Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Death of a Healing Woman

Death of a Healing Woman by Allana Martin is the first book in the Texana Jones mystery series. It begins on the Day of the Dead. I enjoyed reading about this setting and these characters; there's a marvelously realized vision of the location. My photo above is the careless shot I uploaded to Facebook.

Yes, there are comforting warm beverages in this book. Here's an example from early on:
The wall clock read 7:15. Luxuriating in Charlie's presence behind the front counter, I indulged in a second, then a third cup of coffee at the table in front of the kitchen window with its wide-angle view -tens of miles of the unfolding desert.

I am myself only here, in the borderland, la frontera. I had left this country for a year during a brief first marriage and had learned that I was out of step with the values by which much of the rest of the world judges happiness and success. I had fled back home, fearful that if I stayed away I might lose myself forever.

The border with Mexico is a boundary only in the minds of professional politicians in Washington. To fronterizos it is a country in itself, a country of the mind and soul, a place where two cultures grate and bleed and blend into a hybrid country, ambiguous, harsh, and full of extremes.

Even our language is different, a fluid mix of Spanish and English.Code-switching, the linguists call it when fronterizos move back and forth between Spanish to English in the same sentence. We call it Tejano.

My thoughts were intruded upon by someone in the front of the trading post hurling rapid-fire Tejano at Charlie, whose modulated tones punctuated the sound bites of a voice I recognized. I poured the remains of my coffee down the sink and pushed through the connecting door to say hello.
Publishers Weekly calls it an "absorbing debut" and concludes, "Martin populates Jones's tiny hometown of El Polvo with hardworking, goodhearted eccentrics and farmers, all richly portrayed in a series sure to be a winner." Kirkus Reviews calls it "a quietly absorbing debut".

It was a staff pick on this Texas Library blog, where they say you'll like it "If you like contemporary mysteries with a western flavor such as the Walt Longmire Series by Craig Johnson or the Joe Pickett Series by C. J. Box" and also this: "Plot driven with a strong sense of place, this suspenseful mystery also hosts a cast of vividly memorable characters."

Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. Share a drink with us and visit.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Stolen Body

The Stolen Body is an 1898 supernatural tale by H.G. Wells. It begins,
Mr. Bessel was the senior partner in the firm of Bessel, Hart, and Brown, of St. Paul's Churchyard, and for many years he was well known among those interested in psychical research as a liberal-minded and conscientious investigator. He was an unmarried man, and instead of living in the suburbs, after the fashion of his class, he occupied rooms in the Albany, near Piccadilly. He was particularly interested in the questions of thought transference and of apparitions of the living, and in November, 1896, he commenced a series of experiments in conjunction with Mr. Vincey, of Staple Inn, in order to test the alleged possibility of projecting an apparition of one's self by force of will through space.

Their experiments were conducted in the following manner: At a pre- arranged hour Mr. Bessel shut himself in one of his rooms in the Albany and Mr. Vincey in his sitting-room in Staple Inn, and each then fixed his mind as resolutely as possible on the other. Mr. Bessel had acquired the art of self-hypnotism, and, so far as he could, he attempted first to hypnotise himself and then to project himself as a "phantom of the living" across the intervening space of nearly two miles into Mr. Vincey's apartment. On several evenings this was tried without any satisfactory result, but on the fifth or sixth occasion Mr. Vincey did actually see or imagine he saw an apparition of Mr. Bessel standing in his room. He states that the appearance, although brief, was very vivid and real. He noticed that Mr. Bessel's face was white and his expression anxious, and, moreover, that his hair was disordered. For a moment Mr. Vincey, in spite of his state of expectation, was too surprised to speak or move, and in that moment it seemed to him as though the figure glanced over its shoulder and incontinently vanished.
You can read it online here. You can listen here:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil is a 2006 drama, a gorgeous film directed by John Curran and starring Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Toby Jones, and Diana Rigg.

It is based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel with the same name, which can be read online. I haven't read the book, but the film inspires me to put it on my to-be-read list. This is the book's 3rd film adaptation.


"When love and duty are one, grace is within you."

I never cry during films, but I did during this one.

The New York Times has a positive review. Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and concludes, "The Painted Veil has the power and intimacy of a timeless love story. By all means, let it sweep you away." Spirituality and Practice calls it "A beautiful and very believable story, set in China in the 1920s, about the personal transformation of a married couple."

Empire Online says it's "Handsomely crafted, with meticulous performances". Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 85%.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Repairer of Reputations

The Repairer of Reputations is an 1895 story by Robert W. Chambers. It is one in a collection of stories, The King in Yellow. Excerpt:
I had walked down that day from Dr. Archer's house on Madison Avenue, where I had been as a mere formality. Ever since that fall from my horse, four years before, I had been troubled at times with pains in the back of my head and neck, but now for months they had been absent, and the doctor sent me away that day saying there was nothing more to be cured in me. It was hardly worth his fee to be told that; I knew it myself. Still I did not grudge him the money. What I minded was the mistake which he made at first. When they picked me up from the pavement where I lay unconscious, and somebody had mercifully sent a bullet through my horse's head, I was carried to Dr. Archer, and he, pronouncing my brain affected, placed me in his private asylum where I was obliged to endure treatment for insanity. At last he decided that I was well, and I, knowing that my mind had always been as sound as his, if not sounder, "paid my tuition" as he jokingly called it, and left. I told him, smiling, that I would get even with him for his mistake, and he laughed heartily, and asked me to call once in a while. I did so, hoping for a chance to even up accounts, but he gave me none, and I told him I would wait.
You can read the story online here. You can hear it here:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a 2017 science fiction film directed by Luc Besson. We had looked forward to it and saw it in the theater. It was fun and very pretty to watch.


Variety calls it an "expansive, expensive adventure whose creativity outweighs its more uneven elements". The Atlantic calls it "a visual sensation that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible." The Guardian describes the plot: "The film is based on a French comic-book series that has been running since the 1960s, and it stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as Valerian and Laureline, sleek and preposterous space agents in the 28th century" and has a negative review.

Esquire closes with this: "There was never a dull moment. Do with that information what you will. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sit in a silent, dark room for a few hours. I need a dull moment." Rolling Stone says, "It's as gorgeous as anything the French filmmaker has made and as empty as a Trump tweet. You either go with it or you don't."

The New York Times titles their review, "‘Valerian’ Is a Rave in Space (but Not Much Fun)" and concludes, "“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” feels as if it were made up on the spot, by someone so delighted by the gaudy genre packaging at his disposal that he lost track of what was supposed to be inside." The Washington Post calls it "little more than meets the eye."

Empire Online concludes, "A wildly ambitious space opera, but also a self-indulgent narrative morass. Sometimes, it seems, creativity can benefit from a few limitations." Hollywood Reporter has a negative review. Roger Ebert's site has a glowing reviewing and says it's "a deliriously entertaining film that finds writer/director Luc Besson swinging for the fences in his efforts to make a weirdo sci-fi epic for the ages and coming up with a virtual home run derby."

Rotten Tomatoes scores from critics illustrates how mixed the reviews are.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Prophetic Pictures

The Prophetic Pictures is an 1837 story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It begins,
"BUT THIS PAINTER!" cried Walter Ludlow, with animation. "He not only excels in his peculiar art, but possesses vast acquirements in all other learning and science. He talks Hebrew with Dr. Mather, and gives lectures in anatomy to Dr. Boylston. In a word, he will meet the best instructed man among us on his own ground. Moreover, he is a polished gentleman--a citizen of the world--yes, a true cosmopolite; for he will speak like a native of each clime and country of the globe except our own forests, whither he is now going. Nor is all this what I most admire in him."

"Indeed!" said Elinor, who had listened with a woman's interest to the description of such a man. "Yet this is admirable enough."

"Surely it is," replied her lover, "but far less so than his natural gift of adapting himself to every variety of character, insomuch that all men--and all women too, Elinor--shall find a mirror of themselves in this wonderful painter. But the greatest wonder is yet to be told."

"Nay, if he have more wonderful attributes than these," said Elinor, laughing, "Boston is a perilous abode for the poor gentleman. Are you telling me of a painter or a wizard?"

"In truth," answered he, "that question might be asked much more seriously than you suppose. They say that he paints not merely a man's features, but his mind and heart. He catches the secret sentiments and passions, and throws them upon the canvas, like sunshine--or perhaps, in the portraits of dark-souled men, like a gleam of infernal fire. It is an awful gift," added Walter, lowering his voice from its tone of enthusiasm. "I shall be almost afraid to sit to him."

"Walter, are you in earnest?" exclaimed Elinor.

"For Heaven's sake, dearest Elinor, do not let him paint the look which you now wear," said her lover, smiling, though rather perplexed. "There: it is passing away now, but when you spoke you seemed frightened to death, and very sad besides. What were you thinking of?"

"Nothing, nothing," answered Elinor hastily. "You paint my face with your own fantasies. Well, come for me tomorrow, and we will visit this wonderful artist."

But when the young man had departed, it cannot be denied that a remarkable expression was again visible on the fair and youthful face of his mistress. It was a sad and anxious look, little in accordance with what should have been the feelings of a maiden on the eve of wedlock. Yet Walter Ludlow was the chosen of her heart.

"A look!" said Elinor to herself. "No wonder that it startled him, if it expressed what I sometimes feel. I know, by my own experience, how frightful a look may be. But it was all fancy. I thought nothing of it at the time--I have seen nothing of it since--I did but dream it."

And she busied herself about the embroidery of a ruff, in which she meant that her portrait should be taken.
You can read it online here. You can listen to it here:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Blade Runner: 2049

Blade Runner: 2049 is a 2017 sequel to the 1982 Blade Runner film. It stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. I love the original and am happy they did such a good job with the sequel.


The New York Times says,
There is a something to think about here, a fair amount to feel and even more to see. Mr. Villeneuve has conspired with the cinematographer, Roger A. Deakins; the production designer, Dennis Gassner; and the special effects team to create zones of strangeness that occasionally rise to the level of sublimity.
The Washington Post says it "honors -and surpasses— the original". The Guardian gives it 5 out of 5 stars. Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and concludes, "Visually immaculate, swirling with themes as heart-rending as they are mind-twisting, 2049 is, without doubt, a good year. And one of 2017’s best."

Roger Ebert's site gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars and says,
while hundreds of writers and filmmakers were inspired by “Blade Runner,” it’s hard to believe any of them could have found a way to expand its legacy as completely as Villenueve does here with a movie that doesn't feel at all repetitive. He’s in no way seeking to improve or replace—the films now work together, enriching each other instead of mimicking. They ask timeless questions and, like all great films, refuse to give you all the answers, allowing viewers to debate and discuss their meaning instead of merely being passive recipients of mindless entertainment.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 88%.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Demie Tasse

Demie Tasse, 1990:

by Arman, who was born in France in 1928 and died at 76 years of age on October 22, 2005. The concept is delightful, I think. He has a page at the Museum of Modern Art. You can read more about him and see photos of his varied work at his website.

I saw this coffee set on display at the Memphis Brooks Museum. The museum opened in 1916 in Overton Park but is considering a relocation to our developing riverfront.

Please join the blog gathering T Stands for Tuesday hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Hanging Stranger

The Hanging Stranger is a short story by Philip K. Dick. It begins,
At five o'clock Ed Loyce washed up, tossed on his hat and coat, got his car out and headed across town toward his TV sales store. He was tired. His back and shoulders ached from digging dirt out of the basement and wheeling it into the back yard. But for a forty-year-old man he had done okay. Janet could get a new vase with the money he had saved; and he liked the idea of repairing the foundations himself.

It was getting dark. The setting sun cast long rays over the scurrying commuters, tired and grim-faced, women loaded down with bundles and packages, students, swarming home from the university, mixing with clerks and businessmen and drab secretaries. He stopped his Packard for a red light and then started it up again. The store had been open without him; he'd arrive just in time to spell the help for dinner, go over the records of the day, maybe even close a couple of sales himself. He drove slowly past the small square of green in the center of the street, the town park. There were no parking places in front of LOYCE TV SALES AND SERVICE. He cursed under his breath and swung the car in a U-turn. Again he passed the little square of green with its lonely drinking fountain and bench and single lamppost.

From the lamppost something was hanging. A shapeless dark bundle, swinging a little with the wind. Like a dummy of some sort. Loyce rolled down his window and peered out. What the hell was it? A display of some kind? Sometimes the Chamber of Commerce put up displays in the square.
You can read it online here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse is a 1967 Brazilian horror film directed by José Mojica Marins, who is also known as "Coffin Joe". It is the middle film in the Coffin Joe trilogy, the first being "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul". You can watch the first one here.

via Youtube:

Senses of Cinema closes a positive review with this:
There may be a riotous celebration of carnality, and it’s part of the thrill, but there is also a dark nihilism at play that openly criticises all levels of society, from the superstitious villagers and their reliance on faith and religion, to Coffin Joe’s megalomania as he becomes drunk on his own sense of personal power fuelled by a knowledge that is deeply flawed.
Classic-Horror says it "manages to be something unique and special." Moria has a 3-star review. 1000 Misspent Hours says, "Watching it is like eavesdropping on somebody’s nightmares— it may not make sense, but this peek into a tortured psyche is pretty compelling nevertheless."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Restaurant 42

This restaurant not only brought The Daughter and Son-In-Law food, but the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Nightmare in Wax

Nightmare in Wax is a 1969 horror film starring Cameron Mitchell. I do love Cameron Mitchell, which is the reason I watched this. He plays the disfigured wax museum owner with great flair. It's worth watching for his performance alone.

Moria has a review. Horrorpedia has links to reviews and some photos.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cold Hand in Mine

Cold Hand in Mine is a 1976 book of weird fiction short stories by Robert Aickman. I don't generally like short stories, but Aickman's are unusual. from the back of the book:
Aickman's "strange stories" (his preferred term) are constructed immaculately, the neuroses of his characters painted in subtle shades. He builds dread by the steady accrual of realistic detail, until the reader realises that the protagonist is heading towards their doom as if in a dream.

Cold Hand in Mine, first published in 1975, stands as one of Aikman's finest collections and contains eight tales including "Pages from a Young Girl's Journal" which won the World Fantasy Award.
My favorites from this collection are "The Real Road to the Church" which begins,
But was that the true meaning? Le vrai chemin de l'nglise? The overtones of symbolism and conversion seemed clear enough, but Rosa still rather wondered whether the significance of the phrase was not wholly topographical. One could so easily read far too much into the traditional usages of simple people.

Probably all that was meant was the simplest and directest route (and perhaps the ancientest); the alternative to the new (but no longer very new) and metalled main road that wound along the borders of properties, instead of creeping through them. Though by now, Rosa reflected, all roads had begun to barge through once again, and no longer went courteously around and about. Very much so: that, she thought, was symbolic, if anything was. Of everything: of the changed world outside and also of her own questionable place in it. But when one began to think in that way, all things become symbolic of all other things. Not that that was in itself untrue: though it was only one truth, of course. And when one admitted that there were many truths existing concurrently, upon which of them could one possibly be thought to stand firm - let alone, to rest? Almost certainly, the simple people who used that phrase, gave no thought at all to its meaning. It was a convention only, as are the left hand side and the right. Conventions are, indeed, all that shield us from the shivering void, though often they do so but poorly and desperately
and "The Same Dog" which begins,
Though there were three boys, there were also twelve long years between Hilary Brigstock and his immediately elder brother, Gilbert. On the other hand, there was only one year and one month between Gilbert and the future head of the family, Roger.

Hilary could not remember when first the suggestion entered his ears that his existence was the consequence of a "mistake". Possibly he had in any case hit upon the idea already, within his own head. Nor did his Christian name help very much: people always supposed it to be the name of a girl, even though his father asserted loudly on all possible occasions that the idea was a complete mistake, a product of etymological and historical ignorance, and of typical modern sloppiness.

And his mother was dead. He was quite unable to remember her, however hard he tried; ashe from time to time did. Because his father never remarried, having as clear and definite vi-ews about women as he had about many other things, Hilary grew up against an almost enti-rely male background.
The Short Review says it "is one of the author’s best known books, featuring eight classy stories which offer a fascinating showcase of Aickman’s cryptic but enticing narrative style" and concludes, "Lovers of contemporary dark fiction should not miss this splendid book, a fully enjoyable , unique reading experience providing full evidence that life’s dark corners are much more scary than monsters, zombies and werewolves."

Kirkus Reviews closes their review with this:
Aickman writes far richer, subtler prose than most super-horror practitioners; in place of terrifying climaxes and satisfyingly releasing denouements (which many will miss), he offers inventions that puzzle--and sometimes confuse--from beginning to end and don't really frighten unless and until their unanswered questions creep back into consciousness.
Horror News says,
Discovering Aickman delivers that kind of virgin-territory thrill, albeit a more genteel experience. Aickman’s stories aren’t about zombies and demons and gore and blood. You certainly won’t be screaming in terror. But you may look a little paler after reading. And he’ll certainly take you to the dark places in the mind that you’re not sure you really want to visit.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Haunted Gold

Haunted Gold is a 1932 western starring John Wayne. It's less than an hour long, and I would suggest it if it were available free. It's not worth paying for.


TCM has some information.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

May Morris

May Morris, the younger daughter of William Morris and artist in her own right, died on this date in 1938 at age 76. In the photo above she is seated on the ground next to her mother in the hammock. I love the cup and saucer in the foreground and offer this post as part of the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Here she is as a child in about 1865 with her mother:

She's 4th from the right with her parents and sister in this 1874 photo:

She wrote a book on decorative needlework in 1893 which can be read online. She was best know for her embroidery, and images of her work are available online using a simple google search. She bequeathed art to the Victoria and Albert Museum on her death. I offer these that particularly struck me as I was reading about this artist:

A Garden Piece, 1938:

Hanging panel:

Maids of Honor:

Book binding:

Honeysuckle II:

Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth where you'll find a warm welcome.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Machinist

The Machinist is a 2004 psychological thriller film directed by Brad Anderson and starring Christian Bale. It's painful to see Bale so thin -he's almost unrecognizable- and his character's pain and confusion throughout is hard to watch. But even though it's disturbing to watch, it's a film I'm glad I've seen.


The New York Times has a mixed review and calls it "an expertly manipulated exercise in psychological horror". Rolling Stone says, "Director Brad Anderson tightens the screws of suspense, but it's Bale's gripping, beyond-the-call-of-duty performance that holds you in thrall."

Empire Online concludes, "It looks and feels the business, both in Bale's bone-bag of a body and the morphine-dosed-Kubrick vibe, but it's more a tightly wrought slither through pastures old than fresh investigation into the claws of madness." Roger Ebert gives it 3 stars and says, "The director Brad Anderson, working from a screenplay by Scott Kosar, wants to convey a state of mind, and he and Bale do that with disturbing effectiveness." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 77%.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Red House

The Red House is a 1947 Edward G. Robinson film, also starring Judith Anderson and Julie London. Delmer Daves directs. Priceless, and well worth watching. But then it has Edward G. Robinson in it. Dame Judith Anderson and Julie London are just icing on the cake.

via Youtube:

"Every living soul has its Ox Head Woods."

The New York Times in a review from the time of the film's initial release says, "For this tenebrous tale of an abandoned house set deep in a tangled and forbidding forest and its impact on the lives of a group of people living close by, is told intelligently and with mounting tension. ... the picture's cumulative effect still is as eerie as a well-spun ghost story."

DVD Talk says, "The Red House is an intense, somewhat off-kilter suspense story that promises a dangerous secret and delivers a decidedly "unhealthy" revelation." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 80%.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive is an award-winning 2001 mystery film. David Lynch directs. It has Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Ann Miller, Robert Forster, and Michael J. Anderson.

Indescribable. It has to be seen.


The Guardian has an article on how to understand the film. The BBC explains why it's the greatest movie since the year 2000. Salon answers all our questions. Vulture explains why it should be considered a great horror movie.

Roger Ebert considered it a great movie, 4 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 83%.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Blood and Black Lace

Blood and Black Lace is a 1964 Mario Bava film starring Cameron Mitchell, both favorites of mine. An early and influential giallo film, it makes for interesting watching for that alone. The dubbing is odd. The music is wonderful. If you like this sub-genre you must see this!

Slant Magazine calls it "influential and still extraordinary".

Moria calls it "one of the essential films in the cult of Italian director Mario Bava". 1000 Misspent Hours says, "Even today, this movie has bite." DVD Talk calls it a "seminal masterpiece" and says, "Blood and Black Lace is a prototypical film worth owning for anyone who appreciates this subsect of film history."

Roger Ebert's site has an article addressing the film in light of the sexual politics of serial murder of women. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 85%.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Frankenstein (2004)

Frankenstein is a 2004 two-episode miniseries, an adaptation of the book. This is a faithful adaptation but a bit slow getting started. Notable actors in supporting roles are William Hurt, as Frankenstein's academic mentor, and Donald Sutherland, as captain of the ship trapped in ice in the Arctic.


The book itself is readable online.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grim Prairie Tales

Grim Prairie Tales is a 1990 western horror anthology film with four tales told around the isolated campfire. James Earl Jones comes upon a skittish eastern-bound Brad Dourif huddled over a lonely campfire, and gradually the stories unfold. It's a bit awkward, but it's fine enough if you like anthology films.

The L.A. Times says it is "is too slight to be able to recommend it, but it does have its moments." The NYT has a negative review. Time Out says, "The four tales are ingeniously varied (and intelligently keyed to the character of the teller and the situation around the camp-fire); but it's the writing of the framing story and the two lead performances that make the film so special." Moria says, "It certainly uses a much more substantial framing story than the average anthology film. Indeed, for once –perhaps the only time ever in an anthology film– the framing story is better than the stories it holds together. The sequence also has two of filmdom’s great over-actors, James Earl Jones and Brad Dourif, on fine form as they play off one another."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

J&G Pizza and Steakhouse

J&G Pizza and Steakhouse is in Manchester, TN, and close to the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park which was part of our vacation this past summer. We passed this sign:

and pulled in. We were greeted by pleasant staff and shown to a table. The interior has a fun look:

This was a great find. I'm sure they do a strong repeat business, as the food was wonderful (I had the lasagna, here's the menu),

and the service couldn't be beat.

Summer is over, though the heat is still hanging on. Highs are still around 90F, so I'm still able to spend a lot of time on the patio.

I like the heat; it's cold I don't like. But I appreciate seasonal changes and look forward to that finally happening.

Please join the folks sharing a beverage for the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Night of the Blood Beast

Night of the Blood Beast is a 1958 science fiction horror movie produced by Roger Corman. An astronaut's body is returned to Earth after an aborted mission. Is he dead? Maybe....

Unless you're a fan of 50s horror science fiction, I wouldn't bother with this one. On the other hand it's only an hour long, so it won't cost you much time to try it.

via Youtube:

1000 Misspent Hours says, "So many good ideas, so little follow-through". Wild Realm Reviews calls it "an even-worse-than-expected Roger Corman producton". DVD Talk calls it "a surprisingly uninteresting show".

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Call of Cthulhu

The Call of Cthulhu is an award-winning 2005 horror silent made in the style common in 1926 when the H.P. Lovecraft story on which it is based was first published. The story can be read online or you can have it read to you at Youtube. I discovered Lovecraft in high school, and it's a pleasure worth exploring.


HorrorNews.net concludes a positive review with this: "It should go without saying that, for Lovecraft buffs, this film is a must-see. It’s also interesting and entertaining enough for anyone into movies, generally. It’s creepy, melodramatic, a little silly (on purpose), and, most of all, Lovecraftian. And you know what: “The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be!”"

Bloody Good Horror says, "As far as modern horror goes, "The Call of Cthulhu" stands out for all of the obvious reasons...". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Maneater of Hydra

Maneater of Hydra is a 1967 Spanish-German co-production starring Cameron Mitchell as the mad scientist. If you like the old-style mad scientist movie, then this one is one. The music is dreadful, and the voices used for the dubbing are oddly chosen.

Reviews are scarce.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Horror Western Films

I get a kick out of the horror western movie sub-genre. I'd define it as western at root but with horror elements, like a vampire, or alien creatures, or zombies, etc. Or you could consider them horror films with a western-themed setting. This doesn't include science fiction westerns, like Cowboys and Aliens. I've seen these, in order of year of their release:

1937 Riders of the Whistling Skull

1956 The Beast of Hollow Mountain

1959 Curse of the Undead

1964 7 Faces of Dr. Lao

1973 High Plains Drifter

1983 Eyes of Fire

1985 Pale Rider

1996 From Dusk Till Dawn

2006 Dead Man's Bounty

2007 Sukiyaki Western Django

2008 The Burrowers

2009 Blood Creek

2010 Jonah Hex

2011 Priest

2013 Dead in Tombstone

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Shining (book)

I've seen this movie more than once and liked it but had never read the book. Now that I've read the book I realize how far short the film falls. Not that the film isn't an impressive film, but the book is much better. The Shining is a 1977 horror novel by Stephen King.

from the back of the book:
The Overlook Hotel is more than just a home-away-from-home for the Torrance family. For Jack, Wendy, and their young son, Danny, it is a place where past horrors come to life. And where those gifted with the shining do battle with the darkest evils. Stephen King's classic thriller is one of the most powerfully imagined novels of our time.
The Guardian explores the differences between the book and the novie. Horror Novel Reviews says, "Let me say from the start that I consider The Shining (Stephen King’s third published novel) to be the scariest book I’ve ever read." Kirkus Reviews describes it as "Back-prickling".

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Curse of the Undead

Curse of the Undead is a 1959 horror western, a much underappreciated sub-genre. This one stars Eric Fleming, Michael Pate, Kathleen Crowley, and John Hoyt. Not great cinema, but this is a solid movie.

In this version the idea that a person becomes a vampire by being bitten by one is scrapped.

Fifties Westerns says, "Curse Of The Undead deserves to be seen as more than a curio. A unique blending of the Western and horror film, it doesn’t cave to the cliches of either — and it’s a better movie for it." Horrorpedia has a plot summary, screen shots, and links to reviews.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Black Coffee

Black Coffee:

released 17 years ago yesterday by the English-Canadian group All Saints.

lyric excerpt:
Brush your teeth
And pour a cup of black coffee out
I love to watch you do that every day
The little things that you do
Please join us as we share a drink of your choosing with the bloggers at the T Stands for Tuesday weekly gathering.

Monday, October 02, 2017

The Village

The Village is a 2004 M. Night Shyamalan film starring Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, and Brendan Gleeson. The inhabitants of a village are separated from "the towns" by a woods where dangerous creatures live. Fear of the creatures keeps the villagers from venturing from their clearing. This film got wildly differing reviews, but I liked it. The atmosphere was wonderful, and the characters were sympathetic. There's a polarizing "twist" ending, but it didn't bother me.

The Atlantic has a negative review, as does the New York Times.

Vulture sees it as a parable about the rise of the conservatism that gave us Trump, concluding with this:
just as the elders shouldn’t have pretended that the past was free of the problems of the present, so should we in the present not pretend that the past is dead. (As Faulkner reminds us, “it’s not even past.”) We’ve yet to stop trying to use the myth of the “bad color” monster to make America great again, though The Village offers the hope that the kids will know — and vote — better.
Common Sense Media gives it 4 out of 5 stars. MTV says, "There's allegory to be found within the twist — oppressive rule through fear in the name of safety cannot prevent violence and death, even in the most extreme of settings — but a shoehorned moral cannot heal the severe whiplash the audience just experienced." Empire Online closes by saying, "The denouement will infuriate and enthral, but Shyamalan's latest is made with elegance."

The Village Voice calls it "the best studio horror flick in recent years". Spirituality and Practice praises it as "A timely and spiritually rich thriller about the dangers of a fear-based culture and the soul-stirring powers of self-sacrificing love." Rolling Stone says, "Shyamalan gives the film a metaphorical weight that goes deeper than goose bumps. He may find himself linked with Michael Moore as a political provocateur."

Moria says, "The Village is easily M. Night Shyamalan’s best film since The Sixth Sense". Roger Ebert hated it. Rotten Tomatoes had a critics score of 43% and an audience score of 57%.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Unnatural Causes

Unnatural Causes is the 3rd entry in P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh detective novels. I like the main character in this series and always enjoy the books. I've been reading these for years, working my way through them as I come across them in the bookstore or get them as gifts. This particular story takes place during the Autumn.

from the back of the book:
Maurice Seton was a famous mystery writer -but no murder he ever invented was more grisly than his own death. When his corpse is found in a drifting dinghy with both hands cut off at the wrists, ripples of horror spread among his bizarre circle of friends. Now it's up to brilliant Scotland Yard inspector Adam Dalgliesh and his extraordinary aunt to uncover the shocking truth behind this writer's death sentence before the plot takes another murderous turn.
a quote that struck me:
Autumn had never been his favorite season, but in the moment which followed the stopping of the engine he wouldn't have changed this mellow peace for all the keener sensitivities of spring. The heather was beginning to fade now but the second flowering of the gorse was as thick and golden as the first richness of May. Beyond it lay the sea, streaked with purple, azure and brown, and to the south the mist-hung marshes of the bird reserve added their gentler greens and blues. The air smelt of heather and woodsmoke, the inevitable and evocative smells of autumn

Patheos says, "I have come to the conclusion that if you have not tried any James at all, you will find ‘Unnatural Causes’ a very good place to have a first go".

I have blog posts on these:

#2 A Mind to Murder
#4 Shroud for a Nightingale
#5 The Black Tower
#7 A Taste for Death
#8 Devices and Desires
#9 Original Sin
#12 The Murder Room
#13 The Lighthouse

and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, which features an appearance by Dalgliesh.