It’s our Frightening Flix Horror Titans of Yore come to celebrate our HorrorAddicts.net anniversary!
It’s our Frightening Flix Horror Titans of Yore come to celebrate our HorrorAddicts.net anniversary!
The Haunted Palace is a Creepy Little Treat.
By Kristin Battestella
In all my Vincent Price, Roger Corman, AIP, and Poe celebrations, it’s been quite tough to find The Haunted Palace again. Though this 1963 tale borrows much more from Lovecraft than it does Poe, all the creepy, freaky moods and twists are here in fine form.
In the 18th century, Arkham townsfolk burn the warlock Joseph Curwen (Price) for using the Necronomicon and local women in sadistic experiments- but Curwen vows to return and curses the village descendants. 100 years later, Charles Dexter Ward (also Price) and his wife Anne (Debra Paget) inherit Curwen’s mansion and return to the New England ruin. Dr. Willet (Frank Maxwell) informs the couple of the town’s twisted history, but the rest of the villagers fear Ward as local strange occurrences and bizarre deaths increase. They use their deformed children to frighten Anne, and she begins to suspect the spirit of Curwen is indeed trying to take over her husband. Unfortunately, their caretaker Simon (Lon Chaney, Jr.) knows more than he’s saying…
Writer Charles Beaumont (The Twilight Zone, Premature Burial, The Masque of the Red Death) teams with director Roger Corman (House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum) for this Lovecraftian adaptation that got unfortunately shoehorned into American International Picture’s Edgar Allan Poe cycle. Yes, it’s based on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward more than any reaching at Poe titles or poetry- which might automatically put off the Poe faithful or the Lovecraft purists alike. However, the spooky moods and sinister atmosphere are here from the onset, with great traditional jumpy moments and heck, it’s actually scary in some scenes. Even if you expect the smoke and mirror twists, it’s still dang suspenseful as the sinister past increasingly takes hold. Indeed, the Necronomicon back story and Cthulhu allusions could be better explained, and the revenge plotlines are similar to later films like The Abominable Dr. Phibes. There’s reused fire filmmaking for the finale and the end is somewhat abrupt, too, but overall, this is an entertaining and scary little picture.
Naturally, the resemblance between Curwen and Ward is uncanny! Our Man Vincent differentiates the two men nicely to start, allowing a slow possession to brew. The naughty implications, man handlings, and great outbursts build perfectly as the Victorian gentleman Ward becomes increasing overtaken with the ruthless warlock Curwen. The tender scenes and inner torment as Ward realizes the takeover is happening are well done, too. Again, I don’t see any over the top acting. Price’s subtle inner conflict and physical alterations are quite the opposite in fact. The pacing on the possession is good, but I do wish the film were a bit longer, as Debra Paget (The Ten Commandments with Price) as Ward’s wife Anne does become a bit typical. She’s active, suspects, and doesn’t scream too much, but it just seems like they ran out of time in developing her suspicions on Curwen overtaking her husband. Of course, Paget looks wonderful- and looks good scared, that’s not always an easy thing to master. The Wards also sleep in the same bed, whoa! Anne ends up the good little woman, but their tender relationship and its explosive breakdown are well done, and it adds an extra personal dimension to the twistedness at hand.
Instead of the usual stock company throwaways, the supporting village men in The Haunted Palace lift up the horror here. Lon Chaney, Jr. (The Wolf Man) is perfection as the creepy and most definitely not so innocent caretaker Simon. Of course, he knows more about Curwen than he lets on to the Wards, and his scary introduction is great. Frank Maxwell (Our Man Higgins) does fine work as the would be voice of reason among the otherwise superstitious townsfolk, but again, I wish there were more of his Dr. Willet and town scaredy cat Elisha Cook Jr. (The Maltese Falcon, House on Haunted Hill). Leo Gordon (McLintock!) is also a lot of fun, as are the weird, deformed, and disturbed village descendants. Oh, girls with no eyes or freaky eyeless men and worse shouldn’t be so scary, but when used in full force here, it’s downright frightening.
Although the Cthulhu- like tentacles and dungeon scenery leave something to be desired, the other period styles and designs establish The Haunted Palace wonderfully. The spider web motifs over the credits will be dang freaky for arachnophobes, and the opening colonial mayhem looks on form. The fog and lightning create all the atmosphere needed, and eerie music tops off the titular mansion’s décor, red candles, and sweet candelabras. Those dungeons, however, are a little too dark to see- even when its daylight. Of course, the video is due some restoration, and the matte paintings supposedly providing scope are fairly poor, but that is to be expected. Thankfully, the Victorian standards, ornate frocks, and wispy nightgowns more than make up the difference.
Unfortunately, The Haunted Palace is dang tough to find. Netflix is mum and its double bill DVD release with Tower of London is downright elusive. For Price Fans, Corman completists, and old school horror fans, however, The Haunted Palace is well worth the hunt. Catch it whenever you can or delight again on a spooky late night whenever you need that hint of Lovecraft. Or Poe for that matter, hehe.
Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz (and a special feline guest) discusses new appreciations in revisiting the short fiction of Edgar Allan Poe including The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell Tale Heart in addition to comparing and contrasting the Vincent Price and Roger Corman Poe Film Adaptations.
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An Excursion in Poe
by Kristin Battestella
A little bit of Edgar can be found in anywhere – if you know where to look.
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Oval Portrait – Stormy nights, carriages, red velvet, and antiques accent this loose 1972 adaptation alongside candles, staircases, ominous housekeepers, late relatives, and ghostly piano playing. The titular painting, apparitions, and haunted house atmosphere come early with eerie music, lovelorn letters, and fainting ladies. However the inaccurate Civil War costumes, shabby uniforms, off kilter voices, and dark print make it difficult to tell who’s Union or Confederate. The echoing overlays, visions of past couples, and angry artist can’t overcome the lookalike characters, soap opera stylings, and rip off plots. Sure Poe’s tale is thin, but here the new wife shocks everyone by coming down the stairs in Rebecca’s clothes – and yes that’s the late subject’s name. More people keep arriving, but the ghostly possessions are put on hold for flashbacks with rally calls, cavalry, and a soldier on the lamb that look borrowed from another picture. If this scandal is where the story starts, why not begin there? Of course, there’s also confusion between this movie and another with the same cast called One Minute Before Death, and the bookends make it seem like the two movies are combined into one on top of weak scripting, fly by night production, and jumpy flash cuts between the back and forth that never lets the forbidden love build. The muddled dialogue and stalling gothic romance feel like part of the story is missing – compromising the illicit, funerals, and grave robbing before more hysterics, wills, and tacked on ghosts. Though watchable – bemusing even thanks to the overlong, nonsensical dancing with the corpse finale that’s probably followed by some good old fashioned necrophilia – this could have been a better, faithful adaptation of Poe’s story instead of some kind of two for the price of one messy that doesn’t go together.
The Fall of the House of Usher – There’s not a lot of information available on this elusive 1949 British adaptation of Poe’s famously flawed siblings. The opening here is weird, with Brit pimps in their boys club chatting up their Poe favorites. When the story moves into the tale itself, however, solid dialogue from the book, lovely period décor, and bizarre designs put on the right demented atmosphere. Piano interludes, candlelight, unique photography, and one very creepy crazy mama add to the fun. Yes, today’s audiences may feel the plot meanders a bit with seeming slow or quiet scenes. Fortunately, the fade-in editing, ticking clocks, and slow-burning wicks encapsulate the tomb-like mood. This actually does what an adaptation should do- I want to go read the source again! It’s a bit dry, but this one is worth the Poe study or classroom comparison for the scares and macabre it gets right.
The Raven – He’s hamming it up and quoting death as his talisman – Bela Lugosi is creepy as ever behind his doctor’s mask and a suave god complex for this 1935 Poe based hour. The bearded, raspy, demented looking Boris Karloff (also of the unrelated 1963 mash-up of the same name with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre) is trying to reform his criminal ways, but Lugosi’s twisted doctoring wrenches that! This quick plot wastes no time thanks to car accidents, desperate medicine, titular quotes, mad love, and torture gear. Though not a full-on, proper adaptation of the famed poem, great shadows, interiors, organ music, furs, fedoras, and screams accent the obsessed with Poe layers and madcap style. A large ensemble can make it tough to tell who is who, and we don’t see much of the Poe-esque devices or their violence compared to the torture porn we expect today. However, the time here is steeped in an entertaining interwar gothic atmosphere – the wild contraptions are fun yet there are poignant moments and comeuppance amid the haunted house attraction mayhem. Edgar aficionados and fans of the cast will enjoy the uncanny charm here.
Spirits of the Dead – I’m not really a Jane Fonda fan, but she looks superb in this colorful 1968 Italian anthology with designs from Edgar Allan Poe. Perfect locales, music, horses, castles, and foggy coasts set an ethereal, dreamy mood for the first tale here. The period costumes and sixties fusion might be a bit too Barbarella, and some will be put off by the spoken French and reading subtitles. Yet Fonda fans will enjoy the suggested kinky and ménage taunts- even if it’s her brother Peter (Easy Rider) sparking the obsessions. ‘Metzengerstein’ is more sauce than scares, but it might have made a nice fantasy movie by itself. By contrast, ‘William Wilson’ adds Italian occupation and religious motifs for the second installment. Iffy kid acting, look a likes, and flashbacks can be confusing to start and some of the butchery won’t be for everyone. However great fashions, sweet cadavers, autopsy educations, and historical brutalities are scary good- not to mention a dark-haired, poker playing Brigitte Bardot (And God Created Woman) to keep the questions on one’s conscious and duality from getting too dry. Terrence Stamp (Billy Budd) is a wonderful drunkard in the almost too trippy ‘Toby Dammit’ finale, but cool Roman amusement, bizarre locations, and weird play within a play production keep the plot from being too nonsensical. Though the final ten minutes get tough, the well-edited and intense driving scenes make for a fitting overall conclusion. Not all will enjoy the near-psychedelic period and foreign sensibilities, but this is some twisted fun for fans of the players and all involved.
Tale of a Vampire – A delicious Julian Sands (Warlock, people, Warlock) leads this 1992 brooding character study brimming with “Annabel Lee” and Poe references to match the bleak back alleys, dark morgues, abandoned blue buildings, and dreary British mood. Despite the underlying urge to bite, predatory love, black cats, creepy vampire beds, and sucking on some bloody fingers, this isn’t a gorefest thanks to multilayered social awkwardness, melancholy, loss, and conflict. This lovelorn vampire spends his time in the rare books section of a sweet old library – you use that card catalog! The plot is unfortunately very slow, the isolated characters have no sounding board, and confusing flashbacks of lookalike women and lost bliss don’t explain much. The centuries ago golden patinas are well shot, however the uneven pacing and flawed constructs interfere with the storytelling. We should have seen the past to start, using that previous to accent the current torment and slightly unreal, demented fairy tale tone. Why is the audience more sad than creeped by this thirsty stalker? Fine performances carry the drama once the characters actually interact by quoting history and poets in insightful two-handers. “’Tis better to have loved and lost” and all that. Lighting and shadow schemes add to the mysterious rivals, for good love or ill pain possibilities, and strange seductions. Can it really be love if a vampire’s idea of romance is to consume the life of his lover? It’s oddly pleasing to see this kind of twisted vampire bite symbolism rather than teenage moon eyes, and this simmer builds to a fine finale with some interesting surprises. While not scary, the Gothic romanticism and Victorian waxing on forever and death not being the end of love provide a solid helping of morbid and memento mori.
Our featured author for episode 134 of the Horror Addicts Podcast is Loren Rhoads. Loren had an article in Horror Addicts Guide To Life and has written guest blogs for our blog in the past. Recently we asked Loren a few questions about her writing:
What is your story for episode 134 about?
It comes from my book Lost Angels, which came out earlier this year. The succubus Lorelei sees an angel in her boss’s dance club. She pursues Azaziel, who inflicts a mortal girl’s soul on her. Lorelei has to survive Hell’s attacks long enough to find a fallen priest who can exorcise the mortal soul from her infernal body. The scene I’m reading for the podcast takes place after Lorelei is possessed, when she’s trying to make an alliance with a fiend to protect her until the exorcism.
When did you start writing?
I started writing stories down in junior high, after I discovered the work of Edgar Allan Poe. My family visited the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia – and Poe’s dorm room at the University of Virginia – and I realized that he was a real person who wrote real stories. I’m not sure what I thought created books before that, except that they seemed fully formed objects without humans attached. Once I figured out that people wrote stories, I wanted to do it too.
What are your favorite topics to write about?
That’s a hard question. Last year I wrote a space opera trilogy. This year, I’m completing a series about angels and devils in the real world. Next, I’m going to finish a book about a witch doing everything she can to prevent the death of someone she loves. I’ve written a lot of stories about Alondra’s adventures, which have appeared recently in the books Fright Mare: Women Write Horror and nEvermore!: Tales of Murder, Mystery, and the Macabre. One of my Alondra stories will appear in Best New Horror in 2017.
I guess my favorite topics are women, because I find the ways they think and interact with the world fascinating. I’m also interested in love, what it is and how it is used. And I’m interested in traveling, how being out of your familiar space shows you who you really are.
Who or what inspires you?
Strangely enough, I find a lot of inspiration on Facebook. I’m curious every morning to see what we will be angry about each day. All kidding aside, I’m glad to see the discussions of racism and sexism and how people grapple with those issues. We’re in a place now where people feel they can speak out, which I think is amazing. Of course there is a lot of turmoil, but it’s leading to growth. I find it all riveting: challenging, but ultimately positive. My stories are my attempts to add to those conversations.
What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?
I’m glad to see so many women bringing their stories to the genre now. When I was growing up, it was all King, Straub, Streiber, then Clive Barker. The only well-known woman at the time was Anne Rice, but her vampire books weren’t considered “real” horror. Now we have Gemma Files and Caitlin Kiernan and Dana Fredsti, Maria Alexander and Lisa Lane and Eden Royce … more women than I can name in a paragraph. No one can deny that they are writing real horror, whatever that means. And they are all writing such different stories. I can’t wait to discover more of it.
Could you tell us about the As Above, So Below series?
Originally Lost Angels and Angelus Rose were one massive novel. No one would publish it at that length, so I split it into two books. Black Bed Sheet Books originally published the first book in 2013 as As Above, So Below. When the rights came back, Brian and I decided that it was time to publish the second – more apocalyptic – half of the story. Angelus Rose will be coming out on Automatism Press in November 2016.
Could you tell us about your nonfiction writing?
In my not-so-secret other life, I write about visiting graveyards. As I travel, I always stop into local cemeteries to see how they reflect the cultures that surround them, what’s different and what is similar from place to place. I always like to grab a little peace when I travel, so a graveyard is the perfect place.
In August, my parents took me to the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario to see a couple of plays. I snuck off one morning to see St. Mark’s Churchyard, which predates the War of 1812. One of the large flat grave markers is all gouged up. Apparently, when the church served as a hospital during the War, that gravestone was where the surgeons performed amputations. The marks of their cleavers striking off limbs is still visible, two centuries later. Great story, right?
At the moment, I’m publishing other people’s stories on my Cemetery Travel blog. The goal is to gather a collection of them to be published as Death’s Garden Revisited. I encourage anyone who has had something special happen to them in a graveyard – whether they took a date there or visited the grave of someone meaningful or stopped in while they were on vacation – to get in touch with me at cemetarytravel.com. The call for submissions is here: https://cemeterytravel.com/deaths-garden-call-for-submissions/.
What are some of the other books you have available?
The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes, my space opera trilogy, have been accused of bringing grimdark to outer space. The books are about surviving in the galaxy after humanity started – and lost – an interstellar war. They’re available in paperback, as ebooks, or as audiobooks.
My collection of cemetery travel essays, Wish You Were Here, collects my stories from Morbid Curiosity magazine, my cemetery column at Gothic.Net, and from various literary magazines. The essays range from London to Paris to Prague to Rome and Tokyo, then across the US from Boston to Maui. A new edition of the book will be coming out from Automatism Press early next year, but for now, the book is still available from Western Legends Press.
Back in the misty past, I edited a magazine called Morbid Curiosity. It published confessional nonfiction essays about all kinds of things, from adventures in modern medicine to grim travel destinations to encounters with serial killers and much, much more. A collection of my favorite pieces from the zine came out as Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual. It’s available online as an ebook, but I still have some copies of it in paperback.
Where can we find you online?
My homepage: www.lorenrhoads.com
My blog: www.lorenrhoads.com/blog
The As Above page: http://lorenrhoads.com/writing/as-above-so-below/
Cemetery Travel: https://cemeterytravel.com/
Horroraddicts.net Publishing has recently published our 4th anthology called Once Upon a Scream. Remember the Fairy tales that you grew up reading? Well, they are back again with a horror twist. Once Upon a Scream includes 18 tales that are fantastic and frightful. One of the authors in this anthology is Nickie Jamison and recently she talked to us about her writing:
What is your story in Once Upon A Scream called and what is it about?
What inspired the idea?
My inspiration came from music. The idea came to me during a Valentine Wolfe concert at ConCarolinas. The band was promoting their newest album and the song Twisted Melody resonated with me and became my twisted fairy tale.
When did you start writing?
I don’t remember a time in my life that I was never making up and telling stories. My Barbies and other toys all had complicated and amazing backstories. The first story that I put to pen and paper was during 5th grade. It was a horror story that got me into trouble…apparently you’re not supposed to write about blood, guts, gore, dismemberment, and other gross things when you are a student at a private Conservative Christian Academy. Who knew? *shrug*
What are your favorite topics to write about?
I don’t think that I have a favored topic, I tend to write whatever madness is going through my mind at the present moment.
What are some of your influences?
I saw an R.L. Stine Fear Street novel in the Dollar Tree the other day and almost cried. Stine, Christopher Pike, Ann M. Martin, and I can name author’s ad nauseum, but my greatest influence is my dad. No one told him you aren’t supposed to read the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott FitzGerald, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ernest Hemingway, H.G. Wells, and Stephen King or Stephen Hawking to your kid as a bedtime story. I think I just broke my ad nauseum rule…oops.
What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?
I’m fascinated by the types of fear that can be explored. You’ve got your good ol’ jump scare, but you can also play with the deep rooted fears and phobias.
What are some of the works you have available?
Where can we find you online?
Tomb of Ligeia and An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe Surprisingly Good
Several months ago, I saw an interview with Cassandra Peterson-aka Elvira-discussing Tomb of Ligeia, one of her favorites in the American Pictures International’s Poe series by director Roger Corman. Unfortunately, for the life of me I couldn’t recall having seen this final adaptation starring Vincent Price. When the 1969 film came on out on a double billed DVD with An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, I gave the set my full attention. Perhaps it’s not a total shocker since I like the rest of Corman’s Poe series, but Tomb of Ligeia and An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe are surprisingly good.
Verden Fell (Price) vows that his late wife Ligeia (Elizabeth Shepherd) will defy death. He becomes reclusive and keeps away from sunlight with his dark colored glasses-until the beautiful Rowena (also Shepherd) erroneously comes to his ruined abbey. The couple falls in love, despite Rowena’s previous attachment to Verden’s friend Christopher (John Westbrook). They marry, but Rowena is ill at ease in Ligeia’s former home. Ligeia’s Egyptian antiques are everywhere; her spirit seems to linger over Verden during the night, and there’s a nasty black cat about that makes her displeasure known.
Director Roger Corman (House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum) takes a few departures from his earlier Poe films by brightening up Tomb of Ligeia with natural locations and a little more romance than usual. Adapted by Robert Towne (Shampoo, Chinatown, Tequila Sunrise) from Poe’s short story, the analysis of mind and will power over death itself weaves the film together with ancient Egyptian allusions and plenty of ambiguity towards black cats. Each plot resolves satisfactory, but Poe’s twists and Corman’s interpretations leave the viewing thinking longer than prior pure shock conclusions.
Even though this is the last of the Poe pictures, Vincent Price looks younger here. His Verden is a little more sympathetic than his earlier, often evil roles. Not only is Price not as over the top as we love, but he’s actually sad sometimes, even pathetic with his dependence on his little glasses. But of course, Tomb of Ligeia does have the bizarrity we’d expect, including some ambiguity about necrophilia. Ew! Thankfully, Price looks good with Elizabeth Shepherd (Bleak House, Side Effects, Damien: Omen II). Any age difference doesn’t seem to factor in; they match well, and have nice, genuine chemistry. The more romantic tone between Verden and Rowena isn’t so tough to believe amid the scares. Nice as it is to have the sweet emotion amid the creeps; Shepherd is freaky in the duel bits as Ligeia. It’s obvious it is she, of course, but the showdown with Ligeia and the dream sequence with the ladies are well done. John Westbrook’s (The First Churchills) Christopher is in the odd middleman position in this love triangle, but his outside, sane perspective helps the audience balance out some of the horrors.
While not as stylized as its Poe predecessor The Masque of the Red Death, Tomb of Ligeia has some beautiful natural locals and production. There’s a hefty amount of daylight scenes here-and they all work in the spooky, gothic, Early Victorian setting. There are some great ruined abbeys, the English countryside, and even a romantic stroll through Stonehenge. You might think these pieces don’t go together, but the morbid set interiors match the abbey in gothic look and spooky tone. The Victorian costumes are also early in style, alluding to a bit of the Bronte Sisters, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre. And of course, there’s a very disturbing classic Corman dream sequence that scares better than some of the stranger, more bizarre visual dream trickery previously done.
Side B of our set offers more Vincent Price in a one-man show called An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe. Price showcases four tales from Poe in various stage settings, beginning with “The Tell Tale Heart.” I imagine you’re familiar with the tale, and Price is delightfully over the top here. His crazed style suits the story. The production here looks a little low and bare, but theatre fans can certainly enjoy this spirited Poe dramatization. “The Sphinx” is actually a Poe story that’s new to me. Price changes his looks and time period for each tale, strengthening his suave approach to the audience. He is clearly enjoying the punch line here, and this tale is better dressed than “The Tell Tale Heart.” Some might think a one-man production is stale and boring, but swift camera movement keeps things fresh. Not the crazy angles and dizzying modern zooms, but there’s just enough cuts and close ups to create the illusions needed.
So, that’s how “The Cask of Amontillado” is pronounced! I was never quite sure. The older Price is made up even older here for this unusual interpretation. You’d expect to see this one played out, not in effect told as perhaps “The Tell-Tale Heart” can only be. Price, however, does the voices of both men involved, playing on the amusement of the story and the unreliable status of the narrator. The camera again moves with him, cutting from several sides and using duel tricks almost like Gollum and Smeagol in The Two Towers. It’s a simple maneuver, but it works with the very handsomely dressed dining room stage.
It’s strange that director Kenneth Johnson (V, Alien Nation) would do “The Pit and the Pendulum” here in 1972 when Roger Corman did the feature length film ten years earlier. Nevertheless, Price looks the old and crazy part. Each tale has progressed his age, the time period, and the story’s deceit. This short here is more abstract and dream like than Corman’s back story filled movie. The fire and brimstone effects in this Pit go for more frights rather than a Twilight Zone twist ending. You would think Vincent Price effectively reading books line for line onscreen would be boring, but no. The stories dramatized in these readings are all told in the past tense with Poe’s great unreliable narrator telling his askew interpretation to the audience. Even though it may look old or too theatre to modern audiences, An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe is perfect for Vincent Price fans, film students, or literature teachers looking for a short and sweet visual accompaniment for the classroom.
The DVD set of Tomb of Ligeia and An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe is relatively simplistic, with only a commentary of Roger Corman and Elizabeth Shepherd. It’s a little slow in pacing, but fun and informative for the die-hard fan. The subtitles for Ligeia are great, too. Fans of the previous Poe pictures or sixties horror films can enjoy Tomb of Ligeia, but period piece and gothic fans should tune in, too. However, hardcore viewers looking for a blood fest and straight horror should skip these stylized tales. Likewise, I also don’t know about cat lovers enjoying Tomb of Ligeia. Feline folks will delight in the pesky cat scenarios, but cat enthusiasts won’t like some of the black cat bashing, either. Ah, it’s the beauty of Poe, something for everyone!
We’ve all seen horror on the big screen but have you ever seen a live Victorian Horror show? I recently had a chance to interview John DiDonna, the creator of Phantasmagoria Orlando who has been bringing live horror to audiences for seven years.
What is Phantasmagoria?
So many words to describe. . . it is a Whimsically Macabre Victorian Horror Circus! We bring stories of horror to life in “Phantastical” dance, live music, explosive stage combat, large scale puppetry and enthralling storytelling! It has also been described by many as a “Graphic Novel come to life!”
What is the legend behind Phantasmagoria?
The legend goes back to the ancient storytellers of Greece who wandered the countryside, . . never knowing that they were immortals born of the story. They wandered alone, till one day two came upon each other and they realized they were a race differing from mortal humans, and they travel through the centuries finding each other, and bringing the stories to horrific life!
When did Phantasmagoria start?
shows each year, and eventually to a 12 month a year ongoing theater troupe!
What was the inspiration behind it?
I have spent my entire life loving horror, but most especially literary horror. The dread of Edgar Allan Poe and gothic writers who brought these stories to feverous minds.
What were some of your past performances?
We have performed our large mainstage show for the entire month of October for the last seven years at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Over that time we have performed close to 60 stories of the macabre, all culled from literary horror, mythology, legend and folklore (all adapted from the public domain into our own style of storytelling) With that we also have two touring shows, and a myriad of special event style shows that we perform 12 months a year that range from fire performance, to dance, to storytelling to even children’s shows of the whimsically macabre.
How long does it take to put a performance together, including set design, writing of the script and finding the right actors?
Oh my. . . for the script? About a year of research, story reading, inspiration, adaptation, edits, etc. Then for rehearsals about 2 – 3 months for developing a mainstage show. The puppets are the big design element, sometimes as large as 20’ long and 14’ high.
The troupe itself is ongoing so the actors are already here for the most part, though we add new people through our yearly auditions.
What do you look for when someone wants to be a part of your organization?
How many performances do you put on per year?
Between mainstage and special event/appearances probably topping 50 at this point in time!
When is your next performance?
Coming up we have our touring show “Wicked Little Tales” in Baltimore, Maryland from March 17 – 20th, then we perform a series of mini shows upon our return, and then our second touring show opens for the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival in May 2016. The summer is filled with appearances and children’s shows, and then this fall we premiere Phantasmagoria VII “The Cards They Are Dealt” for the month of October!
What can people expect at the show?
To be enchanted, to be frightened, to be overwhelmed with all the senses. . . to become PART of the show as the audience IS the show, they share in these adventures with us, trapped as we are in the same room with
these stories. We have heard many a scream, many a gasp, many a laugh. . . and even some loving tears throughout the years.
What does Phantasmagoria have planned for the future?
To keep touring and growing! We have mini troupes planned now for further performances and we want to bring the stories to as many people around the globe as we can! We are experimenting with some interesting technologies right now too to bring that to the world through this little computer screen.
Check in with us at:
The Masque of The Red Death and The Premature Burial Make for a Spooky, Smart Double Feature
By Kristin Battestella
In my never-ending search for quality horror, I often turn to the classics. I was pleased to find that two of my favorites The Masque of Red Death and The Premature Burial were available on one DVD. Corman, Poe, Price- Horror Heaven!
Ruthless and satanic Prince Prospero (Price) takes crops from the local villages and burns those carrying the dreaded Red Death plague. He abducts the lovely, devout peasant girl Francesca (Jane Asher) and takes her back to his castle. Other nobles are also gathering at the castle under Prospero’s offer to wait out the Red Death with evenings of pleasure, masquerades, and debauchery. Part of his entertainment includes the diminutive Hop Toad (Skip Martin, Circus of Fear) and his little ballerina Esmeralda (Verina Greenlaw, The Six Wives of Henry VIII), but Prospero’s satanic mistress Juliana (Hazel Court) has no time for dances or Francesca-as she is preparing to become a bride of Satan. These demonic delights are all going to Prospero’s plans-until the Red Death incarnate crashes his decadent party.
As you can tell, I’ve seen my share of spooky flicks and Price pictures. Perhaps not as well known today, The Masque of The Red Death is my favorite of the Poe series from director Roger Corman. This 1964 treat has all the big budget looks one could ask for. It’s gothic, dark, demonic-yet the candle light, colors, and castle sets are a real treat. The costumes look perfectly medieval-the men as well as the ladies. I could say The Masque of The Red Death is a costumed, epic spectacle if not for the macabre subject matter.
Charles Beaumont (The Twilight Zone) and R. Wright Campbell (Man of a Thousand Faces) skillfully weave Poe’s tale of disease, death, and comeuppance with a touch from his lesser know ‘Hop-Frog’ tale and create a charming and yet dreadfully spooky movie. Poe is well known for his obsessions with death and burial, but the core of The Masque of The Red Death is unique. These prideful and gluttonous subjects fear death, sure-but that doesn’t stop their cruel and deceitful, devilish ways. Religion is only touched upon briefly, but the iconic notion of Death itself entering among the naughty and taking its tally strikes the audience on multiple levels. Do we really see Death when we are so close to it? Do we all walk such a finite yet intimate line with disease and punishment? Visually desensitizing, slash and sex and gore, modern horror can’t compare with Corman’s visual interpretations of Poe.
I know Vincent Price has a reputation for being over the top-as in The Pit and the Pendulum for example; but he’s relatively suave and subdued here. We’ve seen him in many periods and styles, but the outlandish hats, plumes, and color still look good on Price. He doesn’t seem out of place amid demonic castles and masked parties. We believe his Prospero is kinky, vicious, and deadly-but we’re awed when Death comes along and steals the show. Perhaps Price has more famous roles; but for my money, he is his best here. Likewise, Vincent’s vixens look devilishly good. Horror queen Hazel Court (The Curse of Frankenstein) shows her bosom and her satanic ways with a bizarre mix of charm and grace. We shouldn’t like the dark lady doing nasty rituals and marrying the devil, but Court’s beauty and ethereal style are delightful. Not to be outdone, angelic ex-Paul McCartney flame Jane Asher (Alfie, Crossroads) rivals Court with her white gowns and youthful devotion. We want her to keep her innocent naiveté, but we also don’t expect her righteousness to win out.
The Masque of The Red Death is a rarity in horror pictures because it achieves serious social commentary about the corrupt aristocracy, death, and how the evil get their due- all this along with plenty of scares and onscreen mayhem. Some might be offend by the devilish imagery, but horror fans and classic enthusiasts need to love this macabre, yet idealistic picture. Of course, 1962’s The Premature Burial is by no means merely the back end of a double bill. Technicalities at American International Pictures unfortunately leave us without our regular Poe man Vincent Price, and I think The Premature Burial is a little unloved because of this. However, Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell (The Man with the X-Ray Eyes) again craft an intellectual analysis from Poe’s tale of death and fear.
Guy Carrell (Ray Milland) fears his family history of catalepsy and builds a complex and technological tomb to prevent himself from being buried alive. His wife Emily (Hazel Court) and sister Kate (Heather Angel, Suspicion) disagree in how to support Guy’s fears, yet stop his building obsessions. Guy turns away from his involved tomb so Emily won’t leave him, but death and family history soon catch up to him.
More than a fine, if surprising, substitute, Oscar winner Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend, Markham, It Happens Every Spring) is delightful as the intelligent Victorian gentleman who becomes obsessed with being buried alive. His extreme, exhaustive precautions are understandable, logical, and well thought out; but somehow, we still know this is all askew, maniacal, and preposterous. Milland is quieter than Price, never quite boiling over as we expect him to. In away, his buttoned performance is bound, trapped inside the coffin Guy so desperately fears.
Once again, Hazel Court is lovely and charming as Guy’s ambiguous wife Emily. We believe she cares for Guy’s state of mind-and yet she’s too lovely and youthful to put up with his deadly ideas, isn’t she? The Premature Burial gives us more exceptional dresses-but this time we are bespectacled with hefty hoop skirts and Victorian delicacies. Though black and white, Corman gives us a fine production of mood and atmosphere. We don’t often see such proper costumes in a low-end horror picture, but all the creepy graveyards, fog, smoke, and mirrors make their presence known, too.
The Premature Burial is again a picture that might not be fore everyone. It’s slow, deliberate examination of death might be frustrating and too close to home for some. Even though we’re beyond the days of rampant plagues erroneously burying people alive and Victorian occultists trying to cheat death, this is still an understandable, real fear not so far removed from society’s psyche. Both The Masque of the Red Death and The Premature Burial serve up a fine cast, intelligent scripting, period piece atmospheres, and plenty of spooks. These flicks have plenty of old time scares, but nothing majorly offensive- unlike today’s sex and slash flicks.
The dual DVD of The Masque of the Red Death and The Premature Burial is affordable enough, but again a little old and a pain to flip. Thankfully, we’re treated to a few nice conversations with Roger Corman chatting about this pair of Poe pictures. Horror enthusiasts and classic film fans should adore these two complex, scary tales each and every year.
Franz Kafka, the New Jewish Cemetery, Prague, the Czech Republic
The most famous of the New Jewish Cemetery’s denizens is easy to find, thanks to good signage. Franz Kafka’s monument is a top-heavy six-sided obelisk made of pink-and-gray granite. He died in 1924 of tuberculosis, in agony from his hemorrhaging lungs. All of his novels remained incomplete and unpublished at the time of his death, so only a few friends mourned him. Kafka shares his grave with his mother and hated father. In fact, he predeceased them both. He’s commemorated as Dr. Franz Kafka, in deference to his law degree. An inscription on a marble plaque at the base of the monument remembers his three sisters, who vanished into the Nazi death camps.
Jack London, Jack London State Historic Park, Glen Ellen, California
Jack London was among the most widely read authors of his time. His short story “To Build a Fire” has scarred schoolchildren for almost a century. Four days after his death on November 22, 1916, Charmian London placed her husband’s ashes on a small rise behind the ruin of the house they had been building together in Northern California. She marked the grave only with a large lava rock from the Wolf House ruin. The boulder is strangely shaped: a weird, worn, organic form for a rock. Moss covers it like velvet, softening its broken edges.
H.P. Lovecraft, Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island
Lovely Swan Point’s most famous permanent resident is Howard Pillips Lovecraft. An obelisk labeled Phillips marks the plot belonging to Lovecraft’s grandparents. The back of it holds Lovecraft’s parents’ name and dates. At the bottom, he is remembered as Howard P. Lovecraft, “Their Son.” A smaller stone purchased by Dirk W. Mosig — the leading authority on Lovecraft in the Seventies — was unveiled during a small ceremony in 1977. The low granite marker spells out Howard Phillips Lovecraft, August 20, 1890 — March 15, 1938, with the epitaph, “I am Providence.” Those words came from a letter Lovecraft wrote to his Aunt Lillian, eventually published in 2000 in Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography in Letters, edited by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz.
Edgar Allan Poe, Westminster Hall Burying Ground, Baltimore, Maryland
Westminster Hall’s best-loved resident lies just inside the gates. A large monument marks the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, his wife Virginia, and her mother Maria Clemm. Poe was originally buried in 1849 the plot of his grandfather David Poe, elsewhere in the churchyard. His unkempt grave went unmarked for decades, despite several attempts to provide a suitable monument. Eventually, he was moved to this more prominent plot when his mother-in-law died in November 1875. It took 10 years before his wife was exhumed from her grave in New York and reburied in Baltimore beside him.
Loren Rhoads is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes, the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy published this year by Night Shade Books. She’s also the author of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. You can follow her morbid antics at http://lorenrhoads.com
“Wicked Lit is one of those amazing opportunities to feel the thrill of true fear, as if you were transported to another place and time… From the moment I arrived I knew this was going to be good; I had no idea it would leave me speechless!”
– Scary Horror News
“As good as any Broadway performance but with a much cooler setting.”
– Golden State Haunts
“UNBELIEVABLE! This is one of the best Halloween events I’ve ever been at!”
– Nightmarish Conjuring
“#omg that was the most insane #horror experience ever!”
For those of you looking for a kinder, gentler Wicked Litexperience – please check out THE LEGEND(S) OF SLEEPY HOLLOW at Chance Theater in Anaheim. This world premiere production is intended for youth and families and runs just 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Wicked Lit fans will recognize the first act of this play as our Sleepy Hollow from the 2009 and 2013 fall productions, but this play features an all new second act where audiences get the REAL story of what happened that fateful night in the graveyard as described by Gunpowder, Ichabod Crane’s horse!
Get $5 off any performance with code WICKED.
Or, save $10 on Opening Night:
Saturday, October 10 at 5pm.
Tickets at ChanceTheater.com
Garth Von Buchholz writes poetry and essays and has been featured on the Horror Addicts podcast before. For Horror Addicts Guide To Life Garth wrote two articles, One is called “Vincent and Me” which is about the time that Garth got to meet Vincent Price. The other one is called “How To Become An Immortalized Author Like Poe” where Garth gets into how you can become as well-known as Edgar Allan Poe. To read Garth’s articles along with several other articles on living the horror lifestyle, pick up a copy of Horror Addicts Guide To Life. Recently Garth was nice enough to tell us what he likes about horror:
What do you like about the horror genre?
I like how the core of the horror genre is metaphysical. Horror stories or films are modern myths about something that terrifies your very soul, and they may or may not involve actual violence and death. For example, to a person who is claustrophobic, being locked into a confined space is horrifying, even though that scenario may not end in their death. And there’s a difference between horror stories and real life horror. The tortures, rapes and beheadings in the Middle East right now are just horrible — brutal, tragic and inhuman — but they are not “horror stories” until they are mythologized, e.g. as a tale about how a spirit of evil is at work in our world.
Everything by Poe. He’s the master. And I’m a fan of William Peter Blatty (Bill, why haven’t you responded to my fan letter?). I love The Exorcist and Legion, the novel that the Exorcist III film was based on. You know, I met Linda Blair in person at a film festival and she looked great and was really cool. Also, I have mad love for another lesser known William Peter Blatty novel and film: The Ninth Configuration.
Although I’ve read many Stephen King novels, I’m a huge fan of The Stand, so I’m excited about the upcoming movie trilogy. As for TV, I’m not into zombies and The Walking Dead, but I’ve read and watched The Game of Thrones series, which has some chilling horror elements…dragons, torture chambers, whitewalkers. Okay, I guess the whitewalkers are zombies.
In what way do you live the horror lifestyle?
Horror Addicts Episode# 109
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Cancer Killing Gemini
Click to listen!
26 days till Halloween!
sumiko saulson, poe, strap on halo, house of usher
dream within a dream, edgar allan poe, the bells, phil ochs, costumes, edgar allan pie, master of macabre 2014 announced, writer’s workshop, band theme song contest, best band poll season 9, events, the black cat, poe, look back in horror, j. malcolm stewart, axes of evil, heavy metal anthology, eulogies 2, tales from the cellar, electric funeral, mark slade, darker edge of desire, gothic tales of romance, mitzi szereto, happiness and other diseases, devil-m, the antichrist, strap on halo, repentance, crystal connor, the sade cafe, c.a. milson, house of usher, poe, horror documentaries, anne rice, tell-tale heart, poe, dead mail, jack-o-lantern pizza, flesh burger, the walking dead, buried alive, the premature burial, end of the world radio, sumiko saulson.
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Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of culinary lore…
Egg nog, the quintessential holiday drink, made with eggs, cream, and copious amounts of booze, is essentially uncooked custard with alcohol. It has been said that the alcohol cooks the custard as well as the drinker. The question I decided to find the answer to was, can we leave most of the alcohol out and cook the egg nog as a custard?
The basic problem I faced was that, like many heirloom recipes,everyone has their own unique favorite egg nog recipe. Then I remembered one of my eclectic cookbooks, A Second Helping of Murder. In it, there is a wonderful egg nog recipe that was shared by Anne Poe Lehr, a distant cousin of Edgar Allan Poe. She contributed her family’s egg nog recipe that dates back to 1790. The original recipe consists of the following:
15 egg yolks
15 egg whites, beaten
2 cups sugar
A fifth of Napoleon Brandy
1/2 cup Jamaican Rum
1 pint whipped cream
1/2 cup cream
As our tarts are meant to be firm and not drinks, I decided to cut out the fifth of a gallon of brandy. I also divided the recipe roughly in half to make tarts or a single pie. Thus was Edgar Allan PIE born!
A nice tender pie crust is best. You could buy a pre-made crust rather than make it from scratch, however I am providing a recipe and instructions for making an easy hot water pie crust.
8 oz all-purpose flour or roughly 2 cups, but best to measure by weight
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter
3 oz lard or shortening
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz water
7 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup spiced rum
nutmeg, freshly grated on top
When it comes to the pie crust, I have always been a proponent of the 2:3 butter/lard combo. However, since this is a hot water crust, feel free to use all butter, all lard, or all shortening, if you like. Hot water crusts err on the tender side and not really flaky side, unless you fold in extra layers. Just remember, if you work a pie crust dough too much you end up with a tough crust. That makes kittens cry. Tragic.
If you choose not to include any alcohol at all, then replace the 1/4 cup of rum with a 1/4 cup of whole milk.
Another nice touch, especially this time of year, is to use Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of just nutmeg. I’m sure Edgar would approve.
Egg nog can become a very tasty custard, once the ratios are sure.
Will you wonder what to bake? Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”
I don’t consider myself to be a big music person but every once in a while I come across a musician that grabs my attention. Venus De Vilo is an artist that grabbed my attention. Venus is a rare bread, it’s not often that you find music that combines horror and comedy and can easily fits into genres such as goth rock, metal, acoustic rock and punk rock, but her music does just that.
Venus De Vilo was described as the love child of Marilyn Manson and Amanda Palmer by the Goth Alternative magazine The Bite. She has also been described as The Voice Of Horror and Queen Of The Pumpkin Patch. She lives in Dublin Ireland and performs ghoulish themed weird concerts in metal bars, rock bars, and in cabaret and burlesque shows.
Venus’s first EP was released on Halloween 2012 and called Edgar Allen Ho. It included songs such as The Heartless Horseman and Miss Frankenstein and was well received by fans of horror and dark music. Her next release was Til Death Do Us Part in 2013.This one had a good mix of hard rocking songs that you could dance to and acoustic versions of the same songs with creepy lyrics to boot.
Venus De Vilo’s latest EP came out earlier this year and is called Handle With Scare. When I first heard this EP it put a huge smile on my face. I enjoy music that has a rawness to it but also has a passion to it and its obvious Venus De Vilo puts a lot of passion into her work. Handle With Scare has a psychobilly sound to it with a great acoustic guitar work and awesome lyrics. Listening to it, I thought that the lyrics must have been hard to record. Venus has a great voice and easily hits high notes and can sing in a low voice as well. All three of Venus De Vilo’s EPs are available on Sound Cloud and are well worth your time. My thoughts on each track on Handle With Scare are listed below:
2. Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder: This one sounds like it would be hard to sing live but I’m sure Venus can pull it off. I have to describe this as a love song with a bizarre twist.
3. BubbleGlum! Venus shows she has a great sense of humor in this song. I love the lyric “Misery loves bubbleglum.”
4. Dead! Dead! Dead! Great vocal work in this song and the music made me thing a little of mariachi surf music if that makes sense. I can see this as a good dance song.
5. The Dead Don’t Dance. This is a slower song with great singing.I love the harmonies in it.
6. Personal Satan. I think this is the best one on Handle With Scare. I love the clapping in the song, this would be a great live track.
In the future Venus De Vilo plans on releasing a full length album, a book of poetry called Creepy Like Sunday Mourning and she also has a comic out based on Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. To find out more about her check out these links:
Horror Addicts Episode# 098
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Cancer Killing Gemini
196 days till Halloween!
mimi a. williams, endless sunder, jeremiah donaldson, sweeny todd, tales from the crypt
sweeny todd, tales from the crypt, best band poll, mrs. lovett’s pie, end of the world radio, dawn wood, endless sunder, fashion, cheap ebooks, night’s knights, lilith’s love, the vampire family, silhouette, the wickeds, horrible disasters, one hellacious halloween, cecil and bubba meet the thang, guy portman, edgar allan poe, erika henrike, bugs, jeremiah donaldson, events, dead mail, mimi a. williams
Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net
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If you like horror stories that are short and sweet you should check out Gothic Blue Book The Haunted Edition from Burial Day books . This is a collection of 12 short horror stories and two poems edited by Cynthia and Gerardo Pelayo. This anthology honors the gothic story and includes old ghost stories and tales of misery, fear, despair, regret and dread. This collection would make Edgar Allan Poe proud. Don’t expect a lot of happy endings in this book.
Gothic Blue Book: The Haunted Edition is a tribute to the Gothic blue Books that came out in the late 18th and 19th century. These books included several short stories and were between 36 and 72 pages long. They were very cheap and not well liked by literary critics; despite that they were very popular.
When I started reading Gothic Blue Book, I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but there were quite a few good stories in the book. The first story is a poem which sets the mood for the whole book. Its by Helena Marie Carnes Jeffries and called The Beach House. It describes the emotional state of a woman who has just found out her husband is cheating on her. The depressed woman is walking on a beach and sees a very familiar looking woman in an abandoned beach house. Thinking the woman needs help she decides to go inside but doesn’t like what she finds, but maybe it was what she was looking for. I loved how the woman’s thoughts we’re described in this poem and how well written it was.
Another good story in this anthology was The Tapping by John Everson. This one was about three men who make a bet on who can be the first one to retrieve a skeleton’s hand from a graveyard so they can use it in a prank. This story was the kind of story I love to read as a horror fan. The way the graveyard is described and the main character’s fear as he starts to think he is not alone in the crypt are what horror is all about. Three men in an old graveyard digging up corpses on a windy cold Halloween night in an attempt to scare a co worker. What can be more fun than that and of course nothing can go wrong when you disturb the dead. right?
Some other good stories in this collection include The Realtor, which tells the tale of a salesman trying to make a quota by creating a few urban legend. This one had me feeling sorry for the Realtor but also hoping his victim didn’t die. I also liked Where The Fault Lies by Greg Mollin and The Squatter by M.N. Hanson. Both are great ghost stories with very different moods and endings.
My favorite story in Gothic Blue Book was The Gravedigger by Cynthia Pelayo. It tells the story of a woman named Madeline who just doesn’t fit into society but tries to make everyone around her happy. When she finds out that someone has been using her, she decides to get her revenge by reenacting a death scene which is a tribute to a very famous horror author. Madeline is a character that if you’ve ever felt like an outsider you will be able to relate to and I would like to see some longer stories with her in it. I highly recommend Gothic Blue Book The Haunted Edition and you will find it for 99 cents on amazon. So what are you waiting for, go get it.
The next book I want to talk about is from Journalstone publishing called The Cemetery Club by JG Faherty. The story is about four 16 year old kids who hang out in the Cemetery and call themselves The Cemetery Club. One day they accidentally unleash an ancient evil in the form of small monsters that look like aliens on the small town of Rocky Point. These creatures are vicious and spread their evil by climbing inside people’s mouths and turning them into zombies. The four kids defeat the evil but one member of the club spends 20 years in an insane asylum while another becomes an alcoholic. Now 20 years later, the evil has returned and only The Cemetery Club can stop it.
While I really did enjoy this story I do have to say that most of what is written in The Cemetery Club has been done and redone in several other novels. One book it reminded me of was Stephen King’s It. Even though the story will seem familiar to you this book is still well worth your time. All of the action scenes are well done. I also loved how the cemetery is described and how the creatures are described. The atmosphere in this book is spooky and stories about evil in a small town just never gets old.
My favorite part of the story is how JG Faherty presents the relationship between the four members of The Cemetery Club. You get to know them as teenagers and then you get to see them become very different people as 36 year olds. Despite there different paths in life and the fact that they haven’t talked to each other in years when there is trouble you see them come together and show that they never stopped being friends despite the passage of time.
The character with the most interesting story in this book was Todd. The idea of him coming home after 20 years in the mental hospital and trying to lead a normal life appealed to me and I felt a lot of sympathy for him. I think JG Faherty was using Todd to make a point about how horribly people with mental health issues get treated. The author describes quite a bit of illegal testing on the mental hospital’s patients and makes a point about how horribly humans treat other humans. This sets The Cemetery Club apart from other novels with similar stories and makes it a great book.
For our Dark Love episode of Horror Addicts, I wanted to tell you a little about one of my favorite Edgar Allan Poe stories, The Oval Portrait. Now you may not have known this but the first publication of the story was an extended version titled, Life In Death. Life In Death first appeared in Graham’s Magazine in 1824. This version explained that the narrator had been injured in a run-in with bandits. It also went on to explain that he had taken opium to alleviate the pain. Some believe Poe removed the opening to keep readers from being under the impression that the story was all just a hallucination. The shortened, more popular version The Oval Portrait came out in 1845 in the Broadway Journal.
The story starts out with the narrator and his man servant, Pedro, breaking into a chateau for shelter. The narrator, whose name we are never told, is fascinated by the paintings on the walls. Later he finds a small book, on the pillow of his bed, filled with descriptions and criticisms. While reading the book in the candle light, he is startled to see an unbelievably life-like portrait in the room with him. He is so shocked he shuts his eyes to ensure they are not playing tricks on him. The narrator soon finds the story of the painting within the book, it is told as follows:
“She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee. And evil was the hour when she saw, and loved, and wedded the painter. He, passionate, studious, austere, and having already a bride in his Art; she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee; all light and smiles, and frolicsome as the young fawn; loving and cherishing all things; hating only the Art which was her rival; dreading only the pallet and brushes and other untoward instruments which deprived her of the countenance of her lover. It was thus a terrible thing for this lady to hear the painter speak of his desire to pourtray (sic.) even his young bride. But she was humble and obedient, and sat meekly for many weeks in the dark, high turret-chamber where the light dripped upon the pale canvas only from overhead. But he, the painter, took glory in his work, which went on from hour to hour, and from day to day. And be was a passionate, and wild, and moody man, who became lost in reveries; so that he would not see that the light which fell so ghastly in that lone turret withered the health and the spirits of his bride, who pined visibly to all but him.”
“Yet she smiled on and still on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the painter (who had high renown) took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and night to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and weak. And in sooth some who beheld the portrait spoke of its resemblance in low words, as of a mighty marvel, and a proof not less of the power of the painter than of his deep love for her whom he depicted so surpassingly well. But at length, as the labor drew nearer to its conclusion, there were admitted none into the turret; for the painter had grown wild with the ardor of his work, and turned his eyes from canvas merely, even to regard the countenance of his wife. And he would not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her who sate beside him.”
“And when many weeks bad passed, and but little remained to do, save one brush upon the mouth and one tint upon the eye, the spirit of the lady again flickered up as the flame within the socket of the lamp. And then the brush was given, and then the tint was placed; and, for one moment, the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought; but in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying with a loud voice, ‘This is indeed Life itself!’ turned suddenly to regard his beloved: — She was dead!”
This wicked love triangle causes the death of a young woman. The painter of The Oval Portrait was so in love with his painting that he gave it her life. And the wife, so in love with her husband, sits there diligently for him though it literally kills her.
I want to hear your opinions: How could she love a man like that? How could he not notice her illness? Was the painter mad? Or just obsessed? What caused the painting to steal her life away?
You can read The Oval Portrait online at this site: