Author: carbsahoy

Tweeting and how it helps me analyse horror

It’s generally known that if you want your public announcements to have a significant effect you need an audience, and the bigger the better. The experience I had of me tweeting in real-time my Japanese horror movie views was slightly impaired I think because my twitter account has a very small amount of followers. Even though I have hash-tags specifying the tweets’ topic of analysis, I think they are unlikely to gain much traction because of their specificity. In having an audience, it would be nice to get some feed back though this was not my main focus for tweeting. I tweeted the experience to analyse what I found to be most important in the movie’s content. This was extremely useful for my research because it pin-pointed exactly how much value I was attaching to certain bits of the content, and made it easier to continue research later about what cultural significance this has.

However, I do in some ways regret not being able to foster a large audience, the amount of time it would take to build a existence on twitter though was realistically not in my timeframe. The most important thing about this though was not lost, and that is I was able to cultivate my fandom by actively engaging with the content. I analysed it and reacted to it with a textualised representation which I can later on use to contribute to my interpretation of what it is that makes Japan so influential in modern day horror fandom.

Twitter combine with blogging has allowed me to systematically organise areas of the content that I find controversial and perhaps socially damaging. By tweeting I can have a conversation with those that create the content, they may not hear it, though those who watch the content might, and perhaps they will agree with my disregard for the impunities awarded to certain cultural influences, and hopefully add to the causes striving to rectify these outcomes.

The accountability that comes from producing real-time thoughts on content I think will be important for my Storify blog when justifying why I chose to research the cultural representations that I did. The marker of my interest, these tweets will demonstrate how I originally constructed my cultural theories and perhaps make it easier for observers to determine how they feel about the research.

If you’re interested in seeing what came up of importance to me, my latest tweets on Japanese horror movies can be found here. https://twitter.com/4livetweeting

Horror – Showing you what you weren’t meant to see

What are we meant to see?… This is a question in horror that continues to interest me. Reality I think is based on continuity and I feel that Japanese horror in particular is good at analysing specific elements that we use to build our perceived reality, and then systematically tests them and asks why do we give these elements the right to build our perception of truth.

The movie Uzumaki or in english, Spiral, tells the story of a town possessed by spirals, yes that’s right, a symbol that has a malevolent intention for a whole town. The spiral is meant to symbolise a vortex whose sole purpose is to consume whoever gets too close. It consumes people in a way an obsession consumes someone, they start to see spirals in everything, in the way that if it’s possible to see a spiral in something they will find it, eventually those that are affected by the spiral curse will find a way for their body to also become a spiral. This often involves mutilating the body or grotesque mutations.

Lovecraftian horror wekipedia defines as ‘a sub-genre of horror fiction that emphasizes the cosmic horror of the unknown (and in some cases, unknowable) over gore or other elements of shock, though these may still be present.[1] It is named after American author H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937).’

And one of its themes is described as

  • Preoccupation with viscerate texture. The horror features of Lovecraft’s stories tend to involve semi-gelatinous substances, such as slime, as opposed to standard horror elements such as blood, bones, or corpses.

The students in Uzumaki in their pursuit of things that are shaped like a spiral actual begin to turn into snails, which is safe to say pretty disturbing.

I find it interesting that cold and slimy and the body are big aspects for initiating fear, perhaps this is something to with us being mammals and our preference for dry soft warm things, then horror tests this idea through what we like to define as conducive to our rational state. As an example I think about what it would be like to have thousands of slugs all over me, and the idea is positively sickening.

The Spiral movie or Uzumaki was created from a manga series, Wikipedia gives two ways of referring to  manga, one Japanese and one English. Manga in Japanese refers to all cartoons, comics and animation. In English it refers to specifically Japanese comics. An art form that originated in the early 19th century it is highly regarded as an entertaining and an informative staple of Japanese culture.

I continuously get excited thinking about how rich and colourfully documented Japan’s history is, they have so many diverse intersections of human development. The last movie I looked at showed thousand year old samurai battles and was riddled with supernatural experiences, including intervening ghosts that can take body parts. This movie Uzumaki (Spiral) again has supernatural conflicts at its base, however, the general unknown force of a curse I feel is an even more abstract way of developing a horrifying idea, and then specifically using the authority that symbols have to test what we use to structure our beliefs.

Curses particularly are present throughout a lot of the Japanese horror movies I’ve come across. This belief that some unknown evil force outside of being controlled or predicted will determine your future is not something I ever considered as a real possibility. My theory behind this is that because my understanding is built upon scientific results, the fact that it doesn’t involve tangible results for its existence, I then experience difficulty in believe it. Although what I perceive as my reality is constantly being shaped by things that I have not yet learnt how to measure or understand, for example computer technology, so in this way perhaps in order for me to understand the supernatural world I would have to adjust my perception to a gauge that was comfortable with using the tools that are needed for measuring it, that is a deep understanding of how the supernatural world works, and belief that it does exist, one of which I am yet to have any experience with beyond movies, which are somehow able to suspend my belief, so if a movie can manipulate my reality, it stands to reason that unknown supernatural force perhaps could also do this. I don’t know, sounds strange but I think the unknown force of movies and technology could lead me to perhaps wanting to have more of an understanding of the supernatural, I wonder how I would frame my understanding if I believed both in science and the supernatural.

The biggest fear of all… the fear of being wrong!

What’s that saying…that you can’t see the forest from the trees? and it basically means you don’t realise the problem of the situation you’re in while you’re in it. It’s only when you reflect on it, that you see that you were actually doing the thing that you kept trying not to do. Or something like that.

 

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing. I realised that while I was frantically trying to express my experience of Japanese horror in a culturally relevant and engaging way, I was actually missing a very crucial point. That is, why was I doing it? the answer is Fear. To be exact the fear of being wrong and getting a fail for this subject was my prime motivator.

By being caught up in trying to create an authentic auto-ethnographic analysis I think I forgot the point completely, which I think is for me to know why I was analysing Japanese horror in the first place, and then to anaylse that. So even though my motives are shallow in that I wasn’t genuinely originally fascinated with Japanese culture only slightly intrigue by its horror movie success, I have, however, through blogging grown to have a much greater appreciation for Japanese culture, and my fear of failure is not a completely unrelated aim to analyse either, because the fear that I have of getting a fail does actually relate to horror movies, in that they are both centered around fear.

So do I go down the deep dark rabbit hole that seeks to find out what aspects of fear are most relevant to my immediate society? well, I think that would take a very long time, but I will peek inside it and look around.

 

So now I am looking at fear more closely, I want to know what is it in Japanese horror films that I classify as scary? what is it that other people see in them that they think is scary? Fear can touch just about every aspect of our lives, how then are Japanese directors specifically so good at conveying it? What are they doing that makes me actually fear for my safety after viewing a movie?

There is a lot involved in these questions and there is no way I will really discover what fear is, though I know it is multi layered and slightly different for everyone. However, with the help of my tweets that I record while viewing Japanese horror, I should be able to get more or an idea of what stimulates my fears and perhaps this will explains other peoples and then perhaps allude to the reasons why Japanese horror resonates with so many.

 

I also am vowing to take more care in my next film choice, and hopefully discover one that will frighten me. Then again fear is relative so there is a chance that even if I get several confirmations that the film is scary I could still be left unfazed, it will be interesting anyway seeing what is determined with increased research.

The reason for this is that the last film I blogged and tweeted about I didn’t really have any idea whether it was scary or not (as much as is possible without previously seeing it). I don’t regret watching the last movie I blogged about, the film Kwaidan was beautiful and gave me some important insight into Japanese history. However, I think I should be examining what it is that I actually find culturally engaging in Japanese horror, not just taking direction from an internet top ten list. Even though they are helpful, I think something that I really know is going to be scary would be more appropriate for an auto-enthnographic study, because this is part of the reason why I was intrigued with Japanese culture in the first place, their success in scarying people.

Slightly Immersive Experience in Kwaidan (1964)

That digital output of Japanese movies is to say the least pretty extensive, so in choosing the horror film from Japan that I was going to view I went straight to an internet list. You might say that was callous, and that if I was serious about trying to find a scary Japanese horror film I would do more research than an internet top ten list. And you would be correct.

The first eye opener on this journey is; if you want to watch a scary movie, get a few more confirmations than an internet list before deciding to deem it scary. OK that being said my live tweeting experience of  the film Kwaidan was enjoyable, but not scary. #Ifellasleep

The main reason I opted straight for Kwaidan is that it was made in 1964 and as you probably know the 60s was a pivotal political period, so I was hoping the film might indicate what Japan was facing politically. Looking over my tweets, which you can see here, from my brief overview of them it seems to me that political tensions concerning gender and possibly more can be found in the films content. However I will be looking into this more deeply for my digital artefact to see where exactly the film stood politically and if there was any social and political controversies that could be noted to add more depth to the picture I have.

Tweeting the experience did feel exciting and it gave me more of an appreciation for the film, the process though was stifling, I didn’t feel that I got fully immersed in the what Kwaidan was trying to convey. I had to stop the film sometimes to tweet what I was seeing/feeling and it felt like a detachment from the event each time.

Not as immersed as I would like to be, it seems from the tweets that I liked the film mainly for its aesthetics and knowledge. The dialogue appears to have particularly burdened me. What I did get though, was a new found interest in Japan’s very rich history. And when I say rich I’m talking thousands of years, compared to little baby Australia’s 300 years or so recorded history, Japan’s is epic, and glorious… samurais, battle scenes, samurai clans, baby emperors, it’s thrilling! which would be an indication as to why their films are so good. My digital Artefact will investigate this theory more.

My main problem though throughout the film was pacing, I had real trouble remaining focused. There were so many beautiful images on screen, they just didn’t seem to be leading to anything quick enough for me. For my digital artefact I want to unpack this, the pacing of films has changed quite a bit over time, I would like to research what experts have commented about this and develop more of a clearer understanding of its social, cultural, and political implications.

Reference

Kwaidan 1964 by Masaki Kobayashi

Commencing live tweeting on Japanese horror

Redmond (2013) discusses fetishism of the exotic and consuming the Other, Miike Takeshi the director of Audition is mentioned as a tester of (Western) decency. I know to some degree I have probably been involved in some exoticticising and consuming of the Other, however, through my research I seek to understand the origin of my interests and through this hopefully gather more of an idea of what it means to consume the Other.

My fandom of Japanese cinema is fairly recent and not very deep, I actually have a  bigger history of researching it academically than as just a naive observer, as it were. This concerns me because I think that it will impact how I view the films, in such a way that I may get caught up in analysing and then whatever I reflect may turn out to not be my genuine thoughts, but instead I would contrived them in a way that would avoid falling into the traps that I had previously read about.

Watching films and discussing it with friends has been for me something that happens after the event, however, so I can get more of perhaps an honest idea of what I think of the films I will be live tweeting as I watch them.

Narrowing my field of research to only Japanese horror was chosen mainly because it specifically has garnered a particularly large Western audience and I want to see if my tweets plus my research will give any indication as to why this is happening.

I have not chosen the films I will be watching yet, however, in the pursuit of the extreme only those that are reviewed as indubitably scary will make the cut.

It should be known that I was not always a thrill seeker of movies, mostly I liked to laugh and have thoughtful reflections, it was the study of film that brought out my desire for horror. Something about knowing more about how something is made I think makes you want to explore all the options it can offer.

My method includes tweeting what I see then reflecting on these tweets and this will then all be incorporated into a storify blog. I am using this platform particularly because it will make it easier to include other media sources that may become relevant while discovering insights.

I have experienced immersion I think in fandom culture once before, this was in music. Redmond (2013) talks of the director Kitano as being ‘a body-without-organs’ (p.11) and of his fluid existence in films by way refering to his celebrity identity that occupies many personas (‘grude comedian, film director, violent actor’) . It would be great if I could find out through my tweet analysis whether my identity, it being more solid than Kitano’s fluid one, was in fact able to be immersed or not. I would like to test this and watch it develop.

 

References

Redmond S 2013, The cinema of Takeshi Kitano; flowering blood, Columbia University Press, New York

Thailand – Making Horror holistic

Right on the edge of the peripheral I found a message board that presents a forum for New Thai Horror films. This is a space for anyone to discuss specifically new Thai horror films they’ve seen or hope to see soon. The contribution from users of the site is varied, some go into detail about the film and the people involved in making it, others give a quick synopsis of a film they recommend. The forum is located on an online magazine called Fortean Times – originally an English magazine started in the 70’s. This may not seem like a very a peripherally popular additive to the internet, however, I think the specificity of the topic counts towards limiting the chance of it gaining popularity. Then again, my searching skills may be at fault so if you know of a better place to find organised commentary on only Thai horror movies, please let me know.

After reading a few I chose to have a look at ‘Necromancer’ – a Thai Action Horror Thriller, I see a pattern developing here, (cont’d from last week’s post featuring Horror Comedy) it seems that I have an attraction to Horror when it is mixed with another genre, I think this is because Asian cinema sees Horror as more malleable for incorporating other genres than I expected Horror to be.

‘Necromancer’ felt to me like watching something very cool and tough, like I was hanging out with a film that was a rock ‘n’ roll star, not much dialogue was included but it seemed better for it. The action scenes were intriguing, there was an intelligent use of framing around the characters, and just as much attention paid to the editing. My interpretation about how the Thai culture was presented in the film was of one I would like to get to know more about. How the body was used in spiritual rituals and the movements that the camera picked up on made me think that a higher regard for the mysterious nature of the body may be given in Thailand than I am use to in my own culture. I will be investigating this further to test it.

Looking further for something that is perhaps more association with community development on the internet than the fortean website, I found the House of Horrors website. This website is dedicated to informing people about Horror movies, it started in 1997 and the vibrant armature tone of it highlights how its curators have continuously added subjects and categories to facilitate any Horror movie watching experience, by primarily doing so through suggestions from users received over time. The message board has also been made into a fairly active place for people to connect and find niche Horror movies – encouraging their knowledge to be expanded upon and shared.

Hong Kong – Making Horror funny

Settling in for another night watching Asian Horror I thought I’d be brave and go it alone.

I was curious what might be South Korea’s take on horror movies, considering the horror they have lived through. Also I wanted the movie to be of the same standard as my last expedition into horror; this was the movie ‘Audition’. Alas due to my downloading prowess being dismal I resorted to finding the most appealing Asian horror (non-Japanese, because I had already done that) movie I could find on Netflix.

My search led me to quite enjoyable ‘Visible secret’ – chosen because of its ambiguous title, classic 90’s cover photo (totes popular right now) and the genre is Horror Comedy, which gave me more of a fighting chance to digest it safely on my own.

As it played I kept thinking ‘this is fresh from the 90’s’ -The characters are bold and unapologetic like Buffy or even Sidney from Scream, but also dorky and ridiculous like Buffy or Sidney from Scream. The plot moves quickly, you get to breeze through decapitation scenes right on to ghost possession, encapsulating fun with the use of quirky dialogue and clumsily action scenes, just like the 90’s!

As it turns out though, this recurring obsession I had with the 90’s during the ‘Visible Secret’, would be the only thing that came back to haunt me (pun intended).

Every time I looked at the lighting in a street scene, images reminiscent of ‘Ghost Busters’ would come traipsing back into my head. I was totally pre-occupied with how ‘western’ the movie seemed, even the comedic styles looked to me like a poor man’s version of Friends. I felt my fate was sealed, ‘I’ve been tainted’ I thought, ‘doomed to characterise everything in western tropes’ (yes, in my head I am very academic and pompous).

The despair came from not wanting to see the film ironically. I wanted to like it because of its skill, not because it was accidently funny.

‘Searching for truth’ in the East as Sean Redman puts it (The Cinema of Takeshi Kitano Flowering Blood 2013 p.4) was my mission and I’d failed. So I looked to the celebrity of the film to find out what background information was securing a truthful depiction to Eastern audiences.

Ann Hui is the film’s critically acclaimed director, known for her work in what is termed ‘Hong Kong New Wave’, and one of its most prolific contributors.

Conducting some research beyond Wikipedia, Ann Hui is quite notable for her work on films about social critique that challenge the government and also investigate the concept of identity. That being said, I think horror comedy may be isn’t her genre. ‘Visible Secret’ I think would be viewed with more understanding by someone who had grown up in Hong Kong, but still it doesn’t seem like anything anyone would particular rate, not matter what culture you’re coming form.

Reflecting on this again, I think my 90’s obsession might have actually been beneficial for helping me attain more enjoyment, by giving me a stand point to measure what was meant to be serious writing and instead placing an ironic edge around it.

Japan – Making horror beautiful

‘… when you feel the need to inflict pain?’

Is what you might be thinking when someone you know says they are going to watch a horror movie.

Well, maybe not so cut and dry as that but there is a definite attraction to pain in most horror movies, an attraction that Japanese film makers seem to convey so beautifully. With regard to horror movies though, the movie Audition is the most ethereal experience I have ever had.

The director of the movie Audition, Takashi Miike, does not intend to classify his movies as any particular genre, even though after viewing Audition I was left with a feeling that resembled anything but safe. This is a serious warning; if you watch Audition, watch it with friends or family.

Upon seeing Audition I had the expectation that afterwards I would be scared of dark spaces for a while, I wasn’t scared of dark spaces though, I was confused, I was confused about what reality was as a whole and how I existed within it, and that was a wee bit more scarier, hence the reason why you need a familiar face around to see you through it.

The first time I watched Audition I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of it from my lecturer, the second time I watched it– I watched it on YouTube.

However, I don’t recommend this for a first time viewing. The colouring in Audition is one of its best features and the lack of resolution in the gritty YouTube image, cheapens the whole experience, to the point where I wouldn’t bother.

I couldn’t hire it at my local video store but you might have better luck. Otherwise I’m sure you could order it online.

Made in 1999 and set in the present day there is every reason Audition would include some reference to cyber-culture, which in the last decade had made a prominent presence in Japanese Horror, however, culturally I felt the story was more traditional, using family and love as the main destructive forces. Body disfiguration is a key component to its horror value.

My interpretation of the submissive orient did impact how I saw many of the characters’ mannerism, and often when I saw how the women in the film would make themselves small and look down when talking, I thought they were being unnecessarily shy. As I said though, I think this could be my lack of understanding of social dynamics in Asian culture, resulting in me using stereotyping to perceive their presence in conversations. In general I feel a twinge of concern about the position of women in the film, however, the storyline I think might portray enough of a detachment from reality to give it some reprieve.

Cultural Creep

Hi, my name is Anna, this is around the 21st time I’ve had to say some something about myself at uni and this is around the 21st time my chest has gotten tight and my brain has started to hurt. Reading about people is interesting but when you write about yourself nothing sounds remotely worth stating for future reference.

So with ongoing agony I will tell you some of the least threatening things about my interests in Digital Asia, and one slightly disconcerting one.

International media and communications is my major, I would like to witness as many different types cultural expressions in my life as possible and hopefully translate some of them to the screen and maybe let some new ones be slyly accepted by unsuspecting audiences. Also I like to watch people and image how they make really mundane decisions then when I’m feeling divided I think of someone I like and go ‘wait, how would such and such do this…’