It is the individual mainly which draws me--the struggling, blundering, passionate insect vainly striving against the river of Life and seeking to divert the channel of events to suit himself--breaking his fangs on the iron collar of Fate and sinking into final defeat with the froth of a curse on his lips.
--Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, ca. June 1931--
Survival of the Dead, the latest installment in George A. Romero‘s iconic “Dead” series of zombie films, just came out through video on demand services, Amazon and Xbox LIVE, before a limited theatrical release in the United States on May 28. It is the sixth film in the series.
New guests have been added to DragonCon’s guest list, and another has been hinted at, but not yet confirmed. First up is one of my favorites, Jason Momoa, who played the character Ronan Dex in the SyFy series Stargate: Atlantis. He has also been chosen to play the title character in the reboot of Conan the Barbarian.
Anyone eager to meet The Man Who Would Be Conan can do so this September in Atlanta:
Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe!
This year, Dragon*Con will be held Labor Day weekend (September 3–6, 2010) in Atlanta, GA.
Man, if only I could be there to pose questions to Jason: what was his favourite Conan story, his favourite quotation or moment from the tales, his favourite non-Conan Howard story, what he thought of the poems, things like that. By September, it’s likely the first production pictures of Momoa as “Conan” will have surfaced, leading to much renewed interest in the project. I foresee that interviews from most outlets would be more interested in making moronic Arnold comparisons and asking what it’s like working with the bad guy from Avatar than getting an insight into how Momoa approached the world’s most famous Cimmerian. It’s largely up to Howard fans to get in there with questions that we want answers for, instead of hoping TMZ or MTV ask Momoa what he thought of Conan’s relationship with Bêlit, or his views regarding ”The Phoenix on the Sword” and “The Tower of the Elephant.”
Hopefully any Howard fans going to Dragon*Con will be able to chat to Jason, and report their experiences to Howard fandom at large, maybe even capture it on video if possible. It would be nice to get some further confirmation that the cast are reading REH’s tales in Bulgaria, however little it might help the story. It’d certainly cheer my heart to hear Momoa quoting a real Conan yarn.
Among Steve Tompkins’ many interesting blog entries written here on The Cimmerian, there was this piece about Lovecraft-inspired motions pictures. The movie he was looking forward to see (as I am), Del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness, is not even in production yet, but another story written by the Man from Providence should make it to the silver screen sooner. Thanks to Grim Blogger, I learned a few days ago that the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society had released a new trailer for their adaptation of Howard Phillips Lovecraft‘s horror/science-fiction short story first published in the August 1931 issue of Weird Tales, ”The Whisperer in Darkness.” The film is supposed to be released in October.
Beware, Howard fans, viewing the video embedded in this blog post (thanks to shieldbrother Al for helping out someone who is only semi-literate with computers) might be painful. To see the (impressive) effort of a bunch of enthusiasts, who are genuinely caring for the source material, with this attempt to adapt their favorite’s author creation into film format, is something we’re not accustomed too. No compromise, no update of the story to a contemporary setting in a lame effort to please a modern audience; just the honest attempt to adapt faithfully on the silver screen what was written in the tale. In short, a purist’s dream come true. Exactly what has always been needed for movies based on Robert E. Howard’s stories, and never been supplied. When will the Texan’s tales get this kind of treatment?
William Stout's concept art for the dreaded Wheel of Pain
I’m sure some might be enjoying the break I’ve taken from reporting on the upcoming “Conan” film–Crom knows it’s done wonders for my blood pressure–but the most recent news is worth reporting, seeing as Howard heavyweight Patrice Louinet has more to say.
While Patrice cannot divulge much in the way of specifics, what he can reveal is nonetheless very interesting. First, though, let’s get up to date.
Maxym just read the new Conan script. He is not pleased.
Have you seen any movies lately? We’re making tin gods out of those poor buffoons in Hollywood; I dote on movies and appreciate the scanty art therein but I consider the profession about the most debased and debasing I know.
– Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, week of February 20, 1928.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. These are frustrating times for Howard fans who, like Two-Gun Bob, dote on movies. Solomon Kane has yet to win a distribution deal in the U.S. and Howard purists have thrust their rapiers repeatedly into the movie’s hide, coldly raging at the liberties taken with Howard’s steely Puritan.
With rare exceptions (which will get their due in due course), Hollywood just doesn’t seem to do well with swordplay, sorcery and barbaric splendor. But wait, dog brothers. All is not lost to the swashbuckling brotherhood. We can find the treasures we seek far from the debased civilization that is Hollywood. Look to the East, where Cossack riders thunder and swordsmen ply their trade in the trenches and upon the high seas.
In an occasional series, we’ll take a look at some films that will stir the blood of the fighting Howardians — and spare their grinding teeth.
Howard fans of Newport Beach and the surrounding area intrigued by news of Michael J. Bassett’s divisive interpretation of Solomon Kane will get a chance to see it, as the film will be shown at the 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival.
Here’s the blurb from the official site, though be warned, there are some substantial spoilers therein:
When English Captain Solomon Kane and his band of pillagers decide to attack a mysterious castle in Northern Africa to plunder its rumored riches, his mission to protect his homeland takes a fateful turn. One by one, Kane’s men are picked off by demonic creatures until he alone is left to face the Devil’s own Reaper — dispatched from the depths of Hell to lay claim to his hopelessly corrupt soul. Though Kane at last manages to escape, he knows that he now must redeem himself by renouncing violence and devoting himself wholly to a life of peace and purity. After Kane fails to thwart the brutal slaughter of the Crowthorns, a Puritan family that has befriended him, he vows to find and free their enslaved daughter Meredith; even if it means jeopardizing his own soul by re-embracing his murderous talents for a higher cause. His determined search eventually brings him face to face with his family’s own deadly secrets as he attempts to save Meredith and all of England from the forces of evil.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, it now appears the screening has been cancelled. The eruptions of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull is responsible: with no HD or 35mm copies of the film in the United States and Bassett himself stranded in the UK, it appears the wrath of Eyjafjallajökull, which has caused so much trouble over the past few weeks, has spread beyond the fall of its ash.
Generally, there are many ways one can approach the iconic Medusa of Greek Mythology. The Gorgoneion was an apotropaic amulet of the Ancient Greeks, usually depicting a tusked, snarling, bestial face leering below a mass of writhing snakes. This form was also depicted in the Athenian aspis pictured above. Others take the serpentine approach, depicting her with an ophidian tail, scales, scutes, horns and other fearsome features, such as in Ray Harryhausen’s Clash of the Titans. Most recently, Medusa appeared in the infamous video game God of War, where she sports cobras for hair and razor-sharp claws: though her face is not quite as monstrous, she still bears fangs and a somewhat mean expression. However, the exact last approach I’d go for–indeed, the polar opposite of the mythic creature’s entire being–in a remake of Clash of the Titans is a face that elicits the response “she’s absolutely gorgeous.”
This is probably the most potent example of just how much of a colossal disaster Clash of the Titans is–and what’s most worrying of all is how the mistakes made here could so easily happen in “Conan.” I’m going to warn now that the plot of the film–and that of “Conan”–will be dissected, destroyed and defenestrated forthwith, though frankly, if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve pretty much seen the whole film anyway. (Continue reading this post)
This Cimmerian blog entry is a bit out of the ordinary. Following Damon C. Sasser’s recent post on the REH:Two-Gun Raconteur blog, fellow blogger Al Harron and myself both started to work on articles about proposed Howardian movies. Thus, instead of posting two blog entries with some overlap, we decided to revive the Auld Alliance and to provide a joint entry. Hence, this piece is a collaborative effort, co-signed by Alexander Harron and Miguel Martins.
The film purportedly based on REH’s mighty-thewed “Dark Barbarian” from Cimmeria has begun shooting in Bulgaria, but sadly, the positive news on the Conan project provided by Patrice Louinet tends to be drowned in a miasma of depressing, outrageous and otherwise unpleasant news. Damon Sasser was the messenger of doom last week, as he brought a number of upcoming Paradox projects to our attention.
Given my interest in the development of the “Conan” movie (not for the film itself, you know, but mostly because it’s going to be introducing a lot of people to Robert E. Howard, and it’ll be important to know ahead of time what’s coming) I was eager to delve into May 2010′s Empire, a British film magazine of great esteem and popularity. Within was “Conan the Unmade,” a seven-page article on the history of Robert E. Howard “adaptations” on the big screen. However, I was not expecting a pleasant surprise: REH legend Rusty Burke graced the magazine with his presence.
I’ve always had a fascination with World War II. When I was a kid I played with army soldiers and guns, pretend battles with friends that always pitted the U.S. vs. Germany. When I got older I started to read about the war, broadening my interest from its tanks and planes and guns to its root causes, its personalities, its tactics and triumphs, and its tragedies.
But it wasn’t really until 1998’s Saving Private Ryan that I grasped the true hell of combat. Even now, some twelve years later, when I think about those landing craft approaching the beaches at Normandy, my palms break out in sweat, my heart begins to race, and my damn testicles crawl up inside my body.
I had the same reaction watching 2001’s Band of Brothers. When Easy Company’s paratroopers bail out over France into heavy flak and tracer bullets, landing spread across hostile fields in which enemy soldiers wait below, wanting only to kill them, my first thought was an incredulous, Men actually did this?
The memories of these scenes left me eagerly anticipating the 10-part HBO miniseries The Pacific, which switches the action from the European theatre of war to the savage battles waged against the Japanese. Having recently read With the Old Breed—an outstanding combat memoir by Marine infantryman Eugene Sledge, and one of the books upon which the mini-series is based — I knew The Pacific had the underpinnings to be very, very good. And with the same superstar producer duo that brought us both Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers—Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks—I was hoping that lightning would strike thrice with The Pacific.