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Showing posts from October, 2009

Man-Sized in Marble

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This excellent story by E. Nesbit can be heard for the next few days in dramatised form. Not bad. Also, it's set on Halloween.

Happy Halloween!

Skeleton Dance

Casting the Fun Runes

This young feller-me-lad from Down Under has probably never heard of M.R. James. But...

The Eye (original Hong Kong version)

When it comes to modern supernatural horror movies, East Asia has it over Hollywood. Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and - more recently - Thailand have all produced memorable examples of the ghostly film genre. One of my favourites is The Eye, which was made by the Pang brothers. It's a cracking story well told, and it's heart is in the right place. Good for Halloween - or any dark night. It's not visceral or especially disturbing, just spooky enough to keep you interested and complex enough to keep you guessing. There's a great twist, too. This scene isn't it...

Halloween Movies!

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If you're capable of renting a DVD for next Saturday, I have some suggestions. Do you? Let me know via this blogulatory device what you think a good Halloween movie would be. I'm going to get you started with a great favourite of mine, which remains rather obscure... Dracula - Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2002) 75 mins, Tartan DVD There have been so many versions of Dracula that it's surprising to find a new and rather 'arty' production to be one of the best. I rented it out of curiosity and then bought it in delight. The film is based on a work by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, but don't be put off by the B word - the film is essentially a silent movie with dance and music (apparently it's Mahler - I'm a bit philistine about this classical stuff). There are also some (often very funny) intertitles. (FLESHPOTS!) But we all know the story and the characters, don't we? So we can sit back and enjoy the virtuosity of the performers. The basic pl

An American Werewolf in London

This film has just gone on cinema release, apparently - a good move for Halloween. Radio 4 today (or yesterday) featured a good - if short - interview with director John Landis. It's here . One thing I learned - the silver bullet that an kill a werewolf? It was inserted into the legend simply because, while he was working on a script, writer Curt Siodmak happened to be listening to the Lone Ranger radio serial... Oh, and in AAWIL, I'd totally overlooked Rik Mayall in this scene, overshadowed as he is by Brian Glover.  

The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus

Review of Terry Gilliam's latest opus have been generally thumbs-down. Notable exceptions include the genre magazine SFX, which was quite thumbs-uppish about it all. And I suspect this is part of the problem. While Gilliam isn't a sci-fi or fantasy director as such, he does have a huge following among us nerds. The kind of people who can give a detailed synopsis of many Doctor Who stories or Star Trek episodes also tend to like Gilliam. This is both his glory and his curse, I suspect. The serious, arty film crowd don't quite trust Gilliam, for all his top-notch credentials. And perhaps they are right, as he doesn't seem to like them very much. In interviews he has rightly dismissed most CGI movies as boring and gimmicky, and questioned the prevailing habit of simply cobbling together bits of all your favourite movies in a sterile overblown homage. Taxi for Mr Tarantino. Anyway, what's it all about? One thing everyone knows is that Heath Ledger died in the making

Voting has already begun

Blimey, I've only just finished sending out ST16 this morning and already I've received two votes for best story. Not for the same story, either. So far comments about the mag have been very positive. Reader 'R' of Chester remarks: '... many thanks for ST 16, which contains much to enjoy. I liked pretty much all the stories, although I WOULD have been hard put to choose my favourite between Tina Rath's and Jane Jakeman's ("Adoptagrave"). I say WOULD because the decision was more or less taken out of my hands when I read Mike Chislett's tale. It's easily the best story in the issue and one of the best I've read anywhere in a while. I suspect from its placing at the end of the fiction part of ST that you feel the same. Mike is such an original talent (...) Oddly enough, "The Coast Guard" in its own way combines what I like about Tina's and Jane's tales - the slightly spooky whimsicality of the first, and the down

The Winter Ghosts

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A part of my rather odd day job is reviewing audio books. One of the latest releases I managed to listen to over the weekend was The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse . The unabridged reading is by Julian Rhind-Tutt, the floppy-haired one from Green Wing. It runs to 5 CDs and makes for quite an absorbing listen. This is my first encounter with Ms Mosse, but I'm informed that all of her books so far focus on France and its medieval history. The 'official' time period of the narrative, however, is between the two great wars of the last century. Freddie Watson's life stalled when his beloved older brother George died on the Somme in 1916. Freddie suffered a nervous breakdown, began to see George's 'ghost', and found himself unable to work or indeed do anything much. (He is one of those privately wealthy individuals who don't have to work - a standard 'between the wars' protagonist, in fact.) The first chapter of TWG is a neat exercise in foreshado

Supernatural Tales 16 is alive and well...

I am posting magazines out now. I will continue to do so while I have breath in my wizened frame. Contributors' copies may already have arrived, I'm that efficient. My aim is to have the mag to everyone before Hallowe'en. Need I say why? But I am compelled by family emergency to go away this weekend and there may be a postal strike by the end of next week! Will I get them all posted out in time? Stay tuned to this channel. But don't expect any more blog posts for a while because of the 'going away' thing. The end. Except for these edited highlights from the forthcoming ST movie:  

Congratulations to the Cardinal

Peterborough's leading poet, Cardinal Cox , has only gone and won the John Clare Trust Poetry Prize ! He was awarded this fabulous prize on National Poetry Day, last Thursday. There's even a press release that runs: 'The Cardinal has been having his verse published in the small-press for around twenty-five years. He was the chair of Peterborough SF Club through the nineteen-nineties. He was the Poet Laureate of Peterborough for 2003 and was Poet-in-Residence at Broadway Cemetery, also in Peterborough, from 2005 until 2008. He has twice been a runner-up in the Data Dump Award for Best British Published SF Poem and this year his pamphlets of his work included on given away at the steampunk convivial The Asylum held in Lincoln. The John Clare Trust manages the John Clare Cottage in Helpston and Cardinal Cox intends to use his year (until the final of the next competition) as a Poetry Ambassador for them.' Congratulations to the Cardinal. The Nobel beckons... And h

Le Fanu's 'Ghost of a Hand'

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The BBC is running some Classic Tales of Horror  this week. Among the authors are Kipling ('My Own True Ghost Story'), E.F. Benson ('Caterpillars') and Le Fanu. The latter crops up now and again on BBC 7. A rather good dramatisation of Uncle Silas has been run a couple of times at least. 'Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand' is not first-rate Le Fanu, but does have his trademark air of oddity coupled with authenticity. It's not clear what the hand is about, or why the house might be haunted. I'm also not clear whether we are supposed to regard the hand as truly supernatural, or might it be he work of a very mortal troublemaker? *Forgot to add, Friday's story is 'The Mezzotint', read by Robin Bailey.

Wot Larks, Pip

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Dearie me. The postal workers union has decided to hold a strike , in addition to the unofficial strikes that have already undermined the system. This is great fun, because the printer has just informed me that ST16 is winging its way to me right now. So, what do I do? Wait for the strike(s) to blow over, if they do? Post stuff out before the strike(s) and hope for the best? I'll have to ponder this one. If a lot of copies go astray I won't be able to replace them all, as I just don't have that many spares - can't afford 'em. But I don't want to lose readers. I suppose I could guarantee that people in the Tyneside area received their copies by hand delivering them. I have an A to Z.

Max Faversham - Demon Puncher

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The wacky comedy gang The Penny Dreadfuls do amusing stuff based around Victorian melodrama - a bit like Ripping Yarns for the 21st century. Anyway, their stories of the Brothers Faversham, each of whom has a special talent, continues with Maximilian, Victorian England's greatest writer of horror stories. The extracts from Max's books are hilarious, as are the details of Max's disastrous life. There's also a reference to owls, so be warned if you're phobic. More Penny Dreadfuls at their site here .

More Coffin Nails

I've been a good boy and read some more stories from John L. Probert's excellent collection Coffin Nails . 'The Ossuary' is a variation on that old (and rightly much-used) theme of 'someone visits a somewhat spooky place'. The idea of a house full of decoratively carved human bones is weird enough, and it's a tribute to the author's imagination that he manages to make the finale of his story as strange as its setting. That's followed by 'Final Act', with its combined themes of the spooky girlfriend - a very popular one, again - and love that endures beyond the grave. There's also a nod to a horror classic. One flaw, for me, is a central incident that leaves a character seriously disabled. It is based on a real-life event, but that is perhaps the problem - it doesn't quite fit and seems less probable, somehow, than the supernatural stuff. 'Between the Pipes' is very strange indeed. The central theme of someone using an evil

The Swan River Press

If I can work this infernal engine there should be an extra link over to the right, sending you to The Swan River Press. If you can't see it or indeed anything else on this site please let me know. I am using a new editing gizmo and am a bit worried that things may be going out of what. Anyway, there it is. Possibly.

My Aunt Margaret's Adventure

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Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu produced some of the best supernatural stories of the Victorian era. For my money 'Carmilla' is his best, but it is run pretty close by 'Green Tea', 'The Familiar' and 'Schalcken the Painter'. Le Fanu's lesser tales have - to some extent - ridden along on the coattails of these superb efforts. The same might be said of the lesser novels, which might not be available if it weren't for Uncle Silas. And of course there was the M.R. James' edited collection, Madame Crowl's Ghost, which must have brought thousands of new readers to Le Fanu. James collected stories that were (in his opinion) penned by Le Fanu but published anonymously. He specifically excluded 'My Aunt Margaret's Adventure' because - while Gothic enough - it doesn't have a ghostly theme. It is, however, a fairly Gothic tale of lost travellers, a spooky inn, and sinister doings at night. Brian J. Showers at Swan River Press is to be comp