STEVE PATTEE'S HORROR FAVORITES OF 2015
It's that time of year when everyone does a "Best of" list. That's fine and all, but "Best of" is pretty subjective, even if it's my name in front of it. Don't get me wrong, I love them, and I encouraged our reviewers here on HorrorTalk to do one because I want to see what my friends loved in 2015. Yet I'm choosing to do a list of my favorites instead of what was the best. Some might ask, "But what's the difference?" And I'll tell you. See, Goodnight Mommy is a damn great movie, and one of the best movies of 2015. If I were doing a "Best of" list, that would be on it. But I'm not. I'm doing what were some of my favorite things this year, things that just made me happy for some reason or another. For example, maybe one of the movies below might not be one of the best films of the year, it's something that I enjoyed more for different reasons. That probably doesn't make sense, but maybe it will by the end of all of this.
These are in no order. I've been keeping a running tab on things I've liked throughout the year, and this week I looked over the list, added, removed, and moved around until I just said screw it, I'm just going to drop them and let them rest where they fall. With one exception: the last thing on the list is the thing I enjoyed most (as far as horror) in 2015.
The Silence by Tim Lebbon
I read quite a few books this year, but only two made this list, and Tim Lebbon's The Silence is one of them. Following a family as they try to reach safety from flying creatures that hunt on sound, this is a book that I've thought about off and on since I reviewed it back in August.
If you dig apocalyptic books chock full of tension, drama, monsters and danger, this is a must read.
Digging up the Marrow
I have to be honest, I had mixed feelings on Adam Green's work prior to seeing Digging up the Marrow. Both Hatchet and its sequel are mediocre at best, with the former being substantially overrated (and it unfairly overshadowed the far superior Behind the Mask when they came out in 2006). On the other hand, I completely dug Frozen, and his Youtube show Adam Green's Scary Sleepover episodes are tons of fun. Plus he just seems like a helluva guy, so much so, I almost feel guilty for not liking the Hatchet movies more.
I had heard a lot of good about Digging up the Marrow, so when I was able to snag it at a Go Hastings sale for a mere $3 and change, I plopped it in upon arrival. Boy, I was not disappointed. A pseudo-documentary with Green playing a version of himself, the film follows him on an adventure as he listens to the wild tales of William Dekker (Ray Wise) claiming the discovery of cave (the Marrow) where monsters live.
Digging up the Marrow is funny, scary, and at times brutally sad and well worth a watch. It surprised the hell out of me because while I had some expectation of enjoyment after the reviews I'd read and the recommendations from trusted friends, I did not expect to love it as much as I did.
Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf
Starring Nick Damici (an actor who's been constantly impressive since I first saw him in Mulberry Street), Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf is a werewolf film that does not disappoint. Damici plays Ambrose McKinley, a blind veteran who moves into a retirement community only to find there is some strange shit going on.
The beauty of Late Phases is not just the fact that it's a werewolf film (which are few and far between), but it's one of those gems that concentrates more on the characters than the beast. You really like McKinley and you root from him from the beginning. It also plays at the heart strings in a very believable way. This is more than a simple man vs beast movie.
The second werewolf film on this list, WolfCop is the tonal opposite of Late Phases. Taking the tongue-in-cheek route, the movie follows Lou Garou, an alcoholic police officer, as he deals with the changes he's going through after being bitten by a lycanthrope.
Bloody, hilarious, and at times surprisingly heartwarming, WolfCop lived up to every one of my expectations that I had after first seeing the trailer.
While Late Phases and WolfCop might not be on many other 2015 lists, they made mine not just because they are great films and not just because I'm very partial to werewolf movies, but also because I'm so goddamn tired of lame zombie movies that just won't die (PUN!), and it was nice to see directors finally telling a different story. Here's to hoping the man-beast is the next in line for Hollywood to start pumping out.
The Final Girls
The last movie on this list, and my biggest surprise this year, is The Final Girls. I had a vague interest in it after watching its trailer, but after more than a few friends raved about it, I decided to give it a shot, and I absolutely loved every minute.
Karin summed it up best in her review, so I'm going to straight copy and paste that here:
I'm not going to lie, I expected a big block of cheese when I popped this one into the player, but there are times I love being wrong, and this was one of those times. Not only is the film clever and original, it successfully avoids stereotypical character tropes and does a wonderful job of being funny, bloody and sweet all at once.
Back in the summer I hit up the Scares That Care convention for a weekend of splurging money on movies, collectables, and autographs. At that con was Eclectic Goods selling custom painted shoes that I immediately fell in love with. I love a lot of things, and two of them include Chuck Taylors and horror. This was a match made in heaven.
Click image to enlarge.
I placed my order for the Pennywise kicks and I almost wept when they hit my door. These are absolutely gorgeous and worth every single penny. I plan on getting yet another pair in 2016 because the quality is outstanding. Nicole and Jack, the couple behind Eclectic Goods, hand paint the shoes, so every pair is unique. Go check them out and get yourself a pair.
The Black Tapes Podcast
I was turned on to The Black Tapes Podcast when I read the description of it as "Serial meets The X-Files" and that's about as accurate as it gets.
The site gives it a better description than I can, so here you go:
I'm not a huge fan of radio dramas, but this one hits all the right marks. The acting is a tiny bit questionable at times, but overall it's got a great story and production value to match. Season 2 is starting up soon, so go binge listen to Season 1 so you're ready.
|The Horror Show with Brian Keene | Buttercup of Doom | Three Guys with Beards
I put these three podcasts in one lump because they all fall under the Project iRadio umbrella, but I like each for different reasons.
On The Horror Show with Brian Keene, author Brian Keene and his co-host Dave "Meteornotes" Thomas discuss a variety of topics in the literary horror field (as well as the occasional discussion of politics, games, pop culture, and should corn be in soup). But what makes this podcast stand out is the interviews. The show has had guests such as Jeff Strand, F. Paul Wilson, Tom Monteleone, Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, Mary SanGiovanni, Kellie Owen and many more, and each is worth a listen. And, if you are a Brian Keene fan, there are also episodes that concentrate on individual books and he goes into great detail on them, such as the stories behind them.
Buttercup of Doom is author Kelli Owen's podcast and with the exception of one episode (I believe), she goes solo. Her topics range through rants about social media, gypsy wisdom, stories from her childhood, and advice for authors. She even does readings from her own work time to time.
Authors Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry and James A. Moore are the hosts of Three Guys with Beards, and the trio discuss among other things pop culture, film and books. What's interesting about this podcast is while the three do have guests on the show more often than not, it's not so much an interview, but that person just coming in and hanging out.
Each of these three shows brings something different to the table each week and all are enjoyable and well worth subscribing to. I haven't listened to any other show in Project iRadio yet, but I plan on fixing that in 2016 because the company clearly knows how to pick winners if the podcasts above are any indication.
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
It was incredibly tough to pick any sort of favorite, and originally I had no intention of doing so, but Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts is not just the best book I read in 2015, but also the horror-related thing that has stuck with me the longest. While I read it a couple months ago, it still creeps into my skin about once a week.
Before I finally read it, I was hearing about this book everywhere. Keene and Thomas raved about it on The Horror Show with Brian Keene, Three Guys with Beards talked about how great it was on their show, every friend that I knew who had read it spoke very highly of it. It's weird hearing so much about the same book from so many people.
I finally bought it to see what the hubbub was all about and holy shit did this one get to me. The tale is told from the point of view of young adult Merry, an unreliable narrator, telling the story of her possessed sister when Merry was eight years old. Or was she possessed?
Tremblay does a job that is nothing short of amazing with A Head Full of Ghosts both terrifying the reader and making them question what is real or not without feeling cheated. He gives you all the info you need to come to your own conclusion, and that conclusion can be different for different people. It's one of those rare treats that is not just a terrific read, but one that actually becomes even better the more you talk about it.
So there you go, my favorites for 2015. What were some of your favorites for the year? Let me know in the comments below!
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