This week the Screen Junkies team returned from a month of crisis following sexual harassment allegations against Andy Signore, and they released a parody trailer for Stranger Things. In the trailer, the overriding argument is that the show is basically nostalgia porn, a program hand-crafted for 40-somethings to relive their childhood. It’s funny, as they say, because it’s true.
It’s funny to think that it’s been a full decade since I published my book Knowing Fear, my study of the development of the horror genre. (The book was released a few months ahead of its official 2008 publication date.) Time goes by fast, but it’s more amazing to think that I used to be so deeply enmeshed in the horror genre that I once wrote a whole book about it. Maybe it was the weight of the explosion of media over the past decade, or my waning enthusiasm about devoting my decreasing free time to intentionally seeking out horror, but I’ve found it harder and harder to keep up, or to care.
Since the birth of my son, I’ve been a bit hard-pressed to make time for reading, and it is with regret that it took me several weeks longer than expected to finish Edgar Cantero’s new novel Meddling Kids, a mashup of Scooby-Doo and H. P. Lovecraft that earned rave reviews from critics earlier this summer. I found the book to be enjoyable, but a little less impressive than the critics made it out to be. Meddling Kids is a book I wanted to love, but it was one I liked instead. And to be frank, I think TV is ruining novels for me. It’s hard to pretend that 300 pages of a one-off novel can rival the hundreds of hours I spend with characters on TV series over the years of their runs. It takes, what, 20 hours to read this book, while, for example, a throwaway TV show on a similar theme like Teen Wolf has 100 hours of content spread over six calendar years. Perhaps that’s why I just don’t feel the same connection when I read reviews about how realistic and detailed the book’s characters are. I barely got to know them before they were gone. Each had, I believe, one personality trait. It seems like the CW’s Riverdale was more of a fresh and darker take on Archie than Meddling Kids is for Scooby-Doo
Why the Icelandic "Dracula" Adaptation Is Probably Not Evidence for a Lost Original Version of Bram Stoker's Classic Vampire Novel
Yesterday I discussed the “lost” Icelandic version of Dracula that was recently translated into English by Hans de Roos and published as Powers of Darkness. I was curious enough about the claims made by de Roos in his lionization of the 1900/1901 Icelandic adaptation of Dracula--that the book was based on early drafts of the novel and contained Stoker’s abandoned first ideas—that I ended up going to check out Bram Stoker’s notes (in facsimile) in order to evaluate whether de Roos is right that Stoker’s notes must be the source of some key details in the Icelandic adaptation called Makt Myrkranna produced by Valdimar Ásmundsson. When I first read de Roos’s claims, I wanted to believe them, and as you can tell from my blog post yesterday, I was more or less happy to go along with de Roos because the subject was so interesting and, with decades of Dracula scholarship under his belt, de Roos seemed like a credible scholar. But like the art historians who sensed the Getty Kouros was fake before they knew exactly why, my unconscious mind kept telling me something was wrong even before I knew what. The particular claim that caught my eye was the allegation that the mute housekeeper in the Icelandic version of Dracula must have come from Stoker’s abandoned notes for the novel. Once I started digging, everything fell apart.
"Dracula" Scholar Publishes Translation of "Lost" Version, Investigates the Mystery of "Dracula" in Iceland
Last night Rick and Marty Lagina appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to discuss The Curse of Oak Island. It was … I almost said interesting, but it wasn’t. After 52 years (!) of interest in Oak Island, neither Lagina was able to articulate the Oak Island story in anything resembling a concise or even interesting way. At one point Colbert needed to remind the brothers that while he knows the story of Oak Island, his audience contains many people who do not, so they need to actually explain why anyone should care about its supposed buried treasure. The closest they came to providing a reason was when Rick said he got interested in the idea in 1965 when he read about it in Reader’s Digest, with a close second coming when the brothers explained that there were lots of logs and rocks and stuff underground. Sadly, that was just about a perfect summation of The Curse of Oak Island.
History Channel Thinks Moe Howard Might Be Hitler; Plus: Micah Hanks's Confusing Views on Speculative Fiction
So, all season long the History Channel’s Hunting Hitler is investigating this photograph of “Hitler” to “prove” that the Führer was alive in the 1960s. According to clips shown in the season premier, they found extensive similarities! Sadly, this is all wrong. As a correspondent pointed out to me after the photo made a return appearance this week, in fact, it is a picture of Three Stooges member Moe Howard, taken in the 1970s, part of a series of snapshots taken apparently on the same day in front of the same car. There’s a degree of humor in this since Howard parodied Hitler in You Nazty Spy (1940).
Critics are really excited about the new season of Black Mirror, a show whose first two seasons I only occasionally sampled. But on the strength of the reviews I watched one of the new episodes yesterday, which TV Insider critic Matt Roush identified as the best of six-episode anthology: “Playtest.” It was, critics said, the closest that the series comes to pure and traditional horror, which happens to be one of my fields of expertise. I wrote the book on it, after all. The episode tells the story of an American tourist named Cooper (Wyatt Russell) who takes part in a video game company’s beta test of a neural implant that creates an augmented reality horror video game experience. If you haven’t seen the episode, you should probably stop reading because to criticize it is to give away part of the “twist” at the end.
PZ Myers is (humorously) “blaming” me for introducing him via Twitter this past week to the angry pseudohistory of the white supremacists who believe that a lost white race of Solutreans were destroyed by Native Americans in a “white genocide” in North America at the end of the last Ice Age. It doesn’t get much more disgusting than that, but I’ve learned that there is always a claim that is worse.
Today I have two topics to discuss: John Podesta’s Nibiru email and Syfy’s new horror series Channel Zero.
Yesterday I discussed the connection between Nephilim theories and the Trump campaign, so today, in the interest of balance, I’d like to share one of the further revelations from the Wikileaks publication of Clinton advisor John Podesta’s emails, which U.S. officials concluded had been hacked on orders from the Russian government. Fringe websites have gone into a tizzy after discovering that one of the emails Podesta received discussed Zecharia Sitchin, Nibiru, and ancient astronauts. This was not, however, an email sent by high ranking U.S. officials but instead was an email from a member of the public sent to several different officials, no different than the tens of thousands of crank letters that fill government archives.
Yesterday I read a very interesting but flawed argument in Slate magazine about the origin of haunted houses. Timed to the upcoming Halloween festivities, the article is an excerpt from the new book Ghostland by Colin Dickey, and I disagree with his evaluation of where haunted houses come from, pretty much wholesale. And as somebody who literally wrote the book on the horror genre, I have more than a little experience with the sources from which Dickey draws his argument.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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