Main Navigation

STEPHEN KING’S Whodunit Horror, THE FLY turns 60, and More!
The Bite #15

STEPHEN KING’S Whodunit Horror, THE FLY turns 60, and More!

July 17, 2018

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY: WHAT BUGS US

By Sam Zimmerman

With approximately a million-plus species, insects are the planet’s most diverse group of organisms. They’re also arguably the freakiest, slimiest, creepiest, and crawliest. It reasons, then, that such a spectrum would lend itself to an array of horror stories, from the evolved freakout of Phase IV to that Vincent Price classic, The Fly – which celebrates its 60th birthday this year.

As more than a few bugs are straight deadly, some tales are of eco-terror – simply the unknowable natural world slinking up and getting the better of us humans (The SwarmCreepshow). Some go the supernatural route, antennae toward the black magic and psychic prowess of cult gems like Centipede Horror and Phenomena. Some are more sci-fi in nature, imagining our small friends grown to disastrous size thanks to various atomic, evolutionary scientific events (Them!Mimic). In some cases, just the idea of insects is so strong, the movie is about imaginary ones (William Friedkin’s Bug).

And yet, the most compelling avenue of insect-related fright remains that of mutation, such as in the aforementioned The Fly. Simple reversals like “human-as-prey,” or “bugs, but big” are jettisoned in favor of stories that reveal the existential, gross commonality between man and bug. Perhaps born in Kafka literary classic, “The Metamorphosis,” and told stunningly on screen, albeit very differently, in The Fly(1958) and David Cronenberg’s remake, The Fly (and briefly in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master), these body horrors use the person-insect hybrid to probe various conditions like decay, disease, man’s philosophical smallness, and perceived societal parasites.

It’s these stories that tend to cultivate the most wrenching emotion. Our hearts break as a character disgustingly struggles with themselves and ultimately, transform into something so generally reviled. For instance, The Fly (1958) contains all the window dressing of an otherwise camp-laden, scientist-plays-god spectacle, but Kurt Neumann’s direction and scientist André Delambre’s predicament break through. Here is a man in an impossible situation, separated of mind and body, and like us, flying toward an eventual fate.

It pierces our heart. How else could his sad, closing refrain of “Help me! Help me” become so iconic?


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Image of the Week

Practical Magic

Today’s horror film effects are mostly digital, but there was a time when all the madness was real. Like this shot of a giant ball of Krites built by the Chiodo Brothers for 1988’s Critters 2.


TINY BITES

BUFFY REGRETS, ASH’S CHAINSAW & MORE 

If you still haven’t forgiven Buffy the Vampire Slayerfor killing off Tara, you’ll be pleased to learn showrunner Marti Noxon has regrets, too.

NPR explores how Rosemary’s BabyThe Exorcist, and The Other combined to ignite a boom in paperback horror novels. (And explains why most ’70s horror novels are now out of print.)

Five horror movie composers – including those for A Quiet Place and Hereditary – reveal how they scare us with music when a director demands the auditory equivalent of “more blood!”

Now that Ash vs. Evil Dead is gone (sniff!), Starz is selling more than a thousand props and costumes from the show. You have until August 17 to bid on Bruce Campbell’s iconic chainsaw.

A Brazillian artist turned the titles of famous love songs into horror novel covers, and it turns out “Every breath you take” would be surprisingly creepy as a book.

M. Night Shyamalan brings back The Beast with his poster for Glass, the (allegedly) final film in hisUnbreakable trilogy.

Gideon Falls, the popular urban horror comic where a priest, a sheriff, and a recluse unravel a local legend, will soon be coming to TV.

Check out the trailer for Hulu’s upcoming Castle Rockseries, filled with Easter eggs from the Stephen King multiverse

The Honest Trailer crew takes on The Purgefranchise. Or as they say,”three zombie movies if the zombies were just regular folks who need therapy.”

Clownado (you read that correctly) has begun filming, teaming Scream Queen Linnea Quigley with Cult Drive-In Icon Jeanne Silver.


O is for Office Vampires

THE A TO Z OF SUBGENRES: O IS FOR OFFICE HORROR

By Sam Zimmerman

Eminently relatable, the emerging subgenre of Office-based horror burrows down to one fine point: work, uh, sucks. Your frustrations are repressed, your colleagues are creatures, the emails have too many exclamation points and no one is getting enough sun. Office culture follows nightmare logic, so why shouldn’t the movies about it do the same? In Office Horror, that which is confined to passive aggressive notes and stress balls explodes catharsis all over those off-white corporate walls.

See: MayhemThe Belko ExperimentOffice KillerBloodsucking BastardsGremlins 2: The New Batch


What We're Reading - Outsider

A VERY SHUDDER BOOK CLUB – WHAT WE’RE READING

By Craig Engler

Every month at Shudder we read a new book and discuss it. This month we’re reading The Outsider by Stephen King, a novel that’s equal parts whodunit and horror. It starts with a heinous crime and incontrovertible evidence that a beloved Little League coach committed it. Except that coach also seems to have an iron clad alibi. Reconciling those two sets of facts is what drives the narrative forward with whipsawing plot twists and a growing sense from the characters that something is badly wrong with their world. (Hint: It is.)