Horrors of 2023: Scream VI


The excitement around the Scream franchise is infectious. New entries are major events in the horror community, and the discourse dominates all the horror social media sphere, igniting debates, predictions and feuds. I myself made a point to revisit the entire franchise backwards from Scream V all the way back to the very first, legendary film.

All I can conclude from that exercise is that the franchise is comprised of missed opportunities and fascinating moments. Perhaps the main thing that diminishes in return as the franchise progresses is the commentary on horror cinema.

Also, I can report that Scream VI is an excellent horror film, if not my favorite Ghostface reveal or meta-commentary.


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The Horrors of 2023: Consecration


Let’s make this a short one. Consecration should have been my happy place: violent nuns, folk horror, and possession. But it was only muddled and confusing. There are positives – elegant acting by leads Jena Malone, Janet Suzman and Danny Huston, and some lovely, awe inspiring scenery in Scotland. The plot weaves childhood abuse, an ancient pagan cult countered by an order of pseudo-Knights Templar, and an occult possession mystery around the suicide of Jena Malone’s priest brother. As Marya E. Gates of RogerEbert.com notes, the nods to nunsploitation weakly cue Ken Russell’s The Devils. Ultimately, there exists some sort of commentary about religion, but nothing of substance comes through.

Of all the 2023 horrors I’ve taken in to date, why did it have to be the nunsploitation one that left me unimpressed?

Now click on the image below and do your shopping on Amazon to support my blog, or it’s a rap on the knuckles….

The Horrors of 2023: Infinity Pool


In 2020, right before the start of the pandemic, Brandon Cronenberg made me ill. Possessor, his excellent second directorial feature, bored its way into my brain as surely as the fictional device its corporate assassins used on their victims. Its protagonist un-mothered, shed her skin, and become something fully stripped of anything close to human.

Similar, if not parallel, trajectories awaited Alexander Skaarsgard’s character in Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool.

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Horrors of 2023: Knock at the Cabin


I’ve yet to read a novel by Paul Tremblay, and that’s something I plan to correct very soon. I have however seen plenty of films by M. Night Shyamalan, and the director is no point of contention for me. I think his work is just fine. I’ve enjoyed many of his movies, disliked one or two others, and landed somewhere in the middle on a third set. 

But I will always love and appreciate his commitment to the paranormal thriller genre and his ever contentious “twists,” of which….


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Horrors of 2023: The Devil Conspiracy


There exists on our earthly plane that slightly bizarre mutant offspring of “the devil movie” – or “satanic cinema” –  that is a bit hard to define and place in a neat box.

It’s Biblically apocalyptic but not exactly a straightforward Omen narrative involving The Antichrist.

It’s not usually as hateful as the writings of Paul Jenkins and Timothy LaHaye.  It will usually involve angels from Judeo Christian mythology, and they won’t always be benevolent. And it will most likely mutate the Book of Revelations into some bizarre convoluted paths.

Well, 2023’s The Devil Conspiracy is the mutanty mutant mutation of the mutant cousin of this horror subgenre. So mutated, it makes the X-Men look like clean-cut Young Republicans with no super powers whatsoever. But the thing to know is, this movie’s thematic ambition is A-M-B-I-T-I-O-N. And despite the messy looniness, I can only applaud and celebrate its bizarre flexes.

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Loco Parentis: M3gan


My friend and frequent podcast collaborator once said, “never get in a car with someone who’s been in Girls.” Sage advise perhaps for the young girl who co-stars with Allison Williams in M3gan. Then again, this latest Blumhouse horror joint depends heavily on Williams’s absolute lack of desire to be a parent. It is right for the sake of this story for us to get in her car have her take us on this ride.

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Sharks and Circuses


It is Shark Week 2022! Let’s kick it off with a reblog!


sharknado 5

October 2, 2017 – If horror or science fiction can serve as a touchstone for ‘the times’, then perhaps the Sharknado franchise speaks perfectly to our political climate; its latest chapter, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, most of all. With an alternate subtitle “Make America Bait Again”, it is tacky, it is reality-TV fueled, and most importantly, it serves as a platform, or better yet a trade exchange, for the Coin of the Realm: celebrity and ‘relevancy.’

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Hester Scream!


January 8. 2022 – Scream 5, or simply “Scream“, is set to debut on January 14th. To celebrate, I’m reposting a 2011 article from when this blog was on Open Salon. This article earned me an Editor’s Pick (soon replaced by a much better article from another OSer). Edited from the original because my writing is trash.

“Scream 4” is opening this weekend, and oddly enough, I’m looking forward to it.  The burnout I had from dotcom era excess and self-referential teen horror is apparently gone.

Those were fun and weird and empty days, the late 90’s, full of partying and aimless misdirection.  I’m not sure I’m more “directed” now, but a big part of aimless misdirection is watching any movie you want, whenever you want.  This in turn led to the incessant consumption of the films in the wave of teen horror inspired by Scream.

We all know about the self-referential part of the Scream franchise.  All the genre tropes that the character of Randy deconstructs so cleverly set the stage for a 90’s horror renaissance that ran with slick production, knowing in-joke genre winks and a glut of up-and-coming It boys and girls.  It even managed to infect one of the top long-standing franchises of the genre from which it drew (Halloween H20).  

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Trick or Treat ’21: Another Evil


Welcome to Chillerpop’s inaugural Halloween 2021 Trick or Treat! For this project I asked friends far and…well, far…to pick a movie for me to cover in a blog post.

My friend Allan was the second person to reply to my prompt, but he’s going first! “Chef Al,” as he’s known on the excellent podcast Kiss The Goat, is armed with exceptional culinary skills and a vicious wit aimed straight at the throat of nasty-ass consumerist chain restaurant food.

Chef Al would like you to listen to the podcast Decoding the Gurus, for anyone needing to navigate or vet any “guru” they’re considering following or trusting – which is a fit for the film he chose, the 2016 horror comedy Another Evil.

“If you’re not averse to going low key,” he added.

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The Conjuring: Nostalgia Made Me Do It


2021 has been quite a year thus far for all the things that get me. Netflix aired the documentary “Sons of Sam” which leans into the satanic panic conspiracy theories espoused by Maury Terry in his book “The Ultimate Evil.” And then, the forces behind the theatrical juggernaut Conjuring-verse have resuscitated the “Devil Made Me Do It” case, which loomed large in my 80’s Connecticut-based childhood.

I’ve waxed plenty nostalgic about it here, and though I want to avoid rehashing what I’ve already said countless of times ad infinitum, I will need to revisit the trial of Arne Johnson, Gerald Brittle’s rotten book “The Devil in Connecticut,” and our sainted paladins of the paranormal, Ed and Lorraine Warren.

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