28 February 2010

Comin' at Ya! is comin' back at ya

It will be interesting to see how the massive 3D boom from Avatar will play out over the coming two years. Almost ever major big-budget picture is either getting announced for 3D, or is getting a retro-makeover (the Clash of the Titans re-make, for example—and I’m not falling for that). Either the process will find a happy medium of production, or audiences will burn out on it fast—as happened with the last two three-dimensional boom periods: the 1950s and the early ‘80s.

One immediate beneficial effect of all this deep-screen is that films from these older 3D days are getting serious reconsideration, and many may make it back to theaters in their proper three-dimensional format. Many of these movies have been available for years in “flat” versions on home video, but now we’ll be able to seem them as they were originally intended in the theater with the funny glasses on.

It looks as if the movie that ignited the ‘80s 3D craze, Comin’ at Ya! is, indeed, comin’ back ya sometime in the future. Aside from being a three-dimensional movie, Comin’ at Ya! is also an Italian Western, so it fits right in with my recent trending at this blog of reviewing Sergio Corbucci’s films and a few other classic Italian Wild West films.

Comin’ at Ya! (read its description at the Spaghetti Western Database) was made in 1981, at a time when the Western was pretty much a corpse both in Italy and the U.S. But the 3D hit big with this one, since the process was one most viewers hadn’t seen since the days of saucers landing in the desert. The film was shot in an “under-over” format (thanks to Eric Zaldivar at the film’s re-release website for this information), and to everyone’s surprise it grossed $12 million in the U.S. on only two hundred screens—a substantial amount in 1981 for a foreign low-budget film. This immediately caused a flood of 3D genre pictures. If any horror franchise had a third installment approaching, it quickly got “D” slapped onto the “3” for promotion: Jaws 3-D, Amityville 3-D, Friday the 13th Part 3-D. The phase didn’t last, probably because it was almost solely associated with horror films, and something as awful as Jaws 3-D wasn’t going to win converts.

I’ve only seen Comin’ at Ya! in 2D on poor videotapes. (Rhino released a 3D DVD complete with glasses, but it is out-of-print and pricey to find used.) I can attest just from watching those “flat” versions that this is the most hardcore 3D gimmick film ever made. No opportunity is wasted to stick, hurl, and jab things at the camera: gun barrels, snakes, arrows, bullets, knives, hot pokers, bats, and the cast’s hands. It’s nonstop. It’s almost freaking surreal. I can’t wait to see it in full 3D. I’m glad filmmakers today are avoiding the completely gimmicky use of the process, as James Cameron very proudly showed us in Avatar and Henry Selick in Coraline, but as a flashback to the over-the-top day, Comin’ at Ya! should be enormous fun.

But Comin’ at Ya! is returning in a new process, “Noir 3D.” The entire film has been revamped for new digital viewing. This apparently involves making large portions of the film into B&W, with colored 3D elements. Yep, a decolorized film. Revenge! The promo videos of the process are on the website, and they look pretty amazing. Here’s a case where I don’t mind somebody tampering with the film, because honestly, aside from 3D wackiness, Comin’ at Ya! is a pretty bad movie.

You do deserve that fair warning. Comin’ at Ya! is no classic of cinema, or even a decent Italian Western, but it’s a piece of ‘80s history and should be a helluva trip in a re-imagined psychedelic 3D.

Keep watch on the official website for when the films starts to get released. The film’s re-working was finished in May 2009, and with Avatar now having crossed the $700 million mark domestically, I think we can expect Comin’ at Ya! to start touring the country during the summer.

Here is the long version of the promo trailer. Visit the site to see the longer version:

26 February 2010

Movie review: Minnesota Clay

Minnesota Clay (1965)
Directed by Sergio Corbucci. Starring Cameron Mitchell, Georges Rivière, Ethel Rojo, Diana Martin, Antonio Roso, Fernando Sancho.

Before the international success of Django turned him into the official “Other Sergio” of the Italian Wild West, Sergio Corbucci made an impression with Minnesota Clay. His previous Western, Massacre at Grand Canyon, did nothing particularly new with the U.S. Western formula, and the one he would direct next, Ringo and His Golden Pistol (Italian title: Johnny Oro), he abandoned to his assistants so he could rush off to start work on Django. Minnesota Clay was filmed around the same time that Leone was working on A Fistful of Dollars, so Corbucci had yet to see the movie that would revolutionize the genre; he was quite capable of changing the Western on his own, although Leone’s success would push him even harder. Minnesota Clay shows a director struggling to find his own style, and partially succeeding.

Minnesota Clay
is an enjoyable film on its own merits, but it’s the potential of the filmmaker and the beginning of an auteur body of work that make it most interesting to viewers today. It has similarities to Corbucci’s 1968 masterpiece The Great Silence, such as a hero suffering from a handicap (poor eyesight in this case, muteness in the later film), battling factions within a town, and the existence of two different endings, one happy, the other not so much. The hero also has dead lost love, a quest for vengeance, and suffers a brutal beating only to struggle back to victory—all of which would reappear in harsher form in Django.

24 February 2010

ABC Sunday Night Movie Psychedelic!

Bill Ward on his website has posted a piece of great nostalgia: the 1983 HBO Logo, a huge piece of special effects design that was cutting-edge for its day. He also includes the ten-minute “making of” featurette HBO aired when the logo first started to appear. My first memory of the logo was seeing it before the premiere of Fraggle Rock.

So, in that same spirit, here is the television logo that stands out the most in my mind, the one that gives me shivers whenever I hear its theme play . . . The ABC Sunday Night Movie. How fondly I remember this appearing before viewings of The Last Dinosaur and The Land That Time Forgot! (There’s a bonus peak at what’s coming up on Dynasty this week.)

The Original Franco Nero Django

Django (1966)
Directed by Sergio Corbucci. Starring Franco Nero, Jóse Bódalo, Loredana Nusciak, Eduardo Fajardo, Ángel Álvarez.

Since I’ve gotten into the Italian Western mood, I’ve decided to do a retrospective on Sergio Corbuccio, the “other Sergio” of the Eurowestern. After Sergio Leone, he’s the best and most influential director in the genre. I won’t approach the movies chronologically, and instead just take them as they strike me. And what strikes me right now (although hopefully not with a bullet) is Corbucci’s most financially successful film, Django. No, it isn’t about a Belgian gypsy swing guitar player missing a few fingers on his left hand, although I love that Django with true Lindy Hoppin’ passion. This Django wields a machine gun, and also has some problems with his hands.

The first Italian Western to set the mold for the emerging genre revision was Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari), released in 1964. Italian directors had filmed Westerns before, but usually in imitation of U.S. models or the German “Winnetou” films. The previous year’s Duello nel Texas (titled Gunfight at Red Sands in the English version, and sometimes known by its title in Spain, Gringo) moved away from the usual Indian themes of previous Eurowesterns, but it still hewed close to the U.S. style. However, A Fistful of Dollars devised something sparser and bleaker than the classic Old West, one with a particular “Roman” flavor, ambiguous self-interested heroes, utterly depraved villains, and higher body counts.

As successful as A Fistful of Dollars was, it was the smash success of two follow-up Westerns released four months apart, Leone’s For a Few Dollars More and Sergio Corbucci’s Django, that caused the Italian film industry to fly into a shooting frenzy of Western movies. Django, released in Italy in April 1966, is the most important Eurowestern after Leone’s body of work; the film’s phenomenal success in Europe, North Africa (a major market for these films), and South America created a mini-industry of Westerns using the name “Django,” even if the film has no connection to the original … or sported a character named “Django” anywhere in the cast. (Django Kill is a famous example of a “Django-in-Title-Only” movie.) The popularity of the movie in West Germany insured that any Western starring Franco Nero—and quite a few non-Westerns—would get re-titled and dubbed into a Django film when released there. Only one official sequel was ever made, however. More about that later.

22 February 2010

The Historian, or An Excuse Not to Read Dracula, the Un-Dead

The Historian (2005)
By Elizabeth Kostova

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

I don’t have a dislike for the vampire in general. I’ve repeatedly reminded myself about this even as I cringe at the saturation in our culture of mediocre work based on supernatural bloodsuckers. (Do I really have to name the book and movie series at the center of this creative blood drain? Of course I don’t.) Vampires are everywhere today, and this visibility has reduced their effectiveness for me, no matter what “new” spin the artists claim they’re putting on the legend. Exceptions are out there—for example the action-packed novels of certain contributor to Black Gate—but today I actively avoid horror and dark fantasy and especially parodies using vampires. I want more werewolves and phantasms and cosmic weirdness. Specifically werewolves. I love werewolves.

I wasn’t always this apathetic about vampires. I had a great interest in vampire legendry and literature when I was in college, right at the time that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was an enormous hit in theaters. I was always focused on Dracula, and not as interested in other vampires. This is still true today; while I shrug at most vampire offerings, I’ll still pick up something about the King of the Undead. Perhaps it’s the history major in me, or my love of the Victorian Gothic, that pulls me back to the vampiric Transylvanian noble. Literary Dracula excursions I’ve taken over the past few years include Fred Saberhagen’s The Dracula Tape (an intriguing piece of literary criticism, but his heroic and misunderstood Dracula isn’t my flavor of garlic seasoning), the anthology Dracula in London (answering the question, “So what else was the Count doing in London Town when not desanguinizing Lucy and Mina?”), the history volume Dracula: Prince of Many Faces, and Kim Newman’s wonderful “Anno-Dracula” series. If you haven’t read these three novels and wonder if there’s anything out there that might make you feel a bit better about vampires in general, seek out the nearest used book service posthaste.

20 February 2010

Movie Review: A Bullet for the General

A Bullet for the General (1966)
Directed by Damiano Damiani. Starring Gian Maria Volontè, Martine Beswick, Klaus Kinski, Lou Castel, Jamie Fernández

“When the bullet turns red, the general will be dead.”

The Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) was one of the most common settings for the Italian Western, a.k.a. “Spaghetti Western.” (Honestly, I hate the term “Spaghetti Western.” It has allowed too many critics to act derisively toward one of the great periods in the genre.) There were both sociological and aesthetic reasons for using the Mexican Revolution as a backdrop. Italy of the late 1960s, when the Western boom hit, was a highly charged political environment infused with the spirit of revolution and upheaval. That’s for sociology. The Westerns were mostly filmed in Spain with Italian and Spanish casts, which made the setting of Mexico an easy one to create. That’s for aesthetics. The Mexican Revolution was a perfect double-tap for Italian filmmakers.

A Bullet for the General (titled El Chuncho, Quién Sabe? in Italy) is the film that created the template for other Italian Westerns set during the Mexican Revolution. It was released in its home country in December, capping off a year that boosted the Western into a sensation in continental Europe. (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Django were released earlier that year and were enormous hits.) It’s one of the most successful political Westerns set against the Viva Zapata! cyclorama; only Leone’s Duck You Sucker/A Fistful of Dynamite is better known to U.S. audiences.

Behind the camera is a familiar name from this blog: Damiano Damiani. I’ve recently visited the prolific Damiani when I reviewed Amityville II: The Possession, his sole U.S. film and the only “Amityville” flick worth watching. In front of the camera is an excellent international cast, with Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More villain Gian Maria Volontè taking the lead, backed by German actor Klaus Kinski, British-Jamaican 007 beauty Martine Beswicke, and popular Mexican star Jamie Fernández.

15 February 2010

Movie review: The Wolfman

“Horrible things, Lawrence. You’ve done horrible things.”

But you done a pretty good werewolf film.

Yes indeed, I enjoyed The Wolfman, this week’s re-make of the Universal classic The Wolf Man. Despite all its production and post-production problems, the flick came through as old-fashioned Victorian horror that a fellow like me can really embrace. I can truly love the beast. It has problems, but I’m cutting it slack for sheer entertainment value.

My full review of the film is posted at Black Gate.

I like that the two versions have slightly different titles, making them easy to differentiate without using a date after the name. It’s annoying having to write The Mummy (1932), The Mummy (1959), and The Mummy (1999), for example. And Let’s not get started on Dracula.

The Wolfman pulled in about $36 million for the holiday, better than expected for a film with such turbulence surrounding it. I hope this keeps Universal on track reviving their great monsters. I desperately want that Guillermo del Toro Frankenstein movie! (After The Hobbit, of course.)

12 February 2010

Movie Review: The Wolf Man

The Wolf Man (1941)
Directed by George Waggner. Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patrick Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya.

This weekend, after numerous delays and production and post-production nightmares, Universal finally unveils its re-make of The Wolf Man, with the title compounded into The Wolfman—which means I won’t have to always put a date after the film’s title to distinguish the ‘41 movie from ‘10 movie. I’ve got tickets for the 10:45 show tonight, and you can expect a full review for Black Gate on Tuesday. I’m apprehensive and excited about the new version—but if anybody is prepped to enjoy it, it’s an old horror movie nut like me. At the least, it gives me an excuse to say a few words about the original film. I’m in the right mood. Bay at the moon mood.

When I approached the original 1932 The Mummy last year, I honestly didn’t know what I could say about it that hasn’t already gotten worked over a million times before by critics, historians, and bloggers (and bloggers and bloggers and bloggers). The same applies to The Wolf Man. It’s an iconic Universal horror movie, and has had greater impact on werewolf mythology than any other work of fiction, whether literary or cinematic. There, nothing else to report.

Oh, all right. I can always write a bit more about one of my favorite movies, even if there is nothing new under the moon.

10 February 2010

First-Person Noir Classic: The Killer Inside Me

The Killer Inside Me (1952)
By Jim Thompson

“You see why I had to kill her, I reckon. Or do you? It was like this.…”

A new movie version of Jim Thompson’s roman noir classic The Killer Inside Me will come out in theaters later this year. The first adaptation was in 1977 and starred Stacy Keach. The new fillm is directed by Michael Winterbottom (Wonderland, Welcome to Sarajevo, and criminally forgotten Western The Claim) and stars Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Simon Baker, Bill Pullman, and Elias Koteas. It premiered at Sundance in January. Reviews from the festival have been mixed, but movie did cause a stir over its violence at the screening. IFC picked up the film for distribution, and no doubt the company hopes to ride some of the shocked reactions from viewers to a good box office return on their $1.5 million investment. (I expect the movie will appear in limited release during late summer.)

I don’t understand the negativity I’ve heard about the movie’s violence. It’s a film noir about a psychopathic killer. You’re not supposed to cheer the man on. I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t comment on how brutal the physical violence is on screen, but if it’s anything like what Thompson put on the page, I can imagine why many people will find it hard to watch deputy sheriff Lou Ford beat a woman to death.

08 February 2010

The Weird of Cornell Woolrich: “Dark Melody of Madness”

Continuing from last week’s look at the weird tales of pulp suspense maestro Cornell Woolrich through his novella “Jane Brown’s Body,” today I’ll walk around another bleak urban corner of the midnight-hued world of my favorite pulp author.

“Dark Melody of Madness,” first published in the June 1935 issue of Dime Mystery and often reprinted under the less-chilling title of “Papa Benjamin,” is one the superb pulp horror stories, and one of Woolrich’s earliest classics, written during the first year of his career as professional magazine writer. In its use of race as an undercurrent, it has connections to some of the great horror works of Robert E. Howard, in particular “Pigeons from Hell,” which also uses the device of voodoo of the West Indies. Anyone interested in the American Weird should read it. Fortunately, it’s been reprinted in many anthologies.

Dime Mystery was one of the “Weird Menace” pulps, a strange subgenre of crime fiction that flourished in the mid-1930s before public outcry against its gruesomeness closed it down. Editor Harry Steeger at Popular Publications led the way in this attempt to create a literary equivalent of the Grand Guignol theater in Paris. The term “Weird Menace” is a later critical invention, like film noir; at the time, these magazine were known as “horror pulps,” although the horror they delivered was a specific kind, not the sort suited to Weird Tales, Strange Stories, or Unknown. The Weird Menace pulps emphasized torture and gore, and required that any supposedly supernatural occurrences have a rational explanation at the end. This was meant to make the stories seem realistic, but the opposite usually happened: the authors struggled to come up with plausible excuses for the utterly insane happenings in their stories. Weird Menace tales often feature young couples trapped in a web of murder and torment, and are packed from one edge of the paper to other with disgusting and strange murder methods, bloodthirsty cults, sadism, and oddities that border on the surreal.

07 February 2010

Book review: Star Trek: My Enemy, My Ally

Star Trek: My Enemy, My Ally
By Diane Duane (1984)

After reading and enjoying Vulcan’s Glory, D. C. Fontana’s sole Star Trek novel, decided to go further into the world of Trek books. However, just any Trek novel wouldn’t do; I wanted an interesting topic and an author I trusted. So I set course for Diane Duane’s “Rihannsu” books, the first three of which are collected in the omnibus Rihannsu: The Bloodwing Voyages.

My Enemy, My Ally is the first of this series, which centers on the Romulans. (According the books, Romulans refer to themselves in their own language as Rihannsu, a sensible idea for the author to explore since it is unlikely that an alien would name themselves after an an historical myth from ancient Earth history.) Duane’s name is a huge draw, since I’m a fan of her YA series “The Young Wizards,” and she has a strong reputation among Trek readers as one of the finest authors to play in Gene Roddenberry’s universe. But the Romulans sealed the deal for me: they are my favorite of all Star Trek alien races, the other great “villain” species along with the Klingons. The Romulans are a semi-Roman style race of “dignified schemers,” and my love of Roman history and the Latin language gives them immense appeal for me personally. Plus, they were the stars of two of my favorite episodes of ‘60s Star Trek: “Balance of Terror” and “The Enterprise Incident.”

The story takes place in 2270, putting it at the end of the original five-year mission of the USS Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk. The Federation and the Romulans maintain an uneasy truce on either side of the famous Neutral Zone. The Romulans have an alliance with the Klingons, and have purchased and re-fit a number of Klingon vessels (this per a budget-saving move in “The Enterprise Incident”), but both sides are looking for an excuse to buck the other—and preferably causing grief to the Federation. (The Klingons play almost no role in the story, despite these hints, and I’m fine with that; Klingons are so damned overexposed.)

03 February 2010

Farewell, Uncle Tim

Not the kind of news I like to post. . . .

“Ryan, Tim didn’t make it.”

That’s what my mother said over the phone when she called me at work this morning. It was hard to process that statement, “Tim didn’t make it,” even though I knew what it meant.

My Uncle Tim Perman was suddenly admitted to the hospital last night for an aortic aneurysm. My mother called me with the information late in the evening; he would need to go into surgery. I had only just seen my uncle on Sunday for my Great Uncle Lloyd’s retirement party in Thousand Oaks, so this abrupt turn in his health was shocking. Mom had no idea what his chances were for getting through it.

But, during the surgery, the aorta ruptured, and despite the best work of the surgeons . . .

“Ryan, Tim didn’t make it.”

Which means that Tim Perman, who has always been in my life, is dead.

This is a devastating loss for his immediate family, which consists of his wife Shari (my mother’s older sister), brothers Ken and Keith, his son Scott, his daughter Stacey, and his three grandchildren. For my mother and her two younger siblings, Eileen and Phil, Tim was someone who had been part of their lives since they were teenagers. My father was also quite close to Tim, since the two of them shared an intensely geeky interest in computing and could discuss technology for hours upon hours.

Tim was a cool guy; he was one of the first people I knew who was seriously involved in the computing world, and he taught a lot as a youngster about the developing machines. If anybody in the family needed tech advice, we asked Tim. He was also a huge fan of James Bond, and that helps make him extra cool.

I’m glad that he did not have to suffer greatly at the end, and that much of the family got to see him at the gathering for Lloyd’s retirement, even though we had no idea it would be the last chance we had to see him. Sometimes it’s better not having to say an official “goodbye,” despite the shock the grief causes you when death comes. Sometimes just having a last nice visit, without knowing it’s the last, is the gentlest way to let go of somebody.

We all will miss Tim, but especially his wife and his two children. The photo below was taken of the family in 1989. (Tim always had a beard as long as I knew him.)

02 February 2010

Acadmey Award Nominations 2009

Aside from a large squirrel predicting the weather, today is also the day that the Academy Award Nominations are announced. I’ve long gotten over attaching any serious emotion to the Oscars; there’s no reason to graft any pain or anger on an awards show because of various snubs, overlooks, etc. It’s fun to wonder why certain choices were made, act bewildered, and then speculate; but ultimately, films belong to viewers, and if you like a movie or a performance, you shouldn’t put unnecessary emphasis on the opinions of a voting board. Case in point, my second favorite movie of the year, Observe and Report, received exactly zero nominations. I didn’t expect it to receive any, but I staunchly believe it worthy of a Best Picture, Best Actor (Seth Rogen), and Best Original Screenplay nomination. Life goes on, the film exists, and I still love it.

Nonetheless, the Oscars do make for enjoyable discussion and good-natured ribbing, so here are my observations on the surprises, pleasant and otherwise, about this year’s noms.

I like the Academy opting to have ten Best Picture nominations, since it allows some more outsider pics to sneak it and get extra recognition. I don’t believe that two of my favorite films of the year, Up and District 9, would have slipped under the barbed wire to make a nomination list of only five. The Academy would usually just assume that Pixar would feel satisfied with a Best Animated Feature nomination (and Up will win that, no question), but with ten slots, there is no way the voters could ignore this wonderful film. District 9, my top movie of 2009, hasn’t a chance of winning the golden statue, but it sure looks great sitting on the list. We just want to go home.

Two major acting snubs: Mélanie Laurent for Best Supporting Actress in Inglourious Basterds, and Sharlto Copley for Best Actor in District 9. I knew Copley would get pushed out of the category from the moment I saw the film, but Laurent’s absence is really, really mystifying. She’s the backbone of that movie, and the Academy showed a lot of love for it in other categories.

Because Avatar did not receive a Best Original Screenplay nomination (not a “snub” in my opinion; the script is the film’s weakest aspect), Tarantino will win for Inglourious Basterds, and that’s great—even though it’s in the same category as Up. District 9 is in the Adapted Screenplay category, another victory for my great love of the year. But it will lose to Up in the Air.

Speaking of Avatar, the best “snub” of the year is denying a Best Original Song nomination to “I See You.” I really like Avatar, enjoyed it as visceral visual filmmaking and a killer science-fiction action adventure, but I think everybody hates this song. The most die-hard Avatar advocates loathe it. Good for the Academy for opening their ears during the credits and not letting the rest of the film’s qualities make them deaf to this horrendous musical dreck. According to one of CHUD.com’s critics, who is an ardent lover of Avatar, “If they'd had included that nightmare song from Avatar I’d have gotten on the Avatar hate bandwagon for about six minutes myself.”

The Blind Side got nominated for Best Picture. Predictable, but still lazy and sad. It won’t win, however.

In the Best Score category, I think that Christopher Young’s score for Drag Me to Hell more than deserves a nomination, but no member of the Academy probably saw the movie.

As for the future: The Hurt Locker will proably take the win for Best Picture, although there is some possibility for Avatar. I would prefer District 9, but come on . . . this is the real world. Jeff Bridges for Best Actor, more of a career award than anything else, but it will be a nice boost for Tron Legacy. Bigelow for Best Director, ‘cause Cameron’s already got one; possible Tarantino win if The Hurt Locker doesn’t grab Best Picture and Avatar takes the Oscar instead. I have no interest in either Actress category this year. Up for Best Animated Feature is the Sure Thing of the Night.

Punxsutawney Phil has texting issues

Well, it’s Groundhog day… again …

Punxsutawney Phil (seen above from this morning) may be the most famous weathercaster in the U.S., but he hasn’t caught up on texting yet. His electronic report on this morning’s forecast for or against an early spring (“I’m predicting March 21st”) was two hours behind his report at Gobbler’s Knob to the Inner Circle before the usual enormous Groundhog Day crowd. Apparently, Phil’s paws don’t hit the keys very well, of Groundhogese doesn’t translate well. Still, that’s pretty good for a quadraped. Phil, don’t text angry!

Oh, Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. This sounds accurate, as we’re supposed to have rain this weekend in Los Angeles. Staten Island Chuck, the second most famous Marmox marmota weatherman, says early spring. These are the exact same predictions they gave last year. Must be “dueling groundhogs.”

Still, “This pititful . . . a thousand people, freezing their butts off, waiting to worship a rat.”

Ah, every year, Groundhog Day just keeps getting better a better, a true U.S. classic comedy. I woke myself up at 6:00 a.m. this morning and hit “play” on the DVD player, cued up to the moment Phil Connor’s alarm clock switches over to “I’ve Got You, Babe” on the first repetition of February 2nd. Celebrate each day in little ways, I say.

01 February 2010

The Weird of Cornell Woolrich: “Jane Brown’s Body”

Wow, February already?

I’m doing something on Black Gate today that is unusual for anybody who only reads my posts at that site, but which won’t surprise anybody who hangs around this place. Yes, I’ve finally found an excuse to talk about Cornell Woolrich at Black Gate!

And how did I pull this off? Woolrich did write some classic “weird tales” involving creepy speculative fiction elements. People who read H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard should be advised of this fact. Just spreading the gospel of Woolrich, part of my job.

The Woolrich horror story I’m discussing today is the novella “Jane Brown’s Body.” Which mixes some very bizarre elements together.

Read the horrible, putrescent details here.

This was also an excuse to post one of Harry Clarke’s wonderful illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe, drawn to go with the story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.” The picture fits Woolrich’s story disturbingly well.

I promise to only use the word “putrescent” gratuitously from now on.