An Insidious Slander: In Praise of Insidious

Insidious One
Photo Credit Insidious

Let me start by saying that the title of this piece isn’t really meant to be vituperative or condemning.  In fact, the word “insidious” might be a little strong for the point I’m trying to make (but, hey, I liked the sound of the title, and it’s kind of my blog…so…there you go).  I have made a critique of horror, before, on this blog, that the genre tends to be formulaic, that a truly original and artistic horror film, while possible (see The Witch, It Follows, etc.) is rare, and many horror films are startlingly similar.  And this is true.  But, far from continuing to condemn this tendency, in this post I’d like to celebrate the beauty of formula, when the director works well within a framework to create a really excellent film.  In doing so, I guess I’ll sort of be suggesting that much of contemporary horror gets a bad rap from – not even, but especially – its most avid, enthusiastic followers, when it need not.  A filmmaker can follow common horror tropes and eschew aiming for arthouse quality filmmaking without creating a bad film.  I believe this because I’ve invested some time in watching really bad horror, and I avoid, for the most part, posting about it, because there’s no point in simply slandering someone else’s efforts on a blog when I have little if anything nice to say.  So, today I praise Insidious.  While it’s a movie that follows some typical horror conventions, it’s a really fantastic, scary, fun movie, and one that says a lot of interesting things about the ghost or the specter. Continue reading “An Insidious Slander: In Praise of Insidious”

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An Insidious Slander: In Praise of Insidious

Annie, You’re Dead, Part Seven

I’m trying to write a novel length piece by sticking to a fairly simple 1,000 words a day.  If you’d like, you can read earlier installments of this story, which are posted here:  Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six.  As I often say before posting, I’m a developing but somewhat experienced academic writer (i.e., I have a Master’s and am working on a PhD).  I am NOT an experienced fiction writer (I have no professional experience at all), so these are my attempts to stick with a project (which I never do, when I write fiction) and piece a story together.  I would like to write something “of novel length” which I can then work at shaping into a novel-type-project.  So if you’re reading it, thanks for reading! Continue reading “Annie, You’re Dead, Part Seven”

Annie, You’re Dead, Part Seven

“Annie, You’re Dead” Part Six

Okay, so I’ll give a briefer version of the same overview as before.  This is my novel-like-project (I don’t think one could really call it a novel, at least not yet) that I plan to write over the span of two months by setting the very do-able goal of writing 1,000 words a day.  This story is about my dead friend, but it’s a pretend story, in which my dead friend comes back to life.  As Paul Simon says in “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” – “I’m on my way, don’t know where I’m going.”  This is just a fun experiment from someone who’s quite used to writing academically but hasn’t had much fiction practice, at least not for a few years, so bear with me.  Michael and I have written some fan fiction that you can find on this blog, but my writing my own plot and characters, alone, is proving daunting.  Anyway, here are the earlier parts of the story: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.  Read on, if you dare!  Continue reading ““Annie, You’re Dead” Part Six”

“Annie, You’re Dead” Part Six

“Annie, You’re Dead”: Part Five

This is a project I dropped after four days, because every time I try to write fiction, I hate what I write.  I decided, however – I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing right now, and it’s motivating me a bit – that I just have to sit down and do the work, and revise, and hope I can shape this piece into something I’m pleased with, eventually.  This is a story about a girl (who’s a lot like me) and her best friend, who’s come back to visit her from the dead, and the living girl doesn’t know why, yet.  I kind of lost the original plot idea; this story is going somewhere very different than where I first intended it to go.  If you want to read the previous posts, I’ve done some mild revisions and replaced the old versions with updated versions, although more intense revising is still in order.  I’m linking to them below, before I post my current attempt at fiction.  I’m following King’s advice in his book and only setting my writing limit at 1,000 words a day, so as not to overwhelm myself when I have other things going on.  So, here are the earlier installments of the story, and then the most recent installment of the project:  Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four.

And, now, part five:

Continue reading ““Annie, You’re Dead”: Part Five”

“Annie, You’re Dead”: Part Five

Snowed-In: A Cabin Fever Story

If it’s not obvious from the different analysis I publish on this site, I’m a huge fan of The Shining.  In fact, I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing right now, and I’m a bit torn, because I know he hates Kubrick’s version of his story, but I happen to love it.  Still no matter what version of the classic tale you favor, we can all agree that the idea of being snowed into a haunted hotel with a mentally unstable, alcoholic, misogynist, self-interested writer and schoolteacher (how Kubrick, though not King, presents Jack) is a precarious situation, especially when you have son with exceptional capabilities but a penchant for blacking out and losing his sentience.  Well, since I live in the freezing Erie, PA, a city that repeatedly makes winter headlines for its record amounts of Lake Effect snow, I’ve gotten, over the past few days, to get a sense of what it feels like to be completely snowed in (and, bonus, I’m a recovering alcoholic writer and teacher who’s also a bit self-interested, though not a misogynist).  As such, I thought I’d write a post about the experience of being “snowed in” for three days, and the cabin fever that ensues from such an experience – you know, in the service of exploring different territory for my blog.    Continue reading “Snowed-In: A Cabin Fever Story”

Snowed-In: A Cabin Fever Story

What Scares Us: Bryan L.’s First Fright

As part of a fantastic Christmas gift, Michael tracked down some contributors to my “My First Fright Series,” a series on my blog which I happen to love and which hasn’t gotten any contributors for awhile.  In this series, which I started by writing about two of my earliest childhood fears, I ask other people to write about their earliest memories of feeling afraid.  The results tend to be an interesting, surprising, eclectic group of terrors.  So, before delving into my first Christmas Gift “My First Fright,” I’d like to extend a tremendous thank-you to my boyfriend, Michael, at My Comic Relief and today’s contributor, Bryan, of Hyperspace PodBlast, for a fantastic re-telling of a Star Wars related first fright. Continue reading “What Scares Us: Bryan L.’s First Fright”

What Scares Us: Bryan L.’s First Fright

Contemplating Kylo Ren

Kylo RenOkay, so in the chaos of finishing final papers and working at my jobs, I ended up not writing 1,700 words a day for my imminent novel.  I will admit, being busy (which I was) became mixed with both some discomfort at how personal and emotional my writing was getting, how uncomfortable I was with other elements of the text that were unfolding, and how unsure I was (am) that I could ever add any sort of structure or plot twist that would make the strange storyline that’s unfolding, in my eyes, a viable novel, or novel-like production.  I am not dropping my “Post Nano-wrimo” project, but I took a very Un-Nano-wrimo-like break and will probably return to the original project in a couple of days.  The reason I write today is because I finally saw The Last Jedi and, as someone who contemplates the villainy of villains, the inherent evil-ness of characters and how we regard the bad guy, how we treat the monster, so-called, I found myself (as I was to a lesser degree in The Force Awakens) incredibly drawn to Kylo Ren.  And that’s all I’ll say in the first paragraph, before I add more details about the film.  I think it goes without saying that if you still haven’t seen The Last Jedi and you’re averse to spoilers, DON’T READ THIS.  It will probably be necessary to reveal spoilers while delving into an analysis of Kylo.  But I want to talk, I think, about reading Kylo as a monster –or not—and what that does to our conception of the monster. Continue reading “Contemplating Kylo Ren”

Contemplating Kylo Ren