Monday, October 23, 2017

The Hanging Stranger


The Hanging Stranger is a short story by Philip K. Dick. It begins,
At five o'clock Ed Loyce washed up, tossed on his hat and coat, got his car out and headed across town toward his TV sales store. He was tired. His back and shoulders ached from digging dirt out of the basement and wheeling it into the back yard. But for a forty-year-old man he had done okay. Janet could get a new vase with the money he had saved; and he liked the idea of repairing the foundations himself.

It was getting dark. The setting sun cast long rays over the scurrying commuters, tired and grim-faced, women loaded down with bundles and packages, students, swarming home from the university, mixing with clerks and businessmen and drab secretaries. He stopped his Packard for a red light and then started it up again. The store had been open without him; he'd arrive just in time to spell the help for dinner, go over the records of the day, maybe even close a couple of sales himself. He drove slowly past the small square of green in the center of the street, the town park. There were no parking places in front of LOYCE TV SALES AND SERVICE. He cursed under his breath and swung the car in a U-turn. Again he passed the little square of green with its lonely drinking fountain and bench and single lamppost.

From the lamppost something was hanging. A shapeless dark bundle, swinging a little with the wind. Like a dummy of some sort. Loyce rolled down his window and peered out. What the hell was it? A display of some kind? Sometimes the Chamber of Commerce put up displays in the square.
You can read it online here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse is a 1967 Brazilian horror film directed by José Mojica Marins, who is also known as "Coffin Joe". It is the middle film in the Coffin Joe trilogy, the first being "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul". You can watch the first one here.

via Youtube:


Senses of Cinema closes a positive review with this:
There may be a riotous celebration of carnality, and it’s part of the thrill, but there is also a dark nihilism at play that openly criticises all levels of society, from the superstitious villagers and their reliance on faith and religion, to Coffin Joe’s megalomania as he becomes drunk on his own sense of personal power fuelled by a knowledge that is deeply flawed.
Classic-Horror says it "manages to be something unique and special." Moria has a 3-star review. 1000 Misspent Hours says, "Watching it is like eavesdropping on somebody’s nightmares— it may not make sense, but this peek into a tortured psyche is pretty compelling nevertheless."


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

Nightmare in Wax

Nightmare in Wax is a 1969 horror film starring Cameron Mitchell. I do love Cameron Mitchell, which is the reason I watched this. He plays the disfigured wax museum owner with great flair. It's worth watching for his performance alone.

via Youtube:


Moria has a review. Horrorpedia has links to reviews and some photos.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cold Hand in Mine


Cold Hand in Mine is a 1976 book of weird fiction short stories by Robert Aickman. I don't generally like short stories, but Aickman's are unusual. from the back of the book:
Aickman's "strange stories" (his preferred term) are constructed immaculately, the neuroses of his characters painted in subtle shades. He builds dread by the steady accrual of realistic detail, until the reader realises that the protagonist is heading towards their doom as if in a dream.

Cold Hand in Mine, first published in 1975, stands as one of Aikman's finest collections and contains eight tales including "Pages from a Young Girl's Journal" which won the World Fantasy Award.
My favorites from this collection are "The Real Road to the Church" which begins,
But was that the true meaning? Le vrai chemin de l'nglise? The overtones of symbolism and conversion seemed clear enough, but Rosa still rather wondered whether the significance of the phrase was not wholly topographical. One could so easily read far too much into the traditional usages of simple people.

Probably all that was meant was the simplest and directest route (and perhaps the ancientest); the alternative to the new (but no longer very new) and metalled main road that wound along the borders of properties, instead of creeping through them. Though by now, Rosa reflected, all roads had begun to barge through once again, and no longer went courteously around and about. Very much so: that, she thought, was symbolic, if anything was. Of everything: of the changed world outside and also of her own questionable place in it. But when one began to think in that way, all things become symbolic of all other things. Not that that was in itself untrue: though it was only one truth, of course. And when one admitted that there were many truths existing concurrently, upon which of them could one possibly be thought to stand firm - let alone, to rest? Almost certainly, the simple people who used that phrase, gave no thought at all to its meaning. It was a convention only, as are the left hand side and the right. Conventions are, indeed, all that shield us from the shivering void, though often they do so but poorly and desperately
and "The Same Dog" which begins,
Though there were three boys, there were also twelve long years between Hilary Brigstock and his immediately elder brother, Gilbert. On the other hand, there was only one year and one month between Gilbert and the future head of the family, Roger.

Hilary could not remember when first the suggestion entered his ears that his existence was the consequence of a "mistake". Possibly he had in any case hit upon the idea already, within his own head. Nor did his Christian name help very much: people always supposed it to be the name of a girl, even though his father asserted loudly on all possible occasions that the idea was a complete mistake, a product of etymological and historical ignorance, and of typical modern sloppiness.

And his mother was dead. He was quite unable to remember her, however hard he tried; ashe from time to time did. Because his father never remarried, having as clear and definite vi-ews about women as he had about many other things, Hilary grew up against an almost enti-rely male background.
The Short Review says it "is one of the author’s best known books, featuring eight classy stories which offer a fascinating showcase of Aickman’s cryptic but enticing narrative style" and concludes, "Lovers of contemporary dark fiction should not miss this splendid book, a fully enjoyable , unique reading experience providing full evidence that life’s dark corners are much more scary than monsters, zombies and werewolves."

Kirkus Reviews closes their review with this:
Aickman writes far richer, subtler prose than most super-horror practitioners; in place of terrifying climaxes and satisfyingly releasing denouements (which many will miss), he offers inventions that puzzle--and sometimes confuse--from beginning to end and don't really frighten unless and until their unanswered questions creep back into consciousness.
Horror News says,
Discovering Aickman delivers that kind of virgin-territory thrill, albeit a more genteel experience. Aickman’s stories aren’t about zombies and demons and gore and blood. You certainly won’t be screaming in terror. But you may look a little paler after reading. And he’ll certainly take you to the dark places in the mind that you’re not sure you really want to visit.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Haunted Gold

Haunted Gold is a 1932 western starring John Wayne. It's less than an hour long, and I would suggest it if it were available free. It's not worth paying for.

trailer:



TCM has some information.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

May Morris


May Morris, the younger daughter of William Morris and artist in her own right, died on this date in 1938 at age 76. In the photo above she is seated on the ground next to her mother in the hammock. I love the cup and saucer in the foreground and offer this post as part of the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Here she is as a child in about 1865 with her mother:


She's 4th from the right with her parents and sister in this 1874 photo:


She wrote a book on decorative needlework in 1893 which can be read online. She was best know for her embroidery, and images of her work are available online using a simple google search. She bequeathed art to the Victoria and Albert Museum on her death. I offer these that particularly struck me as I was reading about this artist:

A Garden Piece, 1938:


Hanging panel:


Maids of Honor:

Book binding:


Honeysuckle II:

Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth where you'll find a warm welcome.





Monday, October 16, 2017

The Machinist

The Machinist is a 2004 psychological thriller film directed by Brad Anderson and starring Christian Bale. It's painful to see Bale so thin -he's almost unrecognizable- and his character's pain and confusion throughout is hard to watch. But even though it's disturbing to watch, it's a film I'm glad I've seen.

trailer:



The New York Times has a mixed review and calls it "an expertly manipulated exercise in psychological horror". Rolling Stone says, "Director Brad Anderson tightens the screws of suspense, but it's Bale's gripping, beyond-the-call-of-duty performance that holds you in thrall."

Empire Online concludes, "It looks and feels the business, both in Bale's bone-bag of a body and the morphine-dosed-Kubrick vibe, but it's more a tightly wrought slither through pastures old than fresh investigation into the claws of madness." Roger Ebert gives it 3 stars and says, "The director Brad Anderson, working from a screenplay by Scott Kosar, wants to convey a state of mind, and he and Bale do that with disturbing effectiveness." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 77%.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Red House

The Red House is a 1947 Edward G. Robinson film, also starring Judith Anderson and Julie London. Delmer Daves directs. Priceless, and well worth watching. But then it has Edward G. Robinson in it. Dame Judith Anderson and Julie London are just icing on the cake.

via Youtube:


"Every living soul has its Ox Head Woods."

The New York Times in a review from the time of the film's initial release says, "For this tenebrous tale of an abandoned house set deep in a tangled and forbidding forest and its impact on the lives of a group of people living close by, is told intelligently and with mounting tension. ... the picture's cumulative effect still is as eerie as a well-spun ghost story."

DVD Talk says, "The Red House is an intense, somewhat off-kilter suspense story that promises a dangerous secret and delivers a decidedly "unhealthy" revelation." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 80%.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive is an award-winning 2001 mystery film. David Lynch directs. It has Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Ann Miller, Robert Forster, and Michael J. Anderson.

Indescribable. It has to be seen.

trailer:



The Guardian has an article on how to understand the film. The BBC explains why it's the greatest movie since the year 2000. Salon answers all our questions. Vulture explains why it should be considered a great horror movie.

Roger Ebert considered it a great movie, 4 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 83%.