The Grady Twins

Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “2”.  I almost immediately decided to draw the Grady twins from ‘The Shining’, which probably tells you something about the workings of my brain.  ‘The Shining’ is one of my favourite horror movies because I love how open to interpretation it is, how unresolved it all remains, and how unsettling it is for those very reasons.  Those are precisely the same reasons why my husband loathes the movie.  The Grady twins are significant in the film in terms of contributing to the disturbing atmosphere and in terms of their symbolism.  I drew Danny from ‘The Shining’ for Inktober 2016 but in some ways I am surprised that I have not drawn the Grady twins in many years.  Maybe I should add a whole Shining series of illustrations to my ever-growing Art To Do list.

6 - The Grady Twins - The Shining - Art Journal Illustration

 

Road Trip #2 – Evans City Cemetery

“They’re coming to get you, Barbra.”

If you recognise that quotation then you may well be able to hazard a guess as to our first stop on the second day of our family road trip.  George Romero famously shot his 1968 movie ‘Night of the Living Dead’ in the environs of Pittsburgh so – as a massive zombie and movie fan – there was no way I could depart the area without paying homage.  My top choice was Evans City Cemetery, shooting location for the iconic opening scene.

I have loved ‘Night of the Living Dead’ since I was a wee girl.  Back when I first saw it, I simply loved it for the zombie horror aspect and its grotesque moments of shock and horror.  It was compelling stuff and set in motion by whole zombie fixation.  Returning to the film as I got older, however, I began to enjoy the other layers in the movie: the themes of alienation and identity, societal dynamics, its exploration of the nature of and reaction to fear, its study of inversions, and also the film making with its structure, sense of urgency, camera angles and gritty monochrome, plus its explosive use of the twist.  Anyway, you get the idea: I absolutely love the movie.

I will be vague in order to avoid spoilers but the opening scene involves Johnny and Barbra visiting the grave of their father in the cemetery, Johnny teasing Barbra, and them being assailed by a strange bloke.  I had the images from this scene fixed in my mind so all we had to do was locate the correct spot in the cemetery in order to reproduce the scenes.  I had my DSLR with me and my kids had their video camera so we could capture our pilgrimage in stills and video.

Evans City Cemetery is reached via a winding, uphill road lined with trees which then emerges into the cemetery with a little chapel on the left.  While I had no expectation of the cemetery looking spookily spine-chilling, I had not anticipated just how lovely it would be.  As a rural cemetery tucked away from the town’s main thoroughfares, it was serenely quiet and glowing in the summer sunshine.  It was also immaculately maintained and spacious, with headstones surrounding a war memorial like ripples in a pond.  It was actually a really charming place and I felt rather sorry that I was only visiting it for reasons of horror.

2016-07-17 10.10.15

It took us very little time and wandering before we found the grave of a chap named Nicholas Kramer.  This gravestone is foregrounded in some key shots in the movie’s opening scene hence it being the subject of our quest and also fairly easy to identify.  We had turns of being Barbra posing beside the grave, looking anxious and fretful.

DSC_0013

Finding the grave that Johnny and Barbra visit – standing in for their father’s grave – was a little trickier since it is only shown from the back with no inscription visible but we used the available clues from wide shots and glimpses of text on adjacent graves to locate the correct one.

DSC_0008

Movie pilgrimage mission accomplished, Mr Pict, our oldest son and I had a wander around the cemetery while our other three sons filmed scenes for their very own zombie movie.   My 10 year old had even packed zombie teeth in his backpack for just this occasion.  He was the director and they took turns at being cinematographer and cast.  I like to think Romero would approve of their homage.

DSC_0046

DSC_0029

DSC_0002

DSC_0025

DSC_0051

PS  I just wanted to reassure readers that we were mindful and respectful of the setting and fellow visitors at all times.

The Force Awakens (No Spoilers)

Fear ye not, you shall find no spoilers here.  Furthermore, this is not a movie review blog.  You are safe.  Read on if you are so inclined.

So apparently along with much of the population, we Picts went to see ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ this weekend.  My husband – the biggest Star Wars nerd in the family by far – had been tempted to do the seven movie marathon at our local cinema but then saw sense so we were all able to go and see if for the first time together.  Tickets were pre-ordered, SW themed clothing was donned (except by me) and off we trotted to the cinema.

DSC_0007

We arrived an hour early but even then we had to join a lengthy queue to get into our screen.  We played Star Wars Top Trumps in the line in order to stave off any boredom and moaning.  The atmosphere was lovely.  Everyone was excited and was geeking out.  A trio of young men in front of us were doing wookiee impressions.  I loved that we were sharing this experience with our kids.  My husband and I saw the original triology in the cinema when we were wee (I did not see the A New Hope on its original release, of course, since I was actually too wee) and they were a set of movies that stuck with us our entire lives.  I loved the movies but am mostly a SW nerd by affiliation.  My husband is a SW nut.  Our kids were weaned onto SW at an early age.  I have video of my second son, as a baby, being able to name SW characters.  Of course, what we enthused about were the original triology.  The prequels were astoundingly dismal.  My husband and I still saw that trilogy in the cinema but we left disappointed every time.

I, therefore, went into the cinema feeling cynical about this new sequel but hopeful nevertheless; I left the cinema feeling relieved and entertained.  It was a rollocking fun movie with soundly defined characters, solid performances, great set pieces, and enough references, mirroring and echoes of the original movies to make it part of a cohesive sequel and to satiate the nerdom of we SW fans.  There was also an avoidance of exposition (something which made the prequels so snoresome) which in turn creates intrigue for the forthcoming movies.  All six of us found lots to dissect, discuss and analyse once we were back in our car (having taken a vow of silence in the cinema lest we accidentally spoil it for someone overhearing us).  Best of all, my concerns that my husband might need therapy if the new movie turned out to be rubbish were made irrelevant.  All six Pict movie nerds were happy.

 

Saturday Night at the Movies

Last night our township organised a free drive-in movie event.  I have only ever been to a drive-in cinema once.  That was in Vermont in the Summer of 2001 and I saw a Jackie Chan movie.  The film was actually just a sideshow to the whole experience of being at a drive-in movie theatre, one of those iconic American things to do.  It was a very fun experience.  We were keen to have the boys experience that so, although it was not actually a designated drive-in cinema, we all went along for the evening.

The movie was being shown in the car park of the university campus.  The car park was on a slight gradient though it could not compare to the proper ramped parking at a permanent drive-in.  The screen (which was inflatable) was also a quarter of the size of a usual drive-in cinema.  We did not care a jot for either of these technicalities.  It was all about the experience.  Heck, even the movie we were going to see was one we had all seen umpteen times before (the excellent ‘Monsters University’).  We had a bit of a worry about visibility of the screen.  This was because some people were sitting in the boots (trunks) of their cars but that meant the boot doors were raised and limiting our ability to see the screen.  Thankfully a quiet word later the boot doors were lowered and we could see again.  As well as people sitting in their boots, there were also people sitting out in front of their cars in deckchairs and even people sitting on top of the roofs of their vehicles.  We opened the sun roof to reduce fogging of the windscreen and the children all demonstrated signs of being tempted to clamber out of it but Mr Pict and I soon put the kibosh on any such plans.

We had a great time watching the movie.  The screen was a bit murky at first until we were plunged into proper darkness and the colours become more vivid but, as we had seen the film before, that was not a problem for us.  The sound quality coming through the car radio was great.  The boys chewed and chomped their way through a packet of gummi bears each and were engrossed in the film.  Even when it started to rain, we just closed the sun roof, switched on the windscreen wipers and kept watching.

It was a fun first experience of drive-in cinema and now we cannot wait to take the boys to a proper drive-in.  Roll on Summer.