Monthly Archives: May 2015

The scariest movie I’ve ever seen…

26 May, L A.S. (2015)

How The Grudge super duper scared the bejeebus out of me as a kid.

Buffy's Japanese Vacation! (Just kidding. That'd be cool though.)

Buffy’s Japanese Vacation! (Just kidding. That’d be cool though.)

As a big (buff) Horror buff, sometimes I’m talking with people about what movies, books, or games are the scariest. I have a good friends for this sort of discussion, so the conversation rarely turns into an angry argument. We get a heated, we disagree strongly sometimes, but we can also give good reasons and examples as to why something is scary. I especially love when someone brings up an obscure and/or foreign film that I haven’t seen yet, and then I get to track it down and watch it later.

But, fear is a highly subjective thing. What causes someone else’s pants to fly across the room (and not in the horny sense) as they scream like a big dumb scared babby, may make someone else yawn and shrug and take a nap. This is pretty dark to think about, but, everyone grows up with different traumas and scary events in their life. Some people get it much worse than others. There are much scarier human monsters in the world than any werewolf or vampire, and they really do hurt people…I think much of why we indulge in Horror fiction is to distract ourselves from the things that really scare us. But that’s a bit of a tangent: the point is, we all have different phobias and deeply ingrained fears because we all have different experiences in our lives.

Now, I’m not going to tell the world all my deepest darkest fears, but I’ll share with you the one movie that scared me the most. It is called The Grudge, and it is an American remake of a Japanese film called Ju-On. Below is the trailer for the American movie:

I saw it when I was twelve, with my dad, at night after we’d just watched The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Which I liked at the time, not sure if I would now. I do love the book!) My dad had borrowed the DVD from a friend. I remembered seeing the trailer in theatres, and seeing the DVDs at Blockbuster, and thinking it looked super creepy…

I was not prepared for how scared I would actually get. There’s just something about those Japanese ghosts with the white dresses, long black hair, and zombie-like movement (especially crawling!) that is really effective to me. You can see it in The Ring, too, of course.

I think there’s something of the spider in the way that Kayako (the ghost woman in The Grudge) crawls down the stairs. I didn’t find her cat son, Toshio, nearly as scary as her, by the way. But, that croaking sound Kayako makes, and the long hair that keeps showing up all over the place, the way she has of showing up anywhere unexpectedly, the high contrast between her white dress and black hair: it just all works, really really well, at scaring me.

I can’t completely explain why this type of ghost is so particularly scary to me, but, it is. Like I said, fear is subjective and not entirely rationally. The Grudge effectively sets up the scares, has good actors playing the ghosts, and really builds tension in each scene. It gave me nightmares and I thought of it frequently for about a year after I saw it. A movie’s never scared me that much since.

I’ve seen the movie since I was twelve, and it wasn’t nearly as effective on me. There are other movies I would consider scarier now. Still, it’s good,  I recommend you check it out if you haven’t yet! I actually don’t like the original Japanese one as much, as an aside: Japanese Horror movies seem to not usually make a lot of sense, in that they don’t have strong plots and causal links. At least the few Japanese Horror films I’ve seen. But, they do have creepy creatures and environments; really bizarre stuff you may not see in American Horror.

Anyway, that’s all. That movie scared me a whole bunch. What movies scared y’all a whole bunch?

-G.R. Wilson

Book recommendation: “Dark Visions: The Art of Corvis Nocturnum”

25 May, L A.S. (2015)

Book recommendation: Dark Visions: The Art of Corvis Nocturnum

DARK-VISIONS-FINAL-COVER-full-cover-e1417491949790

Last week, I finished reading Corvis Nocturnum‘s art volume, Dark Visions. I enjoyed it thoroughly, am happy to have it in my collection, and I want to recommend it to my readers.

You may recognize the name Corvis Nocturnum as the pen name of E.R. Vernor, who runs the Dark Moon Press publishing company which is producing my upcoming novel. In addition to his pursuits in writing, publishing, and television, Mr. Vernor also paints many gothic, pagan, and fantasy works of art. You can view some of his paintings online at the gallery section of his website.

I think my first experience with this broad type of art was with the card art of the Magic: The Gathering trading card game, which frequently depicted dark and gothic creatures, landscapes, warriors, and sorcerers. My appreciation for that type of art, both in paintings and in other media such as films, has grown over the years, and when I got a taste of Mr. Vernor’s art through Facebook, I knew I wanted to own the collection of images contained in this book.

The art is evocative, beautiful, and unflinching in its portrayal of dark and taboo topics. In addition to the art itself, this book contains a great deal of commentary from the artist, on individual pieces and on his overall development as a painter. I’m proud to have this book in my growing collection of artwork.

Sincerely,

-G.R. Wilson

Some thoughts on “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 4- Technology”

23 May, L A.S. (2015)

Technology! Let’s talk about this episode now!

This is the fourth and most recent Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, in which our three heroes learn about technology. I’ve been doing posts this week about the first three episodes and my thoughts on them, check those out if you haven’t yet, staring about episode 1.

Caught up? Good. Let’s get onto this one then. Spoilers follow, of course. Watch the video first.

So, I think it’s obvious that this one has about the same level of “messaging” as episode 3 (“Love). Right off, we can see the three main characters get distracted from their current task of figuring out what the biggest thing in the world is, to giving away all their information to a computer. Their distraction runs deeper from there as they begin to indulge infinitely in digital style, digital dancing, and tiny little flashes of information contained in graphs. Their ability to focus on and complete their current task has been hopelessly compromised by the computer.

And what is this sentient computer like? He is obnoxious, jumping in with noises and flashy but meaningless sights uninvited. He makes big promises of his intelligence, but in fact only performs operations that require mathematical computing power, but not so much actual thoughtful reasoning. He, like a social network website, demands more and more information from his “users” (who quickly become his slaves) before he will give them a shred of usefulness. He is seductive, drawing his “users” in with flashy data and series of slightly-varying pictures.

I take this episode to be a warning against the intelligence- and work-corrupting effects of over-reliance on technology. Your computer is a tool, use it to achieve your goals. Do not let it control you, the person who belongs to the same species that created that computer and all its predecessors. Focus, do not let yourself be distracted by what is unimportant but flashy. Don’t forget who is in charge, because if you do forget, before long it sure as hell won’t be you!

That’s my interpretation, anyway. 🙂

Also, the CGI in this video is great, the creators seriously keep outdoing themselves! I love the computer puppet too, the way his hand is a cursor (in the real world somehow; that’s a little creepy) and how he has that auto-tuney voice, and so many things on his monitor. The production values really do keep climbing, And that music, so catchy.  I can’t wait for episode 5.

-G.R. Wilson

Wow, so computer, very clever.

Wow, so computer, very clever.

Officially announcing my first novel, “The Devil and the Doctor”, published by Dark Moon Press!

22 May, L A.S. (2015)

My first book officially has a publisher!

10014359_621264604617267_910275552892186243_o

I’ve been holding this announcement close to the chest until the ink was on the contract, but today I’m ready to let the world know:

My first novel, titled The Devil and the Doctor: Book One of the Malcolm Leeds Chronicles is a supernatural thriller to be published by E.R. Vernor’s Dark Moon Press publishing company. I’ve purchased and enjoyed multiple books by this publisher, (you’ll see reviews on here soon,) and have met Mr. Vernor personally. He is a gentleman, a scholar, and a talented artist.

Cover art will be ready for the public within a couple months. For now, I’ll share with you the premise of my novel:

Malcolm Leeds appears to be a normal enough young man, working as an animal relocator and exterminator in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, indulging in all that his isolated life has to offer. Few people know that he is in fact the Jersey Devil of American folklore, and fewer, himself included, know his true origins or full abilities. One night, Malcom’s life is suddenly interrupted by the brutal kidnapping of his friend’s children by a mysterious cult that idolizes a mad doctor named Benedict Holt. Now, Malcolm must track down the cult, uncover and stop their plans, and save the abducted children. He will face psychotic foes, deadly magic, and his own inner-demons on his quest for justice and knowledge, in that foul place called Newbrooke...

Since I’ve only ever written short stories compiled into anthologies, writing a novel has been a big but rewarding challenge for me. It’s wonderful to get to write something long enough to allow for greater character arcs, more twists and turns, and longer action sequences and descriptions of unspeakable horror. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing this novel, and I hope you all have fun reading it. The Devil and the Doctor will be available in paperback and for Kindle this September, and more Malcolm Leeds books, featuring other supernatural foes, will be released in future years.

Sincerely,

-G.R. Wilson

On the topic of “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 3- Love”

21 May, L A.S. (2015)

Let’s talk about Love!

In my two previous posts, I talked about the first two episodes of the excellent Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared web series. If you haven’t watched parts 1 and 2 yet, do so now. Believe it or not, the strangeness and hilarity of the videos builds with each one, and it’s fun to see how they progress. Then watch part 3 above before reading more.

I think that part 3 has a stronger message than parts 1 or 2. As the title says, this one is about the concept of love…but is it really just about love?

I do believe in both familial and romantic love, and think love shared with other worthy people can be a wonderful thing. But the butterfly and his cult followers in this video are really talking about oft-repeated perversions of love.

These perversions are:

  1. Love indiscriminately spread to the point of meaninglessness. (“Love all these people you’ve only just met, they all love you and each other, no really!”)
  2. Love used in a meaningless, mechanical, pseudo-romantic sense. (“Save yourself for your special one, who you have to find and marry or you’ll be lonely forever, and you have to be together forever and it will work out and your love will grow infinitely!”)
  3. Love used as a tool for religious brainwashing. (“We love you, we really do, so take that warm fuzzy feeling, you lonely person, and now feel it for our God and faith-based belief system! Or else!”)

This episode definitely has more bite to it. It more specifically references actual things that happen and are said in modern society. It follows a little bit of a different format from the first two (the red guy and the bird guy get left out of most of the fun) and the special effects and quality and quantity of puppetry are upped yet again. The Malcolm, King of Love at the end is especially impressive! And then the creators simply burnt it, damn! That’s dedication to art right there.

Do you have any thoughts on episode 3 that I missed? Do you think I’m wrong? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

-G.R. Wilson

3037984-inline-p-1-dont-hug-me-3

 

My thoughts on “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 2- Time”

20 May, L A.S. (2015)

My thoughts on Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 2- TIME

In my previous post, I talked about the series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, and its first video, addressing the topic of creativity. In this post, I’m going to discuss the sequel, which deals with the topic of time. Spoilers follow, so don’t read on if you haven’t seen the video yet. (And I highly recommend you watch it!)

Right off the bat, you can see higher production quality with this one. The attention to detail is still there from the first video, and its dialed up even higher in this one: the sets, costumes, puppets, and music are all almost frightfully detailed, elaborate, and perfected to near Sesame Street levels!

I think that “Time” has a much more poignant message than “Creativity.” The disturbing ending, with everyone rapidly aging and then rotting, and the clock’s final line that “eventually everyone runs out of time!” sends a strong signal of “Quit wasting time dicking around on the computer and television! Use your time wisely, do something!” I think this message is pretty clear in the contrast with the three friends’ initial insistence on wanting to watch TV, and the clock wanting to take them on a journey, and then the final result of their time running out.

One of my favorite moments is the part with all the fish everywhere, it just makes me chuckle every time I see it. Also when the clock flips out because people questioned what time actually is.

That part specifically (the clock getting mad and making everyone’s ears bleed for questioning him) leads me to be sympathetic to someone else’s potential interpretation of the video, that it’s about how weird and abstract of a concept time really is, and how most people don’t stop to question what it actually is and how it works. Maybe the “remember you will die, so make the most of your time” and “WTF is time anyway?” interpretations aren’t mutually exclusive either.

Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be talking about the third video, “Love.”

Thanks for reading,

-G.R. Wilson

time2-590x330

 

Podcast recommendation: 9sense

19 May, L A.S. (2015)

“I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey…”

9sense-logo

I want to share with you one of my favorite podcasts, one I listen to regularly. It is called 9sense, and it is freakin’ awesome.

9sense is a podcast whose mission is “Defining the Greater Satanic Conversation.” What exactly does that mean? Well, fortunately, a recent episode from earlier this month gives a detailed explanation of that, in the words of none other than the highly entertaining Reverend Adam Campbell himself. Mr. Campbell is the host and creator of 9sense, (since 2011,) and a Reverend in the Church of Satan.

If you can’t listen to the episode yet, (and I do highly recommend you listen to it and other episodes) I’ll give my quick summary of the podcast’s purpose, which requires a bit of preface:

Satanism is an atheistic religion which extols the values of individualism, indulgence, and personal responsibility. It (and its representative body, the Church of Satan) was founded by a unique individual named Anton Szandor LaVey in 1966, and has grown tremendously over the past fifty years. The Church is a highly meritocratic organization, and adherents are held to high standards of personal conduct and achievement. Please look at the Church of Satan website (especially the FAQ section) and read The Satanic Bible if you want to learn more about this unique and fascinating religion.

Unfortunately, many individuals (and I use that term loosely!) after LaVey have tried to ride on his coat-tails and gain their fifteen minutes of fame and power by calling themselves “satanists”, with or without some sort of hyphen, and then doing what can best be described as “stupid shit.” These people often worship a literal imaginary creature they call Satan, commit crimes, perform stupid disruptive stunts in public, distribute books to school-children, (the Church of Satan is strongly against indoctrination of children,) and make big claims about their influence and abilities without showing anything to back up their words.

These pseudo-satanic groups frequently garner a lot of media attention. This brings about a serious risk of the general public, including the truly respectable but non-Satanist members of it, misunderstanding what Satanism and Satanists are actually about! The religion is diluted by such misuse of the term. So, 9sense is here to show to the world what real Satanists are actually doing and talking about, and how Satanism can be applied to contemporary topics.

When you listen to 9sense, you are getting in-depth discussions of various aspects of Satanism itself, (Lesser Magic, Greater Magic, the Rules of the Earth, etc,) and also discussions on current news, politics, art, music, parenting, movies, sex, and many other things, through a Satanic lens. There are a variety of segments by different contributors that rotate through the episodes of each month, as well as holiday specials and special guests from time to time. If you’d like to learn more about the other excellent people who contribute to 9sense, check out the “Segments” tab on the 9sense website.

In closing, this show is funny, sharp, thoughtful, heartfelt, and truly Satanic. I look forward to the new episodes every week, and it warms my diabolical heart to know that this Greater Satanic Conversation is being had the right way by the right people. Whether you’re a Satanist or not, I recommend checking 9sense out!

Best regards,

-G.R. Wilson

My interpretation of “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared”

19 May, L A.S. (2015)

Let’s talk about Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared

Many people have seen the popular Youtube series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, produced by the creatively genius Brits called Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling. But, many people have not seen the fun, disturbing, bizareness that is these videos. I like these videos a lot. So I want to talk about them.

They take the form of a Sesame Street-esque kids’ show complete with costumes, puppets, sill songs, and…education…sort of. Each video (there are four so far) teaches the audience about a different topic. The topics covered so far are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Time
  3. Love
  4. Technology

The stories follow three friends whose regular hanging-out sessions are interrupted by suddenly animate and sentient objects and butterflies who start to sing songs about the topic of the video. These songs each become increasingly dark and disturbing, in fun and different ways.

The production quality is high and gets higher with each successive video, the voices and writing and music are all wonderful!

Part of why these videos hold people’s interest so much is because of the depth of symbolism in them. In a series of blog posts, I’m going to share what I think the meaning of each video is. I think in terms of what’s so funny/scary/awesome about them, that speaks for itself.

So, part 1, about creativity, has the three friends being sung at by an animate and talking notebook who wants to teach them what is and what is not creative. My interpretation of the video is that kids often are taught “creativity” in a way that puts them in something of a straightjacket and doesn’t allow much wiggle room for actual free expression. You can be creative, but not too different, not too creative. You have to be creative the right way, and not the wrong way.

It’s a pretty simple message, (at least my interpretation of the message) and I think the meanings of the later videos get a bit more complex over time. Also, there’s no need to overthink any of them: they are also just entertaining and hilarious.

I hope I’ve introduced a few people to these delightful videos through this blog post. I look forward to posting about the other three soon!

Best,

-G.R. Wilson

Movie Review: “The Babadook”

18 May, L A.S. (2015)

What does G.R. Wilson think of The Babadook?

babadook

Saturday night, I got to see a movie I’d anticipated seeing for a long time: The Babadook, an Australian, indie Horror film directed by Jennifer Kent. I got to watch this intriguing film with a close friend on a dark and spooky evening, and I have a lot to say about it. Read on for my opinions on this interesting film!

What’s it about?

Before I dig into my judgement, I want to give a basic summary of what the movie is about, and what it’s “like,” in tone and feel. The story follows a single mother and her seven year old son, as they struggle through a daily life which is complicated by the mother’s continuing grief over her husband’s untimely demise, and the son’s increasingly paranoid and delusional (maybe not as delusional as his mother thinks!) behavior regarding an unnamed monster which he believes will attack at any moment. The mother does love her son and seeks to provide the best possible life for him, but…his disturbing behavior, his getting into trouble at school, (ranting about monsters, bringing homemade weapons to school to defend against said monsters,) and his blurting out of facts concerning his father’s death, all place a lot of strain on that love. A lot of strain.

The plot begins when the boy, who, like many nights, is scared about the monster, finds a mysterious pop-up book in his room, titled Mister Babadook, and asks his mom to read it to him. The book, through increasingly frightening pages, describes a boogeyman named the Babadook, whose presence will be made known by three knocks on the door, and a “Ba-ba-BA DOOK DOOK DOOK!” From then on, the kid gets worse, the mom gets worse, as the monster approaches and begins to stalk and torment them.

The Horror is psychological: we rarely see the Babadook, and the focus is more on the anxiety and tension of a woman trapped by her gnawing grief and its personified reminders, which alienate her from her remaining family and friends. The “thing” (her son) which holds the greatest connection to her husband, is also her greatest sense of torment, at least until the Babadook arrives…

The film is frequently surreal in style. There are multiple neat nightmare shots of the mom falling onto her bed, and another clever surreal sequence which I’d rather not spoil. Everything is bleak, there is a strong feeling of isolation and being trapped throughout the film.

Now what did I think of all this?

You might be surprised to hear this, but, I didn’t actually like this movie very much. It’s not BAD, but, it’s not great, either. If you want to see a good and recent indie Horror film about a stalking monster that personifies psychological problems, see It Follows. (Which, by the way, is getting its DVD/Blu-Ray release next month! I pre-ordered mine.)

The acting is good, the cinematography has its good surreal moments and is never really lame, the music is…fine, not great, it gets the job done. I was never going “AW YEAH AWESOME!!” about the music like with It Follows. The areas where the film truly falls apart are in the plot, and the monster itself.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the plot really falls apart in the second half of the third act. There were too many small climaxes that just kept going and going, and the epilogue was just plain odd, not in a good way. The symbolism of it, as I interpret it, was different than what I expected considering what I thought the film was going for. It just didn’t make a lot of sense in the context of the rest of the movie and what the Babadook is like, as we see it. Speaking of poor old Mister Babadook, he’s not all that scary, I’m sorry to say, once we finally see him. The pop-up book early on gave me chills and got me excited and “fun-scared,” but then the actual monster in the flesh…he just felt too generic to me. I understand of course that Horror, like any genre, is going to recycle ideas from previous stories, but there wasn’t enough of an original spin on the boogeyman-type-creature here to hold my interest and have me saying “OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT!” when it appeared. Horror is a very subjective thing of course, so other people might find the Babadook to be much more effective. I know people have been puzzled by my terror at Asian women in white dresses with long black hair covering their faces.

But the subjectiveness of Horror doesn’t change the fact that the Babadook, in my opinion, didn’t have anything to add to the boogeyman-myth, and that the plot towards the end just falls apart and grows sadly tiresome.

This movie has a lot of effort put into it. And, in some ways, it does prove effective. I liked the acting, some of the camerawork was strong when it got surreal, and the pop-up book as a “haunted item” was creepy as hell. It’s not bad, but it sure as heck ain’t great. As the first Australian Horror film I’ve seen, it was not a good first impression. I wanted to like it more than I did, which is never a good feeling.

Ba-ba-ba DOOK DOOK DOOK!

-G.R. Wilson

Book recommendation: “Night’s Road” by M.R. Stover

11 May, L A.S. (2015)

Book Recommendation: “Night’s Road” by M.R. Stover

night's road

I recently had the pleasure of finishing chapter 2 of M.R. Stover’s Thirteen Knights of Death series. Here’s my Amazon review:

I also read and reviewed Stover’s excellent first chapter in this series. (“Vineyard.”) That one was great, but I think I like this one slightly more. It’s fantasy with strong horror elements. It reminds me of Blizzard’s Diablo series, and also of the Conan the Barbarian franchise, without being simply derivative of either. A nice touch is that each chapter follows a different bad-ass character. The graphic violent and sexual content is well-written, the characters have a lot of life, and I look forward to seeing how the story continues in chapter 3!

Fun stuff, can’t wait to read more. I really want to see Stover’s work in graphic novel form in the future!!

-G.R. Wilson