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I'll bet Mister Rogers never had to put up with this crap.

Those who know me know I have the tendancy to attract unusual neighbours.

Back when I lived in Parkdale, my notable next door neighbour was a gentleman Boy and I referred to as “Porny McWackerson.” Porny was a rather scrawny nebbish looking gentleman (think a very down on his luck Bob Balaban) who had a fairly impressive collection of “adult movies”. We made this discovery about a week before we moved in when we popped by the new place to paint the kitchen/living room. During one of our breaks, a friend who was over helping us scurried over to the kitchen alcove and when she looked down slightly into his solarium like bedroom, caught a glimpse of some rather explicit action on Porny’s television.

“Look!” she exclaimed, casting her pointer finger down at the scene below, “He’s watching a porno!”

To this day, I am not sure whether or not he heard us, but if he did, he was certainly not embarassed by it since the following week, he had stacked another tv on top of his original and was showing X-rated fare on both of them.

By the time we moved out, his corner bedroom window was filled with a Tetris style L of televisions. Once in a while one of the televisions would play something inane like the news or a cooking show, but for the most part, any time we looked out the window, we were met with a wall of pornography, usually of the hardcore transexual variety.

We took solace in that fact that, for the most part, good ol’ Porny had the sense to keep the blinds on the “money shot” window closed, so the pornography was merely wallpaper to our everyday lives. However once in a while, Boy or I would make the mistake of looking up at an inopportune time and get a healthy eyeful of . . . um . . . mature content.

Once we moved away from the mecca of Parkdale filled with its drug dealers, prostitution rings and hipsters, we moved to what we thought was a much nice area. And indeed it has been for the most part. We’ve enjoyed our apartment, we like the neighbourhood and our building is pretty good – for the most part. I’m throwing a bit of a caveat on this because of our long time neighbours, who we lovingly refer to as “The Bitchersons”. I have off-handedly mentioned The Bitchersons before but truth be told, they are the most colourful of our neighbours. Sure, “Drunky Mcsteroids,” the oversized frat boy who would hulk out in his apartment and smash things was interesting, and “Weirdy Olderstein,” the little old lady who lurks in our lobby with a notebook counting the number of  “darkies” that enter the building has her place in our lives, but The Bitchersons have a long and storied history with us, starting soon after we moved into the building.

One night a few months after we moved into the building, we heard fighting coming from next door. It sounded like a man and a woman having an argument, so we thought nothing of it. After all, we have raised our voices while arguing with each other, so we thought to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were having a bad day. However, we soon discovered our assumptions were wrong in that:

1) It was not a man and a woman, but a man and another man with a surprisingly effeminate voice.
2) Every day is a bad day in The Bitcherson household.

In fact, one summer, things got so bad, you could almost set your watch to their fighting. On Friday nights, we would come home from work to the sound of a gay club anthem blaring on their stereo*. An hour or so later, they would start drinking/doing drugs. Approximately 2 hours after that, everything would go to hell. There would be screaming and smashing and crying and door slamming the likes of which we had never heard before.

It was epic.

And truth be told, at first, we were kind of amused. I mean it was like our own Friday night reality tv show right next door – like Melrose Place, but if everyone were gay and doing speed. But these days . . . we are both officially over it and have realized that in spite of the multiple warnings by our tenant’s association, they continue to ignore the fact that they share a living space with other people and just generally act like drama queen dickbags.

So this morning, I composed a little letter to them that I am posting below:

“March 2, 2011

 To “the actors” of the second floor,

Having long been a patron of this building’s “Pissy Gay Couple Theatre,” I had some notes about last night’s show.

While I genuinely appreciate the artistry that goes into your impromptu late night performances of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I have to wonder if your hearts are really in it anymore. I mean sure, there’s still screaming and stomping and door-slamming, but I have to say, I miss the dramatic revelations from days of yore. I mean learning that**:

1)      One of you is no longer in possession of his own teeth,

2)      One of you is addicted to drugs,

3)      One of you is into “twinks,”

4)      One of you is small “down there,”

5)      One of you is the proud owner of a criminal record,

6)      One of you is the victim of prison rape,

really added something amazingly dramatic to the proceedings. Now, I know that you’re trying to mix it up. Putting larger gaps between performances to stay fresh and occasionally getting a spirited assist from supporting characters like Scared Old Lady Walking Her Poodle or Angry Downwind Neighbour #1 probably does add a certain spice for you. However, as an outside observer, at the end of the day, it all just feels a bit flat and soap opera-like, you know?

So I have a suggestion that I think will help – take the show on the road! Not only would the change of scenery help you both stretch your acting muscles but then perhaps the rest of us will finally be able to get some freaking sleep.

Love,

Your captive audience-who are currently paying way too much in “ticket fees” for this shit

(a.k.a. the rest of the second-and possibly part of the third-floor)”

I’ve already reported them to the tenat’s association again for waking me up at 3:30 this morning with their bellowing***, and I haven’t actually done anything more with this letter than enjoy it in a secret cathartic way, but part of me really wants to stuff it through their mail slot or hang it by the elevator since I know I am not the only one who is sick to death of them. However, I wonder if that might be a little too passive aggressive? After all, just because they are poorly behaved doesn’t mean I have to be, right?

What do you think, blog readers? What would you do faced with a situation like this and what have you done in the past when faced with lousy neighbours?

* I know this sounds like I am exaggerating and making fun of the fact that they are gay by pretending like they are walking cliche homosexuals, but I swear that I am not. These boys seriously have a major hard-on for Cher and Donna Summer.
** I would also like to point out that these things were not learned through actively eavesdropping but because they were both yelling them at each other for anyone to hear.
*** I heard back from the tenant’s association this morning and they told me that should The Bitchersons act out any time in the next 5-7 days, we should report it and they will hold a meeting to work out how to evict them as they are already facing multiple complaints from other tenants on our floor. However, if they get through the week without fighting, they will be given a 6 month reprieve for good behaviour. I don’t really understand how their taking a week off from being childish morons means that everyone else on our floor has to pay for it for half a year, but I guess that’s renting for you. While I feel annoyed on our behalf, I actually feel worse for the young couple that live across the hall from them since they have a fairly young baby. Can you imagine being that sleep deprived and having to deal with assholes like that on top of it? Bah!

Hi guys,

It’s been a while since we’ve been in touch since I have been happily living at my current apartment since 2007. However, as the rent on my place is going to increase at the end of the summer, making it no longer worth the sum I’d be paying for it, it looks like we’re going to get reacquainted and fast. So, to make this transition easier, I’m putting out some general guidelines to make things happier for everyone. Ready? Okay.

1. If you’re posting an ad online, put up some pictures. I am sure your masterful words can conjure a magnificent mental image, but unfortunately, I’m more of a realist when it comes to real estate. I am not going to drag my butt across the city for a hypothetical apartment, only to be sorely disappointed. I want concrete proof that the place you’re offering me has something to offer.

2. When you post the pictures, please make sure that they:
i. are in focus/aren’t distorted by resizing. They shouldn’t be blurry and if you’ve got to make the picture smaller or larger for any reason, make sure you’re scaling the image correctly. There are far too many anoxeric hallways and bloated looking breakfast bars on the internet.
ii. are of multiple rooms of the apartment. Way too many times, people will post five shots of the same room from different angles. Not helpful and makes me think you’re hiding some Buffalo Bill style pit room if I can’t see everything.
iii. are of the rooms at large and not just of random bits of architecture. I am sure your radiators and baseboards are nice, but I want to be able to figure out what the space looks like as a whole.
iv. do not show the apartment you’re trying to get tenants for as dirty. Clean it up and then take pictures.

3. Don’t lie about your location. Scarborough is not Upper Beaches. Etobicoke is not Bloor West Village. Mississauga is not Toronto.

4. Don’t overvalue your apartment. A 800 square foot two bedroom in Cracktown is not worth $1500 a month.

5. A 20-25 minute walk isn’t “steps from the subway”.

6. We all know cozy means small at this point, so can we stop with the cutesiness of the word? Anyone who’s ever set foot in an apartment in Toronto can tell from pictures whether or not something is a decent size, and for everyone else . . . well, truth be told, you’re hurting your prospects by calling attention to it. Would a guy write a personal ad referring to his manparts as “cozy”? I don’t think so. Let the uninitiated figure out for themselves whether or not they’re into what you have to offer.

7. Don’t mention there being a fireplace in your ad if it doesn’t actually work. I don’t want to get all jazzed up about a mantle.

8. Don’t mark it as utilities included and then make all sorts of exceptions.

9. A rusty fire escape is not a balcony.

10. Say basement when you mean basement, not “lower level”.

Also, just as a sidenote, I don’t need you to hard sell me on the apartment or trying to guilt/pressure me into filling out an application. It’s a major turn off and will make me want to run screaming in the opposite direction. If I think it’s a good fit, I will ask you to sign on the dotted line.

I think that’s everything. I look forward to the hunt ahead and I hope to find something that works for all of us.

Much love,

Girl

P.S. Other renters might comment below. They have valid things to say, so you might want to take heed of their suggestions as well.

(I could also call this “$h!t that I bought” but since I started talking about my waredrobe update under the operation title, I guess I will stick with that.)

My lovely friend Maya has been posting little pictorial updates about her waredrobe over at her awesome little blog Kinzie Says recently and it reminded me that I hadn’t updated about my ongoing operation to improve my style in a while. In general, things have been going well . . . although I will cop to the fact that I have been sick this week so my outfits of late have consisted of:

1) My flannel Chinese takeout pajama pants.
2) A variety of unflattering sweaters.
3) My bathrobe.

But a week or so ago, when the weather forecast predicted we would be hit by “Snowmaggedeon”, I ended up doing some online shopping out of boredom and I snagged myself some good deals. My criteria for the purchases*:

1) They had to be pieces I could mix and match.
2) They had to primarily be things I could wear to work.
3) They had to be look different from things I already owned. No more blue v neck sweaters!

So, since I like to geek out over other people’s clothes, I am posting some pics of the stuff I bought here.

1)

The Teal Boat Neck Sweater

I kind of liked that this was a little retro looking and that the collar had a little detailing to it. Paired with a sharp little pencil skirt, it could look very Joan Holloway.

2)

The Olive Coloured Houndstooth Shirt

I actually enjoyed the olive colour and the fact that it would look sharp with a pair of black trousers.

3)

The Blue Open Shoulder V Neck

I’ve never actually owned anything with open shoulders before, but it’s a cute little detail that sold me on a shirt I might otherwise have skipped over.

4)

The Pink Flutter Sleeve Shirt

Admittedly, this shirt looks a bit like the Olive shirt above (empire waist band!) but I own maybe one pink thing in my entire waredrobe so I thought it was time to bulk up my girliness a little bit. Plus, the back has a little keyhole cut out which is pretty cute.

5)

The Green Geometric Blouse

I like green but I don’t often wear it so I was attracted to this shirt. Plus, I am so pale, wearing chartreuse makes me look sick so having the other colours in the shirt could help lessen the sickly effect and make a problem colour more wearable.

6)

The Blue Braided Dress

Sadly this dress did not come with the dog, but I thought it’s casual style was kind of cute and am interested to see how it will look pair with a mini-blazer or something to perk it up a little bit.

The most awesome thing about my online shopping hunt however was how frugal I managed to be  – under $180 including taxes and shipping! As my monthly fun money budget is about $200, it was definitely nice to infuse my waredrobe with some new stuff without breaking the bank.

I haven’t taken pictures of myself in these items because I have been so gross looking – there is nothing hotter than a girl with bedhead and a runny nose – but I’m hoping to next week to compare and contrast how they look on as opposed to online. Also, I’m hoping that some of you smarties out there will give me som accessorizing ideas.

Anyway, for all you well-dressed ladies and fellas out there (assuming I haven’t driven you off with my clothing nerdery), what are some great purchases** you’ve made lately and or what have you done to spice up you waredrobe lately?

*I did not buy pants because my inseam is an atypical 36 inches and I did not buy skirts because I find the fit of them varies dramatically depending on the cut. For some reason, I can be anywhere from a size 4 to a size 12. Go figure!

**Just to let you know I haven’t totally abandoned my nerdiness to become a professional clothes horse, this weekend, I also bought a “Peach Nouveau” shirt from Teefury and I am very excited about it. Probably not work appropriate, but totally awesome.

There is also a Zelda one, but I will forever be a Mario girl.

Good Music: Air Waves

“I’m alive, I’m on fire, for the first time in my life . . . “

The adorable jangliness of this song (which is called Knock Out) make me happy every time I hear it. One of of my favourites from last year indeed.

I don’t know who put this online or who is in the picture in the video, but I am happy I can share it. Enjoy!

My life these days seems to have a fair number of children in it. Many of my girlfriends had babies last year (I believe the final total was 16) so I am often buying baby gifts. I spent a fair bit of time with my niece and this weekend in fact, Boy and I are babysitting as some friends of ours (who have three kids, ages 4 to 10) sneak off for a romantic weekend sans brood.

While I used to babysit hardcore in high school – I even took the babysitting course through our local community centre – I actually went through a long child-free period in my early twenties and am now adapting to the whole experience of dealing with children who are less like peers and more like progeny. Your realms of interest and knowledge become less entertwined and you realize that a lot of your references are lost on people of another generation. In fact, the more time that passes, the more you become accutely aware that you’re going to have to explain a lot of the things you love or that were cultural touchstones when you were growing up. Cartoons, movies, games, toys etc. that you just take for granted as being a part of your life are completely unknown entities to someone who is 4 or 8 or even 10.

As people who are currently child-free, one of the things we often discuss with our clan-laiden friends are how and when to introduce bits of pop culture nerdery to children. Over the course of these conversations, a major topic of contention is Star Wars. There are three schools of thought here:

1) “The Chronies”: People who have championed the idea of showing them in chronological order (1,2,3,4,5,6) because that progression works from bad to good.
2) “The Retroists”: People who say you start old and go new (4,5,6,1,2,3) because that was the way we experienced them.
3) “The Classicals”: People who will under no circumstances show their children the new triology and will aggressively deny the existance of 1,2, and 3.

While we haven’t worked out our own Star Wars strategy yet, we’ve definitely discussed the random bits of nerdery we definitely want to introduce our future spawn. Some things that we love that we want the next generation to love too:

1. Lego/Playmobil: Boy is in Camp Lego and I am in Camp Playmobil. Tying into the Star Wars issue, Boy has an incredibly large collection of Star Wars Lego that he keeps in a glass display case in our apartment and he is exceptionally proud of the fact he has collected many Star Wars minifigs. None of this eBay crap for him! He got those five stormtroopers piece by freaking piece, people! As for me, I have a very large collection of those Victorian Playmobil that is currently being stored at my parents house which is pretty much in mint condition. Though I did not actively play with it, in high school on the ocassional sick day, I would sometimes pull all of it out and set it up to look at it in a nerdy, completist sort of way. It is a weird dream of ours that our children will sort of mesh the two and build a giant lego tower which will be the site of a fight involving Playmobile Dinosaurs and Gladiators.

Too awesome not to post - Playmobil Beatles!

2. Old School Monopoly: None of that crap with debit cards or fancy fake properties. We’re going to plan it with paper money and screw our friends up by building hotels on Park Place. Oh, and I’m going to be the little Scottie dog, thanks!

Whoever came up with this doesn't understand that half the fun of Monopoly is subtly cheating with the paper money!

3. Early Simpsons Episodes: I am good with The Simpsons up to about Season 8 as I think the Hank Scorpio episode was that season. Beyond that, I just don’t care. The longer that the show has been on, the more rambling it’s gotten, the less it’s focused on the core family dynamic and the more deviation from canon there has been. In my mind, Homer and Marge got together in the 1970s after her crappy prom date with Arnie Ziff, not in the 1990s when they lived in a Melrose Place-esqe apartment building and Homer fronted a grunge band. The only grunge references allowed are when Homer tours with Lollapalooza as part of their freak show!

Boy and I often jokingly reference "The Hammock District."

4. The Muppets: One of Boy’s favourite movies is The Muppet Christmas Carol and I have grown to love it as well. We have all the old Muppet movies and we hope that our kids find them charming too. (But Muppets in Space can be forgotten. Sorry Gonzo!)

This is what Christmas is all about - adorable Muppets!

5. Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Making fun of things is one of our favourite things so Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is right up our alley. I’m not sure if our kids are going to be raised in the church of Joel (Boy) or Mike (Me), but it will be an interesting battle.

Boy likes Joel's dry wit and I like Mike's sheer wackiness.

6.The Hunger Games Books: I am a meganerd for these books. In fact, I have a little nerdy token that I wear pinned to my winter coat to show my love of the Suzanne Collins books. I like that they’re so action packed. I like that the main character is a strong girl. I like that neither of the love interests is an obvious dick. Very eager to share them with kids.

If you haven't read these, you are missing out. So much fun.

7. The Terry Prachett Discworld Series: Want to know a secret? The name Boy and I have picked out for if we have a boy some day is partially stolen from a Discworld book. I have only read a handful of his books – maybe 6 – but they really make me laugh and I love pouring over the language of them. The way Prachett can turn a phrase is a thing of beauty.

Librarians say "Ook!"

8. Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High: I specify because I do not care for Degrassi: TNG. As far as I am concerned, Degrassi is all about Spike, Caitlyn, Wheels, Snake, Lucy and a little behatted devil-may-care rapscallion by the name of Joey Jeremiah. I love how the episodes such a time capsule of their era and I love how stripped down everything looks, which is probably my biggest complaint about the new series. Childhood/teenage years are often pretty messy and I like that they have such a straight forward, non-glossy attitude about them. Super watchable.

How adorably retro!

9. Retro Kids Movies: I didn’t want to do separate list items for all of them, so I am lumping them all together. The Sandlot, Return to Oz, The Wizard, The Goonies, Labrynth, Troop Beverly Hills, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Ghostbusters, E.T., and The Princess Bride will all be watched  with reverence.

I watched this a while ago, and it's still kind of great. "The kid is an L7 weenie!"

10. Cthulhu/Conan: Boy is really obsessed with the writing of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, so he wants to introduce whatever kids we have to their stuff. I am not quite sure how it’s not going to be total nightmare fuel, but I at least have some ideas about good things to start them with . . .

A Children's Book based on some of Lovecraft's Mythology. Because that needs to exist.

So bloggerinos, what kind of things can’t you wait to introduce your offspring/extended family/friends kids to? Let me in on your nerdy childhood obsessions!

P.S. Also, if you haven’t seen this, it needs to be watched. What kid didn’t try to use the force after seeing Star Wars for the first time?

Judd Nelson - He was harsh.

This is probably what my blog would say to me if my blog had a voice. Don’t you forget about me. Remember the good times? The posting multiple times a day with general randomness? Can’t we have that again?

And the truth is, we could, I am just lazy when it comes to updating.

So what has happened since October? Many, many things. One of the biggest things was that Boy’s grandmother passed away at the end of October.

We had known it was coming, but it still really sucked for everyone since she was the Matriarch of the family and it was a loss that resonanted through his family. Boy’s grandmother had been having mental issues since before we got together – Alzhemeir’s – so by the time we were a couple, she would spend large stretches of time not particularly lucid. In fact, there were only a handful of times I can recall that we spoke and she seemed aware of what was happening. Happily enough, one of those lucid times was an occasion where I got to show her our wedding album and that was good. She had been too sick to come to our wedding, but regailing her with stories and hearing her talk about her life was pretty cool. 

Anyway, her passing struck a strange cord with me because I realized that I had never really gotten to know her that well and now that she was gone, I never really would. It’s a weird feeling when you lose someone like that – of course you miss them, but you also miss the potential of them – all the great stories and experiences you could have had with them. 

Grandma holding Abbey. Could she have looked any prouder? 🙂

Her passing also hit me pretty hard because the day of her funeral was the 1 year anniversary of my cousin Tassy’s death, which I still sometimes feel emotional about. Our friends Jack and Sally finally finished editing our wedding video a little while ago, and when I watched it and saw Tassy hugging me and us talking together, I had to make Boy stop the DVD so I could erupt in tears. Even sitting here, typing this, I feel misty about it all over again. Four people lost in one year. Definitely not an ideal 12 months, let me tell you.

On the social front, the last few months of the year were pretty good. Over the last year, Boy and I made a decision to start making more of an effort to meet people, so we ended up making a lot of really good friends. It’s funny, I think as you get older, you oftentimes develop this attitude that you can’t just be friendly and extend hang out invitations to people. But you totally can! In fact, doing so led me to:

1. Try fondue.
2. Have Mexican Thanksgiving.
3. Get superdrunk on gin martinis.
4. Attend a giant bonfire on Toronto Island.
5. See a fire show.
6. Attend my first cabaret/burlesque show.
7. Build a giant birdcage.
8. Attend multiple Christmas parties.
9. Throw crazy theme parties.
10. Play D&D for the first time. (Yes, I know this is supremely nerdy, but some new friends of ours who host a nerd podcast convinced us to as an experiment and it was pretty funny.)

And how can you not love that? Making a bunch of new friends and trying a bunch of new stuff is only ever awesome. It’s what keeps life from being monotonous in the face of boring things like work.

Speaking of work, the bosses decided that my department was overpopulated with two people, so they didn’t renew my awesome co-worker’s contract and now, my department is just me. I’m not really sure why this became an issue now, considering that when I started, our department had three people in it, but they made some weird Highlander-eqse decision and now there can be only one! coordinator. I’m going to see how it goes for the next little while, but truth be told, I am starting to think about my options and looking into another position somewhere else. Considering I am now expected to fill the void of two coworkers, I’m not particularly impressed with the situation and in spite of the glowing praise I received in my last evaluation, I don’t think kind words are enough to make up for the fact that I’m poorly paid. I mean, I know it’s not all about money, but I have friends that are administrative assistants that make more than I do as a supervisor so that kind of sucks. If only I could find a job that allowed me to snark on movies all day, I would be set!

And ’cause this post is rapidly turning into a hodgepodge of information, here is a bunch of other random stuff – punctuated with exclaimation marks!

1) My childhood best friend Snuffy is getting married! He and his girlfriend are planning a June wedding in Edmonton so we will be flying out and celebrating with them. I am excited for them and so happy that he’s found someone that makes him happy and sees him for the terrific person he is.

Snuffy and his fiancee. Aren't they adorable?

2) I got a brand new DSLR camera for Christmas! Not only did I get a great deal on the camera, I got an additional lens the normally retails for $280 for $50! I am a kickass shopper sometimes! Anyway, I am just learning to use it so I’m still working things out, but I’ve taken a few pictures already that I am really happy with, so things can only get better.

One of the pictures I took my first trip out with the new camera. I kind of wish that was my dog. He was so cute.

3) I am going to New York in April! I absolutely love New York and my parents were nice enough to offer to bring me with them free of charge (Boy is staying at home and working). Not only am I psyched about the fact that I get to rock it up in The Big Apple again (the last time I went was 2007), but it will be an awesome visit for me. For those of you who don’t know, back when I was engaged/newly married, I wrote for a website called Weddingbee which was awesome because I made some great girlfriends through it. I ended up leaving the site*, but have kept in touch with many of the girls since, and so while I am there, I am hopefully going to get to meet many of my close online friends for the first time in person! Hooray!

4) I am going to Paris in October! I have never been to Europe, so this is kind of huge. Again, through the kindness of Boy’s father and stepmother who are springing for our plane tickets, we are getting to have a romantic week for two in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Not only can I not wait to hit the road again (I have been so desperate to travel these past few tripless years), but doing a trip like this with Boy will be amazing. I love him so much and after everything we went through last year (we had actually been talking about a trip to Paris the week before he got laid off), being able to walk down the Champs Elysees holding his hand will pretty much be the best thing ever.

5) I am going to be babysitting my niece Abbey in June! My in-laws have a weird month stretch of my sister-in-law’s maternity leave being over and my brother-in-law not quite being done school yet, so I am going to take a couple of vacation days to go hang out with and look after her. As she is incredibly awesome and adorable (and pretty much always makes my uterus skip a beat), I am sure we are going to have a great time.

Yeah, so my niece is adorable. If my kids are half as cute, I am totally on board.

Anyway, I think that is everything important I can think of. I will try to stay on this blogging bandwagon a little more during this month and the months to come.

Hope everyone is enjoying 2011 so far!

Love,
Girl

 *Just after I got married, the site was taken over by eHarmony and I decided I didn’t feel comfortable writing for a website that had ties to the Christian Right/Anti-Gay groups. My man of honour was gay as were about 10 per cent of our guests, so it seemed kind of like a slap in the face to them and I quit. Funnily enough, some years later, after eHarmony was sued for discrimination against the LGBT community and forced to create a gay-friendly sister site, my man of honour signed up for it and met a man who later became his husband. Go figure!

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get your spook on. But who wants to watch Halloween for the 75th time? Maybe it’s time to try something a little different. So, with that in mind, I came up with a list of some of my favourite off-beat horror movies. They are flicks that you might not be aware of and a lot of them are foreign* (so you can pretend you’re uber-continental when you talk about them with your friends). I’ve done my best to include descriptions and trailers below, so check ’em out and see if you might be able to find a new holiday favourite!

1. Silver Bullet
Genre: Werewolf
Notable Stars: Corey Haim, Megan Follows, Gary Busey.
What It’s About: Corey Haim and Megan Follows are a precocious brother and sister growing up in an idyllic little town . . . until mutilated corpses start showing up. Will they be able to uncover the truth about these deaths and discover who is responsible?
Why You Might Like It: Corey Haim has an epic chase scene on a motorized wheelchair! Gary Busey harnesses his inner survivalist loon and helps the children devise werewolf traps! Anne of Green Gables does something other than pine for Gilbert Blythe! Awesome!
Trailer? Yes.
 

2. Night of the Comet
Genre: Zombie/Apocalypse
Notable Stars: Bunch of random people, but the most notable is Mary Woronov.
What It’s About: A comet crashes into the Earth and destroys almost everything except two valley girls who are left to fight LA’s remaining zombified population.
Why You Might Like It: Who doesn’t want to see a cheerleader fight zombies? Also, the one liners are pretty great. “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis!”
Trailer?: Yes.


3. The Convent
Genre: Zombie/Possession
Notable Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Coolio.
What It’s About: College students break into an abandoned nunnery and become possessed by demonic spirits.
Why You Might Like It: It has a Leslie Gore soundtrack! Adrienne Barbeau is awesome! There are day-glo monster nuns!
Trailer?:  Yes.

4. Dance of the Dead
Genre: Zombie
Notable Stars: None.
What It’s About: Zombies invade a small town on the night of the high school prom.
Why You Might Like It: People slash up zombies in prom dresses! A rock band keeps a horde of the undead at bay by playing music! Hormonally charged zombie makeouts!
Trailer?: Yes.


5. Eyes Without A Face
Genre: Mad Scientist
Notable Stars: A bunch of French people!
What It’s About: A crazy doctor kidnaps girls so that he might use them to fix his daughter’s disfigured face.
Why You Might Like It: It’s a slow burner, but it’s actually really beautifully shot. The music and the cinematography make it very haunting to watch.
Trailer?: Yes.

6. Phenomena
Genre: Creepy Crawlies/Psychotic Killer
Notable Stars: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasance.
What It’s About: A young girl can communicate with bugs and uses her ability to help solve a murder.
Why You Might Like It: I have written about this one before and the thing about it is that it is truly insane. Bug talking! Monkey nurses! Psychotic pig face boys! It really has to be seen to be believed.
Trailer?: Yes.

7. Brotherhood of the Wolf
Genre: Werewolf
Notable Stars: Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci
What It’s About: A noble man and his Indian sidekick team up to investigate the killings of mysterious beast in 18th century France.
Why You Might Like It: It’s like a period piece monster whodunit! Plus, the Indian dude knows kung fu and Monica Bellucci has heaving bosoms**!
Trailer?: Yes .

8. The Happiness of the Katakuris
Genre: Haunted House/ Zombie/Musical (This one is really hard to define)
Notable Stars: A bunch of Japanese people!
What It’s About: A scrappy little Japanese family buys a run down hotel near Mount Fuji with the idea they will turn it into a thriving bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, all their guests start dying.
Why You Might Like It: This movie has everything. There is singing. There is dancing. There are puppets. There are zombies. Basically, the whole thing is insanely surreal and deserves to be watched.
Trailer?: Yes.

9. Strait-Jacket
Genre: Axe murderer (literally)
Notable Stars: Joan Crawford, George Kennedy.
What It’s About: Years and years ago, Joan Crawford killed her husband and his lover with an axe. Now she’s out of the insane asylum and cured . . . or is she?
Why You Might Like It: Joan Crawford wears jangly bracelets and shouts! Greasy looking George Kennedy gets killed! Hammy looking axe murders!
Trailer?: Yes.

10. Dog Soldiers
Genre: Werewolf
Notable Stars: Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee.
What It’s About:  A bunch of army dudes get dropped in the Scottish Highlands for a training exercise, but they are not alone.
Why You Might Like It: Do you need a reason beyond army dudes fight werewolves? Because if you do, I don’t think we can be friends.
Trailer?: Yes.

11. Night of the Living Dorks
Genre: High School/Zombie/Teenage Sex Romp
Notable Stars: A bunch of German people!
What It’s About: A group of nerdy high school friends perform a voodoo ritual and then die in a car crash . . . but they don’t exactly die.
Why You Might Like It: It’s kind of a cross between American Pie and Night of the Living Dead. Also, watching the nerdy dudes in high school take back their power with superhuman strength is kind of awesome. Take that, stupid bullies!
Trailer? Yes.

12. The Devil’s Backbone
Genre: Ghost
Notable Stars: A bunch of Spanish people! (It was, however, directed by Guillermo Del Toro who did Pan’s Labyrinth some years later. I think this is better!)
What It’s About: A young boy comes of age at a haunted orphanage after the Spanish Civil War.
Why You Might Like It: It is subtle but spooky as hell! Just the right kind of ghost story.
Trailer?: Yes.

13. Let The Right One In
Genre: Vampire
Notable Stars: A bunch of Swedish people!
What It’s About: A troubled young boy befriends the new girl next door, but little does he know his new friend has a very big secret.
Why You Might Like It: I know they’ve done an American version of this, but do yourself a favour and see the source material. It watches kind of like a bizarre version of My Girl . . . if, say, Thomas Jay hadn’t been killed by bees and instead was Vada’s undead friend.
Trailer?: Yes.

If you don’t like any of those, here are some other movies I enjoy:

–         Return of the Living Dead. My ex introduced me to this and even though we are long done, I still love it.

–         The Thing. Can you believe I just saw this a few months ago? The special effects are still really good and they’re as old as me.

–         Near Dark. *singing* Adrian Pasdar fighting some vampires, one is Bill Paxton, so it won’t end well.

–          Frailty. I cannot believe Matthew McConaughy is in something I like. Go figure.

–          Black Christmas. By which I mean the 1974 version. Do not even talk to me about that crap-ass, cookie baking remaking.

–         Suspiria. To be honest, it was a toss up between this and Phenomena for my list, but I figured more people would have seen Suspiria. Also, I don’t know why, but whenever I see the preview for Black Swan, it reminds me of this movie.

–          Witchboard. This was the very first horror movie I ever saw. I was both intrigued and mildly traumatized to see Patch from Days of Our Lives get his ass kicked by a supernatural entity.

–          Ginger Snaps. I really liked this movie but I hated that they had to milk the concept with sequels. Just let sleeping hormonal werewolf girls lie!

–         Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? I know this is supposed to be scary but the first time I ever saw it, I laughed my ass off. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis trying to outdiva eachother is priceless.

–          The Bad Seed. My mother shares the same name as the villain in this one so she always loved it growing up and she introduced it to me when it was on TV.

–          Army of Darkness/the assorted Evil Dead movies. I would be lying if I said that part of the reason I loved these movies wasn’t because of the musical version. However it does also have Bruce Campbell which is pretty awesome. BRUCIE!

–          28 Days Later. This was one of the first movies that brought zombies back into the spotlight. Also, I think Cillian Murphy should always have a shaved head because he looks much hotter that way.

–          Dead Alive. Zombie baby!

–         The Lost Boys. The Coreys at their finest. Now if only Feldman would stop making direct to video sequels. You’re legitimizing garbage, Corey!

–          Fright Night. Chris Sarandon . . . Mmm . . .

–         Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. A big part of the reason I love this is because of the Dokken theme song. DREEEAAAAMM WARRIORS!

–         Dead Heat. Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo are a zombie/cop team (and it also has a crazy theme song).

–         The Exorcist. It’s still scary but the two failed prequels were awful.

–          Jamie Lee Curtis in pretty much everything. Except the later Halloween movies, because, yuck. Even my mammoth Joseph Gordon Levitt crush can’t keep me from watching H20 without cringing my ass off.

 If you enjoy horror movies and horror movie coverage, I encourage you to check out Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl and Brian Collins over at Horror Movie A Day. They both have good genre taste and will introduce you to even more good stuff.

Also, if you want to add a regular dose of horror to your viewing schedule, AMC (the same station that brought you Mad Men) is premiering The Walking Dead on Sunday. I’ve loved the graphic novel series for years so I am pretty stoked that the show looks so fantastic. Hooray zombies!

What say you, bloggerinos? What are your favourite horror flicks?

*Whenever possible, please do yourself a favour by avoiding horrible dubs and watching in the original language with subtitles. Trust me, it’s much better that way.
**Actually, I am trying to think of a movie where Monica Bellucci doesn’t have heaving bosoms, but I can’t come up with one. Maybe that’s not such a novelty after all!