Posts tagged: Carol Borden
In one of the first pieces I wrote for the Cultural Gutter, I wrote about how I like that there are so many versions of Batman. And I talked about how bats come in a “cloud.” I wish I had saved that metaphor for discussing Dracula, because there are so many more versions of him—and of vampires in general.
There is the Dracula of Bram Stoker’s novel, in which Stoker looks over his shoulder at Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, James Malcolm Rhymer’s Varney the Vampyre and Dr. Polidori’s Lord Ruthven.* There is the historical Wallachian Voivod, Vlad III. There is the non-legally actionable Count Orlok of F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922), voted the most creepily adorable vampire by me. There is Bela Lugosi’s classic performance on stage and screen and Carlos Villarías in George Melford’s Spanish-language version filmed simultaneously with Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931). Paul Naschy’s Dracula wore turtlenecks and looked for love in Count Dracula’s Great Love (1972) and Gary Oldman’s wore tinted glasses while doing the same in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) There is Christopher Lee’s protean count in Hammer Studios’s Dracula movies. In 1979, there were both an open-shirted Frank Langella in Dracula and a ratlike Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu, The Vampyre. Marvel Comics’ Dracula has been a nemesis of Blade and Dr. Strange before moving to a castle on the moon. Buffy The Vampire Slayer‘s Dracula appears to bite it before returning in Dark Horse’s Buffyverse comics. And just a few weeks ago I saw poor Vlad getting over some things in What We Do In The Shadows (2014) and then came across a copy of Becky Cloonan’s illustrated Dracula (New York: Harper Design, 2012) It seemed like both a sign and a portent—as if Dracula were calling out to me across oceans of time…
This week, Comics Editor Carol interviews Dave McKean about fantasy, working with different media and his new film, Luna.
Where some of your other films are quite stylized and, in the case of The Week Before, almost expressionist, Luna combines fantastic, expressionist and animated elements with more naturalistic ones. What are some of the challenges in blending the fantastic with the naturalistic
I think it’s easier to sustain a very stylized form of storytelling for a short film. I like stories that exist both in the naturalistic world and in our imaginative lives, films are so immersive in that sense, we can explore how our characters think and dream, as well as how they exist in the real world. I think it’s very easy to just go down the rabbit hole, or through the door to Narnia or Oz. I’m interested in the parallel narrative of our fantasy lives, or as Dean puts in it Luna, our imaginative lives. How the moment of ‘now’ that is palpably real, is surrounded by our memories, our dreams and hopes, the stories and connections that our brains make as we navigate the world–a universe of fantasy, or unreality, or surreality. I’m keen to explore this very human experience, how our minds create our own realities–a blend of fact and interpretation of fact.
Comics Editor Carol writes about the Filipina superhero Darna and 1970s film adaptations of her stories. With special guest stars Mars Ravelo, Nestor Redondo, Roger Corman and Francis Ford Coppola!
Last February, Todd Stadtman and Tars Tarkas invited me on the Infernal Brains podcast to discuss space ladies with them. We covered a lot of films, but I didn’t get to one film Todd suggested we watch, Darna Vs. The Planet Women (1975). I finally did recently and he was so right—Darna Vs. The Planet Women was a movie I needed to see. Since then, I’ve watched Darna And The Giants (1973) and Darna At Ding/Darna And Ding (1980). And these movies bring together so many fine things: a costumed comic book superhero, space ladies, supernatural creatures, black magic robots, disco fabulousness and the sassiness of Vilma Santos’ Darna.
I’m not arguing for a kind of absolute relativism here, in which if I like or enjoyed Punisher: War Zone it’s good. I’m not arguing that for a lot of reasons, the most important being that the converse is sketchy as hell: dislike = bad. That’s a corrosive line of thinking. At the most basic level, I know that “dislike” ≠ “bad” because there is art I dislike even while knowing it’s good. But I can appreciate and even learn from it. The greater geek/nerd/fan community tends to smooth over differences by saying that we respect each other’s likes, that if you like something there must be something good about it, while at the same time organizing around liking the same things, creating canons and having a lot of received wisdom about what is good or bad–like my repairmans’s assertion, “Wonder Woman is a bad character.”
But people can like the same thing, superheroes in general or the Punisher in particular, for instance, without liking it the same way, in the same form or the same thing about it. A huge chunk of the whole fake geek girl thing is as much about “You’re liking it wrong” or “You like the wrong thing about it” as it is just plain sexism**. And when your tacit understanding about what makes something good or bad generally comes down to labeling things good and bad, it’s hard to notice when you are tacitly arguing against diversity–like my repairman, who has felt so deprived for so long that he doesn’t recognize he’s not losing something by not getting everything. There can be grim and dark movies like Nolan’s Batman, shiny colorful movies like The Avengers and crazy-ass odes to campy, comic book violence like Punisher: War Zone–even scruffy action like Machete Kills, The Raid and the Fast & Furious movies.
Comics Editor Carol shares some summer comics reading!
Summer is almost here, and I can’t tell you how glad I am. So smear yourself up with sunscreen and bug repellent, find your kickiest sandals, put the finishing touches on your Wicker Man and don’t forget to wear a hat because I have some comics to make your summer just a little more fun whether it’s by the pool, on your porch, holed up in your bedroom with a box fan set on high or dancing and singing “Sumer is Icumen In” as you sacrifice a virgin representative of a king to the Old Gods to ensure a good harvest in the fall.
I like to think I’ve provided a Variety Pak so no matter what your flavor of comics is you might find something you like: Pop superheroics; dark fantasy; horror; clever short stories set in Edo; Fifties pulp; Mod secret agents; Weird Westerns; comic but still graphic fantasy; graphic novel mystery; YA science fiction fun!
This week Carol writes a little more about Hong Kong film, censorship and dissent.
Last month, I wrote about British (and a little pre-People’s Republic Chinese) censorship of Hong Kong movies and the ways that wuxia and kung fu movies in particular got around British control of political speech. And now, with wuxia and kung fu movies seemingly all nationalistic, dissent has creeped into the crime films, so this month I’m going to talk about the films of Johnnie To Kei-Fung, Wai Ka-Fai and their production company, Milkyway Image. Since 1997, Hong Kong crime films have been set in pre-Handover Hong Kong (or pre-1999 Macao) because doing otherwise would imply that there are crime problems after the Handover or in China. As if anything set before 1997 were only about 1997.
The Gutter’s own Carol shares a bit of her hardboiled Godzilla detective fiction at Monstrous Industry. Here’s a segment from “Three Kings” and two from “A Mark In Blue.”: ‘“Hell,’ I muttered, glancing down. My side was a mess of rearranged gears and blue coolant weeped from a broad gash. There was another smear of coolant on my chest, in the shape of the letter, ‘M,’ right over my heart. And…
Drive-In Mob Capos Brian and Carol (aka, “The Gutter’s own Carol) each share ten of their favorite soundtrack tracks by composer Akira Ifukube.
"[W]hen I started watching Hong Kong movies (projected in their correct aspect ratios and with no unintentional decapitations), I started wondering why they came pre-subtitled. Chinese subtitles do automatically expand the market for Cantonese films beyond Cantonese-speaking communities. And English subtitles were nice for me. But it turns out that British colonial authorities wanted to keep an eye on Chinese film. In 1963, the Hong Kong Legislative Council passed a law requiring that all films be subtitled in English. (Stokes & Hoover, 25). The British had been concerned with the possiblity of film fomenting dissent and hostility towards Europeans since the beginning of the Chinese film industry, but between 1919 and 1963, Hong Kong censors had examined, cut, and banned thousands of films without necessarily understanding Cantonese or Mandarin."
(Thai poster for No One Can Touch Her (1979) via Kung Fu Movie Posters)
Get ready for a new season of Mad Men with this collection of Absurdist Mad Men promotions, which the Cultural Gutter participates in and even encourages. Duck Phillips rules an undersea advertizing empire and “Pete feels slighted.”