grey hair hung limp and lifeless. A torn rosy dress covered the no-doubt saggy and revolting body. The material was frayed, blemished with many rips and stains.
"Merry Christmas," Mrs. Claus cackled, like the most wretched of all witches.
A reek of decay wafted toward the young boy, who was regretting his outburst a few hours ago. What would become of him? Just as Bruce was readying his legs to run, a swarm of elves surrounded him. Each had the grip of a superhero, strong and merciless. Bruce didn't even have time to think up a plan B before she swiped at him. A slash hit his stomach, fast and deep. Blood specs leapt to the chandelier, pokadotting the gold. A searing pain erupted in Bruce as his teeth clenched tightly. The second hacked across his chest, lopping off both nipples. Bruce screamed behind a stern jaw, shaking. More crimson liquid showered the living room. The upholstery became dotted in redness as the hag known as Mrs. Claus continued to scratch away at the petulant boy. Soon strands of skin were dangling, swinging from bone, leaking blood onto the carpet. A pool of redness was at Bruce's feet as if he'd pissed himself. All the elves did, besides holding him in place, was chuckle. Like children snickering at the back of a classroom, they were highly amused by the flaying of the young child. As muscle was also damaged, underneath the barely-attached skin, Bruce struggled to stand. Mrs. Claus noticed this, grinning with those heinous black eyes.
"Let him down," she ordered.
Without skipping a beat, each elf let him fall. Bruce thudded into the carpet, laying in his own fluid. The boy would have been disgusted, had it not been for his declining consciousness. His sight showed Mrs. Claus; the mischievous elves, and Santa, had stomped to her. Despite knowing his life force was draining, he was still terrified. It was like staring at demonic versions of Santa and his Mrs. Blood rushing to his head slowed, and the beat drumming on his temples was quieting; senses were drifting, to Bruce's relief. The many wounds had been enormously painful, so a natural anesthetic kicking in was welcomed. Bruce could taste his own blood, that was the only strong sense still present: a metallic tang painted his tongue. Sounds were hazy and distorted behind his drumming pulse. They all watched him, presumably inheriting great pleasure from the slaying of the boy. Yet when his eyelids began to shut, Mrs. Claus reached over and slapped his face. This brought a fresh burst of consciousness and new lease of discomfort as he instinctively sprang up slightly. A new injection of pain burst into each gash as he flopped back to the carpet. A siren of whirs loomed in his skull.
"Not so fast my boy," Santa coughed.
Bruce looked up, straight at Santa. The poor boy was totally discombobulated.
"You think death is your punishment? Oh no, that is far too merciless," he explained.
"Let me tell you what Christmas is really about my son. You want to know why people change their homes with 'decorations' as humans call them? To worship me. You want to know why you leave out milk, cookies and carrots? Not for me to snack on while doling out presents, that’s for sure. It is an offering so I don't get hungry and eat the children." Santa continued.
Bruce, only just holding on, had an uncontrollable impulse. "Then why do you bring us presents?"
Santa's head knocked back a little, shocked at the boy's outburst. They all laughed at his question, looking to each other. Bruce felt like an outsider, not being let in on an inside joke.
"You see the presents as a gift do you not?" Santa asked smugly.
Bruce's voice box couldn't take the assault of any more speech, so he nodded subtly. The slight nod caused him to cough up a drizzle of blood, running down either side of his mouth like a vampire. His once nipples stung mightily as a result of that cough. Bruce felt fresh blood seep from his two severed nipples, now nothing more than bloody stumps circled in crimson-stained areolas.
"The presents are a curse."
Bruce's brows furrowed. He didn't speak, only moaned, clearly perplexed.
"Me, Mrs. Claus, my elves and reindeer have been around for thousands of years. We will never die. Humans were like that once upon a time: immortal. Then their greed for more stuff consumed them. They knew the risks of summoning me each year; that I could potentially kill or eat their children. Along with the unknown danger of the presents being cursed, and little by little giving them mortality and certain death. Yet parents don't seem to care. By giving me offerings and getting bags of presents in return, it saved them money. All humans care about is that green paper," again, they all chortled.
"So every year I bring presents to the houses that worship me and accept the offerings. But some few thousand people around the globe will forget to put out offerings. Either they don't believe in Santa or have another religion. Whatever their excuse, I eat their young. And all humans know that by doing that I have the right to devour their children. Which is exactly what I do," his voice growled, as if the vocal chords themselves were hungry.
It took Bruce a gathering of seconds, but he eventually understood.
"And anyone that denies my existence will receive heinous torture of my choosing," Santa gloated.
As if Santa could read the boy's mind, he answered a niggling question of Bruce's.
"Yes, your parents did know that once you denied my existence I would more than likely be coming for you. They are all now in a deep sleep, under my spell. When they wake, all memories of you will be gone, along with any evidence or traces that you ever existed."
A huge pang of regret struck Bruce. Why had he suddenly been so selfish to say such a thing about Santa? What had come over him? His emotions were usually in check. Now he was going to be punished for an out-of-character remark.
"Kill....me..." despite Bruce not wanting to die, he would sooner just get it over with than prolong the inevitable.
"Oh no child, you will live forever," Mrs. Claus announced in a scrawny screechy voice that grated against Bruce's ears.
Utter perplexity made his dreary features spark to life, but huffed confusion, brain and body exhausted. At this point, Bruce would rather die, they were toying with him, and he sensed they were fully aware of that fact. Mrs. Claus lowered to him, stinking of decomposition. The black eyes and narrow teeth were all the boy could look at as his eyes darted between the two. Mrs. Claus reached behind her back while Bruce's eyes were glued to her horrific features. From behind, came a candy cane. Mrs. Claus held it tightly as if it might fly away. A red and white striped stick that curved at the end. It was larger than any he'd seen before; at least twelve inches. More befuddlement came, until Mrs. Claus revealed that the base of it had been whittled to resembled a dagger. As nervousness rumbled in his stomach, the hag stabbed Bruce. It sank into his stomach. The candy cane stopped halfway, as it hit bone. Blood immediately bubbled from the belly, soiling the snowmen that were stitched onto the festive pajamas. Bruce could smell his own blood, stirring with the rancid odour pulsing from Mrs. Claus.
"But..." was all that Bruce managed to say, until everything went black.
Bruce awoke sore and nauseous. He lay on a smooth glossy surface. The foyer? Had it been a dream? Was that my punishment and now I am back? Impatient thoughts rushed before the boy even opened his eyes. When he did, he saw his living room. The cheery trimmings, stockings, candles, tinsel and so on. Crumbs from the cookies sat on the porcelain plate his father had put out. A white lacquer coated the inside of a tiny tumbler where milk had once resided. And tops of carrots were dispersed among another plate. All of which were on the coffee table. I thought I was going to be eaten? Had Santa changed his mind? Looking down at himself, he realized he was still wearing his snowman pajamas; they were clean. No rips or blood spatters anywhere. Another oddity was the lack of smells. With the abundance of scented items in the living room, Bruce should feel sick from the abundance of festive scents. Instead, there was nothing. Also, no sound. No buzzing from the tree-lights, purrs of passing cars, or wind spiraling outside. The silence was disconcerting. Bruce rose to identify the mysteries when the ground beneath him shook and sent him reeling. The boy slipped backwards and crashed against the polished floor. The whole room seemed to shake. After brushing off minor hurts he sprang to a seated position and looked ahead. Before him, sat himself.
But as Bruce flinched, so did the other Bruce: a reflection. From where? Bruce steadily got on all fours and crawled around. Everywhere was a translucent layer: the ceiling, walls, floor. Everything was solid and clear. When Bruce gathered his bearings, clarity came. From the position of his viewing point, the unstable surroundings, and see-through layer all around, it was clear where he was: inside a bauble on the tree.
Just as the earth-shattering understanding strangled his intestines, Mrs. Claus' nightmarish appearance came in the reflection. Bruce flew back, backpedaling from her. She was even more horrifying than he could recall. Those damn eyes! "Brucey Brucey," she sang in a hushed volume.
"You shall live forever Brucey, inside this," she laughed, which shook the bauble.
The boy tightened his posture, becoming queasy.
"Why?" Bruce spat, his voice unintentionally warbling as a result of his new home trembling.
"You will see your family every day for the rest of their lives, living without you, happy. Until they age, wither and die!" Mrs. Claus shrieked, suddenly consumed with rage.
Bruce slapped palms to his ears, creasing his face.
"Farewell my child," she whispered before the reflection gradually vanished like a disappearing cloud.
Bruce wailed, banging on the glass, an entourage of salt water trailed his face. Somewhere he figured it can't be that bad. But it was, oh it was. Every day his family laughed and shared experiences and enjoyed life, without him. His existence had been wiped from all their minds, along with photos, birth documents, and any other records. As far as they were concerned, they only had one daughter. Bruce did, as Mrs. Claus had said, watched them die. For the rest of his life, he watched families from their start to end, unable to ever be involved in the joy, knowing it would all end and he would have to watch it over and over again for eternity. Despite the Christmas season only lasting a month, Bruce wasn’t sure how he could always see his family, and then the new ones after their passing. Was he in a time warp of some kind? Whatever the case, from his viewpoint, it was always Christmas. He was always looking from inside a bauble, at happiness and love, which he could never again experience. His fate was sealed.
From then on, hearing the words 'Merry Christmas' from future families, truly was a curse.
Message from the Author
Merry Christmas, and a happy new year to all. I hope you enjoyed this Christmas horror story. For more short horror stories check out the entire blog: http://wesleythomasshorthorrorstories.blogspot.com/
Or head over to Amazon and check out my novels, novellas, and spooky collections:
It's the most wonderful time of the year, for horror buffs!
Some of these movies are even child-friendly, SOME!
1) Halloween franchise.
What's better than Jamie Lee Curtis fighting off a serial killer who also happens to be her brother? Babysitters, and anyone else beware. Michael Myers is on the prowl with a butcher's knife and he's feeling stab-happy.
2) Adams Family.
Quirky. Unusual. And oozing Halloween vibes. A unique family living in a Gothic manor with a witchy grandmother, a hand that's alive, a servant that resembles Frankenstein, and two kids determined to kill each other. Let's not forget the undying romance between Gomez and Morticia. A great family horror movie.
3) Hocus Pocus.
You knew this was coming. I have seen this movie countless times and it never grows old. Three witches are awoken from their slumber. A young man, his sister, and friend, along with a man trapped in the body of a feline, are on the run from these cacklers. Another one to watch with the family. Funny. Exciting. Creepy. Not to mention there are some catchy tunes in there too!
Certainly not one for the family. Terrifying. Intriguing. Disturbing. A young boy has the ability of dream-traveling. Only, he travels too far and is stuck in some other dimension with ghouls and monsters. His father has to venture into this land, tapping into his childhood horrors, and save his son.
This is one of the scarier ones I've seen. Multiple chilling moments. Fantastic acting from the entire cast. A family moves into a new home to find it isn't unoccupied. A sinister history haunts this house, and that's not the only thing.
6) Nightmare on Elm Street.
Come on, who hasn't seen this classic horror gem? We all know it, a serial killer who invades his victim's dreams and slashes them to pieces with the infamous blades of his glove. A successful franchise by my favourite director Wes Craven, R.I.P.
7) The Craft.
A witchy tale of high school girls playing around with magic. But this is a dark flick as they abuse the magic for their own personal gain. The lure of the black arts can be seductive. These ladies know that all too well.
Pining for nostalgia? This will do it. Ghosts inhabit a house in a most hilarious way. This one's fun for the whole family! Including some bizarre moments.
Whether you go with the original or the remake, fun will be had for the whole family. A bunch of individuals save the city from ghosts and ghouls and goblins. At least now you know who to call.
Another classic. A ghost, friendly? With his siblings living up to the terrifying hype of ghostly entities, they struggle to understand his kindness. He doesn't like scaring people, not one bit. He's a friendly ghost. Can he influence his brothers to tone down the scares?
After a disappointing first movie, I was highly sceptical about the prequel. But the trailers and teasers rolled in, and I became excited. Could this outdo the first movie? Could this be better? Would this give fans the prequel they deserve that links The Conjuring to Annabelle? Then came the word of mouth reviews that the movie was 'great', 'awesome', 'chilling', 'creepy', and 'better than the first one by far!' After hearing these - and more positive comments - I set up a date to go watch this movie in the hopes that I'd walk out of the theatre satisfied and pleasantly spooked.
And that's exactly what happened!
I'll start with the best policy: honesty. The first fifteen minutes are somewhat slow-paced, building the story, establishing a pace, introducing the characters and their relevance and history. So don't be impatience, give it a minute! But I assure you, after those fifteen minutes, you'll be begging for a rest from the jumps and creepiness.
The story, explaining how Annabelle came into light, is set in the home of Samuel Mullins and his wife Esther who live in desolation, away from the prying eyes of people. Even years after the sudden death of their daughter, they are still grief-stricken, and as it turns out fear-stricken.
Sam kindly opens his home to Sister Charlotte and six young girls who would have been left homeless after the closing of their orphanage had it not been for their generosity. But from the very first night, it is clear something is not quite right. There is a room forbidden to the young girls. But, being curious, one girl happens to go inside, despite specific orders not too. This starts the endless hauntings and unexplainable occurrences.
We have moments of chilling terror, quick jumps, and pure eeriness. I was impressed with the diversity of the scares. While obviously the bulk of the horror is focused on the mysterious doll found in a locked bedroom, there are other entities out to scare us sh*tless!
The atmospheric buildup in this is superb, I have to say. Props to the director (David. F. Sandberg) for bringing a fresh lease of life into the 'possessed doll' sub-genre within horror. David is a fairly new director. You may have seen 'Lights Out' which was also an impressive flick that had originally been a short film, made into a full-length feature.
The acting, from the entire cast, was excellent. They brought genuine characters to the story. They showed confusion, frustration, and fear, flawlessly. We had conflict and confrontation among the young girls, as expected when living together 24/7. But they all banded together upon the realization that something in that house was out to get them.
This movie had every ingredient necessary for a great horror movie, and they were mixed deliciously. We have brilliant acting, moments of sheer terror, tense atmospheric buildup, and an original story. Overall, us horror fans were given a respectful prequel that links well to the Annabelle movie, and the Conjuring franchise. And the ending will have the true horror buffs geeking out, trust me on that.
I'd rate it a must-see horror movie.
Seriously, why are we excited for Stranger Things season two?
Could it be the sci-fi/horror vibe that is reminiscent of a Stephen King movie adaptation where a group of kids are the leads? That has to be one of the reasons. I love the perfect blend of science fiction and horror it has. I am eager to see if they can maintain that feel for the second season.
Perhaps it is that the show takes place in a much simpler time in American history? There didn't seem to be as much hate and prejudice back then. Or maybe it was just concealed better? But there are no cell phones, tablets, advanced computers, and laptops. Kids have to go outside to fill their evenings and weekends when they aren't at school. While I am in my twenties, I am still at an age where I spent most of my youth playing outside, traveling by bike. I am glad the era of social media hadn't taken over everything at that point. We took the time to get dirty, and to enjoy the time, not be obsessed with sharing it with the entire online world.
Maybe it is the kids? The kids are equally kooky. They are great comrades, sticking together through thick and thin. They are entertaining in their hilarious quips and views on the world. Who is your fave? Who can't you wait to see come back? Don't forget to let me know in the comments box!
It could quite possibly be the acting chops of one Ms. Winona Ryder. A stunning lady, with remarkable acting skills. I can't wait to see her face filling my screen again. Her portrayal of a suffering and frustrated mother in season one was magnificent. How will her character develop in this second season?
Let's not forget that awesome soundtrack. Talk about nostalgia! If anything makes you think of a certain era, it's music. And the carefully chosen music for this show shoots us right back to the 80s!
It may be reminiscent of an old sci-fi/horror movie, but this show is original. Netflix has truly made a one of a kind series that is loved by many. It feels as though the show has been ongoing for many seasons. We have to stop to remind ourselves that this is only the second season! I hope there will be many more seasons to come.
Whether we look at the kids or the adults, there is no weak link when it comes to acting ability. They all pull their weight. All actors contribute meaningfully to their characters, and ultimately, to the show.
Maybe you are feenin' to see more monsters? I am curious to see what foes they'll battle this season. The special FX and makeup team sure did a great job with the first season. From the pictures the official Facebook page has posted, we have an idea that this time the evil will be much bigger and more ominous.
I don't know about you guys, but I really want Barb to come back. I love her! Come on guys, bring her back. We miss her. She's cute. She's adorable. She's amazeballs!
But another character millions of fans are hoping make a return is Eleven! That young girl plays an awesome role in the show. The acting chops on such a young lady is unbelievable. If she does come back, I am eager to see how her character will develop this time. Will she develop the same craving for Eggos? Will she learn to control those pesky nosebleeds? Who knows? But after being out for Halloween last year, and seeing half of the costumes being Eleven, we need a comeback, surely? Bring Eleven back! Bring Eleven back! Chant. Chant. Chant. You get my point.
Anyway, if you are anywhere near as excited as me, you are looking forward to all of the above. This show broke new ground, meshed genres, reminded us that child actors aren't to be taken lightly, and that originality is very much still a part of TV. This show gave me faith that there are still new storylines that can be tackled and executed with brilliance. So here's to season 2. It premieres on Netflix on Halloween! How perfect!
The following is a short story from Wesley's upcoming collection 'Terrors That Tingle'.
Alfred was a peculiar man; society shunned him wherever he went. Childhood was difficult for such a character. He found no pleasure in regular pastimes such as reading, TV, or the internet. Serial killers, taxidermy, and hunting were the key to Alfred’s heart, not that he wanted a relationship. The sixty-year-old had never been a people person. The second he turned eighteen he left home and never looked back. He worked any job that didn’t require too much contact with people. A childhood therapist claimed he was simply an introvert, but the explanation was simpler still: he just didn’t like people. Then, around the age of forty, he surprised himself by opening a store.
This was no ordinary store. It was a doll store. Surprisingly, the shop became a success. People flocked to see the incredible work of one Mr Alfred Thompson. Doll fanatics were amazed and even passers-by couldn’t resist taking a peek inside. He was a hit. Alfred even learned to deal with people, regardless of his disdain for them. However, despite initial success, people eventually grew tired of dolls. He became a one-hit wonder of wooden dolls.
Alfred, never one to give up at the first hurdle, found a resolution. He travelled from country to country. He would rent store space for several months, then when the hype wore off, move on. This worked well for almost twenty years, but little did anyone know, his inspiration was drifting.
Alfred worried, until he rented store space in the quaint British village of Holmfirth. Mere days after his arrival, word had spread throughout the entire village. Nosey residents swung by to see the grey-haired man and his exquisite creations. There was nothing unusual about his first week in Holmfirth. No one knew the man was considering retiring, until a young girl came by his store one day after school and gave him the inspiration he needed.
Zoe was a young girl of thirteen, who had no friends and lived in a foster home. Nobody paid her any attention. With unkempt frizzy hair, huge glasses, and dishevelled clothing, people preferred to ignore her existence. Zoe’s foster parents only cared for her as they received financial benefits from the government. She knew this. So, the young girl kept her nose buried in a book and out of people’s business.
After overhearing two kids at school gossiping about a new doll store in the village, Zoe was uncharacteristically eager to check it out. As luck would have it, the new store stood only minutes from her house.
One Monday, after the school bells rang and the gates creaked open, Zoe scurried ahead of her classmates and headed for ‘A Doll’s World’. Not the most original name, but she hoped to be pleasantly surprised.
The typical British weather of rain and wind chilled Zoe’s bare calves, and ruffled her grey school skirt. She gripped the handles of her backpack tighter, as the afternoon chill grew colder. Her oversized yellow bubble coat warmed her torso, but didn’t stop the wind prickling her face and neck. By the time she reached the cobbled street, her face beamed red. Her eyes watered from the cold. Her nose ran.
Numb and shivering, Zoe found herself in front of ‘A Doll’s World.’ She pressed up against the smooth window pane and peered inside. What was normally bare brick walls and a cement floor, had been filled with wooden shelves and a table holding an outdated cash register.
Zoe’s eyes fell on an ageing man working in the far corner. Holding a tiny knife, he carved a doll’s face. Wooden shavings sprinkled the now linoleum floor. The teenager questioned how he could work in such meagre light. Save for the receding daylight pooling the floor near the windows, darkness consumed the rest of the store. The many dolls formed shadows on the shelves.
“Eurgh!” Zoe found herself whispering. Dolls had always creeped her out yet simultaneously fascinated her. These were big. They were almost as big as her. There were boys and girls in various clothing and costumes. Expensive looking wigs sat atop their heads. Wow, he has gone all out.
Growing impatient, Zoe sidestepped to the entrance. Her icy hand met with the equally cold doorknob and twisted it. The rusty springs attached to the door resisted. Zoe cringed at the ruckus. The last thing she wanted was all eyes on her. As far as she could tell, however, she was the only customer. She was thankful for that. Despite the well-worn door springs, the second her hand fell from the knob, the door snapped shut. Squeak. Boom.
Zoe inhaled, shoulders hunching.
“Don’t be shy child, come on in,” Alfred muttered without turning to see her. How did he know I was a child?
Zoe coughed, partly out of awkwardness, partly from the dust the door had kicked up. “Thank you.”
“Do you like my dolls?” He asked, whittling the nose of a boy-doll.
Zoe took cautious steps towards him. “Yes. They are very pretty,” she replied, eyes darting and head turning.
“Thank you, I think so too,” he responded, still running the knife down the boy’s nose. Whispers poured into the store with every stroke of his knife. It sounded as though someone repeatedly said ‘shhhhh’ in sync with every precise etch. The man’s hands were wrinkled and splattered in age spots, sprouting an unusually large amount of hair. Zoe dreaded the day her hands would succumb to the ravages of age.
“Feel free to explore my child,” he offered.
His repetitive use of the word ‘child’ unnerved and annoyed Zoe.
Following his suggestion, she wandered around the store. She admired the various dolls, pausing at one in particular. She found herself running a hand across the smooth wood. Up close and personal, it became clear no expense was spared when it came to detail. From knuckles, kneecaps, veins, and even freckles, to the vividly painted eyes and finely chiselled facial features. Zoe noticed metal nails on the dolls, which didn’t make sense, but she wasn’t the expert.
Each doll burst with colour, each as unique as the next. An exploration of most time periods and fashion trends was told through dozens of dolls. Each doll had only one running theme: the look of nervousness in their eyes. Zoe wasn’t sure how he achieved this. It was unnerving yet simultaneously alluring.
“Oh, you like that one, do you?” Alfred asked, startling the young girl.
She jerked from the doll, immediately retracting her hand from the doll’s leg.
“That’s one of my favourites,” he whispered, as if his preference was a secret, or the other dolls could hear and would get jealous. A flash of rageful dolls attacking the old man ran through her mind. Eurgh. Zoe’s back fell victim to a deep chill.
“Yes…. It’s nice,” Zoe replied, admiring the doll attired in a white sailor’s uniform.
“Nice?” his voice rose.
“Oh… no…. I mean….” Zoe stuttered.
“Young lady, that doll took several months to carve!” he was yelling now, anger drenched his voice.
Alfred rose from his chair and approached Zoe, his nostrils flared. Each hand became a fist, one still wielding a knife.
“I’m sorry,” she blurted, hunching her shoulders. Underneath the yellow bubble coat her heart pounded.
Surprised by Zoe’s outburst, he stopped mid-stride. He relaxed, unclenching his tensed features.
“Oh, I am sorry child. I just spend a lot of time working on these. And I don’t get out much. Also, one loathes the word nice.” His face crinkled in disgust, as if the mere word was so sour it curdled in his mouth.
“I didn’t….k…know,” Zoe again, struggled with speech. Her lack of conversational skills from poor social interaction - if you don’t count being surrounded by kids but constantly ignored – didn’t help.
Alfred, wearing a discoloured white shirt and tatty tweed trousers, knelt by her side. His face softened as a hand gently cupped her shoulder.
“Of course you didn’t. Now let’s be done with that. Would you like some tea? And perhaps a chocolate biscuit or two?”
“Oh, yes please,” the tense atmosphere cleared at the mentioning of chocolate. It was one of Zoe’s guilty pleasures. Her salivary glands gushed as she imagined the creamy, sweet goodness melting on her tongue.
“Then come in the back,” he rose, guiding her forwards.
“What about the shop?”
“Oh, I am closing up now. I just need to lock the door and pull down the outside shutters.”
Alfred opened a red velvet curtain, exposing an outdated but charming living room. Wooden chairs upholstered in more red velvet, sat in the dark room. Several dirty mirrors were nailed to the walls. A mahogany coffee table was sandwiched between two of the larger chairs, resting on a fluffy purple rug.
“Now you make yourself comfortable and I’ll be right back,” Alfred suggested as he nudged her into the living room.
Zoe noticed one door at the back, beside one of the many mirrors. Its paint was peeling and the handle was bronzed from rust. It stood open by a sliver, enough for Zoe to see a tiny green kitchen. It was bare and a scent of mildew slithered through the crevice.
Zoe backed up to a chair. She unzipped her stuffy winter coat and folded it on the floor beside the chair. Her rucksack fell to the yellow coat, as she sat on the chair. It embraced her rump with surprising comfort. Scooting further into the chair, she took in more of her surroundings.
Cobwebs hung in the corners, the brick walls were chipped, and the rug’s seams were coming apart. Apparently, Alfred’s attention to detail was exclusive to his dolls, and nothing else. The longer her eyes stayed focused in one place, the more obvious flaws became. Give him a break, he only moved in a matter of days ago. Zoe thought, yet couldn’t help but judge the mess.
Screech. Bang. Click.
Alfred dashed by Zoe, bizarrely graceful. Was he one of those men who like men? Nah, from what I’ve read they are for the most part, trendy and normal. This man was peculiar, and in no way followed fashion trends. His trousers were stained, torn, and wrinkled. His shoes were scuffed. Nope, this man definitely didn’t care about fashion.
“Tea and biscuits coming up,” he announced before vanishing into the kitchen.
Zoe sat patiently as the kettle cried out. Mugs and plates clattered, and cupboard doors clunked. In a jiffy, he returned, carting an oak tray. It held two mugs, four saucers, a plate of biscuits, and a tiny cup holding sugar sachets and two silver spoons. He placed the tray on the coffee table and took a seat opposite his new friend.
“By all means, go ahead,” Alfred smiled, his hands gesturing to the tray.
“I took the liberty of adding milk to your tea, and one sugar. The one closest to you is yours. If you would like any more sugar, go ahead.”
Zoe took a saucer holding a mug of tea, and dunked a biscuit into her milky brew. To avoid tea dripping from the biscuit, she yanked it out and shoved half of it in her mouth. Zoe worked on the crumbly biscuit and melted chocolate, savouring the taste before it slid down her throat.
“Good?” Alfred inquired, taking a sip from his own tea, smirking at her gusto. He sighed, “Ahhh, nothing beats a good old cuppa. It’s so British and proper. One of only a few things I actually enjoy about life.”
Zoe nodded, a mouth full of biscuit, pondering the strange comment. Alfred laughed at her biscuit-inflated mouth. “I’ll never understand those monsters who drink it without milk though.”
Once the biscuit had made its way down Zoe’s throat, she took a few sips of Earl Grey tea, overcome with an urge to be polite and ladylike. That won’t last, she thought.
“Don’t let it get cold sweetheart, go ahead,” he suggested, before taking a sip himself, his pinkie pointing to the ceiling.
At his suggestion, she took a couple of hearty gulps. What’s with the pet na…. Zoe’s eyes all of a sudden became warm and heavy. What’s with the… Abrupt exhaustion prevented her from even finishing a thought.
A mug and saucer plummeted to the concrete. Tea sloshed onto the legs of the coffee table and splashed the rug. The saucer was the first to break, exploding into several pieces and dispersing along the living room floor. Next, the cup broke. Chunks of it swam in the puddle of tea, while others flew every which way.
“Oh, dearie me,” Alfred tutted.
Zoe squinted at the old man. He became a Caucasian blur. “What…” was all Zoe managed to say before she slumped into the chair, limp and unconscious.
Damn it’s hot. Why is it so hot? Eww, what’s that smell? Sweat? Burning? Pee?
Clang. Clang. Clang. What’s that ruckus?
Zoe’s eyes peeled open to a dark, odd room. No windows. One single bulb swung above, squeaking rhythmically. Chipped wooden planks covered the walls and ceiling. The floor was cold concrete. Cold?! Zoe looked at her bare feet, flat on the concrete, bound to the legs of a chair. The rope itched. Her eyes shot up her bare legs and naked torso. She gulped. Both wrists were strapped to the arms of a chair with the same itchy rope. A scream left her lungs, but never made it out her mouth.
Huh? Her tongue poked at the back of her lips, prodding tiny sharp pieces. The tip of her tongue tingled with pain. Beads of sweat broke out on Zoe’s forehead. What’s going on? Panic churned in her stomach.
Another muffled scream could be heard, but it wasn’t Zoe. Her eyes darted across the darkness, searching for the noise.
She wept as her eyes came to a halt at a cage. Inside were several children wailing against the poles. Well, that explains the clanging. Shockingly, that resolve gave her no comfort. The children, draped in dirty white cloths, were stuffed inside like sardines in a tin can. That explains the smell.
Most were Zoe’s age, but some were younger. Some sobbed hysterically, while others sniffled quietly in the corners of their confinement. Most looked exhausted, sat or leant against the poles. However, a few were rambunctious, hitting the cage or rattling the door. Despite their suffering, not one of them screamed. That’s when Zoe saw the stitches at their lips. Shrieking would be pointless.
What the hell is going on? That thought was fast becoming the theme of her current situation.
Then, a muffled scream far louder than the rest, took centre stage. Zoe followed the sound to a corner of the room. A young boy sat in some kind of device. A seat with several straps held him firmly in place. Likely, the reason his scream was so loud was because his tongue was the only muscle he could move.
A golden glow washed his face. Tears trailed his cheeks, despite his face being oddly still. There were no creases of distress. It was as if he was sat on a beach in the tropics. His eyes however, told a different story. The rims were raw and enflamed, presumably from constant crying. Lashes were clumped together. But the clearest sign of fear was the widened eyes. What made him so terrified? Zoe didn’t want the answer, but was handed it anyway.
Alfred sat on a chair at the boy’s side. With hunched shoulders, he doodled on his arm by the looks of it. Zoe frowned. She wriggled to get a better view.
Behind Alfred, built into the wall, lay a furnace. Flames whipped violently behind a tiny glass window. Now Zoe noticed it, she heard the crackling. Holy hell, is he going to burn us alive?
Panicked, Zoe attempted to escape the rope. She pulled and twisted frantically, but it was too tight. She studied her surroundings, hoping to uncover something helpful. Save for the furnace, Alfred and the boy, and the cage chock-a-block full of children, everything was smothered in darkness.
“Don’t worry my dear, it’s your turn soon,” Alfred uttered.
Turn for what?! Zoe’s heart beat quickened, thumping hard. Her attention wandered to Alfred, turning in his seat. She watched as he peeled off the flesh from the boy’s forearm. Despite his lips being stitched together, the scream was unbelievably loud. Zoe cringed, looking at the stringy flesh being torn off.
He’s being flayed alive. Zoe had read about it in some of her spooky books, but never imagined she would see it first-hand. The ripping sounds were almost as bad as the boy’s muffled shrieks of agony. Her blood ran cold. His blood on the other hand, ran down the loose skin and dripped on the concrete.
Alfred yanked off the final inch, completely detaching the skin. Blood oozed from his upper forearm, trickling down the sides and adding to the growing pool at his feet. Bone peeked from underneath the gushing blood.
Zoe gagged. Don’t vomit, it has nowhere to go! You’ll choke to death. She warned herself.
Alfred rose from the chair and opened the furnace. He discarded the stringy flesh by tossing it into the hungry flames. It sizzled, blackening and shrinking in a matter of seconds. The smell stung Zoe’s nose, as she turned away from the sight, clamping her eyes shut. It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream, it’s just a – wake up! This is not a dream! Start thinking of a way out you idiot!
A creak pulled her focus. Alfred opened an upper compartment of the furnace and retrieved a small wooden plank. He returned to his seat and placed it on a metal table by his side, which also held small pieces of equipment Zoe couldn’t quite make out. A sizzle roared as Alfred planted the plank over the flayed forearm. Again, the boy’s shriek was riddled with unthinkable agony. Blood seeped from between the stitched lips.
“Bloody hell, you’ve got a right set of lungs on you!” Alfred chuckled, holding the plank down as the fizz faded.
Alfred reached for the table and clutched a hammer with one hand, and scooped up nails in the other. Surely not?! Zoe watched in morbid fascination, praying her predictions were wrong. Nail by nail, he hammered the wood to the boy’s arm. Crinkles lined his sweaty and tear-filled face. His cheeks reddened as he half-cried half-wailed. Whack. Whack. Whack. Alfred continued hammering as if this was a normal day at the office. The boy’s suffering did nothing to deter his strikes.
In what felt like a lifetime later, Alfred let the hammer clatter to the table and wiped sweat from his brows.
“Blimey, it is getting hot in here! I think I will go make myself some lemonade,” he casually muttered.
The boy’s head leant zombie-like to the side, exhausted from the pain. Alfred gently slapped the boy’s cheek, each eye opened a peep but his face remained expressionless. “Now don’t you go anywhere!” He warned, his unsettling giggle echoing off the walls.
Before he left, Alfred snatched a needle from the table and approached Zoe. Stay away from me you freak, she yearned to say. All she could do was attempt to resist by squirming in the seat. This didn’t benefit at all when he grasped her upper arm and sank the needle into it. From the corner of her eye, Zoe watched his thumb lower as the fluid entered her system. Within a few frantic heart beats, the medicine took effect as her body slumped in the chair.
“Don’t worry dear, I’ll spare you that suffering,” he whispered into her ear.
“Isn’t she pretty?”
“Oh, she’s adorable!”
“She’s so bloody cute!”
“What a charmer.”
Compliments came in waves at Alfred’s latest addition to his collection. She was propped at her own table, to the front of the store. Customers came by the dozen, barely fitting into the store, each drawn to the little girl doll at the table.
“Her hair looks so real.”
“Her eyes are so life-like.”
She had been stuffed into a red and white striped dress, complete with red shoes and a white bow neatly looped in her hair.
“The detail is incredible.”
The day blurred by. Flocks of people continued to pile into the store until closing. “Well, look at that. You’re famous!” he squealed.
Alfred stood by his latest creation. He smoothed his hand over the face, bringing his eyes to hers. Although underneath the wood, Zoe was paralyzed even to the eyeballs, he knew she understood him.
“I have already had several offers for you! But I like your company Zoe, you are a remarkable young girl. So, what do you say? How do you feel about being my inspiration and reminder that I truly have a gift? You can be my lure to bring in customers, but at night when I work on new dolls, you can be in the basement by my side, watching me work, acting as my muse. How does that sound?” Alfred laughed hysterically, his shrillness bouncing off the store windows.
Unbeknown to the naked eye, underneath the finely sculpted wood, Zoe screamed louder than she ever had before. Of course, nobody would ever hear her cries.
Did you enjoy 'Doll Maker'? Want to enjoy other stories in the 'Terrors That Tingle' collection?
Who doesn't love a good, twisted home invasion movie? Well, here's my faves!
1) The Strangers (2008)
Starring Liv Tyler & Scott Speedman, this movie tells the story of a truly horrifying home invasion. It started with a knock at the door, where a young woman innocently asked if 'Tamara' was there. But that seemingly innocent question turned into a sinister fight for survival.
2) Funny Games (2007)
Starring Naomi Watts, Funny Games is the tale of two truly psychotic men who take a family hostage.
3) Mother's Day (2010)
Starring sensationally talented actress Rebecca De Mornay, Mother's Day revolves around a sadistic family returning to their now-inhabited childhood home, to terrorize the new owners and their party guests. One thing's for sure, the guests will never forget this party.
4) Panic Room (2002)
Jodie Foster & Kristin Stewart take the lead in this tense, nail-biting flick. After a divorce, mother and daughter move into a new house. They had no idea it apparently held hidden value, value that three crooks are determined to get their hands on. Even if that means breaking into the house and killing the new owners.
5) You're Next (2011)
It was supposed to be a nice wedding anniversary getaway. Fun. Friends. Family. Good times. Then an arrow smashes through the window. Soon this gathering turns deadly as a group of masked individuals launch an attack. But the intruders have no idea that at least one guest is more than capable of defending herself, and even retaliating effectively. This is original and breaks new ground.
6) Hush (2016)
A deaf woman is home alone enjoying the solitude of the woods, working on her latest novel. When suddenly, a masked killer appears at her window. Down one sense, this woman has to rely on sight, touch, smell, and taste to survive this madman.
7) Don't Breathe (2016)
This time we shake things up. The film takes the P.O.V of the intruders. Three youngsters break into the home of a blind man who is rumoured to have stashed away a great fortune. Little do they know that this old blind man isn't someone to be trifled with. He may be sightless, but that doesn't mean he can't hear you breathing.
8) When A Stranger Calls (2006)
A babysitter finds herself facing a chilling predator in a doctor's lavish home. But all those rooms won't save her from him. In my opinion, this is one of the better 'cat and mouse / babysitter' movies out there. It's genuinely unnerving. A sure way to send goosebumps crawling down your spine.
9) Last House on the Left (2009)
Traumatizing. Powerful. Tense.
A gang of criminals brutally assault two young women. After which, they retreat into the woods and find refuge in the home of a warm, inviting family. But will the family be so welcoming when they realize it was that gang who raped their daughter?
10) Intruders (2015)
Agoraphobia-sufferer Anna, is fear-stricken when three criminals break into her home. The intruders have no idea that agoraphobia isn't her only problem.
Other home invasion gems include Them, Torment, Swimming with Sharks, Pacific Heights, The Resident, Inside and Angst.
Looking for a great horror movie on Netflix? Want to watch a movie that after seeing it, you'll be so glad you did? Well, here is a list of 10 MUST-SEE movies on Netflix.
1) Movie: The Craft
Why MUST I see it? Classic. Witches. Crazy scenes and characters. Neve Campbell stars.
2) Movie: The Shining.
Why MUST I see it? Stephen King adaptation. Need I say more? Okay, since you insist, Jack Nicholson stars.
3) Movie: Dead Silence.
Why MUST I see it? Directed by James Wan (Insidious, Sinister). Creepy dolls. Creepy old lady.
4) Movie: V/H/S.
Why MUST I see it? Original. Anthology. Messed-up. Short films in one movie. P.O.V filming.
5) Movie: CREEP.
Why MUST I see it? Quirky. Unsettling. An odd man. Wilderness.
6) Movie: WYRMWOOD: Road of the Dead.
Why MUST I see it? Innovative zombie movie. Australian. Blood. Gore. Breaking boundaries.
7) Movie: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero.
Why MUST I see it? Infection. Island. Gory. Graphic.
8) Movie: Hush.
Why MUST I see it? Original. New. Deaf woman using every other sense to stay alive. Trapped in the woods. Tense. Hold-your-breath good.
9) Movie: Would You Rather?
Why MUST I see it? Gruesome. Cringe. Taking a game to the ultimate - and sick - level. Brittany Snow stars.
10) Movie: Queen of the Damned.
Why MUST I see it? Vampire. Old. Alluring. Unnerving. Classic. Gothic.
Spencer looked up from his laptop and stared into the darkness of his room. He shifted to sit cross-legged on the bed, but that only helped for a few minutes.
“Dammit.” Spencer swung his laptop to the side and kicked off the covers. If he was completely honest, it wasn’t just the edginess that was frustrating him. He was also hearing things. Jeez, imagine how his mother, or his father for that matter, would react if he dropped that bombshell. The sound was like when you held a seashell against your ear. Except this sound had elements that were—how could he describe it—purposeful, maybe, like someone murmuring way far away. On top of all this was a clicking similar to what he heard in his head when the dentist tapped his teeth with one of those metal instruments.
Spencer got out of bed and walked to the window. He had to be careful not to make any noise for fear of waking up his parents. (Spencer? What are you doing?) His room was a pit, a veritable obstacle course that could easily trip him up in the dark. Piles of jeans, T-shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, and underwear—both clean and dirty—lay on the floor like topographical maps of rarely explored territory. This geological landscape was subject to frequent tectonic plate action as additional clothing was added or subtracted, not to mention the forceful invasion of textbooks, backpacks, novels, and human feet.
The sound was definitely coming from outside. Inexplicably, he wanted to investigate, almost as if it were his duty. The urge to check it out, now that he was aware of it, nagged him like a mosquito bite.
He cracked open the bedroom door—not too far because it had a tendency to squeak—and squeezed into the hallway. Thankfully, the stairs were carpeted, so the rest of his trek to the front door was a piece of cake. As he stepped outside, the sound was still faint, almost like an insect buzz, but it seemed clearer. There were no competing noises, which seemed odd. No cars or leaves blowing in the cold October breeze. His bare feet started to get cold. It felt kind of mysterious, being the only one outside.
Then Spencer realized he wasn’t.
Something was slinking in the shadows across the street. The sound seemed to be coming from it. Spencer couldn’t get a good look because the figure was dressed in black, but it was disproportionally large for the adroit way in which it moved. He also could have sworn he saw large breasts swaying with the motion.
Spencer had an uneasy feeling that he was seeing something … monstrous.
He smirked, but he couldn’t shake the thought. In an instant, the figure was gone. It dashed around a house and went out of sight.
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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!
Bestselling horror author, marketer, blogger, reviewer, business owner, freelance writer.