I live diagonally across the street from a cemetery. On my more or less daily quarantine walks (note: I started writing this piece in mid-March 2020) I circle the suburb across the street from me, and I consider, often, walking into that sprawling, silent space of the graveyard, navigating the maze of granite and marble while I both recognize the (ephemeral, fleeting) moment and admit, to myself, that a headstone that will stand in for all the components of my life is my irrevocable fate. I’ve dreamt about graveyards multiple times; in my dreams they represent the bleak and macabre, but also the unavoidable. As a child I used to bemoan not just my inevitable death but eternity; the prospect of endlessness was too frightening to fully accept. I believe, now, that time is a construct that makes life more comprehensible to finite beings; to that end, eternity is less the condemnation of disastrous endlessness and more a contrived concept that we use to try to understand the workings of a universal consciousness that is always beyond our complete grasp. Of course, I hadn’t considered all that around age seven or eight, when my mind was reeling with a problem that resisted a solution: an eternity of anything sounded awful, but there was no alternative to eternity. Even if humanity disappeared (a terrifying thought), time would still go on – and there was at least some possibility, I reasoned, that my soul would have to experience eternal time. If not, eternal nothingness sounded even scarier.
It is, I think, a marker of my own white privilege that I’ve not yet posted about recent incidents of racism in America on this blog. The time lapse that it took to reflect and act on my reflections, to realize that I’m not doing enough to count myself among those who are actively advocating for Black lives and situating themselves on the right side of history, amounts to an idle chunk of time that I fear I wouldn’t have wasted if I were Black – if I faced the prospect of being murdered in the streets at random, and especially by officers of the law. This blog is, of course, a horror blog, and a small, personal one at that, but it’s one of the only “platforms” I have, and its articles receive enough hits that I thought it important to join, openly, the voices that condemn the United States’ current violence and injustice toward Black individuals by turning this site’s topic of interest, at times, to real life horrors instead of what Noel Carroll calls “art-horror,” and by stating clearly and explicitly where I stand on many of the “debates” that have arisen because of recent racist events in this country. Continue reading “Just Dread-full believes that Black Lives Matter and Supports the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”→
Before I started studying horror as a path toward getting a doctorate, I’d never heard of Tod Browning’s Freaks. In fact, I’d only vaguely heard of Tod Browning. I’d seen his 1931 rendition of Dracula, featuring Bela Lugosi, one fall night quite a few years ago, when Tinseltown was doing a double feature of Browning’s Dracula, followed by the far superior Spanish version of the film shot the same year (on the same set, but at night, with a different director). I suppose back then I thought of myself as a bit of a horror connoisseur, but perhaps I was basking in my own ego – and that ego was eclipsing all my knowledge of what I didn’t know. Because what I’ve learned since I started reading about horror is that Tod Browning is considered a central auteur in the horror field. In terms of horror cinema, he’s easily one of the genre’s founders, and with good (varying) reasons. Continue reading “My First Viewing of Freaks (1932)”→
Note: Though this post was generated from a re-viewing of episodes one and two of The Haunting of Hill House, the analysis entails a broader knowledge of the show’s trajectory. So, if you still haven’t seen this excellent show and don’t want spoilers, it might be beneficial to avoid reading this piece until you’ve watched the show!Continue reading “Re-Watching The Haunting of Hill House: Episodes One and Two”→
Warning: Because of the film I’ve decided to talk about, the following subject matter will be unavoidably uncomfortable and dismal. Second Warning: If you’ve not yet seen Midsommar and you want to see it, well, first of all, get to it 🙂 (it’s free on Amazon Prime), and second, you may encounter some spoilers. Okay, you’ve been warned, onward: Continue reading “Dani from Midsommar — Fiction’s Fearless Females”→
Michael and I were just sitting around on a slow Saturday afternoon, without much on the agenda. While horror movies tend to be night-time fare for us, the feeling of an afternoon movie on a warm June day just sort of says summer vacation (present summer vacation for me, imminent summer vacation for Michael), so we decided on a 12:10 showing of Ma. My excitement about the film was considerable, but my trepidation about the film regarded the possibility that all of the really shocking, provocative elements of the film may have already been showcased in the trailer – I thought. I was prepared – similar to the situation I experienced with Brightburn –to see a film that didn’t offer much beyond the preview attractions. And while it is true – we get a glimpse of a lot of gore before the movie – there’s so much more to the film than the previews indicate, and Octavia Spencer captures a complex, layered, troubled character with unquestionable perfection. It’s hard to call Ma the best horror movie of the spring, with gems like Us and Pet Sematary gracing the screen, but it can certainly compete. As a heads-up, I have all but given up on writing spoiler-free reviews, so my apologies, but spoilers will abound in this piece.
Michael and I were in the car yesterday and he accused me of “getting all judgy” because he was jamming to Brett Michaels—front-man of the 1980’s hair metal band, Poison and not exactly my poison when it comes to music (one play on words for me—cha-ching!) Now I don’t know if I can really support or refute this claim; what does it mean to be “judgy” after all (we’ll never truly know, because it’s not truly a word), and how does one express judginess in a given context? Planned ignoring, disdain, condemnation? I wasn’t condemning him for listening Brett Michaels, after all; I may have simply rolled my eyes or something similar to indicate my distaste for this particular brand of rather contrived 80’s rock. Michael’s response was twofold: First, he told me I was discriminating against diabetics, because Brett Michaels has juvenile diabetes like Michael. Second, he shot back with a gut-punch about my “pretentious” propensity for Radiohead music. He emphatically stated that he’s never heard a Radiohead song that he likes, that the band is “nothing” to him, and—as I stated—that only pretentious people listen to Radiohead. “Even me?” I asked. “Am I pretentious?” He paused for a minute, and we’ll let the reader infer where the conversation went from there.
I didn’t grow up fat.
I was a hefty baby—a 9-pounder, to be precise—and at different points in
my childhood, a chubbier, sometimes stockier kid, but never fat, per se, and for the first half of
my 20’s, I was 5’3” and 125 lbs, give or take – a frame that we offhandedly
consider average in our society, but that is actually well below the average female
frame. And while I’ve heard that it’s
fairly “normal” to be a size 16-18, four years after gaining most of my weight,
my emergence into a larger body is still a sometimes strange, uncomfortable, jarring
experience, and I’ve only recently started to identify as “fat.” Once I realized that I officially qualified
(it’s kind of like realizing you’re an alcoholic, which I discovered so many years
ago—suddenly, you just know), I wasn’t too
hesitant to call myself what I felt I was, on twitter, and now on my blog. It can be intimidating to try to appropriate,
to try to re-claim a term that’s been used for years to oppress larger women and
shame overweight people, but it’s also liberating to say “this is me—not the
whole of who I am, but part of how I identify, nevertheless.”
Well, the long-awaited evening arrived. I’d been looking forward to Brightburn with at least tenuously high
expectations since Michael told me about the premise oh-so-many-months ago. The film’s situation sounded fascinating – an
inversion of the Superman mythos, in which Superman is embodied in an evil 12-year-old
child – and the previews looked plenty scary.
Couple that with the fact that I really like Elizabeth Banks – and she’s
one of the main forces behind Shrill, a
show I’ve been singing the praises of a la twitter for months – and this was
definitely a film I had to see when it came out. “How about we see it Saturday” Michael suggested
sweetly. I replied, “I’m going on
Thursday night when I get off work, whether you go with me or not.” So, I’m not quite sure if I would have put my
money where my mouth was – I don’t go to the movies alone much, and I hadn’t
asked anyone else along – but luckily, Michael capitulated, and after a quick
four hour shift at Torrid, I met him at the coffee shop across the street and
we zipped to Tinseltown, where we
were two of six people in the theater to see one of the first screenings of Brightburn.
There are probably a lot of reasons why Wicked was my favorite book to read with my students during my Reading the Monster course. This assertion may be surprising, on the one
hand, because Wicked doesn’t fall
under the traditional “horror” umbrella like many other texts on the syllabus. And, as is obvious from reading this blog,
I’m an avid fan and proponent of what might be called, more specifically,
“art-horror”—the creation of fictional horrific events, morphed into cinematic
and literary experiences. Conversely,
there’s so much imagination, and so much problematization (a la fiction) packed
into Wicked, that Gregory Maguire’s book
provides plenty of fodder for speculation, discussion, and debate, even as it
delights, challenges, and entertains—all on a fairly consistent basis. What’s
more—and this may be a far from ancillary point—I taught Wicked after my dreaded comprehensive examination was (more or
less) over, so I had more time to put toward lesson planning and making the
text particularly engaging to students.
The emerging result, for me, was a stronger interest in a text that I
already enjoyed, but that I didn’t fully appreciate until reading a second time.