Short Takes on Things I’ve Been Reading/Watching

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at the devil's door movie posterThere are a decent number of things I’ve read and seen recently that I haven’t had time or deep enough thoughts about to devote full blog posts to, but I did want to call them out.

  • The Silence of the Lambs, by Yvonne Tasker – A slim volume from the BFI Film Classics series, this time focusing on The Silence of the Lambs, a truly great movie. This book didn’t do a tremendous amount for me. I enjoyed it well enough, but I didn’t feel that I got a huge amount of new insight from it.
  • Alien, by Roger Luckhurst – Another BFI Film Classics book. I enjoyed the dig into the pre-production and production of the film, as well as Luckhurst’s reading of the transgressive sexual symbolism in the film.
  • Byzantium – Neil Jordan’s vampire film of a few years ago has some moments of real horror, some moments of real beauty (I love the way Jordan uses color here, especially in the blood running like water on the island). Worth seeing if you like alternative takes on vampires.
  • The Shining, by Roger Luckhurst – Another solid BFI Film Classics entry from Luckhurst. Writing about The Shining must be maddening (though probably also rewarding). There are so many levels, so many symbols, so much craft to examine. Feels like a virtually bottomless text, with all the pleasures and burdens that entails.
  • At the Devil’s Door – Nicholas McCarthy’s follow up to his hard-indie sleeper The Pact. This is a challenging one—jumping between characters, time periods, locations without a lot of guidance—but the payoff is worth it.  If I ever write something as creepy as the “go to the crossroads and say your name/why?/so he knows it when he calls to you” sequence or the “he wants to be all of someone” scene, I’ll be thrilled.
  • Howard Nostrand’s Nightmares – Another installment in Craig Yoe’s Chilling Achives of Horror Comics, this time focusing on the pre-code-era work of artist Howard Nostrand. I’d read some of these before, some were new. Nostrand is interesting enough, but only one of his stories really stuck with me—a corpse back from the grave, all done in 9-panel grids, with a really creepy, really intense final page.
  • The Devil’s Advocates: The Blair Witch Project, by Peter Turner – I haven’t read this series—which focuses monographs on key horror movies—before, but expect I’ll check out others. Turner’s approach here is solid. A fun, quick read.
  • Nightmare – Rodney Acher’s follow-up to his hit Room 237 documentary. This one is about sleep paralysis. Ascher makes the movie look amazing, and very creepy, but I’m not sure the material completely supports the feature length. That said, I love that he seems committed to horror documentaries that are not just analysis of the creation or meaning of classic horror movies. He’s one to watch, for sure.
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