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Posts Tagged ‘horror

“We need ghost stories because we, in fact, are the ghosts”*…

 

Cynthia-Zarin-Originial-Master-of-Ghost-Stories

Lost keys, a snagged button, a wine glass upset—you spilled it, didn’t you, the wine didn’t spill itself? “The Complete Ghost Stories,” by M. R. James, first published between 1904 and 1935—and reprinted [last] year by Macmillan, in a hardbound pocket edition, perfect for reading in a stalled subway car—incorporate what the author, the master of the modern ghost story, called “the malice of inanimate objects.” Might that razor, so benign every other morning, know something? Does ill will ferret out, precisely, where we live? The stories start quietly. A young man inherits a country house from an unknown uncle; a print collector finds himself drawn to an oddly undistinguished engraving; a provincial hotel doesn’t—or does it?—have a room numbered thirteen. The humdrum, muffled tone of these stories transmits an atmosphere of almost superannuated ordinariness—fusty antiquarians, old books, the slightly dampish vistas of university life, train platforms in out-of-the-way stations—places and people that mimic the life of the author himself, until they don’t…

Montague Rhodes James was an acclaimed intellectual who published a handful of stories (from short quips to long, academic papers) that are widely regarded as the basis upon which modern ghost stories are built. Not entirely for the narratives, but rather the topics: his stories are unpredictable and based on haunted objects, unfamiliar beings and odd circumstances.  Cynthia Zarin, of The New Yorker, writes “Scholarly efforts have been made to unearth the early trauma that would account for James’ succession of wraiths, screeches, hairy faces, and skeletal hands creeping out from under the pillow. He reported his own childhood as happy.”  Just in time for Halloween, more at “The original master of ghost stories.”

[TotH]

* Stephen King, Danse Macabre

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As we muse on the macabre, we might send frightening birthday greetings to Elsa Sullivan Lanchester; she was born on this date in 1902.  An accomplished and acclaimed actress whose career spanned several decades (and many genre), she is surely best remembered for– and as– The Bride of Frankenstein.

Elsa-Lanchester source

 

Written by LW

October 28, 2018 at 1:01 am

“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone”*…

 

Few people ever saw the images of china girls, although for decades they were ubiquitous in movie theaters. At the beginning of a reel of film, there would be a few frames of a woman’s head. She might be dressed up; she might be scowling at the camera. She might blink or move her head.

But if audiences saw her, it was only because there had been a mistake. These frames weren’t for public consumption. The china girl was there to assist the lab technicians processing the film. Even though the same person’s face might show up in reel after reel of film, her image would remain unknown to everyone except the technicians and projectionists.

For many years photo labs would produce unique china girl images; around a couple hundred women, perhaps more, had their images hidden at the beginning of films. As movies have transitioned from analog to digital, though, the china girls are disappearing.

China girls went by many names—leader ladies, girl head, lady wedge—but they were almost always images of women, and those women were almost always white. They were meant to show the person developing a film that everything had gone right technically; if it hadn’t, the china girl’s skin tone would look unnatural.

More lore at “The Forgotten ‘China Girls’ Hidden at the Beginning of Old Films.”

* Rainer Maria Rilke

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As we hunt for Easter eggs, we might send frightening birthday greetings to Lon Chaney, Jr.; he was born on this date in 1906.  Christened Creighton Tull Chaney, he took his famous father‘s name when he became an actor.  While he is probably best remembered for playing Larry Talbot in the 1941 film The Wolf Man and its various crossovers, and Count Alucard (son of Dracula) in several horror films produced by Universal Studios, he was cast in a wide variety of roles (including Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men) in career that spanned four decades.

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Written by LW

February 10, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Horror is the natural reaction to the last 5,000 years of history”*…

 

50+ examples: “Evolution of Horror Movie Poster Designs: 1922 – 2009.”

* Robert Anton Wilson

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As we prepare to shriek, we might recall that it was on this date in 1947 that a secret executive order issued by President Harry Truman established Majestic 12, a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials empaneled to investigate UFO activity in the aftermath of the Roswell incident— or so many UFO conspiracy theorists believe.  The purported documentary evidence of Majestic 12 has been judged fake by both the FBI and the Air Force (e.g., here)…  but then, they would wouldn’t they…

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Written by LW

September 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

Fright Night…

 

Halloween is about a week away– what’s a poor reader to wear?

Mark Rober and his company Digital Dudz offer a line of shirts and corresponding smartphone apps that create animated Halloween costumes…

This year, Mark is back with a new animation for his collection that displays a hand punching through your back and ripping your guts out. The gruesome animation is triggered by a smartphone’s internal motion sensor. When a friend pretends to punch his hand through your back and you arch your back, the gut ripping animation begins. [In the video below] Mark and his undead friend demonstrate how it works. The Digital Dudz apps (Apple and Android) and custom clothes are available to purchase online.

email readers click here for video

Via the ever-informative Laughing Squid.

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As we don our gay apparel, we might send terrifying birthday greetings to John Michael Crichton; he was born on this date in 1942.  An author, physician, producer, director, and screenwriter, he’s best known as a purveyor of techno-thrillers in the science fiction, medical fiction, and occasionally political thriller genres. The creator of  The Andromeda StrainJurassic ParkCongoSphereRising SunDisclosureThe Lost WorldTimelinePrey, and State off Fear, among many others, his books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, with many adapted into films.  In 1994 Crichton became the only creative artist ever to have works simultaneously charting at No. 1 in television, film, and book sales (with ERJurassic Park, and Disclosure, respectively).

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Written by LW

October 23, 2013 at 1:01 am

Special Halloween Edition: Horror for all!…

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By way of helping readers ready themselves for this evening’s frightful festivities, a stroll down memory lane…

These and other terrifying trailers (along with lots of other fascinating film fodder) at The Ebert Club; inexpensive annual membership required– and more than worth it.

And for advanced students: “The Top 10 Zombie Movies You’ve Never Seen.”

SPECIAL HORROR-GEEK UPDATE: “‘Why won’t you die?!’ The art of the jump scare.”

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As we steel ourselves against breaking prematurely into the candy, we might note that it was on this date in 2004 that the 14th Baron of Prestoungrange pardoned the 81 “East Lothian Witches” who had been put to death 400 years earlier (often, for crimes as innocuous as owning a black cat and living on their own).

The Baron acted on the authority of Scotland’s ancient baronial courts– and not a moment too soon, as the courts were abolished the following month.

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Written by LW

October 31, 2012 at 1:01 am

A good scare…


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HW:  Do you find that audiences are frightened by different things now from the things that frightened them when you started, what, 30 years ago… 35 years ago, making films?

AH:  No, I wouldn’t say so, because after all they were frightened as children. You have to remember this is all based on “Red Riding Hood,” you see? Nothing has changed since “Red Riding Hood.”

In 1964, Huw Weldon (later, Director General of the BBC) interviewed Alfred Hitchcock for the BBC series Monitor

Part Two here

HW:  Have you ever been tempted to make what is nowadays called a horror film, which is different from a Hitchcock film?

AH:  No, because it’s too easy… I believe in putting the horror in the mind of the audience and not necessarily on the screen.

[TotH to Brain Pickings]

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As we reach for our security blankets, we might recall that, though accounts of an unusual aquatic beast living in Scotland’s Loch Ness date back 1,500 years, the modern legend of the Loch Ness Monster was born when a sighting made local news on this date in 1933.  The Inverness Courier ran the account of a local couple who claimed to have seen “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.”  The story of the “monster” (a label chosen by the Courier editor) became a media sensation: London papers sent correspondents to Scotland and a circus offered a 20,000 pound reward for capture of the beast.

Photo “taken” in 1934, later proved a hoax (source)

Your correspondent is a few too many time zones away to allow for timely posting of a new missives; so this is a note from a May 2 pastregular service should resume May 6

Written by LW

May 2, 2012 at 1:01 am

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