Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Buffy Revisited

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 2

Xander : (digging) Y'know, this might go a lot faster if you femmes actually picked up a shovel, too.
Giles : Hear, hear.
Buffy : Sorry, but I'm an old fashioned gal. I was raised to believe that men dig up the corpses and the women have the babies.
Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer began with Buffy returning to Sunnydale after having spent the summer in LA with her father. Secretly traumatized by her near-death experience at the hands of the Master, Buffy began to behave badly rather than confiding in her friends and confronting her fears. This was epitomized by an emotionally uncomfortable scene (a Joss Whedon trademark), in which  Buffy performed a little seduction dance for Xander, and essentially killed three birds with one stone by spurning Angel, betraying Willow, and leading Xander on, only to reject him. Meanwhile, after gaping at the whole performance, Cordelia briefly set aside her crown as Sunnydale's queen of mean, and gave the Slayer a little advice about the road she was headed down if she didn't deal with her issues.

 Big Bads

Spike : I want to save the world.
Buffy : You do remember that you're a vampire, right?

 We like to talk big. Vampires do. "I'm going to destroy the world." That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got... dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people, billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision, with a real... passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?
For me, one of the best aspects of the second season was the arrival of the reckless and impetuous vampire, Spike. From the moment he drove into town, unceremoniously knocking down the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign in the process, I knew he was going to be a spectacular character. 

Initially it seemed that Collin, the Anointed One, and charismatic leader of the vampire "Order of Aurelius", was destined to be the season's Big Bad, but in a surprise move, Spike tossed the child into a cage and killed him by hoisting him into the sunlight. With Collin gone, Spike assumed leadership with his ailing vampire girlfriend, Drusilla, at his side. Apparently, Joss Whedon has said that although the Annointed One was intended to be the villain of the season, the child who portrayed him, Andrew J. Ferchland, was growing too quickly to remain believable as a perpetual child. 

In spite of the damage Spike and Drusilla wreaked upon Sunnydale during the course of the season, it eventually became apparent that the true Big Bad was actually Angel, or his gypsy-curse-free alter ego, Angelus. Angel's betrayal of Buffy, followed by a string of cruel and sadistic acts, provided the show with some of its all-time most poignant and dramatic moments. When Angelus came between Spike and his love, Drusilla, Spike formed an uneasy alliance with Buffy, which was to foreshadow future story lines in the series.

Romantic Dramas

Willow : Love makes you do the wacky.
The course of true love never runs smoothy in the Buffyverse and Season 2 was no exception to that rule. Cordelia solidified her position as a bona fide "Scooby-gang" member and embarked upon a hilarious love/hate relationship with Xander. This was, of course, much to the dismay of the lovelorn Willow, although Season 2 did see her eventually become involved with werewolf, Oz.

Angel's switch to the dark side was a tragic loss for Buffy, but it also had repercussions for her Watcher, Rupert Giles. Seeking to taunt Buffy, Angelus murdered Jenny Calendar, Giles' love interest.

Even the vampires suffered a few romantic hurdles as Angelus sought to drive a wedge between Spike and Drusilla.

Classic Movie Monsters

Cordelia : You, you, you! What about me?! It's one thing to be dating the lame unpopular guy, but it's another to be dating the Creature from the Blue Lagoon.
Xander : Black Lagoon! The Creature from the Blue Lagoon was Brooke Shields. And thank you so much for your support!
While Season One featured fear archetypes like killer clowns, ventriloquist dummies, and demon children, Season 2 paid homage to a number of classic horror movie monsters. Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon were all given the Buffy treatment.

Vampire Decor

Angelus : And this... this is the garden.
Drusilla : Wow! Look. Jasmine.
Angelus : Night blooming.
Drusilla : Like us. Oh, Angel, it's fairyland. (Turns in excitement.) Oh!
Spike : It's paradise. Big windows, lovely gardens. It'll be perfect when we want the sunlight to kill us.
With the arrival of Spike and Drusilla in Sunnydale, and Angel's defection to the dark side, there was the opportunity in Season 2 to focus on the living arrangements of the vampires. Their dysfunctional family life began in an abandoned factory, which was given an appropriately dark, theatrical makeover with dramatic dining furniture, candles, and Drusilla's collection of creepy dolls.

Much to Spike's vexation however, the vampires were forced to flee the factory, and move into an empty mansion, after Angelus killed Miss Calendar, and provoked Giles into exacting a little fiery vengeance. Their new lair had a vine covered walled garden appropriately filled with night blooming jasmine.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Witches Yuletide Ball

On December 10, The Witch of Howling Creek and On the Broomstick blogs will be co-hosting a magical Yule themed blog party called "The Witches Yuletide Ball". One of the organizers, Dana, suggests the Yuletide post could be: "A memory, recipe, tradition, well wish, giveaway, photo essay...whatever. As long as it is about Yule and having a magical holiday." If you're interested in joining the party, or would like more information on the event, you can click the link here, or on the button in the sidebar.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The 13 Days of Creepmas!

"The 13 Days of Creepmas"  is a lighthearted blog initiative dedicated to adding a big sack of Halloween spookiness to Santa's sleigh during the first 13 days of December. (Don't worry, the big guy can handle it!) In the words of the organizers, it's about "giving Christmas the Jack Skellington treatment".

For more information, or to join the ever-burgeoning ranks of "Creepers", click here, or on the Creepmas button in the sidebar.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Post-Halloween Post

There's no tradition of Halloween in Australia. It is still very much regarded as an American holiday, and only superficially celebrated. There are occasional costume parties, a bit of random trick or treating, and increasingly, Halloween candy and other paraphernalia are available on the supermarket shelves, but in general, Australia has not really embraced the night when the veil between the worlds is at its thinest. Me? Well, that's a whole other story. I love Halloween.

The Skeleton Dance

For me, Halloween is like The Addams Family television show, or The Skeleton Dance. It's all about the lighter side of the dark side. A time to put the cute into creepy, and the kooky into spooky.

The Addams Family

Of course, without any true frame of reference, anything I know about Halloween, I've learned  from watching American movies and television. Since starting this blog however, and becoming acquainted with many hardcore Halloween enthusiasts, I now realize that my knowledge of Halloween customs barely scratches the surface. Until recently, I had never heard the expression "yard haunt". Nor was I aware that the entire month of October was filled with seasonal festivities like corn mazes, bonfires, hayrides, and caramel apples, not to mention a plethora of pumpkin flavoured products. You see, I live on the other side of the globe, where it is currently Spring, not Autumn, so I have to content myself with my own cobbled together version of Halloween.

My Jack-o'-Lantern

I carved my first pumpkin several years ago. It was a Queensland Blue variety. For those not familiar with the Queensland Blue pumpkin, the experience of carving it was akin to sawing through hard wood. It took me five hours to carve a basic Jack-o'-Lantern face. Fortunately, the lovely orange, and much more pliable, American pumpkins are now available here, although they are outrageously expensive. This year's pumpkin cost a whopping $18.50! And that was after waiting until the last minute, and purchasing one that was reduced to half-price.

Although I admire the artistry of the intricate designs that many people carve into their pumpkins, as you can see, when it comes to carving my own pumpkin, I favour the simple Jack-o'-Lantern face.

Hocus Pocus

Beyond a Jack-o'-Lantern, and a few decorations, my Halloween ritual basically consists of a nice dinner, followed by some kind of spooky, but lighthearted or kooky movie. Terror is fine on every other day of the year, but Halloween is about fun. Tim Burton's movies often fit the bill. Other Halloween favourites include, The Frighteners, Monster House, Coraline, and Ghostbusters. This year we opted for Hocus Pocus.

My Skull Cake

I always make some sort of treat to enjoy while we watch our movie, so this year I thought I'd try and make a skull cake. It was a pretty freestyle creation and nothing fancy, but I think it turned out kind of cute. I just carved a skull shape out of a round cake, and then made a stencil out of baking paper for the face. The cake was just a vanilla butter cake, with a vanilla butter cream icing, and the eyes, nose and mouth were made from cocoa and sugar.

So, that was my Halloween. I'd love to hear how you celebrated your Halloween?