Little Miss Scare-All

A college goth trying to find her way in the world.
Alien Day: How to properly celebrate the new holiday

Alien Day: How to properly celebrate the new holiday

For us horror lovers out there, there aren’t many holidays to catch our fancy. Halloween only comes around once a year and days such as Thanksgiving and New Years Eve just don’t electrify the senses. With the sudden inception of Alien Day, however, it looks like things are about to change.

The holiday is very much in its infancy stage, with only a few hardcore fans catching on and celebrating, so local geek hangouts aren’t having any significant events lined up. If it grows to be a well-established day, which is certainly possible with the power of social media, this could end up not being the case in years to come. A chestburster can dream…

But enough about what this day can morph into. What matters is the now, so here’s a few ways you can spend your first ever Alien Day.

Treat yo self

Photo courtesy of Mondo

Photo courtesy of Mondo

Here’s the deal. Finding Alien merch in person isn’t the easiest thing to do. The series isn’t at Star Wars level nor will it ever be, meaning that store walls will never be lined with Xenomorph plushies or Newt shirts. And for those times that you do come across an item or two, selection is so small that chances are you won’t be interested in what you find.

As usual, I’m promoting the internet. This time around, Mondo is probably your best bet.

They’ve prepped up for the holiday, offering up items ranging from pins to vinyl to ugly Christmas sweaters. There’s even an adorable facehugger ski mask available. I won’t deny that the selection is a bit on the pricey side, but when your options are limited, you sometimes have to take the financial plunge.

Have a double feature

It’d be silly to go through the day without watching at least one flick in the series. I’d call the act blasphemous, even. Personally, I’d suggest sticking to the first two, and I’m sure many others would agree. While David Fincher is a god among men, Alien 3 is a release that should forever be ignored.

If you only have time for one of the movies, duke it out with your friends and determine whether the first or the second is superior. They’re both stylized in exceedingly different ways leading to contrasting atmosphere techniques and character roles, but they both have something to offer.

My vote goes for the movie that started it all; you just can’t go wrong.

Start designing a cosplay piece

Photo courtesy of cosplayer mostlymade

Photo courtesy of cosplayer mostlymade

MegaCon is right around the corner, but there’s still time to take out the ol’ sewing machine and make yourself into a Queen Alien. It’ll be the first of many sleepless nights, I’m sure, but the payoff will be worth it. Conventions are so full of Deadpools and furries that putting together such a piece is a definite way to make yourself stand out in the crowd.

For those of you who have minimal skills when it comes to costuming, there’s still hope to be had. A Ripley cosplay is rather simple to do, with most of it revolving around little details rather than a grand design. Hey, you can even pick up a patch from Mondo to go with your outfit.

 

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Current partakers in bad horror misunderstand what makes the subcategory work

Current partakers in bad horror misunderstand what makes the subcategory work

Oversaturation is killer, even when it attaches itself to a realm so heavily focused on death.

The horror genre has been consumed with purposely bad horror flicks for quite a while, but recently I’ve been noticing an increase in this particular subcategory. This should come as no surprise.

Technology and the Internet have allowed your average inspired citizen to take on filmmaking and garner attention for their efforts. I’m not demonizing these attempts for there have been instances in which the Internet has allowed talented groups of people (no, I’m never going to shut up about my love for Tangerine) to reach acclaim, but it’s impossible to deny that such an entertainment setting has allowed undeserving pieces to float to the surface.

Photo courtesy of Radiograph Pictures

Photo courtesy of Radiograph Pictures

Pair this with the popularity of The Room and RiffTrax, which have re-sparked the general public’s interest in subpar movies, and you’ve got yourself creations such as Revenge of the Spacemen, which sports an unfortunate mess of a trailer that wishes to rely on minimal and misplaced retro horror aesthetics with little else backing the flick.

This subcategory may appear to be perfect for the average, uninformed director newbie because low budgets typically accompany these types of movies, making it ideal for those who can’t afford the proper equipment and aren’t attached to a studio. It comes across as an easy path to take, both in financial and marketing terms, but what ends up happening is that the finished work betrays a complete avoidance of the fact that quality must go into low-quality material.

Some of you who’ve been keeping up with Little Miss Scare-All since its inception may be thinking, “But, Kim, you once blogged about how terribly made releases are necessary for the horror genre. Why the sudden backtracking?” I wouldn’t necessarily consider this an evolution of opinion, rather an expansion of it.

Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures

Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures

See, good bad horror walks along a line defined by the formulaic. You have to have the cheesy, laughable threat paired up with abysmal acting and questionable cuts. It’s part of the territory. What many people are forgetting it seems is that story is just as important here, maybe even more so.

When you’re working so hard to produce a garbage product, you need to at least give someone a reason to look at your pile of trash. If you don’t, well, it’s just trash. If there’s not a story to be invested in or at the very least characters with addictive personalities to ooze over, then you’re basically asking your audience to sit down and suffer for 90 minutes. You’ve given them no reward.

There’s more to it than the intentional mistakes. Presenting junk as valuable junk is an art form, and people should stop underestimating the amount of effort that goes into such an endeavor.

 

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Goth wardrobes can survive during the pastel cruelty of spring

Goth wardrobes can survive during the pastel cruelty of spring

The flowers are blooming. The birds are chirping. The goths are suffering.

That’s right. It’s spring which means that black clothing is disappearing from racks the world over. What’s a poor darkling to do when all the stores are pushing their brightly colored floral prints onto consumers? Hibernation is out of the question, although it is tempting. You could make sure to get your wardrobe shopping sprees done in the fall and winter, but what if you get the urge to do so earlier in the year?

Are we doomed to suffer? Certainly not.

If you like trying on your clothes before making a purchase, your best bet is to start in your community. Some populous cities, such as Tampa, are home to goth clothing stores. This is your most reasonably priced option, but unless you live near these lucky locations, you’ll have to make quite the drive to give this choice a shot. What you might save in shipping fees could very well be spent on gas money.

Many of these shops feature items from Hell Bunny, Spin Doctor and Sourpuss to name a few. Finding all of these brands in one spot is a heartwarming experience, especially when you come across a pair of creepers on a shoe rack. It’s goth heaven, I assure you.

Photo courtesy of Ravens & Rockers

Photo courtesy of Ravens & Rockers

Of course and unfortunately, a lot of cities (ex: Orlando) aren’t home to stores like Ravens & Rockers. If you still want to do some in-person shopping, however, conventions are another option, specifically Spooky Empire. The con’s April date is a perfect middle-of-the-year break from the pastels you see taking over the malls. Keep in mind that items will be priced a little higher here.

Both of these options have a similar downside. If you’re my size (x-small), it’ll be exceedingly difficult to find anything that fits. Since these environments don’t bring in as many customers as online stores do, it’s best to keep inventory to a select, popular range, which tends to be small all the way through to large, sometimes x-large.

If you’re not in that size range, try calling the stores or booths beforehand to see if paying a visit is worth your time.

Then there’s the Internet. Oh what a glorious invention.

Many months ago, I blogged about my experience with Vera’s Eyecandy. While I adore the selection, it hasn’t evolved too much since then, so I’ve started to look elsewhere. Again, I find the same problem I always have, with stores refusing to acknowledge that people my size exist.

Photo courtesy of Blame Betty

Photo courtesy of Blame Betty

Then I discovered Blame Betty. At first, everything seems to be way overpriced. No way in hell was I paying $80 for a dress. I’m relieved to say that the prices for U.S. residents aren’t what they seem. The site defaults to its Canadian prices, but a quick changeover will show you that many dresses are in the $50-$70 price range.

Items come from respectable brands and usually are available in a wide range of sizes. The $8 shipping fee is a bit of a turnoff, but chances are your package will get to you in about a week. That’s rather impressive for international deliveries.

If none of these options appeal to you, there’s always thrift stores. That’s a day’s adventure all on its own, but the finds can be memorable. I’m still impressed with my friend for chancing upon some $10 Dr. Martens a year ago.

No matter what path you take, there will always be some disadvantages. It comes with the alternative territory. Just remember: The sun is out, but that doesn’t mean you have to let its rays dry out your wardrobe. There’s hope for you bats out there.

 

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Dom/sub relationships aren’t the misogynist catastrophes people find them to be

Dom/sub relationships aren’t the misogynist catastrophes people find them to be

Activists are constructing arguments left and right advocating for parents to stop spanking their kids. Other activists are fighting against spanking as well, but they’re not wishing to help children.

Here, let’s talk about sex, baby.

Every once in a while I come across another post from a feminist claiming that Dom/sub relationships are built upon a hatred for women and that supporting said relationships makes women eternally subservient to men.

I too am a feminist, but if the collar I wear every day is any indication, I strongly disagree with this sentiment. Never have I felt more liberated than when I’ve been dominated.

**For those of you who stick to a simple, back-to-basics style of sex and don’t know what I’m referring to when I say Dom/sub, here’s a handy post that will give you a broad understanding of what I mean.**

What many people fail to realize about BDSM and the various subcategories that stem out from it is that respect is critical, and no matter what foul-mouthed phrases are spit out to the sub, they are the ones that are in full control. Yes, that person who’s beaten, choked, pulled on and has hot wax poured all over their body is at the top of the power structure.

Photo courtesy of Les Films du Losange

Photo courtesy of Les Films du Losange

To have a healthy rough sexual relationship, rules should be set in place upon a stable foundation of trust. Since the subs are the ones that have pain and/or situations inflicted upon them, they tend to be the ones who decide what the boundaries are. They give Doms permission to do what they do, not the other way around.

Now let’s say that these boundaries are violated. That does not speak to a sexist form of sex. That speaks to rape. It’s horrible, but it’s not reflective of the fetish; it speaks to the individual.

This is all besides the point, however. All of this is said with the assumption that men are always doing the beating, but one Dutch study concluded that 26% of men in their California pool had submissive tendencies. And it’s silly to think that these activities don’t occur between gay men.

Photo courtesy of Strand Releasing

Photo courtesy of Strand Releasing

If BDSM was subconsciously constructed to parallel a sexist society, a small batch of men saying that they are submissive would be an exception to this theory, but when a significant portion rises up and states that they’re into being tied up, told what to do and thrown around, then you have to step back from your overly critical feminist eye and start to wonder whether there’s really anything wrong in what you’re denoucning.

Some people ask me, “Kim, how could you ever be into being humiliated on such an intense level?” To be honest, I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because I’m so in control of my day-to-day life that the idea of relinquishing power is overwhelming, but really, I don’t need an answer.

Some people like feet while some are into voyeurism. As long as everyone involved in a sexual situation is a consenting adult, I don’t see why anyone else should care.

 

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The Witch successfully summons unnerving ambience

The Witch successfully summons unnerving ambience

In the middle of a Halloween rewatch with my friend last week, I noticed that the best horror films have the most simplistic plots. A woman is paranoid that her neighbors are Satanists. A group of friends are being attacked in a cabin deep in the woods. The loglines are easy to come up with, yet their related movies are rich and memorable.

This holds true for The Witch.

The buzz has been going on and on about this particular flick ever since the unsettling trailer came out. I immediately knew that I needed to watch it, but I was simultaneously worried that it’d be all atmosphere and not much else. What happened instead was a pleasant albeit disturbing surprise.

Photo courtesy of A24

Photo courtesy of A24

It all begins with a religious Puritanical-era family leaving a village after the father, William (Ralph Ineson), disagrees with the leaders on how to worship. Their migration leads them many miles away to a seemingly secluded part of Northeast America.

It only takes a few months for their exile to turn sour, which is putting it lightly. A game of pee-ka-boo between older sister Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) and newborn Samuel morphs into a game of hide-and-seek when she uncovers her eyes and finds her baby brother to be missing. Unlike a horror movie from earlier this year, the forest right at the edge of this family’s living situation is actually creepy. It is here that the poor babe is taken, sacrificed by a witch for her devilish purposes.

The decline that follows is rapid. Mother Katherine (Kate Dickie) turns on her own daughter with a continuous glare of judgment and suspicion. William fails his family by producing a pitiful crop and not being able to hunt to make up for it. Suddenly this open space they live in feels like a trap. Physically speaking, the woods don’t move closer, but the threat it holds does.

Photo courtesy of A24

Photo courtesy of A24

Lucifer’s gaze shifts from behind the tree branches into the eyes of Black Phillip, a wicked goat that dashes onto their land. His stay is permanent, and the alarmingly young twins Mercy and Jonas immediately take a liking to him. Damnation has visited this family personally.

It could be easy for someone to write off the Satanic symbolism in The Witch as stereotypical, but it never once comes across as cheap. The haunting score paired with bleak cinematography allows for the natural placement of such moments for it’s these instances that add vibrancy to the setting. The most colorful images are the most striking, and it’s their spare use that allows them to be easily seared onto your brain.

This is a story of temptation. There’s various levels of sin in this movie, and Robert Eggers effortlessly explores every single one. There were a few shots that lingered longer than necessary or that weren’t needed at all, but it’s still incredibly impressive for someone’s directorial debut.

If you’re looking to jump out of your seat in terror, this one isn’t for you. If you’re hoping to have discomfort overcome you in a darkened movie theater, then go and buy a ticket. Come on, The Witch is Satanic Temple-approved; viewing it can at least work as a conversation starter.

 

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day horror-lover style

Celebrating Valentine’s Day horror-lover style

I’ve never been big on the whole Valentine’s Day thing, at least in the traditional sense. Oversized stuffed animals are a burden, cheesy dates make me roll my eyes into oblivion, and if I see one more Facebook post in which someone gushes about their significant other, I might puke.

There’s nothing wrong with these things actually, no, that last one is actually kind of annoying but it’s not for everyone. If you fantasize about candlelit dinners with Barry White music playing in the background, congratulations! Society has already designated a structure that will do wonders for you and your beloved on this holiday.

But what about us darker folks? There’s not really a guidebook on how to take things to a Gomez/Morticia level for V-Day… until now.

Go to your local oddities shop

The whole point of giving someone a gift is that they’ll enjoy it, and if your darling is into the macabre, then you might as well stroll past the holiday section at the grocery store and visit your nearest oddities shop instead. These babies seem to be popping up more and more lately, and the items they offer are fascinating and beautiful. You’ll find wet specimens, human hearts and probably some stuffed chicks. Each place has its own unique collection of items to offer, such as Orlando’s very own Carmine Boutique. If you don’t have an oddities provider near you, there are plenty of stores that also sell their products online. Pair that order with express shipping though; the day of love is coming fast.

Marathon thriller-romance films

Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films

Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films

Let’s face it, Nicholas Sparks sucks. In fact, most romance movies suck, at least the ones that try and fit every Hollywood celebrity into 90 minutes for quick box office smash. Thankfully, there are some morbid options for couples that wish to stay indoors and cuddle up on the couch for a night. Let the Right One In is cinematic gold. Its use of atmosphere and sound editing makes it one of the best horror films of all time and exemplifies that vampire-love stories can indeed work. Spring is a more recent option and has a heavier focus on the romance, if you’re looking for more passion in your selections.

Have a picnic at a nearby graveyard

Okay, I know, stereotypically goth-y, but what can I say? It’s a cute thing to do. Pack up a picnic blanket with some sandwiches, and suddenly you have a nice meal in a calm setting. Liven up your lunch a bit (you’ll probably have to do lunch since most cemeteries close at night) by bringing along a book of short stories to read aloud to each other. Lovecraft and Poe works if you’re looking for a classic approach, but I suggest digging deep into the nostalgia pit by bringing along a copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Cook a horror-themed dinner

Photo courtesy of Bryanston Pictures

Photo courtesy of Bryanston Pictures

If you want to put more effort into your meal, there’s plenty of recipes that will add a grisly flair to every bite. Martha Stewart has an impressive collection of ideas you can pull from in case you want to try your hand at making a plate of “devilish eggs” or “mashed boo-tatoes.” Pinterest is another spot to check out for ideas, ranging from appetizers to extravagant entrees. I think it goes without saying that pairing your meal with red wine is a must.

 

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Marc With a C’s latest record is a genuine, funny, feel-good hit

Marc With a C’s latest record is a genuine, funny, feel-good hit

For those of you who haven’t heard of the likes of Orlando’s very own Marc With a C, you’ve been missing out, and his upcoming album, Unicorns Get More Bacon, is the perfect way to start getting in the know.

If you’re anything like me, you’re easily worried when any bit of a musician’s catalog can be considered funny.

My main issue with artists who like to dip their songs into a vat of comedy is that they often forget about the music along the way, as if the album is the vehicle to get to their destination instead of the destination itself. What usually ends up being released is a relentless shot of jokes accompanied by a fairly forgettable beat.

Photo courtesy of Marc With a C

Photo courtesy of Marc With a C

This doesn’t happen at all with Unicorns Get More Bacon. In fact, the songs are damn catchy, in an almost early-millennium-minus-the-cheesy-bits sounding way. It never feels like a song solely exists to make you laugh, but when they do, you’re probably bopping your head along to the beat as you let out a string of chuckles.

The record, which was mastered by Mark Kramer of Shockabilly and Butthole Surfers fame, is defined by its consistent acoustic guitar and its friendly voice accompaniment. Above all else, the album feels human. Anyone who remembers the sweetness of “Daddy, Make the Sun Come Out” from 2013’s Popular Music can be assured that such heart can be found in tracks like “Anything But Plain” and “Where’s My Giant Robot.”

But sometimes the album is a test to see how ridiculous things can get, and it’s a fun test to follow.

“The Ballad of Dick Steel” is Unicorns Get More Bacon‘s crowning jewel. The music is on par with that of an old school movie theme, and I can guarantee you that nothing will ever make you want to chant, “Dick!” as much as this two-minute tune. Here’s the best example of how great of a storyteller this guy is. He makes you want to know more about Mr. Steel, and you can be sure that he’s going to deliver.

There is some concern to be had, however. The release features some popular phrases of our day and age. Fleek is one, but the most noticeable example is the track “Epic Fail.” With the Internet, the way people speak is constantly evolving, and words we use one year are considered unusable the next.

His reasons for using said words are understandable in a commentary sense, but I can see this quickly dating the album, and while it’s not the biggest of problems, it’s still a problem. I assume it’s also done in an attempt to connect with people, but he doesn’t need such additions. Marc With a C commands a certain level of interaction with his music, something that’s made clear when you see him live.

When I first caught his act, it was during the first of four Halloween preshows that us Rich Weirdoes put together last year. It was also where I first heard “Unicorns Get More Bacon.” You can tell that the track is made for audience participation (“So what I gotta know is are you with me?”) which is a fairly regular facet of his performances.

There are moments on the album that sound like they’re made to spark such interaction (I’m looking at you “Celebutantes”), but Marc With a C is never in-your-face about it, having it be more of an enjoyable layer to the music rather than an inescapable annoyance.

This is a record worth buying, and if you don’t believe me, take into consideration that the first day it was available for preorder on Bandcamp, it rose right up to #1 on the vinyl pop chart. Clearly other people agree with me.

Anyone looking to buy a copy can head on over to the official Bandcamp page. Unicorns Get More Bacon is officially out March 8.

**NOTE** Although I was given a free copy so I could review the album, this in no way affected my thoughts on the release or the musician discussed in the review above.

 

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Horror and the Oscars: A tale of stubbornness

Horror and the Oscars: A tale of stubbornness

2015 was rather forgettable when it came to movies. For most of what I’ve seen, the extent of my feelings can be quickly summarized as, “I guess it was enjoyable,” which is rather depressing given how good 2014 was.

The Hateful Eight was Tarantino at his weakest. Room was fine but not anywhere near noteworthy. Carol, a film surrounding two underdeveloped characters, was built on hype. The Oscars doesn’t have much going for it this awards season.

Some might blame this on the numerous pieces of Oscar bait that production companies have put out, but I find that to be more of a symptom of the overarching Hollywood illness that has been left untreated. The Oscars refuse to get with the times. It’s that simple. Film has changed, especially drama, and that’s something worth noting. Award shows should be applauding innovative releases, but instead they have firmly rooted themselves in the past.

Bridge of Spies is the definition of Oscar bait. (photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios)

Bridge of Spies is the definition of Oscar bait. (photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios)

This is what makes Oscar bait possible. It’s gotten to the point where one can predict what the Academy wants. Many times these films are nominated and many times they win. The process has become formulaic, laughable and malignant.

But where does horror fit in to this predictable equation? Well, it doesn’t. Horror is filmed, scored, lighted and acted in differently than what the Academy desires. What ends up happening is that strong films, such as the chilling It Follows, are ignored completely. Although The Academy was right in not including it in any of the acting categories, I strongly believe that it deserved at the very least a Best Cinematography and Original Score nod.

I’m bitter. I’m extremely bitter. I’ll be the first to admit that 95% of the genre is absolute garbage, but there’s a glorious 5% that deserves recognition. You’re telling me that the mess that is Forrest Gump won an Oscar but that the artful The Thing and The Shining didn’t? That’s blasphemy if I ever did see it.

There have been some horror films that the Oscars have taken note of, as was the case in 1974 when The Exorcist was a contender for Best Picture, but instances such as these happen so few and far between that they become more of a miracle than anything else.

Hopefully these Mad Max nominations serve as an avenue for growth instead of a singular event. (photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Hopefully these Mad Max nominations allow for growth instead of becoming a singular event. (photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Thankfully, I see some change on the horizon. Mad Max is the complete opposite of what the Academy usually goes for, and yet it received an impressive amount of nominations. Combine that with the organization altering their life-long membership policy, and suddenly there’s an avenue for hope.

Maybe things will start looking up. Maybe horror will be shown more love. It might take a while, and I’m sure countless movies will be ignored during this evolutionary process, but I’m optimistic that things are moving towards a more accepting awards season.

 

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Five questions us goths are tired of being asked

Five questions us goths are tired of being asked

When I started to express an interest in the darker side of life back in high school, I never expected the occasionally silly, mostly irrational questions I would be asked. I’m not sure whether these self-made interviewers are genuinely curious about the goth lifestyle or whether they think they’re the funniest thing since Mel Brooks, circa 1974. If you’re part of the latter, please know that whatever comment you’ve made or plan on making has been said before. I assure you, you’re not original.

If you insist on drilling us with questions anyway, make sure that none of them are on this list.

Why don’t you try wearing some color?

Don't be a Debbie. We don't want to wear pastels. (photo via Paramount Pictures)

Don’t be a Debbie. We don’t want to wear pastels. (photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Look, lady, you may be head over heels in love with the pastels of the season, but I’d like to keep those shades far, far away from my wardrobe. I tried wearing color for many years, and trust me when I say it looks odd on me. Despite being almost 22 years old, I look like I recently entered my teenage years. Color accentuates this. When I wear black I feel powerful and am no longer treated like a child.

Are you scared of sunlight?

Last time I checked, I’m not Dracula. I can go outside without burning to death or sparkling. Like any sane human being, I prefer to not be outside when it feels like I’m walking into the depths of hell. If the weather is nice, I don’t mind sitting outside for a while. It just so happens that I live in Florida, so that doesn’t happen too often.

You do know you’re not going to get a job looking like that, right?

While I’m sure that you’re oh so worried about my employment options, I must have you know that I’m currently interning at a publication that is incredibly supportive of the way I look. As long as I don’t show up naked to work, they don’t care. My best friend has an office job and dresses in the most fashionable of goth clothing during her shifts. Sure, there’s places like Disney that are a lot more restricting, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that many companies are supportive of their employees.

Do you worship Satan?

This isn't what my friends and I do in our spare time. (Photo via Buena Vista Pictures)

This isn’t what my friends and I do in our spare time. (photo courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures)

I’m not entirely sure what Lucifer has to do with my appearance, but by the looks of this question, he’s probably more accepting of me than you are. Goths come in all shapes and sizes, and they also come in all sorts of religions. Although I’m sure that there’s goths who take pride in their love for Beelzebub, there’s also goths who attend church on the regular.

Is this just a phase?

Is your inability to accept people as they are just a phase? It certainly doesn’t seem like it. I’ve wanted to look this way since I first saw a goth at the mall when I was seven years old. Dressing this way makes me happy, and it’s a part of who I am. I think skulls are cute, horror movies make me laugh and it’s a relief to not have to look at my hay-colored hair anymore. I’ve gone through phases before, and I know in my heart of hearts that this isn’t one of them. The least you could do is respect that.

 

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How to avoid the subpar horror releases of the year

How to avoid the subpar horror releases of the year

A new year means a new batch of horror movies will be making the rounds. You’ll be tempted by the good, the bad and the ugly, and at times it might be hard to know which releases are worth seeing. Most films in the genre are mere photocopies of overused formulas, so if you go in blind, chances are it’s going to suck.

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to know too much before entering the theater, there’s still a way to better your chances of paying for an enjoyable flick. All you need to do is watch the trailer

The easiest thing to look out for is the celebrity status of the movie. Are you merely excited because a specific actor is attached to the project? This is a common tool used by Hollywood to make up for weak writing. Audiences follow familiar faces similar to how consumers are more comfortable with products they constantly see on TV.

A recent example of this is The Forest, staring Natalie Dormer.

The promotion for this movie focused almost entirely on the actress, probably in an attempt to rein in Game of Thrones fans. It currently has an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. What makes this situation happen over and over again is that casting directors are so focused on star power that they forget to analyze whether an actor can establish a slow progression into fear. Dormer, for instance, puts on too dramatic of a face to be believable.

Not all horror films with A-listers are unwatchable, but it’s important to ask yourself why they were given the role.

Tropes, the second thing you should look out for, are easy to register because we see them all the time. A creepy rocking chair, nursery rhymes sung by children, kids who look like they were raised by Lucifer himself. If the creepiest moments of a piece have been done over and over again, it stops being scary.

What upcoming movie is a perfect example of this?

I’ve been laughing ever since I saw the trailer for The Boy a few months ago. I thought we were over the whole doll thing but apparently not. However, tropes aren’t always the centerpiece of a horror film. When watching a trailer, keep your eyes open for what’s being presented as “scary.”

If you’ve seen the trailer and it doesn’t seem to rely on star power or overdone scare tactics but you still aren’t sure whether you should check it out, there’s one more aspect to look out for, and it isn’t as easy to spot as the others.

What makes a horror film forgettable is when it’s too focused on being a horror film. If you walk onto a set with the sole purpose of producing something that will terrifying your audience, you’ve already dedicated yourself to making a movie that will be defined by its inability to stand out. Without a strong foundation in story and character, your film will remain hollow.

With something like Amityville: The Awakening, I can’t bring myself to care about these people, and thus I don’t care about what happens to them. Their backstory of moving around is a sad excuse for a scene setter and establishment of teenage angst. These characters could be anybody. When all that matters is that something happens to the people in your story, it’s sure to be a film to avoid.

Now, if you prefer to not watch trailers before giving a movie a shot, that works too. Just don’t I say I didn’t warn ya.

 

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