10.08.2011

popcorn and some obscure horror movie recommendations

When the fiance and I have a weekend evening at home, we like to watch movies. Usually two. First, we put on a "serious" movie--that is, something we actually want to see, usually from our Netflix queues. The fiance usually goes for anything involving spaceships, memory loss, time travel, science gone wrong, and/or romance. I usually go for anything involving claymation, Udo Kier, existentialism (especially if French, Swedish, or Danish), and/or pre-1940s filming. So the first movie fits in one of those categories. For the second feature, we scan Netflix's Instant Streaming lists for horror movies.

If you don't have Netflix, you might not know that in addition to really popular movies, the most common things on instant streaming are obscure low-budget, and/or foreign (all of which means it was cheaper for netflix to get the rights). As it turns out, obscure/low-budget/foreign are all of our favorite adjectives for horror movies. So many innovative movies! So many absurdly derivative ones! So many frightening ones! So many unintentionally laughable ones!

To really enjoy watching horror movies, you need two things: darkness and popcorn.
Popcorn is pretty healthy for you, as snacks go. It's whole-grain and low in calories. You can make it in a microwave, in an airpopper, or on the stove. We don't have the former two appliances, so we do the last option!

Making popcorn on the stove isn't hard, though it may seem intimidating at first. And if you ever mess it up and burn it, the clean-up after isn't much fun. So don't mess up! Follow these steps:


  1. Measure out your popcorn. A medium-large batch (like the one in the metal bowl below, which makes 2 gigantic servings or 3-4 normal ones) is about 1/3 cup. Pour into a large pan for which you have a lid.
  2. Add oil. Canola/olive/vegetable, whatever you've got. Coconut is good too, but you have to be ready for that distinct flavor. Depending on how much popcorn you use, you'll want around 1 tablespoon. You want enough that it coats the bottom of the pan, as well as the kernels when you swish them around.
  3. Swish around all the popcorn kernels until they're coated with oil.
  4. Cover the pan, then turn the burner on medium heat. Swish/swirl the pan around often, not moving it far from the burner. Resist the urge to peek; doing that releases heat and makes everything take longer. Keep swishing/swirling every minute or so until you start hearing popping. Get out a large bowl and have it ready near the stove.
  5. Once you start hearing popping, now swish/swirl the pan around constantly over the burner, giving it a good shake (holding down the lid!) when you can. Any popcorn that sits at the bottom/against the side of the pan too long risks burning, so you want all that popcorn to keep moving! And this way the unpopped kernels sink to the bottom, where they'll heat up.
  6. If it sounds like it's getting full (you can sort of hear the popcorn rubbing against the lid), quickly open the lid, pour half the popcorn into the bowl, then re-lid and return to the burner.
  7. The popcorn is done when the popping stops. Turn off heat, remove lid, pour popcorn into bowl, and top with whatever you want.

The whole process takes less than ten minutes, and at the end, you have popcorn! I love my homemade Cracker Jack-y popcorn, but the fiance doesn't like his popcorn sweet, so we usually go for some combination of salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, herbs, and/or the nori flakes I found at a Japanese grocery store. Stir well. If you used plenty of oil in step 2, the toppings should stay on pretty well, if not, a small drizzle of oil, soy sauce, or liquid aminos should help the toppings stick.
Now that you've got your movie-watching snack, you're all set to turn off the lights and watch something scary! Here are some of my favorite lesser-known horror movies, all the better for you to enjoy your October!

  • The Eye--The original Chinese version, not the Jessica Alba version. So many creepy moments.
  • Thirst--Korean vampires might just be the best vampires.
  • Suspiria--This one is a little more "weird" than "scary," but it's also a fundemental 70s horror movie. And Udo Kier is in it, SO YOUNG AND DASHING.
  • A Tale of Two Sisters--We like to try to figure out what's going to happen in movies. We thought we had this one all figured out, and then it went haywire.
  • Pan's Labyrinth--The best horror movies, to me, have supernatural elements, but recognize that the real horror is in how people are capable of treating others. Guillermo del Toro gets it.
  • The Devil's Backbone--Tragic and scary and everything I said above about Pan's Labyrinth.
  • The Orphanage--Ditto Pans Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone
  • [Rec]--Another movie where we tried to figure out what was happening and DID NOT HAVE A CLUE.
  • Phone--A Korean movie that sounds boring, gets interesting. Had a lot of turns we didn't expect.
  • Pandorum--Space horror! Not usually my thing (but totally the fiance's; see above), but I liked this one.
  • The Watcher in the Woods--I watched this often as a kid. It's still creepy today.
  • House (Hausu)--It's so absurd that it isn't scary at all, but you can't miss this one. It is so absurd.
  • Poltergeist--I know you've probably seen it, but I feel like this movie doesn't get the love it deserves. I love it so much I will even watch Poltergeist 2 and 3.
  • The Ring/Ringu--I like both the American and Japanese versions. Most people have seen this, but if you haven't, do.
  • Paranormal Activity--Again, you've probably seen this. But if not, do.
  • Ernest Scared Stupid--Do you remember the Ernest movies?! This isn't actually scary, but come on. Jim Varney! Halloween!

Do you have any horror movie recommendations?

10 comments:

TuxedoCat said... Best Blogger Tips

Love this post! One of my favorite MoFo ones to date. I love popcorn and a good horror movie. I was planning on posting a horror movie related post with my favorite ways to have popcorn later in the month. Thanks for those great movie recommendations and the inspiration to make popcorn from scratch. Happy Halloween (early)!

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@TuxedoCat Excellent! I'm excited to see your recommendations!

Sarah said... Best Blogger Tips

Popcorn on the stove is the best. The oil makes it a lot less dry!

Nicole said... Best Blogger Tips

I hate popcorn (I worked at a movie theatre concession stand for 2 years), but love B grade horror movies. :) The Fantasia film festival in Montreal is a treasure trove of quirky films. Check out: Some Guy Who Kills People, Absentia, Rabies, Stake Land, Retribution, Antibodies, Re-Cycle.

nicklovin said... Best Blogger Tips

You know, I lovelovelove sci-fi and space stuff and I lovelovelove horror, but for some reason I could not get into Pandorum. A lot of good ones on your list, though.

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@nicklovin How funny, I normally don't love sci-fi or space stuff, but I did enjoy that one. Maybe it wasn't targeted at normal sci-fi fans...? It took me a while to get into it, if I remember correctly. I'd love to hear some suggestions from you, since it sounds like we're pretty on track with tastes! I'm not into gory/slasher movies, either. (I love your username, by the way! Ha!)

@Nicole We have friends who go to Fantasia every year, and we keep meaning to join them sometime! Maybe this year...

Rob Poulette said... Best Blogger Tips

Ernest Scared Stupid is not scary?

*Spoiler alert*

I still have a fear about suddenly rolling over in bed and finding a troll that wants to turn me into a doll.

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@Rob Poulette I forgot they got turned into dolls! I totally need to rewatch that.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Cool list! Check out The Best Horror Movie List at http://www.besthorrormovielist.com/ They have an extensive list.

Jennifer Anderson said... Best Blogger Tips

You have focused one every point at length. I truly enjoyed reading this thanks! popcorn time