Gothic Films - episode five

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Gothic Films - episode five

Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu"—L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.

ag. 26, 2018, 6:35pm

Hot muggy weather doesn't seem to mesh well with the uncanny, at least at this latitude--too bad I'm not much of a zombie fan... besides some random re-watchings, the only new Gothicky experience was The Black Torment from 1964. The sort of movie I'm bound to mis-remember as a Hammer production (it's not) and possibly slight by calling it not-bad-at-all. It's better than that sounds.

Synopsis from Kanopy: A lord returns to his manor with his new wife, to hear rumors that he had already secretly returned and had committed several murders. Has he lost his mind, or is something dark afoot?

I can't remember whether we discussed Brian Clemens' TV series "Thriller" here; I think I may have mentioned it when I came across a few episodes online... Well, I got the set (didn't realise there were quite so many episodes; I may have confused it with the BBC's "Supernatural"), on a gamble that the horrorish tone of the couple eps I'd seen is the rule and not the exception...

ag. 27, 2018, 2:56am

Hmm - looking at extracts on YT, I don't think I've ever come across that one, suprisingly - it's in my era.

Going back to the last thread: to be honest, I think LT has been a bit slow lately - I've noticed it particularly slow in loading our group page, as well as long waits on random pages - seems okay today, though.

Editat: ag. 27, 2018, 4:03am

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

ag. 27, 2018, 4:04am

More surprisingly than with The Black Torment, I don't think I've ever come across Thriller, either. That was in my twenties, though - probably had better things to do than the telly.

Browsing it on IMDb, though, I suspect the stories to some of the episodes were used for separate films. For exampe, the episode 'Kiss Me and Die': I'm sure I've seen a film version of that with Christopher Lee in the uncle role.

Just found a box set - I have got to have that!

ag. 29, 2018, 3:23pm

Replying to Lola's last entry in the previous thread...

No, you're right, Max Schreck's vampire is not romantic (but Klaus Kinski's Orloff/Dracula is a different matter isn't he?). What I got muddled up with was the character's fixation on Ellen (that's the Mina character's name isn't it?). but really it's close to that folkloric thing I've tried to define before where somehow a person comes to the attention of the supernatural world, or Faery, is is thereafter marked as a victim. As an aside I've just finished reading The Golden Bough (the Oxford Classics abridgement, not the whole 12 volumes and in the last few pages on of Frazer's examples from folklore or anthropology is a summary of a tale of a blood drinking "fairy" (Frazer's word) which is clearly what we'd classify as a vampire.

Although the Oldman Dracula's flawed there are interesting things in it; not least that it's old enough now for it to be seen as an artefact of it's age, a bit of 1980s over-design still in effect, just prior to CGI as a standard (the cast haven't, by and large, given way to a new generation of actors yet, though).

I mentioned the John Badham-directed version from 1979. Anyone else seen it (or seen it recently?) It's another one interesting for the decisions it made regarding its source material (this actually credits the stage version over the novel and all the action takes place in and around Whitby (actually Cornwall pretending to be Whitby). The cast is odd, some star names (Olivier as van Helsing) and a lot of British TV and stage actors of the day - Trevor Eve, Janine Duvitski, Tony Haygarth, even Sylvester McCoy. It's odd (but not as odd as catching Telly Savalas and Arthur Mullard sharing a scene in a film I switched over to at random a few years ago, or Peter Lorre and William Hartnell in a British thriller from 1950...but I'm letting myself get distracted...)

Oh yes Veidt as Hutter (the Jonathan Harker equivalent in Nosferatu) would have been a waste of his talent, unless Murnau had hit on Herzog's ending (on which point, how come Bruno Ganz can move about in daylight without il effect? Surely it's a massive plot hole? Or do we all assume it's a metaphor for the ever-present nature of evil, or fascism, and give it a pass?

ag. 29, 2018, 6:39pm

>5 housefulofpaper:

I haven't seen Herzog's version in years but somehow I don't expect he'd be a great stickler for the "rules" of the lore... btw, I just realised I've no idea why he wanted to remake Murnau's movie in the first place. Was it for a Nazi-plague metaphor, actually? That seems to ring some bells (but maybe that's just my head... ;))

Yes, Hutter... if true, it's at least funny how Veidt missed being both in Murnau's legendary movie, and embodying the legendary vampire himself (for Browning, instead of Lugosi).

The mention of Trevor Eve triggers a few visuals but I don't recall seeing the whole thing. I think it may have been a very bad copy somewhere online so I didn't bother for long.

Speaking of less than perfect online movies, I saw a 1920 condensation of the 1916 Homunculus, as the restored version, shown in public in 2015, has not been made available to buy (it seems). Homunculus is a humanoid test-tube creation, brother to Frankenstein and Alraune and, like the latter especially, devoid of feelings and thus apt to do evil. Lots of interesting themes: science and technology vs. nature, male (i.e. motherless) engendering resulting in cold, sterile, death-bringing monsters, manipulation of industry and giant corporations for the sake of final destruction...

Some nice stills on this page (scroll to about mid-way):

Both the nefarious Professor Ortmann who switches the artificial boy for the dead real one and Olaf Fonss (Homunculus) display some choice horrific grimaces throughout.

>4 alaudacorax:

I watched the first five eps, mostly pretty neat stuff. (Fave so far: "Someone at the top of the stairs".) A change of pace from the 21st century editing to be sure!

ag. 29, 2018, 7:47pm

>6 LolaWalser:
All I can recall from the DVD commentary is Herzog's explanation that he went back to Murnau in order to connect with a German cinema tradition that was not tainted with Nazism but was also genuinely German - not Hollywood.

Thanks for information about Homunculus. I thought it was a new discovery for me but actually it's covered in Euro Gothic (but in a way that makes it sound like a different film to the one you and the blog describe)!

ag. 30, 2018, 5:50am

>5 housefulofpaper:, >6 LolaWalser:

Wow! Fascinating - if a little frustrating - couple of posts ...

First, on the Frank Langella/John Badham Dracula, never seen it because, somehow or other, I'd got it into my head it was a comedy spoof - so that's another film to see. Also, you remind me I still haven't seen the Jack Palance Dracula which I remember us discussing here (or, if I did, it couldn't have been very good because I've completely forgotten it). CinemaParadiso (blessed be the name) has both, so they're now on my Wish List. Perhaps I can have a private 'Dracula festival' one weekend - I believe I have both 'Nosferatus' (correct plural?), Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee.

Then, looking at the John Badham film's IMDb page, in the 'Trivia' section, I find that Ken Russell was contemplating a 'Dracula' at the same time - just look at his cast choices - the mind sort of happily boggles - what have we lost?

Still haven't got round to reading Euro Gothic, so I don't think I've ever heard of Homunculus, but I've been doing some googling to see what you were talking about ... and now I'm really intrigued to see it with, apparently, no current way of doing so. Oh well ...

Don't remember that I've ever heard of Alraune and, again, I'm intrigued. So that's two, possibly three new novels I want to read - I find it's part of a trilogy and it all sounds rather fun - plus at least two films. Alas, CinemaParadiso has let me down on this one - they have the 1952 version (wish listed), but neither of the Brigitte Helm versions - and I've been a little bit in love with Brigitte Helm since Metropolis and would really like to see them. DVDs don't seem to be available. Found them on YouTube but really lousy picture quality.

ag. 30, 2018, 10:51am

I saw the three German versions of Alraune earlier this year (; I was able to find the 1952 (with Stroheim and Hildegard Knef) on DVD, but it's German-only. The older versions on YT are indeed of poor quality but I must admit I watched avidly a few titles in even worse shape, so... beggars can't be choosers! :)

Note that I'd mute the soundtrack on the RaiDue upload (of the 1928 version) and substitute, well, anything, even silence. Actually, I find any number of classical recordings will work well enough as accompaniment to the silents...

>7 housefulofpaper:

I'm going slowly through Carlos Clarens' An illustrated history of horror and science-fiction films, first published in 1967 (my edition is from 1997) but still an interesting source. He writes that Olaf Fonss' Homunculus was as popular a figure in Germany as the "less ambiguous" heroes in foreign serials. There is something as disconcerting about that idea as about the character himself.

Editat: set. 5, 2018, 8:16am

Question... (hand raised, waving furiously)

Has anyone seen Hedy Lamarr in Experiment Perilous (1944)? Fell upon it inadvertently in a bizarre list of classic films on IMDb. Here is the link:

I'd seen her in Tortilla Flat (1942) and during my film-noir phase watched The Strange Woman (1946), so this falls dead centre. It centres on a gothic family, and the Boston author was Margaret Carpenter. One of the IMDb reviews relates it to Gaslight. Began my first Faulkner book ever so this kicks it off nicely (a daunting author, proceeding alphabetically, The Sound and The Fury, my finale). Any insight into this film or the book it's based on?

ETA: What is it with George Brent and spiral staircases?! I guess this is a gothic film! Saw a dismal copy last night online, but get the gist. Started Absalom, Absalom! yesterday after a short story called 'Dry September' with Cliffs Notes to decipher the 'dust' storm). GB went on to make The Spiral Staircase (1948) with Ethel Barrymore two years after starring in this film. Great to see him play both sides of the same psychological coin. I am not familiar with his other movies.

*FYI* The title is a common variation of a line from Hippocrates, the Greek Father of Medicine: "Life is short, art is long, decision difficult, and experiment perilous." The line is recited by Nick Bederaux in the film.

set. 12, 2018, 9:28am

Sad to hear Fenella Fielding has passed away (Carry On Screaming!). Definitely one of a kind and I'd watch her in anything.

Editat: set. 12, 2018, 7:51pm

Watched Suddenly, Last Summer (1993/Great Performances) with Maggie Smith, Rob Lowe, Natasha Richardson. Interesting that MS played Medlock alongside John Lynch in The Secret Garden (1993) that same year. Dvd is within reach so it's up next. Saw The Prime of Miss Jean Brody (1969) before deciding to read the book or pass, and one thing led to another. These overlaps are as much curse as blessing, salmon fighting upstream, in perpetual effort and reward.

set. 13, 2018, 8:28pm

>10 frahealee:
No, sorry, I haven't seen it..but director Jacques Tourneur directed some of the classic 1940s RKO horrors for producer Val Lewton and Night of the Demon (an adaptation of M. R. James' "Casting the Runes"). I don't think I'll be watching it in the near future though; I can't watch that horrible cropped and zoomed-in version on YouTube. And there was a UK DVD release but it's gone out of print.

Editat: set. 13, 2018, 8:48pm

>13 housefulofpaper: I'm watching a different horrible cropped and zoomed-in version of Wendigo 2001 on YouTube right now, thanks in no small part to you. The other jab goes to KentonSem and the WT film thread. =)

Editat: set. 20, 2018, 8:48am

Currently curled up in a dark cobwebbed corner, for special effects of course, with Olivia de Havilland (Golden Globe nom for best actress) and Richard Burton (Oscar nom for best supporting actor) in My Cousin Rachel (1952). So far so good! Have not yet seen the 2017 remake either with Rachel Weisz ... anyone? IMDb's label is dra/mys/rom, which is why I prefer the blk&wht version first, to set that Gothic vibe. Weisz was good as Evanora the witch in Oz: The Great And Powerful (2013) so am hopeful she can pull off a convincing effort. She does make a good 'mummy' bahaha =D 20 years next year for that, shocking.

FYI - This is my first run through the story. Everyone knows the author, thanks to her own writing skills and a nudge from Mr. Hitchcock, but somehow I missed the boat, as Rebecca and this book both remain elusive. this then sabotages my self-imposed code of 'book before film' (if possible). Unsure what to expect, but happy to buckle up!

>13 housefulofpaper: There is a thread of 'runes' from autumn 2011 for MRJames that I'll refresh asap. Looks tempting. Is the adaptation worth tracking down? Demons I must force myself to watch in the daytime...

ETA: Well hogwash. That's not the ending I wanted.

Editat: set. 20, 2018, 12:05pm

Looked it up, if David Copperfield counts as Gothic Literature, and what I read said yes, all works of Charles Dickens can be considered 'gothic' (lower case) since each contains gothic strains, even when it might not qualify as a fully immersed Gothic novel.

Watched Eileen Atkins as Miss Murdstone in a Hallmark online movie of David Copperfield (2000) and she was superb. As an aside, trust me when I say, she is the only actress alive who could steal a scene from a naked Oscar Isaacs. Don't believe me? Robin Hood (2010). You're welcome. She has only 98 acting credits? She should appear in every play or movie or remake ever made. Superlative talent and demeanor.

ETA: If there is a psychological term called 'gaslighting' named after the film Gaslight (1944) then there should be a warning term known as 'Murdstone-ing' =(

set. 21, 2018, 2:37pm

>15 frahealee: An interesting development: After going back to scan parts of the 1952 film for further detail, one of the 'suggested' movies from YouTube was about the Queen's mother-in-law. Remarkable story. So glad it revealed itself to me before a funeral news story. What a life! I wonder if the place in Switzerland was the same mentioned in the book Tender Is The Night? Time frame might be about right.

Normally documentaries like this border on 'gossip' which I avoid at all costs, but I truly was interested in this remarkable unknown life. The Mount of Olives. Stunning!

set. 22, 2018, 2:45pm

>15 frahealee:

Night of the Demon (1957) - US title Curse of the Demon (and a slightly shorter cut). Both titles have been used for later, unconnected films, so there's some potential for confusion. Touchstones prefers "Curse", I see.

I would definitely recommend watching the film. I'm sure I recall that the film was discussed, I think in connection with the story so, I suppose, you've read it by now. I suppose i could add that although it has a Hollywood producer, director (French-born, though) and imported star it doesn't get the UK settings, characters, or dialogue at all off-key. The script is by an Englishman, I think I recall, and a long-term Hitchcock collaborator.

Editat: set. 27, 2018, 12:12pm

>18 housefulofpaper: Now that I've finished the short story Casting of Runes, I can pursue the film. Located the trailer and IMDb page at least. Dana was in many of the film-noirs that I blasted through a year or two back, so his casting choice will make it easier for me to ease into a horror flick.

Happened upon Twixt (2011) and found it invigorating! I expected very little from the critical comments but ended up loving it. No nightmares ensued, and although disappointed not to be shaken awake, it was the first thing I thought of; the script reflecting FFC's own life tragedy, the story stemming from his own dream, the use of humour in horror which is hard to do but effective (since most of us want to laugh when gripped by discomfort anyway), Bruce Dern and his lack of personal space awareness, Elle Fanning and her otherworldly 'floating' face and feet, the use of black and white hit with high impact red, Poe as dream mentor, the closing credits artistic and trilled with Val Kilmer wafting Nosferatu, and Tom Waits as narrator. Why on earth did I wait this long? Would love to sink into the secret detail of a director commentary one of these days.

set. 28, 2018, 7:36am

>19 frahealee:

I haven't watched it because of the poor ratings on IMDb and RottenTomatoes, but, by some quirk of chance, Twixt keeps appearing on my radar over and over ... and now there's your post. I think I just must be meant to watch it ...

set. 28, 2018, 7:45am

>20 alaudacorax: Oh good! Keep in mind that it pokes fun at itself all along the way, but that is part of its charm. The Poe parts sometimes quote the essay he wrote about how to write, so FFC did his due diligence.

Today happens to be the birthday of the author of the book that this film is based on, and I cannot wait to see it. I am an immense Mel Gibson fan and don't care who knows it!!!!!!!!! Sean Penn, as volatile as he may be, has a heart of gold with his work in Haiti and his impatience with the 'system' and I admire him for that. Mel's directing talents, even more than his acting credits, right from the very beginning has my eternal respect.

Not sure why I consider it in my mind as gothic, but here it is;

Also, Herman Melville died on this day in 1891, so HM I love your books!!! Another sad story of an author underrated in his own time, dying without knowing his impact on the literary world. Even if you don't like Moby-Dick, you know about it.

Editat: set. 30, 2018, 4:31am

I'm getting raging déjà vu here, but ...

I caught the last twenty minutes or so of the 2005 King Kong last night.

I just CANNOT get my head past worrying about Ann Darrow running around in just that slinky white dress in all that ice and snow - not to mention what the wind must be like in winter on top of the Empire State Building. I seriously worry about her ending up with pneumonia.

ETA - And it would be even worse if Naomi Watts got it too.

Editat: oct. 6, 2018, 7:52am

Skipped through several online versions of The Yellow Wallpaper after reading it, each as chilling as the last. What a story! Layered and raw and set squarely in that oppressive time. The overlapping imprisonment within the house and the marriage and the social expectations makes for great lingering visuals.

oct. 7, 2018, 4:00am

>23 frahealee:

Are you talking about screen versions?

oct. 7, 2018, 4:07am

>24 alaudacorax:

Should have looked before I posted. Didn't know there were any screen versions, but I've found at least four. Interesting, but I think I'd need to re-read the story first. I remember it as quite powerful.

Editat: oct. 7, 2018, 11:19am

Carlos Clarens mentions in passing that Hammer used to make, for a while at least, three different versions of their movies for the UK, US and Japanese market (in ascending order of sadism/gore/other...?) Looking for more information on this, I came across this curious list:

The Vaults of Hammer: 14 Unmade Hammer Horror Films

oct. 7, 2018, 4:54pm

>26 LolaWalser:

More gore and/or more (semi) nudity, I think; this was a practice that relates to their earlier films (before UK censorship/classification got more permissive around 1970).

Thoughts about that list:

Mark Gatiss adapted the (or a) Dracula-in-India script as a radio play for BBC radio 4 last Christmastime. It's quite different from the synopsis given in the article.

Given that Hammer often raised the finance for the films on the strength of the poster, why, why on Earth is the poster for "Victim of his Imagination" so bad? It looks like bad fan art.

A remake of Wages of Fear isn't so strange when you remember their psychological thrillers that ran alongside their Gothic horrors. It's been said that Psycho was the (commercial and artistic) inspiration for these but I think I've read that Jimmy Sangster was very impressed with Les Diaboliques Clouzot's very next film after Wages of Fear of course. In a way it was already remade, or at least heavily borrowed from, for Hell Drivers, one of those British films chock-full of familiar faces (including a Doctor Who and a James Bond!)..and William Friedkin remade it (or went back to the source novel) in 1977 as Sorcerer.

I've seen something of the suggestions for Hammer's Vampirella and, - leaving aside how bad it sounds (if made it would probably have stood in relation to the Hammer canon as Carry on Emmanuelle stands to the other "Carry Ons") - it's so different from the comic character why would they even use the name? It's just giving Warren Comics all the intellectual property rights to their film!

oct. 7, 2018, 5:37pm

I have a soft spot for Vampirella (or had anyway, it's been ummm decades since I read one of her comics) and I'm VERY curious how they'd translate that "costume" on screen without having it fly off her with basically every move... to say nothing of the unseen wonders of Kali and Dracula (did you notice Cushing's face on the poster, to the left?) and Vampire Virgins... SIGH. ("the film was also known as Dracula and the Blood Lust of Kali in other bits of promotional art which implies that Dracula and Kali were going to have some kind of kinky love affair. Imagine what Kali could do with all those arms." DOUBLE SIGH.)

It's a pretty great list all in all and most suggestions don't seem radically different or "worse", for any value of "bad", than the average Hammer fare? I think Payment in fear sounds the dodgiest of the lot, practically a ready-made parody. Less serious than even the naked spacewoman with the fishbowl on her head.

But yeah the posters are amazingly blunt about where they placed the appeal of the product. :)

oct. 8, 2018, 6:04am

>26 LolaWalser:

I read that with lots of chuckles and raised eyebrows. The 'Nessie' poster gave me pause, though - did I know David Frost had a connection with Hammer? I've got something vague in the back of my mind, but I can't find anything with a quick Google. I can't get my head around the idea, somehow - don't know what to think about it.

I was only vaguely aware of Vampirella, and now I realise I'd got her all mixed up with Elvira Mistress of the Dark. Oh well ...

oct. 8, 2018, 6:06am

Oh, and I'd really love to have seen that Bram Stoker biopic - mind duly boggled.

oct. 8, 2018, 9:22pm

Sorry I haven't been on these boards lately (though I have been dipping in to have a read now and then). Having a bad year with my partner & mum and dad in and out of hospital.

>26 LolaWalser: I have read about Hammer all of my life, but don't believe they intentionally prepared 3 versions of their films for the UK, US and Japanese market. Rather, they prepared one version and then that version was the subject of censorship in different parts of the World (or subject to cuts which the distributor requested). For example, the British censor made a number of cuts to 'Dracula' (1958), including to the disintegration scene at the end. This cut version was released in the UK and USA, but the full version was released to Japan, where it recently surfaced (hence the version on blu ray with the cuts restored).

The British censor was hard on horror films, and often got involved at the script stage, providing an opinion on what would pass and what wouldn't. Wayne Kinsey covers this history (including details of the censors involvement and cuts) very well in his Hammer books (which are now hard to find and cost silly money).

Generally, further cuts were often made to Hammer films in the US, usually on the request of the US distributor, to avoid an 'R' rating - for example, 'Taste the Blood of Dracula' (1970) was an X in the UK (age 18 and over), but cut and released in the US as 'GP' (all ages admitted but parental guidance suggested). It's remarkable to me that many of the Hammer horrors like 'Taste' (with its adult themes) were ever marketed for children in the US, even in a truncated form.

Glen Davies wrote two soft cover books on all the Hammer projects that weren't filmed - 'Last Bus to Bray - the unfilmed Hammer' (published by Richard Klemensen, who produces the excellent Hammer magazine 'Little Shoppe of Horrors'.) The books are fascinating, lots of detailed information about the unfilmed projects and in some cases the posters (as Hammer used to produce the poster in order to raise money to make the films). Many of the titles are tantalising - 'Jack the Ripper Goes West'; 'The Man Who Laughed'; 'Father Shandor Demon Stalker'; 'Quatermass IV' aka 'The Quatermass Conclusion'; 'The Ka of Gifford Hillary' and 'Savage Jackboot' (there is a lurid poster of Peter Cushing in a nazi uniform, wielding a whip - the film was intended to be about the Nazi invasion of Lidice, just outside Prague).

oct. 9, 2018, 10:33am

>29 alaudacorax:

"Nessie" is simply too cute a name for a monster. :)

>31 Rembetis:

It's great to see you any time! So sorry about your family.

Thanks for the info on Hammer and Davies' books--on the list they go... Yes, I was intrigued by Clarens' statement because it seemed unlikely (that they'd be earmarking scenes for different countries in the production stage); when I get a moment I'll give a quote and his reference...

But to me it seemed unlikely first of all because Hammer operated with low budgets. In the US it happened occasionally that people would film alternative scenes specifically for different markets. Lewis Milestone's Front Page (1931) is an interesting example (as I happen to have seen the restored version recently...):

Research revealed that three negatives had been prepared for the film: A U.S. version (which used the best takes and was generally more polished), an English version (now lost) and a General European version assembled from other takes and sometimes eliminating American references in the dialogue. The General European version also has a couple things that could not get by the U.S. censors, like a character giving someone the finger.

But there were also striking differences in the dialogue, including in the lost British version. They filmed the different versions one after another--sometimes even with different camera angles. (The Criterion release has extras illustrating this.)

Going back to Hammer, the takeaway is then that there exist only singular original studio prints/studio-edited copies, and any different versions out there are the result of individual countries' censorship?

Would anyone happen to know whether the DVD releases are of the original or censored versions?

Editat: oct. 9, 2018, 10:34am

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

Editat: oct. 9, 2018, 10:37am

not just double but TRIPLE posting now???

Sorry, no idea how that happens on a SINGLE CLICK.

oct. 9, 2018, 12:03pm

>32 LolaWalser: Many thanks for your kind wishes.

It's funny, some low budget British studios did have 'export' or 'continental' cuts of their films, with different scenes. One such is Tigon's 'Witchfinder General' which featured alternate shots of topless barmaids in the 'export' version (this version has been released in the UK in intervening years). I have never read about Hammer doing that. Where they did have nudity, for example, this was often cut in the US (at the request of the American distributor, not Hammer,) to get a PG certificate so children could get in (e.g. 'Countess Dracula' was an 'X' in the UK, but 'PG' in the US). 'Dracula Prince of Darkness' and 'Plague of the Zombies' was also an 'X' double bill in the UK, but cut and aimed at children in the US (the kitsch US poster says 'Boys! Fight back with Dracula Fangs! Girls! Defend yourself with zombie eyes! Get yours free as you enter the theatre!')

So, yes, the various versions of Hammer films out there in the World is I think due to the differences in the versions shown in individual countries because of censorship, rather than any deliberate attempt on Hammer's part to release different product.

I don't know how many of the original Hammer film negatives exist in their original state in their vaults (i.e. before the UK censor took his scissors to them). Certainly, there have been releases of Hammer product on home media that have put back scenes that the UK censor cut (a good example is 'The Curse of the Werewolf' which now includes all the scenes the censor cut, and some of the cuts are bewildering, such as one character scraping a scab off his nose!)

The situation with the different versions did cause confusion in the early days of VHS, when some of the Hammer films released in the UK were heavily cut versions, but, I believe most of the versions available on dvd/blu ray today in the UK and USA are uncut, indeed most companies seem to go out of their way to find the fullest print. Further information about cuts in Hammer films and the various versions available around the World are here:

oct. 9, 2018, 8:29pm

>35 Rembetis:
Sorry to hear about your family.

There is evidence online for at least one instance of a "continental" version of a Hammer film - a scene with Hazel Court (as an artist's model) posing topless in The Man Who Could Cheat Death. The evidence being,
the first item of "trivia" on the film's imdB entry;
second-hand references in blogs;
a brief extract from an interview with Hazel Court in an online article (or "listicle");
a couple of stills, I presume not faked (but who knows?)

Whet doesn't seem to be around is the footage itself; and it certainly doesn't appear on the current DVD.

This is a different situation from the examples you cited of the official UK and/or US release being subject to later cutting for rerelease, TV, or videos rental, and so on.

oct. 10, 2018, 7:27am

>37 Rembetis: Many thanks for your kind words houseful.

I have seen the still of Hazel Court that you mention! I have also dipped into my Hammer books and magazines just in case my memory is faulty, and although I am right on the UK/US differences in the films (i.e. many of the U.S. versions were cut for a PG rating), I was wrong about 'continental' versions for Europe (I am sorry Lola and everyone, and damn my terrible memory!) I should check sources before posting in future now I am getting old...

I found an article by Hammer fan Keith Dudley in an old issue of 'Dark Terrors' where he says there were four instances of Hammer shooting alternative 'continental' versions of scenes (all were topless nudity) - the above mentioned 'The Man who Could Cheat Death'; the burial scene in 'The Mummy'; and the bordello scenes in 'The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll' and 'Taste the Blood of Dracula'.

Checking those films in the Hammer books I have (only a skim read), there is some corroboration in Wayne Kinsey's 'The Bray Studio Years':

- Harry Oakes, the focus puller on 'The Mummy' recalls filming the burial scene three times, and: 'we shot one where they were topless'.

- Kinsey states the Hazel Court scene in 'The Man Who Could Cheat Death' was 'spiced up for the foreign market'. Hazel Court said she was paid £2,000 extra for the scene, "one grand for each bust". John Peverall remembers shooting the scene and Hazel Court complaining that the set was supposed to be closed, but the gantry was full of electricians looking down. As you say houseful, the scene has not been found.

In Kinsey's book "Hammer Films The Elstree Studio Years", he does not corroborate a 'continental version' of 'Taste the Blood of Dracula' with more nudity (that doesn't seem likely to me given Hammer were including nudity in their UK released films at this time), but says:

"As a sign of the times, brief nudity was seen in the brothel sequence near the beginning...British prints contained extra brothel sequences and more violent images during Courtley's death scene and where the children carry Dracula's revenge on their fathers. Whilst Hammer's horrors had always gone out to an adult audience with an 'X' certificate in England, historically they went out frequently as kiddie matinees in America". Kinsey says the US pruning was done by the MPAA, under their rating system, to get a child friendly certificate.

Ralph Bates also remembers filming two versions of the brothel scene. He says he was still a 'green lad' at the time and was shocked when filming the more nude version - 'I couldn't get my words out let alone anything else'.

oct. 10, 2018, 11:01am

No worries, it's a confusing history, a comprehensive filmography with the variants would come in handy, if none such exists yet.

Here's what Clarens wrote (unfortunately there are no references): "At one time, Hammer used to prepare three different versions of each film they produced: one for the United States, a milder one for Great Britain, and one considerably stronger for Japan."

From context the "time" would have been 1950s-early '60s?--but mainly I boggled at that "of each film". Although, no idea how many films we'd be talking about here.

>35 Rembetis:, >36 housefulofpaper:, >37 Rembetis:

Thanks for all the info!

Oh, I just remembered another recently noted instance of a UK/European variant--in Lindsay Shonteff's Devil Doll (1963) there's a love scene in the car. In the British version the action stays above the waist whereas the European cut shows the man's hand playing on her legs and their sinking to the ground, implying intercourse. Now this sort of thing I find significant more than simple nudity/lack off--it affects the storyline and how we perceive the characters and their relationship. A goodnight kiss is not the same as two adults having teenage car sex.

oct. 10, 2018, 12:58pm

>38 LolaWalser: It is indeed a confusing history, and although there are lots of Hammer books, no one has yet produced a comprehensive filmography which includes details of all the variant versions - I suspect that would be really hard to research.

Clarens seems to have missed the European angle, as there is evidence that more nudity was included for Europe in a handful of titles. He is wrong about the US versions being stronger than the UK versions, given (in most cases) the US MPAA cuts for a juvenile audience. The Japan point is interesting given that the uncut Dracula surfaced there. Again I suspect that would be difficult to research.

Interesting point about 'Devil Doll'. I don't believe the continental versions of the Hammer films I mentioned earlier would gain anything from the simple topless nudity.

Editat: oct. 10, 2018, 3:13pm

Ah, Japan--I've been directing warmest "treasures may yet be unearthed" hopes to Japan since I learned it's only their fondness for German Expressionism that preserved Karlheinz Martin's Von morgens bis mitternachts.

Agreed about nudity per se not "adding" anything. I think sometimes at least these differences are interesting in more than a passive, fact-checking fashion--after all, censorship is shaped by culture. And it's such a complex issue, as simultaneously, sexual objectification pulls in one direction, while sexual liberation pulls in another...

oct. 21, 2018, 4:21pm

This arrived last week - the remastered blu-ray of Night of the Demon - packed with a nice little extra - the villain, Karswell's, calling card.

This is really one of my favourite films, and each time I've seen it, it's been in better condition! - here, there are options to see the full (pre release) film in two different aspect ratios 1.66:1 or 1.75:1 (separate remasters by the BFI and by Sony are both included); either as the UK "Night" or US "Curse"; plus the original UK and US theatrical cuts, and loads more extras.

Actually, the extra cleared up a misconception I had about the US and UK versions - both theatrical versions had the same running time; they had both been shorn of about 14 minutes. Only Continental Europe got the full version (which is undeniably better - the shorter running time is at the expense of character development and creates some plot holes). The film should be about 96 minutes long.

oct. 21, 2018, 5:27pm

Lovely! Do you know if the same is available on DVD? I've been meaning to get a copy for a while now, I have a cheapish Region 1 issue with both the American and the UK version in a wishlist somewhere. Although now I'm not clear on why they are both included if they are the same length...

It is a great movie. Clarens bemoans the fact that they made Tourneur reveal the monster, apparently he wanted it unseen, but I don't think it takes away too much from the atmosphere of dread.

oct. 21, 2018, 5:43pm

>42 LolaWalser:

This is from Indicator, which is a Blu-ray - only label. I haven't seen anything to suggest an upcoming DVD release, unfortunately.

There's still a lot of confusion about the monster. It does appear in the script, and was designed by Ken Adam in pre-production (so NOT added in post-production) but the editing could have been done differently so we only saw subliminal glimpses (which can be scarier than a good long look at the monster course - "Captain Howdy" in The Exorcist, Pipes in Ghostwatch, etc.). It is suggested in the commentary that Tourneur was really objecting to the big close-ups on the Demon's face. None of the extras explain why the Demon looks so different in the final scene by the railway track, incidentally.

oct. 21, 2018, 5:49pm

Yes, I just browsed around a little, no card for me... hmmph... but then, did you check it for mystick scribblings? You may want to get rid of that card after all! ;) /sour grapes

Could you just confirm then--you DON'T have the 96 minute version there... or you do? I don't know that the Amazons are 100% reliable (actually I know they are not), but this is what I have on the wishlist and it says run time is 95 minutes.

Yeah the Demon goes "Chinese New Year Dragon" a bit in the grand reveal but oh well.

oct. 21, 2018, 6:14pm

>44 LolaWalser:
Lola, the card is spot-embossed so when the light hits it, it also reads "In Memoriam Henry Harrington allowed Two Weeks" - you can imagine the smile on my face when I noticed!

I'm sorry if I was wasn't clear. The set includes 96-minute versions of Night of the Demon and Curse of the Demon in 1.66:1 and 1.75:1 and 82-minute versions of Night of the Demon and Curse of the Demon in 1.66:1.

A 95-minute version should be the complete, pre-release version (unless it's missing the line of dialogue that the UK censors specifically objected to, when Rand Hobart (Brian Wilde) is being questioned under hypnosis, "we blaspheme and desecrate...In the joy of sin will mankind that is lost find itself again").

Editat: oct. 21, 2018, 6:32pm

Omigod, I MUST get the version with that line. Thanks so much for the info and that tidbit in particular. Reminds me of The Flesh and the Fiends which I've been stalking unsuccessfully for years, and the primo deity-dissing in it, albeit without such overt Satanist tones.

nov. 4, 2018, 1:56pm

I've been reading a book that refers to the idea of "clusters" in relation to genre - "genre" used in "a fairly loose, non-technical way: "these literary types are cluster-concepts: they have a core on which we can all agree, and a more variable periphery on which disagreement is always possible" (the book, by the way, is The Origins of English Nonsense by Noel Malcolm).

The last film I watched has some relation to the Gothic but it's not right in the core, as it were (even though the supplementary material in the Blu-ray release makes a point of stressing the film's Gothic credentials ).

The film is Pleins Feux Sur L'assassin (Spotlight on a Murderer) directed by Georges Franju. It was his next film after Eyes Without a Face (which I haven't seen yet) and written by the team of Boileau and Narcejac (who also wrote Eyes Without a Face and provided the source material for, among other things, Les Diaboliques and Vertigo. Quite a pedigree! But I'd never heard of the film before.

It is, as the title might suggest, a version of an Agatha Christie-style Country House mystery, albeit the house is in Brittany rather than England.

The set up is that the heirs to a massive chateau, upon being told their uncle is close to death, converge on the property for the reading of the Will, only to be told that he has disappeared - medically there is no doubt that he could still be alive, but legally he's Missing - so they must wait five years to inherit the house, grounds and property. In the meantime they all be responsible for the upkeep and taxes.

People start dying off, and it looks like someone wants to be the sole heir.

We have seen the old man hide himself away in a secret chamber to die, in the opening scene. They quickly suspect that's what he's done, but can't find him. it's one of the ironies of the film, and a kind of haunting, too, that there are scenes played out where we know that he's just behind a mirror in the same room as the protagonists, present and absent at the same time.

This presence/absence also plays out in the son et lumiere show that the heirs stage to raise funds. There's an extended sequence where the camera follows the spotlights and sound effects telling the legend of the chateau..but the sound effects and spotlights are all there is.

It looks beautiful - at least as a digitally restored Blu-ray - with that very sharp black and white photography that was possible by the 60s, that almost looks like it's going into the ultraviolet, which had totally disappeared by the start of the next decade.

However, I don't want to oversell the film because it bottom it's just a tongue-in-check murder mystery that isn't weird, or surreal, or irreverent, enough to transcend the genre (Franju blamed interference from the producers for the film's failure). What it's most like, is a slightly flat episode of Midsomer Murders.

nov. 4, 2018, 3:34pm

Ack I shall do my best to forget that comparison, I love Franju. You are in for a treat with Eyes... gruesome but poetic. I had some luck on Halloween, convinced my gang that since they were dragging me to a freakin maskenball it was only fair we should catch "The face behind the mask" with Peter Lorre first. I'd never seen it and it's quite worthwhile. Was the first part of the double bill but we had no time for "The island of doomed men". More's the pity... I'm off to Venice tomorrow, unseasonably cheerful, but with a lookout to some fine fogs.

nov. 4, 2018, 6:30pm

>48 LolaWalser:
Ah, I haven't moved on from Peter Lorre's horror films to crime/melodramas yet. There are still some horror films I've yet to see (Mad Love,and The Beast With Five Fingers, for two).

I hope Venice looks wonderful (in a Don't Look Now kind of way).

nov. 6, 2018, 3:52pm

The Ghoul (2016) is a very low budget British psychological thriller which plays its cards very close to its chest - is it a study of a man's struggle with and descent into depression and delusion; or is he a policeman in deep cover, investigating an "X-Files" type murder whilst falling victim to an occult conspiracy.

Geoff McGivern (the original (radio) Ford Prefect in The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy) is very good as an apparently affable psychotherapist. The rest of the cast and crew are people who intersect the worlds of comedy and Ben Wheatley's films.

nov. 8, 2018, 9:42am

>50 housefulofpaper:

Interesting - Rotten Tomatoes critics like it a lot while the audience decidedly doesn't, while the IMDb rating is in between the two. I've had to add that to my CinemaParadiso list out of sheer curiosity - clearly something that divides opinion.

>49 housefulofpaper:

And I've still not got round to seeing Don't Look Now (or reading it), so that's gone on the list. So many films, so little time ...

nov. 25, 2018, 10:58am

The Resurrected is an adaptation of Lovecraft's novella "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", directed by Dan O'Bannon (with a screenplay by Brent V. Friedman) in 1992. I learned about it from the book that provides a checklist of Lovecraftian film and TV, Lurker in the Lobby. The write-up (of a surprisingly faithful but flawed film) was intriguing but I never expected to be able to see the film for myself. But I found a German blu-ray release (hence the version of the title in Touchstones) and watched the film earlier this year.

I don't want to give too much of the story away. In the novella, Charles Dexter Ward seems to have become possessed by the spirit of an ancestor who had become involved with black magic. Lovecraft keeps some surprises up his sleeve and The Resurrected follows suit, but the denouement is completely rewritten. I think it works better than the novella's ending on a technical level of plotting and character arcs, but detracts from that Lovecraftian sense of Cosmic indifference (if the characters are important enough to be given a heroic death, then the universe isn't that indifferent to them, or by extension to us, is how I reasoned it out).

I'm getting ahead of myself though. You may know that the novella was never published in Lovecraft's lifetime, he never polished it up into a final draft, abandoning it as an exercise in antiquarianism, and he did indeed set much of it back in 18th century New England with lots of what seemed to me to be accurately pastiched 19th century prose. But there's another strain of ghoulish bad taste, or at least a relish for Grand Guignol effects replayed with Jazz Age flippancy (or as close to it as he could bring himself). This is a fairly early work and is, I think, roughly contemporary with the body horror of "Herbert West - Reanimator" (not such an anomaly in the canon as some like to make out), the backwoods cannibalism of "The Picture in the House", and so on. The ending confused me, too. I may not have been paying proper attention...(but to say any more would be to stray into spoiler territory).

The script of the film deviates surprisingly little from the novella - it terms of the actual story and the unfolding of the plot - until the final act, however some decisions (apparently down to O'Bannon rather than Friedman) work to push things into all-too-familiar TV movie territory. The novella takes place in the 1920s, the film updates the action to the present day (i.e. the early '90s). The narrator of the story - who reluctantly has to the on the role of detective - is a middle aged family doctor. The film makes him a private detective (and gives him a romantic interest by creating a wife for the acting-strangely-and-then-disappearing Charles Dexter Ward). Whilst this does make the actual detective work, and occasional recourse to violence, easier to credit it doesn't feel Lovecraftian.

There are some effectively hideous special effects (puppets, costumes etc.) of resurrected bodies - whole, or deformed, or even partial body parts. This being one of the stories that play on Lovecraft's evident horror disconnected but ambulatory body parts (the effect can, for me at least, be unfortunately Pythonesque when reading Lovecraft- shades of The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail - but the effects are good/gory enough to dispel that impression here).

The producers took the film out of O'Bannon's hands before he finished editing it, so it's maybe not fair to point to him, and/or the script writer, for any perceived shortcomings (the Blu-ray includes extras - I assume "ported over" from a US edition unless this is THE BEST DOMESTIC RELEASE OF THIS FILM IN THE WHOLE WORLD! - including scenes cut from the theatrical version of the film. I should warn you that these includes scenes of brain removal from a real autopsy (strangely following Alain Resnais' decision to cut real autopsy scenes into his otherwise rather theatrical Providence (and I still can't decide how good or bad/profound or trivial that film is).

But the decisions to make the cast of characters familiar from a thousand and more TV movies and shows, to replace a flawed but Cosmic ending with one that agrees with film theory better, but makes the whole drama somehow smaller and neater and (by comparison to the whole tenor of HPL's work, almost reassuring...that does sit with the director and writer (oh, there would have been a final gag/sting/gotcha ending, but the earlier scenes that would have allowed it were cut, so it has gone too).

nov. 28, 2018, 7:41pm

>49 housefulofpaper:

I'd say The face behind the mask's horrorish quotient is not that far from Mad love's, actually. Lorre is quite effectively disfigured for most of the film and the fright and dread his appearance causes are important factors for the plot and the atmosphere.

Venice was mostly overcast and muggy this time but I did spend one sunny afternoon... at the beach. Moving on further south down the coast I went swimming a dozen times more until the 20th or so. A first for November at those latitudes.

nov. 29, 2018, 4:56am

>8 alaudacorax: - Also, you remind me I still haven't seen the Jack Palance Dracula which I remember us discussing here (or, if I did, it couldn't have been very good because I've completely forgotten it).

Attempted to watch it last night ... gave up half-way. I was finding the individual scenes rather perfunctory and the way they were fitted together oddly disjointed - a bit like looking at photographs slide-show fashion - just a poor film, basically. I suppose I'll try to finish it over the next few evenings, just for completeness.

Editat: nov. 29, 2018, 6:21am

Do we know, here, that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are doing a BBC mini-series adaptation of Dracula? Have we discussed this - can't find it by a quick search through, but it's ringing bells with me?

Or is it an adaptation of the novel? Dracula is to be played by Claes Bang and I got my eyebrow slightly raised by his description of Dracula as 'charismatic, intelligent, witty and sexy'. It's been some years since I read the novel, I admit, but, 'witty and sexy'? That suggests to me he's more focussed on the screen history than the novel.

nov. 29, 2018, 8:02pm

>55 alaudacorax:

There hasn't been much information about this, has there? If I had to guess what this adaptation will be, I'd go for a "modern re-imagining" along the lines of Sherlock (and, Moffatt's earlier version of Jekyll that starred James Nesbit).

I don't know what to think about this. As a rule i don't like such reimaginings...but I loved Sherlock (at least at the beginning, but even with the first story I could see Moffatt and Gatiss were burning through the source material at such a rate that they would have to do something absolutely astonishing to avoid coming to an almighty crash. In the event, I was less disappointed than a lot of viewers, but perhaps only because I find myself watching it as part of a kind of meta-narrative in parallel with the Capaldi Doctor Who, seeing the common themes and wondering what was going on in Moffatt's head...) And then, I'm not sure that Dracula isn't more effective the less you see of him. Certainly the few minutes of the Dracula TV series starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, from four or five years ago, didn't make me want to see the rest of it. I guess I'm keeping my expectation low because, even if were to start off well, I am not convinced it could be continued beyond the plot lines of the original novel and stay at the same level. I'd be happy to be proved wrong, of course.

nov. 30, 2018, 6:38am

>56 housefulofpaper: - ... I loved Sherlock (at least at the beginning ...

I've written here previously about my delight with the web series Carmilla. In one of the episodes they wanted to indicate a hiatus, so they put up the subtitle, "One binge-watch of Sherlock, Seasons 1 & 2, later (but NOT Season 3)". Made me chuckle, anyway ...

nov. 30, 2018, 8:42am

The latest episode of Doctor Who was a delicious "folk horror" mashup.

I too was very enthusiastic after the first Sherlock story (The study in pink) but followed the rest with increasing annoyance. (And I'll never forgive what they did to Irene Adler and her story...) That said, I seem to be in the minority that liked the timey-wimey fantasy of The Abominable Bride.

des. 1, 2018, 5:03pm

>58 LolaWalser:

I liked it too, but partly because it lent itself to a compare-and-contrast exercise with Capaldi's virtually one-man Doctor Who episode, "Heaven Sent" - as per the "meta-narrative" comment in >56 housefulofpaper:. (Just looked up the transmission dates and realised that was three years ago!).

Speaking of last week's folk horror episode, the gentleman I bought that Conrad Veidt print from, it turns out, worked as a graphic designer on the last series and - just for fun, it seems - has created a pastiche 17th Century broadside about "The Saviour of Bilehurst Crag" and posted it to his Twitter account (Richard Wells @Slippery_Jack). It's a nice thing :)

des. 2, 2018, 9:17am

>59 housefulofpaper:

That pamphlet gave me a chuckle - even though I haven't seen the episode.

Your reference to 'Capaldi's virtually one-man Doctor Who episode' reminds me why I haven't been watching this incarnation (to be honest, haven't seen much of Capaldi's run, either, don't know why). I watched the first couple of episodes and it seemed pretty clear to me that whoever was responsible either didn't have much confidence in the actress or in a woman to carry the stories. They swamped her with companions and gave them much too much of the time, instead of letting her establish herself first, and then pick up a companion or two as things went along. The first episode, especially, should have been all about her, surely? To be brutally honest, I thought the creators were quite incompetent and that Jodie Wittaker was badly let down. At that point, I decided there were better uses for my time.

des. 2, 2018, 9:20am

>60 alaudacorax: - At that point, I decided there were better uses for my time.

I meant after the second episode - which I watched in hope things would get better.

Editat: des. 2, 2018, 12:20pm

>61 alaudacorax:

I'm enjoying this season very much. "Rosa" is in my opinion the best story the show ever made (knocking down "Heaven sent" to position #2). "The demons of the Punjab" was another fantastic historical--both really proved how high the show can go.

I liked Capaldi but not the superhero persona Davies and Moffat forced on the Doctor. Chibnall's "I'm just a traveller" works for me much better. It's very much a callback to the show's roots too.

>59 housefulofpaper:

Hmm, I'd never think to compare "Heaven sent" and "The witchfinders", to me they seem entirely different type of story in every way. Guess I'm thinking too linearly!

Really enjoyed Richard Wells' Twitter feed. So I take it he designed the Kerblam! look--the boxes and logo at least? How very cool. Even more that he's a fan--although I suppose that's more than likely for Brits of a certain age.

ETAx2: Wow, forget "just", he's actually one of the graphic designers on the show... (I mean, houseful said as much, but I thought it was just for the one episode...)

des. 2, 2018, 11:53am

>62 LolaWalser: - I'm enjoying this season very much. "Rosa" is in my opinion the best story the show ever made (knocking down "Heaven sent" to position #2). "The demons of the Punjab" was another fantastic historical--both really proved how high the show can go.

Oh well, I suppose I'll get round to the rest some time.

I realised a slightly odd thing, recently: I actually feel a little guilty about not having seen chunks of some of Doctor Who's series. I imagine it's something to do with having watched it all my life, since the first episode way back in '60-something - more to do with ingrained habit than logical thought. As I said, odd.

des. 2, 2018, 12:13pm

>63 alaudacorax:

I imagine the change would be hard for young fans who grew attached to one actor... Had I been able to watch Tom Baker's run (I was 4 when it started), I've no doubt I'd have been imprinted with his Doctor for life.

des. 2, 2018, 2:01pm

>62 LolaWalser:
Oops sorry, i wasn't clear - I was taking about "The Abominable Bride" and "Heaven Sent". I agree that they don't have much in common with "The Witchfinders".

>64 LolaWalser: I was seven when Tom Baker took over the role from Jon Pertwee. As I remember it, I was in a state of low-level anxiety all through the summer between series (seasons) but was reassured, not even by episode one of Tom's first story, but just the clip of him in a trailer for the programme earlier in the evening.

des. 2, 2018, 7:04pm

>65 housefulofpaper:

But I have just watched something that certainly can be compared to The Witchfinders - the original TV serial version (from 1958/9) of Quatermass and the Pit (on Blu-ray! OK, the 405-line VT copied to film elements can never be HD, but some of it is derived from the original negative of the pre-filmed scenes, and they are beautifully crisp).

This is the original - at least as far as British TV drama if concerned, that does the supernatural-force-is-really-space-aliens plot (although it's subtler than that, anticipating the main ideas of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Erik van Daniken's ancient astronauts nonsense). It really straddles folk horror, Lovecraftian Scence Fiction/Horror, AND Gothic.

And Doctor Who was really good tonight as well!

Editat: des. 3, 2018, 5:52am

>66 housefulofpaper: - And Doctor Who was really good tonight as well!

Hmm ...

Prompted by yesterday's posts, I watched it, too. Okay, so it kept me watching - a reasonably good story.

I still see it as taking a lot of the focus away from the Doctor, though. To me it was more of an ensemble piece, and I don't see that as really Doctor Who - it could have been in any sci-fi series.

It's ironic that I'm seeing so many malcontents on the web ranting about the show being too PC, too feminist or whatever, whereas I'm sure I'm seeing some good old unconscious sexism keeping Whittaker from having the scripts to be the star of the show she should be. For all I know she can't act - I know nothing about her - but if she's any good I'm sure she felt short-changed when she saw the scripts.

Also, while I'm in a grousing mood, I'm sure the choice to dress her like a wannabe circus clown says something about attitudes I'm sure I wouldn't like 'them' having - but I'm damned if I can figure out what. Just makes me scratch my head.

ETA - Did I say 'a lot of the focus'? More like 'almost all' - the sonic screwdriver did all the heavy lifting ...

des. 3, 2018, 10:32am

>67 alaudacorax:

Interesting, for me getting the focus OFF the Doctor is the much preferred approach, such as they had in "classic" Who. While I enjoyed many stories in the Davies/Moffat era, I heartily detested the whole "Lonely God" mythomania around the Doctor's character, with all the endless but ultimately disappointing navel-gazing "mysteries" regarding the Doctor's name, wife, planet of origin etc.

That said, I've no doubt the future will see again some variant of that--there'll always be the need to refresh and reinvent.

>66 housefulofpaper:

I loved the story and adored the frog! Of course I thought of the slick black panther in "Angel" (if you haven't seen the show, that's how some mysterious god-like entity manifested to the characters it needed to contact, in an empty white space) and appreciated the difference between the glossy-vulgar "stun 'em" approach of the Americans to the humour of the British... frog on a white chair. Very Douglas Adams.

That Quatermass Blu-Ray sounds very tempting but I must do with the DVD. Is the image quality really much improved? Agreed that was a superb series (my favourite of all time).

des. 3, 2018, 1:15pm

>68 LolaWalser: - ... with all the endless but ultimately disappointing navel-gazing "mysteries" regarding the Doctor's name, wife, planet of origin etc..

Now, I'm with you there. Not so much that they were there in the first place, but how weakly they were eventually worked out - the Doctor's wife arc in particular I thought a bit of a damp squib, ultimately unconvincing.

Perhaps my expectations are just too high, for what it is ...

des. 4, 2018, 9:15am

Well, it seems--still--an astonishingly successful and beloved "children-of-all-ages" show. :) There's really nothing else like it, from any number of POVs. Long may it continue...

In other genres... I saw Mario Bava's Operazione Paura from 1966 (English title Kill, baby, kill!), one of his better works, imo. A very creepy little girl sows death in an unlucky village.

And props to the nonpareil Lon Chaney in The Penalty (1920), acting a diabolical double amputee above the knees. I have no idea how they managed it, how on earth he tied up his legs. I pitied Veidt for having to act bent double in The beloved rogue--this must have been ten times worse.

I know I'm a pushover for believing in stage illusion, but this was seriously excellent.

Editat: des. 6, 2018, 6:17pm

Had not seen or read the story before, but enjoyed Vanessa Redgrave, Olivia Colman in The Thirteenth Tale 2013 (a tv movie) enough to seek out the original novel next year. Echos of Jane Eyre, etc. Not so shocking as it might have been, after a few Faulkner stories. Yikes.

The twin element held my attention, since my identical boys are 20 now. Two decades of comparisons and observations, unfortunately, builds awareness. Some oddities are hard to explain, since they have just become normal to parents of twins. I am glad I had my eldest first, and then a girl later, which dispels all sorts of preconceived notions on how children interact, siblings or not. Terrifying at times but would not have traded one second of the whole beautiful mess (belle melange).

des. 8, 2018, 12:18pm

>71 frahealee:

The Thirteenth Tale: idle moment - followed link; read descriptions - got interested; read reviews - got intrigued; downloaded to Kindle and read first few chapters - got entranced. Love the prose; love the concept; already half in love with the narrator; hope I'm going to love where the story goes.

So, thanks for bringing it to my attention, frahealee!

des. 8, 2018, 3:23pm

Catching up on some posts...

>68 LolaWalser:
I haven't done a side-by-side comparison of the DVD and the Blu-ray, but some of the Blu-ray is beautifully sharp and in true High Definition. The difference was at least as clear as when you compare an old b/w feature film on DVD and Blu-ray.

But it is only true for some scenes and it apparently comes down to the way TV was recorded for re-transmission back in the 50s. I'm not sure I fully understood the explanation given in the accompanying booklet, but I'll attempt a summary.

405-line television, broadcast live, was surprisingly good image-wise. But the technology available to record TV transmissions for repeats, or for posterity, was quite primitive and degraded the image. Repeat transmissions would often be re-edited e.g. to replace live errors with rerecorded "patches" or to edit down to an omnibus edition. This could compromise some scenes to a 3rd-generation copy.

The materials available for the Blu-ray of Quatermass and the Pit consist of an omnibus version re-edited with an eye to keeping the quality of the image and sound as high as possible, and worse-quality copies of the full 6-episode version. all this material consists of a mixture of live performance recorded from live transmission, a small amount of recorded "patches", and a small amount of prerecorded 35mm film elements. How the quality was kept up, was, firstly, the live output from the TV cameras was recorded direct to film (I don't know how this was done but it also happened - by accident - to a Doctor Who episode being recorded the night of a General Election. All video recording equipment was tied up by News and Current Affairs, so Doctor Who was recorded to film. I assume this was far too expensive to do as a matter of course but it did result in a very sharp recorded image (not a bit like the "telecine" process where programmes on videotape were saved by playing them on a flat-screen TV (flat by 1960s standards) and recording the picture on film).

The genuine HD elements come from the prerecorded film elements, because the original negatives were spliced into the film when the omnibus edition was created.

so the image quality does go up and down - mostly good, occasionally quite poor (the scenes trimmed from the omnibus edition) - for 10?% of the time very very good,

des. 10, 2018, 8:29pm

Ah. Well, seems I'll make do with my humble DVDs for a while yet. :)

I meant to catch up on some horrors in preparation for my Very Lynch Christmas but got distracted by The League of Gentlemen, seasons 1--4. It's so heavy on the gross-out factor I'm astonished at how much I liked it. It truly is excellent--great structure and real emotional poignancy, involving the freakiest characters and situations. Yeah, I know--I'm only 19 years late.

Editat: des. 11, 2018, 10:40am

>72 alaudacorax: You're most welcome! Olivia Colman is an underrated gem and she caught my eye, having been in the news with The Favourite 2018. The Thirteenth Tale trailer brought thoughts of Vanessa Redgrave in Atonement 2007, in that she plays a writer assessing her life, as she speaks to a journalist/interviewer. The perpetual question of book vs. film might be in question here, since I'm unsure if text has been transferred to screen or if it is the director's 'vision' of the plot. With so few characters, they needed weighty actors, and the cast slotted in well. There are sufficient twists and turns and overlaps, mental illness and sprawling grounds and mysterious occurrences to captivate the gothic mindset. The fire element is likely the reason for comparison to Jane Eyre. Here's hoping the book is worth its while and our time! (2019 tbr list... I am still on my Thomas Hardy bender, leaving Tess for last.)

Speaking of which, in The Return of the Native (chapter 5), the character of Wildeve states:

"...unlucky enough to be cursed with sensitiveness, and blue demons..."

Does anyone know if this refers to something specific, or is it simply a vague mention? Might it be a regional entity unique to 'Wessex' or a British saying or something unique to Hardy?

Uncertain whether the story is gothic or not, but there is a tv movie The Return of the Native 1994 that depicts the desolate heaths and a neighbourhood witch. =) Stellar cast; Joan Plowright, Celia Imrie, Steven Mackintosh, Ray Stevenson, Clive Owen, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

des. 11, 2018, 8:17pm

>75 frahealee:

"...unlucky enough to be cursed with sensitiveness, and blue demons..." - is it a variant of "Blue Devil", meaning depression or melancholia?

des. 11, 2018, 10:17pm

>75 frahealee:, >76 housefulofpaper:

I've seen the plural 'the blue devils', too. I wouldn't swear to it without a search, but I think in Jane Austen - certainly a writer prior to Hardy's time - so I imagine it would be his variant on the same theme.

>75 frahealee: - ... leaving Tess for last ...

I tend to remember my first reading of Tess of the D'Urbervilles as the most emotionally-shattering experience of my youth. It wasn't, of course, such things mostly involving real-life young ladies, probably; but the sting of those long ago faded and it's Tess I remember. Broke my heart. I recognise it as one of the greatest novels I've ever read, yet so traumatic I've only read it once since. If I were to re-read all Hardy's novels now, I think I'd finish with some lighter reading - Under the Greenwood Tree - as a salve to all the suffering.

Not sure if Tess counts as a Gothic novel, but it certainly has some traditional Gothic elements.

Incidentally, I rarely see any mention of them, but I find Hardy's short stories very enjoyable. They run the gamut from harrowing to hilarious.

des. 16, 2018, 1:09pm

>71 frahealee:, >72 alaudacorax:,>75 frahealee:

Just finished The Thirteenth Tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Loved the twists and turns. It did think there were two or three weaknesses, so I've only given it four stars, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

I don't think I'm going to bother with the film, though. I have such strong images of the characters in my mind I don't think I want anybody else's.

des. 18, 2018, 9:01am

Watched the first episode and a half of 100 Years of Horror last thing last night. It's quite good but, oddly, Christopher Lee seemed a little wooden in places.

It was fascinating to see interviews with all those old stars. And I wondered again how different things have might have been had they chosen Conrad Veidt over Bela Lugosi as Dracula - I'm sure we've discussed that story round here, somewhere. And I really can't get my head around Lugosi's addiction to 'sulphur water'.

des. 18, 2018, 9:33am

I wondered again how different things have might have been had they chosen Conrad Veidt over Bela Lugosi as Dracula

I think Veidt's Dracula would have been something stunning. Sometimes I try to imagine it putting together bits of his Rasputin, Cesare, Ivan the Terrible etc. Idle work considering how surprising he could be. I wonder if he wouldn't have tended toward the Nosferatu range, though.

Lugosi, it must be remembered, was already established in the glitzy role on stage so there wasn't that much "invention" going on regarding his interpretation in the movie.

Coincidentally, over the weekend I finally saw Mark of the vampire (1935), Tod Browning and Lugosi in a powerful silent performance (somewhat ruined by the twist).

des. 18, 2018, 6:45pm

Ghost Stories (can't find a Touchstone) is the 2017 film version of Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman's West End play.

It's structured as a portmanteau film, the main character, skeptical professor Philip Goodman (Andy Nyman) seeks to debunk three hauntings. It's difficult to say much without spoilers (avoid the trailer on Youtube by the way, or rather the comments underneath, where someone has revealed the twist). Enough to say that the stories turn inwards and Goodman's personal ghosts - the non-supernatural kind - come increasingly to the fore (speaking of spoilers, the commentary, at the point where the filmmakers talk about how the film and the play differ, seem to blithely give away the coup de théâtre climax of the stage version. I say seem because I haven't seen the play, and I wouldn't put it past them to be laying a trap for the unwary, but on balance I think they've given the game away).

I thought it was very good. Bleak though, which might be a surprise given that Jeremy Dyson is one quarter of The League of Gentleman (he's the one that doesn't appear in front of the camera).

des. 18, 2018, 6:54pm

Interesting--but then, Shearsmith and Pendleton too veer from comedy to pure horror in Inside No. 9 (sometimes in the same story...) That whole gang has clearly absorbed choicest horror schlock in their tender years...

des. 18, 2018, 7:19pm

Speaking of which, finally entered remaining DVD loot for the year... Muppets to Nazi zombies, it's all in.

des. 18, 2018, 7:49pm

>83 LolaWalser:

Just taken a look. Wonderful collection...and very eclectic...Are You Being Served? probably the biggest surprise!

des. 18, 2018, 8:42pm

Arcadia (2017) directed by Paul Wright seems to officially be classified as a documentary. It's also described on the DVD sleeve as folk horror.

I'm not sure about either description (although I used both as tags when I entered the work here - lazy!). It's really a visual essay or poem constructed from archive footage. Chris Petit was doing something similar years ago (for the BBC's Arena arts strand, I think). That used noir-ish footage of London to, in the end, equate Margaret Thatcher with Dr Fu Manchu (was Iain Sinclair involved too?). Arcadia is about Britain's countryside, mostly, or telling a story about Britain through images of its countryside. Footage of folk customs, early 20th century naturists, hippies, all counterpointed, suggests a dream of rural contentment (Arcadia, in fact); but this is undermined as the film progresses as social tensions and industrial despoliation grow from disquieting hints to dominant themes.

Is there a name for this type of work? Is it a recognised separate genre or technique in its own right?

Ah - the elusive Anne Briggs recorded a couple of tracks (the soundtrack is composed by Adrian Utley and Will Gregory). Tracks from the soundtrack album are on YouTube if you want a listen.

des. 18, 2018, 9:51pm

>84 housefulofpaper:

Heh. That's some primo ensemble work, you know. And the BEST Christmas specials. But I humbly accept my opinions on things televisionary and cinematic have hereby descended to sub-zero values for eternity. :)

>85 housefulofpaper:

Is there a name for this type of work? Is it a recognised separate genre or technique in its own right?

No idea, but it sounds as if a genre might be forming--in the eye of the beholder, at least. Neo-folk horror? Not very imaginative, I admit. Is this part of some revival that was touched on recently with the restoration of Penda's fen?

For my part--and I know I'm paranoid and PTSD'd--but I must say rhapsodies about the countryside and "rural contentment" in particular fill me with profound dread and suspicion.

des. 18, 2018, 9:57pm

By the way, I don't remember if this was brought up the last time we talked about Penda's Fen, but it's something I thought about in relation to it--and this brings up the same associations--Derek Jarman's The Last of England, hitting (apparently) all those notes of devastation, loss, decline, militarisation, but not, to my mind, in a nationalistic, fascistic, reactionary-romantic way.

Editat: des. 19, 2018, 4:30pm

Ah, I've done it again...typed away here long after midnight and ended up with a muddle; sorry LolaWalser, I was referring to the cut-up/bricolage technique of the film, when I asked if it had a name (and although I've managed to remember both of those terms since last night, I don't think either quite apply).

As for the emerging Folk Horror or Neo-folk Horror genre, the coinage seems to be Piers Haggard's, when he talked about his own film Blood on Satan's Claw for Mark Gatiss' BBC Horror documentary (back in 2010?). The ever-widening application of the term threatens to make it as nebulous as "Gothic". I think, but like Gothic you can unscientifically "know it when you see it".

I am entirely in agreement with you regarding discomfort about rhapsodising about the countryside (Britain possibly avoided the worst of those Blood and Soil ideas - so far - but I'd guess only because of the ever-present class issues: the upper classes appropriating the land through Enclosure Acts, keeping land for fox hunting and pheasant shoots, "Capability" Brown clearing away whole villages for the sake of a better view from his client's Stately Home...(oh, it goes back to William the Conqueror and the loss of rights to using the royal forests, except that that brings in its own Blood and Soil ideas, via the mythology of Anglo-Saxon resistance to the "Norman yoke").

I don't think Arcadia falls into that trap though, even the (arguably overused, I guess; looking at all the Touchstone options) title contains contradictions - the "Et in Arcadia Ego" tag; the fact that the real region of classical Arcadia was, I understand, a tough and hardscrabble place to live.

Edited to add - I haven't seen all of Derek Jarman's work. The Last of England is one that's eluded me, so far.

des. 19, 2018, 5:20pm

>88 housefulofpaper:

Even the technical side of "Arcadia" sounds very much like Jarman's approach, so I hope you'll get to see it (for the same reason I'm curious to see Wright's movie now).

Editat: des. 26, 2018, 8:30pm

My current mood is for re-watching black/white classics online, since our household movie screens are occupied with Avengers, Pacific Rim, assorted Pooh/Ferdinand/Hotel Transylvania 3 'classics of a different kind'. Do Portrait of Jennie 1948 and The Bishop's Wife 1947 qualify as gothic due to the supernatural element? There are lots of nods to it at least; convent, cathedral, mysteries of transformation, etc. Cannot seem to get enough of Ethel Barrymore, or the old timer and his bottomless sherry bottle. I think I can appreciate those supporting characters better now, after studying gothic layers this year. I'll get it right, in a few more decades.

I felt badly yesterday for missing the Queen's Message on CBC, but caught it this morning. =) What a wonder she is.

Editat: des. 27, 2018, 8:37am

The Late Edwina Black 1951

Prominent staircase, check. Old isolated estate, check. Deteriorating atmosphere of grounds, check. Sordid deed and manipulation, check. Church steeple/spire and chimes with clock face, check. 'Ghost' placing obstacles in the way to incite panic/guilt, check. Travel to Venice thwarted, check. Crows causing a ruckus in the background, check. Feigned madness and fainting, check. Formidable housekeeper, check.

I will have to watch Henry V and Roman Holiday later this week, since the doctor in this movie was none other than Harcourt Williams, the King of France himself! =) An appropriate tie in with Pistol, after watching Newton in Treasure Island already. Loving the overlaps...

des. 27, 2018, 7:00pm

>89 LolaWalser:
I might just wait for the BFI's Blu-Ray box set next year.

>90 frahealee:,>91 frahealee:
I think a lot of Gothic fiction's distinctive tropes, images, plot devices, who have you, all got incorporated into the mainstream in the 19th and 20th centuries, be it stage melodrama, "sensation novels", the ancestors of crime and detective fiction. Whether they have a Gothic "tone" or not depends on how they are used. And for cinematic versions, how they are designed, lit, directed.

A Gothic feeling can be, as it were, re-injected into the material if an Expressionistic style is used. This could be from the director or cinematographer directly (they might be German emigres or (like Hitchcock) learned their trade in Germany before WWII, or they might have taken the style from Film Noir.

I'm not as familiar as perhaps should be with many of these films. From the synopses on Wikipedia Portrait of Jennie and The Bishop's Wife both strike me as more straightforward fantasies (not all Gothics are supernatural, not all tales of the supernatural are Gothic, as more than one person has reminded me on here when I've written a little too much about ghosts and monsters!).

The Late Edwina Black sounds like one of those 19th century (it started out as a stage play, I gather) inheritors of Gothic tropes that I touched on earlier.

gen. 3, 2019, 3:26pm

I raced through Ian's British horror film in two days with The house that dripped blood and other Amicus and Hammer movies playing in the background. :) So many points of interest, and as expected, my to-see wishlist much expanded...

One detail that stunned me, concerning the effects of censorship in the fifties and the sixties--I had thought, naively, that censorship was then a matter of someone saying cut this and that out, which would be done, and then everyone went their own way... But no, actually, people ended up prosecuted, bankrupt, jailed, ruined, even dead. Shocking.

New movie seen--Pete Walker's Schizo. Not nearly as good as House of Whipcord, and I'm afraid, for those who know Hitchcock's Marnie, obvious from the start. But by no means without interest.

gen. 6, 2019, 4:33pm

After having discussed it way back in 'Gothic Films (2)', I finally got round to watching The Monster Club this evening.

I loved it - it was just so much fun! The connecting story was so laugh-out loud funny on times (the club's stripper startled a real belly-laugh out of me), yet the individual stories were really gripping - even affecting on times. What with the musical acts as well it was a really weird hotchpotch and left me slightly stunned.

Leaving aside the rock music, I was quite taken with the unusually rich background music to a couple of the stories.

gen. 6, 2019, 5:19pm

Yeah, it's a favourite--I actually ordered it last week along with two other DVDs from the UK Amazon (in what was supposed to be my last order for a good while... we'll see how long the resolve stands...) The other two are Blood on Satan's claw and Nothing but the night.

Picked up a Vincent Price two-fer in a sale, The haunted palace and Tower of London. I'd seen the former before but wasn't even aware of the latter. Price's Richard II is an awful villain--probably terrible history but a very entertaining lunatic murder spree.

gen. 6, 2019, 6:30pm

>95 LolaWalser: - ... we'll see how long the resolve stands...

That's why I call them 'New Year's Revolutions' (as opposed to 'Resolutions') - they come round every year but they never last anywhere near February.

Editat: gen. 7, 2019, 7:20am

My apologies - I was going to write a few words about Web of the Spider, but I'm a third of the way through, not a lot has happened, and I really can't sit through any more of this dross. 'Lumpen' is the word that keeps coming to mind, acting and directing.

gen. 6, 2019, 8:47pm

Happy New Year everyone.

Lola - I think you will be interested in this book on Penda's Fen - due in June:

Editat: gen. 6, 2019, 9:13pm

Happy new year, Rembetis! I hope things are looking up for you and yours.

Thanks bunches for that link, that's great--and that's one silly resolution down... (pre) ordered in a jiffy. :)

I actually get a MIT newsletter and remember looking at the "Strange Attractor" titles before--everyone, check them out:


Heh, this one drew my eye because the same illustration is on the edition on Machen I'm reading (ummm, for two years now):

Faunus The Decorative Imagination of Arthur Machen

Editat: juny 16, 2019, 3:05pm

>93 LolaWalser:
But no, actually, people ended up prosecuted, bankrupt, jailed, ruined, even dead. and it happened again with the "Video Nasties" panic in the Eighties/early Nineties.

I remember Schizo being on Sky Movies about 10 years ago but I don't seem to have had the wherewithal to tape it (this was just after Sky had swallowed up its rival satellite network BSB (British Satellite Broadcasting) and consequently had a lot of interesting older films in its repertory). Pete Walker's films are so nihilistic and grotty I'm rarely in the mood to watch one.

>97 alaudacorax:
Just looked it up and it's a remake of one the films on the Barbara Steele Blu-ray I got a while back, Castle of Blood (Danza Macabra). I thought the original was quite effective - low budget, corny in places, but it had a definite atmosphere.

>99 LolaWalser:
Oh is that the Tartarus Press edition of The House of Souls? I saw a first edition of the 1906 edition (under glass) at the British Library's Gothic Imagination exhibition. The illustration is by Sidney Sime, who is more usually connected to Lord Dunsany. I'll be getting a copy of that book (I found Strange Attractor Press' UK website a few years ago), but I'm sure I'll have some of the contents already, s I've got every edition of Faunus ("The Journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen") from Autumn 2010 onwards.

I watched I Vampiri again yesterday (confession: I'm letting my DVD/Blu-ray collection get the better of me; I thought I'd found an unknown extra on the UK Black Sunday Blu-ray. didn't realise I already knew about it, moreover had already watched it). The backstory seems like a parody of Italian film-making: director Riccardo Freda raises the finance by betting with the producers he can finish the film in two weeks; it's a tempestuous shoot, he walks off the production and it's only completed because Mario Bava stepped in (incredibly, the same thing happened again with the next film - but Freda claimed he engineered it that time, to push Bava into stepping up from cinematographer to director).

I Vampiri - as the accompanying booklet notes, covers nearly all the themes that re-occur again and again in Euro-Horror: a mad scientist plot that combines elements of Dracula and Frankenstein, abductions of young girls (for blood, for organs, for "life force" etc), police procedural and/or lone investigators..(it's dawned on me that this also describes the 1976 (I think) Doctor Who story The Talons of Weng Chiang). It was the first Italian horror film since the 1920s - Mussolini had banned them.

Edited -corrected Sidney Sime's name.

gen. 7, 2019, 7:04pm

The Black Sunday Blu-ray includes nearly an hours' worth of trailers for Bava's films running from the late '50s to the mid or late -70s, encompassing "peplum" films, horror, westerns, "giallo", a misfiring "zany" comedy with Vincent Price etc.

It included the trailer for Kill, Baby, Kill and I was reminded how distracting a presence the Burgomeister, Karl, is - for me at least. The reason is, the actor who plays him, Luciano Catenacci (but billed as "Max Lawrence") is - bald head aside, the living spit of English comedian Stewart Lee..made more meta by (1) his routine about being mistaken for other people such as Fine Young Cannibals singer Roland Gift (leading to the endless comments under any YouTube clip of him parroting his routine, "that {insert name} has let himself go."; and the fact that he did appear on TV in a bald wig (on Time Trumpet) as a future version of himself commenting on unlikely near-future events (in our future, but his past) to humorous/satirical effect.

gen. 7, 2019, 8:07pm

>101 housefulofpaper:

Funny! I really appreciated the oddball Burgomaster and his romance with the village witch... the two of them were so kinky sweet together.

>100 housefulofpaper:

My edition of The house of souls is by The Richards Press, London, the Cheap Edition (thus designated on the colophon) from 1936. This is its actual cover:

No mention of the illustrator anywhere so thanks for his name! Assuming it's the same person--sure looks like it...

Speaking of the theme from I vampiri and The Talons..., there's also the really very good Countess Dracula with Ingrid Pitt.

gen. 8, 2019, 7:42am

>99 LolaWalser: Thanks for your good wishes Lola. My partner is much better, thank goodness. My parents, in their 80s, are both frail and ill, but they are as comfortable as they could possibly be, under the circumstances, and well looked after.

gen. 8, 2019, 9:54am

I failed to watch another film last night, The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb. To be fair, it wasn't as bad as Web of the Spider, but it was all rather pedestrian, and the male, romantic rivals (I think that was what they were shaping up to be) looked slightly uncomfortably long in the tooth for their roles.

gen. 8, 2019, 10:29am

>103 Rembetis:

So very glad to hear that about your partner! Yes I commiserate on the parents, I have a similar situation with my mum and grandma (and even my stepbrother's mother), where every year brings problems more and more difficult to resolve from afar or on shortish vacations...

>104 alaudacorax:

What, haven't you heard, gentlemen are never too old for romance, only women. ;)

That's the one with George Pastell, the Oriental villain in so many sixties series... and Ronald Howard, the pleasantest of Sherlocks.

Agreed it may be the weakest of old "Mummy" movies, but I can still watch it...

gen. 8, 2019, 8:30pm

>105 LolaWalser: Thanks again. I am sorry to hear about your mum, grandma and stepbrother's mum. I am lucky in that my parents live an hour or so away (by public transport) so I visit very frequently and provide hands on help with any problems (as do my siblings). I really empathise with what you say about every year bringing more problems.

>104 alaudacorax: The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb is a very weak Hammer effort, but I love it for the production design by the brilliant Bernard Robinson. Truly excellent given the tiny budgets for Hammer films.

gen. 8, 2019, 11:03pm

>106 Rembetis:

Ah we'll manage... until we no longer can! :)

Oh, I made a great discovery on YT--a television series from 1994 called Dandelion Dead (link to IMDB), with SUPERB performances by Michael Kitchen and David Thewlis. Based on a famous poisoning case and a trial written up in that Penguin series about famous criminal trials. Lots of other well-known actors--Sarah Miles, Bernard Hepton, Lesley Sharp... but Kitchen and Thewlis are just so tremendously good and run away with the whole thing. If you haven't seen it, best to go in without pre-knowledge, it's really edge of the seat stuff if you don't already know the details of the case.

Editat: març 29, 2019, 6:51pm

>19 frahealee:, >20 alaudacorax:, >21 frahealee:

Started to watch Twixt this evening. I have to own up that I just didn't have the patience to stick to it, and gave up after about a half-hour. I didn't really believe in Val Kilmer and his character, which was probably my main problem, but I wasn't particularly gripped by anything much about it. Well, possibly Elle Fanning--I felt she was putting her heart into the job.

Oh! Just remembered something. When he was Skyping with his wife (actually she with him, rather) and she was pawing all over his precious first edition, and he did NOT immediately drive home, stake and behead her, and bury her body at a crossroads at midnight--totally unbelievable--ruined my suspension of disbelief, that.

ETA - I mean, if you can have 'justifiable homicide', surely a case like that would warrant 'justifiable evisceration'?

abr. 8, 2019, 7:21pm

I watched The Unholy from 1988 and initially felt it was a derivative mash-up of a number of horror films, dating from roughly the decade and half before it was made - The Exorcist, The Omen, The Sentinel, and its near-contemporary Prince of Darkness (sorry, Touchstones aren't working at the moment) - to which are added, whether coincidentally or knowingly, an 80's Hollywood approximation of Euro-sleaze (Jean Rollin-style diaphonous robes for the succubus-type demon (not sure it is a spoiler, by the way, as this is the very first scene), and a kinky black-magic cabaret act of the kind Jess Franco put in his films - but, more punk.

There are unsolved murders centred around a Catholic Church in New Orleans, which a young priest has apparently been selected by God to battle (he is, unironically, described by one character as "the Chosen One!).

It often seems quite naive - I was imagining a comic book written by a twenty-something (out to make an impression, not afraid to shock, not always able to present a believable picture of how the world actually works) as something comparable to how this film struck me (and I was reading a lot of comics like that in 1988).

That said, it came as a surprise to learn from the extras on the disc that the original story was by a Hollywood veteran (Philip Yordan) and the script - and much else in the film - by a respected theatre director. And lead actor Ben Cross expressing admiration for the original script, and warmly remembering making the film.

Apparently the original script was more of a noirish murder-mystery, the supernatural solution being a last-act twist. But the decision was made to reshoot the ending (only the ending?) and go all-out for horror. I've no doubt that if they'd stuck with the original idea they would have been accused of copying Angel Heart and would have been overshadowed by The Exorcist III.

Allowing for all my reservations, I ended up enjoying this more than I did Carpenter's Prince of Darkness. But be warned - I seem to have developed a high tolerance for shlock, if not a taste for it!

maig 12, 2019, 2:54am

>109 housefulofpaper:

When you mention New Orleans and martial priests... in the garden of the St. Louis cathedral in the French Quarter (my home for years--the Quarter, not the cathedral ;)) there's a statue of Jesus that freaks out everyone and is actually popularly referred to as "Scary Jesus". ("Meet me at 8 by the Scary Jesus...") It's the sick lighting and the huge shadow it creates, mostly, but also the dead white face. Bad sculpture redeemed, if you will, by the theatrics. I had no knowledge of the pop lore the first time I came across it at night and flinched like a right rabbit. Genuinely and irrefutably creepy.

Oh yes. What I came to post. The fab 1926 The Magician with Paul Wegener in the eponymous role. Someone in my Connections feed posted it and I nearly fell off my chair--I had just been reading in Everson how it's lost etc. But then the Everson film horror book is from the eighties or even the seventies...

So many juicy bits. Off the bat, we get a huge sculpture of a satyr falling on the sculptress as if assaulting her, in the way satyrs were wont to. Sculptress is paralyzed. Lovely young Doctor restores her to health, ah, BUT!--the demoniac Magician puts her under his spell!--he needs a virgin's heart for his unspeakable rituals and for some reason the sculptress is the virgin he's set on de-hearting. Mayhem and then more mayhem, including a visit to the underworld.

Wegener, as usual, plays off the oddity of his face with zest.

The Warners Archive DVD-R edition is not specially restored but it's OK. No extras. New musical accompaniment.

maig 17, 2019, 2:23am

Um ... I can feel the ghost of Freud hovering--a virgin sculptress sculpting a huge satyr?!

maig 17, 2019, 2:53am

>110 LolaWalser:,>111 alaudacorax:

Okay, a little online reading and I know I have got to see that! Novel by Somerset Maugham with his magician based on Aleister Crowley, who apparently wrote a scathing review; film an influence on James Whale ... yup, got to see it.

maig 18, 2019, 10:09pm

>111 alaudacorax:

lol, indeed

>112 alaudacorax:

It's a good 'un, I hope you find it. It was on Everson's list of seminal horror classics, more than half of which I've seen by now, and it looked to be lost, so, extra delighted that it turned up.

I wonder how many people based characters in their work on Crowley? Must be a sizeable collection by now.

Editat: maig 19, 2019, 5:44pm

>95 LolaWalser:

Just watched The Haunted Palace, aka Edgar Allan Poe's The Haunted Palace. Thoroughly enjoyed it--what I class as a 'proper, old-fashioned horror film'.

I was a little intrigued by the decision to give all the baddies grey-green skin and wondered whether it was makeup, lighting or something added after filming ... or the DVD I got hold of ...

I was a little underwhelmed by Frank Maxwell as the doctor. As an actor I thought he was overshadowed by practically everyone else in the film. I mean, he wouldn't even have needed to have acted better--if he'd only hammed it up a little he'd have better fitted into the setting. Or an actor who'd spark a little sexual chemistry with Mrs Ward wouldn't have come amiss.

I was also a little doubtful of the ending: it might have marred the film's internal reality, or it might be more to do with my familiarity with the original Lovecraft. Depends how much importance the 'innocent eye' would put on the burning of the portrait. Incidentally, I was pleased to note that Lovecraft did appear in the credits--I'd mistakenly got the impression that he wasn't acknowledged.

maig 19, 2019, 5:58pm

>114 alaudacorax:

Oh I love that one, it's quality. The deformed villagers are a fantastic touch. It's definitely the green makeup on Chaney etc. What would he be, some kind of living corpse, waiting for his master? Pretty gruesome.

The white knights always end up sort of schmoey in movies like these. Price's villain actually went effectively scary in bedroom scenes with Paget. Rough stuff for the '60s.

maig 19, 2019, 6:04pm

>113 LolaWalser: - ... I hope you find it.
Nope, had to order a Region 1 DVD from the US. Won't be with me till the middle of June. Frustration.

>113 LolaWalser: - I wonder how many people based characters in their work on Crowley? Must be a sizeable collection by now.
Fascinating question, so I googled and came up with this - (have a suspicion we've discussed previously).

maig 19, 2019, 6:07pm

>116 alaudacorax:

Hadn't finished that when it went and posted itself--sure I didn't do it ...

I meant to say that I still haven't read any Crowley--I must get round to it, and a good biography if I can find one.

maig 19, 2019, 6:19pm

>116 alaudacorax:

I remember someone mentioning him regarding Karswell, but not these other instances. I'm just thinking there must be oodles more--oh! for example, there's a Ngaio Marsh mystery (coincidentally the only one I've read) in which there's a sinister mage/guru and his disciples. The description practically screams Crowley. Can't recall the title, I think it starts with her inspector hero witnessing a crime from a train... in France? Italy?

Speaking of Crowley in Berlin, this was interesting: Aleister Crowley : the Beast in Berlin : art, sex, and magick in the Weimar Republic. Endless money worry and schemes falling through cast a shifty, grubby pall on Mr. Beast, but I did admire the seigneurial nonchalance with which he was picking up women, men, whatevers--and the sheer stamina. He was hardly in first youth...

Editat: maig 20, 2019, 3:54am

>118 LolaWalser:

This is a bit of an extreme tangent, but ...

I think I've read that Ngaio Marsh, though I can't remember the title (I have four of them and I can't find my Kindle at the moment). I was on a bit of a 'golden age detective story' kick at the time and also Heron Carvic's later ('60s and '70s) parodies. I had recently read Carvic's Miss Seeton Sings (I think) where I was a little surprised to find in an early '70s book such affectionate and supportive depictions of two male gay characters and a transexual. I'd also noted implied sympathy for at least female homosexuality in Dorothy L Sayers and Agatha Christie*. This threw a greater contrast on the stark homophobia in Marsh's book and I gave up on her thereafter. For me, it quite shattered the 'cosiness'--if that makes sense--of the genre. Nasty, though, I admit, not unusual for her time or a long period after.

*I've just remembered Mr Pye in The Moving Finger, which slightly derails my examples ... oh well.

maig 20, 2019, 3:50am

>119 alaudacorax:

Come to think of it, I suppose that at the time rumours of male-male sex was one of the reasons ('were one of the reasons'?) Crowley was seen as 'evil'.

maig 20, 2019, 4:07am

>118 LolaWalser:, >119 alaudacorax:

I think we were talking about Death in Ecstasy?

maig 20, 2019, 4:19am

Don't worry folks--I promise to get the thread back on track (mixed metaphor?), I've got the 1940 Gaslight to watch this evening. I also have the 1944 version at the top of my CinemaParadiso list, hopefully for the next turn around, so no doubt I'll be woffling film-related over the next few days.

Editat: ag. 25, 2019, 11:43am

On the question of whether or not Crowley inspired Karswell in “Casting the Runes”, a piece in either Ghosts and Scholars or Wormwood suggested Oscar Browning as a possible model. Also an Eton and Kings man, he was an educational reformer to whom a degree of scandal adhered due to a perceived effeminate manner and attachment to various boys in his care (although his Wikipedia entry makes the point that non-physical pupil-teacher attachments were not necessarily frowned upon at that time). “Educational reformer” would in itself have been enough to set Monty against him!

This has been written on my phone so apologies if there are even more typos than usual- or more likely instances of the wrong - autocorrected- word.

Corrected "a Price In" to "a piece in"

maig 20, 2019, 12:40pm

>121 alaudacorax:

Not sure... I've no memory for mystery plots and even less titles... But that reminds me of the second Marsh mystery I had started reading but then lost somewhere. Who knows with all the "death" variations and variant Brit/American titles etc. If there's a death cult in it, located in a church (maybe; a chapel or something?), then that's my lost book and I don't want to click on anything for fear of spoilers.

The Crowley mystery... the inspector's wife and son are in it, that's the only other thing I remember... Ahh!--identified!--it was Spinsters in jeopardy--and look, the very first review mentions Crowley.

Yes indeed, the stakes for Beastitude are so much higher nowadays.

>122 alaudacorax:

Is that the first time you're watching them?! I like them both.

>123 housefulofpaper:

Interesting, I don't recall hearing of this Oscar Browning before. Is it known that James might have been inspired by Crowley, does he mention him somewhere? I'm not sure about the story, it's been a while since I read it, but the character in the film doesn't seem much like him--more of a loner, living with his mama...

maig 20, 2019, 1:55pm

>124 LolaWalser:
I won’t be able to check until next week.When I do I can also check the suggestion, made by Mark Valentine I think, that an obscure nonconformist sect that cursed those it fell out with, might have been an inspiration for the workings of the titular runes.

maig 24, 2019, 4:10am

Watched The Limehouse Golem last night, not sure if it's been mentioned yet. 2016 film apparently based on a short story but I haven't looked for myself.

It's set in Victorian London, and is very nice to look at. (I couldn't hear it at all because of the noise in the room the first time I tried to watch). It's Jack the Ripper stuff, but with a figure called "The Golem" instead. Watching it again, the story feels pretty straightforward and un-magical but the visual treatment gets a little into artistic territory. I'm curious to dig up the written story now.

maig 24, 2019, 5:38am

>126 WeeTurtle:

I tried one Peter Ackroyd years ago (I think it was Hawksmoor but wouldn't swear to it) and found it well-nigh impenetrable. Never touched him again. It could be just me, though, so you probably shouldn't let me put you off.

Having written that, I remembered that I've tried to watch the film and gave up on it part way through--I think there's a bit of discussion about it somewhere, perhaps in this thread's predecessor. I was just bored, and don't remember particularly noticing the visuals, but in the light of your comments I think I'll have another go.

maig 24, 2019, 8:37am

The film is based on Ackroyd’s novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem And is, as I remember it, half a study of the titular music hall star and half a fictional Ripper-substitute (the Golem) sort- of literary thriller, with some notions about the nature of performance and fame linking the two aspects. It’s a long time since I read it, though. I can’t recall how successful it struck me at the time. Looking back, I don’t really see the point of Ackroyd’s semi-fictionalising of history ( eg replacing Hawksmoor with a fictional 17th century architect and naming a 20th century London detective “Hawksmoor” in the novel of that name.

maig 26, 2019, 5:20pm

Watched The Mummy this evening. The Tom Cruise one.

This was a rather odd experience. On the one hand, it's quite a fun film. On the other, you're so conscious of how blatantly they've ripped-off large chunks of the Brendan Frazer films, almost to the extent of recycling. It left me a little shocked (can you be 'a little' shocked--'shocked' without the 'little' is a bit strong, given the level of cynicism I've reached?)

maig 26, 2019, 9:33pm

I was not aware of that remake and will now do what I can to dis-aware myself. ;) (I haven't seen a movie with Cruise since... the 80s?)

I fell into the anime wonderland recently. It's so fab. Well, definitely there are some odd bizarre unsettling and worrying things, but overall it's amazing. Lots of Gothic references (in the stuff I zeroed in on), via various modern-ish filters.

Editat: ag. 7, 2019, 6:13am

I'm curious to see it, only because I have this image of Tom Cruise in my head and how he acts it and I want to see if I'm right. I'm not surprised at all if they took stuff from Fraser's Mummy. It's a remake as far as I'm considered.

I liked Cruise in The Interview with the Vampire, but in everything else he seems to be varying shades of Mission Impossible Guy.

*Edited way after the fact because of garish errors.

Editat: maig 27, 2019, 5:47am

>130 LolaWalser: - I fell into the anime wonderland recently.

Have you seen Spirited Away yet? It is sort of Gothic--or plenty of Gothic touches, at least. And absolutely wonderful--always be on my top ten all-time favourite films list. Also (in my opinion) the dubbed version is rather better than the subtitled; wonder how often that happens?

ETA - I meant I found the dubbed dialogue better in places than the subtitled.

maig 27, 2019, 5:45am

>130 LolaWalser:, >131 WeeTurtle:

Actually, Cruise looked a little mummified about the face himself--another thing that added to the oddity of the experience for me. He must have been fifty-four or five making it, so I assume he was showing the effects of surgery.

Editat: maig 27, 2019, 10:32pm

>132 alaudacorax:

Oh yeah, I love Miyazaki (who doesn't?!) But his films seem a very different sort of animal to anime series. No series can be as perfect as a stand-alone movie, after all... but there are other differences too.

Over the weekend I finished Claymore, about a band of "silver-eyed witches" whose function is to fight the Yoma, a breed of demons who can take human form. The twist is that Claymore are half-Yoma themselves and the more demonic power they release in battle, the closer they are to turning full-on demon, into a so-called Awakened Being, a super-monster. Their comrades usually behead them before it gets to that point, but some get away...

Graphically this was the least polished series I watched, with a muted, washed-out palette and scant, pedestrian backgrounds (funnily enough it was the glorious backgrounds in RahXephon that attracted me first), the plot was repetitive and by the end some duels were too long, but I still found it fascinating.


The first complete series I saw was Death Note. Apparently this is a legendary series. A brilliant high school student called Light picks up a notebook thrown his way by a supernatural being, a shinigami. The notebook has the property of killing anyone whose name gets marked in it. Light starts off with a high-minded crusade about improving the world by killing criminals, and of course things get complicated fast.

Enter what is now one of my fave fictional characters ever--a peculiar genius detective called L (Eru). He and Light get a Sherlock/Moriarty vibe going. Well, not to spoil too much, the series goes on too long, which is bad enough, but the worst of it was the character of Light's girlfriend. Actually I was amazed at how awful were all the (few and bland and insignificant) female characters--yeah Japan has a terrible rep regarding women's rights, but still, this was from 2011 or so.

The demon/ghost world looked so wonderful I was deeply sorry it didn't get more plot. Well worth a look.


Next was Puella Magi Madoka Magica. If somebody had told me just last year that I'd watch happily 12 episodes of nothing but toddler-voiced cartoon high school girls (at least I think they were high school...) Yeah, there's a lot in the anime graphic convention that rubs me the wrong way and stuff I simply don't get, but I'm acclimatising myself.

The story is all supernatural (but reads on the level of psychological growth too)--girls trade their souls for magical powers and fight witches in parallel dimensions. As in Claymore, there are hidden costs to this power. This is the best thing: the sheer mad surrealism of the art in the battle sequences. I squealed with glee at every squiggle. And I wasn't even otherwise high!


Ongoing: Psycho-Pass and Noir. In PP, the police are monitoring people's mood to prevent crimes. Anyone whose quotient of criminality goes over some threshold is liable to be imprisoned to rehabilitate, or destroyed on the spot. But some people nurture psychopathic thoughts without having their mood affected. Can our heroine find them out before she turns criminal herself?

Noir are a couple of female assassins. And where were they my whole previous life. Not sure how the story will develop but so far I'm just happy to see them blast horrible men again and again.

Editat: maig 28, 2019, 11:37pm

I never really got much into watching anime series, because when I first started watching it they were hard to get. We were still getting them on VHS from a specialty video rental place. It wasn't even Blockbuster!

Death Note is interesting though I never saw much of it. L is awesome, and I am always somewhat amused by the fact that I happen to sit like that as well when I'm thinking hard about something.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is tricky, in that it's not a beginner anime, so to speak. I haven't seen all of it, and it's pretty messed up, but it's apparently out to satirize and play off the common "magical girl" anime trope, the style of popular shows/manga like Sailor Moon and it's many versions. The magic, the school girl outfits, the young age, the sexualization, etc. My friend, who is much more versed in anime than myself, was explaining a good part of it to me.

A fascinating series is Fate/Zero from the Fate franchise. Most of the Fate universe appears to be towards the ridiculous end, but Fate Zero sticks out. I'm not sure how to describe it. The basic plot is that wizards enter a context to win the Holy Grail and be granted a wish, and fight via proxies that each have a role with determined abilities, and each role is filled by a historical figure. Either one that is real (Eg. Alexander the Great), one that is so famous that they've become a person to themselves (eg. Victor Frankenstein), Gods, heroes, mythic figures, etc. Of course, many liberties are taken with character backgrounds (sexes are changed, attitudes, abilities, etc.) It's certainly goes into psychological and moral ambiguity territory and such. It's not a friendly show, and goes into some nasty territory. The anime was actually brought over from Japan by Netflix, or so I've heard, and they did the voice dub themselves. It's good work.

For a sort of Gothic feel, but more of the "goth" gothic, there's Witch Hunter Robin. It's what it sounds like. Spell user raised in Italy joins a crew of people that hunt down witches that do bad things. She wears black. Her partner wears black, he has black hair, very gothy. It's more for teens so nowhere near the OMG WTF nature of Madoka or Fate/Zero.

maig 29, 2019, 5:18pm

>135 WeeTurtle:

I love the little details like that sitting quirk you mention. Also when the Japanese characteristics are retained no matter how fantastical the settings--the bowing, the food, the aesthetics...

Hmm, TPL has lots of anime but not those two you mention. My saved hold list is in hundreds--by the time I get through all that maybe new stuff will show up! They do have Fate/Zero manga so I'll give that a whirl, sounds very interesting.

maig 29, 2019, 6:46pm

don't let me derail the anime discussion but I'd like to note a couple of things I've watched.

The Silent The Cat and the Canary directed by Paul Leni. This is on a French DVD and I think has been restored by Lobster films. It runs for 84 minutes, I don't know if this is longer than other available versions. The set up - which you probably already know - is that after the reading of a rich eccentric's Will, the family members are trapped in the deserted mansion, and someone is trying to disqualify the beneficiary from her inheritance by terrifying her so badly she can be certified as insane. It's played for laughs, really; although there are some effective tense moments (most of which I had already seen as clips in documentaries, DVD extras, and the like. The best known "shock" - a hairy hand reaching out from a secret doorway behind a bookcase and snatching someone away - was copied by Scooby Doo and included in the opening titles. The cartoon clearly owes a great deal to its venerable ancestor.

A curious thing about the 1970s remake directed by Radley Metzger - who otherwise made porn films I understand - is that it was screened on a UK satellite channel recently and seems to have been shot on videotape (specifically, on sharp but flat-looking UK (635-line PAL) video). A previous showing (on the BBC) looked like ordinary 35mm film stock. IMdB (not always reliable) says it is film not video. I can't figure it out. Video converted to film? That's usually horrible quality (especially if in colour). The output from the cameras feeding to videotape at the same time as recording to film? Even if it's technically possible why do it (this isn't one of those fuzzy time-coded recordings used for timing/editing that turn up from time to time. It's broadcast quality).

Or has someone taken the film and used VidFIRE on it? This is the technology used to restore a video look to, mainly, Doctor Who stories existing only on telecine, by creating CGI intermediate "frames" between the images that were captured by filming a TV screen as the original video recording was played (this explanation is somewhat simplified). But again, why would anyone do it? So I'm puzzled.

Orson Welles Great Mysteries from 1974/75 has come out in the UK on DVD. This has a great opening theme by John Barry over a heavily solarised sequence of Welles wandering around what looks like a half-demolished house. Then Welles (on film) introduces a 20-minute literary adaptation (mostly shot on video). So far all I've seen is Wilkie Collins' "A Terribly Strange Bed". At 20 minutes it can't be more than efficient, but I enjoyed it. It's made by Anglia Television and very evidently forms a template for their Roald Dahl-fronted Tales of the Unexpected.

Editat: maig 30, 2019, 2:32am

136> Heh. There are a few Fate/ shows, but Zero stands out as being the most serious and I think mature of the bunch or so I hear. I've seen part of it's sequel, Fate/Stay Night, also imported and dubbed by NetFlix I think. The thing it, there's this whole universe of rules behind all the Fate stuff and the Type Moon universe so things can get weird, and do go off the rails at times as far as continuity and such, and some materials that I think qualify at light porn, (but that is a thing that floats around in anime a lot) but Zero really is a good series. I think it's only one season long, and Stay Night is 2.

UPDATE: So just because it's always smart to check, I asked my friend if he knew how the manga compared to the anime and apparently the manga is a fair bit more disturbing as far as imagery goes.

My friend talks a lot about Claymore and also Berserk but I haven't seen either.

Closer to the Gothic end, I couldn't help but notice that shortly after I rated and reviewed The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari on my library's website, there was a wait list when I went to return it. I had it for about 4 weeks before that and no one cared. I just renewed it. Recently reviewed material sits on the library's home page until it get's bumped, so I assume that provided some new publicity for it.

maig 30, 2019, 1:30pm

>138 WeeTurtle:

Looking forward to checking it out. Nice service to the cause of Gothic classics btw. ;) It's the 100th (or thereabouts) anniversary of Caligari so it's been getting a lot of mentions all over the place--expect more as we enter 2020.

>137 housefulofpaper:

Metzger's remake is the one with Honor Blackman? I should get that. I like him a lot. Misty is hilarious, Pamela is sexy... I saw Therese and Isabelle during a retrospective of something or other (it's based on Violette Leduc's book) and while the "teenagers" are somewhat disconcertingly thirtyish, it's actually quite a moving tale of young love under the nuns' brimstony eye.

maig 30, 2019, 5:08pm

Ooh, this is nice--Eureka has a "Weimar Sale" going, all through June:

Collect 'em all!

juny 14, 2019, 4:09am

I'm not sure if I should be worried about my mental health, but I am sometimes rather baffled by the workings of my mind.

Why do I get these obsessions with poorly-written TV series featuring rather violent young women and supernatural elements? Probably started years ago with Xena: Warrior Princess, continued through Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost Girl and probably others I've off-hand forgotten, and now I've just binge-watched all three seasons of Wynonna Earp.

The annoying thing is that I watched the first two seasons on Netflix and was quite conscious of the poor plotting (admittedly the rule rather than the exception on telly) and so held out for weeks against actually paying money for the third season on disc, but then bought it anyway--and binge-watched the first two while waiting delivery! And the saga of mixed feelings continues--perfectly aware of the plot shortcomings of season three but still got frustrated by the cliff-hanger ending.

Okay, I've trained myself to walk past the dessert counter in the supermarket, I can conquer this ...

Editat: juny 16, 2019, 2:10am

>141 alaudacorax: Interesting you say that, since Buffy has had an academic following for some time, dubbed "Buffyologists" so even though some of the early stuff is kind of camp, it is seen as something or a worthy show. My dad called it a "Horatio Hornblower for girls." He read the article on Buffyologists and new my sister (and sometimes myself) would watch the show and asked what it was about. The short answer was "it's complicated" and it was delightful to hear dad use the same words when my step mother asked him what it was about.

Can't say much about the other two, except that fun is fun.. It's why bad horror films are popular, or bad anything films. I watch "Finding Bigfoot" when I see it on, not because I take the show seriously or care much about big foot, but the snow never seems to stray from it's particular pattern.

Editat: juny 16, 2019, 6:06am

>142 WeeTurtle:

AAARGH!!! I knew that post would rebound on me! I cogitated for ages on whether to tack a rider onto the 'Buffy' mention because I think 'Buffy' was something really special and way above the common level, but decided against it, both because it would have more cluttered an already clunky post and because it would have undercut my main argument. Unprincipled and lazy, I know.

The point on Lost Girl, Xena: Warrior Princess and Wynonna Earp is that all through them I was feeling a little dismayed and guilty that I could (and can in the case of the last one) so thoroughly enjoy something while simultaneously being quite conscious that the plotting and storyline showed every evidence of being cobbled together in some spare five minutes.

juny 16, 2019, 2:53pm

>141 alaudacorax: I wasn't even aware of Wynonna Earp before now. Saw some clips on YouTube. It looks fun. It seems to me that a lot of US shows have perfected a kind of light comedy ensemble playing style, despite being action/adventure genre shows.

juny 16, 2019, 3:41pm

I was happy with a couple of recent purchases. Firstly a remastered Blu-ray of The Blood on Satan's Claw (they're going with that title, rather than "Blood on Satan's Claw", even though (i) the story I'd read was that the definite article was added in error by the company creating the opening titles and (ii) the restored print actually bears the title "Satan's Skin"). The extras are a mixture of new features and older stuff ported over from previous DVD releases. For some reason this was a limited edition of only 4000 copies. I thought I'd missed out but found a copy (no. 3977!) online.

Jean Rollin's last film was scheduled for DVD release but was cancelled, or delayed at least. Grumpliy searching by his name on Amazon, just in case of an update or change of heart on somebody's part, I found his 52-minute TV feature from 1989, Lost in New York, advertised as available. I had seen this on YouTube (without English subtitles - actually I think, looking again,I missed that there ARE subtitles - and created by the uploader not the usual auto-generated gibberish). This film is supposed to be incredibly obscure so I was surprised at a UK DVD release. It turns out this dates from 2007. Maybe some copies were found in the back of the warehouse?

It's quite an affecting storyline. Two little girls, with the aid of an African magical statue, go adventuring in the realms of fantasy but get stranded, magically grown-up into twenty-somethings, and separated, in contemporary New York.

Actually the film starts with one of the girls as a very old woman, who never found her friend again. So there's a melancholy to the whole film rather than suspense as to how their predicament is resolved; although there is a kind of resolution. Being able to follow the dialogue, its actually more typically Rollin and less downbeat than I had supposed on my first viewing. I had assumed the girls were in an inescapable time loop; it's not that bad :)

There are two early short films - predating all his vampire films, etc - added as extras.

Kino Lorber, I learned today, have brought out Lost in New York as a bonus on their new release of Rollin's Dracula's Fiancée. Good news if you're in the US or have a multi-region player.

And a public service message (or just passing on gossip) - I read that the recent Suspiria remake isn't getting a DVD/Blu-ray release in the UK. If this is true, if we want a hard copy we'll have to get a German disc (before crashing out of the single market, I'd imagine). Another reason to be pee'd off about streaming services...

juny 16, 2019, 5:05pm

>141 alaudacorax:

I haven't seen Xena myself but I know lots of people who love it, cultishly. I say embrace your weaknesses & enjoy, Paul! We're all going to hell anyway--let's at least go merrily...

>145 housefulofpaper:

Thanks for the Rollin tip, ordered. Odd thing I noticed on the Kino Lorber site--quite a few releases are more expensive on DVD than on Blu-Ray. Argh! Is this yet another underhanded trick to get people to switch? There isn't enough time in my life to re-do everything yet again...

Speaking of streaming services, I heard that lots of shows they commission won't be getting hard copy releases at all--presumably so they can keep milking the reruns... anyone know more?

Not to mention the demise of iTunes. I can find nowhere an explanation of what will happen to existing accounts and libraries (yes, such as mine!) and guarantee that we'll keep having access. This whole "internet" thing is such a scam...

juny 16, 2019, 7:42pm

>146 LolaWalser:
I don't think I've seen it confirmed anywhere, but I had come to the conclusion that original shows like Stranger Things weren't going to get a hard copy release. But feature films that have had a theatrical release is a new one on me.

I've got an iTunes library as well, but I think most of it already exists in physical form too. Uploading it all again to a different site or a new computer would be a massively time-consuming pain though.

juny 17, 2019, 3:13am

>143 alaudacorax: Heh. It can be said that early Buffy is pretty bad. The actors are new, the budget is low, and monsters are cheap, but it does hit it's stride. There were some fascinating books that I bumped into in my uni bookstore that merged social disciplines with popular culture, like "sociology and Buffy" and the like. Neat ideas.

juny 17, 2019, 5:50am

>143 alaudacorax:, >148 WeeTurtle:

I really should have been more respectful of 'Buffy'. I've belatedly remembered it was what sparked my 'academic' interest in the Gothic genre in the first place and led directly to my joining this group. Spike and Angel prompted me to start this thread (my first ever on LT) -
- and everything else has followed on from that ...

juny 17, 2019, 6:15am

>149 alaudacorax:

Well I'm not about to hold that against you. ;). I put Buffy in with shows like Fresh Prince in that they shows are amusing and largely entertainment, but that makes the serious moments that much more hard hitting when they do appear.

Alas, I missed much of the episode where Buffy meets Dracula, except I did catch the detail about him starting in all of his own movies. ;)

juny 17, 2019, 4:23pm

Just watched yet another film based on Carmilla. It doesn't seem to have a touchstone on here, but IMDb calls it Styria ( and Amazon Prime (here in the UK) calls it Angel of Darkness. It actually stuck more closely to the novel than most such films do, though updated to Iron Curtain days Eastern Europe.

I wasn't very impressed.

I find myself getting increasingly annoyed by the overuse of really low lighting and greyish, washed-out colours in such films--this one looked depressing and grim more often than it looked creepy.

In terms of plotting it had some atmosphere and tension to it, but it just seemed confused--I thought it was going somewhere for the first two-thirds or so, but I was left not at all clear where it eventually went and not really inclined to re-watch to figure it out. I think they were trying for arty and meaningful: I could detect some feminist ideas about the evils of the partriarchy but they never got much more than lip service--I note the directors and writers were all male. In fact, I got an impression of a number of ideas floating round either not fully realised or not successfully imparted to the audience. I suppose you could say that it was deliberately 'left open to interpretation', but I'll stick with 'confused'.

Also, watching it on Prime, there were no subtitles and poor sound quality in places, so I kept missing bits of dialogue.

juny 17, 2019, 6:40pm

>147 housefulofpaper:

I've got an iTunes library as well, but I think most of it already exists in physical form too.

Uh... but does it? I think we talked about this before but I must not have understood it properly... As far as I know the downloads are temporary and they actually can pull them off your computer--that is, as long as you keep logging into iTunes--not sure what happens if you take your computer offline forever...

Stranger Things is available on DVD here, I borrowed season 1 from the library... I was thinking about some Brit stuff actually, I finally ordered Fleabag 1 from the UK because it hasn't been released here (on DVD).

I'm bingeing on some French TV for a change, sf/fantasy/horror from the 60s and the 70s:

It's variable but mostly pretty cool, and the best is amazing.

(However, as far as I know, no English subtitles, alas.)

juny 17, 2019, 9:25pm

>152 LolaWalser: I meant that the stuff in my iTunes library, in the main, consists of back-up CD rips - either CDs I've long owned, or old tape recordings I've burned to CD-R, or latterly radio programmes (when I had a functioning DVD recorder I could record onto DVD from my satellite TV box and then - with my old DVD player connected to my turntable/FM radio/ tape deck/ CD player/recorder, which blessedly also has an "aux" input - burn a CD from that DVD, then from there upload to iTunes).

There were issues with people's libraries when Apple started promoting storing in the cloud. Yes, carefully curated high quality format recordings, or rare radio sessions, disappeared from the libraries on people's own machines, to be replaced with, e.g. an MP3 of the album track. I'm going to be assiduously backing up my downloads from now on.

That French TV site is mouth-watering. A whole new world!

juny 17, 2019, 10:42pm

>153 housefulofpaper:

Oh, from other media into iTunes, I see. Yeah, no, that's not something I did, my iTunes library is just the stuff I bought there... which now I've no idea where it'll end.

The French stuff, yeah! So delicious, but so expensive, what with the postage costing almost as much... I've seen so far Fantomas--Fantomas is Helmut Berger! (dubbed...) The first episode was directed by Claude Chabrol!--and Le collectionneur de cerveaux (The collector of brains). Loved both. Fantomas is ridiculously over the top but then there's a long tradition to that sort of thing. What's always shocking is how much of a psychopathic nut this character is. (Oddly enough, so is the original Arsène Lupin...) Chabrol's eppy has a slow, dreamy pace that seems to have annoyed some viewers but that I liked.

The Brains has a fab performance by André Reybaz as the immortal Count of Saint-Germain (for some reason harvesting brains in the 20th century). Virtuoso acting that almost humbles the story. It's old-timey entertainment, the tempos are slower, the approach theatrical, lots of talk and papier-maché, no flashy editing, and action must count. So of course I love it.

ag. 1, 2019, 5:09pm

The hot weather and trying to maintain my little garden have kept me away from the TV screen for a couple of months, but my most recent Gothic viewing is the UK Blu-ray of Amicus' The House That Dripped Blood - stylish direction by Peter Duffell who aims for a classy, elegiac mood (he wanted to title the film "Death and the Maiden" but was overruled by Amicus' Max J. Rosenberg).

Well, elegiac until the final comedy segment (this is one of Amicus' "portmanteau" movies) with Jon Pertwee as a conceited horror actor (a role Vincent Price wanted!), Ingrid Pitt and Geoffrey Bayldon made up as Ernest Thesiger in Doctor Pretorius mode, to play the sinister von Hartmann.

The four tales are all based on Robert Bloch short stories - significantly different from their originals (I've only read one, but the commentary confirms this) - which appeared in the pulps between the '40s and the '60s.

The titular house was set-dressed, in part, with books owned by Milton Subotsky (one half of Amicus, the other half being Rosenberg). I could recognise the Folio Society's edition of the "Horrid Novels" listed in Northanger Abbey and - I think - their edition of the Malleus Maleficarum. There's also a collection of E.T.A. Hoffmann stories and The Monk. Peter Duffell also contributed some books, one - Lotte Eisner's The Haunted Screen featuring in the opening credits.

ag. 1, 2019, 6:18pm

>155 housefulofpaper:
If anyone's wondering how well my witchy garden was going - well not very well really. But I've successfully grown some wormwood from seed, and some heartsease, and I've got a foxglove, which is of course poisonous.

ag. 3, 2019, 4:05am

>156 housefulofpaper:

'Rappaccini Rides Again'?

ag. 3, 2019, 6:37pm

>157 alaudacorax:

The insects aren't poisoned in my garden - the only way in which it could claim to improve on Rappaccini's! It was very uplifting to see the bees in the lavender (and climbing into the foxglove flowers) today.

Editat: ag. 4, 2019, 1:57pm

In the last thread, I wrote about failing to stick with Island of Terror (1966) for more than ten minutes. Well, I just watched the whole thing.

Okay, there was a sort of cheesy fun in it. And, to be fair, last time I did catch the lead female in probably her worst ten minutes of the film. Though it would be an exaggeration to say there was any kind of role written for her. The monsters were still rubbish--but so bad they added to the fun cheesiness. And how did they get up the trees? In fact, you must resolutely NOT think about the science ...

Editat: ag. 8, 2019, 8:30pm

Recent viewing of a Gothic/Wierd nature...brief notes as it's already past midnight!

Lisa and the Devil/The House of Exorcism - So Mario Bava made a dreamy, romantic creepy thriller about Elke Sommer's character falling into a kind of time slip where she relives the last night of her lookalike in a greedily Gothic household ruled over by matriarchal Alida Valli or the sinister butler Telly Savalas (who looks like th devil in the medieval fresco on the wall of the church). Trouble is when it was shown at Cannes no one bought it, so new footage was shot to make it a Exorcist rip-off. Both versions of the film still exist and have been released on Blu-ray. Kojack's lollipop was devised as a bit of "business" for the butler in this film (or these films),incidentally.

William Castle at Columbia volume 1- four films from the producer who managed to overshadow himself by having to let Roman Polanski direct a property he had obtained, namely Rosemary's Baby, and otherwise best known for the hucksterish gimmicks used to provide his films (prop skeletons pulled over the heads of the audience, shock buzzers affixed to cinema seats, and so on):
The Tingler is an extraordinarily silly film but can boast Vincent Price, just pre-Corman's Poe series. So (let me see if I remember this) fear kills you because it manifests as a huge rubber lobster that materialises around the spine and crushes it. It cn be surgically removed and survives independently of the host body. It can roam around and kill like any 50s creature feature horror. Screaming kills it. There are some fairly cynical depictions of marriage here, all the better to fit the tingler into a junior James M Cain type murder plot.
Homicidal - can't say much without giving important plot points away. Tries to out-psycho Psycho.
13 Ghosts - this is the closest in the set to a children's film (always a key part of the target audience as US mores allowed kids to see more horror than we did in the UK). It's haunted house and the gimmick was the ghosts could be seen if you looked through red plastic but if you were too scared you could watch the film through blue plastic and they wouldn't be there. Includes a ghost lion and a headless ghost lion-tamer!
Mr Sardonicus -Castle's attempt to do period Gothic. An adaptation of Ray Russell's novella with European actors in the main roles. The costumes and especially the hair don't look quite right (oh, okay, the hairstyles are pure 1961). More sadistic than Hammer in some ways, but it somehow comes across as Uncle William Castle just having his ghoulish fun. But bear in mind he's one of John Waters favourite directors!

Howard the Duck - it's not really due a critical reappraisal. It's got such an uneven tone, trying all at once to capture the underground-comics-at-one-remove AND set in the Marvel superhero universe vibe of the '70s comics, be a family-friendly 80s blockbuster that would keep the money rolling in to Lucasfilm, and by accident or design have the cynical and often sleazy air of the comedies one associates with John Landis and/or the Saturday Night Live cast around that time or rather a few years earlier - up to and including Ghostbusters (itself filthier than people remember). The second half of the film goes deep into Lovecraftian-by-way-of-Ghostbusters territory.

Doctor Who - The Macra Terror. It's a strange and fortunate thing. A lot of classic Doctor Who was wiped so the video tape it was recorded on could be reused (there were sound commercial reasons for doing so at the time, the BBC was by no means the only organisation to do this). But miraculously ALL the soundtracks were recorded by early fans at home, on reel-t0 reel tape for the most part. And these tapes survived long enough for digital clean up technology to make them of broadcastable quality. Thank you, first generation Doctor Who fans! Also, a professional photographer had a line of business where he'd post a camera at his TV, take loads of pictures, then try to sell these "telesnaps" to directors etc. who could use some lasting record of their work. A lot of stories were sold overseas and even though not everything sold to Australia was kept, it turns out their censors were even more squeamish the the UK's and bits were snipped out of some strories before airing. These "censor clips" - couple of minutes of confused shootings, stabbings, throttling and screaming, are all the survive of moving, married-out sound and image, for some stories.

So, "The Macra Terror" from 1967. It's been recreated in two ways. New animation (fairly simple, it must be admitted don't expect Pixar or Studio Ghibli!) married to the soundtrack, and the soundtrack (with or without linking narration from the earlier audio-only CD release) matched to telesnaps which seque smoothly into the precious seconds of moving censor clip.

Great. So what's it about? On an Earth colony the superficially resembles a holiday camp - although the forced jollity comes to echo The Prisoner, which actually started later that same year - giant alien insects (the Macra) are secretly running things, working the humans to mine a deadly underground gas that the Macra need to live whilst keeping the humans docile with song, dance, subliminal messaging and narcotic gas, and security forces keen to slip the leash, "correction" in the hospital and the ultimate deterrent of a (curtailed) lifetime in the mines. The inspiration must have been the Soviet Union back then, but half a century later it's not hard to fund current real-world resonances, and closer to home. Lest this sound like a great lost companion-piece to Nineteen eighty-four, of course it's mostly a fun runaround on a small TV budget. But everything I listed is in there even if it's just sketched in with a line of dialogue.

ag. 8, 2019, 10:24pm

>160 housefulofpaper:

I love The Macra terror. I saw it first in the unrestored version online (just stills with added soundtrack) but will be making up for that concession to P&.6IR*!ACY!! by buying this. Have you seen also the new Power of the Daleks? I wish they'd make the animation more fluent, but it's not a serious obstacle to enjoyment (well, what else would a woman who watches stills to tinny dialogue say...)

ag. 8, 2019, 10:27pm

>160 housefulofpaper: I might have to check out some of these, or check some of them out again.

Is there a thing with 13 Ghosts? I haven't heard of that one. The one I know is Thir13en Ghosts with said ghosts in a haunted house contraption. Then, there's The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. Or perhaps it's a 13 thing, with the superstition around the number.

I remember watching Howard the Duck as a kid, but I remember nothing of the actual plot. Just that it was a talking duck and he was funny.

Homicidal does sound interesting, mainly because I've seen both (three?) Psychos a couple times.

ag. 8, 2019, 10:36pm

>143 alaudacorax: Older post but something I never did address, the enjoying bad movies thing. That's what we would all call a guilty pleasure I guess. Sometimes it's just something fun and it's worth indulging even though we can see that it's not necessarily something of extra merit. I'm a plot pick and gripe about writing and such, and my brother asked me once why I enjoyed Pacific Rim so much when it inordinately has some holes in place. I told him it was just the spectacle. It's fun to watch. Yeah, the plot is kind of meh, but GIANT ROBOTS! It's epitomized rather well in Honest Trailers' calling it awesome dumb robot movie!

They make good distractions from inner psychological torments.

ag. 11, 2019, 6:38pm

>162 WeeTurtle:
Thir13en Ghosts is a 2001 remake of 1960's 13 Ghosts. House on Haunted Hill (1999 remake of a 1959 film) was supposed to be the start of a whole series of William Castle remakes. I don't think the series got beyond these two films. alaudacorax drew my attention to House on Haunted Hill - the remake - as a surprisingly good traditional horror film.

I presume that the Scooby-Doo series references the Castle film, although of course the number thirteen had superstitions attaching to it long before 1960! I see that Castle used the number thirteen in another film, 1963's Thirteen Frightened Girls - not a horror film but, according to a user review on IMDb, "like Disney took a stab at making a Eurospy film".

>161 LolaWalser:
Something that struck me on watching The Macra Terror (I've previously listened to the soundtrack with linking narration and read Ian Stuart Black's novelisation (unfortunately written quite simplistically, and some two decades after his original teleplay) was how kind the colonists are - outside the Macra's influence and apart from the Security team heavies- for example the fact that ignorance of the colony's laws is a valid legal defence.

Inevitably I suppose, yes I have seen the animated Power of the Daleks and I think I'm in agreement with you about the animation - it's successful despite its limitations. Troughton's baggy check trousers seemed to have presented an especially tough challenge to the animators (!), but I was impressed with the likenesses of the nearly all the actors in the original production - they seem to have ducked the challenge of faithfully recreating Anneke Wills as Polly.

ag. 11, 2019, 7:20pm

>164 housefulofpaper:

There's a lovely earnest humanism in all the Troughton stories. I'm so chuffed about The Faceless Ones restoration too.

Editat: ag. 12, 2019, 4:44pm

I've just watched a 'Jonathan Creek Special', Daemons' Roost. Really enjoyed it.

It almost seemed to be some sort of homage to the Gothic. There was a fictitious film introduction at the start--part of the plot--that was straight out of sixties horror cinema, and the story itself was quite Radcliffean--young woman returns to childhood home where, in said childhood, mother and siblings met mysterious deaths. The home itself was once the abode of a supposed evil sorceror. All sorts of twists and red herrings. it was one of those films that could easily have been made by one of our members.

That was on Netflix, so I'm going to look for another to see me through till bed time.

ETA - The setting was splendidly Gothic, too--a sinister-looking country house complete with ruined church to one side.

ag. 13, 2019, 5:22am

>166 alaudacorax:

A minor irritation, I know, but gives the filming location as Hunterston House, Ayrshire, Scotland but the only proper view we get of the exterior, towards the beginning, doesn't seem to be the same place. I'd been thinking it was just the kind of place I'd like to buy if I ever won one of those massive lottery jackpots ...

Editat: ag. 16, 2019, 8:07am

I watched Blood of the Tribades last night—a surreal experience. I was vaguely aware of it and I thought from this group, but I’ve just done a search and it seems that isn’t so. Anyway, I was browsing for something to watch over supper (actually with the search-term ‘monster movies’) and this showed up, “Lesbian vampires? Yeah, that’ll do”. Lots of full-frontal nudity, both male and female, but there was nothing like as much sex as you might think, and lots of blood, but not in the places you might think. It’s not exploitative—I think the makers genuinely believed in what they were doing.

It’s about a village of vampires—I don’t think there are any characters who aren’t vampires—where the sexes have become really estranged from each other.

First thing to say is that it looked very good with rather pleasing settings and photography. I felt I had to get that in because the acting and the business were lousy; the film was really, really amateurish. Here’s where things get difficult—I didn’t matter! I’m really struggling for words, here, but it was almost as if the thing was something other than a film. You’d probably have to shoe-horn it into the term ‘art film’ but the terms ‘performance art’, ‘dissertation’ or ‘poem’ come to mind, though they don’t really fit it either. ‘Dissertation’, because I think the makers had something to say—criticisms of religion, the partriarchy? You could almost look at the bad acting as not bad but extremely stylised*. Almost …

Actually, I’m going to give up trying to describe it—I’m failing, here.

I think the makers have seen some Jean Rollin and, in fact, I was quite surprised on looking it up later to find it was an American film—I’d thought it was either French or British.

There were Gothic memes feeding into it, and I found it intriguing, so I felt it was worth making this post ...

Actually, I’ve just thought of a good term for it—it’s a ‘curiosity’—that’s the best way I can describe it, I think. I must, in honesty, say that anyone taking this post as a recommendation may well decide the film is rubbish, but they might—just possibly—think of it as an interesting curiosity.

I think you’ll have guessed from the above that it’s left me rather bemused.

* ... or even as satirical ...

ag. 16, 2019, 12:26pm

I like the sound of "village of vampires" but the rest sounds iffy enough to leave finding it to chance... On the viewing side, I'm busy going though bunches of not-Gothic cinema but I did take in one of Jess Franco's delirious concoctions, The rites of Frankenstein, 1973. Franco himself plays the "Igor" character, here called Morpho. There is a castle, there is a villain called Cagliostro, there are extremely odd creatures, none odder than a partly feathered (or maybe ivied?) blind nude girl vampire, and the monster is covered in silver paint. I liked it!

Editat: ag. 16, 2019, 4:15pm

>163 WeeTurtle: I watch my dvds of Pacific Rim's military oeuvre and boxing metal men in Real Steel with Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly directed by Levy often, when needing a non-challenging reprieve. They both manage to make me cry every time. Del Toro likes to work in Hamilton and Toronto and creates a world I can enjoy, knowing nothing of Asian 'mythic creatures'. Delighted one of my three sons studies robotics at school, and one is a private in Cdn.Forces. You never know!

ag. 19, 2019, 5:34am

>163 WeeTurtle:, >170 frahealee:

Decided to have a 'monster night' last night. Watched Pacific Rim and I get exactly what you mean. It made no sense at all ... but it was sort of fun.

I watched Species II--I remember quite liking Species when I saw it. It must have been pretty poor because I'd seen it before and had forgotten, but it really made me cringe that the opening sequence was set on Mars ... and they had instant communication with Houston? I watched it till the end and then wondered why I'd bothered watching to the end ...

Editat: ag. 19, 2019, 7:40am

>171 alaudacorax: I'm not sure why that image makes me so happy! =D The fact that WeeTurtle is 3hrs behind me and you are 4 or 5hrs ahead of me with time zones, and yet we can all settle in to watch raucous robots save the world. It makes the expanse of the earth and beyond feel a bit less daunting.

Editat: ag. 25, 2019, 5:00am


Del Toro also has a book for The Shape of Water that I'm curious to check out. Didn't see the actual film.

ag. 25, 2019, 5:13am

>173 WeeTurtle:

Thanks for reminding me about The Shape of Water. An interesting premise and I've meant to hunt it up, but I forgot all about it. Must start keeping a list of these things ...

Just checked and it has 8.2 stars on IMDb and a critics' 92% on rottentomatoes, so, should be worth a watch ...

ag. 25, 2019, 12:08pm

>123 housefulofpaper:

I was rereading this thread and realised I'd left this hanging...

Mark Valentine had an article in the Ghosts and Scholars newsletter in 2016, which was reprinted in his collection of essays A Country Still All Mystery, in which he ponders whether the Muggletonians (a non-conformist sect dating from the religious turmoil of the 17th century, and active into the last century - its last adherent, according to Wikipedia, dying in 1979) could have influenced the plot of M. R. James' "Casting the Runes".

Because, one of their practices was to curse their enemies "that they might soon perish and be condemned to eternity in Hell (which the sect envisaged as Earth after the sun, moon and stars had been extinguished)" (from Valentine's essay).

Valentine briefly opens a window on further, possibly deeper, connections between non-conformism and the Occult - alchemy and antinomianism "often went hand in hand" - when he has a couple of paragraphs on Blown by the Spirit: Puritanism and the Emergence of an Antinomian Underground in Pre-Civil War England by David R. Como.

M. R. James would have been aware of this mixing of religion and magic, I'm sure.

ag. 26, 2019, 4:28am

>175 housefulofpaper:

You sparked off a rather convoluted train of thought in me.

I didn't know what 'antinomianism' meant and started reading about it, following links to links, and ending up at the 'Antinomian Controversy' in the 17thC Massachusetts Bay Colony. Then I began to wonder if it had any bearing on Nathaniel Hawthorne's work--tempted to go back to our reading group reads, Young Goodman Brown and The Minister's Black Veil to see. I'll bet he was well-versed in this stuff. Then I realised that I've subconsciously been avoiding Hawthorne as a 'difficult' author--and this kind of stuff is exactly why!

Then I realised I'm about a decade behind in my reading ...

ag. 26, 2019, 5:44pm

>176 alaudacorax:

I can't claim to have gone very far into the subject. Ok, I haven't even scratched the surface, but it's enough to show how much you can miss when you don't share (or know about) the writer's unspoken assumptions.

ag. 26, 2019, 6:29pm

Right. Hellboy (2019). The reboot. The not- del Toro one. The not Ron Perlman one. I've seen it on Blu-ray. It got absolutely brutal reviews. Did I think it was awful?

No, I enjoyed it, but with quite a few reservations, and with regret that it wasn't a better film (just leaving in the deleted scenes - available as extra features on the disc - would have improved it a lot, in my opinion).

So, to provide some background: Mike Mignola created the character in the early '90s. He's was a baby demon summoned to Earth by Nazi occultists in a botched magical ceremony during WWII. The allies spare his life and he grows up under the care of Professor Bruttenholm (pronounced "Broom" - by the way is this a real surname? For years I'd assumed Mignola had invented it since it seemed a bit "off" for an English surname even if intended to poke fun at names like "Cholmondeley" but then I spotted it in the film version of The List of Adrian Messenger, so.. but I'm digressing...) - growing up to become super-powered paranormal investigator alongside a sort of part X-Files part Avengers (but US military-backed) outfit called the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) . And then it's a rollicking, fun-filled celebration of Weird Tales Yog-Sothery and Jack Kirby-era comic punch ups. Except the narrative got darker as the series progressed (it doesn't really progress - Mignola was producing little short-run series that got collected up into discrete volumes, actually killing Hellboy about halfway through so his spirit or unkillable demon essence or whatever (I'm vague on the details, sorry) could explore other realms while the BPRD had a regular monthly series (written and drawn by others) that handled the world-building and larger chronology and got as grim as The Walking Dead, the last time I read a volume.

The del Toro films drew massively on this of course, but selected characters, plot lines, and set pieces at will, and combined them with del Toro's favourite themes to give a more Romantic spin on the tale being told. Some fans dislike this (and I have to confess I prefer the first film as having more Mignola and less del Toro immediately post Pan's Labyrinth).

But that's fair enough because Mignola had stated something to the effect that each version of Hellboy in different media is its own discrete iteration with its own artistic integrity - so the comics, the novels and short stories, the del Toro films, the couple of cartoons, all in their own universes. And so too, this new film directed by Neil Marshall. Which isn't a sequel to the earlier films and isn't a remake but like the Spider-man films of this century, is a reboot that goes over old ground (origin, characters and their motives, storyline) but tries to change things a bit.

It would be interesting to know what someone coming to this film cold thinks about it (ok, the appalling reviews and ratings probably give an idea...), because I thought the narrative would be choppy, disjointed and confusing if I didn't already know the story (or the story elements - they've been cherry-picked from the comics far more cavalierly than del Toro did). The big emotional driver - would the general public's fear of Hellboy drive him to side with the monsters - was also a big plot driver in Hellboy 2 11 years ago. This blunted the new films emotional wallop, for me, but I wasn't able to assess it fairly, knowing the earlier film. And in general a big character arc that Hellboy 2 barely hinted at gets sprinted through in a couple of hours seems to clear the way for a series of "Weird Tales Yog-Sothery and Jack Kirby-era comic punch ups" in the sequels that now, surely, will never happen.

posting this now before I lose it, will say more...

ag. 26, 2019, 7:55pm

Hellboy - continued...

Actually it's not just a major story arc for the character that gets casually thrown away. There is some gorgeous production design (bad news for the UK film industry, by the way - the film was nearly all shot in Bulgaria) but it's only really noticeable in the "making of" extras - everything is just "whooshed" through at breakneck speed.

There's something strange about David Harbour's Hellboy costume. Technically I think it's more sophisticated than Ron Perlman's and the face looks fine (I think) in close up, but in medium and long shot something about the mask and Harbour's own bone structure, I can only suppose, work to give prominence only to the eyeholes and the mouth in such a way that - and it took me a while to realise this - it looks like the ghostface mask from Scream, painted red. And that's unfortunate. I can't fault the performance or Harbour'd physicality in the role. It's just this thing with the face.

There is a lot of gore in this film but it's - for me anyway - rather uninvolving. And I think its because it breaks down into- serious injuries to supernatural entities who don't die of them - mutilated corpses discovered by the authorities (seen worse on Silent Witness) - really horrible stuff but done to obvious CGI-people in the big special effects finale. You might feel differently.

The gore is an indicator of the tone of the film. They're going for "gritty" and in fact set up their stall right from the off with a voiceover by Ian McShane (a very different Professor Bruttenholm from the late John Hurt's version) over a fifth century battlefield, the time is "known as the Dark Ages, and for f*cking good reason”, we're presented with the Arthurian prologue that sets up all the action and I for one was deeply concerned that this was going to be a "Lock Stock" version of Hellboy.

Thankfully we don't get that, quite, but a strain of curiously stilted '90s era trying-to-be-tough-and-street attitude keeps recurring. The story's set in England. Did the (American) writer look to things like Urban Gothic and the semi-professional videos that emerged from doctor Who fandom in the '90s (obscure references, I know. Sorry!) for reference?

There is a scouse pig demon voiced by Stephen Graham, though. That redeems a lot! And Thomas Haden Church is perfect as Lobster Johnson/The Lobster (a character modelled on the (pre-Super Hero) pulp and radio drama masked heroes like The Shadow, and who appears in a flashback sequence).

The deleted scenes though, show what the film could have been with some small tweaks. The prologue plays without narration and gives a different take on the events that kick everything off. Importantly they establish some shades of grey (to say the least) in the antagonist's character and set up parallels between her and Hellboy that I've only just realised would have been there and added so much more depth to both of them. Similarly, a scene with her and the pig demon reflecting on what humans have done to the Earth before they face off to some policemen in a supermarket carpark, is the kind of scene that Doctor Who (usually) does so well and lifts the whole story.

So, to sum up, although it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected from its critical reception it could have been better, indeed probably was better in a previous edit! And I still don't know if anybody who didn't know Hellboy from Adam, would be able to follow the story.

ag. 27, 2019, 11:21pm

>178 housefulofpaper:, >179 housefulofpaper:

I think I'll give this one a miss. I vaguely remember seeing the Del Toro Hellboy and I see that I gave it six stars on IMDb, but, try as I might, I can remember nothing about it--which suggests I overrated it at the time. So I don't think I'll bother with something much lower rated by the critics.

Going back to Del Toro, I was about to say I'm not a fan--I must be one of the few to find Pan's Labyrinth nearly unwatchable, but I've just been checking his IMDb pages and find he made Mimic, which I watched and gave only five IMDb stars to quite a long time back, but which I can--at least vaguely--remember and that as being at least somewhat entertaining. And, of course, I mentioned up above, somewhere, enjoying Pacific Rim, though I suspect that before too long I won't remember any more about that than I do about Hellboy. On balance, though, not a fan, if only because my strongest memory of him is resentment at having shelled out money for a copy of Pan's Labyrinth.

I've just realised that when thinking of these films the picture of the director I've had in my mind is quite wrong. I'd been seeing Benicio Del Toro in the director's chair--no relation, apparently. Which reminds me of something else forgotten: I was watching the latter and Anthony Hopkins in The Wolfman not too long ago but was too sleepy to stick with it--I must hunt it up again. It seemed to be some sort of remake of the old Lon Chaney Junior film.

ag. 28, 2019, 3:05pm

>180 alaudacorax:
Perhaps I should add that I've also got a soft spot for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen so perhaps my critical judgements (or my taste!) should be treated with a degree of scepticism for this genre of film...

Yes, The Wolfman is a remake of the one with Lon Chaney Jr (and Claude Rains - the remake retains the unlikely father/son casting!). I've a feeling it was going to be retrospectively included in the "Dark Universe" franchise that abruptly ended with Tom Cruise's Mummy remake.

ag. 29, 2019, 2:45pm

I finally got round to watching Clark Ashton Smith: The Emperor of Dreams.

Quite absorbing. I definitely need to watch it again as it was quite a densely-packed experience. My mind is teeming at the moment, but I haven't made shape of it all to write something worthwhile.

Just a random point: I had no idea CAS's sculpture was so powerful--not the impression I'd previously got. Of the pieces featured in the film, any one could have featured as a centre piece for a story by Lovecraft, Poe, Smith himself ...

And they've got me, now, really feeling the need to explore his poetry.

One small point, and possibly nit-picking, but it seems very unusual in this day and age to have such a completely male project. I might, just, believe it if told Lovecraft has no female fans, but not of CAS, surely?

ag. 30, 2019, 3:42pm

>182 alaudacorax:
It's infuriating...I can't play my Blu-Ray. It played on a friend's machine (well, it brought up the contents page/screen - it's not a subject they have any patience with!)

I'm going to have to try a firmware update...I will report back (with good news, I hope)

ag. 30, 2019, 4:42pm

>183 housefulofpaper:

The wonders of modern science ...

set. 2, 2019, 9:08pm

My beautiful horrible stupendously guignol grotesque French fantasy collection is IN!

It took forever for everything to arrive as an earlier huge packet was LOST and I had to reorder-but finally it's all here and logged. (I have about a dozen similar items on the wishlist still but may wait until my trip next year.)

Starting with... Les Compagnons de Baal

A secret society bent on world domination--and with a murky past in Nazism! Kidnappings, hypnotic possession, murders, meetings in disguise in catacombs, oddly futuristic tech in caves, transvestism...

Secret password exchange: (sepulchral tones) Q. Who is the first of the kings? A. The first of the kings is Baal, the three-headed demon who rules in the eastern part of Hell Q. How many legions does he command? A. 66


set. 3, 2019, 9:34pm

>185 LolaWalser:
I wish I could read/understand French...Duolingo says I know 170 words now (but no grammar!)

The clips on the website you linked to look wonderfully evocative. Not least because they seem half-familiar. Everything in your list of delights, I'm sure, turned up in The Avengers (in it's Steed-and-Mrs Peel pomp). But the feel of it, I presume, is all very different.

set. 3, 2019, 10:12pm

>186 housefulofpaper:

Hey, I'm on Duolingo too! If you want a buddy to poke at you in case of procrastination, follow me! San196926

Some of those DVDs (and possibly all? not sure, wasn't noticing that particularly) have at least French captions for the deaf, but in general, I'd say just jump right in if you have any interest in learning French--or indeed this stuff.

Baal has the most wonderful village scenery, and Paris bistrots, and the faces on people are so AMAZING, nothing like today... as for the plot, it's all Tintin and adventure amped to the max. Heh--looking around for best pics I came across some site called "Tintin Macabre"--perfect.

By the way, I was exclaiming over the Nazi connection not because I find Nazis entertaining but because it totally surprised me that they would acknowledge such a thing--that there were Frenchmen who fell for Hitler in a big way too. I guess it's not for nothing that the producer/director was the brother of Jacques Prévert.

And as it happens I am just reading about the various flavours of French conservatives who thrived in the Vichy era, including some far-out sects (the term fits) of ultra-Catholic-X-occult types, so it's all synchronising most spookily.

set. 3, 2019, 11:48pm

Duolingo 3! Though it's been a while, and I think I'm only two exercises into French.

set. 4, 2019, 11:43am

I'm doing the Scandi languages but I get distracted with Turkish and Hungarian...

I remembered there's at least one of those Ina editions that have been released to the Anglo world with subtitles

The distributor, Mhz Networks Home, seems to specialise in Euro crime series. Not sure if they cover the UK, and their discs are Region 1-specific.

Slightly irritatingly, the picture quality was better on this American subtitled issue (which I had borrowed from the library) than on the French set I bought! How is that even possible!

set. 5, 2019, 6:26am

>155 housefulofpaper:

Watched The House that Dripped Blood last night.

Why the hell did Duffell want to call it 'Death and the Maiden'? I don't see the connection--unless I'm missing something.

You missed a book, Andrew. I was amused to see, where Christopher Lee was interrrupted as he was sitting and reading, it was a paperback edition of his beloved Lord of the Rings (for those who haven't seen the film, he was playing one of his uptight, humourless, stiffly correct characters).

Loved Jon Pertwee's character's comment, in the segment immediately after Christopher Lee's, when he was ranting about how much better horror films were in the old days, citing 'Dracula'--"Lugosi, of course, not this new fellah"!

I loved the house. This was a problem. The thing is, I wasn't loving it as a creepy horror setting, I loved it as a nice place to own and live in. If I was to win the lottery or such, I'd be looking for a place like that. In fact, it looked like a rather nice country pub--I'm sure one shot showed the bracket where the sign would have been.

What did I think of it? Being objective, it was a pretty poor film--and yet I thoroughly enjoyed it. All four stories were weak and perfunctory and the linking story of the house failed to bind them together. Denholm Elliott and Peter Cushing were really good in their segments, as they always were, but the make-up on the 'maniac' haunting the former was laughable. Literally--he looked like a character in a comedy sketch. The latter piece's waxworks looked quite unconvincing. Christopher Lee's bit was probably the best as a straight horror, but, again, such a slight plot, and I think he was a bit miscast--too imposing and forceful a presence. Denholm Elliot would have been brilliant in the role, but Joss Ackland would have been pretty good, too, and he and Lee could usefully have swapped places. Jon Pertwee's bit was mildly amusing, but it really wasn't a lot more than a sketch in some old comedy show and his performance at the end was laughably bad rather properly funny. The whole thing had the air of something they knocked-up when they all had a few days to spare. But, the whole thing was redolent of all the old British horror film and TV I grew up on--had me on a nostalgia trip and I couldn't help enjoying it--and it looked good ... and I did love that house ...

Only meant to write a few lines. Got carried away.

set. 5, 2019, 6:49am

>190 alaudacorax:

Thinking over that last post brought home to me that Christopher Lee must have been damnably difficult to cast. I've no great opinion of him as an actor, but were he the best in the world there must still have been a pretty limited range of decent roles he could have undertaken. He was such a powerful and imposing, and dark, screen presence.

set. 5, 2019, 7:38am

>191 alaudacorax:

Found this on Lee's IMDb entry and it amused me:

In his autobiography, he relates his first meeting with Peter Cushing during production of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), in which he played the monster. Lee stormed into a dressing room where Cushing was sitting and angrily shouted "I haven't got any lines!". Cushing replied, "You're lucky; I've read the script.".

set. 6, 2019, 6:56pm

>190 alaudacorax:

Why did the director, Peter Duffell, want to call the film 'Death and the Maiden'?
I think it's on the commentary track (which was recorded around 2002, I believe - Duffell gently quizzed by Jonathan Rigby, fresh from writing English Gothic). Loosely, a "maiden" is the cause of the protagonist's with in each segment - the unfaithful wife, the memory of the lost love, the sinister little girl, the vamp(ire).

They point out that copy of The Lord of the Rings in the commentary, and I wasn't about to claim that I'd spotted it! Rather wonderfully, they reveal that it was Lee's own copy (there's a volume by Robert Bloch in there somewhere too, apparently, but i didn't see it. He wrote the original stories and the film script).

rigby (who is an actor as well as a writer and can bring a professional eye to these things) is quite complimentary of Lee here, especially his non-verbal acting, mime, I suppose, his ability to show physical pain. And he thought that he was successfully conveying the fact that he was terrified of the little girl. And it's arguably more incongruous and creepy to have Lee in the role, rather than the much more nervy Denholm Elliot.

Apparently the final section had been filmed as a pastiche of German Expressionist cinema. I don't know how successful it would have been, but producer Max J Rosenberg thought it was a step too far and insisted on re-editing and shortening it.

Yes, I ended up coveting the house too!

set. 6, 2019, 7:22pm

>187 LolaWalser:

I didn't mean to ignore this very kind offer! I will - I promise - get back to my lessons as soon as this cold has cleared up and I can speak in any language the computer will understand! And I also need to understand the site a lot better, re. buddies and so forth.

set. 6, 2019, 11:55pm

>193 housefulofpaper:

Interesting, that German Expressionist bit. Can't say I picked up anything of it, but I'd love to have seen the original version. But really, though--Pertwee even crosses his eyes when he's in full vampire mode and flying into the attack--too 'kiddies' comic strip' by far!

I can quite see why Rosenburg overruled 'Death and the Maiden'. An unfaithful wife is, by definition, not a maiden and it would be rather a stretch to apply the word to Ingrid Pitt's character, too.

Perhaps I'm being over-picky on the Christopher Lee segment (I did think it the best of the four), but he didn't give me the impression of a chap unable to sort out the odd problematic witch in the family; I just couldn't fully buy the vulnerability.

set. 7, 2019, 1:07pm

>194 housefulofpaper:

There's nothing to it--the people you follow show up in a "leaderboard" box along with your own stats so you see who's leading or trailing you for the week, month or total points. There is no messaging capability. Works best if you have a competitive streak...

But this is a useful link, if you don't know about it already: HANDLE HERE/progress (type https:// before duome)

It breaks down all your stats and notes progress on individual lessons etc.

I broke my "no zombies" rule and took in Train to Busan. Liked it a lot. The last part transcended the gore-fest for a really moving story of loss. Nothing "Hollywood" about the Koreans...

set. 8, 2019, 5:05am

>196 LolaWalser:

Just a random thought that occurred to me when I was wasting time browsing YouTube clips yesterday: Game of Thrones, the ultimate zombie show?

Editat: set. 8, 2019, 12:04pm

>197 alaudacorax:

Heh, is it?! I only saw season 1, no idea what happens after that... please elaborate.

By the way, Paul, did you get to see The magician after all (Rex Ingram's, 1926)?

set. 8, 2019, 1:13pm

>198 LolaWalser:

It becomes in later seasons all about defeating the 'Night King' and his armies of the dead. They are dead and in various stages of decomposition, but he can raise them up and get them fighting for him.

Damn! I quite forgot about that. I have the DVD here, probably still wrapped in cellophane. Watch this space, or whatever ...

set. 8, 2019, 11:23pm

Gladly! But it's time to continue the thread... let's displace the space...

set. 10, 2019, 3:33am

>189 LolaWalser: I studied Swedish in uni. Now I use Duolingo to keep it up.

set. 10, 2019, 2:15pm

Cool! How did you come to pick Swedish?

set. 15, 2019, 3:38am

>202 LolaWalser: By fluke. I don't have enough French instruction to cover my language requirement for University, and the only senior level languages were Swedish and Danish. I would have taken Danish since my grandmother was a Dane, but that was earlier in the morning than I was prepared to put up with. ;). I might pick it up later. It's not as close to Swedish as Norwegian is, apparently a little closer to German sounding.
En/na Gothic Films - episode six ha continuat aquest tema.