With An Accent Recommends: Halloween Tales

We apologize for how long it’s been since we’ve done a recommends post. Halloween seems like the perfect time to get the feature started back up again, because who doesn’t love a good Halloween rec? From legitimately scary flicks to others still on theme but less actually frightening, we’ve got you covered with recs to get you into the spirit of the spookiest season of the year.

Tales from the Hood, recommended by Andrew Santos, Contributor

Written and directed by Rusty Cundieff (Chapelle’s Show) and produced by Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing), Tales From The Hood is a horror anthology in line with films like Creepshow and Trick ‘r Treat. With a title like Tales From The Hood, an obvious play on Tales from the Crypt or Tales from the Darkside, and a promotional poster which features a decomposed skeleton with sunglasses on, this film comes off more as a parody rather than a true horror film contender. Looks can be deceiving, though.

Not only is Tales From The Hood what I consider to be a horror classic, but it also uses the genre to address numerous social issues which sadly are still apparent today decades later. The film begins as three gangsters enter a funeral home in order to purchase drugs from its mortician. Before delivering on the product they came for, the mortician decides to walk the three gangsters around, reciting cautionary tales in regards to the corpses and items inhabiting the funeral home.

The four tales told in Tales From The Hood address issues dealing with child abuse, police brutality, gang violence, and racism. These stories do a good job at shining a light on these issues, but also manage to be truly scary at the same time. The stories range from zombies and the paranormal to some creepy living puppets. Up until recently this film was very hard to come by, being out of print for years and not featured on any streaming services like Netflix. Thankfully, Tales From The Hood was finally made available on Blu-ray earlier this year and is also available for download on iTunesYouTube, and Amazon Video  So, check it out if you dare and rediscover this horror anthology that really doesn’t get the recognition it deserves today.

Warm Bodies, recommended by Angela, Contributing Editor

Warm Bodies is a 2010 novel by Isaac Marion and a 2013 film adaptation starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. I’m recommending both. I can’t handle most zombie stuff – I’m a baby about horror and gore – but usually I can swing zombie comedies, if there isn’t too much emphasis on either of the aforementioned, so I was all over this zombie romcom. Warm Bodies details the love story between an increasingly self-aware zombie named R, and Julie, a member of the human resistance.

I know how it sounds, but both versions work. They embrace the quirkiness inherent in the premise while still trying to tell an at-least-semi-serious story. It’s just plain fun to experience a story predominantly from the point of view of the zombie, as we feel him slowly develop more and more autonomous thought. R builds himself a little home. He has a friend. One key to his gradual return to a semblance of humanity is through his diet; each time he eats, he experiences the memories held by the brain he’s consuming.

That leaves the door open for an intriguing take on a now-overcrowded genre. How the most monstrous aspect of zombiesm could be the path to its cure. Which makes it all the more exciting that in writing this recommendation I discovered that earlier this year Marion released The Burning World, the sequel to Warm Bodies (previously he’d also published a prequel).

But the primary emphasis of both book and film is its humor and heart. The book in particular takes on a very millennial, age-of-the-Internet tinge in tone and turn of phrase, which I quite appreciated and enjoyed. If you only have time for one I recommend the book, because it deserves more attention. Either way, if you want something sort of on-theme for Halloween this year but can’t handle the actual horror like me, check out both iterations of Warm Bodies.

grimm posterGrimm, recommended by Kelly Sarna, Contributor

From the get-go, Grimm has been compared to Once Upon a Time, but besides featuring popular fairy tales and premiering around the same time, that’s where their similarities end. The show centers around Nick Burkhardt, a Portland cop who one day starts seeing people turn into strange beings. His Aunt Marie comes to town and explains to him that he comes from a long line of Grimms – those that can actually see and hunt the various creatures known as Wesen. With his Aunt dying, Nick is the last Grimm in his family and must continue the lineage of Wesen slaying.

What I love about this show is that they feature many different Grimm fairy-tales, but make them their own, often portrayed much darker than you would imagine. As you watch the series, you learn that each Wesen creature has a name/character traits associated to it. Ex: Monroe the Blutbad, which are basically what we would consider a werewolf.

If you’re a fan of “case/monster of the week” type shows, you’ll love Grimm! With Nick being a cop, he typically comes across a new Wesen individual each episode, especially in the first season. Since the Grimm brothers were German, a lot of the show uses actual German phrases, history, and actually has quite a few story-lines featured in Germany (the 100th episode being one of them).

Even though the show had six seasons, it continued to stay on par and I was truly sad to see this show go. The characters (and their development), the mythology of the Wesen, locations (they actually filmed in Portland, Oregon!), and tone of the show is so incredible and I recommend this show to anyone and everyone. Plus, it’s actually quite a diverse show in terms of featuring people of color, ethnicity, various languages, disabilities, and so on.

With the show recently finished airing its 6th and final season earlier this year, it would be a great series to binge watch! You can find Grimm via iTunes, Amazon, Netflix (DVDs only unfortunately), and currently the last season on the NBC site. There’s also this amazing box set of the complete series.

carmilla posterCarmilla, recommended by Kelly Sarna, Contributor

Where do I even begin to start with Carmilla? I am incredibly disappointed with myself that I didn’t get into this series when it first was released. A modern re-telling of the 1871 novella of the same name, this web-series begins as part of Silas University freshman Laura Hollis’ (Elise Bauman) video diary for journalism class, and turns into so much more. She soon realizes that there are strange goings-on at the school: like girls mysteriously disappearing and re-appearing with no memory of where they were. Not only is Laura’s roommate, Betty, one of these students, she is also replaced by a sarcastic, broody, rebellious type named – you guessed it – Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis). The new roommate is of course not perceived well by Laura.

Being a web-series, each episode is anywhere from 2-15 minutes at most. I believe the series in total is about 5 hours of footage, max? It’s the perfect amount of time/commitment to binge watch! Also, you can view the show completely for free on YouTube! That’s right, all 3 seasons, their prequel mini season, Christmas special, and heaps of other video content the cast have made on the show’s channel: KindaTV.

For all you people seeking amazing LGBTQ+ related shows/films, Carmilla excels at it! I won’t go into detail about this to avoid spoiling anything, but just trust me. If I recall correctly, there are at least 4 characters that are LGBTQ+. If you’re a fan of shows like BuffyAngelSupernatural, etc., you’ll love Carmilla‘s take on vampires and other supernatural creatures. It also has just as much wit and humor as the shows mentioned, too. Also, how can I forget the numerous amount of Harry Potter jokes/references! (I still stand by my theory that the bare bones of Season 3 is very Deathly Hallows-esque). Oh, and Veronica Mars fans, Enrico Colantoni has a minor role in the third season.

Seen the web-series in its entirety but want more? Purchase the recently released Carmilla movie here. The series trailer is below and start binge watching the entire first season here!

babadook pictureThe Babadook, recommended by Tatiana, Contributor

If you’re looking to enjoy a horror story this Halloween that relies more on everyday fears that intermingle with the stuff of nightmares, then I recommend checking out The Babadook (2014) on Netflix. Director and writer Jennifer Kent expands her own previous short film Monster (available here) into a haunting full-length tale about an Australian widow Amelia (Essie Davis) dealing with her own grief as well as her son’s nightmares of a monster living in their home. The trailer showcases a few jump scares and the typical horror film music meant to keep you on the edge of your seat, but the movie itself by and large focuses on atmospheric tension and psychological fear, which is my personal favorite kind.

It was made on a $2 million budget, so of course sometimes the seams show and there isn’t a place for the fancy effects we’re used to nowadays, but in a way that restriction seems to allow The Babadook a freedom not afforded many other movies of its genre. The performers must make the audience believe their fear and experience the same terrors as the characters, which Davis (actually Kent’s classmate from the National Institute of Dramatic Art) is remarkably good at doing. Another great quality of the film is that it allows for multiple readings and interpretations – why does the haunting manifest the way it does, for example? Which causes Amelia more grief: guilt over her husband’s death or her subsequent treatment of her son?

One criticism levied at it is that the ending is a little too pat, perhaps as opposed to other films that leave the evil undefeated or everyone onscreen dead. Or perhaps I am being too harsh, and those complaints merely mean they wanted to leave the movie feeling more disquieted than they did. But for someone like myself, who prefers to purge a film’s scares with some kind of onscreen catharsis, the ending was just what The Babadook needed.

What do you think about our recommendations list? Do you have any you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below.