Favorite Horror Movies: Part Five: The Bride of Frankenstein

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Brideoffrankenstein

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In honor of the recent 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, I want to reblog this post about the horror film that is, in my opinion, the closest to the original novel.

I also want to mention that I have taught  this novel several times at both Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and the Department of Graduate and Continuing Education at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

It is also interesting that the sequel The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) to Universal Studio’s Frankenstein  (1931) is a far better film and more faithful adaptation to Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel than was the original movie. James Whale directed and Carl Laemmle Jr. produced this film.

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(Richard Rothwell, 1840)

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The movie opens with a sequence in which Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley appear, which is a nod to the summer of 1816 in which the three writers shared time together and decided to writer ghost stories.  Mary Shelley’s contribution was a short story about a young doctor who reanimated a corpse, and which she later expanded into the famous and deeply important novel. In this scene, Mary explains  that the story did not end, as shown in the first movie, with the death of the creature in the burning windmill.

Whale imbues this film with both highly religious symbolism, as when the creature is captured and tied to what looks like a crucifix and to references to important sections from the book.  The creature famously finds a friend in the blind man, who is able to befriend the creature because he cannot see his deformities.  This is a clear reference to stereotyping and bigotry.

In the novel, the Creature demands that Frankenstein create a mate for him, so that his loneliness can be alleviated. In this film, Elsa Lancaster, who also plays Mary Shelley in  the opening scene, plays the bride.  But as would be expected, it does not go well when she rejects the Creature’s advances, and he says the powerful line, “We belong dead.”

Jack Pierce again did the famous makeups, and Boris Karloff starred again as the Creature.

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This movie was successful financially and critically. It is, in my opinion, a cinematic masterpiece!

If any of you have interest either in horror or cinema, this is a film that you should see.

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Favorite Horror Films: Part 11 — Cat People

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Cat_People_poster

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

In 1942, producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Torneur, advanced the making of horror films by expanding the possible topics and boundaries. This extraordinary film is not one that relies on a standard “monster”; instead, Torneur employs psychological suspense and subtle development of terror.

This film offers a sophisticated and understated treatment of sexuality and its impact on people. The main character, Irena, a fashion designer, born in Serbia, and played by Simone Simon combines the modern world of high fashion in New York City with the old world beliefs that she is descended from people who are shape-shifters and who turn into big cats when sexually enticed and aroused. Torneur builds a new variation on the established theme of lycanthropy, in which a male changes into a wolf. Additionally, the film demonstrates the tension between science and superstition, the modern era versus the medieval times, and religion versus secularism.

While to a contemporary audience, this movie might seem dated and subdued, I believe it still carries great impact in its study of horror that is felt rather than seen, slowly created rather than visceral, and suggestive rather overt.

Cat People did very well at the box office, but it received a mixed range of reviews at the time. Since the 1940s, it has come to be seen as one of the more important horror films of the 20th Century.  If you have the opportunity, I recommend watching Cat People.

Jaguar

(https://en.wikipedia.org)i

Happy Beltane!

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Happy Beltane to all, a day to celebrate and wish all well!

And please do not worry–this pagan Wiccan/Druidic holiday does not have anything to do with the devil.

Rather, this holiday is one of nature and spirit and celebrates the renewal of life! It is closely connected to rituals of May Day and is observed in much of the world with an ancient Celtic influence.

So, please enjoy the natural world and life itself!

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Quotations on Racism

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“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them”

                                                                       Elie Wiesel

 

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(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

“The contributions of African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants throughout our nation’s history are undeniable, but the tendency to overlook their gallant efforts is pervasive and persistent.”

                                                                      Tammy Duckworth

 

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“Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shore, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it. Our children are still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people of an earlier culture into a few fragmented groups herded into impoverished reservations.”

                                                         Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

A Guest Post For the U.L.S. The Underground Library Society by K.D. Dowdall

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I want to thank the wonderful writer and blogger K.D. Dowdall for becoming a member of the U.L.S. The Underground Library Society and for writing this post about the books she would become. Please visit her site Pen and Paper !

Underground Library Society Post

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K.D. Dowdall

As a member of Dr. Charles F. French’s Underground Library Society, I have been asked to write about what book or books I would choose to become, should the world, someday, resemble the novel, Fahrenheit 451 in which books are illegal.

Colonial America has always fascinated me. It was the beginning of a new world order, but it wasn’t about democracy, at least in the beginning—far from it. It was about religious freedom and freedom from tyranny. Yet, nothing could have been farther from the truth.

The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, in 1620, to start a new life—with or without a religion of their choosing. And then came the Puritans, in 1630, who landed at Salem, a band of Calvinists believers. They were refugees, expelled from England, and then also expelled for the Dutch city of Amsterdam for their harsh, cruel, and unorthodox beliefs.

This brings me to my choice of a book or books I would become, based on two young women’s true life stories, which changed the narrative of Colonial America’s journey into becoming a democracy. They are: Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, and Tidewater by Libbie Hawker.

Of course, there were other young women in Colonial America that helped to bring enlightenment, humanism, and the beginning of the scientific movement, like philosophy in which we see Descartes’ famous quotation: “Cogito, Ergo sum – I think, there for I am.”

Two such notable women were Anne Bradstreet and Anne Hutchinson. Anne Bradstreet published the first book written by a woman in Colonial America. Anne Hutchinson was one of the first feminists in Colonial America to advocate equality for women. Their independent thinking, in the days of Puritan tyranny in Colonial America, helped to impact America’s journey into independence, equality, and separation of church and state.

Tidewater by Libby Hawker, set in 1607, Jamestown, Virginia, is the story of Amonute, commonly known as Pocahontas—a nickname given to her by her grandfather. Twelve year old Amonute’s independent, intelligent, inquisitive, and brave nature, allowed her to walk naked to the small settlement of unbathed, filthy, and starving English men. These men, without women, had had no idea how to survive in this new land.

John Smith, with his similar nature, welcomed Amonute’s knowledge and wisdom. She alone, for good or ill, changed the course of history, bringing together, as least temporarily, a truce between two vastly different cultures. Pocahontas married a caucasian Protestant minister and was invited to mingle with Royalty in England. She is still remembered with great fondness, by the English people, and they have dozens of statutes of Pocahontas throughout England.

My second favorite, Caleb’s Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks, is set in 1665, and brings vividly to life the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University. The real heroine of this story, however, is Bethia Mayfield. Despite growing up on a small island, surrounded by strict Puritan theology, Bethia grew up possessed of “a restless spirit and a curious mind.”

Despite her upbringing, Bethia defied the bounds of her rigid Calvinistic father’s ministry. One day, while exploring the forested island, Bethia met Caleb, the son of the Chieftain of Great Harbor, now known as Martha’s Vineyard. They became secret friends. Bethia was impressed with the young Wampanoag Indian’s innate intellect, and she was further impressed by the freedom to speak their minds, given to the males and females in Caleb’s Native American Indian society.

As they grew up, Bethia fought to have Caleb become a learned young man in Puritan Colonialism. She won the fight between the old ways and the new, and Caleb went to study Greek and Latin at Harvard University. Bethia went to Cambridge at the behest of her brother, and she became the voice in a society that required women’s silence.

I would have chosen to become either one of these intuitive, brave, and independent, forward-thinking young women who helped to promote, as it says in our Constitution, “…the general welfare, and to secure the Blessings of Liberty.” 

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Thank you again to K.D. Dowdall for her wonderful post!

 

Happy Friday the 13th!

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I hope all of you enjoy your day today and do not worry at all about the date. This is not a day that should cause any concern, unless of course you somehow had access to a time machine and were able to travel back in time to October 13, 1307 when the end of this organization was put into play by King Philip the Fair of France.  Apparently his name carried two levels of irony, because many reported that he was not handsome, and certainly his treatment of the Knights Templar shows he was not a man of honor.

He had many arrested on that day, and that began a time of great torture, horror, and death for those involved. So, certainly that day would have been a terrible day to be around on Friday the 13th!

If you had a time machine, perhaps you should choose a different, happier historical day!

But for everyone else, enjoy the Friday! Go out if you normally do, or stay home and enjoy a good book, but have fun, and please do not worry about the date!

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The Stone Arch Secret by K.D. Dowdall: A Five Star Book!

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This fine novel by K.D. Dowdall is a wonderful crossing of the genres of mystery and romance. Mixing genres has potential difficulties, but none of those exist in this sophisticated and engaging book. Rather than getting confused about where to take the tale, K.D. Dowdall skillfully infuses elements of both genres and effectively creates her own new genre: mystery-romance!

From the moment I began reading, I was pulled into the story in this book. The narrative moves between the contemporary mystery and the backstory with Lilly, Noah, and Dax. The tone of Karen’s story is subtle and complex, in which she weaves together a love story, grief for the death of a friend, mystery in an old town, and the threat of a well-drawn, compelling, and threatening villain.

One of the themes of the novel is the potential for corruption in religion and the consequences that can emerge from the combination of political power and, what is essentially a cult, in small town New England. K.D. Dowdall’s rendering of this political/religious threat is powerful and frightening.

K.D. Dowdall shows a mastery of history as well as using convincing dialogue with a welcomed restraint in her description of violence and threat. In all parts of this book, it is well-drawn and carefully crafted.

I will not give any spoilers in this review, but I will say that I recommend this book completely and give it a five star review. If you are a fan of books with a subtle and sophisticated writing style, a fan of mysteries, or a fan of romance, then you will enjoy this wonderful tale.

Please do yourselves a favor, and buy and read this novel!

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Quotations on Kindness

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

                                                                                Plato

 

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“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

                                                                              Desmond Tutu

 

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“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

                                                                              Dalai Lama XIV

Quotations on Compassion

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

                                                                  Plato

 

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

                                                                Dalai Lama XIV

 

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“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ”

                                                               Martin Luther King Jr.

Favorite Horror Films of the 1940s: Cat People

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Cat_People_poster

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

In 1942, producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Torneur, advanced the making of horror films by expanding the possible topics and boundaries. This extraordinary film is not one that relies on a standard “monster”; instead, Torneur employs psychological suspense and subtle development of terror.

This film offers a sophisticated and understated treatment of sexuality and its impact on people. The main character, Irena, a fashion designer, born in Serbia, and played by Simone Simon combines the modern world of high fashion in New York City with the old world beliefs that she is descended from people who are shape-shifters and who turn into big cats when sexually enticed and aroused. Torneur builds a new variation on the established theme of lycanthropy, in which a male changes into a wolf. Additionally, the film demonstrates the tension between science and superstition, the modern era versus the medieval times, and religion versus secularism.

While to a contemporary audience, this movie might seem dated and subdued, I believe it still carries great impact in its study of horror that is felt rather than seen, slowly created rather than visceral, and suggestive rather overt.

Cat People did very well at the box office, but it received a mixed range of reviews at the time. Since the 1940s, it has come to be seen as one of the more important horror films of the 20th Century.  If you have the opportunity, I recommend watching Cat People.

Jaguar

(https://en.wikipedia.org)