A Blessed Unrest REVIEW

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Creepy, ambient, and surreal… these are just some of the words that spring to mind when I think of The Parlour Trick’s album, A Blessed Unrest.  The video you see here is from the track, “Half Sick of Shadows.” Rachel Brice performs the mesmerizing dance. Taken from the band’s website:

The Parlour Trick’s first full-length release, A Blessed Unrest, is named after a well-loved quote by Martha Graham. Creatively and thematically, this album is very much a “Madwoman in the Attic” affair. Some of the compositions are dense and meticulously arranged. Others are more sparse, ambient soundscapes. Instrumentation includes piano, violin, harpsichord, theremin, voice, celeste, percussion, bowed glockenspiel, accordion, bells, musical saw, an ancient wheezing pump organ, a nonagenarian typewriter, and cutups from wax cylinders (both freshly recorded or repurposed). Ninety-five percent of the material was recorded in a century-old Craftsman house, including ambient recordings of creaks, groaning floorboards, mysterious knocks and rustles. Both ultra-modern binaural recording techniques and antique devices were used to piece it all together.

Damsel Bruja taught me how to belly dance. We turned my mom’s living room into an impromptu dance studio. I believe we were still in high school (or maybe it was our freshman year of college?) Anyway. A feast for your ears and eyes. My favorite track from this album is “Mare Desidirii.”

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Les Yeux Sans Visage REVIEW

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Les Yeux Sans Visage or “Eyes Without a Face” is a black and white French film directed by Georges Franju. This campy horror movie was first released in Europe in 1960. Actress, Edith Scob, plays the fragile, disfigured daughter of mad-scientist, Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur,) and although Scob’s performance made the film a cult classic, few in the U.S.A have even heard of her.

I believe Les Yeux Sans Visage was eventually dubbed in English, however as a purist, I enjoyed the original French language version with English subtitles. You can watch the entire movie for free online.

After wrecking his car in a terrible collision, Dr. Génessier goes on a homicidal quest to reconstruct his daughter’s face. With the aid of his secretary, Dr. Génessier kidnaps pretty young girls and surgically removes their faces for Christiane, his daughter. Christiane realizes the evil her father commits on her behalf, and she begs to die so no more innocent women will suffer. However Dr. Génessier is obsessed with grafting the perfect face and continues to kidnap and murder young girls.

The title of the movie refers to Christiane’s appearance when she is wearing her mask. Only her eyes are visible through the facial prosthesis.

The surgical scenes are gruesome. I didn’t expect to see much gore in a 1960 film, but the little there was here is effective. Dr. Génessier’s clinical ruthlessness is sharply contrasted by his daughter’s constant weeping and doe-eyed gazes. Christiane isn’t a heroine I usually route for. She’s passive and kinda useless. But boy, does she have an evil streak! She wears the dead girls’ faces without complaining much, and she only seems upset about it after necrosis has set in and her father demands her to take it off. She resents her father for repeatedly stripping her of her face. However Dr. Génessier doesn’t seem to care. Within the first 5 minutes of screen time, he is bitch-slapping his secretary for threatening to go to the police. He’s not a nice character. And yeah, in case you were wondering… the movie is kinda misogynistic.

Women are measured only by their beauty and physical attractiveness–once they lose that it’s OKAY to feel sorry for them when they turn into murderesses and psychos. Like, duh.

Dr. Génessier forbids Christiane from leaving the house or contacting her fiancé, who, due to a lie at the morgue, still believes she is dead. The heartbroken fiancé works at Dr. Génessier’s hospital. After weeks of strange disappearances, he begins to notice Dr. Génessier’s odd behavior around the attractive female patients. Defiant Christiane calls her fiancé on the phone, further antagonizing her father and her fiancé’s suspicions. The girls’ disappearances catch the police’s attention. Then a witness reports the secretary’s choker necklace and a plan is set to trap Dr. Génessier.

After a failed skin grafting experiment, Christiane realizes she is just as much a prisoner as the girls her father butchers in his laboratory. She stabs Dr. Génessier’s secretary and frees all of his victims. The movie ends with Christiane wandering in the forest as the policemen storm the house.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. The ending was a bit…anticlimactic, but I appreciated the suspenseful approach and Scob’s eerie performance. Les Yeux Sans Visage is a pretty film that uses a lot of light and shadow. The eerie carnival music only adds to the film’s disturbing aesthetic. A must-see for fans of classic, gothic horror. 7/10

Submission Call: Martian Migraine Press

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New submission call for an anthology at Martian Migraine Press. 1K-5k words. More information HERE. Taken directly from Martian Migraine’s submission guidelines:

Guest editor Justine Geoffrey (author of the Blackstone Erotica series and Orgy in the Valley of the Lust Larvae), along with S R Jones (author of Soft From All the Blood and the upcoming When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality) are looking for pulpy tales of fertility and fear, sex and sacrifice! Stories that squelch, tales that both titillate and terrify, and all with a focus on that most neglected of the Lovecraftian deities: Shub-Niggurath, Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!

Though this is an open submission call, Geoffrey and Jones will be inviting some of their favourite authors to contribute. This worked out well for our first antho, and we’d like to repeat that experience. Final count for the anthology will be 20 stories, released as an ebook in multiple formats.

Submission period closes DECEMBER 15, 2013. The anthology will be released early February 2014, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Which “Would You Rather” ?

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Remember when you were a teenager and you went to a sleep over and you played a harmless game of “Would You Rather”?  Mostly your options were harmless, but in this film your options are a little more intriguing.

This film starts with Iris, a struggling young woman desperately trying to find money to pay for her brother’s cancer treatments. Her brother’s doctor tells her about Mr. Lambrick’s invitation to a dinner party where other unfortunate souls play a game and the winner takes home enough money to make their dreams come true. She agrees to go thinking it won’t be so bad…until she realizes that she’s not only playing for money, but she’s playing to keep her life.

I was impressed with this movie. It was intense because of the choices that were offered while playing the game. For example, “would you rather beat the person next to you with a whip or stab them in the thigh with an icepick?” Oh and did I mention that if you try to leave, the butler shoots you dead? You can see how scary this situation is.

I thought it was great because in the back of your mind your deciding for yourself which would you rather do. It also brought up some interesting points about the human condition. We all like to think that we’re the hero in any dangerous situation. You even see it in the news where the news anchor says, “Well, if I was there I’d have done something!” The one person in the group that was gun-ho about the game was seen as a villain, but really was she? She wasn’t willing to sacrifice her life for strangers, does that make her a bad person or just smart?

Anyway I totally recommend it! Would you rather watch this awesome movie or just skip it and think of what could have been?

Here’s a trailer!

An Imitable Thirst REVIEW

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I’m sort of in love with indie author, Copper Sloane Levy. His voice is lyrical, lush, and sensuous. His narrative, quiet and atmospheric, his characters, saturated in grime and sumptuous noir…  Oh, yes, I’ve got it pretty bad for the guy. While lazily surfing the net in my hotel room two weeks ago, I discovered Levy’s website and half-heartedly clicked on his short stories, An Imitable Thirst (originally published by Fiddleback.) But I wasn’t expecting to fall in love. Who really does? And just how did I find myself in a hotel room, awaiting Levy’s anonymous appearance? Well, I was invited as a guest author to Necronomicon, an annual Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror convention. Frickin’ Christopher Paolini was there. It was my first convention (both as a professional and visitor) and after enduring more than 3 days of mind-numbing panels and senseless dick measuring from other small-press publishers and authors, I needed a break.

And there it was in the form of a Lovecraftian horror story. And oh, how sweet it was!

Levy writes beautifully. The author dumped a truckload of suspense into a very small package—and yet the execution was flawless. The relentless, slow creeping tension is delightful. There were times I felt constricted by its weight. Levy stays true to old-fashioned Lovecraftian storytelling, never revealing what is madness and what is reality. The narrator’s growing paranoia over his wife creates doubt about what is really going on. Is there an alien fetus growing inside her? Or is the delusional narrator reading too much into what he might’ve seen on his wife’s tablet?

I won’t spoil the ending by saying too much. After all, wading through the narrator’s existential crisis is half the fun here. All I will say is that the ride to the end is intense—there are tentacles, sexualized spousal abuse, (ahem, the wife turns into a possessed MMA fighter from another dimension and knocks the narrator out in one mind-bending scene) and interesting contemplations about love and marriage as a whole. In a weird way, the whole thing works.

I remember my unsettled reaction after I had finished reading “An Imitable Thirst.” Somewhere in my mind, I had also stumbled into a portal to the unknown. I was in a strange hotel, surrounded by strange colleagues, and I suppose it was the “strangeness” of Levy’s tale that I related to. His story was about cosmic horrors and relationships, but I also felt it was a bit about me, too. Right place. Right time. 5/5 stars for this contemporary Lovecraftian gem.

Welcome Damsel Cannibal!

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DamselCannibalSign

Favorite Horror Director: Quentin Tarantino

Favorite Horror Author: Edgar Allan Poe

Fun Fact: Cannot Be Tickled

Current Obsession: Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Rooibos Soy Milk Lattes, Corset Training

Salutations and crimson nightmares, my dear readers. I am Damsel Cannibal, your neighborhood Domina, man-eater, psychic, and professional storyteller. I’ve been published in many horror e-zines, anthologies, and small publishers. And I’ve sailed around the world enough times to know there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love horror and those who don’t.

Horror is such a misunderstood medium. Horror proponents are blamed for facilitating gratuitous violence in the media and for the rise of an aggressive, out-of-control culture. After all, if everyone just stopped buying violent movies and video games our society could prevent mass shootings and serial killings!

Ahem. Sound familiar?

At some point in your life, someone has tried to make you feel guilty for hanging that Freddy Krueger poster over your bed or for buying that Stephen King novel. Friends and family might have interrogated you or asked outright, “Why are you so obsessed with death and unpleasantness? Why can’t you just collect Pokémon cards like your cousin?”

To the uninformed, a love for ironic and macabre things seems strange. But it is false to assume all horror-lovers are obsessed with death and violence. If anything, we are the loudest celebrators of life! We just prefer not to live in an illusion where evil does not exist, where good guys always win, and where bad things never happen to good people.

People are capable of committing unspeakable acts of horror without inspiration from Marilyn Manson, Quentin Tarantino, or Clive Barker. Evil exists in all of us, and I choose to purge these dark impulses through fiction and film.

I write erotic-horror, gothic noir, and dark speculative fiction. My first novel, Tuesday Apocalypse, is an erotic-horror WWII story about nuns and tentacles. I like sex (with guys, girls, and vibrators), macabre aesthetics, and wearing red lipstick and tight corsets. You can visit my website vicycross.com and follow me on twitter @VicyCross, facebook, and my blog.

It was a pleasure to introduce myself and I hope you’ll stick around with the Damsels more often.

Licking

V/H/S/ 2: a Review

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As far as original ideas go, V/H/S 2 is one of the best. I had some issues with V/H/S because the stories were too short and some of them were a little silly. But its sequel made me happy. Let’s start from the beginning…

The movie starts with a private investigator and his girlfriend looking for a missing college student. Their investigation leads them to an abandoned house where they find their target’s laptop with a video recording of himself and a stack of TVs with v/h/s tapes. While the PI looks around the house, the girlfriend decides, “Hey, why not watch some creepy tapes!” There are four tapes throughout the movie. The first is about a guy who can see ghosts with his new eye implant. The second is about a biker who gets attacked by zombies and becomes one. The third is about an Indonesian cult trying to summon Satan. The last is about a group of teens (and their cute doggie) trying to avoid getting abducted by aliens.

I enjoyed this movie as a whole. There were a couple of stories I didn’t like too well but they were still entertaining in their own way. I’ve always loved anthologies and this was a brilliant new take on horror cinema. The first story was pretty cool because the film footage was from the point of view of the main character at all times so you kinda felt like it was happening to you. The second video bounced around from the bicyclist’s helmet camera and a couple of other people’s cameras. The third bounced around from the cult’s security footage and the cameraman. The fourth, which I thought was creative, was film from the back of the teens’ dog! They strapped the camera to him as a prank and the story took off from there.

Out of all of them I like the zombie one the best because it shows different stages of turning into a zombie from the zombie’s point of view. The ghost segment was ok. It wasn’t great but it got you warmed up for the rest of the movie. The cult segment freaked me out a little because the church songs the cult was singing sounded like something the choir at my church sings (yikes!). The alien one I felt bad because the dog was whimpering and I hate seeing animals is any type of pain (not that real animals were hurt in the making of this movie).

The only problem I had with this movie was how did the “footage” manage to make it on a v/h/s tape? Most of the stories were filmed in present day with everyone having ipods, iphones, plasma tvs, and xbox. I don’t know much about technology but this seemed a little weird to be a v/h/s tape when they could’ve just been put on a disk. Oh well, I may be overthinking it but I think about these things when watching movies.

So if you enjoy horror, this is the movie to watch! It more fun to watch when you have a group of friends. Aliens, zombies, demons, and ghosts…oh my!

Here’s a trailer!

“Dracula” is Bloody Sexy

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Wow…Just wow! I swear the whole time I was drooling so hopefully I can keep it together long enough to write this.

NBC’s new take on the Dracula legend begins with the arrival of American Industrialist Alexander Grayson entering London society. But Mr. Grayson is actually Vlad the Impaler himself hoping to bring down The Order of the Dragon, the same Order that murdered his wife and condemned him to live as a vampire. How will he do it? By attacking their wealth and maybe tearing a few heads off along the way. But Dracula also faces a problem when he sees Mine and feels she’s the reincarnation of his wife. We see the same characters such as Mina, Lucy, Jonathan Harker, Professor Van Hellsing and are introduced to some new ones like Lady Jane(a vampire hunter, member of the Order of the Dragon, and Dracula’s fuck buddy).

I found the change in the original characters’ roles interesting. Normally such changes make me angry because they just seem out of the blue, but I found it believable in this Dracula universe. For example, Mina is a med student hoping to become Professor Van Hellsing’s new assistant, Jonathan Harker is a struggling new reporter, and Van Hellsing was the one who woke up Dracula. It seemed a little weird at first but I’m enjoying it.

One of the things that I really appreciated was that Dracula can’t walk in the sunlight. He burns if he tries so I was pleased with that, I also like how animalistic when he preys on people. You can see that he’s a monster and not some brooding punk who thinks being a vegetarian means drinking animal blood. I also liked the original vampire hunting techniques being used such as crucifixes, garlic, stakes to the heart and beheading. Great way to keep the original alive.

Anyway, I’m excited for this series and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Here’s a trailer: