Tuesday, October 26, 2010

95 Good and 39 Not So Good Horror Movies for Halloween

Can't spell SLAUGHTER without LAUGHTER - oxymoron

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Horror and Slasher movies. A personal listing by Rebecca Ryals Russell

With Halloween approaching I thought it timely to discuss Horror and Slasher Films. I've been shocked in the past twenty years at the plethora of these films that have graced our theatre and television screens. It seems nearly half of the movies made fit this genre.

I’m going to age myself here, as though you couldn’t guess from my pictures anyway, but when I was about twelve-years-old The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock came out. I was babysitting my sister, five years younger, and we watched it. Alone. Just the two of us. BIG MISTAKE. We woke each other during the night for bathroom company (which was about three feet from our bedroom door) for at least two months afterward. That was the scariest movie I had ever seen.

I had my own children watch it about ten years ago. While they enjoyed the classic nature and awesome direction that was Hitchcock, they weren’t exactly scared. Although the younger ones searched the sky whenever traveling from house to car or vice versa.

That is what has happened to the current generation of teens and twenties. They are completely desensitized to horror, gore, violence. Don’t even get me started on video games! (That’ll be another post.)

 As with all movie genres there are good films and bad to awful films. While researching this I gave it some thought and have categorized the following Horror to A-little-Scary movies into GOOD or NOT SO GOOD according to MY subjective movie-goer senses. If a movie has some psychology behind the scare or is based on actual events, it gets my thumb up. But violence and gore for the sake of it – no go.

The following sites have good info on horror/slasher films:


  1. 1408
  2. 28 Days Later
  3. 28 Weeks Later
  4. 30 Days of Night
  5. Alien(s)
  6. Amityville Horror (original)
  7. Blair Witch Project 1
  8. Burnt Offerings
  9. Candyman
  10. Carrie (original)
  11. Coraline
  12. Cube
  13. Dawn of the Dead
  14. Deliverance
  15. Desperation
  16. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (original)
  17. Event Horizon
  18. Exorcism of Emily Rose
  19. Fallen
  20. Four Horsemen
  21. Frankenstein
  22. Haunting in Connecticut
  23. I Am Legend
  24. Interview With a Vampire
  25. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original)
  26. Jaws
  27. Misery
  28. Mothman Prophecy
  29. Mouth of Madness
  30. Ninth Gate
  31. Nosferatu
  32. Panic Room
  33. Pan's Labyrinth
  34. Planet of the Apes
  35. Poltergeist
  36. Psycho
  37. Quarantine
  38. Resident Evil
  39. Ringu
  40. Rose Red
  41. Rosemary's Baby
  42. Salem's Lot
  43. Seven
  44. Shutter Island
  45. Silence of the Lambs
  46. Sleepy Hollow
  47. Stir of Echoes
  48. Storm of the Century
  49. Sweeney Todd
  50. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original)
  51. The Birds
  52. The Blob
  53. The Descent
  54. The Devil’s Backbone
  55. The Exorcist
  56. The Fly (w/ Jeff Goldblum)
  57. The Howling
  58. The Langoliers
  59. The Legend of Hell House
  60. The Mummy
  61. The Omen
  62. The Orphanage
  63. The Other
  64. The Others
  65. The Ring 1
  66. The Serpent and the Rainbow
  67. The Shining
  68. The Stand
  69. The Thing
  70. The Unborn
  71. Underworld (series)
  72. Untraceable
  73. What Lies Beneath
  74. White Noise
  75. Zodiac Killer
  76. Zombieland

Some things to remember about these lists. They are subjective to the viewer - ME. I have seen most of the movies on the bad list and while I enjoyed them at the time or at least sat through them at least once, I didn't consider them worthy of being called GOOD. The plot was weak, the characterization was weak or non-existent, the ending was lame. You get the point. But there is no reason not to see them just because I put them on my bad list. I love B-rated movies, especially those on the SyFy Channel, but some of these don’t even stand up to my low standards.

  1. 13 Ghosts
  2. 2001 Maniacs
  3. Alien 3 & Resurrection
  4. Arachnophobia
  5. Black Christmas
  6. Cabin Fever
  7. Children of the Corn
  8. Chucky
  9. Cloverfield
  10. Drag Me toHell
  11. Exorcist 2
  12. Final Destination (all)
  13. Friday the 13th (all)
  14. Ghost Ship
  15. Grindhouse (both)
  16. Halloween (all)
  17. Hellraiser
  18. Hostel
  19. House of Wax
  20. I Know What You Did Last Summer
  21. It!
  22. Jaws the Revenge
  23. Joy Ride (all)
  24. My Bloody Valentine
  25. Nightmare on Elm Street
  26. Pet Semetary
  27. Piranha
  28. Prom Night
  29. Pterodactyl
  30. Rest Stop
  31. Return of the Living Dead
  32. Saw (all)
  33. Scream
  34. Silent Hill
  35. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  36. The Grudge (all)
  37. The Hills Have Eyes
  38. Wickerman
  39. Wrong Turn (all)

Here is a listing of Scary stories based on actual events. While I’m not saying these films are GOOD, they are at least interesting from that aspect.
  1. It (1990)
  2. The Ring(1972)
  3. Don't Look Now(1973)
  4. The Exorcist (1973)
  5. Halloween (1978)
  6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  7. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  8. Jaws(1975)
  9. Audrey Rose(1977)
  10. Hills have Eyes(1977)
  11. The Amityville Horror(1977)
  12. The Entity(1981)
  13. Dead Ringers(1988)
  14. Gothic(1986)
  15. Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
  16. An American Haunting (2006)
  17. Primeval (2007)
  18. Them (Ils) (2007)
  19. The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Listing of 6 Writing Rules for Fiction

     With NaNoWriMo coming up next month I thought it might be useful to share some writing rules to follow. Remember, do NO editing, revising or even thinking about the grammar and stuff while you write for the month. All you need to do for this month is write, write, write. The goal is 50,000 words for the month, but if you really get into it you could easily write a lot more. Last year I wrote over 85,000 words in November. The book I wrote was Odessa. The one being published in April 2011!

     These are some writing hints that are a bit more than hints. They are more like rules if you wish to end up with a product worth revising and spending the time to submit for publication. These rules apply to every genre.

1.      1-Include conflict with tension – every story has these and there’s a good reason for that; without either the story is boring. Before you write word one have a clear conflict in your head and outline several steps of tension you will follow to build suspense
2-  2-Start the story at the beginning of the story – NO backstory or descriptions. Begin writing the story with the ACTION that starts the story. Once the reader is hooked you can introduce a backstory and character description.

3.     3-Don’t tell too much too early – provide hints and foreshadowing to build reader curiosity.
4-  4-Make sure you have planned a story arc as well as character arc. Before writing you need several basic items planned out and written down so you can refer back.


Inciting Incident: what causes the story to become a story
First Plot Point: The Set Up; What makes the main character become part of the story, how do they become aware of the problem


Second Plot Point: The Response; What causes the main character to accept his problem
Climax: The Attack; The turning point of the story-the main character handles the problem which ramps up the tension


Resolution: How does the main character fully resolve the problem
Denouement: Final wrap-up for all characters concerned

5.      5-Include information, dialogue and description that relates directly to the problem and the solving of it. Do NOT include description or dialogue simply because you think it’s beautiful or funny. If it doesn’t push the story forward – DON’T USE IT.

6.      6-Lastly, REVISE, REVISE, REVISE. There is no time appropriate time frame for how long you should spend revising, rewriting, editing (and yes, they are all different). It depends on your story and your skills. It also depends on how many times you’ve done it. My first book took two years because I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. My last book took two months.

I'm adding some links for you to go to the NaNoWriMo Young Writers' page and sign up http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/user/register;  http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/howitworks;  http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/resources


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interview with author Karen McGrath

Hi everyone, Rebecca has put together a number of pithy questions for an interview.  This is some of who I am and what makes me tick.  Happy NaNo preparations!  You do know you can download the workbook, right?  If not, email me and I’ll forward the information to you. 
RRR:  Where did the concept for your current book come from?
Karen:  I’m working on two YA novels at the moment, both YA paranormal fantasies.  The concepts came from the age old fight of good versus evil.  It’s exciting writing them!  Incidentally, I am following the NaNo rules next month and starting a completely new novel which is another YA fantasy.  The concept for that came from my last visit to the hospital for a check-up (I’m a three time cancer survivor.)  While driving home I had the most incredible vision for this book and dodged traffic and fire trucks to write it at the (numerous) red lights in Boston!

RRR:  How long have you been working on your latest book (concept to editing)? 
Karen:  The first YA fantasy I’ve been working on and off (mostly off I must admit) for the last year.  The second for the last two months and the NaNo 2010 I’ve been thinking through for the last two weeks - I’m about to do my character sheets and story arc.  Don’t get too excited, these always give way to my imagination –  when NaNo is over I read my starting notes and laugh at how far off track I went.  I’m a pantser at heart!

RRR:  How many books do you have published? 
Karen:  Two books, two short stories.

RRR:  What interferes with your muse and what do you do about that? 
Karen:  Nothing interferes with my Muse.  He is extremely chatty.  And he piles characters into my living room to talk to me as well!  I curtail his writing process I think because I’m not always available, having to edit and take care of my family.

RRR:  Where do you perform your best writing? Why? 
Karen:  I do my best writing anywhere, anytime.  I have a zillion ideas in my head all the time, like I said, I have a chatty Muse. I can write even if I don’t particularly feel like it but I have to push myself to do it.

RRR:  Who was your greatest influence on your writing? Do they know it?
Karen:  C.S. Lewis has inspired me the most.  No, he doesn’t know it!  I read an interview he did about writing the Chronicles of Narnia.  He said he saw a faun in his mind and wrote it down on paper.  I see things like that, too, so I started writing them down.  If I can take dictation half as well as he, I’ll be a very happy and satisfied writer.

RRR:  Did you grow up in a ‘reading’ household? Do you believe that had anything to do with your becoming an author?
Karen:  I don’t remember my siblings reading a lot but my mom did for her college courses.  I read constantly.  It was my escape.  It would be a beautiful day outside and my mom would confiscate my books to force me to go out to play.  I’d sit in my favorite tree and make up stories there!  When friends came over I’d entertain them with my repertoire.

RRR:  What was your favorite childhood activity and why?
Karen:  I enjoyed reading, of course.  I also loved doing stand-up comedy and dancing to my records.  I spent hours daydreaming, which is why I loved books.  It was like visiting someone else’s daydream. 

RRR:  As a youngster, what did you want to be when you grew up? When did this change, if it did.
Karen:  First I wanted to be an actress.  I loved the stage.  Then I wanted to be an architect but I didn’t have enough money for tuition at Rhode Island School of Design, so I settled for studying English, thinking I’d teach. Then I transferred to a theological school to learn leadership skills to help people.  I knew I was a writer, I just didn’t think it was a career choice.  I desperately wanted to be a wife and mother. 

RRR:  Do you think people who are especially good at something, writers, singers, musicians, artists, etc, were born with talent or can it be fostered throughout a lifetime?
Karen:  This is an interesting question.  I’m not gifted in debate but my husband is.  I can debate and do it well, but he’s gifted.  He can debate and it’s stellar.  So I do think you need to have an innate talent or proclivity.  But what good is that if you don’t discipline yourself to share it with others?  And having said that, I can tell you I’m glad I wasn’t published in my twenties. My writing has seasoned through the years and has far more depth and luster to it than when I wrote in high school and college.  I wrote well, received A’s and my friends begged me to write stories for them but it just wasn’t like it is now. 

RRR:  What is your greatest fear about being an author? What about in life? 
Karen:  My greatest fear as an author is that I won’t get everything written in time.  I have so much in my mental library that I want to commit to paper.  My greatest fear in life - I’ve been through a lot of unusual circumstances. A friend of mine died overnight in high school, I almost caught the disease from her - I was the only one not quarantined but should have been.  It was a miracle I didn't get the disease or spread it.  I watched a teen crack someone’s head open with a baseball bat in high school.  Men tried to break into my home when I was a child, I rescued my siblings.  I was kidnapped by a neighbor when I was two.  I lived through a war on my street in another country that hated Americans at the time.  I’ve been chased by a mob.  I’ve been in dangerous circumstances rescued only by Divine intervention many times.  I’ve survived catastrophic illness three times.  Umm, not too much scares me anymore. 
I am afraid to hurt God’s feelings because he’s too special to me, but other than that, I can’t really think of anything off hand.  Well, wasps, maybe.  They’re mean little things. 

RRR:  What was your favorite subject in high school and why? Least favorite and why?
Karen:  I loved Architecture where I designed a wonderful house.  But also because my upper classman boyfriend was in the same class with me, one of those experimental classes, how cool is that?  ;)  Interestingly it was that teacher who gave me some sage advice about writing.  He said never put in writing something you don’t want the world to see.  I’ve never forgotten it.  I also adored creative writing because I could vent my stories.  
My least favorite class was detention which I got from time to time for passing notes, showing up late once in awhile without a permission slip and/or talking in class.  J

RRR:  How did your high school English teacher(s) respond to your writings back then?
Karen:  My junior high writing teacher wanted to submit my children’s book, to a big name publisher.  I was too shy to take her up on the offer but I was thrilled nonetheless and years later that encouragement helped me write more.  Mrs. Sweeney, my high school creative writing teacher, loved my writing and encouraged me to keep up with it.  She was tough on us but she was good.  Writing is hard work.  She made us pay attention to our words and follow the rules of good writing which helped me tremendously.  In fact, she was famous among my friends.  Everyone wanted her class because you got to do something in it.

RRR:  What was your favorite book as a teen and why?
Karen:  I had so many, I loved Alice in Wonderland for the math puzzles, My Side of the Mountain, I read all of Nancy Drew before I was twelve, then branched out to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.  My favorite book was the dictionary.  I read that for hours, too, trying out new words for fun.  In college I got a dictionary that had root origins. I spent hours studying that which came in handy when I studied Bible languages later on.

RRR:  If someone told you everything you write is junk and worthless. Would you continue to write? Why or why not?
Karen:  Absolutely.  I’ve been told many negative things by many people and they were all kind of out there.  After awhile you get immune.  There will always be naysayers.  It’s wonderful when someone gets something out of my writing though, because I enjoy helping people and entertaining them.

RRR:  What classic literature would you recommend teens to read and why?
I highly suggest the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis because it’s full of secrets.  I didn’t discover Narnia until the movies came out, can you imagine?  I read classic lit in junior and high school, in fact, that’s all I read; but they didn’t include Narnia in the line-up for some reason.  I adored Lost Horizons; I was devastated when it ended.  Loved all of JRR Tolkien’s books, even if they were wordy.  I started my own Hobbit map before someone finally printed a good one.  I suggest Swiss Family Robinson because you need to know how to get along if the world around you collapses.  Another one is My Side of the Mountain, The Hound of the Baskervilles; oh, so many!  I remember going to the library to ask for the Canterbury Tales.  I was enthralled even if I didn’t understand the language easily.  I loved the Arthurian Legends and Camelot, of course.

RRR:  What one book do you think everyone should read and why?
Karen:  I think everyone should read the Bible, even if you aren’t Christian or Jewish.  I say this because God knows story inside and out.  It’s a fascinating resource, and like Narnia, it's full of secrets.

RRR:  What would you tell teenaged writers about the submission to publication process?
Karen:  I would say, don’t submit right away.  I’ve talked to many teen writers who are pumped about getting published.  I suggest waiting until you’re at least thirty, which I know seems like eons away. 
Right now you have a very different outlook on life than you will later on.  The last thing you want to do is take your books out of print but you may feel compelled to do that if you write something now that you’ll regret later. 
In the meantime take the time to develop yourself, write your heart out, let the words season on your laptop or in your notebook.  For your thirtieth birthday, open those stories and read them over.  Spruce them up and then submit. 
I thank God I didn’t submit anything until this year because I know I would have written things I wish I could have taken back.  The printed word is a very serious thing.  You’re responsible for your words so write them carefully.  What you write, you will be known for.  Choose wisely.

RRR:  Why do you think teenagers are so fascinated by the paranormal and fantastic? (vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, elves, demons)
Karen:  Because the supernatural is fun!  Vampires and werewolves have a different symbology, I was never into those except for Dark Shadows which I liked because it was scary.  As a teen you’re on the verge of real life, everything is scary and exhilarating.  I remember wondering if I could make it in the real world.  Everyone does, of course, both worry about it and make it through these times.  Scary movies and books helped me process the fear in a healthy way.

RRR:  You’ve been asked to choose 5-10 books for a space capsule. What would you choose and why?
Karen:  The Bible – because it’s full of the Hero and his journey and lots of secret passages.
The Diary of Anne Frank – so we never forget what evil can do to innocent lives.
They Thought They Were Free by Milton Meyer (1951) – because anyone of us can become a slave to someone else's agenda without realizing it.
The Chronicles of Narnia – for good fun and an inkling into the spiritual realm.
Swiss Family Robinson – because it’s a cool survival story.
Oliver Twist – because we need compassion at all times.
The Wizard of Oz – because we all own a pair of ruby slippers.
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – for the cool math games.
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto – so the next generation doesn’t make the same mistakes.
Mockingjay – because sometimes someone will need to rise up and save the world as we know it and it could be you.

RRR:  Is there an upcoming release (from any author) that you are anxiously anticipating? Why?
Karen:  Sadly, not at the moment, but I finished reading the third book in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, which released in August.  My teens and I were anticipating it forever it seemed..  It was superb!  It’s YA dystopian fantasy, a story about a young girl born into a political nightmare who becomes the unwilling face of a much needed revolution and how she rises to the occasion.  It reminded me that sometimes the world needs saving and not to retire my boots too early.

RRR:  If your child declared they were going to be an author while a senior in high school. How would you respond?
Karen:  I would say go for it but get a different job to support the writing.  Like I said, I don’t recommend seeking publication until you’re in your thirties.  I know a lot of writers who regret things they have in print now.  Sometimes you think you want to submit anything just to get published and have your name out there but you don’t realize this may not be wise in the long run.

RRR:  If your daughter wants to marry an author who is just starting out and has no other job, what would you tell her? If your son wants to marry an author… Does it make a difference?
Karen:  Yes, it would, but not for the reasons you think.  If we had a son, I’d advise him to write after work every day.  We’d expect him to be able to support a wife and child before marrying or we wouldn’t approve.  Our daughters have agreed to courtship which means they don’t date and won’t marry a boy unless he has a job that will support a wife and child.  We would suggest to potential suitors to get a paying job and write on the side, only switching to full time writing when he makes enough to pay the bills with it, after he turns thirty, of course.
RRR:  If you weren’t an author what other job would you be doing?
Karen:  Not too much else.  I’ve always been a writer, now I’m getting paid for it; well, when royalty checks come in!  I’m also an editor.

RRR:  How is being an author different from what you thought it would be like?
I never wondered what it would be like.  I’m thrilled of course, it’s deeply satisfying to know that people want to read my work and that they enjoy it because it’s my contribution.  People wanted to read my work and enjoyed it before I was published, just now more people want to read it.

RRR:  When you decided to pursue publication, did you realize what marketing and promotion would entail?
Karen:  Yes, I planned on doing all of my marketing and promotion before I realized it was necessary.  I think an author has an obligation to share their lives with their readers.  It goes with the territory, it’s a responsibility.

RRR:  How has your concept of marketing, platform building, promotion changed since you wrote your first word?
Karen:  I wrote my first word at eight years old, I had no clue what marketing was but I couldn’t wait to get home from school to play out the skit for my siblings, lol!

RRR:  If technology did not exist, would you still pursue writing and publishing?
Karen:  I was writing in those archaic days before the Internet.  We had typewriters then, and my family owned an electric one that only my mother could use.  I wrote in notebooks as a teen.  Word processors were a dream come true for me.  And then home computers, I was in Heaven!  The Internet is icing on the cake!

RRR:  Do you prefer publishing fifty years ago when the big houses ruled or today when eBooks and POD allow anyone to publish?
Karen:  Interesting question. I prefer now with all of the publishing options.  It allows the writer more control over their own work.  Some manuscripts I've written are more suitable for self-publishing because there's a limite market for them.

RRR:  Do you think self-publishing demeans the title ‘author’? At what point can one consider oneself an ‘author’? How does that differ from being a ‘writer’?
Karen:  I’m old-fashioned in this respect.  An author literally means one who has authority.  You don’t get authority until you are recognized by other authorities in your field, you can’t bestow it upon yourself. I did not call myself an author until I had a paid contract which came from Choice Publishing Group in Nevada this past March for my memoir story, An Invitation to Hope.  It came out in print in their anthology Patchwork Path, Christmas Stocking this September.  Until I was paid by a publisher for my writing, I considered myself a writer for the reasons above.  When I accepted my Muse contract for Primordial Sun, I started using the term novelist.  It has a nice ring, don’t you think?!
I don’t think self-publishing allows you to call yourself an author unless people start buying your work; not just family and friends and not just a few strangers.  I call JA Konrath an author because thousands of others recognize him in the field, he is self-published.  There are many others who have self-pubbed without sales, they are writers.  There’s nothing wrong with that – like I said, authorship has to come from authorities in the field recognizing your writing skills.  If you’re not an author yet, it’s not terrible or snobbery to call you a writer.  I know a ton of information about medicine, so much that I can accurately diagnose my children when they get sick.  Have I gone to medical school and am I a doctor?  No.  I don’t dare call myself one unless I do what it takes to be recognized by others in the field as a doctor.  If you want the title, do what it takes, learn the ropes and you’ll wake up one day with a contract in your hand. 

RRR:  If you’ve never written a children’s picture book, would you consider doing so?
Karen:  I wrote one in junior high.  I have ideas for a few others.  Submitting them is another story!

RRR:  If you’ve only written for children and teens, would you consider writing a mainstream fiction novel?
Karen:  Yes, I’ve done that.

RRR:  What do you think is the boundary between Young Adult and Middle Grade?
Karen:  I think it’s attitude.  Middle grades are not interested in the adult world really.  Teens are more so.

RRR:  What is the boundary between Young Adult and Mainstream Fiction for adults?
Karen:  Young adult is a teen story.  The MC’s are teens and they solve their problems.  In Mainstream Fiction the MC’s are adults.

RRR:  Do you think many adults read what is classified as Young Adult? Why do you think they do this?
Karen:  Yes, I do.  A lot of mainstream fiction is rife with unpleasant adult content.  I read YA because I get tired of reading about adult issues in mainstream books.  That turns me off.  That goes for watching it on TV, as well.  I don’t like it that both industries are pushing the envelope and forcing adult issues into teen lit and television.  I don’t trust the ratings anymore and I won’t be a repeat customer to a publisher or producer who abuses them. 
There’s a real push right now among some writers I know to produce YA that is called “edgy” which is nothing more than forcing teens to handle adult issues, usually loaded with x-rated content and lots of foul language.  The argument is this is what teens want because that’s what they’re doing.  I live with two teens who don’t want that and aren’t doing that.  They have a ton of friends who don’t want that as well. 
Writing sensationalism may make you a dollar but at what cost?  Once you’re in the public eye, you’re an example, like it or not, for good or bad. 
You know, Stephen King pulled one of his books out of print because he was concerned it set a bad example for teens.  I applaud him for that courageous move.  I empathize with him that he has to live with the horrible thought that his book may have incited evil actions in others.  It’s frightening, but real.  He doesn’t discuss the book or that he pulled it and I don’t blame him.  I’d do the same in his shoes.

RRR:  Write a Twitter tweet about your next release. (140 characters)
Karen:  A lawyer travels to Brazil to mourn the tragic death of her parents finding family secrets, church corruption and international espionage.

RRR:  Write your own six-word memoir.
Karen:  She casts her crowns at his feet.
Thanks for letting me share, Rebecca.  If any of you have any questions, please feel free to email me at the address below and put Teen Word Factory in the subject line.  :)
My homeschool/devotional blog:  http://pankmcgrath.blogspot.com/
Email:  karenmcgrathauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

photo credits: Elizabeth McGrath, Delilah K. Stephans, morguefile.com