The room is darkened and, behind you, a fluttering sound — the end of the reel being played on an old-style movie projector, or . . . ? Well, lest we forget, Friday the 17th of April is Bat Appreciation Day. For more on our featherless flying friends, including Fun Bat Facts, one can press here. And scroll down to the comments section for a bonus SMILEYBAT.COM link plus an “origins” explanation of why this date was chosen.
Or . . . maybe it was the projector or at least cinema related, as Black Wyrm Publishing’s REEL DARK anthology (“Twisted Fantasies Projected on the Flickering Page” — see also March 24, 13) continues toward its projected (ahem) publication date for World Horror Convention, May 7-10. So this is another step in the creation of an anthology, gathering data about the authors, which came about yesterday with a request for a bio, a photo, and e-addresses for the blog, Facebook, etc., to be included, all of which were sent back last night.
Then finally last night I received a proof sheet for my story “Dead Lines” from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, a final step in the publishing process. The story is scheduled for four days from now, Tuesday April 21 (cf. March 31, et al.), so the proof, with any corrections, will go back this evening. And, in the meantime, for those who don’t subscribe to DAILY SF (you’ll still be able to read “Dead Lines,” a tale of New Orleans and mystery along the Mississippi, plus other stories I have in the site’s archives except it won’t go in until a week later — just enter “Dorr” [the last name only for this one] in the search box to the right) you could do so now for free on their website, found here.
Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing has announced that OmniLit.com is offering a 30 percent discount on all its titles for one day only, “Tax Day,” all day tomorrow. To check it out, press here, then fill the name of the book desired in the search box at the upper right (warning: you’ll then get a list of titles that include the one you want as a keyword, so it may involve a bit of scrolling at that point). Or to see my titles only, you can click to “author” and search for “James S. Dorr” (the initial is needed) to find links to my Untreed Reads chapbooks PEDS, I’M DREAMING OF A. . ., and VANITAS; the Untreed Reads anthology YEAR’S END: 14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR with my lead story “Appointment in Time”; and one surprise title, an anthology from an entirely different publisher but with a story of mine in it too. (Well, I’ll give one hint, it’s really technically science fiction but the publisher’s name is “Northern Frights.”) Available formats are PDF, EPUB, and Kindle for Untreed Reads books (only PDF, I think, for the Northern Frights “surprise title” though), but remember the sale is for Wednesday only, April 15.
Well maybe not quite an orgy, but this afternoon the Indiana University Cinema ended a run of a lot of Canadian surrealist director Guy Maddin’s films (included: TALES FROM THE GIMLI HOSPITAL, ARCHANGEL, MY WINNIPEG, BRAND UPON THE BRAIN, THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD . . . plus Buñeul’s [with Salvador Dali] L’AGE D’OR as an example of the kinds of movies that influenced him), including talks by Maddin himself on Thursday and Friday, with one of the more unusual interpretations of Bram Stoker’s classic novel, DRACULA: PAGES FROM A VIRGIN’S DIARY. To quote from the program book: “Canadian cult auteur Guy Maddin has concocted his most ravishingly stylized cinematic creation to date. Beautifully transposing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s interpretation . . . from stage to screen, Maddin has forged a sumptuous, erotically charged feast of dance, drama and silent film techniques. The black-and-white, blood-red-punctured DRACULA: PAGES FROM A VIRGIN’S DIARY is a Gothic grand guignol of the notorious Count and his bodice-ripped victims, fringed with the expressionistic strains of Gustav Mahler. . . .”
As with many of his films, Maddin borrows techniques from the silents, including the use of title cards which, with a familiarity with the novel DRACULA, should allow the storyline to be followed with relatively little difficulty. Also it is filmed in black and white, often with a purposefully shadowy quality reminiscent of early movies, although with tinting and spot color also used in places to draw attention — and, yes, that color often is red — or simply as accents. Also, the film can be thought of as falling in two parts, the first in England with the seduction of Lucy, as performed by Tara Birtwhistle, and introduction of Dr. Van Helsing to explain to the others, and us, the true nature of the disease that affects her. And then the second, here straying in some parts from Stoker’s original toward the end, where Dracula himself, performed by Zhang Wei-Qiang, comes to the fore, beginning with Mina’s joining her fiancé Jonathan Harker where he’s recuperating in an East European convent-hospital following his escape from Dracula’s castle, then taking us to the pursuit of Dracula and the vampire’s ultimate destruction.
In introducing the film, the docent explained that Maddin had been discouraged by the poor reception of his 1997 TWILIGHT OF THE ICE NYMPHS and, while his short, THE HEART OF THE WORLD, was much better reviewed a few years later, DRACULA in 2002 marked in a sense his feature film comeback. Also noted was Maddin’s feeling about the original novel as “all rooted in male jealousy,” leading perhaps to an emphasis from the beginning of DRACULA as an invasion novel (akin, in that sense, to H. G. Wells’s THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, published the year after Stoker’s book in 1898), voicing a Victorian English fear of contamination through immigration — and in particular from the east. Especially in this second part, too, the use of shadows and settings and darkness adds to a German expressionist feeling, with Mahler’s music and fantastic dancing (the music excerpted from his 1st and 2nd Symphonies) leading dramatically up to the climax. Or, to quote the IU Cinema’s program book again, itself adding its own quotation: “THE NEW YORKER declared that ‘Victorian sexuality and melodrama are brought together in a shadowy world of expressionistic images and an athletic, almost rabid, choreography.’”
So, is this a film I would recommend for any lover of Bram Stoker’s novel, DRACULA, or even just of vampires in general — regardless of whether one is a fan of dance or music? Resoundingly, yes.
Now that we’ve gotten Easter bunnies — and other bunnies — out of our systems (we have, haven’t we?), Caitlyn Paxson, on TOR.COM, redirects our attention to “Fantastical Cats Who Are More Than They Seem,” for which one may press here. Unless resting is considered a magical power, however, the local cave cat Wednesday is unlikely to be on the list. However she does have her own web page which can be reached by pressing here.
The picture, incidentally, depicts Wednesday at a much earlier time in her career.
As promised (cf. March 31, 19, et al.), the word has come from Chuck Zaglanis of White Cat Publications that the steampunk anthology AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATONS is now out in paperback as well as electronically. This is the one with my “Tombs” story “Raising the Dead,” about chasing souls in a clockwork-driven aerial balloon. The anthology, in fact, follows aeronautics (as well as robotics) throughout the centuries, starting in ancient Greece and ending in . . . well . . . the aforementioned far-future, dying Earth of the Tombs.
More information on AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATIONS, including ordering via Amazon, can be found here.
Also in today’s email, this arrived from CHIZINE: Happy April Fool’s Day everyone!
But now, the real news!
It’s April and that means it’s National Poetry Month! Except at ChiZine. Here, it’s . . . yes . . . Shitty Poetry Month! Back by popular demand! You could be the winner of the Shitty Poetry Belt (TM)*! Can you take it away from the current title holder. . . ?
Yes, it’s, um, that time for poetry of all shapes and flavors and — after all, why not? — this year I have an entry myself in the first round. Called “The Vampire’s Soliloquy” and with a special tip of the chapeau to William Shakespeare, it and five others can be found here. And voted on too (note, polls close on Sunday for Round 1 poems). Dare I ask?
Or, to go back to the words of CHIZINE: Vote for your favourite poem in week one. Voting ends Sunday at midnight. Winner of this round goes on to compete with the final round poems!
April’s Bloomington Writers Guild/Boxcar Books-sponsored First Sunday Prose Reading (see February 1, et al.) went off as scheduled but, in that it was Easter Sunday and participants in many cases may have had family obligations too, it ended up in truncated form. For all that, though, the room was full for the three featured readers, MFA final-year student Tia Clark and student and artist Tami Whiting who both presented short-form combinations of essays and memoirs, and Madelyn Ritrosky who read excerpts of her and Dena Huisman’s forthcoming novel MOONBEAMS, “exploring the heterosexual politics of romance, sex, and relationships, privately and publicly, c. 1928, yet very much about today.” However during the following break it became apparent audience members were drifting away — only two people in fact, poet Antonia Matthews and me, even signed up for the open mike readings — so, when it had whittled down to the two of us plus facilitator Joan Hawkins, we mutually agreed to hold off until next month.
Possibly also adding to early exits, of course, was that it was a beautiful spring day, one of the few we’ve had thus far after a not all that cold, but tenaciously hanging on winter.
But then of Easter night, what can one say. As noted in the post just below, I had ordered a film, KOTTENTAIL (“A tale of unspeakable HORROR! Beautiful WOMEN! & Stomach-turning GORE!” according to the DVD’s front cover), of a decidedly un-Easterly bunny and the terrors it would presumably bring. Little ventured, perhaps little gained — rated 4.4 of 10 by IMDb and not even reviewed by Rotten Tomatoes. Invisible to Wikipedia, which did offer this, however, about its distributor, “[t]he films usually contain sexuality, nudity, gore and graphic violence, and other elements common to horror movies, making ‘Brain Damage’ a fitting name. Founder Darrin Ramage is quoted as saying ‘everyone is looking for B and B: blood and boobs.’” Rated three coffee cups for Intensity and with a “Stupidity:Nudity Ratio” of 7:3 by BLEAKCINEMA.COM (“Proudly scraping the bottom of the barrel”), it seemed the sort of thing that, if one does not go in with overly high expectations, could be fun.
It did not disappoint (well, not really). It in fact warns one itself to keep thoughts non-serious with the dopiest SFX practically from the start, the lab (a table, a bare concrete wall, one large cage on the floor) with the being-experimented-on bunny (which the female scientist — played by ex PLAYBOY “House Bunny” Bridget Marquardt — has named Frederico) “played” by a very obvious rabbit doll with a pull string allowing it to “hop,” etc. (One review says this is done on purpose with which I agree; to some extent it’s deliberately mocking low-budget movies. I will add too that the acting, while not great, is reasonably competent, well above average for this kind of “indy” horror.)
The theme, basically, is to find an excuse to get five actresses — the scientist; the two members of Women For The Liberation Of Caged Animals who “rescue” Frederico and release him in the laboratory parking lot; the sorority pledge (whose nasty sorority sisters get theirs eventually, natch) whose boyfriend is killed by the upcoming monster (the first surviving witness of “Kottentail”); and the policewoman who is the first to take the now boyfriendless pledge’s report seriously — into Playboy Bunny-like outfits before the movie ends. Thus, freed but hyper-aggressive as a result of experimental injections (the Defense Dept., the scientist is told, has taken an interest in the project) Frederico ends up in German immigrant farmer Hans Kottentail’s (ah, now) carrot patch on the other side of town; Kottentail attacks thieving rabbit; rabbit bites Kottentail turning him gradually into a large human-flesh chomping man sized hybrid man-rabbit (an alternate title for the movie is allegedly HYBRID), although with ears that look more like those of a donkey. So by the time the male police detectives start taking things seriously themselves — the problem is admittedly compounded by the fact it’s the day before Easter (in a subplot of sorts, Kottentail wipes out the City Council while its members are out in the boonies hiding eggs for the next morning’s Easter Egg Hunt) and the town abounds with men wearing bunny suits — they are killed too.
So as a result it’s up to the women to fight the monster and, as one explains, first they have to dress skimpily to lure Kottentail’s man part out of hiding, but also attach powder-puff tails to their bikinis and wear bunny ears to gain the trust of his rabbit portion. Q.E.D.
In honesty I can’t really recommend this one unless you have a chance to see it free. But it’s still kind of fun.
The film I had ordered for late Easter viewing, KOTTENTAIL, the salacious tale of an experimental rabbit gone bad, has beaten the odds and arrived in time. Perhaps a review later in the week? But in the meantime, here are some pictures of other Easter Bunnies of dubious aspect from Brian Galindo on BUZZFEED.COM, courtesy of my middle niece Jodie who sent them on Facebook several days back. Enjoy (or take warning) for yourself by hopping here!
Happy Easter — and try not to eat too many Peeps!
Today is the eve of Good Friday, presaging Easter and the finish of Lent and fasting. So what better reading for preparation for one’s return to a full menu but “Five Stories About Cannibalism” by Karin Tidbeck, courtesy of this Thursday’s TOR.COM? Not only that, as Karin explains: “I picked the titles below for a range of cooking methods, reasons for cooking, and the ways in which the author deals with the subject. Bon appétit.”
So for a holiday treat, going back to the Brothers Grimm and even including Thomas Preskett Prest’s “The String of Pearls,” the penny dreadful that marked the debut of one Sweeny Todd, be pleased to peruse here.
A week and a half short of one year ago, on April 10 2014, my New Orleans-based vampire tale “Casket Girls” went out to subscribers of DAILY SCIENCE FICTION. One week later on the 17th it went into the archives where it can be seen by subscribers and non-subscribers alike. Then today I received via SFSIGNAL.COM a preview copy of April’s DAILY SF story roster (probably available on DSF’s own Facebook page by tomorrow morning since then of course it’ll be April, but for the scoop, for what it’s worth) announcing that in just about three weeks, April 21, a year and eleven days after Aimeé the vampiress made her debut, my next story “Dead Lines” (see January 1; December 23 2014) is set to appear.
“Dead Lines” is a Poesque mystery of sorts, of the disappearance of one Mr. Valdemar and the gracious New Orleanian grande dame “Lo” who may know more about it, as well as the original casket girls, than she lets on. It will be my fifth story for DAILY SF.
Then a second quick note, while it’s unofficial I understand that following some last minute edits the paperback version of White Cat’s AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATONS (see March 19, et al.) has gone to the printer, to become available hopefully in two weeks or less.
Perhaps what you keyed in was the British site SCI-FI-AND-FANTASY.LAND, but what you now see says CHARLES CHRISTIAN’S URBAN FANTASIST, FEATURING THE GRIEVOUS ANGEL WEBZINE. It doesn’t matter. What does for this blog is that yesterday evening, for possibly the last March gasp for poetry acceptances, GRIEVOUS ANGEL editor Christian sent me this email: “Good to hear from you again – all good pieces but the standout for me – and on a theme I haven’t seen before – is On the Other Hand. Love it – and will definitely use it.”
GRIEVOUS ANGEL may be recalled as having published my now Rhysling-nominated “Beware of the Dog” (cf. March 16; September 11, June 30 2014), a study of werewolves in modern times. “On the Other Hand,” however, is set in the past, in 1933 to be precise, and has to do with the doomed love affair between KING KONG and Ann Darrow, as played by Fay Wray. In short, it suggests that it may have been just as well that, in the end, it didn’t work out.
One can see from the illustration at right the seeds of disaster, his having left Fay to her own devices on the building’s ledge while he plays with biplanes. And Fay Wray’s autobiography with its own opening letter to Kong is titled, itself, ON THE OTHER HAND.
But for the full story check GRIEVOUS ANGEL in perhaps a few months.