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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Being Human: The Road

I just finished reading The Road by Simon Geurrier and was very happy with the story and the way Geurrier was able to portray the characters on paper pretty close to their TV characters. I liked the show so much as a late discoverer of the series on Hulu earlier this year. I was disappointed as the actors left the show one by one until the entire cast was eventually replaced. I did like the new cast of characters, but still missed the originals. Rarely is anything ever as good as the original!

The novel covered a few days in the lives of Annie, George and Mitchell as they worked together to unravel the mystery and solve the problem of Gemma the ghost who took up residence in the flat for no apparent reason. Reading the book was sort of like reading a lost episode. It definitely would have made a good episode within the TV series. I'm now patiently waiting the arrival of the second book in the series, Chasers by Mark Michalowski, and hope to enjoy it at least as well as The Road.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Candyman (1992)

I hadn't seen Candyman since it first came out on video in the 90s and I had found it disturbingly scary back then. I've had it in my queue on Hulu for quite a while, so when I got the email alert that it would expire on the January 1, it was time to watch it before I lost it. I was hoping that over the years it would have become old and stupid. It got old all right, but it really stands the test of time as a horror movie.

The ending was laugh out loud funny and a few other minor scenes were ridiculous, but mostly it was just plain scary. The scares were not cheap ones and were timed perfectly with the sound effects. Too many recent movies are more sound than scare. The massive booming of the surround sound scares me more than the story. And the booming happens too often, like every time a character turns their head or touches a doorknob. The movies would probably be better with the volume off. 

I can definitely understand why Candyman remains a classic as it winds urban legend and fear into a boogeyman-type myth. It somehow makes the real world less scary to invent a legendary creature more terrifying to overcome than daily survival. The music was beautiful for a horror movie as well. And didn't old Trevor get what was coming to him?


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Elizabeth Bathory's Reign of Terror Ends

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Elizabeth_Bathory_Portrait.jpg
According to History.com, Elizabeth Bathory's sadistic acts of physically torturing local young ladies was officially made public on this day in around the year 1610. In the article Bathory was instructed in Satanism by an uncle and sadomasochism by an aunt. What a family!

However, a Wikipedia article doesn't mention anything about family influences other than the level of her nobility. Her nobility raises questions of conspiracy theories and also questions regarding the credibility of sources who make Bathory out to be the most prolific serial killer ever. While her horrific behavior was publicly ignored for years because of her position, King Mathias began seeking evidence against her. Was it because she was starting to target aristocratic daughters instead of her usual peasants or because the King owed her a lot of money and wanted a way to get out of the debt? Who knows. The article states that scholars still debate the number of her victims, her motivation and the means and extent of her methods of torture. Apparently, the popular stories of her bathing in the blood of virgins to retain her youthful appearance are probably fiction. It did say that she bit chunks of flesh from their bodies. Maybe she did think she was a vampire! Pretty scary either way.

The basic truth here is still true today; wealthy people with social status and political connections are punished less severely (if they're prosecuted and punished at all) than people without those particular assets. However, kings overrule countesses, so eventually Bathory was arrested and sentenced to house arrest for her crimes. Powers of the rich and connected are the ultimate power, not magic or supernatural powers, when it comes to getting away with torture and murder, or as Bram Stoker suggested in Dracula, the power of solid teamwork and ample financial resources can overcome anything.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stitches (2012)

Bad clowns are all over the place in movies, but I don't remember seeing such horrid prepubescent children in a clown movie. Rude, swearing and disrespectful, they should have been slashed then and there before leaving Tommy's 10th birthday party. But, traditional slasher movies require teenage victims, so the children grew to be rude, swearing and disrespectful teenagers before being gruesomely and hilariously murdered by Stitches, the evil ghost clown. 

Graveyards are all over the place in horror movies as well, but the graveyard in Stitches was a really cool one; very old, but pretty well maintained with a Gothic stone tower toward the back. What would be housed in a Gothic stone tower protected by an iron gate secured with a padlock that looks like a clown's face? The ritual place of the clown coven or cult and the raw eggs which hold the essence of each clown's soul, of course. 

As the recently risen from the grave Stitches makes his way around the house during Tommy's 16th birthday party sniffing out his victims with the help of his animated red clown nose, he gruesomely twists each killing to mirror the child's despicable behavior at the original party. Very creative, darkly vengeful and plenty of spraying blood and dismemberment. The umbrella as a weapon killing and the "balloon" animal slow kill are over the top gruesome yet funny and really took a lot of creative thinking to pull off.

Typical of teenage slasher movies, we know from the beginning who the hero is and who will probably survive, which allows for the super funny tricycle chase. As humans, there are times when we really want to see our enemies suffer a slow painful death, preferably by the means they used to wrong us in the past. In fact, Stitches' payback killings reminded me of fantasies I've had in the past of seeking revenge on those who have wronged me, or in my adolescent PMS days, simply pissed me off. Of course, common sense and compassion always won out and fantasies are meant to be fleeting, but demonic clowns, risen from hell or the grave or wherever demonic clowns go after death, thrive on chaos and destruction, kill with glee and utter a hilarious remark to cap it off.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Cadaver Christmas (2011)

If you like low budget horror movies, you might like this one. I love low budget horror movies, but A Cadaver Christmas was so cheesily low budget that I'm guessing the director used the situation to create comedy by amplifying the low-budgetness. The acting at the beginning was so bad; it was like the director grabbed two random guys off the street, handed them a script, told them where to stand and asked them to start reading. I almost turned it off, but let it play to give it a chance.

 The scene that motivated me to watch the whole movie was when The Janitor enters the bar covered in blood from head to toe, goes into the mens room and washes all the blood off his face. He reappears in the bar and his face is once again covered in blood like he never washed it! That cracked me up, so I sat back and relaxed.

Then the cop, Sam Sheriff, entered the bar after being called by the bartender who alerted him to the strange janitor. He was hilarious himself with his exaggerated manner and facial expressions. He looked like a comic book character. 

The drunk guy Tom was so funny with his bottomless flask and sharp observations popping out of  his usual dumb drunkenness. 

Watch out for university labs since they seem to breed zombies as the zombies in this movie also were created much the same way as in the movie Re-Animator. A scientist experimenting on dead human tissue by injecting a serum into their necks, only for different reasons. Fortunately, the team of misfits led by The Janitor were able to halt the spread of the zombies. Or were they?

If you see this movie, make sure you keep watching as the credits roll.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Krampus: Movie (2015)

"Greetings From Krampus"
Cool Christmas card idea! I think the Krampus in the movie was slightly scarier though. His helper toys reminded me of Demonic Toys and the movie made me think of how Demonic Toys might have been with a much bigger budget. The punishment seemed pretty harsh for the little kid having a momentary hissy fit over being picked on and humiliated by his cousins. He only wanted Christmas to be the happy holiday it was in previous years, he didn't want everyone to die!

I thought the movie was pretty scary with just enough humor to release the tension here and there. I loved the grandma character, Omi. She was strong, wise, mysterious and brave as hell. Usually, older people are depicted as helpless and sickly, but Omi was calm and courageous standing firm and facing her fears. She looked Krampus right in the face and didn't flinch. I'd definitely watch this movie again. My daughter announced Krampus as her new favorite Christmas movie, so I'm sure I will see it again!


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Frankenstein's Vow of Revenge

I love this scene as Victor kneels before the Frankenstein family tomb mourning his dead family, the victims of his creature as they lie in eternal rest, and he swears to avenge their deaths:

By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, by the deep and eternal grief that I feel, I swear; and by thee, O Night, and the spirits that preside over thee, to pursue the demon who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict. For this purpose I will preserve my life; to execute this dear revenge will I again behold the sun and tread the green herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from my eyes forever. And I call on you spirits of the dead, and on you, wandering ministers of vengeance, to aid and conduct me in my work. Let the cursed and hellish monster drink deep of agony; let him feel the despair that now torments me. (Mary Shelley)

He feels powerful as he summons spirits of the dead and ministers of vengeance as he kneels at dusk in a graveyard feeling the presence of the dead around him. He's like a warlock or a sorcerer conjuring an army of spirits to help him in his quest. The imagery in this scene and Shelley's prose makes this my favorite scene in the novel.

Shelley gives Victor some real and rare passion here. He has a purpose and a reason to live like during the time that he was studying and creating his creature. Other than these two events, Victor's life is pretty much a depressing void where his greatest pleasure is found in solitary pursuits hiking and rowing and enjoying nature. He's happiest when he's escaped society and his family. Perhaps because these two episodes of Victor's life are the only times he truly feels alive with passion and a sense of purpose, it explains why he didn't attempt to pursue and destroy his monster after the initial murder of William and the subsequent execution of Justine, falsely convicted of William's murder. Then he allows his best friend to be murdered, then his bride. Maybe deep down he wanted the creature to do his evil deeds for him and rid himself of the society that constricted his life with the restrictions that caused him, by duty to his beloved father, to remain in his empty depressing existence with his family.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Frankenstein: Victor Finally Feels the Need to Take Action

After his little brother William, his best friend Henry Clerval, his beloved wife Elizabeth are murdered by the creature he created, his family friend Justine is falsely convicted and executed for the murder of his brother and his father dies from grief, Victor Frankenstein finally feels the need to take action to stop the murdering creature that he created:

As the memory of past misfortunes pressed upon me, I began to reflect on their cause--the monster who I had created, the miserable demon whom I had sent abroad into the world for my destruction. I was possessed by a maddening rage when I thought of him, and desired and ardently prayed that I might have him within my grasp to wreak a great and signal revenge on his cursed head. (Mary Shelley)

As he once was obsessed with creating life, Victor is now finally obsessed with hunting down and killing the creature he brought to life then abandoned and stood by in helpless agony and remorse as the creature destroyed his family. Don't you think he should have come to this decision as soon as he killed William? It would have made the whole story more suspenseful and exciting if he began the hunt right after William's murder as he fails to intercept him before each murder. How dumb was he to assume the creature's threat regarding his wedding night only endangered himself and not Elizabeth. Were all affluent 18th century men that wimpy and self-involved?


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Frankenstein: The Power to Create and Destroy

Why didn't Frankenstein just kill his creature after it killed his little brother William and framed Justine for the murder? For that matter, why didn't he just kill it after he first brought it to life and realized that he had made a horrible mistake? Well, for one thing, Mary Shelley wouldn't have had much of a story there. It would have been pretty short. Instead, Frankenstein's feelings toward the creature became even more hateful and then, to save the rest of his family, he felt he had to submit to the creature's request to create for him a partner.

Frankenstein did suffer some mental anguish in his decision to grant the creature's request, but pretty quickly decided to go ahead and take the risk that he might be creating another raging superhuman killer instead of a loving companion that would subdue the creature's violent quest for revenge. When a parent gives birth to an unwanted child do they have another child to keep the first one occupied and distracted so they can have their own carefree life back like Frankenstein wanted? Pretty silly if they think that's going to work!

In fact, some parents, for whatever desperate reasons try to dispose of an unwanted child soon after the birth. Take, for example, the scandalous case of Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson in the 90s who concealed Amy's pregnancy, then delivered the baby in a hotel room and tossed its dead body in a dumpster and tried to go on with their lives as though nothing had happened. Comedian Bill Cosby tells a  humorous story of his father warning him that he brought him into the world and he can take him out too and just make another one who looks just like him. 

Human beings have the power to create life and to destroy it as well. There are legal consequences and moral responsibilities set by societies and governments regarding both. But Frankenstein created his creature in secret, so why doesn't he just take the creature out in secret? It seems as though he has the power to create life but doesn't have the power to kill what he has created.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Frankenstein and Romeo Void's "Never Say Never"


Old couple walks by, as ugly as sin
But he’s got her and she’s got him

Never say never (Romeo Void)
I thought of Frankenstein's creature while I was listening to this song recently. I had just read the chapter where the creature convinces Frankenstein to make him a female companion and he'll give up his violent quest for revenge against Frankenstein's bitter abandonment of his creation. The creature believes that a companion of his same species will provide him the comfort and sense of belonging he needs to stop taking out his lonely rage on humans, particularly Frankenstein's loved ones. 

What neither one considers is the possibility of the new creature accepting the original as one of her own and a partner in life. On the other hand, when I was listening to Romeo Void's "Never Say Never," I was reminded that very often couples do seem to share some of the same general physical characteristics. Although he didn't need it, the creature could have used this song as a selling point in his pitch to Frankenstein!

However, all Frankenstein considered was creating a partnership of over-sized, exceedingly strong, vengeful murderers roaming Europe killing humans, especially his family. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Frankenstein : Anger and Alienation

I love the part of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, where Walton writes his sister reciting Frankenstein's retelling of his creature's life story. This is the same type of second or third account storytelling used in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights where the story is written by Heathcliff's tenant, Mr. Lockwood who, halfway through the book announces that he's going to continue the story using his own words to retell Nellie, the housekeeper's, version of the family history.  In both works of fiction, we're obviously reading what the novelists want us to read; however, in real life, how much of such a retelling would you take as literal truth? It's like listening to rumors at work or at school, where the story might become embellished or parts omitted with each telling. 

Anyway, Shelley does an impeccable job of portraying the pain of rejection, physical and emotional, by the only people the creature loves and also the resulting pain of loneliness and isolation when she describes the creature's failure to become accepted by his beloved De Lacey family.

"I continued for the remainder of the day in my hovel in a state of utter and stupid despair. My protectors had departed and had broken the only link that held me to the world. For the first time the feelings of revenge and  hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them, but allowing myself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towards injury and death. When I thought of my friends, of the mild voice of De Lacey, the gentle eyes of Agatha, and the exquisite beauty of the Arabian, these thoughts vanished and a gush of tears somewhat soothed me. But again when I reflected that they had spurned and deserted me, anger returned, a rage of anger, and unable to injure anything human, I turned my fury towards inanimate objects." Mary Shelley

The De Laceys didn't know who he was or that he even existed until they saw him clutching the legs of their invalid and blind father. After observing the family from behind a wall in their house, the creature's desperate loneliness and need for human empathy and interaction brought him in the habit of thinking of these people as his own family with hopes of joining them and living happily ever after. It goes to show how people need to belong to achieve a personal sense of identity, whether it's daily interaction with the group or from a distance, to be accepted as a member. 

When the creature felt rejected by those he hoped to join and already had an emotional attachment to, although only in his mind, he was overwhelmed with anger and felt the pain of his alienation from the world more sharply than ever. Since the creature's hope of belonging to the human race was destroyed, he sought revenge on his creator and those who rejected him. He essentially became a terrorist.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Scream Queens (2015): Mommie Dearest

Jamie Lee Curtis kicks the asses of the serial killers when they attempt to make her the next victim, sending them fleeing the scene, was so great! Using the Psycho-like shower scene as a prelude to the attack was a hoot too, since her mother (Janet Leigh) was in the original Psycho movie. Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) is kind of nutty, but she was pure confidence and badassness when she found herself confronted with three masked attackers and said, "Bring it on," before methodically overpowering all of them.

Usually, I find Emma Roberts (Chanel Oberlin) has all the great scenes in Scream Queens, but Jamie Lee Curtis definitely owned Mommie Dearest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Frankenstein: A Despicable Coward?

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Google books) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I think the first time I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was in a 19th Century Lit class in college and I wasn't completely sure about Victor Frankenstein's character. Was Frankenstein terrified to take responsibility of his horrible act of recklessly creating life and then abandoning it or did he fear saving Justine's life by confessing and sacrificing his own in her place?

At the time I thought the latter was true, but now I'm thinking maybe both are true. Maybe he was just a big coward. He certainly didn't want to admit that he had created what turned out to be a hideous looking freak and didn't want his family and friend, Clerval, to know, but he wasn't about to risk looking like a madman by publicly confessing that he was indirectly guilty of murdering his brother in an attempt to save Justine's life either. 

"A thousand times rather would I have confessed myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine, but I was absent when it was committed, and such a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated her who suffered through me."

Really? I'm pretty sure he could have at least tried. His innocent little brother was dead and now innocent Justine was going to be tried as his murderer. How could he just stand by and watch it all play out? Then Shelley goes on to describe his remorse and inner agony over the whole thing. It would be different if he didn't have a conscience, but he obviously does. How could anyone live with themselves after that? But he does only to have more horror and guilt piled onto his dark and damaged soul. For someone who at first looked upon himself as a god, he quickly became a low impotent creature.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Crimson Peak (2015)

Stunning scenery, lots of Victorian gothic elements and great acting made Crimson Peak a movie worth watching again. I'm definitely buying it! Everything in the movie was over the top except for the plot and predictable story line. Within the first twenty minutes or so, we know exactly what's going to happen and how it will end. The only thing that's a mystery is exactly what the Sharpe family history is and why do the Allerdale Hall heirs need Edith to attain their life goals.

Allerdale Hall, the once stately, now rundown gothic mansion is in worse shape than the Munster Mansion with its gaping circular hole in the roof. How did they let it get that big? Where were those leaves coming from? The many constantly blazing fireplaces in the mansion were no defense against that draft! However, the corridors, candelabras and the elevator that led to Thomas Sharp's toys-in-the-attic workshop above and Lucille Sharp's gruesome burial vats below were gothic genius.

Crimson Peak was just as much campy fun as gothic beauty. We see a ghost reclined in the tub with a cleaver lodged in her skull, Lucille points out a horrid unflattering portrait of her mother to Edith, then snow piles up in a circular shape on the floor in the foyer under the open roof. Towards the end, Edith wacks Lucille in the head with a shovel as she quips a la Ash from the Evil Dead movies. These are only a few of the many laughs.

The only thing this movie lacked was a little intensity and passion between the newlyweds when Thomas truly falls in love with the smitten Edith, as fantasy bad boys do after meeting that one special woman who draws out the respectable faithful inner man with their unique elixir of love. Never in real life, ladies. Speaking of real life, the ghosts would have been spookier if they were more of a gothic ethereal quality bearing resemblance to their living form instead of the modern grim-reaper-covered-in-slime variety.

If for no other reason, this movie is worth watching for the scenery, costumes and cast.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Being Human UK: The Final Broadcast Revisited

I think when a TV series is in its final season and the writers know in advance that the series will be ending, it should be universally understood that faithful viewers deserve some closure.

After seeing an additional scene of The Final Broadcast on Blastr, it becomes apparent that the trio are trapped in a dream-life created by the devil. At the end of the scene they resolve to find a way out to save the world for real as though the show will continue with a new season.

Yes, it's nice to know the team is alive and well and committed to a higher purpose, but I still think the series finale would have been better if the three died as heroes, saving the world and sent to heaven like the original flatmates.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Being Human UK: The Last Broadcast

I loved this show! It was so well done and the story is so unique and addicting. I was sad when the original cast members left, but the new cast grew on me too. It's too bad the show had to end, but I really enjoyed how it all wrapped up. The story line never got old and I never saw what was coming. I truly thought Alex, Hal and Tom would die as heroes that saved the world. Now we know why Alex's door never presented itself!

Frankenstein: Success Becomes Failure

http://www.gratisography.com/

The ultimate control  is that over life and death, since those are the two things that we, as mere mortals, have absolutely no control over. There's no more helpless feeling as when you watch a loved one sicken and die. You stand there as they suffer and grow weaker and sicker day after day. As they grow closer to death your fear and helplessness increases until the inevitable time when you trade your helplessness for horror as they succumb to their illness and die.

Victor's mother's death was his first experience of loss, grief and mourning. He refers to the feeling as an "irreparable evil. The void that presents itself to the soul." When a loved one dies it does feel like a huge gaping hole has been torn from your chest leaving a huge painful void. Birth, on the other hand, feels like something warm and bright and hopeful is filling your chest.

Maybe Victor tried to fill the void in his soul with the bright warmth of new life when he obsessively built his creature. With the loss of his mother's love and adoration, perhaps he thought the creature would love and adore him for granting him life. Instead he learned many things, such as bringing a new life into the world doesn't guarantee that person will appreciate you and being able to control life and death wasn't the glorious achievement he had hoped it would be.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Frankenstein: Victor's Naive God Complex

Victor, still mourning the death of his dear mother, goes off alone to school and after a couple of years, discovers how to spark life into dead flesh. He becomes so obsessed with his gruesome project that he fails to consider all of the possible consequences.

In order to make his work easier and speed up production by not having to work with such tiny parts, he decides to enlarge the human frame of his project and make him 8 feet tall, acquiring all the body parts from "the dissecting room and slaughter house." Imagine the smell! After consciously deciding to create life in such an oversized, hideous creature, he expects the creature to not only be grateful for giving him life, but to worship him as its creator!

Poor demented Victor, so excited over creating something that would fulfill his deepest needs by bowing to his divine superiority and recognizing and being grateful for his devotion and success, that he never considers what his responsibility might be if the creature instead accuses him of  being more demon-like by cursing him with an unbearable and unwanted life.

Victor should have considered all of the possible consequences before pursuing his project. Instead he was in his own head where every though was only about Victor, Victor Victor.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Being Human UK: Season 4 - Annie Saves the World

What a great way to end Annie's story line! I'm so sad that the last original flat mate is gone, but Annie's happy ending provided, at least, some compensation. The implication that she is now free to join her beloved friends who she deeply misses, delivering baby Eve to her parents perhaps, was a sweet finale, as though her brave sacrifice to save humanity from evil vampire domination wasn't enough.

Even though the original flat mates are no longer on the show, the story, character development and the writing is so great that I'm sure Season 5 will continue to satisfy my addiction to Being Human UK.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Being Human UK: Season 4

I realize this show has been off the air for years, but I just started watching it on Hulu this year. Everything about this show is so well done that it's addicting. Even with three fourths of the cast changed, I'm still addicted to the show. It's like a great book where you can't wait to finish it to find out how it ends, but at the same time, you want to read it slowly to make it last as long as possible. I consciously avoid reading anything online that might spoil the ending for me.

Even though I really like Tom and Hal, I'm still missing George, Nina and Mitchell. They were such great characters and all were so attached to Annie and she to them, which was a characteristic of the show that I was really drawn to. It's kind of sad waiting and hoping that Tom and Hal can develop the same relationship with Annie that George and Mitchell had with her. 

I was disappointed that Nina ended Season 3 pregnant, but Season 4 began with the baby in the crib and Nina dead and gone. Although I'm glad I was spared witnessing Nina's death by vampires, it was a sudden loss to the show. There were great opportunities for stories surrounding the birth of the baby; is it human or is it wolf? 

As in real life, there's nothing to do but move on.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Poltergeist (2015)

I was expecting this movie to suck, since remakes usually do, but this movie wasn't bad. I liked how they brought the family into the 21st century by using drones and cell phones to access the spirits and their plane of existence.  The parapsychologist was able to use GPS technology to track the family members throughout the house while updated imaging devices caught the various sights and sounds of the poltergeists.

The early paranormal experiences of the kids was really creepy before all hell broke loose and the poltergeists busted right into the house from all directions. Maybe it was because I already knew the story, but this movie didn't seem as intense or suspenseful as the original. The parents in the remake didn't seem quite as desperate or willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to rescue their little daughter from the violent spirits as in the original. Neither did they seem very earnest in their attempt to prevent their little boy from being the one to enter the portal to bring the little daughter home. 

The kids were ignored, not taken seriously and spoiled with material things that they couldn't afford while the parents were immature and self-involved. The movie ended in an attempt at humor as the parents, back to their immature behavior, rudely left a house while a real estate agent was in the process of showing it to them. Obviously, the experience with poltergeists that almost destroyed them and their family didn't humble their self-involvement a bit.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dracula Double Feature!

TCM Presents: Dracula Double Feature at select locations. I went to one of those select locations this afternoon and enjoyed this double feature. 1931 movies were made so long ago with such limited technology, but so darn good! Movies made before my parents were born seem so old!

The main thing that rang loudly in my head was the lack of sound effects and blasting music to announce or emphasize every tiny action, reaction or emotion already being visually displayed on the screen. On one hand, it was kind of lame not hearing the creaking hinges on Dracula's coffin as he rose in the evening determined to make someone his victim or his step scraping the dusty steps as he climbed the castle stairs. On the other hand, the silence added to the eerie feel and suspense. There wasn't any surround sound assault to tell me what to feel or expect. 

There was some unexpected cheesiness to make me giggle, for example, when Dracula was making someone his slave by using his telekinetic powers to have someone do his bidding, they just used the same clip of Lugosi with his intent stare for every scene. The fake bats bobbing at the end of fishing line (or whatever they used) outside the windows was low budget, but also made me realize that this same effect was used almost 40 years later on Dark Shadows when Barnabus Collins would be stalking Victoria Winters. You'd think they could have made some improvements in 40 years, but then Dark Shadows was working on a shoestring budget and had to keep costs down.

There was a ten minute intermission before the second feature started, which was the Spanish version filmed using the same sets but a different cast and crew. The Spanish version was almost identical with a little more sex appeal thrown in. I liked the end scene of the Spanish version better as John and Mina (Eva in the Spanish version) ascended the stairs on their way out of Dracula's lair. It had more of an atmosphere of closure than the English version somehow. Must have been the camera angle from the top of the stairs rather than the English angle with the camera down in the lair. 

The Dracula Double Feature is showing again on Wednesday if you'd like to catch it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Monster HIgh Dress: Morticia Addams

Here's my latest gothic creation, a dress inspired by Morticia Addams of The Addams Family TV show. As you can see by the photo, Clawdeen Wolf, a student at Monster High models the dress in all of her unholy glory.
Even with help from my two cats, my photography skills aren't great, but I am happy with the dress.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Being Human UK: Season 3, Episode 5

I don't think I can express how much I LOVE this show. It just keeps getting better, which raises it above so many other shows that are only as good as the first season and it's downhill from there. This episode achieved a perfect balance of comedy and chilling horror, as George is terrified at a knock at the door after he and Nina abduct a resurrected and apparently amnesia plagued Herrick from the psych ward at Barry, bring him home and barely prevent Mitchell from staking him.

"It's the Jehovahs!" George fears as though no one worse could be at his door. However, Wendy the hilarious social worker has come to interview Nina about taking in her confused "Uncle Billy" who she's identified as such to the hospital attendant who catches her and George sneaking Herrick out of the hospital. No simply slamming the door in the face of Wendy as though she were only an annoying Jehovah! Comedy ensues as Nina squirms her way through lie after lie to convince Wendy that Herrick is truly her sweet Uncle Billy.

Following traditional gothic treatment of madmen and women, Nina, against Mitchell's stern opposition, stashes Herrick in the attic. When there isn't a tower available to lock up your crazies, an attic will do. Unfortunately, the attic at the former bed and breakfast where the happy foursome attempt to "be normal" as George likes to say, already has an evil secret in residence. Mitchell's documented evidence of terrifying violence and killing sprees, yet also his guilty pleasures become one more of Herrick's toys in the attic as he finds it and reveals it to Nina.

As Mitchell's scarred and broken soul reaches out to Annie's pure and loving heart for comfort he spews out a typical line of many abusive and violent partners professing that his love for her is eternal and he can't live without her. Always a precursor to pain and doom.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dracula:The Holy Circle

To protect Mina from a possible vampire attack as they travel to Dracula's castle, Van Helsing draws a ring around where Mina sits by the campfire and sprinkles broken communion wafers along the circle. When Dracula's three "wives" or whatever they are visit, they are unable to pass the "Holy circle" to get at Mina. This entire scene is really cool the way Van Helsing thinks he might be imagining the three vampires at first as they seem to materialize out of the the wind and swirling snow. Then they are finally solid and he knows they're real and is relieved and thankful that the holy circle's power is strong enough to keep Mina and himself safe from their evil intentions, whatever they may be.

He holds out a bit of the wafer in front of him to step out of the circle to tend the fire. The vampires stay at bay outside the circle until dawn is near when they disappear into the wind again. He describes them as voluptuous, with bright eyes and white teeth. Isn't it odd that the female vampires become beautiful after death while Dracula was ugly with his long pointy teeth and bony body? However, their looks mean nothing to the poor horses who become so terrified by the vampires' presence that they die.

I've heard of people camping out in the winter, but I don't know how it's done. I kept thinking how cold Mina and Van Helsing must have been. They brought firewood and lots of furs with them for warmth, but there's no amount of furs and campfires that would keep me warm enough to camp out in the wind and snow!


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Being Human UK: Season 3, Episode 1

I'm so happy George and Nina are together! When Nina left George and became involved with crazy Kemp, I was afraid she would die in the chamber like the other werewolves. Thank goodness she didn't!

It was so cool the way Mitchell passed through the door to purgatory with the poor old man that died in the hospital. Saving Annie was very brave and selfless. Lea tried to make him out as totally selfish and evil. I like how this show portrays people as complicated individuals with good and bad traits and, as Mitchell explained to Lucy in the finale of the second season, all made in God's image, whether good, bad, human or not.

Annie's narration at the end of the episode was joyful and full of hope as the four friends celebrated being together again. She said they were safe together, sheltered from the monsters of the world. Like The Walking Dead, Being Human UK sometimes shows humans at their worst performing way more evil acts than what would typically be expected of the undead.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Being Human UK: Season 2, What a Finale!

Season 2 started out kind of sad with Annie feeling a little lost and lacing in purpose, George and Nina on the outs and Mitchell's inner struggle and secret identity as vampire king causing him stress, but it sure picked up and got exciting! George tries to tranquilize his wolf, but putting the wolf to sleep makes it seep out at random times affecting his personality and causing random outbursts or profanity and violence. That idea didn't work!

Annie met some other ghosts, even a baby! She finally found her inner strength when she was faced with her fear of being tricked to go through the door, but overcame those forces several times over. Mitchell "went dry" and stayed strong convincing the other vampires to join him after Herrick's death by George. 

All of those accomplishments went out the window when Nina was tricked by Lucy and Kemp to persuade George to submit to "being cured" at their facility which actually kills werewolves rather than cure them. Lucy seduces and uses Mitchell to get close to George, while Annie wants Kemp, a former priest, to exorcise her from the flat so she can move on through the door. 

Learning of Lucy's betrayal and her involvement in blowing up the vampire meeting, Mitchell falls off the wagon big time, then helps George and Nina escape the werewolf killing facility, losing Annie, as Kemp has her sent through the door against her will. 

The exciting ending has Lucy and then Kemp track the three supernaturals to their new place in the country, where Kemp totally lost what was left of his mind and kills Lucy (thank goodness, she grated on my nerves) and attempts to kill Nina until she escapes by punching him in the balls and breaking free. Annie saves the day (yes, Annie!) by bursting through the door and dragging Kemp back with her. 

Afterward, she speaks to them through an unplugged TV hilariously explaining that she didn't know where she was but she had to fill out forms. The horror!

Vampire Daisy and the vampire Mitchell mercifully saved from execution in an earlier episode, in the final scene, bleed themselves in the snow in a ritual that resurrects Herrick with a howl of energy and victory. It would seem that the new world order is coming after all!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Vampire Defense Kit

For my birthday my daughter surprised me with a vampire kit. It contains wooden stakes, holy water, a cross, a couple of garlic bulbs and some vampire literature. I hope I never have the chance to use it, but I thought it was a pretty cool gift and now I have my own doctor's kit - Dr. Van Helsing, that is.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Scream Queens: Mystery of the Hag

Dolls are creeping up all over the place. First, I posted about the movie Parasite Dolls, then I learned that the worry dolls in the movie are widely known and available, which led to my post on worry dolls.Tonight I watched the latest episode of Scream Queens (Episode 3) in which the college students find an empty house off campus to use as a haunted house, already equipped with a room full of dolls, apparently stolen from around the neighborhood by a mysterious hag. 

What does the hag want with all the stolen dolls? Did she really steal the Kappa baby like Grace thinks? Is she connected to all the murders and why were all the bodies in the house with the dolls? Such a mystery!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Worry Dolls: Goodbye Xanax, Hello Dolly

After my post about the Full Moon movie Parasite Dolls (aka Dangerous Worry Dolls) on Hulu, I wondered if there really is such a thing. Apparently, I've been living in some inner realm of my own, out of touch with the rest of the world, because a basic Google search for worry dolls brought me lots and lots of worry dolls. There's even a band called Worry Dolls!

According to several definitions around the web, worry dolls originated in Mayan Guatemala, made from bits of cloth wrapped around tiny sticks and put into a cloth pouch or tiny box for storage. From the many results from my Google search, the dolls are created in a variety of ways, or any way you'd like them. They can be any gender, any color, any type of clothing or hair length. Traditionally, they were the size of matchsticks, but there are even large worry dolls. Large meaning they're 2 inches tall, so you can still stick them under your pillow and not wake up with a neck cramp.

The University of Minnesota even has a page in their Worry Depository explaining the legend of worry dolls, although the legend can be found on many websites. It's cool that the university has a Worry Depository. 

I could use a set of these dolls. As a matter of fact, many of my relatives could use a set of these dolls and toss out those pharmaceuticals. Christmas is coming and so are the dolls.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Parasite Dolls/Dangerous Worry Dolls (2015)

For some weird reason I've been interested in dolls lately, any type of doll. So, when I was scrolling Popular Movies on Hulu, I found Parasite Dolls, also listed as Dangerous Worry Dolls. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's a Full Moon movie, so I was confident it would be low budget and entertaining like many of Full Moon's vast variety of movies. 

It had its entertaining moments, once the dolls were introduced. Leading up to that deciding moment poor Eva (Jessica Morris) was bullied and exploited by a small gang of cruel drug-dealing inmates, a sleazy perverted guard and the cold hearted warden who had a strong prejudice against "trailer trash." It seemed that everyone is out to victimize Eva, even her aunt who is raising her daughter while she does her six month prison stretch for being the look-out in a gang related convenience store robbery where the clerk was killed. (She only got six months?) That was humorous.

Her daughter, wanting to comfort her stressed out mom, gives her a tiny box with little crudely made worry dolls, the merciful turning point. The legend is that the dolls take away the owner's worries if requested and placed under the pillow at bed time. After Eva is attacked by the inmates, reprimanded and insulted by the warden and sexually assaulted by the pervy guard, apparently all in the same day, she asks the dolls to take away her worries and lays them under her pillow.

The dolls crawl into her head as she sleeps, possessing her with a reckless carelessness coupled with a hunger for violence which she happily uses against all of her oppressors. A bloody, red-eyed doll uses a huge swollen zit in the center of Eva's forehead for a windshield to make sure all of its evil revenge is being carried out. Unfortunately, the dolls eliminated the cause of her worries for that day by creating even bigger ones for the next.

Full Moon has some of the best doll movies on the market. The animation, music and sound are really good. For low budget, direct to DVD movies, Full Moon delivers.

Scream Queens (2015-)

A horror-comedy that stars Jamie Lee Curtis the queen of scream herself. Does anything get better than that? Well, yes, because the show itself is just as good as the trailer promises. Maybe even better. A serial killer stalking a sorority house isn't a new idea, but the cast and the bloody comedy make it unique. In the first episode where we're introduced to "the Chanels," Emma Roberts (Chanel #1) didn't even have to speak as she angrily stomped down the posh hallway of the sorority house followed by her Chanel underlings with a spoiled-rich-girl-been wronged frown on her face. I was cracking up. Something about the way the fur on her shoulders waved back in the breeze of her angry stride. I wonder how many time they had to try that scene before the girls could finish with a straight face. 

When Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) orders Chanel to accept any girl who wants to rush, Chanel is presented with a group of misfits, which reminded me of The House Bunny, especially the girl with the back brace (Hester Ulrich played by Lea Michele), but there's no Hugh Hefner or Playboy bunnies and Kappa Kappa Tu has a reputation for popular rich girls, not misfits. There's no Emma Stone, although most of her characters would fit right in.

The show is packed with comedy led by Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts and Neicy Nash who plays Denise Hemphill the mostly useless security guard. She may be inept as a security guard, but she's top notch at comedy. 

Rich, useless, frat boys attempt to face off with the serial killer by fighting chain saws with baseball bats. One boy has both arms lopped off with a chain saw and we see his arm holes spurting fountains of blood before he hits the ground adding horror to the comedy.

You can see the show Tuesday nights on Fox, on Fox Now or where I saw it, on Hulu.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dracula: Blood and Bloom on Doolittle's Wharf

For the most part, Van Helsing is pretty long winded and wordy. I imagine if I were one of the characters in Dracula, I'd be inwardly rolling my eyes wishing he would just spit it out and stop rambling every time he needs to explain something; however, Mina Harker's journal entry that describes Van Helsing's experience at Doolittle's Wharf is pretty straightforward and entertaining. It isn't called sailor mouth for nothing!

The first man Van Helsing, Godalming, Seward and Quincey question as they try to learn which ship Dracula has hired to make his escape back to Transylvania swears loudly and often until Godalming greases his palm in return for some information, which makes the man more polite and accommodating. He leads them to other workers on the wharf who are loud and sailor mouthing all over the place, prompting the inquiring men to give them beer money as well.

This scene is pretty funny as he explains how the men describe Dracula's visit to the dock and to the ship Czarina Catherine to arrange his box of earth to be transported. Apparently, the captain of the ship had a raging sailor mouth as Van Helsing describes his language as full of "blood and bloom." He says the men tell him that the captain tells Dracula "...he doesn't want no Frenchmen, with bloom upon them, and also with blood, in his ship, with blood on her also." 

Stoker, by way of Van Helsing, reveals the use of swear words, bloody and blooming, without actually using the exact words, which readers probably would have found offensive if not worth censoring, and maintains the common expectation of sailors and dock workers using coarse and vulgar language. 

Of course, Dracula wasn't offended in the least by the foul language, as he was probably planning to kill them all anyway to quench his own thirst. I'll have to keep reading to find out!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Visit (2015)

I'd heard The Visit isn't a typical horror movie because it's also a comedy. I heard it's part comedy, part horror movie. I also heard there's a trademark M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end. 

IT'S ALL TRUE!

Usually, once I see a movie with a big reveal or twist at the end, the thrill is gone and I wouldn't bother watching it again, but this movie had some really funny scenes and some really creepy scenes and some that were a combination of both, that would make it worth watching again. The kids in the movie, especially the boy, were very realistic, reminding me of certain times when I was a kid, although my grandparents were pretty normal. 

Come to think of it, I was afraid of my grandfather, but that was just me being a wimp.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Dracula: The Love Story

This isn't the first time I've read Dracula and, of course, I've seen Dracula movies, although not recently; but this time I'm really noticing the love story between Jonathan and Mina. Their relationship is so mutually loving and respectful and caring toward each other, that I wonder why I didn't notice it in past readings. 

The first thing that struck me was their special shorthand that they use to communicate to keep their letters private. They must have spent a lot of time together to devise and practice their personal shorthand and, obviously, enjoyed doing it.

Then, when Mina finally learned of Jonathan's whereabouts after his long imprisonment at Castle Dracula, she traveled alone to an unfamiliar place to be with him and help him recover from his trauma. He trusted her with his diary and left it to her judgement, which he respected, to decide when and if she would read it. Even though he was ill and might lose his ability to provide for her, she married him on his sick bed without hesitation, out of pure love.

Once they knew that Dracula had been feeding on Mina and planning to make her a vampire, Jonathan resolved that she would not become a vampire alone. He also vowed to do whatever he could to destroy Dracula and save Mina's life.

Their relationship is not one of practical pairing or convenience like many marriages during that time, but one of deep mutual love and respect. They weren't just husband and wife, but best friends and soul mates.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Monster High: Clawdeen Wolf in Black, Red and a Touch of White

Clawdeen has yet another crocheted original! A ruffly white collar tops a black and red daytime dress. She's howling in style!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dark Shadows: Episode 456

I like this episode where Naomi and Vicky discuss Vicky's killing Gifford as he tried to strangle Daniel in the graveyard. First, Vicky accidentally calls him David, but quickly corrects herself, then Naomi does the same thing. 

I love the hair and costumes used during the 1795 story line. Naomi's dresses are so beautiful. She looks like she's dressed for a ball every day. She's so brave in her confrontations and power struggle with the greedy, scheming Nathan Forbes and in opening Barnabus' coffin that she finds in the tower room, thanks to the cruel Nathan. What mysteries await in the tower!

I can't wait to see karma take care of Forbes!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Dark Shadows on Hulu: Have More Episodes Been Added?

I was disappointed a while back when I streamed the last Dark Shadows episode available for streaming on Hulu. The last episode available left Victoria Winters trapped in 1795 locked in a jail cell waiting to be hanged as a witch. I thought Hulu should have at least offered enough episodes to get Vicky back to her own time and wrap up the story line. 

Then while searching through my favorites for a different show, I happened past Dark Shadows and the "watch next episode" was displayed. Sure enough, when I clicked on the next episode Vicky was on the run after Peter helped her escape her unjust sentence. What a treat!

There can never be enough Dark Shadows!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dracula: Bonechilling Biblical Quotation

How lusciously evil for Dracula to use "the word of God" as his own during his arrogant rant to Mina, gloating about her husband and friends' failure to find his lair and destroy him while, in their absence he uses his superior stalking skills to gain access to her bedroom and feed from her veins; the one person the men were trying to protect. 

Dracula's plan is to use her as a blood supply to punish her for scheming to destroy him, then making her his slave, telepathically linking her to him no matter where in the world she is. He tells her she is now "flesh of my flesh; blood of my blood," a biblical line from Genesis as Eve is created from Adam's rib. Another work of fiction. No matter how repulsed by him, she's helpless to resist. Seems like a bone chilling fate worse than death!

Dracula is so arrogant he believes himself a god or at least possessing the same power and will of a god. He believes he's invincible and confident that he will never be destroyed. That's usually a villain's biggest mistake.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

World War Z (2013)

If you want to stream World War Z on Netflix, make haste, you only have until September 30. I watched it last night and found that zombies that can run are far more horrifying than the stereotypical slow but steady stumbling type. Can you imagine even one of them running at you? They were really strong too! There were some really suspenseful scenes as well as all out run-for-your-life scenes, which were pretty exciting too. Staring at Brad Pitt for two hours is its own kind of excitement.

However, not having read the novel, I couldn't compare it to the movie, but kept thinking that the book must be so much better than the movie. It usually is. The movie seemed more like a succession of action and suspense rather than actual story and plot. Some background on Reggie and why he and his wife were so adamant about him NOT working for the UN again would have been nice. PTSD? He seemed fine when they were reunited in Nova Scotia so, evidently, the hell he endured in his search for an answer, cause or cure for the zombie disease must have been equal to or less than his past experiences as a UN envoy. And what did his wife do before they settled down to raise a family? She was pretty darn confident and knowledgeable about the use of flares, how to loot and how to survive in an environment of anarchy and lawlessness. 

Like so many movies based on novels, it made me want to read the book!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gothic Miniature Baby Dolls

A friend at work gave me these two baby dolls, but they were so naked! I made them little diapers and the girl a top, which gave them a gothic baby look. Their plastic open/close eyes are a little creepy.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monster High: Clawdeen Wolf has a new Halloween Dress!

I designed and crocheted this dress myself. It's the first in a series of dresses I'm planning to design and crochet for my granddaughter who has a nice little collection of Monster High dolls. They will make nice Christmas presents!



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dracula's Cruise Ship to Whitby

Schooners! Bram Stoker moved Dracula and his boxes of dirt into Whitby, England, aboard a schooner named the Demeter. I know I've already posted about the mysterious schooner that entered port during a wild and windy storm that would have torn apart any other ship, but when I got the opportunity to look at some schooners in person, I had to share.

I saw an ad for a schooner fest being held in New London, CT, and had to check it out. It isn't Whitby and it isn't London, but NEW London will do!


It was cool to see them in person anchored at the pier, although in full sail would have been better. I could imagine 50 large boxes of dirt and a vampire's coffin being carried on that ship. Imagine it crashing ashore with the dead captain bound to the wheel!

The Walking Dead: Season 5: Conquer

I was really afraid this was the end for Glenn. Of all the near death situations he's been in, I didn't want him to be killed by that weasely worm, Nicholas. It would have been better if Nicholas and Gabriel both got the ax. Gabriel is the most selfish, weakest loser they've come in contact with. Plus, he killed two walkers without getting a speck of blood on his white shirt. His only talent. He's supposed to be a shepherd, but he only thinks of himself and doesn't learn from his mistakes, even mistakes so horrific that he can't live with them. After leaving Alexandria's gate wide open, he was going to commit suicide-by-Sasha with no consideration of what that would do to her vulnerable grieving mind. You have to hand it to Maggie for not kicking his ass.

Season 5 was Carol's season. She gets better with each season. Carol started the season by rescuing the group from Terminus, and ended it with her superior strategy techniques in Alexandria. The terrifying threat she made to Sam was like a creepy fairy tale, only true! Then she confronted Pete the wife beater with a casserole in her arms and knife at his throat. That was great! Then she puts on an attitude of meekness and sweetness at the town meeting. 

What a season finale too! I was so shocked at Reg's torturous death at the hands of that nut Pete and poor Deanna helplessly holding Reg in her arms as he died, that I sobbed harder than when Rick and Carl were reunited with Judith at the season's start.

I want to see Season 6 so bad, I'm tempted to get cable again. I was pretty spoiled introducing myself to The Walking Dead after Season 4 was already posted on Netflix, so after becoming hooked during the very first episode of Season 1, I power-watched all four seasons. Luckily, my daughter's friend bought Season 5 on DVD and lent it to me after watching it herself. 

Season 6 begins on October 11. Even that small length of time seems like an eternity! Never mind having to wait until the season ends and comes out on DVD. A year from now?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Walking Dead: Season 5, Episode 9

What a great episode, but I'm so sad that Tyrese died. It was so cool how all the people whose deaths had affected Tyrese so deeply (except for Karen) came back to communicate with him as his hold on life became weaker. He was such a strong person with such a big heart and strong morale beliefs. Just like real life, we sometimes wonder why someone so good has to die when other rotten evil people live on. 

The graveside service was cool too because in the beginning of the episode, I just assumed the service was for Beth. But at the end of the episode, it was revealed to actually be a funeral for Tyrese. Poor Sasha, losing her brother right after losing Bob.

Do you think the dead people who visited him, Beth, Bob and the girls, were a hallucination or were they really spirits?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Halloween: Tis the Season

The leaves are starting to change, the temps are finally below 90 degrees and all the Halloween decorations are on the shelves in the stores. It's Halloween season! To celebrate the most fun season of the year, my daughter and I watched the original Halloween the other day. I watch it at least once a year, but I haven't seen it in a while. In fact, it's been so long that it still made me jump in a couple of places, like when Laurie (Jaime Lee Curtis) puts the key under the mat at "the old Myers place" where her real estate agent dad is planning to show it later that day. As she turns to walk away Michael Myers pops up and watches her out the window. Creepy!

Halloween is my favorite horror movie, mostly because of its simplicity and ability to send chills up my spine and, as just mentioned, makes me jump. My daughter likes to watch Linda and Bob get killed because she can't stand them. The slashing of teenagers hasn't stopped since Michael Myers stabbed that first girl on Halloween in 1963.

The scariest part is at the end when Michael Myers falls out the second story window after being shot several times and walks away! You can't kill evil.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dracula: Protecting Mina

Why would the men think that Mina would be safer all alone in the vicinity of Count Dracula than hunting him with them? She's too delicate to break into Carfax to search for the boxes of dirt and to witness whatever they may see in Dracula's lair, but she's OK to be alone where they've all seen Dracula as a bat flying around looking into windows. 

Maybe Stoker was an equal rights advocate who was pointing out how silly it was for them to consider Mina someone who needed to be protected from manual labor and manly pursuits such as vampire hunting. By excluding her from the good stuff and making her go to bed while they went out, they left her totally vulnerable and in a perfect position to be victimized by a vampire or anyone else, even one of the mental patients in Seward's care. 

Mina's husband, Jonathan, doesn't even have a hint that something is amiss when he mention's Mina sleeping extremely late the following morning, being difficult to awaken and looking pale and weak. Her husband wasn't around to see Lucy's symptoms after becoming Dracula's victim, but everyone else was, including Mina. If I were Mina I would have noticed the bite marks as well. 

Maybe they all just assumed she was having her time of the month!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dracula: An Evil Genius

One would have to be an evil genius to make himself so feared that many generations of an entire population of a region would be too afraid to organize and rid themselves of its horrible presence. Dracula seems to be able to stalk and murder the townspeople without consequence. The one desperately brave mother who pursues Dracula to his castle in an attempt to save her child, is instantly killed as well, silencing the only voice that spoke out against him.

Even in broad daylight would you enter the vampire's lair?

Van Helsing learns that Dracula is thousands of years old, having had direct relations with the devil himself as a scholar in the Scholomance, learning everything evil that the devil had to offer. The Scholomance was the devil's academy for everything magic and dark. Here's a good article on The Scholomance by Jason Colavito. This is where Dracula apparently learned all of his powerful skills that have allowed him to victimize the human population at will while keeping them too terrified to risk an attempt at exterminating him.

Even Jonathan Harker, staring straight into Dracula's face as he rested in his coffin, couldn't bring himself to destroy him as he lay there totally vulnerable, knowing that Dracula had plans to kill him.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Dracula: Modern Technology

Mina Harker transcribed all of her journal entries written in the shorthand she and Jonathan used in their correspondence with each other. She used a typewriter to get it done and make copies for Van Helsing, Seward and Morris to share all the info they had collected about the evil Count Dracula. Mina was a really bright woman who could get things done and use the newest technology to do so. It's strange to think that the typewriter was a new tool and that it wasn't a common piece of equipment like a computer is to us, making the typewriter obsolete. Have you tried using a typewriter lately? What a pain! All that erasing and no copy and paste function.

However, tech savvy and smart Mina is with her typewriter, she's surprised and amazed when she finds Dr. Seward dictating on his phonograph. She comments that she's heard of them, but never seen one before. She's thrilled to witness Seward's demonstration of his phonograph and is eager to learn how it works. Imagine how excited she'd be if she could learn about all the technological gadgets we use these days!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dracula: Vampires Raising the Coffin Lid vs Slipping Out Between the Cracks

One of the creepiest traditions of vampires in old movies is when they rise from their coffin after the sun goes down. There's an atmosphere of mystery and fearful anticipation as the creaky coffin lid slowly rises when the awakened vampire pushes it up from the inside. This scene was something I never tired of when watching Dark Shadows when Barnabus Collins would rise for the night.

However, in Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, the basis for most vampire tales, Lucy does not lift the lid of her coffin or push open the squeaky iron gate of her family tomb to enter and exit her coffin. She somehow passes through the sliver-like areas between doorways and coffin covers:

We all looked on in horrified amazement as we saw, when he stood back, the woman (Lucy), with a corporeal body as real at that moment as our own, pass in through the interstice, where scarce a knife-blade could have gone. (Stoker)

I kind of like the creaky coffin bit, but Stoker's method does provide more safety and mystery for the vampire. Van Helsing had to cut through the lead liner after removing the coffin lid to show the others that Lucy was indeed a vampire. Would it have better if he could have simply hid nearby with the men and waited for her to slowly raise that lid on her own?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Babadook (2014): Psycho Scary

The Babadook (2014) movie is genius on many levels. However, I heard a lot of bad reviews from disappointed viewers (including my daughter) who were hoping for a typical brainless slasher film, but instead found themselves watching something that probably went right over their heads. My daughter said it was boring and nothing scary about it. I don't get it. I was so creeped out afterwards I had to watch a couple of comedies to wash the creepy feeling out of my head before going to bed.

The Babadook "being" was so dark and shadowy with those Nosterafu/Freddy Kruger fingers and a voice like the creepy sound from The Grudge. The book in the movie was terrifyingly cool!  The acting, writing, directing and everything else about the movie was absolutely phenomenal. The grim disapproving expressions on all the faces of the people Amelia (Essie Davis) came in contact with, mostly in positions of authority, just amplified her loneliness and isolation.

 I felt so sorry for that poor family and kept trying to will Amelia to get some help. I hope this movie can be used as a tool to educate the public and others about what depression can do to a person's mind. It's not all moping around and crying in the dark. It can really warp its victim's thinking and there's still a lot of shame in asking for help, especially when the people who can help don't take it seriously, like the cops Amelia spoke to. The doctor wasn't much help either, reluctantly prescribing sedatives for the son as she cried and pleaded for help. 

The ending was a little weird, but I guess if you can't fully rid yourself of your demons, finding a way to keep them at bay is the next best thing.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Dracula: Beware the Creepy Tombs, Trees, Grass and Dogs

In Seward's diary entry Dr. Van Helsing proves to Dr. John Seward, Quincy Morris and Lord Arthur Godalming that their beloved Lucy Westenra has risen from the dead as a vampire. Van Helsing has already brought Seward to Lucy's coffin twice without completely convincing him of the fact. Now, he has brought all three men to the tomb.

As Seward and the other two men wait and watch Van Helsing prepare the tomb for Lucy's rising, Seward describes the atmosphere:

 Never did tombs look so ghastly white; never did cypress or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funereal gloom; never did tree or grass rustle so ominously; never did bough creak so mysteriously; and never did the far-away howling of dogs send such a woeful presage through the night. (Stoker)

Seward's ominous description of his surroundings as he waits to witness the unimaginable horror of   Lucy as a vampire has warped his view of the natural world into something that's unnatural as plants and domestic animals become creepy and foreboding.

Stoker captures this ability of the human mind so well here. I've never waited for anyone to rise from their coffin as a vampire, but I've definitely had the experience where my mood has unnaturally altered my perception of normally innocuous things that we barely notice under normal circumstances. Has this ever happened to you?




Saturday, September 5, 2015

Dracula: Van Helsing Breaks into Lucy's Coffin

Dr. Van Helsing was certain that Lucy Westenra had risen from the dead as a vampire and she was what the neighborhood children referred to as "The Bloofer Lady" and wanted to prove his theory to Dr. Seward by taking him to the Westenra family tomb and opening Lucy's coffin.

The Collins mausoleum on the original Dark Shadows TV show is similar to the description in Dr. Seward's journal entry of the Westenra tomb with the creaky door and Van Helsing reading the coffin plates to find Lucy's coffin:

Then he fumbled in his bag, and taking out a matchbox and a piece of candle, proceeded to make a light. The tomb in the daytime, and when wreathed with fresh flowers, had looked grim and gruesome enough; but now, some days afterwards, when the flowers hung lank and dead, their whites turning to rust and their greens to browns; when the spider and the beetle had resumed their accustomed dominance; where time-discoloured stone, and dust-encrusted mortar, and rusty, dank iron and tarnished brass, and clouded silver-plating gave back the feeble glimmer of a candle, the effect was more miserable and sordid that could have been imagined. (Stoker)

Isn't that great imagery? The dust and rust and creaking iron gate, the dead flowers, the empty coffin!

Dracula: The Bloofer Lady

How times have changed! According to the "Westminster Gazette" in Dracula young children have been wandering away from their homes or not coming home from playing on the heath. A couple of them go missing for the entire night, not returning home until morning. Even after their return home with bite marks on their necks and explain that they were lured away by the "Bloofer Lady," people make light of it. The neighborhood children make a game pretending to be the Bloofer Lady and lure little children away from their homes. Adults find this amusing and play the Bloofer Lady at outdoor performances.

Under the circumstances, don't you think people would be watching their kids a little closer and not allowing them outdoors after sundown and teaching them not to talk to strangers? If that happened now parents would be imprisoning their kids in their homes, barely allowing them out to go to school.

Apparently not, because later the same day the Gazette reports another pale child had been discovered that morning under a bush on a remote side of Hampstead Heath. Did the Bloofer Lady, (who we learn is Lucy Westenra risen from the dead) lure them away with her vampire powers or a sweet treat?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Being Human (UK) Season 1, Episode 1

Being Human (UK) was ranked the #2 best vampire TV show in an article on metacritic.com so as I had a craving for vampires, I found it on Hulu and watched the first episode. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was listed as #1, but I've already seen all the episodes of Buffy; not recently, but I've seen them. I was tempted to watch them all again because I love that show, but I need to expand my horizons and try new things. 

The first episode of Being Human (UK) is really good and, like The Walking Dead, drew me right in, so I'll definitely watch the remaining 35 episodes. I didn't think it was that scary until I left the room to use the bathroom and expected werewolves and vampires to jump out of the dark corners of the house and accost me on my way by. Obviously, I thought wrong! The most horrific scene was when Annie watched George transform into a werewolf. It seemed so realistic and the expression on her face when the wolf came toward her when she called his name made it even more frightening.

The comedy balances out the horror, sadness and regret that goes along with being dead people trying to live a "normal" human life alongside live humans. George's nervous response to Owen the landlord, and ghost roommate Annie's fiance, when he asked George to explain the noise upstairs was hilarious. The writing and the acting in this show is really good. I hope the rest of the series is just as good as the first episode!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

After all these years, I finally watched Sleepy Hollow! Better late than never to see a movie where Johnny Depp is so cute that it really doesn't matter what the movie is about. However, the movie was really entertaining, more comedy than horror. With Tim Burton's direction Sleepy Hollow was darkly charming like Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, etc.

Right away I observed that the story took place in the same time period that Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights was set. What a cool coincidence! Even though the two stories took place on opposite shores of the Atlantic, seeing the settings and costumes made me wonder if Catherine Earnhart Linton's dresses were similar to those of Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson). Lady Van Tassel's evil vengeful machinations made Heathcliff''s seem like a spoiled school boy's tantrum. 

Christopher Walken is so cool and I had no idea he was in it, let alone as the crazy Hessian killer who became the headless horseman! That was like hot fudge topping on my ice cream with Christopher Lee on top.

Sleepy Hollow was a really good movie that was worth the wait. What other good movies from the 90s did I miss?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dracula: Lucy's Funeral Flowers

Lucy's youth and beauty is restored after her body is attended to by the undertaker in such an amazing restoration that Dr. Seward and her fiance Arthur can hardly believe that she's dead. Only Dr. Van Helsing knows the gruesome secret of her unnatural transformation. As they leave her coffin where she's swathed in drapery and decorated with lilies, roses and garlic flowers, Dr. Seward writes in his journal:

"Van Helsing did not go to bed at all. He went to and fro as if patrolling the house and was never out of sight of the room where Lucy lay in her coffin, strewn with the wild garlic flowers, which sent, through the odour of lily and rose, a heavy, overpowering smell into the night."

Earlier in Dr. Seward's journal when he reports that Lucy's beauty and youth have returned as she lay in her coffin, Van Helsing lifts the sheet away from her mouth to lay his gold cross over her lips. The mention of the sheet reminded me of the drapery mentioned in Catherine Earnshaw Linton's funeral arrangements when Nelly arranges it around her face in Wuthering Heights.

Mostly the visualization of all the flowers in the candle lit room with young beautiful Lucy's corpse in the coffin and then the strong odor of the garlic overpowering the scents of lilies and roses is so intense, I can almost smell it myself. Stoker's strong description of the scent of flowers and garlic, without using words, points out to the reader that there is absolutely no natural odor of decomposition, which is what the flowers are used traditionally to mask. Regardless of the beauty and aroma in the room, there's something very mysterious and unnatural as well.

Black Sunday (1960)

Black Sunday (La maschera del demonio (original title)) is an Italian horror movie from 1961, directed by the great Mario Bava. It's dubbed in English, so no subtitles to read. This movie went from campy to scary and back again. The beginning lays out the history of a witch trial in the 17th century, which is a good story in itself, and then fast forwards to the 19th century where the descendants of the witch have an underlying feeling of gloom and doom that they can't understand until all hell breaks loose.

There are bats, fog, a creepy castle with a crypt beneath an abandoned chapel, vampires rising from the dead and corpses turning up all over the place. The scenery, atmosphere and story were creepy and well done, but the dialogue and acting in some scenes was so over-the-top dramatic that it was funny. It's a scary movie with little hope for a happy ending as the young Dr. Gorobec (John Richardson) tries to get to the bottom of the horrific happenings. 

Then enters the priest. He's not much of a talker as he listens to the young doctor rant about all the freaky events at the castle and his desire to save the beautiful princess, played by the wonderful Barbara Steele (in a dual role as Asa the witch). As the doctor speaks, the priest wears this odd half smile the entire time with his buggy eyes and cheap wig. I laughed out loud during the conversation:

Dr Gorobec: The maid's daughter claimed to have seen Dr. Kruvajan get in the carriage to come to the castle. It wasn't the castle's driver though. The driver resembled the man in the portrait at the castle.

Priest: The portrait that hangs by the fireplace?

Dr Gorobec: Yes.

Priest: The portrait of the man who died 200 years ago?

Dr Gorobec: Yes. What's so special about the man in the portrait?

Priest: (His eyes seem to get even bigger) Nothing.

Ha!

However, the odd priest was instrumental in helping to rid the castle of the evil curse, but he was a weird one! You can check this movie out on Netflix.