The Woman in Black vs. Spider the Wonderdog

This episode is on Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black’ and the 2012 Hammer Horror flick ‘The Woman in Black’

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Our promo this week is from the Fataliteas podcast

The Woman in Black is a story In which our hero, Spider the floofy dog, detects a problem… there is also some guy named Arthur Kipps who does a bunch of stuff. But the real story is about one floofy little dog who’s the bravest girl in the whole darn story.

The Woman in Black is a ghost story that centres around the haunting of a house by a creepy, skeletal woman in black. A young solicitor Arthur Kipps gets sent to a creepy place a la Jonathan harker in Dracula. Kipps is sent to settle the affairs of Alice Drablow, a reclusive elderly lady who lives in a creepy house called Eel Marsh which is only accessable at low tide. Once the tide is in you are stuck there with the creepy shadows, ominous noises and scary wildlife. At the nearest town, Crithin Gifford, everyone is sending Kipps some serious don’t-go-to-Eel-Marsh-vibes.

A spectre haunts Eel Marsh, a spectre that lures children to their deaths. There is a lot of child death in this episode. We try not to be too graphic, but if you’ve seen the movie you know that the graphic deaths are a huge part of the story. Not so much in the book. It is an atmospheric gothic horror that Susan Hill crafts drawing from classic horror stories. You can really feel the influence of the Brontës and Henry James in this book.

Apart from the graphic/atmospheric horror another key difference between the book and the movie is the biographical timeline of Mr Kipps. Whether he is a young enthusiastic solicitor looking to make a name for himself, or a greiving widower barely hanging on to his job as a solicitor for the sake of his young child, the Woman in Black has her sights set on Arthur Kipps and she wants revenge

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Not My Mothman – The Mothman Prophecies feat. Jenni and Shelby from Wives Tales

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“Mothman IMG_1819” by OZinOH is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The objects and apparitions do not necessarily originate on another planet and may not even exist as permanent constructions of matter. It is more likely that we see what we want to see and interpret such visions according to our contemporary beliefs.

– John Keel, The Mothman Prophecies (1975 novel)

John Klein: I think we can assume that these entities are more advanced than us. Why don’t they just come right out and tell us what’s on their minds?

Alexander Leek: You’re more advanced than a cockroach, have you ever tried explaining yourself to one of them?

– The Mothman Prophecies (2002 movie)

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On December 15th 1967 Point Pleasant’s Silver Bridge collapsed resulting in the tragic deaths of 46 people. There are still many residents of the area who were directly effected by the disaster.

This tragedy would have become a sad part of local history if it were not for a ufologist, author and paranormal investigator, John Keel, who happened to be investigating sightings in the area in the months prior to the bridge collapse. Point Pleasant locals seem to have mixed feelings about the way that Keel’s book the Mothman Prophecies framed and sensationalised the events that took place in their city.

So about 3 months ago we thought it would be fun to cover the mothman. I even sought out the source material and I knew that Jenni and Shelby would be able to give some insight as their whole darn podcast is about myths, legends and cryptids. But it turns out that the 2002 film would prove to be not quite what we expected from our old pal the mothman. If you want more info on the mothman or weird demon things that braid women’s hair I highly recommend checking out the Wives Tales podcast!

Our promo this week is from the amazing Cutaways podcast. Honestly we’ve all internalised countless rom coms, even if we aren’t too keen on the genre and this podcast has a lot of fun while taking down some of garbage people and situations that go unquestioned.

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The Curse of Charlie Decker With Melissa from The Brook Reading Podcast

“Then you can blame it on your parents,’ I said, smiling. ‘Won’t that be a relief?”

– Charlie Decker in Rage by Richard Bachman

Episode 2 of Season 2 of The Frankenpod is a conversation with Melissa of the Brook Reading Podcast about Stephen King’s notorious novel Rage published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

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The texts we discussed included:

  • Rage by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman (1977), previously printed as part of The Bachman Books
  • Guns an essay by Stephen King (2013)

Melissa of The Brook Reading Podcast was such a wonderful guest and her insight as a Stephen King fan and a middle school teacher. I highly reccomend checking out her podcast if you haven’t already. The Brook Reading Podcast is a great podcast to casual listen to, or as I have attempted to do when time afforded it, you can read along with her.

Stephen King’s Rage has a troubled legacy and we loosely explore some of the events that led King to remove the book from publication. But if you are looking for details of school shottings there are some fine… and less fine… true crime podcasts and online resources that can help you out with that information.

Now I read some where that King either started this book in high school or completed in entirely, but I am struggling to rediscover the source of that information because I take crappy notes. It may be entirely hypocriphal. If you know you can email us or tweet at me.

So what makes Rage gothic? Well as we discuss in this episode the gothic aspects of the novel are not as obvious in other King offerings such as the more deeply upsetting The Stand (1978), and, I would argue, the suburban and blatently supernatural Pet Sematary (1983).

Listen to the episode for more on my thoughts on this book check out the podcast.

In Cold Blood & Capote – Or why you should never trust a writer…

Welcome to season 2 of The Frankenpod in which we will be looking at Truman Capote and his “literary non-fiction” novel In Cold Blood (1966).

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The media that we focused on included;

  1. The 1966 novel In Cold Blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences by Truman Capote.
  2.  The 2005 film Capote directed by Bennett Miller and starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the title role.
  3. The 2011 collection of critical essays Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood by Ralph F. Voss.
  4. The 1967 film In Cold Blood directed by Richard Brooks and starring Robert Blake as Perry Smith and Scott Wilson as Dick Hickcock.

In this episode, we touch on some aspects of the real events surrounding the murder of a ‘nice family’ from Kansas by two complex and dangerous men who have been recently paroled and believed that the father, Herb Clutter, kept a large amount of cash in a safe in the home. No such safe existed. We don’t go into great detail so if you are looking for a more comprehensive look into the murders of the Clutter’s I would suggest the In Sight Podcast episode on the case.

In Cold Blood was the last book ever written by Truman Capote and was first published in 1965 as a four-part series for the New Yorker and was published as a novel in 1966. Capote was an acclaimed writer of fiction and perhaps his most famous book after In Cold Blood was Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He was controversial largely due to his flamboyant self promotion and the brutal confronting honesty of his prose. Truman Capote promoted the book as an entirely new genre of book, the “literary non-fiction” novel. But it didn’t come out of nowhere, these things seldom do, historical fiction and non-fiction accounts that embellish and twist the truth to suit the author’s needs have existed for centuries. He claimed that In Cold Blood was an accurate account based on years of correspondence and investigation into the horrific murders of the Clutter family and Capote certainly spent an enormous amount of time researching and interviewing those involved. The issue that many critics have with the book is Capote’s embellishment and manipulation of the truth, often including scenes and quotes in the novel that never happened. Another contentious issue was Capote’s obvious attachment to one of the convicted men, Perry Smith and his story was given primacy when many thought that the book should have focused more on the victims and the impact the crimes had on others.

The efficacy of the creation of In Cold Blood and the scandal that surrounds it is almost as interesting, if not more so than the book itself as evidenced by films like Capote and the critical work of Voss. After the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s Capote was determined to exercise more creative control over the film of In Cold Blood and the director Richard Brooks worked with him to create a beautifully shot if the somewhat narratively choppy film that they were both happy with.

 

 

  • Brooks, Richard, 1912- & Blake, Robert, 1933- & Wilson, Scott, 1942- & Capote, Truman, 1924-. In cold blood & Columbia Pictures et al. 2003, Truman Capote’s In cold blood, Widescreen ed, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, Culver City, CA
  • Capote, Truman 2000, In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences, Penguin, London.
  • Miller, Bennett, (film director.) & Baron, Caroline, (film producer.) & Vince, William, (film producer.) & Ohoven, Michael, (film producer.) & Futterman, Dan, 1967-, (screenwriter.) et al. 2006, Capote, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Culver City, California
  • Voss, Ralph F & ProQuest (Firm) 2011, Truman Capote and the legacy of In cold blood, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Sherlock and the Case of the Upset Fandom with Megan of Oh No! Lit Class!

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This episode I’m joined by the hilarious Megan of Oh No! Lit Class to talk about her favourite detective boy Sherlock Holmes. We examine the adaptations of the most adapted character in English literature.

The character is the invention of Arthur Conan Doyle, lover of fairies and enthusiastic proponent of the Victorian spiritualist movement. He famously resented the popularity of holmes, wishing for more recognition for his adventure stories, so like the second half of the first Sherlock Holmes novel a study in scarlet which we talked about in one of our earlier episodes, desperately seeking Watson. The basic pretence of the stories, for anyone who has missed the sherlock holmes party bus, is that a veteran of the second Anglo-Afghan war, Dr John Watson moves in with an eccentric, dangerous and terrifically gifted ‘consulting detective in air quotes Sherlock Holmes who works and condescends to the police.

The original canon, that is the accepted 4 novels, A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles. And then 56 short stories which give us a nice neat 60 stories as the basis for a whole bunch of great, average and abysmal television and film recreations, adaptations and very vague nods to. The entire works that are included in the canon were released from 1891 to 1927, which I’ll be honest surprised me a little because I didn’t think Doyle made it that far into the 20th century!

What we know about Sherlock from Arthur Conan Doyle:

As far as canon biographical information goes, we have his birth year as 1854, which places him in his late 20s for some of the early works and 60 by ‘His last Bow’

He started taking on detective cases as an undergrad

He has a brother named Mycroft who is seven years older than him and is a civil servant who seems to know where all the skeletons are buried. He also spends time at the Diogenes club which is a gentleman’s club invented by Doyle,

He says his quote ancestors were country squires

His grandmother was the sister of a French painter

We talk BBC Sherlock and Moffat’s special brand of emotional manipulation.

We talk Robert Downey Jr.’s ACTION SHERLOCK and Jude Law’s moustache game.

Love, Actually gets a roasting. For some reason…

The muppets make an appearance because we love some muppet action.

What we do in the Shadows with Meg from Indoorswomen

This episode I’m joined by Meg from the fabulous pop-culture podcast Indoorswomen. We talked about the 2014 vampire spoof What we do in the Shadows. I love this movie and Meg took part in the Kickstarter to get a US theatrical release of this distinctly New Zealand gothic parody. We completely spoil this movie so if you haven’t seen it before and you plan on watching it, watch it before you listen.

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Every few years a secret society in New Zealand gathers for a special event: The Unholy Masquerade.

In the months leading up to the ball a documentary crew was granted full access to a small group of this society.

Each crew member wore a crucifix and was granted protection by the subjects of the film.

References

The Conversation Review: http://theconversation.com/what-we-do-in-the-shadows-the-nz-gothic-with-sharp-comic-chops-30764

Some History of Gothic Parody: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198119920.001.0001/acprof-9780198119920-chapter-5

 

The Devil’s Dictionary

Today we are going to dabble in The Devil’s Dictionary. 

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20180731_220458_0001-1598354645.pngThe first English dictionary is commonly thought to be compiled in 1755 by Dr Samuel Johnson of Blackadder fame. But that’s not really true. There were plenty of dictionaries before him. The most accurate guess at the earliest English language dictionary was one written by Robert Cawdrey in 1604 which was the first to include definitions albeit of only 2 thousand four hundred and 99 words. Put in contrast the Oxford English dictionary today has over 170 thousand words. The key difference between Dr Johnson’s dictionaries and the ones who came before him was the number of definitions and the level organisation.

Johnson dedicated his life to lexicography and died in 1784. 83 years later Ambrose Bierce, a writer of excellent gothic and supernatural short stories embarked on the serialised satirical exploration of the dictionary. Some of these definitions popped up in his weekly columns in ‘Town Crier’ and ‘Prattle’ and also in his personal letters. He wasn’t the first to take on the idea of a satirical dictionary, but Bierce certainly was dedicated to building and collating his own glossary of irreverent definitions.

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was born June 24th 1842, in an Ohio settlement called Horsecave. One of 13, all beginning with the letter A. Marcus Aurelius Bierce (1799–1876) and Laura Sherwood Bierce Had 13 kids named Abigail, Amelia, Ann, Addison, Aurelius, Augustus, Almeda, Andrew, Albert, and Ambrose… and that’s how you make sure one of your kids is going to write some kind of dictionary. It just so happened that this particular kid was a bit of a smart arse as he grew up.

As a kid, he was a printer’s devil, which is a little guy who mixes ink and generally getting things to the printer as quickly as possible because of those printing presses and typesetting dealies technical term, are massive and complex. He was 15 at this point and the printing operation he worked at was for an abolitionist paper called the Northern Indian

I’m terrified of delving into military history as always so here are the bare bones facts that we need from Bierce’s military service:

He fought in the Union army from the age of 18 until 24

He sustained a pretty serious head injury and some serious psychological damage

He saw some shit and it definitely had an impact on his writing. The horror of war was something he would come back to multiple times during his time as a writer.

He got married and had 3 kids. The marriage came to an end when he discovered letters to his wife Molly from an admirer, the separated in 1888, but did not divorce until 1904, 16 years later. She died the next year. His 3 kids were 2 boys, Day and Leigh and a daughter named Helen. Day and Leigh both died as young men, Day duel a romantic rejection and Leigh’s alcoholism and a nasty bout of pneumonia got the better of him in 1901. So by 1905 it Helen was Ambrose’s only surviving child.

Ambrose is typically framed as a Soldier, Journalist, writer and hardened cynic.

We will be revisiting Bierce’s amazing short stories at some point and there is an earlier episode of the Frankenpod which is just me reading A Vine on a House which is one of Bierce’s shorter stories. He is one of the wittiest, creepy and concise writers of American gothic fiction. He had a misadventure in Mining getting involved as a manager without experience and at the end of the mining boom so that didn’t go well.

Bierce at the age of 71 went to Mexico while it was in the middle of a revolution. He joined one of the armies as an observer, the army of Pancho Villa. The last known correspondence was from Chihuahua in Mexico and then poof! He vanished!

And that, in very broad strokes is the life of Ambrose Bierce, and if anyone knows a lot more about Mr Bierce and would like to come on the podcast I’d love to talk to you!

Three things you need to know about The Devil’s Dictionary

  1. It is intensely self-indulgent
  2. It is quite misogynist
  3. It is incredibly racist.

Particularly when it comes to Native Americans and Aboriginal people.

Thanks to the U.S. Army Jazz by for making the song Kelli’s no. available in the public domain.

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