Dead Alive

I saw Dead Alive by Peter Jackson the other night for the first time. This movie was released as Braindead in New Zealand, but is known as Dead Alive in North America. I really enjoyed this movie. It has a good and easy-to-follow plot: a man lives with his domineering mother, and she is upset when he falls in love with Paquita, a shopkeeper’s daughter. They go to the zoo together, and his mother follows them and snoops. She is then bitten by the dreaded Sumatran Rat monkey. Slowly, she turns into a zombie, along with a bunch of other people!

This movie is gross (like the lawn mower scene), but in a good way. For example, when Lionel and his mother have guests and they are eating lunch, and his mother squeezes the thing on her arm and pus flies into the food…it was one of those moments where you’re like “Ew!” but then you laugh because it is funny. Or when Lionel tells his mother the guests are there, he sees that she has a piece of flesh hanging from her cheek and has to fix it. This is a great movie to watch if you like gross things, and if you like to laugh!

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Movies for Halloween

I picked five movies that I think are good for Halloween. I tried to pick ones that aren’t extremely popular or overrated (except for Halloween) because it seems like when you look at other sites who list their favorite horror films, they always list the same movies over and over. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t mind a mainstream horror movie IF it’s good, but I like the lesser-known ones because they feel more special.

The first film is Satan’s Little Helper, a low-budget movie. A little boy is obsessed with a game called Satan’s Little Helper. He wants to meet Satan, so he can…yes, you guessed it…become his helper. Well, when he first meets Satan, the little boy is happy to oblige. He tells Satan to run over a pregnant woman while Satan pushes him in a shopping cart, they go to the store to get candy, and pick up poison to put in the candy.This movie is hilarious, and kind of creepy when you think of the fact that Satan changes disguises and follows the family constantly.

The next movie is Dead End, by Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa . I saw this film years ago, and I liked it then. It is definitely an underrated movie, which is a shame. Frank, Laura, Richard, Marion and her boyfriend are headed to Laura’s mother’s house for Christmas dinner. Well, Frank decides to take a shortcut, which turns out to be just about the dumbest thing he could’ve done. It’d be creepy to not be able to get to where you’re going…just going in circles over and over. The woman they meet isn’t the sweetest thing, either.

My next pick is Frozen, by Adam Green. Childhood friends Dan and Joe, along with Dan’s girlfriend, go to a ski resort. They convince the attendant to let them on because they don’t want to pay full price. On the way up, the ski lift shuts down, but starts up again. Before they go home, they are eager to take one last run down the hill. It is dark by now and they discover that the resort has closed because of a storm. They eventually get trapped in the air, and what ensues is a creepy story of three teens waiting for help, to no avail. I like this movie because it plays on the fear of heights, the fear of freezing to death, and the fear of not knowing what is out there, waiting to get you.

My fourth pick is Trick ‘r Treat, by Michael Dougherty. This movie is clever because it tells four different Halloween-related stories. The one element that ties the stories together is Sam, the adorable little trick-r-treater dressed in orange pajamas and a burlap sack. His purpose in the film is to remind people to obey the rules of Halloween. This movie has women turning into werewolves, a serial killer/principal, a neat story surrounding a school bus accident, and a woman’s severed head with a giant lollipop in her mouth. And that’s not all. This movie is a unique take on fairy tales and myths surrounding Halloween, and I hope there’s a sequel.

My last movie is Halloween by John Carpenter. This is the biggest movie on my list, in terms of popularity. Michael Myers stalks and murders babysitters on Halloween night. The movie starts with Myers killing his sister. He is hospitalized but eventually escapes. He stalks Laurie Strode as she babysits two small children. I think Michael Myers is one of the creepiest killers of any film, ever. Just the fact that he wears that expressionless mask, waiting to strike. Not to mention the creepy soundtrack…it fits perfectly. I’m not a fan of Rob Zombie’s version of the film…it’s hard to remake a film and do it justice. I’ll take the original any day! So, sit back, and watch these films for Halloween!

Edgar Allan Poe

Since it’s October and almost Halloween, I think a post on Edgar Allan Poe is in order…

Edgar Allan Poe was born to traveling actors in Boston on January 19, 1809. Poe had two siblings, and within three years of his life, both his parents were dead. This lead to Poe being taken in by a tobacco merchant, John Allan, in Virginia.   Mr. Allan would rear Poe to be a businessman and a Virginia gentleman, but Poe had dreams of being a writer in emulation of his childhood hero the British poet Lord Byron. Early poetic verses found written in a young Poe’s handwriting on the backs of Allan’s ledger sheets reveal how little interest Poe had in the tobacco business. By the age of thirteen, Poe had compiled enough poetry to publish a book, but his headmaster advised Allan against allowing this.

In 1826 Poe left Richmond to attend the University of Virginia, where he excelled in his classes while accumulating considerable debt. The miserly Allan had sent Poe to college with less than a third of the money he needed, and Poe soon took up gambling to raise money to pay his expenses. By the end of his first term Poe was so desperately poor that he burned his furniture to keep warm.

Humiliated by his poverty and furious with Allan for not providing enough funds in the first place, Poe returned to Richmond and visited the home of his fiancée Elmira Royster, only to discover that she had become engaged to another man in Poe’s absence.   The heartbroken Poe’s last few months in the Allan mansion were punctuated with increasing hostility towards Allan until Poe finally stormed out of the home in a quixotic quest to become a great poet and to find adventure. He accomplished the first objective by publishing his first book Tamerlane when he was only eighteen, and to achieve the second goal he enlisted in the United States Army. Two years later he heard that Frances Allan, the only mother he had ever known, was dying of tuberculosis and wanted to see him before she died. By the time Poe returned to Richmond she had already been buried. Poe and Allan briefly reconciled, and Allan helped Poe gain an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Before going to West Point, Poe published another volume of poetry. While there, Poe was offended to hear that Allan had remarried without telling him or even inviting him to the ceremony. Poe wrote to Allan detailing all the wrongs Allan had committed against him and threatened to get himself expelled from the academy. After only eight months at West Point Poe was thrown out, but he soon published yet another book.

Broke and alone, Poe turned to Baltimore, his late father’s home, and called upon relatives in the city. One of Poe’s cousins robbed him in the night, but another relative, Poe’s aunt Maria Clemm, became a new mother to him and welcomed him into her home.  Clemm’s daughter Virginia first acted as a courier to carry letters to Poe’s lady loves but soon became the object of his desire.

While Poe was in Baltimore, Allan died, leaving Poe out of his will, which did, however, provide for an illegitimate child Allan had never seen. By then Poe was living in poverty but had started publishing his short stories, one of which won a contest sponsored by the Saturday Visiter. The connections Poe established through the contest allowed him to publish more stories and to eventually gain an editorial position at the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. It was at this magazine that Poe finally found his life’s work as a magazine writer.

Within a year Poe helped make the Messenger the most popular magazine in the south with his sensational stories as well as with his scathing book reviews. Poe soon developed a reputation as a fearless critic who not only attacked an author’s work but also insulted the author and the northern literary establishment. Poe targeted some of the most famous writers in the country.  One of his victims was the anthologist and editor Rufus Griswold.

At the age of twenty-seven, Poe brought Maria and Virginia Clemm to Richmond and married his Virginia, who was not yet fourteen. The marriage proved a happy one, and the family is said to have enjoyed singing together at night. Virginia expressed her devotion to her husband in a Valentine poem now in the collection of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and Poe celebrated the joys of married life in his poem “Eulalie.”

Dissatisfied with his low pay and lack of editorial control at the Messenger, Poe moved to New York City. In the wake of the financial crisis known as the “Panic of 1837,” Poe struggled to find magazine work and wrote his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

After a year in New York, Poe moved to Philadelphia in 1838 and wrote for a number of different magazines. He served as editor of Burton’s and then Graham’s magazines while continuing to sell articles to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger and other journals.  In spite of his growing fame, Poe was still barely able to make a living. For the publication of his first book of short stories, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, he was only paid with twenty-five free copies of his book. He would soon become a champion for the cause of higher wages for writers as well as for an international copyright law. To change the face of the magazine industry, he proposed starting his own journal, but he failed to find the necessary funding.

In the face of poverty Poe was still able to find solace at home with his wife and mother-in-law, but tragedy struck in 1842 when Poe’s wife contracted tuberculosis, the disease that had already claimed Poe’s mother, brother, and foster-mother.

Always in search of better opportunities, Poe moved to New York again in 1844 and introduced himself to the city by perpetrating a hoax. His “news story” of a balloon trip across the ocean caused a sensation, and the public rushed to read everything about it—until Poe revealed that he had fooled them all.

The January 1845 publication of “The Raven” made Poe a household name. He was now famous enough to draw large crowds to his lectures, and he was beginning to demand better pay for his work. He published two books that year, and briefly lived his dream of running his own magazine when he bought out the owners of the Broadway Journal. The failure of the venture, his wife’s deteriorating health, and rumors spreading about Poe’s relationship with a married woman, drove him out of the city in 1846. At this time he moved to a tiny cottage in the country. It was there, in the winter of 1847 that Virginia died at the age of twenty-four. Poe was devastated, and was unable to write for months. His critics assumed he would soon be dead. They were right. Poe only lived another two years and spent much of that time traveling from one city to the next giving lectures and finding backers for his latest proposed magazine project to be called The Stylus.

While on lecture tour in Lowell, Massachusetts, Poe met and befriended Nancy Richmond. His idealized and platonic love of her inspired some of his greatest poetry, including “For Annie.” Since she remained married and unattainable, Poe attempted to marry the poetess Sarah Helen Whitman in Providence, but the engagement lasted only about one month. In Richmond he found his first fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton was now a widow, so began to court her again. Before he left Richmond on a trip to Philadelphia he considered himself engaged to her, and her letters from the time imply that she felt the same way. On the way to Philadelphia, Poe stopped in Baltimore and disappeared for five days.

He was found in the bar room of a public house that was being used as a polling place for an election. The magazine editor Joseph Snodgrass sent Poe to Washington College Hospital, where Poe spent the last days of his life far from home and surrounded by strangers. Neither Poe’s mother-in-law nor his fiancée knew what had become of him until they read about it in the newspapers. Poe died on October 7, 1849 at the age of forty. The exact cause of Poe’s death remains a mystery.

Days after Poe’s death, his literary rival Rufus Griswold wrote a libelous obituary of the author in a misguided attempt at revenge for some of the offensive things Poe had said and written about him. Griswold followed the obituary with a memoir in which he portrayed Poe as a drunken, womanizing madman with no morals and no friends.  Griswold’s attacks were meant to cause the public to dismiss Poe and his works, but the biography had exactly the opposite effect and instead drove the sales of Poe’s books higher than they had ever been during the author’s lifetime.

*Information above taken from http://www.poemuseum.org/life.php

What I like about Poe’s works is how full of mystery they are (I haven’t read all of them). There is so much atmosphere, and I think he remains one of the best horror/mystery authors of all time.

 

 

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Written by Joss Whedon, his brothers Zack and Jed, and actress  Maurissa Tancharoen, Dr. Horrible’s Sing- Along Blog stars Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Dr. Horrible (and is very funny). He wants to be accepted into the Evil League of Evil, and is informed by Bad Horse (leader of ELE) that his application will be evaluated and that they are keeping an eye on his crimes. Dr. Horrible sets out to steal some wonderflonium for his time-stopping Freeze Ray so he can take over the world!…

My favorite part of this movie was the singing and just the funniness (like when Dr. Horrible responds to emails from his viewers). Neil Patrick Harris did a really good job. Other actors include Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion and Simon Helberg.

         Facts about Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

  • Joss Whedon funded the movie himself, for a little over $200,000.
  • Several of Whedon’s colleagues have small roles in the movie (such as an executive producer from Buffy and writers from Buffy and Angel ).
  • Joss and his brothers all did the singing voices for the Bad Horse Chorus.
  • Joss Whedon acted as his own studio, so that he could have complete freedom with this project.
  • The Coin Wash laundromat is located near Echo Park in Los Angeles.