Hey everyone, Dragon Con is upon us and I will not be posting any updates for the next few days. Dreadpunk.com will resume sometime next week.
Thanks for reading!
ITV’s Jekyll & Hyde
Gothic (or at least Gothic-inspired) horror is still on the upswing when it comes to television.
Newly announced is Brides of Dracula, which has been given a pilot production commitment by NBC. I find this interesting as it’s NBC’s second attempt in three years at mining the Dracula mythos for an ongoing series. This potential new series speculates on what might have happened had the brides survived their run-in with Van Helsing. What intrigues me about Brides of Dracula is that it’s being co-written and co-produced by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. If you’re unfamiliar with that name, Aguirre-Sacasa is the writer of the incredible Afterlife With Archie comic. Of course, a pilot commitment is no guarantee that Brides of Dracula will get picked up, but Afterlife with Archie is so damn good that I’m willing to give this the benefit of the doubt if it makes it to air. Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Supergirl) will co-write and co-produce. (Source: Shock Till You Drop. Shout out to Spencer Perry!)
As for a series that is definitely on the way, ITV will begin airing Jekyll & Hyde on an as-yet unspecified date. Written by Charlie Higson, Jekyll & Hyde will focus on Henry Jekyll’s grandson who has inherited the Mr. Hyde “curse.” Set in the 1930’s, this looks to be a pulp take on the material, with Mr. Hyde battling other monsters. Tom Bateman stars in the titular roles. Could be fun. (Source: CultBox, Evening Standard)
Speaking of Dr. Jekyll, Shazad Latif has been announced as horror’s most famous split personality on Penny Dreadful. I’ve given my opinion before on why I wish that Penny Dreadful would avoid Dr. Jekyll, but I’m sure Latif will be great regardless. Also of interest is the news that Patti LuPone will return as a series regular next season. LuPone was fantastic as the Cut-Wife; oddly, she’ll be playing Dr. Seward next season. THAT’S interesting (and cool… I have no problem with the gender flip). (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)
And finally, Fox’s upcoming series The Frankenstein Code has been renamed Lookinglass. This is a contemporary action series about a crusty old cop whose brain is put into the body of a man in the prime of his life. I was as confused as anyone that this was somehow inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic (then again, I give Frankenstein Conquers the World a free pass). I watched the trailer and it could be a fun show, but (smartly) dropping “Frankenstein” from the title means that this will likely be the only time I’ll mention it on this blog. (Source: Entertainment Weekly)
Director Wes Craven passed away on Sunday at the age of 76. Although his work falls outside the parameters of this blog, I wanted to take a moment and send my condolences to his family and friends.
Although his career in horror started with the grungy Last House on the Left, Craven’s work came to typify mainstream ’80’s and ’90’s horror. Some elitists may turn their noses up at the “mainstream,” but Craven’s films served as a gateway for a lot of budding horror fans — especially at a time when options were limited. The popularity of Craven’s creations — especially Freddy Krueger — made horror accessible to a large audience. I know, because I was one of those kids.
While I love his more storied films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, I’m also a fan of the cheesetastic Shocker. Shocker starred Mitch Pileggi in an early role as Horace Pinker, an electricity-themed serial killer who Craven hoped would rival Freddy Krueger. It fell short of its goal, but it’s an entertaining slice of late ’80’s horror. The soundtrack was an attempt at uniting the horror and heavy metal scenes; if you ever want to hear Mitch “FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner” Pileggi sing with Alice Cooper and rapping, seek it out.
I always got the impression that Craven was uncomfortable being pigeonholed as “a horror director,” but he always seemed to handle it with grace. He’s someone I always hoped to meet, but I’ll always have his cinematic legacy. Rest in peace.
I didn’t mean for this blog to be dominated by birthday announcements as of late, but this is one I cannot fail to mention: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born August 30, 1797. While she wrote many things, her best known work is, of course, Frankenstein. Frankenstein is my favorite novel, with the Monster being my favorite fictional being of all time.
While Frankenstein is a novel of ideas, I must admit that my love of it would probably be seen as superficial by many scholarly (and wannabe scholarly) types. I love the novel because it perfectly depicts the emotions of alienation; even its melodramatic aspects enhance that. Frankenstein is my The Catcher in the Rye.
Possibly because I love the story on a visceral rather than intellectual level, I’m not snooty about it. Like many people, my first exposure to the Monster was through the imagery spawned by Boris Karloff’s version. While Mary Shelley’s original, eloquent version of the Monster is my favorite incarnation, I love a lot of the “pop culture Frankenstein” depictions. James Whale’s Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein rank high in my mind, with Bride possibly being my favorite movie of all time — proof that terrible adaptations do not necessarily equal terrible films. I’m one of the few who will cop to liking Kenneth Branagh’s version with Robert De Niro.
But the best adaptation of the character I love is Rory Kinnear’s Caliban on Penny Dreadful. The show modified the Monster’s back story, but emotionally, Kinnear nails it every time he is on screen. I like to think he’s doing Shelley proud.
There’s been debate over whether Frankenstein is horror or science fiction. I think that the novel’s status as science fiction is overstated since Victor Frankenstein was a student of the occult, and the Monster’s actual creation is vague. While depicting the creation makes for some great movie imagery, the specifics are beside the point of the novel.
Oh, and it doesn’t bother me that people mistakenly call the Monster “Frankenstein.” I take the approach that children often take their father’s surnames. Besides, there are much more important things in the world to get agitated about.
At any rate… thank you, Mary Shelley.
Hey, what else needs to be said?
Tim Burton was born on August 25, 1958. While I have said ad nauseam that I have conflicted feelings towards his output over the past few years, the simple fact is that I wouldn’t care if I didn’t love his best work. This blog is testament to that; I doubt it would exist if not for his movies. Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, Vincent… these films are coded deep in my DNA. So thank you, Monsieur Burton, for all the hours of entertainment you’ve given me, as well as helping show that “spooky” is viable in the mainstream. I just hope that nobody minds that I swiped that photo.
Last month, I reported that Tom Mison from Sleepy Hollow would be attending Atlanta’s Dragon Con over Labor Day weekend. Today they announced that the show’s other lead, Nicole Beharie, will be joining him.
That’s what one calls a “pleasant surprise.” I knew about Mison for a few weeks before he was officially announced, but I found out about Beharie like everyone else. But I shouldn’t be too surprised, since Sleepy Hollow is now filming in the Metro Atlanta area.
Still, really cool and I look forward to meeting both actors, in addition to (former) co-star John Noble and make-up artist Corey Castellano.
I know, more shilling for my Dragon Con stuff. But I hope that some of this blog’s readers will be joining us.
Just a quick heads-up, there’s a cool interview with William Meikle titled “The Horror of Holmes” over at the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere blog. Meikle’s primary contributions to Sherlockiana have been stories juxtaposing the Great Detective with the occult— basically, think The Hound of the Baskervilles, but with an actually supernatural explanation. He’s also written stories about William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost Finder and contributed to the upcoming Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories. One day, there will be a Mammoth Book of Dreadpunk. Or not. But that goal was, weirdly enough, an inspiration for this blog’s existence.
Just a heads up that with Dragon Con on the horizon, posts may slow down a bit. Don’t worry — the blog is still very much active, but I’ll be pretty busy. Of course, if something major comes up, I’ll be sure to mention it.
Thanks for all of the support!
H.P. Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 20, 1890. There have been countless words written about him, both good and bad, and I certainly have nothing “scholarly” to add to the discussion. But while I prefer Gothic horror to cosmic horror, it’s hard to argue that there’s a big Cthulhu-shaped shadow looming over my pop culture DNA.
The first time I heard about H.P. Lovecraft was in Daniel Cohen’s book Everything You Need To Know About Monsters & Still Be Able To Get To Sleep. I read a lot of Daniel Cohen’s work as a kid, and Everything… was just one of his many books on monsters and the unusual. The last chapter was a miscellany of things that didn’t fit anywhere else in the book. When I read the sentence, “Lovecraft’s mythical world is filled with dark forces, monsters, ancient gods, and demons,” I knew I wanted in on that action.
Those of us who were alive in the 1980’s knew that books were not as readily available as they are today. If you wanted a book, you had to go to the library or the bookstore. Maybe you could order it. One day I found Del Rey’s Best of H.P. Lovecraft at my local Waldenbooks (remember Waldenbooks?), and it will never leave my collection. Michael Whelan’s cover art promised something a little weirder than the average pop-horror of the day — and “weird” it certainly was.
While he doesn’t have the presence in Lovecraft’s fiction that marketing would have you believe, Cthulhu is a convenient shorthand for irrational, cosmic horror. I’ve said that “Cthulhu is zombies for hipsters” because secular audiences have a desire to give shape to the apocalypse, and the saturation of zombies has caused them to lose their shock value. Cthuloid imagery roils just beneath the surface of the mainstream, waiting for just the right project to summon it.
“Iä! Iä ! Cthulhu fhtagn!”
Do you like puppetry? Do you like Gothic horror? Of course you do, you are reading Dreadpunk.com. Director Kevin McTurk’s The Mill at Calder’s End was just brought to my attention, and it’s the very type of thing that this blog was created to celebrate. This short film will be screening as part of the Dragon Con Independent Film Festival’s Gothic Horror block, currently scheduled to kick off September 5th at 7:00 PM EST.
The Mill at Calder’s End is a production of The Spirit Cabinet. I intend to be promoting the hell out of their work.