The nameless narrator becomes tired of city life, and when seeking solitude, he finds a cottage on a moor and falls in love with the landlady's daughtThe nameless narrator becomes tired of city life, and when seeking solitude, he finds a cottage on a moor and falls in love with the landlady's daughter.
I expected a giant turd. Sure, there are these gems:
"[M]y city-dried brains were again becoming juicy." (Reads like a 7-year-old's first attempt at writing.)
"Meantime Ariadne and I passed our time in a thoroughly idle and lotus-eating style." (I'm sorry, but although I'm aware this means something similar to idle, my brain automatically turns this into dirty stuff.)
But nope, The Vampire Maid is just boring, which can be even worse than an actual badly written turd. Especially after reading the Bierce short story, Nisbet's writing just seems like a poor attempt to make a mark in vampire literature. I can imagine him getting all tingly from the vampire ladies in Dracula, and then writing his own little piece about the bloodsuckers. A piece that is uninteresting, clichéd, and flat in every sense of the words. I don't even know why I'm wasting my breath writing a review, but here you go.
Nothing to see here, just run away like the idiot did....more
Now, first of all, whenever Carcosa is mentioned, the discussion inevitably turns to True Detective. Despite the plagiarism accusations (some of whichNow, first of all, whenever Carcosa is mentioned, the discussion inevitably turns to True Detective. Despite the plagiarism accusations (some of which, I think, are pretty reasonable and founded), it's still a good series overall, and Cary Fukunaga's vision as a director created the most interesting and intense atmosphere not seen in television for a while. The show's mystical aspects then led me to explore Robert W. Chambers's The King in Yellow (1895) (which I didn't finish, but I'm planning on revisiting it soon), and I spotted a reviewer mentioning Bierce's short story.
I've actually read this before. Some years ago I bought The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce (compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins) and loved it, but now I can't seem to remember any of it, including this particular short story.
That makes me itchy to revisit the collection, because An Inhabitant of Carcosa is great. It's short (only three pages in my edition), but I feel like it doesn't need any more. It's succinct, to the point, without extra padding, and even within the word count it managed to creep me out and showcase the most gorgeous prose. It's also completely predictable, with a theme that is already kind of a cliché in the horror world, but that's ok. Bierce's imagery of a grey desolate place with dead trees and grass that "bent to whisper its dread secret to the earth" is wonderful. A classic example of a short story that skillfully creates a creeping sense of trepidation and anxiety. The mood immediately made me think of the bleak ending of Lucio Fulci's The Beyond (1981)....more
I'll write more when I finish the entire series, but so far the gist is this: despite the entirely drool-worthy art the story hasn't yet grabbed me asI'll write more when I finish the entire series, but so far the gist is this: despite the entirely drool-worthy art the story hasn't yet grabbed me as much as I had hoped. I'm loving the mixture of noir and occultism, though, so maybe it just takes time to get the ball properly rolling....more
I've already read the 1001 versions of books and movies (and slowly going through them), so as a big horror fan I thought I should check this cute litI've already read the 1001 versions of books and movies (and slowly going through them), so as a big horror fan I thought I should check this cute little pocket-sized volume. I knew there wouldn't be much left to watch (eleven, turns out), so I was mostly just curious to see which films had been included.
I was pleasantly surprised about the mixture of mainstream and lesser-known stuff, but of course there were, once again, the same films from the 20s and 30s that are always included in every single list, and only one from the 1910s. Which is wrong, by the way, because The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari premiered in 1920 and the shooting didn't conclude until January 1920. How, then, could it have been released in 1919? Besides, aren't there really no good horror films from the 1910s? I just can't believe it, so I must investigate this further.
Steven Katz's essay about Dracula (1931) is refreshingly scathing (Tod Browning is one of my favorite directors, but Dracula is hands down one of his worst films, in addition to being one of the flattest one about the count). Then again, Katz also claims Lon Chaney was in Freaks (1932) (he probably means The Unknown ), which is a mistake that should have been caught during editing. Not an important one, but still. Katz also thinks London is a baffling relocation for Dracula (in the essay about Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), but is it really? It was the Victorian era, an era of prosperity and flourishing trade routes in Britain. Makes sense to me that the count chooses one of the most biggest and influential cities in the world as his new home.
Dejan Ognjanovic, in turn, has a disparaging view of pulp literature (at least it sounds like it, when he calls Dennis Wheatley's novel The Devil Rides Out (1934) his "usual sensationalistic meandering pulp"), yet he seems to have no problem with pulpy horror, because he likes the Hammer adaptation of Wheatley's novel. Mikel Koven has a pretty firm idea about those who dislike torture porn: "What media pundits who got their liberal knickers in a twist over the so-called "torture porn" controversy seem to forget is that what made these films so disturbing in the first place was that they were actually pretty good". First of all, you don't have to be liberal to dislike torture porn. Secondly, does Kaven mean that despite the disturbing aspect of the films in the subgenre he thinks they're good, and it's somehow wrong to dislike them? My taste good, your taste wrong.
The thing I have the biggest issue with are the spoilers. As far as I recall, 88 texts out of 101 (I decided not to read about the eleven films I haven't seen when I realized they might contain spoilers as well) managed to avoid spoilers (and it really isn't difficult to go round a plot point or the ending). The Sixth Sense (1999) and The Vanishing (1988) were another story (there were actually a few more that I now see other reviewers spotted, as well as a few other mistakes). Ok, knowing the ending of the former might dilute the second viewing (I don't like it that much anyway), but in the case of the latter...
The Vanishing is just as powerful after multiple viewings, but the first time is everything. Everything that occurs before that sickening moment of realization at the end is of course stellar in its subtleness, but the film as a whole relies on gripping the viewer by the throat. There isn't anything that hints what might happen, so one can't use the old "but it's great to see the journey that leads to the ending, and wait when it will happen and whether it's foreshadowed" -thing as an excuse (for me, that's something that reminds me of a rewatch or reread; Agatha Christie might occasionally be an exception, if I remember the murderer), and that's what makes the movie brilliant. Making sure a whole experience isn't ruined from those who don't want it is simply polite, even if you're okay with spoilers. It should also not be presumed that every single person in the world knows the ending of every single classic film or book out there, because it's not about the age.
Regardless, 101 Horror Movies shows pretty well the progress of horror cinema since the beginning of the 20th century. The essays are mostly of good quality, and a few inspired me to rewatch my old favorites and those that I've considered mediocre at best. I'm also extremely excited to have found out that there's an actual name for films featuring older women becoming mentally unstabled: psycho-biddy (also referred to, according to Wikipedia, as Grande Dame Guignol, Hagsploitation, and Hag horror). Makes it so much easier to search for more films belonging to the subgenre. Bette Davis is my queen, and she's amazing in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), but I'm convinced there are more gold pieces waiting for me out there....more
Hitchcock's masterpiece is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, and it's definitely one of my favorites, too. Reading the essay coHitchcock's masterpiece is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, and it's definitely one of my favorites, too. Reading the essay collection Kolker edited, you realize how the film lends itself to various interpretations. The music essay I had to abandon, because it had so much music theory that I might as well have been reading a Hebrew Bible or something. Some of the viewpoints were repeated throughout several essays, but each was still good and perceptive in its own way.
Sometimes film (and literary) analysis reaches a bit too deep for my own taste and might try to point out something that isn't really there, but this collection was mostly saved from that. I felt like watching Psycho again, and other Hitchcock films will also get my attention in an entirely different way. Examined superficially, Hitchcock might seem mere entertainment, but in reality the films are extremely polished entities both visually and thematically. An amazing mixture of auteurism and mainstream suspense. Although he was mentioned to have considered his films funny, so maybe there was more twinkle in his eye than you would think. I have Hitchcock's biography waiting, and I expect it to elaborate on that aspect....more
When I was a kid, there was this one time when I woke up in the middle of the night and the pile of clothes on my chair looked suspiciously like someWhen I was a kid, there was this one time when I woke up in the middle of the night and the pile of clothes on my chair looked suspiciously like some deformed monster, and I quickly dove under the covers. Fortunately, I'm really good at the whole sleeping thing, so I fell asleep quickly. I also used to have an irrational fear of vampires for a few days when I was little, which made me cover my neck every night when I went to bed, but that's a different story. I rarely had any troubles with sleep or fear, or both of them together.
Then, a couple of years ago when I was already living in my own apartment, I suffered a bout of sleep paralysis. I think I was at a stage when I was about to wake up, but I couldn't move or fully open my eyes. I saw my eyelashes flickering in front of my eyes, and then I saw a shadow on the wall. It didn't have a familiar form, just this blotch that was both oily and fuzzy at the same time, but I remember being convinced that it would attack me if I didn't run away right there and then. Obviously, the fact that I couldn't move horrified me, and I felt like I was stuck in another realm. I wanted to scream, but only a tear ran down my cheek. It didn't feel like reality at all, although I knew I was still in my apartment. At some point I just fell asleep and everything was back to normal again when I woke up.
I know that none of what I saw was real, so it's strange that you can actually have an experience where you fully believe in monsters (it's also not that comforting to know that you can't stop sleep paralysis from coming; if it comes back, it comes back). Wells's short story brought all that back to me. It's a very conventional story about a man who doesn't believe in ghosts and wants to stay in a haunted room. The ending falls flat and I expected more from the actual haunting, but the approach is interesting. It's up for the reader to decide what really happened, because the first person narrative allows room for interpretation.
It's all about the power of imagination and suggestion, and what being alone in a supposedly haunted place, with only shadows as your company, might do to you. The shadows might hide something or they may not, but the human mind is nevertheless able to change innocent things into something else, especially if there's complete silence and solitude. Also, would the narrator have had the same experiences if he hadn't known about the room's past or heard the stories about ghosts? Fear is an interesting thing, because it can suddenly creep up on you even when there's no reason to be frightened.
"There is neither ghost of earl nor ghost of countess in that room; there is no ghost there at all, but worse, far worse, something impalpable—"
"Well?" they said.
"The worst of all the things that haunt poor mortal men," said I; "and that is, in all its nakedness—' Fear!' Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darkens and overwhelms. It followed me through me in the room—"
Horror doesn't necessarily always have to have that same old dark and menacing milieu. It's refreshing to see when someone explores the genre from anoHorror doesn't necessarily always have to have that same old dark and menacing milieu. It's refreshing to see when someone explores the genre from another angle, and Harrow County has the kind of artwork that elevates the story to another level.
The use of watercolors accentuates the linework in all the right places and makes for moody and eerie - but also simultaneously kind of ethereal and beautiful - visuals. The gloomy color tones are amazing, creating interesting textures. The landscapes are like paintings and the people are drawn in this very simplistic style, almost in the style of some children's books. All the fire stuff, like the flaming haints at the cemetery, glows brightly on the pages looking exactly what they are, like from another world of nightmares and hell fire. All this matches the horror elements, because the contrast is interesting and definitely unexpected.
In a way, a simple and traditional story like this needs that extra something to feel like worth the time, because witches and curses have been explored so many times that it's difficult to see what new the topic might offer. However, Harrow County isn't necessarily what it seems to be at first glance, especially regarding the decision of Emmy when she finds out how she's connected to the past events. The plot just never seems to take the usual turns and avoids enough clichés to keep the story flowing in an engaging way.
There's a boy's skin that speaks, a spooky tree, an ancient creature living in the woods, idiotic townsfolk, and lots and lots of whimsical, dark, and dreamlike atmosphere, but in a more subtle package than you'd expect. Despite the highly traditional approach, Harrow County still feels fresh. A good ol' Southern Gothic creepy tale to read by the fire on an Autumn evening....more
"Once a psychiatrist wrote me. He had a young patient who had heard of Freddy Krueger and was having nightmares about him. I really wanted to help, so"Once a psychiatrist wrote me. He had a young patient who had heard of Freddy Krueger and was having nightmares about him. I really wanted to help, so I got in touch with Robert and asked if he would say a few words to the kid into a vidcam. Not only did Robert do that, but he did it while he was being put into, and then out of, his Freddy makeup, describing each step of the way how Freddy was nothing more than latex and glue, and nothing to be worried about." - Wes Craven
I think the first time I saw Robert Englund was about ten years ago when the Masters of Horror anthology series aired in Finland (I love anthologies by the way; film or tv show, it's always exciting to see what the next segment looks like), where he played an MC at a night club with dead strippers. At that point I had already heard of his legendary reputation, but it was only a few days later that I watched the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). I wasn't that impressed, but I hadn't yet become an avid horror fan, so I had no real knowledge about the history of horror film and what place Elm Street has in it to appreciate the movie.
I've since watched only two other Englund movies, Urban Legend (1998) and The Phantom of the Opera (1989), both of which were, er, less than stellar, but I was intrigued by Englund's performances and dedication. The latter shows a mile away, and his memoirs proved me right: he accepts scripts he likes the most, and doesn't care about the financial success of his movies, or whether they win awards and critical acclaim. He just seems like a guy who genuinely respects horror and always puts a hundred percent on the table, and also fully embraces his fanbase (I cannot even remember how many times I've heard how nice and warm he is in person). It's sometimes difficult to see behind a celebrity's public persona, but Englund is one of the few I'm sure is just as nice as he seems to be.
The tone of the memoir is very conversational, because co-writer Alan Goldsher wrote the book based on Englund's dictations, but that suits his style. He has a great sense of humour, and reading this felt like I was sitting at a diner with him eating pancakes, drinking coffee, and listening to him talk about his escapades. No dirt here, though, he only discusses his work and leaves most of his personal life out, which I respect. It should also be remembered, that being a memoir of Robert Englund, this really does focus on him and his point of view of his career, so there's no reason to expect a whole book to be just about Freddy (despite the cover).
There's a lot of repetition about the problems Englund had with makeup and naturally the focus is on his, I presume, favorite projects, but I guess at least the latter is expected when space is limited. A thick tome wouldn't have been as alluring, although I still would have liked to get a little deeper look of the movie industry from a horror actor's perspective. So, although I didn't passionately adore the memoir, I think it's still worth the read for every horror fan (doesn't matter if you're an Elm Street fan), even if it's just for 'hearing' the voice of the man himself.
Most of the anecdotes are entertaining, and it's always great to hear a bit about the behind-the-scenes stuff. Saying how enjoyable it was to work with the legendary Roger Corman is fine, but "catering that consisted of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner" or mere plastic chairs in the depressing dressing rooms are more telling things about Corman and his frugal ways.
I also felt a sting of jealousy that Englund's childhood was surrounded by the entertainment industry in the most positive way, like stumbling into Clark Gable in the grocery store, visiting the sets of his uncles' tv shows, or "watching cowboy stuntmen do horse falls on the RKO backlot behind my house". It's interesting how his parents took him to see scary adult movies, and they somehow stayed with him so that despite a stint as a California surfer (!) and a classically trained theater actor, he became a horror icon. It's also due to the brilliance of a modern musical (Stephen Sondheim's Company) that made him realize art could be both popular and meaningful. I wish I'd seen him play Judas in Godspell, that would be one of my time machine destinations.
Surprisingly, there was some Finnish presence as well: I had no idea Renny Harlin had directed a Freddy Krueger movie! I'm not a fan, but Englund had nothing but positive things to say about him and his modesty and perceptiveness. Anyway, Freddy Krueger sneaking around the Desilu Studios (where, strangely, the home of I Love Lucy was) is something I want to see again, so I'm going to be rewatching Elm Street soon. Maybe even tonight, it's already dark. Although I need to stop thinking about the story how the concept of the film was conceived. That was scary as hell. I'm glad I live in an apartment building. ...more
(A list of horror authors who have had at least one book published in Finnish.) Pätevän oloinen ja asian ytimeen menevä hakuteos, jonka alusta löytyy m(A list of horror authors who have had at least one book published in Finnish.) Pätevän oloinen ja asian ytimeen menevä hakuteos, jonka alusta löytyy myös pari kirjoitusta esittelyksi sekä suomennettuun kauhukirjallisuuteen että yleisemmin kauhun historiaan ja kehitykseen. Toki joitain kirjailijoita on suomennettu teoksen julkaisun jälkeen, mutta lista on silti varmasti hyvä alku niille, jotka aloittelevat genreen tutustumista (eivätkä välttämättä koe englanniksi lukemista omakseen). Löysin itsekin muutamia mielenkiintoisia uusia tuttavuuksia, koska tajusin että kiinnostukseni kauhuun on näemmä rajoittunut Kingiin ja muutamaan 1800-luvun/1900-luvun alun kirjailijaan/novellistiin....more
I managed to get addicted to the CW show, and although I knew the comic version would be different, I thought it would be fun to get some zombie actioI managed to get addicted to the CW show, and although I knew the comic version would be different, I thought it would be fun to get some zombie action. Well, this really isn't like the show. That one has a great pace, great actors, a fresh take on the topic, and interesting plot development.
The art here is fine (albeit a bit flat and two-dimensional), but there's a lot going on otherwise. It's like all possible monsters suddenly jump at you from the bushes yelling "Surprise!", not giving enough time to calmly get used to the whole idea of a town full of supernatural beings. At the same time, first nothing much is happening except the scene is set and everybody are introduced, and when things start to get interesting everything happens too quickly. The crush, the realization of the nature of his job, the save-the-world-with-me aspect...
The comic also makes the zombie thing too fluffy for my taste. There's an element of freshness, like with the show, but the latter isn't as lollipop pink. I don't have major problems with the comic, though. I was entertained and I might as well check the next volume to see how things develop, but I won't go out of my way to find it. The show is definitely still on my watchlist: simple fun but not one-dimensional. The comic is more like a stale Buffy wannabe....more
A few years back I found the HBO show and immediately fell in love. The snarky and (literally) rotten Crypt Keeper introducing and concluding every epA few years back I found the HBO show and immediately fell in love. The snarky and (literally) rotten Crypt Keeper introducing and concluding every episode, the gruesome twists of the stories, the unashamedly uncensored content, all the familiar names that were involved either behind or in front of the camera etc. How about an episode directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, William Friedkin, or John Frankenheimer? Or seeing Judd Nelson giving a dubious steak recipe to Christopher Reeve (co-starring who else but Meat Loaf)? Or watching how Roger Daltrey plots to kill Steve Buscemi (this particular episode has an amazing body horror moment, by the way)? There are so many great and surreal episodes, though, that I've already forgotten half of them and it would be exhausting to list all of them here. Fortunately the whole show is available in Youtube, so go check it out!
Anyway, when I familiarized myself with comics and 1950s horror comics in particular, I started to contemplate whether I should see if the comic version would be as fun as the show. In a lot of ways it is. People seem to resort to killing pretty easily to get rid of unwanted individuals, and obviously that creates all kinds of situations, where often the bad guys end up dying in various gruesome ways.
There are many similar elements, like the Crypt Keeper (according to the show, the lovely spawn of a two-faced sideshow freak and a 4000-year-old mummy) referring to the readers as "kiddies", the lame but fun puns (a dead guy who narrates the tale is a "ghost writer", a woman who rots at the end "would have been a rotten actress anyway" etc.), and the twists at the end of the stories. The different point of views work great in a comic format, for example in the story where we see everything from a man's point of view who seems to scare everyone he comes to contact with, and at the end we see why.
The differences in the comic aren't negative, though. The voice-overs of the hosts wouldn't work in the show, but here they move the story smoothly forward, giving an atmosphere of a bedtime story of sorts. There are gruesome moments but the violence usually happens off stage. We see the minced meat, but not the actual grinding. It adds more drama and tension when the reader waits for the revelation. The only things I didn't care for, though, were the Crypt Keeper's appearance (an old man looking like an aged rocker instead of a skeletal corpse) and the guest hosts. Those are just minor quibbles, though, so I can get over them.
The stories might occasionally be a little clichéd and the 1950s mindset is guaranteed to cause some giggles, but that's part of the fun. Tales from the Crypt doesn't quite fall to the "so bad that it's good" category, because this is a genuinely good series, but there is a quirky tone throughout that can only be found from the older horror comics. The formula of each tale (introduction, story begins, story ends with a twist, conclusion) might be boring after a while, but these are so addictive that once you get absorbed in the world, you can't get enough. The anthology format also allows you to have a bit of a nibble every now and then, if you don't feel like reading that much at one time. The artwork is mostly great as well, especially when the colouring is spot on....more