Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, (and I still do), I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than I like to:

The next book I’m reviewing is…

The Poison Diaries by The Duchess of Northumberland

Weed is an orphan boy who is taken in by a drunk apothecary who delights in hurting, beating, and making Weed’s life horrible.

Aw, that’s sad.

One day this horrible man shows Weed a secret garden he found that was supposed to be destroyed. This garden is full of poisonous plants and after it’s creator died it was supposed to be wiped from the earth. …But for some reason it wasn’t destroyed (because evil can’t die)

It now becomes Weed’s duty to come every day and care for them. Weed of course has to follow the instructions, or else he will receive a beating.

When he goes to the garden to care for them, the plants speak to him.

At first Weed thinks that he is crazy, but as he continues in the garden he listens to them, as each plants calls out to him and share their secrets with him-how they can heal, help, and destroy…

Hmmm…

Every plant-Belladonna, Opium, Tobacco, etc. -have a tale to share. Some are on how they helped people, but most end in death or madness…some in worse ways than others.

Going mad!

Every day the plants encourage Weed to use them against his master, to get his freedom. At first Weed completely refuses, as it is morally wrong…but as each visit continues he becomes intoxicated with the power they have.

Will he give in to their poisonous power?

Hmmm…

This book wasn’t that long, but while the book may be short in pages, it is most defintely not a light read. These gothic tales are sad and macabre-very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe.

And this book has absolutely beautiful illustrations, look at belladonna. It is definitely worth reading just to look at them.

I also learned a lot about plants as it was very informative on what they looked like, grew, latin names, etc.

Wow!

It is not a book that I find myself wanting to read over and over, but I did enjoy it and recommend it to other gothic fans.

For more books from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

For more gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, and still do, I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on eventually reviewing. What can I say…

The next book I think Catherine Morland would read is…

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

So when this book passed my desk at the library, I immediately had to read it. The title, cover, fairy tale foundation, all tied up with a Gothic bow…you know me!

So the foundation of the story is The 12 Dancing Princesses, one of my favorites. In the original tale a King has 12 daughters who he locks up in his house every night, but every morning they are tired and their dancing shoes worn out. The king decrees that any man who finds out where they go each night and how, can marry any of the girls, and be King. However, if he does not figure it out in three days-the man will be killed. A soldier wounded from war and at a loss of what to do, is wandering through the woods were he mets an older lady. Some versions he helps her, others she sees his heart, but either way she gives him advice not to drink the wine served by the princesses and gives him an invisible cape.

That night, the soldier is almost convinced to drink the wine by the pretty princesses, but remembers the warning. He pretends and after he falls asleep, a trapdoor opens up in the floor and the girls get dressed, grab their shoes, get in a gondola, and pass silver, gold, and jewel encrusted trees to a ball in the underworld. There all the girls dance with dead princes, clearly under a spell. In the version I like, these princes want the girls as their brides to rule the underworld with them, and as the girls sleep less and less they are knocking on death’s door. The soldier goes reveals the truth, marrying one of the princesses. I have always been interested in the macabre tale, you know me and Gothic tales, so I was excited to see what Craig was going to do in her adaption.

Annaleigh lives in a beautiful castle, Highmoor, on an island in the sea. She is sixth of 12 daughters, having a happy childhood until her mother passed in the last daughter’s childbirth.

Since then, life has turned grim. Not too long after their mother’s death, the eldest sister, Ava, passed away when plague slipped through the island. Ava was followed by Octavia when she fell off a tall library ladder and broke her neck. Then Elizabeth, who always suffered from bouts of melancholia died by suicide. Annaleigh and her sisters follow the custom of wearing black for six months, followed by six months of gray. The girls have been wearing mourning colors for the last few years, secluded in their home, not allowed to take part in balls and festivities, etc.

Life is grey…

Their father, Duke of Salann Islands, has been free to travel, attend to business, etc. He remarried a young woman he met on the mainland, Morella, a woman young enough that many assume she is one of his 12 daughters.

Wow…

Not too long after the marriage, another sister died, Eulalie…but this death feels different, wrong. Ava’s death was easily explained, all saw the pustules and knew of the fever. Octavia was always clumsy and falling or bumping into things. And Elizabeth, she had a long history of depression. But Eulalie was nothing like any of them. She was healthy and strong, she was graceful and never awkward or off balance, and above all she loved life. She wasn’t interested in inheriting the Duchy and becoming the Duchess of Salann, but she loved being a lady of the island and she loved men. She was the most gorgeous of the 12 and had so many admirers.

So why did she fall off the cliff? What was she even doing out at night? Was she meeting someone? Was she murdered?

Hmm…

No one believes Annaleigh, but she feels something is not right at all and starts investigating the death of her sister, against her father’s wishes.

However, life takes a far different turn when Morella announces in the middle of Eulalie’s funeral that she is pregnant, and with a son. Morella also refuses to follow the customs of the island and wants a ball to celebrate her pregnancy and combine it with a party to celebrate the younger girl’s reaching womanhood.

Annaleigh is against this whole thing, as it looks and feels like no one cares about Eulalie, but she is outvoted and a ball is set with each sister getting their own set of “fairie slippers” dancing shoes.

Annaleigh begins investigating on the sly and visits with the fishermen who found Eulalie’s body. They found her with a locket, the chain smashed, but they could read the inscription on the piece. It was from a lover…a lover she planned to run away with, but was stopped? Or a lover that murdered her?

Hmmm…

She also meets a mysterious, handsome stranger, Cassius, who is on the island to take care of his sickly father. Cassius has otherworldly beauty and Annaleigh immediately falls for him.

All I can think is this stranger to be trusted, or is he going to bring more ruin on the household?

Hmm…

The ball comes, but it turns out to be a gloomy event. No one dances with the girls as they believe the house is cursed, that the girls carry death with them, people find it shocking that they aren’t even observing the proper grief rituals, etc. The ladies are sad, disheartened, lonely, and feel they will never escape grief, death, and gloom.

The house is full of grief, death, gloom, and tension. Verity, the youngest, starts feeling spirits and seeing things. Annaleigh starts to feel it too, seeing monsters. Are they full of grief and pain, or going crazy and cursed? Or could someone be trying to destroy the girls? Destroy their family?

Hmm…

An old family friend, Fisher, returns from being the lighthouse keeper and aids Annaleigh as her soundboard. He doesn’t offer much help, but does express a wish they could leave the island and the gossip of the curse. Annaleigh wishes the same thing, but knows her father will never let them go anywhere, they are in “mourning”. Fisher tells her stories of the gods, that there are “magic doors”, ones that allow them to go from their world to our world, easily transporting from island to capital, etc. If only, right?

Annaligh continues her investigations and finds a watch that Eulalie had. Inside was a lock of hair, a lock of blonde hair that matches Edgar Morris, the clock worker. He tells her they planned to run away that night, but when he got to their meeting place in the boat-someone, or something, knocked Eulalie over. So who, or what killed Eulalie? Or is Edgar lying and he is the murder?

Hmm…

No on believes him, but Annaleigh. The house grows darker and more depressed as the remaining girls realize the deaths of their older sisters have tainted them and they will never be able to escape…

Annaleigh wants raise their spirits and proposes searching for one of these “doors” Fisher mentioned earlier. They search the whole house and grounds but find nothing.

They decide to check the mausoleum, and when they get to the statue of the girl’s mother, they discover a door behid her. Fisher goes in first, followed by Annaleigh’s sisters Ligeia and Rosalie. After what seems like forever, the two return with an invitation to a masked ball. Uh oh, masked ball? Masked balls in Gothic stories don’t go so great.

Erik: [at the Bal Masque as “The Red Death”] Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men! Thus does The Red Death rebuke your merriment!

All the girls are excited for the ball, for a chance to be free from gloom and doom. The theme is nightmares and daydreams, each sister excitedly coming up with beautiful costumes after beautiful costume-again so pleased to wear something other than black or gray.

The girls continue to dance night after night, except for Annaleigh, and start changing from the girls she knew. Fisher tells Annaleigh he loves her, but when she refuses him, he disappears and so does her help. Edgar passes away, and with him Annaleigh’s link to finding more about Eulalie. And then some more of her sisters pass away.

What else?

Annaleigh continues to see, smell, and hear things-things no one else does. Is the house haunted by ghosts, by one of her sisters? Are they cursed? Is someone trying to make her go insane, or did they bargain with a trickster to drive them all insane?

Annaleigh is running out of time. She must find out who or what the culprit is.

I really enjoyed this story as it blended many things I love-gothic fiction, fairy tales, etc. It was a compelling story and a good mystery, one that I enjoyed and tried to guess who was behind it all. I figured it out who was doing it and why, but not the how.

Hmm…

I liked how Craig built the doom and gloom which explained why they wanted to go out and party, even at the risk of death for others and the change of who they are from the drinking and partying in the god’s world.

Pleasure Garden from Metropolis 

The only thing I didn’t like was that there was a character I really liked and he ended up passing away. Darn.

But otherwise, very good. Even my niece enjoyed it. She was drawn to the cover, like me, and sucked into the Gothic tale.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

For more on Gothic Novels, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Inn at Half Moon Bay

For more mysteries, go to An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

For more Fairy Tale retellings, go to Why I Still Love My Fair Godmother

Because We’re Addams: The Addams Family (1991)

Because we’re Addams

So I know, I committed a huge faux pas five years ago when I reviewed the sequel over the original film.

It was my first Horrorfest, I hadn’t established any “rules” but was just doing whatever I watched or films that just popped in my head.

Oh, well

However, since then, I have realized that I need to not ignore the first film. Even though it is not very good.

Meh.

Yes, I love The Addam’s Family. I watched the TV show, I loved everything about them, and have seen The Addam’s Family Values like a million times.

I love how kind and caring and macabre they are. It is fantastic.

So if it is such a great concept, why did this film bomb so? (At least in my opinion.)

Hmm…

Well let’s do a brief synopsis:

The Addams family is zany, fun, and awesome. They used to be a giant clan, but have lost people in zany and interesting ways through the years. Now they consist of Gomez Addams, his wife Morticia, and their two kids Pugsley and Wednesday. Morticia’s mother also lives with them in their old Victorian home. Along with the family is their butler Lurch and the servant hand Thing.

Gomez had an older brother Fester-but he and Gomez got in an argument and Fester took off, never to seen again. Through the years Gomez has tried everything to find him.

And has been heartbroken at the loss of his brother and hoped that he would return.

Meanwhile, their accountant Tully Alford has been trying to embezzle from their treasure room. He has no other clients and owes a ton of money to a loan shark.When she comes to collect bringing her goliath of a son, Gordon, Tully gets an idea.

If they give Gordon a few alterations, he’s a dead ringer for Uncle Fester. They decide to send him in with a story of him having amnesia in order to discover where the money is.

Gordon does, but as he pretends to be Uncle Fester he starts to enjoy the Addams’ Family way of life. Will he be able to stick to the plan, or will he instead become Uncle Fester.

Hmm…

So why doesn’t this film work?

Well the issues are that the storyline is boring.

It is something we have seen many times before and you knew immediately how it would conclude.

Meh.

The storyline is amazing in the sequel! You never knew what was going to happen with the kids, the adults, or Debbie.

The characters never go all out like they do in the sequel. I think it is just because they weren’t sure how far they could go.

It isn’t horrible, but it just isn’t fun. Especially in comparison to the sequel.

The only thing I really loved about this film was I thought it was cute when Margaret Alford and Cousin It get together, especially how at first she was all I can’t stand the Addams-and then she becomes one.

Aw!

And Raúl Juliá. He was such an amazing actor and he was Gomez Addams. I could watch hour after hour after hour of him being Gomez Addams.

If they had made a third film (not The Addams Family Reunion), that was just Raúl Juliá being Gomez Addams I would have paid to watch that over and over.

Sadly he passed away at an early age. So sad as we lost a talented star.

The best thing will be skip this film and check out the amazing and fun sequel.

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

For the previous post, go to Why Didn’t You Stop Me, Sam? You Know How Much I Hated Her! Why Didn’t You Stop Me?: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

For more on The Addams Family, go to Someone Very Special: The Addam’s Family Values (1993)

For more Horror-Comedies, go to I Died for You! I Came Back from the Dead for You! I Love You!: My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

When Horror Doesn’t Stay on the Screen: Phantom of the Megaplex (2000)

Phantom of the Megaplex

When horror doesn’t stay on the screen!

I loved this film so much as a kid! There are so many amazing things involved in it!

  1. It’s a DCOM (Disney Channel Original Movie). Now I’m from the generation that these movies came out every month and were amazing. Today all the DCOMs are completely dumb, and poorly written, but back in my day they were actually something to look forward to on a friday night.
  2. It’s a very well done modern version of the Phantom of the Opera. I loved how well they do it! I love almost everything Phantom of the Opera-y. (The 1945 version was atrocious! Don’t watch it!)
  3. They reference so many other movies, that it just makes a cinephile like me squeal in delight!
  4. It has MICKEY ROONEY! Yes this amazing man plays a misunderstood guy, and classic film buff. When I watched this film I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to have quotes and film plots memorized that I just whipped out whenever something came up that was similar. Phantom of the Operamay have started me in my love of classic film, but this film completely changed my personality.
  5. It takes place in a movie theater, one of my favorite places to be and where I have always wanted to work at. I wish I could get a job there, but so many others want to work there it’s hard to get in. 😦 One day!
  6. Taylor Handley was the main guy. I had the hugest crush on him when this film came out, I was like 8 or 9 and in love with him.

So the film starts out with the credits and Fugue in D Minor, classic, horrific stuff! Love the creepiness of the organ! We are also told that when the original theater was destroyed to create the new megaplex, a man was supposedly trapped in there and now haunts the megaplex for all eternity.

Taylor Handley’s character, Pete Riley, introduces us to the megaplex where he works at.

movie theater phantom of the megaplex

 

They are getting ready for a huge film premiere, Midnight Mayhem, at the theater. He is the assistant manager and not only in charge of a making sure everything goes just right, but a crazy collection of workers.

  1. There’s Shawn MacGibbon and Senior Manager. He is getting passed over for the owner’s doofus son. Something he is not happy about. He’s Pete’s boss.
  2. Ricky “Rules”. He always follows the rules to a T and makes sure everyone else does.
  3. “Scary” Terry. She is always talking about some seemingly innocent thing turns out to be murderous. She loves the macabre.
  4. Hillary “Honey”. She’s the mom of the group and always calling everyone dear, sweetie, or honey.
  5. “Question” Mark. Whenever he’s told to do something, he always answers with a question mark.
  6. “Racy” Lacy. Always moving a mile a minute.
  7. Merle. He’s not really under Pete either, he kind of does what he wants. He’s the projectionist and handyman extraordinaire. He feels under-appreciated at his job.
  8. “Movie” Mason. Played by the wonderful Mickey Rooney! I love Movie Mason and wanted to be just like him. Movie Moreland!  I love the sound of that. Mason is mistreated by Shawn MacGibbon. Everyday Mason comes with a mock schedule, his family owned the old theater and it was his personal playground. MacGibbon hates him, and is verbally abusive to him every time he sees him. Mason is absolutely awesome though. He has an amazing speech in the film. It was so well written.

Movie Mason: When we arrive in this world magic is all around us…Yet as the years pass, simple pleasures aren’t quite so simple to find. Myths… Legends… Fall away. Santa’s secrets are revealed. Card tricks lose their fascination. True wonder is hard to come by… But there is always magic at the movies. Pirate ships… bicycles that fly… angels earn their wings, beautiful women marry handsome men and we all learn that there is no place like home. To destroy that magic, to shatter those moments to me is a sin so grave it would almost be incomprehensible!”

MovieMagicPhantomoftheMegaplex

Pete’s mom is going out that night so he ends up being stuck with his cinephillic brother and sister. This turns out to be the least of his problems as there is a masked figure roaming about that is causing all kinds of disasters all over the theater.

Electrical systems fail, a candy machine breaks down and shoots the gumballs all over the lobby. Then the popcorn machine goes haywire and Pete has to figure out how to stop it. Every time he solves one problem new ones start popping up.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Phantom then starts pranking films based on their plot or name. In Cyclone Summer, a Twister like film, he places a giant fan that blows destructively at the audience.

In Cut to Black, he makes lights flicker on and off, cutting to black. He continues on this spree. Giant blowups ballons are misplaced and pop up elsewhere, MAYHEM ALL OVER.

Pete valiantly tries to stop him and determine who he is! Will He find out? Watch and see!

Now for movies he references are the following (I watched this a few weeks ago so sorry if I don’t list all of them, comment any I don’t catch):

  1. King Kong: The Gorilla balloon that attacks the people in the Mayhem Movie
  2. The Wizard of Oz: Mason quotes from it and references it.
  3. Twister: Cyclone Summer is a parody of it
  4. Godzilla, The Giant Behemoth, The Great Gila Monster, or The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms: Midnight Mayhem has a huge dinosaur that attacks a city.
  5. Scream. The girls are in the bathroom and the phantom is lurking around scaring them much like he tries to scare Sydney.
  6. Scream 3. A similar scene with the phantom lurking around happens in here too.
  7. Sleepless in Seattle. The kids hope that the mom will be proposed to in this way.
  8. Miracle on 34th Street. He references it in his speech he gives on magic.
  9. Hollywood Hotel. Mickey Rooney sings the song “Hooray for Hollywood“.
  10. The Sword in the Stone. They are running a promotional that if you pull the plastic sword out of the plastic stone you will win free movie passes. Pete runs and grabs it to destroy the blow up balloons.
  11. Tarzan or George of the Jungle. Pete swings on a vine over to capture the phantom.
  12. Phantom of the Opera. Of course, the whole film is based on it!

That’s the fearful post for today! More to come! 3 Days ‘Till Halloween

Here is a cover page/poster I made for my facebook page for my countdown to Halloween.

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to Feast Your Eyes on My Accursed Ugliness

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For more on The Phantom of the Opera, go to It’s BACK: The Sequel

For more of horror happening in a movie theater, go to Midnight Madness

For more on Disney, go to I’m No Warrior, I’m An Assistant Pig-Keeper

For more on Disney Channel Original Movies, go to Bowled Over

For more on The Giant Behemoth, go to From the Sea Burning Like Fire 

For more of my fav quotes, go to I Want Friend Like Me

Quite A Horror Story: Agatha Christie’s Poirot Hallowe’en Party (2011)

She is…a teller of the tall tales, a boaster, a little liar. So when she claims to have witnessed the murder, nobody believes her. And yet, she is… dead. 

So this was a film done by the BBC based on Agatha Christie’s novel, Hallowe’en Party. I think David Suchet is a perfect Poirot, as he looks just the way I always imagined Poirot to look like. However, something I don’t like about the modern retellings, is that  they tend to change a lot of the plot lines of the novel, and usually not for the better (Third Girl was awful. They didn’t use the best twist from the book). Rarely do I watch the film version before reading the book, which I did here, so I didn’t have the same unpleasantness as seeing them change plot lines that I thought were crucial in the book.

So the film starts out with Poirot’s friend, and mystery writer extraordinaire, Ariadne Oliver helping with a children’s Halloween party. All the kids are playing around, laughing, bobbing for apples, eating candy, etc. A little girl named Joyce starts talking to Oliver, telling her that she once witnessed a murder. Everyone makes fun of her, teasing and insulting her as she tends to always tell “tall tales”. No one believes her.

Later the children are all playing snapdragon, which they make sound so creepy. Instead of playing background music throughout the film, they play the children’s voices chanting the song in unison. It is as creepy as The Crucible scene when the girls are all “possessed”.

After the game is done, they are rounding up the children and discover Joyce missing. She is found drowned in a bucket that was used for bobbing for apples.

Oliver wastes no time at all, but immediately calls in Poirot to solve the case.

Poirot immediately looks into which murders in the town are unsolved, to see which ones have the potential to be the one Joyce saw. Many try to discourage him from doing so, telling him that Joyce was a liar and a storyteller. She did it to feel important and show off. Poirot is firmly decided that whether or not Joyce was telling the truth, someone out there is guilty of murder and thinks Joyce was a witness.

The possibilities of who Joyce might have seen are Mrs. Llewellyn-Smythe, the aunt of Rowena Drake’s late husband, apparently died of a heart attack. Her death is suspicious because of her will, it said that her au pair was to inherit everything over the family. Authorities believe that it was faked by the au pair, Olga Seminoff, who mysteriously disappeared after the forgery was discovered. Other candidates for murder involve Charlotte Benfield, a sixteen-year-old shop assistant found dead of multiple head injuries; Lesley Ferrier, a lawyer’s clerk who was stabbed in the back; and Janet White, a schoolteacher who was strangled.

Which one is the murder Joyce saw? Who committed it? Did Joyce even see a murder occur? Just like The Bad SeedThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligariand The Secret Window, this is one you have to check out for yourself and see where the truth lies.

The only thing I don’t like about this film, is the fact that Poirot disapproves of those who take enjoyment in such a holiday as Halloween. He thinks the macabre is not something you should be so joyous about. Well, I don’t; I love watching horror movies and getting into Halloween. That’s why I did my 31 Tales of Terror and Woe. In fact today marks 11 days left to Halloween! 😀

Here’s today’s scary post. More to come!

4_HalloweenParty

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To start Horrorfest from the begining, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to I’m No Warrior, I’m an Assistant Pig-Keeper

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For more on murder, go to Camp Blood

For more on Masterpiece Theater, go to A Hunky Helping of Manwich

For more on Halloween parties, go to A River of Candy Corn Runs Through It

For more film adaptions of books, go to I Bid You Welcome

For more on bobbing for apples, go to A Halloween Hello from the Austen Men