Tag Archives: horror

Son of Rosemary

I’ve been going through a horror binge faze, one that probably started about 15 years ago.  But in the past few months, even more so. I sat in theaters on the edge of my seat for Annabelle: Creation and It. I had movie nights at home hiding under a blanket with Ouija: Origin of Evil and Lights Out. At a summer pool party, a friend noted that I had mentioned horror stories at least three different times in the course of an hour. 

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So, when I was shopping around The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles, I spent the most time in the horror section. The Last Bookstore is a noted literary treasure in LA. It has a mix of new and used books, all together spine-by-spine. The first thing I look for in any large independent book store?

IRA. FREAKING. LEVIN.

I bought three Ira Levin books, including the sequel to my all time favorite Rosemary’s Baby — Son of Rosemary. (Side note: This Perfect Day is now the only novel I’m missing in my Levin collection. Christmas is coming…)

In One Sentence: Rosemary wakes up in 1999, after an almost 30 year coma, to realize her son of Satan has become a more powerful and richer Jesus figure.

Favorite Line: ““Andy,” she asked him, holding on to one of his gilt buttons, “have you been totally honest with me?”

His hazel eyes—which were nice, now that she was getting used to them—gazed earnestly, unswervingly into hers. “I swear I have, Mom,” he said. “I know I lied when I was little. And I do now—plenty. But never again to you, Mom. Never. I owe you too much, I love you too much. Believe me.” …

They pecked, and she watched him go out with the cooler on his shoulder. She closed the door, frowning.” – Ch. 4

Review*: I actually knew this was going to be bad. It’s Ira Levin’s last novel, written late in his life, an apparent cash grab, and possible love letter to Mia Farrow? Plus, the Goodreads reviews speak for themselves. It still has his signature sparseness, focusing on the external to communicate the internal. My favorite line is actually “She closed the door, frowning.” because it’s simple yet shows a building tension right from the start of Rosemary and her son Andy’s new relationship. I’ll probably steal that trick for my own writing. But outside of that, the novel is mehhh. The entire plot is driven around whether or not people will LIGHT CANDLES. (Oh, and incest, lots of incest because I think in the editing process someone realized lighting candles was not enough so someone else pitched incense and Ira Levin heard incest). I’m still glad I read it, in that way Sandra Bullock fans bought tickets to Speed 2. However, o one else needs to read it. Watch Damien: Omen II instead.

The Book Would Have Ended a Lot Sooner If: Rosemary had died in the coma.

Something That Will Actually Give You Nightmares:

The short film “Lights Out” from David F. Sandberg that inspired the 2016 feature film.

*Note: Ira Levin is still one of my favorite authors. I encourage everyone to read Ira Levin. 

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The_Strange_Case_of_Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde

Technically, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is public domain. So the fact that I paid any money for it (even if it was just $1.50) should perhaps not be considered a “bargain.” But, hey, it covers the printing cost, right?

I picked up this book in a normal college book store in the “thrift” section where all the public domain classics are reprinted for student reference. (Dracula, Hunchback, etc.) I was drawn to it after I studied abroad and got to spend a few days in Edinburgh, Scotland. Walking through the city streets, I stumbled upon a small “Writer’s Museum” chronicling the lives of famous Scottish writers. Really — it was only about Robert Louis Stevenson. Who didn’t even stay in Scotland — he travelled to the Pacific and spent time on the Hawaiian islands and then settling in Samoa. He even spent time on Molokai with Father Damien in the leper colonies.

I guess the truth is I didn’t purchase Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because I wanted to read a good story. (Though, it was a perk.) I saw the book and I remember thinking about what I had learned about the writer and I wanted to know how his imagination worked.

In One Sentence: A doctor devises a chemical to expel himself of moral struggle.

Favorite Line: He was the usual cut and dry apothecary, of no particular age or colour, with a strong Edinburgh accent, and about as emotional as a bagpipe.” — p.3

Review: Only about sixty pages, this novella is interesting in how it wraps up the mystery of events and persons through telling the story through a limited perspective. The details focus on characters and their complexities, which makes sense when the big reveal is how these complexities are the driving point to why Dr. Jekyll seeks change. This is classic horror — tense, crying children, don’t go in a dark room, horror. So, read it if you haven’t. What this book does very well is establishing universal motivations in what would otherwise be despicable people. The main character, Dr. Jekyll’s friend and lawyer, wants to see Jekyll happy and rational. Jekyll struggles with his humanity and wants more than anything in the world to not struggle anymore. Isn’t that what we all want?

The Book Would Have Ended a Lot Sooner If: Dr. Jekyll had my chemistry skills. (aka NONE.)

Adaptation:

Like any classic, there are many adaptations that have come since. Here is one of my favorite “Mr. Hyde’s”.

From the film The Mask (1994).

What’s your favorite adaptation?

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