Posted tagged ‘horror’

“Penny Dreadful” is Dreadfully Good!

July 1, 2014

penny-dreadful

If you have a taste for horror that’s complex, intelligently written, and well-acted you might find Showtime’s series “Penny Dreadful” a real gem! The title of the series hails from sensational serialized British literary entertainment of the 19th century that was pitched to working-class males, each installment of which cost a penny.

Now before your eyes glaze over, this framework unites classic literary horror characters of the 19th century, such as Victor Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Dorian Grey, and others all updated and re-imagined in refreshing ways. Victor Frankenstein, for example (pictured), is portrayed as a young man, vital, intellectual, and with knowledge and capabilities light years ahead of the Victorian times.  His creations (yes, there is more than one “monster”) are not mute, shuffling brutes, but rather agile and articulate if socially impaired creatures who read and learn, grow, and suffer angst; they wander about London.  We are really starting to like the second-generation “Proteus” when the first-born unexpectedly appears to rip him apart.  Characters not presented in classic literature are also introduced, such as the dark and formidable Vanessa Ives, an at times demonically possessed medium and clairvoyant who reminds me of Wednesday Addams as she might have been in adulthood; a seance scene featuring her is absolutely incredible. Timothy Dalton, who has taken a turn as James Bond, portrays Sir Malcom, the leader of a group of Victorian-era “ghostbusters” including Dr. Frankenstein who are trying to retrieve his one daughter from a particularly nasty group of vampires.  Each team member has a unique skill set; these characters could do Mountain Monsters, and actually catch and subdue something!

It’s all wild stuff played seriously, and the series isn’t for the squeamish or the young as there is violence, blood, occasional nudity, and adult themes. The Victorian setting is recreated lavishly and with attention to detail; this is upper-level television, even if death and the supernatural as art. – – What furry elements are there is all of this? Well, in the last episode of the first season that has just concluded, one character when his back is hard pressed to the wall by bounty hunters about to drag him off in chains is revealed to be a werewolf!  I won’t reveal which character so as not to spoil the surprise for those who have yet to view the series or the episode, each of which has a dramatic twist of some kind you probably won’t see coming.  

With a dynamite ensemble cast and an underlying idea that hasn’t been visited since The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, this series is great for those who like psychological thrillers and dark horror.  Catch it on Showtime, or view it on Xfinity On Demand…

The Zombie? – – Of Corpse!

November 2, 2013

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– – On this Dia de Los Muertos following hard on the heels of Halloween, the mind runs more naturally to a consideration of supernatural, creepy, and scary considerations.  Zombies are much in vogue, having developed as a horror sub-genre through the work of George Romero among others and more recently, well-written and acted shows such as The Walking Dead.

In our modern age, death is kind of a final taboo, and the dead are swiftly and antiseptically spirited away so our delicate sensitivities are not offended by them, and we can postpone dealing with our own mortality.  Such was not the case in earlier times, when people would have been well-acquainted with both the sight of the dying and dead bodies.  In ancient times especially during plague years, dead bodies could be seen in public places in varying stages of decomposition, their numbers at times overwhelming burial details. As zombies are essentially animated corpses, their presence in film and literature may hark back to a kind of revulsion and fear in the collective unconscious over events that transpired earlier in human history…


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