THESE ARE A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS…
For today’s post, I asked the three nice folks (and great horror writers) who guest blogged on this thing–Dora Badger, Sam Fleming, and Kristopher Kelly–to send me lists of their favorite horror genre pieces. Ms. Fleming and Ms. Badger were able to bust them out, but poor Kris hasn’t been heard from since he left with those student filmmakers the other day. I do hope they find the ghost of that murdered warlock or whatever he was screaming about before the call cut off. What a scamp!
In any case, let’s get down to HORROR LIST BUSINESS!
Dora Badger’s Directory of Dread
Here’s my list. Some of these aren’t really horror but they’re all pretty damn dark.
10. Willard (1971)
9. In the Mouth of Madness (shut up)
8. Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?
7. The Eye (2002)
6. Cabin in the Woods
5. The Ring (2002)
3. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
1. The Reflecting Skin
10. Skin – Kathe Koja
9. The Scar – China Miéville
8. The Ruins – Scott Smith
7. The Killing Moon – N.K. Jemisin
6. The Church of Dead Girls – Stephen Dobyns
5. Who Fears Death – Nnedi Okorafor
4. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
3. Diary – Chuck Palahniuk
2. The Living Blood – Tananarive Due
1. In the Miso Soup – Ryu Murakami
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Next we have…
Sam Fleming’s Catalog of Creepiness
I’m neuro-atypical, so I don’t find things horrific the way others do. My mirror neurons are warped, and what often does it for me is the underlying concept rather than the story on offer. A lot of what is ostensibly horror leaves me cold.
So here are a few things I find deliciously creepy.
I occasionally have trouble with certain classes of metaphors — notably the ones designed to manipulate people into buying something. I frequently sit staring at the TV, left agog by some advert that seems to be conveying entirely the wrong message.
For instance, a good few years back there was an advert for the latest Nike Air that ended with a pair of the shoes sitting somewhere with a large scorpion crawling out of them. This tells me I will be stung in the foot by a potentially lethally venomous arthropod the first time I put them on. No thanks!
On a similarly disturbing line is an advert for Nicorette that depicts an old lady using a frozen turkey to beat up a giant cigarette with a face, arms and legs. Frankly, if a medication causes me to have hallucinations so realistic I will use a dead bird weighing at least 10lbs to fend them off, in public, then it shouldn’t be approved for use unless within a hospital environment and under close supervision. Yet this is available over the counter and advertised to people in withdrawal from another psychoactive chemical.
Taken at face value, and without recourse to commonly-accepted social norms, adverts include some of the most horrific messages out there.
2. The music video for Danger! High Voltage! by Electric 6
I know, right? But look at it. What explanation is there for that situation? Those two look more like brother and sister than man and wife (as far as I know, Dick Valentine and Tina Kanarek are not related). They live in a house that Gomez Addams would snap up in a heartbeat if it were for sale. There is suspiciously Lovecraftian imagery on the walls, not to mention a portrait of Moby Dick and family portraits inspired by Gorey, and they seem to be indulging in some sort of incestuous fetish kink.
In tweed safari gear. On the back of a moose.
And that moustache. Dear gods, that moustache.
(For the record, I am a serious fan of Dick Valentine. I’ve even met him, and he was lovely.)
3. Dougal and the Blue Cat
British kids of around my age will remember the original Magic Roundabout, which had scripts written by Eric Thompson (father of Emma) to replace the original French language version by Serge Danot. Thompson didn’t read the original French and, despite all appearances to the contrary, it wasn’t a not-so-subtle political commentary about drug policy.
Dougal and the Blue Cat was the movie version of the Magic Roundabout. It was released in 1972, although I wasn’t introduced to its charms until much later (although not so much later that anything other than VHS was available). This isn’t a happy-go-lucky jaunt in Magic Roundabout land. It’s synaesthetic horror – grim, dark and psychedelic. There is a “blue voice” inhabiting the old treacle factory, played by Fenella Fielding (better known as Valeria in “Carry On Screaming”), and a cat called Buxton who becomes a tyrannical dictator, instigating an oppressive regime centred around the colour blue. The phrase “Blue is beautiful, blue is best!” has given more than one person nightmares.
Remember, this is ostensibly a children’s film.
4. 1970s Public Information Broadcasts
I was a 70s child, and in the UK there was a series of these programmes aimed at kids, telling them of the dangers of various hazards in a way that was frankly terrifying. The most famous of these were the Charley films, in which a cat designed by Lewis Carroll on bath salts attempts to convey how stupid his young, lumberjack short-wearing owner is being, despite speaking a language that I can only describe as what would happen if a Siamese tried to learn Welsh from a native Mandarin speaker who had only ever heard Welsh spoken by the dragons on Ivor the Engine.
In case you were wondering, Charley was voiced by the late, great, utterly irreplaceable Kenny Everett (Bloodbath at the House of Death).
I know. How crazy is that?
“Get yourself a Sherman tank! You know it makes sense.”
Needless to say, they didn’t work. Another one known for being particularly dark is Lonely Water, which is pretty damn scary even now. You can find all of them in the National Archives. Scroll down to 1970 and fill your boots.
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Wow! I pity the poor fool who has to follow that. Oh wait. Damn…
Brian Lillie’s Archive of Apprehension
Before I list my favorite horror movies and novels, a few asides: 1) These are in no kind of actual order, except for #1-5 on the movies list. 2) I am WAY more of a short story reader/fan when it comes to horror, which I will articulate better in a later post. A couple of my picks aren’t classified as “Horror” with a capital “Ho”, but I stand by them anyway…
1. Alien (1979)
2. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)
3. Kill List (2011)
4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
5. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
7. May (2002)
8. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
9. Videodrome (1983)
10. 28 Days Later (2002)
11. Pulse (Kairo) (2001)
12. Pontypool (2008)
13. Resolution (2012)
14. Sinister (2012)
15. Let the Right One In (2008)
16. Ringu (1998)
1. The Land of Laughs – Jonathan Carroll
2. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
3. Pet Sematary – Stephen King
4. Song of Kali – Dan Simmons
5. The Cipher – Kathe Koja
6. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
7. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
8. Incarnate – Ramsey Campbell
9. We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
10. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
There you have it. Thanks again to Sam and Dora and Kris for their help with this project. It is greatly appreciated…