Thursday, 31 March 2011

31 - A New Web Based Horror Serial!

Now dear friends, we’ve all heard the word ‘webisode’ many times before now. And I’m guessing that many of you, like myself, aren’t massively inspired by it. And indeed who can blame us, for the humble webisode is now most often associated with assorted deleted scenes, off cuts and scrag ends that promise exclusive content but actually rarely soar above the level of custom made teaser material and even less frequently adding anything of value to the stories of their parent properties.

And therein lies the problem: so often in the micro world of webisodes, they are just promotional material for bigger old media formats like movies and TV series. As they are seen as such, rarely do they actually compliment the stories they are created to promote. Partly this is due to the fact that there is a perceived divide in the audience; it is believed that only a minority of those who will go to the theatre or tune in will be net-savvy and therefore no narrative content of any real consequence will be ‘wasted’ in the webisodes.

Generally these days, thanks to the persistent belief that we are all low attention span morons, TV in particular shies away from the serial format. Even in these days of shows regularly sporting season long story arcs, there’s still the belief that each episode must self contain so not to confuse the casual channel surfer and the hard of thinking. Cliff-hangers and multipart stories are often only allowed out to play for season finales.

However things weren’t always this way; indeed the very word ‘webisode’ was coined way back in 1995 – the pre-Cambrian Period of the Internet – by Scott Zakarin to describe the instalments of his story The Spot that was being serialised online. And it’s my great pleasure to tell you all about a new project 31 that’s reclaiming the webisode from the barren netherworlds that lie between trailers and product, and bringing it back to its roots as purely web-based serial format.

Here’s the official trailer –

And the story line for 31 is as follows –
She wakes up alone, trapped, surrounded by darkness, with no memory of how she got there or even who she is. Will she escape? And even more importantly, who or what awaits her outside her prison if she does?
Now those of you running away gibbering about ‘torture porn’, get back here right now! Thankfully 31 is not the latest tired echo of Hostel but is a supernatural thriller promising a great many twists and turns along the way and good solid mystery at its core.

And here’s the highly intriguing part, 31 will unfold in 31 episodes, each of 31 seconds, over 31 days, beginning today the 31st of March, debuting at 3.31 pm ET.

The project is being helmed by LC Cruell, Shriekfest award winner and author of numerous short tales, who says :
Never before has a story been told in such a way. It has the story arc of a film with the structure of television, told cliff-hanger by cliff-hanger, within the attention span of the Internet. It’s the best of all three worlds
Now that’s a bold claim, but as anyone conversant with the history of popular art forms will know, artists of every stripe often produce their best work when working within tight constraints, whether it be poets working in haiku and villanelle, musicians knocking out blistering albums in their bedrooms, or directors finding innovative artistic solutions to low budget problems.

For me personally, the lure of a serial built upon the time-honoured structure of a series of cliff-hangers is pretty irresistible in itself. It may well be wrapped up in the cyber glamour of the digital age but this a much needed return to one of the classic modes of story telling, and I’ll be faithfully tuning in every day to see how 31 weaves its spell.

31 begins today! So point your browser and check it out! And you can keep up to date with 31 on Twitter here and Facebook here

Sunday, 27 March 2011

HYPNOBOBS 25 - The Lives & Times of Dr Phibes Part I

This week, Mr Jim Moon embarks on an art deco odyssey into the world of the Twentieth Century's most remarkable man - musician, lover, inventor and murderer - yes, it's the abominable Doctor Anton Phibes!

DIRECT DOWNLOADHYPNOBOBS 25 - The Lives & Times of Dr Phibes Part I

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Wednesday, 23 March 2011

What do you think is the best ever horror movie sequel?

So asked Cyberschizoid... Hold on to your hats, we waxed lyrical on this one...

Ah sequels, the great paradox of movie making! We always want another helping of a particularly cinematic delight and yet so often when the studios oblige we discover that actually we’ve had our fill! Of course for the genre fan there is a certain pleasure in watching every sequel squeezed out of an ailing franchise, born from an enticing cocktail of completism and schadenfreude. However contrary to the laws of diminishing returns, there are good horror sequels out there…

Going back to the golden days of Universal chillers, a strong case could be made for Dracula’s Daughter and even Son of Dracula being movies that actually eclipse the Tod Browning origin. The former is intelligent, moody and seemingly anticipates the artistic direction Val Lewton would take a few years later, while the latter serves up the vampiric thrills and dynamic action that Bela Lugosi's outing as the Count was sorely missing. However with only tenuous links to the original, for all their charms, neither can be considered full blooded sequels as they don’t really continue the story lines laid out in the first.

On the other paw, Larry Talbot’s second screen outing, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, was scripted with close attention to the continuity established in both the original and to a lesser extent the preceding Frankenstein saga, however despite the extraordinary fondness I have for this first creature crossover, it doesn’t really match either The Wolf Man or Frankenstein. And the same is true of many returning cinematic fiends from that era; the Mummy, the Invisible Man, Dr X, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and King Kong… And indeed this pattern holds true for many franchises after the black and white age.

Messrs Pinhead and Myers never quite topped their debuts, whereas Fred Krueger, despite an impressive Part III and a New Nightmare couldn't equal his first foray into our nightmares. Mrs Voorhees’ little boy is a different matter, actually starting his cinematic career proper in Friday 13th Part II. And despite strong competition from the gritty Part IV – the Final Chapter and the tongue in cheek Part VI – Jason Lives, ultimately Jason is still just following in his dear departed mother’s footsteps – a good sequel in our book should expand the story not just retell the first.

Now on this front, Hammer probably faired best. For example, their decision to concentrate on the exploits of the Baron rather than his creature in their Frankenstein cycle yielded a plethora of interesting stories. But as fun as the likes of Frankenstein Created Woman are, they do all largely follow the pattern laid down in Curse of Frankenstein - Peter Cushing builds a monster which runs amok. But also the continuity between the films becomes somewhat fragile; yes it’s more Frankenstein adventures that the viewer can connect but they don’t exactly neatly fit together as chapters in a saga.

However in their Draculain endeavours, they did produce on the finest sequels ever made -Dracula Prince of Darkness - which for many achieves that rare height of actually topping the parent movie. However as magnificent as this movie is, and a worthy contender for best horror sequel, for us there is one teeny tiny bat in the ointment, namely that Dracula never speaks. Maybe it’s was too much Tomb of Dracula in our formative years but we miss Chris Lee’s baroque tones!

Moving onto the other big guns, while Evil Dead II is an intoxicating blend of the macabre, the comical and the downright mad, we not entirely sure it counts as a sequel, given that Raimi essentially reboots the storyline completely afresh with a simplified version of the tale told in the original in the first reel.

In a similar nitpicking fashion, we also disqualifying Aliens for the best horror sequel crown too. Why? Well as fine as Jim Cameron’s flick is, and in many regards it does do everything right – continuing continuity with the first film and also expanding the storyline – our problem is that the second instalment of the xenomorph story is an action film first, a sci-fi flick second, a monster movie third and so horror is very much pushed into the background. Now calm down, we love Aliens to bits but it does lacks the creeping dread and gothic-in-space atmosphere that made Ridley Scott’s original so remarkable. The trouble is the titular creatures are reduced to dumb drones, whereas we reckon the beast in the first film could have took out the colony and those lunkhead marines all on its own.

Now George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead holds special place in sequeldom’s heart; aside from the continuing saga helmed by Romero himself, it’s also spawned two alternative follow-ups, Dan O’Bannon’s horror comedy classic Return of the Living Dead and Luci Fulci’s Zombi II aka Zombie Flesh Eaters, which turn begat sequels of their own. Of course as good as the Fulci and O’Bannon movies were, easily the best is George’s own Dawn of the Dead. Masterfully expanding on the zombie apocalypse he created in the first film, exploring a wide variety of themes and subtexts and tying with Hitchock’s Psycho in terms of influence on horror cinema, Dawn of the Dead is a masterpiece. And it’s only the fact that there is no character continuity – after all Dawn of the Dead is set in the same universe but none of the original cast survived from Night of the Living Dead - that keeps it off the top spot…

Astute readers will probably have guessed our nomination for best horror sequel by virtue of the fact we didn’t mention it earlier when talking of the Universal Monsters… Yes, we’re giving the crown to James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. This follow up feature is flawless in every regard, it seamlessly follows on from Frankenstein, brings plenty of fresh characters, plot elements and themes and equals if not outdoes the first in overall quality. It’s one of the earliest film sequel in Hollywood history, a textbook example of how to craft another cinematic chapter, and is still one of the best follow-ups ever created.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

HYPNOBOBS ...Naturally

Due to various factors, there's only an apology and the shortest of short stories this week, from scifi legend Frederic Brown. (Ab)normal service will be resumed next week with The Lives & Times of Dr Anton Phibes!


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Thursday, 17 March 2011

TWIHARD PART III - Bad Moon Rising

As a companion piece to The Black Dog Podcast Twihard marathon (episodes #62 to #64), I too took up the challenge to watch all three Twilight movies. In Twihard Part I, we examined the brouhaha surrounding this franchise, and in Part II dissected the first screen instalment of the saga of Bella and Edward. A dubious claims hangs heavily in the air like a leading man reduced to a yellow smoke cameo… Oh, do not ask “what is it?”, let us go and make our visit…

New Moon (2009)
So despite a somewhat mixed critical reaction, Twilight had managed to pull into a very healthy profit (over ten times its budget), and so the second adaption was quickly rushed into production. In fact New Moon was announced the day after the first flicks opening – one presumes that it had already made its money back in first night sales alone. However what’s more unusual than this record breaking green-lighting time, well at least for fans of the Star Trek and Friday 13th sagas, is that this time around Paramount actually increased the budget for the sequel.

The original cast were secured and Melissa Rosenberg was back too to handle the script. However Hardwicke was not to return to the director’s chair, claiming the time restrictions of the production were not to her taste, and so Chris Weitz was brought in to bring Meyer’s second novel to the screen. Whereas Hardwicke had seemed a canny choice to helm a Twilight adaptation, Weitz’s looks a bit of an odd fit; while co writing and directing About A Boy showed he had the chops to handle emotional themes and literary adaptations, his earlier foray American Pie was a very different take to American teenagers and his most recent directing job was the box office failure The Golden Compass, another translation of a book for younger readers to the screen, which looked pretty but made mincemeat of the original novel. Even considering the long and trouble production of this film, which somehow managed to annoy both religious zealots and rabid atheists at the same freaking time, it’s still surprising Paramount gave the reins to a director who had so recently failed to launch a successful franchise aimed at the same cash-in market dominated by Harry Potter that Twilight is aiming for. Often such a debacle would land you in Director’s Jail quicker than you could say ‘Alan Smithee’. Then again the detractors of Twilight may well say that getting the job of helming New Moon amounts to the same…

So then, I came to this movie literally minutes after the credits of the first had rolled. I had intended doing this marathon on a one movie per night basis, however the first Twilight had charmed enough to slap the next disc into the machine straight away. But tellingly, after watching New Moon I was in no mood to plunge into Eclipse. Now I can understand why some folk rate this entry in the series higher than the first but personally I found it to be something of an ordeal.

Partly this may be due to the source material. Firstly plot-wise the meat of this movie; the blooming and subsequent wilting of the romance between Jacob and Bella, plays far too closely like a retread of Twilight with werewolves replacing the vampires. To certain extent I can let this slide; after all, a great many sagas and franchises often are guilty of just delivering more of the same.

But what I have real trouble forgiving is the somewhat dubious about the whole plot thread which has Bella recklessly putting herself in danger just to catch a glimpse of a foggy phantom Edward. Perhaps I’m showing my age here – I’m at that stage in life when if I see scantily clad young ladies on the street I tend to think “they’ll catch their death of cold dressed like that!” rather than breaking into a Sid James leer – but I really couldn’t help fretting about what kind of role model Bella is providing here, and I pray that Meyer’s novel handles this better than Weitz does on screen, because what we actually see is reckless and extremely stupid and I dread to think that some impressionable teens may get the idea that putting themselves at risk is a great way of reconnecting with their former beaus.

But the wider implications aside, none this actually does much to endear us to Kirstin Stewart’s Bella. Now technically Stewart was somewhat less of an irritant in this flick – for much of it she is supposed to be heart broken and depressed which actually suits the ultra-moody perma-frown performance she’s reprising from the first film – but any sympathy this matching of the narrative tone and her face-like-a-smacked-arse delivery might have elicited is totally undercut by the courting death routine. In Twilight Bella generally annoyed me through Stewart’s reading of the role, and while she was better in this outing, in New Moon it’s the character herself and her scripted actions than wound me up.

However in fairness, we do get to see her actually look happy for a brief time. When she eventually succumbs to the charms of Jacob’s company, we even get to see her smile and have some fun with her childhood chum whose slowly morphing into boyfriend material. Now these are some of the best sequences in the movie; they are gently naturalistic, touchingly warm and not over played. And besides getting to witness the once a century breaking of the witch’s spell that locks Stewart’s face in glower mode, Taylor Lautner gets to step into the limelight.

Now in the first film, he had impressed me with his relaxed, likeable and subtle performance, and the promise showed in his brief appearance comes to full fruit in the courtship of Bella. However when his lycanthropic heritage come into play and we move out of the blossoming romance section and into the subsequenct saddening wilting that is the “I can’t be with you” heart break, his performance seems to go downhill. Some may say that this is a simple of case of a young actor who can excel in a supporting role but hasn’t yet the dramatic confidence to play centre stage, and there is probably an element of truth in that.

However I think the trouble is emanating from two behind the camera areas. Firstly there’s a distinct change in the lines he’s being asked to deliver once he becomes a werewolf – instead of well crafted and realistic dialogue, once the wolf is ascendant he mainly seems to get ponderous stilted speeches. However this is a minor problem, the real trouble is the way Weitz shoots the scenes. Basically he seems to stick the camera on a tripod then (presumably) fucks off for a coffee, leaving poor old Taylor just to stand there, metaphorically as well as literally shirtless, spouting exposition Rosenberg’s script has mistaken for high drama. If I hadn’t recognised Weitz’s name, I could have sworn that New Moon was made by someone with a lot of daytime TV soap on their CV, for this just propping up the camera and just calling action reeks of the kind of ‘quick get it in the can!’ direction you see on The Young & The Witless. I can only assume that Weitz thought that the sight of Jacob’s six pack was height of drama in itself.

And as a whole New Moon suffers from a tendency to concentrate on looking good rather telling the story, a failing that it shares with Weitz’s previous flick The Golden Compass. Now it’s true that one of the golden rules of cinema is show, not tell, however that’s not a license to leave your actors floundering in dull static shots in key dramatic scenes, or to expect pretty colours to distract from the fact that the pace of story telling is erratic and often flagging.

There’s a strong stench of style over substance throughout the entire film and while one may be charitable and blame the rapid production schedule for the film’s patchily substance and general lack of dramatic weight, Weitz’s directorial choices must also be held to account. For example, while the movie’s colour palette is lush and gorgeous, overflowing with opulent golds, vivid greens and striking reds. The trouble is though; this vision inspired by Italian art doesn’t make sense for the mood of the story line or its central location. Now this gold and crimson palette makes perfect sense for the final act in Volterra but not for Forks…

Whereas Catherine Hardwicke gave us a gloomy milieu for Twilight, present Forks as a town drenched in blues and almost perpetually overcast by slate coloured rainclouds. And hence you could easily suspend disbelief and buy that Carlisle and his brood of friendly bloodsuckers could blend into human society thanks to the endless rain haunted days. But in New Moon it’s dripping in honey hued tones and you wonder how on earth the vampires get by in this now sun-kissed clime. Presumably Dr Carlisle’s patients must be dying in droves during New Moon thanks to a string of sick days caused by the persistent appearances of what Gollum referred to as “evil yellow face” in Forks a la Weitz.

And I can only assume that casting Michael Sheen as Aro of the Volturi was more to do with having a credible big name that would look good on the poster than giving the story some dramatic gravitas with a highly respected actor. Now don’t get me wrong, I generally love Michael Sheen’s performances as much as the next film buff but in this outing I suspect he was extracting the urine because Weitz seems not to have noticed he was doing a Tony Blair impersonation. As cameos from high classy acts in low brow movies go, Bill Nighy fared far better with the whole vampire elder routine in Underworld than Sheen does in New Moon.

However in fairness, Weitz’s visual flair does mean that as a whole New Moon looks more like a blockbuster movie than the first film, which with Hardwicke at the wheel more resembled a low budget independent offering. And certainly Weitz seems more at home in serving up the special effects and action scenes but this seems to have come at a cost of the drama. But despite the vampire action looking far better in this outing than the previous one, I am honestly at a loss to explain why the werewolves are still on the ropey side.

Apparently the special effects crew handling the lycanthropes spent a good deal of time studying the real lupines and going on jollies to Wolf Mountain Sanctuary. All of which came as something of surprise as the first appearance of a transformed werewolf is simply ghastly. The CGI in bear in The Wolf Man remake got a great deal of flack, but in comparison to this… this abomination that digital bruin looks nearly convincing. This wolf looks like its bulging in random places and the fur is rippling and changing more than a chameleon crossing a tartan rug – honestly how this passed the grade for the final cut is beyond me.

Admittedly the rest of the wolf effects aren’t nearly as bad, but still you don’t want the audience’s first look at your lead creatures to be so shoddily done. rather than thrilling or frightening, having such a ghastly debut has the effect of destroying any belief in the beasts right from the outset. And while the rest of the movie doesn’t have any shots of werewolves looking like they’ve got the parasites from Cronenberg’s Shivers squirming under their pelts, it appeared to me that throughout the flick their size seemed to vary somewhat; sometimes as big as ponies but at other seemingly more like young rhinos. A minor quibble maybe but firstly I may not have noticed if their first appearance wasn’t so botched and secondly Weitz should really be paying attention to such details.

So then to wrap up, in some regards New Moon is superior to Twilight but only in superficial ways. While it closer to the horror heartlands than its predecessor, exploring and expanding the mythology of the novels, and plays more like a Hollywood popcorn flick than an indie teen angst movie, it still largely failing in the same areas and that is simply that it’s fumbling the dramatics of the central relationships: again it’s a case of the problem not being a watering down of horror tropes but not delivering the emotional punch the romance should have.

And while New Moon expands the sense of the fantastic and takes us further into the secret world of the supernatural; the heart of the film is lost beneath the gloss and flashy tricks. And all the emphasis on the gaudy visuals made me appreciate the first film’s low key atmospherics a whole lot more. Now I can understand why for some viewers this may make this second adaptation superior to the first, however this reviewer much preferred the gothic mood and quiet realism of the first. Ideally I’d have liked to see this move equally weight the supernatural and the emotions, because I still feel that the core story line has a lot of cinematic potential. Perhaps Eclipse can get the balance right…

Don’t forget, you can hear The Black Dog podcast marathon that inspired these articles here

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

What species of dinosaur are the current political party leaders?

Well Mr Anonymous, now there's a question! And after much bickering, we decided on the following choices...

So cry havoc and unleash the dogs of satire!

Deputy PM and England's best known liar, Nick Clegg would be a brontosaurus! And yes we know that technically these beasts should be called apatosauruses nos jours, but old habits die harder than Bruce Willis.

And why? Well, the brontosaurus turned out to be something of a disappointment didn't it? See not unlike the Lib Dems already eh! Where were we? Oh yeah, brontosaurus = big let down. Because when you first encounter these prehistoric behemoths, you imagine it being something huge,impressive and powerful, fully deserving of the translation of its name 'thunder lizard' .

However contrary to their cinematic appearances, these beasts didn't charge about the place, making the earth shake and scoffing cavemen... Sorry kiddiewinks, Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen lied to you; actually all brontosauruses did was loaf about in foetid swamps, chomping on muck-drenched weeds, and generally doing sod all exciting and/or useful.

Sounds familiar doesn't it! Though many thought Mr Clegg was going to be an impressive, puissant beast in British politics, just under a year as Deputy PM has proved him to be fat, bloated and useless, happy to wallow in the filth of Westminster.

However the similarities don't end there! Where Cleggy most resembles the brontosaurus is here. This dinosaur was once believed to possess a second sub-brain located in its rear quarters - because it was so massive it needed two brains to coordinate it's hefty bulk. The practical upshot of this was, that the brontosaur could happily continue it's business for some time before it eventually realised that predators had eaten it's arse end and was in fact stone dead...

...Just like the Lib Dems, a dead party that has yet to realise that no one is going to vote for them ever again. For demonstrating the same limited brain capacity of a brontosaurus, they can't seem to grasp that blatantly breaking election pledges and lying to the public is political suicide.

But what of the opposition? Well Ed Milliband is clearly an archaeopteryx. The uneasy mix of fowl and reptile mirrors exactly Milliband - neither politically fresh enough for many voters tastes, nor far enough removed from the taint of New Labour to convince either. And so far he's done very little but squawk and flap about ineffectively - almost criminal when the Condems are serving up such a smorgasbord of sticks to beat them with. And just as some palaeontologists have suspected the archaeopteryx fossils might be hoaxes, I'm not entire sure Milliband, or proper credible opposition for that matter, really exists either!

And finally what of our not very beloved at all PM David "Call Me Dave" Cameron? Blatantly a Tryannosaur - a monstrous predator with the brain the size of a pea. Let's face it, only a cerebral cortex smaller than a penny could come up with the Big Society and then introduce legislation that destroyed the very services and organisations that are actually doing what the BS is proposed to do. And having a political vision whose initials are 'BS' doesn't seem terribly smart to us either.

But then again perhaps we're being thick - we didn't have the top draw Oxbridge education Dave and his pack Bullingdon Club T-Rex chums had. No, we had had to study facts and learn how to critically evaluation them, rather than smash up posh restaurants and then write a big fat cheque and avoid charges of criminal damage.

The other week at the Tory spring conference, Call Me Dave made a rousing speech pledging to fight the 'enemies of enterprise' like bureaucrats and the civil service... Apparently his grip on how government works is so poor that he doesn't realise that actually he's in charge of all the red tape. Evidently in the Camersaurus Rex, generations of not doing a proper day's work, has evolved fore arms which are stunted and useless, which would explain why he has such a poor grasp of reality.

Of course, all these beasts will soon be extinct. Socio-political astronomers have sighted a huge comet heading their way...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

HYPNOBOBS 24 - Lost Authors: Mr Tim Stout

At the fireside in the Great Library of Dreams, Mr Jim Moon would like to introduce you to a forgotten author of weird fiction, Mr Tim Stout, with a pair of readings to chill the blood and raise dark smiles...

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HYPNOBOBS 24 - Lost Authors: Mr Tim Stout

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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Recommend me something, book, comic, film, TV show, game, whatever...

Mr JIM MOON is currently greatly enjoying the Mike Carey & Peter Gross comic periodical THE UNWRITTEN - a marvellous exploration of what stories mean to us.

At present Mr TOM GREENSLADE is immersed in in the 2006 US mini series THE LOST ROOM, an off beat and highly delightfully strange scifi tale centring around a collection of everyday objects that possess unusual powers...

And we're both completely obsessed with Phil Richman's Merrily Watkins novels, a beguiling series of mysteries featuring a lady exorcist!

Ask us anything

Sunday, 6 March 2011

HYPNOBOBS 23 - Diary Of A Madman

This week Mr Jim Moon launches into an in-depth discussion of Guy de Maupassant's The Horla. Also we have a look at its screen adaptation - Diary of a Madman starring Vincent Price.

Find all the podcasts in the HYPNOGORIA family here -

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Echoes of Vampirism

For all of you fang fans awaiting the final chapter of my TWIDHARD marathon, here's a little slice of vampire history to be going on with...

The above picture is entitled The Vampire, the most famous work produced by British Pre-Raphaelite Sir Philip Burne-Jones. Now this gorgeous piece went on to inspire Rudyard Kipling to pen a verse of the same name -

A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you or I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair,
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair--
(Even as you or I!)

Oh, the years we waste and the tears we waste,
And the work of our head and hand
Belong to the woman who did not know
(And now we know that she never could know)
And did not understand!

A fool there was and his goods he spent,
(Even as you or I!)
Honour and faith and a sure intent
(And it wasn't the least what the lady meant),
But a fool must follow his natural bent
(Even as you or I!)

Oh, the toil we lost and the spoil we lost
And the excellent things we planned
Belong to the woman who didn't know why
(And now we know that she never knew why)
And did not understand!

The fool was stripped to his foolish hide,
(Even as you or I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside--
(But it isn't on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died--
(Even as you or I!)

And it isn't the shame and it isn't the blame
That stings like a white-hot brand--
It's coming to know that she never knew why
(Seeing, at last, she could never know why)
And never could understand!'

And this poem in turn formed the inspiration for a famous silent movie A Fool There Was (which you can view online here), which launched the career of Theda Bara and in turn lead to the coining of the term 'vamp' for sexy, seductive and possibly dangerous ladies...

Ms. Bara was one of cinema's earliest sex symbols, and the first in a long long line of sexy vampires on our screens. However whenever I look upon Burne-Jones' picture, another later screen siren springs to mind...

Yes, the legendary Ingrid Pitt, pictured here as Mircalla/Marcilla in Hammer's classic The Vampire Lovers (1970) itself an adaptation of another landmark in vampire fiction, Carmilla (1872) by Sheridan le Fanu.

Now, the great success of The Vampire Lovers saw Hammer making two further films loosely derived from Le Fanu's classic - Lust For A Vampire (1971) and Twins of Evil (1972) -but it also spawned a whole line of erotic and horror fictions dealing with sapphic vampirism ("the love that cannot spell its name" according to Dr Terrible's House of Horrible).

Obviously Burne-Jones could have had no idea his piece would inspire a whole genealogy of sexually alluring vampires, but one does wonder whether his muse had been sneaking a peek at the future time lines and spotted Ms. Pitt...

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

What's your home film viewing experience like? Do you have a large DVD collection or prefer to rent? Have you invested in Blu-ray or surround sound? Do you spend any time watching films online? What's your next purchase?

I have a nice hi-def telly and DVD player with surround sound. Yes, it's true many films don't make the best use of 5.1 but it's worth having for the ones that do :). Not made the move to Blu Ray just yet but as the DVD is getting a little elderly, that move will be happening soon!

Generally I buy on disc and having the typical pile of films not yet watched, plus similarly DVD addicted friends and family, I rarely need to rent something to watch :).

Similarly there's always enough in the pile or that I've borrowed so that I don't really bother watching films online.

Next purchase? Quite probably Blake's & Series 3, though no doubt some little gem will leap out of a bargain bin before then!

Ask us anything