Sometimes we just need a mind vacation. A little getaway in our own living rooms. An escape into a visual story with challenges and mind-fuckery. Especially right now. I know I need a break for the 2020 real-life Horror. I’ve put together for your enjoyment, a list of some of my favorite mind-altering films of recent years, in no particular order.
There are many different sub-genres included throughout this list, so many Horror lovers can hopefully find something new, but if you’re looking for strictly Psychological Horror flicks, I’ve got a special list just for you. You’ll find many more than eight Parz-certified recommendations here, and I hope you find something to rock your Horror jollies, even if it’s just for a moment.
We follow a young kidnapped boy age and grow under extraordinary, violent circumstances. This little indie flick packs an unexpected dark and bloodied punch right to the chest. Not only does the premise cause internal conflict and go way more dark than anticipated, but you’ll be thinking about this story long after the final thought-inducing scene. The trailer doesn’t do Chained justice, just watch it.
If you’re into allegory or important messages given via the medium of film, you won’t want to miss this one. The storytelling is slightly unconventional, the acting surprisingly decent, and the passion of the creators is evident. Chained is a perfect example of a damn good horror story with a low budget. Lovers of the French film Raw (2016), or von Trier’s Melancholia (2011) should put this high on their watch list.
*Chained may prove irritating or bothersome to individuals triggered by or sensitive to violence against women, rape, and child abuse.
This film broke me a little. Reality blows, and Swallow takes us on a dread-filled journey alongside a newly married and pregnant, culture-shocked, woman. The story’s sharp and brutal, but it’s a very slow burn, so it’s not for all horror fans. If you’re looking to have your mind blown, encounter a potential change in perspective or life outlook, or are a Body Horror fan, then watch this baby ASAP.
Haley Bennett not only pulls off an extremely difficult role, but does so with such grace that I have to now see everything else this talent has been involved in or will be involved in. The film does deal with women’s experience issues, but this should not by any means stop other groups from consuming this flesh-eating master storytelling experience. If you’re looking to learn something about humans, start here. If you’ve seen this and are looking for something you may like just as much, check out Under the Shadow (2016).
*Swallow may prove irritating or bothersome to individuals triggered by or sensitive to pregnancy related issues or domestic violence.
M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) (2020)
Another little indie flick, but this one in the grain of home video type filming. We follow a mother who’s suspicious of her son’s behaviors and intentions in this freakishly honest tale. The suspense builds to a point the audience both anticipates and underestimates. M.O.M.’s a good creative piece with severe implications revolving around social context.
The audience is broad, story’s easy to get into, and the horrifying implications make for good conversation, making this a good crowd-pleaser for groups or couples night. Fans of Summer of 84 (2018) or The Good Neighbor (2016) may find a new favorite with this one.
*Currently available on Amazon Prime
*M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) may prove irritating or bothersome to individuals triggered by or sensitive to depression/mental illness.
I don’t really do zombie movies lol…but this French Netflix film is one to googly-eye over. If you’re dying for a movie that’ll take you to Hell in a handbasket when you least expect it to, cut this one on. Keep the kids locked in their bedrooms or closets or wherever, as Ravenous is a French film, the gore rivaling the creations of Quentin Tarantino.
Ravenous starts hot and never lets up, giving the audience an unforgettable, realistic, devastating, horrific, and fun (for us Horror FREAKS!), ride. I watched this over a year ago and it’s still never far from my thoughts. If you watch this and need something else similar in action and gravity, try the Netflix Spanish film, The Platform (2019).
Alright, alright, alright. I don’t want to get into any arguments on whether this film is Horror or not because it is. Very clearly, there are horrifying elements throughout the entire film. This is not just a Drama, but it is also a Drama. If this completely turns you off from checking this one out, so be it, but those of you who’re still reading, and you have families of your own who get together for the holidays and have devastating family happenings, don’t miss this.
Krisha follows a woman attempt to rejoin her family after time away due to either basic excommunication, or abandonment. You’ll learn which, if there’s a real difference, in the film. You’ll probably cry, and that’s okay, and the ending should leave you out of air and needing a joint or two. If you like this, try The Death of Dick Long (2019).
Anyone involved in family studies or human behavior should give this one a look, and anyone studying film should also put this on their list. Krisha is brought to us by the same people who gave us Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019), A24.
Nymphomaniac: Volumes I and II (2013)
My Lars. He’s pretty laid back in this creation, but it’s still a masterpiece, nonetheless. Does this man make bad films? If you’ve seen Antichrist (2009), which also stars Willem Dafoe–hold up. If you haven’t seen Antichrist, I’d start there to see if you like von Trier’s style of storytelling. Anyway…
Yes, yes, yes, both volumes of this gorgeous and horrific story make up a runtime of over five hours. I get it. But! All hail Charlotte Gainsbourg! She’s da bomb, once again. Her talent alongside daddy Skarsgard makes for a dynamic, strategic duo, and an interesting relationship on screen. Art fanatics and empath intellectuals may find a home with the work of von Trier, you just gotta watch him alone. Give yourself completely to his will. What experiences he’ll try to give you.
You don’t have to watch both films, the first will stand alone, but the second half is very much worth your time, especially if you like the first half. I want to make sure to note this film is not intended for young viewers, in age or in maturity. If you’re looking for another film with the potential to change your outlook on life, check Nymphomaniac out. If you’ve been there, done that, with von Trier, try the little Shudder movie, Gwen (2019).
Although this is one of his more laid back films, von Trier doesn’t shy from controversial images or topics explored. I’ll be putting together a listy-list for von Trier’s work soon, so stay tuned for that if you’re a fan.
The Lighthouse (2019)
Willem Dafoe (yes…again…) and Robert Pattinson in an eerie black comedy with horrific existential implications? Yes flippin’ (that’s what the kids say, right?) please! The cinematography is well cared for, and Dafoe is on point, as usual. Robert Eggers directed this tale of questionable sanity in isolation. The Lighthouse is a black and white spiral, a static ride to “What the hell did I just watch?”
P.S. Watch The Witch (2015) first, as The Lighthouse is it’s spiritual sequel. If you want your stories told in a straightforward manner and everything tied up nice with a bow at the end, stay away, very far away. If you’re looking to screw with your mind, have intrusive thoughts on the film’s meaning stay longer than anticipated, and find a film you can re-watch for multiple meanings, check this slow-burn allegorical piece out.
The Lighthouse is a little Sci-Fi-ish, but it’s not too wacked out for existentialists. Another in this category to try is a little film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, called Enemy (2013).
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
Loosely based on Greek Mythology, Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Barry Keoghan steer us through a tale bursting with dread. The Killing of a Sacred Deer gives a good psychological kick, as will certainly itch the scratch of those looking for a mind-twisty, screwed up, neck-snap of a film.
Yorgos Lanthimos, the director, has a serious eye for detail and this creation is no exception. Now, I want to be clear about the dialogue. It’s not…normal. Lanthimos is an absurdist, a fine one, at that. But if you can stick with it long enough, you’ll be roped in for the strangle, your psyche for the taking. Did you ever see that little movie called Dogtooth (2009)? If you enjoyed that one, The Killing of a Sacred Deer should be the next thing you watch. After this, check out the Netflix Spanish film, The Occupant (2020).
*The Killing of a Sacred Deer is currently available on Netflix, along with The Lobster (2015), another Lanthimos film.
PARZZ1VAL–How To Connect:
I’m real interested on your thoughts on this list. What would you add or take away? Did you find anything to add to your queue? Argue me in the comments why your list is better!
Crashin’ in Roswell NM: Road Trippin’ with Jennifer Weigel
So on my recent road trip to Miami AZ USA for my menstruation art installation, we decided to detour to Roswell NM en route home. To be honest, this was one of the best decisions of my life, up there with road trippin’ from Arizona to San Francisco along CA-Highway 1, and I will go into the details of why here soon.
Roswell NM USA has totally embraced its alien history of the UFO crash in the late 1940s and subsequent government cover up. The whole town is alien-happy with beautiful hand carved wood totems, murals and statues everywhere celebrating otherworldly denizens of all types, though predominantly the gray aliens of the crash (and their green counterparts). Even the city logo features a flying saucer as the center of the letter “R”. It really is kind of incredible.
One of the biggest draws is the International UFO Museum and Research Center, housed in the wonderful old theater building. This museum details the crash history as well as celebrating aliens in movies and media and examining newer alien sightings and abductions. It is very thorough and includes maquettes, statues, written accounts and an extensive research library, as well as an interesting art collection of various items.
And there are TONS of fun alien themed curiosity shops. I will give a shout out to the newer Invasion Station north on Main Street where there had once been an old car dealership. I love the quirky nature of this particular store as well as their strong desire to promote local artists. Most of their wares are hand-painted in NM and feature designs by prominent local artists including one of the lead muralists in town (I bought a magnet of his). They also feature really alternative kitsch like KISS and Ace Frehley alien bobbleheads, marijuana and anal references, and such. All in all, our own Haunted MTL’s kinda folks…
And the city is a huge tourist draw internationally, so you can meet some amazing and interesting folks from all walks of life who have caught the alien bug or at least want to check out all the hype. As a result of the tourism, the residents seem really laid back and accommodating (kind of like Hawaii but not quite as much) and there is a thriving art scene. And it’s totally my kind of art – weird and a little creepy. Anyway, I feel like I’ve finally found my peeps and am eager to return someday.
American Horror Story Season 12, Delicate
Killer Queens, I wasn’t expecting to be back so soon with American Horror Story info. But yesterday we were blessed with a teaser for the intro of Season 12, which we believe will be titled Delicate.
We are looking at a Summer release for season twelve, but won’t know for sure until June, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Here’s what we know right now.
First, yes Kim Kardashian is starring alongside Emma Roberts in a role that was written specifically for her.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that AHS favorites will also be involved. According to IMBD, Charlie Carver, Rebecca Dayan, Cody Fern, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, and Denis O’Hare will be included this season.
AHS Delicate is different from other seasons in many other ways. It’s the first season to ever be written by just one writer, Halley Feiffer. This isn’t a writer most of us as horror fans will be familiar with. She’s written episodes of shows like Kidding, SMILF, and American Crime Story. The last one can at least be seen as a sister show to AHS.
As far as I have found, Feiffer has never written horror content. She is now the sole writer for an entire season of the most popular horror show in America. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just not what I would have expected. Most AHS writers are staff writers, actors from the show, or at least people I’ve heard of. So as we don’t have any former work to look at, we can only wait to see how she does.
We also know what the source material is for this season. It’s a book called Delicate Condition, by Danielle Valentine. This book will be released in August of this year. Which also seemed strange to me. Normally a book would be, you know, published before it inspires additional work.
Even so, Delicate Condition seems like a fascinating story. According to Goodreads, it’s the story of a woman named Anna. Anna is trying to get pregnant but starts to believe that something dark is working against her. Her doctors don’t believe her. Her husband doesn’t believe her. Is she losing her mind?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t deeply interested in this book. And I have to assume that Feiffer and Murphy already have hands on it, to jump to this sort of decision.
By the way, Valentine at least is not an untested writer. Her first novel, How To Survive Your Murder, also made it right on my TBR pile. With a rating of 3.7 out of 4 on Goodreads, I think we can assume Valentine knows what she’s doing with the written word.
This is all that we know about American Horror Story Delicate so far. What follows are my thoughts and opinions only.
My first thought is that this season is going to be dealing heavily with women’s reproductive rights. This is a topic a lot of us are concerned about right now, as it feels like every day women lose more and more rights to our bodies.
(By the way, if you want to help fight the good fight for body autonomy and get some spooky stories, we have an anthology for that. I have a story in it, as does the horrifyingly talented Jennifer Weigel. All proceeds go to support organizations that help women make their own health decisions.)
American Horror Story has handled important political issues before. Last season, AHS NYC discussed the AIDs epidemic that went largely ignored in the 80s and killed hundreds of young gay men. They did this in the best way possible, in what this critic believes to be the only way fiction should handle heavy topics. They rooted the issue in a good story. A story that was pure fiction, but also true.
However, this season has a lot of red flags. Never before have I seen the guest star be the main focus so early. Never have I seen any franchise bank so much faith in an all but untested writer, basing work on a book that isn’t even published. And frankly, I’ve never been much of a fan of Kim K, or anyone else who’s famous seemingly just for being famous.
I’m not rooting for this season to fail just because I don’t like the guest star. If Kardashian is good at this, I’ll be thrilled. I’ll be the first one singing her praises. But when everything we know so far is added up, I’m a lot more concerned about AHS Delicate than I am excited.
The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!
They say good things come to those who wait, and boy have we been patient. It has been close to a year since our eyes have indulged a full season of ‘The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs’, in fact, the season 4 finale premiered on Shudder July 1st, 2022. Since then, we have been able to satisfy our appetites with festive holiday specials sprinkled throughout the past year. Specials such as ‘Joe Bob’s Halloween Hangout’ guest starring horror’s favorite Mistress of the Dark, Elvira (played by the legendary Cassandra Peterson) and ‘Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together’. Last month was a treat in itself, as we were able to witness Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) marry one lucky couple for the first time on the show with ‘Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine‘ special.
While the current changes in staff at Shudder have left fans questioning whether we will receive a new season of the popular series, I can happily say mutant family, we need not worry. In fact, to our wonderous surprise, Joe Bob Briggs has officially announced via Twitter, season 5 of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ will be premiering April 21st, exclusively on Shudder! One thing that is noteworthy, is unlike previous seasons, it has been reported by 1428Elm that season 5 will be broken up into two parts of five double-feature blood-curdling episodes. Though we have not been provided the official release schedule for the second block of season 5, here is a sneak peek of what we can expect for the first half of the season:
April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama’s Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
Unfortunately, we do not have an official list of the brand-new double feature films for the first half of season 5 but, with amusing episode titles such as these, one can only imagine what grindhouse-classics will be joining ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ already eclectic list of sloshy goodness. For those impatient mutants eagerly waiting for more hilarious Joe Bob rant-filled commentaries, or those newcomers who’ve yet to experience the magic that is ‘The Last Drive-In‘, all previous four seasons, including past holiday specials are currently available to stream now on Shudder.
If you are just as big of fans of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ as we here at HauntedMTL are, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @HauntedMTL and join us April 21st as we tweet along with Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl for the season premier. As is tradition, we will be hosting live watch parties every Friday with each new episode, including fresh holiday specials. The road to season 5 is upon us…let the countdown begin!
April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama's Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
. . . and that's only the beginning.#TheLastDriveIn pic.twitter.com/WfeTx0shNa— Joe Bob Briggs (@therealjoebob) March 16, 2023