Pick up Every Stitch

This Samhain passed quietly, without a single trick or treater, despite our expertly carved pumpkin in the window. People don’t really celebrate Halloween here– it is seen as a crass commercialisation of an ancient Celtic holiday, a “Yank” import.

It remains my favourite holiday, and really, I celebrate it all year round. Last night we had to decide what horror movie to watch. I don’t like to watch anything too scary at night. I love horror films but I have to watch them during the day.  So that ruled out most things, leaving us with our Hammer boxed set, Ginger Snaps, and Season of the Witch from 1972.

George Romero’s little known masterpiece of Suburban witchcraft is a nod to the pyschological horror of Hardy’s The Turn of the Screw while still being a feminist meditation on the mainstreaming of non-conformity happening in the early 1970s.  It is also proof of the power of a title– marketed as “Hungry Wives” in the US and “Jack’s Wife” in the UK, both distort for me the heart of the film. The thrill of watching this is similar to seeing the seductive and colourful British folk customs through a cinematic distortion in original The Wicker Man.Here we get to glimpse of the pagan rituals of a solitary witch who later joins a coven, all glamorised for the big screen.  Of course, this might seem cliche– we have had many witches on mainstream telly in recent years. But Jan White’s sincere performance of a woman coming to power strikes me as very real in a film genre that is full of histrionics and dazed women victims.  As she discovers who she is, you feel as if you are seeing this moment of transformation for the first time as well.  Romero says it is the only one of his films he would like to remake, and I would be curious to see that happen.

Miniature witch ball, inspired by old Yorkshire custom, available in different colours in my Etsy shop.

“The Wintering Party” live at Witness

A year or so ago, I became obsessed with the Dyatlov Pass Incident, the unsolved disappearance of nine hikers in the Urals in Soviet Russia.  I wrote a story about it, taking many liberties with the known facts but trying to preserve its uncanny effect on me.  That story has been published by Witness– you can read it online here: http://witness.blackmountaininstitute.org/author/allysonshaw/