Archive for November, 2005

To The Warmongers

I’m back again from Hell
With loathsome thoughts to sell;
Secrets of death to tell;
And horrors from the abyss.

Young faces bleared with blood,
Sucked down into the mud,
You shall hear things like this,
Till the tormented slain
Crawl round and once again,
With limbs that twist awry
Moan out their brutish pain,
As the fighters pass them by.

For you our battles shine
With triumph half-divine;
And the glory of the dead
Kindles in each proud eye.

But a curse is on my head,
That shall not be unsaid,
And the wounds in my heart are red,
For I have watched them die.

Siegfried Sassoon, 1917

Hat tip to Cedwyn.

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The angry dead

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Yet another publication writes about zombie flic Homecoming. From City Pages:

How’s this for a sneaky horror-film allegory? On the eve of an alarmingly tight U.S. presidential election, American soldiers who died in a Middle East war based on public deception suddenly rise from their coffins and lumber toward the nation’s polling booths, tipping the scale against a chicken-hawk incumbent whose advisor admires his “way of making stupid people feel that they’re just as smart as he is.”

The hour-long Homecoming, made for Showtime’s “Masters of Horror” series by the eternally underrated Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers), represents something rare in the hundred-year history of American horror: a mass-market thriller whose biting topicality is as unmistakable as an oozing flesh wound. At the very least, this hilarious tale of supernatural vindication finds Dante boldly resurrecting the tradition of B-movie rib-poking that perished in the early ’80s when another regular-guy executive in the White House handed near-total control of film exhibition–a weapon of mass deception, you could say–to the corporations.

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‘Homecoming’

protected static and cookie jill have posted about this Showtime horror anthology series. Now everyone is writing about it or so it seems. Via Eschaton who got it from Catch who got it from The Village Voice, director Joe Dante talks about his episode in the series, Homecoming:

“This is a horror story because most of the characters are Republicans,” director Joe Dante announced before the November 13 world premiere of his latest movie, Homecoming, at the Turin Film Festival. Republicans, as it happens, will be the ones who find Homecoming’s agitprop premise scariest: In an election year, dead veterans of the current conflict crawl out of their graves and stagger single-mindedly to voting booths so they can eject the president who sent them to fight a war sold on “horseshit and elbow grease.”

The dizzying high point of Showtime’s new Masters of Horror series, the hour-long Homecoming (which premieres December 2) is easily one of the most important political films of the Bush II era. With its only slightly caricatured right-wingers, the film nails the casual fraudulence and contortionist rhetoric that are the signatures of the Bush-Cheney administration. Its dutiful hero, presidential consultant David Murch (Jon Tenney), reports to a Karl Rove–like guru named Kurt Rand (Robert Picardo) and engages in kinky power fucks with attack-bitch pundit Jane Cleaver (Thea Gill), a blonde, leggy Ann Coulter proxy with a “No Sex for All” tank top and “BSH BABE” license plates.

Murch’s glib, duplicitous condescension is apparently what triggers the zombie uprising: Confronting an angry mother of a dead soldier on a news talk show, he tells this Cindy Sheehan figure, “If I had one wish . . . I would wish for your son to come back,” so he could assure the country of the importance of the war. The boy does return, along with legions of fallen combatants, and they all beg to differ.

snip

Dante and writer Sam Hamm (Batman) adapted Homecoming from Dale Bailey’s “Death and Suffrage,” a 2002 short story that puts a morbidly literal spin on the idea of the dead being used to pad the Chicago voting roll. (The film also owes something to the low-budget ‘Nam-era Dead of Night, in which a “Monkey’s Paw” wish brings an undead veteran back to his family home.) Though Bush is never named, Homecoming tailors its provocative scenario to accommodate a devastatingly specific checklist of accusations, from the underreporting of war casualties to last November’s dubious Ohio count.

As if in defiance of the Pentagon’s policy to ban photographs of dead soldiers’ coffins, Dante’s film shows not just the flag-draped caskets at Dover Air Force Base but their irate occupants bursting out of them. “There’s a lot of powerful imagery in this movie that has nothing to do with me,” Dante says. “When you see those coffins, which is a sight that’s generally been withheld from us, there’s a gravity to it. Even though there’s comedy in the movie, there’s something basically so serious and depressing about the subject that it never gets overwhelmed by satire.”

snip

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what a fucking mess we’re in,” he continues. “It’s been happening steadily for the past four years, and nobody said peep. The New York Times and all these people that abetted the lies and crap that went into making and selling this war—now that they see the guy is a little weak, they’re kicking him with their toe to make sure he doesn’t bite back. It’s cowardly. This pitiful zombie movie, this fucking B movie, is the only thing anybody’s done about this issue that’s killed 2,000 Americans and untold numbers of Iraqis? It’s fucking sick.”

While gratified by the warm reception to Homecoming in Turin, Dante says he’s eager for the right-wing punditocracy back home to see it: “I hope this movie bothers a lot of people that disagree with it—and that it makes them really pissed off, as pissed off as the rest of us are.”

If atrios and others read The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire, they would have already known what an exciting, horrific series Showtime was presenting.

Victorian horrors

From The Little Professor, a list of gaslight-era horror sources covering everything from the supernatural we so love here at MotHV to the all-too real terrors of true crime (that, truth be told, we also love dearly at MotHV).

Don’t ask me to trace the Brownian motion that led to my discovering this site… Suffice it to say that during this evening’s web shambling, I also found a fun article on an anti-resurrectionist device (a Victorian Claymore mine-style boobytrap for coffins). Both of these sites were discovered via Three-Toed Sloth’s (excellent) Halloween post, though I’ll be damned if I can reconstruct exactly how I wound up there. Oh well… So it goes.

Susanna Clarke on Crooked Timber

Susanna Clarke, the author of Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, takes part in one of Crooked Timber’s seminars to discuss her novel:

In addition to writing JS&MN, Susanna has written three short stories set in the same (or a closely related?) setting, which were originally published in Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s Starlight, Starlight 2 and Starlight 3 collections, as well as a short short available on the book’s website. We’re delighted that Susanna has been kind enough to participate in a Crooked Timber seminar. John Quiggin argues that the book returns to science fiction’s roots in the examination of the consequences of the Industrial Revolution. Maria Farrell argues that the book is a collision between the imagined Regency England of Jane Austen and romance novels on the one hand, and the real Regency England on the other. Belle Waring asks who the narrator of the book is, and where the female magicians are (she speculates that the two questions may have converging answers). John Holbo examines magic, irony, and Clarke’s depiction of servants. Henry Farrell argues that the hidden story of JS&MN is a critique of English society. Susanna Clarke responds to all the above.

Good stuff, CT. As with all of their seminars, all posts are open to comments; the organizers ask that open questions be posted to Susanna’s post alone… Thanks to PZ at Pharnygula for the notice – CT is only on my ‘occasionally read’ list, but I do love their seminars.

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New Lanark’s ghosts investigated

At long last, Ghost Finders Scotland has posted the report of the New Lanark investigation.

The mills of New Lanark were built, over 200 years ago by David Dale. The village was managed by Dale’s son-in-law, Robert Owen, who provided decent homes, fair wages, free healthcare, education and the world’s first nursery school. New Lanark has been carefully restored as a living community which opens its doors to visitors. There have been many reported sightings in various areas of the village. Figures have been seen and presences have been felt by staff, visitors and guests alike.

EVP recording. Unknown investigator: Do you still want us to leave? Voice: Yes, get out of here.”

Cthulhu as a role model

The Wessex (UK) Scene has a delightful bit of snark on choosing a role model worthy of imitating.

Ghost of the shopping gallery

From the Long Beach (Calif.) Beachcomber:

Shoppers and employees alike have been mystified by the ghost of Z Gallerie. Some write it off as overactive imaginations or inventive practical jokes, but ask the employees and most of them will have at least one unexplainable occurrence that happened to them.

“I came in one morning and the lamps that were sitting on a table the night before were turned upside down and placed on the floor very methodically,” says Greta Tice, associate manager of three years. Could someone have come in the night before to play a trick? Perhaps, but that doesn’t explain how pillows can fly off shelves in front of employees and shoppers.

“I was with a customer one day when pillows jumped off the shelf. The customer was startled and left the store,” says salesperson Paul Finley who has had many run-ins with something he can’t explain. “One time I was up on the third floor when I heard a child’s voice saying, “Let me out!” What sounded like a small child banging on a door turned out to be nothing as Paul opened it. With that incident and some others, many employees refrain from going up there, especially at night.

Final Girl survives a convention

Stacie Ponder of Final Girl has a very funny post on her experience at the Mid-Ohio Con.

Ghosts of Cambodia

You’d think that the people of a nation like Cambodia, scene of the man-made horrors of Pol Pot’s genocidal reign, wouldn’t need the supernatural to give themselves the chills. Well, as it happens, you’d be quite mistaken:

Vampire and ghost stories top the bill as Cambodian film festival opens

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s struggling film industry — undergoing a revival after being obliterated by communist rule in the 1970s — opened its second national film festival Monday with vampire and ghost stories dominating the competition entries.

Nine of the 22 entries were horror movies, but government leaders told local stars and producers gathered for the film festival preview that if they want to succeed, they must steer away from superstition and move toward realism.

Filmmakers should choose themes “more relevant to reality in Cambodia,” if they want to succeed, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said in the festival’s opening speech.

Leave it to a politician to pontificate on what’s relevant to reality, eh? (the wanker) Regardless, this is a pretty big deal: it has been almost 15 years since Cambodia’s last national film festival.

I tried Googling for the film festival’s official site, but came up blank… It might be in Khmer only, so that English googling comes up snake eyes. It might also be that there just isn’t that large of a Cambodian presence on the web – the only sites I could find through Google were some tourism sites based in Vietnam or Thailand, some Japanese government sites, and some ex-pat sites run by Cambodians abroad. It may be a combination of these factors. Whatever the reason, I’m sorry; I don’t have anything to which I can directly link.

That’s really a shame – I was curious to see if the films are Western homages or if they are based in Cambodian folklore and legend.

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