Tags: topic: horror

Anya final stand, S7

horror movies with romance

Someone wanted recs for horror with romance, and I had a bunch of recs typed up before I realized they specifically wanted books, and all my recs were movies. I liked the recs I'd written too much to just delete them, so I'm posting them here.

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The Little Stranger has something resembling a romance, anyway. It's not a happy relationship, though. (And I've only watched the movie, not read the book.)

Decoys is an absurd low-budget sci-fi horror movie where the aliens have come to Earth and disguised themselves as sorority girls to attract boys to oviposit their eggs into, to save their dying species. Unfortunately they're kind of bad at it and keep accidentally killing the hosts. There is a really adorable romance in the middle of it, complete with tentacle sex and aforementioned oviposition. It also doesn't end happily, but it's super cute!

Society is a late 80s cult horror classic with body horror, enthusiastic parent-child incest, a secret ~superior subspecies of humanity (maybe?), and also a cute romance between Billy Warlock and a member of the subspecies, who among other things offers to pee in his tea, like any thoughtful host. This one does end happily. It's very easy to ship them in an OT3 with Billy Warlock's BFF, who is clearly pining for his bro.

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Anya final stand, S7

movies watched

Am finally this week trying to get back to my regular posting routine after almost a month off. So I achieved Thursday recs on Thursday, and now on Saturday, my notes on the (very few) stories I have consumed in the past month or so.

The Ring (2002). I had never seen this classic before! Overall, I enjoyed it a lot and thought it was really made. I was definitely FULLY ENGAGED the entire time, and I thought it was very pretty (although boy did someone love their green filter). I also really enjoyed how VERY much a product of its time it was, in terms of subject matter, because video tapes are such a major element of it - not just as a vector for the hauntings, but we also get quite a bit of technical detail on how video tapes work (which may or may not have been correct, lol), the physical process of copying a video tape is a plot point, etc. But instead of feeling dated, to me it felt more like a deliberate period piece that happened to be set in the period contemporary to the time it was made.

I also enjoyed: the score (especially that one sound effect or whatever it was, you know the one); the instances of violence done by TVs; various minor, plot-significant roles given to women (which let this pass the Bechdel test multiple times); the ending. All parts of the ending were fantastic.

All that said, Collapse )

And finally, putting this outside the cut: boy had I failed to osmose the BRUTAL on-screen animal death in this movie, holy shit. If you're sensitive to that kind of thing, beware, and/or maybe skip the entire scene set on the ferry. As it was happening, I was literally exclaiming to myself out loud how awful it was.

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IT: Chapter 2 (2019) - I was pretty meh about the first half of this adaptation but nonetheless very interested in the second half, because I knew there was an active fandom for it. Also I'd osmosed there was an amnesia element, which I was very interested in, and also I was interested in seeing these characters again as adults - I think I might have been imagining something kind of like the Haunting of Hill House TV show, where we see the adult repercussions of childhood trauma? IDK.

Anyway, what I got was kind of a hot mess. The actors were all quite good, which one exception discussed below. Bill Hader's Richie Tozier, emotionally crippled by internalized homophobia, was especially good, and I can see why he launched a fandom. I also really appreciated that Mike got a much bigger role and storyline than in the first movie. In a lot of ways he was the most interesting character to me.

However,
* The movie was reeeeeally slow; it was almost three hours and needed to lose AT LEAST forty minutes of it.

* The main plot of the movie, collecting items to use in an incredibly low-fi and boring ritual, was tedious and lame, AND required the lore of Magical Native Americans. Just, what an incredibly poor choice of plot to build the story around.

* Too much CGI, guys. It's not like it was bad CGI, it just destroyed any pretense that this was a serious horror movie. By the end we're all just running around trying to escape the giant clown spider like we're in a super cheesy action movie.

* The entire story of IT suffers from a fundamental weakness, which is that the vast majority of the horror is taking place inside people's heads. Occasionally Pennywise eats people, but mostly he just terrorizes them. This worked okay-ish in Chapter 1 when he was terrorizing a bunch of 11-year-olds who had no emotional or logistical resources, but it didn't work at all here, when they're all in their late 30s and early 40s. Even if you're willing to buy that their emotional responses are getting the better of them, there are still no stakes for the viewer. I ended up tweeting my way through the end of the second act, waiting for something to happen.

* Stephen King has always been better at writing human evil than monster evil. Teen bully Bowers was easily one of the scariest things in Chapter 1, and bringing him back here, after he's spent the last decades locked away in a mental institute following his murder of his father, felt extremely Kingian. But then he... only got three scenes, and then died? I was so sure the death was a fakeout, but then he never came back. I have to assume the ongoing menace of Bowers was something that got cut in adaptation.

* This story always had too many characters. Seven leads in chapter 1 was a ridiculous number. You could maybe get away with it in a mini-series - again, the Haunting of Hill House has the five kids and two parents, and they all feel well-developed - but in a movie you just end up wondering why some of these people are even here. When we first see adult!Stan, I couldn't even remember which one he was. (Spoiler: he was The Jewish One. You can tell because he gets a Bar Mitzvah flashback.)

* Eddie Kaspbrak felt like such a caricature of a person. Everyone else feels like a serious dramatic character, and he's fallen into this movie from some unpleasant comedy that I would never choose to watch - one with fat jokes, where women browbeating anxious hypochondriac guys is supposed to be funny. I wasn't hot on the kid actor, and I enjoyed the adult actor even less, but at this point I think it's the fault of the writing and directing, not the actors. Unfortunately he's half the juggernaut ship (understandably, for spoilery reasons), and it seems unlikely I'd ever want to read fic about him.

Finally, another big content warning: if you haven't read the book, be aware this movie opens with an extended scene of brutal homophobic violence. I did not know this going in.

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Anya final stand, S7

Thursday recs: no-theme Thursday!

I was wailing about how none of my bookmarked fics to rec had a theme, and [personal profile] lionessvalenti said "Not having a theme can be a theme." So here we are.

Midsommar: VID: Good as Hell by anon Festividder. I'm always a sucker for ~ironic song choices or songs that comment on or contrast with the canon, and this song is an absolutely inspired choice for this movie. Warnings for brief but extremely graphic gore.

Chronicles of Narnia - Lewis: Royal Purple by [archiveofourown.org profile] ba_lailah - Peter/Susan, 3k. Susan's miserable on her sixteenth birthday, and Peter cheers her up by offering to let her hit him. Impact play isn't a kink that usually does much for me, but it absolutely works for me here, and the incesty "we're all we have" feelings are v good also.

The Magnus Archives: Just Desserts by [archiveofourown.org profile] DwarvenBeardSpores - Jonathan Sims, 3k. Statement of Jonathan Simms, The Archivist, regarding… dinner. Recorded direct from subject. This is deeply weird stuffing kink that's such an organic extension of canon it almost doesn't feel like kink fic at all, and I mean that in the best way, although I was also very into the stuffing aspect.

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Anya final stand, S7

Thursday recs: horror stuff

This is a hodge podge of horror-related... things.

Behind You is a completely delightful, quite long series of one-panel horror comics about people with monsters hanging around behind them. I love the style. Only a little bit of stylized gore, very occasionally.

All the Horror Books We’re Excited About in 2020 - a list of cool upcoming releases that I will definitely be referencing in the coming months. Hosted at a Tor blog, but covers lots of publishers.

#31DaysofFemaleHorror (Twitter thread). A big list of recs for horror by female creators, most of which I hadn't heard of before! I'm excited to dive into this list as well.

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Anya final stand, S7

movies watched / books read

I mean to post these on Saturdays, but my Saturdays have been really busy lately, so here we are.

Book
Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock by John Harris, music journalist. I picked this up specifically because a lot of the best anecdotes on Oasis's wikipedia page cited this as a source, but it turns out Harris got all those bits from primary sources that I am now hunting down. HOWEVER. As a history of the Britpop music movement, it was highly readable, really entertainingly written, and very educational.

He conducted interviews with a number of major players (Justine Frischmann, who fronted Elastica and also dated members of both Suede and Blur, gets the lion's share of the quotes). He gets into how the Labour party courted musicians for a while there, which led to situations like Noel Gallagher getting invited to political events, only to be followed around by people trying to make sure he didn't do anything embarrassing like snort cocaine in public. I learned some about the British political machinery of the 90s. I learned about the 80s UK indie music scene.

In conclusion, if you are interested in this period of musical history at all, I highly recommend this book.

Movies
-- Midsommar (2019). A grieving college student (Florence Pugh) tags along with her boyfriend and his friends on a vacation to a Swedish commune, where not is all as it seems. This is very much a modern Wicker Man kind of a thing. It's absolutely gorgeous, Pugh is fantastic, the psychological dynamic between Pugh and her boyfriend is deeply awkward and uncomfortable in a very intentional way, and oh yeah, a bunch of people get ritually sacrificed. I loved it, pretty much. This article on Vox talks a lot about pop culture's conversation about community in the 2010s, and it has quotes from director Ari Aster about how he's fascinated by the idea of "toxic catharsis," which he meant to portray in the movie. That's a phrase that really neatly encapsulates an idea I've been interested in fannishly for a while.

-- Bombshell (2019). My first theater watch of 2020! This is the story of the sexual harassment lawsuit at Fox News, which normally I would have avoided like the plague, but it's a movie very much from the women's POV, and there are a lot of women in it, first and foremost Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie, and that's what turned me around on going to see it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't very good. It wasn't a deep psychological study of any of the women involved, but neither did it do a good job of exploring the the structural inequality in society generally and in the culture of Fox News in particular that led to the situation we saw. Despite namechecking Bill O'Reilly here and there, the movie still made it feel like head honcho Roger Ailes was the problem, personally. So since it was neither of those things, it kind of just felt like a recitation of events.

In fact, it was really jarring how little it got into the politics of Fox News. It was like we cast Theron as Megyn Kelly, but then didn't want to give Theron any material that would actually make us uncomfortable about her character. In BlackKklansman, we see how the wife of one of the Klan members if disrespected and treated, practically and ideologically, like a lesser member of the group, and the movie does a great job of showing how she embraces that because she's bought into the ideology herself - both the "woman is the helpmeet" part and the racism. I really believed in her as a character - a character who is understandable and convincing and really awful. There's nothing like that in Bombshell. We're meant to find all the women sympathetic (except one, whose story we never get and who wanders around harassing people into wearing "We Support Roger" t-shirts).

Also, frankly some of the writing was just amateur hour. I had a lot of difficulty tracking passage of time - it turned out from the beginning of the movie to the end, a whole year had passed, which I definitely didn't notice during. And then there's things like when, four-fifths of the way through the movie, Kidman's character says that Ailes plays women off each other, getting them to compete with one another. a) You shouldn't have to tell us that; you should show us. b) You should have shown us that AN HOUR AGO.

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Anya final stand, S7

Posting meme: How did I get into horror for maplemood

How did you first get into horror? for [personal profile] maplemood
What a great question, and the answer is this man:


I don’t mean any of the movies he directed. I don’t even mean the Three Investigators series that he put his name on and occasionally appeared in, iirc, which were written by a number of authors but originally developed and written by Robert Arthur, although I loved those more as a kid than any of the more famous kids’ detective series. I mean another project by Robert Arthur with Hitchcock’s name on it, a series of short story collections he edited for children: Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful (1961), Alfred Hitchcock’s Ghostly Gallery (1961), Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum (1965), and a handful of others with less alliterative titles, all published in the 60s.

I have so much fondness for these collections. They hit a wide range of tones, from humorous with spooky elements to dark fantasy to a handful of really pure horror. There’s the one about the man who turns into a Great Dane and never does discover how to turn back (“Henry Martindale, Great Dane” by Miriam Allen DeFord) and the one about the boy who unknowingly befriends his timid werewolf boy neighbor (“The Young One” by Jerome Bixby). “Slime” by Joseph Payne Brennan is classic monster horror, “The Wonderful Day” by Robert Arthur is a classic be careful what you wish for story with a lot of people receiving satisfying comeuppance, and “Miss Emmeline Takes Off” by Walter Brooks is a cheerful story about an elderly spinster who stumbles into being a witch and quite enjoys the results. Most significantly, Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum introduced me to Ray Bradbury by way of his story “Homecoming,” the first story I really loved about a family of sympathetic horrors, long before I was exposed to The Munsters or The Addams Family.

Speaking of Bradbury, these collections feature a remarkably wide array of authors; browsing through the three collections I own, I see Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, HG Wells, Lord Dunsany, Robert Louis Stevenson, Theodore Sturgeon, Manly Wade Wellman, and Idris Seabright, among lots of others

Anyway, these collections are delightful and were formative for me, a kid with a desperate hunger for the weird, the fantastic, and the spooky. Those tones were relatively hard to come by pre-Harry Potter, especially if Goosebumps wasn’t really your scene, and boy I read a lot of weird forgotten children's novels from the 60s and 70s for that reason. (Alexander Key, anyone? John Christopher? The Girl with the Silver Eyes? The Little White Horse? Although that one’s quite a bit older.) But these collections were some of the first I found that satisfied that need for me, and they definitely were the precursor to my love for things like Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (which is the source of this icon!). They gave me a taste for horror and dark fantasy that’s less about gore or monstrous evil, and much more about stories where the monstrous is sympathetic and the evil is most often found in human pettiness and cruelty, which remains my preferred type of horror to this day, although it’s been quite a long journey to get me to the point of calling myself a horror fan and actively seeking it out. But I guess that’s a post for a different day. ;)

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Anya final stand, S7

Posting meme: new fandoms in 2019, for reeby10

(Posting meme slots still open! Ask me to talk about something here.)

What new fannish things have you gotten interested in in 2019? for reeby10
Well, I spent a hot minute in January thinking I was going to be The Terror fandom, after I loved the miniseries. I even wrote like 400 words of a fic that I was excited about, but then my enthusiasm kind of petered out. I wouldn't be surprised if I rewatched again this winter, though, and this time I might actually write a thing or two. It often takes me a year or so of processing a canon before I'm ready to write for it.

I also had a period in February or so where I binged a ton of Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) fic. What a weird movie that was, in terms of how it weighted its various character relationships; I can definitely see why people shipped a variety of things in it. I got tired pretty fast of generic missions that the writer clearly just wanted as flavor for the character stuff they were actually interested in, but I’d read more fic for it if I ran across it, especially Illya-centric stuff, because I predictably want the giant traumatized Russian assassin dude to get lots of TLC (and also knocked up).

I really loved the French supernatural procedural Black Spot, and I'd still like to write more than one fic for it, but I think maybe I need to rewatch it again and do some more thinking.

I guess Captain Marvel kind of counts as a new fandom also, since the movie is so divorced from the rest of the MCU, and I had a period of being very fannish about that. I have a half-finished Carol/Yon-Rogg fic that I will finish… sometime, and I would like to write some more about them, but my enthusiasms are elsewhere just at the moment.

Otherwise, aside from the MCU stuff I was already into, I feel like I've been expending a lot of fannish energy this year on horror and music. I already wrote a bunch about my year in music, and I've got some horror coming up soon. It feels kind of weird to be fannish about something when I’m not expressing that fannishness via fic production/consumption, but it's definitely the same kind of energy. Also, you can tell I’m getting into something when I am ready to spring recs on people at the slightest provocation, and I am 100% there with horror at this point. 😂

Honestly, that is a lot of new fannish enthusiasms, for me! Exchanges have pushed me to read a little more regularly outside of my fandom in the past few years, but I still tend to be mostly about one fandom, and I just wasn’t this year, even the vast majority of the fic I wrote was in one fandom.

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Anya final stand, S7

horror DNF

It seems awfully soon for another of these posts, but it's been an unlucky couple of weeks.

Lavender (2016). This Canadian film is a pretty lazy ghost (?) story about a woman with repressed childhood memories. It was fairly low-budget, the acting and script was deeply mediocre, the costuming felt cheap and weird (the lead is dressed like she's always about to go to some rural evangelical church, except she's got too much makeup on for that setting), and the plot moved soooo slowly.

The only reason I cared about this movie enough to even mention it in a post and what kept me going a lot longer than I otherwise would have is the score by Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld, which is MUCH too good for the movie it's in. Strings that make you cry are like movie scores on easy mode - see also The Village - but I'm weak for them anyway. The main theme gives you a pretty good idea what you're in for.

Catfish Lullaby by AC Wise (2019). A young black boy ends up with a white foster sister after her house burns down, possibly by her hand. Another novella in my Hugo reading. This was supposed to be fantasy/dark horror, but I never got there, because this had like twice as many words as it needed for the story it was telling. The author explained the emotional significance of everything after showing it, which ended up feeling like they didn't trust the reader at all (and also it made for tedious reading). It was also split up into lots of little chapters (for some reason) and every chapter began with an epigraph from a 2016 non-fiction book on local folklore (for some reason????). I think there was the seed of an interesting story here, but the chaff/wheat ratio was way too high.

I can't say that a single novella I've read so far felt like a complete story that was told in the number of words appropriate to that story. The Monster of Elendhaven probably came closest, and this one was the farthest away. I'd worry that this was a me problem, except that I've read plenty of older SFF novellas that felt both complete and unpadded, and also, maybe more importantly, I've read a shit ton of successful fanfic in the novella range. I know 15-40k is a wordcount range you can tell good stories in! But so far, the pro authors I've tried haven't quite managed it.

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Anya final stand, S7

Talking meme: podcasts for skygiants

talk about podcasts! Other favorites, how you discover them, when in your day you listen to them... for [personal profile] skygiants

The short answer is I don’t really listen to podcasts, as a regular thing. It takes a lot of effort for me to listen to a podcast, since I have trouble focusing on audio input unless I'm doing something else, too, so my listening is pretty much restricted to my 12-minute commute (if I listen while I walk from the parking lot, too, I can usually finish three TMA eps in two days) or while I’m either doing dishes, cleaning the kitchen, or cooking. (Someone at work pointed out that “Listening to podcasts while chopping up vegetables for soup” was peak stereotypical Pacific Northwesterner activity, and he wasn’t wrong, lol.)

In terms of subject matter, I prefer fictional podcasts (almost exclusively horror) or informative ones. I really cannot do comedy podcasts at all; the hosts always seem to think they're way funnier than they are, which means the podcasts tend to be really rambly and not edited nearly tightly enough, and that's aside from the fact that the popular comedy podcasts seem mostly to be hosted by guys. My tolerance for listening to guys laughing at each other's dumb and frequently insensitive jokes is pretty much nil at this point.

The one podcast I've been faithfully listening to for a long time now is The Magnus Archives, which I binge during the hiatuses. I found that one via, of all things, Smut Swap signups, and then it turned out I didn’t want kink or shippy stuff for it much at all for it anyway, but I am deeply smitten with Jonathan Sims, who’s started trying real hard to figure how to be a good human just as circumstances seem to be taking that goal forever farther out of reach.

For kitchen chores, I’ve been listening to a ton of Todd in the Shadows’s videos, which basically function as podcasts for me, unless there’s some indication that I really need to look at something on the screen. I’ve been through all his Trainwreckord videos and am now bouncing around his One Hit Wonder videos; at this point I’m just listening to whichever one the YouTube algorithm suggests to me next.

I listen to the Dead Meat podcast intermittently, which is a horror podcast where a guy and gal (now engaged) talk horror movies together. I appreciate how much they enjoy a wide variety of horror while being sensitive to things like cultural context, and sometimes I just learn a lot, like their episode on The Final Girl. Also I have a huge crush on Chelsea, because she’s adorable. I found that one courtesy of [personal profile] lionessvalenti, who mentioned their episode on The Perfection was good.

Speaking of horror podcasts, thanks to [personal profile] fenellaevangela I just discovered Now Screaming, which I look forward to listening to more of. I checked them out via their The Perfection episode, too, I just realized, so I guess that's the way to get me to listen to your horror podcast, although they loved it less than I did. I don't really feel that movie is one that readily submits to conventional analysis. They're going through Netflix's entire horror catalog "so you don't have to," which should make for entertaining listening.

This summer I also tried The Throwback Podcast, which is two longtime friends talking through the music of their youth, aka the 90s. I enjoy this one largely as oral history of an era of pop culture I was completely tuned out of. I found it via f_fa. This one also fulfills my entire quota of "guys talking to each other" podcasts.

I have a bunch of other recs for music history podcasts and fictional horror podcasts, the two topics I apparently am into lately, but haven't gotten a chance to really go through them yet.

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Anya final stand, S7

books I DNF

One of the convenient things about getting books from the library is they force me to either finish the book or definitively give up and give it back. So, here are some books recently that I haven't finished. And it's all horror! I hadn't really thought that through when I started composing this post.

Mammoth Book of Cthulu, edited by Paula Guran. This purported to be a collection of new Lovecraftian fiction, but so much of it was barely even tangentially cosmic horror, it was just like "here's some dark fantasy," and a lot of it was set in pre-industrial settings, which aren't generally what I want from Lovecraftian stuff, because the conflict between scientific thought and the eldritch beings whose very existence and nature defies and punishes knowledge is a big part of what I love about cosmic horror.

I read six or seven stories and liked ONE of them, by Brian Hodge. I really liked his story in that Nightmares collection, too, edited by Ellen Datlow, so I think he's one I need to seek out more stuff by.

White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi. This kept getting recced to me on lists of atmospheric horror involving haunted houses, but I kind of just found it unpleasant to read, and a bit too experimental in its narrative structure (although to be clear, it's not really that experimental, but a little goes a long way with me, apparently). Maybe I'd have found the horror elements more satisfying as they got more explicit, but I just didn't get that far.

Blood Heritage, by Shari Tepper, in which a man whose wife and son are dead meets an unwilling medium at a party who tells him his family is still alive. I picked this up because I just wanted something from the horror shelf at a bookstore I was visiting that wasn't King or Koontz. Unfortunately, I found the narrative voice kind of sleazy and unpleasant, and the plot veered between lolarious and really boring. Since I own this one, it's still on my shelf, but I just have no urge whatsoever to pick it up again and read the last third of it.

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