PBS has an ancestry show called Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. I never saw it before, but the other night Stephen King was one of their subjects so of course I had to tune in. What I like about this show is that in addition to researching articles and records, they do a DNA test that geographically shows where your ancestors are from. What I don’t love is that they focus on 3 people each episode so you’re constantly switching back and forth, and the subjects don’t go on their own journey – they don’t do the research themselves.
But ancestry is always fascinating to hear about. Stephen King learned some incredible things about his ancestors, particularly their actions during the time of slavery. Watching this person, whose mind has invented so many stories and characters, learn details of his own story was actually kind of fun.
I’ve always wanted to research the Hungarian side of my family because nobody knows anything and the few older relatives don’t talk about the past. When I’m 98, I won’t have the option of keeping the past locked in my head. As long as the internet exists in some form there will be a digital trail of every meal I ate (thanks, to foodie boyfriend), every book I read (thanks, blog), places lived and so on. My nieces will even have a record of who broke the pinata each year thanks to my sister’s Facebook photo albums.
Hopefully there will still be some mysteries deserving of some hands-on research.
If my future ancestors need to know what I watched this week – instead of packing because I’m not allowed to start packing until we sign a lease because last time I packed early we had nothing to cook with or eat on for a month – here it is. I get excited about moving sooooo I’m not the most methodical packer. And once it’s packed, it’s packed!
Instead we watched Hitchcock, the recent movie about the filmmaker, his wife and partner Alma Reville and the making of Psycho. I didn’t know he financed this film himself because Paramount refused to, though they agreed to distribute it (to 2 theaters) for 40% of the profit. Hitchcock mortgaged his home to make this movie, which, next to The Birds and Rear Window, is one of my favorites. For me the best part was learning how the shower scene came together, the plunging knife and his initial reluctance to use music. If you’re a fan of Psycho, you’ll enjoy the back story.
Directed by Eli Roth, this 2002 film is watchable, which is actually saying a lot considering the horrors I’ve found on Netflix lately. It’s kind of gross and not scary at all, but I found it entertaining. Basically 5 friends go to party in a secluded cabin in the woods. There’s the over-sexed couple, the lovesick boy who’s pining over a friend, and the tough talking single dude. They all exercise poor judgement from the start so you know you’re in for a bloody snowball of bad decisions. The action starts when a sick man stumbles to their camp begging for help. These helpful college kids respond with bats, butcher knife and fire. But they feel really bad after.
The fun is knowing the dead man infected their water supply. It’s intended to be a bit over the top, helped by Angelo Badalamenti’s musical score. If his name sounds familiar it’s because he also scored Twin Peaks and other David Lynch projects. Cabin Fever isn’t great, but it’s a good time if you’re in the mood for watching characters do everything you wouldn’t do.
I saved the best for last. Streamable on Netflix, The Devil’s pass is a UK-Russian horror about 5 students who travel from Oregon to Siberia to make a documentary about the Dyatlov Pass Incident in which nine experienced explorers mysteriously died in the Ural Mountains in 1959, their tents in perfect condition other than an opening cut out from the inside. Officially, Soviets ruled natural force as the cause of death, but two of them had their skulls fractured, others had broken ribs and skiers were banned from the area for years. It’s suspicious. Theories range from aliens and paranormal activity, to an avalanche, government cover up and atmospheric electricity. The Daily Mail reported on yet another recent theory by author and film director Donnie Eichar. But they’re only theories. Today we still don’t know what happened to those people.
I don’t usually like movies about someone making a movie, but the shaky camera is minimal until the end. The movie itself is well done, the annoying characters don’t have many lines and the scenery is stunning. They’re tracing the footsteps of an actual true disaster and that gives it an eerie, sometimes somber feel. Then strange footprints are discovered around their tents, a severed tongue is found and things escalate quickly from there. It goes from horror to science fiction-y, but I think they pulled it off. Plus it made me want to learn more about the Philadelphia Experiment.