Monthly Haiku Corner – December

Our theme this month will be dark and spooky Christmas.

bloody santa hat
a moment of weakness
vampire

Creeped Out Christmas Art/Photo Challenge 2020

So, here’s the deal, Krampus is coming. That’s that. 2020 is not done with us. The face on Grandma’s vintage snowman, probably caved in. Those holiday lights you put away last year with meticulous care, suddenly, a big knot. The money you saved to give the kids a nice Christmas, probably going to fix your car or pay the rent or buy a new refrigerator, whatever, it’s gone! To top it all off, Covid-19 just ruined all our holidays plans! Such is pandemic life!
Burnt cookies, broken baubles, no problem. Don’t get mean, get creative! Join us on Instagram this December for the Creeped Out Christmas Art/Photo Challenge 2020! We like it dark and scary! #CreepedOutChristmas

Join in the fun any time, any day, but, if you post something all 25 days, you’ll be entered into a random drawing** to win a prize!!!

**Contestants must post an authentic, original art piece or photo each day from December 1-25, on Instagram, using #CreepedOutChristmas AND be a current follower of @halloweenhaiku9 be to be entered into the drawing. Contest ends midnight, pacific time, December 25, 2020. Winner will be chosen and announced here and on social media on December 26th. Please see Contest Rules for more details.

Prize – TBD, valued up to $20.

Wicked Art Wednesdays: Art History’s Scariest Paintings

Art History is filled with a number of terrifying paintings. Some are bibilical stories and greek or roman myths, others are disturbing images meant to represent abstract ideals, and some are pretty straight-forward. The things we fear, have always been feared, and all human beings share in those feelings. Here’s my picks for the top ten scariest art paintings in history.

10.

Odilon Redon, “The Smiling Spider,” 1887

Why is this spider smiling? It’s ultra creepy. Spiders are creepy enough on their own without a smile. Now, I’m just suspicious. What did this spider do?

9.

John Singleton Copley,”Watson and the Shark,” 1778 

It might just be me but this is hella scary. That person in the water is toast and that shark is about as big as the boat! We can easily imagine it overturning and all-you-can-eat buffet happening in the next scene. It’s almost comforting knowing our forefathers held similar fears of the great white sharks, like, our reasoning is kinda justified. We might have bigger boats and better guns, but sharks have always been incredible evolutionary killing machines, who haven’t really changed much over the years. Getting caught in shark infested waters is one of the scariest things on earth.

8.

Zdzislaw Beksinski, “Untitled,” 1984

This is one of those paintings that is both beautiful and scary. Til death to they part. We see the lovers embraced, dying together, decaying together. This is true love. It’s frightening to realize how intertwined death and love are. Most of Beksinski’s art seems to be bizzare tributes to love, death destruction or war. When you learn of Beksinski’s own tragic life, paintings like this become even more bittersweet.

7.

Hieronymus Bosch, “The Garden of Earthly Delights, Third Panel” c. 1500-1505 

Not as scary as his Hell paintings, but don’t we expect Hell to be scary? This is the Garden of Earthly Delights, and this is creepy AF! What’s up with all the Keebler elves sewing together human parts? Is that a witch, overseeing the work, casting a spell or a representative of the mind? Are they making a woman? I have so many questions, so many, and no one has answers.

6.

Titian, “Flaying of Marsyas,” c. 1570-1576

The satyr Marsyas supposedly lost a musical contest with the god Apollo and is now being skinned alive while a host of Greek figures help out or look on. Brings new meaning to the term ‘winner take all.’ There’s a whole lot of symbolism and deeper meaning going on here and you’re all gonna have to Google that for yourselves. At face value, this is one of the most savage paintings in the world.

5.

Theodore Gericault, Severed Heads, Preparatory Paintings for the “Raft of the Medusa” 1819

These next two paintings are a bit of twofer. See below.

4.

Theodore Gericault, Preparatory Paintings for the “Raft of the Medusa” 1819

Taken out of the context, these are two of a half dozen creepy and gory preparatory paintings. Basically, these bizarre and scary pieces were practice for an even bigger masterpiece, the “Raft of the Medusa,” which is a pretty brutal painting, filled with death and chaos, depicting the scandalous aftermath of the wreck of the Frigate Meduse in 1816. Survivors were set adrift for 13 days, and endured dehydration, starvation and cannibalism. Believe it or not, this fascinating true story of events totally eclipse this incredible eerie painting and all its the gory preparatory work.

3.

Peter Paul Rubens, “Saturn Devouring His Son,” 1636

According to Greek Myth, the Oracles foretold that a child of Titan Cronus (Romanized to Saturn) would some day overthrow the ruler, just as he had supplanted his own father. So, the Father of the Year ate his first two children, forcing wife Ops to hide the third Jupiter, where he was successfully whisked away and hidden on the isle of Crete, only to return years later to fulfill the prophecy. Man, hate to have Thanksgiving at their house.

2.

Francisco Goya, “Saturn Devouring His Son,” c. 1819-1823

This is is Goya’s version of the same story, with a gorier depiction, the child’s head and arm have already been devoured. Art critics have explained that the painting may have a deeper personal meaning to Goya, as only one of his six children survived. It could serve as a religious allegory to the wrath of God or represent the political situation of Spain at the time, a frequently visited subject by Goya.

1.

Henry Fuseli, “The Nightmare,” 1781

Both scary and erotic, the painting depicts a woman in a dreamlike state with demonic entity, possibly an incubus, sitting on her chest and a horse looking on in the background. This frightful painting has been a huge success since its exhibition and copied and parodied numerous times throughout the years, including Thomas Burke’s equally famous engraving The Nightmare. In fact, it was so popular at the time, Fuseli even repainted different versions of it. Oddly enough, he never really explained what it was about! Naturally, interpretations vary, but some critics have offered suggestions that the painting represents repressed sexuality, general lust and women’s desire, political allegories, religious allegories, devil worship and witchcraft, real nighmares, sleep deprivation and sleep paralysis. I mean, the list goes on as testament to its versatility.

This is the image I think of when someone mentions sleep disorders, particularly sleep paralysis. I, myself, have had a few instances of waking up before the rest of my body does and having the feeling of a being sitting on my chest. It’s the most terrifying memory I have. There’s zero comfort in knowing how common an occurrence this is between people either.

Like I’ve said before, our fears are the same and have been the same throughout the ages. What famous paintings scare you?

Five Sleeper Hits on Streaming

Summer is always a rough season. Summer combined with the Corona virus lockdown is almost unbearable, but being stuck inside doesn’t have to be torture. I found these five low budget gems, definitely better than expected, that should satisfy your horror movie cravings.

We Summon the Darkness (2019)
Service: Netflix

“There’s a lotta evil out there.”

For anyone’s who has ever worn a leather vest over a jean jacket, sported big feathered hair, or been bullied for listening to Ozzy or Slayer, all over the misguided belief that heavy metal is Satan’s music for devil worshippers, this one’s for you. Set in the 80s, this low-key thriller about three victims falling prey to a murderous cult with diabolical intentions isn’t particularly scary or gory, but it definitely harkens back to those old glossy B slashers that the studios used to churn out. The movie stars a gaggle of Hollywood’s brightest teen stars, led by Alexandra Daddario, and Johnny Knoxville, surprisingly right at home, playing a smarmy televangelist. The energy is high and acting is decent, honestly though, absolutely nothing else stands out here. Both the plot and the twists are totally predictable, it’s a little hard to tell if that’s by design or not. If I was one of the filmmakers, I’d get all meta and say, ‘oh yeah, it was supposed to be that way.’ People really enjoy homages, and stickin two giant middle fingers up to the real evil in the world, those big greedy corporate churches, for lying to the world about great music, using the lord’s name in vain, and besmirching religion. That, plus a bitchin’ soundtrack, and heavy metal couture, so 80s, you can almost smell the AquaNet, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night.

Spring (2014)
Service: Shudder

“I gotta make sure you’re the kinda crazy I can deal with.”

There aren’t too many well-made horror romances out there in the world, but this movie is in top ten. Spring, the story of grieving young man who finds love with a mysterious woman, while on a vacation in Italy, is just as refreshing as its name sounds. It’s simply a beautiful movie, everything from the strange Lovecraftian story to the incredible cinematography, and the dark, creepy suspense to the blossoming love between two strangers. What makes the film work, besides getting lost in charming scenery of Southern Italy, is the chemistry between the leads Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker, it’s sweet, like saccharine, yet, definitely filled with a touch of danger and mystique. Their romance moves a little fast and even seems unrealistic, but if you factor in love at first sight (hey, it can happen), and remember the vulnerability of a lonely, grieving, inexperienced young man, it becomes real easy to understand why he would be attracted to an alluring, beautiful, mystical 2000 year old creature. It’s almost sad to watch her toy with him so effortlessly, then again, the boy is as impulsive as he is lost. A violent episode in the film’s beginning shows he’s far from a perfect hero and they might just be morally matched. As for the girl and her “condition”, well, you’ll just have to go watch the movie to see if her intentions are pure or not.

Ghost Stories (2017)
Service: Hulu

“Things are not always as they seem.”

This movie about a skeptical professor and paranormal debunker is a cleverly disguised anthology from IFC Midnight, turns out to be one of the scariest movies that I’ve seen in a long time. Triple threat writer-director Andy Nyman stars as the wry skeptic investigating the disappearance of his hero mentor. Once he finds him, he is then tasked with looking into the old man’s three most disturbing cases, which brings the professor on a terrifying journey of self-discovery. Nyman, along with co-creator Jeremy Dyson based their script off their hit theater show of the same name. The writing, cinematography and performances here are all phenomenal, in particular, Martin Freeman as a haunted banker, and in a mystery role, that I won’t give away. Ghost Stories makes good work of jump scares and sports some deep Hammer vibes, paying homage to numerous horror films, so it’s not inventing the wheel or anything, just making really good use of the tools from the tool box. Sometimes, that’s all a proper horror film needs.

One Cut of the Dead (2017)
Service: Shudder (Japanese subtitles)

“One take, no cuts. With one camera from start to finish.”

Shin’ichiro Ueda’s brilliant feature debut is a bit of movie inception. The movie starts off as a seriously cheesy low-budget zombie movie about an indie film crew filming a zombie movie in an abandoned warehouse, when suddenly, they’re attacked by real zombies, much to the director’s delight. If you’re still watching by the time the credits roll about 37 minutes in, yes, you read that right, boy, are you in for a treat! As you’re sitting there wondering ‘what the hell was that?’ a new movie starts. Well, sort of, it’s a flashback, and all good things to those who wait. One Cut of the Dead isn’t really a cheesy low-budget zombie film, it’s a hilarious meta-satirical comedy about filmmaking, including the backstage antics of producing live television. There are a ton of references to zombie movies and lots of gore and screaming, of course, but, the real prize here is the storytelling. One Cut features a strong message about the collaborative filmmaking process, and the resourcefulness, courage and heart it takes to be in the entertainment business. I guarantee, by the third act, you’ll forget all about those 37 minutes wasted in the beginning and cheer on the film crew’s spirited efforts to make their zombie movie.

Blood Quantum (2019)
Service: Shudder

“Every one of those motherf****** is a time bomb.”

Blood Quantum is essentially zombies on a modern-day reservation. You get all the blood-thirsty ravaging undead and pensive natives struggling to survive day-to-day, while reconciling their anger, resentment, and fears. Writer-director Jeff Barnaby channels his inner Romero and delivers biting social commentary on real life native troubles by drawing parallels to surviving in the zombie apocalypse, thus, immediately making it a better than average zombie story. Life on the reservation hasn’t improved, but it hasn’t necessarily deteriorated either. The white man is still trying to kill us. Same shit, different millennia. A little closer to the heart, there’s nice family drama subplot involving a wayward son named Lysol, wonderfully played by Kiowa Gordon. Lysol is one complex dude. He’s angry and alluring, righteous, and terrifying, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he represents a lot of young native men across the North America. Sadly, in a film filled with quirky interesting characters, Lysol is one of the few fleshed out characters. Dropped plot points involving back stories is just one of tiny problems that all add up over time, keeping the film from being truly great. I read director Barnaby wore several post production hats to ensure he told the story he wanted to tell, but I can’t help but wonder what the film could have been, if only it had a bigger budget and better editing. Despite its obvious flaws, this is a solid horror movie with nice cinematography, comical one-liners, ranging from cheesy to endearing, and plenty of zombie action and bloody carnage.

June Gloom Picture Challenge

“Some said the thunder called the lurking fear out of its habitation, while others said the thunder was its voice.” – H.P. Lovecraft

In this volatile world filled with ominous creatures and unknown dangers, the fine line between madness and reason evaporates with the arrival of the lurking fear.
Curious humans stumble upon Mother Nature’s guardians, as they watch over the gates of the abyss, only to become prey to Summer’s haunting season.

Head on over to Instagram and post your favorite pics/photos representing June Gloom. Both art pics and photos are allowed this time around. Don’t forget to credit the artists when you can.

Join in any day and don’t forget to tag your pics using #junegloompicchallenge

June Gloom Pic Challenge

Spooky Spring Photo Challenge

Celebrating May Day with a 25-day photo challenge. Head on over to Instagram and post your favorite photos representing Spooky Spring. Join in any day!

Don’t forget to tag your pics using #spookyspringphotochallenge

HH Spooky Spring Photo Challenge Redux