In academic study, my professors and teachers always presented “Bartleby, the Scrivener” as a curiosity. It was pre-Modernist absurdity, a precursor to the more bizarre worlds of Kafka. The imagery was always given respect–the wall opposite the windows and the folding screen cubicle were favorite topics of discussion. The meaning of “I would prefer not to” was given its dues, as well.
Yet anytime any of us tried to point out a rather blatant element of the story, we were stopped or even discouraged from further research and analysis.
I’ve been revisiting a lot of public domain horror stories and short novels while doing some test proctoring at a local high school. “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville was surprisingly included in one of these horror eBook collections. Surrounding by the best and the worst of the literary Gothic, Southern Gothic, and early weird fiction, Bartleby’s role as a ghost has never been clearer. This is blatantly a ghost story, and a very modern one at that.
The Wilkinson Brothers are dealing with tragedy. Their one brother, John, was shot dead three days ago by family rival Joel Middleton. What’s more, brother Peter does not want the family to take the risk on a potential oil discovery on the family’s property that could make them all wealthy. Relations are tense and the slightest provocation could push any of the surviving brothers over the breaking point.
Robert E. Howard’s Graveyard Rats is a short horror novel with a lot of punch. The dynamic between the brothers is much more realistic than many horrors of the time. The scares are so severe and gory that the lingering Gothic elements–chapter titles, stock characters, and scientific/logical explanations–are merely window dressings on a tale of brutal terror.
It’s back! Cinefessions is running their annual horror/sci-fi film watching challenge and Sketchy Details will participate for a third year in a row. I’ve always managed to pop up near the top of the scoreboard and I don’t intend to stop that trend this year.
The checklist is worth 30 points. The five extra bonus items are another five points each. Completing the full checklist, with bonus items, is 80 points. I’m allowed three wildcard films that just miss the horror/sci-fi genre.
Films are one point; half hour TV is a half point. Those scores are doubled for matching the weekly themes.
What can I say? I knew I’d be on vacation and had far away adventures in mind. Creature from the Black Lagoon features one of my favorite movie monsters, even if the film is pretty underwhelming as a whole. Still, a lot of fun can be had gawking at the beauty of the visuals, the stunts, and that monster suit.
Horror Thursday: Creature from the Black Lagoon
I couldn’t let AniMAY 2014 pass by without at least one review of a horror anime. Shiki is a doozy. It’s like a mash-up between Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Twin Peaks.
A town is dealing with an inexplicable run of deaths. Natsuno, our hero, is fascinated by death but won’t be of much use in the story for quite some time. Things turn strange when a high school girl, Megumi, is found in a catatonic state brought on by anemia and dies later that night. Her parents refuse an autopsy so that her suffering isn’t extended even though the only thing wrong with the body is a few bug bite wounds. At the same time, a new family, the Kirishikis, move into a long-abandoned Western-style mansion in the middle of the night and are never seen around town. Megumi was on her way to visit them when she fell because of the anemia.
Stephen King is notorious for changing his feelings about his film adaptations. One consistency, however, is his claim that Maximum Overdrive is the single worst adaptation of any of his stories. Funny, since he himself adapted and directed this schlocky howler of a technology gone bad horror picture himself.
Horror Thursday: Maximum Overdrive
That’s right, good people. I will be presenting my long-gestating panel Lovecraft on the Silver Screen at ConnectiCon 2014. This is a panel looking at the best and worst of Lovecraft films. We’ll be discussing the challenges of adapting Lovecraft’s weird fiction to visual media and all sorts of good stuff. Clips will be shown. And Pacific Rim will be showcased because it is Guillermo del Toro’s Lovecraft film. Period.
The panel is tentatively scheduled for Saturday night, 12 July, from 9:30-10:30. The room is huge (250 people), so please stop by if you’re at the con. Details.
Also known simply as Death. This week’s Horror Thursday column over at Man, I Love Films is the first mumblecore horror film I’ve ever seen. Technically it’s not mumblecore since it’s a British film and that’s an American movement, but it’s the clearest description I can think of for it.
Sorry for the lack of updates. I’m proctoring AP tests and in tech on the spring revue/cabaret show at the same time. I come home, go to sleep, and roll out of bed to start all over again the next day. Today’s the last day of testing and tomorrow is the show, so the posting schedule should be back to normal soon. AniMAY will go out with a bang, not a whimper, always fighting against the dying light.
So for now, enjoy Horror Thursday: After Death.