Tag Archive | texas gothic

Castle Von Udolpho Crimson Abbey of Blood (Movie Monday, gothic edition)

I have got to start seeing movies in a more timely way, either at the movie theater or when they’re first released at home. It’s not such a thing this week, when something inspires me to talk about its antecedents (⇐this is not the nerdiest the post is going to get), as say, Star Wars, when six weeks after it’s out, I’m like “Let me tell you all my feelings!” and y’all are like, yes, but I heard that in the next movie…

Well, maybe not y’all, because my readers are pretty cool.

So, anyway. Crimson Peak. This movie was like they threw all my favorite things in a cinematic gift bag:

  1. Director Guillermo del Toro
  2. Ghosts
  3. OMG the wardrobe
  4. Spooky $%*#
  5. Tom Hiddleston looking even more Byronic than usual
  6. Creepy house
  7. The most Gothic gothiciness that ever gothicked.

I mean, just look at it:

Crimson-Peak-Banner.jpg

Obviously, I love the gothic novel, since I’ve written two of them. (One is even titled Texas Gothic. (link) ) And I was interested to see what someone with such as visually interesting as del Toro would come up with.

Let’s skip the history of how the Gothic novel came out of the counter-Enlightenment movement of Romanticism.  The gothic story has some very distinct elements:

  • An innocent heroine, very often an orphan or otherwise cut off.
  • An isolated setting that evokes mystery and dread. It’s gloomy, usually decaying. Extra points for secret passages or hidden staircases.
  • Supernatural beings (or what appear to be supernatural goings on)
  • Curse or prophecies. (I actually thing this, along with the idea of ghosts, has to do with the feeling of the past affecting or threatening the present events.)
  • A Byronic hero–brooding, enigmatic, slightly dissipated and untrustworthy air.
  •  Romance, or a romantic sensibility. CrimsonPeak_Hiddleston_Wasikowska.jpg

Most importantly there’s a sense of physical danger, psychological horror, and spiritual peril. 

That leaves a lot to play with, plot-wise. You can tick all the boxes (like the popular gothic romances that Jane Austen sent up in Northanger Abbey), or you can stay in the spirit, evoking the sense of heightened dread and dark tone and atmosphere. Jane Eyre and Frankenstein are both considered gothic novels (among other things).

So, back to Crimson Peak. This movie ticks all the boxes, but in a self-aware Northanger Abbey way. The movie, though, is more of an homage than a parody.

First of all, it calls itself out, right away. Austen and Brontë are mentioned right off. The heroine wants to be an author, and when a publisher dismisses her “ghost story,” she says that there are ghosts in it, but it’s not about ghosts. The ghosts represent the past. (⇑ See what I did there? Fourth bullet point.)  And obviously that’s how this story goes, too.

My interest then became less “what will happen” and more “how is that going to happen, or how will that play out.” Maybe that makes it predictable, but kind of in the same way as a Romantic Comedy or a Western is predictable. Mostly you know you’re going to end up at the opposite ends of the town’s muddy main street, drawing your guns at high noon.

So bookish Edith falls in love with charismatic but mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe, marries him (oh, she’s rich by the way), and he takes her away to his literally falling down mansion where he lives with his crazy-eyed sister, who you know is going to be trouble. And then there are forbidden rooms and locked trunks and strange noises…

And there were these bonuses:

  • Charlie Hunnam!
  • Bobby from Supernatural!
  • Puppy! Even better? Papillon puppy!

4eea6b0b8c3d0a7ccea44ed60e2c1e04.gif

The adorable dog was a smart touch, and I’m not just saying that because I gave the heroine of The Splendor Falls (link) one. Because of the type of story, I wasn’t too worried about Edith, but I spent a good part of that movie terrified something was going to happen to the dog.

The ghosts were also really terrifying, because they were gross. There were a couple of pretty horrific deaths, which also elevated the tension, because I didn’t want to see that grossness. Bleh. Which bears mentioning because the original gothic novels evoked dread more than the gross out, but when they did have blood and such, it took a lot less to be shocking.

So, final verdict? Would you enjoy Crimson Peak? Well, the costuming is gorgeous, the set is amazing, and the acting is really good. There’s enough danger during the story to keep the tension up. Obviously she doesn’t trust the sister, but can she trust Thomas? That was the big question throughout. (And Hiddleston really does well at keeping you guessing. Also, there’s a love scene, so if Hiddleston is your thing…)

You know, it occurs to me—and this is not a spoiler, and it’s not about the plot, just what floats my boat—I think I was less invested because I wanted Edith to stay in Boston with Charlie Hunnam’s character.

But then it wouldn’t have been a gothic story.

So, have any of you seen this?  What’s your favorite gothic novel or movie, or movie of a novel? I could use recommendations.

807450c0-5674-0133-9e1b-0af7184f89fb.jpg

I don’t care if you’re dead. Throw my ball, dammit.

SPIRIT AND DUST DAY

Spirit and Dust has been released from captivity in the US. Already there have been sightings.Spirit and Dust

For the next week (until May 23) if you TWEET a picture of Spirit and Dust in the wild (in a store, in your house, in your shopping bag, on a bus/train/plane) then you will go into a drawing to win a signed copy of the first Goodnight adventure, Texas Gothic.  Here’s the deal, though. You MUST used the hashtag #SpiritandDust to be entered. (Because otherwise I won’t see your post.)

Not on Twitter? There will be other chances to win stuff coming soon.

Goats are always funny.

I used to be one of those people who watched the Superbowl The Big Game just for the ads. While I am capable of enjoying football if I have a horse in that race, mixed-metaphorically speaking, really I’m just there to see what a three million dollar commercial looks like.

But now, with the Internet, I don’t have to sit through all that sports to find out!  I can just wait until Monday morning and watch them all on YouTube. Yay!

So, here’s my favorite, along with an analysis of what makes it great.

1. It features a goat.  The beginning of Texas Gothic features a goat.  It is not a coincidence that both these things are high-lair-ious.

2. Sound effects. And on a related note…

3. Goat Reaction Shot. Made funnier by the fact that goats in real life pretty much don’t react to anything. (Except for fainting goats.)

4. Showing, not telling. This is the kind of less-is-more visual storytelling that relies on the viewer to be smart enough to figure out the….

5. Circular humor.

 

What Superbowl ads were worth their super hype?  Do you have a favorite from past or present years?  (My all time favorite is probably still the Volkswagon/Darth Vader one.)

 

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

(Read all the way to the bottom for a chance to win a copy of Brimstone, which comes out next week!)

Whenever I go too long without Tweeting, my family and friends call or text to make sure I haven’t fallen down the stairs and/or been eaten by my dogs.

This says a lot about how often I tweet. It also says a lot about how I get distracted and forget to tweet. Or, you know, blog.  My Friend Kate (this is an official title, because friendship with me incurs certain privileges and responsibilities) pointed out that I haven’t blogged in two months and since my last post concerned a Potentially Life Threatening Incident, maybe I should put up an entry to say I wasn’t dead yet.

(See how smart my friends are? They have to pass a test. Also, this is the kind of responsibility that falls to them: Remind me of the passage of time. Tell me when people think I’m dead. Dynamite me out of my cave now and then.)

So, here is the recap of my summer since I last posted:

  • Did not die from idiopathic angioedema. (Or as we call it in my house: swelling up for no good reason. And also: take two Benedryl and cancel your plans for the day.)
  • Did not die from bug bite that turned out not to be a bug bite but a staph infection. Did not die from humiliation that a clean freak like me got a staph infection. (Right after being in the hospital. Coincidence?)
  • Had to cancel going to RWA National Conference and presenting the Golden Heart Award. Tragic because I had the most adorable dress. Also tragic because I was supposed to spend the week afterward hanging out with My Friend Kate.
  • Turned in final revision of Spirit and Dust. (Yay!!!!!)
  • Made a playlist and a Pinterest board for Spirit and Dust.
  • Was called for Jury Duty. Was not picked, possibly because I write for teens (case concerned teenagers), or because I have a Twitter and blog, possibly because I’m a smart ass.  (During the selection questions, the defense counsel asked what I did that I had a blog. I answered that I wrote books for teens. Counsel: So you tell lies for a living. Me: I’ll bet people say that about your job, too.)
  • Celebrated the paperback release of Texas Gothic!!!  (If you’re too cheap (like me) to buy it in hard cover, now is your chance.)
  • Did not die from a recurrence of the not-bug-bite.
  • Managed to keep my plants alive all through the summer!  This is a record for me!
  • Received a ginormous box of copies of BRIMSTONE which comes out on September 11th. That’s next week.  OMG THAT’S NEXT WEEK!

Brimstone Cover

 

Tell me in the comments what you did with YOUR summer vacation. It doesn’t even have to be true. I will randomly draw one name from the comments to win a copy of Brimstone for your very own.