Monster Monday: Mama (2013) co-written and directed by Andrés Muschietti

This week, Monster Monday contains multiple spoilers for the movie Mama, so beware. It’s now on Netflix UK, so if you have it, we do recommend you watch it! Also, we include several GIFs, which work well for illustrative purposes but – we are the first to admit, GIFs are fucking annoying after a few seconds of being on screen – so apologies in advance for those….or perhaps enjoy (they are frickin’ creepy).

Mama is the titular monster of this creepy 2013 horror movie, produced by massive monster fan, Guillermo Del Toro. As the poster suggests, Mama concerns a spooky tall woman and a little girl (though there are actually two girls) and moths. Lots of moths…

"Mama 2012 poster" by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mama_2012_poster.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mama_2012_poster.jpg

“Mama 2012 poster” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mama_2012_poster.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mama_2012_poster.jpg

It all begins when a pair of little girls are taken into the woods by their deranged father, who was driven mad by losses in the recent stock market crash. The brute has already killed his wife and also wants to take his two girls to the grave with him – he’s a selfish shitheel who’s out of his mind and an utter monster (played by Jaime Lannister, who does a sterling job, btw). Crashing his car in the snow, he drags his daughters to an abandoned cabin in the woods, and prepares to shoot them and then himself. Luckily for the two girls, a strange entity in the house brutally removes their despairing daddy and looks after them, somehow feeding them cherries in the depths of winter. Several years later, in one of the creepiest scenes, a search party finds the two little girls and takes them back to civilisation. They’re terrifyingly feral but mostly unharmed. Think Newt in Aliens if she’d been raised by an alien in the mud. OK, bad example. Anyway, when their father’s identical twin brother (Jaime Lannister again!) and his rock goddess girlfriend (the kickass Jessica Chastain) take them in, it seems that the spooky entity who saved them is not quite ready to let her adopted children go…

Mama is a very solid fairytale. In fact, putting it under the fairytale category means the film gets away with several logic skips and very convenient dreams that reveal important plot points, that sort of thing. You see, among her talents, Mama has the convenient plot advancing power of uploading her nightmarish death into your dreams. This handily fills in the protagonists with the entity’s tragic back story. As everyone learns, Mama used to be a woman with a slightly odd appearance, who, back in the 1800s, was distraught that nuns were going to take her baby away. Chased by a mob after stabbing a nun (hate it when that happens…), Mama fell off a cliff, dying along with her baby and, well, it’s a major tragedy.

Mama Edith Brennan, Guillermo del Toro, scary women

The human Edith Brennan – before she became Mama

Of course she’s far more powerful now she’s dead. Still searching for release, Mama can suck out your life force, or possess you with her power, or sneak around as a sentient pile of goopey hair before lunging at you really fucking fast. Yikes. Basically, she can do all the standard stuff that apparently HAS to happen in ghost movies with a modern CGI budget, especially since they have it leftover from all those Japanese Horror remakes fourteen years ago. Mama is one of the better examples of CGI monsters, though. Which is why there are so many gifs in this entry. Sorry for that again, but the animation really shows Mama at her best.

Mama!!

Mama!!

Despite her terrifying undead appearance, and jealous rages, Mama really is loved by the two little girls she protected. But her unwillingness to let them go, and her habit of occasionally ‘playing rough’ make her more like a dangerous wild animal – like female cats when they’re pregnant being all loved-up on baby hormones, and which is why they don’t eat those mice they take in. For a while anyway. Mama is very effective when looming in a closet, the energy of her animalistic fury makes Mama into a terrifying creation when she finally bursts from the shadows. You do NOT want this coming down the landing after you.

Like this. Eeeeeeeeeeee

Like this. Eeeeeeeeeeee

Think its the spiderlike hands and the manic, uneven eyes…and it gets worse.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Or down the corridor either

In the scene most similar to the original. Scream!

In the scene most similar to the original. Scream!

And finally, this is what spending five years with her does to those two sweet little girls, so…

The movement just before this is CREEEEEPY as well. Something about spiderlike humanoid movement. Shudder. But two headed twins. Yes... it's truly primal.

The movement just before this is moment is CREEEEEPY as well. Something about their spiderlike humanoid creeping around. They’re also so skeletal. Shudder. But two headed twins. Yes… it’s truly primal.

Many reasons to be afraid of her, then. However, kudos to the end of the film for ultimately giving Mama someone who loves her – although we’d go with the idea that the little girl was also ‘dead all along’, so thank you TV tropes for that theory.

Mama (2012) expands on Andrés Muschietti’s short film (also it’s at the bottom of this article), which was truly terrifying but frustratingly inconclusive. The film version does over-explain everything, which is a common problem with most Hollywood horror, but in the context of  ‘a fairytale’ this isn’t really too annoying. Also, really love Jessica Chastain in this. She’s a worthy opponent, who bravely faces off against Mama’s terrifying fury.

Besides, no one in the film is more monstrous than the father at the start. This asshole clearly believes he has the right to murder his wife and their children, on account of being an entitled selfish fuckload who thinks they’re his property or something. So, still pretty much rooting for Mama most of the way through! Many fairytales seem to include a homicidal parent, too, so this works brilliantly.

Mama is worth seeing, but  check out the original first of all, as it’s free, and a great introduction to the madness of Mama.

Monster Monday: Patrick Bateman ‘American Psycho’ created by Brett Easton Ellis

**Contains American Psycho spoilers because…well, go read and watch it, it’s awesome, and horrible, and hilarious, and deeply upsetting. Welcome to the Haunted Eyeball.****

We’re moving away from Disney this week (though we’ll definitely be returning to the demonic house of mouse at some point) and we’re taking a humanoid approach to this week’s Monster Monday. Well, he can pass for human, anyway. Mostly. What Patrick Bateman actually is, is something far more terrifying.

Doesn't seem so bad, does he...

Doesn’t seem so bad, does he…

He’s a yuppie. Which, to clarify for those born after 1980, means he’s a stupidly rich, callous motherfucker. Actually, probably easier to just call him a banker and leave it at that. Striding the streets of late 190s New York in Armani, while utilizing a very strict skincare routine, Bateman kills and kills again, he stomps tramp to death along with their poor puppies, he gives drugged out dates chocolate covered urinal cakes as a dessert. He also has extremely convoluted thoughts on the music of Whitney Huston when she was an 1980s diva. That’s the sort of monster we’re dealing with. Shudder. However, if  you’re interested, there’s a very interesting study into how rich people get progressively less empathic – though we doubt that that would really explain Bateman, either.

Oh, and he NEVER gets caught.

Now, to be clear, this really isn’t going to be an incredibly in-depth analysis of everyone’s favourite American Psycho (no, not you Dexter). There’s a time and place for that (we love us some analysis) but, not on here and not today, anyway. This Monster Monday about Patrick Bateman is purely to celebrate how he makes us confront our inner sickos. Or if he doesn’t well, good for you.

So let’s talk Bateman.

american_psycho

Frankly, compared to what else is out there, Patrick Bateman is almost comical. Not least because, well, he might just be completely out of his mind, and the whole horrific story is  delivered by an unreliable narrator cop-out of the highest order. (The author has denied it’s all in Bateman’s head, though). That and the ten page monologues on what Bateman likes to wear and why Hip to Be Square like, totally sums up important stuff, probably. Yes. He takes himself so seriously, it should be a comedy. (We’d argue it is…a very very very very dark one). See, mostly, Patrick Bateman just likes to hurt people. Women especially. Yick. The jarring flip from Bateman’s discussion of the latest GQ cover and angst about the right business card, right over to incredibly detailed descriptions of torture, murder and things that would make Leatherface shake his head, are all part of the character’s hypnotic appeal. This is one twisted fuck, and he lives on Wall Street.

That’s up against some pretty stiff psychotic competition.

Let’s be clear. The ‘all a dream’ explanation for Bateman would suck. Unless you’re that unfortunate woman he treated to his hose pipe and rat douche which, well…but it would remove the power of the book. It’s basically pure splatterpunk translated through the uppity lens of high literature. What’s the difference between this and a masterpiece like Ketchum’s ‘The Woman’? Apart from, like, awards and publishing ‘accolades’. Still, they’re both brilliant, but you know, labels are bad, mmkay?

This is how a date with Patrick Bateman generally ends, by the way...

This is how a date with Patrick Bateman generally ends, by the way…

However, Bateman definitely falls under ‘M’ for ‘Monster’. But even worse, surely, (unless you are the unfortunate hooker being brutally chainsawed through the crotch by him at the time) are the people who are stopping him from even being caught. His disgustingly rich father has to be protecting him. That’s hinted at. Suggested. Never overt. Conspiracies are comforting. Otherwise, the world would see what a sicko Bateman is, and they would stop him. The world would definitely stop him. Right? Bad guys are caught all the time. Aren’t they? It’s a good thing we’re all rational enough to deal with this and have enough security in the world’s empathy that this sort of thing is laughed off as an anomaly of a sick mind…..*nervous laugh*

Brett Easton Ellis' sick little mind, to be precise. *gives Brett an unwanted hug*

Brett Easton Ellis’ sick little mind, to be precise. *gives Brett an unwanted hug*

Only, we all go a little mad sometimes. Bateman is one way to pin it to the screen or the page. Or the musical theatre outing. Nice. Because, when the highest rated, most heavily downloaded show (Game of Thrones) has a man getting SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER his cock brutally chopped off by another guy who looks like a psychotic hobbit (no, really he does, and he also deserves his own Monster Monday when the series actually finishes) plus, all the graphic rape in the show and head’s gleefully exploding END SPOILER END SPOILER END SPOILER then, we can’t get on our high horse about about Bateman anymore. We are desensitised. We deserve Bateman now. He’s been absorbed and chewed up.

This is best epitomised by the newish West End musical of American Psycho, starring Doctor Who as Bateman (a far more appropriate use for creepy babyfaced gurner Matt Smith, in our opinion). Surely, if popular culture is going to grind up and spit out something as blackly vicious as Ameican Psycho, and shove a load of ironic songs in it (I’m also looking at you, Evil Dead) then it’s only a matter of time before we get a Hellraiser musical. Well, we can hope.

Monster Monday: Monstro the Whale (Pinocchio 1940)

As we all know, Whales are a fiercely beautiful, highly intelligent bunch of peaceful aquatic creatures, who humanity has quite unreasonably hunted to bloody near extinction in the name of putting whale oil in absolutely everything, and occasionally making a decent corset. By all accounts, whales funded the rise of the industrial revolution. Which ended in iPads and asthma for everyone. Hooray!

“Eubalaena glacialis with calf”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eubalaena_glacialis_with_calf.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Eubalaena_glacialis_with_calf.jpg

But, in the case of Monstro the whale, from the 1940 Disney classic ‘Pinocchio‘, we’re much more inclined to say ‘screw it, shoot that goddam psycho beastie with a harpoon’.

Monster Monday: Monstro the Whale, Pinocchio 1940. Thanks, Disney!

Monster Monday: Monstro the Whale, Pinocchio 1940. Thanks, Disney!

Scarier than Moby Dick, Monstro rates high on the ‘nightmare fuel’ scale in a film that’s ALREADY chock-full of the stuff. But for this Eyeballer, Monstro beats out Pinocchio’s
Donkey Boys, simply because:

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Short Story: The Will

Joanna K Neilson:

The pit is dark and rats nibble at her toes. But is this Jane’s last chance for survival?

Originally posted on Joanna K Neilson:

Jane had been down here a long time…

This is an original piece written by Joanna K Neilson:

dry-well

The Will

Worry gnawed at her bones. Her stomach was so empty it no longer hurt and she couldn’t remotely remember the softness of a bed. It was hard to sleep down here, in the cold darkness, with rats running over her feet and nibbling at her whenever she passed out from exhaustion and pain. No, there was nothing left inside her to shake off the misery, to fight for a way out. She was broken and beaten and wanted to die. He had destroyed her. What was left was a stringy, starving thing that could barely remember kindness or her life before these curving walls, kept in this dingy cellar space that stank of rodent droppings and her own filth. Her captor had grown bored of her, that’s the impression she…

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750 words Short story: Eck, Bill, and Lack-Lack

Joanna K Neilson:

750 words short story – a charnel pit, and an impossible question…..

Originally posted on Joanna K Neilson:

This was for the 750word .com challenge – 96 day streak!

To kick it off, I chose 3 words from flicking through Sherri S Tepper’s ‘Sideshow’ – a good book but haven’t finished it yet.

The words were:  Humiliated, smell, skull.

Eck, Bill and Lack-Lack

A dreadful reek rose from the sacrificial pit. A stink of uncommon gruesomeness permeated the flared nostrils of the king’s chief poison taster, whose refined nostrils recoiled in revulsion. Eck didn’t notice any of it. Eck had lived among the stink for all of his short years, and all those yeas had effectively cauterised his inner sensibilities, so that the mere reek of the charnel pit from a distance mattered very little to him.

“What be it you’re looking for again, Bill?” Eck asked his companion.

Eck had never met anyone quite so fancy looking. Bill glared back at him, “It’s ‘Sybill’, you cretin. And…

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750ish words: ‘Animal’s Theory about the guy next door’

Joanna K Neilson:

750 words written in 20 minutes.

Originally posted on Joanna K Neilson:

Consistent writing does take the fear out of the process, the crippling perfectionism that can kill a first draft, let alone the minowwing idea that promises to grow into tasty words and yummy stories. So before I kill that metaphor entirely…here’s a quick story, minnow sized actually, written in 20 minutes on one of the most inspirational writing sites out there – 750words.com.  The site tracks you keeping up writing at least 750 words a day, and it’s a good way to break through any starting nerves, any hesitation can be fought through and replaced with sweetly random connections coming together. Or, you know, a rant about how mad, irrational and crappy you’re feeling at that particular moment. Lately I’ve been doing the fiction more than the internal angst, though that’s still there. Weirdly, it’s easier to fill the 750 words remit by writing a story, than by rolling around…

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Monster Monday: “Gashunk gashunk” – Juni Ito’s ‘Gyo’ Manga

There are plenty of reason to love Junji Ito’s work.

We’re about to cover just one of them, which should be more than enough for now…

Juni Ito’s manga is unfailingly horrific, disturbing and marvelous. If you love horror of any kind, we can’t recommend his back-catalogue highly enough. For the sake of this Monster Monday, however, we want to focus on his series GYO (The Death Stench Creeps)
and the disturbing, and mostly unexplained, phenomena that it tries to explain. Well, there is a rational explanation given. In the loosest possible sense of ‘rational’. Perhaps ‘plausible’ is the best description for what happens in this manga. It’s really dream logic, which makes it work, the sense of a nightmare you can’t quite climb away from and situation getting worse and worse.

Title page from the first manga novel. Fish with legs. Yes, it sounds silly...at first....

Title page from the first manga novel. Fish with legs. Yes, it sounds silly…at first….

The basic premise of the two book manga GYO (The Death Stench Creeps): Volume 1
is that sea life has started climbing out of the ocean on strange, organically manufactured but artificially installed little legs. The setup is pretty bloody weird already, but the horror doesn’t end there. The first appearence of a ‘fish with legs’ is almost funny. But it’s merely the warning shot of a much bigger disaster for humanity. Because these things are powered by the gassy stench of death itself, and the attacks from the ocean to the land are about to get much more deadly, and much larger, too.

Most notably, starting with this Gshunking monster:

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