FOLLOWING THE FOLLOWERS Episode #2


Well the first episode of FOLLOWING THE FOLLOWERS was well received, so I thought it was worthwhile to kick out episode #… TWO!!!!

This new segment basically will select four or five followers of this blog (thanks to all of you who are now following this blog) and/or blogs I follow and just promote particularly interesting things I find on their pages:

Okay onto the promoting :):

Derrick Ferguson who is a fantastic pulp writer, a podcasting guru (I gave praise to his podcast BETTER IN THE DARK last time, you can subscribe to it here), as well as a great supporter of this blog, runs his own fun blog that covers flicks old and new. And even when I don’t share his enjoyment for certain movies (Ang Lee’s HULK,CLASH OF THE TITANS remake :)) his reviews are informed and fun reads. Great reviews on current flicks such as JOHN CARTER and classic flicks such as BUCK AND THE PREACHER. Take a gander here.

Jill of All Trades who writes the blog EXPERT OF NONE, has a really great blog post, that I think is applicable to a growing number of people in this economy. Namely, adults returning to school to advance their career or change their career path.

In my Dad’s day you got hired onto a job, and you stayed in it, till you retired with a pension and the thanks of a grateful company, or you dropped dead… whichever came first. But times have changed, corporate America has for the most part done away with the concept of pensions and indeed long term employees.

It’s a far more mercenary market today, where employers feel adversarial to employees and often to their customer base. So in this market, an employee has to expect to spend more time in job transition scenarios.

So Jill of All Trades really sums it up in one incredibly informative post. Her post was just what I needed to come across. Excellent job Jill of All Trades! And to those of you out there, like me, thinking of getting in some more education, whether for credit or just for life experience… swing by and check out her post here.

MesAyah- – Norwegian rapper does a writing a day, and also lists some of his favorite music. Swing by the blog and take a look here. Good stuff.

Brad runs the popular blog JIVIN ME TURKEY and on his site he picks out a movie and a quote from it, to highlight. Always fun stuff, the Mark Twain quote being a personal favorite. Swing by here and give a gander.

Jackie runs the site GET READING NOW. She has a fun review of several books. take a look here.

And last but certainly not least for this installment, Lesley and her husband run the hugely popular travel and adventure website BUCKET LIST PUBLICATIONS. One look at her site will either make you want to run out and jump out of perfectly good planes or seek medical attention. I’m leaning toward the latter. 🙂 But in all seriousness it’s a great site for the travel and adventure minded!!

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Thanks for looking and come back next time for more… FOLLOWING THE FOLLOWERS! 🙂 . Oh and here’s the link to episode #1.

DVD Review & Contest: THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS by H.P. Lovecraft

I do find it amazing how much and how quickly you can write, when on an Absinthe/Peyote high.

Hmmm.

Interesting.

Anyhow, onto the blog post, speaking of mind altering experiences…

I put a lot of work into these blog posts, and whether you agree or disagree with what is said, you can come here day in and day out, and know this is a man who will chew his veins open, in an attempt to say it well.

I strive for that type of ethic in myself, and I appreciate that kind of dedication in others. And this post is about a whole group of such people.

The good folks at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society were kind enough to send me a screening copy of their film THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS, the second in their feature length HP Lovecraft films (The first being a 72 minute film, done in the style of the Silents, called The Call of Cthulhu: The Celebrated Story by H.P. Lovecraft).

The Whisperer in Darkness DVD

The Call of Cthulhu: The Celebrated Story by H.P. Lovecraft DVD

Going into the story, while familiar with quite a few Lovecraft stories (some I like, some I don’t), I was unfamiliar with THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. So beyond knowing the standard Lovecraft constants of Miskatonic University, a creeping darkness from beyond, and a penchant for New England and florid language, I was a blank slate.

A dynamic opening shot, very much crafted in the style of the period, manages to set the tone of the film. Something that is not a homage, but rather a wonderful invocation of early 20th century film language.

As a fan of German Expressionism and Film Noir, the deep focus, and lush B&W photography, and consuming shadows and sharp angles they utilize to tell this period tale, very much play to my personal preferences, and I would think the the preferences of any who bring an appreciation of Universal Films or even Hammer Films (they made some very compelling B&W films) to the table.

But the look of a film will only take you so far, if you don’t have a strong protagonist and a strong actor to helm your film.

In Matt Foyer’s Albert Wilmarth, this film has both.

Matt Foyer’s performance is excellent. All the more so because he takes a character type that we are all familiar with from legions of horror films and books, namely the disbelieving and infuriating skeptic (who blithely saunters into a danger that the audience of course sees coming), and makes of a caricature something with character.

So the strength of Foyer’s performance, complemented by the writing, is that his Albert Wilmarth doesn’t come across as a fool, or an obtuse, to the point of stupidity, skeptic. His Wilmarth comes across as a sympathetic character, who believes in an orderly world, a rational world.

And we journey with him, as slowly those worthy beliefs… begin to crumble.

There’s something quite likable and endearing about Matt Foyer throughout. It’s a performance you’d be hard pressed to find in a film with ten times the budget. and the whole cast gives such compelling performances.

Among them Stephen Blackehart as the ever smiling Charlie Tower and Daniel Kaemon as the sardonic P.F. Noyes.

This is Kaemon’s first feature film, it will definitely not be his last.

And you can just go up and down the credits and everywhere you stop you’re going to find an actor who gave a great performance in this film, from Barry Lynch as the chuckling Henry Akeley, Matt Lagan as Nathaniel Ward (a friend, the voice of caution, who has been to the abyss… and endured) and impressive young newcomer Autumn Wendel as Hannah Masterson, It’s the kind of film actors are proud to have on their cv, one rich in performances and chances… to act.

And the crew is every bit as talented as the cast.

Beautifully shot film, smartly written (and I’ll come back to that in a minute), impressively scored by Troy Sterling Nies (I like how the percussion at times rolls up on you), for the most part well paced (it does begin to feel a bit long in the 2nd act, but stick with it, as the film kicks in the burners with the third act), and excellently directed by Sean Branney.

The special effects are used sparsely and effectively, particularly given the budgetary constraints. Most of the effects are designed not to call attention to themselves, and work very well. There’s some CGI that rears its head pretty massively in the third act, that can’t help but call attention to itself… but by that point I didn’t mind it.

By that time you are either with the story or you are not, and I was with it and quite enjoying myself.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I was on the fence with the film, during the 2nd act (almost completely set in the house). during that juncture the film began to feel… long.

But the third act kicks in, and it’s all quite engrossing till the end. The final act making the film for me, all in all… creating a film that not only am I happy to have seen, but very happy to recommend.

And if, like me, you enjoy making of featurettes and behind the scenes segments then splurge and get the Deluxe Two-DVD Set. I am a huge special features fan, for me a movie worth owning is a movie worth watching again, and one you want to listen to commentary about.

THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS is that kind of film.

The second disk in the deluxe set also sports a couple easter eggs, appropriate considering when I’m posting this. One easter egg involves a rabbit, or maybe it’s a guinea pig, some kind of furry creature. 🙂 Then there’s one ‘after wrap’ easter egg scene, and of course numerous extras. As a package, it’s informative and fun.

Also, I’ve never seen a film with this many subtitle options. If you want to learn 23 different languages get this DVD. 🙂 (but No Amharic? No Swahili?)

And one comment regarding THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS film versus HP Lovecraft’s THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS short story: There are MAJOR differences.

I picked up an audio reading of the story after watching the film, and at the risk of annoying Lovecraft fanatics everywhere, while Lovecraft’s original is a richly detailed story, I don’t think it is a good story.

The Whisperer in Darkness: Collected Short Stories Vol I (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) (v. 1)

Yep, I said it.

Bring it.

BRING IT!

Fools will have me uppercutting you around here! 🙂

But seriously, I was underwhelmed by the original story. and I think the filmmakers’ changes (addition of characters, creations of scenes, adding a third act) turned an aloof stream of consciousness vignette into a dramatic full featured story. The film took four years to complete, three of those years being the two writers working on the script. My humble opinion, that time and effort paid off.

Lovecraftian purists may disagree. However considering this film was made by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society I don’t really see anyone being more of a purist than these guys.

So Final Verdict, on a scale of: ‘avoid’, ‘catch it on tv maybe’, ‘rent or stream it’, or ‘Buy the DVD’. My vote is Buy It. It’s one you’ll revisit. Grade: B+.

And putting my money where my mouth is, the 15th person to leave a comment saying “This sounds great! Thank you HT and The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society! I want a copy!” wins a copy of the DVD.

Yep, I said it.

Leave a comment, be the 15th person, win a DVD.

I won’t post any of those comments, I approve all comments so nothing gets posted automatically, they come direct to me. The 15th post (only one post per person is counted so no multi posting) wins the DVD. Include your email address when you leave your comment so I can notify you if you win.

Cool?

Cool!

Now get out of here and hug somebody! Did I tell you your Momma dresses you funny?!!

Well now you know. 🙂 .

Oh, I’m kidding! I love you gals and guys!!

—-HT

Oh, and one more thing before you leave. Just, uhh… turn off those lights.

Yes, yes like that.

Now follow my voice,

yes…

yes…

come closer. closer….

closer. I want you here,

that’s it

beside me,

in the darkness…

so that I may…

Whisper to you.

(Man, I just creeped my own self out. :))

THE TOP 3 Actor Ad-Libs of All Time!!!

To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, Actors, their salaries aside, tend to have to put up with more than their share of disrespect. Generally from people that don’t have anything close to talent, and their only joy is pushing people from pedestals. The unwashed masses that have nothing but venom to spout about the personal lives of the Cruises or the Woods or the Gibsons.

As long as someone’s personal life isn’t affecting my life, or is not changing the laws or policy I have to endure, I don’t give a good darn. Someone wants to be a Scientologist or Mormon or the last Scion of Zion… more power to em.

I tend to give people more leeway than most. Mostly because though I don’t believe in much, I do believe that ‘let him without sin, cast the first stone’. So Romney needs to shut the eff up. :).

And getting back to actors, in particular, they are often seen as primadonnas, who get paid much and bring little. And no doubt there are the ones for whom that belief is completely accurate. But on the whole I think it’s something of an impressive calling.

To give everything, your hurt and your joy, to crowd and stage and screen.

Writers particularly tend to view Actors adversarially, ‘Don’t you dare change my line!’.

But when you have a committed actor, feeling the part, living the role, being the moment…their ad-libs, their additions…. can be priceless. Can be in certain cases, the most memorable lines of a film.

Three standout cases come to mind.

And counting down….

#3!!

PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID- I’ve mentioned this before, but can never get enough PAT GARRET & BILLY THE KID. 🙂

R.C. Armstrong, born in 1917, (95 years ago, and by all reports still going strong) delivered one of the quintessential lines in Pekinpah’s PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID. As is well documented, Pekinpah had a way of riling up actors to get a performance out of them, he did that with the 6’3″ mean as a rattlesnake R.C. Armstrong and Kris Kristofferson had the bad luck of being the object of that realism. :). R.C. bringing his fundamental upbringing into the crafting of this line…

“Your problem is you don’t know about Jesus! I’ll show you! I’ll take you for a walk across Hell, on a Spider Web!”

What an awesome line, next up….

#2!!!!

THEY LIVE- Roddy Piper’s biggest step from the squared circle, into the lights of Hollywood came with this John Carpenter film, and the wrestler turned actor attacked it. Giving a great performance in a great film, opposite the always impressive Keith David. But even more than his performance, it’s probably this line he added, that stood out for a whole generation of people seeing the film—

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

heh, heh, heh, I never get tired of that line (A really close followup to that, from the same movie is..“Life’s a b*tch… and she’s back in heat!”. Aww that roddy Roddy Piper! 🙂 And the number #1 Actor Added Line of ALL Time IS!!!!!

Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner!!!!!

BLADE RUNNER- Rutger Hauer seeing the climatic scene of Ridley Scott’s chaotic production needed something, came up with this, my favorite bit of ‘not in the script or the book’ writing, that anyone has brought to the table—

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Well all three actors take a bow. Your Awards are being kept safe for you, until you ask me for them :).

As far as you writers, you can all stand suitably chastised. And all you film fans… go out there and treat yourself to a classic flick!!

Enjoy!!! And remember (leaving you with one more Actor Added line)…

Who Loves Ya Baby? 🙂

FOLLOWING THE FOLLOWERS Episode #1

Holy Hanna my frigging back is killing me!

Is there a chiropractor in the house? A buxom masseuse? 🙂

This is what comes of my Shaolin Temple training methods. Damn David Caradine and his Kung Fu TV show!! 🙂 .

Well enough about that, onto some crazy (crazier?) blogging. I came up with this new segment that basically will select four or five followers of this blog (thanks to all of you who are now following this blog) and/or blogs I follow and just promote particularly interesting things I find on their pages:

Okay onto the promoting :):

THE SHADOW: The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930 – 1954

Martin Grams Jr, the writer of the indispensable THE SHADOW:THE HISTORY AND MYSTERY OF THE RADIO PROGRAM:1930-1954 has an intriguing post on Studios cutting corners when it comes to presenting box sets of classic television programs, specifically why some episodes may be missing or music changed, from the show you remember, once it reaches DVD.

He Writes: “When Season Two of HAWAII FIVE-O came out, fans were shocked to learn that the episode, “Bored, She Hung Herself,” was not included. Taking a second look at the cover art, the box states “The Second Season” —- not “The Complete Second Season.” In this particular episode, a person was found hung to death and it appeared they performed a stunt of Yoga so complicated, they they strangled themselves to death. In real life, a man who did Yoga wondered if that position would indeed strangle the breath out of himself. He tried it, he died, and the family sued. During the settlement, producer Leonard Freeman agreed not to re-air the episode in re-runs. And it seems CBS preferred not to include it that episode in the Second Season box set.”

Well that’s pretty wild. I had never heard that story before. And while I definitely feel for the family, I seriously don’t see how you can hold the studio responsible, for what strikes me as, again with all possible respect, an act of incomprehensible stupidity.

It’s like me watching Looney Tunes, and deciding to drop a safe on my head to see if it will make me flat. :). I think my family would have sense enough to know I had gone insane, and the fault lies with me and not a TV show :), It’s ludicrous.

Anyhow, I’m not even a HAWAII FIVE-O fan, and now I have to see that stupid episode. Read the full very intriguing article here .

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Conductors of the Pit: Artaud, Holan, Cesaire, Vallejo, Csoori, Breton, Neruda, Radnoti, Rimbaud, Hierro, Bador, Juhasz, Szocs

Stella is one of my newer followers, and I do eventually make time to check out web links if you include them when you sign up. I followed Stella’s link and saw a poem she wrote called ‘You Might Kill Me” . The poem, her structure is very reminiscent of the poetry of Pablo Neruda as translated by Clayton Eshleman. Mixing elegantly our hopes with our despairs, our beauties with our horrors.


“I can tell by your eyes

you’ve seen the vacant buildings’

toothless mouths”

It’s quite a stunning poem. You should go read it. And I hope she does more poems.

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One of the earliest followers I have is Wayland Productions, the crew who runs the audio series http://www.zombiepodcast.com. No doubt my coverage of all things audio drama, be it podcasts or old time radio put me on their radar. That said I’m not a fan of ghoul/flesh eating horror, what the west has misnamed zombie horror. Just no interest in the fetishizing of cannibalism and barbarism. I’m just not interested. That said, a lot of people are.

I’m a grumpy old fogie, and my weak stomach aside you have to give the talented cast and crew huge respect for their consistency. They’ve been putting out episodes since 2009. add to that they have one of the best designed websites out there. So give the site a gander and if ‘ghoul type’ horror is your thing, then give a listen here. I always support creativity… particularly in audio productions, and you don’t get any more creative than these guys and gals!

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Author and Monarch of Mayhem crowned writer Derrick Ferguson’s BETTER IN THE DARK is a podcast I’ve praised before, so I’m going to do it again and urge you to take a listen to their latest episode here.

Fun times!

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Thanks for looking and come back next time for more,,, FOLLOWING THE FOLLOWERS! 🙂 .

To Find in Motion

Man I really suck at the guitar. :).

This self teaching thing… not going well.

Oh well, that’s a complaint for another post, this post I wanted to talk to you… about traveling.

I like traveling.

I like to move. I like to… find in motion what was lost in space, to quote Tennessee Williams.

I like to find in motion, what was lost in space.

I like traveling by train, I can deal with traveling by bus, but flying? Due to what our government has made of the flying experience, the chore just getting to your plane has become, I abhor flying. Well, let me correct that, I like flying; I abhor the cancer inducing process it has become just getting to your flight. :).

So most weekends I hit the train, or the bus. I could do the car, but part of traveling, is about sitting back, relaxing, watching the country at speed, reading, writing; all things you can’t do when behind the wheel and stressing in traffic.

So I get on the train or the bus, and I…find in motion what was lost in space.

Last weekend the seven or so hours on the road gave me a chance to read a book that has been on my to-read pile for sometime. Namely Richard Laymon’s THE WOODS ARE DARK. I’ll talk more on that later, suffice to say, the book defines page-turning.

A horror/thriller novel, the late Laymon has his share of writing issues in this book, with wildly inconsistent character behavior and actions (and these inaccuracies are both in the original and revised edition) but he moves the story along at such a pace that you don’t pause too long pondering the inconsistent, illogical, even nonsensical behavior of his characters. I was dragged along by his story all the way to the curt end. Flaws and all, it was a fun read and a recommended read.

But more on that later.

This weekend, I’m not sure where the road will lead me yet. I have an idea, but I’m not a huge planner, I never know until I’m on the bus, or the train, or in rare occasions the plane. I never know— until I’m in motion.

Finding in motion what was lost in space.

Three tentative books on the pile to finish up this weekend while traveling (when home I’m so busy doing, that reading can get difficult to make time for, so traveling is a godsend), the options are:

OMENS by Richard Gavin. I’ve read most of the stories in this collection, but I have two or so left. And a couple I wouldn’t mind rereading.

AS THE SUN GOES DOWN by Tim Lebbon

USE ONCE THEN DESTROY by Conrad Williams

I’ve read a couple stories from the last two books, really, really strong. All three books and writers share a thematic feel, the use of understated horror.

So yeah, looking forward to some good reading, which will translate to some reviews in the next couple of posts. And yes the MONARCHS OF MAYHEM revised Interview schedule will go up this weekend as well. So the death threats can stop now. 🙂

Thanks for looking, come back tomorrow and I’ll have some wacky pics or something. Till then be well and be good. 🙂

Movie Showdown: THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS vs GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Movie Showdown: THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS vs GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Rather than the differences of these two films what strikes me is the similarities. Both are 1946 films. Both big budget A pictures for the time, with high profile directors (Lewis Milestone while a forgotten director today, for his time helmed many a top-tier film). Both successes, the films share that theme of young people and the great expectations the adults in their lives have for them, and what becomes of these children because of those… great expectations.

In David Lean’s seminal GREAT EXPECTATIONS the story is told from the boy’s perspective, (Pip played by Anthony Wager and John Mills) who meets a girl (Estella played by Jean Simmons and Valerie Hobson)who is also subject to…great expectations. Greater expectations even than his.

[A nice aside about the two young actors who played Pip and Estrella comes from Sean Axmaker of TCM. He writes:

‘The most visually evocative scenes in the film, however, take place in Miss Havisham’s shadowy mansion. [Pip] Summoned by the mysterious matron to her shuttered manor, he enters a Gothic haunted house that time forgot and finds an eccentric, possibly mad dowager in a rotting wedding dress, holding court in a musty throne room dominated by a decomposing wedding cake, a reminder of the day she was jilted at the altar. Havisham has sent for Pip to become a playmate for her ward Estella (Jean Simmons), an impertinent young beauty with whom Pip immediately falls in love. Apparently, young Anthony Wager [the Actor] also fell in love with [17 year old] Simmons (how could a thirteen-year-old boy with stars in his eyes not?) and even played the hero in real life. According to Simmons, her dress caught on fire from a candle she was carrying through a scene up a flight of dark stairs. “Everybody stood aghast, but Anthony came and tore it off me and put it out. This boy was the one who saved me.”]

In Lewis Milestone’s STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS the story is told from the girl’s perspective, who (as in EXPECTATIONS) is molded by the expectations of a domineering matriarch who shapes her to marry for power and money.



“He wanted to make something of his son, and I was tied to them both from that time on… [He used my guilt to make me marry his son]. Sam you’re not going to go away again! I want you here, Sam! I’ve lived so much inside myself. So choked with wanting something else that lives and breathes, so desperate for air and room to breathe it in! Oh, please, oh please… stay here.”
—Barbara Stanwyck as Martha in THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS

And in both films the course of those lives are neither easy nor straight, but undulating tales of loves deferred, and tragedies… born.

And both films were the first appearance of two future stars. GREAT EXPECTATIONS being the first film appearance of Alec Guinness, and STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS being the first film appearance of Kirk Douglas.

[Guinness’ performance is little more than a bit part, but Kirk Douglas is revelatory in his first screen role. Imbuing a difficult role, with a suffering that makes him neither hero nor villain… but something more sad, and memorable than both. But everyone gives strong performances in STRANGE LOVE, Heflin an oft dismissed leading man gives, perhaps his best performance here. Barbara Stanwyck adds some rare vulnerability to her tough as nails persona. However, arguably it’s Lizabeth Scott’s performance as Antonia Marachek, the one caught in the crossfire, that lets everything work in this film. That and the script of Robert Rossen (of ROARING TWENTIES and HUSTLER fame) that has to rank as one of his best.]

And finally the ultimate comparison, both films… come highly recommended. 🙂 .

You can view THE STRANGE LOVES OF MARTHA IVERS online here.

And when ready to purchase there is a great Criterion DVD for David Lean’s film, loaded with special features. However, the various DVD versions of STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS are, on the whole, bare-bones affairs, sporting no special features. Check the links below.

Great Expectations (The Criterion Collection)

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

Strange Love of Martha Ivers [Blu-ray]

Hope you enjoyed today’s selections, and come back tomorrow for the much awaited next installment of… WEDNESDAY’S WORDS! Till then… be good. 🙂