Have A Happy Halloween And A Blessed Samhain!

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I want to wish everyone both a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!

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(http://lubuntu.me/blessed-samhain/)

On the pre-Christian Celtic calendar, October 31 was Samhain, pronounced Soo-when or Sow-when, and it marked the day when the world of the living and dead where at the closest. It is also the end of year, with November 1 as the start of the next year. This day is one of the most important Gaelic/Celtic/Pagan/Wiccan/Druidic holidays of the year!  And please do not worry about the devil–he is not a part of Samhain. There is nothing evil here.

Samhain/Halloween is a day to remember those who have passed and to think of the future.

So, enjoy the day, dress up, have candy, party, and raise a toast and wish all a Happy New Year!

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(https://pixabay.com)

My Favorite Horror Films:10: Horror Of Dracula

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After the great horror  cycle of movies from Universal Studios in the 1930s and 1940s culminating in the Abbott and Costello spoofs, serious horror movies vanished for a period. They were replaced by the spate of giant critter movies spawned by the fears of nuclear fallout post World War Two and the ominous threat of nuclear Armageddon of the Cold War.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

In 1958, Hammer Studios, a British film company initiated a new cycle of horror films with the release of The Curse of Frankenstein, and Horror of Dracula (the American title) or Dracula (the British title) soon followed.  These films not only allowed this film studio to emerge as a major force in horror films, but also they spawned a new cycle in horror that would span nearly two decades. Horror of Dracula starred Sir Christopher Lee as Dracula, Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing, and Michael Gough as  Arthur Holmwood and was directed by Terence Fisher.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This film dramatically changed the course of horror films.  Prior to Horror Of Dracula, most horror movies, especially  the classic Universal films were shot in black and white; this film was in vivid color. Also changed noticeably from the 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi was the pacing and the level of over sexuality and violence. This movie moved at a very rapid pace with condensed action and compression of characters from the book–Dracula by Bram Stoker.  A very lively film score added to the tension and feeling of almost constant movement.

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(https://fr.wikipedia.org)

Christopher Lee brought an imposing physicality to the role and played the count with a noble British accent. He showed great strength and mobility in his performance. And this film introduced  the vampire with fangs and blood.  When he emerges in full fury after the vampire girl has attacked Jonathan Harker, he is a demonic image.  This was a representation of the vampire that was entirely new and very powerful.

In Britain, this movie received an X rating because of its, what was for the time, overt sexuality and violence. The women sometimes wore low cut gowns, and Dracula’s attacks carried a not too subtle sexuality, although by today’s standards, this shocking sensuality certainly would be tame or almost quaint.

Horror Of Dracula was a success both financially and critically. Hammer studios would make numerous sequels to this film and would also base the release of other movies, principally on Dr. Frankenstein, on their good fortune. If you enjoy horror films and have not seen this particular movie, I recommend it.

Pilgrims’ Way, Wrotham to Halling

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Please enjoy this wonderful post!

Walking Away

It’s pronounced Root ’em. There’s no reason you would know it’s not Wroth-am, I certainly didn’t. Also, it’s Hauling, not Hal-ing. Illogical language. Also you may not know it’s a mile and a half from the train station that bears its name, Borough Green and Root ’em and the walk is uphill. I left my house on an autumn morning, cold with spitting rain, with fleece and raincoat, so of course now Shovell and I struggle, sweating, up the hill because the sun is now beating down and I resemble a boil in the bag TV dinner.


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A Walk from Richmond to Easby Abbey, Medieval Wall Paintings and the Little Drummer Boy

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Please enjoy this wonderful post from John Bainbridge.

Country Ways

Once upon a time there was a little drummer boy, stationed with his regiment at Richmond Castle (that’s the Yorkshire Richmond, by the way, not the one by the Thames). Some of his fellow soldiers found a tunnel in the castle and, as the drummer boy was small, sent him to explore its length, beating his drum so that his comrades, walking above, would know where he was.

Easby Abbey

They followed the sound of his drumming across the town square and down to the banks of the River Swale. About halfway to Easby Abbey the drumming stopped. The little drummer boy was never seen again. There’s a monument making the place where the sounds of his drumming stopped.

Memorial to a Little Drummer Boy

A sad little yarn, which we contemplated as we walked through the trees above the Swale on our way to Easby Abbey. Not a very…

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My Favorite Horror Films: 9: The Curse of Frankenstein

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Terence Fisher directed The Curse of Frankenstein for Hammer Studios in England, and Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Hazel Court starred. This 1957 movie was the first in the Hammer Studio’s emergence as a major producer of horror films and it was the beginning of a new horror movie cycle. The result was an innovative, fast paced, and  vividly colored film. Hammer Studios completely changed the approach to horror movies of the Universal Studios that had dominated the horror movie cycle from 1931-1945. Color, explicit violence, and sexuality were introduced as central filmic components.

The Curse of Frankenstein was, like so many other movies, loosely based on the great work of Gothic English Literature by Mary Shelley: Frankenstein: Or The Modern Prometheus (1818). Yes, that is the accurate subtitle, although it is usually omitted in most printings of the book.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This movie was highly successful, both financially and critically.  And like Horror of Dracula would, as Hammer Studios expanded their treatments of classic Gothic novels, it spawned a long series of sequels. A major difference between the direction of the following films was the focus: the monster Dracula was the recurring character in the vampire movies, while Dr. Frankenstein, and not his creature was the repeating protagonist/antagonist of the Frankenstein movies. This is also an  important distinction between the Hammer and the earlier Universal movies in which the Creature was the primary recurring character.

The Creature was also a mindless killing machine in this film, and none of the Creature’s humanity was kept from the novel, which is the film’s major flaw. It is, nevertheless, an important film from this era, and if you enjoy or are interested in horror films, then I recommend it.

My Favorite Horror Films: 8: The Invisible Man

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(en.wikipedia.org)

One of the more interesting and unusual horror films of the 1930s is The Invisible Man, directed by James Whale and produced by Carl Laemelle Jr. for Universal Studios (1933). This film is based on H.G. Wells’ novel of the same name, and it is a reasonably close adaptation of the book. Some changes were made to the story line, notably the addition of a love interest and moving the time from the Victorian Era to the 1930s.

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(en.wikipedia.org)

The film was unusual in the caliber and sophistication of the special effects, which still hold up to contemporary scrutiny.  It is important to remember that these filmmakers were not using computer generated images to create their effects; rather, they were forced to create from ingenuity, creating new techniques in cinematic art.  The end result shows visual images that are still powerful and compelling.

The story is well told and excellently acted. Claude Rains  stars as Dr. Griffin, the Invisible Man, and he does a superb job in his performance. He creates a convincing character of the scientist, who much like Victor Frankenstein, exhibits hubris in his research.  He succeeds in finding the way to invisibility but goes insane as a result and becomes homicidal. The film ends with his character being chased down and killed, and before perishing, he admits he should not have explored forbidden areas of science.  Again, this reinforces the theme earlier seen in Frankenstein.

Another interesting theme that is hinted at in this movie is the danger of drug abuse, as also show in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Griffin uses a drug identified as “monocane” in his formula, and the consequences are his becoming dangerously insane. While he does not use the drug as an addict might, he still ruins his life through its usage.

The film did well at the box office and is considered by many critics, including me, to be one of the best horror films of the 1930s.

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(https://en.m.wikipedia.org)

 

 

 

At A Book Event!

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I am very pleased that I was a featured author at the Barnes and Noble store in Whitehall, PA! The event was successful, and the staff at the store was kind and helpful! I had a wonderful time. Here are a few pics from the event:

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

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Print book

Thank you!

My radio interview:

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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.

Available on Amazon

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Available on Amazon

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

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Available on Amazon

My Favorite Horror Films: 7: The Wolfman

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(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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(http://allencentre.wikispaces.com/)

In addition to excellent writing, the cast was also of the very best. Along side the star Lon Chaney Jr. were Claude 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.

Carmilla | J Sheridan Le Fanu.

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Please enjoy this excellent post on Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. This is a book I consider one of the most important Gothic novels.

Baby Funbo

It’s officially spooktober. Even though I don’t celebrate Halloween, I’m a fan of the horror genre. To commemorate the month, I read Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu. I stumbled across this book because of a music video. A song sung by Red Velvet’s Irene and Seulgi called Monster. I was very fascinated by the whole concept. I read through the comments section to find out that it was based on a book. The book being none other than Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu. Just like the music video, I fell in love with this classic.

Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu is a classic Victorian vampire novella, which influenced Bram Stoker’s later treatment of the vampire mythos in Dracula. The story is narrated by a young woman named Laura living in an isolated castle deep in the Austrian forest. On a moonlit night, she encounters an unexpected guest…

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