Season’s Greetings from Lady Lazarus. And now, a photo of The Cure building a snowman, because Robert Smith. #gothsinthesnow.
My illustrated alphabet book for adults, aptly titled My Alphabet of Anxieties & Desires, is available in soft cover and eBook format. Buy it for yourself or send it to someone you love (or want to) for Christmas. http://blur.by/12n9r1u.
Also available from the Apple store: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/id582540445
Happy Hallowe’en, gentle readers! And now for something completely Gothic.
BY EDGAR ALLAN POE
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
At the beginning of October, I travelled to New York City to participate in the 2014 instalment of the Video Art & Experimental Film Festival. My short animated film Domestikia, Chapter 3: La Petite Mort screened both Thursday and Friday nights, with a filmmaker Q&A following the Friday screening. Above are a few photos from the event, and below a snippet from the festival review at the Videoart.net blog:
Over three nights in early October, as the New York fall seemed to be taking its grip on the city, filmmakers, artists and film enthusiasts huddled outside Tribeca Cinemas and engaged in animated exchanges and heated discussions – excitedly picking apart the films of this year’s Video Art and Experimental Film Festival. Now in its fourth year, the festival once again presented a challenging and arresting program of short films, showcasing the diversity of moving image work being created today.
This process of breaking down unproductive delineations and creating a vocabulary with which to grapple with the question of what can be understood as video art was present throughout the festival, offering the entire program a palpable vigour, though it was perhaps Thursday night’s screening, playfully dubbed ‘Beauty, Sex, Shame’ which most captured the exciting landscape of video art today. Beginning with Rino Stefano Tagliafierro’s BEAUTY – an elegiac reimagining of classic paintings which delights in the effervescence of beauty, luring us in with its promises before revealing its inherent ephemerality and inevitable decay – the program examined the seductive nature of images, throwing light on the perpetually fraught relationship between sex and death. In its masterful re-appropriation of classic painting, Tagliafierro’s film set the tone for much of the program, as a common thread throughout the program was a kind of filmmaking which utilizes cinematic and art historical references with unabashed candor, repurposing familiar footage and well worn tropes to create refreshingly current work. With its knowing nods to the cinema of the French New Wave, Canada’s wonderfully tongue-in-cheek film, Crème Caramel, creates a highly stylized visual language allowing it to reference classic cinema, while simultaneously reconfiguring the often narrow view of sexuality and femininity which exists in these films. Similarly, Jennifer Linton’s Domestikia, Chapter 3: La Petite Mort – a surreal exploration of female sexuality – draws on a tradition of illustrated Japanese pornography often referred to as tentacle erotica, imbuing the film with an awareness of the inescapable darkness and perversion hiding beneath the glossy kind of beauty we are conditioned to consume.
Hello, my Darklings! It may be a relatively balmy afternoon in Toronto, but the warm weather’s not fooling Lady Lazarus. It is undeniably mid-October, which means it’s that time of year to carefully craft a horror-themed list in anticipation/celebration of Hallowe’en. While the tagline for this blog “musings on the macabre” indicates my year-round fascination with all things spooky and disturbing, come Hallowe’en, this fascination finds full expression in mainstream culture. In short, I can hoist my horror-freak flag up high.
This year, I decided to go with the theme of “scary movie/TV moments”, meaning those scenes that, for me, contain particularly potent images of horror. As always, this is a highly subjective list. Your list will likely vary. One curious thing I noticed when crafting my list is that all the scenes share a common element. Read on to discover what that would be.
1. Hospital hallway scene from Exorcist III: Legion (1990). William Peter Blatty’s novel Legion is the true sequel to The Exorcist, and not that ridiculous, let’s-cash-in-on-the-original Exorcist II that starred a somehow “re-possessed” Regan (with Linda Blair reprising her role) and a bunch of locusts. When I heard that Blatty himself would direct Exorcist III: Legion, I was actually hopeful that the movie wouldn’t suck. Well, it did. Except for this scene, which is a classic jump-scare moment, expertly done. I don’t want to spoil the moment if you haven’t seen this film, but I would like to point out how well the slow pacing, the static camera, and the everyday banality of the moments leading up to the jump-scare serve to underscore the horror.
2. There are two things that creep me out about the character of Bob from David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks. Firstly, it’s his appearance. He’s a bedraggled, denim-on-denim denizen of a very seedy underworld, with wild eyes and a maniacal grin. His long hair, toothy grin and feral nature casts him in the role of the Big Bad Wolf, only the world that he emerges from is not one of fairytales, but of nightmares. The second, even more chilling aspect of Bob is how he always just appears, seemingly out of nowhere. One moment, there you are sitting on the broadloom of your parent’s tastefully decorated, circa 1980’s suburban home — complete with floral arrangements and throw-cushions — and suddenly BAM! There he is, climbing over your Mom’s couch with that sinister grin, making his way directly towards you. Whatever his plans, you know it’s not going to end well. Much like the psycho-killer in the scene above from Exorcist III: Legion, it’s Bob’s sudden, inexplicable appearances that always freaked me out.
3. I first saw Ju-On (2002, dir.Takashi Shimizu) at the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2003, and it still remains one of my favourite J-horrors of that era. While I have to admit that the latter half of the film is mainly comprised of a relentless succession of jump-scares, Ju-On still offers up some great visuals, such as the image of the ghost-woman Kayako slooooooowly crawling down the stairs towards the horrified heroine Rika. The image that has always stuck with me, however, is the one depicted above — with Kayako suddenly materializing underneath the bed covers, and directly on top of her victim. Can you imagine lifting your bed sheets to see that face staring up at you? NO.
4. Yes, ok, The Exorcist (1973, dir.William Friedkin). I know it’s a given on any horror movie-related list, but there’s a really good reason why that would be. It’s just that good. I’ve already mentioned in a past post the freaky demon-face that haunted all our childhood dreams — if you happen to be of a similar vintage to me — but the image I’d like to address is the one with Father Karras’s mother suddenly appearing on Regan’s bed during her prolonged exorcism. Other than the fact that the scene cuts to this image so abruptly, eliciting a jump-scare moment out of the audience, it’s the sad, questioning expression on her face that I find so unnerving.“Why, Demi? Why?” Indeed.
So, that’s it. Have a safe and happy Hallowe’en, kids. I hope to, as long as nothing sinister suddenly appears around me.
Any native of Toronto is well acquainted with our large and active population of urban raccoons. What many Torontonians may not know, however, is that Toronto is unique in Canada for its abundance of these intelligent — though often troublesome — critters.
Unlike cities such as Montreal, Edmonton, and Ottawa, Toronto winters are milder and we typically don’t get buried by the kind of snow that makes it hard for raccoons to forage. The city’s network of ravines also connects neighbourhoods, MacDonald says, which offers raccoons a safe place to retreat, if necessary. And unlike Vancouver (where, historically, there have been more condo buildings in the downtown), Toronto has residential neighbourhoods with leafy backyards, garages, and easy access to garbage. Urban raccoons have flourished here because of their ability to adapt to our environment, forage in our waste, and find shelter in easy-to-break-into older downtown homes.
— from http://www.chfi.com/2013/06/13/why-toronto-has-so-many-raccoons/
While indigenous to North American wooded areas, urban raccoons only exist in large populations in the cities Washington, DC, Chicago, and Toronto (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon#Urban_raccoons).
The gigantic raccoon pictured in the video still above hails from my upcoming animation project Toronto Alice. This creature is loosely based on the raccoon/s who habitually take a large crap on my back porch [grimace].