Friday, July 31, 2009

In Memory of Colleen: 1963 - 2009

Cousin, you are remembered and loved.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Movie: Dracula Has Risen from the Grave [1968]

This is the cover on my DVD box.

Another image. Looks like His Undeadness has candy corn fangs. :-p

That last almost looks comedic, makes you want to caption it: "I said I like STEAK!"

Watched the film a few days ago; I have a Hammer collection (so does my husband, but that's of the carpentry kind). Count Dracula is buried beneath a sheet of ice which is inadvertently broken by the weak-minded and cowardly local parish priest when he takes a tumble over a rock. Blood trickles from the unconscious priest's head onto Drac's lips. Priest is immediately taken control of by Drac, does his bidding. A while back Count Dracula was forced from his castle and into a comatose-like state by a Monsignor, who has returned to the village to do him in once and for all. Now Drac is determined to get revenge: By going after Maria, the Monsignor's curvaceous and beautiful blonde niece. Paul is Maria's boyfriend. For some reason nearly all the action takes place at the pub/bakery/inn where Paul and the luscious Zena work. Maria hazards sloped tiled roofs and dangerous catwalks to enter Paul's bedroom. The many Bavarian (?) roof scenes are weird in the film.

It's the best Hammer vampire film besides "The Brides of Dracula" (my favorite). I wish Peter Cushing were in this movie as well; unfortunately he's not. I'm more of a Cushing fan than a Lee fan. Christopher Lee is seen quite a few times as Count Dracula (veeeery handsome). He also has more lines in this film as compared to the other Hammer flicks.

All turns out well for Maria in the end, of course. And Paul, the atheist (and to think the Monsignor was at first afraid Paul was a Protestant!), reclaims Christianity. We presume Paul and Maria married, lived to a ripe old age together and had a lovely brood of rug rats.

A nice collage:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Movie: Hide and Seek [2005]

Bought this film yesterday and very much enjoyed it. I could make one smart quip which would be THE spoiler for people who've not seen it. The cast is excellent, a unique blend. Robert Deniro's role is a refreshing change from his usual; a genteel older father who puts tea on to boil and washes dishes. Dakota Fanning is a smart young actress. I didn't initially recognize Amy Irving! And it was great seeing Elisabeth Shue again.

Little Emily's father, David Callaway, is a prominent NYC psychiatrist. After mother Alison's suicide in the bathtub, Dr. Callaway takes Emily upstate. He rents a beautiful mansion, soon makes the acquaintance of a divorcee with her own young daughter. The neighbors, Laura and Steven, are a troubled and sad couple: Their daughter, about Emily's age, recently died.

And then Charlie enters the mix. We're first made aware of him after Emily's attracted, via butterfly, to an eerie cave. Emily rejects attempts at friendship by the locals, and instead becomes increasingly focused on Charlie and their game of hide and seek. Charlie quickly changes from harmless imaginary friend to something sinister and malicious. Dr. Callaway, good psychiatrist that he is, believes Charlie is a projection of Emily's troubled mind. He tries to coax Emily into admitting Charlie as part of her psyche. When the family cat winds up in a bad way, Dr. Callaway is genuinely frightened at Emily's troubles; just how ill -- and dangerous -- is she?

The sets are lavish and gorgeous. The acting is superb (of course!), the pacing is perfect. The story never lags and continually heats up. The ending is a shock, but unfortunately...I didn't quite buy it. ;-)

A *very* remarkable (and refreshing) element in this film is, even though it's 2005 and set in the modern era (cars and clothing), there are no computers, laptops, iPods, Blackberry/cellphones anywhere to be seen -- aside from MAYBE one indication of a faint and small computer screen in the far background (could be an aquarium though). The film's overall style, telling and atmosphere is retro-ish; it's 2005/1975 (if that makes any sense). Emily has no gadgets; she writes in a diary, draws with markers and plays with dolls. Yes, I know I'm typing this on a computer via the internet, but it was truly interesting to see 2005 without all the gadgetry clutter (especially cellphones - I hate them). The story was the focus, not gadgets. Oh -- and during the 2 (or 3?) telephone calls, they're talking via land line with CORDED phones! :-p

My version has 4 alternate endings. It's definitely re-watchable without the alternates. My overall impression was "The Changeling Meets The Shining."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chateau Chaumand:::The Leland Legacy:::The Voice of the Dolls [Cover Scans]

Whilst crunching on her kitty food morsels, Trixie suggested it was time I post some cover scans. One was obtained via Ebay (camera icon), the other two are from a bookseller.

I own a copy of "The Voice of the Dolls" (excellent condition), but it'll probably be a while before it's read. The sky blue background is unusual, but oddly enough it works. I love all of these covers. "Chateau Chaumand" is one I hoped to purchase, as its cover is especially colorful and detailed, and the artwork on the arch is intriguing (astrological symbols?); but the only seller I could find wanted $12.50 for it -- and that NOT including shipping and handling. Am keeping an eye out for it becoming available locally. "The Leland Legacy" is another cover I'd like to own: It's especially somber and haunting, and sea scapes are always a favorite.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jewish Gothic

Alrighty folks [whoever is reading this blog...lately I wonder if I'm simply talking to myself], I was curious to know what Jewish structures might be Gothic. We've got people from a spectrum of religious [or quasi-religious or no religious] persuasions who embrace Gothic. As architecture goes, it only stands to reason that in Europe there were Jewish Gothic structures. I found 5 via Google images, although one seems to have a Christian saint (statue) before it, but the pic is small and it's difficult to tell. The first image of a long tapered serrated roof is a synagogue. The last image is my favorite and it's a tomb (not because it's a tomb, but simply because it's so ornate and elaborate). Enjoy:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

(\*/) Roberta & Michael (\*/)

To Roberta, my very best lifelong friend: Congratulations on this your wedding day! You have my love and prayers always.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Movie: Suddenly, Last Summer [1959]

Googling for additional information will
likely result in a spoiler.

Here's a partial synopsis from Wikipedia:

PLOT - The story features Catharine Holly, a young woman who seems to go insane after her cousin Sebastian dies on a trip to Europe under mysterious circumstances. Sebastian's mother, Violet Venable, tries to cloud the truth about her son's homosexuality and his death, as she wants him to be remembered as a great artist. She threatens to lobotomize Catharine for her incoherent utterances relating to Sebastian's demise. Finally, under the influence of a truth serum, Catharine tells the gruesome story...{SNIP}

I recently mentioned having seen this film once, probably twice, years ago. It's harrowing and unforgettable. Tried finding it for sale locally to no avail; will have to mail order.

The "old" song by The Motels of the same title comes to mind as well. Seems fitting.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Devil's Daughter by Daoma Winston [1971]

Cover scan obtained from Isn't that a pretty cover? Love the big black cat especially; its eyes are green and yellow. This novel is as good on the inside; I give it 5 Stars on 1 - 5. Trixie gives it an unprecedented 12 Paws: 4 each for the cat on the cover and the 2 kittens in the story. She advises all feline readers of this blog they WILL love this novel. ;-p

Sharon Benedict is a 24-year-old career gal who lives in Washington, D.C. She has a steady boyfriend, John, and a nosy roommate named Bix. A letter arrives from the mountains of central New Mexico, near Albuquerque; it's from May Dailey, an elderly woman who is Sharon's adoptive aunt (mother's friend). May resides in Dead Dolly Creek, a nearly abandoned town which was formerly part of a gold rush. Sharon spent carefree and idyllic summers there as a child and teenager; she and Cal were an item and had enjoyed a teenaged love. In her letter May sounds troubled and frightened. Sharon, against John's wishes, decides to take a leave of absence from her desk job and visit May -- who is elderly and alone.

When Sharon arrives at Dead Dolly Creek she instantly re-embraces the place and her memories. Later she recalls not all memories were good; there were odd incidents and near accidents then. Dead Dolly Creek is even more rundown now: Shamrock's (grocer) is closed, the elderly are dying off, only the mortician and post master and gas station owner are busy. May, formerly a pretty and fastidious older woman, is now a bit disheveled and slovenly. She's also noticeably frightened and keeps two large watchdogs. Something prowls the night, scratching at her door...trying to get in. Dora and Sarah, her old friends, have recently died; May believes they were killed. Dr. Baker tut-tuts this fancy notion; does everyone in Dead Dolly Creek think they will live forever?

Sharon keeps a watchful eye on May, steps in as caretaker. She restocks May's forlorn kitchen, dusts and straightens up. She listens sympathetically to May's night-time terrors, comforts and consoles her. Dr. Baker says it's all due to the breakdown of small blood vessels in May's brain as she's aging. But Sharon suspects something evil is afoot in Dead Dolly Creek, particularly after mysterious fires start in two of the household fireplaces and May talks about "The Devil's Daughter" being after her.

Sharon's childhood friends come around, re-welcome her to town: Hetty, Cal, Beth, Art, Avel, Ed.

And then there's golden girl Evangeline with the long black hair and mysterious golden eyes. She definitely has an aura of power about her and reads tea leaves. Evangeline is not a childhood friend. She's wealthy and beautiful, a relatively recent newcomer who "just HAD to have" the village's grand old mansion. It's been refurbished. Money is no object for Evangeline, who offers to buy property from the families of the recently deceased. A friend of hers comes around, named Tom: He's allegedly an archeologist interested in the tunnels and shafts of nearby old mines. Cal does some investigating; it turns out Tom's a banker in Denver.

Meanwhile May and Sharon both continue being stalked by a big black cat. May twice succumbs to night terrors. But what terrifies Sharon are the large cougar-like track marks on the floor.

The story unfolds at a consistently fast clip. Good descriptives. There are a couple of surprising twists and turns. Very satisfying all around.

The cast of characters as I visualized them:

Sharon Benedict: Barbara Feldon
May: Ellen Corby
Cal: As described - tall, dark, handsome.
Evangeline: Julie Newmar
Dr. Baker: David Ford
Others: As described

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cover Scan: The Shop on Threnody Street [1971?]

I did begin reading this novel then set it aside. It's well written in its own way, but just wasn't my thing. It starts out with a young woman abruptly departing a college dorm out East to be reunited with friends in Chicago. We're then treated to her reminiscing about girlhood and her two best friends, one of whom was the dominant of the three; the leader. In my experience girls don't pal around in 3's; they pair off -- both in childhood and adulthood. I'm the (apparently rare) sort of female who likes a number of friends around (both genders), and 3 or 4 lady friends talking over lunch is most welcome. Anyway, the heroine's reminiscing carries on a bit too far and the doll shop factor (the owner makes every doll) is odd, as is the fact that the story supposedly centers around two characters who were of importance to the heroine, one of whom was supposedly killed (or died), but now might be alive. Yet there's no lead-in to this and her other two friends are the focus. It's so obscure and leaves you wondering why she's so anxious to return to the doll shop and find out news about these other two peripheral characters who seem entirely unimportant to the opening chapters. Maybe someone else would enjoy it. I'll defer "rating" it because my reaction to it was entirely subjective. The cover scan is from a bookseller. Lovely and unique cover art, particularly of the dolls. :-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cover Scan: Silence Is Golden by Elsie Lee [1971?]

This is the most gorgeous cover art. :-) The scan is via I saw the book online last summer and fortunately the local used bookstore had a very good copy; I snatched it up the same day and for the cover art alone. The deeply warm hues of gold, crimson and her green dress are simply smashing, darling! And I love lit candles [and lanterns].

Have yet to read it [many dozens of others are also waiting]. The back is half black and the girl/piano/candles are reproduced [that's from memory, as is the date of publication; my copy is stashed away in 1 of 4 metal boxes and I haven't the time currently to rummage around].

It's been 3 months since I browsed the Gothic section of that used bookstore. I've made a list of 4 or 5 others I'd like to obtain, and will search for them prior to placing a mail order [why pay $6.00 per when I can get them locally for 60 cents to $1.00 apiece?]. I've waited this long for the stock to circulate and replenish a bit.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mansion of Smiling Masks by Daoma Winston [1967]

I think this model might be the same as the one who posed for the bor-ing cover of "Goddess of Terror" which I reviewed below [no scan]. If not, they're practically twins. In this scan [obtained from], she reminds me of Alexandra Moltke. If that name doesn't ring a doomsday bell...! She played Victoria Winters on "Dark Shadows" [1966-71].

I give it 1 Star. Trixie gives it 0 Paws. I don't know if Ms. Winston was trying to appeal to the Psychedelic LSD crowd with this novel or what. The opening chapter is not easy to visualize [except for the heroine's LSD-like description of cloud imagery during the airplane ride], she wonders why she married a virtual stranger [I *really* dislike that ploy], the first chapter is also long and draggy, there are too many peripheral characters. Right: I didn't like it.

This novel is a serious disappointment for the simple fact that otherwise I've enjoyed Ms. Winston's storytelling. I'm just about finished with another novel of hers, which will get 5 Stars. Her "Carnaby Curse" [reviewed months ago] was another 5 Star story imo. Not sure what happened here. If it'd been the 1st novel of hers I'd read, I'd be chary of anything else penned by Ms. Winston. But she is a *good* novelist otherwise, aside from this dud.

Goddess of Terror by Adela Gale [1967]

Cover scan not available; sorry. If Absinthe were reviewing this, she might point out that it's "a rare photographic Gothic cover." I recall her mentioning that once [yes, gentle reader, be warned: I'm long on memory!]. Doesn't matter much as the photo is a let-down: The background is very dark as to be expected, but the background building [hospital? mansion?] is the vaguest blur. The model, posing as a nurse, wears a dark coat and has black hair; her face is turned slightly to the right, as though something's suddenly caught her eye; she wears a '60s style pin-on white nurse's cap. That's it...*yawn.*

I give the novel 1 Star; Trixie gives it 0 Paws. It was strangely written, the characters [aside from the heroine...sort of] are up-front bizarre. When grandpa deliberately maliciously lets the neighbor's horse go [and run many miles home to the ranch "next door" thereby causing its owner/rider tremendous inconvenience], that'd have done it for me. The heroine arrives to an insane grandmother, a strange and possessive grandfather who keeps the old dame practically prisoner, a schizoid housekeeper with highly disturbed twins and an oddly menacing groundskeeper who instantly flashes out a knife at the slightest provocation. The heroine would be gone *PRONTO* in real life, if she had half a brain. Everyone's a nut from the word "hello."

Added to this, the interesting oddball characters are kept in the background while our heroine remains confused and clueless. She's also not much of a "student nurse," considering she's absolutely frozen and helpless when faced with someone having a seizure; what's she been doing in nursing school the past two years, watching Petticoat Junction marathons? :-p Maybe this is good reading for some folks; I couldn't finish it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cover Art & Two Types of Gothic

The only of these I own is the 1st: "Out of the Fog." I was taken with its unique beauty (particularly her dress), ran to the local used bookstore and a nice copy of it was there! That was last autumn. As to the "two types of Gothic," what do I mean? Positive Gothic and Negative Gothic. Positive has values and ethics: The protagonist is caring, compassionate, conscientious, there's a happy ending. It's *so* American [happy 4th of July everyone!]. Negative Gothic is "Dark Shadows" [the old TV soap opera]. I've been a fan, but am increasingly disliking it; few redeeming qualities, everyone ends up dead or destroyed. I value Positive Gothic. To that end, what Negative Gothics I might own will be returned to the bookstore for exchange/credit. And now for the cover scans [obtained online, probably via Ebay]:

[Out of the Fog/The Sinister Voice/The Dark Watch]

Friday, July 3, 2009

+Southern Gothic+


A most unlikely source turned my interest towards Southern Gothic; he, a Southerner, suggested "Wise Blood" by Flannery O'Connor. For a list of said novels and plays, Google "Southern Gothic Wikipedia." Here's an excerpt from it:

"The Southern Gothic author usually avoids perpetuating antebellum stereotypes like the contented slave, the demure Southern belle, the chivalrous gentleman, or the righteous Christian preacher. Instead, the writer takes classic Gothic archetypes, such as the damsel in distress or the heroic knight, and portrays them in a more modern and realistic manner — transforming them into, for example, a spiteful and reclusive spinster, or a white-suited, fan-brandishing lawyer with ulterior motives.

One of the most notable features of the Southern Gothic is 'the grotesque' — this includes situations, places, or stock characters that often possess some cringe-inducing qualities, typically racial bigotry and egotistical self-righteousness — but enough good traits that readers find themselves interested nevertheless. While often disturbing, Southern Gothic authors commonly use deeply flawed, grotesque characters for greater narrative range and more opportunities to highlight unpleasant aspects of Southern culture, without being too literal or appearing to be overly moralistic."

The above novella by Carson McCullers is one, and I'd like to read it. Her novels "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and "The Member of the Wedding" are others. I'm especially curious about "Outer Dark" by Cormac McCarthy; it revolves around brother-sister incest (rape?) and pregnancy. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee is on the list, as is the play (turned 1959 film) "Suddenly, Last Summer" by Tennessee Williams. I'd seen that movie (Sunday afternoon/TV) as a teenager, starring Katharine Hepburn, Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift; though still rather young/naive, I did get THE impression of what had happened to Clift's character. It is truly chilling and Taylor's performance as "traumatized girl gone insane" was unforgettable.

Fry up some chicken, bring on the strawberry pie, dig into some good reading. ;-)