Post-Halloween Horror Recs: Chilling Tales for Dark Nights & Terrifier 2

A woman screams with her hands in front of her face in Terrifier 2

Our friends over at Horror Obsessive might be proud: Halloween has come and gone, but surely November is just as good a time as any for some horror. The leaves are falling, it’s getting cold outside. On the East Coast of the United States, it’s about to start getting dark at 5pm. Truly terrifying stuff! Anyway, if you’re looking for something to send a chill up your spine and/or for a violent gorefest, we’ve got you covered this week. Tim recommends the podcast Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, particularly the episode “Apparitions of Autumn.” Meanwhile, Hawk is gushing over the delights of Terrifier 2. Meanwhile…

Podcast Recommendation: Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, “Apparations of Autumn”

Tim Glaraton: Halloween may have already come and gone, but thankfully there are plenty of horror-themed podcasts to scratch that itch for something spooky year-round. One of my favorites, Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, just had a particularly juicy episode drop last week called “Apparations of Autumn” featuring adaptions of two sinister stories.

The first one, “The Jack-O-Lantern Men” by The Vesper’s Bell, is an old-school spooky yarn with the warm feel of a campfire tale. It follows a small town being slowly invaded by a bizarre group of so-called “Jack-O-Lantern Men”—essentially snowmen made of jack-o-lanterns—that bring mayhem in their wake. A new one appears each day, all leading up to Halloween…and whatever their ultimate goal is.

The second, “The Girl in the Wall” by PD Williams, is a more vicious, visceral tale, documenting a cross-country move gone wrong when a young couple finds themselves at a strange, practically abandoned roadside motel. When the boyfriend heads out to a local bar for the evening, the girlfriend tries to find something to occupy herself—only to hear the voice of a little girl, seemingly coming from the room next door. But when she breaks through the wall, she finds not a trapped girl, but instead something straight out of a nightmare.

Together, these two stories make for a perfect Halloween or even post-Halloween pairing, one warm and spooky and the other vicious and sinister. Each of them is brilliantly realized by the voice actors and effects team, and it scared the absolute hell out of me when I was listening to the episode on my evening walk—and there’s no higher recommendation than that.

Film Recommendation: Terrifier 2

Hawk Ripjaw: The original Terrifier isn’t much in terms of story, functioning more as a showcase for writer/director Damien Leone’s skillful makeup and effects work and David Howard Thornton’s physical performance as Art the Clown. It establishes Art as a fearsome, indiscriminate killer, quickly picking off potential new protagonists and mostly being his show.

Leone’s sequel takes place a year after the first film, and we get an actual central protagonist this time in Sienna (Lauren LaVera), who finds herself haunted by the spectre of Art as Halloween draws closer. Her late father, plagued by illness, drew Sienna in a sort of Valkyrie armor costume and the inspiration for Sienna’s Halloween costume this year. As Art carves his way across town, Sienna is compelled to go up against him.

Terrifier 2 ups the ante in every single way—most notably, in the gore. Good GOD is this an outrageously violent movie, even moreso than the first. I wish I could have been able to see this in the theater, just for the experience of people audibly responding to the kills. The scene that’s been vaguely hinted at in some of those articles about people fainting in theaters didn’t hit me quite that hard, but my jaw hit the floor at the sequence towards the middle of the film.

Art the Clown wears a pair of silly sunglasses that look like gears, while standing beside a rack of sunglasses, in Terrifier 2

There’s a strong sense of nostalgia for the ’80s aesthetic here, from the set design to the synth-heavy score to the film grain. The whole thing has this sort of dreamlike feel, frequently devolving into a feverish, exploitative nightmare and bizarre dream sequences. Leone leans heavily into the lore potential of this world, not only for Art but for Sienna as well. There’s so much hinted at in terms of what cosmic or supernatural forces drive these characters, but there’s never a sense that Leone isn’t confident in what he plans to reveal in a later installment.

Lauren LaVera absolutely delivers as a Final Girl. Sienna is as resilient as a slasher villain herself, enduring a ridiculous amount of battery as she clashes with Art in their knock-down, drag-out fight at the climax. David Howard Thornton is excellent as Art, continuing to cement himself as a new horror icon. He’s entirely silent, and his performance relies completely on exaggerated facial expressions and movements. Sometimes he’s completely goofing off, and other times he’s literally tearing someone apart—and oftentimes simultaneously. There hasn’t been a horror actor this engagingly animated since Robert Englund, and he is by turns hilarious and horrifying.

Despite some pacing issues and a slightly inflated runtime, there is an honest effort here to carve out a new Halloween mainstay. The practical effects are extremely impressive (even moreso given that this had a 250k budget and around nine crew members), the hints at Art’s lore are interesting, and the savagery in each kill builds and builds to astonishing levels. Splatter fans will be eating well with this one.

Written by TV Obsessive

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