Tag Archives: Ghostbusters

What to Read and Watch While Leaves Are Falling

Sure, I already published a fall reading list that should keep me very busy until 2017, but this is my favorite time of year. I just had a birthday (Thirty-four, eek!), the leaves are changing, the nights are getting slightly chilly (at least here in southwest Ohio), and I’m in the mood for comfort reading and watching some fall favorites. For me, that mostly means witches, obviously, though there are a few other things on here that are just more generally fall-feeling.

What are you reading and watching as the weather changes?

Stories to Pair With Pumpkin Spice Everything (Don’t Judge Me):

Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell
I read this little gem when it came out last September, and I fell in love with it. It’s a nice, seasonally appropriate read, and Cornell has a sequel–the more wintry The Lost Child of Lychford–coming out November 1 from Tor.com. If you haven’t read Witches, now is a perfect time to enjoy it. If you have read it, it’s a perfect time to refamiliarize yourself with it ahead of its sequel.

Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter
This is another of the 2015 Tor.com novellas; it’s another witch story; and it’s another great read. While you’re at it, check out her recent short story at Tor.com, “Finnegan’s Field,” which is a good, creepy changeling tale. I haven’t gotten around to reading Slatter’s couple of short story collections, yet, but her 2016 novel, Vigil, is definitely on my to-read list.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
This is a book that I also read last September and really wished that I’d saved it for another month or so. It’s dark and funny and just a little scary, a great book if you’re like me and don’t usually like straight up horror but still want to get into the spirit of Halloween.

Monstrous Little Voices: New Tales from Shakespeare’s Fantasy World by Jonathan Barnes, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Emma Newman, Kate Heartfield, and Foz Meadows
It’s still the year of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and this collection of novellas is a perfect way to celebrate. Foz Meadows’ Coral Bones is probably my favorite, and it can be read alone, but I enjoyed reading all five tales together. Highly recommended for reading outdoors with a cup of tea on a crisp fall evening.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Hogarth has been celebrating Shakespeare differently–by having well-known authors re-envision the Bard’s plays in novel form. Obviously, you should read everything by Margaret Atwood, always, but her retelling of The Tempest is a really exceptional examination of its themes of prison, grief, vengeance, and the transformative value of literature.

Nightmare Magazine‘s Destroy Horror! Special Issues
This year we’ve got People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! which is well worth checking out. If you only read one story in the issue, make sure it’s Terence Taylor’s “Wet Pain.” It’s also not too late to pick up last year’s Queers Destroy Horror! and 2014’s Women Destroy Horror! This project just gets better and better, you guys.

The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe
This book is brand new (literally–it’s got a 10/18 pub date), but it might be my most anticipated anthology of the year. It’s got an absolutely to-die-for table of contents–with stories by ton of my favorite authors–and a gorgeous cover. I almost never get hardcover books unless I find them at the used bookstore, but this one is a must-have for my shelf.

The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece by Roseanne Montillo
Sometimes, reality is even better than fiction, and this 2013 examination of the genesis of Frankenstein is well-researched and highly readable. Even if you haven’t read the novel, The Lady and Her Monsters offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of Mary Shelley and how she came to write a classic of horrific science fiction.

Films and Television to Watch While Curled Up Under a Blanket:

Practical Magic (1998)
I cannot go a single October without watching Practical Magic at least once. I just watched it the other night with my thirteen-year-old daughter (her first time), and was struck again by how much I love it. It’s by no means a very good movie–there’s nothing like a critical watching of it to make one aware of every absurdity and plot hole–but I will always want to watch movies about women saving each other.

Hocus Pocus (1993)
Hocus Pocus is a Halloween classic that I’ve been watching for over twenty years now, and I can’t imagine stopping anytime soon.

Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Corpse Bride (2005)
This trio of Tim Burton flicks are seasonal must-watches.

Ghostbusters (2016)
loved the new Ghostbusters, and I cannot wait to rewatch it in the lead-up to Halloween. I remember enjoying the original movies as a kid, but this reboot is more fun that those ever were.

Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015-now)
This show is definitely a problematic fave, but if you like artfully splattered gore, Bruce Campbell, and Lucy Lawless, Ash vs. Evil Dead is a ton of fun.

Lost Girl (2010-2016)
This show is basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s more diverse, sexier, more Canadian descendant. It definitely starts to fall apart a bit in later seasons, but the first three or four seasons are pretty solid.

Gilmore Girls (2000-2007, 2016)
With a Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls coming out on Thanksgiving, now is the perfect time to binge watch the show in preparation.

Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

I loved Ghostbusters.

I rather expected to, to be honest, and I went prepared to enjoy it in spite of its flaws after the trailers for it were so widely criticized and there was so much negativity surrounding its mere existence. Still, when there is so much negativity and outright hatred surrounding a movie, it’s easy to lower one’s expectations.

Ghostbusters is really, really good.

That’s not to say that it’s a flawless film. Some of the humor misses its mark; Chris Hemsworth’s inept receptionist, Kevin, is very one-note; the villain (Neil Casey) is underdeveloped; and there are at least a couple of scenes that seem to have been included literally just because Kate McKinnon is hilarious. I mean, yeah, Kate McKinnon is a riot, but one oughtn’t to let her hijinks take over to the point where they cause pacing problems—and they do, a little. Still, Ghostbusters is exactly what it ought to be: a delightfully funny low-middle brow summer movie whose flaws are far outweighed by its positive aspects, which are practically legion.

By far my favorite thing about Ghostbusters is how it showcases the friendships between its four main characters. It’s refreshingly naturalistic the way these women come into each other’s lives, and it’s great to see a healthy, functional female friend group take center stage in a major summer movie. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones have an easy chemistry together that really sells the evolution of the group as friends and colleagues and makes their interactions a pleasure to watch. Each woman has a distinct role to play, and all of them contribute significantly to the group. Best of all their group dynamic is totally free of anything resembling cattiness or jealousy. Sure, Abby (McCarthy) and Erin (Wiig) have a history that has to be resolved, but Erin and Jillian (McKinnon) are never competitive for Abby’s attention and when new friend Patty (Jones) joins the team she’s accepted quickly and immediately settles into the group as if she’s always been there.

Speaking of Patty, I was very concerned when the first trailer came out that she was going to be a sassy, street smart stereotype. Leslie Jones herself took to Twitter at the time to assure fans that this wasn’t the case, and she was right. Patty Tolan isn’t street smart; she’s book smart, a local historian whose vast knowledge of New York and excellent deductive skills are key to saving the city. That said, criticisms that a black woman is the only non-scientist in the group are reasonable, and while the racial makeup of the cast mirrors that of the original Ghostbusters I’d like to think we can do better than that over thirty years later. If anything, New York City has only gotten more diverse in that time, and with all the ongoing conversations about representation in media—Ghostbusters has itself been at the center of that because of the choice to reboot the franchise with an all-female cast—there are fewer excuses than ever to have a cast as white as this one. Do better, casting directors.

The actual story in Ghostbusters is pretty thin, which is firmly in the tradition of the franchise, but villain Rowan is an interesting choice. For most women and anyone tuned into feminist discourse, Rowan’s misogyny, pathological aggrievement, delusions of grandeur, and his simmering, rage-fueled sense of entitlement will all feel familiar. We have almost all met this man, and if we have we’ve definitely fantasized about how to vanquish him. Ghostbusters taps into that fantasy and provides a pleasant catharsis at the end, in spite of its very silly plot.

Fortunately, what the movie lacks in the storytelling department it more than makes up for in the sheer unadulterated fun department. All four leads fulfill their roles with joy and gusto. Kate McKinnon in particular brings a manic energy to the screen that is downright infectious. Cameos by most of the original cast are for the most part well-integrated, and there are some nicely done visual jokes and references to both the first and second Ghostbusters, though younger children and those unfamiliar with the older films may not catch all of them. While a couple of running gags in the film outstay their welcome, I (and everyone else in the theatre except for maybe one fedora-wearing dude) laughed constantly throughout the nearly two-hour runtime.

Ghostbusters isn’t a cinematic masterpiece by any means—though the special effects are top notch and masterfully walk the line between cartoonish and creepy; be sure to see it in 3D—but it’s a truly excellent summer movie that more than does justice to the original movie and smartly updates the material to entrance a new generation of children with its message that the power of friendship can conquer cynicism and hate. Also, ghosts.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

Charles Dance is an absolute treasure.

I wish they had made better use of the delightful Matt Walsh.

Gertrude the ghost is beautiful.

DO stay through the entire credits.