I’ve complained in the past that these super-short horror films almost invariably go for the gross-out or the jump scare, and that’s cheap. This lil film does something different and, in its brevity, is almost a haiku-like essay about body image and media. Recommended:
I dunno; I just do. There’s something about it that makes it, in many ways, a more complete and superior horror story than any of the like-length CryptTV videos on YouTube. I think the principal problem is that when a “horror film” goes below ~3mins, the filmmakers almost invariably seem to decide that all they can possibly do in that time is craft a jump scare. As such, the piece is inherently callous (if not outright cruel) to the viewer. It’s bullying art, art that has decided it needs (or should, or is right) to inflict itself on you. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like art that confronts you with unpleasant realities—in fact, I sorta like that art best of all—but I want for us to go to that place together (both as a person making art and a person consuming it).
But then we have something like this—or like the weird, wonderful [Adult Swim] videos I’ve linked in the past. Because these things don’t think of themselves as horror, I feel like they’re more open to creating a more nuanced kind of horror, even in a much more compressed chunk of time.
The horror in this SNL skit is in what it implies about the universe that this family lives in, all the stuff that’s outside the frame (including that escaped almost-pizza beast). And part of what makes that horror is the fact that the world we actually really live in—this world, where I am sitting and tying and you are sitting and reading—is outside that frame too, and thus is sharing space with the horrifying reality that put these characters in that room with that awful thing (brought to you by Pfizer™).
An excellent little horror story; starts ~4min 30secs into this episode of Tales to Terrify: Tales to Terrify 306 Liam Hogan Franz Kafka. This podcast is usually pretty solid, if you like straight-up traditional audiobook-style readings of short horror fiction. Puts me in the mind of Kathe Koja’s The Cipher—but more for art reasons than horror reasons.
…when I go to sum up the story in a Big Picture way, I end up saying the same thing that I said about that election:
I totally hear where folks—angry, aggrieved, not-gonna-take-it-anymore folks—are coming from, because I totally agree with them: They are getting screwed. We just totally disagree on who is screwing them, or what is a sensible way to address that.
This story is about that, in a fundamental way.
I also tell an anecdote about seeing a homeless guy get ejected from a Coney in the mid-1990s, and make mention of Michigan trespassing laws, the sovereign citizen movement, my neighbors from Chennai, and Dave-o’s patented “magpie and junk drawer” speculative-fiction drafting strategy.
The Nov/Dec issue of F&SF is still on newsstands—but only for a few more days. Nab your copy soon!
You’ve no doubt already seen a news item about those Japanese teen-nympho sex monkeys rubbing up on adult male deer:
(Aside: Is anyone else weirded out that they always look at the camera? That doesn’t seem like happenstance. Like… is it… is it part of the kink for them? ’cause that makes me sorta feel… like, I don’t want to be made a part of this without my consent. That’s all I’m saying. I do not consent to this.)
But check this parenthetical toss-off from the first—and least sensationalistic—mainstream article covering this phenomenon: “Scientists Say Japanese Monkeys Are Having ‘Sexual Interactions’ With Deer” (Thanks, NPR!)
Japanese macaques are known to ride deer like humans ride horses, for fun or transportation — behavior the deer seem to tolerate in exchange for grooming and discarded food.
So, just an FYI: Japanese monkeys are in the midst of domesticating deer—you know, for fun, or transportation, or (as we did before them) to increase their travel range and capacity to haul loads. Loads, like, I dunno, the lifeless bodies of the defenseless denizens of Tokyo, after marauding teen-nympho sex monkeys start raiding that once grand metropolis, charging in under cover of night astride their deer consorts, cutting us down, smashing our skulls, and feasting on the goo within!!! IT’S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!!!
Anyway, point being they’re are only two ways this story ends, and neither of them is good. Our future is either this:
2017 has indeed been a rough year.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like this (and the audio version—also free on the Nightmare Magazine website—is really good).
Nominally a horror story, Sam J. Miller’s “Angel, Monster, Man” is, in fact, a really interesting piece of speculative fiction. Gets me thinking about how frequently fiction that speculates on a disenfranchised group getting power gets slotted into “horror”—and once you start thinking that way, all horror starts to look like a liberation fantasy as seen through the establishment’s eyes: Is Night of the Living Dead more about zombies, or more about the terror experienced by rural whites and the patriarchy when confronted with a competent black man? Is The Exorcist about demon possession or the threat of women’s liberation (see also, Carrie)? Is Psycho about a “psycho” or about the terrifying prospect of homosexuals no longer shackled by shame/guilt?
(Yeah, I repost this every year, because I love this gag, and because watching this on TV—and rehashing it with my mom and sisters each year—is one of my fondest childhood holiday memories.)
This is, in my humble, a damn-near perfect gag—which is saying something, because I find single-camera laugh-track situation comedies almost entirely unbearable to watch.
I hope your day is good and sweet. Gobblegobble!
(If you wanna read more of my thoughts on this specific gag and what it can teach writers, you can do so here.)
My latest horror story, the novelete “Whatever Comes After Calcutta,” is in the current issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction—and it’s a helluvan issue: New stories by Kate Wilhelm, Larry Niven, and Marc Laidlaw, and more. If you’re interested in the intersection of witches, lawyers, sovereign citizens, highway travel, and rural Ohio, then this is the novelete for you!
F&SF is stocked at Barnes & Noble and lots of indie stores—or you can get the thing as an ebook. Plenty of options; links below.
Wanna Buy a Copy?
- The Nov/Dec F&SF is now in bookstores throughout the US, including most Barnes & Noble locations.
- To buy it online:
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- Tweet (retweet it!):
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- Nebula Awards: F&SF makes every story they publish available to SFWA members on the password-protected Nebula Forums. If you’re an SFWA member (or know some), feel free to hit them with that link and they can download and read “Whatever Comes After Calcutta” (and tons of other great stories) for free.
I normally would have skipped this (“Vulture—Louis CK Is Done”), because I don’t particularly care for Louis C.K.’s work one way or the other. But do yourself a favor and give this article read; it’s bigger than this moment, and starts to get its arms around something that we finally need to wrestle down:
When disturbing stories about respected artists come from the distant past, we treat them dispassionately, as just one detail among many. Present tense or near-present tense revelations hit us differently because we share the same world as the artist, breathe the same air, feed the same economy. We think of them as contemporaries, even as people we know. This kind of revelation changes the relationship between the artist and the art, in a way that places an unasked-for, unfair burden on the audience. This is what’s happening culture-wide. And it’s not the fault of people who didn’t report it, or audiences who aren’t sophisticated enough to separate the art from the artist. It’s the fault of the artists for being secret creeps or criminals, and the fault of the system for making it possible for them to act this way for years without being punished.
UPDATE:If you’re the sort of person who uses storytelling to help them understand the world, then this horror story might maybe help you understand Louis CK right now: “Hello, Handsome”
I found this image in a note on my computer labelled “The Devil’s Craft Project: Go Superdog, GO!“
I don’t know where I found it. I don’t know why I saved it. I don’t know what I intended to do with it.
But … just … man, right? The past is hella fucked up at every turn.