Post #390: Top 10 Tuesday, Top 10 Black Mirror Episodes

I love love love Black Mirror. For one thing, it’s just so relentlessly clever. I’m willing to bet it’ll turn out to be prophetic as well, if it isn’t so on some levels already. Repeat viewers will also be rewarded in many cases by the whole Leland Palmer/Twin Peaks/Kuleshov Effect by which our perception of the characters changes based on what we now know. Plus there are all these the super fun easter eggs scattered among the episodes.

So I’m admittedly surprised it’s taken me so long to get around to my Top 10 Black Mirror Episodes.

#10 Men Against Fire, S3 E5

One of the things that often sticks with me from some Black Mirror episodes is how Kafka-esque they become. I don’t mean people turning into giant bugs Kafka. I mean unexplained bureaucratic institutional vengeance wielded by an unidentified few, like in The Trial. “Men Against Fire” also speaks to the bait-and-switch kind of practices employed by less scrupulous military recruiters.

#9 Metalhead, S4 E5

So, Black Mirror has, by and large, never been a yuk tsunami, but man oh man did S4 ever get buh-leak. I mean, even for me some of them got downright merciless, and none moreson than “Metalhead.” The end is just deeply disturbing, and the “dogs” are super creepy robots that look like a cross between a carnivorous predator and a heavily armored giant cockroach.

#8 Nosedive, S3 E1

I liked this one the first time I saw it, but it recently took on a whole new kind of depth based on some other stuff I’ve been watching. In particular, I’ve been checking out rSlash, the very entertaining Sassy, and the always hilarious Charlotte Dobre, especially the stuff where people who think they’re influencers (but have like 1000 followers) get called out for trying to get free shit. I dunno, “Nosedive” just kinda tapped into that world for me as well.

#7 Playtest, S3 E2

This is just terrifying. Next time I’m on a plane, and someone refuses to turn off some electroinc device or other, well, let’s just say that I will not be held responsible for my actions.

#6 Crocodile, S4 E3

Yet another thing I love so very damn much about this show is its number of M. Night Shyamalan kinds of twists. This one is no exception. I literally sat straight up and said “No. Fucking. Way!” to Groovy (my cat). He wasn’t impressed. Apparently he saw it coming way the hell before I did. Oh, and another bleak one from S4.

#5 Shut Up And Dance, S3 E3

Okay, S4 gets pretty bleak, yeah, but god damn “Shut Up And Dance” is, for me, one of the darkest episodes of the entire series. Some never-identified troll blackmails an entire network of people into contributing bits and pieces to one grand overarching scheme with the promise that once they’ve completed their step, they’re off the hook. It’s also possibly the best example of another thing Black Mirror has going for it, and that’s its ability to subvert your expectations, often in the worst way possible.

#4 White Christmas, Standalone Special

I love Jon Hamm. I’d have been tempted to cast him as Stanton Carlisle in Nightmare Alley instead of Bradley Cooper. But wowzers do you hate his character in this one. It starts out as two guys relegated to some snowbound cabin as part of some kind of punishment. Another twist, and another gut punch ending, double in this case. In terms of which one moves the needle the most on the Bleak-O-Meter, it’s a toss up between this one and #5 above.

#3 The Waldo Moment ,S2 E3

Yet another thing I love about Black Mirror is its cynicism, the kind that routinely offers up a jaded look at human nature. In this one, an animated bear makes a mockery of party politics. It’s a tough watch here in The Colonies what with the Big Orange Cult. Waldo’s co-opting by American agents for the purposes of propaganda and disinformation is particularly chilling.

#2 The National Anthem, S1 E1

Speaking of cynical, holy crap. Princess Susannah, a beloved and sociopolitically active royal, is kidnapped and will be killed unless the prime minister fucks a pig. On national TV. Live. This was the first episode, and as soon as the premise became clear, I knew they had me as a die hard fan forever. What’s unsettling about this one in particular is its plausibility.

Honorable Mentions

Arkangel S4 E2, USS Callister S4 E1, White Bear S2 E2

#1 Black Museum, S4 E6

I just saw this one recently, and until then, “The National Anthem” was easily my #1. What edged “Black Museum” ahead by just the narrowest of margins was one thing, and that’s my, to quote The Princess Bride, “overdeveloped sense of vengeance.” I don’t wanna spoil anything. A woman stops by a roadside attraction called the Black Museum and hears a couple of stories from the proprietor, very horror anthology style. Watch it as least twice—once just for the easter eggs.

And that’s my Black Mirror list. Are you a fan? What are your faves? Lemme know in The Comments.

Post #388: Top 10 Tuesday, Top 10 “Valentines” Gone Horribly Wrong

Here at Castle Blogferatu we can be just as ridiculously festive as anyone given the right time of year. Take Valentine’s Day for example. We’re quite fond. Candy, roses (black of course), hearts hanging everywhere—what’s not to love? What do you mean “Where did the hearts come from?” Mind yer business.

Plus there’s the added bonus that the day has a bit of a gruesome history—martyrdom and beheadings and such. There’s a swell piece by Lisa Bitel about it at The Conversation.

And so, in honor of the day’s gory origins as well as the fact that love goes little sideways now and then, as a late Valentine’s Day prezzie, I give you my Top 10 “Valentines” Gone Horribly Wrong.

#10 The Witch Who Came In From The Sea (1976)

Before there was Alex in Fatal Attraction, there was Molly in The Witch Who Came In From The Sea. On one hand, she really wants love and/or a father figure. Unfortunately she conflates the two, and intimacy ends up triggering violence. Sex, drugs, homicidal daddy issues—what more could Cupid want?

#9 Honeymoon (2014)

Had to work some Lovecraftian stuff in here. Newlyweds Paul and Bea head off to spend their post-nuptials in a, wait for it, cabin in the woods. And more along the lines of Cabin In The Woods or Evil Dead than, say, Friday The 13th, some cosmic weirdness unfolds.

#8 The Love Witch (2016)

Elaine is another poor soul who just wants to be loved. At any cost. Not a huge fan of this one if I’m honest, but it certainly fits into this week’s list, and good lord & butter is it ever as gorgeous a piece of cinema as anyone would want to behold. Seriously, story aside, it’s visually stunning and fun as hell with its 70s vibe.

#7 What’s The Matter With Helen? (1971)

Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) and Helen (Shelley Winters) become kind of inextricable from each other after their sons get arrested for murder. Their friendship becomes pretty solid, although Helen’s attachment to Adelle goes somewhat beyond mere friendship. All of this gets thrown into turmoil and disarray with the arrival of Lincoln (Dennis Weaver) who becomes Adelle’s love interest. Also, it’s written by Henry “What Ever Happened To Baby Jane” Farrell.

#6 Ready Or Not (2019)

Speaking of Lovecraftian stuff…okay, the cosmic horror is mainly implied here and takes a back seat to the survivial horror at least until the end. It’s a grisly little romp as Samara Weaving does her best to survive her newly wedded bliss.

#5 [REC]3: Genesis (2012)

This kinda combo prequel/parallel storyline is Paco Plaza’s solo effort in the series. I think it holds up pretty well, much more so than the 4th installment. Lots of what I believe to be Kill Bill references as well as The Blood Spattered Bride (can hardly have one without the other), especially given A) Clara’s ultimate fate, B) the fact that it takes place on her wedding day, and C) the bloody swath she cuts through the wedding venue.

#4 “Julie,” Trilogy Of Terror (1975)

Trilogy Of Terror was quite the horrific experience for 10-year-old me, and its scares still hold up today. Not bad for an ABC Movie Of The Week. “Julie” is a very cool take by Richard Matheson on the whole Bluebeard/black widow idea. Julie is an English professor who is seemingly blackmailed into a sexual relationship by one of her students. Seemingly.

#3 My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Ah yes, the ol’ “oops we left 5 miners unsupervised so’s we could go to the Valentine’s dance but the mine blew up” storyline, a tried and true plot device dating back to the time of Sophocles if I’m not mistaken.

#2 Cutting Class (1989)

What? Brad Pitt? In a bad 80s slasher? Oh hell yeah! The less said the better in case y’all have let this diamond in the rough, nay, this gem, nay, this apotheosis of slashy 80s schlock somehow slip past you.

Honorable Mentions

“Amateur Night” (V/H/S). Crimson Peak, Donkey Punch, Fatal Attraction, Let The Right One In, Pigs, Private Parts (1972), Psycho, The Cook The Thief His Wife And Her Lover, The Loved Ones

#1 “Only Skin Deep,” Tales From The Crypt S6 E2 (1994)

Hands down my favorite on this list and one of my favorite Tales From The Crypt episodes. Very loosely based on a story of the same name from Tales From The Crypt V1 #38, alpha dirtbag Carl crashes his ex-wife’s Halloween party. There he meets the mysterious, masked Molly (another Molly). I don’t wanna spoil this, other than to say that all Molly apparently wants is some passion, but some guys just can’t leave well enough alone.

And that’s our list along with a healthy serving of Honorable Mentions. Which of these have you seen? What’s missing? Lemme know in The Comments.


Post #387: Top 10 Tuesday, Top 10 Streaming Services For Horror

I covered a few of these briefly in Post #249 back in August, and thought it’d be A Good And Useful Thing to revisit a list of streaming services I use on the regular. Some of these have improved, some have gone downhill, and some are here solely for one or two specific reasons.

I did have Prime for awhile but didn’t really use it enough in terms of shipping to pay for itself. It was solely for movies, and there was a time when one could find pretty good stuff for free as a member. The sun has long ago set on that bygone golden age as fewer and fewer of the titles I’m interested in, when they’re available at all, aren’t free with subscription.

I find this unreasonable. No horror nerd, no matter how devoted, should be forced to shell out even ¢99 for The Green Slime for instance. So yeah, fuck Jeffy. I do, however, retain my Roku. There’s a big ol’ heapin’ heppin’ of weird little channels where one cant watch whatever movie is running at the moment (so timing is, of course, everything). That’s another post entirely.

So, here’s a ranking of my Top 10 Streaming Services For Horror.

#10 Hulu

This is the first of two services that I keep around for one specific reason. In this case, that’s the Into The Dark series. I love S1, but so far I’ve only made it to E3 is S2. Not sure if I’ll keep Hulu after I finish S2. I tried getting into Castle Rock, but couldn’t sustain it. Maybe I’ll give that another shot. My problem with Hulu is that I get it free with Spotify Premium. For obvious reasons, I need to shitcan Spotify. Yeah, that’ll show ’em. So I’ll either have to subscribe to Hulu or let it go.

#9 Netflix

The other channel that’s only on here for one reason. In this case, that’s two words: Black Mirror. Holy hell does this series creep me the fuck out. For one thing, a helluva lot of it is just so damn plausible, like “The National Anthem” and “Shut Up And Dance.” Others are just unnerving and bleak, like “Playtest.” And some, like “The Waldo Experience,” manage to check all 3 of those boxes.

#8 Kanopy

This is a great setup for any movie fan. You subscribe through your local (or institutional if you’re a student) library if they participate. Their selection is pretty damn good, and it’s often a great place to find stuff you can’t find anywhere else.

#7 Full Moon Channel

Charles Band movies can be pretty hit or miss for me, but a good number of Full Moon flicks like Puppet Master and  Subspecies speak for themselves. Others like Baby Oopsie and Head Of The Family speak for themselves as well in, uh, some form or other. If you know, you know. They also have cool merch and collectibles and run a good number of deals that offer some kinda perk like a free year or 10 DVDs from their catalogue. Yes please duh.

#6 POV Horror

This is a Roku streaming channel that’s run by the good folks at Found Footage Critic. Big number of titles that are otherwise tricksy to find. It’s a rabbit hole I can tunnel through for days.

#5 Dark Matter TV

A surprising little service that turns up some much sought after nuggets here and there. Also a more than respectable Full Moon selection if you’re a double fowl single brick kinda folks.

#4 Screambox

I subscribed to this and kinda forgot about it. $40 a year, but gives you access to all the Masters Of Horror movies and 13 Nights Of Elvira. The reason it’s not higher on this list is that I haven’t explored much of it yet.

#3 Shudder

I’ve been following these folks around off and on since they first started. I don’t think their selection always holds up as well as it could, so I tend to come and go with my subscription. Still, they have a series here and there that’s well worth following, particularly Creepshow, Eli Roth’s History Of Horror, and The Last Drive-In. Hell Joe Bob Briggs alone is well worth the price of admission.

#2 HBO Max

It genuinely pains me to acknowledge this channel, but I gotta say, I was taken aback. I watched The Last Wave on here, and I was freakin’ gobsmacked by the number of forgotten classics they have, especially from the exploitation and giallo genres.

#1 Tubi

I love Tubi, and as far as horror titles go, they’re still slappin’ the immortal piss outta just about anyone who dares step into the ring. I routinely see stuff on Tubi that I can’t find any place else. I considered dinging them for being ad driven, but A) I just couldn’t face myself in the mirror if I put HBO first, and 2) Tubi is free. Free is still a magic word around here at Castle Blogferatu.

So there’s my list of streaming services. What did I miss? What should I check out? Let me know in The Comments.