Christine McConnell is one amazing talent. From her freakish baked goods to her impeccably styled photography, her brand is utterly unique and fascinating – a 1950s pin-up with a penchant for pastry and light-hearted horror. It is sublime, and I have eagerly awaited it's arrival since the announcement last year. Eight months later, Deceptive Desserts: A Lady's Guide to Baking Bad! is finally here and it is the book of the year for Halloween enthusiasts.
Granted this is not specifically a Halloween book per se, and is divided by seasons. Each glossy, full-color page reveals things like a Red Velvet Reptilian Cake with sharp teeth and red candy glass shards or Cat Lady Gelatin with floating apple chunks and a side bowl of cinnamon kibble. The Fall brings a Tarantula Cookie with caramel and prickly coconut, and a Caramel Popcorn cat with spider legs. Even Christmas gets a trick with a Serpentine Spice Cake wrapped in a peppermint fondant snake. All this monstrosity is precisely summed up by McConnell, "I prefer a world where the sweets bite back."
This gorgeous hardcover book is exquisitely designed and features pictures of every recipe, as well as assembly and presentation directions. I honestly don't have the talent to make "pretty food", but the step-by-step directions certainly makes me feel like I could. And at 280 pages it's no light endeavor. This is a serious book that rivals the quality of the best Martha Stewart's Halloween book.
McConnell has revealed every trick to her treats in Deceptive Desserts – all designed on a shoestring budget! – easily earning her the title of "Queen of Creepy Cookies". And she does it all! She's a photographer, a stylist, a baker, creates much of the costumes, crafts the sets, and even models in her pictures. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, or revel in her gorgeous photography on Instagram and Flicker. And most importantly get Deceptive Desserts immediately (order from her website directly and get a signed copy).
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Mainstream horror movies go for the easy startle scare. It's cheap, universally accepted, and ultimately expected. Dread, however, is another matter and an effect that is much more difficult to create, and almost impossible to suspend over any period of time especially with desensitized audiences. This fear of the unknown is crafted through a careful balance of tone, committed actors, and a hyper-realistic atmosphere that is both familiar and jarringly foreign. Then throw in a few shocking visuals, a devilish angle, and unrelenting anguish that leaves the viewers exhausted. This is the wicked formula that The Witch has mastered. It is a symphony of dread so consuming, so well executed, and pristinely captured in bleak, desaturated tones, that it hails the wildest creature of all – the imagination – to run rampant.
It is best to go into this film unprepared as the story is rather simple and straight-forward. (Hopefully you have not studied the trailer since it features many of the film's evocative scenes.) Like much art house fare, this is a slow, steady burn that will tax many unsuspecting audiences. After all, the marketing buzz has cast a wide net to lure in mainstream ticket buyers. What they'll find is an intelligent, even scholarly film, focused on the rough chore of early settlement living. The filmmakers have gone to great lengths to recreate the historical details of the period, the often unintelligible English dialects, and the plain hand sewn costumes. Layered on top is coming-of-age story with subtle supernatural inclinations fulfilling promises of its tagline, "A New-England Folk Tale."
The Witch leaves a lasting impression, especially if you've had even a slight faith-based upbringing. Thoughts of the devil are not something to ever entertain, and here it is a palpable, formidable, and identifiable antagonist. Add to this a chilling aural landscape that echoes the wailing score of The Shining, or the lyrical cinematography that frames even an innocuous bunny rabbit as something darkly sinister, and the film resonates on a deeper, almost subconscious level. It is terrifying, and a categorical accomplishment. Easily one of the best horror films of the last decade.