Monday, April 8, 2019

Riverdale Thoughts

I enjoyed the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina so much that I decided to watch Riverdale, also part of Archie Horror Comics world. Let's just say Riverdale is Twin Peaks, but less odd, mixed with the scandal of Peyton Place, and blended with Buffy high school drama to make a tasty cocktail.

The first season starts off the same as Twin Peaks, a student is killed at the river. It's a murder mystery while the audience is introduced to all the players. The main characters are Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Archie, and their parents. The adults on the show are well-known faces. Madchen Amick, who plays Betty's mom was Shelly Johnson a waitress at the Double R Diner on Twin Peaks. The Double R is where "pies go to die". She even serves cherry pie to Betty and Archie on Riverdale, it's an obvious nod to her Twin Peaks days.

With Josie and the Pussycats prominently featured in season one I was hoping for good music, but the music is horrible, distracting even. The actresses can sing, but the songs are mostly remakes with droning sad female vocal fry, some covers sound as depressing as country music. Sorry Josie!

Second season is focused on finding out, "Who is the Black Hood killer?" He's going around town murdering people that he feels deserve it, and with all the awful people on the show he's a busy serial killer.

It's fun because there's horror movie references sprinkled throughout, mostly mentioned by Jughead. There's The Shining rug print pillows on the bed at the lodge they are staying in, Jughead mentions Dracula on more than one occasion, Cheryl's Nana Rose is poisoned with tannis root (which by the way is not a real root, it was made up by Ira Levin for the book Rosemary's Baby.), and they perform Carrie: The Musical in their high school. I feel like the only successful musical episode was the Buffy episode Once More with Feeling. It moved the plot along and by the end it was explained why they were singing. The Riverdale episode seems to have been made just to showcase the actors singing abilities, not necessarily driving the story line. It all takes place on the high school stage like a real musical. I was disappointed and found it to be forced and uncomfortable.

In conclusion, I hate the music on the show, but I'm enjoying the soap opera story. A few ending thoughts...Jughead has about 10 different jean jackets. How does he afford all of them if he's living at the drive-in or in a trailer. They can be expensive! FP (Jughead's dad), played by Skeet Ulrich gives the best advice on the show. I love him and not just because he was in Scream and The Craft. Also by the end of season two I love Cheryl. Her spider pins, cherry sweaters, and red lipstick speak to my gothabilly heart.

Haven't watched season three yet, I'm waiting for it to be available on Netflix, in the meantime season two of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was just added and I'll be checking that out while I wait

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Movie: Us (2019)

There is so much hype surrounding Us after Jordan Peele's first movie Get Out that I had to see it. When I originally reviewed Get Out, the story line had a lot to unpack. I only scraped the surface so I wouldn't give anything away. In Us there's a ton of hints along the way leading you to the finale. Again this isn't "horror" in the traditional sense, but more the horror that comes along with human nature. I'm going to try to break down the clues a little better in this blog. I'm sure there's more, but this was my takeaway.


In the very beginning of the movie there's an enigmatic reference to all the abandoned underground subways, tunnels, and mines. Clue 1.

We then see the protagonist Adelaide as a little girl watching a commercial for Hands Across America in 1986. This is a real thing that happened for those that don't know. It was supposed to show unity and awareness of the hunger crisis and homelessness taking over America. What it did was brought together people, including celebrities, that donated to the cause. They ended up contributing less than half of what was collected to those living in poverty. BUT my eye went straight to the VHS tapes on the left of the TV. There's three and the one that stood out was C.H.U.D., because you can actually read the title. It's an 80s cult classic AND C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Clue 2.

Much of the story is told in flashbacks. Young Adelaide and her parents are at Santa Cruz boardwalk by the beach and they mention a movie that is being filmed there. (It's The Lost Boys , YES! Wonderful shoutout.) After her irresponsible dad wins her a Thriller T shirt at a game, she wanders off into a hall of mirrors. The power goes out and you see her inside alone being confronted with a girl that looks just like her, that's NOT a reflection.

There's religious overtones referencing Jeremiah 11:11 or "Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not harken to them."

Flash forward to her being a mom in the Wilson family with two kids and a husband. Her husband suggests going to the Santa Cruz beach where they can meet their friends ~ The Tylers ~ for a vacation. She doesn't want to go because of what happened there. This part is filmed great because we go inside her head where she stops listening. She's disconnected from her family. They do end up going and on the way her daughter mentions the government controlling people. No one responds to the comment, they ignore it. (It's like living with my family.) Clue 3.

The Wilsons meet their well-off friends on the beach. Kitty, the mom had plastic surgery, the dad brags about his boat. The have a giant beach house.

Adelaide is incredibly observant taking in all the people on the beach surrounding her, again we get to see what she sees. She's alone in a beach full of people. There's coincidences like a frisbee landing right on the spot of a polka dot blanket, it's red, white, and blue with stars representing America?, her friends twin daughters saying the same thing at the same time, 11:11 is the score on TV and on the clock, odd nuances that are building the story. At one point her friend, Kitty asks if she's ok, and she responds with "Sometimes I find it hard to talk". Clue 4.

Once back at their modest beach house The Wilsons get ready for bed and the home invasion begins. There's a doppelganger family that breaks in, all wearing one tan finger less glove, a red jumpsuit, and each carrying sharp gold scissors. (The one glove is another reference to Michael Jackson, possibly the red outfit from the Thriller video too.) The matriarch of the family "Red" speaks to them in a scary distorted voice, explaining that the Tethered live underground as part of a failed government experiment. She's the only one that speaks. Clue 5. The Tethered look like them and reenact the same things they do above, but unlike the top dwellers their only food is raw rabbit, and they are given sharp things to play with instead of toys. (I'm guessing the scissors.) She even states that her son was "born into fire" and she had to cut him out of her belly herself. This establishes the underground family as abandoned and feral. They came above to be "untethered".

The Wilsons fight off the Tethered family, not without a bunch of symbolism to being connected like scissors, i.e. two pieces of the same part, handcuffs, her son's werewolf mask that he wears almost the whole movie gives a sense of duality, even the life preserver attached to the boat.

They escape to The Tylers house and find out they are not the only family being targeted by the Tethered. The Tylers have been killed while Good Vibrations from The Beach Boys plays in the background. Lots of irony in this movie. It reminded me of how Singing in the Rain is used in A Clockwork Orange. When you see the dead twins sprawled on the floor, it's the exact shot from The Shining with the Grady twins on the floor and blood splatter on the walls. It just proves, more money might buy you more choice in boats and houses, but it can't save you and Peele has been influenced by Stanley Kubrick.

(Scene from The Shining)

They kill the Tylers doubles. Adelaide takes on one of the girls and smashes her, not before her son sees the savage rage in her eyes. The Wilsons are trying to figure out what is going on, flick on the TV and find out everyone is getting killed by their look alike counterpart. It's going on all over the country. Once the above dwellers are dead the Tethered join hands much like the Hands Across America commercial. Clue 6. In their red jumpsuits it's a strong visual. Now we know the Tethered has the upper hand because they had a plan all along. It's a massacre along the sunny beach and boardwalk. Another sharp disturbing contrast.

Red takes Adelaide's son and Adelaide goes after her, down to the beach and in the mirrored house, down the rabbit hole, ala Alice in Wonderland. The underground is cavernous just like the mirror house, but somehow she knows exactly where she's going. Clue 7.

Red and Adelaide fight to the death. Red explains that they learned how to "copy the body not the souls of people" and that "our time is now". She has created a mob mentality among the Tethered that's very scary. I'm not going to tell you what happens, but all four members of the Wilson family survive and the bunnies are let loose. (Yay! Poor bunnies.)

I really enjoyed this movie. The Wilson's are likable and realistic. There's social commentary about poverty and how what you are born into does effect your life to an extent. The top dwellers take things for granted compared to the Tethered, and the Tylers have a lot compared to the Wilsons. Everyone stop comparing yourself, we truly are our own worst enemy!

It makes you think. I do have a couple of questions regarding the movie. Are the Tethered breaking free from the underground and controlling the coincidences above? Does Adelaide's son know what happened all those years ago? Who fed the bunnies underground and cleaned up their poop?

Now my real question is Get Out in the same world as Us? Was the father from Get Out part of the government that was experimenting on people? Curious it all takes place underground. Thank you Jordan Peele for original ideas and making me ask questions! I give this movie five giant golden sharp scissors out of five.

Here's the trailer...

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Buckland Museum & Cleveland

Since Andrew ~ my hubs ~ and I couldn't take our vacation last year because Ginger got sick, we took the trip we had planned last year this past weekend. It's a was three and a half hour road trip to Cleveland, Ohio. Again the joys of living in Buffalo, NY is that you are close by to some major cities!

We made sure to stop at the Buckland Witchcraft and Magick Museum. I had heard about it when researching Salem a few years back and I knew it was in Ohio. It has since moved from it's original tiny location to a large gallery room with a gift shop attached. We visited about three days after the grand re-opening. So I imagine it's all a work in progress and they are getting settled in like anything else. (I totally understand because I own Cats Like Us and it's changed a lot over ten years.)

You enter through the gift shop, which I highly recommend exploring. They have new and vintage books on the occult, spiritualism, and everything in between along with inexpensive crystals, tarot cards, spell bags, posters, and jewelry.

Admission to the museum is only $7 for 1 adult and includes an introduction from the attendant ~ that in our case ~ just happened to be Steve Intermill the Director of the Museum! Otherwise it is self-guided tour and divided into sections including herbalism, divination, 1960s pop culture and more. There's artifacts, tools, ephemera, and art from leading practitioners in the pagan community. Also, if you have questions ask! There's so much history and information it's hard to pack it into one room.

A little background; Raymond Buckland was the person that brought the Wicca religion to the US. He traveled and collected pieces from the religion which makes up beginnings of The Buckland Museum and there's still more being discovered and added. They have a rotating exhibition space within the larger room that included Buckland's personal tarot cards created by him, so the exhibits stay fresh.

He inspired the robe worn in the Love Witch.

They even have a Lil Bub jar! I spoke with the director about meeting Lil Bub 
and when he met her he almost got to babysit her! (Second pic taken from The Buckland Museum)

Overall, the museum is small and charming, it's exactly what I expected. Perfect for anyone like me interested in witches, history, and museums.

Other places of interest we stopped on our little jaunt:

Southern Tier Brewing Cleveland we like flavored beers and fresh cut fries for the win!

Since we are tikiphiles we stayed at the Tiki Air BnB aka Davide's Tropical Paradise, it's definitely kitsch-tastic. Not only is there a stocked tiki bar kitchen, the bedroom is filled with country western singers, there's an "edelwiess" room, and a prayer closet. You kind of just have to see it. I was creeped out by the prayer closet. Reminds me a little too much of Carrie.

Being crazy tiki people we recommend stopping at Porco and Tiki Underground.

For vintage shopping we went to Suite Lorain and Flower Child. Be warned Suite Lorain is JAM PACKED, if you are claustrophobic you may get a little nervous in here. Be sure to set aside time to dig through everything. Flower Child is a little more organized and open, but it does have two floors of great vintage so plan time to look at everything.

Finally, we stopped at The Christmas Story House, or the house that TBS built. Lol. It's the actual house where the movie was filmed, but it's more than that. It's a whole complex. There's four buildings, the house, the Bumpus House that's a bed and breakfast next door, the Museum with photos and props from the movie, and the Gift Shop.

 The Christmas Story House was interactive fun.

So until next time, thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The French Cat Massacre! (True Life Horror)

I stumbled across a mention of the "great French cat massacre" in my many cat readings, and needed to know more. I found a book titled The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History by Robert Darnton at the library that references this disturbing story. Talk about horror!

The original story that Darnton references was written by Nicholas Contat in the 1760s. He wrote about being a printer's apprentice in the 1730s France.

***It's disturbing, so I'm issuing a trigger warning now.***

Contat wrote about how the apprentices were treated horribly and suffered at the hands of their master and his wife~ who never worked. The apprentices were relegated to sleeping on a dirty floor, unable to sleep, and ate scraps left over from the 25 beloved cats that roamed the building. The cats were cared for by the wife and treated with high regard. Of course, the apprentices resented the cats. They would get in the way of work and keep them up yowling at all hours. 

The apprentices had a plan. To yowl above their master's chamber and blame the noise on the cats. After a few days of interrupted sleep, the master told the apprentices to get rid of the cats.

Instead of luring the cats and releasing them to a nearby city, they beat the cats to near death and held a mock "trial" in which the cats were convicted of witchcraft and hung. Yes, you heard that right. There was indeed a massacre, and all the cats were bludgeoned and hung up for the wife to see. Naturally, she got very upset at seeing her furbabies suffering ~ to the amusement of the apprentices. (What kind of monsters are these people? I don't care how much you hate your boss, what did the cats do to you?!) Supposedly, the apprentices talked about how funny it was for years to come. 

They slaughtered the cats to distress their masters as a form of protest. Instead of working, they were killing cats. Instead of killing their masters, they were killing their cats. The take away from this is the poor hated the bourgeoisie and our sense of humor is very different than it was back then.

Here's a plate from the book. I think they are shoving a rod up the butt of a dog. 
WTF is wrong with these people?

Let's put things in a little more context. It was common to torture cats and considered a popular form of amusement in Europe, especially around this time of year. During Mardi Gras in Burgandy, they held charivaris, or a folk custom that incorporates a noisy mock serenade with a group of people through the streets, and the kids would pass around a cat, and rip out it's fur to make it howl. It was called faire le chat. The Germans did a similar thing and called it Katzenmusik aka "cat music".

During the summer solstice bonfires were held in Paris. Crowds would throw magical objects into them to avoid disaster and obtain good fortune for the coming year. (Think Wicker Man). One of the objects was cats. They were tied up in bags, hanging from ropes, or burned at the stake. Parisians incinerated cats by the sackful because cats are symbolic in folklore, they suggest witchcraft. I've written about the connection several times, and it never stops making me think cats are magical but not in a negative way. You can read more about witchcraft and cats in my other blogs...

Under a Cat's Spell: Cats as Familiars

The Anti-Cat Pope

Overabundance of Black Cats