Why Adapt Dracula?

Dracula_Archibald_Constable_and_Company_1901Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published in 1897. It is fairly readable today, though there are some old words that are no longer in common use, and the sentence structure is convoluted in places. The original text is available for free from Project Gutenberg. I wanted to create a version that was more easily approachable by modern readers: Dracula in Modern English.

One of the most annoying features of the book is it’s overuse of the diary trope. By giving the text as a series of diary entries by various characters, Stoker is able to write the book in the first person. As pointed out by Stephen King, one of the problems with the first person is that, for us to be hearing the story, the narrator (or in this case, the author of the diary or at least the diary itself) must have survived whatever adventure they are recounting, killing any tension their peril might otherwise create. This led me to make the significant change of rewriting book in the third person, with the diary entry’s author as the viewpoint character.

As I’ve done with most of my modern English adaptations, I’ve tried to stay as close to the source as possible. Hope you all enjoy.

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Lovecraft and the Archetypes of Horror

lovecraftI’ve embarked on another modern English adaptation of an HP Lovecraft story, this time “The Shunned House” (the original is available for free from Project Gutenberg). The story, published after Lovecraft’s untimely death in 1937, is Lovecraft’s take on the classic theme of the haunted house.

An interesting question: Where does HP Lovecraft fit in to Stephan King’s attempt to define the archetypes of horror in his excellent non-fiction book “Danse Macabre“? I’ll briefly recap them and then give my opinion.

The Zombie

The zombie is the archetypical monster that embodies the fear of being dead. King’s example is the monster from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. His own Pet Sematary , in which a dead child is reanimated with horrific results, is another good example.

The Vampire

The vampire embodies our fear of our own sexual and hedonistic natures, and their propensity for putting us in danger if not kept under control. The Shunned House hints that a vampire is behind the deaths in the place, and retains a vampiric element to the end, but I wouldn’t consider it a vampire story.

The Werewolf

The werewolf embodies our fear of our animal nature, the id, and of our own ability to commit horrific acts. The Shunned House hints that a werewolf is behind the deaths in the place when the narrator relates the history of Jaques Roulet, ancestor of the family who first lived on the site.

The Ghost

Ghosts embody our fear of the dead themselves. The Shunned House gives plenty of hints that the evil that lurks within it is ghostly, but in the end, I’d once more say it isn’t. While the shunned house is very much Lovecraft’s haunted house story, it remains Lovecraft, and thus falls into a subgenre not included in King’s taxonomy of horror.

Cosmic Horror

Lovecraft’s brand of horror has been called cosmic horror, and this is an apt description. His stories embodies the fear of the unknown. The same angst can be found in King’s “The Mist“, and in Dan Simmon’s disturbing story “Metastasis“. The Shunned House toys with other subgenres, but in the end, comes home to cosmic horror.

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Ayn Rand’s Anthem

anthemI decided to adapt Ayn Rand’s short story even though the author’s English is fairly readable–if clunky–even in the 21st century. Probably the least approachable feature of her story is the use of the pronoun “we” throughout. Her point was to show that everyone in her dystopian future had been brainwashed from birth to consider themselves part of the collective. While interesting, the use of the first person plural makes the story more difficult to read.

Why adapt this story at all? Rand is well known as one of the founders of Libertarian philosophy, and the utilitarian branch in particular. Libertarianism has long been a bridge between liberalism and conservatism, as well as a bulwark against authoritarians on both the left (Communists) and the right (Facists). Rand’s story allegorically illustrates where the Communist ideal of equality of outcome could lead if successfully implemented.

You can read my adaption of the full story here: Ayn Rand’s Anthem in Modern English. The original can be found here: The Project Gutenberg EBook of Anthem, by Ayn Rand.

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HP Lovecraft in Modern English

the-horrorI’ve just added a new modern English adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror. It’s based on the author’s original, which is available from Project Gutenberg for free since it’s out of copyright. The original was written early in the twentieth century. HP Lovecraft’s work is still readable, but he uses many words that are no longer in common use, his sentence structures are archaic, and he constantly injects softening words like ‘seemed’. My adaptation attempts to preserve his story while making it easy to read.

Here’s a before after example, taken from the horribly accented dialog in the original.

Before:

“I dun’t keer what folks think—ef Lavinny’s boy looked like his pa, he wouldn’t look like nothin’ ye expeck. Ye needn’t think the only folks is the folks hereabouts. Lavinny’s read some, an’ has seed some things the most o’ ye only tell abaout. I calc’late her man is as good a husban’ as ye kin find this side of Aylesbury; an’ ef ye knowed as much abaout the hills as I dew, ye wouldn’t ast no better church weddin’ nor her’n. Let me tell ye suthin’—some day yew folks’ll hear a child o’ Lavinny’s a-callin’ its father’s name on the top o’ Sentinel Hill!

After:

“I don’t care what folks think—if Lavinny’s boy looked like his pa, he wouldn’t look like anything you’d expect. You shouldn’t think the only folks are the folks hereabouts. Lavinny’s read some, and has seen some things the most of you only talk about. I’d say her man is as good a husband as you can find this side of Aylesbury. If you knew as much about the hills as I do, you wouldn’t ask for a better church wedding nor hearing. Let me tell you something—some day you folks’ll hear a child of Lavinny’s calling its father’s name on the top of Sentinel Hill!

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Movies Coming in 2019

I’m going to comment on the movies planned for release in 2019 according to The Numbers. I’m only commenting on ones that I’ve heard of or that sound interesting.

Release Date Film Title Comments
February 1 Jacob’s Ladder Why is this excellent film being remade? Unless I hear it’s as good or better than the original, I’m not interested.
February 5 Benchwarmers 2: Breaking Balls Yuck!
February 8 The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part I couldn’t get through the first part. No go.
What Men Want I loved the original, but this is another all female reboot. Unless I hear it’s good, I’m not interested.
February 14 Alita: Battle Angel This looks epic. I plan to see it unless I hear it’s bad.
February 22 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World I thought the first film was decent, but don’t feel the need to watch any of the sequels.
March 8 Captain Marvel I’ll go to this if I hear it’s good.
March 15 Wonder Park Looks like another dumb animated film. No go.
March 29 Dumbo Live action Tim Burton film. I’ll go if I hear it’s good.
April 5 Pet Cemetary Remake of a decent film based on a good Stephen King novel. I may go see it if I hear it’s good.
Shazam! Zach “Chuck” Levi in a Big meets super hero film. Looks fun. I’m in.
April 12 Hellboy Reboot (why?) starring David “Hopper” Harbour. The professor is downgraded from John Hurt to Ian McShane. I’ll go if I hear it’s good.
April 26 Avengers: Endgame Will see this unless I hear it’s bad.
May 10 Detective Pikachu Ryan Reynolds voices the electric mouse. Will see this if I hear it’s good.
May 17 John Wick 3: Parabellum Hopefully this one’s better than part 2. May see in the theatre if I hear it’s good.
May 24 Aladdin Loved the animated version. Will Smith as Genie. Will see if I hear it’s good.
BrightBurn Horror Superman from GOTG director James Gunn. May see if I hear it’s good.
Minecraft Unlikely to see this.
May 31 Godzilla: King of the Monsters May see this if I hear it’s good, but unlikely.
Rocketman Elton John biopic. I love EJ, but doubt I’ll go to this.
June 7 Dark Phoenix The final Fox instalment in the X-Men reboot. May go if I hear it’s good.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 Nope.
June 14 Men in Black: International May see this reboot starring Tessa “Valkyrie” Thompson and Chris “Thor” Hemsworth with Liam Neeson as “Z”.
Shaft Comedy reboot. No thanks.
June 21 Child’s Play Reboot horror. No thanks.
Grudge Third sequel to my favourite horror film. I’ll pass unless I hear it’s great.
Toy Story 4 May see this. Liked the first three.
June 28 47 Meters Down: Uncaged Shark movie sequel. No!
July 3 The Conjuring 3 Might see. First one was decent. Unlikely.
July 5 Spider-Man: Far From Home Homecoming was decent. May see this sequel.
July 19 The Lion King Live action remake. Might see it if I hear it’s great.
August 2 Dora The Explorer No
Hobbs and Shaw Fast and Furious spin off with the Rock and Statham. Unlikely to see this.
The New Mutants Scary X-Men. Will go if I hear it’s good.
August 9 Artemis Fowl May go to this young adult fantasy if I hear good things.
August 16 The Angry Birds Movie 2 No chance.
PLAYMOBIL Nope.
September 6 It: Chapter Two Hells yeah!
September 20 Downton Abbey Only if I’m dragged there.
October 4 Joker Jaochim Phoenix stars. I may go if I hear it’s good.
October 11 The Addams Family Another reboot? No chance.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? Meh. Not likely.
Zombieland 2 3D Not unless I hear it’s really good. First one was OK.
November 1 Charlie’s Angels Another rereboot with Kirsten Stewart. No chance.
Terminator 6 Maybe, if I hear it’s good. Still haven’t watched Genesis. I loved 1 and 2.
 November 8 Midway Reboot of an old war movie. Unlikely I’ll see it.
Sonic The Hedgehog Unlikely I’ll see this.
November 15 Untitled Kingsman Movie If I hear it’s better than the second one, maybe.
November 22 Frozen 2 Nope. Haven’t seen the first one.
December 13 Jumanji 3 May see if I hear it’s good. The reboot (Jumanji 2) was surprisingly good.
December 18 Masters of the Universe Might see this if I hear its really good.
December 20 Star Wars: Ep. IX Will see this unless I hear its terrible.
TBD Bride of Frankenstein May see this if I hear its really good.
Kim Possible Unlikely to see this.
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Underrated: “Hotel Artemis”

* * * B

 

Hotel-ArtemisHotel Artemis is a highly underrated science fiction film about a secret hospital that caters to criminals. It is set in the near future, and features excellent performances by Jodie Foster (the Nurse) and Sterling K. Brown. The supporting cast is solid, the science fiction interesting, and the plot well written. If you like science fiction, I recommend you watch it for yourself and make up your own mind.

The amazing thing about this film is that on Rotten Tomatoes, it has both a low critic score (57%, which is close to fresh) and a low audience score (33%). If you dig in to the reviews, the big critique seems to be that the ending was weak. While I agree that the film is not excellent, I thought it was fun. While lately I’ve found the critics to often be wrong, I rarely like a film that both critics and audience agree is poor.

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Originality vs. Criticism

For a few years, I had been trying to write something on this blog every day. A lot of the pieces I’ve written are critiques of other articles. Criticism is easy when compared with writing an original article. It also encourages readers to view what I’m saying through the frame of the article I’m criticizing, which leads people to assume my position is counter to the one the article’s author holds, though it often isn’t.

I’ve taken a hiatus for the past month or so because I felt I was getting stale and I wasn’t really honing my craft. I plan to slow down and focus more on original content, where I share my own opinions and ideas. This means I’ll be writing more philosophical essays, though I’ll continue to review films and books (especially those that I feel are under or overrated) and will publish more modern English adaptations too.

nativityI’d like to thank everyone who’s followed me through the years. If there is anything you’d like to see me write about, feel free to leave me a suggestion in a comment. I hope you all have had a good year. Best wishes for the holiday, and may you have a very happy 2019.

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