Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Top 10 Horror Films of 2015

Here it is, my illustrious list of the Top 10 Horror Films of the year. 2015’s horror releases were much better than 2014. Last year I had a hard time compiling ten worthy films, and this year I had a hard time bringing it down to ten films, but I am not complaining. Here is hoping that 2016 brings us even more!

(Although I am still upset that the new Friday the 13th got pushed until 2017.)

Disclaimer: I would like to add that although I watch a lot of horror films and I try to see everything, I didn’t get to see every single horror film that was released this year. This is not my job; it’s just a hobby of mine. So if you don't see something great on this list, it’s most likely because I did not get to see it yet. Also, this list is my opinion and my opinion only. If you do not agree with it, then that is okay. Feel free to post your top 10 in the comments, but please, let's not start a war over this. It is just a list.

That being said, here is my list...

10. Knock Knock

Eli Roth has not directed a film since Hostel: Part II, so I was really looking forward to seeing The Green Inferno. After seeing it however, I was pretty disappointed with it. Knock Knock, which was released within the same month of The Green Inferno, is the better of the two films, in my opinion. The movie is completely messed up on a psychological level.

9. The Atticus Institute

The Atticus Institute was a straight to video surprise. The film is presented in a documentary style and follows a group of researchers looking to find people who have supernatural abilities. With a lot of bad luck, they eventually find someone who fits the bill, but there is more going on with her than they initially are led to believe. The only reason this film is not higher on my list is because it did have a small area where it dragged a tiny bit before reaching the climax. Other than that, this movie was crazy.

8. Tales of Halloween

Tales of Halloween is an anthology horror film comprised of ten short films revolving around, you guessed it, Halloween. Although this movie was not as enjoyable as Trick 'r Treat, it was still a blast to watch. Out of the ten shorts, I think only two of them I did not like.

7. Dark Summer

This movie had a similar vibe to It Follows, even the main character of Dark Summer was one of the actors from It Follows. For being a low budget horror film, it did a perfect job at building great creepy atmosphere. Something big budget horror movies tend to forget even exists. The surprise ending was even something I did not see coming.

6. Insidious: Chapter 3

As many people I know, I was kind of let down with Insidious: Chapter 2. I felt it was not as strong as the original, as some sequels usually go. I did not hear good things going into Chapter 3, but I gave it a shot anyway. After the movie finished, I felt it was better than Chapter 2. The whole dynamic of the girl being unable to walk around due to having broken legs added to the creep factor. It’s nice to see Leigh Whannell getting into the director’s chair. (Saw VIII next?)

5. The Lazarus Effect

This movie received a lot of negative reviews when it was first released, but when I finally got to see it, I really enjoyed the hell out of it. The story follows a group of researchers experimenting on reviving the dead. I find subjects like this very intriguing. That being said, these researchers find out the hard way why you shouldn’t play around with death.

4. The Last Shift

This movie kind of came out of nowhere for me. I did not hear much about it until after it was released. One look at the cover and I thought it was going to be another cheesy throwaway horror film, but as they say, never judge a book by it’s cover. Well, in this case, a blu-ray cover. This movie is creepy and weird from start to finish with elements reminiscent of the Manson Family. Definitely worth a top five spot.

3. I Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance Is Mine

I honestly was not expecting much from this film going into it. Although it brings back the female lead of the 2010 remake, I was a little skeptical that the director who helmed the first two films was not doing this one. Oh man, did I sure have a surprisingly good time in the end. Not as much gore as the first two, but the gore it did have did not hold back. Also, the story had a lot more substance to it than just a typical revenge flick.

2. Deathgasm

Dethgasm is bat shit crazy, but that is a good thing. The story follows a couple of black metal fans who form a band in a garage. They accidentally release a demon onto the town by playing music written by a mysterious musician. Anyway, chaos ensues and they must fight for their lives against the now zombified townspeople. If you are a metal fan, a zombie fan, or just a horror fan, this is worth checking out. (P.S. Deathgasm is the possibly the best name for a metal band.)

1. It Follows

I know some people are not going to agree with this, but hey this list is all for fun, calm down. There were not any horror films this year that really blew me away like It Follows did. Sure, you might argue the movie has flaws, but that could be said about any film on this list or in the history of time for that matter. The concept, the music, and the execution of this film all come together into something truly amazing. An eerie atmospheric instant classic.

Honorable Mention: POD

So there it is, my Top 10 Horror Films of 2015. If you haven’t seen or even heard of any of these films, then I suggest you really look into them. If you’re into horror, then you should at least give them a rent.

Check out last years list, Top 10 Horror Films of 2014.

Check out the rest of my lists on my page A List of Lists.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Writing: Distractions During Writing - Part 1: The Internet

When thinking about what could possibly be a distraction when writing, many things came to mind. So much so that trying to fit them all into one blog post would have been a nightmare. Therefore, this will be a multi-part series focusing on distractions. Who knows how long it will actually go for? As long as there are distractions, I will keep posting them.

That said; let us get into the first distraction that can halt the writing process.

The Internet.

No Internet
"No Internet" by Marcelo Graciolli is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I think we all have done it from time to time. You sit down at your computer, trying to get yourself into gear to write. You open up your word processor of choice, but then open up your internet browser and start going to your favorite websites. Before you know it an hour has passed, and you still have not started your writing.

Maybe you have started your writing, but jumped online "real quick" to check something out. Then got side tracked, and never really got back to your writing. Either way, the internet can wait. It will still be there when you are finished.

Here are three ways to distance yourself from the internet in order to focus on your writing.

1. If possible, dedicate a computer or laptop to your writing, one that does not have any internet access whatsoever. That way even if you are tempted to hop on the internet, you will not be able to.

2. Write by hand in a notebook or on a legal note pad, far away from a computer. The downside to this option is that you will eventually have to go back to your computer to type the things you wrote. The upside however, at least the writing aspect is complete. In addition, you will be able to edit some of your writing as you go through and type it up.

3. If the other two options just do not work for you then the last step to rid yourself of the internet is simply shutting off your internet modem or home wifi connection. With this option, you will not have access to the internet throughout your home, until you turn it back on. It may sound drastic, but if it allows you to get some writing finished, then so be it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Top 10 PG-13 Horror Films of All Time

I am not a fan of Horror movies that receive a PG-13 rating, and I sure do hate it when Hollywood cuts an R rated film down just to get a PG-13 rating. PG-13 rated Horror films are mostly, for a lack of a better term, crap. However, there are a few diamonds hidden within the huge Mt. Everest sized rough.

Here is what I think are the Top 10 PG-13 Horror Films of All Time.

10. The Sixth Sense

Everyone remembers the famous line, “I see dead people.” The Sixth Sense, known for its twist ending, is a fun chilling horror film without all the blood and gore. Staring Bruce Willis, the film became almost an instant classic among horror fans. Unfortunately, for director M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense seemed to be a one hit wonder for him as none of his later horror films captured the essence this film delivered.

9. Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Killer Klowns from Outer Space… I mean, the name says it all. This classic film from the 80’s is weird, creepy, and hilarious. Another film that shocked me that it was PG-13 when researching this list. The special FX’s makeup for the Klowns look superb. This one is sure to give kids nightmares for weeks. Shorty is my favorite clown in the film.

8. Tremors

A horror movie from the 90’s about giant underground worms eating people in a remote town, starring Kevin Bacon and Reba McEntire. Yes, you read that right. All joking aside, this film is a classic. It started a franchise that is still going to this day. (Four sequels and a television show.) Although I am not a fan of any of the sequels, the original Tremors is great PG-13 horror.

7. Cloverfield

Cloverfield is a found footage monster film. That being said, it is one of the better found footage films. (Perhaps I should make a Best Found Footage List?) They do not show the monster a whole lot, but that is what happens in most monster movies. The film hides many strange secrets. What is up with the splash in the water at the end? The rumblings of a sequel seemed to have died, but oh well. This film is good enough by itself.

6. Drag Me to Hell

Drag Me to Hell is another movie that surprised me. By the looks of the trailer, I did not feel I was going to like it, but after viewing it, I thought it was great. I am not usually a fan of gross out horror, but this movie was fun. It is interesting that this movie is PG-13 with all the sick things in it. This one is sure to make you flinch or gag.

5. The Possession

There are many horror films about someone getting possessed and then having an exorcism to save that person. The Possession is one of the better possessed/exorcism films, especially for PG-13. The crazy things that happened once Emily gets possessed are truly terrifying. Instead of the demon performing weird contortion acts, it seems to display true power over its surroundings.

4. 1408

I really enjoyed 1408. Based on a short story by author Stephen King, the film is weird, freaky, and best of all; it is about a writer. I love seeing all the writing aspects of the film. It is inspiring, in an odd way I guess. The third act tricks you into thinking one thing, but goes somewhere else, straying from the cliché horror trends. Do not go in room 1408.

3. The Ring (2002)

The Ring is a U.S. remake of a Japanese film called, Ringu. There is enough imagery in the film to make you uncomfortable and scared without throwing gore all over the place. The sense of dread throughout the film collimates into an eerie finale.

2. Insidious

Insidious is one of those horror films you think would be rated R from the looks of the trailer. However, it is not, and just like the rest of the films on this list, it is scarier than most R rated films; which comes as no surprise from director James Wan (The Conjuring) and Leigh Whannell (Saw). The incorporation of astral projection into the story always intrigued me.

1. The Monster squad

The Monster Squad is, in my opinion, the definition of what PG-13 is. The film follows a group of kids that create a club about monsters, but end up having to save the town/world when Dracula and the rest of the Universal monsters threaten to kill everyone. The practical special FX’s in this film are top notch. (The Wolfman always terrified me as a child.) Monster Squad is a horror classic, and deserves the number one spot on this list.

Honorable Mention: The Woman in Black

This movie really surprised me. A cheesy looking horror movie staring the kid that played Harry Potter, yeah like that will be any good. Well, I was wrong. Daniel Radcliffe does a great job and The Woman in Black creates a creepy atmosphere (which some horror movies lack these days) within its haunted house, which is sure to scare you. The same cannot be said for its sequel however.

Disclaimer: As with all my lists, this is of my opinion and my opinion only. If you do not agree with this list, then that is okay. Feel free to post your top 10 list in the comments below, but there is no need to start an argument over this. It is just a list.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Writing: Finish What You Started – Setting Yourself Up for Success

There is nothing more discouraging than being passionate about writing, yet never able to truly finish anything; having it always lurking in the back of your head as just another unfinished project. I will get to it eventually, or one day I will work on it, you say to yourself.

Here are some of my tips to help set you up for writing success.

Set a deadline for yourself and strive to reach it.

It was not until I entered a contest that I found what a beauty a deadline could be. Yeah, deadlines can stink, but if you are writing for yourself, deadlines can be a blessing. The contest deadline kicked me into gear to write every day in order to complete it in a timely fashion.

Now when I write, I give myself a deadline. A realistic due date that works for me. This lingering date ultimately motivates me to write more often in order to meet that deadline.

You know your schedule; you know what you are writing, look at a calendar and decide for yourself how long you think it will take to write it. If you are writing a novel, maybe break it down by chapters, having a deadline for each one. Small steps are better than no steps.

Create an outline.

Some people write without outlines, and that is fine, but for others, like me, they can help you stay on the right track. I never use to create outlines, but I also never finished anything I wrote either. Now I create a bullet style outline of every scene before I even get into the writing.

When I begin the writing process, I will keep it close by, crossing off the bullets as I go. Not only does this keep me on track, but following the outline clears my mind of thinking about what is next in the story. This lets me think solely on the scene I am currently writing, helping me put as much detail into it as possible.

Find time to write every day.

I wrote a couple of months back on How to Write on a Daily Schedule. In there I talked about how you can get yourself into the habit of writing every day.

Even if it is just for an hour a day, every little bit of writing will help you reach your deadline goal.

Do not edit as you write – just write.

One of the big mistakes I made early on was trying to edit my work as I moved along. I constantly went back to parts I had written and tweaked them repeatedly. Not only did I try to make the writing flawless, but I also kept trying to add things in to make it better.
Long story short, the re-writing did not move me forward, which never allowed me to finish what I was trying to write. All I ended up with was a pile of random pages and an unfinished story.

Save all the edits for when you are finished with a rough draft. That is why they call a rough draft, because it is not complete yet. Getting the whole story down is the first major step. Afterwards, you can go back and sweeten things up. If you think of something new to add, jot it down on a piece of paper and add it in after you have your rough draft completed.


In conclusion, I wish you luck with whatever it is you are writing. There is nothing more frustrating than having something you started writing months, sometimes even years ago, but have never been able to finish. I am not an expert, just a guy with a passion for writing, but I hope that some of the things I shared here can help you finally start finishing rather than just beginning.

I will leave you with this quote...

“If you really want to do something, you'll find a way.
If you don't, you'll find an excuse.”
– Jim Rohn

- Matt

Friday, June 5, 2015

Bring Back the 'Tales from the Crypt' TV Show

From 1989 to 1996, HBO aired a horror show called Tales from the Crypt. With 93 episodes spanning over 7 seasons, each half hour episode had its own story and followed a different set of characters. A rotting corpse known as The Crypt Keeper hosted the show, setting up each episode’s story before it began and closing the episode out after it finished.

Television shows revolving around horror are very popular right now. There has been a surge of horror themed shows in the last few years. Shows like Bates Motel, Hannibal, American Horror Story, and The Walking Dead. I know there are many more on the air right now, but these are the ones that I try to keep up with and enjoy. They are all brilliant in their own way. Some are even pushing the boundaries on how much gore they can show on cable.

New seasons of Tales from the Crypt could capitalize on the growing trend of horror television shows. However, I believe Tales from the Crypt would still stand out from the crowd, not only from its history, but also from the intrigue of each episode having a different unique story. That way there could always be something for everyone.

This is why I think now (as I write this in 2015) is the best time to bring back the Tales from the Crypt television show. I say the television show, because Tales from the Crypt appeared first in comic book form back in the 1950’s.

Tales from the Crypt Logo

Tales from the Crypt not only had one of the most memorable theme songs (I am humming it to myself as I write this), but it also had one of the most memorable show openings. The camera slowly moving its way inside a mansion, down the stairs to a dungeon, all the way to the coffin The Crypt Keeper rested in. To this day, I think it is the coolest thing. People who remember the show know what I am talking about, if you do not, then take a trip on over to YouTube.

The show’s host, The Crypt Keeper, was a puppet operated by a six-man crew and voiced by John Kassir. According to his IMDb page, John Kassir is still very active. He also makes appearances at conventions. Having him come back to the show is a no-brainer. I know they are many talented voice actors out there, but having the original voice actor come back to voice The Crypt Keeper once again, would be amazing.

The Crypt Keeper

The story part of each episode (the tale) were always written and/or directed by someone new and featured an all-new cast. Theoretically, they could film multiple episodes simultaneously.

There are a lot of up-and-coming horror directors and writers with tons of fresh ideas just waiting to be tapped. I am sure most of them would kill to make an episode of Tales from the Crypt, not only for nostalgia purposes, but also for the chance to have their work shown on cable for millions to see. This opportunity could very well be the thing some of them are looking for the advance their careers.

I myself would die if I had a chance to write an episode. Once I got up off the floor, I would begin writing immediately.

In my opinion, I think the best time of the year to air any new episodes of Tales from the Crypt would be October. Starting in September, they could air a small season run of about eight episodes, going throughout October, and finishing up around Halloween. What is a better way to celebrate Halloween, than with the Crypt Keeper?

In conclusion, next year (2016) will be twenty years since the show has been off the air. I think it is about time The Crypt Keeper came back to tell us all some more tales.

That said, I think HBO, or whoever, should really consider bringing back Tales from the Crypt. I say "whoever," because I do not know who owns the rights to the television show anymore. To me, it does not really matter. Please, just bring back Tales from the Crypt.

- Matt

Friday, May 1, 2015

Writing: How to Write on A Daily Schedule

Whether you are writing a novel, a short story, or even a screenplay, finding time in your daily schedule to do so can be stressful. Writing consistently on a daily schedule can be even harder.

Trust me, I know.

I have gone days, weeks, sometimes even months between writing sessions. However, I recently figured out how to get myself writing on a daily schedule. Helping me finish two short stories and a screenplay over the past year. In this guide, I will give you advice on how I learned to write on that daily schedule.

Find the time of day that works for you.

The first thing you need to do is find yourself the right time of day. The best time that you will be able to sit down, away from all the distractions of life, and focus on your writing. I would recommend a time frame anywhere between 1 to 3 hours. Mornings, afternoons, even if it is midnight, find your time and lock it down.

Set small reachable daily goals.

Setting small reachable daily goals will not only inform you of how much you accomplished that day, but will also help motivate you. Completing these goals can help build inspiration inside yourself, driving you to complete more each day.

I tend to go by word count or page count, depending on what I am writing. When I write fiction, I aim for a 300 to 500 word count goal in one writing session. When writing a screenplay, I aim for a goal of 2 to 4 pages per day.

The amount of words or pages you set for yourself to reach each day is up to you, but making them reasonable is the key part. Starting yourself off with an unrealistic daily goal will not only set you up for failure, but not attaining that goal will drown your motivation from those failures. Set your goal low, and aim to hit that goal each day. You can always up the goal as you start new projects and are more accustomed to writing every day.


Write. Write. Write. Stick with it and I promise you will become accustomed to it. The more you get use to writing daily, the more you will feel odd when you skip a day. You might feel like your writing is moving along slowly, but the key to it all is that it is consistent. You will be able to finish things a lot faster than writing whenever you feel like it. In the end, you will accomplish more, and the more you accomplish, the more you will look forward to doing it.

Try not to skip a day unless you truly have to.

There will come days where you might not be in the writing mood. You might want to just skip a day, which is fine, but whenever I skip a day of writing I feel like nothing was accomplished. On those days, use some of the things you love doing to help motivate you to get just a little writing finished. For me, I use video games and television as a motivator. I force myself to get at least one hour of writing complete before jumping into a video game, catching up with a television show, or watching a movie. I might not always feel it going in, but once I am done with my hour writing session, I am happy that I actually did.

If you do skip a writing day here or there, that is fine. I mean, sometimes life happens. If you can, make it more like a reward to yourself than anything. For example, if you greatly exceed one of your daily word or page count goals, then taking a day off would be a nice reward.

Things to consider.

The suggestions I have given you here all stem from the fact that you have outlined everything that you are going to write. If you have everything mapped out, then getting yourself into a daily writing schedule will go fast and smoothly. If not, you can also use this same process for creating an outline, working on it a little each day before diving into the writing portion, never skipping a beat and never loosing that daily writing habit.


In conclusion, I wish you luck with whatever it is you are writing. I am not an expert, just a guy with a passion for writing, but hopefully some of the things I stated here can help you to write on a daily schedule.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Update #1 – Spring 2015

Book at 40%

It has been a little while since my last update. Time flies! In the last year, I not only wrote my first screenplay, but I also filmed a segment titled Smiling Jack for the upcoming horror anthology film, Terrortory. I will talk more about that later.

Also in the last year since my update, I finished writing two more short stories for my book. As you can see from the fancy progress bar above, I am 40% complete the writing portion of the book.

I just wanted to provide an update on things, since it has been so long since my last update. I wanted it to be clear that I am still plugging away on my book. I have not given up, nor do I ever tend to. I still have a lot left ahead of me, but I am enjoying the process every step of the way.

I am still contemplating a title.

In other news...

I am going to start posting more often. I have many random ideas that I believe will make for great posts on here. I have been very busy writing my book, but I think I can manage at least one good post a month.

Stay tuned!

- Matt