Mailbag: May 23, 2016

Welcome to another exciting installment of the Horror Writers mailbag!  Thanks for the questions.

Did you see the Rec saga? – @NicoLasaigues

I have seen the first three, and I really enjoyed all of them.  Like a true American, I saw Quarantine first (USA! USA!), so I think that colored my judgment of the first Rec.  I enjoyed it, but I thought Quarantine was better, mainly because I love Jennifer Carpenter and thought she absolutely CRUSHED that role.

The first two were good.  It has been a while since I’ve seen them, so details are a bit scarce.  I’m a fan of any sequel that is able to expand upon the world of the first one without feeling tacked on.  We went deeper into the mythology of the infection and learned exactly what it was.  The mood of the two matched up perfectly.  I probably need to go back and rewatch those.

The third film was a marked departure from the first two.  The fundamentals of the infections were still there, but the feel was totally different and it involved a completely different scenario.  No longer were we confined to the apartment complex.  It felt more like a Return of the Living Dead movie than a Rec movie. It started off found footage, but switched roughly 20 minutes in when the groom, after asking, “Why are you still filming?” smashed the camera – and a well-worn found footage trope – into oblivion.  That allowed the movie to expand.  No longer were we bound to a hand-held camera for the duration of the film.  Which was good, because I didn’t want shaky footage of the groom donning a suit of armor; I wanted that crystal clear, and I got it.
Rec 3 was bonkers crazy and I loved it dearly.  Also, for a crazy zombie movie, they did a great job making me care about the two leads.  I was really rooting for those crazy kids to make it.  Plus, they’re beautiful people.

rec 3 - wedding
What are your top ten horror series on TV (cable or otherwise?) You can include mini series, too – @Real_Cesca

1. The X-Files – Sure, it begins to wane in season six and never recovers, but this was still five solid seasons of creepiness.  (It’s worth noting that the season 10 comic book run is a lot of fun.  I still haven’t dug into season 11, but it’s on my list.)
2. The Twilight Zone – Being an older show, some of the ironic twists can induce eye-rolling, but this show still holds up.  There are a ton of iconic moments/episodes.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – You can debate whether this is horror or not, but there are lots of monsters involved, so I’m making an executive decision.  The descent starts in season 5 (thanks Dawn), but there are still great moments scattered throughout.
4. Twin Peaks – Again, you can debate whether or not this is horror, but it revolves around murder committed by a possessed man, so I say it fits the bill.  Combine that with the owls not being what they seem and The Black Lodge, and I feel comfortable calling this a horror series.  Agent Dale Cooper is one of my all-time favorite TV characters.
5. Hannibal – A beautiful, beautiful show.  The fact that this lasted 3 seasons on network TV is a miracle.
6. Penny Dreadful – Like Hannibal, this is a beautiful show.  It’s a perfect setting to bring monsters to life in a way that actually feels real.  The acting on this show is tremendous.  Eva Green deserves every award ever made.  I’m fully convinced that she is totally out of her mind.
7. The Walking Dead – I honestly don’t think I believe it should be this high.  What am I doing here?  The first season was dynamite, and there have been enough great moments since then to justify putting it at 7.  I guess.  I don’t know, man.  This last season was great up until the last two episodes, so maybe there are even better things to come?  I think I just talked myself out of this ranking, but now I’m too lazy to change it.
8. iZombie – It’s basically Psych, except the fake physic is a zombie who gets visions from the brains that she eats.  It’s fun, and justifies this ranking based on Ravi alone.  That dude kills me.
9. Tales From the Darkside – It’s basically George Romero’s Twilight Zone.  I don’t know why, but I spent an entire week watching a ton of these episodes and I really enjoyed it.  That was a good week.
10. Sleepy Hollow – It had some plots that threatened to take the show off the rails, but it always righted itself.  I enjoyed every season of this show.

Just missing the cut:
Ash vs. Evil Dead – The first season was good, but I’m not ready to have it crack the top 10 based on one fun season.
Damien – Ditto Ash vs. Evil Dead.  I love the tone of this show, but I want to see more than one pretty good season.
Tales From the Crypt – I know, I know.  I will probably have to turn in my horror fan card after leaving it off the top 10.  I caught a couple episodes as a kid, but I didn’t grow up with it.  I’ve gone back and watched a couple episodes as an adult and it just didn’t do much for me.  I can appreciate what it did, but it doesn’t crack the top 10.
Millennium – It ran for three seasons, but they were all pretty good.  There were quite a few legitimately creepy moments in this show.

Movies that, sadly, DO NOT hold up and then ruin your nostalgic feelings of them. – @lcfremont

I’m not gonna lie to you guys: this was a pretty sad list to make.  Let’s just get to it.  I’m having a hard time writing through my tears.
I didn’t want to just go with “a product of the time,” movies, because that can’t really be helped.  Plus, it would basically be a bunch of computer movies (The Net, Hackers, Swordfish, etc.) and that’s really uninteresting.  I also don’t have many horror movies on my list, as I didn’t watch many growing up.

Highlander – Sweet fancy Moses this movie is bad.  Like, REALLY bad.  First of all, I was convinced that MacLeod was played by Vigo the Carpathian for a decent portion of the movie.  So that was confusing.  The soundtrack is comprised of music by Queen, so it should be decent, but it’s the worst of Queen.  “Who wants to live forever?”  Apparently this movie does, because it’s 116 minutes long for reasons known to nobody.  The only entertaining part of this movie is Clancy Brown as The Kurgan, and that’s because he seems to be the only one who knows just how bad this movie is.  He’s chewing scenery like it’s his job, which I guess it kind of was.

The NeverEnding Story – Let me start off by saying this: the scene in the Swamps of Sadness is still heartbreaking.  So it has that going for it.  Or going against it, depending on how you want to look at it.
Anyway, this movie is super cheesy and doesn’t look great.  I understand that “cheesiness” comes down to the fact that it is a sci-fi children’s movie.  It wasn’t really meant for adults.  As an adult who has seen a fair share of movies, I not only dislike this movie, but I look down on the younger version of myself for ever liking it.  For shame, Young Dusty.  For shame.

The Princess Bride – I thought this was a fun movie.  I enjoyed it.  I never gave it a whole lot of thought, but it was an enjoyable movie.  Then I went to college and, for some reason, every single person there thought this was the best movie of all time.  All of them.  Granted, it was a small Christian college, but there were still several thousand people there.  So I watched it with a group and hated it.  HATED it.  I tried watching it again afterwards and was just annoyed.  Part of my dislike is a product of that experience, but part of it is just that I don’t think it’s a very good movie.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – As a child, it was all, “Jason punched someone’s head off!”  Then you grow up and realize that this movie is awful.  For “taking Manhattan”, Jason spends precious little time in the city.  For over half the movie, we are stuck on a boat with the worst kinds of high schoolers.  One girl is just trying to make a terrible music video the whole time.  And yeah, the head punching scene is fun…

friday13th-head_punching…but it’s not worth the rest of the movie being garbage.  Watching this taught me that a movie needs more than one scene to make it a good movie.

Troll – I know that Troll 2 is a laughingstock, but I feel like too many people are sleeping on the original.  I remember watching this as a child and being scared.  I recently rewatched it and was horrified – HORRIFIED – that I ever found this remotely scary.  It’s not even in the “so bad it’s good” category.  It’s just bad.  Listen: I still love Ghoulies and Critters, so it’s not like I hate these odd, mid-80s creature movies.  But Troll is bad.  Really, really bad.

Event Horizon – I remembered this as being a ridiculously scary movie, but now all I see is Sam Neill hamming it up all over the place.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – The majority of children are dumb.  I was one of those dumb children.  I liked this because there was punching and they had monkey brains on the table.  Those were the only two reasons.  As it turns out, the monkey brains aren’t that cool and lots of movies have punching in them.

I’m sure there are more, but I’ve ruined my childhood enough for one day, thank you very much.  Chime in with your own in the comments.

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