Jack O’ Lanterns 2015


Totoro Jack O’ Lantern Stencil

Do you still need an idea for a jack o’ lantern? Are you a fan of Hayao Miyazaki films? Even the really sweet and gentle ones, like Ponyo and My Neighbor Totoro? And, are you, like, totally skilled at carving pumpkins? If so, have at it with this cool stencil by Flickr user PlayWithFire:

You can see variations on Totoro jack o’ lanterns–and other cool Miyazaki-inspired pumpkins here. From that set, here’s Flickr user C. Lambert’s Totoro pumpkin–

From Hell Letter

(Read our review of From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell)



Jack O’ Lantern 2010

Totoro Jack O’ Lantern Stencil

Do you still need an idea for a jack o’ lantern? Are you a fan of Hayao Miyazaki films? Even the really sweet and gentle ones, like Ponyo and My Neighbor Totoro? And, are you, like, totally skilled at carving pumpkins? If so, have at it with this cool stencil by Flickr user PlayWithFire:

You can see variations on Totoro jack o’ lanterns–and other cool Miyazaki-inspired pumpkins here. From that set, here’s Flickr user C. Lambert’s Totoro pumpkin–

Kanye West Halloween Mask

“. . . the horror . . .” (Via).

Happy Halloween Links

A letter by Poe showcasing his prominent signature.

Make this cool Edgar Allan Poe toy.

Cannibal Man cover praised; plot summarized.

Seven horror novels masquerading in other genres.

H.P. Lovecraft’s creepy little short story “The Outsider.”

“Slicin’ up eyeballs / Oh oh oh oh.”

Excellent gallery of illustrated horror film posters.

Stephen King explains how to make vampires scary again.

Stephen King sucks.

Hot freaks.

28 Weeks Later is a good film, but it hates children.

Harry Clarke illustrates Faust.

The gang from The Office makes a slasher film.

On Michael Jackson’s Ghosts.

Brendon Small (Metalocalypse, Home Movies) schedules 24 hours of horror films.

“You are tearing me apart Lisa!”

Jack Nicholson.

Kate Mosse’s top 10 ghost stories.

Three Takes on Nosferatu

Here’s F.W. Murnau’s seminal 1922 vampire film, Nosferatu, in full, thanks to public domain laws. Nosferatu is a horrifying and beautiful example of German expressionism at its finest. Max Schreck is terrifying as the vampire Count Orlok (an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s character Dracula). Observe–

Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake is also gorgeous, but employs a more naturalistic style. Klaus Kinski plays Dracula. Two scenes–

In 2000, director E. Elias Merhige gave us the underrated gem Shadow of the Vampire, a fictionalized account of the making Murnau and his crew making the original Nosferatu. Willem Dafoe is amazing as Max Schreck–or really, as Orlok, rather, as he stays in makeup and costume for the entirety of the production. The movie is both hilarious and frightening, and at times even sadistic. It’s also of a piece with the wave of meta-textual films that surged in the last decade,like Being John Malkovich, I Heart Huckabees, and Adaptation.

From Hell Letter

Jack O’ Lanterns 2009

Happy Halloween!

Ghoulish Gourd Harvest
Jack O' Lanterns 2009



Jack O’ Lanterns 2008

Jack O’ Lanterns 2007

Jack O’ Lanterns 2006

Scary Stories–Halloween Edition, 2007

…in which I take a critical look at some of my 11th grader’s scary stories.

(Check out last year’s batch, if you like).


Rotting Jack O’ Lanterns w/ Flies (2007)

Felici@ Noll*y’s “Eyes of a Baby” makes stunning use of what I like to call “the fetal voice.” Noll*y’s narrative begins in a “bubble […] so safe and warm with extra soft walls.” However, her hapless narrator is soon confronted with “monsters” who “torture” the poor kid, ripping it out of its safe haven, depriving it of its immediate source of food. The poor dear ends up in a “jail cell with big bars,” contemplating a strange new existence in a world populated by demons. Noll*y’s narrative captures the jarring dissonance of new beginnings contrasted with the ever-present ideal of a perfect, unattainable “safe haven.”

L@ur@ Cunningh@m submitted a trio of vignettes, each as unfinished as a fetus, each showing some serious promise as contenders in an Anne Rice parody contest–only I think Cunningh@m’s serious about her work. In “Implied Consent,” she dips into her idea of an adult vampire world, one reminiscent of the early nineties goth scene. She also uses the phrase “nary a word.” Yes, “nary.” Ugh. In “Duality,” she takes a stab at a postmodern trope–the characters in the story are being written into existence by other characters in the story (somebody get Charlie Kaufman on the phone). In the blandly-titled “Something,” Cunningh@m demonstrates public high school’s complete failure to teach human anatomy with this clunker: “Hot bile rose to the back of her throat.” Bile is produced by the liver, sweetheart. Maybe it’s just a very, very complicated metaphor.

Sh@t@vi@ E@dy’s “Down in the Crowd,” written as a screenplay, finds rumors to be the root of all evil. I’m not sure exactly what happened in E@dy’s tale, but I do know that gossip and misinformation are sites of extreme horror for her. Also, there’s a predominate preoccupation with “the cool kids” and the “not cool kids”–social scientists are now clamoring to adopt these specialized terms as their own.

M@tik@ Bl@l@rk’s “Taken” begins in media res, a bold step that none of the other young writers attempted. Good for her! Unfortunately, Bl@l@rk’s cluttered imagery and frantic pace leave no room for the reader to have any sense of what’s going on. In the end, she pulls what is to be a recurring motif in many of these stories: “It was all just a dream” (alternately: “It was all just a nightmare”). So says I: “It was all just a cop out.” People didn’t like that shit on Dallas back in the 1980s, and I don’t like it now.

Far more ambitious is Ch@ntel R**d*r’s “Fight of the Gods,” written entirely in a marvelous backwoods dialect (at one point, her narrator points out that the “man war havin’ a Caesar,”–he means “seizure”–a line compounded in semiotic resonance when one considers the fact that Caesar suffered from epileptic fits. I applaud R**d*r’s Joycean wordplay!) After thirty-five pages, it became clear that R**d*r had submitted not a self-contained story, but the initial chapter of a book about demonic possession over the ages of man. She says she has more, and I’d love to read it.

Mel@nie River@’s “Breathe,” like a number of the stories this year, seems to take several of its cues from the recent Saw franchise: torture chambers as puzzles, ambitious killers, that sort of thing. River@’s story stands out on several counts, beginning with her adventurous use of verbs: in “Breathe,” we find that bones can be “emasculated” (these are not metaphorical bones; she is referring to ulnas and tibias and metatarsils and shit like that). There is a fascinating episode where a bus driver bites a hapless victim, who astoundingly replies: “Who are you to put your hands on someone else’s child, huh?!” I was astounded because that’s just what I say when a weirdo stranger bites me unprovoked out of nowhere. It turns out that the bus driver is a killer, and not just “a normal killer, he was an advanced killer.” Coming soon to a theater near you: Advanced Killers 4: The Matriculation.

As its title suggests, D@nchelle Jon*s’s “Scary Story” is a self-reflexive postmodern comment that seeks to pull at the very roots of just what can qualify as a “scary story,” or for that matter, as a story at all! Who says you have to have mood, tone, or setting? What traditionalists (patriarchalists, no doubt!) decree that a story should have a beginning, middle and end? Jon*s attacks our notions of just what the narrative arts can do, leaving us scratching our heads as we applaud her audacity.

In “REVENGE OF THE EX!!!!!”, M@h@ Mi@n also pushes the limits of traditional writing, this time challenging those awful standards of typography and punctuation: why can’t a story be typed in italicized, 18-point font? Isn’t it obvious that some questions deserve multiple question marks???? And who’s to say that multiple exclamation marks are redundant?!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Sh@net@ Oliv*r’s “Black Outs” examines the mood swings typical of teenagers, pushing those mood swings into the fascinating trope of split personalities. Also, the first half of Oliv*r’s story consists of rhymed couplets, a rhetorical strategy that mirrors the tension between conflict and harmony inherent in every person afflicted with multiple personality disorder.

Finally, M@j@ C@v@r makes a bold move by naming her story “Extra Credit.” Again, I can only assume this is a kind of postmodern tongue-in-cheek gesture on C@v@r’s part, a reference to the fact that I offered the “Scary Story” assignment as a way to earn–you guessed it–extra credit. Nothing slips by these kids. C@v@r is an innovator in what I like to call the “I-filled-up-all-the-lines-on-the-paper-so-now-the-story’s-over-regardless-of-the fact-that-so-much-still-remains-unresolved” style of writing. Courageously sacrificing any sense of closure, C@v@r instead opts for this stunning closer, shifting jarringly from third-person omniscient to first-person singular: “I only need a point from only a B and I really need a B, okay?” Sorry, sweetheart, I don’t think that’ll quite do it.

Jack O’ Lanterns 2007

This year’s hellish harvest:


Plenty of cool stencils to be found here, including this Imperial Storm Trooper design that my wife talked me out of attempting (not “Halloweeny” enough):


And, in our sorry tradition of lazy blogging, we still stand by everything we did last year around Halloween:

Check out: Jack O’ Lanterns 2006, Halloween Craft Links, Scary Books–Part I, Scary Books–Part II, a post on the Halloween execution of Danny Rolling, Scary Books Part III, and what may be our all-time favorite post, the Scary Stories Extra-Special Halloween Edition.

Even more lazy blogging/scary shit:

Mom and Pop are Zombies!–The Infanticidal Structure of 28 Weeks Later

As that most sacred of holidays, Halloween, draws closer, Biblioklept begins our annual celebration with a review of 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to future cult classic 28 Days Later. Look forward to all kinds of horror for the rest of the month!


At Sam Kimball’s talk at UNF last week, he put forth several ideas that would not be wholly unfamiliar to students and former students of his, or to anyone who’s read his book, The Infanticidal Logic of Evolution and Culture. Just a few of these ideas: cultural and biological evolution rests on an encoded infanticidal threat that no one wants to own up to, existence costs, and the ability of humans to smile represents a Darwinian miracle. The first two of these ideas provide an excellent lens from which to examine 28 Weeks Later; however, I’m not going to strain myself looking for smiles or hope in this awfully bleak, absolutely horrific movie.

It’s instructive to begin with a paraphrase of the infanticidal logic Kimball suggests underpins social order, and I think that can be done best by using Kimball’s own re-reading of the Oedipus story. The story of Oedipus, who outwits the Sphinx, kills his father, marries his mother, brings a plague to his city, and then stabs out his eyes, is–and here comes an understatement–a story foundational to psychoanalysis. In most readings, Oedipus is the tragically flawed hero who brings shame, disease, sin, and death to an entire society through his multiple transgressions. Kimball points out that most readings of this story focus on Oedipus’ relationship with his mother and father (sex and death), and that little attention is paid to the very beginning of the story. Recall now that the infant Oedipus is cast by his royal parents (metonymy for all parents), feet bound, into the wilderness to die, for fear that he will bring about chaos and death. The story is thus initiated in an infanticidal gesture, the willingness to kill a child for the good of the family, the tribe, the kingdom (see: Abraham and Isaac, Saturn gobbling his kids, Noah and flood, the crucifixion of Christ, etc. etc. etc.). Kimball sees structural infanticide as the blame for sin and corruption and death being put on the child; Oedipus is not the sinner in this reading, but the one who has been wronged from the beginning. Let’s see if we can’t apply some of this to a zombie flick. And, uh, a SPOILER WARNING is in order, I suppose (although I don’t think anything I’ll write can really spoil this film).


28 Weeks Later opens up with a last supper, the communion of a childless, makeshift family who’ve managed to avoid the infected zombies that plague Britain, spreading murder and chaos wherever they go. The communion is interrupted by a child who bangs on the door. After some indecision, he’s admitted by the wary adults, who ask him, of course, “What happened?” “My parents…they tried to kill me,” he answers. Within minutes of his arrival, the zombies are at the door, ready to spread their infection, annihilating the dinner party: the child, on the run from his infanticidal parents, brings disease and death to the community. Only Don (Robert Carlyle) escapes, and he does so by abandoning his wife, who clings to the newly arrived child.

Twenty-eight weeks later, the US military has quarantined part of London, and begun the repatriation of British citizens, including Don’s son and daughter, Andy and Tammy (played by the improbably named Mackintosh Muggle and Imogen Poots). Chief medical officer, Major Ross is deeply upset when she sees the children disembark the plane, declaring that the Green Zone the US military has established is not equipped for kids. Furthermore, she points out that they know little about the disease, and that kids might actually facilitate spreading it. Sure enough, Andy and Tammy run away from the Green Zone, heading back to their apartment, where they find Mom, who’s gone feral. Their Mom has some kind of genetic resistance to the effects of the disease (figured in her mismatched brown and blue eyes, a trait shared by Andy); she exhibits mild symptoms and is a carrier. This is discovered by Major Ross when the trio are forcibly returned to the Green Zone. Don, swamped in guilt, sneaks in to see his wife. He kisses her, immediately gets the disease, then goes on a murderous rampage. The US military, in a moment of shining brilliance, move all the non-military personnel to a locked basement. Don gets in nonetheless, the infection spreads like a dirty rumor, and the army begins killing everyone indiscriminately. Again, the children bring the infection to the community, and the entire society must pay with wholesale apocalyptic genocide, ultimately figured in the firebombing of the city.


Andy and Tammy escape this fate when Major Ross and Sergeant Doyle, a kindly sniper, escort them out of the city. Ross and Doyle symbolize a set of “good parents,” in direct opposition to Don, a rampaging zombie who somehow singles out his children in particular. Just like the child at the beginning, the two are on the run from not just the patriarchal US army “protectorate,” now annihilating everything that moves, but also their own biological father. In the course of aiding the children’s escape, both Ross and Doyle meet grisly yet heroic ends. Believing that the children may carry a genetic clue to a vaccine for the virus, the “good parents” give their own lives to save the children. Still, the children are the cause of their death. Don eventually catches up with his kids and bites Andy, before he’s shot to death by Tammy. Andy, like his mom, doesn’t go nuts when he gets infected, but he’s still a carrier. Doyle’s buddy, helicopter pilot Flynn, transports the kids across the English Channel (that is, after making the tough decision not to just kill them). The movie ends with shots of rampaging zombies near the Eiffel Tower: a child has again carried infection, disease, and death to a once-pure, contained area, continental Europe.


Upon its theatrical release earlier this year, most critics focused on 28 Weeks Later as an allegory of US military involvement gone awry, a thinly-disguised critique of the Iraq invasion. And while many arguments could be made for this analysis, I think its important to realize that the actions of the US military in the film are not ultimately the cause of the apocalyptic genocide at its center; rather, the military responds appropriately to contain the very real threat of contagion, the risk of total death figured in the disease the zombies carry. The cost of continued existence here is the realization that everyone in the Green Zone must die. The movie invites us to see both the military and the zombies as the bad guys, but ultimately the movie blames the children for the downfall of mankind: the army is just trying save the rest of the world, making a calculated cost analysis (albeit, one measured in human lives); the zombies are, well, uh, mindless rampaging zombies–animals, running ids with teeth, but not really evil. No, it’s the kids here who bring about sin and shame, death and disease. The infanticidal structure of the film argues for the execution of children, those dirty little harbingers of contagion. Paradoxically, the film hides this gesture under the heroic self-sacrifice of the “good parents,” Ross and Doyle, who give up their lives to save the kids. The audience is invited to empathize and identify with Ross and Doyle, who reject both the patriarchal authoritarianism of the US military (despite the fact that they are both military officers) as well as the mindless entropy of zombism. In the end though, their self-sacrifice is pointless–Andy spreads disease into another “pure” area, putting the entire world at risk. Flynn should have executed the children, like he was supposed to. The movie thus acts as a warning against the dangers of sin and infection that are presented in the children, and in turn, 28 Weeks Later upholds patriarchal, sacrificial, infanticidal values.

In my ranting and raving and raging and rampaging, I forgot to point out that I enjoyed the movie very much: it was truly terribly awfully bloodily unceasingly horrific.