Devils and demons are a staple of horror literature, and I adore them in novels, novellas, and short stories. Funny enough, I feel the opposite about demonic possession in films. There are a thousand-and-one possession movies, and all of them use more or less the same plot, same tricks. But the written word is full of possibilities. It doesn’t suffer the restrictions of film and gives us room to examine the idea of demons from varying viewpoints. The loss of control, the loss of one’s self, is so frightening in a horror book.
Lately, I’ve read a lot of novels based around this very idea – possession, the devil, and ancient evil. I enjoyed each title, though no two were alike. Here are some of them – a list I’m calling Half A Dozen Devilish Books.
by: Sara Gran
I decided to buy this book when someone recommended it in the comments of a Facebook thread. The status asked something like: “What was the last book that genuinely scared you?” I read this book in a day, which is a record for me. I’m normally a slow reader. The story moves along quickly, yet you really get a sense of the narrator’s desperation, her loss of self-control, and her fear. What would you do if you thought you were possessed by a demon? Who could you turn to? Who would listen?
A Head Full of Ghosts
by: Paul Tremblay
Was teenager, Marjorie Barrett, a victim of demonic possession, or was she mentally ill? Years later, her sister looks back on their family’s dark past to unravel a tragic mystery. This book was full of suspense and chills. I absolutely loved it.
by: John Langan
Some might question my inclusion of The Fisherman here. It’s not about devils, or demons, or Hell. The Fisherman tells the tale an ancient evil capable of possessing humans, and manipulating them through their grief and sadness. Sounds pretty demonic, right? This is a slow-moving, crawl-under-your-skin-and-stay-there sort of book. I had to include it on the list.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1)
by: Jonathan L. Howard
I’ll admit, this book was not exactly my cup of tea. Not every book is going to become a personal favorite. But I see the value of Johannes Cabal for lovers of supernatural fantasy and dark comedy. It’s a lighthearted adventure through Hell and back, and especially if you love a good series, this might be a better match for you than it was for me. It did make me laugh a bit, and I gave it 3/5 stars on Goodreads. There are several more books to follow this one, including: Johannes Cabal the Detective, Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute, The Brothers Cabal, Johannes Cabal and the Blustery Day: And Other Tales of the Necromancer, and The Fall of The House of Cabal.
by: Tim Miller
I don’t read much extreme horror. And I’m certain that statement is something extreme horror authors hear all the time and get sick of hearing, but hey, as sub-genres go, it’s simply not for everyone. That being said, I picked up a copy of Cassie Kills because I admire the author’s imagination and energy. It was a dark and depraved read, and kept me entertained throughout. I’m told some of the more graphic parts were edited out to meet Amazon’s requirements, but this was graphic enough for me as-is! A sick revenge story and a journey through a world worse than Hell.
by: Stephen King
This is an oldie but a goodie. To be honest, I didn’t read much King in my youth. I didn’t have the patience for his story layers and – let’s face it – the enormous word counts! I’ve been reading him more in my thirties, and so far, this one ranks among my favorites. Store owner, Mr. Gaunt, is everything you could ask for in a Devil. Sly, experienced, charming, mystical, and terrifying. The shop he just opened up in Castle Rock has something for everyone. And I mean everyone. Won’t you step inside?
So there you have it. The six most devilish books I’ve read lately. Feel free to comment with your own devilish suggestions.
Yes! It’s almost that special time of year. The pumpkins have all been picked. The fake webs are in the bushes. The candy is atop the fridge. Now, we settle in for some good old fashioned scary movies and wait for the trick or treaters to come.
Speaking of trick or treaters, the villain in this short film does not take lightly to skipping out on Halloween. Tisk, tisk, tisk. You better celebrate, or risk a run-in with The Jester…
I just finished watching 100 Bloody Acres, and I must say… it’s the perfect mix of horror and comedy. Here’s the breakdown:
Reg and Lindsay run a family business and have all the typical sibling scuffles, but younger brother Reg is constantly eager to win his bro’s approval, despite their rocky relationship. The two run an organic fertilizer business and have a shocking idea about how to obtain some special ingredients for their new fertilizer mix. Seeking flesh and bone to process through their meat grinder at no cost out of pocket, Reg makes his rounds in the Morgans Organic company truck, searching for dead meat. He comes across three (live) friends on their way to a music festival and immediately recognizes the fresh opportunity.
Hitching a ride with Reg due to their broken down vehicle, the trio of friends fall into the clutches of the murderous Morgan brothers and soon find themselves on the path to certain doom, rather than a music festival. But maybe, just maybe, the three of them could escape…. if only one of them wasn’t tripping acid and the other two weren’t fully engulfed in some serious relationship drama!
I found this movie for sale at Family Video and paid a whopping $1.50 for it. I had very little faith in the review on the back given by RogerEbert.com: “The best low-budget horror comedy since Shaun of the Dead!” Yeah right, I thought. But you know what? I really did enjoy the film. So much that I decided to recommend it here on the blog. It didn’t deliver quite as many laughs as Shaun of the Dead, but the back cover also boasts: “A witty, gory blend of Australian humor and horror tropes, the Cairnes Brothers 100 Bloody Acres is a bloody good time,” and with that statement, I fully agree. Great character development, lots of funny moments, tons of suspense. An all-around good movie!
I’ve been busy all summer long and never got a chance to post, but it’s Back To School time for the kiddos, and in honor of that, I’m doing a Back To Scares blogging event!
On today’s agenda: The Dirty Dozen: 12 Most Memorable Black Horror Movie Characters
Horror cinema would benefit from more black characters. We don’t see it enough. The following is my list of the most MEMORABLE black horror movie characters. Not all are lead characters (some had very little screen time but stole the show). This isn’t about Best Acted Roles or even Best Characters. These are the most memorable… because there is just something about the character that makes us connect with them, remember them…
Some of you will argue genre: “Scary Movie is a comedy” and “Seven is a crime thriller.” Look, just sit back and let me entertain you, okay?
There’s an Honorable Mentions section at the bottom. I’ll let you in on a little secret: This is my way of keeping the “Dirty Dozen” theme without actually narrowing it down to 12! So tough! And you know what? There’s actually more in the Honorable Mentions section than on the list! LOL.
So here we go….
Fool – People Under The Stairs
When young Fool (Brandon Adams) breaks into the home of his family’s greedy and uncaring landlords, he discovers a disturbing scenario where incestuous adults have mutilated a number of boys and kept them imprisoned under their stairs.
Peter Washington – Dawn of the Dead
Peter Washington is a member of Philadelphia’s SWAT when the walking dead crisis has reached critical condition. He saves the life of a fellow SWAT member of another squad, and he is offered a ride out of Philly and so joins the party that ends up at the notorious Monroeville Hyper-Mall. And that’s only where the drama begins!
Jeryline – Demon Knight
Demon Knight is a feature-length film presented by the HBO series Tales from the Crypt, and features scenes with the Crypt Keeper, but what really drives the plot forward is the strong and beautiful character Jeryline, played by Jada Pinkett Smith. A must-see, if you haven’t.
Detective Lt. William Somerset – Seven
What more do I need to say? Morgan Freeman is amazing in every role he plays, but the sheer intensity of the plot in Seven kicks his acting up another notch. This is such an engrossing film, and – like I said in my intro – you can argue that Seven is a “crime-thriller” all you want. This movie scared the shit out of me. I say horror!
Lance Shroeder – House on Haunted Hill 1999
A millionaire with theatrical tendencies invites a number of people to stay in a vast creepy building that used to be an insane asylum. Lance Shroeder, played by Taye Diggs, is one of the unfortunate crew to accept this invitation. He’s so darn likeable, guys, you just have to root for him the whole time. Gotta love this character.
Maximillian – Vampire in Brooklyn
Maximillian is the only survivor from a race of vampires on a Caribbean Island, and he must find a mate to keep the bloodline from ending. Horror comedy at its finest. Directed by Wes Craven and starring Eddie Murphy, this is definitely a memorable character.
Sara Tidwell – Bag of Bones
I know a lot of people did not enjoy the film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1998 novel Bag of Bones. It was a two-part miniseries, which appeared on regular TV. Maybe I’m lucky I hadn’t read the book, because I really enjoyed it. Sara Tidwell is a vivacious singer and a lost soul who does not get much screen time, but she stuck in my mind long after the credits rolled. Actress Anika Noni Rose was hauntingly gorgeous in this role.
I love Tony Todd, and you’ll see him twice more in the Honorable Mentions. His portrayal of Candyman is horrifying, with a genuinely creepy voice that invades your mind like the sweetest of poisons. For real. You’ll almost want to call upon the Candyman yourself, though you know it’s a bad idea. There’s something so alluring and so revolting at the same time about this character…. malicious to the core but with such a sad backstory.
Russell Franklin – Deep Blue Sea
On an island research facility, a scientist is harvesting the brain tissue of DNA-altered sharks as a possible cure for Alzheimer’s disease. When the facility’s backers send executive Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) to investigate the experiments, a routine procedure goes awry and sharks start attacking the researchers. As you can imagine, Russell snaps and screams, “Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfuckin’ sharks on this motherfuckin’ island!” Oh wait… nevermind, nevermind. That was a different movie… 🙂
Brenda Meeks – Scary Movie 1, 2, 3, and 4
Brenda Meeks cracks me up. She’s the only character who kept me coming back to the Scary Movie sequels. Watching her fight Samara from The Ring in #3 had me rolling, some of her one-liners in #4 were even funnier, and really… she had me from the start in #1. Brenda Meeks is lively and sweet, and she is anything but “meek” if you light her fuse.
Chris Washington – Get Out
Chris Washington is a young photographer in an interracial relationship, and when it comes time to meet his girlfriend’s family, he is hesitant. He worries that her parents won’t accept him. He’s in love, so he agrees to the trip anyway, and while staying at his girlfriend’s family home, he discovers things are much worse than he feared. The character of Chris played on the heartstrings of audiences worldwide. We really felt for him.
Andre – Dawn of the Dead 2004
From the moment we meet Andre, we understand he has a lot to protect. His girlfriend’s belly is swollen, and he’s nervous to protect the child inside. That’s easier said than done in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies and untrustworthy humans, but he is determined. There’s one scene in particular that is unforgettable.
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.” – William W. Purkey
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
“Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.” – Shel Silverstein
Dancing. It makes us human. Whether we do it in front of others or bust a move in private when we hear our favorite song, most of us have enjoyed a little dancing. But in horror movies, dancing takes on a whole new element. It’s either absurdly out-of-place, insanely cheesy, eerily seductive, or downright creepy.
I offer you my Top Twelve Weirdest and Creepiest Horror Movie Dances. They are all listed here for different reasons… but all of them possess a certain WTF factor. Like seriously…. WTF?
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – Total Spaz Dance
Okay, we all know this wasn’t the final chapter. But hopefully it was the final chapter in Crispin Glover’s dancing efforts. What is happening here?!?!?!
Insidious – Tiptoe Through The Tulips
Hey, even the ghosts of creepy little dead boys like to dance. Don’t hate.
Freddy’s Revenge – Jesse Cleans His Room
Jesse just moved into a new house and his parents are nagging him to get his room straightened up. So he vents his frustration in this awesome and very uncomfortable dance! Hahaha.
Dead & Breakfast – Zombie Line Dance
I don’t even… uhhh…. I don’t even know what to say about this one. I’m so confused. Lol.
Carrie – Spinning
I have to mention the dance from the original Carrie because I refuse to believe I’m the only person in the world who can’t watch this scene without getting queasy. I mean… the spinning. The spinning is too much. *gag*
Sleepwalkers – Getting The Job Done
Sticking with Stephen King, here’s a great scene from Sleepwalkers. Man, oh man, I wish I could have this much fun at work.
Night of the Demons – There’s Something Different About Angela
Is it just me, or does this chick make demonic possession look HAWT?
Evil Dead 2 – Dance of the Headless Lover
Poor Ash. The dead just never seem to stay dead for him.
Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – Groovy Janitor
Sadly, I couldn’t find a high-quality clip of Blake Anderson (from Comedy Central’s Workaholics) dancing his way toward doom in Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. But at least someone out there has uploaded something because, man, it’s so darn funny.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning – Everyone’s A Critic
Hey, Jason, Violet’s dancing wasn’t that bad. It was actually sorta cute. You didn’t have to KILL her!! Sheesh!
Troll 2 – Holly Gets Down
Troll 2 was released in 1990, which meant the 80s were over. But as you can see from this clip, the 80s were still very much alive. And you have to admit, she’s got some pretty good moves.
Return of the Living Dead – Trash’s Strip Tease
Again, I apologize for the quality. It’s hard to find this video, I guess because of the adult content. But I could never leave out the nude graveyard dance from Return of the Living Dead.
So there you have it. My Top Twelve.
Horror is full of strange and wonderful dancing, so feel free to comment with your favorites. Thanks for reading.