Two more days 'til Hallowe'en, Hallowe'en, Hallowe'en ....
It being so close to October 31, I thought I would share my good and interesting October journey.
Let's talk October reads first.
Just finished Renn Graham and Jeannette Arroyo's Blackwater. Originally a web
comic, it is a YA queer romance horror, sort of a mash-up of Stranger Things
(though not retro), Heartstopper and Teen Wolf with alternating art styles!
Crushing on supporting goth character Marcia, a
slightly under-realized young black woman of size. Perhaps another story with
more of her, and protags, jock Tony Price and German kid, Eli Hirsch? There's
room for all that, and I'd read it.
Also Adam Cesare's Clown In A Cornfield, which marries old-and-new-school
slashers, moving at a good clip. As it is YA horror (which I only discovered after reading the novel), Cesare is often borderline
satirical in depicting townies, and any grown-ups, who are alternately inept or
menacing for the most part. But this view of townies grows more sympathetic as
protagonist Quinn widens her view of Small Town, Missouri. She and her dad Dr. Glenn Maybrook have
a shared requisite tragic backstory. Their sudden relocation from Philadelphia
to Kettle Springs allows for new-school/old-school, big-city/small-town
comparisons and juxtapositions, granting Cesare the ability to tell the story
like an old-school slasher in a contemporary setting. Jock Cole Hill, her romantic interest, also grapples with grief, but his story of loss is shown instead of told. It is a curious choice,
considering that whole Cole character is a means to digging into the town's
quandaries and past. Quinn, on the other hand, remains the main character and should have agency or at least a background deserving of
In some ways, Clown is a variation on the Scream
franchise themes, but with compelling characters, action and small-town spicing,
courtesy of Kettle Springs, Missouri. Only recently did I learn it is YA. With
its level of gore and dismemberment, though, it is a closer descendant of
the Netflix Fear Street trilogy than Stranger Things.
For a good laugh, I am slowly working through Grady Hendrix
and Will Erickson's riotously funny Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History
of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction. It remains a mood up-lifter of
the most ridiculous sort.
I realized I
never saw all of John Carpenter’s 1981 effort, The Fog, and rented it. It
remains immersive 1980's horror, with tough-sensitive guy Tom Atkins, Curtis
shimmering as free-wheeling hitchhiker Elizabeth Solley. Loved Janet Leigh, saucy 1978 Halloween alumni Nancy
Kyes, cool lighthouse deejay Adrienne Barbeau. All that said, some shots, in
fact many, and the music remind me of Halloween. In fact, director Carpenter
is really cribbing himself for much of the tense scenes, when he isn’t busy
showing the beautiful seaside before the fog rolls in in and the fog machine
really starts gunning in-town. The '76 Ford LTD Country Squire is also a close
cousin to Michael Myers' ride, the '78 Ford LTD Station Wagon in Halloween.
Perhaps Carpenter got a deal on these station wagons, or simply owned one?
Also viddied queer director James
Whale’s The Invisible Man (1933); The Old Dark House (1932, also
a Whale film). The first is mercilessly dark and twisted, and campy and the
second, well, the second is the same, sans a Universal Studios monster. In House,
Whale also nods, winks and leers at the queer viewer, passing off strikes as
balls, or queer jokes as straight clap-trap, and they’re a joy to detect, each
and every one of them.
well, I quite enjoyed Tom Seeley and Michael Moreci's Revealer, pairing
a stripper and religious zealot in Chicago during the rapture. This impressive
cosmic-horror endeavour works hard, delivering a great story and performances
despite Covid shooting limitations.
Watched Dave Grohl's Studio 666, a predictable but
loving tribute to horror cinema. Like seeing Kiss in the classic 1979
rock-cheese feature Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, one must appreciate the rock band the Foo Fighters hamming up every scene
to a rather kick-ass soundtrack and crop of cameos including ... Lionel Ritchie?
Blade from 1988 still remains kinetic. Wesley Snipes kicks
fanged-fiend butt, but with some power-level discrepancies and Stephen Dorff
remains a fine Jack Nicholsonesque antagonist. Kris Kristofferson as cranky old
Whistler is still as endearingly irascible as ever.
George A. Romero's 1968 Night of
the Living Dead still wields power over the viewer, as does John Landis’
1981 An American Werewolf in London, although I still maintain it
suffers from a simplistic and fatalistic third act. While Night’s ending
is a kick to the stomach, American Werewolf’s remains abrupt and unsympathetic
to the point of sarcasm.
The last two are revisits. Still
hankering to revisit It Follows, one of my all-time contemporary favourites.
My case for It Follows is here in previous blog post.
Also watching Shudder’s Queer For
Fear. The documentary series traces the lineage of queer or LGBTQ1+
influence on horror and gothic literature and cinema from its earliest days,
from Mary Shelley penning A Modern Prometheus and kickstarting the gothic
and horror genre and onward. While it features an uneven third episode, Queer
is at its best when focusing on a particular actor, a film or film series (Anthony
Perkins in Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s portrayal of gay men) or a particular
genre trend (the endless list of exploitative lesbian vampire films in the 1970’s)
or juxtaposing overtly campy or sexual sound bites into the thesis breakdown.
In between all that, trying to finish a review of
a sci-fi collection for U.S. magazine and trying to revise an autumnal story
about a traveling roadshow of horror writers who are down on their luck, and turning
to dark means in their desperation.