In 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”→
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””→
There 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”→
It 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”→
As I’ve shared before, of the delightful Christmas presents Michael (at My Comic Relief) got me, one of my favorites was definitely a set of four “My First Fright” essays by fellow bloggers who were willing to contribute to my series. I unwrapped a manila folder and was thrilled to see its contents. Here, then, is one of those accounts, from Jeff at The Imperial Talker. Jeff’s first fright is a super-creepy story, and his blog is a way awesome collection of all things Star Wars, so I highly recommend checking it out!
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I love monsters. If you’ve never read my blog, that may indeed be a secret to you. If you’ve read a few articles already, I’m stating that which is laughably obvious. I’m a huge monster fan, in their varied manifestations, and I’m especially fond of figures like the mad monster, or, the entity under examination today, the monster mom. Yesterday, I wrote a brief analysis of Insidious, and before delving into an examination of what the film says about things like the existence of other worlds and the specter, I simply defended the film’s merit. Many detractors of contemporary horror films slander them for being “formulaic,” but if I’m looking really closely, I find much modern horror incredibly creative and interesting, and fueled by a powerful amalgam of writing, acting, directing, and producing talent. I would like to, by and large, stand by that defense today, but I’m going to focus on discussing one thing a bit more specifically, I think, instead of writing a defense of the second film’s merit and then analyzing a sampling of elements. So, if you’ve not guessed it, today I’ll be focusing on the ghostly villains in Chapter 2 of Insidious – on Parker Crane, and more importantly, on his Monster mom (and what said Monster Mom indicates about gender anxieties in contemporary culture). Woo-hoo! Let’s get started. Continue reading “Insidious Chapter Two: Thoughts on the Monster Mom”→
Writing this tonight, after writing a lengthy piece about Insidious (and why it’s way better than people give it credit for), felt a little different than writing most nights felt. This is the story (if you haven’t read my intro already) about a girl whose dead friend returns to earth to visit her. Michelle, the girl who gets the visit, doesn’t know why her friend’s here. This is the eighth part of the story. If you dare read the first seven parts (which feel a little choppy and uncertain now) well, here they are. I’ll preface this, as usual, by saying that I tend to do more academic writing and, to a lesser extent, creative non-fiction. I am not a fiction writer, although I’m reading about writing fiction. As such, I am only slowly learning what the hell I’m doing — and I say that assuming I ever learn! (End moment of needless self-deprecation).