My paper cutout animation “Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery” will screen at the upcoming TAIS Showcase on May 11th, 2013. Below is the press release from TAIS for the event:
TAIS Independent Animation SHOWCASE 2013
The Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) presents their annual Showcase and U.F.O. Anijam, Saturday May 11, 7 pm at CineCycle. Enjoy a diverse collection of animated films from local, national and international independent animators.
Presenting a great selection of diverse animation techniques such as paint on glass, scratch on film, computer 3D, puppet, hand drawn and more.
Come enjoy the films, party, and vote for your favourite!
What: TAIS Showcase 2013 and UFO Anijam screening
When: Saturday, May 11, 7 pm
Where: CineCycle (in the coach house, down the laneway)
Address: 129 Spadina Avenue Toronto, Ontario
CONTACT: Janice Schulman
Toronto Animated Image Society
1411 Dufferin Street, Unit B
Toronto, ON M6H 4C7
In anticipation of Mother’s Day, I’ve decided to write about a trope in horror fiction that is a dark meditation on maternity: the Demon Child. This trope tends to divide itself into two separate categories: firstly, the demonic unborn child or baby; and second, the older but equally demonic child. While these two subcategories are closely related, there are subtle but critical differences between them that influence our reading of these character types and the meaning behind them. This post shall focus on the unborn Demon Child, a character type that TVTropes – in their usual tongue-in-cheek manner — dub the Fetus Terrible:
…The Fetus Terrible hasn’t even been born yet, but will become The Antichrist or a demon prophesied to bring about The End of the World as We Know It once it escapes from its womb. The woman carrying this (often literally) hellborn spawn is usually an innocent, unwittingly impregnated by the Devil himself, and the other characters have to race to prevent the birth or stop the child from becoming the ultimate Enfant Terrible. Occasionally this can result of a perfectly normal pregnancy Gone Horribly Wrong pre or post conception, where the issue can be a mutant, Hybrid Monster, Undead Child or some other abomination. This trope can also overlap with Body Horror, especially if the mother knows what’s growing inside her — TVTropes.org
In its fetal state, the Demon Baby represents maternal anxiety over the physicality of pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnancy itself is an invasive process not unlike parasitism, whereby a separate and distinct life form develops and thrives within a host’s body. As suggested in the above quote from TVTropes, the Demon Baby possesses aspects of body horror – a branch of the horror universe that explores fear relating to a loss-of-control over one’s own body. Not only does the mother-to-be fear the creature that grows inside her, there is often the threat of a grisly, and deadly, childbirth that capitalizes on every woman’s fear of painful labour and maternal mortality. While Roman Polanski’s 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby practically invented this horror trope, the scene I feel best encapsulates this element of demon baby/body horror is the birthing scene from a much lesser film, the Hammer production To the Devil a Daughter (1976) with Christopher Lee and Nastassja Kinski. When the child of Satan is ready to be born, it demands the ultimate maternal sacrifice as it literally bursts forth from the womb, tearing the hapless woman apart. Although the actual birth happens off-camera, the mere suggestion of this gruesome event was enough to make me shudder.
And then, there’s the Demon Baby — or should I say, Demon Puppet? In this late-70′s, low-budget film, the devil-spawn is a slimy, malformed little puppet that — in one nightmarish dream sequence — flops across the splayed legs of the adolescent Kinski and crawls back inside. Yeah, back up there. I know, right?
Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day.
Hello gentle readers. It’s been over a month since I last wrote in this blog, and I felt that I should share with you what has been preoccupying my time. As some of you may know, I’ve been working in the medium of stop-motion animation these past few months. Animation has a tendency to devour time like a hungry little baby, and my new animation is a greedy baby, indeed. Now, before I get too ahead of myself, allow me to backtrack a bit.
Back in October, I lamented over the large amount of time and effort required to properly prepare a media artist grant application. I wrote that “[the grant application] is a long, tedious, and painful process that I submit to only grudgingly.” However, as the old axiom goes “you get out of life what you put in”, and this past exercise in painful tedium was no exception to this rule. I received both media artist grants to which I applied. There’s a reason why old axioms are old: they’re generally true.
Above is a “quick & dirty” test I worked on today for one of my new paper puppets. And by “quick”, I mean that it took me several hours to produce those 7 seconds. This is a rough, and by no means a finished work. Lots of pop and flicker in the lights. There is no audio.
1. Asian ghosts always have an agenda. Typically, it’s one motivated by a desire for revenge, or a need for justice. In the Thai supernatural-thriller Shutter (2004, directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom), the heroine Jane mistakenly believes that the female ghost who torments both she and her boyfriend Tun is seeking revenge for the hit-and-run accident in which the mysterious woman was killed. There’s much more to the story, however, as a dark secret connecting Tun to the dead woman is ultimately revealed. The true horror of this film may be the fact that, even though Tun’s deeply troubling past has been shown, Jane seems to be supportive of him at the finale — so much for justice and gender equality in Thailand. I thoroughly enjoyed this Thai ghost story and, even though an English-language remake was released in 2008, I feel no need to watch it. I can read subtitles just fine, thanks.
2. Haute Tension (2003). If a woman wielding a bloody chainsaw towers above you, shouting “Do you love me?!” over the ear-splitting whirl of the blade, I would just quickly say “YES!”. If you don’t happen to share her amorous feelings, you can explain so later at a safe distance. Preferably over the phone, from another continent.
3. The desperate ache of loneliness never seemed so palpable as it does in Lucky McKee’s May (2002). When our titular heroine, a socially-awkward misfit whose best friend is a (very creepy) doll, fails to find her true love, she takes matters into her own hands and fashions herself one. Angela Bettis, a long-time acting staple in McKee’s films, turns in a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of a character who’s essentially a psychotic serial killer. A criminally neglected film.
4. You know a relationship’s going south when you begin to suspect your lover of being a serial killer. Such was the case between Jess and her turtleneck-wearing boyfriend Peter in Black Christmas (1974). When Jess reveals to Peter her unwanted pregnancy and plans to have an abortion, his reaction is not only negative, but downright crazy in its intensity. But did this news, plus his failed piano recital — artists, they’re so sensitive — push Peter to the brink of insanity?