Archive for art

Forbidden Tomes: BELOVED by TONI MORRISON

Posted in Forbidden Tomes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2015 by smuckyproductions

 

America’s past is full of horrors. Red stains that we have tried to expunge. But while scrubbing away the colors may dull them, it only embeds them deeper into the fibers, where they fester. It is rare to find a book or a film that honestly and completely explores these stains; and it’s no surprise that one of the greatest examples comes from Toni Morrison, in her powerhouse novel BELOVED.

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Set in the years just after the Civil War, this novel acts as two things: a historical thriller and a ghost story. It occupies two times, weaving the narrative of a woman who escaped slavery, and the aftermath of her family some years later. They live in a house haunted by the ghost of the woman’s baby. When a man whom the woman knew before she escaped comes to visit her, along with a mysterious young girl who may not be human, the woman is forced to confront the horrific past that she may not be able to reconcile.

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Morrison is an undersung genius in the art of the metaphorical Gothic. Her novels are populated by strange, but deeply human, characters – people like Milkman and Pilate in “Song of Solomon,” Sethe and her haunted family in this story. These slightly surreal elements are intriguing from an entertainment perspective, but by the time the reader has become interested, Morrison has already unleashed the full blow of her disguise. Her fantastical elements always stand for something else. She never undercuts them by retracting from their reality, though – in the world of the story, they exist, but they also represent something in our physical world.

The ghosts in this novel, amongst things both literal and nebulous, stand for past trauma. Sethe and her living daughter, along with the supporting characters, are haunted by the horror that their mind cannot escape: the nightmares of slavery. Morrison doesn’t spoon-feed these metaphors to the reader, though. She embeds them in the terror, making the reader feel every wrong done until they can’t deny it. Her vivid details serve a more horrifying purpose because, to many people, they were reality.

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This is a deeply important novel. Morrison’s ghosts are those of our own history – and they are not at rest. ‘Beloved’ is far from a traditional scary story, but it embodies the truth of horror so completely, and digs up terrifying graves that were never really buried. The aura of doom that pervades the characters’ lives is a doom that exists. For that reason, it is impossible to look away, or to forget. This book’s truths are more haunting than any phantom.

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Poem: “ROOFTOP PARTY”

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Not all ghosts have yet died. 

ROOFTOP PARTY

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Upon this murky hollow
The congregation waits:
City a ghost in the distance
A dome of brown night above them
Even the darkness is not real

 

Their floating hair wreathed
In timid moon, cloying streetlight
Too weak to reach their faces
Conceal the drunken sheen
Of desperation, voices
Uniform cacophony of
Blearing silence
Wordless, yet their mouths gape

 

Glued to empty cups,
Failing places on this wasteland,
Smoke wise enough to drift away,
Faces they can’t see
And would turn from anyway –
These ghosts deny their state
To the point of a half-life
Resurrection, false reflection
Because actual breathing
Repulses them –
Better to draw fractal air
That will not show the holes
In their rotted lungs

 

To be one of them is to be blind
As they are –
To observe from the edge
Extracted defunct tooth
To listen to empty mouths
Spouting garbled pleas
Is to know
And to fear
And to pity
What they do not see

 

An era ago I was a ghost
Not yet dead, shivering
Beside the moonlight
Straining for a shock of flesh
To understand – but you
Cannot return once
You see them screaming
And do not scream back

 

I lurk on the sides
No better than a vulture
Yet no worse than one, either
For I keep my tongue
And solitary cries comfort
When their non-skin chills

 

My muse is the throng
Of these grinning creatures
Who have forgotten their name –
What use is a wordless muse?

Yet still I lurk
And on the coldest of nights
I, too, would trade
My name

 

OVER THE GARDEN WALL: A Modern Classic

Posted in Halloween, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Animation has been at the forefront of the avant-garde television movement, with countless shows – “Adventure Time” and “Rick and Morty,” to name just two – combining vividly unique styles with subversively brilliant storylines. It’s a genre-bending, form-defying renaissance. And from this revolution has come a great Halloween gift: OVER THE GARDEN WALL.

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When reading a logline or seeing the poster for the first time, this Cartoon Network-produced miniseries sounds fairly typical: two brothers get lost in a spooky wood and must find their way home. In execution, the show transcends this premise and fills it with subtle, sublime brilliance. The brothers encounter characters who reveal dark but poignant themes about isolation and loneliness, and also travel on their own philosophical journey, struggling with a purgatorial loss of hope and purpose.

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Through the music, the character design and the general atmosphere, the show places itself in an amorphous early-1900s period that is purely enchanting. The supporting characters range from animals dressed in old-fashioned clothes, grotesque witches, and skeleton-dressed pumpkins. And the forest through which the brothers must find their way is stunningly designed. The animation is luminous, with soft oranges and browns that evoke autumn perfectly. It evokes something akin to “Wind in the Willows,” with a gentle aura that can sometimes turn sinister.

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But these are just style elements. The true genius lies in the characters and stories. Throughout the ten episodes, the brothers encounter about as many different characters – my particular favorites were Auntie Whispers (voiced by Tim Curry) and the pumpkin people – who each evoke something of the lost purpose that the brothers feel themselves. And the villain, a terrifyingly simple creation called The Beast, stands as a testament that the greatest evil is often the most invisible and enticing. I won’t reveal the theme that this creature represents, but suffice to say, it culminates in a heartbreakingly beautiful finale.

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“Over the Garden Wall” also holds itself as one of the greatest examples of animated horror that I’ve seen. The Beast being the greatest example, but supported by a number of other ghouls and wicked creatures, this show displays an unsettling ability to scare the viewer – all without breaching its target audience of young viewers. For this reason, and because of the atmosphere, it’s ultimate Halloween viewing – standing alongside “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” I dare say. Horror does not have to be hardcore to unsettle; in fact, subtle can sometimes be scarier.

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With terror, philosophy, and beauty combined, “Over the Garden Wall” feels like a classic birthed in our modern era – not only for its craft, but for its sincerity. No note of this show comes off as false or pandering. The creators truly believe what they’re making, and each frame is instilled with that passion. It feels honest and raw, which causes it to touch the viewer so much more intimately. The humor, the fear, and the sadness all come from a real, truthful place. It’s cathartic, in the end – and who ever thought a children’s show could be cathartic? That’s why it transcends its boundaries and creates something universally brilliant. And, it so happens, one of the best Halloween watches of all time.

ONE FOR THE ROAD Short Film – Indiegogo Campaign!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2014 by smuckyproductions

Hello fellow horror fans!

In just two weeks, I will be embarking on a wild journey: adapting Stephen King’s story “One for the Road” into a short film for NYU film school. We are in the midst of casting, location scouting, and makeup testing now – but we need your help to raise the funds to finish the film!

CLICK HERE to donate NOW!

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“One for the Road” tells the chilling of two men who must venture out into a dark, cold night to help a stranger find his wife and child in an abandoned town – a town that harbors a deadly secret.

Based on a Stephen King story, this short film is a labor of (slightly deranged) love. I (being the director!) have dreamed about this project for a long time, and thanks to NYU film school, it is finally being realized! The film already has a fantastic crew of other passionate kids, but we’re missing two things – real vampires, and MONEY. You guys can help with one of those things.

Watch the campaign video BELOW:

Among other prizes, donations will reward you with color instructions on how to make yourself a vampire, and will put your name in the credits. Who doesn’t want to be in the credits of a scary King movie?

Any amount of money will help. Click HERE to support a young filmmaker in realizing a vision of terror!