|Posted on April 2, 2018 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
Psycho, it is regarded as one of the best and most iconic horror and suspense movies of all time. It’s director Alfred Hitchcock is by far one of the best directors of all time. Many will agree and I too agree with this notion. Psycho is a great film and was quite controversial during it’s time for it’s sexual references, violence and ending subject matter. However despite all these things I think that Psycho stands the test of time and is still many of people’s favorite horror films. I recently watched it again as I saw it on cable and it was when I was watching up to a certain scene that I realized there is a big flaw in the movie that I bet many people never notice or disregard because of the time it was made. Before I go ahead and explain what I noticed I will mention that there is spoilers in this so if you have never seen the film and don’t want to know then don’t read and if you don’t care then please keep reading. With that being said here is the huge flaw I found in the movie Psycho.
The scene is when the detective Arbogast goes to the Bates Motel(looking into Marion’s murder who of course was killed at the Bates Motel) having been to a few motels already and came across the Bates Motel going over his procedure. He is met of course by Norman whom he makes small talk with in the rain before Norman invites him into the check in room. Arbogast asks Norman if anyone has stayed here recently and if he’s seen Marion(he shows him her photo), Norman declines saying no one’s stayed there in a few weeks and Arbogast insists he at least looks at the photo. Norman looks over the photo and says no he has never seen Marion before and is rather convincing at least to me he is. He then says no nobody has stayed here in a few weeks and that he’s never seen Marion before. Here’s where I have a big issue and see a huge flaw in the film.
Websites will claim that Norman’s answers and talk is suspicious and doesn’t add up and that he’s contradicting himself which is correct but to a point. People fail to see that Arbogast is asking the same questions that he’s already gotten the answers to, yet he’s already convinced that Norman knows something, I don’t know about you but I never see Norman nervous and he plays it off well. The detective’s persistence in asking questions throws Norman off but I feel it’s one-sided. What I’m getting at if it isn’t clear is that I figure most people would be satisfied with the answers given to them, ask a few more and then just assume Marion stayed a night and drove off the next morning.
The detective never thinks Marion did this and only thinks Norman knows something and his questioning is off and it’s too alarming. Hitchcock makes it seem as if the detective already knows something or is having the detective come off as intimidating but in a very odd manner by asking the same questions. This bothered me because while Norman does act strange he acts way stranger later on with other people and I would say out of all the people he talks with, the detective is the least one that he acts strange with. I feel like perhaps they gave the detective too much direction where he was supposed to frighten Norman but to me it never fully comes out that way yet you still get the full effect despite certain questions not being asked.
I get that all detectives are thorough and ask a line of questions as standard procedure but it’s just the way he asks them and how Norman responds that makes me think that they left out parts. None of his line of questioning to me could arose suspicion or lead to contradictory statements by Norman but yet in his subtle answers the detective is able to keep asking hellbent on saying something is up with Norman. Now Norman does slip up as he mentions his mother which of course then turns the whole story around but again this conversation never really had to happen if the detective just had even a slight thought that Marion simply stayed a night and drove out of state. The detective asks to see Norman’s mother because Norman slipped up and said she didn’t like Marion drawing the conclusion that his mother and Marion had met and spoken. Of course Norman says the detective can’t talk to his mother because she’s ill. The detective persistent as always insists on talking to her to which Norman again tells him she’s ill.
Again call me crazy but if someone told me twice that they’re mother or relative was ill I’d say oh I’m so sorry or have some sympathy and yes even if I was a detective I’d still say it. I find this to be another odd part, like if someone tells you you can’t talk to someone because their ill(yes we all know “mother” is ill alright) but my point being that on the outside we don’t know anything and the detective should have just moved on. The detective is of course told Marion stayed there, moved on elsewhere, I think he should have believed that because he is truly never given real odd statements other then twisting his own words to get what he wants to hear.
He goes to the pay phone, calls Marion’s sister and of course says that Norman is suspicious, yeah but he’s only suspicious because that’s how it was written and the sell job on Norman being suspicious to me is just not good enough. He mentions the mother and then says he’s going to return. I’ll jump a bit because this isn’t an issue to me but to end this part, Arbogast returns, goes into the Bate’s house goes up the stairs where he is stabbed and falls down the stairs as “mother” killed him. Technically, in my eyes the detective’s dumb persistence got him killed and the idea of talking to a sick woman by breaking into someone’s house just seems a bit off to me.
So that’s where the flaw ends right? Not exactly there’s still Marion’s sister and boyfriend, Lila Crane and Sam Loomis. From the get go we find that Lila is even more persistent then the detective and very curious and suspicious. Yes, Lila is her sister so she more than anyone would know of Marion’s idea’s and what she would do but the lengths and odd points Lila makes just seem a bit extreme to me even if it is to find her sister. She never looks anywhere else and is determined and sold that it happened at the Bates which is true but again with little to go on why wouldn’t anyone look elsewhere, other places around the Bates or further into town? Nope, just the Bates is looked into. I can however forgive Lila’s erraticness because after all she is Marion’s sister(so it’s both against her and helps her) but if there was ever a more sloppy scene it would be Sam confronting Norman.
Sam goes back to the check in after he and Lila pretended to be a couple to check in to investigate because Lila wanted to see for herself. Sam’s questioning to Norman is at first idle small talk and Norman doesn’t talk much which Sam finds odd(I can buy this, Norman is acting strangely but then again he doesn’t get many people). Here’s my other issue, Sam delves into Norman’s personal life asking if and why he doesn’t sell the place and move on and get a place of his own, I could think of several, his “mother” is ill, he likes to keep to himself, it’s not Sam’s Business, he could make something up, etc. My point is that Norman could have told him tons of things but instead we are given a cheap he’s hardly speaking routine which leads to Sam’s accusations against Norman. He asks him about the money which Norman knows literally nothing about and when he keeps asking dumb questions Norman attacks him.
I’d have no issue with this except the question he asks Norman to further upset him is one Norman actually has no knowledge of. Of all things to set him off why was it a question to which he didn’t know the answer or know what Sam was talking about for that matter? Sure he could have attacked him because Sam was nosy as all hell which he was but we are instead given the idea that Norman attacks him because he is being asked questions to which Norman really doesn’t know anything about. So that’s my gripe with the movie, the persistence and unlogical idea that three people don’t think of plan B and are just totally 100% sold on plan A despite Norman not truly selling them on any such suspicion other than a little off-putting answers. I still love the film but I thought I’d share my thoughts on the flaws I found.
|Posted on March 19, 2018 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
The Reconstruction Era, it was a time period between 1863(or 1865 which ever you prefer) to 1877 in which the United States attempted to recover following several issues including the Civil War, slavery and the transition of states back into the union. While the era had it’s benefits and good days, the era was mostly hard on mostly everyone and left it’s mark as a hard way for people and communities to recover. Whether it was slavery, recovering from the Civil War or a transition from a south state back into the union the progress was the same for all, difficult. I could write a small book on this because of the amount of information on it but instead I am putting my focus on reconstruction in connection with the Civil War and western states and how it effected them. I also want to focus on the down side to reconstruction because it was certainly not a walk in the park or breath of fresh air, it was a time where the society that once destroyed themselves only years before had to come together to rebuild. One question haunts me however, has President Abraham Lincoln not been assassinated would reconstruction have been different? Easier? A smoother transition for the entire united states?
The Civil War, it’s one of the most fascinating yet most ridiculous wars we’ve ever seen. Fascinating in the sense of now as you look back at it as nostalgia and rustic feeling but ridiculous in the sense that it was a war that we fought...against ourselves. The aftermath of the war was just as hard on people as the war itself. People had to reclaim land, property, but most of all they had to clean up and rebuild their towns which turned into utter decay and wastelands of rubble. For some it took a mere few months, for others they simply moved on somewhere else and for most it took years to not only reclaim but to replace what they once had. You can add all the treaties, policies and acts that you want that factor in but in reality what is a piece of paper to something that needed to be physically done, fixed and rebuilt? The years after the Civil War were just a cruel to people who battled in it. It’s hard to imagine what was worse, a soldier who survived and went through reconstruction or a person who didn’t who lost someone and had to carry on through an era to which they never wanted to go back into. The Civil War left imprints and foreshadowed the U.S to a massive cleanup that no one could have seen coming despite a horrendous war.
The violence didn’t end when the war did. Let that sink in. When some men returned from the war they just weren’t the same men they were before they left. Some could get over what they felt was right but none could recover from what they saw or felt. One reason violence still reigned supreme was because there was still tension between the North and South states. Many southerners would kill after the war because they still believed in the confederacy and northerners would kill simply out of spite, hatred or because it’s all they knew. It was called reconstruction but tell that to the countless lives lost well after the war ended.
To them it was resuming and continuation of something that was just pointless to begin with. Small towns were sometimes swallowed whole with three reasons to their downfalls, wreckage, politics and other people coming in to destroy what little remained. One book that does a great job of portraying people against one another during reconstruction is Skin Medicine by Tim Curran, a horror western. The main character Tyler Cabe who fought comes into a town where the Sheriff is someone who punished him during the war. The point is that thr Wild West and reconstruction go hand in hand and they have violence to that for that.
The Civil War era, The Wild West and Reconstruction era were a deadly time in our history which as we look back we ask, why did some of it if not all of it need to happen? All accounted for bloodshed, death and destruction that never needed to happen. Perhaps the only benefit is the shape and direction our country took after the war and the era. The horrors of reconstruction impacted so many people, rich and poor, well known or not well known, it just didn’t matter. If you were anybody you accounted for everybody and the effects were felt by all those who involved or were bystanders to the destruction. Was reconstruction supposed to be an easy clean up? A simple era? A time where we could simply move on and forget the war ever happened and live happily ever after? Not in the slightest. The error with man is that it is in our nature to destroy ourselves even if it means actually fighting our own people in our own country in our own backyards because in the end, we will move on slowly and we learn. We learn from our errors and our ways...
|Posted on February 26, 2018 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
Serial Killers are probably the most clear evidence of real horror. People without a conscience or shred of remorse or human decency. Yet while they are on the top of the real life horror pyramid who and what makes up the rest? Think about the question and I’m sure you can come up with a few ideas. Current events, whether your reading it right now there’s some known violence going on in the world, there will be further violence in the future and that will be the latest current event of real world horror because this world is one big world of horror. School shootings, stabbing of spouses, setting houses on fire, going on a killing spree, people overdosing on drugs; these are just of the few real world horrors we deal with every single day and the saddest part of all? We will likely continue to see them every single day because it’s just simply how the world works, for every peaceful and blessed thought a normal person has there is a raging psychopathic lunatic who just loves to watch the world burn along with the people in it.
Of course we want to live in a world where peace runs rampant and violence and horror don’t exist but that would seem too ideal, too unrealistic. Some of us are horror genre fans who love scary and gory movies, books and conventions. Why do we love these things? Because they are fictional and made for our entertainment and yet despite being exactly the same, the real world of horror is something that no person wants to experience, wants to feel or see and most importantly of all hates seeing because it isn’t the horror we want to be exposed to. Guns kill people, guns kill people with guns, people kill people; however you choose to see the glass here just remember that the end result will be the glass shattering. It’s all violent no matter how you look at it and it’s truly baffling how people can actually think that using a gun can make a difference. Guns are like drugs, they are a horror in our world and when given to the wrong people can cause utter chaos and even bring out the worst in sometimes the best of a person. Guns are vessels of horror, they do not make the world a better place no matter how many times you try to spin it.
However for every crime spree, every gun fired and every house set a blaze there is a person behind it. Some people are horrific, inexcusable excrements for human beings, psychopaths, not fit for this world or any known to exist but yet here they are in our world sharing space and air with us and why? Well that’s a question that if we knew maybe just maybe we could put a stop to it but again violence and horror in the real world is an inevitability. If not one thing then surely it’s something else. Can we treat each other better? Of course we can. Will it help? In a sense. Can it stop people from becoming a part of horror and violence? That remains to be seen. The horrors of the real world have become such an every day sight and yet despite this we still remain shocked when we hear something horrific happen. Why is this? Because we’d like to think that the world isn’t fifty percent made up of grizzly and traumatic events and psychos but your local channel news, twitter feed and current events remind you that horror is real, it’s all too real.
The scariest thing you’ll ever read isn’t a Stephen King book, the scariest thing you’ll ever see on television isn’t a John Carpenter movie, it’s what’s around you happening in the place you call home. The true horror is the horror that’s preceded by the word “real”. It’s horror we wish was directed, produced and considered as fiction but we cannot change the real horrors around us, at least not right away. Remember the kind of person you are, remember that what ever problems you may have and whatever troubles you may come across that you want to live life to the best of your ability because horrors happen every day and you truly never know when it may involve you.
|Posted on February 26, 2018 at 2:00 PM||comments (0)|
When we think horror poetry we think of Edgar Allan Poe and perhaps even his most infamous poem, The Raven. We think of all his other poetic horror verses and think no one else can eclipse this. However aside from Poe who else write horror poetry? Well aside from Poe and myself I cannot definitively think of someone else that comes to mind that could be considered a horror poet. Sure there’s A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud but that he was a one hit wonder and never wrote again and I’m not even sure he meant to write it as a poem but merely expressed his adolescent frustrations in exaggerated form. Then of course there’s Dante’s Inferno but that’s more of a glorified story of myth.
So seeing as there isn’t any other true horror poets to name let’s go with the next best thing, poems of horror by other poets. Poets who write about life, nature, feelings you know the things you normally write a poem about? Well perhaps some of the poets who write these are your favorite and you didn’t even know they had a horror or dark poem. Here are some poems who have stepped into the dark side to write horror poetry.
The Dance of Death
by Charles Baudelaire
https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/the_dance_of_death_19570" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/the_dance_of_death_19570
The poem is a gothic and macabre poem about a subtle take on death. Baudelarie was a French poet who wrote prose poetry and while he didn’t always write dark poetry he was a translator of Edgar Allan Poe works. This poem of his is one of his own original takes on horror poetry.
by Siegfried Sassoon
https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/haunted_178" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/haunted_178
The creepy and chilling poem that tells of a man being haunted and his paranoia gets the best of him. Sassoon was a former solider who wrote about the horrors of war. This poem is a different approach to the normal types of horror he writes.
Because I Could Not Stop For Death
by Emily Dickinson
A poem that while not exactly considered to be horror still talks about and mentions death in a more everyday type fashion. Emily Dickinson was known for her contemporary poetry and at times wrote depression poems of someone in isolation. This poem is one of a few where Dickinson talks about death.
by Robert Frost
Ghost House is a somber and chilling tale of a house and it’s many dark sights. Robert Frost is known for many types of poems but horror poetry is not one of them. However, Frost totally pulls it off with this whimsical light horror poem.
by Louis Erdrich
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43086/windigo" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43086/windigo
A tale about the flesh eating Algonquin monster. Louis Erdrich needs only a few stanzas to get you so freaked out that you start asking yourself if Wendigos really exist. As someone who enjoys the myth of Wendigoes I found this poem to be a treat..no pun intended.
So as you can tell you don’t need to be a writer of the horror genre to write horror or scary poems. Some well known and not so known poets have written some absolute gems of poems that both scare, excite and reading get a reader to think. Poetry has no rules so if your not a writer of horror or heck even if your not a poet but have a horrific story to tell in poetic form then do what these poets did, take a page out of someone else’s book and get writing.
|Posted on February 26, 2018 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
Politics, a topic that you either think you know, actually like and enjoy making an opinion about, or have no interest in whatsoever and couldn’t care less about. If your like me you fall under the third category but given our new president lots of people such as myself who have no business talking politics are talking about it and rightfully so. Now more than ever there is clear evidence that there’s horror in politics, let me rephrase that politics are horror. Now I could sit here and slam the president but that’s not the point of this article.
The point is to show that the overall basis of politics, their tactics and the whole running for office seats in itself has become downright horrific. Politics have always been like this, it doesn’t take a follower of it to see that but when you have two people running for president whose wild views and opinions are out there, it makes you wonder how it’s come to this and really makes you believe that horror is in full mainstream view and all over even in congress and press. Go down the line and you’ll see countless dirty politicians doing whatever they can to win a seat or become president but it just feels raises one of the biggest question of all...what is our country in for with Donald Trump as president?
While you think about that question let me ask you another, is a Trump as president just as scary as a horror villain killing people or a gross gory scene? Before you think they have nothing to do with each other just remember this...Trump is real which means that yes there is most definitely a connection here. I’m sure many would rather be in a world of horror slashers than have to listen to the ignorant rambling of an ignorant fool. What I’m really getting at though is the reality of horror. True and real horror exists and I’m not talking about ghosts and paranormal I’m talking about bad decision making along with economical and social decline that our country faces with Trump as president.
It’s real horror, it’s truly real horror there’s no other way for to put it. It’s like asking if you want Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees for president and yes you have to vote for one. Sure there’s the other parties but let’s say that would be the equivalent of voting for a lesser evil that we know nothing about and we actually put our faith in Myers or Voorhees because at least we have an idea of what they are whereas voting for the lesser evils is a greater risk because not much is known about them.
Lesser of the two evils? Whose Myers and Voorhees? It doesn’t really matter. They are mere examples of horror and if anything let it serve as a question of who would you choose between the two and Trump. I’m sure you get the idea. Bottom line, I think people would rather vote for one of the movie slashers than Trump. Sure this seems a bit ridiculous but do we really have to think about it? The man is just as scary as the two horror slashers and that’s downright frightening. Politics are evil, they bring out the worst in people and if you’re already deemed a bad person it just shows the world just how bad you truly are in the public eye.
To me there are not winners in politics or in the becoming the next president because so much slander and nonsense gets brought up that the you try to make yourself look good but you end up hurting people and causing turmoil in the process. People have become so eager to obtain seats of power that they forget what they are running for...the people. When one of the candidates is clearly not a people person and degrades others what does it really say? It shows that there is true evil in this world and that there is real horror and most of it happens in the misconstrued lines that we call politics.
|Posted on February 12, 2018 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
You know what horror is and you know what poetry is but what is horror poetry? You may even be one of those people who says, “Horror Poetry, that’s a thing?” Yes, yes it is. So what is horror poetry? Well imagine your basics types of poetry; rhyme, ballad, sonnet, free verse, etc. Then imagine your feelings and emotions only you turn those into a more fictional aspect and bring the genre of horror into it. Finally, gather your thoughts, the stories, the feelings and everything dark that’s flowing through your head and create a dark poem and you have horror poetry. This is the best definition I can give you because If I had said it’s a poem with horror elements..well you’re not really told or sold on what it is. Horror poetry is just like any other type of poetry you’d write only your getting deeper, darker and adding fear and sadness into it, more than you would with raw emotional type of poetry. One could get making a drinking game and get drunk every time I mention him but Edgar Allan Poe was a writer of horror poetry and perhaps even the best and few to do it. The Raven, one of his classics, is one of the greatest horror poems ever written. Do people enjoy horror poetry? A lot more than you might think.
Horror poetry could also be considered a part of speculative poetry, which is poetry that focuses on fantasy, science fiction and mythological themes. Horror literature itself is immensely popular in today’s culture and while poetry isn’t as big as it once used to be, most true horror fans are aslo interested in horror poetry. In a lot of ways poetry in this sense is another and rather unique literary device to showcase horror. It’s a way to introduce horror to horror fans in a whole new setting and there’s nothing wrong with that in fact it could be considered better and a way to get people more accustomed to poetry.
The thing to know about horror poetry is like regular poetry it can be written in any way you wish and there are no rules. It could be a horror haiku, a horror ballad, an epic or even like The Raven or A Season in Hell, a long poem that tells a tale or expresses the horrifying frustrations of a young poet. Poetry is whatever you want it to be and this is how some horror writers who are also poets express themselves, by combining the two to create a piece of macabre written art to be read and enjoyed.
Horror poetry’s biggest weakness it also it’s biggest strength. It’s not widely written nor does it have a big audience(when defining it by itself and not considered as just horror). This is it’s weakness as not many people write it and not many follow it as readers however this is also a strength and it’s advantage because there’s not a big market, a writer can truly gain some solid readers and fans because it’s not really known. Horror poetry is a niche a writer and poet can truly make their own, they can be themselves and enjoy their horror at the same time, this is a clear case of having your cake and eating it too. Horror Poetry may not be Paranormal Romance, Young Adult or a boy wizard going through life entertaining tons of young readers but it doesn’t have to be and no one is asking it to be. Horror poetry is a way of expression, a way to tell a horrific story in a delicate style; it’s showing the twisted side of poetry and all the things that make it great.
|Posted on February 12, 2018 at 3:55 PM||comments (0)|
The Difference between Macabre & Gothic
Macabre and gothic, when it comes to the horror world these are two words you tend to see associated with the genre. Sometimes although not in most cases macabre and gothic could be considered one in the same or used during the same event to describe something, but what exactly are macabre and gothic and how much do they differ? It is important to see the two differences so that one can fully understand and appreciate them as tones and themes of the horror genre.
Macabre; adjective: disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury. The adjective macabre is used to describe things that involve the horror of death or violence. ... This word first appeared in English in the context of the "Dance of Death," recounted in literature as the figure of Death leading people in a dance to the grave, and translated from the Old French Danse Macabre. As you can see macabre is used to describe a horrifying event or happening and it prominently is used to describe death. Macabre is in many ways a fancy word one can use instead or horror, death, morbid, etc. When we hear the word macabre we sometimes often associate it with the famous horror writer Edgar Allan Poe, who is a perfect example of a writer of macabre. Macabre is a brilliantly chilling word and such a big and meaningful word that in some ways it could be considered as a small sub-genre of horror, the very word it represents.
relating to the Goths or their extinct East Germanic language, which provides the earliest manuscript evidence of any Germanic language (4th–6th centuries AD).
of or in the style of architecture prevalent in western Europe in the 12th–16th centuries, characterized by pointed arches, rib vaults, and flying buttresses, together with large windows and elaborate tracery. Definition of Gothic Fiction. The term Gothic fiction refers to a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion. These emotions can include fear and suspense. Gothic is vastly more different then macabre considering that it is not always associated with the horror genre. As you read above gothic can be used to describe a style, a movement, a word, a group of people or even a feeling, so gothic in many ways is a lot more defined and represents may other things whereas macabre is only a sub part represented of horror. However, you will also see how gothic and macabre share a common trait, they are both associated with fear, horror, death and just an overall sense of dread. I consider gothic in terms of horror as the outlet and exterior of horror, used to lightly describe the dark feelings of dread, sadness and horror itself.
While clearly we can see the differences between the two what is it that makes them work well together and makes them at times seem like they mean the same thing? Well aside from the fact they both represent horror in their own unique ways, the feeling, the characterizations and the overall presence of both words can be felt at the same time or even different times both both mean the same thing; they are horror, they are death, they are feelings you simply don’t want to find yourself in or see. They are just two of many words associated with horror that give you fear that give you suspense, that make you want to turn away and yet want more all at the same time. Macabre and Gothic aren’t friends, they are relatives and they do whatever they can to help out their big relative, horror.
|Posted on February 5, 2018 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
Edgar Allan Poe, you’ve likely heard of him and whether you’re a fan of his work or not you cannot dent the impact he has left on the horror, short story and poetry culture. However not many people are aware that Poe was not all that popular in his day, in fact his writing was highly and publicly criticized and he was a bit of an outcast. He tried and tried day in and day out to get his works published and sometimes even that was not all that easy to do. Between trying to get published and getting the public to like his work Poe had quite the work to do after writing it. Many authors today complain about getting their work out and marketing but perhaps never truly know the struggle it was for Edgar Allan Poe. On top of all that, his life was also troubled and he was a heavy drinker which was partly the reason his works were so dark and disturbing. Poe was somewhat popular and had a following in his day but was more widely regarded as a success after his death and still today but to me it has raised a big question, what if Poe lived in this era? What if one of the greatest horror writers of all time lived during the time where the public still scrutinizes writers, social media exists helping criticism in volumes but horror is extremely popular?
First, let’s delve a little deeper into that last point. Poe would still be criticized but more likely for how he wrote not necessarily what he wrote. As I said, horror is very popular and he’d probably be as popular as Stephen King if not more popular. Poe would likely sell tons of books, would get tons of publishing deals and be a huge figure in today’s society. I mean just imagine Poe eating one of his haters alive on Facebook or Twitter by humiliating them by writing his comeback in an epic 240 character poem. Did Poe care what people thought of him and his work when he was alive? I’m sure he did but given how motivated he’d be today I’d like to think he’d care way less and let hi writing do the talking. If Poe were alive today horror poetry would be huge and we’d look to him even more for inspiration and help within the genre. Instead we try to eclipse him on Amazon on the top ten of poetry books feeling that if he were still alive and in the top 10 it wouldn’t feel as though we were being beaten by someone who isn’t around to enjoy the success. I’d like to think Poe would be humble, friendly and approachable and he wouldn’t let success go to his head but he’d use it to drive him further to write brilliant pieces of work and even help out his fellow horror poets like myself.
However, for every good idea we must weigh the bad as well. Would the success, stress, fame and public scrutiny get to him? If none of these did then surely his personal and private life would have if it followed him in this era. Between his wife, personal issues and drinking perhaps like many writers after him he would just like it all to end but then again who truly knows as I am merely telling you to consider the idea. It’s better to think of the positive aspect but given we are talking about the morbid man of macabre we simply have to talk about the dark troubling negativity that surrounded him. Speaking of morbid and dark I would also think that today as a society we tend to not only be more open to horror then in Poe’s day but we enjoy even darker and disturbing stuff. Which asks the question, wouldn’t Poe be even darker in his writing today then he was in his day? Imagine how the Raven could be written if it was written today. Instead of Once upon a midnight dreary, we could see something along the lines of “Death pecked away on the darkest of nights making a man look more and more decayed. The point here is that if Poe were alive today he could have been even more deranged and disturbed in his writing which is hard to imagine seeing as he’s the king of macabre now for things he wrote way back when,
Edgar Allan Poe in many ways was a man before his time, a man born in the wrong era, a man who looked at the world as a long dark alleyway longing to be explored and analyzed even if it meant others would scorn him and let him have it. Yet without him people like me may not have been inspired to write and if not Poe then who? Who back then would have dawned the macabre mantle to inspire us horror writers nearly 200 years later? Well luckily we don’t have to wonder because our king and inspiration into the dark world of literature is Poe but if he were alive today, it makes you wonder, oh how it makes us wonder.
Want more Poe? Check out my board on Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/justinbienvenue/all-things-poe-nevermore/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">All Things Poe, Nevermore!
|Posted on February 5, 2018 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
Horror is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres in today’s literature. There are countless writers who strive to create that next big horror novel or script that next big horror movie. However the same cannot be said for the genre of poetry, while does have a following and many writers of it, is not nearly as big as it once was. To further make poets feel obscure if you’re a horror poet in today’s world you feel a bit alone because there’s not many of us and aside from Edgar Allan Poe what horror poets do we have to look up to? What of the other horror poets?
Horror poetry does exist but most people would say it’s quite an odd pairing or that the prestige just isn’t there. When you think horror poetry you think Edgar Allan Poe but who are some other horror poets? I’m not talking about horror writers because that list goes on and on but when it comes to horror poets well..the list of people just isn’t there. Sure there’s likely many horror poets and indie poets today but if we go back ten, twenty years or even back to Poes days who are some other horror poets? There really isn’t any or at least not to my findings.
I typed in horror poets on Google and as expected Edgar Allan Poe came up first but after that a bunch of other poets came up some well known but none strickly considered to be horror poets, some just listed because Google saw the word “poet” and just assumed. I looked and I looked but I could not find any other horror poets besides Poe. I saw a few names such as Siegfried Sassoon, Emily Dickinson, H.P Lovecraft and Lewis Caroll. Sassoon was more of a writer of the horrors of war and wrote war poems, Dickinson was more of a writer of depression, Lovecraft wrote science fiction and Carroll was more known for Alice in Wonderland and other stories than anything. So this drew me to one big conclusion, these authors either wrote poetry that has small undertones of horror but isn’t considered horror or at one point in time they wrote a horror poem but that doesn’t y any means qualify them as being considered horror poets. Can you write in one genre and still make an impact in another? Of course and the same case can be made for poets who write the occasional horror poem.
So what does this all mean? That’s not clear. Are there other horror poets? I’m sure there is but my search as deep as it was just simply didn’t turn up any other names strong enough to connect to the horror poetry genre. I am positive that there’s other horror poets out there from back in the day just like I know for a fact that there’s writer of horror poetry today. The one thing I can take from this is that there are horror poems from poets who didn’t write in the horror genre. They decided to test the waters and take a stab(no pun intended) at the genre. In another article I will talk about some of those poems by poets and analyze them as to what they meant at the time and what they mean to poets and readers today. Poe may have been alone in his own little world after all when he wrote all those dark and dreary poems but years later I don’t think I am alone. I have Poe and I’m sure I have other horror poets within the genre to look up to and become inspired by, to explore and discover. Poetry is not dead and neither is horror poetry.
|Posted on October 25, 2017 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
It’s been a while since I’ve seen the 1992 film of Dracula portrayed by Gary Oldman. As I was browsing images of the movie on Pinterest two thoughts crossed my mind; is the movie truly a horror of the classic or an infused love story? My second question is why in the heck does Dracula look the way he does in true form? Whose idea was that? These two questions may not pose a concern for most but I have been scratching my head over them and have some thoughts as to what could be the possible answers to them. I don’t know about anyone else but I prefer the classic cape wearing, fang showing, I want to suck your blood, I am Vlad the Impaler type of Dracula. The man who looks as he always does and doesn’t hind behind a facade because he’s an oddity.
Is it a horror or a love story? At first glance and thought you think it’s the same telling of every other version of Dracula and you would be right. Dracula comes into town, meets Mina and Jonathan, uses his allure over Mina, Jonathan doesn’t know what’s going on and everyone finds out what Dracula is and stops him. (Great quick telling of the story right?) However in the 1992 version I feel it’s more love-inspired and infused and a lot more sexual. Back in the day of the original love stories weren’t taboo but sex was but even then Dracula wasn’t exactly Casanova or Mr. Suave to Mina but in the 1992 version he is and the passion and love within the movie is a lot more different. Why is this? Well there’s three reasons, one obvious and the others may not even realize until now. The first reason is simple; it’s a different telling of a story with that director and producer’s vision on it. Same story but different, themes, moods, feelings, etc.
The second reason? It was he nineties. Vampires were already becoming over sexualized and by the time the nineties rolled around everything had a love, sex, passion vibe to it. In this instance it was no different. They took the Dracula classic and turned it into a more love inspired movie because it was the thing to do in the 90's. Reason number three is probably the one you would least suspect but after you hear it you’ll start to ponder it for yourself. In the film, Gary Oldman plays Dracula, he’s odd looking as a vampire(I’ll get into this later) but to keep up appearances he of course portrays a suave well looking gentleman as a human. If you take a closer look though you’ll realize Gary Oldman looks a lot like Vlad Tepes aka Vlad the Impaler(coincedence?) but the Vlad connection doesn’t stop there. For those who know the tale of Vlad the Impaler know he was a ruthless and cruel man but there’s more to him than that.
Upon his return from war, Vlad found out his wife jumped to her death from their castle Dracula. Vlad was devastated. Bram Stoker didn’t just take the violent, bloodthirsty part from Vlad the Impaler to create Dracula, he also used the sad history of a man who loses the love of his life. In the 1992 film, Dracula in many ways is like Vlad the Impaler who longs to be with Mina because she reminds him so much of his late beloved wife. This is perhaps why to me the movie seems more love-infused than other portrayals because the director did his research and really decided to use the background of Vlad the Impaler and give the film a more deeper meaning and effect. Also because of the bigger lover effect it’s why the film is a lot more sexual than other versions.
Finally, why does Dracula look the way he does in the film? Why does he look like the love child of George Washington and Bette Midler? For one, perhaps the director wanted to stay away from the classic cliche and decided to make his Dracula look far, far different from the original usual versions. Perhaps he wanted to make his version look more like the old creature that he truly is or maybe even give him a look that is hideous compared to his other versions he dawns during the film. So there you go, a little analysis on the 1992 film of Dracula and why it could be more of a love film and why Dracula looks the way he does.
|Posted on October 25, 2017 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
When we hear the word “demon” we all think of evil, darkness, the devil, Hell and others just to name a few. We know what the definition of a demon is, we know what it personifies and we know they can be classified under as supernatural and paranormal beings. One thing that never gets questioned or brought up is what is the gender of a demon? A demon can enter the body of a male or female but what about the demon itself? Is it a certain gender? Does it have both genders? Does it prefer one over the other? Or do demons simply take on and possess whatever body they want based off the convenience and circumstances? I’ll break this down and give my thoughts and opinions on the matter but one thing should go without saying, is doesn’t matter what gender a demon is, it’s evil and it’s out to cause harm to humans.
What gender are demons? Well while they can inhabit either gender I think a demon itself could be one of two options. They could actually be a male or female demon however when it comes to inhabiting a body I highly doubt demons care which they possess and I’m sure they don’t stereotype. You think a male demon is going to enter the body of a human male simply because that’s how it has to be? Doubtful. The other option is that a demon may have no gender at all and it’s simply an entity that when it surfaces to Earth is simply looking for a vessel aka a body to control and it doesn’t care which gender it takes on. Both these two options seem possible and whether one seems more likely than the other is up for debate but I see it as it could be one or the other and a fifty-fifty split.
One thing is for certain, it truly doesn’t matter which gender a demon is because they are all after one thing; to inflict harm, kill or even possess a human being. We know how they come to be and where they generally come from or so we are lead to believe. This notion however has nothing to do with gender, so why do I bring it up? For the same reason why it doesn’t matter where they come from whether it’s Hell, another dimension, a book, a spell, it doesn’t matter, they are demons and we know their intent. Gender for the third time is no different, it doesn’t make a bit of difference which gender they are but I raise the questions simply out of curiosity. Let’s say demons do have gender’s, are one type more inferior than the other? Irrelevant because? Well you get the idea but just remember that if you’re a sexist male and you encounter a female demon and think it’s not that scary, think again! Do demons have a gender? I’m not sure but I do wonder and ponder the thought.
|Posted on October 24, 2017 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
This latest guest post is from author Sara Jane Townsend and how women are not seen as writers of horror. This is a common theme in the writing and horror industry and it's good to see someone taking the time to speak up about it. Here are Sara's thoughts on how women don't write horror.
Many years ago, I belonged to an amateur theatre group. One of the ladies there was also a member of a writing group, and she encouraged me to accompany her to a meeting. I was in my early twenties at the time. A couple of things became immediately apparent – the first was evident when I first walked in, and realised I was at least twenty years younger than everyone else in the room.
The next thing took a little while to manifest itself. Initially people were very friendly, welcoming me into the group, but it seemed that most members of the group wrote romance novels and radio plays. And then I was asked that crucial question: “and what do you write?” “Horror,” I replied cheerfully.
Suddenly I understood the meaning of the phrase “deafening silence,” as it descended on the room at that moment. Everyone was staring at me. Eventually someone cleared their throat and said awkwardly, “Oh. We’ve never had one of THOSE before.”
Needless to say, I never went back to that writing group. Since then I have actively sought out other horror writers so that I feel less like a social pariah, but still there have been occasions over the years when people do a double take when I tell them I’m a horror writer. Generally what I get is “but you seem so nice,” with the implication being, clearly, that only weirdos and psychopaths could write horror.
The concept that women don’t write horror seems mystifying to me. After all, it could be argued that the first modern horror novel was “Frankenstein” – which was written by a teenage girl.
I’ve not always been a fan of horror, though. As a child, scary stories gave me nightmares. Then in grade 8, two things happened. First, I came across a book called ‘Different Seasons’ in the school library. This book, as any horror fan knows, consists of four novellas by Stephen King (three of which have been turned into films). I loved the book so much I went looking for more by the same author. The next one I picked up was “Carrie”. As a bullied teenager this one spoke volumes to me, and ever since then the illustrious Mr King has been my inspiration.
The second thing that happened was that my English teacher assigned the class to write a horror story. I always loved getting writing assignments at school – since most of my spare time was taken up by writing stories anyway, this never seemed like a chore to me. But I had never tried writing horror before. I ended up writing a story about ten teenagers who go on a camping trip and accidentally unleash a malevolent presence that possessed them and led them to kill each other horribly. While the story itself wasn’t all that good – I was only thirteen at the time, and had a lot to learn about writing – it triggered in me an appreciation for horror. And there’s been no stopping me since.
In many ways, horror has kept me sane. Throughout my teenage years I was able to exorcize the demons of puberty by writing about them. I wrote a lot of short horror stories in my late teens and early twenties and there are common themes that underline them all. Betrayal, isolation and loneliness are frequent refrains (and if anyone’s interested, the best of these early stories can be found amongst the stories in my collection SOUL SCREAMS).
When I started writing – and reading – horror, I never thought about it in terms of gender. I liked the genre, so I kept on writing it. It never occurred to me that “women don’t write horror”. In the 1990s, when I started submitting short stories, there were a lot of small press magazines around for the horror genre, and the stories within them were fairly evenly spread between male and female writers. At some point in the late 1990s, though, horror fell out of favour. This was bad news for me, as I’d started submitting my first horror novel and was struggling to find places to send it to. Horror seemed to disappear completely from book shops in the UK at that time. You’d find the likes of Stephen King and James Herbert in the ‘bestsellers’ section, and occasionally other horror writers would be shelved in ‘general fiction’, but there was no section specifically for horror.
In some ways, since then we seem to have been going backwards in terms of gender expectations. Toys and clothes for children are very clearly defined as for boys or for girls. I always thought this sends out a very bad message for children, as they learn early on that society wants them to get into a particular box, so that they can be neatly bombarded with the right marketing messages. Boys don’t play with dolls. Girls don’t play with cars. Girls wear clothes adorned with sparkly cute cartoon characters; boys wear t-shirts with superhero logos on.
When I first became aware of gender stereotyping, during my teenage years, it really bothered me that society wanted people to fit into particular boxes. For instance, I decided fairly on I didn’t want to have children. It still amazes me that there’s an assumption that all women have this nurturing maternal instinct. If that’s the case, I must have been absent when it was handed out.
I get particularly cross at Christmas, when we are bombarded by commercials that are full of sexist assumptions – that women want make-up sets and perfume for Christmas, and men want video games and the latest Black & Decker power tool. Anyone that knows me well enough to buy me a Christmas present ought to know I’d rather have a video game than a make-up kit, and I’m allergic to perfume so don’t even go there.
And really, that’s what the whole gender debate is about – marketing. I’m no expert on marketing (if I was I’d be selling a lot more books), but it does seem to be that there are a lot of short cuts taken when it comes to marketing anything, including books. “Men read spy thrillers and horror so let’s assume our audience for this new horror novel is entirely made up of men. Women read romance and ‘chick lit’, so we make the cover of this novel about a single twenty-something perennially looking for love all pink and sparkly”. There are plenty of us with two x-chromosomes who don’t read romance novels. During the wave of urban fantasy that rode in on the back of the success of ‘Buffy’ in the early 2000s I objected to those books that called themselves ‘urban fantasy’ but in reality were just romance novels involving supernatural creatures. I prefer to have my violence untainted by romance.
The problem is, it’s too easy to slap labels on things when you’re aiming for an easy sell. But if you work a bit harder, you’ll find a more appreciative audience. The same goes for horror. It’s very easy to name ten male top-selling horror authors, and wave that list around and say “well, women don’t write horror”.
The fact is, we do. You might have to delve a bit deeper into the genre to uncover the dark and disturbing stuff, but trust me, it’s there. And the more people read, and talk about, women horror writers, the more chance we’ve got of breaking the stereotype.
I’d like to set a challenge to all fans of horror reading this column. In 2018, make it a goal to discover and read at least two horror novels by women you haven’t read before. Challenge that myth that women don’t write horror, because you’ll find that we can give you nightmares just as well as Stephen King can.
Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris.
She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.
She is author of several horror novels, and a series of mysteries featuring contemporary actress and amateur sleuth Shara Summers.
Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com)
|Posted on October 23, 2017 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
I roam the land from the opening gates down to the last stone and rotting tree. I’ve been doing this for long that I’ve lost count of exactly how long it’s been. You’d think this would be the same old routine and boring ass job but not for me. I own my craft, I appreciate every day and I love my job. Some take on this job and they get scared shitless because they think it’ll be “cool” but they don’t know, they don’t have a goddamn clue how to truly take this job seriously. I love this job because I don’t always work at the same place, no I travel and go where I’m needed. Sometimes I do return to places I’ve worked before, sure the land is the same but the work is different. Ghastly and inhuman some would say but righteous and spectacular for me.
I marvel at the opportunity to dig a hole six feet deep and bury a body into the fresh Earth. Sure there’s maggots, worms and other creatures and insects you’ve never even heard of in the ground below but after a while you don’t even notice em there. Sometimes I go lower than six feet I know it’s a bit unorthodox but I feel it’s a sign of appreciation and honor. Some I bury above six feet because I don’t think they were good in life so why should they have it good in death? What’s the big deal about not digging a body six feet and only digging it 2-4? Well let’s just say man’s best friend and mother nature usually show up to make sure they don’t enjoy their eternal slumber.
My first gig was over in Tucson. They had me bury a ruthless outlaw for gunning down eight people simply for looking at him wrong. Talk about talk being cheap. Well I don’t rightfully condone pointless killing but I felt if I didn’t bury this guy six feet that he was gonna rise up and bury my ass so I made sure he was given a proper burial. I’ve buried every sort of person, you name it. Outlaw, clown, lawyer, garbage man, mafioso, zoo keeper, heck even celebrities. Personally I could give two shits as to what their job was when they were alive but I know some people like to know so I throw it in. I used to be a bounty hunter part time but I didn’t see the point really. Bounty hunting became extinct and it got in the way of this job which has many, many parts to it.
I remember the first day I ever worked in New Orleans. They had me over at the St. Louis Cemetery. They told me it would be a bit different than what I may be used to but they had no idea who they were talking to. IF you don’t know, St. Louis is below sea level like most of the city so when there’s a massive storm or flood, the bodies go a washin’. I did my best fisherman and Charon impression and took them bodies out of the water and back into their crypts. Now for as long as I’d been on the job at that point I thought nothing could upset me but the cleanup I did that day would have given a slaughterhouse janitor the nightmares. There were bodies, limps, morbid looking faces and some of the grimiest, slimiest and slippery stench skin you’ve ever seen. Imagine putting Play-Doh under water and then rubbing it with olive oil and dead meat.
My job isn’t always that messy as I usually just patrol normal ones and do my usual maintenance. I do landscaping of the area, mow the open grass areas and keep the graves looking fresh and up to code. You always know if your at a cemetery that I’ve been to because it’s so clean and peaceful. It’s practically a garden only instead of flowers there’s gravestones so it’s pretty much a garden of the dead if you will. So in some ways I’d like to consider myself a gardener, only I don’t make stuff grow...or do I? In all seriousness I make sure no stone is turned, no grass gets weeds and no grave is unfilled. I don’t just harvest the land of the dead and dig their beds I also chisel their tombstones and layer the bricks and concrete in their crypts. Find me another person who does that and I’ll start digging my own grave. I just did it for fun one day when I got done early once and seeing as my stone was good and the family really enjoyed it I decided to add it to my repertoire.
Once I had to bury a famous pianist so I crafted a giant tombstone that looked like a piano. The family loved it but the people of the cemetery and the townspeople thought it was too much. They learned to appreciate it..after I told them I could make some for them when they died. I haven’t worked there too much since. As I said though I travel a lot going from graveyard to graveyard in hopes to make each one greater than the next one. I should have my own show on HGTV called “Flipping Graveyards” because I mean I’m that good at what I’d do.
I won’t need another job for as long as I live, heck I’ll probably still be doing this when I’m dead if they let me, you know the guy upstairs or the guy down below? I mean I am helping them..at least I think I am. If you need someone to take care of the deceased I’m the one you call. I have a list of titles on my resume; gravedigger, undertaker, mortician, gravestone carver, crypt builder, gardener, landscaper, embalmer, among many others. When you need a person to care for your loved ones I’m your woman, the master of cemeteries.
|Posted on September 18, 2017 at 4:50 PM||comments (0)|
Zahra Akbar is my latest guest who wrote an article on her watching of one of Stephen King's classic films, Carrie. She watched both versions and gives her thoughts on both of the films.
So I Watched Carrie (1976) and Carrie (2013)
Margaret: Red. I might have known it would be red.
Carrie: It's pink, Mama.
Carrie: Look what Tommy gave me, Mama. Aren't they beautiful?
Margaret: I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will.
Carrie: Breasts, Mama. They're called breasts, and every woman has them.
Carrie is a quite popular novel by Stephen King and though, it had been on my reading list, I happened to come across its 2013 movie adaptation first. And then, I couldn’t help but watch the 1976 adaptation as well. If you’re into horror, you’ll probably love Carrie. If you’re into high school movies, like Mean Girls, you should give Carrie a chance, though Stephen King’s mean girls receive more than just a lesson.
I haven’t read the book yet, so I’ll be comparing both the movie adaptations with each other. It’s hard to say which version I liked the most, as both have added their own flavor to King’s original plot. For those who haven’t read the book [SPOILER ALERT], it revolves around a teenager protagonist, Carrie White, who lives with her mother. And Mama has issues – serious issues.
Carrie’s mother Margaret White is the most interesting character in the story. Piper Laurie played Margaret in 1976 version, and in 2013, we see none other than the gorgeous Julianne Moore playing the sociopath and religious fanatic mother of poor Carrie. Both these women portrayed the character amazingly – my favorite, however, was Moore. She added so much intensity to the character. Laurie looks kind of innocent for some part of the movie. I love how King has developed this character. She gives you nightmares – she gives you this sense of having an untold story behind her behavior and actions.
In the 2013 movie, Chloe Grace Mortez plays Carrie. I don’t know why, but I got a sense of gloom and darkness from her even from the first scene she appeared in. She’s definitely pretty – prettier than Carrie White is actually supposed to be. And you can’t help but feel bad for her for having to live with a crazy mother, but you also kind of know even more insanity is about to be unleashed. Sissy Spacek from 1976 adaptation looks more of a regular girl. Innocent and victimized, yes, but not completely unhappy. She seemed like a person who excitement and happiness. Though, Carrie is a tragic character – but I got the vibes of tragedy more from Chloe than Sissy Spacek.
Another important character than I feel the need to talk about is the mean girl, Chris Hargensen. I don’t need to think twice here – my favorite version of Chris is Nancy Allen from the 1976 adaptation. Portia Doubleday (from the 2013 movie) is also as mean as it gets as Chris Hargensen, but she looks like just another mean girl from just another high school drama.
As far as the story is concerned, the 2013 version uses technology to torment Carrie, this just makes the whole scenario more sinister, and we’re also reminded of the cyber bullying in real world.
Author: Zahra Akbar
Intro: Zahra Akbar is a blogger and writer from Pakistan. She blogs at dragonjournal.com
|Posted on September 18, 2017 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
For this latest piece I once again have a guest. Christine Valentor. She wrote a piece on Alfred Hitchcock that I found very interesting. Here's a little more on her and her article on the great Alfred Hitchcock.
Christine Valentor lives in Chicago and is a Horror/ Fantasy writer. Her blog Witchlike can be found at https://witchlike.wordpress.com/ One of her short stories about Jack the Ripper has recently been featured in the anthology A Box Under The Bed, due for Amazon release on Oct. 1. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Box-Under-Bed-anthology-stories-ebook/dp/B075C9D7L1
She love Anne Rice, Daphne Du Maurier, all things creepy, and of course Hitchcock!
If you have ever watched the original Psycho, or The Birds, or Rebecca (preferably alone on a stormy night, with all your doors bolted) you know what it is to experience Alfred Hitchcock at his best. The Master of Suspense, the Sorcerer of Shock, and the King of Comeuppance Hitchcock is by far one of the best film directors of the 20th century.
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899 in Leytonstone England. His father was a greengrocer, his mother a homemaker. He was the youngest of three children, an average student and a bit of loner.
But yawn. That story is far too mundane! In researching Hitch, I suspected something must have happened in his formative years. Some weird event must have helped create this creative and twisted genius, who would later alarm the world with his disturbing psychological horror.
It turns out a few things did happen.
When he was five years old, Hitchcock's father wanted to punish him for behaving badly. Little Alfred was sent to the local police station with a note asking the officer to ock him up in jail for five minutes. This incident left a lifelong scar on Hitchcock, possibly influencing his frequent themes of harsh punishments, wrongful accusations and sly retributions for evil doers. He had a permanent fear of the police.
He also had a permanent fear of Jesuits.
Hitchcock was raised Roman Catholic and attended Jesuit Grammar School at Saint Ignatius College. Years later, when asked in an interview how he an ostensibly polite gentleman managed to create such malevolent stories, Hitchcock replied: spent three years studying with the Jesuits. They used to terrify me to death with everything they did, and now I'm getting my own back by terrifying other people.
Hitch incorporated dark aspects of religion in his 1953 film I Confess. It starred Montgomery Clift as a Catholic priest who is wrongly accused of murder, but also hears the confession of the true murderer and is sworn to secrecy by his priestly vows.
Hitchcock's first job was as a draftsman for an electric cable company called Henley's. Even then, as a teenager, he was already writing scary tales. Some of these were published in the company's newsletter, The Henley Telegraph. Hitchcock's first piece, Gas, tells the story of a young woman who imagines that she is being assaulted one night in London but the twist at the end reveals it was all just a hallucination in the dentist's chair induced by the anesthetic.
Interestingly, one of the episodes featured on his television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents seems reminiscent of this tale. In the newer version, the woman's hallucination involves a futuristic society in which all men have been eradicated through a medicine originally intended to kill rats. There are no more men in the world! Babies are born through test tubes and they are always females! The woman wakes up from her dream to find that in reality, a famous scientist is currently experimenting with a medicine which will rid the world of rats! The woman takes a shotgun, attempts to kill the scientist and Well, you will just have to watch the episode to find out what happens.
His other early stories also indicate Hitchcockian creepiness and weird sexual overtones. One short story called And There Was No Rainbow (which some folk thought should have been banned) tells of a young man who goes out looking for a brothel, but instead stumbles into the house of a girl who is dating his best friend. Needless to say, psychological trauma ensues. Hitch also wrote a piece called Fedora which reportedly gave a strikingly accurate description of his future wife Alma Reville, although he had not yet met her! Was Alfred a secret psychic?
At the tender age of twenty, Alfred got a job at Paramount Studios as a title card designer for silent films. Within five years he was directing those films. His first commercial success was a thriller called The Lodger about London's notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper.
Around this time Alma Reville became Hitch's assistant director. The two were married on December 2, 1926. Alma became Hitchcock's closest collaborator. He rarely discussed her contributions to his films, although some were credited on screen. Alma was clearly the woman behind the great man but she avoided public attention.
Hitchcock had the unique experience of working in the film industry as it evolved through all its massive changes of the 20th century. In 1929, his production company began experimentation with sound, producing the first Talkies. Hitchcock's contributions included Blackmail, The Man Who Knew Too Much and his highly acclaimed The 39 Steps, which made him a star in the United States.
The 39 Steps established two unique Hitchcockian traditions: the Hitchcock Blonde and The MacGuffin.
The Hitchcock Blonde was the beautiful, ice-cool leading lady who started out picture perfect, but always became the disheveled victim of violent and twisted circumstances.
First personified in The 39 Steps by actress Madeleine Carroll, his other blondes included Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Kim Novak and Janet Leigh. Hitch believed that these flawless, classy women left much to the sexual imagination they were ladylike in public but potential whores in the bedroom. He described this archetype as follows:
I think the most interesting women, sexually, are the English women. I feel that the English women, the Swedes, the northern Germans and Scandinavians are a great deal more exciting than the Latin, the Italian and the French women. Sex should not be advertised. An English girl, looking like a schoolteacher, is apt to get into a cab with you and, to your surprise, she'll probably pull a man's pants open. Without the element of surprise, the scenes become meaningless. There's no possibility to discover sex
The MacGuffin is a plot device an object thrown in for the purpose of intriguing the audience, but which will have little consequence in the overall story.
In a lecture at Columbia University, Hitchcock explained The MacGuffin as follows:
It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men on a train. One man says, What's that package up there in the baggage rack? And the other answers, Oh, that's a MacGuffin. The first one asks, What's a MacGuffin? Well, the other man says, its an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands. The first man says, But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,and the other one answers, Well then, that's no MacGuffin! So you see that a MacGuffin is actually nothing at all.
The MacGuffin took on a life of its own in filmmaking. It is the Holy Grail of Arthurian legends. Some modern examples include: the Maltese Falcon in the film of the same name; the meaning of Rosebud in Citizen Kane; the Rabbit's Foot in Mission Impossible III, and the Heart of the Ocean necklace in Titanic.
Hitchcock's recognition and fame continued to grow. In 1939, he received The New York Film Critics Circle Award for his film The Lady Vanishes. Picturegoer Magazine called him Alfred the Great. The New York Times called him the greatest director of screen melodramas in the world, and compared him to other English treasures such as the Magna Carta and the Tower of London.
In 1940 Hitch directed Rebecca, based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier. (If you have not read this masterpiece, you must do so immediately!) The film won an Academy Award for best picture, with a best director nomination.
Hitch and horror novelist Daphne Du Maurier formed a natural collaboration. His film The Birds a story of rebellious birds that slowly and creepily take over a California town was also based on a story written by Du Maurier.
A few years ago my local movie theater ran a big screen production of The Birds. Tippi Hedren, an iconic Hitchcock Blonde who stars in the film, came in as a guest speaker. I swear to god she looked EXACTLY the same as she did in the film! Over forty years had passed and the woman had not aged, not one day. You will find pictures of Tippi Hedren on the internet where she looks older, but these (I swear!) are not real. I believe the lady must have a Dorian Gray arrangement The internet pictures are aging as she herself stays young. (Anything would be possible in Hitch's world!)
Hitchcock's career peaked in the 1950's and 60's when he directed gems such as Rear Window, Vertigo, Strangers on a Train, and of course his mega-hit Psycho. This movie was the creepiest creep-fest of all, about a young woman (Janet Leigh) who goes to stay at a hotel run by a taxidermy obsessed man (Tony Perkins) who has a strange relationship with his dead mother!
Hitch's television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents had a ten year run from 1955 to 1965. The fascinating thing about these segments is that, by today's standards, they are very plain. No bells or whistles, no special effects just simple black and white cinematography, flat lighting, and mostly unknown actors yet the brilliant storytelling spoke for itself. Equally entertaining was Hitch's deadpan delivery of introductions. He always began with Good Evening and went on to speak of hauntings, poisonings, burials, demonic possession and the like, all the while never batting an eyelash.
Hitchcock moved to California and became an American citizen in 1955, although still retaining his English citizenship. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1980, a few months before his death. Film critic Roger Ebert considered it something of a snub that the Queen hesitated to give Hitch his knighthood, writing: Other British directors like Sir Carol Reed and Sir Charlie Chaplin were knighted years ago, while Hitchcock one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, was passed over. What took the Queen so long? Perhaps she was a bit spooked by him, or reluctant to invite him to the palace...
On April 29th, 1980, Sir Alfred Hitchcock died of renal failure in his home in Bel Air California. Despite his professed fears of the Jesuits, two priests came in his closing hours, giving a final mass at Hitchcock's home and hearing his last confession.
Gone but not forgotten, we will never ditch the Hitch! He shall always be alive in legacy, legend and the ominous voice that bids us "Good evening", yet warns to lock the doors and be afraid. Be very afraid.