Posts Tagged ‘books’

I apologize for the break in the regular posting. My family and I went to England for the holidays; then I became slightly consumed by writing book #3. I have finally reached the point in the story that has me excited and engaged–murder.

2015 vanished in the blink of an eye. I am officially old, that specific age where time starts to disappear faster than I can register. I now understand what my parents were always saying about how the years fly by. The years are flying, and 2015 was the fastest yet.

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Let us take this moment, though, to review the fruits of the horror genre we all experienced in 2015. Please feel free to comment with your own favorites.

Horror Movie

I did not see even a fraction of the horror movies released in 2015 that I wanted to, though I did watch a robust library of horror over the months. I reviewed 39 horror movies on MoviePilot over the year. This left me 13 shy of my goal, but there is always 2016.

If I limit my 2015 horror movie ingestion to only those films released in 2015, horror comedy ended up ruling the year. Historically, horror comedy has been perhaps my least favorite subgenre under the horror umbrella. However, all my favorite 2015 horror movies are horror comedies. Maybe I was feeling more lighthearted this year; maybe my compromising with my viewing partners brought me to the lighter side. Or maybe the subcategory is growing on me.

I even find myself currently penning a horror comedy novel. What has become of me?

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My favorite horror movies released in 2015 are:

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Nostalgia played a huge role in nominating Goosebumps and The Final Girls, particularly the former. Krampus secured my heart by infecting the joyous holiday of Christmas with fear. Yet all are clever and/or well executed; all manage to strike the crucial balance between horror and comedy, a balance of which I am particularly demanding.

I did also watch a fair amount of non comedy horror over the year, but much of that was horror education like Hellraiser and Re-animator, but since this list is restricted to those released in 2015, horror comedy wins!

finalgirls

Tell me what I missed, what movies I should add to my list for 2016.

Horror TV

The Walking Dead rules this category. Obviously. Always does. Mostly, I enjoyed the offerings of my regulars. The Walking Dead, Penny DreadfulAmerican Horror Story. However, the best new additions were Scream Queens (horror comedy again!) and Ash vs. Evil Dead (also pretty much horror comedy–what is happening to me?). If I had to select the series that got the most into my heart and my head during the year, I would declare Penny Dreadful the winner. The last season crawled inside my head, and I sit rigid on the edge of my seat for next installment.

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Horror Book

I did not get to read in 2015. I planned to; I wanted to. Instead, I devoted any spare time I could scrape up to writing. I managed to sneak one book on the plane to England, but it was not horror. I went classic and finally read Venus in Furs. It was amazing! It is the BDSM book everyone should be reading instead of 50 Shades of Grey. The terms sadist and masochist actually come from the author’s name: Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. I devoured it in a sitting.

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Tell me what I should be reading when I reclaim some of my own spare time.

Horror Experience

The Stanley Film Festival was an amazing horror experience. We crammed in as many movies and parties as we could, yet I still do not feel like we even grazed the surface. I loved being able to see such a variety of films before the leaped into the market. I loved being able to see and hear from the actors and filmmakers. I loved feeling like an active member of the horror community. Then, there was, of course, staying in the Stanley Hotel itself. Potentially the best birthday present I have received to date.

I would love to say that I would be returning to the festival this year, but it does not appear to be in the cards. I am certain, however, that I will find myself there another year in the future. Most likely, more than once.

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What were your horror favorites in 2015?

Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/chrstnabergling
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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

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I have written about it before. I wrote a confession of my past, present, and future readings for Confessions of a Reviewer. I reviewed the Goosebumps movie on MoviePilot. Yet doing both those things has but the examination of my horror influences in my brain. My thoughts swirl and fixate on the horror writings that have made an impression on me.

The Goosebumps movie really unearthed these strings in my mind, resurrecting a menagerie of my childhood monsters onto the silver screen in front of me. I had been so anxious and so curious to see how Goosebumps would take the screen. I read at least 50 of the books in my youth and watched any of the TV adaptations I came across. I did not know how they could capture the series instead of just capturing one plotline.

I was pleasantly surprised by the cleverness of the plot. I will not regurgitate my review here again, but the amalgamation pleased me and permitted me to wallow in my own nostalgia. The same way I basked in flashbacks when I dug out all my paperback copies to show my daughter.

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(I love her little ermahgerd face, btw.)

Goosebumps were definitely my first definitive horror influence. Something about them spoke to me. I devoured the books whole as soon as they showed up in the store. I found myself transfixed by the fear, attracted to the light shade of darkness. Reading the books felt like home.

My horror ingestion just grew and evolved from there, but Goosebumps and Halloween were the start, the seed in the perverse dirt of my mind.

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Goosebumps taught me to put fear and horror in the every day, even my childhood life.

The next logical progression was Stephen King. I followed the well-trodden mainstream path of horror development. King, like R. L. Stine, provided an exhaustive library to choose from.  I dove in as deep as my adolescent eyes could take me.

Different Seasons taught me to infuse stories with deep, relateable emotion. Gerald’s Game taught me to fill subtly with fear and tension.

From there, I sampled far and wide. I read the classics. I began indulging horror movies and their various adaptations. I dabbled in other genres. I majored in English and took endless literary classes. Back before I had children, I read ravenously and rapidly. A couple other non-horror influences stick in my mind.

Chuck Palahniuk taught me how fascinating the ugliness of reality is. In 7 Types of Ambiguity, Eliot Perlman taught me about the power of perspective.

A little piece of everything I have read or watched is with me when I create, whether I loved it or hated it. I may emulate aspects of what I love, violently avoid reminders of what I hate. Regardless, I am affected; I am influenced.

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I enjoy rekindling these influences. It feels like taking a stroll through my old mind. For brief seconds, I feel like I am that version of myself again, that child, that teenager. And I look forward to evolving through ingesting new, varied influences in the future who can teach me something about myself that I have not yet seen.

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

I have already shared my thoughts on our culture’s current fixation and mainstreaming of the horror genre. A natural extension of this is our culture’s near obsession with all things apocalyptic.

The horror and apocalypse genres easily blur and mingle, mostly because the apocalypse is the worst thing that most people can imagine. The apocalypse, in any of its varied forms, also nearly always includes a whole menagerie of horrors. It does not have to include a knife-wielding serial killer to be considered a member of the horror family.

I am no exception to this. My first book, Savages, is entirely centered around an apocalyptic scenario. I found this topic fascinating for the same reason I think we as a culture and a species fixate on it.

Humans, as a whole, are almost always somehow focused on our own demise. We have writing about it since there were cave paintings; we invented religion to explain it. We all know it’s going to end somehow, and an apocalypse no doubt seems the most grandiose. What is really more terrifying and fascinating than the abrupt end to absolutely everything we know?

Beyond this inherent morbidity in us, I am drawn to the psychology of the survivors, what happens to people who lose everything and manage to continue on. Due to my own personal beliefs on the savagery of humans (for another blog post, I assure you), I believe something like the apocalypse reverts us back to our natural and base instincts. When falling from a society as advanced and convenienced as ours,  this is a drastic and near unfathomable change. It’s no different than the change required in desperation or war, yet the apocalypse equalizes all humans involved.

I do believe that the more socially tense or politically unstable our culture, the more we tend to gravitate towards this apocalyptic media. The post-apocalyptic obsession is art manifesting our deepest fears about our current reality. Is the apocalypse really happening now? Probably not. But with the issues we face, we can see the path down that road more easily; it seems like a more realistic scenario.

We like to flirt with that fire, get close enough to the heat of that idea while still being able to tell ourselves it’s all fiction and just for entertainment.

Why do you think we are all binging on movies, television, books, video games about the end times?

I remember when zombies were Romero. I remember when vampires were Anne Rice. I remember when werewolves were barely on the radar. Nothing sparkled in the sun; no tweens lusted over the dark creatures. I remember when being a horror lover made you a goth in high school or a gore whore as an adult.

This is no longer exactly true.

Pure and raw horror will never really be mainstream; that is part of what defines it as a genre. Deeply disturbing will never been normal because then, by definition, it cannot be disturbing. However, this diluted, stylized horror has seemed to take over recently.

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The Walking Dead has turned zombies into an utter phenomena. Twilight has brought the screaming teenage masses to vampires and werewolves (if you can even call them that). Hannibal, and TV shows of the like, have brought gore to network television. Serial killers and supernatural creatures and blood are no longer in the shadows. It seems like they are everywhere now.

As long-standing horror lovers, this cultural development is a double-edged sword. On one side, what we love is saturating the market now, easily accessed and pursued. We can see new (and rather well done) stories of Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates in shows airing weekly. We can find zombie clothes, backpacks, whatever in the mall rather than some obscure, overpriced store online. There are more horroresque movies than we have time to attend.

Yet, on the other side, the genre can seem tainted. A key component of horror is being outside the status quo, ripping out of the box to be upsetting or traumatizing. For horror to fit inside the mainstream, the mainstream has become more tolerant of violence and gore, more amiable to fear; however, horror has become more pretty and appealing in turn. To a degree, it has been neutered.

Personally, I love the cultural shift. And I hate it. I enjoy the influx of media in my particular twisted flavor while I lament the perversion of the perverted to something placid for the masses.

Love it and/or hate it, it is what it is. There will always be a place for pure horror on the outskirts of our culture; there will always be a line that the mainstream will be too scared to cross. Even if the majority has adopted the idea behind the genre, purists will be out there keeping the darkness black and frightful.

The apocalypse has gone mainstream. The end of the world manifested in a myriad of scenarios has infiltrated the many forms of the media—books, movies, cable and network television. Right now, it is simply everywhere.

Where zombies used to be at the fringe of horror, they are now their own genre and pop culture phenomena. Where you used to keep some bottled water and canned food in case of emergency, preparation and survivalism have become publicized arts.

This apocalyptic focus is a fascinating cultural fixation. For those of us who have been lurking in horror and the like for years, we now find our interests readily available and flourishing under all the attention. However, despite the avalanche of awareness, there seem to be some real life details that the apocalyptic media glosses over or neglects.

Some of the dirty details get left out. Mundane, daily concerns we would like to pretend we do not have to deal with. Those annoying little realities that will not just be alleviated by the end times. As a woman, three specific examples come immediately to mind.

#1 Periods. Menstruation is a reality most women cannot escape, no matter how much we may wish we could. How in the hell are these surviving women dealing with their periods? Clearly, they did not stop menstruating because a zombie ate their husband or the power suddenly went out. It is safe to assume tampons and pads would not be readily available, and even if they were, how much real estate could these women sacrifice in their nomadic bags to tote them around?

I cannot see any woman just bleeding down her leg (and have not seen it in any movie or show). Not to mention the sanitary considerations this would bring up, blood leaves a trail—both in sight and smell. In most cases, survivors are nomadic and often evading some form of threat. Whether that danger is zombies, other survivors, or (more mundanely) a bear, they would not want that pungent of a trace left leading right to them every 28 days.

Maybe they have gone colonial and are using folded pieces of cloth, if they could acquire enough cloth. However they are coping with the monthly, how are they disposing of the method? Bury it? Burn it? It could be any of the methods used to eliminate shit as a tracker, which I was made intimately familiar with from the stories of my coworkers in Iraq.

Whatever these women would have to do, no one is telling.

#2 Birth Control. This is not all that separate from menstruation. After all, pregnancy is a direct result of the same cycle. And by the same token as assuming tampons would quickly become scarce and nonexistent, condoms are probably not just lying around everywhere. The same would apply for birth control pills, and all medically administered methods (IUD, Depo-Provera, and the like) would naturally be gone with the doctors who would have provided them.

So birth control is out the window, beyond natural methods like pulling out or the “rhythm method” (neither highly effective). People are going to continue to have sex, apocalypse or not, maybe even more so in the face of their demise. Apocalyptic media surely includes plenty of sex between characters. Sometimes there is even pregnancy. However, it is rarely addressed how they would avoid getting pregnant.

Walking Dead did make an exception and included two instances of pregnancy tests miraculously spared and available being used. When Laurie finds out she is pregnant (with a child she eventually has) and when Maggie is confirming that she is not pregnant. Laurie’s pregnancy was a significant plot point, but Maggie’s test was merely a raw and real detail to thicken the authenticity of the show.

#3 Shaving. I will preface this one by acknowledging that Hollywood in particular has to make things pretty. Movies and television have an inescapable visual element. Just like there would no longer makeup or curling irons after the apocalypse yet the characters are still startlingly groomed and sexy; there would not be frequent showers or time with a razor. I understand why this particular aesthetic detail is purposefully ignored and contradicted.

Nonetheless, this applies to both men and women. If the story takes place two years, seven years, decades after the fall of civilization, why does everyone not look like Tarzan? Do they all have a razor and clippers packed efficiently with their magical tampons and birth control pills? When people are scrounging for food, it is very unlikely they are concerned with keeping their hair trimmed short and shaving their legs.

Not many people want to watch a movie with a zombie-slaughtering heroine with French plumes of armpit hair, yet that does not alter the reality of it. Hair will keep growing; women will continue to be fertile and still have their periods.

Shaving does not affect much from a survivalistic standpoint; what difference would it actually make as to whether a survivor makes it or not? A screaming newborn or a trail of blood, on the other hand, would impact the chances of surviving whatever apocalypse in which the character might be trudging. Pregnancy weakens the woman, limits her activity and possibly mobility or ability to flee. A baby makes very clear and constant noise. Blood leaves a trail to follow.

Maybe it does not matter. Maybe these details are deliberately omitted for entertainment value. That is perfectly reasonable, yet I cannot help but notice as I indulge from the buffet of apocalyptic media options.

The questions become:
Apocalyptic fans, would these details make the movies/TV shows/books more realistic or entertaining; are they necessary?
Preppers and survivalists, how would you deal with these realities after the world ended?

“Civilization is just a flickering illusion. Turn the lights out long enough and you see what we really are.”

Another apocalypse story but this is not the same apocalypse. The survivors have no idea what happened. Suddenly, the world just collapsed, and all that remains are remnants and unproven theories. And these are not zombies that chase them. The only word they have for what people have devolved into is savages.

Two survivors travel these ruins of post-apocalyptic America. He remains convinced other survivors are out there, humans who did not become the savages all around them. She knows the darkness insider herself yet follows him, haunted and conflicted, lusting after him, as he pushes them west.

Together, they sit amidst the pieces of another cluster of savages. He leads them to scavenge what is left of the town, only for them to discover a newborn baby tucked in a closet—a child that changes everything.