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The Definitive, Indisputable, All Time Top 5 (my favorite) Horror(ish) Movies Ever Released… In April

Written by Briant Laslo

Briant Laslo

My goal here is to go throughout the year and each month pick out five of the best films, in my opinion, that in some way or another fit into the horror genre. They may not have been box office smashes. They may not have been critical successes. Some of them might even be more funny than scary. But, all of them will have made some kind of contribution to the genre or, at the very least, made their mark on me personally.

Entering the second quarter of the year and now we are really hitting our stride when it comes to a good selection of horror movies! This month is the first time in this endeavor where some actual hard decisions had to be made because there are way more than just five movies which could be considered for a list such as this.

Top five lists are, by their very nature, subjective and meant to be fun, conversation starting pieces. So, I encourage everyone to get involved in the comment section. Give us your top five, or talk about any of the films I mentioned. So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Horror (ish) Movies Ever Released in the month of April!

The Hunger, April 29, 1983. There are multiple reasons for this film to make the list, and maybe a couple why it shouldn’t as well. But, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon (with some brief appearances from a young Willem Dafoe) alone are enough to have it considered. On top of that, the overall presentation and appearance of the movie is really unique, and anytime you have an actual appearance by Bauhaus playing “Bella Lugosi’s dead” is a plus. The reason this is ranked fifth and not any higher is that the premise of the movie, the idea of an addicted vampire being faced with the choice of would they want to continue being immortal knowing they are addicted, is really undone by the final sequence. For those who are not aware, the studio wasn’t happy with the ending as it was written and demanded a rewrite with the ending that is on film, essentially completely changing the ending. Most of the folks involved in the creative side of the movie, as well as the actors, were very unhappy about this, and I have to side with them. If the original ending, which was the scene where Sarah kills herself, remained as the actual ending, then this movie may have ranked higher.

A Quiet Place, April 6, 2018. I really enjoyed this movie. It almost entirely takes place after an apocalyptic invasion and involves a bunch of alien creatures who have super heightened hearing but are blind. There are large portions of the film where there is no
discussion at all between the characters, forcing them to convey thoughts, emotions, and instructions through a combination of sign language and just facial gestures. The actress Millicent Simmonds, who plays the deaf daughter of the main couple, is a deaf actress and played a large role in helping everybody involved understand not only the different ways she has learned to communicate, but her perception of the world around her in general. I like the fact they don’t really go into the downfall of society too much (they delve more into this in the sequel, which is also good, but not as good). My one complaint is that as extraordinarily dangerous as these aliens appear to be, they seem to always be present when any kind of sound is made. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the movie, but as long as you can get past this unnecessary omnipresence, then I’ll think you find this very enjoyable. Plenty of tension, some good jump scares, and overall just an enjoyable story. This is also the highest earning horror movie ever released in April.

American Psycho, April 14, 2000. Is this really a horror movie, or just a sarcastic take on society in general? I’m not sure, but I love virtually every part of this movie apart from one specific scene. In general, I love Christian Bale’s performance as the lead character Patrick Bateman. The movie is certainly bloody and gratuitous in a number of ways. But, the way that Patrick Bateman makes his way through the upper crust of society, almost trying to make people realize what he actually is, comes off as both hilarious and then terrifying when you realize how possible it really is. I think the ending of the movie is brilliant, leaving the viewer to wonder, “how much of what I just watched actually happened?” The one scene I think should have been cut is the chainsaw scene. I’ll just leave it at that, you’ll know it when you see it because it doesn’t fit in with the feel of the rest of the movie. Note: this is the second movie on this list from April with Willem Dafoe appearing in it.

The Evil Dead, April 15, 1983. The top two movies in this month’s list are similar to Psycho last month in that there is no way to create any kind of legitimate “best of horror” list that doesn’t include both of them. The Evil Dead is probably the greatest platter horror movie of all time. Low-budget, ridiculous amounts of blood, horrifying creatures despite the low-budget, and revolves around young folks stuck out in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with an evil book made out of human flesh. The movie received a rating of X back when it was originally released. Despite that, the film caught on and has grown into one of the biggest cult franchises of all time, spawning sequels, TV shows, video games, and countless types of merchandise. If you’re looking for some dark comedy, more blood than you know what to do with, plenty of jump scares and tension, then you need to see The Evil Dead if you haven’t already. Make sure it’s the original, from 1983, not the remake which came out in 2013. Also, for a mildly interesting story on the films primary star, Bruce Campbell, check out my video about the time I met him in person: https://www.patreon.com/posts/time-i-randomly-64137838

Note: I also met and got to hang out with Ted Raimi (twice) who appears in the film and is the brother of the creator and director, Sam Raimi. But I’ll save his story for another time.

Dawn of the Dead, April 20, 1979. Here you have it folks, one of the best horror movies of all time, any month. As I said in previous articles, I am a zombie fan, but Dawn of the Dead transcends the genre of zombie, or horror. It’s a low-budget movie that manages to tell a great story, have plenty of action and blood, and it still makes some great commentary on society and humans in general. I have to watch myself on this review because I could easily go off and write 5,000 words just breaking down this movie and telling stories about it. The movie itself is set in Pennsylvania and is about the zombie apocalypse. You’ve got your ragtag bunch of survivors trying to make sense of what is happening and find a way to survive, or at least ride it out. This is another movie with tons of blood, and guts, and gore, and extremely graphic scenes of both zombies dying, humans dying, zombies eating humans while they are dying, humans killing humans… You get the idea. But on top of all of that, the movie is the first of the horror/zombie genre that makes the point that the zombies aren’t really the bad guy here. They’re just a force of nature, they’re just something that happened. The humans are the real danger. The movie also does a fabulous job of breaking stereotypes from the 70s. One of the primary characters is Peter Washington, a black cop played by Ken Foree who, unlike most black characters in horror films, does NOT die! I was lucky enough to be able to watch the original 70 mm cut of this film along with most of the actors from the movie and if you’re ever able to see the original cut, which is significantly longer than the theatrical version, you definitely want to! The scenes showing the everyday life of the survivors inside the mall really added to the overall atmosphere of the movie. The movie was shot in Monroeville Pennsylvania at a shopping mall, which is still in operation today. I’ve been able to meet virtually every member of the cast and own a DVD signed by all of them. I’ve also been able to meet Tom Savini, who not only appears in the movie but does most of the makeup special-effects. I’ll save my story about him for another time because I was also able to meet the man himself, George Romero. You can check out the video story on him here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/godfather-of-64138609

Honorable Mentions: The Amityville Horror (remake) April 15, 2005. Pet Semetery (the original) April 21, 1989. Insidious April 1, 2011. House of Wax April 10, 1953 (this one was really hard to not include). The Seventh Sign, April 1, 1988. The Howling, April 10, 1981.

And there you have it everyone, inarguably, the best 5 horror movies ever created and released in the month of March! Look forward to your comments and I’ll have another one out for you all next month.


Find Brian Laslo on his Patreon at: https://www.patreon.com/BLaslo

GOTHIC WORDS OF WISDOM

Lovely, dark words of wisdom for the best of months…

BLOG POSTS

IRON WRITER VOTING IS OPEN

Iron Writer submissions are now closed and the voting is open. Four writers wrote four flash fiction stories inspired by four prompts, pictured below. Stop by the website, read their work and vote for your favorite. One vote per piece per IP address, so if you like more than one you can vote for more than one… but only once. The four stories are:

And I Will Pray No More BY JAY WILBURN

Glamours All the Way Down BY LARK CERULEAN

The Descent BY BRIANT LASLO

Tangled Up in Meditation Blues BY DAVID CLEAR

The four prompts for Iron Writer July 2021

We also had some of the Iron Writers from June join us for a reading which you can watch here. Reading was K.R. Segriff, Alina Maciuca, Barbara Krasnoff, Briant Laslo and Naching Kassa. K.R. Segriff was our Iron Writer for June.

HWA LIFETIME ACHEIVEMENT AWARD: MARGE SIMON

How did I miss this congratulating Marge Simon for this? StokerCon was such an insane time is my official excuse, but it isn’t adequate. Congratulations to a dear friend on a well deserved honor. Marge Simon is one of those wonderful people that will tell you like it is with love. She is a champion of talent, always busy doing something to help someone.

When I first joined HWA she graciously took me under her wing. One of my favorite memories is standing outside the hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan during a StokerCon in matching hats, smoking cigarettes, something neither of us did regularly, but it was wonderful. Congratulations to a beautiful woman with a sly sense of humor, a discerning eye and a heart that bleeds ink.

From the HWA: Marge Simon lives in Ocala, Florida with her husband, poet/writer Bruce Boston and the ghosts of two cats. She edits a column for the HWA Newsletter, “Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side.” Marge’s poems and stories have appeared in Pedestal Magazine, Asimov’s, Crannog, Silver Blade, Bete Noire, New Myths, Daily Science Fiction. She attends the ICFA annually as a guest poet/writer and is on the board of the Speculative Literary Foundation. She has won the Rhysling, several Stoker’s and the Strange Horizons Reader’s Award. She is the second woman to be acknowledged by the SF &F Poetry Association with a Grand Master Award.

Marge has been a member of Pen of the Damned since June 2019. If you’d like to reach out to Marge, you can find her using the Facebook link below, and by all means, feel free to visit her Amazon author page so you too can experience why this distinguished poet and author is so incredible!

Facebook: Marge Simon
Amazon Author Page: Marge Simon

“Altars and Oubliettes” Best of 2020 From Tor’s Nightfire

While I have been busy in other realms in cyberspace (we are behind the scenes building two websites plus) I just found out that Altars and Oubliettes was named a Best Poetry Collection of 2020 by Tor’s Nightfire. Did I expect this? Not at all. I have barely even mentioned the book since I released it last October. Am I in shock? Why yes, yes I am.

Altars and Oubliettes was the poetry collection that I started two years ago and then trashed when I realized I didn’t like much of it. Marge Simon was my mentor during that time. I knew I didn’t like it but I couldn’t tell if I was being overly critical or if it was mostly crap.

I asked Marge her thoughts. She kindly critiqued it for me and super nicely confirmed my worst fears: it was mostly crap. Consequently, she became one of my very good friends that I turn to often for input. I’m honored she has given me a foreword for Altars. If you have a professional friend that will be honest with you about your work, you have found gold. Marge Simon is gold.

Which is why I’m so excited to see Mary Turzillo and Marge Simon’s collection also on that list! I’ve read Satan’s Sweethearts and I loved it. The voices of female serial killers slide off the page to lodge in your mind. You won’t soon shake off their delicate and deadly influence. One of my pet peeves is that no one much mentions the female serial killers. I suspect there aren’t as many reported because women don’t tend to get caught. Perhaps it’s poets rather than police that should be after them. Marge and Mary did an excellent job of capturing these killers.

There are other names on the list I’m familiar with and consider friends. Ashley Dioses, K. A. Opperman, Michael Bailey and Christina Sng are all poets whose work I’ve read and recommend. I’m ordering many of these books off Tor’s list after I recover from the shock of being included.

On a side note… in the first paragraph I mention that we are working on two websites. Very soon we will be showing off a new Space and Time website that has some crazy amazing new opportunities. We’ve been working hard back here (by we I mean Kyra Starr, web genius). The other website will remain a mystery for a little longer.

And speaking of Kyra Starr, we will be releasing a poetry book together this April to celebrate National Poetry Month. Called Kraken Fever, here’s the blurb:

Two poets, trapped in the suffocating depths of 2020. From them came poetry, bubbling to the surface, seeking the light. Two drowning voices, an ocean between them, buried their fears in the monsters they created together. Kraken Fever is the golem they built from ink, paper and a sea of tears. But more on that later as well.

For now, here’s the write up Aigner Loren Wilson did for her “Best of” list. The complete list is definitely worth checking out here. All I can say to conclude is wow… thank you Aigner Loren Wilson for noticing my little collection. And speaking of poetry… there’s one more day left to get a line in this month’s Exquisite Corpse over at (the old) SpaceandTime.net.

First Ever Ghost Story Game

Happy Halloween!

Six authors got together to play an impromptu story telling game. Join us and laugh as we try to make up spooky tales on the spot. Thanks to Kate Jonez and Omnium Gatherum for helping bring the Ghost Story Game to life… and thanks for the brave participants: Geneve Flynn, Lee Murray, Austin Gragg, Ryan Aussie Smith and Eric Shapiro.

The End, a Beginning and Winners!+

Tonight marks the last day of A.F. Stewart’s annual October Frights Blog Hop. This year seventeen blogs participated over the course of five days. At the end of this post, you will find a list of the Hoppers. It’s always fun… and I already look forward to next year.

As the October Frights Blog Hop ends for the year, Suite and Sour is uploaded to Amazon and awaiting approval. The second book after my Bram Stoker Awards Finalist® Bitter Suites, I’m excited to release the next part of the story. As soon as it’s live on Amazon, I’ll be posting here and on my social media.

And speaking of winners… I ‘won’ a new grand-daughter yesterday! And more winners… John Reinhart won my book swag contest with Loren Rhoads as a second winner! Congratulations everybody!

Finally, it’s just been confirmed that I’ll be participating in the Local Author Fair hosted by Mid-continent Public Library with 11 other authors. You can find that link here.

We will be participating in three panels as well to answer questions from moderators as well as the audience. You can see those (and sign up) here. I’ll be running a special Ghost Story Game event hosted by Omnium Gatherum to be played for Halloween. More on that soon. Finally, I’ll be on the HWA Skeleton Hour with other Black Crane authoresses in early November.

I’ll announce all dates as they come closer. For now, I need a rest. That’s been three books and a magazine published, edited another book and a new grandbaby in about three weeks or less.

I think I’ll go to bed early. And while I snooze, here are the other blogs to visit from the hop…

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Night to Dawn Magazine & Books LLC

Hawk’s Happenings

Heidi Angell

Curiosities

James McDonald

Always Another Chapter

Spreading the Writer’s Word

Yours in Storytelling

Carmilla Voiez

Hello Romance

GirlZombieAuthors

Frighten Me

M’habla’s!

Brain Matter

NLCARTERWRITES.COM

Happy Neewollah!

My mind is blown!

Today I was going to post the poem I wrote for another project called Happy Neewollah and I decided to look up the pretend word neewollah, or Halloween backwards.

I almost lost it when I found out that there’s been an annual Neewollah Festival since 1919… and it happens in Independence, Kansas!

That is Kansas, not Missouri but I checked and this other Independence is only 3 hours away. I’m going to try and go this year, but if I can’t swing it this fast it’s on my calendar to go next year. Neewollah 2020 runs from October 23—31. You can read all about it here.

And now, for that silly poem.

Happy Neewollah!

Happy Neewollah!
May your pumpkins be merry
and your glowsticks bright.

Frolick in the fields
with your bobbing apple eggs
hunting leprechauns.

Wear your mistletoe.
No protection? No kissing
under the fireworks.

Taxes in July
while the shamrocks wilt away 
and the bunnies hide.

The turkeys this year
aren’t all birds on our tables—
some of them are us.

That’s 2020…
it’s been a Mad Hatter Year—
unprecedented.

This year is backwards.
It’s the first Halloween where
un-masked is scary.

His and Her Books

Completely by coincidence Ryan and I both had our books go live on Amazon on the same day—his and her books! While his official publish date for Shadow’s Lament was October 1 there was a delay in the actual upload so it actually went live today. Altars and Oubliettes, my latest poetry chapbook, also went live today.

You can find Shadow’s Lament by Ryan Aussie Smith here.

Find my poetry book, Altars and Oubliettes here.

I am very proud of Ryan’s first book. He stuck with it and created a world. He researched all sorts of medieval stuff. He survived editing three times. He wrote a 100k word story. It’s pretty damn good. He is officially an author.

His and her books

You can tell where all my book love went. I threw my poetry book up in a day (layout, not content). I used Amazon’s cover creator for the first (and last!) time. And I forgot to add my description. Instead, you will find some cryptic Xs. Yes, please feel free to laugh.

I’ll help by sharing a screenshot… and now I better go fix that.