Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Is a Halloween Book Review


No Fun, Just Over-Analytical Page Use
This book -- obviously a textbook -- is kind of like what they say about "effective" sermons -- first you tell your audience what you're going to say; then you say it; then you tell the audience what you told them.
Similarly, in the first pages Prof Picart uses Koestler and other buzz-type words to come up with "shadows" of feminine characteristics in some horror film/comedies. Then she does the good ol' categorization of such women and first-shadow, second-shadow, third-shadow, or -- wow, what fun! -- aspects of more than one shadow of femininity.
In the same tedious way, we have analyses of male characters as being in protector roles, or mad-scientist roles, and so on.
Then Prof Picart sums up and tells us what she told us.
Now, this might be great stuff to use as a basis for impressing people. But as far as teaching something or to *gasp* entertainingly informing somebody, this book is as dry as Ray Bradbury's Dust Witch.
After reading this book and being properly impressed with the author's scholarship (but unimpressed as to the author's capability to enjoy what she analyzes), I still must have missed the part where she explains why these films -- Young Frankenstein, Rocky Horror Picture Show; the Terminator and Alien franchises; and others -- are worth such exhaustive analysis?
My take:
Things should be examined, NOT because it's a course requirement, but because the things (films where horror also has a comedic element) are worthwhile expressions of the human artistic impulse. Monsters are an undeniable fascination. There's an undeniable attraction to the idea of graveyard humor in an attempt to "get a handle" on the intimations of mortality presented by the graveyard gang. Therefore, why not look at a few treatments of the combination of both?
Leave out the tired male/female categorizations. Why can't people just be people? Sometimes a Mad Scientist is "just a cigar"!
I've read involving books, and interesting textbooks, about film and fantasy media. But this book needs a pie in the face. Lighten up!

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