Funny Scary Movies

Like some laughter with your suspense? Some giggles with your frights? Check out these quirky horror comedies from the SPL collection.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
A slacker must man up to save his friends and family from a zombie invasion. (DVD)

Ready or Not (2019)
To fit in with her husband’s family, a new bride must first survive her wedding night. (DVD and Blu-Ray)

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Five friends in a secluded cabin. What could go wrong? (DVD and Blu-Ray)

Coraline (2009)
A girl discovers a door into an alternate existence, but will she be able to find her way back home? Based on the book by Neil Gaiman. (DVD and Blu-Ray)

Happy Death Day (2017)
A college student is doomed to relive the day of her murder until she solves the identity of her killer. (DVD) Sequel alert: Happy Death Day to You (2019) (DVD and Blu-Ray)

Get Out (2017)
When a young black man visits his white girlfriend’s family for a weekend, the meeting takes a terrifying turn. (DVD)

Young Frankenstein (1974)
Made more for laughs than frights, this film spoofs the Frankenstein story. (DVD)

What We Do In the Shadows (2015)
This mockumentary documents the “real life” of a group of modern day vampires. (DVD or stream through Hoopla)

From Page to Screen: Recent Book to Movie Adaptations

Everyone knows that the book is almost always better than the movie, but it is still compelling to see how the original is brought to life on the screen! Whether you prefer literary or classic fiction, young adult or horror, detective stories or thrillers, there is something for everyone in this list of movie adaptations from the last year or two. To read or to watch first? It’s up to you.

People who love heartwarming dog stories will enjoy Garth Stein’s 2008 bestselling novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Canine Enzo narrates the ups and downs in the life of his favorite human, Denny, an aspiring race car driver. Much of the story is told in flashbacks from the perspective of an aging Enzo, who believes he will be reincarnated as a man (and hopefully a race car driver) once he dies. The well-received 2019 film stars Milo Ventigliamo and features Kevin Costner as the voice of Enzo.

The long-awaited follow up to Stephen King’s The Shining (1977), Doctor Sleep picks up many years later with an adult Danny Torrance, who has struggled with alcoholism in the wake of the traumatic events of his childhood at the Overlook Hotel. Now a hospice worker, he meets with a teen who shares his paranormal gifts. The two unite to fight a cult who would exploit their gift in order to achieve immortality. The 2019 film was directed by Mike Flanagan (creator of The Haunting of Hill House) and stars Ewan MacGregor.

A perennial favorite, Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma has made the journey from page to screen before, perhaps most memorably in 1995’s Clueless. The story of a rich, clever young woman who tries to act the matchmaker with her less fortunate friend, it combines witty social commentary with romantic tension and a comedy of manners. The 2020 version, directed by Autumn de Wilde, depicts a world of unconscious privilege for a select few that seems oddly contemporary, despite the Georgian England setting.

Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2013 novel The Goldfinch tells the story of Theo Decker, who loses his mother in a museum bombing at the tender age of thirteen. During the chaos of the event, he steals a painting (the titular Goldfinch), which he keeps as a physical reminder of his loss. The bestselling novel was adapted for the big screen and released in 2019. If you haven’t read the book yet, you may want to do so before watching the movie, as many who did not found the plot confusing.

In the engrossing thriller The Good Liar, a career con artist gets more than he expected when he attempts to swindle a wealthy widow. Nicholas Searle’s 2016 debut novel generated buzz when it was published in 2016. It was released as a motion picture in 2019, starring veteran actors Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen.

In Just Mercy, lawyer Bryan Stevenson recounts his real life experiences representing clients, most of whom are black and poor. His bestselling 2014 book exposed the injustices of the system, bringing much needed attention to the issues of systemic racial bias, mass incarceration, children being convicted as adults, and more. The 2019 movie (starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx) focuses on the wrongful conviction of Walter McMillan, who spent six years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

Another beloved classic that recently found its way to the screen once again, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women tells the story of the four March girls in the years following the Civil War. The appeal of the book has always been the strength of the book’s central female characters. Although they choose different paths, they are not relegated to the sidelines.  The critically acclaimed 2019 film, adapted and directed by Greta Gerwig, emphasizes the message of female empowerment. Nominated for six Academy Awards (including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay); won for Best Costume Design.

In Jonathan Lethem’s atmospheric detective story Motherless Brooklyn, private detective with Tourette’s Syndrome investigates the murder of his mentor/boss, a small time mobster.  The book was adapted for screen by Edward Norton, who also directed, produced, and starred in the 2019 motion picture. Set in 1950s New York, it’s a modern day film noir reminiscent of L.A. Confidential.

In Postcard Killers, NYPD detective Jack Kanon is on a tour of Europe’s most captivating cities, but he’s not just any tourist. Kanon is hunting his daughter’s killer, who has left a string of corpses through Europe. Bestselling authors James Patterson & Lisa Marklund teamed up for the 2010 novel, later adapted for screen as The Postcard Killings, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Famke Janssen.

The 1981 book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz is a collection of terrifying tales retold from American folklore. Illustrated with macabre drawings by Stephen Gammell, it served as a gateway to horror for generations of children and spawned two sequels. The 2019 movie, directed by Guillermo del Toro, brings to life six interwoven tales inspired from the original book collection. Bonus watch: Aficionados of Schwartz’s books will enjoy the documentary Scary Stories, which focuses on the history and impact of Schwartz’s books.

Natasha, a pragmatist whose family is in imminent danger of being deported to Jamaica, meets Daniel, son of immigrant parents, in The Sun is Also a Star. Is their meeting fate or coincidence, and which of the infinite possibilities that follow will come true? For fans of thoughtful romance. The 2016 bestselling young adult novel by Nicola Yoon was followed by the screen adaptation in 2019.

Bee’s mother has disappeared, and she is determined to find her. Maria Semple’s popular novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette?highlights the tension between women’s opposing roles in life, and shows the lengths one women will go to rediscover herself. The 2019 film was directed by Richard Linklater, and stars Cate Blanchett in the title role.

 

 

LGBTQ+ Movies

LGBTQ+ Movies from Kanopy & Hoopla

Kanopy, the library’s newest streaming service, offers a wide variety LGBTQ+ themed feature films and documentaries including:

The surprise Oscar winner for Best Picture (2016), Moonlight  is a multi layered coming-of-age story, depicting the struggle of growing up black, gay, impoverished, and living with addiction. Tender, lyrical and raw, the movie portrays three chapters in a young black man’s life as he comes to terms with where he came from and who he is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post tells the story of a young woman who is sent to gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians. Although subjected to dubious therapies there, she also finds a community of people like her. Based on the popular novel by Emily M Danforth, and winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.

Wise Kids follows three childhood friends during the transitional summer after high school graduation. While preparing for their Baptist church’s passion play, one deals with a crisis of faith, another coming to terms with his sexuality, and the last with the fact her friends may make different choices than she expected.

Longtime partners Stella and Dot make a run to Canada to get married after Dot’s granddaughter places her in a nursing home due to her declining health. Along the way, the pair picks up a hitchhiker heading home to see his dying mother. Cloudburst poignantly explores the themes of aging and marriage equality with humor and grace.

A gay couple takes over the care of a teenage boy with Down’s Syndrome in the 1970s and provides a loving home. However, when authorities become aware of the situation, they are forced to prove to a biased system that they are fit custodians. Based on a true story, Any Day Now asks compelling questions about the true nature of love and family.

Vito is a compelling portrayal of prominent gay rights activist Vito Russo from the time of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 until his death from AIDS in 1990. Russo’s book The Celluloid Closet revealed that the way gay people were depicted in film exacerbated society’s biases against them. With archival footage and interviews, this documentary provides a history of gay rights in America during that time period.

Unlike much of the Western World, Russia has made few steps toward gay equality. Documentary Campaign of Hate shows the threats, verbal abuse, and violence that the Russian LGBTQ population endures. The passing of the 2013 “Gay Propaganda” law legitimizes the bias towards this community, and the film makes the case that the government does so for its own political gain.

Hoopla also offers movies and documentaries with LGBTQ+ themes, such as:

Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her portrayal of real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the docudrama Monster. The survivor of an abusive childhood, Aileen prostitutes herself to pay the bills for herself and her girlfriend. After killing a client in self defense, she finds that she has a taste for it.

Approximately 1% of the U.S. population identifies as asexual, or experiencing no sexual attraction. The documentary A(sexual) explores this unique sexual orientation, using interviews with researchers as well as people who identify as asexual.

In Other People, David has broken up with his boyfriend and his career isn’t going well, but he doesn’t want to burden his mother with the sad tale since she’s got an even bigger problem: terminal cancer.

The Freedom to Marry documentary focuses on the movement to make same-sex marriage the law of the land. It reveals the history of the movement and profiles key leaders as they present their case to the Supreme Court.

Being black, poor, and gay can be risky in more ways than one, so the young people in Check It banded together to form their own gang in inner-city Washington, DC. This documentary highlights the lives of several gang members as they try their hands at an unlikely way out of gang life: fashion.

With changing societal norms and advances in medicine, it has become possible to transition genders at a younger age. The documentary Growing up Trans reveals the struggles and choices that several young people and their families face as they do so.

Memorial Movies: War Films to Check Out for Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day, previously known as Decoration Day, is widely thought to have begun after the Civil War as a means of remembering fallen soldiers. Over the years, the holiday has evolved, and is now widely considered the beginning of summer vacation. However, the holiday’s true meaning remains the remembrance and honoring of those who have died in the United States Armed Forces. In honor of those who have lost their lives protecting their country, here are a collection of films that offer tribute to these soldiers, and give an important glimpse into our past.

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From Screen to Page: Six Great Books Based on Movies

In a time where almost every new movie seems to be based on a book or some other form of source material, a particular refrain has grown common among readers everywhere: “the book was better.” But there are still rare scenarios in which a movie is turned into a book after its release, often as an adaptation of the screenplay.

These adaptations are not always good, and are often ignored by literature fans due to their Hollywood connections. However, some novelizations have managed to rise above this stereotype, with some even becoming equally as famous as the films that spawned them. Here are six books based on movies that are actually worth the read.

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Staff Picks: Best of 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, we wanted to look back on the great books and films that were released this year. Many big news sources like GQ, The Washington Post, and Publisher’s Weekly have announced their picks for the best of 2018, but how do these lists measure up to the favorites of our staff? Here are some of the Sewickley Library staff’s favorite books and movies from 2018!

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2019 Golden Globes: Award-Nominated Media at the Library

With awards season just around the corner, the first batch of award nominations are beginning to trickle in. The nominees for the 76th Golden Globe Awards were recently announced, which acknowledge the arts of both film and television. While many of the nominated works aren’t available yet to purchase, here is a list of the nominated movies and television series owned by the Sewickley Public Library!

If you’d like the full list of nominees, click here!

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Feast of the Rings: Eat Your Way Through the Entire Trilogy

This past weekend, my friends and I sat down to accomplish what we considered to be one of the nerdiest things we had ever done: marathon the Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended editions, of course) while eating all the foods from the series along with the characters. We can’t claim credit for the idea, as we were inspired by this Twitter thread. Here’s some ideas on how to hold your own food-filled Lord of the Rings marathon!

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Coming to the Big Screen 2018

Read a good book last year? Wondering if Hollywood has decided to bring your favorite book to the big screen. Check out this list and you’ll see which of the big hits of last year are about to make it to your nearest theater in 2018!


Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation , the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

(February 23)


A Wrinkle in TimeA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L”Engle”s ground-breaking science fiction and fantasy classic, soon to be a major motion picture.

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

(March 9)


Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

The bestselling cult classic–soon to be a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut–part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner , and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

(March 30)


Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Cate Blanchett

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

(May 11)


Crazy Rich AsiansCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

(August 17)