"Dracula"

Jul. 24th, 2014 08:33 pm
lady_kishiria: (Yellow Sign)
I received "The Annotated Dracula" that [livejournal.com profile] cinchntouch recommended. I've spent a little bit of time flipping through it, and gelling what I thought while reading.

I read the Gutenberg Project edition that came on my little Aluratek e-reader, so it was a bare bones read. There's no question that it's Victorian; all the tropes are there. There's Good Knightly Christian Men and Saintly and Childlike Christian Women. All upper class, of course, and rich. I was, however, very surprised to find that Mina was technologically savvy for the time, knowing how to use both a phonograph and a typewriter.

I found my favourite part of the book was actually the parts when the characters are not in England. The travelogue-like narrative and their sense of wonder as they go to eastern Europe and are confronted by people very unlike (and thus exotic to) them felt very real.

Dracula himself doesn't appear all that much, but he's much more frightening than he's usually portrayed. For instance, he can go out during the day; he's just weak when he does. He can become a bat or a wolf. He can read minds of those who have drunk his blood. He's smart and yet Van Helsing points out that he still has the potential to grow much smarter, and stronger, and that his plans include world domination...

It's a book that invites a lot of contemplation. I imagine this is what makes it such a classic.
lady_kishiria: (Yellow Sign)
This is a documentary that you can see on Netflix streaming. It is about Daniel Lutz, now 49, the eldest son in the Amityville case. I'm fascinated by Amityville, which I maintain was an elaborate hoax. Daniel says it was true, but tells little of the story. What does come through is that he hated his stepfather George, who I gathered from reading the book back in the caveman days, was an abusive ex-Marine with no parenting skills. How much of Dan's memories are influenced by details from the movie, and how much are based in his fear and loathing of George are very much the question.

As an added bonus, we get to see him meeting again with Lorraine Warren, who "investigated" the house with her husband Ed, who is now deceased. Lorraine's crazy Traditionalist Catholicism is nicely on display, and one is also left wondering how much was the influence of the Warrens.

The Warrens are also the subject of the movie "The Conjuring" which is "based on true events." I could go on about the Warrens and the harm I feel they have done for hours, so if anyone reading has an opinion, let's talk.
lady_kishiria: (Books)
Neil Gaiman describes "Coraline" as a "fairy tale in the same way that Hansel and Gretel is a fairy tale". It's twice as terrifying too; in H&G all the witch wanted to do was eat the kids, not kill them and drain their souls into wispy husks. I've read quite a few anthologies of horror and "Coraline" beats them all hollow.
lady_kishiria: (Yellow Sign)
I went to a panel on Cthulhu becoming a pop culture icon yesterday. There was much talk of the mythos having an underlying theme of repressed sexuality, that Howard created a mythos for atheists, and the otherness of beings that can live at the bottom of the sea and/or in outer space.

I brought up the idea that Cthulhu & Co. might represent nature out of control. I've since thought more about it and the more I ponder, the more I think this might be significant. This doesn't rule out the "repressed sexuality" idea--sexuality is of course where Nature hits us hardest and most regularly. This also may be why kids start reading Lovecraft at the point where their bodies are changing, in the grip of forces that cannot be stopped. (Note that the "changing body" theme is one that pops up more than a little in Lovecraft's stories.)

The ocean is about the most cthonic feature of the planet. It's the origin of all life, goes down to unknown depths, and if we go down to those depths the ocean will crush us.

Another thing that brings up the "Lovecraft was writing about nature" concept for me is how the beings of the mythos don't care. We're just food. An acquaintance of mine who sits in her home reading fantasy too much and not getting out enough tried to impress upon me that the beings are frightening because of that. Well, I can have that by just swimming off of the California coast and being at risk from shark attack. Humans are not the top of the food chain, sharks are, and that, I think, is a very, very scary idea for most Americans. I think it was for Lovecraft.

Americans are not used to the idea of forces over which they cannot overcome, or which they cannot harness. This notion of not being in control, not being the top of the food chain, not being in a situation in which they will triumph is almost unthinkable and nature fits this bill. I was further reflecting today that Lovecraft's horror would have been much different if he'd participated in World War One. Offhand I can't think of any horror writers who did, anyone? Allison? I saw an interesting piece once on how WW1 influenced horror film, bringing to it images of disfigured humans and fiery hells.

I find human-made horror, or the horror that is the result of terrible human action, much more frightening that the Cthulhu mythos. Cthulhu and his ilk are as evil as sharks, that is to say, not at all. It's nothing personal. The violence that is personal terrifies me where the impersonal destruction of nature does not.

I am reflecting on this at a time when nature is again having its way with me: I am going through menopause. I think that might be why I've read "Shadow Over Innsmouth" twice and am going back for a third read soon. Old women are objects of horror, and like the hero of "Innsmouth" I am seeing myself in them now--and relishing it.

BOO!
lady_kishiria: (Yellow Sign)
My new Kindle is going to deepen my horror literacy. Since so many late 19th/early 20th century horror is available for $2.00 or less, I've been loading up the Kindle with these beauties:

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen
Robert E. Howard Omnibus (some horror, but I'm overall just a fan of this wonderful writer)
Collected stories of HP Lovecraft (because I'm overdue to read them)
The Ultimate Horror Collection Vol. 1 (Ambrose Bierce and Bram Stoker ahoy!)

This is enough stuff that I intend to only bring my Kindle with me to Tennessee as reading material. My backpack is going to be much more comfortable to carry!

BTW, has anyone here ever been to Knoxville?
lady_kishiria: (Books)
By Bentley Little. I'm defaulting to my "books" icon although this one could either be headed by The Bearer of the Yellow sign (because it was horror) or Pedobear. Pedobear bowed out saying, "Not too old but too scary". Chris Hanson didn't have the courage to show up.

I REALLY liked this novel. It scared the bejoobity out of me, and when it comes to horror, I'm jaded. Five strangers all grew up in apparently identical houses. All five recall a strange and unsettling caretaker, butler, or hired hand. All five proceed to be plagued by a terrifying ghost of a 12-year-old girl who does her best to incite them to acts of perversity. It also turns out that these houses have murdered their families.

All of them receive calls to return to their houses, which they can't resist. So they each go to the cities where they grew up--and meet each other, where they decide they have to fight back against the house and the malign spirit attached to it.

The prologue needed to be eliminated by the editor. It takes the reader in the wrong direction storyline-wise and it doesn't need to be there. A dismissal of a Big Question left at the end is another minus. Otherwise, it put chills down my spine on a hot Honduran afternoon.
lady_kishiria: (Default)
Just watched this one last night, and I think out of the whole "Blind Dead" series of horror films this one is my favourite. As I was watching it, I was reminded of this Victorian ghost story by E. Nesbitt, "Man Size In Marble". Here it is off a Japanese website, for your enjoyment:

http://www.lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~matsuoka/ghost-stories-nesbit.html
lady_kishiria: (Default)
How do you spell perfection? The Red Hot Chili Peppers performing "Californication" at Coachella at sunset, that's how. 91X just did a broadcast of it.

I saw the Sci-Fi Channel's interpretation of "The Shining". I'm not a huge Steven King fan; I find his works readable for the most part but not great. ("IT" on the other hand...add an S and H to the front of the title and you have my feelings on it.) I do make two exceptions: "The Shining" and "Pet Sematary" that I think are very good.

The SF Channel's vision was close to the book, VERY scary, but over-long. I hate Jack Nicholson and find Shelley Duvall repulsive to look at, so having Rebecca De Mornay (still hot after all these years) and whoever was playing Jack in front of me was pleasant. The kid on the other hand was ugly, but he was a good actor so that's all right.

It gets mad points from me for taking visual inspiration for the ghosts in the ballroom from "Carnival of Souls".

On the other hand, Wendy, take croquet mallet, yes no? Choose YES you silly white woman! And every time they had a glowing red item in the picture I kept thinking "save point"!

It's Saturday night and we're broke because it's time to pay rent. I'm putting in the 2005 "King Arthur" next. I hear it sucks, but I am a whore for all things Arthurian so I'll give it a shot. It might end up turned off halfway through, but unless it's as execrable as "First Knight" it should be a popcorn muncher.

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