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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies grossed $10.9 million in North America and $5.5 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $16.4 million, against a budget of $28 million.

I remember seeing the advertisements for it and thinking, “Ugh, not another zombie movie. They killed a classic! It looks stupid.” I love the classics and have some leather-bound hardcovers in my house from Dickens, Austin, Homer, Alcott, Twain, James, to Poe. Before I started writing my own novels, I began reading “The Classics of Horror”, which is a book containing Dracula and Frankenstein. I don’t have a favorite, but Pride and Prejudice is up there next to Wuthering Heights. So you see why I wasn’t too pleased to see them turn it into a horror/action flick.

Like rubber-necking when I see an accident, I decided that since it’s on for free, I would watch the defamation of a literary classic. Here I was, cuddling on the couch with my cat, prepared with a predetermined mindset. “This is going to be gory and stupid. I just know it.”

Huh, the movie made me eat my words. I wouldn’t buy it to add to my DVD collection, wouldn’t see it again, but to be completely honest, it wasn’t so bad. It was ‘loosely’ based off the novel, but some parts remained, even the ending.

The gore portion of killing was artfully done. A good similarity is how romance and erotica novels are written.  Where as Erotica gives you all the pornographic details, Romances have just enough to paint a picture for the reader.  There wasn’t blood or guts spurting, no over the top death or killing scenes. Sure you saw the characters killing the zombies, but they mostly kept the camera’s focus on the person doing the killing. You knew just outside the camera’s lens was the zombie being beheaded, or what have you. It was up to the person watching to use their imagination to paint a picture in their head.

The story line held onto the core romance between Jane and Mister Darcy as well. I love that part of the story. I watched their hate to love journey unfold, happy to see them marry at the end, affirming the old saying, “Opposites do attract.” Sure you know how it ends, but it still gives you a thrill to see it happen.

Their costumes were modern, but remained in line with the time-set of the book. I loved Mr Darcy’s leather outfit. It was stunning, and to be honest, I wished we still dressed like that.

The main ladies of the story still contained their femininity while being bad-ass killers. It was awesome! Beauty, brains, and brawn. It was a pleasant twist and re-imagining for their roles. Strong women who retain their grace was inspiring to watch. It was a perfect blending of old and new.

In the end, I liked the movie and would make a nice date movie. If I were to rate it, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. For all you classic literature buffs, this movie does stray from the original novel, but still maintains the basic story elements. It’s a modern twist and re-imagining which will leave you entertained. If you have Starz, it’s newly uploaded to watch.

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What is Gothic Literature Anyway?

You’ve seen the genre and heard the term, but you’re not sure what Goth Literature is. You may be thinking all sorts of things from black lips to torn fishnet stockings worn with combat boots.

Goth literature has actually been around for a very long time, and some of your favorite books and movies are actually in the Goth genre! Did you know the first Gothic novel originated in England with the publication of Horace Walpole’s novel The Castle of Otranto (1765), which Walpole called a Gothic story?

Popular Gothic Novels

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Dracula

Jayne Eyre

Wuthering Heights

Frankenstein

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Phantom of the Opera

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

A Christmas Carol

Did you notice all these are classics?

First, the official definition from a few popular online resources:

Wikipedia: combines fiction, horror, death and romance.

Encyclopedia Britannica: Initially Called Gothic because its imaginative impulse was drawn from medieval buildings and ruins, such novels commonly used such settings as castles or monasteries equipped with subterranean passages, dark battlements, hidden panels, and trapdoors. A more sensational type of Gothic romance exploiting horror and violence flourished in Germany and was introduced to England by Matthew Gregory Lewis with The Monk (1796).

goth angel

Okay, so what does it entail to fall under the “Gothic” Genre? Writers may generally focus on some (not always all) of the items below. I’ve  broken down to the skimmed basics. Short, sweet, and to the point.

Castles and or Medieval era: Castles are awesome. Despite being drafty, I want one of my own. Seriously, there’s a website for it. They are romantic, mysterious, and offer a great back drop to the spooky and supernatural. Secret doors, hidden tunnels, a damsel in a corset, a mysterious figure in a cape. The possibilities are endless.
Supernatural : Magical beings, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, ghouls, elves, grim reapers, angels, demons. Anything outside the ordinary of everyday life has fascinated us and offer great entertainment factors.

This is not to be  mistaken for science fiction which would entail science, other planets, or other worlds. Think Superman, Spiderman, The Swamp Thing, Aliens.
Sexuality / Intimacy exploration –  Romantic entanglements with a supernatural creature. A great classic example is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. A current example is Twilight.
Horror:   Think curses, dungeons, villain’s, dangerous creatures.  Movies would be:  The Seventh Sign with Demi Moore.  Interview With the Vampire with Brad Pitt. Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp. The Corpse Bride.

You basically have a bad guy/villain/situation which scares you a little.  This leads to  the madness or emotional distress. I remember watching the Nightmare on Elm Street when it first came out, and I couldn’t sleep for a week afterwards.
Exotic Locations- Ah, location, location, location! A good story, like real estate, is all about location.   A spooky forest with fog covering the ground, the tree’s canopy thick as it blocks out the sun. A creepy cottage nestled in it’s center.  Or how about a dark, moist cave behind a waterfall where ‘something’ out of the ordinary lurks.

A few good examples are:

  1. The Hunchback of Notre-Damn had his church with gothic elements decorating the exterior.
  2. Dracula has his castle and coffin.
  3. Wuthering Heights has an old creepy house.

So there you have it, the nitty gritty, bare-bones of what classifies as a ‘gothic’ genre. The next time you think of your favorite Novel, which may have been adapted into a movie, think on what Genre it could fall into.

A final thought –  The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis has gothic elements, but the paperback isn’t filed under this genre.

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Nerd alert: Reading is good for your health

By Jen Christensen, CNN

(CNN)Clients who seek solace by pouring their hearts out in Alison Kerr Courtney’s office don’t get rewarded with a Xanax or Prozac prescription. Instead, they walk away with a reading list.

The founder of BiblioRemedy isn’t a licensed therapist, nor is she currently an English teacher, although she did work as one for 10 years in France, and has spent years shelving books at the library and in bookstores.
Courtney is a kind of book whisperer.
For as long as she can remember she’s had a knack for matching people with books that fit with their intellectual interests. But some clients want more when they make an appointment with her at her office in Lexington, Kentucky.
What they seek is a kind of bibliotherapy. It’s a growing trend where people tell empathetic listeners like Courtney their goals or problems. Courtney then suggests books that can help them clarify their goals, work through an emotional issue, or may even help them turn a page to start a newer, healthier life chapter.
“I’ve had clients dealing with grief issues, for example. I pair them up with books I think will most help in their specific situation,” Courtney said.
A recent client dealing with grief told Courtney how much her recommendations helped. Typically Courtney suggests five to seven books. The client said she read every one, except for the ones dealing specifically with grief.
“Not everyone is ready for certain books, and that’s OK,” she said. “They may get there eventually and the other books may help with that process.”
Books can literally change your life and they don’t all have to come from the self-help shelf to work.
Fiction may actually be more powerful, according to a new study running in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
Books such as Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” or “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” or Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” may teach you about complicated topics such as racism, poverty, teen angst, bullying, sexual orientation or other issues, but they may do even more. They could help you know your own heart and others’.
“People who read fiction may understand people better than others,” said Keith Oatley, a cognitive psychology professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. He’s also an award-winning novelist. “A work of fiction is a piece of consciousness that can pass from one mind to another and that reader can make it their own.”
Books can work as a kind of “moral laboratory” as the scholar Jemeljan Hakemulder calls it, or they can act like the mind’s “flight simulator,” as Oatley describes it.
Reading can help you safely test how you feel about certain issues or people, without your having to experience something directly.
Oatley believes the novels that help people best are the ones that “help us understand the characters from the inside,” rather than more plot-driven novels.
That means we can learn from a book that’s a part of the literary cannon, such as Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs Dalloway,” equally as well as we can learn from popular fiction such as “Harry Potter.”
Spending quality time with these characters as you relax on the beach or sit propped up on bed pillows is more than mere escapism. Reading these books may enhance your emotional intelligence.
Following in Jane Austen's footsteps: Discover novelist's England

That means reading books could improve your love life, your family life, your relationships at work.
That’s because as you learn about Mrs. Dalloway’s worries as she shops for flowers or you witness Harry Potter struggle to control his powers in front of his neglectful muggle family, you contrast that experience with your own.
The characters’ experiences “can be internalized to augment everyday cognition,” according to the study.
In other words, as you read, you think, “‘This person does this and it reminds me of this person I know,’ and when you think deeply in that way, you get better at empathizing with others,” Oatley said. Even if you may never throw the perfect London party or you never meet a moody teenage wizard.
Lab tests seem to show this.
People who have been reading fiction test higher for empathy. Other brain studies of people who listen to a story with intense emotion show a physical response. Their heart rate changes and brain scans show the area that corresponds with emotion lights up, as if the person was experiencing that emotion personally.
Earlier studies have shown that reading can actually develop neural networks in your brain that can help you understand even more complex thought.
Even if you are not a big reader, there’s still hope.
Past studies have shown serial television programs that are character driven such as “The West Wing” or ” The Good Wife” also “can help you better understand what we human beings are up to,” Oatley said. Other studies have shown watching character-driven sitcoms can lessen a viewers’ prejudice.
Natalie Phillips, an assistant professor of English at Michigan State University, said this current study about fiction is exciting and seems to fit with some of the early data she’s gotten from her own lab tests on readers.
Research on this topic, she said, is only the “tip of the proverbial iceberg.” There is still so much more to learn about what fiction can do for us. She does caution that more lab work needs to be done to see if the empathy someone has for a character extends to others beyond the book. “Because people are feeling something as they read, doesn’t always lead to more positive relationships with someone,” she said. “However, this research marks one of the crucial first steps in that direction toward understanding the intricate cognitive processes involved in literary reading.”
Oatley believes reading can help our emotional development in large part because humans are highly social creatures.
You can be as smart as Sherlock, but to get along well in this life, you really do need to understand people emotionally. And you can’t be as emotionally unavailable as Mr. Darcy throughout much of “Pride and Prejudice.” You have to learn the lesson Jane Austen is trying to teach with that book, Oatley said: To love people, you really have to know them. Perhaps you can do that best by living by the book.
“People say you only get one life,” Oatley said. “But I say read fiction and you can live many lives in one.”
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