In celebration of Women’s History Month, I have joined up with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate! This is the fifth year that I have participated in this series with Michael of My Comic Relief, Kalie of Just Dread-full, and Jeff of The Imperial Talker and this year I choose FBI Special Agent Dana Scully, MD, of The X-Files fame. This iconic role began in 1993 and spanned eleven seasons and two movies over the course of twenty-five years before ending (for good?) in 2018.
The X-Files became a breakout science-fiction hit on the Fox Network. The show became must-watch tv for a legion of fans before shows were on demand and could be watched whenever you wanted. I distinctly remember watching the first season while I was in college, crowded into a room with my friends. I found this young professional woman an inspiration as I was on the cusp of entering the workforce myself.
Well, it happened. I finally sat down to watch an episode of Doctor Who –an episode that Michael promised me was horrific enough to write about for my blog. And he was correct about that. The episode under examination, “The Girl in the Fireplace,” was at least moderately unnerving—I’ve seen scarier, of course, but it was pretty unsettling—but what excited me the most about the episode was the connection to other science fiction classics it provoked. I have become interested, to that end, in a prevalent motif that I see in contemporary/semi-contemporary science fiction: the fear of sacrificial embodiment. So what exactly do I mean by that? In a lot of contemporary science fiction, we’re afraid that our physical bodies will be sacrificed as vehicles to further technological progress. Underlying that fear, I think, is a perceived incongruence between the so-called “natural” body and the man-made technology that runs off it. But, to further explain my point, let me delve into three science fiction works that elucidate it: Doctor Who’s “The Girl in the Fire Place,” the popular classic The Matrix, and Black Mirror’s “Fifteen Million Merits.”
Okay, so in the chaos of finishing final papers and working at my jobs, I ended up not writing 1,700 words a day for my imminent novel. I will admit, being busy (which I was) became mixed with both some discomfort at how personal and emotional my writing was getting, how uncomfortable I was with other elements of the text that were unfolding, and how unsure I was (am) that I could ever add any sort of structure or plot twist that would make the strange storyline that’s unfolding, in my eyes, a viable novel, or novel-like production. I am not dropping my “Post Nano-wrimo” project, but I took a very Un-Nano-wrimo-like break and will probably return to the original project in a couple of days. The reason I write today is because I finally saw The Last Jedi and, as someone who contemplates the villainy of villains, the inherent evil-ness of characters and how we regard the bad guy, how we treat the monster, so-called, I found myself (as I was to a lesser degree in The Force Awakens) incredibly drawn to Kylo Ren. And that’s all I’ll say in the first paragraph, before I add more details about the film. I think it goes without saying that if you still haven’t seen The Last Jedi and you’re averse to spoilers, DON’T READ THIS. It will probably be necessary to reveal spoilers while delving into an analysis of Kylo. But I want to talk, I think, about reading Kylo as a monster –or not—and what that does to our conception of the monster. Continue reading “Contemplating Kylo Ren”→
Amidst rapt excitement about the incredibly unique albeit troubling film Alien Covenant, I neglected all of the film’s predecessors – which was fine, for awhile. But now that I’ve rambled incessantly about why I think the recently released Alien Covenant is such an excellent movie, perhaps it’s time to return to the film’s roots and take a look at the original Alien, and the one after that, and the one after that, and so on, and so forth. Frankly, I’ve been meaning to write about the original Alien for a long time, but every time I’m faced with a highly-respected genre classic that’s stood (at least some) test of time, I get a wee bit intimidated, and this is especially true when we move into Science Fiction territory, which is far from my area of expertise. But a couple of days ago, Michael and I hunkered down to watch Alien and Aliens, and I was mesmerized all over again (since I’ve seen them both before). One wonderful thing about being me is that I have a horrible memory, especially for a lot of film. While this could be detrimental to my performance on the imminent PhD candidacy test I keep writing about (for which I have to read and recall over 100 books) it really comes in handy when I re-watch a film. More often than not, I’m surprised by certain plot twists and character actions all over again! It’s fantastic! With that in mind, I think it’s time to pay homage to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and discuss why the film is so freakin’ fantastic. Continue reading “An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original”→
It’s finally happened: I’m writing about Star Wars on my horror blog. Given the alarmingly high degree of my boyfriend’s nerdiness, this installment was inevitable for some time, but the possibility has finally come to fruition two and a half years after I first met Michael. Now, don’t get me wrong: Michael has given Star Wars a horror twist on this blog before with his examination of horror tropes in the popular animated series The Clone Wars. But I guess because I prefer to be nestled safely in the typical renditions of my favorite genre, I’ve never branched out the same way. And then, it happened, one fateful night (which was really last night). Michael mentioned that a comic series bent toward the horror genre had been released. The Screaming Citadel series is a five-issue exploration of what happens when you merge Star Wars with the disturbing and the macabre. Michael generously purchased the first two series installments for me earlier this evening, which I have proceeded to read with considerable enjoyment. Continue reading ““The Screaming Citadel” Screams Star Wars at its Scariest — Issues 1 & 2″→
Existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (you know, that German philosopher with one hell of a curly mustache) once theorized that all of life and human activity rests on the will to power. Though I am no expert on Nietzsche, this seems to suggest that each individual’s desire to hold power, feel a sense of power, etc. – in a variety of contexts – governs much human activity. Moreover, we can look at, say, a movie, and understand character actions and motivations at least partially through this context. Famous theorist Michel Foucault suggests much the same thing when he says that “power is everywhere, diffused and embodied in discourse, knowledge, and regimes of truth.” While Foucault examines power on a more sociological level, his viewpoints converge with Nietzsche on the influence and the prevalence – indeed, the omnipresence – of power. And while there are many elements of Alien Covenant to discuss (I saw it tonight) power seems of critical importance. Continue reading ““To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant”→
When it comes to the found footage genre, it seems like everyone has an opinion, and they’re not all favorable. Personally, I love the genre’s faux-authenticity (how’s that for an oxymoron?) and I don’t hold films that fall under the found footage umbrella up to unreasonable expectations. CGI’d specters and ostentatious sound effects are necessarily off-limits, forcing the filmmaker to work within certain parameters. What’s trickier, still, is any attempt to work within the found footage genre while somehow also making the film seem unique and original. It’s hard to emulate TheBlair Witch Project, for example, and still deviate from it enough to produce something that critics will deem “innovative.” With those observations in mind, I’m going to give the recently released Phoenix Forgotten my seal of approval. It has been, and will continue to be, lambasted for not being scary enough (and perhaps too imitative of similar predecessors), but as I’ll suggest below, that’s a fairly shallow bit of criticism that doesn’t take into account both how intriguing the film is and how chillingly it concludes. Continue reading “Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon”→
For much of my life, I had no real urge to see John Carpenter’s The Thing. Just the name of the film seemed blasé. I mean, how scary could a so-called “thing” be in a supernatural realm of ghosts, vampires, and demons? However, my interest piqued, both as I got older and as I started thinking more broadly about the horror genre. I began to wonder: Okay, so what exactly is “the thing,” and what can it do compared to other dangerous entities? After all, I’d seen Halloween, so I knew John Carpenter was more than capable of making a compelling horror film. (And, well, I love Lauryn Hill’s 90’s hit, “That Thing.” That has to matter, right?) A few nights ago, then, with those thoughts in mind, I grabbed The Thing off the rack at our local Family Video (yes, Michael and I still support brick and mortar video lenders) and the two of us settled down for what turned out to be a lengthy, in-depth study of partly-explained infestation and unchecked paranoia.
In his poem, “Roses,” William Carlos Williams writes, “The imagination, across the sorry facts, lifts us to make roses.” The poem can be uplifting or cynical, depending on its interpretation. When I sat down to write this piece, I was going to say that the poem was needlessly negative. Are the “facts” really that “sorry”? And can’t the mind work in an opposite way, so that everything around us is really rather nice but appears abysmal? Conversely, writers, for years, have been fascinated with the concept of disillusionment. Our minds build castles in the sky, and when those castles collapse, we see a depressing reality – or so the story goes sometimes. This was clearly Charles Beaumont’s interest in “The Magic Man,” a short story in his Perchance to Dream anthology – a story that isn’t scary, per se, but that subtly leads us to the darker crevices of the human psyche. (There will be some spoilers in this review). Continue reading “The Sting of Disillusionment”→
I love folksy beliefs. Chief among those that interest me is the belief that if you die in your dream, you really die. I don’t imagine this is true, because I have died in my dreams, and I’m still here to relate the experience. Sometimes in my dreams, I don’t merely die; I’m already dead. But Charles Beaumont taps into this fear of dream-death in his short story “Perchance to Dream,” which is also the name of the collection of short fiction the story appears in. Beaumont, one of the most influential Twilight Zone writers, died of Pick’s disease (and, possibly, early-onset Alzheimer’s) at age 38, but his contributions to the horror and science fiction genres are nonetheless abundant. This is the first of his works I’ve read, but with the compilation Perchance to Dream safely in my hands, I intend to read many more. Continue reading “To Read “Perchance to Dream””→