I was driving from Indiana PA to Erie one night not a few weeks ago, my mind enmeshed in rapid succession of thoughts. It was dark outside, and I noticed little except for fleeting, flickering glimpses of surreal roadside images, ambiguous shadow outlines in the night, as my car coasted across 422, and then across 1-79, headed north. My CD player has been broken for months, so I was flipping through the channels, trying to settle on a song even vaguely satisfying, a melody that didn’t wink out into a barrage of static thirty seconds after I found it. Reliable radio stations are difficult to come by in some parts of Western Pennsylvania.
Occasionally, I stumble on an idea that really excites me. This would be a fortuitous occurrence to combat mid-day lethargy, but for better or worse, I’ve become perhaps irrevocably nocturnal. As such, it’s two in the morning, and re-reading sections of Paradise Lost for the upcoming candidacy exam has yielded a level of excitement about pondering the nature of evil – indeed, writing an essay completely committed to the topic of evil, which seems appropriate for a horror blog. And the excitement is difficult to contain. Really, I’m not exaggerating. I even thought maybe dissecting literary depictions of evil would be good fodder for a doctoral dissertation, which brought further almost uncomfortable fervor. So, I started pacing around frantically, then I decided to settle on the couch for a ten-minute meditation, to calm down and focus. I have learned, especially under the right circumstances, that I am a person who feels very strong emotions. In any case, the idea tonight is to harness those emotions into a writing product, one of my atypical miscellaneous essays for this blog, a piece of writing not tied to one particular work of art. Who knows – such meanderings may even help me shape the dissertation I need to start writing in about two years. As usual, then, I’m using whoever might be misguided enough to read my thoughts for my own academic purposes. To that end, thanks for your time. Continue reading “3 A.M. Thoughts on Evil”
with Michael Miller
Well, Michael and I sat down to write our second genre mash-up. Instead of placing the original Ghostbusters in The Shining’s Overlook Hotel, we chose to work with the hugely popular, always hilarious Deadpool and placed him in the dreams of Nancy Thompson, main character of Nightmare on Elm Street, to help banish the infamous Freddy Krueger. We have yet to determine what our third series installment will be, but since this was, again, very fun to write, we’re very much planning on creating more! If you’d like to check out our first genre mash-up on The Shining and The Ghosbusters, feel free!
I admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve talked about Poe on this blog. And while I’ve discussed two of his short stories (The Masque of the Red Death and The Black Cat), I’ve never dealt with his poetry on Just Dread-full before. In fact, I haven’t read his poetry (or, you know, his Poe-etry), in quite some time, and I certainly haven’t read it all. I was consulting my mental rolodex of Poe poems that I have read, with the aid of a little online research, but I wasn’t finding “the right one” to write about today. Then it occurred to me – something I always try to remember with this blog – that horror is an expansive category that includes many works of art that don’t mirror our contemporary definition of horror (for example, I’ve been wanting to explore some of the earliest Gothic novels for a while, but haven’t done so yet.) As such, I decided to write about Poe’s poem, “Dream Within a Dream.” This poem is fascinating because, if one really grapples with the implications and philosophical underpinnings of what Poe suggests, the prospect is, indeed, terrifying. On the other hand, the poem has a rich, sonorous voice and is mesmerizingly beautiful. To me, such a combination is both a phenomenal achievement and a hallmark of much of Poe’s poetry: The ability to leave us remarkably unsettled (and often sad) while producing a poem that is unusually aesthetically appealing. Continue reading “The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: The Understated Horror of “Dream Within A Dream””
It’s finally happened: I’m writing about Star Wars on my horror blog. Given the alarmingly high degree of my boyfriend’s nerdiness, this installment was inevitable for some time, but the possibility has finally come to fruition two and a half years after I first met Michael. Now, don’t get me wrong: Michael has given Star Wars a horror twist on this blog before with his examination of horror tropes in the popular animated series The Clone Wars. But I guess because I prefer to be nestled safely in the typical renditions of my favorite genre, I’ve never branched out the same way. And then, it happened, one fateful night (which was really last night). Michael mentioned that a comic series bent toward the horror genre had been released. The Screaming Citadel series is a five-issue exploration of what happens when you merge Star Wars with the disturbing and the macabre. Michael generously purchased the first two series installments for me earlier this evening, which I have proceeded to read with considerable enjoyment. Continue reading ““The Screaming Citadel” Screams Star Wars at its Scariest — Issues 1 & 2″
I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to analyze poetry on this blog, especially since one famous Edgar Allen Poe made macabre poetry so popular. (By the way, stay tuned for an examination of some Poe poems to come this summer). Still, I held fast to films, with the occasional graphic novel, short story review, or miscellaneous essay. Then, one fateful Wednesday evening during my second semester of PhD course work, my Victorian literature professor assigned a thick chunk of lesser-known female poetry from the Victorian Era to read. There is, to be sure, an entire world of often unacknowledged brilliance in my Victorian Women Poets anthology, but one work, about the depths of evil shrouded in complete innocence, struck me as particularly apropos for this blog. We have Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, great grand-niece of renowned Romantic-era poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to thank for this subtle work of unnerving literature, an 1896 poem entitled “The Witch.” Continue reading “The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s “The Witch””
Over a year ago, when I started Just Dread-full, I wrote an extensive piece about a film I’d seen recently that had more or less captivated me. The film – a low budget, atypical, but indisputably creepy horror flick – was called It Follows, and Michael and I saw the film four times in theaters when it came out. There were myriad elements of this film that made it exceptional – its deeper characters, its unique treatment of setting and theme, its distinctly unsettling, creepy ambiance – but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was, about this film that made me want to see it over, and over, and over again. Unsurprisingly, I purchased the film, and one December eve not so long ago, when I needed to take a break from course work, I watched it again. And it occurred to me, after re-processing one of my all-time favorites, that It Follows, more than your typical horror movie, deals, both directly and symbolically, with our near-universal and immanent fear of death’s imminence, its inescapable closeness and the insidious fact that it could consume us, any time, without warning. Don’t get me wrong: most horror movies use the possibility of death as a vehicle for frightening us. But It Follows does so in ways that are careful, intentional, and cut to the core of our fear that just as the devil chases down rock n’ roll stars (at least, according to some of their lyrics) death is always following us, snapping at our Achilles tendon in hopes that we’ll bleed out completely and wink out from life on this earth. And wouldn’t that be terrible. But that is the beauty and terror of a film that is modest, subtle and independent, but remarkably genre bending and genre defining. Continue reading “It Follows, or Death Embodied”