7 Sea Hauntings Worth Watching

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“Red Sky at night, Sailors delight; Red Sky in the morning, Sailors take warning.” Ahh the sea, it offers freedom, mystery, tales of glorious expedition, and epic struggles. Sailors have always been a superstitious folk from reading the sky to minding birds for bad luck. The sea is possibly the best backdrop for a good haunting and ghost ships are no exception here. Ships are often seen as almost human entities from being named to how they are referred to as he or she. It’s no surprise that there are piles of lore around haunted ships, ocean locations and sea creatures. It’s definitely one of my favorite locations for horror and here are a list of some of the great sea fairing horror movies out there.

The Fog-1980

The Fog Horror Movie Poster

 You may think that everything is safe, however, when a dense fog rolls into town, you may think otherwise. On the coasts of Oregon, you will find that this fog comes with vengeful spirits looking to haunt. 100 years after a ship mysteriously disappeared and sank, the spirits are back. The people of this small town must take a look at their history to stop this serious problem. One of Jon Carpenters many horror masterpieces here.

The Fog is rated R. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-fog-1980/id707558494

Ghost Ship – 2002 

Ghost Ship Movie Poster

A 1962 passenger ship that has been lost for many years is soon discovered. This ship was floating in an isolated area of the Bering Sea. It was believed that all the passengers had died until further discovery has shown otherwise. The crew that discovered this long-lost ship is in for a huge surprise when the original crew of the boat is still on board…. in a supernatural sort of way.

https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Ghost-Ship/9750

Death Ship- 1980 

Death Ship Horror Movie Poster

Going on vacation on a modern-day cruise could have you thinking twice. A ghostly-looking ship rams into the cruise ship. The passengers aboard the cruise ship who survive climb to this large vessel. The survivors soon discover that it is a Nazi torture vessel from World War II. They soon realize that they were better off dead than on this new ship.

https://tubitv.com/movies/454503/death_ship?utm_source=google-feed&tracking=google-feed

Triangle- 2009 

Triangle Horror Movie Poster

Nothing is better than a group of friends on a yacht… Until they are in an incident that leaves their yacht upturned. Luckily, they find a cruise ship that was drifting in the open sea. However, soon after climbing aboard this ship, they realize they were better off floating on their capsized yacht.

https://tubitv.com/movies/480291/triangle?utm_source=google-feed&tracking=google-feed

Deep Rising – 1998 

deep rising horror movie poster

Hijacking a luxury ocean liner is not an easy task, however, it is made even more difficult when you are faced with some pretty crazy creatures. Hijackers are looking to loot this luxury ship, however, they soon discover that they are not the only ones that have taken over the vessel. They are faced with man-eating creatures. 

https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Deep-Rising/13317

Below -2002 

Below Horror Movie Poster

An encounter that occurs between two world war II vessels soon becomes the perfect camouflage for paranormal activities to begin. There are not that many submarine horror flicks out there so this one goes on the list simply for picking a new vessel.  

https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Below/31486

Mary – 2019

Mary Horror Movie Poster

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5834854/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_10

An empty sailboat is found adrift at sea and is brought into port. When the owners cannot be located it goes to auction. Unwittingly a fishing boat captain buys it to restore and start his dream business charting tourists on the new sailboat. He sets sail on it’s maiden voyage with his family only to find out it has a haunted past.

A Collection of Dreamscapes – Haunting Horror Poems

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I don’t read nearly enough poetry, and I review even less of it. In fact, only recently was it brought to my attention that “dark poetry” is a sub-genre (and one that I need more of in my life). For readers like me Christina Sng’s A Collection of Dreamscapes is the perfect introduction into this macabre literary form!

This absorbing and haunting collection of poems is grouped into five sections: The Love Song of Allegra, Fairy Tales, All the Monsters in the World, The Capacity of Violence, and Myths and Dreamscapes. Below I will give some brief thoughts on each section.

The Love Song of Allegra

This section contains 17 poems that give us glimpses into a fantasy world of war, betrayal, and revenge. It’s a creation myth, oral history, action/adventure story, and epic battle of good vs evil (or humans vs demons) all rolled into one and set nicely in the same vein as traditional classic myths and legends. At its core is a violent, gruesome, and vivid tale of vengeance, and I like how the poems mostly focus on specific characters and scenes, while also hinting at the larger world/story surrounding them. My only complaint is I wanted to know more about this world, these characters (like the warrior Mephala or Margritte, the daughter of fire and ice), and what all happens next. Some favorites include “The Child Who Would Be Queen, “The King Who Became a Sycophant,” and “Lifegiver”.

Fairy Tales

This section contains 15 poems that all function as sorts of “fractured” fairy tales, based on stories we know and love, but with twists and dark deviations. There’s Little Red Riding Hood, whose first encounter with the wolf launches her young career as a monster hunter, a toughened orphan facing werewolves and much more. There’s Beauty, who becomes mother to Rapunzel, and the Beast, who devolves into an abusive husband. There’s the continuation of this tale where Rapunzel escapes captivity to hunt down her father and seek her revenge. And there are plenty more dark parodies to enjoy, including versions of Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, and an intriguing and humorous twist on “Snow White” that has been updated to modern times and technology. Some favorites include “Snow,” “Always a Beast,” and “Beauty Sleeps for a Century”.

All the Monsters in the World

This section contains 15 poems about, unsurprisingly, monsters. However what is surprising is just how tender, beautiful, and forlorn some of the poems are. Sng explores our conception of what a monster is and examines the term from every angle. There is much variety here, be the cruel creatures human or otherwise. The stories shift perspective and some of the most interesting poems are the ones that are written from the point of view of the monster, causing us to feel an empathy we might not have otherwise. It was in this section that I really began to think of Sng’s magical ability to hook us in and engage with just a single poem, springing characters and circumstances to life in a matter of lines. I also noticed the author’s tendency (and joy) at placing some sort of twist or “reveal” at the end of her poems. Some favorites include “The Monsters Within,” “Memoirs in the Dark,” “Concepts,” and “Into the Tall Grass”. 

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The Capacity of Violence

This section contains 17 poems of grim and ghastly brutality. Though previous sections have contained violence, the ante is certainly upped in this segment. There’s a variety of perspectives, from victim to bystander to captor to killer, and the acts of violence are carried out in numerous ways. Cruelty is committed by loved ones, by random aggressors, and even by the recently deceased. There are stories of sacrifice and stories of being scarified. A running motif seeks to answer the questions What will we do to protect the ones we love? and What lengths will we go to seek revenge?. Some favorites include “Mortal Life,” “The Deer,” “The Tooth Collector,” and “A Future Without Fear”.

Myths and Dreamscapes

This final section contains 20 poems that are, admittedly, hard to categorize (as perhaps the title would imply). They are tales that span time and space. Tales of creation and destruction, of chaos and rebirth. They incorporate characters and events from Greek mythology, fantastical dreamworlds, and new and exciting lands of adventure. The stories are woven by a connective thread of journeys, exploration, and the desire to escape (by choice or by necessity) to a better place. Some favorites include “Starlight, “Future World,” and “The New World”.

A Collection of Dreamscapes horror poetry cover

A Collection of Dreamscapes is an excellent collection of poetry, full of poems that are worth reading over and over. Needless to say the beautifully descriptive language and fervent imagination of the author make for wonderful stories. Their cruelty, brutality, and violence clearly put the collection as a whole in the category of “dark poetry,” but that’s not to say there aren’t also stories of grace, love, and redemption. Christina Sng is a master at getting right to your heartstrings, whether the poem is an epic narrative or a short snippet of a particular moment. My only real complaint is that I’m often left hanging and wanting to know more about the characters and worlds that are being created only to end several stanzas later (that and the fact that occasionally some poems come across a little too formulaic/generic). But I still highly recommend this, and I think there’s a little something everyone could enjoy as the collection overall has a wonderful blend of style, stories, and genres.

A Collection of Dreamscapes is available now from Raw Dog Screaming Press.

A Common Crime – Psychological Thriller

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A Common Crime (2021) is the new Argentinian psychological thriller with supernatural elements from director Francisco Márquez. Having not seen his directorial debut The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis (2016), I went into this piece relatively blind, albeit interested in the Argentine perspective of what a grounded horror/thriller should be. What I didn’t expect was that the film might reignite memories of one of my favorite, though sadly most neglected, directors.

From its opening scenes A Common Crime permeates a sparse realism that, while inducing a mild anxiety, also for me echoes the subtle and meticulous stylings of Austrian virtuoso Michael Haneke. With majority diegetic sound and very little music, viewers are made to feel a part of the world they are watching, that is if they can get past the apparent ‘slowness’ that it shares with Haneke’s work. Long, rigorous camera takes allow each scene and the performances within them to breathe, and the result is absolutely hypnotic. 

The plot is simple enough; sociology teacher Cecilia (Elisa Carricajo) has a maid whose son is constantly harassed by the police. One night Cecilia awakens to the boy knocking frantically at her door. Fear takes over and she merely hides in the shadows as some vague struggle seems to occur. When the boy shows up dead the next day Cecilia is plunged into a personal hell of paranoia and self-blame. Clear and definite themes of guilt and grief are explored within the tight, oddly-claustrophobic framing of Márquez’s world. Subtlety and detail are offered in bucketloads, along with a surprising amount of atmosphere from such a dark and restrained story.

That being said, this is no by-the-numbers thriller. Borderline experimental in presentation, you’d honestly be forgiven for growing tired of the repetitive psychological episodes A Common Crime descends into, or at least for hoping for some kind of payoff at the end of it all. That expectation came to me from repeated past viewings of Haneke’s beautifully bland stylings which almost always involved some kind of heavy shock punishment for letting his work seep into you. While trying to navigate the minefield of spoiler-free reviewing I can only say I was left with a confused, perhaps a little concerned, expression as the credits began to roll on this one. It took until the ending for me to realise that A Common Crime was nothing like I had expected. This is, on the one hand, a testament to its mesmerising nature, though that nature was primarily the thing which left me feeling lost on more than one occasion. 

A Common Crime movie poster featuring a woman screaming

Rather than make a full-blown psychological horror, Márquez shows a lot of discipline and moderation. A Common Crime sticks to it’s drama-fuelled thriller territory while using classic horror tools to enrich the presentation of its story. While most scares are longer-running and based around reactions, any up-front chills attack within enough space to enhance their effect. Even the score felt more dreamy than dread-inducing. That being said, the parts come together quite effectively as a whole. The unease I felt during its run time did reach that of films such as Hagazussa (2017) and Krisha (2015), as it relies more on its commitment to an uncanny feeling of irregularity that admirably holds up to the very end. 

A Common Crime is an honest, bold and intellectual drama which teeters on thriller territory in plot alone. Keeping enough to its chest to allow its mystery to envelop the viewer, it thrives in its own quiet world with barely an enhancement from clever editing or sound tricks, which in itself is an accomplishment. It may not be quite what you’re looking for, but give it time to sink in and you’ll be wanting more like it in a heartbeat.

At The Mountains of Madness – Illustrated

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Francois Baranger’s illustrated version of HP Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, blown up to double its impact, rings out in the ears as if echoing from the highest snowy peak. This is only Volume 1 and for someone like me who has never indulged in this particular tale, it’s quite the cliffhanger. The line could easily be self-referencial of much of Lovecraft’s work, in that a lot of the ‘cosmic-horror’ that he coined and regularly explored relies heavily on the imagination of the reader. As I mentioned in a previous article on visualizing cosmic-horror in film, adding any form of physical imagery to Lovecraft’s work often poses the risk of detracting from its intended effect. That is, thankfully, not the case here. 

Imagination could conceive almost anything in connexion with this place.

H.P. Lovecraft – At The Mountains of Madness

The first thing to notice is the size of the At The Mountains of Madness Illustrated book, released by Free League Publishing. A hardback at 26x36cm, displaying the beautiful and atmospheric artwork of Baranger, has an obvious air of quality; a first glance bringing hopes that it only echoes the scale and majesty held within. It might be considered impractical by those wanting to read anywhere other than a desk, but the thing holds an intrinsic weight that makes your perusal all the richer. A foreword by Maxime Chattam compares the tale to the icy horrors of The Thing (1982) which, again for a first time reader, was rather exciting. 

Before reading I was asked by a friend, “Does he picture the monstrosities at the camp?” Of course I had no idea to which monstrosities he was referring, though it was a question I kept coming back to while wading through the heavy descriptions of the first few pages. Well-placed illustrations aid the flow of the story greatly, as well as some resizing of sentences for emphasis that helps bring home the point of many of Lovecraft’s ramblings without feeling cartoonish. Much of the artwork acts as flavouring, in the way sound effects and music would to an audiobook, and by the time the aforementioned monstrosities are encountered, and pictured vividly, it feels like a true horror payoff within an already interesting story of exploration. The things look incredible and prove Barangers skill and imagination to be far above that of simple docking ships and icy wastes, though these introductory scenes are inarguably stunning. 

Mountains of Madness art featuring people looking at alien bodies under tarps in the snow

While I can’t compare to the simple text-only format of this particular story, I can somewhat to other stories in Lovecraft’s oeuvre, and here the imagery is a refreshing and welcome addition. While I fully believe that the power of Lovecraft’s monsters exists in our inability to comprehend them on a physical level, seeing the big slimy nasties in this case puts us much closer to the mentality of the poor souls at the dig site. 

Baranger’s art expertly treads a tightrope between detail and atmosphere, displaying a degree of realism that should by rights be impossible to achieve alongside the sense of wonder permeating each piece. The more you look, the more layers reveal themselves within portraits of sunset-drenched mountaintops, views of meetings through frosted cabin windows and some sparse yet effectively-placed gore including the harrowing scene of a man’s bust-open chest. These aren’t simple accompaniments but integral parts in this telling of Lovecraft’s tale, inserted with intent to aid the reader’s immersion but also to stand as their own pieces, rich and textured. 

At The Mountains of Madness – Illustrated Book Cover

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At The Mountains of Madness Illustrated Cosmic Horror Book Cover

The story itself is fantastic. A classic, even by Lovecraft’s standards. His style can be long-winded and hard to fall into for some, though this works for his longer pieces such as this one. The themes of exploration and the wonder it conjures were perfect to set up the icy horrors in the mountains; as the many details of the expedition are reeled off one can’t help but feel the excitement of it all. The overload of information, once pushed through, leads on to discoveries vivid and startling, made all the more realistic by their precursing pages. Lovecraft has the ability, mainly through his grounded and earthly first acts, to make readers begin to question just what, if any, horror (as we now know it) will be about to occur. This makes the subsequent deaths, tentacled abominations and nightmarish icy wastes that much more impactful and unexpected. All of this is helped greatly by purposeful and well-thought-out text formatting, mainly being some upsized sentences which add a great deal of weight to occurrences and help break up some of HP’s longer esoteric rants. 

A lot of the issues with visualizing Lovecraft’s elder beings are in no way as apparent here as within the realms of film and television. This particular undertaking allows the story itself, beholder of all of the real power here, to remain the focal point while all additions serve as flavor and make the whole ordeal that much more vivid and evocative. The mind still builds on these images, just as it would visualize on a story while reading. I absolutely must know what happens next in this tale, though I will wait to purchase the second volume of this version rather than find the classic story in a collection I own. That should say it all. 

Best Body Horror Movies

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Body horror movies are films that focus specifically on trauma, mutation, mental deterioration, and illnesses that occur in the human body. Some of these processes are natural, while others are inflicted. Movies that fall into this genre are typically gross, morbidly fascinating, and outright alarming, and the reason they are so effective is because they concern aspects of living we all can relate to: our physical and mental health. It’s quite horrifying when something invades, violates, and/or transforms our conceptions of who we are.

Though the term “body horror” is relatively new in the world of horror, there is thankfully no shortage of examples in film. The list below constitutes some of the best in the genre, along with a dozen other recommendations (and though David Cronenburg’s ouevre could be a list of its own, we did limit him to two films here to allow other movies to shine). 

Check out Puzzle Box Horror’s best movies about body horror!

Possessor (2020)

Possessor body Horror film poster

Tasya Vos is an assassin working for a high-tech secret organization. This organization uses brain implants to sync her mind up with another, giving her control over someone else’s body in order to commit the murder and leave them behind as a scapegoat. That’s already pretty freaky stuff, but then things take an even darker turn when her latest host regains control over their mind/body. There are several layers of disturbing body horror happening here – loss of control, blackouts, possession, transformation – and it’s all very dramatic and unsettling. Possessor is directed by Brandon Cronenburg (of Antiviral fame), and stars Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott.

American Mary (2012)

American Mary Horror Movie poster with woman and chainsaw

Mary is upset because the high tuition costs at medical school are thwarting her dreams of becoming a surgeon. But things take a turn when she performs impromptu surgery at a strip club, and then they take another turn when people being paying her to alter their bodies and introduce her to the world of extreme body modification. Not only are there numerous graphic scenes of highly illegal body modifications, but there is also a revenge storyline involving Bloody Mary and the man who raped her. The film verges on torture porn levels, but it’s also highly intriguing in its subversiveness. American Mary is directed by the Soska Sisters and stars Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, and Tristan Risk.

Teeth (2007)

Teeth Body Horror Movie

We often feel as strangers to our own bodies during adolescence (thanks puberty), but Teeth takes this concept to a strange new level. Dawn suffers from a rare condition, referred to in the film as “vagina dentate” or “vagina teeth”, that makes physical intimacy with another impossible. But when a shocking and nonconsensual encounter awakens her violent side, she realizes she can use her condition to take revenge on other bad man. Heads up for those with male reproductive organs, this is a tough one to watch. It’s also a bleak and unsettling coming of age tale told through emotional performances and streaks of dark comedy. Teeth is directed by Mitchell Lichtensteina and stars Jess Weixler.

Slither (2006)

Slither horror movie poster with worms and lady in a bathtub

A small town in South Carolina is invaded by a malicious alien parasite that immediately infects someone and spawns numerous larvae offspring. These new parasites continue the trend, turning their unsuspecting hosts in all manner of mutated grotesqueries and forming a large hive mind. It’s up to a ragtag group of survivors, led by Police Chief Bill Pardy, to stop the spread before the whole town goes under. The film manages to be both extremely disgusting and extremely hilarious. This blend of alien invasion and body horror is certainly an example of horror comedy at its finest, and it’s filled to the brim with blood, goo, and gross-out scenes. Slither is directed by James Gunn (right?!) and stars Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks.

Society (1990)

Society Horror Movie Poster with woman taking her face off

Bill is a teenager who lives with his wealthy family in Beverly Hills. Bill has always felt a little different from his sister and parents, who subscribe to the upper class elite mentality, and he begins to wonder if there is something darker going on behind the scenes. A series of strange events lead up to a shocking conclusion where all of Bill’s fears will be revealed. Like some of the other films on this list, Society is a movie with something to say. Sure, it’s not very subtle in its satirical take on wealthy urbanites, but it’s certainly memorable (especially that last orgy scene…). Society is directed by Brian Yuzna and stars Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, and Evan Richards.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Iron Man body Horror Movie Poster

A man and his girlfriend are driving when they accidentally hit and kill another man. They begin having strange visions and noticing horrifying changes to their bodies. Turns out the man they killed was a metal fetishist who is taking his revenge by turning them into a monstrous mesh of man and machine. This film, with its abstract narrative and soundtrack of scraping metal, certainly falls into the avant-garde style of experimentation. This black-and-white cyperpunk nightmare is also one of the wildest movies you’ll ever experience. It begins with a man shoving a metal rod into a cut in his leg, and then it just escalates from there. Tetsuo: The Iron Man is directed by Shinya Tsukamoto and stars Tomorowo Taguchi and Kei Fujiwara.

The Fly (1986)

The Fly Horror Movie Poster

A brilliant scientist finds his world turned upside down when a failed experiment mixes his genes with that of a common fly. This freak encounter leads to a slow and painful transformation for the scientist. The grotesque scenes of mutation are as haunting as they are harrowing for the man and his loved ones. The film, a remake of an earlier movie from the 1950s, takes its source material and elevates it to higher levels of emotion, anxiety, and terror. The film has also become a classic in its own right, especially in the world of sci-fi horror, and is likely the director’s most well-known mainstream movie. The Fly is directed by David Cronenburg and stars Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and John Getz.

The Thing (1982)

The Thing John Carpenter Horror Movie Poster with alien man

In a remote facility in Antartica, a research team is hunted by a bizarre alien life form that can transform its body to mimic other forms, in this case shapeshifting to assume the form of its victims. The plot of this film is simple and wastes no time in getting to the good stuff. The paranoia and body count runs high as the isolated research station is invaded and the team desperately tries to root out the evil and survive. The movie also has some of the best practical effects ever, making the many “wtf” moments that much more special. It’s bizarre, it’s gruesome, and it’s a whole lot of fun. The Thing is directed by John Carpenterand stars Kurt Russell as well as a great cast of supporting characters. 

Videodrome (1982)

Videodrome Body Horror movie poster with man floating

There’s a shocking new satellite feed airing on television called “Videodrome”, which depicts random people being sodomized, tortured, and murdered in various ways. The president of the TV station, Max Renn, becomes determined to find out who the creators are: a quest that will feature a wide variety of graphically deranged scenes and lead to his own psychological unhinging. It’s a body horror program within a body horror movie, full of the director’s emphasis on surrealism but loaded with even more gore. It also effectively blurs the line between reality and fantasy as it becomes something of a study on the genre itself. Videodrome is directed by David Cronenburg and stars James Woods, Debbie Harry, and Sonja Smits.

Honorable Mentions

Tusk (2014)
Antiviral (2012)
The Skin I Live In (2011)
Cabin Fever (2002)
Brain Damage (1988)
Hellraiser (1987)
From Beyond (1986)
Re-Animator (1985)
The Stuff (1985)
Possession (1981)
Eraserhead (1978)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

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