Here Are the Things io9's Staff Is Personally Psyched About for 2019

There are a lot of huge genre projects coming in 2019, like Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars themed lands at Disney. But there are so many other things being released this year that, while not as big as those franchises, we’re definitely looking forward to. Check out io9’s list of major things to watch out for this year, along with our personal recommendations for a little something extra. Things you’ll want to keep on your radar—no matter how big or small.


Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel.
Photo: Disney

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Captain Marvel

Jill Pantozzi: I will care more about Avengers: Endgame after I see Captain Marvel. For now, I only have eyes for Carol Danvers. I’ve been in anticipation of her movie since Marvel first announced it way back in 2014. That’s, like, a billion years ago. Kevin Feige has said the hero “is more powerful than any character” they’ve introduced in the MCU so far, and I can’t wait to see how the mysteries around her unfold. Plus, the Skrulls are finally making their appearance—and on top of everything else, the film includes a cat. What more could you ask for? (March 8)

Hale Appleman’s Eliot takes on a new form in season four of The Magicians.
Photo: Eric Milner (Syfy)

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Personal Pick: The Magicians Season 4

Pantozzi: Sex, magic, and sing-a-longs, Syfy’s The Magicians is just the best. We’ve come a long way from the obvious Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia comparisons—plus, four seasons in, the series has also diverged quite a bit from Lev Grossman’s novels. Mostly, I look forward to more of the show this year because I want to see what trouble the characters are going to get themselves into next. They are so much fun! Okay, Quentin is still annoying as hell, but still! The Magicians involves some strong storytelling and not nearly enough of you have been watching it. Catch up! (January 23)

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The poster image for Stranger Things 3.
Image: Netflix

Stranger Things 3

Beth Elderkin: Nobody expected Netflix’s Stranger Things to do all that well, but three seasons later it’s become a global phenomenon. The series is coming back with its biggest season yet, swapping out the chilling Halloween fall for the sweet summer of 1985 as the kids tackle the biggest monster of all: adulthood. But don’t worry, I’m sure there are going to be plenty of monsters too. (July 4)

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The cover image for P. Craig Russell’s graphic novel adaptation of The Giver.
Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Personal Pick: The Giver Graphic Novel 

Elderkin: Lois Lowry’s The Giver is a timeless classic, not to mention one of my all-time favorite books. What’s perhaps most amazing about it, beyond the beautiful story and moral message, is how it’s so visually engaging that you see it in your head—even when it’s on the page. Now, after decades of waiting, The Giver has finally been turned into a graphic novel. Creator P. Craig Russell has perfectly adapted Lowry’s visual story through his eyes (as well as our own), using color and depth to bring us into Jonas’s mind as he becomes the new Receiver of Memory, and everything that entails. (February 5)

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Things are looking bleak for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) there.
Photo: Disney

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Avengers: Endgame

Charles Pulliam-Moore: While Avengers: Endgame is literally meant to represent the end of an epic conflict within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it also serves as the ideal point to bring a number of ongoing MCU stories to a close. As much fun as it’s been to watch this group of Marvel heroes being realized on the big screen over the years, there’s a point at which the studio has to make room for new characters from the comics to join the fun—and, in theory, become the next generation of iconic characters that pull people into theaters. (April 26)

Steve Buscemi stars as God in TBS’s Miracle Workers.
Photo: TBS

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Personal Pick: Miracle Workers

Pulliam-Moore: As much as I like NBC’s The Good Place, there’s always been part of me that’s been way more interested in the idea of higher Powers That Be™ being directly involved in the lives of living people, and kinda-sorta fucking up while on the job. Fallible higher beings, as a concept, make it easier to contemplate that, even if there is an afterlife (or multiple afterlives) of some sort, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be all that good or bad—because the people in charge of running them, like so many other administrators, have off days, the way TBS’s Miracle Workers’ God (played by Steve Buscemi ) and Craig the Angel (Daniel Radcliffe) sometimes do. (February 12)

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Daenerys Targaryen is welcomed to Winterfell.
Image: HBO (YouTube)

Game of Thrones

James Whitbrook: This is everything we’ve been waiting for as Game of Thrones fans: The end of a story that’s been an age in the making. It’s where years of speculation, years of theories, years of wishes will finally culminate. Who lives, who dies, who takes the Iron Throne—and in the end, will any of it matter against either the wroth of the White Walkers or whatever George R.R. Martin will tell us really went down whenever he gets down to writing that book? It’ll take a while for that answer, but for now, we’re on the precipice of seeing if Game of Thrones can stick a landing fans have furiously debated about since the show began. Regardless of how you felt about recent seasons, that’s an exciting place to be. (April)

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Cover art for the first issue of Spider-Man: Life Story.
Image: Marvel

Personal Pick: Spider-Man: Life-Story

Whitbrook: We’ve already said that 2018 was the Year of the Spider-Man—whether it was at the box office, on video game consoles, or yes, even on comics shelves. But while we’re all still enchanted by the likes of Into the Spider-Verse, my eye is already being drawn to Life Story, a new miniseries from the phenomenal Spectacular Spider-Man writer Chip Zdarsky and superstar Spidey artist Mark Bagley.

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Completely reimagining Peter Parker’s life as we follow his career as Spider-Man across multiple continuous decades of tumultuous history (both real and fictional), this series has it all: A fantastic creative team, an excellent premise, and the potential to be one of the most fascinating Spider-Man tales this year. (March)


Rey (Daisy Ridley) learns the ways of the Force in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Photo: Disney

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Star Wars: Episode IX

Germain Lussier: It feels like just yesterday when Star Wars came back with The Force Awakens. But now, we finally get see how the story of Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe, and the rest concludes in Star Wars: Episode IX. J.J. Abrams is back co-writing and directing, but the most exciting thing about the film is that both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher will return‚ with Hamill reprising the role of Luke Skywalker, and Fisher as General Organa after the actress’ passing (thanks to previously unused footage). (December 20)

Taika Waititi plays an imagery version of Adolf Hitler in JoJo Rabbit.
Photo: Taika Waititi (Instagram)

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Personal Pick: JoJo Rabbit

Germain Lussier: Fresh off the genius that was Thor: Ragnarok, writer-director Taika Waititi is back with a film that sounds, well, kind of insane. Waititi stars in this period comedy as a young boy’s imaginary friend…who just so happens to be Adolf Hitler. Scarlet Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson are along for what’s sure to be a weird ride. (2019)

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A first look image at HBO’s Watchmen.
Photo: HBO

Watchmen

Cheryl Eddy: Does the world need another adaptation of Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ groundbreaking and acclaimed DC Comics series? At first, we had some doubts. The gritty superhero book was already made into a Zack Snyder-directed film back in 2009, with decidedly mixed results. But HBO’s upcoming series, shepherded by producer-writer-genuine fan Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers), sounds like it’ll offer a promising new take on the material.

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In a social media post last May, Lindelof revealed that his Watchmen would be more of a “remix” than a standard adaptation or sequel, still set in the world created by Moore and Gibbons, but “[asking] new questions and [exploring] the world through a new lens.” With a cast that includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, and Louis Gossett Jr., we’re more than intrigued to see how HBO’s first superhero show unfolds. (2019)

Iconic imagery from The Twilight Zone, now getting a remake from Jordan Peele.
Image: CBS All Access (YouTube)

Personal Pick: The Twilight Zone

Eddy: After Get Out (and Key & Peele, and, hell, even that first Us trailer), we’re prepared to follow Jordan Peele wherever he goes…and that very much includes the weirdest dimensions of time and space. Not only is Peele the creative mind behind CBS All Access’ Rod Serling reboot, he’ll also be its Serling-esque host, and though we don’t know for certain, it appears that the new series will feature new twisted tales as well as fresh takes on classic episodes. And much like the original series, the cast will be outstanding, with the likes of Adam Scott, Sanaa Lathan, John Cho, Steven Yeun, Greg Kinnear, Kumail Nanjiani, Allison Tolman, and many others signing on to learn some hard life lessons and scare the bejesus out of us. (2019)

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The Biggest Horror Movie Milestones Coming in 2019

Jones the cat witnesses something very gruesome in Alien.
Image: 20th Century Fox

There are some huge 40th anniversaries coming up this year for horror fans; as you’ll see (and probably already realized), 1979 was a mighty big year for the genre. But that’s not all. As long as you’re planning one party, might as well recognize these other spooky classics that are marking milestones in 2019.


1929

Disney’s Silly Symphony series—animated musical shorts that delighted moviegoers while providing the studio’s artists an inspiring canvas for experimentation and innovation—kicked off in 1929. The first entry was “The Skeleton Dance,” directed by Walt Disney himself; over a decade, the series picked up seven Oscars and introduced a charismatic new character named Donald Duck. The appeal of “The Skeleton Dance” for horror fans really needs no explanation; 90 years after it first debuted, watching those jaunty, jaw-snapping bone-shakers creeping out of their graves for a wacky dance party is still macabre entertainment at its finest.

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Another 1929 release worth mentioning: Un Chien Andalou, the legendary surreal short from director Luis Buñuel (his first film) and artist Salvador Dalí. While the film is classified more as “avant-garde” than straight-up “horror,” any movie that opens with an eyeball being sliced open by a straight razor—thanks to a clever and still-gruesome bit of editing—deserves a hat-tip for being one of the first examples of a film pushing the boundaries of what the big screen (and audiences) could handle.

1939

Horror giants Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in Son of Frankenstein.
Image: Universal

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Boris Karloff transformed into Frankenstein’s monster for Universal for the third and final time in Son of Frankenstein—the sequel to 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein. The film also features the erstwhile Dracula, Bela Lugosi, who turns in a memorable performance as the sinister Ygor, who uses the monster to carry out murderous revenge. The titular mad scientist’s son is played by Basil Rathbone, who had an even more significant career moment in 1939 when he appeared as Sherlock Holmes on the big screen for the first time in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Rathbone later ended up playing the iconic detective in 14 films alongside Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson—and their 80-year-old version of the eerie Baskervilles story is still esteemed as one of the very best.

1944

The poster is colorful, but the movie is in stark black and white.
Image: Imdb

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Not to be associated with the 2009 film of the same name—which was, confusingly, actually a remake of 2003 South Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters—The Uninvited is about a brother and sister (Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) who are delighted to realize a coastal cottage they’ve admired is being offered at a very reasonable price. They’re less delighted when they realize the cliffs adjacent to the house were the scene of a tragic death—and that the house itself is pretty obviously haunted. There’s a dark mystery motivating the story’s two ghosts, which the living characters desperately try to unravel before another tragedy occurs. Seventy-five years on, The Uninvited’s serious approach to its supernatural storyline still resonates, as does its stunning black-and-white photography, which earned acclaimed cinematographer Charles Lang one of his 18 (!) career Oscar nominations.

1959

Vincent Price’s Dr. Chapin almost falls victim to his own discovery in The Tingler.
Image: Columbia Pictures

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By 1959, horror was on firm footing in Hollywood, thanks to the popularity of drive-in theaters, the pressing need to compete with TV, and the rise of the often-closely-linked genre of science fiction on the big screen. Two campy collaborations between director/impresario William Castle and actor Vincent Price both hit theaters 60 years ago: The House on Haunted Hill, about a rich maniac’s plot to hide a murder by inviting a bunch of money-hungry strangers to an allegedly haunted mansion, and The Tingler, about a creepy-crawly parasite that feeds on terror. Both films are best-remembered today for Castle’s clever marketing tactics, which included making plastic skeletons fly out at the crowd during a crucial scare in Haunted Hill, and hiding devices that would give certain lucky audience members a real zap of electricity (and, presumably, the meta-fright of their lives) during a Tingler scene when the creature is declared “on the loose” in a movie theater. Both films had a monumental impact on a young John Waters, who actually attended one of the rigged screenings, and remained a lifelong fan—in 2017, he even got to cameo as Castle on FX’s Feud.

1969

A still from Invocation of My Demon Brother
Image: Vimeo

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As the 50-year anniversary of the infamous Manson murders (August 8 and 9, 1969) looms, expect carefully-timed projects to start piling up, like Hilary Duff’s Sharon Tate horror flick, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Mary Harron’s Charlie Says (which features Doctor Who’s Matt Smith as the cult mastermind). But if you really want to do “something witchy,” to quote Manson himself, fire up experimental filmmaking pioneer Kenneth Anger’s 11-minute occult short Invocation of My Demon Brother. There’s not really a narrative and it’s not exactly “horror,” but it features an unsettling Moog score by Mick Jagger, was filmed in San Francisco (Manson’s hippie stomping grounds before he made his way to L.A.), and co-stars Anton LaVey as “His Satanic Majesty.” Most notably, it also uses footage of actual Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil—a convicted murderer who’s been in jail for five decades, but wasn’t involved in the Manson Family’s most infamous crime spree, and who may actually get paroled this year—playing Lucifer himself.

1979

The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) and his scary glare in Phantasm: Remastered.
Photo: Well Go USA

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Horror fans (who’d just enjoyed a most bountiful 1976, and the still-recent releases of Halloween and Dawn of the Dead in 1978) were living high in 1979, being showered with films that are now considered bona fide classics:

  • Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror masterpiece Alien, which cemented the idea that a woman could be a kick-ass action hero (and also that space ships are sometimes really just haunted houses in disguise)
  • Don Coscarelli’s genre-defying Phantasm, which is both a surreal waking nightmare about grave-robbing aliens and a heartfelt tale of brothers who must mend their relationship before defeating evil (make sure you watch the gloriously restored version, Phantasm: Remastered)
  • Lucio Fulci’s magnificently gory Zombi 2, which pays offhand homage to Un Chien Andalou’s eyeball mutilation while also piling on other cult-immortalized moments, like an underwater zombie vs. shark brawl
  • The Amityville Horror, an early example of how “based on true events” (even if it’s not) can be an effective storytelling gimmick, especially when you’re trying to scare the hell out of an audience.

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And that wasn’t all 1979 had on tap. That same year also saw the release of Abel Ferrara’s grindhouse standout The Driller Killer; David Cronenberg’s body-horror shocker The Brood; influential land-line tale of terror When a Stranger Calls; Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre, starring his frequent muse and possible actual supernatural creature Klaus Kinski; and David Schmoeller’s Tourist Trap, a B-movie about a sinister roadside wax museum that somehow gets more disturbing every time we watch it.

1989

Thirty years ago, the horror genre was kind of in an awkward transition period. The big titles of the 1970s and early 1980s were still spawning sequels, mostly tepid ones (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child; Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes; Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland; Howling V: Rebirth)—with a few standouts, like the guilty-pleasure zombie comedy C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. and William Peter Blatty’s genuinely unnerving The Exorcist III.

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But that doesn’t mean 1989 was totally devoid of horror films without sequel numbers after their titles. The Stephen King adaptation Pet Sematary—look for the remake later this year—brought the worst parental nightmare imaginable to the big screen, made all the more alarming by the pitch-perfect casting of one of the scariest kid actors ever (night terrors, meet three-year-old Miko Hughes). Shinya Tsukamoto’s truly singular cyberpunk horror tale Tetsuo: The Iron Man is still (rightfully) a midnight-movie draw. And even though it never turned into another Freddy Krueger-esque franchise for A Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven, Shocker remains weirdly enjoyable. That’s because of its out-there tale of a serial killer who morphs into electricity when he’s executed, which allows him to crackle around possessing random people—and also its “wait, is that…” cast, which includes Dr. Timothy Leary, Elm Street star Heather Langenkamp, Craven himself, Ted Raimi, Peter Berg, and none other than Mitch “Skinner from X-Files” Pileggi as the psychotic villain.

1994

Twenty-five years ago, Wes Craven and Heather Langenkamp reunited again for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which imagined that Freddy Krueger—an evil being that exists beyond Robert Englund’s iconic portrayal of the character—was invading the “real” world, with the director and actors playing “themselves.” New Nightmare was released two years before Scream made self-referential horror all the rage, but Craven’s version approaches the idea with zero winks or jokes. The same year saw a few other interesting experiments hitting theaters as Hollywood found itself in a lull between first-wave slasher movies and the Scream imitators that would soon begin rushing into production—movies like Wolf, which turned Jack Nicholson into a werewolf; Interview With a Vampire, which turned Tom Cruise into a glam creature of the night; John Carpenter’s underrated H.P. Lovecraft/Stephen King homage, In the Mouth of Madness; and comic adaptation The Crow, a movie so unique for so many reasons we’re glad every remake attempt has (thus far) failed.

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We also have to wish a happy quarter-century to loopy horror comedy Cemetery Man, still Rupert Everett’s finest hour; and the year’s other notable vampire movie, Michael Almereyda’s elegant and understated Nadja.

1999

The end of The Blair Witch Project is still burned in our retinas, two decades later.
Image: Artisan

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In a year with some excellently horrific standouts (never saw Takashi Miike’s Audition? Want to be freaked out of your skin? Have at it!), we’d like to single out two particularly significant genre entries, movies whose ghostly fingerprints are still all over cinema even 20 years later. The first is The Sixth Sense, which blew so many minds with its clever set-up and white-knuckle frights it racked up six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for M. Night Shyamalan. At the time, his name was not yet synonymous with the twist ending—a device he relied on so much in his subsequent films that it became a punch line, though his latest pivot into the superhero genre (Glass is out next week) suggests he won’t be repeating himself again.

But even beyond its surprise ending, The Sixth Sense holds up remarkably well as a film set in the real world—a place where kids and adults can be desperately lonely, even in a crowd—that presents a version of life after death that’s actually pretty reasonable (in addition to being legitimately scary). Of course a person who’s been wronged in life would want to set things right, and of course they’d seek out anyone, even an awkward little kid, on the other side of the veil to help them out. Boo!

However, for all its clever staging up to that big reveal, The Sixth Sense was still far more conventional than The Blair Witch Project, which wasn’t the first “found footage” movie, but was the first to go mainstream, rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in pure profits, and actually make people think it was real. Blair Witch, about a trio of student filmmakers who get lost in the woods never to be seen again (except in their “recovered” film), jump-started an entire subgenre that yielded a few winners (including fellow massive success Paranormal Activity), but also many, many stinkers. And—apologies to Bruce Willis, but Blair Witch’s stand-in-the-corner final shot is the scariest thing that happened on the screen in 1999. The O.G. film’s impact lingers so much, it spawned a surprise Blair Witch sequel in 2016.

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2009

Just in case you weren’t feeling older than dirt already, here are some horror movies that are turning 10 years old this year: Drag Me to Hell (hey, Sam Raimi…time to think about directing another gruesome genre flick…please?); The House of the Devil (an homage to vintage horror so authentic it’s basically timeless); Jennifer’s Body (a movie written by, directed by, and all about women that’s slowly coming around to the cult status it’s long deserved); and Zombieland, which is finally getting a sequel this year. Good thing the movie’s survival snacks of choice—Twinkies, of course!—probably have a shelf life that’s way longer than one measly decade.

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