Tag Archives: horror

How “Happy Death Day” (Surprisingly) Enriches Horror/Slasher Movies

When it comes to horror/slasher movies, it’s hard to break new ground these days. That’s because most still cling to the tried and true formula established by the likes of “Friday The 13th” and “Halloween.” That means there is usually going to be some crazed killer, some horny teenagers, and some sweet, yet sexy virgin who survives it all. You can practically set your watch to it, along with the standard jump scares.

It’s for that reason that slasher movies aren’t really as big a draw as they used to be. On top of that, they tend to be annoyingly sex negative and not in a subtle way either. If you’re a horny teenager in a slasher movie, then there’s a 99 percent chance you’ll be dead by the time the credits roll.

That’s why when a movie comes along to shake up that narrative, it’s worth noticing. That brings me to a recent horror movie that caught my intrigue and defied my expectations. It’s called “Happy Death Day” and, apart from the goofy title, it accomplishes something remarkable.

The first major accomplishment, for me personally, is that the trailer actually made me want to see the movie. In this era where every movie trailer follows a similar formula, we’ve all become fairly numb to their effects. We know what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to do it. Unless you were already planning to see the movie, as is often the case with superhero movies, then a trailer probably won’t do much.

With “Happy Death Day,” the trailer struck a chord for me because it presented a different kind of slasher/horror movie. Moreover, it did so in a way where the concept was more appealing than the actual slashing/horror. Whereas most horror movies will try to build every promotional effort around that horror, “Happy Death Day” threw something else into the mix that proved enticing.

That concept may not seem radically new, on paper. “Happy Death Day” doesn’t radically reinvent the genre as much as it innovates with established concepts. It’s basically a combination of “Friday The 13th,” “Final Destination,” and “Groundhog Day.” It uses familiar themes like masked killers, time loops, and  exceedingly elaborate scenes. However, it’s the way in which they’re presented that makes the movie work.

It also helps that the presentation is done through a beautiful female protagonist named Teresa “Tree” Gelbman, who is played by a very emotive Jessica Rothe. Beyond being a pretty face, though, Tree embodies everything audiences love to hate about beautiful, sexually active women in horror movies.

She’s shallow, callous, self-centered, dismissive, and just plain mean. I won’t say she’s on the same level as Regina George from “Mean Girls,” but she’s in the same time zone. Essentially, she’s basically a female version of Phil Connors in “Groundhog Day” in the sense that she’s a fairly reprehensible person that we’re not supposed to like from the get-go.

When someone is nice to her, she just blows them off. When someone tries to wish her a happy birthday, she just rolls her eyes. On top of that, she’s openly promiscuous, hooking up with her friends’ boyfriends and having an affair with her married teacher. By every measure, this is a girl who should be at the top of Jason Voorhees’ kill list.

However, “Happy Death Day” actually digs a bit deeper than “Groundhog Day” in that, over the course of the movie, we learn why Tree is the way she is. She isn’t just bitchy for the sake of being bitchy. There’s a reason for it and as the movie goes on, it’s hard not to root for her as she struggles against her killer.

Speaking of her killer, that’s another part about “Happy Death Day” that stands out. Unlike Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees, there’s never a sense that this killer is someone to root for. In typical slasher movies, it’s easy to root for the killer because they have a certain personality or charisma to them. That’s not the case here. In a sense, the killer in this movie is less a person and more deadly obstacle for Tree to overcome.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the killer because that would be getting into spoiler territory. I enjoyed this movie enough to actually want people to go and see it or rent it. This movie definitely is worth seeing because it doesn’t play out entirely like a traditional slasher/horror movie. There are twists and turns that help it stand out.

That leads me to one of the most unique and intriguing elements of “Happy Death Day.” Unlike so many other slasher movies, this movie doesn’t implicitly penalize characters for being overly sexual. I won’t go so far as to say it’s sex positive, like the “Deadpool” movie. Essentially, it’s entirely sex neutral and for a horror movie, that’s still pretty remarkable.

What happens to Tree in “Happy Death Day” has nothing to do with the fact that she’s a beautiful young woman who enjoys having sex for the fun of it. If you take away the sex, but keep the rest of her personality traits intact, she’s still the same person. She would still be subject to the same horrors that unfold throughout the movie.

Her being trapped in an endless cycle of being killed and re-killed has little to do with her promiscuity and everything to do with what a rotten person she is. That’s the part of her that puts her in the crosshairs of a killer. Overcoming that rotten persona is every bit the struggle as the one that involves running from a psycho-killer.

Needless to say, it gets pretty chaotic and messy. Being a horror/slasher movie,  “Happy Death Day” has more than its share of gratuitous violence and bloodshed. That’s one horror element that this movie doesn’t try to subvert, but it doesn’t have to. It just makes it work in a whole new way.

Now, I enjoyed this movie thoroughly. I highly recommend others see it as well, either in theaters or on TV when it comes out. That’s not to say it’s flawless, though. There are some elements in “Happy Death Day” that left much to be desired.

For one, the movie is rated PG-13. While I understand the studio wanting to appeal to a wider audiences, I think that was a mistake for a horror/slasher movie. At times, the violence and nudity seem incredibly watered-down. Compared to a standard “Friday The 13th” sequel, it felt unbelievably tame.

On top of that, some of the supporting characters, namely the nice/generic love interest, Carter Davis, played by Israel Broussard, left a lot to be desired. Carter is likable and all, but he comes off as too flat. There’s never a sense that he and Tree should be together for any other reason beside the fact he’s nice. While it never feels outright forced, it lacks depth.

There’s also the somewhat tongue-in-cheek humor that the movie tries to squeeze in. It tries to be meta in that it acknowledges that elements of the story are similar to “Groundhog Day.” This effort falls somewhat flat and kind of takes away from the drama. I get why it’s there since the parallels are so obvious, but saying it out loud really undermines the mood.

Even with those shortcomings, “Happy Death Day” was still an incredibly enjoyable experience. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed seeing a horror/slasher movie in the theater. The concept, the story, and the characters involved all offered a unique appeal, one that dared to defy traditional horror formulas. For that, I give this movie two thumbs up and a special place on my list of horror movies.


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A Scary (Yet Sexy) Story Before Halloween

It’s the day before Halloween. I’m already working up an appetite for candy, I’ve binge-watched an unhealthy amount of slasher movies, and I’m eagerly awaiting the sexy costumes I’m sure to see. Halloween is an underrated holiday, is what I’m saying. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth belaboring.

In the spirit of this sweet, sexy holiday that adults and kids alike can embrace, I’d like to contribute in a way that goes beyond handing out candy, drinking pumpkin ale, or wearing my sexy male nurse costume. Yes, I have a sexy male nurse costume. Men can be sexy nurses too, you know?

While I’m sure some are burned out watching overly-censored version of “Friday The 13th” and “Halloween” on cable, I think there’s still room for a scary, yet sexy Halloween story. As it just so happens, I happen to have one that I would like to share. Hopefully, it gets everyone in the Halloween spirit. If it makes you horny too, then that’s just a bonus.

This particular story takes place during my first year of college. I’ve shared sexy college stories before, but this one is unique in that it was more a legend around campus. I wasn’t there when it happened, but it had already become part of the culture there and, being a curious freshman, it really resonated with me.

Apparently, this story had been circulating around the school for a couple years now. Nobody knew that it was true, but it sounded like it could be true and that’s kind of what made it scary. Sure, it has a sexy twist, but there’s still that creepy undertone that you only ever feel around clown, black cats, or guys wearing hockey masks.

It didn’t have an official name, but I called it “The Tale Of The Cursed Cupcakes.” I promise it’s not as corny as it sounds. I also apologize if I get some of the details wrong because it has been a while since I told this story, but I think it’s worth sharing on the night before Halloween.

The sun had just set. Halloween had officially begun. A young couple, Eric and Karen, were set to go to the biggest Halloween party on campus. This was one of those parties that only a select few got invited to. Eric happened to be a former roommate with someone who helped organize it so they managed to get in. For him and his girlfriend, it was a big deal.

They go to the party wearing their best costumes. He’s dressed as a pirate. She’s dressed as sexy school girl. They arrive at an upscale apartment just off campus. It’s a place usually reserved for students at the school who have rich parents, scholarships, or both. The food is better, the alcohol isn’t cheap, and the toilets actually work. By college standards, it might as well be a luxury penthouse.

Eric and Karen arrive at the party just after eight. They meet up with the host, a somewhat colorful character named Michael Bowers. He has a reputation throughout campus as being somewhat eccentric. His family contribute heavily to the school and works as a trainer with the football team, which gives him all sorts of access. The guy has connections and he’s not afraid to use them.

As soon as they enter the party, they find out he’s used them well. He reserves the party room at his apartment building and he goes all out. He orders multiple kegs, sets up tables full of snacks, and even hires a professional DJ. At the center of it all is this big plate of cupcakes, each designed to look like eyeballs with big blue irises. Karen finds them kind of creepy, but she figures that’s just part of the Halloween theme.

“Welcome!” Michael greets them, dressed as a vampire. “Here, have a cupcake or several. I promise they’ll get you in the spirit!”

“Whatever,” Eric says, shrugging his shoulders. “I’m just here to have a good time with my girl.”

“You’re sweet, babe,” Karen replies, giving him a nice kiss.

They both eat their cupcakes. They’re warm and sweet, definitely better than anything bought in a store. Eric ends up having another. Then, he and Karen grab some beer, some snacks, and start dancing to all sorts of Halloween-themed music.

More people arrive. Michael greets every one of them, offering everyone cupcakes. Most accept them, thinking little of it. They then join in the fun. They eat, they dance, and they laugh. Like Karen and Eric, they want to have a good time.

Then, after a couple hours or so, everyone has had their share of drinks and snacks. Intoxication takes over and inhibitions disappear. It’s fun, decadent, and everything Karen and Eric expect of a party. Then, Karen starts to notice something odd.

Eric, who isn’t that drunk, gets a little friskier than she expects. As he dances with her, he starts kissing her neck, feeling up her thighs, and even squeezing her butt. This surprises her because he’s usually doesn’t get that overt in public. He usually saves that kind of intimate touching for the bedroom. He’s kind like that.

Before she knows it, though, his touching becomes more overt. He kisses her in the middle of the dance floor and not in a romantic sort of way. He does so in a way that makes it clear he wants to fuck her.

“God, I want you, Karen,” he tells her with an almost-predatory tone. “I’m so fucking horny right now!”

At first, she thinks he’s just drunk. Then, she feels it. When he pulls her deeper into his arms, it literally pokes her right in the thigh. Eric has a raging hard-on. He doesn’t even try to hide it. When she looks down, she sees he has pitched a full tent in his pants. It’s so big and hard it looks like the seams are ready to burst.

“Eric, what has gotten into you?” Karen wonders.

That’s when she notices something else. Looking around her, she sees similar behaviors between other couples. Some are already making out. Some rushing into darkened rooms. Some are engaged in full-fledged foreplay right on the spot. It’s not coy or playful either. It’s like something has gotten into them.

“Fuck, I’m so hard right now!” she hears one man say.

“Hey! Someone get in my pants right now! I’ve got a hungry snake and he’s ready to bite!” says another.

It’s getting intense. The men around her, and even some of the women, seem possessed. Something has gotten into them and it’s not just the alcohol. They’re like animals in heat. Someone or something has provoked them and Eric is one of them.

He’s now looking at her with the eyes of a hungry animal. She’s never seen him like this before. He’s usually so polite and sweet. On this night, though, he’s a raging ball of masculine prowess and he wants to take it out on her. At first, Karen is worried that something might be wrong with him.

Then, he does it. Eric leans in, nibbles on her ear, and slips a hand between her legs. He does this because he knows it turns her on. He knows it gets her in the mood. He doesn’t usually do it unless the time is right. This might not be that time, but it’s too late. The damage has been done. Now, she’s horny too. Whatever monster has consumed her boyfriend has consumed her as well.

“Please, Karen,” he whispers into her ear with that tone he knows she can’t resist. “I want to fuck.”

“Okay,” she tells him. “Let’s go find some privacy.”

“I know just the place!”

Without hesitation, he grabs her hand and leads her away from the party. He’s been to this apartment complex before. He knows it better than most. He practically sprints across the building, eventually finding the locker room area near the pool, which has been closed for the night.

They enter. It was odd that it had been unlocked, but Karen didn’t bother making sense of it. She just followed her boyfriend inside. He then led her towards one of the changing areas, pinned her against the wall, and slid her panties down her skirt.

There was little foreplay or sexy talk, which was unlike Eric, who was such a caring lover. When he dropped his pants, though, she saw the sheer size of his erection and was convinced.

“Fuck! What has gotten into you, Eric?” Karen gasped in amazement.

“I don’t know, but I want it in you too!” he tells her.

He makes good on his desires. With that massive boner, he goes onto give Karen the hardest, rawest fuck of her life. It’s so raw and primal, as though a demon has possessed her boyfriend and the only way to exorcise it was to fuck her senseless. It was intense, but powerful. She could even feel it herself, this demonic lust filling her as he fucked her.

It’s not quick either. He ends up fucking her multiple times, blowing multiple loads. Karen finds herself climaxing more than once too. She swears she hasn’t come this many times since her prom night. For a moment, it seems as though this demonic lust was going to consume them completely.

Eventually, though, they vent their powerful lusts. They’re tired, sore, and dazed. Karen is still a little scared. What just came over them? What just happened?

“We should go,” she finally says after all is said and done.

“Yeah, we should,” Eric says, sounding just as overwhelmed.

They leave the party without saying goodbye. They make it back to the dorm where they shower, sober up, and fall asleep.

The next day is awkward and confusing. They’re still not sure what to make of it. Eric is unusually silent. Karen worries that the monstrous lust is still in him and he’s trying to fight it. She starts to worry whether that party brought out something in them they didn’t know. Did that party reveal a monstrous side to them that they weren’t ready to handle?

Then, later that day, they’re in their dorm together. Eric gets a phone call. It’s his own roommate who’d gotten him an invite to the party. At first, Karen doesn’t make much of it. Then, she hears Eric burst out laughing. Curious, she approaches her boyfriend.

“What’s going on, Eric? What’s so funny?” she asks.

“Viagra,” he tells her, still laughing hysterically. “The cupcakes had Viagra in them!”

That, my friends, is “The Tale Of The Cursed Cupcakes.” I hope it helps inspire your Halloween spirit, among other things. Again, this is a story I only heard from my fellow schoolmates. I don’t know if it’s true. I don’t think it matters. It doesn’t make the story any less sexy.

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The (Not So) Hidden Secret Of Horror Movies

I know Halloween is over and has been over for two days now, but since I still have leftover candy and pumpkin ale so I’m going to assume that’s a good enough reason to still discuss Halloween-like topics. If anyone has an issue with that assumption, too bad. I’m not one to abandon the spirit of a holiday the second the clock strikes midnight on that day. That’s just too arbitrary.

As is often tradition, I watched a lot of horror movies over the past week. It was more pragmatic than tradition. There were horror movie marathons everywhere and some of those movies had gratuitous nudity. You think an erotic/romance writer is going to pass that up? Hell no!

Say what you will about Halloween compared to other holidays. I don’t recall too many Christmas specials giving us a lot of nudity. Any holiday that gives us nudity deserves bonus points in my book, but I digress.

In watching this glut of horror movies, I noticed something that I imagine everybody notices when they see horror movies, especially the “Friday The 13th” slasher type movies. Yes, it also has to do with gratuitous nudity, but not of the good kind if you can believe that.

It’s a poorly kept secret and probably the least subtle message in the history of cinema. Horror movies just love to send a message to any overly-promiscuous teenage girl or overly horny teenage guy. If you dare to be sexy, someone with a machete and/or chainsaw will show up and slaughter you.

It sounds like Sex Ed from the Catholic Church, hidden within the bloody violence of R-rated movies that impressionable youths aren’t supposed to see. It sends so many mixed messages that our brains and genitals can’t help but get confused. It doesn’t just lead to awkward boners. It leads to a misguided and surprisingly-puritanical undertone.

Let’s take a classic example. One of my favorite horror movies of all time, as well as one of my favorite movies of all time, is the original John Carpenter “Halloween.” I know Rob Zombie tried to remake this movie, but you just can’t add polish to a classic.

Classic or not, it basically sets up the formula that generations of slasher movies have repeated time and again. There’s a masked killer on the loose. There are cute teenage girls in his sights. A few of them are a bit too willing to take their clothes off. One of them is a sweet, innocent virgin. The ones who get naked get killed. The innocent virgin survives.

It’s a formula that “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street” would later follow closely, albeit with a few tweaks here and there. Those movies also had their moments. I certainly enjoyed “A Nightmare On Elm Street.” These horror elements make for fun, bloody, thrilling entertainment. They also have a few too many things in common with the policies of the Catholic Church.

It’s no coincidences that the characters who survive the masked-killer’s rampages are cute female virgins of child-bearing age. This is a trope going back to the days of King Arthur where knights slay dragons to get access to a pretty girl. It’s only slightly more subtle. It plays right into the idea that a virgin woman is more valuable because she probably doesn’t have a disease and you can be sure the kid she has is yours.

It’s been a long time since we had to slay dragons and we don’t need virginity to determine who the father of a kid is. Modern paternity tests are as close to 100-percent accurate as it’s statistically possible to be. So why do horror movies still make the virgin girls more valuable than any other character?

It’s a question that answers itself sadly. These movies, and the narratives they craft, are still somewhat tied to the King Arthur formula from centuries past. Our culture, and the products of that culture, still ascribe value to certain traits. These values are what we use to identify which characters are “good” and which characters are “naughty.”

Naturally, our innate sense of justice wants us to see the naughty characters punished. Let’s face it, we don’t like the Biff Tannens or the Regina Georges of the world. They’re the bullies, the assholes, the bitches, and the stuck up jerks who get lucky way more than they deserve. Horror movies go out of their way to punish these characters, often in very brutal ways.

It plays into our sense of fairness more than it does our sense of fear. We don’t think it’s fair that pretty, attractive people get more luck and more sex than we do so we want to see them suffer. Does that sound fair? Well, it shouldn’t and that’s part of the problem.

This is the darker side of horror movies that has nothing to do with violence, murder, or bloodshed. It preys upon the darker angles of our sense of fairness. Those making these movies know that most women in the world don’t look like a young Jodie Foster. They also know that most men don’t look like Biff Tannen. These characters represent the bullies and the sluts that we hate and want to see punished.

This is what horror movies give us. They make it a point to punish those we despise in horrifically violent ways. Now I admit, I still enjoy the thrills these movies have. I love that sudden scary moment that makes me jump out of my seat. That feeling of fear and arousal is very much a primal appeal, one that exploits the faulty wiring of our caveman brains. It can be fun, but the message is still somewhat sadistic when you think about it.

This gets me thinking and by thinking, I mean it may conjure new ideas for a novel. There are countless horror/slasher movies that follow this formula. There are even more stories that place a high value on the virgins/good girls. We’ve seen those stories so many times. Is there room for something different?

If I asked that question a few years ago, I may have hesitated. Then, the success of movies like Deadpool proved that it was possible to shake up a time-tested formula and do something different.

Can there be a horror/slasher story where sluts, jocks, and virgins aren’t all so painfully obvious? Can there be a horror/slasher story where we really don’t know who will survive in the end? Would you even want to read that story? It’s a relevant question to ask because if it’s a story that involves gratuitous nudity, then it’s a story that an aspiring erotica/romance writer is willing to tell.


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