Under the House

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I didn’t crawl under the house

The damn thing fell on me

My broken toes peeking out

A wicked witch parody

 

Like The Fall of the House of Usher

Another woman screaming in the night

With clawing bloody fingers

Body adorned in white

 

Trapped beneath the weight

Of a fate just not worth living

Below the pale stars

Neither forthright nor forgiving

 

Those celestial dancers

Eyes appointed to preside

Over the Hell where we reside

 

From Gothic to suburban

The housewife with her bourbon

The gypsy in her turban

 

Even the devil is down here with me

He’s a fallen angel too, you see

 

He likes to whisper in my ear

“It’s not so bad down here”

“Close your eyes, my dear”

 

I find relief at his behest

Yes there is shade

There is rest

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10 Lady Horror Villain Costumes to rock this Halloween.

Halloween is a great opportunity to dress like some of our favorite characters. While most of our horror icons, are dastardly lads, there are plenty of wicked ladies out there too. Maybe you’re a girl who’s bored with the whole female Freddy thing. Perhaps you’re a dude who’d like to get in on the whole gender-bending craze. Either way, here’s a list of costume concepts that will excite any horror fan!

1. Lola – The Loved Ones

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When talking about psycho prom dates, Carrie is the queen supreme. Still, Lola from The Loved Ones is not a girl to take lightly. When she fails to obtain the attention of her high school crush, she sets up her own prom for just the two of them. Lola’s idea of prom includes torture and lobotomy, all with a little help from her daddy. For this costume just get a hot pink dress, a crown, a drill, and maybe some blood. Also this could make a cool couple’s costume, if your significant other wants to go as her date, Brent.

2. Esther- Orphan

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She’s just an unloved orphan having difficulty adjusting to her new home, right? Wrong! In reality, Esther is a childlike adult with psychotic tendencies. Once she sets her eyes on her new father, it’s just a matter of getting rid of her other inconvenient family members. Dressing as Esther presents a range of options. The easiest Esther look requires an old school blue dress, pigtails, bows, and maybe some white tights.

3. Sadako- Ringu

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A cursed videotape, a well, a vengeful ghost? Yep, we’re talking about Sadako from Ringu. Sadako is possibly the most well known onryo (vengeful ghost) in Japanese cinema. There are at least 6 books, and 7 movies existing in the Ringu universe. Over the course of time, Sadako’s history has become muddled. Still, her appearance has always remained the same. To rock Sadako’s look, you need a tattered white dress, long black hair, and the ability to crawl out of the television. I wish you luck with that last part.

4. Thomasin- The Witch

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The 1600s were a tough time to be alive, especially when there’s witchery afoot. In The Witch, poor Thomasin and her family are banished to the woods. As their religious zealotry grows, so does the power of evil. A proper Thomasin outfit needs Puritan garments and a bonnet. To really make it clear who you are, find a stuffed black goat.

5. Mary – American Mary

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Katharine Isabelle is something of a horror goddess, and Mary Mason is one of her best characters to date. For those who haven’t seen the film, Mary starts out as an on edge med student. Then she is raped as her professor’s party. Mary decides to put her surgical skills to work. She uses her medical capabilities to seek revenge on those that abused her, but can she stop at simple revenge? Mary’s outfit is easy to master. You just need a basic white top, black pencil skirt with tights, a pair of black heels, and a black vinyl apron. I’d also add a surgical mask,  some gloves, and some bloody surgical tools.

6. Baby Jane Hudson- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

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Bette Davis is my absolute favorite actress, because she just got better with age. Her finest work is Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Those of us who’ve seen the movie know that Baby Jane grew up to be a bitter alcoholic, who dominates her paralyzed sister. As the film goes on Jane becomes more and more delusional. Jane believes in all sincerity that she will become a Hollywood star again, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her dream alive. If you want to transform into Baby Jane Hudson, you’ll need a frilly light colored dress, red lipstick, messy curls, and a baby doll. It also helps if you walk around singing “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy”.

7.  Nina – Black Swan

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Like Baby Jane, Black Swan’s Nina cracks under the pressure of trying to be a star in a competitive field. Ballet is tough enough as it is. If you throw in an overbearing mother, a lecherous choreographer, some repressed sexual desires, and few hallucinations you get the absolute insanity that is Black Swan. To look like Nina as the Black Swan, wear a black tutu, tights, some ballet style shoes, a tiara, some dark makeup, and red contacts.

8.  The Female- Hellraiser Series

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Huge Clive Barker fan? Are you a master at makeup? Maybe The Female is the right costume for you. The Female was a nun until she opened the box. She was then whisked away to Hell, where she became a cenobite. If you’re a diehard horror fan looking to impress with your costume, give this one a shot. To turn into the lovely female cenobite, you’re going to need some FX supplies, a wig cap, a ton of blue and grey makeup, and a black leather wardrobe.

9. Moira- American Horror Story

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I’m hesitant to bring up American Horror Story. I was really into the first couple seasons, but then it just kind of descended into self indulgent chaos. Still, Murder House was pretty awesome. If you’re interested in going as one of the AHS ladies, I suggest sexy maid, Moira. While Moira is seen by women as her true age, men see her as a young pin-up babe. This is her curse to carry. Before the events of Murder House, Moira made the mistake of becoming involved with Constance’s (Jessica Lange) husband. This led to rape attempts, jealousy, and ultimately Constance shooting Moira’s eye out. To perfect this costume, pick up some maid attire and play around with retro makeup and hair. I’d also make one eye nice and gross.

10. Dracula’s Brides- Dracula

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This costume really only works in a trio, but what devilish beauties you will be.  The Brides are timeless icons. There have been many depictions of the bloodsucking group throughout the years. Usually they’re depicted as mysterious and captivating. I can picture tons of options when it comes to these vampiric vixens. I like the traditionally elegant look, but a modern twist could be fun too. Let your creativity take over and see what you come up with. My only advice is to make sure the three of you at least kind of match.

There you go! Hopefully this list helps you to come up with a unique Halloween costume that you feel proud of. If you liked this article, please follow us here on the blog and also on Twitter. @HallowsHaunts Happy Haunting!

“Ghost and Legends” Coming to The Queen Mary

October is officially here! And that means we’re in the middle of haunt season! Now, no stranger to Haunts and ghosts, the Queen Mary made an announcement this week when it revealed its new year round attraction, “Ghost and Legends.”

Per the official press release for the Queen Mary:

“The Queen Mary, dubbed one of the top 10 most haunted places on Earth by Time Magazine, is pleased to unveil the newly-intensified and re-inspired Ghost and Legends, opening to the public on Friday, October 20. Offered year-round, thrill seekers and scare enthusiasts are invited to board the haunted RMS Queen Mary to test their fears in the world’s largest interactive and fully immersive haunted attraction. Experience the spirit legends of the Queen Mary first-hand with all-new special effects, cutting-edge technology and, of course, the chance to encounter paranormal activity for a one-of-a-kind, spine-chilling, fun time.”

Brian Luallen, Director of Entertainment Events, for The Queen Mary, stated:
““The new Ghosts and Legends offers guests an entirely different level of the traditional haunted experience. We crafted terrifying original stories and characters based the ship’s well-known paranormal tales and hot-spots onboard the Queen Mary to create a truly thrilling, immersive, and unique encounter.”

Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is already considered to be one the premier haunt events of the Halloween season. The addition of “Ghost and Legends” appears to be taking them to a whole new level of haunt entertainment. With the attraction being year round, the ship is about to get a whole lot busier and more exciting!

The press release ended with the best part: the attraction is only $15 for adults and $12 for children:

“Ghost and Legends haunted experience aboard the Queen Mary will open on Friday, October 20 at 11 a.m. The year-round attraction will be open daily and runs every 30 minutes starting at 11 a.m., accommodating up to 30 guests per experience. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children and are available at http://www.queenmary.com/tickets/. For more information, including hours or to purchase tickets online, please visit queenmary.com”

The team here at All Hallows’ Haunts are already big fans of Dark Harbor. Now, with “Ghost and Legends,” Queen Mary will become a place we will frequent more often throughout the year.

Be sure to follow us here and on Twitter (@HallowsHaunts) for more information on Dark Harbor, Ghosts and Legends and other Halloween, Horror and Haunt events in Southern California.

(Cover photo courtesy of the Queen Mary.)

IT- No Clowning Around

 

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It has only been out for a week, and it’s already completely smashed box office records and blown up social media feeds. It’s seeming likely, that this latest Stephen King remake/adaptation will be the biggest horror movie of the year. Perhaps I’m a bit late to the game, but I figured I’d chime in anyway. It’s taken me some time to compile my thoughts on this one. My feelings are rather jumbled.

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For those of you that have somehow remained unaware, It follows a group of kids trying to stop an ancient evil disguised as a clown. Of course the first element I need to address is the clown, Pennywise. While Tim Curry left some large clown shoes to fill, Skarsgard is a worthy replacement. Skarsgard’s Pennywise doesn’t speak as much as Curry’s, but he’s just as menacing. His fish like eyes that tend to cross, and the weird way he trails off when speaking hint at him being something far more sinister. In the book, it’s quite clear that Pennywise is a Lovecraftian-ish entity. While Curry’s interpretation is more entertaining, Skarsgard’s feels more in line with King’s original vision.

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While Skarsgard’s performance is top notch, it’s the kids who carry the movie. Each of the children stand out as individual characters. Not a single one of them failed to measure up. The interactions between them are humorous, emotional, and authentic. The relationships of the kids in It have been compared to that of the children in Stranger Things. That’s a fair comparison, and audience members that enjoyed one are bound to enjoy the other. While the young actors of It deserve the most credit for bringing their roles to life, director Andy Muschietti is owed praise as well. It can be difficult to work with child/teen actors, and Muschietti managed to bring the best out of all seven of them. Sophia Lillis as Beverly is particularly enchanting. I can see her becoming a household name.

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In addition to the acting, there’s also some bloody good cinematography. The version from 1990 was made for television, so the shots are practical rather than artistic. The new film is a theatrical release with a huge budget, so Muschietti was able to integrate more cinematic camera techniques. The movie is full to the brim of grand drone shots of Derry and slick slow-motion. The scene that stands out for me is the one where Beverly is listening to the voices bubbling up from the sink drain. Then the entire bathroom is splattered with blood in slow motion, while she screams her head off.

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Unfortunately, not all of the visuals hold up. I had a problem with the lighting in most of the interior scenes. While the low lighting worked for the outdoor scenes, it made the indoor scenes just too dark to see. Sometimes even the characters eyes weren’t lit. It’s a small thing, but it makes a world of difference. Horror filmmakers need to learn that just because the subject matter is dark, it doesn’t mean it has to be visually dark.

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I also took issue with the majority of the scary scenes. There is something going on in the current state of horror, where every horror scene is designed to be manic. That’s definitely the case with It. The cuts are too fast, the sound is too loud, and the camera motion is just excessive. I’m a slow burn fan, so I prefer the creeping dread that exists in the form of stillness, or perhaps a room that’s just too quiet. Maybe the climax scene could have benefited from the chaos, but when every Pennywise scene is that wild, the effect wears off fast. It seems like it’s trying too hard. Think about being at a haunted house. What’s creepier, the guy in a mask shouting in your face, or that thing in the lurking in a corner that you only get a glimpse of?

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As long as we’re discussing the scares, I should point out that there were a few questionable effects. For the most part the movie used practical stuff, thank God. Still there were a couple times I caught some weird CGI. The most glaring example is at the beginning. Pennywise is tempting Georgie to get closer to him. Georgie moves in slowly, and then Pennywise opens his ridiculous CGI mouth and chomps down on Georgie’s arm. I wouldn’t say it ruined the scene, but it made it less enjoyable for sure.

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My complaints aside, I’d still give this film a favorable review. If I had to offer a grade, I’d give it a solid B minus. I explained my issues with it to a friend, and he made the point that this movie still signifies that big budget horror is moving in the right direction. I have to agree. While It is not a great film by any stretch, it stands miles above the likes of other theatrical horror films. Still, I think I’ll stick with wacky Tim Curry.

Do you want more AHH in your life? Follow my personal Twitter account @LolaTarantula and our blog @HallowsHaunts.  We can also be found on Facebook All Hallows’ Haunts.

Alice Cooper’s Paranormal Album

Annabelle Creation: They’ve Created a Monster

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Please note: Annabelle in italics refers to the film, while plain text Annabelle refers to the character.

Annabelle: Creation is the cinematic form of Frankenstein’s monster. By that I mean it’s a bunch of parts stitched together to make an abomination trying to pass itself off as the real deal. The film desperately tries to cram in all of the usual possession film tropes in order to create tension. Since the tension is never allowed to evolve naturally, the results feel heavy handed and laughable. At this point, Hollywood’s desperation to imitate the James Wan aesthetic is nothing more than a pathetic cash grab.

This catastrophe revolves around a group of young orphans sent to live in the country with a couple of doll makers. These doll makers are of course the creators of the original Annabelle who was modeled after their daughter. When their daughter dies tragically, they seal her room away with the doll in it. The arrival of the young girls triggers her awakening. Terror ensues.

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The first problem of Annabelle: Creation is that there is just too much happening. The film tries to introduce about 50 set pieces. There’s a tea set, a dollhouse, a scarecrow, a stairlift, and more. While each of these elements could be wicked cool on their own, none of them are ever given the proper amount of time to shine.

Then we have the forced supernatural atmosphere. I’m convinced someone over at Blumhouse has a checklist of all the cliches that need to be shoved into every modern horror film. Annabelle: Creation provides all the usual suspects including loud string music, fake jump scares, and little girls bending like contortionists. Unfortunately all of the tropes leave little room for actual plot. For example, a demon possesses the doll, and it needs a human host. Why? I couldn’t tell you. It already has a physical form. Plot holes like this can be found popping up throughout the entire movie.

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Another unavoidable issue with the film is that the doll is absurd looking. They tried way too hard to make her look creepy. No one would buy a doll that ugly. She looks like a Halloween decoration. Dolls are inherently creepy. It’s just unnecessary to take it so far. In a campy film like Dolly Dearest, this approach works. However in a gravely serious supernatural horror/drama it does not.

In all honesty, I’ve never cared for Annabelle. I didn’t like her in The Conjuring. The Annabelle portion of The Conjuring always seemed out of place, like that subplot was an afterthought. I absolutely despised the first Annabelle spinoff, and this latest addition isn’t much better.

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Annabelle: Creation does contain some spooky stuff, but the majority of the film is messy and unentertaining. While the setting and costumes are appealing, no amount of scenery can make up for the lack of a good story. I love The Conjuring 2 and Ouija: Origins, but I’m starting to think it might be time to put the “little girls getting possessed” narrative back into the coffin. Anyone with me?

If you want to read more articles like this one, follow our blog and be sure to follow us on Twitter @HallowsHaunts. For professional inquiries reach out to us (allhallowshaunts@gmail.com). I can also be found on Etsy, selling stuff for weird girls on my store page, Lola Tarantula.

Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Unveils Chef

Halloween Horror Nights at Midsummer Scream

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One of the biggest attractions at Midsummer Scream is always Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Every year fans gather in a room to hear any bit of news from HHN’s creative team, John Murdy and Chris Williams. This panel always draws an enthusiastic bunch of haunt fans, and this year was no exception.

Before jumping into the new stuff, they provided some background information regarding how they became involved in Horror Nights. Both men painted rosy pictures of their childhood love of monsters, and how it inspired them later in life.  None of this was news to me, but Murdy and Williams were as charismatic as usual, so it was still entertaining.

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As for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, they walked the audience through pictures chronicling the process of building The Shining maze. They promised the Grady sisters, room 237, Danny on his tricycle, “Here’s Johnny”, and of course the famous carpet. Murdy stated that his goal with this maze is to capture the slow burning dread of the movie.

They delved into scare zones a bit, too. One of the scare zones will be Hell on Earth set in New York City. Guests can expect to see an assortment of demons roaming the streets. HHN always creates top notch monsters/effects, so haunt lovers will definitely be in for a devilish treat.

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Finally, for those super fans, Universal is bringing back their VIP tours known as the R.I.P. Experience. This walking tour includes front of the line passes to everything in the park, free valet parking, special entry, a buffet dinner, and reserved seats for shows.

Keep your peepers here for updates about Halloween Horror Nights. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter at @HallowsHaunts. We’ve got lots of spooky stuff in store this Halloween season, and you won’t want to miss it.

 

Midsummer Scream’s Hall of Shadows 2017

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Hey weirdos! This article marks the beginning of my Midsummer Scream coverage. My weekend consisted of attending panels, buying spooky shit, and of course walking through haunts in the Hall of Shadows.

For those unfamiliar, the Hall of Shadows is a gigantic blacked out, fogged out space where SoCal haunters set up miniature versions of their Halloween attractions. This year’s Hall of Shadows featured 14 mazes of a wide variety.

My favorites included Hyde Street Massacre, Cold Storage, and The Maritime Horror. Hyde Street Massacre felt like an adaptation of Jack the Ripper. This walk-through included enough blood and screaming girls to keep even Leatherface appeased. The gritty slasher atmosphere made it fun and easy to understand. Some of the other haunts tried to cram complicated stories into their very brief mazes, so the simplicity of Hyde Street Massacre was appreciated.

My 2nd favorite was Cold Storage by Terror Trucks. Cold storage is a high tech haunt trailer. Like Hyde Street Massacre, Cold Storage made use of an easily recognizable genre trope. There is a zombie outbreak, and you’re trying to escape. Cliche? Yes, but what made this maze so special, was all of the little tricks and traps. The maze began with a horde of digital zombies banging on the door in front of you. You’re led down an alternative route with a shaky bridge and one of those puffy marshmallow tunnels that squeezes you as you crawl through it. This one was definitely the most interactive of the 14. While none of the effects were anything groundbreaking, I was quite impressed that they could work all of that stuff into such a small trailer.

Finally, there’s The Maritime Horror. The Maritime Horror utilized a Lovecraftian sea theme to add a bit of literary spice to their attraction. Guests were treated to an assortment of aquatic monsters inspired by the master of weird fiction. This one was pretty quick, so I don’t have much to say about it, but I did like the theme.

Other haunts I enjoyed were Gorelesque, Mutation Analysis Center, Apparition Adventure: Terror Twins, Mable’s 6 Feet Under, and Higgins Manor. I didn’t care for last year’s Gorelesque, so I was pleased to see that they stepped it up this year. Gorelesque is basically exactly what it sounds like, horror combined with burlesque aspects. This year’s attraction used a creepy cult recruitment video, and a talented actress to coerce the audience into taking “pills” designed to make you perfect. This one stood out for me, because it was unique. I liked that it was more performance based than the rest.

Mutation Analysis Center was another “viral outbreak” maze. It used a multitude of glowing elements and neon colors to provide a radioactive feel. This maze was a grand buffet for the eyes.

Apparition Adventure: Terror Twins contained a found footage theme. Guests were ushered into a small room and shown a video of a ghost hunter assuring people that the hauntings had stopped. Of course, right at that moment two ghostly twins flashed by on the screen. Then haunt fans were led into the maze full of spirit children and paranormal activity. This one was very cute in a home haunt kind of way. I could tell they put a lot of work into it, and their efforts showed.

Mable’s 6 Feet Under was the only haunt that was an actual maze. Throughout the maze, you think you’re walking towards the exit, but you’re actually being led to a dead end. You’re then forced to turn around and go back towards the front, where there was a secret exit. The maze’s best feature was the confusing signs labeled with the names of the other mini haunts with arrows pointing in every direction.

Higgins Manor was your typical gothic mansion full of Victorian decor and brooding characters with homicidal inclinations. This one wasn’t a standout for me, but it intrigued me enough that I’d be willing to check out a full length version.

As for the ones I didn’t care for, I wouldn’t say there were any I actively disliked. However, there were a few that just didn’t quite measure up. Mazes like The Fleshyard, The Last of Man, and Grimm’s Hallow failed to deliver.

The Fleshyard was a bizarre space themed haunt, that seemed to be lacking in actors. It consisted of a few hallways that all looked the same and a giant pit of packing peanuts at the end. I’ve heard from others that there were more actors in it, so maybe when I went through they were just all on break. Still, this one didn’t impress me.

The Last of Man by Unhallowed wasn’t too bad. I liked the front facade and the characters in gas masks. However, when writing this article, this one was the most difficult to recall which leads me to believe it wasn’t especially memorable.

Then there’s Grimm’s Hallow by Phobia Productions. To be honest, I couldn’t even figure out what the theme of this maze was supposed to be until I checked the program. Apparently, Grimm’s Hallow was supposed to be based on fairy tales and old world horror. The concept sounds amazing, but the talking trees and elves just left me perplexed. I’d like to see this haunt on a bigger scale, because I have a feeling it could turn out well if given more time and more space to work with.

Overall the Hall of Shadows offered a delightful sample of the treats Halloween season has in store. I had a blast going through each individual maze and seeing the tricks each haunt group had up their sleeve. Unfortunately the Hall of Shadows was limited by the same thing that limits all attractions- there are just too many people. The lines were long, due to the fact that each haunt could only allow so many people through at one time. I also thought the entryway theme by CalHaunts was a tad weak. It was supposed to be based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell if I hadn’t already known. Problems aside, I still believe the Hall of Shadows was a necessary addition to an already fantastic convention.

10 Creepy Films About Toxic Relationships – Part 1

I have a deep appreciation for human psychology, especially abnormal psych. A big part of psychology is how we relate to each other as human beings. Human relationships can be beautiful, and complex, and they can also be horrific. Today I’m listing some great films that examine the disturbing results that occur when fate brings the wrong people together. I’m breaking this article into two parts, because I don’t want it to get too long. (Keep in mind these are in no particular order.)

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301/302

301/302 is a Korean film that examines what happens when two people’s obsessions clash. The two female characters live next door to each other in an apartment complex, one is a chef and the other is a writer with anorexia. The chef ends up taking desperate measures to force the writer to sample her culinary talents. This film is weird, and funny, and gross. I like how it shows the histories of both women, allowing the viewer to understand how they came to be the way they are. There is an American remake of this film. It’s called Compulsion, and it stars Carrie-Anne Moss and Heather Graham. The original is by far the superior film, though.

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Silver Tongues

Silver Tongues is one of my favorite films about sociopaths. I’m shocked this movie isn’t more popular. It revolves around a couple that moves from place to place, finding people to psychologically toy with. Unlike 301/302, there is no deep reason for why the main characters do what they do, which makes it all the more troubling. They seem to just enjoy destroying the lives of others for kicks.

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Grimm Love

Grimm Love is one of the horror films released by Fangoria as part of their FrightFest. It stars Keri Russell as a psychology student studying a case that is based on Armin Meiwes, aka “The Rohtenburg Cannibal”. As many of you may know, Meiwes is known for convincing a man to let him eat him. Of course for the purposes of the movie, the names of the characters are changed and the details are scrambled about, but it preserves the shocking nature of the real crime. Russell puts in an excellent performance, and the film raises some interesting questions, like “What is love?”. I’m still saying it’s not cutting off a guy’s penis and eating it front of him, but hey, that’s just me.

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Bug

Bug is the story of the insanity that blossoms between a mysterious drifter and a battered woman. Bug can be considered a textbook example of Folie a deux. Folie a deux is a French term that basically means ” a madness of two”. It occurs when two people share a delusion. In order for Folie a deux to occur, there has to be isolation and one of the parties is dominant, while the other just sort falls in line with the delusion. In this William Friedkin film, Michael Shannon’s character convinces a damaged Ashley Judd, that the government has planted insects in their hotel room. It’s all downhill from there.

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Proxy

I don’t feel like I can say much about this film without giving plot points away. I guess I’ll just have to tell you something vague, like “No one is what they appear to be.” While, that’s true, it hardly does this movie justice. Proxy is bursting at the seams with well crafted shots, fascinating characters, and gut-wrenching violence.

What are some of your favorite horror/thrillers about toxic relationships. Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @HallowsHaunts.