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Stuart Best Discoveries 2020 Main

Stuart’s Best Discoveries of 2020

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

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The nature of this highly unpredictable year has altered this year’s compilation of mine as well, but that’s not at all a bad thing. As I took on more book reviews to fill the void in theater trips and to reconnect with the printed page, I discovered new authors to dig into, like Adam Nevill, that I wanted to kick myself for missing out on before. It’s been a revelatory year like that, and I want to share my revelations with you.

I’ve still managed to get some horror in the Get On My Damn Level side of things, though the indie makeup is becoming increasingly more diverse genre wise (I’ve even reviewed romantic comedies). It’s been a year of quality over quantity on that side, and the book reviews have filled in nicely. I’ve even scored a couple of legendary interviews you can chew on, and I see myself doing more of that.

So, here’s the short list of my revelations for this year in multiple mediums. There’s also Stuart’s Best of Horror DNA for 2020 and Stuart’s Best of the Big and Small Screen for 2020 to peruse and find your next potential favorite. Most are on Get On My Damn Level, some are right here on Horror DNA with their accompanying interviews!

small-coverBuy from Amazon The Perfection (2018)

The tale of a prodigy cellist who returns to her roots after the death of her elderly mother for whom she was the caregiver, The Perfection maintains a level of polish and class that makes the shocks a little more jarring and the trauma a little sleazier. Steven Weber is so good here he qualifies for minor demigod status, and the story structure operates like an anthology on acid. It’ll put some people off, but that singularity is the appeal. I didn't know "orchestral horror" was a thing.

You can read the review at GetOnMyDamnLevel.com by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon VFW (2020)

It’s a cult-level Expendables of action and horror with Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Fred Williamson, Martin Kove, David Patrick Kelly, and George Wendt. That’s a pretty stout lineup for an invasion/siege hybrid from the old Fangoria films team, and this one delivers all the excessive violence, machismo, gore, one-liners, and cheese you could possibly want. It’s just too much damn fun.

You can read the review at GetOnMyDamnLevel.com by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Cry Havoc (2020)

If you’ve read me before, you know of my affinity for Robert Bronzi, the Hungarian-born movie star who’s a dead ringer for Charles Bronson. His films dabble in all genres, and Cry Havoc is his straight horror slasher that’s set up on a monitored and controlled hunting grounds. This one comes complete with stock ‘80s bad guy Richard Tyson and a killer who’s doing his own pretty cool take on Jason Vorhees. Rene Perez’s work is for all the Canon Film lovers out there.

You can read the review at GetOnMyDamnLevel.com by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)

The story of Mark Patton, the star of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, is one that I didn’t know I needed to hear that much until I actually heard it. This documentary shines a truthful light on one of horror’s most important films; a film that was much maligned until the definitive documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy shed that first different light. This is a powerful and important documentary about an amazing man who’s coming to realize his place in the world of horror and the love of the fans. That’s just awesome to see.

You can read the review at GetOnMyDamnLevel.com by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon The Crumbs (2020)

One of my favorite horror tropes is the insane and inbred country family. You can flavor that one so many different ways, and the creative team of David J. Espinosa and Craig Ahrens give this one the country bed and breakfast touch. Deliciously weird with a vibe all its own, The Crumbs is one of those out-of-nowhere movies that will pick up followers like a Looney Tunes snowball. It’s some exceedingly kooky stuff.

You can read the review at GetOnMyDamnLevel.com by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon The Wise Friend by Ramsey Campbell

Family secrets, ancient power, and the connection between the two will tear Patrick Torrington’s family apart if he doesn’t learn how to understand what his late Aunt Thelma was tampering with out there in the wild. It’s a compelling mystery, and in the hands of a true master like Ramsey Campbell it becomes first-rate horror that brushes against the cosmic while you try not to see. Also (in what was frankly a dream come true), I was able to spend forty-five minutes picking the brain of one of the finest living authors of horror fiction in the whole damn world. 2020 certainly wasn’t all bad.

You can read the review here and the interview here

small-coverBuy from Amazon These Evil Things We Do by Mick Garris

Frequent Stephen King collaborator, first-rate screenwriter, director, and author Mick Garris delivers a collection of four novellas and one novel in his inimitable “Hollywood Noir” style, each with a drastically different sensibility in the protagonists and perspective. It’s Hollywood on the page, and Mick Garris is the king of it. In another “pinch me” moment, I spoke with Mick about the new book and a slew of other topics. He really is the “nicest guy in Hollywood” like they say.

You can read the review here and the interview here

small-coverBuy from Amazon The Fearing: Blood and Brimstone by John F.D. Taff

The “King of Pain” doubles down on the Fearing Mythos with the story of the Machiavellian arch-villain Tim Jacoby and his lethally obedient right-hand, Tam Washington. Filling in blank spots in the main story while pulling back the curtain on their backstory, this next installment proves that there’s a cubic fuckton of heartbreaking nightmare fuel left in this world that Taff just won’t let you escape.

You can read the review on GetOnMyDamnLevel.com by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories, edited by Lewis Williams

I just realized I started the year of 2020 off with a book review with Corona in the title. Bad omen? Not sure…but I digress. Corona Books kicked off my year with a meticulously cultivated and extremely diverse of short horror that truly runs the gamut. Short story collection enthusiasts will tell you the highest praise is when you don’t consume the fare in small chunks. I devoured this collection.

You can read the review on GetOnMyDamnLevel.com by clicking here.

small-coverBuy from Amazon Wokeistan by Tony DiGerolamo and Christian Beranek

In the mood for satire so scathing that it becomes horror? What you’ll get here is a political treatise that is both too silly to be taken seriously and too brutally accurate to be anything except terrifying. Is it straight political satire? Absurdist comedy? Monty Python-esque silliness? Or is it just fucked up enough to hit a little too close to home? Thankfully, things are working out differently than the book’s premise, but you may want to continue to hold your breath in spite of that. Real life horror is tricky in that way.

You can read the review on GetOnMyDamnLevel.com by clicking here.

As always, I can hit you with some other gems from this year of Honorable Mention stature: The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs (still killing it but with a wackier lineup this season); History of Horror with Eli Roth (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it); The Institution by Stephen King (because kids with powers and secret government facilities are a timeless tale); The Best New True Crime Stories, edited by Mitzi Szereto (a slew of true crime stories that go much deeper than the famous ones everyone knows); and Attack of the Unknown (alien action/horror where Richard Grieco really impresses).

About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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