I had such an incredibly lovely chinwag with Pam Grossman for a The Witch Wave PLUS + episode! Pam and I have been in each other’s weird orbits for almost fifteen years now and I feel like this chat was a long time in coming; it genuinely felt like catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen for ages, though, in fact, we were “meeting” for the very first time!
Art, darkness, witchy-and-goth-adjacent feelings, demented joy, and the magic found in the mundane—I ramble about all of this, and I’m not sure that I even properly answered a single one of Pam’s questions, but holy hot dog fingers, did I have a good time!
Interested in learning more about the host of The Witch Wave and author of Waking the Witch? As it happens, I’ve had a lot of Pammy G. content on the blog over the years!
That’s a lot. Not sure if I can top that. I’m not sure if I want to try.
Is 2023 the year to read two hundred books? To knit an impossible, magical mystery shawl? To make a soup so stunning that grandmas feel a satisfying flutter in their hearts all the world over when I slurp it?
To do the small, quiet work that no one sees, that I’ll never talk about, that I’ll busily fiddle with all night long only to see it tear under the accumulated weight of a fine morning mist, and begin the next day again to make it faster, stronger, better?
I don’t know! I bet this spider doesn’t know, either. I bet she’s annoyed that I’m bothering her and is thinking man, just let me do my work! Thanks for the inspo, spider, wherever you are. I’ll get to it, too.
I’ve been writing about perfumes on and off for the past twenty years, but I think this is actually the first year I have successfully shared a perfume review round-up, consistently, for twelve months running! Well done, me!
I have been generously gifted with some samples by Caitlin at Red River Apothecary, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the fragrances she selected for me. I loved the first two that I tried so much that I didn’t even want to wait to sniff the other three before sharing my thoughts. (Edited to add…well, there were five, but somehow I lost one along the way!) I’ll begin with Moria. I do love a scent built around dragon’s blood, and this is one of the most stunning examples I have ever encountered. Dragon’s blood in fragrance is heady and rich and sometimes quite overwhelming in a syrupy sense– but here, tempered with the incendiary floral of black pepper and shadowy black musk, it conjures the honeyed warmth of a mystical lantern glowing in the brooding caverns of Khazad-dûm.
Ozark is so lovely that it makes me strangely weepy; its gentle, refreshing dewdrops, velvety green moss, and deep blue, crystalline waters, it calls to mind a tranquil forest meadow teeming with bluebells and snowdrops and forget-me-nots alongside a cold, clear rushing river. It makes me think of Snow White in her glass coffin in a twilight illustration by Gustaf Tengrenn, and funny enough, it specifically summons two different songs for me In a Glade by Milla Jovovich, but I think it’s a traditional Ukrainian folksong, and Rusalka, Rusalka by the Decemberists, lyrics which lament the folly of falling for the dark-eyed Rusalka, pale as a liminal moon.
Shahwa is an opulent, intoxicating fragrance, a deep, rich, spicy incense that a Red Woman burns (every fantasy story has some version of a Red Woman) while invoking dark gods of pain and pleasure, and Sedona is stories told around a campfire, spirits, and elements of desert florals, Pinyon smoke, and the promise of oncoming rain in the potpourri of petrichor and downdraft of fresh ozone.
Stolas from Fantome is the strangest, most marvelous combination of chocolate and lavender, and this is one of the times I did not reacquaint myself with the notes before testing the scent and coming to that conclusion. So when I double-checked and saw I was right and I did actually smell what I smelled–hot dog, that’s validating. Even after all of this time I feel like I am just constantly wildly speculating. Anyway, this is a musty, dusty chocolate and a powdery lavender, cool aromatic cedar, and something strangely, sweetly waxen. It summons for me something so uncannily vivid and eerily evocative, though not the owl-headed 36th Prince of Hell that inspired the scent. No, this is a dim attic room closed to sunlight for the last century, tangled in pale, filmy cobwebs and frail, milky lace, and crowded with countless wooden shelves upon which are perched dozens of creamy-cheeked, unblinking porcelain dolls.
Stroopwafel from Scent Trunk is a gorgeous gourmand that balances what could potentially be intensely heavy and cloying with something that still feels light and airy, and effortlessly cozy. It feels perfect for what can be a really intense time of year when you’re pulled in every direction, you’re spread too thin, and there’s never enough time. The holidays can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining, and the last thing you want to do is top all that off with a fragrance that leans too far into any of that mess. Stroopwafel is a scent that feels nostalgic to a point, but in the way that books and dreams are nostalgic, unsullied by what goes on in your real life, and even then, it’s saved by various other elements before it can get its hooks into you and become something maudlin or suffocatingly sentimental. This is not to say I don’t connect with this scent, because I do! But in a way that feels like it’s a treasure just for me. Like being wrapped up in something special that I don’t have to share and in it, creating memories of moments that are solely my own. Nostalgia happening now, rose-tinting the present as I am living it.
It opens as the rich, fragrant gooey chewy treat it’s named for, that buttery bourbon caramel syrup center and brown sugar deliciousness of that sort of not-baked-all-the-way-through waffled cookie sandwiching it. But alongside all that cozy, sweet warmth, there’s a breath of something cool and breezy, this side of piney marjoram, that side of woodsy cedar, that makes itself known. It’s the olfactory equivalent of waking too warm in bed at night and slipping your toes from beneath your quilt to give them a little chill. Or perhaps baking up a storm in a humid kitchen on a wintry day, and cracking the window open to let in a frigid gust of air. A lovely vanilla musk rounds out the fragrance. At this point, and until you can no longer detect it on your skin, it smells like the sweater you spent all day wearing in that cookie kitchen, but with a light dusting of snow after you left it on top of the woodpile overnight.
I only started hearing about Pineward sometime last year, but in reading over their website, I just realized Pineward is another project of the person who now runs Apoteker Tepe, which I thought disappeared a few years ago, but I guess it was sold by the original perfumer and has been purchased by this Pineward person. Considering that my favorite Apoteker Tepe perfume is The Holy Mountain, and it smells like a beardy grandmaster max-level wizard summoning the ultimate ancient mystical dragon lord of the 11th realm or whatever, and now I smell the extremely resinous potency of these Pineward fragrances, this is an acquisition which makes perfect sense. I ordered a sampler set, and for the first one, I think we’ll get into Eldritch. Which is what my middle initial stands for. Just kidding, it’s Elizabeth. Eldritch is comprised of my favorite notes, the sweet loamy decay of oakmoss, opoponax’s oaken honeyed leather, myrrh’s aromatic warmth, crushed balsamic fir needles, and peppery, tannic smoke. It’s so, so, freaking good. And now it’s the signature scent of Elizabeth Eldritch, a powerful tiefling warlock with hair that smolders and crackles in the sun, who has a passion for forbidden lore and whose best friend is a giant fire beetle.
Murkwood from Pineward smells like perfumes I already own several similar bottles of, namely Norne from Slumberhouse, Winter from Dasein, The Nue Company’s Forest Lungs, and Hwyl from Aesop. But I love these notes, and I love how they make me feel and the magical places they take me to. I can never have enough of them and I am always on the hunt for the holy grail of these wintry midnight fairytale forest fragrances. With Murkwood, imagine that grail is less a golden chalice radiating a holy halo of light and more a small wooden cup, roughly carved of fir, a vessel for steaming smoky resinous tea drunk under a full January moon on a night with the snow-covered mosses and the frozen earth under your leather boots make a chilly incense of their own. If one were to stop by the woods in a snowy evening where two roads diverged in a wood, one familiar and one less traveled–Murkwood is stepping off the path entirely into that lovely, deep darkness. As a matter of fact, and this is a very niche reference, but I’m putting it out there anyway and I hope you’ll chime in down in the comments if you know what I am talking about–Murkwood is the olfactory accompaniment to avant-garde video game studio Tale of Tale’s The Path, an atmospheric, immersive horror game based on older, darker versions of Little Red Riding Hood.I see that the Pineward shop is closed right now, but this might just be my holy grail, and I am splurging on a full bottle first thing in 2023.
Yukion’na by Ikiryo Perfumes contains an element that I’m weirdly smitten with, and it’s possible you love it, too, or else you really hate it. There’s probably not any in-between. I am not a smoker, nor have I ever been, but I have an inexplicable fondness for whatever that combination of notes is that smells like a pack of cigarettes in an expensive handbag. It doesn’t smell like smoke, not exactly, and it certainly doesn’t smell like an ashtray. I can detect it in my bottles of Sycomore from Chanel, Chris Collin’s Autumn Rhythm, and My, Myself, and I from Ego Facto. I’d guess some combination of vetiver and leather and tobacco, but not all of these scents have these notes, so I guess I really don’t know. Yukion’na is another one that contains this facet that I’m so fond of, and it conjures for me a wintry yōkai, taking a break from an evening of striking terror into the hearts of lost travelers. She secrets herself behind an icy-glittered pine, the bitter decay of last autumn’s chrysanthemum petals crunch under the snow, and with a sharp, pale fingernail, she peels a small, tangerine, its pitted rind falling in a perfect spiral, shockingly vivid against the bone white landscape. As the moon rises over the frosted forest, a thin pillar of smoke plumes from a cigarette held between her citrus-scent fingertips.
I sampled another fragrance from Ikiryo, but I was really uncomfortable writing about it, so that review is for Midnight Stink Patrons only. I know it’s not fair to mention something that I’m not sharing with you, but for record-keeping sake, I did want to note it in the total of perfume reviews I have written this month.
I’ve wanted a fragrance from Gucci’s Alchemist’s Garden collection for the longest time, but I did not want to pay $350 for a bottle. I lucked out and found a bottle of Love at Your Darkest on Mercari for less than half that, and even luckier still, I actually love it. First, the downside, and the answer to a question that lots of folks asked when I first showed a peek at this a few weeks ago: it’s got basically zero longevity. I spritzed with manic abandon before beginning to write this review, and five sentences in, I basically have to jam my nostrils into my wrist to get the slightest whiff of it. So I would urge you to seek out second-hand bottles of this and buy at a discount. As to the scent, it’s lovely. If you like Tom Ford’s Oud Wood, well, that’s the obvious comparison, but it’s not quite the same; it’s still got that dry, peppery, cedary, woodsy oud backbone, but it’s much less chilly, with a bit of rosy-cheeked delicacy, a sort of fresh, uplifting floral note Replace that dusty tome of MR James ghost stories it’s clutching with a big, soft, pink bouquet of peonies. I’m almost tempted to call it “pretty,” but there’s a discordant jangle of something akin to celery seed, a bitter-earthy-salty facet that makes me hesitate…which is fine with me because I think that strangeness, this off-kilter element makes me like it all the more. I think this would be an interesting fragrance for layering with something more intense, like an oud-forward fragrance oil. Or maybe a rose-oud combination.
I had so much fun discussing DS& Durga’s Sexy Vikingwith the Viking who lives with me. Ývan is Icelandic and lived in Iceland until he was a teenager. His immediate family, his mom, dad, and brothers all now live in the US, as a matter of fact, some of them live a few neighborhoods away, but the rest of his relatives are scattered all over Iceland. He goes back every few years to visit, and I’ve been once, but I certainly don’t have enough familiarity with the country to have a well-formed opinion of a fragrance inspired by aspects of it. Well, I mean, I have an opinion on the fragrance, I can have an opinion on anything, but I guess I mean I can’t really comment overmuch on the sense of place that it’s meant to evoke. Ývan tells me that he gets an overall sense of fresh, crisp, evergreen coniferous pineyness. It recalls for him the summers he spent in the youth work program hauling wood from the forest …which I assumed was some sort of unpaid lumberjack gig, but he laughed and said, what kid is gonna do that kind of work for free?
Anyway, his specific memory involves the moments when he would take a rest and just lie down in a bed of fragrant pine needles and close his eyes while the sun filtered through the canopy of trees. He also said that it brings to mind icy evergreens in the wintertime, during traditional graveside visits on Christmas. He and his mother would visit the cemetery with wreaths and candles for relatives that had passed on, and there was a forested path along which they would slush through freshly fallen snow to reach the graves. Overall he likened it to smelling like an ancient woodland Yule wreath, full of wintry bounty. I would add that what I smell, overwhelmingly, is tart, bracing, cold-weather berries. Something bright red and jeweled and so bitter that even the snowbirds won’t eat it. But also a bit like sour, candied grapefruit peels. As the scent wears, this becomes more like a fruity, malty, softly honeyed amber–but either way, it’s a beautiful note. And overall, I think we both agree, it’s an incredible fragrance, and as it happens–it’s stunningly perfect for the winter solstice today (the day this review was written.)
It’s been another busy month, and I’m afraid as much as I would have it differently, sniffing things was not at the top of my list of priorities. Still, I did manage to weasel my nose into a thing or two …much like these curious kittens in the fantastic imagery above by my new favorite artist of adorable animals, Horatio Henry Couldery!
Hortus from Possets is, I believe, a seasonal scent–a spring or summer limited edition. It’s a strange, slithery floral with a rich honeyed neroli and what I can only describe as an oily green musk. It’s lush and weird, like an overheated midnight hallucination, a pinch of shimmering nightmare shadow pulsing at the bottom of a glass stoppered botanical elixir.
Patchouli of the Underworld from Electimuss, to my nose, is a fragrance less evocative of the brutish god of the underworld and his nonconsensual bride than it is a summoning of the bitter heartbreak that’s tangled throughout the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. When I was younger, I was terribly salty on Eurydice’s behalf; all you had to do was not look back, Orpheus! You were so close to having your beloved wife back from the dead! But …no. You did the one thing they specifically tasked you with not doing. You looked. Margaret Atwood wrote in a poem from Eurydice’s point of view, “you could not believe I was more than your echo–” and I think that’s what Patchouli of the Underworld captures so uncannily, the pale grey echo of that very human doubt and disbelief on his part, and the bitter disappointment that she must have felt, and the sorrow experienced by both of them. Now that I’m older, I better understand and certainly have more experience with the crushing gravity of grief, I know that everyone experiences it differently. And grieving people deserve the gift of grace. Orpheus mourns his wife lost twice over, and Eurydice’s sorrow at being drawn back into the darkness of death because of her husband’s momentary lapse of faith must have been immeasurable. That is what this scent captures so well. Forget the brand’s copy about musky sexiness or whatever. That’s not what this is. It’s the lamentations of one whose fleeting hope was stolen away by the person they loved best, and the devastating sense of regret held by the thief. If one were to distill those echoes of melancholy, that antiquity of sadness, and bottle the resulting essence, the results would be an olfactory dirge of smoky mists of pepper and powder and strange inky-leathery nuances, that, over time, becomes a despairing funeral soapy floral.
By Serpentine by Exaltatum opens in a way that feels like a chimeric chypre, full of tentative promise but also a bit weird; it’s a delightfully sour/loamy/ambery chameleon of a fragrance, and I smell something different with every passing moment. The subtle sparkle and sass of pink pepper, a sophisticated bitter citrusy zhuzh of bergamot, the sharp, prickly verdancy of fir, a feathery tickle of violet’s delicate powderiness, and a velvety dreamy balsamic heart of woods and tobacco. It is a little too earthy to call luminous, but it gleams and glows despite its dustier aspects. By Serpentine is an incredibly light and elusive scent, I can’t quite smell it directly on my wrist where I have sprayed it, and yet I smell its halo hovering around me. It’s a thing of beauty, but it is not much for longevity; after half an hour or so, it’s as if waking from an exquisitely poignant dream that I have instantly forgotten the details of.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve got some problems with the legendary Thracian bard, but I will set them aside for a scent such as Curionoir’s Orpheus Incarnate that is trying to capture a hyper-specific moment in his mythology. An olfactory interpretation of an underwater experience, a feeling of weightlessness and calm, visions of turquoise and mauve, and the irresistible lure of the siren’s song. I can’t fathom how they’ve done this–there is really nothing in this fragrance that reads to me as aquatic or oceanic or even anything watery, and yet, if you’ve ever floated on the tide, in the currents, even in the cool waters of your swimming pool, eyes closed to the glare of the sun or the glow of the moon, the echoing murmurs and gurgles of the world drowned out by the waves enclosing the soft pink shell of your ears–this is a perfume that conjures the slowing breaths and hushed heartbeats of that tranquility. I do pick up on the spiced clove of carnation, the cool, earthy oris, the decadence of the tonka and heliotrope, and the almost cloyingly sweet herbaceousness of licorice, and it’s all beautiful and brilliant chorus together…but I have no idea how that translates into the hypnotic sensory lullaby of a solitary midnight swim.
Over on tiktokI reported the results with regard to a commenter’s rando Amazon order dare. Now first, I want to say I didn’t go into the exercise thoughtlessly, so these picks aren’t totally random because I didn’t want to be wasteful with my money or possibly encourage anyone else to do that. I started with a somewhat random search and then branched out from there with some “customers who liked this, bought X, Y, or Z” type things. I ended up with a few brands I had a passing familiarity with, or else fragrance profiles that I was comfortable with from brands I’d never heard of (and probably never would, outside of a weird amazon search.) The results are actually surprising. Out of five perfumes, there is only one that I dislike, and it’s not even that it’s terrible. It’s just boring. (Which is actually worse than terrible, if you ask me!) Here are my findings!
Le Monde Gourmand Pistachio Brûlée with notes of Milky Mousse, Pistachio crumbs, and vanilla beans smells like Brazilian Bum Bum cream’s sandalwood and salted caramel cut with the peachy iris musk of Glossier’s You.
Oud Swisseri Vanilla Attar I actually did not know this was vanilla when I purchased it, but it doesn’t really matter because there’s no vanilla here. This is mostly Tom Ford Oud Wood, a chilly, peppery, coniferous melange of woods but with an extra side order of smoky bandaids. I don’t hate it.
Marem from Caswell Massey is a fragrance originally created for flamboyant silent film star Alla Nazimova, which I’m sure has been reformulated at some point. It’s a really lovely light rose and currant and citrus scent that darkens to a sort of mossy, ambery rose. The rose remains present as it evolves, but the rose you’re initially given isn’t the rose you end up with.
I was expecting Prince from Luxodor to be pretty awful, but honestly, it kinda blew me away. I think this is marketed as a men’s fragrance, but whatever. I’m fairly certain if you are here listening to me talk about perfumes, you don’t believe scents should be gendered, and neither do I. Anyway, this opens with a warm rush of woods and moss and musk, but somehow there’s a cloud of something that either borders on fruity or gourmand, but it’s enigmatically neither. I love this one. And I also love the bottle, which has got a weird amount of heft for being relatively small, and has a gorgeously intricate design.
The Curious Apothecary The Eccentric $25 says it’s a floral gourmand with vanilla brittle and Norwegian woods, but sadly, this is on par with very bland off-brand plug-in air-freshener, something scented with sugar cookie extract, ozone, and industrial plastic. It’s even texturally unpleasant, as it leaves a weird, greasy film on the skin. Ok, I changed my mind, it’s not just boring, it’s objectively terrible. Weirdly, this one is no longer on Amazon. You can find it here if you really want it, but I can assure you that you do not.
I shared this on my Patreon earlier today, but really, this goes out to anyone who has ever supported any of my endeavors…
A Mouse At The Feast
Friends, I want to take a moment to thank you. Over the years, every time someone urged me to start a Patreon, I couldn’t possibly fathom a. what on earth I’d even be doing with it and b. who in the hell would even care.
But it turns out YOU in the hell would even care! Thank you for supporting my odiferous rants, rambles, and reviews for the past sixth months. I truly feel like this tiny mouse (you can see it next to the peach) spoiled by a feast of love and blessings. Probably not what this 17th-century Dutch painter was envisioning with this moody, opulent conjuration of the dangers of intemperance, the transience of earthly delights, and cautionary reminders of our mortality, but whatever!
Like many of us, now that we’re grown and know better, I feel very weird wishing anyone a “nice” very problematic holiday, so instead, I will send you much love for you and your beloved friends and family during a much-needed day/s off from work. May you have your fill of all the savory sniffs and sweet smells, may no one complain about your fragrance at the dinner table (whatever it is, frankly, it’s fabulous, and your relative can shut their damn pie-hole), or upset you with their stupid politics, and if you’re a ding dong like me who got their Bivalent booster on Thanksgiving eve–well, I hope you’re not feeling too cruddy.
I guess the “sonic equivalent of being seen” is…”being heard.” Maybe that was a dumb idea for a title. I don’t care, I still like it!
In any event, gather closer readers. Allow me to tell you the story of my friend, Maika, thoughtful and kind and beautiful all the way down to their bones– an exceptional human in every way!–who saw that something vital was missing in this world and set about fixing it. Enter: Liminal Flares.
In internet time, Maika and I connected over a million years ago, over, among other things, our mutual love of Twin Peaks, eerie art, and haunting literature. And over the course of these strange aeons, we’ve discussed many of these chilling tales together in the form of rambles, recommendations, reviews, rants, and everything in between.
The concept and creations for Liminal Flares came to be, Maika shares, “because the only thing better than reading or listening to haunted and haunting stories, is when those stories don’t make anyone feel invisible or inconsequential because of their gender.”
“I created Liminal Flares because I know how much it would’ve meant to me to find this while growing up as a queer, trans, nonbinary person struggling comprehend themselves amid a relentlessly heteronormative world.
I created Liminal Flares to be found by anyone who needs these haunted and haunting, gender-inclusive tales – be that because we help you feel more seen, valid, and included, or simply because you enjoy otherworldly storytelling that doesn’t exclude anyone based on their gender.
I created Liminal Flares because present day me also needs things like this to exist in this fraught yet wondrous world.”
Accompanied by spectral sounds composed by the incomparable Meredith Yayanos, you can now find three episodes of the Liminal Flares podcast, as well as a wondrously insightful intro, available for listening.
Imagine the darkest bronzed honey, harvested during the penumbral glooms of an eclipse; imagine its velvet voice, dusky and low, crooning eerie twilit tales across the ether, eliciting shivers and tingles and thrills. Now imagine never once feeling that jarring sensation when you’ve been abruptly yanked out of the story thanks to outdated, non-inclusive language! Liminal Flares Otherworldly Gender-Inclusive Story Time extends an invitation to slip through a portal like none other, to utterly lose yourself for a sweet, spooky time, in that eldritch, honeyed darkness.
Maika, you have done something outstanding, and the world needs magic like this more than ever. Brava, my weird, wonderful, glorious spood.
Well, here we are. Day 31 of 31 days of horror. The entirety of this last day has nearly passed and I keep forgetting to write about my final movie. It’s almost like my subconscious won’t even allow it. Is this possibly because I absolutely hate the movie in question? Oh, well, there is no doubt about that.
I’m not even going to use the official movie poster for the featured image today. I’m going with Jamie Lee’s tired scowl because ME TOO, JAMIE LEE. ME TOO. I have tried to watch David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills three times since it was initially released last year. On first viewing, I paid full price for it. About 15 minutes in, I thought, “fuck this, I’M OUT.” On the second watch, half a year later, I managed an extra five minutes. Last night I finished it.
This movie is terrible in every single way, and watching it until the end did not actually feel like a triumph. It felt more like a FUCK THIS THING IN PARTICULAR.
It almost feels pointless to have even opened up a draft and start typing in it because this is a garbagey pile of crap, and it’s not getting an actual review from me. It doesn’t deserve it!
Ugh with the “evil dies tonight” baloney. It won’t! It didn’t! And it probably won’t tomorrow, either. Regardless, I am done.
(Also, why did that lady in the crazed mob need an iron? Was she going to get the wrinkles out of Michael Myer’s jumpsuit? And why was the entire state of Illinois chasing that escaped mental patient through the hospital? Nope. Nope. Gotta stop this. These questions don’t need answers. This was a dumb and hateful film and I really am done!)
But I can’t end it on such a sour note, so instead, I will share my top five watches from this past month:
And finally, a reminder for you that there are just a few hours left for this Halloween Instagram giveaway of one signed copy of The Art of Darkness AND a print of Alex Eckman-Lawn’s spectacular cover art! Please note, this frame is not included (it’s too big, anyway!) So… seriously, it’s your last chance! Don’t tell me tomorrow that you didn’t hear about it! Enter to win while you still can!
Happy Halloween, friends! Feel free to comment with your favorite spooky films (or spooky stuff in general) that you’ve experienced this October and I will meet you here next year to do it all over again!
But I mean also I will be here writing about this, that, and the other thing in the interim, so I’m sure we will see each other soon.
Today we have three 31 Days of Horror entries. None of them are all that horrifying, but whatever, I had fun watching them!
I didn’t realize that the Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities series was available just yet, so I was surprised to see it all up on Netflix. The original plan had been to watch some Yvan-friendly things. He doesn’t love horror, but we can usually find a few compromises, and this time around it was Marvel’s relatively new Werewolf By Night and Disney’s The Black Cauldron, which he confessed had scared the crap out of him as a child.
Werewolf By Night was fine. I feel like I can’t really comment on it too much because I don’t really know any of the story, but as someone who typically enjoys a Marvel yarn–even though I don’t love superheroes– I found myself appreciating Werewolf By Night more than I thought I would. Probably because monsters are always more interesting than heroes, right? The story, a bunch of monster hunters gathering to claim a legendary monster-hunting artifact (but there’s a surprise amongst them!) seemed like a campy, pulpy, love letter to Universal Horror via an action-packed Marvel delivery system. I can’t help but to wonder if some folks took issue with the black & white format…you know, like the same people who complain about having to watch something with subtitles. Those people.
The Black Cauldron probably would have scared me as a kid, too! The story of a young pig-keeper, the oracular pig he is charged with protecting, and The villainous Horned King who wants to get his hands on the evil Black Cauldron to use its powers to raise an army of the dead. His motivations? Unclear. It’s just a thing that megalomaniacal hooded skull-faced overlords do, as we have seen time and again, throughout history.
Anyway, he needs to get his hands on the pig, whose visions will reveal the whereabouts of this wicked vessel of badness. There’s a ragtag group of misfit friends made along the way, including an absolutely unidentifiable little animal who sounds a lot like Smeagol, there are some fairies, some witches, and some dragons, but things work out for the best in the end, and it’s more or less your typical children’s fantasy fare. Maybe a lot darker, though. If you’re a six-year-old like Yvan (I would have been ten at the time, so there’s a thing you didn’t know about me, I’m a bit of a cradle robber) but anyway, if you were a kid and saw this, it probably would be awfully frightening. Nightmare fuel in the form of skeleton armies, brooding labyrinthine castles, and violent scenarios involving cute animals, such as when the dragons are chasing poor Henwen the pig across a field, or when one of the goons almost chops off her head.
Having never seen it before, I can’t say if the movie holds up, but it does seem like it might have been a little ahead of its time for Disney, and the animated backgrounds–the forest, the castle, even some scenes of the cauldron itself, were absolutely beautiful. The Black Cauldron is part of a larger storyverse–The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander, and apparently one of my brothers-in-law has the entire collection on his shelf. I’ll have to look into borrowing it.
Finally, in “Lot 36,” the first installment of Cabinet of Curiosities, we follow a miserable, down-on-his-luck Nick, who buys abandoned storage spaces and sells the contents within to make a profit. Nick owes some money to some shady people and is hopeful that some of the rare old things in the space he just purchased will lead to a major bit of money. Things get occulty and nasty!
Though not a particularly scary episode, there were elements of the story that did draw me in regardless and showcased some really pretty antique items. Well, things that looked like antiques, anyway. There was a massive piece of gorgeous Victorian hair work that, were it real, I’m sure I know a handful of friends who would go absolutely nuts for it.
Amazon had the first episode of Interview with the Vampire for free, so of course, I had to see what they’ve done with it (but to be honest, there’s probably very little they could do with it that I wouldn’t love.)
Grey Worm of the Unsullied makes for such an extraordinary Louis de Pointe du Lac, and this adaptation reframes his story in a wonderfully rich and interesting way. I am not sure who is playing Lestat, but the role is so gorgeously violent –he punches right through a man’s head!– that I keep imagining that it’s Henry Cavill, coming straight off The Witcher set, switching out wigs, donning a dapper facade and a fancy befanged French accent. Seriously, in one scene he looked so very Geralt of Rivera that now I cannot unsee it, and I don’t care who the actor actually is, in my headcanon it is now and forever Henry Cavill.
I’m only just one episode in, but I was so captivated by what I saw that I will probably have to do a free month’s trial for whatever platform this is airing on, just so I can keep up with it and see where they take the story. I’m invested.
Bonus Halloween and Horror-related stuff seen recently on the web!
I have to say right off the bat, lest you think me a knee-jerk naysayer: I am HERE for the reimaginings, remakes, reboots, revisionings. My way of thinking is that if I loved something the first time around, I want to see more, More, MORE of it. However…
I hated this Hellraiser reimagining so much that I didn’t even double-check to make certain that I grabbed the correct movie poster art for this blog post. Not that any of my reviews are all that nuanced or insightful, but this one is going to be a million times less so.
I don’t even know what to say about it, so here’s something I told a friend over on Twitter just now: “Oh, it’s so stupid. I hate all these babies. It’s like a long boring episode of 90210. Don’t do drugs. Don’t make deals with rich guys or demons. Whatever. We get it.” There was something so…young people mtv apartment soap opera – bordering on reality tv show cenobite mansion about this Hellraiser story. To which I say: nope.
There was a big TW for me in this version of Hellraiser (which, I will only say this once, but there was no earthly reason for this Hellraiser movie to exist.) There’s a character who is dealing with addiction and substance abuse issues. And anything I can say on this topic is ugly and unkind, and that’s because I have a lot of unresolved issues with addicts, and so I am just going to keep my mouth shut.
Also, the costumes/prosthetics/effects or whatever they might be referred to in this instance…just really made me sad. There was something so plastic-armor about the cenobite’s overall looks, like vintage Kenner Star Wars toys and Halloween costumes from the late 1970s-early 1980s. Just flat, dull afterthoughts, void of detail. The viscera didn’t even glisten!
Anyway, I hated this stupid pile of garbage. You can find it on Hulu if you want, but I suggest that you do not want.