It’s Valentine’s Day. A day for restaurants, greeting card makers, and department stores to fall in love with the dollars that roll in for the commercial holiday when no one gets the day off from work. If I sound cynical, I’m sorry. I actually like the opportunity to show appreciation to my sweetheart. Here’s some more appreciation for a few things I like in February.
- TRAIN TO BUSAN (Netflix, Rated R). I admit I had zombie fatigue, thinking enough with the undead already! I get it. They’re fast, they’re slow, they eat human flesh. But then I boarded the Train to Busan. This 2016 South Korean horror thriller injects the saturated zombie genre with a heartfelt shot of father-daughter dynamics combined with tense action sequences and terrifying zombies. Train to Busan is an instant zombie classic on par with George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead films and the AMC TV series The Walking Dead. Check out the trailer on YouTube here.
- SICK HOUSE by JEFF STRAND. Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Strand delivers a relentlessly paced haunted-house/home-invasion horror novel. As I wrote in my Amazon review, Sick House “is Poltergeist with a little more juice.” It’s about an average family of four who moves into a house with a history of murder. Of course, Strand adds his two key ingredients: humor and snappy dialogue. Even the ghosts are chatty in this one. And what a final scene! Did not see that one coming. Check it out on Amazon here.
- THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD (Netflix). This vulgar, dark British dramedy about a 17-year-old couple who run away together is a pleasant surprise. James, who’s emotionally dead inside, suspects he’s a psychopath and selects his foul-mouthed classmate Alyssa to kill. He pretends to fall in love with her and agrees with her plan to escape their troubled home lives. A funny thing happens along the way: James starts to feel. At eight fast-paced episodes, it’s the perfect show to binge-watch. Check out the trailer on YouTube here.
- BY THE WAY, I FORGIVE YOU by BRANDI CARLILE. Has there been a better singer-songwriter since Carlile released her first album in 2005? The title track from her 2007 sophomore effort, The Story, remains my favorite song of all time. This album adds to her stellar string of emotionally packed releases about the stuff in our hearts and souls. Example: “There are moments I could hold you forever, and there are moments that lasted way too long.” Wow! That’s from her song, “Whatever You Do,” which is both intimate and epic. Carlile releases the new album on Friday, February 16. Check it out on Amazon here.
- “THE BOY” by SHANNON AND THE CLAMS. This California-based band seamlessly fuses garage punk, 1960s rock and roll, and a doo-wop vibe into affecting tunes and catchy riffs. Their new album, Onion, drops on Friday, February 16, and “The Boy” is a highlight. About someone who carries emotional scars from his childhood, “The Boy” sounds like a classic Del Shannon tune, which, by the way, Shannon and the Clams do a kick-ass cover of “Runaway.” Check out the video of “The Boy” on YouTube here.
VALENTINE’S DAY BONUS: SHORT STORIES
- HORROR TREE. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I decided to shamelessly share the love of my short story “A Poem for Annabel” with you. It’s my third 100-word short story to appear in the Trembling With Fear feature on my favorite website, horrortree.com. The good news is if you don’t like mine, there are seven other twisted love stories by talented authors to read. Check out the stories here.
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A LINK TO WHAT I LIKED IN JANUARY: