Stories For Ghosts

Literary Horror for Everyone

Category: Art (page 2 of 2)

Autumnal Musings on the Wonderfully Morbid Art of Edward Gorey

Oftentimes, autumn puts me in a melancholy mood and only the most wonderful morbid art makes me feel better. Someting pretty, something scary, and something Gorey.

It has to do with how autumn affects me. The nights get very cold. The days wilt and dim under the flat, gray light. In Texas, because we don’t have real autumn, the leaves wither to a dull brown instead of the fiery colors other states enjoy. As such, the sickly brown emphasizes the emaciated, skeletal tree branches. And as the sky begins to darken earlier and earlier, all I find myself wanting to do is be home. There is a small voice urging me to go home, to get inside where it’s warm and safe.

I experience a curious mixture of forlornness and calm during these cold months. There is beauty in the cold. It possesses a certain elegance as it sweeps in with its frosty nights and frigid winds. Despite my apprehension of the cold (I am from Texas, y’all), when it washes over me in a sudden gust, I accept it.

And it always makes me think of the dark. Of the end.

It has always been this way for me. Every year.

I don’t share this to be overly morbid. There are some wonderful bright points in autumn and winter—tons of holidays, good food, time spent with family and friends, and no work! I only mean to acknowledge the connection.

I’ve always thought it had something to do with the fact that, around Halloween and into November, my grade school’s library would put out all the really good scary books. Overnight, beautifully illustrated copies of the children’s version of Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein would appear. There were numerous volumes of ghost stories, urban legends, and campfire tales. One of the best and creepiest of these books was the Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark series, of which I’ve already written about here and here. Those books were deliciously scary, so good that most kids felt compelled to read them, no matter how much those pictures frightened them.

Another one of my favorites was the wickedly artful The Gashlycrumb Tinies, written and illustrated by Edward Gorey. I always remembered those dark tales, despite having long forgotten the name of the author. I remembered the sinister rhyme, offered to help small children remember the alphabet. I remembered the demented but clever drawings.

And it was a particularly grey day that inspired me to dig through my books to revisit this part of my childhood.

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My Favorite Beautiful Horror Films

I love horror. I love beauty. And I love both of those things in one pretty, shiny, terrifying package.

There’s something to be said for being scared by something aesthetically and visually enticing. A movie with striking, artistic visuals pulls me in and won’t let go. It creates a delicious tension that deepens my experience of being scared. Who doesn’t want that?

Here are some of my favorite beautiful horror films. I won’t bother you with too much commentary. If you are enticed by any of these films, you can find the plot summaries hyperlinked in the titles. Otherwise, save for a few comments, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves! Leave your own recommendations in the comments!

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The Man Behind the Xenomorph: A New H.R. Giger Documentary

Great news, Internet!

H.R. Giger, Swiss surrealist, artist, and creator of the iconic designs behind such films as Alien, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, and Species, is the subject of an intriguing new documentary. Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World, directed by Belinda Sallin, offers an intimate view of the artist during an interview conducted in his dark and cluttered home. The man, the legend, invites the viewer to follow him deeper and deeper into the recesses of his home, which is full of stacks of books, his painting and sculptures, and countless items assembled for inspiration.

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Review of Spring (2015): Horror and Romance

After a month of crazy work-life imbalance, I’m finally posting my review of Spring, a brand new horror movie from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead. These guys are no strangers to the horror genre—Benson and Moorehead worked together on the 2012 horror movie Resolution. Benson also directed and wrote the “Bonestorm” segment of V/H/S: Viral. Spring, the most recent project from these up-and-comers, is available on certain online platforms.

I was excited to watch, hopeful that it would be another well-constructed, thoughtful horror movie. It did not disappoint.

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Dark, Creepy Poems (Part II)

Here is the second installment of my NaPoWriMo 2015 poem challenge. I’m writing a poem a day for the entire month of April, all of which I’ve posted to Instagram and am now compiling here. Check out the first installment here.

For this series of poems, I was inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, Greed, and Pride.

Enjoy! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @storiesforghosts.

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Dark, Creepy Poems (Part I)

Sorry for the lack of recent posts! Life has been very hectic and I’ve been trying to get some writing/editing/reading done in the rare moments when I have down time.

Also, happy NaPoWriMo month! In case you aren’t familiar with NaPoWriMo, it’s the sister of NaNoWriMo, but instead of writing a novel, participants write a poem a day. By the end of April, you should have 30 poems.

I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing, particularly my poetry skills. I decided that not only would I participate in NaPoWriMo 2015, but I would post my poems to Instagram as a way to force myself to not only write the poems, but to share them.

And I’m sharing them here. Enjoy! Let me know what you think. (Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @storiesforghosts.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night: Monsters and Moral Authority

agwhaan

Recently, I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the stunning film A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, the debut feature film from Ana Lily Amirpour, an Iranian-American director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. I’d been hearing a ton of buzz about this movie, but couldn’t a screening in my city. My town isn’t exactly a big stop on the indie film circuit, so it took a long time before a screening was finally scheduled and I could scoop up some tickets.

I was not disappointed. This film is, quite simply, amazing. I really enjoyed it.

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The Case for Horror

Every single person has encountered fear at some point in life. Human beings have always known fear. It is an unfortunate side effect of being alive. Some of fears are rooted in the physical; we are all afraid of bodily injury, disease, and our eventual deaths. Other fears are woven into the existential; we fear loneliness, insignificance, the loss of the control, and retribution for past sins. In some form or another, fear creeps into our thoughts and drives our actions.

Fear has always been with us. To paraphrase Lovecraft, fear was the first emotion and is the most powerful.

Of all the art grappling with this emotion, none so perfectly captures humanity’s relationship with fear as horror. This seems to go without saying. It’s not news that horror deals confronts our deepest individual fears. It’s no secret that horror also mirror the fears of human society, transcending or exposing differences based on a host of factors including gender, race, class, ethnicity, politics, and nationality. Horror succeeds precisely because it openly acknowledges fear.

But do we need to be watching such films and reading such books? Do we really need more reminders that the world is a scary place? Is it not enough that awful stories bombard me from all sides—the 24-hour news cycle, news alerts on phones, social media? Don’t we absorb enough terrible images and read enough about humanity’s capacity for monstrous activity? What is the point in willfully subjecting oneself to scary stories?

Simply put, though the news shows real events that have happened to real people in real time, it’s easy to maintain psychological distance. It’s easy to change the channel. It’s easy to switch over to Facebook. It’s easy to say, That won’t happen to me, that’s not my life.

But a story, dressed up in theatrics and disguised in an outlandish premise, invites to stay. It worms into your brain and holds your attention. Stories lowers your defenses. Stories make it easier to listen.

There is no doubt that immeasurable value lies in confronting what makes us afraid. Through the horror genre, we are challenged to confront ourselves, even if fake blood and gore obscure the truth. No other genre has the same capacity to cut through our defenses and get right to the darkness in our hearts. Without the introspection that horror offers, we would be nothing but slaves to our insecurities and fears. We would be unable to grow as human beings. We would be unable to truly enjoy life.

We would be ghosts.

We need horror because that is one of the best ways we can understand ourselves. As Stephen King put it, “We need ghost stories because we are ghosts.”

 

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