What we're thankful for this year: Horror movies, '80s nostalgia, and Mark Hamill

Contributed by
Nov 23, 2017

Sure, when you're sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table, you're going to feel the pressure to say that you're thankful for your friends, family, and (hopefully) good health. And while you may really feel that way, we also know there's a deeper truth, one burning in the back of your head like overcooked stuffing: You're a fan, and this year, there's a whole lot of reasons for fans to feel thankful.

We know this because we, too, are fans — of science fiction, fantasy, horror, comic books, big monsters, and more. And because we're not sitting around a dinner table, we can be free to admit the things for which we are really thankful this year. Movies like IT and Logan; TV shows like Stranger Things and Twin Peaks; new creatures like Porgs and demodogs.

For everyone who can't say as much at dinner tonight, here's a sampling of some of the things we've been most excited about thus far this year. Once you finish your dessert, and do some reflecting, let us know what genre thing you're most thankful for this year, in the comments!

Everyone love the '80s

Mullets. Shoulder pads. Synth ditties. The ’80s have always gotten a bad rap in pop culture — easy targets for parody, quick yuks, and snide zingers. I’m thankful that today’s crop of genre goodies finally gives the game-changing decade the reverence and respect it deserves. Stranger Things dives into ’80s nostalgia without irony. Blade Runner reached into the past to revisit an Atari-festooned future. Thor: Ragnarok detonated a retro-futurist neon bomb. And Black Mirror showed us that heaven could truly be a place on ‘80s-jammin’ earth. Thankfully, not a laser portrait in sight. Alexis Loinaz

Twin Peaks' return

I really liked American Gods on Starz. I also liked the third and final season of The Leftovers on HBO. But this year I'm especially thankful for Twin Peaks: A Limited Series on Showtime. Alternately fascinating and maddening, sometimes in the same frame,  Twin Peaks was the year's most creative triumph. AND I WAS THERE. Bryan Enk

Horror gets the spotlight

I'm grateful that horror movies, always the perennial stepchild of genre fare despite consistent commercial success, are having a bit of a resurgence and moment. Between the brilliance of Get Out (we're not denying Jordan Peele's claims it was a documentary, but that doesn’t preclude it from being horror), the artistry of IT, amongst a crop of more indie fare like XX and Tragedy Girls, horror was pervasive. Straight scares, paranormal stories, slasher, thrillers, anthologies and horror-comedies were all on the table, with franchises like Chucky and Jigsaw right alongside wholly original fare like Mother! (say what you will about the movie, it was original). - Jesse Murray

Superheroes rule the world

It's easy to get caught up in the rivalry of it all; the box office totals; and the endless debates over whether Hulk or Superman would win in a fight. But, after seeing Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League pretty much back-to-back the past few weeks, I'm just thankful we get to see all these crazy stories brought to life on the big screen, at all. Sure, they might not all be perfect (or even good, some of the time), but we live in a world where Ant-Man has his own film series, Wonder Woman has one of the best comic movies ever made, and Deadpool is a box office juggernaut. Who could've ever imagined that just a decade ago? - Trent Moore

An escape to Monster Island

I grew up loving Godzilla movies mostly for the same reason every kid who discovered them on deep cable TV in the ‘80s and ‘90s loved Godzilla movies: it’s fun to watch giant monsters stomp around on miniature cities. But ahead of last year’s reboot, Shin Godzilla, I began an ongoing dive into the cultural and political context behind the Godzilla franchise, and then the entire genre. Yes, the original Godzilla was a stand-in for nuclear warfare, but did you know 1963’s King Kong vs Godzilla was a satire on consumerist culture in post-occupation Japan? I had no idea!
 
Of course, not all Godzilla or kaiju movies are so serious or loaded; some are just plain silly. In a year that feels like it’s gotten worse with every passing day, I’m thankful that I’ve had a new obsession, one that can both teach me new things, and provide a pure fantastical escape when needed. Plus, I can tell everyone I'm watching these movies as research, since there are still new Godzilla movies on the horizon. - Jordan Zakarin

Mark Hamill is the hero we need

Hey, thanks, Mark Hamill. As Luke, you were a hero to me when I was a kid. And you continue to be a source of humor, and a voice of fandom, and for fandom. Whether it’s a series of Porg tweets, trolling Donald Trump in your Joker voice, or surprising Star Tours guests, you’ve been a hope for fans in these dark times. On a personal note, I was fortunate to attend this year’s Star Wars Celebration as a stage host, and caught your appearance on The Last Jedi, anniversary, and your solo panel. And I even got a chance to say hey in person. Your graciousness, friendly sarcasm, and love of Star Wars, and all things genre, made for a great experience for this Star Wars nerd since birth.
 
Oh yeah, and Luke is back next month in The Last Jedi, and delivering more than a Long stare, and quivering lip. That right there is worthy of thanks! - Aaron Sagers
 

Genre in general

While there have been some notable disappointments on movie screens this year — as there always is — I am overall thankful for the uptick in quality genre releases we've been seeing in the past year. Films like Get Out, The Girl With All the Gifts and Colossal took tried-and-true genres in new directions, while Logan and Wonder Woman opened up the superhero category with fresh perspectives. Epics like It and War for the Planet of the Apes brought gravity and emotional power to their respective subjects as well. I hope filmmakers out there keep it up. - Don Kaye

More Star Wars than ever

In a year that’s definitely tested my patience, the Star Wars franchise has been the gift that keeps on giving in 2017. It started with the success of Rogue One then dove back into Star Wars Rebels. We got amazing new books, an exciting bit of drama with Solo: A Star Wars Story and we’re wrapping it up with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It’s a really good time to be a Star Wars fan. - Shana O'Neil

Horror, again

2017 was frightening time for a lot of people so it's no surprise that the horror genre completely ruled this year. It and Get Out scared the crap out of theatergoers while Twin Peaks, Mindhunters and Stranger Things 2 terrified those at home. Horror in comics also hit a zenith with The Unsound, Redlands, Winnebago Graveyard and Emil Ferris's incredibly creepy My Favorite Thing is Monsters. It's a scary time my friends. Be careful out there. - Matt Dorville

Lucky for Logan

I'm grateful for the movie that may have provided the pivot the superhero movie genre needed: Logan. An R-rated movie featuring one of the biggest and most valuable comic book characters in the world at his weakest, nearing the end of his life, in a low-stakes road trip film without a deadly alien or hole in the sky anywhere in sight. I'm grateful that Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart finally had the chance — thanks to writer/director James Mangold — to bring the full potential of Logan and Charles Xavier to the big screen. - Mike Avila

Restoring the weird stuff

Whether it's classics like the Universal versions of Dracula, The Mummy, Wolf Man, and Frankenstein, or schlocky so-bad-it's good stuff like Cathy's Curse, Hack-O-Lantern, and Corpse Grinders, what I'm thankful for, as ever, is the loving restoration of weird, old movies.

Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow, Severin, Synapse, Massacre, Shout Factory and others keep upping their game, year after year, taking the original film materials for movies Criterion would never touch, and dedicated the hours, days, weeks, and even months towards restoring them anyway. Because they care about those movies, And so do I. And so do you! - Dany Roth

Indie comics

On the comics front, I’m thankful that DCU Comics are worth buying again and still take risks like Mister Miracle and the Hanna-Barbera imprint. I’m always grateful that creator-owned works coming out of Image, Dark Horse, Boom!, IDW, Black Mask, and Aftershock continue to offer new ideas and alternatives to readers, even as fanboys and fangirls argue over what to do and what not to do in the mainstream. Genre-mashup comics like Black Hammer, Monstress, Lady Killer, Extremity, Kid Lobotomy and Paper Girls continue to shape the landscape of indie comics into something different each year.
 
And for film, I have been surprised and encouraged by smaller films like Colossal, Get Out, 1922, The Girl With All the Gifts, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and Prevenge, which show that originality, creativity and smart filmmaking linger in the mind longer than the fleeting fireworks of bigger budgeted films. - Ernie Estrella

Good adaptations of sci-fi books

It was a truth universally acknowledged that films based on books were either terrible or did no justice to its source material. (I’m looking at you, wretched 1994 film The Puppet Masters, which was one of my favorite books as a child.)  Fortunately, this universal acknowledgment is now safely trapped in an alternate universe. Movies like Children of Men, The Hunger Games, The Martian, Arrival, The Prestige, The Adjustment Bureau, the Harry Potter series, The Princess Bride, as well as TV series’ like The Expanse and The Handmaid’s Tale, have made it safe for me to go to the book store and the movie theater. It’s a delight to see a book that I’ve loved for years given big-screen treatment by a careful director, even more so when the director’s vision aligns with my own. Also, when an adaptation is done well, I find myself recommending books rather than defend them. For that, I’m grateful.