Tag Archives: horror movies

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts

2016.  Many people found 2016 to be a rough year, but I’m thankful that I seem to have emerged reasonably unscathed.  I feel really accomplished because I successfully blogged consistently for a second straight year.  I started this blog way back in 2009 (!) but I only buckled down and got serious with this site in 2015.  I have worked so hard and am proud of how far I’ve come.  My writing, recipe developing and photography skills have all improved and I continue to trouble shoot my own self-hosted website.  Social media is a whole other beast that I’ve had to conquer and continually battle, but I actually find that aspect of blogging really interesting, I just wish there were more hours in a day! When I looked at my analytics for the year, I was happy to see that they have all increased since 2015. I’m so grateful for new and old readers who dropped by my site this year, it’s a daunting web out there with so many blogs and social media avenues, I’m amazed and happy to see when one of my posts does well. These  2016 top food, travel and horror movie posts were the ones all of you kind and inquisitive folk enjoyed the most. 

My top post of 2016 continues to be my review of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding, a post from my first year of blogging. I decided to reshoot this recipe because I cringe when I look back at my first attempt at food photos! I’m hoping my new and improved dairy free version of his sticky toffee pudding does just as well this year.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

I was happy to see these new recipes in the top three food posts for the year:

Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

This year my friend and I expanded our canning repertoire and picked our own cherries. Many hours later we had an array of canned cherry products. I was really please with how these cherry coffee preserves turned out, and I was inspired to pair them with goat cheese on top of a crispy crostini. The result was a delightful bittersweet, creamy, crunchy bite, and made for a festive appetizer over the holidays.

Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

I had been wanting to develop this recipe for awhile, as I loved the flavour combination of tart apple and sweet cornmeal. I still had some apples leftover from apple picking in the fall, so I was happy to finally make these muffins. Packed full of fresh, juicy apples, they made for a tasty high fiber breakfast or a yummy, healthy dessert.

Asian Sesame Sweet Potato & Squash Soup

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Sweet Potato Squash Soup

Asian Sesame Sweet Potato Squash Soup

I love incorporating my Japanese culture into my recipes, and this soup was a perfect example. I wanted to change up the usual butternut squash soup, so I added hints of sesame and topped the soup off with some nori. I also used miso instead of cream which made it lactose-intolerant-friendly for my boyfriend. A creamy, hearty soup that was really popular over the holidays.

As for travel, my big blog project this year was posting my two-week trip to Turkey. These posts took a really long time to put together as I diligently compiled all my thoughts and notes from diaries and photo logs. Many posts from this series did well throughout the year, though it made me sad to reminisce about this amazing trip with all the political turmoil this country has been through recently. I feel lucky we were able to travel to Turkey when we did, as we probably wouldn’t be advised to go there during these unstable times.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Turkey in Two Weeks

How We Toured Turkey in Two Weeks

Speaking of Turkey, my top horror movie post was also Turkish, a hellishly creepy movie called “Baskin”.  I loved the surreal imagery in this film and the political analogies that are implied in regards to police brutality in Turkey. If you like H.P Lovecraft mixed with Dario Argento then this movie is for you!

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts "Baskin" Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

“Baskin” Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

I reviewed this film as part of my “Dinner and A Movie” category and paired this movie with a Turkish breakfast. My boyfriend and I still have a Turkish breakfast every weekend; a little part of Turkey that we brought home with us.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Homemade Turkish breakfast

Homemade Turkish breakfast

So there they are!  My 2016 top food, travel and horror movie posts.  Thank you for visiting and hope to see you in 2017!

What were your top posts of 2016?  Did you accomplish your blogging goals?

Top 5 Horror Movies of 2016

2016 wasn’t the strongest year for horror in my opinion, and there weren’t a lot of movies I was dying to see.  Lots of feature debut directors in my list, it was nice to see some fresh blood!  Despite a lack lustre year, here are my Top 5 Horror Movies of 2016.  Here’s hoping 2017 steps up and delivers some new chills!

The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2. Photo property of New Line Cinema. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

THE CONJURING 2: THE ENFIELD POLTERGEIST
I loved the first Conjuring, and even though I’m just as weary of sequels as the next horror fan, I had a good feeling about this one.  The Conjuring was such a fresh, stylized take on the supernatural subgenre, that I felt James Wan could deliver.  Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as husband and wife paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren.  This time they travel to Brimsdown, England to assist a family who are being haunted by a poltergeist.  The result is another fun romp with the supernatural.
Directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence, The Conjuring)

The Witch

The Witch. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. Fair use.

THE WITCH
Robert Eggers’ highly anticipated debut film that did not disappoint, The Witch takes the age old premise of devil sacrifice to a whole other level.  When a New England Puritan family is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing events, they suspect evil supernatural forces are at play from the surrounding forest.
Directed by Robert Eggers

10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane. Photo property of Paramount Pictures. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Dan Trachtenberg’s directorial debut is a clever thriller about a woman who wakes up from a car accident and finds herself in a bunker with two men who claim the world is no longer safe.  This is a spin off of J.J. Abrams’ 2008 film Cloverfield and the premise is much more interesting.  While the “found footage” style has been overly used in recent horror films, the third person narrative works here.  Also it’s great to see John Goodman back on screen!
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (debut)

The Forest

The Forest. Property of Focus Features. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

THE FOREST
Natalie Dormer (Games of Thrones, The Hunger Games) stars as a twin searching for her better half in the infamous Japanese “suicide forest”.  Survivalist films are always interesting and the premise for this film is particularly creepy.  Dormer brings us into this unsettled world where her character is trapped and being tormented by the unhappy souls who took their lives in these woods.
Directed by Jason Zada (debut)

Don't Breathe

Don’t Breathe. Photo property of Ghost House Pictures. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

DON’T BREATHE
I was quite impressed with Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead remake and was curious to see what else he could do. This slasher film, about a bunch of teens who mess with a blind man with devastating results is just as fun and bloody.
Directed by Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead)

A Violent Fear: How Audition Is Progressive for Horror Cinema

Graphic Sexual Horror was a documentary I watched a couple of years ago at the Hot Docs festival, and the film was a very intense experience to say the least.  The film documents the beginnings of the Insex website that started the live bondage feed and was directed by Barbara Bell and Anna Lorentzon, two women who used to work for Insex.  The women all lived together in a house and were the stars of live feeds which featured extreme bondage and sadomasochistic situations .  In the beginning of the documentary I was actually fascinated by the bondage – they were like erotic pieces of art.  However, as the documentary progressed, the darker side of this world arose.  The women interviewed said that although they were all willing participants, because they were being filmed live, there was a certain standard to live up to.  If the women held up their “no” signal during a live feed, they were directly or indirectly shunned and most likely would not get called back.  So they were placed in a position where they felt that they shouldn’t resist or say no to anything.  Obviously, as a woman, this is greatly disturbing to me.  I feel as though the moment that you link sex with violence and power, you’re contributing to the problem.  Despite participants or owners claiming that everyone is there voluntarily, you must accept a certain responsibility that you are participating in a culture that is difficult to control – especially in this circumstance; a live internet feed, where anyone could be watching.  You are feeding the need, and with this need comes powerful people who also crave that need and will do anything to fulfill it.  There is a reason why sex trafficking is the highest profiting underground trade over weapons and drugs, and the hardest to monitor and prosecute.  I’ve worked on sex trafficking documentaries, transcribing hours of horrific stories by sex trade victims.  My final thesis analyzed hard core pornography, slasher films and the effects on women.   Connecting the violence against women and sex was not difficult at all and a terrifying and a sickly fascinating topic that disturbs me to no end.   I would say that violence against women is probably my greatest fear.

So why then, one would ask, would I go see a documentary called “Graphic Sexual Horror”?  Why am I such a big fan of horror movies when they largely focus on linking sex and violence against woman?    The reason is that because this is my greatest fear, I have a need to face it.  To face my fear is to explore where it comes from in society and understand what one is up against.  The fascinating aspect about all genres of horror is the commentary they make on our culture.  The root theory that can be applied to all horror films is: whatever the “bourgeois” society represses – The Other, comes back as the monster.  Even the shittiest horror film can still have some resonance and contribute to the genre.  Sexuality, consumerism, family, religion – these are all common “Other” themes that when examined, reveal a certain cultural identity, especially when one considers the era in which they were produced.  This is why horror films really spark an interest for me; for they are a historical commentary on society.

The evolution of the the woman’s role in horror  is also another very interesting aspect to analyze within the genre.  Once the monster in a horror film is determined, the corresponding relationship is with the female and the way her gaze is portrayed, for this links the woman to the monster.  This is why “Psycho” broke down so many barriers.  Not only did it bring the monster into society’s home, but it also spurred the beginnings of the horror genre by breaking down the barrier between the screen and the audience with the female gaze.  By featuring a close up reaction shot of Janet Leigh screaming in the shower, the male viewer is allowed to be in the voyeuristic position of the monster.  She is positioned through the male gaze as an object to be surveyed and eroticized before being killed, linking sex and violence and projecting this connection through the screen onto the male voyeur.  Through her gaze, the monster experiences “castration anxiety” for he sees a mutilated version of his own body and ultimately punishes the woman for being sexual and for holding the power of the gaze.  When the female is being punished, the release of this tension within the male viewer gives him sadistic pleasure.

Over the years, females have slowly started to gain power in the horror genre as “the gaze” has evolved.  Though many slasher films seem to only be an excuse to kill off scantily clad women, they can also turn into a statement of empowerment.  The rape/revenge film “I Spit On Her Grave” being one of the first slasher films to reverse this power, for the female victim turned heroine literally castrates her attackers.  Asian cinema is one of the worst offenders for violence against women, the violence in their horror films almost an endless indulgence directed at the female sex.  But in recent years Asian cinema has released equally powerful role reversing films, transcending the violent subculture they became famous for.

Audition

Audition

One of the best examples of progressive Asian cinema is the film “Audition” by Takashi Miike – one of Japan’s most controversial “fucked up” directors – producing many mind bending masterpieces.  “Audition” starts off simple enough: a widowed rich businessman Shigeharu Aoyama, is convinced by his partner that a good scheme to meet a new wife would be to hold a fake audition for a movie, and call back any women who attract his attention.  He is immediately taken in by ex-ballerina Yamazaki Asami.  He calls her and they start dating but he slowly discovers that she is not who she seems and a dark, abused past begins to emerge.  Turns out for all her elegance and beauty she is equally as deadly.  In one of the best disturbing scenes, we see her waiting for Aoyama’s phone call, sitting in an empty room with a phone and a large burlap bag.  Suddenly the bag jolts and gurgles.  It’s a dismembered man, her pet now, dependent on her vomit to keep him alive.  While Aoyama investigates Asami, Asami also discovers that Aoyama had a wife and also has a son.  This is unacceptable to her because he will never be able to love only her.  She drugs him and slowly proceeds to torture him using some kind of messed up acupuncture.  He has betrayed her  and he must understand the feeling to need someone.  “Words cause lies, pain can be trusted” she sweetly tells him, and than hacks off his feet with a wire saw.  The movie ends with Aoyama’s son interrupting the torture session, kicking Asami down a flight of stairs and breaking her neck.  Both Aoyama and Asami lie on the floor facing each other as Asami mutters how she is excited to see him again.

Audition

Audition

Asami embodies all the qualities of the post-horror female victim turned heroine.  Though initially she seems to be a typical passive model of Japanese femininity, Asami is revealed to be a much stronger, dangerous force.

Audition

Asami - Audition

She is actually the one with all the power, wreaking vengeance on any one who seeks to objectify or exploit her.  Asami embodies the Other – as the monster, she also holds the power of the gaze, punishing the man for gazing upon her, but also retaining her femininity without sliding into a dominant masculine role.  She performs the torture sequence with elegance, in an apron, sticking the needles in a very dainty fashion and choosing to “castrate” her victim by sawing off his feet – instead of his penis – so that they can no longer “walk all over her”.  Previous victims have also lost their tongue, ear and fingers – the ability to speak, “hear” or touch.  Unlike the dominant male in a typical horror film who tortures for pleasure, her goal is more internal, an emotional need at her core, and is not sexual in any way.  She experiences a certain “castration anxiety” by sharing the gaze with Aoyama, and acknowledges his lack of dependency on her as a reason for punishment.  Asami is an incredibly powerful female character because of this completely separate need and the way she goes about achieving her goal, and she holds her gaze right up to her death.  She is the reason why “Audition” plays such an important role in horror film culture, the tables are completely turned and the roles are reversed yet without Asami sacrificing her femininity – she continues to play a female role until the end.  It is interesting to note that I don’t particularly find this film hard to watch, but that both notable horror directors John Landis and Rob Zombie found the film very difficult to watch.  Not that I necessarily enjoy male torture scenes, but I think this goes to show how effective the role reversal was in this film.   Usually in a typical slasher film,  when the “Final Girl” kills the monster at the end, she stabs or shoots them, and although she appears to be in a role of power she is still embodying male characteristics to do so, leaving the female viewer ultimately unsatisfied.

Audition

Asami - Audition

Asami is a refreshing example of a new kind of Final Girl, for she is beautiful but does not punish others for her sexual needs as her revenge is based on an emotional attack, not sexual.  She alone is in control of all her actions from the very start of the movie, and neither loses nor gains anyone around her.  Audition is a very good example of how my fear is being conquered in a progressive way, and a reflection of how the female role is changing within the horror genre, and hopefully continues to evolve in our society as well.

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