Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Top 5 Scary Movies (AKA: Movies That Actually Creeped Me Out)

Just about anyone who knows me will tell you I don't scare easily. I can watch a horror movie and go straight to bed afterward with no ill effects.

But, every now and then a movie comes along that sinks into my psyche and has me looking over my shoulder and flicking on the lights before I cross the threshold of a room. (Possible spoilers ahead.)

5. Insidious

I watched this movie by chance. It was a lazy evening, I was half asleep and it was the only thing on Netflix that looked remotely interesting.

This movie plays on the idea that it's not houses which are haunted, it's people.

Scariest moment: The old lady. I won't say more because it comes toward the very end of the movie and I would be spoiling everything.

4. 28 Days Later

My husband and I went to see this when we were dating. We were one of the few people in the theatre. (That's kind of a pattern in my life... The perks to seeing movies when they've been out a while.)

Now zombies, for the most part, don't scare me. Shuffling corpses that are rotting on their feet and can be taken out by a blow to their softening craniums? No problem. Of course, in a hoarde there could be a problem.

And if it's a hoard of rage virus infected zombies, get me out of dodge.

Scariest moment: The zombies in the church. You don't see them...and then you do.

3. Mama

Children in horror movies are creepy. The children in Mama are
extraordinarily creepy as they've been left on their own for so long, they're essentially feral.

But beyond the creepy children is the fluid creature that is Mama (played by Javier Botet - yes, there's an actual person behind the character). Stretched tall and thin with long fingers and flowing hair, she is beautiful and grotesque and terrifying. And when she slithers from the shadows or up out of the ground....

I jumped during this movie. And that just doesn't happen.

Scariest moment: Annabelle realizing the figure she just saw was not, in fact, one of the children playing.

2. Candyman

Based on "The Forbidden," a short story by Clive Barker, this movie follows Helen (Virginia Madsen), a grad student completing a thesis on urban myths, who encounters the legend of the "Candyman." The story and movie is a twist on the Bloody Mary tale.

I don't remember how old I was the first time I saw this, but for a while I was very, very careful about how often I said the title and I had trouble looking in mirrors for a few days afterward. Even now, after watching it I sometimes expect my reflection to do something independent of my actions...and I'm still reserved about saying the name of the movie. (You'll note I only typed it twice.)

Scariest moment: The first time Candyman speaks. Tony Todd has this sonorous voice that rattles your very bones.

1. The Ring

The Ring (a remake of the Japanese film Ringu) was one of those movies I didn't see until it was out of the theatre. Everyone had been raving about it so my natural inclination was to presume that I'd probably hate it. (I've been burned often enough.)

I didn't hate it. I was very pleasantly surprised. In 2002, it had been a long time since I'd seen a horror movie that made the skin along my spine crawl.

From the grey-blue underexposure of the cinematography to the subtle music to the slow building climax, tension and threat permeates the movie.

And the sight of Samara eventually crawling out of someone's television to wreak vengeance (or just havoc) is one that has stuck in my psyche. The first time I watched The Ring, I had to cover the television in my room in order to go to sleep.

Honestly, every now and then I still get a little nervous around an uncovered television.

Scariest moment: The well. I thought it was all over for Naomi Watts' character.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Grammatical Goofs

It's been said that most people write how they speak.

This works for some things (like character dialogue). ...To a degree. (There are still dialogue choices you don't want to make simply because "that's how people talk." But that's neither here nor there.)

When we talk, we add non-verbal fillers: umms and hmms and breath filled spaces that serve to provide emphasis and separate one phrase from another.

When we write, we have to use syntax and punctuation in order to achieve the same kind of effect.

If you don't have them, you end up with some pretty kooky mistakes. My favorite ones are those that come about due to dangling/misplaced modifiers and improperly used commas.

I saw an accident walking down the street. 

I've heard of people being described as "walking accidents," but I don't think that's the meaning here.

....aside from the small group of officers and their robot guard that had decided to make camp at the abandoned bed and breakfast that she easily dispatched.

Congratulations. That B&B will never bother anyone again.

Let's eat Grandma.

Hannibal? Is that you? Obviously, unless you're intended to actually cook and eat your matron, this would be: Let's eat, Grandma.

She finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog.

You might recall this one from a (fake) magazine cover but, sadly, I've seen people make similar mistakes.

Do you have some favorite grammatical goofs? Share in the comments.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where You Least Expect Them: Story Ideas

The other day, during my roundabout trip to get more stamps (I'm one of those people who still prefers to conduct certain business my mail), I drove past a man on a street corner.

Bearded, with a bandana around his head, a stuffed-full backpack and a dog at his feet, he looked like your every-day drifter.

I had just enough time, as I went through the light, to get a glance at the cardboard sign he held.

time traveler needs $ for a new flux capacitor

I haven't seen that particular sign before, but I've seen others like it.

And that day I said to myself: imagine if it was true.

I find I get a lot of ideas at random moments, in random places, inspired by increasingly random things: the way someone walks, a sentence on a billboard, a holiday window display.

Many of them may never see the light of day. But they do a fine job of shoring up my morgue file and every now and then I have one that sticks with me until it develops into something resembling a story.

What's the most interesting thing (event, person, object) that's sparked an idea where you least expect it? 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Music Mondays: Songs for the Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies are in.


I'm not telling you anything you don't know.

I'm a zombie fan from way back and while I'm a little burnt out on the recent zombie explosion, I still find myself, every October, rewatching some classics (Night of the Living Dead) and some not-so classics but still fun (Resident Evil).

In the spirit of zombies and Halloween, I'm compiling my personal soundtrack for the zombie apocalypse.

What songs would you include on yours?

End Of The World - Cold
O Death - Jen Titus
Run Through The Jungle - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Wintersleep - Dead Letter and the Infinite Yes
Pretty Piece Of Flesh - One Inch Punch
What A Wonderful World - Joey Ramone
Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life - Emilie Autumn
Bang Bang - Cher
Blue Sun - Darling Violetta
Closer - Kings of Leon

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On Creativity

I work much better when I'm surrounded with creativity.

My apartment is awash in other people's stories. There are rows and rows of books and movies and music. I hang other people's dreams and nightmares on my walls. I place their passions and hopes in fine display on my shelves.

When I'm crossed up, mentally battered, blocked or just not able to get in tune with my creative side, I turn to these items. Stare at a painting, listen to an album, re-read a favorite book that's going soft and worn from all my years of seeking inspiration in its pages.

In my experience, creativity feeds off creativity.

A painting inspires a short story. A short story inspires a film. Someone's photography inspires a poem that inspires a song that sparks a novel.

When we create something—on the smallest scale or the grandest—and put it out there for everyone to see, we cast an idea into the waters of human thought.

We create a ripple effect.

And who knows how long it will last or how long it will span?

Who knows what it will inspire?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

100 Words: Making Your Mark

She drinks a glass of wine for each person who’s forgotten her name, eats a soggy crab puff for everyone who stumbles over it.

When Janine from Accounting—with whom she’s had pleasant discussions in the past—looks right through her, something deep inside her chest warms, expands, bursts.

She drains the last of her wine, wades into the crowd.


Jackson Robins is the firm’s most eligible bachelor, subject of water cooler fantasy. Gripping his tie, she pulls his lips flush to her own. Silence falls like a bomb.

Come Monday, her name will be imprinted on every tongue. 

Written for VelvetVerbosity's 100 Word Challenge: Anonymous.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Music Mondays: Drunken Whaler Edition

Perhaps because it's October and Halloween is weeks away or perhaps because I've been revisiting the world of Dishonored these last few weeks, I've had this particular song on a loop in my head.

It's a (more sinister and macabre) version of the "Drunken Sailor" sea shanty. And it's just my taste.

What do we do with a drunken whaler? 
Early in the morning
Slice his throat with a rusty cleaver.... 

All images are copyright to their respective owners and used according to Creative Commons agreements.