A24 had a one-night-only screening of LAMB last night, and since I am still not comfortable with going to the theatre, I had myself a fancy in-home theatre experience. Like every other movie that I have watched since late February 2020.
Are you guys going back to the movies yet? What are you doing to ease your fears about the experience of being out and about among others? I should note that I am not out and about doing much of anything yet. A few doctor’s appointments and the occasional grocery excursion, and two outside, open-air restaurant experiences over the course of 8 months, but that’s about it. I feel like if I weren’t living in FL, I might be a little more into it, but…nah. These people are insane, and I don’t want to risk it. So home movies it is!
I’m not sure what to say about LAMB just yet. If you’ve seen the trailer, and have decided to watch it, then I imagine you already have a grasp on what’s going on. To an extent. On the surface, it’s a simple, slow-moving story: a married couple, Maria and Ingvmar, are eking out a rather joyless existence on a remote farm somewhere in Iceland. You get the sense–though it’s never mentioned–they’ve experienced a loss. A profound sadness has taken root as resignation, and this is a couple just going through the motions, a daily life steeped in ennui. Until one day they bear witness to a strange miracle, and they accept this gift as their own. I am not sure it was meant to be taken as such, or taken at all.
I read a review in which LAMB is described as folkloric psychodrama and “chamber horror,” if you can consider this film horror at all. I believe this is a film meant to be unsettling, but as another reviewer remarks “…indeed, the most disturbing thing is how non-disturbing it ultimately becomes.”
The Icelandic scenery, the towering mountains and bleak, foggy skies, is somber and beautiful and this rural folktale almost seems like a love letter to nature, if you discount the fascinating and baffling story occurring at the heart of it.
I still don’t know what to make of LAMB, though to be fair it’s been less than 12 hours since I saw it, so I’ll sit with it a while longer. But I doubt I will come to any easy conclusions.
On a less weird (or MORE weird?) note…did you know that A24 sells scented candles in their shop? Your home theatre can be fragranced with the aromas of Horror, Noir, Thriller, or Fantasy, just to name a few! I won’t lie, I am kind of into this.
Horror, pictured here, includes notes of mandarin, clove leaf, cypress, suede, and cinnamon bark, and is inspired by “fangs, glowing eyes, remote lakeside cabins, foreboding shadows on walls, bloody knives, low-angle staircase shots, dilapidated houses silhouetted on a hill, and black cats.”
And finally, earlier this month, Nuri McBride over at the Death/Scent blog, for her annual October tradition of pairing fragrances with Halloween costume ideas, put together a phenomenal list of fragrances to set the mood for watching a handful of A24-associated films: If A24 Films Were Perfumes
I recall hearing whispers about Chapelwaite over the past few months, but I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit I ignored all of them because for some reason I thought it was a series that had to do with Jack the Ripper. I am supremely uninterested in Jack the Ripper and if I never heard him referred to again, that would be just fine with me.
That is not what Chapelwaite is. Le whoopsie. Apparently, it’s based on “Jersusalem’s Lot“, a short story in Stephen King’s Night Shift collection. I feel like I should have known that; I did read Night Shift, but it was a thousand years ago and I do not remember this particular story at all.
So I am giving it a try. I’m about two episodes in, and if I am being honest, I am finding it very uncomfortable viewing. Firstly, Adrian Brody looks seems constipated in every scene. Ooof. And so, there’s this family. Adrian Brody is Charles Boone, a ship’s captain, and he’s got his three kids with him. Their mother died at sea, and they’re new in town, come to claim a house that Adrian Brody inherited from his family. The town’s people have a problem with them because apparently, this Boone family is bad news for whatever reason, and also they’re racist as hell and are giving these multiracial children a hard time. I realize without some sort of conflict a story can’t get interesting or progress, but I have such difficulty with watching people behave shitty toward children. Ugh.
The good thing about this show? Stevie Budd from Schitt’s Creek is in it! She plays Rebecca Morgan, a college graduate and aspiring writer in this small town. With a deadline looming she presents herself to the Boones as a potential governess… for a family that could be cursed, in a mansion that could be haunted, because – as she puts it to her mother – “there’s only one good story in town.” The other good thing about this show is that Stevie/Rebecca wears some truly spectacular ruffled/floral night robes/dressings gowns. I’m not exactly sure what you call this particular garment from this specific era? But they are gorgeous!
Thanks, Ted, for your out-of-the-blue, but thoroughly appreciated email urging me to watch this show! I don’t know if I like it just yet, but I am intrigued enough to keep watching for the time being. Especially if there are more lantern-lit ruffles.
Sometimes the universe works in funny ways and it will happen that I read/read or read/watch two things that I did not choose with the forethought that they might be similar, and yet there will be some surprising parallels or synchronicities. That always feels a bit magical when that happens and I am always receptive to it and thrilled at the experience.
This… is not one of those times. I chose these two books, The Final Girl Support Group and Survivors’ Club, because they did on the surface sound rather alike, and I thought it might be interesting to read them in tandem.
But you know…while they were both imaginative takes on the idea of “survivors that weird and scary shit happened to and now it’s happening again,” they’re very different stories, taking that core concept to very different places.
The Final Girl Support Group is handled in a decidedly slashery vein, supported by Grady Hendrix’s distinctive humor and his sometimes unexpected emotional insights. I don’t know why I phrase it that way, it’s not like you can’t be both funny and have an aptitude for writerly emotional nuance. I’m sorry to sell you short, Grady Hendrix, you pen some extremely enjoyable and satisfying reads! I tend to think of Hendrix as that really funny guy in class that I always had a crush on but I also suspected that if you scratch the surface of the jokes, there’s not much underneath. That’s not true with this author, and I need to stop thinking that way. In brief, Lynette and a handful of survivors of various massacres and murderous crimes have been meeting for therapy for over a decade–until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized—someone knows about the group and is determined to pick them off one by one.
Survivors’ Club is…not that at all. This graphic novel comic series follows another handful of survivors, but these individuals are victims of supernatural/paranormal horrors from the 1980s–killer dolls, haunted houses, and possessions, etc. They meet via the internet and try to figure out what connects them, and why these things occurred, and what is it exactly that’s beginning to happen again? It’s wildly creepy and bizarre and gruesome and I’ll admit, I first grabbed it because I saw that Lauren Beuekes was one of the writers involved with it. I don’t really love how it wrapped up, and overall it felt a little messy…but if I understand correctly, it got canceled, and perhaps they had to rush the ending.
These two stories ended up being quite different! I guess that’s what happens when you think you know better than the universe. I’ll leave it up to fate next time.
I spoke with Suzanne LaGrande for The Shaman’s Notebook podcast over the summer and it slipped my mind that our chat was published last week! This was a fun conversation, and as always I was awkward as hell and said some weird things, but c’est moi I guess.
If there is one tradition I have over the years of participating in 31 Days of Horror, it’s that Dragula usually always gets a mention. Most recently, I included it in last year’s Week 4 roundup, over at Haute Macabre. This is actually the first year I have been trying to keep up my 31 Days challenge on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly gathering, and I think I like it better this way, it’s somehow less stressful!
I’m always a little surprised that I even watch this drag competition show. Of course I’m here for the horror and glamour aspects of the spectacle, but these competitions always make me so anxious, partially because I just want everyone to win and I hate seeing people eliminated, but even more problematic for me is the cringe-factor involved. On one hand, I do love me some juicy drama, and the cattiness of the contestants never fails to generate that for me, but at the same time, I guess I hate to see it unfolding in front of me. I’d rather hear about in secondhand, in the form of salacious gossip! Oh well. I continue to watch anyway because I love to see them dreaming up their amazing floorshow creations!
I have only just seen one episode of Season 4, but so far my favorite is Hosu Terra Toma, a gore-geous beauty who I believe is the show’s first South Korean contestant. Exciting! What’s funny about this look (which I grabbed off of their Instagram because I didn’t want to include something from the show and spoil it for someone who hasn’t yet seen it) is that it is SO reminiscent of the KISS makeup that scared me so badly as a little girl. Isn’t it funny how our fears can sometimes lead to our fascinations?
Have you started Season 4 yet? I don’t want to get into it too much here because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I will say that I have some thoughts on the first floorshow, there is someone I really, really dislike, and there is another someone whose presence on this show makes no sense to me at all. Also, Tananarive Due, whom I just wrote about last week and whom I admire tremendously, was a judge for this episode!
Any thoughts? Let us gawp and gossip in the comments!
If you have not already seen The Medium, the first thing I want to urge you to do is PLEASE GO WATCH IT NOW! And then mosey on back here and let’s talk about it!
(But I am honor-bound to tell you that you need to check doesthedogdie.com before you watch it–and yes, it does– because I would never knowingly inflict that sort of viewing experience on my sweet, sensitive friends.)
In The Medium, a documentary team follows a pragmatic shaman named Nim in a remote village in Northern Thailand and who is now probably one of my favorite movie characters of all time. Nim works as a bridge of communication between the townspeople and their goddess, Ba Yan, and she is also on call to cure their spiritual ailments. Sicknesses from the “unseen,” as she stresses to the film crew when they ask her if she can heal all illnesses, and then deadpans, “If you come to me for cancer, you’re probably going to die,” I love her!
Being possessed by the goddess is an inherited gig, and it was not actually meant to be Nim’s calling, as we find out. Nim’s elder sister, Noi was next in line for the role but declined. We learn as the movie progresses that she did more than this in order for the goddess to pass her over in favor of her sister, some sort of supernatural “take her instead!” business. It worked, and perhaps for the best, as Nim actually grew to enjoy her job as spiritual advisor and conduit.
Mink, Nim’s niece (Noi’s daughter) begins showing signs that she will inherit the role as the area’s next shaman. Over time, however, Mink’s bizarre behavior becomes more erratic–extremely frightening in fact– and hints that within Mink is not the benign goddess that they worship, but something else entirely.
This is a film that takes some time to ramp up, so be patient and settle in, because when it gets going, it’s a wild ride. The first act is an engaging family tale, the second is more or less glimpses at the progression of classic possession, and the third…well, it’s fucking bananas. If you enjoyed films such as 2016’s The Wailing, you’ll probably find yourself compelled to watch this one, and that would make sense because I believe there is a similar director/producer involved.
Even if you’re not a fan of possession/exorcism films or zombie gorefests (which is not exactly what this film is? but it’s also not…not this film?) you might be interested in its themes of faith and belief, karma, and curses; you might be drawn in by the family drama and richly realized characters; or you may be intrigued by the remote, rural, and eerie but utterly breathtaking locations. The Medium has a lot to recommend itself, and no wonder it currently stands as the 6th highest-grossing Korean film of 2021.
The screen stills I grabbed from the film and used for this post are not exactly representative of the entire film, so don’t get the idea that it’s all as peaceful and idyllic as these images suggest. I just didn’t want to give too much away! Plus they were pretty.
Devilish chanteuse crooning her dark, unsettling secrets into your trusting ears and twisting your tender heart, dark pop artist La Femme Pendu conjures her second full-length album, VAMPYR, forth from the midnight portals today.
Don your dark glasses and a single earring: VAMPYR is a 1980’s darkwave party and a celebration of shadows and lustful excess, produced by Grammy nominee Dave Darling and featuring guest appearances by Billy Morrisson, Jake Hays, Damien Done, and the magnificent punk legend Cherie Currie of the Runaways.
About this fête fantôme of an album and its moody revelries, the artist shares that after having been quarantined for more than a year, pale and thirsty for human connection, she felt “like Dracula emerging from putrid soil after his journey on the Demeter.”
As such, she continues, this record was an aspirational one, drawing inspiration from favorites across film and music: bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode. Films like The Hunger, Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Let the Right One In, and Only Lovers Left Alive.
The lyrical protagonists from her first full-length album, Absolute Horrorwere fallible and mortal. In VAMPYR, our narrators are empowered mistresses of the night. And after these many months (years now!) spent in the melancholic limbo and navel-gazing of our self-isolation, a wicked bit of carousing with La Femme Pendu’s vampiric bacchants is profoundly appreciated, even by this wallflower.
“It’s my dream soundtrack to a Halloween rager at a goth club, and these days a gathering like that seems just as dangerous as the bloody rave that opens Blade (1998). It’s no accident I made a record about a contagious undead condition after our collective endurance of this lethal virus.”
Songs that have got me fanged me up, pricked my imagination, and infected me thus far: the dreamy beat of “la somnambule” and the jaunty dread of “la nuit a un prix”.
“That sure was a weird movie,” I’ve found myself muttering ever since watching Messiah of Evil a few nights ago. Yvan later remarked, “well, when YOU keep referring to something as weird, that’s how I know it’s REALLY weird.”
A film I’ve been hearing about in passing for a while now, Messiah of Evil was specifically recommended to me last October, and a year later when I saw MondoHeather mention it on twitter just the other day, I knew it was a sign to finally sit down and watch it.
A surreal and unsettling coastal-set tale (my favorite kind!) and an exercise in moody horror, the film follows a very concerned Arletty, who is in search of her missing artist father. She heads to the small, strange beach town of Point Dune where she finds his abandoned beach house. and a diary full of his frightened ravings. Vampiric/cannibalistic madness ensues.
My first thought about Messiah of Evil was “…huh…this isn’t what I thought this was going to be about?” But I also had no idea what it was about, so how could I have had any expectations? My second thought was along the lines of how I would like Lana del Rey to play every character in this movie, or at least write a song and make a music video inspired by it. My third thought was how I wanted to knit a cute version of Arletty’s pumpkin-hued short-sleeved sweater because of course I was going to think that.
Also! Check out this bed! A platform swinging from the ceiling with room not only for one sleeping body, but possibly another, along with the bed linens, pillows, a whole mess of books, three potted plants, and a stuffed armadillo!
Lana look-alikes and oddball aesthetics aside, I actually really loved this strange, striking, and uniquely …weird little film.
Is anyone else watching the recent version of I Know What You Did Last Summer? It’s trashy as hell and it’s making me feel old as dirt (if I hear that one kid call someone “sus” one more time, I am gonna lose my shit) but you know what? It’s a lot of fun.
I don’t recall the original series of movies very well, but the source material, Lois Duncan’s 1973 book I Know What You Did Last Summer, wasn’t my favorite among her titles, so I’m not too precious about it.
A loose adaptation though the premise remains the same: a group of teenagers/young adults (I can’t tell? Everyone between 15 and 30 looks the same age to me now?) are involved in a hit and run and a year later, they begin receiving threatening messages from someone who doesn’t want to forget and who knows “what they did last summer.” And of course begins stalking them and picking them off one by one. It feels a bit Pretty Little Liars to me, but with more drugs and sluttery. So if that’s your thing, you may enjoy this! It’s definitely my thing. All the delicious drugs and promiscuity, please!
…but this version is set in Hawaii, which feels weird and off. Or rather, that it’s a show steeped in Hawaiian culture, but it’s still centered around a white family--that’s the part that doesn’t feel right at all. I think they are going for something very Twin Peaksian, but it doesn’t work. Still, it’s more gruesome than I expected, it’s genuinely funny in moments, and if I’m being honest, I just like to see “young people horror” …although I don’t know how reflective this is of young people culture? These characters are like 18 going on 40. But what do I know? I feel very out of touch sometimes.
Are you guys watching this? I’d love to know your thoughts!
I have been meaning to read Tananarive Due’s The Good House from the moment that I closed the last page of Ghost Summer, which I thoroughly, delightedly enjoyed. My review for Ghost Summer wasn’t super in-depth or intensive, but about the book, I wrote the following:
These engaging short stories by Tananarive Due tick every box for what I want in a summer read. (I think I read this in September, so that still counts, as far as I am concerned!) A vast spectrum of supernatural business, characters that I care about, masterful writing that is emotive and nuanced but not super dense or difficult or inaccessible. It’s got everything!
Ghost Summer was previously my only experience with Tananarive Due’s writing, and though I believe that it was published more than a decade after The Good House, which I just read, it had all of the hallmarks that I’ve now come to expect from her work. I feel like it’s almost trite to say that a story or a book has “a lot of heart”…I mean, I say that a lot, but what does that mean, anyway? It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this author’s writing, I am tempted to say “horror with a lot of heart.” I suppose what I’m trying to get across is that her stories seem to be written through an empathetic, compassionate lens. That her characters are fully fleshed out, down to their annoyances and imperfections, and their stories are treated in such a way that they’re wholly, profoundly human, and we really grow to care about them.
Also, Tananarive Due writes in such a way that you don’t feel punished for having read and connected with the work. I sometimes feel like a certain subset of writers must really hate us, the reader. That’s probably not true, but it’s easy to feel that way when you see your favorite, beloved characters brutally dismembered on the page before you. I just…never get a sense of that with Due’s writing. Of course, in her books, there’s horror and heartlessness and heart-stopping moments…but there’s also hope. I love that she gives us that, too. I guess that’s what I mean when I say a story “has heart;” that no matter what else transpires, no matter how big and expansive the horror and heartbreak is, she leaves the door open for goodness and hope, as well. I come away feeling good about what I read.
The Good House (unlike the House movie that I wrote about yesterday) is actually a pretty scary story in concept, and I did find myself a little freaked out while reading it. The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint’s late grandmother is so cherished and revered that the local townspeople refer to it lovingly as the Good House. All of this changes one summer when a terrible tragedy takes place during a Fourth of July celebration at the house, and both the Toussaint’s family history and its future is irrevocably altered. Two years after, following her son’s suicide in the house, Angela returns and finally starts to unravel what happened and put things right.
Masterful storytelling combining multiple perspectives across different timelines, witchcraft and family curses, the burdens of inherited guilt, trauma, rich history, and mythology, and an overwhelming, palpable sense of stomach-curdling dread present from almost the very first page made this a vividly enthralling read and an intense page-turner, and I’m going to make it my mission in life to read everything author has every written.
Speaking of houses and homes–what’s more homey than a cozy bowl of porridge? Or steel-cut oats, to be more specific!
Here’s a little oatmeal bar I set up yesterday, with all the fixings: dates, pumpkin seeds and almonds, apricots, cream, and sugar. It was perfect for our 70-degree morning…which, if you live in Florida, you know that’s practically freezing, and about as close to autumn as we are likely to get! The little Halloween ramekins were a lovely surprise from Yvan, who picked them up for me from Le Creuset! I can’t seem to find them on the Le Creuset site (though he assures me there were quite a few in stock at the actual store and they weren’t exactly flying off the shelves) but if you are looking for them, it’s this set.