Wednesday 30 September 2015

10 Reasons Fanfiction is Amazing - #WriterlyWednesdays 10

I am a huge fan of fanfiction and for Writerly Wednesdays 10 I have decided to tell you all why. The media would have you believe fanfiction is all about sexy stories and nothing else - they could not be more wrong. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my reasoning. Some of my reasons are superficial, some, not so much.

10 Reasons Fanfiction is Amazing

  1. Fanfiction writers can fix anything.
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    We all know that tv shows, movies and books do terrible things to our favourite characters. They break them, they throw away perfectly wonderful relationships, they even kill them. Never fear, there are fanfiction writers out there who can fix anything.

    So your favourite character is dead and has been chopped into a million pieces by a wood chipper and there is no magic or superpowers in this universe to save them. Wait! No they aren't, actually it was their evil twin, who was trying to take over their live, that died. You fav is still in the basement, waiting to be rescued. (And that's still better than waking up to find your dead husband in the shower!)

    If you can think it, someone has probably written it and if they haven't, you can write it yourself. Someone will love you for it. Fanfiction can even fix things like the fiasco that was the end of Forever Knight, where they basically killed a good percentage of the cast.

    No problem is too great or too small for fanfiction writers to tackle. It can be fixed.
  2. OTPs for all!
    Your one true pairing not being shown in the book/movie/tv show? Someone will have written it.

    If you can think of a pairing there is most like a fic for it, all you have to do is look for it. If it's incest or going to squick a good few people then there will definitely be fic about it ;). 
  3. Alternative Universes
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    Love the characters, don't love the plots? Fear not, there are many alternative universes awaiting you in fanfiction.

    Do you long to see your favourite characters as if they were all in high school together? How about where some work in a coffee shop and others are the customers? Want to see what they'd do outside of their magic laden, supernatural world, or how about if they were taken from their modern setting and thrown back in history?

    Fanfiction explores it all. High School AU, Barista AU, Regency AU, Non-magic AU, Pirate AU, Slave AU, Space AU - they are all out there and so many more. Fanfiction writers are some of the most creative people on the planet.
  4. Representation.
    You may have seen slash mentioned in the media, or femslash. This is where writers take two male characters or two female characters and put them in a relationship together. Slash is the most popular, simply because much of the media out there has leading men, or at least that's one of the main reasons - there are others covered in a lot of meta about the subject.

    In fanfiction you also find a lot more characters who are asexual or bisexual, genderfluid or transsexual. Fanfiction is a subversive medium and many things that mainstream media has only recently been willing to even mention have been going on in fanfiction for decades.

    For a long time, especially with TV, the only place you were going to find a strongly written, well thought out female characters with a real part to play was in the fanfiction. It is improving slowly and books have always been better at it than TV and film, but if you want fantastic female characters, fanfiction is the place to look.

    Whitewashing is something we see all too often in Hollywood. Too often the characters of colour are the sidekicks or the people in the background. Fanfiction can bring them to the forefront. Hopefully mainstream media will get with the program more and more, but until then, fandom has the answers.
  5. Amazing smut.
    The modern media seems to be obsessed with Fifty Shades of Grey, which started off as Twilight fanfiction. Let me say, there are works out there that are sooooo much better. Some are admittedly worse, but there is so much great, hot smut out there for the discerning reader.

    There are the most amazingly well written, steaming hot sex scenes sometimes woven into the most intricate and satisfying plots that you have ever read. I kid you not. Just go and look on Archive of Our Own - find the fandom you love and then look at all the wonderful adult rated stories.
    Wesley/Gunn by The Theban Band
  6. Crossovers.
    Did you ever wonder what would happen if the real Scooby gang ended up fighting off vampires with Buffy or if Harry Potter fell into the land of Middle Earth?

    Fanfiction writers have wondered with you.

    Some crossovers are written just to bring two characters from different universes together. Others like to merge two universes to create a whole new one (also known as a fusion). Then there are those which drop characters from one universe into a completely different one just to see what will happen.

    All are valid, all are wonderful. A good crossover is a fabulous thing and something you just don't get in mainstream media because different people tend to hold the copyright on different show/books/films.
  7. Absolutely stunning writing.
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    Some of the best fiction I have ever read has been fanfiction. Some people look down on fanfic because it is derivative, but that is just snobbery. There are so many great works out there that are considered literature, that are in fact fanfiction under a different name, fanfiction is an honourable medium. It also has the most amazing writers creating it. Just because it's done online these days, doesn't make it any less brilliant.

    When someone loves something enough to create for it, the results are often superb. There are 100K+ word epics in the archives that are better than the original material they derive from. There are 1000 word shorts that make your heart ache for the characters in them.

    Fanfiction is not the lower cousin of original fiction, it is simply a different kind of fiction with its greats and its goods. It's not all wonderful, but neither is original fiction - just take a wander through Amazon a time or two to see that. There are jewels buried in the mass of fanfiction, I promise and you'll still get a great read from the mass too, even if not all of the stories are classics :).
  8. There are no constraints
    In the world of fanfiction creativity is encouraged. There are no confines and no matter what you write, someone will read it. There's no guarantee they'll love it, but someone will read it :).

    No one is going to tell you, you can't write it. Well, I'll take that back, there might be some people who try to tell you that, but don't believe them - they don't speak for the majority.

    'N Sync as fish? Go for it. John and Rodney from Stargate Atlantis as penguins? It exists. Characters as personifications of inanimate objects? So much of it exists.

    You can explore anything you like in fanfiction and people do. It's incredible.
  9. Wonderful Learning Space
    If you want to practice your writing skills, fanfiction is a wonderful learning space in which to do it. Criticism can be hard, but if you are willing to put yourself out there and take the advice other members give you, you can improve so much.

    I know that my writing when I first started in fanfiction was woefully inadequate in certain aspects. Everything I have learned from other writers has only helped.

    You can also learn all sorts of other things when reading fanfiction: the importance of diversity, consideration, historical facts, awareness of issues, feminism, science, arts. There are so many well read, learned people who write fanfiction or meta about it that it is impossible to not come out more educated than when you started reading.
  10. Community.
    If you want to make some amazing friends and find support from a wonderful community, fanfiction is a fantastic space for you. Fandom in general is great, but, I have found, those involved in fanfiction are often the best of the best.
Fanfiction Places


Do you love fanfiction? What reasons did I miss?

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Tuesday 29 September 2015

Don't Let Haters 'Harsh your Squee' - TipsTuesdays 8

Don't Let Haters 'Harsh your Squee'

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For those who have no idea what I am talking about to 'harsh someone's squee' is to spoil someone's fun by being negative about what they love. Life is far too full of negative attitudes and realities to allow someone to destroy your enjoyment of something that brings you happiness.

I know this can sometimes be a hard task.

If you love something and you're not hurting anyone else by loving it, then go ahead and enjoy it, is what I say.

There are so many ways haters try to put off fans of things:

The Ageist Approach

  • The non-fan : you're far too old for something so juvenile, when are you going to grow out of it?
  • The young fan: ewww, it's icky that you like something that's supposed to be for young people.
  • The older fan: you're far too young to understand what you're talking about.
  • Young to young: that's something for old people, you're boring.

I don't care if you're 50 and love One Direction. Good for you! If listening to their music and following their lives makes you happy - you go for it. Or you're 75 and think My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoy it for everything you are worth.

There is no such thing as too old. As long as you aren't exposing minors to things minors should not be exposed to - see how to do it right in the Harry Potter fandom and how to do it wrong with many of the Bronies (male My Little Pony fans) - then enjoy your fandom to the full.

If you are fifteen and love quilting or calligraphy or Shakespeare or even reading, but your friends think it's old fashioned and stupid, don't worry about them.  Love what you love.

The Sexist Approach

  • Gaming is for men and women are shit at it.
  • Fanfiction is only written by women and men can't write it.
Gamergate comes to mind for the first one and I have seen men shunned in fanfiction spaces because they are simply male. This isn't right. If someone is playing by the rules in the fandom, for example, putting warnings on their fiction when they are required and such things, then they should be welcome.

The Simple - Your Choices are Terrible Approach
  • Because you're a fan, you must be an imbecile - what you like is terrible.
  • Because you're a fan, you must be an imbecile - what you like is silly.
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I have always found the fact that it is perfectly all right to troop to a football stadium every Saturday in your teams colours with the right season's shirt and the right scarf, even to be buried in a blue coffin because you're an Everton fan, but if you wear a Starfleet uniform to a convention or have someone mention 'Live Long and Prosper' in your eulogy, you're a weirdo. Frankly, when it comes to fan behaviour, I know whose fans come out on top for decency, helpfulness and inclusivity.

As for thinking what someone else likes is terrible - you have a perfect right to believe that, however, you had no right to spoil their fun if they aren't hurting anyone with it.

There are so many ways haters can try to take away your enjoyment and I urge every fan to refuse to let it happen. Sometimes you're a fandom of one, but don't be discouraged, there will be someone else out there who likes it too. Sometimes you're in a huge fandom, but your favourite character is the guy who appears in every third episode and sits at the back of the room. Don't worry, love 'guy at the back of the room' and let the world know why you love him.

Write your fanfiction, make your quilts, watch your really bad sci-fi, read the unfashionable book, play the highbrow board game, watch the cartoon - whatever it is you enjoy doing, have fun with it.

Too many things in life can bring you down - love what you love and be proud! Take every opportunity to be happy that you can and ignore the haters.

Have you ever been told your stupid or silly for loving something? What did you do about it?

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Friday 25 September 2015

Mission Impossible - 5 People Can Save the World! #FanFridays 6

It's geek time again and for Fan Fridays 6 I have chosen another old favourite of mine: Mission Impossible, the original series. I do hope you enjoy reminiscing with me.

Mission Impossible
5 People Can Save the World!

I love Mission Impossible. It's one of those shows I remember fondly from watching reruns on TV when I was a child. Since it finished it's run in 1973, the year after I was born, I didn't get to see it the first time around.

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For those who have not seen Mission Impossible, each week members of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) go into enemy territory, be is on foreign soil or undercover within the syndicate, and stop something dastardly happening. The way they do this is usually by pure trickery using the bad guys own insecurities or ego against them. The first five seasons, at least, are very clever.

At the beginning of each episode "Mr Phelps" is given his mission via tape recorder or record or even via coin operated binocular type machines. Every message in the first five seasons ended like this:
As always, if you or any of you IM force are caught or killed the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This message will self destruct in 5 seconds.
I always thought that was terribly exciting, even though I had no idea who this "Secretary" person was :).

As a child I never realised there was a permanent cast except for Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) and I really believed he sat down and picked different people for the mission each week. How I failed to notice they were always the same I'll never know, but somehow I managed it :).

I also never realised that in the first season it wasn't Jim who led the team. It was Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) who was in charge. I didn't figure this out until Rob and I bought the first set of DVDs while were were on holiday in Canada for our 10th wedding anniversary. We had a little cabin for a week and we used to go walking and sightseeing in the mornings and curl up with hot drinks in front of the TV in the afternoons before going somewhere posh for dinner - hence the DVDs.

I think what I love most about Mission Impossible is the fact it is a fundamental illustration that the bad guys don't win. We all know that in real life sometimes they do, but not in the world of Jim, Barney, Rollin, Cinnamon and Willy.

That's the team I always used to remember from watching it as a child. I think BBC2 may have had a licence to show season 2 and 3 a lot.

The team for s2 & s3 are as follows:
  • Jim Phelps - the brains behind the ingenious plans
  • Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain) - ex-model and sometimes the honey-trap, but not always
  • Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) - magician, impersonator and all round useful man to know
  • Barney Collier (Greg Morris) - electronics engineer
  • Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus)  - strong man
One of the great things about Barney was that the fact he was a person of colour was never made an issue. He was like Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise; there for skills and ability as if this was how things simply were. Given that this was 1966-1973 for the original run - this was awesome. There were a couple of episodes that relied on the colour of his skin, mostly because the team were infiltrating the African American mob or something similar, but for the majority of episodes he was the engineering brain of the team.

Cinnamon wasn't quite so lucky in that she did get to be the honey trap on a lot of occasions, but she did get to be lots of other interesting parts of the plans as well. Dana (Lesley Ann Warren), who came in, in season 5 had something of a more dynamic storyline, which was an improvement.

For two seasons we also had the wonderful Leonard Nimoy as Paris, taking over Rollin's roll when Martin Landau left to pursue other projects.

Whether it was the dreaded Eastern block, the Syndicate, enemy assassins, defecting scientists or sons of Nazis who wanted the 4th Reich, the Mission Impossible team could bring them down. They never used brute force and they were always the little guy, hopelessly out gunned by the opposition, but their cleverness always won out in the end.

With their gadgets, their face masks that could magically make someone look exactly like someone else, their incredible, devious plans and the ingenuity of the individual members, not once did they fail and not once did the Secretary have to disavow their existence, at least, not until the 1980s remake.

I have all seven seasons on DVD, and the 1980s reboots as well, and I love them all. They are my go to, feel good TV show when I want to know that everything can be right with the world. The only thing is, if you watch too many eps, you do begin to believe that 5 people can solve any problem in the world, anywhere!

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There are so many wonderful episodes that I cannot pick just one as my favourite. Some of the ones I really like are:

  • S1 - Zubrovnik's Ghost - wife or deceased scientist, Kurt Zubrovnik, is being pressured to work for the Eastern block by a fake psychic using her husband's ghost. Using their own psychic the IMF try to convince her of the fraud.
  • S2 - The Condemned - Jim's friend, David Webster, has been framed for the murder and Jim asks the other members of the IMF to help prove his friend's innocence.
  • S3 - Live Bait - An double agent for the US, Selby is suspected by his colleague Kellerman. The IMF have to discredit Kellerman and keep Selby in position within the enemy intelligence agency.
  • S4 - Submarine - A Nazi, Kruger Schtelman, has kept silent about a hoard of Nazi gold for the whole of his imprionment. Due to be released in 3 days, the IMF must get him to give up the location of the gold before it falls into the hands of the government holding Schtelman or neo-Nazis.
  • S5 - Cat's Paw - Barney sets out to get the people who killed his journalist brother with the help of the rest of the IMF team.

One thing I will say is that the double eps are always my least favourite because the writers had the timing down perfectly for single eps and when they spread into double eps they often simply padded them :). The stories are still good, but with a little too much filler.

There are seven seasons and I would say 1-5 are excellent, 6 is okay and 7 is watchable, but a bit meh. They changed the format in the last couple of season and focused on domestic stories mostly involving organised crime, because they were cheaper to film, They are not as clever or as interesting as the earlier seasons. When watching season 7 you can tell why they were cancelled in the end.

I love this show and I highly recommend it to everyone. It has such a feel good vibe.

Have you seen the original Mission Impossible? Do you have a favourite character? What do you always remember most?

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Wednesday 23 September 2015

Planning or Pantsing - Which is the Best Way to Write? #WriterlyWednesdays 9

Welcome to Writerly Wednesdays 9 and the eternal question, is pantsing or planning a better writing method.
Planning or Pantsing
Which is the Best Way to Write?

Let me begin by explaining what I mean by "Pantsing" in case you are unfamiliar with the term, since planning it fundamentally obvious. Pantsing is when you write as it comes to you and is a shortening of the term 'by the seat of your pants'.

There is a very simple answer to this question:
Whatever works for you.

However, that's not an overly useful conclusion if you're still trying to work it out.

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Personally I am a pantser - I just start writing at whichever point of the story I feel like and then hop around filling in the scenes that pop into my head. I create characters, locations and everything else as I go. Only when I reach a tipping point, usually somewhere after halfway, do I become a planner, sitting down and thinking hard about what the story is missing. That's when I add in scenes and details, planning out the whole structure of the book with chapters to get a feel for what still needs doing.

My twin sister, on the other hand, is very much a planner. Some of her scene outlines are longer than my scenes :). She plans, she preps and then she launches in, writing from the beginning to the end.

The only real way to work out what is best for you is to try it out.

Indications you might lean one way or the other:

Likes to discover character traits through writing the character into situations
Likes to know the ins and outs of a characters personality to finely craft all the nuances
Doesn't mind interrupting the writing to go off and research a place name having just decided on somewhere new.
Doesn't like interrupting the creative process to deal with details like locations.
Has baby names sites on the bookmarks bar for quick access when a new character is needed.
Has baby name sites nearly ordered in a bookmarks folder for use all at the same time.
Is perfectly happy to go back and change parts of the narrative because something creative and wonderful happened further through the book.
Tends to be annoyed by having to change details because there has been an alteration of the plan in later chapters.
Writes scene outlines along the lines of 'Character a goes to talk to character b at location z ... undead!'
Writes scene outlines along the lines of 'Character a goes to talk to character b about the situation with character c. They meet at location z and talk for several hours about how character c is in league with demons and plans to raise an army of the undead. Character a is very upset ...' etc

There is, however, one thing I cannot stress enough, not matter which you are, pantser or planner:

When you have decided on something, write is down in a reference document of some sort.

Nothing is more annoying than knowing you made your dashing heroes eyes blue, but not being able to remember if it was cornflower blue or cerulean ;). Okay, yes, that is a joke, but the point is still very valid. 

I once spent half a book with a character blond and half a book with the same character a brunet without the use of hair dye of any kind. I didn't write it down the first time I mentioned it and then forgot I had mentioned it in the first place, so when I mentioned it in another place I randomly picked the wrong colour. I only caught it on the read through later.

As you can probably tell I don't always have clear mental pictures of my characters because I try to only mention things that are important at the time. A few of them have been cast in my imagination, but a lot of them are more amorphous than that.

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I've mentioned it before and I'm mentioning it again yWriter is very good program for organising the details for you so you can find them again.

If you're still not sure which camp works best for you, simply have a go and see which you prefer. For example, write a short story from a photo or word prompt and just start putting words on paper to see where it takes you. Then do the same exercise, but plan out what scenes you want and who all your characters are before you start the actual writing.

If I am not careful the second method leaves me bored and uninspired, which is how I know I am fundamentally a pantser, but I know for others it is what makes their creative juices flow.

There is no right and wrong way to go about the writing process. Some people like to brainstorm at the beginning, others like to brainstorm as they go along, some like to do a bit of both. Go with what feels good for you, just remember to stay organised - it saves lots of headaches later :).

Which are you, planner or pantser? What is your favoured method of organising your book info?

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Tuesday 22 September 2015

Checklist for Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse - #TipsTuesdays 7

Welcome to Tips Tuesday 7. Today I thought I would tackle the very important topic of 'How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse' and see how prepared I am for this inevitable occurrence.

Checklist for Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse

  1. Learn to run like Usain Bolt.

    Looks down at feet and ankles...

    Hmmm ... yeah ... this one might be a toughie. Can I have a Segway instead, or a really fast battery powered scooter? On a good day I might be able to outrun a George A. Romero zombie for about a hundred yards, but if they're Resident Evil zombies I'm going to need transport. I'll take a bike at a push, but I'd prefer something with a motor.
  2. Learn to use a shotgun.
    Last time I held a weapon of any kind I'd be hard pushed to hit the broad side of a bus. Maybe now would be the time to take up clay pigeon shooting.

    Hand guns aren't allowed in the UK so coming across one of those would be unlikely, besides, I think a 12 bore is likely to take out a zombie better, don't you think. Difficult to argue central nervous system disconnect when there's no head left.
  3. Practise with blunt force weapons.
    Ooh, now this one I can do - at school I was a dab hand with a hockey stick and a rounders bat.

    For the US contingent, rounders is the UK version of baseball, but it's played with a shorter bat and a smaller distance between the stumps.

    I was always good at hitting things at school, just never any good at chasing around after them. Give me a rounders bat or a hockey stick, a cricket bat at a push - my dear Mama played for Kent Ladies Cricket Team in her day so it should be in my blood - and those zombies will be mine!
  4. Stock up on canned goods.
    This I can do - in fact I am already banned form buying tinned carrots and tinned ham because I keep forgetting we have some and keep coming home with more. If you can survive on carrots and ham from a tin, we're totally sorted.

    My husband just thinks I'm bad at remembering what's in the cupboard, but actually I'm just planning ahead ... honestly I am!
  5. Buy a place on an island of in the Highlands of Scotland.

    Definitely want somewhere isolated and defensible when the zombies start to rise. Let's face it, if you live in London, when the legions of the undead stand up, you're screwed!

    The Highlands would work, but an island would be better, like the Isle of Wight or the Outer Hebrides. A nice croft, already set up to be self sufficient, with its own generator and several sheep and a couple of cows.

    Don't want to be dealing with zombie cattle or sheep - that would just be nasty, so the more isolated the better. Of course a zombie plague might not be transmittable to live stock - maybe the herbivores will inherit the earth...
  6. Learn some survival skills.
    It could be time to ask Steve to add in some survival tips to the personal training routine. Not much good having abs of steel (yeah right!) if I get chomped on by a zombie because I can't tie a half hitch to save my life. The street style boxing could come in handy though!
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Right, so let's recap:
  1. Running - um, nope
  2. Guns - um nope
  3. Bats and sticks - got this one
  4. Canned goods - so totally there
  5. Place to retreat - need to win the lottery
  6. Survival skills - better get started
On the face of it, at the moment, I might just be toast. If the zombies rise tomorrow I am a dead duck, unless I can teach the cats to take out zombies. Frankly Ruby probably already has this down, all she'd have to do is her usual turn of just sitting there and they'd fall over her. Amber would need to be bribed with fish before she would do more than sit on high supervising the problem as cats are want to do.

So are you ready for the zombie apocalypse or are you a dead duck like me? ;)

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Monday 21 September 2015

Carry On Screaming - Monsters for Everyone #MonsterMondays 19

So today I've gone for some fun monsters from the Carry On crew. This is one of my favourite Carry On films of all time.
Monster Mondays posts may be fiction, film reviews, book reviews or me waxing lyrical about a particular monster. Monsters can be paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy or even simply human. So basically, anything monster goes. I also invite anyone who would like to, to join in with their own post. (See end for details).
Carry On Screaming
Monsters for Everyone

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So the Carry On films have some rather interesting issues to modern eyes, but I still love them. Carry On Screaming (1966) is one of the best in my humble opinion, even though it is missing Clive James and some of the other most popular actors from the series. It has such a great plot and wonderful monsters.

In Edwardian England, the sinister Dr Watt (Kenneth Williams) is funding his and his sister Valeria's (Fenella Fielding) lifestyle by kidnapping young women and turning them into tailor shop window dummies using his vitrification techniques. Only when he picks the wrong young woman, fiancée of Albert Potter (Jim Dale), does his dastardly scheme come to light as Potter brings in the police.

Of course this is a Carry On film, so all the nastiness is totally undo-able and there is a happy ending even though the police are completely incompetent most of the time and everything is in the aim of a good laugh.

I'm not sure when I first saw this film, but it definitely made an impression. The whole regeneration of Oddbod's (Tom Clegg) finger using electricity really stuck with me throughout my childhood. It probably explains some of the stranger levels of my imagination :).

There is a monster for everyone in Carry on Screaming:
  • Dr Watt - has been dead for 50 years and it woken up using electricity every day by his sister.
  • Valeria Watt - I've never been sure what kind of monster Valeria is supposed to be, could be witch, could be vampire, all I know is she is sexy as hell and has the most wonderful red dress.
  • Oddbod and Oddbod Junior - a cross between Frankenstein's monsters and werewolves
  • Both Albert Potter and Detective Sergeant Bung (Harry H. Corbett) have a round as their version of Mr Hyde
  • We even have the Mummy in the form of Rubbatiti
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As ever, when the Carry On team go for a genre, they go for the whole thing. :)

If you love classic monster movies you have to see Carry On Screaming at least once because it is a very funny homage. Admittedly Harry H. Corbett is very, very annoying as far as I am concerned, but it's a Carry On, he's supposed to be in this ;). This film is silly from beginning to end and I love it.

Are you a Carry On fan? Which is your favourite Carry On film? Which is your favourite classic monster?

Monster Mondays Links 

If you would like to join in, please feel free to make your Monster Monday post and add it to the list.

If you would like to add a graphic to your post, here are some codes you can just cut and paste.

Button Code

Banner Code (see top of post):

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