Autodidact: self-taught


The Bleeding House

by V. L. Craven

The Bleeding House poster

I was originally attracted to The Bleeding House by its poster. There wasn’t a half-naked, sweaty girl looking terrified on it, nor did it have rusty implements of torture on. It didn’t seem to be standard fare, and it wasn’t.

First, there were no big names in the cast. This is excellent because it’s easier to believe a story if you don’t immediately recognise people (it occurred to me later that the lead male had been fantastic in Galaxy Quest, but at the time he was just a creepy guy in a very neat suit.)

Second, I had no idea where the plot was going. When you watch a lot of films it’s difficult to be too surprised, but this one kept me guessing more than most.

Those two things can give a thriller a head-start, as it were, because you’re not instantly thinking about the other things you’ve seen the big actors in that weren’t so formulaic and hoping they bought something nice with all the formulaic money so they can get back to making films that aren’t crap.

But back to The Bleeding House.

The Bleeding House still

‘Hello Clarice.’ … wait, wrong film.

The plot revolves around a family, the Smiths, that has been ostracized (or possibly is under self-imposed exile) from the nearby town. The reasons become clearer throughout the film, but there’s clearly something off about at least one of the family members. [If you like that sort of setup, I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.]

A genteel Southern stranger has car trouble and asks for their help. Never let genteel Southern strangers in your house. (Or the non-genteel sort, either, as those always end up being inbred cannibals.) And then the fun begins!

I don’t want to say more about the plot; just watch it. And if you’ve seen it, please leave a comment below.


Grimm Love

by V. L. Craven

An American Masters student becomes fascinated by the case of Armin Meiwes , the German who took out an advert to find someone willing to be eaten and killed, in that order.

The student envies the relationship between the men, since they so clearly ‘fit’ with one another. Each saw the darkest side of the other and were drawn closer because of it.

The student (an unrecognisable Keri Russell) goes to Germany and looks into the past of both men, which we see in nicely-done flashbacks. She begins frequenting cannibalism forums (something I have not researched, but no doubt exist) as she becomes more deeply drawn into the case.

At the end the student finds the video of the meal/murder and is repulsed. This is supposed to be redemptive, I suppose, because she’s revolted by the reality behind what she’d thought of as a perfect relationship. Which was meh, though I’m not sure of another way it could end.

Prior to this film, I knew only that a man had advertised for someone to eat and another man had responded to that ad, so learning about the background of both men was part of the appeal.

Grimm Love Wikipedia page,  which includes spoilers.

Bonus Info: I couldn’t remember the real names of either of the men and when I searched ‘German cannibal’ Wikipedia came up with five. I thought that was a lot until I checked ‘American cannibals,’ which returned 21. There’s nothing for ‘British cannibals’. ‘English cannibals’ only asks if I meant ‘English Canadians’.


[Bonus: Last week on Slate they had an article about the ‘Cannibal cop’ in New York, wherein they discuss both Meiwes and the current fetishizing of cannibalism. Fascinating stuff.]

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