Shadow of the Vampire

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Happy New Year!

“The script girl…I’ll eat her later.” – Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe)

As mentioned in a recent post, Shadow of the Vampire is a film that I strongly recommend if you are interested in learning more about the myth behind Max Schreck, the German actor who portrayed Count Orlok in the original classic silent film Nosferatu:  A Symphony of Horror.

Shadow of the Vampire is directed by E. Elias Merhige, a director whom I was not familiar with before this film.  It stars Willem Dafoe as the mysterious Max Schreck, a method actor who has a reputation for delving deep into the characters that he portrays, so much so that it puts him at odds with F.W. Murnau, portrayed brilliantly by John Malkovich, and the other members of the cast and crew.  It was the first production of Saturn Films which was co-founded by Nicolas Cage.  Saturn Films would later produce another vampire film called Underworld: Awakening from the famous vampire vs. werewolf series, as well as other well-known films and TV shows.

The general public doesn’t often react well to films that are about the making of other films, even classic ones.  However, Shadow of the Vampire is focused on the actors and creators of the film, rather than the actual filming of the movie itself.  This makes the film more interesting, and it’s a history lesson as well as an interesting character study.  I enjoy history, so I don’t normally have an issue with films about the making of films, especially when it comes to such an iconic vampire film as Nosferatu.

“Did I kill…some of your people, Murnau?  I can’t remember.” – Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe)

Shadow of the Vampire works upon the premise that, unbeknownst to the cast and crew, Max Schreck is not an actor but a vampire hired by Murnau to add an uncanny authenticity to the role.  Murnau knows that Schreck is a vampire, but Murnau’s nightmare begins when things go crazy on the set and crew members start to disappear.

Shadow is a brilliant example of film noir.  It shows the condition of vampirism in a unique, stylish and artsy way, but in a more direct and down to earth fashion.  Many art films about vampires have a tendency to be extremely abstract and vague.  Some vampire films are shot with the use of cold, blue filters that remove the viewer from the story and make it difficult for the audience to connect with the characters.  S.O.T.V. doesn’t do that.  The film has a warmth about it not often felt when watching vampire films.  The cinematography is intimate and inclusive.  It makes you feel like you are there, sharing the filming experience of Nosferatu with the cast and crew.  The interiors of the charming inns where some of the scenes of the filming of Nosferatu happen are cozy and inviting.  The castle scenes and the areas inside the vampire’s lair are especially enthralling.  The movie was filmed in Luxembourg, doubling for Germany and Czechoslovakia (The Czech Republic). Continue reading

Found yourself with a little extra downtime this holiday season?

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Dare I recommend my novel To Sleep in the Ground?

There are worse ways to pass the time.

Have a happy New Year!

Daywalker, Nightwalker or Both?

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It’s one of the most challenging questions for writers of vampire fiction:  Should the vampires in my story walk during the daytime or only appear at night?

This was an issue for me when first writing my vampire novel To Sleep in the Ground.  I’m an ‘after six’ person.  The evening is my favorite time of day.  I could have easily written Marco, the main character of my story, to be a nightwalker only.  The silent film classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors (now known popularly by the simple title of Nosferatu) directed by legendary German director F.W. Murnau helped fuel the myth that vampires could be destroyed by sunlight.  Some say that the film created the myth, but I’m not so sure about that.  Hollywood would embellish the concept that vampires were strictly nightwalkers with the sun frying them to a crisp if so much as a hint of it touched their pale skin, and the myth has become a mainstay of vampire fiction.

Instead, I decided to follow the tradition arguably established literarily by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest, authors of the Varney the Vampire (or the Feast of Blood) serials from the middle to late 1840s and allow Marco to walk around in the daytime with limitations; he is weaker and not able to access the full potential of his dark gifts.

Decades later, Bram Stoker’s timeless masterpiece Dracula also echoed the folklore that vampires could walk by day.  Those of us who write vampire or horror literature know Stoker’s novel and love it.  It isn’t the first vampire story ever written, but it is the standard by which many, dare I say most, of us write our vampire fiction today.  It was the inspiration for the influential Nosferatu.  And it’s quite possible that Murnau’s Count Orlok was susceptible to sunlight rather than a stake through the heart because neither he nor the screenwriter Henrik Galeen had official permission to make a film version of the novel.  Count Orlok needed to be different from Count Dracula for obvious reasons.  On a side note, if you’re interested in knowing more about Nosferatu then I suggest the film Shadow of the Vampire.  It’s one of my favorite vampire movies and a wonderful piece of film noir.  It also explores the interesting legend of Max Schreck the actor who portrayed the vampiric Orlok in the film.  I’ll address the film in more detail in my next post.  Be sure to stick around for that.

So, what do you think, should fiction portray vampires as daywalkers, nightwalkers or both?  I say “both” with limitations on the potency of their abilities during the daytime, but I want to hear the opinions of you writers and readers of vampire fiction.  Open up the coffin and chime in.  Feel free to cast your vote via the comments section of this post.  I look forward to hearing from you all…and keep the garlic close to the bedside!

Introducing…Marco Dark!

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My first novel and latest release is now available!

A wealthy French madame, a misguided manga artist, a greedy financier, a malicious computer hacker and a homicidal sociopath.  What do they all have in common?  They all have contracts on their heads.  The one hired to fulfill those contracts is Marco Dark.  He’s cultured, sophisticated and intelligent, and the most lethal hit man on the planet.  He’s also a 200-year-old vampire!  Journey with Marco as he traverses the globe plying his deadly trade…and pray that you’re not on his list!

“To Sleep in the Ground” has taken twenty years to complete since its original conception.  I encourage you to check it out.  You can access a sample of the book via the link at the end of this post.

If you read Marco’s story and find it entertaining (or not) then I request that you write a review.  Let’s be honest, reviews and word of mouth sell books and reviews are a great way for readers to express themselves, too.  I’d also like to hear your comments and opinions about “To Sleep in the Ground” on this blog. Continue reading

Creepy Halloween reading…The DiVacci Curse!

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Looking for something creepy to read to get you in the mood for All Hallows’ Eve?  If so, then I recommend my short story The DiVacci Curse.  It’s about a couple that buys the mansion of their dreams in New Hampshire.  But the new dwelling is not what it seems. The DiVacci Curse is not appropriate for children.  You can access the Amazon page for the story via the link below or from the My Books page of this blog.

I hope that you enjoy reading it….if you dare!

May you all have a spooky, safe and happy Halloween!

Celebrating Apollo 11!

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It was fifty years ago that three men with more courage than most could muster defied logic (and gravity) to boldly go where no earthling had gone before. Two of those men on that particular mission became the first humans to set foot on the moon.

I was still baking in the oven at the time, just a few months away from joining the ranks of humanity, so I wasn’t able to witness it as the images were televised live all across the globe.

I attended Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama in late August of 1984. What an amazing experience that was! I have been a huge supporter of NASA and the U.S. space program ever since.

I lived in northern Florida on the east coast of the state for a few years before moving to Japan. I have been to Kennedy Space Center several times throughout my life. I was fortunate enough to view eight space shuttle launches with the naked eye. I wasn’t in Titusville at the time, but anyone living along the “Space Coast” from Jacksonville to West Palm Beach (and maybe further) could see the launches clearly on a nice day. I never saw a night launch in person, but I hear that they were spectacular. I wish I could be at the Cape for the festivities for the 50th anniversary celebration this year.

Thank you, Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Aldrin and Mr. Collins for taking that “one small step” and inspiring us to reach for the stars!

Happy Birthday, America!

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I’m grateful that our Founding Fathers committed treason against King George two hundred and forty-three years ago.

In celebration, I recommend the musical film “1776.”  The film is based on the Broadway musical and is a mostly lighthearted take on the actions of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia as the delegates debated the treasonous act of colonial emancipation and independence from England.

Jonathan Moore, my first cousin once removed on my mother’s side, stars as Dr. Lyman Hall, the delegate from Georgia.

The film is comedic in nature, but poignant and serious when it needs to be.  It includes great acting all around, beautiful cinematography and gorgeous costumes.  It always makes me feel like I am really there in the hot and steamy Independence Hall with the delegates as they combat the oppressive Philadelphia heat and each other’s tempers and perspectives on independence.  It’s a film the family can watch (no bad language or violence), and maybe the kids might learn something about the struggle the United States endured for freedom; the price involved, then and now.  It’s one of my favorite films about the American Revolution, and not just for personal reasons.  Check it out this week and enjoy it!

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

 

The 8th Anniversary of the East Japan Earthquake

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I deliberately avoid posting about politics on social media.  I’m not qualified to talk about climate change or global warming, or what impact humanity has upon the environment. I’ll leave that to the climatologists, meteorologists and scientists of the world. The city where I live in Japan has a good recycling program and I do my part. In this post, I’m not going to share my personal views on the topic of whether or not climate change is real. My opinions would be inappropriate and irrelevant.

What I do know, based on personal experience, is that on March 11, 2011, Mother Nature had her say, and had a lot to say, when she unleashed her fury upon the Eastern Tohoku region of Japan. I witnessed the fourth largest earthquake in recorded human history. I live thirty-six miles west of the site of one of the world’s largest nuclear meltdowns. I lived it. I was terrified by it. I am still haunted by it. I will probably never be free from the memory of it in some capacity.

The Earth doesn’t care how we feel about climate change. It does what it wants to do, when it wants to do it, and it doesn’t give a damn what we mere humans think of it. It makes the rules and we have to suffer the consequences; good or bad, instigated by us or not. We are at its mercy. It’s the price we pay to live on this wondrous ball of life rotating on its axis in space.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the events of March 11, 2011, and its impact on the environment and the people of southern Tohoku, from someone who was there, then I respectfully encourage you to read my book. It’s available through Amazon in most countries where Amazon operates. I recently decreased the price of the book rather significantly, but Amazon retains the right to fluctuate the pricing when necessary. Thank you for understanding. You can access the book directly through the link provided on the “My Books” page of this blog.  My humble thanks to all who have already purchased and read the book. Your kindness and consideration is truly appreciated and will not be forgotten.
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