Final Girl Friday: Helen Lyle, Candyman (1992)

We reanimate FGF this Halloween with one of the greatest horror heroines of all time, and my personal favourite: Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen).

*Spoilers – beware!*

The Girl

Helen Lyle, Candyman (1992)

The Situation

Helen is a grad student researching urban legends for her thesis on… urban legends. One day, along with her BFF Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons), she learns about some local folklore that focuses on one individual – The Candyman. Connected supposedly to a murder committed in the housing projects of Cabrini Green, our gal is eager to high tail it over there and snoop about – and work out how a myth can have such a hold on the crumbling community. But is it really fiction?

Things take a terrible turn when Helen completes the Candyman incantation in her own bathroom mirror – and receives a visit from the old pal she didn’t even know she had. I wouldn’t even write it down here in this post to be honest, but I think you might know it by now. It goes: Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, etc.

Meanwhile, she’s forced to confront her cheating husband and his new (younger) girlfriend, take on the angry residents of Cabrini, and try and keep out of prison/the mental hospital at the same time. Give her a goddamn break, guys.

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The Final Girl

First off, Helen is a classy dame and cut from Old Hollywood cloth. She’s all enormous green eyes, blonde pin curls and milky skin. You’re damn right I have a crush on her and you can’t blame The CM for wanting a piece too. Unfortunately, our antagonist could do with a lesson in consent and when he takes everything from her and tells her that all she has left is his desire for her, I had to scoff. FUCK YOU BUDDY.

Helen is a great final girl because she’s been fucked over so many times but still does the right thing. Where a lot of other people would give up, she keeps on keeping on because she’s a good person. Me? I’d be torn between embracing padded cell life and going on a final bloody rampage because fuck everybody who doubted me.

Our girl’s been framed for dog murder, the murder of her own best friend (devastating) – and baby kidnapping. She’s been cheated on, institutionalised (not to mention had her beloved fags confiscated) and stalked by an admittedly buff but relentless hook-handed suitor. She’d be forgiven for succumbing to the madness but she doesn’t, she carries on and saves the day.

When it comes to the classic Final Girl trope it is often said that she doesn’t always survive and sometimes has to push moral boundaries. Helen is a smart cookie and a generally good person, however she becomes something quite different at the end of this movie. She may go out of her way to save the baby and destroy Candyman, thus freeing the residents of Cabrini from his evil lore – but she’s also not afraid to take some cheeky revenge for herself. You can decide if Trevor’s punishment matches his crimes.

Final Girl Rating

5/5. The yardstick by which all wannabe Final Girls should be measured. 

You can read my review of Candyman here, if you fancy.

American Horror Story Rewatch: Part 2

Just like that, I am done. I can now dip into Apocalypse with a well-rounded understanding of all the characters, and where they cross-over/feature in each season. It’s so Stephen King!

I have absolutely loved my AHS marathon (which didn’t include Cult because that one is still so recent). Here are my thoughts:

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Freak Show

Freak Show starts strong but seems to drag in the last few episodes. Honestly, it could be cut by a couple of those, and the same could be said for the next two seasons as well. Like, we get it – let us live. As with the first two seasons, there’s a lot going on. The addition of Edward Mordrake is fun and it takes away one of the main villains early on (Twisty), leaving the coast clear for Dandy to step in as main psycho. But there’s so much to keep up with that it made my head spin a bit. I have also started to notice a trend for happier endings (for most of the characters) and it’s nice but also not really what I want. I sometimes want the wicked characters to get their comeuppance.

I also don’t really like Sarah Paulson‘s characters (Bette and Dot) in this (really bad FX) and find the addition of Neil Patrick Harris‘ Chester Creb a bit annoying (although it does bring back in the amazing Jamie Brewer). So it’s fun but could be condensed and therefore stronger as a result.

Evan Peters and Jessica Lange are spectacular as per and I really enjoy my attraction to Paul the Illustrated Seal. Frances Conroy and Emma Roberts are a bit wasted though – I prefer Emma when she’s being bitchy.

I did appreciate the tie in to Asylum as we meet Pepper again and then follow her journey to Briarcliffe. It’s sweet and sad but it’s nice to get a little bit of background on this character, who is played wonderfully by Naomi Grossman. We also enjoy a flash of Asylum’s Nazi doctor (James Cromwell) who is directly involved in a very macabre story line featuring Elsa Mars. This says a lot about me but I love the snuff stuff, it’s so horrible and that after all, is why we are here.

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Hotel

Hotel is majestic tbh and maybe my second fave. It is the first AHS without Queen Lange however, but Gaga does a mighty job as The Countess. Highlights here are Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) and Kathy Bates’ downtrodden Iris, especially when they team up against The Countess for some messy, bloody revenge. Again, this could be cut down a bit but when the setting is as wonderful and The Shining-esque as the Hotel Cortez, who’s really complaining? Evan Peters’ James Marsh is a little OTT but the Devil’s Night episode is magnificent. Lily Rabe is perfect as Aileen Wuornos.

Things that don’t work for me so well are Chloë Sevigny as Alex (she’s so amazing, why can’t AHS use her appropriately?) and I don’t give a damn about the Children of the Corn kids or frankly, serial killer (surprise!) John Lowe. What a dull family! See also: Rudolph Valentino and wife. Zzzzzz.

It is awesome to have Sarah Paulson back as Murder House‘s underused Billie Dean Howard though.

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Roanoke

This one is good because it really plays with structure and tries something new with the reenactment concept. It is also over long and very messy in places. For a time, in the second part when the real life characters and the actors who played them are trapped in the house, I lost the will to live for a while. There are good elements, don’t get me wrong but I didn’t really understand a lot of it – like Gaga’s character Scáthach – who never really comes to fruition and then just sort of peters out.

I still like it though and I particularly love the horrible Polk Family. Adina Porter enters the AHS franchise as the real Lee Harris and I bloody love her. She was amazing in Cult and she’s in the new one too, so yey for that! Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates both deserve to be strung up for their accents though, there’s no excuse.

Until Apocalypse, bitches.

Patchwork (Film) Review

Horror month rumbles on and I for one am as happy as a clam about it. This month is something of a mish mash of horror ideas which is ironic given the premise. Shall we?

Patchwork (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A bombastic throw-back horror-comedy that follows three young women who go out partying one night and find themselves Frankensteined together in one body. Now they must put aside their differences so they can find who did this and exact revenge!

My Review

Blimey. This week’s pick is not what you’d call a pretty picture – we do get three (sort of) Final Girls for the price of one though so I’m not really mad at it.

Jennifer (Tory Stolper), Ellie (Tracey Fairaway) and Madeleine (Maria Blasucci) are three individual women. To start with. Via a series of flashbacks we learn that each were present in the same bar on the night they became one. Thanks to a maniacal gentleman known only as The Surgeon (Corey Sorenson), who splices them together in the same body, our trio are quickly and reluctantly acquainted.

All conscious and babbling at once, the girls share one body and three minds which proves challenging but also fucking awesome when they pool their skills to solve the mystery of what happened to them.

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We’ve all been there, amirite?

Jennifer is a billy no mates who, after a lack luster birthday party returns home to wait for her married lover. Here she is knocked unconscious and when she awakes, she’s not alone. She is joined by ditzy party girl Ellie and quiet girl Madeleine – as mentioned above, in the same mangled body.

Luckily, all three are on the same page regarding vengeance and the film is at its best when they go on a rampage for the truth, revenge and hopefully, a cure. Along the way they meet geeky Garret (James Phelps) who may have a big thing for bitchy Jennifer, and scene by scene they kick arse and take names (because even if half the men in this bar are not The Surgeon, they are THE WORST and therefore guilty of something).

Jellileine (lol) dispose of date rapists and pervs, cheats and generally douchy arseholes like pros – which is joyful because girl power but also… is there a secret lurking deep down within one of them?

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You’ve got red on you

My Thoughts

When we learn more about the motivations of one of our heroines I felt like it was trying to say something about the societal pressure of being a woman and trying to be perfect, but that falls apart for me quickly.

This film tries so hard to be kooky and falls short. It could be great if they dialed down the hamminess and stuck with the feminist theme. I enjoy the fact that each of the women has their own issues and when they start to bond it made me happy, like they’d finally found each other. But that feeling didn’t last long and I got bored quickly.

All the male characters are dreary and terrible – and this is proof that yet again comedy/body horror is so hard to get right. Which is shame because I really wanted to like it.

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Where’s your head at?

My Rating

2.5/5. A mish mash of ideas that never really come to anything, sadly.

What would my sweet think of this one? Would she surgically attach herself to it forever or… not so much? Find out here.

3 Contemporary Horrors

They say they don’t make horror like they used to and it is true that, of all the genres, this one seems to be the hardest to get right. But occasionally it is possible, even in this day and age. Here are a couple of my favourites, just in time for Halloween.

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The Innkeepers (2011)

During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.

I’m quite a lover of Ti West‘s films, and I was going to choose House of the Devil for the purposes of this post because it is really good. However, I also really like The Innkeepers and it’s my blog, so nurr.

Sometimes I’m not even that sure why I like it so much – I think public opinion is quite split on it. I don’t care though, I like it and it could be because of the slight homage it pays to The Shining, it could be Kelly McGillis as a washed up actress – all I know is that I like the concept and it leaves me feeling pretty creeped out. At the same time, it’s having a laugh and the effects seem deliberately schlocky which only adds to the vibe.

There’s also a sadness that permeates the narrative, the ending is tragic and there’s a thread about an old man who has haunted me ever since.

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You’re Next (2011)

When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

You’re Next isn’t exactly reinventing the horror wheel but it is seriously ace with an awesome final girl to boot. I’m going to write more about Erin later on in #blogtober but for now know that this survivalist is not about to sit down and accept a premature death any time soon.

Full of twists and a lot of gore, this film takes on the traditional home invasion trope and runs with it. Proof that isolation with your family in the woods is pretty much the worst. Coincidentally, Ti West actually stars in this movie as one of the girls’ boyfriends and I think is the first person in the house to die.

Enjoy!

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Creep (2014)

A young videographer answers an online ad for a one-day job in a remote town to record the last messages of a dying man. When he notices the man’s odd behavior, he starts to question his intentions.

Hands down one of the most effective thriller/horrors I’ve ever seen, I pretty much recommend this to everyone all the time. Mark Duplass plays the oddly vulnerable Josef, a lonely man with a lot of baggage – and he plays him very, very well.

Honestly, all I can say is watch this, ask no more questions. Then watch the sequel because that’s good too – the third film in the trilogy is currently in production.

What are you watching this Halloween?

American Horror Story Rewatch

The last three/four months of the year are always my favourite. From late September to January I love reading ghost stories and watching horror from the comfort of my warm flat. These dark stories, they light up the long nights and I love them even more then. So my treat to myself this year is to revisit American Horror Story from the start (thank you Netflix).

Well, call me committed because I started two weeks ago (early, sue me) and I’m just about to finish Freak Show. My relationship with this show has been complicated in the past – when it first burst forth with its demented artistry – I loved it.

I gobbled up Murder House, Asylum and Coven without a second thought. But I ran out of steam when if came to Season 4 (Freak Show). I experienced the same with Hotel and Roanoke, and I’m not even sure why. I was enjoying myself and then, I must have got distracted.

I finished Cult though and I’m gagging to get into the new season, Apocalypse but not before I’ve re-watched everything from the beginning. And I am loving it so far!

Here are my thoughts on the first three seasons. *Minor spoilers*

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Murder House

The original but not the best in my eyes. Thoroughly enjoyable though – not least because it reintroduced us to the old school magic of Jessica Lange – who is the undoubted Queen of AHS. MH is a bit of a mess in the sense that it crams a hell of a lot into it – so many murders occur in that house it’s hard to keep up – but I really appreciate the set up.

The cast is great – Evan Peters, Lange, Frances Conroy, Connie Britton, Taissa Farmiga – and I really love some of the story threads. Including; Violet and Tate (love’s fucked-up dream), Moira O’Hara the maid trapped in perpetual purgatory, Dr. Charles Montgomery (illegal home abortionist and part-time Frankenstein), The Black Dahlia (#obsessed) and neighbour Constance Langdon’s own horrible arc.

I’m especially fond of Interior Designer Chad (Zachary Quinto) and his lover Patrick, cut down in the middle of a blazing row – and trapped together in the Murder House for all eternity.

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Asylum

Same criticism as above but more so with Asylum. So much going on and a lot of it doesn’t quite come to fruition – Nazi doctor story line, I am looking at you. But it is horrible and darker somehow (yes, even darker than gimp rape).

Lange’s Sister Jude grapples with her own personal guilt as she runs the show at Briarcliff, a home for the mentally incapacitated. She’s not a good woman and she’s delicious. Working alongside lovely Sister Mary Eunice (AHS regular Lily Rabe) and staff doctor (with an iffy past) Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell), she tends to her patients with an iron first. Her wards include wrongly accused lady murderer Kit Walker (Peters) and lesbian journalist being kept against her will, Lana Winters (Paulson).

On staff also is kind Dr. Oliver Thredson (Quinto) who may or may not harbor a dark secret of his own – but don’t we all?

Asylum features some one-off story lines that kind of muddy the water for me. For instance Arthur Arden, like Charles Montgomery before him, is something of an experimental surgeon but I don’t feel as though they see that through. It fades out in favour of giving more minor characters their screen time. Plus, when he’s accused of being a Nazi doctor by Anne Frank (just go with it), I wanted that to come to something (although there is a passing reference to him in Freak Show).

Plus, there’s the UFO story running through the heart of Asylum that doesn’t really float my boat – though it works better than I thought it did the first time round. Maybe I’m just more tolerant in my old(er) age.

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Coven

Definitely my favourite to date and you could argue that the format has tightened up for the third story. It definitely flows better – and for me, the witches of Salem make the very best subject matter. Plus, Stevie Nicks!

Emma Roberts, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and Gabourey Sidibe join the cast and add another bitchy layer to proceedings. They’re all magnificent and the young witches, including Taissa Farmiga and Jamie Brewer as Nan are dreamy. Especially when Stevie Nicks loving necromancer Misty Day (Lily Rabe) joins them from the swamp.

Set in New Orleans and focused around Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, run by headmistress Cordelia Foxx (Paulson) we enjoy the company of witch hunters, axe-murderers, voodoo queens and ancient (racist) aristocracy.

As for Lange, I think this is her best work. She nails The Supreme Fiona Goode to the floor. As she goes against the long time truce made way back when with Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau (Bassett), she struggles with her own mortality and will stop at nothing to hold onto her crown. As for her life-long rival, Myrtle Snow (France Conroy), I know whose style I’m going to channel in 30 years time.

On Wednesdays we wear black, bitches.

~

Thoughts on Freak Show, Hotel and Roanoke to follow.

What are you watching?

Veronica (Film) Review

Halloween month and all is right in the world. Or rather, the world has gone to shit on this side of the Atlantic and across the pond, as Jill and I have been discussing for the last couple of days – but we can always relieve our fears for an hour or so by watching true terror unfold. The question is, which is more terrifying: US/UK politics or a sadistic soul-snatching demon?

*Minor spoilers*

Verónica (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.

My Review

This is ‘loosely’ based on true events, a fact I will leave with you because knowing and believing that will make this an infinitely more frightening tale. It is 1991 and Verónica (Sandra Escacena), our 15-year-old protagonist has been having a time of it. Having recently lost her father, she is expected to look after her three siblings pretty much full-time while her mother works long hours to keep them all afloat. (I’ll not have a word said against Momma who is doing her fucking best. They all are).

Verónica’s siblings are the twins, Lucia and Irene – and her brother AKA the sweetest kid in cinematic history, Antoñito (Iván Chavero). The four of them muddle on but still bicker as brothers and sisters are wont to do. Antoñito has a habit of wetting the bed but is so adorable that you could never be mad at him for long, if ever.

During a lesson at school, on the same day as a solar eclipse, the teacher bangs on about how some ancient cultures use eclipses to summon dark spirits. Verónica and her pals Rosa and Diana already have their own plans and a Ouija board ready to go as soon as the light fades – and all I want to do is scream at the screen: For the love of God DON’T DO IT, girls!

But this would be a short, boring film if they listened to my advice, wouldn’t it?

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“Do you like my tight sweater?”

While the rest of the school, including Verónica’s brother and sisters are on the roof looking through negatives at the sun, the girls are in the basement with the board. V’s end goal is to make contact with her dad, while Diana’s boyf was killed in a motorcycle accident and she wouldn’t mind a chat with him too. Unfortunately, it soon becomes apparent that something isn’t right. The glass on the Ouija heats up to an unbearable temperature but V doesn’t move her hand – and at the exact point of the eclipse, it shatters and she cuts her finger, bleeding all over the board. Then she slips into a catatonic state before screaming like a banshee.

After passing out the school nurse asks if she’s on her period which admittedly does sometimes feel like being possessed by a goddamn demon – but is not the root of all her woes this time around, woman. After that V experiences many strange occurrences, and things get creepier and creepier – naked dad turns up in the night and then changes into a demon, Antoñito gets burnt in the bath, that sort of thing.

Bites and scratches begin to appear all over V’s body and she’s haunted by things that go bump in the day (and night). All the while her BFFs start to avoid her and leave her out because they’re frankly scared of her and she is forced to turn to one of the school’s nuns, “Sister Death” for her help.

Sister Death is an elderly blind-badass who kicks her arse for being so careless during the eclipse then explains that a dark spirit has attached itself to V during the seance. When she tries to dispel it, nothing happens.

*Note, Sister Death is my fave character as she embraces the macabre nickname the kids have given her, stating that it’s more interesting that her actual name. QUEEN.

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You OK, hun?

So Sis Death pretty much just tells V to protect her siblings and hope for the best. She also states that V can force the spirit to leave by doing right on what she did wrong (e.g. waking it up in the first place). V realises (all too late one suspects) that she never signed off on the Ouija and tries to convince Rosa and Diana to get back on the horse so they can say ta-ra to the demon. Realistically but also disappointingly, both girls respond to this request with a resounding “FUCK NO” – and V is on her own.

Forced to do the seance with the kids instead, shit kicks off big style when Antoñito accidentally draws an invocation symbol on the walls, rather than one of protection. Rookie mistake, kiddo but you’re too sweet, I swear. And from here it all goes bat shit as the little cutie is snatched by the demon (who is truly, mind-numbingly hideous).

V calls the po po and helps the twins escape the building and then stays to rescue Antoñito and fight the demon. She uncovers a shocking truth about the whole situation in the process. But will poor Verónica get out before it’s too late?

You know the drill.

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Leave Antoñito alone!

This film isn’t bad and does offer some truly freaky moments but it’s ultimately easy to forget. Escacena as our titular character is very good and likeable so you’ll leave this feeling a little bit sorry for how shit turns out.

I can only imagine how a teenage girl already grabbling with grief and adolescence would feel also having to protect her family from a demon. Like, cut the girl some slack. It all feels very much like a metaphor for burgeoning womanhood and proof as always that men, even from Hell will do anything in their power to sap the energy and vitality out of any woman they can.

Except you Antoñito. You’re golden.

My Rating

3.5/5.

What does my own little demon think of the adventures of poor Veronica? Would she protect it to the death or leave it to its own devices? Find out here.

Late Night Lady DJ

Long ago I fell in love with a very specific horror trope and dream job all at the same time: the late night lady DJ. 

This will be a character you have encountered a good few times if you’re a lover of scary movies, particularly the classics. The late night lady DJ works the graveyard shift and has a hypnotic voice that rings out strong and true into the night. She often narrates the horror as it unfurls before us – she’s a special final girl, the beacon of hope in a haunted night.

I really think I’d be good at this role. To be the voice in the darkness, the comfort and the calm, playing sad songs and angry anthems – taking calls from the lonely hearts and the insomniacs. Here are a few of my favourite inspirations:

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Heidi Hawthorne

I was walking by with my dog and I thought I would just come in and sit for a minute. Is that okay? Are you closed? ~ Heidi Hawthorne (to a Priest in a church)

Played by Sheri Moon Zombie in The Lords of Salem

I personally adore this movie and hold it in the highest esteem perhaps because of the character of Heidi Hawthorne. This Late Night Lady DJ is part of an on-air trio with her colleagues Whitey and Herman – and is a recovering drug addict. When she plays a mysterious record live on the radio one night, it triggers something in the women of Salem, something witchy and wonderful. But is all the weirdness that ensues in her newly drug-lapsed mind or is her connection to The Lords (a coven of Satan worshipers) very real? 

Rob Zombie does not always get it 100% right but he did with Lords. I just love the imagery, which for me has the flavour of Kubrick’s The Shining. It’s genuinely creepy and Sheri Moon is the best she’s ever been. Heidi is a cool lady whose nice to her dog and does banter with the best of them on-air. I’d definitely like to be friends with her IRL – my favourite LNLDJ hero.

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 Stevie Wayne

I don’t know what happened to Antonio Bay tonight. Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us. In one moment, it vanished. But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don’t wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again. To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog. ~ Stevie Wayne

Played by Adrienne Barbeau in The Fog

Stevie might well have the coolest set up of all the DJs, broadcasting live from her lighthouse. When the mysterious fog starts to roll in (and with it a band of vengeful ghost fishermen), Stevie implores her listeners to rescue her son from her home on the mainland.

Her voice guides the locals (mostly) to safety as the terror unfolds but there’s only so much a girl can do. And all this while she rocks a lovely 80’s perm and plaid. BABE.

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Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock

I know nobody’s listening ‘cos you’re all looming, but I got a shot of hot rock ‘n roll for you anyway… ~ Stretch

Played by Caroline Williams in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II

I LOVE Stretch and have already said all I need to say about her here. I stand by everything still – she is a total and utter bad ass.

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Sydney Briar

Oh, God. You’re gonna eat me soon, aren’t you? ~ Sydney Briar

Played by Lisa Houle in Pontypool 

Shock-jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) might be the so-called star of the show but his station manager Sydney deserves credit for her bravery in fighting the infected horde who attack their small radio station – and are the reason the small town of Pontypool is current on lock-down.

Pontypool is an underrated gem as it is but Grant is the meat in a feisty girl sandwich as he also has a cool radio assistant in Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly). When it becomes clear that certain words in the English language have become ‘infected’ and are therefore contaminating the people who hear them, Laurel-Ann is compromised and it’s a waste frankly. But that’s the price we have to pay for the horror we love sometimes. Long live Sydney though, or should I say ‘Lisa the Killer’? (Just watch it).

My review is here.

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Jungle Julia

Black men and a whole lota’ mother fuckin’ white men have had plenty fun adoring my ass. I don’t wear their teeth marks on my butt for nothing. ~ Jungle Julia

Played by Sydney Tamiia Poitier in Death Proof

JJ isn’t quite the same as the others, in that we don’t see her at work in the studio but I feel like she had to appear on this list because I love Death Proof so much.

Jules is a sexy woman without a doubt, confident in her own skin with a voice to die for – she’s thoroughly enjoying her fame and having her face plastered all over billboards across the city. We don’t get to enjoy her for long, thanks to Stuntman Mike and she goes out in the most horrifying way – but she’ll always be one of the highlights of this movie for me. Gone but very hard to forget.

Right, so any local radio stations hiring?

Blogtober 2018 – Coming Soon!

Since we’re about to enter the best month of all, I’m currently planning my #blogtober2018 posts, as well as this year’s 31 Horrors (see 2017’s here). Even though I’ll be in Copenhagen for a small period at the beginning, I’m aiming to watch a horror movie for every day of October, just like last year. I’ve even got a list pre-prepared, check me out!

Anyway, I aim to fill my Blogtober with all of my favourite spooky things, creepy books, horror films and Autumn flavoured posts – who knows where the month will lead us? All I know is that it’s the best and I can’t wait.

Out the way September…

Selfie from Hell (Film) Review

We start September with a new horror currently featured on Netflix. It tackles one of the most prolific afflictions (?) of our generation (as I type that I realise that we’re not actually talking about MY generation but the one beneath it, maybe even further down that that. God, I’m ancient).

*Spoilers*

Selfie from Hell (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

After her cousin comes to visit and falls ill, a woman starts to receive strange cell phone messages.

My Review

We all know that selfies are bad and anyone who partakes might as well be murdered horribly as punishment, right? I think we can all agree. Obviously that isn’t the message here and I jest but one of my pet peeves is people who hate on social media even though its all part of evolution and the world we live in – and is generally a positive thing, sue me.

Anyway, this film doesn’t really do anything by way of a message which might be where it falls down. Perhaps if it had been making a comment on social media on the whole it would have been stronger but the result is all just very… so?

Hannah (Alyson Walker) is a good girl because she’s clean and pretty and conscientious. When her cousin Julia (Meelah Adams) comes to stay it is immediately apparent that something is majorly off about her. She looks dog rough for a start and this isn’t being mean, it’s the truth – the girl is clearly not well.

On arriving at Hannah’s, she soon falls into a stupor which leads her cousin on a dubious mission to find out just what the fuck is actually going on.

I might be a little hazy on the order of the day here as I was distracted (by social media, go figure) but Julia is from Germany and has traveled to the US to visit her cousin, Hannah. Back in her home country, Julia is a vlogger (popular enough to have a couple of conspiracy theories about her posted on the web but she’s no Zoella).

Before we even meet Hannah I believe there’s a spooky selfie taking sequence that reveals a nasty surprise for Julia – whenever she snaps a cheeky duck face, it is revealed that she is not alone. Fuck that, honestly – that would probably be the only way to deter me from taking pictures of my own beautiful face.

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“Please stop sending me Farmville requests. PLEASE!”

Back in the US with Julia in a catatonic fug, Hannah is desperately worried and determined to figure shit out. She first of all starts digging around Julia’s laptop which clues her in on some of her cousin’s recent vlogs. Or one, namely Selfies from Hell, Part 1. But where is part 2…? Ooooh.

Watching Part 1 doesn’t answer any of the questions Hannah has so she does what any sensible heroine would, she googles how to access The Dark Web. Is it that easy honestly? She also recruits her cyber/Skype love interest Trevor (Tony Giroux) who is a dab hand with a hard drive (pnar) who gives her just one piece of advice: don’t give out any personal information on The Dark Web. So she doesn’t and everything works out just fine. SYKE.

Obviously she gives out her personal email address within 17 seconds of speaking to someone – Trevor’s big plan is to go onto TDW and ask anyone if they know anything about these mysterious 13 selfies Julia’s been banging on about (apparently it’s a video which is kind of confusing and not what a selfie is but NVM. If you watch all 13 selfies then you’re basically in BIG TROUBLE).

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At least something was

Hannah gives her deets to user F34R3473R (fuck typing that more than once), gets sent first a nasty message, then receives several pervy phone calls. Who knew? During her Nancy Drew investigations, Hannah also uncovers multiple articles surrounding Julia’s mysterious death – but hang on a minute, she’s asleep upstairs in the spare room, non?

From here we loose grip on the narrative as Hannah finds herself in a sticky situation with the pervert stalking her, Trevor watches the 13 selfies (duh) and the evil entity reveals him/itself. I can’t really remember what happens at the end except to say there’s no happy ending for anybody concerned.

One interesting thing about Selfie from Hell is that main actress Meelah Adams produced a short by the same name (which then became this film) as part of her bachelor thesis on the effects of viral videos. I want to like it more for that reason alone. Unfortunately, it’s not very good beyond the deeply relateable premise.

It isn’t horrible, apart from not making the most sense, it’s just instantly forgettable. And let’s face it, there can’t be a more interesting playground to explore that The Dark Web so how is it so boring? I mean, apparently you can buy a raccoon on there – what’s not to love?

Performances aren’t great, the production values are not great and it isn’t that scary – however, the selfie scenes are creepy, I’ll give them that.

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“Keep searching, it’s a raccoon or nothing…”

My Rating

2/5.

What does my girl think of this one? Would she add it to her Instagram story or delete that shit forever? Find out here.

The Witch (Film) Review

Or: Stone the Crows!

This week features a film we’ve both already seen but I feel like we come back to it a lot, much like The Babadook in discussion and certainly in comparison to other movies. Since it’s free for all month and there’s no way I could complete with last week’s joyful pick, I figured this might be fun to review. Or perhaps fun isn’t quite the term. Try harrowing, haunting, ominous AF.

*Spoilers*

The Witch (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.

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My Review

New England in the 1630s and William (Ralph Ineson) and his clan have just been booted from their home due to differences in religious opinion. Basically, William interprets The New Testament one way and every one else another. The fam – William and his wife Katherine, son Caleb, daughter Thomasin and the twins Mercy and Jonas – relocate far from the plantation and build their own basic farm in the woods.

Shortly after their arrival, Katherine (Kate Dickie) gives birth to her fifth child, baby Samuel. Shit hits the fan when Thomasin (the really v. good Anya Taylor-Joy) is playing peekaboo on the outskirts of the woods with the baby when he disappears. Off camera we, the viewer, learn quickly of Samuel’s fate (it ain’t a good scene, man) but the family do not and there are varied opinions as to what has become of Samuel – witch or wolf being the two options.

Katherine is devastated and spends her days crying in bed as any mother would. William, sick of nothing growing in the farm, determines than in order to survive, the men will have to learn to catch their own food. He takes his son Caleb hunting and while alone he tells him that he sold Katherine’s silver cup to buy hunting supplies. Sadly the hunt does not yield much and family life is even more tense.

All the while the twins spend an abnormal amount of time goading the family goat, Black Phillip (voice by Daniel Chaudhry). We’ll come back to him later.

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So the finger of blame is pointing squarely at Thomasin. When Katherine finds her cup missing she insinuates that Thomasin has something to do with its disappearance too. Sure, everyone blame the baby-loser. William and Katherine argue into the night about sending her away to serve another family.

Side note: Let’s be real this isn’t a cheery yarn.

Tired of the misery and wanting to do something to help his family, Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) sneaks out into the darkness to try his hand at hunting again. Thomasin follows him and demands to go along or she’ll grass him up to their dad. While in the woods the pair are separated (Thomasin is knocked unconscious), the dog is ripped apart by unknown forces and Caleb has an encounter with a seductive witch. Once again Thomasin is forced to return home without a sibling and the family is fraught.

When Caleb turns up later, delirious and naked, Katherine is convinced that witchcraft is at play (you think?) and prays over Caleb. Unfortunately, our boy is not long for this world and shuffles off, not before throwing up an apple and presenting a beautifully serene monologue. In the melee, the twins get upset because they can’t remember the words to the Lord’s Prayer and accuse Thomasin of being a witch. In retaliation, she tells her parents about their incessant chatter with Black Phillip.

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Cursed cursed image

To shut them all up William locks the remaining children in the goat pen with the big man himself. Later they witness an old witch drinking the blood from another goat.

I shan’t spoil the ending but there are more fatalities, some fantastic Black Phillip dialogue and a distressing breast-feeding scene which I can feel deep inside my core when I close my eyes. Let’s just say by the end all the paranoia and the ominousness pays off.

Witches. Witches everywhere.

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My Thoughts

I couldn’t love this more. It’s such a great example of a powerful modern horror and it ticks all my personal boxes. Everything about the way it looks, from the blue-tinged filter to the stark landscape works in its favour, while the tall trees framing the farm land add to the feeling of being forever watched. I actually feel cold and uncomfortable watching this – and I like it.

All the performances are spot on but Anya is incredible here, all doe-eyed and on the cusp of womanhood. The conclusion is deeply satisfying and stunning, I think. It makes me want to shed my undergarments and join a coven.

In terms of theme, The Witch explores the concept of persecution against women (but of course), female empowerment, black magique, puberty, familial ties – so many topics and its open to your own interpretation too. So make of it what you will but check it out please, I love.

My Rating

4/5.

What did my favourite witch make of this? Would she dance naked with it around the bonfire or feed it to Black Phillip? Find out here, obvi.