Movie review: Valentine (2001)

Valentine 2001

Synopsis: A group of school friends find themselves hunted by a Valentine-sending, masked killer.

Director: Bruce McDonald

Starring: David Boreanez, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton

Review: I originally watched this as a huge fan of Boreanez (I was massively into Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the time). It was part of a glut of similar movies (including Urban Legend, the ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer series, and Scream to name a few) starring semi-well-know actors who were all murdered in various ways by mysterious killers.

The premise is much the same for all these movies: a group of friends has a shared history, during which they caused harm to someone, in this instance the group of girls were rude to a young boy ‘Jeremy Melton’, who comes back years later to exact his revenge.

There’s little to make this movie stand out (unless you’re a fan of Boreanez). The performances are fairly standard, with Richards playing the over-sexed vixen she seems to have been type-cast as, Broeanez playing it pretty similar to his Angel character and Shelton seeming to be permanently annoyed (possibly for agreeing to do this movie). None of the characters are particularly nice, especially the assorted males who hit on the girls – they’re overtly lechy, rude and unprofessional that it’s unbelievable and you sort of wish the killer would do us all a favour and ‘off’ them so save us their performances. As for the girl, it’s hard to see why their friendship as survived, as aside from attending parties together, they don’t have any camaraderie, so really it’s just a matter of waiting to see what way they’ll be murdered. Valentine is sadly not a gift for your loved one, but like a bad date, once it’s over, you never need to see it again.

Women in Horror Month: Terrifying Treats

It’s Pancake Day! I LOVE pancakes and we don’t have them just once a year here in Casa CH. Hubby and I don’t disagree on much, but the best type of pancake is something about which we can’t agree. I prefer the thinner crepe style, whereas hubby likes the fluffy American stacks. We’ve agreed to disagree given that any pancake is a yummy pancake.

I used a cookie cutter to create feet, then added strawberry ‘claws’

This year I wanted to do something in combination with Women In Horror Month so I tried to create shapes from the pancake batter, then use fruit for some added details. Not going to lie, I did use a cookie cutter for some shapes and tried to be creative, with mixed results. Luckily the toddler enjoyed them all and wasn’t too scared of her food!

Not too sure what this monster is with tentacles and large banana teeth

Pancakes are pretty simple to make and I like this recipe for crepes from the BBC Good Food site.

Make It Monday: Galentine’s Day Cards

Have any of you ever watched ‘Parks and Recreation’? There are a lot of things I love about this show but mostly The depiction of female friendships. Yes, Leslie Knoppe, played by the stunning Amy Poehler, is insanely positive but the support and kindness she shows her girlfriends is more reflective of the relationships I have with my dearest friends than that shown in other TV shows. One thing I really loved in Parks and Rec was the episode where Knoppe and her girlfriends celebrate ‘Galentine’s Day’, a day to celebrate the love you have for your friends just before you celebrate the love you have for your Valentine.

Poehler, along with her friend Meridith Walker, started a foundation ‘Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls’ and there are loads of fun experiments and things to do on there (the Lamb and I recently did the ‘geodes in an eggshell’ experiment but more on that another day) as well as loads of Galentine’s Day cards.

I’m blessed to have some fantastic friends who have supported me through the good & bad. For some, I wanted to create something a little elegant, so bought some laser cut flowers and birds which I coloured using gel pens. I then pulled out my calligraphy pens and attempted to whip my normally atrocious handwriting into something respectable. They turned out quite well I think and certainly, the girls all loved them.

However, I had some very geeky friends for whom birds and flowers just won’t cut it so I created some more tongue-in-cheek cards, more in keeping with the ideas of ‘Women in Horror Month‘.

I’ve always loved witches, as you can see in my Witch Wednesday post and truly believe that god friends create magic when they’re together. We have the ability to build each other up, and in doing so empower ourselves and others. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.  I was pleased with how the hat on this card turned up and will attempt this calligraphy style again.

I felt I needed a ‘Frankenstein‘ style card to honour Mary Shelley, but obviously with a Galentine’s twist. I didn’t want to use ‘Frankenstein’s monster so even though Shelley didn’t write the ‘Bride‘ character, I hope she would forgive me for using her here. I’ve also been working to create a little ‘girl’ character I can transfer to a few other projects and so was really pleased with how Frankenstein’s Bride turned out. I’m sure she’ll be making an appearance on assorted other creations of mine.

This was a really fun card to make. So many of my friends support my creative endeavours:  through sharing my work, buying it, leaving reviews, or even just telling me its good on those days I ‘wobble’ and question my skills. I’ve long been a fan of ‘Red Sonja‘ and have had a number of conversations about the impracticality of her ‘armour’ so knew I had to feature it. I have a number of friends who LARP so I’m sure they’ll appreciate this card.

Did you send any Galentine’s Day cards? How did you celebrate? Let me know in the comments below.


How are you all enjoying ‘Women in Horror Month’? I am really enjoying celebrating women writers, directors and more, as well as having my socks scared off daily!  As part of my daily challenge, here is my ghostly short story ‘Reborn’.


He tried his best to contain his excitement as the small bundle was pushed into the cave, but the little squeal that started deep in his stomach burst past what passed for his lips, alerting the others. Soon, seven little ghosts were looking at the dozing baby, wrapped in thick woollen blankets to stave off the chill of the cave.

‘A baby,’ whispered one of the ghosts, slowing stretching one of her rainbow coloured tentacles towards it. She screeched as the stinger of one of her companions penetrated the tentacle. The rainbow colours rapidly dulled to black and it hung uselessly against her gelatinous body.

‘Don’t touch that child,’ her attacker warned. He was shaped like a foot, with three large toes, each with a sharp stinger on the end.

A third ghost moved between them, his two frilled antennae gently separating Rainbow and Toes. The antennae were attached to a spherical, clear body in which bobbed an ever watchful eye. The Watcher spun his antennae gracefully upwards, mindful not to touch the dripping walls of the cave.

‘Now, we must not disturb the child until the decision is made.’ His eye spun and one of his antennae whipped out at one of the ghosts who dared get too close to the child.

A bell-shaped ghost edged towards the group. He rippled as he spoke, the oily surface of his skin reflecting what little light penetrated the cave, ‘But which of us is it to be?’

Rainbow swatted the Watcher’s antennae away and drifted closer to the child, the others ready to pounce on her if she touched the pink, warm skin. ‘It should be me. My son needs me,’ she said, her voice breaking a little.

Bellringer pulsed as he laughed, ‘Your son’s been dead for generations, you stupid witch. Your pathetic attempts at magic were no more effective than that fools attempt to kill a god.’

The antennae folded around the Watcher. ‘I would have killed him, had I have had more men,’ he huffed.

A worm-shaped ghost with a spotted crest inched closer. ‘Your army was washed away by the same god you were trying to kill.’ Her crest quivered as she giggled.

‘His plan was no more ludicrous than taking a life just so you can keep your bath filled,’ a small, furry ghost muttered.

The Worm writhed angrily. ‘You mock me? I was trying to keep my youth. You were taking body parts to try to rebuild your deceased mother. That’s ludicrous,’ she shrilled.

The ghosts froze as the walls of the cave shifted, dislodging stones, dust and salt residue that the dripping water left behind. Several of the ghosts cried out as the salt hit them, causing their skin to sizzle and peel.

‘Be quiet,’ hissed a diamond-shaped ghost, the small spikes which covered his body clicking in agitation. ‘Any more loud noises will kill us all.’

The ghosts watched in silence as the dust slowly floated down, each all too aware of the nature of their prison. Only when the constant dripping of the water from the walls had resumed and the last particles of dust had hit the floor did they dare to speak.

‘The child is mine,’ proclaimed the Watcher, ‘I have had time to realise my mistakes and will not make them again.’

‘Which mistake is that? Attempting to kill a water god by stabbing the water?’ mocked Bellringer.

The Watcher snorted. ‘No. I need more men. Then, I’ll kill the water gods.’

Toes flexed his toes and flicked out his stingers. ‘Pah! You talk of killing a god. I plan to resurrect one! I was one kill away from my thirteenth and then my dark lord would have arisen from his fiery pit.’

‘It should be me,’ said the Worm. ‘I meant no harm, merely to bring beauty to the world. My beauty.’ Her crest rippled, the spots reflecting the dull light.

The hairs on Fuzzball bristled. ‘No! I should go. Mother needs me,’ he whined. The Watcher slapped Fuzzball with one of his antennae, sending him spinning dangerously close to the salt-covered walls. Fuzzball hissed in anger but dared not move closer to the group.

‘I had ‘em running scared, those filthy whores. Let me go back so I can finish the job. I can still remember the feeling as my knife gutted ‘em. Gotta cleanse the streets. Vermin they are, running around spreading disease every time they spread their legs. I’ll slice ‘em up real pretty with my knife.’

‘Please, you don’t understand. My son is at war and I need to keep him safe. If I continue making the sacrifices, he comes home to me,’ begged Rainbow.

The ghosts huddled together, arguing. Their movements causing a blur of colours until it was difficult to discern one from the other.

A short, sharp whistle brought them all to a stop and they turned to see Diamond-spike floating near the dripping wall.

‘You pathetic creatures. You argue and fight for the right to be reborn, for your petty beliefs or desires. You all want a chance to return and continue doing whatever ridiculous thing it was that got you sent here. But me? I was born evil they said, never had a chance to go topside.’

‘You mean, you’ve never….’ Rainbow trailed off.

‘If you’ve never been up there, then what right do you have to claim the child?’ demanded Toes.

Diamond-Spike spun lazily, his spikes grazing the wall but he didn’t flinch as the salt burned his skin. A slash of a grin appeared on one side of his body. ‘I seen a lot of your types come and go. All have their reasons for killing, for pleasure, for pain, their gods to serve or sacrifice. Some got ideas about purifying their race, others about keeping loved ones alive. But me?’ Diamond-Spike let the question hang in the air between him and the other ghosts. The others drew closer to him, eager to know his reasons for being sent to the cave. Diamond-Spike’s grin grew larger.

‘But me?’ he repeated, ‘I got a plan.’

He spun, flinging the droplets of salty water which had accumulated on his spikes at the other ghosts. They all howled and screamed as their bodies began to smoke.

Diamond-Spike floated down to the baby who had begun to stir with all the noise. The child gazed at the tiny speck which bobbed in front of its eyes. However, it let out a scream as Diamond-Spike forced himself inside its nose. The child thrashed its chubby arms around as a small droplet of blood dribbled from its nose and across its face. As quickly as it had started crying, it stopped, its blue eyes turning to black with tiny blood-red flecks. A thin grin spread across the baby’s face and it disappeared leaving the other ghosts in complete darkness.


If you enjoyed this short story, check out to my other free fiction. Feel free to add links to your short stories below or on my Facebook page.

Movie Review: The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook movie poster 2014

Synopsis: A widow and her son battle with an evil entity in their home. Don’t invite in the Babadook!

Director: Jennifer Kent

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman

Review: I first watched the Babadook when my daughter was first born and I remember being terrified. I couldn’t watch it all in one sitting and had to watch the rest during the day whilst the baby slept as I was too scared to watch it at night.

So, I wondered how I would feel, watching it nearly four years later with the benefit of dealing with my own little bundle of trouble (although thankfully no Babadook!).

Well, I was still terrified! In many respects, my situation is completely opposite to that of Davis’ character but I have a definite feel for the exhaustion felt by a mother when you’ve got a child who hasn’t slept for an extended period, coupled with the demands of a job, keeping house and all the other pressures both external and internal.

Davis has rightly been lauded as she gives a fantastically nuanced performance of an exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed single mother caring for a troubled child whilat also grieving for her husband. Her character is trying to manage so many things without support from her family, no real friends and a child with very specific needs. Her son, played by Wiseman also deserves huge praise for excelling is a very challenging role. I’m always impressed with child actors who are able to display a maturity in their performance well beyond their years and should he continue to follow an acting path, then I expect we’ll see more stellor performances from him.

However, the kudos belongs to writer and director Kent.  This project was born from a 10minute short caleed ‘Monster‘ she wrote and directed. Nearly ten years later the story was still nagging at her and she expanded it to create ‘The Babadook’. Kent’s other credits include directing an episode of a TV show, acting and producing. She truly has a rounded knowledge of the industry and this is evident with the slick delivery of ‘The Babadook’.

From the first instant, the movie has you on edge and it doesn’t release you until the final few scenes. Kent’s use of different colours to signify moods works well, with the bright sunlight of time spent outside in contrast to the blues and greys of their home. This lighting lends itself well to the scary scenes which are light enough to see the action, unlike some horror movies where I have no idea who is running in terror etc as it’s too dark to see anything.

The script, for the most part, is sharply written and Kent’s observations of looking after a child, as well as pressures placed on parents both by society and themselves are dealt with well. The scene where the group of mums are sympathising with Davis’ ‘Amelia’ whilst also silently judging her is spot on and something I know a lot of mothers have endured. Amelia’s isolation in this scene, reflected both in the fact that the colour of her dress is different to the muted colours of the ‘popular’ mum gang, as well as having her seated whilst the other mums are standing at the opposite end of the table is a scene which has stuck in my memory. It’s not overtly horrific but it’s one of the more run-of-the-mill daily encounters which resonated with me, and one which I experienced more the second time I watched it because like ‘Amelia’ I’ve had to find my voice to stand up to others who have judged my parenting style.

It’s an intimate movie in many ways, with the bulk just playing out between Davis and Wiseman. Keeping other characters at arms length works well to help build up the tension of what lurks in the house as well as the sense of isolation felt by ‘Amelia’. The creepiness of the book as well as the lack of explantion as to where the Babadook comes from is works well. Sometimes the over-explanation of where the ‘big bad’ is from slows down the pacing and doesn’t add anything so it’s lack allows speculation and for the viewer to create their own scary ideas.

Overall, I loved this movie. There were a few minor niggles I had but then, everyone’s a critic and they didn’t stop me from enjoying this movie. It’s one I’ll definitely be watching again, although hopefully not from behind a pillow!

If you’ve enjoyed this review, have a look at the other movies I’ve reviewed.

Women in Horror Month: Favourite Book

It’s always tricky asking my friends for book recommendations. Knowing a lot of writers, reviewers and book lovers, I know if I ask for a recommendation I’ll open floodgates of books. I wrote a post about my ‘12 Favourite Books‘ and the minute I posted it I had my friends reminding me of so many other good books I had left off my list!

I spoke about Mildred Hubble and ‘The Worst Witch‘ (written by Jill Murphy) as part of Witch Wednesday yesterday. I really loved those books growing up. It was definitely my first experience of ‘fantasy’ and allowed me an escape into Mildred’s magical world which, although challenging seemed both similar and also more exciting than my own school experience.

I’ve read assorted books by horror authors over the years but recently I seem to have been enjoying short stories. I suppose that running around after a toddler and the other assorted demands mean my time is less (sadly no more Sunday afternoons lost in a book!) and my attention span is definitely shorter. However, there are so many fantastic short story writers out there, and for the purpose of this article,  female short story writers.

Luckily for me, Adele Wearing, founder of Fox Spirit Books has always championed female writers and many of the assorted anthologies, including ‘Eve of War’ and the ‘Monsters’ series have been curated by women. Here’s a brief look at a two of my favourite Fox Spirit Femmes.

Chloë Yates: Chloë very kindly agreed to be interviewed as part of my ‘Big Interview‘ series where she spoke candidly of her battle with mental illness. She’s been a staple of a number of anthologies and I’ve always loved her work but it’s probably ‘Tuna Surprise!’ in ‘Under the Waves‘ which has stuck with me. Like all of her work, it’s unexpected, witty, dark and sharply written with a twist at the end.

KT Davies: another victim, sorry interviewee for my site. I raved about her debut novel ‘The Red Knight‘ and have been begging for a sequel. What I love about KT’s writing is her use of language – it’s so varied with a real mix of old English and more fruity swearing as well as her ability to write evocative fight scenes.

As part of their celebration for Women in Horror Month, Mental Floss created a list of 11 Female Horror Writers and I”m ashamed to admit that I’ve not read any of them. Have you? Who’s you’re favourite?

Women in Horror Month: Witch Wednesday

Crochet witch my bluebeaglebabyI have always loved witches. Probably my first was the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’ from ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I was terrified by completely absorbed at the same time. I still remember the feeling of watching her on the TV, screetching ‘I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!’

From there, I started reading ‘The Worst Witch’ and I still remember the mishaps poor Mildred Hubble got in to. I was obsessed with those books (though never really got into the TV shows) and remember being constantly in trouble with my teachers because I refused to do up my shoelaces like my favourite heroine.

I was then terrified by the witches in Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’. The way they peeled off their ‘human’ forms still gives me the shivers and of course, their penchant for eating children! It did cause me to look at women, specifically those wearing gloves, very suspiciously for a long time after.

I think it was around this time that I discovered the Addams Family. They were either a Sunday morning show or something I’d  watch after Blue Peter, I can’t remember but I adored Morticia and her outlook on life. It was equal measure realistic and also depressing. I have loved the assorted actresses who have played her by my personal favourite is Anjelica Huston. Whilst Morticia is never explicitly referred to as a witch, her mother is, so I always assumed she was too, she’d certainly put a spell on Gomez!

These were three of my favourite witches but I could have mentioned so many more, including the girls from ‘The Craft‘, ‘Sabrina‘ or the very scary series of comics by Cullen Bunn ‘Harrow County‘ published by Dark Horse Comics.

Who are your favourite witches? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow all my Women in Horror Month posts, right here on my blog.