the big empty

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2016 by fawn krisenthia

an unedited rambling of my love/hate

relationship with the social media

dumping ground

 

the irony is strong with this one.

 

toprail

a slippery slope.  dangers lurk below.

 

[writer’s notei wrote the following thoughts well over a year ago.  never had any intentions of ever posting this since it is supremely personal and, honestly, some of it’s embarrassing, but i am trying to get better.  part of my process is writing about my very serious struggle in an irreverent manner, and sharing. i actually texted a friend this morning (after another night of not sleeping) that i was thinking of sharing more about my social anxiety, depression, mental disorder.  he said DO NOT DO IT.  I said maybe writing / being open about it more will help people?  I also said that I personally don’t feel better, more alone actually, but maybe… maybe, it’s not about me.  He said “fuck supportive people.  they just want to know someone off in the head so you can become the token nut job.  Everyone pretends they understand.  And the only support out there are the ones who also have it, and they’re the worst support.”  I cried.  And then I decided, almost immediately, “no.”  No I can’t believe that.  I won’t.

i do want to write more.  the problem is, i am not moved to write about anything other than my experiences; things that make the world seem bigger and mysterious and wonderful, or painful things that make me want to hide inside myself.

and, ironically, i’ve never been shy.  that’s why this bullshit social anxiety/mental disorder is killing me.  so here she is. unedited]

 

[additional note that won’t make sense until later: i deactivated my facebook 8 months ago]

facebookfawn

where’s the “i don’t feel my genuine self” reason

 

[additional, additional note that also won’t make sense… ever: i reactivated my twitter account.]

twitterfawn

follow me? shoot me?  surprise me.

 

What is my Authentic Voice/Self? What is my False Self?

Authentic

  • I question my intentions all the time. I don’t know if what I say is genuinely what I think most of the time. I don’t know if I’m confusing open-mindedness with indecisiveness or the other way around.
  • I definitely use faulty intuition and landmarks when driving, instead of spatial reasoning.
  • I have a phobia of sounding vain or self-absorbed to people that I don’t know very well
  • What I am afraid of people seeing me as, in order (the first 3 are all equal):
    • unoriginal
    • untalented
    • desperate
    • stupid
    • vain
    • emo
  • I have a loyalty to horror movies
  • I enjoy watching horror movies, but I often have the urge to tell other people what i’m watching – not sure if it’s to celebrate and talk to other people like the IMdb board days of 1998-2007, or if it’s to keep my horror member card up to date. The more I think about it, the more I know it’s to connect with other people. It’s a topic I’m somewhat confident about (whether that is supported or unfounded confidence, I’m not sure, but I never claim to be an expert in anything more than what moves me), and it seems my social anxiety disappears whenever the topic is horror films, as evidenced by the rambling.

False

I’m currently reading all the tweets I made from 2009 on, and it’s kind of scaring the fucking shit out of me. I’m deleting them as I read them, and I am saying to myself ‘oh god, shut up!’ because 90% of the shit I wrote was SO FUCKING DESPERATE for someone to notice me. Probably my ex-boyfriend at the time. Shit like “going to a holocaust remembrance tonight for perspective. To escape myself for awhile” and “gorilla poetry reading with a friend tonite at the mall!” jesus FUCKING CHRIST how did I not see this before? And you know what the fucking worst part of it is???

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS ON FACEBOOK. I want to post some witty post on facebook that says something like “going through my old tweets and can’t believe how superficial and desperate I sound” complete with the holocaust quote and gorilla poetry quote. FOR WHAT PURPOSE? To brag about how much self-awareness I have?

This is not good. This is not good at all. I need to fix this fucking self-shit as soon as fucking possible, this is unacceptable.

First step is to continue to delete all these fucking tweets, but i’ll start recording them here so if I read this later, I will know I wasn’t overreacting. [responses to MYSELF in brackets]

DEAD TWEETS aka deleted twats from 2009 on

“gorilla poetry reading w/ a friend @ the mall tonite!” [SRSLY WHO GOES TO THE MALL]

“otis redding, bubble bath, beer, friday’s eve.” [whore!]

“The moon is absolutely gorgeous tonight” [ya don’t say]

“Time to go home, grab a beer, sit on my hill, and unwind.” [and I do still miss that hill.]

“day 1 of liquid diet starts tomorrow, but i wonder… is beer still ok?” [lush!]

“i’m the nicest person you’ll meet, but if you tailgate me, i WILL fantasize about eating 3 bowls of kashi cereal out of your skull. F’kers.” [this is still meaningful to me]

 

(more likely is that I wanted to impress the ex-boyfriend so much that I would have done anything to sound cool to him).

 

“I’m sitting next to a dude at Starbucks that looks just like Lebowski, it’s unreal.” [look at me errebody, i’m at starbucks]

“there is something therapeutic about driving at night, thinking, with belle & sebastian playing while fireworks go off in all directions.” [puke!]

“scrapbooking my trip to france and u.k. from 4 years ago; closing a chapter.” [oh my GAWD]

“WACO: ‘oh hai, nice to see you again! I’ve missed you…’ ME: (awkward silence)” [awkward silence]

“about to go test this ’24 hour’ gym thing.” [where’s that gun]

“(500) Days of Summer is not a love story, but an eye-opening experience and hope inducing all the same.” [translation: hey ex-boyfriend! Hi! Do you think of me?]

“2 words: bombay bistro. 3 more words: indian food comatose.” [look at me errebody, i’m eating ethnic food]

“Enjoying a perfect night at the Oasis. :)” [hey errebody, look at me i’m at a tourist trap]

“just finished a bellydance recital for my mid-east dance class! Gotta say, I loved it.” [i can’t.]

“L.A. for the day — at AUS Austin-Bergstrom” [hey errebody look at me I went to L.A. for work for 1 day and it SUCKED have you ever flown 9 hours on a plane just for a 30 minute meeting? Don’t.]

FOR THE LAST 5 HOURS I HAVE BEEN IMAGE CRAFTING.

SOMEONE SAVE ME FROM THIS HELL.

Ok that’s it.

 

What’s worse than reading something you wrote and realizing that it was very obviously influenced by something or someone else? Reading something you read and knowing it came originally from your brain, but only to find out that the same exact thought was popularized in some popular television show or song or book or, the fucking knife in the back, someone else’s social media post pre-dating yours.

Is there nothing in my head that belongs just to me?

I give up. I’m deleting everything.

The feeling to post on facebook is very strong. When I hear a song that touches me, my first thought is to post it to facebook. So ‘he’ might hear it and fall in love with me. The ‘he’ is on rotation, whoever is up on deck.  It could be my ex.  It could be that mime I fell in love with at church camp when i was 13.  It could that older female team leader who wore basketball jerseys everyday when I was Girl’s State.  I wrote her a letter on the last day of camp and put it in her locker.  I wonder to this day if I signed it or not.  I was 16.

There is an episode of Cheers where Carla Tortelli breaks up with her boyfriend (who just knocked her up) because there is someone out there, someone perfect for her, who is waiting for her, too. They’ve never met. But she is in love with him, and doesn’t want to be tied down just in case he finally shows up.

carlacheers

lifesavers in one pocket, a pack of camels in the other.  he’s trying to quit both.

It could be for “him.”  The Other.

More on that in another post later, maybe. One mental disorder discussion at a time.

So I need to exercise the muscle that prevents me from posting. By thinking first of my intentions.

Facebook Bullshit Litmus Test

(now listening to nin / hesitation marks on full blast because if i’m superficial then why not go full boar)

1. without thinking, picture the first person who will read your status and what you hope they feel

if the answer is: “him” and “thinks i’m cool, closer to falling in love with me, or reaffirming his decision about me” then NO POSTY

if the answer is: “who the fuck cares?” and/or “EVERYONE!” then go to next criteria (this is a decision tree suddenly).

2. without thinking, question whether you answered #1 honestly

if the answer is: “fuck, you caught me. I really wanted ‘him’ to see it so bad that I convinced myself that it didn’t matter if he did or not just to justify posting,” then pause for #3

(there are no other answers)

3. what if the answer is to just post SO MUCH that it dilutes any outcome you could possibly have with ‘him’ and it becomes something else? (this album is so terribly terrible. Honestly terrible, i’m having trouble continuing but I am) (I mean, my only objective criticism is that trent, you don’t have to rhyme so much! I get that you are pairing industrial pop or whatever with traditional song structure, but it takes me out of what you are saying when the rhyming is so elementary. “i have made a great mistake, pray the lord my soul to take” I just don’t.get.it.) (it’s like if the girl scouts took a field trip to hot topic and sat around a corporate-hating bonfire and broke out in a spirit song).

I hate myself. I re-read what I wrote just now and instantly thought “oh! I should post this to facebook!”

WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY

Can’t the world be filled with amazing, quirky, original, beautiful, emotive people that are hidden from view and are strewn about the world like a scavenger hunt you have to actively participate with in order to find these gems? Work for the reward? Not have it offered up on a plate for daily consumption?

But the thing is, I am afraid of people. I am afraid of what they think of me. So I have trouble meeting new people. Or thinking that I deserve to be friends with someone who is more amazing than me. The segregation from the confident weird kids and the shy weird kids in the high school cafeteria of life is very real. So I may know that they are cool (I am friends with them on facebook), but they will never know I am just as cool. If I don’t post cool stuff. If I don’t communicate my quirky thoughts.

(All Time Low – NIN. Case in fucking point.)

the worst worst part of this is halfway through writing this (around the time of the girl scouts at hot topic idea) I started thinking maybe I can turn this into a dreams in the bitchhouse blog post? And then tweet about it and have it auto-post to my facebook?

ok. fuck the blog post. This is for me only. I need to seriously work this shit out, and I don’t need to think about it through the eyes of some potential viewer, because then it’s probably not genuine.

Back to the topic that if I don’t post to facebook, then no one can see how cool I am. Let’s follow this logic through. What happens if you do post and you still have no evidence that people think you’re cool? Do you keep trying and trying until you get some sort of validation? But then even that expires and you need more validation and more and moar annd MOAR? So when does it stop? And how do you feel in-between the calm times, waiting for something cool to say, so you can post it, but sometimes life isn’t cool and it’s boring and so how do you know how to feel about yourself then? If no one is telling you you’re so cool you’re so cool you’re so cool (or liking your status or posting emoticons or texting you or tagging you in important shit?)

I know the answer. You feel like the world hates you. It’s that black and white. And maybe that’s where the disorder comes in. you have issues with your identity. So when you are relying on others to tell you who and what you are, it’s not stable, and it’s not consistent. And it’s confusing and paranoid and obsessive. And it’s rereading your own facebook posts 50 times in one week but all through the eyes of someone else, or how you imagine they felt when reading your posts, and judging yourself in lieu of other’s validation, and it’s a living hell. It’s insomnia at night wondering what people think. It’s an empty feeling inside, a hole that feeds on others, like a vampire but in the most boring way. It’s never knowing what you really think. Not trusting anything you think. Not trusting the intentions of what you think. Feeling so much self-absorbed judgment that it takes up your time. IT TAKES UP YOUR TIME. It deletes your motivation to do anything, because why do I do anything? For who do I do the things I do? Being afraid. Exhausted. So exhausted. And feeling guilty. Guilt for not being able to mentally handle doing all the things I want to do, and being all the things I wish I could be, because i’m to preoccupied with renting out the space in my mind to other people.

The actual self

Things I know about myself:

I get lost constantly, I get lost all the time, and I get really, really upset with myself when I get lost. I used to think it could be a quirky description for me, but now it’s a concern that I might actually have brain damage from events before I was 9 years old because I can’t grasp spatial reasoning.  It could also be because I got kicked out of the Brownies when I was a kid for stealing puppets, and they probably went over this shit after I was gone.

Things to know about myself:

I am brave. Or foolish. One or the other. Both are meant to prelude that I am open with my emotions. I self-disclose in almost everything I do or say. I think it has to do with connection. I desperately want connection with someone over my nostalgia. Which is nearly impossible, because no two people have the same experiences. But feelings from those experiences can be universal, I truly believe that. So when I want to try to put into words what I feel when I smell a campfire while out walking around in a suburb on a chilly november day, i’m really not trying to sound superficial or poetic for poetry’s sake or emo or whatever. I am just looking for someone to say ‘yes.’ and mean it. because I have been alone for most of my life, I feel alone, and even my fondest memories from amazing childhood are painful, because they make me miss my adoptive mother and sister so goddamn much, and it’s bittersweet knowing the fucking nightmare that took over when they left me so young, and I think about ‘what could have been.’

and it’s unfair to invest so much meaning in someone’s reaction to what I am trying to explain or describe about my nostalgia. It’s unfair to them (because it’s making a stronger, more meaningful connection based on little to no evidence of a reciprocated feeling) and it’s unfair to me because feeling connected to someone should be satisfied within my marriage and relationships with close friends, not strangers on the internet.

So why can’t I feel that in my marriage and close friends?

Because opening up yourself and being emotionally stripped naked is a lot easier when it’s to strangers. It gets real when it’s with people you know. Because if they judge you negatively, then their response could actually destroy you. Because they know you, and you can’t dismiss their opinion so flippantly as you can others.

I am paranoid about privacy. I guard against over-sharing with people I know. Just yesterday, I was talking to one of my best friends who just broke up with her boyfriend. She opened up to me, was vulnerable, and I was supportive which she appreciated. Then she asked me how I was doing. And all I could say was ‘i’m okay, just tired.’ and that is my standard answer to all my friends who ask what I’ve been up to (sometimes I say “hookers and blow” if I don’t even want to admit that i’m tired). What I really wanted to say is that I am not that okay, I can’t sleep at night, I am back taking otc sleeping pills every night but they don’t work, I also thought about starting anti-depressant last month even though I swore I would never ever take meds but it just got so bad that I had to do something (i ended up not), and that I am so much in my head lately that I can’t get out of bed, haven’t gotten out of bed for two weeks now, it’s affecting my life.

The point is, I have trouble with intimacy. How is this possible? Someone so desperately searching for connection with people, how can she be afraid of intimacy? Fear of intimacy is probably fed by my insecurity. Insecurity stems from my not thinking I deserve, or am capable of maintaining, relationships with intimidating people. But the need for connection is very real, so to bypass the fear of intimacy and rejection and insecurity, I post on social networks – which somewhat maintains my anonymity – or at least I think of it as almost anonymous – the beacon of the ‘cool’ message goes out via post, and I sit back and imagine all the connections i’m making with other people inside their heads, even when they don’t tell me (and they never do), I imagine it for them, and I feel validated even with the absence of validation, but only for a short while. And then I feel alone again. And also crazy, because that is a bat shit crazy thing to do. And then I write 3 or 4 pages of journal trying to describe this maddening feeling because it’s affecting my life.

And even writing about it is not that therapeutic because no one else is reading it, and I can’t feel anything if no one else reads it. I can only feel when I imagine feeling through the eyes of a stranger.

Facebook posts I’ll never post:

Why do I always cry when watching baby animal videos? What the fuck is wrong with me?

If you ever think you’re not interesting enough or have something cool enough to say in order to post to facebook, just remember this post and know you can do whatever you want (needs tweaking)

Things I Want to Do I Think

write short stories

new art once a month. for me. made by me for me. *only* share if you think it might help someone else going through the same shit.

take more photos

be in more photos

thecraterx

does this count

CURTAINS (1983) and a love letter to Terror Tuesday

Posted in Fun Stuff, Reviews, Uncategorized, Websites with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2016 by fawn krisenthia

Behind the CURTAINS (1983) Terror Tuesday Screening

(Why do I feel the compulsion to pronounce it “coi-tins”? like I’m Betty Boop or something?)

Last Fall, the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA)  threw a kick-ass kickstarter to purchase a 4K scanner in order to preserve 35mm film prints from the Something Weird collection.  An absolutely worthy cause to support in itself, but when I saw that one of the perks was to select a film for screening, program and co-host the much beloved Terror Tuesday at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, there was no question about supporting their project.

So why did I select CURTAINS?

I remember seeing the Curtains (1983) VHS cover when I was a kid, but for some reason I never picked it.  I suspect it’s because the cover had a doll (walking out of what now looks to me like a va-jay-jay), and I most likely assumed the movie was about a killer doll.  I’ve never been creeped out by possessed toys.  Over the years, I would hear about Curtains, and by the time I decided I needed to watch it, the film seemingly disappeared from the earth as did most VHS rental stores.

Curtains

 

I stumbled upon Curtains in January and decided it was time.  It was one of those films that, after watching it, I immediately had to re-watch it just to make sure I actually saw what I thought I saw.  It’s a special gem: a cobbled together mess of a film due to production issues, but that’s actually a gift to us viewers.  It’s part Lifetime movie, part female-centric campy slasher, with splashes of breath-taking surrealism.

The scene that really clenched it for me was the iconic ice skating scene – the creepy Audra skating towards Lesleh Donaldson in broad daylight.

vlcsnap-2015-01-13-22h34m26s20

 

There is something so fucking special about a horror scene taking place in full light, in full display, with nothing hidden or lurking in the shadows or under the cover of night.  Daymare horror adds a sense of realism; it strips away the security we associate with light; it weighs us down with a feeling of futility.  If this can happen in the middle of the day, than anything is possible, and no one is safe, and there is no where to hide.  Daytime terror is the reason Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) is my most favorite film.  It’s the reason I re-watch Witchboard (1986) more than anyone should.  It’s the reason why I can tolerate The Hills Have Eyes (1977 – I’m sorry, and to be honest, I am due for a rewatch).  It’s the best part of the recent anthology Southbound (2015).

This is the closest I can come to describing how daytime horror makes me feel: you know when you go to matinee showing of a life-changing film (horror or otherwise), you spend a couple of hours in a dark theater being terrified/transported into another world, and when the film is over, you step outside into the blinding light and have to squint your eyes to see?  And a feeling comes over you, this feeling that it’s still light outside and you still have so much time left in your day.  You feel a sense of excitement about what’s coming next.  Anything is possible.

This is why I selected Curtains for the Terror Tuesday screening.  There was something about it that evoked a feeling in me I rarely get in horror these days.  A sense that anything is possible.

Of course, there are other reasons to love Curtains… there is a Giallo-ish creepy doll, a hag-masked killer resembling Lisa Kudrow after a shit-ton of living hard, random interpretive dancing reminiscent of Kate Bush circa 1979 The Tour of Life (anything that reminds me of Kate Bush gets a gold-fucking-star), and Lynne Griffin who plays the most awkward and unfunny comedienne in the world, but is saved by saying the phrase “Skate on your face!”

Programming and preparing for the TT presentation was skate-on-your-face amazing.  I must thank Joe Ziemba (Director of AGFA & Genre Programming & Promotions) for being incredibly accommodating, generous, and supportive.  Austin is super-lucky to have Joe as the Terror Tuesday host every week!

 

So, I wanted to create an unofficial Curtains pre-show/post-show video as a thank you to everyone who came to the viewing.  My BFF Erika Instead from NY came to visit pretty much the day before the show, and the amount of prep work for this video was insurmountable – but to echo the theme of Curtains, “anything is possible,” especially when passion meets determination.  Plus, we’re some bad ass bitches.  Although we did spend the bulk of our time trying to decide how to pronounce “scythe” (is it sith-ee?  sci-tha?  skith-tha?) before we began filming Erika dressed as Audra doing Austin-type stuff and thangs.  “Audra Does Austin.”

We hit up Pinballz Arcade where Audra won a sombrero, to Graffiti Park at Castle Hill where I fell into the muggiest, muddiest, most flesh-eating bacteria filled puddle I’ve ever seen — and where we met a kind graffiti artist who let us borrow some spraypaint, to Jackalope where Audra faux-pounded some Lone Star, to Bookpeople where I serendipitously found a cat mask, to Veloway where Audra fell about 7 times the minute she put my skates on (so I convinced a bad-ass roller derby girl Randi Adams, aka Audra 2.0, to perform the creepy skate stalk scene), and finally to the Alamo Drafthouse.

I edited the video that same night in order to go live on Tuesday morning.  By the end of it, I was exhausted and loopy, and coming up with weird shit to film like ‘Meta Curtains‘ where Audra is watching herself watch herself watch herself watch Curtains, and then gets killed by her own scythe.  Totally worth it.  These will forever be our little home videos of an amazing day, and we hope you enjoy it.

I also wanted to make and hand out audio cassettes with a shitty recording of “Saved My Soul” by Canadian songster virtuoso Burton Cummings, which is the song that plays during my favorite scene in Curtains.  The only issue with this idea is that we had to listen to the song about 50 times in one day.  I find myself singing it throughout every day now.  Burton can’t be stopped.

curtains-tape

this song will forever haunt our dreams

 

The screening was magical and glorious.  I shared my feelings of what horror means to me (more on that in the ‘Love Letter to Terror Tuesday’ below), and Audra did an interpretive dance onstage.  Practicing for the dance was great in itself – I made Erika watch Kate Bush videos to prep.  When you find a friend that is game to do random, “weird” things like dance publicly on stage in front of 150+ people… well, you fucking keep em.  You hold them close.

My favorite part of the whole experience that I will cherish forever was hearing from people after the show.  There is nothing quite like laying your heart out on the stage, and having people pick it up, hand it right back to you, and say they feel the same way.

curtains-photobooth

Audra can’t pass up a photo booth

 

 

Love Letter to Terror Tuesday

When I was a kid, my mother would take me to the movie rental shop on the weekends, and I was allowed to pick out 2 or 3 horror movies.  Those films would end up being my babysitter when she was out at the bars.  I would gravitate towards the VHS covers that looked mysterious and gory, pick up the tape and feel the weight of it in my hands, and decide “this is the one.”  I clung wildly to this ritual as I was starving for stability – it was a comfort to know that I could escape for 6 hours into a world that fascinated me.  I began a relationship with every one of those movies I watched during that time in my life… it’s how I was introduced to Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Girl in Room 2A (1974), Demons (1985), etc.  They shaped who I am today.  They temporarily filled a space that was left in me, a hole I didn’t even know was there until I grew older and felt the weight of its persistent emptiness.

Terror Tuesday has replaced that old, weekly childhood ritual of wandering the VHS horror aisle; searching, exploring, deciding.  Now, incredible programmers bring amazing films for my eyes to feast on every week. It’s the place I can go to revisit the movies — these old friends — the ones that kept me grounded when I was a younger.  It’s a place I can go to start a whole new relationship with a film that may keep me company for the remainder of my life.

I live with debilitating social anxiety and depression.  It is what it is.  But nothing gets me out of my shell quicker than horror movies.  And nothing gives me the courage to embrace my weirdness and otherness like talking with people who also love horror movies.  Terror Tuesday is a consistent feeder of this much needed connection.  It’s not a small thing. Not for me or people like me.  Not for people who may feel crushing loneliness even when they’re surrounded by people, or feel completely empty even when their dreams come true – but isn’t it amazing how quickly that hole inside you fills up just by the thought of having the option to come home and watch A Nightmare on Elm Street?  It’s a nostalgia, a stability that some of us are still needing, even in our 30s and beyond. And honestly, it’s very beautiful and mysterious to me.  I will be forever grateful to the Alamo Drafthouse for creating such a comforting and safe space for people like me to escape for 2 hours a week while being surrounded by others who are just as intimately passionate about horror.

 

 

House of a Hundred Windows by Fawn Krisenthia

Posted in Uncategorized on June 15, 2015 by fawn krisenthia

pileobooks

She slowly closed the book and left the last sentence to flit around her mind, darting between all the things she understood and all the things that made the world so wonderfully mysterious. She laid the book on the table, looked up at the door, and turned the knob.

Countless doors before, she would always knock before entering, but not everyone answered. After years of this she learned it was best to just walk in unannounced.

Hunter S. Thompson sat in the corner of the room, aviator shades hiding his bourbon eyes. His was the last book she read, but she decided to walk through his room without stopping. She wanted to feel sober and Hunter always made her drink. There was a cursory nod, and they might have even fist-bumped had his hands not been full of guns.

Back to the hallway, she picked up Catcher in the Rye and disappeared deep into the cushions of the couch. This was her seventh time reading it. Afterward, and always, J. D. Salinger hugged her when she sauntered in with her shoulders hung low, tear trails screwing up her face. She was in love with him. There was a feeling of recognition, like when you’re in a record store and some boy walks in and you see him look at an obscure record, and your heart starts to race when everything you’ve ever felt listening to that record floods your body and suddenly you’re in a relationship with this stranger, and he doesn’t even know it.

J. D. would often apologize for giving her the wrong impression. She always left feeling more alone than when she entered.

Long hallway, massive couch, worn book, closed door.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr was always a hoot. He loved telling stories of how he went room to room in a house similar to this one, only he visited musicians, not writers. He would even tell her the stories that the musicians told him about being trapped in houses of their own, going room to room and talking to visual artists.

“Art feeds art, like a snake eating its own tail” he’d say to her. She asked him once if there was a way for her to get out of this windowless house, but he didn’t know, or if he knew he wasn’t telling.

Of course, she had long changed since the beginning. It was in her youth that she soaked up inspiration at the pace of a piece of bread thrown into a lake. Decades later, she realized that inspiration did not easily translate into the real world. At her lowest point, she started to believe that books could ruin your life, and that some of the most damaging books were the ones that convinced you to go for your dreams. But not all dreams come true.

Years of reading writers who also felt the pointlessness of life, with the added complication of being moved by their genius, had the unique effect of filling her with a directionless inspiration to grab these overwhelming feelings and rudely shove them into the shape of words – like a balloon that holds too much breath and is tied up so it can’t take off. Even if it did manage to get loose, though, she was sure it would just scuttlebutt close to the ground like a tumbleweed in a ghost town.

She visited Sylvia Plath the longest – twenty years, off and on. They loved to ruminate, and she felt a sense of connection with Sylvia that she never really felt with the others. In her last visit, they drank black tea and talked about the pressure to be a perfect woman, and how easily your arms bend back when you try to lift all the weight of it.

It was after that visit that the clock started showing up in the hallway, with its quiet booming of a clicking tick-tock.

Hallway, couch, book, door. Clock. Clock. Clock.

She couldn’t focus on reading anymore with that damned ticking. Very quickly, the deficient grasping for human connection with a stack of books morphed into the desperation to get out of the fucking house.

Full of want and untested bravery, she picked up a new book, the one that always sat on a table at the end of the long, dark hallway. She opened it and saw that it was blank. She tucked it under her arm, and finally decided to walk through the front door.

Expecting beams of golden light to pour through the portal and lift her up and away – this is what some of the old books had taught her – she was instead met with an empty, endless landscape of a certain darker Earth, filled with hordes of stumbling figures clutching their own blank books.

She attempted to make eye contact with the ones that walked with their heads up. She even tried conversing with a few that were kind enough to look back at her. But she always felt clumsy and frustrated with herself because the most important things to say are also the scariest to share with other people, and the most difficult to even put into words.

She ended up building another house, this one inside herself, and unlike the last one, she made sure that this one had a hundred windows. So that sometimes, when you look in her eyes, you can see her in the distance staring out of one right back at you.

Horror from the Ooze: An 80s Horror Fan Re-evaluates Her Life Decisions

Posted in Uncategorized on June 1, 2015 by fawn krisenthia

I’ve been lied to. Maybe by myself, maybe by the media, maybe even by fellow horror fans. But firmly cemented in my mind, until my recent viewing of Dracula II: Ascension (2003, directed by Patrick Lussier), was the idea that movies made from the early 2000s were all pretty much worthless.

I remember seeing a very much hyped Darkness Falls when it was released, and afterward thinking it was a harbinger for the end of the horror genre. Quickly buttressing this was the vapid Wrong Turn, Underworld (thus begetting my intense hatred for CGI), Scary Movie 3, and the blasphemous Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. As the movies were released, they validated my growing disdain for where the horror genre was headed. For the first 8 or 9 years of 2000, although I would begrudgingly watch most of these major sequels, remakes, franchises and CGI nightmares in order to keep my horror club card up-to-date, I knew I should never expect anything more than to be greasing the wheel of these great machines that aim to make as much money as possible from the masochistic horror fandom. Psychologists call this ‘learned helplessness.’ My reprieve came from watching my beloved ’70s-’80s-early ’90s films, foreign and independent films.

The seed of my hate for most horror from the ’00s (and how do you even say ’00s out loud? Can I pronounced that as “Ooze”?) was planted when the world was ushered into the DVD world, marking the end of the VHS era. I still remember going into a video rental section of my local grocery store in the early 90s and spending hours picking out a horror movie for the night, drooling over the dusty covers of Tales from the Crypt, The Girl in Room 2A, etc.  Ten years later, the exciting hunt through rows of horror VHS tapes went way, and was replaced with homogeneity; walls of every rental store lined with the exact same straight-to-DVD releases and knock-offs with similar names of every recent popular film. I negotiated with the manager of Hollywood Video to sell me the horror VHS section before they destroyed all their stock and went straight to DVD. By the end of the first decade, the internet killed the video store in my town altogether. What was once a warm ceremony of finding an ’80s diamond in the rough became a cold, transactional click of a mouse on a Netflix queue. A service which, admittedly, I’ve used since 2008 (you can only rage against the machine for so long before you realize you currently live in a small town with no options to rent movies, and by the time I moved to a bigger city, I had already drunk the kool-aid).

For me, all this got mixed in a swirling cesspit of ‘us vs them’ mentality. VHS vs DVD. Later, DVD vs Internet. ’80s-’95 classics vs modern crap. Original vs Remake. Old school horror fans vs those people who claim to ‘love scary movies’ and then name Halloween remake as their favorite. Sadako vs fucking Samara. And so on. TL;DR – I’ve hated 80% of all horror from the early 2000s because that time period killed my childhood via the eradication of VHS first and then the rental store, because that was the beginning of popular use of CGI over old school special FX, and because the movies being made were for the obvious purpose of making money (ie sequels, franchises and unimaginative remakes).

Now I must re-think everything. After watching Dracula II: Ascension, a sequel to the mildly popular Dracula 2000, I was shocked at how much I screamed ‘yeah!’ at the screen. It was thoroughly enjoyable. And as I was enjoying it, I was equally dismayed at how much I had disregarded it as just another money-grabbing film fart. Even the group shot on the DVD cover was formulaic for that time, signifying a turd. Now, I understand that even though Dracula II turned out to be an enjoyable film, that does not suddenly mean that all 2000 films are enjoyable. I get it. But you must understand – my level of enjoyment for this film blew my mind. It’s like an evangelical nut publicly raging against homosexuality for a decade and suddenly finding himself turned on by his beefcake neighbor – the implications are jarring. It made me realize how many other films I have casually dismissed without a second glance.

Is my shift in perception for 2000s films just part of a natural cycle? I can watch any ’80s and early ’90s film, low-rated or panned, and find something enjoyable about it. The nostalgia factor weighs heavily here – the synth pop, the big bangs, the neon colors, the make-up and special fx, the yearning of a simpler time. If the film is rated low, there is a good chance that the film is dripping with camp and kitsch. As an avid VHS collector, I can watch and re-watch a grainy copy of Nightmare Weekend (1986 – the best year of horror) with fervent vigor. I also dismiss an IMDb rating of 2 for that film because most people just don’t get it.

However, with films from the early 2000s, if I saw a film rated low, I would mentally shelve it into the typical twenty-oughts trash category. For the longest time, I’ve trusted the ratings, I’ve trusted the first lines of critic’s reviews dumping on the films, and I’ve trusted my longstanding hatred of cheaply made moneygrabs and sequels and remakes and CGI. I came to rely on other people to tell me if it was worth my time. These people get it.

But… do they?

There are tons of people that discuss/swap/collect 80s horror films and call themselves horror aficionados because of this (myself included), but there isn’t really a support group for those people that are into ’00s films – that I know of – and so the only thing I can safely go by determining the popularity of these films is by their online ratings.

Dracula II popped up on my instant watch Netflix with a rating of a 1 star. I realize I may be assigning too much importance to Dracula II: Ascension if it’s making me re-define my horror snobbery as horror myopia, but the best horror movies are the ones that make you fall down on your ass and turn you back into a fan rather than a reviewer looking for abnegation. And Dracula II is just the figurehead of something I’m trying to work out myself: my growing affection for “terrible” ’00 films. Here are a few more examples: [all ratings from IMDb at the time of this writing]: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is rated a 4, American Psycho II: All American Girl is a 3.9, Feardotcom (which I actually LOVE) is a 3.3, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary 4.3, The Mangler Reborn 3.1, It Waits 3.7, Cemetery Gates 3.5, Mad Cowgirl 4.9, The Gravedancers 5.6, Sublime 5.3, Wind Chill 5.9, Storm Warning 5.9, Long Weekend (remake) 5.2, Hatchet 5.7, Dread 5.7. Mutants 5.6

I wonder if my watching these films is now tinged with a freshly brewed nostalgia that has been fermenting inside me without my even knowing it – that may even culminate in the next twenty years into a rabid love of the time period like that which I have for the ’80s-’95. By the year 2035, is it possible…. will all films from the early 2000s be considered cult classics? Will it foster coveted DVD swaps, midnight digital showings at the cool theater in town? Will old folks who were in their late teens/early twenties at the time make the ‘new generation’ jealous, regaling them with tales of how they saw Cherry Falls in the theater way back when? This dystopian epoch is surely on our doorstep.

An ’80s Horror Geek’s Quick Guide to Y2K film appreciation: Don’t put any weight into the critic’s reviews written at the time of release they should be seen as a curious snapshot of the millennial zeitgeist to hate everything. Also, don’t measure your enjoyment of ’00 films based on what you know and love about ’80s films. They are two different animals. Example: while 80s films are more care-free and filled with unsuspecting victims, ’00 films seem to be filled with anxious and cynical characters who are expecting the worst.

Now onto the review of the movie that can never measure up to the hype I’ve just created for it

Dracula II: Dracula Meets Science! a review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2015 by fawn krisenthia

dracula-2-ascension

A fresh burn vic is delivered in a body bag to a New Orleans morgue. Medical student Elizabeth Blaine (Diane Neal of Law & Order SVU) and her assistant Luke (Jason London) conduct the autopsy, noting that the organs are absent of blood. Luke recalls that the body was burned hanging from a cross at dawn in front of a church, and with an inspection of the decedent’s teeth which springs a fang and knicks Elizabeth’s finger, they both ascertain that the body is that of a vampire. Immediately, Luke receives a call from a mysterious Brit offering $30 million dollars for the cadaver. This bolsters the idea that they have a gold mine in their hands. Imagine harnessing the secret for eternal life, “immortality for sale at a morgue near you!” They call medical ethics professor Lowell (Craig Sheffer – who I honestly thought was David Boreanaz throughout the whole film) for guidance – an ethics professor who, curiously, is sleeping with his student Elizabeth– and he orders them to take the body to his parent’s… castle… for experimentation. As they are leaving the morgue, a very daunting vampire-killer priest (Jason Scott Lee) demands to give last rites to the corpse. They temporarily throw him off track by replacing the toasted vampire with another burn victim, and make their way to the castle where Elizabeth meets up with two fellow medical students Kenny and Tanya. They begin their scientific experiments on Dracula meatloaf, as a priest with a vendetta closes in on them.

davidboreanazcraigsheffer

Dracula 2: Ascension is the second movie in a trilogy directed by Patrick Lussier, and written by Patrick Lussier and Joel Soisson. This straight-to-DVD film with a $3.2 million dollar budget came on the heels of the lukewarm success of his theatrically released Dracula 2000, where the vamp trope of a sexy male actor donning fangs and stalking a pretty lady continues. [Spoilers ahead]

Within the first five minutes of the film, another modern vamp trope emerges when we are introduced to a sickle sword-wielding, trenchcoat-wearing priest that beheads identical twin vampire babes. Five years prior, viewers were introduced to Blade and the character of a bad-ass vampire slayer who also happens to be a vampire. Father Ufizi is just a rehash of Blade, but that doesn’t make him look any less cool.

double decap latte

double decap latte

However, the aspect of scientific experimentation on Dracula completely elevates it with its refreshing, nerdy take. From Dracula’s autopsy, the Dracula Meets Science theme continues when medical students fill a bathtub with 350 pints of stolen blood from a medical facility. The wonderful part of this scene is the fact that none of the participants ask questions, they just willingly go along with the idea that yes!, we have the body of a vampire and of course!, attaching electrodes to his charred body and immersing him in a bathtub full of blood will reanimate him. Which of course, it does. Dracula is also videotaped but unfortunately the image recorded is just an outline of morphy blood droplets because “the electronics don’t record him at all!” We also get to see vampire blood cells replicating under a microscope.

nice, but not quite as epic as the microscope scene in Horror Express (1972)

nice, but not quite as epic as the microscope scene in Horror Express (1972)

The film enters another stratosphere altogether when the sexy, brooding Dracula played by Stephen Billington comes on screen. At first, he is shown as weak and pale, chained and kept in a corner after attacking and defenestrating Tanya. It’s an odd cinematic treatment of Dracula. The title character is the subject of much ethical debate among the characters of the film, but for the majority of the film he is a secondary character tied up in a laboratory, cycling back and forth between being catatonic and pissed. But every shot of him in the laboratory is fantastically lit and even a little creepy. As the movie progresses, Dracula is given more blood to fuel his regeneration, and by the fifty minute mark he transforms into a delicious sex beast, and you suddenly realize, Stephen Billington looks like the crème of a goddamned tasty Dolph Lundgren and Rutger Hauer soup.

that swag tho

that swag tho

that swag tho

Science mixes with vampire lore in the way in which Dracula is kept confined in the laboratory. He is propped up by a dolly in the middle of a makeshift laboratory/bottom of an empty pool, surrounded with mustard seeds, draped with a knotted net, and bathed in ultraviolet waves from industrial lights. Props to Patrick Lussier for including obscure vampire lore; with the saturation of vampire movies, it is always refreshing to learn something new about vampires. Like a leprechaun’s weakness for shining any shoe he comes across, vampires apparently can’t move past piles of mustard seeds without counting every single speck, or move past a knotted rope without wanting to untie it.

The action really begins when Dracula telepathically pushes Professor Lowell down the pool stairs, critically wounding him. Elizabeth and Luke desperately look for the remaining vial of Dracula’s sample in order to inject him and save his life. The sample is gone. Kenny has already injected it and stalked off to do vampy things in the streets of New Orleans – oddly deserted streets I might add, even though this is apparently during Mardi Gras according to the hanging signs and float-gets strewn about the tables. Kenny is hunted and decapitated by Father Ufizi, but not before biting a woman in her apartment, who later eats her own cat.

:(

😦

With the sample gone and Dracula drier than an Arkansas county, Elizabeth and Luke must find a way to boost production of his magical juice and save Lowell. Elizabeth has already been infected by Dracula during his autopsy but has not yet turned, so she volunteers to do a blood transfusion. What ensues is the second best part of the film in what can only be described as HEMO-eroticism. As they exchange blood, Dracula mindfucks Elizabeth all the way to Transylvania. After some heavy necking, Elizabeth asks who he is, to which he claims to have been Gilles de Rais, Vlad Tepes, El Hazarid, Dagobert, Proximus, Uther, Caligula and Judas Iscariot. Later in the film as Elizabeth injects Lowell with Drac’s blood, she coyly asks “what’s it like?” …as if she doesn’t know already. He answers “It’s like… sex.” Of course, just having seen Elizabeth have mind-sex with the vampire that infected her, I am wondering if Lowell was in that moment having mind-sex with Dracula? These are important questions. Another important question is from where, exactly, is Lowell’s accent supposed to originate? It’s almost terrible enough to be distracting. David Boreanaz would have known better.

Lowell is immediately cured of his degenerative condition and reveals that he and Eric are actually partners. He was just using Elizabeth. Eric then rubs salt in the wound by a most intense flipping of the bird I’ve seen since Poltergeist. Incorrectly, though, as Eric is a Brit – but I suppose it would have been a lot weirder if he slowly did a ‘V’ sign.

The climax of the film came when Dracula finally has enough strength to leave his shackles and fights Eric. Eric at first tries to escape Dracula’s fangs but then implores him to “go ahead. I’ll still live forever” to which Dracula replies “Ahh, but WILL YOU WANT TO?” and immediately bites off his face. Eric the facebite vamp appears again minutes later, but is quickly shut down with a bottle filled of holy water. The special effects her are so seamless that I have trouble discerning whether it’s makeup or CGI. That’s a great thing.

headbitewithwater

Dracula then starts to move toward Luke and Elizabeth. Luke then yells about the knotted net, surely that will keep Dracula at bay! Dracula looks down at it, and with a simple twist and flick of his finger, and voila! the net comes undone and all the knots disappear. Suddenly all those previous shots of Dracula looking forlornly down and pawing at the knotted net make sense. He was just figuring out the math of it, like a puzzle. It’s deliciously ridiculous.

In my favorite scene, Luke yells to Elizabeth “but he can’t move on without counting the seeds!” and Dracula casually looks around at the ground, then tells him exactly how many are present. Thinking on his feet, Luke starts throwing more seeds at him, but before they hit the ground Dracula has already counted them – like the prodigy Little Man Tate looking up at the trees and counting the spaces between the leaves. Okay, that was a random reference but it’s seriously what I thought of when I saw this scene.

putting the 'count' in Count Dracula

putting the ‘count’ in Count Dracula

Some housekeeping items: Roy Schneider makes a cameo, Ufizi quickly dispatches Lowell, and Father Ufizi and Dracula finally battle it out… for about one minute. There is a nice flashback to when Dracula was Judas Iscariot. The final twist comes when Elizabeth, who is now full bore vampiress, defeats Ufizi with a harpoon gun, but not before Dracula demonstrates the most badass putting on of a duster, ever. Dracula and Elizabeth run off into the sunset, a love story to be continued in the third installment of the Dracula series, Dracula III: Legacy (2005).

Bonus: as the credits roll, your ears are filled with the delightful song called “Do You Know My Name” which is one of the best Marilyn Manson impersonations I’ve heard since Marilyn Manson’s last album.

Another bonus:  Count Dracula and Elizabeth Blaine’s love story fan vid set to Beyonce’s Sweet Dream

October Horror Movie Challenge 2013 – week four, part two

Posted in Fun Stuff, Reviews on November 5, 2013 by annamae3

OctoberChallenge2013-DraculaLong
THIS IS IT. The last post of the October Challenge for another year. With a tally that’s close to twice the minimum requirement, it’s time to close the books on another Challenge well spent. There were few films that I didn’t care for, but a lot of first time views that were simply outstanding. I also spent a lot of time revisiting favorites that I haven’t seen in a long time. All in all, it was a lovely Challenge. Here below are the final views for the month. Continue reading

October Horror Movie Challenge 2013 – week four, part one

Posted in Fun Stuff, Reviews on November 4, 2013 by annamae3

OctoberChallenge2013-ThingLong
[part one of a two-part post]

It’s over! The October Horror Movie Challenge has ended. While I’m sad that the month-long horror marathon is over, I’m happy to move along to calmer waters for a little while.  I love a good scare, but I like changing paces, too. So here are the last several films I watched in October… Continue reading

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