horror

/Tag: horror

Reading horror films.

As someone who enjoys horror but is incredibly susceptible to jump scares—and thus tends to enjoy horror On Her Own Time rather than in, for example, a move theatre—I feel this review of the Hereditary Wikipedia page, which I too have read, really speaks to me, y’know?

For the record: yes, as a kid I both used to read all the back covers of horror VHS tapes and the blurbs of all the horror novels in the bookstore. Nowadays I just read the horror novels outright (assuming I can find any), and I’ve since watched most of the “VHS classics” on Netflix (on the whole, I’ve not found any particularly scary). And the main thing I’ve discovered? Well… the reality of the works is almost never as scary as I’d imagined from reading the summaries.

Or, as the King once said (paraphrasing William F. Nolan):

Nothing is so frightening as what’s behind the closed door […] You approach the door in the old, deserted house, and you hear something scratching at it. The audience holds its breath along with the protagonist as she/he (more often she) approaches that door. The protagonist throws it open, and there is a ten-foot-tall bug. The audience screams, but this particular scream has an oddly relieved sound to it. “A bug ten feet tall is pretty horrible,” the audience thinks, “but I can deal with a ten-foot-tall bug. I was afraid it might be a hundred feet tall.” […]

What’s behind the door or lurking at the top of the stairs is never as frightening as the door or the staircase itself. And because of this, come the paradox: the artistic work of horror is almost always a disappointment. It is the classic no-win situation. You can scare people with the unknown for a long, long time [but sooner or later] you have to open the door and show the audience what’s behind it. And if what happens to be behind it is a bug, not ten but a hundred feet tall, the audience heaves a sigh of relief (or utters a scream of relief) and thinks, “A bug a hundred feet tall is pretty horrible, but I can deal with that. I was afraid it might be a thousand feet tall.”

Incidentally, that quote is from an essay in Danse Macabre, published in 1981, and The Thing That Happened between now and 1981… well, there’ve been a few. But one of the big ones, particularly where horror is concerned, was the influence of Asian horror in the early ’00s. Things like The Ring and The Grudge and what have you. And the thing I think that kind of horror does extremely well—and the thing it brought in to Western horror cinema—was understatement. Think about something like A Tale of Two Sisters, which has both almost no conventional (Western) “bug reveals” and yet I found almost unwatchably oppressive and tense. Modern Western horror films, like It Follows or The Babadook or The Ritual, are the direct descendants of that influence.1 Compare and contrast, for example, The Void, a film made in a more “oldskool” style, which I enjoyed for the body horror (i.e. bug reveals) but found kinda meh, atmosphere-wise (at least it wasn’t a thousand foot bug!). Or even the TV show of The Exorcist, which has some great set-pieces—both of the grotesque and of the tense varieties—but that I never really felt hung together in any cohesive way.2

Tl;dr, horror is hard. And nothing you ever put on screen will ever be as terrifying as what a reader imagines from reading the film’s summary on Wikipedia. Go figure, I guess.

  1. For the record: I enjoyed-and-found scary The Babadook, was kinda meh on The Ritual, and actively dislike It Follows. Other entries on this list would be things like The Witch (meh) and Get Out (still on the to-be-watched pile). []
  2. Particularly its demons. Its demons were all over the place, mostly because I think the show wanted too much have-its-cake-and-eat-it-too in the sense of having both “demons are incomprehensible grotesque corrupting horrors” and “demons are basically snobby rich people who enjoy participating in vaguely antisemitic-smelling conspiracy plots”. Which… fine. Except it was often the same demon acting in both roles, which… why would it do that? Why would arrogant an fallen angel who considers humans beneath it also spend time scrabbling through the mud eating raw seagulls? A little consistency, please! []
2018-06-26T09:26:37+10:0017th December, 2018|Tags: film, horror, pop culture, wikipedia|

サイレントヒルのうた みんなでうたおう

This transition [in the videogame industry], mostly due to boring shifts in economic and market values, afflicts the horror genre most deeply. Japanese-led horror prizes the abstract, the unknown—ghosts in the family mansion, the secrets people keep from themselves, and all manner of accidental mysteriousness due to cultural gaps and differences in design priorities (bad translations, hollow voice acting and clumsy controls are often what makes these games feel so artful and disempowering, but were probably not intentional choices, as much as we wish they were). A world where Western development has economically and culturally dominated means that clean power fantasies and big-budget cap-and-slash are the norm.

We were raised on blunt, unpleasurable slogs through ill-lit rooms, desperately rattling locked doors. We now have elegant festivals of dismemberment, an arsenal of powerful weapons, and the villain’s motivations are always revealed and understood in full by the end. The scalpel-wielding nurses with their bandage-wrapped faces were a metaphor for entropy and sexual frustration, probably. I mean, we thought so. These days, you automatically tap-flick the fast zombie’s head off before it erupts in well-documented scientific mushrooms.

— Leigh Alexander sings the song of Silent Hill,

Anyone who’s read Liesmith will know its aesthetic is, um, really influenced (to put it mildly) by Silent Hill 2, which was my first SH and absolutely scared the shit out of me when I was about 19 or so.

The SH franchise might live on, but it won’t be doing it coming out of a big budget studio; it’ll be from the indie scene, like most of the actually scary scary horror games of the last few years (e.g. AmnesiaFive Nights at Freddie’sSlender).

(Speaking of which: for people who liked SH’s combination of ambiguous plot, creepy atmosphere, awful fucking controls, and batshit insanity, y’all should go check out Pathologic, which was a terrible-great game from a decade (?) or so ago, which is getting a Kickstarted remake.)

2019-04-29T11:35:17+10:0020th June, 2015|Tags: gaming, horror|

The horror of the box.

The reason why Too Many Cooks works so well is the same reason, I think, that The Cabin in the Woods works so well. Both of these works understand that genre is a b̷o̷x̷̛: it’s a rigid form whose contents are not allowed to stray beyond the boundaries.

But what they also realize is that horror stories are also a b̧̢̡́ớ͟͏̕x͠: they’re a contained environment which is invaded by a lethal threat. What the two do is overlay these separate ideas: the genre i̵s͞ ͟a b̢͞҉̵o̵̕͟͜͡x̷̨͢͠, a͘n͢d̢ there’s this invasive, malicious force that knows that, and thus knows how to break the genre rules to its advantage, torturing and hunting the people who are forced to haplessly play along to convention against their own will. The characters can’t break out ǫ̛͜f͡ ̸҉ţ͘h͜e̛͡ b̧̡̰̻̫͘͡͡ͅo҉҉̼̹͚͖͙͢x̛̳̪̳̥̻̻͉̖͕̫͎͚̠͔̭̮̬́͘ͅ. T̷́̀h͘ę̛y̕͡ can’t even avoid being in front of the camera, behind their floating names.

Though, eventually, both these works feature a moment in which one character gets free and punches through the walls o̸̵͝f҉͝ ̕t̴h̴̡e͝͡ b̧̪̬̼̜̠̦͕̼͚͟ờ̴͉͍̗̟͎͙x̵̷̶̛͎̭̲̳͉̤̬̹̦̭̬̹̻̞͚̰̻, i̢̨͟n͘ ̢͘b͟͢ơ̧t̵̛h̷̡ ҉̨occasions due to a technical glitch. What follows is an Alice-in-Wonderland behind-the-scenes moment where you see a̧b̢̛s̸̸ú͞r̢d̶̢̛ ͢͡r̢͞ȩ̷a̷͟͠l̷̷̀i̛z̸̨a̶̸͜t͝i͟͡oņ̴s̡ ̡̀of how a story is made. In The Cabin in the Woods, it’s the giant underground warehouse of m̕͏͏͔̝̝͍̺̩ơ̙̤n҉͇͔̗̗̳̯̦͜͡s̢̞͙̝͚̦̰͕̦t̢̼͎e̲̣͓̠͟r̵̦̟͉͕̫͔̩͇͜s͉̝̜͜. In Too Many Cooks, it’s t͜h͏̛͜e͞ d̵̛͍̺̠̀á̻̺͉͖͢r̸̦̼̞̺̱̯k̵̢̘,̷̹͇͍͙̩̖̬͞ ̧̩̙̱͕̘̤͉̮͜s̷̮̤͚̠̩͝t̨̪̤͈̬̦̞͚ŗ̠͖͝a̢̧͕͢ņ͈̱͉̤͞g̢̩͚̯̟͎͙͖͙͝ẹ̣͇̼̖͔̰̕͞ b͡ác̴̛kl͡o̴t̛ w͏h̢e̷̢͝r̕e̶ ͘͟f̨̕҉̩̤͓̖̲̮i̫̭͚̭g̵̼̫̤͚̬̺̝͜u͉̠͖̤͡͝r͏͓͙̩̬͙̙̲̟͢͠e͏̭͕̲̗͚̣͍̣̗̕s̯̞̱̱̗ͅ ̶̝̝̹̼͚̲̠̤s͏̗͉̠̀͞t͘͏̻̣͍̘̤͠á̜͓̗̪͠n̩̖̞̗ḍ͕͠͡ͅ w͞í͞th͢͡ tḩ̡̛e̸̛i҉̡͠r name titles h̶͇̤͈̘̤́͠ą̧̛̻̱̰n͎̳̫̬̳̥̲̰g̳͜͞i̩͚̻̼̪n͍g͍͚̪̠̘̜͓͇ ̸̮͇͙̲̺͈͉̞́f̡͍̟̳̮̬̗̬͞r̦̹͔̩̰̳̰͇̕ǫ̠͙̳̟̘m̢͍̠̳͕̘ͅ ̹̩͝ṯ̸̛̕h̪͕͕̙̻͈͇̕ͅe̥̙͢i͍͔͞ŗ̜̹̝̞̮͙̺͙ ̲͖̳̼͙͇c̸̸̛͎̠̟̰͓̱͓h̡͓̲͝ͅè͟҉͍̙͖̦s͕̲̕͡t̵̢̗̗̝̻͎s̨̛̼͕̖̠͇͖͖̪̤.

This w̞̤̭̼̺ḭ̥̦̻l͇̠̠͓̹̻l̞͙i̲̙̣ͅn̺g̙̞̣ṇ͕e͚͔̜͉̭͇̙s̞̹̮̜͙͙̖s̹̖̦̖̠͓ ̙̟to penetrate into the infrastructure of story an̩̪̘d̪͍̩̭̣ ̖̩̪̖͔͖͕e͉̻̭̣n̼͔͍t̫̱͍̻͕̥e̖̤͇͔͈r̻̯͔̲͍̪̺t̙̣̖ạ̫̠̙̯i͙̩͚̫͙̻̲nm͖ent̺͖̰̟, ̩̣̳̲̬̼t͈̞͕͉̯̥h̹e ͇̲͙͉̣͎ù̹͔̦̜͙n͏̤̯̞̼̞̙̻t͍̠̙̺͖̳h̠̗̘o̮͙̞u̞̳̱̩̜̮̼ǵ̦̺̭̤̯̹h̳̥t̸̳̭̼̙ͅ ̱̜̼̻̠̪͍͜o̴͇̭̣̤͉f̩̦͟ ͇͍̺̰͟i̗͓͎̺̣̱n̻̝̗̤̙͈͓t͔̫̫̬̪͕e̫̯̥̭̤̫͈r̴̠̦̗̝s̲̱̬̘̬ti̸̻t̛̙̝̮i̪͍͕̗̹͞ͅa̷̺̻l̰̰̯͕͞ ̡͚͙̹̖̤p̲͔͎l͈̞̺̜a̤͇̲c̭̻̝̤̹e̞s̬̞̹̗̹,̸̜̥͍͉̻m̧̜̲̔ͦ̔͌̍a̤̤̥̠̙̗͎ͤͯͩ͠k͐͒̓͛̀ḙ̩̲̩̘̝̪̐̌̔ͪ̌ͧs͖̝̰̲͉͖̪̈̒͑ͮ ̛̜͔͈͔̗̘ͬ̏ͦ̚t̶̞̹̺̰̱͑ͨh̊̊̉ȇͦͪ͐̏̊̍ ͕̦̦ͬ̓͋p̰̠̟̲̰̲̙̅ͬ͡r͎̘̥͕͚̾̈ͧ̃͒ͫọ̞̞̥̣̱̑͋̋́̊͑̊dͮ̄́ͣ҉͚̻̜̤̖͇͈u͕̗͊ͬ́̑ͫ͜c̤ͩ̿̄ͫ͐͋̚͝t͓̠̥͔̠̲̻̆̽͆͊̎ͩ ̢̬̮͇̫̝͗–̝̜͖̓̽ͩ̃ͬ̂́t̷̼̯̣͌ͭ͂̂ͧ͞h͚͍ͩͩ͑̅̈́̇͑͝͠e̵͙̫̰̞̫̫̺ͫ̅̽̄ͅ ̱͈̠̌͂ͬͧͬ̊̑͟T̳̭̰̳͍͙͈̓ͤV̥̤̬̪͉͇̗̬̀͋͂ͬ̆̚̚ ̾̉̉҉͇́ͅṣ̴̘̞̌̆͜ẖ͗ͯ̊̊́̀͘ŏ̩̙͓̼̭͐͝͝ẇ̹͉̋ͨ̍ͨͫ̔ͤ̍͝,̪̙̻̣̣̖̻̮̈́́ͮ̒͐̎͝ ̛̝̺͆̿ͨͧ̃̽̋̚ó̸̞̰̳͍̣͈ͪͩ́ͩ̽̚͝r̖͇̬̼̺̟̞ͥ̅̏ ͒͆͛̂ͧ̚͏̱̰͢t̮̳͍̻̘͚̤̭̞̀ͮ̚h̶̢͎͉̃̽ͤͤḝ̝̬̳̭͖͓̭̋ͮ̅͆̅̑̒́ ̖̩͍̘̇̂ͤ̆ͮ̍́͜͜ḧ̰̙́ͫ͟ǫ̨͎͖̱̖̼̩̱̋̽ͦͯ̑̌ͭ͂̍͞r̛̜͍̫̦̪̩̽͆͝r̨̻̰̱͍͕̪ͥ̽ͫ̃̓ͭ̕͝ǫ͔͕̟̠̦̠̪͕́̈͒̊̑ͣ̚ͅr̢̼͛̐ͥ͂ͭ̅ͨ ̨̣̰͖̪̻ͫ̿̅̏ͪͪ̒̂ͬ͜ś͙ͩ̀̑͂͐͗̋͘͜ṯ͎͍̮ͣ̎̈ͪ̽ͬ͘o͕̘̬͚ͭ̉̎ͤ͢r̴̞̪͚͎̰̗̟̱͔͑̊y̴̗̥̲̻̙͑̿̽̒̑́ ͕̟̬̯̲̠̺͉̩̃̃͌ͥ̔̂͜–̨̘̝̮̩͇̲̭̼͒͛̈́ͬ͆ͧͥf̡͔̟͙͎͔̩̥͍̖͉͚̳͖̪͓̬͑ͩ͆̍̌͊́͝è̶̷̬͈̤̹̫͍͈̯̼̹̩̝̒̊̽͛͋̇̉͘ė̶̵͈̦͙͖͕͔̤̖̻͉̹̯̠̖̮̃͆͂̔͑̔́̒̃ͭ͛̕͡ͅlͥ͐̏̈̆̈ͩ̾҉̢̰̪̻͖͈̻̪̩̙̯̭̼̣̺͚͖ͅͅͅ ͓̼̤̩̑ͦ͐̐̂͋͋ͤ̆̅͒ͭ̈́̎̕͘a̴̛͈̱̳̲̖̗̱͔̺̦͆̾̊̇͊͊͂̎ͧͦ̀̚͘ͅl͌̓̔̊͑͏̯̱͙͓͙͕̥̦̘̰̬͓̠̣̠̱͞ͅl̶̵͋͂ͫ̄̄̀͡҉̺̞̫͎̹̟̖̦͎͖̰̹̰ͅ ̘̫̻͚̖̘̿̑ͮͭ̈ͨͭͩ͂͐ͯͪ̂̆̆́̕t̡̛̏͗ͬͮͬ̐̌̊ͫ̅͗ͪ҉̫̜̗̮͓͔̤͚̳̥̝h̷͐̉ͧ̽ͪ̓̄̂͂̆̓̌҉̪̣̹̥̫͈͚̰̬͔͚͇͟ę͈̠͔͈̯̖̬̭͔̬̗̹̗͎ͫ̈̉͊̐͗̐̋̄̃̔̾̒͜͝ͅ ̂͑ͩ̏̅ͧ͏̕҉̵̮̙̣͚̠͕̤̫̘̻̤̻̗̤̗̗̬̯m̸̨̘̳̮̠̤̤̺̲͈̄̽̓͑ͪ̆̃͋̕ǫ̶̛̪̞̯̮ͦ̒͆̍̽ͬ̒ͥ̂ͦ͟͝r̢̢̖̭̰̞̗̼͓̗̲̓͒̉̄ͯͨ͛ͣ̓̏̃̀e̸͖̦̞̗̥̳̯̹̣̗̘̦̬̳ͬ̇͋̐ͨͣ̿ͣ͗͛ͧͤ̈̂̀ͅ ͮͪ͒ͨ͋͐ͨ̊ͨ̈́͗͋҉͏̢́͏͔͉̘̞͇f̸̫̟̞̹͕̙̲̱̙̲̤̌̒́͆̉̕͜a͂̆͗̒ͪͧ́̓͂͗ͨͣ̂ͩ҉̢҉̰̼͖̠̟̝͖̖͍̟͖̠͍͖͙̫b̶̟̹͕̟̬ͣ̀̉̅ͥͥͧͦ̊ͪ͆ͩ̽͞ṟ̴̞̤͓̳̖̻̪ͨͬ͑̋͑ͦ̓̚͡i͗̆́̄̋҉̝̱̘̹̣̘̣͈̜̺̘̖͍͎͖̪̞͘c̢̞̭̪͖̦̘̙͕ͥͧ̚ͅă̛̐͊̍̏̅͋̍̌ͣ̽̒͞͝҉͈̤̺͚͎̪͙͓t̴͍͚̥͍̫͙̦͙̩̝̑̽ͧͣ̌ͯ̍ͧ̂̀ẻ̴̮̺̤̭̺͙ͥ̒́͘͟d̸̵̨̤̮̞̹̳̖͓̖͂͂ͦ̓̈́̈́́̎͐̀͘ͅ ̸̧̥̗̞̯̑̃͑̽́ͧͥͣ̋͗̈́́ą̧ͯ̽͗͑͛͘҉̡͕̲̦͙̲͔̪̖̠̰̜ń̛ͯ͆͆̂̌̎ͫ͐̅͒̈́̌̒̓̚͏͈̘̩͍̦̜̩͈͡͝d̵͊̓̈́ͯ̉̎͌̽̊̃̀̍̚҉̛̳̯̥̤͚̬͚͙͈̣̗͇ ̸̢̰̹͎̘̘̰̱̉͌̅̅̋̄ͦͭ̋ͪ͒̂ͯ̅́ͥ̀͞͞a̡̻͓͎̰̻̞͕̻̜̰̱̻̯͉̜̗͈͆͛̈́̐̀̽̊ͪ͛̏̍ͫ̓ͣ̆ͬ̕͢͠͝ͅr̨̡͇͎͇̝͙̣̄ͨͥͨ͊ͦͯ̑͗͌ͧͦ͋͐͐̎̚̚b̷̟̰̫̯̟̳̗͉̞̖͎̭͉͇̣̺̉̽̄̈ͩ̆̋̄̓͗̎̅̃ͦ͑̈̆̃͜͟͜͠ͅî̵̵̪̘̲̬̝̳͔͈̰̰͖̠̝͎̃͗͂͌͒͒̆ͩ́ͩ͢t̷̒̍͗̋̄ͪ̈ͩ̉ͧ̀͟͏̩̫̪͕̼̫̟̩̪̮̮̬̘̖͇ͅř̵̵ͤͣ̉ͦͪ̾͜҉͙̭̝̹̘̱̜̥͕̳̝̙̘a͆̂ͣ̓ͯ̈͐̉ͩ͐̌ͥ̄̌̆̈̾̀͏̷̨͓̻̪̹̲̼̟̲̝͇̤̠͢ṟ̷̨̞̝̭͙͖̫̋ͤͣͬ̉̽̾̓̎̅̔́̍͜͜y̴̘͕̯̦͙̱̝̳̝̩͚͓̓̎ͥͯ́̊ͯ̀͑ͩ̉̈́͌ͮ̓͘͞.̋̑̋ͭ͗̓͏̱͙̖̥̟͉͖̯̻͔̺͘͟͠ ̷̰̠̩͙̭̜̮̠̻̮̜͇̓̂̓ͮ̐͗̕͜Ȧ̬͉̠̗͖͑͋̋̒̍̄̃͑͗ͬ̕̕͜͝n̴̸̲̝͈͉̟̮̣̜̲͖ͨ̈ͩͥ̂ͥ̓́̂̒͗ͪ̍͡d̷̘̟͈͖̩̦̪͙̟̮̺͔͇̈́͗͋͒͗͑͌̈ͬͧ̐̑̈́̏ͧ͌ͧ͡,͚͇̹͈ͥ̈́̾̎̌̀̕ ̵͇̻͙̤̘̻̫̫͇͖̖̻ͭ̾̉ͧ͘̕͠ͅͅt͖̠͈̯̞̠̣̰̗̼̦̯͎̮̱̭̖̟̻̊͗ͤͨͣ́̒͋̽͐̔ͦ̄ͦ̽̓̕h̹̪̯̣̆̄̿͗ͣ͋̂ͧ̃̿ͥ͒ͩͦͬ͜ư͙̼͚͉̻͙̼̺̫̖̩̰̪̘̐̀ͦ̌̓́ͯ̚͘s̨̹̭̘̝̝̞̓́̏̉͒ͨ̽͛̈́͗ͫͅ,̛̻̙̱̯͓̼̤̟ͣ̽̏͌͗͆͗̑ͧͧͧ̃̎͟͞͡ͅ ̧̏̈̀͂̽ͤ̉ͧ̋̓͢҉͏̦͇̠̲͉̩̻̘͎̻ẹ̼̣͈̞̙̗͔̝̝̙ͩ͆͌̈̈́̑͂̒̌ͦ̆̎ͫ́̌̓ͫ̚͜͡v̴̨̨̛̱̜̭̬̺̭̦͈̘̮̦͉ͥ̌ͨͣ̆ͭ̆ͨ͐ȩ̡͓͎̞̙̘̺̫̝̳̭͖͕͙ͣ̓͒̇͗n̏̔̀͐ͤͯ̂͆ͤ̈̄̽̆̂̾͐͑̀̉́͜͏̩͔̹͔̰̗̫̹͈̜͙ͅ ̲͍̺̼͙̤̰̤̹̬͇̹͈̻̞̪̞̑͐ͣ͂̏̈́͑̑̔̊̿̓̀̔͋̾̍̿͢ͅm̶̞̘̫̦ͣͪͪͭ̂ͫ̒̄̽͑ͫͬ̂̒ͣ̀̀ͦ̐ǭ̧̛͈̟͇̫͉͖̙̯̯̟̞̲͍̯͇͇̉ͩ̎̿ͮ̈́͋̒͑̌͞ͅr̷͈̯̯͚̩̥̟̭̳͇̦̼̭̮̗ͨ̿̾ͣͩ̋̓̌̏̄ͩ͑͆̑̆͒ͬͥ̿́͘e̶̡̪͖͙̱̞͙͕̙̟͍͒ͭͮ̃̃̐ͧ̒ͨ̌ ̂ͦ͛̃̒ͧ̔̉̒ͨ͒̓̂͏̧̛̟͉͈̮̀d̪̗̯̖̟̲̞̱̠̹̰͐ͤͣͬ̌ͮ̒̐͛̎ͣ̋̽ͦͥ̀̕ͅĩ̷̺͈̻͎̹̦̣̬̭̬̭̦̞̬̭̺̃̓͡ͅs̨̨͕̞̳͎̩͚̹̩̬͕͖̬͍̫̔ͪͮͬ̈ͬ͊̇ͭͤ̃ͨ͜ͅͅẗ̡́̈́͗̔̅ͮ̂ͫ̔ͤͯ̅ͮ͂̃̄ͦ̚̚҉͇̠̟̪̻̖̙̣̼̭͎͙͚̮̻͈̬̪ͅu̡̗̯̱̘̜ͥ̿ͤ͋̽̏͒̐ͨ͋͛̄̈̊̔ͩ͢ͅr̷̾͌̋̾̿͆̈́̑͛̌͆͟҉̵͔̼̳͖̱͚̺b̶͇̘̩̰͔̟̮̭͖̪̬̟͈̘̬̲̤͔ͦ͐ͭ͛͝ͅi̡̛͙̭̩͓͎̣̭͔̞͓͖̙̳̲̟͂̏ͯ̐̅̀̈́͂ͧ̈́̀ͨ̒̂̓̍ͩ͌̚͞͠͠nͮ̐̂̆ͯ͒ͦ̊̌̍ͦͨͬ͂̎̾̆̚͏̶̧̤̲̯̻̹̻̹̲̩͈̗̺̲̯̰̲͔͇́͞g̷̡̨̧̳̗͇̣̿͐̽̌ͨ͡.̧̗͔͔̹̖̤̘ͣ̑̉͋̌̉͐̂̆̄̐ͦͣ̽̂́̚

-̢̿ͪ̈́͂̾͆̑̂ͫ̾͏̷̢͇̜̦̬̲̫̙͍͎̜̜͝R̵̩̥͍̋ͮͨ͋ͮ͛̈̆̒̊͋̌͑͛ͥ̐̑̚͝ȍ̡̬̙̳̤͙̲̥̗͔̜͉̯̬̲͖̰͎̫̫̌̊̍̋ͭ͊̇ͯ̄b̛̫̮̯̠̼̤̜̤̰̭̳̖̹͙̓̃̇͌̓́̀͞ͅęͯ̈ͤͥ̎͜͏̳̲̻̮͙̟̯̦ȓ̵̷̛̻̞͉̯̩̗͇̽ͫ̍̏ͮ̿̔̋̀ţ̄̾̀͑̈́̄̌̈҉̰̹̗̯͖̣̗̟̕͜ͅ ̝̝͎̗̬͚̖̤̤͖̼͎̘͈̲̙̦̗̎͑̒̂̌ͯͭ́̅͐͛̒̈́ͭ͞ͅJ̵̨͍̱͎͎̰̯̝̙̫̿ͬͪ̐͋̆ͣ̚̕͘͝ã̧̰̲̪͓̺̻͉̟̭̗̙͒͒͗̉͌̈́͆̊́ͮ̌͂ͭ̅ͮ̅ͬ̐͘͝c̸̡̹̯͙̺͓̖̫̭̲̼̱̤̞̦̰̜̦̼̀͐ͫ͑͆͒̔͠k̟̻̬̖̜̫̯̭̽̃ͫͣͨ̾̀͘s̴̴̙̲̠̣̦̻̮̐̓̔̐͊ͨ̇̉̒̇̊̽̓͐ͣ͛͒̇͂ǫ̪̞̙̗͚̺̠ͭ̓͆ͫͬͧͭ̃ͨͮ̒̾͐ͦ̔̀͜n̢̜̘̭̹̦̮̖̳̙͚̟̈̿̎̽ͦ̔͂ͥ̉ͥ͐̔̕ ̷̙̘̫͍͈̺̣̠͙̰̘͒ͯ͂̆ͦ͗͒̓͆ͮ̚͘͡B̢̬̬̯ͮͮ̎̅͑̒̀́ȅ̪͚͓̞͉͓̱̖ͤ͗̂̋͌̎̓̕͢͞ņ̨̝̱͇̳̮͚͍ͬͨͦ̽̃̉̽ͦ͒̈́̒̀͠ṅ̛̛͙̦̺̺̞̔ͪ̍̅ͬ̈́̓̀̔̿̊́̚͝ę̵͉͎̳̱͍̱̫̗̤̣͎̪̗͕̱̥͎ͤͮ̄͆̿́͜t͎̙̝̝̥͔̥̠͎͍̼̗ͤ̅̂̊͂͐̌ͧ̐̎͛̈̀̕͝t̵̢͖̰̮̝͖͈̯̜͈̩̟ͯ̍̒͜͞ ̷̡̝͈̝̟̦̖͍͔̗̿ͪ͌͐̆̎̇̐̉̄͢͟t̡̙͍͔̭̯̪̝̹̓͑̿ͤ̊̒͒͒ͭ̔̊ͨͣ͞a͛ͫ̏̓ͥ̅͌͊̋̎̚҉̩̘̠̘̝͜k̻͓̙̲̅̑̃̄̃ͮ͗͒̾̈́̄͊̽̂͠͠e̶̱͉͎̘͇̖̣̠͌̃ͪ͆͗́̌́͘s̵͉̪̘̺̮̳͔̩̣̺̪̪̦̻͓͙͇̻̿̏̅͗͌̅͆̆͛̓͒̕͢ ̡̦̬̙͇̬͓̖̠̳̳̪̟̹͎̫̒̆̈́̂͑ͪ̈́̎̿̀͘ą̎̿̐̈́ͬ́͏̣̥̻̭̫̥͖̣̼͓͜ͅͅ ̐ͧ́̑̏̀͆̅̓ͨ̉͂͆̔̈́̍̐̽̕҉̨̖͍͓͎̼͚̼̤̕͝l̶̨̛̺̼͉͓̻̮͉̤̫̤̰̰̭͖̙͖̥̇̓͛ͤ̒̓ͨ̈͗ͤ̆̈́̊̂̓̌̀̚o̶̸̧̪̦̖̙̦̰̺̱̙̞͈̘̖͖ͭ̈́͂ͯ͌͌̀̽ͬ͊ͥ̓́͟t̢̗͖͍͙̯͖̭̖͚̗͖̮̯̆ͨ̋̉̏͊̀ͫͤͯ̒̑̓̉ͨ͘͝ ̸̨̩̰̩̩̙͖͍̞͎͓͈̻̝ͯ̌̇ͭ̾̿̾ͩ͂̚t̡̛͍̼̣̮̳͈̹̗̩̹̦̉̓ͪ͋̚͡ͅͅo̶̟̮̰̲̣̩͈̗͍̭͕̱̗̜̐͂̽ͣ͑͂͌̾̔̀͘͢͞ ̶̪̤̘̣̘̰̭̖̃͒̽͗͒ͫ͑ͪ͛̍̂͌͜ͅm̧̛͔͎̻̪̗̼̝͇̬͇͔̪̟̻̳͈̲̌̄ͦͨ̏͆̇͌ͥ̑́͞͝á̼̺̤̱̲̺̻͙̑̈ͣ̀̽̏͑̊̈́̋͛̂̕͜͢͠͞k̛̮̦̜̜̓̄ͩͪ͆ͥ̒̌ͬ̐̓ͭ̓ͯ͒͆ͬ̀͘ͅͅë̸̶͓̰̪̬̃͂̊̉ͫ̉ͣ̋̇ͯ͛͐͋ͨ̚͟͟͞ ͉̘̼͍̱͚̖̳͕̙͕̣̤̱͕͓̙̜͊ͥ̽͒̕͜͜͝ͅa̅̏ͤ̉̉̃̈́̽҉̢̡҉͏͚̘͇̝̞̭͖͎̗̯̫̣̫͈̜̳̞ ͗̄̅̿̂̊͏͚̳̘̠̩̝͚̩̙͘͠ͅs̢̡̛̪̭͖̬̱̼̩̣̦̫̬̞̬̞̲̗̲̟ͥ̈ͯ̂̂̅͐͌̿̽͋ͭͮ̓ͯ͊͊ͦt̨̠̲̩͉̻̣̞͔̭̯̟̣̳̺̣͔͚̟͌̐̓͗̇ͥ̋̅̇̆ͫ̇̓̽͊̚͡͞ḛ̡̫͇̹̞̼̥̗̠̍͋̓ͣ̈́͆͟͠ͅw̴̢̿͌̉҉̢̳͙̟͔̰̠̜̲̣̜̫̬̩̳̠͍.̵̡͉̝͙̘̲͍͉͉̘͓̬̝ͯ̅̇͑ͧ̔̉͌̓͟͠͝

2014-11-10T08:12:34+10:006th January, 2015|Tags: horror|

The politics of horror films.

I seem to recall a Stephen King quote citing horror as an inherently conservative genre, being that it’s largely about the fear of the unknown. This article argues otherwise, citing anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist messages in films such as They Live and Night of the Living Dead.

Except, see, here’s the thing. As a woman, it’s really hard for me to see horror as an inherently “progressive” genre due to its historically shitty treatment of women and other marginalised groups (“black guys dies first”, anyone?).1 Not to mention that the one genre the linked article cites as being “right wing” horror, slasher films, is also the one genre that is most likely to feature female characters in some sort of heroic role (the “final girl”). So… yeah. About that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the social politics of horror recently while watching through the Masters of Horror series. Season 1 was okay, with a couple of stand-out gems (notably the two episodes that revolved around the relationships of women). Season 2, on the other hand, has just been…

Urgh. If I have to watch one more story about some white guy cutting up his wife because of his midlife crisis manpain I think Imma gonna puke. (And don’t even get me started on the fact that the one episode here based on a story by a woman, Alice Bradley Sheldon/James Tiptree, Jr.’s “The Screwfly Solution”, is literally about mass gynocide. And I ended up skipping the episode after about ten minutes when the Obligatory Shrill Strawfeminist showed up. Lesigh.)

Anyway. It’s not like this sort of thing is limited to horror; sexist/racist/homophobic/et al. attitudes (not to mention endemic sexual abuse) are well-attested in men coming from otherwise ostensibly left-wing/progressive movements.

In other words: Pat yourself on the back for “critiquing” capitalism all you like. But if the only women in your works are there to show tits and die, then don’t expect me to laud you for your politics.

  1. Incidentally one of the few horror tropes not directly referenced by Sigmund in Liesmith. []
2018-05-22T08:56:02+10:001st January, 2015|Tags: culture, horror|

Pascal’s Basilisk.

Speaking of True Horror, here’s some hilariously awful Lovecraftian your-mind-makes-it-real conspiracy theory bullshit right here.

(And here’s the RationalWiki page on the same phenomenon, which includes a long section on debunking the “logic” behind the idea. Just. Yanno. In case you’re now also worried about it.)

2018-11-26T07:58:28+10:0031st December, 2014|Tags: horror, internet|

The haunted house so scary it has a safe-word.

Smell. Apparently the secret is smell.

I love horror but could never “do” a haunted house. Partly because my own house at 3am with the lights turned off is scary enough,1 but mainly because I am incredibly sensitive to jump scares. Seriously. The sight of balloons makes me anxious because I start imagining my own reaction–and, more importantly, my imagined other people’s reaction to my reaction, and my imagined embarrassment over it–if they should pop. So any kind of horror that relies on jump scares in any way, shape, or form just makes me angry and defensive rather than, yanno. Scared.

Hm. Maybe I should write a book about that. I’ll call it Social Anxiety: The True Horror.

  1. Fuck you, imagination! []
2018-11-26T08:07:28+10:0030th December, 2014|Tags: horror|

An extra in the story.

I’m going to tell you a story about a woman that I don’t know. I don’t know her name, and quite honestly, I don’t even remember her face. Instead, I remember what happened to her and my response.

This was at the beginning of my career and I was new to conventions. It was late one night, and several of us, including her, were in the lobby chilling out, as we are wont to do. This man walked up, and I was excited, swooning, because I knew him. Or at least, knew of him. Everyone at that convention knew him. He’s as close to famous as you can get without being Stephen King in the field. Anyway, we were all talking and chatting, and then the Famous Writer Guy bent over and stared directly into this woman’s face. Just hovering there, ignoring the rest of us, blocking her from us. The woman looked around Famous Writer Guy to continue the conversation. Then he started touching her, lightly rubbing his finger up and down her arm, and then poked her, hard. She held up her arm to block him and stepped away, doing her best to ignore him. Famous Writer Guy moved closer to her and began rubbing her again. She looked to me and to the group. She’s thinking what I’m thinking, “This is Famous Writer Guy, what can I say? If I scream at him to cut it out, I’ll look angry and as if I’m blowing it out of proportion. If I smile or talk to him, he’ll think I’m interested in him. I’m scared.”

But none of us said a word. Nothing to help her out. This was her problem. One that I was damn glad that I didn’t have, so that I could ignore the hell out of it.

After a moment, she gave this meandering excuse about needing to get up early and left. Famous Writer Guy wandered off shortly after. Finally, I leaned in and whispered to the guy beside me, “That was uncomfortable. I hate seeing it because I’ll never be able to see him the same way.”

The guy’s response: “He was drunk. He’ll be better in the morning.”

Famous Writer Guy would be better in the morning. He would feel better, so obviously everything would be better. No Name Girl didn’t matter. She was simply a character in Famous Writer Guy’s story, a throwaway stand-in that could perhaps help him become a better person. That was all.

–Chesya Burke on harassment in horror.

[Content warning in the above and at the link, for discussion of harassment and rape.]

Sorry for the long quote, but it’s hard to have the denouement without the set-up for this one.

Burke’s post in general is about harassment in the horror genre, and she explicitly queries the link between acceptance of harassment with acceptance with the over-worn trope of rape in horror fiction.

Something of an aside: I love horror in general but I am so fucking sick of rape as a plot device, especially as written by men. Recently, I read an anthology of Shirley Jackson stories. These aren’t “horror” in the sense of “monsters and zombies and gore, oh my!”, but definitely “horror” in the sense of “horrible things people do”. They’re also all very understated–Jackson’s most well-known story, “The Lottery”, is also arguably the least subtle–and, notably, almost all of them are about women and/or women’s concerns. It wasn’t until after I’d finished reading the book that it occurred to me I’d gotten through the entire thing without that usual feeling of “… urgh” I inevitably get when reading works by men. You know the one I’m talking about, ladies.

It was kind of a stunning realisation, particularly for stuff nebulously labelled as horror–I’m too used to that genre being packed with “… urgh” moments, even for writers I quite like–and particularly particularly for stuff written in the first half of the 20th century (Jackson died in ’65, and a lot of her stories deal with the suffocating life of the pre-60s housewife).

Anyway. The next book I flicked to was another anthology, this one of Ray Bradbury. Literally the second story in the book, called “The April Witch”, turned out to be the pinnacle of “… urgh” moments.1

Male authors, amirite?

Tl;dr, female voices, yo. Important for every genre!

  1. Seriously, dudes, if you don’t get what I mean by “… urgh” moments then go read this story, think about why a woman might react extremely negatively to it–and, spoiler alert, there’s more than one reason–and your essay is due back on my desk by Monday. []
2014-10-21T08:00:40+10:006th December, 2014|Tags: culture, cw: harassment, cw: rape, horror, sff|

Alis vs. Masters of Horror, season 1.

So hey guess what I found on Hulu? If you read the title and answered, “Season 1 of Masters of Horror” then ding ding ding ding! You win the prize!

What prize, you ask? Why, the prize of reading my thoughts on all the episodes, of course!

Let’s get started…

(more…)

2016-11-17T21:31:11+10:003rd November, 2014|Tags: horror|

Today’s todo: catching up on Marble Hornets.

If you don’t see me, it’s because I’m hiding under my desk terrified of coming out.

Seriously have I mentioned lately how much I love no-budget, nothing-happens, found-footage, oh-gods-nothing-is-happening-why-isn’t-something-happening-something-should-be-happening-auurgh! horror? Because I do!

(P.S. If, for some reason, you have not yet had the terror of MH, here’s the timeline.)

2013-12-07T08:09:06+10:007th December, 2013|Tags: horror, marble hornets, pop culture|

Reddit’s list of scariest books.

House of Leaves made number 1? I mean–

Wait. What do I mean? I own a (sadly black and white) copy of House of Leaves, which ended up being a lucky find in the bookstore one day. I’d heard about the book and was fascinated by the concept, but ultimately… disappointed by the execution.

Because, yes. The book is the labyrinth, the “leaves” and the pages, and so on and so on. I get it, it’s cute. My main problem with HoL was that, well, underneath the “cute” there wasn’t very much going on. A standard impossible geometry/haunted house sort of story, layered in with a deeply irritating, self-conscious meta-narrator of the “isn’t madness Hip and Cool!” variety. I read it, and it was engaging enough, but it didn’t leave me in awe of its execution, shall we say.

Except that wasn’t really what the question was, was it? It wasn’t whether the book was good, it was whether it was scary, and–let’s be honest here–they’re not always the same thing. For the most part–and with a few exceptions, such as an early scene with rulers–it was the woven narrative that didn’t click with me, in contrast to the story of the house. Because I confess I do have a bit of a soft spot for the labyrinthine unknown, as well as “found footage” narrative, so the dry, semi-factual descriptions of the endless black corridors twisting on for all eternity, occupied only by the sinister presence that lurks around every corner, just out of sight, that drags it awful bulk into the void between your ears and hides behind your eyes, hot-wet breath ghosting across the back of your neck and the hairs on your arms stand on end and the stench of

Point being, I guess I have a sort of… odd relationship to this book. I still wouldn’t say I think it’s great–it could’ve been, I think, but it isn’t–but, on the other hand… yeah.

Yeah maybe it is pretty scary, after all.

2015-09-07T08:01:21+10:005th December, 2013|Tags: books, horror, reddit|