I remember being very young and finding something interesting about monsters. I grew up with my mother reading me scary stories of faeries tricking humans, stealing babies and wives turning into seals. Beautiful faeries making men and women fall in love with them, only to consume them and leave them in agony. Desire and pleasure lead them to their death.
In more modern Christian literatures, I found vampires to be a weird way to talk about sexuality and the lengths we go to talk about women’s sexual desires. The only way we can do that is through monsters. Have you seen Christopher Lee as Dracula?
It’s obvious what’s going on in that bedroom. Or we can look at witches and talk about how society sees powerful women and marginalized folks as dangerous.
That’s why I love fantastic tales. There’s always something laying underneath the cape.
I love how monsters and magical creatures can actually mean something to us.
But most of my true enjoyment during Halloween is in film. I love being able to sit down with the lights off, hang out with a friend, and gorge ourselves on popcorn, candy, and horror. Also maybe people get really drunk. People is me.
These are my horrific favs.
Hammer’s Dracula films are just classic horror crap that I love. They are very nostalgic for me. It’s victorian and full of greens, reds, and velvet. The men are very worried about their women being into the sex. And yet the women are like…..oh no, not the sex! (definitely the sex). It’s great. I root for the villains every time.
I can’t talk about horror without talking about Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. It’s a master class on how to adapt horror into a tv show. It’s horror for people who don’t generally think of horror as brilliant. And also for those of us that do. It’s a maze both in the actual way the house messes with your mind but also in how the time skips front different moments in the Crains memories of Hill House. You question what is real and what is a memory. No one in this story is completely bad or good, a hero or a villain. I had nightmares the first time I watched it. I don’t ever get nightmares but this one scared me.
Theo is my favorite. I would die a thousand deaths for her.
The Craft is the whole reason I fell in love with witches (other than my dear heart Hermione Granger).
My favorite thing about it is that it’s a revenge story. It’s about girls ability to have power in a world where they’re afforded none. The film doesn’t fit the storyline of girls using power to do good. It throws out that idea that girls need to rise about hetero-patriarchy. Instead, it shows nuance. It’s also one of the very earliest horror films I can remember where a black girl is actually part of the main cast and is allowed to be as powerful as the white girls in the story.
Beetlejuice is the weirdest and most ’80s film I’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely black comedy, purely because it makes death into something oddly hilarious. Also….the aesthetic of Beetlejuice and the Deetz’s house is so much fun.
Stranger Things uses monsters to talk about fascism. So that’s neat and definitely gets a big thumbs up from me.
Kwaidan is a beautiful Japanese film from 1964. It’s full of several fantastic tales but my favorite is the woman of the snow. It’s super creepy and all I’m going to say is: supernatural ladies suck all the blood out of men. Just watch it. I don’t want to say anything else.
Feminist witches, kids fighting monsters (*cough* fascism), Theodora Crain being a boss bitch and beautiful snow ladies turn into men’s worst nightmare.
Enjoy your monsters.
Trigger Warnings The Horror of Dracula: blood and death. The haunting of hill house: suicide, death. The Craft: abuse, death, bullying, misogyny, racism. Beetlejuice: death and blood. Stranger Things S1: death, blood, abuse. Kwaidan: blood, death, suicide (but not in woman of the snow).