I'm trying to get back into the habit of doing my pop culture posts - Links to Love, Bad Romance, and, of course, Watch/Read/Listen. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love anything creepy, spooky, scary, or straight up weird to get me in the mood to celebrate. That means that I've got an oversize edition to help you find your inner weirdo, just in time to celebrate.
We Are What We Are - This remake of a 2010 Mexican film of the same name is about a family that stays together by eating together. Unfortunately, what they eat together sometimes includes human flesh, so that's kind of a problem. When their mother dies unexpectedly, two young girls are forced by their domineering father to carry on the family's macabre tradition. Watch if: you're looking for a classical "hillbilly cannibal" horror story, but also want hauntingly lovely cinematography and great acting.
The Host - I have to admit, I wasn't the biggest fan of direction Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, which so many people were praising to the rafters a couple of years ago. Perhaps it was a disappointment because I was such a fan of The Host, which manages to be scary, moving, pointed (the ineptitude of the US military is what kicks the whole thing off), and funny all at once. Watch if: you're looking for a creature feature with both literal and metaphorical bite.
The Voices - I know people have very divided opinions about horror-comedy, but I'm solidly in the pro camp. The humor in The Voices is definitely on the black side, but it's got Ryan Reynolds, talking animals, and a series of misunderstandings that would probably be funnier if they didn't lead to a body count. Watch if: you're in the mood for some lighthearted serial murdering.
House of Leaves - I don't usually recommend something that I haven't yet experienced for myself, but I've gotten so many recommendations from my friends over the years to read this book that I have to pass the word along. Trippy, post-modern, disorienting, and unnerving are all words that they've used to describe this book to me. I just picked it up from the library, and I'm excited to see if it adds a little spice to the season. Read if: you just finished the first season of True Detective and you're in the mood for something weird.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - I had this book when I was a kid, and I must have read it cover to cover a hundred times. Some of the stories are genuinely creepy, in large part because of the macabre and suggestive illustrations, although others keep a lighter tone more suitable for kids. Read if: you're feeling nostalgic for what your 12 year old self would have found scary, or you're celebrating the holiday with a youngster who's ready to embrace the creepy side of Halloween.
John Dies At The End - I first read this book a few years back, and it left an indelible impression on me. A strange new drug opens up your mind - so much so that you start to see the cracks in the world. Cthulhu-esque horror meets gross out body horror meets genuinely unsettling WTFery meets laugh out loud humor - it makes the book hard to describe, but it's both a fun and intense read. Read if: you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and drugs.
Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe - I have to admit, Rob Zombie is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. It reminds me of the stuff that I listened to in high school, but without all of the emotional baggage that I attach to that music. Hellbilly Deluxe is fun, a bit silly, and deeply indebted to early 20th century horror films for its imagery and subject matter. Play it: in the background at your Halloween party. If you can't dance to Living Dead Girl, you can't dance.
Madder Mortem - Deadlands - Madder Mortem is my favorite band, and I don't think I'd be doing it right not to take any chance I can get to plug them. Each song in Deadlands feels like it contains an entire world, and I can't help but imagine a story to go along with it. The music throbs and howls and seduces by turns, and the vocals are never less than raw and heartfelt. If you only listen to one song, try Jigsaw - it'll make you feel like a fierce feminist werewolf. Play it: when you need something atmospherically angsty.
Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein - Stranger Things Vol. 1 - I, and, like, the rest of the world with Netflix, really enjoyed Stranger Things when the first season debuted earlier this year. One of the shows secret weapons was undoubtedly its throbbing, 80s inspired synth score, which was catchy, engaging, and just a little unsettling. Play it: when you need some mood music while you're getting ready for a Halloween bash.