Supernatural Noir: Cast a Deadly Spell (1991) by K A Laity

Supernatural Noir: Cast a Deadly Spell (1991)

Having recently seen (and wrote about) Witch Hunt (1994) I was looking forward to seeing this mash up of supernatural and noir, largely because I figured Fred Ward would play the part of PI Harry Philip Lovecraft a lot better than a rather wooden Dennis Hopper did in the later film. That guess was correct.

Ward immediately gets what the film is meant to be a plays the noir elements with an edge of satire and humour. He channels the classic Bogey Spade but with a sense of irony, knowing this is a crazy mash-up of elements and an exercise in nostalgia. Ward is an underrated actor who always bring a everyman sensibility and a weight of intelligent emotion to every part he plays. He brings life to the part and a reality despite the clichés, over-the-top dramatics and clunky dialogue.

Because the rest of Cast a Deadly Spell is not up to his abilities. That includes a young Julianne Moore who is given next to nothing to do apart from lip syncing to someone else’ song and carrying out every cliché in the femme fatale playbook. You can almost see her composing a strongly worded letter to her agent. Yet at moments she makes us believe in her Connie (heart of) Stone, which is more than can be said for the rest of the cast.

David Warner phones it in. Lee Tergesen is quite good with very little help, despite being literally gay-bashed. I thought the role of Lovecraft’s witch partner, Hypolyta Kropotkin, was too small in Witch Hunt, but it’s miniscule in this film. Arnetia Walker gets very little to do except save Lovecraft’s ass.

The Lovecraft storyline intertwines with a Big Sleep-style detective narrative; nonsense with a virginal debutante (Alexandra Powers) that attempts to evoke both the Sternwood sisters at once. Needless to say the Lovecraft garbage is vile. It’s also incredibly boring and clichéd. Virgin sacrifice? Really? Oh hey, Necronomicon. Admittedly less of a cliché in 1991, but secret book of secrets has been a staple of horror films for a very long time.

Worse are the Gremlins. And they are really called that in the credits. Someone recently shared a meme about how cretins believe the moon landing was faked with an image of what SPFX looked like in 1969. The ‘old ones’ in this film really look like cheap knock offs of the Gremlins films (the first in 1984, which gives you an idea of the quality). Rubber monsters age poorly, but they would have looked out of date in 1991. I know, low budgets and all (this is an HBO made for tv movie) but Witch Hunt shows how much more effective you could be with more subtle effects. That movie is looking better now.

A shame because the concept of supernatural noir is such a great one and has been done really well (*cough* by people associated with this site). Fred Ward was so good. If you’re more forgiving of bad FX and hokey plots, you might find it ‘A great way to spend an evening!’ as Entertainment Weekly did. Potato, po-tah-toe.

Order of Feather and Smoke by Kristin Garth

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Order of Feather and Smoke 

 

Two hush the horses with rubs of their hands.

Side saddle riders seek to understand hitch

of carriage, belts into hooks, driving demands,

brake levers from library books of which

they are shown by the Siren of Smoke. Stoke

requisite flame, port de bras coax the spot,

equestrianism, on shelves where they stroke

parchment until their pluck is provoked.  Brought

by Crow Carriage so they shall leave, maidens

who drive, sisters who believe what is taught

to them by feathers, smoke.  The cadence

of crow wings above their carriage resounds

in subconscious minds returned to hometowns.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of seventeen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House  (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket forthcoming from Roaring Junior Press.  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

 

Murder Is A Promise That Must Be Kept by Kristin Garth

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Murder Is  A Promise That Must Be Kept 

 

Sash into sill then you are sealed to sounds

of sisterhood found you once thought extinct, 

surreal reverie in satin nightgowns. 

You take a young hand.  Fingers fall down. Pink

feverish, wet, two rosettes round her cheeks.

Everyone whimpers.  Nobody peeks 

from nightmares, too weak to awake.  You sneak

about bedchamber, grinding a new beak,

affectation, trying to think — wannest

skin, punctures in veins, cannot lead them away 

until laudanum wanes. Murder is a promise

that must be kept.  It will happen today 

amidst collected unconscious kidnapped.

You lie in wait once you ready a trap. 

Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI is FREE!

roman dalton

When a full moon fills the night sky, Private Investigator Roman Dalton becomes a werewolf and prowls The City‘s neon and blood soaked streets. There are six Roman Dalton Yarns written by Paul D. Brazill in this short collection.

You can currently grab it for FREE from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca , Amazon.com.au and the rest!

And there’s even a PLAYLIST HERE!

SALIENT MINUS TEN digital premiere 27 May!

salient minus 10

SALIENT MINUS TEN is the new Sci-Fi/Horror short film from award-winning filmmaker Emma Dark, and is a cerebral foray into the darker, more disturbing, side of Science Fiction.

Adam Harper (Alan Austen, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back) is an average man. And on an average day he suddenly finds himself catapulted into the strangest, reality changing game… A game of time and chance, where the stakes are a matter of life and death.

“Instead of relying on gore or cheap jump scares to get under your skin, this is a film which asks you to think and connect the dots yourself, and you almost feel as though you want to thank it for that.” – Dread Central (4/5* review), http://bit.ly/2on4LJi

SCREENINGS & AWARDS: * Fantoms (REGIONAL PREMIERE – NEWCASTLE UK, Star and Shadow cinema, October 2019) * WINNER ‘Best Actor’ (Alan Austen), WINNER ‘Best Cinematography’ (Philip Bloom), WINNER ‘Best Editing’ (Emma Dark), Nominated ‘Best Short’, ‘Best Music / Sound’ (Eric Elick & Chris Collier), ‘Outstanding Female Filmmaker’ (Emma Dark) – Stormy Weather Horror Fest Summer 2019 * Medusa Underground Film Festival (REGIONAL PREMIERE – NEVADA USA, The Artisan Hotel Boutique, Las Vegas, January 2019) * Black Sunday Film Festival (The Whirled Cinema, December 2018) * International Moving Image Society (01zero-one, October 2018) * WINNER ‘Albert Pyun Inspiration Award’ (Emma Dark), Nominated ‘Best Short Film’, ‘Audience Choice’, ‘Best Cinematography’ (Philip Bloom) – The Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival (NORTHERN IRISH PREMIERE, The Hub, Bangor, October 2018) * Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival (REGIONAL PREMIERE – NORTH CAROLINA USA, The Cary Theater, Cary, September 2018) * Nominated ‘Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy’ – Snake Alley Festival of Film (REGIONAL PREMIERE – IOWA USA, Capitol Theater, Burlington, June 2018) * Rue Morgue Magazine and Unstable Ground’s Little Terrors Monthly Short Film Festival (CANADIAN PREMIERE, Imagine Cinemas Carlton, April 2018) * Nominated ‘Best Horror/Sci-Fi’ – 2nd Annual – Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival (REGIONAL PREMIERE – PENNSYLVANIA USA (EAST COAST), Mauch Chunk Opera House, April 2018) * WINNER ‘Best Director’ (Emma Dark) – Starburst Magazine’s Media City Film Festival (REGIONAL PREMIERE – GREATER MANCHESTER, The Landing, March 2018) * Billy Chainsaw’s Nova Nights (The Horse Hospital, London, February 2018) * Panic Fest (USA PREMIERE, Screenland Armour Cinema, Kansas City, January 2018) * The Dark Side Magazine’s DarkFest (Genesis Cinema, November 2017) * Nominated ‘Best Short Film’ – The British Horror Film Festival (WORLD PREMIERE, Cineworld Leicester Square, November 2017)

CREDITS: Edited, Produced, Written, and Directed by Emma Dark Original Music by Eric Elick Director of Photography Philip Bloom Sound Design by Chris Collier

Adam Harper – Alan Austen

The Woman – Emma Dark

Commuter/Automaton – Chris Hampshire

Commuter – Beric Read

Commuter – Samantha Oci

For a full list of cast and crew credits and to find out more please visit the following links: IMDb – imdb.com/title/tt5935326 Facebook – facebook.com/SalientMinusTen Twitter – twitter.com/SalientMinusTen

BUY on DVD here > etsy.com/uk/shop/EmmaDarkOfficial

Copyright © 2017 Emma Dark. All Rights Reserved. emmadark.com facebook.com/EmmaDarkOfficial

Open Eyes To The Unknown by Kristin Garth

A sonnet, illustration and footnote from Crow Carriage:

 

Open Eyes To The Unknown

 

Add the footsteps upon the stairs, eighteen

at least you are aware before the groan

of the unwieldy door, the rattled keys

that underscore your confinement alone.

Open eyes to the unknown.  Only darkness

which amplifies each sound of what

would scurry on this ground. Hirsute harshness

from which you seek to hide.  Feel for blanket

atop this mattress and beside though none

you find within your reach.  Dare not wander,

bare feet, beseeching shelter, aid, someone

two floors above.  Monster you dishonored,

loved has sequestered you with your own kind

inside a mischief35 for mendacious minds.

 

35A mischief is something that a human can commit, much as The Mistress of Malice

did this evening breaking the one cardinal rule of her host:  do not interfere with the experiment.  The experiment, years of his labor, involves young women of her own village the nobleman doctor collects and keeps upstairs.  There are exposed to his protocol of laudanum in pink milk inciting terrible dreams and the consequent cortisol production – essential to the doctor’s lifework of solving Addison’s Disease, which took his own dear brother’s life.

 

None of this a layman could understand.  It’s why any guest to The Doctor’s home, which had not been terribly many since the experiment’s conception had been caution and consigned to the first floor.

 

The adolescent Mistress entered the home of The Doctor, a recipient of much grace after

a life of abuse.  The Doctor’s generosity with the child was manifold – he had taught her the requisite skills to kill her abusive relatives, offered her a beautiful room on the first floor with a lady to wait on her every need.  He had ignored his own needs for yet another young

female subject for his work to aid this girl.  All he had asked of the child, as he would any lay person, was that she not interfere with his work on the second floor.

 

And yet there had been mischief, Mischief of the Mistress.  The child had waited until The Doctor slept soundly, after a day of draining scientific work to better mankind, so that she might take advantage of his fatigue to climb the stairs and break the only rule.

 

Of course, she hadn’t known that the laboratory where his adolescent subjects slept and nightmared for him in perpetuity had a night duty nurse much more formidable than the doctor himself.  His dearly departed mother had offered her services to his experiment long ago as a matron of the laboratory in the nights when The Doctor and his human assistant must attend to their mortal need for sleep.

 

Mother makes quite an impression on the adolescent subjects, her death form quite unlike the beauty The Doctor knew in his youth.  Her bloody, beastly visage a warning that keeps the girl in bed.  The form had obviously scared The Doctor’s young new mischevious houseguest who had wandered to the forbidden floor.  It scared her enough the sound of her head bouncing off his parquet floor when she had fallen in fear had woken the Doctor who lifted the devious child into his arms.

 

But what to do with the girl now?  The first thought was to lock her inside the experiment and forego looking for another always essential subject to nightmare and provide her cortisol infused blood to his lifework.  There was, though, the risk of contamination with one as willful as this.  That could not be allowed.

 

And so to the basement, he had brought her and left her inside its depths, locked.  There was a bit of poetry to this plan and karma that appealed to The Doctor.  He had brought a mischievous girl to the mischief as she had craved – though maybe not in this form.  You see, The Doctor, as a scientist would know that a mischief is also the name for a group of rats.  His basement was teeming with them.  Not a scientist herself, she might not know this, but he would leave her there nevertheless alone in the dark tonight where she might learn.

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art by Amy Suzanne

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of sixteen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House  (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket forthcoming from Roaring Junior Press.  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Dracula is Not Sexy by K. A. Laity

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I was happy to dive into the latest take on Dracula via the BBC: Claes Bang and Dolly Wells. But I marvel anew at the attempts to make the count a sexy predator irresistible to women — and in this case men, too, which is at least something of an advance on the novel’s Victorian morality. Stoker had to invent the three ‘brides’ to avoid any suggestion of male-on-male shenanigans, but Gatiss et. al. don’t mind that a bit. Having taught the text a few times, I can’t help turning my mind back to Jonathan Harker’s first descriptions of the Count:
His face was a strong—a very strong—aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth; these protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed; the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.
 
I guess unibrows have a different cultural weight now, and the art of the ’tache is elusive (too easy to veer into creepy/cheesy) — to say nothing of elf ears. Can’t make elves scary after the elegance of those Tolkien adaptations, I guess. And rabbitty teeth would hardly make the Count look dangerous, now would they? Oh, but there’s more:
Hitherto I had noticed the backs of his hands as they lay on his knees in the firelight, and they had seemed rather white and fine; but seeing them now close to me, I could not but notice that they were rather coarse—broad, with squat fingers. Strange to say, there were hairs in the centre of the palm. The nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me, I could not repress a shudder. It may have been that his breath was rank, but a horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal.
Dracula is uncanny, not sexy. And those pointy nails and hairy palms — could he be indulging in that horrid practice boys learned at school? Yes, the Victorians really were obsessed with masturbation. R. J. Brodie wrote in The Secret Companion (1845) that the confirmed self-abuser “less resembled a living creature than a corpse.” Messed up, eh? Is it any wonder that the libidinous Lucy Westenra, who wonders aloud why a woman can’t have as many husbands as she likes, gets dispatched as a vampire in a scene that reads like a gang rape (if you don’t believe me, read it for yourself).
[here be spoilers]
It’s interesting that the new version shifts this connection of sex and death slightly. Not so much Keats’ melancholy ‘half in love with easeful Death’ but a whole-hearted bang at the conflagration of a collapsing empire perhaps. They’ve rolled all of the intelligent observation and industriousness of Mina Murray-Harker into Sister Agatha/Zoe (and unforgivably, turned Mina into a vapid simp), but her dissection of Dracula’s ‘real’ issues feels a bit facile: even a damp squib. But then they offset it with boning through the apocalypse, I suppose. The world is on fire, but the sex is hot.
There’s a clay-foot trend in recent times to show that heroes aren’t really heroes and this seems to go down a similar roots that monsters are not really monsters (though longevity through neurosis is something to think about). I’m not sure it works, but Dolly Wells keeps you riveted and Bang seems to be having a ball. How would you do Dracula? There’s always a little more life in that corpse.
Bio: K. A. Laity is the award-winning author of White RabbitA Cut-Throat BusinessLush SituationOwl Stretching, Unquiet DreamsÀ la Mort SubiteThe Claddagh IconChastity FlamePelzmantel and Other Medieval Tales of Magic and Unikirja, as well as editor of Weird NoirNoir Carnival and the forthcoming Drag Noir. With cartoonist Elena Steier she created the occult detective comic Jane Quiet. Her bibliography is chock full of short stories, humor pieces, plays and essays, both scholarly and popular. She spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Galway, Ireland where she was a Fulbright Fellow in digital humanities at NUIG. Dr. Laity has written on popular culture and social media for Ms., The Spectator and BitchBuzz, and teaches medieval literature, film, gender studies, New Media and popular culture at the College of Saint Rose. She divides her time between upstate New York and Dundee.

Children of the Stones

children of the stones

Children of the Stones is a British television drama serial for children produced by HTV in 1976 and broadcast on the United Kingdom’s ITV network in January and February 1977. The story was depicted over seven episodes and produced by Peter Graham Scott, with Patrick Dromgoole as executive producer. A novelisation by the serial’s writers, Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray also appeared in 1977. In the United States, it was broadcast on the Nickelodeon television channel in the early 1980s as part of the series The Third Eye.[1]

The series is today considered a landmark in quality children’s drama and has been called “the scariest programme ever made for children”

Piano Man by Graham Wynd

‘That do for you, Tommy?’

Eric had a think. Surely he was always Frank and Earnest: Frank in the north, Ernie in the south. This was north. ‘Frank, love, the name’s Frank.’ Daftie. But she was well fit, a regular gym devotee. He was a bit surprised when she responded so well to his flirting. Above his league but hey, anyone might have a champion sort of day.

‘Sorry, it’s just that you remind me of Tommy.’ She handed him a generous glass of whisky. Posh included her liquor in the pretty little cabinet. The woman was drinking some bubbly with a double-barreled French name, but he went right for the good stuff. ‘I’m just going to change the music.’

‘Oh but I like that piano man,’ Eric laughed. ‘You know, sing us a song Mr Piano Man, sing us your songs all right…’

She looked at him blankly, then chuckled and snapped the CD case shut. ‘This is a string quartet, La jeune fille et la mort.’

‘Oh, I don’t know Morty at all. I liked that Saddo though.’ He was laying on the cheeky chappie a bit thick but they expected it, didn’t they? Posh women like this. Taking a walk on the wild side. Well, he was up for it. Very up for it.

‘Satie,’ she said with a wan smile, sitting beside him on the sofa. It was not a comfortable sofa though it looked pretty with all these curlicues on the ends.

‘Saddie, yeah. His songs are sad but kind of nice.’

‘It was a year ago Tommy…left.’ She smiled a sad smile at him. ‘You remind me of him.’

‘So you said.’ Eric hoped she wouldn’t talk too long. He was ready to get down to it, before the whisky flowed too much. It was hitting him a bit hard after all those cheap lagers. He should pace himself until they were done. Maybe he could take a bottle with him as a kind of memento. She had plenty to spare. ‘But I want to make you forget all about him.’

Eric moved closer to her on the sofa, leaning in for a kiss. Her lips were surprisingly cold. Well, he could fix that. He set his glass down on the shiny lacquered table. ‘Let’s cuddle, love.’ He slipped his arm around the curve of her waist.

A sudden wave of dizziness fogged his brain. Too much whisky. Tut tut, he didn’t want it to affect his performance. So far all was well downstairs. It had been weeks and he was gagging for it.

‘Tommy always liked it on this sofa,’ she said from somewhere above him. ‘Said it was easy to brace himself on.’

‘Oh yeah, for certain,’ Eric said, hearing his words slur. Christ, he hadn’t had that much. Maybe the good stuff was stronger. He rallied. ‘Let’s get to it and I’ll make you forget everything Tommy ever said.’

‘I can’t forget. I can’t ever forget his cruelty. He hurt me.’

What was her name? Elizabeth, Mary—some name like a queen. ‘Listen, love,’ Eric said then forgot what came next. He slipped onto the floor and stared up at her, eyes goggling. ‘Hey…’

‘Happy anniversary, Tommy,’ she said sitting astride him. ‘You’re going to leave me again, I know. But I have to do it until I get it right.’ She held the knife aloft. It glinted like her eyes.

Eric saw the blade fall but he didn’t really feel anything but wet. Posh birds. You just never knew.

A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Publications include LOVE IS A GRIFT and EXTRICATE from Fox Spirit Books, SATAN’S SORORITY from Fahrenheit 13 Press,  as well as tales in the 2016 Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks and the Anthony Award-nominated Protectors 2: Heroes . Wynd’s stories have been translated into German, Italian, Polish and Slovene. See a full list of stories (including free reads) here. Find Wynd on Facebook and Twitter.

love-is-a-grift

Recommended Read: The Man in the Palace Theater by Ray Garton

Showbiz writer John Bellows has fallen off the grid. He arrives at his old workplace looking distinctly dishevelled and convinces one of his old workmates to accompany him to the run down Palace Theater.

Ray Garton’s The Man In The Palace Theater is splendid. A beautifully written, atmospheric and haunting short story.

The Man In The Place Theatre