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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 10/16/98 -- Vol. 17, No. 16
Table of Contents
MT Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper MT 3E-433 732-957-5619 firstname.lastname@example.org HO Chair: John Jetzt MT 2E-530 732-957-5087 email@example.com HO Librarian: Nick Sauer HO 4F-427 732-949-7076 firstname.lastname@example.org Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell MT 2E-537 732-957-6330 email@example.com Factotum: Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433 732-957-2070 firstname.lastname@example.org Back issues at http://www.geocities.com/~ecl. All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.
URL of the Week: http://www.evolve.com/~drseuss/seuss/seuss.parody.html. Dr. Seuss Parody Page (including "If Dr. Seuss wrote Shakespeare" and other classics). [-ecl]
Arms: Fact: In New Jersey the vast majority of men have an above average number of arms. [-mrl]
Halloween: Well, it is that time of year again when we are getting ready for Halloween. This was always my favorite holiday as I was growing up. Of course it did not get a lot of competition. There were non-religious holidays and there were religious ones. Non-religious holidays are usually some sort of political pay-off that some politician used to get votes. Labor Day was to get American workers' votes. Memorial Day was the same for veterans. Veterans' Day was the same target, but a different politician needed votes, I suppose. Oh, I admit I liked Memorial Day as a kid. That was the start of summer. Thanksgiving was nice, I suppose because we had a good meal. Fourth of July brought fireworks. But on the whole neither gave me anything that I really couldn't have done without. I know that is a selfish point of view, but I was just a kid, remember. Kids are supposed to be selfish. It is part of the whole kid thing. Then there were the religious holidays, and let's say I was less than fond of those. I may talk about that in a week coming up.
So when I was a kid, the holiday that I liked the most was Halloween. Look how Halloween is celebrated for kids. The three ingredients are monsters, masks, and munchies. Most kids love all three and I was no exception. One of the dates etched in my memory was October 31, 1959. That was the one Halloween that I remember the best. We were in Akron, visiting my grandparents. It was a Saturday night. A local TV station was advertising that they would have a monster triple feature. They would have SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY'S GHOST, and MAN-MADE MONSTER. This for me was one of the major events of the year. First of all I had never seen a Frankenstein movie. I had seen pictures of the Frankenstein monster in Mad Magazine and had heard about Frankenstein ever since I was young. For me the Frankenstein monster was like an old friend. But there never was much opportunity to see the films on Dayton, Ohio television. It was in the early sixties that TV stations first could show the old Universal Pictures monster films and discovered that there was really a market out there. Within just a few years most cities had one or maybe two TV stations showing a science fiction or horror movie as the late show on Saturday night. Things were getting better for fantasy fans. While Dayton did not get a lot of horror films on TV, some local town must have. TV Guide would list some stations we did not get and someplace nearby had a TV station listed in our TV Guide that would have the most tempting films. I would see films listed like THE WOLF MAN and I was ready to pack my bags and move. It was frustrating to know that these horror films were playing so nearby and I did not get a crack at them.
But here I was, sort of cheating. I was in Akron and here the TV stations did play horror films. And three were going to be on in one night. Things were definitely getting better. Four weeks and a day earlier a new weekly TV series started on CBS and already the high point of most weeks was when The Twilight Zone was on. A new fantasy story every week was a real big addition to my entertainment. But that was new stuff. SON OF FRANKENSTEIN was a classic from the old days. To put it in perspective, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN actually then was one year younger than STAR WARS is today. But at that time anything that was more than twice as old as I was, was pretty ancient. So I stayed up late. Not just me, both my parents and both my grandparents watched also. Now even today I am not sure why everybody was there. It goes without saying that I was the most enthusiastic about seeing these films. But whoever was second was a very distant second. I don't know where I got my love of fantasy, but it certainly was not from my parents. My mother saw THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN when she was growing up and right there decided that horror films were just too stupid to watch. Well, now she was watching the sequel. Or perhaps she was watching me watching the sequel.
So this is a story with not much of an ending. I watched and immensely enjoyed the first two films. I can still remember the plot of the first two films, and though I had seen each multiple times since, I think I am remembering them from that Saturday night. SON OF FRANKENSTEIN was the last good Frankenstein film that Universal made. After that they got a little threadbare. Lon Chaney Jr. made three mummy movies and I still consider THE MUMMY'S GHOST to be the best of the three, though that is not a lot of distinction. And as for MAN-MADE MONSTER, my mother convinced me at what must have been 2:30 in the morning that it was not the time to start watching a third film. I obliged her. Then into the 60s our local station showed SON OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY'S GHOST, but did not get around to showing MAN-MADE MONSTER for many years to come. Of course these days I could set up the triple feature and watch it on TV commercial-free any time I want. There is some question on whether I could keep myself awake, but the films are all available. But I don't think I could ever reproduce that night.
And that is why I like Halloween. I have given some thought to what films I would put together if I were to make a Halloween triple feature. This year I think I am going to do that. I intend to use the magic of video to show the triple feature I wish I could have seen at that time. I will show it the Thursday night before Halloween. Details will be in next week's issue. [-mrl]
ETERNAL LOVECRAFT edited by Jim Turner (Golden Gryphon, ISBN 0-9655901-7-8, 1998, 411pp, US$25.95) (a book review by Evelyn C. Leeper):
This anthology is divided into three sections. The first is three stories which either have Lovecraft as a character or are expressly set in Lovecraft's "universe." The second set is eleven stories with some allusions to Lovecraft, but no direct connection. The third is four stories with "implied" Lovecraft connections. Though called ETERNAL LOVECRAFT, the connections between the stories and things Lovecraft seems at times tenuous, at least to me. (If you are more familiar with Lovecraft than I, then the connections may seem more obvious.)
This is the third book from Golden Gryphon, the first two being collections by James Patrick Kelly and R. Garcia y Robertson. As with the previous volumes, this is a well-produced, well-crafted book with a wonderful wrap-around dust jacket (by Nicholas Jainschigg). Unfortunately, I found the contents less interesting. But as I said, if you are a Lovecraft aficionado, your reaction will probably differ, and I certainly recommend you at least investigate this.
(This has nothing to do with this book, but I would like to commend my public library, which has the Kelly and Garcia y Robertson volumes. It is unusual for a public library to track the small press arena, and I'm quite pleased that my library does so.) [-ecl]
1998 Toronto International Film Festival: (film reviews and commentary by Mark R. Leeper) (part 2 of 10)
I slept late for me, past 8am, but then we don't have a film until 11:30. We went to a restaurant called Fran's and I had steak and eggs, a rarity for me but there will be no time for lunch.
Evelyn is planning for Kate how she can go to every bookstore in the area in a sort of biblio-blitz of titanic proportions. It is not enough that she is seeing 40-some films.
After a walk up Yonge Street, stopping at a bookstore, Evelyn and I lined up at the Uptown and talked to the couple behind us about travel. While we were standing there there was a large commotion in the street. Apparently it is a local tradition is to have the incoming freshmen parade through the street. It is a raucous annual event. It takes 15 or 20 minutes for the parade to go by. It was a huge turnout of college kids.
FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI (Taiwan/Japanese, language: Chinese with subtitles)
CAPSULE: Static and dull story set in Shanghai brothels of the 1880s. The camerawork of this film is minimal and we basically have a stage play in which almost all of the action is offstage. Nice historic recreations of room decor cannot make this film interesting to audiences. Rating: 3 (0 to 10) -1 (-4 to +4)
Over to the Cumberland for...
APRIL STORY (Japanese with subtitles)
CAPSULE: A pleasant slice-of-life about a woman from Hokkaido adapting to life at a Tokyo University. Toward the end there is a twist and the viewer discovers the plot has been developing all along. Rating: 6 (0 to 10), high +1 (-4 to +4)
We had dinner at a place called FORKCHOPS that offered Japanese style bowls of soup. It seemed to go with the film and soup is a filling dinner.
AFTER LIFE (Japanese with subtitles)
CAPSULE: The recently dead must each choose the most memorable moment of their lives to have them filmed. Once this process is complete they can continue on to heaven. The film combines documentary footage with interviews with dramatic storytelling. A little slow at times, but worthwhile over all. Rating: 6 (0 to 10), high +1 (-4 to +4)
VERY BAD THINGS (United States)
CAPSULE: Five friends at a stag party are involved in the accidental killing of a prostitute. The cover-up attempt becomes a monster that eats up the friends, two wives and several innocent bystanders. This was a real audience pleaser at Toronto, but it did not do much for me. Rating: 4 (0 to 10), low 0 (-4 to +4)
I left the theater by the back way since I was late to line up for the next film. There were a bunch of limousines waiting for celebrities. The limousines were all decorated with "Just Married" to fool people. How many people you know have a fancy marriage with limousines at 10:00 at night?
PERDITA DURANGO (Spanish, in English and Spanish with subtitles)
CAPSULE: Lots of gunplay, some humor. The further adventures from one of the characters from WILD AT HEART. The title character runs into a sexy Mexican Santeria priest and they decide to kidnap some bland Americans and eat them. Pretty weird stuff. Rating: 4 (0 to 10), 0 (-4 to +4)
The film got over about 2:20 and got back to the room about 2:50 and we were asleep by 3:10, enough time to get some sleep before our 9 AM film. But not enough.
Up early and rushing to our first film. I buy a bottle of fruit juice. I will drink it in line and watching the first movie. Also I have stuffed in the pockets of my photovest an individual serving box of cereal. We got a variety pack before we left home for just this purpose.
JEANNE AND THE PERFECT GUY (French with English Subtitles)
CAPSULE: How do you tell a now fairly familiar love story set in the time of AIDS? The French do it by turning it into a light musical. Virginie Ledoyen is charming as a young woman who finds her new lover is HIV-positive. Rating: 7 (0 to 10), low +2 (-4 to +4)
After the movie we went to find a place to sit down. A cafe had some chairs they had chained up and they were using so we sat and wrote. Unfortunately I sat under an overhang and a local pigeon used me for target practice. Good shot, dammit.
LAST NIGHT (Canadian)
CAPSULE: The world will come to an end at midnight. Everyone knows it and must make a final peace with the last hours of their lives. This is an intelligent science fiction film with no special effects, just personalities and ideas. Rating: 8 (0 to 10), high +2 (-4 to +4)
We had lunch at an Indian restaurant Mr. Mahaaraja. I had a thali that featured calimari. The sauce was much better than at most Indian restaurants in the US. We talked to two women in a restaurant who were asking about our palmtops.
[to be continued] [-mrl]
Mark Leeper MT 3E-433 732-957-5619 email@example.com
Quote of the Week:
Transcendental numbers occupy a position in the field of real or complex numbers much like that of insects in the kingdom of animals. Everybody knows they are, by a large margin, the most abundant class, but few know more than one or two of them by name. -- Donald R. Newman