29 October 2011

Anonymous: FAIL

My feelings about the anti-Stratfordian position that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare can be summed up in this note that Anonymous director Roland Emmerich’s teacher wrote on his report: (Click to see it larger)
Oh, Godzilla fans give you an “F” as well, but you knew that. Sorry, you’ll have to repeat eighth grade—again.

28 October 2011

A Defense of the Red Skull and HYDRA in Captain America: The First Avenger

The package arrived in my mail yesterday, one day earlier than expected: the Blu-ray of my favorite movie of the summer, Captain America: The First Avenger. Since I had a Halloween party to go to that night where I was dressing up as Captain America’s nemesis, the Red Skull, I immediately fired up the film on my player and watched it again, soaking in all its comic-book goodness.

I’ve gushed about this film plenty already, and its hero has a major place on this website. You know my bias on this topic, and I won’t pretend that everyone will get the same thrill from the movie that a Cap-fan like me does. As a long-time nut about the character, the film delivers everything that I want. There are flaws, but the more I watch the film the less I care about them. Captain America: The First Avenger is the perfect old-fashioned comic book movie, with grandiose thrills and colorful heroes and villains, archetypal Good vs. Evil, and the right amount of pathos mixed with heroic optimism.

But I wish to address the villains now—the Red Skull and HYDRA—because some of the higher criticism aimed at the film has taken it to task for “whitewashing” World War II by reducing the role of the Nazis. Hitler and his gang of murderers are in the background (Hitler does appear as a character in a USO show). Johann Schmidt, alias the Red Skull, leads Hitler’s science division, HYRDA, but early on in the story he starts to separate from the Nazi ranks. He breaks completely from them around forty-five minutes into the running time when he disintegrates the generals sent to shut down his organization for “lack of results.” HYDRA wages its own war against the Allies, using its super-technology so that the Red Skull can conquer the world for himself.

Another Halloween Top 13: My Favorite “Devils and Demons” Movie

Another year, another Halloween, and that means another of The Lightning Bugg’s Lair Halloween Top 13 lists. T. L. Bugg has annually run a movie countdown in the thirteen days leading to the most glorious of holidays, and I have been privileged to have contributed a guest list to each one.

This year’s theme is “The Devil Made Me Do It,” a countdown of films featuring devils and demons. My list is up today, accompanying Bugg’s review of Prince of Darkness, one of the films that also made my list.

Without further ado, here are my top thirteen devils n’ demons flicks: (Links to my full reviews if I got ‘em.)

25 October 2011

Yes, I Am on Twitter

I believe that I created a Twitter profile over a year ago. I then put up a few tweets . . . and dropped it entirely and stayed with Facebook. I was under the delusion that a person needs to use only one social networking tool, and that was it. After all, once Facebook emerged, MySpace accounts started dying in heaps like victims of the Black Death and nobody’s social connections suffered for it.

I was an ill man.

So as of this week, I am back to posting regular Tweets on my profile, @RHarveyWriter. I am moving into ebook publishing in the next few months (I’ll post more about that later), so follow me for more short breaking news about that, plus writing links and tips on movie reviews and other goodies.

[End shameless social network promotion.]

24 October 2011

Movie Review: The Thing from Another World

The Thing from Another World (1951)
Directed by Christian Nyby and (uncredited) Howard Hawks. Starring Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, James Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, William Self, James Arness.

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

John W. Campbell’s novella “Who Goes There?” has now produced three film adaptations: two classics and a footnote. After recovering from reviewing the footnote, it occurred to me that The Thing 2011 has two positives I failed to mention: it makes viewers appreciate how great John Carpenter’s 1982 version is, and how great Howard Hawks’s 1951 version is.

More than enough ink and bandwidth has covered The Thing ’82, and as much as I adore that movie, I have nothing new to contribute to the discussion of it beyond the comparisons I made in last week’s review. However, the 1951 film, The Thing from Another World, hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves in the current collective bashing of the new movie. If I’m going to point out how poor The Thing ’11 is, it’s only fair that I smash it with the Howard Hawks film as well. Why should John Carpenter have all the fun?

18 October 2011

“Foolish Mortals” Now Up at Every Day Fiction

My flash fiction fantasy tale, “Foolish Mortals,” is now online at Every Day Fiction.

It’s a short piece, so head on over to read it, and please leave a rating when you are done. Feel free to recommend it on Facebook and Tweet it. Link it to infinity!

Read my previous post where I discussed the origin of this story.

17 October 2011

Movie Review: The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011)
Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen.

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

A dialogue that occurs in the 1982 John Carpenter movie The Thing, as scientist Blair (Wilford Brimley) explains the nature of the twisted dog-mass corpse on his operating table:
BLAIR: See what were talking about here is an organism that imitates other life-forms, and imitates them perfectly. When this thing attacked our dogs it tried to digest them, absorb them, and in the process shape its own cells to imitate them. This, for instance . . . [points to bone] That’s not dog. It’s imitation. We got to it before it had time to finish.

NORRIS: Finish what?

BLAIR: Finish imitating these dogs.
Now imagine this conversation repurposed slightly:
BLAIR: See what were talking about here is a movie that imitates a popular movie with enormous name-recognition, and imitates it outwardly perfectly, while inwardly lacking its essential qualities. When it attacked John Carpenter’s The Thing it tried to digest it, and in the process shape its screenplay to imitate it while masquerading as a prequel. This, for instance . . . [points to film on screen] That’s not The Thing or a prequel to it. It’s a cosmetic imitation. We didn’t get to it before it finished.

NORRIS: Finished what?

BLAIR: Finished re-making The Thing while pretending that it wasn’t.
And so my review is finished.

But, if you want some further details, there is a bit more after the jump.

11 October 2011

An Interview about “The Shredded Tapestry”

Innsmouth Free Press, the publishers of Candle in the Attic Window (have you bought your copy?) have posted an interview with me regarding my contribution to the collection, “The Shredded Tapestry.” I talk a bit about the Regensburg connection and the influence of Algernon Blackwood on the piece, as well as what “Gothic” means to me when it comes to literature.

Once more, here’s a picture of that amazing Bavarian bridge that started me thinking about using it in a Gothic tale of terror. More about my trip to Regensburg here.

Movie Review: TrollHunter

TrollHunter (2011)
Directed by André Øvredal. Starring Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Hans Morten Hansen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Urmilla Berg Domaas.

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

I love any review that gives me an excuse to use “ø.” Next I will have to find an Icelandic movie so I can write a review using “þ” and “ð.”

In the recent glut of “found footage” films that followed the successes of Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, the Norwegian film TrollHunter (Trolljegeren) is a true gleaming piece of uncovered dwarf’s gold. It ditches the gloom that hangs over the other movies in this subgenre and lets the audience have a good time along with its light scares. And while most found footage films are horror movies, this one is a fantasy. A fantasy with dark thrills, but nonetheless a fantasy.

04 October 2011

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Venus, Part 5: “The Wizard of Venus”

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

The Venus series ends not with a novel, but a novella. Consequently, this will be the shortest entry in my survey of Burroughs’s last series, but I have appended a wrap-up with my final thoughts on the Venus books as a whole.

Our Saga: The adventures of one Mr. Carson Napier, former stuntman and amateur rocketeer, who tries to get to Mars and ends up on Venus, a.k.a Amtor, instead. There he discovers a lush jungle planet of bizarre creatures and humanoids who have uncovered the secret of longevity. The planet is caught in a battle between the country of Vepaja and the tyrannical Thorists. Carson finds time during his adventuring to fall for Duare, forbidden daughter of a Vepajan king. Carson’s story covers three novels, a volume of connected novellas, and an orphaned novella.

Previous Installments: Pirates of Venus (1932), Lost on Venus (1933), Carson of Venus (1938), Escape on Venus (1941).

Today’s Installment: “The Wizard of Venus” (1964)

01 October 2011

“Foolish Mortals” Publication Date: October 19

I woke up this morning to the alarm sound of “Danse Macabre,” the National Anthem of the Month of October. It is now officially The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. (Songwriters Eddie Pola and George Wyle got confused while writing the lyrics for their October celebration song for Andy Williams and referred to December for some reason. December? Do they know how cold it is in December? Andy Williams should have caught that and made them re-write the song.)

I will also have my first October-released work of fiction, since Every Day Fiction has slated my story “Foolish Mortals” to appear on the site on October 19. Nineteen days from purchase to publication . . . I like that sort of speed.

Happy October, everyone. May all your pumpkins turn out ghoulish, and may your Universal Horror Movie parties all be drunken successes with as few young girls tossed in the lake as possible. (At least one is acceptable, however.)