Despite being perhaps the least creatively named movie in the genre, The Boy is one of the more original plot lines I’ve seen in horror lately. Take It Follows – one of Hollywood’s most recent horror hits. The plot line of It Follows is compelling and unique, but the movie’s title is perfectly indicative of the events in the film: an unnamed “it” will follow you. (Let me emphasize again that I love It Follows and proudly proclaim my adoration here, but the film’s brilliance doesn’t lie in plot twists, and its title is perfectly indicative of the film’s central conflict.) The Boy is similar in that yes, in part, the movie is about a boy, but forecasting the plot twists in this film will be tricky for even the most seasoned horror veteran. Predicting plot lines isn’t much my forte, but Michael is exceptionally adept at doing so, and his prediction turned out to be mostly wrong. The Boy will surprise you, and at least for me, that surprise was welcomed and refreshing. Continue reading “Expect the Unusual with The Boy”
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””
The cautionary tale is one we’ve all heard. A mysterious stranger comes from an exotic land and brings a talisman that tempts the protagonist. The stranger warns the protagonist not to use the talisman, but the protagonist does. Doom ensues. The protagonist’s purported greed is punished. Continue reading “Anything is Paw-ssible with “The Monkey’s Paw””
“The Voice in the Night,” by William Hope Hodgson, published in 1907, starts like a stereotypical horror story: “It was a dark, starless night.” But Hodgson manages to provide suspense – and at least a few small surprises – throughout the telling of his story. As is typical of old horror stories, a narrator regales us with macabre events that have passed. George, the narrator, is sailing through the Northern Pacific with his friends, when they hear a faint voice coming from a small boat. Continue reading ““The Voice in the Night” and the Illusion of Place”
Who murders someone for a single silver dollar? In Stephen King’s “A Death” Jim Trusdale is accused of doing just that. Want to characterize Trusdale? Think of a skinny version of Lennie from Of Mice and Men. Trusdale is notably slow, and people laugh at his speech. But, unlike Steinbeck’s hulking Lennie, Trusdale is about 140 lbs. The townsfolk accuse Trusdale of killing ten-year-old Rebecca Cline, leaving his hat under her dress, stealing her silver dollar, and leaving her dead body in an alley. Sheriff Barclay becomes certain Trusdale didn’t commit the act, but, to the reader’s chagrin, he says nothing. Continue reading “A Trip to the Bazaar: Reading “A Death” from Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams”
Tonight, after a dinner at the Public House, Michael and I headed to Erie’s Warner Theater on 8th street to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho on the big screen while the Erie Chamber Orchestra sat under the screen, playing the score. The experience was phenomenal. Watching musicians play the opening score while credits splashed across the screen was so exhilarating I got chills. Of course, one pivotal musical moment happens during the infamous shower scene, but the music was similarly arresting when the last remains of Marian’s car sink under the swamp, and when “Mrs. Bates” turns around, and we see her “in the flesh.” (Or, if I may, in the lack of flesh). In fact, I never realized how beautiful Psycho’s score was until I saw it produced by a live orchestra. Continue reading “We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Examining Evil, Psychosis, and Human Error in Psycho and Other Films”
The local theater was showing a Thursday night preview of Crimson Peak two nights ago, before the actual release date on Friday. With no hesitation, I was there. Without question, my favorite subgenre of horror is the ghost story, and Crimson Peak primed us to expect some phenomenally creepy ghosts through its ghoulish previews – previous that show portions of skeletal apparitions grasping arms or swaying across the floor. Vampires are fun, witches are cool, and stories about the devil can be pretty scary, but nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to a good old-fashioned ghost story. And Crimson Peak taps into a horror film phenomenon that never fails to dispense fear in generous, indulgent doses: the phenomenon of the female ghost.