Early Encounters, Part I: The Horror of Bloody Mary

Mirror Ghost OneA year ago on my blog, I began a series called “My First Fright” which sought to examine the things that scare us most when we’re children, to re-situate us in those moments when we first encountered feelings of fear.  Upon consideration, it has occurred to me that a first fright, or a first confrontation with the feeling of fear, can be, and often is, much different than a first encounter with something – a story, experience, movie, and so forth – that may typically be considered part of the horror genre.  While I may have experienced fear listening to the dreaded chipmunk song or watching Large Marge’s face contort during Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, those horrifying moments were far different than early moments I faced that constituted my first encounter with horror.  And while I can’t decide, with certainty, what qualifies a work or a story for membership in the horror pantheon, and what my definitive first-horror moment is, I very much recall hearing the story of the formidable Bloody Mary, the violent mirror witch-ghost, for the first time.  To that end, I’ll delight in re-living my first encounters with the Bloody Mary myth, and how she partially initiated me into the genre during my early years of childhood. Continue reading “Early Encounters, Part I: The Horror of Bloody Mary”

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Early Encounters, Part I: The Horror of Bloody Mary

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 Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s “The Witch”

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Preparation for the Witch’s Sabbath: D. Vivant-Denon

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””

The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s “The Witch”

A Walk in the Woods: Disorientation and Pain in Blair Witch

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Photo Credit – Blair Witch

We’ve all, I’m sure, heard the cliché “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  For example, for the fifth day in a row I hit the snooze button and expect to sleep an extra five minutes, when I know every time I use the snooze function on my cell phone I sleep for at least an extra half hour.  (As in, I click the button repeatedly every five minutes – for about a half hour – after the first snooze alarm goes off).  I naively think I can literally “snooze,” go back to sleep for five minutes, but to my frustrated chagrin, this is not the case.  Snoozing once inevitably leads to snoozing repeatedly, but every morning (or many mornings) I fool myself into thinking otherwise. Continue reading “A Walk in the Woods: Disorientation and Pain in Blair Witch”

A Walk in the Woods: Disorientation and Pain in Blair Witch

Now and Then: My Changing Perspective of The Blair Witch Project

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Photo Credit – The Blair Witch Project

I had to double-check the release date of the original Blair Witch Project.  Sometimes, my teen years seem like a jumbled haze.  I knew, only, that I was a teenager when I saw the film, and after googling its opening date, it appears I was a day shy of my fifteenth birthday when the movie came out.  As Michael pointed out more recently when we watched the film, The Blair Witch Project sits at the inception of the “found footage” phenomenon, a film-making trend which would be furthered by other films, like Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity movies.  The decision to create a film that appeared to be shot by the characters as the events were occurring was indeed novel, and was probably the reason so much hype surrounded the Blair Witch Project.  Before re-watching the film, I recalled little of the film’s actual details, but what I did remember – still do remember, starkly – is the hype surrounding the film.  It may well have been the most hyped horror movie of my time, which means it was no small decision to hide the fact that the recently released The Woods was really a sequel to the film and would ultimately be titled Blair Witch. Continue reading “Now and Then: My Changing Perspective of The Blair Witch Project”

Now and Then: My Changing Perspective of The Blair Witch Project

The Witch is Back

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Photo Credit – A24 Films “The Witch”

I waited in anticipation for The Witch. I don’t know what to liken the anticipation to, except to say that it must be a milder version of the excitement I felt for major holidays when I was younger. Maybe I was almost as excited to see The Witch as I was for the second half of season six of The Walking Dead to arrive.   I mean, come on, a horror film that won “Best Director” at the Sundance film festival? How rare that someone manages to combine truly artistic, original filmmaking with the horror genre. And then there’s that trailer that appeared in the theaters and online, in which a girl is playing peek-a-boo with a baby, only to open her eyes and find that the baby has disappeared. Good film-making. Witches. Disappearing babies. What else could a self-avowed horror addict request? Continue reading “The Witch is Back”

The Witch is Back