Thursday, August 21, 2014
First published: 2002
The Blurb: ”The bedclothes were gripped and pulled, as though someone was trying to drag me to the floor. A hand—at least, I thought it was a hand—brushed my cheek and searched for my throat…”
Centuries ago vampires cast their dark shadows across Celtic folklore. Bob Curran’s chilling stories reveal that vampires could still lurk beneath the surface of Irish life.
Redmond cuts his hand exploring a Famine Village. It won’t stop bleeding…
Sinéad meets a charming young stranger in the dark woods…
A mysterious collection of ancient ‘treasures’ includes one very sinister item…
Death and suspicion spread through Philip’s small village and into his home…
Read if you dare – but leave the lights on!
The review: I think I was expecting something more engaged with traditional folklore from Bob Curran but, after an introduction that mentions the Legend of Abhartach this book leaves folklore behind and is a purely fiction piece. There is the conceit that “they all contain an element of the darker folklore of the Irish countryside” but in reality you can tell they are pieces of fiction set in Ireland that Curran has weaved together.
That’s not to say that they are bad – indeed there are some interesting ideas lurking within this - it’s just not what I was expecting. The tome is also very short, with just four stories within it. However, for the right price it is a satisfying, if brief, read. 6 out of 10 (bearing in mind the short nature of the book).
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
First aired: 2013
My thoughts on the earlier seasons can be read at the following: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4 & Season 5.
If I felt that the 4th season of True Blood lost its way a little, I certainly think that season 5 pulled it back. We got a very vampire orientated season that showed some powerful vampires acting to excess and ended with Bill (Stephen Moyer, Ultraviolet & Priest) drinking all of the blood of Lilith (Jessica Clark), the first vampire, dying and being reformed. In this season we get almost an opposite storyline as humanity turns on the vampires and many get interned into a prison camp in which they are tortured and experimented on. There is a lot of new lore we get out of this season.
|Eric prepares to turn a mortal|
|Rutger Hauer as Niall|
7 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
First Published: 1998
The Blurb: Bloodcurdling and bone-chilling!
Bloodsucking vampires and savage werewolves – two of the most petrifying creatures of classic horror fiction brought together in one terrifying collection.
Includes stories by Angela Carter, Arthur Conan Doyle, Anthony Masters, Richard Matheson, Saki, Bram Stoker.
The review: I picked this compilation in a publisher’s clearing house in Whitby but it took me a little while to get around to reading it, though that was for no other reason than a backlog of reading material.
Strangely, for a book whose title only mentions vampires it does have werewolf only stories. However, looking at the vampire side, we have included within Matheson’s Drink my Blood, which lent its story to the film Morticia, as well as a Woody Allen comedy vampire tale about Dracula and the seemingly obligatory Dracula extract.
I was particularly taken by the tale The Vampire of Kaldenstein by Frederick Cowles. In many respects it felt like a Hammer plot but was actually published in 1938. Interestingly, of three vampires, two could be destroyed but the third not – though why was not explained. I was also taken by the Roger Zelazny penned Dayblood, which looked at something that predated upon the predator - though what it was remained a mystery.
Over all it is a short volume – made more so by the fact that there are werewolves infecting the vampiric mix. I'm not marking it down for that – and indeed enjoyed some of the shaggy dog stories – but perhaps reflecting their inclusion in the title would have been good.
There are better compilation volumes out there but this wasn’t bad. 6 out of 10 shows it as containing some goodies but a little laden with obvious and too well trodden choices – especially the Stoker extract and the Conan Doyle.
Friday, August 15, 2014
First Published: 2012
The Blurb: The vampires are rising again and humanity is on the brink. In Britain, the undead’s allies are about to triumph in a General Election, while in Iraq, they seek the god of the vampires so it can be unleashed on the world. There is only one hope:
But badly wounded, and possibly infected from the very plague he fights, Lawton is haunted by visions and dreams. And they lead him to the resting place of an ancient creature with whom he must forge an alliance if he is to save his friends, his country, and his species.
The review: As I read the first two books of this series, Skarlet and Krimson, I was very struck with the mythology that Emson builds into his books. This is a mythology that brings us a biblical menace of epic proportions, a Babylonian vampire god who was neutralised (but not killed) by Abraham. A history that touches on Vlad Ţepeş, who in this was a hunter of the vampire plagues.
Yet beyond all this it was the social commentary that I founded intriguing, Indeed Skarlet said some very interesting things about immigration that counterpoints the demonization that goes on in the right wing UK press. In this we get a strong commentary on the rise of the far right, the thugs it attracts and the lies it tells to popularise itself. Indeed we get a Britain that becomes a place of terror, with people rounded up and sent off to camps as breeders, workers or food as the human allies, the Nebuchadnezzars, seize control of the country. However controlling a God proves less easy…
Strong writing and a pace that is breakneck at times, this volume does what many writers of a trilogy would hope for. It becomes greater than the sum of its earlier parts and thus the most satisfying book of the series. 8 out of 10.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Release date: 2011
After I decided that Hellraiser was Vamp, due to the presence and activity of Uncle Frank, I dutifully then looked at the second film as Julia had the same traits to regain her body and skin as Frank did – in other words stealing the blood of victims.
Following this the series ran on and on with a variety of differing quality films with the unifying features of the puzzle box and Pinhead. Sometimes these seemed a little odd – probably because many were non-Hellraiser scripts submitted to Dimension Films, into which the Hellraiser aspect was forcibly bolted on. None of them contained a character akin to Frank and Julia.
|Tracey Fairaway as Emma|
|popping out of the mattress|
|Emma is drawn darkly|
|Stephan Smith Collins as Pinhead|
The imdb page is here.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Why interesting? The Skeleton Count, or, the Vampire Mistress (for reference this is printed in The Vampire Omnibus, edited by Peter Haining, my edition being the 1995 edition) is interesting because it was allegedly first published in the Penny Dreadful called the Casket, in 1828. If true the story by Elizabeth Grey may well be the first published English Language vampire prose by a female author.
However, since originally writing this article, I have been directed to evidence that suggests that the story might be a hoax perpetrated by, none other than, Peter Haining. Details are scanty and it is listed as “under investigation” and you can read the full thoughts around this at Yesterday’s Papers (note the article lists the date 1825 – I was aware of the later alleged publication date).
Be that as it may, let us look at the story.
The story surrounds the Count Rudolph of Ravensburg Castle, who did a deal with the Prince of Darkness for immortality. He is not, however, our vampire. The price for his youth and immortality – we discover later – is that between dusk and dawn he becomes a skeleton. However, as an experimenter in the occult he looks to resuscitate the dead, which sees him using occult and alchemical techniques to raise Bertha (a peasant’s deceased sixteen year old daughter) from the dead.
What he doesn’t know is that the technique raises her as a vampire and, as the two become lovers, she sneaks out of the bed chamber to quench her unholy thirst. Interestingly, though fangs are not mentioned, she does have “sharp teeth” that, when she visits a maiden, “punctured the white shoulder, and the partially exposed bosom of Theresa Delmar.” This is not, however, an erotic attack (though it can be read that way) and she would not have been a precursor to the Sapphic Carmilla. Vampires are known, in this story, for attacking children and young women – probably as they made for easier prey.
At one point she is shot and ‘killed’ but, like Ruthven in the Vampyre and Varney she is restored by the moon and we see “another phase in the fearful existence of the vampire bride! For as the beams of the moon fell on the inanimate form of the being of mystery and fear, sensation seemed to slowly return, as when the magic spells of the Count of Ravensburg resuscitated her from the grave.”
She does not fear sunlight, sitting out with the Count and she sleeps in a bedchamber – when not sneaking off for blood, a task made easier when the Count begins his skeletal transformation. However, we discover she can be destroyed. “Nothing but fire or a sharp stake will kill a vampire” we discover and the stake is to be thrust, not through the heart but through the abdomen.
So, there we have it, Elizabeth Grey, the first female author of a vampire story? The story had some very familiar vampire imagery within its length, in an early nineteenth century way, including the use of the vampire’s tie with the moon (interestingly, when the villagers are speaking of their dilemma we hear that “nothing was talked of but vampires and wehr-wolves, and other human transformations more terrific”, reminding us of the close connection between the vampire and werewolf myths). On the other hand, it may have been written in the 1990s by a man and naughtily offered as a piece of media vampire history.
Thursday, August 07, 2014
For those who don’t know, today is the first day of Rebellion Festival and I’ll be enjoying four days of punk and alternative music.
The festival is actually in my home town but I’m still going to put the blog on hold for a few days. I’ll be back to posting on Monday and in the meantime I'll leave you with the Red Paintings, who I’ll be watching today.
Posted by Taliesin_ttlg at 2:03 AM