Tag Archives: Horror

Rock and Shock 2013: The Day Before

This will be the second year in a row that I’m going to Rock and Shock (which is happening right now!). Last year was great; I met some people, I bought some things, and I saw a lot that celebrated horror movies, books and scary things in general. It was nice to be surrounded by a crowd of people who shared the same morbid interests that I do and especially nice to be around people who exceeded my enjoyment of the genre a little bit too much, giving me a chance to feel normal.

This year, I have only a few plans. I’m going to lurk around the celebrity room briefly. I’m going to try and find another locally made horror movie that’s been banned in Germany. And I’m definitely going to order an overpriced beer and drink it before noon.

It’s more about the wandering around and taking in the sights than about doing anything. I’ll do my best to update the twitter and the blog as the day progresses.

Until tomorrow…

-D-

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Movie Review: Evil Dead (Remake)

Last night, I went to see the Evil Dead remake and I was less than impressed.

For those that don’t know, the original The Evil Dead is a horror cult classic that exists in its own realm of awesome. It is a frantic, kinetic, slapstick gore-tastic explosion of excess. The sequels that followed are less innovative, but far more fun and added more to the sub-layers of pop culture than the first. The first was a horror movie that was as much informed by the Three Stooges as it was by George Romero and drive-in horror flicks.

The remake was, in a lot of ways, going to fail before it even got out of the gate. You cannot, absolutely cannot, remake the magic that makes a cult movie a cult movie. And nor do you want to. A cult movie is popular with only a small portion of the movie-going audience, hence the name. The studio is not going to go out of their way to try and please a very cranky, persnickety cluster of fans.

So the remake was far less frantic, more reserved and more by-the-numbers, more tailored for the average Friday night ticket holder. It followed closely along in the footsteps of the original movie and every “cabin in the woods” formula movie that followed.

But the more I thought about it, the more I began to consider the idea that the remake was, in a sly way, tapping into the same ideas that the first The Evil Dead did. It was violent. Ridiculously so. Almost Black Knight violent. It even made me wince once or thrice. Much in the way the first The Evil Dead reveled in the gooshy red stuff, the remake over-indulged as well, but catered to an audience that has been emotionally stunted on a steady diet of Saw and Hostel movies.

And as it progressed, Evil Dead became steadily more over the top and more absurd. At the time, when I saw duct tape routinely used as the cure-all for injuries, including, but not limited to, a severed arm, I thought that there was a very desperate or very ignorant screenwriter at play. But now, in retrospect, I think there were just screenwriters at play, trying to tread a very careful line between the goofy, over-the-top slapstick violence of every horror movie from the 80’s and the grim, ultra real, ultra gritty torture horror that has come to, disturbingly, dominate the market in the last ten years.

I hesitate to call Evil Dead a good movie, but I am willing to give it more credit than I initially gave it. If you’re a fan of the original or of 80’s horror in general (Hello Re-Aimator fans), give it a spin, keep an open mind and see it as an amalgam of the now and then.

I give it one, over-amorous tree.

-D-

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Just Down Downs Road

In spite of the fact that I do not believe in monsters, the supernatural or Lovecraftian horrors, I will still go out of my way to try and find them. I’ve gone to Boston Commons trying to find the numerous ghosts that are supposed to have been sighted there. I’ve journeyed down abandoned stairwells hidden away in the walls of the bookstore I worked at.

And now I’ve walked down the legendary Downs Road. There are a few blog entries already written on the subject and the road has worked itself into a few book on haunted New England locations, but that’s not how I first found out about it. A friend of mine claims to have had his own spooky experiences on the road involving a dream catcher and he has been wanting to go back.

Now, we’ve been wanting to go down the Downs Road for a year and a half now, but haven’t had the time or the resources until recently. If you don’t live in New England, you may not be aware that less than two weeks ago, three feet of snow were dumped on the whole region. Snow and rain were also forecast for the whole day. But that didn’t matter, because we were goin to hunt monsters and ghosts and redneck hillbillies and whatever else might be lurking on the road.

Because the stories aren’t really clear what lives on that road. There are stories of ghosts and stories of malformed hillbillies and stories of a four foot tall bigfoot. There’s no one thing that ties together the stories except for creeped out hikers and scary experiences.

My friend, a third friend and myself all went out at around 5 yesterday in the hopes that on our way back it would be truly dark and we could get proper scared. To access the road, you need to drive to Hampden, Connecticut, to the end of a residential street that ends in a cul de sac. At the end of Downs Road, there’s a second cul de sac that’s located one town over, in Bethany.

We marched through snowy woods in snow over a foot thick while we got more and more soaked in the rain. We came across strange tracks in the snow that seemed to belong to some large, three toed creature. But I’ve spent enough time in the country to know that I know nothing about animal tracks. What look like monster tracks to a city slicker like me are most likely tracks made by squirrels that have altered as the snow melts, making the tracks appear larger than they were at the outset.

We heard the occasional owl and saw foot prints from other people hiking through, some of which stopped abruptly in the middle of nowhere, but I’m going to chalk that up to the tracks merely fading as time went on.

We explored the old ruins and the stone walls that cross the countryside. It’s eerie, there’s no doubt about that. It’s so quiet and the little bits and pieces of someone’s failed attempts to colonize the woods are not exactly uplifting. That’s what unnerved me the most; it was a reminder of a time when someone could walk into those woods and never come out again, when the wilderness spanned much further than two cul de sacs, and a body could get lost forever in the wilds.

We walked the length of Downs Road and back again and we saw and heard nothing of note. We were soaking wet, exhausted and ready to make the two hour drive back to Boston. On the way back, we reflected on the sobering realization of an era long lost and the reminders of our own fragility in the face of the unforgiving wilderness.

Or we belted out Weird Al songs while eating junk food.

D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Happy Halloween

I’m drinking a beer called Vampire Slayer (brewed by Clown Shoes). This isn’t a review, I’m just letting you know that I have a dark, flavor rich beer and you should get some yourself.

No, really I’m just here to say, Happy Halloween. We’ve spent a lot of time together, you and I and it’s been a hell of a ride. There were conventions and philosophizing on fear and beer and apple picking and more philosophizing. And, now, it’s drawing to a close. Soon, people will be slapping pictures of hand-turkeys on the walls and throwing cornucopias everywhere and eating way too much food. The time of reveling in horror and monsters and goblins and scary things is drawing to a close.

I’m a little sad, but mostly relieved. I can talk about other things now. I can review beers that don’t taste like pumpkins. I can watch movies that aren’t just boobs, blood and bad guys. I can pontificate on politics or work or Sprint’s terrible service.

But, just one more time, I’m going to watch a horror movie, drink a Halloween themed-beer  and relax for the last night before….

 

 

NANOWRIMO.

 

See you tomorrow.

And have a Happy Halloween!

-D-

 

PS If you need some spooky fun, check this out. It’s an audio dramatization of my story, The Song and Dance Man. Thumbs up.

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: The Little Things

During the Halloween season, people reach for the big scares: movies, haunted theme park rides, horror conventions, creepy costumes. And, I think, they neglect the little details that permeate our lives that are truly unsettling.

Take the following spam comment I got on one of my older entries:

“How should I tell him the bad news?He is respectful to his elders.What happened to you? Please fetch a chair from another room.Don’t forget to keep in touch.what a lovely little girl she is!what a lovely little girl she is!Follow me.Can I help you? Bob has always had a crush on Lucy.”

Spam is almost always nonsensical, but follows a thread of sanity. “I like entry. You should write more peanut allergy entry.” Mostly coherent, but on an entry in which I don’t mention allergies at all. That’s fine.

This one…this one makes no sense in the context of a comment. It just doesn’t fit. And I can’t help but try and put the comment into a context that makes sense.

She’s an older woman, in a room of white, floor, ceiling walls. She’s sitting on a cot, rocking back and forth, curled tightly in on herself. She doesn’t  stop talking, just a constant low murmur directed at no-one, her eyes drifting around the room in aimless directions. She’s worried, agitated.

“How should I tell him the bad news? He is respectful to his elders.” Rocking in time with the words, back and forth. She starts to cry. Crying with no sounds. “What happened to you?”, her hands reach up and clutch her thinning, grey hair. “Please…fetch a chair from the other room.” Tears run down in her face leaving bright tracks under fluorescent lights. “Don’t forget to keep in touch.”

Her tone changes. Fear, trickling into her tone, her breathing increases, becoming erratic.

“What a lovely little girl she is! What a lovely little girl she is!” Rocking back and forth, faster. The words a ward, a charm, spoken emphatically.

She stops rocking, her breathing back to normal in an instant, and turns to you.

“Can I help you?”

She smiles, revealing teeth too even and white to be anything but false.

“Bob always had a crush on Lucy”.

You hear footsteps behind you.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

When I was younger, I used to have nightmares on occasion; terrible things that woke me up in the middle of the night, sweating and shaken. I once woke up to pitch black and I could have sworn that I heard someone whisper, “I’m going to kill you”.

There were a couple of uneasy moments while I tried to convince myself that the voice wasn’t real.

I’ve woken up once or twice feeling like I’ve been crying.

But here’s the paradox, the tricky little bit that I throw in to make my life more interesting: I like these dreams. I wish I had more of them. I revel in them.

I hate them while I’m having them. Even while sleeping, I can feel my heart racing and the fear and the anxiety spiking. But after the fact, when I’m awake and cognizant of the fact that it was all just a dream, I’m happy.

I’m happy in the way I am after I read a scary book or movie. I enjoy being scared. I enjoy the heart pounding, the sickening feeling pulling at your gut. But I so rarely feel scared when I watch a movie or read a book anymore. The only place that I can be afraid now, is in my dreams.

Barring being in a car accident or attacked by bears or mugged, I mean.

Because…the fear in my dreams is always of something…incomprehensible. Some twist in reality, some bend in how the world works, something terrible that has worked itself into our world. The physics are all wrong, the geometry at awkward angles. The world in my dreams is a world where voices threaten from the walls and demons take the forms of dogs and men in wheelchairs and the sky is lit by a black cinder and the oceans hide ships from other worlds and the landscape is covered in shifting, orange growths.

It’s a world where anything is possible and it is so terrifying and so real and I always want to go back.

But now…now the dreams are fewer and further between and the nightmares are even more rare. They are dreams of mundane banality, where anything could happen, but nothing ever does.

As the real world creeps more and more into my dreams, I strive to push it back and out and block its egress and I think that I need to return to my fiction for that to happen again, that my dreams and my imagination are inexorably linked and that each inform the other.

It’s long past due to go back.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Masks

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Masks are scary. And not just masks of scary aliens or wolves or demons. I know for a fact that there are people who find the above mask creepy, even though there is nothing inherently creepy about it. There’s no blood or fangs. There’s nothing sinister about it. It represents no gender, race or deformity. It is a blank form.

And yet, this mask elicits uneasiness. If you don’t think this is scary, think about Michael Myer’s mask. It is a white, featureless face. Or think about Jason’s mask. It’s just a hockey mask. Before Friday the 13th Part III, people used to wear it as protective equipment. Now you can’t see that particular mask without immediately thinking of a machete wielding psychopath.

So many of our current monsters wear masks, from gas masks to hockey masks to ghostface masks. The blank, expressionless face is inherently frightening to us. I’m not going wax philosophical and psychological about why I think this is. It’s a gut feeling and gut feelings don’t need much analysis. It’s the return of that base fear, the one that drives all fears; our fear of the unknown.

We derive so much information from the face: age, gender, race, culture (piercings? tattoos? make-up?), emotions, illness. The face is our go-to point for knowing a person. The faceless mask, the one that’s not just a monster’s visage, is inherently creepy because it is still human, undeniably, incontrovertibly, but still so alien. There is no information to be gleaned. There is nothing to tell you about the person behind the face. Unlike a werewolf face, which just howls evil, the faceless mask could be…anything. It is up to the wearer to interpret how to portray this face.

If I did want to go deeper, and started laying some psychology on the table, I’d say that the faceless mask shows us what we already know: When we get down to it, a person’s face doesn’t tell us anything about who they, no matter how many times we comment on someone who has a kind face or has devilish features or a sinister countenance or a gentle look. A person does not wear their souls on their face, no matter how much we wish they did.

That mask, the blank one with no clues of the humanity beyond it, reminds us, all too much, of the fact that the stranger next door could be anyone behind that smile and that wave.

That they’re all masks.

-D-

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October 23, 2012 · 8:45 pm