Modern Day Horror An Impossibility?

I watched The Woman in Black for the second time last night and came under the impression that every horror movie ever made should take place in the 1800s, perhaps the early 1900s. Once the characters get technology, all the mystery is gone.

So you think there might be a poltergeist in your house? Don’t worry. There’s an app for that. The wonderful new spectral locator app on your IPhone will indicate whether or not paranormal activity is going on within your home. When you find out a ghost is haunting your attic, sell your house and move away!

How lame would that be, though, if through some technology we could trace ghosts, kill vampires, and reverse every killer zombie plague? Thanks a lot, Richard Matheson!

Would  The Ring not lose a lot of its scare value if someone received a tweet, “U will die in 7 days #Evilcurse.” Then, Samara comes climbing through your IPad as you’re trying to watch 30 Rock on Hulu.

My point is, with as many technological advances as we have today, the things that once were scary have been demystified. We’re no

longer superstitious of demons possessing people with epileptic seizures. Not every crow means death. But back in better, less complicated times, true horror existed in uncertainty. These days, we are too certain that we know everything. Not that we can ever truly know anything.

Think of Plato’s wall, and what doubt it casts on the shadow of reality being truly reality, a real world and not one of shadows. Maybe this idea itself, the sheer notion that perhaps we paragons of technology don’t know EVERYTHING, perhaps that is today’s new horror. No more ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. Only uncertainty. Only a true ignorance where once we presumed was vast, concrete knowledge. Every day, we learn that things we absolutely knew without a doubt were never in fact true.

Is this merely more reason to lament the days when we were certain about our own uncertainty, not so mixed up about it?

What we need is more ghosts and haunted houses. Call me cliche, but I love those stories. In fact, check out this Litreactor article on Haunted Houses.

What are your thoughts? What’s the last good horror movie you’ve seen/horror book you’ve read set in modern day? Or do you prefer to kick it old school?


Literary Wars: Fang Face Off

Anne Rice, the queen of literary vamps, recently dissed the Twilight series, saying she’s sorry that teens must be submitted to such drivel.

Sounds like a vamp showdown is about to begin. Because I’ve read both series, I think it’s fair enough for me to judge between them. Let us compare their lead vampires: Edward Cullen and Lestat de Lioncourt.

Edward Cullen, the sparkly pretty boy vampire, lives in Forks, Washington with his dainty, annoying wife Bella. Because he’s a wimpmonster, he prescribes to a “veggie-vampire” diet, which means he doesn’t eat people. Just animals. While PETA might not see the difference, Cullen feels he is a great moral example. This vampire and his vampire (the Cullen Clan) are the creation of Stephanie Meyers, now an international celebrity.

Before the Cullens came Lestat and Louie, vampires from Anne Rice’s the Vampire Chronicles, most famous Interview with the Vampire. Lestat is an immoral megalomaniac who not only has killed humans with abandon but has also drank the blood of the vampire queen and once even switched bodies with a human so he could have normal sex again.

This is from the vamp who claimed, “I’m a ruthless dude.”

Even as a mortal, he killed an entire pack of wolves and survived. Only to be killed later by a vampire. Darn it! Lestat, surely, is the star of Anne Rice’s literary endeavors.

Both vampires are extremely popular, but who is better? Let’s get down to it.

1.) Bad Ass-ery

Edward Cullen cares abotu humans and sparkles in the sun. He plays baseball.

Lestat eats people’s hearts out. While other vampires of his universe fry, he just gets a slight tan in the sun. He even did the nasty with the original vampire, the Vampire Queen Akasha.

Winner: Lestat

2.) Romance

While Lestat is a nostalgic romance, nothing says “I love you” like creeping on a 17-year-old girl while she sleeps. Willing to kill himself for very cague moral reason, Cullen wins this one out. I mean, Twilight IS a love story, after all.

Lestat, however, has entertained many lovers, including the queen of the vampires. He does not, however, become easily attached.

Winner: Cullen

3.) Movie adaptations

Twilight grossed a whole lot of money, with Robert Pattinson portraying Edward. Although I personally prefer the film version of Interview with a Vampire (starring Brad Pitt as Louie and Tom Cruise as Lestat), the Twilight franchise wins simply because the world disagrees with me. Money speaks, so yes, maybe I’m mistaken.

Winner: Cullen

4.) Personality

Edward is a brooding, abstinent guy of a 117.

Lestat is a lover of life, who people refer to as “The Brat Prince.” Seriously? Lestat wins.

Winner: Lestat

5.) Origin Stories

Lestat dies because a mysterious and rebellious vampire named Mangus kidnaps him so he can continue his legacy. Before that, he became famous and feared for killing off an entire pack of wolves to save his village from their terror. After befriending a musician, he moves to London to become an actor. Soon after, he’s turned into a vampire, but that only helps his performance abilities.

Edward Cullen is turned after succumbing like a wimp to the Spanish influenza.

Winner: Lestat

6.) Who would win in a fight?

Edward Cullen has pretty great strength and can even stop a van with his fist that’s going maybe 20 mph. He can also crush marbles, apparently.

Lestat… would walk all over this guy. Not only can he also read minds, but he has consumed the strength of the Vampire Queen. Meaning he’s immortal. Really immortal, as in drive a stake through him, cut off his head… he’s coming back.

Honestly the Cullen boys doesn’t stand a chance. Even Claudia ( the baby vampire played by the young Kirstin Dunst in Interview) could beat him in a fight.

Winner: Lestat

So, is really the better vampire? Does Anne Rice really have room to speak?


True Blood: Season 4 in Review

True Blood is one of those dirty secret shows– a secret pleasure that can be indulged in on your computer, so that your parents don’t realize your actually watching a show with… well, sex. Or even worse, vampires.

If you have not watched the finale or any of episode of Season 4, don’t read this. If you have, please share your thoughts below.

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The finale was disappointing, honestly. It may have been okay as a regular episode, but does not stand up to the insane mind-bending finales of seasons past.

When Marnie entered Lafayette’s body, I could have seen a lot of worse stuff going down. The wrap-up? Gran and Antonia team up kick Marnie’s… I mean, teach Marnie that once you’re dead, you should move on to Heaven or “the great unknown” rather than dwell on earth like a sulky little child. Although Marnie began to irritate me, Fiona Shaw did an awesome job as unhinged witch. For that matter, so did Nelsan Ellis. I mean, that guy has talent! He was THREE different characters in one season.

Although I really really hated the fairies, I’m confused about why we haven’t revisited them. It just seems so lost, beyond that single hook-up with Andy that that one fairy had. It just seems like Alan Ball realized that he may have introduced fairies too soon, so he’s hiding them under his skirt until later. For the same reason, the creepy, incestuous were-panther clan did not make a return. When someone came a’knockin’ on Jason’s door after Jessica Riding Hood left, I thought for sure Crystal was coming to drag him back to her love shack. NOPE! It was only the kindly reverend, only now with fangs.

Although I really don’t like Sookie and if she died, I’d still watch the show, I HAVE to talk about her. So, she did show some strength throughout this season and growth in her character. By rejecting both Bill and Eric, she finally made a sensible decision and really showed resolve. As in, she did less crying for help and did some more shooting Debbie Pelt in the face. Sure, it’s a gratuitous death, but no one really liked her anyhow. Speaking of deaths… Alan Ball must have realized he was running too many story lines.

I got bored of Tara after Eggs died, so I don’t even mind that she got her head blown off. I’m surprised, in fact, she hasn’t already died. Despite her being annoying, though, I wish Ball had done MORE with her. At the beginning of this season, she was a butt-kicking kick boxer, and by the end– right back to boring, helpless Tara.

Jesus died. Which is too bad, because I really liked that Lafayette had someone. And also, his brujo powers, though freaky, could be a little cool. I suspect Lafayette has inherited said powers, which will become important next season. No one can seem to just be in a happy relationship. Apparently, not even Terry or Arlene, because Rene came back in ghost form to warn Arlene about Terry’s past. Could he be referring to that Marine guy who just suddenly showed up in the finale? Yes, of course he’s talking about that guy. Also, why would Arlene listen to her serial killer ex?

Tommy is dead too, another character who showed absolutely no growth. I liked him at first, but then, like the others, he became boring. He never really changed, rather just finding new ways to mess with Sam. I am digging that Sam is happy (which naturally can’t last) and that he and Alcide have become bros.

Speaking of Alcide, he finally did the smart thing by trying to get with Sookie, and then Sookie did the selfish thing and said… Hm… no. At the end of the episode, he found a whole in a concrete car lot with severed chains nearby. Hm… Is Russel Edgington returning? If so, yipee! Seriously, that guy was awesome. He’s a gentleman AND ripped some dude’s spine out on live television. He certainly makes the show more exciting.

Eric and Bill are bros too now I guess. And they worked together to kill off Nan who actually wanted to help them fight the authority. Not smart, because she could have helped. Whoever “the authority” is, they sound pretty powerful. I guess if they need someone with a bloodlust for the “authority,” they could appeal to Edgington. They’re likely on pretty good terms after Eric silvered him and trapped him beneath a ton of concrete.

So, the big problem was that… the fourth season did not compare to season 3. It was good at moments, but otherwise, it fell flat. It did not meet expectations. Of course, it’s True Blood, so I’ll come crawling back next season for a fresh serving of gore, sex, and confusing story lines. If I were in charge of season 5, I would do the following:

1.) Hoyt and Jason battle-royale for Jessica’s love. TO THE DEATH!

2.) Pam leaves Eric for good, because Eric is annoying.

3.) Eric returns to his devious ways and tries to hook up with girls other than Sookie.

4.) Lafayette becomes a super witch and basically just chills with his ghost boyfriend.

5.) Russel Edgington kills Sookie, Bill, and maybe Holly too. That way, all the annoying characters will be gone.

6.) Jessica (Deborah Ann Wohl) will appear in more nude scenes. (Just a personal wish.)

7.) Alan Ball conveniently forgets that Charlaine Harris added the fairy element to his books. Scratch those were-panthers too. Get it? SCRATCH them? Because… they have sharp claws and will eat your face.

8.) More gore and violence (let’s be honest about why I like this show.)

Book Snobs Are Snobby

Sometimes, just because you have a degree in English doesn’t give you the right to be persnickety. (If you were not such an inarticulate plebeian, you’d know what that means.)

“Oh, what books do I like to read? Well, I’m glad you asked, but probably have not HEARD about any of them. I have very obscure literary tastes:  no Pulitzer prize winners or Short-listeners for the PEN/Faulkner awards. CERTAINLY nothing on a bestseller lists, because those books have such drab plots.

Actually, I only read books that haven’t been published yet. No, it’s fine that you want to read “normal” books along with the rest of the plebians.

Oh, The New Yorker gave it a good review? Well, if you want to conform to what the NEW YORKER thinks, fine go ahead, read to your heart’s content. I’ll just try to find authors you’ve never heard of and then laugh at the absurdity of your reading choices.”

Just to be clear, I hate these people. There’s a reason certain books are read widely or win awards. Just because you dislike a book doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold merit. In fact, any book that can make you feel something- that’s good literature. Even books that merely piss you off.

I feel the same way about music. I just don’t listen to bands if in order to buy their new albums I need to know some secret password which I can only find scrawled on the door of an Ohio truck stop bathroom. But I think music and books are good as long as they make you feel something. That even means Ke$ha who only inspires me to dance and party; note, though, that she does inspire me to do SOMETHING.

A story that inspires nothing, not even frustration… that’s quite a bland story.

The truth is, reading has been an elitist activity, done only by intellectuals. I’m not impressed that you like to read War and Peace over the summer instead of some fun book. Because guess what? I spent the summer reading Nick Hornsby and The Hunger Games triology. I know, as a writer I’m supposed to be a literary snob. I am supposed to like highbrow fiction only, constantly study the syntax of MASTERS.

But you write a book that people will enjoy, and just because scholars say that a book is classic, I shan’t read it unless it excites me. Unless I like the story and relate to the characters. Now, some classics are certainly classics for a reason, but understand, other classics are classics because they’re intensely difficult to understand. Scholars and English majors love authors that only they can relate to, because it gives them a sense of superiority.

I’m looking at YOU James Joyce.

Some books, I know, are even referred to as “guilty pleasures” or as “trashy.” But anything you enjoy has some merit, doesn’t it? I openly admit that I obsessively watch shows like Misfits, Skins, Glee, and True Blood. I even watching THE GLEE PROJECT! While I have been told these are “trashy” shows, they allow me to indulge in something separate from my life. And that… seems to matter.

What I’m saying is, I will not criticize what you read, because all writers are not snobs. Read whatever you’d like. And if anyone casts a downward glance at your

How To Pick Up Women (According to Edward Cullen)

Last year, when Harry Potter ended for good, I cried. I wanted to throw a party to say good bye.

This year, I’d also like to throw a goodbye book series party for a different reason. Soon ends the reign of Twilight! It signifies a very

Oh, that "stalker face" just SCREAMS sexy.

dark time in our literary history. But I admit, I read the series. I mean, the entire series. When people ask why, I tell them it’s unfair to judge something unless you actually read it. That, however, was only half the story. Here is the real reason that literary snob Derek Berry read the Twilight series over the course of one week during the summer…

It was the summer before high school, and my short-term girlfriend had just broken up with me. In true middle-grade fashion, I was crushed and cruxed. The reason she cited was that I “was nothing like Edward Cullen” and she “wanted a boy more like Edward Cullen.” So, I sat thinking, who the hell is this Edward Cullen guy? And what does he have that I don’t.

A quick Google search later… This joker had an entire fan base who worshiped him. At this time, if you asked any 13 year old girl who they wanted to marry, it was Edward Cullen. Mind you, this was before girls became obsessed with Jacob Black. Girls wanted a vampire boyfriend:  pale hairy guys were in vogue. Maybe, I figured, I stood a chance.

So I began researching this sketchy Cullen character starting with the books. Eventually, I could not read anymore, so I just rented the audio books from the library. Stilted prose and awkward syntax put me to sleep every night for a week. I swear, it works.

Now, if I had known that this ex merely meant that she “wanted a guy with abs,” I would not have bothered to continue to read the sequel. But I had to. Because the Cullen kid in the first book was too creepy for any guy to like. “Really?” I asked myself. Girls want THAT?

I finished reading the series, even the last book where there’s something about a monster baby and then the worst anti-climax ever. Seriously, I had read all of these horrible books and then they were going to have this awesome vampire fight. Awesome, right? No, it actually didn’t even happen. They “talked it over” instead. Yeah, I know I should have expected lameness, but Meyers shot herself in the foot with THAT series finale. Honestly, it was worse even than the series finale of LOST.

So, I read every one of these horrid novels and then thought, “Okay, this is simple. This is how I get girls.”

Getting girls is easy, I discovered.

Simply sneak into their house to watch them while they sleep.

Constantly put the girl in danger so you can save her.

Run ice all over your skin; girls are turned on by cold-to-the-touch skin.

Creepily stare at your crush: ALL. THE. TIME.

Tell her you try so hard not to kill her. Dude, girls eat this stuff UP.

If all else fails, turn her into a vampire. Just make sure your crush is super boring and needs to be constantly saved. Her favorite pastime should just be cooking or cleaning or reading, all those things women are supposed to do.

I want to make a larger point that confessing that I read the Twilight series. I mean, even small books that are honestly… well, not good- they can have a huge impact on your life. I didn’t have a date for months as a consequence to this botched reading experience.

Every story makes a difference.