Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween: Last-Second Thrifty Costume Ideas + Treats + Horror Movie Picks

Why does Halloween season have to end!? Tomorrow's Halloween and then the decorations get put away. Luckily, I can satisfy my horror lust and watch genre entries year round! And yes, I have considered making my home a kitschy horror shrine! Anywho, to celebrate my favorite holiday I'm sharing loads of last-second thrifty costume ideas, recipe ideas and horror movie picks!

Behold my thrifty finds above! The skull was a gift from a flea market vendor, the concrete brain was made locally, the succulent was a gift and I found the little pumpkin in my mom's attic.

Last-Second Costume Ideas

Fall and Halloween Recipes

Horror Movie Recommendations

Vintage and Thrifted Halloween

Halloween Decorations and Sights

And don't forget to use my Halloween Playlist for Concentration if you have to work or just want some ambient background party music!

Happy Halloween! I'm going to have a rare couple of days off to visit my friend Ruth's in Orlando again. We're going to explore Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida on Halloween night! This'll be interesting!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Biz Behind-The-Scenes + Final Day for an E-Book Freebie Before it Hits The Shop

I've been determined as hell to get ahead this month! I'm happy with the results. Sometimes you have to throw over-the-top perfectionism out the window or you'll never move forward. I thought I'd share a little behind-the-scenes of work around here lately. The fabric above is for some more creative photo back-drops.

Behind-the-scenes I'm playing with market set-ups. We can't meet demand locally. The online shop isn't launched yet but you'll see it early next month! We have a huge variety of natural products you don't normally see! If there's anything in particular you're looking for you can e-mail me, we can do custom infused/healing lotions/soaps/roll-ons/sprays for basically anything you can think of. The popular requests are dry skin, eczema and psoriasis. It's interesting to note the trends and contemplate what's causing them.

Recent Client Testimonials: 

"Vanessa is a treasure, I'm so glad she's working for my studio! Her photos are beautiful!" - Lotus Bud Tea
"Vanessa is my 'go-to' consultant when it comes to learning the ins and outs of running my antique business. She's kind, thorough, and really knows her stuff! I feel very secure with the direction my business is headed in because of her guidance."  - Deidra S

Last Day to Get Your E-Book Before it Goes in the Shop for $5.00 

TODAY, yes, before the end of the day TODAY is the last day to sign-up for my mini Beginner Business Q&A E Book before it goes into my shop for $5.00! To get can simply sign-up for newsletter below:


The newsletters are fun, I'll share business (reselling, generic, all kinds) tips, random bits, and updates.

It's a crazy busy and productive month and that's the way I like it! Life feels more put-together when I've worked my hardest, even with the rest of the apartment is a disaster zone. I'll get to those dishes and fold the clothes one day...

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Vegan Halloween Popcorn Ball Recipe + Perfect Stove-Popped Popcorn Every Time

It's popcorn ball making season! It's been years since I've had one of these (over a decade?) and I remember it being too cloyingly sweet with marshmallows, corn syrup, chocolates and more sugar and possibly topped with sugar and dipped in sugar. Too much! So I thought I'd try my hand at a "healthier" vegan version. The treats were gobbled up my AJ and Marianne (my roomies) in no-time, hopefully your friends and family will love them, too!

Vegan "Superfood" Popcorn Ball Ingredients

1 Cup Honey or Molasses
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1 Cup Cocoa Nibs (or unsweetened vegan chocolate chips)
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 Tablespoon Orange Peel Powder
1 Cup of Dried Fruit (I uses raisons but cranberries would add nice tartness)
1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt to Taste
7-8 Cups Popped Popcorn (1/3 to 1/2 cup un-popped kernels)

Gloves (unused or very clean thick yellow kitchen gloves) are good to keep your hands from burning!

1/4 to 1/2 Cup of raw or mixed cooked nuts would go well with this too, great for added protein!

Optional: I added a 1/2 Tablespoon eleuthero root powder since I happened to have it on hand. It's an adaptogen in the ginseng family and provides natural caffeine-free energy. Yep, I'm taking pictures of herbs and powders behind-the-scenes for books to come!


1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
2. Pop your popcorn on the stove or in your air popper and set aside
3. Cook Your Honey and Coconut oil until they're combined.
4. Pour your spice mixture over the popcorn.
5. Spread your popcorn evenly on a baking sheet and pour the honey-coconut mixture on top.

6. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed.
7. Remove the popcorn and let it stand for 3 to 5 minutes before forming your popcorn into balls wearing your protective gloves.

Since these were such a hit I'm going to experiment with different spice blends. I think cayenne pepper, chipotle, and furikake (a savory Japanese seaweed) would make the most incredible popcorn balls!

Quick Tips for Making Perfect Stove-Popped Popcorn Every Time

Stove or air-popped popcorn is cheaper than the microwaved bags, infinitely healthier, and most importantly, more delicious! You can play with seasonings and spices and it's an easy way to  feed hungry company with creative varieties! Unfortunately, it's easy to burn or just not pop your kernels if you don't do just right. Years ago I didn't know the secret, but afters years of experimenting (and burning countless kernels in pursuit of popped perfection), I'm a popcorn pro!

Here's what you do for perfect popcorn every time:

1. Use a thicker pan. It doesn't have to be dutch oven thick, but avoid any light thin pans or your popcorn will likely burn. Poor heat distribution.

2. Don't use too little oil or your kernels won't pop and/or will burn. A good ratio is 2-3 TBSP per 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of popcorn. If you're counting calories, just be sure not to go over 3 TBSP or so on the oil, it'll be delicious, but 3 TBSP alone is 450 calories and that's before you calculate the popcorn!

Just mentioning, because, guess who's accidentally gained weight at two different times from popcorn overdose? (Me.)

3. Add 1/3 cup of popcorn to the pan, pour 2-3 TBSP (I go for 1.5 for best results) of oil on top. Coconut is delicious but you can use infused olive oil too. I've found sesame oil to be too thin for easy popping, although the nutty flavor goes with the popcorn perfectly.

4. Have the heat on HIGH until you hear the first POP. Then quickly turn the heat down to half. Shake the pan without removing it from the heat every minute or so to ensure even popping.

Now go make your Halloween popcorn balls! Or just cinnamon honey popcorn, it's delicious just like that!
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Need a Happy Boost? Take This Challenge With Me. Improve Mood and Productivity

Do you ever feel inexplicably dissatisfied even though you shouldn't? Overwhelmed with too many thoughts? Overwhelmed in general? Frustrated? Lost? Confused? Just unhappy?

Follow Along as I Participate in 100 Happy Days via Instagram. My latest shots above. 

Of course you do, even the happiest among us do at some point! I got a bad case of it yesterday and it inspired me to do this challenge again.

If you're like me, chasing happiness or trying to find focus in life, I challenge you to do the 100 Happy Days challenge with me. I did this challenge last year and can confirm that it's mood boosting and life clarifying! Right now I could really use that clarity again, so I'm getting back on this challenge!

Following up on these claims, I did feel happier and more optimistic when I stuck to the challenge. I even fell in love! (It was beginning when I took this boat ride with AJ.) Last time I didn't count the exact days and may have missed a day-or-two by accident, this time I calculated the end-date to make it easier: January 31, 2016!
I like how starting today makes the challenge conclude on the last day of the first month of the new year, because I'm a sucker for arbitrary important-sounding numbers and dates.

If you want to start it with me, you can start today, or you can make it more "even" and start Monday, October 26th. Then you'd take a picture a day for 100 days straight ending your challenge on February 3, 2016! But really, start today, WHY delay happiness?

All you have to do is... 

1. Take a picture of something that's made you happy. It can be anything. Work, school, eating, your pets, pie, dinosaurs. 
2. Share this image on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all three, whatever your social media of choice is. Tag it with the hashtag #100happydays. Or make up your own personal hashtag.  
You can just e-mail it to if you want to keep your journey private.

That's it, you just take a picture of something that makes you happy once a day for 100 days straight.

I take multiple photos every single day for my blog, for fun, or for clients. This project helps me reflect on why something I'm photographing is making me happy, and it help you feel grateful. Hopefully, you'll learn things about yourself.

I learned that one of my top happiest moments is first thing in the morning sitting at a clean desk and writing/working with something to drink and feeling inspired! If you join the challenge please let me know via e-mail or via social media. You can follow along as I keep this challenge rolling daily on Instagram. If enough people want to join up, maybe we can make our own hashtag to keep up with each other's progress!

Also, this time, I'm going to go to the awesome Challenge Finished page (actually didn't notice that before) and get my 100 Happy Days printed, there's an interesting way this can happen for free!

Note: To clear up confusion, this challenge isn't about being happy every day 24/7 or being happy all day, but increasing optimism and gratefulness by stopping to consciously photograph what makes you happy in a ritualistic way.

/Comments Off but let me know via e-mail if you want to join in or have any questions.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Savory Vegan Ginger and Spice Pumpkin or Autumn Squash Soup Recipe


Ah, pumpkin season is a magical time for me. An October baby, horror aficionado, and lifelong lover of orange, I live for summer's heat but Halloween-time is a soul song. As a child the thing I remember most vividly about the pumpkin is carving it with mom, seasoning the delicious seeds (pepitas) then baking and eating them, but how sinful of us to ignore that pumpkin flesh! The pumpkin's fleshy interior is good for more than just pie or seasonal lattes. Squash soup is one of my season favorites. It's buttery, savory, and extremely nutritious- packed beautifying and immune system boosting A and C vitamins. I've tried different variations over the years, but the one below is my favorite!


- 1 Can Organic Pumpkin  or 2 Cups of Freshly Pureed Pumpkin
- 3 Cups Freshly Squeezed or Store Bought Organic Orange Juice
- 3 Cups Vegetable Stock, Homemade or Store Bought
- 1/2 Tablespoon Ginger Powder (I like it with 1 Tablespoon)
- 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder

- Optional: 2 Tablespoons of Sliced Leek
- Optional: Tablespoon of Miso
- Optional: Serve with Nutmeg or add 1 TSP to the soup

Directions: Cook your vegetable broth on medium heat, stirring in your leek, ginger and onion powder and miso until it's dissolved. Add the rest of your ingredients and cook for 15 minutes.

Top your soup with nutmeg, more ginger or onion powder, or even add some freshly sliced scallions or green onions. You can get creative with this recipe, but it's very simple and delicious as is. It's an excellent use for your pumpkin this season. Of course, feel free to sub pumpkin for any other squash. Acorn or Butternut Squash soup is delicious!

Get your vitamins in and find another use for your squash or canned pumpkin this fall! Does anyone else have delicious squash or fall recipes to share? I'd love to read them.
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Monday, October 19, 2015

$2 Woodgrain Photography Backdrop: One Step Professional Photo Set-Up for Blog or Product Shots


I had this vision for a wood photo backdrop for my new soap brand but I didn't feel like building one! No thanks! I have things to do and nailing boards of wood together in my workshop-less apartment wasn't one of them. But then I remembered the trusty woodgrain print contact paper I've used for other crafts and created my own beautiful backdrop for less. I love the flat, kitschy artifice of it, too.

My supplies are simply foam core and contact paper I picked up from Dollar Tree.

From there, just apply your contact paper to the board. It's better to this a little bit at a time so you don't experience too many wrinkles and bumps. Smooth out bubbles as you go with a straight-edge.

And just like that you have a beautiful photo backdrop.

They it even makes my generic mug and scissors look pro with good lighting and a click or two in photoshop.

The dollar store doesn't have the best selection of contact paper, but I like have a few textures to play with. The grey one at top looks suspiciously like 90s sponge paint! Haha! I'll keep shopping second-hand for patterns than fit my brand.

And if you use limit the depth of field with an SLR and blur the backdrop you can't even see a seam on the backdrop at all! I love having woodgrain for shooting white items that would get lost on my regular white background.

Have fun taking creative photos! I have several more backdrops to knock-out (this time, in fabric, a harder process) for e books and product photos. Having a large selection just makes the process so much funner and pictures more dynamic!

Other Backdrop Ideas: Simple Fabric Backdrop | IKEA Roller-Blind Backdrop | Photo Station

What do you use for a backdrop if you shoot photos? I do want to invest in some professional lights, backdrops and stands, they are very professional looking and convenient, but my cheap $4 ones work fine for now!
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Calling All Bloggers and Creatives: Let's Collab + The Epic Goal List Update

Believe or not, I finished nearly everything on my punishing 28 Before 29! I may have completed it all if it wasn't for this damn hideous cold; the symptoms showed up 2 days before my trip to The Hostel in the Forest (where I'll be at as you read this).  The only things I didn't finish: some deep cleaning and completely polishing off my client work and my body care product catalog- though I came close to all of those.

Of course, I'm going to keep "punishing" myself by bringing my notebooks with me to continue writing eBooks and blog posts. I jest, it's not punishing, challenging, but it's something I absolutely love to to. I'm inspired to blog daily and always have hundreds of ideas.

THAT said, as I fill up my editorial schedule for the rest of the year and into the next, I want to branch out. I want more interviews with creatives, business tips, home tours, and tours of creative's collections. E-mail me, I'd love to tell your story.

Also, I'm seriously open to suggestions on blog posts, so send me an e-mail with any ideas as I plot ahead. I have blog and business improvement tips, some detailed whole living 101 type posts, interviews, DIYs and before/afters planned. All of the recipe-type posts are simple tips for adding helpful extras to your diet to keep your healthy (like my orange peel tip) rather than full-on recipes- because we're all busy and those little extras help! I'm excited about my editorial schedule for the rest of the year and beyond and excited to hear ideas from you, too!

And now, I'm finally getting off the computer (I have been up all day making random things then sitting here at the computer since 7:45PM. It's now 1:13 AM!? Aah!) I'll post updates of my blissful trip at my favorite place in the world via Instagram.

*Nope, update, too sick for my trip. :P
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Horror Music Playlist for Halloween That Will Help You Concrete on Your Work Today! Yep. Really.

Noise levels and how they add to, or distract from, your work is a highly individual thing, but the right amount of ambient noise is essential to help me focus when I write and work. There are various studies that provide the science behind why the mild ambient noise of people chattering and mellow music in a cafe actually helps you work better! I love ambient noise generators like Rainy Cafe and My Noise, but I've recently switched it up with music from my favorite Survival Horror video games, right in time for Halloween!

My Halloween lights and pumpkins will be on and out all month, of course. 

Back in 1996 when pixelated polygon models and pre-rendered static backgrounds were the highs of sophistication for video game imagery, Resident Evil's developers relied on an AMAZING score to set the mood. These games were passed down from gamer-to-gamer, nerd-to-nerd, with the warning, "This shit is scary." A 14-year-old relayed the admonishing advice to me at age 11, but I ignored it when I put the disc into my PlayStation one quiet summer evening. Nothing scared me, I thought, I'd watched the original Halloween every night the month of October for my bedtime story- since I was five. I had Batman's balls of steel! But when I was done creeping around the malevolent mansion filled with its hostile horrors and turned the counsel off for the night I suddenly realized I was indeed, spooked by a video game! I rushed back to my bedroom room from the living room in the dark, so the zombies couldn't get me!

And as it turns out, the repetitiveness of my favorite songs from the game series on a loop make THE PERFECT background writing music for me! (Stuff with lyrics or that's too instrumental distracts me.) I hope they help you too. Not all of the tracks are scary, others are haunting and melancholy. If anything, they'll set the mood while you carve pumpkins or throw parties this Halloween season!

No matter how many times I've played all the games in the series, no matter how well I remember where every "jump scare" is activated or how carefully I've memorized where all the enemies are on the map, I never feel fully secure when I'm playing these games. And that's the sign of good game design... and a damn good soundtrack. Pop these songs on while driving on a lonesome autumn road at midnight. All security will evaporate.

[Bonus Funny: Play this urgent Resident Evil 2 track when you're rushing to clean the house before party guests arrive. You know, when you're stuffing your mess into the closet! Why do guests only come when you house is a mess and not during the miraculous clean-time? Or use the track as motivation when you're frantically finishing something a few minutes before the deadline!]

Also: Here's a full Resident Evil 1 and Resident Evil 2 soundtrack if you'd rather have shorter loops or a fuller experience, although some of the tracks wont make sense outside of gameplay.

Curl up with your blanket, a mug of autumn latte goodness, your idea notebook, and enjoy! If you don't have time for a whole loop, here's a playlist of my absolute favorites! And of course, please share any video games, horror movie suggestions, or background music suggestions to me via E-mailTwitter or Instagram. I'd love to read them.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Orange Peel Powder DIY: A Healthy Multi-Purpose Purpose Spice in Two Easy Steps

Ever wondered if there was anything you could do with your orange peels besides throwing them away? Save them for orange peel powder! Orange peel powder is absolutely delicious sprinkled on yogurt, tossed in smoothies, on salad and on a variety of other dishes. You can even use it as a face scrub and/or a face mask! And surprisingly, the peel has even more vitamins, mineral and nutrients than the fruit! As a face treatment it cleanses, tones, exfoliates and it's antibacterial.

And the smell, I wish you could smell it through the computer, it smells heavenly. If you're eating oranges, make orange peel powder! Here's how to do it:

Set aside your fresh peels to dry either flat on a kitchen counter, in the sun for the day, or via a dehydrator like I did:

You can cut your peel into small pieces to make them dry faster. They could dry complete within an hour or two. I leave mine to dry overnight. Dehydrating or air-drying your orange peel preserves the nutrients, but if you watch your peels carefully you may be able to bake them at your oven's lowest heat, but it will lose some nutrients due to the temperature.  Whatever method you choose, make sure it's completely bone-dry before you grind because any moisture will create microbe growth that spoils your powder.

From there I blended it to a fine powder with my trusty vita-mix blender. A regular blender should work, too, but you may have do this at about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of peel at a time.

I believe three oranges and three grapefruits produced the large amount of powder you see here! It's easy to always have a stockpile of this for skin care, home cleaning (make a scouring scrub) and adding nutrition and flavor to food and spice mixes! Yum! And to think I was buying the powder and throwing away my orange peels? Why?!

Also of note, there are substantially more enzymes, flavonoids and phytonutrients in the peel of the orange than in the fruit itself! It's good for digestion and is an excellent source of vitamin C.

By the way, the store-bought orange peel powder is on the left and the freshly-made powder on the right. The store-bought still smells good, but the fresh one is even more pungent and delightfully aromatic. You'll note the color is brighter too, which usually means there's more nutrients.  This is the perfect spice to keep on-hand during the cold and flu season for a vitamin c boost.

I love finding new uses for items we normally throw away! I wonder how many other peels can be ground into spices? Time to investigate...
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Friday, October 9, 2015

Souvenir Shopping, Ice Cream and Exploring in Downtown Ponce, Puerto Rico

Every time I visit family in Puerto Rico we swing by downtown Ponce to take in the colorful vintage architecture, pick up souvenirs for family/friends and have one last taste of the heartbreakingly delicious ice cream from Frutas Naturales.

I always scoop up a new traditional Vejigante mask for my collection. A huge one would be nice, but they're quite pricey, all over $100. The medium-sized ones are more reasonable at around $25.00. I currently own 8 masks.

While exploring that day I desperately wanted to swim in that pool. It appeared to be a pool within a restaurant!? The hotel's pool maybe? I loved the position. The last shot has my cousin, mom and brother. My cousin cracked me up by saying the La Pulga bar pictured second-to-last was a hangout for "hippies". :D

Next time I visit I'll focus on taking better pictures of the lesser-photographed architecture. I'm not proud of the shots I got on this trip! I need to find my monopod so I can be a proper obnoxious tourist.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Horror Movie Picks this Halloween: The Best New Picks and Nostalgic Retro Vibes

All year I watch the worst in horror to unearth the best for you, I am the hero you don't deserve; I am Batman! This year I have a delectable selection. Each film is rich in thematic elements AND artful buffets for the eyes. These movies mock the technology of "now" or construct a "no-time" fantasy decade that reminds us that horror is inescapable in the past, present and future. These movies warn us of the danger of underestimating someone due to gender, or take us back to days where just existing in your newly pubescent body, with all it's hormonal changes, was scary. None of these picks kept me up half the night like my first pick from last year, these shouldn't even be particularly nightmare educing, but they're all exemplary examples of the genre.

It Follows 

The horror community was abuzz with rave reviews for It Follows, all for good reason! It Follows is so good that it makes me sad, depressed that there's just not enough films of its caliber in the genre. It Follows borrows its score and visual style from master directors of the genre, John Carpenter in particular, but ends up with a feel all its own. There's a fair bit of resemblance to the dreamy, no-determinate-decade style David Lynch used in his magnum opus, Blue Velvet, the vouyerism and paranoid environment evokes Hitcock's best works (Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo) and the still arty shots recall Ingar Burgman. This is a horror movie that looks like an art film.

There's vouyerism subtext, not unlike Hitcock's Rear Window.

The director deliberately uses blends elements from decades past, present and future (yes, there's a futuristic E-reader that doesn't exist in real life in this film) to create a world that looks like everyone's childhood. There's wallpaper and furniture from the 50s and 60s, cars and fashions from the 70s and 80s, but the characters use smart phones. This blurring creates a sentimental nostalgic vibe that's appropriate for the themes: fear of growing up, fear of death; that aging and death are things always following- and you can never avoid them. I appreciate the general avoidance of movie cliques. It Follows trusts the audience to understand themes without spelling things out for us explicitly, leaving some things up for debate, and others in the backdrop as subtext. Throw in various talking points to ponder, for example, the meaning behind the terrifying apparitions that appear and the order in which they appear has obvious significance that the director doesn't clarify.

With real scares, mounting tension, thoughtful themes and an INCREDIBLE old school synthesizer score by a video game music producer (my fav!) and you have the best horror movie to come out in years!

Ex Machina 

Ex Machina has been described as neo-Kubrick, but for it's slights, I'd call it Kubrick-light. That's still a hell of a lot of praise for a movie by a brand new director! Ex Machina is a Scifi Horror and a mystery story with a stark look and rich atmosphere. An awkward young programmer is sent to an eccentric billionaire's minimalist, isolated estate in the Alaskan Wilderness for an important robotics experiment. Through a series of interviews he has to determine whether or not a hauntingly beautiful (of course!) "female" robot is a true Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The visual buffet is formidable! Look at those colors. This movie is SO good!

Ex Machina's plot and writing can be predictable and clique, I craved more mystery and subtely, but that's my only gripe. The interviews with the AI are brilliantly shot and played. Her design is striking, simultaneously alluring and eerily alien. Choosing trained ballerina Alicia Vikander to portray the robot was brilliant casting, using her highly developed sense of movement she creates a graceful, mesmerizing blend of girl and delicate machine. You can't take your eyes off of her every time she's on the screen. The supporting cast is also excellent, our mad scientist villain is equally fascinating, our lead, though frustratingly naive, is sympathetic.

The themes of technology vs. man, the age of singularity and/or the next mechanical evolution of man pre-dates the industrial revolution. History's first recorded epic (Gilgamesh) had the same theme. This message is in Ex Machina, but isn't the heart of it. Ex Machina is a mystery and a power struggle between three characters working to outwit each other. My favorite theme in Ex Machina is the feminist subtext. Director Alex Garland included feminism in famous scripts he wrote: Dredd (covered here) and 28 Days Later. Both It Follows and Ex Machina discuss the misguided "pure" intentions of "The White Knight" character. These characters appear selfless and noble, usually the underdog, working to save the fair lady, but that's just the think, she's usually fair (attractive) and the actions are normally for the end-goal of "winning" the woman. This doesn't make you pure evil, but it makes you just as much of a discriminator as a "bad guy" who's blatant about his intentions.

Feminist rant aside, this a gorgeously shot, spellbinding film with clear still shots that make you think. Still waters run deep.

Lost Boys 

Lost Boys is light on plot and nil on scares (unless your a toddler? infant? embryo?) but makes up for it with bright, gaudy cinematography. Searing reds, blue fog, swooping flying shots, expertly employed slow-mo; this movie employs every MTV filmmaker trick to comprise one of the most beautiful horror films you will ever witness. Joel Schulmaker (music video alumni, director of the entertaining Batman Forever and the abysmal Batman and Robin) acts like a kid in a candy store with this one and takes a "kiddie" horror movie to another level with laughs, high style, and some of the most photogenic 20-somethings playing teens even committed to celluloid.

Visually striking. Blues, Reds, Spotlights, all used for expert dramatic affect. Photogenic half-dressed twenty-somethings everywhere doesn't hurt, either. 

I don't think it's merely my childhood memories of this movie that gives me nostalgia pangs while viewing. It's deliberately constructed to invoke memories of childhood shenanigans. The universe is ever-so-slightly off kilter from reality. It takes place in a tiny beach town with the biggest population of pretty teenagers in the world. (The movie explicitly says the city has the highest murder rate in the world, but then, how the HELL are there so MANY people left to keep killing?) And the Lost Boys title really fits, Santa Carla is like Neverland, complete with an underground gaggle of teenagers that can never grow-up. It would have been interesting if the movie would have explored older brother Michael's horrorific ordeal because it was a fresh angle, but as it is, this movie has a little of everything. Laughs, awe-inspiring beauty, and a mysterious aura. It's a horror classic for a reason.

Also, best soundtrack in horror or perhaps in both the horror, teen, and kid movie genre combined. Thou shall not cry...

Ginger Snaps 

I love horror movies because they're allegories for things we're afraid of as a society. It Follows was about aging, changing, and death, that things we can't avoid are always following; the uncertain future and the horrors that could be there. Ginger Snaps is another horror movie about growing up, this time dealing with puberty in particular. Again, Ginger Snaps is funny, sad, and gripping while avoiding cliques. Extra points for it being a story about the relationship between two sisters that doesn't involve cat fights, jealousy, or romantic interests. This is a unique horror film with a lot of empathy for the female puberty experience (John Fawcett also directed Xena: Warrior Princess so you guessed it, feminist director) and I give him a lot of kudos for it.

Watch it, you'll laugh and you'll probably cry, too! (I think to this day though, the only horror to make me cry- and the two people watching it with me- was Alice Sweet Alice. Covered here.)


We're looking at the horror of female puberty again with yet another quirky teen-horror film. Teeth isn't trying to be scary, it's going for an intentional B Horror movie vibe and weaves teen angst, coming-of-age drama  and black comedy with the horror notes beautifully. I love the world they've made here, the desaturated any-place, any-time America look to it reminds me of It Follows, but Teeth's world is slightly kitschier. There are some sharp barbs against abstinence-only education and the general American fear of the female reproductive system that I adore! Jess Weixler as Dawn is the glue that holds this film together, you need a lead that you can empathize with for all the elements of this film to work and Jess is pitch-perfect for the role. Watch Teeth if you want a unique horror watching experience with equal parts over-the-top B Horror laughs, smart social commentary, and pathos.

Black Mirror

Black Mirror is a British Science Fiction Horror anthology series, each episode is a complete short story dealing with humanity's relationship with modern technology, each a short allegory for the dangers of over-reliance on modern convenience. The stories are a terrifying warning about dystopian future possibilities if we keep going on our current path of automation. It's good enough to be mentioned in the same sentence as The Twilight Zone, which had similar themes and stories!

It's a satire of popular culture, selfies, and smart phones, what's not to love? Put down your phones and live, kids!

 * * * 

I could go on with recs forever but this is this year's picks, there will be time to go over the classics another year!

Horror Flick Recommendations: October 2012 // Vintage Picks/Amazing Set Design | October 2013 // Classics on Netflix // 

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