House of Dracula is one of those horror classics that don’t lose their charm entirely despite the advance in visual effects the big screen is spoiling us with.
It brings back together some of most memorable Universal monsters: Frankenstein, Wolfman and Dracula, not necessarily in order of appearance.
The actors make their characters believable, Dracula is not simply evil but is also dedicated; Wolfman cannot control his transformation but does not excuse his actions.
The kindly old professor does some fascinating research in the movie and is more reminiscent of the gentler Bulwer image from Dracula 1931, than the less appealing, to my mind at least, militant vampire hunter, Van Helsing, who seemingly has been getting only younger with each Hollywood retelling.
I must say that the kindly old professor image is more appealing to me, and the way he was portrayed in the House of Dracula, less stereotypical, more divided, was an even more brilliant stroke.
Yet another striking feature I found memorable in this movie, is its usage of the Christian cross. It is known in the vampire lore of course to defend against vampiric hypnosis and direct physical attacks. But I felt upon watching the 1945 horror movie that its usage was almost ironic, with a certain person rather unconsciously touching the cross to protect themselves against who they actually were(I am using the gender neutral description to avoid spoilers of course!).
The movie presented a few delightful twists, with the minor characters, understandably receiving lesser development. Though even among the lesser characters, one was charmingly reminiscent of the conspicuously displaced Renfield.
Overall, I would recommend at least for some of the scenes in the movie to be watched and it is available for free on youtube.
Kerkaion was the staff of power associated with the Greek god Hermes(we are all more familiar with its Latin translation, caduceus). There are several interesting stories on the origins of this staff but the one that appears to represent it well is of prophet Tiresias who was forced to carry out the dual existence of a man and a woman.
Although Rick Riordan, the author of the Percy Jackson stories, brilliantly depicted the entwined snakes on the rod as George and Martha(suitable names for their mythological associations) I personally think of the two serpents as the transformed Kadmos and Harmonia of the Theban cycle.
I deduce the symbolism of the Hermetic rod to contain such diverse ideas as synthesis, reconciliation of opposites, the whole being greater than its parts, and proper responsibility as means to self realization.
Beachside is a seller on ebay from whom I have bought the caduceus(inexpensively) and enjoying expending my rod collection ever since. Below you can find another, perhaps less familiar but equally delightful sample of the Beachside jewelry with which I was very pleased. I discussed several other pieces in my collection in a youtube review(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKrilitLb_M) for those who wish to see more details, but my general motto is: there can never be too many caducii. LOL and beachside has many more jewelry pieces to offer for fans of the mythological/supernatural or simply quaint.
From a visual perspective, the first of the Hellraiser franchise present the most rudimentary facade to an unsuspecting viewer. But what Clive Barker’s movie may lack in terms of visual effects by our highly demanding standards of today, it makes up in terms of psychological underpinnings that made the entire series a horror classic.
The movie has anything one could wish for, a smart heroine who is stuck into a situation of horror not because of questionable choices or clicheic responses that inundate the lesser works within the horror genre. Instead we have both villains and protagonists forced to exist a certain horrifying yet recognizable and believable isolated reality with their attempts to break through towards comfort miserably failing.
In the 1987 movie Hellraiser, based on Clive Barker’s earlier novel the Hellbound Heart, we witness the construction of a very original mythology and unique demons that may be scarier due to their psychological insights into human nature than to their supernatural abilities.
With an occasional nod at Aztec mythology and recognizable tokens of modern lore, such as vampires and Frankenstein, Clive Barker cemented his place among masters of horror with his creation of a different kind of villain.
Portrayed by the eloquent actor with the sonorous voice Doug Bradley, the antagonist Pinhead measures fairly well against any modern day villain. Completely terrifying, unforgettable, Pinhead surpasses your every day slashers and escaping him could be as easy, or as difficult as escaping one’s inner demons.
One reason I cannot recommend this movie highly enough, as well as its multiple sequels, is that the more I watch it, the more insight I receive into that darkly taunting hellish dimension from which the antagonist happily hails.
This is only a partial review on my part, I included a more thorough, in depth analysis on my youtube channel, and for those of you wishing for more, my video review can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7saq_L8j1Wk
Chess Explained: The Taimanov Sicilian by James Rizzitano is a smallish book purporting to explain a fairly involved Sicilian subvariation of the Sicilian Defense. The book has a good, visually appealing design, is fairly priced and seems to cover several variations.
Many advanced players are able to craft their own opening repertoire based on the games they found in their database. To my mind, there are not nearly enough games to enhance one’s memory of recurring opening patterns.
The games that are present, are not explained in a detail sufficient for a beginner. The author does not leave a single game without explanatory notes, but such notes would not be satisfactory for me. They do not explain the strategy clearly, the tactical motifs are not outlined well either.
A point can be made that a game can only be fully appreciated in all of its complexity, but if that is the view taken than to some extent, the entire purpose of writing a book dedicated to a very specific opening is nullified.
I find myself upon completing the book able to pick up a few new developments in the opening. At the same time, I have no confidence that some tactical trick ignored in this book couldn’t easily negate any such plans, because the level of understanding supplied by the author is not enough to encourage flexibility.
The chess company Gambit is known for its high quality of chess material, but the series Chess Explained, being of a lighter format than usual does not usually address the widest target market, of beginners and intermediate players too well.
I don’t know if such superficial criteria matter to improving chess players, but I am a strong B level in slow games, a very weak C level in fast games, and I benefited less from this entire book than from a analyzing a few outdated chess games by Fischer and Karpov with a similar pawn structure as the ones given rise to by the Taimanov.
With that being said, people learn from different modalities, so this book is at least inexpensive to try out, I bought it for only 5 bucks from Half Priced books in TX.