Posts Tagged ‘Dracula’

It’s another stop on the run-up to Christmas, and if not definitive still a pleasant one.  The subject a story, “La Fatale,” at about 1300 words about Mina Harker of DRACULA fame becoming a vampire after all and, having had a French mother, moving to France to try to sort things out.  And almost after I wrote it it was accepted by then-professional WHITE CAT MAGAZINE . . . which, then, semi-immediately went out of production.

So, these things happen, but there it languished, perhaps due in part to a sort of metafictional tie-in to Rudyard Kipling and Philip Burne-Jones, as well as Bram Stoker, perhaps more heady fare than the average short short.  Or, anyway, those places it went to seemed not to want it, and I had other pieces to market.  Until, fast forward to Friday last week, and an invitation from a Writers Guild friend to submit to a planned anthology, tentatively titled RAPE ESCAPES:  We define the word “rape” loosely and are looking for pieces — any genre — that describe escape from an unwanted sexual situation in which force (psychological or physical) would be used. . . .  And moreover a suggestion for me that a piece about a vampire escaping human violence (perhaps with a quick bite to the neck) would certainly warm the heart of at least one of the editors.

So, long story short, I thought at first of les filles à les caissettes, whose adventures I’ve been presenting at First Wednesday readings, suggesting a couple that might fit the guidelines.  But something seemed to be missing to my mind.  And then I remembered “La Fatale,” concerning a non-Casket Girl Anglo-French vampire and sent it Sunday in a second email noting that it might be more powerful . . . if the literary references don’t get in the way.

Then this morning, the answer:  James, I love this.  And yes, I think it is more powerful.  So, with your permission, I shall add it to the dossier.  It isn’t an acceptance, exactly — for one thing there’s a co-editor who will have to pass on it too — but it enters the fray with good credentials.  As for the next step, we shall see, but it seems to me RAPE ESCAPES should be an important book, good company to be in — and, again, a nice opportunity just before Christmas.

They’re here!  This edition contains thirteen horrifying tales of vampires, werewolves, demons, zombies, and even Frankenstein!  Along with other monsters that go bump in the night:  Salla by Stephanie Bardy . Dumb Luck by Dawn De Braal . Just Like Us by Belinda Brady . The Caged Wolf by Steve Carr . Mummy’s Daddy by Brandon Cracraft . Beefcake and The Vamp by James S. Dorr . Potentia by T. Fox Dunham . The Prodigal Son by Walter G. Esselman . The Invisible Man by Tom Fowler . Black Lagoon by David K. Montoya . Demonically Nice Neighbor by Copper Rose . Suicide Mission by Alan Russo . Tinfoil Bullet by Phil Thomas .

So says the blurb, but they were actually here a tad before now, ten days before Halloween in fact.  The “they” is MONSTERTHOLOGY 2, the anthology from Zombie Works Publications (see October 7, et al.) with tales of monsters harking back to the movie classics, vampires, wolfmen, zombies, et al.  This, my second MONSTERTHOLOGY appearance (the first, a cryptobiological tale called “Stink Man,” was in the initial anthology in 2012), is titled “Beefcake and the Vamp” and, a pre-“Casket Girls” New Orleanian story, features both a vampire and zombie.

So a check with Amazon has MONSTERTHOLOGY available as of October 21, with mine and twelve other stories as cited above.  For more, one may press here.

And so the writing life continues.  Tuesday’s email brought a missive from Zombie Works Publications Editor Alan Russo:  Me, Randy and Dave have really worked hard on this and are at the final stage of this project.  Attached you will find a digital copy of MONSTERTHOLOGY 2.  Please look through it thoroughly and either send me corrections to make or your approval to print.  The story in question is one set in New Orleans, with zombies and vampires (but not “Casket Girls” ones) called “Beefcake and the Vamp” (see July 31, February 19, 12), a humorous tale of detectives and coffins including a vindictive vampire hunter.  One might note also that there was once a first MONSTERTHOLOGY and, aha!, that I had a story in that one as well, a cryptobiological outing titled “Stink Man” (cf. September 12 2012, et al.), of cow parts and man parts and an accident on the highway and . . . well . . . togetherness.

So anyway fair’s fair, corrections going back later Tuesday evening, with more to be reported here as it becomes known.

To end the month, how about a bit more of the life of the writer, this time in the form of another contract, received, elctro-signed, and sent back to the publisher just now.  The story is called “Beefcake and the Vamp” and the venue MONSTERTHOLOGY 2 (see February 12), an anthology of, to quote from the guidelines, short stories that involve classic movie monsters (Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, you know classics).  So the monsters in this one include the vamp Guillemette, once known as “Mina,” threatened by (as it turns out) a descendant of the Van Helsing family, who seeks the help of an all-night New Orleans detective agency.  And one of the agency’s finest (or only) employees is a hunky zombie named Beefcake — a match made in Heaven, yes?

Guillemette, I might add, is not one of the vampiresses in the “Casket Girls” canon, actually predating them in my writing, but she’s kind of fun too.  And way back when there had also been a MONSTERTHOLOGY 1 which had a story of mine called “Stink Man” (see February 19; July 2 2012, et al.), a cryptozoological tale of a man combined with the parts of cows.  As far as I know, though, a release date has not yet been set for Volume 2 — the publication schedule in general seems to be on the leisurely side — but the news will be here as soon as it’s known.

Vampire movies might feel a little overplayed in our post-Twilight era — but in all honesty who doesn’t love a good vampire flick?  There’s just something so cool and thrilling about an immortal blood-sucking creature prowling through the night.  The folklore surrounding these supernatural terrors has been around for centuries, so you know the ghoulish bloodsuckers aren’t going away anytime soon.

And that’s what we’re here to talk about — the scary kind of vampires.  So if you’re looking for some Twilight-y melodrama, I’m sorry to say you’ve come to the wrong place.  But if you’re willing to stay, we invite you to check out these 19 spooky vampire movies that will make your blood run cold.  Grab the garlic and start watching.

So I have an especially soft spot for these, a couple maybe not really on my must re-watch list, but most I think should not be missed.  A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, reviewed here below (see January 11, also January 15 2015), or ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (see June 26 2014), for instance.  Or how about the original versions of NOSFERATU (1922) or DRACULA (1931), or to be a bit funky the meta-“the-making-of” film SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE?  Or possibly CRONOS (1993), Guillermo del Toro’s first full-length movie?

The list goes on, the Swedish LET THE RIGHT ONE IN as well as its (not as good, in my opinion, but still worth a look) American remake.  BYZANTIUM.  THIRST. . .  But see the rest for yourself by checking out “19 Vampire Movies that will Make Your Blood Run Cold,” by Aliza Polkes & Xavier Piedra on THE-LINE-UP.COM, by pressing here.

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.

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.




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