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End of '22 Part 2: Steph's MOST MEMORABLE Movie & Retro Articles

The year has officially come to a close, and it’s safe to say it’s been one of the busiest for us at #TeamInSym. From running and fulfilling two Kickstarter campaigns, to traveling all over six states for twenty-one different shows, to working on several comic titles simultaneously, the year has been a blur of activity and creativity.

As most of you know, I also write movie reviews and horror and geek culture articles for websites such as Creepy Kingdom, Horror Geek Life, Horror Buzz, and Fangoria. I’m a self-proclaimed horror fanatic, and getting the opportunity to write about something I love (and screen new horror films) is always a blast. Here are five of my favorite and most memorable articles and reviews from this year. (Click on the pics below each title to read the full article)

Five Horror Films Centered Around the Dinner Table (Fangoria)

Fangoria is one of the oldest and most respected horror magazines in the country, so any time I get the chance to write for them is always exciting and fulfilling. The past few articles with them have been “listicles”. One of my favorites from this year hit appropriately right before Thanksgiving; analyzing five horror films centered around the dinner table. I’ve often thought about the fact that there are a number of iconic scenes involving characters sharing a meal together. The first two that always come to mind are from some of my all-time favorite horror movies: Alien and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Writing about those iconic scenes came easy since I’ve seen them numerous times, and I was already knowledgeable about the behind the scenes factoids. It was just as fun, though, to do research on the other films included in the list - The Invitation, Rope, and You’re Next. I learned interesting points about all of them, and even felt compelled to give Rope another viewing, as it had been some years since I’d seen it (and I’m a big Hitchcock fan). All in all, this was a blast to write, and allowed me the ability to geek out on a few of my favorite movies.

Spookala Review (May 2022) (Creepy Kingdom)

One of Creepy Kingdom’s specialties is covering theme parks, conventions, haunts and their annual happenings. They focus on events on the coasts, which is great for me, given that I currently live in California, but frequent Florida for InSym purposes as much as possible. When Spookala was first announced as a new horror convention in Matt’s hometown of Ocala, FL, I knew me covering this event made perfect sense. Not only were we there representing our wares with InSymmetry Creations, but Matt was also the panel host and emcee, which gave us some additional time with celebrity guests. Spookala was my favorite show that we did this year, as well as the most surprising. The caliber of guests, offerings, and overall setup were beyond my expectations. Having live acoustic performances by Ice Nine Kills and Corey Taylor in the middle of the day, included in general admission, was something I’d never seen before at a convention. Being able to write about Spookala, and highlight these moments made it one of the easiest reviews I did all year.

The Cabin in the Woods Retro (Horror Geek Life)

Retros are enjoyable to write, since they're almost always about a movie I love. It’s a seamless process to look back and celebrate a film and refresh myself on the reasons why it’s great, while also diving deep to include facts about the production. For those who've seen The Cabin in the Woods, you know what a crazy, hilarious, entertaining ride it is. Covering it for its ten year anniversary was a great experience, but what I didn’t expect was the overall response to the article itself.

I woke up one morning to a text from a friend who informed me that the retro was on the front page of Reddit, and had over 42,000 views and 2,000 comments. It was surprising and thrilling to see a piece that I wrote garnering so much attention, especially front and center on one of the internet’s most popular sites. It was just as rewarding reading the responses, which were largely from people reminiscing over how much they love the movie. As writers, we always want to invoke emotions within our readers, and offer them a sense of escapism. Even with articles, it’s possible to do so when you help them to remember, and speak fondly about, a piece of entertainment that made them feel a certain way.

The Leech Review (Creepy Kingdom)

As a film critic, you have to go into every screening with an open mind, despite what you may or may not know regarding what you’re about to watch. I try to have as little information as possible, other than a brief tagline or pitch, so that there aren't any preconceived notions prior to viewing. This is especially true with independent films, which are the vast majority of what I review. Indie films are working with smaller budgets and lesser-known cast members, so it’s important to not hold that against the overall quality. One of my most unexpected movies of the year was Eric Pennycoff’s The Leech. Centered around a devout, well-meaning priest who takes in a struggling non-believer. It’s equal parts dark comedy, satire, and horror. The fact that it mixed all of those together so well is why it earned high points. I also found myself laughing out loud and cringing far more than anticipated. If you enjoy comedy/horror, The Leech is worth checking out, and is currently available on all VOD platforms.

Eight Facts From The 'This is Gwar' Documentary (Horror Geek Life)

I heard quite a bit about Shudder’s This is Gwar documentary during the weeks leading up to its release, most from social media posts from their passionate fanbase. I’ll admit that I knew very little about Gwar myself, but with a band this insane, their reputation precedes them. My job for this particular article wasn’t necessarily to review it, but more so to detail interesting facts that I learned. It was an advantage to not be completely educated or discerning about the band, and just take it for what it was. As a lifelong D&D player, it warmed my heart to hear about their adventures and exploits with the game. Frontman Dave Brockie would often lead campaigns on their tour bus during long hours on the road. This isn't the only takeaway, of course, but to learn about the rest, you'll have to check out the article.

This is Gwar is a well put together expose’ on the vast, wacky, messy history of a musical group whose legacy transcends its musical releases. I gained a new appreciation for Gwar who always attempts to walk their own path and not conform to the ideologies or expectations of others.

So there you have it, a breakdown of some of my most memorable articles for 2022. Looking ahead to 2023, I’m excited to see what I’ll get to cover, and the overall responses from those that matter most - YOU the readers. So what were YOUR favorite articles or reviews that I wrote this year, and why? Let us know! (ED. Note: To take a look at ALL the articles Steph has written click on the button below to see the list.)

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