Watch Edison’s FRANKENSTEIN From 1910!

Frankenstein (1910)

As we creep toward Halloween, get in the mood by visiting with the very first cinematic Frankenstein’s monster.

This short film from Edison Studios was made in 1910 by writer/director J. Searle Dawley. It stars Augustus Phillips as Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Charles Ogle as the Monster, and Mary Fuller as the doctor’s fiancée.

It ain’t Karloff, but it’s a fascinating piece of film history. There’s some creative use of a mirror, both in the mise-en-scène and in the storytelling, and the sequence depicting the birth of the monster is primitive but amazingly creepy.

Celebrate All Hallow’s Read! Get “Dead Folks” for FREE!

Dead Folks

Back in 2010, Neil Gaiman, who doesn’t really need me to introduce him, but whose past glory includes the work-of-dark-genius Sandman for DC Comics, had a great idea. As he recounted on his blog, “I was on a flight home last night, and I thought, You know, there aren’t enough traditions that involve giving books…And then I thought, Hallowe’en’s next weekend…”

From that inspiration grew a wonderful new tradition Neil called “All Hallow’s Read.” As explained on its official website, the idea is simple: “All Hallow’s Read is a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simply that in the week of Hallowe’en, or on the night itself, you give someone a scary book.” As a lifelong reader, and writer, of tales dark and fantastical (such as my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, now in a marvelous new expanded edition fully illustrated by ace comic book creator Gary Chaloner), I embraced this tradition immediately. In previous years, I gifted classics from folks like the brilliant Fritz Leiber, my late, great friend Karl Edward Wagner, and George R.R. Martin (who also doesn’t need much introduction these days, but whose short story “Sandkings” is one of the scariest things I’ve ever read). Last year, I treated my girlfriend in Brazil to a video of me reading Ray Bradbury’s “The Foghorn,” the story that made me decide to be a writer.

This year, I realized I was in the position to share the tradition with even more people. Now through Halloween, I am offering my semi-spooky tale “Dead Folks” as a free download on Amazon. The story is in Kindle format, but a Kindle is not required to read it; free Kindle reading apps for gadgets ranging from smartphones and tablets to PCs and Macs can be downloaded here.

This story is near and dear to my heart, as it was my first professional fiction sale years ago. In it, a small Appalachian town is mysteriously inundated with pesky corpses from various historical eras and a young man finds he must make some hard choices. One reviewer wrote, “‘Dead Folks’ ultimately reveals itself to be a clever genre admixture that is nodding toward Mark Twain, perhaps the most American of writers. Byrd puts it all at the service of a winning narrator, a well-delineated supporting cast of characters, and a transcendent love story. If Stephen King were given to whimsy, he might have produced ‘Dead Folks.'”

I hope you’ll accept my gift of this bit of weirdness in the spirit of the holiday, and that you enjoy it. Please spread the word, the more the merrier. If you like it, please consider leaving a short review of it on Amazon, as that sort of thing raises a story’s profile in searches and is incredibly helpful to starving authors like me. I also really enjoy reading what people think. And don’t forget to give someone else a story or a book, and tell everyone you know about All Hallow’s Read. Neil is absolutely right, we need more traditions based on gifting tales. What better time than Halloween, the season of scampering nightmare and sultry mystery?

GET “DEAD FOLKS” HERE

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Bogeyman… (Song of the Week, Halloween 2012)

I love Halloween.

Reflecting that, our song of the week is  “Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Bogeyman” from 1932, by Henry Hall’s Orchestra with vocals by Val Rosing. Enjoy.

For A Muse… (Song of the Week, 9/5/2012)

O Divine Poesy, goddess, daughter of Zeus, sustain for me this song…Make the tale live for us in all its many bearings, O Muse…    –Homer, The Odyssey

Happy is he whom the Muses love…   –Hesiod, Theogony

The ancient lass pictured above is Calliope, daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory), and the Muse of epic poetry and writers. She was mother to the great lyre player and singer Orpheus, and creative inspiration to Homer.

Now, thanks to the loving craft of my sweet friend Nydia Macedo in Brazil, Calliope has come to live with me in the Byrdcave, to inspire me in my daily writing. Nydia, whose work you can see (and purchase!) on Facebook under the name “Carioca Witch,” specializes in handcrafting poppets and ornaments based in spiritual and mythological symbology. She researches her topics, finding appropriate colors and design elements to incorporate and herbs to use for scents, then brings her own artistry to the task of playfully evoking these ancient resonances through beautiful stitching. Each piece is a labor of love, and photos don’t capture just how cool they really are. I encourage you to visit the Facebook page linked to above and surf through her albums to see the variety of things she creates, from gods and goddesses to Christmas and Halloween ornaments to superheroes…

Yesterday, I received the poppet of Calliope that Nydia made for me:

She’s beautiful and will have a permanent place of honor in my home.

As tribute to sweet Calliope, and sweet Nydia, I offer this Song of the Week from Django Reinhardt, “La Mer (Beyond The Sea)”…

The Comedy of Terrors

For your Halloween consideration…

This classic horror comedy stars Vincent Price as a conniving undertaker who resorts to murder to drum up business. Peter Lorre is his bumbling, soft-hearted assistant, Boris Karloff his senile father-in-law, and Basil Rathbone his hardnosed landlord-turned-victim. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, with a brilliant script by horror great Richard Matheson, this is the sort of film Abbott and Costello might have made had they been into Shakespeare and worked for Hammer Films. Very smart, wonderfully entertaining, and family-friendly; we watch it every year.

You can watch it streaming on Netflix, or rent it on Amazon for $2.99.

Happy Hallowe’en (and the Song of the Week, 10/31/2011)

Halloween/Samhain has always been my favorite holiday. To celebrate, here’s Springsteen channeling the raging ghost of Howlin’ Wolf with a perfect Halloween song…

For the interested, here are some posts from back in my blog somewheres related to Halloweeny goodness…

5 Classic Horror Flicks to Goose Your Bumps

…for those who might like to watch something scary and good, I figured I’d throw you a few bones. Collect ‘em all and you can build a skeleton.

These are just five classics, not my all time favorites or anything with that much thought behind it, not in any particular order. All of them are first rate.

5 New Classic Horror Flicks You Might Have Missed

Some more contemporary works that many people haven’t seen, and everybody who loves a good scare needs to.

Saturday Night With Cthulhu

Sebastian’s Voodoo (A Great Short Film)

A wonderful short animated film by UCLA student Joaquin Baldwin. It’s visually amazing, and the story is very moving.

“The Show Is Over” by Nora Keyes

Last Halloween’s Song of the Week, Nora Keyes gettin’ her serious creep on.

Timwolf’s Guide to Halloween

For the interested, here are some posts from back in my blog somewheres related to Halloweeny goodness…

5 Classic Horror Flicks to Goose Your Bumps

…for those who might like to watch something scary and good, I figured I’d throw you a few bones. Collect ‘em all and you can build a skeleton.

These are just five classics, not my all time favorites or anything with that much thought behind it, not in any particular order. All of them are first rate.

5 New Classic Horror Flicks You Might Have Missed

Some more contemporary works that many people haven’t seen, and everybody who loves a good scare needs to.

Saturday Night With Cthulhu

Sebastian’s Voodoo (A Great Short Film)

A wonderful short animated film by UCLA student Joaquin Baldwin. It’s visually amazing, and the story is very moving.

Trust me, I’m a psychopath!

jekyll

I’m phasing out Comcast Cable (crappy HD, shitty DVR that’s years behind Tivo in reliability and functionality, and execrable customer service), which is unfortunately the only TV option provided by my apartment management, and one of the services that is replacing it is a renewed subscription to Netflix, because of its new streaming features. For $10 a month I can have one disk out at a time (and that disk will be Blu-Ray if the flick is available in that format) and unlimited real-time streaming of the movies they have available, of which there’s a surprising abundance (I have over three hundred listings in my personal “Watch Instantly” queue).

It’s really great, as I can choose something on the spot to give a try, without worrying about it tying up my physical rental for a few days of mailing back and forth, and if that choice sucks, I just stop watching and move on to something else. It also has allowed me to find some really great stuff I hadn’t been aware of, the latest being the BBC miniseries Jekyll.

Jekyll is FUN. Continue reading

It Takes a Graveyard to Raise a Child

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

graveyard

So begins The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman’s latest dark wonder, in which he kind of retells Kipling’s Jungle Book, but has the orphaned boy raised not in a jungle by wild things, but in a cemetery by things that go bump in the night.

It works. Gaiman is a master, and this book is pure Gaiman, spooky and clever and wry, written with a simple grace that belies its artful complexity. It’s one of those books that’s like drinking eggnog; it’s so good, you gulp it down, finishing it fast then immediately wishing you had more. (Plus, Gaiman’s book has no calories, so it won’t add to your gut).

The Graveyard Book is a fine book, and a great read for anyone over ten.

Interested readers should also check out Gaiman’s blog at http://journal.neilgaiman.com.

Cry Little Sister Revisited

Okay, after having sat through Lost Boys 2, I felt compelled to revisit the original to see if it still lives up to my memory of it. It does.

It’s one of those Joel Schumacher movies that’s actually not only worth viewing, but really truly works. It’s visually sweet, dynamically told, and full of witty touches (like Grandpa’s taxidermy). The cast is uniformly fun, especially Kiefer Sutherland (though Jason Patric’s performance is sort of a non-burning brood for most of the pic).

It’s nice to revisit something you enjoyed in your youth and find it still maintains all its charms. We made our way through the Back to the Future trilogy recently, and it, too, has lost nothing over the years.

Know Her Before She’s Famous

kimberly
Meet Kimberly Derting, of the Great Northwest.

I’ve privately congratulated Kim, and figured I’d also do so publicly, because she recently got some really awesome news: HarperCollins gave her a buttload of currency to let them publish her first two books (in a deal made by agent supreme Laura Rennert, who also sold my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom).

The first book, The Body Finder, is due next year, with the as-yet-untitled second book to follow in 2010. The Body Finder tells the tale of a young girl with an intriguing psychic ability who tries to use it to track a serial killer. Make a note of that title, and Kim’s name, and make sure to grab the book when it comes out so you’ll be the proud owner of a Kimberly Derting first edition, which I’m thinking will escalate quite a bit in value.

For more info, visit http://kimberlyderting.com, Kim’s incredible website that makes me cry because it’s so much nicer than mine.

Cry Little Sister

Took a risk the other night and watched Lost Boys 2: The Tribe, the sequel to (you guessed it) Lost Boys.

I expected it to be utter crap, like most direct-to-DVD sequels, and it wasn’t, actually. It was fairly good, with an entertaining enough story and a game cast (including Angus Sutherland, younger half-brother of Kiefer, who of course starred in the original). As a B-flick, it worked nicely, except when Corey Feldman, reprising his role as Edgar Frog, was onscreen. Feldman was fun as a goofy teenage vampire hunter, but as a grown-up Corey trying to growl like Clint Eastwood, he’s terrible. Apparently, a Lost Boys 3 is in the works which will focus on Edgar Frog’s epic battles. Something to look forward to, I guess, unless you’re anybody but Corey Feldman.

[I originally referred to Corey as Corey Haim, but apparently I had my Coreys crossed, as Edgar is played by the Feldman Corey. I take some pride in the fact that I wasn’t familiar enough with the two of them to have their names straight.]

Among the highlights (or, well, the main highlights) were two mouth-wateringly hot vampire chicks (one of whom was the protagonist’s sister) and Aiden’s cover of the Gerard McMann song “Cry Little Sister,” offered below:

5 New Classic Horror Flicks You Might Have Missed

Okay, my last post listed 5 classic horror movies for those interested in such things.

This time, I’m gonna briefly list some more contemporary works that many people haven’t seen, and everybody who loves a good scare needs to. Continue reading

5 Classic Horror Flicks to Goose Your Bumps

Hey, everybody! There’s a new “Saw” movie out!

You like movies that exist just so you can watch people be tortured, right?

Eh. Screw that crap. I like real horror movies, real monster movies, real thrillers. I have no problem with grue, but it has to be in context, and there has to be a goddamned story. Preferably a good story.

So, for those who might like to watch something scary and good, I figured I’d throw you a few bones. Collect ’em all and you can build a skeleton. Continue reading