The family tree and old books as a map of gaps in The Monster Club: palliative geography and the land of the dead.

Rev Apr 11 2014

In two previous notes I have mentioned that the gaps in a family tree, from the point of view of what consciousness can hold in its mind, came to be represented by silhouettes, or by generic representations of the nth degree, which just say, past, all that, in a summary way. I saw this, for example, In Child’s Play 2.

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Previously, in my mythology, I made use of the influence of K Walker to devise for myself an antiassimilationst mythos of the ur nemesis that haunts two feuding German immigrant families in America, completely obsessed with psychotic old business, the German Roamer, which appeared as The Thing in The Portrait Painter and sequels. Now, a second use of silhouettes: or a third, since I also see silhouettes as visual representations of the thinking about you textings that were made only in mind back them, brief reminders, to anchor a type of musing. But now, they also represents the gaps in family trees, and, if there are too many of them, the cursed nature of the whole of the family tree, the part of the family tree more likely to tilt into a representation of the tree felled and undone. The very silly movie, The Monster Club, makes use of a family tree format in the context of a haunted portrait variant in the nightclub that Price and Carradine meet at. It is a very poor property

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Price then explains the derivation: it is a cross-referencing. For you get different types of monsters by the breeding of different types of parents. All of this happens, sillily, by syllable, as, for example, a man and a ghoul mating result in a mangoul, etc etc., We get some closeups

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And then, to build variants of previous monsters covered in previous films, in this one they focus on stories of the hybrids, which is all that the stories of the anthology are. Of these, only one, where Stuart Whitman as a movie producer goes out to scout out a haunted country village for his film, is good. This is good for a few reasons, it translates the gaps in the family tree, to the gaps in the map of rural Britain, two, it captures what life, or rather death, in a gap in the tree looks like, and what happens when one type takes over. All of which is interesting. But two things. One, the names cross-refer on the idea of the family tree because, like historical European family trees, it makes hybrid patterns. Only here rather than devise a combination of family crests, it just combines syllables. That sort of thing also has a life of its own, irregardless of biology, and can also quickly generate its own possibilities. So it is a kind of runaway cross-referencing. Second, the implication is that death eventually takes over, when the line becomes too turned in on itself, and as a result this renders a kind of family tree that extends into the palliative zone between life and death, or in death itself. This is done by expanding the notion of mating over into all other concepts. Anyways, the story is that Whitman goes out on the prolix system of the modern highways,

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Then turns off the main road, and finds an old sign pointing apparently to a town that still exists, but you are not sure

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This is classis lore, of course, as places that have fallen off the map, fallen out of history, become a backwater, etc etc, are notorious as psycho places, see Psycho, also Tourist Trap. Even more interesting, here, is that he crosses over one of those romantic little bridges, and then comes into a fog bank on the ground, both signs of old towns lost in time,

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And then that fog bank sits on the land, and covers him in a highly localized bad weather. It is a pretty spooky place.

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He sees a cemetery at the very center of the town, all but the town square of the town, suggesting that the whole town’s life is centered in it,

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Then when he checks into a hotel, he meets a half human girl, and she tells him what’s what, and how the town lives, the view out of the window of an old hotel, mirroring in many ways the devices of Horror Hotel, is also magically weird

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She says that they everybody is hungry, and want to eat him, because they have lived for years and years on what was in the boxes, and now all the boxes are dug up, from the underground, and are empty, and there is no more food. What boxes he asks, she says the same ones that the carpenter made this chest of drawers from, and we see that the chest is made of three coffins stacked one on the other,

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since he has no protection, and his car has been killed, he seeks retreat into a church, and it is abandoned, again, another nicely spooky spot, an abandoned place inside of a town that has fallen off the map,

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And there the skit gives us a very good book research vignette, presided over by the skeleton of the preacher who died writing it,

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I have noted in The Amityville Horror (2005), extensive use of a book of this sort, with comic book or rather graphic novel type images,

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Then again the same device in Drag me to Hell (2009),

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and the same thing, with the same emphasis on the book simply providing the guidelines for the script in the remake of the Evil Dead (2013),

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Then, in Fright Night 2 (2013), they make use of a tablet for the first time, that I have seen it, and again tell the backstory by way of a graphic novel of Elizabeth Bathory, and in vivid color, almost risking the movie going animated

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In all cases, I conjectured that this convention might derive from current taste among the young for graphic novels. But there is also the precedent of the wonderful drawings on the staircase in Asylum,

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And here is maybe the best example of this kind of image, used to narrate a weird or unbelievable history.  It starts with an image of the town and the cemetery and the appearance of the first ghoul in town

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It is not clear why the ghoul appeared, but at present since he seeks to feed on the dead the emergence of a ghoul in the family tree of a town indicates a surfeit of morbidity in which the life force is exhausted and the life of the town begins to fall into the shadow of the dead and stop leading a new culture but simply live a traditional life modeled on the dead. Thus, a ghoul represents cultural and moral decadence. It is a haunting of a family tree, it is the personification of the gaps in family trees, with the cross representing a robust and life-affirming sexual generation. But then the local Christians wanted the ghoul killed, because they recognized it as evil. But the preacher saw it rather as a child in need and wanted to protect it, so he fights on behalf of the ghoul,

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He takes the ghoul home and bathes it, and imagine what it was like to bathe, to get the smell of death off of it, that would be fun to describe

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And he also gives it a bed and puts it to bed and tries to make a home for it, again, as if it is an orphan, notice too the blank, generic landscape painting, on the wall, symbol of a path to the other world, an opening to spiritual space

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but then he finds out that the ghoul’s appetites are set and cannot be changed. He follows him out one night and sees him eating the dead in the cemetery, a great shot, with comic book intensity,

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And then it has to be assumed that the lore is if you feed one ghoul they will, like homeless persons, like dogs or cats, all will come, all of its comrades and dead family members will come, and so we see the invasion of town,

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And the takeover of the town, looking, here, just like Whitewood in Horror Hotel.

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Still, the question is, why? why is the backstory or flashback sometimes told in this graphic novel way? For one thing, new media represents the present, and that is the present in the movie, the movie in its state of the art being new media, and reality today. Then any older devices in the history of the medium would be haunted examples of the same. But if you then shift to extramedial, to the old media replaced by the old media, you get those styles that precede, or have become dated. In the case of high-low, a graphic novel would tell the tale in a way parallel to sepia tone or other devices used to portray the in-the-mind-ness of flashbacks (the blue lighting in Corman, the use of silent movie style in the original Mummy, so the convention of using old versions of the media to represent in the mind goes back to the beginning of the modern period). And then too the mind is likely to be more immersed in the unconscious and therefore tell the tale in a more figurative, still gorier way. So there is that too.

Thus, the flashback in old media compares to the use of the haunted family tree, because it represents thoughts in the haunted family tree or genealogy of the media itself. Moreover, just as the body is conceptualized as an onionskinned miasma of forces or energies, including body and spirit, in horror movies, rather than the medical body, specular in its miraculous quality, so too time is represented in media in terms of media receding back by phases of obsolescences in time (and steampunk taste would be part of this). As a result, in a movie, you may then indicate, just as blood covering a body means a stripping away of the fastness of current reality, moving toward a more spiritual reality wherein vampires might be believed in, that when the movie goes to tv, or to comic books, or graphic novels, or books, or old fashioned drawings–even if updated to current standards, based on the presentist view of the past in movies geared to young adults (see my comments on this issue regarding Hansel and Gretel)–then this means that the tale told this way is doubly scary and contagious, because it is about ghouls, told in ghoulish media, which can help it break out into today.

But to return: the idea is that if you feed a ghoul, it will only need more, and it will attract others; then, too, the advancement on that thought is, if you let one ghoul eat of the dead in a cemetery the inviolability of the place is violated, and thus the cemetery is now open to and prey to other ghouls, and the feeding on the dead. The invitation of the ghoul to feed has disconnected the power of rite to keep them out of the cemetery. The idea here is that the preacher is holed up in the church, writing his history, because the rest of the town has now been attacked by the ghouls, and the town is now composed of ghouls. And since they are not living being, with creativity, but only undead beings, with destructive power, they cannot produce anything but only feed off of the remains of the former, so that rather than open up a supermarket or a restaurant or find places to find food they simply turn to the same but of death, the cemetery, and feed on that. That is, the cemetery becomes their corn fields, their farm fields, the place from which they harvest food. And then since they subsist on an economy of death, the accoutrements of the cemetery are also used to devise a local economy, thus the furniture made out of coffins, but now their little economy of death has collapsed, and they have become mad and starving. So, he turns the cross against them, to find cover,

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He escapes, them running after him, through the mist shield that keeps him in

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The humegoo is killed, the girl on the right

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There she is,

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And, then, there is no escape, because twisted further into the gap spaces in the family tree are fairy circles, where all associates of the cult serve to ensure that one cannot escape, and every escape circles back in, as we find out that the police who save him just drive him back in and he is eat

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It is just a sketch, but it resounds on a number of rural themes, and is one of the best treatments ever o the nature of a ghoul family tree and a ghoul economy and what would happen if the country were overrun with ghouls, where life is gone, and only the dead are left to feed off of it.

In the mythology.

This is a palliative family tree, and a palliative  geography, and it strikes me that Hartog may exist at the headwater or turnoff point of entering into that sort of situation on my mythological map of Merika, the English country village undone. Since Loughville is ghoulville backwards, another pseudo-genealogical derivation, I will call the town Loughville (aka Masonville), a town of very old school Anglos, English country villagers come over, to die on the vine in Merika, a Lovecraftian theme. I suppose too this is West Sayreville. And resident poet, Margate Muire.

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