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For so many Star Wars fans, Heir To The Empire represents the Episode VII they grew up with. To many more, it represents the sequel they never saw on the screen. But now they can! And you can, too!
To me, there is nothing like Fall. The temperature is near perfect, prime sweatshirt weather, the changing leaves, apple cider, etc. I could go on, but I want to focus on what makes Fall special: Halloween. Some people like to binge Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, or even the Saw franchise. Me personally, I watch the old black and white horror movies. One that is on my favorites list is 1931’s Frankenstein. Frankenstein (the book) has been around for 202 years. For two centuries people have known the story of Victor Frankenstein and what happens when he decided to play God. However, what is interesting, and at times odd, is the forms it has had in all sorts of media
Let’s go to the year 1818. In this year Mary Shelly published the book Frankenstein. Some critics loved the book, and others hated it, calling the author (who they assumed was male) a “mad man” and “not as mad as the main character”. Jump ahead a couple years, 1823 to be exact, and there is already a musical about it. Seriously! A man by the name of H.M. Milner beat the 2009 musical by 186 years! Called The Demon of Switzerland, the musical portrays Victor not as a university student, but as a doctor who is already quite accomplished and wants to make further medical discoveries.
As times changed and evolved, so did the Monster. On March 18th, 1910 the very first Frankenstein movie was shown called Frankenstein. It was a silent film and was only fifteen minutes long. The next big movie of Frankenstein would be in 1931 with Universal’s Frankenstein with Boris Karloff as the Monster. What this movie did was something we always associate with Frankenstein nowadays. The famous bolt of lightning that brought the Monster to life? That started here, since the book never says HOW Victor brought the Monster to life. Igor also started in this film. In the book, Victor was a recluse while making the Monster. After this movie, it got a sequel called The Bride of Frankenstein. Eventually, some of the Frankenstein movies got absurd. There is a 1966 movie called Jesse James meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. I am not even joking. It is pitched as: “Roaring Guns Against a Roaring Monster”.
Now, the big screen isn’t the only place Frankenstein thrived. Frankenstein’s Monster, or Frankenstein like Monsters have been in shows like: The Addams Family, The Munsters, X-Files, Once Upon a Time. Even comedians Bud Abbot and Lou Costello, they did the Who’s on First skit, had a run in with the Monster. Frankenstein and his Monster was still apparent in theaters with films like Young Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
There are some depictions of Frankenstein and his Monster that have been…unique to say the least. There have been several X Rated Frankenstein movies. I will not go into more detail, (this is ALL ages of geeks after all) however, if it could not get weirder, it does. A director for one of these movies was Andy Worhal. Yes, the painter Andy Worhal made an X rated Frankenstein movie.
A more innocent version of Frankenstein also exists. Hana-Barbara made a Frankenstein cartoon called Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles. In this version Frankenstein (the Monster) was a robot that would fight supervillains. There is also the times it has appeared in Scooby-Doo several times, since it (Frankenstein) is public domain. There is also the Frankenberry cereal that comes out around October every year. Then there’s the Monster High dolls which has a Frankenstein teen girl, named Frankie Stein, as one of the characters. Then there’s the live action and stop motion versions of Frankenweenie, where a boy reanimates his dog. Frankenstein has also become a pop culture icon with action figures, models, video games, comics, stamps, been on the cover of the 89th issue of MAD, and has even been available in Lego form.
In closing, I think there is a reason people have been fascinated with Frankenstein for so long. We like the idea of reanimating the dead and the story, for some reason, has stuck with people for so long. Who knew we’d get all of this from a story made in 1818?
When it comes to horror, the dead never seem to rest. The same goes for the genre’s king.
Only a few months after the release of his last collection of novellas, Stephen King has announced his next novel, titled Later. A statement via Entertainment Weekly revealed the book will follow Jamie Conklin, a boy with unusual abilities who will need to pay a “terrible price” if he wants to help his single mother and her police detective lover.
“I love the Hard Case format, and this story — combining a boy who sees beyond our world and strong elements of crime and suspense — seemed a perfect fit,” King said in the statement.
King shared the novel’s cover art, depicting a stylized scene that could be pulled right out of an old box of ‘50s pulp, on Twitter with the caption “Next year. March.”
He might be pegged as a horror writer, but King has shown that he’s not restricted by the label. Fans of the macabre itching for a fix have no need worry, though — horror elements are certainly incorporated into Later.
“It’s terrifying, tender, heartbreaking and honest, and we’re so excited to bring it to readers,” said Charles Adai, editor of Hard Case Crime.
The novel will be King’s third with the publisher, the first two being The Colorado Kid and Joyland.
Those looking for an exclusively frightful experience will soon be catered to as well — Later’s reveal came at the same time as fresh details on the new film adaptation of King’s novel Firestarter.
The film’s director Keith Thomas, who also directed The Vigil, sat down with Zavvi to give a window into the Blumhouse project.
“It has everything you would want, people’s heads catching fire and their faces melting off, and a dad and daughter on the run trying to survive being chased in this heightened tense experience,” Thomas said. “We are hoping to film it this year, and it will be a lot of fun.”
Thomas said Firestarter’s screenplay is by Halloween Kills writer Scott Teems. Though the Halloween film has been delayed until next year and has not yet been able to exhibit Teem’s latest writing efforts, fans can rest easy knowing King himself is pumped for the project.
“He watched The Vigil, approved me as director and he read the script from the early stages, and he’s very happy with it,” Thomas said. “He’s excited for it, he’s there the whole way.”
I’d like to report a case of MacGuffin abuse.
Perpetrator: Cassandra Clare
Locale: Chain of Gold, Book One of The Last Hours
In her most recent addition to the Shadowhunter Chronicles, Chain of Gold, Cassandra Clare rode one literary device to ‘til it died: the MacGuffin.
MacGuffins, named by film great Alfred Hitchcock, are plot devices that propel the story forward. Frequently, it is an object or person the protagonists must track down. There’s nothing wrong with having these combined with seemingly insurmountable obstacles drive a plot. When the protagonist overcomes them at the end, it’s enjoyable for everyone. But having a plot that simply consists of a series of easily achievable MacGuffins is not only unenjoyable for readers, its sloppy writing.
For 582 pages, readers follow Cordelia Carstairs, James and Lucie Herondale, and an assortment of their friends, family, and acquaintances through a series of dangerous, romantic encounters with demons, ghosts, and Edwardian fashion challenges. As is typical of coming-of-age stories, the characters grapple with who they really are and how to continue being themselves as they enter romantic relationships. Over this lengthy story, Clare works to keep it moving ever forward.
There are a lot of things Cassandra Clare does well—that’s why I’m a fan and have read most of her work. She’s a propulsive writer, and she keeps up the demanding pace of story telling over 700 page novels regularly by employing things like MacGuffins. But there was something about the use of the plot device in Chain of Gold that was too overt. When readers begin to be aware of the structure of that plot, it interrupts the immersive nature of story-telling and reading.
The story starts off well enough, with two events planned that logically bring characters from different worlds together. But soon after it devolves into a sequence of secretive missions characters must undertake. Get a demon-trapping box. Get a secret ingredient for an antidote. Over and over, characters sneak into buildings and events they shouldn’t be at and meet with people they shouldn’t see. At nearly 600 pages, this becomes repetitive and lacking in surprise. With the characters hitting few dead ends and almost assured of victory, the propulsive quality wavers. Perhaps tighter editing would have scrapped one or two or these missions and made for a shorter story with higher stakes throughout.
But aside from these petty structural complaints, Chain of Gold delivers, tapping into the atmosphere of the Infernal Devices and the camaraderie of The Mortal Instruments. At this point, it’s no doubt that Clare’s work will be home runs among fantasy and YA fans, and the upcoming Chain of Iron and Chain of Thorns no doubt will be the same. For fans of Clare’s, this is a must read, diving back into the historical period of the broader series and getting to know new Carstairs, Lightwoods, and Herodales as they fight their own demons—internal and otherworldly.
This is probably an article I never thought I’d write given I’ve been launching articles in a never ending barrage, but in late May, I put out my last article and spent the entire month of June on break from article writing. I went from having a lot of ideas to write, to having too many ideas, only for it to culminate into an accidental burn out. Have you ever seen the meme of Patrick where he has a burnt hole in the back of his head after “Chum is Fum” and “Fum is Chum”? That was basically me in a nutshell. Now I do have a bunch of ideas in the woodworks, but I need to slow it down by a lot so this doesn’t happen again.
But for some people who don’t know what writer’s block is, I’ll explain.
If you’ve done an essay of some kind in school whether it be for class as a standard essay, had to do an essay on the fly on a test, or had to work on a 3-5 page essay project and you got suddenly stuck, that’s writer’s block. It’s when you know what you want to write, but you don’t know how to write it. Similar to me, I knew what to write, but I really didn’t know, since I had too many ideas. As of this article, there’s about five or six unfinished projects I’m working on, one that has been in the works since last month. And I know that there’s probably gonna be people who are gonna say that I should’ve taken a break after finishing up the Console Wars article series, and I’ll admit, I probably should’ve taken that break. Having writer’s block isn’t the most fun thing in the world, especially when you have to have ideas on what to write on within a weekly basis. While all my focus was on Console Wars from the end of January to around the beginning of May when it ended, I noticed that I was having trouble doing other articles that I would normally focus on, since I usually tend to do articles that are a bit different than the norm. And after I did my most recent article, my brain completely shut down. I had and still have no idea what to write, what article to start with and which ones to finish, and unfortunately while it’s a good thing to have a lot of ideas, it can also be a bad thing because you don’t know where to start and which idea to write about. While I’m glad I had a bunch of ideas to write about, having too many ideas unfortunately crippled me to the point where I pretty much ended up having an existential crisis.
Being burnt out as well, isn’t a good feeling either. We’ve all been through that moment where we worked really hard, and we need that break but we keep pushing ourselves to do more. This eventually leads to growing tired of working and taking time off to recuperate after a long amount of time of working, or working intensely on a consistent basis. I’ve always been someone who loves to work even if it’s for free. It’s a character trait I developed from my dad who keeps on working no matter what because he loves to work. But unfortunately I developed the similar habit he has. When we get burnt out, it gets so bad, it leads to quitting. I luckily broke out of this habit after only one job back in January, granted it was a job I wasn’t fond of after only two weeks, and the burn out was a whole lot faster, and a lot more uglier. But having writer’s block and being burnt out while having the urge to write at the same time, is like downing a bottle of Adderall while drinking a bottle of Jack, it’s gonna get super ugly when you crash, and the hangover is going to be hospital inducing.
I’m glad I stopped and took a break when I did, because I pretty much turned into a runaway freight train and nearly collided with a wall which probably had the word “SELF-DESTRUCT” written all over it. This whole thing reminded me of when Kat reacted to Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared a few years ago and how she brought up how being too creative could make you go insane. Looking back at it, I pretty much did go insane given after Console Wars, I was about to drill myself head first into a brick wall with little time to figure things out, resulting in pressing my luck only to get a double whammy. That’s an old TV Game Show reference if no one gets it, 10 bucks to the first person who does get it.
I don’t really have any advice on how to prevent burn out and writer’s block, other than saying that it’s okay to take a break. And this isn’t just for the AAOG writers, this is for everyone who’s dealing with a gap with no bridge or an obstacle that’s hard to get over. That includes the guest writers, fan fiction writers, people writing books, comics, content creators, musicians, artists, even the people who are working on an essay project. It’s alright to take a break every once in a while when you feel that your brain can’t take it anymore and you feel the need to give up. We’re humans at the end of the day, not robots who can keep going without rest. But even robots need to rest before they start falling apart. You’d never want to overexert yourself to the point where you don’t love your passion anymore, because when it gets to that point, it’s gonna be a lot harder to recover from a burn out or even writer’s block.
Stay safe, and take care of yourselves.