Masters of Horror: The Washingtonians

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: Peter Medak (The Changeling, Species II)

Evil Category: old white people with bad teeth

Score: one out of five really bad childhood car songs

The summary for this sounds really neat. But let me share with you this line from the opening family scene: “Oh my. Look at the mess that you’re making. When did my princes turn into such a little slob, huh? Just like her daddy!” You never realize how difficult acting is until you see really bad acting. The idea that if you found a scroll you thought was written by George Washington, and you didn’t immediately take it to an appraiser is absurd. This episode is about a family who moves into their grandparent’s house, and discovers the friend old folk in the town are bunch of cannibals who like to dress up and act like George Washington. This episode really proves that this is just Goosebumps for adults.

Annabelle: Creation

Score: 6.5/10*

Length: 109

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, toys, prequel, devil, ghost

Waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the first one. Probably to do with the director, David F. Sandberg, who also did Lights Out. There are a few upcoming directors I’m following, and this guy might add himself to my list. The screenplay is by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle and the upcoming It and The Nun) and of course, it’s produced by James Wan. I don’t usually discuss the people behind the movie, but this is a real winning combination of horror minds. Lulu Wilson also stood out to me- I remembered her from Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Deliver Us from Evil. I hope she continues with the horror genre. So this one stuck with the demon/ ghost girl/ doll theme pretty well, although three things is already pushing it for me. I don’t particularly find dolls scary, so I’m glad the demon was involved. I feel more and more the importance of a movie’s consistency and main focus not muddied by other entities and useless storylines, so this was mildly refreshing. I was glad that the film focussed on the scares and darkness instead of lame CGI and a billion different monsters like some lazy movies…*cough*… Insidious. There were a few scenes and effects I could have done without, but overall, it was pretty solid. The acting was decent, and this film really knew how to drag out the tension. There were even a few cute touches thrown in, such as the original Raggedy Ann doll and the nun from The Conjuring, lurking in a photo. I could have done with more of a backstory to the girl and the doll and I’m still waiting to learn more about the demon. After seeing the first Annabelle, disappointment of the second installment was inevitable, however, I was quite impressed, which was most likely due to my low expectations.

*Friend score average: 6.2

Masters of Horror: The Black Cat

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: Stuart Gordon (Re-animator, From Beyond, Dolls)

Evil Category: an aggrevated, alcoholic author

Score: one out of five broken, black ink pens

You’d think this would be about a cat who witnesses something horrible, or a bunch of stories that merge together with the cat appearing in each one, or even just a killer-cat. But no, it’s about Edgar Allen Poe going insane and attacking a cat for little reason. He wants to write poe-try, and his wife is coughing up blood all over the place. The story isn’t too bad, but man, the acting is so painful. I’d be just as well off watching an episode of Days of our Lives. The constant coughing alone is enough to drive anyone to madness, but the cruelty to animals does not in the least get me routing for Poe. That bird clearly just had a smear of ketchup on it and the cat eyeball scene… Jesus. I skipped a lot of it, and I was glad it was finally done watching it in the end. I would have rather watched Secret Window.

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 97

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: recent, 2000s, murder, demon, ghost, supernatural,

It’s pretttttyyyyy clear James Wan didn’t direct this (although he produced it), because the skill of being able to drag the tension out just long enough to deliver the scare at the right time was severely lacking. The director is actually a writer and actor who has appeared in Saw, Insidious, and Cooties. He’s the ghost hunter with the beard in all the Insidious movies. It’s less all-over-the-place than the first, and had its central focus around “the man who can’t breath”. I have asthma, so I can relate. There was one scene I jumped at, but there was so much mushy nonsense I didn’t care about and the ending was awful. At times I felt like I was watching an episode of Charmed, especially when the mom ghost appeared. I didn’t care about the characters, and watching the scare scenes felt like when you are having sex, and just as it starts to get good, someone knocks on the door and it’s over. The worst idea in the movie was the girl whose face was hidden under her hair. The third installment of Insidious is about a young girl who is hit by a car, and has a demon attaches itself to her. There’s also our old friend, the ghost whisperer, who has the bride-witch-demon-thing trying to strangle her everytime she tries to help the girl find her ghost-mom.

*friend consensus

Top Ten Canadian Horror Films

Happy Canada 150, my fellow proud Canadians and adoring non-Canadians! Here are my favorite scary Canuck movies to watch after the fireworks, or hungover the next morning, accompanied by Canada’s top snacks.

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10. The Brood  (1979)

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One of four Cronenburg and sons films on the list, it’s about a woman driven by her psychologist to do some pretty strange things, among them, lead a brood of lumpy lawn gnome look-alikes. The skin sack is a hard image to forget, so you may want to have a couple 2-4s and mickeys on hand.

Canadian Snack: Watch a woman lick her bloody baby while you nosh on some flavour-packed Lays ketchup chips and guzzle down a spicy Caesar with a green bean.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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9. Terror Train (1980)

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A satisfying New Year’s Eve slasher movie about med students at a costume party held on a train who are killed off by a masked murderer. What a kerfuffle with everyone stuck on that train. Better grab your toques and runners and get a move on.

Canadian Snack: In order to stay up past midnight you’re going to need some caffeine. But since we’re on a moving train, better reach for a Coffee Crisp instead.

Review here

Trailer here

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8. The Fly (1986)

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Jeff Goldblum and Gina Davis are surrounded by a hefty helping of that goopy, slimy, eighties blood and gore. It’s pretty much every superhero story, without the superhero part, leaving just- man turns into fly, and it doesn’t go too well.

Canadian Snack: If there’s one thing that flies like, it’s sugar. So give them what they want in a sweet, buttery treat: the butter tart.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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7. Black Christmas (1974)

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This is a film about a woman calling for her cat, Claude… I mean… it’s about sorority girls trapped in a house with a mystery killer. And also Christmas! So it’s snowing and no one is really around to help. Better than the 2006 version by a million kilometres, but not necessarily thrilling.

Canadian Snack: Our country doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas dinner, so instead, grab a Tims double double with a maple-glazed donut for breakfast.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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6. Dead Ringers (1988)

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Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie about twin gynecologists addicted to drugs, both played by Jeremy Irons? I generally dislike it when a movie is two or more hours long, but I didn’t mind it in this case. Felt like I was just watching a few episodes in a row of Twin Peaks. It’s labeled as a drama / horror / thriller, but it doesn’t have the typical tension of a horror or thriller; I found it heavy on the drama end.

Canadian Snack: Nothing goes better together than a Montreal-style bagel and Montreal smoked meat.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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5. Antiviral (2012)

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A film about a business that offers diseases (carried by celebrities) to the public, in order to allow the fans to feel closer to the famous person they’re obsessed with. So strange, and so creative with such a fantastically interesting lead character played by Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out). Lots of drug hazes, needles galore, and so many blood-soaked white things that even Tide couldn’t clean.

Canadian Snack: Some good ole fashioned brand-name KD with a dollop of ketchup. The Canadian way.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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4. Cube (1997)

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Out of the three Cube movies, the first has the best ending- with a twist. A group of people are trapped in a room-filled structure, where each room has a different violent booby-trap waiting for them.

Canadian Snack: We’re too hip to be square, but a homemade nanaimo bar is to die for, and angular enough to accompany this franchise.

Review here

Trailer here

3. American Mary (2012)

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A revenge flick about a med student turned underground body modifier is American only by title.

Canadian Snack: To go with the American theme, believe it or not, the popular sushi order, California roll, was invented by a Japanese sushi chef who moved to Vancouver in the seventies.

Review here

Trailer here

2. Ginger Snaps (2000) 

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Good things come in threes, but the original of the well-known Canadian trilogy is the best. Nothing beats some simplistic teen werewolf angst, eh?

Canadian Snack: Unfortunately, ginger snaps aren’t really Canadian, so instead how bout some Chinese food? Surprisingly, ginger beef was invented right here in Calgary, AB. I think a werewolf would prefer meat over cookies anyway.

Review here

Trailer here

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1. Silent Hill (2006)

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This dreamlike fantasy horror about a mother searching for her daughter in an eerie, ash-covered town gets the top spot. This fantastic goth film is an adaptation of a survival video game and couldn’t have been done better. Around every turn is a mysterious creature, its details creatively imagined. I’d pay a lot of loonies and twoonies to see this at the theatre in 3D.

Canadian Snack: The number one spot deserves nothing but the number one Canadian food. So versatile and comforting, you can’t do better than a proper poutine.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

 

BONUS! The legendary tv show, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is of course, also Canadian.

Looking for more? Try Pontypool, Hobo With a Shotgun, Pin, The Changeling, Videodrome, The Shrine, Prom Night. 

Mother of Tears (2007)

Score: 4/10

Length: 102

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, supernatural, murderer

Let’s start off with some fun facts about this film:

  • It’s a Dario.
  • It stars his daughter, Asia.
  • The third of The Three Mothers trilogy, it focuses on Mater Lachrymarum.
  • Mater Lachrymarum is the witch of tears.
  • Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs, appears in Suspiria and Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness is the witch in Inferno.

It’s about an evil witch who brings with her terror and violence when she is released by a student inspecting her urn. The acting is watchable I guess, but I really could have done without the sketch cartoons accompanying the story flashbacks. There is lots of gore and boobs, and mystery in the typical Dario-fashion. A mix of cheesy and decent effects, and the dream-demon scared the shit out of me, good lord. As per often there were definitely some unnecessary bits such as the screeching monkey and the metal rod up the vagina bit. And speaking of screeching, with all the hyena-laughing and obnoxious sound-effects, I wouldn’t recommend this for headaches. Maybe it’s an Italian thing, because all of Dario’s films seem to have these qualities, maybe with the exception of Suspiria, which is probably why it’s my favorite. The Mother of Tears is definitely not the best of the three, but I should probably watch Inferno again since I haven’t reviewed it yet. I know it’s not as bad as this one, though. Scenes such as the ghost mom wrestling the man on fire really don’t help. Who would have thought that things could easily be resolved by burning a shirt?

Suspiria Review 

Masters of Horror: Pelts

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: Dario Argento (Suspiria, Opera, Inferno)

Evil Category: the cursed revenge of the trash pandas

Score: one out of five dry-cleaning bills

I put off watching this episode for quite some time just based off the title, and rightfully so. It’s about a big, greasy man who is in the fur business. He’s in love with a stripper who he tries to rape, and when he comes across some fine pelts, it allows him to present a (ridiculous) business proposition to her. He’s going to make her a fancy fur coat so she can wear it and be a fashion model. Seriously?! Don’t worry, the raccoons get their revenge, of course, on the coat wearers. I didn’t realize raccoon fur was so coveted and rare… Not even the gory baseball bat to the face and the headfirst plunge into a trap could save this episode’s stupidity. It’s so not something I needed to watch, and I read a book while watching most of it anyway. Point is only for gore.

Rings (2017)

Score: 5/10

Length: 102

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, ghost, religious, murderer

I will start off by saying that I’ve been waiting for this movie for YEARS. The 3D version, that is. When the first Ring movie came out I was still obsessed with 3D, and I fantasized about what it’d be like to see Samara crawl out of the theatre screen and towards a terrified audience. This film was delayed several times, and I didn’t realize until I had bought the tickets that this release was not, in fact, 3D and was now just titled Rings instead of Rings 3D. I was annoyed to say the least, but let me unenthusiastically review what I did get to see, by a director who has barely any experience (he’s only released one full-length film prior to this one). The third installment in the Ring series focuses around Samara’s birth mother and uncovering the story behind her suffering. The plot is easy to follow and mostly makes sense without being looking like there was minimal effort put into it. There are, however, a bunch of character decisions that make absolutely no sense. Like why was there no one helping the guy in the totalled car? And why on Earth did she think it was a good idea to wonder around exploring by herself and leaving her boyfriend to figure out where she might be? Stuuupid. But what I REALLY don’t understand is why the tape isn’t shown to someone who is going to die anyway. Say, someone with a terminal disease. You’d think that’d be simple solution. Besides the lazy choices, the movie doesn’t have many obvious faults except that I doubt an old ghost would know how to work technology that well. A movie within a movie…. pshht. There isn’t much tension, but there are a lot of silly jump scares. The acting is fine, the make-up and effects are good enough, and the ending (which reminds me of The Exorcist) isn’t an awful one. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get over the fact that the first movie pretty scary, and this one just wasn’t.

Fun fact: The adult contortionist playing Samara shares the same last name: Morgan.

Review for original Ring movie (2002) here

Tales of Halloween (2015)

This (mostly) Halloween-themed horror anthology is comprised of 10 stories which are individually rated below. (Segments are rated in comparison to each other, not to movies of the horror genre as a whole.)

Length: 92

Rating: R

Language: English

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Sweet Tooth (dir David Parker)

Score: 7/10    Villian: monster, human

It’s almost a shame that they put the best story first. I forgot that I was watching an anthology and was disappointed when it ended. Although I liked some of the others, I might have preferred to watch a whole movie about this. It’s a simple spooky story about a monster who eats your insides if you inhale all the candy and don’t leave him any. It’s fun and creative, with an ending I can appreciate. I’m sure this was the reason I bought that box of over-priced Halloween candy at the grocery store.

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The Night Billy Raised Hell (dir Darren Lynn Bousman)

Score: 5/10    Villian: devil/demon

A young kid dressed as a devil is pressured into pulling a prank on an old man. He is tied up while a look-alike demon wreaks havoc on the town with the old man devil snickering behind trees and such. The hot mom line was a little overdone and the cheesy noises and sound effects take away from the short. I would have preferred the same idea without the comedy.

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Trick (dir Adam Gierasch)

Score: 5/10     Villian: human

On Halloween, kids decide to trick instead of treat, killing the young adults in vicious ways. That’s all I can really say. I wish this segment had more. It was way too simple and easily forgettable. It deserves a like review.

 

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The Weak and the Wicked (dir Paul Solet)

Score: 5/10            Villian: (monster), human

A kid who is bullied by three hoodlums on bikes returns as a young adult with an evil spirit to invoke his revenge. It’s mostly shots of the female leader of the pack slowly sucking on a cigar and trying to give fire eyes.

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Grim Grinning Ghost (dir Axelle Carolyn)

Score: 6/10             Villian: ghost

Nothing much happened in this segment either, but I could easily empathize with the main character and it has a nice climax build-up. The acting seems genuine and this is a nice, little spook. It’s about a woman at a party who is told a story about a ghost who cackles behind you as she follows. If you turn around, she gets you. After the party on the way home, the tale  comes to life as the frightened gal wills herself not to turn around.

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Ding Dong (dir Lucky McKee)

Score: 5.5/10           Villian: monster/human

This strange story about infertility feels like I’m watching the Babadook in a Bjork video. Probably the strangest out of the bunch and the most unsettling. A couple unable to reproduce, struggle to keep cheery faces on when floods of children come to their door. As the husband tries to make light of the situation, the monster inside his wife appears more and more. The husband is dressed as Hansel, however, he looks more like Stewart from MadTV.

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This Means War (dir John Skipp and Andrew Kasch)

Score: 6/10           Villian: humans

Two generations of Halloween-lovers fight over the better way to enjoy the holiday. Loud, metal music, gory decorations, and a big party -or- classic family fun with animatronics and spooky effects. In the end, no one wins. The idea worked well for a short story, but there weren’t really any surprises, and it left the episode feeling too cute.

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Friday the 31st (dir Mike Mendez)

Score: 3/10             Villians: alien cartoons, possessed humans, and Jason

Deformed freak and movie murderer Jason Voorhees meets a cartoon alien that looks like it could be from an Eiffel 65 video. He finds the creature annoying and stomps on it, which in turn allows the alien to possess a female victim who launches herself at Jason. They hack away at each other and then the alien goes home. I don’t think I need to give any additional comments towards this description.

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The Ransom of Rusty Rex (dir Ryan Schifrin)

Score: 4/10                        Villian: gremlin

Two men kidnap what they think is a child, but what turns out to be a little imp-gremlin of sorts. The vertically-challenged monster torments the kidnappers as they do everything possible to get rid of it. This episode is mildly comical, but easily forgettable.

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Bad Seed (Neil Marshall)

Score: 6/10            Villian: killer pumpkins

This is probably my second-favorite segment, as the director really understands how to make horror cheesy and fun. It’s about an evil jack-o-lantern that eats humans head first. The idea isn’t anything fantastic, it’s the delightful little ending that gives it a small sparkle… of doom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour Episodes (Seasons 3 & 4)

R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour is a modern-day teen horror show that started in 2010 and plays on YTV (and I’m sure some other channels).  It was extremely hard to pick a top ten for several reasons- I had no emotional childhood attachments to any of these episodes, there are a lot of creative ideas, and none of them are really scary, but they’re all pretty much Goosebumps-style twisty-ended. They all have teenage cheese and they’re all watchable. Here are my top ten most memorable episodes from seasons 3 and 4 of The Haunting Hour!

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10. Grampires

Cute, creepy, and the season’s two-parter, this episode is about siblings who go to visit their grandparents in a retirement village. Unfortunately, soon enough, the kids learn the elderly folk are actually vampires, and rely on their grandfather to keep them safe. Normally, old people tend to be horrific in a frail and fragile way, but these grampires are more reminiscent of The Bailey School Kids book characters-comical.

 

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9. The Girl in the Painting

A young girl dreaming of a life of luxury finds a painting in the trash of a girl in a beautiful pink room. She becomes obsessed with living in the fantasy world of the posh painting. After the paining changes scenes and a voice is heard advising the way in is through the closet, the girl finds herself in the world she dreamed of. I think most little girls imagine themselves going into another land through the closet, all Chronicles of Narnia-style. The end is twisty of course, and unexpected, and laughable.

 

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8. The Cast

While playing a prank on and old lady, a group of boys get caught, and one falls, breaking his arm. He ends up with a cast, but the cast turns out to be a lot worse than just a cradle for shattered bones. I’ve never broken anything major, but the fear of the unknown comes into play here, and paranoia, and all of the possibilities of what could be lurking underneath all that plaster and bandage. In this case it’s rats, and while the guilt feeds delusions, in the end, everyone gets their just desserts. The moral of the story is: don’t lie or karma will get you.

 

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7. I’m Not Martin

A helpless boy in a hopeless horror- Martin is set for surgery, the only issue is he’s not Martin and no one believes him. As a kid, it would be pretty terrifying to be mistaken for someone else at a hospital, especially if that person is set to have their leg taken off. This episode is fairly nonsensical, but the desperation and fear of being trapped in a situation without having any control over it is pretty scary for a kid.

 

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6. Detention

This isn’t just a ditzy episode about high school stereotypes stuck in detention, it’s about three teenagers who take ownership of their mistakes and learn a valuable lesson. Obviously written by a dad, but not too cheesy. The setting of the decoration-trashed school with no one around sets a terrific atmosphere, and the possible consequences of the unassuming kids ups the scare factor. In true horror way, however, I wish it would have ended with the prom princess going her own way.

 

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5. Seance

A younger sister wants to fit in with her big sister and her friend, and while following them around mercilessly, annoys the friends. Little sis, who also stars as a little sister in The Conjuring is the victim of a prank, but ups the ante she gets her revenge. Seances are fun and spooky, and I bet every younger sibling got a few ideas of revenge after watching this episode.

 

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4. My Imaginary Friend

Another twisty story that ends kind of sad because you don’t really see it coming. It’s about a boy with an invisible friend who’s kind of a bad-ass, and is very much a negative influence. The boy’s good-natured brother doesn’t get along with his sibling’s imaginary friend and the conflict between the two goes from bad to worse. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this episode such as listening to your conscience and being able to control what you’d created with your own mind.

 

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3. Terrible Love

A Valentine’s Day episode where a girl wishes for cupid to make the popular boy like her… but she goes too far, and their love turns sour. This is another example of a mature episode that discusses jealousy and obsession in love. It’s creepy in a very real way and I appreciate how it’s guessable but still likable it can be. There’s a spotlight on awkwardness and desperation, and isn’t that every teenager’s nightmare?

 

 

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2. Lovecraft’s Woods

Time loops (in my opinion) are not used enough in movies, and I’ve definitely never seen it be used in a kid’s show, so this is all sorts of awesome. It’s about three friends who are trapped in the woods. One of the kids gets bitten and turns into a horrible creature who tries to warn her friends. Werewolves aren’t my usual horror cup of tea, but I fancy a spooky stroll in the forest, mind you.

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1. Le Poof de Fromage

The kid painfully trying to have a funny french accent may be hard to sit through, and the plot may be… ahem… cheesy, but it’s silly and fun and original. It’s simply ridiculous and I like that about it. This episode is about a foreign exchange student who moves in with a family to hunt down the alien cheese puffs that are trying to invade Earth. It kind of reminds me of 10 Cloverfield Lane because of the paranoia and flip-flop beliefs. Must be eaten with the puffy Cheesies, not the crunchy ones.

Also read: Seasons 1/2 Top Ten