Weekend Music: He’s Got A Dream!

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From Disney’s Tangled. Seems a good choice, since I’m using the weekend music to encourage everyone to do the #WeekendCoffeeShare at PartTimeMonster, and we all know how much Diana loves some animated musicals. It also it has comic villains who aren’t really The Bad Guys singing merrily about their aspirations.

If you plan to write a coffee post this weekend, or have written one already, there will be a linky at the Monster tomorrow to share your post, and you can also tweet your link to #WeekendCoffeeShare and other bloggers might retweet it! Mine will run at Just Gene’O

Happy Friday!

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The Thursday Thirteen: Horror Films

Gene’O and I have switched off for the day—he’s writing about Tolkien in a special Thursday Thirteen at the Monster, and I’m writing here. As I sat here prepping for my comprehensive exams this weekend (and by prepping, I mean trying not to hyperventilate and eating Halloween Oreos), I thought to myself (prompted by said Oreos) “oh, it’s October, and this little monster hasn’t talked about horror films yet.” So that’s what I’m going to do today.

I’ve mentioned before that I like gory TV shows and all-things-zombie. And, naturally, I have an affinity for all manner of creatures and monsters. I also don’t mind being scared, especially if I can be scared in my own home, and especially if it’s October, which Sam and I have officially designated as a month of horror films. Below, I give you some of my personal favorites for the month.

1. Insidious, 2010.

I love haunted house stories, and I’ve watched this one with more, not less, horror each time I’ve seen it. The film maintains an excellent balance of newer film techniques with tried-and-true horror film staples. Plus, this creature that a friend and I isolated in the trailer still freaks me out, almost 5 years later.

Yeah, that thing. Night. Mare.

Yeah, that thing. Night. Mare.

2. 28 Days Later, 2002.

Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic world of contagion is fantastic. It does what the best horror movies do in that it provides us with a scapegoat to be afraid of (the virus, and those fast zombies) and then reminds us that what we should really be afraid of is humanity.

3. The Exorcist, 1973.

I was in college when I watched this for the first time, and I was absolutely frightened by it. The feeling lingered for a while, a few hours after the film was over. The re-watches don’t scare me as much, but it’s still a chilling film—superbly scripted and acted, with that spider-walk on the stairs still being one of the creepiest things I’ve seen on film.

4. Let the Right One In, 2008.

I’ve seen both this original, Swedish version and the American remake, Let Me In. And it was honestly a little difficult to decide which version to choose for the list. Each version is an adaptation of a vampire novel, and each has its own merits. The Swedish version ultimately topped out for me because of its careful timing and fantastic use of long, slow shorts and sparse dialogue to create tension.

5. The Cabin in the Woods, 2012.

This film surprised me, it really did. But then again, with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard at its helm and Kristen Connolly as its heroine, I suppose it shouldn’t have been surprised at the heady mix of cheekiness and gore. Not content just to subvert our expectations of the genre—it twists and rearranges them.

6. The Shining, 1980.

Jack Torrence is one of the scariest characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch on-screen, but at least 7/10’s of that is due to the performances put in by Jack Nicholson and Shelley Long. I’ve been watching this film since I was probably-too-young-to-watch-it, and I’m pretty sure that those twins in the hallway are the origin of my fear of kids-in-horror-movies.

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Those twins. Those. Twins. *shudder*

7. Zombieland, 2009.

A zombie film with Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Jesse Eisenberg? And they run into Bill Murray, you say? Sign me up. The film manages to be, at its heart, a zombie film, and while the characters are fun in a way that they rarely are during the zombie apocalypse, there are moments of tension, fear, and pop culture critique.

8. The Conjuring, 2013.

Another recent film, The Conjuring tells the story of the Warrens, American paranormal investigators, as they conduct an investigation and exorcism at the Perron family home. Using old-school scare tactics and striking cinematography, the new film manages a refreshing, cerebral take on the horror tropes of the investigator and the haunted house.

9. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, 1962.

Fantastically creepy, the aging sisters of Baby Jane are a stark reminder of the jealousy and animosity that can sit beside us, of the things we hide from ourselves and those closest to us. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are fantastic mirrors for one another.

10. Halloween, 1978.

Difficult to make a horror film list, especially in October, without mentioning this one. Mike Meyers has haunted our dreams for 36 years now, and he shows no signs of stopping. From the moment he stabs his sister to the film’s final act, Meyers is terrifying and mesmerizing.

meyers

Yikes!

11. Frailty, 2001.

Matthew McConaughey walks into a police station and claims to know who the God’s Hand Killer is, a terrifying serial killer who is revealed, through flashbacks, to be McConaughey’s father (Bill Paxton, in his directorial debut), an ultra-religious man who wakes up his two sons one night to instruct them on how to dispatch demons. The film is twisty-turny, and it’s a woefully underrated piece of suspense horror.

12. Psycho, 1960.

The king of horror films, Psycho still manages to be scary, over 50 years after its release. Norman Bates is a character of horrifying beauty.

13. Alyce Kills, 2011.

This is a new one for me, as I watched it for the first time last week. It has a bit of a sagging middle, but the opening act and the final act are fantastic. It’s plenty gory, though most of the gore is contained in the last 20 minutes of the film, and it’s also darkly funny and painful to watch Alyce, whose friends have missed all signs that she’s a budding psychopath, come completely unglued because of her guilt over a friend’s accidental death.

Alyce

Let me know what would make your list, and hop over to Part Time Monster and see Gene’O’s Thursday Thirteen over there!

Open Thread, Suzie81 edition

I’ve got no prompt today, so I’ll just thank a few bloggers for a linkup experience that’s been the highlight of my blogging week. Suzie81 posted a series of questions and asked other bloggers to answer them either on her thread or in a post and drop her the link. It’s a sort of community experiment.

Part Time Monster found it in her reader and ran with it at about the same time Suzie was shooting me the link. So of course I had to join in. I love stuff like this, especially if they involve answering questions. It’s like doing an interview. I posted my response late last night to be sure my link made it onto the thread before the deadline. EclecticAlli saw my post and posted her own answers not long after.  This morning, I woke to discover that Winter Bayne, Hannah of Things MatterNerd in the BrainApple Pie and Napalm and Not a Punk Rocker have also decided to get in on the fun.

It’s cool when linkups work out this well 🙂

Chatter away about anything at all on this thread, as long as you’re nice 😉 and have a great weekend!

True Blood Review: “May Be the Last Time” and “Almost Home” Review

Hey, hey…At this point, we’re only 2 hours from the series finale of HBO’s True Blood. My apologies for last week, which I missed reviewing due to a busy schedule and a Spanish minisession class. This week, I’ll combine the reviews, so you’ll get a two-fer.

“May Be the Last Time” gives (some) fans what they’ve been wanting desperately since the breakup of Sookie and Bill—the couple gets back together. Unfortunately, this is an aim that the series has made clear since at least the second episode of the season with clumsy stolen moments at the expense of Sookie’s relationship with the now-deceased Alcide. Speaking of which, isn’t it odd to jump from the bed one shared with a dead lover into a now-dying lover’s bed? Grief makes people do strange things, I suppose . . .

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Like summon Dr. Ludwig, a dwarf healer who runs from nothing—except the name of Sookie’s fairy grandfather, Niall. Ludwig ultimately proves unhelpful, and so does Niall, when Sookie calls upon him to use magic to heal Bill. There is no magic for Bill. But Sookie still stubbornly refuses to give up on finding a cure for the Hep V that has spun out of control since he was infected by Sookie’s Hep V positive blood.

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Meanwhile, in Dallas, Gus, Pam, and Eric try to coax Amber to reveal the whereabouts of her sister, who we now know is the cure to Hep V. Eric spins out of control and kills Amber in a fit of rage, But Gus and the Yakomono corporation sit him down for serious discussion. They can locate Sarah—and when they do, they want to synthesize her blood and sell it as a cure. Eric, they wish to be the face of their cure. But he cannot kill Sarah, at least for the time being. He reluctantly agrees.

And back in Bon Temps, Arlene has been having a serious heart-to-heart with Sam. Nicole has gone to her mothers’ home, and Arlene wonders if Sam can actually stay in Bon Temps without Nicole and the baby. I think the show is working toward Sam leaving Bon Temps, and it’s unfortunate that at this point, he should’ve already gone. Sam’s character is in stasis, even more so this season than perhaps anyone else, and he only appears in a will-he-or-won’t-he scenario at this point. Anyway Sam leaves Bellefleur’s, and Arlene is left there alone. She has a dream about Keith, the vampire who saved her when she was almost drained of blood in Fangtasia and who hit on her at the party after Alcide’s death. He shows up in Bellefleur’s pretty quickly thereafter. And with grace and humor, the show handles one of the more difficult parts of this epidemic—Arlene is Hep V positive. She tells Keith, who just smiles and says “well, then we’ll dance.” It was a nice, nuanced moment for both characters.

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Lafayette and Lettie May are digging in the ground of their old home. They startle a little girl, who goes to get her parents, but we don’t see much more of what happens. And Bill is still having flashbacks, this time of learning that his father’s illness means that he needs to marry to ensure his mother will be cared for and of meeting Caroline, his wife via the arrange marriage. Bill’s flashbacks are interesting, sure, but I think they’d have had more impact earlier in the series. At this point, it’s just too little too late to tell us more about Caroline.

Jason meets Hoyt to discuss arrangements for Maxine Fortenberry’s viewing and funeral, and the meeting is painful to watch. Hoyt has a beautiful, blonde girlfriend named Bridgette who catches Jason’s eye despite his constant attempts to ignore her presence (this is a little annoying). Hoyt is blissfully unaware of his history with Jason, but of course Jason still remembers everything that caused Hoyt to ask Jessica to wipe his memory and send him on his way. The scenes between Hoyt, Jason, and Bridgette are both humorous and painful. For instance, Jason cannot bear to leave Hoyt after he sees Maxine’s body, even if it is odd that a deputy would return home with a person after they’ve seen the body of their deceased loved one. He doesn’t want to hurt Hoyt anymore, so he lies about Maxine’s death, saying both that she was not a part of the mob and that her killer was apprehended.

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Across Bon Temps, Andy and Holly still search for Wade and Adilyn. The kids are in Violet’s home, though, and they’re about to get a rude awakening. Violet supplies them with a veritable room of sex toys, seeming to leave the two alone, but it isn’t long before she returns and ties them up. Jessica, of course, feels that Adilyn is in danger and bolts to the rescue. And now she’s caught.

And Sarah has found the abandoned Fellowship of the Sun. She tries to hide there, but she’s found, haunted by her ex-lovers: Jason, Steve Newlin, and Guru Dutta. The Christian-versus-Buddhism arguments are pretty entertaining, as is Jason’s now-and-then “you’re gonna die tonight” intervention. And then the Yakuza/Yakomono show up.

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…Which is essentially where we begin “Almost Home,” an episode dedicated to wrapping up some story threads here at the end.

Eric and the Yakomono draw Sarah out of her hiding place. For a moment, it looks as though Eric will kill Sarah despite the deal, despite Pam threatening to kill herself, but he drinks enough from her to be cured before throwing her at the feet of the corporation. Later, we find out that the corporation wants to engineer New Blood as less than a cure—as something less than perfect so that those infected keep buying. Eradication of the disease has never been their goal. Eric and Pam are surprisingly ok with this idea, perhaps because they’re stuck with few other options.

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In Bon Temps, Lafayette and Lettie May are still at their old home, digging holes in the yard. For some reason, rather than calling the police, the family has called the Reverend, who decides to join in the V trip by taking some of James’s blood. The small family then stands by while Lafayette, Lettie May, and the Reverend are treated to a vision of a young Tara’s birthday party ruined by a drunk, abusive father. This is all a little strange, not least because the entire purpose of this vision was to lead Lettie May to a buried gun that Tara couldn’t bring herself to use on her father. The two apologize to each other (again). Now I was never really in the camp of Tara-haters, but for her season-long haunting to end this way is irritating. It’s re-hashed ground. Hopefully this time Tara is really at rest, is really gone.

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Bridgette and Hoyt, meanwhile, are arguing over Bridgette’s ill-timed admission that she’d like to have children. (This is beginning to make me think that we’re headed for a Jason/Jessica/Hoyt/Bridgette swap. Oh please, no.) Jason is with them, still, and when he receives pictures of Jessica, tied up and being tortured by Violet, he races out the door. Bridgette, though, insists upon coming along, refusing to stay in the house with Hoyt after their argument. At least Jason is smart enough to leave her in the car with a gun when he arrives at Violet’s house. Inside, he finds Adilyn, Wade, and Jessica tied up and Violet ready to torture them. And, predictably, he gets himself captured, too. But just when Violet has gone full-monologue, Hoyt shows up and shoots her in the back, bringing a quick, unexpected end to the story-line.

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Jessica is enamored by Hoyt, and he seems enamored of her, too. But that brings back all sorts of questions and problems. After all, this is not an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-esque situation in which both parties are unaware of what has previously happened. Jessica has full knowledge of what happened before, and even if it is cute to see the chemistry between the two actors, the creep-factor of her knowing what Hoyt doesn’t know about their prior relationship is pretty high.

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Eric shows up at Bill’s house, cured. Sookie is ecstatic, but Eric doesn’t truly understand why until she reveals that Bill is sick, that he contracted Hep V from her and that her fairy blood is speeding up the illness. Eric is surprisingly affected by the news and promises to help. And a very sick Bill has a dream of Sookie. She is sitting in a rocking chair with a baby. But when we get closer, we realize that the baby is actually a dark creature, something like a grim reaper or a demon.

But of course, Sookie cannot wait for Eric’s help. She drives to Fangtasia alone, barely makes it past the guards, and is “glamoured” by Eric before she leaves. Of course, though, she still cannot wait for Eric, and she finds that Sarah Newlin is in the basement, that she is the cure. She then manages to haul Bill and Jessica to the basement of Fangtasia with her. Bill won’t drink, though, and at the end of this episode we’re left wondering whether Bill is going to embrace his death in a way that only Godric has embraced his death on this show.

It looks like next week we’ll get some more answers as well as work up to the end-of-the-end.