Friday, October 31, 2014

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allen Poe

The Oval Portrait as narrated for SFFaudio by me and also by Wayne June. Take your pick as to which interpretation you like best! I personally like Jesse's illustration most of all. Check it out!

Worth a Thousand Words: Halloween

Halloween, Grandma Moses
via WikiArt
You know, I've never been a Grandma Moses fan. However, I do love this painting because of all the little details of what the community is doing for Halloween. And that made me take another look at more of her paintings. Along that same line of thinking, I actually can appreciate them more now. Go to the link to see more of her work. And take a look at this one up close. Very enjoyable and Halloweeny.

Halloween Lagniappe: The Autumn People

For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ's birth, there is no Bethlehem star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles -- breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.
Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Proof that horror fantasy can also be poetic.

St. John Bosco's Ghost Story

This is a little reminder that tomorrow is All Saints' Day (formerly known as All Hallow's Day), without which we would not have Hallowe'en (formerly known as All Hallow's Eve).

Nothing like a saint telling a ghost story to both celebrate spookiness and also ... saintliness!
While a young man, St. John Bosco (1815-1888) and his friend, Comollo, agreed that whoever died first would return and give a sign about the state of their soul. Comollo died on April 2, 1839. The evening following the funeral, Bosco sat sleepless on his bed in the room he shared with twenty seminarians.

“Midnight struck and I then heard a dull rolling sound from the end of the passage, which grew ever more clear, loud and deep, the nearer it came. It sounded as though a heavy dray were being drawn by many horses, like a railway train, almost like the discharge of a cannon…While the noise came nearer the dormitory, the walls, ceiling and floor of the passage re-echoed and trembled behind it…

Then the door opened violently of its own accord without anybody seeing anything except a dim light of changing colour that seemed to control the sound…Then a voice was clearly heard, ‘Bosco, Bosco, Bosco, I am saved.’… The seminarists leapt out of bed and fled without knowing where to go. … for a long time there was no other subject of conversation in the seminary.”

Happy Halloween!

Jack O Lanterns
From morganglines at Flickr, some rights reserved

"Hallowe'en in a Suburb" by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
And the harpies of upper air,
That flutter and laugh and stare.

For the village dead to the moon outspread
Never shone in the sunset's gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep
Where the rivers of madness stream
Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

A chill wind weaves through the rows of sheaves
In the meadows that shimmer pale,
And comes to twine where the headstones shine
And the ghouls of the churchyard wail
For harvests that fly and fail.

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change
That tore from the past its own
Can quicken this hour, when a spectral power
Spreads sleep o'er the cosmic throne,
And looses the vast unknown.

So here again stretch the vale and plain
That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
Sprung out of the tomb's black maw
To shake all the world with awe.

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,
The ugliness and the pest
Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,
Shall some day be with the rest,
And brood with the shades unblest.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,
And the leprous spires ascend;
For new and old alike in the fold
Of horror and death are penned,
For the hounds of Time to rend.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Worth a Thousand Words: Impression, Sunrise

Impression, sunrise, Claude Monet, 1873
via WikiArt
You can read more about this at WikiArt but I included it because it looked hauntingly foggy.

Halloween Lagniappe: No live organism...

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
The opening paragraph from the book I consider to be the best ghost story ever written. A bold claim but true.

Padre Pio's Ghost Story

Speaking of ghosts, since Halloween is almost upon us ...
Padre Pio told the story of being in the choir alone one evening to pray. He heard rustling and looked up to see a young monk dusting and straightening up the altar. When he asked who the monk was, he was told: “I am a brother of yours that made the novitiate here. I was ordered to clean the altar during the year of the noviciate. Unfortunately many times I didn’t reverence Jesus while passing in front of the altar, thus causing the Holy Sacrament that was preserved in the tabernacle to be disrespected. For this serious carelessness, I am still in Purgatory. Now, God, with his endless goodness, sent me here so that you may quicken the time I will enjoy Paradise. Take care of me.”
Portrait of Padre Pio by Solomenco Bogdan
via Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Worth a Thousand Words: Last Leaf Left

Last Leaf Left
taken by Remo Savisaar

Halloween Lagniappe: When the Night Wind Howls

From Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan.
When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls, and the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds, sail over the midnight skies –
When the footpads quail at the night-bird's wail, and black dogs bay at the moon,
Then is the spectres' holiday – then is the ghosts' high-noon!

Ha! ha!
For then is the ghosts' high-noon!

As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees, and the mists lie low on the fen,
From grey tomb-stones are gathered the bones that once were women and men,
And away they go, with a mop and a mow, to the revel that ends too soon,
For cockcrow limits our holiday – the dead of the night's high-noon!

Ha! ha!
For then is the ghosts' high-noon!

And then each ghost with his ladye-toast to their churchyard beds takes flight,
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps, and a grisly grim "good-night";
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell rings forth its jolliest tune,
And ushers in our next high holiday – the dead of the night's high-noon!

Ha! ha!
For then is the ghosts' high-noon!

Julie's lost her voice but luckily Scott already read the Halloween story for us.

One of my favorite creepy stories, The Judge's House by Bram Stoker, is read for Forgotten Classics podcast by Scott Danielson. And he does a wonderful job of it! Go listen!

The Perfect Halloween Cocktail?

Possibly ... if you want to be one of the walking dead. Zombies this way, at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

The Real Estate Agent and the Haunted House

A little something to get you in the mood for Halloween ... no jump scenes, just humor.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Worth a Thousand Words: St. James Church Cemetery

St. James Church Or Goose Creek Church And Cemetery, 1872 Engraving
Deliciously spooky!

Halloween Lagniappe: H.P. Lovecraft

Through all this horror my cat stalked unperturbed. Once I saw him monstrously perched atop a mountain of bones, and wondered at the secrets that might lie behind his yellow eyes.
H.P. Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls
Another of my favorite horror authors chimes in for Halloween from one of my favorite of his stories. A lesser tale, but still a good 'un.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Lagniappe: Edgar Allen Poe

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe
Friday is Halloween. Of course, we've got a Poe quote here. I'd be remiss not to.

Worth a Thousand Words: A Lane

John Atkinson Grimshaw, A Lane
John Atkinson Grimshaw's work all seems wonderfully gloomy, which is perfect for this time of year. Who is that figure in the moonlight, dwarfed by the trees and sky? An innocent traveler out late? Someone sinister? Someone in need? We are left to wonder.

Halloween is coming ...

... and Doug Savage is ready with a week's worth of Halloween cartoons coming up at Savage Chickens.


Friday, October 24, 2014

In an attempt to make the best zombie movie ever ...

... Julie and Scott meet their friends at the train station late at night to film a Big Scene. It gets crazy after that. If it wasn't for Tam, their explosives expert, they'd have been in a real mess.

We discuss Scott's movie choice, Super 8, written and directed by J.J. Abrams, at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

In which we go camping and encounter a terrifying trio at the Wailing Well.

An M.R. James classic ghost story (with Boy Scouts!), read for us by Scott Danielson and awaiting your listening pleasure at Forgotten Classics.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2014 Ladies' Horror Film Fest Report

This isn't every movie we tried because some movies ran into technical or other difficulties (Shaun of the Dead had accents too strong for Mom to understand but we couldn't get the captioning on her tv to work right, for example). Some she just didn't like so we quit watching after 15 or 20 minutes.

We also took a leisurely attitude. Sometimes we did outside activities like cutting out quilting materials for Mom or making a cake or sitting by the ocean for a lovely dinner. And so forth. Such are the joys of homegrown film festivals!

The ratings below reflect my own opinion and not those of my fellow viewers. Also, don't miss below for What We Learned!

It was a blast overall and I highly recommend such festivals to any movie-loving family! In fact, we were already beginning a list for the next film fest (not horror based) before we left.

FRIDAY

Halloween 1978

★★★★★

Part of the horror film fest that my mother, oldest daughter and I had over the weekend. We watched my mother's copy. Yeah. You read that right. I told you she was a horror film fan, which was confirmed when she said she watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to see why a friend liked it. Bottom line, she was surprised that it was so funny.

My daughter and I hadn't seen Halloween before. Loved it! There is one scene that suddenly brought the whole thing into focus and made me embrace it ... you know what I'm talking about, probably. It involves a gravestone and a pumpkin ... Truly a classic horror film that was delightful in its simplicity.

Poltergeist 1982

★★★

The second of our ladies' horror film fest (Mom, daughter Hannah, and me). This did not age as well as one could have hoped for. As my mother said, it came off as a combination of ET and a horror movie. It was a bit slow in the story telling and as a look back at that particular style I could appreciate it. However, the second ending was too much and I wish they'd have wrapped it up more quickly.




The Woman in Black 2012


★★★★

The final film of Friday for our horror film fest. I'd always meant to watch this and I can understand complaints I'd seen that it was a bit slow and not much happened. However, we were all pleased with the sheer beauty of the film and the hovering spookiness of Daniel Radcliffe's experiences in the old house. Honestly, if you want someone to stand around looking gloomy and startled, I can hardly think of anyone who could have done it better.

SATURDAY

The Haunting 1963

★★★½

This was on Saturday's bill of fare for our horror fest. We all had read The Haunting of Hill House (on which it is based) so many times that we could pick out where it diverged from the original story. Honestly, they did a really good job of adapting the book faithfully, except for Eleanor's love interest and the character of the professor's wife. None of us could figure out how those changes were an improvement to the story or any easier to film but they didn't make the movie any less enjoyable.




Mama 2013

★★★★★

Saturday evening's showing in our horror film fest. I'd been avoiding this because I thought it would be a lot more violent and disturbing than it actually was. It had the feel of a lot of Guillermo del Toro's work, which isn't surprising since he produced it and one wonders if he didn't advise also. However that may be I was surprised at how much I really liked this movie.





SUNDAY

The Night of the Hunter 1955

★★★

Mom has been pushing me to watch this for years and not surprisingly it was her pick for winner of our horror film fest. I was not quite as taken with it. It felt like three different movies sewn together with Mitchum's terrorization of the kids leading into a slow, meditative Huck Finn turn, followed by spunky Lilian Gish showing us how good parenting is really done while taking on Mitchum. I really loved Lillian Gish's sung response to Mitchum's trademark gospel song. I can understand why Charles Laughton's direction is always mentioned because he had some really wonderful moments of staging that will stick with me for a long time.


Pitch Black 2000

★★★★

A guilty pleasure and not strictly part of the ladies' horror film fest we were staging. We didn't think Mom would enjoy it, so Hannah and I put it on and watched it bit by bit whenever Mom was taking a nap. We didn't finish it but somehow it was always there in the background. Alien monsters and Vin Diesel. 'Nuff said.






Young Frankenstein 1974

★★★★★

This was the final film we watched in our horror film fest. It was just what we needed to wind up feeling good and finding our way back into the real world where people don't sit around watching movies all day long. It's practically perfect in every way.







WHAT WE LEARNED
Watching so many of these back to back we soon learned that there were common themes for certain elements. We took these to heart. So much so that by the last evening I was made nervous by looking in a bathroom mirror

Disregard these hard-earned lessons at your peril!

In no particular order:
  1. Do not trust ethereal women in black. They are not nice.
  2. If you've seen a mysterious, masked, disappearing man and then the boy you're babysitting sees a mysterious, masked, disappearing man — they are connected. Listen to the children.
  3. If a doctor/professor is writing a paper on psychic phenomenon, do not think he ever has your best interests at heart.
  4. Flickering lights almost never mean a bad electrical connection.
  5. You are never going to get a good night's sleep in a looming house — especially on a hill — especially when it is loaded with Victorian decorations.
  6. Begin investigations in the morning, not in late afternoon when it's getting dark and all you have is a candle or tiny flashlight.
  7. Do not look in the mirror. I repeat — do not look in the mirror.