The Revenge of Spooktober

Home sick today — turns out that two days out in the cold rain at KCRF isn’t conducive to one’s health.

The last bit of Spooktober viewing last week was Friday night, where Laura and I watched Count Dracula, the 1977 BBC miniseries, often touted as the most faithful adaptation of Stoker yet filmed.

It was pretty damned faithful, although seemingly arbitrary changes were made: Mina (Judi Bowker, who would make an impression on me 4 years later playing the Princess Andromeda in Clash of the Titans) and Lucy (Susan Penhaligon, who bears such a resemblance to Alicia Vikander that I had to do a double-take… check the pic, you see it, right?) were made sisters… and Arthur Holmwood, Lord Goldalming, is entirely removed from the narrative, yet his last name given the American, Quincey. (And the less said about Quincey’s accent, the better.)

Dracula is played with a feral grace and urbane intelligence by Louis Jourdan, in what is easily the best of the portrayals of the time — unlike Frank Langella, Jourdan actually managed to convey an otherworldly menace, a genuine threat.

As Laura remarked when we were watching, it also seems obvious now in retrospect how much of an influence this production had on Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, particularly in what scenes, often left out of adaptations, were included, and how they were staged.

Another thing I found remarkable — for a 1970s BBC production, at a time when self-appointed moral guardians were screeching about “video nasties”, Count Dracula was shockingly visceral. I was expecting something a bit more reserved. The staking sequences in particular were bloody and harrowing, with the vampires howling in agony as the claret gushed.

Really enjoyed this one. You can pick it up at the link above.

Spooktober II: Electric Boogaloo

So last night’s Spooktober viewing was NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF, a 1981 Spanish film whose original title was El Retorno Del Hombre-Lobo.

It’s one of Paul Naschy’s twelve-film series about the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. It’s only a “series” in the strictest sense — they’re largely unrelated films, all of which feature a 16th century Polish nobleman who’s been cursed to be an immortal werewolf. Each film pretty much stands alone, and this one, in fact, is a higher-budget remake of one of his earlier stories, 1970’s La Noche De Walpurgis (Walpurgis Night, known in the US as The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman, in which Daninsky combats the vampiric Elisabeth Bathory, who has returned from the beyond the grave to something something.

Gotta be real: NOT a good movie. There’s something about bad dubbing and Cinemax Bewbs that just makes even the most earnest attempt nearly unwatchable. But, it was a fun bit of horror-adventure-pulp, and really wasn’t trying to be more than that.

Spooktober, Part The First

Haven’t posted here since August. So much for the plan of “getting back into regular updates.” As always, when you make plans, God laughs. In my case, the past couple of months have been filled with tons of work getting the FAR WEST manuscript finalized and ready for layout, and then entering into a seven-days-a-week grind as Laura and I started our yearly gig running the shop for our artist friend Ruth Thompson out at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

Exhausted Gareth is exhausted.

But, it’s now October, and as is my habit, I’m spending the month watching horror movies at night. I’ll be doing a brief look at each of the films I watch, for those so interested.

After missing the first day, I doubled up on October 2nd for my Spooktober viewing. The night’s films: THE LEGACY (1978) and MR. FROST (1990).

THE LEGACY was… OK. Jimmy Sangster script & Richard Marquand directing, so I had high hopes. Mostly opportunities left unexploited, which was frustrating. (Charles Gray and Roger Daltrey completely under-used, for example). Oddly up-beat soundtrack, complete with Kiki Dee theme.

I’d seen MR. FROST before, once. It’s not a great movie by any stretch, but effectively creepy, with Jeff Goldblum at the height of sexy-devil-ness — and this former Catholic school kid always responds to good old-fashioned religious horror.

Last night’s Spooktober viewing: NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, the second of the two Dark Shadows films from the early 70s.

I’d seen the first (HOUSE OF…), which adapted the Barnabas Collins resurrection story, but hadn’t seen this yet. It adapts the Quentin Collins/Angelique story.

All in all, it’s a pretty solid gothic-romance ghost/possession story, with traces of Lovecraft’s “The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward.”

A nice way to wind down my days, and keep my observance of the Darkening of The Year. Feel free to stop by throughout the month and see what I’m watching.