2015 was a mixed bag for me as a horror fan. I had a lot on my plate, though that has been the case for several years now. With a set of now three year old twins to take care of, a loving wife I don’t see enough, two teenage children, a large extended family, countless hobbies, a regular exercise routine, a part time (but nearly full time) job, a part time consulting job, and the decision to finally go school and finish up my bachelor’s degree, it’s a safe to say I’m pretty busy. The fact I have any time for this site is a miracle. Finding time to watch new movies, TV shows, read new books or comics is a challenge to say the least. Yet I did find a few new things to watch or read this year. This was in part thanks to audiobooks and my 1.5 hours of commuting each day. My tablet and frequent trips to comixology helped as well. I briefly considered not doing a list, but I already skipped out on the Halloween Top 10, so here I am, small list and all. This list consists of ‘new to me’ for 2015. It may not be a new release, or even something from the past few years, but for me, it was new in 2015. Lets have a look.
Fear the Walking Dead (TV)
Yeah, I’m going to be ‘that guy’. I know this show has had a very mixed reaction on the forum here. I’m a sucker for anything that deals with the collapse of society. For me, the actual collapse (as seen in Fear) is far more entertaining than what happens after the fact (as seen in Walking). Why? Because the collapse of society could happen and for me that's a bit more entertaining. Okay, it may not happen from the zombie apocalypse, but the collapse is fun to watch nonetheless. I admit some of the characters are a bit on the annoying side, such as the druggie son, and the writing isn’t perfect. I'm able to look past that for the time being. Fear shows a lot of promise, enough so that I plan to stick around through season two to see if they can continue to improve. It’s easy to make a show entertaining for six episodes. Lets see what they can do for fifteen. Hint: For some great end of the world reading, check out Lucifer's Hammer and/or One Second After
I expressed optimism for this series of short novels by writer R.R. Haywood in my review of the audiobook of week one (days 1-3). After finishing week two (days 4-6) a few months back, I can now say I’m in love with the series. I laughed, I cried (literally had a few tears rolling down my face), and simply fell in love with the characters and writing. So much so that I started week three and then immediately stopped after just an hour or so of listening. Why? Panic. Panic that I would devour the series (now at day 19) and be left aching for more. No, this series is too good to do that. I took a break. I will revisit week two, write a review, and then visit week three. I plan to go slow and steady with this series. No binge reading for this one. It deserves to be savored and I’ll be doing just that.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Blu-Ray)
If you’re noticing a trend toward zombies in my list, it’s not intentional. In fact, I’m one of the first to claim that the success of The Walking Dead has inundated us with countless zombie trash like Navy Seals vs Zombies and Dead Rising: Watchtower. I knew nothing of Scouts and first learned about it here on our own forum. After reading a few positive reviews, I decided to give it a spin. I went in dubious and came out a believer. While there’s nothing new story wise to be found in Scouts, with perhaps the exception of a zombie penis (zombie boobs have been done), there’s lots of laughs to be had in this entertaining and even charming story. If you're a fan of the 80s, you can't help but feel like a kid again as you experience nods to films like Monster Squad and Goonies as the band of ragtag misfits take on a seemingly insurmountable force of evil. Not to be missed.
Puppet Master (comic)
Full Moon’s glory days are long gone. Ironically enough, I have yet to review any of their newer releases and explain why I feel that way. That statement has always been made in a review for an older, ‘glory day’ title, or casually mentioned in one of the Full Moon discussions on the forum. There’s not a lot of explanation needed. Their movies in the 90s were made on budgets of a few million dollars; their movies today are made for under $100,000. Factor in inflation and it doesn’t take a lot of detective work to figure out why they can’t match the ‘quality’ (I realize the irony of using quality and Full Moon in the same sentence) of their older titles. In fairness, the home video landscape has drastically changed over the past 20 years. It’s far more difficult, though not impossible, to make a quality low budget movie these days. Thankfully Full Moon licensed out the rights for Puppet Master comics to Action Lab Entertainment. As of this writing, the series is 10 issues in. I have read several (to be reviewed at a later date) already. As a big Puppet Master 1-5 fan, I can say there’s a lot more enjoyment to be found in the comics than the past few movies. The great thing about the comics is they have no budget limitations, hence the return of everyone favorite puppet, Torch. All the effects are drawn, meaning there's no limit. The story can go anywhere they want to take it. So far they have taken some interesting directions with our favorite killer puppets. I’ll be sticking around for more and for fans, there’s no reason not to dive in. The issues are cheap and are available in both digital and print format.
From Dusk Till Dawn: Season Two (TV)
It seems every channel these days has to have their own TV programming. This led to the advent of the shortened season, often ranging from 10-13 episodes, and was initially something that disappointed me. As a fan of anything - movie, book, or TV - I always want more, whether it be sequels, more seasons, or more episodes. I'm guessing the shorter seasons are for budgetary reasons, as some of these smaller channels likely cannot put up the funds to produce a full season of 20+ episodes. Regardless of the reason, the shorter seasons often bring in a higher quality of writing. With less episodes, it seems writers have less 'space to fill' and the writing improves. Also, if your time is limited like mine, less episodes means an opportunity to watch even more series. Considering how many channels are making their own quality programming these days, that's a definite plus.
The El-Ray channel produced a From Dusk Till Dawn TV show that premiered in March of 2014. While I enjoyed the first season, it was simply an extended remake of the first movie. The series really didn't find its footing until the second season, where it diverged into its own story. I'm several episodes in to the 10-episode second season and am impressed with the quality of writing and effects. I will point out the humor of nearly every male vampire having a six pack and every female vampire being a runway model. At least they throw Danny Trejo in there to balance it out a bit. Plus, can any series featuring an episode with both Gary and Jake Busey be all that bad?
While I continue to read The Walking Dead comic, I had no idea the creator of said comic, Robert Kirkman, had started another series titled Outcast. I first learned of Outcast at the New York Comic Con, where I caught the second half to a ridiculously small panel featuring Robert Kirkman and artist Paul Azaceta. Their enthusiasm for the series, then at twelve issues, was infectious. I gave it a shot and ended up devouring all twelve issues in a few days. To quote Wikipedia:With a show based on the comic scheduled to air in 2016 on Cinemax, now’s the time to jump in and try Kirkman’s ‘other horror comic’. It's off to a strong start and I'm curious to see where they go with it.
Bay of Blood (Blu-Ray)
If there was a first time to visit this Mario Bava classic, it was with the Kino Lorber blu-ray release from 2013. Weary eyed after buying and reading bits of Tim Lucas’ massive book on Bava, I was practically a Bava virgin when I popped in the Bay of Blood blu-ray. My hunger for a quality slasher was fully satisfied after watching Bava work his magic. Death, beautiful women, more death, more beautiful women, blood, beautiful colors. Outside of Fulci and Argento, Italian horror is still very much new to me. Watching Bay of Blood made me realize just how much I have left to discover. While I have yet to compare it against older DVD or laserdisc releases, I have read enough reviews to know that I was fortunate to start with Kino's blu-ray release, which reportedly represents the best Bay has ever looked on home video.
Honorable mentions to Ash Versus Evil Dead, proof that there’s still lots of life left in Ash and his chainsaw, and It Follows, the movie that renewed my faith in low budget filmmaking. Ryan covered these two in his list and I decided to focus on my other 2015 finds that I wanted to recommend.
As for 2016, I too am looking forward to Phantasm V. I’m secretly hoping that Synapse shocks the horror community and puts out their first 4k Ultra HD blu-ray release with Suspiria. Is there any better movie to start with? I’m also looking forward to what happens with the Friday the 13th multiplayer game, tentatively scheduled for October 2016, and the Friday the 13th TV show, also rumored to be hitting in the fall of 2016. That’s pretty much it, though as always, I intend to continue my exploration of the hundreds upon hundreds of movies and books that I’ve missed over the years. On the cinema front, I have long desired to start exploring more black and white, more Italian, and more from the 60s and 70s. Here’s to hoping I make some progress there in 2016. I’ll report back in a year!