Sweyn and Christian are brothers, who clash after a beautiful woman comes into their lives. Sweyn falls in love with her, but Christian believes she's...moreSweyn and Christian are brothers, who clash after a beautiful woman comes into their lives. Sweyn falls in love with her, but Christian believes she's a werewolf. He tries to convince his brother, but Sweyn thinks he's mad. Christian ends up showing to him the meaning of real love.
I absolutely loved that this felt like an extended and elegantly written folk tale, which also has the kind of werewolf I love. The references to Christ's sacrifice could have been less obvious. I'm more into showing, not telling. That was just a minor thing, though, and luckily it wasn't taken very far. The violence during the chase scene caught me by surprise. Pleasantly, but it was still kind of icky. I can just hear that crackling in my ears. The beginning on the other hand was creepy and subtle in just the perfect way. People are gathered around the fireplace, when suddenly they hear a voice from the outside. The way Housman desribed the darkness when the door was opened was great. She had also taken all the interesting aspects of werewolf mythology, and managed to make a seemingly simple story into a wonderful allegorical horror tale.
By the way, Clemence was a leading figure in the Suffragette movement. A suffragette writing about werewolves makes me unbelievably happy. I don't know why, but it does.(less)
Inspired by a real murder case, where Burke and Hare murdered fifteen people and sold the bodies to a private anatomy school. Not really scary per se...moreInspired by a real murder case, where Burke and Hare murdered fifteen people and sold the bodies to a private anatomy school. Not really scary per se (more like a tale of conscience and principles), but pleasantly moody in a traditional ghost story way. The ending reminded me of a particularly unpleasant one, that I had already forgotten. Crap. The whole body snatching thing is a really interesting topic, which shows the wonderful weirdness of people back then.(less)
I can't easily come up with a more pallid place than Florida. At least I've always thought of it (like King expresses in this book) as a place of newl...moreI can't easily come up with a more pallid place than Florida. At least I've always thought of it (like King expresses in this book) as a place of newlyweds and half dead. And maybe Hemingway lookalikes (I know, it may be a stereotype, but all states have their own I guess). Somehow King makes this calming sunny paradise into a less calming one with his own convincing style. Through Edgar Freemantle he explores the consequences of a serious accident: how difficult the recovery process is, but how it's still possible with determination and the support of loved ones.
I liked the oppressive feeling. That state which doesn't stem from the temperature, but from the feeling that someone's watching and manipulating you. In that state the breeze of wind coming from the ocean doesn't feel refreshingly, cool but brings with it the smell of the dead. The characters are nice and down-to-earth, and I liked the theme of art and creativity because of its former familiarity in my life. I once again started to think whether I should dig up my pencils and papers and start scribbling. And starve myself, because I forget to eat in the midst of the burst of creativity.
Although overall this is good King quality, the story involuntarily seems a bit prolonged. I can't tell whether the balance would be restored by cutting some of the stuff out, but around the middle part I started to experience a slight stagnation both in the story itself and in character development. Nevertheless, it was a real delight to get a King book in my hands once again and disappear into that world for a while. It's amazing how someone has such storytelling skills, that I had to read the last 200 pages or so obsessively and feverishly on one sitting, because I couldn't wait till the next day to see how it will all turn out. Actual horror elements didn't get their place in the spotlight properly until the latter half, but King really let himself go in that part, so it was worth the wait. How the hell twins can be so scary? Don't get it.(less)
Unlike in the case of The Tenant, Roman Polanski's source material proved to be far inferior to the film here. Even my mother who hates horror and sus...moreUnlike in the case of The Tenant, Roman Polanski's source material proved to be far inferior to the film here. Even my mother who hates horror and suspense remembers the film, and she got chills when she found out what I was reading. Oh well...
Rosemary is a bit bland and little girl-ish as a character (like Mia Farrow is in the film, but she just had enough charisma so that I wasn't bothered about it), who luckily before the ending starts to show some sort of taking control of the situation. On the other hand, the revelation concerning the baby is a big cliché and kind of ridiculous. Levin's writing style was awkward and sometimes reminded me of a movie script.
Maybe this was due to me having seen the movie, but the naivety and blindness of Rosemary started to annoy me because I already knew the Castevets' secret. The book wasn't particularly creepy even for psychological horror. Levin didn't manage to create any atmosphere, and the monotonically told daily chores mainly just made me yawn. The dream scene and the ending were a small improvement and a nice change to the flatness. It's also always nice and relaxing (yes, for me it's usually that) to read these classic horror novels, even if they don't get to the level of the famous films based on them.(less)
Update 10.10.2013 Saw the film several months ago, and it was awesome. Spacek was great as Carrie, and knowing what would happen at the end didn't bot...moreUpdate 10.10.2013 Saw the film several months ago, and it was awesome. Spacek was great as Carrie, and knowing what would happen at the end didn't bother one bit. - - - - The story is short, but effective. After the humiliating shower scene (what a bunch of moronic apes...), the events start rolling along like a tornado. The blood bath of the prom night is referred to every once in a while, so mentioning it wouldn't really be a spoiler. The novel is actually quite melancholic despite the horrific events at the end. King's touch is delicate when he recounts the snapping of Carrie, and the cruelties that teenagers can do to each other.
Even though the story is told through multiple perspectives, and some of them in the form of diaries, letters and investigation reports, they don't interrupt the flow of the story but complement it nicely. You can also conclude, that afterwards most don't remember Carrie's sufferings. She's only remembered as some kind of faceless monster, who needs to repent her sins (kind of like what her nutcase mother told her). An idiotic practical joke destroyed Carrie's efforts to reach a connection with other human beings. And because Carrie as a result took the wrong turn at a crossroads, the innocent suffered on the side.
A lot of people may know Carrie's story already, some through de Palma's movie which I shockingly enough have not seen yet. There was a chance to see it at the local film club's screening a while ago, but I wasn't able to make it. Maybe that was for the better, though, because I was only now able to read the book, and the film may have ruined this for me.(less)
3.5 stars. I wish I could have read this back in the day of of the publication. Being the 1950s, it must have been a real shock to read something that...more3.5 stars. I wish I could have read this back in the day of of the publication. Being the 1950s, it must have been a real shock to read something that is absolutely as effective today. If someone hasn't yet heard about Norman Bates and his mommy issues, I'd be really surprised. There are certain iconic film moments that are etched into the popular culture memory, and that Janet Leigh's shower scene is one of them. The movie is better in my opinion, it really creeped me out when I finally got around seeing it a while back. Even if I hadn't seen it before reading the book, I wouldn't have been able to separate myself from the movie since the basic story was already so familiar.
That's why I couldn't enjoy myself as much with the book when I knew exactly what would happen, which actually applies to almost all situations where I read the book after seeing the movie. However, I would very much recommend this to those who don't care about the modern torture porn (in film or in literature). There really are some fine moments (such as the changing point of view, which works quite well), and if it happens that for some reason you are not familiar with the story you'll probably be seriously mindfucked. Good horror also gives you something to think about. In this case it's the definition of a villain. In what respects you are responsible for your actions, if... well, I'll leave the spoiler out just in case ;)(less)
From Matheson I have read I Am Legend, which was a decent and thought-provoking vision of a world infested with vampires. The film version of The Incr...moreFrom Matheson I have read I Am Legend, which was a decent and thought-provoking vision of a world infested with vampires. The film version of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) also offered pretty good entertainment. Plus, the giant cat was cute. This Matheson's idea of a haunted house on the other hand was mostly a bewildering experience, despite its fairly promising start. I mean, a dying millionaire gives a task to search afterlife from a scary house in exhange for money promised, if not that special writing, then at least some chills and spookiness. Yeah, not really.
For some reason the author seems to entertain this strange concept (I'm not saying this as a feminist but as a friend of horror) that extreme sexuality of women or between women is somehow Satanic, and is perfect for scaring people instead of proper ghosts or other paranormal phenomena. Right. It felt more like the author's personal problems with sexuality. I would understand if we were talking about a 19th century novel, but in a 1970s novel it doesn't work (at least for me). The poltergeist phenomena were so yawningly cliched and long-winded, that they weren't anything near scary or creepy.
Towards the end it actually got worse, because the increasingly ridiculous events started to bug me real bad. The long lectures about parapsychology (remnants from Matheson's sci-fi books?) and Lionel Barrett's nauseating obstinacy and arrogance didn't help. I would have probably quit reading if this had been any longer, but I was curious about how it would end. Not a satisfying conclusion by any standards. The king of all anticlimaxes. There was also the typical cancer of modern horror movies: people do stupid things by jamming themselves into places where it really isn't ok to go.
I should probably mention here, that cliched haunting isn't necessarily a bad thing if it's executed neatly and stylishly. You also can't blame the age of the book for the tameness, as in all the forms of hauntings have supposedly already been seen in so many books and films, that they don't scare people the same way. Yeah right. Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (1959), one of my favourite books, is not just a stylish psychological horror novel, but also a fantastic book in its own right. It gives way to different interpretations, and its age only shows in its charm. It's written beautifully, it got me to curse my decision to read it after midnight, but most of all it's a great combination of traditional horror elements and 1950s charm, with a multifaceted protagonist. Hazy and creepy, and the film version doesn't fall too far from its poetic greatness. Let's not forget The Shining (1977) either, shall we?(less)
If I hadn't had a crippling flu, I would have read this on one sitting. Tryon conjures up a sympathetic small town, whose residents drink cola during...moreIf I hadn't had a crippling flu, I would have read this on one sitting. Tryon conjures up a sympathetic small town, whose residents drink cola during a heat wave, and where kids run around in the fields and vegetable sellers drive trucks. The oppressive feeling doesn't just come from the heat though, but from the weird relationship of the twins and especially from Holland's behaviour. Actually, the twins' appearance kind of reminds me of Village of the Damned (1960).
After two thirds of the book there was a major surprise, which almost got me to choke on my toast. I just stared at the words for a while, because I hadn't experienced a mindfuck like that for a long time in a book. Surprises don't always work for everyone, but I have a feeling this will. I needed to turn back the pages a bit to see if any hints were given, but you wouldn't know that thing beforehand because the reader's focus is on other stuff.
As far as the horror aspect goes, this focuses strongly on psychological horror. A certain image got stuck in my head, and it can't be erased no matter how much I want. The atmosphere is therefore created from mental images, mood and the quality of the reader's imagination.(less)
I can honestly say I still don't know what was real and what was not. The first scene was breathtaking and all other dreamy scenes following it were e...moreI can honestly say I still don't know what was real and what was not. The first scene was breathtaking and all other dreamy scenes following it were equally fantastic. Dreams, hopes, mythology and a hint of reality mixed together with a dash of creepiness.(less)