I’ve heard the argument that there’s no need for horror movies because there’s enough horror in this world already. Perhaps, but perhaps not. What is horror? Bing’s search engine defines it as an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust. Okay, that doesn’t really help. What is horror as a genre? To cheapen a genre I love, we could say that horror is fiction-stuff marketed to manufacture fear, shock, or disgust. But horror movies do this by departing from reality, by placing us in far-flung scenarios that aren’t emotionally troubling – at least not in the long run – because they’re so blatantly fictional. The horror we see in movies really has nothing at all to do with the horror we see in real life. There are very few witches, vampires, and monsters traipsing about North America, and while there are murderers, there aren’t many methodical, superhuman, Michael Meyers-esque serial killers like the ones we see in slasher movies. People will say that we’re an apathetic nation, desensitized by horror and violence. But often times, entertainment violence is grounded in pure fancy; it bears no semblance to the problematic, and often violent scenarios we find in the real world. If I were concerned with avoiding real world horror, I would be more likely to cut myself off from action movies or any movie involving any kind of war – whether it be The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games, or Saving Private Ryan. Continue reading “In Defense of Horror”
So I haven’t blogged in a while. I’ll admit: I downloaded an old computer game I used to play in high school, and I’m hooked all over again. This is my plug for RollerCoaster Park Tycoon: Once you start building virtual amusement parks, you’ll never stop. But I did read Hell House, by Richard Matheson, while I was on my blogging hiatus. Perhaps I seek to get in touch with my youth; I also flew through Hell House in high school and was mesmerized. I’ll admit, this time around, the story was less captivating. Maybe I’m old and jaded. But, the book is still a pretty good scare. As I sat alone downstairs at night reading it, I looked around anxiously lest any insidious spirits eye me up and prepare to pounce. As far as haunted house stories are concerned, Hell House provides an intricate plot with intense action and characters who are relatable, although some are more likable than others. Continue reading “Will Hell House Scare the Hell Out of You?”
For Christmas, I was unexpectedly gifted with the book The Haunted City, presented by Jason Blum. Because I’ve seen myriad Blumhouse movies – and have been moderately thrilled to terrified by most of them – I was unquestionably excited by this present. Indeed, the book received much praise, which it splashed across its beginning pages. My excitement intensified. And I stumbled upon a story by Ethan Hawke. We all know him. He seems like a likable enough guy, and certainly a good actor. So I thought to myself: I wonder how Hawke does horror? And I had to find out. As it turns out, he does pretty well, but he left me wanting more. Continue reading “Hawke Does Horror Fiction — And Does Pretty Well”
I’ve come to conclude that one of the richest elements of Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams is the introduction he writes to each story. I’ve also come to conclude that the stories aren’t scary, per se, but that’s okay; I don’t think he intends to scare as much in this book as he does in some of his more frightening novels, despite what the somewhat misleading book title would suggest. What is particularly intriguing about The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is its rich variety. Each story is distinctly its own entity, written with a different style. I think variety in output is often the hallmark of true talent, though I need not make the argument that King is truly talented, because that seems like an understatement. The stories stand alone as good writing, but combine together to form an eclectic view not on the infinitely terrifying, but on the darker side of life. Continue reading “A Trip to the Bazaar: Stephen King’s “Premium Harmony” in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams”
This is part one of the short story I’m trying to write. Mind you, I do very little fiction — this is predominantly a review website — but I’m taking a stab at it. I haven’t gotten to the really scary stuff, yet:
“Well first of all, the air is stifling here. But really, just everything is stifling here.” I was craving a Frappucino but was working on exercising my self-discipline. Sometimes a hot gulp of black coffee sounds like a delicious, stimulating indulgence. Other times, it feels like a necessity. But there are times – like that night – when it just felt like a punishment for someone who loves Frappucino but carries its calories in her thighs. I paused and realized that I was tapping my foot frenetically. Continue reading “Chapter One – The Talk”
Reading E.F. Benson’s “Caterpillars” tonight harkened me back to a summer night three years ago. I was in my bedroom on a balmy evening. I was living with my parents because I was a poor grad student. My parents usually turned the air conditioning on, but that night they didn’t and the stifling heat seemed to devour the wind that was trying to creep through my window. I fell asleep nonetheless, and when I woke up in the middle of the night, there was the shadow of a man standing above my bed. Mind you, this was before I re-kindled my childhood fascination with horror and that perhaps illusory world between life and extinction. So my mind wasn’t primed to see phantoms the way it theoretically would be now. I remember distinctly seeing the outlines of the books on my bookshelf behind the figure. I felt very much “there.” Everything looked real. Continue reading “It Was All A Dream: Or Was It?”
When I prepare to write a review of a story or movie, it goes something like this: I scribble some notes, on a tablet or in the margin of the book. Usually, I use these notes to prompt larger points. More ideas flow as I write. It’s highly exhilarating; I just started writing reviews for a blog, but I love it. At the same time, it doesn’t seem particularly hard. Indeed, it’s easy to discuss how I feel about something I’ve read. Sometimes, it’s easy to analyze it on a deeper level, especially if I apply a handy academic paradigm. Paradigms make all analysis easier. I went through four years of liberal arts schooling and two years of an English Master’s program; I know how to break things down and analyze them. My point? I find it relatively stress-free and enjoyable.
Even diehard fans of fright and gore sometimes need to kick back and savor a more lighthearted classic. Enter: The Lost Boys. Featuring both of those famous 1980’s Coreys – Haim and Feldman – The Lost Boys preceded Twilight in diverging from Dracula and taking the vampire myth to new heights. Continue reading “Vamped Out Again: Losing it Over The Lost Boys”
Guest Writer: Michael J. Miller
Cullen Bunn and Ramon Rosanas, the author and illustrator on Marvel’s 2014 graphic novel Night Of The Living Deadpool, taught me two very important lessons with their book. First, I learned they know the genre. The whole book is filled with references, direct and subtle, to all manner of zombie dystopias from Night Of The Living Dead to The Walking Dead to I Am Legend to Zombieland. Second, and much more importantly, I learned if the zombie apocalypse ever does occur I think I want to go through it with Deadpool! Sorry Rick. Sorry Darrell. Sorry Glenn and Maggie (our zombie apocalypse version of Jim and Pam). Sorry Carol. I love you all. And you kick ass. But Deadpool’s the one I want getting me through the apocalypse because he’s the one joking about it the whole time. With Deadpool by your side you might even enjoy yourself. That’s the attitude you’d need! Who wants bleak and depressing reflections on humanity and death when you can own your last-man-on-earth status and walk through the apocalypse singing Tiffany??
Not surprisingly, Poe mentions madness early in the story “The Black Cat.” It’s kind of his shtick. He starts where many horror writers start: at the end of the story, with a narrator recounting a tale of terror and travesty. But unlike narrators in other stories, this narrator is damned by the events of the tale, and perhaps seeks solace in his retelling. Also unlike narrators in other stories, he’s not sitting around a fireside, and so many horror stories (“The Monkey’s Paw,” “The Bodysnatchers,” “The Turn of the Screw,” to name a few) start by the fireside. Our narrator sits in a prison cell, but he does not expect your sympathy. He is honest about his previous callousness. Not only doesn’t he expect your sympathy; he doesn’t expect you to believe his story. He proclaims: “For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence.” Poe knows how to write an introduction. Are you intrigued yet? I was. Continue reading “Exploring Poe-tential Evil in “The Black Cat””