What's the Story?
Blog Posts from the Irish Club of Alaska
President of the Irish Club of Alaska and Horror-Comedy Enthusiast
Most Halloween traditions have their roots in the Irish celebration of Samhain, a Gaelic festival that marked the beginning of the dark half of the year. We have the Irish to thank for Jack-o-lanterns, but instead of carving pumpkins, the Irish carved scary faces on turnips to keep evil spirits away. Dressing up in costumes for Halloween also comes from Ireland, but the Irish didn’t dress up to get candy. Instead, they were disguising themselves from spirits roaming the night because the door to the Otherworld flew open on Samhain Eve.
To get you in the October mood, Irish-style, try an Irish film that will both scare you and make you laugh. Here are the top five Irish comedy-horror films from the Irish Club of Alaska:
Honorable Mention: HIGH SPIRITS (1988)
In the “so bad it’s good” category is our Honorable Mention choice, “High Spirits!” It’s a cheesy, silly, over-the-top 1980s slapstick film set in a real Irish castle. It was written and directed by Academy Award winning Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan, but the only award this film was nominated for was a Razzie for Darryl Hannah’s abysmal performance. However, it is worth a watch for the wit and antics of Peter O’Toole and Liam Neeson.
#5: BOY EATS GIRL (2005)
At # 5 is the angsty Irish teen romance “Boy Eats Girl.” Boy falls in love, girls likes him back, boy dies, boy’s mother reanimates him with an ancient book she stole from a crypt, boy turns into zombie, and zombie epidemic erupts at high school. And boy tries not to eat the brains of the girl of his dreams.
#4: EXTRA ORDINARY (2019)
In our #4 film, “Extra Ordinary,” a driving instructor who ignores her talent of seeing ghosts decides save a possessed girl who happens to have a cute single father. Part horror and part rom-com, the only reason this film doesn’t rate higher is the same-in-every-role performance of “Saturday Night Live” veteran Will Forte playing a one-hit-wonder singer/satanist-wannabe. What makes this movie a great Irish film for Halloween, however, are the lovely, nuanced performances of Irish actors Maeve Higgins and Barry Ward as unlikely romantic leads.
#3: LET THE WRONG ONE IT (2021)
Our #3 choice, “Let the Wrong One In,” is absolutely nothing like the haunting and classy 2008 Swedish horror film, “Let the Right One In.” Instead, it’s silly and goofy and full of classic Dublin wit. I’d like to say it’s the best Irish vampire comedy i’ve ever seen, but that leads us to #2…
#2: BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL (2020)
This one was a strong contender for the #1 position of best horror comedy. In “Boys from County Hell," a father and son building a government highway through their sleepy little town in Northern Ireland are forced to demolish the burial mound of a legendary Irish vampire called Abhartach. The vampire wakes up, of course, and father, son, and a likable cast of characters fight to survive the night and make things right. Warning: This one’s a bit scarier than the others on this list and the dry humor hits after the scares wear off.
#1: GRABBERS (2012)
So… In the #1 spot for best Irish horror comedy is… Grabbers! Bloodsucking aliens arrive on an island off the coast of Ireland, where the locals discover that rain is their enemy in the fight against the aliens, but staying drunk will keep them alive. More squishy and icky than gory and scare factors aren’t too high, so those who don’t love horror might make it through this one because the Irish humor and special effects are on point. Best of all, the hilarious all-Irish cast makes this a horror comedy classic not to be missed!
The Irish Club of Alaska is a 100% volunteer organization. We have no paid employees or an executive director, which means that we rely on our unpaid Board of Directors, our members, and other volunteers to do the hard work needed to pull off our wonderful events and programs every year.
We are looking for new board members who can help us manage and supportat least two of the following areas:
Board Leadership ☘️ Membership Management ☘️ Member Donations ☘️ Corporate Sponsorships and Donations ☘️ Merchandise Sales ☘️ Bake Sales ☘️ Other Fundraisers ☘️ Club Finance ☘️ Club Policies and Procedures ☘️ Club Records and Google Drive Management ☘️ Marketing Materials ☘️ Graphic Design ☘️ Social Media ☘️ Photography and Instagram ☘️ Filmography and YouTube ☘️ Grant Applications ☘️ Event Vendors ☘️ In Person Member Outreach ☘️ Online Member Outreach ☘️ Club History ☘️ Website ☘️ Online Store ☘️ Email Blasts ☘️ Quarterly Newsletter ☘️ Children’s Programs ☘️ Visual Arts Programs ☘️ Storytelling Programs ☘️ History and Heritage Programs ☘️ Travel Information Programs ☘️ Ireland Connection Programs ☘️ Event Logistics ☘️ Volunteer Coordination ☘️ Irish Consulate Liaison
We are in need of people with experience and/or interest in any of the areas above. The ICA Board of Directors positions are one year long, with elections every January. The term limit for our Director position is nine terms. ICA Board Members must be members of the Irish Club of Alaska and are also required to attend our six online board meetings every year and to run or attend in person or online special/team meetings throughout the year.
We are also looking for anyone who might not be interested in being on the Board of Directors but would like to provide support in any of the areas listed above.
If you are interested in joining the Irish Club of Alaska Board of Directors or if you are interested in providing volunteer support for any of the areas listed above, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!
Sean O'Hare, the Irish-Alaskan author of "While Ireland Holds These Graves"
When Natalie Harrison of the Irish Club informed me that the club was looking for something frightening to put on their blog, perhaps for Samhain, I immediately thought of Vlad the Impaler, better known as Dracula. When most people think of Dracula I suspect the film "Dracula," starring Bela Legosi, comes immediately to mind. Most people are not aware that this brilliant film was based on a macabre novel, "Dracula," written by Bram Stoker in 1892. Even fewer people are aware that Bram Stoker was a Dublin man, who I wish was ranked among the other great Irish writers, Oscar Wilde, John Millington Synge, William Butler Yeats, etc., of that time.
One person who carefully read Stoker's novel, and stole it, was the German filmmaker F.W. Murnau, who created the film "Nosferatu," which is widely considered to be one of the greatest silent films of all time and one of the best examples of German Expressionist film. As it happens, "Nosferatu" is being shown this Thursday, September 29, at the Bear Tooth.
Murnau's vampire, Nosferatu, played by Max Schreck, is not a sophisticated man of the night like Bela Legosi's Dracula but an unhappy wretch suffering from an evil curse. He looks as evil as he is, with bat-like ears, claw-like fingernails, and a rodent-looking mouth with fangs in the front instead of the canine fangs that give away most vampires.
Hutter is the totally good looking man, played by Gustav von Wangenheim, assigned by the evil real estate agent, Knock, played by Alexander Granach, to go to Count Orlock's Transylvanian castle and sell the Count, who is actually Nosferatu, a deserted house in Bremen, Germany, which happens to be across the street from where Hutter lives with his angelic young wife Ellen, played by Greta Schroeder. These characters are superb pantomimists, as they must be because, after all, this is a silent film, and their goodness or evil is exaggerated superbly.
Hutter should have become suspicious when Knock slips and refers to Count Orlock as "Master." Other Expressionist images foretell the evil that lies ahead. When Hutter tells the customers in an inn en route that he is on his way to Orlock's, they all fall silent. Outside horses run away and a werewolf, played by a hyena, is on the prowl. The coachman refuses to bring Hutter any further, but a coach, draped in black, and pulled by horses draped in black, appears out of nowhere and brings Hutter to the eerie castle.
That night, as Nosferatu advances demonically on Hutter, Ellen, back in Bremen, and sleepwalking, seemingly under Nosferatu's power, cries out Hutter's name, which awakes him. He escapes the castle and makes his way back to Bremen. Nosferatu also sets out for Bremen except he travels on a sailing ship on the Black Sea; a ghost ship, complete with black sails. The ship's cargo is coffins filled with rats. One coffin contains Nosferatu. All the seamen strangely die at sea. Nevertheless, the ship of death brings itself and Nosferatu to port under its own power. When Nosferatu arrives in Bremen, the townsfolk begin to die. The only thing that can stop this evil is for a good woman to coax the vampire to stay awake until the cock crows. To do this Ellen must sacrifice herself. As Knock said to Ellen: "You cannot escape from your fate." I will not reveal the ending. You must build up your courage and go to the Bear Tooth on Thursday to find out what happens.
This film was made only four years after the Great War and just after the influenza epidemic that killed even more people than the war killed. Germans were quite used to death by the time of this movie. The scene, shot brilliantly from a rooftop, of the townsfolk bringing their dead down a road to be buried was certainly quite familiar to Germans, so the scenes must have been all the more terrifying. The silence of the film, except for its excellent soundtrack, called "A Symphony of Horrors," composed by Hans Erdman, made symbolism, camera angles, the reversals of black and white, the camera shots from above and from below, the facial expressions, etc., all the more profound. This was indeed a horror film, and don't forget, it was stolen from an Irishman, Bram Stoker. If you want to learn more about this film, look for Prof. Toby Widdicombe's next film class at UAA. I suspect "Nosferatu" will be included.
Seethe 100th Anniversary Presentation of "Nosferatu" at the Beartooth Theatrepub, Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 8:30pm.
For tickets and information: https://beartooththeatre.filmbot.com/movies/nosferatu-1922-100-anniversary-presentation/
By Natalie Harrison
When we think of Ireland, the holiday the holiday that comes to mind is St. Patrick’s Day. But did you know that Valentine’s Day also has an important connection to Ireland? In Dublin City Center, between the Swan Bar and the Embassy of Croatia, the rather unassuming looking Whitefriar Street Church holds the remains of Saint Valentine himself.
On February 14, 269 AD, the Roman Emperor Claudius ordered the beheading of Saint Valentine. His remains rested in Rome until the early 19th century when a loquacious Irish Carmelite priest named John Sprat visited Italy and enthralled the elite of Rome, including Pope Gregory XVI. The pope gifted the Irish priest an invaluable relic: part of Saint Valentine’s corporeal remains and a vial of his blood, together in a small box sealed with wax and tied with a white ribbon. Sprat brought the box back to Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Church in 1836, where they have remained ever since.
The wax-sealed and ribbon-tied box are housed in a larger casket in the church, along with a statue of Saint Valentine. Since they were placed on display to the public in the 1950s, this Whitefriar Street Church shrine to the patron saint of lovers (and beekeepers and epilepsy) has been visited by throngs of engaged and married couples from around the world seeking blessings for their union. It has also been visited by even more unsuccessful singles desperately seeking a bit more success in their romantic pursuits, perhaps hoping the combination of the heart of Saint Valentine and the luck of the Irish will do the trick.
Happy Valentine’s Day from the Irish Club of Alaska!
Pathways Virtual Art Exhibition by Bernie Joyce
Hi, my name is Bernie Joyce and I am a visual artist from Connemara. I am writing to let you know about my virtual exhibition Pathways which I launched online Easter Sunday and will continue until the end of the year. I thought that it might be of interest to the Irish diaspora abroad since the pandemic has kept families apart and from visiting Ireland. It has already been featured on the Board Fáilte, Discover Ireland website and I was wondering if you could show it on your social media platforms and websites.
The exhibition focuses on the Connemara peoples influence on Patrick Pearse as a teacher, writer and leader during the Celtic Revival and the lead up to the Easter Raising. By visiting the website link above, the viewer can roam through a gallery space and get up close to paintings in a socially distant, safe environment. There is a wealth of information, which gives a wide range of local history, that is available by clicking on the i in the upper right-hand corner when you’re “standing” in front of each image,. If you need more details, I have attached a document. Feel free to get in touch if you need more information.
Mise le meas
by Kate O'Dell
For Irish Club of Alaska Members,
Here’s an opportunity to learn Irish while we’re staying safe at home during the pandemic.
Orla Nig Fhearraigh, a qualified Irish-language teacher, is offering an online course for adult learners wishing to learn Irish. The course is aimed at beginners.
REGISTER HERE: https://forms.gle/LMeP7cc4ZywCBDBeA
Celebrating Irish culture and traditions and sharing with the world all that is uniquely Irish-Alaskan.
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Irish Club of Alaska is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization exempt from federal tax under the United States Code, section 501c3.