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Category: Movies and TV

Ellsworth’s Cinema of Swords: Wolves and Scorpions

Ellsworth’s Cinema of Swords: Wolves and Scorpions

Brotherhood of the Wolf (France, 2001)

The boom in heroic fantasy novels in the wake of the success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Conan revival means there is plenty of imaginative literary fodder available for film adaptations, providing heroes, villains, and plot structures ready-made for cinema. But there are also original fantasy films, of course, movies with stories and scripts written for the screen rather than drawn from books. These are often wilder and less moored to reality than their literary siblings, occasionally resulting in unlooked-for gems that are enjoyable even for repeated viewings, especially when created by a director with a strong, personal vision.

But just as often we get a by-the-numbers retread made by Hollywood hacks that is, at best, merely professional entertainment. This week we have one of each from just past the turn of our current century.

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Goth Chick News: Saving One of the Best Vault Treasures for Last

Goth Chick News: Saving One of the Best Vault Treasures for Last

An American Werewolf in London (Universal Pictures, August 21, 1981)

I am relieved to report that this is my final week of traveling which has been utterly unassociated with any fun save for my horror movie marathon. Notice how I carefully avoided additional adjectives like “classic” or “retro” for fear of catapulting you and me into a tailspin of denial. What I will say is that my binge-watching has been confined to movies that have celebrated their 40th anniversaries, so we’ll just leave it there.

Though nearly every evening of the last five weeks has seen me streaming my way through a list of titles inspired by my personal DVD archival vault (a couple of plastic tubs in my crawl space), I’ve chosen to do a deep dive on my favorites. This week’s marathon included The Lost Boys (1987), Prince of Darkness (1987), and Fright Night (1985), all of which would have made wonderful articles. But when the opening of American Werewolf in London (1981) started rolling on my laptop, there was no question what I’d be talking to you about today.

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Goth Chick News: Now It’s The Fly’s Turn to Crawl Out of the Vault

Goth Chick News: Now It’s The Fly’s Turn to Crawl Out of the Vault


The Tingler (Columbia Pictures, July 1959), and The Fly (20th Century Fox, July 1958)

Though I have previously described how my Dad first introduced me to classic horror, Mom would likely be mortified to know I credit her as well. Though there is one lone, totally fabulous drive-in movie theater left in Chicagoland, Mom used to tell me how there were a dozen or more ‘back in the day.’ She explained how, when she and Dad were dating, there was no finer way to spend a summer evening than seeing the latest film under the stars. What seemed strange to me about these stories were the titles of the movies they used to see. Apparently, in her youth, Mom also liked horror.

I remember listening with rapt attention as she described a scene from The Tingler in which the disembodied spinal cord crawled up over the front seat to attack a couple at the drive-in. She said this was the scariest thing she had ever seen as she and Dad were watching The Tingler at the drive-in. Mom also talked about The Fly (1958), starring David Hedison, Patricia Owens, and Vincent Price. Apparently, Vincent Price’s performance gave her nightmares.

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Diving Deep (again) into the Wonder that is Terry Pratchett

Diving Deep (again) into the Wonder that is Terry Pratchett

I am working on a post about my trip to the Greenbrier Resort, with the Wolfe Pack. It was a neat time, and I’ve got a ton of pictures. What I do not have is a completed essay yet. So, I should have that next week.

Today I’m gonna talk a little more about Terry Pratchett.

A few months ago, I decided to start re-reading – and listening to – some Discworld books. I’ve been a Pratchett fan for decades, and I occasionally grab something off the shelf for a mental breather. I’m usually reading for purposes of a Black Gate post. Or an actual work product, like a new intro for Steeger Books. Discworld is always a fun break.

The book I most often ‘randomly grab’ is The Last Hero. It’s such an exquisite work of art. It is probably the most thoughtful, beautiful, book which I own. The story, of course, is classic Pratchett. But the only reason this book is such a wonderful item, is because the people behind it, wanted it to create something of beauty. It’s more than just a book. It’s something to be cherished.

 

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Neil’s Horror Corner: The Weird, Weird West, Part III

Neil’s Horror Corner: The Weird, Weird West, Part III


The Dead and the Damned (Mattia Borrani Productions, 2010), The Pale Door (Shudder,
2020), and The Magnificent Dead (Broom Closet Video, 2010)

The Dead and the Damned (2011) – Tubi

Stand-off with six guns?

Lots of unconvincing shootin’.

Uncomfortable chaps?

Rubbish zombies.

Any good?

As with some previous entries, it gives me no pleasure to rip into this film.

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Goth Chick News: Where We Drag Another Horror from the Vault

Goth Chick News: Where We Drag Another Horror from the Vault

The Fury (20th Century Fox, Release date March 10, 1978)

As I mentioned a couple weeks back, I am in the middle of some tedious travel and am amusing myself by streaming from a list of horror films I hadn’t thought about in ages. Some of these titles came from an archeological expedition to the back reaches of my crawl space. There, I have multiple storage bins containing VHS tapes, which I am certain will someday fund my retirement when a future generation becomes nostalgic for the good old days of movie viewing.

I must admit, it was fun to dig through these titles. Each tape is like a 7”x4” bookmark for a point in time in my personal history, reminding me of an evening sitting in front of a friend’s “projection TV” following a trip to Blockbuster, or a date night where I could pretend to be scared.

When VHS began its decline, I collected many meaningful titles from “$3 or less” bins at various stores, finally snagging the motherload when the local “Family Video” store had a going-out-of-business sale. In that case, I pretty much scored one of everything from their horror section allowing me to catch up on a lot of titles I was too young to see in the theater due to the R-ratings.

Which brings me to how I spent last evening; streaming The Fury.

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Ellsworth’s Cinema of Swords: Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: Two-Thirds of a Miracle

Ellsworth’s Cinema of Swords: Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: Two-Thirds of a Miracle

The Fellowship of the Ring (New Line Cinema, December 2001)

Some of us waited a very long time for these movies — or at least, that’s how it felt. I grew up in the 1960s reading science fiction and fantasy; my father had read pulps like Weird Tales back in the ‘30s, and when those stories were republished as postwar paperbacks, he bought them and then passed them on to me. But I discovered Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy on my own in my junior high school library, which had pristine copies of the Houghton Mifflin hardcovers with those two-color foldout maps bound into the endpapers. I can still picture exactly where those volumes stood on those library shelves. I read them cover to cover… and then I read them again. When Dungeons & Dragons came along a few years later, giving us all the ability to tell such stories to ourselves, the course of my life was set. And here I am, 55 years after pulling The Fellowship of the Ring down from that shelf, still telling stories of heroic fantasy — and writing about them also, it seems.

So, to those of us who grew up treading in our imaginations the weed-grown paths of Middle-earth, a world to us almost as real as that of the asphalt roads and concrete pavement where we led our physical lives, the gift of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers was unexpected and kind of a miracle. Jackson was one of us, he saw the same visions we did, and he had the talent and drive to put them on the screen, in a depiction as vivid and real as what we saw in our minds when we read the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. And if that act of respectful and dedicated creation isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what would be.

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Goth Chick News: Please, Just No Flannel This Time…

Goth Chick News: Please, Just No Flannel This Time…

I have made no secret here of how I feel about Twilight; books, and movies. To be fair, I only made it through two of the books, understanding I was far from the target audience. Over the years since their release, I have managed to watch most of the movies piecemeal, taking them in ten-minute micro-bites, which is about all I could stand to stream in one sitting. Again, I realize I am not the target audience. But to lifelong devotees of vampires in literature, on screen, and in folklore, watching what Twilight did to our favorite monster was more than any fang-fan can be expected to endure.

I mean, would Bela Lugosi ever, EVER trade his cape for a flannel shirt? Or London for Washington state? Or (I can barely type this) sparkle…?

If you must imagine what vampires are doing in the 2000s, for crying out loud binge-watch What We Do in the Shadows.

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Goth Chick News: One From the Crypt – Vamp (1986)

Goth Chick News: One From the Crypt – Vamp (1986)

Vamp (New World Pictures, released July 18, 1986)

Over the next few weeks I will be taking some trips that are not leisure-related. When traveling alone these days, I most often spend the evening ordering in food and streaming. There was a time when I would to go down to the bar for an adult beverage at the end of the day, but I tend to attract weirdos, and not the fun kind. So these days I hunker down with my laptop and spend a couple of hours watching things I would normally reject at home. The criteria are usually fun (no hack-and-slash), somewhat mindless (I’m usually fried from the day’s activities and/or jet lag) and definitely not rooted in reality (I get enough of that in airports).

And as I never seem to be able to think of any appropriate titles in the moment when determining an evening’s entertainment, I decided to start making a list now. Of course you can find lists of anything with a bit of searching, and this particular search brought me straight to one of my favorite websites Bloody Disgusting, and a list called “Five Underseen Vampire Horror Movies to Stream This Week.”

Well, that’s just about perfect.

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The Swashbuckling Horror of Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter

The Swashbuckling Horror of Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter

Caroline Munro in Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (Hammer Film Productions, April 1974)

Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter is a classic Hammer Horror film that features supernatural horror combined with swashbuckling action. This is one of my favorites of the Hammer Horror series of films.

It stars Horst Janson as the vampire-hunting swordsman, Captain Kronos; John Cater as the hunchbacked scientist, Professor Grost; and the lovely Caroline Munro as Carla, the clever assistant.

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