The boom times for paperback horror novels were the 1980s and 1990s, and right next to bus station bookstore perennials Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum and Stephen King, who might serve as these writer's more successful patron saint. Here, among these books were dozens of evil canine also-rans, a pack of not-quite-Cujos, not to mention psychic tots that more than resemble Danny Torrance, and post-Pennywise scary clowns. But these were also books that were a bit too pulpy and trashy for the King -- think Satanic orgies, demonic babies eating their way out of cursed mothers, and incestuous gothic tales to make V. C. Andrews blush.Read More
To call Stephen King's novel "IT" a masterpiece may be hyperbolic, but I think I'm going to say it anyway. King has. of course, written novels that had a clearer through-line, which cohered more or better, or which were altogether subtler. But King once said that that "It" was, for him, a king of grand unifying thesis of his career, one which was "the summation of everything I had learned and done in my whole life up to that point". Thus, the novel is both the end of and the summing up of a stage of King's career, but also of his life experiences, especially as a scared, bike-riding kid in the mid-century Maine, all sticky mouth and chocolate-fingered -- feeling like an outsider, lusting innocently after the girl next door, and battling the scary clown we call adulthood.
As such, its an idiosyncratic portrait of a time and place made even more so by King's then-contemporary cocaine habit. As he vacuumed massive quantities of the substances off of his writing desk, he pounded out the 1000+ pages that constitute its well-endowed length. There are plenty of elements of the book too weird to describe with any sense: the cosmic battle between Pennywise and the turtle who puked out the universe, for instance, or the truly bizarre kid-orgy that everyone who's ever read it will surely remember.
The 2017 film adaptation of "It" is both a pretty faithful adaptation of parts of the book, and a dramatic rearrangement of the book's elements. For one, the setting in time has changed from the 1950s (the original novel taking place between the Losers Club's childhood in the 1950s and their 1980s adulthood) to the 1980s, although the film's 80s references are limited to a few songs on the soundtrack and a theatrical marquis advertising Lethal Weapon 2 and Batman. The temporal rearrangement doesn't change the story much so much as it makes it seem timely in a post-"Stranger Things" world. After all, the 80s are so hot right now.
So if Stephen King's novel represents the distillate left over after boiling down 30 years of horror, "It" (2017) might be said to exemplify the horror trends of our new century so far, including: A.) the idea, now enjoying currency after "The Conjuring" and its ensuing wave of sequels and spin-offs made bazillions, that everything was scarier in decades past (see also "Ouija 2", Rob Zombie's movies, even stuff that just feel like 80s movies, like "It Follows"), B.) the tendency to highlight horrific imagery and atmosphere over plot, and C.) a weird mix of dread and nostalgia. The result is a movie every bit as idiosyncratic as the original novel, but less personal and more of a pastiche.
The kids are good, sometimes even great, and the adult actors acquit themselves nicely despite being broad types. And Bill Skarsgard, while standing on the shoulders of Tim Curry, does a pretty darn good Pennywise, although not quite as blissfully ridiculous as Curry's. The Pennywise scenes, in which the Losers encounter their fears personified, are all either the best or the worst scenes in the movie, depending on your taste, while the sequence of the Losers exploring the local haunted house is fun and inventive enough to invite comparisons with the 1980s "House", or even the Hooper/Spielberg "Poltergeist".
Like the tv movie original and the lunatic novel it is based on, the 2017 "It" is best enjoyed after surrendering to it's potent, flawed brew of sometimes genius, sometimes just weird elements. Whether It: Chapter Two, the sequel which will presumably deal with the adult portion of the book, will be as appealing remains to be seen (and if you're anything like me, you remember the kid sections of the novel and tv movie far better than the adult part).
But regardless, "It" (2017) now ranks and one of the better, and more respectful, King adaptations and if you watch it, you just might find yourself afloat on tides of well-crafted, pleasantly familiar horror nostalgia.
Life, the newest movie (aside from Alien: Convenant) to pay homage (read: rip off) the Alien series, is also pretty vacuum-ous. The attractive-but-bland stock characters are paper thin, and the plot can be summarized by a phrase, like “alien kills everyone”.Read More
Kiernan's prose provides the greatest part of that wonder. Achingly beautiful, always strange and never quotidian, she never lets the reader find any firm ground. Fittingly for a story which involves a Manson-like cult, it feels hallucinatory, dreamlike. And unlike most stories that fit, even peripherally, into Lovecraft's mythos, the story does not try too hard to replicate the feeling induced by the Master's works.Read More
Of course its an absurdity to ask such a question. Be it resolved that everyone is different. Be it resolved that all writing is different. Even so: when you write, if you write, are you trying to say something?Read More
After the fall of Antioch during the First Crusade, the knights were restless and without leadership. The papal legate had died, leaving the princes in charge and bickering among themselves. The Fatimid Caliphate brought talk of peace to the Crusaders' table. But the Crusaders, though partly divided, were hungry for war. They trekked their way down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea towards Jerusalem.
On June 7, 1099 CE, the Crusaders arrived at the city walls they'd so longed to reach. Some of the soldiers fell to their knees in gratitude to the Lord that had ferried them here. They prayed that God grant them the strength to take the city from the Fatimids, and 5,000 knights rushed into battle.Read More
Today — June 3rd — is National Repeat Day. While the origins of this celebration of repetition are less than clear, it is nonetheless an auspicious day to pick something to do and repeat it, ad nauseam. Send the same messages, watch the same movies, eat the same foods.
To celebrate, we're posting a story by one of our murderers, CJ Miles IV, about the horrifying repetition of death, featuring artwork by Krowjak Illustration. "Repeat After Me" was originally published in Happy Days, Sweetheart.Read More
Summer is here, and so is LGBT Pride Month! As we gear up for the raucous celebration to commemorate the Stonewall riots, I can already hear the complaints of well-meaning individuals—there's too many leather-clad men, why don't people wear more clothes, oh the debauchery! If LGBT people want to be accepted, why do they work so hard to be different?
It's LGBT Pride Month. That's why.Read More
I have a shocking confession to make: I don’t like horror movies. At this point, I’m assuming you’ve either picked yourself up from the floor, or else the confession isn’t really that shocking. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen plenty of horror movies. I just don’t go out of my way to watch them because I can’t shut off my overactive imagination. Whether it’s mirrors, the dark, looking through windows into the dark, open closet doors, or the thought of a monster ready to grab me by the ankles and drag me under the bed, seeing these things on the big screen only reinforces the real-life fears I have.
So, now that you know what you’re dealing with, I thought I would further humiliate myself and tell you about my top five embarrassing reactions to some horror movies I’ve seen.Read More
Two thousand six hundred two years ago, the Medes and the Lydians were enmeshed in all-out war. While the two sides had much to war over, what had finally brought the two sides to raise arms against each other was the murder of the Lydian prince. A group of Scythian hunters had been hired by King Cyaxares. When they returned from their hunt empty-handed, the king insulted them. The hunters killed his son and, as part of their revenge, served him up to the Medes as a meal.Read More
Mother's Day has come and gone, but motherhood is forever. And forever is a long time. Long enough, surely, to drive some people crazy. Chances are your mother was pretty cool, generally speaking. Not everyone's so lucky. For us, celebrating Mother's Day with a list like this one is just what the counselor ordered. Here are...
The 5 Worst Mothers in Horror FilmRead More
Hello again, dear reader. Last time we were together I wrote about writer's block, a subject near, if not dear, to my heart. As you can tell from the length of time between posts, its something with which I have continued to tussle over the last month or so.
The reasons why are myriad and personal, and are certainly too boring to do more than hint at here; suffice it to say that my living situation has changed recently, and I don't do change well.Read More