My Favourite Horror Movie Trope: Creepy Dolls

When it comes to horror tropes, creepy dolls is hands down my absolute favourite. I can’t really explain why, other than the fact that I’ve always been a huge lover and collector of dolls, so the idea that said dolls could actually come to life has equally thrilled and horrified me. Considering that my first ever published work was for a school anthology when I was nine entitled, “Little Friends,” where the protagonists doll comes to life and guides the protagonist towards a haunted forest with a witch pretty much tells you all there is to know about child-me (I’m actually very surprised my school actually published a story that had both a witch AND a killer doll all in one but hey, guess the principal was a horror fan). Having said that, here are my absolute must-see creepy dolls horror movies.

DOLLS

A dysfunctional family of three stop by a mansion during a storm – father, stepmother, and child. The child discovers that the elderly owners are magical toy makers and have a haunted collection of dolls. If you happened to sleepover at my house between the time I was 6-12 years old, then you most definitely have seen this and I may have played pranks to amp up the scare factor, and maybe you know hate me (and dolls) forever. Sorry, not sorry.

CHILD’S PLAY

A single mother gives her son a much sought-after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer. There’s no way that I could have a creepy doll list without mentioning the most iconic and famous killer doll of them all, Chucky! Now, not only is Chucky uber creepy, he’s also hella funny spouting off one-liners with the comedic verve of Freddy Krueger, so obviously, I’m a huge fan of the franchise.

PUPPET MASTER

Psychics find themselves plotted against by a former colleague, who committed suicide after discovering animated, murderous puppets. This film franchise has a ton of sequels (that yes, I have seen) that take a turn for the campy, historic, and truly bizarre at some points. My favourite puppet of the group is Blade and Fangoria magazine was selling said puppets at one point when I was little but I could never get my dad to shell out $80 for a puppet (which I’m still salty about cause ya know, Blade was totally awesome).

ANNABELLE

A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists. Everyone is familiar with Annabelle, and what sets her apart from all the other dolls in this list is that said Annabelle actually exists and is believed to be totally haunted. The Warrens kept the real Annabelle in a locked glass case and had a priest bless it once a month to weaken the evil spirits. I really loved this film so much that I ended up watching it at a theatre twice.

DEAD SILENCE

A young widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife’s murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a deceased ventriloquist. Before James Wan decided to scare the shit out of people with Annabelle he decided to go for the creepy puppet and I was there for it (honestly I’m gutted that it never had a sequel).

What are some of your favourite horror tropes? Let me know!

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4 Task Management Skills You Can Use At Work Or At Home by Stephanie Haywood 

Task management can encompass many different things, from being organized to having the ability to navigate stressful situations. Many small business owners have learned task management skills through trial and error, applying them both to their professional lives and everyday situations, and the result is that these skills have become lifestyle goals. Learning how to manage your time, self-motivate, and set realistic goals can help you reduce stress and achieve a better work/life balance. You can also look for resources and lifestyle tips on your favorite blogs; The Inkblotters has you covered with everything from beauty product reviews to tips for writers on how to draft a query letter.

Here are four tips on how to incorporate task management skills into your everyday life.

  1. Learn to delegate

Delegating can be difficult for many small business owners due to a desire to handle everything themselves to ensure it’s done right. When you’re taking care of everything, however, it can lead to burnout pretty quickly, as well stunt your leadership abilities. Doing everything yourself–both at work and at home–also leaves very little time for self-care or activities that make you happy, which in turn boosts your stress and anxiety levels. Try finding a few things that you can hand off to someone else, such as website updates for your business or even your LLC formation in California; our state has several rules about the process, but a professional service can take care of the legwork for you and ensure it gets done correctly.

  1. Get organized

Like delegation, organization isn’t necessarily in everyone’s wheelhouse. Some people have to work at it, and when you run a business, it’s crucial to learn how to stay on top of things and keep important information easily accessible. Not only does it save you a lot of headaches, it also prevents wasted time. The good news is, there are plenty of apps and online resources that can help you keep things neat and prevent distractions, from digital calendars to productivity trackers. Getting organized at home and at the office is helpful too, so clear out the clutter–which can hinder efficiency–and look for tools that will help you keep things in order.

  1. Communicate effectively

Organization and communication are two major aspects of running a business, but they apply to everyday life as well. Learning how to listen and give feedback is essential when it comes to managing others; miscommunication can cause a lot of headaches and create more work for you in the long run. Save time and energy by making sure your communication skills are on point. Utilize active listening techniques–which involve repeating back information to ensure you understand important details–and talk to people one-on-one rather than relying solely on emails, text, or group meetings so nothing gets lost.

  1. Plan wisely…and have a backup plan

Along with good communication skills, the ability to plan ahead of time is essential when you’re running a business, and it’s something that can be utilized in everyday life as well. Make to-do lists and set clear but realistic goals for each day, and create a backup plan just in case you aren’t able to get as much done as you’d like. Not only will this save you time, it will help you boost your productivity and efficiency. It also helps to eliminate distractions so you can focus on the things you need to get done.

Managing tasks can become frustrating and stressful when you don’t have a plan, but by utilizing a few of these tips, you can keep your days organized and ensure that your workflow is a breeze. Not only that, you can incorporate these same tips into your lifestyle and reduce stress, as well.

Have a question or review request for The Inkblotters? Get in touch on social media or fill out the contact form.

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Review: Colourpop Act Natural Mascara in Black

What It Is: Defining mascara for a natural look

Active Ingredients: 100% Vegan

Verdict: Honestly, this is my new fave go-to mascara. Not only is it smudge-proof, flake-proof, and easy to apply without any clumping, the formula is simply so light that you forget that you’re even wearing mascara. Plus, it boosts your lashes in a way that it makes them gain more volume and length. In a way, it’s almost like your natural lashes, only better (or how lash extensions would look). And the best part of all of this is that its cost-effective. For such a high performing product the price is spectacular. So what are you waiting for? Pick up a tube for yourself, or two.

Price: $9

Where To Buy It: https://colourpop.com/

Wearing the Colourpop Act Natural Mascara

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Film Review: Candyman (2021)

Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman…..

NOPE.

Not saying it five times cause we all know what happens next, especially if you’re a 90’s kid. But now with Nia DaCosta’s revamped spiritual sequel to the 1992 original film, a whole new generation can fear the hook. It’s no surprise that I was a huge fan of the original, and some of the old school horror fans didn’t take it well when this sequel was announced. I, instead was excited to see this franchise be resuscitated and now after viewing the film (first film I’ve seen in an actual theatre since the pandemic hit), I’m even more thrilled to see where the Candyman journey may take us in the future.

The absolute pro that this film has is that it manages to seamlessly connect the 1992 film with the current one in a way that doesn’t seem forced nor stilted. We follow the protagonist, Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), now an adult, but in the 1992 film was saved from the fire by Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), unknowingly returns to his origins when he’s back to living in the former Cabrini Green only now filled with high-rise luxury apartments that he shares with art curator girlfriend.

Anthony is introduced to the Candyman legend by William Burke (Coleman Domingo) who gets him up to speed on how the legend originated (the superb use of shadow puppets is used to depict the violent backstories). As it’s true with any urban legend, details have been distorted or forgotten so we soon find out that Candyman isn’t merely Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd) wronged painter, but that it encapsulates an array of different black men that have been wronged throughout the years that have taken up the scepter of Candyman and kept the legend alive.

My only gripe with the film is that it lacked any real feeling of dread. The body horror element added a bit of creep factor, but it’s hard to make a film about a legendary ghoul if the one you’re using isn’t as compelling, frightening, and seductive as Tony Todd’s Daniel was. In fact, the strongest scene in the film is when we’re finally graced with Tony Todd’s cameo, his commanding voice lulling the audience back into a trance that is equal parts mesmerized and scared shitless.

This is not to say though that the franchise doesn’t have room to grow, because I think it does and I honestly can’t wait for a new installment to be made.

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Italy Has a Problem with Sexism and It’s About Time They Admit It

Growing up in Italy, it was perfectly normal to see scantily dressed women parading around on prime time television on various gameshows geared for the family. In fact, even full-on stripteases aired where the girls strategically placed their hands on their breasts to avoid being completely topless. A very popular gameshow, Colpo Grosso ran for five years where every night the contestant’s objective was to get one of the showgirls to completely undress through the acquisition of points by the means of correct answers to trivia questions. Sure, this show aired around 11pm but that didn’t stop any of the kids I knew from staying up to watch it. If seeing women being treated as mere sex objects beneath a male gaze on TV wasn’t enough, I got to live through my very own version of that anytime I stepped foot outside the house. Catcalls are so common in Italy that they’re basically perceived as “compliments.”

In Italy the highest currency a woman can hold is her own beauty. It becomes apparent from a very young age where shop owners are more likely to give you a discount or offer free merchandise in addition to your purchases if you’re a “bella gnocca.” Of course, when you grow up in a patriarchal society steeped in reducing a woman’s importance to her attractiveness then it’s easy for girls to grow up with the notion that this is normal – and the race to be impeccable and beautiful at all times becomes imperative.

If you’ve ever been to Italy you may have noticed that the majority of the women walking around on the street are always dressed to impress. You will never see an Italian woman dressed in pajamas and a messy bun out shopping on a Saturday morning and it isn’t solely chalked up to having more self-respect rather it’s the reality of not wanting to warrant any backlash from the males one may encounter on the street. In fact, it’s very common for a man to shout his opinion of your looks as they drive past you on a moped.

When you unpack all of that, it’s easy to understand why sculptor Emanuele Stifano’s tribute to La Spigolatrice di Sapri (The Gleaner of Sapri) unveiled a woman wearing a tight-fitting transparent dress. This is how the majority of Italian men see women, a creature to be ogled for her beauty and nothing more. For a country that has one of the lowest gender equality rates in the EU it makes all the more sense that women are more valued for their bodies than their intellect.

Even more demoralizing is knowing that a movement like #MeToo (#QuellaVoltaChe for Italy) was doomed to fail from the very beginning because in a society where the patriarchy reigns supreme, the dominant culture is for women to be subservient objectified beings. Inappropriate sexual remarks are often brushed off as compliments or jokes, thus normalizing harassment across the board. Targeted violence is often the next step when men know that they won’t be reprimanded for their actions. The most notorious case was when the Supreme Court ruled against a rape victim’s case in 1999, because the justices felt that the only way the rapist could’ve removed the victim’s tight jeans was through some form of consent. Women worldwide were appalled by such a ruling sparking the birth of the Denim Day movement. It wasn’t until 2008 when this ruling was reversed, almost a decade later.

In 2021, it’s about time Italy admits it has a problem with sexism, because the first step towards eliminating a problem is to acknowledge that one exists.

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Shriekfest 2021 – Getting a little freaky, getting a little spooky, getting a little SHRIEKY

Photo by: David Hanger

Shriekfest is a Horror Film Festival that is a goldmine of both upcoming and veteran horror talents. Denise Gossett, the founder and organizer of the festival has helped many debut directors and screenwriters find an audience at Shriekfest, which is very much appreciated. There’s suddenly been a resurgence in the horror genre, but Gossett has been an advocate for horror for the past twenty-one years, which is to say that she has seen a lot of horror films to know exactly which ones are worth showcasing and which ones need better tweaking.

I was very excited to receive Press Passes for this event because as a huge horror enthusiast, watching horror films for thirteen hours straight is basically heaven. Not to mention that I really love the chill vibe that the festival has and how appreciative everyone is for being there to view their films and support them. Plus, I really have a soft spot for the Charlie Chaplin theatre at the Raleigh Studios. I’d give anything to watch ALL my movies there. Seriously, folks, if you haven’t seen a film there, you’re missing out.

That being said, I was so happy that this year the event wasn’t canceled as the previous year (pandemic and all – ya know the drill) because the films I got to see this year were incredibly good. The previous years, the shorts tended to be more on the campy side of horror (which I don’t mind cause who doesn’t love the OG Evil Dead am I right?), but I do love it when horror can also be on the uber dark and creepy side, so I was all for that.

I ended up watching 31 shorts and 2 features and I know many of the directors and screenwriters I spoke to asked me how I was going to remember all of them and I told them that I was taking notes of the film titles and what they were about, but that mostly after one day of viewing if I could easily recall my favourites then that means that those were the ones that really stood out to me and were worthy of my mention. Although, I have to admit that there were probably only one or two films I wasn’t too crazy about, for the most part, the shorts were extremely well produced, edited, written, and acted.

One of my favourite shorts was from the Spanish director Alvaro Vicario called Polter. The film was about a guy trying to get rid of poltergeist in his home. The film didn’t take itself too seriously, and the fact that it was fun and campy is what really honed in the ending for me. I really suggest you guys check it out if you can because it’s very well worth the ten minutes it takes to view it. Polter was followed by another very well acted and written short called, A Strange Calm. This short was very dark and sad as it followed two friends, Rosie and Mills who encounter a strange man while they’re out playing in rural California in the 70’s and end up getting abducted. The short was full of tension and dread and overall it was excellent. Now, the shorts seemed to get progressively darker as A Strange Calm was soon followed by Killing Small Animals which was a very disturbing short where the protagonist kills various animals throughout the movie, slowly graduating to bigger ones until the very end where she’s seen abducting a little girl. I wouldn’t say that the short was bad, but I wasn’t that keen on the storyline and wasn’t a fan of seeing various animals getting killed (guess it’s just not my kind of horror).

Meanwhile, The Rule of Three expertly explored how a young woman suffering from severe OCD has to try to overcome her demons while trying to survive a home invasion. The short was filled with dread and suspense and tied everything up in a way that wasn’t cheesy. Wide Awake in Bridgewater may have easily been my favourite short. It was mysterious and held an element of sci-fi that I really liked. An elderly man receives a phonecall from his teenage girlfriend and he tries to figure out what happened to her fifty years ago when she disappeared. It was easily the best written, acted, and edited short and had a satisfying ending. Seek was a fun, thrilling short about two sisters who stop at a rundown restroom only to find out that a strange entity haunts that area.

Love Bite was a refreshing and hilarious take on the zombie trope. A bickering couple soon find out to what lengths one of them will go to just to be proven right, despite the dire consequences that it will bring. It was easily very funny because it was also very relatable. I think any couple whose been together for awhile could easily see themselves in the couple. Being a huge fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street Nancy played by the incredibly awesome Heather Langenkamp, it was a pleasant surprise to see her star in the short Cottonmouth. The short easily flourished cause of Langenkamp’s star power, but it was also engaging as the viewers can’t help but wanting to know who or what is continuously drinking from a glass of water that the protagonist keeps next to her bed stand. Selfie was another short that I enjoyed, where a girl’s photoshopped self somehow manages to come alive and become the monster that she is.

The Otherside dealt with the very real horror of child trafficking and how the mother’s of the victims tend to be haunted by their grief and in this case, one mother in particular not only haunts but seeks revenge to those that do the same to other kids. And last but not least the shorts cycle ended on a high note with Half-Cocked where two doctors find a way to bring a man to life and make him immortal only to find out that that man isn’t appreciative since he had committed suicide. The film was definitely on the campy side of horror but it was a very funny and thrilling ride.

The two features I was able to view were Ten Minutes to Midnight and Redwood Massacre: Annihilation. Ten Minutes to Midnight was a campy fun vampire film about a radio show host (played by the ever charismatic and alluring Caroline Williams) who slowly manifests the signs of vampirism after she’s bitten by a rabid bat. Apart from being a fun film, the movie also focused on an important message, especially for women, how we’re often easily discarded after we’ve passed a certain age. That’s why I love horror, because it’s a genre that dares to tackle difficult topics that other genres simply gloss over.

The last film I viewed was Redwood Massacre: Annihilation that starred horror veteran Danielle Harris (which you may recognize her from the Halloween franchise). I was really excited to check this film out as I have an affinity for killers who choose to use a burlap sack as a mask. All in all, I did enjoy the film, although once we started to surpass the sixty minute mark and no one had died I started to fret when the massacre was going to happen (no need to worry, the promised bloodbath does occur and doesn’t disappoint).

Thirteen hours of film watching was an intense feat but can you truly call yourself a horror fan if you can’t do that? Am I right?

Stay spooky my friends.

Photos by: David Hanger

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Zura’s Hysterical Realm Kills the Innocent

I warned you near the brook.

I’ve seen her evil smile and piercing look.

The gushing of a red drop

That never ceases to stop.

She tastes of poison beams

Her scarlet passion steams.

Those brown eyes and locks of auburn

Causes your head to turn.

I’m sick of this neglect

You make me feel like a worthless reject.

She keeps diamonds in her eyes

Tries to covet secret spies.

Drink in her beauty and sacred stars

She’s bound to burst your mortal bars.

Have you ever hear of her woeful tale?

Of how she’s been left with a tormented bale?

Her lover killed her fragile heart

Leaving it to become a mass of tart.

She bears the crown of outcast queen,

But I’ll bet this side you’ve never seen.

Little Miss Perfection down to the bone

You’d never imagine how she feels so alone.

Stop trying to force her into love

Her past isn’t as pure as a dove.

Scars of former lovers adorn her shorn

Depicting just how savagely she’s been torn.

I warned you all along

She’s like a creepy Turin fog.

Don’t fall into her delicate hands

For soon, you too, will no longer stand.

She’s full of anger and violent stems

She wears thorns as diadems.

I will not ask of you to kill

As she most certainly will,

Your deepest purest emotions

To be replaced by her evil notions.

Runaway innocent boy, before you’re caught

For pretty soon she’ll invade your thoughts.

***

Did you enjoy this poem? You can find this poem and many others in Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

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Makeup Look: Autumn Vibes

Fall is in full swing (at least calendar-wise since So-Cal is more cold Spring mode weather wise), but that doesn’t mean that one can’t get into the Autumn spirit anyway! So Pumpkin Spice and all things creepy, makeup looks for fall tend to focus on rich gold and copper colours, and I’m here for that.

For this simple look, I chose to use Colourpop’s Eye Palette Head Capricorn in Charge.

This eye look is very easy to achieve:

Lid: Independent shade all over the lid, then top off with a light tap of Hustle Hard (it’s best to use your finger than a brush for this).

Crease: Use Independent again.

Lower lid: First apply Independent to the lower lash line, pulling the color down. Then use Ambition strictly along the lash line, as a liner.

Brow bone: Use a matte white shadow (I used Lancome’s Daylight).

Waterline: White eyeliner (I used Lancome’s Le Crayon Khol in Blanc).

Mascara: Colourpop Act Natural Mascara in Black

Head Capricorn in Charge Colourpop Palette

You can finish this look with any nude lippie, I’m a huge fan of Maybelline’s Liquid Lipstick in Poet topped off with Glossier’s clear lipgloss! For blush, I’d say go for peachy hues (I actually used a peachy eyeshadow from Lancome as blush).

And there you have it, a simple, glam fall look that takes give or take twenty minutes to complete, leaving you just in enough time in the morning to swing by your favourite coffee shop for the must-have pumpkin spice latte.

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Poetry: Manuel’s Letter

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Dear Manuel,

Here I must confess

All that I’ve ever desired to.

My emotional state is one turmoil mess.

I’m in a state of confusion,

That I don’t even know with whom I mesh.

I keep on falling behind

With no chances to run and hide.

My dreams of glory fog my mind

But to my disgrace,

I’m only a legend in my own mind.

I long for purity but I practice sex.

I crave for love but it’s lust that I get.

Not caring for myself.

But yet I’m said to have a narcissistic disorder.

Conventional beauty wrapped

Around an anti-conformist mind.

Confusion-confusion-confusion

I kiss so many but love no one.

The ones that are closest to me

Are the ones that hurt me the most.

The ones that are the farthest from me

Are the ones that I yearn for their attention.

Sorry, for my lament

I wouldn’t have confessed my sins

If I wouldn’t feel that you’re the other side of me.

You’re my secret identity.

My mask—

I am hiding behind your grandeur.

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Film Review: Malignant

The opening scene in Malignant may be offputting. We’re shown a gothic looking hospital sitting on top of a high cliff with the ocean below, while a doctor known for dramatics orders her underlings to “Cut out the tumor,” as a young patient writhes and kills people either through force or telepathy.

Then the story shifts to Madison Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis) where a hardworking but very pregnant nurse returns home because she feels ill. Of course Madison has an abusive husband who dares to hit her while she’s overwhelmingly pregnant (and those scenes will never get easy to watch for any woman or decent human being). It doesn’t take long for her husband Derek to meet the most gruesome and deserved death ever. The only caveat is, the audience is lulled in this strange idea that maybe the dark entity that visits them was only after Derek, but we’re soon shown that Madison too is victim of the entity’s ire.

Director James Wan is famous for his use of string instrumentals during pivotal scenes. Now, Wan trades the strings for trippy 70’s giallo music ala Goblin mixed in with 80’s synth. And for the first half of the film you can’t help but think that this is exactly a modern day Giallo, with a killer that dons a black leather coat and leather gloves before he goes on a killing spree throughout Seattle.

Then the TWIST arrives and a major shift happens. I’m not going to tell you what the twist is because it’ll spoil the film and I actually suggest that you do not read any reviews prior to seeing this film so that you can dive in blind. But I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the twist only because it’s one of my fave subgenres in horror and am happy to finally see it being explored again.

I will admit that I wasn’t sure what to think when I first started watching the film but once the credits rolled, I was a fan of the craziness that unfolded during the three act of the film. So, if you’re an old school horror fan, I would totally recommend this film as it’s one wild, fun romp. I haven’t had this much fun watching a horror than Evil Dead and that’s saying a lot.

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