The Shameful Book Club: Pet Sematary

stephenkingpetsemataryI have not read nearly as much Stephen King as I like to let on, and I am truly the one who suffers. With each King novel I read, the more in awe I become of his writing. While he usually rides that fine line between fluff horror and well-crafted literature, I know that my opinion of his work will stay firmly in the later camp after reading Pet Sematary. This books IS a fluffy horror, but it is so well written and paced that I felt like I was reading something important and profound. Honestly, Pet Sematary is important and profound.

King has told the story many times of how he came to write (and almost not publish) this influential work. When he was younger and living on a rural Maine road much like the one the family lives on in the novel, King watched in horror as his young toddler son almost ran right into the road as a huge truck rumbled by. This close call prompted him to think about what could have happened, and the result was a grisly and painful story about life, death, and grief.

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The Hitchcock Haul: Psycho (1960)

Psycho_(1960)Of course I watched Psycho on Halloween week! Starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, and Vera Miles, Psycho is based on the novel by the same name written by Robert Bloch and adapted for the screen by Joseph Stefano. I don’t think I need to recap the plot or go into what a fabulous film this is. It’s pretty much universally known, but if you have somehow never seen Hitchcock’s masterpiece, you absolutely need to watch tonight!

Psycho was a game changer in a lot of ways, but I thought it’d be appropriate to stress the role it played in horror films, because, you know…Halloween. With Psycho, Hitchcock helped to create a new genre known as the slasher film, albeit not intentionally. It set a new bar for violence and deviance (sexual or otherwise) in film that was previously not there. This was mainly because the production code that ruled over film content in the decades previous had stopped such subject matter from ever being produced. The restrictive code had recently been thrown out at the time of Psycho‘s production (otherwise it would’ve never been made), but filmmakers were still hesitant to explore those once taboo elements. Psycho challenged the limits of respectability and paved the road for more graphic fair, such as John Carpenter’s Halloween (starring Leigh’s daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis) which opened the door for a flood of slasher films to burst through (such as Friday the 13th).

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