With pumpkins abounding and the bite of frost in the air, it’s time to take a look again at that classic horror series for kids from the 1990s, R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps. For generations of fans, Goosebumps was their first entry point into horror. With plots running the gamut from ghosts to monsters to possession, no horror trope was off the table, and the series remains an excellent example of how horror can be reconfigured for younger audiences in such a way that its bite stays firmly intact. Goosebumps is especially worth a watch for both its storytelling prowess and creepy atmosphere. So if you want to curl up at home with these oldies but goodies, here’s where to start. And you can find them all on Netflix.
Here’s my ranking for the top ten episodes of Goosebumps! Read more
With Happy Death Day, Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions continue their string of innovative and high-quality horror films (The Purge, The Gift, Split, The Visit, Unfriended, Get Out). Directed by Christopher B. Landon and written by Scott Lobdell Jr., Happy Death Day is, of course, not completely original (what is?). Its premise echoes the 2017 teen drama, Before I Fall (Ry Russo-Young), which is based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver. And it is deeply and self-consciously indebted to the brilliant Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993). That said, though, while Happy Death Day isn’t groundbreaking, it is a fresh approach to the slasher film. Its success is due not least to the fabulous performances of its two leads—Jessica Rothe who plays Tree and Israel Broussard as Carter. The supporting cast is also great, including Rachel Matthews as uber-bitch sorority queen, Danielle.
The film follows college student Tree after she wakes up on her birthday in a relative stranger’s (Carter’s) dorm room after a night of hard drinking. She cavalierly goes through her post-debauch day, revealing how fundamentally unpleasant she is to everyone around her. On her way to a party that night, she’s murdered by a masked figure—only to wake up in Carter’s room on her birthday again. The day keeps repeating and, as you might imagine, Tree experiences a variety of shocked and panicked emotions before she starts trying to take control of her experience, figure out what’s going on, and stop the cycle.
The Chucky movies get a bad rap. Honestly, any horror film that openly embraces comedy has an uphill battle when it comes to critical recognition. Most people will simply write off Child’s Play and its six sequels because of its killer-doll premise, its parade of one-liners, or its simple longevity. How could a franchise with this much ridiculousness possibly be good?
That kind of thinking is a huge disservice to the franchise. Why? Because the Chucky films have spanned generations, outlived most of their contemporaries, and evolved into one of the most interesting franchises in horror history. Its secret weapon is the seeming contradiction of constant reinvention within remarkable consistency.
Found-footage horror has been one of the most creative and provocative subgenres of horror since Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez released The Blair Witch Project in 1999. For your Halloween viewing, our guest writer Brooke Bennett has created a calendar of the best found-footage horror for you to watch in October. You can download the calendar as a pdf document (just in case you don’t get through them all in October). We hope you enjoy them–and feel free to jump onto the comments section and post your thoughts about our choices, along with any films we omitted. What found-footage horror films do you think should be on every horror fan’s list?
James Foley’s Fear (1996) is probably one of the more neglected horror films. Its antagonist is not the typical movie monster. No demons, vampires, or masked murderers are featured in this flick—just a violent teenaged sociopath named David (Mark Wahlberg). What’s more, cinematic versions of obsessive lovers were embodied almost exclusively by females in the late eighties and early nineties—for example, Fatal Attraction (1987), Single White Female (1992), The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), Poison Ivy (1992), and The Crush (1993). In Fear, however, the shoe was suddenly on the other foot.
As a teenybopper, barely into double digits, I felt an instant attraction to Fear. I had discovered Sleeping with the Enemy not long before, but David’s erratic aggression was something else entirely. As I watched him, I realized domestic violence was not restricted to the adult world; it could potentially play out among mall rats and cool kids. Suffice it to say, the movie shaped my initial understandings of young men and turned me off to dating in my teens.