Dear readers, gather around the campfire—okay, or the computer screen—as I regale you with a story. Throughout time, we’ve been entertained with tales of heroes—the Mighty Achilles, Sir Gawain, Beowulf…Spiderman, Superman, Antman, Xena the Warrior Princess…and the list goes on. I’m here today, however, to discuss a different hero—a single woman who, at a young age, was relegated to a cold, imprisoning underground lair not by any evil villain, but by her own image, staring back at her in a funhouse mirror. For years, the subterranean woman lived among her subterranean people, a group of have-nots who were tethered to those in the world above, who “lived the lives” of those above ground, albeit without all the artifacts and accoutrements associated with living. Angry at her fate, this young woman grew up and devised a plan, inspired by the image on a t-shirt, that could be executed with a mere lighter and a few pairs of scissors. The woman planned not just to take over a city, a state, or a nation, but, with the help of the others who lived with her underground, to take over the world, to re-populate the world above ground with her enslaved, tethered people. She did not want fame, power, or fortune—merely justice and the warm light of the sun, for herself and those she lived among. Thus, with nothing but cunning brilliance, a few dull sheers, an eccentric family, and some kickass dance moves, a young woman and her family entered the “ordinary world,” intent on inhabiting it by dominating it.Continue reading “Red’s Retaliation: The Untethering of a Subterranean Revolutionary – Fiction’s Fearless Females”
Skinamarink: There’s No Place Like Home (The Spoiler-Filled Account of a Horror Phenomenon).
For some horror fans, Skinamarink was a bust—a waste of one hour and forty minutes on this beautiful, mysterious earth. The same security guard stood outside the theater both times Michael and I saw it, and he was aghast that we saw it twice. Certainly, some of the theatergoers liked the film, based on post-movie conversations, but others responded with a resounding, “it sucked,” and moved on with their lives. As for me, well, I can’t seem to get that monster out of my mind, to echo the title of a Joan Didion essay (although to be honest, I don’t remember what that essay was about). Indeed, the “monster” in the film is a diabolical force that takes over a family’s household. And it’s a diabolical force that’s incredibly well-conveyed—so much so that I have concluded this is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. Given, however, that the whole movie is a sequence of fuzzy camera stills, I’m quite interested in considering why I found it so scary. That is, at least, (part) of what this blog post is about. I haven’t written casually about horror in a while, but my most frequent horror-writing tendency has always been to highlight the main things I have to say about a film (even when they’re disconnected) and discuss them in my blog posts. That is, then, what I will do here. To that end, here are my thoughts on Skinamarink, a landmark horror film that I would situate as a genre-bending classic.Continue reading “Skinamarink: There’s No Place Like Home (The Spoiler-Filled Account of a Horror Phenomenon).”
Brooding Men and Unholy Births: Parthenogenesis and the inter-generational transmission of abuse in The Brood and Men.
I sat on Michael’s couch for a while tonight, next to his wise, oversized unicorn, Justin, biting my worn-down acrylic French tips and oscillating between potential writing projects. I settled on a blog post, since it’s been quite some time since I wrote on my blog, and I decided to put a classic 1979 Cronenberg horror movie (The Brood) in conversation with the recently released horror film Men because they were both on my mind, and I couldn’t decide which one to write about. I’m finishing up my section on The Brood for chapter two of my dissertation, and I went to see Men with Michael, Jaelyn, and Ryan a few weeks ago, a riveting film that we followed up with a long conversation outside the theater in the cool Erie late-May weather about what it all means and how it—Men—re-enacts contemporary phenomenon.Continue reading “Brooding Men and Unholy Births: Parthenogenesis and the inter-generational transmission of abuse in The Brood and Men.”
What is Beetlejuice without Beetlejuice?: Thoughts on Death, Patriarchy, and Capitalism.
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.
Continue reading “What is Beetlejuice without Beetlejuice?: Thoughts on Death, Patriarchy, and Capitalism.”
Dani from Midsommar — Fiction’s Fearless Females
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”
Partying with Ma on a Sunny Summer Saturday
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.Continue reading “Partying with Ma on a Sunny Summer Saturday”
Feel the (Bright)Burn: Strengths and Shortcomings of the Inverted Superman Mythos
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.Continue reading “Feel the (Bright)Burn: Strengths and Shortcomings of the Inverted Superman Mythos”
A Macabre Mother’s Day for a Macabre Horror Mother: Contemplating the Woman in Black
It is just a screen. I tell myself. Nothing but some actors playing out a ghost story on the screen. You’ll be 35 years old in a couple months—you can do this. My self-assurance slowly lapses into condescension as I secretly lambast myself for being so afraid. After all, do I not write on a horror blog? Am I not focusing my dissertation on some element of the horror genre? Some of this stuff is, indeed, second nature to me –werewolves and vampires have never scared me, and I’ve seen The Shining at least fifty times by now—but something about a well-made ghost movie, one that I haven’t already watched on repeat, really has the ability to de-stabilize my zen. With the right directing and producing – the appropriate manufacture of jump scares – I can find myself fighting the urge (and sometimes giving into the urge) to cover my ears and eyes as I’m watching a particularly suspenseful horror film. It’s rare that I react this way, but it does occur—which, I might mention, is another reason I love the horror genre. For as many of these films as I’ve seen, the right one still has the power to scare the $#!+ out of me.Continue reading “A Macabre Mother’s Day for a Macabre Horror Mother: Contemplating the Woman in Black”
A Horrific Spring: Recently and Soon-to-Be Released Horror Movies
As I’ve been off working hard at life, Hollywood has been working even harder to create a deliciously rich amalgam of Spring horror movies and to thus to pull me back toward my long-neglected blog. The list that Michael and I started composing after watching horror movie previews turned out to be too noteworthy to ignore. Couple that with the fact that I’m feeling chatty lately (more in the mood to shout from a roof top, less in the mood to crouch in a corner) and you have a recipe for my first self-composed blog post in exactly three months. I don’t claim this to be an exhaustive list of all-things-horror being released in the next few months, but I’m trying to be fairly thorough with the rather abundant supply of scary that’s headed toward the theaters. The first two entries on this list are films I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, and the rest are films that haven’t been released yet, but that I’ll be sure to see when they are released. For your ease-of-reading, I’ve arranged the films by release date, accompanied by trailers. My discussion, of course, will be slightly more thorough for the two films I’ve already seen. In any case, here they are: five films to consider if you need a (decidedly terrifying, unnerving, exhilarating) movie night any time soon.Continue reading “A Horrific Spring: Recently and Soon-to-Be Released Horror Movies”
What Scares Us: Kiri’s First Fright
It seems only appropriate that my first fear is attributed not to a George Lucas film, but instead a film from his friend and early rival, Steven Spielberg.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking – Jaws. After all, I live in Massachusetts where Jaws was filmed and we have great white sharks often roaming our nearby beaches in the summer.
No, my friends, you are wrong. Instead, my first fear that I can remember is E.T.Read more