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Celebrating Black History Month: What we watched this February

In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to share some of the films we watched (or rewatched) recently that feature Black directors, stars, and stories. These movies include some powerful moments – some made us stop and think, some made us laugh, and some definitely brought the tears. As a podcast about horror and rom-coms, there are movies in both genres on this list (and some rom, hold the com). So buckle up for a weekend movie marathon and join us on this journey…

Horror 

Horror Noire (2019)

This documentary directed by Xavier Burgin is discussed a lot, and for good reason – it is so well done and one of the best documentaries we’ve watched recently. It traces the history of Black horror from the early days of filmmaking to the present moment. It includes both interviews and engaging conversations between filmmakers and actors like William Crain, Keith David, Loretta Devine, Tony Todd, Tina Mabry and Jordan Peele (among so many others) sharing their experiences with the horror genre and its history.

Tales from the Hood (1995)

Clarence Williams III is one of the best things to happen to planet Earth, so TALES FROM THE HOOD is getting a much-needed call-out. Williams plays a terrifying mortician who attempts to tell some teenagers scary stories to keep them from doing drugs. Directed by Rusty Cundieff, it’s a horror, comedy and drama rolled into one – and it’s 100% worth the watch. Spike Lee also produced this film, giving it extra points in our book.

Get Out (2017)

Writer and director Jordan Peele’s thought-provoking horror film was the talk of the town after its release in 2017. Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris, a young Black man who meets his white girlfriend’s family for the first time and discovers a dark and horrifying secret. The film engages with themes of systemic racism, white saviorism, and complacency. And you’ll be thinking about it for long after the credits roll. It should go without saying that US is also a must-watch if you’re diving into a Peele marathon.

Blacula (1972)

If you watch HORROR NOIRE, you’ll get historical background on this blaxploitation horror film that has become a cult classic. In fact, director William Crain and star William Marshall are both featured in the documentary. In the film, an 18th-century African prince unsuccessfully asks Dracula’s help in ending slavery and is instead turned into a vampire who later reawakens in 1972 Los Angeles. BLACULA was one of the top-grossing films the year of its release, and it’s a must-see for horror fans.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

If you haven’t seen NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, stop what you’re doing right now and watch it. This low-budget film follows a group of Pennsylvanians trapped in a farmhouse trying to survive against a group of brain-hungry zombies. Duane Jones plays the main character Ben – one of the first times a Black actor was cast as the lead in a horror film. While the character’s race wasn’t specified in the script, director George Romero says of the casting that Jones was clearly the best actor to audition.

Rom (a little less com) 

Queen & Slim (2019)

Never will you cry so hard at a movie (or maybe that was just me the first time I saw it in a crowded movie theater – remember when we could go to those?) Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith give performances of a lifetime in this romance about a date that takes an unexpected turn after a police officer pulls over the couple. This is Melina Matsoukas’ feature directorial debut and the screenplay was written by Lena Waithe, who is pure genius.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Warning: get your tissues ready. Barry Jenkins’ film is based on the 1974 James Baldwin novel about a Harlem woman who seeks to clear the name of her partner who’s been wrongfully charged for a crime he did not commit. KiKi Layne and Stephan James give powerful performances in this story of love, struggle, innocence and systemic racism in America. Regina King (rambles about how much I love her) won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in this film.

Waiting to Exhale (1995)

We love this phenomenal depiction of female friendship and women discovering their worth and empowering themselves and each other along the way. I will watch any movie with Whitney Houston, and I would follow Angela Bassett into the sun, so this is a clear addition to the list. It’s also directed by actor Forest Whitaker (fun fact: he also directed the 2004 rom-com “First Daughter” starring Katie Holmes!) Spoiler: Bassett does light a car on fire in this film, and it’s glorious. Do not f#$! with these women.

Love & Basketball (2000) 

I was really into both love and basketball as a kid, so there was a period of time when I watched this movie once a day for many weeks. The film stars Sanaa Latham and Omar Epps, following their characters’ tumultuous relationship from childhood into adulthood, and we just love the ending so damn much. It was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (her directorial debut!).

She’s Gotta Have it (1986) 

Who doesn’t like options? This 1986 rom-com follows the story of one woman navigating life with three different lovers. Not only was this movie written, directed, and edited by Spike Lee, but he also acts in the film, and it’s noted as launching his career. This movie certainly plays with gender roles and flips them on their head a bit. This movie was also adapted into a Netflix series by Lee in 2017.

Need more? 

Keep the movie marathon going and check out these other great lists of films by Black creators.

Oprah Magazine
Game spot
Collider
LA Times

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How to Survive a Hallmark Holiday Movie

Hallmark Holiday Movie Survival Guide

Each December, we sit idly by as high-powered business executives throw their MBAs into festively decked fireplaces for love. The fallout from Hallmark holiday movies seems like somebody else’s problem. Sure, it happened to Erica, the New York City advertising exec, and Ashleigh, the out-of-work fashion journalist, but it could never happen to you.

That’s where you’re wrong. No one is safe from finding love at Christmastime, so it’s best you be prepared.

Familiarize yourself with this guide, or you may find yourself stranded in a remote village at the mercy of an altruistic innkeep, or worse, your hometown being low-key stalked by your high school sweetheart.

Scenario 1: You have a high profile job in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, and you’re offered a quick turnaround assignment in a quaint mountain town with a hard deadline of Christmas Eve.

Just say no. Work-life balance is so important, and it’s better to learn that now than after boarding a propeller plane to a regional airport in the middle of nowhere, falling in love with the heir to a local tree farm, and spending the rest of your life running the town’s year-round Christmas store.

If you must take the assignment, don’t panic. Panic may cause a slip on ice that will result in a severe head injury, which may in turn trigger a Christmas do-over. If this happens, you’ll likely awaken in the childhood bedroom you spent 18 years planning your escape from. But that’s a worst-case scenario. However, if it should occur, skip ahead to Scenario 3.

Scenario 2: You’ve received an elaborately handmade advent calendar whittled from balsam wood, or a series of unsigned cards addressed in perfect calligraphy.

Don’t open them. Douse them in gasoline, watch them burn, and toast the ashes with a cheerful mug of cocoa. Sure, it seems romantic, but door 23 likely contains a doll made from human hair. (Spoiler alert: it’s yours and it’s actually a tree topper! How festive.)

If the words “don’t open them” only made you more resolved to know your admirer’s secret identity, ask yourself: does your childhood best friend live nearby? You know, the one who never left home and won’t shut up about how it’s the BEST decision they ever made? It’s them. Congratulations. Board the first bus out of town before you end up spending your prime upselling reindeer tea cozies in the middle of June.

Scenario 3: You wake up in your childhood split-level in Minnesota when you fell asleep in a Manhattan highrise.

While your first thought might be to see a doctor for the traumatic brain injury you’ve likely suffered, if you’re in a Hallmark holiday movie, it’s too late for that now. Follow these directions carefully.

Find your high school sweetheart. If you don’t know how to reach them, look for clues in the easy-to-reach shoebox of photographs you keep under your bed even though it’s been roughly 20 years and you’ve moved five times.

Now pay attention, time is of the essence. It’s imperative you navigate this situation quickly so you can get yourself the medical attention you desperately need as you’re likely bleeding out on a patch of ice in Central Park.

First, admit every decision you’ve made in the last two decades has been wrong. You should never have left town to get an education. There are perfectly accredited business schools online! And sure, your current job is professionally fulfilling and comes with a great benefits package, but who needs vision and dental when you have love and a 50% stake in a store that only turns a profit 2 months a year.

Confess your mistake and you’ll wake up with a second chance at life – literally, you’re losing so much blood.

Scenario 4: You find yourself forced to spend time with an attractive work colleague who is your exact opposite.*

(*You’re a Type A all work-no play caricature of a person with a tendency towards thick-rimmed fashion glasses, a high pony, and brushing your teeth with military precision until your gums bleed.)

Quit your job. You can learn to let your hair down without spending 90 minutes plus commercials babysitting a charismatic 35-year-old who never learned how alarm clocks work – even though you’re both up for the same promotion.

If your strong work ethic won’t allow for you to carelessly quit without notice, brace yourself. Unfortunately, the Hyundai Sonata product placement wasn’t a great choice during a holiday blizzard and the two of you will be trapped at a rustic inn with only one room left. Be forewarned, a “no rooms left at the inn” joke will tempt you to sleep in the car.

QUICK. Ask them about the college ex who left them at the altar last Christmas so you can cut to the part where they become a relatable human being. But let’s be honest, the simple act of them having one emotion paired with the stress of being snowed-in a 200-year-old converted barn in the middle of nowhere while trying to make a midnight work deadline is enough to heighten anyone’s emotions. Marry them, it might work out.

Scenario 5: You’re attracted to a mall Santa.

‘Tis the damn season! But, if you’re in a Hallmark Christmas movie, it’s likely they’re the real Santa – which comes with a whole new set of problems. Relocation to the North Pole, fewer job prospects, premature aging, Christmas Eve deadlines every year for the rest of your life. Don’t make any commitments until December 26th, when the holiday spirit fades and you realize he’s more or less an overgrown child who’s married to their job and doesn’t properly groom their facial hair.

CONGRATS! With our help, you’ve made it to the New Year alone! You’ve successfully avoided becoming another cautionary tale.

A Cautionary Christmas. Coming to Hallmark December 2021.

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Happily Ever Slasher Goes to Summer Camp

This summer, Happily Ever Slasher is going to camp! You know we love a theme. And since we’re spending this summer mostly indoors and six feet away from other people, we couldn’t think of anything more the opposite of that than summer camp.

Ahh throwing a dozen pre-teens in varying stages of puberty together in tiny poorly ventilated cabins crammed with bunk beds – what could go wrong?! And don’t get us started on the food. But turns out movies LIE and the real-life summer camp dining experience rarely dissolves into cafeteria-wide food fights.

Every episode, we compare one rom-com and one horror movie to find out just how much they have in common – and turns out there are A LOT of movies in both genres set at camp. Note: not all of the movies we’ve chosen take place at camp – our criteria was one film per episode. But two of our pairings even offer up double features of summer camp goodness!

The prevalence of camp in both rom-coms and horror makes sense if you think about it. Summer camps are full of promise and opportunities for young love to blossom, but they also give a questionable amount of responsibility to teen counselors tasked with keeping tabs on a whole lot of small children.

So we chose some of our favorite camp classics – FRIDAY THE 13TH and THE PARENT TRAP – for a camp mash-up of the good, the bad, and the absolutely terrifying.  We for sure missed a lot of others, so if we didn’t get to your fave camp movie, please share and we’ll do this again next summer. (NOTE: We had an episode on SLEEPAWAY CAMP and LITTLE DARLINGS that was lost. We’re still not over it, but will definitely be revisiting.)

The episodes:

Friday the 13th* and Wet Hot American Summer*

Us and The Parent Trap*

Lord of the Flies and Camp Nowhere* 

*Camp movies!

Going to summer camp in a movie is LIFE CHANGING. From coming of age at Camp Little Wolf to reuniting with your long-lost twin sister at Camp Walden to being prey to a camp killer at Camp Crystal Lake, camp always results in a summer you won’t soon forget. Unless you’re one of the aforementioned killers’ victims…

So defrost those corn dogs that expired in 2017, put on your best 80s short shorts and join us as we head to camp.

Let us know which camp-themed episode was your favorite by finding us on Instagram @HappilyEverSlasher or emailing us at happilyeverslasher [at] gmail [dot] com. And if you like what you hear, please rate or review us wherever you listen – it really helps!