Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just Watched: Haunting of Winchester House

When I was flipping through Netflix the other day (my savior over Christmas break) I came upon this really cool looking movie, and I'll admit, decided to give it a go for two reasons: (1) I love haunted house movies, and (2) the cover looked really scary with its severed, broken doll head coming out of the ground. Now normally, I go into these movies expecting to be disappointed, which I won't lie, to an extent I was, but at the same time, I'm always drawn to them because they take a place in a setting that is supposed to be one's sanctuary and then turn it into a living nightmare.

In the beginning, we are introduced to a family of three that are on their way to Winchester house for a few months stay.  Right off from the beginning, I could taste the tension when the mother was shown staring at an empty car seat, assuming that she had either recently lost a child or was thinking back to when her older daughter was a baby.  Once they got on the road, and could see the house over the hill, they were blind sighted by a car and nearly go run off the side of the road -- giving them a frightful start to their new lives.

Frankly, I must admit that the house looked great with its atypical shifts in the roof and its angular cuts on the windows; it was perfectly Gothic, hidden away in the woods, and it was one of those houses were you look at it and say "There is no way in hell that I am going in there." But what got me the most, was how/why the family didn't look into the houses history before they moved in -- because when the creepy guy that pops up in every haunted house movie came to warn them about the haunting(s) or the spirits, they looked disgusted and annoyed.  I did like the spin that the man was a paranormal investigator, rather than just an ordinary guy down the street.  Also, I enjoyed the fact that the haunting(s) started right away -- especially since the little girl saw the dead daughter first, and then was locked down inside one of those old fashioned storm cellars.

Note:  All of the spirits were from the 19th century and my  favorite one in the move, hands down, was the one who was deaf, because he was flat out terrifying since he primarily spoke with his eyes.  Furthermore, he carried around a deaf board (a chalk board slate around his neck) to write messages back then, and now for the family that is currently living in his house.

Now let's get serious.  This movie could have been GREAT if I had any idea why the hell the house was haunted in the first place.  A few times they mentioned something about gun victims, so I'm not sure if these spirits were all shot during some crazy siege or massacre and are just pissed off and taking vengeance on the people that inhabit the house, but regardless, there needed to be more explanation so that the viewers could be afraid of the spirits and know their intent in the first place.

So with that in mind -- explain to me the rest of the significance of the movie considering it dealt with a daughter who was killed accidentally by the blind man, and whose also dead mother was looking for her after all these years.  I get that that was why the dead woman stole the family's daughter so that they would be forced to find her daughter's skeleton...but how does this go along with the gun plot?? Still a little confused -- maybe a second viewing would help to better understand it, but I wasn't too fond of those quirks the first time through.

But on a more positive level, the ending made up for the rest of the movie's shortcomings,because throughout the entire plot, we learn about the two types of ghosts: (1) ghosts that do not know that they are dead and (2) ghosts that are staying around because of intense emotions such as anger, regret or love.  This is emphasized throughout the entire plot line and naturally, we are assuming that the investigator is telling us this because of the angered spirits in the house, and is just trying to help the family (which he reiterates over, and over again) -- but at the very end of the movie, when the family escapes the house and goes to get in their car to leave, they notice that their car is gone, and then the mother sees the skid marks from earlier in the day when that car ran them off the road.  Turns out though, that the family really was run off the road, and all killed on impact -- leaving them to be the type one ghost that doesn't understand it's dead yet.  So at the end, one realizes why the family was able to see the ghosts, why the investigator continually made remarks about how he was there to help the family, and more importantly why when the father called the police, that they couldn't understand them (i.e.  EVP -- how when ghosts speak, it sounds like static).

All in all, it wasn't a bad movie and while I have some issues with the story line, I will admit that the ending was beautifully written. I absolutely loved that the family was dead the whole time, and that even when the mother found out that they were dead at the end, that she decided not to tell her family out out love.  I would recommend this to someone that has Netflix and has some time to kill, but if you have to spend money to rent it and have a time limit to give it back, get An American Haunting or A Haunting in Connecticut  instead.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just Read: I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

This is a book that picked me. Honestly.

I was wondering around Borders the other night, while waiting for a friend to be done with a job interview, and while milling around in the thriller section, I caught a book out of the corner of my eye.  When I read the title, I knew I was going to buy it, because frankly, in my mind, if it has serial killer it has to be good.  But I technically didn't judge the book by it's cover, because I did read the back and the first couple pages, and it seemed like it would be pretty cool, so I decided hell, I'll give it a try.

And to me, finding a new author to start reading is just about as good as sex.

I was immediately drawn into John Wayne Cleaver, the book's protagonist and I have to admit that I was very impressed about all the little compartments that Well's wove into the plot to make the character more appealing and frightening at the same time.  For instance, the child had an absent father, and lived with his mother who happened to run a mortuary, and to be blunt, the kid just couldn't get enough of dead bodies.  They put him at piece.  Then, take into consideration that the child was obsessed with serial killers, tortured animals at a young age, still wet the bed, and had a bad case of pyromania  --- well, we have the three main red flags are detecting a sociopath ladies and gentlemen! Plus Wells was careful to point out that our protagonist's name shared a striking resemblance to John Wayne Gacy, and that his last name is a renown murder weapon.  To me, it sounded like fate wanted John to be a serial killer, and it turned out...that's what John thought too.

I really like how John gave himself rules to follow so his rage and thoughts would never get out of control.  For instance, if he found himself staring at someone for too long, he would force himself to avoid that person for a week.  Same when it someone was picking on him or making him angry - he forced himself to give them a compliment so he wouldn't rip out their spleen; I liked the way his mind was like learning the boundaries in the mind of a killer. Very intriguing.  Plus add the fact that there was a serial killer prowling around his town, taking victims on a regular basis, and you know that John had to be in his glory.

Now I was sold on the plot from very early on in the novel, but when I figured out that there was a supernatural/ occult essence to the serial killer, I won't deny that I was greatly disappointed.  Where I wanted this book to go, and where Wells decided to take it were two completely different paths...yet while I didn't get the story I wanted, I still enjoyed reading his.  Plus, I got to learn a lot more about how the mind of a sociopath/killer worked, which is always interesting to one like myself.

Without giving away a lot of the book, there was one scene that I don't think I'll be ever to forget. At one point in the climax, John knows that he has to put someone in danger in order to lure in the killer, and as he is in the process of wounding the victim... he gets nervous because he can't stop.  He keeps fantasizing about their death, and the ways that he would do it, and to me, it really showed a stark contrast between the boy and the monster within; not that there were two personalities, but rather a buried side to him that he fought so hard to keep inside.  It was terribly frightening to see someone, especially a child, react to violence in that way.

Overall, I would say give it a shot. It's a good read.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just Read: Snow- Part 2

Setting / Monster Analysis:

At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like the setting of the book, because it seemed to 30 Days of Night for me-- small town, covered in snow, lights go out, then the creature takes over.  But, I ended up liking the setting in the way that Malfi portrayed it, because he didn't just use the snow as the atmosphere but rather as the destructive force in the story (and not in a Storm of the Century way either)! He created his monster based off of the snow- using its characteristics to enhance its capabilities.  For instance, in horror, we normally look at a fog or a storm as a destructive force, but in this case, it's like Malfi combined them all into the snow, and allowed it to move swiftly and quietly into creaks and openings in the buildings.  Creepy!

BUT (yes there had to be one) I did think that the monster was kind of ...well, awkward.  I mean, I loved the fact that it would become solid enough to shove its blades into the shoulder blades of it's victims, using them as skin puppets (love that name!), but I feel like the monster was to all over the place for me. For instance, before you know it, the creatures turned their hosts into a type of zombie figure that went around feeding on flesh and blood.  In a way, I feel like it should have been one or the other, and I know that is squashing Malfi's creative process, but I found myself really confused a some points about what I was dealing with here. However, I really enjoyed that Malfi commented on the creature's attack on the children.  I felt like he was making a comment on how innocent a child's soul is, by not letting the creature take to their bodies.  They couldn't feed with them, but they did disfigure the bodies -- making them faceless, which I find particularly unsettling to be honest.

I wanted to comment on two other points, and then I'll feel satisfied with these blog entries.  I personally loved when Todd, Kate, Fred and Nan met Eddie on the side of the street in the beginning, looking for his little girl, Emily.  Right away, I sensed that something  was off about him, just because I'm used to the genre, but he did convince me otherwise when he started to panic a lot when the others wouldn't listen to him.  Yet, when he was in the car, and wasn't speaking... I was just waiting for him to gash out someone's throat and swallow their innards, ha.  I think this was my favorite part in the book, because I liked all the drama this one small character started.  He instantly created drama, suspicion, fear, curiosity, etc. and when he ran into the woods and Todd caught a glimpse of his little girl, I erupted into a wicked smile.  Plus, for Malfi to end the book the way it began... I was very happy.  It was like watching the conclusion of SAW all over again (which I realllyyy enjoyed!!!).

I already mentioned how I felt about Todd and Kate's relationship, and how I felt about Molly's decision to not off herself...Egh. But let's talk about the journey to the computer.  While I'm sure everyone is waiting for me to bitch about them discovering the technology loophole, I actually thought it was quite clever.  Why you ask?  Well, because of  all the complications they had in getting it of course! Todd thought something grabbed him while climbing across the pond, and almost had a near death experience, Brenden got his throat gashed out, Bruce got seriously chased by those horrific creatures, and the computer didn't start right away.  SO, that works for me.  Plus, I really liked the car diversion because it showed the dumb yet animalistic of the zombie (like thing).

Ok, ok, ok!! You finally wore me  down.  I liked the book.  But I'm 70/30 on the monster folks.  That's the best I can do!

Just Read: Snow -- Part 1

I read Snow a week ago, and I haven’t blogged on it until now because I was still thinking about whether I liked the book or not, and how I wanted to respond to it on here.  I still don’t have an answer to that dilemma, so frankly, I’m just going to talk and see what comes out.

I thought the book was written very well, and that Ronald Malfi did a great job of imagery, and exposing the terror that was happening throughout the book.  I know my heart was beating hard at some points, and that I went through some unique turns of emotions; one minute I would be happy, then next I was destroyed, and at one time, I put the book down and stopped reading it for a while because I was so pissed off.   Would I read it again?  Probably not, but I would certainly recommend it to others.

Character Analysis:

I really liked the way the book opened in the Prologue because it immediately lured me in and raised my suspicions about what was happening.  I remember reading it twice because I wanted to get as much information as I could before I jumped into the story, because I wanted to try to figure out what was going on before I actually read it.  But nonetheless, I quickly fell in love with Todd and Kate. Todd, because of his tortured past, love for his son, his sympathetic and sensitive qualities….Kate for her bad ass attitude, crazy red hair, and quick comebacks.  Oh, how I rejoiced when they kissed! But at the end I was a little disappointed that they didn’t end up together, but I think Malfi made a good choice by ending it with Brianna and Justin sitting of Todd’s bed with him because it brought the story around full circle.

Now I mentioned earlier that I threw the book down at one point, and that was when Shawna died.  Out of all of the characters, she was by far my favorite, and when those creatures killed her off, I was beyond pissed.  She survived so much – killing her boyfriend, the people she grew up with, surviving in that Pack N Go for a week by herself – and then to just happen to walk into a room where a bunch of them are, and to get eaten alive… (Ah Breathe) I was not happy.  I wanted her to be the Amazon Woman of the book and to survive till the end!  I guess Kate took that place, which I am totally fine with, but I think Shawna should have gotten a little more attention in the book.  In fact, it seemed like her goal in the novel was simply to get the other characters on their feet, tell them all of the knowledge about the town and its new occupants (what they are, how to kill them), and then give them a plan to survive…and then she was useless and had to be killed off.  So yeah, as a writer I get that, but as a reader I wanted her alive!

As for the other characters in the book, I was pretty impressed with them.  I really liked Fred and Nan, and while this may seem cruel, I thought that their deaths were amazing.  I liked that Malfi had Fred get attacked right in front of Nan, only to have her corpse thrown through a stained-glass window in the church later on in the novel.  Impressive.  I think that both of their deaths served as breaking points for a lot of the characters in the book, especially Shawna because she had to witness both of them- and even see how Nan broke down when she saw Fred getting attacked.

Then towards the end, we got introduced to Molly and the kids (Cody and Charlie).   I hated Molly right from the start because of her attitude, and how selfish she was.  She didn’t care about anyone else except herself (and her baby) and Brendon, and could care less if everyone else died.  In fact, her blatant disregard for Cody and Charlie frustrated me more than anything because she would just let them wonder off throughout the station, not caring what happened to them, let alone having any concern for what they might do to put the rest of the group in danger, accidental or not.  Maybe because of my intense dislike for her, but I was happy to see that she was the one to have a breakdown in the end, and shoot Todd.  I kind of thought that she was going to turn the gun around and shoot herself, and was a little confused about why she didn’t in the end.  After all, like she said, she didn’t have anyone else, and I for one, couldn’t imagine going through a traumatic event like that by myself.  But that was Malfi’s decision, not mine.

Then the kids.  I felt so BAD for them throughout the entire book, and when Kate went to find them at the end of the novel, only to find them faceless like the rest of the monsters out there, my heart broke into a million pieces.  It was a great writing choice on Malfi’s  behalf, but I’ll admit that my heart plummeted a little on that one. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Boy Dressed as Daphne -- Oh the Horror!

A five year old is gay.  Seriously people?
Read this blog entry and watch this video

Seriously who would make fun of a kid in a Halloween costume??

This video really affected me on a couple of different levels not because of the topic, but because that the entire conflict revolves around a 5 year old boy.  I am a firm believer that people have a right to choose every aspect of their life without consequences, and to this day, I simply cannot understand why there is a problem with homosexuality.  People act as if it is a disease, or a malfunction, when all these people are doing is simply being who they are.  That is why I wear a bracelet ever day that says Erase the Hate, and it kills me to see that people are acting out against this five year old boy, when all he wanted to do was be Daphne for Halloween...because let’s be honest… if a little girl dressed up as Elvis, would she be getting the same treatment.  Probably not.  Everyone is so quick to jump to conclusions about men being gay, and the fact that there is such a double standard for women kills me; I seriously just can’t wrap my head around the fact that there were mothers seriously complaining about  this kid’s costume.  People! The kid is five and he loves Daphne from Scooby Doo.  I mean, Shaggy is  my favorite, so if I dress up as him for Halloween does that automatically make me gay?  I think the real problem in the scenario is that the mother is supporting her son, and the other parents think that she is encouraging him to be gay. 

I personally loved that Sarah titled her blog “My Son is Gay” only to finish that fragment with or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you. In this case, that phrase represents to me the entire issue at hand here: people are people no matter what their race, color, sexuality, etc. and that it doesn’t change anything about them or how they should be treated.  Plus, I want to reiterate that the child is five. Chances are he probably hasn’t made any type of advance to his sexual identity, and to put a child through this trauma isn’t necessary.  Plus, the horrific part about the situation is that at five years old, the child knew he had something to worry about; that people were going to judge him for his choice. Frankly that disgusts me, especially because when girls dress in boy’s clothing nothing is seen wrong in that.  Like Sarah said, if her daughter dressed up as Batman, no one would have said a thing.  Hello double standard!  I mean, I have played sports since I have been five, and half my wardrobe is boys clothing from Nike to Adidas, to Hanes shirts that I feel are just more comfortable to be in and to work out in.  Does that make me gay?  No?  Then why is it different for boys?

Oh, and as a senior in college, I would like to say that I have seen more straight boys dress up like girls for Halloween than gay guys dressing up like Lady Gaga.  So what about that?

Overall, the suicide rate for individuals that suffer homophobic abuse is sky rocketing, and whether Sara’s boy grows up to accept being straight or gay, he is always going to look back on this and see what both he and his family had to go through just because of what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween.  Also, I do appreciate the pun that Sarah has included on her blog regarding the connation and denotation for the word gay. I like that she calls attention to the fact that it the word also means happy, and that there is no denying that her son is happy in the picture that has traveled the web to millions of viewers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Finished: Writers Workshop of Horror

I will wholeheartedly admit that I loved this book, and that it is probably going to be my horror writing bible that sits next to my bed from now on. Maybe it's still because I'm studying literature/genre or because I'm an undergrad, but I feel that I learned so much from this book about writing in general, even if we take a step back from the horror scene.  I think the most valuable lesson that I learned was how to understand my characters better, and for that I owe Gary A Braunbeck, because I'll be forever more thinking about how much milk my characters put in their cereal in the morning.. or heck whether or not they are a bagel person.  
Something else that I struggle with is dialogue, and this book really helped me concentrate on when enough is enough, and when I need more.  I got a better chance to learn about POV from people that have become masters on it, and I feel that it has really helped me in my writing a lot, this semester alone.  In fact, I found myself reading certain chapters several times and underlining parts that inspired me, and let me know that I'm not the only one that struggles with this stuff. 
I wish I could say that Maberry's chapter helped me with writing fight scenes, and while it did, I'll admit to still sucking and needing practice, but at the same time, I think after reading his chapter and then reading the Wolfman helped to put things into perspective for me. I'll also be checking out Patient Zero and Rot and Ruin for further reading/researching purposes. However, Jeff Strand's chapter on adding humor to your horror was fantastic and was my AHA! moment in my writing, to be honest.  Sometimes I find myself getting so lost in the dark world that I forget to shed some light for my readers so that don't get too stuck and quit coming back.
I loved the interviews at the end of the book, and after reading Clive Barker's I realize why I feel in love with him in the first place.  His entire interview was so inspirational to me, and I love that he is someone that is literally married to his trade.  He does it as expression and he does it for his self just as much as he does it for his readers.  I also think that it is a bold choice that he doesn't want to collaborate with someone because that would take away the fun for him.  I personally respect that a lot.  
These two quotes stuck with me:
  1. "II have no interest in being present, in interveing between you and the work.  My job is to be as invisible as possible.  My job is to say, 'Hey, I wrote this book and I'm on the cover, bye bye!' 
  2. "So you can't please all the people all the time.  All you can do is what pleases you, and hope that it pleases other people.  I love my readers and I respect my readers, but I'm not going to simplify or echo myself, copy myself, just so the sales will be better."
The above is really important to me because I think it speaks about me as a writer as well.  I, like Barker (primarily because he is a HUGE influence to me) use a lot of sexuality in my horror, and it really bothers some people, i.e. my parents, and at times I can still recall my dad asking me to please take something out because it was going to make people look at me differently.  Fact of the matter is... is that that my name is on the cover and that's it.  I'm not the character and its not my voice your hearing.  I'm not going to simplify my story because there is a chance that it might offend someone because then that's when disbelief comes in and no one will longer believe my work because it is uncharacteristic of me.  Once again, why I love Clive Barker and why he is the master of horror in my eyes (well, if we're not including Poe)!
And something that he wrote really helped me out, because like most of you I'm sure, I'm an avid reader.  I have a book on me 24/7 and if I'm not writing my head is def. in a book.  A lot of people criticize me for this, and say that I spend too much time reading when I should be writing, and for a while I thought that they might be right.  Barker, amongst other writers in this book, say that in order to write, you need to read the masters and you need to read your genre.  So if anything, I need to read more in order to understand how to ha, turns out I've been on the right track after all!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reading: Writers Workshop of Horror

Chapter 19: Michael Knost

The Aha! Moment is without a doubt the best feeling in the world.
I have been writing since I have been 8 years old, and I have tons of poorly written stories saved in a trunk at home, just to make me laugh when I get frustrated.  But it wasn't until I hit high school that  I became a writer...of journalism. If I had a bag right now, I would puke in it.

I'm not in any way shape or form dissing journalism, because funny enough, I still write it.  It was just that I was doing it because people said I was good at it, so I figured what the hell.  I wrote because that was what people expected from me, and sure I ranked up a ton of publications from newspapers and magazines, but I hated what I was doing.  And when I say hated... I mean hated. 

So then I came to college and got serious. I piled up so many rejection letters that it seriously broke my spirit... but I printed them all out, and let me tell you...when  I received my first acceptance letter, it was a feeling like no other.  Now don't get me wrong, I hate getting rejected, but I think I've gotten better at it.  Now it's more of a *sigh* and send out to another market feeling, than a *Oh, I clearly suck* feeling. 

Now in this chapter, Knost gives us a variety of examples of people having their AHA! Moments, so now I want to give you mine:

My first semester here at Seton Hill University, my professor, Dr.  Jerz, told me something that I will never forget: Murder your Darlings.    In other words, not every thing you write is gold, so get ready to chop it up.  Dear  lord, I was terrified.  And then I started submitting to horror magazines, haha.  There was one specific poem that I loved, and no matter what it would not get accepted clearly, I was a little flustered.  After numerous rejection letters, I sat down at took another look at it, and simply took the idea, and a couple of my favorite metaphors, and just re-wrote the damn thing.  I slaughtered bad similes and stabbed crappy sentences, and after I murdered got accepted.  Thank you Blood Moon Rising Magazine, and thank you Dr. Jerz.

So now, needless to say, I like to write my poetry, read it out loud, and then let it sit for a little bit before I return to it and give it another go.  Don't get me wrong, it's still very hard to take off the writer's cap and replace it with an editor's one...but it's worth it in the end to see that different hats still look good on you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just Watched: The Thing

The Thing...what an appropriate name for this movie.

Actually, I'm not really sure what to say in this post, because the movie has left me a little bit speechless. From the beginning of the movie, about a million questions were running through my fact, I wrote them all down and tried to find answers for them throughout the movie.  Some were answered...others were not --which isn't always a bad thing, considering leaving certain things open for the imagination can make plots more terrifying a times. 

I liked the overall setting of the story -- to me, snow storms are a perfect environment to breed chaos because you have that constant feeling of isolation, entrapment, loneliness, and my personal favorite, cabin fever.  This appeals to me because of the psychological trials and tribulations that come with it -- in other words, I love to watch the human mind break down. That's probably why I liked The Shining so much.  Seeing Jack Torence go back and forth between the forces that were penetrating his mind was fascinating to me, so in this case, watching the breakdown of the group was what roped me into the movie.

I always thought an invisible creature, and/or attack strategy would be the worst because you would never know what was going to happen at any given time, thus making the concept of of protecting yourself rather difficult.  However, this movie showed me that a monster that could imitate humans to perfection is without a doubt worse.  Everyone ends up being accused, no one can be trusted, and the group is in a constant state of panic.  Imagine shooting your friend on sight, because they make, what you think to be, an different twitch than normal. It's mind-blowing to me, and when McGrady shot Carter because he snuck up behind him... my mouth dropped.  This leads me to a major issue that I had with the movie though: the character's emotional detchment.

To me, it seemed like none of the characters showed any emotions throughout the entire movie...including fear at some points.  For instance, in the beginning when they first encounter the creature, they just respond like it's no big deal.  Something that they see everyday. Also, in the very beginning scene where the guy gets shot in the leg...he just shakes it off, and drinks a beer. It's like it was a feather rubbing against him or something. This continued to some level throughout the rest of the movie, and it really irritated me.  I was glad at the end, when McGrady  went nuts and threatened to blow the place up because it finally showed some hint of reality to me.

Now for some of the questions that are still left unanswered to me:
Plus, some of the overall problems with the movie:
  1. Where did Blair get all of these stats and information from?  It just seemed like he figured everything out to easily to me.  Also, in regards to the computers, why do they always have a female voice? Same thing happens in Resident Evil.  Sexist?
  2. Lets talk about how this is the weirdest physical compilation of a monster I have ever seen. What was this thing in its original form?  It looked like a hybrid from every monster even invented. and I hated it. It was cool when it would imitate people and then take on that level of fear, but the entire essence of it before it did so was really strange to me. Also, the creature grew entirely too fast in the scene with the dogs.  It just kept sprouting tendrils, and legs, and then ejected this flower like head from its torso...I don't know, it just seemed like bad monster making to me.
  3. But while we are on the topic of the dogs, let's have a serious conversation.  I firmly believe that it is a serious mistake to kill/torture dogs in the horror genre, because it really upsets and turns a lot of people off from your book/poem/script etc.  No matter what movie I have watched, I have always been really tempted to quit watching it if a dog was brutalized.  Secret Window really rubbed me the wrong way, when the dog was killed via a screwdriver to the head.  I just don't think its a wise move for horror writers because it's going to kill a big chunk of your audience
Overall, I think that I probably won't be watching this movie over again, because it had too many cliches and issues for me.  I feel like the creature was too easily killed...the fire method just didn't work for me here folks.  Then the predictability factor really bothered me..for instance, how one knew as soon as you were left alone with it that it was going to attack you....or that a body would move when the person had their back turned.  Also, a huge snow storm just happened to blow on through at the exact moment things started getting out of control.  Basically, it goes back to what I feel like I have  been saying a lot this semester: If you're going to create a monster, and I'm going to believe that it is actually real...keep convincing me throughout the story that its real.  I don't want to have to put the book down/ turn the movie off because it's predictable, or because the monster has powers and serious growth spurts that it shouldn't have.

I will say this though...while the blood looked horrifically fake, I LOVED the opening scene where they found the guy with his throat slit, and the dripping blood had turned into icicles. Very artistic!

The Annoyances of Writing Erotica

This semester I have been dabbling in writing erotica... or what I like to call Horrotica. My works have been primarily grotesque with sexual elements and frankly, I have developed a real passion for combining the two genres together. To me, it's like throwing the vulnerable against a blood splattered window- it's just makes everything more uncomfortable, which I'm always a fan of.  However, I've gotten a lot of mixed reviews about my writings, and to me, as a writer, I can't help but to laugh at what some of the people are saying to me.

For instance, I have recently been published on Horror, Sleaze, and Trash and this has caused quite an uproar to the people in my life.  The blog operates on explicit language and adult material, but I love that they aren't afraid to publish poetry and fiction that isn't your normal heterosexual plots over and over again. For example, I have three poems on there titled "Loving a Prostitute," "His First Time," and "Think of Me."  The first one is about a woman who falls in love with a female prostitute only to find herself played, and now she ends up in the trade herself having sex with countless male partners that she hates, only to feel some connection to the woman that she fell for.  So naturally, because I wrote about a homosexual relationship, everyone is automatically assuming that I'm either hiding gay tendencies or am bi-sexual.  Seriously?  While I have no problem at all with the idea of being homosexual (in fact, some of my best friends are gay), I'm personally not, and I have been in a 6.5 year relationship with my boyfriend, Zachery who is very much male all the way.   So, no... just because I wrote about two women falling in does not mean that I have a girlfriend on the side folks.

"His First Time" was an interesting write for me, because I was dabbling in point of view, and wrote it through the voice of the boy's mother who was instructing him on how to rape his first victim, all while violently brutalizing her.  Yeah, that's some pretty intense stuff...but once again, I would like to reiterate, that hello, I'm a horror writer.  My stuff isn't going to be all sunshine and rainbows folks...especially because I like to write about stuff that a lot of people can't even talk about.  So if it bothers you, maybe horrotica isn't your genre, although I can't see why, haha.  I guess my only advice to my family and friends is just imagine it's not me writing it if the sexual and violent material bothers you.  In this case, you might just have to eliminate my voice from the pieces. 

"Think of Me" was just a fun piece to write because I like to include strong female characters in my pieces, more often than not. Growing up as a horror addict, the fact that females were always victimized, or  in a sexual stereotype really pissed me off. So when I write, guess who is getting butchered, raped, or tortured.  That's right folks. It's ladies night in my world, and they are coming at you with a vengeance. This poem particularly talks about a women scorned by her cheating boyfriend and her choices to deal with the situation -- she just so happens to choose to deal with a lot of sex, and a lot of death.  Nothing wrong with that right? Well apparently, some people look at me now and only label me as that goth chick the SandM, or the horror girl-- my response...hell what do I care?  It pumps up my reputation for being a horror writer, and will probably make people curious about my writing.  So keep talking me up :)

Then there is this wonderful dilemma:
People keep asking me why I would associate myself with a website that promotes porn, and erotic photography and my answer is, and shall remain, "If I'm not ashamed of it, why are you?"

Now I am a HUGE feminist and while the idea of porn really bothers me, I am also fascinated by the comfort levels of the people within them.  If you're ok with your body, then why should anyone else care or matter to you if you're doing what you love, because let's face it people...SEX is out there. Everyone does it.  Everyone reads it, and probably 90% of the population watches it on their computer.  Why? Because its pleasureful.  That simple.  And while pleasure can be sinful...hmmmm you think that's why horror writers use it?  BINGO!

I'm personally writing straight erotica now in order to do scene studies for the novel I'm writing, and will hopefully be sending off to editors in 2014 (because I'm applying to the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University). It fuses the world of Horror and Erotica together as a woman indulges in a secret fetish. Now I'm only going to give you the elevator pitch because I'm still ironing out some details....but what I want to remind everyone is simply that I'm a creator.  I'm an artist of fiction.  This stuff all comes out of my dark, creepy imagination, and that's it. I'm not running around like some maniac doing all of this masochistic stuff and playing murder mystery on the side.  I live to scare people and please them at the same time with my writing, and  it's just what I do, and if it bothers you, I'm sorry, but that's not going to stop me from doing what I love. But honestly, who doesn't like to read stories of people keeping their dead lover in their closet in case they get bored?  Or crime victims speaking out while a chalk outline is drawn around them?

Wait.. not everyone likes reading about necrophilia?? Hmm...clearly, they need to live a little more!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reading: Writers Workshop of Horror

Chapter 16- Brian Keen
Chapter 17-Deborah LeBlanc

Keen's chapter in this book made me laugh because I completely understand what he is talking about on a personal level.  I have wanted to be a writer since I was 8 years old, but I had a really nasty habiti (and still suffer from it a little) of starting projects and not finishing them.  Plus, my other problem was I'm a serious book worm, so part of me always wanted to read rather than write.  Viscious cycle...I know.

But since I've been in college, and am now a very, happy senior, I can honestly say that I have developed positive writings habits and have made time to write, almost every day (if not a least 5 days a week).  Poetry has been my forte for a long time, and after taking Publications Workshop at SHU, I have been submitting work out constantly over the past 9 months.  In fact, I counted my submission list yesterday and totalled 154 submissions! Plus, getting those acceptance letters every now and then really gives me confidence, haha.
But what I'm trying to get at, is that I have noticed at SUBSTANTIAL change in my writing just over this short time period because I have been writing everyday, and surprise, surprise....I'm not getting writer's block as much as I used too. 

Thanks to some wonderful editors and the insight of my professors, I have successfully finished two short stories this semester, and have been published numerous times, all while holding down 17 credits.  Ironically though, I would much rather be writing now then heading to my classes....I guess that means I finally got the drive... :)
LeBlanc's chapter also struck some familiarities with me, because people ask me if I use them in my writings all the time.  I guess now I'll divulge a little secret.  There is one person that I constantly use in my pieces...but it might not always been in a physical sense.  Happy digging though folks, because that's all you're getting out of me.  However, my muse is a variety of people, and I write based on my dreams more often than not, so I keep a dream journal and write notes/make sketches whenever I wake up to use as my references. I like to let my subconscious talk to me rather than try to invent something out of the blue.

Also, like her, I have a little folder of clippings and things that made me laugh, or cry, or scream (haha) and I use them when I get stuck, or can't think of where to go next. I use a lot of artwork to give me an extra boost, and since I'm also an art history major, I read a lot of biographys and manifestos...and sometimes by reading different theories or criticisms, I get new ideas that way.  I do really like her idea with developing a first and last name folder -- because a lot of the time, I feel like the name that I have assigned to a certain character just isn't in that sense, I think Deborah is on to something.  I'll have to give it a try!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reading: Writers Workshop of Horror

Chapter 15: Joe R. Lansdale

This chapter really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I hadn't really thought about before.  For instance, my reading habits: the authors I read, the genres I pick, my writing style, etc. I'm without a doubt dedicated to Horror with all of my heart, so when it comes time for me to watch or read something, it's normally going to involve some type of dark element, whether literal or psychological.  I've been reading the classics in Monster Fiction this semester, and have been studying demented settings and psychos for the past year.  However, I also have a guilty pleasure of science-fiction and fantasy, but that's more of a visual stimulation rather than a critical reading one.  Yet despite my habits, Lansdale makes a great point: "Reading and writing in the same genre is all right, but sometimes, if you're too familiar with the ropes and approaches to a certain type of fiction, your brain not only becomes comfortable, it becomes bored.  And so does the reader (139)."

Reading that was equivalent to the light bulb turning on above my head. At times horror does bother me, because I'm getting rather good at predicting certain happenings....especially in movies.  Books may have similar plot lines, but movies are really starting to irritate me. So Lansdale's solution is to get outside of the genre.  And even to someone who is a horror addict, that's kind of scary.

I do have interests in a lot of other genres, and have a few authors that I will read no matter what the book is about, as long as their name is attached to it.  For instance, I adore Nicholas Sparks, and have read every book that he has ever written (except for his newest one, because of school work), and James Patterson owns my heart...and I refuse to read everything that he was written because I never want to finish his books, haha.  I have almost all of them, and have read a TON of them...but I only read him sparingly because I just can't handle the possibility of there not being a Patterson book to read at my will.  So right there, we have Romance and Crime...and ironically, I'm also very intrigued in young adult fiction.  Ellen Hopkin's book have changed my life based on how they are written, their honesty and pain...I have read and re-read all of her books because of the differing effect that they have on me each and every time I read them.   But those are just some examples in genres...I also have been developing a liking for Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors, The Wolf at the Table, etc).  So there is that biographical element that I'm interested in too.  I love a true story, especially one that deals with a type of emotional climb...

So yes, while I'm married to Horror, I do have other affairs outside of the genre.  And truth be told, I think this is why I decided to major in English Literature rather than Creative Writing -- I wanted to read the masters, and learn the techniques rather than surrounding myself in genre fiction.  I think one needs to learn where everything came from in order to understand contemporary literature. 

That's why I think Lansdale said it best when he talked about people picking up a book just because it has your name on it.  I don't want to be labeled and confined to only writing one type of story.  I want to cross breed genres such as paranormal romance, or sci-fi and crime.  I want to be able to create worlds, and then break them down only to reconstruct them again.  I want people to look on the shelves and say.. "There is a Wytovich book.." and not even look at the summary, but buy it anyways.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just Read: The Wolfman

I’ll admit that I saw the movie on opening night, and I was really impressed with it because I like how they incorporated the gothic elements into the setting and tone of the film.  Plus, I thought that they did a great job with keeping the Wolfman to its original form (back in the Bela Lugosi days), and the fact that the lighting was really dreary and dark throughout the entire film really added to the old school feeling  of horror to me. Plus, for those of you that don’t know me, I’m in love with Anthony Hopkins so that says enough.  But when it all comes down to it I realized three very important things when I read the novelization of the movie: (1) Werewolves are starting to take the number one spot in my favorite monster categories, (2) Lawrence Talbot is one of my favorite characters that we have encountered thus far in the semester, and (3) the novelization is always better than the movie.

Jonathan Maberry won me over in the prologue alone with his description of the Goddess of the Hunt.  It was so poetic and visual, that I actually went back and re-read it several times throughout the novel.  To further that note, Maberry’s descriptions of the moon throughout the entire novel were amazing.  I loved how he personified the moon, gave it female characteristics, and then heavily focused on the power that we had over her children.  His writing style alone inspired me a lot this week, and I ended up churning out some great poetry because of his technique.

Now I’m sure the most heated argument is going to be: Who exactly is the monster in this book?  And are you a monster even if you do not want to be one?  I personally not know where I would place myself in these arguments because Lawrence Talbot could fall into several areas depending on how you answer it.  Now there is no doubt that his father is without a doubt the true monster of the story, seeing that he locked Lawrence out of safety (causing him to willfully kill), slaughtered Lawrence’s mother and brother, and is responsible for the deaths of several others.

(My only question is whether or not it was Lawrence’s father that was responsible for the bite or not?)

But when it comes down to it, Lawrence doesn’t end up taking his life in order to prevent the killings of other innocent people.  Sure he has an agenda, but does that still make him a monster because he didn’t technically stop himself from it?  If I had to pick a side, I would probably agree with Gwen and say that this was all out of Lawrence’s control, and that he wasn’t truly a monster – it was what was happening inside him, and when the change took over, he didn’t know what he was doing.  Plus, the strongest argument for this would be the scene in the asylum when he begging the doctors to kill him or at least lock him up; at least he tried to protect others…they just chose not to listen.

However, I can’t write this blog and not mention Lawrence’s and Gwen’s relationship with one another.  Talk about your steamy romance huh?  In the movie, their lust for each other didn’t seem so, ah… intense?  But wow, with the book… sheesh. I’m surprised Gwen was even able to pull herself away from Lawrence when the Inspector A. was knocking at the Apothecary’s door! It had to be painfully obvious that she was getting in on with someone… no wonder they thought Lawrence was in there!  But what really confuses me is their love for each other in the first place.  I mean Ben had just died, and Gwen is already moving on to the next Talbot brother….I would think she would need some time to mourn, but I’ve heard that sometimes grieving turns the sex drive on…so maybe this was some sick way of being closer to Ben by going through Lawrence….but even then, at the end it seemed like she really did have feelings for him, so I’m not sure where I stand in that argument either.

I also liked that they focused a great deal on the exotic other in the movie/book with the ostracized American coming back to Blackmoor, and especially the characterizations of the gypsies. I think that by including gypsy myth and lore, it really allowed the movie/book to open up to the idea of the occult and mysticism on an entire different level rather than just solely focusing on the story of the Werewolf.  What I particularly liked about this, was the notion of secrecy that they held throughout the entire piece.  They knew what was going on, but they protected themselves by keeping it too themselves and away from those that treated them badly…kind of like a sense of karma.


One more point… I have to admit that I have a weird interest in abnormal psychology, and I really thought it was neat how they described the different treatments that the doctors put Lawrence through as a way to cure him of his delusions.  The water treatment has always seemed especially inhumane to me, but when they did the shock treatment in the movie….I def. got chills.  There is just something about that form of therapy that literally puts Goosebumps all over me (i.e. have you ever seen the movie Changeling?? Ahhh).

Overall, I was very impressed with the book, and I’m probably going to re-watch the movie tonight! I’m really glad that I got to pick up something by Maberry that was assigned for class, so I could read him without feeling guilty, haha! His style was def. a huge inspiration to be as a writer, and because of him…every time that I look at the moon, I’m going to be wondering what the Goddess is thinking as she looks down over me.