To say that 2020 has been difficult is a huge understatement. We’ve all lost a great deal this year, some far more than others, and as a result things have felt insurmountable at times. But you’re here now, hopefully in good health, and that is truly worth celebrating. So how do we wrap up a year as monumentally awful as this?
In his studies of the grotesque and carnivalesque (what we might consider a theoretical precedent for queer theories of camp), Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin identifies the mouth as “the most important of all human features for the grotesque.” As he puts it, “the grotesque face is actually reduced to the gaping mouth; the other features … only a frame encasing this wide open bodily abyss.”
My twelve-year-old son Shane has been a horror fan ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. These days he dabbles in makeup FX and creates props from his favorite movies like Aliens and The Ruins. Beyond the gore, however, he enjoys a really good scare and watches his faves repeatedly. When it became clear that he progressed beyond the gateway fare like Gremlins, we started to talk more about the things that spook us. I’m no Village Voice luminary of the critical world, but I’ve managed to make a modest career out of watching and dissecting the things that go bump in the night. Here’s what led to the most illuminating conversations between my son and I
The Bite #142
In the opening minutes of Piers Haggard’s 1971 folk-horror classic The Blood On Satan’s Claw, the titular claw along with a misshapen skull and other bodily pieces is unearthed by farmer Ralph (Barry Andrews) while tilling his soil. He’s repulsed, deeming it a “fiend” to the town Judge (Patrick Wymark), but he’s not the only character to find pieces of the decomposing creature. When a local group of teenage schoolkids happen upon it, their reaction is different. To them, the claw is a novelty to be passed around and pored over. But since it is, after all, Satan’s claw, their behaviour inevitably causes evil to spread. What’s particularly interesting about this is its virality: in many ways, Satan’s Claw is as much an infection movie as it is a supernatural one.
The Bite #140
The holiday season is the coldest and darkest time of the year, so it only makes sense that it would blend so well with horror. With this year in particular, as we’re lacking the usual cheer most often associated with the holidays, I thought it’d be nice to give the gift of cocktails based on some of my favorite Christmas themed horror movies. Let’s add some extra meaning to the “Christmas spirits” with some at-home mixology!
The Bite #139
Horror gamers have never had it as good as they do now. With a seemingly endless amount of indie developers and major studios releasing one title after another, there is a bit of a glut for solid, interactive spooks and scares. Just like with horror movies, horror games can be hit or miss. Some offer something unique and exciting while others feel like the same old thing with a fresh coat of paint.