In the movie Burn Witch Burn , which was based on CW, the actress with the wild looking eyes could be classified as a femme fatale.
In some markets, Burn Witch Burn is called The Night Of The Eagle, but it's exactly the same movie. As a diehard skeptic, I profoundly disagree with the ethos of this film, but I still regard it as a Surrealist classic, because it's an excellent film about a sane man who suddenly discovers that the world he lives in is raving mad. In which respect it's rather a good primer for fantasy writers, insofar as it deals with a rational man who suddenly has to adjust to the fact that everything he thinks he knows is in fact wrong. Which could make it either a very bad or a very good film. But since a great deal of genuine talent happens to be involved, it's a good film.
And I think it's worth saying again that if you're vaguely aware that an old film called Burn Witch Burn is supposed to be a classic but you can't seem to find it on DVD, The Night Of The Eagle is the exact same movie, depending on which country you live in.
Conjure Wife has been filmed 3 times , Weird Woman(1944) , Burn Witch Burn/Night Of The Eagle(1962) and Witches Brew(1980).
Possibly the most terrifying piece of prose ever written is a book by Lucy Lane Clifford called Anyhow Stories, Moral And Otherwise. The worst thing about it is that it's aimed at small children. I assume it's in the public domain, since it was written in 1882. The whole book is strangely joyless and disturbing, with quite a few completely random deaths, including innocent children the same age as the target audience.
The single worst thing in the book is a story called The New Mother, in which two young children are tricked into misbehaving fairly mildly in circumstances which make absolutely no sense whatsoever, and for this reason are abandoned by their parents to a lifetime of misery and inescapable surreal horror! Apparently you're supposed to read this aloud to five-year-olds after dark. Presumably you then act surprised when they do big jobs in the bed.
See if you can find a copy - it has to be the most inappropriate children's story ever. And the creature mentioned in the title would give H. P. Lovecraft stinkypoo trouserlumps! If David Lynch and Tim Burton somehow managed to breed with each other, their love-child would make this movie.
It's certainly out there if you want it. It's also out there on the web: Weirdfictionreview.com has it; though it's not listed on their main page, a link comes up with a Google search.
BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy (Random House, 1985)
“See the child. He is pale and thin, he wears a thin and ragged linen shirt. He stokes the scullery fire. Outside lie dark turned fields with rags of snow and darker woods beyond that harbor yet a few last wolves. His folk are known for hewers of wood and drawers of water but in truth his father has been a schoolmaster. He lies in drink, he quotes from poets whose names are now lost. The boy crouches by the fire and watches him.”
-- first paragraph
The kid, as he’s known throughout the book, runs away from home at 14-years-of-age. He endures a hard-scrabble life of temporary work merged with splurges of drinking and bouts of violence. By 16-years-of-age he has been stabbed and shot, but recovered and gone on, primed by his experiences to survive and even thrive in the harshness of the world. His future arrives with an offer to ride with Captain White, whose mission is to destroy the Apache bands terrorizing the western territories. When White and his men prove inadequate, the kid meets Glanton and his cohort Judge Holden and the true mission begins.
Dark fiction takes many forms, including the Western. Blood Meridian, dark and vicious, depicts a meaner wild west than we usually see in films and so somehow all the more believable. Unsentimental, as stark as the Old Testament, and, as a blurb by John Banville says on the latest paperback edition, combining The Inferno, The Illiad and Moby Dick, Blood Meridian dramatizes through violent and bloody events the means by which the western territories of the United States were prepared for settlement. And maybe its implications are vaster, supplying an encapsulation of the true nature of the development of the U.S.A. and though told with something like stoicism, the heaping of depictions of the brutalities mankind visits upon itself indicates moral indignation behind the story. This does not keep McCarthy from depicting qualities in his characters that are in themselves admirable (tenacity, toughness, even a qualified and harsh sort of loyalty) while most of the actions of the men are not admirable: We are left to imagine the reasons behind financing Glanton – protection for the settlers and people already living in the territories? a means of making the territories safe for further development and profit? – but whatever the intention greed and racial hatred lead to slaughter.
The book explores the landscape of the southwest into Mexico as the gang tracks the Apaches, and while the telling is intense it occasionally displays a caustic humor. An enemy attack disperses and mostly kills Captain White’s army. The kid escapes intact along with Sproule, who is badly wounded:
“[Sproule] was coughing again. He held his chest with his good hand and sat as if he’d get his breath.
“What have you got, a cold?
“I got consumption.
“He nodded. I come out here for my health.”
This is not exactly a horror novel, though it certainly contains horrors enough and has been adopted by the horror community as one of those rare novels written by someone outside that community that they cherish. (Note that McCarthy later embraced other genres in No Country for Old Men and The Road.) It is also not fantasy, though McCarthy taps into the tone of mythic story-telling familiar in American literature at least since Mark Twain and extended by William Faulkner into the 20th century, at one point offering a story within the story that mixes the tall tale with a quest through the desert rivaling Tolkein’s journey through Mordor, his character Judge Holden bigger than life and in deed fit company for John Henry or Paul Bunyon. Judge Holden, based on a historical figure, is a giant, broader than and towering over other men; he is an intellectual, widely-read and apt to quote or summarize as he shares his philosophy. And he is one of the great villains in American literature, his perspective and sense of self neatly summarized when he is asked why he keeps a journal in which he records those things that are new to him: “Whatever exists, he said. Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.”
For anyone who enjoys dark fiction Blood Meridian is a dense, layered novel. It is powerful and at times repulsive, but there is a certainty behind the telling that convinces the reader this could well be the true story of how the west was won and how the men who won it felt and thought and acted.
Dark and non-supernatural
[I'm having some trouble getting the forum and thread searches to work. You may have to scroll down to "Scary Human Tricks."]
Next: The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore
Last edited by Randy M.; October 16th, 2012 at 05:27 PM.
The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore (Pegasus Crime, 2012; first published by Farrar & Rinehart, 1933; Included in Horror: The 100 Best Books ed. by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman)
“Where shall I begin my tale?
“This one has neither beginning nor end, but only perpetual unfolding, a multi-petaled blossom of strange botany.”
-- first paragraphs
The Werewolf of Paris follows two main story lines, the first a psychological portrait of Bertrand, whose mother was raped by a priest one of whose direct ancestors had been degraded and tortured into a bestial madman. Bertrand finds himself the victim of unconquerable urges, perhaps inherited, slowly becoming aware of the extent of his obsession and struggling to fight or control it with limited success. Endore follows him from a boy to a young man who runs to Paris and joins the National Guard, and even falls in love.
The other story line follows Aymar, Bertrand’s adopted uncle, who struggles between helping him and revealing his secret. Taking place just before and during the time of the Paris Commune, Endore’s novel contrasts the behavior and deeds of one luckless man against the brutality and cruelty of a social structure and a good portion of the novel’s impact stems from Endore’s portrayal of Aymar moving among the Paris elite. Once a Revolutionary, now pursuing Bertrand in hope of stopping his crimes, Aymar is in position to meet former colleagues and their friends, among them a judge who radiates good will until defendants demonstrate that they do not know which laws attach to which citations; a lawyer who shows Aymar how to circumvent the law; a priest who tells him he could never be a priest – the church would not allow someone physically defective (Aymar has a limp from a war injury) to lead a Mass – but also explains a method for in essence buying priesthood; and a band of scientists devoted to expanding the Parisian palette during this time of siege and turmoil.
The Werewolf of Paris, from all accounts was quite popular when published. And why not? It features sex, rape, murder, cannibalism, incest, duplicity, love, more sex, honor and near-genocide, all the ingredients for a best-seller. This is horror as social satire, still Endore neither sacrifices Bertrand’s story to the needs of the satire nor skimps on establishing the parallels between one man’s lycanthropy and the behavior of mobs and, for that matter, of an entire society.
One note on that point: This is horror in the post-"Turn of the Screw" mold. Endore does not quite commit to a true physical change; Bertrand’s mood changes and his compulsion overtakes him, but Endore never describes him as physically transforming. He does, however, sometimes allude to the possibility as when, for instance, a hunter shoots at what he believes in the dark of night to be a wolf and the next day Aymar has to dig a bullet out of Bertrand’s leg.
I read this so many years ago that I had forgotten most of it. And I am bemused that it has fallen out of print so often and for such long stretches of time since it's every bit as good as Dracula. This is another novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. Read it soon before it disappears again and for who knows how many years.
More of interest: Werewolf Anthology
(you'll probably need to scroll down to post #4)
Different war, different horror:
“The Wide, Carnivorous Sea” by John Langan (you'll probably need to scroll down to post #44)
Graham Joyce: “Leningrad Nights” (from Partial Eclipse and Other Stories, 2003; also in Binary 1, 2000; and Foursight, 2000)
Connie Willis: “Jack” (from Impossible Things, 1999; also in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women, 2001)
Other transformation horror:
“Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Note: Since the upgrade I've had some trouble with the "Search thread" function finding ... well, anything. From here on links to other SFFWorld pages may be less precise, more "It's in the general vicinity."
Next: Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
Last edited by Randy M.; October 16th, 2012 at 05:43 PM.
Randy . Have you read The Undying Monster by Jessie Douglas Kerruish? This is one of the best werewolf novels ive ever read. It has a thousand year old curse , vikings , a 16th century warlock and mysterious hidden rooms. If you have a kindle you can download it at amazon for $1.95. "Where grow pines and firs amain , Under stars , sans heat or rain , Chief of Hammand , 'ware thy bane!"
I'll see what I can find. It sounds interesting.
Among other books on the shelf I have Glen Duncan's The Last Werewolf, Thomas Tessier's The Nightwalker and H. Warner Munn's The Werewolf of Ponkert. I can't say that I've ever really searched for werewolf novels, but the Endore and the one I'll post about presently were so entertaining that I may read at least one of these in the near future.
SHARP TEETH by Toby Barlow (Harper Perennial, 2009; first published in UK, 2007, and in US by HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)
Werewolves in packs
A love story
A cop on the trail
A crime boss
A novel written in free verse.
A quick description makes you think it shouldn’t work. But it does. When you get past the verse layout, Sharp Teeth reads like a good crime story by someone like Elmore Leonard or Lawrence Block. The novel mainly follows Lark, the leader of a pack, and some members of his pack, showing how Lark thinks, how he keeps the pack together and in harmony, and what a pack does to prosper and remain secret in a world of men. What I found appealing, though, was how many of the characters, major and minor, Barlow gave interior lives – it’s not all about action, sometimes the characters think, and Barlow is very good at presenting those thoughts in concise, memorable lines:
Pg.65: Anthony contemplating the woman who is briefly called Betty,
“Morning and she’s sitting in the bright kitchen
wearing his robe, stirring her tea.
How is it? How is this so? How is she here?
Her body worn delicious in exhaustion,
wrapped in wisps of his scent.
But wondering how long it can last.
We are all china barely mended,
clumsily glued together
for the hot water and lemon
to seep through our seams.”
Pg85: Bone thinking about his night with Sasha,
“Bone almost wishes she hadn’t been there.
It’s like she only came into his world
to show him how empty it would be
Pg92: “Betty” while driving,
“In the car, the rap song has every other word beeped out
as if the small words themselves were a dangerous thing, and not
the ideas of violence and waste and ridiculous luxury
that the songs clutch in their rough embrace.
Everyone is always looking in the wrong direction,
we worry about our lovers while losing our jobs
we stress out about cancer while our children run away
we ponder the stars while burning the earth.
Lark used to say the bullet we’re running from
is almost never the one that hits us.”
Sharp Teeth leans more toward dark fantasy than horror, and the thought behind it is even somewhat science fictional in its working out of the dynamics of lycanthropy in the contemporary world. While a few scenes are grisly, the overall impact comes from examining the intersection of humanity and werewolf, pack and larger society, particularly criminal society, and can be seen as an alternate perspective on what Guy Endore created in The Werewolf of Paris. The novel could have become allegorical of gang life and warfare, and there certainly is that looming in the background, but over and again, Barlow suppresses that reading by sounding the grace note that makes a short-term character more real, that appeals to some common humanity beneath the fur, while still making it clear that there are hard times coming and not all the characters will survive. And while the real pleasure of the book for me stems from Barlow’s insight into character, the final meeting between enemy packs and the individual confrontations that result round off the story neatly and more than satisfactorily.
Other recent werewolves:
“Boobs” by Suzy McKee Charnas
“The Revel” by John Langan
(You'll have to scroll down to find the messages, numbers 12 and 3, respectively.)
Next: American Morons by Glen Hirshberg
talking of werewolves, I'm about 2/3rds into Wolfsangel by M.D. Lachlan. It's quite good, after a hesitant start, set in the Viking era (probably 8th or 9th century). I'm not sure it can be considered horror, but there is a lot of supernatural stuff about Norse Gods and mystics / witches. The werewolf part is subtly done, never stating clearly how the rnasformation occurs, and insisting on the psychological change rather than on the anatomical aspects.