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Showing posts from May, 2016

In a literary vein: Three werewolf classics (Part 1)

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Normally this space discusses movies, and one will be examined here, but for a change we will look at three classics of horror literature featuring werewolves as the chief supernatural menace. An outgrowth of this author's winter and early spring reading, and in one case, re-reading after more decades than he cares to mention, bringing these works back into the open again is not only a matter of interest but worthwhile in examining possible influences on their cinematic followers. Not to mention that all three are particularly good reads as well, despite contrasting styles and ideas.

Our selections include THE UNDYING MONSTER by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, H. Warner Munn's THE WEREWOLF OF PONKERT, and THE WOLF IN THE GARDEN by Alfred H. Bill. These books have been in the author's library for years, surviving moves from New York to Ohio, from town to town, from apartments to houses, but the only one that had been read was THE WOLF IN THE GARDEN back in the mid-1970s -- thus the…

In a literary vein: Three werewolf classics (Part 2)

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A common denominator in the works under examination -- THE UNDYING MONSTER: A TALE OF THE FIFTH DIMENSION, THE WEREWOLF OF PONKERT and THE WOLF IN THE GARDEN -- is that the lycanthropic menace of all three stem from Old World Europe. Much like the werewolf films that came out of Hollywood starting in the 1930s, the origin of the wolf creature spreading havoc in contemporary times arises from ancient lands and beliefs, where superstition surrounding old crimes and sins still hold an influence with the people who live in such locations. 

More often than not, in fiction and in movies, the curse of the werewolf is passed on through the bite of an affected being on a normal human during a nighttime encounter in a lonely section of Hungary or Rumania, showing that such regions are not the exclusive domain of Count Dracula and other vampires. Eventually, the werewolf's presence in America was accepted, as for example, Mike Nichols' feature WOLF (1994), in which the hero (Jack Nicholso…

The strange case of 'Jennifer' and other curiosities

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Forced out of what some would have termed a well-deserved obscurity by the demands of the home video and streaming markets, Joel Newton's JENNIFER sounded like a sure-fire attempt at a romantic thriller. But its deficiencies in directing, scripting and in some cases by the acting leave those encountering it for the first time with the feeling of a missed opportunity, in addition to a murky production history that's enhanced its curiosity value.

On the surface, the story appeared to have a good audience hook in placing a working girl in a gloomy, nearly-empty mansion, confronted by the mystery surrounding the disappearance of her predecessor. The plot had all the trappings of those gothic romance novels on your family's bookshelf if someone in the house was inclined to read them, the kind whose covers always seemed to depict a comely woman, usually the heroine, either fleeing from or looking fearfully back at a castle or dark mansion with a single light shining from a window…