The Legend of The Boggy Creek Monster

Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Fouke is a picturesque little city in central Miller County, Arkansas, about 150 miles outside of Little Rock. Boasting its gorgeous Mountain Lake Park Hotel and a spacious festival plaza, Fouke seems ideal for a relaxing getaway amongst the more attractive facets of nature. However, not all of nature’s creations are necessarily friendly, as warned by a legend which has haunted Fouke since the 1840s; The Boggy Creek Monster.

Boggy Creek Variations

Also referred to as the Fouke Monster, or Swamp Stalker, The Boggy Creek Monster is a hulking ape-like creature standing upright between seven and eight feet tall. Long and dense fur covers its arms and legs and it walks or runs with a hunch, swinging its arms like a primate. It has a similar description as the legendary Bigfoot and a strikingly eerie resemblance to the Momo seen in Louisiana, Missouri. This prompts some to believe that these are part of the same genus of elusive ape-men which still live hidden lives in the denser woodland of the earth. The Boggy Creek Monster has been said to kill livestock, chickens and dogs in the area and while it hasn’t been reported to have killed any people, many have claimed of its vicious nature.

The Legends

Two families in the late 1860s were allegedly terrorised, and one hospitalised, by the beast. Then in May 1971, Bobby and Elizabeth Ford claimed that a great hairy beast with red eyes and rattling breath attacked their home. Bobby claimed that the beast grabbed his shoulder, him only having narrowly escaped its clutches and ploughing himself through his front door. Elizabeth also claimed to see the red eyes and fur-covered arms coming through the window as she slept in the living room one day.

The legend spread like wildfire and made it into a low-budget cult horror film in 1973 entitled The Legend of Boggy Creek. While the film was panned critically, many fans saw it as a chillingly atmospheric dive into their favourite Arkansas urban legend, and the film actually spawned two very odd unofficial sequels, one of which featuring the monster as a disney-esque character who helps a band of lost children. The original was also said to have paved the way for films like The Blair Witch Project, meaning the Boggy Creek Monster could have had more impact on the world of film than once realised.

The people of Fouke used to capitalise on the legend with their Monster Mart featuring a huge screaming Boggy Creek Monster holding up its sign, with the Haunted Texarkana Ghost Walk and with plenty of signs around the town. These are not so much the case any more and it appears the locals have tired of the legend and the outsiders it brings to their quaint place of residence. That being said, 1997 saw over forty sightings of the Swamp Stalker, primarily walking along the dry creek bed just outside of town. While tourism seems to be dying out, the legend of the Boggy Creek Monster is as prevalent as ever.


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Ghosts of St Augustine Lighthouse

Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

The current St Augustine Lighthouse in Florida was built between 1871 and 1874 and stands at the North end of Anastasia Island. The original lighthouse was actually a wooden structure that dates back to 1589. It was a tower which went dark during the Civil War of 1867, and had since lost the battle with encroaching tempestuous seas and long periods of erosion. Congress approved the rebuilding of the lighthouse in 1871 amidst myriad reports from the United States Lighthouse Board concerning its condition, they could never have expected such a benefit to public transportation and safety to end in such catastrophe. The Ghost of St Augustine Lighthouse is one of tragic beginnings.

Lighthouse Reconstruction

Hezekiah Pittee was superintendent of Lighthouse Construction at the time, and moved with his family to Anastasia Island to oversee the construction of the new and improved lighthouse. He had a wife, Mary and four children; Mary Adelaide, Eliza, Edward and Carrie, all who lived on site with him during the building period. Of course it didn’t take long for the young children to turn the site into their own personal playing field, and the children of many of the workers soon joined in the fun.

Two years into the process and not even half of the tower had been erected. To streamline things, a railway track and cart were installed to transport supplies from the supply ships docked at Salt Run to the building site. Of course the children all loved the cart, riding it down the hill like a rollercoaster and pulling it back up again several times a day. The only thing that stopped the cart from flipping and careening into the water was a single wooden board slotted into place at the end of the track. Clearly health and safety standards were less evolved back then.

It doesn’t take an expert on tragedy to foresee what happened next. On the fateful morning of July 10th, 1873, the three young Prittee sisters were riding the cart with the 10 year old daughter of one of the construction workers, though for some inexplicable reason the safety board was not in place. The cart descended the hill and tipped into the water, trapping all of the girls inside the watery metal box. One of the workers, Dan Sessions, witnessed the incident and ran to the water where he managed to lift the cart from atop the girls. Sadly by this time three of the four girls had drowned, the only survivor being the youngest of the Prittee sisters, Carrie. Construction on the tower, and indeed the whole town was shut down in the days following the incident, and after the funeral was held the family returned to Maine to bury the children in their hometown.

The Hauntings

In the nearly one hundred and fifty years since the tragedy occurred, many strange and unusual instances have been blamed on the spirits of the unfortunate young victims. Haunted lighthouses are a common trope, but this is one of the most active haunted lighthouses in the world. Heceta Head lighthouse in Oregon is another notable haunted lighthouse.

Heceta Head Lighthouse
Heceta Head Haunted Lighthouse

One of these occurrences comes from Lighthouse Keeper James Pippin who lived and worked in the tower from 1953 to 1955. The man reportedly heard footsteps above him late at night sometime in this 2 year period, though when he went to check it out, no one was there. At first Pippen lived in the usual Keeper’s house, but he quickly moved to a smaller coastal lookout building, insisting that the main building was haunted and refusing to spend any more time there.

Another haunted story comes from the 1960’s at a time when the lighthouse’s lamp was fully automated and lighthouse keepers were replaced with workers known as ‘lamplighters’. These people didn’t live on sight as keepers did, so the buildings were rented out instead. One man who was renting the Keepers’ house in the 60s tells a story of waking up in the night with a small girl standing over his bed. As he blinked and rubbed his eyes, the spectral apparition vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

In the 1970s the keepers’ building burned down mysteriously, and in the process of it being rebuilt, those involved reported the area was a hotbed for ghostly and unexplainable activity. It’s said that even today a strange and spooky presence can be felt in the basement of the home, which is also coincidentally one of the only parts of the place that didn’t fully burn.

These days the tower is reserved for supernatural tourism, and of course there has been no lull in the hair-raising activity the place is known for. It would seem that the spirits of the girls like to play games with unsuspecting people. When one staff member was closing up for the night alone, he heard giggling coming from the top of the tower. Thinking he had left a tourist up there by mistake, he went to check but, of course, found no one.

Patrons of the ‘Dark of the Moon Tours’ consistently talk of ghostly activity to this day, so why not take a trip and see if you can come into contact with some 19th century spirits?



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The Frightful History of the Best Jumpscares

Best Of Best of Movies Featured Scary Movies and Series

The jumpscare; one of the most polarizing yet widely used tropes in the horror genre since Mark Robson’s clever editing work in Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 chiller Cat People. Some will tell you that jumpscares are cheap tactics to manipulate the audience into finding something more scary than it really is, while others insist that if they don’t jump out of their seats at least once then a film quite simply isn’t scary at all. The truth is that jumpscares are neither good nor bad, like an overly aggressive dog the blame can be placed fully on their handler. Here I have personally handpicked and compiled a list of jumpscares from throughout the ages of film, to hopefully weed out the wheat from the chaff in the world of heart-stopping horror moments.

Heavy dramatic music is better for horrific reveals and dramatic moments than to make the audience jump, though some cases have proved it can be effective.

Smile (2022)

Smile is a nightmarish slow-burn horror film comparable to the likes of It Follows (2014) and They Look Like People (2015), with plenty of creepy images and a pervasive sense of building dread throughout its entire runtime. Therapist Dr. Rose Cotter begins experiencing a terrifying phenomenon following a patient’s apparent suicide, and must figure out what smiling, shapeshifting thing is stalking her before it is too late. Unfortunately, just about every frame that could be considered chilling in Smile was shown proudly in its trailer, making the film itself feel like an extended rehash and forcing it to rely on a few jumpscares to keep the wider audience interested. One of these jolts is a scene in which Rose’s sister approaches Rose’s car, knocking on the window. As she does, her head swings violently into view to reveal a hideous smile on her face. The whole thing happens so quickly and the grotesque appearance of the long, swinging neck and demented grin make this a hugely effective scare, even if it was also sadly shown in the trailer.

Insidious (2010)

Insidious (2010) horror movie poster featuring a scary child in front of a house

This one got me good back in 2010, and I still remember jumping clean out of my seat at a couple of points. Of course I was more impressional back then and I’m not sure it would have the same effect nowadays, though I would consider Insidious to be a chillingly atmospheric and intensely creepy horror film nonetheless. Many would probably consider the best jumpscare here to be the appearance of the red-faced demon behind Patrick Wilson’s character, though there was another scene that sticks with me far more. Somewhere in the madness of the first real night of haunting, Renai (played by Rose Byrne) runs into her baby’s room to see a figure standing over the cot. Because this happens in the midst of so much panic, and because Rose Byrne’s reaction through one unbroken camera shot is so convincing, I would place this as one of the more spine-chilling jumpscares James Wan has to offer.

The Visit (2015)

The visit jumpscare horror movie poster featuring some rules and a house

Despite being one of M. Night Shyamalan’s later works, The Visit actually utilises its found-footage presentation well for the most part, offering a group of charismatic and interesting characters and plenty of passable chills, not to mention an ending that calls back to the director’s earlier, more widely regarded films. While I enjoyed a lot of The Visit, we are here to talk about the jumpscares of the matter, which sadly I liked a lot less. One stand-out scene is when the kids are crawling under their grandparent’s house and end up hiding from their snarling ‘grandmother’ as it crawls around looking for them. This may have been a creepy scene if not for the incessant and inhuman screeching and snarling coming from her. These sounds have no bearing on the story and are seemingly there to give the audience a little jolt, like an editing afterthought when it was realised the scene simply wasn’t that scary.

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary Horror Movie Poster featuring a mother and child in a spooky scene

Ari Aster’s breakout directorial debut Hereditary is a uniquely nasty look at classic haunting tropes, one that shocked audiences with its blend of supernatural chills and pitch-black family drama. The scare I’m choosing to focus on from this particular nightmare is a good case for the argument that quiet jumpscares can work better. Things are already tense as Charlie (Millie Shapiro) struggles through her closing airways and when she tries for air, a small thud is all that’s needed to let us know that the worst has happened. You might not have initially jumped at this one, hell, you might not have even caught it the first time around, but once the realization sets in of what happens when Charlie sticks her head out of the car window, we are left in the same state of silent shock her unfortunate brother Peter (Alex Wolff) is in. Phenomenal acting and truly disturbing subject matter mean that this flick is not for the weak of heart.

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring Horror Movie Poster featuring s spooky house and a noose hanging from a tree

Like any decent ghostly chiller from James Wan, The Conjuring is chock full of dread, atmosphere and a bucketload of jumpscares. As with his other works such as Insidious, Wan likes to turn up the shocks and then keep them coming until the audience is completely worn out from gritting their teeth. Once the tension ramps up we can expect horrors jumping from every shadow, meaning it can be quite hard to pin down a particular jumpscare amongst the madness. That being said, the reveal of the evil entity, Bathsheba, hiding atop the wardrobe has to be one of the better timed and executed scares of James Wan’s career. Her hideous, yet not over-the-top, appearance flashing so suddenly gives such a threatening air that our fight-or-flight sense begins to tingle at the very sight of her. Couple that with the knowledge that she sacrificed her own child just to get one over on God and you have one truly unsettling antagonist.

Signs (2002)

Signs sci-fi horror movie poster featuring a crop circle

I’ve already picked on one of Shyamalan’s later works so why not go back and have a look at one of his more worthy creations? Signs stars Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix and could to this day be the scariest sci-fi horror extraterrestrial invasion film in history. This is chiefly due to the thick sense of foreboding that builds over the film’s first couple of acts, before panic ensues and the family hope their preparations weren’t in vain. The scares work here because Shyamalan keeps things quiet for the most part. One standout moment is when Merrill Hess (Phoenix) is watching shaky news footage of an alleged ‘sighting’ at a child’s birthday party. The shot of a backyard alley is held just long enough to put viewers on edge before an alien walks brazenly out and swaggers across to the other side. At this point in the film we don’t know what to expect from these creatures, so when a vaguely sinister humanoid walks out the effect is a confusing and hair-raising jolt. Every little glimpse of a leg or hand of the creatures thus far has been leading to an almost casual reveal, and Phoenix’s reaction illustrates the significance of the event perfectly.

Sinister (2012)

sinister horror movie poster featuring a scary young girl walking by a blood stained wall

Sinister is a moody and atmospheric horror directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Ethan Hawke, which utilises a home-movie effect through some of its sequences that can be considered some of the creepiest scenes in modern horror. When author Ellsion Oswalt (Hawke) finds a stack of super 8 footage depicting the gruesome murders of several families, he must decipher the connections between them before the malicious entity residing in the footage finds him. I won’t spoil too much, though I’ll say that one of these tapes has one of the more unexpected and gut-dropping jumpscares I’ve personally come across. While Sinister’s third act doesn’t quite live up to the dread built in the first two, it’s still a worthy modern horror flick in many regards and should be watched at least once.

Lights Out (short) (2013)

For this pick I’m giving a shout out to one of the most harrowing short films that ever graced the internet. It was later adapted into a great feature film of the same name, though I still consider the rawness and simplicity of the original Lights Out short to be far superior for a quick scare. Clocking at around three minutes, Lights Out features no dialogue and very minimal sound effects with no excessive increases in volume. When our lead turns out the light and sees the sinister figure at the end of the hall, we see it as she does, with no obnoxious instrumentation or erratic camera editing. As she starts to curiously turn the light on and off , the figure only appearing in the dark, we scream internally to just leave the thing on and get out of the place. The 2016 feature film definitely took things further in every possible way, and happens to be a very competently horrifying film in the process, though something about the short will always reign supreme. Watch the Light Our Horror short below.

Barbarian (2022)

Barbarian horror movie poster featuring a woman looking through a scary doorway

Barbarian is an absolute enigma of a film and is best enjoyed with absolutely no prior knowledge going into it. Let’s just say that the first act in no way hints at the insane length the story goes to, and the first actual reveal of where things are going is downright horrifying. Featuring little to no sound, this particular scene uses a quick and horrifying visual followed by some brutal violence that are both heart-stopping in their abruptness and such a curveball in terms of story that viewers feel completely and suitably helpless.

The Ring (2002)

The Ring Horror Movie poster showing a glowing supernatural ring

Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of the Japanese chiller Ringu, The Ring, was one of the first horror films I remember seeing, and I still remember the nightmares, the fear of TV static, and the absolute hatred of little girls with long black hair. There’s plenty to be scared of in what I would consider one of the best horror remakes around, though one scene disturbed my young mind beyond belief. Following an account of a young girl’s horrifying death, we are greeted to a quick shot of the victim crouched in a cupboard, her face twisted and warped beyond recognition. The image is so jarring and unexpected that the audience is put in a state of alert apprehension, and although I am biased I would consider it one of the best scares on this list.



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Must Watch Killer Christmas Horror Movies

Best Of Best of Movies Featured NA Scary Movies and Series

By the time November rolls around some of us just plain aren’t ready to let the Halloween spirit die. Either that or we’re so obsessed with horror that it inevitably bleeds into every seasonal holiday we take part in. Either way, the best remedy is undoubtedly the abundance of killer Christmas horror movies available today; from the horrifyingly effective to the downright laughable, and sometimes both. Killer Santa Clauses have been stalking the silver screen since the late 70s, and filmmakers are coming up with fresh new ideas on seasonal scares to this day. With the holiday fast approaching, I have compiled a list of what I consider the most notable holly-jolly slashers, and while not all can be considered cinematic masterpieces, all can definitely be considered a bloody good time for gore-hounds wanting to celebrate the festive season with a splatter.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night Deadly Night Holiday Horror Movie with Santa Holding an axe in a chimney

This Charles E. Sellier directed slasher wasn’t the first time a maniacal killer donned a Santa suit, though it’s definitely one of the first that showed the true brutality the budding sub-genre had to offer. Silent Night, Deadly Night follows Billy, a troubled young man suffering from post-traumatic stress after being sole witness to the murder of his parents at the hands of a man dressed as Saint Nick himself. This, coupled with his subsequent abusive upbringing in a Catholic orphanage, picks away at his psyche until finally, in adulthood, he snaps and begins mirroring the man who brought about his parents demise. Billy dons a santa claus outfit and begins a spree of brutal murders in his hometown.

Silent Night, Deadly Night was met with its fair share of controversy over its depiction of a sadistic Saint Nick, being pulled from theatres a mere week after its release. Of course, as plenty of banned films do, it quickly achieved cult status and managed to spawn four sequels, with a reboot in the works for release this year.

Billy’s breakdown is, while dated in many regards, still a potent one. The eventual explosion of violence he undergoes is chock full of the mean-spirited dispatching of innocents that we have come to expect from slashers. Although, the personal dramas Billy deals with throughout the films runtime are just as endearing, and we are met with just as much human tragedy as we are mindless violence in this rough-but-ready Christmas horror movie relic.

To All A Goodnight (1980)

To All a Good Night Horror movie Poster with a demon over a house on the holidays

Interestingly enough, this slice of festive nastiness was directed by none other than actor David A. Hess, known for his own roles depicting gruff and often murderous villains. Some would argue that David may have been better in front of the camera for this low-budget slasher, and it’s easy to see why. To All a Goodnight flew under just about everyone’s radar at the time, despite coming out before the likes of Silent Night, Deadly Night and around the same time as the likes of “You Better Watch Out”. Even so, this is a particularly vicious and atmospheric Christmas horror slasher that should be on every genre fan’s watchlist at least once.

Like many slashers of its era, This one opens with a flashback to a prank going terribly wrong before moving to the present, where a group of wealthy students of a Finishing School for Girls plan to sneak their boyfriends in for a late night party. Their plans are ruined, however, when someone dressed in a Santa costume begins stalking the halls, dispatching them one-by-one.

There are some interesting kills on show here, and a suitably rough and unhinged electronic score permeating the festive filleting of surprisingly halfway decent actors. Each character manages to bring something distinct to the table, making this an under appreciated and worthy Santa slasher.

Sint (2010)

Sint Christmas Horror Movie Poster

Sint, also known as Saint in Europe and Saint Nick in the US, is a Dutch black-comedy about the legend of Sinterklaas, the character upon which our lovable modern Santa Claus is based. Sint distorts myth and reality, portraying Sinterklaas as a homicidal ghost who murders huge amounts of people when Christmas coincides with a full moon. The film was directed by Dick Maas, who gained critical acclaim with such horrors as De Lift (1983) and Amsterdamned (1988), and is seen widely as a return to form after a long absence.

Sint is a surreal and polarizing affair on the whole, some feeling the potential its concept set wean’t fully realized. That being said, the bizarre and action-packed spectacle we are left with is, while tamer than most yuletide horrors, more than entertaining and darkly funny enough to satiate the Christmas horror movie genre fans years down the line.

Rare Exports (2010)


For our next look into crimbo carnage we head to Finland for the modern fantasy/action horror Rare Exports, directed by Jalmari Helander. The story centres around Pietari, a young boy living in the mountains of Northern Finland. He and his friend Juuso uncover plans of a secret mountain drilling project that they believe has uncovered a tomb. The tomb of Santa Claus himself. Of course this is a Christmas horror movie, so the Saint Nick that is uncovered and expectedly rises from his grave is not as jolly as one might hope. All hope may rest in an old wildman who becomes ensnared in one of Pietari’s father’s wolf traps, who may know more than he is letting on about the recent children’s disappearances and reindeer’s slaughter.

The story begins slowly, ramping up the suspense before the deliciously savage killing begins. Each character is given room to breathe and establish themselves, adding real weight to the carnage that follows. The end result is something beyond a simple b-movie slasher; a unique, unsettling and often hilarious Santa Claus origin story that reminds us that all fairy tales are truly dark if you dig deep enough.

Christmas Evil (1980)

Christmas Evil Horror Movie Poster 1980 with Santa holding an axe

Christmas Evil is a bit of a wildcard. This mean-spirited proto-slasher being more an exploitation film than anything would usually mean buckets of blood and some risque content that wider audiences would have difficulty with. This is by all means a nasty and uncompromising film, though it seems more concerned with mood and atmosphere than with shocking its audiences with gore and nudity.

Brandon Maggart plays a toymaker who has loves Christmas since he was a young boy. He is scarred when he realises Santa isn’t real and vows then to keep the Christmas spirit a reality, becoming obsessed with children’s behaviour and the quality of his own creations. He eventually snaps when people meet his efforts with a cold cynicism, causing him to begin a killing spree dressed as his lifelong hero, jolly Saint Nick.

Maggart plays Harry with an intensity that brings to mind broken characters such as Travis Bickle and even Michael Rooker’s ‘Henry’. This coupled with Christmas Evil being the first film to feature Santa as a killer elevated it above plenty of the Christmas horror movies of its era.

Tales From The Crypt (1972)

Tales from the Crypt 1972 horror movie featuring a skull

When a group of tourists become lost in a labyrinth of ancient catacombs, they come across the Crypt Keeper (played by Ralph Richardson) who tells each of them their fate in the form of five short films. Not only does Tales From The Crypt feature one of the scariest killer Santas in cinema history, but it manages to be a cut above other anthology horror films by a wide margin in terms of quality and overall scares. The tales include a murderous spouse, a man who becomes the target of nosy and suspicious neighbors, and an adulterer who may meet a fitting end if the keeper’s predictions are accurate.

This was arguably the first film to feature a homicidal Santa Claus, though not as its main crux.

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Christmas Horror Story with Santa fighting Krampus

The idea of a killer Santa is turned gleefully on its head in this fun action/horror from directors Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan. The small Town of Bailey Downs is suddenly set upon by a maelstrom of Christmas chaos, including insidious spirits, zombified elves and none other than the anti-Santa himself, Krampus.

A Christmas Horror Story has something for everyone; the uninitiated will enjoy the simplicity and accessibility of the story while more hardcore fans will recognise references such as Bailey Downs from the film’s opening.

All in all this manages to be one of the stronger horror anthologies out there, especially since it is dedicated fully to modernising an old tale with a brutal new twist. Don’t miss it.

Black Christmas (1974)

black christmas movie poster 1974

And finally we come to one of the most influential and to-this-day unsettling of all the Christmas horror movies. Black Christmas set the stage for slashers in the late 70s and early 80s, creating many of the conventions we know and love them for today.

As winter settles in, a shout of sorority sisters begin receiving aggressive and sexual phone calls from an anonymous psycho. One thing we can tell from the squealing voice is that its owner is very disturbed and very dangerous. Margot Kidder does a great job as the unhinged and inebriated ‘Barb’, who gleefully eggs on the caller until he becomes threatening. When the girls hear of a local girls murder, and one of their own goes missing too, they begin to suspect the calls may have been more threatening than they appeared, and none of them have any idea just how close the danger is.

And as an audience we feel every bit of that danger. Because Black Christmas is from a time before established slasher tropes, there are no fixed rules for who will live and who will die. Not even a ‘final girl’ is guaranteed amongst the colourful group, making this nasty yuletide spree a worthy entry in any horror fan’s rotation. There’s a reason so many tried to emulate what Black Christmas did, and the templates it set in stone are still revered to this day.



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Best Family Horror Movies

Best Of Best of Movies Featured Scary Movies and Series

That most wonderful month of October is once again fast approaching, when stores begin to stock their most malicious outfits and decorations and movie channels run red with the blood of the living, and the dead. Most of us would gladly hunker down with some of the most gruesome and bloody slasher flicks the world of film has to offer, but what if the kids are still up? We can’t very well expect them to fall asleep after the sheer volume of sugar that Halloween provides, so the best course of action is to take a trip back to the family friendly horror movies you loved at their age. With this in mind, I’ll dive into some of the best family-friendly horror movies around, from old favorites to modern classics which capture exactly what kids want from the spookiest season of the year, without being too scary for younger audiences.


goosebumps family friendly horror movie poster featuring teens, monsters and a magic book

More than just a film, Goosebumps has been one of the forerunners of children’s horror since 1992 with the groundbreaking Goosebumps children’s book series, and the hair raising tv series of the same name beginning in 1995. In addition were two more recent Goosebumps films and some noteworthy comic and video game adaptations. I indulged in plenty of the Goosebumps literature at a young age, particularly the ‘choose your adventure’ titles as something about making the wrong choice resulting in someone dying horribly was all the scarier. That being said, I remember being frightened witless at just as many moments in the television series. Slappy’s original design from Night of The Living Dummy still lives bored into my mind as one of my earliest jumpscares, and his sinister smile still chills me to this day. That episode also featured another sentient doll which held her owner hostage and threatened to kill her entire family (yes, this show was aimed at 7 year olds). I blame Goosebumps as a franchise almost entirely for my love for, and discerning taste in, all things horror.

Are You Afraid of The Dark?

A show known only to me as ‘Canadian Goosebumps’ at one point in time, the equally creepy Are You Afraid of The Dark aired from 1991 to 1996, with one revival show airing from 1999-2000 and another beginning in 2021. The most recent revival has been met with a great reception, though the early-90s original was not without its charms. All adaptations centre around a group of kids who called themselves ‘The Midnight Society’, who meet up ritualistically in spooky places in the dead of night to tell scary stories. Each episode, these stories are shown to the viewer as blood-curdling short films, which often bleed over into that character’s reality in some way.


Tim Burton is a name that will likely pop up a number of times in this article, as he is one of the few who truly understands the balance between dark scares and childlike wonder. To be told that Frankenweenie is Burton’s best film in a long time should be encouragement enough to watch it, and that is exactly what the general consensus is. In this alternate timeline, a young Victor Frankenstein is a scientist and outsider at school with one true friend; his dog Sparky. When Sparky is tragically killed, Victor takes the advice of his science teacher and reanimates his companion. When Victor’s classmates steal his work and attempt to use it on their own pets however, things go horribly awry. Burton pays homage to plenty of classic horror movies and returns to his roots with blazing success with Frankenweenie, a flick not to be missed by horror fans young and old.

Monster House

Monster house kids horror movie animated poster featuring three kids and a scary house

It took me a criminal amount of time to finally watch the brilliant animated family horror Monster House, though better late than never. This clever little tale centers around two friends who discover that their creepy neighbor’s even creepier house is far more monstrous than it looks. When the house itself begins eating people on the run-up to Halloween, the boys must try to convince an adult of what is going on before the ultimate smorgasbord of trick-or-treaters file up to its ravenous door! Featuring an all-star cast of voices, and some bone-chilling animation including the evil house’s twisted transformations, Monster House is a modern classic which blends family-friendly humour with a tangible and at-times terrifying threat.


Coraline was adapted from the 2002 Neil Gaiman book of the same name, and is an utterly skin-crawling experience, albeit one packed with heart and nostalgia. 11 year old Coraline finds an alternate, and rather ideal, version of her own home within its walls, though before long she realizes that the place holds a dark and insidious secret. While remaining appropriate for children, Coraline features some truly chilling concepts and hair-raising stop-motion animation that is kept raw to utilize the unsettling effect stop-motion can have. Neil Gaiman always manages to capture the hearts and minds of his audience, especially given his penchant for horror, so one can only be thankful that Henry Selick had the directorial prowess to take it to the big screen.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

You’ve seen the merchandise, you’ve heard at least one of the songs, though if you haven’t actually sat down to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas yet you’re missing out in a big way. This 1993 Burton classic paved the way for many animated films that followed its staggering popularity. The story focuses on Jack Skelington, King of Halloween Town as he one day stumbles upon the neighboring Christmas Town. When he becomes obsessed with Christmas culture he attempts to bring it back to his own people, to great confusion and uproar. Jack’s is a unique tale with a solid moral compass, one layered with catchy songs and lovable voice acting throughout.


Beetlejuice movie poster featuring a groom and bride and Beetlejuice on a house

This one might be a little bit of a cheat, as there are plenty of parents who wouldn’t want their young children watching Michael Keaton sauntering around making crude gestures and more innuendos than Austin Powers. But that is part of what makes this dark, wacky live-action headtrip such a quintessential Tim Burton classic. Sure, it’s not fully aimed at kids but there’s enough slapstick comedy and colorful integration of unnerving stop-motion (I’m looking at those sandworms) to entertain people of all ages. While it’s not exactly a musical, the placement of a couple of Harry Belafonte songs are particularly hilarious, and the overtly stylized look of the film combined with some brilliantly off-kilter performances are enough to warrant this film a cult classic. Keaton is a force to be reckoned with as the reverse-exorcist Beetlejuice, who promises to rid your home of the living should you simply say his name three times. No one would be that stupid though, right?

James and The Giant Peach

Things are getting personal now as we visit another early Tim Burton nightmare. One of my earliest memories of being terrified is of the hellish mechanical shark with its rotating layers of steel teeth, or the horror of the black rhino in the storm clouds. James and The Giant Peach is adapted from a Roald Dahl book and given a suitably dark and unsettling stop-motion style, blended cleverly with live-action as James crosses into a dreamlike reality of giant fruit and huge talking insects. On a voyage across the ocean and skies to New York, James and his band of oversized creatures must battle peril upon horrendous peril, while ultimately finding himself in the comfort of his friends. This adaptation catures the comic brilliance and surreal grimness of Dahl’s work perfectly, and makes for solid family viewing any time of the year.


Gremlins family friendly horror movie poster featuring a box with a gremlin monster in it

Fun fact: Gremlins was almost an R-rated gorefest of a movie before some studio head decided it was worth converting into the fun and exciting festive horror-comedy we know and love. The story centers around struggling inventor Randall Peltzer who is looking for a Christmas present for his son, Billy. When he wanders into an old bazaar in Chinatown, he encounters an old man who presents him with a cute, furry creature called a Mogwai. The man imparts upon Randall the few vital rules one must follow when owning a Mogwai, though Billy himself has a little trouble keeping to them. While it remains a cult-classic among many adults, Gremlins has enough laughs and cuteness from Gizmo the Mogwai to entertain children of all ages, even though those under 10 might find certain scenes of fantasy violence disturbing.



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