My dearest children in the attic,

Happy Spooky Season!!! October is finally here, and I can blend in with the rest of the normies. If you come to my house and see a skeleton hand on the dining room table – Halloween decoration! A taxidermied rat paw in my office, a small cotton ghost in a jar, an actual cat skeleton on a bookshelf, a mug screen printed with Jeremy Bentham’s mummified head, books on cannibalism, spirit photography, and the body trade – LOL HALLOWEEN, RIGHT?

You probably already know this, but I’m a huge horror fan. I watch weird and scary shit year round, but in October I am COMMITTED. Every year I rewatch my favorites (Sinister, Poltergeist, Haunting in Connecticut, Crimson Peak) and then plow through the latest. Right now I got my eye on The Invitation, Watcher, Nope, and X. Also whatever stupid shit Zak Bagans is up to – that’s called a palate cleanser.

Dim car headlights shine through dense fog in a forest

A new thing I’m into this year are docu-series about horror films. I love to hear experts talk about film, and horror is one of my favorite genres. This is also a great option for people who want to know ABOUT scary stories, but can’t handle too much fear or violence in the films. It’s kind of a bite sized amount – enough to feel spicy, but not too much sensory overload. These documentary series give you enough information to participate in the conversation around horror without having to push your own boundaries too much.

And listen, I fucking love to be scared but I ALSO HAVE LIMITS. I can’t watch too much realistic violence or torture – grindhouse is not for me. Last week I set out to write about the phenomenon of Cannibal Holocaust, one of the most infamous horror movies of all time. The story of the making and marketing of this movie is absolutely fascinating, but I COULD NOT WATCH THIS FILM. I had to turn it off after the *first* rape scene. In fact, writing about it was giving me panic attacks, and I actually had to walk away from the newsletter. Which was absolutely the right decision!

I tell you this because I think it’s important to think about what horror does for us, as individuals and as a culture. Some people are really turned off by gratuitous violence, but for others it helps them face fears and release anxieties. I like movies with a creeping dread and psychological suspense, because it actually helps me manage my own dread and anxiety. I like the emotional release of seeing THE WORST THING HAPPEN, and characters walking away unscathed at the end. The most annoying comments I hear from people run along the lines of “there’s enough violence in the world, we don’t need movies about it.” Uh, that’s PRECISELY WHY we need them.

The best horror movies aren’t just about the ghosts and monsters, they’re about us. They’re about the violence of the culture around us – the hidden violence in families, the structural violence of sexism, racism, and homophobia. Cannibal Holocaust, the movie I couldn’t watch, was about colonialism and media – a really sophisticated social critique couched in the most deranged possible filmmaking. There’s a wide range of horror, and I think there’s something for everyone. If you want to get started finding that, or if you’re new to horror or overwhelmed at the possibility of being too scared – these are a great place to start!

Happy Streaming, Ghoulbosses!

A movie vampire

101 Scariest Movie Moments

(Find it on Shudder)

This is a pu pu platter of horror – a tour that will let you sample the genre and expose you to a wide variety of movies – from super old classics to grindhouse to arthouse. The scary clips are brief, so they’re manageable! For horror fans, this is a chance to revisit all of the best movies. New episodes come out every Wednesday and I am already waiting all week for them.

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A promotional image for Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror on Shudder

Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror

(Find it on Shudder)

Horror is and has always been super fucking gay in the BEST WAY. Mary Shelley was bi, DID YOU KNOW THAT???? Bram Stoker wrote Dracula as an allegory for his crush on Oscar Wilde and then became a vocal homophobe DID YOU KNOW??? And not even get me started on Interview with the Vampire. Horror is about transgression and hidden selves, and what could be a better vehicle to talk about queer history? This is like film and history class all rolled up into one, with drag queens and horror icons to guide us. GET INTO IT.

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A still from the film Poltergeist (1982)

Cursed Films

(Find it on AMC+, Shudder, and Amazon)

What I love about this series is it starts from a premise of conspiracy – was this movie CURSED by SUPERNATURAL FORCES?- and moves into the real human stories behind the making of some of our most iconic movies. I started the series like “omg this is such bullshit” only to end up actually CRYING during the Poltergeist and Crow episodes. Because some intensely sad shit happened! And they told the stories so artfully!

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A promotional image for Eli Roth's "History of Horror"

Eli Roth’s History of Horror

(Find it on AMC+, Shudder, and Amazon)

This is the Deluxe Edition of 101 Scariest Moments. The series breaks down the sub-genres through interviews with directors, actors, journalists, and fans about all kinds of horror. The best thing about watching Eli Roth is his love for the work – he’s a director and an actor, and he’s 10+ pumped to be talking to Steven King and Rob Zombie about their work. The episodes are genre-specific, so you can skip something like Body Horror but still tune in for Monsters, based on your comfort level.

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