Friday, January 9, 2009

The New Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker, edited by Leslie S. Klinger with an introduction by Neil Gaiman

This was my Christmas present to myself , it's really beautiful

From Bram Stoker's monstrous, bloodsucking count to Stephenie Meyer's supernatural teen heart-throb, vampires have long exercised a powerful grip on our imagination, says Leslie Klinger

“The Dead Undead” was Bram Stoker's working title for Dracula, but the living undead would be a better description of the current state of the vampire. On the page and on the screen, the creature who defies death but depends on the living for sustenance - your basic blood-sucking fiend - is back with a vengeance. Stephenie Meyer's supernatural romances, which occupy the top three slots in this week's bestsellers charts, are at the peak of a new surge of vampire lit - a movement that includes Darren Shan's Demonata horror tales, Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire mysteries, and Charlie Huston's series about an undead private investigator. Although fanged monsters have fascinated us for more than 2,000 years, their shape has shifted, and the modern vampire, more often than not, is a sexually-charged, seductively attractive and heroic figure.

The origin of the term “vampire” is clouded in mystery. Before the 19th century, vampires were viewed as monstrous - literally, the dead risen from the grave. The 1888 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica described a typical 17th-century vampire sighting: “When the vampire's grave is opened, his corpse is found to be fresh and rosy from the blood which he has thus absorbed. To put a stop to his ravages, a stake is driven through the corpse, or the head cut off, or the heart torn out and the body burned, or boiling water and vinegar are poured on the grave.” In 1751, the Bishop Augustin Calmet wrote a treatise explaining the Church's view on how these “revenants” with incorruptible bodies were different from saints with incorruptible bodies.

In 1819 the vampire entered English popular literature. Dr John Polidori, friend of and physician to Lord Byron, wrote a thrilling tale of Lord Ruthven, a gentleman vampire with power over women, titled The Vampyre. The book was an immense success and was adapted several times for the stage. In 1847 Varney the Vampire, or The Feast of Blood (by James Malcolm Rymer, the probable author of Sweeney Todd), similarly captured the public's imagination. Again, the central figure was a nobleman, although described as cadaverous, cold and clammy like a corpse, with fang-like teeth. Then, in 1897, Bram Stoker published Dracula, the classic tale of the powerful, hypnotic Transylvanian vampire-noble who travels to England to prey on an unsuspecting public. In the book, Dracula is described as a tall old man with protruding teeth, hairy palms and foul breath - not the image remembered today.

While Dracula has remained in print since its first appearance, the iconic vampire gained its modern power from film. While no copy remains of the earliest known vampire film, the 1921 Death of Drakula, it reportedly depicts the familiar theme of a powerful, dynamic man hypnotising (literally or figuratively) a pure, innocent girl.

In March 1922 arguably the most artistically successful film of Dracula yet made - certainly one of the scariest - opened in Berlin. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by F.W. Murnau, has achieved the status of legend. In particular, Max Shreck, who portrayed Count Orlok (the renamed Dracula), is magnetic as the vampire, although not in a handsome or seductive style. Orlok is rat-faced, ugly, emaciated, and horrible, radiating powerful evil.

Despite the importance of Nosferatu as a work of art, however, it was really the last major depiction of the vampire as monster. Tod Browning's 1931 “talkie” version of Dracula, made for Universal Studios as the cornerstone of its series of horror classics, was the most successful, and fixed the public's vision of the vampire. Based more on the popular stage play of Dracula from the 1920s (the Broadway production of which starred the handsome Bela Lugosi) than on the Stoker narrative, Browning elicits a stunning film performance from Lugosi as the stylised but compelling vampire. Wide initial distribution, constant rereleases and airing on television, and an unending stream of exploitative licensing of the film's images have made the movie the only version ever seen by many, and Lugosi has been fixed in the public mind as the only “real” Dracula.

Subsequent Dracula films have starred such charismatic, compelling, and romantic figures as Christopher Lee, Louis Jordan, Frank Langella and Gary Oldman in the title rôle. Other vampire films and television series have featured a multitude of handsome actors, including Jonathan Frid (Bramwell Collins in the TV series Dark Shadows), Tom Cruise (Lestat in Interview with the Vampire), David Boreanaz and James Marsters (in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Many blame the trend on Anne Rice's splendid series of ten tragic novels, beginning with Interview with the Vampire (1976), in which soulful vampires prey only on evildoers and struggle to find redemption, chaste love and meaning among their own kind.

In current popular fiction (and especially romance fiction), vampire lovers seem to occupy an immense portion of the bookshelf. Charlaine Harris's series of Southern vampire-mysteries has been made into HBO's very successful True Blood (2008). The series imagines vampires living on artificial blood and contrasts a romantic, lonely gentleman vampire and beast-like rogue vampires. Stephenie Meyer's hugely popular Twilight series of books (the first was filmed last year) introduces glamorous “vegetarian” vampires who shun the drinking of human blood. Super-strong, super-fast and apparently indestructible (except when another vampire tears them apart and burns the pieces), Meyer's vampires don't eat, don't breathe and need no sleep (and no coffins). However, their primary occupation (with the exception of the clan's sire, a highly-skilled physician) seems to be attending high school.

An early critic of Dracula said that a summary of the book would “shock and disgust”, but owned that “though here and there in the course of the tale we hurried over things with repulsion, we read nearly the whole thing with rapt attention”. Victorian audiences probably saw the book as soft-core pornography, reeking of sexual innuendoes with several highly-charged scenes of kissing, sucking, and biting. Certainly the subsequent film versions - even the horrifying Nosferatu - all emphasise the powerful sexual aspects of the vampire. The application of lips to body parts and the subsequent exchanges of fluids are simple metaphors for sexual intercourse . But the appeal of the vampire seems to go well beyond the voracious appetite of the creature.

The contemporary vampire represents the sensitive, lonely outsider, apart from “normal” society, moving among humans, appearing human, but never really fitting in. Anne Rice's Lestat, who struggles to find heaven while playing at being a rock star, is a modern (only a few hundred years old) version of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Count Saint-Germain, a 2,000-year-old vampire who seeks to live the path of righteousness. Of course, many - especially teenagers - like to see themselves in such an outcast rôle. In this respect, the vampire has come to resemble the romanticised cowboy, riding off into the sunrise with a canteen filled with blood.

Ulitmately, the vampire has become the embodiment of the “bad” boy or girl; the sensitive, beautiful rogue, deliciously frightening yet attractive. He is a James Dean (Stephenie Meyers's hot male teen heart-throb Edward) or a waif-like Bardot (Geneviève Dieudonné, the creation of Jack Yeovil). In Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, Blake - despite her job-description - seems to spend as much time in bed with vampire- lovers as she does fighting the creatures of the night, and the same may be said of the wildly successful television heroine Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Today's vampire is not inherently evil, he or she is - like a boyfriend or girlfriend of whom mum and dad won't approve - merely misunderstood. Perhaps my tastes were fixed by an early exposure to Bram Stoker, but this modern breed leaves me cold - not with terror, but with boredom. For the thrill of a real literary horror story - for the ancient monster in all its homicidal glory - only Dracula will do.

The New Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker, edited by Leslie S. Klinger with an introduction by Neil Gaiman Norton, £28; 672pp

Critic's Chart: Lisa Tuttle picks her top six vampire books

1 Carmilla by J.S. LeFanu
Early Victorian female vampire: she kissed a girl and she liked it.

2 Dracula by Bram Stoker
Iconic, essential, and still scary after all these years.

3 Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Richly sensual, philosophical tale of immortal blood-drinkers.

4 The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas
Brilliant scientific, feminist overhaul of romantic cliché imagines vampire as highly evolved predator.

5 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Cool vampire refuses to go all the way in emo teen ode to sexual abstinence.

6 Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Swedish bestseller set in the 1980s revives the mingled horror and desire of this still-powerful myth.

Lisa Tuttle is a novelist and the Times science fiction and fantasy reviewer

Art Directors Guild unveils nominees

Film, TV, commercial winners awarded Feb. 14

The awards, which will take place Feb. 14 at the Beverly Hilton with "Breaking Bad's" Bryan Cranston serving as host, will be presented in nine categories, covering film, TV and commercials.

In the TV categories,

The single-camera TV series nominees are: "Mad Men -- The Jet Set" (Dan Bishop), "Pushing Daisies -- Bzzzzzz" (Michael Wylie), "True Blood -- Burning House of Love" (Suzuki Ingerslev), "Tudors -- Episode 210" (Tom Conroy) and "Ugly Betty -- When Betty Met Yeti" (Mark Worthington).

True Blood Behind the Scenes: The Monroe vamps house

Here is the housed that was used as the " Monroe Vampire's " home in True Blood. In episode 7 Malcolm describes it as being their 'place just up the road' from Bon Temp and says they are " the new locals "

It's actually located very near downtown Shreveport located in an area called Ledbetter Heights.

Here is the air quality variance issued by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to Fangbanger Productions.

The burning of the house did create a little local controversy because after it was burned and destroyed some local historians claimed that the house had historical status. The House was originally a bordello and located in the Ledbetter Heights district of Shreveport. Below you will find two local newspaper articles discussing it.

We know that the scene was shot and the house was burned just before 9am April 29th 2008

On the left below you will find a still from episode 7 or 8 and on the right how it appears today.

This is look down the road where Sookie drives up in her car, talks to Andy and Sheriff Dearborn and then she later runs down

Ledbetter Heights house burned for series angers local historians
John Andrew Prime
April 30, 2008
The Shreveport Times

History and commerce are colliding head-on in Shreveport's Ledbetter Heights, where a house historians claim is a historic property is being burned for a made-for-TV series.
The blue frame house with yellow trim at Douglas and View streets, used as a bordello from 1903 to 1917 and easily visible to motorists driving north of Common Street passing the Shreveport Macaroni Manufacturing Co., was burned partially Tuesday, with another burning planned in coming days.
Historians and authors Eric Brock and Gary Joiner argue the house falls within the map area defined as part of the St. Paul's Bottoms Historic District, an area now known as Ledbetter Heights.

Ledbetter Heights house destroyed

John Andrew Prime
May 1, 2008
The Shreveport Times

A dispute between city leaders and historians over a former bordello in Ledbetter Heights may be moot "" or may heat up even more "" after the house was destroyed early Wednesday in the making of a TV show.
The blue frame house with yellow trim at Douglas and View streets was a pile of rubble just before 9 a.m., easily visible to motorists driving north of Common Street on the northwest side of downtown.
The house was partially burned Tuesday, arousing the concerns of local historians, who overnight approached local attorneys to seek either an injunction or a restraining order against further destruction.

I will post the entire article to our scribd page


Hollywood PrivacyWatch: Hunky Vampire Edition Stephen in Banana Republic ?

Say cheese and say cheese again .....

Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin pose for a publicity shoot for True Blood ( 2008)

I'm a little obsessed with this publicity shoot for season one because we've see so many of the photos from that shoot published. Stephen looks terrible ( as bad as possible for him to ever look :) ) and Anna looks sublime in everyone. Bill's house looks nice behind them ....

True Blood Music Video of the Day

Hit me with your best shot by Pat Benatar

OMGosh We Met Charlaine Harris Travelogue

The OMGosh We Met Charlaine Harris Travelogue in which Dallas loses her s**t (her phone and her camera) and Object demonstrates that she can to navigate (so there).

By ObjectDesire

Tuesday, January 6th
9:00am Depart Dallas for Houston. We have packed the infamous portable gps system but left the binoculars at home. Object is at the wheel for this trip.

9:45am Decide we are really very hungry. Stop at IHOP and gorge on omelettes and pancakes. Waddle back to car and continue trip.

1:15pm Arrive at the Museum of Fine Art in Houston. Tour museum. See some intriguing short films by Asian filmmakers that loop continuously on screens of various sizes. Very cool exhibit. Eat (again) at museum cafe (soup and sandwiches).

3:15pm Have time on our hands so decide to stop by the Murder By The Book store that is sponsoring CH's visit. There is a race to see if Object's gps system or Dallas' daughter (on phone) can provide directions first (it is a tie). Dallas holds gps system and says, "I don't know," each time Objects asks what the screen shows (she really does not like this technology). However, we drive right to the store with only one wrong turn.

3:30pm Enter store. Three minutes later overhear bookstore owner talking to Houston Library. He says, "Charlaine will be here in 5 minutes. Her flight was late." Dallas and Object freeze in place then begin to stealthily move about the store while staying within earshot of phone conversation. We settle in to wait. Dallas whips out phone to call daughter, sits in chair in corner of store and whispers. Objects selects some books and loiters near front door. Fifteen minutes later, she steps to counter when clerk announces to owner, "They're here." Dallas leaps to her feet when bell rings on shop door. CH breezes in door, locks eyes with Object, and says, "Hi!" Object squeaks out an awestruck hello. CH is whisked to back of store. Dallas loiters near back and hears owner thank CH for coming even though she is "really busy with True Blood."

Stagger, stunned out to car. Look at each other and squeal with delight. This time have directions to downtown library from store clerk (gps system is silenced). Clerk's directions turn out to be a bit loosy goosy and Object pulls over when the street we are on dead ends into convention center. Dallas reaches into her purse for phone to call daughter, reaches into her pocket, gets out of car and dumps contents of purse into seat, looks under seat and searches camera bag in back seat. Uh oh...

Object calls book store. "Has anyone found a phone?" Store clerk says, "Does it have a dangly thing on it?" When told yes, Object hears him tell someone, "I guess it is not Charlaine's phone."

Pass library on way out of downtown. Object navigates smoothly back to bookstore.
Store clerk tells Dallas the phone was found in the parking lot behind a car. We just cannot figure that out...but then fantasize that phone was given to CH and we call her later.

5:15pm Arrive back at library. Finally settle on parking garage after circling block a few times. Enter 4th floor conference room where first few rows are already filled. Dallas is only person in the room (so far) that is wearing a "Fangtasia" t-shirt which draws friendly comments from some women on front row. One of these women is wearing a t-shirt that says, "Please Don't Kill Bill." We settle in for a long wait (event begins at 7pm). Many folks are talking back and forth about the books and the TB series.

6:00pm Object goes down to library coffee shop to get refreshments. On elevator back up, two women enter after Object. One is wearing a Fangtasia T. When she turns, it says "444 Industrial Ave, Shreveport, LA" Object knows that this is a t-shirt that was sent out by HBO before Christmas to some TB fans and starts to ask about the shirt. However, two more people enter elevator and one of them is Charlaine Freakin' Harris!!!! Off the elevator, the woman with t-shirt whips out her phone and begins to call people to tell of her close encounter.

Back in room, place is now packed and long line has formed to purchase books. Dallas has already picked up our "will call" books to be autographed at end of CH's talk.

6:45pm Dallas finally decides to stand in line to purchase additional books. Objects looks up and people up and down the line are smiling, and chatting with Dallas (who claims to be someone that does not strike up conversations with strangers when standing in lines). One woman hugs her.

Dallas returns to her seat and explains that …. ("OD wanted me to write up what happened to cause all the commotion ( hugging, laughing, talking etc ) in the book line – let’s just say I found that there were many, many fans and readers of my blog at the event, I am honored and humbled by the nice comments. A fan, a few people back in line even mentioned our tour of True Blood Northern Louisiana filming locations a few weeks back and that actually caused the stir")

7:15pm Every seat is filled (288- maximum occupancy by the fire marshal ) and we are told that there are attendees in an overflow room watching by close circuit . Charlaine begins her talk by describing herself as a housewife with a "very active inner life." She is charming, warm, intelligent, and funny. Her comments are brief and the second she mentions Q&A, Object shoots up her hand and is granted the first question, the gist of which is what CH thinks about her readers spending hours analyzing her every written word looking for clues as to what will occur in next book. (Transcript of Q&A, video and photographs can be found at HERE)

8:00pm Talk is over and everyone is waiting for their turn to get books autographed. Dallas and Object are numbers 32 and 33. Everyone is excited and conversations in line flow freely. Thanks go out to "Flat Biscuit" for agreeing to add one of Dallas' books to hers to get autographed (we were each allowed only 6 books).

8:45pm Our turn arrives and Charlaine graciously chats with us as she autographs. Dallas tells CH about her blog and blogtalkradio show. CH comments, "very interesting!" Another attendee agrees to take our picture with CH.

8:52pm We exit conference room, ecstatic and giddy. Elevator doors open to whisk us downstairs, but Dallas says, "My camera!" She returns to conference room to find the young couple that had taken our picture frantically looking around for us. We make it downstairs but are stopped in lobby by LTBiD fans that want their pictures taken with Dallas. She is again shocked that she has her own set of fans at this event!

9:10pm Re-enter I45N and head back to Big D. We talk non-stop for 4 hours, analyzing what CH said, and speculating what it all might mean.

1:00am Arrive home, tired, but very, very satisfied with our day's adventures.

Baby, you can drive my car (5)

Who drives this car ?

Yes this is Eric's car .....

True Blood Fan Art

by Glamormebill