Posts Tagged ‘Dracula’

This one seemed somewhat a long shot for me, but you take a chance and you never know.  It’s in how you translate the guidelines, yes?  The call in this case:  We at Zombie Works Publications are ready for 2019, and are currently seeking thirteen short stories to go into our ALL NEW Monsterthology 2.  Yes, it’s back for a second volume!  Like the original anthology, we are looking for short stories that involve classic movie monsters (Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, you know classics).  But then what exactly do we mean by classics?

Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.  There wasn’t much time and, while I didn’t really have anything that was exactly a spin off of the movies cited, I did have one dark-humored detective parody set in a post-Katrina New Orleans where certain supernatural creatures (yes, vampires, werewolves, zombies. . .) had come out of the horizontal closet, as it were, to integrate themselves into society.  The title was “Beefcake and the Vamp” and starring in the role of the Vamp was one Guillemette Écouteur which, as I explained in my cover letter, is a French translation of Mina Harker.  Yes, she really had been “turned” (though the 1931 movie with Bela Lugosi would seem to deny this), had gone underground (ahem) in France and then New Orleans, and moreover a long-dead-himeslf Doctor van Helsing had a great great granddaughter who strived to maintain the family tradition.

A bit on the far afield side, one might think.  (And only thirteen stories to be accepted?)

That was January 25.  Then yesterday afternoon, Monday, the email came from Editor/Publisher Alan Russo:  I am pleased to inform you that your story, “Beefcake and the Vamp,” has been approved for publication. We expect it to appear in MONSTERTHOLOGY 2 due out later this year.

And there you have it.

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Yes it was, the Bloomington Writers Guild “Second Thursday Player’s Pub Spoken Word Series” (see October 9; October 13 2017, et al.) with a special early Halloween lineup to honor October.  How special?  Even the five open mike readers at the end chose at least some poems, etc. specifically for spookyness while featured musical guest Travis Puntarelli also went out of his way to play and sing numbers with, let us say, Gothic overtones.  Then of the headlined readers, the first one was . . . moi.  Or to read from the blurb, JAMES DORR is a short story writer and poet, working primarily in dark fantasy and horror with some forays into science fiction and mystery.  . . .  The story he’ll be reading tonight is called “River Red,” and appears in THE TEARS OF ISIS.  It is set on a far-future dying Earth, populated by various creatures including ghouls — eaters of the dead — and is in the same universe as his latest novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, out from Elder Signs Press.  This was followed by another musical interlude, then by the main event, a dramatic reading by Writers Guild members of . . . well, to quote again from the blurb, DRACULA is a screenplay for a never-made film by the late, notorious Ken Russell, Britain’s cinematic sultan of excess and outrage whose films include TOMMY, ALTERED STATES, LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, and GOTHIC.*  The script was written in the late 1970s and published in 2009.  The film came close to being made only to be abandoned when Universal put its Frank Langella headlined version of DRACULA into production.  Russell’s script, however, allegedly formed the impetus for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, whose screenwriter James V. Hart was directly involved in the inception of Russell’s interpretation.

In a departure from usual practice, the evening ended shortly after 8 as opposed to a more normal 9 p.m., to allow for an additional band Players Pub had scheduled for the night.  This specifically cut down the amount of time set aside for the play, allowing for only two or three scenes, but enough to give an idea of its flavor, set in the 1920s, that of a vampire motivated by a love of music and on a quest to confer immortality on dying artists.  However, the Writers Guild also announced plans to present the play in its entirety at some time in 2019.
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*Re. GOTHIC, cf. October 5, September 30.  But readers may recall having met Mr. Russell before as creator of THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER (July 17 2015, “E. A. Poe Meets Alice in Wonderland”), described as a buggy interpretation “for the 21st century” of not just Poe’s “House” (which possibly more deflates than falls at the end of the picture) but almost everything else Poesque beginning with a wink of the eye to “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Drakula Istanbul’da (Dracula in Istanbul) is a Turkish horror film from 1953.  The screenplay was based on a 1928 novel by Ali Riza Seyfi called Kazikli Voyvoda (“Impaler Voivode”), and is more or less a translation of Stoker’s novel, but there is no Renfield character and Guzin, the “Mina” character, is a showgirl given to performing in revealing outfits.  Drakula/Dracula is played by balding Atif Kaptan.  Long believed lost, Drakula Istanbul’da is considered the first non-western film version of the Dracula story, and oddly, one of most faithful to the Bram Stoker original.  With Dracula scaling the castle walls, implied infanticide, and the ceremonious end of the vampire, with first a staking, then a beheading, then stuffing the mouth with garlic (as per the instructions in the novel), this movie adaption contains more of the creepier elements of the book than many higher-budgeted and more pedigreed productions.  Perhaps it’s the proximity of Turkey to the Eastern European setting of the novel, or perhaps shared similar legends and folklore, but Drakula Istanbul’da, in all its threadbare grace, seems to have an authentic and maybe innate feel for the myths of the region that cannot be found in any Hollywood back lot.

Say what?  And yet it’s true, the above from CREATIVECOMMONS.COM, with the information brought to us via E. K. Leimkuhler in “Dracula Retold:  Early Variations on a Gothic Classic” in DEARDARKLING.COM.  This, in fact, is the film version of KAZIKLI VOYVODA, a Turkish “translation” of DRACULA by Ali Riza Seyfi that follows the main plot points pretty well, albeit with Turkish characters substituted for the English originals and other changes (e.g. Dracula fears not the cross, but the Quran) to make it more relatable to a Turkish 1920s audience.  Also, unlike the “real” DRACULA, there’s an actual direct connection to “Vlad the Impaler,” the Harker character prior to meeting the Count in fact wondering if he could possibly be a descendant of the historical Vlad.

The DEAR DARKLINGS article covers four variations in all, the Turkish book being the third.  First is “Dracula’s Guest,” originally a part of Stoker’s novel but left out of the final version, published separately in 1914, two years after Bram’s death, by his widow Florence.  Then in second place is another “translation,” MAKT MYRKANNA (a.k.a. POWERS OF DARKNESS), a 1900 Icelandic version published “by” Bram Stoker and Valdimar Asmundsson.  After the start, however, this one varies considerably from the original (e.g., [a]mong other misadventures, Harker finds multiple rotting corpses [which don’t disturb him nearly as much as the Count’s lewd banter], encounters an allegedly insane Dracula cousin, and witnesses the Count leading a Black Mass a la Hammer.  Additionally, the Count’s machinations involve a somewhat convoluted international political conspiracy) although, according to Leimkuhler, there’s some indication Stoker may have at least shared unused parts of his notes with Asmundsson.  Both this and the Turkish book version have since been translated into English, with links provided (a third variant in Swedish has yet to be translated, however).  Then, finally, Universal’s Spanish language film of DRACULA, made concurrently with the Bela Lugosi version in 1931, is cited, again with a link, this one to an omnibus edition of all six Universal “Dracula” films (i.e., up to and including 1948’s ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN) which includes the Spanish version as an “extra.”

And so, to see for yourself, check here.  But also a bonus, linked to as well in the DEAR DARKLINGS piece but deserving a special place here as well, what of that Turkish Dracula movie?  To see it for yourself, with English subtitles (at least of a sort — and with the desk clerk at the inn early on, despite its reimaging into Islam, still crossing herself when Dracula is named), press here.

In between movies, from 7:30-8:00, James Dorr will read from his new book, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (for more on James Dorr see below).  Well, not below, but press here to read the whole preview for this Sunday’s Ryder Film Festival night-before-Halloween horror series with my reading added, postponed from last weekend (see October 24, 17).  Or, as the Ryder people put it:  HORROR OF DRACULA, THE WAILING & James Dorr.  So, yes, it’s now official with my story “Raising the Dead” scheduled for 7:30 Sunday, October 30, sandwiched between a 1958 Hammer Films DRACULA (full, uncensored version, with gore restored) at 5:45 and the Korean mystery/horror (also premiered last Sunday) at 8 p.m.  This Sunday’s showings will be at Bear’s Place, a local Bloomington tavern, so to enjoy them, remember you must be at least 21.

And, fun for all ages, today I read and sent back corrections on the proof copy of “The Stalker,” set to appear in Bards and Sages Publishing’s THE GREAT TOME OF CRYPTIDS AND LEGENDARY CREATURES (cf. August 3, et al.), volume 4 in their GREAT TOMES series.  “The Stalker” is the tale of a young geology student named Iris and her encounter with a windigo who may or may not be named Goliath.

That title may be a little misleading.  Okay, a lot?  But it occurred to me that, as a horror writer, cults and people’s joining of cults is an area that might be worth exploring whether for story ideas, or defining characters within already written (or read) stories.  Does DRACULA, for instance, with vampire-in-progress Mina psychically linked to the one who is “turning” her, actually describe a cult, with the ritual of driving a stake through the count’s heart representing an ultimate means of deprogramming?  I think, myself, of my New Orleans-based “Casket Girls” (cf. August 4, March 6 this year; April 28 2015; April 17 2014; et al.) as having formed a polyamorous society of ladies with similar dining habits, but to what extent might that be cult-like too?  Or, more generally thinking, how many horror tales might simply feature bands of non-supernatural zealots who, possibly, might stick together after some menace has been conquered — think torch-bearing mobs following a charismatic burgermeister to seek more Frankensteins’ castles to burn.

Then there are the real cults, as that of Charles Manson.  Or in Waco Texas.  But are all cults bad?   Which all comes down to that, via the magic of today’s email, I ran across an interesting piece, “How Do People Become Indoctrinated Into Cults” by Derek Beres, on BIGTHINK.COM for which one may press here.  Is the horror writing community in itself a cult (well, for this one no, because we all run in different directions — at least when we’re left alone — so we’re probably more unfinishedlike a hypothetical herd of cats.  All after the mouse, yes, but. . . .)?

So, changing the subject, last night I and four others met in an old house on darkest 6th Street for a ritual of our own, a rehearsal for a reading performance of a play, to be presented on October 28 at local Bloomington pub The Back Door.   Scenes from a grisly play in progress, “The Unfinished” by Donald Mabbott, will be read by Writers Guild members Shayne Laughter, Joan Hawkins, Tony Brewer, and James Dorr.   Just in time for Halloween!, to quote the blurb for it.  A horror-themed open mic will follow.  For more on this one, one may press here.

Editor Cliff Garstang announced today that EVERYWHERE STORIES:  SHORT FICTION FROM A SMALL PLANET, VOL. II (see June 19, May 10, February 29, et al.) has had its official publication date moved up to September 26, scarcely more than two months from now.  Also announced, the book now has its own Facebook page, including interviews with two of its authors (thus far) and a table 13557669_1757143324503838_5186470872707740661_nof contents.  The latter (for which, see also just below), reflecting the book’s international theme, is divided into five major sections spanning five continents (or maybe just over four, depending on how you count “Oceania”) in which my story of family values gone awry, “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” appears in the first, “Africa,” representing the country of Mali.

So that’s sort of nice, putting me third in the book as a whole, even if it’s all a matter of alphabetical order within geographical/political hierarchies.  Or something like that.  But more to the point, the Facebook page may be browsed at leisure by pressing here.

In other announcements (and in this case simply random, no magic in today’s date either, it just popped up as a “see also” on Facebook) GOTHIC.LIFE brings us “19 Facts About Bram Stoker You Didn’t Know.”  Actually I did know some, and some are a little repetitious, one for instance telling us he married Florence Balcombe and hobnobbed with several literary lights of the day including Oscar Wilde, another that he and Wilde were also rival suitors for Florence’s hand (both in the column of those I already knew, but I didn’t know that Flo Stoker brought out the short story collection, DRACULA’S GUEST AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES in 1922 — though it is consistent with things I do know).  Also I keep forgetting the name of Henry Irving (Who he?  Well, to find out you’ll have to see for yourself by pressing here).

And then, back again to EVERYWHERE STORIES, here’s the lineup of authors and titles:

Africa
Egypt: The Hôtel Paradis – Pamela Hartmann
Kenya: Too Old for War – Frank Scozzari
Mali: The Wellmaster’s Daughter – James Dorr
Morocco: The Stop—Alison Grifa Ismaili
Sierra Leone: Jonkshon—Brandon Patterson
The Americas
Brazil: Let us go forth into the wide world – Gabriela Maya
Guatemala: The Eye Man – Mark Brazaitis
Mexico: Today, Quite Early – Christopher Woods
Panama: Mí encanta Panamá – Robert Kostuck
United States: Epistolize the Abandoned – Candace Robertson
Asia
India: Almost Enlightened – Lucinda Nelson Dhavan
Lebanon: Jackal Weather – William Kelley Woolfitt
Pakistan: No Covenant – Hira Cheema
South Korea: The Monk in the Window – Frances Park
Turkey: Memiş the Conqueror – Joel Hodson
Europe
Belgium: Street of the Candlesticks—Rijn Collins
Ireland: All that Water – Brooks Rexroat
Norway: An Idea of the Journey – Chris Cleary
Poland: The Guardian – Barbara Krasner
Oceania
Samoa: Fatu Ma Futi – John Matthew Fox

“The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” incidentally, was originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, November 1991.

Born May 27 1922, Christopher Lee came into the world the year of Dracula’s first screen appearance (albeit renamed Count Orlok) in F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU, EINE SYMPHONIE DES GRAUENS.  The tribute below is from Facebook courtesy of Ken Trayling, via Dacre Stoker.

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10479908_290483774475964_6698181542710289542_oJust because it’s cool, on a pleasant Sunday evening.  The image is courtesy of New Romantic-Gothic Movement (which on May 27 featured a link to the trailer for A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, cf. January 19, 11, for which check here; or on May 13 a discussion of the reception of DRACULA by its 19th century critics here) via The Macabre and the Beautifully Grotesque, both on Facebook and, for leisure activity, worth a browse through from time to time.

Thursday night, one may recall, brought readings of poetry.  These were followed a half hour later by a panel on TERRIFYING TROPES:  DARK CARNIVALE:  FREAKS, GEEKS, MAGICIANS AND SPIRITUALISTS covering, well, just that.  “Magic, mystery, and romance” — except you don’t know what hides under the greasepaint.  The panels I got to struck me as quite good in almost all cases, in this case also touching on nostalgia — weirdness and whimsy — and different takes between children seeing the glitter and wonder, rides, excitement, lots to do, versus teens where it becomes highly sexualized, a place to take girls where anything can happen, versus adults who now take their kids.  And the carnies themselves as playing roles, but even after the gates are closed as members of a separate culture (cited here was Tod Browning’s movie FREAKS).

Friday brought more TERRIFYING TROPES:  POE-ETICS:  SETTING SCENE AND ATMOSPHERE IN SUPERNATURAL FICTION, with a note that “The Dark Place” in horror is any place in that it’s being seen through the protagonist’s eyes.  So, in writing, establish the protagonist’s hang-ups — what’s in his mind — and think like an actor to not just see but react to a setting (and don’t forget other senses too, especially sound).  And look for details, especially ones the reader might not expect, as well as picking your own words carefully, also with an ear to their sound and their connotations, in setting a scene in the reader’s head too.   Then WEIRD SOUTH:  FROM VOODOO TO RATTLESNAKE REVIVAL:  SOUTHERN FOLKLORE IN HORROR LITERATURE brought in mixtures of cultures, especially in places like New Orleans, and distortions brought through oral retellings.  Thus the Devil may have been to some people an African god, yet close and personal to a Christian.  In that the South industrialized late, people still live close to the ground, and folk magic plays in people’s minds — the idea of Hoodoo, a large collection of magical techniques, versus Voodoo and Santeria which are actual religions.  But the truly frightening person is not one the Devil speaks to, but the one who says he’s been spoken to by God, because he’s the one who’s going to act on it.  DEADLY DEFINITIONS:  WE ARE BIZARRO!  BEATING ON THE BONGOS AND SCRAPING THE VISCERA OF HORROR’S ZANIEST SUBCULTURE then spoke to “the weird stuff” — Burrough’s NAKED LUNCH, BUBBA HO-TEP, David Lynch movies, THE KAFKA EFFECT.  To try to add something that “completely f ***s up, doesn’t blend in, twists 180 degrees” . . . but still works.  Surreal, or told in a surreal way.  Or, as one panelist put it, think Dr. Seuss, noting that that’s one of the first things, with talking animals, that we give our children.

Also on Friday were several showings of short films that I got to, in whole or in part, plus PANEL/READING:  DARK POETS FACE TO FACE in which a group of poets (one, though, in absentia whose plane hadn’t come yet) read one another’s works, explaining why they chose that particular poem and commenting on it.  This was a repeat of a panel I was on in New Orleans two years before (cf. June 19 2013) and then, as now, it was interesting as a look into the poets’ minds as well as just fun, whether as audience or at the table.

Saturday’s fare included more panels, with DEADLY DEFINITIONS:  WHEN THE WEIRD GO PRO:  EXPLORING THE PARAMETERS AND CONSIDERING THE DIRECTIONS OF A LITERARY RENAISSANCE concluding that maybe the “new weird” isn’t that new.  There’s Lovecraft too, where when you end with a monster too big to kill, that’s “weird, not horror.”  Post-Lovecraft we’ve become more self-absorbed, but the knowledge at the end of a story that here’s a thing we’ll never understand, that’s weird.  Giant butterflies that will eat your soul . . . a magician with a spell that will destroy everything . . . that’s weird as well.  But there’s always been weird fiction, it’s just that we’re talking about it in a perhaps new context.  Also weird fiction “works better in short form, while longer novels need to include redemption.”  WEIRD SOUTH:  I WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY AGAIN:  WHY ARE SO MANY CONTEMPORARY VAMPIRE NOVELS SET IN THE SOUTH spoke of Southern traits, as surface politeness that may mask darker feelings underneath, as well as the South’s dark history in general (“that’s why we fear clowns, they have smiles painted on and you know it’s hiding something”).  Thus vampires, beautiful people, cultured, walk among us and, unlike, e.g., zombies, we don’t smell the rot that lies underneath.  Then add tradition, strong religious feelings including the darker parts of the BIBLE, resistance to outsiders and “foreign” ideas (such as fearful Counts from places like Transylvania), master/slave relationships which the South still has trouble handling, and like the South, lush and green where everyone flourishes except the outsider, like kudzu and vines that grab hold and won’t let you go, so is the vampire both beautiful and grasping.

Earlier Saturday but to the point too, was SPECIAL PRESENTATION:  DACRE STOKER:  BRAM STOKER/TRAVEL GUIDE NEW DISCOVERIES 118 YEARS LATER, a PowerPoint presentation by Bram Stoker’s grand-nephew on Stoker’s life and experiences that led to the writing of DRACULA, with places and backgrounds, plus some recent discoveries adding to our understanding of the novel; plus a presentation, MEDIA:  WHCFILM:  SKIPP’S SATURDAY SINEMA FUNTIME, in which Director John Skipp showed a short film and possibly pilot for a TV series, BOMBO AND FLOPSY IN “AN HONEST MIS-STAKE.”  Clowns . . .  and vampires.

And then Sunday, finally, brought WEIRD SOUTH:  THE DEVIL CAME DOWN:  GROWING UP LOVING HORROR BENEATH THE MASON-DIXON LINE which amplified several themes from the days before, on the South’s unique features, but authors too including Edgar Allan Poe (though born in Boston, brought up in Virginia), story-telling traditions that affect all classes, folk expressions and word choices and multiple meanings and high-context cultures.  Then, one hour later, from noon to 1, TERRIFYING TROPES:  THE DEATH PANEL:  FUNERALS, CEMETERIES, BURIAL, AUTOPSIES, AND DECOMPOSITION brought the convention for me back to DEATH TO DUST (as in my mis-citation in my Friday panel) with many excursions from mourning customs, to green burials and “death composting,” uses of cremains, paintings and photography of the dead, “death cafes,” food used in funerals, medieval medicine, books bound in human skin, and other objects preserved in museums.

After which time it was time to go.

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 tec220px-Draculaballethniques.  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.




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