"Run-of-the-mill" seems like a modestly accurate way to describe myself in terms of horror fandom. In certain respects I find that valuable, since ideally I can make an appeal to those like myself, to those who may be testing the waters, and hopefully to the hardcore horror fans as well. (And I sincerely encourage feedback, especially from the latter.) It wasn't until several years ago, the present time of this writing being December of '09 to give perspective, that the genre genuinely appealed to me and I owe all that to the film adaptation of Stephen King's 'IT'. After that, it was a slow and steady progression that grew into watching more Stephen King film adaptations, then into watching general horror films. In more recent years it's branched from solely films into different mediums, namely: comics (comic books, manga, graphic novels, webcomics, etc.), purely written literature, and different games.

But let's get to the point, shall we? The Darkley Niche is something I've constructed after the comic-in-progress that a friend and myself plan on self-publishing, an anthology of short horror stories much in the same vein as 'Tales from the Crypt' and similar titles. The series centers around a faceless persona we've affectionately dubbed Alan Darkley, the Niche's namesake, and a cast of storytellers whose tales fall within particular subgenres and sister genres of horror. This site is the drawing board, if you will, where everything posted is either a form of research or a roughing out of ideas. It's all relevant in some fashion. By exploring these different horror stories and their mediums a better understanding and influence of the genre, as well as inspiration, can be put into the comic. Even if you have no personal interest in the project, perhaps you can glean something from the reviews and the like. And if nothing else, the Niche will work to serve my own purposes.

Be sure to browse over the column of banners below if you're looking for posts on a particular topic. (And at the very bottom of the blog, if you would like to consult the complete listing of post labels.) Otherwise, scroll down past them to get to the most recent articles. Likewise, refer to the right side for our latest tweets.

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

About Myself

My photo
Well, here's yours truly. The name's Drew, in case you were wondering. The Niche is my personal site, while the comic-in-progress is a partnered effort with Don, a lifelong friend of mine. We collaborate on the stories, but my partner's the writer in the outfit while I am the illustrator. This is currently little more than a side project, but we hope to make something of it.

artwork by yours truly

artwork and artist features

movies, short films, TV, webisodes, etc.

frightful films for your year-round festivities

book reviews: consult the niche's necronomicon

comic-related news and reviews

zed in the head randomness

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Late Bloomer

"We all saw it sprawled across the blackboard the second we stepped into Ms. Lovecraft's class... It's wingspan reached from one end of the room to the other, hovering above our heads as if it were about to pounce. It's.. chalk scrawled claws looking ready to grab up an unsuspecting student and fly away..."
Written and directed, respectively, by Clay McLeod Chapman and Craig Macneill
, 'Late Bloomer' was among the short films selected in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and with good reason. The success of the short is in its ability to personify the progression of confusion, repulsion, anxiety, then obsession of a seventh-grader boy on the precipice of puberty as through the perspective of H.P. Lovecraft, were he perhaps the student during Sex Ed. However, since the schoolteacher is already named after the author, we'll just refer to this nameless student as Randolph Carter. If you got that reference, you likely will catch the allusions made in those classmates that are named. (WARNING: spoilers ahead and sexual content)

Jimmy Pickman, "Pickman's Model"

Norween Dunwich, "The Dunwich Horror"

Larissa Innsmouth, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth"

'Late Bloomer' opens with the echoing twang of guitar strings, accompanied by the reflecting, nervous narration of an apparently adult version of our adolescent protagonist. You can't help but sympathize at least slightly for the perplexed students, as Jimmy Pickman voices aloud their collective confusion, asking, "What is that ungodly thing?" to which our lead replies, "It looks like an octopus." In response, their instructor authoritatively etches the name above its "dome-shaped head" in bold, chalk letters: VAGINA. As is often the case in classrooms, Ms. Lovecraft tells her pupils to repeat this foreign word.
"I shuddered at the sound it's name made in my mouth, whispering it with the rest of the students. It seemed to seep out from over my tongue, the syllables all soft and moist as if it had just drudged itself up from some sordid portion of my stomach, buried for centuries under the muck of my meals, rising up towards my teeth on a tide of bile."
As Randolph is made aware that all women are born with the namesake of that which they were "invoking" in unison, the more he notices that the girls of his class have begun to slink in their seats. Norween Dunwich in particular feverishly writes every "pagan name her high priestess called out" whilst fervently fanning her knees together. Only he seems to see that this was not some ordinary, textbook curriculum. Oh, no. This was in fact a ritual of an eldritch evil that lurked within the very female form, living amongst him and his fellows all along. As if this dawning dread-fright wasn't enough to test the sanity of a seventh grade boy, Ms. Lovecraft unveils from behind a geographical map another ancient blasphemy: "This is... THE PENIS!"

"Maybe a madhouse would be as good of any a place to save me, now. No doctor could erase this profane image from my brain forever... For I found myself staring at Him Who is Not To Be Named... the Mighty, One-Eyed Messenger! THE GOAT WITH A THOUSAND YOUNG!"
All suddenly goes black as Randolph appears in the school office of Principal Peters, the narrator pleading with the flush man in his robin egg blue suit of a foreboding metamorphosis. But the boy's words seem to fall on deaf ears as the scene transitions back to Ms. Lovecraft's classroom, his own horror now likewise engraved on every youthful face therein. It is only then that he is disjointedly aware of another set of eyes, locking onto those of Larissa Innsmouth.
"The creature hidden within her was attempting to communicate with me! It's sole mode of speech were a series of thought waves, transmitted through its clitoral antenna. Even now these beasts talked within their tombs, sending their telepathy out from beyond the cotton lining of all the girl's underwear... MmhmmMaHaHA!"
Losing his much-weakened grasp on known reality, Randolph at last descends into the dark abyss that is the reproductive system, Ms. Lovecraft's idolatry.

Visions of chaotic ecstasy ensue with instructor and fledgling adepts alike immersed in profane rites. Randolph's insane laughter aggressively gives way to guttural growls and all goes black as earlier. Consciousness slips again, bringing him once more before the desk of Principal Peters, whose bloodshot eyes only stare out from behind the sweating, fleshly mask that is his face. Looking back into that face is the calm countenance of Randolph, self-assured that his peers will eventually come to see the same revelations as he had in themselves. Not solely in conscious realization, but in physical actualization. Memory moves us one last time to Ms. Lovecraft's class to bear witness to the final horror, the reason for his presence in the principal's office.
"My pants were now crumpled up at my ankles, my hands hidden below the desktop... Strips of mother of pearl stretched along the floor, as if some slimy beast had been released from within me! The residue of its escape... shining over the linoleuuuuuummm...!"
To paraphrase The Lonely Island: "And now I'm posed in an awkward stance, 'cause I jizzed in my class!"
Here I thought that vomiting over my desk in elementary school was the worst humiliation to have happen in a classroom. That seems much more tame in comparison to this embarrassing incident in the end, but I digress. 'Late Bloomer' seamlessly blends Lovecraftian themes with those closely associated to the awkward transition into puberty, which is what makes the short so ingenious. Furthermore, the students are so thoroughly compelling in their roles that I found myself surprised with exactly how impressive their performance was. Especially when you consider my general disposition towards child actors, which is often one of dissatisfaction. I give it five out of five Ms. Lovecrafts.

On a side note, doesn't this particular scene in 'Late Bloomer' seem reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's ending to 'Psycho'? If that was intentional, it's a stroke of sheer brilliance.

No comments:

Post a Comment