Posts Tagged ‘Frankenstein’
Was this a tagline from the original FRANKENSTEIN movie? Or did it just come into more general use later? Does it still conjure up the mental image of the mad scientist, hair askew, clutching a test tube with something . . . colorful . . . bubbling out of it? Those were the days, while today we may think more in terms of computer malware, sneaking invisibly to do its damage. But are there not still things that even hands-on, laboratory scientists are NOT MEANT TO FIND OUT?
The answer is “yes” according to Paul Ratner in “5 Topics That Are ‘Forbidden’ to Science,” via BIGTHINK.COM. Or at least kind of sort of. And within, perhaps, some ideas for science fiction?
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 like 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.
It seemed a mystery at first when it arrived. From Nicole Kurtz of MOCHA MEMOIRS PRESS, the email read:
Dear Contest Winners:
Thank you for your patience, and congratulations on being our top ten finalist in our flash fiction contest.
Here are our next steps.
1. The stories are being edited.
2. They will be published in a promotional horror chapbook from Mocha Memoirs in both ebook and print versions.
3. Cover art is being considered.
But . . . contest? Chapbook? Something dim stirred. I did a search on Mocha Memoirs — yes, they had published a story of mine in the past as well, maybe more than one, but this was something different. I had a vague memory. . . .
And then it clicked! Women in Horror Month, February 2016. And this, dated February 23, Now it has been revealed! My story, “Flightless Rats,” has made the list of finalists for the Mocha Memoirs Press Women in Horror Month Flash Fiction contest. Or, in the official wording: “The following stories have been chosen as the TOP TEN Flash Stories of 2016! These stories (pending various technical stuffs) will be compiled into a micro-anthology for use by the press. However, now we need YOUR VOTES to determine the winner of the GRAND PRIZE — $20 Amazon GC!”
The voting is long over, of course, the winner announced. The top ten finalists, “Diabolique” by Tracy Vincent, “Flightless Rats” by James Dorr, “Pickman’s Model” by Jason Ellis, “Hell on Earth” by Carrie Martin, “The Damned” by Melissa McArthur, “Servant Girl Anihilator” by Robert Perret, “Staying” by Myriah Strozykowsky, “Hag” by Marcia Wilson, “What the Dollhouse Saw” by Karen Bovenmeyer, and “Thin Ice” by Marcia Colette, with the grand winner being Myriah Strozykowsky’s “Staying.” “Flightless Rats” was originally published in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG, a.k.a. FREE SCIENCE FICTION, on January 12 2015 (cf. that date, below), and starred the New Orleanian vampiress Aimée (who we may recall from “Casket Girls” in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, see April 17 2014 et al.) about a century after her original 1728 arrival in New France.
So here will be a chance to make one’s acquaintance again in the presumably fairly near future.
Then, speaking of Eighteenth Century France and King Louis XV, a very interesting article — especially for science fiction fans with steampunk proclivities (speaking of “clockworkpunk,” just below) — also turned up in my (e)mailbox this afternoon. On automata of that time and before, it comes courtesy of ELECTRIC LITERATURE (ELECTRICLITERATURE.COM) by Michael Peck, “The Impossible Bleeding Man: On the History and Mythology of Artificial Life,” and begins with the bringing to the French king’s attention an amazingly lifelike mechanical duck. But if ducks, why not men — at least model men, for the betterment of the study of medicine? Or, as some might say, might that not be taking science too far (believe it or not, a pre-Mary Shelly inventor named “Frankenstein” appeared in France in 1790 in THE LOOKING GLASS OF ACTUALITY, OR BEAUTY TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER by François-Félix Nogaret)? To see more, press here.
(The flying thing at upper left in the picture, however, is not a duck but a bat; while the standing figure, while it conceivably could be Aimée, is actually Carol Borland in the 1935 movie MARK OF THE VAMPIRE.)
No, no, not the one with Boris Karloff. This is the original Frankenstein movie as written and directed by J. Searle Dawley for Thomas A. Edison, Inc., which had its premiere on March 18 1910. And with it a tip of the hat goes to Jenny Ashford, a.k.a. the GODDESS OF HELLFIRE, a blog buddy as it were who offers it on her site, complete with a (ahem) tongue-in-cheek review. Or, in her own introductory words:
Look, my Scary Silents series is alive! ALIVE!!! And today we’re dissecting a classic, the Edison Studios adaptation of Frankenstein from 1910. As most horror buffs know, this was the first filmed version of Mary Shelley’s novel, even though I gotta say the adaptation is a tad on the “creative” side. Time to get this experiment started, so fire up the kinetogram and watch along!
The film itself, with a running time of approximately 13 and a half minutes, can be seen in its entirety on GODDESSOFHELLFIRE.COM with, as noted above, a possibly slightly less than entirely sympathetic appreciation, and which for both press here. But be warned, it being, as it informs us itself, “a liberal adaptation of Mrs. Shelley’s story for Edison production.”
This literary reminder comes from Kathy Ptacek via the Horror Writers Association on Facebook, that today marks the anniversary of the 1818 publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s seminal novel FRANKENSTEIN. So, courtesy of Kathy, read on.
Well, if you don’t get offended too easily (or have Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker finished rolling over in their own graves yet?).* You see, everything in this film is excessive. Everything. Yet part of the point is that’s the way it is in Japanese society, especially with teens. There are the ganguros, for instance, girls who paint or tan their faces a deep brown-black, wear white lipstick and eye shadow, and otherwise emulate American Blacks who here take their models, seemingly, from 1930s cartoons. And then there’s wrist-cutting (“Wrist cut is very popular in Japan,” according to one source. “Some people attempt ‘Wrist cut’ for autoside, but many people do ‘Wrist cut’ to ensure they are living. Japan is very controlled society. It is difficult to feel that people live their own life.”), which here includes a sanctioned school team and competitions to see who can fill buckets the fullest (the girl who cuts her arm entirely off is not the winner!). And then there’s the teacher from China who has super lungs from all the pollution on the mainland, so much so that he can allegedly smoke ten cigarettes all at once. These things, believe it or not, turn out to play an important part in the film’s denouement.
It starts off calmly enough, however (well, not counting the opening sequence where an otherwise quiet girl destroys three zombie-like creatures to lead to the title sequence, disarming [literally], face-peeling, and beheading, accompanied by spurting blood and gore in the more than bucketful), with an explanation that another Japanese teen custom is for a girl to give the boy she fancies a piece of chocolate on Valentine’s Day, which he will then eat to show reciprocation. But when quiet transfer student Monami (who, harking back to the pre-title sequence, we seem to have met before), the only one with chocolate left after a zealous teacher has confiscated all the other girls’ candy, offers hers to clueless male heartthrob Mizushima, Mizushima finds that the candy is filled with blood and yet strangely delicious. In fact, he feels strange after he’s eaten it, among other things having flashes of people as walking circulatory systems, and no wonder, it turns out. The blood is Monami’s, demure, shy, who skips class a lot on excessively sunny days either staying at home in bed or holing up in the school nurse’s infirmary, and who is a vampire.
Unfortunately for young love, however, Keiko, the vice principal’s daughter, has the hots for the young man as well, while the vice principal who has his own hots for the oversexed school nurse (as do most of the male students except Mizushima) has a secret laboratory in the school basement where he, seeing himself as the spiritual heir of Dr. Frankenstein, attempts to cut up and then reassemble various corpses and bring them back to life. So, when Monami corners Mizushima on the school roof and explains to him that with another drop of her blood he can turn fully into a vampire too and live with her and no longer grow old and (cutting her lip with one of her fangs and puckering up for him to kiss it) would he be interested (he says no at first until she explains that, since he now knows her secret, the alternative is that she’ll have to kill him, at which point love triumphs), who should appear but a jealous Keiko. Then, attempting to attack Monami, clumsy Keiko tumbles over the roof’s edge and goes splat below.
The body is brought to the nurse’s office, the nurse takes it downstairs, and even she is a little surprised when Keiko’s pop is delighted. Here is the perfect corpse for him to bring back to life, but first it must be augmented by certain improved body parts which the nurse, who moonlights as a psycho killer, delightedly gets for him.
Then comes the main event, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, beginning in the school gym but soon moving outside to a more heroic venue, while still inside Keiko’s dad and the school nurse (who, after having been killed by an all-but-torch-bearing mob of faculty and students who have traced the recent disappearances of experimental body-part donors to her, has been brought back as a zombie) continue their own bout matched against “Mr. Igor,” the school janitor (the old janitor had somehow disappeared at about the time Monami transferred in), and a newly released Mizushima who resurrected-and-augmented Keiko had captured and lashed to a cross to lure Monami to the gym in the first place.
The film is hilarious, gory (in spades — one reviewer has noted that people here seem to have thirty gallons of blood which, when tapped, will spray out over everything near them including the camera lens), over the top Japanese grindhouse, and yet it works. The special effects, to be sure, are largely cartoonish, ditto the sets and most of the characters, but the glue that holds it together, I think, is Yukie Kawamura, the actress who plays Vampire Girl Monami. She plays it straight (well, almost straight, think of Carolyn Jones as Morticia in the original 1960s TV version of THE ADDAMS FAMILY) and is actress enough that she pulls it off. The poor girl who had to flee with her mother, pursued by a relentless vampire hunter, and saw her mother murdered before her eyes. Who’s been on her own for hundreds of years since, so she says to Mizushima who comes to genuinely love her in spite of everything (including a twist at the very end reminiscent of the Swedish vampire film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN). Who has limitations (she can be killed, for instance, as was her mother) but has no qualms about admitting she’s left her own body count behind her, yet exudes a shy charm — and makes us accept it. She kills people, sure, we all have our faults, but she’s SO CUTE.
You just have to see it .
*As reviewer Maggie Lee says of it, “’Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl’ is ‘Twilight’ for kinky adults with an appetite for gushing gore, Japanese schoolgirls and proudly politically incorrect humor.”