Sunday, May 27, 2012

The First Lady of Gothic Literature

There once was a very talented woman who possessed a great imagination and a penchant for spinning dark, haunting Gothic tales that thrilled readers and had them up late at night, reading by candlelight and longing for her next great work.

I'm not talking about Laurel K. Hamilton, although, I have read many of her Anita Blake stories and enjoyed them immensely.

The First Lady of Gothic Literature is not Anne Rice, either, in case that was your next guess. I have read many of Rice's wonderful vampire chronicles, starting with Interview with the Vampire and going on through to Blood and Gold. While Rice may be a close second when discussing women who write delicious Gothic stories, there is someone who came along a few centuries earlier and made a big splash in the literary pond with her intriguing tales.

Here's a clue: Jane Austen tried to emulate her works when she wrote "Northanger Abbey." 

If you haven't guessed who I'm talking about, let me introduce you: it's none other than Ann Radcliffe. Mrs. Radcliffe lived from 1764 to 1823, in England. She was a married woman of moderate wealth, childless, who found succor and fulfillment in her writing. She also found a willing audience for her works among the London Elite of the 1790's.

As there are no known paintings of her, this a sketch depicting the author. 

There is not a lot known about this wonderful writer's personal life. She was married to a lawyer, and they did not have children. She was reputed to be a recluse. She wrote stories with dark, threatening men set in mysterious, sometimes bleak landscapes, such as dark, haunted forests, or lonely castles or abbeys. The heroine was often in danger from these brooding men, and had to solve some mysterious and paranormal event. Her writing is also very poetic, with long, vivid descriptions of landscapes and creepy, abandoned abbeys sufficient enough to make us worry for our heroine as she investigates the odd goings on in a rather foreboding, disconcerting setting.

Sound familiar? It should, because many later writers following her into the 19th century would emulate and build upon her works; writers such as Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley, and even Edgar Allan Poe & Bram Stoker.  Radcliffe's works always stirred the imagination, and left a definite 'chill' factor in her audiences, much as our modern horror writers do for us today. 
Here is a caricture of women enjoying one of Radcliffe's Gothic Novels by candlelight drawn by James Gilray, caricurist for the London Newspapers, and printed in 1802. Note the expressions of suspense on the faces of the listeners.
My favorite by Radcliffe is "The Romance of the Forest." It is the story of young woman who was raised in a convent. One day, her nefarious father comes to take her home as she has turned 18 years of age. He takes her to an abandoned farmhouse, locks her in a room for days, and then shoves her off onto some travelers who happen by the farm in the middle of the night, travelers who are fugitives from the law.  She is forced to enter their coach and go with them by her rather nasty father. They take her deep into the forest, where they set up camp in an abandoned old Abbey that is reputed to be haunted and inundated with some mysterious tragedy. The heroine, Adelaide, looks about the ruins as night is falling, seeing and sensing that something is watching them, that danger is mere waiting for them to fall asleep . . . 

That is just the first few chapters. Need I say more?  As a fan of Ann Radcliffe myself, I have given tribute to this wonderful writer in my own Gothic Romance; Dark Hero. The heroine in my story is fascinated with Radcliffe's writings, as my book is set in the late 1790's and my heroine has grown up in London. In Dark Hero, the heroine's Irish grandmother will cast a spell to summon a dark hero to rescue her, a hero based on the girlish fantasies the heroine nurtures from devouring Mrs. Radcliffe's delicious Gothic horror novels with relish. Thus, my own endeavor of publishing a Gothic Romance in 2012 has also been influenced by the daring Ann Radcliffe and her writings from the late eighteenth century.

Anne Radcliffe liked to intersperse lines of her own poetry into her stories, a technique that later writers would also emulate, particularly Mr. Poe.  

Here are a couple of delicious quotes from the lady herself: 

 "He, wrapt in clouds of mystery and silence,
Broods o'er his passions, bodies them in deeds,
And sends them forth on wings of Fate to others,
Like the invisible Will, that guides us,
Unheard, unknown, unsearchable."
Ann Radcliffe Poem, from cover page of "The Italian", 1797

"Fate sits on these dark battlements, and frowns,
And, as the portals open to receive me,
Her voice, in sullen echoes through the courts,
Tells of a nameless deed." 
From "The Mysteries of Udolpho" 1794

Ann Radcliffe's works have fallen into obscurity, yet, you can still purchase her novels through Penguin Press. Mostly, they have become required reading for college literature, but for those who like a truly poetic, wordy, and descriptive Gothic story, they may be worth your time. I have them on my bookshelf. 
Here is a list of her works. Look for them on  

A Sicilian Romance, 1790

The Romance of the Forest, 1791

The Mysteries of Udolpho, 1794

The Italian, or the Confessional of the Black Penitents, 1797

Gaston de Blondeville (published post-humously) 1826.

Click here or more info on Radcliffe: Wikipedia

 Chills to you,

Lilith Bloodrose

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Nightmare: A classic in Gothic Art

The Nightmare, by J. Henry Fuseli, 1781 Oil on Canvas

 Greetings my fellow Gothic Lovers,

As I've spent a few posts writing about Gothic Movies and TV shows, I decided it was time to mix things up a bit, and talk this time about Gothic Art.

Now, mind you, in Art History circles there isn't necessarily a recognized 'school' of Gothic art, but there are plenty of Gothic paintings to search for throughout the centuries. The Romantic period has many Gothic images in it, and once we get past the revolution in Art that the impressionists started in Paris of the 1880's, we can find many more wonderful examples of Gothic, dreamlike or nightmarish depictions.

One of the most famous of these earlier paintings is the one above, The Nightmare. It was painted by an artist slightly before the Gothic craze that hit England in the late 18th century.

What, you say, there was a Gothic craze in the 18th Century? Yes, there was. I've studied the Gothic movement for some years and as a historian I am delighted to share this news with you. Often we think our generation invented a fad, but really, there is nothing new under the sun.... just revivals. You've heard of Gothic Revival Architecture when talking about house design, everyone has.

Well, it seems that in the late eighteenth century, England experienced a Gothic Revival of sorts, in literature, architecture and in some art circles. It's found under the "Romantic" period, and is considered a backlash against the Age of Enlightenment when men were courting logic and reason and the Industrial Revolution began to pollute and tear up the pristine English countryside with factories. Romanticism was a return to the dreamy side of the mind, the illogical, and often unexplainable part of life, like falling in love or . . . having a nightmare.

 J. Henry Fuesli's The Nightmare is an example of this return to Romanticism in thought and art. His painting has rather chilling undertones. The woman lying with her body dangling over the bed is supposed to be a virgin. She's lying as if half dead, or stoned out of her mind--you pick, the interpretation is usually left up to the viewer.  The creature sitting on her chest has visited her while she is asleep, giving her a 'nightmare'. It was believed in folklore that when a virgin, or other female sleeping alone had a nightmare, that she had been visited by an incubus--or demon in the night. Some stories claim the demon had sex with her while she was unconscious.

Wow, who thought our century had the corner on the crazy market. As I have a minor in Art History, I can tell you what the horse and the incubus are supposed to mean. There all kinds of psycho-babble and nerdy interpretations have been written about this great painting, (the woman is sexually frustrated, repressed, she's courting the devil, practicing witchcraft and ecetera).  And you can nod your head, politely, and make your own assumptions and allusions.

Or just enjoy this rich, lovely Gothic painting and the creepiness it evokes in the viewer. It was shocking when first displayed in the Art Galleries in the 1780's, but it caught on, and has lasted as a disturbing painting for two centuries.

About the Artist: Henry Fuseli was born in Zurich, Switzerland as Johanne Heinrich Fuusli. He was lucky enough to be born into a family of artists, art historians and writers. Although his siblings were artists, his father slanted him for the clergy. Fuseli became a clergyman, but he had his own opinions about things, so that didn't take very well. He became an artist in later years instead. Good for us! Fuseli was a reputed to be a short man of 5'2'' but had a very 'domineering' personality. He was reputed to be a very intelligent and fiery sort of man. He also had pure white hair, which gives me the image of Doc from Back to the Future.

Fuseli spent much of his time as a painter and writer in England. He painted a lot of Shakespeare's scenes, and became known for his mystical and haunting style of painting. The Nightmare, is his most famous work. He is considered by many to be a forerunner of the Symbolist movement and the Surrealist Art movement, as most of the paintings he has done are very dreamlike and surreal at a time when most English painters stuck to historical figures, landscapes or portraits of the rich and famous. 

Sweet Dreams!

Chills to you,

Lilith Bloodrose

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mom's Day: A salute to the ultimate Gothic Mom!

June Cleaver eat your heart out!

As the sun sets on Mother's Day at Bloodrose Manor, and as I didn't really have a role model for a mother, I'm thinking of the TV moms who I admire.

My first thought was Morticia Adams, but as I recall her Motherly behavior, I don't come up with too much as memorable from a maternal standpoint. The kids were there in the background, but Morticia was always just standing or sitting around being beautiful, being kissed by Gomez, or cutting the buds off the roses so she could arrange the thorny stems in a nice bouquet.

Then it hit me: Lily Munster. Yes, she's our own June Cleaver, with a lot of Goth thrown in. Lily Munster is one classy dame. June Cleaver may scurry about the house in pearls and high heels, but Lily has black lipstick and a cool bat pendent. A stay at home mom with a golden heart who is devoted to her family. She's a modern mom, even if the show was made in the 60's, as she has more than just her own wee lad, Eddie, to look after. Like many modern households, she has extended family living with her; Grandpa and her niece. Suffice it to say she really has her hands full. Grandpa, her father, is a vampire who can turn into a bat, but also a nutty professor and who knows what he'll get up to in that basement lab of his when she's not watching him. If anyone has had to endure the trying situation of an aging parent living with them, remember Lily did it too. She did it with firmness, patience and love. 

When I think of Lily, I recall her making breakfast for the family, or dinner in their little kitchen. With the family gathered around the table, she's standing over a steaming pot of ...what ever .....something gooey and slimy, and dishing up the family a hearty meal made with her dear little pale and lovely hands. Lily is a doer and shaker, the real backbone that holds everything together. She is a comfort to little Eddie when he's having a bad day, just like moms everywhere. I can see Little Eddie clutching his werewolf bear, who is dressed in matching striped pajamas that I'd guess Lily made for the teddy, and I can remember Lily soothing him, encouraging him or just being there to cuddle and comfort him with motherly devotion.

As a concerned Aunt Lily to her niece, Marilyn, Lily advises her on dating and on how to behave in high school. She encourages poor Marilyn with true motherly concern regarding her looks, which in truth Lily finds the girl plain and unlovely. Funny, as the Marilyn character is sort of a parody of Marilyn Monroe, but in this family she's the plain Jane ugly duckling. As a loving aunt, Lily does her best to mother the young woman and put up with her despite her weird appearance. Ah, yes, a goth mother with a sadly 'normal' looking child. I think Lily would have loved having Abby Scuitto from NCIS as a niece or daughter, don't you. Abby is just happy enough and quirky enough to fit in with the Munster clan.

Lily really has two children, if you count her ditzy husband, Herman. With him, she had her hands full, as he gets into one scrape after another and she lovingly and persistently tries to get him out of it. She lectures him, scolds him and in the end, she hugs the big lug, knowing damn well she knows best in this family (Father Knows Best, eat your heart out!).

So, in honor of Mothers everywhere, let's raise a glass of absinthe in praise of Lily Munster, our inspiring Goth Mom!

Watch this clip to see Lily in action as our devoted homemaker

Chills to you,

Lilith Bloodrose

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dark Shadows: Be Very Afraid.

"Oh, the horror! What have they done?"  Jonathan Frid as Original Barnabas Collins
Okay, so in the last blog I mentioned we should just enjoy a good Gothic film and not be too cerebral in our criticisms. But remember I also used the term Good with the term Gothic Film.  I have to admit, I'm a little uneasy about this new Burton/Depp conception named "Dark Shadows".

I feel the urge to utter caution to my fellow Goths, something along the lines of "Be very Afraid!"

Not in the good sense. No. That's the problem. I'm not anticipating  delicious 'chills' or screams or a squirm factor from this one. What I'm anticipating in this odd remake of the old 1960's soap opera is plenty of 'schmaltz'. Lest you scratch your head wondering what the bloody hell I just said, let me rephrase it;  I think it's going to be over the top silly and cute, to the point of being utterly pointless and possibly downright stupid.

I could be wrong. I'd love to be wrong because I have been a serious fan of Tim Burton's work for years and usually if Johnny Depp in the project, it's double the pleasure. But lately, dear readers, I've been a little wary regarding this sacred union of Burton & Depp. Alice in Wonderland was . . . a little scarey--and not in a good way. I looked forward to AIW long before it's release. But the Mad Hatter depiction by Depp was silly and disappointing. I love Captain Jack Sparrow. But the Hatter, hmmm, weak, limp, hapless. You had the name Johnny Depp after it, but even so, it was just too--cute--to suit me. And then there was the Willy Wonka nightmare. The repetitiveness of silly, hapless characters is getting wearisome. At least Captain Jack had . . . dare I say it . . . BALLS. In comparison, the other two characters have teeny little marbles, lots of them--and their strewn all over the floor in a jumbled mess.

But I digress. My purpose in this little discussion is not to complain about Depp's recent characters, but rather to discuss the authentic Dark Shadows Television show for those who have not had a proper introduction to a truly unique television series--for it's time period.

I have seen the original Dark Shadows, the original TV series from the 60's, back when it was on regular TV in the sixties. I was just a kid, but even then, I knew, I could tell by the intro scene with the dark seas and waves crashing upon the jagged rocks, complete with the eerie music, that this was not a campy, silly show. It intrigued me as a child. It was dark, creepy, and that was precisely what attracted me to it. I would have loved to stay home from school to watch that show, but mom wouldn't have it. It was the forbidden fruit because it was on during daytime, and it was serialized story about life, love, convoluted storylines, romance and loss, (a. k.a. soap opera) with dark brooding undertones. The original series was not campy, sarcastic or spoofy. It was a serious drama. Oh, yes, I know, the whole vampire thing and the soap opera thing make it a spoof of the regular soaps, but it was a brilliant sort of spoofing in that it did not stoop so low as to make an ass out of itself in the process. The actors were serious, not seriously deluded. Okay, okay, I'll calm down a little and discuss this rationally. I promise. It's just that ..... as I said in an earlier post, the label Gothic used to stand for something really special, and that something was a darkness with gravity and dignity coupled with intense yet beautiful moodiness that was nothing short of majestic.

Dark Shadows, the Original TV Series
 Dark Shadows, premiered on the 27th of June, 1966 on daytime television and was billed as a "GOTHIC" soap opera. Note I capitalized the word Gothic. It was filmed in black and white to add to a very nuanced creepiness of an old horror movie. The series starts out with a young woman, Victoria Winters, who is traveling to Collinsport, Maine by train to take the job of governess for the wealthy Collins Family. The child she will oversee is troubled, the family she will live with is troubled. There is a dark brooding spirit over the manor, and supernatural goings on. Victoria has dreams and queer flashbacks regarding her past that she can't explain. There are allusions in this work to past life experiences and reincarnation. Eventually, Victoria encounters an English cousin of the Maine Collins Family, who is in truth one of the earlier founders, Barnabas Collins. He's a vampire from the 18th century who was cursed by a witch, and trapped in a coffin for 175 years. He comes back to his home, and finds Victoria there; he believes she is the reincarnated spirit of his lost love, Josette. The two of them spend a lot of time dancing back and forth, each trying to make sense of the situation in traditional soap opera style, with heartache, longing, angst and avoidance. An undead love story, he's a vamp, she's a reincarnated governess who doesn't like him so much after all these centuries, but he doesn't want to give her up . . . you get the idea. There are lots of other story lines, as there is a whole cast of characters, but Barnabas pining after Victoria/Josette is really the thru-line of the story once Barnabas appears.

Interesting trivia fact: Barnabas Collins, the Icon of the show, wasn't on it for the first 9 months. Dan Curtis, the creator, decided to toss in a vampire at the end of season one when the ratings weren't so great, kind of along the lines of hell, if we're going out, let's go out with a bang! (Note to reader, not a direct quote from Dan Curtis, but my research points to an indirect general idea that these were his thoughts at the time). Well, they got this creepy looking dude, Jonathan Frid, to play said vampire, and wouldn't you know it, rather than sink the show took off!  It continued on, with the vampire becoming the most well remembered character, for five years, ending in 1971.

Jonathan Frid was a Shakespearean actor. By that, I mean he was trained in theater, and was a very talented actor in American Shakespeare playhouses before joining the cast of Dark Shadows and immortalizing Barnabas Collins as a cultural Icon. He took his role very seriously, and played the part of Barnabas with a mixture of angst, longing and good old Shakespearean Romantic Longing. This is why I'm afraid the latest version of Dark Shadows on the big screen will prove disappointing--there is no depth of character in the Burton/Depp version. It appears (from the trailers) to be merely a mindless romp with plenty of bad puns and dark scenery when held up against the backdrop of the original. Jonathan Frid makes an appearance in the 2012 movie. Mr. Frid died on April 13, 2012, at the age of 87.

The original series had a really attractive werewolf in it as well. David Selby played a brooding, young Byronic hero, cursed to be a werewolf. He is Quentin Collins, and a few other Collins ancestors, as they use this handsome young man to do some soul swapping through the centuries. This is an interesting plot line as well for daytime television set in the late 1960's. Concepts like reincarnation and soul travel, or rather, astral projection, were not really all that common on network TV back then. Today, we are inured to alternate religions and the paranormal with shows like Supernatural, Ghost Whisperer, The Vampire Diaries and the like so we take those plot-lines for granted. But nearly fifty years ago an obscure soap opera started it all. Oh, what the devil has unleashed!

And yes, a storyline even involved the devil in the last season! Truly imaginative Television for it's day.  

They tried to re-make the TV series in the 1990's, with Ben Cross playing Barnabas Collins. It lasted one season, didn't have the werewolf in it, or the devil. It was okay, and it was a serious work, not silly or campy, but it ended on a cliff hanger and didn't get renewed for the next season. You can get it from Netflix, if you're so inclined.

In closing, I want to direct you to a truly wonderful site that celebrates the old TV series properly. If you are curious about the actors who played in it, about the series itself (episode guides), photos, journals, links, where to buy the DVD's and whatnot, you'll find it all here. I was awed and amazed by this site, so rather than using pictures or clips from it, out of respect for the creator and contributors to this site, I'm just sending you there. Bon Appetite. Link to Dark Shadows Journal Online

Oh, and if you do see the Movie, email me and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you.

Chills to you,

Lilith Bloodrose

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Raven: Movie Review

Detail of Gothic #2, Literature, by Lilith Bloodrose, Mixed media collage. See full work here StrictlyGothic website

 The Verdict on "The Raven" Movie: Bottom Line, I liked it!

Yes, it was dark, and scary, and had a lot of great atmosphere and gritty gore scenes.
It's a murder mystery, along the lines of Criminal Minds or Bones, but set in Victorian Baltimore. And as the murders are quite grisly, they are based on Poe's stories, be prepared to see dismembered body parts lying about and lots of screaming. I'm just warning you.

In case you haven't heard it yet, here is the plot, in a nutshell:

Edgar Allan Poe is down on his luck. He's short on funds, and seems to have lost his muse. He writes reviews and columns for the local paper, but his popularity has waned, as we learn when the stinging review of another writer's work he had hoped would be a literary triumph (and earn him a few bucks) gets killed (publishing term for canceling a planned story before publication) before publication, and to his horror, is replaced in the paper by the very item he was reviewing. He's angry with his editor, and when he confronts him as to why this has happened, why not only kill his article but publish the very piece he was hacking to pieces in it's slot, the editor replies blandly, "The people like it." (the it meaning this rival author's work)

Ah, tis the bane of every author, someone elses work, whom you may secretly loathe, is loved by the masses, while your work is . . . ignored.

But Poe has an unknown  ally, a fan of a very creepy and twisted sort. This fan has been inspired to commit murders from reading Poe's work, and he's a serial killer from the cradle (Don't worry, I won't spoil the story for you by giving away the end, this part about the murderer's childhood comes out at the end of the movie), and since he admires Poe's work so much, he feels it is his 'moral' obligation to become Poe's muse, to get his juices flowing artistically again so he can reclaim his title of master. This premise is seriously creepy--it's basically "I'll kill for you to get you writing horror stories again."

The murders point the police to Poe, first as a possible suspect, but once the inspector realizes Poe is not the man responsible, he asks Poe to help him with the investigation as an expert witness because the murderer is using Mr. Poe's works as a template for each kill. This is a good idea, an excellent story idea. However, I had one problem with this premise; Poe wrote so many stories, how can they logically know which one the killer will use next?

It's sort of a crap shoot in my mind, but Poe and the police seem to figure out which of his stories will be used next based on clues given by the murderer on the bodies of past victims. As a writer, I found the idea of taking a huge body of work of a prolific writer, and being able to pinpoint an exact idea for the next murder a little stretched. But, I suspended my disbelief in order to enjoy this wonderfully dark, Gothic tale with Mr. Poe as the hero. (Every movie has it's flaws, right?) And besides, the main point of a movie is to entertain us. If we become too cerebral and scholarly about movies and their break with reality, we've really just ruined our own fun, haven't we? I won't do that.

To up the game for Poe, the killer decides to kidnap his lady love, Emily Hamilton and the implication is clear, she will die unless Poe figures out where she is being kept.  (Clue: buried alive, but where is the question). This is unexpected but brutal as Poe nearly falls apart at the news. Now it's personal. If Poe fails, Emily will die. Bodies pile up with clues attached or rather, inside them. Deliciously gory.

The chase scenes are excellent, as Poe and the police detectives hunt down the killer by following the bodies of clues, yes--dear reader, the killer leaves the bodies themselves as clues for the next kill. Poe and the inspector end up crashing the Theater during a live scene of Macbeth, end up crashing a Masked Ball, searching the dark tunnels below the city and chasing through the foggy countryside in pursuit of a killer who remains one step ahead of them. We get glimpses of the killer in a mask and cloak, running away just as the Poe and the Police arrive.  Cat and mouse, as one reviewer said.

If you like Poe, if you like Gothic movies, if you like Victorian Gothic, with dark nights and swirling fog, if you like murder mysteries--you will like this movie. If you like costume dramas and period pieces, you'll like this movie. If you are looking for an accurate portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe's life, you won't find it here. It takes place in his later years, after his wife's death from consumption, when his career has waned. At the end of the movie, this is made perfectly clear, when you read in the end credits. This movie is a work of fiction and any resemblance to actual persons, places or events is purely coincidental.  There you have it, in the filmmaker's own words.  This is fiction. Not truth, just a fun story, so don't go hunting for errors or expect the film depict Poe's life with complete accuracy--just have fun!

That's my point. Just have fun. A good Gothic thriller comes along only so often. And emphasis on the word GOOD. Yeah, we have plenty of losers out there that fail miserably, lots of B-Movies. This one is Very Good. It's not perfect, but movies never are. You can bash it to death, my beloved Gothic friends, find fault with every little detail, or just enjoy it, savor it as a triumph for the dark side. I don't think Poe would object, very much. This movie is so much better than the Poe movies from the 60's, seriously. (Check yesterday's post to read about them.)

Two last parting points:
1. John Cusack did a fabulous job portraying Poe. I'm used to Cusack as the quirky, funny male lead in modern romantic comedies, (Must Love Dogs, Serendipity) but he has crossed over to the dark side with grace and aplomb.

2. It is unfortunate that the release of this movie coincided with the opening of The Avengers. This will probably hurt box office ratings, but true Poe/Gothic fans will love it anyway. My husband and I saw it on Friday night, opening night for the Avengers. There was a long line to see The Avengers, while my darling and I, on the other hand, had the theater to ourselves. Could have had some good times making out all alone in the dark--but darn, that movie was just too fast paced and compelling to look away.

For the serious Goth, this movie will be a delicious escape into the world of Poe.  

Another incarnation of Poe on the big screen is an older movie, The Black Cat, 2007. This is another depiction of Poe, using events of his life as a backdrop, and is likely more accurate for the Poe Purists. Jeffrey Coombs stars as Poe. I've seen it. It's good and creepy, and has wince worthy moments.
The Black Cat link

Chills to You.

Lilith Bloodrose.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Raven; A Pre-Movie Ramble

Limited Time: Free E-Book 'Dark Hero' A Very Gothic Romance get it here  Use Coupon Code WG572

Tonight, I am going to the movie, "The Raven" starring John Cusack as the wonderful Mr. Edgar Allen Poe. Tomorrow, I will write a review. Here are a few thoughts on movies and the venerable Mr. Poe.

When I first saw the previews and trailers a few months back, I thought Yes, it's about time someone did a movie about Poe for the big screen. Our Patron Saint, Mr. Poe, rarely gets much stage time anymore. I very vaguely recall a few cheesy movies I saw on TV as a kid (made in the 60's) with Vincent Price involved, (although I don't think cheesy is a term worthy of Mr. Price. He's good in anything).  
The movies were done by Roger Corman, and enough said, you either love them as cult classics in this modern era of the 21st century, or you hate them. Either way, you are forgiven. 

 Link to Wikipedia description of The Raven, 1963

I'm undecided on the Corman 'classic horror' status. They may have been really intense in their day, but with all the changes in movies in recent decades, I think all those stories could be done a lot better.  Take for example, "The Raven" starring Vincent Price in the 60's. I saw it a few years ago on Cable and it was boring.

Link to Wikipedia Pit and Pendulum Movie

There was also "The Pit and the Pendulum."  Another ........hmmm .......strange one. Then again, maybe it's genius, who knows?

A disgustingly weird and flat 60's 'Poe' movie was "The Mask of the Red Death."

Wikipedia "Masque of Red Death" page

Done badly, or wondrously--depending on your point of view. I'll go with the former, myself. I saw it on Cable TV last summer, and argh--that's a couple of hours I'll never get back. I couldn't stop watching it, cuz I kept hoping it would get better! It didn't. Only thing going for it was Mr. Price as the lead actor. It was in that age where everyone was trying to emulate Hitchcock's genius with Vertigo or The Birds, and everyone fell short. To me, it's akin to a grad student trying to emulate Tim Burton's film genius--and doing it very badly.

Needless to say, dear Goth reader, keep in mind that a movie, any movie, even one based on solid literature and storyline, is always subject to the director's artistic vision and influences, for better or worse.  Often, it's worse. Enough said on that account. Take Tim Burton, for example. His doing Alice in Wonderland gave it a darker flavor then say, the Disney version. 

I've often wondered why the works of Edgar Allan Poe have not been mined by Hollywood in recent years. I've often wondered why Tim Burton, the Dark Film God of this Age, has not tapped into the Master Poe's works for the big screen. I absolutely loved Sleepy Hollow, an early Tim Burton/Johnny Depp Movie.  
 Atmosphere pic of Sleepy Hollow Movie

The atmosphere alone in that movie was worthy of an Oscar nomination, it was that tangible and deliciously creepy. And just think, Burton could work up the atmospheres for Poe's works and give them the finesse they truly deserve.

Back to "The Raven". I've heard good and bad things. I'm a little nervous, wondering if it will be just another bad Poe movie. I'm also hopeful, as John Cusack is a brilliant actor. I want to like this one, I really do. But people, critics, are already bashing it.  Well, all I can do is go and give my honest opinion. 

Tune in this weekend for my own review. And don't forget to get a free copy of my E-Book, Dark Hero, a Very Gothic Romance at   Link          Use coupon code WG572

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Very Gothic Romance: Get a Free E-Book

New book release:  My latest book is a Dark, Gothic Historical Romance with a heavy Paranormal feel. 

Indie Publishing is a wonderful thing. It allows the writer to by-pass the traditional publishing houses and put their work online for anyone to read. As a celebration for this new event, I am willing to give away copies of my newest book, Dark Hero. 

This story is starts in England, with most of the action taking place in the Caribbean in 1798.
 The heroine, Elizabeth O'Flaherty, is a descendent of the Druids. 

Elizabeth will face many challenges, both from enemies in the physical realm as well as in the supernatural. She marries a reclusive man who dissects corpses in order to study the human body, a man who lives on an isolated island estate in the Caribbean with locked and shuttered rooms. Her new home comes complete with a couple of resident ghosts. She will be forced to take up her unique heritage as a seer and priestess of the old religion, in order to save her family from a very determined evil.  

As a lover of all things Gothic, from Evanescence to Anne Rice, Sleepy Hollow and Dracula, I loved writing this story. I had so much fun throwing more and more dark and creepy happenings into poor Elizabeth's life, that I truly felt sorry for this young woman as she struggled to overcome such devastating obstacles. But, as great writers have said, you have to be nasty to your heroes and heroines in order for there to be a true conflict and thus create a compelling plot. Let me know what you think, dear readers. I had fun writing this, and I hope you will have fun reading it as well. 

Here is a brief blurb from the back of the print copy of the book: 
Guard Your Dreams . . . Lest They Emerge from the Mists to Embrace You!    
After her mother is murdered, Elizabeth’s Irish grandmother uses Druid magic to summon a champion from the mists to protect her from her nefarious stepfather. Granny Sheila calls forth a Dark Hero based on the Gothic Romances Elizabeth devours with relish. When a beguiling Irishman appears at their cottage one magic summer eve, he seems to be everything Elizabeth imagined in a hero. But her dashing Irish beau is much more than he appears to be.

Donovan Beaumont is a tormented recluse who takes refuge in logic and reason. After escaping the torturer’s den he uses disguises to protect himself from those about him. As the mysterious French count, a scarred survivor of ‘The Terror’, he inspires dread in all. As the charming Mr. O’Rourke, he gains people’s trust and learns their secrets, making certain he is never betrayed again. As The Raven, a notorious pirate, he is death to those who cross him on the high seas.

As Elizabeth’s husband, he is much more than she bargained for when she said ‘I do’.  

Once they arrive at his isolated island estate in the West Indies, a dismal place where ghosts linger and sorrow pervades, Elizabeth fears her new husband may be courting madness. She struggles with his dark moods, his eccentricities and their growing estrangement.  

Elizabeth inherited the gift of the seer and is able to speak with the dead. Married to a scientist, she is reluctant to take up her gifts lest he consider her the mad one and pack her off to the nearest asylum. Tormented by guilt, past abuse and memories of her mother’s murder, Elizabeth is being stalked by a malicious ghost who was cursed by her ancestor. Elizabeth is forced to embrace her Druid heritage and confront the disturbing secrets hidden in her soul.  

The price of honesty may be too steep; if Donovan learns her horrifying secrets she may lose his love forever.  

Available on in kindle format and in Print form. Dark Hero on