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Mini Horror Reviews - Halloween

Thu Oct 30, 2014, 7:10 PM
Halloween Michael Myers by Nonsense-Prophet

Movie Poster


It's October and the sacred 31 days of Halloween are upon us-time to get your gore on! The chill is in the air, the leaves are on the ground, and Halloween candy has been out since Labor Day. So while you’re waiting in the Starbucks line for an overpriced double pumpkin spice whatever, pass the time with this year’s scary movies reviews!

Halloween (1978)

Review by RWSlavin

It was the first, the simplest and the best of all the slasher films of the 80s and 90s that sought to replicate its magic. The casting was perfection. It was Jamie Lee Curtis’s first feature film, having just begun her career on TV episodics. She is the small town high school to–die–for girlfriend who is portrayed in the script as not knowing how beautiful and sexy she really is. While the rest of her fellow babysitter friends are hooking up with boyfriends all around the neighborhood on Halloween, she does homework and watches “The Thing From Another World” on TV with her young charges. It is because she is so dutiful in her babysitting and alert to danger threatening her kids that she is initially the only one aware of the mad killer on the loose.

Donald Pleasance does his typical bravura job as the nuthouse doctor, succinctly and believably relating the Michael Myers 411 to the audience. Pleasance was an actor with talent worthy of Shakespeare. That the sleepy neighborhood setting for the mayhem after dusk is so instantly identifiable to so many of us as being where we grew up is a great plus in making the murders all the more resonantly frightening. Once the killings start, there isn’t need for much plot. Jamie Lee wrangles her kids from one hiding place to the next like a mother duck and her ducklings, all the while trying to alert her still–living friends and co–ordinate with the cops and the doctor, who finally show up to help her out. Unfortunately, the killer has a thing for her, and finally traps her for what will surely be her death. Luckily, the good doctor practices “tough love,” pumping six high caliber bullets into his patient, blowing him through the second floor window and out onto the lawn. But of course the body is gone when the survivors take one last look just before the credits roll.

“Halloween” had a purity of tone and purpose that still makes it a joy to watch today. A tightly budgeted minor horror masterpiece, it achieves its desired number of scream–worthy sequences and flashes of sudden terror like a train running perfectly on schedule. And most importantly, we all have a Jamie Lee in our lives who was our most sensible and levelheaded friend or our perfect girlfriend. She’s an All–American “good girl” hero we can really care about. Be sure to watch this one before enduring the other slashers.

Italian Masters of Horror

Thu Oct 30, 2014, 6:55 PM
40-img-00 by techgnotic

Giallo is Italian for yellow… and Horror

In the wake of the real life horrors meted out on Italians during World War II, brutalized by Mussolini and then by Nazi occupation and then having their country used as one great battleground chessboard between Nazis and the invading U.S. and Allied forces, there was for a long time little appetite for horror in movies. It wasn’t until 1956 that the first genuine horror film (a vampire story) was produced and released. It bombed, soundly rejected by the public. The film would be of little note were it not for its having been “ghost directed” by its cinematographer, Mario Bava. In 1959, Bava created an Italian version of “The Blob” and the Italian horror genre finally gained a toehold.

Bava became the most celebrated of the core trio of great “Giallo” moviemakers.

“Giallo” means “yellow” in Italian. Giallo paperbacks were popular lurid pulp novels with identifying yellow backgrounds on their covers. “Giallo movies,” a unique blend of crime, mystery and sex–infused horror stories would become the equivalent of Britain’s signature Hammer Films. Bava was their first master. Then came Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento. Bava’s Mask of Satan (U.S. title: “Black Sunday”) is considered the first true horror movie in post-war Italy, even if it’s not formulaically a giallo film, owing more to classic Universal Studios horror films than giallo.

The giallo formula is built around a murder mystery often containing a mix of horror and Hitchcockian elements, such as an ordinary person (usually an outsider) thrust into an extraordinary circumstance. Often within this formula the main character is a witness whose credibility and or sanity is questioned by police authorities and people of elevated social standing.

Giallo films have greatly influenced American horror films. Wes Craven utilized the giallo formula very effectively in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). The film’s female protagonist is a teen named Nancy who is being preyed upon by a deceased child murderer in her dreams. Throughout the film her sanity is questioned by her parents, one of whom is played by John Saxon of giallo film fame. Audiences responded approvingly of the giallo madness–or–sanity framing of the film, making it a big success and putting it on the level of the Halloween and Friday the 13th slasher films that were its forerunners. The film spawned many sequels and made Robert Englund a horror icon.

Bava the Maestro

Mario Bava was the cinematographer on The Day the Sky Exploded (1958) which was the first Italian science fiction film. He directed what is now regarded as the first of the Italian giallo films, The Girl Who Knew too Much (aka “The Evil Eye”) (1963). In both its tone and in its title, this film clearly evokes the spectre of Alfred Hitchcock.  Shot beautifully in black and white, the film plays as an atmospheric mystery/whodunit about a beautiful visitor in Italy, played by Leticia Roman, who may or may not have witnessed a murder after arriving in Italy to visit her ailing aunt.

Bava followed up with another influential giallo film, Blood and Black Lace (aka “Six Women for the Murderer”) (1964). Bava sets this film in a fashion house of beautiful models with dirty secrets. A killer is preying on the models, bumping them off one at time using different methods. The killer’s intention is to acquire a diary that contains proof of the illicit activities going on within the house. Many “body count” slasher films were inspired by this film. The Halloween and Friday the 13th series’ come to mind. This film separates itself from them with a stronger story element that builds its mystery on a killer with a clear motive.

In 1965 Bava directed the odd sci–fi/horror hybrid film Planet of the Vampires. While it is not considered one of his better films, many of its elements appear to have been borrowed by Ridley Scott for his sci–fi/horror juggernaut Alien (1979).

Most of Bava’s fame in the horror genre actually all comes back to his earlier work, especially the 1960 gothic horror film Black Sunday/Mask of Satan. A more classical and highly atmospheric film, Black Sunday’s roots are grounded stylistically in the early Universal horror films. It tells the story of a woman (played by the hypnotically beautiful Barbara Steele) who is found guilty of vampirism and sentenced to death. The method of her execution is to have an “Iron Maiden”–style spiked mask of Satan driven into her face with a large mallet. Accented by dazzling camerawork, this scene of her execution is still one of the most memorable sequences of the horror genre. Still, to this day, the iconic image of Barbara Steele’s spike–gouged face forever cries out: “Bava!” This film’s success led to Bava being courted by Hollywood to work in the States. He declined, remaining in the land of “giallo.”

Your Thoughts

  1. Besides “Black Sunday” and “Black Sabbath,” the two early “Americanized” Mario Bava films that have become late night staples, how many other Italian horror films have you seen?

  2. Would you know the stylistic differences between Bava, Fulci and Argento?

  3. Do you ever find a horror movie too violent, bloody or disturbing?

  4. Is it just the language barrier or are there other reasons Italy’s horror films have never been as popular as British, French, Spanish and other foreign fright flicks?

Collection: Creatures

Thu Oct 30, 2014, 3:38 PM
sancient  creatures by sancient


In ancient tradition, Halloween was thought to be the night of the year when the realms of the living of the living and the dead came the closest together, enabling evil spirits and demons to hop over to our side to make mischief. For centuries the Church made very serious studies of what these hellacious creatures were actually thought to look like. Today, “creature imagining” is just a creative exercise and a way of having fun. Thank goodness none of our deviantART artists are drawing any of the subjects of this collection from live models. (Then again, just maybe…)

Evolution of Art

Wed Oct 29, 2014, 7:38 PM
Evil Robot Invaders by bergamind


The Gift of Madefire


Foreword by techgnotic

depthRADIUS is pleased and proud to present Liam Sharp as a guest writer and welcome his editorial prowess as our newest contributing writer. Liam is legendary as the sci–fi comic book artist, writer and publisher enfant terrible of Britain, his career having begun with 2000 AD magazine. He went on as artist, scripter and short story writer for publications such Heavy Metal and Vampirella. He started his own publishing company, Mam Tor, to self–publish Sharpenings: the Art of Liam Sharp. In 2011, Liam Sharp co–founded Madefire and is the company's CCO. Liam is also author of the novel God Killers. His contributions to our community will no doubt be as significant and inspiring as the work achieved thus far by this multi–faceted artist.

From Shadows on cave walls to digital light streams around the world.

by LiamSharp

Longer ago than memory, a piece of wood, and the fire that burned it, did more than cook and smoke food, gift a nighttime cave with light and warmth. When the flame was out, and only a burned stump remained, somebody took that and they marked a wall with it.

Scrawling in charcoal they created mythic art, and human beings then did what no other creatures roaming the plains, swimming in the seas or flying in the skies could do. They began telling themselves their very own story of their creation, being and destiny.

The most ancient poem we have is a Mesopotamian fantasy called The Epic of Gilgamesh, from 2500bc. Beyond that we get Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey—The Trojan War, Achilles, Hector, Odysseus and his ten–year journey home. The great quest, the fellowship, the un–surmountable obstacles, and (of course) the monsters!

But what ultimate purpose did the mythic legend serve?

What it did was record our struggle with nature, and help us understand the challenges of our environment. It empowered us, emboldened us before battle. It gave us strength in times of famine or hardship.

Most importantly, it ennobled us—giving us heroic ancestors, whose parents were gods—thereby linking us directly with our creators. As Isaac Asimov once observed: these were the parents we invented for ourselves, that would not grow old and die, but would instead remain perpetually bigger and better and stronger than we could ever be. And so this, in turn, also gifted us hope beyond life. It made death comprehendible and acceptable to us.

Mythic art is essential. It is aspirational and inspirational.

Culturally and socially the mythic constructs girding our spiritual lives give us a powerful sense of purpose and deeper reasons for our ultimate existence as unique life forms.

In literature, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels repurposes the ancient magical quest format to create biting satire. Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland seems to be a drug–fuelled quivering meditation on denial and frustrated longing—but wearing mythic clothing.

In art, Goya, Brueghel and Bosch all used mythic imagery to supreme effect to make social and dangerously political statements. Later the surrealists would create works that trawled the imagination. Dali in particular created work that was anthropomorphic and mythic.

As we see, the imaginative bent of mankind, our ability to create fictions, does more than just swell our hearts—it gets us looking forward. It can comment on now—as allegory—or it can be prophetic.

This same power of conception led early scientists to speculate on the nature of the universe and future wonders:

I argue that it is our ability to imagine the fantastic, the impossible, the mythic that is the unique faculty that defines us as human beings.

Living in our current world of staggering social imbalances and soul–sickening cynicism, even as the dazzling gates of all digital wonders swing open before us — how can it be that the need for the next iteration, a powerful return, to mythic arts creation, is not the deafening hue and cry ringing out across our planet?

Thankfully, the next new medium to tell our tales with–a living, digital medium—is here.

Madefire invites you to ignite a new revolution in mythic storytelling arts!

The new tools for the creation of heroes & gods. Multiple digital tools have freed us again, and we’re crafting a new language using them. It’s a bold language, and it has no boundaries. It’s an appropriator of multiple mediums, from photography to paint, to pencil, to pixels. We’re carving digital clay in real–time. For now, at least, there are no rules–and that makes for exciting times!

As Prometheus once gifted man with the enlightenment of myth–making fire, Madefire and deviantART now facilitate storytellers with the Motion Book tool. Open to ALL creators in ANY medium, it has been built especially to make sequential stories within these new virtual caverns. This is a shout out to anybody, with the desire to create—pro and amateur alike! Publish your stories in the Motion Book section on deviantART, and sell them or make them free—it’s your call. Bring your words and your pictures. Bring your vision!

Layers reveal layers, the grammar of reading is broken down and reinvented anew. There is no top down, or left to right. Time becomes the margin, the gutter, the engine that drives the story forward—and you control that as the reader, or the story–builder.

Make a snapshot jpg of your written words, or type them in using the tool, and create an article, a short story, a novel. Upload jpgs of your comic pages and create a print–style comic. Upload your photos, your sketches—anything you like! And, should you choose, add your music, motion, depth—it’s your story. Make it whatever you want it to be!

And support your fellow creators by reading their books. Share them. Love them. Find your clan, who are writing these new mythologies, and let’s pass the Promethean torch.

We live in an age of wonder, and as mythic creators we must take back stories—reclaiming them.

We’re telling the world, the media, the doubter, the commentator and critic that we don’t need to be told what to like!

We don’t have to listen to the artelligentia who think they can distinguish a pseud–grail of authentic art from all other art. But all art is art—no matter how naïve—and it is all subjective, and it is all ours.

Become Empowered!

Tell us your stories! Light a million digital torches. Show us what you've got!

Life Changing Art

Wed Oct 29, 2014, 5:19 PM
40-img-06 by techgnotic

Life Changing Art

As the members of the Today Page editorial board were putting together the editorial and visual elements of the article about “The Song of the Lark” saving Bill Murray’s life, the emotional quality of the content seemed to raise a special spirit that filled the space. Each of the team present began sharing which painting or poem or photograph had pulled them through a rough time in their life. We knew we had to share these “rescue art” stories with the community—but even more importantly, we want to know about your lifesaving experiences with art.

Would you mind sharing your personal story? There is, no doubt, someone online in our worldwide network whose life might be saved by the shared memory of a brother or sister in the arts community.

Bill Murray: Can A Painting Save A Life

Hesiod Listening to the Inspiration of the Muse by Edmond-François Aman-Jean (France, 1860—1935)

“I saw this painting in the museum not long after I first arrived in Los Angeles to try to make my way toward a new life. This painting resonated with what I was feeling and experiencing like nothing else had since my first day in the city. Los Angeles is filled with people, but I knew no one, so my personal landscape was as barren as the countryside this poet walks in. I was all alone but for the memories of everyone I had ever known, of every place I had ever been and every thing I had ever done, all that had now brought me to where I found myself, gazing at myself reflected in this painting.

Like the subject of the painting walking in this field, I realized I was trying to hear my Muse in all of life that had come before. It was then, I knew, that once again what needed to be expressed would flow from within me as if it were automatic, as if the hand of the Muse had again alighted on mine to serve as its guide. Well, one could hope for such things.”


“The essential truth is that sometimes you’re worried that they’ll find out it’s a fluke, that you don't really have it. You’ve lost the muse or—the worst dread—you never had it at all. I went through all that madness early on.”

– Robin Williams

“I was about 8 years old when I saw this painting for the first time. My young brain hadn’t at that time defined what “epic” truly meant. Even though my mother was Roman Catholic and my father Church of England we weren’t a religious family so on seeing ‘The Great Day of His Wrath’ for the first time, I saw it purely as a natural disaster bring about the end of the world. The idea of a single entity or intelligent being able to create destruction on such a large scale was incomprehensible to such a young mind. I had guilt issues after squashing bugs so the thought of anyone being able to bring the lives of millions of people to an end was completely beyond me.

This is a painting that I visit in the Tate gallery, in London, at least once every two or three years. I always sit about eight feet away from it for ten minutes or more before walking closer to admire the detail. I’ve always thought of John Martin as Jack Kirby of the 19th Century. The imagination behind this had to be driven by some inner demon. It was many years later that I found out this was his response to the Industrial Revolution and his fears that it would destroy the world.”


The Third of May 1808. (1814) by Francisco Goya

I was in High School and coming to admire Napoleon Bonaparte (a little too much). One day I was arguing on his behalf as the bold modernizer who brought democracy, of a sort, to the rest of backward Europe, albeit on the points of bayonets. But as Stalin said, ‘You have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.’ My cavalier attitude about Stalin’s, not to mention Bonaparte’s, atrocities was noted by one of my teachers. She scribbled “5/3/08—Goya” on a post–it and sent me to the nearby University’s arts library.

Goya’s “Disasters of War” paintings changed my thinking on “progress at any cost.” At night I dreamed I could hear the Spanish POWs screaming for mercy from the Frenchmen invading their country. I read all about Goya. He painted “May Third” yet pledged allegiance to Bonaparte and painted members of the French regime. In 1811 he was awarded the Royal Order of Spain. The life of this artist was at least as intriguing as that of any political revolutionary. Goya became my new tarnished hero.


“I wish I could present the piece of art that forever changed me, but the search for that life altering moment is still ongoing. Perhaps, this is a good thing. It means I am still on a journey of discovery, full of unsatisfied curiosity to see what awaits, always vigilant for that moment, and ever eager to explore. The journey is often more rewarding than the destination they say.

On this journey I have already encountered several pieces of art which I treasure. Pieces that inspire, hold a touch of magic, add beauty, and bring me joy. This is one such piece. It captures so many emotions and possibilities. It is a dream grounded in reality, for as fantastical as it seems, that moment can be real—the crisp air dancing on my skin, the waves whispering as I gracefully float on enchanted by the glowing gleam of hope filling the night sky.

One day, I hope it is. This is what inspires me, finding the magical in the mundane. Magical moments are all around us, we only need stop and look.”


“So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself.”

– Alan Watts

“There’s so much life present in this painting. From nature’s green, water in motion, and the mystical glowing orbs that are all surrounded by darkness. It reminds me that my life should be filled with the beautiful things that bring me joy, despite what our crazy world has to offer.”


Your Thoughts

  1. Would you mind sharing your own personal story and artwork in the comments below? You never know who you’ll inspire.

Collection: Jean-Daniel Beley

Wed Oct 29, 2014, 5:17 PM
Merge with Nature VIII by djailledie

Jean–Daniel Beley

Jean (aka djailledie on deviantART) is a French photographer renowned for his experimentation and innovations in manipulating images. He rarely shoots a “straight” portrait or a landscape or a still life. He uses mere reality as the first raw material of his photographs, which he then enjoys transforming into something more interesting.

Norman Rockwell, All American Deviant

Tue Oct 28, 2014, 7:51 PM
Norman Rockwell Tribute by Sarafinconcepts

Few artists have so definitively reflected the lives of average Americans as Norman Rockwell.

He began his lifetime dedication to being the “America’s Illustrator” as the 19-year-old art editor for Boys’ Life, the house publication of the Boy Scouts of America. A few years later he assumed his more famous position at The Saturday Evening Post, though he never broke his ties with the Boy Scouts.  His first great achievement painting everyday scenes of America in his signature hyper-realistic style was “The Four Freedoms,” a series inspired by a speech by the U.S. President, Franklin Roosevelt, in 1943 during World War II.  Two of the four paintings, “Freedom from Want,” depicting a family Thanksgiving dinner scene, and “Freedom of Speech,” with an average Joe voicing his opinion at a Town Hall meeting, have become all-American visual icons in the decades since their creation.

Freedom from Want
by Norman Rockwell

Freedom of Speech
by Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Fear
by Norman Rockwell

Freedom of Worship
by Norman Rockwell

Rockwell was a true American patriot, lending his talents when needed as a propagandist of war during World War II, but also painting pleas for peace and reconciliation when inner strife tore at the nation’s fabric in the 1950s and 1960s. He painted his version of the WWII female icon, Rosie the Riveter, for the Post, and not to be confused with the “We Can Do It” J. Howard Miller government commissioned poster gal. Rockwell’s “Rosie” cradled her riveting gun in her lap as she had her sandwich for lunch, the heel of her shoe resting on a copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

When the threat from without was quashed and racial division boiled over as the threat from within, Rockwell, the visual “spokesman” for the majority of average Americans, painted “The Problem We All Live With” (1964). It depicts six-year-old African-American Ruby Bridges on her way to an all-white public school in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.  School desegregation brought threats of violence against the child’s admission, so she was escorted by four deputy U.S. marshals. The wall behind her is vandalized with the n-word and the letters "KKK".  A smashed tomato thrown at the little girl drips on the sidewalk.  Rockwell obviously felt it was his duty to tell hard truths when needed about his beloved America, and he did it as forthrightly and effectively as he did when evoking the joy of a family gathered for Thanksgiving.  He truly defined for all time “American artist.”

Your Thoughts

  1. What is your favorite Norman Rockwell painting?

Collection: Masks

Tue Oct 28, 2014, 7:22 PM
TB by dasTOK


Halloween is a time for masks. Aliens, zombies, vampires and werewolves will soon walk the suburban streets in search of tasty treats. But then there is the next level of masks—the likenesses of movie stars, politicians and other celebrities with their most unflattering features exaggerated. Cheap shots, to be sure, but alibied as “satire.” We finally arrive at the “non–off–the–rack” mask–making of actual make–up artists. Here’s where the mask one chooses tells us things about the person we only thought we knew. You see, the scariest thing about masks is their very concept—of a friend or loved one, beneath the surface, not really being the person you know at all. That is a truly fearful thing.

Mini Horror Review - Blade

Mon Oct 27, 2014, 5:14 PM
Blade Trinity by RHuggs

Movie Poster


It's October and the sacred 31 days of Halloween are upon us-time to get your gore on! The chill is in the air, the leaves are on the ground, and Halloween candy has been out since Labor Day. So while you’re waiting in the Starbucks line for an overpriced double pumpkin spice whatever, pass the time with this year’s scary movies reviews!

Blade (1998)

Review by RWSlavin

In 1973, Marvel Comics, leading at the forward edge of the zeitgeist as usual, introduced “Blade,” the half–human, half–vampire slayer of vampires. A hip black hero for a change. In 1998 the role of “Blade” was assumed on film by super cool Wesley Snipes. In this first of the now three “Blade” movies, the plotline involves Blade vs. the vampire leader who created him by feeding on Blade’s pregnant mother. The evil megalomaniacal vamp wants vampires to “come out” as rulers over humanity, rather than remain hidden in the shadows. This is the film’s weakness. Other than Wesley Snipes killing vampires with his Kung Fu moves punctuated with silver throwing knives, while looking totally bad–ass in his black leather outfit, there’s nothing new in this story, it being a stale stew of other vampire movie plot devices and ideas.  But just with a really cool black hero. OK, so you have to take progress as it comes, e.g., sometimes really slowly. What we do have here is precursor to a far superior film in Blade 2 directed by Guillermo Del Toro.

Collection: Stars

Mon Oct 27, 2014, 5:12 PM
Midnight Rainbow by spatarozliev


Photographs and paintings of stars occupy that category of things you know are so, and yet it’s not quite possible to believe. One example is radio or television “signals” traveling in “waves” through the air, only to be reassembled for your listening or viewing pleasure in your living room radio or TV. Looking at clusters of stars lighting up the night sky like massive storm clouds, it’s impossible to think of those stars, those points of light, as separate massive burning suns, even though I know it’s so. Sometimes the most powerful magic requires no deception at all. The natural universe is more mystifying in its sheer numbers than any magician’s most mind–bending sleight of hand.

Who is Dr. Strange?

Mon Oct 27, 2014, 4:59 PM
Dr Stange colored by DM-P18

For several months the world has been asking the question ‘Who is Doctor Strange?’

The faces of Ethan Hawke, Johnny Depp, Jon Hamm, Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Hardy, Jared Leto have been click bait for a thousand sites waiting for news of the star of the next Marvel movie franchise. According to Mike Fleming over at Deadline it now looks like Marvel have finally landed their perfect Doctor Strange in Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch.

But while everyone is chasing the casting news, who is asking the real question here of ‘Who is Doctor Strange?’

In the Marvel Comics Stephen Strange was a brilliant neurosurgeon with a bright future ahead of him and was the envy of his collegues for his achievements. Unfortunately his success consumed him. His desire for more and greater wealth blinded him to his sacred doctor’s oath of first and foremost caring for those in need.

All of that came crashing down in an instant one evening when Strange was in a car accident that ends his medical career. Damaged beyond repair his hands were no longer capable of surgery. Strange’s stubbornness leads him to exhaust his considerable wealth to find a cure, traveling the world and ending at the doors of a hidden temple in the Himalayas, home to a humble hermit known only as the Ancient One.

In reality the Ancient One was our worlds Sorcerer Supreme and Stephen’s last chance at finding a cure. The Ancient One refused to help Strange but allows him to stay at the temple until a snowstorm passes. Also at the temple was the Ancient One’s disciple, a nobleman from Transylvania named Baron Karl Mordo. That night, Strange selflessly foils Mordo’s plan to kill his mentor. With this noble act, the Ancient One sees Stephen’s potential and while casting out Mordo, takes in Strange as his new disciple. Mordo leaves to become Doctor Strange’s mortal enemy.

Eventually Stephen returns to New York and takes up residence in his Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village as Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts.

But where did Doctor Strange come from and Who created him?

Doctor Strange was created by Stephen ‘Steve’ Ditko in 1963. Steve Ditko had already co-created the Amazing Spider-Man but now he was set to create something himself rather than step into something that had been started by others (Spider-Man had previously had Jack Kirby working on it but Stan Lee was looking for something different). One day Steve turned up at the office with the first story already drawn. The dark character was clearly something different than the bright superheroes that Marvel was starting to make its name for but Stan decided to give it a try.

Stan Lee in February-1963—

Well, we have a new character in the works for Strange Tales, just a 5-page filler named Dr. Strange. Steve Ditko is gonna draw him. It has sort of a black magic theme. The first story is nothing great, but perhaps we can make something of him. Twas Steve’s idea; I figured we’d give it a chance, although again, we had to rush the first one too much.”

Stan Lee may have sounded a little negative about it as his contributions to the character was mostly dialogue and Steve went on to write most of the stories he worked on with Stan supplying the dialogue.

The method that Marvel used for writing in the 1960’s later became known as the “Marvel Method”. Stan Lee wanted to have as much control as possible but clearly story and plot weren’t his strong points. By having Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko write their own stories with only a brief call or note from Stan they were able to move a lot faster and produce the material quickly. Stan would dialogue the comics leaving him more time to spend handling marketing and distribution.

We are definitely looking forward to seeing Doctor Strange on the big screen in November 4, 2016, and Steve Ditko getting the recognition he so rightly deserves.

By the sands that time has shifted, By the Winds of weird Watoomb, Let the masking veil be lifted, Though it means a demon's doom!”

— Dr. Strange

Your Thoughts

  1. Do you believe in magic?

Billm by techgnotic

Sometimes a painter’s vision expresses and inspires what the zen philosopher’s words can only define and describe.

When remarkable lives defined by success and abundance are reviewed from their beginnings, it is remarkable that the narrowest of paths, sometimes a precarious balancing between life and death itself, led to the decision to fight on when failure seemed certain. So it was for our beloved friend Bill Murray, having once entertained the thought of ending it all before his career had a chance of getting started. Just imagine how much pure unadulterated joy the world would have been denied had Bill taken that one fatal misstep in his journey on a cold day at the water’s edge…

Nixon’s world imploded with his resignation as President of the United States in the summer of 1974 and a more hopeful America arose in its place. A part of this new world was a fresh anarchistic current of comedy that satirized all the stale conventions of the society that gave us Nixon, ‘Nam and “TV Dinners.” In ’75 a funny guy named John Belushi brought Bill Murray into the “National Lampoon Radio Hour” (a sort of post–grad project of “Harvard Lampoon” alumni). In ’77 Murray was drafted into the then–revolutionary Saturday Night Live during its second season to replace it’s first “star” departure, Chevy Chase. Hip America fell in love with Bill’s “unmade bed” everyman persona over the next three SNL seasons. Bill then transitioned well into the movies with Meatballs, Caddyshack and Stripes. In 1984 he agreed to step into a part vacated by the death of his friend, John Belushi, who was perhaps the single most significant champion and promoter of his early career. He took the part to help finance his remake of The Razor’s Edge, from the Maugham novel about a man’s search for spiritual meaning in a violent and randomly cruel world—issues obviously on Bill’s mind in the wake of John’s death. Ghostbusters went on to become one of the box office blockbusters of all time. Razor’s Edge is gone and all but forgotten.

Bill starred in audience favorite Goundhog Day, but most of his film work has tilted into more experimental and eccentric moviemaking, like Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox and “Moonrise Kingdom.” In 2003 he starred in what he has claimed is his favorite role, as the American movie star Lost in Translation in Japan, having flown in to pick up a big check for doing a TV commercial. The Sofia Coppola–directed film afforded Bill the space to examine a life of fame, opportunities, generous remuneration for one’s talents—and yet still nagged by the core loneliness afflicting all humans. That we’ll never know what it is (perhaps some zen wisdom from Razor’s Edge) that he whispers to fellow traveler and lost soul Scarlett Johansson is the moment that elevates this movie into humanist masterpiece, the small detail that defines our lives on Earth. Pure movie nirvana.

Bill may be our slacker Buddha who continues to define in his every brilliant comedic choice the finer ironic points of modern living, but there was a time when darkness nearly swallowed his developing mind after a comedy club audience gave a thumbs–down to his stage debut. Bill was the disgraced newbie with the Second City crew in Chicago and in fit of depression decided to drive to Lake Michigan. Lucky for us, he had to pass the Chicago Art Institute on his way to the murky shore. Lucky for us, he decided to stop and take a moment before entering oblivion to put some beauty in his head. Lucky for us, that Jules Breton painted The Song of the Lark in 1884. The painting is of a stoically beautiful peasant woman at dawn, readying herself for another day’s hard labor in the fields. Her eyes are raised heavenward, as she apparently hears a lark, a small bird living hidden on the ground, but a singer of beautiful songs when having raised itself up into full flight. Lucky for us, that this painting was there to save Bill Murray’s life and renew his spirits, as he recently revealed, obviously resonating with the comic capable of transcendent humor but who had, nonetheless, crashed and burned on his first attempted public “flight.” Lucky for us that an appreciation for art was a large enough part of his life to inspire him to soar again.

Song of the Lark
by Jules Breton

Your Thoughts

  1. Have you ever had the experience of being lifted out of a seriously dangerous depression or sadness by losing yourself in a work of art? Was the artwork on deviantART and would you share by posting it here in the Comments section?

  2. Is there a particular artist whose works you look at to be uplifted or that invariably just make you feel happy?

Collection: Haunted Houses

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 6:40 PM
The Haunted House by DAN-KA

Haunted Houses

Coming across a deserted house, whether hidden by the distance of a rolling countryside or by the shadows of adjoining city ghetto dwellings, is like stumbling across an unnoticed, unburied corpse. It is obviously dead now, but once it was full of lives. Coming across a haunted house is different. Deserted or still occupied, it is a place where lives, unsatisfied, have refused to move on into a full death. The houses reflect their tenants. They are living dead structures, refusing to return to dust.

jason voorhees friday the 13th wallpaper by suspension99

Movie Poster


It's October and the sacred 31 days of Halloween are upon us-time to get your gore on! The chill is in the air, the leaves are on the ground, and Halloween candy has been out since Labor Day. So while you’re waiting in the Starbucks line for an overpriced double pumpkin spice whatever, pass the time with this year’s scary movies reviews!

Friday The 13th (1980)

Review by RWSlavin

The producers say they were just trying to copy the success of 1978’s “Halloween,” with its simple (and built for low-budget) formula of “isolate high school kids and let a maniac chop them up.” Cultural anthropologists will point out that maniacs Myers, Voorhees & Krueger materialized as the American zeitgeist was shifting from the liberal “60s” to the conservative Reagan backlash years. These “slasher” films were exploitative excuses to celebrate alcohol, dope, partying and bare breasts, yet at the same time they were condemning of such activities as deserving summary death sentences carried out by one of the three instantly iconic angels of death. American capitalist genius: condemn sinful activities, but make the condemnation itself maximally profitable.

The movie itself is a rollercoaster ride through the woods of newly reopened Camp Crystal Lake, scene of the unsolved murders of two fornicating camp counselors many years before. One by one the new crew of fornicating, dope-smoking summer camp counselors is killed off by a maniac seen only in quick flashes. That’s basically the whole story. But the Jason story has become such a classic fable by now that I’m probably not being a “spoiler” to reveal that the only twist is the original killer from F13(#1) is Jason’s mother, who gets beheaded by the sole survivor. Jason’s “shock ending” appearance, popping out of the lake to attack the survivor in her rowboat, was an after-thought not in the script.  Make-up man Tom Savini had just seen “Carrie” with its last second shocker in the denouement and so “homage” was paid. Jason himself would show up as the unkillable romper-stomper who returned again and again throughout the ‘80s, went to Hell in ’93 and into outer space in 2001. “Built in America” – nothing runs like our profitable cinematic maniacs.

Mini Horror Reviews - Psycho (1960)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 6:03 PM
Hitchcock by jdelgado

Movie Poster


It's October and the sacred 31 days of Halloween are upon us-time to get your gore on! The chill is in the air, the leaves are on the ground, and Halloween candy has been out since Labor Day. So while you’re waiting in the Starbucks line for an overpriced double pumpkin spice whatever, pass the time with this year’s scary movies reviews!

Psycho (1960)

Review by RWSlavin

The now legendary shower sequence in which Jamie Lee Curtis’s mom gets stabbed to death is still one of the scariest scenes ever, even though we now know it’s coming and get to brace ourselves. The rest of the movie is pure moment–to–moment heebie–jeebies with Tony Perkins at his creepiest and all along we know his mummified mother up in the attic is waiting to meet us. Knowing the story so well seems to have made the movie scarier over the years, rather than the passage of time having had its usual mitigating effect. Hitchcock had hit some snags in getting his next film produced and decided he was going to create a shocker for the ages with none of the moments of comic relief his other films were known for.  The shower scene was so brutal that he didn’t fight the studio on shooting it—and then the whole picture—in black–and–white. He feared that audiences would be so numbed by his new level of screen violence that their senses would shut down and they’d zone out for the rest of the movie. Psycho is relentless. Still a visceral experience 60 years later.

Collection: Hands

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 6:01 PM
new born at home by bres6


A subject’s hands are the make–up artist’s nightmare. But a subject’s hands are the artist’s delight. All the lines, scars or arthritic bumps are a road map of our lives. The smooth or rough of the skin indicates a life of labor or leisure (or, at least, cerebral tasks). The gesticulations of the hands, captured by the alert and sensitive artist, can often articulate so much more than mere words.

Brian Kesinger: Character Driven

Wed Oct 22, 2014, 10:39 AM
Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 4.28.13 PM by techgnotic

Disney Artist Brian Kesinger on Creating Story through Character

Foreword by techgnotic

It is with great pleasure we welcome BrianKesinger as a guest writer to the Today Page Editorial Team. Considering his authentic citizenship within the deviantART community, his thoughts and insights will be of great value to all aspiring artists, illustrators, writers and others involved in any creative endeavor. For over 18 years, Brian has worked for Walt Disney Studios on films like Big Hero 6, Winnie the Pooh, Tarzan, Tangled, Wreck It Ralph and Bolt. Brian is author and illustrator of his own octovictorian creation, the wildly popular Walking Your Octopus, featuring Otto and Victoria, about a young turn-of-the-century London lady of distinction and her pet octopus.

Take a moment and think about your favorite movie. Now imagine that movie without the main character, as you know them, in it. I think it is important to make a distinction between the plot of a story and the arc of your main character.

The plot is a series of events that result in a character going through an emotional arc. You can briefly define a character arc as how a character feels and acts at the beginning of the story versus how the feel and act in the end. In Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol (1843), Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and at the end he loves it. That is an oversimplification of his arc. The plot is there in order to provide obstacles and choices to show the the audience who they are and what their attitude toward their situation is. A good plot keeps you interested in the story but a good character will make you want to rewatch the movie over and over again. I am personally a fan of movies that have very simple plots as those films leave much more room for character development.

One way to look at a story is a series of choices made in creating the main character. As a storyteller, the more time you put into your character, the easier it will be for you to make those choices for your character be truthful.

Truthfulness is talked about a lot when discussing character creation. Fictional characters are, of course, not real. They do not exist in the real world. They are made up. You must give them reality with relatable traits. Let’s say your main character is a farm hand. How does he feel about that? Does he enjoy the hard labor, or is he bored out of his mind? Let's choose the latter. Note that we are not talking about plot, just discussing character. Does this farm-boy get along with his parents? Let's add mystery by making him an orphan. So we now have the highly relatable story of a bored young man with a decision to make. Should he continue his duties on the farm or answer an inner calling to explore the rest of his world? We know this character. Some of us are this character. So when Luke Skywalker makes his choice, it rings true, because his character has already been established as someone we understand, someone who wants more out of life. We can all relate to his situation. His story will be a bit more exciting than most tales of fugitive farm-boys, but even Star Wars might have bored us had we not been pre-invested in such a relatable character by skilled storytellers.

As an illustrator, my job is to create believable characters. At Disney it is not uncommon for us to start drawing before a writer has even been hired to write a script. Animation and art are a visual media. A picture is worth a thousand words. Drawing your character is one of the best ways to kick off the generation of those words. It is all in the details. How your character dresses, what sort of hair they have, are they big or scrawny? All these questions can be answered and explored through the drawing process. When we work on our films it is common for the character designers and story artists to work at the same time because one department constantly informs the other.

I love this part of the process, as you draw your character and you explore all aspects of them and the ideas start to gel. You put one image next to another and suddenly a story starts to develop, to talk to you. It is very exciting. We had an interesting challenge in creating the character of Baymax for the up coming film Big Hero 6.

I asked Joe Mateo, head of story on the film to talk a little about the difficulties that arose when creating a character without traditional features.

We knew that Baymax was going to be a challenge given his limited amount of facial features to express an emotional range. It's amazing though, what you can achieve with those charming dot eyes combined with a subtle head tilt, a well timed blink, and body gestures. These things plus line delivery can be very effective in expressing different emotions. We're careful though how much emotions we want Baymax to show given that he is just a non sentient robot... or is he?”

Joe Mateo, Head of story on Big Hero 6

On the film Frozen we were tasked with taking a fairy tale “princess movie” and putting a fresh spin on it. One way that we did that was by exploring the characters of Anna & Elsa and creating a believable relationship between the two of them. Paul Briggs, head of story on Frozen speaks more about that here.

One of the great things we had working for us was the tropes of princess films we had done in the past. Audiences already had an expectation we would deliver the familiar romantic love story... a romantic kiss from a prince/knight in shining armor would save the the day. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck knew they wanted to deliver something fresh and different and took the idea from the original Snow Queen story that "an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart" and coupled that with a story about two sisters. The movie really started to focus more about family love than romantic love. The challenge was crafting two siblings that couldn't have that love between one another. We had Elsa, who was hiding a power that she thinks will hurt or kill her sister. So she lives in fear and is afraid to share her love towards her sister. We developed Anna as being fearless but she lives in a world where we she wants to give her love but it is never reciprocated by her sister. She holds onto that true love for her sister though and it's ultimately the thing that saves the day and protects and saves her sister. Anna makes the biggest choice in the movie which is she sacrifices her life to save her sister—an act of true love.”

Paul Briggs, Head of story on Frozen

Interviews Brian Kesinger's Q&A with the Following Deviant Artists


In creating your Lost Kids graphic novel what were some ways that you made your characters believable teenagers even though they are inhabiting a fantastical world?


Felipe Cagno

It's all about really turning your characters into real people, people that you could walk past in the streets and that means tons of research and world building. For every character in the Lost Kids comics I have these extensive character sheets with dozens of questions ranging from their family background, their homes, where they grew up in, the environment around them, to their biggest fears, their hopes and dreams, their psyche, etc.

All that comes into play and you must know your characters better than yourselves, you really must ask the tough questions and come up with interesting answers. A kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY, will most definitely talk and behave very differently than a kid growing up in Orange County, CA. Do they come from a rich family, a blue-collar one, from poverty, where do they go to school, are they outgoing or shy, do they use slang, or perhaps they speak perfect English, are they popular or outcasts, what are their deepest secrets and so forth.

And the most interesting task I had to go through was actually finding a way of these very different kids that should not get along, get together for this adventure. Good storytelling comes from conflict and there is nothing more boring than seeing characters agreeing on paper or screen, you want them to duke it out, you want them to have completely different opinions about the stuff that matters so you can exploit different points of view on a given subject and let the audience choose sides.

Believable teenagers have very strong opinions and views of their world, I just made sure to get all that right even before writing a word of the script.


Can you talk a little about how your characters developed from random sketches to the storylines in your web comic?


Der-shing Helmer

I don't actually sketch randomly and home storylines come out, it's pretty much the opposite... I come up with story elements that I find interesting and work to develop a character that might fit into the scenario in a unique way. For example, in The Meek, I wanted to write a story about a girl who doesn't care much for societal pressures. She started out in sketches as several types of girl, but with the goal of a story in mind, eventually developed in the my character Angora who is introduced as not wearing clothes (that portrayal is pivotal to her essential nature). I don't think the character would have been quite as effective if I had just been drawing naked women, and then tried to mould a story around that visual.

For the new comic that I am making (and will be posting more art of to deviantArt as well), I'm doing something similar; trying to create a certain vision of the future and the people who live there. With the future in mind, I get to create characters that represent my hopes and expectations, vs just randomly hoping to strike gold. My general advice is always to give a context to your sketches, even if you don't ultimately use them... it will help your characters develop into living people who feel like they might really exist somewhere.


When creating your character Veloce Visrin, what were some of the choices you made in designing her look and outfit to help tell the reader what she is all about?


Shilin Huang

I've given Veloce outfits meant for show, as well as casual outfits for the story she is in. The more story-oriented decisions were made with her casual outfit. Naturally, her look should immediately convey her character, because insignificant details on how a character chooses to dress himself/herself are usually a good reflection of their values. I've kept her outfit casual and unimpressive,despite her being the main character, to match her preference for staying away from the spotlight and blending into the crowds. Her clothes are also kept loose fitting rather than skintight, her hair kept free and not diligently kept, giving her a more relaxed air. However, she did come from a respected/feared family, and a hint of the fact that she is supposed to be an upper-class lady still comes across through the halter top, which is the same top/dress featured in her other, more extravagant and impressive outfits, covered up under the guise of her hoodie and otherwise unassuming look.


Your character drawings are so expressive. What are some tips for drawing animal characters with such human emotions while still maintaining their animalistic anatomy?


Tracy Butler

Thank you! Foremost, I’d say it’s important to get to know the subject matter. Gathering some overarching observational knowledge about anatomy, gesture and expression is pretty vital to drawing convincing pictures of such things. It also applies to the ensuing Frankensteinian drawing experiments that I would recommend as a generally effective approach to designing characters that fall somewhere between human and animal (though I’d argue that distinction is mostly philosophical).  Do a lot of sketching, in other words.

Human capacity for self-aware emotional complexities aside, it’d be difficult to mark a clear distinction between human and animal emotions. Among other mammals in particular, there’s quite a lot of overlap in the way we express basic things like fear, dejection and excitement, in fact. Whether human or wolf, a lowered head, fixed stare and curled lip is unmistakably aggressive.  That sort of thing can certainly work to the artist’s advantage when drawing an animalistic character meant to emote in a relatable human fashion.  Further appending the expression with the animal’s telltale posturing - raised hackles, pinned ears, bared fangs - can be mixed in to varying degrees of bestial and dramatic.  The more minute facial features add a layer of human nuance and specificity - the smallest adjustment can put an entirely different spin on an expression. For the given example, downward angled “angry” eyebrows would be well in line with the straightforward appearance of aggression, but simply arching one of the brows higher than the other can turn it into an expression of calculated anger.  Symmetrically high arching brows could make the expression more excited or crazed; furrowed brows could be used to convey a sort of consternated anger, and so forth.

Of course, species that don’t communicate in ways that are especially decipherable to humans and critters with physiognomies that don’t lend themselves well to forming human expressions can present design challenges that might require some careful finagling. To use a popular example, note the dramatically shortened heads of My Little Pony characters as compared to realistic equine heads.  Much of the animal appearance of the face is sacrificed, clustering the features together into an alignment more closely resembling a (cartoon-like) human.  This way, the expressions are eminently readable, never inadvertently shifting from cute to awkward.  In other situations, preserving the animalistic mien might be the greater priority over rendering consistently appealing human expressions. If you ever find yourself trying to draw chagrin on an anteater, consider that in some cases, embracing a bit of the awkwardness might not be a bad thing.  It can make for some defining, memorable characteristics.

My advice overall is to approach whatever abstracted combination of anatomies are at hand as an advantage rather than a limitation to building an expressive character.  The human and animal aspects each bring a toolkit array of physical features, gestures, behaviors and idiosyncrasies to utilize and draw inspiration from - all the more resources with which the character may exude life and emotion, presence and personality.


What led you to pick Korea as the location for your fish out of water story of frankie*SNATCH? And how does that specific location inform what situations your character goes through?


Lynsey Wo

When I initially came up with the concept for frankie*SNATCH back in 2001, I wanted to base it in a large, modern city in the Far East. At the time, Japan was experiencing a huge popularity boom (certainly within the target audience I was wanting to reach) and I wanted to avoid following that trend. After a little bit of research, Seoul seemed to contain the fast pace, bright lights, cosmopolitan scene I was looking for. In these early stages, a strong visual setting was all I was after, and Seoul fitted that need perfectly.

Frankie*SNATCH has always been a character-driven plot, and whilst the location had never been hugely influential as a whole, as the story developed darker, controversial issues, I still needed to make sure it was still appropriate. For example, a major theme of substance abuse within the story lead me to research the sort of healthcare and treatment available for those suffering with addictions, and how this sort of issue is perceived and handled by Korean society as a whole. This research directly impacted on how the character(s) confronting this issue would handle it, particularly from the societal angle. This idea of such an old-fashioned taboo against the backdrop of an otherwise modern, diverse city was something I found interesting, but it also made me realise the importance of making sure the characters were believable enough for them to address the issues presented to them with as little help from the outside as possible.

Questions for Brian Kesinger

  1. Brian has volunteered to answer any questions you might have in a series of video updates we will post soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for a shout-out from him.

    Leave your questions for Brian in the comments below.

Every year, the United Nations sets a theme for their International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The 2014 theme is…

Leave no one behind: think, decide and act together against extreme poverty.”

I n a world as progressed as we believe ourselves to be it seems that poverty is still winning and growing. Income disparity in “advanced” economies such as the United States is growing rapidly with the top 1% gaining and the middle class slipping precariously. The Pope and other world leaders have identified income disparity as the greatest danger facing the world. In the former Soviet-influenced states, oligarchs amass wealth putting every capitalist of the last two centuries to shame while the general population slides deeper into deprivation.

Africa, East Asia and many parts of Central and South America remain as poor as ever even as local economic opportunity grows. In North Korea the population is simply poor.  In China, people work themselves to death while their economy is touted as the next great consumer market. We can only guess at what it means to be in a factory city working in a factory, for factory wages, without any suggestion that you will ever evolve to any other place or level. Another kind of poverty?

Of late the press increasingly carries stories that the very wealthy are “pitching-in” to solve world hunger or eradicate malaria or fund micro-banking initiatives. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Initiative, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook and his wife all announce in their names their latest “good intentions”. But the fact remains that this reinforces the notion that only the very wealthy can afford to care about the poor.

Governments and religious organizations provide massive funding for programs aimed at the poor all over the world. But even without statistical study we can tell its a thin layer of support.

Poverty breeds war. We spend more money on those. And then we spend on refugees. And then they join the ranks in deep poverty.

President Johnson in the United States announced a war on poverty only to see that dream abandoned for a war on Vietnam instead. This repeated over and over in every part of the world. Leaders and nations with great hopes and intentions towards the poor sidelined by war and greed.

Historically it has always been the working people, not the wealthy, who have proportionally donated massively more of their income to aid the impoverished at home and around the world either directly through charitable donations or through taxation. When workers’ income is falling backward, along with their lifestyles, how can they be expected to come to the aid of the impoverished? Survival is uppermost on the minds of most workers right now, not charity, let alone spending time strategizing for the great coming together of upper and middle classes for a joint effort to eradicate poverty forever.

So the question as to who will truly be “thinking and deciding how to act together” now to end extreme poverty will probably be the question on the lips of those who have read this far.

But how do you/we decide to act?

What in your daily life can contribute to aid the poor or pull down the forces that push people into poverty? How could the arts contribute beyond simply placing the reality of poverty in front of us all in pictures and in words? Could there be a universal symbol of relief, care and comfort without religious overtones to unify all world cultures? How can we teach compassion with our art?

Your Thoughts

  1. As an artist do you feel you have a special responsibility to use your creativity to invent art projects that bring awareness of injustice and suffering?

  2. Have you ever sent art to your government representatives as a way to initiate action by them?

  3. Have you found any art projects in your neighborhood or country which focus on poverty and on providing solutions to hunger, housing, and support for the disenfranchised?

  4. Do you feel in your heart of hearts that the haves and the have-nots will one day recognize each other as one family?

Movie Poster


It's October and the sacred 31 days of Halloween are upon us-time to get your gore on! The chill is in the air, the leaves are on the ground, and Halloween candy has been out since Labor Day. So while you’re waiting in the Starbucks line for an overpriced double pumpkin spice whatever, pass the time with this year’s scary movies reviews!

Frankenstein (1931)

Review by RWSlavin

The success in Spring 1931 of “Dracula” sent Universal execs on a raid of the public domain properties for a Monster Movie #2 follow–up.  They emerged from the vaults with Mary Shelley’s 1818 gothic treasure, “Frankenstein.” Bela Lugosi, whose Dracula had rescued Universal a few months previously, was offered the role of Frankenstein’s Monster, but passed, because the Monster had even fewer lines than Dracula did. Director James Whale remembered the particularly expressive eyes of a bit player in gangster movies, an asset well–suited to giving the grunting, voiceless Monster some element of humanity. And so it was that Boris Karloff became King of the Universal horror pictures. His ability to “speak” with only his eyes and hand gestures and elicit a real pathos from audiences, along with the frights, revealed him to be a multi–dimensional talent — even as he was being forever “typed” as “just” a horror movie actor.

The Universal “Frankenstein” begins with a nod to original author Shelley’s existential horror of a stitched–together being living beyond death. Beyond God? (i.e., “Alive” but soul–less?) We all remember Dr. Frankenstein crying out, “It’ alive!” But few have heard the next censored–everywhere line, “Now I know what it feels like to be God!” These are scary questions. But this is a monster movie, so it rapidly switches gears and becomes a less philosophical monster–on–the–loose story. The death of little Maria is as scary as existential angst, and Boris Karloff somehow made audiences feel compassion for the Monster even as it killed an innocent child. Then there’s a quick wrap–up. There’s the now iconic peasants with torches and pitchforks chase to find the monster. He’s trapped in the old windmill, which is lit ablaze. He is now dead — until the decision on sequels is made. And, in fact, “Bride of –” (1935) and “Son of –” (1939) are that rarest of movie rarities: sequels that outshine the original. The magic of the original “Frankenstein” is that what should have been just a chase–down–the–monster flick was elevated to something so much more by Boris Karloff’s magnificent performance.

Collection: Road Trip

Mon Oct 20, 2014, 7:30 PM

Road Trip

From mass migrations of multitudes to solitary quests into college, wandering to see new places and people is as necessary to healthy human nutrition as daily meals. We base the appeal of nations on how easy they are to enter or exit. We think in terms of our own “freedom” in how quickly we could “up and leave” on short notice. Hitting the road has always been its own reward, regardless the destination. It’s as if nothing really exists until we’ve traveled there and seen it with our own eyes. The path to and from is part of everywhere on Earth.