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”

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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?”

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Invades my Spring Break

body snatchers 4So, a brief glance at my blog informs me that I haven’t written in almost two months.  Since I like to post a weekly post, that should be some indicator about how well I’m juggling my time this semester (translation: not well at all.)  However, Spring Break has (happily) descended upon me, and with Spring Break comes at least a little time to breath, and some horror-movie filled nights.  Now, I’ll credit Michael: Invasion of the Body Snatchers was actually his idea.  We were strolling the video store, when he mentioned the title.  However, this turned out to be a fortuitous idea.  More than some of the other films we’ve watched over break, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fairly rich film that yields a lot of fun, exciting stuff to write about.  In fact, I have many pages of notes, so I’m not sure where I’ll start.  We shall find out! Continue reading “Invasion of the Body Snatchers Invades my Spring Break”

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Invades my Spring Break

Evil is as Evil Does: Five of Horror’s Vilest Villains

Deadpool Freddy TwoIn a rare turn of events, I got off work early today (woo-hoo!) and had to decide how to occupy my time.  I was thinking about a post I could write without re-reading anything, or re-watching anything – so I could just start writing for the sake of writing, and get a post up today before my plans tonight.  And it occurred to me that while I’ve talked about evil a lot on this blog, there is a rich pantheon of evil horror characters I’ve never discussed.

One thing is for certain: not all villains are made alike, and not all behave similarly.  I thought about this when considering the difference, in Star Wars, between a Vader and a Palpatine.  Vader becomes pure evil, but he becomes evil because he falls; the prequels tell us that he was once the promising Jedi, Annakin Skywalker.  And ultimately, Vader is redeemed.  Palpatine, on the other hand, is more or less bad to the bone, as the cliché song goes.  So I started thinking about all the evil horror characters who are insane, who are sympathetic, who have at least strands of humanity that sometimes surmount the darkness and show themselves a bit.  And then, I thought of the horror characters that don’t have any of that – no really human tendencies, no back story, few redeeming qualities.  For the purposes of this post, these are the characters I’ll label “truly evil,” and I’ve chosen five of them.  I couldn’t put these five characters in order, because they’re all pretty damn malicious, but here’s the list, nonetheless, with my explanation: My five favorite truly evil horror characters: Continue reading “Evil is as Evil Does: Five of Horror’s Vilest Villains”

Evil is as Evil Does: Five of Horror’s Vilest Villains

Reading About Writing: Stephen King’s “On Writing”

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A recent picture of Stephen King

I can’t say I read many books about the writing process these days.  To be sure, I have no vendetta against them – especially not when they’re written by accomplished authors.  I remember, years ago, reading Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, in which she talks about taking life, and taking writing, step by step, the way her brother had to take a science project “bird by bird” when he stayed up to do it at the last minute.  And in my early 20’s, I was obsessed with Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World.  Pipher is the author of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, and along with formulating the renowned theory that our society is taking something away from its girls during the transition from childhood to adulthood, she also sought to give people advice on how to write – especially on how to write in a way that would change things, that would make a difference.  That was a fair undertaking, because Reviving Ophelia had made waves, and its theory still has resonance today, years later.  Continue reading “Reading About Writing: Stephen King’s “On Writing””

Reading About Writing: Stephen King’s “On Writing”

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

Of Monsters and Men in The Shape of Water

shape of water twoIt is a truth well-known – well known to would-be writers, to stressed humanities students, to anyone who writes or blogs – that some projects seem more formidable, more demanding than others.  For me, some are also more exciting than others.  What I am about to attempt – the film analysis, if I can call it that – that I’m about to write, sits at that complex nexus of those two statuses, at the point of conjuncture between tantalizing and daunting.  All of that is, of course, a credit to the film I’m about to write about, a film that re-configures the monstrous and re-imagines the monster movie with delicate, aesthetic aplomb and attempts to alter, completely, what “monster” means – what it means to be a monster, to be close to the monster, and to use the term “monster” at all.  Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water inspires me with a sort of excitement and terror, because there’s so much to write about in this rich, innovative film, but because I’m writing about such a unique piece, I want to proceed carefully and, to quote Aerosmith, “I don’t wanna miss a thing.”  In some strange ways, I suppose it is far easier to write about a mediocre movie than a really fantastic film, especially when some time has passed, when one is afraid – if that one is me – that she’ll forget critical parts of this film.  Which is all to say that I write this piece three days after seeing The Shape of Water and I write with the personal belief, as a student of film and “the monster,” so called, that this film’s probably doing more than I can write gracefully and cohesively about in one blog post.  Nevermind that; I take this project seriously enough that writing about The Shape of Water has been nagging at me since I saw it, infiltrating all of my free moments, and so I’ll give it a try.  And I’ll start by saying The Shape of Water was nothing like what I expected it to be, and it’s a really phenomenal film – one that says surprising, complex things about what it means to be a monster. (P.S.: Spoilers to follow) Continue reading “Of Monsters and Men in The Shape of Water”

Of Monsters and Men in The Shape of Water