Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: The Innocents (1961)

I just saw the new haunted house film The Conjuring. I thought it was pretty good, frightening even, save for the ridiculous ending with all the Catholic Christian cliches about the Satanic evil in the world thrown in. I even wrote a review of The Conjuring saying that the film might draw a comparison with some of the classic ghost films à la The Innocents by Jack Clayton. The director of the film, James "Saw" Wan, showed remarkable restraint compared to his earlier films, and some of the scenes in The Conjuring are quite chilling.

I shouldn't've said that, since I hadn't seen The Innocents! I just watched it for the first time last night, and I must say that The Conjuring is pretty far from away from Clayton's film in restraint. In The Innocents, we are merely being shown two figures from a distance. There are no tricks James Wan is fond of, it's all in the mind. And we are never really told whether the ghosts of the film are true or whether they are imagination of the protagonist, the tutor (played by Deborah Kerr). The film might be even more scarier of that.

Beware of a slow pace! This is not your typical fast ride through nightmares all the horror films are now bound to be.

Based on a Henry James novella "Turn of the Screw". Now that I mentioned that, I might add that I finally finished the translation of H. P. Lovecraft's essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" and sent the final edits to the publisher yesterday. Another one goes down!

Here's what Lovecraft writes of James's story: "In The Turn of the Screw Henry James triumphs over his inevitable pomposity and prolixity sufficiently well to create a truly potent air of sinister menace; depicting the hideous influence of two dead and evil servants, Peter Quint and the governess Miss Jessel, over a small boy and girl who had been under their care. James is perhaps too diffuse, too unctuously urbane, and too much addicted to subtleties of speech to realise fully all the wild and devastating horror in his situations; but for all that there is a rare and mounting tide of fright, culminating in the death of the little boy, which gives the novelette a permanent place in its special class." (Hey, no one said Lovecraft is easy to translate!)

More Overlooked Movies here.

Finnish fantasy free for Kindle

Jeff VanderMeer supports Finnish new weird writing giving away free e-book copies of famous Finnish fantasy writer Leena Krohn's short novel Tainaron. Check it out, it's a great book, full of wisdom, beauty and marvel. epub format also available.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday's Forgotten Book: Livia Reasoner: The Vampire Affair

I won this book from Livia Reasoner, James Reasoner's wife, some years ago in a blog or a Facebook contest. I got around to reading it only now, but luckily it still seems to be available as an e-book, though I believe these Silhouette books have a short shelf life.

This is the only paranormal Silhouette book Livia has written, but I don't know why this is, since The Vampire Affair is a solid book, fast-paced thriller with enough vampires, romance and erotic love. It's a clearly work of a professional. The main characters are a young and eager female journalist and a mysterious millionaire who turns out to be a vampire hunter and a bit of a vampire himself. This may sound cliched (and indeed many parts of the book are), but Reasoner writes deftly and keeps the story running. The book is quite short, so the cliches don't get in the way. In the end Livia throws some American Indian mystique in the mix, and it works, too!

The Vampire Affair could've also easily started a series, since both major characters could well play leading parts in coming books as well. Here's hoping it will happen!

More Forgotten Books here on Patti Abbott's blog.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kevin Wignall's Dark Flag finally out

Remember Kevin Wignall's Dark Flag? I had a hand in publishing the book in Finnish translation some years back as Lipun varjo ("The Shadow of the Flag"). The book wasn't actually a success in Finland, even though it's a very good novel, and it vanished quickly. To this day, it hasn't been published in English language, but finally it's available as an e-book from Amazon. I really advise you to pick it up. This isn't one of those sloppily written and edited e-books I was talking about earlier.

(And thanks for comments on that post, I'll reconsider my stance.)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Negative reviews on e-books?

I've been reading some stuff on my Kindle, mainly stuff I've picked free from Amazon, new gritty and noirish crime fiction from both side of Atlantic. I've liked a lot some of the stuff I've acquired, for instance Juaréz Dance by Sam Hawken and Tony Black's bleak novella The Storm Without (of which I didn't do a blog post). I also liked Lawrence Block's short story "Keller on the Spot" quite a bit.

But I've recently dropped two novels by new noir writers I was reading on Kindle. The other one was sloppily written and edited, and the other one had ridiculous characters and the police work depicted in the book wasn't believable. I was going to post a review of the books, but then I got to thinking I wouldn't be doing much of a service to the writers and their publishers (the other one of the two writers has just a book out from a small publisher working actively in the neo-noir business). Then I got to thinking that as a critic that's just what I should be doing: pointing out what these writers and their publishers are not doing very well and keeping readers out of the bad or mediocre stuff, but then I got to thinking again and then I decided not to post.

What do you think? I'm really an outsider in these circles, since I'm essentially a foreigner to all American, British and Scottish writers mining this area, but then again, someone might benefit from my point of view.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Counselor

Here's the trailer for Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy's film The Counselor, coming next October. I'm not really that keen on Scott, but this looks kinda promising.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Pulp writer Earl Peirce Jr.

Doing my first book, Pulpografia (2000), I encountered one or two Finnish translations of short stories by one Earl Peirce Jr. His name may have been written "Pierce" in the Finnish magazines. I didn't find any info on him, except that he wrote for Weird Tales and later on crime pulps, such as Detective Tales. I googled him earlier today (for a purpose I'll reveal later) and found out this post on a genealogy site. Someone has really done good work on Peirce, a really little known writer!

I put up Peirce's tentative bibliography here in my bibliography blog.