Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Monsters’

Hannibal: Artisanal, organic, absolutely not cruelty-free

December 19, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Monsters, Television No Comments →

Television is so overpopulated with serial killers, you have to wonder how there’s anyone left to make TV shows, much less watch them. There are misogynistic serial killers (the British series The Fall), Lovecraftian serial killers (True Detective season 1), serial killers coveting other people’s families (Those Who Kill), serial killers seeking revenge (Wallander), and even serial killers of serial killers (Dexter).

What does the audience’s fascination with methodical, murderous psychopaths say about the times we live in? I propose a crossover TV series in which the serial killers compete to be the last one standing, and then I would put all my money on Hannibal Lecter. Not only is he the most famous of the lot, crowned with Oscars, with several books and movies to his name, but in the NBC series created by Bryan Fuller, he is the cleverest, most refined, best-dressed, neatest person alive, not to mention a fabulous cook.

Read The Binge, our TV column at Business World.

Art plus money is a spectator sport

September 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Monsters, Movies No Comments →

We had gone to the auction last Saturday expecting something out of North by Northwest.

Given recent news of fraud in the art market—a Luna being sold for Php55 million appears to be in a French auction catalogue for much, much less, only it’s by someone else—we were hoping for someone to yell “Fake!” and start bidding downwards. (Not that we’re suggesting that anything at that auction was less than real. The contested Luna was not part of it.)

Instead, the auction looked like a cockfight, with people in T-shirts and jeans raising numbers on sticks. The paintings were crammed onto the walls, and every plastic chair was taken. “Stay for the Magsaysay-Ho, I bet it goes for Php20M,” said my collector friend, who might as well have been at a basketball championship. (There’s probably a bookie with odds on what the hammer prices will be.)

A small piece listed at Php800,000 went for Php6.9M. It’s enough to make dead artists come back to life and paint some more. In fact they do, except that the actual painting is done by someone else. In a market like this, the genuine-ness of a piece is directly proportional to the price it might fetch: to raise questions of authenticity seems almost rude. You’re killing everyone’s buzz.

We didn’t stay long because the place was packed and we have a horror of crowds. Our friend reports that the Magsaysay-Ho listed at Php2.2M went for Php21M, but the biggest seller that day was the Ronald Ventura painting that went for Php22M.

Watch Vincent and Theo by Robert Altman, which opens with a painting by Van Gogh fetching jillions at an auction in the 1980s, then goes back to Van Gogh’s lifetime when he didn’t sell squat (and his brother Theo was a well-known art dealer).

The Victorian Horror Novel Reading Group reads Frankenstein and Dracula (Updated)

July 01, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Monsters 13 Comments →


We are halfway through Frankenstein. We’d be finished by now but for all the meals and coffees with friends who want empirical evidence that we are alive and “normal” (What is that?). These are inevitably interrupted by people approaching us to say: “You’re alive!” Not only are we alive, but we are healthier than most people: according to our many, many hospital tests, we do not have high blood pressure and our blood sugar is normal. And according to the second opinion of our Chief Mentat and Maester, we did not have encephalitis and do not have cytomegalovirus. Details in the next column.

Frankenstein is fantastic! We now like Mary Shelley better than her husband and most of the Romantics, and she was 18 when she wrote this early science-fiction novel. Our opinion of Frankenstein has been formed and colored by the movie adaptations, so it’s a little shocking to read the original and find that it could be a different movie altogether.

Not that the James Whale movies (See Gods and Monsters starring Ian McKellen in which he does not add an extra syllable to the end of every sentence, and Whatever Happened To Brendan Frasier. It’s about the making of Frankenstein. Avoid the Kenneth Branagh Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with the extended homoerotic wrestling in amniotic fluid featuring Branagh and Robert De Niro. Unless you’re into that.) and Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein (It’s Frankenshteen!) weren’t great, but reading Frankenstein highlights the difference between reading a novel and watching the movie based upon it. The movie you can see unfolding in your head as you read is unique to you. A movie adaptation is other people’s interpretation. That’s why the core fan group always has problems with the adaptation.

Frankenstein reads not just as a cautionary tale about playing god; it is an indictment of the creator. Victor Frankenstein makes his creature and then is horrified by it and abandons it. The creature is left alone to fend for himself, to figure out the complexities of language, to learn how to survive in a very hostile enviroment. His creator shuns him. Why create something in your own image and then abandon it in a world that is indifferent at best, and is trying to kill him at worst?

To be continued. Meanwhile, in Comments, allancarreon and balqis have gone ahead with the discussion of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, focusing on the monumental question: Is Lucy a slut?

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Whether it is due to our recent encounter with brain fever or our fascination with the television series Penny Dreadful we cannot be certain, but suddenly we feel compelled to read the masterworks of 19th century English horror literature, Frankenstein and Dracula. We must admit that despite having seen many film adaptations of the novels by Mary Shelley (including the Mel Brooks classic Young Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker (Gary Oldman in armor that makes him look like a giant insect sends vampire sirens to bite Keanu Reeves and stop him unleashing his British accent), we have never read the source material, for shame (And we were a Comp Lit major).

Therefore we shall attempt to rectify this error most grievous not merely by expressing ourself in this rather florid manner, but by perusing Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stoker’s Dracula and conversing about them with any and all interested parties. Please make yourselves known in Comments.

Our Minister of Propaganda wishes to remind those who would obtain the books to avoid the abridged versions. Those who wish to read them online or to download the free e-books may visit the most dependable Project Gutenberg.

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
Dracula by Bram Stoker

Godzilla Vs Napoles

May 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Monsters, Movies 2 Comments →


Godzilla 2014 is a thrilling blockbuster that updates the monster metaphor. As Ken Watanabe’s scientist points out (and he has to, because this is a popcorn movie after all), humanity in its arrogance and greed thinks it can control Nature. We are not the alpha predator in this scenario, merely the insects scampering out of the combatants’ paths. Godzilla emerges to restore balance in a world that man has plundered and fouled. Although you could miss that and still enjoy the movie.

And what of the Philippines, where the remains of a primordial beast lie? For many months we have been gripped by the investigation into the dealings of Janet Lim-Napoles, who has been charged with defrauding the Philippine government of billions in pork barrel funds. The two lists allegedly naming politicians and media who had received money from Napoles, whether they are true or not, paint a picture of a system steeped in corruption.

Read our column at

Godzilla reviewed by Kevin the 8-year-old Godzilla and dinosaur expert

May 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Monsters, Movies 9 Comments →

Kevin is fascinated with dinosaurs and Godzilla. He’s been a fan of Gojira since he was 5, having discovered the Japanese Godzilla movies on YouTube. His YouTube handle (for when he actually posts a video one day) is GodzillaFan8889 (Dorski, his mother, has no idea why). He has eight Godzilla figures so far, the newest addition being Godzilla 2014 with Atomic Roar (a blue flame shoots out of his mouth).

Warning: Contains spoilers. (We’ve redacted the biggest ones, but still.)

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Opening Credits
Here it is…I think this is it…(with a tinge of doubt as newsreels are shown)

Oh my gosh, yes! It’s Godzilla!

15 minutes in
Ewww. They’re kissing! (the people)


It’s been 30 minutes and still no Godzilla.

Yes! I see his huge tail!

Ewww. They’re kissing! (the others)

Wow! It’s an epic battle! Fight!

I hate this movie.

I love this movie!

We totally agree with Kevin. Godzilla brings back the Godzilla we love. (We have no memory of the 90s Godzilla, just the urge to stomp something.) Director Gareth Edwards’ approach is Spielbergian without the rampant sentimentality. Bryan Cranston is its emotional core. True, Bryan Cranston can do no wrong in our eyes—we don’t care if others see him as a ham sandwich in a fright wig. Any chance he could be in Game of Thrones? (If Mycroft Holmes can be in the Iron Bank of Braavos, couldn’t Walter White be Jon Connington? The Three-Eyed Crow? The Mad King?)

Reading year 2014: Tabi Po is a weird and beautiful trip

May 05, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Monsters No Comments →

tabi po
Thanks to Noel Pascual for sending us a copy. Tabi Po, Issue # 1 is available at National Bookstores.

Tabi Po messes with your head. It’s real horror, set in a cruel world that offers neither comfort nor explanation. Here, the human condition is dread. The masterstroke: it is inspired by the novels of Jose Rizal. In 19th century Philippines, a young man, awakens from a deep sleep with no memory of who or what he is, only a bottomless craving for human flesh. He is an aswang, our local ghoul that transforms itself into a black dog and eats people. When he devours his prey, his consciousness merges with the cosmos. His name is Elias, and he makes his way to the town of San Diego…It’s a weird and beautiful trip.


Read our column, coming up at