Friday, December 28, 2012

My Top 10 Horror Movies of 2012

Hiya fiends! You know, ever since I retired from reviewing horror movies (in case you didn't know, I used to run the horror site Fatally-Yours, though it has long since been taken down - you can still check out archives of my reviews here) it seems I've watched the genre of horror less and less. Perhaps it is because I don’t have access to as many low-budget independent flicks anymore and I always felt that you could find some real diamonds in the rough from those no- to low-budget horror films. Also, I've been watching what I want, which doesn't include a lot of the new releases since I usually wait for things to come around on Netflix before watching them nowadays. So please forgive me since my list isn't by all means all-inclusive of every single 2012 horror release.

However, there were a bunch of horror releases that I did enjoy and wanted to share those with you here, whether you agree or not. These may not be “the best” horror films, but in my opinion they are the favorites that I saw this year. So, without further ado, here are my top 10 horror movies of 2012:


1. Cabin in the Woods – This was by far the most fun I've had had with a horror movie all year (read my review)! I know a lot of people either loved or hated it, but I am one that absolutely adored it! I went in with no real expectations but was blown away by the twists and turns and how it turns into something I never would have imagined! I really, really loved this movie, especially all the winks and nudges it made to the horror genre. Repeated viewings just made me love it all the more!


2. [REC] 3: Genesis – I loved both Rec and Rec 2, but I was a bit iffy on this third installment where all the mayhem takes place during a wedding. Well, I shouldn't have been so hesitant to check this out because it was awesome! Non-stop action, a lead female character who takes care of business, zombies with a twist (do yourself a favor and watch the first two to find out what this twist is), lottsa bloody gore and some really cool action scenes. Oh, hey, plus some romance (‘til death do us part), if you dig that kinda thing.

3. Lovely Molly – This movie was seriously eerie and f*cked up! Is it about a descent into madness, possession or about the repercussions of child abuse? Probably all three, but who cares when a film has the ability to crawl under your skin and burrow in your brain, jolting you with startling imagery and dark things just out of your peripheral vision. Not to mention the subtle but no less frightening noises used throughout the film.

4. The Pact – I avoided this film for a while because it just sounded cliché. Woman’s mom dies, woman goes back to her mom’s house to make arrangements, strange things start to happen. Ok, sounds like a typical ghost story but oh it is so not. This film had the ability to keep me on pins and needles from start to finish and the smallest creak in my house made me freak out while watching this. Good god, just thinking about that mysterious closet, the ominous mood of the film and the silent terror lurking in that place give me the heebie jeebies!

5. Kill List – This film about two hitmen started off pretty slow and didn't feel like it was really going anywhere…that is until the last third of the film! Creepy satanic worshipers that wear elaborate tree masks screeching like monsters outta Silent Hill? Yes please!

6. The Woman in Black – I really dug this remake of the 1986 TV film based on the wonderful book of the same name by Susan Hill. The dreary English countryside, the oppressive feel of Eel Marsh House, the frightening experiences that Arthur Kipps has…all were recreated perfectly in this film! I am not sure what turned some horror fans off about this film, but they are missing out!

7. The Divide – Ok,  this film’s initial release was 2011, but didn't hit US shores ‘til 2012 so I am including it here. This movie was absolutely devastating. I probably wouldn't watch it again, but it was an amazing study of how people’s survival instincts kick in during an extreme situation, and not in a good way. A dark, traumatizing movie that chilled me to the core.

8. The Loved Ones – Like the movie above, this technically wasn't a 2012 release (it came out several years ago in its native Australia), but it hit the US this year so I am going to include it. I really loved this crazy psycho/revenge flick, but I have to be honest…I was kinda rooting for the self-proclaimed prom queen towards the end. Still a great, cringe-worthy revenge flick, though!

9. Sinister – This was a really solid effort and though I didn't absolutely love it, I did enjoy it and thought it was very well done. I was expecting more scares, but Sinister played it a bit more subtle, though there are several nifty wet-your-pants scares (lawnmower scene, anyone?).

10. V/H/S – I've heard a lot of mixed reactions to this film, but I actually enjoyed it! Some of the segments were a bit iffy, but overall I dug it. I especially enjoyed the wrap-around story (“Tape 56”) as well as “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” and “10/31/98”. The only one I really didn't like was “Second Honeymoon”, which was bit slow and its reveal was just mediocre.

Honorable Mention: Paranormal Activity 4 - I know this movie was more of the same from the PA franchise, but I really enjoyed this installment! I thought the neighbor kid was really creepy and it definitely had its startling moments. The only thing that ruined it for me was the abrupt and lame ending. Despite the ending, I enjoyed this one more than the last few PA movies.

What were your favorite horror films of 2012?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Film Review: Vegucated (2010)

I have been wanting to check out the documentary Vegucated for quite some time and lucky for me I was able to catch it streaming on Netflix! Vegucated is a documentary by writer/director/editor/narrator Marisa Miller Wolfson about three people from NYC with varied backgrounds who decide to try the vegan lifestyle for six weeks. You can check out the official synopsis written by Marisa Miller Wolfson below:

Vegucated is a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it's all about. They have no idea that so much more than steak is at stake and that the planet's fate may fall on their plates. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. Before long, they find themselves risking everything to expose an industry they supported just weeks before. But can their convictions carry them through when times get tough? What about on family vacations fraught with skeptical step-dads, carnivorous cousins, and breakfast buffets? Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who are trying their darnedest to change in a culture that seems dead set against it. 

The reason this documentary intrigued me was that it followed three regular meat-eating, dairy-swilling Americans that were pretty set in their ways and diets. It not only showed their amazing journey to truth, but it also shows how ignorant most people are about where their food comes from, the negative effect meat/dairy/egg consumption has on our bodies and the environment, how awful conditions are for farmed animals and the revelation that we don't need animal products in this day and age. I remember in my pre-vegan days when I was oblivious to the negative implications of my Standard American Diet (it is abbreviated to SAD for a reason) and only found out the horrible truth after proactively doing research myself.

The same happens to the three volunteers in the film...all three of them did not have any idea about the cruel factory farming practices that are standard for all animals raised for slaughter. The participants also learned about the detrimental effects factory farming of animals has on the environment as well as the positive effects a plant-based diet has on our health. Though more and more people are finally discovering the truth about SAD diets and adopting more plant-based diets, it still shocks me that most people are oblivious to the many problems of SAD diets. It's crazy how the meat and dairy industries have fed the public outright lies for so long!

The three volunteers started on their journey with a visit to Dr. Joel Fuhrman where their blood work, cholesterol and vital signs were checked. He also explained how a plant-based diet fulfills your body's nutritional needs better than a SAD diet. They were then introduced to vegan cuisine and went grocery shopping for vegan and "accidentally vegan" products. They were educated on factory farming (though no "hardcore" footage is seen, the images used in the film still made me cry), visited an animal sanctuary and a smaller farm and even attended a vegetarian conference where they learned more about a plant-based diet and listened to speakers like T. Colin Campbell (professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University and co-author of The China Study) and Howard Lyman (ex-cattle rancher, director of the book and documentary Mad Cowboy and the book No More Bull).

Though they quickly took to veganism with ease, they also had to deal with hardships like cravings for animal products, eating vegan on vacation, family and friends that didn't understand their decision to go vegan as well as having to explain why eating/using animal products is not ethical or sustainable. I really felt for them while they went through these challenges, because those are all things that vegans do go through! For me, I really empathized with the college-aged girl named Tesla whose family and friends didn't understand her switch to veganism. I still have friends and family who just cannot fathom why I choose to eat compassionately and their inability to see my point of view gets me frustrated! I thought Tesla handled her family and friends really well and did a great job explaining veganism. I loved that she stuck to her guns even when a visiting cousin spouted off "what if..." scenarios to Tesla! No honey, hunting is not ethical either.

I loved seeing the process of the three volunteers and how just some simple education could get them to change their world view! I really think that if people would just listen and let themselves be educated about veganism that many would go vegan cold-turkey (like I did after learning about the horrible cruelties of factory farming). At the end of the study, all participant expressed their desire to continue living compassionately and it seems that most stuck to at least being "mostly" vegan. Huzzah!

I liked the different aspect of the documentary and how it focused on three regular people who accepted the "challenge" of going vegan. In the end, I think Vegucated proves how easy and how important it is for anyone and everyone to adopt a plant-based diet rather than a SAD diet.

Highly recommended for both vegans, the veg-curious and anyone that gives a sh*t about their health, compassion towards animals, the environment, the future of the earth and so on!

For more info, visit

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Funday: Christmas Edition

Happy Christmas Eve Eve! I cannot believe it is nearly Christmas...this month has flown by, which is a pity because I really love this season! Everyone assumes that since Halloween is "my" holiday that I don't enjoy any other holidays...but that couldn't be farther from the truth!

After Halloween, Christmas is probably my favorite holiday. I love the lights, the chilly weather, the decorations, the food, and, yes, even the music! Not to mention that the season also contains the start of the winter season (happy belated winter solstice), and even though I don't get any snow where I live, I love photos of dreamy snowscapes and wintery woods. I also love pics of Christmas things that have a gothic or creepy twist to them (hello Creepmas) as well as just plain joyful Christmas photos!

For this edition of Sunday Funday, I wanted to share some fun photos of the season (apologies to anyone that follows me on Pinterest or Tumblr, as these photos may look familiar) to spread some comfort and joy!



 Disneyland Christmas balloons

Have a Scary Little Christmas, kiddies!


I live for autumn, but I love winter, too! 

Wishing you and yours a very holly, jolly Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Building Snowmen with Sam from Trick 'r Treat

I love when FEARnet posts cute holiday videos featuring Sam from Trick 'r Treat! They just released one featuring Sam helping a little girl build some snowmen...with a macabre twist, of course!

Check out the one minute short below:

Food Review: Trader Joe's Zesty Nacho Kale Chips

I love making my own kale chips...just rinse some kale, rip the leaves into bite-sized pieces, leave them damp and generously sprinkle some nutritional yeast or Parma (seasonings that add a cheesy flavor to food) on top and pop in the oven until you are rewarded with scrumptious, crunchy and healthy snacks!

However, sometimes I don’t wanna go to any trouble, which is where Trader Joe’s Zesty Nacho Kale Chips come in (yup, they are vegan)! I was perusing the aisles there the other day when the bright green and yellow package caught my eye. I was craving some cheezy kale chips, so into my basket they went!

Surprisingly, these kale chips aren't made with nutritional yeast (or “nooch” as some peeps call it) but with cashews, sunflower seeds, etc. and lots of spices and seasonings. When I pulled the first chip from the bag I was surprised by just how much baked-in seasoning it had on it! And when I popped it in my mouth, man oh man, it was like a flavor explosion!! YUM! The taste vaguely reminded me of those Nacho Doritos I used to get in elementary school lunches (without the orange powder mess).

These kale chips are way zestier than the ones I normally make myself and VERY addictive! I nearly ate the whole bag in one sitting. At least they are healthier than regular ol’ potato chips! But they don’t taste healthy and you definitely won’t want to share once you crunch through a few chips!

The only con to these is that they are $3.99 a bag and that bag is pretty small. Other kale chip brands are expensive anyhow, though, so I guess in retrospect their cost isn't that high. The flavor you get from these chips makes the price worthwhile though…I am already dreaming of my next bag!

I ate half the bag in one sitting (believe me, it was hard not to eat it all) and used the rest to sprinkle on a salad (very tasty), so you can do other stuff with these besides snacking on them. I think next time I may use them as a topping on a baked potato and they would also be good as a topping on a soup!

I highly recommend Trader Joe’s Zesty Nacho Kale Chips!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beauty Review: Naturtint Permanent Hair Color

I have been dying my hair for years and years…ever since I started using that awful Sun-In and lemon juice on my hair back in high school. Except that after high school I didn't want my naturally strawberry hair lighter, I wanted it darker. So all through college and beyond I dyed it progressively darker and darker until one summer (a year or two after I got out of college) I finally dyed it black. I love love love my hair black and dyed it that way for YEARS, but this past summer I decided I needed to make the transition back to a red and had it bleached. Before then I had used Wella hair dye (the kind you buy at a salon and mix with developer yourself) for years…and it was decidedly NOT vegan. Hair dye has been one of the hardest products for me to “veganize” and is pretty much the only product that I knowingly (and begrudgingly) used even though it wasn't vegan.

However, after getting my hair bleached, I decided that I could not continue using non-vegan hair dye. I just felt too guilty and awful about using products with animal-derived ingredients in them so, I went on a quest to find a vegan hair dye.

Originally, I wanted to use Manic Panic, which is completely vegan and cruelty-free. I dream of having purple or blue hair, alas my jobby job frowns upon “unnaturally” colored hair. I thought I would be able to get away with using one of their reds, but after looking at photos online I just felt that it might turn out too “unnatural” for me to get away with at work. So that was sadly out the window.

I also thought about trying henna, but after talking to a friend that had used it I decided I was just too lazy to go through the whole process. And I didn't really want to deal with the stinkiness or mess.

My roots were growing out and I knew I had to find something fast, so after a little researching online I came across Naturtint. Various online sources list this as “vegan-friendly”, but I couldn't find any definitive information from the company’s website as to whether the dye is 100% vegan. I decided to give it a go since it was the closest I could find to vegan-friendly dye.

Naturtint uses vegetable-based ingredients and is ammonia-free. It isn't completely free of chemicals, but much better than standard hair dye.

I've used Naturtint several times now and am amazed by this hair dye! First off, it doesn't reek like other dyes, but has a very subtle scent. It comes in a box with everything you will need for mixing and applying the dye – developer, dye, applicator bottle, gloves, plus shampoo and conditioner. The instructions are easy to follow and similar to most other box hair dyes.

I choose reds that were similar to my own hair color (I've used both 9R Fire Red [what I'm using now] and 7C Terracotta Blonde) and am happy to report that the color is vibrant and lasts quite a while (I use color-safe vegan shampoo and conditioner [currently Desert Essence Italian Red Grape], which helps prolong the color).

The dye also helps improve the texture of my hair and makes it so silky! In all my days of using hair dye, this is the only dye I've ever used that actually makes my hair smooth! In the past regular old dyes have left my hair stinky and damaged, but Naturtint leaves it feeling so healthy!

I’m pretty happy to have found a hair dye that is permanent, vegetable-based, eco-friendly, easy to apply and leaves my hair healthy. And at long last I will actually be using a brand that is vegan-friendly (and I’m hoping is 100% vegan, though I have not been able to verify this).

The only downside is that it is more expensive than regular hair dye…a box is around $18 at my local health food store, but it can be found online for cheaper. I will say that despite the steep price I can usually just buy one box and that will suffice for one application. When I used to buy regular old box dyes they were $10 a pop, but I would have to buy two to ensure they covered all my hair (I have thick, coarse hair and it takes a lotta dye to cover it all). So really I am definitely getting bang for my buck with Naturtint.

If you are looking for a healthier dye, I would definitely recommend Naturtint! You can find it at Whole Foods, at your local health food store or online.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What Brings Me Comfort and Joy

Hello Boils and Ghouls!

We’ve made it through the 13 Days of Creepmas, so now it is back to our regularly scheduled programming!

We all know the holiday season can be hectic and every now and then we all need to take a breather and just unwind and reflect on our blessings. It can be the smallest things that bring a smile to your face!

Here is a little list of what is bringing me comfort and joy this holiday season:

  • Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea – I love unwinding with a cup of good tea and this pepperminty flavor is perfect for that! It has a refreshing peppermint candy cane taste and a smooth green tea finish…plus it just tastes festive!
  • Baking - I usually don't get to do much of this as Mister Spooky doesn't have a big sweet tooth, but I really do enjoy baking (much more so than actual cooking!). You probably saw several cookie posts during Creepmas and you can blame my sweet tooth (I make up for Mr. Spooky's lack of sweet tooth with my own)! Plus, there is just something so fun about making sweets from scratch and getting to enjoy them fresh from the oven with a cup of tea or coffee.
  • Rainy weather – We have had lots of days of rain and good gloomy weather for once! And it has been wonderful! SoCal doesn’t get much rain, so this was a perfect break to the usual sunny weather. Rain also means cooler temps, which I also love. I just wish people could actually drive in the rain instead of insisting on going 25 mph in the fast lane on the freeway, oy vey!
  • Re-visiting favorite TV shows – I just re-watched American Horror Story season 1, Freaks and Geeks and love watching episodes of Buffy, Twilight Zone and The Munsters on Netflix. There is a comfort to returning to these familiar shows and I love having marathon couch sessions (especially on rainy weekends) where I can turn my brain off and re-visit favorite characters. Plus, I can always jump to my favorite episodes if I’m so inclined! 
  • The Order of the Good Death – I forget how I stumbled upon this blog run by charismatic mortician Caitlin Doughty, but I am sure glad I did!! I have always been fascinated by the corruptibility of the human body and by death and decay in general, but her blog opened me up to a whole new world of wonder! Caitlin advocates for natural burial and embracing death as a part of life. I love her writing and her perspective and have devoured her writings on her blog! She also hosts a YouTube series called “Ask a Mortician” that is absolutely fascinating and highly recommended. 
  • Reading - In the same vein as The Order of the Good Death, I am currently reading the groundbreaking book The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford, which was originally published in the ‘60s and is an exposé on the funeral industry. It was updated in the late ‘90s (when the “revisited” part was added) and is an eye-opening account of funeral practices and business in the U.S. It is fascinating to me and oddly enough, I began reading it prior to finding The Order of the Good Death. Doughty and Mitford have similar ideas on the traditional funeral methods in the U.S. and both are strong advocates for more accountability on the part of funeral businesses as well as more freedom to do what we want with our bodies upon casting off the mortal coil. A highly recommended read! 
  • Christmas season – I love Christmas, dear fiends, even though my “in-real-life” friends don’t believe it. BUT I DO!! I love the decorations, the feeling of coziness, getting together with friends and family to celebrate the season and all the pretty, pretty lights! Plus, I have my birthday in January to look forward to as well! What’s not to love?
  • EcoScents – I am seriously obsessed with these scented wax melts! They have all kinds of scents, but right now I am filling my home with the scent of Cedar and Pine and Home for the Holidays! 
  • Lush’s Snow Fairy Shower Gel – I love this stuff and look forward to it every holiday season (the only time Lush carries it)! It smells like cotton candy and vanilla and brightens up my gloomiest days with its cheery pink sparkles. Makes me smell good enough to eat!

I made the same list last year for a community blogging event. It's funny, a lot of the same types of things are on last year's list as this year's list! If you want, you can check out 2011's list here

Thursday, December 13, 2012

13 Days of Creepmas: Ways to Keep the Spooky Spirit Alive Through the Rest of the Holidays

Santa will eat your soul

Well fiends, today is the last day of our 13 Days of Creepmas, but fear not! You can keep the Creepmas spirit alive all through the Hallowdays by following some simple suggestions I've made below.

A Zombie Christmas

I always enjoy the 13 Days of Creepmas, but the spooky kid in me just can’t resist adding gothic flourishes to food, decor, music and movies the entire holiday season. Here are a few things to make this merry season a bit more creepy:

Xmas Chainsaw Massacre 
(not real, but I wish it was!)
  • Watch horror movies set during Christmas and/or the holidays. There are a ton (Black Christmas, Christmas Evil, Inside, Santa's Slay, etc., etc.) so finding some shouldn't be an issue (you can check last year’s lists for my top 20 favorite horror-days movies - #20-11 and #10-1). Added bonus - many are streaming on Netflix Instant!
  • I also like to watch horror movies set during winter-time in general (like The Thing, Wendigo, Dead Snow, tons more!). We don't get snow where I live, so I have to live vicariously through the winter landscapes in films and what better way to do that than with wintery horror movies?!
  • Use Halloween decorations on your Creepmas tree and to deck your halls – need inspiration? Check out my post on Creepmas trees here.
  • No Creepmas would be complete without a viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas!
Gingerdead cookies
  • Bake gingerdead cookies! There is a cookie cutter to make these, but you could also just make regular gingerbread men (check out an awesome vegan recipe here!) and rip off arms, legs and heads to make them all zombified! You could also try making Jack Skellington’s Sandy Claws cookies
  • Browse the other Creepmas blogs! You can find participants on, browse their blogs and get inspired to carry on the Creepmas tradition the remainder of the Hallowdays.
Hope you enjoyed the 13 Days of Creepmas! Wishing you ghoultide greetings and a spooky new year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

13 Days of Creepmas: Gothic Ornaments from Etsy

About a week ago I shared some stunning Creepmas trees to inspire your own holiday tree, but I wanted to focus a little bit more on the details of a tree on this post, namely the ornaments! And what other place to find gorgeously gothic baubles to put on your Creepmas tree than Etsy?

I love the unique items that can be found browsing Etsy, including lots and lots of spooky Christmas decorations! The ornaments could be a nice treat for yourself, but I also think these special items make wonderful holiday gifts that help build heartfelt memories.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite gothic ornaments I found while browsing Etsy:

(not a fan of the feathers used, tho)

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