Sunday, 15 January 2023

spider web castle (10. 420)

Considered among the finest adaptations of the Scottish play with production and development deferred for six years after learning that Orson Welles directed his own Macbeth in 1948, Akira Kurosawa’s (previously) transposition of the plot of Shakespeare’s masterwork to feudal Japan (่œ˜่››ๅทฃๅŸŽ, Kumononsu-jล—literally the above title but released in English-speaking markets as Throne of Blood) premiered in Tokyo on this day in 1957. Under contract to produce three samurai movies (jidaigeki—period, costume dramas) for Toho studios, Spider Web Castle was originally slated to go to director Ishirล Honda, best known for his 1954 kaiju classic Godzilla but Kurosawa ended up making the trio of films. His 1960 The Bad Sleep Well was informed by Hamlet—though not a direct correspondence—and Kurosawa’s final work Ran, which is based off of King Lear. Throne of Blood in turn influenced Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Macbeth and the death of Taketoki Wasizu (the Lady Macbeth analogue) inspired the death of the mother of the titular Carrie in the 1976 horror classic.

Monday, 19 December 2022

reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some (10. 344)

For the 1843 first printing of the novella by Charles Dickens—see previouslyOpen Culture treats us to a accomplished recitation of the work as the author himself would have delivered it, by Neil Gaiman, through studying the hand-edited copy he used for public readings. The Victorian morality tale relates the profound redemption, on Christmas Eve, of a bitter miser with the aid of supernatural intervention. The narration begins at about the eleven minute mark.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

santa claus (10. 337)

First screened in September of 1898, we are directed towards the technical marvel by George Albert Smith considered the first short, silent film about Christmas—with pioneering examples of parallel action and double-exposure—making it one of the most sophisticated examples of filmmaking to date. After two young children are put to bed on Christmas Eve, St Nicholas enters the house through the chimney and start trimming the tree and filling the stockings hung by the fire. After surveying his work, he disappears the same way he came in. The latter innovation already demonstrated, superimposition in cinematography, in two of Smith’s earlier experiments—namely Photographing a Ghost (see also) and The Mesmerist—is a particular segue into the filmmaker’s life and career, chiefly billed as a magic lantern lecturer, hypnotist and psychic ahead of his extensive filmography of short subjects, which Smith turned to after being drummed out of the Society for Psychical Research (see above) over alleged fraud—and possibly contributing to the death of his accuser by overdosing on opium—turning his interest to the nascent movie industry run out of small studios in Brighton and Hove, specialising in special effects and colour processing.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

8x8 (10. 261)

allhallowtide: the artwork of Mike Egan that references elements of Dรญa de Muertos—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

famous artist dies penniless and all alone: the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s archives of artists’ obituaries   

fps: visualizing sweeping across the globe at the speed of light  

forma: Federal Occult Range Management Administration  

mapping out the month: the thirty day charting challenge returns  

eleiรงรตes gerais: Brazilian artists herald the return of President Lula  

ghost bride: a centuries-old tradition practised in some communities in Kerala  

ofrenda: a guide to making an altar to celebrate the lives of loved ones who’ve passed

Saturday, 4 June 2022

they’re here

Released on this day in 1982 from an adaptation of a story by Steven Spielberg and featuring the talents of JoBeth Williams, Zelda Rubinstein, Heather O’Rouke, Craig T Nelson and Dominique Dunne, the parapsychological thriller follows a suburban California family whose home is haunted by malevolent ghosts who abduct their younger daughter, Carol Anne, having inexplicably carrying on with a television set airing post-broadcast static. While the rest of the family is sent away for safety and having determined that the nature of the intrusion is a poltergeist, the ghost-hunting team summon spiritual medium Tangina Barrons who locates Carol Anne on the other side and guides her mother through the gateway to retrieve her, Barrons triumphantly proclaiming, “This house is clean!”

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

7x7

hopeful seals: the Cinderella stamp art of Nina Dzulkska 

rock, paper, scissors: the colour-coded courtship of male side-blotched lizards  

unrest: the harp jazz of Brandee Younger  

sessho-seki: a volcanic rock on Mount Nasu said to contain a malevolent spirit has split open  

heardle: a Name That Tune style game—via Kottke’s Quick Links 

ten times incalculable: The Atlantic correspondent Ed Yong speaks to our collective numbing to the news  

potemkin stairs: the Odessa Opera in 1942 and today

Sunday, 21 November 2021

8x8

turnspit: eccentric, utilitarian canine breeds that have passed out of fashion but could be revived—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see there) 

ball-and-chain: this leashless ankle weight system to control one’s toddler will only make baby invincible—via Super Punch  

miss spirit world 1960: a pageant sourced in spectral photography of the departed  

something—that if true, you couldn’t handle it: a close reading of the recently indicted QANon Shaman’s manifesto  

on รฉcrit aussi ielle: the authoritative French language Petit Robert adds a third, gender-neutral personal pronoun—a concatenation of the masculine and feminine forms (see also)  

the midnight special: eight hours of footage from David Bowie’s television programme the “The 1980 Floor Show,” an episode guest-curated by the artist  

hocus-pocus: the hidden overhauls happening the faรงades of Russian construction sites (see also)  

yes, this is dog: a video phone that allows apartment-bound dogs to call their humans

Saturday, 30 October 2021

8x8

the motion picture that pits steel weapons against steel nerves: Joan Crawford in Herman Cohen’s 1967 Berserk! plus a medley of other horror films 

phenaskistiscopic vinyl: animated record albums—see previously  

cop26: designer installs a sinking Monopoly style house on Putney Weir ahead of this crucial climate conference 

ghostly footsteps (with chains): in 1977, BBC’s foley artists (previously) released a best-selling record of spooky sound-effects  

cloaca maxima: Rome’s revered sewer-system—see also  

auchan daily mascarpone cheese: a decade of Russian music videos  

the high-handed enemy: director Denis Villeneuve storybooks the gom jabbar scene 

 kitchen witchery: a tarot deck to divine one’s dinner

Friday, 29 October 2021

spirit halloween

Courtesy of Boing Boing, whilst the Horror GIF Necronomicon may not have an exhaustive selection of every spooky animation that was circulating during the nineties and naughties, there’s certainly an impressive amount to be found and the site (an original Neocities property) seems to be still undead and kicking.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

7x7

in the stacks: museum curators uncover what may be the oldest depiction of a ghost on an ancient Mesopotamian tablet 

1928 porter: a look at the 1965 short-lived sitcom (see also) My Mother the Car 

this climate does not exist: visualisations of one’s neighbourhood under the climate crisis from Nag on the Lake  

ev: more outstandingly odd electric vehicles from the on-line market Alibaba—via Things Magazine  

reasonable person: “a moron in a hurry” is codified in Anglophone legal statute—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

graphics processing unit: glitch art in medical imaging—via Waxy  

don’t go wasting your emotion: the ABBA classic, as performed by a vampire—via Everlasting Blรถrt

Friday, 15 October 2021

development hell

The Maximum Fun podcasting network (previously) has been hosting a block party this week to introduce the neighbours—that is, new programming adjacent to the shows that one already listens to discover new content and expand one’s listenership, helpfully recommending crossing-over points and places with easy egress for those unfamiliar with the programme’s content and approach. Already feeling over-subscribed, I am reluctant to add more shows but was always about Dead Pilots’ Society—see also here and here—whose premise is to unearth spec scripts for sit-coms and procedurals that were never produced and give them a proper table-read with a cast of professional actors and stand-ups. One stellar point of entry is episode twenty from 2017 that covers the bizarre pitch from writer Rob Schrab for Jetpackula performed with the talents of Patton Oswalt, Sujatat Day and Constance Wu about a has-been graphic novel illustrator whom befriends a vampire from the future, which was ultimately deemed too expensive to create. Check it out at the link above.

8x8

day-walker: monster lore invented by Hollywood—via Miss Cellania’s links 

tastes like pencil-shavings and heartbreak: niche Chicago liquor Jeppson’s Malรถrt  

vermithrax pejorative: dress up as Galen (Peter McNicol) from Dragonslayer plus other obscure, vintage costumes—via Super Punch  

modelleisenbahn: real-time model railroading with Hamburg’s transit system—via Maps Mania 

hedge rider: an etymological celebration of wizards, witches, warlocks and more 

๐Ÿ•‰: chanting, harmonised breathing and parasyphonic sounds  

mundane outfits: revisiting a tradition of dressing as highly specific yet relatable, everyday, social faux pas—an unfancy dress ball held in Japan and Taiwan 

the calls are coming from inside the building: a lampoon of the haunted house film trope

Saturday, 9 October 2021

7x7

the boy on the bike: a trip down Golden Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset with a beloved bread advert directed by Ridley Scott with music by Dvoล™รกk  

dedication—devotion, turning all the night time into the day: more on the hypothesis (see previously) that the Dire Straits song can improve any movie ending 

the hauntening: various AIs try their hand at spookifying, exorcising Victorian mansions—previously

outbreak: a timelapse of COVID-19 cases in the United States over the past eighteen months 

just the punctation: what text without words reveals to authors about their style—via Waxy  

abecedarium: a 1968 Alphabet (previously) of the Dada movement hosted by Hans Richter (caution, some rapid, flashing images) 

raลกรญnovo embankment: revitalised Prague riverfront features vaulted arches for cafes and gallery spaces

Thursday, 7 October 2021

shock theatre

With the debut of the syndicated package of made-for-television monster movies after a few minor roles in a Western series—one being an undertaker—on this day in 1957 in the Philadelphia market, John Zacherle (*1918 - †2016) began a decades’ long career as a horror host, editing a pair of anthologies of ghost stories plus penning a few monster novelty songs. Often filling in for his colleague and fellow Philadelphian broadcaster Dick Clark when touring, Zacherle was the substitute MC for American Bandstand. As a promotional stunt to mark his move to New York, Zacherley staged a presidential campaign in 1960, running as a “cool ghoul” but failing to meet the threshold to get on the ballot in any state. Continuing the same format as Shock Theatre, the interstitial breaks became more and more elaborate with a cast of monstrous characters and branched out into a few motion picture parts as well as hosting a cartoon variety hour and adolescent dance show in New Jersey called Disc-O-Teen. Through the seventies and eighties, Zacherle was a Prog Rock disk-jockey and in an array of b-movies. His success and notoriety helped his niece Bonnie Zacherle develop and successfully pitch her 1982 toy line, My Little Pony—the horror.

Friday, 1 October 2021

this ain’t no sunday school picnic

Having garnered quite a bit of experience and reputation in the Pittsburg market making television commercials, industrials and educational shorts with their production company The Latent Image, George A. Romero (previously) and John Russo resolved to make a full-length feature responding to audience interest in the genre of horror, realising their ambitions on this day in 1968—as our faithful chronicler informs, with the premier of the classic featuring a growing horde of the cannibalistic undead surrounding a group barricaded in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. Though establishing the rules and conventions for future films of this type, zombies are never mentioned, and like all good monster movies allegorically tracks and critiques contemporary social mores including Cold War paranoia, Western hegemony and domestic apartheid.

7x7

cultured: beautiful Petri dish art (see also) from Dasha Plesen  

tax centinels: protesting college students conspired to create “penny famines” across the US in the late 1930s 

rediffusion: the Thames Television archives—via Things magazine  

fat bear bracket: follow the celebration of survival and success with Katmai’s nature preserve ursine residents—via Hyperalleric’s Required Reading 

the thing on the fourble board: a 1948 episode of the radio programme Quiet, Please! is considered to be one of the scariest broadcasts ever 

bisection: the spiralling figural sculpture of Isabel Miramontes  

frustule: the rich diversity of diatoms illustrated in an 1890 volume

botober

For this latest instalment of the annual tradition of using machine learning to generate Halloween and autumnal themed sketching—or decorating prompts—we really enjoyed some of the curated favourites from Janelle Shane (previously) and gamely humans take to these suggestions. In order of model dataset size—Moustaches creep creepily; the unseen graveyard stretches for miles; mist-sheep chew on tombstones. A slightly less experienced, exposed artificial intelligence recommends: the question mark from a box; half a cup of milk; a flappy spider; a flappy tea; Ghost traitors and A zombl. Much more, including submissions and unrelated prompts for animals (Bearllionaire) and landscapes (Library of Lava) at AI Weirdness at the link above.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

easy-bake coven

Via the Awesomer, we learn that the gag children’s book cover parody has been expanded into a whole series of retro-inspired educational texts for precocious young witches and warlocks and other delinquents—see also. Be sure to Steven Rhodes’ complete Sinister Seventies line and My Little Occult Book Club collection at the links above.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

555-2368

The single released by session guitarist and song writer Ray Parker Jr as theme to the eponymous film (see previously) on this day in 1984 climbed to the top of the US charts and held that place for three weeks. In the UK, it reached the number two spot in mid-September, staying there for the same amount of time. The Oscar-nominated song lost to Stevie Wonder’s Best Original Song, the ballad for The Woman in Red “I Just Called to Say I Love You” (see also) and was the subject of a lawsuit—settled the following year out of court, Parker accused of having plagiarised the melody of Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug” by the band.

Monday, 1 March 2021

your daily demon: abraxas

An aspect of Christian godhood of Gnostic traditions, we have encountered this sixty-ninth spirit beforehand, who also goes by the name Decarabia, and was thought to govern three-hundred sixty-five skies with as many virtues. In demonology, Abraxas (ฮ‘ฮ’ฮกฮ‘ฮžฮ‘ฮฃ and the related incantation abracadabra) is an infernal marquis who controls thirty legions and rules from today through the fifth of March and is considered, according to some sources including our sometimes illustrator Jacques-Albin-Simon Collin de Plancy, responsible for the figure of Jesus Christ, dispatching Him to Earth as a benevolent ghost and is described as an anguipede deity, that is a chimera with snakes for feet and the head of a king. Abraxas is opposed by the angel Rochel and has power over birds and herbs.