For the past two weeks, I have been obsessed by the hypnotic, Luciferian splendor of “Angel of Light” from dark folk project Me And That Man, featuring the chilling vocals of Myrkur’s Amalie Braun. The devil in all their guises always counts as horror, right?
Well, if you disagree with that (rude) the Complex Distractions blog has put together a three-parter listing of Songs To Summon The Darkness, so surely you’ll find some amount of seasonally appropriate sonic horror over there!
Part I // Part II // Part Three
A few additional horror/Halloween-related tidbits today…
-I am testing out a few Halloween scents from Arcana Wildcraft. Today is Cottage Witch, which of course, OF COURSE, because it’s the one I wanted to share today, it’s sold out! With notes of gingerbread, apple cider doughnuts, honey, pumpkin, fig, this is an autumn dessert cart in full glory– caramel, crust, crumb, and custard, all.
– I recently finished watching Mike Flanagan’s current offering on Netflix, Midnight Mass. I waffle about his stuff. Depending on what day and how I’m feeling, I either love it or find it awful and maudlin. I guess it’s both. I love stories that dive deep into grief and loss and trauma and his works definitely do that. What I have a problem with, and I’ve mentioned it before and perhaps it makes me a little problematic…is that I have a very hard time watching characters deal with addiction or severe mental illness. This is from my own past and what I grew up with in my home and what shaped me, for good or worse. I guess it’s probably in my DNA at some level. And that’s often painful to watch and I don’t always feel up to putting myself through that.
When I was writing for Haute Macabre a few years ago, in another version of 31 Days of Horror, I said something along the lines that I felt “traumatized” by The Haunting of Hill House, another Flanagan creation in which a character struggled with addiction. Someone commented, calling me out on it. I don’t recall what they said exactly, and I don’t want to look it up, because my cheeks are flaming and my heart rate is elevated just thinking about it, but in my memory, they said that I was throwing this word, “traumatized,” around lightly. Like I didn’t know what it meant. Like I had no right to evoke its connotations. I don’t like being called out, which is why I am still embarrassed and hurt now, but of course, if whatever I am being called out for makes sense to me, I can learn from it and do better. But in this case, it just didn’t. I’m not sure I understand why I, an adult child of an alcoholic, an alcoholic who also struggled with bipolar/manic depressive disorder, whose children lived through and dealt with their mother’s multiple suicide attempts and her rages and disappearances and all of her terrifying behavior…why do you feel I don’t have the right to feel deeply traumatized when I encounter some aspect of any of these experiences in the media I consume? Am I using the word “traumatized” incorrectly? Is there some other way I should be couching my feelings to make them less offensive or more palatable? Am I just not up on the vernacular? I still don’t know what this person’s problem with me was unless it’s that I didn’t trot out a list of my trauma credentials ahead of time, before making my observation. Reading over that whole paragraph it sounds really defensive. Maybe it’s because I just still don’t get what I did wrong. And I hate feeling that I have done something wrong, even three years later.
Wow, ok. Anyway. Midnight Mass. If you, like me, are triggered by depictions of alcoholism, you may find this a hard watch (and now that I think about it, maybe “triggered” was the word that this person had an issue with, not “traumatized.” Whatever. Get over it, Sarah!) Also, animal violence. Also LOTS of religion. And lots of monologues. I actually enjoy both…as someone who grew up with a lot of booze-problems in our house, there was no time for religion problems, and also we weren’t religious at all. And so as an adult, I really enjoy watching and reading about all manner of religious beliefs and rituals to see how other people live with and practice their spirituality. And yes, I also enjoy monologues. I don’t spend a lot of time talking to people, maybe that’s why.
I realize I have mentioned nothing regarding what this series is about. An isolated island community starts experiencing strange miracles with the arrival of a new priest. Where’s the former priest? What’s causing these strange and wondrous things to happen? What’s that thing thumping around in Father Paul’s olde-timey travel trunk? I won’t spoil anything!
-Ok, these were supposed to be little tidbit nuggets of things, and in that previous bullet point, I initially only mentioned because I was going to compare to James Wan’s ridiculously stupid Malignant, which I HATED, but I think I am in the minority because everyone else seems to love it. And I don’t even know why I am comparing these two, they have absolutely zero similarities except they both start with an “M”. My only point is, instead of watching Malignant, read Stephen King’s The Dark Half. I don’t want to say why, but you’ll figure it out.
-And finally, I had an excellent conversation with a friend. About horror and why we love it and what it meant to us… and they had all sorts of wonderful insights and thoughts and suggestions regarding these things. It arose from something I had posted on social media wherein I mentioned the following incident. I should note that the questions I am referring to were not directed at me, but rather about me, in a speakerphone conversation that I overheard.
“I have been agonizing for the past 3 days about how to respond to someone’s derisive, dismissive questions about why I watch horror movies. But I think ultimately my takeaway is this: tell me why your first reaction to learning about what someone loves is to make them feel weird and bad about it?”
And getting back to a previous point, I wish now that I had asked my friend in today’s lovely chat for their thoughts about my use of the word “traumatized” (or “triggered.”) as mentioned in the Mike Flanagan conversation above, but I wasn’t thinking of it at the time. Ah well, another chat for another time!
Of course, all of your thoughts are welcome, as well. And please don’t coddle me. If I was wrong, I want to know. And if you are the person who made that comment about my Hill House review so long ago, I am not mad at you. I hope you are not mad at me! If we can have a conversation about it, I would welcome that.