glitter_n_gore: (freddie lounds)
In the Year of Our Lord 1987, two cult favorite vampire movies came out within a couple months of each other. One, you've probably heard of: The Lost Boys. It stars Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, Jason Patric, and Keifer Sutherland. It's funny, action-packed, kind of disgusting, and endlessly quotable. It's a summertime staple for me and probably will be until the end of time. The other was Near Dark. It's darker, weirder, leans more on horror than comedy, stars half the cast of Aliens, and is violent and scary in a way that modern vampires can't touch.

It is my very favorite vampire movie. Why? Bill Paxton.

The cinematic universe lost another icon this week. And I lost another hero. Although in this case the word "hero" doesn't exactly convey what I want it to. Paxton was a terrific actor who I still don't know as well as I want to, who always entertained me when I happened to stumble across him. The fact that this happened more often than not in horror movies, sci-fi thrillers, and superhero franchises is not lost on me. Mostly, I remember him as the deliciously sadistic Severen. If you still haven't seen Near Dark yet--go do that right now. I'll wait.



Read more... )
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)
As anyone who's known me for a reasonable period of time knows: If there are vampires in it, I have seen it. If I haven't seen it, I at least know it exists, and it is on my list. So it was only a matter of time before Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy came into my life. I've only read the first two so far, but I love them.


Book Cover via Goodreads


As the title suggests, we're in a boarding school for vampires. Not just any vampires, but an elite group of teens separated into the Moroi (full-blooded vamps with magical powers associated with different elements), and the Dhampir (half-human vamps with supernatural strength who act as bodyguards). There's a third group, called Strigoi, who are evil blood-thirsty monsters who no longer resemble the people they once were--basically your more traditional vampires.

In the first book, the main character, Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutsch) and her best friend Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) have run away from the school. They're tracked down after about a year, but in the meantime a few changes have taken place: Lissa is no longer the popular Queen Bee type at the school, despite being next in line for the throne. A new Dhampir training specialist, Dimitri, has been assigned to whip Rose into shape and keep an eye on her, in case she gets any ideas about running away again. Also, dead animals have begun to turn up at the school--usually just in time for Lissa to find and mysteriously heal them.

Read more. . . )
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)
When I started tallying up numbers, one of the first things I noticed is that horror cinema with female protagonists from the past ten years has been completely dominated by four franchises: Resident Evil, Underworld, Twilight*, and Paranormal Activity. They all started at slightly different times, and they're all catering to a slightly different audience demographic, so I find it interesting that they've all been as wildly successful as they have for as long as they have. And they're all still going. That's a substantial amount of sustained marketability, all starring women.

*I know, save your garment rending. I have a reason for including it on this list, and I'll get to it later. First, the top money-makers with female protagonists for 2006:

Underworld: Evolution - $62.3 million
The Omen - $54.6 million
(Final Destination 3 - $54.1 million)
When a Stranger Calls - $47.9 million
Silent Hill - $47 million
(The Hills Have Eyes - $41.8 million)
(The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning - $39.5 million)
The Grudge 2 - $39 million
Pan's Labyrinth - $37.6 million

Again, lots of remakes and sequels, and a fair few I haven't seen. In fact, there are only two original stories in this year's lineup, and I'm almost not sure they qualify--Silent Hill because it's technically an adaptation, and Pan's Labyrinth because I'm not sure it counts as "horror." But we're going to talk about them anyway, because it's my retrospective and I Do What I Want.

Read more... )

The reason I decided to include Pan's Labyrinth in the end (apart from the fact that I asked Twitter for input), is because I tend to be a bit more generous than some when drawing the line between "horror" and "fantasy" and "sci-fi." For me, it doesn't matter that much because I watch all three genres for the same reasons: I want to be taken out of my comfort zone. I want to question my perception of reality. I want to see ordinary people transform into heroes when faced with impossible circumstances. I want to see worlds and creatures I've never seen or imagined before. Mostly, I want to be entertained. If I happen to get scared out of my wits in the process, as long as those other criteria are met, I'm okay with that. But I'm also okay if a movie calling itself "horror" doesn't actually manage to scare me.

So here's my question for this post: Where do you draw the line between "horror" and other genres? Do you come away disappointed if a horror movie doesn't scare you, or do you watch it for other reasons--and if so, what are those reasons?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments, and I'll be back next time with 2007!
glitter_n_gore: (samara)
Let's hear it for fellow horror hound, Diane Dooley, who has not just one, but two stories out as of this past month: "A Womb of One's Own", her first print publication which is out in this summer's issue of Golden Visions Magazine--read more about it here; and "Served", a short, nasty piece about waiting tables (kind of) which you can read here. (Scroll down to the end, but be warned--it is NOT for the faint of heart. Mature audiences ONLY.)

Also there's a great conversation/interview up on her blog with Fiona Dodwell, on the perceptions and difficulties of being not just a horror writer, but a female horror writer: "Most people who find I enjoy horror are shocked – they usually respond by saying, “But you’re such a girly, feminine woman!”, as if being into horror means I have to grow horns and wear black all day! Really, I’m a happy, contented woman, but I like to explore darkness from a safe place – and for me that is through the medium of writing." Read the rest of the interview here.


As for myself, progress is slow but steady on my various projects. I am four pages and one last edit away from finished with "Doppelganger," the horror short I've been working on with the writer's group here, and have signed up to do a reading with them in September. It's a first-come, first-served sign up list, so hopefully I'll be able to get in there. Even if it's full, there's usually at least one person who can't show up due to some emergency or other, so I'm hopeful. Stay tuned--I will tell you when and where for anyone who wants to come.

The rest of my projects are, as usual, getting eaten by plot bunnies. I got one more rejection back for "Hoppers," which I hate to admit probably needs another rewrite--or at least a fresh beta reader to tell me what needs fixing. I'm torn between the voice that says "Put it away and deal with it later, when you stop hating it," which is probably the best; and the one that says, "But it's YA dystopia--if we don't find a buyer now, people are going to be sick of them! It'll be vampires all over again!" although I know, I know, that's my impatience talking. The market is unpredictable--dystopias will come back around, or not, and there's nothing I can do about it, so there's no use worrying about that.

"Dusty" has a mind of its own and won't do what I tell it, although I think the first chapter is pretty good. A first chapter does not a good novel make, but it's a start, and it's better than what I had before. I think I might just be taking this project too seriously, because--apart from the vampires--it's about a topic that's very close to home for me, and that's making it exceedingly difficult to write.

I have several more on the backburner, but right now my focus is mostly on "Doppelganger." Having a critique group to report to makes things go so much more smoothly.

As for the plot bunnies, I'm just going to throw a dart and see where it lands.

Last book read: Spindle's End by Robin McKinley.

Yearly total: 38
glitter_n_gore: (jc vampires)
First, check out this great interview with Steve Barber, author of Blob and the Sous-Chef, over at Diane Dooley's blog: Oh, The Horror!

Next, I've been thinking about the state of vampire fiction and my place in it, and came up with somewhat slightly rambling thoughts.

Read More... )
glitter_n_gore: (gambit)
Hey gang!

So, I reached my chosen goal for NaNo--60k by the end of the month--but it's becoming clear that I won't finish "The Time Ghost" in as few words as I suspected. I'm going to need at least 100k all done. Possibly more. But no worries. I still have a plan, and it's still moving forward. Actually, this is fairly exciting for me, because I have a tendency to write short. Having a healthy-length manuscript, rather than a skeleton that hovers somewhere between "novel" and "novella" no matter how I try to beat it into one direction or the other, is evidence that I'm doing something right.

Now, here's what I really want to talk about: "Dusty." It's a vampire story, I don't know if I've talked about it much before, but it's been "on hold" for several months now. The reason for that is it started to scare me. I've always been fairly sensitive to the horror genre as a whole, movies, books, whatever, but when you're the one in the driver's seat, it's a little different. The strange thing about this one is that it's frightening in ways I didn't expect. Parts of it are gruesome, but that's not what I'm talking about. Fear is so subjective, which is why you can talk about the same piece of fiction to two different people and get two different reactions, about exactly what was scary about it and why, or whether it was scary at all. This story is taking me into parts of my mind I haven't thought about much, buried deep enough that I didn't even realize they were buried until this came up. It's much more personal than I imagined it being. I don't want to go into any detail here, but the upshot of all this is: I put it aside when I realized where it was going. And now I've decided it might be better to follow it through and just see what happens.

Wish me luck!
glitter_n_gore: (emma watson)
First things first: Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all ate more than is good for you, just like I did, and enjoyed it muchly. I also successfully avoided Black Friday by being on a plane most of the day. Booyah.

I finally hit my stride with my NaNo, The Time Ghost, and although it's shaping up a little differently than I intended, I did in fact reach 50k words last night. As you know, my goal for this year is a little more, but since I have the weekend in front of me still, I'm not worried. However, I am going to take a break once this month is over, just to give myself a pat on the back for picking up speed and making a personal best for myself.

So! Those of you who know me on my other LJ have seen my book reports before, but for those of you who haven't, what I do is give brief capsule reviews of the most recent books I've read (or in this case, am still reading) along with the corresponding cover art. I'm not sure what I'm trying to accomplish by doing this, but I like putting my opinion out there all the same.

Danse Macabre, Ghost Story, The Shifter, A Year of Disappearances... )
glitter_n_gore: (samara)
Many of you know about the dysfunctional love/hate relationship I have with Twilight. Many more know what a gigantic success that series is, and a trip through any major bookseller will reinforce that success by all the paranormal romantic YA books on prominent display. I've decided to call this trend The Sparkle Phenomenon. If you don't understand that reference, let me direct you to [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda's fantastic glossary of all things Twilight: http://cleoland.pbworks.com/Twilight

One of the biggest criticisms directed at Twilight and its successors is the way the female characters are portrayed: they're often bland, weak-willed, and void of personal interests or goals outside of a relationship with some brooding, handsome boy, usually supernaturally inclined in some way, and the boy dictates the terms of the relationship and more in varying degrees of possessiveness and manipulation. The naysayers say these books are antifeminist and put the women's movement back several decades, reigniting the traditional gender roles we've fought so hard against for so long. There's a great essay entitled "YA and Rape Culture" here, which uses as its example Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush--a "romance" starring a fallen angel that sounds frankly horrifying.

To be perfectly honest, I don't mind fiction that upsets or even terrifies me. I'm a fan of dystopias and supernatural horror after all. The disturbing aspect of these books isn't the action that unfolds between the covers, but the reactions of young readers to them. I have no problem separating fact from fiction in these contexts--I have a zero tolerance policy towards controlling jerks in real life--but what worries me is that so many teenagers don't seem to notice that the relationships in these books are neither normal nor healthy, and often wax poetical over how much they wished they had someone just like Edward, or Patch, to come and sweep them off their feet. Here's another essay on that part of the Sparkle Phenomenon: Do Books Teach or Reveal? And another word from Cleolinda on the subject of bad boys in literature: My thoughts on Twilight, let me show you them. (Scroll down to Point no. 2.)

Amy and Cleo both raise some great points, and this is what I think folks need to keep in mind when they complain about successful books with bland, weak, or even masochistic female leads: There is no lack of strong females in YA literature. Katnis in The Hunger Games; Lyra Belacqua in His Dark Materials; Tally Youngblood in Uglies; I have many, many issues with PC and Kristen Cast's House of Night series, mainly the juvenile vernacular, but I do appreciate Zoey Redbird's stubborn streak and proactive attitude. The good stuff is out there. My point here is that writers of YA fiction have every right to do whatever they want with their worlds. Their job is to entertain, and as a writer, I'd be pretty pissed if someone told me to change the tone or theme of my work just because they didn't like the ideas some kids might get from it. The problem isn't with the books themselves. It's that the overwhelming majority of YA sales are going towards a certain type of book. If teenagers wanted to read about strong females kicking ass with or without a romantic partner, that's exactly what they'd do. The sales would reflect that--and with The Hunger Games, maybe things are already moving in that direction. But for the moment, they're reading about Mary Sue types falling hopelessly in love with big, strong, superheroes who push them around and tell them what to do. That's what worries me, because I don't understand how something like that became so popular in the first place.

I've always gravitated towards strong characters in fiction. Even if they have issues, such as being antisocial or even psychotic, characters who own their identity and get things done are always my favorites. (I'll be blogging about some of my personal favorites soon, but that's another project for another day.) Twilight lost me at the "lion fell in love with the lamb" line--not so much that I quit reading (to my occasional dismay), but that was the moment I realized I could never relate to Bella as a character. Ever. And I discounted her narration as biased and untrustworthy from then on out. If anyone calls me a "lamb" to my face, you can bet I won't take it as a compliment, and I might just have to prove how wrong they are. However, I was raised to own my identity and not let anyone else tell me who I am. Looking at the essay linked in the second paragraph showed me just how rare that is, because I can't see myself following any of the "rules" outlined about how polite females are supposed to behave. I err on the side of standoffish and bitchy (as my ex-boyfriend knows perhaps a little too well), but considering the alternative, I'm kind of okay with that.

What I'm wondering is just how widespread that mindset is. Obviously someone--many someones, all over the face of the globe--believes so strongly that validation by a man is required for one's self worth that they'll delve into a romantic fantasy with that very plot at the center. I know the teenage years are hell on self-worth, but I honestly don't remember feeling unworthy or "less" than my classmates on account of not having a boyfriend. I had crushes--oh, lordy, did I--but I had plenty of other things to occupy my time than pining over them. I've discovered over the years that I'm better than most with self-esteem, but I'd like to hope I'm not completely unique in this.

Anyone else like to chime in on this? I know I've rambled here, but I've been thinking about this a lot lately and wondering where all the attention given to this "romantic" YA trend comes from.

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