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Archive for the ‘Macabre’ Category

Lily Wight

     John Polidori (1795 – 1821) is best remembered as Lord Byron’s travelling companion and personal physician but his short story, The Vampyre (1819) is the first significant vampire tale in English Literature, following on from Lady Caroline Lamb’s less revered Gothic Novel, Glenarvon (1816).

     The Vampyre is rather prosaic and melodramatic for modern tastes yet its brevity and vital role in vampire mythology make it an essential read.  The Vampyre himself, Lord Ruthven, is the original frilly-cuffed brooding immortal; a character endowed with the dangerous dilettantism associated with the Romantic writers and artists who, for many, have come to define the tastes, fashions and attitudes of the Georgian era.  Ruthven’s style of vampirism bridges the gap between the demons and monsters of folklore and the modern vampire anti-hero with his magnetic charisma and troubled conscience.  This new archetype was later perfected and explored by…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 20/05/2014

     It has two long years since Lily Wight brought you the very first images from Disney’s live action adaptation of Sleeping Beauty featuring Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, the baddest fairy of them all.

     Maleficent is due for release in UK cinemas on 28th May.  Here is the latest trailer and a peek behind the scenes while you wait…

     Click here for more new on set pictures 🙂

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Lily Wight

     Updated 28/01/2014

     It’s almost a decade since Stephenie Meyer’s first Twilight novel was published and here is the last review of our four book retrospective…

     Breaking Dawn is undoubtedly the most mature and entertaining book in the series with more incident, action and horror than all the previous volumes put together.

     Discerning fans might try to excuse, scan or simply ignore Edward and Bella’s nauseating honeymoon and enjoy instead Jacob’s first person narration of the birth of their monster offspring.

     The Twililght Series has always tended to be a little tame and anaemic but by introducing that classic horror staple – the “demon-child” – Meyer invigorates the tale creating, arguably, a better starting-point for the entire series.

     Unfortunately Meyer bungles the ending by rushing the introductions to an influx of interesting new characters and…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 25/01/2014

     We’re three books – and three reviews in – yet The Twilight Saga refuses staunchly to improve or evolve as its little flashes of brilliance are swamped with so much melodramatic waffle.

     Stephenie Meyer obviously missed the writer’s workshop on “show, don’t tell” because those pages of circular dialogue do not equal plot momentum.

     An inspired chapter on Quileute folklore provides too brief a respite and elevation by delivering a tantalising glimpse into a better book that never was.  More of this and less of Bella might have given the saga more depth to match its breadth.

     Meyer has an unfortunate habit of disappointing readers with ideas and plot-strands which fail to flourish.  She denies Bella the opportunity to embrace the fate of The Third Wife thus denying Eclipse…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 11/01/2014

     It is almost a decade since Stephenie Meyer’s genre-busting archetype-twisting début novel Twilight was published.  Now that this much-loved yet contentious saga is definitely over and RPatz and KStew have gone their separate ways (or have they?) perhaps it is time for a reassessment.

     Fans of hardcore horror and esoteric gothicism will feel vaguely violated by this dilution of Vampire Mythology for the Young Adult market but Twilight heroine, Bella Swan is as clingy as a Spider Monkey 😉

     Unfortunately Twilight’s magnificent PR campaign will forever be superior to its subject and style – melodramatic teen diary destined to alienate literary-minded adults.  It also commits the unfortunate crime of being a mere introduction to better things to come.

     Heroine Bella details her chores one minute and snipes about her perfectly nice and…

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     Perhaps you missed The Mist?  Frank Darabont works his magic on another Stephen King novel with a couple of appearances from The Walking Dead cast.  A new 10 part TV series based on The Mist has just been announced so catch-up now.  It’s more than worth a watch for that ending…

     There’s a great movie you might have missed every month at Lily Wight ~ The Arcade of Arts & Arcana!

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     Updated 23/10/2014

     Samhain – pronounced “sow – inn” and known presently as Halloween – is celebrated from sunset to sunset on 31st October to 1st November.  It is the most important Fire Festival or Sabbat on the ancient Wheel of The Year calendar.

     “Samhain” has been variously translated as “first frost” or “Summer’s end”:  opposing suggestions with the same meaning.  It is the name for November in ancient and modern Gaelic.

     Samhain lies between The Autumn Equinox and The Winter Solstice.  It marks the death of the year and the end of the annual agricultural cycle.  Many ancient cultures throughout The Western Hemisphere regarded Samhain as their New Year’s Eve.

     Samhain is the third and final harvest on The Wheel of The Year calendar.  After Lughnasadh (grain and cereals) and Modron (fruit and vegetables) herding communities drove livestock back from Summer pasture to be housed or slaughtered for winter, furthering the festival’s associations with death.  The eighth century scholar, Bede refers to November as the “blood month”.

     According to ancient beliefs the mythic courtship of a god and goddess symbolised the eternal rotation of seasons.  At Samhain the Goddess, in her crone or hag aspect, midwifes the waning or sacrificed God into the Underworld where he will journey until his rebirth at Yule with the promise of Spring. 

     Crone Goddesses, such as Celtic Ceridwen and Greek Hecate, ease transitions and guard borders and crossroads.  They are keepers of arcane wisdom and herbal lore who are associated with broomsticks (for cleansing thresholds) and cauldrons (for brewing natural medicines).  Halloween “witches” are a modern remnant of this frequently misunderstood ancient archetype.

     Sexy Halloween witches owe their style to The Morrígan, the Gaelic Dark Mother or Raven Goddess  who presides over death and battle – akin to the Scandinavian Valkyries.  At Samhain The Morrígan mates with The Dagda (the Gaelic All-Father) to bring creation from chaos.

     Samhain is considered a liminal time; when the veil between the mortal and the preternatural realms – the living and the dead – is at its thinnest.  Ancestors are remembered and honoured with a variety of worldwide customs that continue to this day, such as the Mexican Dia de Los Meurtos or Day of The Dead.

     Costuming for Halloween is an ancient tradition with many possible origins and purposes.  Celebrants may have daubed themselves with ash from ritual bonfires or disguised themselves to confuse, deter or even consort with mischievous otherworldly creatures before parading from house to house to collect donations for the Samhain feast: the likely origin of trick or treating.

     It wouldn’t be Samhain without a pumpkin lantern.  The gourd was the first domesticated plant species and has been used for carving for thousands of years.  Pumpkin lamps were carved with fearsome faces as festival decorations; to light parades and repel unwelcome spirits.  Jack o’ Lantern was another name for will-o’-the-wisp; strange but naturally occurring flares of marsh gas.  Jack o’ Lantern evolved into a folkloric hero who tricks The Devil in a variety of tales.  Barred from the afterlife he roams the world forever, carrying a single ember from the fires of Hell in his pumpkin lamp.

 

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     Updated 16/10/2015

     The Bloody Red Baron (1995) is the second novel in Kim Newman’s superlative and ever-expanding Anno Dracula series.  Newman continues to weave effortlessly both history and fiction to conjure a world in which Dracula – formerly wed to Queen Victoria – has joined forces with The Kaiser to bring terror to Europe.

     The shift in time and tone may surprise some readers expecting more of the first book’s Victorian gothic.  Book two is a World War I novel that successfully captures the tropes of military fiction whilst broadening its appeal with genre-mashing wit and just the right amount of girl power so you won’t miss those smog bound cobbled streets whatsoever.

     A running theme of genetic experimentation and weird science ensures that the series becomes increasingly pertinent and there is plenty of action too as Newman’s cinematic prose turns aerial dogfights into something captivating and unique.  Have you shelved your old copies of Twilight yet?

Next Post – Book 3: Dracula Cha Cha Cha

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Anno Dracula Book 1

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     It is only the snow and not the vampires that glitter in this must-see Scandinavian horror gem.  No, we’re not talking about Let The Right One In – the thinking vamp-groupie’s vamp movie – but Anders Banke’s Frostbite (2006) known intermittently as Frostbitten (and Frostbiten in Swedish) just to add a little confusion.

     This is what happens when you drop old school scary bloodsuckers into a town of restless youths enduring 24/7 darkness.  Check out the trailer and line-up a full viewing for Halloween.

There’s a great movie you might have missed every month at Lily Wight ~ The Arcade of Arts & Arcana.

Next Post 10/10/13 (18.00 BST) ~ Discover the best vampire novel in three decades!

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     It’s French, its animated and it’s black and white.  The unforgettable Fear(s) Of The Dark (2007) is also this month’s Movie You Might Have Missed…

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     The Death Note franchise started out as a Japanese manga series in 2003 and has since evolved into an anime TV show and a trilogy of live-action movies inspiring soundtrack albums, video games and spin-off novels.

     Director Shane Black, adored once more after the success of Iron Man 3, is still hoping to direct an english language version of this beloved cult supernatural thriller.  In the meantime you can watch the first live-action installment right here right now – prepare to become a fan…

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     No, not the one with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton but this rather more magical Korean twist on a classic Fairy Tale…

     There’s a great movie you might have missed every month at Lily Wight ~ The Arcade Of Arts & Arcana.  Catch-up with what you’ve missed and subscribe (see the sidebar) to make sure you see them all ~

The Librarian

Virgin Territory

Lotte Reiniger’s Fairy Tales

Azur And Asmar: The Princes Quest

Immortal

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     Updated 15/01/2015

     Vampire: The Masquerade‘s role-playing world offers plenty of intrigue and diversity but the chronological re-editing of multiple novels tends to mar an otherwise engrossing series.

     Vampire Hesha’s story is over-written and uneventful yet it dominates this second collection whilst the laboured build-up to major events causes structural shortcomings.

     With future volumes offering more conclusions and twists this is still a series worth sticking with and a great introduction to the realm of role-playing games.

     Click here for a review of Volume One 🙂

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     Updated 09/01/2015

     Every vampire fan should be well aware of White Wolf’s seminal role-playing game system, Vampire; which effectively collates and categorizes every bit of vampire lore and literature up to and including the work of Anne Rice.

     This book owns a hefty title – and well it might – as it boasts a doorstop-sized collection of spin-off novels and associated writings, re-edited chronologically into a complex and epic drama.

     With numerous authors at work there is some jarring in the narrative style and the structure suffers, albeit necessarily for the books conceit.  Certain events are needlessly re-played from different characters’ perspectives without providing extra insight whilst dramatic tension is often lost when chronology forces precedence over plot.

     There is however so much going on that new readers of all tastes are bound to find something to engage them and for fans and completists The Clan Saga makes an engaging curio, a bold editing achievement and a broad introduction to White Wolf’s inescapable influence on the Vampire genre.

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     Updated 16/09/2014

     The episodic structure and super simple YA-style prose mire a book worth reading for its genius premise: pensioners battling the supernatural in UK Goth Capital, Whitby.

     Magrs inventively homages all the genre classics with warmth and wit whilst Brenda and Effie disguise cracks in an episodic narrative with the sheer force of their personalities.  Two great roles for Dames Judi Dench and Helen Mirren perhaps 🙂

     A silly, frothy yarn perfect for Sunday tea time telly.

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     Updated 09/09/2014 

    H.P. Lovecraft’s longform novel makes a fine introduction to the author’s original mythos and recurring themes but, like Poe before him, the style and structure of his weird tales has not aged well and demands patience from modern readers.

     The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward reads much like a dry historical legal document and Lovecraft’s obsession with architecture is interesting but not thrilling.  The lazy dénouement owes much to Dracula – and vampire fans might catch the name “Ferenczy”: a major player in Brian Lumley’s superb Necroscope series.

     Lovecraft’s short fiction is far more satisfying but completists and occultists will love this nonetheless.

     View a trailer for The Resurrected (adapted from The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward)…

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     Updated 21/08/2014 

     Kim Newman’s Glastonbury set tale of a year 2000 millenium apocalypse may have passed its sell by date (without incident) yet still offers a gorily fun interpretation of The Book of Revelations for horror fans who enjoy the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert and Brian Lumley.

     There is a comfortable soap-opera quality to the slow-burn character-building of colourful locals and visitors but, in the final act, as chaos descends, the diversity of their living nightmares causes a loss of focus.

     Some of the sexual-horror is just plain nasty and there is a missed opportunity to explore the dynamics of cult religions with more intelligent depth.

     As an entry into the sub-genre of supernaturals versus psychic spies it makes a sufficiently fun but hardly a life-changing read.

     Newman can do better.

     Click the smiley to find out where 🙂

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     It’s October, Blogsprites!  The Witching Month.  The season of Samhain (that’s sow – inn to non-Celts) or Halloween!

     All this month Lily Wight ~ The Arcade Of Arts & Arcana will be dedicated to things Gothic, Supernatural and generally pant-wetting so grab your favourite comfort-cushion and join me behind the settee.

     Art, books and movies will be here as usual, I may just get around to posting that Autumn Equinox Tarot spread and I’ve got 7 lovely Kreativ Blogger Awards to give away.

     Keep following, keep sharing and look me up on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for blog post notifications and extra trick or treat goodies xxx

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Hello Blogsprites,

     if you have been having trouble viewing the movie trailer in the previous post things should be up and running now so just head to the homepage or click this link for Heart String Marionette (Warning ~ Adult Content).

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     Updated 22/07/2014

     Billy Majestic’s arresting Graphic Novel, Humpty Dumpty is a Science Fiction/Horror yarn and definitely not recommended for children.

     Vivid colours and smooth digital blending achieve a film-like look; entirely appropriate for a snappy origin tale which plays like a movie storyboard and makes no qualms about its B-Movie intentions.

     Redneck grotesques, small-town cops and ethereal aliens provide familiarity whilst the titular Humpty is an atrocity to remind you of the heyday of direct-to-video prosthetic horrors.  Humpty’s conception and birth stray into uncomfortable exploitation territory but once the monster madness is underway sequels seem both likely and gory good fun.

     For more unique images follow the link to The Gallery.

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     Audrey Niffenegger, best known as the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, spins a macabre yet enchanting novel in pictures.

     The Adventuress, an ethereal yet tenacious heroine, is created by an alchemist, has a love affair with Napoleon and gives birth to a cat in a quest of Fairy Tale subversions and surreal post-feminism.

     The text may tell us of wedding revelry and honeymoons but the fragile images betray subjugation and abuse as The Adventuress is repeatedly betrayed by the promises of love and motherhood.  This is a story in which transformation can lead to madness and happy-ever-afters may only be attained through cleansing fire or the release of death.

     Niffenegger’s images combine the uncanny distortions of German Expressionist cinema with  a sketchiness which invites universal interpretations.

     A truly beautiful, unique and inspiring work.

     < Click the pic for a book you might like.

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     Updated 14/06/2014

     It takes a writer as bold as Game of Throne’s George R.R. Martin to pen a Southern Gothic vampire novel just three years after the publication of Anne Rice’s genre-bending Interview With The Vampire.

     Martin’s Fevre Dream includes plenty of Rice’s familiar tropes – such as setting, era and two bickering immortal dandies – but Fevre Dream has less romance and more grit, as though two writers used the same remit to inspire very different tales.

     Martin pens marvellous prose in any genre, he is descriptive but never dull and poetic without being florid.  He has a knack for authentic, character-crafting speech and an ability to make even the driest detail fascinating so readers will come away with a new love and comprehensive understanding of life as a Mississippi steamboat captain even if such a subject previously held no appeal.  The subtle inclusion of issues of race and prejudice also provide authenticity and much food for thought.
     Most admirable is Martin’s creation of a truly memorable and scene-stealing mortal character in a genre over-populated with charismatic bloodsuckers.  Captain Abner Brown is unfailingly human – quite literally warts and all! – and his singular tale provides an entirely satisfying, sequel free conclusion.
     Vampire fans may see a link between Fevre Dream and True Blood as Martin may be the first author to suggest a synthetic blood “cure”, an idea that is constantly evolving in the genre.  So, regardless of whether you prefer your vampire novels from The Old World or The New, Fevre Dream deserves the status of a  modern classic alongside the likes of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.

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Utter brilliance!

That Quirkive Blog

A dad makes a gift for his son who loves zombies AND sweets, and this is what he came up with. In summary: coolest dad ever! Click on image to see where I got it from.

*******ATTENTION: I just got this picture from another blog. I don’t have the templates. However, this person does on DeviantArt http://kerrichan.deviantart.com/art/Zombie-Servival-Kit-Part-2-Serum-and-Aquatabs-360799357********

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     By the power of Grey Skull!!!  It’s the End of Days, people!

     Just click the pic for the full story :0

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