Friday, August 24, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
What is it about this BBC version? Apparently, in the moonlit world of people who care about this sort of thing, it seems that no other adaptation of the Mr. Stoker's venerable novel has ever come so close to capturing the vision of said Mr. Stoker. After the BBC tried again last year, with a very bloodless, odd and ultimately pointless version, I finally got ahold of Jess Franco's supposed "literary" adaptation from 1970, also titled Count Dracula. Sigh.
Not even the presence of the mighty Christopher Lee, the quite literally insane Klaus Kinski, or the eternally beautiful Soledad Miranda could rescue it from near-complete ineptitude. How do you make an undead Soledad Miranda unwatchable? What a special talent. At least we'll always have Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed in Ecstasy.
All these draculean failures piqued my interest more in this miniseries, and finally, my desire becomes sated. Or something to that effect. Something tells me I’ll get at least a few minutes of, um, frisson from this version…
"There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat."
Monday, August 20, 2007
P.S.: I utterly despise the cover artwork on this DVD set (actually, on all the DVDs of this film) because it gives away what is supposed to be the jolt of seeing Travis with a Mohawk. Scorsese has repeatedly said that is the moment in the film when the audience is to finally sever its sympathetic ties with Travis, and for it to be featured on the cover of the DVD is an act of artistic larceny. What is so wrong with these original one-sheets? They are two of the greatest movie posters ever.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Deathbird Stories, a collection of his early ’70s works, is one I had not read in some time. It's essential Ellison. It contains some of his tightest, most controlled works: moody and enigmatic, laced with an existential dread while displaying an unnerving knack for an ugly, yet appropriate, climax, like a crack of the whip—or a snap in the neck. The collection is subtitled “A Pantheon of Modern Gods,” which is the height of irony—is there anything less modern than a god? That’s exactly the point: people are still desperate to worship, to prostate themselves before some imagined superior power or any strange artifact that can somehow impart meaning upon this random and unexplainable life. And Ellison, despite his compassion for such poor souls, spares none in these moral fables. "I am a religious man," states the melancholic protagonist of "Corpse." "One would think that would count for something. Apparently it does not." Then there's the gut-wrenching "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs," in which Ellison recreates the chilling murder of Kitty Genovese as an act of sacrifice to a new and terrifying god. "The Deathbird," the final story, is an emotionally exhausting reimagining of the origin of evil--in the form of a multiple-choice final exam.
My letter to the News & Observer after reading this article by LA Times journalist William Lobdell.
"In his article 'Faith Found, and Lost,' journalist William Lobdell is being overly generous to those faithful who willfully deny reality. Faith is no gift, and for many people, losing faith is no dark night of the soul. If anything, the awakening of reason is more what Carl Sagan termed a candle in the dark. Mr. Lobdell should be thankful he can now see through the darkness of religion, faith, and spirituality, and concentrate on the positive aspects of living a life free of superstition, credulity and delusion. One need not defer to the supernatural for meaning or celebration. The fact that we are alive due to natural processes and not jealous, vengeful, petty deities (whose monstrous spokespeople prey on the innocent and the infirm) is truly the only 'miracle' worth celebrating."So, if it gets printed, how soon before the burning crosses turn up on my lawn? Or, wait, that's the KKK--what do folks do to atheists? Throw burning copies of Origin of Species through your window?