True Blood Inspired Cookies

The final season of True Blood is upon us, and to be frank I’m not that excited about it.  The story has been on a steady decline over the past few seasons and it’s time for the show to be put out of its misery.  But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a perfect excuse to bake!  So I present you with vampire bitten cookies.

Vampire bitten cookies

 

Vampire Cookies

3/4 cups butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

red preserves or jam (strawberry or raspberry), approx. 1/2 cup

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and extracts.  Mix flour and salt in separate bowl and slowly mix them into larger bowl with butter sugar mixture at low speed until just incorporated.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat over to 325F.

Divide dough in half and keep the portion you’re not using in the refrigerator.  Roll dough out on a floured surface until it is 1/8-inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out 2-inch rounds.  Place rounds on a baking sheet, put a teaspoon of jam or preserves on each round and cover with another dough round.  Press down around edges, pinching the edges to the cookie sheet.  Use a toothpick and poke two small holes in top of each cookie- like vampire fang marks.

Jam filling cookie fangs

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set.  Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving to wire rack to cool completely.  Dip toothpick into jam or preserves and re-insert into “bite” holes, drizzling more jam away from hole to make a “blood trickle.”

Enjoy!

A couple of helpful tips, make sure dough is cold and use plenty of flour.  The dough warms quickly, becoming sticky and difficult to work with.  Also, this cookie dough is not very sweet as it’s meant to balance the sweetness of the jam filling.  One of my taste testers compared this cookie to a pop-tart.  So, if that doesn’t sound appealing, then swap out this cookie dough for a sweeter roll out cookie recipe.

Do you watch True Blood?  Were you excited about its return?

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Spanish horror

Over the past couple of decades, Spain has emerged as an expert on horror.  I’ve realized that many of the films that have terrified me the most, the ones that I share with friends, hail from Spain.  Even when the idea behind the some of the films seem like horror that’s been retreaded many times over, they’re injected with tension, effective scares, beautiful cinematography, and emotion that just gives it that refreshing twist.  I thought I’d share my absolute favorite, though it’s by no means the only Spanish horror films worth checking out.

5.) The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

The Devils Backbone

Set in a remote orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, the story follows young Carlos who was left behind by his parents.  As stories circulate about a child who went missing the day an unexploded bomb dropped into the orphanage’s courtyard, Carlos notices ghostly figures and creepy noises.  The plot is far more complicated than a simple ghost story; the effects of the war stretch even to isolated orphanages.  Though Guillermo del Toro’s first draft was set in his home country of Mexico and didn’t feature a ghost, I’m glad for the changes.  The addition of the ghost not only unnerves, but adds a layer of melancholy that enforces the tragedy of war.

 

4.) Witching & Bitching (2013)

Witching_and_Bitching

This zany horror-comedy by director Alex de la Iglesia follows bumbling thieves as they steal gold from a pawn shop.  Truly, the worst robbery ever.  Jose even brings his son along, since it’s his day for custody.  With the cops closing in the thieves try to evade them by heading to France, though they get stuck in Zugarramurdi, a little town known for being inhabited by witches.  Now they must not only escape the law, but the family of witches looking to serve them for dinner.  Though some of the humor falls flat at times, the banter between the thieves is a highlight and the horror elements are so bizarre that the film succeeds any way.

 

3.) Sleep Tight (2011)

Sleep tight

Directed by Jaume Balagueró, this intense thriller follows concierge César and his unhealthy obsession with apartment tenant Clara.  What begins with unhappy César playing pranks on his unsuspecting victim quickly escalates into far more sinister acts.  From wiping cockroach eggs everywhere to voyeurism, this film’s chills come from its realism and fear of privacy invasion.  The tension is palpable throughout, and the reason César does what is does is terrifying.  Well acted and often uncomfortable, this thriller feels on par with classics like Hitchcock and Polanksi.

 

2.) Fragile (2005)

fragile

Jaume Balagueró strikes again!  Shot in Spain and the UK, this supernatural flick is set in a rundown hospital, currently in the process of closing its doors for good.  Enter American nurse Amy, played by Calista Flockhart, who frantically tries to keep the remaining patients safe from a series of mysterious attacks.  Amy bonds with a young orphan, Maggie, who is suffering from fibrosis and together they discover the entity behind the attacks.  This ghost story may not be original, but its abandoned hospital setting, save for the children’s ward, may for very effective scares.  No other ghost may be quite as scare as the one that haunts the remaining patients, but it’s the emotional bond between Amy and Maggie that’s the heartbeat of this film.  Their growing adoration of each other not only gives this film purpose, but it pulls on your heartstrings.  With scares and soul, this is easily one of my favorites on any list.

 

1.) [Rec] (2007)

REC

Perhaps I should have just dedicated this list to Jaume Balagueró?  This time he shares the helm with co-director Paco Plaza.  In one of the most intense horror films I have had the pleasure of viewing, [Rec] is a found footage film in which television reporter Ángela Vidal and her camera man follow a local fire station for her show.  What starts out as a rather boring evening turns out to be anything but when the fire station receives a call about a woman trapped in her apartment.  Upon arrival they find the woman is completely crazed and aggressive, and bites one of the firemen before plummeting to the lobby floor below.  The CDC and police arrive and put the building on quarantine, locking everyone inside with an infection that’s spreading.  This is easily the most effective use of found footage.  The limited view of the camera contributes to some of the most tense scenes in any horror film.  When the lights are cut off, the camera also becomes the only source of light, eliminating the oft asked, “Why didn’t they put the camera down?”  The final moments will likely have your hands hovering somewhere around your face, and at the very least you will watch most of this film at the edge of your seat.  It’s not a bad idea to have a change of pants handy, either.  What appears to be a simple zombie film is anything but.

 

What are your favorites?

 

Interactive Fear

I’m not sure if it’s due to the success of the recent string of zombie themed 5Ks, but there have been a string of recent interactive horror themed events that have been popping up lately.  The events have expanded beyond running and even tie in to movie promotion now.  Here are a few of the events that have caught my eye:

1) The Purge: Breakout 

Purge Breakout

A clever way to promote the upcoming film, The Purge: Anarchy, set for release in July.  Under the scenario of having been kidnapped right before the purge is set to begin, teams of six have 30 minutes to look for clues and solve puzzles in order to break out of the room before the clock runs out.  Tickets are on sale in major cities throughout the U.S.  Which doesn’t include mine, or I’d probably snatch up a ticket.  And I suppose that says something about my competitive nature (or the effective marketing), because I didn’t even like the Purge.

 

2) The Great Horror Campout

great-horror-campout

If you’re more the outdoorsy type this event is right up your alley.  Twelve hours of overnight choose-your-own adventure style camping.  You can participate in the “hell hunt,” which is a scavenger hunt complete with scare actors that are ALLOWED TO TOUCH YOU.  Based on their website and other recaps of the event I’ve researched, this means they can tie you up or toss you in the trunk of the vehicle while you’re searching for coveted items on the scavenger list.  There are tents for sleeping, but based on your level of purchase, the scare actors apparently pop up throughout the night to keep your awake and terrified.  Maybe that sounds too extreme?  You can opt out of the hunt and roast marshmallows while watching horror movies instead.  Ticket prices come with dinner and a continental breakfast in the morning.  This event is also selling tickets throughout the U.S., and they’re not cheap.

 

3) Zombie Themed Cruise

zombie cruise

With the cities and woods covered, I guess there’s no place left for a zombie but the ocean?  With so many themed cruises available I suppose this was inevitable.  It looks like the mecca of zombie events, though.  Seven days of zombie activities, from zombie workouts in preparation of the apocalypse to a zombie prom.  This event is complete with special guests from all aspects of zombie fandom.  Easily the most expensive event on this list, but it is a seven-day cruise.

 

Would you participate in any of these?  If you already have, how was your experience?