Pia shares Her Dark Half - Issue #21
What kind of horror species are you?
We’re almost at the end of February and this is the time of year I get that kinda low and bummed out feeling. It’s usually because of the holiday fallout (well, basically catching up on the financials), but over the years, I realized there really is something to this thing called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Makes me wonder if I’d feel that way all the time if I still lived in Germany. Here in California, this is just the rainy season…and what baffles me is, I love the rain! It’s a nice change from the scorching heat the rest of the year. So, what gives?
No worries, I’m fine. Just something I notice every year. How are you dealing with the late stages of winter? Spring is almost here…even though it doesn’t feel like it in a lot of places right now. Looks like that little critter in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania was right! Did you know that this whole Groundhog Day thing came from the Germans? Go figure!
So, for today, I was going to write more about creative photography, but then, as this newsletter was shaping up, and based on my movie recommendations below, another topic came to mind:
Why do we watch horror movies/tv and what does it say about you?
I thought about this (not for the first time; and I have been in deep discussions with fellow horror fans in the past) and wondered why folks who are not into horror sometimes do watch scary movies. What is the deciding factor? Is it the hype or curiosity? Or maybe it features a favorite actor, composer or director? There are so many horror sub genres, like folk horror, bug horror, body horror, supernatural horror, slashers, etc. Is there a type you feel drawn to and why? What is your absolute no-no? Maybe you feel like you can learn from the poor protagonist’s trials and tribulations. Nothing more intriguing than a ‘what would YOU do’ kind of movie. Or is it simply an oddly comforting feeling to see how much worse things could be and you’re not in such a bad place in the real world after all.
I found an interesting article about why we like scary things and it lists three types of horror fans: the “adrenaline junkie”, the “white knuckler” and the “dark copers”. I know I’m definitely not an adrenaline junkie, so I must fall between the last two groups, which is fine by me. I also believe that being a “dark coper” is the reason the pandemic didn’t increase my overall anxiety that much. As a “worrier”, I already feel somewhat mentally prepared for lots of worst case scenarios. It wasn’t until two years in, that the pandemic finally messed with me and at that point, it was mostly work-related. (I’ve been working part time at Trader Joe’s through the whole thing as a grocery store clerk and was deemed an essential worker. No lockdown or staying at home on furlough for me!)
You don’t consider yourself a horror fan? What about those of you that enjoy listening to true crime podcasts or read books or comics featuring murder and mayhem? Or, dare I say…the Bible? Do you sneak a peek while driving past an accident scene? Either way, we seem to get something out of horror, fictional or real. Admit it, it proves that we all have a dark side, more or less.
So, why do we like this stuff? According to researchers, it is a combination of an adrenaline rush and an opportunity to learn about coping with dangerous situations while in a safe environment. Sounds reasonable.
Or maybe, it’s just fun to watch stupid people get what they deserve. F*ck around and find out, as they say!
No artistic homework for you this time! Instead, challenge yourself and watch a movie or tv show that you’ve been too scared of before. Get out of your comfort zone and maybe you’ll even learn something about yourself. Grab a buddy, turn off the lights and find out which horror species you belong to!
Share-worthy stuff I saw or found out about:
This month, I saw more movies than TV shows. I still highly recommend The Last of Us, which I mentioned in my last newsletter, and officially upgrade my rating to 5 out of 5 mushrooms! I also saw The Lair and found it disappointing. M3GAN was pretty fun, but all the hype about it set my expectations higher than they should have been.
One new ‘discovery’ of mine is Pokerface with Natasha Lyonne, created by Rian Johnson, writer/director of Knives Out. It’s like an old school whodunnit series with strong Columbo vibes, with each episode featuring a new case and surprise appearances of familiar faces like Ellen Barkin, Adrien Brody and many more. It’s not horror, but dark and funny enough to keep my interest. Plus, who doesn’t love multi-talented Natasha Lyonne and her raspy voice! I give it 4 out of 5 Barracudas. You can watch it on Peacock.
Woman of the Dead (Netflix)
Another little nugget I found is Woman of the Dead (Totenfrau is the original title in German) on Netflix. If you watch the trailer, skip the first 12 seconds because for some reason they decided to include a major spoiler. Like, seriously? Naturally, the main character Blum, played by Anna Maria Mühe, is trying to solve a murder case while also running a funeral home in a scenic ski resort in Austria. Enough said. I’ve only watched 3 episodes so far, but I can already tell, it’s right up my alley. Too early for a rating, but I’ll keep watching.
Piggy (dir. Carlota Pereda)
A few days ago, I found an absolute gem of a Spanish horror movie that just blew me away: Piggy, written and directed by Carlota Pereda with a powerhouse performance by Laura Galán. It has such a well written plot that keeps you glued to the screen. Sara, a teenage girl in rural Spain is relentlessly bullied by her peers due to her obesity and the fact that her parents happen to run a butcher shop (hence the movie’s cruel title). But the fun twist is Sara witnessing the abduction of her tormentors and at the same time being spared by a mysterious stranger. Will she go get help…or just leave them to their fate? As the town’s people and police find out she knows more then she lets on, the pressure mounts for Sara to make a decision. What makes it so exciting is that as a viewer, at least in my case, you’d support her decision either way. And you just don’t know which path she’ll take until the bloody finale. I give it 5 out of 5 blood sausages. On Hulu.
Coincidentally, another horror movie dealing with a kidnapper and a van, I finally got around to watching The Black Phone and saw what all the buzz is about. It’s a gripping horror movie that keeps you at the edge of your couch and I promise you won’t even be temped to look at your smart phone. You immediately like the main protagonists, a kidnapped boy and his sister who is trying desperately to help the police find him. You’ll find yourself rooting for them with all your might. Some of the best child actor performances I’ve seen in a while. The story is creative and classic at the same time. It’s got a dark and grimy look while still making you a bit nostalgic for the late 70s. I plan on a re-watch and give it 5 out of 5 black balloons. On VOD.
All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix)
A movie that will stay in your brain long after you watched it: All quiet on the Western Front, directed by Edward Berger, starring Felix Kammerer and Albrecht Schuch. It was just nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, at the 95th Academy Awards to be held on March 12. It’s already won 7 awards at the British Academy Film Awards. I remember seeing a TV movie version as a kid in 1979 and it stayed with me back then. After some digging, I found out there was an American movie of the same name in 1930 and it won Best Picture at the 3rd Academy Awards! All three films are based on the 1929 world renowned novel Im Westen nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque, who was a German veteran of World War I.
The movie is about 17-year old Paul and his friends, all young and full of patriotic fervor, ready to fight for their homeland. They voluntarily enlist in the German army and very quickly realize they’re all just cannon fodder for a pointless ground war that grinds out the bodies of a whole generation. There are scenes in the movie that are truly haunting, the cinematography is stunning and the performances gut wrenchingly convincing. Even though this is a ‘drama’ and not considered a horror movie, the fact that this war is part of real human history makes this all the more horrific and relevant to our own present. My rating is 5 out of 5 bayonets. On Netflix.
Ok, I hope you find some of these enticing enough to check out!
Moving on to close out this month’s edition…
I made this!
I spent a lot of time writing, mainly continuing my Diary of an Indoor Cat which you can read along on my Patreon. Also, I am currently planning to produce several sets of art prints and visited a few printers in town to find out pricing and such. One of the first offerings available soon will be 11”x 17” high quality prints of my newest watercolor/ink traditional painting called “Pain”.
“Pain” by Pia Thrasher aka Her Dark Half. Watercolor/ink
It’s a lot to take in with many details. What do you see and how would you interpret it? Do the skeletons float upwards or are they falling down? What does the eye mean to you? The main theme is pain of any kind - and how we deal with it. After all, beauty…I mean, pain, is in the eye of the beholder.
Ok, that’s it for this edition. Have a great weekend - and as always, don’t let the boogeyman get you!
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Thank you from the bottom of my black little heart!
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