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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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    I read some Straub years ago; I forgot every word within weeks. :rommie: Well, not every word; I still recollect 'and' and 'the.' ;)

    Stephen King is a puzzle. He was amazing in his prime, and he has an enviable prolificness. And I always loved his local color, being from New England myself. But I lost interest in him years ago. Part of it is his tendency to be so long winded. Even at the height of his powers, he was better at the short form than at novels. Part of it is the sameness, and that his postmodernism and crudity seem quaintly 80s. I really wish he would stretch his legs more. The stories collected in Different Seasons, which are among the best things he ever wrote, show that he has the potential to do more than crank out The Latest King Novel every few months. It's not like he needs the money-- he should experiment! :cool:
     
  2. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    What's even more puzzling is that he retired primarily because he was afraid that he'd run out of original things to say, and was now just "talking because the silence when [he] stops is just too spooky." The he unretires, and what does he do? Go back to writing exactly the same types of novels with exactly the same sets of concerns and conceits that he'd always been doing! When I read "Lisey's Story" I was hoping for some variation, but got another "artist-who-doesn't-understand-his-own-genius-and-whose-work-is-an-alternate-reality-that-is-horrifying-but-somehow-rejuvinating-so-it's-all-okay-MONSTER!" story. Like the zillion others he'd written. :lol:
     
  3. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    I think there's a lot more experimentation and range in King's recent work than he gets credit for. Sure, he still writes "The Latest King Novel" type books, like Duma Key or Cell or (God help us) Dreamcatcher, but there's also less classifiable work like Hearts in Atlantis, From a Buick 8, the end of The Dark Tower, and some of the more literary stories in Everything's Eventual. Like any writer he reuses some motifs and themes, but there's plenty of variation within them too. At any rate, I think he writes what he wants to write, and if he produces a lot of standard fare that's because he believes in that kind of story.
     
  4. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    Not Shadowland or Floating Dragon, apparently.
     
  5. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    That's a great review, Brendan. I think our opinions on King are pretty similar, so I might give Duma Key a look. I thought about waiting for the paperback in October, but now I see it's on Kindle for $9.99, so I'll probably snatch it up that way. Same for 20th Century Ghosts, which you mentioned earlier.

    Dracula was fun to read again, and the annotated version was pretty educational. Stoker wasn't an especially good writer, and the novel has some pretty weird flaws and lapses in logic, but I like it. :)

    I read Ghost Story a couple of years ago, and while I mostly enjoyed it, the last third/quarter kind of ruined it for me. I'll hold off on that until you've finished it, but I'm sure you'll see what I mean when you get there.

    I think it's one of those rare cases where the movie outshines the book, at least from a story/structural perspective. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that the movie had the good sense to just stick to, well, a ghost story. :lol:

    I'm not certain what I'll read next. I'll either read Return of the Wolf Man or another recent purchase, Jane-Emily: And Witches' Children by Patricia Clapp. The latter is kind of exciting, because I've heard about it for a while, but it's been out of print for thirty years. This new reprint is pretty sharp, and the reader reviews are overwhelmingly positive. I've been in the mood for "young adult" read, so I think it will fit the bill nicely.

    Here are a couple of recent DVD purchases that aren't quite horror, but they're sort of peripherally related:

    Houdini: The Movie Star. This set is great if you're a bit of a Houdini buff, like me. It's got all of the films in which Houdini starred, from 1919 to 1923, including the serial The Master Mystery. It's packed with additional bits, like some of his filmed escapes, and the only known audio recording of his voice, from a wax Edison cylinder. (The same clip heard here.) It's just a great little set from KINO. :techman:

    Icons of Adventure Collection. Ignore the crappy cover art, this is is a great two-disc collection of four of Hammer's adventure films. All four movies look pretty good, and you've got three of them with Christopher Lee, but it's actually The Stranglers of Bombay that had me most excited about this set. These are very rare films, so it's great to see such beautiful transfers. And if you don't want to see Christopher Lee playing a pirate, odds are I just won't like you very much as a person. :D
     
  6. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Are you recommending these two books?

    I've almost picked up Shadowland a couple of times.
     
  7. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    Yes, exactly; it's a bit cynical of him to charge for reruns-- like I said, he doesn't exactly need the money. :D

    I guess, but he has proven that he's equally adept at writing other genres. It's funny that you mention From A Buick 8, because I believe he mentioned that book's similarity to Christine as an example of why he wanted to retire. I do own Everything's Eventual, though; maybe I'll dig it out and take a look-- anyway, like I said, I've always found him to be superior at writing short stories.

    I think one was probably Floating Dragon; I was hanging out in Connecticut a lot in those days, and I think I remember that connection. The other was The Talisman, which I don't think I even finished.

    Wow, those are two nice finds, especially the Houdini DVD; I love that cool old stuff. :cool:
     
  8. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    That's... odd. Apart from both having supernatural events centered around a car, they're nothing alike. He's said in more recent interviews that the "retirement" had more to do with (temporary) pain, frustration, and depression after his accident than with any real change in how he thought about writing.
     
  9. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    I would recommend them, in fact -- I'd put them on a par with Stephen King's better stuff.. I haven't read much else by Straub, though I do recall his collaboration with King on The Talisman getting mixed reviews when it came out.

    The two titles I named were both nicely spooky, I thought, albeit in different ways; the first deals with magic and degrees of reality and the second with laboratory experiments and altered perception. It's been many years since I've read either one, and I'd very likely read them differently now, but I certainly didn't find either of them forgettable. (In fact, I distinctly remember reading the last several chapters of Floating Dragon in one go; I was up late, couldn't put the book down and had all of the lights in the room on because it was too freaky to read in the dark. :D )
     
  10. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    And not because From a Buick 8 was a dull, terrible novel where nothing happened? :lol: ;)
     
  11. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    Well, that makes sense. He certainly had every reason to be depressed. You don't happen to have a link to one of those more recent interviews, do you?

    Weird. I'm sure they're good. I guess it's just a matter of taste. Unfortunately, at this point, I couldn't even say what I found wrong with his stuff.

    No, he failed to mention that. :rommie:
     
  12. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    I looked a bit last night and couldn't locate one; I'll try again later, since I want to make sure I'm not misremembering.

    Edit: here's one:
    And another:
    And for anyone who's curious, here is a report of his original "retirement" announcement.
    Ah, From a Buick 8. I was enjoying it- not a lot, but enough to make it one of King's minor successes (like Duma Key. The fact that nothing much supernatural happens is kind of the point, as it's a book about the enduring presence of mystery in ordinary human lives. And then the ending dispelled the mystery almost entirely, by giving too much resolution to a story that wasn't about an evil car to begin with. One of the few book I've ever read where you could improve it just by chopping off the last twenty pages or so.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008
  13. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    Cool. Thanks for those links. I especially liked the second one, where he talks about spoilers and inconsistency being an opportunity, rather than a problem; I admire the creative mind that wants to work out solutions rather than just look the other way and whistle. :bolian:

    I dug out Everything's Eventual and read the foreward. It's a nice little essay on the sad state of the short story market. He's obviously a guy who cares about the world of writing. I was thinking that it's funny that he owns two radio stations, but doesn't seem to be involved in publishing at all. He should start a fiction magazine-- Stephen King's Tales Of Horror or somesuch-- and offer free advertising to other fiction magazines. ;)
     
  14. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    Hell, I'd buy it.

    I'm catching up on comics and stuff, so I haven't dived into a new book yet.

    Recent DVD purchases are:

    The Skull, which is one of those "Amicus does Hammer" flicks, to the point of getting Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to star in it.

    Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection 1 & 2, which isn't really horror, but it's got enough horror elements to blur the line a little. This is a great set. You've got your The Incredible Shrinking Man, Tarantula, The Mole People, etc. Fun stuff, and the Amazon price is $15-$20 cheaper than I've seen in stores. Most of these movies aren't available on DVD in the U.S. individually, so it's nice to finally have them. There isn't a lot in the way of special features, but that's okay with me. ;)

    Mad Monster Party. What? I wanted it. Be quiet.

    Edit: Oh, and the Criterion Collection edition of Vampyr comes out next week.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2008
  15. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    Nice. You just don't see movies about wealthy old skull collectors, anymore. :(

    That would be worth it just for The Monolith Monsters, an old staple of Creature Double Feature that I haven't seen in years. :D

    Ooooh, Rankin/Bass. With Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis. That's gotta be classic. Very odd that I don't remember it. :confused:

    Ah, that looks like a beauty. Right to the top of my list it goes. :D
     
  16. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    It's feature-length, so it never got the yearly rotation that the Christmas specials got.

    Plus, according to its Wikipedia article, it was available on VHS for a while, but the print was in bad shape. "...but recently Sony Pictures Television (which now holds the television rights) unearthed an original 35mm pristine print. This print was digitally remastered, and is the source for the current DVD issue and all subsequent television showings."

    I saw part of it on TV a year or two ago and immediately thought, Rankin-Bass did a Hallowe'en special?! and then I looked it up online to discover it was a movie. It's been on my "buy it if I spot it" list for a while, and I spotted it yesterday. ;)

    It's pretty silly, and a lot of fun. And you can bet I'll be using it for avatars come October. :D
     
  17. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    I have a list like that. The Great Santa Claus Switch is on it. That probably counts as horror, in a way. :D

    Mad Monster Party will definitely be a must-have for this Halloween. :cool:
     
  18. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    Speaking of Hallowe'en (why not?), my wife and I went to our local Michael's crafts store, and they already had some of the 2008 Lemax Spooky Town Collection. I couldn't resist picking up a few.

    I got this one for my desk. That's just too cool. If that pic isn't clear enough, it's basically all of the main Universal monsters (or "as close as we can get without being sued") going for a joyride. There's even a sort of Gill-man in there next to the Wolf Man, though you can't quite make him out. The only one that's missing is the Invisible Man ... or is he?

    My wife wanted this one, because she thought it was cute. So maybe that one will go in front of our wedding picture, on the mantle.

    I also got this swamp monster for my desk, just because he made me laugh when I saw him.

    We'll probably get more once we start actually getting close to October. :lol:
     
  19. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    That's funny, I was about to post that that's my favorite. Not just classic monsters, but a classic car! :D

    There seems to be an empty space next to Drac. :D

    That's a great bunch of figures, and kind of an odd mix of cool and funny. There's a nifty Sphinx right next to a haunted outhouse. :rommie: Too bad about the 'retired' section; some of the best ones are in there...

    Appropriate. :bolian:

    And that reminds me that the swamp monster retrospective from TwoMorrows still hasn't come out.... :(
     
  20. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

    I'm 28 pages into Return of the Wolf Man, and it's pulpy fun so far. It picks up right at the climax of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. It's got funny little winks to the movie, like how he's drawn to people who are in a state of fear, and how the "chubby little man" had more fear than he'd ever sensed in a human being. :D

    It's already had some Wolf Man, some Count Dracula, and Larry Talbot wringing his hands when he's restored to humanity.

    It's still got more blood in it than I guess you'd expect from a Universal Monsters book. I suppose it makes sense--even though it's not shown in the movies, he's not exactly hugging his victims down to the floor. And he's not very scary if all he does is grab his victims and shake them until they fall over.

    Still, it's a little weird. But so far, so good.

    For movies, I've been on more of a classic sci fi kick lately because of the DVD set mentioned upthread, but I recently watched The Cat and the Canary, which was great. I like KINO's restorations.

    There are some upcoming things I'm looking forward to, like Creepy Archives from Dark Horse and The EC Archives: Haunt of Fear, which looks to be another fine entry in this great line of books.

    I'm excited that we're finally getting a set of the first season of the underrated Friday The 13th - The Series. It (wisely) had nothing to do with the film series, and just told some solid stories. I haven't seen any of these since they aired, so I'm really looking forward to it.

    A surprise release is Icons of Horror: Hammer Films, which looks to be following the Icons of Adventure set I mentioned before. They've cobbled together four Hammer films that are (as far as I'm aware) out of print: The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, Scream of Fear, and at long last, The Gorgon.

    Maybe there's some hope that they'll re-release The Abominable Snowman.
     

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