Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cosmic Horror Returns to the Bay of L.A.: Tickets Now Available for the 2012 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival Los Angeles

Original Festival and Poster Art by Nicholas Collins
September is the Burning Season in Los Angeles.

Rain is a memory. Everything shunned by irrigation and the army of imported gardeners stumbles, dries, and dies. The heat is such that residents are reminded that the marine layer has its limits and we are, indeed, subject to the ravages of an American summer that seems to get hotter every year.

Then the flames come, down from the high country, chewing up hillsides and turning palm tress into 50 foot birthday candles; taking back what we think we own and digesting into the sandy dust that is as old as the stars that birthed it.

Yes indeed, September is the perfect time to run from the city and suburb and head to the ocean, where the air is still clean and the waves still remember our long ago march from the reef. Come September, we'll all gather by the sea, where we'll be safe. Right?

Not exactly...

September in L.A. also means madness filtering down from the incomprehensible void beyond space and time, as the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival Los Angeles turns quiet, quirky downtown San Pedro into a garrison of cosmic horrors our feeble minds are unable to process. Yes, true believers, the festival is back, and bigger than ever. Kicking off September 28th, the HPL FF LA 2012 provides a safe haven for Lovecraftians from far and wide to gather at the edge of the continent to beat hideous drums, watch features and shorts, engage in a Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast, listen to author readings and panel discussions, shop, congregate, debate, Q&A, eat, drink, and be merry - all while wearing a fez.

This is year three of the festival's move south to Los Angeles, and the gala keeps growing. Attendance nearly doubled last year, and is expected to take a huge leap forward again in 2012 (please see reports from festivals of years past here and here).
I will provide more details as we grind towards September's end, but for now, check out the conveniently hyperlinked-up press release below, and purchase your passes now via Brown Paper Tickets before they become scarce.
The Grand ol' Warner:  Deco to Die For - photo by Fez-o-rama's head monger Jason Rodgers
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival® - Los Angeles

September 28 and 29, 2012

NOTE: Although this is "Carmageddon II", and the 405 freeway will be closed between the 10 and 101, the 110 and 105 will be open, and the festival will continue. Don't be afraid of the freeways!

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival® promotes the works of famed American science fiction and horror author H.P. Lovecraft through motion pictures by both professionals and amateurs, current and classic, national and international. The festival was founded in 1995 by Andrew Migliore in Portland Oregon to promote and encourage film and television adaptations of Lovecraft's great works and other, similar weird tale writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, M.R. James and Robert E. Howard.

This is the third year the HPLFF-LA® has played at the classic art deco Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, California.

The HPLFF-LA® is partnered with the Grand Vision Foundation, a nonprofit volunteer-run 501(c)(3) organization.

Grand Vision's mission is to preserve and promote the historic Warner Grand Theatre and foster artistic, cultural and educational activities in the Theatre and the Harbor/South Bay area of Los Angeles.

We are sponsored by the San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District (PBID).

Tickets purchased here are cheaper than at the door.


5pm to 7pm - Join us for dinner at the nearby Whale & Ale, a Victorian-era themed English pub.

Reservations must be made directly with the Whale & Ale here or on their Facebook page.

The are offering us a special discounted meal (salad, choice of entree, dessert) for fest-goers at $21 per person, tax included or, for $17, choose any two entrees off the menu.

Make your reservations directly with the Whale & Ale for Sept. 28, between 5 and 7pm.

11:15pm to 1am - A post-festival party as the Whale & Ale bring us a happy hour menu and prices: $4 English tap beers, house wines, cocktails & a special Happy Hour food menu.


Noon to 4 pm - Brunch 'n Fun at the nearby Grand Vision Annex. Enjoy a delicious catered breakfast from Happy Diner along with indie Lovecraftian games (card, board, and video), spooky author readings, story time, digital art show and the inimitable Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast led by Cody Goodfellow.


Admission includes food but not alcoholic drinks. Cash bar for 21+, bring photo ID.

11:30 pm to 2am - Post-fest party at the Grand Vision Annex. Cash bar
Theater Schedule

Friday (September 28) - doors open at 7pm

Macabre Fantasy Radio Theater will present a live audio drama of The Statement of Randolph Carter.

Films announced soon!

Saturday (September 29) - doors open at 4pm

The Real Ghostbusters episode "The Collect Call of Cathulhu" - Written by Michael Reaves and originally aired in 1987, this is the first introduction of Cthulhu to the small screen, and a classic, landmark episode.
The Ghostbusters must track down a stolen copy of the Necronomicon. Many inside references mentioned in the dialogue for the HPL fans.
Winston - "Cathulhu? I heard of him. He's bad, right?"
Egon - "He makes Gozer look like Little Mary Sunshine."

South Park: The Coon Trilogy - uncut and uncensored, the kids take on Great Cthulhu himself after he was summoned from BP drilling on the moon.

Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated: Season 1 episode "The Shrieking Madness" -- Following the break-up of Mystery Inc., the gang decides to move on with their lives by touring a nearby university, but they are forced to delay their plans when the campus is terrorized by a mysterious creature known as Char Gar Gothakon, whose screams can destroy anything in its path. With the voices of Jeffrey Combs as "H.P. Hatecraft" and Harlan Ellison as Himself.

Short Subjects: the latest and best independent shorts from around the world

Doctor Glamour by Andrew W. Jones

more films announced later!


Our special guest for 2012 is Michael Reaves, a writer known for scripting series such as Batman: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Twilight Zone. An anthology he co-edited with John Pelan, Shadows Over Baker Street, features Sherlock Holmes stories set in the world of Lovecraft.

Mr. Reaves will receive the Howie Award for his contributions to Lovecraft cinema, penning the classic 1987 episode of The Real Ghostbusters entitled "The Collect Call of Cathulhu", the first time Cthulhu appeared on television.

Cody Goodfellow
Denise Dumars
T. E. Grau
Michael Tice
Bryan Thao Worra

Badali Jewelry Specialties
The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
more on the way!

Visitors can stay at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (three blocks from the Warner Grand in the historic district of San Pedro) at a discount. Use code HPL when booking online (discount only good until 8/28).
This festival is presented courtesy of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival® and Lurker Films (www.lurkerfilms.com).
This is one of the few times in Southern California when fans of cosmic horror and the Weird can come together, drink beer and wine from large paper cups in a movie theater, and just soak in two full days of Lovecraftiana. It shouldn't be missed. It CANNOT be missed. Come down to the bay and dream with us squids, won't you?
The Man Under the Hat Behind the L.A. Fest - Aaron Vanek

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taking Vamps Back to the Old School: 'In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide' by Steven P. Unger

Remember when vampires were cool?  Menacing?  Legitimately sexy to anyone other than a 14 year old girl?

I don't really either.  The long, proud, once horrifying legacy of accursed bloodsuckery has been sadly tainted nearly beyond repair by CGI glitter and slouching faux teenagers.  What a thousand years made, three sequels have almost surely destroyed.
The 21st Century:  Wussing up horror for twelve years and running
I used "nearly" and "almost," as vampires are indeed immortal, and will live on, one way or another, until the end of time.  And while their street cred has been damaged, the root of the vampire remains unchanged, as long as there are those who recall and champion what made vampires the terror of the Eastern Hemispehere for centuries, chilling blood at the very mention of these monstrous creatures who are more apt to suck you dry and/or rend you in two than take you shopping at the local teen mall.  Although manually rending asunder a cow eyed fanperson at the local teen mall does sound quite wonderful...
Ah, to be wizened enough to remember when vampires were scary as shit and wanted to eat you, not mope you to death
So, if you're like me, and a fan of the Old School (and often Old World) when it comes to creatures of the night - or creatures of any time of the day, really - as well as a geography dork/history buff, do yourself a goddamn favor and check out In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide, written by Steven P. Unger, which is a fascinating, exhaustive exploration of the real roots of Count Dracula and the overarching vampire mystique.  This is history told on the ground, through travel, research, and first hand exploration.  Living, breathing history of those that no longer do, nor never did.  This is the past told the right way.
Bran Castle - The Carpathians ain't no Disneyland, son.
The official press release - which does a much better job than I ever could explaining the book's attributes and accolades - is provided below:

My book, In the Footsteps of Dracula:  A Personal Journey and Travel Guide, is published and distributed by World Audience Publishers. (http://worldaudience.powweb.com/pubs_bks/Dracula.html).

Photoarticles describing my book have been published in the online magazine Romar Traveler at http://www.romartraveler.com/ROMAR07/Romar07Pages/Europe/DRACULA.html; Patricia's Vampire Notes at http://patricias-vampire-notes.blogspot.com/2010/09/steve-unger-guest-blog-and-contest.html; and in The Copperfield Review at http://www.copperfieldreview.com/interviews/unger.htm, among many other sites.  In September 2011, In the Footsteps of Dracula was ranked 5th in a survey of the World's Best Romania & Moldova Travel Guides (http://www.flaier.net/c/The_Best_Romania_Moldova_Travel_Guides), ahead of Lonely Planet Romania (ranked 7th) and National Geographic Traveler: Romania (ranked 12th).

Comprising approximately 30,000 words and 185 photographs, In the Footsteps of Dracula is the first and only book to include:

*   For the armchair traveler, pictures and descriptions, in memoir form, of every site in England and Romania that is closely related to either Bram Stoker's fictional Count Dracula or his historical counterpart, Prince Vlad Dracula the Impaler.

* A thorough history based on original research and face-to-face interviews with experts—such as the Man in Black of Whitby, England—of how the novel Dracula came into being, and almost never happened.

* The true life story of Vlad the Impaler, connecting his lineage for the first time in print to the Brotherhood of the Wolf, which had already survived for two thousand years when Prince Vlad was born in 1431.

*  For the independent traveler who would leave his armchair for the Great Unknown, a Practical Guide to the Dracula Trail, including a complete Sample Itinerary with recommendations for lodging and detailed instructions on traveling to each British or Romanian Dracula-related town or site—at a small fraction of the cost of Western European-only travel.  Also in the Practical Guide are sections on money; recommended reading; modes of transportation; security and health; internet access, shopping, and cable TV; and alternatives to independent travel.

Between January 2010, when the 1st Edition of In the Footsteps of Dracula:  A Personal Journey and Travel Guide was published, and December of that year, almost 100 related reviews and articles appeared in print and online.

Ranging from horror fanzines to scholarly journals, and originating from locations throughout the United States to countries as disparate as England, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, and South Africa, the reviews of In the Footsteps of Dracula:  A Personal Journey and Travel Guide were not only overwhelmingly positive, but cried out for more back-story, travel guide updates, and even deeper insight into the mind of Bram Stoker and the influences and inspirations that drove him to write his undying Gothic novel, Dracula.

In response, the 2nd Edition of In the Footsteps of Dracula:  A Personal Journey and Travel Guide was released on December 21, 2010.  The 2nd Edition, available now as a paperback and e-book from its dedicated World Audience Web page well as from www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.de, and www.amazon.com/Kindle), includes:

     -- References, Web Links, and Costs Updated to December 2010;
     -- The First Review of Dracula Ever Written, Published in the Manchester Guardian on June 15, 1897;
     -- A New Section on Bram Stoker's Dublin;
     -- A Rare Photo of a Wolf-Dragon, the Original Source of the Name "Dracula," Carved Within the Ruins of a Prehistoric Dacian Temple in Transylvania; and much, much more!

In Flames Rising Dot Com (http://www.flamesrising.com/footsteps-of-dracula-review/), reviewer Jason Thorson wrote:

In the Footsteps of Dracula:  A Personal Journal and Travel Guide (Second Edition) is exactly what the title implies it is.  But what the title doesn't imply is how rich this book is with information.  It really is stunning.  Steven P. Unger deserves high praise for the mere existence of his opus; but moreover, the book is well written and provides the ultimate tome of Dracula data for classic horror fans.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a more entertaining nonfiction read.

Book Title:  In the Footsteps of Dracula:  A Personal Journey and Travel Guide
Author:  Steven P. Unger
Publisher:  World Audience, Inc.
ISBN:  978-1-935444-53-4
Publication Date:  December 2010
Price:  $20.00; 258 pages with 185 black-and-white photos

Distributors:  US: Ingram (www.ingrambook.com), Amazon.com (www.amazon.com), Baker & Taylor (www.btol.com), Barnes & Noble (www.barnesandnoble.com), NACSCORP (www.nacscorp.com); UK: Amazon.co.uk (retailer, www.amazon.uk), Bertrams (wholesaler,www.betrams.com, Blackwell (library supplier, www.blackwell.com/library_services), Book Depository (Amazon Marketplace, www.bookdepository.co.uk), Coutts (library supplier,www.couttsinfo.com), Dawson (library supplier, www.dawson.co.uk), Gardners (wholesaler,www.gardners.com), Mallory International (wholesaler, www.malloryint.co.uk), Paperback Bookshop (Amazon Marketplace, www.paperbackshop.co.uk).

For those of you in the New Orleans area this weekend, or keen for some last minute travel to one of America's truly great Gothic outposts, Steven will be signing In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide Sunday, July 15 at the Boutique du Vampyre (the "original New Orleans Vampires Store" - ain't competition a bitch?) at 3:00 pm, as part of the A Midsummer Nightmare Festival, which kicks off today in one of my favorite cities in this world or any other.