Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You Wanna See Something Really Scary?

10. "Eraserhead" (1977)David Lynch's cult classic is the closest thing to being stuck in a nightmare: Not much makes sense, but you get the feeling that nothing is quite right. Lynch employs dinners that walk off the plate, eerie silences that become deafening and an infant that makes Rosemary's baby seem cute and cuddly. So chilling it's damn near unwatchable.

9. "The Exorcist" (1973)The real terror of "The Exorcist" may not involve Satan and possession, but the helplessness of a parent trying to save a child. Of course, a ton of harrowing special effects and director William Friedkin's somber respect for the supernatural subject matter doesn't hurt either. It's horror for grown-ups.

8. "Halloween" (1978)John Carpenter's film is blamed for the rash of slasher films that destroyed the genre in the '80s, but "Halloween" possesses a style and intensity that most of its copycats lack. From the opening sequence -- when we see through the eyes of little boy Michael Myers as he stalks and murders his sister -- onward, the film relies on suspense rather than sensationalism. Our fear is caused by what might happen rather than actual events, as Carpenter spends a good amount of time in darkness, making us see things that may or may not be there.

7. "Don't Look Now" (1973)Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie head to Venice to forget the tragic accidental death of their child. However, it's impossible to forget when the dead child keeps reappearing. Nicolas Roeg's labyrinthine film is rich in dreamlike atmosphere and works on a purely psychological level: It disorients, frustrates and builds to a horrible climax, reminding that tragedy can never be forgotten ... and neither can this film.

6. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974)A group of annoying teens make a wrong turn on a road trip through Texas and encounter the most dysfunctional family imaginable. It's a teen exploitation flick shot like a documentary. Wonderfully grim, mean and inhumane, director Tobe Hooper's debut doesn't spill much blood, instead opting to giddily, relentlessly torture and chase its audience (much like Leatherface treats his victims) for 80 minutes. It feels like days.

5. "Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) Before dream-killer Freddy Krueger became a quipping pop-culture reference, he represented the most twisted monster unleashed on the public since Halloween's Michael Myers. Seeking vengeance by slicing and dicing the children of the parents who murdered him, Freddy scared the hell out of Cineplex audiences. His on-screen entrance remains terrifying, as does much of director Wes Craven's surreal, smart and shocking masterpiece.

4. "Suspiria" (1977)"Suspiria" is a full-on sensory assault by Italian horror master Dario Argento, the cinematic equivalent of an anxiety attack. A poor American ballet student arrives in Europe and Argento berates her with weather, grisly murders, a possible coven of witches, his virtuosic camera, and possible the freakiest score ever conceived (by the director himself). The plot barely makes sense, so just let it terrorize you.

3. "Night of the Living Dead" (1968)A group of kids get trapped inside a farm house by an endless stream of flesh-eating zombies. Sounds silly, but director George Romero takes his simple premise and redefines the genre with a shoestring budget. The amount of sadistic gore, the claustrophobic tension, the rising levels of hysteria and an increasingly deflated awareness that a happy ending is impossible make this a nasty classic. There is no hope here, only suffocating terror.

2. "Repulsion" (1965) Director Roman Polanski did more horror afterward, with "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Tenant," but this -- a menacing, nightmarish profile of one woman's descent into madness -- may be his most realized effort. Catherine Denueve embodies sexual repression as a young woman left alone in her apartment -- and to her deluded fantasies -- for the weekend. The film is nearly silent, creating a mounting mood of dread. Try watching it alone with the lights off and see how long you last.

1. "Psycho" (1960)Alfred Hitchcock's blueprint for contemporary horror: More than just a film, "Psycho" was a cultural slap in the face. Censors wanted to ban it, while screaming audiences couldn't get enough of it. Hitch employs all of his tricks -- shifting audience sympathies, killing off the main character halfway through the film and a ton of macabre humor -- but more importantly he makes the horror internal. Norman Bates isn't a monster in the classic sense; he suggests that the greatest evil can lurk beneath the quietest, most pleasant surface.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Some Pics From the B.Day Bash

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With my wife Aurora.

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With Aurora & a Crouching Elizabeth.

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With Aurora & Carmen.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yesterday It Was My Birthday

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Over the hill but not too far away!

Monday, October 15, 2007

fourW18 Book Launch

The fourW18 Anthology book launch takes place on November 10th in Wagga Wagga & Sydney Australia on November 17th. Wish I could be there with you guys. Best of luck to Sandra Treble and the staff on the launch. Thanks for choosing my work to appear in this anthology. Cheers!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An Open Book

These are the top 106 books tagged “unread” in Librarything. The rules:Bold what you have read, italicize books you’ve started but couldn’t finish, and strike through books you hated. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Underline those on your TBR list.

Jonathan Strange & M. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick*
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian
A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera
Brave new world*
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A clockwork orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels*
Les misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
A confederacy of dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The unbearable lightness of being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye*
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance*
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit*
In Cold Blood
White teeth
Treasure Island*
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Gee!... Who came up with this list? I can think of at least another 106 books which should be on the list.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Futility of it All

I've just been reading the Futility Review and am amazed at all the fine poets that you will not be finding there. Apparently their rejection rate is 125%. With my luck I'll probably get accepted. .... Jeff Bahr has all the details here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

T.S. Eliot

La Figlia Che Piange

O quam te memorem Virgo ...

Stand on the highest pavement of the stair—
Lean on a garden urn—
Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair—
Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise—
Fling them to the ground and turn
With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:
But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.

So I would have had him leave,
So I would have had her stand and grieve,
So he would have left
As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised,
As the mind deserts the body it has used.
I should find
Some way incomparably light and deft,
Some way we both should understand,
Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand.

She turned away, but with the autumn weather
Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.
And I wonder how they should have been together!
I should have lost a gesture and a pose.
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon's repose.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Trompes D'Oeil - David M. Lenz

Thanks to Brent Goodman for introducing me to Lenz's work.