Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Grim History: Deadly Make-up, from the 18th to the 20th century

Oh beauty, the fickle poison which stings the eye and fades to dust. A memory more pained by wither'd age, left to rot on life's cruel stage.

The greatest irony about beauty is that so many times the things we've thought to preserve it were the very things that destroyed it the fastest. White lead to obtain that pearly complexion, arsenic to preserve the skin, belladonna to enhance those gorgeous eyes, and so on and so forth. A volume could be written on corsets, of course, and many have. So, in the interest of time, today I'd simply like to focus on the cosmetics, and save bone training for another day.

Ann Thistlethwaite, Countess of Chesterfield. A slender, well-kept lady of her day. I'd like to imagine she was quite fashionable, given how nicely her hair was powdered, how pristine and white her skin was with just the faintest hint of rouge on her youthful cheeks. The early 18th century was hardly unique with their poisonous beauty treatments. You'd be surprised, but the danger was not in the hair powder, and only on occasion did a lady (or even man) with somewhat eccentric hairstyles happen to catch fire on low-hanging chandeliers.

The real killer in the mid-18th century was the white lead foundation so prized by the upperclass at the time, no thanks to fashions originating from the Elizabethan period (as I'm sure you're all aware of Queen Elizabeth's infamous bright red hair and ghostly complexion.) The opacity of the lead itself was what made it so popular, allowing every blemish or spot to be thickly disguised. It is little to no surprise that quite a lot of actresses especially died at young ages from lead poisoning, given that stage make-up had to be even heavier than the average lady's.

The lead didn't stop there, however, and despite the fact that it was known to be poisonous, there were even instances of lead in hair products, rouges, and all manner of cosmetics beyond foundation. In fact, when it came to rouge, they'd make some lovely combinations of lead and vinegar or lead and mercury for just the right touch of healthy, luscious pink. It was a pretty vicious cycle, the lead foundations, because the more one would apply the more their skin would break out into horrible rashes or open sores, so they'd apply even more to cover that up. Combine this with the mercury and copper to further agitate one's skin, and it really makes you begin to realize the truth in the age-old saying "you have to suffer for beauty."

Act now, ladies to redeem this ad, and get an extra dose of an agonizing and slow death! If you've still got hair left when you're through, we'll throw in a scalding hot fireplace iron so you can burn it off.

There was a time during Victoria's reign in which cosmetics were deemed improper, and I've no doubt that more men and women were spared from premature deaths by their own hands, if you'll of course ignore all of the horrible 'medicines', barbaric surgery, lack of proper hygiene, and various other dangers of the times. This couldn't last forever, though, and there were still plenty of people applying make-up like crazy.

Eventually, the a la mode of cure-all beauty treatments became arsenic. Of course there were safer options for freckle removal, such as honey and sand, or vinegar, buttermilk, and lemon juice washes. Still, basting their faces simply wasn't enough for women seeking true beauty. So, after all else failed, they always went back to arsenic. From better to worse, or maybe it's the other way around. I'll have to get back to you on that. 

Then, finally, as the Edwardian era was beginning to come to its end, we have something even worse than arsenic or lead. A cosmetic so awful, that routine use of it left people with honey-combed bones, tumors, and even disintegrating jaws. I'm talking, of course, about Radium.

It wasn't really something used for cosmetics alone. Once Radium was discovered, because it seemed so magical with its glowing qualities and seemingly mysterious characteristics, companies were throwing Radium in just about everything. Butter, paint, dishes, clothing, contraceptives, medicines, you name it. There was even Radiated water. One man was so convinced of its efficacy that he drank several bottles a day, and when he was buried, he had no jaw left so speak of.

The main belief was that Radium invigorated and revitalized. Funny how that seems to have been the same belief for mercury throughout history. If it burns, surely it must be working. It seems that France and England were the main victims of Radium marketing, though there was still some use of it in the American market. Shamefully, that didn't prevent the most famous disaster of Radium poisoning from happening on American soil, and maybe some day I may touch on the Radium girls. Because of their suffering, and the drawn-out legal battles that eventually resulted (though it did not prevent these young women from dying in the most painful ways one can imagine) finally made the world realize Radium was not to be trifled with.

Some day, we may look back on the beauty products we wear now and wonder what grandma was thinking greasing her face down with -INSERT UNKNOWN DEADLY POISON HERE-, which is a great case for product testing, but there's no turning back the clock now for the many who had to suffer and die so that we could learn from their vanity. Victims of beauty in the cruelest sense of the word.

Monday, October 16, 2017

5 More Horrific Soundtracks

This Halloween season has been pretty quiet. Oh, there's plenty of screams to wake you up at night, along with those pesky bumps. Then, of course, you've got the cackling witches in your backyard (why they can't get their own damned giant cauldron to chant Shakespeare quotes, I haven't a clue), but where's the music? The carols? The mood-setting tunes? They are, as always, in the movies. Bringing you back around once more for even more epic horror OST's, and here's hoping you have an awesome Halloween.

Oh, by the way, I did finally get around to watching Mephisto Waltz. It was good, but the score was better.

1. Suspiria

It would be a crime to forget Goblin on another one of these OST horror lists, and an absolute tragedy to forget Suspiria. Chilling, beautiful, and packed with atmosphere. There could have been no artists to rival the beauty of the movie and pair so well with Argento's masterpiece than Goblin.

2. Return of the Living Dead

Maybe I'm in a metal mood. A punk mood. An 80s mood. Or, maybe, just maybe--Return of the Living Dead has not only one of the most epic title songs in cinematic history (well, maybe not traditionally epic, but definitely awesome), but it's an arrangement of some of my absolute favorite music artists to boot.

3. Near Dark

Tangerine dream. There's just something about them. Even though synthesizers aren't generally my style, they somehow manage to take the style and create something absolutely beautiful. Another excellent example of a band that paired so well with the atmosphere of the movie, I can't imagine anyone else being quite so perfect.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street part 3: Dream Warriors

Okay, so why didn't I pick part 1? That's where the original title song came from, isn't it? Yes, however, part 1 didn't have Dokken. Part 3 did. They have a lot more fun with rock in this one than the earlier two did, and it definitely shows in the somewhat 'metal' moments of the better character deaths.

5. 28 Days Later

When this film came out, my mom immediately rushed out to buy the cd. Neither of us had heard anything like it before, or seen a film quite so groundbreaking. Yes, say what you will about 28 Days now, but there's no denying that it transformed the genre of zombie films. I'd say maybe the same way Sam Peckinpah changed westerns. The music is jarring, gritty, and yet--absolutely beautiful, beginning to end.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Halloween Bath Bomb Recipes

There are two times you'll find yourself routinely soaking in boiling water: when you're in the process of becoming a delicious stew for your friendly neighborhood cannibals, and when you're just in the mood for a nice bath. Me, personally, I like my baths hot enough to turn me lobster red. As far as being prepared for a meal goes, I'd like to at least thing I didn't get the same kind of crustacean treatment, but you can't always pick and choose. Cannibals probably don't like the taste of bath salts, bombs, or soaps. Even if the smell is incredible. Then, when it comes to having an amazing soak in your bathtub, those things can get so darn expensive! 8-12 dollars just for a bath? Surely you want something more out of it than a half hour soak. That's where these awesome crafty recipes come in, just in time for Halloween season....they may only last for a couple of minutes, but they sure are fun to make.

Be sure to check out the other amazing videos from these creators if you liked their spooky selections. They really are all pretty awesome.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Drive-in Trailers: Melt Movies

Back once more to the silver screen. Or perhaps the green screen. There's a bit of yellow there, too...wait, what part of your body was yell--you know what? I don't need to know. The point is, you're a puddle of goop on the floor now with nowhere else to go but down.

Melt horror, probably one of the most obscure subgenres out there, I didn't even know it existed until I got a little too much into a Street Trash streaming group the other night. Man, the 80s were jam-packed with some of the best physical effects. Melt horror is the goriest, grossest, and best of the lot, incorporating puppetry, fake slime, blood, you name it...all in the most gruesome, entertaining ways. So, without further ado, let's pay tribute to these awful cult classics with a list of trailers (and maybe start off with a fake short film I think you'll enjoy).

Friday, October 13, 2017

Vintage Comics: Nightmare, Issue #3: The Werewolf of Washington Square, Cup of Moonglow (Cover - Pg. 13)

Whew! Almost mid-October (happy Friday the 13th, and I hope you're enjoying a bit of Jason slaughter today!) The posts are warming up, and so is my grad school homework. Still, I've found time to upload yet another vintage comic. This one is in far worse shape than the others I've managed to scrounge up, but the art is - - well, how should I put it? Cartoonier? A little more offbeat? Somehow, at the same time, certain elements of these stories are also pretty detailed towards realism. In fact, the werewolf face is remarkably similar to Dr. Hyde in the '31 film. 21 years after the fact, I can't help but wonder if the artist sourced a lobby card or old poster, perhaps?

Following on the tail-end of the glory days (pre-code horror comics), I sort of appreciate the pulp-ish inspiration they clearly drew from on the cover art. It's also a victim of radio-style dialog, per usual for the earlier stuff, but there's a certain charm to that too. The first story is...well...I mean it's a basic werewolf plot. Incredbly basic. Bare bones down to the character name (Eric Lupin.) The second story proves yet another age-old fact. You can't trust men. You can't trust women. You definitely can't trust gigantic Amazonian witch snakes.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book of the Week: Evil Ernie - Youth Gone Wild, by Brian Pulido

It's not pretty. It's not happy. Hell, it's not even cute, but you can't deny this one simple fact: Evil Ernie rocks. For those of you familiar with The Mask series of comics, you know, the dark one, I'm sure your appetite for violence and animated gore is fairly intense. So why not give Evil Ernie a shot?

It's not really about the plot. A young man driven mad by a combination of severe child abuse and a bizarre dream machine that links him to lady death (either death incarnate, or just a really crazy bitch who likes to wake up to a pile of corpses in the morning). One thing leads to another, and he gets killed with yet another experiment, only to come back with mental powers. Every person he kills becomes a bloodthirsty zombie, intent on helping Ernie create an army of 'friends'.

That's really all there is to the plot, to be honest, but it's a fun ride there, and this issue only left me hungry for the rest of them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Horror Flick of the Week: The Final Girls (2015)

I have a confession. I'm a movie snob. I've got a strict 'no insult/putdown' rule on this blog for movies, because no matter how bad the picture, a film always has a lot of work put into it, and there's going to be an audience for just about everything. Still, I am a movie snob. It's tough for me to put on a lot of new things, because I have this desperate fear I'll waste ten or more minutes of my life on a film I may hate. Even after hearing rave reviews about this one, listening to an interview with the director, and adoring the description...the poster had me convinced I just wouldn't like it...

This movie, my friends, is why I have to remind myself NOT to judge anything by its cover. I loved it. Every shot, every second, every line. As a not-so-subtle tribute to everything camp slasher (literal summer camp slasher), and a clear nod to the Friday the 13th series, it was perfect. Do yourself a favor this week, and if not now, then definitely on this Friday the 13th...watch some F13...and then pop in The Final Girls. You will love it.

On another note, best striptease scene ever. EVER. Yes, my friends, even Dusk Till Dawn.