Monday, October 12, 2015

Book List 2015: September

* = reread

[GN] = Graphic Novel or Comic Anthology

- CB - = Children’s Book

AUDIO = Audio book



The American Plate:
a culinary history in 100 bites

by. Libby H. O’Connell

A look at the history of America’s foods.

A pretty interesting read. Each of the “100 bites” talks about a different food, starting with the first ones eaten and slowly moving towards modern times. The great thing about this format is that it allows you to learn not only the history of America, but the history of food as well.

“While white settlers observed the indigenous use of sassafras as a healing agent, they thought they had stumbled upon a miracle cure, especially for a disease that had plagued the Renaissance era: syphilis. For a remarkable moment in the seventeenth century, Virginia sassafras was the second largest export from the British American colonies after tobacco.     Unfortunately, the combination of good marketing and magical thinking did not turn the leaves into effective medicine for the particularly virulent form of syphilis that grimly reaped more than one million Europeans during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Sassafras quickly returned to its minor status as a local culinary herb once it proved no match for sexually transmitted disease. Later, American used it as a flavoring for temperance drinks such as sarsaparilla and root beer.”


Hello America

by. J.G. Ballard

A ecological collapse in the United States of America has left the country nearly inhospitable and its citizens abandoning it. Now, generations later, people have noticed strange radiation readings coming from the abandoned country. An expedition is mounted to see what’s been going on in North America.

I stumbled upon this one while looking to check out a different book by this author and was intrigued. It’s not everyday that you see a post-apocalyptic book about America written by someone who isn’t an American and I wanted to see what the result was.

Ballard’s outsider view of America’s faults and facets was definitely intriguing. However, the plot of the story is quite weak and the science-fiction elements were often too ridiculous to take seriously.

“It was an excess of fantasy that killed the old United States, the whole Mickey Mouse and Marilyn thing, the most brilliant technologies devoted to trivia like instant cameras and space spectaculars that should have stayed in the pages of Science Fiction . . . some of the last Presidents of the U.S.A. seemed to have been recruited straight from Disneyland.”


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol.1:
Squirrel Power

written by. Ryan North
art by. Erica Henderson

Doreen Green: College Student, Hero, Squirrel-powered agent of justice. These are her stories.

For those of you who don’t know, Squirrel Girl was a super hero created in 1992 as a way to add some light-hearted fun to a comic scene that was, perhaps, taking itself a little too seriously. And while some people would have used the character as a running punchline, Marvel instead went the other way and made her a force of nature. During her time in comics she’s bested some of the Marvel’s heaviest-hitters like Dr. Doom, Deadpool, Thanos, and more! She’s both had a relationship with Wolverine and kicked his ass.

In short, she’s pretty awesome.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is one of those comics that is great for anyone who’s never read any Marvel comics before, but it’s a whole different kind of hilarious for those that have (think NEXTwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., but for a younger crowd). It’s cute, it’s hilarious, and it’s a whole lot of fun.

“‘I’m Doreen Green, completely regular college student.’

‘Who just happens to have a tail?’

‘Nope! Who knows how to tuck her tail into her pants…
     ...and who just happens to have a conspicuously large and conspicuously awesome butt.
Come on, Tippy.
Let’s do this.”
-issue 1


Sick in the Head

by. Judd Apatow

The writer/director of Freaks & Geeks, Superbad, and Knocked Up interviews comedians about their thoughts on comedy.

Overall the interviews were all quite interesting. The only thing I can say against it is that there is a fair bit of Judd Apatow talking about himself. Some of his stories you even hear multiple times as he tells them to different interviewees.

“One of the breakthrough moments for me was realizing that, you know, you can take all the classes you want and learn and practice and get all the advice from other people, but it’s really like learning an instrument that has never existed until you were born. No one can tell you how to play that instrument. There’s a part of that journey that you have to figure out for yourself.”

-pg. 150, interview with Key and Peele

*   110.   *

The Last Continent

by. Terry Pratchett

After the events of Interesting Times, Rincewind finds himself trapped on the mysterious continent of XXXX. And to make matters worse a supernatural entity is insisting that he fixes the continent’s rain problem! All because his present day Unseen University colleagues have somehow managed to muck it up 1,000 years in the past.

I’d say this one is probably one of the better Rincewind stories and yet, like I’ve said before, the travelogue stories are always a bit weak. The satire is just “Hey! It’s Australia, you know! I’m making jokes about Australia. AUSTRALIA!” But, that being, the jokes about Australia are pretty. And, unlike Interesting Times, Pratchett has actually spent a fair bit of time in Australia! Amazing how much of a difference that makes.

She had a very straightforward view of foreign parts, or at least those more distant than her sister’s house in Quirm where she spent a week’s holiday every year. They were inhabited by people who were more to be pitied than blamed because, really, they were like children.* And they acted like savages.**

*That is to say, she secretly considered them to be vicious, selfish and untrustworthy.

**Again, when people like Mrs. Whitlow use this term they are not, for some inexplicable reason, trying to suggest that the subjects have a rich oral tradition, a complex system of tribal rights and a deep respect for the spirits of their ancestors. They are implying the kind of behavior more generally associated, oddly enough, with people wearing a full suit of clothes, often with the same sort of insignia.”
-pg. 186

[GN]   *  111.   *   [GN]

The Far Side Gallery

by. Gary Larson

The first treasury collection of Gary Larson’s infamous comic strip The Far Side.

You know, it’s been WAY too long since I reread some Far Side.

If you’ve never read Gary Larson’s The Far Side you are missing out. This is the strip that every one-panel non-sequential newspaper comic tries to be. Seriously, Larson step the bar so high and I have yet to see anyone pull off that level of quality so consistently and for so long. During the late-eighties/early nineties the two best new comic strips in the newspapers were Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes and Gary Larson’s The Far Side.

But maybe, someone out there right now is thinking, “What the hell is The Far Side?” Maybe they’ve somehow managed to never see a Far Side strip even though Far Side calendars and products are still being made to this day even though the strip hasn’t ran in 20 years. So for you, dear ignorant reader, I’ll try to describe the strip.

The Far Side was a single-panel newspaper comic that ran from 1980-1995. While I feel that a lot of single-panel comics’ humor tends to be either very broad (Family Circus) or very specific (The New Yorker strips), The Far Side managed to do both. Its jokes and themes were all over the map and yet always rooted in a style that everyone can relate to. If I had to try and sum it up I’d say that The Far Side showed an amalgamation of how the world is viewed through the eyes of an innocent child imaginative child and a narcissistic jaded adult. Its world is exciting and light-hearted and occupied almost exclusively with buffoons. It’s a place where the jokes are more likely to be told from the deer’s point of view than the hunters. Where scientists can be both geniuses working on fantastic things and yet still a pack of ridiculous dweebs.

Seriously, if you’ve never read the strip go to your library and check this collection out. Heck, if you have read the strip, you’re probably like me and haven’t read it in far too long and you should do the same. Trust me on this. Your funny bone will thank me.


Between the World and Me

by. Ta-Nahisi Coates

Coates’ book takes the form of a message to his son as he tries to help him understand the issue of race in America and how it will impact his life.

First off, I’ve just gotta admit that I hate when books are written to someone when they were clearly just written for publication. It’s always just a writing tactic to frame their points and it always just comes off to me as incredibly pretentious. And I hate that this book does that.

That being said, the points it makes are still incredibly poignant and it does an brilliant job of clearly looking at and relating what it means to be black in America.

“American deify democracy in a way that allows for a dim awareness that they have, from time to time, stood in defiance of their God. But democracy is a forgiving god and America’s heresies—torture, theft, enslavement—are so common among individuals and nations that none can declare themselves immune. In fact, Americans, in a real sense, have never betrayed their God. When Abraham Lincoln declared, in 1863, that the battle of Gettysburg must ensure that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,’ he was not merely being aspirational; at the onset of the Civil War, the United States of America had one of the highest rates of suffrage in the world. The question is not whether Lincoln truly meant government of the people’ but what our country has, throughout its history, taken the political term people’ to actually mean. In 1863 it did not mean your mother or your grandmother, and it did not mean you or me. Thus America’s problem is not its betrayal of government of the people,’ but the means by which the people’ acquired their names.

This leads us to another equally important ideal, one that Americans implicitly accept but to which they make no conscious claim. Americans believe in the reality of race’ as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men.
But race is the child of racism, not the father.”


*   [GN]   113-115, 118-119   [GN]   *

vol. 1-5

Story by. Fred Gallagher & Rodney Caston
Art by. Fred Gallagher

Two friends wind up trapped in Japan with no money to get home. As they struggle to find a way back they wind up in the middle of a series of intertwining romantic entanglements.

Oh, jeez, this is a hard one to talk about. I was really into this series back in the day, but it’s been forever since I’ve reread it so I figured I’d dive back in and see how it holds up.

And honestly? There is quite a lot I dislike about this comic. The rules for the universe aren’t grounded, I really don’t care for the bizarre antics of one of the main characters, and it creates a picture of Japan that is more in line with how American anime nerds mentally imagine Japan to be than how it actually is. It also has a case of wish-fulfillment writing. And anyone who knows me knows that I cannot stand it when writers use their writing to create a utopian world for themselves without bothering to ground any of it in reality [Ready Player One, Im looking at you].

The main character in this one is a huge nerd with terrible social skills. He’s dumpy, shy, unobservant, terribly awkward, has some...questionable interests, is constantly telling everyone how much he sucks, and is riddled with anxiety. And yet, for no explicable reason, multiple girls keep falling in love with him at first sight. He was so close to being relatable!

And yet in spite of all that, whenever the comic isn’t A) easing the author’s personal anxieties with wish-fulfillment fantasies, or B) interrupting the story to with an abundance of video-game fueled random side stories, when it isn’t doing those things it is actually an extremely interesting piece of romantic drama. The relationship between Piro and Kimiko is particularly great and I can really relate to some of the inner troubles those two have to deal with in their relationship, because I’ve dealt with a lot of the same troubles in my own relationships.

So there you have it. When it isn’t being really annoying, it’s very well done. And I really, really like those good parts! I would never recommend it to anyone, because to get to the gold you’ve gotta pan through a fair bit of dirt. But at its heart is something I really enjoy.

Also, I’ve just gotta say that I absolutely adore Gallagher’s backgrounds. He was originally an architect by trade and his backgrounds are just the greatest thing. Really. They make you ashamed for all the other backgrounds you see in comics. They are the bar by which I measure all other backgrounds.

Why does Nanasawa always have to see me at my worst?

She’s going to think I’m totally pathetic.’

Well, duh, hello in there!

You are totally pathetic.

And so what if you are? You gonna sit around and wait till you aren’t?’
-vol.4, pg.87

-CB-   116.   -CB-

The Little Gardener

written and illustrated by. Emily Hughes

A little gardener no bigger than a pea does his best to take care of the garden that makes up his home, but sometimes things are just too much for one person to do on their own.

Emily Hughes’ book Wild is my favorite picture book. Period. It is just impossibly brilliant. And so when I saw that her new book had come out I obviously had to get it!

On first read I wasn’t terribly impressed. The art was as drop-dead gorgeous as always, but the story didn’t seem to have the same bursting energy that Wild did. But after reading it a couple more times I’ve completely changed my mind. I now see its subtleties and it’s really grown on me. It deals with some issues I don’t often see in picture books. Things like how sometimes you can try your best and still fail. How some things you just can’t do by yourself. And how sometimes, even if you don’t realize it, you’re an inspiration to those around you for just the little things you do.

The whole thing is subtle and beautiful and I love it.

Seriously though, Emily Hughes’ there a word for art that you both adore, but also secretly hate because you’re so jealous of its beauty?

“This was the garden.
It didn’t look like much,
but it meant everything to its gardener.”

[GN] 117. [GN]

Step Aside, Pops:
A Hark! A Vagrant Collection

by. Kate Beaton

Cartoonist Kate Beaton lovingly pokes fun at pop-culture and historical figures.

What is it Doc, give it to me straight.
Am I dying of heroics? A heart too powerful, a soul on fire?’

Im afraid it’s dysenteryyoure going to poop yourself to death.’ 

Doc, NO.

If youre not familiar with Kate Beaton’s comic strip Hark! A Vagrant then you need to rectify that immediately.

She originally started out doing hilarious comics about history. But in this collection she’s branched out to envelop the world of pop-culture as well. Which makes for a fascinatingly eclectic collection. Jokes about the odd friendship between Frederic Chopin and Franz Listz, then onto the ever-serious Julius Ceaser, and then right into the strange relationship of Lois Lane and Superman.

My personal favorites are when she does this thing where she’ll take a piece of old art out of context and make a comic out of it. Her Nancy Drew ones are pretty much my favorite things.

How are you feeling about being a hero at The Battle of Crecy?’

Bro I am Stoked.’

This is truly a momentous event so far in the war...’

Those French guys were like, WHOAAAA.’

I keep forgetting you are sixteen.’

And my army was like EAT IT
Ka Chow!!’

 -quotes both from her “The Black Prince” strips

(AUDIO)  120.  (AUDIO)

I Must Say:
my life life as a humble comedy legend

by. Martin Short with David Kamp

An autobiography of comedic actor Martin Short read by Martin Short.

My friend got this audio book and recommended it to me so I borrowed it and gave it a listen!

It’s definitely one of those books that you need to hear in audio book version. Martin Short does the reading himself so in the audio book you can actually hear him doing impressions of all the celebrities he’s talking about and doing his character’s lines in their voice!

I’m not really a big Martin Short fan and I still enjoyed listening to this. There’s drama, tragedy, romance, laughs, and plenty of celebrity gossip. But really, more than anything else, Martin Short just has a wonderfully sweet and engaging air about him that makes him really fun to listen to.

To my beloved friends,
Theres simply no life without you guys. Thanks for the advice and the love and the billion dinners and laughs. Without you all I’d look for new friends and get them.


The Neverending Story

written by. Michael Ende
translated into English by. Ralph Manheim

A young boy steals a mysterious book and hides out in his school’s attic to read it. But some thing’s different about this book. This book has no end and it knows its being read. The inhabitants of its fantastic world are in grave danger and he’s the only one who can save them.

Wow. This book was definitely not what I was expecting.

The first half of the book is essentially exactly the same as the movie they made from it, but the second half? That’s where things start to get utterly doofy. When Bastion enters Fantastica things take a sharp turn for the worse. Pretty much immediately I’m made to just really hate Bastion. Half this book is just Bastion wishing himself perfect and being perfect at everything and just being awful in general.

And, yes, to be fair, at the end he realizes his mistakes, but by then it’s far too late! I’ve already had to put up with far too much of his BS for me to care anymore.

As you can perhaps tell, I just don’t think this book was for me. Admittedly it does a number of interesting things, like the ideas it raises about how fantasy and reality affect one another, and the way real world events are written in Red, but Fantastica events are written in Green. But at the end of the day I just didn’t care about any of the characters. The world of Fantastica doesn’t seem to have any rules so I never found myself afraid of any consequences. And taking the main character and turning him into bland Mr. Perfect for half the book? No thank you.

But it is pretty widely regarded as a classic, so while it wasn’t my cup of tea, perhaps it might be yours? And that’s okay with me.

“Every real story is a never ending story.”

*   122.   *

The Complete Lockpick Pornography

by. Joey Comeau

Two tales about queer men who try to subvert the heteronormative system in their own ways, but end up subverting themselves in the process.

That’s kind of a really over-simplified description, but it’s the best I can do. Like most of Joey Comeau’s work this book is really hard to describe, but nevertheless amazing. He is my 2nd favorite author and his style is one of things I love the most about his work. However, writing style is one of the hardest things to get across to someone who’s never read it! His work is funny and heartfelt. Bleak yet hopeful. It approaches issues with the same carefree abandon of a kid running through a sprinkler. He distracts your attentions with his energy and humor all the while picking your pocket. You think it’s one kind of story and then the ground falls out from under you and you realize it was a different kind of story all along.

It’s hard to explain why you love something isn’t it? I mean, it’s easy to say why you like a plot or a character, but when you like something on a deeper level? I don’t know. I’m not even going to try. I love this book, but it’s a personal kind of love, so who’s to say what you’ll make of it?

So do with that information what you will. But know that I am a huge fan. The second story is particularly relatable to me.

"In Peanuts, you see strip after strip where it’s joke, joke, joke, and then there’s a comic where Charlie Brown is in his sandbox, building a sandcastle. A girl comes along and kicks it down, and Charlie Brown just sits there. Then he goes inside. At home, he takes off his clothes. He climbs into bed and just lies there looking sad. Then, next comic, Snoopy is a World War One flying ace! Linus loves his blanket.

One of the last Sunday Peanuts strips is Peppermint Patty playing football. She yells at Chuck, hey great game, right? Is he having as much fun as she is? It’s still his ball. What’s he going to do? Chuck? And then here comes Marcie to tell her everyone’s gone home. Patty should go home too. It’s dark. And Peppermint Patty asks her if they had fun.

Yes, they had fun, Marcie says. And then she leaves Patty there in the rain.

The last panel is Patty, standing alone. And to the empty field she points out that nobody shook hands and said, Good game.’

I love those dark moments in Peanuts. I love that theyre in there, that Charles Schulz put the sad, lonely bits of himself into the comic. I love the silliness too: the dancing Snoopy strips; the little boy Rerun drawing basement’ comics about Tarzan fighting Daffy Duck in a helicopter. Those are the bits that keep me reading. The funny parts! The fun parts. The silly bits that don’t make sense. And when I get to the sad, lonely Peppermint Patty standing in a field wondering why nobody shook hands and said, Good game, well, it works because that’s not all she was. I try to think that way about everything. That’s the kind of person I want to be.
-pg. 138-139

[P.S. For those of you aren’t die hard Peanuts fans here are the strips he’s talking about: March 21st, 1954 & January 2nd, 2000 ]


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

by. Lisa See

In 19th century China a young girl from a poor village makes a pact of friendship with a girl from a rich village. With their fates now intertwined they grow up, but with a bond that cannot be broken.

A friend recommended this one so I figured I’d give it a go.

It’s a really engaging read, but I felt like it is one of those books where you really want to like all the characters, but they’re all kind of awful people in their own ways so you really can’t. But you want to! But you can’t. But you want to!

“I am old enough to know only too well my good and bad qualities, which were often one in the same.”


Go Set a Watchmen

by. Harper Lee

In this To Kill A Mockingbird sequel, a now 25 year-old Jean-Louise Finch (aka Scout) returns to Maycomb, Alabama for a visit. But while she’s there she learns some unpleasant truths about her father Atticus that force her to rethink her entire life.

I kind of get the feeling like Harper Lee got really annoyed with all the praise To Kill A Mockingbird got and with everyone’s near deification of Atticus Finch. And then wrote this book to shatter her previous book’s altar and ground it and everyone’s thoughts of it.

I know, I know, this book was actually written first, so that’s obviously not the case. But that’s what it feels like. And maybe that’s what prompted her to go ahead and publish it after all?

I’ve got to hand it to Harper Lee. When most people write about civil rights and racism these days they do it from a holier-than-thou present-day lens. But Lee writes in a way much more grounded in her novels time period. I mean, most books won’t present a conversation about race and civil rights and defend the people with opinions on both sides. With the color-blind Jean-Louise as her main character she sets the moral compass of the novel and through he supporting cast we not only see people with differing view points, but why they hold those viewpoints.

In fact, one of the main points of the novel is that refusing to acknowledge other people’s views makes you just as bigoted as the people you’re fighting against. You might not agree with other people’s opinions, but if you refuse to talk with someone enough to not only understand what they’re saying, but WHY they feel that way? Well, then how can you say you stand for equal rights and freedom of speech if you’re not personally willing to accept that means standing side by side with those who are different than you are?

I really enjoyed this book. And as set, I think these two books ask some really important questions and compliment each other extremely well.

“I was taught never to take advantage of anybody who was less fortunate than myself, whether he be less fortunate in brains, wealth, or social position; it meant anybody, not just Negroes. I was given to understand that the reverse was to be despised. That is the way I was raised, by a black woman and a white man.”
-pg. 179

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

31 Days of Spooky Films: 2014

October, as some of you already know, is the greatest month.

Fall is in full-swing, cider is plentiful, and HORROR is openly embraced by the populace. Last year I decided to celebrate this wonderful month by watching a spooky movie on every one of its 31 days. These are those movies! I originally did each one as its own post on the blog’s Facebook page, but I figured I should put them all here for convenience sake.

Everyone has different limits when it comes to scary movies, so soon after I started I decided to separate Scariness and Goriness into their own respective ratings. Fear Factor ratings are how scary a movie I (personally) found it to be and the Gore Factor goes into how gory the movie got. For a detailed rundown of what my ratings mean exactly skip down to the bottom of the post where I’ve got guides that explain.

Hopefully my pointless personal challenge will end up giving you some good ideas of what to watch (or perhaps what NOT to watch) this Halloween season.


Invaders From Mars

A little boy is all that stands between his hometown and the brain-controlling aliens who’ve come for our...copper?

Fear Factor:
1/5 Pennies

Should you watch it?:

Only if you enjoy super cheesy sci-fi. And only if you have some friends over and are prepared to get your MST3K on, because there is just so much to make fun of.

[The Host]

A South Korean monster movie about a dysfunctional family that must band together when their youngest is abducted by a monster.

Fear Factor: 
2.5 / 5 Bottles of Formalin

Gore Factor: 
2 / 5 Gizzards

Should you watch it?:

Most Definitely! This is one of my favorite monster movies. It’s directed by the always brilliant Bong Joon-ho and it has everything a person could want in a movie. There are thrills, chills, laughs, surprises, action, monsters, and so much more!


A British movie about a group of sexist assholes decide to take their newly divorced friend on a vacation to a small town full of ladies in order to drink and forget his problems. However, it turns out a virus has infected the town that has turned all the women into man-hating zombies.

Fear Factor:
1.5 / 5 Sexist pricks

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Dismembered morons

Should you watch it?:

Not unless you want tangible proof that men are horrible . This was probably the most overtly misogynistic movie I’ve ever seen.



On the anniversary of her mother’s murder a high school girl is being stalked by a masked killer in this meta-horror movie from Wes Craven.

Fear Factor:
2.5 / 5 Fonzies

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Lacerations

Should you watch it?:

If youre a fan of horror movies then you really need to see Scream. Its meta look at horror is extremely fun. Sure theres one scene that I really, really hate, but the rest of it is pretty great. While its not all that scary in itself, it has still managed to make me nervous to be in houses with too many glass doors and windows.

John Dies at the End

After coming into contact with a strange drug known only as “Soy Sauce,” two friends are thrust into the world of the dangerously paranormal. Now it’s up to them to the rest of us from the horrors they see.

Fear Factor:
2/5 Meat Monsters

Gore Factor:
3/5 Living Hives

Should you see it?:

If you’ve read the book, then YES. While the book is a million times greater, the movie is definitely an interesting take on the 1/3 of the book it does depicts. However, if you haven’t read the book? Then Id recommend not watching it until you have. The book (which is one of my all-time favorites, by the way) is a very fun, very intricate, and offbeat kind of story. The movie makers had to leave a lot of the book out and they chose to tell the most iconic parts, instead of the heavier story driven sections. So if youve read the book you can fill in the blanks yourself. But if you havent? Well, then I think youd just end up rather confused.

Night of the Living Dead

The great grandpappy of the Zombie genre. A tale of reanimated corpses trying to eat the flesh of the living and of the living who really would prefer that they didn’t.

Fear Factor: 
2 / 5 Barbaras

Gore Factor:
2 / 5 Meaty bits

Should you see it?:

Yes, of course you should! Its the film that changed the face of horror and created a new standard in the horror playbook. That alone Plus Ben is one of my favorite Zombie movie characters ever.


[The Curse]

A Japanese faux-documentary about a series of interconnected paranormal incidents centered around an ancient entity known as Kagutaba.

Fear Factor:
2.5 / 5 Spells

2 / 5 Dead pigeons

Should you watch it?:

Im not sure. Maybe? Its a weird one. Ive never seen a Blair Witch-style horror movie out of Japan before. I found the plot to be rather interesting and some of the ideas theyre dealing with are quite creepy (the idea of possession and such always creeps me out). But the movie can be quite slow and dragging at times. So Im not sure Id recommend it per se, but if youve been looking for something off the beaten path then I think youll find it pretty interesting.



A bunch of American idiots go all the way to Ireland solely to eat psychedelic mushrooms and then trip out and get murdered and stuff.

Fear Factor:
1.5 / 5 Mushrooms

Gore Factor:
2 / 5 Cows

Should you watch it?:

Ugh. Not unless you hate yourself. This movie is not only Not Scary, but its also dull. So very, very dull. I disliked this movie so much I feel obliged to make it up to you all by going and watching another Horror movie for you.


Children of the Corn

A group of kids murder all the adults in their small town and take over. Oh, and then some adults come to town and then Stephen King just said fuck it, took some drugs, and just made some shit up (presumably).

Fear Factor:
1 / 5 Stalks of Corn

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Lines of super fake blood

Should you watch it?:

I felt bad about the other movie being so terrible, that I went and watched this one to hopefully make up for it. I picked it because it was a classic that I had never seen. But damn. I can’t in good faith recommend this thing. It is so impossibly dumb. What on Earth is the deal with Stephen King and his compulsion to take a scary premise (like kids in a small town murdering the adults) and then dumbing everything down and adding all kinds of superfluous supernatural shit to it? This movie is just so hopelessly amateur. Im amazed it has so many sequels. Guess whats not scary, Stephen King...CORN! Corn is very much not scary. You might as well write have written Children of the Oatmeal.



A boy and his brother investigate mysterious goings-on at the local cemetery.

Fear Factor:
1 / 5 Tall people

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Orbs

Should you watch it?:

No. This was another movie Ive always heard about, but never seen. But ugh. Probably the most boring Horror movie Ive ever seen. Id say 3/4 of it is super boring and 1/4 just plain doesnt make any sense. It made Shrooms seem fascinating in comparison. So, no, dont watch it.

30 Days of Night

In a remote town in Alaska the sun has just set and won’t rise again for 30 days. As darkness set across the town so does a pack of vampiristic monsters. Without the sun to keep them at bay, who will?

Fear Factor:
3.5 / 5 Hartnetts

Gore Factor:
3.5 / 5 Decapitations

Should you watch it?:

Definitely. This movie wins my award for best Horror premise ever. Plus it has one of my favorite characters in a horror movie (Eben). And it actually did justice to the brilliant graphic novel it was based on. Not only does it creep me out and have me on edge throughout the whole thing, but it also has such tremendous characters. So few Horror movies are so adept at making you care about all the characters.

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

A Horror/Comedy that spoofs Slasher movies and all the usual cliches are turned on their head. Tucker and Dale are pair of backwoods best friends who are off to fix up the vacation cabin they just bought, but when a group of camping college kids accidentally mistake them for murderous hillbillies things start to go from bad to worse for Tucker & Dale.

Fear Factor:
1.5 / 5 College Kids

Gore Factor:
2.8 / 5 Impalings

Should you watch it?:

If you like Horror movies and you like to laugh, then yes. Yes you should most definitely watch this. The way it pokes fun at the cliches of the genre is hilarious and Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine make such a wonderful duo.


Ernest Scared Stupid

Kindly doofus Ernest P. Worrell accidentally unleashes a child-stealing Troll upon his town. Now it’s up to him and the local kids to save the day.

Fear Factor:
1.5 / 5 Trantors

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Mucus strands

Should you watch it?:

While I have a deep nostalgic love for Ernest, Im not sure if anyone who didnt grow up with him will see the appeal. However, for all the doofy stuff in this movie, theres a lot of clever stuff at work too. Its like a training-wheels Horror movie for kids: all the usual monster movie scares are there, but theyre just toned down enough to not frighten little Suzie into a coma. Although I must say those darn trolls really are surprisingly well done and really quite creepy looking. They definitely spooked me a bit as a kid. Jim Varney is always a delight and Eartha Kitt is in it too! I have no idea how they got her, but shes pretty great.


Død Snø
[Dead Snow]

A group of Norwegian med students decide to take an Easter vacation to a cabin in the mountains. But unfortunately for them the mountain is home to a group of gold-hungry long-dead Nazis.

Fear Factor:
1.5 / 5 Nazis

Gore Factor:
4 / 5 Entrails

Should you watch it?:

If you like Zombie movies I think youll have fun watching this one. Its pretty darn ridiculous and has a lot of fun with the Zombie genre. Not to mention its oddly hilarious watching Norways take on American horror. However, if youre not a big zombie geek I think you can safely pass on this one. Its not really scary. Just gory and ridiculous.



A teenage girl finds herself trapped in a strange looping spirit world and realizes that she’s not the only one. An evil force has trapped them there and now she’s going to have to figure out how to break through the barriers and set things right.

Fear Factor:
2.2 / 5 Murder She Wrotes

Gore Factor:
1/ 5 Clarinets

Should you watch it?:

Im going to go with...Yes. Its not really scary, but its extremely interesting. It has a lot more substance than the majority of Horror movies do. Not to mention its just rather oddly enjoyable watching Abigail Breslin & Stephen McHattie square off against one another.



Trying to succinctly sum up this movie’s plot is basically impossible. So let's just say that it's about a bodiless d-bag and the gang of sadomasochistic demons who want him back.

Fear Factor:
3 / 5 Pinheads

Gore Factor:
4.2 / 5 “Get that the F away from me”s

Should you watch it?:

If you like 80s practical effects or classic 80s-era Horror: Yes. Otherwise: No.

I mean, its truly a testament to Clive Barkers skill that this movie is as freaky as it is, because by all rights it shouldnt be. It has one of the weirdest and loosely constructed plots Ive ever seen, the effects are now rather dated, and theres so much in here that just doesnt make much (if any) sense. And yet for all its over-the-top madness it still manages to be rather freaky. Oh, and I should note that if it wasnt for the fact that the effects in this movie are 27 years past their prime (and thus not as realistic as they used to be) Id have given this one a solid 5/5 on the gore scale. This movie has so much 80s much.


A young girl’s wish for a better life comes true when she discovers a secret door to a world of wonders made just for her. But she soon discovers that things are not always what they appear and her very soul is in jeopardy.

Fear Factor:
1 / 5 Gaimans

Gore Factor:
0.3 / 5 Buttons

Should you watch it?:

Perhaps not if youre in the mood to be scared stiff, but otherwise Most Definitely! Its based on the book by the master of the modern fairy tale, Mr. Neil Gaiman. It features such voice actors as Keith David, John Hodgman, and Dakota Fanning. It was directed by Henry Selick (aka the director of Nightmare Before Christmas). And to top it all off its animated by the always ambitious stop-motion people at Laika! Its not really scary per se, but its certainly a story full of eerie images and spooky happenings. And after all, in a way, arent fairy tales the original horror stories?

Army of Darkness

A sequel to Evil Dead 2 wherein Ash gets thrown through time and ends up in the medieval era. Now in order to get back to his proper time he’s going to have to find that pesky necromonicon and defeat an...Army of Darkness!

Fear Factor:
1 / 5 Chins

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Chainsaws

Should you watch it?:

Yes. Just be sure to go in expecting a funny movie and not a scary one.

Are all men from the future loud-mouthed braggarts?

Nope. Just me baby... Just me.



Government incompetence has turned homeless people into mutant cannibals.

Fear Factor:
1.5 / 5 Government suits

Gore Factor:
2 / 5 Bite marks

Should you watch it?:

Yes. You should assemble your friends, grab some drinks, and watch some C.H.U.D.

Are you kidding? Your guy’s got a camera. Mine’s got a flamethrower.


28 Days Later

A lab-developed rabies-inspired rage virus is inadvertently let loose upon the populace of England. 28 days after its initial release a man awakens from a coma to find himself in an abandoned hospital. As he tries to figure out what happened he finds the world is not the one he remembered. The survivors now find themselves in a constant fight against the infected, against infection, and even against themselves.

Fear Factor:
2.5 / 5 Viruses

Gore Factor:
3.5 / 5 Blood geysers

Should you watch it?:

Hell yes. 28 Days Later inspired a whole new sub-section of the Zombie genre and is a pretty interesting apocalyptic scenario. Whats more, it has tons of those quiet moments that really make zombie movies great. Those ones where they take a break, develop the characters, and give you a glimpse of the ramifications this scenario is having on the world. Then just when you let down your guard...

Oh and did I mention that friggin Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, and Christopher Eccleston are the stars?!

That was more than a heartbeat.


An insect chimera known as the Judas Brood was designed to destroy the cockroach population of New York City in an effort to curb the primary disease vector for a new sickness that threatened to wipe out an entire generation of children. But 3 years after its successful deployment the chimera’s creators realize that it hadn’t died out like it was supposed to. And now it’s evolved into something quite deadly.

Fear Factor:
2 / 5 Bugs

Gore Factor:
2 / 5 Egg Sacs

Should you watch it?: depends on if youre interested in Entomology/Epidemiology. The movie isnt very scary, but it does deal with a number of interesting ideas. For instance, is the use of human-made organisms to combat natural problems is a good idea? Plus the whole thing is surprisingly more scientifically accurate than I was expecting. I mean, dont get me wrong, its all ridiculous, but they actually do cover their science butts quite a lot more than your average horror movie does. They actually deal with things like: the creature having developed lungs (which explains how they could be so big), how insects are highly pheromone based in their senses, adaptive mimicry, and so on.

So you think your little ‘Frankenstein’ has gotten the better of you?


The Blair Witch Project

A found-footage style horror movie about a group of 3 filmmakers who journey into the woods to make a documentary about a local witch legend.

Fear Factor:
2.2 / 5 Piles of rocks

Gore Factor:
1 / 5 Bloody shirts

Should you watch it?:

Sure, why not. I mean, its had a fairly large impact after all. Its actually a pretty impressive movie if you look at how cheaply they made it for. I cant really say its super scary though. If anything it makes me more scared to get lost in the woods more than it does of being attacked by witches in the woods. Id say its about as scary as a spooky campfire story on a camping trip.

I hear it.

“I don’t hear shit.

Did you hear that?


The Mist

In a small town in Maine a strange mist begins to descend from the mountains and soon engulfs the town. Yet the mist didn’t come alone; hiding in its depths are all manner of deadly creatures the like we’ve never seen before.

Fear Factor:
3 / 5 Zealots

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Bug bites

Should you watch it?:

Yes. This movie creeps me out big time. Maybe not the “I need to check my doors now”-level creeps, but it definitely gets under my skin while Im watching it. Not only are the creatures really creepy and well-designed, but the effects have really stood up over the years. And the storyline has that great Stephen King flair of showing how people can be just as monstrous and scary as the monsters. Speaking of which, friggin Marcia Gay Hardens character? Damn. Probably one of the best antagonists Ive seen. You just cant help but despise her!

People are basically good; decent. My god, David, we’re a civilized society.

Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911. But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shit out of them - no more rules.


You’re Next

A family gathering turns into a bloodbath when a group of masked killers starts murdering everyone.

Fear Factor:
2 / 5 Masked killers

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Blenders

Should you watch it?:

YES! Maybe its just nostalgia for the first time I saw it, or maybe its just because its the greatest mix of Bad Horror movie and Amazing Horror movie ever. Whatever. Think of me what you will, but I love this movie and think its just so much fun and I love the main character.

This wasn’t a random attack! Our family’s being targeted.



A Zom-com about a motley crew of survivors in a world overrun with zombies.

Fear Factor:
1.5 / 5 Pacific Playlands

Gore Factor:
3.5 / 5 Oozing maws

Should you see it?:

Yes. If youre not a fan of horror I think youll appreciate the great humor and if you are a fan of horror then youll get the added kick out of how they spoof the zombie genre. While its certainly no Shaun of the Dead, its still quite a lot of fun. It has really fun characters and possibly the greatest celebrity cameo Ive ever seen.

I’m not great at farewells, so, uh, that’ll do, pig.

That’s the worst goodbye I’ve ever heard, and you stole it from a movie.


Monkey Shines

The director of such classics as Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies, and Dawn of the Dead brings you a movie about a helper monkey that falls in love with its owner and begins murdering anyone who gets in the way. I’m 100% serious. Thats what the movie is about.

Fear Factor:
1 / 5 Monkeys
Gore Factor:
2 / 5 Monkey bites

Should you watch it?:

Oh my gosh yes. Please watch Monkey Shines. You won’t regret it. It is a movie unlike any other.

I’ll take her down to the lab and run whatever tests I can run on her. Though I dont expect to find sin in urine sample.


Cabin in the Woods

A group of college students take a trip to a remote cabin in the woods. You know the story...or do you?

Fear Factor:
2 / 5 Zombie Redneck Torture Families

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Mermen attacks

Should you watch it?:

Yes! If you are a fan of horror you need to see this movie. It is so much fun. I think Joss Whedon described it best when he said, “It’s basically a very loving hate letter...On some level it was completely a lark, me and [director] Drew [Goddard] trying to figure out what the most fun we could have would be. On another level its a serious critique of what we love and what we dont about horror movies.

Ok, I’m drawing a line in the fucking sand here. Do not read the Latin.


The Woman in Black

A widowed lawyer is tasked to arrange for the sale of an old house with a tragic past. But something out there isn’t ready to move on.

Fear Factor:
3.6 / 5 Dead people

Gore Factor:
1.2 / 5 Dead bodies

Should you watch it?:

Yes. It thoroughly creeped me out. Its full of those long shots and suspense-building moments that really get to me. Plus, ghosts, yall. If a vengeful ghost ever came after me I would be pissing myself left and right. FYI.

...the most rational mind can play tricks in the dark.



A outer space mining crew is returning to Earth when they get waylaid after receiving a strange signal from an unknown origin. Upon investigation they discover an extraterrestrial life form. A hostile one.

Fear Factor:
3 / 5 Facehuggers

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Chestbursters

Should you watch it?:

YES. I mean sure Alien might not be the scariest movie around, and it’s effects may very well be 35 years old, BUT in my opinion it is one of the best made horror movies around. I could talk about how well composed it is as a film, or how it masterfully builds tension throughout the whole piece, but all I really need to say is: Ellen Ripley! Sigourney Weaver as Ripley is just the greatest thing ever. Ripley is my #1 favorite horror movie lead. Im continually amazed that more people dont name their daughters Ripley, because she is that cool.

Listen to me, if we break quarantine, we could all die.


I Am Legend

A virus designed to help us mutates and becomes our downfall. 90% of those infected die. 1% are immune. But the rest? The rest change into something not quite human.

Fear Factor:
2 / 5 Zom-pires

Gore Factor:
2 / 5 Pissed off neighbors

Should you watch it?:

Yes, but only if you watch it with the original ending and not the super shitty theatrical ending that defeats the ENTIRE POINT of the original story.

God didn’t do this. We did!


The Thing

A prequel to a horror classic. A group of scientists in Antarctica stumble across the greatest scientific find in human history: an alien life form thats been frozen in ice for thousands of years. However, when they bring it back to their base they certainly werent expecting the thing to still be alive.

Fear Factor:
2 / 5 Things

Gore Factor:
4 / 5 Fleshy appendages

Should you watch it?:

Only if you like John Carpenter’s original The Thing. Just be warned that this movie doesn’t come close to comparing to the original, bless its heart it tries though, but dont go in expecting it to compete. However, I will always defend this one, because despite all its faults I find it to be an extremely interesting movie. When compared with the original you get a very intriguing juxtaposition of how horror movies have changed over the years.

So, I’m gonna die because I floss?



A killer known as Jigsaw tries to give people an appreciation for life by throwing them into sadistic games wherein they must solve the puzzle or die trying.

Fear Factor:
2 / 5 Westleys

Gore Factor:
2.5 / 5 Hacksaws

Should you watch it?:

Umm, maybe? If you like Cary Elwes you should definitely see it, because its kind of hilarious seeing him in a movie like this. Otherwise? As a mystery its quite fun, but its rather lacking in the Horror department. The creepiness mostly just comes from them describing scary scenarios. Im glad I finally “saw it though.

Congratulations. You are still alive. Most people are so ungrateful to be alive. But not you. Not anymore.


The Thing

A strange visit to an American outpost in the Antarctic brings leaves them under siege by a strange and deadly creature that can infect and copy anyone it touches.

Fear Factor:
3 / 5 Dogs

Gore Factor:
4 / 5 Burn-its

Should you watch it?:

Hell YES! Its one of my all-time favorite Horror movies. Its got a monstrous alien, its got amazing 80's style practical effects, its got crazy WTF moments galore, its got a chilling setting, its got amazing one-liners, and its got Kurt Russel wearing the worlds dopest hat. It is just so much freaky good fun.

I don’t know what the hells in there, but its weird and pissed off, whatever it is.



An American ballet student transfers to a dance academy in Germany only to discover it has a dark and deadly secret!

Fear Factor:
1 / 5 Dubs

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Maggots

Should you watch it?:

Im glad I saw it, but I don't think I would really ever recommend it to anyone. It's got a number of interesting things about it, but it’s also super 70sy and the plot is much too slipshod for anything to be really scary.

Susie, do you know anything about... witches?


Evil Dead

A group of friends meet up at a remote cabin in the woods in order to help one of them beat her drug addiction, but while there they accidentally release an ancient evil. Now they’re being possessed one by one and their very souls are at stake.

Fear Factor:
4.3 / 5 Evils

Gore Factor:
5 / 5 Blood rains

Should you watch it?:

If you like your Horror scary and gory then yes, otherwise you’d better tag out for this one, my friend. While I know plenty of people who didnt find this movie as scary as I did, who cares! They can write their own darn lists. In terms of movies that actually freak ME out this one is probably my favorite. When I first saw it in theaters it seriously fucked me up in the head and I had to ask the girl I saw it with to hold my hand for a little bit afterward to restore my calm. It didnt get to me so bad when I watched it today, HOWEVER, it was definitely still putting me on edge. And when a movie is still freaking you out when youre watching it slightly drunk, rather tired, and with some fond memories of previous viewings? Well thats probably a sign that its pretty freaky.

You shouldn’t have touched anything from that basement.


--Keep in mind that ratings operates on a sliding scale. These are the basic guidelines and then things like Realism and Execution can raise or lower the base score.--

Guide to Fright Factor ratings:

0 - You’ve accidentally gotten a horror movie confused with your Yoga workout DVD.

1 - Sure there’s some “spooky” imagery/themes in here, but the same could be said of the Halloween section of a department store.

2 - You have started to feel afraid for the characters in the movie. Because...for the love of God, why are they splitting up? The killer is behind you! LOOK BEHIND YOU!

3 - The fear of the film has escaped into your real world. You’ll still go in the water, sure, but not with the same carefree abandon you once did.

4 - My door is locked, right? And the windows? I’m just going to go double check. Did...did you hear something? Ha ha...ha...have you seen my baseball bat?

5 - I’m going to need you to hold my hand to ground me in reality please. Just...oh dear sweet baby Jesus...oh, we’re all going to die. Why did I think I was brave enough to watch this?

Guide to Gore Factor ratings:

0 - Rom-com Level gore.
You might see such horrors as a sprained ankle or a newly delivered baby!

1 - Monster Level gore.
You’ll probably see some ooky-looking monsters. Possibly a touch of blood, perhaps even see a shadow doing something suggestive of violence to another shadow, but you probably really won’t be seeing anything worse than a cut.

2 - “I’m Serious” Level gore.
Here you might start to see the film trying to prove that their threat is really serious! They’ll show some some post-attack wounds or some blood sprays, but you’ll never see the actual infliction of the wound UNLESS the weapon is a knife. Horror films love knives so they can have “Oh! He cut her arm that means he’s serious”-kind of stuff, where a fake knife and some blood packets suggest a lot without really showing anything that bad. You might also see something like a person someone transforming into a monster, a monster transforming into an even oogier monster, someone getting an injection, or even a corpse of some sort.

3 - Witness Level gore.
Now we begin to see wounds actually being inflicted. You might see someone get bit or something lobbed off. Probably a fair bit of blood is being thrown around. Maybe even some organs making a brief appearance. The gorier bits are generally very quick though.

4 - WTF! Level gore.
At this level the movie is showing exaggerated levels of gore and trying to elicit a visceral reaction from you. It will undoubtedly feature all sorts of over-the-top crazy-ass shit that you really will never see in your lifetime (thank God). Maybe a head will be torn in two, maybe a person eaten alive, perhaps even an unfortunate encounter with some farm equipment or something!

5 - Look Away Level gore.
This movie has 100% completely crossed the point of no return and entered the realm of nightmarish blood bath. They are purposefully showing you all the grotesque shit they can think of in order to gross you the fuck out. Expect long-shots of really fucked-up things happening to people, and to be left with not only a queasy stomach, but also a sense that whoever made this movie has some serious issues.