Today I’m doing a bit extra (this is the third post today—make sure you check out the others). As part of their Scary October series, we’re running a promotion at the Mywithershins blog. Basically, Mywithershins is running a series of posts based on frightful October—all things related to vampires, zombies, witches, and what have you. We’ve posted a blurb and an excerpt from my novel Drasmyr at the blog. So make sure you check out Mywithershins and show them your support.
I haven’t done a completely ridiculous post in quite some time (excepting, of course, on my recent blog tour), so I figure I’m overdue. So, here goes.
The question of the ages. You are condemned to live the rest of your life as a monster, but you are given a choice: you can be a vampire, a werewolf, or a zombie. What is your decision?
For myself, I’m going with the werewolf primarily because that is the one where you retain the most of your humanity. I mean, a zombie, really? All you have to look forward to is shambling around the countryside, rotting from the inside out, or from the outside in, and looking to feast on brains. Your intellectual capacity is reduced to virtually zero, and you’ve come to accept monosyllabic grunts and groans as the pinnacle of communication. No reading philosophy for you! A step up from that is the vampire. Here, well, you’re dead. According to most traditions, you are incinerated by sunlight so it’s the nightlife for you. You sleep in coffins, and drink human blood. Gone are the days of feasting on hot chicken wings and beer; nope, just blood. Day in. Day out. Although you do have some funky powers, and you have retained your remarkable intellect, you also suffer from a variety of weaknesses, like the previously mentioned sunlight. But also, you can’t enter a building unless invited. You can’t cross running water. You are repelled by holy objects. And most importantly of all: you stink. No matter where you go or what you do, whenever you set up house, you are haunted by that ever-present, hideous odor of the undead. The stuff of rotting corpses and graves. A small price to pay for immortality perhaps, but not an easy one.
Compare the above, to the werewolf. Once a month (okay, maybe three evenings a month, one on either side of the full moon, if we are generous), you transform into a hideous beast and roam the countryside looking for someone to rip to shreds. You have little memory of these events, let alone control. The rest of the time, you are basically a human, often with extraordinary strength and keen senses. You can go around in sunlight; you don’t rot; and you don’t stink… although you might have a bad case of fleas. Some traditions hold that you are immortal; others, that you will die in your own time.
For myself, immortality does have something of an allure; I could learn a lot in limitless time, but eventually, I think, I’d get bored.
I think all three of the above constitute curses. Vampires and werewolves are usually associated with losing your soul… not so sure about zombies. If God is understanding and lets you into heaven after your zombie body is destroyed, then perhaps that’s the way to go. But ignoring afterlife concerns, I’m sticking with the werewolf.
I saw the kid’s movie “ParaNorman” the other day and found it enjoyable, although I have a few caveats. A few months back I came upon a blog written by a Christian woman complaining about the upcoming children movies that support necromancy, something viewed as very sinful by the typical Christian (actually, I think most modern Christians probably don’t think it is even possible, so being ‘sinful’ is moot). ParaNorman was one of the movies referenced in the blog (another was Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie). Anyway, if you want to take that route with ParaNorman it is open to that criticism–but, then, so are most fantasy movies/books (including my own Drasmyr). Personally, I think that’s going a bit too far; the movie was intended as a silly adventure with a supernatural theme; something fit for Halloween consumption. And as a writer of fantasy myself and a long-time AD&D player, I generally regard magic use as an interesting use of one’s imagination and generally harmless. Still, I can see how the movie could be construed as supportive of witchcraft, sorcery, and similar themes. And it is geared towards young children. So, you’ll have to make up your own mind there. Like I said, it didn’t bother me, but others might be offended.
The main character is a young boy with the unusual ability of being able to see and speak with the dead. He is well-known for having conversations with the many ghosts he finds around him. And he is widely regarded as an outcast and an oddity by the people in his town. Naturally, it falls upon him to save the town from the evil of a three-hundred-year-old witch’s curse. The trial and nature of the curse, and the identity of the witch are all part of the mystery of the story, so I won’t spoil it here. Let’s just say the witch is justly angry for her execution and it falls to Norman to resolve the matter. To assist him, he has a best friend (whose name I forget… was it “Neil?”), and a few other compatriots who, at least initially, are less well-intentioned toward him. The story is basically a typical transformation of outcast to hero that seems so popular these days. I thought the climactic confrontation at the end was a bit overdone and drawn-out, but other than that the story held together well.
I do have two more caveats regarding the film. Near the beginning, there is an obviously ill man (Norman’s uncle) who, at one point, takes a handful of pills and tosses them in his mouth. I’m sure they were intended to treat his illness(es), but the casual way in which it was done did raise my eyebrows. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but I wish they had taken a little more care in presenting the medicine. The last caveat: towards the end of the movie, one of the male minor characters reveals he’s gay by saying “You should meet my boyfriend.” It’s done casually, in an offhand, but blatant way. Homosexuality is something of a divisive issue, so I don’t think it really belongs in a children’s movie. Some people might be offended by it, others not. In the end, I think particularly devout religious people (of the Christian persuasion, probably Muslim as well… not sure of the others) have ample opportunity to be offended by this movie. Personally, I was not; I enjoyed it, though I thought the gay bit was a hair inappropriate.
Overall, I’ll give “ParaNorman” three and a half stars out of five.