2012 comes to a close in just a few hours, and a new year starts. 2012 was not an outstanding year for me. In many ways it seems to have passed in a blur of mundane activities. I find myself looking back with some regret, mostly that I wish I had not let a variety of life irritations interfere with the momentum of my writing. I did write some stories that satisfied me in 2012, but I feel like I should have done more. I look at my files of partially completed manuscripts and wince at the possibilities put on pause.
But this is it – I am done beating myself up over not spending more time at the keyboard, of leaving so many worlds and words frozen like ants in amber.
Tonight is a night to celebrate the triumphs, to take them and let them feed a rededication to my craft. I did have some successes this year. I had several short stories published and had one of my favorites turned into a audio podcast over at Nobilis Erotica with the lovely voice of Rose Caraway giving my story “Tourist” life. My erotic superhero short story “Lawman” was chosen to appear in Circlet’s best of print collection Fantastic Erotica. I was honored to have stories in collections edited by Delilah Devlin, Kristine Wright, Rachel Kramer Bussel, D.L. King and Maxim Jakubowski. eXtasy books, Xcite books, Seal Press and Renaissance eBooks published some of my work as well, and I was thrilled to have a couple of my older stories reissued by new publishers.
So 2013 starts with a flurry of successes including the two stories that Maxim Jakubowski selected for his Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 11 (available January 1) – “The Boiling Sea” and “Barnacle Bill.” I am delighted that “The Boiling Sea” is the lead story in this year’s collection. Also, two of my quickie shorts will appear in Maxim’s collection due out in the spring.
Other successes conceived in 2012 will be given life in 2013 – another audio version of one of my popular short stories and other works that I am determined to finish up and send out into the world.
In a few hours I will enjoy some champagne, the company of good friends and family, and I will bid farewell to 2012 and welcome 2013, embracing the possibilities and adventures that can only be born through will and a creative heart. I hope your New Year’s Eve is filled with laughter, good company and most of all, I hope it is safe.
All the best for a bright New Year. Life is sexy – live it.
2010 continued our collective journey through the financial crisis, and while our politicians ratcheted up the rhetoric and demonstrated a shortage of leadership, the American people tried to rise out of the muck and remake themselves. It only seems fitting that horror movies also seemed to find meaning in remakes. Breck Eisner took on the George Romero classic The Crazies, Samuel Bayer raided Wes Craven’s closet and remade Nightmare on Elm Street, Joe Johnson cast Benicio Del Toro as The Wolfman, and Steven Monroe remade Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave. Besides being noted for the remakes, 2010 gave us Cropsey, a creepy documentary by two filmmakers exploring the urban legend of their youth, Splice fed our need for a genetics-gone-wrong story, and Paul Bettany played a sexy fallen angel trying to prevent the End of Days in Legion.
But it was the remake of the amazing Swedish horror film Let the Right One In that hands down won our 2010 race for best horror film.
We approached Let Me In skeptically. As mentioned in our 2008 post, Let the Right One In left an indelible mark on our expectations not only for vampire films, but for horror films as a whole. Combine that with our lack of faith that such a rich story could be transplanted without killing the roots, and we feared the worst. Obviously, we were pleasantly surprised by this high profile production from the reborn Hammer studios. Let Me In moved the story from Stockholm, Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico, but still did a wonderful job of making the girl vampire Abby, both sympathetic and terrifying. The chemistry between actress Chloë Grace Moretz and actor Kodi Smit-McPhee rivaled that of their Swedish counterparts (Lina Leadnersson and Kåre Hedebrant) and gives this movie an amazing tension. Outcast and bullied Owen befriends Abby at night in a local playground, and eventually he learns her true nature. Let Me In reminds us that vampires are terrifying creatures, predators of the first order, and even though Abby appears as an “adolescent” and is in need of a guardian, she is a monster. The relationship between Owen and Abby has a sexual charge, but it is subtle and sweet, and has more to do with mutual understanding and respect than sex.
Another surprise of Let Me In was Richard Jenkins as Father, Abby’s guardian, and in some ways, her prisoner. His performance does an amazing job of portraying his devotion to Abby, but also his jealousy as Abby and Owen grow closer. His unwavering loyalty is tested and tortured as he tries to provide for his charge, and his inevitable end leaves Abby vulnerable.
Let Me In beat the odds by staying remarkably true to Let the Right One In, and it paid off. This remake won several awards including Best Horror Film and Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Chloë Grace Moretz) from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. There is no doubt this film qualifies as a new classic horror film and redeems the vampire as an object of smart horror.
As noted, it’s hard to say anything meaningful about a year so recently passed, but it’s safe to say that not many historians will view 2009 as one of the world’s great years. Wars and rumors of war; the continuing unraveling of national and international economies; earthquakes and hurricanes. Michael Jackson died, but shallow celebrity culture lived on!
In horror films, the year was not as rich as 2008, but then few years are. Torture porn lurched forward on a hundred legs with the dreadful The Human Centipede (First Sequence), which reduced the unspeakable to ironic posturing. Lars von Trier’s Antichrist gave us a front row seat at a personal Gnostic apocalypse that may have done the best job of capturing the world’s mood in this dark year, but ultimately felt unsatisfying as a narrative. Bad sequels (Cabin Fever 2) and stupid re-makes (Friday the 13th and The Haunting) captured the quality of most of the year’s offerings. Zombieland was hugely popular, but we found it un-engaging and painfully self-conscious. Close contenders for favorite of the year included Pontypool (which I inadvertently listed in 2008) and Wake Wood, a scary, low-key tale from Hammer.
But our pick is a brilliant little gem that was released, almost accidentally, in 2009. Trick ‘r Treat, written and directed by Michael Dougherty, is well on its way to becoming a holiday classic! A brilliantly woven web of stories, Trick r’ Treat reminds us that humor and horror can still be effectively combined, if the humor is smart. Trick ‘r Treat was intended for release at Halloween in 2007 but Warner’s nerve apparently failed and the movie teetered on the brink of oblivion before finally finding a DTV release in 2009. In the mean time, it had started to pick up a buzz from a few screenings at festivals and underground digital “distribution” and has gained considerably more of a reputation since its release. Any lover of Halloween should see Trick ‘r Treat.
We like this film not only for its sense of humor and clever structure, but for its playful use of Halloween iconography and numerous, often subtle references to horror comics, films, and folk tales. Sometimes compared to John Carpenter’s original Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat is a far more loving and complete tribute to the weird holiday that, above all else, celebrates the power of imagination.
It was easily our favorite horror film from 2009, even if it should have been released in 2007!
Thanks to the wonderful and unique Side Real Press, one of the seminal artifacts of Weimar decadence is back in print after 90 years. I’ve written about Anita Berber here before, but I never expected to see a reprint of her notorious book, Dances of Vice, Horror, & Ecstasy, co-authored with her dancing partner/husband/partner-in-debauchery Sebastian Droste. The original booklet was probably sold at their performances and surviving copies are rare and expensive, if they can be found at all.
Fortunately for anyone with an interest in Ms. Berber, naked dancer and pioneering celebrity bad girl, Side Real has recreated the booklet in a glorious new edition, translated into English by Merrill Cole and including the original photographic and artistic illustrations. Side Real continues to be one of the most interesting small presses, and I am very honored to have been featured in one of their books, Delicate Toxins, a collection of short stories inspired by Hanns Heinz Ewers, notorious author of dark fantasy and horror stories in the decades before World War II. One of Droste’s poems name checks Ewers, so it’s safe to say that Berber and her lover either knew the author or admired his work:
Villiers de l’Isle Adam
Edgar Allan Poe
E. T. A. Hoffman
Hans Heinz Ewers
Rooms long left
-Suicide, by Sebastian Droste
The poetry is honestly pretty awful stuff, but it may have been effective when recited over two near naked bodies writhing in an Expressionist dance against hallucinatory backdrops. Alas, I don’t think there is much surviving film of Berber and certainly none from the performances where this exceedingly dark little book was offered for sale. We are left to interpret exactly what the numbers Cocaine or the Byzantine Whip Dance must have looked like.
My favorite part of this delightful little volume is the section of color sketches at the end, showing concepts for sets and costumes. These drawings, even more than the photos of Anita and her grotesque lover, are windows into a world we will never see, but that we can touch in our own flights of erotic imagination.