Favorite Horror Films: 5: The Bride of Frankenstein

Standard
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.

Favorite Horror Films: 4: Dracula

Standard

460px-Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_Studios(www.wikipedia.org)

When I first considered doing an examination of my favorite horror movies, I thought that going decade by decade would be sufficient, but I realized that some periods have far more excellent films than others.  A simple examination of 2-4 movies from the 1930s will not work, so I am going to look at one film at a time for that decade. I will begin with Dracula, a film I love, and which I have taught in college classes such as Literature and Film and Gothic and Horror at both Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.  I also hold the novel to be an excellent and very important book.

dracula_movie_poster_style_f

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Dracula, made in 1931, and released for Valentine’s Day–a nice touch–was a huge success and established Bela Lugosi as a top box office star. This production was itself based on the very successful theatrical play Dracula by Hamilton Deane and James Balderston. Stoker’s novel did not see great success during his life, but after his death and the success of the play, it became one of the best selling novels of the 20th Century–worldwide.

Carl Laemmle Jr, capitalized on the story’s growing popularity and produced the movie.  Tod Browning, who had directed Lon Chaney Sr. in several movies, directed this piece. This film is highly atmospheric with a Gothic set and influenced by German Expressionism. Lugosi was brilliant with his authentic Hungarian accent and menacing presence. His performance and voice set the standard for the image of Dracula and vampires for decades to come. Dracula was a sensation and terrified people; today’s audience would probably find it slow and not at all frightening, but that reflects our jaded views that have been glutted with gore as the staple ingredient of contemporary horror.  This film depended on story telling, atmosphere, and acting. The film’s success created an era of classic horror films through the 1930s and part of the 1940s with Universal studios leading the way.

Additionally, Dracula is generally accepted by most film critics as one of the best horror films made.  I certainly consider it to be one of the best and most important.

dracula_spanish_big

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

It is an interesting and little known detail of film history that in addition to the English language version, Universal also made a Spanish language film at the same time.  The  two films shared the same sets, and the same basic scripts, but with different actors and a different director: George Melford directed, and Carlos Villarías stared as Dracula.  While not as well known, an argument can be made that this is a better film than the more established English language version.  If you ever have the opportunity to see it, I recommend that you do.

Favorite Horror Novels: 1–Dracula

Standard

41hwNjvJ0aL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

(Cover of 1897 edition)

I have read many books over the course of my life, and books have become a central part of who I am. I read books for pleasure, for study, and for examination. I teach books in my literature classes at Lehigh University and Muhlenberg College, I write about them in scholarly work, and I write novels. As I was considering the topic for this post, I started to think about what books I consider to be the most important horror novels. Certainly, I must begin this series with a book I consider to be of extraordinary literary value, a great horror novel, and a book that has influenced my life.

Dracula

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

So many come to mind and are possibilities for discussion, especially when I think of some of the books I read as a youngster in high school. Among these novels are DraculaThe War of the WorldsFrankensteinDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Haunting of Hill House.  Certainly, there were many more books that I read at that time, and I have always been a voracious reader, but these books, in a variety of ways, help to shape my interests and some of my directions in life.

Now, I will focus on Dracula and what its influence on me was and is. This was the first Gothic novel I had read, and its power caught me immediately. I was drawn to the images of dark castles, terrible villains, and the supernatural. That I love Gothic is still clear, because not only do I teach Gothic literature, but also I write it.

Dracula, however, had a much deeper impact on me that simply the horror aspect; I was drawn to the idea of the need for good people to oppose evil.  It is a theme that, on the surface, might seem simplistic, but a person need only look at the history of the 20th Century into our contemporary time to see that evil does exist, especially in the form of people who would oppress, torment, exclude, and bully others. Of course, I am not making an argument that the supernatural evil in this novel exists, but that human evil certainly does.  The Nazis demonstrated that human horror in its full capacity.

In this book, a fellowship of human beings is created, and they decide to fight a creature that is far more powerful than anything they could have imagined, and they do so at the risk of their lives.  This act of defending others, even if the people do the battle are put at risk, became a central part of my ethos.  There will always be those who would bully and oppress others, and they must always be opposed.  While in early high school, Dracula helped to form that idea in my mind.

I was also highly influenced by the Gothic nature of the book, and when I first read this novel as a youngster, I was terrified by it. This book stands as the best and most important vampire novel that has been written. I am not arguing that other excellent books on vampires do not exist; certainly they do. I am saying, though, that Dracula is the best and the cornerstone of all of them.

In addition to being a deeply important book, Dracula is also the foundation for a myriad of movies. In fact, the characters of Dracula and Sherlock Holmes are the two most portrayed in TV, film, and theater.

I leave with this thought: if you enjoy horror, Halloween, and the Gothic, and you have not yet read Dracula, you certainly should. It is excellent.

5598150-L

Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 by Charles F. French — 100 reviews!

Standard

low angle photo of fireworks

Photo by rovenimages.com on Pexels.com

Yay!

Woo-hoo!

My book Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 reached 100 reviews on Amazon!

Here is one of the most recent reviews:

Invite Maledicus into your home, you won’t regret it!

“If you enjoy paranormal and horror tales despite the eerie feelings hanging over your head after you finish a read, I highly recommend Charles F. French’s debut novel: Maledicus. You will become acquainted with a trio of retired old friends who become determined to unveil a sinister haunting. This novel explores grief, friendship, and love while still piercing your mind with horrid depictions of torture and pain. French’s storytelling will take through history from the early roman empire to our present-day Pennsylvania. This multi-layered thriller will leave you wanting more so don’t forget to check out French’s other work!”

Best, Brenda

32570160

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

How Is Your Writing Going?

Standard

typewriter-407695_960_720

November is coming to an end, and some of you have been doing NaNoWriMo, and others have continued with a somewhat less frenzied pace.

I am one of the people who tries to write on a regular basis and avoids binge writing. I have put the finishing touches, I hope, on a reissue of my essay book, called French On English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays. I am also continuing to work on what I am calling an historical fiction/romance–imagine that coming from this writer of horror! If I can maintain my current pace, I should be able to finish the first draft by the end of January or February.

I will also begin revising one of the other first drafts I have completed. By the way, if you are wondering how I manage to do this, check out my book Get The Draft Done! Helping Writers Finish Their First Draft — how’s that for a bit of shameless self-promotion!

So, I ask all of you: how is your writing going?

typewriter-801921_960_720-1

Available on Amazon

GetthedraftdonepossEbookcover!-page-001

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

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

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.

32570160

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

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

 

French On English

COMING SOON!

Favorite Horror Movies: Part Five: The Bride of Frankenstein

Standard
Brideoffrankenstein

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

In honor of the recent 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, I want to reblog this post about the horror film that is, in my opinion, the closest to the original novel.

I also want to mention that I have taught  this novel 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.”

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.

GetthedraftdonepossEbookcover!-page-001

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

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

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.

32570160

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

FOE_Cover_French

Available on Amazon

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

Quotations on Writing

Standard

ray-28744__340 (1)

(https://pixabay.com)

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

                                                                                 Ray Bradbury

 

Tim_obrien_2012

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.”

                                                                                 Tim O’Brien

 

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

                                                                                Stephen King

 

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

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.

32570160

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

Sam’s Hot Chili–Revisited! A recipe from a character from Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2 by Charles F. French

Standard

chili-1159529_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

In my horror novels Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I,  and Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2, one of the main characters is Sam, a retired homicide detective.  In his spare time, he fancies himself a good cook of basic foods, and one of his favorites to cook and eat is spicy chili.

I was thinking about what some of my characters like to eat and cook, not necessarily because this information appears in the novel, but because the more I know about the idiosyncrasies of the characters I write, the better I can show them. This idea is similar to actors creating biography sheets for roles they are playing.

So, what is this recipe?

habaneros-499057__180

(https://pixabay.com)

Sam’s Fiery Bowl of Red Goodness

Ingredients:

One pound chuck roast,
One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes,
One Spanish onion,
One sweet green pepper,
One poblano pepper,
Four habanero peppers,
Two chipotle peppers,
Two jalapeno peppers,
One can dark red kidney beans,
One can black beans,
Ground black pepper,
Twp. cumin seed

(Because this is chili, substitute more or fewer peppers according to taste and heat preference.)

The process:

*Cube the chuck roast, then sear completely in a hot, slightly oiled pan,
*Place in Dutch oven (Sam uses a well-seasoned cast iron pot) with crushed tomatoes,
*Slice the onion and green pepper and add to tomatoes,
*use a hand mortar and pestle to crush the cumin seed, and add to Dutch oven,
*add black pepper,
*de-vein and remove seeds from chilies—BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH THESE WITH YOUR HANDS!!!!! If you do, wash your hands thoroughly and do not touch your eyes. Yes, I am speaking from bad experience. Use a small food processor and make the chilies into a mash. Add to the Dutch oven,
*bring to boil, and then reduce immediately to a simmer.
*With about one hour left in the simmering time, drain and add the two cans of beans.

This is very important—do not cover during the simmering. Check the chili every 20 minutes or so, and if needed add a little water, and stir. The chili cooks best if done very slowly and uncovered.

Give it about 10 hours to become fully tender and mixed.

Sam also likes to add cheddar cheese or sour cream to the bowl when serving. Good Italian or French bread also works.

But be warned, with the chilies Sam uses, this should become a hot bowl of goodness. If you want it milder, go to one or two habanero peppers.

Enjoy!

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

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.

32570160

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

The Shadow of The Wind: A Review

Standard
shadow
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my favorite books! I discovered it several years ago, and I instantly loved it! The first time I read it I was moved deeply, and nothing has changed about my reaction to it, except I continue to discover more and more in the book to love.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Shadow Of The Wind is many things: a Gothic novel, a mystery, a romance, a thriller, a young adult novel, a bildungsroman, and a book about books! Among other charming and engaging aspects of this extraordinary novel is the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books.” Any book with a place like that certainly has my attention!
Zafon’s characters are well-drawn, and his complex plot pulled me in immediately. Zafon’s love for books is compelling. As the protagonist, Daniel, is introduced to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, his father says, “This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” (5-6)
I have used and continue to use this novel in some of my classes at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College at Allentown, PA. This semester we are covering it in my European Novel in Translation course.
If you are a lover of books, then this book is for you. I have reread it several times, and I will continue to read it over the years. I recommend it to everyone!

 

More Reviews of Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book 1

Standard

wp-1476386546701-maledicus

 I wanted to share a few more reviews of my horror novel: Maledicus: The Paranormal Investigative Paranormal Society Book 1.

“If you only read one book this year make sure it’s this one! A marvelous story with captivating characters that drive the plot forward. The evil that lives within these pages threatens the very soul of its victims. In a gripping narrative the protagonists face the ultimate test of fight or flight. I’m eager to read part II of this story.” Heather.

“This book was very interesting. The story reminds me of a Christopher Nolan movie; it is non-linear and the convergence of the stories is a complete mystery. It is part ghost story, but it has an abstract approach to horror, evil, and the afterlife.” Amazon Customer

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author does a great job of making the characters relatable, and there are some great cliffhangers. Cannot wait for the other books in this series to come out. I strongly recommend this book!”  Sara

“An amazing novel! I love how it is from an adult perspective, it shows how life can take you up and down. An amazing read!”  Mariel

 

wp-1476386546701-maledicus

 

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