Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical.

Hello everyone. Happy Friday. Welcome back to another #fridayschoice.

Today I am talking about a musical that I love, so musical lovers tune in!

Let’s talk about Jekyll & Hyde The Musical.

I am going to start off by saying that I really like all versions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

I love the premise. If you don’t know the story, a very short summary is that Dr. Jekyll wishes to find a way to separate the evil parts of ourselves from the good, because his idea is that if we can all rid ourselves of our inner evils then there will be no more evil in the world. It sounds like a really straightforward idea, but Dr. Jekyll soon learns that good and evil are not as straightforward as one might think, and separating the good from the bad can actually have dangerous consequences.

I really like the story of Jekyll & Hyde because I think it is a very thought provoking one. I think that this story makes us think about who we are and the world we live in, and we learn that no one is just good or just evil, but that people are actually a complex, and nuanced mix of the two. We all have good and bad aspects of ourselves, and some who appear good are in fact not, and others who we may assume are bad can turn out to be good. I think that a story such as this makes us reflect upon the type of person that we are, it makes us think about the way we perceive and judge others. It demonstrates that appearances are not everything, and ultimately I think this story highlights how much hypocrisy exists in the world.

I really like the musical version, even though I know that not everyone enjoyed it. It is a show that I hope to see live onstage again someday. The music is by Frank Wildhorn, and I am a fan of his work. I will be talking about his work in Bonnie & Clyde The Musical at some point in the future. I think it is fair to say that Jekyll & Hyde The Musical is an underrated piece. I don’t know too many people who have heard about it, and I don’t wish to make any sweeping statements, but I don’t think the show is talked about as much as it perhaps should be.

Is it perfect? No. There are aspects of it that I don’t love, and I think there are certain aspects that should be done in a more subtle, tasteful way however I think that it is a musical that presents some very complex themes in an artistic way, and some of the songs are stunning.

I would have to say that I think the song Facade sums up the show very nicely. Everything is a facade. We are not one person, but two. There is good and evil in all of us, and just because someone is in a respected position, it does not mean that they are automatically good and beyond reproach. ‘There are teachers who lie, there are liars who teach.”

I think that this musical depicts a really interesting tension between instincts and self control. We all have good instincts and bad ones. We all have things that we want to do but cannot, because we know we shouldn’t. When Dr. Jekyll discovers a way to temporarily separate the evil part of himself form the good, we see that his evil counterpart is simply him operating at his most basic desires. Mr. Hyde is instinct walking. He has no conscience, he does think about how his actions will impact others. He does not have morals or self control. Mr. Hyde does what he wants, when he wants, and he does things that will hurt others because this brings him pleasure. Interestingly though, Mr. Hyde highlights the hypocrisy that exists in the upper classes of his society. He points out when people who are respected secretly abuse their positions of power, and do things that they condemn people of lower classes for when they do the same thing. Mr. Hyde points out how money and status don’t mean that someone is not a bad person, but money and status makes it easier for them to hide or get away with the fact that they have done bad things and so even though Mr. Hyde is a character who is made up of entirely the bad parts of someone, he does make some valid points and so there is a certain sense in his quest for revenge. What I am saying here is that while I don’t agree with Hyde, I understand Hyde when he rightly points out the cracks in the facade of others, and this is one of the reasons why I love this story and this musical. It is layered and thought provoking.

One of my favourite characters in the musical is Lucy. Lucy is a whore who works in the Red Rat bar and brothel. She believes that good and evil are intertwined, and although she is poor, and penniless, and repeatedly looked down upon by those of the upper classes, it is her who teaches Dr. Jekyll a lot about life. She inspires him. Lucy has a hard life. She is considered ‘bad’ according to those of higher status because of her job, but it does not stop those of higher status coming to the brothel to enjoy her work. Lucy demonstrates that luck plays a big part in things. Lucy was not born wealthy. She has no family, very little education, and so she is forced to do what she can to survive. She is mistreated at work but she has no other options. Many people would dismiss her based on her status, and by doing so they will never learn that she is kind, brave, and honest.

Lucy’s character and the way people treat her demonstrates how society can treat those who are considered ‘bad’ or unimportant. When Lucy is badly hurt, Dr. Jekyll is horrified, and even more horrified when he learns that things like this happen on a regular basis, and he is shocked when he learns that the man who hurt her was considered a gentleman for how could a respected gentleman do something so violent? You can imagine Dr. Jekyll’s horror when Lucy tells him that the man who hurt her was named Hyde. Dr. Jekyll must accept that the evil side of himself did this. He was capable of such violence when he had no good side to tame the bad. He cannot believe that he could have done something like this but Hyde did, and Hyde is simply Jekyll with no conscience or morals. As I said before, Hyde does what he wants, when he wants, and he does not care who he hurts.

Jekyll and Hyde The Musical, while imperfect, is a layered, complex musical that depicts some very interesting and intense themes. The musical depicts the tension between good and evil, desire and control, and it scathingly highlights the hypocrisy that exists in the world.

It is also extremely gothic, which is why I decided to talk about it during the month of October. The inner struggle that Dr. Jekyll experiences, the philosophical questions that he tackles about good and bad, the struggle between science and the ‘natural’ way of things – all of these are highly gothic elements.

At some point in the future I may choose the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde as my #bookofthemonth, but this month’s #bookofthemonth is the gothic novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and I am looking forward to discussing this book. I may even draw some comparisons to the story of Jekyll & Hyde because I think that both gothic novels share similar themes but they are explored in very different ways.

This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you heard of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical? What do you think of the story of Jekyll & Hyde in general? I’d love to know.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Kate xo.

Subversive Literature.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #theorythursday. I cannot believe how quickly the time is passing by. Next week is the last week of October and then we are moving onwards and upwards into a new month. Last week I talked about the difference between horror and terror, and you should check that out if you haven’t already. Today I am talking about subversive literature. 

 If you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you will already know that I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has left me a comment either on Instagram, or here on the website, and to those of you who sent me a kind message, thank you so much. I really appreciate the support and engagement that I have received during the month of October. I have really embraced the Halloween spirit, and I have been talking a lot about horrors, which I know not everyone enjoys. I will be taking a break from horror as we move into November, but I’ve enjoyed challenging myself to watch movies that I usually wouldn’t as horror is definitely not my favourite genre, but I have found that there are aspects of it that I do enjoy. 

With that being said, let’s dive into the second last #theorythursday in October. 

What is subversive literature? 

Subversive literature is literature in which the plot challenges things we consider normal. 

A subversive narrator will take things that the reader should already be familiar with, and challenge our understanding of that thing. Subversive narratives are common in gothic literature, which is why I decided that I would talk about subversive literature in October because it fits into the horror/gothic themes that I have been exploring this month. 

An example of subversive literature can be found in a text such as Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto or in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Both of these novels subvert the idea of home being a safe place. Usually one’s home is their safe place, their sanctuary, their escape from the world, but in these novels, and in many other gothic novels, the home has become the place where danger lurks. Home is the place where the characters must escape from. Sanctuary is found outside of the home rather than in the home, and this development warps the reader’s idea of safety. When we read these novels, we no longer view the home as a safe space, because the idea of being safe at home has been twisted by a subversive narrative. 

I think that Neil Gaiman’s novella Coraline is another example of a subversive piece of literature. The character Coraline feels ignored by her parents who have to work around the clock, and so when she first encounters her “other mother” and “other father” in the parallel universe that she discovers, at first everything seems wonderful, so much so that she starts to prefer her “other mother”, but she soon learns that all is not as it seems and her idea of everything being perfect in the parallel universe is challenged and subverted when she learns that the perfect parallel universe is actually a place of nightmares. 

Why is it important to know about subversive literature? 

As I’ve said above, I felt that it was a good idea to talk about subversive literature alongside the gothic and horror that I have been discussing in October, because subversive narratives are often found in horror movies and gothic novels. I also think that it is important to understand subversive literature, because subversive literature can be extremely powerful. Subversive literature is sometimes radical, or political. Subversive narratives are often employed when an author wants to make a statement, but this isn’t always the case. I think there is something very powerful about a book having the power to take something that we think we understand and challenge it and twist it so much so that we have to re-examine our understanding of that thing. That is powerful. That is thought provoking. That is how conversations start. That is how critical thinking begins, when we are challenged, and so that is why I think that subversive literature is so important, because it has the potential to be incredibly moving and powerful. 

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you all enjoyed it. Thank you all again for the lovely support I’ve received this past month. It is much appreciated, and I am so excited for the months to come. 

Happy Friday Eve. 

Kate xo. 

Theatre Trip: Rocky Horror.

Hello everyone. Happy Tuesday. I hope you’re all having a good week so far. I’ve decided that it is time for another theatre post, but this time I am talking about a #theatretrip rather than a #theatrethrowback because I was recently in the theatre. I went to the theatre on October 9th to see Rocky Horror. I got to see the very last show, and it was incredible. 

(Very important note before I go any further – this content is NOT an ad, NOT gifted, NOT sponsored – I bought my tickets myself). 

I haven’t been to the theatre in person since February 2020. I went to see Blood Brothers when the show was touring in Dublin and I will publish an entire post dedicated to Blood Brothers at some point in the future because it is one of my top three favourite musicals, and it is a very special show to me for a number of reasons. It was also absolutely incredible onstage so I will definitely be talking about it in more detail at some point. 

I really missed being able to go to the theatre in person, along with so many other things that I know I will not take for granted again. I have mentioned many times that I think it is great that different theatres made plays available over streaming services, and I have enjoyed some brilliant theatre in the comfort of my own home. I think that this option should be something that more theatres do as we move forward, even with live theatre being able to happen again, because the streaming option is great for anyone who may be physically unable to access the theatre. I really admire the steps that were taken during difficult times to make theatre accessible at home. I will always applaud this. 

It was so exciting to be back at the theatre in person, and it had been such a long time that it honestly felt a little surreal. I think it is very important to mention how brilliant the staff were at the Bord Gáis Energy theatre. Everyone was so kind, and so lovely, and most importantly, they made everyone feel very safe being back at the theatre again. The place was spotless, the protocols and rules were very straightforward and easy to follow. Everything was so well organised in the theatre, and I felt very comfortable being there. Everyone deserves a lot of credit because putting on a show isn’t easy and everyone who makes the show happen, from cast, to crew, to front of house staff, everyone involved works so hard and it was a seamless night. I will be going back to the Bord Gáis Energy theatre in December and I am already looking forward to it. 

The show itself was amazing. If you know Rocky Horror, then you know it is a fun, electric, raunchy show, and the entire audience was excited to be there. I hadn’t expected Rocky Horror to be the first musical I went to see after such a long time, but honestly I don’t think I could have picked a better first show to go and see because it was so much fun. It was the perfect way to kick off the month of October. The songs are so catchy, the plot is wonderfully bizarre, the humour is cheeky and raunchy. The cast were absolutely amazing, and they deserved their standing ovation. There was a brilliant atmosphere in the theatre because everyone was simply excited to be there, it was the last show in Dublin as well so I think the cast had a certain “last show here” energy about them too which made all the performances even better in my opinion. 

If you are from Dublin then you will know that the Bord Gáis Energy theatre looks stunning at night time. If you’re not from Dublin, don’t worry, I’ll be including a few snaps below. I love being at the theatre. The grand canal at night when it is all lit up is probably my favourite spot in Dublin. It is stunning and that gorgeous view is the perfect way to end a night at the theatre. 

It was an amazing weekend. I’ve been catching up on real life ever since, which is why this #theatretrip discussion wasn’t published sooner, but I couldn’t let the month of October end without talking about the amazing, long awaited night at the theatre that was had. It was my first time seeing Rocky Horror, and I would go to see it again. I would also recommend it because it is a fun show. I think a very good time would be had by all. 

I’m so happy that live theatre is back, and that more and more shows seem to be opening. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing a show live, and it was incredible to be able to experience that feeling again. I can’t wait to go back. 

This has been my #theatretrip discussion. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen Rocky Horror? Have you been at the theatre recently? If so, what did you see? Have you got any recommendations for me? Please let me know! Have a great week. 

Kate xo. 

P.s – check out the snaps below! 

A snap of the stage before Act I began.
A snap of my latest addition to my programme collection.
A snap of the stunning view outside of the theatre. My favourite spot in Dublin.

Hocus Pocus.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #moviemonday. Today I am taking a break from horror and instead I am talking about a fun, childhood classic. I simply couldn’t let the month of October pass by without talking about Hocus Pocus. 

Let’s dive into Movie Monday. 

Hocus Pocus was released in 1993, and it was directed by the brilliant Kenny Ortega. 

I think that it is only fair to mention the wickedly wonderful Sanderson sisters played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. These actresses deserve a special mention before we move into the movie discussion because they were an absolutely brilliant trio and I don’t think this movie would be the same without them. 

Plot

Max Dennison is the new kid on the block. His family have just moved to Salem, where Halloween is kind of a big deal. In his new school, his teacher tells the tale of the Sanderson sisters. According to the legend, they were three witches who used to lure children to their cottage so they could steal their souls and stay young forever. One of the children who lost their lives to the witches was poor Emily Binx, her older brother Thackery tried to save her but sadly he arrived too late. The witches punished him for interfering by turning him into a black cat, forcing him to live forever with the knowledge that he could not save his sister. The sisters were later hung for their witchcraft. 

There is a legend that says the witches will someday return, if a virgin lights the black flame candle but many claim that a black cat guards the old Sanderson house in order to ensure that the candle is never lit so that the witches can never return. Max’s entire class is entranced by the story, especially his crush Allison, but he is the sceptic. Max does not believe a word of the tale, that is until he lights the black flame candle. Now the witches are back, hellbent on stealing the souls of all the children in Salem. The movie follows Max as he and Allison must figure out a way to stop them, all while keeping his little sister Dani safe. 

Characters. 

Max Dennison is our protagonist. As I said, he is the new kid on the block. He is struggling to adjust to his new home. He gets picked on in school, and he just doesn’t see why everyone in town is so into Halloween. Max is a loving big brother and when the witches return, he is determined to keep his little sister Dani safe. Max is a smart, quick thinker, and it is often due to his quick thinking that he is able to outsmart the Sanderson sisters. 

Dani is Max’s little sister. She absolutely loves Halloween, and she appears to be finding it easier to settle in than Max. Dani is a sweetheart. She looks up to her big brother and enjoys spending time with him. Throughout the movie, she helps Max and Allison as they try to stop the Sanderson sisters, and Dani, like Max, shows quick thinking and bravery throughout the movie. 

Allison is Max’s crush. She loves Halloween too, and she believes the story of the Sanderson sisters. She doesn’t want Max to light the candle, which shows us that she is clearly superstitious despite being fascinated by the story. When the witches return, she works alongside Max to stop them, and she too is determined to keep Dani safe. 

Binx the black cat is Thackery Binx, and he has been guarding the Sanderson house for 300 years to make sure that no one lights the black flame candle, and he was doing a remarkable job until Max showed up. Binx acts as a guide for Max, Allison, and Dani, because it is Binx who knows about the witches and their history, and so he is able to provide knowledge that will help Max beat them. 

The Sanderson sisters are the movie’s antagonists. Winifred is the leader. Winifred is the oldest, most powerful witch of the trio and it seems that she is the driving force behind the plan to steal the souls of all the children in Salem so that she and her sisters can remain young forever. Winifred appears to be the master of spells, and it is her who makes the potion that drains the life out of the children, and it is her who casts the majority of spells in the movie, with her sisters Mary and Sarah simply assisting her. 

Mary is the middle sister, and she has the sniffing abilities of a bloodhound. Mary sniffs out the children and it is her keen sense of smell that nearly gets the gang caught on a few occasions. Mary acts as Winifred’s maid at times, she is always fussing over her and doing things for her, and pandering to Winifred’s emotional outbursts. 

Sarah is the youngest sister, and she is the prettiest. Sarah is the slightly stereotypical ditz, but it is Sarah who lures the children to their cottage with her siren like singing so her very pretty appearance is what makes her all the more dangerous because at first she doesn’t appear as scary as Winifred or Mary.  Sarah’s bubbly, ditzy personality means that people are more likely to let their guard down around her. 

 Themes. 

Hocus Pocus is a fun, nostalgic, childhood classic. It is funny. I feel like it is a movie that cannot be overlooked in October. Seeing as this is a fun, Halloween classic, the themes are not particularly complex in my opinion. I think that this movie is a very straightforward one, and there is an obvious theme of good vs evil throughout the movie as Max and the gang are the good guys, doing everything in their power to keep the town of Salem safe from the bad guys, the Sanderson sisters. 

Typically in these types of good vs evil stories, audiences are usually supposed to be rooting for the good guys, and while the Sanderson sisters are arguably fabulous, and they have some really funny lines, at the end of the day they are trying to steal the souls of children so I am definitely rooting for Max and the gang. The themes of love and family are definitely prominent in this movie. It was Thackery’s love for his little sister that drove him to intervene with the Sanderson sisters to try to save her. It was his regret about not being able to save her that kept him at the Sanderson house, guarding it for all those years so that no one else would would suffer because of the Sanderson sisters. It is Max’s love for his little sister Dani that drives him throughout the entire movie. He is determined to keep her safe and not allow any harm to come to her, and after nearly losing her, he vows to never take her for granted again, even if little sisters are a little annoying sometimes. 

If I was to analyse this movie in a more complex way, because all movies can be analysed, then I would say that greed is a minor theme in this movie. The Sanderson sisters are greedy. It is their want to stay young forever that drives them throughout the entire movie. The sisters, particularly Winifred, are also rather petty. They don’t want just any soul, they want to start with Dani’s because they are annoyed that she managed to outsmart them, insult them, and get away. I actually think that Winifred, Mary, and Sarah are really fun, interesting characters and I would love it if at some point we were given some backstory on them, or even a story that was focused more on their point of view, because I think that would be really fun, but in terms of talking about Hocus Pocus, they are the bad guys, and so while greed is definitely a minor theme, I would say that love and family, and good overcoming evil are the most prominent themes in this movie. 

Structure. 

Hocus Pocus is just over an hour and a half long. After watching it again, I think that it is a fast paced movie. I actually really love the straightforward but very informative storytelling that occurs in this movie. Straight away we are launched into the legend, and this movie does a lot of showing not telling, which is great. We see Emily being lured away to the Sanderson cottage, we see Thackery trying to save her, we see him being turned into a black cat. We see all of this, and then it is revealed that Max’s teacher is in fact telling this story to her class, 300 years later. Max scoffs at the story and straight away this sets up Max as the sceptical outsider. The movie takes place on Halloween so we know that the narrative is going to be contained within this one night. I actually like time constraints like this in movies when they are done well. The story taking place on Halloween sets the movie up to have a long night ahead, all of the action is going to take place on this one night, and as we get closer to sunrise, the stakes get higher. Max and the gang just have to survive until the sun comes up. The movie moves quickly. Once the sisters are back, the plot races to stop them. It is fun, the stakes are high, and the fast pace leads to the pivotal scene before the ending. The movie isn’t too long, but it isn’t too short either, and at no point does it feel ridiculous. It is a Halloween movie, it is a fantasy movie, so there is an element of suspending one’s disbelief when watching but that’s all part of the fun. After all, “it’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus.” 

Final Thoughts. 

My final thoughts are that this movie is so much fun. It is a Halloween classic, I watch it every October and I never get bored of it. The cast is perfect, the characters are memorable, and the story is fun, heartwarming, and easy to follow. I am really looking forward to the upcoming sequel. 

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen Hocus Pocus? What’s a movie that you consider to be a Halloween classic? 

Kate xo. 

Embracing the Absurd: The Addams Family.

Hello everyone and welcome to #fridayschoice. 

Today I am taking a break from horrors, but I am still staying in the realm of #spookyseason. 

Today I am going to be talking about The Addams Family. 

I have previously talked about The Addams Family Musical on Katelovesliterature.com, but today I am referring to the 1991 movie version, and the 1964 sitcom. 

I have been a fan of The Addams Family since I was very young, and it is probably because my Mam loved the movie, so I grew up watching it. 

The Addams Family was created by cartoonist Charles Addams. The family was designed to be a satirical version of the idealised 20th century American family. Gomez and Morticia are the couple at the centre of this delightfully bizarre household. The members of the Addams family are fun, eccentric, macabre loving people. They are a close knit family unit, and they don’t care how odd or strange anyone else thinks they are, in fact I don’t think they even notice when other people are baffled by their gloomy, gothic household. 

I have to say that although I love the movie, and the musical, my favourite version of The Addams Family is without a doubt the 1964 sitcom. Carolyn Jones will always be my favourite Morticia. She is beautiful, she is elegant, she is funny, and she delivers her lines in the most charming yet original way. Morticia is a very loving mother, and a very loving wife, she adores her family more than anything, and she is firm in her beliefs. 

I have seen people argue that Gomez and Morticia are the perfect couple, and while I very rarely call fictional people “goals”, I do think that Gomez and Morticia are one of the best fictional couples to exist. They are passionately in love, they adore being in one another’s company, they make each other laugh, they would do anything for each other, they love their children more than anything and enjoy spending time with them, but I think the best thing about Gomez and Morticia is that they completely understand each other. Neither of them has to dull down parts of their personality or hide their eccentric nature. They are both weirdly wonderful, and they adore each other for it. I think that Gomez and Morticia are the definition of loving someone completely as they are, and they only add to each other’s quirks instead of attempting to stifle them. 

I think that another reason I have always loved The Addams Family is that I love the family motto, which is essentially, to embrace the absurd. So much of what I study goes back to this idea of embracing wonder, curiosity, and the absurd. So much of literature, particularly children’s literature, explores the tension between having to grow up and mature, but without completely losing our childhood sense of wonder. When I discuss Frankenstein at the end of the month, I will be talking about literature in the Age of Enlightenment, compared to literature in the Romantic Age, because there is a tension between logic and feeling. Enlightenment thinking puts forward the idea that anything and everything can be measured and explained with logic, but romantic thinking puts forward the idea that we shouldn’t measure everything because some things can’t and shouldn’t be measured. In the Addams Family home, nothing makes sense. Nothing can be measured. Everything is eccentric, and odd, and delightfully confusing. The Addams Family home is a place where the absurd is embraced and celebrated. Curiosity is encouraged. The imagination can run wild in the Addams Family home.   

Everyone can be exactly who they are, and unapologetically so. The children’s interests are never belittled. Gomez and Morticia never try to dampen who their children are, in fact they celebrate the individuals that their children are. Wednesday is quite an iconic character due to her morose nature. I think Morticia and Wednesday have always been my favourite characters, because while all of the characters are funny, and I enjoy the humour overall, I feel that Morticia and Wednesday could be argued to have the funniest, most often quoted lines. 

If you don’t like horror but would like to get into the Halloween, spooky season spirit, then I would definitely recommend The Addams Family. It is not scary, it is simply weirdly wonderful. It is different, it is so witty, and funny, and the characters are fantastic. Anyone I’ve recommended it to in the past has come back to me and said they’ve really enjoyed it, so if you’ve never seen it before, or it’s been a while, then why not? 

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  • If you know you know. 

This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you all enjoyed it. I hope you’re all having a good month. It won’t be long before October is behind us as time is flying. Happy Friday everyone, I hope you all have a lovely weekend. 

Kate xo. 

Horror vs Terror.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #theorythursday.

Last week I talked about how to recognise elements of gothic literature, so you should check that out if you have not already.

Today I am going to be talking about the difference between horror and terror, because despite sounding similar, they are not the same.

Let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

I spent some time studying gothic literature because it is a genre that I find really interesting, and the knowledge that I am sharing today comes from Ann Radcliffe, a very prolific gothic author, in fact she has been referred to as the pioneer of gothic fiction.

Ann Radcliffe outlined what she believed to be the difference between horror and terror, and it is from my studies of her and gothic literature that I am working off of.

What is horror?

Radcliffe describes horror as being a fear of something concrete. Horror is an immediate reaction that happens in the moment. So, we may feel horror when we see a monster or a jump scare. It is shocking, but it can be fleeting.

What is terror?

Radcliffe describes terror as a much more complex feeling. Terror is a feeling of anxiety and dread, that builds and builds before something happens. We may feel feel terror in the moments before something scary happens. We may feel terror when we hear ominous sounds, or creepy noises, or if we see flashes of dark shadows in the distance. We feel that something is wrong, but we do not know what, and we are scared to find out. That is terror.

Why is it important to know the difference between horror and terror?

I thought that breaking down the difference between horror and terror would be an interesting Theory Thursday topic, seeing as it is #spookyseason. I have been discussing a lot of horror movies this month, and this month’s #bookofthemonth is a gothic novel. I felt that since I am using terms such as ‘gothic’, and ‘horror’, and ‘terror’, etc., that it would be a good idea to break down what those terms mean.

I also think that knowing why horror and terror are different is a really interesting concept to think about, and I feel that after studying Radcliffe, I have a deeper appreciation for gothic literature.

I also think that it makes sense to understand that horror and terror are different because when you think about it, the feeling of shock when something jumps out at you is very different to the feeling of foreboding you feel when you hear an odd noise, or you feel like something is lurking in the shadows. I think that after a jump scare, we recover quicker, but if we feel that something is wrong, but we don’t know what, that feeling of dread is a lot harder to shake off. I think it is important to be able to recognise the difference between those feelings, especially when one is analysing horror movies and/or gothic novels.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Friday Eve everyone.

Kate xo.

A Quiet Place.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #moviemonday. 

I’m continuing to embrace spooky season so today’s movie discussion is all about A Quiet Place. 

Let’s dive into Movie Monday. 

A Quiet Place was released in 2018 and the movie was directed by John Krasinski. 

Plot

I’m going to start off by saying that I find the premise of this movie really interesting. The movie follows a family who must survive in a world where they cannot make any noise. The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world where monsters lurk. These monsters have an extremely keen sense of hearing so if you make any noise, they will find you. 

Characters. 

The only characters in the movie are Lee and Evelyn Abbott and their children, Reagan, who is deaf, Marcus, and Beau. Evelyn is also pregnant with their fourth child. The family are the movie’s protagonists and the terrifying creatures they must hide from are the movie’s antagonists. 

The creatures react to the slightest noise, and as usual there will be no spoilers here, but even the smallest of noises can have very dangerous, even fatal consequences. 

Evelyn and Lee are concerned parents, preoccupied with keeping their children safe in this dangerous world. Lee and Evelyn are sacrificing parents, they do everything in their power to protect their children. The children must also grow up in a world where they can make no noise, which is a very unnatural thing to do. The movie also gives audiences an insight into what life may be like for someone who is deaf, as the character Reagan is deaf and she was played by a deaf actress. Her character cannot hear anything that is going on and she cannot hear the noises that attract the monsters, so the only indicator of danger Reagan has are the reactions of the people around her. When she sees their terrified expressions, she knows she is in danger. 

Themes

A major theme of this movie is a parent’s love for their child. This unconditional, undying love is what motivates Lee and Evelyn to keep going, to fight, to stay safe. They will do anything for their children. 

This movie has been the topic of many conversations, and many people have expressed different opinions about what they interpret the movie to mean. Director John Krasinski stated that to him, the movie is preoccupied with parenthood. 

I think that the idea of a parent fearing for their child’s safety, and worrying about whether or not they will be able to keep their children safe from danger is a common theme in many movies however since this is a horror movie, the danger comes in the form of literal monsters but I think that the monsters can be argued to be a metaphor for real life dangers that exist in our world. It doesn’t matter how careful we are, unfortunately there will most likely always be some kind of danger lurking, and sometimes parents cannot protect their children from those dangers no matter how hard they try. 

I would argue that another major theme of this movie is the power of fear. Fear is what drives these characters to live their lives the way they do. Fear of harm coming to their children is what keeps Lee going, he is determined to discover the creature’s weakness as knowing this would give him a better chance of beating the creature, which would in turn give his family a better chance of survival. There is a theme of doing what needs to be done that runs through this movie, and so I would say that this is a movie about fear and survival – and these themes of fear and survival are presented through a family unit. 

Structure

This movie operates within a three act structure, and I think it is very impressive how this movie gradually builds tension with very little spoken dialogue. The characters communicate using sign language, and they can only talk very carefully under certain circumstances so the movie is almost a totally silent movie. 

I think that because noise attracts the monsters, one of the scariest parts of this movie is the silent tension. Audiences are hoping that the characters, especially the children, do stay quiet because if they don’t, the monster will appear. 

This is a movie that really focuses on sound, and on a lack of sound. This movie does a lot of showing not telling, and audiences pick up on what is happening based on facial expressions, and character reactions. 

The three act narrative is usually made up of three sections, the beginning which is sometimes called the setup, the middle which is sometimes called the confrontation, and the end which is sometimes called the resolution. 

The second act, so the middle of the movie where the confrontation is occurring, is usually the most action packed part of the movie, it is where most of the plot occurs and since A Quiet Place operates within this three act structure, I would say that the body of this story happens in act two.

I think this is a really simple plot that contains arguably complex themes. The story however is extremely straight forward, the setup is immediate – straight away audiences know the stakes, the family cannot make noise because they’ll be in extreme danger if they do. Audiences know that something bad is going to happen at some point and the tension arises from waiting for that bad thing to occur. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The pacing is easy to follow, the tension builds gradually, and we get a fast paced, high stakes ending. 

Final Thoughts. 

I mentioned last week that I don’t love horror movies because I’m squeamish, but there are some that I really enjoy despite horror definitely not being my favourite genre. A Quiet Place is one of those movies. I enjoy this movie because I enjoy the premise, and I think the fact that this movie is scary mostly because it makes audiences sit in a tense silence is very impressive. It is a creative story that builds fear in a unique way. I also enjoy the movie because of it’s simplicity. The plot is really straight forward and yet the movie has sparked many conversations and it was massively popular. Overall I’m very glad that I decided to watch this movie, and I would watch it again. 

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen A Quiet Place? 

Kate xo. 

How To Enjoy Horrors.

Hello everyone and welcome to another #fridayschoice.

Today I am going to be talking about how I enjoy horror films even though I am a very squeamish person. I thought that this would be the perfect topic for the first Friday of October because we are in spooky season after all, and for the next few weeks there will be horror movies everywhere.

I will start off by saying that I never really enjoyed horror movies. I never understood the appeal of being scared. I never got that thrill. I hate blood, and I hate gore, and I am so jumpy that any jump scares would have me hiding behind a cushion.

I have slowly started to enjoy horror movies. I think this development has come from studying films in college. I have always enjoyed watching movies since I was young, but in the last three years I have really developed an appreciation for the art of films. I love looking at behind-the-scenes specials. I love analysing shots, and different film techniques. I love comparing one director’s style to another’s. I think doing all of this allowed me to look beyond the blood and gore and actually begin to enjoy horror movies.

Now I’m still squeamish. I think I always will be, but lately I have had a realisation. I used to say ‘I hate horror movies.’, but I have come to realise that I don’t hate horror movies. There are many movies that I love the plot of, the premise of, I mentioned in this week’s #moviemonday how much I love the score of Sleepy Hollow, I love Tim Burton’s nod to German Expressionism in Sweeney Todd, I love the score of that movie too, I love the complex, layered, nuanced story of Sweeney Todd. I love the characters. This is just one example of a horror movie that I have really come to love. What do I hate? The blood. The sight of blood still makes me feel sick, and it most likely always will but I don’t actually hate horror movies, I just hate the blood. Knowing this, I am able to watch a movie like Sweeney Todd, and I have watched it enough times now to know when I should look away, and now I can enjoy this movie for it’s many other wonderful aspects, and I simply look away for the really bloody parts.

Here’s some tips on how to enjoy horror even if you’re squeamish like me, so you don’t miss out on all the Halloween horror fun.

Look up the parental guidance review. This review should tell you how scary other people found the movie to be, and it will usually tell you how many instances of violence occur in the movie, it will tell you how many times certain language is used etc. So if you see that a movie only has two or three instances of blood and gore, then you’ll know there may be only two scenes that you don’t want to look at as opposed to missing the whole movie.

Watch a horror movie with a friend who has already seen it. I am so lucky because I have really good friends who know the sight of blood turns my stomach, but they also know what a movie lover I am so there are times when they might say to me ‘I think you’ll really enjoy this movie, and I’ll tell you when to shut your eyes.’ So that is what we do, we watch the movie, and they’ll tell me when to look away, and then they’ll tell me when to look again, and most of the time when we do this, I end up really enjoying the movie and I’m glad I only looked away for a few minutes rather than not watch it at all.

Not all horrors are bloody. If you say you don’t like horror movies, you may be like me and only dislike one aspect of a horror movie. So ask yourself, if it was not for this one thing, would I enjoy this? For me it was blood. I used to say that I would love this movie or that movie because the story is really interesting but I just can’t watch blood, and now I have a way around that, when those moments play out onscreen, I simply don’t look. Figure out whether you don’t like horror or whether you don’t like an aspect of horror because if you can overcome the one detail you don’t like, you may really enjoy the movie.

Don’t feel pressured to see the movie in the cinema. If you don’t love horrors but all your friends are going to see one, don’t feel bad if you sit the movie out. You can always meet your friends afterwards. It is important to remember that seeing a movie in the cinema is different to watching it at home. At home you can pause it, leave the room, lower the volume down, and leave the lights on. The cinema is dark, and you’ll also be seeing something for the first time with a group of people who are also seeing it for the first time, so no one can tell you when to look away. I think that if you’re trying your hand at horror movies and you already know that you don’t love them, it is better to watch something for the first time in the comfort of your own home, so that way if you want to turn it off you can – and there is nothing wrong with that.

I am very happy that I have found ways to be able to watch horror movies with my friends and enjoy them. It means that I can be involved in spooky season, and lean into the fun of Halloween. Now that I have figured out what I do and don’t enjoy, I am able to watch a horror movie, and now that there are aspects of horror that I enjoy, I can now understand the fun of watching a horror movie. I like to be intrigued, I like to be curious, I like to be a little unsettled. I love an eerie atmosphere. I just don’t like blood – so if you’re squeamish like me then maybe this #fridayschoice will help you this Halloween.

This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed it. Do you love horror or hate it? Do you love the thrill? Are you squeamish like me? Let me know.

Kate xo.

Discussing Gothic Novels.

Defining The Gothic Novel. 

Hello everyone and welcome back to Theory Thursday. Last week I discussed the first-person perspective, you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.

 Today’s #theorythursday is all about the gothic novel. So let’s dive in.

What makes a novel a gothic novel? 

The gothic novel is a genre of literature that most often presents themes of death, decay, mystery, and romance. 

There are elements found in gothic novels that are almost considered signatures of the genre. These elements are things such as the setting being very gloomy. In gothic novels it is very common that the weather is terrible. Gothic novels are often set in big, intimidating, hulking places such as sprawling manors in the middle of nowhere, abbeys, castles, etc. These places are often implied to be haunted or associated with some kind of conspiracy or mystery. Gothic novels often present a plot that involves uncovering the truth or solving a long-time mystery. 

Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (published in 1764) is often named the first gothic novel. The novel is set in a castle, mysterious deaths occur, the main protagonist must figure out a prophecy, and unveil the truth as within the castle there has been a lot of lies, mistrust, and mistaken identifies, so you can see from this novel, certain elements stand out – the castle, the deaths, the search for the truth – these are the elements that I have pointed out above as being considered to be gothic elements. 

While gothic novels can contain elements of horror, I would argue that gothic novels and horror novels are different. In my opinion, the intent behind a gothic novel is very different to the intent behind a horror novel. 

A prominent idea that can be found in gothic novels is this idea of playing with the reader’s perception of safety. One might assume that one’s home is a safe place. Many narratives present the idea that home is where the character will find sanctuary, and all will be well once the character returns home, however in gothic novels, this idea is often inverted and home becomes a dangerous place. Home becomes somewhere to escape from. Home becomes the place where mystery, and danger, and death lurks. 

If I were to give my opinion on the difference between horror and a gothic novel, I would say that the difference becomes clear when you read something like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Castle of Otranto and then compare it to a novel written by Stephen King. 

The difference I believe becomes clear when you think about what sort of feelings these different texts evoke. Something like The Castle of Otranto in my opinion, will evoke feelings of dread, some passages may make the reader tense, or curious. The novel may make you very intrigued. You want to solve the mystery, you want to find the truth whereas I believe that King’s novels evoke feelings of fear. They are often scary, and disturbing, and the stuff of nightmares, and for many people that is what makes them appealing. There is a thrill that comes from being scared which is why people go to see horror movies, but being scared and feeling tense are two very different feelings, and the intent to intrigue someone, or unsettle someone, or make someone curious, is very different to the intent to scare someone – so I think this is one of the key differences between a gothic novel and a horror novel. 

I think that the gothic novel is one of the more complicated areas of literature to explain because the gothic does overlap so much with horror, and elements of horror can be found in gothic novels however they are not one and the same. 

There will usually be elements of horror found in a gothic text, however there are some horrors that are in no way gothic. They are simply horror, and I will speak about some of these texts later on in the month of October. 

This week’s #moviemonday was about a gothic horror, however I have a movie lined up for later on in the month as we get closer to Halloween that is not gothic at all in my opinion. So while this may be a slightly more confusing topic, I think that with practice, and with more reading, and more movie watching, it does become easier to identify what is a gothic text and what isn’t. 

Why is it important to understand what a gothic novel is? 

I felt it was important to explain what a gothic novel is because this month’s #bookofthemonth is a gothic novel, and I mentioned on Monday that I think Ichabod Crane is a very gothic character, and without context, that’s just a descriptive word. If I didn’t explain, I’d just be calling things gothic and readers may not have any idea what that means or some people may hear the word gothic and automatically assume horror, and as I said, while they are similar, they are not the exact same thing. 

I think that the gothic novel is a very interesting genre of literature. I feel that people who maybe don’t enjoy horror because maybe they’re squeamish or maybe they don’t enjoy being afraid, may enjoy a gothic because a gothic doesn’t necessarily scare you. It can, but it can also intrigue you. A gothic novel may appeal to people who enjoy mysteries, who enjoy eerie stories rather than bloody ones. I would argue that a gothic novel can present more layered and nuanced themes than a horror can, however that is just my opinion. People may disagree with that, and that is fine. 

I think it could be said that a gothic novel may have more impact because it may prompt questions and thoughts whereas a horror may simply scare you in the moment and give you an adrenaline rush etc, but you may not think about it again later. 

I think it is important to be aware of the gothic novel, just like I think it is important to be aware of all genres because a broader range of knowledge about genres can widen our reading, and this can broaden and enhance our enjoyment of literature. 

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. If there are any questions or comments, feel free to drop them below. 

Happy Friday Eve!

Kate xo. 

Sleepy Hollow.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Movie Monday. Today is the first #moviemonday of spooky season, and I am so excited about the next few weeks because there is a lot of fun, spooky, and different content to come here on Katelovesliterature.com. 

Today I am talking about another movie that was directed by Tim Burton – Sleepy Hollow.

Let’s dive into #moviemonday. 

This movie was released in 1999. 

I would say that Sleepy Hollow is a gothic horror film, and if you’d like to learn more about what makes a text a gothic text, then be sure to tune into this week’s Theory Thursday, because I am going to be talking about what it means to be a gothic text in more detail. Let’s get into the plot. 

Plot.

Sleepy Hollow is loosely based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The book was published in 1820. Set in 1799, the plot follows police constable Ichabod Crane as he sets off from New York to Sleepy Hollow to investigate vicious murders that have taken place there. The cause of death? Decapitation. When Ichabod arrives in Sleepy Hollow, he learns that the locals believe that the killer is a menacing, ghostly figure. Locals believe in the supernatural tale of an undead headless horseman, a soldier from the American Revolutionary War. They believe the terrifying figure is riding around Sleepy Hollow on his black steed, searching for his lost head. Ichabod continues to investigate as he is not content to believe this tale. 

Characters. 

Ichabod Crane is the movie’s main protagonist. Crane is a quirky character. He is very clever and very shrewd. He believes in incorporating science into police work. (Today, we would call this forensic evidence), and in most adaptations, he is a tall and lanky man. 

I think that Ichabod is quite a relatable character, and I would argue that audiences view Sleepy Hollow through his eyes. He is intrigued by the supernatural tale that the locals spin, but he continues to investigate, and something that I really appreciate is the fact that Ichabod is a squeamish man. I would also suggest that Ichabod is also a modern thinker, based on the fact that he believes that science will aid investigations. I would also argue that this belief in the need for modern science is what makes Ichabod a very gothic character as science and gothic are often linked – something that I will discuss in more detail on Theory Thursday. 

Katrina is Ichabod’s love interest. Katrina is kind and beautiful, but I would also say that she is not an overly important character. She is involved in the plot but I do not think she is integral to it. Unfortunately she is somewhat one dimensional, as I don’t feel she has much of an arc, however you could also make the point that this is not a romantic story, it is a horror story. 

The ensemble of characters that Ichabod meets in Sleepy Hollow all play different and important roles. There is the magistrate, the pastor, the notary, the midwife, the doctor, and the many locals that Ichabod gets to know during his time in Sleepy Hollow. 

Usually when I am breaking down the characters in a movie, I take some time to identify the movie’s antagonist. I talk about their actions, their reasons etc. Usually when I do this, the movie’s antagonist is introduced very early on in the movie and the plot plays out as follows; protagonist introduced, antagonist introduced, the body of the movie is protagonist vs antagonist. 

I have decided that I will not be discussing the antagonist of Sleepy Hollow because doing so would spoil the movie and as always, there will be no spoilers here. 

While this movie is a horror with supernatural elements, it is also in my opinion, a mystery. Ichabod is investigating the murders of Sleepy Hollow, and it is by doing so that he begins to put the pieces together, so the audience connect the dots along with him, and we begin to see who the antagonist is as he does, so I do not want to spoil the investigation. 

It is an excellent mystery with many twists and turns, and if you want to watch an intriguing, mysterious, and spooky movie in the run up to Halloween then I would highly recommend making some popcorn and watching Sleepy Hollow.

With that being said, let’s move onto themes. I am going to do my best to discuss the movie’s themes without giving away the mystery so wish me luck!

Themes. 

There are quite a few complex themes presented in Sleepy Hollow. I would suggest that the movie’s most prominent themes are the depiction of greed, and the want for revenge. 

I cannot really say who is greedy or who wants revenge, because that would reveal who the murderer is and if you wish to find that out – go watch the movie! I will say that the driving force behind greed, and the revenge, is money. The want for money, power, and status is what drives certain characters to do the horrific things that they do, and I suppose it could be suggested that horror movies like Sleepy Hollow could be suggested to be very intense metaphors that represent what greed can do to people. The lengths that some people will go to for money and power is very frightening, and I think that this movie demonstrates that fact particularly well. 

Another theme that this movie presents is the idea of questioning. Ichabod is not satisfied with the local tale of a ghostly headless horseman who is on a killing spree. He wants to find the truth, and so he investigates, and he continues to investigate despite the dangers that come with doing so. 

I would also argue that this movie presents a theme of religion vs the supernatural, and this is a common theme that does exist in gothic stories. 

As we moved away from the Romantic Age – I will explain the Romantic Age at some point in the future on a Theory Thursday, but for now all you need to know is that the Romantic Age celebrated wonder, emotions, individuality, and all things natural – the sun, the stars, the sky, etc. 

As we moved away from the Romantic Age, scholars began to look at science, at what science could do for society, and there is a particular tension that exists between science and we’ll say tradition, because some people feared that the evolution of science would interfere with what was ‘natural’. There was a tension between science and institutions such as the church, because churches felt that it is not up to any one of us to play God. 

Questions about science, and what it does for society, and how we need it, but also suggestions that at times it goes too far, appear in many gothic novels such as The Castle of Otranto, and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of course Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which is October’s #bookofthemonth. 

The subject of science and what it can do for society is also present in Sleepy Hollow as I’ve already stated, Ichabod Crane is a very inquisitive man who is all for using modern science to aid police procedures – at one point in time exhuming a body to search for evidence would have been viewed as immoral but today, forensic science is a crucial part of an investigation, and often it is the evidence found during a post-mortem exam that leads to an investigation being solved. We would not have things like DNA corroborated evidence if it were not for scientific advancements so we need enquiring minds. 

Structure.  

I love how this movie was shot. We are presented with what I would describe as an almost ‘eerie fairytale’ – which again, is very gothic as a feature of the gothic is inverting the idea of safety – I will elaborate on this on Theory Thursday. 

The movie is mostly set outside, and every shot is dark and misty. It is very picturesque, but in a really unsettling way. The movie is so dark, it almost looks as if it was shot in black and white, and I feel like this really lends itself to the plot. 

Ichabod Crane is out of his element. He is in a strange new place, he is the outsider in a small town – an idea that I love by the way. I will discuss this at some point in the future but I feel as though ‘stranger arrives in a small town where they are the outsider and all the locals are close-knit’ is a concept that always has the potential to be a really good story. 

Ichabod is the outsider. He is the ‘scientific one’. He is questioning everything in a place where the locals, especially the town elders would prefer it if he questioned nothing. He must do his job, he must learn who he can trust, and I feel as though the dark, eerie, monochromatic shots really heighten the outsider effect. The place looks creepy, it looks unsettling, it looks as though something is not right, and well something is not right. People are losing their heads. 

I love Danny Elfman’s score. I think the score is what makes the movie so scary. His score is haunting, and intense, and I think it is a brilliant example of how key a score can be to a movie, particularly to a horror movie, because I think it could be argued that a lot of the horror in horror movies does not come from the dialogue, it comes from the silence within the dialogue, and the spaces between the action. 

I’ll pose this question – which is scarier, the attack scene itself or the scene before the attack scene, where the victim is silent, and terrified, and hoping they will be left alone? 

I’m sure many people will have different answers to this and that is fine, it is a subjective question. I would argue that the scene before the attack is scarier. It is the build-up. It is filled with suspense. It is when we are holding our breath, wondering if the character will be safe. We may think okay danger is about to occur, but when? Pay attention to scenes like this, because I bet you will notice that in those moments, the score becomes very important. It will either get very quiet before a loud, scary, violent crescendo, or it will remain eerily quiet, and shrill to the ear. I could talk about scores in movies all day, and I think that Danny Elfman’s score in Sleepy Hollow is absolutely brilliant. 

I really like this movie’s pacing. It does not feel too long or too short, and I enjoy the flash-back scenes we get from Ichabod’s point-of-view, because they give us another insight into his background, and into his character, which is important because as I said, audiences experience Sleepy Hollow through his eyes. 

Final Thoughts

My overall thoughts are that this is a great movie to kick off the month of October. I would suggest that it is a great movie to watch if you’d like to dabble in the horror genre but you are quite squeamish. There are some bloody, violent moments. I won’t pretend otherwise, but coming from someone who hates gore, and cannot watch blood, I love this movie. 

It is eerie, and intriguing, and I think the investigation/mystery aspect of this movie is why I enjoy it so much, and why I can push myself through the bloodier moments, it is because the mystery is very compelling, and I think the way the dots become connected and clearer as we go on, is done in a very satisfying way. 

I’d also watch this movie to appreciate the score alone. So, if you’re looking for a new movie then I’d say give it a go, and if you do love horror and have not seen Sleepy Hollow yet then I’d say you are missing out. Go watch the movie and judge it for yourself!

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen Sleepy Hollow? Are you a fan of all things horror? Let me know. 

Kate xo.