I’m not saying these are the best movies ever (though many are favorites), and I have divided this up into ten different categories, but I thought it might be fun to share this with you all. These are movies that shocked and amazed me, films that horrified and inspired me, work that has influenced my writing. I hope to see your head nodding as you read down this list, but more importantly, I hope you find a few movies that you have NOT seen yet. Maybe those films will provide you with some entertainment, terror, wonder, and excitement. ENJOY!
ONE: A24 FILMS
- Hereditary: Scared me to death in theaters, and also later, at home. Wow.
- The Witch: Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? I would.
- Under the Skin: What a haunting arthouse flick. Scarlett at her best.
- Enemy: A paranoid thriller that will shock and surprise. That ending!
- Ex Machina: A great SF/AI film that asks what it means to be human.
- Blade Runner: Quite possibly my favorite movie ever. Set the bar high, still holds up.
- Mulholland Drive: My favorite Lynch, the truth is shocking, the movie so stylish.
- Memento: Entirely backwards! And with short term memory loss, that’s trouble.
- Seven: What’s in the box! Such tension, great acting, tons of atmosphere.
- No Country for Old Men: Such a creepy bad guy, in Anton Chigurh. Lots of emotion.
THREE: STUDIO GHIBLI
- Howl’s Moving Castle: Has always been my favorite, my first. So weird and cool.
- Spirited Away: So strange, very original, definitely creeped me out at times.
- My Neighbor Totoro: Such a sweet film, but not without the oddities. Lots of heart.
- Princess Mononoke: An epic film, with so much to root for, great characters.
- Nausicaä and the Valley of the Wind: War, environment, and lots of drama.
- Caddyshack: Classic, hilarious, great cast, lots of lines to quote.
- Pee Wee’s Big Adventure: I know you are but what am I. So funny, and weird!
- Rango: Totally cracks me up, not just for kids, adult references, surreal at times.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High: No shoes, no shirt—no service.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox: Something about the dry humor just cracks me up.
FIVE: CULT CLASSICS
- Repo Man: Always the first thing I think of when I hear “cult film.” Plate of shrimp.
- Donnie Darko: Such a dark, strange film, but a compelling one, for sure.
- Ghost World: A great graphic novel, and film. Excellent cast.
- Clerks: Starting to show its age, but so many great lines. Early Kevin Smith.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show: Hopefully you first saw it in theaters with all the props.
- Silence of the Lambs: A classic, with an excellent cast.
- Leon, the Professional: Definitely not formulaic. Lots of heart. Breaks the mold.
- The Game: It’s an older flick (1997) but the head games—wow. So good.
- Cape Fear: I like De Niro’s version, he’s so damn creepy.
- The Prestige: What a game of cat and mouse, has us guessing to the end.
SEVEN: TRANSGRESSIVE FILMS
- Fight Club: The first rule about fight club…had to list this one. Great book, too.
- Requiem for a Dream: What a dark, bleak, insane film, the ending unbearable.
- Trainspotting: Likewise, what a downward spiral this one is. Trippy.
- Oldboy: A wild ride, and then the ending is just so…shocking, in so many ways.
- Kids: So screwed up, but it still sticks with me. Unsettling. Dark stuff.
EIGHT: EDGY DRAMA
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Just breaks my heart every time.
- American Beauty: A haunting film about so much—love, intolerance, lust, loss.
- The Machinist: Christian Bale at his best, so surreal, and the ending!
- Shutter Island: Love Lehane’s books, this story really takes us for a ride.
- The Usual Suspects: Love the way this story is told, another intense ending.
NINE: SCIENCE FICTION
- Alien: Set the bar very high, inspired so many other films. Great franchise.
- Arrival: When you understand what’s going on, it breaks your heart. I always cry.
- Interstellar: Another one that crushes me at the end, such a great ride.
- Inception: The layers and layers and layers—goes so deep. That ending!
- The Matrix: I mean, another trendsetter, still holds up, great effects.
TEN: CONTEMPORARY HORROR
- Black Swan: I like the mix of lust and danger, good casting, too.
- The Ring: Still freaks me out, and it was kind of ahead of its time.
- Get Out: Another film that breaks the mold, so much paranoia, and tension.
- A Dark Song: Love the rituals and authority, and then that ending! Whoa.
- Spring: A romance! And so much more. Very original. Touching ending.
You don’t have to take my online fiction writing classes to benefit from my referral program. You don’t have to be a writer. Just spread the word, and you get cold, hard cash (OR double the amount in class credit, if you ARE looking to take a class.) I’ve increased my rates. Thanks! Website is here: https://www.storyvilleonline.com
Storyville Referral Program
$5 cash, $10 credit—Any Lit Reactor class (Flash Fiction, Short Story Mechanics, etc.)
$20 cash, $40 credit—Advanced Creative Writing Workshop
$40 cash, $80 credit—Contemporary Dark Fiction
$100 cash, $200 credit—Novel Writing Class
Just wanted to let you all know that I will have a little extra time this summer in case you have a novel that needs editing. Here are some of my past clients and projects—over 100 titles going back to 2013 (with many new titles being shopped right now). For more information on rates and terms, please head over to Storyville Studio. Thanks!
Books Edited by Richard Thomas
- Burnt Tongues – with Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Widmyer, Medallion Books (Bram Stoker nominee, This is Horror, INDIEFAB and USA Books News Best winner for Best Anthology)
- Exigencies – Dark House Press (Shirley Jackson nominee)
- Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers, The – Black Lawrence Press
- New Black, The – Dark House Press
- After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones, Dark House Press (Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson nominee, This is Horror winner for Best Collection)
- Dead Reckoning by Dino Parenti, Crystal Lake Publishing
- Vile Men by Rebecca Jones-Howe, Dark House Press
- Gamut magazine, 12 issues, from 2016 to 2018
- La Folie Forty by Thierry Tellier and Jennifer Jones, Baer Books Press
- Federales by Christopher Irvin, Shotgun Honey
- Beneath Ash and Bone by D. Alexander Ward, Necro Publications
- Black Canyon by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books (Lou Allin Memorial Award winner)
- Box of Bones by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books
- Neighbors by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books
- Rewind by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books
- Run by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books
- Six Bullets by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books
- Alone on the Shield by Kirk Landers, Academy Chicago Publishers
- Bald New World by Peter Tieryas, Perfect Edge Books
- Bone Weaver’s Orchard, The by Sarah Read, Trepidatio Publishing (Bram Stoker nominee)
- Catacombs, The by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books (Australian Horror Writers Association Shadows Award and IPPY Bronze Medal/Horror winner)
- Dublin by Eli Wilde and Anna DeVine, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing
- Echo Lake by Letitia Trent, Dark House Press
- Greylock by Paula Cappa, Crispin Books (Chanticleer Book Award winner)
- Helltown by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books
- Island of the Dolls by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books (Foreword INDIES Horror Book of the Year Award Gold Medal winner)
- Mind is a Razorblade, The by Max Booth III, Kraken Press
- Milk-Blood by Mark Matthews, Wicked Run Press
- Mjolnir by Brian James, CreateSpace
- Neophyte by Eli Wilde and Anna DeVine, Matador Publishing
- New America Utopia Calling by Jeremy Bates, Ghillinnein Books
- Old Farmer’s Road by Isaiyan Morrison, CreateSpace
- Paper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters, Dark House Press
- Ragnarok by Brian James, America Star Books
- Ramblings of a Revenant, The by David Tromblay, CreateSpace
- Robin Randle Stories, The by Wood Dickinson, CreateSpace
- Scratch by Steve Himmer, Dark House Press
- Seeking Redemption by Elizabeth Zguta, EZ Indie Publishing
- Toxicity by Max Booth III, Post Mortem Press
- Truth About the Moon and the Stars, The by Brian Jacobson, Montag Press
- United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas, Angry Robot Books (Seiun Award for Best Translated Novel 2017)
- Until Death by Kari Kilgore, Spiral Publishing
Another success story from my writing classes! So exciting. Jonathan is doing such great work. Thanks for the kind words, brother. Onward and upward.
Stories are strange.
So, my story Mouths Filled with Seawater will be published at the start of next month (not, as I thought, next week) and since it’s my first big publication I thought I’d write something about it.
I reread the first draft just now and I honestly didn’t hate it. This is not to say that it’s perfect (can they ever be?) or that I had things down as they should be. But structurally there’s something solid about it.
In my memory the story came together quickly, written in the local library here in Dundalk, free-associating like a disgraced actor in a detective’s office – (question: is this how all stories are formed, consciously or not?) – from things that were in my immediate psychological and physical vicinity.
The setting is a shimmery, out-of-focus version of my hometown. The psychologist-type figure was named for my friend…
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Some kind words about my co-written story, “Golden Sun.”
How on Earth did 10 years of Ellen Datlow’s “Best Horror of the Year” series go by? To be honest, a couple of those years probably passed while I was waiting for this WordPress page to load just now, but even so. Anyway, it’s been a few years since I got round to posting a review of one of these, and I’ve not got the time to catch up on that, so I will just say that the quality of this series has not declined over time and volumes 1 to 10 are all worth reading. But what of this eleventh anthology?
Things kick off with a name I hadn’t seen around for a while: Anne Billson, whose 1993 corporate vampire novel Suckers I enjoyed as a kid. ‘I Remember Nothing’ begins in classic “torture-porn” territory but Billson is somehow able to write about a very worn-out horror…
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Great list of authors and titles. Love Come Closer and The Bone Weaver’s Orchard.
Who else struggles with reading ’cause of the time it takes to get invested in & to complete a book? 🙋
Between work and life stuff, sometimes it can be difficult to dedicate the amount of time to reading that I feel the hobby truly deserves. This is where short fiction often comes in handy for me – short story collections, or novellas specifically!
I love bite-sized literature for its accessibility to the average, overworked, super busy adult. That isn’t to say I dislike longer works – I have a bunch of books lining my shelves that prove I love huge tomes just as much as the next bookworm – but these shorter stories are really great at getting me out of a reading slump, or even helping me hit a reading goal!
I put together a list of 10 that I’ve read written by ladies writing in the horror…
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I’m thrilled to announce my novelette, “Ring of Fire,” has made the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award in the Long Fiction category.
This was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written. I knew going in that pairing horror and lust was going to be difficult—not echoing Hellraiser, avoiding anything that came across as misogynistic, as I didn’t want to alienate the reader. I was inspired by Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, as well as The Warren, by Brian Evenson, and a few movies at A24 I don’t want to mention, to avoid spoiling it. I also knew that I wanted the ending to be optimistic, but the entire epilogue was a surprise.
Here are a few kind words that reviewers had to say about the work:
“’Ring of Fire’ by Richard Thomas—which tackles ‘lust’—is by far my favorite story in this collection and, in my opinion, the most skillfully rendered. First of all, like all the other stories, Thomas doesn’t give us a clichéd horror story about someone’s sexual urges leading them to a grisly death. However, this is Richard Thomas we’re talking about. I knew he wouldn’t lean on cliches going in. Instead, he tackles the intersection of loneliness, guilt, shame, grief, the desire for companionship, and, yes—sexuality. But sexuality through the lens of longing for companionship, for physical comfort and belonging, for intimate connection. I’m not going to say anything else about this story, except that lots of folks claim to write “science fiction/horror” blends, but few get it right. Thomas gets it extremely right in this.”
“‘Ring of Fire’ is undoubtedly the most ‘horror’ of all the stories in this anthology, an unsettling pot-boiler that seethes with atmosphere and dread. Following a lone researcher at a facility in some unknown snowy location, Richard Thomas is the master of withholding information and creating mystery. It is always as much about what we do not know than what we know; what he refuses to say, as what he says. Our narrator for this story is straight-up unreliable, and the world around them is unreliable too. As we progress, however, and notice these disturbing deja vu moments, these chimes of coincidence, we begin to piece together the deeper narrative of what is happening…Richard Thomas plays with us, and our expectations, capturing the kind of paranoia of Blade Runner and mixing it with the existential dread of 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are sci-fi elements here, but they are subtle; our narrator seems to barely grasp them, describing his processes and encounters with unease and uncertainty, the vocabulary of a man at his wit’s end. This story is about lust, yet Richard makes sex conspicuous by absence, all the while amping up the pressure-cooker of sexual tension until we are, like our protagonist isolated in a lone facility, about to implode.
Wish me luck! Fingers crossed!
2019 YEAR IN REVIEW:
- “Golden Sun” (novelette) with Michael Wehunt, Damien Angelica Walters, and Kristi DeMeester in Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eleven (reprint)
- “Undone” in Gorgon: Stories of Emergence (Pantheon Magazine)
- “The Caged Bird Sings in a Darkness of Its Own Creation” in Shallow Creek (STORGY) currently recommended for a Bram Stoker Award
- “Ring of Fire” (novelette) in The Seven Deadliest (Cutting Block Books) currently recommended for a Bram Stoker Award
- “In the Shadows” in The Field Guide to Evil (MONDO / Alamo Drafthouse)
- “The H Word: How The Witch and Get Out Helped Usher in the New Wave of Elevated Horror” Nightmare (non-fiction) currently recommended for a Bram Stoker Award
- “Clown Face” in Grease Paint and 45s (Down & Out Books)
- “Open Waters” in When the Clock Strikes 13 (In Your Face Books)
- “Love Letters” in Shallow Waters: A Flash Fiction Anthology (Crystal Lake) (reprint)
- Three flash fiction stories for Gotham Ghostwriters, on Twitter.
Not a bad year!
COMING IN 2020:
- “Battle Not With Monsters” in Cemetery Dance
- “Saudade” in PRISMS (PS Publishing)
- “Kindred Spirits” TBA anthology (Lycan Valley Press Publications)
- “How Not to Come Undone” XVIII (Underland Press) (reprint)
- “Chrysalis” in Christmas Horror, Volume Three (Dark Regions Press) (reprint)
- “Little Red Wagon” at Cossmass Infinities (reprint)
- “In His House” in TBA anthology