Posts Tagged ‘horror’

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

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*SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW*

And we’re back! Season two of Penny Dreadful has commenced. Time to pour a glass of wine, grab some lovely rich chocolate, and curl up on the sofa.

Fresh Hell unwrapped quietly, its pace slow and thoughtful until its captivating ending. A coven of satanic witches!

We are first treated to Vanessa, who, while taking a winter wonderland stroll, is assaulted by a vision sent by Madame Kali. penny dreadful fresh hell vanessa insnow Later, as she and Ethan take a carriage ride, she is further bothered by his announcing plans to leave London. Feeling helpless over recent events he is going to find a war “somewhere” and “pick a side.”

“What about the war here?” she asks.

“Mina’s dead. We lost.”

But only the battle, she insists. And furthermore, “Do you think the dark forces that converge in our heads can be vanquished so easily?”

After she makes reference to the demons inside of her, he confesses to his violent blackouts. Yet when she offers her assistance, he backs off. “You can not change what you are. No matter who you save, or who you love.”

Before she can press upon this, their carriage is attacked and rolls over. As they struggle to sit up, the door opens and a ghastly white creature threatens Vanessa in an infernal tongue, and are saved only by Vanessa’s demonical retort.

The driver and horses are not so lucky. And as she and Ethan take in the carnage, they are watched by three witches.

Shaken by the incident, Vanessa asks of Sembene, “Do you think the past can return?”

“More than that. It never leaves us,” he replies. Penny-Dreadful-Season-2-Sembene-590

Meanwhile, Sir Malcolm meets with his estranged wife at the graves of their son and daughter.

“Putting an empty coffin in Peter’s grave…I don’t know what makes me sadder. Mina’s full coffin or Peter’s empty one,” she says.

With a face and voice painted with regret, he asks that they get back together. “We were once happy.” Yet she understandably refuses. “We have no more children for you to save. Or to kill.” And she departs, leaving him alone with his penitence.

Back in his loft, Frankestein continues working on The Bride for Caliban. The latter, who, nabs a job at a wax museum where the owner is working on creating a series of displays based on real life murders.

The doctor’s work is interrupted by Ethan who insists he come and look over Vanessa who has refused to leave her room. After a quick examination, she reveals that the language spoken between herself and one of the assaulters had been the Verbis Diablo, (a corruption of angelical speech according to lore). Furthermore, she does not actually know what she sputtered.

Sir Malcolm wants to learn more about this mysterious language to discover what Vanessa actually said. She, naturally, per usual, insists no one can help her. “This battle is one I must fight on my own.”

Which brings us to Madame Kali who enjoys a bath Elizabeth Bathory-style. “And if you kiss my cold gray lips…your days, they won’t be long,”she sings. penny dreadful fresh hell madame kali bath

After finishing her bloody ablutions, she gathers round her coven. There, she states her disillusionment over the events of the previous evening. Yet her mood swiftly changes upon learning that Ethan is a lupus die. “So our task is made yet more daunting. Meaning we shall have to be yet more ingenious. We shall have to employ strategems.”

Ethan shall be her daughter Hecate’s challenge.

She will go after Vanessa. “The Master will not be denied his prize.”

“The prize” has locked herself in the meditation room. There she cuts her finger and with the blood creates a veve-like drawing upon the floor. Hearing distorted voices, she raises her eyes toward the crucifix hanging upon the wall.

Cut to Madame Kali who smears blood upon her forehead while insisting to Lucifer, “I shall assault her days and her nights…I will not fail you.”

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 1). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_201_4531

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 1). – Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: PennyDreadful_201_4531

And thus ends the first episode of season two.

Hopes: That this delicious set up between Vanessa and Madame Kali has a more satisfying “last battle” than the first season ender with its too-hurried climax, and its sad waste of Mina.

Question: Will we begin to learn about Sembene’s history?

Episode Highlight: Helen McCrory’s spellbinding performance during the coven gathering scene.

criticism: Madame Kali killing one of her witches for…what? Failing a mission? Daring to ask for a second chance? Why do writers of these kind of shows so often resort to this? We know these are the baddies, or at least, the antagonists. We don’t need it shoved into our faces, “look how wicked they are! They will even kill their own!” Furthermore, why should their followers be so happy to be part of their coven/group/whatnot if they constantly have to worry about being thusly discarded for blinking the wrong way? It has often been said that no one thinks of themselves as evil. “Baddies” have their own motivations, and unless their batshit crazy, it makes no sense for them to erratically dispose of people who have joined them in their cause.

praise:

Solid acting all around.  Of the main cast, Eva Green especially continues to shine with her fire and ice performance

Directing- with so many shows employing breathless storytelling and quick shots, Penny Dreadful is a welcome change in its willingness to take its time.  It teases and entices, and it pulls you in.

art direction and fashion design:  Madame Kali’s memento mori-filled house

Penny-Dreadful-header2

Netflix has come to Germany, and with it a show I’ve been eager to dive into.

How could i not be excited to watch a show whose name is adopted from the lurid pulp fiction serials so popular amongst the sensation-hungry Victorians?

Gothic Horror, Victoriana, silks and lace….I’m there!

And a grimly lit macabre opening propels us right into this world.

Next day, American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, is offered a job by the mysterious Vanessa Ives.  “Do you believe there is a Demimonde, Mr. Chandler?  A half world between what we know and what we fear?” she asks him.

Episode 101

It turns out that she (a devoutly religious tarot reading woman who might not be fully human) and her partner, Sir Malcom Murray, an African Explorer need help in finding his missing daughter, Mina. Through a funereal opium house they search, coming not upon his daughter, but monsters stemming from the darkest of nightmares.

While it is unclear how long Ives and Murray have been aware of these creatures haunting London, it is evident they definitely know more people are needed in the fight against them. Thus, soon into their fold, the remarkably bold and innovative, Victor Frankenstein, is invited.

The pilot episode is superbly shot, as darly delicous as any Victorian Gothic should be. Boasting divine set designs and costumes, as well as a top-notch cast, it is a welcome beginning.

Yet while all the main ingredients were present, a certain soul or heart was missing. In short, the opener was like a sundae missing the whipped cream and cherry on top. So while I can’t bestow the highest lavish praise upon it, I look forward to what the show can become.

Episode 101

“Writing about the unholy is one way of writing about what is sacred. ”- Clive Barker

“Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work.” ― Clive Barker

“Welcome to the worst nightmare of all, reality!”― Clive Barker

“Gather experience… Look at what you should not look at. A feeling of anxiety is the sure and certain evidence that you should do this.”
― Clive Barker

“At best you can hold death at bay, you can pretend it isn’t there; but to deny it totally is a sickness. And I think that horror fiction is one of the ways to approach these problems, and, perversely perhaps, to enjoy a vicarious confrontation with them.” ― Clive Barker

“Nothing ever begins. There is no first moment; no single word or place from which this or any other story springs” ― Clive Barker

“I don’t like to make a distinction between the writer and the painter , finally , because I do both things anyway . Everybody’s dreaming and trying to put down their dreams in the way that their hand knows best . I feel as much a unity , as much comradeship , with painters as I do writers .”― Clive Barker

“The whole point about vision is that it’s very individual, it’s very personal, and it has to be confessional. It has to be something which hurts – the pulling out of it and putting it on the page hurts. Art can be about the individual writer’s response to his or her condition, and if that response comes out of a predigested belief about what the audience wants to hear about the writer’s condition, then it has no truth, it has no validity. You either write with your own blood or nobody’s. Otherwise it’s just ink.”― Clive Barker

“Keep it simple. Trust your imagination. Discover what is unique about your imagination. Don’t simply read a story and copy it.
I go into myself. Then I transcribe what visions I have. If those ideas are original, and you are devoted, you will go far.” ― Clive Barker

“Don’t bury personal obsessions. Capitalize on them. “The connection between personal obsession and the work you do is the most important thing.”

— Be yourself. “Singularity is what you need.”

— Avoid self-censorship: “We are very self-critical in a way that can be very destructive. In our culture there are voices in our head which have taught us to say, `Oh, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ Don’t ever think about anybody peering over your shoulder.”

— Don’t be afraid to show off, even if you think, “I’m very close to making a complete fool of myself.”

— Don’t be afraid to entertain. “I want to entertain. I don’t want to lose people. I feel responsible as I write to give people the best time I can.”

— “Love your failures” instead of beating yourself up over them.

— “Learn to love the process” of writing.

— Just do it. Barker likes something director Stanley Kubrick said: “If you want to make a film, pick up a camera.― Clive Barker

“My imagination is my polestar; I steer by that.”
― Clive Barker

“I really believe that there is an enormous appetite amongst readers for an originality of vision. In other words, be true to your own dreams and there will always be people who want to hear them.” ― Clive Barker

“I can certainly throw out some observation about the process of creating which may be of use. Firstly, it’s the best & the worst of worlds, because the only fuel you have to make the fire blaze on the page / screen is the stuff of your own being. An artist consumes his or herself in the act of making art. I can feel that consumption even now, sitting here at my desk at the end of a working day. In order to generate the ideas that I have set on the page for the last 10 or 11 hours I have burned the fuel of my own history. This is, obviously a double-edged sword. In order to give, the artist must take from himself. That’s the deal. And it’s very important to me that the work I do is the best I can make it, because I know what is being burned up to create. As the villain of Sacrament says: “living & dying, we feed the fire.”― Clive Barker

“I’m an inclusionist. I’ve always divided up (very, very broadly, I admit) the artistic instincts into the inclusionist and the exclusionist. The exclusionist is Raccine. The inclusionist is Shakespeare. I’ve always felt like I’d prefer to throw 45 things into the pot and hope that maybe 36 of them will taste good. You may choke on 9 of them. I’d rather do that than only have half that number of elements and each one perfect. That’s because I know that people choke on different things…. I think that when I was a kid, the experience of things, the experience of just finding words for things, of finding somebody else’s world and being able to leap into it and, like any world, you pick up the geography instantly. You expected the thing to unfold, you expected there to be valleys that upon entering that world you were barely aware of. For me a novel, particularly a large novel, one you put down at the end and think, ‘Hell, that was interesting. I’m not sure I understood Chapters X, Y and Z, but maybe next time I read it or talk to someone about it, I will’… that’s a very different experience to the immaculately formed, beautifully honed, finished ‘art’ thing.” ― Clive Barker

“Even today I keep a Dream Journal. It’s whatever’s going on in my subconscious, or things from dreams or even interesting items that pop into my head. I have thousands of pages of notes which I hope someday will turn into stories, or movies…Being on the road gives me breathing time and the opportunity to think about what to do next. In fact right before I came down for lunch today, I was writing down notes about my feelings. Things that I need to do to keep motivated. I need to be motivated if I am to going to devote fifteen months to writing another book. And I couldn’t write a book just because it’s a commercial idea. I need to have a compelling reason.”― Clive Barker

“People often ask me what advice I have for writers, and I reply that the most important responsibility I believe a writer has is to his or her personal truth. Don’t be misled by the best seller lists. Just do what feels true to you. Speak your heart, however strange or revelatory it is. Don’t be ashamed of how your imagination works. What a reader wants to discover in a book is what you hold uniquely in your head.”I think making stories which touch people deeply is always hard. I’ve been writing plays and books for 20 years and I still go to my desk every morning with a mixture of excitement and dread.”― Clive Barker

“By and large I think art is made by people who have discipline married to talent in sufficiently large amounts to work even if they don’t feel like it. Anybody can get maudlin and decide to write poetry at 11 at night; the question is, can you do it at 8:30 on a Monday morning..?”
― Clive Barker

“Make your own worlds. Make your own laws. Make your own creations, your own star systems. Don’t feel answerable to anyone, or as though you have to create after some preordained model. You don’t have to write like myself, or King or Anne Rice: be yourself. Nothing is more wonderful than discovering a new voice, particularly if it happens to be your own.”
― Clive Barker

“I’m constantly trying to make what Stephen King called head movies or skull movies: things should be playing out on the inside of your eyes, if you will, without you having to think about me as an author being present.
I have no interest in being present, in intervening between you and the work. My job is to be as invisible as possible. My job is to say, ‘Hey, I wrote this book and I’m on the cover, bye bye!’
The story should have its own momentum; it should make its own way. I have no patience for that showy kind of writing, which is all about how clever the writer is. Postmodern stuff just leaves me totally cold. I’m much more interested in being drawn into a book, and I want to create the kind of writing which hopefully makes you turn and turn the pages.”― Clive Barker

“So you can’t please all the people all the time. All you can do is what pleases you, and hope that it pleases other people.
I love my readers, and I respect my readers, but I’m not going to simplify or echo myself, copy myself, just so the sales will be better.”― Clive Barker

“Every day is a writing day. I get to my desk between 8 and 8:30 in the morning and then work through until 6pm, and then normally I’ll take up whatever will be happening in the evening, usually painting or photography.

I do about four drafts total. I do handwritten drafts because I don’t type and I have no wish to type. I mean, I know how to type, but I have no interest in putting the words down that way.
Maybe that’s because I’m an artist and because I’ve always used a pen and so there’s a sort of natural feel to it.

I don’t know how familiar you are with Blake’s illuminated texts, but you know very often he’ll literally make words flower. It’s really this glorious thing in bringing words and pictures into the same place, the same space.”
― Clive Barker

“I want to be remembered as an imaginer, someone who used his imagination as a way to journey beyond the limits of self, beyond the limits of flesh and blood, beyond the limits of even perhaps life itself, in order to discover some sense of order in what appears to be a disordered universe. I’m using my imagination to find meaning, both for myself and, I hope, for my readers.”-Clive Barker”

weaveworld

“How is it that two of the sweetest women I know, write horror?” A great friend sputtered not so long ago to me.
“And we’re both vegetarians, to boot!” I joked back.

Though my friend was teasing (a writer, herself, she’s well-aware of such fallacies), the stereotypes of writers of certain genres certainly does exist amongst some, perhaps even much, of the general population. No doubt that many who read my stories would envision a female- Carmilla-pale, sheathed in black, dark and broody by nature.

So what did drive me towards horror? Is it the sign of Scorpio placed in the North Node of my chart? The North Node indicating a soul’s purpose in this incarnation? It is said of such people that we are the “truth tellers”. We see through the superficialities of societal masks, and dive deep into the murkiest swamps to discover the hidden treasures beneath. We hear the beauty in Discordia. With the ability to see the wounded child behind the adult’s coldened eyes, it might be little wonder that those with such a placement in our charts are often drawn to becoming healers in the psychiatric fields.

Is it Lilith placed in the fifth house of my chart? Lilith, the first woman, who positioned there, inspires one to create authentically, without self-censorship.

For horror writers must often venture into those uncultivated forests of the mind, those same wilding paths that most avoid. Yet, to explore darkness, to have a love of the fallen and forbidden, does not equate to possessing a gloomy and depressed psyche. Rather, it is the ability and desire to understand, even if not necessarily condoning certain actions.

It is ability to find beauty in the most unexpected of ruins.

While a lot of horror stories deal with twisted, even disturbing subjects, they often are the least cynical or nihilistic. More often than not, good triumphs over evil. And even those with tragic endings often also leave glimmers of hope and of newfound understandings. Who did not pity Frankenstein’s monster- despised and abused from birth- until he allowed himself to be swept away by those waves?

Robert McCammon said in an interview, “There are scenes in all of my books which are over the top in terms of violence, of gore. But that is not the core and crux of the work. The core of the book will always be the human element. I want to tell a human story about a person’s journey through a forbidding or threatening world.”

My current soundtrack:

Goblin’s Suspiria (from Dario Argento’s film of the same name)

Ennio Morricone’s Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (American film title: A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin by Lucio Fulci)

Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire

Mussorgsky’s Night On The Bare Mountain

Goblin’s Deep Red from Argento’s Profondo Rosso:

Keith Emerson’s Inferno (from Argento film of same name)

Hexentanz’s Mark of the Witch

Hexentanz’s Devil’s Mass

What music are you listening to during your creative endeavors?

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.

the-werewolf-vs-the-vampire-woman

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.

wolfman vs vamp woman

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.

wolfman vs vampire woman 3