Well, unsurprisingly, it’s three in the morning and I’ve decided to write a blog post. You see, I was reading On Monsters: An Unnatural History of our Worst Fears by Stephen T. Asma, and his writing is so fluid, his stories so interesting, his points so insightful, that I got inspired to write. In general, I find that as I read more for my comprehensive exams, I tend to get so enthusiastic that I feel I absolutely must release some of my excitement through writing. And, I have the perfect fodder for a blog post this evening. Michael and I went to see a showing of Escape Room tonight, and we both really enjoyed the film. Given that I’ve been reading about monsters and horror non-stop over break, my mind started playing with the movie in light of what I’ve been reading, and I jotted down some thoughts earlier. So, here’s what will probably be a fairly short little post on Escape Room. I’m not one for rating or grading movies, so while I won’t give it a rating, I’ll say it’s an interesting example of a horror archetype we’ve been seeing a lot of recently, and it’s a genuinely engaging film with (my favorite!) mostly likable characters! As such, I highly suggest you check it out. But…I’m no good at writing without spoilers, so those will inevitably follow this paragraph. Beware!!Continue reading “Escaping the Atypical Monster in Escape Room”
When I ponder my love of horror, I trace it back to this crazy fear of death I’ve had since I was a child. Perhaps most of us are somewhat afraid to die, but for me, at points in my life, the fear has been quite stark. I wrote a little essay-type piece about it, since I’m trying to memoir more about my love of horror. The piece below is a little dark, and a little personal, but I was in the mood to write at 3:30 a.m. before going to sleep, so here it is.Continue reading “For the Love of Horror: Tracing Origins”
Of Shakespeare’s sister that Virginia Woolf imagines in A Room of One’s Own, Woolf speculates: “Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly but was careful to hide them or set fire to them.” For some scholars of women’s literature, it’s fairly common to assume that there was a vendetta against the combination of women and work in Anglo-American history, and that stifling the ability to work– often forbidding, particularly, artistic expression – resulted in concomitant madness for oppressed women. It’s a common trope, although there were some significant historical exceptions to the rule. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’ve heard that Jane Austen had to hide her manuscript whenever a guest entered her room. And one must wonder, as VW did, what happened to the likely expansive throng of brilliant, would-be productive women who weren’t given a voice prior to, say, the Romantic or Victorian eras – or later. As an unrelated heads up, there will be spoilers throughout this piece!Continue reading “Thoughts on Scribbling from the Apple Loft: Madness and Work in Various Texts”
When I was thirteen, my family and I took a trip to Florida. I certainly wasn’t too old to love Disney World (I’m still not) but I was most excited to visit Universal Studios. After all, commercials for Universal Studious basically consumed cable tv stations in the mid 90’s, and my imagination took flight when I saw the commercial for the Jaws ride. Out of the depths of murky nothingness, a giant shark rises beside passengers in a boat, its face partially distorted by the flamboyant, spasmodic flashing lights that eclipse its visage and make the shark look more than a little surreal, and infinitely menacing. I was simultaneously horrified and titillated by the prospect of actually riding the Jaws ride and experiencing the enormous, foreboding shark for myself. Continue reading “In the Jaws of a Classic: An analysis of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws”
After watching Hereditary – which I never blogged about, in part because of a perceived inability to say anything unique about it – I thought I’d seen it all. Hereditary is one of the most disturbing horror films I’ve seen in some time, a sickening romp through the cackling, bloody underworld of death, grief, and witchcraft combined. Nonetheless, Michael and I watched The Eyes of My Mother yesterday, a movie I decided to put on my list for comprehensive exams when I heard about it at a pop culture conference. Let me tell you: it was disturbing. Nonetheless, it was a fascinating film that said a lot about certain types of madness and (perhaps) about how such madness evolves. I’ll be including, in my piece, Michael’s take on the main character, along with my reaction to his opinion and some observations about the film in general. As a warning, this film is not for the faint of heart, and it may sit with you for awhile after you watch it. That said, let’s talk about, perhaps, the general experience of watching The Eyes of My Mother along with some of the questions it raises. Continue reading “Monstrous Undertakings in The Eyes of My Mother”
It was another day of mild to moderate chaos at the local video store where I work. Michael came in to procure movies that we would watch later that evening. He held up a few options in front of me and prompted me to pick the one in which I was the most interested. I immediately selected The Howling. Having never seen the film, I’d only heard it alluded to briefly in Scream, and I knew only that it was a canonical werewolf movie. I wasn’t really expecting to be scared, and to be honest, it didn’t scare me…that much. The film was a lot more well-made and in general a lot creepier than I’d anticipated. That aside, I kind of found myself wracking my brain for some sort of way to break the film apart or put it into perspective. As I watched I scribbled down notes, but I wasn’t getting the insights I’d hoped for. Despite my difficulties really analyzing this film, I think I’ll discuss in general why I like this movie, with an emphasis on the fact that it inverts the typical werewolf movie “rules” in a couple of ways and consistently highlights its own fixation on “the body” or “the flesh.” Continue reading “A Howl for the Howling”
I went into The First Purge with moderate expectations. The previews had revealed a significant amount about the film’s premise, and I’d seen the additional three Purge movies before. I didn’t have much hope that a prequel would be uniquely terrifying, but I was expecting it—especially, given its name—to contextualize the bizarre process of “purging” that these Purge films have contrived, to explain how “the purge” came to be in a world where we’d like to assume that most people are fundamentally good and basically non-violent. That expectation was definitely met, and I thought that in achieving this goal, The First Purge made some bold statements about problems in our country and where we could be headed. I argued in an earlier piece that I saw some “problematic presumptions” embedded in the originally released purge, (simply titled The Purge). Well, this film answered my qualms in a clever, incisive way. I should also warn you at the outset that my analysis contains a lot of spoilers, so only read on if you’ve seen the film, don’t plan on seeing the film, or aren’t bothered by rather specific previews!
A few nights ago, I decided to enjoy a little casual viewing of a horror classic. Christine, the story of the monster car, is a horror staple that, with a well-written script and believable characters, delivers ample entertainment without ever really terrifying the viewer—at least, if the viewer is me. Because Christine doesn’t situate itself in the realm of the typical horror movie, rife with ghouls and vampires and traditional monsters of all sorts. Christine – if you don’t know this, and you probably do – is about a vicious, killer car with unusual superpowers. I chose the film, as I’ve insinuated, because I think it’s a fun watch for a low-key night – nothing as scary, say, as watching Sinister. And unsurprisingly, as I watched the film, a few thoughts came to mind that made me ponder. Continue reading “Cruisin’ With Christine: Attack of the Monster Car”
So, a brief glance at my blog informs me that I haven’t written in almost two months. Since I like to post a weekly post, that should be some indicator about how well I’m juggling my time this semester (translation: not well at all.) However, Spring Break has (happily) descended upon me, and with Spring Break comes at least a little time to breath, and some horror-movie filled nights. Now, I’ll credit Michael: Invasion of the Body Snatchers was actually his idea. We were strolling the video store, when he mentioned the title. However, this turned out to be a fortuitous idea. More than some of the other films we’ve watched over break, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fairly rich film that yields a lot of fun, exciting stuff to write about. In fact, I have many pages of notes, so I’m not sure where I’ll start. We shall find out! Continue reading “Invasion of the Body Snatchers Invades my Spring Break”
In a rare turn of events, I got off work early today (woo-hoo!) and had to decide how to occupy my time. I was thinking about a post I could write without re-reading anything, or re-watching anything – so I could just start writing for the sake of writing, and get a post up today before my plans tonight. And it occurred to me that while I’ve talked about evil a lot on this blog, there is a rich pantheon of evil horror characters I’ve never discussed.
One thing is for certain: not all villains are made alike, and not all behave similarly. I thought about this when considering the difference, in Star Wars, between a Vader and a Palpatine. Vader becomes pure evil, but he becomes evil because he falls; the prequels tell us that he was once the promising Jedi, Annakin Skywalker. And ultimately, Vader is redeemed. Palpatine, on the other hand, is more or less bad to the bone, as the cliché song goes. So I started thinking about all the evil horror characters who are insane, who are sympathetic, who have at least strands of humanity that sometimes surmount the darkness and show themselves a bit. And then, I thought of the horror characters that don’t have any of that – no really human tendencies, no back story, few redeeming qualities. For the purposes of this post, these are the characters I’ll label “truly evil,” and I’ve chosen five of them. I couldn’t put these five characters in order, because they’re all pretty damn malicious, but here’s the list, nonetheless, with my explanation: My five favorite truly evil horror characters: Continue reading “Evil is as Evil Does: Five of Horror’s Vilest Villains”