Viewing posts tagged psychic landscape

Psychic Landscape 3: Properties of the System

This Post is Based on a True Story


Let's start on familiar but seemingly irrelevant territory.

In the Doctor Who story ‘The Satan Pit’ (and its interesting that this happens in the most openly Horror-inspired story of the new series to that point), the Doctor fights against the possession of the Ood by the Beast, but not against their possession by the humans.  He implicitly sees one form of possession – psychic possession by an alien force – as sinister and illegitimate, while seeing another – the reduction of an entire race to owned things, to property – as normal and acceptable, or at least a non-urgent issue.  (In a relatively rare example of the new series really doing what it claims to do all the time, this ‘mistake’ on the part of the Doctor does actually come back to bite him later, and he does actually seem to learn from it.)  This sort of thing is not unique to the new series, or even to that story within the new series.  But why is it that one form of possession is recognised as evil while the other is seen as legitimate, at least ...

Psychic Landscape 2: Ladies' Night

This post is based on a true story.


(SPOILERS for various films)

The Conjuring movies are about good and bad women.  In the first movie the central antagonist is the spirit of a dead witch who killed her own baby and then herself, and whose spirit subsequently possesses every women who movies into her house, or onto her former grounds, and makes them kill their own children.  The ultimate evil then, for a woman, is to pervert the virtue of motherhood.  In the story, a mother of five daughters finds herself in the home of this dead witch, gradually possessed by her.  Her ultimate salvation, the thing that enables her to defeat the witch who is possessing her and trying to make her kill her daughters, is a memory of a perfect family day at the beach.  Yes, that’s right - in the end, all it takes is for Elaine Warren (psychic investigator) to touch the woman’s head and enjoin her to remember family values.  Ed Warren’s attempt at an exorcism fails, but Elaine is able to connect with the possessed woman directly, via their mutual motherhood.  This connection allows the possessed woman ...

Psychic Landscape 1: Conjuring the '70s

This post is based on a true story.


The Conjuring movies are interesting for various reasons.  There is, for instance, the way they use the 1970s themselves as a source of horror.

Actually, this sort of thing has been happening for a while now.  As far back as The Sixth Sense, 70s clothing has been pulled into the mix.  Moreover, Sixth Sense borrows heavily on the detached, clinical style of certain 70s and early-80s horror movies, such as The Exorcist and The Shining.   You know the kind of shot I’m talking about.  Steady or static shots of carefully framed tableaux, often in deep focus, usually with something irrational or horrific intruding matter-of-factly into an otherwise domestic, mundane, or banal – perhaps even aggressively banal – setting.  The resurrection of this stylistic tick is in marked - probably conscious - contrast to other styles of horror filmmaking which were on the rise at the time, most particularly the ‘found footage’ style, the early phase of which was exemplified by The Blair Witch Project.  Both styles were probably, in their different ways, reactions against the styles predominant in the late 80s, which tended to be very ...

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