Connect with us

Published

on

Popular Docu-Series: A Horror Perspective

Unless you’re a tiger, you probably don’t consider Netflix‘s Tiger King a Horror story. Purely based on a scene near the end of the series, we consider Tiger King, even if accidental, a sad, horrifying look at the ripples left by trauma. We’ll assume you’ve seen Tiger King and know of Joe Exotic already, but if you haven’t, take this as a warning. We will be discussing some potential spoilers.

That song…still stuck in my head.

After seeing all the posts on social media directing others to cut Tiger King on, we wanted in on the dirty deets; we wanted to learn why the series is considered a ‘must watch’. On top of that, I, your writer here, Parz, wanted to learn the secrets to the success of the show, maybe even emulate the method of storytelling in my own creations. I’m definitely glad I gave this show a watch, but the concern coming out the other side alive was a scene near the close of the season. This scene had an immediate effect on my psyche, and I’ve not seen a soul talking about it. I just want to touch on that briefly, then move into a possible next watch option for my fellow horror freaks and geeks.

This is Horror.

Throughout the majority of the series, the drama and often hilarious dirty goods of many involved are the focus in the true story. But as the season nears a close, one of the not-so-main characters, a man who got involved in the mess by responding to a Craigslist employment advertisement, is shown on the screen, his depression and substance use almost proudly displayed to the world. The world.

Taken by video capture of trailer from Chris Smith, Fisher Stevens, Eric Goode, and Rebecca Chaiklin

I definitely had to pause the series at this point, the tears just wouldn’t stop coming. This man’s life in complete wreckage. This kind soul hurt over man’s ego. And I fell for it. The trap, although I think by mistake (the rest of the series has some issues with continuity and smoothness), comes from nowhere and is set in Chuck Palahniuk style, and it really, really bothered me. It bothered me not because it’s a Horror power move, very sophisticated, but because it felt as if we were being shown this man’s decline for a laugh, an ‘oh, shit’ moment. That’s what this man’s life has amounted to. Kills me. This isn’t acting, folks. This is chilling, real-life devastation.

Maybe if you’ve already enjoyed the series once, a re-watch with the storytelling being your focus could prove useful, especially if you’re a creator yourself. I may, or may not, already have something prepared, drafted, if you will. Anyway, I want to point out that if you really enjoyed the ooze of crazy Tiger King provides, I encourage you to try another Netflix Original Series, one released prior to Tiger King.

Advertisement

Netflix‘s Don’t F*** With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer

This pick is guaranteed to rock the thriller jollies of any Horror fan. Sit back and just, enjoy the drama turned Horror in this clever docu-series. Follow Facebook’s early days, as a group of vigilantes unapologetically and relentlessly search for the creator of a viral video of a cat killing.

When I suggest this series, I tend to get pushback on how the killing of animals is too cruel for television. They’re too concerned they might see a cat killed on screen. Slightly understandable, but you don’t really see the evil acts themselves, and when things get really sticky, you’ll be so wrapped in the story, you’ll wish you could see even more.

Which is great! It’s really, really clever. The trap you may find yourself in is extremely well put together and will definitely linger long after the watch. Now, this series is only a three part set, so somewhere around a third of Tiger King’s length. And the message is good too, I just keep thinking ‘clever’.

Taken by video capture of trailer from Raw TV

My sick veterans of Horror, anyone who’s seen and contemplated the stark exploitation Horror of A Serbian Film (2010) or enjoy breaking down any Lars von Trier masterpiece, may wish things to go deeper in certain places. But! This story has a good catch, it’ll certainly take your mind off whatever it’s been on. It’s very…involved, with the audience.

But Before I Go…Some More Recommendations!

  • Summer of 84 (2018) P.S. Shudder is still running a free trial for a month at the time of this post, so get in and watch this while you can!
  • Lake Mungo (2008) –Tubi (free!)
  • Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  • The Platform (2020) –Another Netflix Original!
  • Circle (2015) #IndieLove

We’re extremely interested on your thoughts from a Horror perspective on both these documentaries, as well as on our thoughts. What series, film, story, or art should we look into from this humanistic perspective? Let us know in the comments below (you’ll need an email address for this), or reach out to us in one of the following ways:

Or by email to parzz1val@yahoo.com

Advertisement

Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, Cursed Neighborhood

Published

on

Episode five of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was one of the best kind of horror stories. It is a dark, eerie tale of a mean house that is determined to destroy anyone who dares reside within it.

The story

Our story begins in 1682. A group of colonists are attempting to take over land that is very much not theirs. When the colonists are killed, they vow to curse the land.

Fast forward to modern times, and the land in question is a little suburban neighborhood. Carlette Norwood moves in with her husband, mother, and daughters. The house seems like a dream come true. Until, of course, their beautiful dream home becomes a nightmare. The curse of the colonists wrapped itself around the neck of each family member, turning them into people that they didn’t recognize. People who don’t exactly like each other.

What worked

While I wouldn’t say that the acting in this episode is flawless, it was several steps above what we’ve seen so far. Every actor seemed to understand their role and reacted in realistic ways. I was especially impressed by the young woman playing Angelique. She had the good sense to not overplay the role, giving each scene exactly the right amount of energy.

Advertisement

Of course, there was one actress who way overplayed every scene. But rather than being terrible, it was terrific. And that was Chloe Zeitounian, who played the neighbor Stacy. Stacy the neighbor was creepy as shit. After an unnamed neighbor dies by suicide, Stacy shows up at Carlette’s house with a bottle of champagne, sipping coffee with a big old smile. Well, okay it probably wasn’t coffee.

Stacy was a fantastic character, and I hope there was a crazy neighbor just like her. I bet her house was haunted as hell, but she just decided that her ghost was like a stray dog that everyone else thinks is dangerous. She probably put a bejeweled collar on the colonist ghost and renamed him Kori spelled with an I on purpose.

Finally, I want to talk about the theme of ancestral curse and ancestral protections that this episode discussed.

Charles County was cursed by the colonists who took the land that rightfully belonged to the indigenous tribes. They took what their ancestors had given them, and left a curse in their wake.

At the end of the episode, Carlette talks about being protected by her ancestors. Ancestors that survived horrible things most of us can’t imagine. I am sure that their strength blessed Carlette, and helped her to save Angelique.

Advertisement

What didn’t work

While this episode was certainly better than most of the season, it wasn’t perfect. The thing that most stood out to me as being frankly unneeded was the inclusion of maggots attacking Brian.

Paul A Maynard in Suburban Screams.

In multiple scenes, during which Carlette is narrating, Brian has maggots coming out of open wounds. Never once does Carlette mention a maggot issue.

It feels like there is a clear reason why the creators did this. This story doesn’t have a lot of blood, gore, or jump scares. And a core goal of horror content is to cause a reaction.

Stephen King has a great quote about this goal. “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

The inclusion of maggots in this story admits that someone involved didn’t think the story was terrorizing or horrifying enough. But it was. The story was freaky all on its own without the inclusion of our wriggling friends.

Is it true?

This might be an unpopular opinion, but aside from the completely unnecessary maggots infesting Brian, I think this episode is the most honest and accurate one so far.

Advertisement

The thing about hauntings is that they’re seldom what we see in the movies. Haunted houses don’t have glass vases flying off shelves and wallpaper peeling to reveal 666 painted in blood over arcane symbols. Haunted houses dig into the minds of those who live there, causing bad luck and bad vibes. And that’s exactly what happened here. There are no massive explosions. No spirits throwing people downstairs or demonic dogs chasing children from the attic. This house dug into the hearts and minds of a loving family, ripping them apart.

So yes, I do think this episode is likely true.

The further we get into Suburban Screams, the more I enjoy it. This episode was eerie, upsetting, and riveting. I hope that Carlette and her daughters are healing from this horrific journey. And I’m thankful to them for sharing their story. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movies n TV

Happy Father’s Day Herman Munster!

Published

on

Herman Munster would be so proud, collage by Jennifer Weigel
Herman Munster would be so proud, collage by Jennifer Weigel

Today for Father’s Day I want to celebrate one the best dads in horror ever: Herman Munster! Herman Munster of television celebrity is a perfect example of a good father in a genre awash in epically horrible parents. He is fun to be around, cares deeply about family, and has a huge heart. He is essentially the naive and loving Frankenstein’s monster despite his horrific appearance, and is aptly employed at a funeral home.

Herman is lovable, hardworking, and always ready with the physical humor dad jokes, even if he is too naive to catch on to his role in the punchlines all the time. He is devoted to his wife Lily Dracula and son Eddie and will do whatever he can to protect them. His generosity extends beyond just his own, with the family taking in his niece Marilyn (who is painfully normal by comparison to the Munsters), and father-in-law Grandpa.

Portrayed by Fred Gwynne, Herman Munster is kind of the epitome of the good father in horror. Sure, he’s a brute, and can be a little dim sometimes, but he’s really just a big teddy bear at heart, and always ready for a good laugh. And apparently Herman Munster was even nominated by his son Eddie for Father of the Year in Season 2, Episode 25, so it all comes around full circle. If the show highlight doesn’t load, you can find it here.

And to celebrate more great Hollywood celebrities, here’s a poem for Ed Wood and an homage to Theda Bara

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, The Bunny Man

Published

on

Someone is stalking the children of Fairfax, Virginia. He comes bearing an axe. He comes from the forest. He comes in the night.

He comes dressed as a bunny.

The story

In the 1970s, the sleepy town of Fairfax Virginia was menaced by a man dressed as a rabbit. He stalked kids and teens with an axe while they were playing in the woods, or ‘parking’. Children were cautioned to not play outside after dark. Parents were terrified. The whole community was rocked by the horrific killer who, well, didn’t kill anybody. And who might have been a whole bunch of people inspired by a truly sad tale?

Still from Suburban Screams The Bunny Man.

The story begins a hundred years earlier. A man whose name is lost to time is accused of stealing a cow. For this crime, he’s sentenced to death because things were a lot tougher back then. The man escaped but swore vengeance on the town. A few days later several children were found hanging from a bridge underpass, butchered and hung as though they were slaughtered rabbits.

What worked

The biggest thing to love about this episode, the one thing that sets it apart from the rest of the season, was the presence of Historian Cindy Burke. Finally, we have an actual professional talking about one of these stories. Yes, there are still first-hand accounts. But that is how these sorts of stories work best. We have the emotional retelling of evocative survivors. But we also have a professional who is emotionally separated from the situation backing up these stories with historical knowledge.

Advertisement

This wouldn’t have mattered as much in any other setting. But Suburban Screams has been clear from the start that it wants to be seen as a documentary. This is supposed to be real. And if you’re going to claim that your ghost story is real, bring receipts. As many as you can.

If we’d seen more historians, detectives, and police reports through this series, it probably wouldn’t have the bad rating it does on IMDB.

What didn’t work

Well, it might still have had a bad rating. Because the acting in this episode was, for lack of a stronger word, terrible.

I don’t know if it was the directing, the casting, or just a weak talent budget. But not a single person except for the man playing the Bunny Man could act in any of these dramatic reenactment scenes.

The worst offender was probably the child playing Ed’s childhood friend. This character was way overacted. It’s as though the child had seen a parody of how little boys behave, and was told to act like that. As this was a little boy, he was likely a bit embarrassed.

Advertisement

And I know, I’m trash-talking a child actor. I’m trash-talking all of the children actors in this episode. But children can act. There are lots of examples of kids doing great acting jobs. Stranger Things is an obvious example. Violent Night is another. The kid can act. These kids couldn’t act.

Is it true?

Unlike most of the other episodes in this series, The Bunny Man is a story I’ve heard before. It is a legitimate urban legend that blossomed from a few firsthand accounts of madmen doing scary things dressed as rabbits in Fairfax County, West Virginia. These events probably inspired others to do stupid things like dress up like a rabbit and run around with an ax. Much like the people who decided to dress up like clowns and scare the hell out of people across the country in 2016.

So, yes, the Bunny Man is very much real. He’s real in the hearts and minds of pranksters and West Virginia frat boys. And he is based on some very real, very upsetting, actual events.

I honestly wish the whole season of Suburban Screams had been exactly like this. Filled with facts, first-hand accounts, and proof of scary events. This was everything I wanted in a supernatural/true crime story. So if you’re giving the rest of the season a pass, I would suggest watching this episode.

Advertisement
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Continue Reading

Trending