I’m A Ghost With the Most: Beetlejuice (1988)

I’m the ghost with the most!

I grew up watching Beetlejuice secretly as my mother hated the titular character. I did watch the TV show, as she didn’t mind that as much but I haven’t seen the actual film in a very long time.

So I was thinking, what better way to start off Horrorfest than to cross off a “Tim Burton” film off my list of things to review with Beetlejuice (1988).

We start off the film with Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) releasing a giant spider outside. How is he not freaked out? It’s GIANT! So weird .

Anyways, Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland are a couple happy to spend their vacation fixing up their country house (to each their own). Barbara’s cousin Jane comes to visit and is trying to sell their home as she has had some really great offers from a city couple but Barb and Adam say no. Really Jane?

If Jane was my cousin we would no longer be on speaking terms. I can’t believe she’s actually sending photos of her cousin’s house to people to try and sell it; that’s right selling a home she doesn’t even OWN! Then she gives a mean dig about Barbara’s miscarriages. RUDE!

As I was watching this, I started thinking cousin Jane reminds me of someone…but who? Then it hit me! Cousin Jane is so much like Mrs. Elton from Emma. I mean think about it: believe she knows everything, makes little dogs to others, writing to find Jane Fairfax a position when she was asked not to! Cousin Jane is Mrs. Elton!

Later the Maitlands go out driving to pick up more supplies for their model town. As cousin Jane clunkly inferred, the Maitlands have tried to have a child to no success and Adam has made the model town his “baby”. When they are driving home they swerve to miss a dog that runs into the road and find themselves dead.

They two don’t realize they are dead at first, until Adam tries to leave the house and they discover that if he does they will be killed by sand worms. They then discover some other odd things like the fact that they no longer have a reflection and a copy of The Handbook for the Recently Deceased. At first they choose to ignore it and try to continue their lives but the house has been sold to a new family, the Deetz Family. Charles Deetz (Jeffrey Jones) is a former real estate developer; his wife Delia (Catherine O’ Hara) is a sculptor; and Lydia (Winona Ryder), daughter from his first marriage, is a goth and an aspiring photographer.

The Maitlands try to scare them out as ghosts do, but Charles and Delia don’t even blink and eye. The Deetz family has their own issues. Charlies recently suffered from a nervous breakdown, his anxiety is off the charts; Delia and Lydia snipe at each other at every turn, and no one seems happy.

Current mood of the film (from a Series of Unfortunate Events TV show)

The Maitlands hang out in the only space that the Deetz can’t get to, their attic. But after Jane stops by to drop off a skeleton key, that’s the first place Lydia wants to head to. She tries to get in, but they keep pushing her out.

The actor who plays Charles, Jeffrey Jones, usually plays terrible characters, but this is the first one I can think of that I actually liked and connected to. He wants to relax, wishes everyone would give him peace, tries to birdwatch but stops as birds are terrible (I don’t like birds), and instead starts looking at everyone’s houses and using his real estate agent eye to inspect them.

Hmm…

Meanwhile, the Maitlands having finally started reading their Handbook for the Recently Deceased, (which contains an ad for Betelgeuse) have crossed over to the afterlife and find it to be a DMV of a horror waiting room. I love all the different “deaths” of the characters waiting. It’s like a mini A Thousand Ways to Die with every “death” you can imagine. The special effects, prosthetics, costumes, etc. are amazing. They really deserved winning that award.

In the afterlife all their who are the DMV-esque caseworkers are those who die by suicide (as seen the Miss Argentina who slit her wrists, the guy who stepped into traffic, and the man hanging). The Maitlands discover that they must haunt the house for 125 years, or else, and return home to try and remove the Deetzs. The Maitlands want to try and hire Beetlejuice, but their caseworker Juno warns against him as he’s a troublemaker and tells them to study their book. She also warns them he is hanging out in their town’s model cemetery and saying his name three times will summon him.

The Maitlands try to do the work and scare the Deetz family but are not at all successful as Charles just thinks Lydia is messing around, Delia is knocked out on Valium so it doesn’t even register to her, and Lydia thinks the “haunting” is her dad and stepmom trying to roam the house in sheets as some kind of weird sex.

When Lydia does realize they are real ghosts she isn’t scared at all, as a goth girl she has seen a ton of horror films and is not easily frightened. Instead she charges full speed ahead at this supernatural spooky phenomenon, remind you of anyone? (Like Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey?)

Adam: Well, how is it you see us and nobody else can?

Lydia: Well, I’ve read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: ‘live people ignore the strange and unusual”. I myself am strange and unusual.

But seriously, Lydia and Catherine Morland are so similar. They both love gothic and spooky things, their parents don’t understand them, they are both a bit naive, and they like trying to investigate (Catherine Mrs. Tilney’s room and Lydia the attic).

I love how nerdy and not scary the Maitlands are. Like when Alec Baldwin calls the two “ghoulish creatures” it is so hard to not laugh at him. Ghoulish? Really?

The Maitlands decide to “cheat” and try to hire the bio-exorcist to remove the humans, Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton). They say his name three times and find themselves transported to the model town Adam built and dig Betelgeuse up. It’s pretty amazing how they take someone as handsome and charming as Michael Keaton and make him so perverted and oafish. To me Betelgeuse is the equivalent of having to spend your time with Mr. Wattlesbrook from Austenland.

Keaton originally didn’t want the role as he didn’t understand what exactly was asked of him. He only agreed after Tim Burton took him to see Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. I imagine he said he wanted a crude and pervy Pee-Wee. (Ironic as how a couple of years after this film pervert would be used to describe Pee-Wee).

Betelgeuse is extremely gross in his behavior. He also looks very odd as if he is a man out of time. Apprantly Michael Keaton came up with not only 90% of the dialogue but much of the character’s look himself; he told the makeup department he wanted a moldy face, electric shocked hair, and clothes from all different time periods.

Like I mentioned before Betelgeuse is an extremely gross individual, basically a human fart and Barbara does NOT want to have him in their house or around Lydia. Barbara decides to send him back home and comes up with her own idea to get rid of the Deetz family. The two possess a Deetz dinner party and force them and their guests to sing and dance to “Day-O” by Harry Belefonte. It is a truly strange and fantastical scene. At the end their plate of shrimps reach out as arms and and grab everyone’s faces.


Tim Burton thought this scene wouldn’t go over well, but turned out to be wrong as it is one of the most remembered scenes from the entire film.

Instead of scaring the away the Deetz family, all this does is make Charles want to turn the house and town into a supernatural tourist trap. In fact all at the dinner party enjoyed it and see it as entrainment not fright.

The Maitlands are at their wit’s end and decide they need help and bring Betelgeuse into play. He decides to step up the scaring and we have one of the creepiest scenes in the whole film, Betelgeuse becomes a snake. It is truly terrifying, those eyes! This scene had been filmed before Michael Keaton was cast as Betelgeuse, so some additional film was shot for the scene using a layer to make it look more like him.

From unknown.

Lydia gets mad at the Maitlands as she saw them as friends and them hiring Betelgeuse has broken her trust in them.

The Maitlands are angry as they don’t want Betelgeuse to hurt the Deetzs, they just want him to scare them away. They say his name three times again and send him back to the model town that Adam built in the attic. Betelgeuse is really upset with their criticism, but decides to party and heads to a strip club in town. I do not remember that scene at all and Adam doesn’t even remember making it.

The Maitlands get called to the DMV and Juno reads them the riot act. They have seriously screwed up as ghosts; befriending Lydia, being photographed, losing their handbook, letting out Betelgeuse, etc. Their caseworker made the strip club to distract Betelgeuse until everything can be straightened out. Juno won’t let them return home until they show her their creepy plan, this scene was always the one stamped in my brain. Terrifying!

Back at the house, Charles starts second guessing his decision to move there and even his plans for the tourist town. Lydia is really depressed and contemplates suicide. Before she takes her life, Lydia goes up to the attic to talk to the Maitlands and finds Betelgeuse who tries to convince her to free him by saying his name three times. I remember my friends and I would do this all the time and we were always disappointed when nothing would happen. Lydia is stopped from freeing him by the return of the Maitlands who dissuade her from trying to commit suicide. They also have decided to give up scaring the Deetzs and try to live in harmony.

Charles tries to pitch his idea of a horror town, but his boss is not impressed. But even without “real ghosts”, I’m with Charles! This is a money maker idea! There are so many that would love to go to a Horrortown. I know I would.

Charles’ boss demands proof and they have Otto (the interior designer) perform a seance, but unfortunately he actually starts exorcising them instead. As they are fading away, dying forever this time, Lydia is heartbroken to see the only people who really “get her” “dying” and begs Betelgeuse for help. He agrees, but only if Lydia marries him.

Now why would a centuries old ghost want to get married to a 14-year old? Its not because she is a little girl, but because he wants to be tethered to the mortal world. If he married a mortal, then he will not have to go back to the afterlife but can remain above ground forever. Seeing it as the only way to save her friends, Lydia agrees.

So this next scene wben Betelgeuse comes with the Carousel head and the arms that stretch I’m pretty sure one of my friends had that toy. Like it was crazy how much merchandise there was after this film came out. I think the TV show helped with it, but it was literally everywhere.

To be fair even though Betelgeuse is totally rotten, at least he honors his business contract. He saves the Maitlands and gets rid of all the interlopers. He also changes to a snazzy red suit, gets Lydia a gown, ties up her parents (but brings them to the wedding), and brings in a monster minister.

Time for a wedding!

Keaton is just a phenomenal actor in this, with exaggerated lines and true comedic timing, just perfect.

All try to stop the wedding, but Betelgeuse stops them. But no matter what, Barbara keeps trying. Like he zips her mouth shut, she opens it. When Betelgeuse bolts it, she tries to remove the bolt. When Betelgeuse sends her away, Barbara comes riding in on a sandworm that consumes Betelgeuse and sends him back to the afterlife. Barb is the real MVP.

Time passes and the Deetz family and the Maitlands live in harmony; Lydia loving her new extended family, the Maitlands love having a child to parent, and Charles finally gets the peace he’s been after.

Betelgeuse having “died” again must wait his DMV turn, getting his head shrunk when he tries to cut in line. Oh that Betelgeuse!

So after watching this post Jane Austen I have concluded cousin Jane is totally Mrs. Elton, Lydia is Catherine Morland, and Beetlejuice is Mr. Wattlesbrook. Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

Also with the Austen connection, I guess this should go on my Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans and Catherine Morland’s Viewing List? What day you? Yay or nay?

For more Tim Burton films, go to Peculiarities, Monsters, and Time Travel.: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

For more Winona Ryder, go to I Just Killed My Best Friend. And Your Worst Enemy. Same Difference.: Heathers (1988)

For more Michael Keaton, go to A Man Dressed as a Giant Bat, Psychotic Deformed Man Wrecking Havoc, and a Zombie Cat Woman…A Batman Christmas: Batman Returns (1992)

For more ghosts, go to Ghosts or Madness?: Turn of the Screw (2009)

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to You Have Thirteen Hours in Which to Solve the Labyrinth, Before Your Baby Brother Becomes One of Us…Forever.: Labyrinth (1986)

For more from Catherine Morland’s Viewing List, go to A Legendary Jewel Goes Missing, A Country Manor Full Of Secretive People, Which Guest is the Thief?: The Moonstone (2016)

Happy Halloween Darlings: Horrorfest IX

It’s that time of the year again! Time for another Horrorfest, 31 days of horror, mystery, monsters, etc.

So I started Horrorfest back when I first began blogging. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it, the direction I wanted to go in. Since I like to watch scary movies every day in October, I decided to review them, and I had so much I fun I continued every year.

I know some people aren’t interested in it or would think it has nothing to do with my blog’s title, but you know who would love it and be so into horror films?

When I started this, I used a lot of stills from the movies I was reviewing and ended up with a a bunch of photos I couldn’t reuse for future posts. Since then I try to add less, unless I think I can use it for future posts or that it is crucial to the story. Instead I reuse old photos and I try to caption each photo with what film it came from, but at times I forget.

from Clueless

Over the years I have established a set of rules and annual films categories.

Rules are there must be at least one film or TV show episode:

  • From every decade (1930s-2020s)
  • At least one Alfred Hitchcock
  • At least one animated film
  • One made by Disney
  • One Stephen King film
  • One made by Tim Burton
  • One starring Vincent Price
  • And one in some way is Jane Austen related

The Jane Austen one is the hardest to do, although two years ago I had several. There was the Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans  Alta MarAKA High Seas, “Death By Persuasion” from Midsomer Murders, Rebecca, and Strong Woman Bong Soonalong with the film that led to Sense and Sensibility (1995) being made-Dead Again

Two years ago I finally reviewed Northanger Abbey (2007), which started a new tradition, #CelebrateHalloweenwithNorthangerAbbey, something I will be continuing every year! So be sure to join me!

Another tradition I added a few years ago is dressing Jane up in costume every year. Last year I did Jane as a Ghostbusters.

This year I did Jane as Batgirl but I’m not 100% happy about it. Hope you all enjoy it though.

Well, I hope you enjoy this year’s picks-so far we have ghosts, monsters, gothic tales, vampires, mummies, and more!

For the original Horrorfest, go to I Don’t Belong in the World: Carnival of Souls (1962)

For Horrorfest II, go to There Are Many Strange Legends in the Amazon: The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

For Horrorfest III, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart: The Wolf Man (1941)

For Horrorfest IV, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

For Horrorfest V, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

For Horrorfest VI, go to One of Our Guests is a Werewolf, I Know It.: The Beast Must Die (1974)

For Horrorfest VII, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For Horrorfest VIII, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For Horrorfest IX, go to Time for You to Awaken, Master. Time for You to Go Out: The Return of the Vampire (1943)

For Horrofest XI, go to No Haunt Me Then!…I Know That Ghosts Have Wandered On The Earth. Be With Me Always…Drive Me Mad, Only Do Not Leave Me in This Dark Alone…I Cannot Live Without My Life! I Cannot Die Without My Soul.: Wuthering Heights (1939)

An Appearance of Goodness

An Appearance of Goodness by Heather Moll

I received this advanced reader copy free in exchange for an honest review.

What if in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy gave Elizabeth his letter at Rosing Park, immediately left to tell Charles Bingley his regret at separating him and Jane, and let Mr. Bennet know what happened to his sister?

What if Mr. Bennet never let Lydia run off with Mrs Forester and the officers? What if she never was compromised and forced to marry Wickham?

Hmm…?

Well that is the alternate universe this adaption takes place. In this Bingley immediately came to ask for Jane’s hand, the two married, and as Mr. Bingley was told through Bingley not only what happened to Georgiana (but also of Wickham’s debts), Mr. Bennet the family were not disgraced and Darcy wasn’t needed to save the day.

Instead Mr. and Mrs. Bingley (plus Elizabeth) have been living at Netherfield Park. A very happy circumstance for all, except that Mrs. Bennet comes too often with her friends. Mr. Bingley decides a break is needed and intends to take Jane to meet all his friends this summer, ending their vacation in Scarborough. He also invites his sister Caroline Bingley, his other sister Mrs. Hurst, her husband Mr. Hurst, and Elizabeth to accompany him.

As they travel they have fun meeting all Bingley’s friends, stopping of course to visit his best friend; Mr. Darcy at Pemberley. Mr. Darcy has been in anguish over his rejected proposal, but in light of what had happened he tried to fix his mistakes, continuously works hard better himself, and is eager to host a party at his beloved home. Staying with him will be Georgina Darcy: her companion/governess Mrs. Annesley; his friend Lewis Balfour; Balfour’s sister and rich widow, Mrs Lanyon; Mr. Utterson, a newer acquaintance training in law; along with Mr. Bingley and his party.

What Mr. Darcy was not expecting was to find Elizabeth along the party. At first the two are rather awkward around each other; but as Darcy’s feelings remain steadfast and loyal to her, he tries his best to show how her words have affected and changed him, while trying not to make her uncomfortable.

Stuck inside due to heavy rainfalls, Elizabeth thought being at Pemberley with Mr. Darcy would be truly terrible. However, the more time she spends there with him; the more she realizes that her view of him was discolored and finds herself not only enjoying time with him but actively seeking it out.

“On closer examination, there was a certain gentleness in his eyes, and often a humour in his look. Had that always been there, or was she now a better observer of him?”

Elizabeth Bennet from An Appearance of Goodness

Elizabeth falls for him and is trying to find a way to show or tell him, when there lovely trip goes to complete ruin. The very heavy rainfalls have caused incredible damage to the fields, crops, bridge, mills, homes, etc. Tensions run high and Darcy is pulled in every directions as he tries to help take care of everything and every one of his tenets. This is not the time to propose as not only is it a very depressing time but he isn’t even sure if he will have anything to offer after all this.

Crying! [Still from The Wolf Man (1941)]

Elizabeth was certain that Mr. Darcy was heading toward a proposal but after all the aftermath of the storms it looks as if that will not be happening anytime in the future. She is heartbroken at all that has happened and wishes she could be there for Mr. Darcy, but as she is just the sister-in-law of his friend she has no place acting as is they are more “familiar”. Elizabeth does all she can while following propriety, but if only she could do more.

Mr. Bingley wants to make things easier on his dear friend Mr. Darcy and will take his party to stay with other friends to help him; leaving Mr. Utterson, Mr. Balfour, and Mrs. Lanyon behind. As Mr. Bingley is going, so will be Elizabeth and any chance of them being more…

Aw!

Luckily, Mrs. Lanyon loves to matchmake, having been instrumental in assisting Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. She asks is Elizabeth could stay and be her companion; and Elizabeth eager to have more time with Mr. Darcy readily agrees.

Mrs. Lanyon right now

Things are still dire and Darcy is hanging on; but knowing he still has chance with Elizabeth has him feeling like things are looking up…except they aren’t.

That’s not good.

While in the middle of clean up the body of Georgiana’s lady’s maid is found in the river. At first Darcy believe her to be Elizabeth as she is wearing her coat, but upon closer examination they discover her the identity and that she has been murdered. How? By a silver candlestick stolen from Pemberley. The reason for the murder is uncertain: could it be she saw something she shouldn’t? Perhaps she was in an illicit relationship? Could she be pregnant and the father not wishing to be in her life? Could she know something the killer does not want to get out?

Wait a minute! This is a mystery?!!! I didn’t realize that. A mystery?!!! I got this!!!

Mystery, you say?

So suspects, after looking into everyone it comes down to the murderer is someone in Darcy’s home. Darcy, Georgiana, Mrs. Annesley, and Mrs. Lanyon are all cleared as r wh have alibis and people to back up their whereabouts. After careful discussion Elizabeth and Darcy discover the only ones who could have murdered the lady’s maid would be either Mr. Balfour or Mr. Utterson.

Time to get on the case!

To be honest, I could not care for either of these characters so I wasn’t upset with them being suspects and was okay with either of them being the villain. I found both to be annoying and odd that Darcy could consider either to be his friends; but as they say love is blind.

Suspect 1: Lewis Balfour

Mr. Darcy has been friends with Mr. Balfour for years and Balfour was there for him when his father passed. Mr. Balfour is biracial (Scottish and Indian) and when his father passes will inherit the family estate. Right now he has no real purpose and lounges about spending money for the fun of it, although he appears to live far outside the allowance given to him by his father (and complains about it).

Balfour is not known to be a maid chasing Lothario and has a pleasant nature. He doesn’t seem to have a reason to murder someone. Could it be him?

Suspect #2: Mr. Utterson

Mr. Utterson is a newer acquaintance to and. Darcy and not as well known to him. Utterson is a second son and is forever in the middle of getting his law degree and lives on an allowance granted by his father. He never seems to have enough money, constantly complaining about the lack of it, along with making very rude jealous remarks.

There are a few stories of Utterson ravishing Lord Poole’s daughter, but rumors aren’t fact and could be true or false. He also has a very mercurial and intense nature. Of course the motive most likely is that he killed for money, possibly stealing; but would Utterson have risked stealing from someone like Mr. Darcy, a man he considered a friend?

Our Regency Scooby-Doo crew is rounded out by the arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam who journeyed to assist in the emergency services. Will these three be able to discover the murderer before he strikes again, or will this be there final case?

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

I enjoyed this novel, especially the mystery aspect, as I love mysteries and try to solve them before the characters do. I was fairly certain I knew who the murderer was and why they did it, and was most pleased to discover that I figured it out. My only criticism on that mystery is that I wish the cover looked a little more mysterious as I didn’t realize it was a whodunit until I saw it on goodreads. Although what should be added I’m not quite sure. Maybe the candlestick that was the murder weapon or a question mark at the end of the title?

I felt that Moll did a great job with Austen’s characters as the Bingleys, Bennets, Georgiana, the Hursts, Colonel Fitzwilliam, etc; were all done well did Austen justice while still being Moll’s creation.

The only thing I felt was not quite right was with Darcy’s character. Bit of a spoiler (not too much) I didn’t like that Darcy and Elizabeth slept together before being married. I’m not saying that didn’t happen in 1813, but I personally feel like Mr. Darcy is too much of a gentleman and so proper that he would wait, especially as he strives to be the nothing like his nemesis, Mr. Wickham.

Moll introduced several new characters and I did enjoy most of them. Utterson and Balfour as I said before really annoyed me as they have money, just not as much as they want, and complain constantly about their lot. At first I was hoping they would just exit the story, but when they turned out to be murder suspects I didn’t mind. As I didn’t like either of them I was content to have either of them turn out to be the killer. By the end of the novel, one of the men is a bit more likable as we are given his story and brought understanding as to why he is so eager for money.

I really loved the character of Mrs. Lanyon a LOT. I myself am biracial and growing up there wasn’t a lot of representation in any type of media. With this novel I really enjoyed how Mrs. Lanyon discusses her interactions with people and the racism and ignorance she faces. Even thought he book is set in 1813, the experiences described are still issues people face today.

My only warning would be that while this book does contain comedy, romance, and mystery; parts of the book are very sad especially in regards to the flooding. Thus far I have only read two of Moll’s books and she seems to be one who enjoys combing multiple elements in a nice balance.

I do recommend for those who enjoy Austen adaptations.

For more by Heather Moll, go to An Affectionate Heart

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Beside Two Rivers

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptions, go to The Clergyman’s Wife + The Question is Mr. Collins Really THAT Bad?

For more Jane Austen adaptations, go to The Emma Project

For more mysteries, go to I Won the Ellery Adams’ September 2020 Giveaway + My Review of the First Two Books in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society Series

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

You all know how much I love spooky and gothic fiction, almost as much as my girl Catherine does.

That’s why I started Catherine Morland’s Reading List, a list of gothic fiction I recommend for my fellow spooky lovers.

When I first saw this book last year I was really excited! I love gothic fiction, and being Mexican; I couldn’t wait to see how the author blended those two components. Mexican culture has a lot of superstitions that would be ripe for a gothic tale.

Noemí Taboada has everything anyone could want in 1950s Mexico City: youth, beauty, and wealth. Well…almost everything. What Noemí really wants to do is continue her education and get her masters in anthropology, but her father refuses to support her as he feels a few years at the university is enough for any woman. To get back at him Noemí dates men her father feels are beneath their family and has become flighty in everything she does; nothing and no one lasting for very long.

However, when Noemí’s father receives a troubling letter from his niece Catalina, he proposes that if Noemí will go to visit Catalina in her home in the country, The High Place, and see if Catalina needs help; he will allow her to continue her education as far as she wants. She readily agrees.

Catalina lost her parents at a young age and she has always been close to the Taboada side. She and Noemí were almost like sisters, but that all changed when Catalina married. There is still so much that Noemí doesn’t know about Catlina’s marriage, she was engaged and planning a civil ceremony before Noemí even knew Catalina had a sweetheart. As the marriage happened so quickly, no one really had time to meet the groom, Virgil Doyle, his family, or discover what his finances were. Senor Taboada, Noemí’s father, was most displeased; and ever since then Virgil whisked Catalina away to his home far from Mexico City where the train barely visits and no phone lines exist. Nothing had been heard from Catalina for months, with all assuming it was because of normal newlywed ardor and the frostiness wiht the family…but that all changed with a rambling, handwritten letter.

Catalina has never been one to keep up a correspondence but when she did it was always typewritten and to the point. This letter is handwritten, rambling, full of strange symbols, and accuses her husband and his family of poisoning her and forcing her to stay when she wishes to leave. She begs Noemí to come and save her. As Senor Taboada discovered after the wedding, the Doyles no longer have any money; just an old British name, a closed mine, and an old home. He’s worried that Catalina has lost her mind and Virgil is forcing her to stay to keep control of her money, or perhaps worse. Maybe she wants to divorce him and he won’t let his meal ticket go? If Senor Taboada were to visit they would all be on their best behavior, but if Noemí were to go, perhaps she can discover the truth and find out if it is just a “woman’s issue” (it’s the 1950s remember) or something far sinister.

Hmmm…

This is only 13 pages in in and I am already hooked. I immediately started conjecturing, might it be a like in Gaslight where the husband drives his wife mad to keep her money? Could there be something supernatural like in The Tomb of Ligeia where the ghost of the first wife torments the new wife? With gothic fiction it can go in any type of direction.

When Noemí arrived she is not reassured. The Doyle’s live very high up the mountain where it is foggy, forest-y, and solitary. The mountainside also has the ruined look from its former mining operations. The Doyle’s are very English, no Spanish is spoken in the house, food is British, they even brought British soil to try to “recreate” the homeland. The house is decrepit and falling apart, although one can see that it “used” to be a beautiful building.

Creepy…

I’ve read a lot of Gothic fiction and this house is already giving me a bad vibe.

Noemí goes to see Catalina who is pale, still, and has no memory of writing any letter. She has to take medication multiple times a day that leaves her sleepy after. Is the medicine really helping her? Or is it to keep her quiet?

In the house the patriarch Howard Doyle. With them is Howard’s son and Catalina’s husband Virgil; along with Howard’s niece Florence, and her son Francis. Howard is ancient and disgusting (along with being racist), but he does appreciate Noemí’s spirit. Florence seems to dislike her from the first moment she set eyes on her and constantly shoots rude barbs at her. The only one who seems nice at all is Francis, but he is very quiet and tries to keep the peace, not one to stand up for himself. Virgil is definitely hiding sometneing, as he is more defensive than he should be, and quickly attacks Noemí’s character.

That night is the first night Noemí has a nightmare, a nightmare about being silenced and something lurking in the moldy yellow-pink wallpaper.

At this point I would have left and gone home to my father bringing him back to rescue Catalina. I’ve read far too many gothic novels and too many books; I would not have stayed. There is something off about all of this.

SUPER creeped

The days are boring and quiet, the solitude is deafening, and Noemí tries to do her best in this crumbling gargoyle, full of mold and depression. Noemí tries to discover the truth surrounding Catalina’s accusations but hardly gets a moment alone with Catalina. When she is able to, much of what Catalina says doesn’t make sense; “it” being in the wall, the walls whispering to her, etc. Is it in her head? Or is there a sinister ploy like in Under Capricorn? One thing was somewhat sensible, Catalina asks Noemí to go down to the village and get a tincture from a healer named Martza.

When Noemí is finally able to wrangle a ride to town, she meets up with the Mexican doctor and tries to get him to take a look at Catalina. However, he is not interested in going, as he does not think he will be welcomed by the Doyle’s. He also shares that there have been many strange happenings in High Place. When the mine was operational the workers would get sick with a high fever, rant, rave, speak in riddles, convulse, and die. It would be quiet for several years and then start up again. There is an English cemetery behind the house while the Mexicans would be sent down the hill for burial.

When Normí meets Martza she discovers Martza was the mystery letter mailer, that’s why the Doyle’s had no clue about it. Catalina gave it to Martza and asked her to mail it for her. Defiantly suspicious. Martza also reveals that the family is cursed. She tells Noemí about an event that happened nearly 20 years ago. Ruth was Howard’s daughter and she was supposed to marry her cousin Michael, but a week before the wedding she shot her groom, mother, aunt, and uncle. Virgil survived as Florence hid him away. After taking care of the others, she then turned the gun on herself. Most of the servants left and the family stayed up on the mountain out of sight. Florence married a stranger named Richard, who was nice, but then started talking about ghosts, spirits, the evil eye, etc. he disappeared and was later found at the bottom of a ravine. The townspeople are afraid of them as everything the Doyles touch rots.

The local doctor comes to call and Noemí questions him. He believes that Catalina is anxious, melancholic, and that her illness has aggravated it. Noemí finds the idea of Catalina anxious odd as she was never one to stress, and asks about what could have caused the depressive state. Virgil blames it on the death of Catalina’s mother, but that was years ago. The doctor tells Noemí that Catalina is recovering from tuberculosis and will be fine. He also cautions Noemí against getting anxious or agaitated. Cautions…or threatens?

Hmm…

The longer Noemí stays there the more strange and sinister things seem to be. Howard had two wives, Agnes and Alice Doyle (sisters and his cousins), both not lasting a year after their wedding ceremonies. Even more suspicious as now Catalina is failing. Noemí continues to have nightmares, them getting more and more frightening; with Noemí even questioning her own sanity! Is it something supernatural? Is it chemical? Is someone in the family trying to make them lose their sanity? Is the house and family really cursed? Whatever the reason, Noemí must find a way to free her cousin and herself before it is too late.

I won’t give the ending away as it was really good, and not quite what I was expecting. I definitely recommend for any gothic fiction lovers. It was a really great read and I’m eager to read her other books.

I can’t put the book down

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to The Night Gardener

For more Gothic Fiction, go to Secrets of the Heart

The Return of the List: Catherine Morland’s Viewing List, Part II

I year ago it was Friday the 13th and all I could think about was watching scary movies. While I did I started thinking what movies would Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney like if they were real and lived today? I decided to put together a list of 30 film recommendations that our girl Catherine Morland or boy Henry Tilney would most certainly love!

This is a continuation from the original, Catherine Morland’s Viewing List and will be another great 30 Gothic films or films with Gothic components. For those who are wondering what classifies something as a Gothic, here is the definition.

Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.

Any films I have already reviewed that fit for this list I will just list and link here, while any future film I review I will add a little note as to why it belongs on this list. I have 10 years worth of horror film reviews from my annual October Horrorfest, but I’m not sure how many of those will be on here. For now I’m going to put on the ones I have recently re-edited, and then will be adding more as time goes by. If you are looking for recommendations, be sure to check back later, and if you have a suggestion be sure to comment below!

I Bid You Welcome: Dracula (1931)

Even a Man Pure of Heart: The Wolf Man (1941)

Because I Am Mad, I Hate You. Because I Am Mad, I Have Betrayed You: Gaslight (1944)

If Only It Was the Picture Who was to Grow Old, and I Remain Young: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?: Scream (1996)

That Video…is Not of This World: Ringu (1998)

For more movie lists, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans