Weekend links 370

lai.jpg

The Conjure (2016) by Jolene Lai. Via Dangerous Minds.

• RIP George Romero, a proudly independent filmmaker who succeeded on his own terms. Kim Newman remembers the man who remade horror cinema. Romero always referred to Powell & Pressburger’s Tales of Hoffmann (1951) as a key cinematic influence, something he discussed with Marc Lee in 2005.

Man Alive (BBC TV, 1967): Consenting Adults: 1. The Men | Consenting Adults: 2. The Women. Two documentaries about the British homosexual experience screened shortly before the House of Commons vote that decriminalised sex between men in England and Wales.

Dolente…Dolore: The Inferno of Malcolm Lowry is the latest musical release from Larkfall: “a trembling, drunken dream with flashes of heaven and hell…”

Tom Harper on The Klenke Atlas (1660), one of the largest atlases in the world which is now available for viewing at the British Library.

Martin Jenkins of Pye Corner Audio, The House In The Woods et al talks to Bandcamp about his own brand of sinister electronica.

• RIP Peter Principle, a musician whose up-front bass playing was always a key feature of the Tuxedomoon sound.

• And RIP actor John Heard talking to Will Harris in 2015 about some of his many roles in film and TV.

• 355 free copies of Galaxy Magazine at the Internet Archive.

• Google Maps goes inside the International Space Station.

• Good with a knife: The papercut art of Ivonne Carley.

• Mix of the week: FACT Mix 610 by Karen Gwyer.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Yasujiro Ozu Day.

• L’alba Dei Morti Viventi (1978) by Goblin | East/Jinx/•••/Music #1 (1981) by Tuxedomoon | Martin (1983) by Soft Cell

Weekend links 229

drongelen.jpg

Untitled (2007) by Remko van Drongelen.

• Another week, another Kickstarter project: Frank Woodward’s 2008 documentary, Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, was an excellent study of HP Lovecraft’s life and work featuring interviews with John Carpenter, Neil Gaiman, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Peter Straub, Guillermo Del Toro and leading Lovecraft scholar ST Joshi; the film also included a few examples of my Cthulhoid artwork. Disc copies of the film have been out-of-print for a while so Frank’s fund is hoping to raise money for a new Blu-ray edition featuring extended interviews and other extras.

• David Cronenberg’s debut novel, Consumed, “reads somewhat like a mashup of William Gibson, the king of near-future SF cool, and 1970s horror maestro James Herbert,” says Steven Poole. I’d have thought a more obvious analogy would be with JG Ballard; descriptions of Cronenberg’s narrative make it sound like Ballard’s concerns repurposed for our current era of electronically-mediated everything. Related: Crash by Sanyú, “adaptación de un fragmento de la novela de J. Ballard”.

• “To commune with the music of Cyclobe is to enter not just a strange world, but strange constellations – interdimensional, atemporal zones of carefully cultivated auras bordering wild, unstable forces.” Russell Cuzner talks to Ossian Brown and Stephen Thrower about Derek Jarman, hurdy-gurdies and the deceptive nature of time.

…there are no rules in fiction even if creative writing programs everywhere have tried to make people believe there are. When I read fiction that has passed through the filter of too many workshops, I often get the feeling that I’m reading the same novel over and over again: the same way of being humorous, the same way of being candid, the same way of creating empathy.

Valeria Luiselli talking to Jennifer Kabat about fiction, cities and maps.

• The rationale behind Silent Partners: Artist & Mannequin from Function to Fetish is “to explore the way that the artificial human figure has routinely provided artists with the most direct and reliable route to visual realism. And then to work out why that makes us so upset.” Kathryn Hughes on a new exhibition.

• “It immediately throws up some interesting thoughts: Bowie as the young dandy and the obvious comparisons with Oscar Wilde and The Picture Of Dorian Gray, with the portrait that ages.” Designer Jonathan Barnbrook on the cover photos for David Bowie’s forthcoming album Nothing Has Changed.

• October brings all the music mixes. This week there’s a choice of FACT mix 463 by Dntel, Autumn’s Whirr by Café Kaput (aka Jon Brooks), and Suspected Rural Telephone Box Poltergeist by The Geography Trip.

• “…when you first go into the room it’s like entering a furnace… a furnace of sound.” Scott Walker talks to John Doran about recording with Sunn O))). The new album, Soused, is out on 20th October.

We are the Martians: the Legacy of Nigel Kneale, a new collection of Kneale-related essays and appreciations, edited by Neil Snowdon.

• Kim Newman is one of the contributors to the Kneale collection. Here he is on the main types of ghost story, and how to recognize them.

Issue 7 of Glitterwolf magazine is out on the 15th, and it’s a Halloween special.

Etai Rahmil makes mask-pipes from glass for weed smokers.

Accidental Cool Art

Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968) by Donovan | Hurdy Gurdy Man (1970) by Eartha Kitt | Hurdy Gurdy Man (2009) by Patrick Cowley & Jorge Socarras

Lovecraft’s Monsters

Lovecraft's Monsters

Graphic for the title page and ends of chapters.

I don’t usually post things so far away from publication, but editor Ellen Datlow put these pictures on her Facebook page a few hours ago so I may as well do the same here.

Back in February I bought a Wacom Intuos drawing tablet, something I’ve been using with regularity for the past few months. The Alas Vegas Tarot cards I designed in the summer were the first major attempt at getting used to working with it; Lovecraft’s Monsters, a forthcoming fiction anthology for Tachyon is the second, and I now feel very comfortable working with it. More than that, I’m increasingly pleased with the way it’s possible to combine the drawing techniques I’ve been using for years with the additional possibilities provided by working in Photoshop. As always, it’s the end result that counts but arriving at an end result can be easy or difficult. Some of these illustrations look no different than they would have done had I used ink on paper but they took half the time to create, a considerable benefit when a deadline is looming.

The stories Ellen Datlow has chosen for this collection all present different aspects of monstrosity seen through the lens of Lovecraft’s fiction and his cosmic menagerie. Some are full-on extensions of the Mythos, others are more allusive; all the pieces bar one have been published before but I’d not read any of them so for me this was fresh material. Having spent the past few years saying I was finished with Lovecraft’s fiction I was excited to be working on this book. The stories are good, and I welcomed the challenge of having to illustrate such a variety of material.

Larger copies of all the pictures can be seen here.

The star-headed thing at the top of this page is another amalgam of elements plundered from Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur and other sources. I’ve leaned rather heavily on Haeckel in the past, something I wanted to avoid here; this serves as a kind of visual punctuation separating the stories.

Lovecraft's Monsters

Cthulhu.

The drawing I’ve called Cthulhu is a piece for the introductory pages. Having already produced a lot of Cthulhoid art I didn’t want to repeat myself. The initial idea was of a tiny human figure faced with something enormous and nightmarish; that could be a vast eyeball or it could be a mouth or some other organ/aperture, the vagueness was intentional. Lovecraft continually impresses upon his readers how difficult things are to describe or apprehend but you seldom find this quality in art based upon his stories. Cthulhu especially has devolved into little more than an outsize man-in-a-rubber-suit à la the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In The Call of Cthulhu the figure on the mysterious statuette is described as having a humanoid shape but Lovecraft doesn’t describe the appalling reality in any detail at all. When Cthulhu is struck by a ship at the end of the story it breaks apart and is then seen recombining, the implication being that the creature is corporeally amorphous.

Lovecraft's Monsters

Only the End of the World Again by Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman’s entry concerns a werewolf private detective in Innsmouth. Lovecraft’s decaying fishing village and its inhabitants turn up in several of the stories so care was taken to avoid repetition.

Lovecraft's Monsters

Bulldozer by Laird Barron.

A great story about another detective, a Pinkerton agent this time, hunting his quarry through the Old West. Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal is mentioned so I used some of Louis Breton’s illustrations from the third edition.

Continue reading “Lovecraft’s Monsters”

Ikarie XB 1

ikarie1.jpg

A science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem (The Magellanic Cloud, 1955).

ikarie2.jpg

Illustration by Teodor Rotrekl.

A film by Jindrich Polák, adapted from Lem’s novel by Polák and Pavel Jurácek. (1963).

ikarie3.jpg

A Second Run DVD (2013).

With the exceptions of Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Stalker (both in a league of their own), I’ve never been very enthused about Eastern Bloc science-fiction cinema. If I hadn’t been watching some Czech films recently, and listening to the soundtrack music of Zdenek Liska, I might not have bothered with this one despite its being promoted as a visual influence on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ikarie XB 1 won the Grand Prize at the Trieste International Science Fiction Film Festival in 1963, a tie with Chris Marker’s La Jetée. (Umberto Eco was one of the judges.) Fifty years on, Marker’s film has hardly dated at all while Ikarie XB 1 seems very much of its time. But Polák’s film still has some things going for it, surprisingly so considering the director was more used to making comedies.

Ikarie XB 1 is a spaceship travelling to Alpha Centauri in the year 2163. The DVD subtitles don’t translate the name Ikarie so unless you already know it means “Icarus” there’s no foreshadowing of any possible threat, at least until the opening shots of a deranged crewman stumbling through empty corridors. Many of the scenes which follow seem over-familiar but only because the scenario of space-crew as interstellar family has become such a standard feature of filmed space opera from Star Trek on. The production design is dated, of course, but the film makes great use of black and white in the lighting patterns, on-screen visuals, clothing designs, etc. It’s easy to see why Kubrick thought it was a cut above other SF films of the period, especially with its widescreen compositions. The DVD booklet (and Kim Newman’s interview on the disc) mention Kubrick’s stylistic borrowings; judge for yourself with these screen-grabs. I was hoping the Liska soundtrack might be more electronic than it is. It’s very much a Liska score—at times you can’t help but imagine a Svankmajer puppet lurking round a corner—but with added reverb and spectral organ chords. The latter assist a sequence where two of the crew members explore an apparently derelict space station.

This page reviews the film in some detail (complete with plot spoilers). For the curious, the entire film is a free download at the Internet Archive.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Fiser and Liska
Two sides of Liska
Liska’s Golem
The Cremator by Juraj Herz

Weekend links 72

lesyeux.jpg

If Jean Cocteau had made a horror film it might have resembled George Franju’s dreamy and disturbing body-horror masterwork Les Yeux Sans Visage (1960). I’ve not been able to trace the artist for this poster but it’s a good example of the diluted Surrealism which was still prevalent in poster graphics at this time.

If I were asked what’s needed today, I’d say innovation, and greater timbral variety. If you truly want the audience to experience the clammy thrill of the grotesque, the uncanny and the fearful, you have to reach for the unfamilar, the perplexing, even the ugly; there’s an infinite Lovecraftian sound-world out there waiting to be explored. We need new combinations, new textures in film scoring. Horror has a licence to be weird – it’s supposed to mess with our heads. (more)

Stephen Thrower.

Stephen Thrower is an ex-member of Coil, a current member of Cyclobe, was the editor of a great magazine, Eyeball, devoted to horror cinema and what Kim Newman (casting about for a wider, non-generic label) calls “nightmare movies”, and is the author of Nightmare USA and Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci. In other words, he’s more than qualified to write about horror film soundtracks. The reason is an event at the South Bank Centre, London, two weeks from now, Sound of Fear: The Musical Universe of Horror, one of the highlights of which will be a performance by John Carpenter’s soundtrack collaborator Alan Howarth. Related: my post about Italian horror soundtracks from 2008.

lovato.jpg

Art by Justin Lovato.

Mind Over Matter: Alan Fletcher’s The Art of Looking Sideways. “The Art of Looking Sideways captures the sensory overload of contemporary visual culture, while also acting as a primer in visual intelligence.” Related: Alan Fletcher profiled at the Design Museum.

• More music and more psychedelia: Past Present Future Space-Time “Wysing Arts Centre explores the legacy of psychedelia in this year’s annual music event”.

The Coilhouse International Silent Auction is GO and ends Sunday night if you want to bid for some rare and special things.

The Garden of Kama and Other Love Lyrics from India (1901), illustrated by John Byam Shaw.

• Chris Marker’s take on the recent London riots: Overnight.

• Bristol’s graffiti artists are redecorating the city’s streets.

• Women and knives: a Dario Argento poster gallery.

Inferno (1993) by Miranda Sex Garden, from their album Suspiria.