Monday, September 30, 2019

Horror Movies List


This is a link to my horror movies list. These are (mostly) things I've seen and have blog posts on. They range from 1896 to 2018. The list includes short animated comedies, horror westerns, foreign films, and more from a variety of types and sub-genres. Many have the full film embedded in my posts. I'd invite you to check them out.

I'd particularly appreciate it if you'd let me know if you find broken links or videos that aren't there any more. I try to keep this list current, but my best efforts aren't enough. The comments are still open on those posts, so feel free to offer corrections there.

I'd also especially appreciate any suggestions for more movies I could watch. Thanks!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a 2014 American-made Persian language vampire movie. Quite unusual. I'm glad I've seen this one, and I think it's well worth looking for.

trailer:



The Guardian calls it "exhilarating". The New Yorker says "The fablelike drama offers a powerful symbolic display of feminine power and outlaw charm..."

Roger Ebert's site gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars and calls it "a fresh and exciting re-imagining of a well-worn oft-told genre." It has a 96% critics consensus score at Rotten Tomatoes .

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Under the Shadow

Under the Shadow is a 2016 internationally co-produced Persian-language supernatural horror film written and directed by Iranian-born Babak Anvari as his directorial debut. I watched it dubbed in English on Netflix during our free trial month. The Djinn are real.

trailer:


The British Film Institute says,
For this unholy brew of the domestic, the political and the irrational, Anvari’s film has been drawing ‘Farhadi meets The Babadook’ comparisons since it premiered at Sundance in early 2016. Netflix had already snapped it up even before the premiere buzz was able to anoint Under the Shadow the latest in a recent string of breakout indie horror titles.
Variety calls it
a satisfyingly tense and atmospheric thriller set in a haunted Tehran apartment during the terrifying final days of the Iran-Iraq War. Slyly merging a familiar but effective genre exercise with a grim allegory of female oppression, Babak Anvari’s resourceful writing-directing debut grounds its premise in something at once vaguely political and ineluctably sinister.
The Guardian says the film "evokes [the director's] fear-ridden childhood in Iran – and is being hailed as a horror classic." Roger Ebert's site gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says, "In a year filled with great first features, add "Under the Shadow" to the list." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 99%.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger was a 1950s-era television serial starring Richard Crane in the title role. There were 39 episodes, some of which contained complete stories while others were written so as to tell a story over the course of 3 consecutive episodes. They're dated, as you might expect, but great fun if you can get past the oppressive sexism. "Knit me a sweater"?

Season 1, Episode 1, Beyond The Curtain Of Space Chapter 1:


Chapter 2:



Chapter 3:



The others are available in order on Youtube at this link.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Pyramid of Mud


The Pyramid of Mud is the 22nd book in the Inspector Montalbano mystery series by Andrea Camilleri. I've read these in publication order because the characters age and develop over time.

from the back of the book:
Italy's favorite detective uncovers mafia ties in the world of construction.

On a gloomy morning in Vigata, a call rouses Inspector Montalbano from a nightmare. A man named Giugiu Nicotra has been found dead in the skeletal workings of a construction site, a place now entombed by a sea of mud from recent days of rain and floods. Shot in the back, Nicotra appears to have fled into a water supply system tunnel. The investigation gets off to a slow start, but all the evidence points to the world of construction and public contracts, a world just as slimy and impenetrable as mud. As he wades through the case, Montalbano is obsessed by one thought: that by going to die in the tunnel, was Nicotra trying to tell him something?
Kirkus Reviews concludes, "The usual humor and strong personalities we expect from Camilleri will be missed by fans in this book, but the more intricate portrait of the detective will make the pages turn anyway." Publishers Weekly closes with this: "Despite feeling his age, Montalbano manages to arrive at a solution to the puzzle with his customary cunning, humor, and fearlessness. Readers will hope he lives forever."

I've read the earlier books in the series:
1. The Shape of Water
2. The Terra-Cotta Dog
3. The Snack Thief
4. Voice of the Violin
5. Excursion to Tindari
6. The Smell of Night
7. Rounding the Mark
8. The Patience of the Spider
9. The Paper Moon
10. August Heat
11. The Wings of the Sphinx
12. The Track of Sand
13. The Potter's Field
14. The Age of Doubt
15. Dance of the Seagull
16. Treasure Hunt
17. Angelica's Smile
18. A Game of Mirrors
19. A Beam of Light
20. A Voice in the Night
21. A Nest of Vipers

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Moonrise

Moonrise is a 1948 crime film, sometimes classed as a film noir. It's directed by Frank Borzage and stars Dane Clark, Gail Russell, and Ethel Barrymore. Harry Morgan, Harry Carey, Jr., and Lloyd Bridges are also in this.



Slant Magazine says, "Moonrise is less a violent film than a film about violence—one that’s occupied, in particular, with the lingering aftereffects of capital punishment. The film’s violent acts are intricately linked, each perpetuating the next in an expansive chain reaction." Noir of the Week calls it "a standout among noir's lesser-known B-pictures and is one of the hardest to classify. A noir film you can argue about over a pitcher of cold beer (or two)."

Criterion says, "With this postwar comeback, Borzage recaptured the inspiration that had animated his long and audacious early career, marrying the lyrical force of his romantic sensibility with the psychological anguish of film noir, in a stunning vindication of faith in the power of love." Senses of Cinema concludes, "With powerful performances from his lead actors, particularly Dane Clark in arguably the best role of his career, Moonrise was a romance after Borzage’s heart, with an additional layer of psychological intensity. It remains, justifiably, a critically acclaimed high point in his career."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Where Zombies Come From

It's getting close to October when a crone's heart turns to horror movies. It helps when you're watching these movies to have a basic understanding of the terms, and "zombie" is one many people don't seem to know the history of. When I came across this 7-minute video essay Where Zombies Come From:



at Open Culture, I thought I'd share. It covers the history in film quite well, I think. I mean, there are few of us who don't have 7 minutes, right? Perhaps while we're drinking our morning cuppa? (Please join me at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.)


The Open Culture link provides a helpful written overview of the history of the term, its origin and how it has developed in film, and embeds of a few of the movies. I've seen some of the movies myself over the years, and you can see my blog posts on the zombie and zombie-related films at the links below:

1930s:
White Zombie (1932)
Revolt of the Zombies (1936)

1940s:
King of the Zombies (1941)
I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
Voodoo Man (1944)

1950s:
Creature with the Atom Brain (1955)
Teenage Zombies (1959)

1960s:
I Eat Your Skin (1964)
The Plague of Zombies (1966)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)

1970s:
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972)
Horror Express (1973)
Messiah of Evil (1973)
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)
Shock Waves (1977)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

1980s:
Oasis of the Zombies (1981)
I Was a Teenage Zombie (1987)
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

1990s:
Cemetery Man (1994)

2000s:
28 Days Later (2002)
Miner's Massacre (2002)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Planet Terror (2007)
[REC] (2007)
Outpost (2008)

2010s:
The Dead (2010)
Gallowwalkers (2012)
Outpost: Black Sun (2012)
Cargo (2013 short film)
Frankenstein's Army (2013)
Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz (2013)
Train to Busan (2016)

*******

It's so odd with the ATCs, but when I only had scrap paper and cheap ribbon I made these things with wild abandon, but the mere presence of pretty new treasures to make them with is intimidating me lol. I'm being like the people who save all their decent clothes "for nice". This has been hard to shake, but I'm forging ahead and will use these lovely new possibilities in making ATCs. Any Day Now.



Monday, September 23, 2019

A Walk to Kobe

image from Granta

A Walk to Kobe is a 2011 short story by Haruki Murakami. You can read it online here. It begins,
In May of 1997, two years after the massive earthquake in Kobe, I hit upon the idea of taking a leisurely, solitary walk from Nishinomiya to Sannomiya in downtown Kobe. I happened to be staying in Kyoto at the time for work, and continued on to Nishinomiya. On the map it’s about fifteen kilometres west from there to Kobe. Not exactly a stone’s throw away, but not such a gruelling distance, and besides, I’m a pretty confident walker.

I was born in Kyoto, but soon afterwards my family moved to Shukugawa, a neighbourhood in Nishinomiya. And not long after that we moved again, closer to Kobe, to Ashiya, where I spent most of my teenage years. My high school was in the hills above the city, so naturally downtown Kobe was where I headed when I wanted to have a good time, specifically around Sannomiya. I became a typical Hanshin-kan boy, the term referring to the area that lies between Osaka and Kobe. Back then –and probably nowadays as well– this was a great place to grow up. It’s quiet and laid-back, with an open, relaxed feeling about it, and it’s blessed with the ocean, mountains and a large city nearby. I loved going to concerts, hunting for cheap paperbacks in used bookstores, hanging out in jazz cafes, and enjoying Art Theatre Guild new-wave films. My favourite look at the time? VAN jackets, of course.

But then I moved to Tokyo for college, got married and started working, and seldom travelled back to this strip of land between Osaka and Kobe. There were times I’d return, of course, but as soon as I finished what I had to do I’d always hop on the bullet train and head straight back to Tokyo. I had a busy life, and I spent a lot of time abroad. And there were a couple of personal reasons as well. Some people are constantly being pulled back to their home town, while others feel like they can never go back. In most cases it’s as if fate separates the two groups, and it has little to do with how strong your feelings are towards the place. Like it or not, I seem to belong to the second group.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Miner's Massacre

Miner's Massacre (or Curse of the Forty-niner) is a 2002 horror western starring Karen Black. It is what it is, and I imagine this is more fun if you like slasher films. I'm not a fan and found this tedious so didn't finish it. So many movies, so little time.

You can watch it online here at this site or here at Youtube. Here's a trailer:





Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Case of the Pocket Diary Found in the Snow


The Case of the Pocket Diary Found in the Snow is an 1890 detective novella by Auguste Groner. This is the first appearance of Joseph Muller, who was the first serial police detective in German crime literature. According to the story's introduction, Muller was
a small, slight, plain-looking man, of indefinite age, and of much humbleness of mien. A naturally retiring, modest disposition, and two external causes are the reasons for Muller’s humbleness of manner, which is his chief characteristic. One cause is the fact that in early youth a miscarriage of justice gave him several years in prison, an experience which cast a stigma on his name and which made it impossible for him, for many years after, to obtain honest employment. But the world is richer, and safer, by Muller’s early misfortune. For it was this experience which threw him back on his own peculiar talents for a livelihood, and drove him into the police force. Had he been able to enter any other profession, his genius might have been stunted to a mere pastime, instead of being, as now, utilised for the public good.

Joseph Muller’s character is a strange mixture. The kindest-hearted man in the world, he is a human bloodhound when once the lure of the trail has caught him. He scarcely eats or sleeps when the chase is on, he does not seem to know human weakness nor fatigue, in spite of his frail body. Once put on a case his mind delves and delves until it finds a clue, then something awakes within him, a spirit akin to that which holds the bloodhound nose to trail, and he will accomplish the apparently impossible, he will track down his victim when the entire machinery of a great police department seems helpless to discover anything.
You can read it online here. It begins:
A quiet winter evening had sunk down upon the great city. The clock in the old clumsy church steeple of the factory district had not yet struck eight, when the side door of one of the large buildings opened and a man came out into the silent street.

It was Ludwig Amster, one of the working-men in the factory, starting on his homeward way. It was not a pleasant road, this street along the edge of the city. The town showed itself from its most disagreeable side here, with malodorous factories, rickety tenements, untidy open stretches and dumping grounds offensive both to eye and nostril.

Even by day the street that Amster took was empty; by night it was absolutely quiet and dark, as dark as were the thoughts of the solitary man. He walked along, brooding over his troubles. Scarcely an hour before he had been discharged from the factory because of his refusal to submit to the injustice of his foreman.

The yellow light of the few lanterns show nothing but high board walls and snow drifts, stone heaps, and now and then the remains of a neglected garden. Here and there a stunted tree or a wild shrub bent their twigs under the white burden which the winter had laid upon them. Ludwig Amster, who had walked this street for several years, knew his path so well that he could take it blindfolded. The darkness did not worry him, but he walked somewhat more slowly than usual, for he knew that under the thin covering of fresh-fallen snow there lay the ice of the night before. He walked carefully, watching for the slippery places.

He had been walking about half an hour, perhaps, when he came to a cross street. Here he noticed the tracks of a wagon, the trace still quite fresh, as the slowly falling flakes did not yet cover it. The tracks led out towards the north, out on to the hilly, open fields.

Amster was somewhat astonished. It was very seldom that a carriage came into this neighbourhood, and yet these narrow wheel-tracks could have been made only by an equipage of that character. The heavy trucks which passed these roads occasionally had much wider wheels. But Amster was to find still more to astonish him.

In one corner near the cross-roads stood a solitary lamp-post. The light of the lamp fell sharply on the snow, on the wagon tracks, and—on something else besides.

Amster halted, bent down to look at it, and shook his head as if in doubt.

A number of small pieces of glass gleamed up at him and between them, like tiny roses, red drops of blood shone on the white snow. All this was a few steps to one side of the wagon tracks.

“What can have happened here—here in this weird spot, where a cry for help would never be heard? where there would be no one to bring help?”

So Amster asked himself, but his discovery gave him no answer. His curiosity was aroused, however, and he wished to know more. He followed up the tracks and saw that the drops of blood led further on, although there was no more glass. The drops could still be seen for a yard further, reaching out almost to the board fence that edged the sidewalk. Through the broken planks of this fence the rough bare twigs of a thorn bush stretched their brown fingers. On the upper side of the few scattered leaves there was snow, and blood.

Amster’s wide serious eyes soon found something else. Beside the bush there lay a tiny package. He lifted it up. It was a small, light, square package, wrapped in ordinary brown paper. Where the paper came together it was fastened by two little lumps of black bread, which were still moist. He turned the package over and shook his head again. On the other side was written, in pencil, the lettering uncertain, as if scribbled in great haste and in agitation, the sentence, “Please take this to the nearest police station.”

The words were like a cry for help, frozen on to the ugly paper. Amster shivered; he had a feeling that this was a matter of life and death.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Nightmare Alley

Nightmare Alley is a 1947 film noir starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell. I remember the first time I saw this film was on television in one of those old movie blocks (weekday afternoon? weekend late night, maybe?), and as a child I found it shocking. It's still shocking.



The New York Times review from the time of the film's original release says, "despite some fine and intense acting by Mr. Power and others, this film traverses distateful dramatic ground...". The Guardian gives it 4 out of 5 stars and describes it as "an authentically bilious look at the world and its morals".

DVD Talk opens with this:
Flush from his success with The Razor's Edge, Tyrone Power lobbied Darryl F. Zanuck to play the lead role in this creepy, very anti-glamorous movie about carnival con games, fake mentalism and predatory spiritualism. The film abounds with unpalatable people and unpleasant ideas and its sordid carny background seems authentic. Even more disturbing is its very noir atmosphere of moral defeat and universal venality. In other words, Nightmare Alley is one special movie.
Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "A dark, rough and grubby -but enjoyable nonetheless- slice of doomsaying from the ascendent years of film noir." The critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes is 100%.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Deep Range

image from Galactic Central

The Deep Range is a 1954 short story by Arthur C. Clarke. It was the basis for his 1957 novel by the same name. You can read the short story online here. It begins,
There was a killer loose on the range. A 'copter patrol, 500 miles off Greenland, had seen the great corpse staining the sea crimson as it wallowed in the waves. Within seconds, the intricate warning system had been alerted: men were plotting circles and moving counters on the North Atlantic chart -and Don Burley was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he dropped silently down from the twenty-fathom line.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things is a 1972 comedy horror movie. Campy, and fun enough.



1000 Misspent Hours says,
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things was one of Clark’s earliest movies, and while it’s pretty obvious that he didn’t really know what he was doing at the time, it’s also plain enough that there’s a spark of talent driving this film. Beyond that, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things was to the best of my knowledge the first North American zombie film inspired by George Romero
Million Monkey Theater has a lengthy plot description and screenshots and says,
It’s certainly slower going than horror films made today but the buildup is spooky and when the zombies finally crawl from their graves it careens towards the genuinely creepy conclusion at a brisk pace. It’s clear that everyone involved did their best to make as good a film as they could and but for a bigger budget and a couple of rewrites this could have been a true horror classic.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Little Journey

A Little Journey is a 1951 short story by Ray Bradbury. You can read it online here or here. It begins,
There were two important things—one, that she was very old; two, that Mr. Thirkell was taking her to God. For hadn't he patted her hand and said: "Mrs. Bellowes, we'll take off into space in my rocket, and go to find Him together."

And that was how it was going to be. Oh, this wasn't like any other group Mrs. Bellowes had ever joined. In her fervor to light a path for her delicate, tottering feet, she had struck matches down dark alleys, and found her way to Hindu mystics who floated their flickering, starry eyelashes over crystal balls. She had walked on the meadow paths with ascetic Indian philosophers imported by daughters-in-spirit of Madame Blavatsky. She had made pilgrimages to California's stucco jungles to hunt the astrological seer in his natural habitat. She had even consented to signing away the rights to one of her homes in order to be taken into the shouting order of a temple of amazing evangelists who had promised her golden smoke, crystal fire, and the great soft hand of God coming to bear her home.

None of these people had ever shaken Mrs. Bellowes' faith, even when she saw them sirened away in a black wagon in the night, or discovered their pictures, bleak and unromantic, in the morning tabloids. The world had roughed them up and locked them away because they knew too much, that was all.

And then, two weeks ago, she had seen Mr. Thirkell's advertisement in New York City:

COME TO MARS!

Stay at the Thirkell Restorium for one week. And then,
on into space on the greatest adventure life can offer!

Send for Free Pamphlet: "Nearer My God To Thee."

Excursion rates. Round trip slightly lower.

"Round trip," Mrs. Bellowes had thought. "But who would come back after seeing Him?"

And so she had bought a ticket and flown off to Mars and spent seven mild days at Mr. Thirkell's Restorium, the building with the sign on it which flashed: THIRKELL'S ROCKET TO HEAVEN! She had spent the week bathing in limpid waters and erasing the care from her tiny bones, and now she was fidgeting, ready to be loaded into Mr. Thirkell's own special private rocket, like a bullet, to be fired on out into space beyond Jupiter and Saturn and Pluto. And thus—who could deny it?—you would be getting nearer and nearer to the Lord. How wonderful! Couldn't you just feel Him drawing near? Couldn't you just sense His breath, His scrutiny, His Presence?

"Here I am," said Mrs. Bellowes, "an ancient rickety elevator, ready to go up the shaft. God need only press the button."

Now, on the seventh day, as she minced up the steps of the Restorium, a number of small doubts assailed her.

*******

I have begun playing with ATCs again but have nothing to share this week. I'll be drinking some French press coffee in an autumnal cup:


while I visit with the other T Stands for Tuesday bloggers.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Day of the Outlaw

Day of the Outlaw is a 1959 western about a feud between cattlemen and homesteaders. A traditional range war film. This one stars Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, Tina Louise, Alan Marshal, Elisha Cook Jr, Larry Teter, and Dabbs Greer. David Nelson is also in it.


The Telegraph calls it "a mesmerising Western that continually redefines what heroism might mean". TCM has an overview. Great Western Movies calls it "A stark and adult western with some noir flavor" and "This excellent western rises above the usual formulas".

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Summer Avenue Thrift 42


This is on the front of a boarded-up building on a street known for its thrift stores.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Fading Summer Patio

We're still having highs in the 90s, but the season is definitely turning to Autumn.



Here's what the locusts are sounding like this year:


The hummingbirds still come to the Honeysuckle, the Pentas, and the feeder:



but the flowers are fading.




The purple basil and the mint are looking scraggly:


We had some young cardinals adopt our feeder last month:


but they've grown so they look almost as fully-colored as the adults.

We haven't had as many butterflies this year, but we get the occasional grasshopper and katydid:


We enjoy spending time out on on the patio


except in the wintertime, but even then it's a nice view to look out on.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Space: 1999

Space: 1999 is a 1977-79 TV series starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. I watched this first-run, but it seems no one else did. I always looked forward to the next episode and was disappointed when it was cancelled. From Wikipedia:
The premise of Space: 1999 centres on the plight of the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, a scientific research centre on the Moon. Humanity had been storing its nuclear waste in vast disposal sites on the far side of the Moon, but when an unknown form of electromagnetic radiation is detected, the accumulated waste reaches critical mass and causes a massive thermonuclear explosion on 13 September 1999. The force of the blast propels the Moon like an enormous booster rocket, hurling it out of Earth orbit and into deep space at colossal speed, thus stranding the 311 personnel stationed on Alpha. The runaway Moon, in effect, becomes the "spacecraft" on which the protagonists travel, searching for a new home.
Season 1, episode 1:



The other episodes are randomly available. If you like this one, you'll like the rest.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Grass


Grass is a 1989 science fiction novel by Sheri Tepper. This is another re-read for me, my third time through if memory serves.

from the back of the book:
Here is a novel as original as the breathtaking, unspoiled world for which it is named, a place where all appears to be in idyllic balance.

Generations ago, humans fled to the cosmic anomaly known as Grass. Over time, they evolved a new and intricate society. But before humanity arrived another species had already claimed Grass for its own. It, too, had developed a culture....

Now, a deadly plague is spreading across the stars. No world save Grass has been left untouched. Marjorie Westriding Yrarier has been sent from Earth to discover the secret of the planet's immunity. Amid the alien social structure and strange life-forms of Grass, Lady Westriding unravels the planet's mysteries to find a truth so shattering it could mean the end of life itself.
Infinity Plus calls it "one of the most significant works of 1980s SF: a spacious, well-plotted, wise and thought-provoking book with an exceptionally cover scanwell-drawn central character and a beautiful twist on the 'beauty and the beast' mythos at its heart." SF Site says it's "Sheri Tepper's first fully-successful novel and perhaps still her best."

Kirkus Reviews says it's too long but "Imaginative and well worked out". Publishers Weekly says, "Tepper ... delves into the nature of truth and religion, creating some strong characters in her compelling story".

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Near Dark

Near Dark is a 1987 modern-day vampire western film. I saw it on television and was singularly unimpressed. I appear to be alone in that. Reviews are generally positive, even glowing.

trailer:



1000 Misspent Hours has a positive review. Empire Online calls it "a fascinatingly modern take". Horror News concludes, "If you are looking to build a top vampire movie list, then “Near Dark” should definitely have a spot secured as an important entry." Horror News Freak recommends it. Time Out calls it "a subtle study in the seductiveness of evil and a terrifying ride to the edge of darkness." Rotten Tomatoes has an average critics rating of 88%.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Idiot's Guide to Smarter Coffee Drinking in 7 Steps

A Guide To Smarter Coffee Drinking Infographic
Image via: AHealthBlog

and they completely lose me at step #1, because I drink a cup or two before 10:00 AM and like it better then than any time of the day. Ah, well, health advice seems more a matter of passing fad than of fact-based science.

I still haven't gotten back into creating ATCs. It's like that one week of vacation away put a screeching halt to the art fun. I have all my bits of papers and supplies out, and I'm committed to making a few this week. In the meantime I'll enjoy the artistic endeavors of the T Stands for Tuesday bloggers. Join us as we share a drink.

Monday, September 09, 2019

A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation

A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation is an award-winning 1997 Hong Kong animated film. Wikipedia begins its plot summary with this:
Tax collector Ning wanders the land with his pet dog Solid Gold grieving over his lost love Siu Lan, who dumps him over another man. He goes on, and along the way, he runs into two monks, White Cloud and Ten Miles. The two Buddhist monks, who appear to be trying to purify unholy spirits and send them to the underworld, are on rivalry with another ghostbuster, Red Beard. After a meeting and a hasty farewell to the monks who leave, Ning continues his journey.

Somehow, at night, Ning enters a ghost town, inhabited by many different monsters, ghouls and spirits.

T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews calls it "an incredibly strange, breathless, nonstop action fantasy, which leaves you gasping for air". Love HK Film calls it "irresistibly charming" and "visually exciting".

Variety says,
Result is infused with many of Tsui’s own filmic trademarks, some touches of typically Cantonese humor and a childlike, naive style that Japanese anime simply don’t possess. In dubbed versions, this could prove a strong seller as a children’s item for the small screen.
BBC has a review. The Rotten Tomatoes audience has a consensus score of 86%.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The World That Couldn't Be

illustration by Jack Gaughan

The World That Couldn't Be is a 1958 science fiction short story by Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Clifford D. Simak. I discovered this author in junior high school, and he is always worth re-visiting. His stories are thought-provoking. You can read this one online here. It begins,
The tracks went up one row and down another, and in those rows the vua plants had been sheared off an inch or two above the ground. The raider had been methodical; it had not wandered about haphazardly, but had done an efficient job of harvesting the first ten rows on the west side of the field. Then, having eaten its fill, it had angled off into the bush—and that had not been long ago, for the soil still trickled down into the great pug marks, sunk deep into the finely cultivated loam.

Somewhere a sawmill bird was whirring through a log, and down in one of the thorn-choked ravines, a choir of chatterers was clicking through a ghastly morning song. It was going to be a scorcher of a day. Already the smell of desiccated dust was rising from the ground and the glare of the newly risen sun was dancing off the bright leaves of the hula-trees, making it appear as if the bush were filled with a million flashing mirrors.

Gavin Duncan hauled a red bandanna from his pocket and mopped his face.

"No, mister," pleaded Zikkara, the native foreman of the farm. "You cannot do it, mister. You do not hunt a Cytha."

"The hell I don't," said Duncan, but he spoke in English and not the native tongue.

He stared out across the bush, a flat expanse of sun-cured grass interspersed with thickets of hula-scrub and thorn and occasional groves of trees, criss-crossed by treacherous ravines and spotted with infrequent waterholes.

It would be murderous out there, he told himself, but it shouldn't take too long. The beast probably would lay up shortly after its pre-dawn feeding and he'd overhaul it in an hour or two. But if he failed to overhaul it, then he must keep on.

"Dangerous," Zikkara pointed out. "No one hunts the Cytha."

"I do," Duncan said, speaking now in the native language.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Suspense (1913)

Suspense is a 1913 short thriller film directed by and starring Lois Weber.

Friday, September 06, 2019

The Open Window


The Open Window is a delightful short story by Saki. It is often required reading in schools, and I know what a kick I got out of it when I first discovered it. You can read it online here. You can have it read to you here. It begins,
"My aunt will be down presently, Mr. Nuttel," said a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen; "in the meantime you must try and put up with me."

Framton Nuttel endeavoured to say the correct something which should duly flatter the niece of the moment without unduly discounting the aunt that was to come. Privately he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits on a succession of total strangers would do much towards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.

"I know how it will be," his sister had said when he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat; "you will bury yourself down there and not speak to a living soul, and your nerves will be worse than ever from moping. I shall just give you letters of introduction to all the people I know there. Some of them, as far as I can remember, were quite nice."

Framton wondered whether Mrs. Sappleton, the lady to whom he was presenting one of the letters of introduction came into the nice division.

"Do you know many of the people round here?" asked the niece, when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.

"Hardly a soul," said Framton. "My sister was staying here, at the rectory, you know, some four years ago, and she gave me letters of introduction to some of the people here."

He made the last statement in a tone of distinct regret.

"Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?" pursued the self-possessed young lady.

"Only her name and address," admitted the caller. He was wondering whether Mrs. Sappleton was in the married or widowed state. An undefinable something about the room seemed to suggest masculine habitation.

"Her great tragedy happened just three years ago," said the child; "that would be since your sister's time."

"Her tragedy?" asked Framton; somehow in this restful country spot tragedies seemed out of place.

"You may wonder why we keep that window wide open on an October afternoon," said the niece, indicating a large French window that opened on to a lawn.

*******

The image at the top of the post is a screen shot from this short adaptation of the story:



It stars Michael Sheen.



Thursday, September 05, 2019

Love's Labour's Lost

Love's Labour's Lost is a 1975 BBC adaptation of the Shakespeare play. It stars Martin Shaw, David Gwillim, and Jeremy Brett.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Crashing Suns


Crashing Suns is a short story by Edmond Hamilton, the first in the Interstellar Patrol space opera series. It was originally published in two parts in the August and September issues of Weird Tales in 1928. These are rousing adventure stories, and fun to read even if the science is dated. You can read this one online here. It begins,
As the control-levers flashed down under my hands our ship dived down through space with the swiftness of thought. The next instant there came a jarring shock, and our craft spun over like a whirling top. Everything in the conning-tower, windows and dials and controls, seemed to be revolving about me with lightning speed, while I clung dizzily to the levers in my hands. In a moment I managed to swing them back into position, and at once the ship righted herself and sped smoothly on through the ether. I drew a deep breath.

The trap-door in the little room's floor slid open, then, and the startled face of big Hal Kur appeared, his eyes wide.

"By the Power, Jan Tor!" he exclaimed; "that last meteor just grazed us! An inch nearer and it would have been the end of the ship!"

I turned to him for a moment, laughing. "A miss is as good as a mile," I quoted.

He grinned back at me. "Well, remember that we're not out on the Uranus patrol now," he reminded me. "What's our course?"

"Seventy-two degrees sunward, plane No. 8," I told him, glancing at the dials. "We're less than four hundred thousand miles from Earth, now," I added, nodding toward the broad window before me.

Climbing up into the little conning-tower, Hal Kur stepped over beside me, and together we gazed out ahead.

The sun was at the ship's left, for the moment, and the sky ahead was one of deep black, in which the stars, the flaming stars of interplanetary space, shone like brilliant jewels. Directly ahead of us there glowed a soft little orb of misty light, which was growing steadily larger as we raced on toward it. It was our destination, the cloud-veiled little world of Earth, mother-planet of all our race. To myself, who had passed much of my life on the four outer giants, on Jupiter and Saturn and Uranus and Neptune, the little planet ahead seemed insignificant, almost, with its single tiny moon. And yet from it, I knew, had come that unceasing stream of human life, that dauntless flood of pioneers, which had spread over all the solar system in the last hundred thousand years. They had gone out to planet after planet, had conquered the strange atmospheres and bacteria and gravitations, until now the races of man held sway over all the sun's eight wheeling worlds. And it was from this Earth, a thousand centuries before, that there had ventured out the first discoverers' crude little spaceboats, whose faulty gravity-screens and uncertain controls contrasted strangely with the mighty leviathans that flashed between the planets now.

Abruptly I was aroused from my musings by the sharp ringing of a bell at my elbow. "The telestereo," I said to Hal Kur. "Take the controls."

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Madam Crowl's Ghost

5 O'Clock Tea by David Comba Adamson

Madam Crowl's Ghost is a 1923 short story by Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu. You can read it here, and since it starts with the brewing and sharing of tea, let's keep each other company with a cuppa and gather around for the tale. It begins,
Twenty years have passed since you last saw Mrs. Jolliffe’s tall slim figure. She is now past seventy, and can’t have many mile-stones more to count on the journey that will bring her to her long home. The hair has grown white as snow, that is parted under her cap, over her shrewd, but kindly face. But her figure is still straight, and her step light and active.

She has taken of late years to the care of adult invalids, having surrendered to younger hands the little people who inhabit cradles, and crawl on all-fours. Those who remember that good-natured face among the earliest that emerge from the darkness of non-entity, and who owe to their first lessons in the accomplishment of walking, and a delighted appreciation of their first babblings and earliest teeth, have “spired up” into tall lads and lasses, now. Some of them shew streaks of white by this time, in brown locks, “the bonny gouden” hair, that she was so proud to brush and shew to admiring mothers, who are seen no more on the green of Golden Friars, and whose names are traced now on the flat grey stones in the church-yard.

So the time is ripening some, and searing others; and the saddening and tender sunset hour has come; and it is evening with the kind old north-country dame, who nursed pretty Laura Mildmay, who now stepping into the room, smiles so gladly, and throws her arms round the old woman’s neck, and kisses her twice.

“Now, this is so lucky!” said Mrs. Jenner, “you have just come in time to hear a story.”

“Really! That’s delightful.”

“Na, na, od wite it! no story, ouer true for that, I sid it a wi my aan eyen. But the barn here, would not like, at these hours, just goin’ to her bed, to hear tell of freets and boggarts.”

“Ghosts? The very thing of all others I should most likely to hear of.”

“Well, dear,” said Mrs. Jenner, “if you are not afraid, sit ye down here, with us.”

“She was just going to tell me all about her first engagement to attend a dying old woman,” says Mrs. Jenner, “and of the ghost she saw there. Now, Mrs. Jolliffe, make your tea first, and then begin.”

The good woman obeyed, and having prepared a cup of that companionable nectar, she sipped a little, drew her brows slightly together to collect her thoughts, and then looked up with a wondrous solemn face to begin.

*******

I'm out of town today and won't be able to participate (if I get back in time I'll link to the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering, but it'll be later), but I am pleased about the new-to-me thrift store purchase of a one-cup French press coffee maker and thought I'd take this opportunity to share it here:


A couple of you may have already seen it on Facebook, but everything gets shared on Facebook first and in real time since I share way more than one thing a day there. Each social media outlet has its strengths and weaknesses, and each one is suited to a different type of sharing.

1.) Blog: I post once a day on blogger, scheduling posts well in advance so that movies are not on consecutive days. That means I'm already scheduling horror movies for October of 2020, but that's the way I have chosen to deal with the number of movies I watch.

2) Facebook: I post on Facebook as I do things so there might be posts on 3 or 4 movies on some days but without the video embeds or descriptions/reviews. I share articles and images as I see them, and I'm much more politically vocal on Facebook.

3) Twitter: I am on Twitter but just as a follower and reader, and I haven't tweeted since those first few just to show I am a real person and not a bot.

4) Instagram: I'm not on Instagram at all, mainly because I find it a bit intimidating with all the folks sharing such good photos there.

5) Youtube: I use YouTube and post videos there that I've taken myself and want to embed on my blog, and I subscribe to many of the fitness and garden channels.

6) Reddit: I follow the local Reddit but have never posted and rarely comment there.

7) Pinterest: I used to use Pinterest but never found it particularly engaging. Except for pinning the occasional image to my "Hats" board, I don't use it.

8) I set up accounts at Tumblr, LiveJournal, Google+, MySpace, GoodReads, Letterboxd, and maybe more -who remembers. I have used email "lists" and online message boards and the chat rooms that used to be set up for real-time discussions among members of email listserve communities. I either didn't find these useful and/or they're not around any more. I've been curious about Second Life but have never tried it.

Social media should not be feared but used in the way that is most appropriate for each of us. I'd just like to say: You, be you. Don't condemn online activity you either fear, don't understand, or don't find enjoyable. Different strokes, and all that. I find judgmentalism to be the worst part of any social media experience just as I do when involved in face-to-face interaction.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Odds Against Tomorrow

Odds Against Tomorrow is a 1959 crime film (and maybe a film noir, depending on which article you read) directed by Robert Wise and starring Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Ed Begley, Gloria Grahame, and Shelley Winters. Racism among thieves. No subtlety on that front, either. It's painful to hear people talk like that.

Part 1:



Part 2:



Part 3:



Variety says,
On one level, Odds against Tomorrow is a taut crime melodrama. On another, it is an allegory about racism, greed and man’s propensity for self-destruction. Not altogether successful in the second category, it still succeeds on its first.

The New York Times review from the time of the film's release calls it "a sharp, hard, suspenseful melodrama". 86% of Rotten Tomatoes critics like it.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Prelude

The Portrait of Katherine Mansfield, by Anne Estelle Rice

Prelude is a 1918 short story by Katherine Mansfield. You can read it online here. You can have it read to you here. It begins,
1

THERE was not an inch of room for Lottie and Kezia in the buggy. When Pat swung them on top of the luggage they wobbled; the grandmother's lap was full and Linda Burnell could not possibly have held a lump of a child on hers for any distance. Isabel, very superior, was perched beside the new handy-man on the driver's seat. Hold-alls, bags and boxes were piled upon the floor. "These are absolute necessities that I will not let out of my sight for one instant," said Linda Burnell, her voice trembling with fatigue and excitement.

Lottie and Kezia stood on the patch of lawn just inside the gate all ready for the fray in their coats with brass anchor buttons and little round caps with battleship ribbons. Hand in hand, they stared with round solemn eyes, first at the absolute necessities and then at their mother.

"We shall simply have to leave them. That is all. We shall simply have to cast them off," said Linda Burnell. A strange little laugh flew from her lips; she leaned back against the buttoned leather cushions and shut her eyes, her lips trembling with laughter. Happily at that moment Mrs. Samuel Josephs, who had been watching the scene from behind her drawing-room blind, waddled down the garden path.

"Why nod leave the chudren with be for the afterdoon, Brs. Burnell? They could go on the dray with the storeban when he comes in the eveding. Those thigs on the path have to go, dod't they?"

"Yes, everything outside the house is supposed to go," said Linda Burnell, and she waved a white hand at the tables and chairs standing on their heads on the front lawn. How absurd they looked! Either they ought to be the other way up, or Lottie and Kezia ought to stand on their heads, too. And she longed to say: "Stand on your heads, children, and wait for the store-man." It seemed to her that would be so exquisitely funny that she could not attend to Mrs. Samuel Josephs.

The fat creaking body leaned across the gate, and the big jelly of a face smiled. "Dod't you worry, Brs. Burnell. Loddie and Kezia can have tea with my chudren in the dursery, and I'll see theb on the dray afterwards."

The grandmother considered. "Yes, it really is quite the best plan. We are very obliged to you, Mrs. Samuel Josephs. Children, say 'thank you' to Mrs. Samuel Josephs."

Two subdued chirrups: "Thank you, Mrs. Samuel Josephs."

"And be good little girls, and–come closer–" they advanced, "don't forget to tell Mrs. Samuel Josephs when you want to. . . . "

"No, granma."

"Dod't worry, Brs. Burnell."

At the last moment Kezia let go Lottie's hand and darted towards the buggy.

"I want to kiss my granma good-bye again."

But she was too late. The buggy rolled off up the road, Isabel bursting with pride, her nose turned up at all the world, Linda Burnell prostrated, and the grandmother rummaging among the very curious oddments she had had put in her black silk reticule at the last moment, for something to give her daughter. The buggy twinkled away in the sunlight and fine golden dust up the hill and over. Kezia bit her lip, but Lottie, carefully finding her handkerchief first, set up a wail.

"Mother! Granma!"

Mrs. Samuel Josephs, like a huge warm black silk tea cosy, enveloped her.

"It's all right, by dear. Be a brave child. You come and blay in the dursery!"

She put her arm round weeping Lottie and led her away. Kezia followed, making a face at Mrs. Samuel Josephs' placket, which was undone as usual, with two long pink corset laces hanging out of it. . . .

Lottie's weeping died down as she mounted the stairs, but the sight of her at the nursery door with swollen eyes and a blob of a nose gave great satisfaction to the S.J.'s, who sat on two benches before a long table covered with American cloth and set out with immense plates of bread and dripping and two brown jugs that faintly steamed.

"Hullo! You've been crying!"

"Ooh! Your eyes have gone right in."

"Doesn't her nose look funny."

"You're all red-and-patchy."

Lottie was quite a success. She felt it and swelled, smiling timidly.

"Go and sit by Zaidee, ducky," said Mrs. Samuel Josephs, "and Kezia, you sid ad the end by Boses."

Moses grinned and gave her a nip as she sat down; but she pretended not to notice. She did hate boys.

"Which will you have?" asked Stanley, leaning across the table very politely, and smiling at her. "Which will you have to begin with–strawberries and cream or bread and dripping?"

"Strawberries and cream, please," said she.

"Ah-h-h-h." How they all laughed and beat the table with their teaspoons. Wasn't that a take-in! Wasn't it now! Didn't he fox her! Good old Stan!

"Ma! She thought it was real."

Even Mrs. Samuel Josephs, pouring out the milk and water, could not help smiling. "You bustn't tease theb on their last day," she wheezed.

But Kezia bit a big piece out of her bread and dripping, and then stood the piece up on her plate. With the bite out it made a dear little sort of gate. Pooh! She didn't care! A tear rolled down her cheek, but she wasn't crying. She couldn't have cried in front of those awful Samuel Josephs. She sat with her head bent, and as the tear dripped slowly down, she caught it with a neat little whisk of her tongue and ate it before any of them had seen.

2

After tea Kezia wandered back to their own house. Slowly she walked up the back steps, and through the scullery into the kitchen. Nothing was left in it but a lump of gritty yellow soap in one corner of the kitchen window-sill and a piece of flannel stained with a blue bag in another. The fireplace was choked up with rubbish. She poked among it but found nothing except a hair-tidy with a heart painted on it that had belonged to the servant girl. Even that she left lying, and she trailed through the narrow passage into the drawing-room. The Venetian blind was pulled down but not drawn close. Long pencil rays of sunlight shone through and the wavy shadow of a bush outside danced on the gold lines. Now it was still, now it began to flutter again, and now it came almost as far as her feet. Zoom! Zoom! a blue-bottle knocked against the ceiling; the carpet-tacks had little bits of red fluff sticking to them.

The dining-room window had a square of coloured glass at each corner. One was blue and one was yellow. Kezia bent down to have one more look at a blue lawn with blue arum lilies growing at the gate, and then at a yellow lawn with yellow lilies and a yellow fence. As she looked a little Chinese Lottie came out on to the lawn and began to dust the tables and chairs with a corner of her pinafore. Was that really Lottie? Kezia was not quite sure until she had looked through the ordinary window.

Upstairs in her father's and mother's room she found a pill box black and shiny outside and red in, holding a blob of cotton wool.

"I could keep a bird's egg in that," she decided.

In the servant girl's room there was a stay-button stuck in a crack of the floor, and in another crack some beads and a long needle. She knew there was nothing in her grandmother's room; she had watched her pack. She went over to the window and leaned against it, pressing her hands to the pane.

Kezia liked to stand so before the window. She liked the feeling of the cold shining glass against her hot palms, and she liked to watch the funny white tops that came on her fingers when she pressed them hard against the pane. As she stood there, the day flickered out and dark came. With the dark crept the wind snuffling and howling. The windows of the empty house shook, a creaking came from the walls and floors, a piece of loose iron on the roof banged forlornly. Kezia was suddenly quite, quite still, with wide open eyes and knees pressed together. She was frightened. She wanted to call Lottie and to go on calling all the while she ran downstairs and out of the house. But IT was just behind her, waiting at the door, at the head of the stairs, at the bottom of the stairs, hiding in the passage, ready to dart out at the back door. But Lottie was at the back door, too.

"Kezia!" she called cheerfully. "The storeman's here. Everything is on the dray and three horses, Kezia. Mrs. Samuel Josephs has given us a big shawl to wear round us, and she says to button up your coat. She won't come out because of asthma."

Lottie was very important.

"Now then, you kids," called the storeman. He hooked his big thumbs under their arms and up they swung. Lottie arranged the shawl "most beautifully" and the storeman tucked up their feet in a piece of old blanket.

"Lift up. Easy does it."

They might have been a couple of young ponies. The storeman felt over the cords holding his load, unhooked the brakechain from the wheel, and whistling, he swung up beside them.

"Keep close to me," said Lottie, "because otherwise you pull the shawl away from my side, Kezia."

But Kezia edged up to the storeman. He towered beside her big as a giant and he smelled of nuts and new wooden boxes.