Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Worth a Thousand Words: Last Leaf Left

Last Leaf Left
taken by Remo Savisaar

Halloween Lagniappe: When the Night Wind Howls

From Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan.
When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls, and the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds, sail over the midnight skies –
When the footpads quail at the night-bird's wail, and black dogs bay at the moon,
Then is the spectres' holiday – then is the ghosts' high-noon!

Ha! ha!
For then is the ghosts' high-noon!

As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees, and the mists lie low on the fen,
From grey tomb-stones are gathered the bones that once were women and men,
And away they go, with a mop and a mow, to the revel that ends too soon,
For cockcrow limits our holiday – the dead of the night's high-noon!

Ha! ha!
For then is the ghosts' high-noon!

And then each ghost with his ladye-toast to their churchyard beds takes flight,
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps, and a grisly grim "good-night";
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell rings forth its jolliest tune,
And ushers in our next high holiday – the dead of the night's high-noon!

Ha! ha!
For then is the ghosts' high-noon!

Julie's lost her voice but luckily Scott already read the Halloween story for us.

One of my favorite creepy stories, The Judge's House by Bram Stoker, is read for Forgotten Classics podcast by Scott Danielson. And he does a wonderful job of it! Go listen!

The Perfect Halloween Cocktail?

Possibly ... if you want to be one of the walking dead. Zombies this way, at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

The Real Estate Agent and the Haunted House

A little something to get you in the mood for Halloween ... no jump scenes, just humor.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Worth a Thousand Words: St. James Church Cemetery

St. James Church Or Goose Creek Church And Cemetery, 1872 Engraving
Deliciously spooky!

Halloween Lagniappe: H.P. Lovecraft

Through all this horror my cat stalked unperturbed. Once I saw him monstrously perched atop a mountain of bones, and wondered at the secrets that might lie behind his yellow eyes.
H.P. Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls
Another of my favorite horror authors chimes in for Halloween from one of my favorite of his stories. A lesser tale, but still a good 'un.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Lagniappe: Edgar Allen Poe

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe
Friday is Halloween. Of course, we've got a Poe quote here. I'd be remiss not to.

Worth a Thousand Words: A Lane

John Atkinson Grimshaw, A Lane
John Atkinson Grimshaw's work all seems wonderfully gloomy, which is perfect for this time of year. Who is that figure in the moonlight, dwarfed by the trees and sky? An innocent traveler out late? Someone sinister? Someone in need? We are left to wonder.

Halloween is coming ...

... and Doug Savage is ready with a week's worth of Halloween cartoons coming up at Savage Chickens.


Friday, October 24, 2014

In an attempt to make the best zombie movie ever ...

... Julie and Scott meet their friends at the train station late at night to film a Big Scene. It gets crazy after that. If it wasn't for Tam, their explosives expert, they'd have been in a real mess.

We discuss Scott's movie choice, Super 8, written and directed by J.J. Abrams, at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

In which we go camping and encounter a terrifying trio at the Wailing Well.

An M.R. James classic ghost story (with Boy Scouts!), read for us by Scott Danielson and awaiting your listening pleasure at Forgotten Classics.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2014 Ladies' Horror Film Fest Report

This isn't every movie we tried because some movies ran into technical or other difficulties (Shaun of the Dead had accents too strong for Mom to understand but we couldn't get the captioning on her tv to work right, for example). Some she just didn't like so we quit watching after 15 or 20 minutes.

We also took a leisurely attitude. Sometimes we did outside activities like cutting out quilting materials for Mom or making a cake or sitting by the ocean for a lovely dinner. And so forth. Such are the joys of homegrown film festivals!

The ratings below reflect my own opinion and not those of my fellow viewers. Also, don't miss below for What We Learned!

It was a blast overall and I highly recommend such festivals to any movie-loving family! In fact, we were already beginning a list for the next film fest (not horror based) before we left.

FRIDAY

Halloween 1978

★★★★★

Part of the horror film fest that my mother, oldest daughter and I had over the weekend. We watched my mother's copy. Yeah. You read that right. I told you she was a horror film fan, which was confirmed when she said she watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to see why a friend liked it. Bottom line, she was surprised that it was so funny.

My daughter and I hadn't seen Halloween before. Loved it! There is one scene that suddenly brought the whole thing into focus and made me embrace it ... you know what I'm talking about, probably. It involves a gravestone and a pumpkin ... Truly a classic horror film that was delightful in its simplicity.

Poltergeist 1982

★★★

The second of our ladies' horror film fest (Mom, daughter Hannah, and me). This did not age as well as one could have hoped for. As my mother said, it came off as a combination of ET and a horror movie. It was a bit slow in the story telling and as a look back at that particular style I could appreciate it. However, the second ending was too much and I wish they'd have wrapped it up more quickly.




The Woman in Black 2012


★★★★

The final film of Friday for our horror film fest. I'd always meant to watch this and I can understand complaints I'd seen that it was a bit slow and not much happened. However, we were all pleased with the sheer beauty of the film and the hovering spookiness of Daniel Radcliffe's experiences in the old house. Honestly, if you want someone to stand around looking gloomy and startled, I can hardly think of anyone who could have done it better.

SATURDAY

The Haunting 1963

★★★½

This was on Saturday's bill of fare for our horror fest. We all had read The Haunting of Hill House (on which it is based) so many times that we could pick out where it diverged from the original story. Honestly, they did a really good job of adapting the book faithfully, except for Eleanor's love interest and the character of the professor's wife. None of us could figure out how those changes were an improvement to the story or any easier to film but they didn't make the movie any less enjoyable.




Mama 2013

★★★★★

Saturday evening's showing in our horror film fest. I'd been avoiding this because I thought it would be a lot more violent and disturbing than it actually was. It had the feel of a lot of Guillermo del Toro's work, which isn't surprising since he produced it and one wonders if he didn't advise also. However that may be I was surprised at how much I really liked this movie.





SUNDAY

The Night of the Hunter 1955

★★★

Mom has been pushing me to watch this for years and not surprisingly it was her pick for winner of our horror film fest. I was not quite as taken with it. It felt like three different movies sewn together with Mitchum's terrorization of the kids leading into a slow, meditative Huck Finn turn, followed by spunky Lilian Gish showing us how good parenting is really done while taking on Mitchum. I really loved Lillian Gish's sung response to Mitchum's trademark gospel song. I can understand why Charles Laughton's direction is always mentioned because he had some really wonderful moments of staging that will stick with me for a long time.


Pitch Black 2000

★★★★

A guilty pleasure and not strictly part of the ladies' horror film fest we were staging. We didn't think Mom would enjoy it, so Hannah and I put it on and watched it bit by bit whenever Mom was taking a nap. We didn't finish it but somehow it was always there in the background. Alien monsters and Vin Diesel. 'Nuff said.






Young Frankenstein 1974

★★★★★

This was the final film we watched in our horror film fest. It was just what we needed to wind up feeling good and finding our way back into the real world where people don't sit around watching movies all day long. It's practically perfect in every way.







WHAT WE LEARNED
Watching so many of these back to back we soon learned that there were common themes for certain elements. We took these to heart. So much so that by the last evening I was made nervous by looking in a bathroom mirror

Disregard these hard-earned lessons at your peril!

In no particular order:
  1. Do not trust ethereal women in black. They are not nice.
  2. If you've seen a mysterious, masked, disappearing man and then the boy you're babysitting sees a mysterious, masked, disappearing man — they are connected. Listen to the children.
  3. If a doctor/professor is writing a paper on psychic phenomenon, do not think he ever has your best interests at heart.
  4. Flickering lights almost never mean a bad electrical connection.
  5. You are never going to get a good night's sleep in a looming house — especially on a hill — especially when it is loaded with Victorian decorations.
  6. Begin investigations in the morning, not in late afternoon when it's getting dark and all you have is a candle or tiny flashlight.
  7. Do not look in the mirror. I repeat — do not look in the mirror.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We're Leaving Town - Bye, Bye


Hannah and I are winging our way to Florida to see Mom. We're going to be soaking in the horror movies for three days solid since that's a passion that Hannah and Mom share.

Me? I'll be counting on Hannah to tell me when jump scenes are coming.

Of course, we'll also be having fun cooking and talking and everything else that goes with fun family visits. But it's mostly about the horror. Of course.

Mom's choices: Halloween • The Night of the Hunter • The Haunting

Hannah's choices: 28 Days Later • Sharknado • The Conjuring (and about 15 more)

My choices: Aliens • Young Frankenstein • Attack the Block • King Kong (the original of course!)

And a couple of non-horror choices just in case we need to break the mood: Stranger Than Fiction • Lars and the Real Girl

I'll let you know how many of these we got through when we return.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Well Said: A Lesson We All Need

It is a lesson we all need—to let alone the things that do not concern us. He has other ways for others to follow him; all do not go by the same path. It is for each of us to learn the path by which he requires us to follow him, and to follow him in that path. Let us remember our Master's injunction, and we shall be saved from many pitfalls: "What is it to you? You follow me" (John 21:22).
Saint Katherine Drexel
It is impossible for me to state how very strongly I agree with this statement.  Therefore I will simply leave it here for contemplation without further comments.

Worth a Thousand Words: Self Portrait on the Way to Work

Vincent van Gogh, The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, 1888, reportedly destroyed during World War II
Of the some 30 self-portraits by Van Gogh, The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, created in Arles during the summer of 1888, is the most unique. Instead of the usual studio portrait, Vincent depicts himself striding across the hot landscape of southern France, overloaded with the tools of his artistry. He also, as he informs his sister in the excerpt above, is minus his beard, although because of the poor quality of the reproduction below, you might not be able to detect that detail. Look, too, at the distinctive shadow that seems to be following Vincent as he pursues his creative mission.
I really enjoy the way that Arts Everyday Living blog features paintings under themes I'd never have thought of. Last week's look at paintings that have been destroyed or that have come back from the grave (so to speak) was fascinating. And the commentary, as you can see above, does more than just give bald facts. It gives context, mood, and personality to each artist and painting.

The snippet I've shared is just a bit of what the fascinating look at lost art. Do go see for yourself.

In which we sample some of the ghastly, ghostly goodness ...

... from The Big Book of Ghost Stories. Now at Forgotten Classics.