Friday, March 27, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Month of March

For the last Friday in March, I would like to feature the story The Month of March on page 42 of Italian Fairy Tales by Georgene Faulkner.  This is the first fairy tale I've read that features personified months; seasons, sure, but not months.

It also includes the very common theme of two people (in this case a rich brother and a poor brother) getting a completely different results from an encounter with the same supernatural being(s).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--Aino Folk-tales

The Ainu are an indigenous Japanese people.  This collection of tales aimed at academics hasn't got any illustrations, so I've added one from a Dover clip art collection.

Aino Folk-tales by Basil Hall Chamberlain

The story I would like to feature is The Man who was changed into a Fox on page 25.  Foxes appear frequently in Japanese folklore. They generally disguise themselves as women, or possess the souls of women,  so that makes this story an interesting exception.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel)

The Rifftrax version of  this film has amused me through a dozen viewings.  I just can't get tired of it.  First of all, it's a well-preserved black-and-white, so it looks like Film Noir.  (The stills I got off the web don't do it justice.)  You can easily see the fine texture of people's hair, of wood, of fabric.  In night scenes you get creepy shadows creeping over everything and, in the vicinity of Whitewood, MA, an abundance of fog.  (There is no Whitewood in MA.  Don't search for it.)

It starts out with a witch-burning. In general, New Englanders hanged their witches, but burning does make for more drama.  Lucifer answers her appeal, manifesting as darkness and thunder--which doesn't seem right.  After all, he's the light-bringer, and lightning is Yahweh's thing.

Patricia Jessel plays Elizabeth Selwyn, the witch who curses Whitewood and comes back from the dead to practice blood sacrifice.  She enunciates her lines very carefully.  Was this because of her stage acting or because she had to speak with an American accent?  The Rifftrax crew pays no attention to Jessel's enunciation, but they do make fun of Tom Naylor's shifting accent.

 Christopher Lee (behind Jessel) was the only big star.  He plays a college professor moonlighting as a witch.  In the tradition of the refined horror film, you don't actually see anything too gross or icky. 

You do get to see Satan-worshippers's robes catch on fire, which is pretty exciting.  Apparently the immortal witches can only be permanently killed by the shadow of a cross combined with the phrase spoken aloud: "I adjure thee, O creature of salt, by the living God!"  Of course, I Googled it and found the phrase in a description of Anglican ritual, specifically in the Blessing of the Water section.

I think the Rifftrax crew have gotten so much funnier since MST3K.  Their jokes aren't the obvious ones; they know how to surprise you. 

Another fan's reactions to the unriffed film:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--Urashima

Japanese Fairy Tales  By Teresa Peirce Williston has lots of color illustrations.  I'd like to tout the story Urashima.  It's a Japanese version of Rip Van Winkle.

Not from the book

Friday, March 06, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--Prince Hat Underground

This title caught my eye because I love hats.  The tale, as told starting on page 187 of the collection Swedish fairy tales. Translated by Tyra Engdahl and Jessie Rew., never explains why he is Prince Hat.  Does he favor hats over crowns?  Is his head particularly important?

Another interesting element is the "singing leaves," which the good daughter (pictured above) asks her father to bring her.  Of course, her request for this weird gift gets her away from her father into the realm of Prince Hat Underground.  She has to live with him without seeing him, but (as in the story of Cupid and Psyche) she sneaks a look at him while he's sleeping, which makes him leave.  Then she has to go through a lot of rigamarole to get him back.

It's a very long, complicated story with many motifs.