A Macabre Mother’s Day for a Macabre Horror Mother: Contemplating the Woman in Black

Photo Credit — The Woman in Black

It is just a screen.  I tell myself.  Nothing but some actors playing out a ghost story on the screen.  You’ll be 35 years old in a couple months—you can do this.  My self-assurance slowly lapses into condescension as I secretly lambast myself for being so afraid.  After all, do I not write on a horror blog?  Am I not focusing my dissertation on some element of the horror genre?  Some of this stuff is, indeed, second nature to me –werewolves and vampires have never scared me, and I’ve seen The Shining at least fifty times by now—but something about a well-made ghost movie, one that I haven’t already watched on repeat, really has the ability to de-stabilize my zen.  With the right directing and producing – the appropriate manufacture of jump scares – I can find myself fighting the urge (and sometimes giving into the urge) to cover my ears and eyes as I’m watching a particularly suspenseful horror film.  It’s rare that I react this way, but it does occur—which, I might mention, is another reason I love the horror genre.  For as many of these films as I’ve seen, the right one still has the power to scare the $#!+ out of me. 

Continue reading “A Macabre Mother’s Day for a Macabre Horror Mother: Contemplating the Woman in Black”
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A Macabre Mother’s Day for a Macabre Horror Mother: Contemplating the Woman in Black

Fiction’s Fearless Females – Wendy Torrance

Photo Credit — The Shining

One of my favorite scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a two or three second shock during which a series of terrifying events happen.  At this point in the film, Danny has been replaced by Tony, who’s saying “Redrum” in a voice that’s robotic at first and amplifies in intensity and urgency as Jack’s presence gets closer.  As Danny—or “Tony,” his psychic alter-ego—screams “Redrum,” Wendy reads the words backward in the mirror.  The camera pans in on the word “murder” written in childish handwriting with blood-red lipstick.  Almost as soon as we, the viewers, read “murder” in the mirror, we hear the unnerving sound of an ax chopping through wood and the camera moves to Jack, who wields the huge, sharp, silver device and uses it to slice through the wooden door of the caretaker’s quarters, where Danny and Wendy reside.  As if this nexus of sensation weren’t enough to alarm us, the viewers, and pull as even a little more deeply into The Shining’s sinister, unpredictable world, Wendy’s voice intercepts this moment with a simultaneously frenetic and bone-chilling scream—a scream that we’ll hear different variations of for the rest of the movie.  In turn, we, as the viewers—at least a little bit—start feeling Wendy’s maddening fear, and our cognition is ultimately forced to accept a mis-en-scene and narrative moment that’s eliminated anything reassuring or comforting for us to latch onto.  We are, in a sense, in the void, and we are there with Wendy. 

Continue reading “Fiction’s Fearless Females – Wendy Torrance”
Fiction’s Fearless Females – Wendy Torrance

A Horrific Spring: Recently and Soon-to-Be Released Horror Movies

Photo Credit — Brightburn

As I’ve been off working hard at life, Hollywood has been working even harder to create a deliciously rich amalgam of Spring horror movies and to thus to pull me back toward my long-neglected blog.  The list that Michael and I started composing after watching horror movie previews turned out to be too noteworthy to ignore.  Couple that with the fact that I’m feeling chatty lately (more in the mood to shout from a roof top, less in the mood to crouch in a corner) and you have a recipe for my first self-composed blog post in exactly three months.   I don’t claim this to be an exhaustive list of all-things-horror being released in the next few months, but I’m trying to be fairly thorough with the rather abundant supply of scary that’s headed toward the theaters.  The first two entries on this list are films I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, and the rest are films that haven’t been released yet, but that I’ll be sure to see when they are released.  For your ease-of-reading, I’ve arranged the films by release date, accompanied by trailers.  My discussion, of course, will be slightly more thorough for the two films I’ve already seen.  In any case, here they are: five films to consider if you need a (decidedly terrifying, unnerving, exhilarating) movie night any time soon.

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A Horrific Spring: Recently and Soon-to-Be Released Horror Movies

Escaping the Atypical Monster in Escape Room

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”
Escaping the Atypical Monster in Escape Room

In the Jaws of a Classic: An analysis of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws

Jaws 2When 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”

In the Jaws of a Classic: An analysis of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws

Monstrous Undertakings in The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My MotherAfter 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”

Monstrous Undertakings in The Eyes of My Mother

A Howl for the Howling

howling 4
Marsha Quist, The Howling

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”

A Howl for the Howling