50 Films to Know Me

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

  1. Hereditary: Scared me to death in theaters, and also later, at home. Wow.
  2. The Witch: Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? I would.
  3. Under the Skin: What a haunting arthouse flick. Scarlett at her best.
  4. Enemy: A paranoid thriller that will shock and surprise. That ending!
  5. Ex Machina: A great SF/AI film that asks what it means to be human.

TWO: NEO-NOIR

  1. Blade Runner: Quite possibly my favorite movie ever. Set the bar high, still holds up.
  2. Mulholland Drive: My favorite Lynch, the truth is shocking, the movie so stylish.
  3. Memento: Entirely backwards! And with short term memory loss, that’s trouble.
  4. Seven: What’s in the box! Such tension, great acting, tons of atmosphere.
  5. No Country for Old Men: Such a creepy bad guy, in Anton Chigurh. Lots of emotion.

THREE: STUDIO GHIBLI

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle: Has always been my favorite, my first. So weird and cool.
  2. Spirited Away: So strange, very original, definitely creeped me out at times.
  3. My Neighbor Totoro: Such a sweet film, but not without the oddities. Lots of heart.
  4. Princess Mononoke: An epic film, with so much to root for, great characters.
  5. Nausicaä and the Valley of the Wind: War, environment, and lots of drama.

FOUR: COMEDIES

  1. Caddyshack: Classic, hilarious, great cast, lots of lines to quote.
  2. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure: I know you are but what am I. So funny, and weird!
  3. Rango: Totally cracks me up, not just for kids, adult references, surreal at times.
  4. Fast Times at Ridgemont High: No shoes, no shirt—no service.
  5. Fantastic Mr. Fox: Something about the dry humor just cracks me up.

FIVE: CULT CLASSICS

  1. Repo Man: Always the first thing I think of when I hear “cult film.” Plate of shrimp.
  2. Donnie Darko: Such a dark, strange film, but a compelling one, for sure.
  3. Ghost World: A great graphic novel, and film. Excellent cast.
  4. Clerks: Starting to show its age, but so many great lines. Early Kevin Smith.
  5. Rocky Horror Picture Show: Hopefully you first saw it in theaters with all the props.

SIX: THRILLERS

  1. Silence of the Lambs: A classic, with an excellent cast.
  2. Leon, the Professional: Definitely not formulaic. Lots of heart. Breaks the mold.
  3. The Game: It’s an older flick (1997) but the head games—wow. So good.
  4. Cape Fear: I like De Niro’s version, he’s so damn creepy.
  5. The Prestige: What a game of cat and mouse, has us guessing to the end.

SEVEN: TRANSGRESSIVE FILMS

  1. Fight Club: The first rule about fight club…had to list this one. Great book, too.
  2. Requiem for a Dream: What a dark, bleak, insane film, the ending unbearable.
  3. Trainspotting: Likewise, what a downward spiral this one is. Trippy.
  4. Oldboy: A wild ride, and then the ending is just so…shocking, in so many ways.
  5. Kids: So screwed up, but it still sticks with me. Unsettling. Dark stuff.

EIGHT: EDGY DRAMA

  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Just breaks my heart every time.
  2. American Beauty: A haunting film about so much—love, intolerance, lust, loss.
  3. The Machinist: Christian Bale at his best, so surreal, and the ending!
  4. Shutter Island: Love Lehane’s books, this story really takes us for a ride.
  5. The Usual Suspects: Love the way this story is told, another intense ending.

NINE: SCIENCE FICTION

  1. Alien: Set the bar very high, inspired so many other films. Great franchise.
  2. Arrival: When you understand what’s going on, it breaks your heart. I always cry.
  3. Interstellar: Another one that crushes me at the end, such a great ride.
  4. Inception: The layers and layers and layers—goes so deep. That ending!
  5. The Matrix: I mean, another trendsetter, still holds up, great effects.

TEN: CONTEMPORARY HORROR

  1. Black Swan: I like the mix of lust and danger, good casting, too.
  2. The Ring: Still freaks me out, and it was kind of ahead of its time.
  3. Get Out: Another film that breaks the mold, so much paranoia, and tension.
  4. A Dark Song: Love the rituals and authority, and then that ending! Whoa.
  5. Spring: A romance! And so much more. Very original. Touching ending.

“Ring of Fire” Makes Preliminary Bram Stoker Award Ballot!

 

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.”
Cemetery Dance

“‘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.
STORGY

Wish me luck! Fingers crossed!

Award Eligible Work

I have a few stories that are eligible for various award nominations—Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, etc.

“Ring of Fire” is a sf/fantasy/horror hybrid, set in an isolated arctic location. It’s novelette length, inspired by Annihilation, The Warren, and various A24 films. This was a real challenge to write, but I think it’s some of my best work to date. There are a number of threads that run through this story, and an ending that genuinely surprised me. It’s dark, but not without optimism.

PRAISE:

“’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.”
Cemetery Dance

“‘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.
STORGY

“The Caged Bird Sings in a Darkness of Its Own Creation” is a clown story, in four acts, and is a similar blend of sf/fantasy/horror, but much shorter, with an open-ended finish, influenced by Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone. I experimented with some POV shifts and timeline leaps (backwards and forwards) as well as an ending that is up to interpretation.

PRAISE:

“The final story, The Caged Bird Sings in a Darkness of Its Own Creation, by Richard Thomas, feels like the culmination of the entire collection. I am biased as a huge fan of Richard’s work, but he genuinely pulls out all the stops in this Lovecraftian tale. It is a dark creation story, delving into the origin of all myths. Richard peels back the layers, gives us an almost glacial sequence of images that lead to revelation, like the atom-bomb episode of the third season of Twin Peaks, yet he condenses that extended form into something comparatively microscopic—the prose is so controlledAt the end, we are left with a sense of the entirety of what has happened, something bargained, something lost, something dark and terrible learned. Richard may not be as prolific as Stephen King, but his work is just as memorable.

The Mindflayer

If you would like a PDF of either story, please PM me, or drop me a note to richardgthomasiii@gmail.com. Thanks!

How The Witch and Get Out Helped Usher in the New Wave of Elevated Horror

Did I ever tell you about this article I wrote for Nightmare? “The H Word: How The Witch and Get Out Helped Usher in the New Wave of Elevated Horror“. ENJOY!

“If you haven’t seen The Witch (2015) and Get Out (2017), you must have been living under a rock. The former was a breakout title for A24 Films, becoming the fifth highest grossing movie they’ve put out to date (with over $25 million dollars in earnings). And the latter was nominated for several Golden Globe and Academy Awards, winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Two very different films, they both took chances at the box office—with their stories, images, themes, settings, and overall experiences. By garnering financial and critical success, they opened the door for a slew of experimental, edgy, divisive horror films.”

Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eleven. I’m IN IT!

The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eleven, edited by Ellen Datlow, is out today. LOVE that cover art. It includes work by Laird Barron, Joe Hill, John Langan, and Gemma Files, among others, as well as “Golden Sun,” a novelette I co-wrote with Kristi DeMeester, Michael Wehunt, and Damien Angelica Walters. Pick up your copy today!

Burnt Tongues Out of Print, Copies for Sale

As you may or may not know, Medallion Press went bankrupt. I bought the last 15 cases of Burnt Tongues, the anthology I edited with Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke, Survivor) and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes, Pet Sematary). So it’s now out of print. I’m going to be selling signed copies for $10 + $3 shipping. USA only. Outside the USA shipping will be more. Sometimes MUCH more. But do inquire. It’s an edgy, dark, weird anthology. Transgressive fiction. If you have a book club and want to order multiple copies I can give you a greatly reduced cost (say 50% off). Email me at richardgthomasiii@gmail.com if you have any interest.

FULL TOC:

Live This Down Neil Krolicki 11
Charlie Chris Lewis Carter 29
Paper Gayle Towell 41
Mating Calls Tony Liebhard 55
Melody Michael De Vito, Jr. 77
F for Fake Tyler Jones 89
Mind and Soldier Phil Jourdan 109
Ingredients Richard Lemmer 123
The Line Forms on the Right Amanda Gowin 141
A Vodka Kind of Girl Matt Egan 155
Gasoline Fred Venturini 163
Dietary Brandon Tietz 187
Invisible Graffiti Adam Skorupskas 207
Bike Bryan Howie 217
Heavier Petting Brien Piechos 225
Engines, O-rings, and Astronauts Jason M. Fylan 247
Lemming Terence James Eeles 255
The Routine Keith Buie 281
Survived Gus Moreno 293
Zombie Whorehouse Daniel W. Broallt 305

The Seven Deadliest RELEASES TODAY!

Out today! Pick up your copy now. Reviews have been great. And I think my novelette, “Ring of Fire” is one of the best stories I’ve ever written. Edited by Patrick Beltran and D. Alexander Ward, with an introduction by Mercedes M. Yardley.

Throughout history, there have been certain moral evils so entangling, so alluring, that they routinely give birth to countless other evils in the hearts of human beings. From antiquity, these “capital vices” have been known as the seven deadly sins.

Now, from the editors who brought you Cutting Block Single Slices and Shadows Over Main Street, comes an all-new novella anthology featuring seven dark fiction authors at the top of their games, each writing passionately about one of The Seven Deadliest sins. Inside these pages:

  • John C. Foster spins “Gilda,” a yarn about Avarice;
  • Bracken MacLeod takes us on the road to Wrath with “A Short Madness”;
  • Kasey Lansdale’s “Cap Diamant” teaches us the steep cost of Pride;
  • Brian Kirk lays bare the Jealousy hidden beneath affluence in “Chisel and Stone”;
  • Rena Mason reveals a new and terrifying guise of Sloth in “Clevengers of the Carrion Sea”;
  • Richard Thomas examines Lust in his dystopian “Ring of Fire”; and
  • John F.D. Taff feeds us the darker aspects of Gluttony in “All You Care to Eat.”

These dark tales from a cabal of highly regarded and award-winning authors hold nothing back, so turn the pages and feast your eyes. The Seven Deadliest sins await you.

REVIEWS FOR RING OF FIRE

Ink Heist: “There are two things in this overview of his story “Ring of Fire” that should make you sit up and take notice. One of them is making a reader like a bad person, and the other is magical realism. As to the first, he’s a fucking master of it. His protagonist in Disintegration was a very bad man who commits some heinous and horrific acts throughout the book, yet all the same, I loved the hell out of him. I think that was because of Richard’s authorial voice and his alacrity with backstory, but I don’t know. Read it and see for yourself. And when I think of magical realism and the movement we call neo-noir, his is a name that pops instantly, unbidden, into my mind. The man has a marvelous eye for curating such material and a fucking exemplary ability to write it. So yes. If you aren’t yet excited about Richard’s inclusion in a book about the Seven Deadly Sins, get that way. When Mr. Thomas is in the mix, it’s always a good indicator that you’re in for one hell of an unexpected venture of discovery.”

Mother of Horror, Sadie Hartmann: “Lust was the next sin represented in the story, RING OF FIRE by Richard Thomas. I very much enjoyed how the author chose to unpack this story’s secrets slowly and methodically. It was fun for the reader to guess at what was going on and to have some theories as to who the protagonist was in the context of the world at large as well as his object of lust, Rebecca. I admit, my theory was correct. I loved the ending/epilogue of this one—great dystopian/sci-fi story that reminded me of a Black Mirror episode.”

AE Siraki: “Richard Thomas deals with Lust in “Ring of Fire,” in which the protagonist is obsessed with a woman, Rebecca. It’s a very trippy story and at first I thought that one or both of the characters were [redacted] meant to look like [redacted], but let’s just say things took a turn in a much more Alien-like direction and that fans of sci-fi horror will really get a kick out of this one. Thomas explains in his afterword that he wanted to do something different with his pairing of lust and horror, and rest assured, he has pulled that off.”

MORE TO COME.