House in Cypress Canyon essay Pt. 2

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DeniseNoe
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:21 pm

House in Cypress Canyon essay Pt. 2

Postby DeniseNoe » Thu Feb 27, 2020 5:43 am

Part 2 of my essay on the OTR classic chiller, "The House in Cypress Canyon," has gone up:
http://www.otrr.online/FILES/Times_Arch ... JanFeb.pdf

Won't someone comment on it? I'm really interested in what OTR fans think of the observations and suggestions I made in this essay. Am I seeing more than is there?
Or is this really a very deep story that rewards multiple readings?

WaltP
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 1:56 am

Re: House in Cypress Canyon essay Pt. 2

Postby WaltP » Sun Apr 04, 2021 8:01 pm

Hi Denise, just read your 2 articles on "House".

Part 1: little use for. Just a prose telling of the entire store. It would have been better served by a link to the episode itself.

Part 2: while most of the symbolism that many critics read into the episode made interesting conjectures, I too feel these reviewers "read too much meaning" into the story.

A) The conjecture about Christmas -- I'll buy that. It's interesting to find out that ghost stories are a feature of Christmas. I never really knew that. Although A Christmas Carol would not have had the impact if set at Easter or Guy Fawkes Night (ACC is an English story)

B) Haunted House, Ordinary House is what makes this story so disturbing. That is very true. If the story was set in that dark/gloomy mansion, so what. The story is expected. Set in a brand new house just completed, though, turns the terror up decibels.

C) The werewolf conjecture does make some sense, as long as the listener doesn't think about it. But Richards never claimed it as such, and the story breaks most of the werewolf tropes, so I agree. It wasn't a WW. It was something else.... but what??? Don't put a name on it, and it's much scarier than if it was defined.

D) Time period - here's where you lose me. Yes the previous years to 1946 were bloody. Jim wasn't involved in that conflict. All we really know is he is sent out-of-town to California and needs a new house, which in that time-frame was problematic. So they take the first one they find. And when they see blood coming from under the closet door -- that's scary! To equate it with the war, though? Not buying it. It's a horror story. Meant to give you the willies, not comment on the Nazis.

E) Then to equate all that other stuff with gender roles, poppycock. Would it have been a better story if Jim was the monster? Absolutely not! The wife is the most logical choice to become the monster for the horror potential. All the Universal monsters (save The Bride) were men. They are stronger, more menacing. In this case, take the demure schoolteacher/housewife and turn her into the monster (without her even knowing it) -- ruffles the horror feathers even more. And as to all the sexual symbolism, the den is a standard room in a house that the realtor will point out, and let the new owner decide what to do with the "den". It's a non-sexual name for a room that can be a family room. "Den" does not equate with men, no matter what the realtor says. As for the locked closet, blood, bitten arm -- they are all horror tropes. They come standard with the genre without sexual definition. Just scary.

So, I disagree with most of the symbolism about the war, gender roles, and sexual tensions. It's a horror story and uses the aftermath of the war to frame that story (housing problem), and uses gender roles to heighten the terror of the story. It has nothing to do with female frustration, emasculation, and all that. It's simply a tale extremely well calculated to keep you in Suspense.

Walt

By the way, Poltergeist's cemetery had nothing to do with "an ancient Native American cemetery", it was a local cemetery that was (supposedly) relocated so the developers could build. Had nothing to do with the indigenous population.

DeniseNoe
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:21 pm

Re: House in Cypress Canyon essay Pt. 2

Postby DeniseNoe » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:29 pm

Before I say anything else, I want to sincerely thank you, WaltP, for reading my article and then taking the time to post this very thoughtful and interesting reply. We may disagree, and you are critical of parts of my article, but I much appreciate your reply.


Re: House in Cypress Canyon essay Pt. 2
by WaltP » Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:01 pm

Hi Denise, just read your 2 articles on "House".

Part 1: little use for. Just a prose telling of the entire store. It would have been better served by a link to the episode itself.

(Denise) I believed it was necessary to give a synopsis so the reader would understand my points.

Part 2: while most of the symbolism that many critics read into the episode made interesting conjectures, I too feel these reviewers "read too much meaning" into the story.

(Denise) This was my initial feeling when I first encountered a lot of the commentary.

<<A) The conjecture about Christmas -- I'll buy that. It's interesting to find out that ghost stories are a feature of Christmas. I never really knew that. Although A Christmas Carol would not have had the impact if set at Easter or Guy Fawkes Night (ACC is an English story)>>

(Denise) It has fallen out of favor but there was a long tradition of telling spooky stories around Christmas time. I discuss this at length in my book, "Christmas Gifts from the Chanukah Crowd: The Extraordinary Contributions of American Jews to Christmas." I think "Cypress" falls into that tradition.

<<B) Haunted House, Ordinary House is what makes this story so disturbing. That is very true. If the story was set in that dark/gloomy mansion, so what. The story is expected. Set in a brand new house just completed, though, turns the terror up decibels.>>

(Denise) Thank you for your agreement w/me on this point. The house is described as new and small, in stark contrast to the usual haunted house and I believe that gives "Cypress" much of its special sense of the eerie.

<<C) The werewolf conjecture does make some sense, as long as the listener doesn't think about it. But Richards never claimed it as such, and the story breaks most of the werewolf tropes, so I agree. It wasn't a WW. It was something else.... but what??? Don't put a name on it, and it's much scarier than if it was defined.

(Denise) Yes indeed!

<<D) Time period - here's where you lose me. Yes the previous years to 1946 were bloody. Jim wasn't involved in that conflict. All we really know is he is sent out-of-town to California and needs a new house, which in that time-frame was problematic. So they take the first one they find. And when they see blood coming from under the closet door -- that's scary! To equate it with the war, though? Not buying it. It's a horror story. Meant to give you the willies, not comment on the Nazis.>>

(Denise) I agree w/you that this was not a comment on the Nazis. Rather, it seems to me that the fact that the house was started before that bloody conflict and finished right after it plays into the making of the house as "haunted."

<<E) Then to equate all that other stuff with gender roles, poppycock. Would it have been a better story if Jim was the monster? Absolutely not! The wife is the most logical choice to become the monster for the horror potential. All the Universal monsters (save The Bride) were men. They are stronger, more menacing. In this case, take the demure schoolteacher/housewife and turn her into the monster (without her even knowing it) -- ruffles the horror feathers even more. And as to all the sexual symbolism, the den is a standard room in a house that the realtor will point out, and let the new owner decide what to do with the "den". It's a non-sexual name for a room that can be a family room. "Den" does not equate with men, no matter what the realtor says. As for the locked closet, blood, bitten arm -- they are all horror tropes. They come standard with the genre without sexual definition. Just scary.>>

(Denise) We can agree to disagree. I'm sure that the writers had no conscious intention of commenting on gender roles. I originally planned to write an article taking your position. However, it seemed to me that -- sans conscious intention -- there was a comment on gender roles because the realtor calls the den an attractive room "especially for a man" and the closet in which the woman morphs to monster is right off that den. The story subtly puts sexual symbolism in there IMO. We can agree to disagree on this.

<<So, I disagree with most of the symbolism about the war, gender roles, and sexual tensions. It's a horror story and uses the aftermath of the war to frame that story (housing problem), and uses gender roles to heighten the terror of the story. It has nothing to do with female frustration, emasculation, and all that. It's simply a tale extremely well calculated to keep you in Suspense.>>

(Denise) And we heartily agree that it succeeds!

Walt

By the way, Poltergeist's cemetery had nothing to do with "an ancient Native American cemetery", it was a local cemetery that was (supposedly) relocated so the developers could build. Had nothing to do with the indigenous population.

(Denise) Apparently I made a mistake. I never saw "Poltergeist" and read an article making that link.

Thank you again for your comments and I hope you will consider reading some of my other OTR work.

DeniseNoe
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:21 pm

Re: House in Cypress Canyon essay Pt. 2

Postby DeniseNoe » Thu Apr 15, 2021 5:54 pm

I want to add something. The wife comments that there is something odd about "a woman moving into a house without even knowing where are the closets are." That seems to reinforce the idea that this is ultimately about gender roles.


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