Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

It’s just a short post, but cruising the interwebs what should I find but, on SCREENJUNKIES.COM, “5 Best French Vampire Movies”?  In ways it’s a strangely limited list, all five films being made in the late 1960s/1970s and four of them being (including his first, in 1968) by Jean Rollin, for more on whom – in an amazing coincidence – see June 12, below.  But if you like your vamps to exude a dreamy erotica in mildly surrealistic settings, whether or not they’re the absolute best, in four out of five one could do a lot worse.  So with no guarantees*, and today is Bastille Day, for one apparently anonymous film critic’s selections press here.

.
*Note that the one non-Rollin entry, Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE, was co-produced by the French film company Gaument (and does have some French actors, notably Isabelle Adjani as Lucy Harker), but that may be pushing things a little.

You saw the announcement in part in the comments in yesterday’s post, now hear it in full:  my prize-fight poem, “Godzilla vs King Kong” (see March 29; August 12, 6 2016, et al.), has battled its way to . . . well . . . a three-way tie for third place in this year’s Rhysling contest for best short poem.  That’s not the height of the fighters, mind you, but rather means poems of fewer than fifty lines, and Kong would tell you a third is a third and, even with others included, that’s still a share in the purse.  Or . . . but let’s let the sponsors put it in their own words.

The Rhysling Anthology Editor and Award Chair, David C. Kopaska-Merkel, and the officers of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Rhysling Awards.  The organization was founded in 1978 to bring together poets and readers interested in science-fiction poetry.  This year, there is a 3-way tie for Third Place in the Short Poem category.

Each year, the SFPA publishes the Rhysling Anthology, comprised of works nominated by its international membership for the Best Poems of the Year.  The Rhyslings were first established in 1978, named for the blind poet Rhysling in Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “The Green Hills of Earth.”  Rhysling’s skills were said to rival Rudyard Kipling’s.  In real life, Apollo 15 astronauts named a crater near their landing site “Rhysling,” which has since become its official name.

Winning works are regularly reprinted in the Nebula Awards Anthology from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  Rhysling Awards are considered in the speculative literature field to be the poetry equivalent of the awards given for prose — achievement awards given to poets by the writing peers of their own field of literature.

The Rhysling Awards will be formally presented at DiversiCon, in St. Paul (Bandana Square Best Western) by SFPA President, Bryan Thao Worra and other members of the SFPA executive committee. All members are welcome to attend the ceremony.

Short Poem
1st:  “George Tecumseh Sherman’s Ghosts”
Marge Simon • Silver Blade 32

2nd:  “Build a Rocketship Contest: Alternative
Class A Instructions and Suggestions”
Wendy Rathbone • Asimov’s SF January

3rd (tie):
“Godzilla vs. King Kong”
James S. Dorr • Dreams and Nightmares 103

“Richard Feynman’s Commute”
Jon Wesick • The Were-Traveler Dec. 21

“The Box of Dust and Monsters”
Beth Davis Cato • Devilfish Review 17

Long Poem
1st :  “Rose Child”
Theodora Goss • Uncanny 13

2nd:  “The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner”
Adam Bolivar • Spectral Realms 5

3rd:  “Not Like This”
Mary Soon Lee • Apex Magazine Aug. 4

For more on the Rhyslings and SFPA one may press here.

Another quick list to keep us busy the next several days  (cf. July 2, below), this one courtesy of Joan Hawkins,”The Best Horror Films of 2017 (So Far)” on VULTURE.COM by Jordan Crucchiola.  I think the only one I’ve seen so far is THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, an interesting zombie film with an intelligent difference — that is, to my mind not that scary really (once you get around the fact of zombies) but one that invites thought.  Then, wouldn’t you know it, I seem to have since misplaced the DVD.

Well, I’ve seen it once anyway (good for me!) and the list is worth checking out, for which press here.

The Question is asked:  What makes a scary movie scary?

If you glanced at what’s come out in the past 20 years, you might think it’s the amount of diced body tissue flying around the screen.  Horror has always depended on shock value (see: FREAKS below), but what really unsettles us hasn’t changed much: an ominous sound from around the corner, an indecipherable figure in the distance, a sense of impending doom as somebody opens a door.  Gore has its place, but only when it’s attached to an idea.  HOSTEL is less a spine-tingling chiller than an endurance test for ick along the lines of E!’s BOTCHED.

And so it goes (to coin a phrase). Herewith a list everyone’s going to have some disagreements with, courtesy of ESQUIRE.COM (via THISISHORROR.CO.UK), but with the acknowledgement that these are just one horror fan’s opinions.  Mileage may vary (to coin another phrase), but, for me, the value in a project like this is to view it as a kind of checklist to see which pictures I may have missed out on.  So, yes, homage is given to many one would expect, but others less known may be there as well (e.g., to deal from the top, most should recognize Fritz Lang’s M [#47], but how many also know UNDER THE SKIN with Scarlett Johansson [#49]; or consider #21, CARNIVAL OF SOULS) — and how many have you seen?

Well, I’m not going to say (I have seen the three noted just above), but it’s fun to go through, so enjoy Paul Schrodt’s “The 50 Scariest Movies of All Time” by pressing here.  (But caution: for those afraid of spoilers, avoid reading “scariest moments”).

There is a sense of sadness to Rollin’s vampires and even at their most violent, they exhibit weaknesses (to time, to the sun, to unrequited love) that make them far more sympathetic than a typical horror movie heavy.  Clocks are often closely associated with vampires, deepening the symbolic importance of time and fate in Rollin’s world.  It’s no coincidence that one of the most iconic images from his filmography occurs in LE FRISSON DES VAMPIRES (SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES, 1971) when a scantily clad female vampire emerges from within a grandfather clock to menace a young bride.  (Tenebrous Kate on DIRGEMAG.COM)

Think of this as a serendipitous journey.  Long-time readers of this blog may know that vampires are high among my interests.  Cf. the “Casket Girls,” several stories of whom have been published in various places jean-rollin-part-1-feature(see, e.g., August 4 2016, April 28 2015, et al.).  But also an interest in surrealism (February 20 2015, June 22 2014, others), and a chance link back to my own post on “Sweet Lesbian Vampire Love” (August 14 2016) reminded me of a place where these are combined, in the French-language films of Jean Rollin with 1968’s LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE (RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE) an early example.  Then enter DIRGEMAG.COM, linked to in the August 14 post, and another completely different article, “Sex, Death, and the Psychedelic Madness of Jean Rollin,” by Tenebrous Kate.

As it happens, I have a number of Rollin’s films in my own collection (I may re-watch RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE tonight!), but rather than describe things myself, I’ll simply suggest reading Tenebrous Kate’s piece by pressing here.  And to close, I’ll quote two more paragraphs from it, these ones on settings (and not without noting another connection in the second, echoing perhaps an interest parallel to my own TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF Rollin-ViolLATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, albeit in maybe a different direction.  But who can resist a good graveyard, eh?).

Rollin’s films are set far from the noise and action of the city, in isolated and frequently old-fashioned settings.  Beaches, with their endlessly cycling tides and cleansing ocean waters, are places of death and rebirth.  Scenes of vampires risking exposure to the sun at dawn on the rocky shores of Normandy figure prominently in Rollin’s films.  Centuries-old country châteaux hold terrible secrets and can be interpreted to symbolize the nobility of France’s past.  These buildings are populated by strange and often supernatural characters who reflect the opulent decay of their surroundings.

Perhaps most noteworthy of all are Rollin’s cemeteries: overgrown with weeds, gates rusted and creaking, these cities of the dead are transitional places between the everyday world and that of the supernatural.  Cemeteries are places where the living and the dead occupy the same space, a fact that Rollin uses for maximum symbolic impact.  Characters arrange secret graveyard rendezvous, only to uncover secrets that appear in the form of treasures, gateways, or menacing monsters.

The Indiana University Cinema is dark for the summer, but other film outlets exist on the campus and so, Friday night, I paid a visit to the Indiana Memorial Union and a special screening of KONG:  SKULL ISLAND.  Long story short, it is a good movie, action/adventure more than science fiction/horror, but it isn’t really a remake of the original KING KONG, nor does it pretend to be.  Therein lies its power, it is its own movie, yet using the major tropes of the original – just in its own way.  It takes place in the early 1970s, the Vietnam war just ended, a perpetually fog-enshrouded island just discovered through satellite photos, and, hey, let’s give it an exploration!  The photography of the movie though is more reminiscent of APOCALYPSE NOW, very striking for those who remember it, and it even has an ultimately antagonistic Colonel Kurtz character, this one in charge of a helicopter squadron to ferry the explorers in and who, losing too many of his men to Kong, not-unreasonably wishes to bring the big lug down.

And Kong is big, with biplanes replaced by helicopters and that fight practically the opening round.  So the survivors are on the ground now, meeting other monsters plus local natives, and with the latter a World War II Navy pilot shot down some 28 years before.  Yes, it’s a bit corny, but KONG:  SKULL ISLAND is not ashamed to have fun with itself, and anyway now he can act as a guide, to get everyone to their pickup point where the ship that brought them and the ‘copters in will expect to meet them just three days later.  For details, the Amazon site has plenty of good reviews, most of them quite favorable, which I recommend to those interested.

But, some of the Amazon reviews notwithstanding, the King does get sweet on the Ann Darrow (that is to say, Fay Wray) character, here a photographer fresh away from the fighting in Vietnam herself.  But only a little — no climbs up skyscrapers this time out (and the “biplanes” dispatched before they even meet, though “Ann” does climb a very high rock), and Kong, no fool, knows when to let impossible loves go.  The climax, rather — the third trope from the original, displaced — is the one-time fight between Kong and the T-Rex, here a giant lizard that lives with its fellows beneath the ground (there are intimations of Hollow Earth Theory — JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH anybody?) and Kong, in fact, is the one who protects the natives from these far nastier beasties.

The anti-“political correctness” crowd may not like this, the dog whistles tend more lefty than righty, but KONG:  SKULL ISLAND isn’t a political film either, nor should it be looked at that way.  No, Kong isn’t even registered to vote; all he wants is a chance to beat on his chest in peace and another outing on the Big Screen which, even if not his original 1933 triumph, is still a lot of fun to watch.

Then, back to the writing business, about four hours after yesterday’s post, Heidi Angell’s review popped up on Amazon. This the third of the three presumably sent there, but perhaps that’s the charm and others will follow.  In the meantime though, while the Goodreads link I gave will connect to both Heidi’s and Christine Rains’s, for the second review from C.P. Dunphey on GEHENNA POST (to give all equal time) press here.  (And one thing more, to all, while thinking of Amazon let us not forget rival Barnes & Noble.  Heidi’s review is there as well — perhaps others will join it here?)

Lovely weather hereabout, at least, as a good start for June.  Maybe a little rain on Sunday (but maybe not) and what looks to be a whole week more of sunshine and high-seventies/low-eighties highs.  But one cannot survive on niceness alone, eh?  Certainly not horror mavens like us!

So, to the rescue, courtesy of THISISHORROR.CO.UK, comes . . . HORRORFREAKNEWS.COM and “Top Ten Horror Cameos in Popular Cartoons” by Joshua Millican, for which press here.  Just when you thought it was time to relax with an innocent laugh (my favorite at first glance is Number 7, when Homer Simpson meets C.H.U.D and the Mole People).

SF film fans delight, courtesy of INDIEWIRE.COM let us wallow together in “The 25 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century, From ‘Children of Men’ to ‘Her’,” by Chris O’Falt, Graham Winfrey, Kate Erbland, and Zack Sharf, and brought to us via TOR.COM and Stubby the Rocket.  With themes that range from love to fear to humanity itself, the best sci-fi movies of the 21st century all share distinctly original visions. . . , begins the rundown, the rest of which can be seen by pressing here.  And the neat thing is, in scrolling down through it, I’ve probably seen at least half myself already (who knew I had such good taste?), and even own films numbers 1 through 4!

Then in other quick news, last night I turned in an interview to C.P. Dunphey of Gehenna & Hinnom Books, with questions designed almost exclusively with TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH in mind.  Yes, launch time for the novel is drawing nigh — but there’s still time to get a one-third off pre-publication discount by pressing here (or, for B&N fans, better yet here).*  But back to the chase, to quote Mr. Dunphey:  These answers are amazing!  For audiences, they will be superb, and for me as a8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13 reader myself, it answered a lot of questions I had as well.  I will post the interview tomorrow night and will send you the link before I post it to any social media.  Very excited for this to be published.  And yes, I know, would that others would be so enthusiastic!

So look Friday night or, one needing one’s sleep, possibly Saturday morning for a fairly long interview mostly confined to TOMBS.  And after June 1st, when the book is out, I understand there may be a review of it too.
.

*I understand there should also be an electronic edition of TOMBS, but not quite yet.

IndieWire describes THE LURE as “the best goth musical about man-eating mermaids ever made.”  Not sure there is much more to say.  Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s fiendishly dark and sly modern fairytale is set in Communist-era Poland and highlights the havoc wreaked by two vampire mermaid sisters intertwined in love triangle.  In Polish with English subtitles.  Contains mature content, including violence and nudity.  (Indiana University Cinema blurb)

So what’s not to love?  Perhaps “Golden” and “Silver” aren’t precisely classical vampires, preferring to subsist on human hearts, but they do get at them by biting through people’s throats.  At least Golden does, the one truer to her roots and, as one critic notes, the seemingly smarter of the two sisters.  But LurImage220Silver’s mistake is in taking it figuratively as well, falling in love with a dance club bass guitarist, and even enduring an operation to transplant a human lower body in place of her fish tail.  In spite of the fact that Golden warns her, should the fickle musician marry another, she has to “eat him” before the next sunrise lest she turn into sea foam.
 .
It doesn’t end well.
 .
One reason:  the film is actually a version of Hans Christian’s Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” which means part of the deal is she loses her singing voice too, and she and Golden are actually sirens of the lure-sailors-to-their-destruction kind.  And as Golden explains, she doesn’t sing solo.  In fact they’ve become a striptease act of sorts at a 1980s Warsaw night club (“Want to hang out here for awhile before swimming to America?” as Golden asks Silver early on), at one point billed as Corki Dancingu, the Polish title of the film, which I understand translates to “Daughters of the Dance Club.”  Another, perhaps, that it’s really a coming of age film about two young women, but without her sister, can Golden ever get to America by herself?
 .
On the down side, parts of THE LURE are a little confusing and, from a bit of a conversation I overheard outside the theater, the subtitled translations may miss some beats — but then, songs are a big part of the film too (remember:  Silver and Golden are sirens).  According to the docent before the screening, the 1980s are also important, including a sort of dance hall kitsch, as reminiscent of the director’s own childhood.  Also the music, channeling such films as ALL THAT JAZZ and CABARET, or at least a little, as well as Bjork — and the music is good!  And, the docent added, the mer-sisters do NOT wear seashell bras, but that’s not the only reason for not bringing children to this one as some of the violence does turn toward the graphic (something about “strong stomachs,” I think he said).
 .
So . . . maybe not the best movie ever made, but a weirdly good one.  I recommend it.

Yes, a lovely spring afternoon, the eve of Easter, and one’s thoughts turn naturally to gentle bunnies.  Candy, jelly beans, chocolate eggs.  But not all that gentle according to watershipdown_violencePhil Brown on CGMAGONLINE.COM!  Yes, from Jan Svankmajer’s ALICE to DONNY DARKO bunnies have their own dark side as well, and let us not forget WATERSHIP DOWN or NIGHT OF THE LEPUS!  Or in short, for one’s Easter viewing enjoyment, please to peruse Mr. Brown’s selections for  “Top 10 Most Frightening Bunnies in Film History” by pressing here.  Which one will you find in your basket this Sunday?

(And a happy Easter to all as well!)




  • My Books

    (Click on image for more information)
  • Chapbooks

  • Poetry

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,032 other followers