Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey!

Edward Gorey, an American writer and artist, was born in Chicago on February 22, 1925. He is perhaps best known for his many delightfully dark illustrated books, which have attained somewhat of a cult status. He also created the animated introduction to the PBS series, Mystery, in 1980, and designed the sets and costumes for the 1977 broadway production of Dracula, starring Frank Langella, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Costume Design and was nominated for Best Scenic Design.

Erudite and charmingly eccentric, Edward Gorey was known for having both a profound love of cats, of which he had many, and the ballet, which he attended regularly. He was also a shameless fan of popular culture and had a particular fondness for dark genre series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman: The Animated Series, and The X-Files.

Upon his death, on April 15, 2000, he left the bulk of his estate to a charitable trust for cats, dogs, bats and insects. His home in Cape Cod, called the Elephant House, is now the Edward Gorey House Museum, and continues to support his work for animal welfare.

Google have commemorated the 88th anniversary of Edward Gorey's birth with a Google Doodle!

 I'd also like to wish a very Happy Birthday to my son, James, who just happens to share his special day with Mr Gorey!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bela Lugosi was My Date for the Vampire's Day Soiree!

The cast of Dracula prepare for the soiree! 

During the post-Christmas sales, I was lucky enough to snap up the Blu-ray set of Universal Monsters - The Essential Collection at a bargain price. Those wonderful, old creature features never seem to be shown on Australian TV these days, so I'm really looking forward to enjoying a weekly monster movie with my family over the next 8 weeks. The first disc was the 1931 film, Dracula, and serendipitously, watching it has coincided with this year's Vampire's Day Soiree, hosted by Holly's Horrorland.

First of all, it has to be said, that this early incarnation of Dracula, directed by Tod Browning, and starring Bela Lugosi as the title character, is highly unlikely to terrify a contemporary audience. As we watched, my husband and I used the opportunity to explain to our son just how old the movie was and pointed out that certain effects, and some of the exaggerated and melodramatic gestures and expressions of the actors, were a hangover from the era of silent films.

The point of watching this version of Dracula is not to scare yourself silly, but to appreciate the artistry and legacy of this classic of both its era and the horror genre. The sets and cinematography are beautiful, ranging from haunting to stylish, and certain scenes are genuinely creepy and disturbing. The Blu-ray edition has been re-mastered in high definition, so the picture quality is amazing.

In spite of the fact that they have little screen time and no dialogue, the imagery of Dracula's brides is particularly evocative and powerful. My father had a book on the history of vampires that was filled with screenshots from vampire movies and I would examine it endlessly as a child. I distinctly recall being both frightened and mesmerized by the photograph of the brides in Dracula's crypt.  

Being Batman fans, my husband, son and I knew that comic book artist and writer, Bob Kane, had cited Dracula as one of his influences in the creation of the Caped Crusader, but we let out a collective gasp when we saw the bat graphics in the opening credits of the film. I discovered a blog, called Cinema Styles, that has removed the titles from the image so we are able to get a better look at the bat illustration underneath.

And finally, I'll leave you with the cutest and kookiest moment of the movie, when, as the sun sets and Dracula awakens in his crypt, a wasp/bee emerges from its own little coffin.

I'd like to thank you so much for joining me for the Vampire's Day Soiree and if you would care to mingle with the other guests, just stroll on over to Holly's Horrorland.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vampire's Day Soiree

The delightfully dark Holly, of Holly's Horrorland blog, is hosting the second annual Vampire's Day Soiree on February 14, 2013. If such a sanguinary affair sounds like just your cup of plasma, come along and join in on all the blood-soaked merrymaking!

For more details just click on the link, or on the button in the sidebar.