An Insanely Long Series: Reading Psycho Bit by Bit

Anthony Perkins is Norman Bates.  Point blank.  There are no two ways about it.  Except, of course, when he isn’t Norman Bates.  And what an unusual experience it is to envision someone else fulfilling the role, especially since it’s been years since I’ve seen the Gus Van Sant remake.  The beauty of the comprehensive exam is that I can select the books I put on my lists (based on a unifying theme), and I was really excited to add Robert Bloch’s Psycho.  Of course, I’ve seen the original movie many-a times, but I’ve never read the text, and like any horror fan, I was immediately interested in how the novel would compare with the film.  I decided, then, to do what I did with The Shining.  In “Let’s Not Overlook Anything” I blogged about the Shining in small increments and spent a considerable amount of blog space discussing one or two scenes.  I decided I would do the same with the text Psycho – blog a little bit about each section as I read it.  So this is my “insanely long series,” my observations about Bloch’s Psycho.  And my first observation is that Bloch’s Norman Bates is fascinating.

Continue reading “An Insanely Long Series: Reading Psycho Bit by Bit”
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An Insanely Long Series: Reading Psycho Bit by Bit

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

Who Is the Witch (Part Two): I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know

witch poem 4It’s one of those nights where falling asleep to the usual evening playlist and temporarily entering oblivion sounds delightful, but since that particular pleasure does not appear, for me, to be in the cards right now, I thought I’d extend this mini-series on witchiness and continue to ask the question I raised a couple posts ago: What is “The Witch?”  You see, I’ve done some film-watching and some reading lately, and I have an eclectic barrage of notes scribbled on the cardboard backings of notebooks and in the inside covers of novels, and if I really wanted to, I could probably sit here and practice my use of complex theoretical terms to hash out some ideas that might be ridiculous but might also be interesting.  As I was watching Black Sunday after all – which I’ll probably write about at some point – I wrote down a lot of fancy words and ideas that I thought would be fun to share in a blog post.  I like, sometimes, to be unapologetically verbose and excessive when I write, even though, stylistically, doing so defies contemporary conventions.  But I think one always runs the risk of saying much while saying nothing at all – saying nothing really at least – and I wanted to address that possibility tonight.  Because as a woman, as a feminist, I have a special sort of relationship to “the witch,” as she’s been conceived, and made manifest through brutal, torturous punishment, across space and time.  And despite having scribbled a lot of thoughts that felt really insightful to me when I was writing them down, it occurred to me that perhaps, to a considerable degree, in contemplating the witch, I still don’t really understand her.  Why does this figure exist?  How do we reconcile contemporary horror movies with the needless decimation of subversive women and young girls in witch trials hundreds of years ago?  Why am I so drawn to this character?  And, most importantly, regardless of what I think I know, what don’t I know?  These questions are the ones that interest me tonight. Continue reading “Who Is the Witch (Part Two): I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know”

Who Is the Witch (Part Two): I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know

What is the Witch? — Part One: The Blair Witch Project

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Photo Credit – The Blair Witch Project

For an Independent Seminar on horror and monstrosity, I sat down (again) to watch the very classic and very canonical The Blair Witch Project, a film, not surprisingly, about witches, and one situated at the inception of the found footage trend in filmmaking (a trend I address in other posts).  Of course, I’ve written about this film before, some time ago, but I really only scratched the surface of its depth and what it has to offer us, as both a piece of criticism and a manifestation – a cultural artifact signaling the historical location of the late 90’s and what questions that location raised.  Needing, I thought, to narrow my focus for this film (and, perhaps, for all the texts I’ll encounter this week that deal with witches) I started with what I thought was a very important question: What is “the witch,” so called?  What surrounds her, perhaps, and what does she tell us?  I think putting a variety of texts about witches in conversation with one another could yield rather interesting answers to this question, but I’ll start with The Blair Witch Project, which offers us a turn-of-the-century glimpse – based off, in the film, age-old lore – of what “witchiness” is, how the witch reveals herself, and what she’s (frighteningly) capable of.  Continue reading “What is the Witch? — Part One: The Blair Witch Project”

What is the Witch? — Part One: The Blair Witch Project

The Ring: Technophobia or Technophilia?

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Photo Credit – The Ring

I don’t remember the first time I saw The Ring, but it was probably in college over ten years ago.  Then there was a sequel that didn’t get much attention (I’ve never seen it).  Since a more advertised, more acclaimed sequel, Rings, came out yesterday (I intend to see it tonight and write about it thereafter) I thought it would be appropriate to dive into the American original, which is based off the utterly eerie Japanese Ringu.  Perhaps in part because its origin is Japanese – and thus beyond our cultural sphere – The Ring is a highly original horror and suspense classic, mixing an investigative mystery plot-line with sheer horror and eschewing a lot of horror film conventions for its own original storytelling.  But I intend to do more than sing The Ring’s praises in this piece – although I will, assuredly, do that.  I plan on looking at some binaries that construct the storytelling behind The Ring and examine what the film implies about our culture’s relationship to technology.  Continue reading “The Ring: Technophobia or Technophilia?”

The Ring: Technophobia or Technophilia?

The Disappointments Room Won’t Disappoint

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Photo Credit – The Disappointments Room

Any semi-regular reader of my blog will be unsurprised by my title, which is, as usual, adequately cheesy.  (I just love an obnoxious title).  But there is at least a scintilla of truth to the title, if you’re at all inclined to relish in life’s darker corners.  Yes, The Disappointments Room is sufficiently scary, and not exactly what I expected it to be.  But it is dark.  If you’re looking for a classic haunted house story, you’ll probably like the film.  But if you’re looking to be disturbed and depressed (because that’s everyone’s goal, right?) then you should definitely see it.  I was in a delightful mood when I entered the theater.  After the film was over, I wasn’t quite certain how I felt; I was lingering in an uncomfortable emotional limbo for a bit.  To be sure, life seemed a little darker and more contingent.  But, perhaps that’s the marker of an effective film; it changed my mood.  And the darkness wore off, leaving me with the memory of a genuinely jarring cinematic experience (as in, I was rigid with discomfort throughout most of the movie).  The Disappointments Room, then, is well worth the time investment.  It borrows from genre elements without falling into the “tiresomely cliché” trap.

Continue reading “The Disappointments Room Won’t Disappoint”

The Disappointments Room Won’t Disappoint

Mama Mia!

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Photo Credit – Mama

When I was in high school, a super sweet Aerosmith song entitled “Jaded” was released.  Yeah, you’ve probably heard it.  I used to watch the music video for it in the morning before school, back in the nostalgic, bygone days when MTV used to play (gasp) music videos.  (Since I don’t have cable right now, I have no idea what they play, but last I checked, music videos had taken a back seat to painfully terrible reality TV).  The Aerosmith song “Jaded,” comes to mind now, though, because I just saw a movie that I should have found genuinely frightening (on the whole, I’d say it was a good movie) but part of what I saw was just another less-than colorful, archetypal addition to the horror pantheon.  Today, Michael and I sat down to watch Mama, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and while the movie was well-made and fun to watch, I was much less afraid than I thought I would be, and the film reminded me of other horror classics.  Perhaps I am jaded, because that film should have scared me, but it didn’t. Continue reading “Mama Mia!”

Mama Mia!