Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Weekend Reading List: Sorrows, shadows, and sanctuary


Hey kids, life stuff unfortunately got in the way of these weekend lists, but quite a lot of big things happened, so I won’t keep you hanging any longer.

  • This a very pretty comic series that recasts literary figures as witches, and there’s nothing more I want from life, really. [Electric Literature]
  • Unearthing the sea witch” is Hazlitt’s stab at unpacking the glory that is Ursula, and her source material, the drag queen Divine.
  • Problem Glyphs are magic sigils created by artist Eliza Gauger. They are meant to help with anonymously submitted problems, and they are very, very beautiful. There are also over 200 of them and I spent an enormous amount of time looking through them a little while ago.
  • The American Gods adaptation has cast its protagonist, Shadow. The gods’ errand boy will be played by Ricky Whittle, which is hugely promising in terms of casting diversity. [Tor]
  • In the face of the Angoulême Festival’s statement that women don’t appear in the history of comics, the Guardian has a pretty solid rebuttal.
  • Eleven year-old Marley Dias has put together a book drive to collect #1000BlackGirlBooks, or books with Black girl protagonists. Go Marley! [The Mary Sue]
  • This Toast piece takes on Aragorn, his tenuous claim to the throne, and the more bullshit aspects of life in Middle Earth.
  • Here are a couple of short stories for you: Laurie Penny’s “The House of Surrender” is an interesting look at criminal justice and rape culture from the point of view of a future culture, and Anne-E. Wood’s “Ghost Walk” a weird little story of murderous sisters. [der Freitag/Tin House]
  • And definitely read this note Octavia Butler wrote to herself as encouragement. Even her affirmations are beautiful. [Tor]


Image by Brian Duffy

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Horror Films: FAMILY WILL KILL YOU


Alright, so we’ve already seen how people who are supposed to be benevolent, pure, and unthreatening—like women and children—are the fertile ground from which springs some of the best horror, or at least the horror that messes with our preconceptions and taboos in the most interesting ways. But what about family? How does the genre deal with a social space that is, at least in theory, supposed to offer comfort, safety, and unqualified love? Let’s look at a few examples of what happens when the people who know us best, and are meant to protect us, are the source of the horror, when ostensibly unshakeable biological bonds get twisted, perverted, and subverted.


A Tale of Two Sisters

Kim Jee-woon, 2003

The story: Su-mi is institutionalized and being treated for shock, but quickly returns to her father’s home with her sister Su-yeon. The house is secluded, and tensions run high between Su-mi and her stepmother. In the meantime Su-yeon has visions, and develops bruises on her arms. Strange things keep happening, and the father blames Su-mi’s return. But nothing is at it seems, and the mystery surrounding the girls’ deceased mother might play a part in the strange occurrences that haunt the family.

Why you should watch it: If you like mind-benders that stay mysterious right up until the end, you’ll love this (it is actually very hard to write a summary without giving everything away). You’re never sure exactly what’s happening, who’s at fault, or where the threatening sense of foreboding is coming from. There’s a touch of body horror and teenaged sexuality is briefly used to make everything that much creepier. The film is lush and full of rich, saturated colours, and there’s a lot of fun visual symbolism to explore.


Santa Sangre

Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1990

The story: Fenix is a young boy growing up in a circus. His father runs it and performs as a knife thrower, while his mother Concha uses the flying trapeze when she’s not running her new religion, the Santa Sangre Church (devotees of which worship a girl whose arms were cut off by her rapists). When Concha finds out that her husband is cheating on her with the circus’s tattooed woman, a violent altercation ensues that scars Fenix so badly he has to be institutionalized. Years later, he escapes.

Why you should watch it: If you’re at all familiar with cult-favourite Jodorowsky, you know what you’re getting yourself into. This crazy, fascinating mess of stunted emotions, fear of sexuality, trauma, murder, and mommy and daddy issues is complex, uncomfortable, and very, very compelling. The circus setting lends some really interesting visuals to the movie, and like A Tale of Two Sisters, mixing parents, death, and abuse all together is a sure-fire way of creating a sinister as shit story.


Ginger Snaps

John Fawcett, 2000

The story: Sisters Ginger and Brigitte are social outcasts who look down on everyone at school, have only each other as friends, and spend their time putting together morbid photo shoots, with themselves as the grisly murder victims. They’re incredibly close until one night when Ginger gets bitten by a strange animal in the woods. Soon after, her moods and body begin changing. The adults are dismissive, believing that Ginger is just becoming an adult, but Brigitte knows better.

Why you should watch it: There’s no way in hell I’m not going to recommend a movie that uses lycanthropy as a metaphor for female puberty, and you know this by now. Ginger Snaps is campy, and low-budget, and so much fun. The interplay between the sisters is super compelling, regardless of whether they’re loyal best friends or pitted against each other. This film, for all its silliness, is an amazing portrayal of the risks of growing up into a woman and dealing with the fraught topics of desire, adulthood, sex, and abandonment.



Henry Selick, 2009

The story: Only child Coraline moves with her parents to the Pink Palace Apartments, an old house divided into three dwellings. With her parents occupied with the move and working to make ends meet, Coraline begins to feel neglected. While exploring, she finds a small door that leads into the Other World, where she finds her Other Mother and Other Father. They present her with an idealized version of her life and she begins to like it more than her own reality. Things take a dark turn, however, when she refuses to stay there forever.

Why you should watch it: Hey look, it’s our first kid movie! Don’t let that put you off, though, Coraline is plenty unsettling. You see, the reason Coraline doesn’t want to stay in Other World is that she has to agree to have buttons sewn into her eyes. Yeah, you read that right, this is based on a Neil Gaiman book after all. The film is made using beautiful stop motion, and the character design, colours, and subtle differences between reality and Other World are all great.

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Weekend Reading List: Ghosts, ghouls, and gamergaters


And I really wish I didn’t have to, but here’s this week’s #gamergate update:

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Weekend Reading List: Safe sex and Susan the Gentle


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Weekend Reading List: Female friendships and flying girls



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