Monday, March 25, 2013

Sisters Red

A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.
I mentioned Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce before for a promotional Figment contest. Now I'm halfway done reading it. Almost every time I read a section, I glance at the cover and wonder at the meaning of the overlapped figures.

After grandma is killed by a wolf (called a Fenris), Scarlett hunts Fenris with her sister Rosie and partner Silas. In the first conversation between Scarlett and her partner Silas, I thought of The Hunger Games when Katniss and Gale are in the woods. However, what if Katniss' sister, Prim, started feeling drawn to Gale like Rosie is to Silas?

One element of fairy tales I love is sisters. We know the evil jealous stepsisters very well. Like Cinderella's stepsisters who would do anything, even cut off their foot, in order to surpass the heroine or keep her down. Well, there are also entwined sisters like Snow White and Rose Red. These sisters of the old fairy tales don't get jealous. Snow White and Rose Red both end up with a happy ending and a man.

"Snow White and Rose Red" by AkaiSoul
Jackson Pearce may be mixing Snow White and Rose Red with Little Red Riding Hood. The result is an action story of love and identity. Here are two of my favorite passages so far that describe the sisterly bond.


When we were little, Scarlett and I were utterly convinced that we'd originally been one person in our mother's belly. We believed that somehow, half of us wanted to be born and half wanted to stay. So our heart had to be broken in two so that Scarlett could be born first, and then I finally braved the outside world a few years later. It made sense, in our pig-tailed heads--it explained why, when we ran through grass or danced or spun in circle long enough, we would lose track of who was who and it started to feel as if there were some organic, elegant link between us, our single heart holding the same tempo and pumping the same blood. 

A fan redrew the book cover.
Scarlett is on the left.

And I have to admit that there is something undeniably fulfilling about hunting with Rosie. Somehow, it makes me feel as if the long list of differences between us doesn't exist. We're dressed the same, we fight the same enemy, we win together ... It's as though for that moment I get to be her, the one who isn't covered in thick scars, and she gets to understand what it is to be me. It's different than hunting with Silas--he and I are partners, not part of the same heart.

So entwined that they have the same heart. However, they cannot share the same heart forever. Along with feelings toward one boy, the girls feel different towards life. Scarlett thinks only of hunting. It calms her, identifies her, and makes her feel right. And she feels that hunting together is what binds her closer to her sister and best friend. Rosie, on the other hand, wonders about having more in her life than hunting. The heart actually has two different beats.

The chapters alternate narration between the two sisters. They never backtrack to what the other felt during the previous chapter. These two aspects add to the suspense. I like the fast pace, the hunt for an advantage, and the relationships. I also like that Silas seems to have an important role other than the love interest.

I have to tell you that this fairy tale retelling is set in modern-day Georgia so if you're imagining a fairy tale woods, then terms like McDonalds will pop out at you. It's magical realism with the magical fantasy elements in our world.

My hand-me-downs may help.
Also I have to mention a factor I dislike. I don't like how much the stalked/murdered victims are described as being ignorant of the consequences of their appearance and merry laughter. Most of them are dressed for a club or girls' night out. It sounds as if they should have worn Harry Potter's hand-me-down baggy gray sweats, have used no beauty supplies including scented soap, and have not vocally expressed their joy.

You can argue that the Fenris attack only when these girls drift from crowds, but a stalked victim is still the victim. The stalker is the cause of the crime. At least the Fenris is shown to attack near a public day event so that victims cannot be faulted for going out at night. Also I appreciate that the Fenris are always described by their deceiving appearance and true nature.

The girls' fashion shouldn't matter as much to the Fenris because they are distinctively said to look at the girls with hunger not desire. They hunger for nourishment and the thrill of chasing and terrifying. Their prey shouldn't be limited to girls only.

The fashion comments come from Scarlett's perspective though. She only thinks in terms of hunting and her body is covered in scars. The book starts with a glimpse of her before she learned of the Fenris.

Once again, I am only halfway through the book and anticipate two big discoveries. I recommend it so far.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Monster & the Victim

This year I started using Pinterest for project references. For parody posters and a story, I have a board for Old Horror Posters. Sometimes I found that the Italian posters focused more on the horror than sex appeal. I wanted to talk about images for Creature From the Black Lagoon (Movies from the 50s had longer titles).

First, here's the trailer: 

One of my screenwriter instructors said that a common theme for old horror movies was the monster trying to be human. One way was to impregnate a female human so that its offspring will be more human. In Creature From the Black Lagoon, fish evolved to a stage where it thinks itself compatible for our women. We are divided as us and them, but they want to be more like us. I'm sure you can think of more movies with those lines of thoughts and outside of monsters.

Back to movie posters

It has claimed her as its mate.
You may be next!
I'm not sure if the image on the right is an official movie poster, but let's start off with it. I like the scene and close-up, but also how much the image evokes is why it is my favorite representation for Creature From the Black Lagoon. :)

For example, the water level reminds us of the dividing line between monster and human and between danger (monster's territory) and safety (our territory). The high water level could show how the monster is spilling onto our side. Another interpretation could be the far distance the monster came from and the distance the hero will have to travel to rescue the victim. The swimmers seem to still search for both monster and victim.

In old horror posters, kidnapped women are either screaming or asleep, the damsel's version of fight or flight. Unconsciousness makes them helpless in the situation.

Another one of my professors commented on how sleeping or dead females in media are portrayed as attractive because they are most docile in those states. We discussed fairy tales and Orphelia in Shakespeare's MacBeth.

Disney's Sleeping Beauty
Most sleeping beauties are in wait for their prince and first kiss. Thus, the horror when they wake to find a monster grabbing at them instead. Some females faint from the shock, keeping them in that helpless state and continue hoping their prince will come.

Although I could not finish reading Spinning Straw into Gold because of the poor flow and structure, I was impressed with Joan Gould's discussion of sleep as an emotional defense of distance. These women try to escape internally (mind and emotions) while leaving their external (body) in the threat, but they do so in wait for when their internal is ready for the situation. Gould gave a real life testimony as an example.

Now for the Faceless

It wants to save her from
the man and his knife!
The image on the right is the Italian poster for Creature From the Black Lagoon. We cannot see the monster's face, but we see the fear on both human figures. The faceless monster matches the fear of the unknown referenced in the trailer.

However, the man looks threatening too by grabbing the woman with a knife in the same hand. He is no real threat so the purpose is to portray him as the non-princely mate with sex appeal and protection.

The woman is kept awake to face her threats, but we feel a safe distance by having the monster's focus entirely away from us. Still we feel so closely behind that it may hear our footstep. We wait in suspense for when we do come face to face with the threat. 

After the last two posters, I was disappointed when I saw the following image down below. :( I think it is a book cover.

It has brought home the meat.

This time we cannot see the woman's face. When a figure's face is cut off, covered up, or exaggerated like in propaganda, the figure has been dehumanized. We cannot see the woman's identity and emotions, but we have a clear shot of her sexy lower body. She has been reduced to flesh. The viewers see her as the monster does.

There is not much else for our focus. The rest of the image shows the danger of the monster already having her in its hidden lair. The woman in this image is closer to becoming a victim of more than kidnapping. Her potential saviors and her territory are nowhere in sight. Sadly, missing a face makes it harder for us to connect with her. We feel we don't know her. We don't even know if she is unconscious or dead.

Don't you feel more sorry for the screaming face on the DVD cover below?

It has stolen one of our own!
In each image, the woman looks sexy. Sexy enough to even make the monster attractive for finding her desirable. Her reaction on the right shows best that his behavior is unwanted and dangerous. Despite how much he has evolved, his behavior has not progressed enough to be her equal.

I don't always like the role of women in old horror movies, but I find the themes and ad designs interesting. Sometimes it can all be ridiculous enough to laugh. From what I discussed in this blog, women seem to be the measure of danger, humanity, and good breeding. The monster can be found in our species as well.