Aficionado: Journal of a Gruehead


Suggested Audio Candy


Goblin “Tenebre”



Thirty years I have been entrenched in horror, before the emergence of a single pubic hair or the inevitable lowering of my testicles, I was all in. Since then I have metamorphosed into a fully fledged man-child and continue to mature on a bi-daily basis but one thing remains consistent… that being my utter adoration for all things macabre. Barely a day passes without me watching at least one genre flick and that is reflected in the velocity of appraisals constantly appearing on the site. I just cannot seem to get enough of the deep crimson sauce and can honestly say that aside from the twitch I have suffered no ill effects or instances of depravity.


Horror buffs have always received something of a harsh reception and are considered a bloodthirsty troupe of dead heads by many for enjoying a nice glass of red each mealtime but, in truth, it couldn’t be farther than accurate. I know folk who cannot watch anything which contains the vaguest whiff of human suffering and consider it unthinkable gleaning even the slightest bit of enjoyment from something so utterly lamentable. This is fine with me, it’s an opinion and everyone is entitled to one but it is also somewhat ignorant. In all my years I’ve never once set out to hurt another individual, yet The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of my all-time darlings.


Just because I’m aching to see some hateful douchebag have their head caved in with a tenderizing hammer, doesn’t mean that I have a room dedicated to bird carcasses. Likewise if I watch Beverly Hills Cop I don’t instantly find the nearest automobile tailpipe to cram my half-eaten banana into. It’s just entertainment folks, bottom line is that we all house our own exclusive perversions and you only have to glance at the news to realize that there’s a whole barrel of bullshit going on the world right now but I will always believe stoutly that horror plays no part in our contorted evolution. It’s just how we get our kicks.


Nevertheless we are considered the black sheep of society, tarred with the same manky brush and cast aside like seafaring crackerbread. It bemuses me as many of my favorite people have been introduced via a shared affection for this medium. You want commitment? Horror devotees have it in super-abundance. Why else would Friday The 13th not have trailed off after Part V: A New Beginning? We have been starved for long periods and the nineties could so easily have destroyed our very souls. Slasher lost its audience, the whole horror genre appeared bereft of original concepts and the omens weren’t at all good for horror cinema. Despite any disparaging lack of inspiration we didn’t give up and when the uprising began towards the end of the noughties, we were there holding out our soup bowls like woefully famished orphans.


We rally around one another in a crisis, spread love over hate any day of the week and stick together when the shit hits the bricks. Yet still we are seen as a cancer by many. Maybe that’s just the way we like it, after all, if nobody wants a bar of us then we’re left to our own devices and, as most horror lovers would attest, we’re a self-sufficient breed. Give us a poison of choice and 90 minutes of mindless bloody mayhem and we’re like pigs in giblets. For Keeper, it’s all about the endorphins. My two favorite past-times are laughing and shitting in my pants. Comedy has always been my counter balance and has bailed me out on occasions where I’ve just watched exploitation and require mental cleansing. Horror loosens the bowel and does so by feeding fear, once you grow accustomed to such, then you’ll find there’s no more delightful a dish.


Horror affords escapism from everyday woe, a channel with which to reprocess negativity and a community unlike any other I’ve been privy to. I’ve always scribed candidly and not once have I been criticized for that, there has only been acceptance. There is no other place where I can be quite as much myself, not have to bow to convention or concern myself with being misconstrued. That is why my heart will always remain invested. What a lot of folk haven’t realized is that horror is embarking on something of a resurgence. Matt Farnsworth and Diane Foster have become our martyrs, wrestling horror into the world of social media and affording those who appreciate the opportunity to dip into their world anytime we please.


Still, I hear news of The Orphan Killer and its entire channel being pulled from YouTube. There will always be those opposed to our craft and that is regrettably part and parcel. Do you see us faltering? Never in a month of Sundays. Our commitment serves us well, our growing network is there to massage and replenish and, should all else fail, there are always another camper van full of spunk-driven co-eds waiting to be dismantled. Speaking of which and, in the interest of all things random, I close with ten lesser known horror features from the past decade or so which may have flown under your radars.


Outcasts and Reprobates


Broken (2006)

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The shamefully branded torture porn phenomenon was in the early stages, Saw and Hostel were cleaning up theatrically and this little diamond in the rough plopped into the marketplace with barely a splashdown. It’s a shame as Simon Boyes and Adam Mason’s flick was an inventive little number and, despite its low-budget, was far better than the likes of Captivity. There was plenty of bone-splintering, gut slicing grue including an opening five which grabbed you round your throat until your airways closed.

Storm Warning (2007)

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Despite bearing wonderfully suggestive cover art, Jamie Blanks’ splatter-laden home invasion movie sank without trace. It shared one distinction from the countless other films of its ilk doing the rounds at the time. It was the hapless tormented couple who did the invading and soon regretted their actions as they picked the wrong shack full of debauched maniacs to trifle with. Cue the inevitable turn around as tormented become tormentors and the pay off was in some gruesomely realized dispatches.

The Strangers (2008)

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My thinking behind Bryan Bertino’s insular chiller making the cut is this: it gets a whole lot of flack and it’s entirely unjustified. The moment you cast actors of Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman’s public identity in a film such as this, it’s as though the daggers are out beforehand. Folk seemingly get a kick out of bragging over this not being at all scary. Tut tut. If you watch horror, then you live horror and this insular nightmare had foreboding in spades.


Feast (2005)

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We all love a B-movie right? Well then, John Gulager’s Feast should be up all of our streets. It spawned two sequels, both of which were madder than a sack of pipe-hitting ferrets, but the original had its fangs in front. An unlikely bunch of heroes took refuge in their local tavern while all manner of flesh-shredding hell beats grabbed the schematics and worked their way inside. When they made their entrance, we were all doused in crimson as the hapless patrons were chomped at left right and centre. Consequently, the entire Gulager clan are wonderfully demented.


Hell’s Ground (2007)

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Omar Ali Khan’s bonkers backwoods slasher had the unique honor of being the first horror film to come out of Pakistan. Thankfully nobody broke out in song although the screaming swinging mace-wielding banshee in a burqa had some set of lungs on her. It got totally carried away, throwing in zombies for good measure, but displayed no end of vim, ladling on the grue and piling on the consternation. There is no more non compos film on this list.


Cold Prey (2006)

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This little-known Norwegian slasher from Roar Uthaug was not bursting from the seams with crimson. Instead it focused on suspense and, with its locale being an abandoned ski lodge, had the perfect setting for a nice game of cat-and-mouse. Two sequels followed but, whilst being admirable efforts, neither quite matched the ominous feel of the original. This paved the way for Sonny Laguna’s Blood Runs Cold and that makes it alright in my book.


The Tripper (2006)

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David Arquette’s horror deflowering was uneven at best, but that didn’t stop it being the ideal Saturday night slasher. With killer clad in swag suits and presidential mask, the axe fell in enough style to make you forget any lack of substance. The kills were outrageously gory and, the pretty teen cast, suitably gormless. Even Courtney Cox bought into the insanity. This one was for the real eighties slasher enthusiasts amongst us.


Murder Loves Killers Too (2009)

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Yet another forgotten slasher, this one really did a number on you come its unorthodox final act. To begin with it was business as usual and there was little more here than a slightly above-par slasher by numbers but then Drew Barnhardt pulled the rug from beneath us, shifting our perspectives and making it socially relevant in the process. Movies like this give me hope, original concepts are golden and it’s always pleasant when a small indie film surprises you.

Outpost (2007)

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Consider the premise for Steve Barker’s chiller. A band of mercenaries trapped in a disused WWII bunker with a whole army of genetically engineered zombie Nazis and then answer me this. What’s not to like? Ominous and oppressive, it relied on its eerie setting and claustrophobic feel rather than pummeling our senses with elaborate kills and, in the same manner as The Fog, this didn’t make the dispatches any less grisly. Once more, sequels followed in quick succession.


Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

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This was a quite marvelous movie and it appalled me to see it escape theatrical recognition. As anthologies go and, at an extreme pinch, it may poke its horns above Creepshow in being my all-time darling compendium. That is a bold statement but, what Michael Dougherty did so majestically, was that there simply wasn’t a weak link in sight. Each of its segments was masterful and, more critically, it all hung together so well. Throw in delectable turns from a deliciously Grimm Anna Paquin, mopish Brian Cox and unhinged Dylan Baker and you have the finest pumpkin in the patch.


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