Friday, 31 January 2014

Cat Quiz!

Thought I'd post a little blog to help challenge your minds, Beautiful Readers. One of these cats is not real. Can you guess which one?





Tricky, I know, and totally not a thinly veiled excuse to post silly pictures of my kittens. The answer will be posted at the bottom in ridiculously tiny type. Take your time.

Answer: B is, in fact, a tea cosy, made by the fabulous Ulster Weavers. Man, this type is really, really small! I can barely read what I'm typing. It could say anything! Bum!!! Ha ha! Now I'm just getting silly. Poo!!!! Mwah ha ha!

Friday, 24 January 2014


Last Saturday, finding myself at a loose end, I went to a study day on Gothic Style at the BFI. I'm so loving their Gothic Season and am both sad that it's ending, annoyed that I didn't go to see more things, and slightly worried that the fact such a major institution is celebrating the Gothic, means that it's probably about to go out of fashion and soon it'll be much harder to buy cool stuff with skulls on.

Anyway, it was a really interesting day, looking at Gothic style in the movies, in various sub-cultures and in high-fashion. There was far too much interesting stuff to write about here (including the fact that the skinny trouser is the largest contribution of the Gothic to male fashion, and a surprisingly interesting dissection of the videos of Lady Gaga that nearly led to some Goth on Goth violence, but made me appreciate her more as performer, if not as a singer).

It occurred to me that if I was going to share one thing with my Beautiful Readers, then I wanted to share Angel-Rose. She is a performance artist in a style she refers to as Disco Goth, combining the transcendent joy of Disco with an appreciation for, and fascination with, the Dark Side (it felt right to capitalise that, although now it looks like I'm talking about Star Wars). Her work is really fun, quite silly, and all about revelling in our own fabulousness. I don't cope very well with people who take themselves too seriously (for example, the anti-Gaga French Goth Lady). It seems to me that Angel-Rose, through her short, music video style films, is the antithesis of that. The music is camp, the out-fits are over-the-top and the make-up is fantastic.

Thanks to the age we live in, Angel-Rose does, of course, have a website, where you can watch all but her most recent film. I strongly urge you to visit and I really hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Life of Hilary Blackman

The Life of Hilary Blackman
            I am sitting in a small, dark room. A bare light-bulb is hanging over head and on a chair next to me is the bomb. The clock on the front tells me that I have less than an hour to go, which means that I have been here for almost an entire day and that my life will soon be over. I have been kidnapped by a lunatic who is forcing me to write him a story. I assume he has some way of monitoring what I type on this laptop. Hope you’re enjoying this, arsehole. If I haven’t written the story by the time the countdown gets to zero, the bomb will explode and I will die.
            This is not how I normally work.
            I sat here stubbornly for the first few hours, refusing to write a single word, hoping that the psycho who brought me here would realise the futility of trying to force the creative process. I regret that now. I probably could have knocked off some silly five-hundred word fairy tale and be sitting in a police station right now, trying to help them find this mad man, but no, my pride got the better of me.
            Eventually he came in, still wearing that stupid ski mask. He hasn’t spoken to me at all. That gave me hope that he might set me free, a hope that slips away with every passing second. He gave me some food and some instructions, written on a page torn from a cheap notebook.

You aren’t writing. Maybe you don’t have any good ideas left. I will help you. Now your story must contain the following elements:        
Title: The Life of Hilary Blackman
Character: Fargax the Eater of Souls
Theme: Jealousy
Dialogue: “You’re a damned fool! You’ll never get away with it!”

Fail to include any of these elements and you will die as surely as if you write nothing.
I know you can do this.
I know you want to live.

I stared at the note in despair. I write dystopian fiction that tackles the burning issues of today by setting them in a broken future. He must know that. I have never written a piece with a character called anything like Fargax, the Eater of Souls!
Maybe he does just want me dead after all.
And what about that theme? Jealousy? Is that why I’m here? He must have seen my work and thought it was too good to let me live. Maybe he’s a writer? For a moment I feel almost flattered. Then I look at the bomb next to me. If he was jealous, maybe he should have kidnapped China Mieville instead.

I ate the food he left and decided that I really ought to write something. Maybe he won’t actually let me go, but at least it’s something to do to pass the time rather than just waiting for that bomb to explode. The trouble was I couldn’t think of anything to write, and as the hours passed I could find myself becoming more frustrated and scared, and feeling less and less creative.
About five hours ago, inspiration struck and I wrote this paragraph;

Fargax the Eater of Souls sat in the shed at the end of the garden attempting to digest the final morsels of Hilary Blackman. He didn’t normally hang around after an attack, but he wasn’t feeling all that well. He hadn’t even been able to become invisible, so had squeezed his giant, squishy purple frame into the small wooden structure

I had the glimmer of an idea, something about Fargax needing to eat people to stay alive. Hilary Blackman would be his final victim because, unbeknownst to him, she was actually some kind of weapon. Maybe there was something in her past that would destroy The Eater of Souls. Maybe just seeing her living her life like a normal human being would make Fargax feel jealous and he would just die… for some reason.
            This was where I got stuck. Surely a creature that eats souls wouldn’t care about the normal life of an Earthling. What could she possibly do that would destroy him, other than not really be human, but that would be too easy and I can’t make my villain look like such an idiot that he can’t tell a human soul from a robot!
            I started again with another paragraph.

Hilary Blackman stood at the queue in Morrison’s feeling certain that there must be more to life than this. She was in a dead-end job with no idea how to get out of it, or what to do next. In her childhood she had dreamed of being a movie star or of a life on the stage. Now she prayed constantly for some kind of adventure to come into her life, for someone to sweep her off her feet, for something, anything, to actually happen.

My thinking was that if I focussed on Hilary I could make her some kind of “every-woman” that the reader could identify with, who would be transformed into a heroine when she defeated the evil Fargax. Unfortunately, at this point I remembered that “the reader” in this case was a deranged kidnapper threatening to blow me to smithereens and that made me lose the plot, rather literally.
            I even had an attempt at being funny. I returned to my original paragraph, hoping to rework it. I thought of the absurdity of making Fargax my main character, having him feeling tired of eating souls, or not really fitting in with the other soul eaters. Maybe all he wants to do is settle down and lead a normal life with Hilary, and he’s jealous of the other men who show an interest in her. Then I realised I’d slipped from Comic Fiction to Dark Romance and simply had to stop.

            So now I’ve just been sitting here, watching the seconds tick by out of the corner of my eye, unable to think of anything that could contain all the elements he wants me to put in. I’m sure I could put together something rubbish, but somehow I can’t bring myself to do that. If this is to be the last thing I write, I’d like to go out with some dignity.
            I actually fell asleep at one point. I awoke to find him standing over me, with a cup of tea and another note.

Time is running out.

No shit.
I drank my tea, and then just started typing, just writing what you are reading here. There isn’t even enough time now to write a story, but hopefully someone might find my remains, and enough of the laptop will survive that they will be able to read what I have written and find this maniac before he strikes again. They do things like that all the time on CSI. Hold on…

I just took a deep breath and shouted, “You’re a damn fool! You’ll never get away with it!” As last words go, I think they’re fairly good, and I hope that this monster’s words will come back to haunt him. Now all I can do is sit and watch the time run down,


Document found with partial remains of IC1 female at sight of explosion in abandoned warehouse. Entered into Police Evidence on 21/6/2013. Investigation on-going.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Horror for Kids #4: 13 Reasons to Love the BFI

Okay, so I probably ought to have written something about the BFI Gothic season before now, but I didn't, so let's just get over it.

Anyway, I was on the BFI website (pretty gothic itself) and I noticed this link. If you can't be bothered to click on it, then it's the 13 Gothic films that children ought to have seen by the time they're 13.

How exciting! I'm all for getting kids into horror, it's both character building and good for the soul. How wonderful to find an actual proper institution doing the same thing, even if they have snuck it in under the guise of education.

I'm not sure how many of these I had seen by the time I was 13, and actually one of them came out once I had already passed that age, but if you have, or know, any kids, pass this on to them. I've not seen all of them myself, but am definitely planning to.

So, here are the films, and maybe I'll start a new, probably quite irregular series, where I tell you what I think of them. Furthermore, because I love you all so much, any that are available to watch legally online will have a link to them.

1) The Mistletoe Bough (1904)
2) Nosferatu (1922)
3) Rebecca (1940)
4) La Belle et la Bete (1946)
5) Hansel and Gretel (1955)
6) The Night of the Hunter (1955)
7) The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
8) The Sandman (1992)
9) The Mummy (1959)
10) The Innocents (1961)
11) Night of the Demon (1957)
12) The Elephant Man (1980)
13) Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Horror for Kids #3: Coraline

Do you ever have one of those moments where you watch a film and then feel sad that it took you so long to get around to seeing it, because it's amazing and if you'd seen it when it came out you'd have had it in your life that bit longer? Well, that's what happened to me the other day when I finally watched Coraline. I was going to post something about it straight away, but I wanted to read the book first and write about them both together.

The relationship between the book and the film is really interesting. Whereas most film adaptations take stuff away, this film takes Neil Gaiman's wonderfully creepy modern fairy tale and adds a few new elements and a few new characters in order to make it work over the 100 minute running time. The great thing is that all those elements enhance the story without ruining it.

I have to say, this is one of the creepiest stories I've read or seen in a long time. I was really interested to see in the introduction to the 10th Anniversary edition of the book that Gaiman originally started writing it for his five year old daughter. Given that the story involves child neglect, disappearing parents and people sewing buttons over their eyes, I'm fairly certain that it would have scared me witless at that age! I wonder if Neil Gaiman's daughter still has a love of all things terrifying? If so, she must be pretty hardcore by now.

Anyway, both the book and the film are magical, existing in that childhood state of mind that can just except weird shit happening and deal with it. It's fantastical and beautiful, and at the same time I thought Coraline came across as a really believable character, especially in the way she is constantly having to correct people's pronunciation of her name.

If you like creepy stories, whatever your age, you will love this one. If you are a more delicate soul, then take heart in the fact that the main message of this story is that real bravery comes from being scared and still doing the right thing, and then read the book and watch the film anyway.

Oh, and click on the link above to the book's website. It's awesome!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Momento Maureen's Rambunctious Resolutions

Happy New Year, Beautiful Reader!

I have returned from the Land of Pasties and Cream Teas full of plans for 2014. Oh, don't you worry, none of these are the kind of life improving/weight losing malarky you might find scribbled in my diary. No, these are Momento Maureen's Rambunctious Resolutions!

1) I resolve to keep posting on this blog regularly. I've not been too bad since the beginning of December, but I'm aiming for consistency.

2) I resolve that this blog will be all killer and no filler. Yep, I'm not just going for quantity, there'll be some pretty awesome quality shit in here as well.

3) I resolve to watch everything that Sean Pertwee has ever been in. Now, that's a lot of stuff, and his cannon keeps growing (that sentence made me chuckle) but at least I can make a start in 2014, and obviously I will keep you all updated on my progress, because I know you love him as much as I do, right?

4) I resolve to be more creative. I won't be put off by the Horror of the Paper Zombies (aarrgggghhh!), and will make more cool and creepy stuff to be shared here in wonderful technicolour.

5) I resolve to blog fearlessly and try to make this the best damn blog it can possibly be. Then I'll be perfectly poised to take over the world! Mwah ha ha! Oh, I'm still typing. Ignore that last bit.

So, five resolutions and 361 days in which to make them happen. Wish me luck!
Happy New Year, everyone. Hopefully 2014 will be awesome for us all.