About H.J. Ash

Reader, writer, and all around great gal.

Pandemic Post: Some Fun Things To Keep You Occupied

Since we’re all still likely to be stuck at home for awhile, I thought I would share some of the more entertaining things that I’ve been enjoying during the pandemic.

Surprisingly Fun

First up are two movies that star their writers and directors.

alt=""The Wolf of Snow Hollow – I have had this movie on my “to be watched” list for awhile, and finally got to it the other night. It definitely made me laugh a lot more than I had expected! If you love black comedy, you will definitely want to check this one out. Jim Cummings stars as Officer John Marshall and he is struggling. He’s a recovering alcoholic who has some issues with his ex-wife, and his father – the Sheriff – is having health issues that he wants to keep under wraps while still trying to do his job. On top of all of this, there are some horrific killings going on in town. The cast also includes the late Robert Forster and Riki Lindhome in some truly wonderful supporting roles.

alt=""Scare MeAdditionally surprising and fun (and with black comedic elements) was this release from Shudder starring Josh Ruben. Essentially a one room setting, the story revolves around a struggling writer who has rented a cabin to spend time working on his werewolf novel. While out for a run, he meets Fanny, a well-known published author. They end up spending the evening telling each other scary stories, and things take a turn for the unexpected. I liked this one enough that I actually ended up watching it twice!

Movies to Make You Say “Holy Cow!” Out Loud

These are all movies that have been around for awhile, but they are definitely worth checking out for their craziness:

  • From a Whisper to a Scream – I was a bit thrown off when I watched this one because I was expecting something similar to many of the other Vincent Price movies I’ve seen (for example, the Edgar Allen Poe ones). This one is a collection of four tales told by the historian of a creepy town to a visiting reporter. The first 30 minutes of this movie is absolutely nuts. 
  • Mausoleum – This is a possession movie that follows a young girl into adulthood. After her mother dies, she is strangely attracted to a mausoleum in the cemetery. Later, as an adult, the possession starts to take hold and it is definitely memorable.
  • Possession – This movie featuring a very young Sam Neill presents as a marriage in trouble story. However, there is a lot more going on here than a simple affair, and things get very strange very quickly. Not for the faint of heart, the best I can describe this one is what you might come up with if Bergman, Fulci, and Lynch got together to make a movie and had Argento provide some notes on the script. This one if tough to find, but if you’re a foreign horror fan you will definitely not be let down.

For Your Listening Pleasure

I’ve been taking a lot more walks lately, since the gym is not in the picture for me, and one of my favorite things to do is put on a horror podcast while I get in some fresh air. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Shock Waves – RIP to one of the best horror podcasts out there, and I readily admit to shedding a few tears over its recent demise. However, the good news is that there are a few years of posts here for you to catch up on, and they are all a ton of fun. Look for this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast tool. There are hours of interesting conversation and interviews here to keep you entertained.
  • The Faculty of Horror – Hosted by Andrea Subissati (Executive Editor of Rue Morgue magazine) and Alexandra West (author of many critical horror books and articles), these are some of my favorite ladies to listen to. They approach horror from a slightly more academic angle, and you will hear some great horror focused criticism and historical information on this podcast.
  • Deep Cuts w/ Elric Kane and Rebekah McKendry – Two of the former hosts from Shock Waves have banded together to provide their own spin on the more academic side of horror. (You can find this on most podcast tools, and may also find it listed under the titles Colors of the Dark or Nightmare University.) This podcast has a Patreon page that I would encourage you to support, as you get some great extras like reading lists (a bonus for my fellow horror nerds!).

I hope that these suggestions will bring a little fun into your world! Stay safe everyone!

July Short Reviews

Here are a few things that I’ve been reading:

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Quincy Carpenter is one of only three “final girls”, each of which survived a massacre in different areas of the country.  While Quincy survived her ordeal, her memory did not and she has no recollection of most of what happened that terrifying night. However, at the beginning of this book, she is not doing too badly. She has a fiance and a successful cooking blog. But when one of the final girls, Lisa, commits suicide, it seems so out of character that Quincy becomes determined to figure out what really happened. The appearance of the third final girl, Sam, further complicates matters, and soon Quincy is struggling to figure out not only who she can trust, but also the truth of what happened to her that night, and it soon becomes clear that her life is depending on her figuring out the answers.

This book has a great thriller pacing to it, and I found the story to be engaging. Sager drew me in quickly with the idea of playing with the final girl trope. I know it’s something that’s been done a lot at this point, but Sager works to keep this fresh and different. The story kept me guessing until the end and it was definitely a fun read!

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

Maisie Cothay grows up with an unusual curse: anything she touches dies – or is revived. She lives on an estate at the edge of a mysterious forest, isolated from the world around her because of her condition. Her father, and pretty much everyone, has warned her not to go into the forest, and there are many legends of local men who have gone missing over the years. What Maisie additionally learns, though, is that many of the women in her family – ancestors from years gone by – have also gone missing in that forest. However, when Maisie’s father goes missing, she dares to venture into the forest in search of him, and she finds much more than she had bargained for.

I love the fairy-tale feel of this book, but it is not soft and pretty, there is definitely an edginess to it. It is frightening in some areas, and the fantasy elements have a darkness that I always enjoy. The resolution of this book, is interesting, but I think I mostly enjoyed the telling of the story itself. Maisie has an interesting viewpoint and her struggles with her condition and those around her lend a loneliness that makes the story even more haunting. Recommended for those that like Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Constable Peter Grant is just starting his career and hoping that he won’t be assigned to what is basically desk duty. However, his fortune changes when while assisting with a murder investigation he is approached by a ghost – offering him information. This odd interaction leads to him being assigned to work with Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightengale, who works on those sorts of cases, and who also happens to be a wizard. Peter and Nightengale team up to investigate a mysterious string of murders. Along the way, they are assisted by a variety of water elementals, each of whom is a different river that flows through the city. Throughout it all, Peter struggles to master his own growing magical skills, and become acclimated to his new role.

I loved this book and will probably devour the series! This would probably fall more into the urban fantasy genre, and readers of Jim Butcher’s Dresden series will probably enjoy this, as well. As the story developed and I learned more about the case, I was pleasantly surprised at how very original this idea was!

Check back in for more posts soon! I’ve been reading and watching some great stuff, and there are some new releases that will be coming out soon that are going to make for some excellent reading!