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Manor Vellum

By Brian Keiper

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Credit: Nick Percival via Death Waltz Recording Co

1984 may well be the greatest year in the history of filmed horror, both in content and in consequence. The list of memorable movies from that year is nearly endless, from massive blockbusters to cult favorites and indie gems. It also provided two perennial classics for the Christmas season, both of which had repercussions far beyond the flickering images on the screen.

June 8, 1984, has to be the greatest single day in “family” horror as two truly classic PG-rated terrors hit the screen on that day. One remains the ultimate in horror-comedy perfection, Ghostbusters, and the other a vicious little monster movie from producer Steven Spielberg and director Joe Dante — Gremlins. Seeing that latter film now, it seems strange that it would be released in early summer considering its nearly total immersion in the winter holiday. In fact, its major theatrical run ended in November of 1984, so it spent no time on the big screen during the holiday season of that year. But with its clever marketing campaign and the strength of the picture itself, Gremlins went on to become the fourth highest-grossing film of the year behind Beverly Hills Cop (1), Ghostbusters (2), and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (3). …


By Sara Century

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Credit: Vertigo Films

Films about murderous children are nothing new. Tapping into parental anxieties over not doing enough to protect their children and giving absolute evil a face of relative innocence has led to some of the greatest stories in the horror canon. Classics like The Bad Seed (1956) and Village of the Damned (1960) paved the way for mainstays like The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976), which in turn has led to more nuanced fare like Here Comes The Devil (2012) and Goodnight Mommy (2014).

Even amid so many great “evil child” movies, The Children (2008) stands out. This is a film that is often noted for its visceral, unsettling themes and shocking violence (if often implied rather than actually seen). Yet, if that were all there was to it, it wouldn’t be the hidden gem that it is today. Setting the scene during a frazzled holiday season would normally entail a comedy of errors that brought the family closer together, but filmmaker Tom Shankland chose instead to go into tense family dynamics that emphasize how misunderstandings can define relationships, which makes for an unforgettable horror film. …


By Chad Collins

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Credit: Michelle Wirono

Sacred extrication in horror texts is an omnipresent generic convention whose ubiquity and linear trajectory can be traced from the earliest expressionist varieties to more contemporary exemplifications wherein the quintessence of devout holy faculty can expel inherently spiritual apparitions of evil. Indeed, these sacred agents — often coded as ecclesiastical priests, shamans, or rabbis — shed the constraints of human virtue and aptitude to exhibit singularly miraculous feats. …


By Taylor Hunsberger

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Credit: Sophie Lécuyer

Emily Danforth, author of the incredibly successful The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012), is back with her first adult novel Plain Bad Heroines (2020). The book follows two main plot timelines: one takes place in the present-day and the other takes place long ago at an all-girls boarding school. In the present plot timeline, queer icon Harper Harper is starring in “The Haunting of Brookhants,” a cinematic adaptation of a book of the same name by Merritt Emmons, who becomes Harper’s lover while on set. …


By Aaron LaRoche

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Horror movies are finally part of the zeitgeist. The genre has catapulted from seasonal niche to taking awards like Jordan Peele’s best original screenplay Oscar win for Get Out (2017), containing some of the highest-rated/watched media like American Horror Story (2011-present), and being valued as social commentary. At its finest, horror holds a mirror up to society exposing the fears and anxieties we each hold within. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, what is in the mirror looks nothing like you if you’re Black.


By Joelle Jacoski

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In 2015, SONY and Supermassive Games released Until Dawn, an interactive PlayStation 4 survival horror exclusive. It was a big deal when it came out because of its immense budget and an all-star cast of actors, including Peter Stormare and Rami Malek. I was 20 years old when the game was released, so my budget was tight, but after watching a number of different people stream their playthroughs of the game on YouTube, I knew I had to give it a try. What interested me so much was the aspect of narrative design in the game. Your choices have an impact on the game’s outcome. …


By Brian Keiper

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Credit: Vincent Chong

Author’s note: This article contains a thorough discussion including spoilers of all versions of The Shining and Doctor Sleep.

With a body of work as vast as Stephen King’s, it is nearly impossible to choose a “best” or “greatest” piece. The favorite among Constant Readers, as King calls his fans, seems to be The Stand (1978). King has often cited It (1986) as his best work. Many others would name ‘Salem’s Lot (1975), The Dead Zone (1979), Pet Sematary (1983), The Dark Tower series (1982–2004), or even the recent 11/22/63 (2011) as worthy of consideration. But for my money, his greatest work is The Shining (1977). It is his breakthrough novel, massively influential in the horror genre, and his most deeply personal confession — though even King himself didn’t realize that for many years. The major iterations of The Shining: the original novel, Stanley Kubrick’s film, the ABC mini-series written by King and directed by Mick Garris, and Mike Flanagan’s film adaptation of Doctor Sleep (2019), all share one pivotal moment in common — the bar scene. It is a moment grounded in the reality of the time and the place King first conceived the story. …


By Sara Century

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The Howling was released in 1981, the same year that saw two other classic werewolf films hit the theaters: An American Werewolf in London and Wolfen. Yet, it was The Howling, despite being only a moderate financial success, that warranted a long series of sequels, ultimately making for eight total films including the 2011 remake. The franchise makes loose attempts to tie its universe together. The first and second films, for instance, are tangentially related while the fourth film most resembles the novels by Gary Brandner from which the series is based. …


By Michael Crosby

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Credit: ElTibur0n

By 1983, both author Stephen King and filmmaker John Carpenter had become well-established leading voices in the horror genre.

Stephen King had written his way to the top of the heap; by now, he was firmly established as the brightest light in the genre with an absolutely amazing number of projects becoming not only best-selling novels but critically and commercially successful films with even more potential projects on the way. …


By Chad Collins

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Credit: Giancarlo Caracuzzo and Paul Mounts via Image Comics

Synopsis: Todd Walkley (Jesse Williams) and his publisher Ezra (Jay Baruchel) made their careers crafting a comic book based on a real-life serial killer called Slasherman. On a press tour to announce the launch of their final issue, they visit the town where Slasherman wreaked havoc twenty years earlier. Upon their arrival, a series of new murders unfold… murders that look eerily familiar to imagery in Todd’s Slasherman comics. Speculation and paranoia build regarding the identity of the mysterious killer.

The most poignant note in Jay Baruchel’s 2020 masterpiece Random Acts of Violence occurs fifteen minutes into the movie. Kathy (Jordana Brewster) and Aurora (Niamh Wilson) are reviewing Kathy’s note, the foundational elements for her planned book on the victims of Slasherman, the killer from her boyfriend Todd’s (Jesse Williams) graphic novel based on a real-life (diegetic) serial killer. Aurora asks, “Why is it weird that she’s smiling?” when looking at photographs of one of the female victims, likely taken several days before her death. Kathy responds: “She looks helpless, you know? ’Cause you know something that she doesn’t. …

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Manor Vellum

A membrane of texts about the human condition within the horror genre. A MANOR feature.

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