Friday, July 31, 2015

Wuthering Heights: Catherine Earnshaw Linton's Hysteria

After the unexpected death of my first love a few years ago (we had broken up decades earlier), during some grief-filled reminisces it became clear to me how as inexperienced teenagers we are expected to make adult decisions that will effect the rest of our lives. Of course, at the time we don't worry about it since teenagers think they know everything. We don't heed or need any advice from adults since we think we know what's right for us and want to live our lives our own way.

Poor headstrong teenage Catherine got all starry-eyed over the idea of being the lady of Thrushcross Grange, capriciously ordering around a crowd of servants, wearing expensive clothes and jewelry, having great status in the village. Edgar was pretty cute too and bent over backwards to make her happy. How could she know that life is full of yearning for whatever we don't or can't have and you have to learn to prioritize and choose only the things your heart and soul really need because you just can't have everything. Catherine truly believed that she could have everything. Besides, Heathcliff had been gone for a couple of years without a trace. For all she knew he was gone forever making the decision to marry Edgar that much easier.

After Heathcliff's return she still believed that if they behaved as she wished, she could have them both. When she finally realized she couldn't have both Edgar, her husband, and Heathcliff, her soulmate she did what a lot of teenage girls do and locked herself in her room and refused to eat. Teenage girls are really good at self-destruction. I like the fact that she was five months pregnant at the time making it impossible to blame it on PMS. She was just a teenager who couldn't get her way.

When she finally let Nelly in after three days isolation, she was a physical and mental wreck. She realized what a mistake she had made marrying cute, but boring Edgar and longed to rewind the clock and be back at Wuthering Heights traversing the moors with her heart's desire Heathcliff. Now she was trapped in a passionless marriage with a baby on the way. Marriage was for life back then even if you lived apart like Isabella and Heathcliff, so Catherine's life was over as far as she was concerned and she looked forward to her physical death to escape the pain of never being able to live with Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights again. Without Heathcliff she was no better than a dead woman walking.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gothic Birthdays: Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte, born July 30, 1818. She's is my favorite writer as author of Wuthering Heights,which is my favorite Gothic Romance. Her poetry is wonderful as well. Suffice it to say, she was a literary genius. A very petite literary genius.

According to the Norton Anthology, Literature by Women: The Traditions in English, Second Edition (1996) Gilbert and Gubar,  the carpenter who made her coffin had never made such a small one for an adult. It was five feet six inches in length and sixteen inches in width. I'm sure she was a little larger before becoming ill and wasting away with consumption, but she still would have been petite in my opinion. As far as I know consumption doesn't reduce height. She was a shy person, only comfortable at home and felt most liberated walking among the heather on the moors. I can relate to that! Gilbert and Gubar also state that she stubbornly got up and dressed the day she died and refused to see a doctor. I don't blame her as the doctor probably couldn't do anything but stick leeches on her anyway in those days.

Even though she died at the young age of 30, with the encouragement and posthumous promotion of her sister Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre), she made such a huge contribution to the world with her passionate prose and poetry. I for one am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

An Anniversary for Dracula Fans

Awaiting the furnace tech to arrive to give my furnace its annual cleaning, I found a very nicely written article by David Barnett published yesterday on The about Whitby in Yorkshire, England, the town that inspired Bram Stoker to write the story of Dracula. This year is the 125th anniversary of Stoker's visit to the seaport town, so I'd say it's going to be a good year for all of the tourism spots in town that base themselves on Dracula! 

Whitby sounds like a cool town to visit with a Dracula walking tour, Dracula Experience, the Bram Stoker International Film Festival and a Goth Weekend occurring twice a year. I bet there will be extra special activities to celebrate the anniversary. In fact, if you check out events calendar, you can see everything planned month-by-month, Dracula related and not. There's an interesting event called Get Gruesome With the Hands on History Crew that teaches about the plague and medieval burials "with an array of children's interactive activities." I'm curious to know what those activities could be! 

Whitby looks like a really scenic, fun and educational place to visit, especially if you're a fan of Dracula.                       

Monday, July 27, 2015

Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

Dr. Herbert West strikes again! Young Dr. Phillips (Jason Barry), a fan of West's after seeing his work first-hand as a kid, becomes the prison doctor where Dr. West is incarcerated and sets up a lab for him to continue his "experiments." Jeffery Combs is as great as ever with his stiff mad scientist's delivery of one-liners, "she isn't getting any fresher."

But, the performance award for this movie has to go to Elsa Pataky as investigative journalist, Laura Olney. She's hilarious as she jolts back to life in jerky pulses after West convinces Dr. Phillips to inject her with "the serum." A little later after Dr. West injects her with the "nanoplasm" of the sadistic Warden Brando (Simon Andreu) she suffers helplessly as his life forces courses through her body turning her into an out-of-control Jeckyll and Hyde type character as her personality swings between her own whimpering helpless self and that of the evil Brando. 

In the end, Dr. West escapes with his medical bag of re-animating serum to create another bloody, funny sequel.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dark Shadows: The Vampire's Curse, Part 2

This compilation of original Dark Shadows episodes that highlight the tragic love story of Barnabus (Jonathan Frid) and Josette (Kathryn Leigh Scott) and the history of Angelique's (Lara Parker) curse that transformed Barnabus into a vampire is so well done! It is so cool how just the episodes from Victoria Winters' (Alexandra Moltke) nightmarish trip back to 1795 that concentrate on Barnabus, Josette and Angelique were chosen to tell the story. Then the story jumps forward to 1967 with the shocked and terrified Willie Loomis (John Karlan) freeing Barnabus from his 172 year imprisonment.

The ill-fated love story of Barnabus and Josette is one of my favorites love stories. It's so haunting and heartbreaking. It's got to be one of the best love stories ever written and performed along with Heathcliff and Catherine of Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet

What makes Barnabus and Josettte's story different than the others is the fact that they were kept apart by the powerful black magic of Angelique. That major difference is also what makes it so cool! Lovers eventually separated by death, by a jealous witch who won't allow them to be together even in death as Barnabus is cursed with eternal life. Now that's a powerful witch!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse, Part 1

Can we still be friends? This is what Barnabus asks Angelique THREE TIMES after she tries to reignite the steamy affair that they carried on in Martinique before his engagement to Josette. He asks her that the first time after explaining that he loves Josette and doesn't love her. He admits to uttering some words of love to Angelique when they were in the throes of passion and still has difficulty keeping his hands off of her when he visits her in her room to confirm that she understands that it's over between them. His lust for her is still so strong that he tells her that from now on they will make sure they never find themselves alone together anywhere. Then he again makes his offer of friendship. 

Once the engagement between Josette and Barnabus is off and Barnabus is single again, Angelique again tries to arrange a romantic rendezvous in her room, but Barnabus blows her off. When she asks him why later, he explains that he still loves Josette and once again, for the third time, asks Angelique if they can still be friends. 

No wonder she wants to make him suffer!

It's bad enough that he dumps her for her boss and then plays kissy-face with Josette while Angelique is in the room. He has total disregard for Angelique's feelings and tosses her away like an old toy. Then to add salt to Angelique's wound asks if they can still be friends. Barnabus is going to be sorry he messed with the help!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dark Shadows: David is Dead!

Included in the Special Features of the DVD Dark Shadows: Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood is a bonus episode that continues the storyline of Quentin (David Selby) and Beth's (Terry Crawford) haunting of Collinwood in 1969. In this episode we learn the circumstances and cause of Quentin's death in 1897. We also learn why he is so attached to David Collins (David Henesy). I know I've seen these episodes several years ago, but I don't remember the story at all! Isn't that great? Now I can watch them all over again as though for the first time!

Middle-aged forgetfulness can be frustrating and even embarrassing while trying to accomplish daily chores at home and at work, but when it comes to movies and TV shows, it can be an asset as you watch the shows and movies you loved in the past as though for the first time and fall in love with them all over again. This can be a lot of fun!

Because of this particular storyline in Dark Shadows I have hope for myself when I get to the spirit world and, apparently, regain my sharp-as-a-tack mind from my youth since Quentin and Beth's memories are as clear as if all the tragedy in their lives occurred just yesterday instead of seventy-two years earlier. I can't remember where I parked my car when I leave work in the evening, never mind something I did decades ago.

At the end of the episode Dr. Hoffman (Grayson Hall)  tells Professor Stokes (Thayer David) that she must go to the past and right the wrongs to save David even though the ghost of Quentin has announced that it's too late to save David from his evil clutches. As she lifts David's limp arm from the couch and feels his pulse, Dr. Hoffman exclaims to Professor Stokes, "David is dead!" 

Now I have to see the remaining episodes!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood, Part 2

Hats off to Maggie! She's a brave woman as she is terrified repeatedly and almost killed by the ghost of Quentin Collins, yet she remains at Collinwood determined to help the Collins free themselves of the evil spirit and protect the possessed children, David and Amy. 

At the end of the three hour long movie, the family has taken the advice of Professor Stokes and fled the house until they can find a super potent exorcist to cleanse the house of the evil and dangerous Quentin Collins. As he leaves, Roger turns and declares into the empty space that they will return. Quentin stands at the top of the stairs laughing his evil laugh with his music playing throughout the house. 

Quentin is now certain that he's master of Collinwood and will remain so forever!

After the credits roll, stick around and learn about all the cool Dark Shadows websites and the books available by the cast members, Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans), Lara Parker (Angelique) and David Selby (Quentin Collins). I've read The Salem Branch by Lara Parker and it's a very good novel. In fact, I may read it again now that I've mentioned it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood, Part 1

I know I've watched these episodes before, when SciFi Channel was broadcasting the original Dark Shadows series several years ago, but I don't remember the details. The biggest detail was just how darn scary it is! Having the episodes run concurrently with no breaks concentrating on one storyline makes it even more scary and absolutely riveting.

The DVD is a compilation of a sequence of episodes focusing on Quentin Collins (David Selby) as a ghost in the closed off west wing of Collinwood. He's a dark evil spirit (wearing cool guyliner like Barnabus) who gains the trust of David Collins (David Henesy) and Amy Jennings (Denise Nickerson) in order to have them do his dark bidding. When they finally realize their ghost friend is really an evil spirit after he has them try to kill Roger Collins (Louis Edmonds), it's too late for them to escape his control for fear of Quentin's promise of revenge by either hurting them or their loved ones. Quentin has already caused the death of the medium, Mrs. Findlay, whom Professor Stokes (Thayer David) brought into the house to investigate what Mrs.Stoddard (Joan Bennett) has told him are strange occurrences since a recent seance was held in the house. So they already know that Quentin will stop at nothing to remain undiscovered.

In an attempt to try to reason with Quentin, David has escaped from restriction to his room and gone to Quentin's room in the west wing. Maggie (Kathryn Leigh Scott) has secretly followed David and, before I hit pause, has found the storage room and is calling for David who has made his way into Quentin's room. I fear that nothing good is going to happen to Maggie!

I hope it doesn't give me nightmares!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What We Do In The Shadows (2014) On DVD Today!

I feel like it's been an eternity since seeing What We Do In The Shadows , possibly the best vampire comedy ever, in the theater. I'm glad I was able to see it twice. Now that it's finally out on DVD I can watch it endlessly in the comfort of my dusty, drafty old home. I realize it's been available for streaming for a couple of months, but I was dying to own a hard copy that I can hold in my hand and play in my DVD player. By the way, it's also available at Redbox if you enjoy waiting in line at their kiosk with impatient people sighing in agony behind you. I use the Redbox at Walmart, where I can conveniently get snacks and drinks to refresh me during the movie. 

Here are three things I learned about vampires from What We Do In The Shadows:

  1. If a vampire asks if you like "bisghetti," say no.
  2. If a vampire asks you if you're a virgin, say no.
  3. Having red cheeks makes a person even more appetizing to a vampire.
Knowing these three things could help you to make yourself less appealing to vampires and remember, if you accept an invitation to go home with someone you just met and he starts spreading newspapers at your feet and laying out towels around you on the furniture, get the hell out of there.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dark Shadows: Angelique As A Role Model

In Episode 374, Ben Stokes becomes mute as he attempts to warn Barnabus and Josette of Angelique's plan to prevent their upcoming wedding by using her powers of black magic. He rushes from the room and goes to Angelique ready to tear her apart with his bare hands in anger and frustration. She freezes his hands and smugly tells him that he can never hurt her because she has "too many powers."

Wouldn't it be great to have the power to prevent anyone from hurting you? Wouldn't it be even better if you could control other people like a puppeteer? That's what I thought when I watched Dark Shadows as a kid. I was also a fan of Samantha Stevens from Bewitched and Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie for more materialistic reasons. As a kid I would try to cast my own spells like Angelique, not for evil, just for control. I'd try them on my next door neighbors who I could watch to see if I really had magical powers like Angelique. 

Needless to say, my neighbors were totally oblivious to my "magical" powers, or simply immune. However, I had to sadly admit that I had no supernatural power at all.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dollman (1991): He's A Living Doll

I have to admire the creativity of Charles Band, the creative mind behind the Full Moon movies. As I mentioned in my post about the movie Demonic Toys, Full Moon Direct has all their great B movies for sale or available to stream on their website. I know great B movies might sound contradictory, but I do love B movies, especially with that 80s flair. And Full Moon Entertainment delivers.

Dollman (also available on Hulu) stars the talented Tim Thomerson as Brick Bardo, a doll-sized Dirty Harry, a cop on his home planet Arturos who blasts away bad guys with his powerful gun, getting suspended from the job along the way. His arch enemy Sprug, a villian who wants to take over the world, is reduced to only a hovering head as Bardo blasts off each remaining body part at each confrontation over the years.

Bardo pursues Sprug into an "energy band" which lands them both in the South Bronx where they meet a psycho gang leader and the woman who is determined to rid crime from the neighborhood. The circumstances that cause Sprug's demise is nasty funny. You have to see it for yourself. 

Admittedly, this movie is more sci-fi/comedy than gothic. Brick Bardo does don a long coat and dark glasses, so I'm stretching it into the catagory, mostly because Full Moon does horror and I'm a big fan of Full Moon and Tim Thomerson. 

The best 80s moment in Dollman is at the beginning when a criminal takes hostages in a laundrymat on Arturos, which is exactly like the United States except all the people are the size of Barbie dolls. The criminal ties a bunch of heavy-set women together threatening to shoot all the "fat ladies."  Ah, the 80s when fat people were fat and scumbags were allowed to say it publicly. The politically correct 90s censored the word fat when it referred to people. Employers and the fashion world continued to discriminate against large people, but the word fat was banned unless the conversation involved meat.

Dark Shadows: Josette Loves Jeremiah

This cobweb is occupied!
"The cobweb of love will trap Josette."  This is part of the evil love spell that Angelique (Lara Parker) uses to set the love affair between Josette (Kathryn Leigh Scott) and Jeremiah (Anthony George) into motion. How deliciously dark that a love initialized with black magic should include a cobweb. Since cobwebs are usually something you need to clear away for purity and clarity, it's so fitting that the false love between Josette and Jeremiah should involve one.

Episode 373 which aired on November 29, 1967. Times and TV sure have changed! I'm thinking Jonathan Frid must have been on vacation for a few days as he's noticeably absent from these episodes. Barnabus is recuperating from his mysterious Angelique-induced illness where he can remain out of the storyline for a while. However, it's now Angelique's time to shine as we learn the extent of her powers as a witch and she puts her new slave, Ben Stokes, to work gathering everything she needs to cast the evil spell that causes Josette and Jeremiah  to become reluctantly irresistible to each other, so much so, that they trample all over their love and respect for Barnabus and helplessly fall together, unable to stay apart no matter how hard they try to resist.  

After Angelique recites "Josette Loves Jeremiah" three times, the spell is cast. Josette and Jeremiah can't stay apart any more than Ben can resist doing Angelique's dirty work.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dark Shadows: You Shall Be My Slave!

After watching all the Dark Shadows episodes available on Hulu, I resorted to my painfully small personal collection hoping for more. Wouldn't you know the two DVD collections that I own contain episodes already offered on Hulu? I started the collection back when SciFi Channel was showing the series every day and then it was suddenly, without warning, dropped before the entire series was shown. After buying the two collections I never finished collecting as life happened, things got weird and I was distracted with other pressing matters.

After all these decades, Dark Shadows is still one of my favorite shows, probably my all-time favorite. My mother used to watch it on TV and she would let me watch it if the storyline wasn't too gruesome or graphic. I was banned from the show for quite a while as she wielded her parental discretion before that was an official TV/movie thing. Several years ago she did take me to a Dark Shadows Festival in New York which more than made up for, what I believed at the time, her over protective behavior. It was great and even Jonathan Frid attended, and if I'm not mistaken, for the first time.

Anyway, I figured you can't get too much Dark Shadows and decided to watch my collection as a study to determine which episodes I still need to acquire. The first episode in Collection 5 from MPI Home Video is Episode 372 when Victoria Winters is trapped in 1795 and meets Ben Stokes. Ben Stokes is also introduced to Angelique, Josette's humble maid, in this episode, who hints that she might be interested in his body. Confused, yet hopeful, he trusts her when she offers him a drink that might lead to some fun between the sheets. Instead, after enthusiastically guzzling it in one gulp so they can get on with the good stuff, he needs to sit down as the evil potion causes him to feel strange. Angelique smugly explains the cause of his strange sensation: "Your will is my will. You shall do whatever I tell you to do. You shall be my slave!"

Yes, Angelique did want Ben's strong useful body, but not for sex!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wuthering Heights: Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Can you imagine how utterly boring it must have been to be a young woman of the leisure class in the 19th Century? It seems as though the Linton women spent most of the day sitting in the parlor or walking on the moors or in the garden. Sure, it would be great to have servants to do all the mundane household chores and be waited on hand and foot, but what else did they do? Even when they were sitting in the parlor, did they do needlework or maybe some reading or painting? Imagine being eighteen years old with nothing to do and no one to socialize with except your gentle, but boring, brother and his moody, bossy wife who got her own amusement by bossing around the help. 

It's really no wonder that when Heathcliff showed up all handsome and single that, in desperate need of excitement in her young life, was blinded by love and hormones. Of course, everyone warned her about his cruel streak and hatred for anything or anyone Linton, but she stubbornly refused to face the facts only to suffer for her mistake. Heathcliff hung her dog right in front of her! That should have been her first clue, and the only clue she should need, that everyone had told her the truth about him. 

You have to admire her courage and strength to escape his abuse, risking her death from exposure if not from his rage if he chose to pursue her after the sharp words she threw his way as she made her way toward the door.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Raven (2012)

Mid 19th Century scenery and costumes are the best! Sometimes the best part of the movie, but not this movie. The Raven starring Jon Cusack as Edgar Alan Poe had a good story and started out pretty gory but got mysterious and suspenseful as it progressed. It was a pretty creative concept to dream up Poe's mysterious final days and find the mysterious cause of his physical and mental state when he was found ill and ranting in the street never to recover. 

After only seeing pictures of Poe, and not being anywhere near a Poe scholar, it was strange to imagine him so animated, but Cusack did such a good job of portraying him that he almost looked just like him. But I always imagined Poe as someone who spent time in parlors when not at a desk at work. Of course, it was extreme circumstances, but I wouldn't have imagined him chasing killers on horseback or on the catwalks of a theater. Neither would I imagine him as a very passionate lover or dancer either, but those were some pretty sweet scenes as well. I imagined him socially anxious and withdrawn even while drinking. 

Obviously, the whole movie was a fantasy, thank goodness because Ivan (Sam Hazeldine) the serial killer was so demented, he was terrifying! I had no idea how, or if, the mystery would be solved and was happy with how it all ended. What did you think?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Lost Boys: More 80s Movie Fun

It's fun to watch a movie like The Lost boys that I haven't seen in twenty years or more. Part of the fun is noticing how I perceive things so much differently now with twenty more years of life in my head, in addition to the changes in society and values over time that alter my perceptions. Another part of the fun is the relief that some things haven't changed at all and probably won't. Like Michael's (Jason Patric) caving to peer pressure and his "sex glands" as his brother Sam (Corey Haim) tells him when he becomes obsessed with Star (Jamie Gertz).

Another example, I do not remember Jason Patric being so overwhelmingly gorgeous! Really. They didn't have to keep shoving the Jim Morrison poster in the shot with him when they were in the cave. Was the movie implying that Jim Morrison is also immortal and ageless? I am a Jim Morrison fan, but Jason Patric is better looking, and also alive. Or, is Jim Morrison a vampire masquerading as Jason Patric?? I'm sure there was all kinds of talk about the connection at the time the movie came out, but that's the fun of reviewing movies, books, etc. I don't let anything except the piece of art itself influence my review. And, I don't remember all the talk and gossip about the movie at the time of its release.

The special effects and vampire makeup were really good for that era. The vampire make up reminded me of the vampires in the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Were the same artists involved? I was happy to see the two Corey's again. I always liked Corey Feldman for some reason, maybe because of the characters he played. I didn't watch any of his reality work, mostly because I don't watch reality shows. 

I especially liked the 80s freedom and fun factor in the movie. Of course, they hung out on a happening boardwalk with an amusement park where every day was fun, fun, fun! The vampires even lived in a resort, broken and decaying, but still a resort. I guess that's the best part of being immortal and never growing old; no worries. As David (Kiefer Sutherland) tells Michael, "You never die. You never grow old. But you must feed!"

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gothic Day Trips: Seaside, Waterford, Connecticut

On the National Register of Historic Places, Seaside is, with the help of plenty of vandals, a decaying yet lovely piece of  early 20th Century architecture facing a beautiful white sandy beach on Long Island Sound. It was first used as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, then a home for the elderly and finally a home for the mentally retarded. I'm sure many patients from all three incarnations have died there and there may be some rambling spirits residing in the abandoned buildings.

Paranormal investigators have examined the property and did find evidence of spirits in the buildings. Check out the video clips from investigations by Paranormal Encounters which prove that there is spiritual activity in the main building! 

I was there today and the place was crowded with beach goers even though it was late in the afternoon and, judging by the random positioning of the remaining cars in the parking lot and on the grass, many more people were sunning themselves there earlier in the day. The state of Connecticut owns the property and plans to convert it into a state park eventually. There's an extremely vigilant security guard driving around the grounds greeting visitors and stalking them mercilessly making sure they don't get withing 50 feet of the buildings. I imagine the state is trying to prevent any lawsuits from curious visitors cutting themselves on one of the many broken windows or impaling themselves on the rusty gates. I suppose getting too close to the buildings might put one in danger of being bopped in the head by a loose falling brick or roof shingle. 

Obviously, the state wants to prevent anyone from entering the building and being hurt or killed. There are signs posted that the park closes at sunset unless you're fishing. Apparently, people armed with a fishing pole are free to enter at any time. The place must be super creepy in the dark in the moonlight with the soft waves lapping and the spirits wandering.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Wuthering Heights: Catherine's Self-Imposed Solitary Confinement

I just love Emily Bronte!

After the scene in the kitchen when Edgar confronts Heathcliff regarding his romantic advances toward Isabella in the garden as reported by Nelly, Catherine flees to the parlor in anger feeling slighted when both men fail to behave the way she wants. Heathcliff is rude and insulting causing Edgar to order him off the property and punch him in the throat. Catherine blames them both for ruining the situation for her. She wants Heathcliff to behave in a manner that Edgar will accept and she wants Edgar to be welcoming and open to Heathcliff's visits. She actually believes that could work? When the men's natural feelings and override their desire to make Catherine happy, she is livid.

Edgar approaches her in the parlor and demands that she choose between Heathcliff and himself stating that she can't have both men. Her response is to throw a fit, which terrifies him until Nelly exposes Catherine as a fake by revealing that she had threatened to have a fit before he entered the room. Her manipulations foiled, Catherine storms to her room and refuses to eat or open the door for three days.

Is it a coincidence that Bronte has Catherine locked away for three days, the same amount of time Jesus spent in his tomb before his resurrection? At least he was unconscious. What would a person alone in a bedroom do for three days with nothing to do but stare at the walls? It must have been freezing in that room too with no fire or central heating. Not to mention the overflowing stinking bedpan. Maybe she dumped it out the window. Three days alone with nothing but her own distressed mind. Self-destructive behavior for a self-involved person.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Wuthering Heights and Victorian Mourning Customs

One of my many favorite scenes in Wuthering Heights is when Ellen Dean describes sitting in the drawing room guarding Catherine's body and she leaves the window open for Heathcliff to sneak in to visit Catherine's remains one last time. Although extremely disrespectful (but that's Heathcliff for you!), I couldn't help chuckling when Heathcliff removes the lock of her husband's hair from Catherine's locket, tosses it on the floor and replaces it with a lock of his own hair. Ellen only knows this happened when she finds Linton's hair on the floor and sees the drapery in disarray around Catherine's face. She retrieves Linton's hair, twists the two locks together and puts them both in the locket.

I thought the locket with a loved one's hair was a cool idea for a burial custom so I looked up Victorian mourning customs like the drapery Ellen describes. I know the story takes place in 1801 according to Lockwood's journal post, well before the Victorian era, but Emily Bronte was writing during the period, so perhaps she used some current elements in her writing. Some of the Victorian customs were probably used earlier as well. The lack of vaccines and other modern medicine made death more of an every day occurrence and not the almost taboo subject it is today.

Here are some 19th century English mourning customs I found on thefuneralsource:
  • Hair lockets and other hair jewelry were also worn by the survivors made from the deceased's hair.
  • Jet jewelry was made and worn just for mourning.
  • Women wore different mourning attire relevant to the particular stage of mourning and also relevant to their financial situation.

Some other things I found:

Post-mortem portraits and photographs taken as keepsakes. Some photos had the corpse in poses with family as though still alive. Creepy!

  • Just as Ellen and Edgar carry out in Wuthering Heights, a vigil was kept near the corpse during the days and nights leading up to the burial just in case the deceased wasn't really deceased. Where there's a corpse, there's hope. I would think the odor would be a good indicator as well.
  • Covering all mirrors in the house after a death to prevent the deceased's freed-up soul from getting trapped in the glass. There was also a belief that if you saw your reflection in a mirror in a dead person's house, you might be next. This brings a whole new perspective to the scene soon before her death where Catherine doesn't recognize her emaciated self in the mirror in her room and Ellen drapes a cover over it to sooth Catherine's fears. She really doesn't recognize it as a mirror or her room at the Grange. She's crazy for Heathcliff.
  • Families could hire mourners called Mutes to follow the funeral procession and/or hang around the house looking sad. Were meals included or did they have to provide their own lunch?
In recent times we have a quick wake, maybe; a funeral service, maybe; food and drinks to stuff down your grief so you can rush back to work to save yourself from being fired. My deepest condolences.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Oopsie Daisy! It's Demonic Toys (1992)

Full Moon Entertainment has an array of B movies for sale and streaming on their website, many of which fall into the horror/comedy genre. Back in the early 90s there was a movie rental store near my house that carried them all! Now we can watch most of them on Hulu which is where I've reacquainted myself with Demonic Toys. It stars Tracy Scoggins (The Colbys) as pregnant Officer Judith, the targeted victim of a demon who wants to be born in her baby's body so he can perform demonic deeds from inside a human body. Having to animate dolls to serve as his minions uses all of his energy and his actions are understandably limited. He could do way more damage with his own human body and he'd be able to leave the warehouse where he happens to be trapped. 

Baby Oopsie Daisy is the only one of the toys with language skills and spews some pretty amusing profanity laced lines. Baby Oopsie Daisy is also pretty skilled with weapons while a rabid-looking teddy bear that looks more like a toothy wolf with bear ears is pretty handy with a bat. The other toys mostly just bite their victims to death except for a robot with guns for arms.

The low budget props are just as funny as the animated evil dolls and some of the dialogue. The stop motion animation is really good throughout the movie so we're lucky the demon was trapped in a toy warehouse and not a warehouse full of something less entertaining like pianos.

Gothic Birthday: Eva Green is Thirty-Five

Until I saw Tim Burton's Dark Shadows (2012) my life was unfortunately deprived of Eva Green. Like so many fans of the original Dark Shadows gothic soap opera, I was a little disappointed in the movie as I was hoping for an emphasis on the eery drama, but instead got extreme camp. I do love camp, black humor and gothic silliness, but Barnabus Collins, played by Jonathan Frid in the original TV show, was a dark, intelligent badass who knew how to rock the guyliner, not a bumbling misfit with bad make up. 

However, the movie wasn't all bad as it included a great cast and introduced me to the excellent Chloe Grace Moretz (Carolyn Stoddard) and, of course, the wonderful Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard. Although Lara Parker will always be Angelique, Eva Green brought Angelique into the 21st Century with the charm, strength, power and style that I think only Eva Green can.

Blown away by her stellar performance in Dark Shadows, I was compelled to see movies solely because she was cast in them. Well, maybe not solely, but she was a huge draw for me. One such movie was Sin City: A Dame to Kill For which was deemed by every critic a sad sequel to the original, which I not only like, but own. I had to agree with the critics, but Eva Green made it worth the price of admission. After all, she was The Dame to Kill For!

Another movie that I was extra excited to see was 300: Rise of An Empire in which she played the ruthless and powerful Artemisia. Like Sin City, I am a fan and own the original, but the addition of Eva Green to the sequel made it all the more necessary to experience it. 

And then came Penny Dreadful on Showtime. As one of the most frugal people I know, maybe the most frugal (I've been referred to as Mr(s). Krabs), I was tempted to order Showtime just for Penny Dreadful and Eva Green. However, strong will prevailed as I told myself it's way cheaper to wait and buy the DVD than pay for Showtime, not to mention cable or satellite TV (which I gave up as wasteful spending) just for one show. Delayed gratification is a virtue and the experience can be sweeter for the wait. 

A very happy birthday to Eva Green. May your successful career bring gothic joy to your fans and personal fulfillment and joy to yourself for many more years.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Frankenhooker vs Re-Animator

Both Frankenhooker (1990) and Re-Animator (1985) are comedy/horror movies having to do with bringing the dead back to life. While Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz), the protagonist in Frankenhooker is obsessed with bringing his dead fiance back to life, Herbert West (Jeffery Combs), the protagonist in Re-Animator is obsessed with improving and perfecting his reanimation serum and will use any undamaged corpse to test it on. 

I thought Frankenhooker was a little more gruesome because of Jeffrey's inventing "killer crack" to lure and kill hookers so he could use their body parts to build his dead fiance, Elizabeth (Patty Mullen), a new body to sew her head onto, since her head is the only undamaged body part he has left of her. At least Herbert didn't create his own corpses to test his serum on.

It was fun to see Louise Lasser as Jeffery's mom and the scene between the two of them in Jeffery's room was so well-written and Lasser's sense of timing was impeccable as usual. However, the funniest scenes were when Frankenhooker escaped and was on the loose in Times Square and muttered the remarks we heard earlier from the dead hookers whose body parts she is inhabiting. The body work she performs on Jeffery at the end after she regains her identity as Elizabeth is pretty humorous as well.  

Even though Frankenhooker was funny and gross, I preferred the humor and creative effects of Re-Animator as Dr. Hill's (David Gale), headless corpse carries his head around in a metal pan and the goofy face of Dr. Halsey ( as Dr. Hill's zombie-with-a-lobotomy slave.