Archive for December, 2015

Smucky’s Best Horror Films of 2015

Posted in Best Of, Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2015 by smuckyproductions

The madness that was 2015 has come to a conclusion. Looking back, there is so much to celebrate in horror – a veritable resurgence of this wondrous genre. Now Smucky’s Grave reflects on the favorite horror films that graced the screens this year.

THE HALLOW

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Creature feature, body horror, and possession drama – all in one outrageously fun movie. Born and bred in Ireland, which is full of untapped spook stories, this indie effort shows that monster movies can still be scary. It’s gross and imaginative, but it also has a heart beating at its center.

CREEP

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Found footage is generally the worst. But leave it up to Mark Duplass and the Blumhouse folks to come up with a hilarious, subtle, and ultimately horrific meta-film about loneliness and madness. This quirky piece of terror might be too weird for some folks, but for those who are weird already, it speaks volumes. I wanted to take a shower after the ending.

WE ARE STILL HERE

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Dark Sky Films does it again with a wonderfully creepy homage to Lovecraft and Fulci. The fact that those two names show up together is enough to send horror nerds flailing in excitement. What begins as a spooky haunted house flick soon descends into gore-soaked cosmic horror, all while being legitimately scary. A ball of bloody fun, this one.

CRIMSON PEAK

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It’s too much to hope for that not one, but TWO, films reference Italian directors. Guillermo del Toro’s lush, stunning love letter to Gothic romance is dripping with Bava-esque visuals and intense passion that most of Hollywood has effectively killed. While not exactly horror, this film embodies the Gothic tradition so well, and makes for singularly spooky entertainment.

GOODNIGHT MOMMY

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It’s no accident that this film was Austria’s submission to the Oscars this year. Rarely has a film been able to sustain such unbearable tension, all by withholding information – until the brutal, bone-rattling end. This horrorshow seems like a Gothic chiller set in a cold modernist world, but by the conclusion, it becomes so much more. I still shiver when I think of the images here. Not for the fainthearted.

IT FOLLOWS

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Sure, this film is over-discussed. But there’s a reason for it. In an age when most horror is either a remake or a spoof, this film manages to pay homage to the classics, tear them down, and rebuild them into something new. It’s honestly terrifying, surprisingly beautiful, and uncannily subtle in its presentation of nebulous millennial fears. We have witnessed the birth of a new genre icon here, and a testament to the power of indie cinema. What a way to celebrate cinema.

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There are quite a few films that Smucky’s Grave missed this year, including: “The Final Girls,” “Unfriended,” “Krampus,” “The Visit,” “Bone Tomahawk,” and “The Boy.” Here’s to hoping that 2016 allows for more time to explore these well-hyped films.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, GHOULS!

Smucky’s back in the Grave: Hiatus

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , on December 27, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Greetings, ghouls! We hope your holidays have been spooky and relaxing.

In order to prepare some great content for you creeps, Smucky is going on a week-long hiatus. We’ll hibernate, write, and shoot videos to make sure the new year is suitably terrifying.

Stay tuned for new articles, morbidities and stories in 2016!

Merry Christmas from Smucky: CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Happy yuletide, solstice, Christmas, and any other pagan traditions! Our gift to you is a new MINUTE MORBIDITIES:

Enjoy some spooky family time today, ghouls. And stay tuned for all new episodes in 2016.

Short Story: BEARING GIFTS

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2015 by smuckyproductions

 

In the nights before Christmas, a different kind of gift giving… one kept in shadow.

BEARING GIFTS

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The snow tried to follow her inside, buffeting the dust and gauze of the empty hall, until she forced the door shut. Without the wind and the snow’s glare, the house was utterly desolate. In the early days it had nauseated her to be alone there. She could feel the weight of all the silent rooms, the winding corridors pressing down on her, tempting their secrets. Now she had grown accustomed, though the wind still sounded like a warning as it begged for entry.

Clutching her bundle, she stepped across the wasted floorboards and approached the ballroom doors, which hung ajar in anticipation. Their moaning movement revealed what once had been a grand ballroom. She imagined it, glowing with candles and extravagant fabrics, a rebellion against the blasted land outside. All that remained of that glamour were the web-shrouded chandeliers and the cavernous yawning windows. They still leaked blue light into the room, enough to reveal the silhouette crouched in the center.

She never took more than three steps into the room. It was enough to made the shadow stir, ripple into movement. A sigh whipped around the ceiling; then, the wheezing voice. “You bring dinner.”

So many years and those words still rattled her spine. “Yes, I did.”

She did not look at the shadow anymore. In the beginning she had made the mistake of doing so. The impressions of grey flesh, distended from misery, and the tatters of an unused bridal gown squeezed over the rotten frame, would never leave her mind. It was best to close her eyes and present the bundle blind.

There was shifting, the crackle of old bones, then the bundle was ripped from her arms. She tried not to listen as the bundle stirred, cried, then extinguished with the crunching of teeth. The chewing dragged on for several moments until the swallowing throat belched and groaned in disgusted satisfaction.

“Done,” the voice sobbed. “Done…”

The sobbing was the worst. She could bear the grotesque shape, the chewing; even the preparation, creeping into silent homes and lifting the bundles from their cradles to satisfy her ward. That was all, she knew, necessary. But to hear this creature, who had once twirled beneath the chandelier with ultimate grace and promise, shaking and blubbering in such degeneration… She ran from the room, holding her hands over her ears until she had burst back into the storm.

Outside and concealed, she withdrew the knife from her dress. She had been carrying it for weeks. When the sobbing became too awful she would use it and end the cycle, allow that deformed body to rest. It would be an act of mercy. But the time had not yet come. She could still hear the innocence, the pure beauty, of that cursed child, trapped somewhere in the body of a beast.

New MINUTE MORBIDITIES: UNRESPONSIVE

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Do your friends take this long to respond? Welcome to the club.

Watch the new MINUTE MORBIDITIES, UNRESPONSIVE, here:

SUBSCRIBE for new nasty videos every TUESDAY and FRIDAY!

7 Horror Films to Ruin your Christmas

Posted in Best Of, Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2015 by smuckyproductions

 

It’s the holiday season – as the nights lengthen and the weather turns vicious, we turn to warm fires, bright lights, and wishes of wellbeing. At least, some of us do. For those who like their holidays with a dose of darkness, here is a list of films that capture the wickedness of winter.

  1. BLACK CHRISTMAS

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What other movie scores a murder scene with “O Holy Night”? Oft credited as the first ‘slasher’ film, this one takes place in a sorority house on the brink of winter break – but someone does not intend for the sisters to go home. Featuring a truly creepy villain (BILLY!) and one hell of a creepy ending, “Black Christmas” is great spirited terror. (Stay away from the gory remake – the 1974 version is where it’s at.)

  1. CRIMSON PEAK

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The director himself claims that this is not a horror film, and to a point I agree – but this traditional Gothic yarn is perfect for a cold winter night. The visuals are stunning, the performances are spot-on; and the titular house, embedded in drifts of red snow, is sure to become an icon. Best watched by a fire while the wind howls outside.

  1. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

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Encased in the bitter snows of Sweden, this understated masterpiece is one of the best vampire films ever made. Its exploration of innocence, loneliness, and intimacy are beautiful, but also deeply chilling. This is no Twilight – there is true evil at work here. Gorgeously shot, too, this is ideal for lonely winter viewing.

  1. RAVENOUS

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No winter is complete without a visit from the Wendigo! As discussed in a previous post, this film is brutally original and also true to its source legend. Set in the icy climes of frontier-era California, the story gives us our fair share of viscera, blood, and snowy spirits. Take some pointers for Christmas dinner, too.

  1. DEAD OF NIGHT

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While only one segment of this anthology relates to Christmas, the overall film has an atmosphere of fireside ghost stories gone horribly wrong. What begins as cozy becomes claustrophobic – but I won’t give too much away. No film delivers old-fashioned chills more darkly and stylishly.

  1. THE THING (1982)

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What better setting for a horror film than a snowed-in station in Antartica? Sticking closer to the source story than the original, and taking some cues from “At the Mountains of Madness,” John Carpenter’s classic is paranoid and claustrophobic – also sporting some of the grossest monsters in horror history. You think getting stuck with your relatives at Christmas is bad? Try spending December with the Thing.

  1. THE SHINING

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An obvious choice, but too perfect to ever exclude. Stanley Kubrick adapts Stephen King’s ghost story and turns it into a cosmic nightmare. The snowbound waste of the Overlook is pervaded by a sense of dread that only Blackwood can conjure – a massive force watching over. Part ghost thriller, part domestic drama, but ultimately a surreal assault of the senses, there is no better film for a dark snowy night.

Did we overlook anything particularly chilly? Let us know! And happy dark days, fellow ghouls.

Films That Haunt Me: HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE

Posted in Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2015 by smuckyproductions

A little break from the snow and ice – let’s travel down to Louisiana, for Robert Aldrich’s follow-up to the Grand Guignol classic “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” After the success of that film, Aldrich teamed up with Bette Davis again – this tim excluding Joan Crawford, who dropped out for ‘health reasons’ – to create this classic Southern Gothic nightmare called HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE.

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This film starts, like “Baby Jane,” with a bang: the first thing we see (in shockingly graphic detail for the 60’s) is a man getting decapitated. It’s the climax of a love affair between the man and the young daughter of a plantation giant. But who committed the crime? Forty years later, the daughter has grown into an old woman (Bette Davis), trapped in her decaying plantation mansion by the guilt of what she did or did not do. It is far from over, though – when Charlotte’s long-estranged cousin comes to visit, Charlotte begins to deteriorate into hallucinations, hinting at a sinister plot going on in the shadows.

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It isn’t as original of a plot as “Baby Jane,” but it is made unique by the manner of its telling. This film drips with dark atmosphere that is special to the South – sprawling swamps, drifting moss, and thick shadows. The images that populate this setting are equally bizarre. As Charlotte falls into madness, we see what she does – phantasmal shadows crossing the windows; ghostly balls with faceless dancers; and the spectre of her lover, headless, reaching for her. Is any of it real? The film doesn’t give up its secrets easily. And that’s the fun of it. This type of psychological horror yields the most fascinating imagery and tone, because it is allowed to access the subconscious and all its mysteries.

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For the most part, this film plays like a moody thriller – but there are definite moments of pure horror. The shadow-crossed house and Bette Davis’s wafting, nightgown-clad Charlotte provide the perfect platform on which to launch some legitimate scares. Like “Baby Jane” as well, the film is adept at putting the viewer inside a character’s mind, so every fictional experience becomes utterly visceral. It’s a creeping, dread-filled piece of surreal cinema.

And, at the same time, it manages to speak heartbreakingly to a life lived in the past, drowned in guilt. Bette Davis plays her character so tenderly  – chewing scenery, of course, but with palpable sincerity. There is a beating heart to this chiller, even if that heart gushes blood. Charlotte is a woman whose ideals were shattered by violence – to see where that leads her is truly disturbing. The characters around her, too, all seem to have ulterior motives – speaking to secrets kept and deception maintained in the name of greed. The people in this film are drawn boldly and convincingly, yielding most of the terror from their own actions.

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It may not be the masterpiece that “Baby Jane” is, but this film stands on its own, for its revolutionary surrealism and its mastery of Gothic tone. A story of guilt and the capacity of human evil, it is sure to warp your mind – and in spite of its sunny Southern climes, it will chill you like the winter wind.