Anime For Horror Fans- Part 1

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love anime. I love anime almost as much as I love horror, so it can be difficult to decide if I’m going to binge watch shows on Crunchyroll or watch a couple slashers. Still, there are times when I get really lucky and I manage to find a creepy anime that allows me to have my cake and eat it too.

The horror sub-genre of anime seems minuscule when compared to categories like mecha and high school romance. However, there are some spine-tingling shows out there that are bound to appeal to fans of horror. Ok, let’s list some!

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Shiki

Shiki is like Salem’s Lot, if Salem’s Lot was anime and set in rural Japan. I like Shiki, because it takes its time, developing characters and letting the dread build. It’s slow moving, but it never feels stagnant.

The particularly interesting thing about Shiki is that morality is not black and white. The humans have solid reasons for what they do, but the reasons of the vampires are just as valid. Both groups are desperate to assure their own survival. In this tragic vampire story, no one is good, no one is bad, and no one is safe.

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Hell Girl

Like Shiki, Hell Girl, or Jigoku Shoujo has an overall somber mood. The protagonist is Ai Enma, a young servant of the underworld who helps people get revenge, in exchange for their souls. Of course this plot is nothing new, but Hell Girl is unique because of the details.

Each person’s reason for forming a contract with Ai is different, and the viewer is able to observe a variety of characters and the situations that lead them to selling their souls. Then of course there’s the character of Ai herself. She struggles with understanding human emotion, and often spends time pondering the ways people think and act. She may be scary as hell, but she’s more sad than evil. If you want to see a new take on the underworld, give Hell Girl a watch.

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Another

If you want pure J-horror, Another is the way to go. Another follows a boy who starts at a new school, only to meet a girl that no one else seems able to see. He quickly comes to learn that his class is cursed, and the other students believe that his presence has set the curse in motion.

Another comes complete with ghosts, creepy dolls, and gory deaths. Some of the deaths are pretty spectacular, too. One girl manages to trip on the stairs, and impale herself on her own umbrella!

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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni/When They Cry

If someone asked me which horror anime is the best, I’d have to go with Higurashi. Higurashi is so special in terms of structure and plot that nothing compares. Like Another, Higurashi revolves around a teen boy who moves to a small village that may be cursed. The more he learns about the town and the curse, the more he begins to suspect that his friends are out to get him.

Higurashi is intriguing, because the story is told in arcs that span 4 episodes. Then, things reset and we’re presented with a new situation. Though, every arc is different, the story keeps some things consistent, so the plot is able to keep moving forward. Something that seems insignificant in one arc, may be a huge aspect of a different arc. In that respect, Higurashi forces you to pay attention, and try and put the pieces together. If you’re looking for a complete mind screw, here you go.

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Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent is one of the creepiest, most psychologically intense animes I can think of. I’ve often heard creator Satoshi Kon’s works compared to those of David Lynch or Darren Aronofsky. While it’s a fair comparison, Kon has a style that is all his own.

I don’t want to give too much away about Paranoia Agent, but I will give you a brief overview. The 13 episode series follows a young animator who created a popular “Hello Kitty” type character. She begins to suffer severe anxiety over her efforts to spawn another hit mascot. Then, late one night she is attacked by a mysterious rollerblading boy who carries a bat. Her assailant is dubbed Lil Slugger, and reports start pouring in of people being attacked by him. If you’ve ever secretly wished for something bad to happen in order to get out of a tough situation, then you need to see this anime.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to horror anime. Even if you hate anime, I hope that you’ll give these shows some attention. I promise they’re well worth it. I’ll be doing a whole series of anime articles like this one, so be sure to follow us right here (AHH Blog) and on Twitter (@HallowsHaunts) for more.

Lola’s Creepy Christmas Countdown- Part 1

It’s that time of year again, folks. Yes, the time of year where shoppers lose their minds, families are forced to bond against their will, and everyone feels the acute sting of loneliness. All joking aside, Christmas is a blast! One of my favorite ways of celebrating is to pull out my favorite spooky Christmas films and TV episodes. I’ve always felt that these little pearls of holiday gore are rare and hard to come by. However, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that there’s actually quite the selection available. So today, I present part 1 of my top 10 creepy tales of Christmas, wrapped in human flesh and topped with a bow. Enjoy!

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10. The Children

I’m going to be honest, I don’t like kids. I don’t like them at all. I didn’t even like kids when I was one. That’s why The Children has so much appeal for me. The Children follows a family on Christmas vacation that becomes the prey of their own rabid offspring. These little shits are vicious, and the result is a delightful bloodbath.

 

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9. Wind Chill

I love a good stuck on the road film. Car travel lends itself well to horror. In Wind Chill, two young college students are forced to battle the elements, each other, and the supernatural. This film stars Emily Blunt before she exploded into Hollywood stardom. The Christmas aspect of the movie is relegated to the background, but the winter atmosphere is front and center. The supernatural mystery is compelling, but the real star of Wind Chill is the relationship between the two main characters.

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8. Krampus

If I were to crown a king of holiday horror, it’d be Michael Dougherty. With Krampus, Dougherty takes the humor of Christmas Vacation and gives it a macabre makeover. Fans of horror, have been waiting a long time to see the legend of Krampus come to life on the big screen and Dougherty doesn’t disappoint. The creature design is spot on. From the toys, to the elves, to of course Krampus, it’s clear that there was a good deal of consideration put in to creating a world that could stand on its own. The humans that populate this realm manage to hold their own as well. My favorite performances come from David Koechner and Conchata Ferrell. If you’re looking for a horror film that completely embodies the spirit of the season, look no further.

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7. Tales From the Crypt- And All Through the House

Before the HBO TV series, Tales From the Crypt was adapted into one hell of a movie. The 1972 film opens with “And All Through the House“, the tale of a woman who murders her husband and becomes the target of a homicidal Santa. This story was later used on the show, but I prefer the film version. The story itself is way wacky. The show takes the over the top script in the expected humorous direction, and the result is fun and strange. However it can’t compare to the solemn approach of the movie. The serious nature of the the film version, creates a startling surrealistic contrast between the story and the overall vibe. This is what makes and “All Through the House” so downright freaky. My advice, don’t pick Christmas to murder your spouse.

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6. The X-Files – How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

As much as I love The X-Files, it’s easy to become annoyed with Mulder and Scully. They’re two characters that are flawed to the core, and that’s what makes them seem so human, so real. Still, there’s a lot of stuff I always wanted to rip them each a new asshole over. Well that’s exactly what happens in the season 6 episode “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas“. Over the course of the episode, Mulder and Scully become trapped on Christmas Eve inside a haunted house. There they meet two annoying ghosts played by Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner. These ghosts psychoanalyze the partners exposing their shortcomings and doubts. The episode features a fantastic set and some seriously witty dialogue. To this day, I still use the phrase “paramasturbatory”.

 

Nina Forever-A Blood Spattered Romance

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Nina Forever is a macabre romance about what happens when old loves and old memories refuse to die. The film follows in the footsteps of other recent zombie love stories like Life After Beth and Burying the Ex. Unlike those films, Nina Forever is not a fun romantic comedy. It is a profound and painful journey through a relationship that is doomed to fail.

The film follows Holly, a young woman with an attraction to death. Her morbid fascination causes her to fall for Rob, a formerly suicidal man who is still grieving for his dead ex, Nina. Their relationship is great at first. However, when they hit the sheets, Nina comes between them… literally. In a grotesque scene worthy of David Cronenberg, Nina somehow grows like a plant from the bed. Of course Holly and Rob are stunned and terrified. Nina wastes no time accusing Rob of cheating on her. She then proceeds to berate Holly. Rob unsure of what to do, ends up doing nothing. His inaction results in Holly dashing out in anger. The next morning she returns prepared to tackle their little “Nina” situation.

The pair spend the rest of the film attempting to negotiate their relationship around Nina. First, Holly tries to make Nina part of their life together. She does this by getting Nina’s name tattooed on her and by including Nina in their sexual escapades. When that doesn’t work, they try ignoring her. Finally they try making peace with Nina’s death, but the presence of Nina is inescapable. Ultimately, Holly ends up being the one stuck with Nina, forever ending her relationship with Rob.

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It’s hard to say for sure what exactly the message is behind Nina Forever, but a few things are clear. Nina represents the past that the characters can’t move on from. In Holly’s case, Nina represents an obsession with darkness. Nina herself insists throughout the movie that she doesn’t want to keep coming back. She wishes to remain dead. Nina’s existence ranges from painful to numb. The film doesn’t provide any clear cut answers, but it does raise some excellent questions. Do the living drag on the memory of the dead for our own benefit, rather than theirs? Can a person overcome their past, or will it always just keep popping up like Nina?

The actors are all superb. Cian Barry plays the brooding Rob well. His is not the most exciting role in the film, but his personality gives it a bit more edge than it might have otherwise. Barry has smoking hot chemistry with his co-star Abigail Hardingham who plays Holly. Hardingham stands out as the vulnerable young woman with many layers. She shines in every scene she’s in. Don’t be surprised if she starts showing up in more and more indie films. Finally, there’s Fiona O’Shaughnessy as Nina. With her captivating features, and unique voice O’Shaughnessy is the perfect Nina. She provides witty banter, all while being sexy in the most creepy way possible.

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Another major score for Nina Forever is the music. “Nina” features music from indie rockers like Amanda Palmer and Minnesota band The Ladybrugs. The music contributes to the hip vibe of the overall film. It adds a layer of fun, to an otherwise sad movie.

Nina Forever is a love story for those who prefer their romance blood soaked rather than sugar coated. While perhaps not entirely cohesive, this film by Chris Blaine and Ben Blaine has plenty to offer. At its best, Nina Forever is an examination of what it means to be alive and in love. While it is not a scary film, the blood, the undead girlfriend, and the general weirdness more than solidify its place in the horror genre. Fans of these mumblegore films should keep their eyes peeled for the next Blaine brothers project.