Welcome and, yes, we are still under construction.
This stemmed from the ideas of life imitating art imitating life (yes, a deep dive into the Scream franchise will be happening).
This is just the beginning of many ideas coming to life, many movies about to be discussed, and plenty of history and even some conspiracies.
At times, I will feature interviews from fellow creators, from podcast hosts to haunted attraction actors. Be sure to check those out and check out the podcasts tab here to listen to podcast episodes I’ve been featured on.
Be ready for zombies, slashers, serial killers, urban legends, killer clowns, music, just to name a few of the topics that will come up.
First and foremost, in this house we listen to the full seven minute and two second version of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”; not the four minute and thirty second version.
I’m not shy about my love for “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” and it is in my Top 3 of karaoke songs (along with Alice Cooper’s “Poison” and “Tequila” by The Champs). Apparently I’m not the only one because, according to a survey in the UK, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” was the most popular song to sing in the shower.
The single off of Bonnie Tyler’s album Faster Than The Speed Of Night became her highest charting single, reaching No. 1 in several countries. Critics responded positively to the song, noting its “desperately lovelorn” sound coming from the “dreamy” sound of the piano and the “wonderfully gritty” sound of Tyler’s powerful voice.
It seems pretty fitting that the ballad would end up in horror movies because it was at least partially written to be involved in a vampire love story musical. Yes, I’m serious. As songwriter Jim Steinman looked back on his work on the vampire musicalDance Of The Vampire (an adaptation of the 1967 film) he recalled,
“With ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ I was trying to come up with a love song and I remembered I actually wrote that to be a vampire love song. Its original title was ‘Vampires in Love’ because I was working on a musical of `Nosferatu,’ the other great vampire story. If anyone listens to the lyrics, they’re really like vampire lines. It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in dark.”
While none of the movies in this discussion are vampire movies, there’s two slashers and a zombie movie, so still plenty of fun to be had.
The opening scene of 1998’s Urban Legend has been making people check their back seats with the same frequency that 2003’s Final Destination 2 has been making drivers change lanes behind logging trucks. Riding in on the wave of post-Scream slasher movies, the opening scene of Urban Legend rivals Drew Barrymore getting viciously repeatedly stabbed in Scream. Directed by Jamie Blanks and written by Silvio Horta, Urban Legend played the meta card talking about urban legends rather than slashers past.
Driving late at night in the pouring rain, Michelle (Natasha Gregson Wagner) is tired and low on gas. Trying to stay awake, she pops a tape in the car’s cassette player and on comes “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”. After stopping at the desolate gas station, she freaks out when a stuttering Brad Dourif tries frantically to warn her about something but her fight or flight instincts kick in and she flees back to her car. She speeds away as Dourif screams at the taillights, “SOMEONE’S IN THE BACKSEAT!”
The cassette picks back up on the player and “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” continues. In a similar meta-sort-of-fourth-wall-break as Randy(played by Jamie Kennedy) watching Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween and talking to the TV telling her to, “Look behind you. Turn around, Jamie,” Michelle is singing along “Turn around, bright eyes,” as a figure in a puffy winter coat rises from her backseat, wielding an axe and ready to swing.
The tonal jump from The Strangers (2008)to The Strangers: Prey At Night (2018) is such a fun thing and there’s no denying that. My feelings towards the first movie are not very strong but the sequel has become one of my favorite slashers. Directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai. The fact that the killers are going out of their way to make sure there’s 80’s music playing during their kills is such a fun and almost bonkers touch. It’s a fucking vibe and I love that. It’s why I love House Of 1,000 Corpses so much because Baby takes the second to turn on the radio so they’re dancing around to “Brick House” as they’re dismembering Rainn Wilson. The juxtaIf you’ve been with me in the warehouse when I have control of the music, you’ve probably heard this soundtrack because I play it a LOT. I love the score by Andrian Johnston and the choice of 80’s songs.
During one of the kill scenes, “Man In The Mask” (played by Damian Maffei) takes a moment to cycle through radio stations to find a song before he makes a kill, landing on Kim Wilde’s “Cambodia” before stabbing someone in the throat. He doesn’t have to be THAT extra but it adds to the creepy vibe because it’s so odd and really it’s him teasing his prey.
When Luke (Lewis Pullman) tries to elude the killers by the pool, one of the killers flips a switch and the pool is illuminated by neon palm trees and “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” begins playing from the loud speakers. Luke stabs the Pinup masked killer (Lea Enslin) and taunts the Man In The Mask which leads to one of the top fights/chase scenes of the year as the two of them fall into the pool as the music rises and falls as they rise and fall above the water line.
Lastly, we have the movie where I was quite literally rolling with laughter by the end of it- 2014’s Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead (sounds like a damn video game title, doesn’t it?) Directed by Tommy Wirkola and written by Geir Vegar Hoel (who plays Martin) and Stig Frode Henriksen (who plays Glenn), the sequel picks up immediately where the first movie cuts to black and the credits roll and the action and humor just keep coming.
The sequel follows Martin as he now has to fight his infected zombie arm as well as more resurrected Nazi zombies. One of the powers of his newly reanimated arm is the power to reanimate others.
After the grand fight of zombies and our heroes go their separate ways, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” begins to play as Martin drives up the coast. He rolls up to a cemetery and digs up the grave of his dead girlfriend, Hanna (Charlotte Frogner). After a moment of reacclimation, their faces meet and Martin passionately kisses the blackened and rotting face of his girlfriend. Cut to a dramatic hand fling against the fogging window a la Titanic as Bonnie Tyler’s emotionally charged voice booms over them.
According to Wirkola in the director’s commentary, they did film inside of the back of the truck as the necrophilic sex scene was happening and maggots were included. Whether or not those clips will ever see the light of day remains unknown but the grotesque curiosity remains.
I’m not even going to attempt to sugar coat this- the winter season can suck. You have seasonal depression sprinkled on top of regular depression, stresses and anxieties of the holidays, and there’s so many things that need to be done and so many monkey wrenches that can be thrown into things. Perhaps you’re stuck with obligatory family gatherings with people you can’t stand even on the best of days. Maybe the weather turns severe and your house gets buried in snow so it’s better to stay inside. Or, worst case scenario, you’re snowed in with said family that you can’t stand (yes, that movie is on this list).
Whether you’re hiding from people and seeking a couple of hours to yourself or you’re looking for something to watch while waiting for a snowstorm to pass, this winter isolation watchlist is full of solid standards and a few newer additions to this niche subgenre.
Arguably one of the strongest adaptations of a Stephen King novel, 1990’s Misery is full of stress and dread. The story holds a special spot for me because it was one of the first King novels I read in middle school, along with Carrie and Firestarter. James Caan and Kathy Bates argued on set and they brought that to their arguments on screen as writer Paul Sheldon and superfan/sociopath Annie Wilkes. You’re trapped inside that Colorado farmhouse right alongside Paul at the mercy of Annie.
And don’t even get me started on the hobbling scene. *cue the cringes and phantom pains*
30 Days of Night (2007)
You almost couldn’t make up a better setting for a vampire story than Alaska during the polar nights. Writer Steve Niles saw the perfect opportunity and pitched his story30 Days Of Night as a movie for a few years. After hearing repeatedly how, “it sounds like Buffy,” Niles pitched it to comic publisher IDW who were willing to print it if Niles was ok with not even getting paid for it. After the first issue was released, phones were ringing off the hook with calls from movie studios who wanted to adapt 30 Days Of Night. It was finally made in 2007, directed by David Slade and starring Josh Hartnett as town sheriff Eben Oleson.
One way or another, Niles got his story out there so good for him.
The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter’s 1982 film The Thing has been appearing on lists for winter and lists for pandemic watches so, of course, it’ll show up on this list, too. You almost can’t make a list even vaguely about these themes without mentioning this absolute classic.
This adaptation, 1951’s The Thing From Another World, and the 2011 remake were all based on the 1938 novellaWho Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr (as Don A. Stuart). The fully-extended novel version of Campbell’s story wasn’t published until 2019.
Short of getting on a shuttle and going into outer space, Antarctica is about as physically isolated as you can get. Throw a parasitic shapeshifting alien in the mix and you have one of the best science-fiction/horror movies ever created.
Scare Me (2020)
The premise behind Josh Ruben’s Scare Me is so simple and was executed so perfectly. Fred (Ruben) and Fanny (Aya Cash) are both writers retreating to cabins in the Catskills to continue their work and when the power goes out they decide to tell each other scary stories. It’s gathering around the campfire and trying to scare the pants off of your friends but instead they’re adults who drink and do drugs with the pizza delivery guy (Saturday Night Live‘s Chris Redd).
Scare Me almost instantaneously became one of my favorite winter watches so you’ll probably see me praising it more as the season goes on.
Werewolves Within (2021)
Josh Ruben is showing up twice on this list and rightfully so. Has any movie with an Ace Of Base needle drop not been fun? Ruben’s adaptation of the video game of the same name stars Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, and What We Do In The Shadows star Harvey Guillén. It’s often been described as “Clue but with werewolves” and if you haven’t seen it yet I’m here to tell you that that’s an accurate description. The residents of a small Vermont town are trapped during a snowstorm while trying to figure out who the beast is among them with a satisfying werewolf reveal.
The Lodge (2019)
There is something about this damned movie that I cannot put my finger on but after I watched it for the first time I was distinctly more depressed for a few days. Maybe it was the shock you get less than ten minutes into the movie. Maybe it’s Grace’s (Mad Max: Fury Road’s Riley Keough) horrific cult past and her questionable present pulling the audience along with her in the darkness. Either way, whatever it did to me to make me feel that way is what made me love it. It also falls under the category of “holiday horror” if you need another one for that specific list.
And now we’re getting Alicia Silverstone in more horror movies (The Requin and Last Survivors are both due out next year) and that’s totally awesome.
From the catalogue of Hatchet director Adam Green comes 2010’s Frozen. Three skiers on Mount Holliston beg the chairlift operator to let them get in one last run before the slopes close for the weekend ahead of an impending snow storm. After a miscommunication between lift operators, the lift is turned off, leaving the three of them stuck high above the mountain with no way down. Our main trio of actors all have good horror resumes, with Kevin Zegers starring in Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead, Shawn Ashmore starring in The Ruins, and Emma Bell starring in Final Destination 5 and The Walking Dead.
I didn’t expect to feel super sad over a death scene in an Adam Green but that did happen (that has actually happened a couple of times now with his movies but that’s for another list).
Michael Dougherty treated us to a textbook Halloween movie with Trick r’ Treat and then gifted us a textbook Christmas horror movie with Krampus. The cast is stacked with Adam Scott, Toni Collette (who still deserves the Oscar for Hereditary), David Koechner, and the late Conchata Ferrell. It’s festive and frigid. You’ll laugh and you’ll be scared. The creature designs are brilliant, borrowing from ancient folklore and mixing it with modern horror.
And with the aptly named The Naughty Cut special edition just being released do you really need another reason to rewatch this gem?
There was never going to be a “good” time to write this. I kept meaning to at least get a draft going then things kept happening. My dog had a mass on his heart and died…one of my oldest friends called me to tell me that she has cancer….my boyfriend suddenly had to put his dog down because of her health issues…and the odds are that the longer I waited on this that something else would happen and fry my emotions yet again.
This isn’t going to be a delve into Stephen King’s book versus the 1989 adaptation versus the 2019 adaptation. That’s an entire powerpoint presentation that can be saved for another day where popcorn and drinks will be provided.
This is about the core of the story that is Pet Sematary.
King already had a dozen novels under his belt by the time he published Pet Sematary in 1983. Often pulling inspiration from his own life experiences and emotions, Pet Sematary was no exception. In the late 1970s, King and his family moved to a rural area of Maine, complete with a road where semi-trucks roared by at all hours. As to be expected, many pets were killed in accidents and there was, in fact, a pet cemetery built in the woods. he misspelling that King used for the title of his novel was the same misspelling that the children had written on the sign.
Not long after the King family moved in, Stephen had found his daughter’s cat dead on the side of the road. Some time after that, King’s son, who was not even two years old at the time, was out flying a kite and ran towards the road. This event was directly shown in the story when the youngest member of the Creed family, Gage, runs into the road as he chases after his kite and is run over by a truck. While, thankfully, King’s son did not meet the same fate as Gage, he was left to wonder, “What if?” Noting in the introduction to the book that he still wondered, “Suppose I hadn’t caught him? Or suppose he had fallen in the middle of the road instead of on the edge of it?”
Looking at ourselves as a massive audience, not everyone is afraid of clowns or werewolves or a 1958 Plymouth Fury, but everyone can relate to the feeling of losing a person or a pet and thinking to themselves what they would give or what they would do to bring them back or just to see them one last time. It’s part of the arc of the grief process. The stages of grief are defined as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance but the order and extent that people feel these emotions are more loosely defined.
Jud can tell the audience that, “Sometimes dead is better,” but your response to him could be to shout and cry that it’s bullshit. That having that loved one next to you again would be better. That having your pet curled up on the couch by you again would be better. That anything would be better. It’s the feelings of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance all rolled into one daunting spiral.
King himself doesn’t deny the grueling darkness of the book, saying that, “It’s a terrible book—not in terms of the writing, but it just spirals down into darkness. It seems to be saying that nothing works and nothing is worth it, and I don’t really believe that.”
It’s a universal feeling in the worst way possible. It’s a part of life that everyone experiences and, you know what? It fucking sucks. That’s something else we can all agree on, I’m sure. This is where we can find catharsis in the horror genre and that’s really one of the greatest things about it.
“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
If you’re like me, you’ve never played the video game Werewolves Within but I’m confident that those who played the game and those that haven’t will have fun with this adaptation.
Believe the hype.
Directed by Scare Me’s Josh Ruben and written by Mishna Wolff, Werewolves Within features plenty of finger-pointing and incredibly clever writing that keeps you wondering up until the satisfactory final reveal.
Newly re-assigned forest ranger Finn (Sam Richardson) tries to keep the peace and protect a small town from a mysterious beast that hides in plain sight among them.
The grand ensemble cast also features Milana Vayntrub as Cecily, Catherine Curtain as Jeanine Sherman, Wayne Duvall as Sam Parker, Rebecca Henderson as Dr. Ellis, Cheyenne Jackson as Devon, and Harvey Guillén as Joaqium.
If we got Clue cards for each character that would also be rad.
Now, I’m a sucker for a good needle drop. As soon as Finn pointed out that the jukebox had “a lot of 90’s music”, I knew that whatever was coming was gonna be good. The score by Anna Drubich cannot be forgotten because it fits the environment and the points of tension ever so well.
Werewolves Within pairs like wine and cheese with Wolf of Snow Hollow. Hell, get the whole charcuterie board and watch Knives Out or Clue, too.
Content warning: the dog does die (out of frame)
Werewolves Within is now streaming VOD and you can bet your bottom I’ll be buying a physical copy once it gets released.
As Pride month comes to an end and corporations wash out their temporary rainbow social media profile pictures, it’s important to remember that queer and trans people are still here for the other eleven months out of the year. Queer and trans podcasters are still going to be releasing and recording episodes. Queer and trans creators and writers are still going to be making movies and writing essays and articles.
Earlier this month, I wrote a listicle entitled A Dimension of Sight, Sound, Mind, and Gender and Sexual Identity: LGBTQ+ Stories Inside The Twilight Zonewhere I listed off the episodes of Rod Serling’s classic sci-fi series The Twilight Zone that I felt reflected the queer or trans experience in some ways. It wasn’t a super long list but I felt the episodes included fit the criteria I was working with and it was fitting for it being Pride month. Through sharing it on social media, someone commented that it was good but they felt that I was “reaching” at points to make the episodes fit LGBTQ+ stories. Ignoring the fact that I had included links within the list where I could to provide further backing to the reasoning, I also let out a sigh and thought to myself, “You’re a cis straight dude for sure, aren’t ya?” It was a subtle backhand to invalidate the queer and trans experiences of horror and sci-fi fans and really the entire LGBTQ+ community in general.
If you watch a movie or read a book and look at a character or a situation and find yourself as a queer or trans person relating to said character or situation or reading it a certain way then it’s queer or trans now. That’s it. That’s all it takes.
They are your’s.
You’re not “reaching”.
Some horror and sci-fi stories are more explicit about it, citing Brad Michael Elmore’s Bit and Don Mancini’s Chucky movies, while others are less direct but the stories are all around us. Queerness is engraved into the history of the genre. And this is me stopping myself before I write a college-level essay on the history of Frankenstein from Mary Shelley to James Whale. While we’re at it, ALL of the Universal Monster movies are queer or trans somehow.
You think half of the punks in Return Of The Living Dead are pan? Then they are. Do you feel that Sidney Prescott or Laurie Strode could be ace? Then they very well could be. Most any werewolf story already reads as a trans allegory but do you feel that Ginger Fitzgerald was also bisexual? Well, she probably was. All of the werewolves in Trick ‘r Treat were definitely bi or pan or lesbians.
Coming up soon, I’m going to be contributing to two horror essay anthology books, one of which specifically focuses on the connection between horror movies and the trans experience. My initial pitch was turned down because someone else had beaten me to the idea; not because it wasn’t trans enough. Not being queer enough or not being trans enough is not a thing. It is a toxic thing that your brain can tell you when you find yourself comparing yourself to others (hey, I’m guilty of it, too) but it’s not an actual thing. It’s especially easy to get knocked down by people who look at male/female or “straight passing” relationships and instantly shut them down as “not queer enough”.
There’s no bar you need to reach to be a valid queer or trans person or be a part of the community. You don’t need to explain your feelings to those who just shoot you down with ignorance. Just watch some horror movies and absorb the feelings and experiences and watch the blood and guts fly.
I’ll admit I was tardy to The Twilight Zone party but losing my job due to the pandemic led to it becoming one of my most-watched shows during the shutdown. I believe it’s still streaming as I’m typing this but I ended up buying the complete original series on DVD so I’d have it for good then.
The classic science-fiction show ran from 1959-64 over five seasons. It was created and hosted by Army veteran/writer/actor Rod Serling. The Twilight Zone tackled subjects such as racism, beauty standards, and war with a degree of subtlety that ranged from minimal to non-existent.
Before Serling created the classic show, he was working as a freelance script writer for radio plays and television shows and, even though he was a freelancer, he was still facing criticisms from studios about how direct some of his stories were and corporate censors came in to water down his stories. One such story was Noon On Doomsday where a Jewish pawnbroker is lynched in the southern States. During a radio interview, Serling stated that the story was based on the events that lead up to the lynching of Emmett Till and the network censors came down on him and forced the setting of the story to be changed to the New England area and the victim to be an “unknown foreigner”. A couple of years later, Serling wrote another story based on the Till lynching and CBS still made him alter his story and it made it set a century in the past and removed the racial dynamics of the story.
Getting frustrated with censors constantly cutting his stories down and political statements and ethnic identities getting washed out, Serling decided to create his own show. Serling believed that using thematic sci-fi and even some elements of fantasy, the stories would make it past network sponsors and censors, no matter how blunt the story was or not. Serling wrote/co-wrote 92 episodes of The Twilight Zone, many times pulling from his own life experiences, but he entrusted sci-fi writers Richard Matherson and Charles Beaumont frequently to write episodes for the show, as well.
With The Twilight Zone taking the more sci-fi approach, it also leaves the stories and ideas more open to the interpretation of the viewers.
For this discussion/list, we’ll only be looking at episodes from the original run of the show. When it ended in 1964, the Stonewall Riots were still five years away and Harvey Milk was thirteen years away from being the first openly gay elected official in California.
Eye of the Beholder (season 2, episode 6) written by Rod Serling
I caught this episode one morning on tv and it’s the spark behind this list.
The master class in blocking and lighting leading up to the big reveal of the nurses and doctors with faces that resemble pig snouts helped to make this one of the most popular and memorable episodes of the show.
The episode tells the story of Miss Janet Tyler, as she waits to remove the gauze covering her face after her ninth surgery in an attempt to make her look “normal”. Through tears, she pleads with the surgeon that she never wanted to be a picturesque beauty but she just, “wanted people not to scream when they looked at me”.
Gender dysphoria can affect those are trans or nonbinary and body dysmorphia can affect anyone, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community. As open minded as many people in the community may be, there’s still some who hold beauty standards for “cis white gay men” or “passing” trans people.
The backdrop of this episode is very 1984 with the standards of beauty being set by the state and the Leader (“Big Brother”). As the surgeon begins to question what he’s been doing, asking the nurse, “Why shouldn’t people be allowed to be different?” she shushes him and he’s simply reminded of, “treason”.
If the surgery fails Janet, yet again, the surgeon tells her of a place where those who are “different” are sent to be congregated and she defiantly shouts, “Congregated? You mean segregated.” She might as well have had a pink triangle on her hospital gown or been locked inside of a room as part of conversion therapy.
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street (season 1, episode 22) written by Serling and Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up? (season 2, episode 28) written by Serling
I’m pairing these two together because at their core they are very much the same and, thus, very much the same story of the public trans experience. Both are stories of humans vs unseen “monsters” or aliens. Both can be seen when legislation came about that limited bathroom access for trans individuals.
The transgender bathroom access discussion became a national debate when North Carolina prohibited people from using the bathrooms that matched their identity, rather forcing people to use the bathrooms with their assigned sex at birth. What followed was hysteria and violence aimed at people who were trans and nonbinary who may or may not have been using the “correct” bathroom either in schools or other public places.
During Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up? as their eyes circle the diner, trying to decide who might be the alien, one man comments, “we’re all kids in a closet here,” And isn’t it ironic, don’t ya think? Everyone has their turn taking the brunt of the suspicion over these two episodes, being suspicious of the “oddball” ones, the quiet neighbor, or the eccentric old man. People can be suspicious of the woman with the deeper voice and stubble on her chin and it can lead to someone’s death.
At the end of Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up? it’s revealed that there were really two aliens in the diner; not just one. One of the aliens hails from Mars, the other Venus. Looking at solar system symbols, the Venus symbol is the female symbol we see and the Mars symbol is the symbol for males. While it was common for sci-fi stories of the 1950s to talk about “invaders from Mars”, it’s quite the tale of Mars and Venus coming together when people become paranoid about the gender expressions of those around them.
As we hit the climax of The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, Charlie panics and shoots at a figure walking towards them, killing it. Turns out, it was Pete van Horn, the neighbor who went over to the next block to see if the strange happenings were going on over there, too. He pleads his case, ”how was I supposed to know he wasn’t a monster or something?” as he was defending himself. The gay/LGBTQ+ “panic” defense is a way to bolster a defense strategy in assault, manslaughter, or murder cases that, “asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction”.
The defense strategy has been banned in sixteen states, including the District of Columbia, with legislation to ban the bullshit defense having been introduced in ten more states but not passed at the time of this article.
Serling’s closing monologue for The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street is really the blanket monologue for this list. It reads as such,
“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.”
A Piano In The House (season 3, episode 22) written by Earl Hamner Jr.
For the birthday of his young girlfriend, rich and arrogant Fitzgerald buys a player piano. He doesn’t know when he buys it, but the tunes the piano plays reveal peoples’ “true souls”. Once he realizes that people are very “susceptible to the power of music” when it plays, he lets the power of the knowledge go to his head to try and get people to be truthful about feelings that they may have been hiding.
One party guest, Marge, a robust woman, reveals an alternate side to her named Tina who enjoys dancing and that she also finds herself a fair, slender, and lovely snowflake. After the piano stops, and the laughter at Marge’s expense stops, Fitzgerald admits he picked her because she’d be the butt of the joke, a spot that many fat people, LGBTQ+ people, and especially fat LGBTQ+ people have landed in fiction and reality.
The Trade-Ins (season 3, episode 31) written by Serling
Elderly couple John and Marie Holt are in the market to buy fresh, young bodies for themselves in hopes to alleviate the physical pain of aging. The “New Life Corporation” offers them a chance at “rebirth”, for a price, of course. The salesman assures them though that, “instead of the end, it would be the beginning”.
There are many trans people don’t come out until later in life and it could be for a multitude of reasons. Seeing a violent world against the LGBTQ+ community, religious backgrounds, or maybe even fearing that their own children would reject them.
It’s the cost that scares John and Marie the most and the New Life Corporation doesn’t offer credit. The couple only have enough money to pay for one of them to get the transference to the younger body and that’s after they’ve drained their entire savings. John tries to gamble to get the rest of the money so they can both get the transference and can be happy together. In 1972, John Wojtowicz attempted to rob a Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn, NY, to get money for his lover Liz Eden, to pay for gender affirming surgery. The story later inspired the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon with Al Pacino starring as Wojtowicz.
The Masks (season 5, episode 25) written by Serling
Just looking at the title of the episode, you can probably tell where this one is heading. An elderly man, Jason Foster, is on his deathbed. He arranges for his children and grandchildren to gather for a party for the reading of his will where he has arranged masks for all of them to wear. The rules are that, “one tries to select a mask that is the antithesis of what the wearer is,” and that they have to keep the mask on until the clock strikes midnight. The one who wins will win his entire estate.
The traits on trial in this episode are greed, disrespect, bravery, cowardice, selflessness, vanity, civility, and, ultimately, life and death. In the most negative way, the masks that members of the LGBTQ+ wear are those of dishonesty. We’re back into corners and have to wear masks to protect ourselves. Masks that say we’re heterosexual or masks that line up with the sex we were assigned at birth with strictly masculine or feminine traits and nothing else. The masks that the LGBTQ+ wear are masks to protect us as much as possible from the violence and cruelty that can be targeted at us.
At the end of this episode, none of the kids win and their faces become permanently grotesquely distorted, mirroring the look of the masks that they were wearing, damning them, “they now wear the faces of all that was inside them.” For those who are in the LGBTQ+ community, taking the mask off has the opposite effect where it can be a weight off of your shoulders and leads to expressions of beauty and happiness.
I used to work at a movie theater. Specifically, I was a keyholder on the housekeeping crew- that was the better way of saying I was janitor.
There were days when I truly did despise my job. It was thankless and began before dawn, but I didn’t have to deal with customers, I got free movie passes, and I could listen to my headphones while I worked. Depending on where I was working and what my mood was, I’d rotate between music, podcasts, and audiobooks. Searching for podcasts on serial killers then falling down the rabbit hole was how I found The Last Podcast On The Left, FriGay the 13th,Good Mourning, Nancy, and more.
Yes, I did also take advantage of using the movie passes and getting my hands on some of those movie posters. I saw the showing of Saw for its 10th anniversary, I saw Furious 7 and IT Chapter 1 multiple times, Green Inferno, Annabelle: Creation, Ready Or Not, Hell Fest, and numerous Flashback Cinemas from Jaws to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Early in 2020, I was getting eager for the next Leigh Whannell movie- his modern take on The Invisible Man. I found the audiobook for H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man and listened to it at work leading up to the February 28th release date. Yes, I knew going into it that Whannell wasn’t doing a direct take on the Wells’ novel but it felt like a classic horror novel that was still in my blindspot.
At the end of February 2020, after I had been working there for over six years, I learned that the movie theater company I worked for had filed for bankruptcy while I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that a local news station had posted an article about it. Great way to find out, right? We moved to skeleton crews and bare-minimum usage of supplies for the next couple weeks to make it work, figuring it would be only temporary.
Figuring I would also still take advantage of my employee pass while we still had them, I saw The Invisible Man opening week. I sat down with my pop, bucket of popcorn, and bag of M&Ms waiting for the movie to state. Once the movie started, all of my snacks remained untouched. I was sucked in. I’ve never had the sound of a dog bowl rattling make me jump so much. And, of course, that restaurant scene. I was worried there would be a “blink and you’ll miss him” moment but that was just part of Whannell’s directing brilliance with this story. It was beautifully done, accentuated by the score by Benjamin Wallfisch, and it rocked me to the core.
Backtracking just a bit, by time this was all happening, THIS website had already gone up. I was finding myself wanting to do something within the horror community in the way of expositions and commentary or whatever. This originally started as a podcast, still called Another One For The Fire, with a friend and we did get a couple of the episodes on Romero’s zombie movies recorded. Schedules and life happened and it fell through, no hard feelings whatsoever and hi again, Becca!
But I still had that research and an extensive list of topic ideas. I was stuck in that cycle of going to submit a pitch for a website and when they got to the part asking for links to previous published works, I didn’t really have any because no place had ever responded to a pitch. It was the cycle of applying for jobs and they wanted you to have previous experience but you won’t have experience unless someone will hire you. I wanted something to be more presentable than just having a Tumblr page so I wandered around some more and found WordPress, bought what was probably the cheapest domain and layouts I could, and made the rest up as I went. There was a lot of, “Oh, what does this button do?” while I was setting things up and, shit, there still is.
Back to the end February of 2020- Michigan’s Governor Big Gretch had begun making preparations for covid potentially hitting the state.
On March 3rd, I saw The Invisible Man. On March 10th, Michigan confirmed its first cases of covid. On March 16th, Michigan ordered all indoor dining, gyms, bars, coffee shops, and banned indoor gatherings of 50 or more people. I was working that morning when we saw the news come in that all restaurants were closing by that afternoon and knew that we’d be next. Closing movie theaters seemed logical to bunch in with that group. We closed not long after.
I was nervous and uncertain, as I’m sure we all were. I took the next few days to sleep in and not have my alarm set at 3:30AM and maybe catch up on some movies I wanted to watch and writing I wanted to do. I got a call from my manager a few days later that our theater closing for covid wasn’t temporary and that our building was done for good. I went online that night to apply for unemployment.
If only I knew then what I know now.
If only we knew then what we know now.
It was usually a fun way to get to know people by talking about what was your first concert or what was the first movie that you saw in a theater. That quickly shifted at the start of the pandemic to asking who was the last band you saw before lockdown or what was the last movie you saw in a theater. Now, we have the dare-say hopeful questions of what band do you want to see once it’s safe and what movie do you want to go see in a theater once they’re open.
To answer for the last band I saw before lockdown- Ice Nine Kills with Awake At Last, Light The Torch, and Fit For A King outside of Pittsburgh in November 2020. The last movie- The Invisible Man.
I had been wanting to write more on Whannell’s The Invisible Man since I walked out of that theater and I even did here but I was wanting to write something that felt more personal.
So here we are.
2021 rolled around and the quarantine anniversary is coming up for us in the States.
I have listened to that audiobook of Wells’ novel several times since. I now own multiple copies of James Whale’s The Invisible Man. I was stoked when I saw that the latest issue of Horrorhound was going to have a retrospective on the Universal classic. I read through the article by Jon Kitley and was able to spot a handful of Invisible Man figures that I now own being shown alongside posters throughout the years.
The Invisible Man won’t be able to overtake Frankenstein as my favorite Universal Monster, and that’s a conversation for a different day, but the stories have taken shape as some of my favorites and the comforting familiarity that so many of us have found in various TV shows and movies throughout the lockdowns.
I’m one to hold onto movie ticket stubs, as I’m sure a lot of you are. Once I’d sit down in the theater I’d put my part of the ticket stub inside of my bi-fold wallet. I would also have the bad habit of not cleaning out my wallet often enough so by the time I would, there would be four or five ticket stubs in there. Looking in there now, the stub for The Invisible Man is still in there. Surprisingly, the ink hasn’t really worn off of it, as so many other ticket stubs have. It’s also not going to leave my wallet anytime soon.
One their 2015 album, Tales From Wyoming, pop-punkers Teenage Bottlerocket gave nods to the Vincent Price classic House On Haunted Hill, as well as a reference to the 1999 remake (“Almost twenty years ago, went someplace you shouldn’t go. In a house up on a hill, on a dare and for a thrill), to the Ghostbusters’ character Peter Venkman (played by Bill Murray), and subtle nods to Scooby Doo and The Amityville Horror.
“We Put The Fun in Funeral” Motionless In White
“Frankenstein is about to wreck the gate.
A bat is about to eat his tea.
The fires scratching down in the movie soon.
Has Dracula spiked the punch with blood?”
Motionless In White’s debut EP The Whorror was released back on July 3, 2007, and it brought spooky sounds to the middle of the summer. All of the songs were written by lead vocalist Chris Motionless and “We Put The Fun In Funeral” is the 2000s metalcore version of “The Monster Mash”.
“Broadcasting From Beyond the Grave: Death Inc.” Motionless In White
“Can you hear the bell toll, little scarecrow?
Radio, burnin’ like a star in a black hole
Did you get the memo?
Pretty typo Romeo
Cutting you up like a Van Gogh”
Motionless In White’s 2019 album Disguise kept with their passionate and aggressive lyrical content with a more notable nu-metal sound. “Broadcasting From Beyond the Grave: Death Inc.” throws in almost every name minus the kitchen sink as part of a ghoulish radio show and samples a clip of Claude Rains in the 1933 Universal classic The Invisible Man, “I’ll show you who I am and WHAT I am.”
“Monster Mash” Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett
“The zombies were having fun,
the party had just begun
The guests included Wolfman, Dracula, and his son
The scene was rockin’,
all were digging the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds”
I mean, this one should go without saying.
The “novelty song” was released in 1962 by Bobby “Boris” Pickett first on a single then on the album The Original Monster Mash. The song reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1962 and even hit #9 on the US Billboard Hot R&B Sides. Believe it or not, the song was banned from airplay by the BBC in the U.K. for being “too morbid” but it was later released and even charted in 1973.
The song has been covered numerous times, notably it was performed live by The Beach Boys, Vincent Price in 1977, a version performed by The Big O plays over the credits in Return of the Living Dead Part II, the Alvin & the Chipmunks as part of their 1994 Halloween special, and The Misfits as part of their Project 1950 cover album.
“Dead Stars Drive-In” Stellar Corpses
“Bela Lugosi felt no pain.
Dracula has poisoned the blood in his veins.
Vampira never got what she deserved.
Hollywood has turned its back on her.
It’s not about who you are
It’s who you know.”
The title track from their 2012 release, Stellar Corpses’ “Dead Star Drive-In” is an ode to the stars of Hollywood’s past that are either remembered fondly or, sadly, ignored in some cases. Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley are names that commonly come up but we can’t forget about our horror actors Bela Lugosi and Maila Nurmi, better known by her character name Vampira. Hunter Burgan of the Bay Area band AFI lends his voice as part of backing vocals on the song.
“She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man” Screaming Lord Sutch
“When it come to the scene
where the monster should die
My baby broke down and she started to cry
Said ‘this monster I love’
in a strange kinda whisper
‘He’s my kinda guy cuz I’m Dracula’s sister!’ ”
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was the first “shock rocker” in the 1950s. Following him in the 1960s in the U.K. was Screaming Lord Sutch, who was known for dressing as Jack the Ripper and starting shows by emerging from a coffin on stage that was surrounded by daggers and bones. “She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man” appears on their self-titled album Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages after it was released as a single in July 1964.
“A word of warning from beyond the grave that must be understood
Throat’s get slit in this neck of the woods
She raised him rise
And he’ll come out to play
When mother whispers, ‘Thank God it’s Friday’.”
Theatrical metalcore band Ice Nine Kills released the second single from their album The Silver Scream, “Thank God It’s Friday”, on July 13, 2018, one month after the character Jason Voorhees’ birthday (June 13th). The song also got one of their epic 9 minute music videos. As part of the Final Cut deluxe edition for the album, Ice Nine Kills recorded an acoustic version of the song with “first Jason” himself, Ari Lehman, who plays young Jason Voorhees emerging from the lake at the end of Friday the 13th and sings in a band called First Jason.
For Mother’s Day 2020, the band socially distanced recorded “Jason’s Mom”, a parody of the Fountains of Wayne song “Stacy’s Mom” (RIP Adam Schlesinger) , and released a series of shirts and even baby onesies for the song. “Jason’s Mom” also features a shout out to other Mama’s Boy/Psychotic Mother duo, Norman and Norma Bates.
“He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” Alice Cooper
“But he’s back
He’s the man behind the mask
And he’s out of control
The man behind the mask.”
Shock rocker Alice Cooper recorded “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” for his ninth album, Constrictor, and for Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, both released in 1986. Cooper’s songs “Teenage Frankenstein” and “Hard Rock Summer” also were featured in Jason Lives. Most recently, “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” is played during the credits of Friday the 13th: The Game.
Horror punks Labadie House covered the song for Horrorhound Presents: It’s Only A Movie and it’s been covered live by Finnish metal band Lordi and Warmen, featuring the lead singer of Children of Bodom, Alexi Laiho.
“Friday The 13” The Misfits
“Flashbacks in nightmare
Revenge his mother swears
Through a faceless hockey mask
The demons eyes they stare”
Friday the 13th is the sixth EP in the extensive catalog of The Misfits. Released in 2016, it features Jerry Only on bass and lead vocals, Jerry Other on guitar, and Eric “Chupacabra” Arce on drums. The cover art features the band’s infamous crimson ghost logo painted up like one of Jason’s masks, in particular the one from Part III.
“Camp Crystal Lake” Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space
“Like a cold machine
He marches on
He’s on the hunt for everyone
Who disturbs this peaceful place?
While partying or having sex”
Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space formed in 2002 in Vienna, Austria. To date, they have released nine albums, including an acoustic live album, a Christmas album, and a greatest hits compilation. Their 2014 release Toxic Terror Trax features this song about the behemoth killer stalking Camp Crystal Lake.
“Welcome to Camp Nightmare” Dr Acula
“Run for your life my friend.
Obvious this is wrong on all ends.
It’s getting worse
they’ve been dispersed.
It’s a nightmare.
This is not my idea of a getaway”.
Opens with a sound clip from the Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives where Lizabeth exclaims, “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly!”
The band Dr. Acula have a distinct party/deathcore/slam sound and sing about horror movies and Goosebumps books. The band broke up in 2012. However, the latest news on the band is from 2019, when the band’s original lineup performed a reunion show at the Amityville Music Hall in Long Island, NY and released a new single entitled “Egg Monsters From Mars”.
the discography of The Jasons
The description of The Jasons from their Facebook page reads, “four mongoloid brothers pissing people off with their immature antics and playing pure Red-Blooded American Punk Rock from Crystal Lake!”
The band consists of four members, all wearing a different era of Jason mask. They write songs with titles pertaining to moments throughout the entire Friday the 13th franchise such as “Crazy Ralph (Shut Your Mouth)”, “You Should Have Never Reopened That Camp”, “We’re Going To Manhattan”, “Don’t Send Me To Outer Space”, and even wrote a ballad to another camp killer, Angela Baker of Sleepaway Camp in the song “Camp Arawak”.
In 2016, The Jasons released their song “I Wanna Be An Asshole” as a response to the band The Mezingers releasing a music video in 2014 for their song “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore”, featuring Jason Voorhees feeling remorse for chasing teens at camp and he tries to turn his life around, be more positive, get a job, and even get a date.
Not shy about their influences from the Misfits and Ramones, their 2018 release Get Sued was made up entirely of the band performing “mash-ups” of the aforementioned bands (and it almost works too well). Their most recent release is the 2019 album, Blood in the Streets.