Partying with Ma on a Sunny Summer Saturday

Photo Credit – Ma

Michael and I were just sitting around on a slow Saturday afternoon, without much on the agenda.  While horror movies tend to be night-time fare for us, the feeling of an afternoon movie on a warm June day just sort of says summer vacation (present summer vacation for me, imminent summer vacation for Michael), so we decided on a 12:10 showing of Ma.  My excitement about the film was considerable, but my trepidation about the film regarded the possibility that all of the really shocking, provocative elements of the film may have already been showcased in the trailer – I thought.  I was prepared – similar to the situation I experienced with Brightburn –to see a film that didn’t offer much beyond the preview attractions.  And while it is true – we get a glimpse of a lot of gore before the movie – there’s so much more to the film than the previews indicate, and Octavia Spencer captures a complex, layered, troubled character with unquestionable perfection.  It’s hard to call Ma the best horror movie of the spring, with gems like Us and Pet Sematary gracing the screen, but it can certainly compete.  As a heads-up, I have all but given up on writing spoiler-free reviews, so my apologies, but spoilers will abound in this piece.

Continue reading “Partying with Ma on a Sunny Summer Saturday”
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Partying with Ma on a Sunny Summer Saturday

A Macabre Mother’s Day for a Macabre Horror Mother: Contemplating the Woman in Black

Photo Credit — The Woman in Black

It is just a screen.  I tell myself.  Nothing but some actors playing out a ghost story on the screen.  You’ll be 35 years old in a couple months—you can do this.  My self-assurance slowly lapses into condescension as I secretly lambast myself for being so afraid.  After all, do I not write on a horror blog?  Am I not focusing my dissertation on some element of the horror genre?  Some of this stuff is, indeed, second nature to me –werewolves and vampires have never scared me, and I’ve seen The Shining at least fifty times by now—but something about a well-made ghost movie, one that I haven’t already watched on repeat, really has the ability to de-stabilize my zen.  With the right directing and producing – the appropriate manufacture of jump scares – I can find myself fighting the urge (and sometimes giving into the urge) to cover my ears and eyes as I’m watching a particularly suspenseful horror film.  It’s rare that I react this way, but it does occur—which, I might mention, is another reason I love the horror genre.  For as many of these films as I’ve seen, the right one still has the power to scare the $#!+ out of me. 

Continue reading “A Macabre Mother’s Day for a Macabre Horror Mother: Contemplating the Woman in Black”
A Macabre Mother’s Day for a Macabre Horror Mother: Contemplating the Woman in Black

Fiction’s Fearless Females – Wendy Torrance

Photo Credit — The Shining

One of my favorite scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a two or three second shock during which a series of terrifying events happen.  At this point in the film, Danny has been replaced by Tony, who’s saying “Redrum” in a voice that’s robotic at first and amplifies in intensity and urgency as Jack’s presence gets closer.  As Danny—or “Tony,” his psychic alter-ego—screams “Redrum,” Wendy reads the words backward in the mirror.  The camera pans in on the word “murder” written in childish handwriting with blood-red lipstick.  Almost as soon as we, the viewers, read “murder” in the mirror, we hear the unnerving sound of an ax chopping through wood and the camera moves to Jack, who wields the huge, sharp, silver device and uses it to slice through the wooden door of the caretaker’s quarters, where Danny and Wendy reside.  As if this nexus of sensation weren’t enough to alarm us, the viewers, and pull as even a little more deeply into The Shining’s sinister, unpredictable world, Wendy’s voice intercepts this moment with a simultaneously frenetic and bone-chilling scream—a scream that we’ll hear different variations of for the rest of the movie.  In turn, we, as the viewers—at least a little bit—start feeling Wendy’s maddening fear, and our cognition is ultimately forced to accept a mis-en-scene and narrative moment that’s eliminated anything reassuring or comforting for us to latch onto.  We are, in a sense, in the void, and we are there with Wendy. 

Continue reading “Fiction’s Fearless Females – Wendy Torrance”
Fiction’s Fearless Females – Wendy Torrance

A Horrific Spring: Recently and Soon-to-Be Released Horror Movies

Photo Credit — Brightburn

As I’ve been off working hard at life, Hollywood has been working even harder to create a deliciously rich amalgam of Spring horror movies and to thus to pull me back toward my long-neglected blog.  The list that Michael and I started composing after watching horror movie previews turned out to be too noteworthy to ignore.  Couple that with the fact that I’m feeling chatty lately (more in the mood to shout from a roof top, less in the mood to crouch in a corner) and you have a recipe for my first self-composed blog post in exactly three months.   I don’t claim this to be an exhaustive list of all-things-horror being released in the next few months, but I’m trying to be fairly thorough with the rather abundant supply of scary that’s headed toward the theaters.  The first two entries on this list are films I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, and the rest are films that haven’t been released yet, but that I’ll be sure to see when they are released.  For your ease-of-reading, I’ve arranged the films by release date, accompanied by trailers.  My discussion, of course, will be slightly more thorough for the two films I’ve already seen.  In any case, here they are: five films to consider if you need a (decidedly terrifying, unnerving, exhilarating) movie night any time soon.

Continue reading “A Horrific Spring: Recently and Soon-to-Be Released Horror Movies”
A Horrific Spring: Recently and Soon-to-Be Released Horror Movies

Thoughts on Scribbling from the Apple Loft: Madness and Work in Various Texts

Of Shakespeare’s sister that Virginia Woolf imagines in A Room of One’s Own, Woolf speculates: “Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly but was careful to hide them or set fire to them.”  For some scholars of women’s literature, it’s fairly common to assume that there was a vendetta against the combination of women and work in Anglo-American history, and that stifling the ability to work– often forbidding, particularly, artistic expression – resulted in concomitant madness for oppressed women.  It’s a common trope, although there were some significant historical exceptions to the rule.  I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’ve heard that Jane Austen had to hide her manuscript whenever a guest entered her room.  And one must wonder, as VW did, what happened to the likely expansive throng of brilliant, would-be  productive women who weren’t given a voice prior to, say, the Romantic or Victorian eras – or later.  As an unrelated heads up, there will be spoilers throughout this piece!  

Continue reading “Thoughts on Scribbling from the Apple Loft: Madness and Work in Various Texts”
Thoughts on Scribbling from the Apple Loft: Madness and Work in Various Texts

Monstrous Undertakings in The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My MotherAfter watching Hereditary – which I never blogged about, in part because of a perceived inability to say anything unique about it – I thought I’d seen it all.  Hereditary is one of the most disturbing horror films I’ve seen in some time, a sickening romp through the cackling, bloody underworld of death, grief, and witchcraft combined.  Nonetheless, Michael and I watched The Eyes of My Mother yesterday, a movie I decided to put on my list for comprehensive exams when I heard about it at a pop culture conference.  Let me tell you: it was disturbing.  Nonetheless, it was a fascinating film that said a lot about certain types of madness and (perhaps) about how such madness evolves.  I’ll be including, in my piece, Michael’s take on the main character, along with my reaction to his opinion and some observations about the film in general.  As a warning, this film is not for the faint of heart, and it may sit with you for awhile after you watch it.  That said, let’s talk about, perhaps, the general experience of watching The Eyes of My Mother along with some of the questions it raises. Continue reading “Monstrous Undertakings in The Eyes of My Mother”

Monstrous Undertakings in The Eyes of My Mother

Insidious Chapter Two: Thoughts on the Monster Mom

Insidious 2 trailer (Screengrab)
Insidious 2 trailer (Screengrab)

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”

Insidious Chapter Two: Thoughts on the Monster Mom