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This review is part of The Werewolf Run to help promote the release of K.H Koehler’s werewolf novel, A Werewolf in Time (Mrs. McGillicuddy #2). Please visit Amazon and Barnes & Noble online for information on ordering a copy of the book for your Kindle or Nook. To see where she’ll be in the next month, visit: http://www.khkoehler.com/the-werewolf-run/
CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961)
Hammer Films. The words evoke bright, eye-watering images of blood-slathered damsels in distress, evil Counts and Barons, strained corsets, and hapless villagers being victimized—and often slaughtered—en masse. In the early 1960’s, the Hammer Film studio wanted to crank out films that undermined—or, at the very least, made fun of—the sometimes ridiculously puritanical films being shoveled out by Universal Pictures under the misnomer of “horror.” Universal, like all American film studios from 1930 until 1968, was shackled by the Motion Picture Production Code, which forbid a formidably long laundry list of “indecent” or “immoral” behavior in motion pictures. But the UK, Italy and other countries which were heavily influencing films during the 1960’s, weren’t restricted by such guidelines and so were free to produce films like Curse of the Werewolf, a film that, with its subtle sexuality and not-so-subtle violence, would never have passed approval in America until at least the late 1960’s, when the Motion Picture Production Code began to fail.
Curse of the Werewolf was another film that made the popular circuit of Saturday afternoon matinee channels in my time. I remember it fondly as the “Oliver Reed werewolf movie.” I’d had, and still have, an ongoing crush on the young Oliver Reed, and his moody, almost manic-depressive performance in the movie makes me wish he’d done more Hammer films. But I can only guess that in some ways, Reed, who was a fairly popular leading man at the time, was kind of slumming it a bit by doing the movie. That or someone got him very drunk. I should like to thank that man.
Curse of the Werewolf is roughly based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endor. Following a more literary path toward its storytelling than most werewolf films, it actually starts decades before the real story even begins, with an old beggar being taken in by a cruel marques in 18th Century Spain. He’s used as entertainment for some festivities, and then tossed into a prison and quickly forgotten. During that time, his only contact with the outside world is the jailer and his beautiful, mute (and nameless) daughter. Some fifteen years later, the evil, decrepit marques makes advances on the now adult daughter, but when she rejects him, he throws her to the old, mad beggar, a recipe for disaster. The beggar rapes her and dies.
The girl is released and sent back to entertain the marques (who, frankly, has a few nuts and bolts rolling around his head himself) but manages to kill him before fleeing the castle. Eventually she is found in the forest by the scholar Don Alfredo Corledo and is nursed back to healthy by the kind Don and his housekeeper Theresa. And yet, despite their care, the girls dies some time later while giving birth to a baby on Christmas Day, something Theresa feels is a bad omen. Her fears are quickly realized when the child, adopted by Don Alfredo, cannot even be christened without the somber cry of some hellborn beast ringing out over the village.
The real story starts as the boy, Leon, grows from a child to a man and slowly becomes overwhelmed by his own bloodlust and the curse that has followed him from his birth. He learns that the love of a good woman could theoretically save and redeem him, but it just might not be enough as the man and the wolf battle for dominance over Leon’s body. The interesting twist here is that Leon is cursed through violent circumstances not of his own doing. He was cursed, and damned, before he was ever born. Not many werewolf movies today make use of the older methods of contracting lycanthropy, such as being a child of rape, committing a great act of evil, finding a belt of wolf fur, or drinking water from the paw print of a wolf. The film is unique in that it calls back to the older legends, many of which were long ago mixed-up and confused with similar tropes of witchcraft and vampirism.
Curse of the Werewolf remains one of my favorite Hammer films, and one of my favorite werewolf movies of all time. The complexity of its storytelling and the beautiful, almost garish (and very Hammeresque) sets and filming alone are worth the price of admission.
4 pentacles out of 5.
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I promised a special guest in the forest today and she’s here! The satyrs and nymphs are on their best behavior, anxiously awaiting the baby toe cookies Carole Lanham promised to bring them. I think I just heard one satyr squeal with glee. He’s our boisterous member of the forest. I swear he has more energy in one horn than I have in my whole body.
Anyway, on with the goodies Carole brings us!
31 Days of Secrets…
To gear up for the latest print release from Morrigan Books, author Carole Lanham is sharing 31 secrets in 31 days from her collection of award-winning stories, The Whisper Jar. On May 31, 2012, The Whisper Jar will be available for purchase in paperback, and this is one secret that both Carole and Morrigan Books hope you’ll whisper far and wide. In the meantime, if you’d like to read the book before the end of the month, please pick up your copy of the ebook today at Amazon.
Secret # 4
Two minutes after Dr. Mangrove made the announcement that Hadley Crump was going to die, Lucinda walked in the bedroom, stirring a cup of chamomile with her finger and smiling like it was Christmas. Hadley’s momma lay across his legs, soaking the blanket with her tears, but Lucinda wasn’t one to pay Hadley’s momma much mind. She poked that tea-stirring finger in his mouth as though she meant to feed him the whole cup one lick at a time.
“I brought you something,” she said, and she wasn’t talking about tea. Hadley followed her gaze to the strip of violet paper on the rim of the saucer. He waited until she left to refill the cup before he let himself look at it.
I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and I could feel the hot breath on my neck…
About the time he got to the hot breath part, Hadley’s fingers let loose and the words loopty-looped away with all the devilish momentum of a broken promise.
~ The Reading Lessons
Carole Lanham is made entirely out of awesome. The Whisper Jar is packed to the lid with dark magic and whimsy, while bearing an ominously old-fashioned touch that might make Edward Gorey feel right at home. It deserves to be ranked as a modern classic.
— Brian Hodge, author of Mad Dogs and Picking The Bones
Check out the new site: http://ebooktinder.com/submit-tinder/
Carole Lanham now drops by the forest to tell us how V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic had a large impact on her writing. Check it out below.
Born in St.Louis, Mo., Carole Lanham has published twenty-four short stories and one novella since she began writing full time in 2004. Seven of her stories have received honorable mentions in Year’s Best volumes, one story was short-listed for the Million Writer’s Prize, and one was chosen as a Notable Story of the Year in 2008 for the Million Writer’s Prize.She has won two writing contests and two of her stories made the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker award for Outstanding Achievement in a Short Story. She is also a monthly contributor at Storyteller’s Unplugged.
Be sure to pay Carole a visit at: http://carolelanham.com/
Poisoned Powdered Sugar
Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, what makest thou?
If you recognize this quote at all, it may be because you read it in the Bible. Or, like me, you may recognize it because it’s the opening words in Flowers in the Attic, the endlessly alluring everyone-at-your school-is-reading-it, gothic horror tale that (back in the day) featured the giant head of a girl looking out of a little window on a glossy black cover. It was a guilty pleasure that few of my teenage friends opted to miss, and the series it spawned was like The Hunger Games or Twilight of the 1970s and 80s. When I first discovered it, I was still living in a bright-eyed cable-less world where flip-flops were the only kind of thongs girls wore and MASH was the raciest thing on TV. Flowers in the Attic was easily the most spellbinding bit of entertainment to ever come my way.
And why not? The book had everything a girl could want. The characters were beautiful as Dresden dolls (whatever those were, but gosh they sounded pretty!) and there was a mysterious mansion with a nasty grandmother, and an awful, terrible, horrible attic. Almost all of the love in the story was forbidden and the book ended with a doozy of a cliffhanger. Add to this the deliciously moody and poetic titles of the other installments in the series, Petals in the Wind, If There be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and it’s no wonder my friends and I had to have them all.
Due to the delectable nature of things, I was forced to keep that giant head in the little window turned facedown and concealed under layers of Tigerbeat on my nightstand, that’s just how good that book was! To this day, it’s still banned in some places. Still selling on Amazon too – 85 million books in print. Whatever your own feelings about Flowers in the Attic may be, there’s no denying the fact that it’s impact with young readers has proven enduring.
December 19, 2011 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of author VC Andrew’s death and this got me thinking. Given my affinity for Flowers as a kid, it seems strange to me that I’ve never given any thought to how that story shaped my own writing. Until now. Sure, I’d like to claim meatier, more groundbreaking influences like Slaughterhouse-Five or 1984, but the truth is, there’s just something supremely frightening to me about a mother who would lock her own children in an attic. It’s so simple. So devastating. That Corrine Dollanganger could be persuaded to place the family she loves under lock and key and eventually forget about them altogether was horrifying enough. The deadly doughnuts that followed were so troubling to me as a teenager, they permanently shaped my concept of horror forever. I mean, I love a good alien abduction, and the miserable repression of a dystopian society can be loads of good fun, but Big Brother has nothing on a loving mother who would mix arsenic with powdered sugar and feed it to her Dresden doll children. It’s both heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time.
But okay, while we’re on the subject, I feel compelled to admit the truth: In the years since I first read Flowers in the Attic, I’ve given into the temptation to lock up a child or two myself. I strapped a helpless kid in a guillotine once too, and I’ve knowingly fed mints that may or may not be magical and/or hallucinogenic to a few trusting young souls. What’s more, I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s the secretive plotting that goes hand in hand with these things, you see. Secrets are particularly tantalizing to me. I’m a nut for regret. Like the attic turned unholy dormitory in VC Andrew’s book, there’s more than a few disquieting secrets hiding out in the dark, dusty corners of my brain. In the interest of keeping things tidy, I’ve collected up some of the ones that refuse to lay flat and put them together in The Whisper Jar for safekeeping.
Luckily, no secret is too large to fit in my jar of black secrets. The farm girl with a quenchless thirst for her brother’s blood went in with a highly satisfying POP, I must say. Similarly, the kid strapped to the guillotine followed without any real fuss (rusty blade and all), so I decided to toss in a fistful of those special pink and green mints as well. Given the fact that more is always more when it comes to savory secrets, I scurried around scooping up naughty books to be dropped in one by one, then grabbed hold of a pair of daring children known for their dangerous and questionable reading habits, carried them by their curls over to my trusty jar of whispery secrets, and… bombs away!
After I screwed on the lid, things got amazingly quiet around here, at least for a little while.
Most people don’t like to reveal the contents of their Whisper Jar but then, we’ve already established the fact that I sustained permanent damage from consuming poisoned powdered sugar at an early age. For this reason, I’ll gladly share every wiggling thing that’s tucked away in mine. If your idea of terror involves intimate secrets about dubious yearnings, desperate deeds, good intentions gone wildly wrong, or true love betrayed, please visit me at one of the links below and take a peek inside The Whisper Jar. In the meantime, for the sake of your own sanity, beware of grandmother’s bearing silver trays of tempting Hostess Donettes.
The people of Highcross have found a handy way to lighten their hearts; they whisper their secrets into an empty jar and screw the cap on tight. Locked away on the dusty shelves of the Jar House, a town’s worth of black thoughts have been lined up in rows that become longer with the years. When the jars are accidentally shattered, the streets are flooded with everyone’s darkest deeds. No one is safe.
In this collection of award-winning short stories by Carole Lanham, a dangerous friendship forms around a love of books, a student learns more than she was ever meant to learn in school, a boy struggles to deal with his sister’s murderous affections, and the door to a mysterious room unbolts to reveal a terrible truth.
Open The Whisper Jar with great care. You just might find your own secrets hidden in there.
I’ve got a double dose of fun content today. First up, the wonderful and wildly prolific Ms. K.H. Koehler was kind enough to have me over for stop number three on the Passion Plays mini-blog tour. Much thanks to Karen for this. Surf over and check out “What George Burns and Gracie Allen Taught Me.” In the spirit of erotic romance, I get all sappy. (While there, be sure to browse Karen’s many great titles, too.)
And I’ve got a guest post coming up right after this from Carole Lanham, author of The Whisper Jar.