Movie Review

Top 10 Horror Movies for Halloween

Halloween is less than 2 weeks away! In between prepping for a wedding (not mine) and a Halloween party (mine), I’ve been watching so many horror movies again this year. Of course, I think horror is a great genre year-round, but for those of you who only dabble in the black arts during Autumn, I thought I’d share my top 10 picks!

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1.The Conjuring

IMDB Description: “Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.”

I think this is one of the greatest modern horror movies. It’s based on a fascinating true story, and the cinematography is top-notch. It’s moody/atmospheric and the jump scares are kept to a minimum (which means that you’re always on guard and aren’t able to get used to them). There’s a reason that this film was successful enough to launch a huge franchise (The Conjuring 2, The Nun, Annabelle, etc.)

 

2.Hell House, LLC

IMDB Description: “Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened.”

This is for sure one of my favorite independent horror movies. Again, instead of being replete with jump scares, there are lots of subtly creepy things that gradually build into a great ending. I highly recommend this one (but I do not recommend its two sequels). Bonus: creepy clowns.

 

3.The Descent

IMDB Description: “A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.”

This movie has multiple things going for it: female friendship, claustrophobia, and weird underground creatures. My favorite thing about it really is how well it manages to make the viewer to feel trapped as well. This is a fascinating, unique film (which did not need a sequel – don’t watch the sequel).

 

4.The Ring

IMDB Description: “A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone one week to the day after they view it.”

I watched this film in junior high so it has a special place in my dark heart as being one of my first real horror movie experiences. Fun fact: I had a friend who was terrified of this movie. One day, she left her locker open and I put a note that said, “Seven Days” inside the locker and closed it. To this day, I think that’s one of the meanest things I’ve ever done. Overall, this is just a well-done horror movie with a surprisingly heartfelt plot and some stylistic cinematography.

 

5.Scream

IMDB Description: “A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.”

I love that this is a self-aware horror movie. Fans of horror will love the references to various horror tropes that pervade this film. I love the entire Scream franchise (including the spin-off TV series). These movies are great slasher flicks which don’t take themselves too seriously.

 

6.The Rite

IMDB Description: “American seminary student Michael Kovak  travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.”

Inspired by a true story, this is a great movie about faith. The acting is also superb since it stars none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins! This is the kind of movie that has plenty of scares but also makes you think about your own beliefs.

 

7.Get Out

IMDB Description: “A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.”

This is a groundbreaking movie that deserves a place in history for causing critics to start taking horror more seriously. This film, through its fantastic and nuanced discussion of race in America, proved that horror can have something to say. I highly recommend this one!

 

8.Silent Hill

IMDB Description: “A woman, Rose, goes in search for her adopted daughter within the confines of a strange, desolate town called Silent Hill.”

This is definitely my most controversial pick as it was panned by critics and horror-lovers alike. But I don’t care – I love this movie! Yes, it’s cheesy and based on a video game, but I think the special effects are great and some of the monsters (the nurses, pyramid-head, etc.) are super cool!

 

9.Trick ‘r Treat

IMDB Description: “Five interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband; and a mean old man meets his match with a demonic, supernatural trick-or-treater.”

I don’t often like anthology films, but this is a really good one (which is also perfect thematically for Halloween). What sets this film apart is that the five stories are actually connected in a loose but organic way which makes it feel really complete. This one is definitely worth a watch!

 

10.They Look Like People

IMDB Description: “Suspecting that people around him are turning into evil creatures, a troubled man questions whether to protect his only friend from an impending war, or from himself.”

I love psychological horror and this one kept me guessing until the very end – is this guy crazy or are evil things lurking about? This one is dark and suspenseful but more disturbing than scary. Overall, it’s one of the best low-budget horror options out there.

 

Well, I hope I’ve inspired you to give horror a try this Halloween season! Are you already a horror fan? What are some of your favorites? Please, let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

 

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The Scents of Autumn

Happy Autumn! The weather is finally seasonally appropriate here in Cincinnati – crisp air, colorful leaves, and Halloween decorations creeping up everywhere! As the seasons have been transitioning, I’ve been thinking about my own changes. This has been a great year for personal growth (even though there’s a lot I still need to work through). I know I haven’t blogged much this year, but I’ve just been focusing on other things: friends, family, fitness, poetry, and discovering other things that bring me happiness. However, I am missing blogging about books, movies, and beauty/fashion. While I did delete my dedicated beauty/fashion blog when it began to feel too all-consuming, I’d like to start incorporating some of those interests here in this blog.

For my first post, I’ve been thinking about the scents of autumn. While I gravitate toward light floral scents during spring and summer, I definitely crave something warmer as the weather cools. These are my top three scents for autumn:

 

1. Amber Romance by Victoria’s Secret

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Manufacturer’s Description: “Gourmand. Deep Amber. Sugar Kisses. Chasing sunsets.”

Okay, well Victoria’s Secret definitely should have a better description for this one. It is definitely a sweet amber scent, although “gourmand” makes it sound like it smells more like a dessert than it does. While I’m not typically a fan of sugary scents, this one is warm enough that the sweetness is balanced out by the amber. It’s a great, inexpensive everyday scent that evokes autumn evenings.

 

2. Guilty by Gucci

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Manufacturer’s Description: “Created for a contemporary libertine, Gucci Guilty for Her is defined by a signature Fougère accord of Geranium usually found in men’s scents. Intimate and magical lilac flower is laced with amber to radiate warmth and grace at the fragrance’s heart.”

First we had an overly simplistic description, and now we have an overly flowery one. However, I like that it suggests a hint of masculine energy. While not really a typical unisex scent, there is something less feminine about this scent that I’m drawn to. When I need to feel like a strong, powerful go-getter, I grab this perfume. It always gives me the professional boost I need. Like the first fragrance, one if its main notes is amber, although this one is accompanied by geranium, pepper, and patchouli. It has a hint of musk which lends it maturity but it is not overpowering or matronly.

 

3. Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent 

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Manufacturer’s Description: “Black Opium Eau de Parfum is the seductively intoxicating feminine fragrance from Yves Saint Laurent. The opening notes of adrenaline-rich coffee and the sweet sensuality of vanilla recline into the softness of white flowers for a modern, young, addictive fragrance. YSL Black Opium perfume is a gourmand women’s fragrance. The seductive perfumes of black coffee and white flowers make this a sensuous perfume with an edge.”

This is a great description of this scent. The blend of coffee and vanilla mixed with a gentle floral hint makes this a great fragrance that seems quite sensual. It’s not a sugary scent because the vanilla is quite warm already, but it does have a nice sweetness to its fragrance.

 

Well, those are my three scents for this season. I’ve found myself grabbing for one of these every single day. Do you find that your fragrance preferences change seasonally? What scent are you gravitating towards right now? Feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Book Review

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Every so often, a book comes along that haunts me long after the last page. As a voracious reader, I feel like it takes a lot to impress me, but I recently had the opportunity to read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and I was absolutely blown away!

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I can confidently say that this book is one that I’ll have to reread multiple times. At it’s heart, this is a character-driven narrative about a girl who grows up in near-isolation in a marsh. But it’s so much more than that. This close character study is a heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale mixed with a love story entangled within a murder mystery. Here’s a breakdown of the major elements:

Character – Kya is a dynamic character. Watching her grow up on these pages was amazing. The characterization was heartfelt and I shared in her joys and sorrows. The way the author builds this empathy was fantastic and allowed the character-building to be a main driving force in this story.

Plot – While a secondary characteristic, there was still enough plot that this book didn’t feel aimless. The murder mystery in the story is not a typical whodunnit that builds escalating suspense, but it does provide a needed structure. Since the book jumps around between time periods, it also acts as an anchor to the “present.”

Writing Style – Owens’ writing style is hauntingly beautiful. Her lyrical words and expert metaphors made me want to reread sentences over again and continually experience the poetic beauty of her prose. While also a research scientist, this is Owens’ first novel, and her love of nature is absolutely evident. Her descriptions of the setting make it come alive as if it is a character in its own rights.

I can’t say enough good things about this book! I’ve already purchased two copies because I want to lend them out to everyone I know. If you’re in a book club, this would also be a great (easy to discuss) selection.

Have you read this one? If so, please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

Personal, Update

New Short Story FREE – St. Isabelle’s Downfall

I have exciting news! One of my favorite short stories is now available to read FREE on Fiction on the Web. I wrote “St. Isabelle’s Downfall” as an undergrad, and it took a really long time to find it a home. It’s a psychological horror story about a character I was developing at the time for a novel that I finished but was never happy with. I know I’ve grown so much as a writer since this story (this was pre-MFA!) but I just have always liked the concept and couldn’t give up on it.

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Going back through the short stories I’ve workshopped over the years has really reminded me that I prefer shorter mediums. I just don’t think I have the attention span needed to be a good novelist, and I honestly prefer the brevity and experimentation that are allowed in short stories and flash fiction. Hopefully, I’ll have more stories to share soon!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany Renee Harmon

Personal, Update

Making Progress…Slowly but Surely

It’s already June! It’s crazy to think about how quickly this year is flying by, but it’s been a great one so far.

Regarding writing, I’ve had three acceptances so far this year: two short stories and one poem. The more I try to write longer works, the more it seems apparent that writing shorter things just comes more naturally. So, I think that’s what I’m going to focus on for a while.

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Anyway, I just wanted to check in and share a bit:

Here’s one of the short stories from this year – “Appendix A

And here’s a poem that won’t be in print until February but is available online already – “The Vanishing Act

And stay tuned for July 8th when my short story “St. Isabelle’s Downfall” comes out in that issue of Fiction on the Web. It’s one of my favorites of all the stories I’ve written, and it’s taken literally 7 years to find it a home!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Personal

May 2019 Favorites

I can’t believe how fast this year is flying! It’s nearly the end of May! Well, here are some of the things I’ve been loving this month:

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Rain! 

This month has been super rainy here in Cincinnati, OH, but I actually kind of love it. I really like how relaxing and cozy a spring storm can be. It makes me want to curl up on the couch with a cozy mystery and a cup of tea. Also, the smell right after rain is one of my favorite natural scents. I want a candle that actually smells like this.

 

Recumbent Bikes!

I’ve been dieting and exercising a lot in may – actually I’m down about 10 pounds this month! While I’m not going to lie and pretend I suddenly enjoy broccoli, I have discovered that I love the little recumbent bike setup that I have in my apartment. It’s a great way to burn calories while also watching a movie!

 

Southern Charm!

Southern Charm is my new favorite reality tv show on Bravo. It’s not actually new – just new to me. It follows a bunch of socialites of various ages who live in Charleston, South Carolina. It is FILLED with drama! My two favorite people on the show are Patricia (a very fancy, matriarchal figure who is hilariously direct!) and Cameran (a super down-to-earth person who isn’t afraid to point out the absurdities of her friends).

 

Fit-and-Flare Dresses!

I bought my Easter dress online on Amazon and got a fit-and-flare dress from Oxiuly. It’s super flattering, even on my curvy shape. I loved it so much that I bought 5 more in different colors and patterns. They’re so comfortable too and even have pockets! Afterwards, I even saw this Buzzfeed article which shows that my experience with this dress is apparently nearly universal.

 

Well, those are the highlights for this month! Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

Book Review

Book Review: Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien

I love a good cozy mystery series, and Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop series is quickly soaring to the top of my list of favorites. I was recently able to read Murder Lo Mein, the third installment in this series.

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In this book, the protagonist Lana Lee continues to work in her family shop while also stumbling across a murder intertwined with a local noodle competition. While the general plot is a familiar one for a cozy mystery, what sets this one apart is its humor. These books are just so funny, and I love that the protagonist is in her 20s and is Chinese-American, which is a refreshing change for the genre.

Sure, the mystery plays out like most cozies do, but the heart of the story is really the continuing dynamic between Lana Lee and her family. Her relationship with her parents is complicated and believable. I also love the progression of her relationship with Detective Adam Trudeau. Overall, this has been a great mystery series that I highly recommend to people who love cozy mysteries! Just know that you’ll also develop a huge craving for noodles while you read this one!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany