In 1999, Satoshi Kon released his first feature, Perfect Blue, into U.S. theaters. The film would mark the beginning of an illustrious yet tragically short career of animated films that tapped into societal obsession and isolation, themes that still resonate today. Kon’s work, especially Perfect Blue, dove into what it means to have two personalities: one presented to the public and the “real” self.
At a moment when so much seems beyond control — when even the politically disengaged have spoken of the Trump era as a scary, dystopian time — clever uses of horror can actually be therapeutic. They’re like tiny valves that allow steam to escape on screen while a variety of pressures simmer in the real world.
“Ready or Not,” Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s new horror-comedy, joins a growing bloc in that horror-with-political-messaging genre — specifically about greed and parasitic 1 percenters.
Like the plucky young heroes of The Monster Squad, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a gateway horror film with a protagonist obsessed with horror. From the moment the film introduces Stella, played by Zoe Margaret Colletti, we recognize her as one of our own. Save for a major arc involving her father, Stella’s entire persona and narrative is crafted around her being a horror fan. An aspiring writer with a boundless passion for genre, Stella was me as a young teen. For an entry point into genre, there’s nothing more powerful than seeing yourself represented on screen as a protagonist battling seriously spooky monsters.
He had been in his grave so long that when his family dug him up to burn his heart, the organ had decomposed and was not there.
Desperate to stop him from stalking them, they took his head and limbs and rearranged them on top of his ribs in the design of a skull and crossbones. He was a “vampire,” after all, and in rural New England in the early 1800s, this was how you dealt with them.
When they were finished, they reburied him in his stone-lined grave and replaced the wooden coffin lid, on which someone had used brass tacks to form the inscription “JB 55,” for his initials and his age.
Now, 200 years or so after the death of what has become the country’s best-studied “vampire,” DNA sleuths have tracked down his probable name: John Barber.
From the late 1960s to the mid-70s, occult and witchcraft records became an unlikely phenomenon in the UK and USA. These spoken word LPs included narrations of rituals and spells by witches and covens, usually accompanied by bizarre, early electronic esoteric music. Some were relatively obscure private press releases – just look at The Art of Witchcraft by Babetta, AKA ‘Babetta the Sexy Witch’, and Ian Richardson and Barbara Holdridge’s Malleus Maleficarum, which were both released in 1974 and which today fetch hundreds of pounds online – but what’s odder is that major labels were often the ones putting these records out. It wasn’t unusual to find albums like Alex and Maxine Sanders’ A Witch is Born or Louise Huebner’s Seduction Through Witchcraft arriving through Capitol Records, A&M, or Warner Bros – but why did these occult oddities exist in the first place?