Pia shares Her Dark Half - Halloween Edition
It's no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday, but I'm definitely not alone in this. What is it about spooky season that has many of us so enthralled? Is it the chance to get into a costume and dress up as your favorite horror icon, pop star, silly meme or traditional Halloween disguise?
Is it the season itself with all its spookiness that ranges from cute to truly creepy? The haunted houses or the annual crop of big studio horror movies? Trick or Treating with the kids? Is it the socially accepted, limited time to let out your...*gasp*...
Halloween, Samhain, Allerheiligen and Dia de los Muertos
Backgrounds and beginnings of these holidays vary in countries around the world with different traditions that have been around for centuries. There is a common theme, mainly the remembrance and honoring of the dead during this time of year. You can easily find so much more about the origins of Halloween or All Hallow's Eve online. Samhain seems to go back a bit further and has Celtic pagan origins which marked the end of the harvest and beginning of the dark winter. All Saints' Day in Mexico coincides, just like the German Allerheiligen, with the first day of the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) celebration.
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When I was a kid in Germany, Halloween was not celebrated there at all - we had Fasching for that. But once it became clear that money was to be made by adding this new holiday, it caught on quickly there too.
So, today, it's everywhere and not just celebrated by and for kids anymore. Sure, the pandemic put a damper on Halloween parties the last couple years, but it looks like they are coming back. And judging by the annoying (to me) "sexy" nurse, cop, teacher etc costumes, it's not just scary or horror stuff either. And don't even get me started on the 'Bavarian beer maiden' or lederhosen costumes...but I digress.
So, is it just entertainment away from real world horror? I don't know, but I'm digging the whole season, because for a little while, I fit right in with the rest of the world!
This is your chance to get creative with your appearance. Don't feel like being a sexy nurse, but a creepy nun instead? Do it! Why not some kind of mashup? Don't want to look all gross and ugly? You can still be that sweet nurse...just covered in fake blood with a (hopefully fake) bone saw in hand. The combo possibilities are endless! Just use your imagination and have fun with it. Embrace your weird and/or inner creep!
Women of the Dark Side
Since this newsletter has Her Dark Half in the title, I thought I'd dedicate this edition to the fictitious women embracing the dark side....
We can all thank Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Morticia Addams and Lily Munster, Catwoman, Cruella de Vil, Nurse Ratched, to name a few, for paving the way. And who could forget femme fatales Alex Forrest (Fatal Attraction) and Catherine Tramell (Basic Instinct) pushing the bloody envelope even further.
Let me chat about some film/tv/literature characters that explore their dark half...for better or much worse! There are so many to choose from, and some are well known, like the protagonists in Kill Bill, Audition, I spit on your Grave, Promising Young Woman, Teeth, Heathers, Carrie, The Housemaid, The Craft, The Witch and many more, but I only have so much time to finish this newsletter, lol!
It was really tough to whittle the list down to a blood splattered handful...
So, here are my (currently) favorite badass, nasty, unpleasant, mean or just plain evil bitches!
(Warning: none of the following movie recommendations are for the squeamish!)
In no particular order, I'll start with Annie Wilkes in 'Misery', a novel written by Stephen King and later played to perfection by Kathy Bates in the movie version. I remember reading the book as a teenager and how my heart was racing as Annie was about to 'hobble' her poor victim. It's different (and just as horrible) in the movie, but man...oooof! I was fascinated and yet horrified how she so easily changed from a very sweet and 'normal' person to absolute walking terror. How this homely looking woman had all that power and was not afraid to use it! She relies on her dark side to get the 'dirty birdy' deeds done. Makes you wonder how many people like that are in our midst....
I admire Lena Olin and think she's an underrated actress with a wide range, but she really took her gloves off (or arm) as deliciously psycho Mona Demarkov in 'Romeo is Bleeding'. Ruthless, relentless and very deadly, she plays a sadomasochistic Russian mob assassin who manipulates a detective (played by Gary Oldman) with her confident charm and alluring femininity. She's not scared of physical pain and has a great villain laugh. She is unapologetically dark, including her wardrobe. She puts femme fatale on a whole new level.
Wow, this character is a tough one. On one hand, you realize she once was a victim and had to endure so much pain and abuse. But what Ma-Ma in the movie 'Dredd' has become in the end is a vicious and ugly (inside and out) beast with zero redeeming qualities. She has left her humanity behind a long time ago and deservedly has to face a fitting end to her horrific reign. Again, Lena Headey pulls no punches and makes your skin crawl. All puns totally intended.
A retelling of the classic Hansel & Gretel story with an interesting and feminist twist. Without giving away too much, let's just say that Gretel definitely finds her dark half and has to make some life changing decisions. I loved how Gretel & Hansel made her the focus instead just the classic old witch; and Sophia Lillis does a great job portraying a young girl coming into her power. Beautiful cinematography and haunting soundtrack too, btw!
Even more recommended movies in which the supposedly 'weaker sex' finds its dark half:
A rebellious daughter with growing powers in Hellbender,
a carload of badass chicks on the hunt in Death Proof,
a group of tough spelunkers trapped underground in The Descent,
a juvenile delinquent serving justice in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,
a ritual rape victim on a revenge tour in Jennifer's Body,
a traumatized girlfriend finding better support in Midsommar
and a med student treating willing and unwilling patients in American Mary.
Honorable mentions (TV shows):
Yellowjackets - A high school girl soccer team barely survive a plane crash deep in the Canadian wilderness. It's an ensemble of young and mature actors, with standout performances by Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey and Christina Ricci. Great casting all around. Hoping for season two soon!
Brand New Cherry Flavor - An aspiring film director in the sun-drenched but seamy world of 1990 Los Angeles embarks on a mind-altering journey of supernatural revenge that gets nightmarishly out of control. It goes places that made my jaw drop and I couldn't take my eyes off lead performers Rosa Salazar and Catherine Keener.
Killing Eve - "After a series of events, the lives of a security operative and an assassin become inextricably linked." Quote from imdb that's putting in mildly. I lost count how many nominations and wins this series has gotten, but lead actors Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh deserve all the love!
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And, so the guys don't feel completely left out...I want to mention the movie 'The Crow', which I watch every October 30th, the night before Halloween, also known as Devil's Night to some. Brandon Lee's character Eric Draven comes back from the dead to avenge his murdered fiance. If only Brandon Lee could come back for real, RIP!
Well, there you are with a few choices to explore over the Halloween weekend! Let me know what you think and if you have any of your own recommendations, please send them my way!
Obviously, these are fictional characters and some of them suffer from some form of mental illness. This newsletter is usually about using your own darkness in a positive, creative and artistic way. I’m not in any way glorifying, romanticizing or making light of any type of mental illness.
If your dark thoughts threaten to turn into action and you are in danger of harming yourself or others, do talk to a friend, a therapist, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or call 911!
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That's it for today! Have a creative and spooky Halloween weekend!
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Dark Greetings…. ‘see’ you in two weeks and stay frosty!
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