Saturday, December 9, 2017

THE OVAL PORTRAIT (1842)

This is another of Poe's peculiar bifurcated tales. It starts out with an unnamed narrator, who, for undisclosed reasons, is traveling with one servant in the Appenines Mountains. The man has had an unexplained "affray with the banditti," which has left him with a painful but apparently not dangerous wound. The duo take refuge in an uninhabited chateau, whose owners never show up, and while the narrator is taking opium for his pain, he becomes interested in the "oval portrait" of a beautiful young woman.

He becomes so taken with the portrait that he digs through a convenient family history to find out who she was. In a touch reminiscent of Hawthorne, it's revealed that when the woman had her portrait painted by her beloved, he made it so lifelike that the life departed from the body of the model.

Nothing overtly fantastic takes place, but the narrative qualifies as uncanny because the pay-off is communicated through the venue of the internal story, which may or may not be a true representation of events.  The story doesn't even bother coming back to the narrator's concerns once the history of the doomed woman is told. The story was adapted into a godawful ghost-story flick, reviewed here.

A SUCCESSION OF SUNDAYS (1841)

A young man, raised by his uncle after his parents pass, conceives a passion for his uncle's daughter (yes, another first cousin). The uncle, a born jokester, tells the fellow that he can get married when three consecutive Sundays transpire. The ending is clever if not actually funny, in which the young man solves his problem with the help of the International Date Line.

ELEONORA-- A FABLE (1841)

This story uses a similar approach to ISLAND OF THE FAY-- published in the same year-- in which the glories of bounteous nature give way to doleful death, ELEONORA is far more successful, in part because Poe includes one of his favorite themes: that of a beloved wife-- the narrator's cousin, once again-- who passes away early. Her passing coincides so nearly with the decline of the natural forest where she and the narrator lived that nature seems in sympathy with her spirit. Hence this one rates as "uncanny."

An odd development is that prior to the cousin's death, the narrator swears never to look at another woman. Time passes, and he re-marries, but nothing happens except that he dreams that the spirit of Eleonora forgives him his transgression. An interesting combination of motifs from both MORELLA and LIGEIA.

NEVER BET THE DEVIL YOUR HEAD (1841)

Compared to Poe's early stories about demonic deals, "Never Bet the Devil Your Head" is the best of its kind thus far. A foolish young man develops the habit of making ridiculous bets in which he wagers his head to the devil if he loses. Predictably, a strange fellow shows up and tricks the better into performing a stunt that leaves the fellow missing one cranium.

It's never been an overly popular tale, but gained some moxie when it was adapted as one of the stories in 1968's SPIRITS OF THE DEAD.

THE COLLOQUY OF MONOS AND UNA (1841)

This is, like THE COLLOQUY OF EIROS AND CHARMIAN, a static dialogue between two spirits who discuss the destruction of the world for a while. However, Monos, the male, seems far more interested in describing his experiences of dying, which are not a little reminiscent of the weird alive-but-not-alive symptoms seen in LOSS OF BREATH.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #118

Primary GRETA BLACKBURN, best known for the horror-film PARTY LINE, has a half-dozen credits in TV shows like AUTOMAN, LOIS AND CLARK, and V.

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Primary HONOR BLACKMAN acted in GOLDFINGER and JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS,  as well as playing "Cathy Gale" on THE AVENGERS.

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Peripheral JOAN BLACKMAN acted in VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET with--



Primary EARL HOLLIMAN of FORBIDDEN PLANET.




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MONSTER MASHUPS #24

THE MUNSTERS made it to TV in 1964. The same year also debuted THE ADDAMS FAMILY, though of late I've been reconsidering whether or not they count as "monsters."




One year later, Hal Seeger Productions brought forth a cartoon, MILTON THE MONSTER, which contained four features. Only the titular feature was a monster mashup. Two mad scientists create a good-natured Frankenstein's Monster, name of Milton. For some reason never clear to me, the scientists live in a house with Milton, a skeleton-guy named Heebie and a furry one-eyed Abominable Snowman named Jeebie. I saw the cartoon in my youth but found it generally unfnnny.


Friday, December 1, 2017

SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #117

Primary BILL BIXBY is inevitably best known for THE INCREDIBLE HULK teleseries and its telefilm spin offs, though he also scored a credit as the crimefighting MAGICIAN.

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Primary CLAUDIA BLACK acted in the movie PITCH BLACK, regular serials FARSCAPE and STARGATE SG-1, and individual episodes of HERCULES, XENA, and BEASTMASTER.

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Primary ISOBEL BLACK acted in KISS OF THE VAMPIRE and episodes of THE AVENGERS and THE INVISIBLE MAN.

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Primary JACK BLACK acted in the 2005 KING KONG  and voiced the titular character of the KUNG FU PANDA series.

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Primary KAREN BLACK (not shown) acted in TWISTED JUSTICE and three movies with "ROLLER BLADE SEVEN" in the title.






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #116

Peripheral JENNIFER BISHOP acted in THE MALTESE BIPPY with--



Primary JULIE NEWMAR, most famed for playing "Catwoman" on BATMAN.

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Primary WHIT BISSELL acted in a couple dozen relevant roles, one of the most well-known being "Mister Lurie" in STAR TREK's "Trouble with Tribbles."

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Primary JACQUELINE BISSET acted in CASINO ROYALE.





Saturday, November 18, 2017

SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #115

Primary PAUL BIRCH (not shown), best known B-movies like BEAST WITH A MILLION EYES and  DAY THE WORLD ENDED, acted in the serial SCARLET HORSEMAN and episodes of THE LONE RANGER and ADVENTURES OF FU MANCHU.

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Primary THORA BIRCH acted in the 2000 DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS.

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Peripheral JANE BIRKIN acted in SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT'S EYE with--


Primary ANTON DIFFRING (not seen), who has one role in an episode of the 1950s INVISIBLE MAN.

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Primary DAVID BIRNEY has one credit in an episode of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE.

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Primary ED BISHOP, best known for the subcombative space-show UFO, had small roles in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.


Friday, November 10, 2017

SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #114

Primary ROXANNE BIGGS-DAWSON is best known as "Lt. Torres" on STAR TREK VOYAGER, and also appeared in the third DARKMAN film.

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Primary THEODORE BIKEL voiced "Aragorn" in the 1980 animated RETURN OF THE KING, as well as acting in numerous TV-shows like KNIGHT RIDER and the 1970s SPIDER-MAN.

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Primary DAWN ANN BILLINGS acted in TRANCERS III, VIRTUAL COMBAT, and THE WARLORD: BATTLE FOR THE GALAXY.

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Primary BARBARA BILLINGSLEY. best known for TV's  LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (but not shown here), voiced a character in the 1989 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES cartoon.


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Primary JENNIFER BILLINGSLEY had two roles on THE MAN FROM UNCLE and one on the 1979 live-action SPIDER-MAN.

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Primary STEPHEN BILLINGTON acted in DRACULA: ASCENSION, RESIDENT EVIL, and episodes of QUEEN OF SWORDS and HIGHLANDER: THE RAVEN.




Thursday, November 9, 2017

THE ISLAND OF THE FAY (1841)

This is an entirely naturalistic rumination. Poe's narrator observes an island in a stream, and imagines a faery creature pass from life to death as it rounds the island's light side and encounters its dark side. This opposition between innocence and death was better served in the more poetic SHADOW-- A PARABLE.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #113


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Primary MICHAEL BIEHN had two of his choicest roles in ALIENS and THE TERMINATOR, as well as having roles in SCORPION KING 4, PLANET TERROR, TIMEBOMB, and an episode of the TV series LOGAN'S RUN.

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Primary JESSICA BIEL acted in BLADE: TRINITY and the 2012 TOTAL RECALL

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Primary RAMON BIERI acted in episodes of KNIGHT RIDER, THE MAGICIAN, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and BUCK ROGERS.

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Primary CRAIG BIERKO is another judgment call, in that his scenes as a parodic "Wolverine" were deleted from SUPERHERO MOVIE, though I believe they're extras on the DVD.


Monday, October 30, 2017

MONSTER MASHUPS #23

In addition to Marvel's Werewolf/Frankenstein and Dracula/ Werewolf mashups, two issues of THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER finished up the troika by pitting the Monster against the bloodthirsty Count. Nice art in the first issue, somewhat less so in the second.




SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #112

Primary TURHAN BEY (right) acted in ALI BABA AND THE 40 THIEVES, VIRTUAL COMBAT, and a couple of BABYLON 5 episodes.

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Primary RICHARD BEYMER acted in THE MAN FROM UNCLE and STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE.

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Primary DANIELA BIANCHI acted in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, OPERATION KID BROTHER, and SPECIAL AGENT LADY CHAPLIN.

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Primary YUEN BIAO (left) acted in DREADNAUGHT, ZU: WARRIORS OF MAGIC MOUNTAIN, and others.


A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM (1841)

DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM might be seen as a companion-piece to another "tall tale of the sea,' MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. However, nothing occurs in DESCENT that seems to break the laws of causality, as MS. does, although once again we have a situation where a titanic storm picks up a ship and carries it in the storm's wake rather than simply overturning the craft.

It's close to being a naturalistic story, at least in terms of the science of Poe's time, but I choose to label it as "uncanny" because it portrays the maelstrom as being a phenomenon so intense that the young man who passes through it has his hair turned white in one night.

When the narrator begins expousing on how dreary the sea looks prior to a storm's outbreak, I half expected Poe to make another ill-considered attack on Kant's notion of the sublime, as he did in FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, but he did not.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #111

Primary PAUL BETTANY acted in PRIEST and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, as well providing the voice of "Jarvis" in the three IRON MAN films and the first AVENGERS film.

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 Primary LYLE BETTGER acted in the 1956 LONE RANGER film and an episode of THE TIME TUNNEL.

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Primary JACK BETTS acted in SPIDER-MAN 2, BATMAN FOREVER, BATMAN AND ROBIN, and POWER RANGERS LOST GALAXY.

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Primary CARL BETZ (not shown) has just one relevant role, in an episode of THE MAGICIAN.

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Primary LESLIE BEVIS acted in SPACEBALLS, AMAZONS, and various TV shows.


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Monday, October 23, 2017

SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #110

Peripheral VALERIE BERTINELLI (left) acted in CHOMPS with--





Primary CHUCK MCCANN, who voiced a number of relevant cartoon characters, such as "the Thing" in the 1994 FANTASTIC FOUR cartoon.

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Primary BIBI BESCH, whose only relevant role was in STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN.


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Peripheral TED BESSELL (left, best known for "THAT GIRL," acted in SCREAM PRETTY PEGGY with--



Primary BETTE DAVIS, qualifying only for role in MADAME SIN.

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Primary JAMES BEST (not shown) acted in episodes of THE LONE RANGER and THE GREEN HORNET TV-shows.

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Primary WILLIE BEST (seated) has one credit, the serial THE MONSTER AND THE APE.

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Primary MARTINE BESWICK earned her greatest fame in two James Bond flicks, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and THUNDERBALL, as well as having roles in CYCLONE, TRANCERS 2, and various TV shows.