In my second book, Monkey Heart, my brother Iggy has a bit of a breakdown. His old girlfriend, Running Deer sweeps back into town and asks if he’d take her back. This was after she turned down his marriage proposal and took off to find herself out west.
Oh, and she’s pregnant, but he’s not the father.
It’s a hot mess.
I find him sitting on the floor, in the dark, listening to every sad song I’ve ever heard.
A good friend suggested that I could put together a playlist.
Now, I think she was thinking about meditations–and I will, it’s a great idea! I’ve got lots of meditation music as well as guided meditations.
But Iggy’s Top Sobber Hits came to mind. (‘Cause I’m keen on 70s and 80s mush, too.)
We enjoy our daily strolls much and I’ve gotten to really love this cow field. It’s nothing grand and yet ever changing. We’ve got three sandhill cranes who live nearby year round and deer that wander about. Sometimes cows, sometimes not. Bit of breeze, more so than in the woods.
At first glance, an empty field.
An empty field haphazardly filled with cow patties like a drunken checkerboard.
As always, so much that came before.
A leaf falls.
Distant rooster crows.
Flock of birds silently swoop by.
Way in the distance, the gray sandhills drop from the gray skyand casually stroll.
A leaf falls.
Birds twitter nearby.
A couple miles away, the Most Disgruntled Employee, an eighteen wheeled rig complains along the interstate.
The cow patties rest. Or do they?
Perhaps under each pile, a crew of dung beetles like Snow White’s comrades, is whistling while they work their pickaxes.
Some heaps resemble sand castles; others quite symmetrically round.
The cows are in another pasture this morning, doing their cow things.
Yesterday seven calves, shoulder to shoulder, awaited–what?
A photo shoot?
No doubt, I disappointed.
Breeze swings a tendril of Spanish moss.
The sandhills have disappeared behind the red tractor.
(Yes, WCW, so much depends on that red tractor, too, we know.)
Thought I’d toss out a random selection of offerings for this Halloween weekend: some funny ones, some spooky, some downright cheesy. Wow. this took a while. Made it to 15, in no particular order. Have you seen them all?
Young Frankenstein (1987)
Gene Wilder, Terri Garr, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Madeleine Kahn
Hilarious homage to the classic Frankenstein films, essentially, a full-length film loaded with memorable lines. A must see if you haven’t seen it before; a must see again if you have.
The ‘Burbs (1989)
Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, Corey Feldman
directed by Joe Dante
Funny film about suspicious neighbors in a cul-de-sac. Could watch this again and again. Even the soundtrack is perfection.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Written by/Directed by/ Starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
Hilarious mockumentary about the day to day life of a flat of vampires.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Directed by Joel Schumaker
Jason Patric, Dianne Wiest, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Keiffer Sutherland
A single mom with two boys moves to a small town in California. Her older son soon falls in with the wrong crowd, a band of vampires. Great fun with a rocking soundtrack.
Troll Hunter (2010)
Directed by André Øvredal
Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen
(Norwegian with subtitles)
An investigation into bear attacks takes a wild turn as a group of student documentarians uncover a secret. If you watch the trailer, this may look violent or scary; it has its moments, but is mostly a funny thrill ride. Maybe all that old folklore wasn’t just made up stories afterall.
Carnival of Souls (1964)
Directed by Herk Harvey
Unscary but atmospheric horror/drama –final scenes quite memorable…
Some find this film too sluggish. It is a slow-burner with a dreamlike feel to it.
A woman is involved in a car crash. She recovers and stumbles around in a disoriented state, feeling a strange gravitation to a theme park on a wharf. I would highly recommend seeing the film AND the making of it documentary that comes with the DVD. The back story about the filming and location add to the weirdness of the film itself. The gorgeous carnival burned down not long after filming –the second massive fire on the wharf… This was Candace Holligoss’s only film. Now a cult classic, it was not an immediate hit… A must see if you like artsy-fartsy films.
HOUSE (HAU-SU) 1977
This must be seen with the making-of documentary as the back story is essentially complementary to the film itself. This experimental director asked his daughter what scared her. She told him. The result is a scary film for children with homemade special effects, pop music, cartoon segments… it’s weird, creepy, funny, and totally unlike anything else– quite groundbreaking for its time.
Just discovered this one! Trailer looks super fun– lush comedy. Just ordered. Should be here on Halloween! Woot! Premise–this vampire has been married for a couple hundred years and the marriage has gotten stale. The Count goes in for some therapy…
Skeleton Key (2010)
Directed by Iain Softley
Kate Hudson, Peter Saarsgard
I worried that this was going to be too scary for me when I first watched it. Nope. Sucked me in right away and I was hooked. Right to the wild ending. Perfect for folks who have a lower threshold for scary but still want to get the creeps.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Written/Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
Is it possible that you haven’t seen this? Terrific film about a young boy and a therapist, each working through issues. Some spooky moments but all in all, not very scary, but with a whopping twist. Brilliant film.
The Legacy (1978)
Directed by Richard Marquand
Sam Elliott, Katherine Ross, Charles Gray, Margaret Tyzack
My favorite 70s horror film. An American woman is summoned to a homestead home in England where relatives she hardly knew she had are gathered together. The patriarch is dying; only one can inherit. But what is the inheritance? Creepy low budget with some memorable lines and moments. You can try to run away, but all roads lead right back to the mansion. Bonus: Rather remarkably, the film is very true to the book.
Shadow of the Vampire (2010)
Director: E. Elias Murhige
John Malkovitch, Willem Dafoe
Not scary but atmospheric, more drama than horror with bits of comedy, this is a favorite of mine.
The premise: what if the vampire in the original Nosferatu film was real? It’s a problem when your lead actor wants to eat the film crew…
KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
Director: Gordon Hessler
Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Anthony Zerbe as “Abner Devereaux”
Okay, no this isn’t a great, must-see film. I was just wondering if you were paying attention. It’s super campy and actually the reason that I became a KISS fan. I mean, come on, this is CHEESY. If they can laugh at themselves, well, as always, Gene can laugh his way to the bank. It’s a cult classic. Dare I admit that I’ve seen it quite a few times? Favorite scene: the unpleasant bikers going through the house of horrors. Dee, Chopper, and Slime get their comeuppance. Peter Criss gets a nice “Beth” solo. KISS saves the day, defeating robots made to replace them.
Midnight Lace (1968)
Directed by David Miller
Doris Day, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowell
I’ve done a fuller review of this already, but if you want a spooky thriller, this one isn’t scary but quite atmospheric. Someone is stalking the recently wed Mrs. Preston but no one believes her. Rex Harrison was deliberately frosty to Doris Day, who had a nervous breakdown on film for real, having been in an abusive relationship herself. It was the only scary movie she ever acted in.
Directed by Henry Sellick/Written by Neil Gaiman
Horror/Fantasy cartoon for kids but quite creepy
Big ol’ weenie me, discovered this film fairly recently. Was surprised at how unsettling this is. Guess today’s kids are jaded so this isn’t scary.
The gist of the story is that a young girl, whose family recently moved, discovers a door in the new house that leads to an alternate universe.
I was in the mood for a mystery thriller and this one fit the bill in some ways while missing it in others. The film is based on the novel The Blunderer written by Patricia Highsmith in 1954. Highsmith is also known for writing The Talented Mr. Ripley and episodes of Armchair Detective, Tales of the Unexpected, Chillers, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and that’s a small portion of her writing credits.
The plot is contrived; the ending–well, let’s say not entirely satisfying.
I’d give it three monkeys but for the acting and period design which are both excellent and bump it to a 4-monkey rating.
Patrick Wilson and Jessica Biel are the leads, as Mr. and Mrs. Stackhouse. They are perfect in their oddities and dysfunction alone and together. She’s unhappy, neurotic, suspicious, which pushes him inevitably towards the beautiful and available young Haley Bennet who is terrific as Stackhouse’s girlfriend.
I’m surprised that Eddie Marsan (I knew him from the series Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell) did not get top billing too, as he is a scene stealer, in my opinion, holding back a world of malice behind his glasses.
Mr. Stackhouse is a successful architect who writes crime stories in his free time. His hobby is collecting true crime articles for reference. Things go south quickly when his own wife is found dead at the scene of a recent murder and it becomes apparent that Mr. Stackhouse had previously gone to meet the key suspect. It’s possible Mrs. Stackhouse killed herself, but an obsessed cop is not so sure. Stackhouse is a terrible liar. It was unclear to me why he seems to deliberately make people more suspicious of him. His obsession with the murder and the creepy Mr. Kimmel only makes the cop more anxious to prove him guilty.
Have to assume they intended the play on meaning with the title: a kind-of murder or a type of murder? Did he kill his wife? This title works better for me than The Blunderer for sure.
Honestly, the ending doesn’t quite do it for me, BUT overall, the film kept me guessing. I loved the noir-ish atmosphere. The characters are complicated. Even though I wasn’t enamored with any of them–oh, hold up, I take that back–the girlfriend is likeable–but there was enough mystery to keep me engaged.
Living out in the woods, I delight in the ephemeral nature of and variety of mushrooms that abound. They push forth with determination and are gone almost before I can go fetch a camera. On my list to learn more about them and identify them.
Same tree now, as seen from opposite end. It has been fascinating watching its decay and observing all the life that this dead tree has supported.
I have a confession. I’ve never read any Daphne du Maurier. I plan to remedy this soon. She concocts impressive plots and they’ve been made into legendary films.
Saw Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) as a kid of course; fabulous.
Don’t Look Now (1974) with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, well, wow. A fine example of how parents had no idea what we kids were watching. I saw it as a young teen and it scared me silly. It remains one of the weirdest movies that I like. Haunting. Dreamlike. Creepy. I recently got the book, but haven’t gotten to it yet. Eager to know how true to the book the film was. It’s high on the to-read-next-pile.
Rebecca (1940) with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, and a small part by George Sanders who is so much fun to dislike. Also a Hitchcock classic. Perfection.
But last night, watched My Cousin Rachel for the first time. Had never heard of it! How is that possible? Wowee. In the gothic tradition of Rebecca, but directed by David O. Selznick, it should stand firmly with the greats, Rebecca (1940; Wuthering Heights (1939); Laura (1944) Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney; and Gaslight (1944) Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton, Charles Boyer.
The plot is simple enough: a young man (Richard Burton) is raised by his devoted uncle, Ambrose Ashley. His uncle leaves for Italy, but does not return as planned, instead, he marries a distant cousin and remains in Italy. Not long after, the nephew receives two letters indicating that the uncle is unwell and suggests that his wife is killing him. The nephew packs off to Italy only to arrive too late, the uncle has just died and his wife has vacated their home.
It’s all very suspicious. The nephew vows to get revenge. All seems straightforward until he meets his cousin Rachel; she is not at all the gold-digging viper he imagined.
Or is she?
Don’t want to give too much away. This film grabbed me and kept me guessing. Just love it!
And check out how young Richard Burton was! “Introducing Richard Burton!”
The stunning film is in black and white. The cinematography is gorgeous. The acting is superb–and it really was acting, as they seem to have convincing chemistry when in real life Burton had issues with his prima donna leading lady.
As with all films it seems, there has been a remake and even a TV mini series. Can’t speak to them; haven’t seen them. Well worth a gander at this original. Atmospheric, and I’ve heard, Burton portrayed a more refined Philip than Daphne du Maurier created. Not surprising.
Hi folks! Apologies for the recent silence. 2022 has been a tough year. Crafty was diagnosed with epilepsy in November and we’ve had a rough time with his cluster seizures. Getting through a wave right now. Meanwhile, my boyfriend has been trying to get his mother into Hospice and a nursing home. You wouldn’t believe the setbacks. I could write a book. Don’t want to, but my first thought is a reboot of Stephen King’s Misery in the Times of Covid.
I hope to do a mid-summer eBook sale on all three Haint books, and will definitely do a blitz for the Christmas book this autumn.
I haven’t started another Monkey book though I have ideas for another one. It will be more like the first one, Monkey Mind. Scruffy Nobthatcher the cryptozoologist is found dead at a Cryptid convention and Haint’s new love interest, Buster is the prime suspect.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on short stories including a ghost story set in the Gion district of Kyoto, Japan in the early 90s (when I lived there.) It will be dropping on Kindle Vella –maybe as soon as September.
What does Jiko Bukken mean? Well, there’s a practical concept in real estate wherein if a property has had a troubled past, violence, lingering illness, death–well, let’s face it, most folks wouldn’t want to live there. So special property agents will rent or sell the property at a deep discount hoping that the new tenant will last a while. Once the new tenant moves on, the property is no longer listed as “stigmatized.” So there is a whole market for property with “history”.
I also got a funny true story picked up on a podcast called Pillow Talk–as soon as I hear when that is going live, I’ll share it.
Big news of this year for me was getting a short story published in the anthology The Book of Carnacki. William Hope Hodgson created Thomas Carnacki, the occult detective at the turn of the last century. It so happened that I had just finished reading the stories and thought, “I ought to write a humorous pastiche of this, with a twist.” I did. And not two weeks later, there was a call for submissions for, of all things, Carnacki stories. Mine was accepted.
I stumbled on this film at the library recently. Had never heard of it. Perhaps it’s a little slow for today’s standards, and reviews are luke warm, but if you like Hitchcock films, or films from the 60s and 70s in general, this is well worth a look-see. I enjoyed Dame Elizabeth Taylor in this.
A stormy night. Ellen looks out at the decrepit windows of the house next door. The shutters are closed but perhaps one is banging. In a flash of lightning, she sees a bloody body sitting in a chair by the window. She screams and calls for her husband, but of course, by the time he looks out, he sees nothing but the decrepit and closed shutters. She insists that they must call the police. As you might expect, the police arrive, search the house, find nothing. And so begins with what seems to be yet-another-wife-being-gaslit story which may lead you to lose patience with it… yeah, yeah, yeah, okay, either the creepy neighbor dude is up to something, or the husband is gaslighting her. Fine. We get it. Let’s move on.
Oh, it will get on with it! Have a little patience. The ending is worth it.
This was Elizbeth Taylor’s only performance in a “horror” movie. It’s pretty tame for a horror film, but it does qualify. I’d consider it giallo-esque, but then I’ve been deep diving into gialli lately. (Giallo = Italian mystery/slasher film)
Night Watch was based on a play by Lucille Fletcher, who also wrote Sorry, Wrong Number.