‘Leaving Dc’ A Lesson on Anticlimax and the Deflation of Tension

As any writer will tell you, endings are hard. I used to give Stephen King (who remains my favorite author) endless grief for his seeming inability to satisfyingly end any of his stories post, like, 1990. That is, right up until I started writing fiction myself, and finding that, holy hell, endings are the worst. Telling a story is easy. You can pile on as … Continue reading ‘Leaving Dc’ A Lesson on Anticlimax and the Deflation of Tension

Savageland: Found Footage Horror Gets Sickeningly Political

I’ve been on a bit of a found footage kick lately. I know some of you out there really can’t stand the genre, due either to its conventionally low production values or its tendency to induce motion sickness faster than not-quite-up-to-code teacup ride at a sketchy carnival, but I’m a huge sucker for any film made with a handheld camera and roughly six dollars. They … Continue reading Savageland: Found Footage Horror Gets Sickeningly Political

Sex and Violence as an Art Form in Ti West’s ‘X’

Ah, A24. You bring us so much wonderful, weird horror. From slow, understated supernatural dramas like It Comes at Night and Witch to visceral, chaotic nightmares like The Lighthouse and Midsommar, A24’s horror selection has touched on just about every subgenre that could comfortably fit within the boundaries of what some critics have (somewhat obnoxiously) dubbed ‘elevated horror.’ These are ‘respectable’ horror films, movies that … Continue reading Sex and Violence as an Art Form in Ti West’s ‘X’

Someone Please Just Put ‘Texas Chainsaw’ Out of Its Misery

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise is… a mess. In 1974, with the release of Tobe Hooper’s now-classic original entry, the series hit the ground running stronger than pretty much any of its contemporaries, save maybe John Carpenter’s OG Halloween. Yet despite this strong start, and the status of its mascot killer Leatherface as a genuine pop culture icon, the Texas Chainsaw sequels have crashed and … Continue reading Someone Please Just Put ‘Texas Chainsaw’ Out of Its Misery

‘Scream’ is the Best ‘Scream’ Since ‘Scream’

Meta commentary is, for better or for worse, everywhere in film these days. Movies are increasingly self-aware, self-referential, and self-deprecating, to varying degrees of success. When done well, a movie written in this fashion can be witty and intelligent, savvy in its own genre tropes enough to lampshade and subvert them. When done poorly, however, a movie that tries too hard to be cleverer than … Continue reading ‘Scream’ is the Best ‘Scream’ Since ‘Scream’

‘Pumpkinhead’ and How Design Can Elevate a Horror Film from Good to Great

Pumkpkinhead is one of my absolute favorite Halloween-season movies. There’s just something about the bleak, spooky atmosphere and the classic, almost fairy-tale story that makes it a perfect movie for a chilly October night. But if you broke it down into its composite parts, there’s really not much on the surface that seems all that special about it. From a narrative perspective, it’s a fairly … Continue reading ‘Pumpkinhead’ and How Design Can Elevate a Horror Film from Good to Great

Leslie Vernon: The King of the Meta-Slasher

In our previous discussion of the 1983 cult-classic Sleepaway Camp, we talked about how slasher films can fall into a trap of being overly self-important and stagnantly serious. Slashers are inherently goofy, even when played straight, and to pretend otherwise often leads to disaster. Of course, you can have serious slasher flicks, but even the most noteworthy among them like Halloween and Black Christmas still … Continue reading Leslie Vernon: The King of the Meta-Slasher

Legends of Horror, Ranked: Child’s Play

Closing out our franchise countdowns is sort of the black sheep of the pop-culture horror icons. Friday the 13th and Halloween both stick to fairly standard slasher tropes, with a stray exception here and there, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, while having a slightly more surreal and fantastical premise, still mostly feels stuck squarely in the same camp. You see one movie in these … Continue reading Legends of Horror, Ranked: Child’s Play

How ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ Taught Me to Never Count a Franchise Out Too Soon

Ouija is a godawful movie. And this is coming from a guy that likes most of the Leprechaun films. Trying to cash in on the Ouija board IP that Hasbro currently holds trademark over isn’t an inherently and idea. In fact, the Ouija board as a piece of horror iconography is so ingrained in the spirit of the supernatural that, frankly, it’s a no-brainer. And … Continue reading How ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ Taught Me to Never Count a Franchise Out Too Soon

Two-Tone Terror: Horror in Black-and-White

There’s a certain tendency with younger audiences, one which I myself can be guilty of as well from time to time, to naturally skew towards newer films rather than those that came out before they were born. If you give them a choice between a modern release and something from decades ago, especially if it’s in black-and-white, they will almost certainly choose the contemporary option. … Continue reading Two-Tone Terror: Horror in Black-and-White