Posts Tagged ‘horror movies’

Monster Librarian’s Horror Movie Survival Guide, Part 2: Tips from Mom

Published by Kirsten on October 28th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

I’m going to preface this by saying that my mom does not  watch horror movies. In fact, she does not like the horror genre at all. She’s a Heartland Film Festival kind of person, not a Shriekfest lover. She is, however, a very patient women who listens to me talk about it all without complaining (much).  In spite of herself, she was intrigued when I told her about the challenge to come up with a list of things you’d use to survive if you were stuck in a horror movie, and she started brainstorming.

It was pretty fun to see what she came up with.

You know, in a majority of horror movies, mothers get a bad rap. Jason Vorhees, Norman Bates, and Carrie White all had disturbed mothers responsible at least in part for their children’s twisted minds. The mothers who aren’t mothers of monsters are usually absent, clueless, or dead (it’s television, yes, but Joyce Summers, Buffy’s mom, manages all three by the end of season five).

My mom is not any of those things. Also, she doesn’t like violence. But she had some ideas you might want to take into consideration. I’m guessing you can find most of them in your kitchen or bathroom. I’m pretty sure she could find a majority of them in her kitchen or bathroom. She shops at Costco, and her house is surprisingly well-stocked.

Her first suggestion was, naturally, a cell phone with GPS.  If that didn’t work, a compass would at least give an idea of direction. The next thing she’s want would be comfortable shoes. Getting places is not necessarily easy for her so shoes with good traction, possibly even hiking boots,  would be a good choice. Next, “be prepared” is the Boy Scouts’ motto, and with kids who have navigated both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, she knew a first aid kit would carry a lot of essentials. She also included a triangle bandage, because of the multiple uses possible: tourniquet, sling, or strangling the bad guy. She suggested that bringing a magnifying glass would be useful both for close examination of things and for starting fires (kind of a time consuming way to start a fire, but okay) and a hand mirror would be useful for looking around corners, seeing if something (like, say, Medusa) is sneaking up from behind, or discovering whether the person standing behind you is a vampire (obviously, if you know he’s there’s no reflection, that’s a pretty good indicator). Once you’ve identified the vampire, a cross or garlic would be useful in warding her off.


Naturally, you don’t want to get too close to the monster, If you have decent aim, you could always try using bolas to trip or entangle it.

Hey, if it worked for Batman, it could work for you.

If you do have to get closer, Mom suggests baking soda or pepper spray (you can blind the monster or distract it) and then using rope or duct tape to restrain it. If forced to make a choice, she suggests the duct tape, because duct tape has so many, many uses.

She also suggested a flashlight, which could either be used when you’re groping around in the dark, or, alternatively, to blind anything unpleasant that might be coming in your direction. With a MagLite I suppose you could also use the flashlight as a weapon, making it a multipurpose item. A camera was also on her list, but given the unpleasant things that tend to happen when cameras get involved in horror movies (videotapes haunted by vengeful ghosts, found footage of deeply unpleasant events in the woods, and so on) I’m going to suggest that this may not be the best option. She also added a shofar to her list, because you never know when you’ll need a REALLY loud sound. And a shofar is REALLY  loud. I think it would be an awkward item to carry along, though, and it probably wouldn’t fit in a crate.

Her final suggestion, and I think this is a great one (since we’re already talking fiction here) is a pair of ruby slippers. You know, click your heels three times and there’s no place like home.

Dorothy's Ruby Slippers

Found at

See, Dorothy is getting away from that witch just in the nick of time!

What we’ve got here is a much different list than the one Monster Librarian’s reviewers came up with, but it’s also got some great ideas. I’d put my reviewers in charge of the weapons any day of the week, but as far as safety and self-defense go? My mom turns up a winner.

Read to Survive! Monster Librarian’s Horror Movie Survival Guide

Published by Kirsten on October 27th, 2014 - in Uncategorized


 Read To Survive! Monster Librarian’s Horror Movie Survival Guide.


As editor of Monster Librarian, I was recently challenged to come up with a list of things I’d    want to take with me if I was suddenly dropped into a horror movie. The only restriction      was that the items would have to fit in a crate. I’m a reader, and a trained librarian, so my   first instinct is to suggest The Horror Movie Survival Guide, because that would have all kinds of great strategies for making it through (we have a similar list, The Shocklines Horror Movie Survival Guide, on our site). However, chances are that while I consulted the book, I’d probably be the #1 victim for taking my eyes off my surroundings. Fortunately, I have a fabulous and knowledgeable group of reviewers, and they’ve seen LOTS of horror movies. If I had to go, I’d want to take them with me, and I’m sure they wouldn’t leave me behind so they could escape. Right, guys?


Unfortunately, I can’t fit them in a crate. So I asked them what they would take, if it happened to them. They’re a very practical group. After wishful thoughts of distracting the creature(s) by sending members of Congress, or sending John Constantine instead, there was majority agreement that if you couldn’t get reception on your fully charged cell phone to call for rescue, it would be great to have a full canteen of water, so you don’t dehydrate, and plenty of energy bars, to keep you fueled with more than adrenaline. Also, comfortable running shoes are essential, (since chances are you’ll be doing a lot of running). There was debate over whether it’s better to take a working flashlight, a lighter, or candles with waterproof matches (in case the batteries in the flashlight die, after you’ve been running for your life for days on end), but I think it makes sense to take them all. Candle flames don’t shed much light, but you can’t make a fire with a flashlight, and a lighter won’t work if it gets soaked. As one reviewer noted, with good shoes and plenty of light, you’re much less likely to trip and fall (like everyone does). And there are so many reasons you might need to set a fire. Did I say set a fire? I meant light a fire.

Ash with his chainsaw and boomstick.
Found at


And, of course, as one reviewer put it, “you’ve got to have weapons”. Popular suggestions included a machete, a knife, a sword, a chainsaw (“handy for cutting through things that go bump in the night”, according to another reviewer) an automatic weapon with extra ammo, and a “boomstick”, (the double-barreled shotgun Ash uses in Army of Darkness). I’d add a stake to that list, as well, since sometimes only wood will do, and a silver bullet for that boomstick, just in case you have to deal with a conventional werewolf.


While some of these might not fit in the crate, one reviewer suggested that you could always wear them to save room for other things that would. It was also mentioned that night vision goggles would be very helpful to weapon wielders in the dark. It’s true, you can’t really hold a flashlight or candle while flailing around with a chainsaw, and you want to make every bullet count. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider it the most effective of weapons, I liked the suggestion of a Swiss Army knife—it may have a tiny blade in comparison to some of the previously named weapons, but it does have one, and its many other tools could come in handy. It’s small, so it won’t take up much room, and it can be carried in your pocket.

It also might be the only thing listed here that I wouldn’t actually hurt myself with.

Weapons are not my thing, and in a horror movie, Murphy’s Law is multiplied times a dozen, at least.


I should note here that this challenge was issued to us by Man Crates, a company that ships gift sets in crates that must be opened using a crowbar. The crowbar is included, so assuming that our crate is coming from her, we’d have one of those to arm ourselves with as well. A crowbar could be quite useful in times of peril.


If you’re in the kind of movie where the monster is impervious to mere weapons (although it’s hard for me to imagine anything being unaffected by a chainsaw), you’ll want a selection of religious or occult items that you can easily keep on you while you’re on the go. A cross might ward off evil, holy water can be an effective deterrent (you could keep it loaded in a water pistol in order to get your creature from a distance), salt can be used to contain demons, and glow-in-the-dark chalk could be used to draw a circle. Rope has many uses, including restraining victims of possession.  However, if you’re feeling loaded down by now, you could take one reviewer’s advice and “forget those religious trinkets, as you can get some off the dead”!


Need access to resources? Problem solved.
Found at Univ. of Arizona Harry Potter Alliance site.

Finally, I know it’s an unusual suggestion, but as a librarian, it’s obvious to me: I suggest a library card, because you never know when you’re going to need obscure reference material on religion or the occult, and as any fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter can tell you, you can always find the necessary occult knowledge in the library’s Restricted Section. Our motto here is “Read to Survive”, and we take that very seriously.


Although this challenge came from Man Crates, Monster Librarian is not endorsing or advertising for them.  And, while I recognize the problematic nature of being gifted with ugly neckties, it’s not just men who get presents they don’t want and won’t use. Everyone enjoys getting a present that’s fun to open and suits their interests (I think the entertainment value of opening your present with a crowbar could be pretty awesome regardless of sex) so why limit your audience?

Of course, if you aren’t stuck in a horror movie, and a crate full of the items we listed above, or similar ones, came as a gift, there are a few practical problems with the contents. Especially if you have little kids. When the horror lover in your life opens up his survival kit to find a machete and a crossbow (and yes, I speak from personal experience here) what exactly are you supposed to do with the weaponry?


At Monster Librarian, we don’t accept paid advertising. We just want to provide you with honest reviews and resources about the horror genre, and we like to have fun. I have to offer Man Crates a great big thanks for what has turned out to be, for us, an entertaining Halloween treat.


–Contributors:  Aaron Fletcher, Benjamin Franz, Kirsten Kowaleweski, Jennifer Lawrence, Michele Lee, Lucy Lockley, Patricia Mathews, David Simms, Sheila Shedd, Colleen Wanglund, and Wendy Zazo-Phillips





Booklist: Mother’s Day Reads

Published by Kirsten on May 1st, 2014 - in Uncategorized

The new NBC miniseries for Rosemary’s Baby is premiering this weekend, just in time for Mother’s Day. Yes, it’s true, Mother’s Day is fast approaching! Motherhood can be tough and scary in so many ways, and mothers and mother-in-laws can be tough and scary, too, and that manifests itself in so many ways that I can’t even begin to list them. What I can do is give you a list of books in which mothers and their influences have played a significant part. Maybe you can relate (I hope not, but you never know) and maybe these will put things into perspective as everyone gears up for Mother’s Day.



   Rosemary’s Baby  by Ira Levin.

This classic work by Ira Levin tells the story of Rosemary Woodhouse. Rosemary and her husband, Guy, move into a very nice apartment that is suspiciously inexpensive,  in a building with an extremely disturbing history of witchcraft, cannibalism, and murder. Apparently the nosy elderly neighbors are covertly continuing that tradition, and have convinced Guy to take part as well. When Rosemary becomes pregnant, the residents of the building attempt to isolate her and take control of her pregnancy.

In spite of all the rosy depictions of pregnancy, it is a difficult experience emotionally and physically. and can be terrifying even when you have a fantastic support system, and sometimes it involves real tragedy. Rosemary’s Baby makes that frighteningly vivid. Roman Polanski’s movie is considered to be a faithful adaptation, and a classic work of horror as well.
Carrie  by Stephen King

The cruelty of the girls at school to Carrie is what I find most memorable about the book, but this story could not have existed in the same way without her mentally ill mother, Margaret White, whose violent, controlling, and isolating behavior is the source of many of Carrie’s problems. Even at the end of the story she calls out for her mother. While not Stephen King’s best writing, Carrie has clearly hit a mark with its tone and message. It was made into a movie of the same name, starring Sissy Spacek, in 1976, and again in 2013, with Julianne Moore stealing the show in the role of Margaret White.

Note:  Carrie also inspired a sequel (The Rage: Carrie 2), was made into a musical (1988), and was  made into a made-for-television movie for NBC (2002).
 Psycho: A Novel

Who doesn’t know of Norman Bates and the Bates Motel? In spite of  her unpleasantness and controlling behavior, Norman Bates loves his mother. Spoiler: she’s been dead for 20 years. Almost everyone knows the movie Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock; it is worth taking a short while (it is a short book) to check out the book. Bloch’s novel may have been influenced by the story of Ed Gein, a serial killer arrested near where he lived at the time.

      Beowulf  by Anonymous

I have reviewed the Michael Morpurgo version of Beowulf here, and if you are wondering why a children’s book is appearing on a list of very adult books,  rest assured that this adult thought it was amazing. The second book I’ve linked to is a graphic novel version by Gareth Hinds, which I discovered while surfing Amazon, and has some really great reviews. Beowulf is required reading for many middle or high school students (I think I read it in eighth grade) and it is not easy going. Morpurgo’s version is really engaging, though, and I am guessing that disengaged readers might get into it with this graphic novel version.

So why is this book on my list? If you have read Beowulf before, you know that a third of the story is devoted to the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother.  Sure, Grendel was a ravening monster who ripped people apart before devouring them, but a mother’s thirst for violent and deadly revenge, in this case, truly knows no bounds.



The Dollanganger Saga: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

The collection of messed-up mothers in V.C. Andrews’ Dollanganger Saga includes Olivia Foxworth, Corinne Dollanganger, and Cathy Dollanganger, all twisted up in various degrees of love, hate, and general twisted behavior. One thing you definitely see in these books is the tremendous influence a mother can have on her children, and how that can reverberate through multiple generations. The first book, Flowers in the Attic, has been made both into a movie of the same name and into a television miniseries that aired earlier this year, but the last one, Garden of Shadows, which is technically a prequel, packs a powerful punch as well.


Room by Emma Donoghue

Not a horror novel per se, Room is still pretty horrific.  The story is narrated by five year old Jack, who has never been outside the small room he inhabits with his mother. At night, Jack’s mother shuts him away to keep him from the notice of  their only visitor, Old Nick.  What’s actually occurring will be evident pretty quickly to the reader. Jack’s Ma shows her resourcefulness in keeping Jack entertained and occupied without revealing that something really wrong is going on, and protects him to the best of her ability. Their situation is awful, but her love for him is evident, and without the dysfunctional malevolence of some of the other mother-child relationships I’ve mentioned here.
Lakewood Memorial (Zombie Trilogy, Book 1) by Robert Best

A few years ago I did a project around Mother’s Day called Moms vs. Zombies. Just about the time that it was over, this book by Robert Best came my way. Zombies really aren’t my thing, but I was curious to find out how a mom did actually deal with zombies, and although it has more foul language than I like, and was also more gory than I like (zombies REALLY aren’t my thing) I read it cover to cover in short order. The characters are just great. In the hospital, you have Angie, a mom who works at the local hospital; one of her coworkers; a cranky old man and his relatives;  and Park, who appears to know how to use a gun, and is at the hospital to bring his recently bitten friend to the ER. On the other side of a bridge, Angie’s kids and their babysitter are under siege at her home. Both Angie and her kids are determined to reach each other, and boy, are they survivors. If I have to survive a zombie apocalypse, I just might be able to manage it with Angie and her kids on my side. I am afraid that I did not review it at the time, as I can’t really give zombie novels a fair shake, but some of Best’s characters have really stuck with me, particularly Angie, her kids, and the cranky guy in the wheelchair.


If you plan to watch the miniseries, enjoy Rosemary’s Baby, and if not, I hope you’ll take a moment to think of your mother, no matter how you feel about her. I hope you have a great Mother’s Day!