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″
I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to analyze poetry on this blog, especially since one famous Edgar Allen Poe made macabre poetry so popular. (By the way, stay tuned for an examination of some Poe poems to come this summer). Still, I held fast to films, with the occasional graphic novel, short story review, or miscellaneous essay. Then, one fateful Wednesday evening during my second semester of PhD course work, my Victorian literature professor assigned a thick chunk of lesser-known female poetry from the Victorian Era to read. There is, to be sure, an entire world of often unacknowledged brilliance in my Victorian Women Poets anthology, but one work, about the depths of evil shrouded in complete innocence, struck me as particularly apropos for this blog. We have Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, great grand-niece of renowned Romantic-era poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to thank for this subtle work of unnerving literature, an 1896 poem entitled “The Witch.” Continue reading “The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s “The Witch””
With Michael Miller
So yesterday, Michael and I spent a fair bit of time flexing our creative muscles and writing a The Shining Meets the Ghostbusters, a mashup that mixes the relatively dark Kubrick version of King’s canonical horror story with the beyond famous, original Ghostbusters franchise (although the new female Ghostbusters gang will likely be featured in later series installments). In other words, the blog has a new feature: genre mash-up fan fiction. Our version of The Shining, with the intervention of The Ghostbusters, has a bit more levity than the original. And Michael’s masterful knowledge of The Ghostbusters, creativity, and quick wit helped animate and bring them to life. We hope you enjoy. We had a lot of fun with this, so there’s likely more fan fiction to come….
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”
With the mass-produced barrage of horror movies available to us – sometimes formulaic, sometimes cheaply made – it can be tempting for the jaded horror-goer to presume that nothing is truly scary anymore. I offer no new argument, after all, when I contend that in our increasingly sensationalized visual culture, we become (or at least risk becoming) desensitized to so many horrible things, immune to so much tragedy. It takes far more, at least from a visual standpoint, to scare us than it did sixty years ago (a fact that will be evident to anyone who compares The Haunting to an Eli Roth film). This may not be the case universally, but it’s a general rule. And still, scary movies are manufactured, and the passionate horror fan does encounter, every now and then, a film that is particularly, unexpectedly scary. Such was my experience with the film Sinister, released about two weeks before Halloween in 2012 (although I saw it much later ). Granted, Sinister is not as artistically scintillating as my two favorite horror movies of reference – The Shining and It Follows – but it’s still a well-made, incredibly unsettling film. When I told Michael I wanted to write a piece about it, he reassured me that he wouldn’t be upset if I re-watched it without him; one time was enough for him. So I sat down tonight, in my little Indiana apartment, with a focusing question in mind: What makes this film so scary? While I may discuss other things in the post below, I am particularly interested in exploring possible answers to this question. Continue reading “What Makes Sinister So Scary?”
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 The Blair 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”