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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old June 5 2011, 10:34 PM   #631
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Not quite torture. More like, "enhanced interrogation": the literary equivalent of being hooded, forced to stand against a wall, and deprived of sleep.

After I put up that post, I noticed a rather large plot hole. As I said: this demon can kill--it not only beats a woman to death--it pulverizes her. And in another scene, it sexually molests one of the main characters while she's in the shower.

This demon has hands. Big, strong, rough hands. The book's even called Hands of Lucifer.

And yet, when faced with an exorcist, how does it defend itself?

By swearing. By throwing furniture. By tossing stuff from the fridge, like some kind of demonic food fight. By slapping the exorcist--once. And by animating the female main characters collection of dolls.

OH NOEZ! NOT THE DOLLS!

Seriously, what the fuck? Worst. Demon. Ever.
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Old June 5 2011, 10:48 PM   #632
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Heh. Sissy demon. It only picks on girls.
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Old June 6 2011, 08:02 PM   #633
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

I went to that used bookstore again, and walked out with another armload of twenty-odd books. Looks like I'm set for the rest of the year.

My purchases were a little more varied this time, though. I bought some SF, Mystery, and History as well as Horror, including a copy of Samuel R. Delany's long-out-of-print 1971 anthology Driftglass. Their selection of SF and Fantasy paperbacks is enough to make any fan drool.

And it looks like I inadvertently purchased a horror classic without realizing it.

The cover of C. S. Cody's The Witching Night said "BLACK MAGIC...SUPERNATURAL MURDER...SATANIC RITUAL." Sounds perfect, I thought, and tossed it into my shopping basket: Hope it won't be another crap sandwich like Hands of Lucifer. But I've since read some reviews that say it's really good.
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Old June 6 2011, 10:58 PM   #634
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Driftglass sounds interesting. I remember "Aye, And Gomorrah...." from Dangerous Visions. I'm pretty sure I've also read "Time Considered As A Helix...," but I don't remember it off the top of my head. I think I'll pick up some Delaney myself; that's the kind of adult fiction that just isn't published these days.
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Old June 7 2011, 01:26 AM   #635
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Do it. Delany is great. Nova was a childhood favourite of mine, and the older I get, the more I appreciate his work.

Back to horror fiction...I decided I needed a palate cleanser after Hands of Lucifer. And I've had Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby sitting on my bookshelf for a while. So I decided to read it.

I'm glad I did. Even after seeing the movie a few times, I still thought the book was terrific. In fact, I now see that one of the reasons why the movie was so good is because it was so faithful to the book.

Levin wrote with all the economy of a crime writer. (His first novel was actually a crime novel--A Kiss Before Dying) Not a word is wasted, and the plot is even structured like a mystery. I've read that some mystery connossieurs like to read the last chapter first, so that they can better appreciate the way the author lays out the clues, and misdirects the reader. The effect of reading Rosemary's Baby after watching the movie was somewhat similar.

Levin creates an atmosphere of paranoia and dread that is almost palpable. And the final reveal lost none of its power, even though I knew what was coming. But what I wasn't expecting was the greater richness of the last few pages, in which Rosemary accepts her role as the Anti-Madonna. Her internal conflict, and its tragic resolution, is something that the movie could only hint at. That alone made the book worth reading.

And I was pleased to discover that in the book Rosemary comes from a Catholic Irish family in Omaha, Nebraska, just like me.

It really is a classic, and a paradigm for the genre. Four 's out of four. My faith in horror fiction has been fully restored.

I think I'll read The Witching Night next, before I return to the B-list books.
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Old June 7 2011, 05:12 AM   #636
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

I've just finished up reading a batch of HP Lovecraft, just to kind of dip my toes in the proverbial water and see what I was getting into before I commit any money to the project.

The man is a master. Stephen King ain't got jack on Mr. Lovecraft.

I could rave for days about his mastery of horror and suspense. He consistently manages to keep the suspense going, always making you wonder what's going to come next without pulling random twists out of nowhere. His descriptions paint a superb background for the chilling secrets that lay hidden behind cottage doors and secret passages. Even his works that aren't entirely doom and gloom (The Music of Erich Zann comes to mind) manage to keep me interested and reading until the very end. Sometimes I have to stop myself and re-read a part because I read it too fast in eagerness.

There's just one complaint I have. The Call of Cthulhu was a little bit of a let-down considering how (in)famous it was, especially in light of some of his shorter tales. Granted, it's still pretty damn good, but it's far from the very best I saw in the collection that I picked at the library.
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Old June 7 2011, 11:13 AM   #637
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

^ Have to agree with you on HP Lovecraft, master at horror, though I had problems with Moutains of Madness as well.

I know it's 'only' a game tie-in novel, but I recently read Dead Space: Martyr and have to say I really enjoyed it, though it was a quick read. It might only appeal to those who play the game, but you don't have to understand the games to enjoy, though I think it does help in some ways.
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Old June 7 2011, 02:39 PM   #638
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Those who enjoy Lovecraft (as I do) may wish to read Michel Houellebecq's extended essay H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life. I found it illuminating, stimulating, and unusually readable for a work of literary criticism.

You can read an excerpt here.
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Old June 7 2011, 08:25 PM   #639
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

I can see how reading Call of Cthulhu would be a bit of a letdown after all you hear about it, especially on the Internet. It's certainly not Lovecraft's best work.

It also makes most Cthulhu jokes kind of annoying, because they're always off the mark, pretty much just swapping him with Satan. ("Why vote for the lesser evil," etc.) I appreciate the jokes more when they're specific to Cthulhu in regards to the mythos. But all of that's just nitpicking.

To be fair to Stephen King, anyone writing like Lovecraft today would be laughed out of an editor's office for being so overwrought and using almost no dialogue.

What King popularized was the idea of supernatural horror in a modern setting, putting it right in a normal person's point of view. We forget that today because everyone's doing it now, but that wasn't always the case.

I often have a similar discussion with friends who draw cartoons. There's a tendency to dismiss most of Charles Schulz's work, but these people don't realize just how much he contributed. Kids having adult-like conversations, pets having thoughts and imagination--these ideas weren't popular before Peanuts.

Anyway, I'm rambling, but you get the idea.
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Old June 7 2011, 10:42 PM   #640
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

I think a lot of young creators in all media don't appreciate their roots; or even like to admit that they have roots.
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Old June 8 2011, 12:33 AM   #641
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

I think they just grow up with some ideas always existing and that shapes their worldview. Eventually, the idea of comics being in newspapers at all is going to seem strange to people.

Another horror example, I suppose, would be the slasher film. There are differing views on which one was first, but it's arguable that it was Psycho that really got that subgenre going into what we think of as a slasher film today.

That's why some modern viewers watch something like Psycho or the original Halloween and have a hard time imagining these movies ever scaring anyone. But in the context of their times, they were deeply upsetting.
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Old June 8 2011, 04:11 AM   #642
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

I don't really like slasher movies. They simply fail to scare me. Here's my abbreviated plot summary flow-chart of every slasher movie I've ever watched:

Character introduction -> *slice slice slice slice slice slice* -> Brief character development -> *slice slice slice slice slice* -> Slasher defeated (unless enough money is generated for a sequel... then he retroactively gains immortality and/or leaves family behind)

Seriously. Every slasher movie I've ever seen boils down some form of the above.

Contrast with a non-slasher horror movie, say, Event Horizon. There's mystery! There's characters whom you actually care about if they get killed! A good horror story, in my opinion, is never about seeing how much you can shock and appall the mainstream with a meat cleaver and a bottle of fake blood; it's about writing a really suspenseful story that keeps you shaking and makes you check under your bedsheets.
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Old June 8 2011, 09:51 AM   #643
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Well, most slasher films rely on startling the audience or grossing them out, whereas films like Psycho rely on suspense and psychological fear.

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
I think they just grow up with some ideas always existing and that shapes their worldview. Eventually, the idea of comics being in newspapers at all is going to seem strange to people.

Another horror example, I suppose, would be the slasher film. There are differing views on which one was first, but it's arguable that it was Psycho that really got that subgenre going into what we think of as a slasher film today.

That's why some modern viewers watch something like Psycho or the original Halloween and have a hard time imagining these movies ever scaring anyone. But in the context of their times, they were deeply upsetting.
That's true. It's always possible to find new antecedents to contemporary trends and tropes as you read older fiction or watch old films. But I think a lot of young 'uns just automatically dismiss older works as being worthless or irrelevant-- like the people you mentioned who won't watch b&W movies. I knew a few people like that when I was a kid, and it seems worse now; of course, it may seem worse just because we have the Internet now.
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Old June 8 2011, 04:58 PM   #644
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
What King popularized was the idea of supernatural horror in a modern setting, putting it right in a normal person's point of view. We forget that today because everyone's doing it now, but that wasn't always the case.
Nor was King the first to do so. There was Ira Levin, whose work I was extolling earlier. And Blatty, with The Exorcist. And many others, both literary and cinematic--even this novel I'm reading right now, The Witching Night by C. S. Cody, which was first published in 1952, and reads like the voice-over from a fim noir.

But I think you're absolutely right to say that Stephen King popularized this type of story in a way that his predecessors never did. The immense popularity of King's work really seems to have shifted the paradigm, to the point where traditional crumbling-old-castle Gothic horror is now a minor subgenre. He really seems to have caught the wave, culturally speaking.
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Old June 8 2011, 11:02 PM   #645
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

King really did popularize it-- or mainstream it, I suppose-- but it's been around for a while. There was Night Stalker in the early 70s, various Hammer films set in contemporary times, Creepy and Eerie in the 60s, EC in the 50s; all had stories of traditional horror in the (then) modern setting. I'm not especially familiar with Horror literature of those periods, but I'm sure there are examples there, too.
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