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Archive for the ‘Monsters’

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

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

frankenstein

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

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 InterAksyon.com.

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

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

KevinGodzilla4
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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KevinGodzilla2

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

Title
Oh my gosh, yes! It’s Godzilla!

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

00:20:00
Muto! IT’S THE MUTO!

00:30:00
It’s been 30 minutes and still no Godzilla.

00:45:00
Yes! I see his huge tail!

01:15:00
Ewww. They’re kissing! (the others)

01:30:00
Wow! It’s an epic battle! Fight!

01:45:00
I hate this movie.

02:10:00
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.

damaso

Read our column, coming up at InterAksyon.com.

Surrender, killers, Chloe Sevigny is on the case

March 11, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Monsters, Television No Comments →

There are probably too many serial killer crime shows on television. They all have protagonists who possess a special understanding of the serial killer mind, as if they went through high school illustrating that quote from Nietzsche on the backs of their binders (“When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you”), then majored in Monster Psych in college. The current shows range from excellent (The Fall, True Detective), to amazing-looking (Hannibal), to stupid (The Following). Someday soon we will get sick of all these shows, but for now we are watching the new A&E series Those Who Kill.

From the title we may glean that it is not about girls looking for love in the big city. Those Who Kill is the American version of the Danish crime series based on the novels of Elsebeth Egholm—the Scandinavians seem to own the bleak existential crime genre. Our primary reason for watching Those Who Kill: Chloe Sevigny. We love her. Cast her as a relentless police detective with personal issues, and you know she will be a fabulous relentless police detective with personal issues.

In Those Who Kill, Chloe plays homicide detective Catherine Jensen, who slouches as if Juergen Teller were in the immediate vicinity. In the first episode, she correctly deduces that a serial killer is at work, and she asks forensic psychologist Thomas Schaeffer for advice on how to catch him. In an interesting bit of casting, Schaeffer is played by James D’Arcy, who was Psycho star Anthony Perkins in Hitchcock. Schaeffer has been at odds with the police department because of his unorthodox methods, etc, etc, you’ve seen this before. What sets it apart from the dozens of shows in its category are the sparky interplay between Jensen and Schaeffer, and the glimpses into Jensen’s troubled childhood, which may account for her fascination with monsters. Put it this way: people do not slice themselves for laughs. In the second episode we expect to meet Jensen’s stepfather (Bruce Davison), who may hold the key to the disappearance of her brother at age 16.

After the thrilling first episode, the challenge is to find villains who are freakier than Chloe, who can scare you just by removing all expression from her face. We’re such fans of Chloe, we even love fake Chloe.

Those Who Kill airs every Thursday at 9pm on JackCity—channel 31 on free TV, 72 on SkyCable , 60 on Destiny, 40 on Cable Link, and 22 on Cignal.

Every movie we see #7: Me, Frankenstein

January 24, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Monsters, Movies, Television 2 Comments →

Movie #5 was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, our umpteenth viewing. Movie #6 was Take the Money and Run, also our umpteenth viewing.

This review was inspired by Monsterpiece Theatre’s stunning production of Me, Claudius.

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Me, Cookie Monstress, watch Me, Frankenstein for one reason: Aaron Eckhart. Harrum-nom-nom-nom. Aaron Eckhart, best known for Two-Face, brilliant at playing super-articulate assholes (In the Company of Men, Thank You For Smoking) and he have granite-y handsomeness me love. Aaron look like Nikolaj Coster Waldau, me think they twins. Me still mad he not punch anyone in the face in stupid White House attack movie Olympus Has Fallen. Why? Why?

No, wait. Me have other reason for watching Me, Frankenstein. We in Church of Whedon love demon-slaying and angels vs demons stuff like the one with Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer. Cookie! Me not watch Underworld movies but the makers of those bake this one, too. Instead of vampires fighting werewolves, gargoyles fighting demons. Original!

Aaron Eckhart play Frankenstein’s creature in 21st century. For someone 195 years old and stitched together from parts of eight corpses, him hot! Mmmm, six-pack. He not eat cookies, me think. In case you finicky, creature’s dad is Frankenstein so that his name, too. Frankenstein monster delicious as long as no smell of putrefaction. Me hate that.

Demons in suits led by Bill Nighy out to get him so they can figure out reanimation technology. Why they need that, demons have no powers? Gargoyles led by Eowyn of Rohan try to stop them. Yes, scary statues in cathedrals are really forces of good. Gargoyle general is son of Bruce Willis in crap Die Hard in Russia. Mmmm, cookie! Demons can be destroyed with sacred objects like swords with gargoyle sigil or holy water.

Me ask: Why not bombard demons with holy water cannon? Oh right, this dumb movie. But fun! in bananas way. Mmm, bananas. Me like bananas but me like cookies more. There should be Aaron Eckhart cookies and Nikolaj Coster Waldau cookies.

Me recommend Me, Frankenstein if you like Aaron Eckhart, Nikolaj Coster Waldau, demon-slaying and popcorn with extra butter. And cookies. Sesame Street, please don’t sue me. Mary Shelley, maybe you should sue Me, Frankenstein but creature in public domain. Oh right, it’s Frahnkensteen!