The Ontology of Open Mouths: The Scream and the Swallowing
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.”
A Life Force in the Darkness
When I was casting Daniel Isn’t Real, I would talk to the actors I met about Tim Robbins’ performance in Jacob’s Ladder. The way, for me, it exemplified the contrast between a thematically bleak world and the expression of a character’s inner life. Ironically, the one actor I couldn’t do this with was the one I cast; Miles Robbins, my lead, is Tim’s son. I couldn’t point to that performance without chaining him to his dad, and so I had to find other ways to reference the particular energy I was looking for. That particular aliveness. And so we talked, among other things, about Rocky.
POSSESSION, SUSPIRIA, and the Berlin Wall
While Steve Miner was shocking American audiences in 1981 with Friday the 13th Part 2, his bloody follow-up to Sean S. Cunningham’s game changing lakeside set slasher, Ukrainian director Andrzej Zulawski was providing such appallingly ghastly images in Possession, his infamously unkempt tale of guilt and dissonance — a film that centers around the wall that has been raised between two parties during wartime.
The Promising Future of Irish Horror
When Mike Flanagan was looking for up-and-coming filmmakers to direct episodes of The Haunting of Bly Manor, he turned his sights to Ireland. Ciaran Foy, known for his 2012 feature debut Citadel, directed the series’ second and third episodes. While Irish/Welsh director Liam Gavin, who’s 2016 film A Dark Song was named Vulture’s 46th best movie of the 2010s, manned the helm for Bly Manor’s fourth and fifth episodes.
So Your Kid Likes Scary Movies … What Now?
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 Science Of Scares And The Fear Response
Fear may be universal, but the things that scare us are not. Part of the success and longevity of the horror genre is rooted in the fact that there is always going to be something for everyone. For some, the creeping dread of a “slow-burn” will always reign supreme, but for others, a jump scare will spark an uncontrolled, visceral reaction.
Oh, The Sin Of Writing Such Words: The Infinite Horror Labyrinth Of The Carcosa Mythos
The Carcosa mythology is not solely attributable to any one particular horror author, though is most commonly associated with American short story writer Robert Chambers. His 1895 collection The King in Yellow contains a number of stories that reference the King of the book’s title and the mythical city of Carcosa. The opening story, “The Repairer of Reputations,” is the most explicit work of fiction about the titular figure. The story’s narrator, Hildred Castaigne, has lost his mind, presumably from reading a forbidden play called “The King in Yellow.” To read the play is to suffer irreparable madness.
Horror’s Profound Empathy
I love horror. I love the sound of a hundred voices in a theater gasping in terror then letting out cathartic peals of laughter to relieve tension. I love listening to ghost stories with my kiddo outside in her tent. During the scary bits, she talks fast over the audio as a way to cope, and nothing brings me more joy. I love horror movies because that ball of worry that threatens to chew a hole in my stomach during the scariest bits mirrors how I experience anxiety. Taming those anxieties through controlled breathing or slowing down racing thoughts reminds me that I can do the same during real-world situations. I’m not alone in this; millions live with anxiety. What makes us unique is how we process and act on our symptoms. Horror affords people the opportunity to work through crippling worry that repeats itself like a needle stuck in a groove. It even gives us the chance to learn what scares people different than ourselves, who share different cultures, values, and experiences from our own.
Stanny And The T-Rex: An Interview With Stewart Raffill
It’s no secret I am a Stanny (that’s “Tanny + stan” for the uninitiated). Even before I saw the gore cut of Tammy and the T-Rex (1994) — or as the title card inexplicably reads, Tanny and the Teenage Rex — I was hooked. Not only is it my particular flavor of bonkers, but it’s also an important entry in the queer horror canon as it features a gay, black character named Byron (played by Theo Forsett). That kind of representation is rare in the genre, even by today’s standards. So I reached out to director Stewart Raffill to find out more.
Cooking With Vincent Price: Recipes So Good, You’ll Scream … And Scream Again
With a nearly six-decade-long acting career, the name Vincent Price is synonymous with horror. But the Master of the Macabre’s talent didn’t stop on the movie set — he was also a gourmet chef who published a number of best-selling cookbooks with his wife, Mary, hosted lavish dinner parties, and even had his own cooking show, Cooking Price-Wise.
The Creepy Kid…
When I was in kindergarten, my parents thought it was okay for me to watch Stephen King’s IT on ABC. For most of the film, I sat on the basement steps watching balloons of blood inflate and explode from a distance. No matter how far back I sat, how small that screen was, it still terrified me.
A Year After HORROR NOIRE And The State Of Black Horror
A year ago, Shudder’s Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror trended on Twitter on the night of its red carpet premiere, which brought out Hollywood’s horror royalty: icons Tony Todd (Candyman), Rachel True (The Craft), Rusty Cundieff (Tales from the Hood), Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead), Ernest Dickerson (Demon Knight), Keith David (The Thing) and others who appeared in the documentary, alongside original Candyman director Bernard Rose, actress Heather Langencamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and all manner of horror heads in a feel-good event I’m still smiling about.
The Tribes Of The Moon Embrace You
I’m going tell you a story about Clive Barker’s film Nightbreed, conversations since its release 30 years ago, and a secret…
Lovecraft’s Frightful Messenger
“West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut.”
So begins H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpiece The Colour Out of Space, a novella written and published in 1927 that Lovecraft himself considered his best short story. It tells the tale of the Gardner family, onto whose farm lands a meteorite from outer space which unleashes a mysterious, otherworldly “Colour” that first drives the inhabitants mad, then destroys and alters the land itself, finally changing the family into monsters.