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Steve's Horror Favorites of 2020

Written by Steve Pattee

It’s that time of year, and as usual my list will be a hodgepodge of media from books to movies to other types of media in no particular order. These are just the things that brought me the most joy in 2020, joy that was much needed in this hellscape of a year. So let’s get to it, shall we?

small-coverBuy from Amazon True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik

While technically I read and reviewed this in 2019, the novella wasn’t released until 2020, so I’m going to count it. My list, my rules. Plus, after finishing it, I knew this would make my list. It’s that good.

True Crime follows Suzy and her brother after they escape their abusive mother and go on an adventure of murder, madness and mayhem. That’s all you really need as far as synopsis.

What makes True Crime so special is you don’t necessarily hate Suzy for the atrocities she commits. Author Samantha Kolesnik does an amazing job in making her a three dimensional and sympathetic character, which is a tough thing to do considering how heartless and evil Suzy is.

This is Kolesnik’s first book, and my god, I cannot wait to follow her career.

You can read my full review of True Crime by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Mr. Cables by Ronald Malfi

Another year, another Ronald Malfi work on my yearly favorites. The man can deliver.

Mr. Cables centers on Wilson Paventeau, an author who is asked by a fan to sign a book he didn’t write; so why is his name on the cover and his bio on the flap? He trades the fan a copy of his latest release for this mysterious book and goes about finding out who wrote it, and why.

The beauty of Mr. Cables is it will creep you out and you won’t be able to pinpoint why. Seemingly normal events will get under your skin for seemingly no reason, and just stay there. I have thought about this novella long after I finished it.

You can read my full review of Mr. Cables by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is much more than an author. He’s a master storyteller. There’s a difference, and The Only Good Indians is a perfect example of this. With its free-flow style, the entire novel feels very conversational, as if you’re being told a story in front of a campfire instead of reading words in a book.

The Only Good Indians revolves around four American Indian friends – Ricky, Lewis, Cassidy, and Gabe – and the price they must pay for something they did during an illegal hunt years earlier. Powerful, poignant, and gut wrenching, this is Jones at his best.

You can read my full review of The Only Good Indians by clicking here.
small-coverBuy from Amazon Allison by Jeff Strand

I’m a huge fan of Jeff Strand’s work, and I’ll read just about anything he puts out. Once I finished Allison, I knew it was going to be a favorite of 2020.

The book is about a woman, Allison, who lives with powerful telekinesis. The problem is she can’t control it. Unfortunately, after a series of events, she ends up on the run from a powerful criminal. Hell is about to break loose.

I knew from the first chapter Strand wasn’t going to pull any punches. There was a moment where I audibly gasped at what he wrote. Not that Strand normally holds back, he doesn’t, but this was still a gut punch and I was immediately all in.

Allison is Carrie on steroids, and a ton of fun.

You can read my full review of Allison by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Autumn Bleeds Into Winter by Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand is nothing if not prolific. Not only is he prolific (and consistently great), he’s comfortable writing the gamut of genres. Where Allison is a romp through violence and mayhem, Autumn Bleeds Into Winter is a wonderful coming-of-age tale about a young teen and his plan to kill the person who abducted his pal.

A lot of things make Autumn Bleeds Into Winter a stellar read, but one of my favorites is how normal Curtis, the main character, is. He’s not special. He’s not incredibly bright. He’s just your average 14-year-old kid looking to find out what happened to his friend. And the guy that did it? He’s nothing special either. That’s why this book works so well. It’s all so very believable.

If you’ve never read Strand, I just gave you two starting points. Have at it.

You can read my full review of Autumn Bleeds Into Winter by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Crossroads by Laurel Hightower

Crossroads is Laurel Hightower’s second book, and after reading it, her first novel, Whispers in the Dark, has shot up my TBR pile. This novella is absolutely brutal.

Like I said in my review, this is the first time I can actually grasp a parent’s love for their child. After Chris starts seeing her dead son hanging out under the light at the corner of her yard, she starts making...sacrifices...to see him more

While I can’t judge Whispers in the Dark, Crossroads is stunning for a second novel. Hightower has an exceptional future ahead of her.

You can read my full review of Crossroads by clicking here.

small-cover Night Worms

If you’re a reader, Night Worms is the company for you. For $39.99 a month (plus s/h), you get a package of anywhere between two and three books (sometimes autographed, sometimes exclusive to Night Worms) and a variety of chachkies like bookmarks, stickers, tea, coffee, and much more. I’ve been a subscriber for well over a year and I’ve not once been disappointed in a package. Each mailing is a delight and thoughtfully curated with themes like "Summertime Madness" and "Haunted Harvest".

I can’t recommend them enough for readers.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Anything for Jackson

This movie took me absolutely by surprise. I had heard a few people recommend it, and I went in completely blind. Wow.

Following a couple who will do whatever it takes to bring back their grandson, Jackson, from the dead, the two kidnap a pregnant woman in order to do a little black magic so the newborn will be Jackson reincarnate. We all know how this works out.

Anything for Jackson is a must see. It takes turns you don’t expect and when it gets going it doesn’t stop. Great writing, superb performances, and everything falling into place just so, I cannot recommend this film enough. Director Justin G. Dyck didn't just knock it out of the park, he blew up the goddamn city.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Shudder

I’m too lazy to look, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Shudder has been on my list every year. The streaming horror service is hands down the best out there and worth every single penny I pay for it each year. Why? Here are just two of many reasons why:

Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy. If you’re a horror fan who had to walk three miles up hill (both ways) to school and back when you were a kid, you may have grown up with Joe Bob’s Drive-In or Monstervision. Well, lucky for us, Shudder gave Joe Bob a new platform and us horror fans are all the better for it. The man is a wealth of information and it’s an absolute joy to watch movies with him and Darcy. It’s like watching a film with friends, except one of them knows everything about the movie. That is Joe Bob, and he loves to share. Darcy is no slouch either. She’s a horror fan through and through and the two complement each other.

If Joe Bob and Darcy weren’t enough, Shudder has an exceptional catalog of both old and new releases, with many exclusives like Anything for Jackson and the much-talked-about Host (which I enjoyed as well).

And, sometimes, when I’m working from home, I just put on Shudder live and let that sucker just stream away. Maniac Cop 2 and Revenge kept me company today.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Dawn of the Dead

How the hell can a movie released in 1978 be on my favorites of 2020? Simple. Second Sight Films' amazing special edition release of my favorite horror film of all time. This release is remarkable, containing three versions of the film (Theatrical Cut, Extended Cut, and Argento Cut), all remastered to look outstanding. Also included in this limited edition set is a mountain of extras, the film's novelization by George Romero; a 160-page collector's book with behind-the-scenes stills, marketing info, essays and more; and three CDs of music from the film.

The only issue I have with the standard Blu-ray release is it's region locked to the UK. Fortunately I have a region-free player and a great friend in England, but this is something that should be available to all. 

(Side note, I do not blame Second Sight Films in any way for this. This is most likely a licensing thing that they had to go by.)

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Hunt a Killer: Blair Witch. I don’t rightly know what to call this one. I don’t want to call it an honorable mention because it’s definitely one of the coolest horror-related things I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in this year, but I’ve only done two of the episodes. I honestly don’t see me being disappointed in it, but to be fair, I haven’t finished it yet. So I’m going to count it because it’s a tremendous amount of fun (you can read my review or part one here and part two here). If it maintains the course, look for it on my Favorites of 2021.

There was a lot of great horror this year, and as soon as this goes live, I’m going to regret not putting something on this list. That always happens.

What do you think? What were some of your favorites this year? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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