THE GRAY FOX BLOG: “Assembling The Nightmare Deck”

It has been awhile since I have written anything beyond a review on the Nightmare Shift.

All’s well on my end, although I have been dealt the same roadblocks I am no doubt certain many of you also face as well. I, too, have watched gas prices skyrocket and have been trying to survive the grind of a regular 9-to-5 (as you’d guess, I’m actually on the graveyard shift though, really). Just yesterday, I went to swap out by hose and promptly ripped the whole blasted thing off altogether. Now, I have to replace the whole spigot (sounds like one of my grandparents, waka waka) in spite no idea how to do that. Such is life though.

That isn’t the Nightmare Shift though, is it? No, no, the Nightmare Shift is about the horror genre, and about dark subject-matter, movies and such.

As for the Nightmare Shift, even if I haven’t written as often as I want, I am no less committed to the project than I’ve always been. I have written reviews since 2008 (although the oldest review on the Nightmare Shift is from 2013 – you wouldn’t want to read ones from any earlier than that, I’d imagine) and sometimes I have a lot to say, other times, I don’t.

It depends a lot on what I have to write about as well. I wrote about the new Scream film earlier this year, as well as the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, even wrote about some obscurer titles like The Wind and Edge of the Knife. Other than that though, I haven’t had a whole lot of new biting films come my way and get my attention.

Beyond Nightmare Shift, I have been developing the Readers Digested anthologies (named after Nightmare Shift’s former domain – which will likely be used again in some form someday for it). This has been a very tricky, challenging undertaking, to say the least. I write more about it on (the publishing company for Readers Digested / all the fiction I do), but, basically, I am trying really hard to have them ready and available for Comic Cons in the Fall.

Onto the Nightmare Deck – as you may have noticed, I have dabbled with some type of Hall of Fame / hierarchy for how I rank everything I’ve reviewed on the Nightmare Shift (I’ve reviewed a lot, after all). Every time, however, it has fallen flat. I believe this is because I have always tried to overcomplicate it, and / or fit things together in a way that is unmanageable or too often dormant.

This way, I hoped to knock out two birds with one stone, so to speak. The Nightmare Deck is exactly what it sounds like – a deck of my favorite, most coveted films. Each blog entry, I will add 10 films to “The List”. For now, I am adding reviews in chronological order. However, since I still haven’t brought all my reviews from the archives, that will sometimes change and alter, depending on what I do. Each time, any film that I believe warrants it will be added to the Nightmare Deck. Any film that doesn’t will simply be archived (reviews are organized by their “Skull” rating, and not necessarily in-order from greatest to least). Lastly, it is not a guarantee that any of the films will be indoctrinated into the Nightmare Deck. The selection is mostly random and I won’t go out of my to pluck out an ideal film for each edition. I figure that will make it more special.

There’ll be instances you disagree with my choices. I respect that. In turn, I challenge you to develop your own Nightmare Deck. Maybe on Letterboxd? Or if you’re willing to go the distance, Nightmare Shift is always welcoming of new blood.

One other appeal is that it will allow me to highlight some of my older reviews and create more of an evergreen longevity to what I do. After all, it is a real journey. The Nightmare Shift isn’t exactly Bloody Disgusting or Dread Central. It is a more intimate, personal way of celebrating our shared loved of the horror genre (and dark content in general), how our have views changed and evolved or stayed the same.

To begin, the current 10 are composed of reviews written from 2013 to 2016, the oldest being my review of Warm Bodies and the newest being my review of Bloody Murder (although my revisit of The Skin I Live In was written in May of last year).

I saw Warm Bodies in theaters back in 2013 and remembered being charmed by it. Were I to revisit it now, I have no doubts I’d be less impressed by the film. Because of that, I see no real reason to revisit the film. The modestly successful zombie flick finds itself smackdab in the middle of the current 10 and is an appropriate baseline between favorable and less than.

Bloody Murder was a blatant cash-grab, equipped with cover imagery that’s clearly derivative of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, respectively, in spite the fact the film is nothing like either of them. It finds itself toward the bottom of the current 10 as a result.

Of these, I found the major takeaways to be Inside, The Skin I Live In, and I Saw the Devil, respectively (Corpse Bride isn’t a bad film – unlike my review, which likely needed revisited, but amounts to a less than noteworthy addition to the Tim Burton – y / Laika style stop-motion films we’ve seen).

Inside is noteworthy, not particularly because I love the film, but because it was directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, a horror duo I’ve kept up with throughout the years. A lot of folks liked this film. It simply didn’t meet the hopes I had for it. For what it’s worth, it isn’t awful, and I may revisit it again someday.

The Skin I Live In isn’t a great film either, per se. It swallows its own tail in the end, overcomplicating itself with soap-opera-esque plot developments, but I’d recommend it purely on its oddball eccentricities and how curious a film it is. When I reviewed the film again in 2021, I actually reviewed it more fondly than I did in 2015.

I Saw the Devil, among the rest, is the one film that finds itself entered into the Nightmare Deck, however. This is a film I love a lot and one of the best South Korean films around. The bloody revenge flick is cutthroat and mean-spirited, and shows the way violence begets violence and how hatred at its purest can corrode everything around it. I first wrote about this film in 2014, offering a mirroring review of what I wrote again in 2021.

Welcome I Saw the Devil to the Nightmare Deck!

1.) I Saw the Devilpublished July 29th, 2014 (revisited on March 29th, 2021)

2.) The Skin I Live Inpublished May 21st, 2015 (revisited on May 21st, 2021)

3.) Corpse Bridepublished February 2nd, 2014

4.) Inside published February 2nd, 2016

5.) Warm Bodiespublished May 5th, 2013

6.) Bastardpublished February 12th, 2015

7.) The Craziespublished July 28th, 2014

8.) Headless published May 18th, 2016

9.) Bloody Murderpublished May 15th, 2016

10.) Blood Widowpublished May 5th, 2015

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