Podcast: Movies “So Bad They’re Good”

Later this month, Toronto, Canada, is host to a film festival called What the Film Festival that features “contemporary eccentric cinema.” The podcast Read and Distribute interviewed the festival director, Peter Kuplowsky, who talks about indie film-making and the movies that are “so bad they’re good.” He brings up Reanimator, so I know that he is talking to us horror fans. He introduces various directors and their movies, particularly those that will be shown at the festival, and offers insights on what inspires and motivates people to pursue creative passions like these often forgotten, cult projects.

Check it out at Read and Distribute: Chapter 8 What The Film Edition.



Horror Comedy: High Spirits

When I was an older kid, past 10 but not yet a pre-teen, my favourite way to spend an afternoon was to buy a bag of Munchos chips and a bottle of Tahiti Treat soda pop, and rent High Spirits on VHS. I loved, and still love, its mix of comedy, romance and ghosts.


Every time I watch High Spirits again as an adult, I go into it expecting it to be juvenile because I liked it when I was young. Minutes into the film, I am brought back to the comedy of the 80s: slapstick and irreverent. What I particularly like about the film is that its first quarter or so doesn’t show any ghosts. Its storyline follows a group of well-meaning Irish country-folk trying to save a castle by making it appear haunted. Then, as the guests are forced to settle into the castle a day after they have arrived, a host of ghosts begin to appear and take over the narrative.

Re-watching High Spirits, I am reminded that it does have its scary parts. Creepy nuns and ancestors returning from the dead are two highlights. It is also steeped in Irish supernatural folklore, which makes the ghost storylines seem natural in the setting.

While High Spirits will never be as clever as Beetlejuice or as biting as Death Becomes Her, it stands out as a funny and creepy, classic dark comedy all the same for me. Check it out for yourself: High Spirits on Youtube.


Jordan, Neil. High Spirits, TriStar Pictures, 1988.

Horror Cinema: The Boy (2016)

I started watching The Boy with very low expectations. With the iconic dolls of Chucky and Annabelle dominating the horror genre, I was not sure how this storyline of a possessed doll would play out another time around.

I was pleasantly surprised as The Boy unfolded with its creepy relationship between the main character and the doll, particularly those moments when the main character notices in a mirror that the doll has turned its head to watch her or when objects are seemingly moved around by the doll.

While the movie was a slow burn for the first half or so, once the identity of the doll surfaces, the action kicks into high gear until the end. One aspect of the movie that I especially liked was the strength of its storyline. The villain’s background, as it was revealed, was believable and logical—something I was definitely not expecting going into the movie. The fact that the narrative becomes believable as it unfolds makes the movie that much scarier than the Chucky and Annabelle movies where the villain is supernatural.


Bell, William Brent. The Boy, STX Films, 2016.

Little Shop of Horrors Trivia

I am a massive fan of Little Shop of Horrors. I recently came across a great web page of Little Shop of Horrors Trivia. Did you know that the bizarre equipment used by the dentist has made appearances in other Warner Bros. productions? Notably as Jeremy Irons’ gynecology tools in Dead Ringers (1988) and as the Joker’s plastic surgeon tools in Batman (1989). I love this movie!



Horror Cinema: Wake Wood

I came across Wake Wood last night. It’s a supernatural horror film set in Northern Ireland, and its ambience and story-telling were excellent. In addition to the gore throughout the movie (mostly with livestock, but still unnerving), I liked the character development. Towards the last quarter of the movie, it was a thrill-ride to see one of the main character’s bad decisions coming back to haunt him. The best part: a horrific little girl villain.


Keating, David. Wake Wood, Hammer Film Productions, etc., 2011.

Five of the Scariest, Most Overlooked Female Characters in Horror

by the Bubonic Illiterate


It feels like D-Trump has dumped a Washington, D.C.-sized bucket of hot grease on the world’s good intentions, and now most of us are sizzling with rage like freshly fried mozzarella sticks— rigid and cheesed—our faith in humanity starting to feel like Fred Krueger’s face.

In light of all the Women’s Marches that have recently taken place, I’ve decided to give some praise to my favourite, often overlooked female villains of horror—overlooked because, typically, they’re just secondary or tertiary spooks in their respective films. Still, nothing would make me happier than to see any one of these female fiends in a pink knit cap, bringing her fist down on the oval office door.

1: Mrs. Massey – The Shining


When one thinks of The Shining, a plethora of images comes to mind: Jack Nicholson wielding an axe, Shelly Duval’s bug-eyed, petrified face, the somber Grady twins holding hands in a floral-wallpapered hallway. For me, though, it’s Mrs. Massey. From the mint-green bathtub she crawls out of to the green flesh of her water-soaked sores, Mrs. Massey is the real MVP of The Shining.

2: The Nun – The Exorcist III


The Exorcist III is a hell of a good sequel, and for a handful of reasons. Most notably, it’s got one of the most effective jump-scares in horror film history: a snow-white nun coming at a nurse with a pair of the largest shears you’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour. Do yourself another and have a change of underwear close by, too.

3: Zelda – Pet Sematary


“Raaaaaachell!!” Good lord, Zelda freaks me out. It’s not so much her appearance (though her rail-thinness is totally harrowing) as it is her spring-loaded movements. When she flings herself into a sitting position on her bed, her neck all twisted and back all bones … Jesus, I get shivers just thinking about it. And even though Zelda was played by a man, her character is female, and deserves a good chunk of credit for, in addition to ruining my childhood, making Pet Sematary the gem that it is.

4. Patricia Ann Bradley – The Frighteners


I’ve always loved The Frighteners. It’s fun, dark, and stars Michael J. Fox. What’s not to love? What’s particularly memorable is Dee Wallace Stone’s performance as girlfriend and love-fueled murder accomplice to Johnny Bartlett. Her maniacal dedication to killing is simply awesome, and a large part of what drives the horror into this horror-comedy.

5. Mrs. Kersh – IT


It seems there’s a Stephen King trend going on here. So sue me. As a Gen Y kid, I was raised on these films, and I’d be denying myself an honest list if I didn’t include her. What’s scariest about Mrs. Kersh is that, initially, she’s a comforting character, one you could love like your own grandmother, what with her tea-cup sweetness and gentle concern—that is, until her teeth begin to rot and her face melts into a gruesome rubbery mask of elderly terror, of course.