songofcopper: (peter hammill)
I’ve been scribbling in my purple notebook. I did a lot of that last year: so, you see, whilst I was indisposed, I was not wholly idle. At the moment I’m doing a sort of vampire tale, inspired by watching some of the films of Jean Rollin. My favourite of these so far (and I think, my overall favourite vampire film by anyone) is ‘The Shiver of the Vampires’. It’s difficult to describe well without spoilers, so instead here are some stills:

shiver_of_the_vampires_castle
Mauve-tinged castle

Creep inside... )

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Meanwhile (twirling pen around fingers): Why write about vampires? What can there be left to say about such hackneyed nonsense? I think that in itself - the saturation-level cliché - is the draw. There are so many obvious things to say, it becomes a happy little puzzle to try and avoid saying those things and to say something different instead.

Another vampire film I particularly enjoyed has its own take on this. ‘They Have Changed Their Face’ (1971, dir. Corrado Farina - he of ‘Baba Yaga’ fame) portrays the deathless parasites as capitalist industrialists.

hanno-cambiato-faccia-name
The clue's in the name...

The modern parasite )

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One last fanged curio for your interest: ‘Blood is the Color of Night’ (1964, dir. Gerardo de Leon), which has the distinction of being ‘the first colour horror picture produced in the Philippines’. This is a great example of necessity as the mother of invention: colour stock was scarce/expensive over there at the time, so it had to be used sparingly. For that reason, some scenes in this film are in b&w, others are in full colour, and others are tinted - in jewel-bright blue or ruby red. This even becomes a plot device: when you see an eerie red glow, you know there is vampire business afoot. It gives the whole film a special atmosphere, without which it would be just another obscure and wacky b-movie.


blood_is_the_color_of_night_Dr_Marco_3
Dr. Marco in the pink.

Multicoloured melodrama )

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Vampire stories almost always pit Christianity against (other forms of) superstition, and modern science against local folklore. Customarily you find that the church’s notions of passion/sacrifice, transubstantiation and eternal life are mirrored and mocked by their vampiric equivalents. I wonder if this is a way of expressing the horror and scariness of religion itself. No-one is really scared of dying - it’s the before and after states that are terrifying. Pain whilst still alive, followed by decomposition, paradoxically countered by the horrifying, bizarre alternative of life after death - these are fearful indeed.

In his book Mr Frayling tells that reports of vampires often crop up in places where there is religious or political conflict/a change of rulership. It’s one of those ‘formal discredit’ tropes. A bit like how Roman historians were obliged to make the previous emperor look as effeminate and mentally-unbalanced as possible, and 18th C. cartoonists ceremonially exaggerated the Prince Regent’s waistline. Nowadays we take aim at Mr Trump’s awful hair, epidermal orangeness and tiny wee extremities. These ritual taunts have little to do with actual events or policies, but they help us communicate our wordless fears about powerful individuals.

Despite everything, we still value our souls.

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songofcopper

April 2017

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Eavesdrop, snoop, and sigh with yearning…

This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

NB: If you add me in an unsolicited fashion, please introduce yourself. Otherwise I will probably ignore you.

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