Saturday, October 25, 2014

Everville


Everville is a 1994 horror novel by Clive Barker. A stand-alone novel, it's also 2nd in The Art Trilogy. I've read the 1st book, but the 3rd hasn't been written. I think it's safe to consider this a stand-alone. It makes perfect sense by itself. I like Barker's writing and enjoyed this. Reality & imagination combine to explore the depths of human emotion.

from the publisher:
On the borderland between this world and the world of Quiddity, the sea of our dreams, sits Everville. For years it has lived in ignorance of the gleaming shore on which it lies. But its ignorance is not bliss. Opening the door between worlds, Clive Barker delivers his characters into the heart of the human mystery; into a place of revelation, where the forces which have shaped our past —and are ready to destroy our future— are at work.

Quotes that struck me:
...patience was easy if it was all you had; and it was.
...
"I think sometimes there's two different people in the world. The people who understand and the people who don't. And if they don't, it's no use trying to explain, 'cause it's just beyond them, and it always will be."
...
"What's the big deal about stories?" she said.
"You love them," he said, his gaze leaving her face and slipping down to the water. The glowing forms she'd seen rising from below were within a few fathjoms of the surface now. The water was beginning to simmer with their presence. "You do, don't you? he said.
"I suppose I do," she said.
That's what the connections are, Tesla."
"Stories?"
"Stories. And every life, however short, however meaningless it seems, is a leaf-"
"A leaf."
"Yes, a leaf." He looked up at her again, and waited, unspeaking, until she grasped the sense of what he was saying.
"On the story tree," she said. He smiled. "Lives are leaves on the story tree.
Kirkus Reviews has a scathingly negative review. Publishers Weekly says, " this novel confirms the author's position not only as one of horror's most potent and fertile minds but also as one of modern fiction's premier metaphysicians."

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Brood

The Brood is a 1979 David Cronenberg horror film. It stars Oliver Reed (who died of a heart attack during the filming of Gladiator), Samantha Eggar, and Art Hindle. Madness and strange goings-on with children. I see the word "disturbing" used in reviews, and it does have some moments....

trailer:



with Spanish subtitles:



"I could look you in the eye if I wanted to, Daddy, but I don't want to."

Moria says, "The Brood was David Cronenberg’s first great film, the point where he can be identified as someone who is not merely an interestingly perverse B-movie director but someone whose movies bristle with a dazzling intelligence." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "a real masterpiece" and says, "If you like your movies queasy and disturbing, The Brood is one of the great highlights of 70’s horror." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "Genuinely disturbing horror but with Cronenberg producing a slightly deeper edge in his portrait of a troubled family." Time Out says it's "worth seeing for its latently political story and its gory special effects." The Terror Trap calls it "A horror version of Kramer Vs. Kramer". Roger Ebert calls it " a particularly nasty little number. ...an el sleazo exploitation film, camouflaged by the presence of several well-known stars but guaranteed to nauseate you all the same." Rotten Tomatoes has an 80% critics score.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Toy for Juliette


A Toy for Juliette is a horror short story by Robert Bloch. It's in the collection Dangerous Visions, which is around here somewhere, but is also online here to give you a taste of his writing. In it, Jack the Ripper is brought into a future post-apocalypse by Juliette (a sadistic young woman named after the Marquis de Sade's Juliette) and her mysterious grandfather. The story begins with this:
Juliette entered her bedroom, smiling, and a thousand Juliettes smiled back at her. For all the walls were paneled with mirrors, and the ceiling was set with inlaid panes that reflected her image.
It is quite short and well worth reading, and then you'll want to seek out more by him.

The photo at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Possession (film)

Possession is a 1981 French/West German horror film starring Isabelle Adjani (Adele Hugo in The Story of Adele H.) and Sam Neill (Captain Vasily Borodin in The Hunt for Red October, The Piano). Andrzej Żuławski directs. It's the story of a marriage gone horribly, horribly wrong. There is an awful lot of screaming.

via youtube:



"I'm the maker of my own evil."

Moria gives it 1 sad star, opening its review with this:
This bizarre oddity was a film that nobody knew what to make of it when it came out but one that has steadily been gaining ground as a weird headspace cult classic ever since. Exactly what it is about could be anybody’s guess. It is filled with bizarre events that are delivered at a pitch of histrionic melodramatics.
Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says,
Divisiveness and duplicity are at the heart of Żuławski's notorious cult film, and Possession's dramatic structure is almost as schizoid as its protagonists, married couple Mark (Sam Neill) and Anna (Isabelle Adjani), whose relationship inexplicably comes apart
1000 Misspent Hours calls it "two hours’ worth of an incoherent and often ludicrous mess". 366 Weird Movies says, "This movie is long on style and short on decipherable substance, suitable for the LSD crowd, though with it’s schizophrenic script and cinematography, Possession on top of a dose of LSD would be redundant." Michał Oleszczyk's review at RogerEbert.com says, "It's all like a fast-forwarded Ingmar Bergman film on bad acid; "Scenes from a Marriage" as played in a home-made abattoir." Rotten Tomatoes has an 81% critics score.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In a Cup of Tea

In a Cup of Tea is one part of the Japanese film Kwaidan, directed by Masaki Kobayashi. In this story, a man keeps seeing a face in his cup of tea. Here's a trailer:

Watch the entire segment by clicking on this link to LikeTelevision, or you can see it embedded here:
I watch the DVD of this complete film every year. It's not the usual run-of-the-mill horror movie but tends more towards a ghost story feel. It's more eerie than scary. I like the other parts of the film, too. They work together nicely. I've never seen a face in my tea. Most likely the other T(ea) Party-goers over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly gathering aren't doing scary things. But I'm sure there are seasonal offerings of some sort there.

Monday, October 20, 2014

He Dies at the End

Startle Alert. He Dies at the End is a 2010 self-explanatory short film directed by Damian Mc Carthy. I saw it first at Short of the Week.

via youtube:



Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's the Matter with Helen?

What's the Matter with Helen? is a 1971 thriller/horror movie starring Debbie Reynolds (as Adele) and Shelley Winters (as Helen) as the mothers of 2 young men convicted of murder. Their sons are spared the death penalty. After the mothers receive a phone call threatening to make them pay for the sins of their sons they pull up stakes, change their names and move to Hollywood to make a fresh start opening a dance school for kids. There's a subtle homosexual subtext as Adele is courted by a man in California and Helen's jealousy causes a rift.

Curtis Harrington directs. Also in the film are Dennis Weaver and Agnes Moorehead. And some poor little rabbits.

There's really not much to this. I've never been a fan of Shirley Temple, so the extensive musical numbers featuring child star imitators put me off. (You can see an example here.) I found the child singing, "Oh, You Nasty Man" ala Mae West to be actively offensive. Sheesh! That was horror enough for me.

via Youtube:



Slant Magazine gives it 2 1/2 out of 4 stars. DVD Talk calls it "a pre-sold 'crazy old actresses' project with a predictable script that the stylish Harrington did his best to enliven and embellish." Roger Ebert says, "I guess you folks who watch the movie of the week on TV know more about these plots than I do." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 33%.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dead Until Dark


Dead Until Dark is the first in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris. They were the inspiration for the True Blood HBO series, which I haven't seen. This book is fun. Nicely written, clever, with well-drawn characters and an interesting plot. Elvis has a small part to play towards the end. I already have the next 4 in the series and will read them.

from the back of the book:
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome -and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life...

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of -big surprise- murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next...
Sookie is a little delicate about public displays of affection. That has never bothered me -not sure why- and I found her squeamishness odd. It does solidify her character, though, as "virginal" in several ways. I found myself being a bit irritated at the numerous well-described sex scenes, and then I thought perhaps I was being delicate myself. Maybe. It did change the tone from horror/mystery to Romance, though, which made it less attractive to me. If the series keeps tending towards the Romance genre, I won't continue reading the books.

SF Site found it predictable. Tor's review calls it "one of the most popular urban fantasy series around". Love Vampires loves it and calls it "fast paced" and "a joy to read".

Friday, October 17, 2014

Opera

Opera is a 1987 Dario Argento horror film. It's typical Argento. There has to be a better way to keep someone's eyes open.

plot teaser from Wikipedia:
The film centers around young, insecure opera singer Betty (Cristina Marsillach). After the lead in Verdi's Macbeth is injured in an car accident, Betty is reluctantly thrust into the role in the opera. During her first performance, a murder takes place in one of the opera boxes. Mysterious murders continue throughout the film...

trailer via youtube:



Moria says, "Opera astounds in its sheer ferocity and perversity." Slant Magazine gives it 4 stars and a positive review. Horror Review says, "Argento provides his audience with a barrage of engaging ideas which are brought to the screen with equally powerful visuals." Gore Girls Dungeon says, "Argento’s stylish and inventive visuals, great elaborate murder scenes and an absolutely amazing setting certainly make it an entertaining watch." DVD Talk says,
Opera contains some of the best thrill sequences in Argento's career. The camerawork is amazing, going from extreme close ups of crow eyes, knives, Betty's eyes, exacto blades, to the contrasting wide open spaces of the opera house, the fitting room, and Betty's apartment. The camera moves, across huge wonderfully designed sets, and in gliding point of views (from the killers, Betty's, to the flying crows over the opera audience)- just great cinematography and use of Dario's distinctive, wonderfully cruel, and beautifully brutal, imaginative eye.
Rotten Tomatoes has an 83% critics rating.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Wendigo


The Wendigo is a 1910 weird tale by Algernon Blackwood. It's based on a monster from Algonquin legend. You can read Blackwood's story online. You can listen to it here while a video of a campfire plays. It begins easily enough before descending into horror. If you're tired of the gore or maybe never could get into gory horror, this story and others like it might suit you well.

Here's the first paragraph:
A considerable number of hunting parties were out that year without finding so much as a fresh trail; for the moose were uncommonly shy, and the various Nimrods returned to the bosoms of their respective families with the best excuses the facts of their imaginations could suggest. Dr. Cathcart, among others, came back without a trophy; but he brought instead the memory of an experience which he declares was worth all the bull moose that had ever been shot. But then Cathcart, of Aberdeen, was interested in other things besides moose—amongst them the vagaries of the human mind. This particular story, however, found no mention in his book on Collective Hallucination for the simple reason (so he confided once to a fellow colleague) that he himself played too intimate a part in it to form a competent judgment of the affair as a whole....
and from a bit further on:
The two men lay down, without undressing, upon their beds of soft balsam boughs, cunningly arranged. Inside, all was warm and cozy, but outside the world of crowding trees pressed close about them, marshalling their million shadows, and smothering the little tent that stood there like a wee white shell facing the ocean of tremendous forest.

Between the two lonely figures within, however, there pressed another shadow that was not a shadow from the night. It was the Shadow cast by the strange Fear, never wholly exorcised, that had leaped suddenly upon Défago in the middle of his singing. And Simpson, as he lay there, watching the darkness through the open flap of the tent, ready to plunge into the fragrant abyss of sleep, knew first that unique and profound stillness of a primeval forest when no wind stirs ... and when the night has weight and substance that enters into the soul to bind a veil about it.... Then sleep took him....
Tim's Book Reviews recommends it saying, "If you have read Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley and are looking for more authors of their ilk, look no further than Algernon Blackwood." Weird Fiction Review includes this story in its discussion of Blackwood.

The photo at the top of the page is of Blackwood and came from Wikipedia.