Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Spaceman Spiff, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Tonight is the final, as far as I know, Creature Feature Drive-In night on TCM. The movies are The Blob, The H-Man, The Magnetic Monster, X The Unknown, The Thing From Another World, and It! The Terror From Beyond Space. After that, there's a documentary called Watch the Skies! Not sure yet which I will tape....
     
  2. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I watched Mario Bava's Black Sunday, aka The Mask of Satan last night.

    What a disappointment. I found it so dull, I was actually fast-forwarding at one point. How could a movie so rich with Gothic atmosphere be so boring?

    The only good part was the beginning, where Barbara Steel's character is executed for witchcraft. After she rants about how the power of Satan will allow her to wreak vengeance from beyond the grave, Inquisitors take the aforementioned mask--a metal mask with spikes on the inside--and hammer it onto her face.

    But that just made the rest of the movie seem even worse by comparison.

    I'm ready to give up on C. S. Cody's The Witching Night, as well. It's comparatively well-written, but just... dull.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  3. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Coincidentally, Black Sunday was on Penny Dreadful a couple of weeks ago-- she's a local "Horror Host" who shows B-movies, something along the lines of Elvira. I haven't watched it yet, but I fast-forwarded and it did look pretty rich in atmosphere.

    Last night, I taped X The Unknown and It! The Terror From Beyond Space.
     
  4. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just finished reading Edward Lee's City Infernal--an unusual and enjoyable book.

    The whole novel revolves around Lee's re-imagining of Hell as a city--the Mephistopolis. It begins with the main character, a Goth girl named Cassie, suffering a terrible tragedy. Then it fast-forwards to her and her father leaving Washington, DC and moving in to a rural house with a dark and sinister past.

    Cassie makes contact with some damned souls who have escaped from the infernal city, and what started as a conventional haunted house story becomes a very dark urban fantasy as Cassie and her new friends pass through the veil and enter Hell. And along the way, Cassie discovers that she has an unexpected and important destiny.

    Lee's vision of the infernal metropolis is very interesting and detailed, but in some ways, the story's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. The main characters spend a lot of time exploring the Mephistopolis, seeing the revolting sights, and talking about the features and rules of the afterlife. And as a result, at times, the narrative takes a back seat to exposition. It's a bit like a superhero origin story, in some ways.

    Fortunately, Lee's imagination is vivid and inventive enough to make these talking-head passages enjoyable. And in time, the story does pick up, and arrives at a satisfying, suspenseful, and even epic climax. I give it three :devil:'s out of four.

    There are two sequels, Infernal Angel and House Infernal, and a volume of short stories by other authors who were invited to play in Lee's sandbox. I'm looking forward to reading all of them.
     
  5. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    I like expositionary passages if they're interesting. Exposition was a hallmark of some classic literature. Maybe it was a homage to Divine Comedy.
     
  6. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hmm. I wouldn't describe it as a homage--except perhaps in the sense that all such stories are riffing on Dante's work, in some way.

    When I think of actual homages to Dante, I think of things like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Inferno and its sequel, Escape From Hell.
     
  7. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    From 29 October 2010:

    REC 2 has finally been given a North American DVD release, today. I'm looking forward to picking it up later, watching it again this evening--and finally understanding what the hell was going on. :lol:

    For those who aren't familiar with the series, REC is a Spanish movie that was remade in English as Quarantine. The original was better.
     
  8. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    It would have been quicker to learn Spanish. :rommie:

    Over the weekend, I saw a mildly funny movie called The Last Lovecraft. It's billed as being in the style of Shaun of the Dead. It's pretty good, but not great; most of the humor is derived from the well-known fact that geeks are awkward social misfits who live with their parents. That gets a bit tiresome. But other than that, it's a nice story of ordinary people triumphing over an extraordinary threat. It's got some nice special effects, and a clever animated summary of the Cthulhu Mythos.
     
  9. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe. :)

    Now that I've seen the movie with dialogue I could understand, I recommend it highly. Every bit as good as the first one.
     
  10. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    At long, long last, Island of Lost Souls is coming to DVD and Blu-ray, as part of the Criterion Collection.

    I'm really looking forward to owning a copy. I've been able to catch it on TCM a couple of times, but it'll be great to see it restored and in high definition. Plus interviews with John Landis and David J. Skal.

    Good stuff! :techman:
     
  11. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Yes! :bolian: I've wanted to see this for a long time and never managed it. It's coming out on 10-25, which is a little close to Halloween; I hope I can get it in time for my annual marathon.
     
  12. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Excellent news!
     
  13. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I just finished reading Richard Matheson's Hell House. If anyone is looking for a really good haunted-house novel, I recommend it highly. It was the basis for a movie, The Legend of Hell House, which is also supposed to be pretty good. I'm looking forward to checking that out.
     
  14. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    ^^ Thanks for reminding me. I bought that a while back and then loaned it to my Sister before reading it. :rommie:

    Earlier today, I ordered a copy of Told You So, a new anthology containing a story by our own Ruaidhri. The publisher, Pill Hill Press, has a few other Horror anthologies that look pretty good, too. They're also looking for submissions for a couple of upcoming anthologies, so I may see what I can cook up (they say no reprints, so I don't think they'd accept anything from my self-published books).
     
  15. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    And Told You So turns out to be pretty good. Ruaidhri's story is the first one and it's quite creepy and unnerving, with an atmosphere similar to stuff like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. But I was also impressed with the originality of the concept and the verisimilitude of the science. :bolian:

    I've also been reading Larry Blamire's Tales of the Callamo Mountains, which is a collection of his Horror-Western short stories that he's self-published thrugh Lulu (the same company I use :mallory: ). They're very good so far and not what you'd expect from the guy who brought us Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and Dark And Stormy Night. These are serious and subtle stories. They don't rely on fright or gore, but rather a moody fear that creeps up your spine. Good stuff. :mallory:
     
  16. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So, I watched The Amityville Horror (1979) for the first time last night. I was a little underwhelmed.

    I thought it was actually a decent Exorcist/Omen clone for most of its length, though it had a tendency to leave plot threads dangling. The story of Father Delaney, for example, could have been dropped without affecting the rest of the movie at all. Ditto the discovery of the Red Room. And ditto the father's resemblance to the killer.

    But the ending sucked. It just sucked. I almost would have preferred a cheap sequel-setup scare.

    Similarly, I read John Shirley's novel Cellars (1981) recently. This is supposed to be an important influence on the rise of splatterpunk and 'extreme horror'. Edward Lee, for example, has written a foreword to the new edition, citing it as a major inspiration. And, unlike The Amityville Horror, the ending of Cellars was the best part--very thrilling.

    The problem in this case was the rest of the book, which struck me as rather dull and meandering.
     
  17. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Ah, Amityville Horror. That was the year I graduated. I guess it says something that I saw it but remember not a bit of it (and, no, it doesn't say that I partied too much that year :rommie:).
     
  18. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Already time to rename this thread for Hallowe'en. Crazy. :eek:

    A few weeks ago I finished OVERWINTER by David Wellington. It was swell, though I think I liked FROSTBITE a little more. I've pre-ordered 32 FANGS, Wellington's last chapter in his entertaining-as-heck vampire series.

    Two days ago I finished Johnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark Season by Norman Partridge, author of DARK HARVEST. It's Cemetery Dance book, so it's a nice little volume. It's a small book of short stories, with one non-fiction piece where Partridge talks about growing up in Vallejo, CA during the time of the Zodiac killer, and the Hallowe'en after the first victim made the news. It's an interesting description of experiencing the difference between childhood horror and real fear.

    It's a good little book, wrapping up with a short story that serves as a sort of sequel to DARK HARVEST, telling the story of another year's October Boy. Great little read.

    I've just started a new Hallowe'en anthology appropriately titled HALLOWEEN. It's a great-looking book, with some good authors. I've read the Lovecraft story in there, and a couple of others sound familiar, but the book seems worthwhile.

    I think the last one I'll have time for is THE PUMPKIN MAN by John Everson. This'll be my first Leisure Horror purchase since they switched to trades. I'm getting it in a couple of days; I hope the quality is good. The story sounds fun.
     
  19. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Those sound pretty good, although I think I've read a lot of Halloween. I'll probably order one of the other two for my Halloween Marathon. Probably Johnny Halloween, since I enjoyed Dark Harvest.

    I finished Blamire's Anthology, Tales of the Callamo Mountains. Usually with anthologies I read a couple of stories and then put them down to dip into randomly, but I read this one straight through. As I said, they are not humorous. They read more like folk tales, but with a unique voice; one story, about a cowboy killed in a riding accident, was pretty touching. Good stuff.

    I think I will read World War Z leading up to Halloween and then decide on some anthologies and movies. My Marathon will be a little disrupted this year, since my Brother has decided to get married that weekend. Punk kid's got no respect for tradition. :rolleyes:
     
  20. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading and Viewing - 2011

    I think you'll like JOHNNY HALLOWEEN, if nothing else but for the Dark Harvest tale. Just bear in mind that it's small in stature and only runs 125 pages.

    Another anthology I've gotten recently is called HOUSE OF FEAR: An Anthology of Haunted House Stories. I won't have time to read it for Hallowe'en, but it came highly recommended. I'll probably dig into it before the end of the year.

    I also grabbed Halloween 1 and 2 on Blu-ray. I try not to double-dip and re-buy too many movies that I have on DVD, but I've made exceptions for ones I really like. Halloween 2 has, as a special feature, the full-length documentary "Terror in the Aisles," which is almost worth the price of the disc itself. It's a very strange choice for a special feature, but I'll take it.

    I also grabbed A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 & 3 on Blu-ray. Not much in the way of features, but two movies on one disc, with very nice transfers.

    I got a bit of Hallowe'en non-fiction with Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night. Most non-fiction books focus on the roots of Hallowe'en, which is obviously great, but the nice thing about this one is that it focuses more on what it's become. Cool book.