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Posted on October 13, 2017

Why You Need to Watch the Child’s Play Franchise

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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.

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Posted on October 4, 2017

31 Found-Footage Horror Films for October

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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?

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Posted on October 3, 2017

90s Rewatch: Fear and a Teen Girl’s Guide to Love and Sex

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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.

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Posted on September 27, 2017

IT’s Homely Horror: What to Do with a Haunted House

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While praising the cast of Andy Muschietti’s 2017 adaptation of IT, A. O. Scott repeats a comment my friends keep saying about the film: it’s old horror hat gone wild. Scott, in his New York Times review, specifically argues that with the advent of CGI in modern horror films comes artistic repetition:

“Movie monsters resemble one another more and more, and movies of distinct genres feel increasingly trapped within the expected.”

Yet, beneath the expected jump scares, the uptick in gore-filled moments, and what some call the over-exposure of the titular monster, IT brings the horror mode under critique. Unlike Scott, I argue that Muschietti is engaging in a rather nuanced play on the stock elements of horror that so bothered reviewers. In short, that feeling of being “trapped within the expected” is exactly the intent of the overt and arguably overused horror in this adaptation. Muschietti’s film turns the conventional images of horror against the audience, forcing us to work through our own expectations operating within the genre. In this way, IT becomes more concerned with how horrific imagery can be used to hide and deflect from the reality it represents.

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Posted on September 20, 2017

Where to Start with Silent Horror Films

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Everyone knows the image: a bald, pale figure with impossibly long fingers rises out of his coffin. That’s of course Nosferatu, one of cinema’s great horror icons. Silent films are such a part of our culture that we can recognize so many moments from them, even if we haven’t seen a single movie. If you’ve ever wanted to check out silent horror films but were unsure of where to start, this is a list of the ten most representative films of the era. Made across two continents and two decades, these touch on everything from slashers, to the supernatural, to body horror.

As of this writing, most of these films are easily available on YouTube, but the best place to watch them is through one of their many DVD reissues. Silent films often get a bad rap simply because people don’t have access to prints that aren’t fuzzy, jumpy, and incomplete. That said, you really should watch these movies any way you can. They’re not just an educational look at how horror cinema started. They’re also scary as hell.

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