Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanks Be To Horror, Part 1

All over social media, I've been seeing these posts throughout November in which people post day by day things they are thankful for, as in "Nov 15: I'm thankful for Starbucks gingerbread lattes, they make my entire existence worthwhile!" Now, I'm not one to look down on that, and I'm certainly all about joining in any kind of meme or list-a-thon, so I thought I'd do something similar here on Fascination with Fear.  But I'm not going to do day-by-day postings, I'm just doing the whole damn thing at once.  As in, there are thirty days in November - hence, I'm posting thirty things I'm thankful for, with a horror twist.

I'm already eternally thankful for the big three: my husband, family and friends. And everyone already knows how much I love my cats, Bob Marley, spaghetti, and the Outer Banks. That's all common knowledge, so I'm not boring you with any of that.  What follows is a list of things that make me the happiest about horror, whether it is a single film or a sub-genre, a character or a book I love....it's all here.  This is how this horror fan says how grateful I am to be a part of this wonderful genre we all know and love.

1) Stephen King ~ Yes, I thought I'd start with one of the biggies.  King shaped my love of horror at a very tender age. I was probably eleven or so when I first picked up The Shining and I'm not kidding you when I say it changed my life. And he keeps upping the ante. This year's Joyland only goes to prove he still "has it" and the release of Doctor Sleep (the long-awaited sequel to The Shining) shows he still has a love of the game. So, thank you Stephen, for being your warped, twisted, brilliant self.  Thanks also for being a truly stand-up guy who gives back, as well.  Things like that do not go unnoticed.

2) Indie Horror ~ While I always ramble about the big name movies that everyone else does (because yes, Psycho, Jaws and The Exorcist really ARE that good), I still love to find an independent film that knocks my socks off and is unlike anything an obnoxiously over-hyped major studio film puts out.  For instance, films like Lake Mungo, The Pact, Absentia, Midnight Son, and Jug Face are just a few of the many movies that have blown me away in recent years and it is the independent filmmaker that I most admire, toiling over his tiny production with the heart and soul that is missing from most big productions. Thanks go out to every indie writer/director/producer that makes strides to entertain us.  I for one, appreciate the hell out of it.

3) Norman Bates ~ Might as well get this one out of the way because you all know it was coming anyway. Norman is my absolute favorite character in film, any genre. And though I enjoy young Freddie Highmore as the younger version of the ultimate mama's boy in television's Bates Motel, the brilliance in which it is played in the Psycho film series by Anthony Perkins is chillingly awesome. I've come to realize I think I would have fallen dangerously head over heels in love with Norman if he were real. And that's the scariest thing of all.

4) Horror television ~ While we're talking about Bates Motel, I may as well thank the television gods for the plethora of amazing genre shows that are on these days.  Is it just me or is horror on TV becoming extremely fashionable in recent times?  With the undisputed king of television The Walking Dead pulling in insanely high numbers (beating all other shows, even the basic channels), someone out there is finally getting it.  And the shows continue to pile up: Bates Motel, Dracula, The Vampire Diaries, Hannibal, True Blood, Hemlock Grove, Game of Thrones, Witches of East End, The Following, Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural, The Originals, Being Human, The Returned, Grimm, Under the Dome, and of course the fabulously delicious American Horror Story....there's no end in sight.  Which is awesome. My DVR can't keep up!

5) Soundtracks/Scores ~ Most of the music I listen to, be it instrumental scores or alternative rock songs, comes from horror movies.  I'll hear a song during the end credits and I am downloading it off iTunes ten minutes later. I have an embarrassingly large collection of movie scores, from Jaws and Psycho to more obscure titles like Dark Remains, Half Light, and Rogue, to really hard to find titles like Psycho II and The Woman in Black (1989). I've also downloaded a ton of tunes from horror TV like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and True Blood.  I guess I like to be reminded of my favorite horror all the time. It's also how I discover new music, because I detest the radio. That's not crazy, right?

6) Jimmy Stewart ~ It might seem strange to put an actor who was so famous in film, in general, up here on a horror list. But his films with Alfred Hitchcock are the stuff of legend.  Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 ), and Vertigo (1958) are four of Hitch's best, and I'm certain Stewart was the reason for that.  Rear Window is sheer brilliance, and one of my favorite films.  But Vertigo is the one I seem to come back to most often for another look. It's captivating and mysterious, with Stewart doing some of his best work. On a side note, Stewart was born only 25 miles away from where I live. I've seen where he grew up and live in the same area, so I feel closer to him somehow. It sounds sappy and it is, but it makes me happy, so there.

7) The Shining ~ As I indicated above, The Shining has been one of the biggest influences on me in horror, all around. The book is my second favorite of anything I've read (Straub's Ghost Story is first) and the palpable fear within that book just spreads like wildfire till the exciting conclusion.  Likewise, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) is such a slow-burning, tension-filled film that had me at the opening credits. I haven't really rambled on about it any any length on the blog because everyone already knows what a brilliant piece of filmmaking it is (even though King dislikes it I feel it stands alone well too, without telling the exact same story King penned).  And even though many say Jack Nicholson went over the top in his performance as Jack Torrance, I think it is the perfect mix of crazy and controlled.

8) The Theater Experience ~ I'm thankful that I still feel a need to entertain myself by going to the movies and seeing horror on the big screen. I generally go see horror films alone because my hubby never feels the need to spend his hard-earned cash on something he can watch in the comfort of his own home in three months. That said, I love going to see a film a few weeks after its release, just about when they are ready to stop showing it.  I can generally have the whole theater to myself.  I've seen tons of films this way and it's a creepy but rewarding experience. This year, among other, I saw The Conjuring and You're Next alone.  I totally dig the feeling of isolation and fear.

9) Dark Jewelry ~ By dark I mean things like bats, crows, and owls.  I'm very much into these kinds of expressions of horror and own several pieces. I'm always looking for something new, and this year I bought a spiderweb necklace with dangling spider. I also love those skull bracelets that are popular and I have a penchant for crescent moons as well.  While I never go huge and cumbersome and I'm not much for coffins, crosses, dragons, or big skulls, I do like subtle accents here and there. It's the real me.

10) The Criterion Collection ~ In the last few years I've been collecting some of the great films Criterion is offering, and they have plenty of horror to choose from.  These editions of classics are top-notch special editions that generally have a nice selection of bonus features and are quite frankly the definitive version of the film. This year I splurged on myself and bought five: The Uninvited (1941), Carnival of Souls (1962), Eyes Without A Face (1960), The Vanishing (1988) and Sisters (1973). I also own Diabolique (1955), Kwaidan (1964), Rosemary's Baby (1968), and The Devil's Backbone (2001). The film I am most waiting for a Criterion release?  1945's Dead of Night!  Hopefully someday!

I'll be back with part two......


Rg Lovecraft said...

Hey Christine! I love this idea AND I love your list. I too regularly feel the need to express my gratitude for the genre on my blog, sometimes I wonder if my readers think I'm an absolute drunken emotional mess or not.

So that being said, I think I might be stealing this idea from you.

Keep it spooky!

Jennifurla said...

Nice list, I'm moving Absentia up my list of movies to see soon!

Christine Hadden said...

Rg: Steal away! I love to read others' lists and find out what makes them tick. Throw a link my way if you do a list, I'm anxious to see it :)

Jenn: Absentia is one of my favorite films in recent years. Very unsettling. I don't know anyone who hasn't liked it :)

Marie Robinson said...

Christine, I didn't like Absentia... I'm sorry!

Christine Hadden said...

Hey, that's ok. To each his own. You're the first person to tell me you weren't fond of it, so now I know there are some out there that didn't care for it.
I still love you ;)