Author: Sarah

I Did Not Learn My Movie Challenge Lesson

I Did Not Learn My Movie Challenge Lesson

Having learned nothing from my Halloween Horror Challenge, I have decided to watch as many Hallmark movies as my brain can take over the next two months. Well, I guess I learned my lesson a little bit, since I have enough sense to modify the rules.

Another plus to this Hallmark Shenanigan is that I absolutely love Hallmark movies. They are comforting, predictable, and give me some level of contentment so I don’t think it’ll be a matter of talking myself into watching them. I definitely did have to talk myself into watching the horror movies.

Here’s the setup:

I have Hallmark for the holiday season and I want to see how many Christmas movies I can watch between November 1st and Christmas. I am thinking about going until New Year’s Eve, though. I don’t have a solid goal number, but I do have a sort of target number that would be nice to hit. 60. Which seems like an insane number, now that I’ve typed it out. Maybe I’ll shoot for 45. I guess it doesn’t matter, really.

Hallmark has something like 300 Christmas movies along with a handful of Hanukkah and New Year’s movies. I decided to limit it to movies made in 2020, 2021, and 2022 just to have an arbitrary way to cut down on the movies I have to choose from. There are still 76, by the way.

Here’s the plan:

There isn’t one, really. Just watch movies as often as I can, I guess. That’s not going to be particularly easy, though. My November and December are packed with travel, blogging, getting healthy, work, gatherings, shows, and obviously all the holidays. Plus, since Shane isn’t particularly interested in Hallmark Movies (surprising, eh?), we probably won’t be watching them when we’re hanging out together. Since we enjoy each other, we tend to hang out as much as possible. During October, it was really helpful that he enjoys horror movies and was excited to watch them with me.

Honestly, though, this is just formalizing my already very well documented hobby of Hallmark Christmas movie watching. It’s sort of my seasonal jam.

-S

Getting Healthy…For Real This Time

Getting Healthy…For Real This Time

Last weekend, I decided that I really need to get healthy – I’m closer to 40 than 30 and it’s just going to get harder as time goes on. And my being out of shape is becoming increasingly obvious and annoying. Shane is also getting healthy, but I won’t tell his story here – it doesn’t feel right. I will say that we’ve both spent most of our lives trying to reach other goals – academic, career, mental health, etc. – and it now feels like our health goals are finally at the top of the list.

Medically, my family history is full of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other not great things. Luckily, I haven’t really run into any of these problems, but I can see them in the offing. The last time I had bloodwork done everything was fine, but my insane level of sugar intake is only setting me up for failure on the diabetes front. I’m currently waiting on my latest bloodwork.

I wish I could say I was only doing this for health reasons, but I’ve gained a lot of weight over the years, and I don’t love the way it looks on me. I mean, losing the weight will make me healthier as well, but I really want to comfortably fit in the pants I already own.

So, what’s the plan? I haven’t figured it out completely, but the basics are all the same, aren’t they? Cutting out sugar, less fast food, calorie counting, cardio, weights, cooking at home. It’s so easy to type out and so hard to stick with.

I should post a before picture, but I don’t want to. I’ll take one, just in case I want to post it at the end, but it won’t be seeing the light of day until then, if ever. I’ll probably post pictures and videos on Instagram and Snapchat. I just deleted TikTok because of my complete inability to stop watching after a certain amount of time or I’d post there as well. Anything to keep myself accountable.

The day I started writing this, I got my latest bloodwork results back from my annual checkup. Most of it was fine – as normal – but there were some not normal results regarding kidney function and some other ones that may be due to dehydration. Those didn’t seem to bother the doctor – I say “seem” because the packet of paper I got didn’t have any information on those and I did my own Googling. Okay, Shane did the Googling.

You know what did bother the doctor? My LDL levels. You know, the bad cholesterol one. It’s not insanely high, but high enough for the doctor to say if I don’t get them under control in the next three months, I’ll be going on medication. I’m a huge fan of medication when it’s needed – but if changing my diet a bit and starting to exercise could solve the problem, then I want to try that first. The doctor sent along a sheet of foods – what to choose, what to “go easy” on, and what to avoid – and instructions to “comply with diet and exercise”. No word on how much exercise, but since I do none now, any amount is an improvement.

Well, there it is – the first entry in the Sarah Gets Healthy adventure. It’s going to be a very interesting journey – for me, anyway. Y’all might think it’s incredibly boring. I’m excited to see how everything shakes out.

-S

31 Horror Movies – Part 2

31 Horror Movies – Part 2

I DID IT!!! 31 MOVIES!!!

I didn’t think I would, but I’m glad I did. No lie, it’s because Shane relentlessly bullied me into cramming in a few at the end. I did 4 movies in one day on a Saturday. Twice. The 4 Purge movies and the last 4 I watched.

I want to state that the 1-10 scale is the horror movie scale, not the all movies scale. Those would be radically different.

  1. The Purge (Rented)
    • Loved it. I wish I had watched it back when it first came out, because I think it would have been more impactful in a world that isn’t quite so….the way it currently is. It’s an interesting thought experiment that I truly hope never becomes a real thing.
      • 8 for both of us
  2. The Purge: Anarchy (Rented)
    • I was surprised that the sequel was as good, if not slightly better, than the original movie. I think the Purge series are lucky in that there are millions of stories you could tell around Purge Night.
      • My rating: 8
      • Shane’s rating: 9
  3. The Purge: Election Year (Rented)
    • My favorite of the 4 Purges we watched, I think this being my favorite came down to the characters. Somehow the actors & their characters turned things that I would generally roll my eyes at into things I believed. And I like explosions.
      • 9 for both of us.
  4. The First Purge (Rented)
    • I feel like I was tapped out on Purge movies this day, but I don’t think this is the strongest entry either. Possibly because it’s a prequel and I know what happens in the future. That made the fact that the stakes were if The Purge works or not pointless. It would have been better as a straightforward slash-em-up. Same characters and everything. Still intensely watchable, though.
      • My rating: 7
      • Shane’s rating: 6
  5. Old People (Netflix)
    • This was pretty meh for me, but Shane enjoyed it. It turned into a zombie-adjacent movie and it was really disjointed. It also felt preachy in a way, though I don’t really put it past the old folks, honestly, they were very neglected. I took a point off for two unnecessary vomit scenes, by the way. Nasty.
      • My rating: 3
      • Shane’s rating: 5
  6. We Are Still Here (Amazon)
    • This one is very much an 8 for the type of movie it is – it’s a slow build, and gets quite silly/cheesy towards the end, but I was delighted by it. It helped that the entire vibe of the movie was very retro, which is always on the pro side of things. Larry Fessenden was amazing, which is to be expected.
      • 8 for both of us
  7. Intruders (Amazon)
    • An interesting premise and decent execution – a few of the aspects of the movie felt gimmicky. Having the entire film set in a house was a great idea and the agoraphobia the main character has forces the plot in interesting ways. It wasn’t a groundbreaking movie in any way, but it isn’t one of the movies I regret watching.
      • 6 for both of us
  8. Splinter (Amazon)
    • An excellent example of a creature feature, this has some gore and some bad decisions, so naturally I really liked it. The characters were all great and I enjoyed the way all the relationships evolved. Weird note – Jill Wagner, who is now known for Hallmark Movies, is the main character in this.
      • My rating: 7
      • Shane’s rating: 6
  9. The Descent (Amazon)
    • I’ve avoided this movie for years because I thought it would be terrifying, and it wasn’t. Quite the disappointment, honestly. There were several moments where I wanted to reach into the screen and shake them. Generally not a fan.
      • 4 for both of us
  10. When a Stranger Calls (Amazon)
    • The main character in this one gets a bit of a pass for all her boneheaded choices because she’s in high school, and teenagers are not known for their excellent decision making. It was definitely action packed, though, which was nice. The kids she’s babysitting were excellent at their roles – very good at crying and hiding.
      • My rating: 5
      • Shane didn’t watch this one.
  11. The Tall Man (Amazon)
    • The premise here is super interesting and there were parts that I didn’t expect which was nice. Jodelle Ferland is an excellent addition to the cast, as she is in everything she graces with her presence, and Jessica Biel was so believable. I don’t want to say anything else, because my reactions would be immediate spoilers.
      • My rating: 7
      • Shane’s rating: 6
  12. Flight 7500 (Amazon)
    • This movie is one of the most claustrophic movies I’ve ever seen, because it takes place entirely inside of a plane. It’s also a compilation of all the terrifying possibilities of a plane trip. Except they don’t have a violent passenger, so there’s that, I guess. What I’m saying is that if you already have a phobia of flying, then don’t watch this one.
      • My rating: 6
      • Shane didn’t watch this one.
  13. Hellraiser (2022) (Hulu)
    • I’ve never seen the original Hellraiser (yes, I have missed out on many classic horror movies), but I’m guessing it was better than this one to become such a classic. I only liked and rooted for one character, but there wasn’t anything overly terrible about it, either. It was just slow and something was lacking.
      • My rating: 4
      • Shane’s rating: 6
  14. No Exit (Hulu)
    • So good. The main character is flawed yet super likable, and the rest of the characters are interesting. I keep wanting to say what I thought about certain characters and situations, but they’d all be spoilers. I 100% recommend this one.
      • 8 for both
  15. Crawlers (Hulu)
    • An alien invasion film that seems to be for teens/young adults, watch this one when you want something that doesn’t make you think too hard and is also entertaining. I really enjoyed the narrator, and I felt like the crew didn’t make too many outstandingly bad decisions which is pretty rare for a horror movie.
      • My rating: 5
      • Shane’s rating: 4
  16. V/H/S 2 (Hulu)
    • I didn’t love this, but Shane enjoyed it. It’s made up of 4 short films – about 20 minutes each. One was really good and had a couple of nice jump scares, while the other three ranged from okay to awful. If you’ve never seen it, I just want you to know that the dog dies and it’s not off screen. I may have taken a point off just for that.
      • My rating: 3
      • Shane’s rating: 6
Wondering About the Future

Wondering About the Future

The other day, I started thinking about the future. Not the “where will I be in 5 years” future but the future that comes in 50, 100, 350 years. It’s kind of a fun thought experiment, especially when the entire world is currently crumbling around all of us.

Originally, I started thinking in terms of my written journal – will they be in an archive? Or maybe they’ll be found strung across the continent on dusty tabletops because Russia got a little too frisky and I had to go on an epic cross-country adventure post-apocalypse. Will they be rotting on Earth while I immigrate to a moon colony? Could my niece have them on her shelf and her children read about Great Aunt Sarah’s career woes? Will I digitize them at some point? Ooo, will I print out this blog one day and bind it alongside my journal?

Then I started thinking about other future things. Again, not the practicalities of who’s going to go through my stuff when I die since I have no kids, but what things will be like then. Daily life has been changed so wildly since I graduated college, and that wasn’t a terribly long time ago, so how crazy could it be by the time I get around to kicking the bucket? Beyond?

I doubt I could even come close to guessing right – I bet my great-great-great grandparents could have conceived of any idea that comes close to the fact that I have the world’s most expensive light switch/weather forecast (I’m talking about Alexa), or that have the sum of the world’s knowledge in my hand but use it to watch cat videos. They wouldn’t have even known about cat videos!

I hope they take cats when they colonize other worlds. And dogs. If someone is a lone worker on a far away planet, I think a dog or a cat would be key to mental health.

I just have so many questions about the far, and far-ish, future. Do we ever colonize beyond the moon? Do we ever figure out that Earth would really rather we not poison it? Or do we all die in a horrific nuclear firefight? According to my Googling, Africa & Australia don’t have nuclear weapons, so I hope they survive and that the nuclear clouds avoid them enough that they thrive.

On a happier note, I bet we eventually figure out how to beat cancer at some point. Of all types. I don’t think it’ll be soon, but eventually knowledge will build on itself to the point someone finally puts it all together and wipes cancer off the map. The same goes for most other diseases – there’s no reason to think that we can’t eventually figure out how to correct aberrant biological processes. As long as we keep plagues from completely wiping humans off the map, anyway.

So that’s what I think about when I have time on my hands – the absolute inability to predict the far future, or even the middle future. I’m excited to find out what the world will be like in 20-30 years.

This blog post is a mess – I swear it made so much more sense in my head. Let’s all just accept that my brain has been fried from too many horror movies, okay?

-S

Happy National Black Cat Day!

Happy National Black Cat Day!

I didn’t realize that this was even a thing, but I’m glad it is! Black cats get a raw deal, being thought of as unlucky and a harbinger of ill things. According to this random site, black cats are apparently considered good luck in Scotland, Britain, and Japan, so more of the world needs to get on board with that.

I will admit, it does make a certain, yet unfair, sense. Not only are cats sneaky little things, black cats are even harder to spot and so have a special air of extra sneakiness. They can appear from anywhere in the middle of the night and scare the absolute bejeezus out of a person. I can’t tell you how many times I tripped over our solid black cat in the utter blackness of a late night trip to get a glass of water. It can be quite a spooky experience.

I will admit that Tau was a harbinger of ill quite a few times, but that was because he had the kitty equivalent of severe mental problems, not because he was solid black. When he wasn’t suffering a feline mental break, he was the sweetest cat. He was obsessed with Shane and was very loving towards me as well. We’d never had a cat that we could just pick up and walk around the house with, but he loved it. Not even my little lovebug Klaus enjoys being picked up, and Bear only wants to be held for short periods of time before he lurches to get down. I could carry Tau for as long as my arms would let me.

I’m not sure why black cats are linked to witches and Halloween, but since they are, it makes sense that National Black Cat Day is in October. And honestly, if you’re going to have a magical familiar, you couldn’t do much better than a cat. They’re smart and able to fit through tiny spaces in order to spy on people. Many cats bond with humans, even though the stereotype is that they’re standoffish and not prone to mixing with people.

Black cats (and dogs!) outnumber any other color pet in shelters – because the coat color is more common than most others. I highly recommend a black cat – or a black and white tuxie cat. In my experience, they’re the smartest of the colors. Orange boys all share a single braincell, calicos are too full of sass to think too much, long haired grays are too focused on being beautiful to spare any brain power for deep thought, and so forth. Obviously I’m joking, but everything I just wrote actually does apply to my cats.

Anyway, give your black cats an extra pat today. Give all of your cats an extra pat. Give your dog a pat as well. Hell, give all your pets all the pats.

Also, tell all of your pets that I love them.

-S

Ten Horror Books I Can’t Wait to Read

Ten Horror Books I Can’t Wait to Read

It’s Top Ten Tuesday time again! This week is a freebie, so I picked the horror novels that I can’t wait to read. To be honest, some of these have been on my TBR pile for quite awhile but I’m still excited to read them when I get around to it.

The House Across the Lake – Riley Sager

Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. (from Goodreads)

I love Riley Sager books – they’re always a good time. The House Across the Lake sounds like the most horrible conclusion to the very human inclination to watch the neighbors. It would never normally go to such extremes – but if you’ve never gossiped about the comings and goings of Betty Sue from down the street, I don’t believe you.

Survive the Night – Riley Sager

Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. – from Goodreads

Serial killer road trip anyone? Another Riley Sager to add to the list of books I definitely can’t wait to read. I’m not sure that a serial killer would sign up for a ride share to get out of town, but I’ll reserve judgement.

The Ghost Tree – Christina Henry

When people go missing in the sleepy town of Smith’s Hollow, the only clue to their fate comes when a teenager starts having terrifying visions. – from Goodreads

This sounds like a good paranormal romp – the main character’s father was found without his heart and then a couple of girls go missing a year later. She starts having visions of a monster, and according to a review, there are “witchy powers” involved along with a standard-issue creepy horror child. I’m already a fan.

These Fleeting Shadows – Kate Alice Marshall

Helen Vaughan doesn’t know why she and her mother left their ancestral home at Harrowstone Hall, called Harrow, or why they haven’t spoken to their extended family since. – from Goodreads

I’m a huge fan of “inheritance from estranged family”, atmospheric novels with a dose of haunted house vibes so this one seems like it must be right up my alley. Add the fact that the house has haunted the girl’s dreams for years and I’m hooked.

Just Like Home – Sarah Gailey

In spite of their long estrangement, in spite of the memories — she’s come back to the home of a serial killer. Back to face the love she had for her father and the bodies he buried there. – from Goodreads

Another estranged family, this time a reunion and not an inheritance, with the added quirk of a serial killer dad. She’s come back to see her mom, who’s dying, and to make some kind of peace with the past. A review used all the best words to describe it (eerie, bizarre, claustrophobic) and promised a big twist in the third act.

The Sanatorium – Sarah Pearce

Half hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel. – from Goodreads

I’m almost positive that I’ve put this book on several lists over the years, but have somehow never picked it up. Every time I read the description I’m reminded that I really am interested in it and can’t wait to read it, but then it slips off my radar again. One day, book, one day.

The Room in the Attic – Louise Douglas

A child who does not know her name… Two motherless boys banished to boarding school… Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored… – from Goodreads

Two timelines mix in this one – a tragic story of a little girl staying in an asylum the first bit of the 1900s and then much later when that asylum had been turned into what sounds like a very depressing boarding school. A story full of ghosts, motherless children, and gothic atmosphere. I feel like it shouldn’t be missed.

Hide – Kiersten White

The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything. – from Goodreads

Is there anything much creepier than an abandoned theme park? Is there any scarier game than hide and seek on a large scale? The answer to both is yes, but together, I think they could be an excellent set up for a particularly creepy story. Especially since one of the words used to describe it is “supernatural”.

The Big Dark Sky – Dean Koontz

A group of strangers bound by terrifying synchronicity becomes humankind’s hope of survival in an exhilarating, twist-filled novel by Dean Koontz. – from Goodreads

Dean Koontz is a masterful storyteller. I’ve read so many of his books, it’s a no brainer to read this one as well. It’s a fresh release, only a few months old, and I just found out about it as I was looking up books for this list. Shane is also a huge Dean Koontz fan, so it’s very probable this will end up in our library one way or another.

The Overnight Guest – Heather Gudenkauf

As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. – from Goodreads

Another creepy kid book! I think everyone who dreams of being a writer wants to retreat to an isolated farmhouse/seaside cottage in order to focus on writing, but this book might put you off on doing that – in winter, anyway.

There they are – 10 horror novels I can’t wait to read. I have no doubt that I’m going to enjoy each and every one of them. Luckily, I read horror all year long, so it won’t have to wait for a year to read these.

-S

My Ghost Stories

My Ghost Stories

In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d tell you my own personal ghost stories. I don’t even know if I truly believe in ghosts, and I’m sure all of my stories can be explained in some rational way, but they’ve stuck with me as spooky goings-on in my past.

The Mysterious Radio

I’ll start with the least spooky. The one most easily disproved.

From the age of 6, I grew up in an old house on a lovely little street in a small town. It had been built sometime in early 1900s and was rumored to have been a boarding house for women/war brides during WWII (I think I have that right – but who knows), but otherwise was a single family home.

Late at night, if I happened to wake up, I could hear a radio softly playing in another part of the house. It wasn’t clear, and it wasn’t always music, but sometimes people speaking. When I’d get up to investigate, it would stop and everyone would be asleep.

I can hear you saying “Sarah, that was clearly someone listening to a radio or tv, you gullible dunce.” and I have no argument there. I do know my mom also heard the radio, so it had to have been one of my brothers if it wasn’t a ghost.

The Box Incident

For some reason, I had decided to paint my room bubble gum pink when we moved in (thanks, 6 year old me) and thus it had to be repainted at some point. When the time came, when I was still a pre-teen, I carefully put all of my stuff under the drop cloths in the center of the room. I had a box that my grandfather had made (he was still alive, btw) that I put all my precious tidbits in and I slid that box under my bed under the drop cloth in the middle of the room. And promptly went out to play – I didn’t have to paint because have you met me? I’d have been a disaster.

As I walked around the house to the backyard to climb a tree or slither into the club house that was really just the space in between some bushes, I saw several of my precious tidbits scattered around the side yard. Weird. I gathered them up and took them back inside to put back into the box.

It proceeded to happen several more times. Sometimes showing up crusted in dirt/mud as if they had been outside for a long period of time. I remember putting stuff on top of the box, being fussed at because I kept going in and out of the house/room being painted, and getting increasingly freaked out.

Eventually everything stayed put where I wanted it to be and I resumed my outdoor adventures. But it was super weird.

The Knocking

The first, and only, truly scary unexplainable/ghostly encounter of my early life also occurred in that house. I don’t remember why, but I was sleeping in a different bedroom. It was my oldest brother’s, and I remember I wanted it to be my room, so maybe this was after he had left for college and I had just moved in. I had to have been 12ish when this happened.

I was on the top bunk reading after I was supposed to be asleep. Not an uncommon occurrence. But suddenly there was knocking coming from the wall shared with the kitchen. Someone had to have been leaning over the stove or counters and knocking on the wall, but the sound moved from place to place and some of those places were behind appliances.

Then the knocking started moving to under the floor, on the ceiling, and the outer walls. There was no way someone could have been knocking on those outer walls without a ladder – they would have had to been levitating 10ish feet off the ground. There was also no way someone could move from place to place so quickly, and also be in the attic or the basement so fast.

It was terrifying.

I remember fleeing the room like something was on fire, and for about a month or so I fell asleep in my parents bed and then they’d transfer me to bed afterwards.

Eventually, I got over it and spent several years in that room, until the sunroom became an option and I moved in there. I never heard more than a knock or two at a time again.

Who Opened the Door?

Moving right along to when I was in college and living in a house that had housed a single family for something like 60 years before we bought it, I had a single ghostly encounter. This is the only one that I actually still think about and wonder what happened. The knocking could have been a very vivid dream, the other 2 could be pinned on my brothers, but this one I don’t understand.

I was living with my brother (not the same one whose room I stole) while I went to college and he went to law school. One day I pull up to the house and his truck wasn’t in the driveway. I got out of the car, got my keys out, and go to unlock the door. I glance up, there’s a shadow of a person in the little window in the kitchen door, the door unlocks by itself, the knob turns, and it opens a bit. I push the door open, and there’s no one there. I call out and search the house, and my brother is nowhere to be found. I go outside to see if his truck is on the other side of the house or in the backyard – maybe he’s hiding in the house somewhere, and if I see his truck I’ll know that’s the case. Nothing.

I wasn’t scared, more just confused. I said something like “Thanks for opening the door, my hands were full.” and obviously got no response.

I lived in that house for 5ish years and that’s the only thing that happened beyond easily explained things like the feeling of being watched, small sounds in places there shouldn’t be sounds, etc. The house had a very homey vibe and wasn’t scary in the least, just old.

It was probably Shane…

When we moved into our current apartment, Shane and I were unpacking boxes in the living room when I felt something bounce off my lower back/hip area. My back was to Shane and so I asked what he threw at me, because I couldn’t see anything on the carpet around me. He swore he didn’t throw anything, and it was all in my head. Now, he does sometimes do stuff like that – say he didn’t do something when he did, but he always fesses up. Not this time.

I like to think it was a way of the apartment welcoming us. They’re relatively new, so I don’t think anyone has died in here.

So that’s them – the 5 ghostly encounters I’ve had over my life. That I remember, anyway. On days I do believe in ghosts, I’m not really scared of them. On days I don’t believe in ghosts, I’m also not really scared of them. Only one was truly scary – the knocking – and I always assumed, even as a child, it was a sort of reprimand for reading when I was supposed to be sleeping and not an evil presence. At that point, a few generations of children had grown up there, so it made/makes sense that a mom ghost was not having my late-night shenanigans.

I would love to hear your ghost stories – I think they’re fascinating.

-S

Zombie Movies & TV

Zombie Movies & TV

Since I’m not watching zombie movies for my horror movie-a-thon, and I don’t have time to watch any zombie tv shows right now, I thought I’d make a little list of zombie movies & tv shows that I wholeheartedly recommend.

Movies:

  • Train to Busan
    • When the zombie apocalypse breaks out on the Korean peninsula, the passengers on a train to Busan fight to survive. I don’t know if you can call a movie made in 2016 a classic movie yet, but if it’s not one yet, it will be.
  • #Alive
    • This movie is centered on a man trapped alone in an apartment building during a zombie outbreak and how he deals with it. He’s has very few survival skills and struggles to stay alive as the days pass. It feels like a pretty true to life scenario, if I’m honest. There’s also an American version of this movie called Alone, and it’s also pretty good.
  • Little Monsters
    • A little Aussie horror-comedy, this movie has a huge heart. And Lupita Nyong’o, who unsurprisingly knocks it out of the park. A kindergarten class is on a class trip when zombies show up. The only adults are a loser uncle of one of the children, the teacher, and a washed up, bitter children’s show host. Somehow even the loser uncle’s redemption arc doesn’t feel as played out as expected.
  • The Rezort
    • A fun B-movie, the Rezort is a vacation getaway where people can go on a “zafari” – a zombie safari. Zombies in the wild were wiped out a decade ago and people now want to kill zombies in a safe and controlled way. Too bad it doesn’t stay safe and controlled.
  • 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later
    • I had to include these two classic zombie movies. Based in London, these movies are classics for a reason and I can’t recommend them enough.

TV Shows (that aren’t The Walking Dead):

  • Kingdom
    • I love zombie shows and I love period pieces, so Kingdom is right up my alley. It has such an interesting political dimension to it as well, so if that’s your thing, this is a good option for you. It is in Korean, so there are subtitles.
  • All of Us Are Dead
    • One of my favorite tv shows regardless of zombies, this Korean high school coming of age series is what a lot of American high school shows wish they could be. These kids are are dealing with zombies, but also take time to have angst about crushes and how to deal with traitors without losing their humanity.
  • Black Summer
    • Technically a spin off of Z Nation, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the original. You can tell it takes some inspiration from other American zombie media, but somehow manages to feel fresh. It focuses on a mom trying to get to her daughter while dealing with a zombie apocalypse.
  • Freakish
    • This is my guilty pleasure show. A bunch of high school kids are trapped in a high school not only because there are zombies outside, but there’s also a toxic cloud that caused the zombies. It’s a fun little show that doesn’t make you think too hard.
  • Sweet Home
    • Yet another Korean entry in this list, this one doesn’t technically deal with zombies, it does deal with humans turning into monsters so I’m counting it. The residents of an apartment building are trapped inside while having to deal with this monster outbreak.

Zombies are my favorite type of horror, and there are a million more that I haven’t seen. Horror movies as a whole are hit or miss as far as quality goes, and zombie movies are even more so, but these are the movies & tv shows I would definitely recommend if you want something to watch.

I can’t wait to re-watch some of these once my horror movie project is done!

-S

31 Horror Movies – Part 1

31 Horror Movies – Part 1

I’m not going to make it to 31, y’all. I just don’t have the time I thought I would to watch these movies. Add my new rule that I don’t have to finish a movie if I think it’ll be a 2 or 3, and it’s definitely harder to watch enough movies. But I’m going to see how close I can get, because I really am enjoying it.

Until this month, I would have told you that, zombie movies aside, I’m not a fan of horror movies, but now I know I’m just not a fan of a certain type of horror movie. I don’t like gross out horror, but I do like a good jump scare. Anyway, here’s a list of the 14 I’ve watched at the time of writing this post.

I would just like to warn everyone that there are probably spoilers down below. I won’t go out of my way to spoil anything, but I also won’t be very strict about it either.

  1. Let Us Prey (Amazon Prime)
    • At one point in this movie I said “What the fuck is wrong with this town?” More a thriller than a horror (though I’m assured it’s a horror movie), I really enjoyed it. Also, Liam Cunningham is fantastic.
      • Shane’s rating: 7
      • My rating: 8
  2. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (Amazon Prime)
    • I love found footage films, and this one is definitely that. There were some jump scares, and a few scenes that were clearly inspired by Blair Witch, but overall it was more spooky than scary.
      • Shane’s rating: 6.5
      • My rating: 6
  3. Wolf of Snow Hollow (Amazon Prime)
    • I loved this movie. No notes. I wouldn’t really call it overly scary, but I did jump a few times. Mostly I enjoyed the acting, story, and the fact that Riki Lindhome was the serious & sensible one. Honestly, if this horror movie project is good for nothing else, I’m glad it brought me to this movie.
      • 10 for both of us.
  4. Triangle (Amazon Prime)
    • Triangle is super trippy, and it takes a little bit to figure out what is going on. It’s entertaining, but leaves a lot of questions and the ending isn’t my favorite. However, it has a baby faced Liam Hemsworth the year before his Nicholas Sparks movie, and he looks completely different.
      • Shane’s rating: 5
      • My rating: 4.5
  5. Incantation (Netflix)
    • Another found footage-style horror movie, this Taiwanese supernatural story is really well told, and I was still thinking about it the next morning. The child actor in this is fantastic and so is the main character. I definitely jumped, there were tense moments, and I loved the plot. I wasn’t terrified at any point, so it was a good fit for my “I want to be scared but also able to sleep” attitude.
      • Shane’s rating: 8
      • My rating: 8
  6. The Manor (Netflix)
    • Eh. It wanted to be scarier than it was. From the jump, it doesn’t make sense that the main character, who has a stroke but only limps afterward, would move into a nursing home. There seems to be tight security, but her grandson somehow just bursts in late at night whenever he feels the need. I typed up a whole rant about this movie, but the summary is that I was left disappointed.
      • Shane’s rating: 7
      • My rating: 5
  7. The Wretched (Netflix)
    • Is horror/coming of age a category of movies? Because that’s very much what this is. It was definitely creepy and I enjoyed it, but it was definitely more atmospheric than out and out horror. This is a movie that would have been better served by leaving the monster invisible.
      • Shane’s rating: 6
      • My rating: 5
  8. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) (Netflix)
    • I’ve read a lot of bad reviews comparing it to the original, but since I never saw that one, it doesn’t factor into my “review”. It was gory in the right way – people being chain sawed to death, not tortured grotesquely. It wasn’t a deep story, but at one point Leatherface bursts out of a very-out-of-place pool like a dang dolphin and that was fun. I will say that the 70 year old killer should probably not be that spritely. Shane says it’s too “made for teenagers”.
      • Shane’s rating: 4
      • My rating: 6
  9. Hideout (Amazon)
    • I didn’t like this one. The story had potential, but the acting, writing, & pacing wasn’t great. I don’t really have anything else to say about it.
      • Shane’s rating: 5 (for the story, apparently)
      • My rating: 3
  10. The Deep House (Amazon)
    • I really didn’t like this one, either. It could have been super scary – they’re trapped in an underwater haunted house, but it wasn’t. I’m pretty sure the actors playing the main couple actually hated each other, which was kind of a bummer.
      • Shane didn’t watch this one.
      • My rating: 2
  11. Dark Light (Amazon)
    • I liked this one! Is it groundbreaking? No. Was the monster cool? Yes. There were lots of bad choices, and the more you think about the movie, the more plot holes pop up, but it was a perfectly good horror movie.
      • Shane didn’t watch this one.
      • My rating: 6
  12. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Amazon)
    • I wanted this to be more slasher-y than it was. There were a couple good deaths, and there’s a pretty solid twist, but it wasn’t super slashy. In it’s defense, I had to stop it a couple of times to change out the laundry so the atmosphere was broken a bunch.
      • Shane didn’t watch this one.
      • My rating: 6
  13. Hell House, LLC (Amazon)
    • This has been the biggest surprise of the movies. It was so good, I got spooked out when I watched it in the middle of the day, and I don’t want to know how spooked I’d be if I watched it late at night. No real jump scares, just dread and slowly built eeriness. I loved the documentary-style interviews intercut with footage from the Haunted House. I didn’t love the ending, I wish it had stopped a little sooner and we were left not knowing what happened. But, honestly, love it.
      • Shane didn’t watch this one.
      • My rating: 9 (-1 for the ending)
  14. House of 9 (Amazon)
    • You know when a movie is so good the plot holes don’t matter? You just gloss right over them. This is not that movie. The twist is somehow predictable but also makes no sense. I’m not going to suggest anyone watch it unless they’re trying to watch everything Peter Capaldi is in.
      • Shane literally slept through this – snores and all.
      • My rating: 2
  15. Creep (Netflix)
    • I know this is a much beloved horror movie, but it isn’t for me. Even though it’s found footage, it just doesn’t build the suspense and I don’t buy into the story as much as I was expecting. I didn’t hate it, it’s far better than some of the movies I’ve watched, and I can appreciate the premise, but it’s not a movie I’ll watch again. It’s one of Shane’s favorites, though.
    • Shane’s rating: 7
    • My rating: 4

#TBTBSanta – My Favorite Christmas Activity

I’d like to take a quick break from Halloween to discuss my favorite Christmas activity – #tbtbsanta. It’s by the same lovely lady that brings us Top Ten Tuesday – Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. I’ve taken part a fair few times, and I’m excited for 2022!

Obviously, she explains it best, so I’ll link to her post from last year since this year’s sign-ups start on Halloween. The simplest description is that it’s a Secret Santa swap for people who love books. It used to be hosted by a blog called The Broke and The Bookish (hence the tbtb), but when it shut down in 2018, Jana took over. It’s so much work, I’m incredibly impressed that it keeps happening year after year.

There are tiers of the swap – you can just do Christmas cards, a book and a goodie, a book (or 2) and a couple goodies, or several books and multiple gifts. I think the greatest thing about the swap is that no one is disappointed with their packages. Some people go all out – I once got a package that had an “advent calendar” of little gifts to open throughout the month – and some people are more mellow about it, but everyone gets so much joy out of the swap. A lot of people stay in touch with each other after the swap, as well.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten so much happiness from doing this swap. It’s hard to feel like too much like everything is terrible when I’m picking out gifts for someone. And getting a box of goodies and books is always a happy occasion, no matter what’s going on in my life. Filling out the survey when I’m signing up is so much fun as well. Since you have to provide wish lists to your Secret Santa, searching for the perfect assortment of products and books is late night activity between announcement and sign-up. I think there’s a cap, so get it early if you do want to particpate!

This year, being the year it feels like things are turning around, I’m even more excited than normal to make a swap. I’m excited to pick the perfect stuff for a box. I seriously can’t wait to get started!

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled spooky season content.

-S