Sunday, 30 September 2018

31 Days of Modern Horror: The Shortlist

You'd be surprised how difficult it is to create a list of just 31 horror films that we believe are the best of the last 18 years. There have been tears, glares, and the odd insult but we've managed to hack away at our massive Longlist to bring you this, our 31 Days of Modern Horror Shortlist.

(Which, by the way, is still twice as long as it should be. Say a prayer for our marriage. 😉)


2000:
Cherry Falls
Final Destination
Ginger Snaps
Pitch Black

2001:
Dagon
From Hell
Jason X
Jeepers Creepers
Joy Ride
Pulse
Thir13en Ghosts

2002:
28 Days Later
Dog Soldiers
Ghost Ship
Resident Evil
The Ring

2003:
Darkness Falls
Dreamcatcher
Underworld
Wrong Turn

2004:
Dawn of the Dead
The Grudge
Satan's Little Helper
Saw
Shaun of the Dead
Van Helsing

2005:
The Descent
The Skeleton Key

2006:
See No Evil
Silent Hill

2007:
1408
Dead Silence
Halloween
The Messengers
The Mist
Trick 'r Treat
REC

2008:
The Cottage
Eden Lake
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Shutter

2009:
The Collector
Daybreakers
Dead Snow
Doghouse
Drag Me to Hell

2010:
Insidious
Tucker & Dale vs Evil

2011:
Season of the Witch

2012:
The Cabin in the Woods
The Raven
Sinister
Smiley

2013:
The Conjuring
Horns
The Purge

2014:
Annabelle

2015:
Krampus
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

2016:
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Lights Out

2017:
Get Out
It

2018:
Summer of 84
Winchester

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

10 Wickedly Good Movies Based on Banned Books

Banned Books Week 2018 runs from Sept. 23 - 29 and celebrates our freedom to read (and write!) without interference. Some of the books that have been banned most frequently (and vehemently) are also the ones that have been made into the best - often award-winning - movies. In this blog post, we take a look at some of the best movies based on banned books.

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Based on: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Banned for: promoting witchcraft
Why to watch: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is just plain magic. It's fun, has spectacular effects, and creates a cinematic world powerful enough to rival Star Wars.
2. Easy A

Based on: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Banned for: pornography and obscenity
Why to Watch: Easy A is a classic coming-of-age story that gives new life to an old tale. It's funny, sweet, and packs a punch.
3. Gone with the Wind

Based on: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Banned for: racist language and depiction of slavery
Why to Watch: Well, Clark Gable as Rhett Butler mostly - amiright? Seriously, though, this one's intense. It's a roller coaster ride you've gotta take at least once.
4. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Based on: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
Banned for: being anti-Christian
Why to Watch: This is one seriously epic series. If you've got the time, watch the entire uncut version of the trilogy. The world-building is on a whole other level.
5. The Hunger Games

Based on: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Banned for: anti-family, violence, and just about everything else
Why to Watch: Who doesn't love a dystopia? Add a kick-ass female protagonist, a rebellion, and the tiniest dash of teen angst and you've got a massive winner.
6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Based on: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Banned for: pornography, glorifying criminal activity, and a whole bunch more
Why to Watch: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one hell of an emotional ride. It takes a hard look at the reality of mental illness but is so funny at the same time it will leave your sides aching.
7. The Golden Compass

Based on: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Banned for: anti-Christian
Why to Watch: The Golden Compass is pure fantastical genius. It's a mini-epic that never got the full series it deserved.
8. The Witches

Based on: The Witches by Roald Dahl
Banned for: its negative portrayal of women
Why to Watch: This is one insanely fun movie. As the hubs says, "It's scarily entertaining."
9. The Da Vinci Code

Based on: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Banned for: anti-Christian (of course)
Why to Watch: Mystery, puzzles, lies, and deceit. This is one of those flicks that'll keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time.
10.The Great Gatsby

Based on: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Banned for: language and sexual references
Why to Watch: All the glam and glitz of the Roaring Twenties - plus a little Leo on the side. Oh, yeah... there might be a heartbreaking love story in there, too.

This list isn't exhaustive, of course, but they're my favourites. What are yours?

31 Days of Modern Horror: The Longlist

Last year, as part of our Halloween celebrations here at Castle Vanian, we had a 31 Days of Classic Horror movie marathon. So... what to do this year?

Well, 31 Days of Modern Horror, of course!


We're busy trying to whittle down our (ever increasing, it seems) longlist for this year's marathon, which will start in just a few days. Here's where we are at the moment:

2000:
Bless the Child
Cherry Falls
The Convent
Crocodile
Cut
Dracula 2000
Final Destination
Ginger Snaps
Hollow Man
Lost Souls
Pitch Black
Shadow of the Vampire
Supernova
What Lies Beneath

2001:
Bones
The Bunker
Dagon
The Devil's Backbone
Fear of the Dark
From Hell
Ghosts of Mars
Jason X
Jeepers Creepers
Joy Ride
Pulse
The Others
Thir13en Ghosts

2002:
28 Days Later
Blade II
Bubba Ho-Tep
Cabin Fever
Dog Soldiers
Eight Legged Freaks
The Eye
Fear of the Dark
FeardotCom
Ghost Ship
Halloween: Resurrection
Queen of the Damned
Resident Evil
The Ring
Rose Red

2003:
Darkness Falls
Dead End
Decoys
Dreamcatcher
Final Destination 2
Freddy vs. Jason
Gothika
House of the Dead
Identity
Jeepers Creepers II
Monster Man
Undead
Underworld
The Uninvited
Wrong Turn

2004:
Alien vs. Predator
Club Dread
Creep
Cube Zero
Dawn of the Dead
Dead Birds
Dead Meat
Frankenfish
Ghost Lake
The Grudge
Malevolence
One Missed Call
Premonition
Satan's Little Helper
Saw
Shaun of the Dead
Van Helsing

2005:
Alone in the Dark
The Amityville Horror
Boy Eats Girl
Cursed
Dark Water
The Descent
Doom
Evil Aliens
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Land of the Dead
Man-Thing
Mortuary
Reeker
The Skeleton Key

2006:
Abominable
An American Haunting
Black Sheep
Hatchet
Pulse
See No Evil
Silent Hill
Slither
When a Stranger Calls
The Woods

2007:
30 Days of Night
1408
The Caretaker
The Cook
Dead Silence
Devil's Diary
Diary of the Dead
Halloween
The Messengers
The Mist
My Name is Bruce
The Orphanage
Trick 'r Treat
Paranormal Activity
Prey
The Reaping
REC
Shrooms
Skinwalkers
Sweeny Todd
Vacancy

2008:
Book of Blood
The Children
Cloverfield
The Cottage
Diary of the Dead
Eden Lake
The Happening
Let the Right One In
Mirrors
Pontypool
Quarantine
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Shutter
Splinter

2009:
The Collector
Daybreakers
Dead Snow
Doghouse
Dorian Gray
Drag Me to Hell
Friday the 13th
Hush
Jennifer's Body
Lesbian Vampire Killers
Pandorum
Splice
Survival of the Dead
Zombieland

2010:
Black Death
The Crazies
Exorcismus
The Innkeepers
Insidious
My Soul to Take
Piranha 3-D
Predators
Priest
Stake Land
Tucker & Dale vs Evil
The Wolfman

2011:
The Awakening
Fright Night
Inbred
Season of the Witch
Stitched
The Thing

2012:
The Bay
The Cabin in the Woods
Cockneys vs Zombies
The Collection
The Devil Inside
Elfie Hopkins
Grabbers
John Dies at the End
The Pact
Piranha 3DD
Prometheus
The Raven
REC 3: Genesis
Silent Hill: Revelation
Sinister
Smiley
V/H/S
The Woman in Black

2013:
Bad Milo!
The Conjuring
Dark Skies
Frankenstein's Army
Fright Night 2: New Blood
Haunter
Horns
Open Grave
The Purge
World War Z

2014:
Annabelle
As Above, So Below
Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead
Fatal Frame
Housebound
Jessabelle
Late Phases
See No Evil 2
What We Do in the Shadows

2015:
Dead Rising: Watchtower
Demonic
Howl
Krampus
Poltergeist
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Sinister 2

2016:
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Bedeviled
Better Watch Out
The Conjuring 2
Don't Breathe
Friend Request
The Girl with All the Gifts
Hush
Lights Out
Train to Busan

2017:
Alien: Covenant
Amityville: The Awakening
Annabelle: Creation
The Babysitter
The Bye Bye Man
Cult of Chucky
Happy Death Day
Get Out
It
Jigsaw
Mayhem
Tragedy Girls
Wish Upon

2018:
Bad Samaritan
Blood Fest
Boarding School
The Devil's Doorway
Insidious: The Last Key
The Nun
Summer of 84
Winchester

What do you make of our list? Have you spotted any monsters (pun intended) we're missing? (Don't even say Sharknado. That's a dirty word in this house.) If you have any corrections or suggestions, do get in touch! Otherwise, we'll see you in a day or two with a shortlist!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Banned Book Week Kick-Off


Today marks the start of Banned Books Week, a celebration of freedom that fights the belief that world governments can control what we read. In this day and age, I don't need to tell you how important it is to fight for our freedoms.

We'll be celebrating Banned Books Week here on Wondra's World. To get started, let's have a look at 50 books that have been banned or challenged.*

(List taken from the American Library Association website. To see more titles visit www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks)

✅1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
✅6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
✅7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
✅8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
✅14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
✅17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
✅19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
✅21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
✅23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins,
the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

How many banned books have you read? What's your favourite banned book? Join the conversation on Twitter using #BannedBooksWeek!

*list from https://www.bannedbooksweek.org.uk/

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Movie Review: The Blue Lagoon (1980)

Honestly, I feel The Blue Lagoon (1980) hardly warrants the effort to write a review. I disliked it that much. No, that’s not right. I detested and was utterly disgusted by this movie.

Jay tells me I sometimes lose objectivity when I do reviews. It’s something I try to keep an eye out for. This time, though, I’m going to put objectivity aside and lay into this POS.

The Blue Lagoon is nothing more than a paedophile’s wet dream. There is nothing about this movie that makes it redeemable to anyone else - not even Christopher Atkins, who you know I adore.

I understand that, in certain settings and to further a story line, there come times when a filmmaker might need to show naked children and/or children on inappropriate situations. This, of course, requires both a plot and a purpose - neither of which The Blue Lagoon possesses.

This is a nearly two-hour film that feels four. It drags, never getting to the point. It lingers on the children’s nudity unnecessarily and, yes, they do get it on. Even if the children weren’t meant to be cousins (eww), the age difference between the two main actors would be a cause for concern. Brook Shields wasn’t of age at the time of filming but Christopher Atkins was.

So, let’s recap:
Incest? Check.
Child nudity? Check.
Child pornography? Check.
Statutory rape? Check.
Gee, I guess The Blue Lagoon really has it all.

And don’t even get me started on that stupid, pointless, infuriating ending. I’ve seen a lot - a LOT - of bad movies but I’ve never seen anything that was a bigger waste of my time than The Blue Lagoon.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Movie Review: Cactus Jack (1979)

One of the problems with compiling a list of movies I haven’t seen is the reason I haven’t seen those movies. There are a lot of Westerns on this list because they just don’t appeal to me.

Good thing Jay loves a challenge.

When I complained to Jay that I just haven’t found a Western I really enjoyed, he said, “Let’s watch Cactus Jack [aka: The Villain].” (Well, first, he said, “You like Blazing Saddles,” and he was right. Turns out I only dislike Westerns that take themselves too seriously...)

My first thought when Cactus Jack (1979) started was, 'Omg, this is a Looney Tunes movie.' When we finished watching Cactus Jack, the first thing I said to Jay was, "Omg, this is a Looney Tunes movie."

Pretty much every Western ever made could start with exactly the same sweeping shot of sand and mountains, cacti and tumbleweed. Cactus Jack is no exception. After that, though, Cactus Jack is nothing like any of the other Westerns I've seen. It's more like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. In fact, when Jay was trying to convince me to watch Cactus Jack, he said, "Just think Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner."

He was not wrong.

If you think I'm wrong about how silly it gets, wait for the bit where the baddie paints a tunnel onto a solid wall. You know where this is going, right? Right. Not even joking.

There are some pretty ridiculous names in this movie too. Names like Charming Jones (Ann-Margret), Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and Nervous Elk (Paul Lynde). Charming is the gorgeous woman who's only interested in sex, Handsome is as dimwitted as he is good-looking, and there's nothing about Nervous Elk that resembles the Native American he's supposed to be. Then, there's Jack...

Kirk Douglas's Cactus Jack is rotten to the core but completely useless at being a villain. Even his horse is smarter than he is. Much, much smarter. Honestly, Whiskey (Jack's horse) is the best part of the movie - and, considering my dislike for horses, you know that's saying something!


Whiskey has zero interest in helping his owner perform villainy and does everything possible to foil Jack's evil plans - including helping the authorities apprehend Jack. If you don't watch Cactus Jack for any other reason, watch it for Whiskey the horse.

Cactus Jack is one of Arnie's earliest appearances in film, which is pretty obvious when he finally makes an appearance. There's very little actual acting involved. Mostly, he stares straight ahead and looks oblivious - which, you know, was probably the limit of his ability at the time.


Like I said before (and on many other occasions,) I'm not a fan of Westerns. I loved this stupid movie, though. Just remember that the stereotypes are supposed to be stereotypes and the cultural appropriation is supposed to be creditworthy and you'll be fine.

Have you seen Cactus Jack? Want to weigh in? Either drop a comment below or find me on Twitter (@witchybelle4u2.) If you can suggest a Western for people who don't like Westerns, even better.

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Book #1), Deborah Harkness

I was a little reluctant to try this one. Everyone I asked about it compared it to Twilight. Kind of puts you off, you know? I think it's unfair to compare A Discovery of Witches to Twilight, though, because it's smarter and the writing is so much better. There are, unfortunately, a couple of similarities between the two - the biggest being the fang thing.

Why do we keep neutering vampires, dammit? Give them their fangs back!

*pet peeve*

There's also the whole watching-over-her-while-she's-sleeping thing and Matthew's reluctance to have sex with Diana, which are both kind of annoying. Aside from those, A Discovery of Witches and Twilight are very different. (Thank the Gods.)

Like I said, A Discovery of Witches is intelligent. You need a fairly well-rounded education/general knowledge to really appreciate all the references. It starts in a library in Oxford, after all. The location (er, locations) is one of the things I like best about the book. Being an American in Britain has a very particular feeling, one Harkness captures perfectly.

“As far as I can tell, there are only two emotions that keep the world spinning, year after year. One is fear. The other is desire.” 
― Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches is undeniably a romance. (Enough that I suspect my husband won't be watching the TV series with me when it starts.) A really great, really sweet romance. I definitely "aww"ed a few times while reading this. Might have even blushed once or twice, too. ;)

It's a romance you won't be able to help falling in love with.

Did I mention there's a TV series coming? The trailer is the whole reason I picked this book up in the first place.



If it's anything like the book, it's gonna break me, for sure.

Over the years, I've grown to dislike reading books that are part of a series. Most of the time, I won't even pick up the second book. I've gotten too used to being let down by the books that come after. Please don't let that be the case with the All Souls series because I'm dying to find out what happens to Diana and Matthew.

Monday, 3 September 2018

School Sucks! The 10 Best Back-to-School Horror Movies

I'm always surprised when I see social media posts complaining about this time of the year because I loved going back to school after summer break. Of course, school where was my family wasn't so I had a lot to look forward to.

Not everyone feels the same way, though. I know you're out there, school-haters. I know you're dragging your feet today as you head back to school. Well, I can't help you get through your first day back BUT I can give you something to enjoy when that hellish first day is over.

10. Prom Night

I'm not going to lie and say Prom Night is a cinematic masterpiece - there's a reason it's at the bottom of this list, after all - but crap can be enjoyable too. Besides, any movie is 100x better for starring Jamie Lee Curtis, right?
Prom Night is pure, mindless, slasher pulp. It's gory, predictable, and cheesy - all the reasons I love it.

Also Watch: Slaughter High
9. Teaching Mrs. Tingle

Teaching Mrs. Tingle is a guilty pleasure. It doesn't have the merit some movies that didn't make the cut did (take Happy Death Day, Carrie, and Urban Legends, as examples), but it makes me nostalgic and has one of the best actors ever in it. (Um, Helen Mirren, not Katie Holmes. How sad do you think I am?!)
The thing that makes Teaching Mrs. Tingle so enjoyable is how spiteful the teacher is. Assuming she's the film's victim would be a horrible mistake.

Also Watch: Murder by Numbers
8. Idle Hands

I almost didn't include Idle Hands on this list because there's every chance it will appear on my list of favourite Halloween movies but, in the end, I just couldn't leave it out. It's too good.
I honestly couldn't tell you how many times I've seen Idle Hands (I might have had a small crush on Devon Sawa as a kid...) but I know it's too many. Even though I've seen it so many times, it still makes me roar with laughter. It might be the cutest movie about possession ever made...

Also Watch: Jessica's Body
7. Ginger Snaps

Think getting your period sucks? You have no idea...
Everyone loves a good coming of age story and, hey, if there are also werewolves? Bonus!
Ginger Snaps is one of my favourite back-to-school horror movies because, let's be honest, it's more than a little messed up. There's a good mixture of gore and humor, without there being too much of either and I love that Brigitte & Ginger weren't any kind of normal, even before the lycanthropy came into it.

Also Watch: Blood & Chocolate
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I'll fight anyone who says Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a bad movie.
Come at me.
I really don't get all the hate Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets. No, it's not as good as the TV series, but it's still fun and creepy.
Okay, yeah, it's a little cringe-worthy but hello? Did you live through the Nineties?!

Also Watch: My Best Friend is a Vampire
5. Final Destination

A Million Ways to Die in an American High School.
The Final Destination movies are so much more clever than you really appreciate upon first watching. The deaths are deviously devised and carried out to hilarious, horrifying effect. There isn't a Destination film I don't love.
(*cough, cough* Devon Sawa...)

Also Watch: My Soul to Take
4. The Craft

I was a teenage witch - both a factual statement and how I would describe The Craft.
The Craft deals with some pretty serious issues of race, identity, unhealthy relationships, abuse, and more. Honestly, though, you're too busy enjoying the wicked magic to think too hard about all that.
Basically, the cinematic embodiment of The Rule of Three.

Also Watch: The Covenant
3. Scream

Oh, high school... you evil, murderous bitch...
Amiright?
Scream is just too fun. It brings back memories of hanging out with friends, laughing at horror movies, and eating more junk food than I would have thought humanly possible. Oh, yeah, and wanting to kill your boyfriends...
Just me?

Also Watch: A Nightmare on Elm Street
2. Disturbing Behavior

If Disturbing Behavior teaches us anything, it's that you can't trust adults. They're all a bunch of- Wait, huh? WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M AN ADULT?!
Disturbing Behavior is basically The Stepford School, with plenty of teenage angst and nookie. You know... if that's your thing.

Also Watch:The Faculty
1. The Awakening

This surprisingly underrated movie is my number one choice for back-to-school horror. It's has that bleak, sombre feel that only British films really capture, with brilliant performances by great British actors, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.
The contrast of intensely erotic moments followed by unexpected frights guarantee The Awakening will get your heart pounding - one way or another.

Also Watch: The Devil's Backbone


As always, I want to hear your opinions! Do you agree with my back-to-school horror favs? Get in touch on twitter (@witchybelle4u2), Facebook, or drop a comment below.

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