It's almost over...
...2020 is just hours from being in the rearview mirror, preferably on fire. It's been an awful year for many of us. But humans have this odd trait: it's called hope. Hope keeps us going. It keeps us from allowing ourselves to become completely overwhelmed when the world decides to put on a Michael Myers mask and not even shooting it six times can keep it from getting in a good stab or two. Luckily, in a year with so much tragedy, many of us horror fans still managed to find that hope within the genre, whether it was through specific films as a distraction, friends, the rise of the new or the re-birth of the old.
For a year that was so difficult, 2020 still offered a lot to keep us injected with hope.
Below is a list in which some of our writers at KHC discuss one thing they're thankful for from the horror genre this year. We each chose something that got us through this year, that made it just a little better. Take a look, and let us know what you're thankful for from the genre in 2020.
Happy New Year friends. Hope you have a safe and wonderful night.
More Cage, More Joy - Amy Cerkas
2020 brought many awful things. A global pandemic, Australian bushfires, locust swarms, and Rudy Guiliani’s dripping hairline. But you know what 2020 brought that we could all use more of?
Color out of Space (released in the US in January 2020) is an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s namesake short story. Cage plays the aloof family man Nathan Gardner, whose children discover a crashed meteorite in the backyard. The space rock brings with it a reality-altering pink and purple terror.
Nic’s character gradually dissolves into what fans lovingly call “full Cage”. While his insanity isn’t as full Cage as the vodka-chugging, tighty whitey-clad Red Miller in Mandy (2018), there is sufficient batshit Cage action in Color out of Space.
I’m most thankful for Cage’s performance in this underrated gem, particularly Gardner’s obsession with milking backyard alpacas.
I laughed. I loved. I cringed.
A Collection of Stories from Raven's End - Amylou Ahava
My great love of 2020 came early on when back in March I covered the Glasgow Frightfest and first encountered Ryan Spindell’s Mortuary Collection. Loved the film immensely and have been singing my praise for the movie ever since. The stories, the colors, the gore, the practical effects, the Clancy Brown! All through this long pandemic I had the mortician Montgomery Dark (Brown) and Sam (Cailtin Fisher) to keep me company. And, now luckily for everyone else, the Collection is now available on Shudder (and currently the most streamed film), so everyone can end the year with some amazing stories from Raven’s End.
As for 2021, I have a few hopes and all of them stem from my love for The Mortuary Collection. First, (and this is for Ryan Spindell), please make another Mortuary Collection. I must know more about the deceased members of this quiet little town. Second, and this is for all horror movies, please include more practical effects. If I want to see CGI and have someone flex their computer skills, I will go see a Star Wars. But for horror, I want to see what the creative-Savini-inspired minds have to share in 2021. And finally, if anyone has seen Mortuary Collection, they might have noticed a strong resemblance between Clancy Brown and Phantasm’s Tall Man. And while I will always love Angus Scrimm, a continuation of the Phantasm series might work out with Clancy Brown as the lead villain. #Clancy4TallMan #PhantasmBrown
An Escape with 'Little Hope' - Kalani Landgraf
While we couldn’t go out to celebrate the spooky season that is Halloween, SuperMassive Games published the second chapter in their Dark Pictures Anthology with the bewitching tale of Little Hope. SuperMassive has churned out narratively thrilling horror pieces since Until Dawn. Little Hope is an example of taking horror tropes and genres to tell human stories. Couldn’t think of a better way of spending 2020 than visiting a haunted town inspired by the Salem Witch Trials.
A New Virtual Frontier - Katelyn Nelson
It almost feels weird to say some great things came out of 2020, but while we were all trying to cope with the real-life horrors of the world outside, horror media flourished. Creatives under lockdown pressures found new ways to bring their stories and their platforms to life for a hungry audience, and from the struggle of it all new horizons opened up. For me, the greatest development to come from a year of isolation was media’s move to virtual. Virtual film festivals gave me, as a disabled film critic with not a lot of travel options in normal times, unprecedented access to an experience I wasn’t sure I’d ever get. The move to simultaneous streaming/VOD release with theaters means I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can make it to a theater for my opening-weekend-viewing to matter. I know the move to virtual across the board is a bit of a mixed issue, but for me it has given nothing but positive results.
For 2021 I can only hope that virtual will remain an option even if the decision is made to move back to theaters and in-person festivals. I also hope for the development of more drive-in theaters as an alternative to the standard experience. Whether the pandemic ends in 2021 or not, going back from avenues that have opened doors for disabled people would be a loss heavily felt.
The Re-birth of the Drive-In - Mark Gonzales
In 2020, my favorite movie experience was driving for almost an hour to see The Thing at a drive-in theater. My least favorite experience was driving half an hour to see New Mutants at a different drive-in theater. The soaring highs and the crashing lows of horror films was never more clear than when comparing these two experiences. Sitting in my car with a blanket wrapped tight around my shoulders and watching Kurt Russel set fire to “The Thing Dog” was somehow more exciting than all the times I’ve seen that movie on my TV and even the one time I did see it in a theater. Even when I saw something as bad as New Mutants, the ambiance and nostalgic charm of the drive-in made 2020 slightly more tolerable for two hours or so. Almost every movie I saw at the drive-in was a horror film and the setting is better suited for horror than any other genre. While we are all looking forward to the day in 2021 where we can see horror films in theaters again, I hope that some of us will continue to support drive-in theaters…I know I will.
Streaming and Screaming Watch Parties - Matt Konopka
2020 has been the longest decade of our lives. Yes, it’s only been one year, but it’s felt like an eternity. Making life more difficult for film lovers, theaters have been shut down, films we were looking forward to pulled from release, and special screening events cancelled. But, as Jeff Goldblum’s character Malcolm in Jurassic Park will always remind us, “life finds a way”. Well, filmmakers found a way to get their films to us and recreate the communal experience we receive from theaters.
And you know what? They made it better.
Outlets such as Shudder, Fangoria, and even us at KHC, began hosting social media watch-alongs at the beginning of the pandemic, and we just never stopped. Fans congregated all throughout the year online to tweet along and share their experiences during the film, getting us as close to being able to hear the collective screams in a theater as we normally would. And if you’re a dork like me and love filmmaker commentaries, what made the experiences ones to remember were the fact that filmmakers, actors, and other guests were invited to share in these watches, providing live commentary, behind the scenes photos, etc. At KHC alone, we watched Castle Freak with star Barbara Crampton and Jack Frost with director Michael Cooney, to name a few. Having them there was like sitting in the theater next to them as they whispered little nuggets during the film. Their presence was an absolute treat for fans wanting to share their love of these films with creators, and few things made this year more bearable than watching the films we love with the creators we admire.
Here’s to hoping that horror outlets and theaters in general continue to host these events through social media. Each and every one of them brought together a community that, for a few hours a week, got to share in an experience together, and be reminded that no matter how alone we felt, we still had each other.
The Horror Community Social - Pat Brennan
When it comes to social media, I’m a bit of a luddite. I haven’t been great at keeping up with all the new ways we have to connect with others/show them pictures of our cats. But that changed when the pandemic hit. Suddenly I felt more isolated than ever before in my life, and I desperately wanted to connect with people. So one night I tried my first tweet-along (I believe it was to the film We Are Still Here) and that moment may have saved my sanity during this awful year because it eventually led to connecting me with all of you. In 2020 I found a community to belong to, one that is kind, supportive, and above all accepting. In a year full of unimaginable disaster, I never expected to find such warmth on a platform that used to seem so cold to me. I am truly thankful for all of you in our horror family, and feel lucky to be a member of this community.