August Horror list

A list of media I hope to consume this August: Watching: The first 3 Alien movies The Autopsy of Jane Doe (movie) Channel Zero (series) Banshee Chapter(movie) As Above So Below (movie) original Blair Witch (movie Session 9 (movie) The Girl With All the Gifts (movie) Reading: Hellblazer (graphic novel series) Joplin's Ghost by Tananarive Due The Between by Tananarive Due Ghosts of Georgetown by Elizabeth Huntsinger Wolf (book) More Ghosts of Georgetown by Elizabeth Huntsinger Wolf (book) Battle Hill Bolero by Daniel José Older (book) "The Devil in America" by Kai Ashante Wilson (book) The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg (book) Listening: American Murder Song (album) No Sleep Podcast (podcast) Darkest Night (podcast) Alice Isn't Dead (podcast) Welcome to Nightvale (podcast) Coraline by Neil Gaiman (audiobook) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audiobook) Wow. There's no way I'm getting through all of that. I'll see how much I CAN get through, though....

Making a Pet of Your Monster

WARNING: Contains spoilers for The Babadook The monster in the Australian horror movie The Babadook is a metaphor for grief. Essie, the main character, is overwhelmed by her grief for her husband, although it's been nearly seven years. He died in an accident while driving her to the hospital to give birth to their son Sam. In his entire life, Sam has never had a party on his birthday. His mother can't handle it. Instead, he shares birthday parties with his cousin, who was born only a week or so before. For their seventh, though, his cousin wants her own party, a princess party, and Essie must figure out how to cope with that. More than that, though, she can barely stand to hear her husband mentioned, going brittle and changing the subject as fast as possible. Sam, meanwhile, deals with the uncertainty, fear, and pervasive grief in his life by believing strongly in monsters... and believing that he must protect others from them. He's become quite ingenious about it, building shoulder-mounted catapults and dart-firing crossbows. Unfortunately, he takes these to school, where they consider him disturbed and want to take him out of classes, threatening to isolate him even further than his life already does. Rather than allow this, Essie takes Sam out of school entirely. Then Sam finds a pop-up book in the house, called Mister Babadook, and wants her to read it to him at bedtime. It is deeply creepy, of course. If it's in a word or it's in a look You can't get rid of the Babadook If you're a really clever one And you know what it is to see Then you can make friends With a special one, A friend of you and me. His name is Mister Babadook And this is his book. A rumbling sound then 3 sharp knocks ba BA-ba DOOK! DOOK! DOOK! That's when you'll know that he's around You'll see him if you look This is what he wears on top He's funny, don't you think? See him in your room at night And you won't sleep a wink. I'll soon take off my funny disguise (Take heed of what you've read...) And once you see what's underneath... You're going to wish you were DEAD. Much of the plot that follows is standard, although very well done, horror fare. The Babadook is haunting them. The boy believes, but the mother doesn't, giving the Babadook more power. The mother, somewhat unusually, goes to the police... but sees the shadow of the Babadook in the station as well. Her relationships crumble, isolating them both in the house with the monster. And then it takes her over. And then the twist ending. They don't get rid of the Babadook. They can't, as per the book. Instead, they get him into the basement... and keep him there, as a pet, feeding him wriggling things from under the earth, as befits an essentially chthonic monster. Essie comes to terms with her great grief, and is no longer consumed by it, but finds a way to live with it. As a witch, I feel like this metaphor monster has fantastic potential for certain kinds of work. A way to externalize and come to terms with, even befriend and make a pet of, whatever it is that's eating you up. I want to get a wooden doll's wardrobe and make a little place for my own Mister Babadook to hide, paint him inside it and staining the whole thing dark. Tease out the spirit of what haunts me, name it, trap it, feed it carefully, make an ally of it. Powerful work. Maybe someday I'll even do it. For now, I'm not haunted strongly enough by something I can name. I have other ways of dealing with depression and mania, which are the biggest things that have dogged me. Fear holds me back sometimes, and maybe that's what I'll eventually do. Or maybe it will be grief that eats at me. We'll see. But it's a technique to have in my pocket if I need it. Really, though, I'm so tempted to have a pet Babadook that I almost want to summon up some outside spirit that fits the bill and name that Babadook. That's not really my style, though. I don't want to bind spirits that way....

August Horrorshow

I think I'll do something a little differently this year, and keep track of what ghost stories and horror tales I consume. I'll write it up as I go and post it at the end of the month. (And now August is over, so I'm posting it.) Watching: Stranger Things, Netflix series, August 4-5 - Excellent TV, but not as scary as I'd expected. Young geeky boy in a small town in Indiana in the early 80s goes missing. Young girl with no hair turns up around the same time and can do strange things. People at the local vaguely-named government facility are freaking out and wearing containment suits. Creepiness ensues. Highlights include a Christmas light talking board, the totally awesome girl, the also awesome big sister, and lots and lots of D&D and Tolkien references. 8 out of 10, would watch again. Still, not as creepy as I wanted it to be. Not sure if that's me or the show. The Babadook, movie, August 5 - This is the one I didn't get to before August ended last year. Australian horror movie. A widowed mother and her sx-year-old son are struggling in so many ways. One of them is that the boy not only believes in monsters, but is convinced that he has to protect other people from them. So he builds shoulder-mounted catapults and dart-loaded crossbows. And takes them to school. Weird kid, obviously has some problems. Then one day he finds a pop-up book called Mr. Babadook in the house and asks his mother to read it with him. It tells about the really quite scary Mr. Babadook who, if you let him in, will make you want to die. If you don't believe in him, though, he only gets stronger... Boy believes, mom does not. Bad shit goes down, and there at the end there's a really interesting POV shift. I liked it a lot. The mom was good, the kid was good, the Babadook was an awesome monster and I want to adopt him. I was not as scared as I expected to be, even though I watched with my finger on the pause button. I'm really starting to think something's changed in me since last year. The Witch, movie, August 12. In Puritan New England, a family is banished from their town for having a variant view of the Bible. In the wilderness, things start to go wrong. A blight destroys their crops. While the eldest daughter is playing peek-a-boo with the (unbaptized, because of the whole banishment thing, this is a plot point) baby, and between one moment and the next, he's simply gone. Next, the young twins start playing with the black goat, talking to him, and refusing to obey their elder sister. The eldest boy goes missing in the woods overnight, and returns desperately ill, possibly bewitched. The children are convinced there's a witch in the woods. Good movie, very good, but not scary. The Possession, movie, August 12. A girl whose parents are recently divorced finds a dybbuk box, a chest used to imprison an evil Jewish spirit. Somehow, she manages to open the puzzlebox. Black moths, broken glass, white eyes, floating kid, convulsions, creepy voices. For a change, Jewish and not Christian folklore, including a Jewish exorcism (which I have no way of knowing how accurate it was). OK, this one was scary. I got through it only hitting pause once, though, and that was for other reasons. Big moths are going to freak me out for a while, and I suspect I'll be having that dream where I lose all my teeth sometime soon. The Shrine, movie, August 20. A reporter, against her boss's explicit instructions, takes an intern and her photographer boyfriend to Albania to investigate the disappearance of a young backpacker -- and five others over the past fifty years. Outside a small village, they find a strange cloud of dense fog hovering in and above the trees. Inevitably, they try to explore, and see something really disturbing: a statue of a demon that moves and bleeds from the eyes. The villagers, of course, have already tried to run them off once before, and now begin hunting them. There's a whole thing with an eyeless spiked mask and a sledgehammer and creepy priests. By far the goriest movie I've seen so far this month, and the one with the most jump scares, but I wasn't particularly impressed with it. The Lost Boys, movie, August 20. The cheeseball 80s classic vampire movie. I don't like vampire fiction, but even I'll watch this, since my wife wanted to. Silly, not scary, but I'm counting it. Monsters. Horns, August 23, movie. Despite the Halloween release date and the marketing, this turns out not to be a horror...

When August Comes Around

Aaaand it's back. August. The month I hate the most, which is also the month most sacred to my goddess. Whee! Last week was hot, hot enough that I was unwell, and much hotter in the house that outside (as it always is; we have big west-facing windows and little ability to get a cross-breeze going, resulting in the house becoming a greenhouse). But overall, it's been a fairly pleasant summer, weather-wise. The June Gloom continued through most of July, and over the weekend it cooled back off. It was 55F when I left the house this morning! Woo! This August I will once again be honoring Hekate by reading, watching and listening to ghost stories and horror tales. For reading, first I'm finishing up my current book, The Burning City by Alaya Dawn Johnson, which has a bunch of death spirits running around. Then on to the ghost stories! I have two megapacks of ghost stories to pick from, plus Ghosts by Gaslight, ed Jack Dann and Nick Gevers, which is steampunk ghost stories, and This House is Haunted by John Boyne. (ETA: Also, Irish Ghost Tales by Tony Locke.) For viewing, the list includes The Babadook, The Shrine, The Witch, Horns, and The Possession (wow, lots of definite articles). Also giving Stranger Things a try, which may or may not count as horror, depending on who you ask. And for listening, well, I've already been enjoying the No Sleep Podcast, which is a podcast of horror stories from Reddit. (Not horror stories about Reddit, of which there are many, but horror stories posted to Reddit.) This year there's less of a ghost theme and more of a scary-stuff theme, but I think that's suitable....