Archive for September, 2009

A SALUTE TO MY FRIENDS UP NORTH

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN

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I grew up in a suburb of Bankstown in New South Wales, Australia. My fondest memories of childhood, however, were those Autumn holiday trips up north. Every year my dad would travel further and further up north until he came to Iluka, in NSW. My parents fell in love with this wonderful fishing village and, when they retired, that’s where they moved to.

Nowadays my youngest sister lives at Maclean, not far from Iluka. She is married with three kids that are not really kids any more. One will some day soon become a primary school teacher.

In my novels and short stories the Clarence River area of New South Wales gets some mention. It remains a beautiful part of my home state and I can’t see this changing much in the future. Look for references to Maclean, Iluka, Yamba and the Clarence River region in Disco Evil, Ghost Dance, and Desk Job. My latest work, Desk Job, is my salute to Lewis Carroll.

And speaking of up north, I have friends in Scotland and also in the USA. Hence Scotland and the USA also feature in my writing. I visited the USA way back in the ’70s so I do have some personal experiences there. Mind you I have friends in the USA who do tend to keep me up to day as much as news reports, fresh new novels by American writers, and the internet. And my Scottish friends do keep me informed of what is happening in Britain.

LOTS OF NEWS AROUND BUT NOT MUCH INFORMATION

Posted in Australia, Night to Dawn author, set in Australia, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
The art you see in these postings I created!

THE MEDIA SHOULD AND CAN DO BETTER

Even today it is hard to believe how badly the world’s media let us down when it came to what was and what was not going on in Iraq before the start up of the Iraqi War. Where were the weapons of mass destruction? There were perhaps more legitimate reasons for taking over Afghanistan.

Much of what passes for news on television is fluff. If a big story breaks it is usually given five minutes or less coverage. If we are luck a show such as A Current Affair or Today Tonight might pick it up and run with it giving further information.

There is sometimes misinformation and one has to wonder just how deliberate this misinformation happens to be. In December in 2011 a show I won’t name on television put across the outrageous notion that Muslims and Jews living in Australia were all for banning Santa Claus. This did not impress the general Christian community. As it turned out, neither the Muslim community nor the Jewish community were in favor of such a ban. It was just a political correctness scam, a bad joke, a beat up for ratings. How much harm it did or could have done to the Muslim and Jewish communities living in Australia we will never know. As for it being news, it was the worst kind of garbage.

News papers and news centers in Australia and elsewhere in the world are cutting back on investigative reporters. This means that more and more information on world events will come from government hand outs. This means we will be relying more and more on the honesty of world governments and also on the honesty of more localized governments. This would be good if we could always rely on their honesty.

But who then speaks for the ordinary bloke on the street when the government is not acting in his best interests? Why should the government, any government remain honest when they have the only voice on an issue, any issue? More and more we need the media to be up and running and doing its job properly. We need investigators with savvy. We need someone who can keep the bastards honest as the Democrats once claimed to be able to do.

A VISUAL WRITER!

Posted in Australia, desk job, Great Britain, horror writer, Marvel Comics, Night to Dawn author, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
Black and white television

Television Science Fiction such as Doctor Who first appeared in black an white

I am very much a visual writer. Check out  http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

I grew up on Marvel Comics during the Silver Age of American Comic Books. This was the swinging sixties. It was the time when Britain rocked to the sounds of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. It was the time when most guys under thirty had long hair or wanted to have long hair.

In the early sixties the main stream American comic books showed their loyalty to the USA by their support of the Vietnam War. It was a case of the democratic people of the world versus those dastardly commies. By the late sixties going into the ’70s, however, there had been a change. The USA was desperate for peace and the commies might not be so bad after all. The mainstream comic book companies had be led down a more moderate path by the fringe comics, the comic books not considered mainstream. They marked their difference from the mainstream by referring to themselves as comix rather than comic books.

Meanwhile there was the mini car together with the mini-skirt coming out of Britain. Women were definitely wearing the mini-skirts to  shopping and to the cinema in summer in Australia. They were also, more and more, wearing bikinis along Australian beaches. The German beetle was actually more popular in Australia then the mini because of its sturdiness and reliability.

Surfing took off big in the sixties. With it came an interest in places such as Bali and Hawaii that had beaches at least as good as the ones in Australia. Surf movies also took off.

My first car was a Morris 1500. It was old but faithful. It took me places. In thinking about what to call one of my cats in my novel Desk Job, the thought of this car came back to me and so the cat became Sir Morris.

One of the Australian programs of the time that used to make me smile was Skippy. It was about a bush kangaroo that could do amazing things. Of  course I knew straight off about the fantasy elements of the show (a kangaroo just doesn’t have paws suitable for untying rope) but that was half the fun. Another thing was that you got to see the Australian bush on your tele in color wrapped around a good adventure. Skippy also did well overseas.

Of the overseas television programs around I was most fond of Doctor Who (Britain) and Star Trek (USA). Strangely enough, I am still a big Doctor Who and Star Trek fan. Doctor Who started out in black and white and moved to color sometime in the ’70s with the third Doctor. Star Trek was always in color but I hadn’t noticed this at first since I was watching it on a black and white tele. My family only got a color tele in the mid ’70s.

Of the novels I have read over the last four or so decades the ones that impress me most have had either an historical, science fiction, or fantasy. Presently my all time favorite writer is Terry Pratchett who is very much a visual novelist.

THE OFFICE CONTINUES TO BE A MOST CURIOUS PLACE!

Posted in art, Australia, Butterflies, desk job, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Moths, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, set in Australia, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
CREATURES OF THE NIGHT!

THERE ARE STILL WARRIOR WOMEN AND PRAYING MANTISES AROUND!

The office, indeed, continues to be a most curious place. In the first decade of the 21st Century computers have grown up. The screens are less bulky than they were in the mid-1990s. In some offices access to the internet is essential for up to date reasearch.

Whether an office worker has much of a life while alive in this first decade remains debatable. In some offices in the USA coffee breaks and toilet breaks came to be clocked and in other wats monitored. Any worker spending too much time with one or the other could either get demoted or sacked. Medical conditions, of course, were taken into consideration. Clocking office workers in this way by management in Australia was considered but generally rejected as a practice.

Back in the first ten years of the 21st Century there were call centers operating in New South Wales, Australia. Much of this work has moved overseas to places such as India and Pakistan. where they can be run more cheaply. By this period of time not much remained of the clothing manufacturing industry that showed so much promise in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Once it was the wool trade that kept the country economically viable. Today, in 2012, it is mining. This trend toward mining becoming so very important was noticeable in the early years of the 21st Century. Now, more than a decade after 2001, it looks like the mining boom is petering out. I cannot say what it will be replaced by if it peters out too much but it will then have to be replaced by something.

Today, in too many offices in major cities, there are still praying mantises doing their thing along with butterflies and moths. In too many work venues, including banking, there are caterpillars puffing away on their water pipes. In the better run establishments, of course, hawks run the business without the necessity of a caterpillar. Oh and you will occasionally meet a warrior woman with some substance along with a dung beetle of no substance whatsoever and that rareset of all creatures, a mule with wings.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

A STRANGER TO THE 21st CENTURY

Posted in Australia, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
VAMPYRE

BRONZE AGE GODS MAY NOT BE SUITABLE

Here, in the 21st Century, when even the United Nations  must acknowledge the fact that the world is being overpopulated with humans, the God or gods of a much earlier age may not be so good for humanity.

There was a time when humanity was in danger of becoming extinct due to lack of numbers. There was a time when just one plague would have been enough to have wiped out humanity in its entirety. Of course we are no longer at that point in time. We haven’t been at that point, in fact, in quite a few centuries.

At the time the Old Testament was first written there was the possibility that the Jewish faith might come to an end. Numbers had to be kept up to prevent this from happening plus ways of keeping the faith even in captivity.

In the first one hundred years of Christianity it would have been possible to have wiped out the whole of the Christian population in one concentrated swoop. Christians were persecuted and thus their numbers had to be kept up but their wasn’t the sort of concentrated swoop that would have done the job.

In the early years of the Muslim faith there was persecution of Muslims so their numbers had to be kept up if their faith was to survive.

Today none of the religions that either came out of the Bronze Age and/or Iron Age owe some of their understanding of faith to Bronze Age thinking (Christianity may have begun well after the Bronze Age but the Old Testament, a viable part of the overall Bible, comes from that period) are in danger of going extinct from lack of numbers. Even so, there is that message of being fruitful and multiplying.

Today humans throughout the world need to be cautious as to how much they are indeed fruitful and indeed do multiply. The danger today is not in lack of numbers as in the past but in the opposite, too many numbers.

FEAR OF THE WILD PLACES!

Posted in Australia, Great Britain, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Romance, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
VAMPYRE

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN AWAY FROM THE TOWNS AND CITIES!

In Medieval times people took comfort in their villages, towns and cities. The forests and the wilderness in general were viewed as the places most likely to harbor the supernatural. Witches tended to live on the outskirts of towns and villages where they could practice their dark arts in secret. Sounds came out of the forests,  swamps and mountain sides that were peculiar to those areas and thus alien and frightening to people. Even the roads around and through these places were considered unsafe. Sometimes for good reason they were considered to be the haunts of highwaymen.

When Europeans came to America it was to either plunder her riches or to push back the wilderness to turn the wild into what they saw to be civilization. Axes felled trees, villages and towns went up and so did cities. This pattern was repeated in Australia and New Zealand.

It wasn’t until the 19th Century that people in Britain and then the USA, Australia and New Zealand came to realize that there was, indeed, beauty to be found in the wild places that still existed. This was an unexpected offshoot of the Industrial Revolution that swept the western world.

The British Romantics, who were appalled by the ugliness of gray skies caused by great smoke stacks, slag heaps, and general pollution and squalor of their day, looked to areas that were still free of such things. Transportation to such areas became better and cheaper. There was travel by rail and also by bicycle.  By the end of the first decade of the 20th Century, it was possible for ordinary people to own cars. It was also possible to own cameras and thus family photos of visits to such places also became possible.

It was because of this interest, first generated by Romantics and then bolstered by ordinary people, that it was possible for first private interests and then governments to set aside wilderness land for preservation. Thus in the USA  Yellowstone National Park came into being and, in New South Wales, Australia the Royal National Park was founded.

THE TERRORS OF THE NIGHT

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, horror writer, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, pulp fiction writer, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
VAMPYRE

VAMPIRE!

In Magazines such as Barbara Custer’s Night to Dawn there are tales that mostly take place at night. There you will also find the kind of nightly terrors that have been with humanity for centuries.

One of the oldest of the night terrors is the vampire. It has been suggested to me that the male of the species began his run in Ancient Egypt. Certainly the female is best known in Eastern Europe and it was only in the 19th Century that the male began to become popular as a fictional horror in Europe.

The werewolf was always male and the first signs of the female of the species came about in the 20th Century.

The vampire was a more persuasive evil and the werewolf was more or less an out-of-control creature, as much a victim of wrong doing as he was a victimizer.

Since the 19th Century, male vampires have walked the earth and certainly in the 20th Century there have been  packs of female werewolves on the hunt in such places as the somewhat ill-conceived Howling movie series and the much better orchestrated Ginger Snaps series.

Nevertheless, tradition in our Judaic-Christian world has it that females are more likely to bare the fangs to drink blood whereas males are more likely to bare fangs to rip flesh apart. To discover just how this came about and why things changed a journey back through time is required – a journey hazardous and filled with much horror both real and imagined.

Possibly the earliest story with the female menace takes place in the biblical Garden of Eden. To celebrate the coming of Adam and Eve to this very special place, God has invited all the truly important angels to a grand party. All are invited, that is, save one who takes the slight very much to heart. She doesn’t say anything to God but bides her time. She will have her revenge.

Soon after the party, the serpent and the apple incident occurs. Adam and Eve are thus banished from the garden and, some time later, the vindictive angel, whom we must now consider to be fallen and thus a demon makes her move. One of the daughters of Eve is seduced by a very special kiss and reciprocates. And, by reciprocating, this daughter of Eve becomes the first official vampire.

Why did it have to be a daughter rather than a son of Eve who reciprocated? The answer is somewhat unpleasant in that it is couched in male ego and general lack of faith in the overall goodness of the female.

The idea that women are spiritually weaker than men and are thus more likely to fall to temptation has its ludicrous aspects in today’s world. It was, however, strongly believed by our ancestors. Proof of this can be read in The Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer) of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger (modern translation by the reverend Montague Summers, Dover publications, New York, 1971 edition). First published in Europe around 1486, this work for three centuries became the standard legal document on the way witch hunters and court judges were to seek out and deal with witchcraft. Thanks to The Malleus Maleficarum and other similar writings, more women were suspected, persecuted, prosecuted, tortured and burnt than men for crimes it would have been impossible for them to have actually committed.

Also, there is a stronger connection between bad blood in the female than in the male. In the days when hygiene was neither well considered nor well practiced, too many young women did not survive their first menstrual cycle. Living in filthy conditions, they died of diseases that we presently would consider highly preventable. Certainly, in quite a few cases, a little soap and water would have done wonders. All this seems so very far away from us now but, in some parts of Europe, menstruation is still referred to as Eve’s Blight and is held up as evidence of the female’s guilt in our collective fall from grace. For most of us, however, science has convinced us over the centuries that the monthly bleeding is natural and proper rather than vile and wicked. Still, in the 19th Century, the spread of venereal disease in England, also something to do with the blood, was most firmly blamed on female prostitutes plying their trade rather than their roving male clients.

 In the West in the 1920s, during the Jazz age, a new, exciting breed of woman emerged which would challenge much of what has come before. They were young, independent and not afraid to go after the things they wanted in life. They wore black make-up, dressed in black leather and called themselves Vamps. The Vamp was obviously short for Vampire since they did, for the most part; think of themselves as female night creatures. They frowned upon the traditional woman’s role and made the night clubs of Europe and the USA their own.

Nowadays they are best remembered through the marvelous period photographs of German photographer Manray. Their fiery spirit, however, lives on and is appreciated in the present day female Goth and in the continuing appeal of D. C. Comics’ Catwoman –  the latter coming into existence in the 1940s and going strong ever.

During the 1960s, the live action Batman series, starring Adam West, often had as guest villain the Catwoman. She was first played by Julie Newmar who, incidentally, had earlier acted the role of a cat transformed by magic into a woman in the television series Bewitched. Being a cat seemed to come natural to Newmar and the black glittery jump suit she wore suited her well. There was something wonderful in the way she teased the somewhat stuck-up and pretentious Batman. Never quite evil but never really good, she was, as she is today, somewhat of an enigma.

The first feline to star in a Batman movie was Lee Meriwether who toyed wonderfully with West’s Batman in very much the tradition established by Newmar. And, like Newmar, she had long sexy legs and could really move.

In the 1992 hit, Batman Returns, Michelle Pfeifer lends both vigor and substance to the Catwoman, thus reinvigorating and reinventing her for a new generation of fans. This time the costume is more leathery black than glittery, like the Vamps of the 1920s, and the whip much more prominent. She is less playful but, when she does play, there is that element of wonderful danger in her doing so. Pfeifer as the cat is just as likely, for example, to lick Batman’s face as try to claw him to death.

Halle Berry, who stars in Catwoman (2004), very much blends all that had come before her in her portrait of a human cat yet, at the same time, she is quite rightly her own feline. She has the playfulness of Newmar and Meriwether and, at the same time, the elements of unpredictability that made Pfeifer’s night creature so captivating. New is the element of destiny connected with the ancient cat worship of the Egyptians and with the notion that there had been catwomen before and that it is an ongoing thing. Also, unlike earlier cats, she does, at last, have superhuman abilities. She can, for example, land on her feet after being pushed from a balcony just like a real feline.

Why then has the Catwoman proved herself to be such a continuing force in the world of fiction? Could it be that, since the wolf is related to the dog, the cat is more of a tease to, and a menace to, the male of the species than the female vampire? There was a Batgirl in West’s Batman series but, despite a tight outfit and a come-hither smile, she didn’t prove to be as popular with the fans as the various incarnations of Catwoman. Why was this? Perhaps she was simply too much of a goody-two-shoes and also too much of a girl and not enough of a woman with all the complications that implies – the complications that could be seen in the 1920s Vamp.

The oldest known story of Lycanthropy, or wolfish behavior by a man-creature, is the cautionary children’s classic Little Red Riding Hood. Here a talking wolf eats a little girl and her grandma. He does this through cunning as well as violence. The consumed pair are eventually rescued when a woodsman slices the wolf’s stomach open thus releasing them. Somehow the wolf survives this gutting and, as a final act of revenge upon the creature, the woodsman fills its stomach with rocks, sews them into place and throws the now very unfortunate beast into a nearby stream where it frowns.

There are numerous reasons why the werewolf came about and why he continues to play such an active role in our collective imagination. It is known, for example, that in many parts of the world, during the stone age and beyond, men were want to dress in animal fur to hunt wild game. The choice of fur was usually that of an animal admired for its ability to perform well in bringing down its prey. The psychology behind this is simple, effective and is still practiced, in numerous ways, in various societies to this very day. In donning a wolf skin, for example, the hunter becomes imbued with the spirit of the wolf and thus becomes a more cunning and resourceful hunter.

During the dark ages, Viking warriors would have on board their dragon long boats a berserker – a man who, when dressed in a bearskin, would kill the enemy remorselessly and without fear of personal injury. He would in a very real sense become the savage bear. During World War Two, American fighter pilots working for the Chinese government painted fierce tiger faces on their P40s to not only frighten their Japanese counterparts but to presumably imbue themselves with the tiger’s strength. Near the end of this war, there was a group of German teenage boys and old men who performed acts of sabotage against American units coming into Germany. They took the wolf as their symbol of resistance and referred to themselves as werewolves.

In present day Australia, there’s a popular rugby league club that refers to itself as The Dragons and another that refers to itself as The Bulldogs. What’s more, it is not uncommon, throughout the Western World, for such clubs to have mascots dressed as their representative animals in the way of imbuing the spectators as well as the players during the games with team spirit.

A less pleasant aspect of the werewolf is cannibalism. At given times, during much of human history, human beings have been forced into the eating of their fellow humans. As late as the 19th Century, Irish peasants, due to widespread famine and zero relief from uncaring English overlords, resorted to the partaking of the flesh of their dead in order to survive. It is only in the 20th and 21st Centuries that man has managed to do away almost completely with this vile and up to now necessary practice. Presently, it is only the occasional madman who thus indulges and it is in such madmen we glimpse the dread face of the wolf within. This particular visage has been around since the dawn of our existence and shows no sigh of ever completely going away. The 19th Century serial killer of White Chapel in London, known as Jack the Ripper, for example, showed at least one element of true lycanthropy when he mentioned, in a newspaper letter, of the tasting of part of one of his female victim’s organs. In 1919, a German butcher sold meat to starving Berlin customers that turned out to be human flesh.

The werewolf has long been associated with the full moon and with the madness the full moon can supposedly bring. It is not by accident that the word lunatic comes from the word Luna which is another name for the moon. In certain European mythology the moon is represented by the huntress Dianna – she who strides across the sky at night. Does this then make the werewolf both the subject and victim of a long ago Goddess? It is, after all, considered true that a good man that says his prayers at night, once bitten or scratched by a werewolf, will invariably become one during the next full moon.

Lastly, another cause for the belief in the werewolf comes from a rare though well documented physical state in which the person affected grows more body hair than is considered normal on your average human being. It is a genetic anomaly and, apart from making the victim appear unusual, it has no side-effects this writer is aware of. Examples of this condition can be seen in side-show freaks such as the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy.

In the first half of the 19th Century the Penny Dreadfuls of both England and France boosted female readership interest in the vampire by making him predominantly male rather than female. Decades later, Irish writer Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, which was based roughly on Eastern European folklore, became an international hit. In doing so it firmly set the stage for the dominance of the male vampire over the female for the next century.

Directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi, the 1931 Hollywood film version of Bram Stoker’s great vampire tale also proved to be popular. It did, however, run into a significant censorship problem. For its release, a scene involving three rather seductive looking female vampires vamping it up in the best of the Vamp style of the 1920s, had to be cut. Unfortunately, all that remains of it are a few publicity stills that give the impression that the women were young, beautiful and empowered. In other words, they were way too much of a scare for the censorship boys of the day.

Britain’s Hammer Studios in the 1960s and early ‘70s brought a new and dynamic look to the character of Dracula with a whole slew of films starring Christopher Lee as the immortal blood-sucking fiend. Lee in the role dominated the screen as well as his female victims which, incidentally, included some of the most beautiful actresses ever to be captured, so to speak, on film.

In some ways Hammer proved to be more innovative than Hollywood. Here the female vampire was allowed, once more, to come fully to the fore in such productions as Twins of Evil and Vampire Lovers.

For some reason. Italian films of the period showed a preference for the female vampire and had her soaring high like never before. She became vivacious, daring and very sexy. She was, to some extent, the go-go dancer with fangs.

Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, the French film Blood and Roses came out in 1960. To this day, this writer finds both the storyline and the female cast haunting in ways difficult to describe. Suffice to say it seduces this male in more ways than one and remains a treasure of late night viewing worthy to be sought after on both video and DVD.

Believe it or not, vampires have occasionally come from outer space. Starring John Saxon and Florence Marly, The Planet of Blood (USA, 1966), has an alien female blood drinker making her way to Earth in a rocket. She has her eggs to protect and a new planet to conquer. Here cheap science fiction meets psychological horror (trust me most men would find a large scale breeding program run by a strange woman pretty scary).

An unlikely, success story starting its reign in 1996, was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the young woman with the unusual calling, it ran for a glorious seven seasons. Crisp scriptwriting with a profound understanding of teenage growing pains, coupled with dynamic characterization and with brilliant special effects, soon elevated it to cult status not only among teenagers but adults as well. Here vampires could be both good and evil. Redemption for the undead was possible. Heroes whether slayers (something invented by Joss Whedon), witches or vampires, could slip from grace and then re-emerge into the light or, in the case of the repentant blood sucker, the semi-darkness.

Of the vampires in the show, the ones that will best be remembered are Drucilla, the hauntingly beautiful and quite insane Vamp-like ‘Princess’ of Spike, Darla because she was the first to appear and the first to actually fall pregnant though on another show, and Spike whose punk-like ways and ongoing character development was well realized.

In 1999, Angel, a spin-off television series starring David Boereanaz, had its first season run. It is based on the premise of a male vampire with a soul going to a big, bad city (Los Angeles) to make-up for the past wrongs he committed when he was a soulless fiend. It is fair to say that not until the third season did it begin to sprout independent wings of its own and fly high.

In the last two hundred years, the werewolf in fiction has gone through quite a few changes. In the 19th Century, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, introduced a new aspect to man into monster. Here the man, Dr Jekyll, transforms into the monster, Hyde, not through the bite or scratch of another victim of lycanthropy plus the rise of the full moon but through a formula he had himself created. The innocence, however, remains since the notion behind the formula was to remove the impulse to do evil from man rather than to bring it brimming to the surface. In other words, Hyde is a horrible accident, a terrible mistake on the part of someone seeking to do good. This indicates that, even in the best of us, there lurks something dark which is savage, bestial and requiring chains of the mind to keep in check. Once the chains snap, however, the hair and fangs sprout, the killer sadist is unleashed and the hunt begins.

Celebrated American actor Frederic March made the role of both Jekyll and Hyde his own in the 1932 academy award winning film version of the Stevenson masterpiece. There have been numerous other film adaptations, some quite bizarre. A British contender for just plain weird, titled Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde has a mild-mannered business man transformed by the infamous formula not into a hairy brute but into a voluptuous and very dangerous femme fatale.

Another 19th Century masterpiece which gave rise to a different view on man into beast was Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. In essence, it was about a young man who has his portrait painted and, through the magic of the painter’s brush, the painting ages whereas the young man doesn’t. What’s more, the evil done by the young man passes to the picture, leaving Gray’s appearance, despite what wrong doing he performs, completely without blemish. Here the beast, free to come out to play when ever it likes and as completely as it would wish to, does so and only through the painting can the world know of it having done so. According to The Horror Film by Ivan Butler ( A. Zwemmer Limited, London publication, 1967), an excellent movie version, directed by Albert Lewin, was made in 1945.

As for the moon inspired beast, the Universal 1941 movie, The Wolf-Man, starring Lon Chaney Jr., remains a favorite among horror fans as much for the early special effects as for the great script. Here the innocence of the man who becomes a wolf-being is reinforced by the words of a compassionate old gypsy woman and by the actions of the cursed man to prevent himself harming others during the full moon. Of course he fails and must die. Still, the fact that he tried should and does count for something in the end.

Other Universal films featuring the Wolf-Man followed including two comedies starring Abbott and Costello. Here warnings from the man who becomes the wolf-creature go unheeded resulting in humorous moments when the beast within comes out. There were also meetings between the Wolf-Man and Dracula usually resulting in a terrific battle between the two. Certainly, in the days of black and white cinema, the general rule was that wolf-things and bat-creatures just didn’t get along very well. The sensual and somewhat regal victimizer of mostly females just couldn’t form any kind of lasting relationship with what was essentially Mr Slash and Rip.

In 1981, An American Werewolf in London hit the cinema. Here teenage angst meets inner wolf in a film that mixes well horror/comedy with visual metaphor and up-to-date special effects magic. A young man (David Naughton) while visiting the English countryside is attacked by what he believes at first to be a wolf. He survives the mauling and, come the full moon, sprouts plenty of fur. What’s more, for the first time in cinematic history, the wolf-being actually looks convincing.

For the past thirty years, British author Terry Pratchett has enthralled fantasy readers with his wickedly funny series of discworld novels. Here, in these books about a flat planet, things such as political correctness are savagely sent-up through wizards, witches, werewolves and vampires. Here what is so right and what is so wrong with our collective views on mythological creatures such as the vampire and the werewolf can be lightheartedly explored with the true winners in the long run being Pratchett’s own loyal readership.

So what then is the future of both the vampire and the werewolf? Perhaps two recent movies provide some clues.

Based on a graphic novel by the same name, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came out in 2003 demonstrating, in its wake, new possibilities for the cinema for traditional monsters. The league, made up of a female vampire, the at first enigmatic Dorian Gray, Hyde, an invisible man, a British game hunter/adventurer and an American sharp-shooter, find themselves on the trail of a menace who calls himself The Phantom no doubt after the Phantom of the Opera. During their adventure together, the league discover a traitor in their midst. Not so surprising, it turns out to be Gray. Eventually, a battle royal takes place between lady vampire and handsome man of consummate evil. Here a female vampire, preferring to drink of the wicked, clashes with a foul thing whose crimes is only revealed in his portrait. Perhaps this is, in a sense, vampire versus werewolf?

In 2004, a movie starring Australian actor Hugh Jackman made its way to the cinema, receiving mixed reactions from horror fans. It was called Van Helsing and is not only a marvelous tribute to the Universal horror films of the 1930s and ‘40s, but the possible way forward for both vampire and werewolf. The vampires found within, including Dracula, are complex. The werewolf remains basically the same as he always was, an innocent man trapped in a situation not of his own choosing with but one very good twist. In this epic the werewolf is the direct opposite number to the vampire and thus has the mystical power to destroy the lead vampire, Dracula. It is perhaps a power the man-into-wolf has wanted, even needed for decades.

Will there be more cinematic clashes between vampire and werewolf? Will there be more female vampires and male werewolves and less of a mixture? Only time which is the enemy of the man-beast who is bound by it and the friend of the vampire who is not so bound, will, in the end, tell.

For modern vampire action please do check out Disco Evil and Ghost Dance.

For modern vampire and werewolf action do check out Ghost Dance.

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