Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

CHRISTOPHER LEE’S CIRCLE OF TERROR   Leave a comment

Horror Icon Christopher Lee turned 93 on May 27. And to celebrate the birthday of the screen legend, I offer you Christopher Lee’s Circle of Terror: a new pop culture game that could finally put a stake in the heart of Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Starting with Lee, you name an actor that played a role he also played. Then name an actor who shared a role with that actor. And so on, and so on, until the chain leads us right back to Christopher Lee. Let the games begin…

CHRISTOPHER LEE is best known for playing DRACULA, a role also played by...

CHRISTOPHER LEE is best known for playing DRACULA, a role also played by…

FRANK LANGELLA, who also played...

FRANK LANGELLA, who also played…

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON in

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON in “Frost/Nixon.” Tricky Dick was also played by

ANTHONY HOPKINS, who also played the role of vampire hunter...

ANTHONY HOPKINS, who also played the role of vampire hunter…

Dr.  VAN HELSING, a role also played by the famous

Dr. VAN HELSING, a role also played by the famous

LAURENCE OLIVIER, who also donned blackface to play Shakespeare's

LAURENCE OLIVIER, who also donned blackface to play Shakespeare’s

OTHELLO. The Tragic Moor was also played on film by...

OTHELLO. The Tragic Moor was also played on film by…

ORSON WELLES, best known to radio fans as the voice of...

ORSON WELLES, best known to radio fans as the voice of…

THE SHADOW.  The cackling crime-fighter was played on film by...

THE SHADOW. The cackling crime-fighter was played on film by…

ALEC BALDWIN. Though that reboot tanked, he launched a successful franchise as...

ALEC BALDWIN. Though that reboot tanked, he launched a successful franchise as…

JACK RYAN in

JACK RYAN in “The Hunt for Red October.” The two-fisted intelligence analyst was most recently played by…

CHRISTOPHER PINE, who also stars in the rebooted Star Trek movies as ...

CHRISTOPHER PINE, who also stars in the rebooted Star Trek movies as …

CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK, a role of course originated by...

CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK, a role of course originated by…

WILLIAM SHATNER, who starred in a short-lived TV series as...

WILLIAM SHATNER, who starred in a short-lived TV series as…

ALEXANDER THE GREAT. And as odd casting as that sounds, equally odd for the role was Irish actor...

ALEXANDER THE GREAT. And as odd casting as that sounds, equally odd for the role was Irish actor…

COLIN FARRELL, who also starred in the remake of “Fright Night” as

JERRY DANDRIDGE. The sexy vampire next door was played in the original by...

JERRY DANDRIDGE. The sexy vampire next door was played in the original by…

CHRIS SARANDON, who went from evil to good as...

CHRIS SARANDON, who went from evil to good as…

JESUS in

JESUS in “The Day Christ Died.” The Messiah was also played by…

MAX VON SYDOW in

MAX VON SYDOW in “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Max was less nice as James Bond’s archenemy…

ERNST BLOFELD in “Never Say Never Again.” The super-villain has been portrayed by many other actors including…

CHARLES GRAY, who also played the older, smarter brother of Sherlock Holmes...

CHARLES GRAY, who also played the older, smarter brother of Sherlock Holmes…

MYCROFT HOLMES in “The Seven-Percent Solution.” The part of Sherlock’s big brother was also played by none other than…

CHRISTOPHER LEE in

CHRISTOPHER LEE in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.”

So there we have it: A perfect circle including 12 actors. Now it’s your turn. Pick any actor above as a starting point, create a Circle of Terror of your own and post it as a comment below.

Speaking of Lee’s portrayal of Mycroft Holmes, the actor has the rare distinction of having also portrayed Holmes himself, in “Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace” as well as Holmes’ most famous client Sir Henry in “Hound of the Baskervilles.” Sherlock Holmes fans around the world have been delighted to see the detective’s creator in a new thriller, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in The Adventure of The Spook House.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world's greatest magician probe a paranormal  mystery in new thriller.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world’s greatest magician probe a paranormal mystery in new thriller.

Check out the book HERE.

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Going Old School: “The Call of Cthulhu” Makes One Creepy Film.   Leave a comment

EERIENESS pervades the movie The Call of Cthulhu.

EERIENESS pervades the movie The Call of Cthulhu.

OLD SCHOOL: 2005 Film version of H.P. Lovecraft's masterpiece was produced as a silent film.

OLD SCHOOL: 2005 Film version of H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpiece was produced as a silent film.

*****

By. C. Michael Forsyth

Lately I’ve been re-reading H.P. Lovecraft’s stories for the first time in since high school and joyfully rediscovering his unique vision.

During his lifetime, Lovecraft’s work was ignored by critics and relegated to pulp fiction magazines like Weird Tales that paid him a pittance. Now, of course, he’s regarded as a giant of the horror genre. Some readers still find his florid style over the top. But what might be dismissed as overwrought prose is more correctly read as poetry. His phrases like “a blasphemous monstrosity,” are like Milton’s description of Hell as “darkness visible.” They make no literal sense but are powerfully evocative.

H.P. Lovecraft's genius went unrecognized during his lifetime.

H.P. Lovecraft’s genius went unrecognized during his lifetime.

Such language fits the theme that permeates his work: An otherworldly horror that defies reason. Almost all of Lovecraft’s stories are rooted in the same cosmology, grasping at it from different angles: Before the dawn of history, Earth was ruled by the Old Ones, monstrous god-like beings that have been banished from our world, but ever wait on its edge, seeking to gain entry.

When I stumbled across a 2005 film adaptation of Lovecraft’s masterpiece The Call of Cthulhu on Netflix, I eagerly added it to my queue, wondering how could one possibly translate that story to the screen.

The tale is about a sinister worldwide cult devoted to an Old One named Cthulhu. The main character Francis Thurston recounts his discovery of notes left behind by his great-uncle, a college professor who investigated the cult, piecing together a puzzle whose pieces are spread across oceans and decades, including the bizarre dreams of a young artist, wild rituals in the swamps outside New Orleans, Eskimo idol-worshippers and an ill-fated sea voyage.

The structure of the story is mind-bendingly complex: A frame story within a frame story within a frame story; told through a series of vignettes visited in flashback, which, as each layer is added, builds collectively to a monumental horror.

Director Andrew Leman, a founding member of the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, recognized that a traditional approach was doomed to failure, and so took a bold gamble: His 47-minute short feature is silent and black and white, scored and acted exactly as if it had been produced in 1926 when the story was written.The director perfectly replicates the look of German expressionistic films of that time, like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, giving the movie a creepy and otherworldly feel. The dream sequences in particular are clearly a loving tribute to those films.

DREAM sequence in movie was inspired by silent-era German expressionist films

DREAM sequence in movie was inspired by silent-era German expressionist films

It’s ambitious and in the sense that the filmmaker achieved exactly what he intended, a remarkable tour de force. But because the movie is a slavishly literal translation of the written work — including that clunky non-lineal story structure — it doesn’t completely succeed as a film. It’s certainly not scary at all. I’m not sure that viewers who are unfamiliar with Lovecraft or silent movies would appreciate the film. Indeed, they might interpret the minimalist sets and stylized acting (particularly the fight scenes) as signs of ineptitude and, quite unfairly, put it in the same category as Plan Nine From Outer Space.

Is there any way you could adapt the story into a traditional Hollywood film without completely bastardizing it? One would have to get rid of the frame story and make the great-uncle the main character. The vignettes might perhaps be simultaneous storylines that converge. And Johansen, the seaman who ultimately takes on Cthulhu face to face, would have to be a central, heroic character rather than a minor one.

GIBBERING cult member named Castro gleefully tells all about his evil sect.

GIBBERING cult member named Castro gleefully tells all about his evil sect.


The big rate-limiting factor is that when Cthulhu finally rears his ugly head, it’s hard for him to look like anything but a B-movie monster. For it to work, you’d have to create a special effect like none we’ve ever seen before, something that makes us feel that we are looking into the face of a truly unearthly and incomprehensible horror.

While we’re waiting for someone to figure out exactly how to do that, do check out this highly creative and unorthodox film.

BTW, I couldn’t resist having a bit of fun at Mr. Lovecraft’s expense in this bizarre story.

MORE from the author of this article…

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The author of this article also penned the highly acclaimed horror novel "Hour of the Beast."

The author of this article also penned the highly acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast.

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