On Friday night, Ancient Aliens asserted that due to a head wound suffered in the Civil War the journalist, critic, and author Ambrose Bierce (1842-c. 1913-1914) experienced psychic connections to “otherworldly beings” and used his fiction to promote a supernatural worldview devoted to exploring the reality of interdimensional travel. Worse, they also claimed that Bierce disappeared from Mexico due to his involvement with crystal skulls that allowed him to pass into another dimension. Such claims, if made while Bierce were still alive, would have been close to libelous for a man who was dead set against the supernatural and once tried to evangelize atheism among his coworkers. Worse, Ancient Aliens seems to have concocted the claims by recycling parts of an Indiana Jones movie.
As someone who produces a blog post every day, I can sympathize with the difficulty of finding new material to write about. But it seems that fringe science writer Nick Redfern’s writer’s block is getting the better of him. His recent articles at Mysterious Universe have become increasingly pointless exercises in rehashing and recycling. But yesterday’s article on horror movies and Bigfoot has to be one of Redfern’s most ridiculous pieces yet. And to top it off, it made me feel old not long before my upcoming birthday. The Descent (2005), a film about a group of young women attacked by humanoid creatures while spelunking, is now an old movie from another time? Where do the decades go?
I’m pleased to announce that my newest book, Foundations of Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts, and Other Alternative Pasts, an anthology of ancient texts used to support fringe history theories, has now been published! I did not know that the book was ready to be published, and I was surprised to discover that McFarland released the title yesterday, especially since the last corrections to the proofs were just finalized on Friday. I must confess that I am a bit disappointed to see that the price is set at $49.95 for a paperback or eBook, especially since the publisher had assured me that they had anticipated wider demand for this book. (Amazon is offering a $1.10 discount!) However, I hope you’ll find that the book is a useful research tool.
Merry Christmas, everyone! For hundreds of years it has been the tradition to tell ghost stories at Christmastime, a tradition exemplified in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and memorialized when Andy Williams sang in “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” that “There’ll be scary ghost stories / And tales of the glories / Of Christmases long, long ago.” In keeping with that tradition, I present three (very) short horror films from the vast library that is the internet for this year’s Christmas scare.
Since SPLICE, the effects studio working with Committee Films on America Unearthed, put out a press release yesterday acknowledging what I’ve known confidentially for months, I guess I’m free to tell you that H2 has hired Committee Films to produce a new documentary series on ancient mythology called Monsters, Myths & Legends, which will examine the history and evolution of monster stories and ancient mythology, probing their deep origins. If this seems a lot like Clash of Gods, the similarities are almost certainly intentional. Given that my most recent book, Jason and the Argonauts through the Ages, sought much the same information, I suppose I’ll have plenty to say about the series when it airs, and I’ll probably disagree with most of what they have to say. If you’ve read my book, you know I disagree with many of the theories about the origins of particular myths, particularly psychosexual ones. It should probably surprise no one that I wasn’t among those asked to participate in the series.
In the current issue of Communication Quarterly (vol. 62, no. 5), Joseph M. Valenzano III and Erika Engstrom have an interesting article on the CW’s Supernatural, which they see as a representation of American exceptionalism and Christian fundamentalism. In “Cowboys, Angels, and Demons: American Exceptionalism and the Frontier Myth in the CW’S Supernatural,” the two authors argue that the series makes use of the tropes of Christian mythology and the cowboy myth to the effect of arguing that modern Americans view the country as the equal to and proxy for God himself. What interests me is how this analysis applies equally well to some of fringe history’s most popular claims, which use similar imagery to the same effect.
I recently watched the first episode of the BBC’s fascinating three-part documentary Art of Gothic, written and presented by art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon, and it was a wonderful look at the influence of the Gothic on the arts in Britain in the late eighteenth century. As you might have guessed, what Graham-Dixon calls “Gothic” art, we here stateside prefer to term Gothic Revival or Neo-Gothic, to distinguish it from the period that succeeded the Romanesque in the Middle Ages. The documentary featured gorgeous photography and a cultured and urbane narration that skillfully and insightfully examined the origins of the dark and gloomy moment of terror that overtook Britain at the end of the Enlightenment.
Since it’s the Halloween season, stories about hauntings, ghosts, and horror have begun to fill the society and culture sections of mainstream publications in an annual orgy of macabre journalism. Over at Salon.com, sex and porn correspondent Tracy Clark-Flory published a piece linking horror to sadomasochistic sex, reflecting outdated conceptions of horror that trace their descent to Sigmund Freud’s essay on “The Uncanny” (1919). Or, as Clark-Flory put it in her inimitably eloquent style:
Sex, sexuality, sexiness — they are all so blatantly hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-fist-sized-dildo present in everything from slasher movies to women’s Halloween costumes. Then again, sex is such a long-time staple of horror that it’s easy not to notice or wonder about it. It just is, as the sky is blue.
I thought for a change of pace today I might talk about the past week in the supernatural—the fictional kind that is. It was a big week for supernatural horror, and I have a few thoughts about some of the highlights.
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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