Thursday, October 27, 2022



Art is a way for us to express and explore the darkness that lives within myth and minds. I'd like to feature some of those strange internal landscapes and their inhabitants as depicted by artist Theodora Daniela Capat.

Originally from Romania, Capat weaves magic worlds out of a variety of mediums--ink, watercolor, charcoal, pencil, oil, and digital--and operates out of an island castle in Sweden called Vaxholm Fortress that can only be accessed by ferry. It sounds incredibly magical and inspiring, and it shows through her immersive imagery.

Capat is a very ambitious artist who values the fundamentals of art and is passionate about teaching them to students who she will tutor hands-on and side-by-side in the castle in which she resides. Some of her favorite themes and studies include culture, anatomy and animals (real and mythical), and mortality.

"Memento Mori" oil painting

"Apparition at a full moon" The creature depicted in this watercolor is an 'iele', a type of Romanian forest spirit that are only visible in moonlight.

"Sun Bringer Kisosen" This charcoal piece is an interpretation of a Native American solar deity who takes the form of an eagle, according to the Abenaki people.

This pencil drawing is called "Serenity". Capat shared that this piece was inspired by intense dreams of floating she was having at the time.

"Pestilence" charcoal

Capat's Website - visit to view the gallery, shop, and find information on the artist Vaxholm Castle

YouTube Channel - you may watch Capat create her artworks via her uploaded livestreams

ArtStation - digital artworks and video game/character concepts

Instagram - the artist is quite actively sharing posts and live streams of her creative process (@capatart)

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

BARBARIAN (2022) - a.k.a. Don't Go In The Basement, Part 734

 Barbarian is a film that in horror circles, was making waves and selling tickets - both of which are a big deal for a genre pic.  I was just as excited to see this one as the next guy, but I'm not much for heading to the theater just yet so I waited patiently and it finally arrived on HBO Max.   I hadn't seen anything but a teaser trailer, which is what I prefer with these "surprise hit" type of movies.  

After viewing, I realized it was nothing like what I thought it was going to be, and while that is not a bad thing, it was a little off-putting.

Tess (an excellent Georgina Campbell) rents an Air B&B while she is in Detroit for a job interview.  Arriving well after dark and in the pouring rain, she finds that the key is missing from the secure box on the porch.  After voicing her concerns to both herself and to an unhelpful voice message at the rental company, she heads back to her car with the intent to leave when she sees a light come on in the house. 

Returning to the door, it soon opens and Keith (Bill Skarsgard) is standing there explaining that he too, rented the house for the same time as Tess.  At once we are confused and scared for Tess.  Even more so when she does the unthinkable-- goes inside.  Worse yet, after some conversation -- including Keith mentioning how bad the neighborhood is, if she didn't notice -- she makes the monumental mistake of saying she will go ahead and stay also.  Of course I am screaming in disbelief at this, because what woman would believe things like "there's a convention in town and there won't be any rooms available"?  It's Detroit! And seriously - it seems strange that a small rental in a bad section of Detroit would be double booked by accident?  [Side note:  yet another film showcasing derelict Detroit.  Can't we ever give this city a break? So many films highlight the wasteland that it had become (It Follows, Only Lovers Left Alive, Don't Breathe, and now Barbarian...I'm sure there are more!) that it is pretty depressing.  Okay, I digress...]  

Once Tess and Keith establish barriers -- she'll take the bedroom, he'll take the couch --  they eventually are sharing some wine and conversing about similar interests.  All the while I'm wondering what implement of destruction Keith will use when he maims and tortures her later on.

But wait!  It doesn't quite happen that way! Through the night when Tess is sleeping, her bedroom door opens and wakes her.  She hears Keith out on the couch in the grips of an obvious nightmare.  So has someone else been in the house?  Is someone STILL in the house? 

What Barbarian does is set you up.  They trick you into thinking this is just one of those movies where a woman ends up fighting for her life from a serial killer or the likes.  But this film is so much more than that.  It has an immediate sense of dread from the time Tess arrives at the house to the moment she heads into the basement....which I will not elaborate on lest I spoil anything.  Suffice it to say that things do not go well from that moment on.  

While it is exceedingly difficult to think of Bill Skarsgard as anyone but Pennywise, he does a great job here of making you unsure if he is a good guy or the villain.  Georgina Campbell is exceptional in her role as Tess.  Her uncertainty while trying to decide what to do upon meeting Keith is precisely the same feeling any woman alone would have upon arriving at an unfamiliar city and finding the rental already occupied.  Whereas I would have turned around and left and kept driving until I found the nearest Motel 6, Tess does take a chance on Keith - which is pretty unrealistic but necessary to the plot. 

The basement.  What can I say about the basement?  Nothing without giving away plot details.  So you will have to watch this one to delve further.  And hey! I didn't even mention Justin Long or his role as a disgraced actor.  I can't think of a way to tell you anything about his presence without spoilers - but he does have a big role here and his acting is on point! 

I will say there are a few flashback scenes in which we see the house in question in more lucrative times in the city.  I am not sure these scenes were necessary to the story to be honest.  I think the less told the better, and I would have been fine without the obligatory "here's why things are the way they are" plot point. 

But other than that, I feel Barbarian is a film that will be remembered for its uniqueness and its relevancy to the times.  Who hasn't been hesitant about a rental property?  Particularly if they have a creepy basement, right?  (This is why I rent a beach house every year on a barrier island - where it is NOT possible to have a basement.)  

Barbarian is a horror film in two acts.  And those two acts are as different as night and day.  I was buffaloed into believing I had things figured out.  And what a delicious surprise to find out I hadn't!

~Christine Hadden

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Return of the living blog!

What scares you?  Is it snakes?  Something under the bed?
What gives you goosebumps? What makes your heart race?
 Is it something strange? Or worse, is it something normal? 
 Do you avoid being afraid, or do you seek it out? 
 Does examining fear release it, or deepen it? 

 Within Gothic fiction, there is a literary distinction between horror and terror. Generally, it’s accepted that terror is what occurs leading up to a horrific experience. Terror is anxiety, anticipation of an event, and horror is felt at the time of the event. 

In a scary movie, terror is when the creepy music kicks in, and horror is when the monster bursts through the door. 

 However, horror and terror share the same root–fear. Fear is the driving emotion behind it all. And what is fear? And why is it felt?

 Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat, which in turn triggers a physical response. 
 This is the fight or flight response, which is carried out by the body’s sympathetic nervous system. The brain picks up on a potentially dangerous situation and relays the message to the rest of the body to prepare so that you can either run away to safety, or stand your ground and fight. This involves increasing heart and respiratory rate, dilation of pupils and narrowing peripheral visions, altering blood flow to muscles, and temporarily suspending digestion.

 So fear is actually meant to be helpful. It’s a tool… 
However, many of us don’t have to experience survival in the traditional sense, we don’t often have to deal with direct threats upon our life, so we as humans, through evolving and moving up the food chain and the advancements of society… now we are able to fear all sorts of things…. rational, irrational, and downright strange. 
When we get to the more irrational side of fear, where the fear experienced is disproportionate to the threat... It's called a phobia. 

Here is a small list of phobias some may find unusual: 

 Ancraophobia–fear of the wind 
 Koumpounophobia–fear of buttons 
 Apeirophobia–fear of infinity 
 Numerophobia–fear of numbers 
 There’s even panphobia–fear of everything!

But doesn’t fear also intrigue us? Obviously, tons of us find interest and enjoyment in horror films and literature, the paranormal, and general strangeness and morbidity. Over time, homo sapiens developed advanced cognitive abilities unique to our species; we can think about thinking. We can examine and analyze our own thoughts and emotions, and if you–like Christine and I–are fascinated by fear, then you are in the right place. 

 Whether you are new to our blog, or an old friend, you can come here to read and take part in film and book reviews, discussions on art and music, and explorations on folklore, psychology, and general morbidity, from the perspective of two women who have been–and continue to be–fascinated by fear for a lifetime.

~Marie Robinson