Showing posts with label Bertena Varney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bertena Varney. Show all posts

Friday, 10 February 2012

Catch-up time

My entries on here can be fairly sporadic, as I don't feel compelled to write just for the hell of it but only when I've got something to say or find something particularly compelling. That said, I don't like to let this thing go dormant, either. So, occasionally, I'll do a little 'catch-up' time with my readers to see what I've been up to and whatnot.

Firstly, you may've noticed that I've reinstated LinkWithin after banishing it several months ago. Wow. October. Time flies! I brought it on the same day I wrote the previous post. What inspired me to do that? You might be surprised

The article's full of useful tips for getting your stuff 'out there', but here's another: quantity may be more important than quality, according to a study by The British Psychological Society. The theory's not without criticism, however.

I've noticed Hammer's interested in making another Dracula flick. They've already had a recent stab at the vampire genre with Beyond the rave (2008). Prior to that, Hammer tried 'keeping up' with the young'uns by adding more sadism, more boobs and more groovy theatrics in the flicks that (not coincidentally) served as the last gasps of their reign over British horror films. 

Yes, I'm talking about Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic rites of Dracula (1974) and, let's not forget, the kung-fu 'spectacular' that was The legend of the 7 golden vampires (1974). Christopher Lee patently refused to star in that one and was replaced by John Forbes-Robertson.

I'm a fan of the Hammer Dracula flicks. Taste the blood of Dracula (1970) is one of my favourite vampire movies and I also enjoy their non-Dracula effort, Vampire circus (1972). What I'm saying is, these guys knew how to do it 'right'. Mostly.

So I can't help wondering whether they're gonna 'update' Dracula like they did in the latter stages, only to compete with other hyper-modernisations of the vampire myth like the Blade and Underworld series. Hopefully, Beyond the rave's not a warning sign. Point is, that angle's been done.

The thing that worked best in the Hammer Dracula/vampire flicks, in my opinion, was their 'gothicness'. That angle's lost when you update the vampire too much. They just become run-of-the-mill leather-jacketed action antiheroes—with fangs. Boooooring. I'm so over it. And enough with the bloody ramping, already (see point 3)! This isn't the bloody Matrix. And get offa my lawn!

Anyhoo, if there's anything that demonstrates what an updating of Hammers' gothic Dracula would look like, it's this. That said, they were also smart enough to back Let the right one in, so I probably shouldn't be cutting 'em down just yet.

Robin Hood—and Highgate vampire—fans, for that matter, will get a kick out of Kai Roberts' recently-published, Grave concerns: the follies and folklore of Robin Hood's final resting place (2011). The 'resting place' is located on the Kirklees Hall Estate, Yorkshire. It was also the scene of Sean Manchester's second-most famous vampire case.

Roberts presents an objective overview of the case and—before I continue, I've gotta disclose that he's a mate of mine. But he's a mate as a result of the correspondence that place during the draft stages of the book.

You see, its sixth chapter, 'Vampire blues', deals with the Highgate vampire case, which I was asked to view before it was 'locked in' for publication. Kai was familiar with my other blog, Did a wampyr walk in Highgate? and thought I might be qualified to do so. I made forty-eight notes to it, but not many made the cut. Mind you, they weren't major alterations, more like expanding on points—with a few corrections—Kai made throughout the draft. There wasn't really much more I could add, as Kai did such a brilliant job of summarising the case.

Now, because I mentioned on Facebook that I helped 'edit' his chapter (before I'd seen the final copy, no less), Della Farrant, and her husband David, took it upon themselves to jump down my throat—with hilarious consequences! What I also find funny, is that Kai's criticism is much more brutal than mine, yet they compliment him. Bit of a Freudian slip there! That, or they don't want to muddy the waters with someone who's given 'em public exposure and knows how to cut down their 'work' a peg or two with utmost precision.

As if it wasn't sad enough, Dave's wife's now started writing weaksauce apologia and bitter diatribes on her husband's behalf. A real shame, because she's a very smart woman and a talented writer (cursive font to the contrary). Just goes to show how 'blind' love can be.

Apart from that, I've also dealt with the usual pitiful, passive-aggressive mind games the President of the Highgate Vampire Society likes to play.

Anyhoo, grab a copy of Kai's book. I've started reading the rest of it—keeping in mind I only saw one chapter, pre-publication—and it's proving to be a gripping read.

Speaking of reads, Bertena Varney sent me a copy of her book, Vampire news: tasty bits to sink your fangs into (2012), which I'll get round to reading properly when I have some time.

You might recall her as the author of Lure of the vampire: a pop culture reference book of lists, websites and "very telling personal essays" (2011). The same book also reveals the head of the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, which many people think is a legit government organisation.

If Vampire news is non-fictional—as my brief flick-through suggests it is—you may even see a review on this blog. Stay tuned! But let this also be a head's up to other authors/publishers: please don't send me movies or fictional works. I appreciate the effort, but I won't review them. If you've got vampire documentaries (like this one) or non-fiction vampire books, on the other hand...

In the meantime, I actually kinda dig the cover and you can download a copy of it free—yes, free—from its co-author, Stavros', website: Bite me really hard. Click on the cover to take you there.

Even though this isn't a movie review blog, I'll occasionally refer to vampire flicks I've seen, keeping in tune with the online 'diary' nature of blogs. So, in that spirit, I'll mention that I caught Lesbian vampire killers (for vampire content, honest!) on DVD. 

Despite the rash of negative reviews—and its co-star calling it 'a pile of shit'—I kinda liked it. It reminded me of a far-less gorier version of Død snø (2009), another enjoyably mindless horror-comedy released the same year. It's not Shaun of the dead, sure, but dumb fun, nonetheless. For another 'take', see what Andrew M. Boylan had to say about it.

Well, that's enough rambling and links to wade through, for today. We'll catch-up again soon. Oh, but before I forget, John Edgar Browning gave me a head's up on the release of his book, Bram Stoker's Dracula: the critical feast, an annotated reference of early reviews & reactions, 1897-1913 (2012). It's now available in paperback form on Amazon; there's a copy for the Kindle-inclined. Another addition to my wish list—and yours, too, I hope.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Dracula fan's Facebook page swiped

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the internets, seems like the ghost of SOPA's still lingering about. Bertena Varney published a highly disturbing article today: 'Universal Studios claim Dracula fan's Facebook page'. What. The. Hell?!

The owner of the page is—full disclosure—a friend of mine, Charles E. Butler. He wrote The romance of Dracula: a personal journey of the Count on celluloid (2011). The article reveals that on January 20th, Facebook sent him the following message:

You may have noticed that you're no longer an admin of one of the Facebook Pages you used to manage. The Page was claimed by someone who proved that they're authorized to represent it.       

The Facebook Team
Short, sweet and sucky. Varney adds, 'He then went to visit the website and it was under another admin that he found later was Univerisal Studios, the owner of the orginal Dracula movies.' Now, I don't know what 'proof' they offered—and neither does Butler, because five emails to 'The Facebook Team' have gone unanswered.

Proof is the key here, because even though Universal made the first (official)1 Dracula movies after negotiations with Bram Stoker's widow, Florence Balcombe Stoker, they do not own Stoker's work or derivatives from it—unless, of course, it exploits their Dracula franchise, namely Dracula (1931), Dracula's daughter (1936), Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein (1948), etc. 

As respected Dracula scholar, David J. Skal notes, 'due to a loophole in copyright law, Dracula was – and always had been – in the public domain in the United States. Although Stoker had been issued a copyright certificate in 1897, and his widow a renewed certificate in the 1920s, Stoker had never complied with the requirement that two copies of the work be deposited with the American copyright office.'2 Therefore, Universal simply has no right to claim 'Dracula' from someone else.

Add your signature to a petition asking Universal to give Butler's page back. I've signed it; hope you do, too. Stand up for the 'little guy'!

1. F.W. Murnau's well-known Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) was an unauthorised rip-off.

2. DJ Skal, Hollywood gothic: the tangled web of Dracula from novel to stage to screen, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1990, p. 180.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

My reading list

Current reading list
I've started collating a blog roll of recommended resources. They're all carry-overs from the old blog, but this time 'round, they'll be vampire-centric. Theresa Bane's blog made the cut, as did Andrew M. Boylan's Taliesin meets the vampires. Bertena Varney's The search for the lure of the vampire's in, and Niels K. Petersen's Magia postuma's a given.

As to the ones that didn't make the cut, it's not that my view's changed on their quality, it's that I'm not sure they'll be relevant to the direction I want to take this thing in. We'll see. Still, bshistorian's The bs historian's good value and I enjoy Curt Purcell's musings on The groovy age of horror and Brian Solomon's peeks inside The vault of horror. The others are good, too.

Ultimately, I want the list to serve as a 'library' of blogs devoted to vampire studies and/or to highlight the works of vampirologists, or, at least, authors prominent in the field. Therefore, I might create a separate list for 'entertainment' purposes.

The question is, am I being too restrictive? Would a broader representation of various disciplines be more suitable? That's why I struggle with omitting a blog like The bs historian, as their writings on 'nonsense' history—and occasional forays into vampire lore—are incredibly insightful and may enhance the study of the undead. We'll see.
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