Festival of Fiendishness: ANNIE WILKES

Writers are pretty much the top of the food chain: we have few natural predators. Our imaginations and Wikipedia keep us, for the most part, out of harms way. We spend the majority of our time in a seated position, scribbling on pads or tapping at keyboards. The most likely hazard of the writing profession is carpal tunnel. And severe caffeine withdrawal. And chairs with poor lumbar support.

And fame.

Fame changes everything. Sure you want people to read your stories, until they start leaving negative comments and reviews. Or pressuring you for the next release. Or taking your ass hostage and tying you to the bed until you resurrect their favorite character you killed in the last book.

Yes, my wicked little readers, today’s villain is the Queen of Literary Terror and the sexiest thing in denim cotton floral print frock, Annie Wilkes from Misery, played by Maxim 100 beauty, Kathy Bates.

Your girl is avid fan of the Misery Chastain romance series. When she finds out the author, Paul Sheldon, has killed off Misery herself, thus ending the series, Annie is hotter than Twilight fans finding out Kristen Stewart was stepping out on Robert Pattinson. So my man’s car accident that leaves him with two broken legs in the middle of a blizzard down the street from Annie’s house is “fortuitous.”

She does what anybody—and especially a “number one fan”—would do: she bundles Paul up, takes his raggedy ass to her house, and, rather than call the police or the paramedics or even the fucking WonderPets, Annie proceeds to torture the shit out of him until he agrees to write another Misery Chastain book bringing Misery back to life. And I’m talking about withholding care and pain meds or cutting off his thumb when he gets mad about a letter missing on the typewriter. This can’t end well, right?

So while he’s writing, Annie takes a couple trips into town. This gives Paul a little bit of time to go investigating, and he does, Shaggy and Scooby-style. Sneaking around on wobbly legs looking for clues, Paul finds out that Annie absolutely is getting coal in her stocking: your girl is a serial killer in a jumper and has been killing people for years. When Annie finds out about Paul’s little excursions into her private life, she decides to “limit” him. If you watched the movie, this is the part where she ties homey to the bed, places a wedge of wood between his feet, and BREAKS HIS ANKLES WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER! Annie ain’t 100 percent And this is tame compared to what she did to my man in the book: cuts off his foot and cauterizes it with a blowtorch. What kind of shit?

And she goes out like a G: she kills a cop by running him over with a lawnmower (read that again: she rain him over with a LAWNBOY!), takes a typewriter blow to the head, gets choked out and takes a header into a mantle. But she still won’t die! After going two rounds with Paul Sheldon Michael Meyers-style, Annie finally dies while trying to start her chainsaw. I think I heard 50 Cent singing “I don’t know what you heard about me” at the end of the movie.

Annie Wilkes is awesome because she’s a romance-novel reading, Country Living magazine dressed hot pocket of unmitigated crazy. Sports figures, celebrities, and rock stars have the corner on fruitcake fans; you don’t ever hear about authors becoming a victim of their fans. Annie Wilkes teaches us that fame is fame is fame is fame and there’s enough crazy to go around. For all my author friends, I bet you’ll take that one star review over the alternative, huh?

Next up, like sand in the hour glass, so are the days of our lives (yeah, I’ve seen a soap opera before. I’m man enough to admit it)—Victor Kiriakis comes to the Festival!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 26: PET SEMATARY

I’m cheating today—today is supposed to be my W day in the A to Z Blog Challenge and I’m supposed to be writing about the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. But the truth is, I hate that movie. I’ve always hated it and, next to The Sound of Music, it is the one film I will actually get up and walk away from (well, that, and Escape from LA—that’s the only movie I ever left a theater behind). I got nothing on the Witch—she rides a broom, she tries to set the Scarecrow on fire, she hates Toto, she has an issue with water (and probably is FUNKY), and she has an army of Monkeybats at her disposal. That’s about it.

So, instead of me making crap up, I invited a friend to the Celebration: I am honored to introduce poetess, novelist, author, essayist (God, I feel like a slacker—I’m not done yet), blogger, academic, Ph.D. candidate, Audreyanna Garrett. And since she loves the dark stuff as much as I do she’s gonna talk about PET SEMATARY.

Pet Sematary is one of the scariest movies I remember seeing as a child. As much as I loved watching scary movies, I would find that they were not that scary. This movie was the foundation for determining whether a movie was actually scary or suspenseful. I think we get scary confused with suspense and surprise. Of course the ability to scare has elements of surprise, however it also has everything to do with shock and creativity.

My father first introduced me to this movie when I was about 11 years old and I still hold this movie in my TOP 5 on the list of the SCARIEST movies of all time. Pet Sematary was one of those movies that you had to be prepared for anything. Stephen King had a great idea to develop a story around the chemicals in the fertilizer in a Pet Sematary and it’s ability to bring life back to the dead. It introduced the idea of bring loved ones back from the dead and it also diffused the thought that it was a good idea. As you empathized initially with the loss of such innocence, we learned very quickly why that was not the best idea.

As much as we love our loved ones, bringing back from the dead isn’t always the best possible option. Sometimes we have to learn to leave well enough alone.

I could not contribute to the Celebration of Wickedness without discussing Pet Sematary. The characters, story and plot (THANK YOU STEPHEN KING) are awesome and this movie goes down as one of the TOP FIVE SCARIEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME.

I hope you watch it and enjoy!

Thanks, Audreyanna! For me, this was one of those “Dude, do you seriously think this is a good idea?” type of movies. Made it a little hard to accept. Until the kid got hit by the truck. (Of course, in my crooked little way, I thought that part was funny) But as a parent, I can understand the anguish that would go along with your child’s death. And the lengths we would go to in order to make it right. When the Celebration comes back for Round Two (consider this an announcement) we can discuss how deadly the boy really is—he’s like 2 feet tall, like Chucky!

I discovered my passion for writing early, and developed a relationship with a pen and paper before I had many friends. Writing was my way of expressing how I truly felt without dealing with the misinterpretation so often encountered when trying to express myself verbally. I started with a journal, my journal housed my poetry and my poetry and thoughts developed into blogs. I have established and maintained three blogs to date. Each blog encompasses a different chapter of my life, utilizing trials and joys of my journey to exhibit my growth process.

Through my work, and all future literary projects, I seek to motivate, encourage, support, spread love and provoke conscious thought into the lives of many.

Audreyanna’s everywhere but, here’s how to catch up with her:
Website: www.audreyannawrites.com
Blogs: www.theverticalperspective.blogspot.com, www.soulpoetspeaks.blogspot.com, www.audriwrites.tumblr.com
Twitter: @audriwrites
Facebook: www.facebook.com/audriwrites

You can also find her books on Amazon

Celebration of Wickedness Day 17: OVERLOOK HOTEL

I’m a writer. I have these fantasies of crafting masterpieces of haunting depth, full of magnetic characters and taut, driven plotlines, all by the light of a roaring fire in a lakeside cabin somewhere deep in the Pacific Northwest forest. I also have fantasies of a masked killer coming into that same fireside retreat, slicing me into chili and wiping his mouth with my pages.

But I digress.

As writers, we all have these ideal writing environments that exist only in our heads, these utopian places that would allow us to escape the real world and focus exclusively on our craft. So I can understand Jack Torrance’s rationale for choosing to manage the Overlook Hotel in the scenic Rocky Mountains. Makes sense, right?

Makes perfect sense until you add in a dyslexic, telepathic boy with an imaginary playmate named Tony, a haunted hotel, an Indian burial ground, a snowstorm that locks everybody in, and Olive Oyl. Throw in Jack Nicholson’s crazy ass and you have a recipe for disaster.

You guys know this story: Jack Torrance (Nicholson) moves his family to Boulder to become the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. The hotel comes with a fully stocked kitchen, a CB radio, and a creepy Black dude. And it comes with its requisite red flags: while walking through the premises, Jack is told that the previous caretaker murdered his entire family. RED FLAG. His son starts having visions of twin girls and blood, is running around yelling “Redrum!” and talking to his finger. RED FLAG. Jack himself sees and has full-blown conversations with people WHO ARE NOT THERE! RED FLAG. Until he finally snaps, we get the typewritten page of “All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy” and suddenly he’s chasing his wife through the hotel and chopping down doors only to get locked out in the snow and freezes to death. Oh yeah, spoiler alert…

Red flags aside, I have two problems with the Overlook Hotel: first, it’s real. Like the Amityville Horror House. It’s real. I’ve actually seen it. No, I have not stayed in it (and you already know this, man!) but I did pass it on the freeway and, frankly, that’s close enough. Second, the entire story strikes too close to home for me. I’m a writer. I work from home. There are days I actually don’t go outside. I can understand the steady decline of your mental capacity— I’m not saying I’m chasing people around with axes (and “It’s Jaaaaayyyyy Lenoooooo!” doesn’t have the same sinister ring, does it?) but Jack Torrance makes sense to me.

Really, what makes the Overlook Hotel so incredible is its inherent ability to bring out the true shades of people. We saw Danny Torrance find his shining powers; we saw Jack lose his mind; we saw Dick Halloran give his life for a little crazy kid. All of them realized their true selves in the walls of the Overlook and none of them were the same. Maybe that’s villainy; maybe that’s just a mirror. At any rate, it’s my letter O.

And tomorrow, they’re heeeree! That’s right, boys and girls, come into the light, there is peace and serenity in the light—Poltergeist is next!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 8: PENNYWISE THE CLOWN #30daysofmadness

While the rest of the Christian world is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Happy Easter, everybody!), we’re still celebrating the darker side of life. Today’s villain du jour is Pennywise, the child-killing clown from It.

I don’t know a single soul that has read the book—it’s longer than the Bible. But I know a whole bunch of people who saw the miniseries. If you weren’t one of them, it’s the story of a giant inter-dimensional spider-thing that terrorizes a small town in Massachusetts or Rhode Island or any one of the other 78 states in New England. The spider-thing takes the form of a clown, Pennywise, to lure kids into the sewers to dine on them.

I have a couple confessions to make: first, I didn’t see It until I was an adult in my 30s so the terror was lost on me—the dated hairstyles and poor special effects made me think it was just an extra long episode of Cheers; second, I actually didn’t think It was that good, I just remember what my friends kept saying:

“Dude, the clown…the clown really freaked me out.”

The problem with this is it was college students talking. I’d graduated from high school the summer before and was working on my first attempt at a college degree at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. For whatever reason, I didn’t see it. I don’t know, I didn’t have a TV, the ratio of women to men was 14 to 1 and there were better things to watch, or I was sleep. I missed it.

But the thing is, all those other people didn’t.

These were grown men sleeping with the lights on, lamenting about this damn clown and, even though I hadn’t seen it, I was genuinely interested in this character. Or rather, in his impact. In light of what we’ve learned so far, what makes Pennywise so effective, so frightening is that he is something so malevolent in such innocuous trappings. Pennywise is a clown, with fanged teeth, but a clown nonetheless. And until It graced our television screens, the creepiest things about clowns was that they hung out with nondescript purple guys named Grimace, known Hamburglars, and traveled in those itty-bitty cars.

We used to look forward to clowns. How many of us grew up watching Bozo the Clown before school? We’ve all had Happy Meals. And I know hundreds of my peers watched the clowns at the Shrine Circus. They were good, clean fun. And that’s the thing, that’s the rub. Clowns are supposed to be harmless (John Wayne Gacy aside) and Pennywise uses that inherent trust to kill children. Remember when I said Cruella DeVille was just mean? You gotta admit, posing as a clown to catch a snack is pretty f’d up.

I added Pennywise to the list as a fantastic villain because of his MO: he takes something that generally engenders happy feelings and uses it as bait for something sinister. And, in the process, changes the way we look at clowns.

I could talk about that this is a common trait among Stephen King’s villains, about how he finds something to fear in those things we hold dear: our faithful companions become ravenous hellhounds in Cujo; our pretty little girls become telekinetic she-devils in Carrie or walking flamethrowers in Firestarter; a car literally becomes a deathtrap in Christine and Maximum Overdrive. Pennywise is simply another example of a villain made incredible in the hands of a master.

UPDATE: I do know a soul who has read It–My Wife! She publicly informed me of this little tidbit. She actually read it 3 times. 3! I can’t decide how concerned I should be…

The A to Z Blog Challenge starts up again tomorrow with letter H. We’ll be talking about something truly terrifying: the House from the Amityville Horror.