Friday, March 13, 2020

Friday the 13th Greetings

I apologize for my absence here of late. I've been working on more audio commentaries, and I'm knuckling down to a particularly ambitious one now. But I thought I really should pop in to let you know about some new work I've generated elsewhere online. 

I was recently interviewed by the online arts journal THE CHISLER. You can read our conversation here.

Apparently it was well received by their readership and I've been encouraged to contribute more regularly. Still not decided on whether to approach this challenge as a column or as a series of independent posts, but I did test the waters over there with a first contribution about director Al Adamson, whose entire surviving body of work is going to be released in a staggering box set from Severin Films next month. You can read it here.

I was recently invited by Shane Hazen and Ted Haycraft to be a guest on their podcast THE PHI PHENOMENON. We recording our conversation last night, talking for about 90 minutes; they may be breaking up the session into two episodes. I'll let you know when I know it's been uploaded.

In other news, this is shaping up to be a remarkable year. I've been pursuing my fiction career of late with more determination and, last week, I signed a contract with Lori Perkins' Riverdale Avenue Books, which will be publishing two of my novels - THE ONLY CRIMINAL and THE ART WORLD - later this year. Legendary BATMAN artist Kelley Jones has promised me a piece of original art for THE ONLY CRIMINAL. Additionally, I hope to have an announcement soon about the publication of my most recent novel, a novelization of the film script THE MAN WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES.  

You may also recall that my novella THE SECRET LIFE OF LOVE SONGS is due out from PS Publishing later this year, and work has been continuing on the musical soundtrack intended to accompany the book. There will be five songs I've co-written with Dorothy Moskowitz Falarski (formerly with Columbia recording artists, The United States of America) and the songs will not only be graced with vocals and piano by Dorothy herself, but also by legendary guitarist Gary Lucas (Jeff Buckley, Captain Beefheart's Magic Band) and the fabulous multi-instrumentalist Mike Fornatale (Murderer's Row and the reunited Left Banke and Moby Grape). Gary just turned in his tracks, and we're still waiting for one from Mike. It's been a long, slow process but it's exciting to see and hear it all coming together. We're just about at the mixing stage.

Other than that, I've been reading lately much more than watching films. I got through WAR AND PEACE finally, with great admiration for it, and I've been reading a good deal of French pulp and literature, some SHADOW, some DOC SAVAGE, and Edgar Wallace's THE DEVIL MAN - far and away, the best work I've yet read by him. Just finished DEATH PACKS A SUITCASE, the debut novel by his son Bryan Edgar Wallace, who I found to be a far more lucid and vibrant writer though the novel ultimately succumbs to a too hasty final couple of chapters. A great deal at stake is written off rather glibly, but I was still impressed by his skill at writing character - fairly dimensional women as well as men, even if they are prone to throwing tantrums and committing murder. I also recently got around to reading Black Coat Press' THE DAUGHTER OF FANTOMAS, which I should write about here soon at some point, as I've covered the previous ones in the series on this blog. By an absolute coincidence, I picked this book up on what this blog later reminded me was the second anniversary of finishing its predecessor, SLIPPERY AS SIN. 

(c) 2020 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Return of THE WHITE SPIDER (1963)

Last night I decided to refresh my memory of THE WHITE SPIDER (Die Weisse Spinne, 1963), one of several adaptations of early pulp crime novelist Louis Weinert-Wilton (1875-1945) made in response to the success of Rialto’s popular Edgar Wallace franchise in West Germany. It may seem a flagrant intrusion given that the film's producers hired nearly all of Rialto’s star players (Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor, Werner Peters, etc), had Rialto’s star composer Peter Thomas score the film, and handed its reins to director Harald Reinl, who had initiated the Wallace series with its first few films - but in fact the two franchises were not in literal competition, both being manufactured for distribution through the same company, Constantin Film. All four of the Weinert-Wilton adaptations are now available on Blu-ray in Germany (alas, without English audio or subtitles), but I was able to find the English dubbed version of THE WHITE SPIDER (prepared for Canadian television) over at YouTube, where at least one other of the Weinert-Wiltons (SECRET OF THE BLACK WIDOW) is available in its English dub.

Halfway through THE WHITE SPIDER, I realized I was grooving on the atmosphere rather than following its story, but it wasn’t hard to catch up. Dor plays a destitute widow trying to claim her rightful inheritance after the apparent death of her husband, a gambling addict whose good luck talisman was a decorative white spider on his keychain, likenesses of which are turning up as signatures at various murder scenes, causing Scotland Yard to doubt his demise. The murderings by lasso were subsequently adopted by Rialto for their two Wallace MÖNCH ("Monk") movies (known here as THE MYSTERIOUS MAGICIAN and THE COLLEGE GIRL MURDERS). The fine cast shines somewhat less here than elsewhere, but this outing also boasts Horst Frank and SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES’ Dieter Eppler, who steals the picture as the titular criminal master of makeup, modeling various disguises à la Fantômas. It’s not as well produced as the Rialto Wallaces but it's fairly eventful even at its more generous running time (about 103 minutes) and still worth seeing. At several points, one realizes that Dario Argento’s greater influence was from films like this, rather than the works of Bava or Freda.

(c) 2020 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.