Old-Style Scares: Halloween Films in B&W

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I’ve already mentioned that Halloween isn’t a big thing here in France, but it continues to be a big thing in my America mind- which explains why I’ve let go of the crutch that is mindlessly watching television shows for the first time (Game of Thrones and Sherlock) and turned to some more spooky stuff.
Not that GoT and Sherlock don’t get kind of… odd.

So creepy black and white films, what have I got? Quite a bit actually.
I’m trying to capitalize on the creepy and supernatural over suspense, because then (knowing me) we would wind up with just a list entirely of Hitchcock films.

But there’s still some Hitchcock:

  • Psycho, 1960: Psycho is fair game because it’s one of the most famous, most impactful horror films of all time. Also, you knew it was on the list because of the header image, so no surprises here.
  • The Birds, 1963: Another granddaddy horror film, but this time with some definite shades of the supernatural. Truly I don’t find this very scary, but it is a magnificent film.

What did I watch yesterday?

  • Death Takes a Holiday, 1934: Spoiler alert, he falls in love. I actually had a very good time with this film- and Henry Travers is in it. ❤

Hey, that was a good book:

  • The Innocents, 1961: The Innocents is based on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw and it definitely captures the novella’s encroaching claustrophobia and uncertainty. Is there evil afoot or is the governess batshit crazy?
  • The Haunting, 1963: Based on Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hillhouse, the film isn’t quite true to the book, but it’s fantastic in it’s own unique way. Very atmospheric and spine-tingling. I recommend both.
  • Nosferatu, 1922: The original vampire movie, based on Dracula, the original vampire book.  Even more chilling than the titular villain? A wife calling her husband by his last name.
  • The Uninvited, 1944: Based on a little known book by the same title, this is a beautiful and suspenseful family mystery/ghost story/romance.
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, 1947: So this is neither creepy nor scary so much as good wholesome odd couple romance. With Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. So yeah, pretty good.
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1939: Not supernatural but almost so, and the desolate moors and howling lend a fair bit of creepiness. It stays.

I love Bette Davis:

  • Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, 1962: Not supernatural but definitely one of the more disturbing and creepy films on this list (possibly ever). Child stars, faded glory, and a permeating air of decay.

Dream within a dream:

  • Dead of Night, 1945: Supernatural tale-telling between guests at a country house starts takes an odd turn as one begins to experience some pretty spectacular deja vu.

The artsy French are so weird:

  • Eyes Without a Face, 1960: I find this to be a completely amazing movie, both in terms of its haunting beauty and the simple but strange plot. Face stealing.

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Role Models: Literary Villainesses

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You may have noticed that I took the weekend off from posting, which was nice because I didn’t have anything I very much wanted to get out.

But today I’d like to talk about some of the women in literature I find to be very inspiring- the women who are pretty much the devil incarnate.

Putting aside issues of women’s representation in literature and other arts, and how it may or may not be more connected to men’s imagination than female actuality… some of my favorite characters are strong, selfish, and mean people.

I’m not sure why this is, especially because I’d like to think that I personally am nothing like that.  But it’s also not difficult to see why their drive, anger, and uncompromising attitudes are appealing.  After all, the world is a scary place and women are frequently expected to be easy victims of it. Continue reading “Role Models: Literary Villainesses”

Literature: Family Secrets and Strange Happenings

 

I avoid posting short lists but these fit together in a way that intrigues and excites me, so I refuse to change it! It’s my blog.  As you may know (or not) I’m in my senior spring semester at university right now, which means I have pretty much the most carefree schedule I’ve known since preschool when we had scheduled nap time.
Only one of my classes is a necessity for my major and all the rest I’m taking just for funsies.
One of these classes is a super-basic English class called Female Sociopath, and it helps that I’ve read essentially all of the required reading already (except one, which is where this list comes in). That class basically tackles one of my favorite character types which I’ve been referring to in my head for years as ‘women who inspire me to be the devil incarnate.’ So it’s an excellent fit and, having given this scary female trope a disturbing amount of thought already, the class is very much a breeze.
But there was still that one book that I hadn’t read yet, and because it’s been my universal experience that reading a book for class absolutely ruins the experience, I made sure to read it about a week in advance.  That book was Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and I’m so glad I took the precaution, because it’s such an amazing and I’m proud to have rescued it from the insidious and pervasive interference of academics. Continue reading “Literature: Family Secrets and Strange Happenings”

My Favorite Authors: An Added Addendum

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Let’s wrap this one up!  I have something like eight authors to go through on this round (and eight is my favorite number) so let’s get started.

Shirley Jackson:
Namely, her hazy and suspenseful fiction.  You may have read The Lottery, an excellent short story.  You may have been introduced to her, as I was, through We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  There’s a cat in that one.  And a character named Connie (more people should be named Connie).  Funnily enough, a friend who actually asks for and heeds my book recommendations tells me that the Connie in this book reminds him a lot of me. And I’m flattered- which says something about the character but possibly more about me because (spoiler) she’s quite possibly poisoned her family.  Also a girl whose nickname is Merricat, which is kind of freaking awesome.  The Haunting of Hillhouse is also really really good.  And the movie is good but diverges from the book regarding some important plot/character developments- but both are enjoyable and gorgeously atmospheric.  I have to admit that I like her nonfiction less (Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages are about her family life and I think her husband and children sound impossible to live with (and she does too, tbh)) (But also I’m a misanthrope so maybe don’t take my word for it?)  If you’ve disentangled my convoluted parentheses, points to you! Continue reading “My Favorite Authors: An Added Addendum”

Top Books of the Month

It has been four weeks minus a day since I got home from my junior year of college (!) which means it’s been exactly four weeks since the most dehumanizing test of my life (Physical Chemistry II, anybody?)
Here, a list of the best of the books I’ve read since my triumphant return.  Spoiler warnings.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers: I love Carson McCullers, if I post an addendum to my list of favorite authors, she will be on it.  My Mom has been recommending this book to me for a long time and I’m very glad that I finally heeded her always-sage advice.  The Heart is a shaking book. And my Mom lied to me. I asked if Mr. Singer would be okay in the end and she assured me that he would be. Of course if you’ve read this novel you know that Mr. Singer shoots himself.  It’s a book that explores the deep loneliness, searching, and successive disillusionments that is human life. The failure to understand the people around us, the pain of not being understood. Continue reading “Top Books of the Month”