Re-Watching The Haunting of Hill House: Episodes One and Two

Haunting of Hill House One
A shot of the siblings, The Haunting of Hill House

Note:  Though this post was generated from a re-viewing of episodes one and two of The Haunting of Hill House, the analysis entails a broader knowledge of the show’s trajectory.  So, if you still haven’t seen this excellent show and don’t want spoilers, it might be beneficial to avoid reading this piece until you’ve watched the show! Continue reading “Re-Watching The Haunting of Hill House: Episodes One and Two”

Re-Watching The Haunting of Hill House: Episodes One and Two

Analyzing American Horror Story Asylum: Episode One

As the song goes, I don’t know much about history, but I know – especially after reading W. Scott Poole’s Monsters in America – that the 1960’s were a turbulent era:  America was 15-20 years past WWII, but still dealing with the anxieties that accompany the use and proliferation of nuclear arms as the Cold War mounted.  Vietnam had started, and according to Poole, American soldiers were often times literally getting rewards for how many Vietnamese citizens they could kill.  Of course, this was the era of Civil Rights, and second wave feminism was also in full swing.  Birth control was invented in 1960, making sex less formidable, and the Black Arts Movement started around 1965.  Despite a struggle for rights by many groups, racism, sexism, and homophobia were pretty rampant.  In the horror world, Psycho launched the interest in “maniac” killers in 1960, and The Exorcist was released in 1973.  Serial killer lore and urban legends were on the rise.  In 1968, censorship ended in Hollywood, making the modern horror fare we watch today possible. 

Continue reading “Analyzing American Horror Story Asylum: Episode One”
Analyzing American Horror Story Asylum: Episode One

 Questions of Progress: Scary Sci-Fi Hits and the Sacrificial Human Body

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The Doctor and Madame de Pompadour

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.”

Continue reading ” Questions of Progress: Scary Sci-Fi Hits and the Sacrificial Human Body”

 Questions of Progress: Scary Sci-Fi Hits and the Sacrificial Human Body

“Baby I was Born That Way”: Depicting Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong in “Evil Genius” as Bad-Since-Birth.

Diehl Armstrong 2Well, like I said in my last post, yesterday, Michael and I started watching Netflix’s “Evil Genius” series about the bizarre pizza bomber case in Erie, PA.  And, riveted as we were to the story, Michael and I finished the series already.  In my last post, I predicted that Marjorie-Diehl Armstrong would be humanized by the documentary during the second half.  And while the documentary interviews people who saw a human side of Marjorie in the courtroom of her trial, I would argue that the documentary, itself, didn’t do much to humanize her.  In fact, I think the interview clips that were pieced together did a lot to suggest that Diehl-Armstrong was innately bad, and that maybe she’d always had at least a strong proclivity to be that way.  This really interests me, because it flies in the face of what I think I know about human beings, and the existence of evil in the world.  It’s also just a dangerous road to travel down: what can we do to someone when we label them “evil from birth?”  These are some questions this post will consider. Continue reading ““Baby I was Born That Way”: Depicting Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong in “Evil Genius” as Bad-Since-Birth.”

“Baby I was Born That Way”: Depicting Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong in “Evil Genius” as Bad-Since-Birth.

How We Construct the Monster: Thoughts on Evil Genius, Parts One and Two

Evil Genius OneWhoa.  I’m writing for my blog.  Gasp.  What a strange phenomenon this is—something I haven’t had time to do for months.  I almost forget how.  How do I start?  What do I say?  Gahhhh!!! The pressure weighs on me so.  (Searching brain for an apt metaphor to describe this feeling – coming up with nothing).  This blog-writing business is, indeed, a weird sensation, after such a long hiatus.  It is, loosely stated, my summer vacation, and so I have time to write again.  But having not written recreationally in quite some time, the task seems a little daunting.  Of course, I write papers all the time, but blog-writing is a different beast, all together.  Still, like I said, it’s my sorta-summer vacation (I still have lots to do) and Michael and I sat down earlier today to watch the first two episodes of Evil Genius.  The show got me to thinking… … …so I decided to take a break after the first two episodes to write about it.  Continue reading “How We Construct the Monster: Thoughts on Evil Genius, Parts One and Two”

How We Construct the Monster: Thoughts on Evil Genius, Parts One and Two

Early Horror Memories: A Tribute to “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”

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The ominous Are You Afraid of the Dark logo

Let me just admit this: I missed a great calling in life.  I’m fairly content with where I am now and what I do, and I feel like I’m working toward something incredibly challenging, but also valuable.  Nevertheless, every Saturday night when I was a child, I’d watch all those teenagers on Nickelodeon throwing dust into a campfire to signal the end of their meeting, and I’d grow a little envious.  Of course, I knew Are You Afraid of the Dark’s midnight society wasn’t real, but I’d imagine, dreamily, “What if there really were a midnight society?  What if a group of people with a seemingly endless supply of horror stories sat around a campfire in the woods every midnight, sharing them?  And, better yet, what if I were one of them?”  These musings were, indeed, the stuff that dreams were made of. Continue reading “Early Horror Memories: A Tribute to “Are You Afraid of the Dark?””

Early Horror Memories: A Tribute to “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”

Just Dreadfull Talks Penny Dreadful: Season One, Episode 1

Penny Dread 1There is a strange sort of titillation that comes with watching Penny Dreadful – for the first time, to be sure, but also for the second, third, or fourth time, or any time thereafter.  The show’s introduction foregrounds a juxtaposition of unusual images that mean little to the new viewer but that accrue significance as one becomes more familiar with the series.  A mosquito spasms and jilts to a stop, a crimson, blood-like liquid flows over the edges of a quaint, antique tea-cup, and the viewer is, upon seeing these images, quickly catapulted into the mid-late 19th century –into a world rife with class divisions and scientific positivism, ornate dresses and ostentatious houses – into a world with decorum, colonialism, and, best of all, naked, green-blue, thick-skinned, bloodsucking vampires. Continue reading “Just Dreadfull Talks Penny Dreadful: Season One, Episode 1”

Just Dreadfull Talks Penny Dreadful: Season One, Episode 1

A (Perhaps) Unlikely Comparison: Suddenly Last Summer (1959) Meets American Horror Story Asylum (Episodes 1 & 2)

Suddenly Last Summer
Suddenly Last Summer

When I sat down to write my very first post for Just Dread-full (an event that took place over two years ago), I wrote about the first episode of American Horror Story: Haunted Hotel.  Of course, I’d intended, at least perhaps, to watch more episodes than the first, but I found (as is often the case for me) that I was so excited to write, that I wrote my blog post after episode one had aired.  Now, over two years later, another American Horror Story blog post is born from similar circumstances.  I’m watching a variety of films and T.V. shows for my Independent Seminar, and after watching the first couple selections, the urge struck me.  I thought: I should watch more shows on the list before writing my weekly response, but, I really want to write.  And so, this post is born, and it should give me some ideas or preparation for my imminent writing assignment.  I watched the 1959 film Suddenly Last Summer today, along with the first two episodes of American Horror Story: Asylum.  Now it’s time to consider how madness is spatialized in this film.  Some related questions might consider how space is organized in terms of “madness,” so-called, and what space reflects about our conceptions of madness. Continue reading “A (Perhaps) Unlikely Comparison: Suddenly Last Summer (1959) Meets American Horror Story Asylum (Episodes 1 & 2)”

A (Perhaps) Unlikely Comparison: Suddenly Last Summer (1959) Meets American Horror Story Asylum (Episodes 1 & 2)

Oh, The Horror (Light) of the Clone Wars

Guest Writer: Michael J. Miller

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Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

As I’ve been re-binge watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars to prepare for my new elective course on the theological and mythological dimensions of the Star Wars Saga (yes, I’m being serious…life is good!) I noticed something I didn’t catch before.  There is a story arc in Season Two that revolves around the Second Battle of Geonosis and the episodes masterfully employ some classic horror tropes along the way.  While not as outright terrifying as say The Shining, they are certainly creepy in their own right.  These episodes of The Clone Wars can serve simultaneously as a child’s introduction to the horror genre as well as a loving homage an adult fan can appreciate. Continue reading “Oh, The Horror (Light) of the Clone Wars”

Oh, The Horror (Light) of the Clone Wars

WTF TWD?: AMC’s Hit Series Takes a Dark(er) Turn

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Photo Credit – The Walking Dead

If I were having a romantic conversation with The Walking Dead, I’d probably coo, “You had me at ‘bathing in zombie guts.’”  Remember that early episode of The Walking Dead in which the characters rub zombie guts all over their bodies to mask their human scent and navigate through the ravenous packs of undead?  Well, I’m not really saying that’s the moment I fell in love with the show, but it’s the moment that I realized – along with a compelling storyline – that The Walking Dead was willing to cover uncomfortable, even nauseating terrain that most horror – on the Big Screen or the TV – never considers touching.  Watching the zombie-guts, season one episode of The Walking Dead is in fact a fond memory.  Michael and I sat eagerly in front of the television, ready to binge watch the first five and a half seasons of the show to prepare for the second half of season six, which was set to air in the spring.  When the characters lathered themselves in zombie guts like they were taking a shower and basking in aromatic, sudsy soap, Michael started to gag, and gag, and gag.  “Honey, shut your eyes!”  I exclaimed.  “I am,” he yelled, “but I can still hear them!”  “Well then, leave the room,” I told him, because I really thought he was going to vomit, and if he vomited on me, well, that might just send me over the edge, and then we’d have a mess on our hands.  But he didn’t (leave the room or vomit).  And so, we enthusiastically enmeshed ourselves in six more seasons of drama, violence, and unpredictable, unchecked bloodshed.  Ahhhh, memories. Continue reading “WTF TWD?: AMC’s Hit Series Takes a Dark(er) Turn”

WTF TWD?: AMC’s Hit Series Takes a Dark(er) Turn