Category Archives: Uncategorized

Horror Films A to Z ~ The Field Guide to Evil

The Field Guide to Evil

Year: 2018
Runtime: 1h 57m
Directors: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes
Writers: Robert Bolesto, Elif Domanic, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes, Silvia Wolkan
Stars: Marlene Hauser, Luzia Oppermann, Karin Pauer

A feature-length anthology film. They are known as myths, lore, and folktales. Created to give logic to mankind’s darkest fears, these stories laid the foundation for what we now know as the horror genre.

Initial: That is a really clumsily written summary… This seems ambitious, but I’m definitely up for more global horror. I wonder if they’ll do some kind of wrap-around.

Production Notes: Produced by Legion M, which is a “fan run” production company that often crowdsources funding for films. A Field Guide to Evil was green-lit after an equity crowdfunding campaign.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead) Yes, quite ambitious. No, no wrap-around narrative. Instead, the stories are only connected by the opening of a book and the flipping of its pages. Btw, the opening/ending titles are some of the best I’ve ever seen. The book is in the same style.

The stories are weighted toward Europe with stories from Austria, Poland, Greece, Germany, and Hungary. The other three stories were from the US, Turkey, and India. Most of the stories were light on dialog; I assume to appeal more broadly to the US audience which is unwilling to read too many subtitles. There was also often a dearth of narrative. Obviously, when you’re fitting eight stories into a two hour movie, some exposition gets dropped. Horror is a genre that can bear a lot of ambiguity and I only really wished for more story in one case: “A Nocturnal Breath” (dir. by Katrin Gebbe from Germany) felt like it could use the tiniest bit more explanation. (Though also, I wonder if my German grandmother had been familiar with this folklore and it was part of her hatred of rats and mice.)

Other notes:

“Haunted by Al Karisi, the Childbirth Djinn” (dir. by Can Evrenol, Turkey) was my second djinn in a week and both involved children and parenthood.

The first two segments “Haunted by Al Karisi” and “The Sinful Women of Höllfall” (dir. by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Austria) have only female casts.

The US segment “Beware the Melonheads” (dir. by Calvin Lee Reeder) included the only actor I recognized: Michael J. Anderson from Twin Peaks and Carnival. (Of course, I’m quite face blind, so, take that how you will…)

My favorite in terms of style was “Cobbler’s Lot” (dir. by Peter Strickland, Hungary). Like Errementari, it is very Grimm’s Tales. It was shot as a silent film with dialog placards. The cinematographer is Márk Györi and I might have to find some of his other movies.

{Book} Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick; or, the Whale

Moby-Dick; or, the Whale by Herman Melville

A sailor called Ishmael narrates the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, a white whale which on a previous voyage destroyed Ahab’s ship and severed his leg at the knee. (via Goodreads)

I’ve become one of those people.

I first read Moby-Dick in January of 2017. I knew I would read it again one day, but I didn’t expect it to be so relatively soon. I wasn’t immediately on-board (*cough*) when Brona announced a readalong. But the idea grew on me and I decided, why not?

And I’ve come to realize that Moby-Dick is going to be a book I reread often throughout the rest of my life.

Michael Chabon has a theory about fandom that I will clumsily paraphrase from Maps and Legends: fandom is created in the cracks of fiction. His example is Sherlock Holmes. Those Doyle stories have become an enduring institution, continually adapted and rebooted, because there are so many inconsistencies and alluded to stories within the cannon. Fans want to know, what they can’t know they’ll interpret and fill-in.

And I can see that in Moby-Dick. The people who read this weird novel over and over again (and I’m one of them) want to know more of what’s going on. We want to know more about the character’s intentions, but also Melville’s.

This time around, I really enjoyed some of my fellow reader’s thoughts as well has keeping a Twitter thread of things that stood out to me:

I also read Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick by George Cotkin.

Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick

Cotkin provides some interesting tangents, chapter for chapter. Sometimes these tangents were literary criticism, sometimes historical context, sometimes cultural context. Yes, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is covered. As well as the dubious Emoji Dick.

“What next?” Brona asks.

A book hangover! Actually, I attempted another book-at-sea, but it didn’t work out. Instead, I’m enthralled by the nonfiction book Bad Blood. But then, it’s sort of about an Ahab running a biomedical start-up. But I found my copy of Green Shadows, White Whale, Ray Bradbury’s story of writing the screenplay to John Huston’s Moby-Dick. I’ll reread it in a month or two, I think.

Green Shadows, White Whale

Deal Me In, Week 1 ~ “What Tune the Enchantress Plays”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“What Tune the Enchantress Plays” by Peter S. Beagle

Card picked: 5
Found in: Sleight of Hand, Tachyon Publications, 2011

Ah, there you are. I was beginning to wonder.

No, no. Come in, do—it’s your lair, after all. Tidy, too, for a demon. I’d do something about those bones, myself, and whatever that is, over in the corner, that smelly wet thing. But each to his taste, I say; you probably wouldn’t think too much of my notions of décor, either. God knows, my mother doesn’t.

The Story
In the introduction to this story Peter S. Beagle admits that it is the voice of a character that comes easiest to him. As you can see from the beginning few sentences above, this story has a great deal of voice.

Our speaker is Breya, an enchantress of some power. She is from Kalagria where many of the women are witches, sorcerers, or enchantresses. Never the men, though. The men of Kalagria are carriers of magic. Furthermore, if a majkes of Kalagria marries an outsider, their daughters will not have any knack with magic. So, the story that Breya tells this demon before she sings him into oblivion at moonset is an unfortunate one: Breya’s true love was an outsider.

I didn’t remember this story from the first time I read back in 2011-ish. A different author five years later might have used this set up to tell a tale of gender reversal or maybe at least gender role reversal, but that’s not quite Beagle. Lathro, Breya’s love, goes off to become the man he thinks he needs to be. Breya goes after him under the advisement of her mother, who is bent on making Breya into the woman she needs to be.

The Author
Peter S. Beagle is best known as the author of The Last Unicorn, but he has a fairly large body of work. “What Tune the Enchantress Plays” is set in the same magical world as his novel The Innkeeper’s Song.

Pick a Card, Any Card

Music plays a role in this story and many of Beagle’s works. Vivaldi Playing Cards evoke some of that beauty and grace.

Vivaldi Kickstarter
And at Kardify

Favorites of 2019

Top 3 Books

Poe: A Life Cut Short Spectacle of Illusion The Count of Monte Cristo

Two nonfiction and a classic that I never read until just this year…

Poe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd – I embarked on reading the complete works of Poe this year. I’m still working on it. But I also wanted a good agnostic biography—one that wasn’t too caught up in diagnosing or explaining Poe. Peter Ackroyd’s slim volume fit the bill! My Review

The Spectacle of Illusion by Matthew Tompkins – Quite easily the nicest looking book I’ve purchased in a long while. It’s a really accessible history of the scientific investigation of the paranormal, chock-full of photos and exhibits. My Review

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Robin Buss (Translator) – Of the four readalongs that Nick hosted, I only completed one of the books, but wow, it really did deliver. I read an unabridged edition and I’m glad I did. My Review

Top 3 Short Stories

“Sweet Dreams Are Made of You” by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor – I listened to this during the fall readathon. If you don’t like horror, maybe don’t read this story.

“The Reapers” by Batterman Lindsay – One of the best written stories of the Black Cat Project. I look forward to reading Annie Batterman Lindsay’s novel one of these days.

“There’s a Hole in the City” by Richard Bowes – I randomly picked this story to read while relaxing at the library. I was pleased to see that it’s online as well.

Top 3 Movies

(that I watched for the first time this year)

Knives Out (2019) – Rian Johnson is one of my favorite movie-makers. Plus, non-franchise!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – A lot of superhero movies haven’t been very fun lately. This film reminds me of the 2002 Spider-man. It’s joyous, visually exciting, and includes something that I really appreciate about comics: alternative characters and story lines.

Ocean’s Eight (2018) – It’s not as good at Ocean’s Eleven, but really, what is? But this cast! If I had to list my favorite actresses, I’d just link you to Ocean’s Eight‘s IMBD.

{Books} Two from True Crime

Alligator Candy Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession


Why Did I Choose These Books?
I chose both of these books due to my continuing investigation into true crime as a genre. Savage Appetites was recommended to be by multiple people because it is very much what I want to learn about: why do we “like” true crime. Alligator Candy was a book I chose through Goodreads’ “Readers Also Enjoyed.”

Alligator Candy: A Memoir by David Kushner

Every life has a defining moment, a single act that charts the course we take and determines who we become. For Kushner, it was Jon’s disappearance—a tragedy that shocked his family and the community at large. Decades later, now a grown man with kids of his own, Kushner found himself unsatisfied with his own memories and decided to revisit the episode a different way: through the eyes of a reporter. His investigation brought him back to the places and people he once knew and slowly made him realize just how much his past had affected his present. After sifting through hundreds of documents and reports, conducting dozens of interviews, and poring over numerous firsthand accounts, he has produced a powerful and inspiring story of loss, perseverance, and memory. Alligator Candy is searing and unforgettable. (via Goodreads)

What Did I Think?
When David Kushner was four years old, his older brother went missing and was later found dead. Obviously, being so young at the time, his memories surrounding the events are very hazy and muddled. For example, did his brother go off on his bike to the store just to get David some Snappy Gator candy? And that’s what really intrigued me about this particular story. Kushner grows up in the shadow of his brother, but gradually realizes how unreliable memory is. The memoir is about family and personal survival and how he came to find some truths about the event.

I listened to Alligator Candy as an audio book narrated by the actor Bronson Pinchot. As I keep saying about these true crime books, this was a hard “read.” Pinchot does a wonderful job reading it.

Original Publishing info: Simon & Schuster 2016
My Copy: Audio, hoopla Digital Library
Genre: memoir

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe

A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Defender, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession.

In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a frustrated heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own. (via Goodreads)

What Did I Think?
I hadn’t realized just how much the audience for true crime skewed toward female. I knew that it did, but when Rachel Monroe writes about the true crime convention that she attends, I didn’t expect that the vast majority of attendees would be women. Monroe writes about four case studies which illustrate what she finds to be archetypes of true crime fans: the detective, the defender, the victim, and the killer.

I’m not entirely sure I agree with Monroe’s theory that women especially are true crime fans because we slot into these types. It doesn’t quite feel right to me and, as Rennie from What’s Nonfiction, pointed out, it might be because these case studies are pretty  extreme. Monroe also floats the idea that because women taught at a young age to be wary and alert, true crime is sort of further training: maybe if we empathize alternately with the detectives, defenders, victims and killers, we can be better prepared for bad situations. Ironically, though true crime probably has never been more popular, violent crime rates are generally down.

My favorite of these four women profiled (which probably exposes my true crime archetype) was Francis Glessner Lee—the detective. Lee, an heiress, spent her later years creating miniature crime scenes to be used as a teaching tool. She also championed the cause of scientific investigation of crimes and is considered the mother of forensic science.

Original Publishing info: Scribner 2019
My Copy: Overdrive, Tempe Public Library

#DealMeIn2019, Week 1 ~ “Dark Corners”

“Dark Corners” by Michael Arruda

Card Picked: Q♠️
From: New Traditions in Terror, edited by Bill Purcell

About the Story

Ann, a lawyer, is on her way to meet with Thomas Sullivan, an old, rich, mysterious client who lives in a rundown apartment building. As Ann is climbing to the sixth floor (the elevator is out), she is attacked by a vampire hiding out in a dark corner of the stairway. The assault is then interrupted by an argument that spills out of the fifth floor on to the stairway. Eric has asked Vicki to marry him, but has also in some way sorely offended her. Vicki storms down the stairs, not noticing the vampire and his potential victim, and bereft Eric goes back into his apartment, intent on killing himself. His actions inadvertently rescue Ann…at least for a little while.

One portion of this story’s climax was fairly surprising; the other not-so-much. In all, though, this story wasn’t very good. It had a EC horror feel to it, but the writing was a little cliched and some of the situations were totally unbelievable. New Traditions in Terror was a self-published anthology and I’m hoping the quality of other stories is better than this one.

Wrapping Up #20BooksOfSummer

20 15 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

I started the “20” Book challenge with a list of 16 books and a goal of reading 15 between June 1st and September 3rd.* So… How did I do?

  1. The Doctor and the Kid by Mike Resnick – READ & Reviewed!
  2. Fall of Man in Wilmslow: A Novel of Alan Turing by David Lagercrantz – READ & Reviewed!
  3. The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton And Other Singular Tales from the Victorian Press by Jeremy Clay – READ & Reviewed!
  4. The Floating Light Bulb by John Gaspard (Eli Marks #5) – READ & Reviewed!
  5. World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters (The Last Policeman #3) – READ & Reviewed!
  6. Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal by Jack Kelly – READ & Reviewed!
  7. The Science of Illusions by Jacques Ninio – READ & Reviewed!
  8. Thieves, Rascals and Sore Losers: The Unsettling History of the Dirty Deals that Helped Settle Nebraska by Marilyn Coffey – READ & Reviewed!
  9. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne – READ & Reviewed!
  10. Lizzie: The Letters of Elizabeth Chester Fisk 1864-1893 by Rex C. Myers (Editor) – READ & Reviewed!
  11. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger – READ & Reviewed!
  12. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – READ!
  13. Memoirs and Confessions of a Stage Magician by Donald Brandon & Joyce Brandon – There is no reason I shouldn’t finish this by Friday. My review is scheduled for next week.

The rest of the list and other notes:

  • Lord of the Dead by Tom Holland – Didn’t get to this at all.
  • Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi – DNF
  • God’s War by Kameron Hurley – DNF
  • I also read four other book that weren’t on my list.

So, that’s like 17-ish books total for the summer! (Plus 40 short stories.)


The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3) The Floating Light Bulb (An Eli Marks Mystery Book 5)

* I’m posting this “wrap-up” a little early. Thanks to Cathy @ 746 Books, 20 Books of Summer has filled my least favorite season with great reading, but Sept 1st begins my *most* favorite season. There are several events I’m looking forward to diving into on the 1st.