Weekend links 394

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Britain’s Royal Mint acknowledges this year’s bicentenary of the publication of Frankenstein with a commemorative £2 coin.

• A trailer for The Green Fog, a film by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, which uses clips from over 200 films set in and around San Francisco to create a collage companion to (and critique of) Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. John DeFore reviewed the film for The Hollywood Reporter.

• Downloadable sound files and utilities for the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument. Should you require it, the file containing the orchestra stab that was a feature of so much pop music in the 1980s is ORCH5. (Click on the “Library/Disk” listing then click “Extract” to download the samples.)

• Radio at the Internet Archive: the BBC adaptations of Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan and Gormenghast (both adapted by Brian Sibley in 1984); and 554 Sherlock Holmes radio shows.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 523 by Scanner, RA Podcast 605 by Chris SSG, and Secret Thirteen Mix 241 by Jaroska.

• At Discogs: a list of “Experiments, gimmick and concept albums, bands and labels“.

Patrick Cowley The Ultimate Master Megamix

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Karen Black Day.

Events In Dense Fog (1978) by Brian Eno | Fog Animal (2005) by Deaf Center | In The Fog I (2011) by Tim Hecker

Weekend links 173

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Icarus (1974–75) by Lili Ország.

• The Cabaret Voltaire albums released on the Virgin label in the 1980s have suffered the same shoddy treatment on CD as other Virgin reissues, a situation to be rectified in November with an extensive revisiting of the CV back catalogue. The long-overdue reappraisal will also include the release of Earthshaker, a collection of previously unavailable recordings from the Virgin period.

• It’s that book again: Design Observer has the preface from Lolita — The Story of a Cover Girl: Vladimir Nabokov’s novel in art and design, a book by John Bertram and Yuri Leving. At The Millions John Bertram talks to designer John Gall about the problems Lolita poses for cover designers.

• Jerry Lewis’s The Day the Clown Cried (1972) has acquired legendary status over the years for the apparent tastelessness of its subject matter—a clown in Auschwitz—and the fact that its director/star has never allowed the film to be seen in public. This week some footage arrived on YouTube.

Candy Bullets And Moon (1967), a one-off psychedelic collaboration between Don Preston and Meredith Monk.

• What’s the collective term for many bookshops? Whatever it is, there’s a lot of them in this Pinterest collection.

• At Dangerous Minds: Artist Gail Potocki’s exploration of Alice in Wonderland and the passing of time.

Anne Billson on the late Karen Black and why horror movies deserve our respect.

Tobias Carroll on the Surreal life and fiction of Leonora Carrington.

More details emerge about The Wicker Man – The Final Cut.

• Issue 35 of Arthur Magazine is now available for order.

• Graphics, drawings and collages by Jan Svankmajer.

• Every film poster designed by Saul Bass.

• Cabaret Voltaire: Just Fascination (1983) | Sensoria (1984) | I Want You (1985)

Richard Matheson, 1926–2013

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The Incredible Shrinking Man.

Of Richard Matheson’s many books I’ve only read I Am Legend so can’t say much about his fiction other than to confirm (as everyone else does) that none of the three adaptations so far have managed to do it justice. Of his work for film and television there’s too much to say, it’s so copious and indelibly memorable. Here’s a list of five favourite Matheson creations.

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

JG Ballard frequently referred to this as one of his favourite science fiction films, not because of the SF element, which is never properly explained, but because of its inadvertent Surrealist qualities. For my part, every time I watched this I was always impatient to get to the later scenes where the unfortunate Scott becomes trapped in the cellar, and his own house becomes an increasingly alien and hostile environment. The ending where he accepts his condition is very Ballardian.

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Duel (1971)

A sweating and manic Dennis Weaver is pitted against an anonymous truck driver who remains unseen but for a few shots of an arm and some boots. The lethal game of cat-and-mouse was famously directed by Steven Spielberg, his second feature, and one that’s a lot more impressive than some of his subsequent films. Watch it on YouTube.

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The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Matheson’s take on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House—four investigators in a haunted mansion—with the gain ramped up 100%. The film starts off quietly but is very soon into full-on hysteria; director John Hough finds so many eccentric camera angles you could actually calm down after this by watching a Terry Gilliam film. Meanwhile Roddy McDowell chews the scenery as though over-acting is going out of fashion. Bonuses are a grown-up Pamela Franklin (Flora in Jack Clayton’s superb The Innocents), and a great score from Radiophonic synthesists Brian Hodgson and Delia Derbyshire. Watch the trailer.

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Trilogy of Terror (1975)

A three-story TV movie in which Karen Black took all the leading roles. No one remembers the first two stories but everyone who’s seen this remembers the third, Amelia (based on a Matheson short story, Prey), in which Ms Black is hunted in her apartment by a Zuni fetish doll. It’s on YouTube!

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Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (1983)

Sorry, Shatnerphiles, but the superior version of this story is the one from Twilight Zone: The Movie. John Lithgow is a much better actor than William Shatner, the gremlin on the wing of the plane is a fearsome creature that’s seriously destructive (not, as Matheson lamented of the original, “a surly teddy bear”), and the whole sequence is directed by George Miller fresh from Mad Max 2. The original Twilight Zone episode wasn’t bad but it can’t compete with Miller pulling out all the stops. Watch it here.

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