13 Horror Movies to Watch and Talk Shit About This Halloween

13 Horror Movies to Watch and Talk Shit About This Halloween

Every October it’s tradition that I attempt to watch one horror movie for every night in the month. And every year, this one included, I make it about halfway down the list. I really tried to do better, but like most people I’m limited to after-work hours and weekends, and it turns out it’s pretty hard to watch a movie every single day. I did my best.

Because I was limited what I could stream on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, find on demand, or purchase using someone else’s itunes account, not every movie I watched had excellent ratings. In my house, we’ve established a general rule is that if the rating on Rotten Tomatoes is over 70%, then the movie is worth watching. If it’s free AND we’ve heard of it, you can’t really ask for much more than that.

Here are the 13 horror movies I watched this month. Some great, some not so great, all fun to talk during.

1. The Babadook, 2014 (Rating 98%) Ok, this one is kind of cheating because technically I watched it in September when James and I were in the Catskills. If you can find one, a log cabin in the woods is the perfect setting to watch this Australian movie about an exhausted single mother and her son who are both struggling emotionally to deal with their shitty lives (and each other) so much that they become haunted by a mysterious children’s book (or is it?) This movie is a nice combo of jump scares, suspense and psychological thrills. The scariest part, though, was after the movie ended, when James woke me up in the middle of the night by saying “Baba…dook…dook…dook” in his sleep. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen to you. The Babadook is currently on Netflix

2. 28 Days Later, 2003 (Rating 87%)I first saw 28 Days Later in ninth grade and proclaimed it “the scariest movie I’d ever seen.” This wasn’t saying much as I was only 14, but it wasn’t saying nothing either as at the time I was  very much horror-obsessed. I’d pretty much been raised on the John Carpenter Halloween films and had seen every installment of the Friday the 13th franchise by the time I was 8 years old. I was even familiar with zombie movies, but they were the slow, dragging Night of the Living Dead variety and not the animalistic, spitting/growling/running faster than humanly possible breed you see in this movie. Watching it now, I’m way more desensitized to the whole zombie thing (thanks, better part of the last decade) so it hardly feels as shocking as it did at the time. But it’s still pretty darn intense. And the whole Cillian Murphy bewitching eyes/luscious lips combo doesn’t hurt either. 28 Days Later is currently on Netflix.

3. Scream, 1996 (Rating 78%)This trilogy is classic as fuck, which is why they make up three of the movies on my list. Again, they were films I hadn’t seen since the days I used to crush Blockbuster VHS. Re-watching them today, I was legitimately confused that something with so many levels of irony could have ever been parodied as much as it was. But what do you expect from the Wayans brothers, I guess? Scream is so meta that of course it’s Wes Craven, although maybe you didn’t know he was the man behind it all (I didn’t either until recently). If you haven’t watched them recently, give them a revisit. At least the first one, if for no other reason than to watch Rose McGowan be perfect, even while being bisected. She should really be on this poster.

4. Scream 2, 1997 (81%)

 A killer is haunting your fav teens again, but this time – they’re in college! AND SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR IS HERE. And a movie called Stab just came out about the murders in the first Scream movie. And maybe that movie is inspiring the current murderer?! What do we do?? I guess we just lol in awe that Portia de Rossi is in this movie and we never knew!

5. Scream 3, 2000 (36%)
This one is shittier than the others, but is still fun and goofy. Plus, my all-time love Parker Posey has a main role as the actress that plays Gale Weathers in the on-screen movie version of the movie. How could I not at least give it a chance? That, and sometimes you just have to watch a movie to remember what the year 2000 looked like. Wow, and we thought we were so advanced.
All three Scream movies are currently on Netflix. 

6. Rob Zombie’s Halloween, 2007 (25%)

Fuck this movie. Obviously since it had terrible reviews anyway I shouldn’t have expected to enjoy it. But I was drinking and Hannah was bleaching Reid’s hair in the kitchen so it’s possible I was affected by the fumes. Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a bastardization of the original that focuses more on grotesque, violent images, and fucked up drama than anything truly scary or even suspenseful. The whole time I was like “I just want everyone in this movie to die,” except during the painfully long, gratuitous rape scene, when I myself wanted to die. I think I watched this on Amazon Prime, but it doesn’t really matter.

7. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare1994 (77%)
If you’ve already seen Scream and the original Nightmare on Elm Street, you know what Wes Craven is about. In the same vein, New Nightmare plays with the blurred lines between reality, fiction, and the world in our dreams. While this movie is hilariously dated and ridiculous, I could see how it may have been somewhat groundbreaking (no pun intended – there’s an earthquake in the film!) in pre-Scream days as a self-referential horror. Heather Langenkamp plays herself, as the actress who starred in the original Nightmare, trying to fight off Freddie Kruger – who’s escaped from the movie world and is haunting her and her son IN REAL LIFE! It’s definitely got some layers to it, and almost enough camp to excuse the melodrama/all the pickled oak in that damn house. New Nightmare is currently on Netflix.

8. It Follows, 2015 (96%)
Widely regarded the best horror movie of the year/in fucking ever, It Follows is the story of a teen who contracts a SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED HAUNTING. It’s a pretty unique story, the actors are great, and it’s beautifully shot. The concept is so thrilling, in fact, that my brother and I stopped the movie halfway through to hypothesize on how the mystery would be solved. Without spoiling anything, the end didn’t exactly meet our expectations. Or the whole third act, really. But plot holes aside, I was legitimately terrified almost the entire time, and very visually stimulated. And that’s pretty much what makes a horror movie great. It Follows is on iTunes, aka you gotta pay. But it’s worth it.

9. The Nightmare, 2015 (71%)This “horror movie” is actually a documentary on night terrors (and the big, faceless monsters that attack you during them). It’s a concept that, even after watching the movie, I don’t really find all that scary. It kinda seemed like most of the people they interviewed were a little out of touch with reality to begin with, some positing that they were observing another dimension in their terrors or being actually visited by aliens – and the director, who suffers from these nightmares himself, validates these concerns. Cue a lot of eye-rolling on my part. One thing I found pretty strange/interesting though is how common these visions are, and how similar they are from person to person. Some of these hallucinations are even thought to have inspired horror movie conventions, like the mysterious scary man in a hat that comes out of the shadows (Freddie Kruger? The Babadook?) or the alien face (you know the one. It’s identical to a 90s temporary tattoo). The Nightmare is available on Netflix

10. Honeymoon, 2014 (70%)

I can’t tell you too much about what this is about without giving anything away. Suffice it to say, two newlyweds go on their honeymoon to a cabin in the woods, and one of them starts acting…real weird. It seems like an intense indie drama until towards the end, when you find yourself yelling “WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK!” I actually really liked this movie, and thought Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) was super captivating and great at being strange as hell. Watch this one, if just for the shock factor. Honeymoon is available on Netflix

11. Oculus, 2013 (73%)

This one is about two siblings seeking revenge on an antique mirror that possess people. The movie begins by unloading the backstory and exposition in a tangled mess, and flips between past and present so much that James and I kept calling it Oculus 2. I get what they were trying to do, and there’s a substantial amount of jump scares with a few solid mindfucks here and there, but they aren’t held together with enough logic for me to call the movie “good.” Still, I recommend watching it because it’s SO fun to make fun of (I mean, what’s up with the main characters’ hair?). Then afterward you can watch a very satisfying youtube video that lists all the things wrong with the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV4MnmOi5KI 

Oculus is available on Netflix

12. Let the Right One In, 2008 (98%)

Finally, something actually worth it’s weight in good reviews. Let the Right One In is a Swedish movie partly about vampires and partly about young love, and somehow manages to handle these both in a non-corny way (can you believe it??) In some ways, it’s more of an indie drama/love story than a “scary” movie, however, it has some pretty badass attack scenes and one spontaneous combustion, so it served up the excitement I craved. Also, it’s just freakin’ gorgeous to look at. Best enjoyed with a bottle of red wine. Let the Right One In is currently on Netflix

13. We Are What We Are, 2013 (85%)

Ugh, gotta love a horror that centers around hyper religious psychos. As a fan of cult stories and talented young actresses, I loved this movie about two sisters trying to escape their family’s…unconventional…tradition of cannibalism. It was tough to watch at times, but I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. And I wasn’t disappointed. Also, Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers are mesmerizing and I want them to be my new best friends. Hooray for human meat! 

~~~

So, tomorrow night after your Halloween party inevitably disappoints, take off your wig, plop down on the couch and queue up one of these spooky movies. Then call me up after so we can make fun of them! 

Happy Halloween!

Kinda funny: This map proves we still don’t know wtf East Williamsburg is

East Williamsburg

I work in admin at a design studio, and from time to time people will share interesting interactives on Slack. Today, someone shared this map that shows neighborhood borders in NYC based on where readers think they are.

Of course, my first idea was to check out the mythical “East Williamsburg.” Just as I thought, the guesses span from my current neighborhood (Greenpoint) all the way to Evergreen Freakin’ Cemetery (so totally not Kansas anymore). The general consensus seems to be that East Williamsburg is somewhere around the Grand L stop, which I would tend to agree with, but for a long time I was very confused.

Those of us who live or have ever considering living off the L train have probably experienced being misled by the overuse of the term “East Williamsburg” to describe a broad range of locations in North Brooklyn, with a clear intent to raise the property value in the eyes of the buyer. Sometimes the apartments were reasonably close to Actual Williamsburg, the veritable real estate Mecca of NY (for now). Other times, they were located in less trendy (read: less gentrified) areas more than a stone’s throw away — God forbid, somewhere only accessible by the JMZ!

My experience with this tactic took place mostly in 2012, my first year in New York and still a somewhat early stage in Bushwick’s now fully developed trendiness. Just a few years ago, Bushwick was considered the lower-rent alternative to the first few stops on the L, and though I was naive, that appeared to be true at the time. You could get a room on the Jefferson stop for around $700 a month and have a reasonable commute to the city, but it was clear there were fewer “hipster” amenities and upscale establishments than its counterpart further west, and certainly many more locals remained.

Depending on who you ask, by 2012 the glory days of Bushwick as an artist community were already over. However, it wasn’t quite considered “coveted” real estate. Which, I assume, is how the term “East Williamsburg” began to magically encompass those less attractive areas and fill real estate broker’s pockets everywhere. That is, unless the buyers decided to look at a map.
Now, of course, you can actually see tourist groups (with a guide and everything!) wandering up and down Wyckoff Ave, and the Jefferson stop is one of the highest in demand of the whole L train. People are happy to tell the truth about where Bushwick ends and begins, because living there is now a point of pride, and thereby a whole lot more sellable. I haven’t lived there in almost 2 years — hopefully the rat population has improved since then.
But no matter how much things have changed, it seems like us North Brooklyners have been so thoroughly duped that we may never know what East Williamsburg actually is. To be honest, as long as I can afford it and it’s not an hour away from work, I don’t really care what my neighborhood is called. Any way you slice it – Greenpoint, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Bushwick – we’re lucky if we fit on the train in the morning.

Things I Would Rather Do Today Than Go to the Gym

yogaburger

I need to go to the gym.

I need to go to the gym because I haven’t since before I hurt my arm, and it’s been healed for over a month. I’ve been losing weight in some areas, which I’ve used to tricked myself into thinking that working out is actually what makes me bigger. This is a lie. I am just losing muscle mass. I know this.

I need to go to the gym because last night I got high and drank ciders and Reid ordered Domino’s at midnight and they have a thing called Bacon Jalapeño Cheesy Bread, which I dipped in ranch and marinara and garlic sauce, and got so full that I fell asleep face down on the couch and missed the end of Housebound, and now I have a stomach ache. 

I need to go to the gym because in the last two years I have become extremely aware of any fat around my jawline and chin, to the extent that accidentally opening my selfie camera can ruin a good chunk of my day.

I need to go to the gym because when I told Alex about the fried chicken burrito I ate the other day he told me that he knows of young people who have died from heart disease. I also read an article the other day in Real Simple magazine (which I shamelessly subscribed to via a $5 Groupon as a way to manifest organization in my life) that drinking increases your risk of breast cancer. I love alcohol, boobs and not having cancer, so I need to keep my body otherwise healthy in order to have peace of mind.

I need to go to the gym because just wearing leggings and putting my hair in a ponytail makes me feel so confident and empowered to be “one of those girls” that I actually feel like a better person.

Here are just some of the things I’d rather do today than go to the gym:

1. Order Chinese food from the mediocre, stingy place by my apartment that only includes one duck sauce per meal

2. See how nice of a day it is outside, feel guilty about staying in, then take a nap

3. Look at pictures of the Paramus Park mall online

4. Clean each cat litter box, wait for one of the cats to poop, and clean it again

5. Get a pickle from Anthony’s Deli. This could take up the whole day

6. Watch my boyfriend watch NFL Red Zone and have one-sided conversations with him about what’s going on.
“Why do they call it Red Zone?”
“Because…………it’s only games that are in the Red Zone.”
“Is that where the stuff happens?”
“…………………Yeah.”

7. Finally watch that recording of Back to the Future 3 that I’ve had on my DVR for 3 months (I can’t actually do this because football)

8. Clean out my fridge. By eating everything.

9. Browse through all my old magazines and decide which ones to recycle

10. Put together my Halloween costume while watching horror movies

11. Read the entire Wikipedia page about the life and work of Wes Craven

12. Listen to EDM, both ironically and unironically

13. Watch fail vids and Ru Paul’s Drag Race on Reid’s couch

14. Potentially order more of that jalapeño bacon cheesy bread, tbh

15. Look at pictures from my past and be like “dag, yo”

16. Go to Vanessa’s Dumplings and order 6 things pretending I’m taking it all home to share with a group even though I’m totally, totally not.

17. Figure out how to get that thin layer of water and soap residue out of my kitchen sink

18. Figure out a budget to afford a cleaning lady

19. Talk about the two nightmares I had last night (One: that I had a pet ferret who turned into a bleeding snake. Two: I was having a party and there was a problem with the music)

20. Clean out my makeup case by trying on every product I own and deciding which things I don’t like anymore. And perhaps discovering a lip gloss I forgot existed!

21. Lint roll the cat hair off of my Pikachu stuffed animal

22. Lay on a couch and describe tattoos I want while Hannah draws pictures of them

23. Make Photoshop art of a cat on a beach wearing a pair of Umbro shorts and drinking a mai tai

24. Do acid?

25. HGTV

26. Paint my nails, presumably with a color I found during my makeup case cleanout sesh

27. Give my toilet bowl a deep scrub (I really like a clean house)

28. Come up with a dance routine and teach it to my friends, film it, put it on Youtube, instant viral video

30. Burrito

31. Send these free postcards I got from the Sierra Club to people I care about

32. Oo! Planning my Christmas card!

33. Try to make a recipe using only the ingredients I have in my cupboard, fuck it up, eat it anyway, and make a huge mess

34. Netflix and Chill

35. Get a tattoo that says Netflix and Chill

36. Call the Chinese food place and find out once and for all why they are so stingy with their sauces

37. Margaritas!

38. Remember that Snapchat exists, then Snapchat every 5 minutes of the day, then forget again

39. Look up how to clean an oven, then definitely not do that.

40. Watch iconic Celine Dion performances on Youtube

41. Livetweet Titanic

42. Do a thorough pass of all my social media profiles to make sure they are perfectly curated

43: Watch this video on loop http://frankenfemme.tumblr.com/post/129033519794/cubik808-willlaren-this-performance-art

44. Make a list of the best fashion montages in movies, then watch them all

45. Call my parents, which I definitely should do right now ugh why do I keep forgetting to do that??

46. Go to the dog park and look at other people’s dogs and think about how sad I am that my apartment is too small to have a dog

47. Look at Kos n Gonny and think about how no cat could ever possibly compete with their beauty and adorableness. Adorability? Kiss them 100 times.

48. Put on some uplifting music and some workout clothes and pretend I am in a pivotal transformation scene but only do dance moves that require very little physical effort, like the cabbage patch.

49. Quote the entire Sex and the City Movie from start to finish

50. This.

A good thing I ate this week: Fried Chicken Burrito

A good thing I ate this week: Fried Chicken Burrito

 Monday night, while waiting at my office for an improv show to start and NOT getting any writing done like I had told myself I would, I decided to use the promo code I’d received in the mail to try Caviar (the service, trycaviar.com)

I had been briefly introduced to the concept of Caviar when trying to order catering for a workshop I organized two weeks ago. It’s essentially the same thing as Doordash and UberEats, whereby a delivery service brings you delicious food from places that wouldn’t otherwise deliver. Since Ubereats still doesn’t deliver below 14th street (so then what is the point, exactly?) I’ve never tried it. Caviar, on the other hand does deliver downtown, so I decided to take advantage. 

I couldn’t decide what I wanted at first, so I searched for “fried chicken.” The usual options came up, things I was familiar with that for some reason didn’t look satisfying. I was hongry. I’m always hungry, but there’s something about being at work after hours that just makes you want to stuff your face like no one is watching. It’s like a free zone, a time warp where anything is possible. It would be a waste not to order something messy, fattening and delicious. Plus, I had salad for lunch.

So I searched for “burrito.” That’s when I discovered something I’d never known existed or it would have been over a looong time ago: the Fried Chicken Burrito from Mission Cantina. 

Mission Cantina has a solid three-star Yelp review. That is to say, almost all of their ratings have been really good, or really bad. Most of the bad reviews I read were just that the food was “weird” and the staff are “hipstery,” so I found them pretty easy to ignore. But I’ve had a string of mediocre takeout incidents recently, causing me to retreat into a sad, scary state where I struggle to silence the voice that says “Don’t order from there! You’ve never had that before! What if it SUCKS??!” 

I hate this feeling. I can’t stand people who always order the same thing out of fear of being disappointed, even if I did know that dissatisfaction all too well. So I took a chance, I put in code for $10 off, paid the extra 7 dollars (including tax & service fee), and waited, watching my delivery man on a GPS tracker as he traveled to my office.

I don’t remember them asking for a tip at checkout, so I assumed it was taken care of by the service fee. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure that I shouldn’t have slipped the delivery guy a few extra bucks. But I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. I was thinking about this:   

Behold, a terrible picture of one of the juiciest, dankest, most filling (in both stomach and arteries) fusion burritos OF MY LIFE. 

So, there you have it. That’s it guys. Maybe since it’s raining this week you can try Caviar yourselves (full disclosure: this post was not sponsored by Caviar but I would not turn down money or food if they offered).

…I was going to write a much longer post this week about embarrassment and getting older and like “truth” in “comedy,” but, meh, I felt much more inclined to talk about a burrito instead. 

Have a great weekend!