Sorting through Dad’s hoard #7: The Midwich Cuckoos

 

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Dad spoiled the ending of this book long before I ever got around to reading it. And I’m going to spoil it for you too, HA!!!

One day when we were intruding into his study, he got onto the subject of the film version (the 1960 version, The Village of the Damned – because apparently ‘cuckoos’ was far too subtle?) and what he personally thought to be one of the most tense scenes in cinema.

The stage: a school room. The plot: a climatic showdown. The players: a group of unnatural, all-blonde alien children who share a collective group mind and can read/control the minds of normal humans, and a desperate man who has decided he has no choice but to destroy them, for the sake of humanity’s future. The crux of the matter: he has smuggled a bomb into the classroom, hidden in a suitcase – but there’s still a few minutes before it goes off, and in that short space of time the children could read his mind and stop him. Continue reading “Sorting through Dad’s hoard #7: The Midwich Cuckoos”

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The Dracula Tape

So, in preparation for the upcoming NBC version of Dracula…

…yeeesh…

…I was planning to do some sort of post on how I first came to read Bram Stoker’s most famous novel, and how I think this latest adaptation will…compare to the original.

Capture The Dracula tapeBut then my attention was caught and held by The Dracula Tape, a 1975 novel written by Fred Saberhagan, which seeks to tell Dracula’s side of the story in his own words. Namely by waylaying some descendants of Jonathan and Mina Harker in their car one snowy night, and proceeding to tell his version of the events while preserving it on a tape recorder.

Sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it? I would cry copy-cat, except that Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire was published the year after this book. Then again, said Interview with the Vampire was based off a short story she wrote in 1968… Continue reading “The Dracula Tape”

So. A devil in plain sight…

…or rather on a bookshelf.

As I was walking through the history section of a bookshop today, my eyes espied a certain red spine, with a title and author upon said spine that I recognised. Lo and behold, it was a vintage edition of Aldous Huxley’s non-fiction novel, The Devils of Loudun.

The book chronicles the career of Urban Grandier, the parish priest of Loudun who got up to some distinctly un-priestly behavior. Then again, he was a Catholic priest in seventeenth century France. The most powerful religious figure in the country wasn’t exactly setting a great example as it was; Armand Jean du Plessis, better known as Cardinal Richelieu, had at least one mistress and once offered fifty thousand crowns for a night with famed poet, wit and courtesan  Anne “Ninon” de l’Enclos. (Reportedly, she kept the money and sent another courtesan instead.)

However, Richelieu didn’t get around to conspiring with the Devil to seduce an entire convent of nuns and cause them to be possessed by various demons. Which is what Grandier allegedly did, and what he was ‘officially’ sent to the stake for. Naturally Huxley was extremely skeptical about this, and sets out to examine Grandier’s downfall, as well as the motivations of the Mother Superior – Sister Jeanne of the Angels – and the political backdrop of this little drama with great care.

 Capture The devils of Loudon

With a cover like this, I do wonder what this book could be about…

I knew something about this historical event from a witchcraft seminar I had back in my first year of university. (Witchcraft in History, I hasten to clarify, as I always did after enjoying the expressions of the people who had just heard that I was off to my witchcraft lecture.) I knew rather more about it from watching parts of the 1971 film by Ken Russell, The Devils, based off of Huxley’s book – or, strictly speaking, based off of the play that was adapted from Huxley’s book – filled with fascinated horror all the while. There’s a definite reason why this is the film that started off the ‘nunsploitation’ theme that endured in exploitation films during the 70s and 80s.

Capture The Devils
It’s a weird film.
Let’s just leave it at that, for the sake of all of our collective sanity.

I also happened to be rather spooked when I saw this book on the shelf with its glaring red spine, since my father and I had been discussing the film just the day before. Coincidence? I think not! After all this obsession on the subject, I was surely meant to read this book! It whispered in my ear as I brought it to the cash register!

I shall get back to you on how accurate I believe the film was to the book. I’m guessing the faithfulness will be, at best, loose. In the meantime, enjoy this amusing and insightful review of the film by OanCitizen http://blip.tv/brows-held-high/brows-held-high-the-devils-6216930

and learn more about the Loudun possessions here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudun_Possessions

Also, learn more about Anne “Ninon” de l’Enclos (a fascinating lady who deserves more appreciation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninon_de_l’Enclos

So. About Disney’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’…

…I really do love this film.

Nope. No statement of something about it that bugs me this time. It is a great film, adapted as it is from a book where just about the only people left alive at the end are one lucky son of a gun poet, the knight who caused a good deal of the whole mess, the woman who (oh no! What a punishment!) he must marry, and a goat.

Personally I think the goat deserves her own book, but you can’t have everything in life.

There isn’t much about this film that I don’t like. I love the visuals, the adaptations of the characters, the dialogue. And the music! The way Paul Kandel (Clopin) hits that last note in The Bells of Notre Dame! Tom Hulce singing as Quasimodo! Esmeralda’s heart breaking God Help the Outcasts! Tony Jay singing Hellfire! Hold onto that last one, we’ll be returning to it in a minute.

I’m going to make a very bold statement here, which might be controversial – I even enjoy the gargoyles.

…Sometimes.

When they’re not singing. (There is a limit to the capacity of even my generous heart.)

They’re fun and supportive and gave Quasimodo someone to talk to, and sometimes they provided some real comic gems. Again, when they weren’t singing.

Really, I’m sure a lot of people would agree with me when I say that you could take A Guy Like You out of the soundtrack and let it drop into that fiery pit Frollo was ranting about, and we would rejoice and not mind one little bit.

Continue reading “So. About Disney’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’…”

So. About Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’…

…I didn’t think the Beast was ugly when he turned back into a human.

I will freely admit that it was a bit startling when he turned around all at once like that and stared at you. Not Belle. You, the person on the other side of the screen.

His eyes stared into your soul.

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He was like that dramatic chipmunk, only about sixteen years too early.

Continue reading “So. About Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’…”

So. About Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’…

…looking back on it now, I’ve realised that I didn’t really like Ariel all that much.

Oh, I liked pretending to be her when I was playing. I liked colouring her in and drawing her. I liked singing along with her. I liked dressing up as her – my sister and I once went to a fancy dress party as Ariel and Belle, though for the life of me I can’t remember which of us was dressed up as which princess. It was quite a while back.

Yes, I liked doing all that…but still, I didn’t like Ariel herself, as a person, all that much.

Continue reading “So. About Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’…”