Fall Anthems

I’m a lazy toad at the best of times but there is one physical activity that is totally my jam and that’s walking in the Autumn.

It harks back to my time living alone in Vancouver, a very introspective period of my life. While I was doing my ‘single life’ navel gazing, there were a couple of tunes that just kept popping up as I stomped about getting shit done.

I’m a creature of habit really, so if a song makes my rotation, it very rarely gets booted off again. So I’m basically listening to these songs still, my Fall anthems. In no particular order:

  • Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
  • Everywhere – Bran Van 3000
  • Army of Me – Bjork
  • Be The One – The Ting Tings
  • Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Cheap & Cheerful – The Kills
  • Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry
  • Rhiannon – Stevie Nicks
  • Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry

I don’t think these songs need any introduction, I just love them, and feel strong and motivated when I listen them. I actually might go out for a little wander around the park in a bit, those fallen leaves aren’t going to crunch themselves underfoot.

You can have a cheeky listen to my Autumn Jams here:

What are your favourites?

Veronica (Film) Review

Halloween month and all is right in the world. Or rather, the world has gone to shit on this side of the Atlantic and across the pond, as Jill and I have been discussing for the last couple of days – but we can always relieve our fears for an hour or so by watching true terror unfold. The question is, which is more terrifying: US/UK politics or a sadistic soul-snatching demon?

*Minor spoilers*

Verónica (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.

My Review

This is ‘loosely’ based on true events, a fact I will leave with you because knowing and believing that will make this an infinitely more frightening tale. It is 1991 and Verónica (Sandra Escacena), our 15-year-old protagonist has been having a time of it. Having recently lost her father, she is expected to look after her three siblings pretty much full-time while her mother works long hours to keep them all afloat. (I’ll not have a word said against Momma who is doing her fucking best. They all are).

Verónica’s siblings are the twins, Lucia and Irene – and her brother AKA the sweetest kid in cinematic history, Antoñito (Iván Chavero). The four of them muddle on but still bicker as brothers and sisters are wont to do. Antoñito has a habit of wetting the bed but is so adorable that you could never be mad at him for long, if ever.

During a lesson at school, on the same day as a solar eclipse, the teacher bangs on about how some ancient cultures use eclipses to summon dark spirits. Verónica and her pals Rosa and Diana already have their own plans and a Ouija board ready to go as soon as the light fades – and all I want to do is scream at the screen: For the love of God DON’T DO IT, girls!

But this would be a short, boring film if they listened to my advice, wouldn’t it?

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“Do you like my tight sweater?”

While the rest of the school, including Verónica’s brother and sisters are on the roof looking through negatives at the sun, the girls are in the basement with the board. V’s end goal is to make contact with her dad, while Diana’s boyf was killed in a motorcycle accident and she wouldn’t mind a chat with him too. Unfortunately, it soon becomes apparent that something isn’t right. The glass on the Ouija heats up to an unbearable temperature but V doesn’t move her hand – and at the exact point of the eclipse, it shatters and she cuts her finger, bleeding all over the board. Then she slips into a catatonic state before screaming like a banshee.

After passing out the school nurse asks if she’s on her period which admittedly does sometimes feel like being possessed by a goddamn demon – but is not the root of all her woes this time around, woman. After that V experiences many strange occurrences, and things get creepier and creepier – naked dad turns up in the night and then changes into a demon, Antoñito gets burnt in the bath, that sort of thing.

Bites and scratches begin to appear all over V’s body and she’s haunted by things that go bump in the day (and night). All the while her BFFs start to avoid her and leave her out because they’re frankly scared of her and she is forced to turn to one of the school’s nuns, “Sister Death” for her help.

Sister Death is an elderly blind-badass who kicks her arse for being so careless during the eclipse then explains that a dark spirit has attached itself to V during the seance. When she tries to dispel it, nothing happens.

*Note, Sister Death is my fave character as she embraces the macabre nickname the kids have given her, stating that it’s more interesting that her actual name. QUEEN.

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You OK, hun?

So Sis Death pretty much just tells V to protect her siblings and hope for the best. She also states that V can force the spirit to leave by doing right on what she did wrong (e.g. waking it up in the first place). V realises (all too late one suspects) that she never signed off on the Ouija and tries to convince Rosa and Diana to get back on the horse so they can say ta-ra to the demon. Realistically but also disappointingly, both girls respond to this request with a resounding “FUCK NO” – and V is on her own.

Forced to do the seance with the kids instead, shit kicks off big style when Antoñito accidentally draws an invocation symbol on the walls, rather than one of protection. Rookie mistake, kiddo but you’re too sweet, I swear. And from here it all goes bat shit as the little cutie is snatched by the demon (who is truly, mind-numbingly hideous).

V calls the po po and helps the twins escape the building and then stays to rescue Antoñito and fight the demon. She uncovers a shocking truth about the whole situation in the process. But will poor Verónica get out before it’s too late?

You know the drill.

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Leave Antoñito alone!

This film isn’t bad and does offer some truly freaky moments but it’s ultimately easy to forget. Escacena as our titular character is very good and likeable so you’ll leave this feeling a little bit sorry for how shit turns out.

I can only imagine how a teenage girl already grabbling with grief and adolescence would feel also having to protect her family from a demon. Like, cut the girl some slack. It all feels very much like a metaphor for burgeoning womanhood and proof as always that men, even from Hell will do anything in their power to sap the energy and vitality out of any woman they can.

Except you Antoñito. You’re golden.

My Rating

3.5/5.

What does my own little demon think of the adventures of poor Veronica? Would she protect it to the death or leave it to its own devices? Find out here.

Stop! (Blogtober) Time 🛑 

Putzel (96)

It’s that time of the year again. Yes, the best season of all, Autumn – and the impending arrival of magical Halloween – but also Blogtober, the month in which I aim to blog every day without fail.

We’ll see how that goes but I’m going to try. I feel like I’ve got a piece of myself back after a hazy and somewhat melancholy Summer, and there’s lots to say about some of the changes I’ve made in my life so if you’re game then I am too. Starting tomorrow there will be a post from me for the next 31 days. Lucky, lucky you!

I’m hungover AF after Friday drinks so I’ll leave this post here for today – and catch you tomorrow.

PS. Anyone else care to join me in this? 🎃 🦇 👻

Halloween Movies – My Top Picks

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Chill, Mike, I got this

As a horror freak I have always loved Halloween. It’s not as huge here as it is in the US or North America, of course but it’s still always been my very favourite holiday. Ever since my Step Son came into my life and we’ve been taking him trick or treating it’s meant even more.

I particularly respect the adults who throw themselves wholeheartedly into their chosen part on the night. This year I’ve decided to go all out and have not one but two costumes planned. The B’s are going to a Halloween house party at the Haunted House on the Hill (AKA my friend Mix’s house). She’s been planning it for months.

I will most definitely reveal more of that when I can, but I’m keeping things under wraps for now. When Mrs B goes to town, she really goes to town. Instead, let’s talk about my favourite horror films to watch in the lead up to All Hallow’s Eve, shall we?

In no particular order:

Candyman, Candyman

So good, Christina Aguilera named a song after him*

Candyman (1992)

Man, I loved this movie as a teen. It still shits me up and everything about it, from the music to the story of the how Candyman became Candyman, was spot on for me.

Virginia Madsen is crazy good as Helen, the curious grad student intent on uncovering the local legend. Question is, are you brave enough?** Candyman, Candyman, Candyman… Nope, not me.

Calm down, dear

Calm down, dear

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

One of the original ‘Video Nasties’ of the seventies, this film is older than I am (and that’s pretty ancient, let’s face it). It’s up there with one of my favourites because I find Leatherface and his family utterly fascinating.

Even more fascinating is the fact that this is loosely based on the real life of Ed Gein who was a messed up individual. Horrible, bleak and hopeless, this is the complete opposite of a feel good movie but you’ll be rooting for the hippies all the way through it, even though they’re quite annoying. Maybe.

Quitting clownin' around

Quitting clownin’ around

House of 100 Corpses/The Devils Rejects (2003/2005)

Heavily influenced by the aforementioned Chain Saw Massacre, Rob Zombie‘s seminal masterpiece(s) hold their heads high in my top ten because they’re damn good. Horrifying, creative and at times hilarious, both movies follow the lives and times of the Firefly Family, a collection of truly heinous individuals.

They might be sadistic, twisted killers but I dare you not to kind of like them.

Just chillin'

Just chillin’

Haute Tension (Switchblade Romance) (2003)

This is a French horror thriller about two college friends, Marie and Alexa, who run into trouble when they spend the night at Alexa’s parents house.

This is one of those flicks that makes you feel sick and will have you peeking out from behind a cushion until its bloody climax. Jumpy as hell and very gory (which I love), it’s a strong horror contender which manages to keep you gripped until the very end. Definitely recommended.

You've got red on you

“You’ve got red on you”

The Descent (2005)

Another movie that likes to play on multiple fears at the same time, it follows a group of women on a caving expedition after one of the gang suffers a horrible tragedy. It’s no surprise that claustrophobia plays a huge part in the overall feel of the movie but that’s the least of their worries when it all kicks off.

Rumour has it that the American release of this movie changed the ending, which enrages me, as I feel the climax is one of the best things about it. Since it’s rare to get to the end of your average horror these days without being disappointed, that’s very annoying. This might just be a rumour but since you might not have seen this move yet, I’m not saying any more. Love this film as it is.

"I just wanna Axe you a question"

“I just wanna Axe you a question”

The Shining (1980)

Until very early this year I had no idea how good (and scary) this story really is. Like many people, I adore Kubrick‘s version of The Shining and, although I never thought too hard about it, was a little bemused by Stephen King‘s hatred for it.

Now I understand that it’s merely a re-imagining and most of the very terrifying events from the book aren’t really captured in the film. I haven’t watched this since I read the book and it’s been a while, so I’m not sure my fresh understanding will alter the way I feel about it, but I hope not.

I’m happy for there to be two versions. I must admit, at first, it was hard to imagine my own Jack Torrance without Nicholson‘s insane rendition getting in the way. But I coped.

"I got the key, I got the secret"

“I got the key, I got the secret”

The Orphanage (2007)

More of a ghost story than an all-out horror flick, The Orphanage is truly spooky. One particular scene has stuck with me and has to be squeezed out of my consciousness whenever I turn out the bedroom light.

Very, very good.

Not Another French Horror Movie

Not Another French Horror Movie

Martyrs (2008)

Even sourcing a still for this post has turned my stomach a little but I do think that Martyrs deserves its place on this list. The film seems to play out in three separate acts, and tells the tale of a young woman hellbent on revenge on the people who kidnapped and tortured her as a child.

I watched it after it was highly recommended to me by my work colleague and I had no idea what was to come. In fact, I thought it would be pretty standard torture porn fare but actually it gave me so much more than that.

I can honestly say I will never watch it again, since it’s a horrible ride but I think it’s worth it for the final reveal and for the concept itself. At least it tries to be different. Oh, and it’s also French and those French do horror bloody well.

Knife to see you, to see you... knife

Knife to see you, to see you… knife

Halloween (1978)

As if any Halloween list could omit the King of all horror movies! One doesn’t simply forget to reference Michael Myers and his sister, Laurie.

This movie has everything: the plucky heroine, the escaped mental patient with a past, the slutty BFF, the score… its pure perfection really and anyone who’s anyone will fit this into their viewing schedule this October. It’s practically the law. Thanks John Carpenter, for your contribution to the tried and tested slasher movie formula.

So there you have it – my favourites.

How about you guys? Now I know some of you are big film fans so I need recommendations stat! What are you Must See/Go To Halloween Horrors and why? Don’t be shy!

skeleton-spin* not really!
** say his name 5 times in the mirror and then… POW!