Favorite Horror Films: 7: The Wolfman

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The-wolfman

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“Even a man who is pure at heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.” (The Wolfman)

This is the well-known saying that is at the heart of the 1941 Universal Studios film The Wolfman. This film completes the quartet of monsters that are at the heart of the Universal horror franchise: the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, The Mummy, and the Wolfman. While there were certainly other creatures and monsters in the films in this time period, these are the four most prominent.

While we see science run out of control and ancient evils in the other films, in The Wolfman, we view a story of tragedy that is focused on an ordinary man, Larry Talbot, who is swept up in unfortunate events beyond his control. Because he is bitten by a werewolf while trying to save a girl and lives, Larry Talbot is fated to become such a beast himself.

The director and producer was George Waggner, and the writer was Kurt Siodmak. Most of our contemporary views about werewolf behavior do not come from ancient traditions or medieval European beliefs but from the mythology that Siodmak created for this movie. Siodmak created the idea that the time of the full moon is when a werewolf takes it form and that to become one, a person must be bitten by a werewolf and survive.

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(http://mrostinienglish.wikispaces.com)

More importantly, he included elements of classical tragedy, of a man fated to murder and to be destroyed, despite his desire to be a good person. The incantation the gypsy woman Maleva intones over Larry Talbot after his death illustrates this theme:

“The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.” (The Wolfman)

Siodmak also addressed contemporary issues, specifically the idea of a star marking the next victim of a werewolf, much like a star marking the Jewish people of Europe by the Nazis. Siodmak was a German Jew who had been successful as a writer but had to flee Germany with the take over by the Nazis. While the reference is not direct, it is still a clear metaphor for the horrors of the Nazis. The film demonstrates that evil is both natural and human created.

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In addition to excellent writing, the cast was also of the very best. Along side the star Lon Chaney Jr. were Clause Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, and Evelyn Ankers. Jack Pierce, as in the other main Universal horror films, created the unforgettable makeup that is the foundation for all other filmic and literary werewolves.

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(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

It was a film that was excellent in every level of production, and it maintains its excellence today.

Quotes From Some of my Favorite Books

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Here are some excellent quotations chosen by Josh Fisher!

The Western Writer

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

“And sometimes remember it will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except that story.”

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

“The creak of bed springs suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know.”

-Patrick deWitt, The Sister Brothers

“Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.”

The Iliad, Homer

“The incompetent leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary.”

-Evan Wright, Generation Kill

“Read sometimes for the…

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Frankenstein Finisher Follow-Up

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Here is a post about Frankenstein from one of my students.

Rylin Douthit

Recently, I re-read the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for English 011-019 at Lehigh University. The first time I read this book was my sophomore year of high school. In that class, our main focus of study was literature that encompassed a monster theory theme. We also studied a lot of philosophers and how their beliefs could relate to this theme. 

For Frankenstein, one of the philosophers that was a main focus was George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel; specifically, we studied a piece in his work of Phenomenology of Spirit regarding his view on self-consciousness. Generally – if my memory serves me right – his view was surrounded by the idea of a master-bondsman relationship, and although his work was about self-consciousness, this relationship could be applied between two consciously separate individuals as well. So, during my sophomore year English class, we studied Frankenstien focused on the monster theory theme…

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Favorite Horror Films: 6: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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JekyllHyde1931

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1886 , which gave the world the epitome of the double, one of the central characteristics of the Gothic genre, this 1932 film is one of the best horror films of that decade or any other time. Robert Mamoulian directed and Adolph Zukor produced the film for Paramount.  Fredric March played Jekyll and Hyde and won the 1932 Oscar® for Best Actor. The film was expensive, coming in at approximately one half million dollars to make, and it was also a financial as well as critical success, making about one and one quarter million dollars–a huge amount of money in those days.

Jekyll_and_Hyde_Title

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The film is an excellent adaptation of the novella, something I rarely say about any film.  I love films almost as much as I do books, but almost any adaptation of a film is inferior to the book. The novel has the ability to speak directly to the reader, and the reader’s mind creates images that go much further and deeper than the particular aspect of a director’s vision, at least usually.  Stevenson’s novella is oddly short and would have benefited from begin developed in much more depth.  I can speak to that in another post in the future.  This film develops much of what is only hinted at in the Victorian era novella and is one of the few examples of when a film is superior to the book on which it is based.

The book hints at being a metaphor for drug addiction and the concurrent behavior of addicts, when their worst selves emerge. This film, in a manner that is overt for the early 1930s, visually makes these suggestions.  When Jekyll transforms for the first time, Mamoulian uses Jekyll’s POV (point of view) and shows us the images whirling through his mind.  Rather than eliminating his negative and evil impulses, he manages to bring them out to the front, and Mr. Hyde indulges his desires.

The book and the film also speak to the issue of the misuse of science and the unguarded pursuit of knowledge. This hubris, always punished by the gods in Greek Drama, was seen earlier in Frankenstein, and it is an issue that will continue to haunt us not only in contemporary films such as Jurassic Park but also in the very real world of scientific research.  Atomic weapons immediately come to mind as an example of how science can produce terrible as well as wonderful ends.  This film, in Gothic fashion, speaks to the problems of scientific hubris, uncontrolled by ethics.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Fredric March was one of the great leading men of the time. He had a long and extraordinary career, including winning the Best Actor Oscar® two times.  Arguably, his performance in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was his best work of his career.

If you have never had the opportunity to watch this film, I recommend it highly.

Favorite Horror Films: 5: The Bride of Frankenstein

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Brideoffrankenstein

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The next installment in this series is what I consider to be one of the very best horror films ever made: The Bride of Frankenstein.

I also want to mention that I have taught  this novel, Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus several times at both Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and the Department of Graduate and Continuing Education at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

It is also interesting that the sequel The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) to Universal Studio’s Frankenstein  (1931) is a far better film and more faithful adaptation to Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel than was the original movie. James Whale directed and Carl Laemmle Jr. produced this film.

RothwellMaryShelley

(Richard Rothwell, 1840)

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The movie opens with a sequence in which Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley appear, which is a nod to the summer of 1816 in which the three writers shared time together and decided to writer ghost stories.  Mary Shelley’s contribution was a short story about a young doctor who reanimated a corpse, and which she later expanded into the famous and deeply important novel. In this scene, Mary explains  that the story did not end, as shown in the first movie, with the death of the creature in the burning windmill.

Whale imbues this film with both highly religious symbolism, as when the creature is captured and tied to what looks like a crucifix and to references to important sections from the book.  The creature famously finds a friend in the blind man, who is able to befriend the creature because he cannot see his deformities.  This is a clear reference to stereotyping and bigotry.

In the novel, the Creature demands that Frankenstein create a mate for him, so that his loneliness can be alleviated. In this film, Elsa Lancaster, who also plays Mary Shelley in  the opening scene, plays the bride.  But as would be expected, it does not go well when she rejects the Creature’s advances, and he says the powerful line, “We belong dead.”

As with Frankenstein, there is a heavy influence of German Expressionism in the cinematography.

Jack Pierce again did the famous makeups, and Boris Karloff starred again as the Creature.

Frankenstein's_monster_(Boris_Karloff)

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

This movie was successful financially and critically. It is, in my opinion, a cinematic masterpiece!

If any of you have interest either in horror or cinema, this is a film that you should see.

An Issue Close to Me

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Please read this post on an extremely important topic by Josh Fisher.

The Western Writer

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

Veteran Suicide is something that will always hit close to home for me as a veteran. A study looking back on a decade of statistical data shows that 60,000 veterans committed suicide from the years 2008 to 2017. To put this number in perspective, since 9/11 6,967 service members have died in combat. Furthermore, 58,220 service members died in the entire Vietnam War. I think it’s safe to say the system is failing and has been for a long time.

I’m sure we could sit here speculate about certain things in regards to this subject but the truth is that the VA and Government has failed the warriors that they sent overseas to fight their wars but I digress.

So what’s the fix?

That’s a hard thing to solve with just one answer. You can’t treat medicine as if it is a simple algebra problem…

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October Promote Your Books Party!

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It’s the middle of October, and it is a perfect time for a Spooky Book promotion party!

So, don’t be shy, and be your own best publicist!

Promote

Your

Book(s)!

Be proud of your writing!

Let the world know about your book(s)!

Shout to the world about your writing!

Tell us about your book(s), and leave an image and a link if you can.

In order for as many people to see your work as possible,

please Tweet and reblog this post!

Here is my self-promotion: my latest book can help writers who have issues issues with finishing first drafts of their books. If that is you, I  offer direct, practical advice on how to

Get The Draft Done! Helping Writers Finish Their First Draft

by Charles F. French.

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Available on Amazon

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Available on Amazon

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Available on Amazon

A Call For Help for #PitDark

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Please!

Hello everyone! This may sound like an odd request, but on Thursday 10/14/2021 I am participating in #PitDark on Twitter, a day long event in which authors tweet a pitch for a book to agents.

If any of you have Twitter, please consider retweeting my pinned tweet, which I will put up tomorrow morning.

My Twitter handle is @French_C1955

This is also important–do not like the pitch–that is for agents to let writers know they are interested in your work.

The tweet will be for my novel The Ameriad: The Monastery of Knowledge.  I will have the tweet up at 8 A. M. EST.

It will look something like this:

THE FIFTH SEASON X PARABLE OF THE SOWER Lignne knows who she is, what she wants, and faces likely death. Climate disaster puts Earth into dark ages; she wants to be the first female graduate in the Monastery, but murderous treachery threaten her success and life. #A #PitDark #PA

Again, thank you to all!

person writing on brown printer paper

A New Species~

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Please enjoy these stunning photographs from Cindy Knoke!

These gorgeous creatures,

are Grey Buckeye Butterflies,

a newly identified sub-species, found in south western North America. The species was first identified in 2016.

Grey Buckeyes are genetically and morphologically distinct and from Eastern Buckeye Butterflies.

All I know is they are beautiful and I love having them here!

Cheers to you from the beautiful Grey Buckeyes~

For More Information on the identification of this new species see:

https://phys.org/news/2018-11-butterfly-species.html

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Raising Bookworms – The importance of teachers

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Here is a wonderful post on the importance of teachers by Robbie Cheadle!

Writing to be Read

The schools in South Africa are racing towards the end of a year fraught with lockdowns, illness and death. My sons have been on-line for long periods twice this year and many of the students have suffered the losses of friends, parents, grandparents, and other important people in their lives. Seeing how happy my sons are to be back at school and watching them forge ahead with their school work as their teachers valiantly try to reteach material and principles that were taught on-line and which the boys have failed to grasp properly, makes me feel more appreciative of their teachers than ever.

Gregory finishes school today. It is his last day of a 14-year journey and it is all rather emotional for the boys and teaches. His preliminary examinations went very well and he achieved an average of 92% for all 7 of this subjects including AP maths. This…

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