Focus on the Frightful: A Pox on Period Horror

A Focus on the Frightful Banner

I love a good ghost story and haunted house movie and some of the best ones are set in the past. The moods, atmosphere and tones fit in well with certain time periods. Some of the best ones to exemplify this are The Others, The Awakening, etc.

Watching Winchester this Wednesday (my son and his girlfriend’s choice rather than a ‘romantic’ movie, I’m so proud *sniff*). I have to say, though that the most feeling it created was a hearty “Eh”. I try not to watch previews, sometimes they give away too much, so maybe it was my own fault. I was expecting something along the lines of it being closer to the real story of the Winchester Mansion, heavy on atmosphere with some supernatural elements. What I got were some big Hollywood Horror moments with some modern commentary so forced in that I think I rolled my eyes so hard I lost a contact in my cranium.

It got me thinking, however. In almost all period horror pieces there are always strange anachronisms. I don’t mean the nitpicky kind where “This feather should not be in that hair because that bird didn’t live in that area in that time”. I’m talking about when the director or writer wedges in modern commentary, actions or attitudes that sit so awkwardly in the movie they might as well be shouting “See how tuned in I am??!!”

I do see this in books more often than movies but books would be too numerous to mention here. Generally the worst offenders that I see in books are the ones who make their 19th century ladies very modern and nobody bats an eye. I have no problem with good, strong, female characters being portrayed in period novels but it detracts from the work if it’s so obvious that it takes you out of the story altogether.

However, there are some movies, some very good ones that also fall into the same error. I’ll talk about a few here. I don’t think there will be any spoilers. However, if there are they will be clearly marked. I also want to remind people that these are my opinions only.

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Winchester

Winchester Movie

I’ll start with Winchester because it’s the most recent. honestly, I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. There will probably be spoilers so if you want just skip down to Crimson Peak.

The first one that caught my eye made me giggle. In a beginning scene Dr. Price is shown taking laudanum. The laudanum label has a huge POISON on the front. And if that didn’t get it across there’s also a huge skull and crossbones. I’m assuming that it was done to get it across to modern audiences what laudanum was since some people might not know what it is. That one just made me laugh.

The more annoying ones have to do with the main plot of the guns and what amounts to a modern day office shooting. I’m not getting into any discussion of gun control here. I only want to point out that at that time (1906) guns were common. Very, very common. One of the reasons people thought that Sarah Winchester was crazy was because of her stance that the ghosts of the people killed by Winchester guns were haunting her. Most people didn’t give guns a second thought.

The other, and more annoying one, is what Sarah Winchester referred to as “soldier’s sickness” which is what addiction was called. And if they had went straight from the soldier’s sickness comment to her requesting him to not take drugs while he’s there since she wants him clear-headed I wouldn’t be so annoyed. But they just couldn’t resist adding in her question to him, “Are you addicted to any medication?” With all of the scrutinizing of painkillers lately this was not a throwaway line. Seeing this crackdown hurt so many people who are taking their medication correctly instead of the people it’s meant to be stopping, yeah, it ticked me off. Big time. The more so because it was so wedged in. It was not a very common stance at the time.

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Crimson Peak

There’s not many in this one. Just one, actually. When Edith is complaining that the publishers didn’t take her seriously because she was a woman writer who was writing ghost stories. That publisher’s wanted ‘a love story’ in her ghost story. Well, there were a lot of female writers at the time writing ghost stories that had no love stories but were still well regarded. I feel as though it’s Guillermo del Toro’s comment on love stories being wedged into almost every kind of story, whether they’re needed or not.

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Mary Reilly

 

Let’s ignore all of the other stuff wrong with this movie (namely Julia Roberts playing an Irish woman) but they literally had to change almost everything about the original story to force in a love story between Marty and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. They also wedged in a “be free!” message that is just…ugh. I don’t know how much of this is the book’s fault and how much of it is the movie’s but it doesn’t work.

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Smoking

One thing I notice the absence of in period pieces (most notably the war genre) is the absence of smoking of any kind. Especially when a doctor in 1860 lectures a patient about smoking (Sherlock 2009). I’m sorry but it just wouldn’t happen at that time period. Yes, smoking is bad for you. And in modern movies and tv shows they can leave it out all they want. But to act like it didn’t exist in period pieces is asinine. Thy try to work around it occasionally by showing someone with a cigarette or cigar but they usually lose it or their lighter doesn’t work. And for some weird reason cigars are ok to be shown but not cigarettes. What’s the difference? Especially when they have no problem showing those same people chugging down alcohol like it’s water.

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So what movies did I miss? Are there others that have been very noticeable to you guys? This article is more of a lead-in to next week’s. I’m a little tired of being so serious so I’m going to let the inner Nitpicker out to play next week and pick apart some major flaws in some movies! So see you next week to have a little snarky fun!

Clock’s Watch by Michael Reyes #BookReview

Title: Clock’s Watch | Author: Michael Reyes | Publisher: Pronoun | Pub. Date: 11/15/2017 | Pages: 159 | ISBN13: 9781387298341 | Genre: Dark Fantasy | Language: English | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration


Clock’s Watch

Clock the Chaos Mage. A stranger out of time, hidden in the folds of shadow. He is the guardian of Coney Island’s supernatural borderlands, and the only thing standing between our reality and the demons that thirst to destroy it. Clock’s Watch. An anthology of heroic dark fantasy and terror. Illustrations by Sean Bova, Jay Campbell and MV.

Clock’s Watch is a nice collection of dark fantasy stories. I love the title Clock’s Watch. I really liked the character of Clock, he was interesting and entertaining. He felt very well-developed as did the characters around him. Some of the periphery characters were not quite as well fleshed out but the stories weren’t long enough for that  to matter. I really liked the mini-synopses before the stories. They reminded me a lot of the fifties serials. 

I really liked the stories themselves. The various demons and monsters were interesting and creative. The stories were also wrapped up in a good manner with each one self-contained. In fact, that’s the only real problem with it. I think that the book would have worked better as a novel. I’d have liked to have known more about the mythology of Clock’s world. And Clock himself. He’s really funny and interesting. We get a bit of knowledge about him but the stories and supernatural elements don’t have a lot of explanation behind it. I think if this were reworked into a novel length work with more room for backstory it would be great.

The illustrations are good on the front and back. I really like the one on the back in particular. I actually wished there would have been more in the book, like one per story would have been great. I would recommend the book for those who want short, well-written stories of supernatural action and shenanigans with Clock as your guardian through it all.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Prime Mover

Prime Mover

Ace Larson – Dane Clark
Jimbo Cobb – Buddy Ebsen
Kitty Cavanaugh – Christine White
Big Phil Nolan – Nesdon Booth
Sheila – Jane Burgess
Narrator – Rod Serling


We see the Happy Daze Cafe from the outside. A few people can be seen through the glass front. Even though it’s a diner, I feel like the Happy Daze Cafe should refer to a bar. Well, they do have cold beer, ham & eggs & french fries for eighty four cents, burgers for thirty cents and hamburger steak for sixty five cents. Man, with our paychecks now we’d be, if not millionaires, incredibly well off. A trucker is sitting at the counter and a young, dark-haired lady is pouring him some coffee. Another man looks up when the fourth man starts talking. Ace pops into the scene cajoling his sweetheart. He says he’s her lover boy and they’ve been through thick and thin together and he’s been real good to ‘her’. He says he fed her, took care of her so it’s time to start paying off. Just when you’re getting creeped out and disgusted it is revealed that the gal he’s sweet-talking is a slot machine. He puts his quarter in and closes his eyes when he pulls the handle. The counter lady (Kitty) rolls her eyes as the bars come up as a loss. He pulls out another quarter saying this time it better pay up or it’s out of there. He quickly says he’s just kidding. Wouldn’t want to hurt its feelings now, would we? I think that he and Franklin would get along great. Another coin, another loss. He asks Kitty for another quarter. The trucker at the counter tells Ace he ought to slow down, he’ll blow a gasket.

Ace offers to flip the man for the burger. The trucker tells Ace he must like getting kicked around. Ace tells him to never mind what he likes. Are they on? The trucker agrees and Ace demands a quarter from Kitty again. She starts to say something but he just demands the quarter in a snippy voice. He thinks that he can’t lose forever. Yeah, just keep thinking that dude. Ace does the flip and guess who wins? The trucker says thanks! It must be a lucky quarter and he snags it from Ace. Which seems a little jerkish but Ace did bet double or nothing. The guy plugs it into the machine and hits the jackpot. And, to be fair, the guy gives Ace his quarter back and tells him thanks without rubbing it in. Ace gets pissed at the machine and kicks it. Jimbo says that Ace’s luck will change sometime. Ace replies that yeah, he’ll probably get electrocuted next time.

While Ace is grumping around, Kitty is putting on her coat and heading for the door. He asks where she’s going. She’s going home to bed, does he have a problem with that? He chills out and says no an he wouldn’t be surprised if she quit. She says that she’s not going to…he owes her three months salary. Umm, I think I’d still quit and get my pay. However, methinks she has another reason for sticking around. As Kitty leaves, Jimbo asks Ace when he and Kitty are going to get married. Ace says what can they get married on? Jimbo says that he has a little saved up and they could use that but Ace thinks that a little is not enough to get married on. Why not? You don’t need to spend a gajillion dollars on a wedding. He says a girl like Kitty deserves the best and the best doesn’t come cheap.

As they’re talking they hear a screech of tires outside. They look in time to see a car roll over across the street and crash into a big electrical thing, throwing up sparks. They run out to help but the electricity is making the car untouchable. Ace says there’s people inside and wants Jimbo to help. Well of course there’s people inside! The car didn’t drive itself. Jimbo doesn’t move but gets a really weird look on his face. At first he looks like he’s concentrating really hard. Then he looks constipated. The car moves by itself and rolls off of the electricity. Ace looks surprised and Jimbo looks tired.

SERLING:
A portrait of a man who thinks and thereby gets things done. Mr. Jimbo Cobb might be called a Prime Mover. A talent which has to be seen to be believed. In just a moment he’ll show his friends, and you, how he keeps both feet on the ground and his head in the Twilight Zone.

Jimbo’s laying on a bed, rubbing his head. Ace comes into the room and says that the people in the car are going to be ok, just a few broken bones. Then he asks Jimbo how he did it. Jimbo tries to play dumb but Ace wants to know. Jimbo tells him to leave it alone and Ace gets pissy and tells him to keep his secrets, he doesn’t care. Jimbo relents and says he’ll tell him. Jimbo says he can’t explain it very well but it’s a power. He can move things around by thinking about it. Ace is a bit dumbfounded so Jimbo says that he knows it sounds dumb but he can. He doesn’t know how or why but he can. Ace asks how long he’s been able to do it. Jimbo says that for a long time he thought that it was something everyone could do. Ace wants to know why he hasn’t seen him do it before. Jimbo says it used to get him in trouble at school  and stuff so he gave it up. It also started to give him very bad headaches, like the one he’s got now.

Ace is all excited and wants to know if Jimbo can do it again, like now? Apparently Jimbo rubbing his head and neck and saying he gets headaches. Ace don’t care though and he pulls Jimbo off the bed and asks him to do something with it.  So Jimbo lifts it and Ace is amazed. He asks Jimbo if he could move something a little smaller, like a quarter? Jimbo says sure, the smaller the easier. Ace asks Jimbo to flip it to heads and Jimbo does. This gives Art an idea and he has Jimbo roll some dice. Ace is super psyched and he calls Jimbo a big dummy. They’re busting their humps in the diner every day when they could e getting rich. Jimbo wants to know how. Ace doesn’t answer him but calls Kitty and tells her to get ready for a trip, don’t pack, just get ready.

And boom, we’re in Vegas. On a side note my grandpa used to go to Vegas every year in the spring. The Golden Nugget and Stardust were his favorites. He also brought back a hat one time…imagine my surprise later when I found out it was a strip club…

Ace, Jimbo and Kitty are all at the roulette table. Ace bets a hundred and Kitty freaks out, saying that’s all they have. Ace tells her not to worry. The ball goes and Jimbo makes it land on the right number. He spreads out the winnings and Kitty again tells him to chill out out he again tells her that it’s ok. Jimbo once again helps. They hit casino after casino, raking in the dough using Jimbo’s power. Apparently they didn’t let Kitty in on it because she’s worried that Ace’s luck will change and he’ll go bust. He says they’ve got a system and not to worry. Jimbo breaks in to say that he’s got to take a break, his head’s killing him. At first Ace wants to keep going but then he realizes that maybe they shouldn’t push Jimbo’s talent too much. He cashes their chips out. As he is a cigar/cigarette girl comes over. Ace scoops up a handful of cigars and throws her a hundred. She says she can’t cash a bill that big but he says keep it. Kitty looks a little disgusted and Jimbo looks tired. Apparently they’ll just hand you cash in boxes when you cash out large sums. Is this accurate? That can’t be safe. Ace yanks Jim off the couch and they head up to their room.

It’s a very large room. Jimbo just wants to sleep, he’s very tired but Ace wants to go out and party. Kitty says that she’ll see them tomorrow. Ace gives Jimbo a head massage and has Kitty get him some aspirin. Jimbo says that he can’t do it anymore, that it isn’t right because it’s cheating. Ace says fine, they’ll quit. Jimbo asks if he means it and Ace says sure. After one more time. Jimbo says fine, one more time. He takes an aspirin and he lays down to rest his head. Ace grabs Kitty and says they’re going to go out and have some fun. Kitty wants him to stop though, she’s worried that the luck will run out and why can’t he be happy with all of the money that he’s made? Ace says that it’s not enough and by tomorrow he’ll have enough money to buy the state. Aceville, USA. Kitty She’s having none of it. She says she’s going home and look her up when he’s done playing Ceaser. Ace wants to know wht her problem is. Jimbo says that he’s been ignoring her all night. Ace says he’s been busy. Jimbo says a man should never be that busy and Kitty’s worth more than any money and urges Ace to go after her.

He catches up to Kitty but she hasn’t changed her mind. If he’s going to gamble the next day then she’s out of there. She leaves and Ace looks bummed for about two seconds. The cigar/cigarette girl asks if anything’s wrong with a pouty little expression. He asks her name and she says it’s Sheila. He asks how she’d like to come work for him? She rolls her eyes and says doing what? he wants her to help him spend some money. She doesn’t believe him but he hands her a grand and says it’s a down payment. She takes it and asks when he wants her to start. He says right now and she whips off her box of goodies. Her boss comes over and wants to know if there’s a problem. Ace says no, he’s buying the girl for the night, oh, sorry “hiring” her for the night and hands the boss a wad of bills. Ace asks the manager who the biggest whale in town is. No limits. The guy thinks for a minute then says Mr. Phil Nolan. Ace wants Phil to call him at the hotel and bring plenty of money. Ace goes back to his cigarette homey and she says she’s ready to go but she wants to get dressed first. Ace says ok but not too much. Ew.

The next morning the phone rings. Jimbo floats it over to the bed and answers it. It’s Mr. Nolan for Ace. He tells Mr. Nolan that he’s got two hundred grand and wants a game. You’re lucky Mr. Nolan doesn’t just show up with a shotgun and take your money. Jimbo is a bit leery. He asks if Mr. Nolan is from Chicago and asks if he’s a gangster. ace says yeah but so what? They have a code of honour. Uh huh.  Every single one of them. While Ace cleans up Jimbo asks him about Kitty but Ace just shrugs him off. Jimbo looks a bit worried.

Mr. Nolan shows up with some other guys and ask to see the money. Ace orders breakfast while he’s counting it and asks if Nolan’s boys want something. They don’t eat. Ever. They start off with ten grand. Ace starts to roll but Nolan suggests they use his dice. i think either way is unfair. They should call the casino for some dice that are more likely to be untainted. Ace says fine, they’ll use Nolan’s dice. They roll, Jimbo helps. The usual. Ace is pretty stupid. He should lose occasionally, it would look less suspicious. Nolan does get suspicious and grabs the dice to double check that they’re his. Nolan tells Ace to remember that people only cheat on him once.

After the threatening Sheila comes bouncing in, asking if Ace is ready to go to Lake Meade. the toughs ask who the dame is and Ace says she’s his lucky charm, his shweetheart. They have a snuggle. Jimbo looks very upset. To hurry things up Ace decides to bet it all. Jimbo tries to get his attention but Ace ignores him and asks for the other box of money. Nolan seems hesitant but says that Ace is covered. Ace says he wants an eleven and eyeballs jimbo meaningfully. Jimbo tries to get his attention but Ace ignores him. Ace is all happy but he’s a little premature. He hasn’t looked at the dice which are decidedly not on eleven. Nolan’s thrilled, though. His guys scoop Ace out of the way to scoop up the money. Ace looks stunned.

After the other guys leave Jimbo says that he’s sorry but he tried to tell him. Jimbo says that a fuse must have blown or the power went out because he just couldn’t do it. Ace should have quit while he was ahead. Jimbo asks if Ace is mad at him. Sheila wants to know if they’re still going to Lae Meade. Ace just says that Jimbo blew a fuse. She gets huffy and leaves with a glare for Jimbo. Ace snaps out of it and starts laughing at the blew a fuse. Jimbo, looking a bit relieved, joins in. To give him credit, Ace does not yell at Jimbo or blame him. Which was unexpected. usually they turn into dicks.

Back at the diner some guys are removing the slot machine. They ask Ace if he’s sure he wants to get rid of it and he says, yeah, who needs it? Ace is in a good mood and not as grouchy as he was in the beginning of the episode. After its gone ace starts to ask Kitty something about pooling their money after…will she marry him? Jimbo’s broom falls, startling them. Kitty looks a bit shocked and asks Jimbo if he’s got a quarter. She tells ace to call it. She flips it and he calls ‘Heads’. She peeks at the quarter and then tells Ace, yes, she will marry him. Did you really doubt it? Jimbo goes to grab his broom but remembers that it’s on the floor. He uses his mind powers to pick it up. I don’t blame him. He probably saved Ace’s ass from a dirt nap, eventually.

SERLING:
Some people possess talent, others are possessed by it. When that happens, the talent becomes a curse. Jimbo Cobb knew that right from the beginning. But before Ace Larson learned that simple truth he had to take a trip through the Twilight Zone.


This one is a bit, eh to me. Well, next week’s episode is good and creepy, anyways.


Join us next week for Twilight Zone Tuesday’s episode – Long Distance Call

Focus on the Frightful – The Gothic and the Horror

A Focus on the Frightful Banner

The Gothic and The Horror Genre: Uneasy Bedfellows

I’ve been poking around the edges of books like We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Picnic at Hanging Rock for awhile now. These are books (along with others I’ll get to, including movies) that seem to fall into a catch-all category known as Horror first and Gothic Horror second. Our guest post Sunday by David Michael Williams put part of the problem very succinctly.

“I can’t agree with the stance that a story should be penalized because it doesn’t fit snugly inside the box of one sub-sub-sub-genre or another.”  – David Michael Williams

I agree completely. The Gothic book used to have a very clearly defined description as Mr. Williams mentions in his post and which you can also find in a previous post by us here. Now it seems to be either a catchall for the Romance genre or they get thrown into the horror genre. They are much more closely aligned with horror than any other genre but they are also done a huge disservice. It just seems that publishers don’t quite know what to do with them. As always there will most likely be spoilers for these books specifically – We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Picnic at Hanging Rock,  The House Next Door and…Twilight.

So What’s the Difference?

Gothic Romances are generally focused intensely on one heroine or family and their odd family goings ons. They can be melodramatic, over-the-top and also introduce elements of the supernatural, overtly and covertly, thus muddying the genre waters even more. I’m going to focus solely on the Gothics and focus on more modern productions. So, don’t worry, you won’t see a deconstruction of Wuthering Heights here. Don’t sigh in relief just yet…I love the book so it will probably be popping up on A Focus on the Frightful sometime or other. Unfortunately hard as I tried it turns out I will be talking about Twilight. Sigh. There are four books in particular that I would like to mention specifically in regard to this and you guys will probably have very different reactions to each (and may not have heard of at least one of them). For the synopses please hover on the covers: 

Books
We Have Always Lived in the Castle  (our discussion of it here) – 1962
Picnic at Hanging Rock – 1967
The House Next Door – 1978
Twilight – 2005

 

The Books

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

I’ll start with We Have Always Lived in the Castle since that is the book that seems to create the most confusion. As I put forth in my previous post (see above) it seems as though it is shelved under Horror, much to its detriment. I believe it gets put there because of The Haunting o Hill House, which I will contend has more in common with the Gothic genre than horror as well. Many of the criticisms leveled at it are “not scary”, “not horror” and “boring”. Boring is subjective and up for debate but I’m not here to force anyone to like it. I would like to address the charges of “not scary” and “not horror”. Being shelved under Horror people come to it with the expectation that it is horror. That it will be scary and are very disappointed when it’s not overtly horror. A lot of the horror is subliminal and you really have to read between the lines a few times to really understand just where the horror comes in. Again, I’m not saying those who don’t like it are not “deep” enough to get it. It’s just that being stuck in a confining genre people come to it with a preconceived set of expectations and are not satisfied when it doesn’t meet them. 

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock is another book that often gets put into the Horror category but there’s not much ‘horrific’ doings going on. At least, on the surface. A finishing school for the well-to-do ladies in training that live in Australia, run by a woman who sees it as little more than a business venture. On a Valentine’s Day picnic to a nearby feature called Hanging Rock three girls and a teacher disappear, never to be seen again. The book was put out at the time as “Based on a True Story”. However, this seems a marketing tactic as the research of readers has not come up with a matching case. Much of the book revolves around the search for these girls (the search for the teacher seems incidental) and the consequences on the school itself. One of the girls is found a week or two later but the mystery only deepens as she has only minor cuts and bruises with no sign of dehydration or starvation after two weeks in the broiling Australian outback. The true horror comes in the mental breakdown of the headmistress and her tyranny over the one student who has no family of ‘name’, just a benefactor. The final denouement only makes it all the more tragic. But is it really horror? Not really. Is it Romance, True Crime, an Unsolved Mystery so…into the Horror category it goes. Although the book seems to fall into the Mystery category as well. The mystery was eventually (bizarrely) resolved in an end chapter released later but there is some question of whether it was actually written by Joan Lindsay herself, or not. She refused to have it published while she lived and those that have read it (it’s insanely expensive for a single chapter) claim the writing style seems different and Ms. Lindsay always insisted that the mystery should not be solved. The movie is very much categorized as Horror which does seem to baffle some people. However, Peter Weir’s directorial style and the cinematography gives it such an eerie, slightly off-kilter feel to it that it passes a little better under the Horror section. 

The House Next Door

Although Anne Rivers Siddons is a prolific Southern writer her book The House Next Door, her one and, as far as I know, only, foray into the Horror genre was largely ignored by horror fans until Stephen King’s Danse Macabre showcased it. Which, to me, was questionable. It’s a capable ‘haunted’ (‘cursed’ might be a better word) house novel but there are many that do a much better job with the haunted house novel. What she does do, however, is bring out the daily horror of the scandal, the gossip and the side-long glances of a small well-to-do suburban subdivision of Atlanta. What qualifies this as more settled in the Gothic genre is that we are in Colquitt’s head (the main character) the whole time. We are privy to every single thought and emotion that she plunges into. She’s dramatic and vain and although she’s on the general outside of the house’s shenanigans she is also drawn into each one by dint of being neighbors with the House Next Door. The house is not ‘haunted’ in the traditional Southern way. There are no plantation belles wailing about, no dueling brothers to re-enact every anniversary. Bad things happen there. Small in size at first but gradually growing until one terrible night that destroys the neighborhood and Colquitt and her husband decide to burn the bastard down after trying to warn people away (through an article in People magazine, no less). But our sympathies, such as I can muster, are generally with them as friends ditch them and talk behind their backs. This is given almost equal weight on the scale of ‘terribleness’ that the house also dishes out. Again, though, it being listed under straight up Horror makes people think they’re in for, perhaps, a gory good time instead of the sedate and almost sanguine prose of Colquitt’s narration.

Twilight

Twilight is often shelved under Horror…because vampires of course! However, since much of it focuses on Bella and Edward’s ‘”Oh-so-intense” feelings for each other I think it qualifies more as a Romance than Horror. If you were to take out the vampires and add in a little more stalking and a little more insultingly described BDSM you’d have a Romance. And if you want to argue the point I shall direct you to Fifty Shades of Grey. This has got to be one of the most cannabalistic series I have ever read. The Paranormal Romance has much more in common with the Romance genre than either the Gothic or Horror. The only justification for these books to be flooding the Horror genre is the presence of some supernatural creature or another. My tone might be a little condescending but I promise I’m not trying to put down the Paranormal Romance genre as a whole. My disgust here is aimed mainly at Twilight and its love-child Fifty Shades of Grey. I will argue, however that they simply do not belong in the Horror genre just by dint of a supernatural love triangle (or quadrangle).

Ok, Just What the Heck Am I Getting At, Exactly?!

Some books just can’t be defined by a single genre. Horror, especially crosses into so many other genres you could go on forever subbing genres into eternity. Perhaps that’s some poor librarian’s purgatorial punishment. However, as any horror fan who has desperately searched through an endless list of Fantasy/Science Fiction (looking at you Amazon, would it kill you to add a Horror category?) the defining genres can be a blessing.

While I do agree in part with the thrust of Mr. Williams’ argument that sometimes genres, sub-genres and sub-sub-genres can ultimately hurt a book by confining it to one area and people might not be willing to veer outside of their comfort areas to try new genres. It seems a fifty-fifty split on the pro/con side. For those that like one particular genre it can be very helpful to be able to find precisely what they like. However, if you are looking to get outside your chosen genre for a little exploring the hundreds of sub-genres can feel like a maze as difficult to navigate as the hedge maze in The Shining,


So let me know what books you have come across that seemed to be Horror but weren’t? Or, vice versa, you went looking for a different kind of book and ended up with something completely different. Were you happy or pleased? Do you find them helpful or tedious? Let us know down below!

Black Panther Official Complete Visual & Behind-the-Scenes Guide from Titan!

BLACK PANTHER OFFICIAL MOVIE SPECIAL FROM TITAN

An all-access behind-the-scenes guide to the highly anticipated Marvel Studios movie, Black Panther!

Titan Publishing is excited to announce Black Panther: The Official Movie Special – celebrating the making of Marvel Studios’ hotly anticipated new movie, Black Panther! From exclusive cast interviews to concept art, this is fans’ all-in-one guide to the King of Wakanda’s debut movie, which hits cinemas February 16, 2018.

Available in US stores in both softcover and hardcover editions (on-sale February 20, 2018), Titan’s deluxe Black Panther: The Official Movie Special will allow fans to go behind the scenes of Marvel Studios’ new action-packed epic. Presenting unseen behind-the-scenes photos from the movie sets, stunning concept art, and exclusive secrets from the beautiful, mysterious nation of Wakanda with interviews with the stars of the film, including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Forest Whitaker and Danai Gurira, this stunning collector’s book is a must-have for all fans of everything Marvel.

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is one of 2018’s most anticipated movies with ticket sales on entertainment site Fandango listing it as the highest advance ticket selling film released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever.

Titan’s Black Panther: The Official Movie Special will hit stores on February 20, 2018.

Pre-order now via Amazon

 

About Titan Publishing
Titan has been creating officially licensed entertainment tie-in books for over 30 years, and has produced hundreds of official special editions on all licenses, from Star Wars to Star Trek, Thor: Ragnarok, Alien, X-Files, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, 24, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Torchwood, Supernatural and many, many more major movie and TV properties.

About Marvel Studios’ Black Panther
Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.

The film is directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Jeffrey Chernov and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole wrote the screenplay. Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” hits U.S. theaters on February 16, 2018.

About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy-five years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit marvel.com. © 2018 MARVEL


I know some of you have got to be super excited about this! I wouldn’t mind checking it out myself!

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Static

Static

Static – Season 2 – Episode 20

Ed Lindsay – Dean Jagger
Vinnie – Carmen Matthews
Professor Ackerman – Robert Emhardt
Roscoe Bragg – Arch Johnson
Mrs. Nielson – Alice Pearce
Miss Meredith – Lillian O’Malley
Mr. Llewellyn – Pat O’Malley
The Boy – Stephen Holt


We slowly move up to what looks like a genteel boarding house with ‘Rooms for Rent’. Inside there’s an assortment of middle aged and above men and women watching tv. The camera comes to rest on two men playing checkers. Sort of. One of them isn’t paying attention and the other man is getting grouchy. Ed finally gets the other’s attention but he moves the wrong colour and goes back to watching tv. Ed wins and then sourly watches everyone else watching tv, The tv is playing an ad for ‘chlorophyll cigarettes’. The smoke that doesn’t smell like smoke but…grass? Hmm, which kind? I wonder if they’re talking about menthols?

Ed gets irritated and wants to know what’s wrong with everyone? Are they hypnotized? A lady on the sofa scolds him and tells him if he doesn’t like it he can ask for another channel. He says forget it but goes to change the channel anyway. He flips through a few stations: a car race, some guy singing “Little Brown Jug” (which everyone disapproves of, at least they disapprove of the way the guy is singing) and a guy selling land for a quarter a week. Ed gets irritated and pokes fun at the television commercial before heading down to the basement, muttering to himself. As he digs through the junk in the basement he comes across a picture of a young man and woman. It makes him smile for a minute and the lady looks suspiciously like a younger version of one of the ladies upstairs. A kid is looking through the mesh of the basement window (wouldn’t that flood?) and asks Ed what he’s got there? Ed says it’s a radio and the kid asks him what it does. Well, he does know what a radio does but he’s never seen one like the one Ed is picking up (remarkably easily for how big it is).

SERLING:
No one ever saw one quite like that, because that’s a very special sort of radio. In its day, circa 1935, its type was one of the most elegant consoles on the market. Now, with its fabric-covered speakers, its peculiar yellow dial, its serrated knobs, it looks quaint and a little strange. Mr. Ed Lindsay is going to find out how strange very soon. When he tunes into the Twilight Zone.

The boy is helping Ed take the radio up the stairs. The Professor asks what he’s got there and the lady from the photograph bounces down the stairs to look at it. She says she remembers it but she thought he’d thrown it out. Ed replies that he’s never thrown anything away that was worth keeping. From the look she gives him I’m guessing that there was at least one thing he threw away that he should have kept.

The Professor asks if Ed needs any help but Ed rudely refuses him saying he “doesn’t want to disturb him”. He and the boy cart it upstairs while the Professor watches. Upstairs Ed plugs the radio in and the boy asks Ed if he thinks it will still work. Ed turns it on and rock music plays. The boy likes it and strts snapping his fingers. Stop. I’m getting Spiderman 3 flashbacks. Annoyed, Ed shoves some money in the kid’s hand and tells him to get lost. Go buy a switchblade. Seriously. That’s what he says. Not even a thank you. After the kid leaves Ed is happy to be alone with his radio. So happy that he immediately starts fiddling with his knobs. He gives it a whack and the radio begins playing big band music. The song ends and the DJ says thank you to Tommy Dorsey and exhorts the listeners to listen to the applause. Ed, comfy on his bed with a book claps along. Up next is Major Bowes and his Amateur Hour. After the speaker is done, however, the radio goes to static. He whacks the radio again and gets a modern station. This displeases him and he whacks it again until he gets a good station from the past.

Somebody knocks on the door and Ed is irritated. He opens it and it’s the woman from earlier, Vinnie. He charmingly asks her what she wants. She tells him cheerfully that dinners ready. He says he’s not hungry but apparently Mrs. Nielson does not approve of boarders skipping meals. I noticed that was a big thing back in the day. A lady who owned a boarding house was rated on the table she kept. Whether she was stingy or not. If you’ll forgive a bit of an aside there were a couple that stuck out to me. One in a story called ‘The Hall Bedroom’ by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman the renter of said hall bedroom (which apparently was disgraceful for some reason?) comments that the lady who runs the house is conscientious about keeping a good table and giving her renters their money’s worth rather than try to scrape a bit more off the top by feeding them at little cost. The other was in True Grit (the John Wayne one, not the remake). When the hunky, aptly named La Boeuf (they invariably pronounce it La Beef in the movie and isn’t ‘La’ the feminine form? It’s been a while since French class). Anywho, during the dinner scene La Beef compliments the lady of the house on her dinner and one of the other diners tells him to be careful, the chicken and dumplings will hurt his eyes. La Beef asks how and the other boarder jokes that he’ll hurt his eyes looking for the chicken. LaBeef just gives him a withering look (and it does seem like a lame joke since at that moment La Beef is pulling a huge chicken leg out of the pot (with his bare fingers…ick).

Well, that was fun but back to Ed and his not-so-fun bitchiness. He turns off his radio and whips over to the ever-patient (and ever-awesome) Vinnie. Later I’ll tell you why I like her so much, apart from this episode. He says women have always been running his life (hahahaha, in between the thirties and fifties? Whatever.) “Do this, do that. Come to dinner, don’t come to dinner”. Vinnie breaks in and says, “Frankly Mr. Lindsay I don’t care whether you starve to death. I just wants to make sure it’s on purpose and not because you’d forgotten that food is available.” To which I say, “So there!” She stomps off as he says he’s not quite that old yet.

Downstairs Ed is being terribly rude and humming at the table. Mrs. Nielsen none-so-gently brings it to his attention. Despite the scene upstairs Ed actually seems to be in a good mood while he eats his pudding (so I’m guessing he ate his meat because he’s got his pudding. I’m sorrynotsorry.) The Professor with the pipe asks Ed what he was humming. They both start humming the tune together and get a double disapproval look from Mrs. Nielsen. They identify the song as “Getting Sentimental Over You”. Ed says that he heard it on the radio that afternoon, live from – but the killjoy across the table cuts him off and says he couldn’t have listened to it live because Tommy Dorsey is dead. Ed replies a bit sarcastically and says “You don’t say?” then asks what about Major Bowes and the youngster says he doesn’t know who that is. Ed says that he’s dead too but he heard Tommy Dorsey and Major Dorsey that afternoon on the radio. Smarmy Killjoy, who’s name (appropriately) seems to be Bragg, says it couldn’t be. Ed asks how Bragg can have such a tiny brain but such a big mouth. Bragg gets offended and starts to say something but Mr. Professor breaks in saying that he thinks what Ed is trying to say is that some of the radio stations must have been playing recordings of the shows. Bragg dismisses this saying that they didn’t have tape in those days. No, but they did have phonographs you nimrod. The Professor agrees saying that they had wires and other things back then. Ed throws in that they also had good music back then. And plays that were real magic. Bragg chuckles to himself and says he doubts it. Ed jeers at this (as do I, look up Suspense – Ghost Hunt on YT and you’ll hear a great one). Ed mocks him and says “Mr. Bragg doubts it. Mr. Bragg, who watches tv until his brains turn into oatmeal and his eyes roll down his face into his beer”. That…sounds uncomfortable.

Ed goes off in search of the portable radio because Mr. Bragg is a ‘modern man’ and needs to be proven wrong. Mrs. Nielsen thinks Ed is crazy and turns to Vinnie to say “you were very lucky to not marry that man”. Vinnie takes a sip of her coffee. Vinnie doesn’t say anything, just takes an agitated sip of coffee. Ed brings back the portable radio to teach that whippersnapper Bragg a lesson. Ed can’t find it in a whole three seconds so Bragg laughs at him. Bragg says he can’t wait. Gunsmoke is on in five minutes. Everyone else gets excited and leaves the table. Apparently it’s only polite to ditch the table for television but not to grab a radio. The only people left at the table are Ed, Mr. Professor and Vinnie. Ed says he’s not surprised he can’t pick anything up on such a dinky little radio. Hey, it’s not the size of the radio that counts but the size of the antenna! Mr. Professor asks if Ed can remember the name of the station and Ed replies that he heard the DJ mention a WPDA (WPublicDisplayofAffection?) call sign then suggests they go up to his room to listen. Mr. Professor readily agrees. Making Ed’s earlier “hate to tear you away from the tv” comment earlier even more of a jerk thing to say. Obviously Mr. Professor likes the oldies just as much as Ed. Mr. Professor asks Vinnie to join them, saying that he’d really like to hear that program. Vinnie gives him a smile even though she looked a bit sad before.

Upstairs Ed is trying to get the radio tuned into the same station but not having any luck. Mr. P and Vinnie knock on the door and enter the room. Mr. P is looking somewhat excited and Vinnie looks a little nervous. Ed says he can’t seem to get it tuned in. Mr. P suggests that perhaps they’re having technical difficulties and suggests calling the station. Ed thinks that’s a great idea and rushes off to call. Wow. That’s straight up dedicated! I think I would have just shrugged it off and said let’s try it again tomorrow. Ed is way too excited by this and calls information to get the number for the WPDA station. Good luck with that, buddy. I couldn’t get a business address because apparently the town I was in doesn’t exist….go figure. Ed almost giggles with Mr. P and they reminisce about Major Bowes who says “round and round she goes and where she stops, nobody knows” (is that where that started?). The Information Lady gets back to Ed and he gives a few flat “ohs” before hanging up. Then he goes back to his room. Vinnie is waiting there quietly and Mr. P asks what the lady said. Ed replies that she told him that WPDA has been out of business for 13 years. Mr. P says that maybe he got some cross interference and picked up another state or even another country. Ed says that the DJ specifically said Cedarburg. That doesn’t mean there’s not another Cedarburg somewhere else in the United States. Hell, I just found out a week or so ago that there’s a London, Canada (yeah, Geography was never my strong suit). Vinnie, who has been thumbing through a newspaper says that there’s no listing for them in the paper. Were they actually listed in the paper?

Ed’s a bit flummoxed but doesn’t seem too upset by it. He swears he heard it. Vinnie asks the Professor if it would be so impossible? Mr P says impossible is a dangerous word as what was impossible a few years ago is now commonplace. Mr. P doesn’t say anything rude, or act like Ed is lying. He just calls it highly unlikely and waddles off. As Mr. P is leaving Ed asks what he heard then? Mr. P just says that he can’t say and continues out the door. Vinnie tries to talk to him but Ed goes back to fiddling with his knobs so she leaves him alone and goes after Mr. P. Vinnie asks if he thinks that Ed really heard the programs. Mr. P hesitates a bit and says that he believes that Ed believes he heard them. As they’re talking in the hall Ed tunes in a speech from the White House and the President of the United States…Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He seems about ready to call them back but sits down to listen to the radio.

A day later, I’m assuming. Mr. Professor and Ed kind of wear the same kind of clothes all of the time but Vinnie’s dress is different. Ed comes running i into the tv room to call Mr. P and Vinnie, saying he really has it this time. Bragg pokes fun and says they’ll hear nothing but static. Mrs. Nielsen calls Ed “that poor man, he’s quite gone. Completely psychological”. Vinnie and Mr. P come in but it’s obviously gone again. He says it was Tommy Dorsey again, playing “Getting Sentimental Over You” again. It shows Vinnie again, when he says what music it was. So I’m guessing the song was special to them. And Ed doesn’t think it’s odd that it seems as though it only plays a few specific songs? Ed asks Mr. Professor why he loses it whenever anyone else is around. Mr. Professor tells Ed that he’s sure they’ll hear it soon and leaves Ed and Vinnie alone. Vinnie looks as though she’s hesitant to say something.  Ed sees Vinnie still there and asks what she wants. She says she was hoping they might talk a little.

He says “Talk away but don’t get too close, I might start climbing the walls, barking like a dog” in other words he thinks that she thinks he’s crazy. Vinnie’s had enough, though. She tells him if he’d stop talking she’d tell him what she thinks. He sits. And she starts. She tells him that right now he’s the meanest, sourest, most cantankerous old man in the world.” He says thanks a lot and she replies that she’s not much better. They’ve been ‘living like hermits’ the last twenty years, staring at each other and wondering for the last twenty years what went wrong. He tries to play dumb but she’s not having it. Apparently they were going to get married. He starts to interrupt but she says to cool it, she’s not trying to change anything. She’s just talking.

They met there in the boarding house in 1940 and he proposed to her there. When she wanted to set a date his mother was ill. So they waited until the waiting became too long and it was too late. He starts to interrupt again but she stops him. She says she knows he doesn’t think of her that way now. She’s just a silly woman who watches tv, dyes her hair and grows older. She’s pretty sure he doesn’t even like her anymore. She says they both are what they are. They had their chance and missed it. She says that she’ll tell him one thing that’s true and she knows it’s true. He loved her as much as any man ever loved a woman. She asks if it’s true. With a pained expression he says yes, it was true. She says that now he’s in love with what they might have been. What they could have been. Every time that year would have been their anniversary so every year around that time he gets unhappy. He wants to go back to that time and do it over again. That’s why he keeps hearing that song and those programs. They used to listen to them together. He looks very sad, almost like he’s about to cry and says he’d forgotten. She tells him that when he hears them he feels like a young man again with his whole life ahead of him but it isn’t so. They missed their chance.

He accuses her of saying it’s all in his head. She says that’s not what she thinks at all but he tells her to get out and leave him alone. After he boots her out he turns on his precious radio and there’s a program going about Allen’s Alley in Portland and the senator’s home tonight with his hound dog? Ummkay. Ed grabs some pillows off the bed and relaxes on the floor (but looks very uncomfortable doing so). Whatever he’s listening to he finds insanely funny and I don’t get it. It’s senator Cleghorn and when he eats crackers in bed he only eats Georgia crackers? I dunno, I guess I’m just another young whippersnapper raised on too much tv.

Either way, his pretend radio has got him in a good mood. He brings in the groceries rather cheerfully. Mr. Professor asks if Ed would like to play a game of checkers but Ed says no way! His programs are starting soon. Vinnie asks if he’d like some lemonade bu he says no and asks “What’s that funny looking thing?” about the tv and laughs because that’s jst too darn funny, I guess. He says that when he started listening to radio again he kept wondering about the picture tube but then remembered, it’s all in his head! Imagination is wonderful, you know the rest. Vinnie and Mr. P share an odd look as Ed heads upstairs to listen to his programs. Ed bursts into his room all happy but his radio isn’t there anymore. Mr. P and Vinnie look at each other and Ed calls out “what happened to my radio?” Mr. P goes up to tell him. Apparently they gave it to the junk dealer.

Understandably Ed is very, very unhappy about this. I would be too! I don’t care if they were trying to ‘help’ him, it wasn’t theirs to give away! The next scene is Ed at the junk dealers, place, looking for his radio. He goes and grabs it and starts carting it away. The dealer comes down and they start to argue about it. The dealer says he picked it up that morning but if Ed wants to buy it then he’ll gladly sell it to him. Ed asks how much and the dealer starts going into his spiel. Ed doesn’t care, he just wants to know how much. The guy says ten bucks. Ed hands it over and grabs his precious radio. He also says that it had better still work or its going to cost the junk dealer, it’s going to cost a lot of people (presumably Vinnie and Mr. P)

Fortunately it still works. Ed calls for Vinnie to come up quick, Tommy Dorsey’s on. A much younger Vinnie comes running into the room and the room looks a bit different. Ed has also become a young man, as well. Well, he should be happy. He’s back in The Past. They embrace a PG embrace.

SERLING:
Around and around she goes and where she stops, nobody knows. All Ed Lindsay knows is that he desperately wanted a second chance and he finally got it through a strange and wonderful time machine called a radio.


One of the many Escape to the Past episodes. This one ends a little unclear, though. Is Ed actually in the past? Did he disappear from the future? Is he dead? It doesn’t really say. I guess it’s up to us to decide. It’s also one of the few episodes to not include the Twilight Zone in its outro. I really like the actress that plays Vinnie. I’ve on;y seen her on this and M*A*S*H but she’s great in both episodes. I like her character in this except for that last part. You don’t just give something away that belongs to someone else, no matter how ‘worried’ you are about them. Weirdly though the show seems to lean towards “watching tv for hours makes your brain turn to mush” but staying holed up in your room listening to the radio for hours on end doesn’t. Just because you use your imagination more with a radio the fact is that you’re still sitting by yourself in a room. I don’t see much of a difference.


Join us again for next week’s Twilight Zone Tuesday: Prime Mover

Curse of the Witch’s Doll #MovieReview

Curse of the Witch’s Doll Synopsis: After a series of inexplicable events, Adeline Gray believes a haunted doll possesses the soul of a vengeful Witch. To have any hope of being reunited with her missing daughter, she knows she must defeat the evil curse of The Witch’s Doll.

Written and Directed By: Lawrence Fowler

Starring: Helen CrevelPhilip RidoutLayla Watts

Release Date: 02/06/2018

Runtime: 1hr 35min | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received from October Coast for review consideration

Curse of the Witch’s Doll Review

It seems like I go into a lot of movies with low expectations because the times I do go in expecting a movie to be fantastic I’m always disappointed. And when I go in with very low expectations I’m pleasantly surprised. Curse of the Witch’s Doll was one of those times.  I really think the cover does it a bit of a disservice. Going from the cover (and title) it looks like an Annabelle clone. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Unfortunately I can’t say too much about Curse of the Witch’s Doll because there are quite a few twists and turns that were genuinely surprising and I’d hate to ruin anything. I will only say one thing. The first ‘twist’ made me roll my eyes a bit but I can guarantee you…stick with it. I promise it’s worth it. The pacing is perfect, it always keeps moving forward with no lags at all. This is a movie that relies on acting, atmosphere and mood to scare you and it does it well. I never felt like they were going for the easy scare.

The cinematography is excellent with some truly beautiful and original shots. Combined with some decent CGI the movie is worth watching for that alone. Particularly one scene near the middle. It’s a very simple shot but the way its done is just…perfect. The make-up effects are decent. I’m a little torn on the doll itself. I kept going between creepy and goofy. Although there were some genuinely creepy moments with it. There were a lot of times when they didn’t go for the obvious jump-scare and used a more subtle effect. I liked that a lot. The sound design was excellent as well. The music is moody in places and only comes to the forefront during the action sequences and never telegraphs the scares. They also mix sounds in very well with the music to give you hints or to just make it creepier.

The acting is great all the way through. Everyone puts their hearts into it and it shows. The dialogue flows smoothly and naturally. There is one speech in particular that Adeline says that I really, really loved. Adeline’s words and actions feel very real. You really invest in Adeline’s character and, frankly, I was upset with her and for her. The finale of the movie was a bit abrupt. The switch in styles was surprising but understandable. It just left off of one part abruptly so you’re a little unsure of what happens next. I mean, you have a pretty good guess but I would have liked a few things cleared up.

I would have liked a bit more information on The Witch. There is absolutely no backstory for her. I would have liked to have known a bit more with that. Presumably she was hung as a witch but how did the doll end up where it did? Was it in the same place? It’s hard to say and with the Witch having an obvious French accent I think those parts should have been explained more. Even if it’s just through the trusty “ye olde journal” source. All in all I did enjoy it. Enough to want to watch it again and possibly buy it to keep.

A Focus on the Frightful: Session 9

A Focus on the Frightful Banner

Session 9

Directed by Brad Anderson and starring David Caruso, Peter Mullan, and  co-writer Stephen Gevedon

I can’t even begin to say how much I love this movie. It’s always mentioned on “Best Underrated” or “Top Cult Films” lists and still somehow manages to slip under the radar. At the time of its release it largely went unnoticed, not even making back what it had cost. It’s a movie that can have two totally different interpretation. Two very different truths. And, unlike a lot of other movies, either one makes sense and the movie itself does not tell you which to believe. Whether that was their intention or not, I don’t know. It often seems like the best effects or subtext comes through when the director is not trying to consciously wedge it in there. As always, major spoilers ahead. If you haven’t watched Session 9 yet, go watch it then come back here.

Demons of the Mind

The main story follows Gordon and his asbestos removal company that has been hired to un-asbestos the Danvers State Hospital. From the start a few things are apparent. Gordon has a new baby that seems to be up all night, every night with an ear infection and Gordon hasn’t been sleeping well. Gordon also is in need of money as his deal that he works out with the city for the asbestos removal lands them a huge bonus but only if they complete the job in a week. Anyone who’s ever seen the Danvers State Hospital on anything would know what a huge task that would be. If not its made pretty clear from the start as they tour the building with the city contractor. For reference, here’s a picture:

So he’s basically promising the impossible. They figure they can get it done, though, by working overtime and hiring on an extra man, Gordon’s wife’s nephew. The crew seems to have all known each other for a long time but there’s a lot of tension. At least between Hank and Phil. As the job goes on things start to deteriorate and more friction occurs. Hank goes missing, presumably having run off to Miami and casino school. Mike gets more and more fascinated listening to a recording of a former patient of the hospital – Mary Hobbes, a split personality. Gordon reveals to Phil that he hit his wife and things are bad at home and Phil wonders if Gordon’s losing it. It all culminates in Gordon going on a killing spree and killing his teammates at the end of the movie. This is also where we learn the reality of what has been going on the entire time.

The basic timeline of events, boiled down, is this:

After receiving the contract Gordon buys his wife some flowers to celebrate. From the way they both look it looks like parenting and bills have been pretty rough lately. After he walks in the door they talk and then he accidentally gets boiling water spilled on his leg. This causes him to snap and he murders his family.

The next day Gordon goes to work, having blocked out the events of the previous day. He remembers having hit his wife and he thinks that he’s been sleeping in his truck ever since. Gordon’s really been sleeping in the Danvers hospital as clues show. Things start getting a little strange and tensions among the team run high. Hank and Phil, in particular have issues. Hank is ‘living with Phil’s ex-girlfriend but doesn’t really seem to care about her, he just likes that it annoys Phil. Phil, from the start, has been trying to get Hank booted off the team and replaced with a much more dependable man. Gordon refuses which makes Phil irritated. Their equipment also takes some damage (at some point, it’s not really clear when this happens) and Gordon sees Phil talking to two shady looking characters. Shortly after this, Hank doesn’t show up fr work. Phil calls Hank’s girlfriend Amy, who tells Phil that Hank broke up with her and is heading to Miami for casino school. Gordon becomes suspicious of Phil because he saw him talking to the two guys and nobody else heard the conversation between Phil and Amy, they only heard Phil’s side of it. Phil and Amy, however, are telling the truth. Hank, during an asbestos check has found a cache of gold, old coins and other valuables. So, knowing he couldn’t smuggle it out with the team there, he came back later that night and was attacked by Gordon. One of the clues that Gordon is actually living in the hospital is the jar of peanut butter that Hank finds in the tunnel. It’s the same jar that Gordon picked up on his way home from work for his wife. Gordon becomes increasingly paranoid and suspicious of Phil. After Gordon confesses to Phil that he hit his wife (in his mind) Phil thinks that Gordon is cracking under the pressure and is worried that they’ll lose their bonus if they don’t hire on some outside help, which Gordon has been very resistant to. Mike and Gordon’s nephew are kind of in the background for some of the movie. Mike has become fascinated with a recording from a former patient there. Mary Hobbes. She was committed for Multiple Personality Disorder and the tape is her recounting of the events that led up to her mind fracturing and being committed. The doctor continually tries to get Mary to talk about a mysterious ‘other’ personality named Simon. We hear her story threaded through the events of the movie.

At the climax Jeff finds Hank wandering around, lobotomized. As everything starts falling apart Gordon snaps and murders his entire crew. We (the audience) finally get to see the events as they really transpired. Much of what we have seen is real. It’s when we’re with Gordon, which is most of the time, that reality is skewed. Throughout the movie it has shown him trying to call his wife repeatedly, begging to come home and apologizing. Later we find out that the phone was broken the whole time.

Split Personality

One thing this movie does, and does well, is setting up the characters. We see Phil as suspicious right along with Gordon. His actions seem shady and with the hatred that he displays towards Hank it’s pretty believable that he might have killed him, or hired others to do so. All of the parts are very well acted, making you that much more interested in them. My personal favorite was Mike. I could definitely see myself getting absorbed in listening to old patient tapes and records. Plus, when things start getting heated between Gordon and Phil he just nopes out of the situation and goes back to listening to his tapes. The nephew, Jeff, is also a great character. At first he seems like your basic mullet-headed doofball but there’s a very touching scene between him and his uncle Gordon. It was a very nice touch and gives Jeff a little depth without going cheesy. Their conversation sounds very real. After Hank telling him that Gordon really needs the money Jeff goes to Gordon to talk to him and reassures him that he’ll work his hardest for him. It’s a very nice scene.

There are two ways that you can read this movie. The simple reading is Gordon, under pressure to be a father, pay the bills and keep his business afloat, snaps. But…then there’s Simon.

Mary Hobbes

Mary Hobbes is the patient we learn about through the tapes. Another part that’s so well-written. You get invested in a character you don’t even see. We listen with Mike to Mary’s story. It’s a little fragmentary but the gist of it is that one evening Mary Hobbes was frightened by her brother, Peter. She fell and cut her chest very badly on her china doll. To get even with him, ‘Simon’ through Mary (or with her complaisance) stabbed her brother to death and then killed the rest of the family.

During these tape sessions Mary’s personality shifts between her, a male personality named ‘Billy’, a childlike personality named ‘The Princess’ and a mysterious ‘other’ personality named Simon. The doctor keeps asking to speak to Simon but Mary (and her other personalities) are very resistant to this. It becomes clear, once Simon is introduced, that he is not one of Mary’s personalities. His voice is very different, as is his attitude. He is creepy. So, so creepy. Whoever voiced him (I’ll get to that later) did an excellent job. He’s creepy without descending into Bond villain territory.

Everything is so on-key with this movie. The acting is great, the story is tight and you can have two explanations without the movie really telling you what to think. There is one scene that slightly tips its hand towards the supernatural but even that is very minor so people preferring the ‘psychotic break’ narrative can easily brush it off as Gordon’s mind breaking down. But is he?

Simon

Simon, to me, tips it to the supernatural. As he’s presented ‘through’ Mary he seems much different than her other personalities. He’s much more calm and collected. The scene I was referring to above as slightly tipping its hand into the supernatural is near the beginning. Gordon and Phil are getting a tour through Danvers to estimate the time and work involved. During the tour you can clearly hear a voice say “Hello, Gordon”. Later it’s revealed to be Simon’s voice. It’s unclear in the movie whether or not Gordon actually hears it or not. He seems kind of zoned out when the voice speaks but he doesn’t really react to it. During the end sequence, as Simon is talking to the doctor on the tape the doctor asks why he did it. And Simon replies “Because Mary let him, they always do” and the ‘personality’claims that she wanted to do it. He also says that he lives in “the sick and the wounded”. Which Gordon certainly is. It’s the only overtly supernatural thing that happens in the movie. But, to me, it points to an outside intelligence taking advantage of a person’s broken psyche.

The Ending

I prefer the supernatural explanation but then, I usually do. You can read it either way you want which is what makes it great. There was an alternate ending and sub-plot concerning a homeless woman who had been staying there and who witnessed everything but viewers found it confusing with many of them thinking that the woman was Mary Hobbes. I’m personally glad they changed it because viewing things through her perspective rather than Gordon’s really takes away the emotional impact of the final few scenes. That is another area that the movie does very well. We hear enough to know what happened at Gordon’s house (and just hearing it is chilling enough) but that’s it. The director didn’t feel the need to show us every gruesome detail. I can honestly say this is one of the only movies that I’ve felt any kind of sympathy for a child murderer. I think this is due to Peter Mullens’ powerful acting throughout. He really makes you feel for Gordon throughout. No mean feat to pull off, finding out what you do about Gordon and what actually happened. The final scenes of him sitting alone in the hospital, speaking into a broken telephone and begging for forgiveness from his wife are very, very powerful.

Final Thoughts and a Bit of Trivia

This is the area where I stick any other thoughts that pop into my head but don’t really fit anywhere else.

I always found it funny that they’re supposed to be working overtime, trying to get this done but almost every scene is them taking a break.

One of the reasons that I watched the movie was the picture on the cover. Looking at it I noticed that it seemed really familiar…Then I played Silent Hill 3 again and realized where I had seen it before.

Apparently Team Silent liked Session 9. Or, at the minimum liked the image. The plot for Silent Hill 2 may have also been inspired a bit by this movie. It’s different in tone but there are similarities.

The movie also features two CSI actors, David Caruso (Phil) and Paul Guilfoyle (Bill Griggs, the guy who hires them. David Caruso was on CSI: Miami and Paul Guilfoyle is on CSI: Vegas.

It was filmed at the Danvers State Hospital. One of the few remaining Kirkbride buildings. The other is the Traverse City State Hospital which has since been converted into apartments and shops and office space.

I liked that it left it a bit open for interpretation. It does seem to lean toward the supernatural but ‘Simon’ could be in Gordon’s head. I personally think that Simon is either an evil ghost or demonic presence that feeds off of fear and pain. Gordon was just emotionally low enough for Simon to worm his way in.


So let me know what you guys think of the movie. Do you think Simon was an evil entity or Gordon’s bruised and battered psyche? Did you like it? Hate it? We’d love to hear about it!

Tortured Souls by Linda Cadose #BookReview

Title: Tortured Souls: The House on Wellfleet Bluffs | Authors: Linda Cadose, Julie A. Gerber, and M.M. Hudson| Pub. Date: 04/25/2016 | Pages: 124 | Genre: Haunted House Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 2 out of 5 | Source: Self-Purchased


Tortured Souls: The House on Wellfleet Bluffs

In some towns, the past is easily forgotten. Not in Wellfleet Bluffs. Lynne and Jason buy their dream house online and quickly move to the quaint little town. After unexplained events send them looking for answers, will they become a forgotten part of history or will they find the answers and help the ghosts of the past find peace?

Tortured Souls: The House on Wellfleet Bluffs Review

I was drawn to Tortured Souls because of the cover and the title. The cover is beautiful. It has an eerie, misty quality to it. Tortured Souls also sounded like it might be a decent haunted house read. The story itself, however, is all over the place. When I saw that it had multiple contributors it made a little more sense to me. Because that’s what it feels like. There are separate stories going on that never seem to quite gel together.

The characters aren’t bad. They don’t become much more than cardboard cut-outs but I honestly don’t think the plot could have sustained larger characters. They were a bit ‘cutesy’ for me but at the same time it was also kind of nice to read about a couple that actually appreciates each other. Their relationship oozed over into ridiculous occasionally. For instance, the wife freaks out because they have a fight. One fight. The dialogue is quite clunky. Contractions are rarely used so the conversations sound a bit unnatural. Their reactions to the ghosts flip around as well. Sometimes they’re terrified, sometimes they’re flip and are not always appropriate to the occasion.  I have to wonder when it became ‘cute’ for a girl to drool food? At least twice she ‘adorably’ has strawberry juice on her chin and later syrup dribbles out of the corner of her mouth. I swear, I felt lie I was reading about a stereotypical anime kawaii girl. 

The plot, frankly, was a mess. I had to suspend my belief pretty hard that someone would buy a house sight unseen to begin with but there were so many other coincidences and inconsistencies that after a while that became the least of the weird. The ghost’s intentions seem to go back and forth and all around. One minute it’s murderous another minute, apologetic. It was just all over the place. There seems to be a sub-plot about the neighbor that takes a left turn so hard that it seemed like they started with one idea and switched to another. The big reveal was pretty obvious but it was also led up to fairly well within the plot.

There was no real sense of place to Tortured Souls. It felt like it was supposed to be a small town. It just wasn’t described very well. I got no sense of the area they lived in. Nothing was described. It felt like the author wanted to get to ‘the good stuff’ so much that they didn’t want to spend time on setting the scene. For a haunted house that’s supposed to ‘unsettle’ the whole town there are absolutely no interactions that imply that at all. A lot of the scary scenes are very Hollywood Scary. Attacks in the tub, car accidents, steamy mirror writing and, of course, the obligatory ghost in the mirror. There’s nothing we haven’t seen on the big screen.

All in all, it’s very awkwardly written. Perhaps with a good editor to help them out it might be able to be made into a much better book. But as it is I can’t really recommend it. There are just too many inconsistencies and plot holes to make it a smooth read. 

Flyby Five: Rock On with Our Bad Shelves

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Flyby Five, where we abandon all sense of seriousness and do silly lists about whatever pops into our heads. This segment will be posted every Wednesday we feel like posting it. This is not a serious list, nor is it a “Top 5” list. And there is every possible chance that some of these lists or the language in these lists may not be PG-13 friendly. You have been warned. -L&G

It’s probably no secret by now that I love music. A lot. Particularly rock and heavy metal. I also love horror. So when I can combine the two it makes my pitch-black little heart go all a-fluttery.

So here are some of my favorite books combining music and horror that look awesome. I haven’t read them all but the few I haven’t are definitely on my to-read shortlist. For a description of the book hover on the cover and if you’d like to check out its Goodreads page just click on the link in the title.

Let’s Get a Little Evil

The Final Reconciliation – Todd Keisling

Book cover for The Final Reconciliation

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

The Minstrel’s BargainRichard Ayres

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Shock Rock – Edited by Jeff Gelb

Book cover for Shock Rock I

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Wyldling Hall – Elizabeth Hand

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Out of Tune – Edited by Jonathan Maberry

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

Are there any books that you guys know of that combine music and horror? What about horror and any other hobbies? Let us know down below!