I’ve Had Those Moments
As a woman in my mid-fifties, I’ve experienced the horror expressed in this classic moment of cinematic grand dame guignol. I started a YouTube channel recently, and I admit to spending as much time on my make-up, hair, and flattering lighting as I do my “content.” Like many Virgos, I’m vain. I can relate to that famous literary Virgo, Blanche DuBois, who once bemoaned about the “hard knocks my vanity has taken,” and she was only in her thirties at the time.
Vivien Leigh still looks damn good under the bare light bulb. My God, Tennessee Williams was a genius. Check in time at the Tarantula Arms. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Lately I’ve been exploring Tennessee’s summer films: Streetcar and my favorite Suddenly Last Summer, which has its own fear of aging theme. This neglected cinematic classic juxtaposes the ripe Elizabeth Taylor against an aging, devouring mother (played weirdly wonderfully by the great Katharine Hepburn) as means to lure young street urchins for “poet” Sebastian’s Venable’s sexual consumption. In probably the most bizarre montage ever produced in a mid-century, mainstream Hollywood picture, the boys of a small, Spanish village turn against Sebastian, chase him to an ancient temple site, and literally eat him (nothing revolts quite like cannibalism). Mom will do anything to keep Sebastian’s bizarre death (and homosexuality) a secret, including having the witness to this unspeakable act lobotomized.
Sebastian’s face is never seen in the film. Shots like this illustrate the symbolic beauty of cinema. For further reading about this underappreciated classic, here’s an excellent blog post on the subject.
Suddenly This Summer
I find myself writing a lot. I’ve just completed a novella, COUSIN B, that I’ve self-published on Amazon this week.
It’s Gothic and twisted, and it has a scene in it very similar to William’s play. This stuff gets into the brain cells and stays there (the good stuff anyway). I’m also editing book two of my YA paranormal series. My protagonist, Hannah, has a cousin Sebastian. Coincidence? Nope.
I love the idea of aging as a horror trope. My first novel, UNMASKED, deals with it directly. For the next several months I plan to work through my desktop’s bulging file folders that contain my backlog of stories from the past year or so. Once I get those projects finished and published, I can move onto to something new: a grand dame guignol horror perhaps. My favorite playwright, Tennessee Williams, gives me plenty of inspiration.