Sunday, January 31, 2021
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021
Author E. Hoffman Price's The Devil Wives of Li Fong (published in 1979) is a very entertaining fantasy set in medieval China. It follows a young herbal apprentice who falls into the company of a couple of snake-spirit women who, by chance, have transformed into humans. They seduce him, marry him and set up an apothecary where they dispense medicine aided by the snake women’s magical abilities. Soon, several trouble makers try to destroy the trio, ignoring that they are doing good in an attempt to stay human and better their future in the afterlife. Price tells his story in a way that I associate with Chinese cinema, making it feel like a lost Hong Kong film from decades past. The schemes of the antagonists read like the villains of those classic Shaw Brothers movies but Price is a good enough writer to make me care about the wives and poor Li Fong.
But the real reason I feel compelled to blog about this book is the physical condition of my copy. I purchased a cheap first edition paperback and it has clearly been much loved but not well cared for. The page edges seem to have been exposed to direct sunlight for a long time and are brittle to the touch. They often flake and break making it necessary to be careful while handling the book. Also, the covers were creased at the spine making repair to the front necessary before I could even start reading. And yesterday while I was finishing the story the back cover popped completely off. I have acid-free tape on hand so I’ll reattach the back but this event made a feeling I’ve had for days much stronger.
I tend to pass on books such as this to friends or trade them in for credit at a local used book store but the state of The Devil Wives of Li Fong has me wondering if I will be the last person in the world to read this copy. This makes me a little sad. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of books moving on to other hands so that these stories can be experienced by someone after me. But this copy of this book may not be in good enough shape to find another reader. I know this shouldn’t strike me as such a terrible event. After all, it is available right now as a used book in several places on the web and in ebook format on Amazon for anyone to buy cheaply. But this is one of the first books I know might never be enjoyed by anyone else again and it is an odd feeling. I really do hope I can repair this thing well enough to pass it to someone new.
Saturday, January 23, 2021
"Like its inspiration, Richard Matheson’s The Shrinking Man, Jack Arnold’s 1957 shocker expertly juggles sci-fi thrills, metaphysics, and a shrewd metaphor for suburban angst in Cold War America. The film is upheld by fine performances from Grant Williams as the humiliated husband who takes up residence in a doll house, and Randy Stuart as his equally embattled wife who has the patience of Job. The life-affirming finale walks a deft line between spirituality and humanism. Producer Albert Zugsmith was simultaneously working with Orson Welles on Touch of Evil and got him to provide 45 seconds of sonorous promo narration for the ads."
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
We begin our eleventh year of the show by having a Satanic discussion!
Author and podcaster Samm Deighan returns to dig into two specific Paul Naschy films. In both EXORCISM (1975) and INQUISITION (1977) Naschy plays a man of God working to help his flock overcome the influence of The Evil One. In one he is a paragon of virtue and in the other he is definitely not. Both films feature women placed in horrible positions by outside forces that seem to be Satanic in origin. But in each case the question of the how or even if these terrible things are happening is central to the story. Are these people possessed by the Devil or is there a more human quality to the awful events depicted?
Samm, Troy and I engage in a freewheeling discussion of these movies jumping from topic to topic as one point leads to another. The conversation assumes that you are familiar with both films and spoilers are certainly in the air. Religion is the main part of our talk but we also look at the obvious class commentary layered into the scripts. We talk about the movies that influenced these Naschy classics and how some later movies may have taken some ideas from them for sleazier effect. We drag in everything from HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973), MALIBIMBA (1979) and ANGEL HEART (1987) as we look at different ways of portraying the Dark One onscreen. Of course, as with any such chat, we end up ranging off the main topic which is how we somehow end up in nipple territory again! I’m not sure how this happens but I’m going to blame Samm. Yeah! It’s her fault. I also make time for a short anecdote about subjecting my unsuspecting beloved to a Jess Franco directed Fu Manchu film. Give her your sympathy.
We end the show with an email that was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in which we are asked to make a terrible purchasing choice. It takes us a while to decide! You can ask similar question or tell us your favorite onscreen Satan at that same address. Thank you for listening and we’ll be back soon.