Autodidact: self-taught


Re-Do Music

by V. L. Craven
Dark Woods 01

Image from the Dark Woods Facebook Page.*

October has been my favourite month since I was old enough to have a favourite month. And this one has been wasted by a prolonged bout with anhedonia, as mentioned in yesterday’s post.

At any rate, I’m calling a Re-Do on October. November is the new October, people. Let’s do this.

To kick things off, here is my Halloween playlist on Spotify . The theme is Evil. You could call it a playlist to commit murder to.

Tracks include:
The American Horror Story Theme
‘Psycho Killer’ – Talking Heads
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ – Rolling Stones
‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ – Tori Amos cover
‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ – Blue Oyster Cult
‘Kiss the Goat’ – Electric Hellfire Club
‘The Garden of Allah’ – Don Henley

‘When You’re Evil’ by Voltaire

and ‘Murdering Oscar’ – Patterson Hood

Squirrel Nut Zippers’ ‘Hell’ is not available, but I’m including it here, because it should be.

And Draco & the Malfoys ‘Party Like You’re Evil’

Another playlist I’m enjoying working on is Autumn is Falling . It’s pretty trip-hop heavy–lots of Portishead, for example. But has loads of other things, as well.

Most of Tori Amos’ Under the Pink and selections from other albums
Selections from Baxter’s first album
Selections from How to Destroy Angel’s first release
Some Lamb
‘Becomes the Color’ – Emily Wells

‘The Funeral’ by Band of Horses

‘When I’m Small’ by Phantogram

And ‘Black Cat’ by Ladytron

I’ll leave you with a song they don’t have on Spotify, but should. The kick-ass live version of Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Black’.

*As mention in the caption, the photo at the top of the page is from the Dark Woods Facebook Page. If you like photos of forests that are spooky a good percentage of the time, give them a like.


The Craft

by V. L. Craven

The Craft

Bookending this October’s media posts with Fairuza Balk. She grew up into a damn fine witch in The Craft.

When I saw this at the cinema as a teenager I was the only person in attendance and they’d put it in the smallest room so I pretended it was a private screening. I was heavily into my witchy-phase, so I was dressed similarly to Fairuza Balk. Though I didn’t have the funds for the wardrobe, I did my best.

Nancy was my favourite. She had a black noose in her locker.

Nancy's Noose

Her expression also sums up how I felt about school.

One of my fav scenes. Those boots. I eventually acquired a pair and they were not comfortable. I think I may have worked out why Nancy was so cranky. A nice pair of trainers may have helped her disposition.

I loved the way all of the girls dressed and, after seeing the film, tried to mimic them as much as possible, minus the Catholic skirts. I was not a short skirt person.

The soundtrack was one of those rare albums without a bad song on it. I listened to it constantly and still enjoy it. Jewel’s Under the Water was a particular fav. It’s probably the only song of hers I like. Here’s the entire album.

In the film, Portishead’s Scorn (a darker remix of Glory Box) is played, but didn’t make it onto the soundtrack. It’s a great song, though, so here it is:

This wraps up the October witchy posts. Thank you for bearing with me through the lack of other posts. I’m trying to get through this bout of anhedonia  and back to regularly scheduled posts.



Lifetime Intimate Portrait Witches

In the 90s Lifetime did a series of Intimate Portraits on famous and important women. One of my favourite episodes was the one on witches. It was narrated by Anjelica Huston. So…all the win.

Unfortunately, there’s only one version on the YouTube and it’s not available to embed, so here are the links.

Part one

Part two

Have a great rest of the weekend and Halloween!


Hocus Pocus – I Put a Spell On You

by V. L. Craven
'Yay! It's my favourite book!'

‘Yay! It’s my favourite book!’

I was a little out of the intended age-range for Hocus Pocus when it was released,but I still enjoyed it. Particularly the party scene.

Bonus random fact time:

Kathy Najimi is always delightful, of course, and she was in Sister Act. Bette was considered for the role that eventually went to Whoopi Goldberg.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Stephen Collins were in Hocus Pocus and First Wives Club with Bette. Parker played Bette’s husband’s new girlfriend. Collins played Diane Keaton’s ex.

Dame Maggie Smith was also in The First Wives Club (and Sister Act) and would go on to play kick-ass witch Professor McGonagall.

At one point in Hocus Pocus Penny and Gary Marshall play a married couple (they’re real-life siblings). Gary Marshall directed Bette in Beaches.

Penny and Gary Marshall

Rosie O’Donnell is a huge Bette Midler fan, as well as a friend of hers. Rosie was directed in A League of Their Own by Penny Marshall and Exit to Eden by Gary Marshall.

Each year Bette also hosts Hulaween, which raises money for the New York Restoration Project and  inspires loads of incredible costumes .


The Witches

by V. L. Craven

I used to be able to quote entire sections of this film. Alas, I cannot find my personal favourite scene, which happens when the Grand High Witch meets up with her nemesis at the hotel–when she sees her on the balcony.


The Worst Witch

by V. L. Craven

It’s finally October! Let’s get this month started right with a classic Halloween film. Diana Rigg, Charlotte Rae, Fairuza Balk and the, always fabulously wicked, Tim Curry? Yes, please!

The entire film on the YouTube? Yes, thank you!



by V. L. Craven

Stoker Film Poster

After high school student, India Stoker’s, father dies suddenly her uncle, Charlie, arrives out of nowhere. He endears himself to Evelyn–his brother’s widow–straightaway, but India distrusts him. It’s odd that she’s never even heard of the man until her father’s funeral. However, the longer he’s around, the more intrigued she becomes. Other people are equally wary of the man, as well, but their objections aren’t heard, as they all seem to disappear rather quickly.

You want dark secrets? You can have them. You want a tense what-the-hell-will-happen atmosphere? Here you are.

Stoker  is sort of American Beauty for psychopaths.

The script is by Wentworth Miller (yes, the guy from Prison Break–it’s his first writing credit, as well–nice one.) The cinematography is gorgeous and the visual effects are stunning. The sets are appropriately elegant and the soundtrack is a perfect complement.

Both Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman are good, but Mia Wasikowska’s India is fantastic. She reminds me of a cross between Wednesday Addams and Darlene Conner in all the best ways.

If you liked The Bleeding House you’ll probably like this and vice versa.

And the posters were great. Have another.

Stoker Poster 2

Emily Wells’ ‘Becomes the Color’ is the song that plays over the end credits. I’m in love with it just a little.


The Kransky Sisters

by V. L. Craven

The Kransky Sisters

The Kransky Sisters are a musical group from Esk, in Queensland, Australia. Their names are Mourne, Eve, Arva and Dawn. Arva and Dawn have a different father than Mourne and Eve. Dawn took over tuba duties when Arva went off to join the Hornbell Military Marching Band. More information about their background here.

They live a very sheltered existence, but enjoy listening to music on the wireless and sharing dry, macabre stories before doing their versions of popular songs, which are always oddly applicable to the stories they tell.

I’m pretty sure they were the entertainment at the gathering in The Witches–we just didn’t stick around long enough to see them perform.

Basically, they’re my favourite thing at the mo. It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever wished I lived in Australia.

From their website: In a quiet town in the middle of south east Queensland lives a huddle of strange sisters, whom, in between tending ants, knitting egg warmers, and hanging out cane toad skins to dry, travel around the country performing their popular musical shows to a growing following. With kitchen pot, toilet brush, keyboard, musical saw, tuba, guitar and duelling tambourines these three weird yet endearing spinsters present offbeat covers of songs ranging from Nana Mouskouri and Eurythmics to Talking Heads and The Bee Gees.

The sisters give us a bit more of their biological background in this video before they sing a bit of Highway to Hell:

The Kransky Sisters Banner

Until I learned about them, I had no idea a musical saw sounded so much like a theremin.

They also do hilarious print interviews, where they say things like:

EM: One of your covers ‘Pop Musik’ you heard in a disco at a night called Stark Raving Mad. Did you have a good experience? Would you go out clubbing again?

Kranksys: Those clubs are a bit strange. They look like one big dressing room, but no-one is putting their clothes back on. They are not kept well at all either. There was some sort of electricity problem the night we went to one, because the lights wouldn’t stop flashing on and off. They were faulty. Then there was a terrible screeching, scratching sound and smoke was everywhere. We left straight after we called the fire brigade.

I’ll leave you with a video of an interview:


This Way Up

by V. L. Craven

In This Way Up, a couple of hapless, British undertakers are just trying to get their patron to her destination in one piece and right way up. But everyone has those days…



by V. L. Craven


Behind Closed Doors by Jonathan Button

by V. L. Craven

Behind Closed Doors

In Behind Closed Doors by Jonathan Button, little Gregory lives in fear of his father and of the monster in his wardrobe. It’s debatable which one is more terrifying, but one evening, as his drunken father is taking his rage out on Gregory’s mother, the little boy decides to meet the monster in his closet.

This is the second film from Jonathan Button (I believe, I could be mistaken) so there’s some room for improvement, but it’s still quite interesting.

My only question is… Why isn’t there anything in Gregory’s wardrobe? I mean, aside from the monster. I know, I know, it’s cruel to keep your monsters in a cramped cupboard, but still, doesn’t the kid have clothes?


Children by Takuya Okada

by V. L. Craven


Children is a 3D CG animation by Takuya Okada about the programming of children to be well-behaved, silent, clones of one another. It’s not just the kids, though. Everything is a copy of everything else. There is zero individuality. It’s a nice little commentary on society’s encouragement of fitting in, of doing as you’re told. If you are the person they tell you to be you always get 100 percent. That rhymed. That’d be the perfect motto of some dystopian world.

The music is a funeral dirge, which is a nice touch, and the palette is grey-brown. Interestingly, the symbol for individuality is black. I rather enjoy that, since people who wear all black in our society are generally looked at as misfits and many filmmakers would have chosen to make the symbol a bright colour.

I couldn’t find other animations by Okada, which was disappointing, but my Google-fu is notoriously weak, so if you know of any, please leave a comment.

Within the first minute or so I thought, this is a twenty-first century ‘Another Brick in the Wall.’

And there are loads of covers of the song, but Marilyn Manson’s is a personal favourite.


The Tale of How

by V. L. Craven

Tale of How Print 3

The Tale of How by The Blackheart Gang is a musical piece about dodos who live in a tree growing out of the head of an octopus named Otto. Otto wants to eat the dodos.

Tale of How 05

Style-wise there’s a bit of William Morris about it, and Tim Burton and Steampunk. And the tentacles swooping things beneath the sea had a Victorian sailors-in-peril vibe.

Tale of How 04

Even aside from those things, I have something of an affinity for dodos, due to my enjoyment of the Thursday Next series and the main character’s pet dodo, Pickwick, who says Plock Plock and loves marshmallows.

Tale of How Print By The Blackheart Gang

Then there’s the eye-popping artwork. All of the images in this post are enlargeable. They are also prints over on their website , as well as other information. Including a ‘Making of’ video.

Tale of How Print 02

It’s been quite some time since they’ve updated the site. I can only hope they’re still working on the other two pieces in the trilogy, because I need to see more dodo adventures!


Ten Thousand Days

by V. L. Craven

Ten Thousand Days Still

In Ten Thousand Days, a man lives his life believing he’s going to die on his ten thousandth day. Things don’t go according to plan and that’s when his life really gets interesting.

Ten Thousand Days from Michael Duignan on Vimeo .



Ask a Mortician

by V. L. Craven

Caitlin Doughty

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician in L.A. who is interested in bring death back into everyday life. To this end, she has a website, The Order of the Good Death, which includes a video series called Ask a Mortician where anyone with access to an internet connection can ask questions about Mortuary Science. There’s also a Facebook page and a Twitter account .

Madam Doughty is very personable and hilarious. And she has a Siamese cat that is quite enjoyable to watch.

The intro music reminds me of the incidental music of The Worst Witch . Whether or not that was intentional, it’s a plus. Big super plus.

Thus far there are twenty-two videos and I recommend all of them. But here are a few of my favourites.

To the Morbid Kids: It Gets Better!

Episode Three , which involves tattoos and Tibetan Sky Burial, but is not embeddable, for some reason.

Behold! An episode including Mary Roach!

This one is about decomposition! Using puppets!


This one covers different types of body disposal.


Exploding Caskets! KABOOM!


Donating your body to science (with grave robbers !)


The obligatory, but still very informative, Halloween episode:


And last but absolutely NOT least, she has an excellent video about how to talk about death with kids.


Bonus: She also did a very fun interview with Jeff Probst on his show:

So there you go. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and like her page and follow her Twitter and RSS her blog or whatever because she is funny and smart and she talks about dead things in funny and smart ways, for example this essay about why you should not take burial advice from country music songs.


The Colors of Evil

by V. L. Craven

In the Colors of Evil a goth girl is bullied by chipper girl. Goth girl gets book on demon-summoning. Summons demon that isn’t exactly what she had in mind.

But sometimes you just have to trust your demon to know what it’s doing. I know of what I speak. :wise nods:

Demon Summoning for Kids

You have to start somewhere…

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