Thursday, May 2, 2013

BH: Like GOOSEBUMPS? Try 10 Lesser-Known Adolescent Horror Books

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

As a lifelong fan of the macabre who didn’t get into horror movies until high school, I spent a lot of time exploring the darker side of culture in literary form. As such, I’ve happened across a lot of horror books meant for young readers that stray a little further from the beaten path than titles like GOOSEBUMPS or SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. If you have kids or are just interested in how creepy kids’ storytelling can get, here are ten lesser-known titles that kept my skin crawling when I was younger.
Note: I used a rather loose definition of “horror” for this list, generally including stories with light tones that have darker themes or horror tropes. Also, the final three or four entries start to drift across the line from “kids’ literature” to “young adult literature,” but are sufficiently cloudy that I saw fit to include them.
THE GREAT GHOST RESCUE (1975) by Eva Ibbotson
This British children’s novel has it all: a young and pleasant ghost who doesn’t fit in with his terrifying family, a schoolboy who learns to love them all, and a wicked nobleman with a plot to exorcise the spirits. It’s a soaring adventure that is safe for young kids, but isn’t afraid to indulge in classic imagery like screaming skulls and bloodstained banshees.
THE BAILEY SCHOOL KIDS series (1990 – 2006) by Marcia T. Jones and Debbie Dadey
These books are just pure fun. With titles like VAMPIRES DON’T WEAR POLKA DOTS and MUMMIES DON’T COACH SOFTBALL, this series (which comprises over 50 books) details the adventures of Bailey School students who begin to suspect that the authority figures in their life might not be who they seem to be. Not everybook is horror-related (see SANTA CLAUS DOESN’T MOP FLOORS), but a comfortable two-thirds are, and they’re a good way to teach kids about valuable tropes when it comes to famous monsters from film and mythology.
THE MONSTER’S RING (1982) by Bruce Coville
“Twist it once, you’re horned and haired. Twist it twice and fangs are bared. Twist it thrice? No one has dared.” So warns THE MONSTER’S RING, about a young boy who acquires a magic transforming ring at a local shop. The book plays like a cross between R. L. Stine’s THE HAUNTED MASK and 976-EVIL, all taking place in the maniacally fun, eerie world crafted by Bruce Coville.
THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH (1952) by Patrick Skene Catling
I remember this story being more lighthearted than anything, but the charming tale of a boy who transforms everything he touches into chocolate starts off as a jubilant retelling of the King Midas myth until it descends into bigger and scarier consequences. Eventually, his desire for sweets threatens everything that he loves, and you start to feel a bit of a pit in your stomach.
THE SIXTH SENSE: SECRETS FROM BEYOND series (2000-2001) by David Benjamin
I’m actually working on a full article explaining this very trilogy in greater detail, so I’ll keep this short. But yes, this is a series of chapter books in which Haley Joel Osment’s Cole Sear solves mysteries about ghosts. It covers common kids’ book themes like the challenges of making friends and living with a single parent, only interspersed with graphically detailed descriptions of charred flesh, plane crashes, and long-dead authors weeping over their unread books in the public library. It’s completely bonkers and grotesque, which is why this series is definitely worth digging up.
THE MYSTERIOUS MATTER OF I. M. FINE (2001) by Diane Stanley
Here’s where things get really meta. This is a kids’ horror book aboutkids’ horror books, obviously very closely based on R. L. Stine’s GOOSEBUMPS series. A young girl notices that a popular horror series is causing local children to react strangely. It starts with a sudden boom in the popularity of gummy worms, but as each new book arrives, the reactions become more and more sinister, even life-threatening. She teams up with a male classmate to track down the author and stop the vicious cycle. If you only check out one entry on this list, make sure it’s this one. I. M. FINE is a creepy-crawly romp that turns childhood fears of the material they’re reading into a reality.
THINGS NOT SEEN (2002) by Andrew Clements
As close as kids’ novels have ever gotten to Kafka-esque body horror, THINGS NOT SEEN is the story of a young man who goes to sleep on a cold, stormy night and wakes up invisible. At first he enjoys playing tricks on his friends and family, but as the reality of his new life sets in, things take a dark, philosophical turn. If the Invisible Man had a son, he’d love this book.
The REMNANTS series (2001-2003) by K.A. Applegate
The follow-up series to Applegate’s immensely popular ANIMORPHS books, REMNANTS follows a group of people awakened from cryosleep on a colony starship only to discover that the ship has malfunctioned, killing the majority of the people onboard. It’s very much a sci-fi story, like a younger take on PASSENGERS, but I still remember its grim, grisly depictions of death. It’s definitely a twisted, detailed account of darkness and violence in the near future that left my young self shuddering.
THE SUPERNATURALIST (2004) by Eoin Colfer
This dystopian novel is another sci-fi inflected piece, following the exploits of a team of teens in a futuristic society who do battle with supernatural, life force-draining entities that they can see only after suffering a near-death experience. It’s a rollicking action tale first and foremost, but it’s chock full of deeply unsettling imagery and a heaping helping of pain and misery.
The GONE series (2008-2013) by Michael Grant
OK, the six-part GONE series is for sure a teen series, as it deals with more complex issues including eating disorders and sexuality, but a great many of its protagonists are kids. In GONE, the seaside town of Perdido Beach is trapped within a dome-shaped force field (this was a year before UNDER THE DOME, mind you) and everyone over the age of 15 has vanished. The kids must try to rebuild society while supernatural forces threaten their lives. Described as “LORD OF THE FLIES meets Stephen King,” GONE challenges teen stereotypes with a no-holds-barred tale of murder, lies, and mutant superpowers. It might sound a little silly, but it’s a heart-pounding, violent, mysterious story that will grip you from page 1.

BH: The Top 10 Dean Koontz Novels

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

When it comes to household names in literary horror, the list pretty much begins and ends with Stephen King. This is a shame for so many reasons, but one of the biggest is that it gives short shrift to Dean Koontz, a King contemporary who is just as dizzyingly prolific. Since he began his career in 1968, Koontz has authored over 100 novels and novellas, some under an array of pseudonyms.
For anyone interested in exploring horror books, Koontz is an excellent stepping-stone away from King, but it’s hard to know where to start, especially because none of his works have such easily identifiable titles as THE SHINING or CARRIE. Well, I’m here to help. Please, step into my office. You can use this list of Koontz’s top 10 novels as a guidepost for your journey. Grab your reading glasses and a warm blanket, because these titles are sure to send a chill down your spine!

The most current novel on this list, ODD THOMAS is, appropriately, an odd one, but one of Koontz’s best blends of comedy and horror. The tale of a kooky young man who sees dead people has since been adapted into a film starring none other than Anton Yelchin.

So here we go, straight from the newest book to one of the oldest in the lineup. Although he’s been writing since the 60’s, Koontz didn’t come into his own as a true blue novelist until the mid-70’s, so WHISPERS hadn’t yet been sanded of its splinters. It’s a shabby, brutal little shocker about a woman being attacked by a killer she thought was already dead, that feels like a grindhouse flick transposed onto the page. Fun fact: Alfred Hitchcock wanted to develop WHISPERS into a film, but passed away before it could happen. It eventually got a not-so high-profile adaptation starring Chris Sarandon in 1990.

Now, this is a weird one. It combines Koontz’s love of soppy sentimentalism (there’s nothing he adores more than writing about couples finding love amidst tragedy and golden retrievers, something that certainly separates him from Stephen King) with the existential chaos of the mid-’90s. This paranormal tale of two cops told they only have 16 hours to live plays like a bonkers ’80s horror movie where literally anything can happen.

Every time Frank Pollard goes to sleep, he wakes up covered in evidence of mysterious nighttime travels he can’t remember. THE BAD PLACE starts off as an eerie mystery and descends into a series of grotesque twists and turns that will keep your eyes glued to the page. This one also almost got a film adaptation, from DREAM WARRIORS and THE BLOB’s Chuck Russell. The rather complex spiritual nature of the book prevented it from becoming a viable screenplay, something that would dog Koontz throughout his career.

Four different stories begin one night in Moonlight Cove, as the town is besieged with a rash of gruesome, possibly supernatural killings. MIDNIGHT is another spooky mystery, about small town citizens being used as pawns in a wicked game of life and death. Koontz has really hit his stride by this point, spinning tales with terrifying, ruthless circumstances yet still instilling in the reader an unshakeable sense of hope.

Probably Koontz’s most high-profile novel (it was adapted into a four-part, almost entirely unrelated film franchise that featured weirdly memorable stars like Corey Haim, Wings Hauser, Mark Hamill, and Lisa Wilcox), WATCHERS features a clash between two genetically enhanced dogs that is much more captivating and visceral than you’d think. It’s an electric thrill ride through the dusty underbrush of Southern California.

This is probably the Koontz book I’ve read the most, and for good reason. All of the themes he’s developed over the years reach full throttle in FALSE MEMORY, in which a strong central couple fight back against a seemingly invisible, all-powerful villain. Also it takes place in Southern California and there’s a dog. It’s the little things, you know? This time, the battleground is the characters’ own minds. When Martie Rhodes is suddenly stricken with autophobia (an extreme fear of her own capacity to cause harm), she must claw through her clouded, adrenaline-soaked judgment to save her husband and her friends from a menace she’s not even sure exists. It’s a terrifying story about grappling with personal demons that will strike fear into the heart of any reader who has one.

And here we reach the oldest novel on the list, perhaps the first where Koontz found the distinct writerly voice he’s been using for decades now. The small New England town of Black Water (you know it’s an early work because it doesn’t take place on the West Coast) has been pierced by subliminal messaging that makes the population putty in the hands of an evil conspiracy. This is Koontz’s most powerful treatise against the wicked potential of bureaucracy and the idle upper class.

LIGHTNING is everything you could want in a thriller novel. A high-stakes mystery that actually gets even better when sci-fi elements are introduced, LIGHTNING is also a love story populated with the most well-etched, sympathetic characters that Koontz has ever written. It’s a dazzling adventure through the events of one unlucky woman’s life as it unfolds under the protection of a shadowy guardian angel, as she’s on her way to becoming a Sarah Conner-esque badass. It hardly gets better than this.

Now, don’t laugh. You’ve probably seen the 1998 film adaptation of this novel, which is not so great (though Ben Affleck is the bomb). But the film stripped every shred of nuance from the source material, which explores the fraught relationship between two sisters as they arrive at a secluded mountain town where the entire population has vanished. Koontz has always been skilled at blending genres, but PHANTOMS glides through locked room mystery, paranormal siege thriller, theological treatise, speculative historical fiction, and sci-fi action romp without skipping a beat. Koontz has the keenest ability to conjure a fully fleshed character from thin air in just a single chapter, then strip that flesh from their very bones before your eyes. It’s fearless, it’s bonkers, and it’s almost inhumanly violent. If that’s not a solid recommendation, I don’t know what is.

BH: The Strange and Infamous History of Britain’s Holloway Sanitarium

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

The English hamlet of Virginia Water is tucked away in a quiet corner of Surrey. It is home to the grand Wentworth Estate, where the first Ryder Cup golf tournament was held. Nearby lies the leafy and serene Windsor Great Park. And until 1980, it was home to the Holloway Sanitarium — one of the most intriguing locations in the country.
Established in 1885, the Holloway Sanitarium served “the insane of the middle class.” A spacious establishment filled with grandly furnished rooms overlooking sweeping lawns, it was a beautiful place to be treated. Its reputation was quite fine, but it has been haunted by misfortune since the laying of its foundation stone in 1873. Shortly after that fateful date, architect John Philpot Jones died, leaving the work to his partner William Henry Crossland. This stroke of bad luck was but the first of a series of eerie occurrences throughout the sanitarium’s long, bizarre history.
In 1903, lightning struck the roof of the building, causing a fire that was quickly put out. It wouldn’t be so lucky the next time…

Before we push on, let’s spend some time on the Sanitarium grounds and get acquainted.
Holloway was well appointed, with a badminton court, a swimming pool, a chapel, a cinema, a hairdresser, and a wide variety of facilities providing the patients with rest and leisure between doses of strychnine. What the Sanitarium didn’t have on hand, Virginia Water happily supplied. Long-term residents frequented the town — wandering through the streets, quietly talking to themselves, crouching in corners, and dropping sugar cubes into their soup as they went about their business.
Into this environment came Harry, a patient with a talent for dates. As documented by travel author Bill Bryson (who was an orderly in the Tuke Ward in the early 1970s) in his book NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, Harry had the uncanny ability to tell you the day of the week of any date in history with lightning speed. December 21, 1935? Saturday. The second Wednesday of July 2017? The 12th. Inside his head was a sharply accurate calendar spanning all time… but one date in particular consumed his mind.
From the day he was admitted in 1950, Harry began to fret, asking staff members multiple times a day — in a strained, desperate voice — if the Sanitarium was going to close in 1980. They calmly and confidently reassured him that no, the hospital wasn’t going anywhere.
They were wrong.
On a dark and stormy evening in 1980, Harry was particularly restless. That night, lightning struck once more, igniting a blaze that consumed three wards and the electroshock therapy department. Says Bryson:
It would make an even better story if poor Harry had been held to his bed by leather straps and perished in the blaze. Unfortunately for purposes of exciting narrative, all the patients were safely evacuated into the stormy night, though I like to imagine Harry with his lips contorted in a strange rapturous smile as he stood on the lawn, a blanket around his shoulders, his face lit by dancing flames, and watched the conflagration that he has so patiently awaited for thirty years.
Now, historical documentation does vary on the details of this fire: Some sources say it took place in 1978 and began in the Sanitarium’s on-site cinema, leading the property on a two-year decline as renovation costs skyrocketed. But whichever source you choose to believe, Harry was right — in 1980, the gutted Sanitarium closed its doors permanently.
But if you thought that was the end of the story, you clearly haven’t been paying attention.
Holloway fell into a state of disrepair, abandoned to its gloomy memories… but it would soon hit the global stage in an entirely unexpected way: Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” music video.
That’s right, the Sanitarium was immortalized as the ethereal structure that housed Tyler and her bright-eyed schoolchildren. This isn’t just some long-forgotten relic — it’s a living, breathing piece of pop culture that you can revisit right now:
The Sanitarium quickly became a popular location for music videos, including (appropriately) Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at the Moon” and The Cure’s “Charlotte Sometimes.”
Holloway’s grim atmosphere also attracted the Michael Caine miniseries JACK THE RIPPER, the detective series INSPECTOR MORSE, and the 1986 reunion slasher SLAUGHTER HIGH. The latter film has even developed a macabre history of its own: Simon Scuddamore, who played the jester-masked killer, committed suicide mere days after the film’s release.

Today, the site has become a gated community, but echoes of its original purpose remain: a chamber orchestra performs in the remodeled cinema; a pool is inlaid in what was once the grand Gothic badminton hall. The original Sanitarium is lost to time, captured in fleeting glimpses of immortal celluloid.
It’s a place that was haunted not by a spirit or a poltergeist, but by a long-standing melancholy that soaked the ground, seeded by broken minds and bad luck. It wasn’t evil, it was just off-kilter… and that’s exactly why its story is so interesting.

BH: Five Unlikely Couples Found In These Unbelievable Horror Fan Fiction Recommendations!

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

Horror is a genre that allows filmmakers’ imaginations to run wild, concocting bombastic grotesqueries that viewers could never even dream of. But there’s one place where the audience can turn the tables and invent stories so wickedly gruesome that even horror directors have to bow down to their terrifying skill: romantic horror fan fiction. If horror movies freak you out, you’re in no way prepared for the truly unsettling couplings explored in the weirdly wide world of Here are five of my favorite discoveries.
A word of warning: Some of the stories linked in this article contain mature, NSFW themes. The excerpts I have selected are reasonably tame, but reader discretion is advised if you wish to explore the source material.
Do I recommend that anybody read the 11-chapter 2013 NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET fan fiction story “When Worlds Collide?” Hell no! But the concept itself is mighty intriguing. Robert Englund Freddy and Jackie Earle Haley Freddy must face off for supremacy, and original Freddy must protect Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy Thompson from the iron claw of his dark, edgy counterpart. Rooney Mara’s Nancy Holbrook is there too, but even she seems to recognize that she’s not important to this story.
Anyway, a dark attraction begins to form between Freddy and Nancy, who is now putting herself through college: Freddy attempts to resist it:
This to him he felt was now an even bigger battle to face than dealing with the imposter. He could win that battle easily but this one was oh so much worse.
While trying to force any kind of romance between Freddy and his premiere victim is deeply icky, the “worlds colliding” idea actually isn’t half bad. It’s the natural next step from FREDDY VS. JASON if you’re looking for a kind of rad crossover battle. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t really deliver, but something solid could definitely come from that kind of concept.
Through his long and storied history, FRIDAY THE 13TH’s Jason Voorhees has squared off against a great deal of powerful and beautiful women, but for some reason fan fiction authors have latched onto one in particular: PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD’s Tina Shepard. My current working theory for this is that her telekinetic powers make her an even match for the hulking undead killer, and teens especially can paint her as a Carrie-esque outcast, misunderstood by society. Anyone who’s been a teenager knows that that character archetype is pretty appealing at that age.
That’s probably the only way to explain 2016’s “Barton Hollow,” which begins like this:
It never started off soft or sweet, only violent, resentful, and grim as the reality they were born into. Only afterwards did tenderness come into play but it can’t erase the dark nature that is their relationship. Misery loves company.
The emo dramatics quickly backslide into a bizarre anti-romance about Jason biting her on the shoulder, but 2015’s “It’s Different” takes things even further, focusing on one particular confrontation, where Jason has Tina pressed threateningly against a wall, about to disembowel her while she holds back his arm with telekinetic force:
“Are you going to do something or just gonna hold me awkwardly here?”
That story ends with this romantic coda:
Jason has better things to do than think about Tina Shepard or how this girl made him feel… different.
So very different.
People are looking at THE NEW BLOOD and imprinting it with their own fantasies of a romance between two outcasts, which is… fine? I guess. You’d just think the zombie murderer who doesn’t speak wouldn’t be quite so appealing to so many people. And these stories are just two examples! There are practically more Jason/Tina pairings than there are FRIDAY THE 13TH movies.
OK, for the purposes of maintaining everyone’s sanity, I’m going to go ahead and assume we’re talking about the grown-up Angela played by Pamela Springsteen in SLEEPAWAY CAMP II and III. In an intriguing display of slasher synergy from the creatively titled 2016 story “My Bloody Valentine,” she has apparently struck up a friendship with Harry Warden, MY BLOODY VALENTINE’s Canadian miner killer. Never mind the fact that the killer in the movie was only pretending to be Harry Warden – I don’t think we can expect a great deal of film comprehension from the folks at
Although, weirdly enough, this fascinating opening line unnecessarily drags in a dangerously detailed account of Warden’s backstory, so who even knows:
After he had heard about Angela Baker and Paul’s relationship, Harry Warden felt rage growing inside of him, more rage than when he had first learned that he and his coworkers had been left for dead in the mine because his supervisors wanted to go to the Valentines dance.
This story is actually weirdly compelling, retconning Paul’s death from the original SLEEPAWAY CAMP as a crime of Harry Warden’s jealous passion, whereupon he pulls his classic move: Giving Angela Paul’s heart along with a sweet Valentine poem.
Oh, my love
Please don’t cry
I’ll wash my bloody hands and
We’ll start a new life
I don’t know much at all
I don’t know wrong from right
All I know is that I love you tonight
This story hilariously ends with the couple pinning the murder on a homeless man who lives in the woods (how romantic!). I actually greatly enjoyed this one. It’s a totally bugnuts glimpse into the mind of a young (I hope) horror fan. I think I’ll leave you with one more choice excerpt as a parting gift. Here are the story’s final lines:
“Goodbye, my bloody Valentine,” Harry said giving Angela a masked kiss
“It’s not Valentine’s Day,” Angela said.
“Don’t care” Harry said disappearing under the cabin.
2011’s “Fire & Ice” is a short one, but boy oh boy is it packed with detail. I’m not sure what teen adores both THE EVIL DEAD and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER with equal fervor, but I feel like they deserve a high five. For their taste, not the story, which is a bizarre but passionate comparison between the warmth of Ash’s body and the cold metal chill of his chainsaw hand:
Often, it began with a simple touch, fingers brushing against an arm, a cheek, a  shoulder, and it was heat shared between Chosen Ones, heat to even she raised beneath the Californian sun.
It’s actually not half bad as an organizing metaphor, and I suppose these two would have a lot to talk about. You know what? I could get behind this pairing. If they made a sitcom about Buffy and Ash sharing an apartment, I would definitely binge-watch it.
Throughout the 80’s, the question that plagued the minds of many a horror fanatic was “Who would win in a fight between Freddy and Jason?” Well now that that question was (sort of) answered in FREDDY VS. JASON, fans have moved on to the question “What if Freddy and Jason went on a double date?”
Please give a warm welcome to Invaderdoom78, the mastermind behind that MY BLOODY VALENTINE/SLEEPAWAY CAMP crossover. The author couldn’t resist throwing more meat in the stew with the 2015 story “Jason x Michael and Freddy x Ghostface Double Date.” It’s in no way remotely clear that the author is aware that Ghostface is a mantle taken on by multiple people throughout the SCREAM Franchise, but what they lack in detail retention, punctuation, or creative titling, they make up for with a pretty fun story that stays weirdly true to the characters at its center.
Of course there’s a Mary Sue character named Jennifer added to the story, but she’s just a bookend, introduced into the story as Jason’s “camp-sitter,” looking over Crystal Lake while he’s away:
“You know what to do, right?” Jason thought.
“Yes, kill trespassers, clean up the bodies, stay hidden as much as possible, and uh, throw the dead through windows.”
“Good girl,” Jason thought rustling her hair “Let’s go” he motioned towards the door.
This hilariously blasé story continues to a restaurant, where they’re served by a terrified waiter as tensions flare between Freddy and Jason (who can apparently communicate telepathically, though Michael doesn’t seem to have a problem talking). This anger turns into a drinking contest, and the couples head off to the movies (POLTERGEIST!) and the carnival, leaving a slashed-up bartender in their wake. Their competition continues through a half dozen carnival games (Freddy wins Ghostface a stuffed Pikachu, because why not) until the night is rudely interrupted by Dr. Loomis and Tommy Jarvis. Basically, it’s the four-part crossover we didn’t know we needed.
Then, of course, Jennifer returns for one last stinger with a line that may or may not have been intended to be funny, but got me guffawing so loud it freaked out my cat:
“Did you kill anybody?” Jason asked, actually speaking, taking off his mask, placing both it and the fish bowl on the end table.
“I did,” Jennifer grunted getting up as Michael took off his mask, ”Then I got shot in the butt by some guy who was dieing, so I left.”
What a ride.
The world of fan fiction is wet and wild, and I definitely had a good time doing my research on this article. But remember, this was performed by a professional horror nerd. Do not try this at home, unless you want to be mortified to your very core.

BH: 5 of the Goriest Kills in Non-Horror Movies

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

One of my favorite topics to write about is how horror infiltrates the non-genre aspects of pop culture. The genre we love is so subversive and niche, and there’s always a bit of a secret thrill that comes when a “regular” movie or TV show acknowledges it, even dabbling in it a little bit. And if there’s one element where non-horror films get closest to the macabre, it’s gore. Violence isn’t confined to just the scary side of the genre world, and sometimes an otherwise more family-friendly film will bust out a killer death scene (pun absolutely intended) that makes you feel like you’ve suddenly been dunked into an Eli Roth movie. Here are some of the most memorable, gory moments in non-horror history.

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Let’s begin with a classic. The Steven Spielberg family adventure movie RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK has haunted the memories of every young child who has watched it. The movie is an attention-grabber, so kids’ eyes will be glued to the screen by the finale where the Nazis open the coveted Ark of the Covenant, failing to heed the warning not to look directly at it. As any and all children watch with undivided attention, Nazis are hit with lasers, their heads explode, and then… that guy’s face melts clean off! RAIDERS has you under its spell, so there’s nothing you can do but sit in saucer-eyed horror, staring at the no-holds-barred gore that has abruptly elbowed its way into your movie.
The Courtyard Smackdown in RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY

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Martial arts movies aren’t normally known for their extravagant gore, but RIKI-OH is a special case. A top-to-bottom giddy gorefest, you could throw a dart at any random scene in the film and hit a gruesomely bloody death. But in my mind it’s hard to ignore this courtyard battle, where a man attempts to strangle Ricky with his own intestines. When your action movie has shades of ANTHROPOPHAGUS, you have my undivided attention.
The Toxic Waste Bath in ROBOCOP

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ROBOCOP, being a Paul Verhoeven film, never shies away from being a hard R, but the brutal, howling death of the character of Emile is particularly harrowing. After being inundated with toxic waste (in 80’s movies toxic waste was about as common on city streets as Starbucks), Emile comes flailing into the road, skin sloughing off his body, where he’s hit by a car and explodes into a fine pink mist. This is the movie that birthed a thousand horror fans, even if the plot was decidedly in the action milieu.
If you haven’t seen Logan yet, go rectify that immediately. Drawing confidence from the success of DEADPOOL, the third Wolverine film leans into its R-rating [SPOILERS], depicting unbridled carnage and mayhem in the gritty near future. The whole movie is chock full of incredible, lurid kills that pack a punch, but the scene I’ve chosen to highlight takes place in an Oklahoma City casino, where Wolverine fights through a psychic barrier in slow motion to painstakingly dispatch a series of evil goons, sending his claws on a bloody journey through their skulls. [END SPOILERS] No clip for this one. Go see it in theaters. Right now.
The Motel Bathroom in DRIVE

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Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE is a slow-moving, deliberate film, but it’s punctuated with swift blasts of violence that are even more startling when contrasted with the film’s quiet grandeur. It really drives home the point of how brutal and ugly violence is, but in no scene more so than the one where Christina Hendricks gets her head burst open in a motel bathroom with a gunshot effect straight out of MANIAC. If a non-horror movie can remind you of Tom Savini, it’s probably a good’un.

BH: Art is Not Dead: 10 Great Horror Posters from the 2010’s

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

Nostalgic film fans love to bemoan the death of the art of cinema as the media landscape shifts around them. “Movies are too shallow and puerile these days! There’s no creativity anymore! And every poster looks the same!” While it’s true we get a lot of one-sheets of a dude with his back to us, I would argue that the art of the movie poster has not been lost to us, just like cinema isn’t dead because of a couple TRANSFORMERS movies. Here are ten horror poster designs from the 2010’s so far that just might restore your faith in the craft.
This throwback giallo poster captures the retro magic and lurid coloring of the best Italian horror one-sheets. I especially love the way the poster cuts off the head of the central figure, drawing your eye to their bloody handiwork in the background.
Is it telling that the first two posters on this list are intentionally retro designs? Perhaps, but in my opinion it’s no crime to draw inspiration from the best. This 80’s-style slasher poster captures both the glamor of classic posters (featuring its starlet’s luminous face) and the unrestrained cheesiness of the slasher boom (the reflection in that knife is delightful) in one fun design.
OCULUS (2013)
Now, this poster is where things start to get really interesting. Don’t you miss the days when movie posters threw away almost the entire plot of the film in favor of a totally disconnected yet spectacular image? No, this movie isn’t about a girl bursting out of a mirror, but this design gives us a compelling, instantly iconic symbol for the dreamy atmosphere Mike Flanagan’s film provides.
THE BABADOOK’s poster is sleek and simple, yet totally effective. In addition to the color mimicking a page from an old book, the sheer amount of negative space contrasts sharply with the inky black shape of the Babadook. My favorite thing about the poster is that it works with the same motif of silhouette and shadow as the film itself.
I’m not sure I can properly explain why I love this design so much, but it’s just an elegant image, stylized just enough that it seems magical. And those warm colors rising from the black background are enormously pleasing to look at.
Just like the film itself, the poster for IT FOLLOWS takes its time telling its story. Below the blurb, your eye tracks downward for what feels like forever until it comes across the car. The figures inside are even smaller, isolated and alone in this vast image that makes their intimate moment seem cold and alien before you even know the nature of the plot.
This is the perfect poster for GREEN ROOM’s particular brand of mayhem, an unsubtle but beautifully tinted green affair that captures the anarchist punk tone in perfect motion.
SCREAM 4 (2011)
Yes, this poster kind of rips off the design for John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. Ask me if I give a crap. Both posters are marvelous, and this figure that shades the bone white Ghostface mask into the gleaming tip of a knife is light-years better than the SCREAM franchise’s go-to poster line-up of the actors’ headshots.
Man, what a great image. The cabin as an M. C. Escher Rubik’s Cube is a glorious design that only gains more meaning after you’ve seen the film.
This is just a pure work of art, painting an indelible image with broad, color-blocked strokes. Combining the stylization of Saul bass with the intimidating figure of Ana Lily Amirpour’s vampire, this is a design that belongs in a gallery, not just any old bedroom wall.

BH: A Definitive Ranking of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS Teens

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

If you didn’t want to feel old today, I have some bad news. Next week is the 30th anniversary of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS. The classic horror sequel which some fans argue is even better than the original (wrongly, but I respect their temerity) hit theaters in 1987 like a cannonball, raking in $44 million and hitting number 24 in the top films of the year. It has influenced millions of horror fans across time thanks to its delightful combination of thrills and chills, and today we will honor it with the definite ranking of Freddy’s greatest foes, the titular Dream Warriors.
Made up of several institutionalized teens who discover they can access superpowers in their dreams, like all heroic teams, not all Dream Warriors are created equal. So click play on the Dokken track below and see how your favorites stack up!

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8) Joey Crusel
Played by: Rodney Eastman
Powers: Supersonic Voice
Let’s face it; Joey is kind of a dumb-dumb. He knows a vicious killer is chasing them in their dreams, but his hormonal teenage brain falls for Freddy’s hot nurse disguise hook, line, and sinker. His kidnapping is the lure that leads many of his fellow Dream Warriors to their deaths, so I daresay he ain’t winning MVP this round.
7) Will Stanton
Played by: Ira Heiden
Powers: Wizard Magic, Can Walk
The wheelchair-bound Will has the ability to walk in his dreams, which is kind of poetic, but you’d think he could use his vast imagination to cook up some more useful wizard powers. Audiences would have loved to see Freddy face off against somebody else with reality-bending powers, but all Will can muster is a sputtering blast of VFX lightning before he kicks the bucket.
6) Jennifer Caulfield
Played by: Penelope Sudrow
Powers: ???
Jennifer isn’t as effective as Will (faint praise indeed), but her spectacular death earns her a higher spot on the list. Although she dies before the Dream Warriors have really had a chance to explore her powers, her welcome into prime time is pretty inarguably the kill that sparked Freddy’s transition from shadowy killer to one of the most pervasive pop culture icons of the late 80’s.
5) Phillip Anderson
Played by: Bradley Gregg
Powers: ???
Another gone-too-soon character who didn’t get a chance to develop his powers, Phillip nevertheless has the most personality of the early victims and he gets by far the coolest death, when Freddy gruesomely pulls out his veins and tendons to operate him like a marionette.
4) Roland Kincaid
Played by: Ken Sagoes
Powers: Super-strength
Here’s where things start to heat up. Kincaid is a major player in Freddy’s ultimate demise. He even lives to see the end credits! His outspoken personality makes him a favorite for many fans, but he’s just the bruiser of the team. He’s the Avengers’ Hulk or Fantastic 4’s Thing. Beyond brute strength, he doesn’t have much to offer, and Freddy can easily outwit him.
3) Kristen Park
Played by: Patricia Arquette
Powers: Pulling People Into Her Dreams, Acrobatics
Kristen parker is certainly the most prominent member of the group, and the one who facilitates Nancy’s discovery of dream powers. However, her skills aren’t especially useful when it comes to mano a mano combat. She can get everybody there, but then she has to sit on the sidelines and watch. Sure, her flips are pretty sweet, but Freddy and his razor glove won’t be defeated by an Olympics routine.
2) Nancy Thompson
Played by: Heather Langenkamp
Powers: Grad School Education
Nancy obviously gets a boost because she survived Freddy in the original NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but although she has no dream powers herself, she’s the key to unlocking the group’s potential. She’s basically their Obi-Wan Kenobi, right down to (SPOILERS) her sacrificing her life during their skirmish for survival. She should have seen through Freddy’s schmaltzy “ghost of her dead father” ruse immediately, which is why she’s not at the highest slot on this list, but throughout her too-short life, she always fought tirelessly to protect those around her from harm.
1) Taryn White
Played by: Jennifer Rubin
Powers: Beautiful, Bad
Oh, Taryn. We hardly knew ye. Easily the most sympathetic of the Dream Warriors, her hard-hitting backstory of drug addiction instantly gets people on her side, and her incredible punk ensemble is just the cherry on top. What horror fan doesn’t dream of being “beautiful… and bad?” She’s the poster child for the highs and lows of the 80’s, a perfectly badass dynamo in spite of her bruises.