Best Episodes of Black Mirror

 

The best advice I can give to you if you haven’t seen the show already, is to not watch Season 1, Episode 1, The National Anthem. Trust me, you probably don’t want to see that…

The strange thing I noticed about this show is that the seasons and episodes are listed backwards on Netflix. Usually when you go to a show, the first season is listed at the top, and episodes follow in a top-down format. This show lists the latest season first, and has the previous seasons below it. I think it might be an intentional way to avoid people from seeing The National Anthem first. It could definitely ruin the show for a lot of people, making them not want to watch any more episodes if they’d seen that first. A lot of the episodes are hit and miss, many not appealing to everyone.

That’s why I’ve put together this list for the horror fans out there. To filter out the stuff you might want to skip. By all means, watch the whole series; I did. But some episodes I enjoyed more than others.

Either way, here is my list of recommendations:

 

Season 2, Episode 2: White Bear

I have to say this is probably my favorite of all the episodes in regards to horror. Great story, atmosphere, pacing, and ending.

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Season 4, Episode 5: Metalhead

This is my second favorite. Post-apocalyptic scenereo with robots? Yes please! Again, great story, atmosphere (they did this one entirely in black and white), pacing, and ending. One of the best in the series.

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Season 4, Episode 6: Black Museum

If you plan to watch the entire series, you should probably save this one for last. But the way the show is constructed, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll get the story. (There are just a few easter eggs in the episode you may see if you’ve watched other episodes).

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Season 3, Episode 5: Men Against Fire

This is also a great episode. Has its fair share of horror and a good ending.

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Season 2, Episode 4: White Christmas

This one strikes hard on fear of time. The cruelty of what occurs made me cringe.

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Season 4, Episode 1: USS Callister

This one isn’t necessarily horror (it has its moments), but as a Star Trek fan it’s something I can’t ignore. By far one of the best Star Trek inspired pieces I’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve never seen Star Trek, it’s an enjoyable episode.

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Hope you enjoy the show! And fair warning: don’t watch The National Anthem.

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How I Found Horror

I’ve been doing some horror movie articles and reviews on my blog, and while I don’t do them as often as I’d like to (too many other projects to work on) I want to continue the process, and attempt to regulate it so that there’s some consistency to when I post them. That got me thinking about why I write them, how I discovered horror movies in the first place, and where and when I was exposed to some of my favorites.

Before setting a plan to post these articles I wanted to go back to the beginning, remember where it started, and how my obsession with horror grew. I wanted to know how and why I became a horror writer.

Exploring the past is difficult. Memories are faded, distorted, untrustworthy. But some clear pictures can be retrieved.

The first horror movie I ever saw was The Amityville Horror on TV when I was no older than 8 or so. There was one scene in particular that frightened me—the part when there are eyes staring in the window from outside in the darkness. I’ll always remember that first feeling of dread seeing that scene as a child. After that I saw The Exorcist. From then on, I was hooked.

Every time my parents took me to the grocery store they’d let me rent a movie (This was back when supermarkets still had video rental sections). I’d go for whatever had a cool picture or a horrible title. I had no idea which movies were good and which weren’t. I’d only seen the two, so I was dosed with random movies on a weekly basis. Some of the first movies I can remember renting were Dead Alive, The Ice Cream Man, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Psycho Cop, Night of the Comet, Night of the Living Dead, The Fly, The Fly 2, The Gate, and many more.

None of those movies frightened me. I laughed through most of Evil Dead.

The only movie that scared me other than that one scene in The Amityville Horror was Fire in the Sky. I know it’s not technically a horror movie, but nothing before or since has ever actually scared me in a horror movie. When I saw that as a kid I slept with the lights and TV on for almost two weeks. Monsters, demons, killers; none of that bothered me. But fucking aliens scared the hell out of me.

My love of horror led me to discover a book I’m sure most are familiar with. ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ by Alvin Schwartz. The artwork on the cover was what drew me to it. I read all three of those books with great enjoyment. And I even read them to my own kid as bedtime stories (Horror runs in my family—4 generations now). That led me to reading more horror, which ultimately brought me to the realization that I wanted to write things I hoped would be terrifying.

Feel free to comment. I’d love to hear what horror movies have scared you the most!

 

Why Video Games are Important for Horror

As a horror writer, naturally I have an affinity for literature, as well as movies. But what I talk little about are video games, and the underappreciated value they provide the genre.

Video games have been a significant and important part of my life. Ever since I had a Pong set, then moved to the Atari 2600, and on to the NES, I played and loved every gaming console since. I grew up on them, my kid grew up on them. And we’ve been playing them together since they could pick up a controller.

To me a good game is a work of art, much like a novel or movie. A video game combines a multiple art forms into one piece. Music, story, visuals, and voice acting. What’s compelling about horror games is they put you directly in the action. You control the character, and for first-person view games, you are the character. Suddenly, running from nightmarish monsters can be quite terrifying and if you’re really into the game, it actually gets your heart pumping. You feel the excitement and adrenaline rush of trying to stay alive.

Not all games are created equal. Just because you pick up a horror themed game doesn’t mean it’s going to scare the hell out of you. Games such as the Dead Rising series are great games, lots of fun to play, and even have nods to classic zombie movies, but they aren’t frightening.

I recently played a game called Outlast. Now that’s the kind of game I’m talking about. It’s a first-person view survival game, where you play the part of a journalist sneaking into an abandoned mental asylum for a story. There are no weapons. You can’t fight. You’re armed with only a video camera, luckily equipped with night vision when you need it. But the batteries can run out. When being chased by a psychopath with a machete or a mutated creature from beyond, all you can do is run, hide, and hope they don’t find you. Trying to navigate an enormous labyrinthian mental asylum in this manner was damn hard, and really got my blood pumping.

Alien: Isolation is another that comes to mind. Also a first-person survival game, it’s based on The Ridley Scott Alien movies. If this game, you’re on a ship with a Xenomorph. You do get a few measly weapons. But nothing worthy of actually trying to fight it. They’re mostly meant for distracting the alien so you can run the other way and hope it doesn’t kill you. The game plays a lot like Outlast, but in Alien: Isolation, the Xenomorph is highly sensitive to sound. Make too much noise, you’re dead. Also unlike Outlast the alien appears randomly rather than the specifically placed foes in the mental asylum. This game is so terrifying the virtual reality version of the game was never released as the developers were afraid it could cause a heart attack.

Although Alien Isolation never made it, Virtual Reality is the next great leap in horror gaming. If playing the game on a screen in your living room has allowed some games to incite actual anxiety, I look forward to seeing what the future of horror can do with a game where you really are in the middle of the action.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, follow my blog for more about horror fiction, writing, movies, and more!

∼Lee A. Forman

A Writer’s Bucket List

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I was inspired by a few authors who recently wrote bucket lists for what they want to achieve as writers. I enjoyed reading about their goals and aspirations, many of which matched my own. So I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do one myself.

  1. Publish my first novel

I’ve had a lot of work published since I decided to take writing seriously. But it’s all been short fiction. I have a novel which is so close to being finished it often surprises me how far I’ve gotten. But I always felt like it was taking too long to complete. The possibility that I might never finish it plagued my thoughts daily. And to make this fit my bucket list even more, I was literally afraid that I would die before it ever saw the light of day. But with it being so close to completion, I feel like I might just live to see it happen!

2. Have a table at a horror or book convention

This comes second, as I need to actually have something to sell at my table. I see authors selling their books at conventions, their table set up nicely with posters and themes that go with their book. I’d imagine myself in that situation, dream of doing that very thing for my own book. I kind of romanticized it in a way. The prospect of doing that for myself seems invigorating and even if I didn’t sell too many books, I’d go home happy just for having been there.

3. Write something amazing

I’m a horror writer. It’s what I’m best at. I’ve been obsessed with the genre for as long as I can remember. And I love writing it. But I hope to produce something that somehow transcends the creatures and gore. And while many of my stories do have a message or serious element behind the story, I want to write something where that aspect stands out and the piece is recognized for that quality.

4. Create a successful writing blog

Yes, I have a website, and I do write a blog post every now and then. My most successful ones are mostly about horror movies and other things about the genre in general. But I’d love to start creating posts about writing, offering tips and advice for new writers. I suppose I worry that I’m not qualified to give advice to new writers. What do I know? I’m not some hot-shot success story. But as I’ve traveled the path of a writer, I’ve come a long way and learned quite a bit. Maybe someday I’ll build the confidence to start giving advice to others.

5. Write an autobiography

I’d love to write about the journey that led me to where I am. The path I’ve followed in life has been arduous to say the least. It’s been full of tragedy and hardship. But I don’t complain. It’s brought me here, typing these very words you’re reading. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. The difficult life I’ve lived more than likely adds a quality to my work that probably wouldn’t be there otherwise. So I’m thankful for the good experiences as well as the bad.

6. Write a book about my family history

I’m a descendant of survivors of the Armenian Genocide. My family history is appalling and tragic, and would make a damn interesting story. I’ve been gathering information about it for years, putting all in a file in the hopes that I’ll eventually get around to putting it together. It’s amazing that I’m even here after the events of the Genocide, considering my ancestors survived by a fine thread.

7. Have a novel in my local library

Doesn’t seem like a huge deal, and it’s probably not. But my love for reading was born in my local library, taking out three books at a time and plowing through them like there was no tomorrow. I’d love to have something of my own on their shelves. I want to be one of the names on the spine of one of those many books. To contribute to the huge number of titles for readers to discover.

9. Write Poetry

I recently had my first piece of poetry published. I’d never written a good poem before, and certainly never tried to have any published. But I was so satisfied with the results, it made me want to write more, and try to get them out into the world.

I guess that’s all for now. Who knows what the future will add or take away from this list. Only the words I produce will tell. I hope you enjoyed this little trip into my mind. If so, please like this post and follow my blog! It’s greatly appreciated!

 

skullandquill