As I touched upon in my recent review of The Exorcist TV programme, we horror fans are seemingly spoilt for choice when it comes to terrifyingly good TV horror. So much choice in fact that there are many shows that I am yet to watch a single episode of, including Penny Dreadful, Fear the Walking Dead, The Strain and so on…
Two series I have managed to invest a lot of time in recently are American Horror Story and Bates Motel, for very different reasons.
AHS was a brand spanking new inject into horror TV, brought to us by the very capable Ryan Murphy (although I have never/will never watch Glee – shudder) with a great cast and great prospects. BM promised an unflinching coming of age story of a true psycho with a wonderful cast of promising young talent and seasoned veterans.
I’ve decided to pit the two against each other in a series of categories to determine once and for all which TV horror series is better: American Horror Story or Bates Motel.
TV is the new film. The birth of online channels such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have opened up new avenues for TV programmes, creating bigger, better shows and grabbing larger and more diverse audiences. This has been great news for horror fans as not only do we get brand-spanking new awesome shows such as Stranger Things, American Horror Story and the eagerly anticipated Lucifer, but there has also been a massive rise in horror films being adapted into TV shows, such as Sleepy Hollow, Hannibal and the brilliant Bates Motel. Now we are getting the ultimate, the daddy of all horror… The Exorcist TV Show.
I watched The Exorcist film as a young girl with my parents and a friend. We giggled at the sexual references, fidgeted through the “boring talking bits” but were ultimately silenced by Regan’s transformation from young girl to demon. I couldn’t sleep that night. The film crept into my very soul and chilled me to the bone.
As a grown up I can now watch it alone and sleep like a baby but it hasn’t lost any of its power. It is terrifying, there has never been an equal and it is adamantly my dad’s all time favourite film (good taste runs in the family).
So I was luckily enough to get a sneak preview of The Exorcist TV show, Chapter 1 and let my cry come unto thee. I grabbed my boyfriend, turned off the lights and huddled down, waiting… and I was not disappointed.
I recently went to Horror Con UK 2016. This is my first time at any horror convention so I was really excited. Among the guests were the amazingly talented David Naughton (David Kessler from An American Werewolf in London), Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraiser 1-8), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th 7 – 10) and Linnea Quigley (Trash from The Return of the Living Dead). I have never seen a horror actor in the flesh, most likely because I get a bit weird around famous people and become a bat-crap crazy fan girl around famous people whom I worship.
Arriving at the Magna Science Adventure Centre at 10.50am, it quickly became clear I should have opted for a priority ticket as there were a dozen cars driving aimlessly in circles trying to find a parking space. Eventually, I decided to park on a side road and was quickly followed by the other cars. It would have been nice to have signage to advise you what to do in an overflow situation or a parking attendant. Then we saw the big queue waiting to get inside. In the rain. I could see there were only two people at the front to scan tickets and give out wristbands. Luckily, one of the security staff had the bright idea to form a second queue to get people out of the rain. This kind of initiative should already have been thought about and executed.
However, once inside, I forgot about the painful exercise of trying to get into the building and focussed on checking out what was on offer. The first person I encountered was Twisty from American Horror Story: Freakshow who followed me around the room. Brilliant start to proceedings. I then headed to The Big Hall to check out the stalls. There was everything from paintings and drawings to brain cakes and bloody finger pens to figurines and signed merchandise, such as Freddy Krueger’s glove (already sold by the time I got there so my bank balance could breathe a sigh of relief).
At one side of the hall, the special guests already had a long queue of fans clutching puzzle boxes and Jason masks, ready for signing. Now, I realise that I am a complete idiot for not knowing this, but I queued up at the end of the day to meet David Naughton (he had the shortest queue at the time) and saw fans handing over money and this is when it dawned on me that you have to pay for their signatures. What does Homer Simpson say? Oh yeah, d’oh! Anyway, when I got to the front I apologised to David for not knowing this as I had no cash on me. He was very polite and we had a quick chat anyway. My boyfriend imparted a little wisdom about how York (where we live) supposedly has more pubs per square mile than anywhere else in the country – if you were at the Q&A you’ll know why we were talking to him about York.
The highlight of the day for me were the Q&As. I attended David’s, Kane’s and Doug’s. I even asked Kane a question (after a few pints for Dutch courage), which my boyfriend filmed so I can relive the moment over and over and over again. They were all relaxed, informative, friendly and funny. It was a delight to hear them talk about their careers, give us tid bits about the films they’ve worked on and the people they’ve worked with and allow us the opportunity to ask questions without any censorship.
I was particularly looking forward to the Scare-Play competition as I fancy taking part next year. I was disappointed to see a small audience turn out for this part. In future years, they should announce activities such as the Q&As and the competition to boost audience numbers – it is so easy to lose track of time. There were a vast number of different costumes for the competition and everyone had gone to great efforts, in particularly the voodoo man – he looked incredible. The competition was pretty badly run. Each contestant was called up rather than calling them up according to the category they had entered (best film character, best original character, etc.) The worst part was when the wrong person was called up for the best film character award. Very awkward.
At the end of the day I went back through the stalls to buy myself something to remember this great day. I came across a stall manned by ‘Uncanny Broderz’ who were selling some brilliant drawings of Freddy, Pinhead, etc. at only £3 a drawing. I was gobsmacked. And I had no money. I went to the front desk who were offering cashback only to be told they had sold out ages ago. Apparently, they “thought £7,000 would be enough”. Obviously not. I know, I should’ve brought cash with me. Fortunately, I bonded with the guys on the stall over my love of Freddy and gave me their card, telling me to get in touch.
Overall, I had a really great day, which was definitely helped by the cheap bar. I loved seeing so many people dressed up and enjoying all things horror. The convention had also hired people to walk around in costumes, including a brilliantly costumed Jason, a bloodied Michael Myers, a freaky scarecrow type guy with a big machete, giggling clown girls and zombies. I absolutely loved the atmosphere, the vast options of stalls selling merchandise, gooey treats, hosting tombolas and the sponsors, ‘Horrify me’, speaking to visitors about their photography packages. You could even get a tattoo. There did seem to be a missed opportunity on social media as lots of people were tweeting about/to Horror Con UK but nothing was coming from them, not even re-tweets. Event communications is essential to getting as much promotion as possible and to get conversations going. This, I think, needs to be looked at for next year.
I am definitely intending to go back. I heard that last year you entered into pitch blackness and were attacked by zombies so I am eager to see what horrific delights may be in store for visitors next year. And, if Horror Con UK organisers are reading this, if you can get Rob Zombie, Robert Englund, Bill Moseley and Tobin Bell as special guests, I’d really, really, really, REALLY appreciate it. Long live horror.
Why am I telling you this? Well, if you popped by to see me in my office during a typical workday, you would be confused and ask me where Cat is. I would then look confused and reply that it is me you are looking for. You see, I’m not your typical alternative girl i.e. long black hair extensions, dramatic eye makeup, facial piercings, all black outfit and tattooed sleeves (just one example). I would probably be wearing a smart outfit, minimal makeup, hair in a ponytail and have no piercings/tattoos on show. I like to think there are several versions of me: work me, alternative me, casual me, really casual me, dressy me, etc. I think anyone has the right to look and dress how they want and I am envious of tattooed sleeves, lip piercings and voluminous, black hair. I don’t look like that and probably never will. But that does not make me any less “rock and roll”.
I know some fans of metal music who would rather cut their ears off than listen to Taylor Swift. And I know some people who live for the latest chart music that think metal fans also love the devil and sacrifice lambs on the weekend. Both sets of people are idiots. Anyone can like anything and everything. But, just like when it comes to politics or religion, you can believe in and enjoy all sorts of things without having to plant yourself in a certain “type”: emo, punk, chav, trendy, alternative, goth.
Some of you may not know what I’m talking about, some of you may be nodding and some of you may think I‘ve got it all wrong. That’s the beauty of the opinion. This is me. All of me. Every version of me. I love horror, metal and have some books on my shelf that psychiatrists would have a field day with. I also love animals and rainbows and when Santa sent me a letter at Christmas, I nearly cried with joy! But isn’t that the beauty of humanity? We still have the ability to surprise. Right now, I am retiring to the couch to to watch Interview with the Vampire… and I’m wearing a pink bathrobe and pink slipper socks. Go figure.
American Horror Story is the bomb! I mean it. Better than Breaking Bad and much easier to get into than Hemlock Grove to have intelligent, gripping and genuinely disturbing horror content that regards you as a grown up, capable of following several narratives and not exerting to blood and guts to make the journey bearable.
I discovered the joy of this mini-series through the wonder of Netflix. However, my job was short lived as I realise there are two series that are not yet available, that I am unable to explore 😦 Tonight I watched the last two episodes of Asylum (series two) and when it ended I looked up wondering what to do with the big, gaping hole in front of me… so I turned here. To you. Just to rant to you about how awesome this show really is.
Murder House (series one) was tantalisingly good but Asylum is my fave so far. I have a fascination with insane asylums. Ever since I had the joy of watching House on Haunted Hill (original and remake). I guess it’s not fair to assume they should be gothic, creepy, crazy places but, as many horror clichés go, if the shoe fits…
If you are totally horror phobic, I would recommend you stay away from this series. There is good human drama and moral and ethical through points but it really does what it says on the tin and, this time, you should judge the book by its cover. (Even the credits give you the shivers!)
So if you scare easily, stay under the covers. As for me…