Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Der Nebula von Notre Dame

VIDEO WATCHDOG contributor Kim Newman and I are both honored to have work included in the newly published NEBULA AWARDS SHOWCASE 2009 (ROC, $16 US/$20 Canada), edited by Ellen Datlow.

Kim's contribution is an appreciation of author Michael Moorcock, the recipient of the 2009 Damon Knight Grand Master Award. (The book also includes Moorcock's story "The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius," from his recent collection THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE.) My contribution is an essay about Guillermo del Toro's PAN'S LABYRINTH, the screenplay for which won a Nebula Award.

Kim, widely anthologized, must be used to this sort of thing, but it was a great kick for me to see my name highlighted on the back cover among the likes of Moorcock (a longtime hero), Barry N. Malzberg, Joe R. Lansdale, Jane Yolen, Michael Chabon and the illustrious Kim, among others. I thank Ellen Datlow for inviting me to work in such august company.

Go to your favorite bookstore now and buy it.

I also want to take a moment to recommend another new arrival. The German DVD company Anolis has followed their deluxe edition of Mario Bava's BLUTIGE SEIDE (BLOOD AND BLACK LACE) with an even more lavish presentation of DER VAMPIRE VON NOTRE DAME (I VAMPIRI). Unlike the domestic Image Entertainment release, which included the Italian version only, Anolis adds on the German version (which runs 4m longer than the Italian version, which was cut to appease the censor board) and also THE DEVIL'S COMMANDMENT, the US version containing additional exploitation footage.

Further sweetening the deal is a delightful, hour-long documentary, C'EST LA VIE, interviewing the great Swiss character actor Paul Muller, now 85 and living on a healthy pension somewhere near Rome. The program covers Muller's early life, early work in theater, and the films that preceded I VAMPIRI, then actually shows Muller reacting to scenes from the film, and wraps up with some generous comments about working with Jess Franco and Soledad Miranda on EUGENIE DE SADE. I am not sure I've ever seen Muller crack a smile onscreen, at least not a genuinely happy one, so it was a great pleasure to discover him to be such a charming, chuckling pixie offscreen. He's a very sharp 85, too, with valuable and unfaded memories of his long career.

Also included are trailers, still and poster galleries, and an interesting attempt to reconstruct the pre-credits sequence originally envisioned by Riccardo Freda, which was changed when he was replaced by Mario Bava in a rescue effort that required a rewriting of the narrative. English subtitles are provided, even for the Muller documentary, but these do not extend to Christian Kessler's German-language audio commentary. I'll be covering this important release in more detail in a future issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG.

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