Archive for April, 2009

Georgios Themelis: The Naked Window

April 22, 2009

abandoned-house




I’ve often thought of leaving this house of the dead;

of simply going and living upon the sea,

for shadows and forgotten voices reside here;

misshapen dolls that ascend and descend the stairs.

The naked window opens out onto the night;

the panes have all fallen – bits of glass in the dust.

I remain here, struggling to find my shadow;

a ragged remnant of an old forgotten sun.



The Naked Window

by Georgios Themelis (1900-1976)

Translation © R J Dent (2009)


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Walkabout

April 16, 2009

Walkabout

One of my all-time favourite films is Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout (1971). It stars Jenny Agutter, Lucien Roeg and David Gulpilil and it is loosely based on Edward Bond’s free adaptation of James Vance Marshall’s novel, The Children.


walkabout - jvm


It’s a poignant, deeply moving, profound, beautifully-filmed, well-acted film classic.

Here’s the trailer for it:

Plot synopsis (includes spoilers): A teenage girl (Agutter) and her younger brother (Roeg) are left to fend for themselves in the Australian outback after their father drives them out there in his car for a picnic, and then kills himself. The children do their best to survive, but they are ill-equipped for the harshness of the outback. An aborigine boy (Gulpilil) gives them some help, leads them to a deserted house, where, after a ceremonial dance, he hangs himself. The boy and the girl follow the road to an abandoned mine, where a solitary employee tells them which way they need to go to find civilisation. The film ends a few years later with the girl, now a woman, thinking back to her outback idyll.


The mine scene is hauntingly beautiful and quite poignant, and the girl thinking back to her ordeal in a romanticised way is perfect.

The film ends with a quote from an A. E. Houseman poem:

Into my heart and air that kills

From yon far country blows;

What are those blue remembered hills,

What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,

I see it shining plain,

The happy highways where I went

And cannot come again.

There is now a very good Criterion Collection DVD of Walkabout available. It’s the best version of the film that there is.


walkabout (1)

If you haven’t seen Walkabout yet – you should perhaps try it. If you’ve seen it already, you could try watching it again. It certainly won’t be wasted time.


www.rjdent.com


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As Old As You Fear by R J Dent

April 16, 2009

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Benjamin Cross was in pain.

          As he walked unsteadily along the pavement towards the surgery, Ben felt that he had been treated unfairly by life.

          He tried to remember a day during his sixty-four years when he hadn’t been suffering from something or other. He came up with a blank.

          Never! Not one single day of perfect physical or mental health!

          Because of this, Ben resented his constitution. He had been born with a strong body, but one that had slowly and steadily let him down. However, Ben felt that he himself was not in any way to blame for this. If he had been a religious man, he would have blamed God, but he wasn’t, so he didn’t.

          Instead, Ben had worked out an elaborate theory which involved a conspiracy in which the human race and nature conjoined to cause Ben constant illness.

          Every person was in some way responsible for Ben being ill. Drivers were responsible for his poor respiration. Food packagers – and sometimes manufacturers- were responsible for his clogged arteries. The water company was responsible for his thinning blood. Builders were responsible for his claustrophobia. Power companies were responsible for his deteriorating immune system. There were many more people to blame and Ben knew them all. Each one of them used nature in some way to poison him. They had been doing it from the day he was born.

          Seething from the indignity of being a victim of the world he was born into, Ben pushed a young woman aside as she blocked his way on the pavement. He walked on, ignoring her cry of protest.

          He reached the zebra-crossing and walked across. A car screeched to a halt. Read more…

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R J Dent says: ‘As Old As You Fear is a story about the perpetual conflict between and old and the young. It was inspired by Richard Hell’s Blank Generation. Each generation thinks it’s the best generation – and that all that came before it or after it is benighted, less sophisticated, less knowing. I hope I got some of that across in As Old As You Fear.’

As Old As You Fear

Copyright © R J Dent (2016)

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Lindos and Peacocks

April 15, 2009

Here’s a picture I thought I’d share with you – it’s of Lindos at night. Pretty, isn’t it?

lindos at night

 

And here’s another one that I really like – it’s at a Greek monastery – and yes, the birds in the trees are peacocks.

 

 

Photo (c) the R J Dent archive

Photo © the R J Dent archive

 

I can’t really sing the praises of Greece enough. I love it here. 

 

I hope you enjoy the photos.

 

 

 

www.rjdent.com

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Ramsey Campbell

April 15, 2009

 

Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell

 

 

 

Ramsey Campbell is one of the world’s greatest horror fiction writers.

Over the years he has written some truly scary stories.

 

His scariest novels are The Face That Must Die; Ancient Images; The Grin of the Dark; The Doll Who Ate His Mother; Midnight Sun and Hungry Moon.

 


 the-face-that-must-die

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His best story collections are Dark Feasts; Scared Stiff; Told by the Dead and Demons by Daylight.


d-by-d-rc 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Ramsey Campbell’s work, then Ancient Images is probably the best novel to start with, and Scared Stiff is probably the best story collection to start with.

 

Here’s a partial bibliography:

 

Novels

 

The Doll Who Ate His Mother (1976) (Revised text: 1985)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1977) (novelisation of the 1935 film, written as Carl Dreadstone)

Dracula’s Daughter (1977) (novelisation of the 1936 film, written as Carl Dreadstone)

The Wolf Man (1977) (novelisation of the 1941 film, written as Carl Dreadstone)

The Face That Must Die (1979) (Restored text: 1983)

To Wake the Dead (published in the UK as The Parasite) (1980)

(The Nameless (1981)

The Claw (1983) (written as Jay Ramsay)

Incarnate (1983)

Obsession (1985)

The Hungry Moon (1986)

The Influence (1988)

Ancient Images (1989)

Midnight Sun (1990)

Needing Ghosts (1990)

The Count of Eleven (1991)

The Long Lost (1993)

The One Safe Place (1995)

Nazareth Hill (AKA The House on Nazareth Hill (1996)

The Last Voice They Hear (1998)

Silent Children (2000)

Pact of the Fathers (2001)

The Darkest Part of the Woods (2003)

The Overnight (2004)

Secret Story (2005) (AKA Secret Stories)

The Grin of the Dark (2007)

Thieving Fear (2008)

Creatures of the Pool (2009)

 

ancient-images-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story Collections

 

The Inhabitant of the Lake (1964, as J. Ramsey Campbell)

Demons by Daylight (1973)

The Height of the Scream (1976)

Dark Companions (1982)

Cold Print (1985; expanded edition 1993)

Dark Feasts: The World of Ramsey Campbell (1987)

Scared Stiff: Tales of Sex and Death (1987)

Waking Nightmares (1991)

Alone with the Horrors (1993)

Strange Things and Stranger Places (1993)

Ghosts and Grisly Things (1998)

Told by the Dead (2003)

Inconsequential Tales (2008)

Just Behind You (2009)

 

scared-stiff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonfiction

 

Ramsey Campbell, Probably (2002)

 

In the world of horror fiction, where a lot of books seem very similar in terms of plot, themes, style and (no pun intended) execution, Ramsey Campbell tells original stories in an inventive way using a unique style.

 

He’s worth checking out. Try one of the above books. You never know, you might enjoy being scared senseless…

 

 

www.rjdent.com

 

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California Cliffs

April 12, 2009

One of the most beautiful places I’ve visited recently is California Cliffs.

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I’d been there before, many years ago, and I decided I’d revisit the place. It was spacious, wild, and hauntingly beautiful. It was very much as I remembered it.

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The cliffs are made of sandstone and are constantly being eroded away by the wind and the sea. However, it’s still very beautiful there.

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If you get a chance, go and visit California Cliffs – as I hope these photos show – it’s a very lovely place. 

 

www.rjdent.com

 

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Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel

April 12, 2009

 

I’ve always liked Steve Harley’s music – right from the first time I ever heard Sebastian, Death Trip and Ritz.

 

Steve Harley

Steve Harley

 

 

They are his three best songs; the songs with more poetry in them than most poetry. Lots of people enjoy Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) – rightly so, after all, it is a good song, but for me, the best Harley songs are:

the autobiographical Sebastian:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbP8XpQC5Us&feature=related

 

followed by the anthemic Death Trip:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfTSFArFDBw

 

followed by the chilling  Ritz:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOvE9Cecz8c

 

There are others: Tumbling Down, Cavaliers, etc, but the three featured here have secured Steve Harley a place in popular music’s history. They are, without doubt, very good, entertaining, meaningful, profound and thought-provoking, melodic songs. What more can one ask from music?

 

I hope you have enjoyed them.

 

(c) R J Dent (2009)

 

www.rjdent.com

 

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Mick Norman’s Hell’s Angels

April 2, 2009
Mick Norman (Laurence James)

Mick Norman (Laurence James)

During the 1970s Mick Norman (a pseudonym for Laurence James – 1942-2004) wrote a quartet of very good Hell’s Angels novels. The central character of all four novels is an ex-army NCO turned Hell’s Angel, Gerry Vinson.


The first novel in the series is Angels From Hell:


angelsfromhell


Angels from Hell charts Vinson’s successful challenge for the leadership of the Last Heroes. Vinson wins the fight and becomes president of the Last Heroes. He takes his band of Angels to Wales, where he affiliates them with The Wolves, a legendary Welsh Hell’s Angel chapter.


The second novel in the series is Angel Challenge.


angel challenge


Here’s the back cover blurb for Angel Challenge:

‘A year or so has passed since the apocalyptic ending of Angels from Hell. The government has fallen and a new freedom wafts through the streets. From their hideout in the mountains of Snowdonia, Gerry Vinson leads his chapter – the remnants of ‘The Last Heroes’ combined with ‘The Wolves’ – on a run South. Back to London. Back to a city ruled by a new Hell’s Angels’ chapter – ‘The Ghouls’ – and terrorised by gangs of teenagers who crop their hair and ape the manners of the ‘Skinheads’ of the sixties. Gerry knows that there can only be one winner. He also knows that the price of defeat is likely to be death.’


The third novel in the series is Guardian Angels.


guardian_angels


Here’s the back cover blurb for Guardian Angels:


‘A giant rock group tour is being planned, with top names from the United States, and security is the big problem with the promoters. How can they avoid the appalling violence from rioting fans, without jeopardising the lives of the security guards themselves? The Hell’s Angels seem the answer, and Gerry Vinson’s Last Heroes emerge from their Welsh retreat to do the honours. But the American groups have organised their own protection – an American chapter. The inevitable rivalry and ill-feeling is only averted when they are faced with a new threat – the satined and scented skulls.’


The final novel in the series is Angels on My Mind.


angelsonmymind


Here’s the back cover blurb for Angels on My Mind:


‘The Hell’s Angels are outsiders. They make up their own rules. They delight in perverting the ‘normal’ way of life and turn their backs on the rest of society. But for those who get in their way, and won’t let them have what they want, they have only one answer – violence. And even when the do-gooders step in to save lost souls, they find what goes on inside an ‘Angel’s’ head is too much. Stranger than fiction in fact. What started out as a crusade ends in death. The Angels swear revenge on those who betray them.’


These four Mick Norman novels – Angels from Hell, Angel Challenge, Guardian Angels and Angels on My Mind – were very successfully republished in an omnibus edition entitled Angels from Hell: The Angel Chronicles by Creation Books in 1994. The volume contained a very forthright and insightful introduction by Stewart Home.


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Here’s the back cover blurb for Angels from Hell:


‘The four books in Mick Norman’s notorious Angel Chronicles: Angels from Hell, Angel Challenge, Guardian Angels and Angels on my Mind, are here presented in a single compendium edition, making available these classics of wild youth culture for the first time in twenty years. The Angel Chronicles present a vision of a nightmare near-future which is even more chillingly relevant now than when they first appeared.


‘England, turn of the millennium. Government repression has driven the Hell’s Angels underground; yet they still exist. The final outlaws. From their hide-out in the mountains of Snowdonia, Gerry Vinson leads his chapter, the Last Heroes into battle. Apart from police and government manipulation, the Angels must contend with The Ghouls – a satin-jacketed yet sadistic rival chapter – as well as unscrupulous rock promoters who need them as cannon fodder against the emerging breed of razor-wielding teen rock fans and, above all, the deadly new threat from gangs of strutting, scented, ultra-violent mod-skinhead hybrids: the skulls.


‘The result is a brutal, mythopoeic odyssey of sex, drugs, madness, betrayal and violent death; the outsider aesthetic taken to its logical extremes.’


On a personal note, I enjoyed reading these four novels. They are well-written pulp fiction which – along with glam rock music – helped to define youth culture in the 70s.


There are a few copies of Mick Norman’s books still available. If you like Hell’s Angel fiction, why not give them a try? You might enjoy them.


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