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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La Belle Dame Sans Merci

by John Keats

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful – a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said –
‘I love thee true’.

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep
And there I dreamed – Ah! woe betide! –
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried – ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.

And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

cowper-

– painting by Frank Cowper

A Bewitching Piece of Art

Posted: August 21, 2015 in art, poetry
Tags: , ,

jean delville's stuart– Jean Delville’s Mysteriosa

“Behold the hour for your clairvoyant eyes to shine,
Intent Pythoness, inert in the silent heart of evening!
Your spirit has departed, lost amid the soul of the world,
Seeking the treasure, as your desire weaves its magic.

The sacred flame, which reabsorbs your fleshly being,
Will soon tranform the chasms of life into blazing pyres,
As the powers summon you to most secret sabbaths,
Reality of the firmament or infernal nightmare!

The holy aromatic burns in bright vessels;
For you, the world is a pure enchantment
Where you hover, dazzled, above the element,

And the angel, whom your word calls in the twilight,
Will come to reflect in the depths of a black temple
The brilliance of his golden brow, in a magic mirror.”- Jean Delville, Magica

originally posted on my old blog: Gypsyscarlett: Writing the Victorian Gothic on Dec 13, 2010

Artists in all fields are inspired by each other.

One of the most famous examples of creativity enriching creativity involves, The Isle of the Dead.

Arnold Böcklin (Swiss Symbolist painter, 1827-1901)  painted five versions of a painting thus titled, between 1880 and 1886.   All renderings depict  a rowboat arriving at a seawall.  In the bow, stands a figure clad in white.

Böcklin would not elaborate on its meaning, only saying,  ” It is a dream picture: it must produce such a stillness that one would be awed by a knock on the door.”

Many have interpretated the white-clad figure as Charon, leading human souls into the Greek underworld.

File:Isola dei Morti IV (Bocklin).jpg

In 1907,  upon viewing the painting, Sergei Rachmaninoff began composing a tone poem in its name.  The work, now considered a classic of late Russian Romanticism, was finished the following year.

In 1945,  Val Lewton produced a classic horror film with the same title.  The script, written by Ardel Wray, was inspired by the painting, and involves a group of quarrantined islanders who begin to die, one by one.

isle of the dead

bohemian gothic swords

Being trapped in one’s mind.  Self-imposed isolation.  Unable to see what is in front of you.  Fear of the unknown. Unwillingness to face a situation or yourself.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Feeling trapped in a situation.   Being a willing victim- unwisely.”

“I  lock my door upon myself And bar them out; but who shall wall  Self from myself, most loathed of all?” – Christina Rossetti

bohemian gothic 8 pentacles

Eight of Pentacles: apprenticeship, labor, concentration, diligence, determination to make something work, learning, gaining experience

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Practice makes perfect.  Detailed excellent work.  A willingness to stick to something in order gradually to perfect it.”

“Life is not easy for any of us.  But what of that?  We must have perserverance and above all confidence in ourselves.  We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”- Marie Curie
bohemian gothic 8 cups
Eight of Cups:  turning away from one’s past.  Escaping into solitude.  Sadness.  Regrets.  Elegiacal.   Unsatisfaction with one’s acheivements.  Beginnings of a spiritual journey.  Awakenings
from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Taking the next necessary step in life.  Moving on.  You need to do it, but it’s a sad moment.”
Caspar David Friedrich: Frau in der Morgensonne G45

Caspar David Friedrich: Frau in der Morgensonne G45

bohemian gothic 8 wands

Eight of Wands:

Swift changes.  Action.   Removal of obstacles.  Moving forward.   Fiery energy.   Seeing things happen at a quicker pace

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Everything happening at once- threats and opportunities.  Events moving swiftly toward a conclusion.”

Edvard-Munch--fine-art-692302_1024_768  Edvard Munch’s The Scream

 

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…

In honor of the gifted science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer, Ms. Lee, who passed away on May 24, 2015, here are some lines from her collection of retold fairytales, Red As Blood.

from “Wolfland”:

“She must have slept, dazed by the continuous rocking of the carriage, but all at once she was wide awake, clutching in alarm at the upholstery.  What had awoken her was a unique and awful choir.  The cries of wolves.”

“Having run the gamut of her own premonition, Lisel sank back on the seat and yearned for a pistol or at least a knife.  A malicious streak in her lent her the extraordinary bravery of desiring to inflict as many hurts on her killers as she was able  before they finished her.  She also took time to curse Anna the Matriach.  How wretched the old woman would grieve and complain when the story reached her.  The clean-picked bones of her granddaughter had been found a mere mile or so from her chateau in the rags of a blood-red cloak; by the body a golden clasp,rejected as inedible.”

from “When the Clock Strikes” :

“The duke’s funeral cortege passed slowly across the snow, the broad open chariots draped with black and silver, the black-pumed horses, the chanting priests with their glittering robes, their jeweled crucifixes and golden censers.  Crowds lined the roadways to watch the spectacle.  Among the beggar women stood a girl.  No one noticed her.  She gazed at the bier pitilessly.  As the young prince rode by in his sables, the seal ring on his hand, the eyes of the girl burned through her ashy hair, like a red fox through grasses.”

from “The Golden Rope”:

“All around the house,the dead trees, a palisade out-stared the moon.  They were a constant reminder of her youth which she had given up her vitality which had been drained.  And yet, tonight it seemed to her there was a strange stirring in the trees and in her blood.”

red as blood

Mary Shelley

 

Originally published in my former blog: Gypsyscarlett Weblog on February 9, 2009

In the summer of 1816, a cold spell swept across Europe and North America.   The unusual chill caused snowfall in July and unparalleled thunderstorms.   Pamphlets were passed around predicting the end of the world.

During June of that year,  five of the most famous persons in the world gathered together in a summerhouse in Villa Diodati, on the southern shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.  “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know”- Lord Byron, Dr. John Polidori, ethereal Percy Shelley, Claire Clairmont (eighteen years-old and pregnant with Byron’s child), and her stepsister, Mary Godwin (mistress to the married Shelley).

Mary Godwin (later Shelley) was born on August 30, 1797 to the radical political philosopher William Godwin, and  founding feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (authoress of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”).   Mr. Godwin never got over the death of  his wife who died due to complications during childbirth.  He taught young Mary to spell her name by tracing the letters on her mother’s tombstone.

Although both Godwin and Wollstonecraft had been disciples of the free love movement, he was outraged when his own daughter began a love affair with the married poet and refused to speak with her. Mary had spent her childhood haunted by the idea that she’d murdered her mother and  was determined to prove her consequent life worthy.   It had not been easy growing up the child of famed revolutionaries.   Now,  practically disowned by the father she adored, and in the company of  the poetic geniuses, Byron and Percy, Mary felt an even greater need to prove herself.

On June 16, 1816, as candles flickered and lightning illuminated the room, Byron read from Fantasmagoriana,  a volume of German shudder stories translated into French.  Upon finishing, he challenged everyone in the room to write a ghost story.  This was just the incitement Mary needed. She later explained, “I busied myself to think of a story,- a story to rival those which had excited us to this task.  One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror.”

However, she was unable to think of an idea until June 22nd.   On that evening, the conversation turned to, “the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated.”  They discussed the experiments of Erasmus Darwin who had, “preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion.”

Past midnight, she found herself unable to sleep- imagining a corpse reanimated.  “My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie.”   Her eyes closed, she saw, “a pale student of unhallowed arts….kneeling beside the thing he had put together.  I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.”

After opening her eyes, she was still not able to dismiss the “hideous phantom”.  She later recalled thinking, “O! if I could only contrive one which would frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that night.”  A few moments later she realized,  “I have found it!”

The next morning, she announced having thought of a story.  And along with the dream, she brought with her  a lifetime spent devouring the works of Goethe, Dante, Schiller, Shakespeare, Milton, and Matthew “Monk” Lewis.

In writing, Frankenstein ; or, The Modern  Prometheus, she would further utilize the theory of vitalism which held that a life force separated living things from  non-living things.  Some believed in a connection between vitalism (or elan vital) and electricity.  In 1803,  Giovanni Aldini had claimed to make dead bodies sit up and raise their arms by applying electricity.

Mary began, “It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.” ( This opening spoken by Dr. Victor Frankenstein would later become the opening of chapter 4 in the 1818 edition and chapter 5 in the revised 1831 version).

Dr. Frankenstein discovers the secrets of creating life.  After gathering human parts from charnel houses, he infuses the spark of life into the being.  However, Frankenstein is immediately horrified at the ugliness of his own creation.    He casts the Monster out into the unfeeling world.  This Monster- sensitive and tender- seeks understanding from Man but is constantly spurned until he chooses suicide. ”I shall die.   I shall no longer feel the agonies which now consume me, or be the prey of feelings unsatisfied, yet unquenched.”

As Mary began penning what at first was only intended to be a short story, she could have no idea that she was creating one of the most enduring characters ever invented.   The  unnamed Monster, rejected by his own father, (as Mary had been rejected by hers) would outlive all of the five men and women gathered together in that villa on the shores of lake Geneva.

*quote by Lady Caroline Lamb- lover to Lord Byron

7-of-cups-bohemian-gothic-tarot

Dreams, hopes, wishes, mania,  daring to bring castles in the air down to earth, the need to be able to decipher good choices from bad, being kissed by moonlight, debauchery,  emotional drunkiness, Venus in Scorpio

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Daydreams- both realistic and fantastical, delusions, choices, hopes, ambitions: some plausible, others not. dangerous delusions, lunacy”

venus in furs

Seven of Pentacles: questioning our material needs. What is necessary to reach our goals?  What must we strip away?  Taking a rest from our work to reevaluate.  Are we happy with the fruits of our labor?  Was the toil worth it?

bohemian gothic tarot seven of pentacles

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Reviewing what you’ve achieved.  A time to contemplate and to consider.  Making plans at other people’s expense.”

Seven of Swords:

seven of swords

The perceptive qualities of the rational-minded number seven meet the airy aspect of Swords.  The pursuit of knowledge.  A need and desire to work on one’s own.  Eccentricity.  Stubborness and willfullness.  Evasiveness.  Keeping secrets.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “A small piece of dishonesty or deception.  Mixing with things you don’t fully understand.”

seven of wands

Seven of Wands:      Fiery challenges and fights.  Destroying obstacles.  Strength in the face of adversity.  Staying true to one’s self.  The ego.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: ” A battle that you know you can win.  A fight against the odds.  Getting a buzz out of winning through a difficult situation.”

emily bronte

“Riches I hold in light esteem
And Love I laugh to scorn
And lust of Fame was but a dream
That vanished with the morn–
And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is–’Leave the heart that now I bear
And give me liberty.’

Yes, as my swift days near their goal
‘Tis all that I implore
Through life and death, a chainless soul
With courage to endure!”- Emily Bronte

the monk

reblogged from my older blog, Gypsyscarlett: Writing the Victorian Gothic.  originally posted on May 20, 2012

Into the Gothic World of the Monk

One of my maxims for writing stories that take place in past eras is that people have always been the same.  What goes on inside hearts, and behind closed doors has never changed.   It is only the outer society that differs in clothes and manner.
     A fantastic example of this is the 1796 novel by Matthew G. Lewis.   It is difficult to imagine this being published in the staid Victorian period.  But go back one century to the much more bawdy 18th, and this book was not only published, it was a smashing hit.  The fact that some critics deemed it obscene and dangerous, of course, only helped to sell more copies.
      Matthew Lewis, born on July 9. 1775, to a prominant English family, wrote the novel in a span of ten weeks.  Inspired by the novel, Mysteries of Udolpho, he aimed to write his own Gothic masterpiece.   Evidently putting aside any care or worry what anyone would think of him or his novel, he went full out, no-holds barred. The title character, Ambrosio is the ultimate man of two faces.  To his congregation he is the embodiment of purity and moral excellence.  Inside, he is an ego-ist who feeds on their adoration.
       The novel becomes a Matryoshka doll of stories within stories.  Romance,  sex, magic, murder,  and ghosts  fill the pages. While the confessions he hears indicate that most of the characters are decent enough folk caught up in an unjust world,  Ambrosio, himself, spirals into one of the most loathesome characters in all of literature.  A hypocrite to the extreme who blames everyone  and everyone but himself for anything and everything he does,  his arrogance and utter disregard for others leads him to rape and murder.
     The novel also boasts one of the most fascinating, unapologetic characters in Matilda.  As Ambrosio’s lover and nemesis,  she is his perfect foil, and the reader will be quite curious whose side she is really on.
     Story-wise, the novel is a marvel and it is easy to see why it had such great influence on such later literary figures as Emily Bronte and Poe.  On the negative side, the novel is unfortunately filled with the racism and sexism of its day.  Reading the treatment of the women is not easy.  Their constant punishment will raise the hair of anyone with modern sensibility.   While the men happily go along their merry ways, you can bet any of the female characters who engages in physical intercourse- whether it be consensual sex or  rape, will either die or lose her beauty and retire into a convent.  Only one female character in the book who has had pre-marital sex is “allowed” by the author to marry the man she loves at the end.   But not until after she has suffered one of  the cruelest, most heartbreaking tragedies one can imagine.
     Accepting the book for the era it was written, I was able to greatly enjoy the story while glaring at times and being grateful that authors no longer need to punish their ladies as some sort of horrible, hypocritical “moral”.
     Recommended as a highly engaging, spellbinding, and at times, surprisingly humorous tale with a fantasic, witty end.