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Wes Craven

Posted: August 31, 2015 in film
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wes craven

RIP

   and Thank you

Wes Craven-  August 2, 1939- August 30, 2015

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Originally published on my former blog: Gypsyscarlett Weblog on April 30, 2012

Released in 1966 by Mario Bava, Kill, Baby, Kill, is a fantastic horror set in a Carpathian village.  Despite its ridiculous American title (the original being, Operazione paura) which conjures images of a c-grade slasher, the film is a surprising mix of an old-fashioned ghost story with dashes of surrealism. The film begins as a woman leaps to her death onto a spiked fence.  Then a child’s mocking laughter is heard as the opening credits roll. An outsider, Dr. Paul Eswai, is summoned to perform the autopsy.  He quickly befriends a young nurse, Monica Shuftan, who only recently arrived at the village, herself.   She reveals having been born there, but sent away when orphaned at two years.  “I came to visit my parents’ graves,” she tells him. Image
The two quickly learn that the villagers fear a ghost child named Melissa.   Legend goes that anyone who sees the malevolent spirit will kill themselves Image
The scientifically-minded doctor scoffs at the notion of a curse, while the more emotional, but sensible Monica realizes that science can’t explain the odd deaths which have plagued the village for twenty years. Along with the pile of bodies all found with coins in their hearts, is the mysterious presence of the black-robed Ruth.

kill baby kill ruth

     When a teen-aged girl claims to have seen the ghost, her petrified mother cries for her husband to seek help from the witch.  But when he opens the door to do so, she is already standing at the threshold.   “We know when someone is in harm’s way.”
When Paul arrives, he is aghast to witness what he considers Ruth’s arcane healing methods.  And further, he ignores her warnings to leave the village.   Instead, he continues to search for rational answers and save the ailing Nadienne. Meanwhile, Monica is plagued by a doll-filled nightmare that suggests there’s more to her past in connection with the village than even she is aware.. As the plot deepens, Monica, Paul, and Ruth find their way to the home of the Baroness Graps, the reclusive mother of the ghost child.  Two are seeking the truth.  One, is looking for retribution. Image Not as well known as Bava’s sublime, Black Sunday, this film is every bit as worth a view.   Interesting camera angles and dazzling colors create a highly atmospheric mood.   An intelligent script converts some of the genre’s even by then tired clichés.   Giacomo Rossi-Stuart displays solid acting as Paul, though he lacks the charisma necessary to elevate the role from merely the “good guy”. It is the women of this film that the camera loves.  Erika Blanc is effective as Monica, and even drab clothes can’t hide her charms.  The haunting Fabienne Dali (Ruth) steals every scene she’s in.  And of course, there’s always Melissa and her devoted mother…

Six of Cups

Bohemian Gothic Tarot Six of Cups

Nostalgia.  Fond memories of childhood.  Connecting the past to the present.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Innocence.  Happy memories, especially of childhood.   Indulging in simple, childlike pleasures.  Losing yourself in nostalgia and regrets.  Hiding some ulterior motive under an apparently sweet and naive act.”

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Simone Simon and Amy Reed in Curse of the Cat People

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Six of Swords:  Remaining serene through troubled waters.  Changes and travel.  Nightmares of the dream and physical realm.   Not being able to escape your problems.  Trying to run away.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Getting through a hard time calmly and quietly.  Making a profound change in your life, one that will take some time.  Feeling ‘dead’ to the world.  A period of mourning for a loss.”

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Scene from Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

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Pride in achievements.  Self-confidence.  Valor and bravery through tasks.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “A hard-won and worthy victory.  Taking a moment to bask in the glory.  A sense of personal achievement.  A victory won at the expense of others.  Letting a triumph go to your head, becoming dictatorial and over-confident.”

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Willemijn Verkaik as Elphaba in Wicked: Die Hexen von Oz

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Six of Pentacles:  Charity.  Helping others in need.  Receiving aid. Financial difficulties.  Monetary and material loss. Making a bargain you may not want to keep.  Making a dangerous pact. 

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Charity.  Helping someone in a practical way.  Generosity.  ‘Charity’ with strings attached.  Getting control over someone with your financial support.  A caring act that is in fact hypocritical and self serving.”

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Scene from Fritz Lang’s Der Müde Tod

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Five of Swords:

Looking out for yourself at perhaps a cost.  Going all out for the win.  Fights.  Conflicts.  Disgrace after winning, or having thought you got the upperhand.  Fooling yourself.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Feeling victorious at the expense of another.  A defeat.  An unlikely struggle, the outcome might surprise you.  The thrill of something wild and dangerous.  A victim of abuse or violence who ‘bites’ back.” all-about-eve

“Nice speech, Eve. But I wouldn’t worry too much about your heart. You can always put that award where your heart ought to be.” Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve

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Five of Cups:

Contemplation.  Mourning.  Regrets.  Living in the past.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Seeing only what is lost, not what’s left intact. Wallowing in melancholy.  Becoming morbidly inward-looking and withdrawn.”

Portrait of Jenny

from the film, Portrait of Jenny

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Five of Wands:

Facing one’s ghosts.  Having to make a difficult decision.  Taking things too seriously.  Forgetting how to have fun.  Concentrating on the wrong things. Coldness.  Unwilling, or unable to grow emotionally.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Hassles.  Petty annoyances.  Getting drawn into pointless battles.  Battling against inner demons.”

TheBlackCat  0031 tubular arm chair & eileen gray-esque table

Lugosi and Karloff in The Black Cat

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Five of Pentacles:

Needing to ask for help.  Loss of faith.  Financial difficulties.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Falling on hard times.  Failing to ask for practical help even though it’s available.  Your arrogance and pride prevent you from asking for help.  Getting your priorities wrong at a difficult time.  Focusing on revenge instead of a solution.” fingersmith

Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith

Season two. Episode 5

A close-up of Vanessa’s eye.  The camera pans out to showcase the profile of the doll made in her image.

Surrounded by her lifelike puppets, their faces aglow from candlelight, Mrs. Poole  nails something into the forehead of her latest (Malcolm’s wife) while chanting in the demonic tongue.

“Mother.” Hecate enters.  “Her hair.”

Mrs. Poole reaches to take the strands which Hecate has snatched from Vanessa.

“May I?” Hecate raises her chin, and her mother nods in amused pride.

The younger witch  saunters over to the doll of Vanessa, while Mrs. Poole returns to her own task.   Together, they intone over their respective works.

The chanting rises.

Gladys Murray bolts awake, screaming.

penny dreadful above the vaulted sky

Back at the manor, Ethan, Vanessa, Sir Malcolm, Ferdinand Lyle, and Sembene are gathered in the drawing room.  Realizing they know what their enemy wants, but not why, they agree to work every weapon, every superstition, every ritual to ward off the nightwalkers.

To a melodic score, the group begins to prepare the house against attack.

A witch appears in the mirror before Lyle.  He throws a black crepe over the glass.

Vanessa prays in her room, alone, until two other witches gather at her sides.   Feeling their presence, she runs to Ethan but then confesses to not being sure if they’d been real or just in her head.

“I wish I were going mad.  Then they could lock me away and cut out the madness.  Do you know the true path to freedom?  Open any vein.”

When Ethan insists she wouldn’t do that, she agrees bitterly that God has a plan.  Perhaps even to why Ethan has killed in the past.

“Whatever you’ve done,” she takes his hand. “I accept you.  We are together for a reason.”

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 5). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_205_1753

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 5). – Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: PennyDreadful_205_1753

Back at the loft, Frankenstein argues once again with his Monster.

“Enough.” John slams his hands down on the work table.  “I have lived with your evasions too long.  Don’t think I can’t look into your black heart and see the machinations laid bare!”

After the good ol’ Doctor tells him to get lost, Clare grabs him by the collar.  “Then you had a power, Frankenstein.  If you had only used it kindly, what a different story we would be telling…I will see her.”

Indeed, he goes upstairs to where Lily was busy reading.  As Frankenstein sits on the stairs, listening, John Clare tries to woo the reluctant woman.

“Ours is an exceptional history,” he tries, and there is a pitiful sadness as he recounts a false history.

“Let us start by being friends,” Lily offers.  “I can do no other.”

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During this long night, Gladys Murray continues to struggle, foam now forming at the corners of her mouth, while servants pin down her arms.  Elsewhere, Mrs Poole continues working upon her eerie doll, fresh blood running down its face.

Morning finally comes.

As Chandler makes his way down a busy London street, he is accosted by Inspector Rusk.  “Scotland Yard.  I’d like a few words if I may.”

Meanwhile, Frankenstein takes Lily out to dine where they come upon Vanessa.  Unfortunately, there is not even a flicker of recognition as Miss Ives greets the transformed woman.

lily and vanessa

Back at his office, the Inspector zooms in on the fact that Ethan had lived at the Mariner’s Inn. “There were many murders.  All guests have been accounted for.  Except for one Brona Croft, and one…Ethan Chandler.” The troubles started when Ethan arrived with his show, the Inspector notes.

“You’re a mystery.” And he wants to know Ethan’s real name…

#

While volunteering once more in the village struck by cholera, Vanessa again runs into John Clare.  “Do you know you share the name of a dead poet?”

“Yes.” He chuckles.  “Do you like poetry?”

“All sad people like poetry.  Happy people like songs,” Vanessa smiles ruefuly through one of the show’s most beautiful and elegiac lines.

“I’ve always been drawn to John Clare’s story,” he continues.  “He was only five feet tall.  Sort of freakish.  Perhaps due to this, he felt  a singular affinity with the outcasts and the unloved…the broken…” And the two continue to bond over the haunting lines of I Am.

“And how are we to navigate the waters when they are so alien?” He asks at one point.

“The sea is waiting for you.” She later offers her hand for a dance.  “Set sail.”

penny dreadful john and vanesssa

Dorian Gray paints the town with Angelique until they run into someone she stole money from in the past, and Sir Malcolm enjoys more time with Mrs Poole.

“I can honestly say I’ve never met a woman like you.”

“You have no idea.”

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“What’s damning you tonight?” Ethan teases Ferdinand back at the manor.

The older man sweeps his hand over the relics spread across the table.  “Here it is in Greek.  And in Latin.”

Lapus Dei,” Ethan reads. “The Hound of God.”

“I can’t endure dangling repetitions.  It’s like a poem waiting to be rhymed.”

#

Angelique comes to Gray in her masculine clothes, and recounts the years of pain she has suffered.

“Do you think I don’t understand what it is to feel different?”

“I think I’m tired, Dorian.  I’ve been fighting so long.”

“But you’re not fighting alone.”

Soon they are in each other’s arms as are Sir Malcolm and Mrs. Poole, and Chandler and Vanessa.

Gladys Poole awakens, grasping.  In her room are two headstones.  Upon them, the names of her children.

Hands reach out from below the floor.

Her children rise from out of the dirt.

Come.  They offer.

All goes silent in her room.

Thunder, however, pounds in Lily’s, and she runs to Victor for comfort…

#

An interesting contrast can be seen between John Clare and Angelique.  Both have suffered immeasurable pains due to physical masks.  But one wallows in that pain, while the other strives to enjoy life nonetheless.

During the first season, my only real complaint was the lack of emotion.  Everything looked and sounded great, but there was a disconnect with the characters. All that has changed this season. The relationship between Gray and Angelique is the most touching in a long time.  John Clare might annoy me, but he makes me care, and I’m rooting for him to grow as a person.

Also during season one, I felt averse against what I figured was the inevitable romantic pairing of Ethan and Vanessa.  Not a fan of these two must be together for no other reason than because they are the leads- a weak plot device used on too many programs  However, as tonight Josh Harnett and Eva Green sizzled together, I am  warming to the idea of them.

Ethan’s cowboyisms, Vanessa’s craftiness, Brona back from the dead, Frankenstein vs his creation, Gray and Angelique, Malcolm and Mrs Poole, the witches…am loving this season.

Til next time.

“And then?”
“They burnt her alive.” The fourth episode of the sophmore season begins as Vanessa finishes the tale she began in last week’s, The Nightcomers. However, now Dr.Frankenstein, Sembene, Ferdinand Lyle, and Sir Malcolm have joined the previous solo-audience of Ethan.
“We have to find out what these things are,” Ethan not-so-sagely concludes.
“Yes. They’re witches. Understood,” Dr. Frankenstein interrupts. Since Penny Dreadful may be accused of taking itself a bit too seriously from time to time, this moment of very subtle, natural humor was much appreciated.

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“Witchcraft has a long history in many cultures, Doctor,” the dandyish Ferdinand Lyle puts in, making one wonder if he is trying to throw them a hint, as he can’t be pleased being under the control of Miss Poole.

As the group gathers around the table to continue trying to put together the pieces of artifacts they have gathered, Ferdinand tells them, “It is not so much a language as a collection of known languages. Old languages forming new patterns.”
“Found us to be evil angels so He cast us out,” Ethan deciphers with his knowledge of Latin.
“It is not just a story,” Ferdinand nods. “It is an autobiography. The memoirs of the devil.”

After the group disperses, Vanessa returns to the foyer to find Sembene sitting on the stairs. “Watching those things that hunt at night. Lions.”

She turns from him and wanders away.

Night. Bartholomew Rusk begins to investigate the murder of the couple whose baby was kidnapped by Hecate.
“We’ve been going about this all wrong,” he realizes. “We’re pursuing patterns of logic when the answer lies elsewhere.” In magic.

Meanwhile, Oscar Putney continues plans for his freak show. Down in his cellar, John Clare and Lavinia get to know each other while studying the masks.
“Father’s murderers. All those figures screaming in his new crime scenes. Ah, Mr. Clare, it hurts me to create them. Like I’m bringing them to life and then torturing them. Like some sort of terrible African Voodoo doll.” Of which the now-changing Clare reveals he no longer believe life is all about suffering.
Indeed, she agrees, “there is hope for you, anyway.”

Outside, the newsman waves his papers. “All murders on the underground. Read about it!” Ethan grabs a copy while being watched by the three witches. And then a certain Hecate makes her move:

chandler-and-hecate

Elsewhere in London-

“Honestly, Doctor, this is the last thing I expected.” Vanessa laughs as she assists good ol’ Frankenstein as he clothes shops for his “cousin”, Lily.

Hecate (she claimes named by her classics-loving parents, and holding a degree in botany) flirts with Ethan and thinks she has him enthralled until he accuses her of being sent to spy on him by his father.

Gray takes Angelique out for a night at the Gossima Parlour.
“Electrical lights,” she laughs. “What it does to a girl’s complexion.”
“Shall we keep score?” Gray asks as they settle to play a game of table-tennis.
“Why else live?” The other arches a brow.

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“He could smell me,” Hecate later explains to her mother on why she could not hook Ethan.

“Then we shall fight him tooth for claw. I’ll prepare the enchantment for tonight.”

Back at the loft:
penny dreadful evil spirits frankenstein and lily

“So women wear corsets so they don’t over-exert themselves.” -Lily to Frankenstein.
“Yes.”
“What would happen if they did?”
“They would take over the world.”

As the two flirt over the issue of gender equality,back at the mansion Lyle and Malcolm continue to try to further deciper the relics.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” The former teases. “Now that you’ve given up the Nile, you need a new quest.”

And he further tries to lightheardly warn Malcolm away from Miss Poole. “You might proceed with precaution, eh?…Those little dalliances can get so Byzantine.”

“If we can accept the Devil walks amongst us today,” Sir Malcolm later surmises to his group, “we must conclude this is part of an ongoing story.” Foretelling a future, mostly Vanessa’s…

and then the house is invaded by the three witches…

And thus ended this lively episode. In contrast to last week’s darkly atmospheric Nightwalkers, tonight was a fun-romp through London.  From Vanessa’s lighthearted shopping spree with the Doctor to Gray’s date with Angelique, to Ethan figuring out Hecate, yet not figuring out Hecate, there was a large feeling of lighthearted play.
Kudos to the heads of casting. Along with the main cast, all the actors in the supporting roles are performing briliantly.

favorite lines: “Whatever we can imagine, far worse is true.”- Doctor Frankenstein

“No sensible shoes now, Mr. Chandler.”- Hecate

fun little tidbit: Vanessa always eats dessert for breakfast. A gal after my own heart!

Questions:

-Sembene! Sembene! Sembene!

– might Hecate really fall for Ethan?

– and is she tired of being under her mother’s total control?

– why did she claim that she was named after a sea goddess, and not a moon goddess as Vanessa later corrects to Ethan? Surely she had to figure that Ethan might also have known that fact, and have read Macbeth… It seems a rather stupid, unnecessary lie.  Was it only thrown in as plot convenience so our people could quickly come up to speed?

– when will Vanessa meet Cousin Lily?

– Does Angelique have ulterior motives when it comes to Gray? Probably. But I think it would be a nice change if she didn’t…

til next week…

*Spoilers may follow*

“What is wrong?” Ethan asks of Vanessa after spotting the blood left on the floor from Verbis Diablo


As Vanessa begins to tell her story to him we are brought back to the time in which Mina had gone missing. In order to find out why she is, as she is, Vanessa has traveled to the West Country to speak with the infamous  Cut- Wife (Joan).

nightwalkers vanessa and joan

Unfortunately, her introduction is marred with crass-to-be-crass dialogue, and an overly dramatic performance by Patti Lupone.   As the character kept spitting out venom and turning to Vanessa for a reaction, it brought to mind a teen trying to shock their parents by leaving  The Satanic Bible open on the kitchen table, or making sure they’re caught while acting out scenes from the works of the Marquis de Sade.

Vanessa wasn’t buying it.  Neither did I.

Once Cut Wife stopped jamming her fingers into Vanessa’s forehead and lifting her up from the ground by her crotch, she calmed down enough to allow our gal to come inside her fetish-filled witch hut.

“Who marked you?” She wants to know of the pentacle branded in Joan’s skin.  When the other will not respond, the answer comes to Vanessa, herself.  “Someone you kissed once.  A woman.  A sister?”  “Your sister.” She looks to the witch.  “If I am right, let me stay.”

At that, Joan brings out a tarot deck and orders Vanessa to pick a card.

The Devil.

“When you understand the major arcana, you can hear the echoes of time in your ear,”  Joan explains the next day as they walk through the morning forest. “They’re never always as they seem.”  Words which certainly describe the characters who populate Penny Dreadful.

penny dreadful vanessa and joan

“And what do they mean?”

“You’ll learn.” And she has Vanessa describe her impressions of the Devil Card.

“A dark lover.  Part of yourself, but not.  The whispers of something ghastly and beautiful.”

Later, Joan warns Vanessa she is in danger.

“From what?”

“Legions.” Vanessa is a terrible woman, she insists, and like attracts like. “I felt you every step across the moor. And they felt you, too.”

Nighttime.

As they sit discussing Vanessa’s hopes in saving Mina, Joan feels a stir. She warns the other to stay seated while she takes a look. In a fantastic shot, three witches stand outside underneath the crooked branch of a tree. Behind, the landscape evokes the isolation of Caspar David Friedrich.

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 3). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_203_2785

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 3). – Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: PennyDreadful_203_2785

Joan greets one. “Sister.”
“Sister,” Miss Poole replies.

She has come for the Master will not be denied the woman he seeks the most, and warns the Cut-Witch that she can’t protect Vanessa forever. “Your bones are brittle. Do you really want this to be your last battle?”

“It is the only battle,” Joan spits back.

She and her sister once followed the old ways as “daycomers” until the devil tempted Miss Poole with promises of youth, beauty, love, and power. The coven followed her and cast out Joan when she would not join them in their midnight arts.

“You know them,” she now says to Vanessa. “All those midnight things.”

And it is a good thing that Vanessa does indeed know these midnight things, for Miss Poole and her witches will be coming back…

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At the conclusion of the episode, I wasn’t sure how I felt, and still don’t. Some of the dialogue was over-the-top, and some didn’t make any sense character-wise. “They come to me so I can kill their babies.” “You’re here so I can kill your baby, right? Okay. Lie down on the floor.” That’s terminology that someone against abortion would use. Not words a wisewoman or “cut-wife” performing the procedure would.

The mentor/student relationship between Joan and Vanessa came across very stereotypical and contrived.  Of course crusty ol’ Joan allows Vanessa to stay and decides to help her even though she pretty much knows doing so will be the death of her.

The plot was paint by the numbers and quite derivitive.

YET, I loved the mood and atmosphere evoked throughout. The Salem-y bleakness mixed with the lustiness of a Hammer Horror film.

The landscape felt like a character, itself.

Helen McCrory shined in another captivating perfomance. And
her witches beguile even while remaining silent in the background…

While some lines of dialogue were ridiculous, the episode was also filled with some exquisite lines.

With a little bit of help from Shakespeare: “I felt you every step across the moor. They felt you too. They’ll be here soon. I felt you walking to my door. Felt you standing there. By the pricking of my thumbs something wicked this way comes.”

Hopes:

– while this is unlikely, I’d love a flashback episode of Miss Poole and Joan set back in the days when the devil came between them…

Questions:

– How long will it take Vanessa to realize who Miss Poole is?

and how long will it take her to open the Poetry of Death?

– Why does Miss Poole’s master desire Vanessa so much?

She’s still alive!- was my first thought upon seeing poor Brona in bed, coughing up blood. Luckily the dear is comforted by Chandler who comes and lies beside her. After she apologizes for her behavior the night before, he tells her, “I love you with all my heart.” I sat up at this, not only because I rather like the two as a couple, but because it is so rare to hear an actor express that sentiment so earnestly. Ever since the onset of talkies in which audiences giggled upon hearing their dashing heroes confess their love, screenwriters have been hesitant in its use; and when uttered, is usually downplayed or expressed in a joke-y sorta way. (think Hans and Leila in Star Wars) So kudos to Josh Harnett for going for that line with unapologetic feeling and making me believe.

chandler and brona what death
Now let us move on to Miss Ives, who, while reading tarot, once again hears Mina’s voice. As well as some screams and creepy chomping noises. Off she goes to Sir Malcolm to inform him that the cards have revealed something about a ship.

Meanwhile, Dr. Frankenstein is busy studying the bodies and movements of women for Caliban’s bride. His work is interrupted, however by Van Helsing who asks if he has ever heard of vampires. Once the doc answers in the negative, the good Professor pulls out a Penny Dreadful, and explains that while the author got his facts wrong, his story was still true. There is much more that Van Helsing wants to tell Frankenstein, but their conversation is interrupted by Caliban who in a fit of rage, breaks the former’s neck. How dare his father pause in his endeavors! Caliban will have none of that nonsense. He wants his lady and will kill anyone that Frankenstein cares about or who gets in the way of the work. I lost pretty much any sympathy for this “monster” the other week when he declared his bride must be beautiful despite hating how he is treated because of his own looks. Very different than Mary Shelley’s famous creation, this monster really lives up to his name. Frankly, the hypocritical dude is no different than the plethora of people who walk around believing they have suffered some unique breed of suffering which gives them the allowance to hurt and lash out at others.

helsing and frankenstein

Time to move away from that weasel and back to Brona who gives Chandler her St. Jude medal. The Saint of Lost Causes. I feel rather ghoulish that everytime that woman is on screen I muse on how and when she is going to die. Will she become Caliban’s chosen as I first suspected? That notion seems to be losing steam now that Caliban has eyes on a certain actress. Will she become a victim of The Master? Or, if Chandler is a werewolf, as has been hinted, would he turn her to save her life? There’s certainly much foreshadowing when Sir Malcolm later warns Chandler that once put on opiates to dull the pain, Brona “will cease to be who she is”.

Chandler lets that go for the moment as he, Sembene, and Sir Malcolm board a ship which the latter believes may be the one propheseid. Aboard, they search amongst the corpses and scurrying rats. Losing hope, Sir Malcolm declares that his daughter is not there. Cue several long-haired blonde vampiresses awakening. And once that fight is won, the real Mina, in the arms of The Master, reaches out for her father.

penny dreadful mina

While the men are sweating off vamps, Miss Ives is having her fun with Mr. Gray, and in the midst of orgasm hears a voice informing her that He has been waiting…

final thoughts: utterly fantastic epidode. All the scenes are long enough to possess depth, but none so long that any of the storylines drag. The writing was great, most notably the exchanges between Vanessa and Dorian Gray through the hall of portraits into bed, from their kiss to knifeplay.

There are enough questions to keep the viewer excited to turn the page onto the next ep, yet enough is known that one feels grounded.

– I do find it odd that no one at all is suspicious that Mina’s appeareances to Vanessa might be a ploy. I can understand Sir Malcolm and Vanessa being blind to such a thought, but wouldn’t Chandler and Sembene, from their comfortable emotional distance, at least acknowledge that possibility?

– hopes: Mina Harker is such a cool, strong, resourceful heroine in Stoker’s novel, that I certainly hope that her character is given justice here

Black Sabbath - I tre volti della paura 1963-MSS-JF-049

There are  films you see as a child, which although the name of it is long forgotten to you, fragments of scenes, the way it crawled under your skin, remain intact.   And years later, you are flicking the channels when you come across that seem bony hand, those same drops of water.   “This was that movie,” you say.

Directed by the sublime Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Kill Baby Kill), Black Sabbath was a  1963 Italian horror trilogy.  Its original title, I tre volte della paura ( The three Faces of Fear) consists of one,  “The Telephone” in which a woman named Rosy, beset by terrifying phone calls, fears the ex-pimp she helped put away, is out now,  seeking revenge.  Second, “The Wurdalak”, in which a woman loses her child to a vampire.   This story set in 19th century Russia is exceptionally haunting and beautifully filmed.   Yet it is perhaps the third one, that remains most memorable to any who saw it:

“A Drop of Water”

Everyone knows not to steal from the dead.   Except, evidently,  Victorian Nurse Helen Chester.  While dressing the body of a deceased patient, she slips a saphire ring off the corpse’s finger.  The deed done,  she knocks over a glass of water, its contents spilling onto the floor.   A fly attacks her face.

Pulling herself together, she continues her work.

Once finished with the assignment, she returns home to her apartment.  Ready to rewind and relax for the evening, her plans are hindered by the buzzing of flies, and the tip-tapping of water.   And then there is that face.  That face.  And those hands. . .

From youtube, in the Original Italian:  (don’t worry, you don’t need to speak the language to understand what is happening)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5URt0IDd84   (part one)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7WYuBHz2Jg    (part two)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHotHCMSEdc    (part three)

original title:  La noche de Walpurgis (1971)

Werewolf Versus Vampire Woman- ad

With a title such as, Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman, how could a lady such as I resist?   The sound of it alone brought me back to the little kid watching Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons.   Not to mention the slew of John Sinclair horror pulp novellas  which reside in this apartment.

Is this a great piece of filmmaking?  A masterpiece of cinematic technique?  Hardly.  It is unabashadly a B- film from the cheap sets,  silly dialogue, acting that seesaws between stilted and melodramtic, and heaving bosoms.  Don’t watch expecting a Psycho, Exorcist, Black Sunday, Suspiria, The Haunting, or anything of that ilk.   That said, I don’t judge any film or book in comparion to others.   One of my main tenants in critique is, did it do what it set out to do?

If director Leon Klimovsky and script writers, Paul Naschy and Hans Munkel, wished to entertain me, they succeeded.

Starring Naschy as Waldemar Daninsky and Gaby Fuchs as Elvira, this is a fun romp from the moment Elvira (with gal pal, Genevieve in tow) goes off to research the legend of a Countess Wandessa, rumored to have been a Hungarian vampire in the eleventh century.   As a writer of the occult, Elvira can hardly resist the story of a woman who practiced all methods of dark magic.  Of how members of the Inquisition tried to arrest her, but all who opposed her ended up dead.  Of a woman who preserved her beauty by drinking the blood of virgins.  Of how she was finally killed by her own lover who stabbed her in the chest.

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Naturally, fate sees it that the women get lost, while also running low on gasoline.  The droll Genevieve (Barbara Capell), jokes maybe Count Dracula will appear, and surely he will invite them to spend the night at his castle.    Elvira jocularly tells her to shut up.  However, her humor disipates when they do reach a run down castle where a Count Waldemar does indeed invite them to stay, as long as they wish.  From the start, she is suspicious of the oddness of the man, and his surroundings.   “This man has been lying to us all this time.  Have you noticed how the table was set?  Only a woman has that eye for attention.”

After listing all the weird things she’s noticed, Genevieve retorts by granting them all rational explanations.    Again she jokes of the undead.  “No vampire is going to suck your blood.”

Oh, dear.  Then you shouldn’t disturb graves of reputed Vampirin.

Perhaps it is this interest in vampires, that incites the risen Countess  to lure the woman into her coven.

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When the turned Genevieve tries to seduce Elvira into joining them, “I’m so happy.  It’s beautiful,”- Elvira is left to try to rescue her friend, as well as help the hairy Count destroy the vampiric witch once again.

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