Hidden Cinema Gems, 1970-71

For one reason or another, oftentimes studio executives’ befuddlement over the nature of a movie they green-lighted but have no affinity for or understanding of when it is finished, a film enters limbo.  In the past it might become the second entry on a double-feature bill.  Reviews might be scanty or nil.  It will in short become lost.  Today, if it’s an “international” picture, it might not even reach DVD status in North America. 

The five movies discussed below are examples of such films from 1970 or 1971, depending on the actual release date.  Some U.S. Army personnel in West Germany were privileged to see them on base theaters and did not forget what was surely a unique “moviegoing experience.”         

The Blood on Satan’s Claw (aka Satan’s Skin, U.K.)

In early 18th century England, as crows caw spookily, a young farmer unearths a disgusting visage in a furrow, but when he returns with others it has disappeared.  Soon enough, however, young folk go missing.  Some are victims, others in thrall of something not fully formed but obviously intent on contaminating the countryside, including the parson. A witchfinder is summoned.  This is folk horror at its finest and would make a great bookend with The Wicker Man (1973).  It was once on VHS but is not on DVD for viewing in North America despite increasing coverage in outre film magazines.  Elaine Macintyre said it “provides a microcosm of a world in the grip of mass hysteria, in which witches and deviltry lurk round every corner.”  (http://www.elainemacintyre.net/film_revuews/blood_on_satans_claw.php)     

Darker Than Amber (U.S.)

Rod Taylor (The Time Machine, Hotel) is John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, “salvage” expert, aka private eye, when he needs some cash, who lives aboard a houseboat named the Busted Flush in Ft. Lauderdale.  In this outing Travis helps Vangie (Suzy Kendall) survive the depredations of sociopathic Terry (William Smith).  The climactic bare-knuckle fracas between Taylor and Smith (TV westerns, Hawaii 5-O, Chrome and Hot Leather, Any Which Way You Can) that rockets from a cruise ship cabin out onto the dock is worth the price of admission.  In a 2010 interview, Smith said, “Fight choreography and staging went out the window when Rod [Taylor] decided to really hit me.  And so the fight was on.  That was a real fight with real blood and real broken bones.  Rod is a skilled fighter, and, at the same time a real scrapper.  Now that was a good fight!”  (Tim Tal, “William Smith:  My fight with Clint Eastwood was longest two-man fight scene on screen,” BZFilm, April 1, 2010.)  William Lustig called it “A truly great overlooked 70s detective thriller,” and William Smith “expressed disappointment that it had become a legendary lost film.”  (William Lustig, “Anthology Film Archives Screens The Seventies—Buried Treasures Series,” August 14, 2009). 

Road to Salina (France)

Road was directed by George Lautner, a notable French filmmaker, but it’s in English and the four prime performers are American:  Mimsy Farmer (Spencer’s Mountain, Riot on Sunset Strip), Robert Walker (Jr.), son of notable film stars Jennifer Jones (The Song of Bernadette, Duel in the Sun) and Robert Walker (The Clock, Strangers on a Train), Rita Hayworth (Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai), and oddest of all, venerable character actor Ed Begley (Twelve Angry Men, Sweet Bird of Youth).  The story:  A young drifter named Jonas (Walker) finds himself at a gas station cum café in a remote venue (the sun-drenched but haunting moonscape of the Canary Islands) run by Mara (Hayworth).  She proclaims him “Rocky,” the son who ran off four years before.  Jonas plays along just for the heck of it.  It doesn’t hurt that Mara has an alluring daughter, Billee (Farmer).  Warren (Begley) goes along with the deception to keep Mara happy. This is a multi-layered and quite mesmerizing film of mystery, suspense and forbidden romance.  The audio commentary on the new DVD release is enlightening and thought-provoking.  Occasionally it did get some notice in the past:  “The movie has a grainy look and an existentialist bend, befitting of a film made by a Frenchman.  It contains suspense elements…, free love sexuality, exotic scenery, generation gap disconnects, and does-a-number-on-your-head oddness.”  (Brian Greene, www.criminalelement.com, April 25, 2014.)     

Scream and Scream Again (U.K.)

Scream is a distinctly odd sci-fi/horror film starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and, briefly, Peter Cushing.  At the time of release most critics deemed it incomprehensible.  Roger Ebert called it “absurd” and “engagingly ridiculous.”  (Roger Ebert, “Scream and Scream Again,” www.rogerebert.com, February 18, 1970.)  The commentators for this newly issued DVD make a case for planned surrealism and also believe the police chase involving a kind of cyborg the longest in cinema history.  Price’s scientist maintains that what he is creating will be great, “but not an evil super race.”  Acid baths hide evidence of misdoing.    

The Vampire Lovers (U.K.)

This Hammer Studios film was the first of the commonly designated “Karnstein Trilogy” that was followed by Twins of Evil and Lust for a Vampire and was the initial Hammer outing for the actress generally considered the studio’s greatest femme fatale (not a scream queen because she caused the screaming), Ingrid Pitt, concentration camp survivor who knew all about human-sponsored horror.  It is based on J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s famous novella, Carmilla.  Pitt played Carmilla,/Mircalla/Marcilla and visited sex and death upon young ladies whose mansions she infiltrated as a kind of governess.  Even more so than other Hammer films, it was beautifully filmed.  Played straight, there are nevertheless moments of sly humor.  Back in 1970, The Philadelphia Daily News‘ film reviewer Joe Baltake called it “Campy, literate, witty and dead-straight vampire movie.”

Giving Tuesday is November 30th

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world on November 30, 2021.

It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. The Chester County Library and Henrietta Hankin Branch Library are proud to serve as your community center and provide resources for computer skills, job searches, genealogy, writing workshops, and so much more.

Please help us to uphold this tradition by donating here. http://tinyurl.com/ccltrust

November KClub Meeting

Been watching K-Dramas for years and want to meet new K-Drama lovers?  Love BTS but don’t know much about Korean television?  Break out the kimchi and join us to watch an episode of one the hottest Korean shows, then pop onto a Zoom call to chat about the show, the newest Korean music, and Korean culture – all from the comfort of our own homes.

On November 21, from 3:00pm – 5:00pm, we will be watching the pilot episode of “The King’s Affection.”  In this historical romance, twins are considered an ominous sign.  So when the Crown Prince’s consort gives birth to twins, an order is sent to kill the girl.  In order to save her life, the girl twin is secreted away.  Some years later, however, the boy twin dies in an accident, and so the mother brings back the girl twin to be raised in his place.  Thus the girl grows up keeping herself distant from everyone so as not to reveal her secret, but despite this distance, she finds herself slowly growing feelings for her teacher, Jung Ji-Woon. Son of a noble family, he could’ve chosen the easy route in life, but instead he chose to become a teacher to the Crown Prince.  As they grow closer, who’s secret will be revealed first?  Will it be hers – that she is actually a woman and a twin instead of the brother she is pretending to be – or his – the reason he forsook the easy future that was set out for him?

Ages 16+

Registration is required to receive the Zoom link and viewing instructions.  Register on the event calendar here.

For questions, please email us at: ccljtc@ccls.org.

National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – Geoff Le Pard

During the month of November, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

Geoff Le Pard

Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author Geoff Le Pard, a published indie author whose multiple projects began with NaNoWriMo challenges.

Thank you for joining us, Geoff!

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo? I’ve done three and a half years!

How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? When I started blogging, I read about it and heard people praise it so decided to give it a go.

Three of your books began as NaNoWriMo projects. Can you tell us more about how you got started? The first book was the second book in a series. It followed my hero on his hapless journey and was set in 1981. Having finished the first book (set in 1976), I knew I wanted to continue, but I kept putting it off. Having heard about Nano, I saw it as the perfect way to kick-start book two. It worked.

The second book was a challenge I set myself the following year. I took the Nano concept—a challenge to write 1667 words a day through out November—and gave it a twist. I asked friends, family, fellow writers and followers of my blog to send me any prompt for short stories that appealed to them. By the time Nano began, I had thirty possible short story prompts and structures. Each day I committed to write a new short self-contained story of 1667 words exactly and post it on my blog. Eventually, I turned it into my first anthology of short stories, entitled Life, In A Grain of Sand.

The third book, like the first needed a kick-start and while this one proved more difficult to bring to fruition I did complete the 50,000 words for Nano. The half book was a disappointment at the time (I only managed about 32,000 words) but I left it alone for a year and came back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.

Where are your books and stories set? The first book is set in the West End of London in 1981, following the adventures of Harry Spittle, a character loosely based on me, or at least on my life’s trajectory—in this instalment he is training to be a lawyer, as I was in 1981. His adventures are nothing like my own! The second, as I explained is a set of shorts, so pretty much everywhere! The third is a modern comic fantasy set about now in a city much like London but not as you’d know it.

What has been your process of editing and preparing your NaNoWriMo manuscripts for publication? It is no different to any other book, really. For me, that first draft is like chiseling a few lumps off a piece of rock for a sculptor. It needs a heck of a lot of work. I usually leave anything I’ve written for a minimum of three and sometimes up to six months before I look at it again. After that it’s edit, edit, edit. If I can, I will try and persuade someone who will give me honest comments (and not just ‘nice’) to read it. Eventually I pay an editor to read it through, point out any obvious nonsenses with plot, character, dialogue etc and a second pass to clean up typos etc. Then I self-publish. I have a designer I use for the covers.

What is your favorite method of writing—pen (or pencil) and paper or a computer? Why? Computer; I can’t read my own writing.

What’s the most important part of your writing ritual (e.g. what kind of music do you listen to, favorite snack when writing, motivational quotes, etc.)? A comfortable seat, good lighting and no chores making me feel guilty… I don’t really hear the music playing while writing; for me, it’s like the stuff you get in a lift—wallpaper music. Therefore, it can be anything, usually some compilation on Spotify.

Are you an early bird writer or a night owl? Both. More a night owl, I suppose. I’m most productive when there’s nothing else to do that day than write.

Are you a pantser or a planner? I used to say a pantser, but I’ve realized I’m a hybrid. All my novels, so far, have started with an idea and I’ve started writing with no end in mind. I may have one or two characters, but they develop as I write. However, I’m constantly revising my plot in my head, often taking it a long way forward. I plan a lot, I just don’t write the plot down.

What challenges have you faced as a writer? Time, time, time. And an over use of the word ‘so’. And a disinclination to tell my readers where my characters are – I struggle with locations, no idea why. I love editing and rewriting as much as the first write.

What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? The discipline of the challenge and knowing there are lot of others out there in their metaphorical garrets, toiling away to crack the 50K barrier.

What authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Sue Townsend, AA Milne, Herge, Patrick Hamilton, Iain Banks, Ann Cleeve, Michael Bond… it’s pretty endless really.

Do you have any advice for first-time NaNoWriMo participants? It is a marathon and as such do not think about the finish line; break it down into bite sized chunks. You can catch up if you miss a day. Try not to worry that you’ve changed a character, forgotten their name, put them in a different location, left a plot hole with its own event horizon—none of that matters as much as getting the 50k written. It doesn’t have to be linear either; if you write a chapter but aren’t sure where it will fit, it still counts and the exact insertion can follow. DO NOT LOOK BACK but keep moving forward, just writing.

Geoff Le Pard has been writing creatively since 2006 when, at a summer school with his family he wrote a short radio play. That led to a novel, some more courses, more novels, each better than the last until he took an MA in creative writing at Sheffield Hallam, graduating in 2013. His published works include Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Life, in a Grain of Sand. A retired lawyer, he mixes writing with a range of activities, including walking his dog to find inspiration, wrestling his lawn into a chequerboard pattern and watching sports. You can find him on WordPress at Tangental.

About NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit organization since 2006, supports writing fluency and education. Their website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.

In the midst of your NaNoWriMo project? Click here for resources, tips, information about our month-long Write-Ins, and a free virtual Writer’s Emergency Kit.

Click on the authors names to read our NaNoWriMo interviews: Jennifer Kelland Perry, JD Estrada and Jill Weatherholt.

CCLS/CCL Board Meeting

Due to the easing of COVID restrictions, the Board of Trustees of the Chester County Library System/Chester County Library will now be hosting their monthly board meeting as a hybrid offering. If you have always wanted to attend a meeting but haven’t had the time, this is your opportunity. Please click on this link at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 16 to join the Chester County Library System Board Meeting virtually; or attend in person at Chester County Library, 450 Exton Square Parkway, PA 19341. The Chester County Library Board Meeting will immediately follow. Find the Chester County Library Board Packet here.

If you are a person with a disability and wish to attend this meeting and require an auxiliary aid, service, or other accommodation to observe or participate in the proceedings, please call Chester County Library’s Administration Office at 610-344-5600 to discuss how we may best accommodate your needs.

National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – J.D. Estrada

During the month of November, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

J.D. Estrada

Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author J.D. Estrada, a published indie author whose multiple projects began with NaNoWriMo challenges.

Thank you for joining us, J.D.!

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo? Along with Camp NaNoWriMo I’ve participated 4 different years though not back-to-back. November is often a very tricky month to navigate because of work and hey, we’re only human 🙂 Still, when the opportunity is there, I dive right in.

How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? I first heard about NaNo when a fellow indie author was hosting some live panels, YouTube videos, and write-ins 5 years ago and the year after. I found it interesting and took a stab at Camp NaNo first to get my feet wet before going all in for NaNoWriMo. In addition, I gained an amazing author friend and have discovered one of my favorite authors.

How many of your books began as NaNoWriMo projects? Can you give us a brief description of these? The best example of a NaNoWrimo Novel was actually my middle-grade fantasy, Given to Fly. It tells the story of a young boy who moves to a new house in the Pacific Northwest. Upon arriving, he quickly realizes that there’s not one bit of magic in his new home and for very good reason…because it lives further down the road in a magical house called Od Manor. Other projects that have begun as NaNo projects include Roulette of Rhymes (poetry collection) and For Writing Out Loud (non-fiction collection of essays). Many other projects benefitted from NaNo events as well though in terms of sheer effort and word count, those are the best examples where I was able to show just how much you can do in a month.

How did you feel after completing NaNoWriMo for the first time? It was a bit nerve wracking to be honest because I felt I put myself on the spot. Fortunately, I organized myself super well for Given to Fly and had been pondering the story for quite a while. So when I sat down to write it was intense. Once I finished the first draft, I couldn’t really believe it and that the editing process was actually as easygoing as it was. It was extremely gratifying and definitely showed me what any of us can do if we’re stubborn and creative enough to find the time to write.

Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? I will be participating to close my Human Cycle trilogy with Beyond Human. I might dabble here and there with a short story or two, maybe poetry, essays, or even songs if inspiration takes me but the intention shall be to motivate myself to give this project the love and focus it needs, not put undue pressure on myself.

You mention on your Amazon author page that you enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy. Is your writing influenced by these genres? What other outside interests influence your work? All my reads inspire and influence my writing because I love reading a variety of things and have always been a curious guy. Outside influences include bodyboarding, boxing, videogames, the movies I watch, and I have to admit that music influences EXTENSIVELY. I have little nods to Pearl Jam, Elbow, Soundgarden, Tool, Tori Amos, Ani Di Franco, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Alice in Chains, Blind Melon, ACDC, Jimi Hendrix, and countless others.

In addition, what authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? Some clear influences are Poe, Lovecraft, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Frank Herbert, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and beyond. These are the authors whose books keep me company when life is a bit much, that invite me to dream, and that I turn to if I need a pick-me-up.

What is your favorite method of writing – pen (or pencil) and paper or a computer? Why? Lol most of my answers will begin with: “depends on the project.” The same applies here. Nonfiction I write best when directly on the computer. Short fiction and novels I write with pen and paper and often opt for red ink for novels and other colors for short fiction. With poetry, I favor pencil and paper because it lets me adjust on the fly a bit better.

What’s the most important part of your writing ritual (e.g. what kind of music do you listen to, favorite snack when writing, motivational quotes, etc.)? Music often drives what and how I write and I do take my sweet time making playlists for my different projects. My main thing with music is to get in the mood I need to for what I’m writing and I’ve listened to enough music in my life to know EXACTLY what I need. I have playlists for dark writes, for whimsical stories, for battle scenes, for mellow moments, and for poetry.

Are you an early bird writer or a night owl? I used to be a night owl and have been more an early bird writer BUT, what I think I’ve become is an opportunistic writer. If I see an opportunity to drop off the grid with a notebook, expect some smoke bombs followed by my pitter patter as I flee for a writing session. Call me a writing scavenger if you must, but if there’s a slice of time that’s just sitting there…it will NOT go to waste.

Are you a pantser or a planner? I’ve honed my style to be more a plantser, leaning a bit more to planning. Still, some projects are full on stream of thought, especially poetry and my Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore. BOTH those writes benefit from me painting outside the lines.

What challenges have you faced as a writer? How long have you got? 🙂 EVERY writer will face challenges and they will find different solutions. For me, being an indie author, the biggest challenges relate to having people give me and my work a chance. Motivation can sometimes wain as well, though I think the main challenge is balancing the day job, life, and writing.

What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? ANYTHING that motivates to push and finish a project has got my vote. NaNo and Camp NaNo have often been wakeup calls to get my act together. Sure, I am good at my day job…but when it comes to writing, I truly believe it’s what I was meant to do.

Do you have any advice for first-time NaNoWriMo participants? NaNo is a beautiful project with an energetic community and you should definitely make the most of this contact, though you also have to see if it’s a good fit for you. Use NaNo as motivation and to connect with fellow authors. If it’s burning you out or if it’s cramping your style, do Camp NaNo instead. Most importantly, have fun, because if there’s anything to strive for, it’s for each of us to enjoy what we’re doing.

Although J.D. Estrada currently resides in Atlanta, GA, home shall always be Puerto Rico. With 18 published works and many more on the way, Estrada likes to explore a variety of genres including urban fantasy, middle-grade, poetry, non-fiction, and horror in both English and Spanish because if variety is the spice of life, then let things be spicy. Beyond books, he is also a Creativity Ambassador with a sock collection that borders on the ludicrous and is the original banana secret agent #00Bananas. If you don’t know what that is, check that hash tag for some silly. You can find JD on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

About NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit organization since 2006, supports writing fluency and education. Their website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.

It’s not too late to get started with NaNoWriMo! Click here for resources, tips, information about our month-long Write-Ins, and a free virtual Writer’s Emergency Kit.

Click here to read last week’s interview with Jennifer Kelland Perry.