Pre-Reading Note: My grad program has been time consuming, so I haven’t been able to post as regularly. I hope to keep up a slightly more regular posting schedule, however, in coming weeks, my writing will be supplemented by the works of other bloggers who will add to my Walking Dead Series and/or write about their first frights! (Get excited!)
Funny Story: It took me a second perusal of the comic rendition Stephen King’s N to realize that the plot sits at the nexus of some of my favorite literary areas of exploration. What – you were expecting a story that was literally funny? Sorry to disappoint you. This is a horror blog. We don’t laugh here. Continue reading “N – Or the Frailty of the Non-Monster”→
Well, it’s official. I’ve written an uneven 73 posts on Just Dread-Full since the blog’s inception in late October of 2015. Now, before I continue, I had a different introduction written in this piece, but the ghost of Miss Jessel is apparently bitter about how I depicted her in my piece on The Innocents, because she’s crawled out of the movie and consumed my laptop. Really. Michael and I lost my laptop in the transition from his parents’ house to his house (one of us was carrying the bag). We, and his parents, have searched every conceivable place, and it’s simply disappeared. As such, I’m typing from his laptop, and I have to start this piece over again.
That’s Groundskeeper Willie’s response to Bart when Bart says the name “The Shining” in the canonical Tree House of Horror episode parodying the film, instead of replacing the title, “The Shining,” with the slightly more comical title the episode adopted: “The Shinning.” To be honest, every time I hear the title, The Shining, I immediately want to shout, “Shhh. Wanna get sued?” So I may have been fishing for an excuse to use Willie’s quotation in the opening of this piece.
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”→
Slasher movies are a classic staple of the horror genre. There’s just something that draws a horror audience to the everyday murdering psychopath. In a previous post, I speculated why horror fans are drawn to the genre. Suffice it to say, there’s something tempting to the horror fan about mindless malice. Perhaps, as human beings – flawed though we are – most of us are so far from being able to commit such acts that their mere inconceivable nature fascinates and perplexes us. Why do murderous sociopaths exist? Are they born or created? What goes on in the mind of such a person? Continue reading “King Corners Religion with Children of the Corn”→
We all hope we’re going up to that spirit in the sky when we die. If you’re a cynical doubter like me, you just hope there is, indeed, a spirit in the sky – a gate with a St. Peter-esque figure, surrounded by some winged cherubs and signaling entrance into eternal, infinite bliss. But, hell, if that’s too much to ask for, I’ll take reincarnation, as long as I don’t have to come back as something lame like a flea or an earthworm. I mean, haven’t we all thought, “Damn, I hope there’s something?” I think even those with the strongest faith – and I don’t count myself among them – sometimes doubt the presence of an afterlife. In any case, it’s something we all think of, just not daily or compulsively. Continue reading “A Trip to the Bazaar: Exploring the Afterlife”→
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”→
In his essay, “Why We Crave Horror,” Stephen King posits that we’re drawn to horror movies because they make us feel normal, essentially. When we compare ourselves to the debauchery of horror movies, we don’t feel so frighteningly different from others. We are not evil spirits or sociopathic serial killers, so we’re doing okay, and we’re not very unlike those around us. King’s theory makes sense; nobody wants to be the victim of “terminal uniqueness” – the state of feeling inherently and vastly different from others. But I think the theory is simplistic; it doesn’t fully embrace the multi-dimensional intrigue of the horror genre. The theory seems to imply that horror fans see themselves as quirky outcasts who crave the feeling of being like others. This is probably partially true. I’m a little strange, and there have been times in my life where I’ve felt both strange and estranged. But I think such a theory – without any supplementary reasoning – lends itself to a sort of “hasty generalization” of horror fans. It assumes that, first, all fans of the genre feel “less than normal,” and second, that they all desire a feeling of normalcy. I think King’s theory explains part of horror’s appeal, but it leaves room for further analysis. Continue reading “The Appeal of Horror”→
Mary Lambert is no Stanley Kubrick. At least, that’s the contrast that comes to mind when pitting the film against another classic: it seems natural to compare two of Stephen King’s terrifying film adaptations, Pet Sematary and The Shining. While Stephen King reportedly didn’t like Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, the movie received broad acclaim and has been frequently canonized as a horror film classic. Just as frequently, Pet Sematary is excoriated as a poorly pieced together film with sub-par acting. To an extent, I agree; The Shining is a better film than Pet Sematary. But I don’t mean this as a shot at Pet Sematary. Few directors can compete with Stanley Kubrick. And frankly, while I like the acting in The Shining better, I think Pet Sematary is the scarier movie. Which brings me to my goal in this post: I intend to defend Pet Sematary against its detractors, and obviously the defense will contain massive spoilers. While, true, the acting in the film could be better, the film contains enough darkness and terror to satiate the most jaded horror fan.