Happy Halloween

October 31st is horror fans’ official holiday. This year I’m celebrating by dressing up as my favorite screen character, Baby Jane Hudson. I guess I’ve entered my Grande Dame Guignol years. I embrace it. I look forward to scaring the children on my doorstep this year.

Below are a few of my favorite Grand Dame’s, proving that they still got it past their prime (youth).

Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson

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According to B.D. Hyman’s exposé My Mother’s Keeper, Davis showed up at the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane still wearing her make-up from the previous day’s shoot and just added more. Davis’ willingness to take her performances to the extreme without any regard for her vanity is impressive. But her famous counterpart held onto her glamour with her manicured nails for dear life. For that reason and others, she’s my personal favorite.

Joan Crawford in Strait Jacket & Berserk

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Wearing a fright wig reminiscent of her Oscar winning role in Mildred Pierce, Crawford’s post Baby Jane turn as a hatchet wielding harridan in Strait Jacket is a grande dame guignol classic. Unfortunately it’s not a very good film. Still, it’s fun to watch at least once, and I have to admire Joan’s dedication to maintaining her girlish figure at 60. Even more impressive is how glamorous she looks in the 1967 British camp classic Berserk. With her perfect make-up and hairstyles, Joan plays a sixty-something carnival barker who not only still looks good in fishnet tights she sets the carnival hunks’ hearts (and other anatomy) ablaze.

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Still setting hearts ablaze.
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Nice gams!

 

Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard

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Billy Wilder’s 1950 classic may be the start of of Grande Dame Guignol cinema. These were the days when the mere thought of a fifty-year-old woman (and Swanson looks incredibly good) making it with a handsome young guy in his thirties was enough to generate horror. For the record, I’ve always found Norma Desmond much more desirable than the young and perky Betty Schaefe, and fortunately my husband agrees. I think there are plenty of men today who would “take the Vicuna.”

And finally, we can thank the ABC Movies of the Week from the 1970’s for some other great examples of Grande Dame Guignol, where older movie stars found work in television. Below are some fine examples. If you appreciate camp (and some damn good stories), you’ll find much to enjoy here. Many of these are available in low res on YouTube.

Enjoy your Halloween!

Barbara Stanwyck in A Taste of Evil (1971)

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Olivia De Havilland in The Screaming Woman (1972)

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Shelley Winters in Revenge (1971)

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Eleanor Parker in Home for the Holidays (1972)

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Autumn Reads

The other night my heart thrilled at the sight of an enormous harvest moon making wavy gold streaks on the river’s surface. I smelled the crisp scent of burning leaves in the suddenly chilly air and knew my favorite season had returned at last. In Pennsylvania we get the weather extremes, and as much as I love the hot summer nights, fall is my favorite and it’s here at last. To celebrate the season of the witch, I’ve put together a reading list to hit the sweet spots of Halloween haunts, #Victober (a cool BookTube trend of reading Victorian era books during the October month), some true crime thrown in to keep me up at night, Gothic romance because I’ll find any excuse to read those, and a crusty 80’s era horror paperback from a recent thrift shop haul.

October TBR

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. I have about 200 pages to go. This is a re-read. Halfway through this nearly 1000 page tome while I was reading all about the Mayfair Witches history in the Talamasca file that goes on forever and ever, I kept thinking why? Why did I do this to myself? This book is such a commitment, but yet I couldn’t abandon it. It slowly seduces as much as Lasher and the city of New Orleans does. Yes, I will reread the subsequent books in the series, Lasher and Taltos. And yes, I’ll ask myself why the entire time. Can someone please make a TV series of this already so I don’t have to read it again when I feel the itch?

Small Sacrifices by Anne Rule. Again, why do I do this to myself? I must have read this book three times since it came out in the late 80’s. Some video about Diane Downs came up in my YouTube feed the other day and the next thing I knew I was loading up the book in my kindle and for the past few days I could barely pull myself away. There is something about the way Anne Rule writes that elevates hers from other true crime books. She not only reports the facts, she finds the drama and digs in deep.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. This Gothic romantic classic was written in the Victorian era so I suppose it counts for a #Victober read. This is another reread, but it’s been a while. Also, I just got myself a beautiful Easton Press leather-bound copy: perfect for cozy reading by the fire (or space heater) with a cup of tea.

For a less literary Gothic romance choice, I plan to read Volume Two in the Dark Shadows book series. They’re super short and I can knock one out in a day.

For my 80’s horror paperback pick, I’m reading Soul-Eater by Dana Brookins. I have no idea if this is any good, but the cover is fantastic. Let’s hope the story lives up to it.

And finally. I plan to finally finish Mr. Clive Barker’s Books of Blood that have been withering in my kindle for months. I just completed volume five and the stories contained within were my favorite so far. Now onto volume six. I can do this.

So, here are my best laid reading plans that will probably so awry, but what fun are plans if you can’t break them? Happy reading.

 

 

Anatomy of a Sequence

The Exorcist

The Exorcist’s opening Iraq sequence is a masterclass in visual metaphors. By using only images and sound (the brief dialogue is in Arabic), a portending evil is introduced.

The scenes taking place in an ancient arid land (you can feel the heat) slowly lull the viewer into a hypnotic trance with its stark imagery. These symbols remain in the viewer’s subconscious and are called back in later scenes: the black cloaked women in the Iraq street scene and the white cloaked nuns in the Georgetown street scene, the demon face of the women in the carriage and “old altar boy” bum in the subway, animal images and sounds, all adding layers of complexity that the viewer absorbs and feels, but perhaps doesn’t consciously understand.

Many films today would forgo this prequel setup as being ‘too slow,’ but by taking its time and showing the ancient roots of the Pazuzu, demon of the wind, and the sense that Father Merrin has dealt with its evil before, the film gains more gravity and deep symbolic meaning that lingers in the viewer’s subconscious long after the shock values of the spinning head and silly spider-walk wear off.

Often this sequence is forgotten about by the viewer when they recall the film; but the symbols are planted, priming the mind to receive the rich and layered storytelling of a film that has stood the test of time for a reason.

A blood red sky shines down on the archeological site of an ancient spiritual temple ruins.

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 8.28.08 AM Continue reading “Anatomy of a Sequence”

New Release Coming Soon!

Hello, my witchy friends. Just a quick update to inform you that the second book in my Young Adult Paranormal Gothic series is slated for release on August 25th.  But, it’s available for pre-order on Amazon now!  The witch of long shadowsOf course, if you really can’t wait to find out what happens to Hannah and Sebastian, you may always read an early draft of the story on Wattpad for Free!

I have also completed about a third of the new book in the Chronicles of Dark Hollow series, The Lord of Blackshire. The first draft is now uploaded on Wattpad. You can start reading it HERE!

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I  have to give Wattpad a lot of credit for giving me a platform on which to develop this series. The first book has now surpassed 100K reads. The encouragement I’ve received from the readers and their responses have helped me to shape this story into something that is actively engaging all my creative faculties. Just when I think it will be the last book, I come up with a new idea for the next one. So far, I intend to have four books in the series (enough for a nice box set).

Anyway, I’m busy this summer writing new material and editing the old stuff, so I’d better get back to it.

Do check out this series if you love old-school Gothic chills with a bit of twisted romance thrown in. As always, a big shout-out to Consuelo Parra for the lovely cover designs.

 

 

 

New YA Book is now LIVE!

The Ghosts of Dark Hollow

My new YA novel, The Ghosts of Dark Hollow, is now LIVE on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

I’m also doing a FREE physical paperback copy giveaway (first-come basis) in exchange for an honest review. If interested, shoot me an email at exlibrisregina@gmail.com.

The Ghosts of Dark Hollow is the first in a series, The Dark Hollow Chronicles, but it also functions as a stand-alone story. I started this book as a Wattpad story in August 2017. Readers’ responses helped shaped the story and when I completed it in December I was thrilled to have it featured on the paranormal page. It’s currently trending on the Wattpad Hot List.

Because of the overwhelming positive response from readers, I wrote the first draft of the sequel, which you can start reading now on Wattpad. I’ll be updating/editing it daily.

I hope you enjoy my new story which will probably be a three book series. It’s been, and continues to be, a wonderful journey.

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Cover designs by Consuelo Parro

 

Pure Joy Straight from Hell

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Lilly checking out the killer dog sub-genre.

Paperbacks From Hell – Book Review

It was with great anticipation that I pre-ordered Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix after seeing it mentioned on one of my favorite blogs Too Much Horror Fiction (webmaster Will Errickson writes the afterword and provided a lot of the spectacular cover art from his personal collection). I dedicated a weekend to plunging into this Quirk Books release, and it far exceeded my expectations on every level. Continue reading “Pure Joy Straight from Hell”

Autumn Ghost Stories

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Fall Equinox may be a few weeks away, but once my birthday arrives in late August (and perhaps as a consequence of receiving school supplies for presents as a child along with my many years of teaching), it’s a signal that the summer is officially over; and with it the end of trash reading (at least for awhile). Sandy beaches are a bit overrated, and I prefer them in the cold weather anyway.  I don’t do much lounging by the proverbial pool these days either, but I have been hiking once a week. Yesterday was truly glorious.

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It will only get better as the temperature drops and the leaves turn brown—all that stuff that feeds my Gothic soul! Continue reading “Autumn Ghost Stories”

Misty Daydreams

The days have been cool and misty. Fall is my favorite time of year, and this year feels like an early one. I don’t miss those balmy September days. Summer is over (perhaps not officially) and so is summer reading. Done are those cheap romance and horror novels I love so (well, maybe not completely). I read a lot this summer. I meant to read Dune, but it’s still sitting on my shelf. Mostly I read silly Gothic romances. I bought a bulk lot of them on eBay.  They are fun and mindless entertainment, but as the weather chills, I try to be more disciplined. It’s time to get back to my Gothic reading list. Next on my list is the Henry James classic The Turn of the Screw. I’ve seen The Innocents many times (it’s one of my favorites), but I never read the entire book cover to cover. It’s perfect reading for this time of year. After that, maybe some Hawthorne.

Besides doing a lot of reading, I’ve been writing a lot. Not only did I just self-publish my second novel, Black Magick: an Occult Thriller, I started two new stories. See them unfold in real time on Wattpad (strange name, but it’s my new favorite website). Wispy Hollow is based on a television pilot script I authored from a few years back. I shoved it in a folder and kind of forgot all about it until I was looking for projects to add to the site. The site and the stories I’m writing there are definitely geared toward the young adult audience.The second one is a twisted, Gothic tale inspired by My Cousin Rachel. It’s a

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Continue reading “Misty Daydreams”

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