The Ingrid Pitt Files: Dr. Zhivago


Okay, this week we’re gonna talk about one of the movies I was dreading watching for this series, MGM’S 1965 epic, Dr. Zhivago.

Why would I dread watching this movie? It’s a classic! Celebrated by generations of movie goers!

Yeah, thing is, I don’t really like good movies. I mean sometimes I’ll enjoy one of them, but in general, the more a film “explores the human experience” the less I care. I’m living the human experience. I don’t need to watch someone on screen going through all the bad shit I just went through.

I want Peter Cushing.   And dead people. And Peter Cushing. And old houses with secrets that involve dead people. And those old houses with secrets and dead people need to involve Peter Cushing. A young, super hot John Carradine is also acceptable.

Stage Coach 1

What makes it even worse for me is that this movie is touted as one of the greatest love stories ever written.

Sweet Jayzus I hate love stories! I have an extremely low opinion of love and the role it plays in society so these movies never move me.   They usually end up annoying me more than anything.

So I’m in for a three-hour love story that movie snobs tell me is a work of art. Ingrid is an extra so I may not even find her and Peter Cushing isn’t in it.

*head hits desk*

BUT I CAN DO THIS!   So I settled myself in and did it.


In all honesty, it took me about four and a half hours to get through because I kept pausing it and wandering off.

But I didn’t have as much trouble as I thought I would. This is 1000% not my type of movie. It is never in a hurry, which I found annoying. It’s a MOTION picture (to borrow an MST3K joke) and paintings exist if I feel the need to just sit and stare at pretty things. I also feel like it would have been better as a miniseries. There were too many characters and plotlines to follow (for a movie called Dr. Zhivago, I’m not convinced we see enough of him to justify the title) that it made the movie feel unwieldy, like there was no through line in the plot. Some people are okay with that. I prefer to have a point to the story I’m watching.


My personal, and quite sick, fascination with World War I buoyed me through the first part, and I was quite pleased that the love story wasn’t actually that big of a deal in the grand scheme of the movie. It also helped a great deal that the love triangle didn’t end up in acrimonious destruction for all involved. There was a marvelous, and I think quite Russian, pragmatism to the whole thing and I liked the fact that the idea was that the heart is big enough for more than one kind of love. For my part, I think Zhivago loved both Lara and Tonya, just not in the same way.

It helped that no one in this movie, besides Strelnikov, is really a jerk. Zhivago, Lara, Tonya and even Yevgraf are all good people just trying to make it in a bad situation. You don’t come to hate any of them, again except Strelnikov who is a straw man for the Bolsheviks in this case.

That brings me to one of the things I actually was really impressed with in this movie. Dr. Zhivago really is a war movie, but without all the war movie trappings we now associate with war movies. It made you understand the cost of war without beating you over the head with an emotional cudgel and making you look at concentration camps and people dying in the mud.


And the performances all around were top notch. I did have a little trouble with Omar Sharif. He was a good enough actor, and I really liked the vulnerability he displayed, but there was a misfire with the make up. Apparently they tried to make his eyes wider so he didn’t look so Egyptian, which totally explains the big-eyed anime child vibe I was getting off him the whole movie. I also really liked Tom Courtenay as Strelnikov. That dude was scary.

I read that Ingrid had five separate roles in the movie, all of them bit parts. I never saw her once. But I did see a welcome face.


That’s Adrienne Corri on the right. You can barely see her, but it’s the only picture of her in the movie I could find.

Of course, there are, like, a BAJILLION people in this movie so you’re bound to recognize everyone anyway.

Anyway, I watched it.   There we go. Peace out.



The Ingrid Pitt Files: The Mammoth Book Of Vampire Stories By Women


We’re doing something a little different with The Ingrid Pitt Files today. We’re reviewing a book!

I’m sure anyone reading this knows that Ingrid Pitt was a writer as well as an actress. If you’ve ever been to you’ve seen the metric ton of blog posts she wrote in addition to links to the books she had a hand in.

When I started doing The Ingrid Pitt Files, I remembered that I had bought a book ages ago that she’d been part of. I hadn’t read it yet, so I decided to dig it out and give it a go.


The Mammoth Book Of Vampire Stories By Women was edited by Stephen Jones. The edition I have was released by Running Press in 2007.   There are other editions out there and they probably aren’t that different, but when it comes to books, I’m not enough of a minutia freak to look all that up.

This edition is just over 600 pages and has 34 stories in it (they said mammoth book, right?). These stories are largely reprints and to any regular reader of vampire short fiction a bunch of these will be familiar. Just about all the authors should be known to that crowd as well. For someone who doesn’t have much knowledge about this area of literature, this book is a good primer. There’s a lot of variety in it and it will introduce you to many famous characters in the sub-genre.

The thing is, the sheer volume of stories makes the book extremely hit or miss, but does give you the opportunity to feel things out and see whom you’d like to keep reading.

The editor tried very hard to include many different visions of vampires, rather than the simple fangs-in-throat variety. My personal annoyance with this, inside and outside of this collection, is that whether or not we have the biting of heaving bosoms, everything still seems to come down to sex. For my money, a FABULOUS way to turn vampire tropes on their head would be to make them not about sex but no one seems to have figured out how.

There’s some good stuff in here. Elizabeth Hand’s “Prince of Flowers” is a wonderful story that works in some Southeast Asian folk horror.   It’s about a woman who works in a museum taking inventory of the artifacts in storage and finds a doll that she’s inexplicably drawn to. Things go downhill from there. Think Richard Matheson’s “Prey” only weirder and bloodier. And with more plants.

“Year Zero” by Gemma Files hit my buttons in a couple ways, being a period vampire story with unconventional vampires. The story takes place during the French Revolution and follows Jean-Guy Sansterre, a former slave turned Republican who has to deal with the aftermath of a brutal assault while hunting his attacker and navigating the vicious politics of a revolution in full-on, paranoid implosion. The story deals very deftly with themes of class, race, slavery and humanity’s inability to not freaking kill each other. But you have to pay attention when you read this story and go slowly. I had trouble keeping things straight in my head and I was a bit confused about the ending, though I still found it upsetting in the same way I found the end of Night of the Living Dead upsetting. There’s something to be said for a work of fiction that can make you feel that.

Christa Faust’s “Bootleg” was also quite good. Mona is a former musician who decides to visit her old band mates and help them record a song she wrote. Once in her old stomping grounds memories of her toxic relationship with Victorine, who worshipped Mona’s stage persona and not Mona herself, come back. As Mona is trying to deal with her feelings, one of her old band mates tells her she saw someone who looked exactly like Mona in Victorine’s apartment. Mona can’t stop herself from investigating and what she finds is pretty ugly. This story is a beautiful, heartfelt meditation on identity, learning to let go and coming to terms with your past to make yourself whole.

My favorite story in the book is the last one, “Jack” by Connie Willis. Jack is the story of two men named Jack who work as neighborhood watch and rescue in London during The Blitz (I’m sure there’s a title for that they did, but I don’t know WW2 stuff, so I don’t know what it is). Our narrator is one Jack, the other Jack comes to his ward and ends up being a very good “body-sniffer”, someone with the ability to find people buried in rubble after a bombing. In fact, he’s inexplicably good at it and the narrator slowly finds out why. I have little patience for WW2 stories. I don’t like war stories, and especially with WW2 there’s almost a knee jerk attempt to make them either full blown testosterone laden hero worship, or to put your audience on an emotional rack from the first second of the story so the entire experience becomes emotional torture porn (though some movies astoundingly manage to do both). This story does neither. It focuses on a small group of people in one section of London and illustrates quite marvelously how bad times can bring out the strengths in people.

BUT! You came here for the Ingrid! She wrote the introduction for this book, which is full of anecdotes from the making of The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula and The House That Dripped Blood (fake fangs in Kate O’Mara’s cleavage!   I was in pain laughing about that!), with the brutal honesty Ingrid always displayed when writing about herself.   And she uses the phrase “Gothic Overkill” which is not only a great band name, but also how I hope people describe my life when I’m gone.

She also wrote a story for the volume, entitled “Hisako San”. It’s a fun story about a detective investigating a woman named Hisako who intends to murder a U.S. senator in London on a trade mission.   But there’s much more to Hisako than anyone suspects and she’ll get the Senator come Hell or high water. The story is essentially a battle of wills between two strong female characters, Hisako and Janet Cooper, the woman investigating her.   I found it rather nice that both females get their hands dirty and there is plenty of giving and taking of damage for both of them (it’s one thing to have women running around beating people up, but the true measure of equality is when you have characters who do not hold back when fighting women – i.e. they’re okay with hitting a girl – and women who can take a blow like a bad ass. One of the reasons I adored the new version of The Mummy so much).   Hisako is in no way shape or form a conventional vampire, but I won’t say more so I don’t spoil it. I would guess this is one of Ingrid’s earlier stories.   It very much has an action movie feel, right down to the way the story ends, which is suuuuuper cinematic. But it’s also written in a way that I’ve seen in other authors who either start out as actors or screenwriters write. It moves maybe a little too quick, descriptions of things tend to be a little too clipped and the focus is on dialog, so there’s not a lot of world building going on. We see more of what’s happening as opposed to where it’s happening or even really whom it’s happening to. The story does have a super cool idea at its core, it just could have used some fleshing out.

If you’re wondering where to start with short vampire fiction, this book is a good place.   It’s got a little bit of everything from authors in all time periods and the stories themselves feature all kinds of backgrounds.

Though, come on ya’ll, just because you have a vampire anthology doesn’t mean you need to put “The Master of Rampling Gate” in there. Seriously, this is, like, the 5th book I’ve got with that story in it. We get it, Anne Rice writes vampire stories.   Don’t put that story in anymore vampire anthologies. Just don’t.   Please.

The Ingrid Pitt Files: Sound of Horror


This week in The Ingrid Pitt files, we take a look at the movie that is simultaneously the dumbest and the most awesome concept ever, 1966’s Spanish produced Sound of Horror.

I’m gonna spoil the movie here and now: This movie is about invisible dinosaurs.

See? The most awesome concept ever, while at the same time managing to be the dumbest.

There’s nothing that could ever be un-cool about invisible dinosaurs because at heart, we’re all 7 years old and never got over how cool dinosaurs are. And INVISIBLE dinosaurs? Invisible everything is just better (like glow-in-the-dark). Two awesome things together make things even awesomer, right?!

Then the adult in your head kicks in and you realize they made the dinosaurs invisible so they wouldn’t have to put out the money to actually make dinosaurs to show you.   And then it’s like that moment when you’re a kid and you accidentally see your dad hiding your Easter basket and, I mean, on the one hand, you still get the Easter basket (or invisible dinos, in this case) but some of the magic is gone and you can’t help but feel a little disappointed. And you realize that being an adult kinda sucks because not only do you have to get a job and pay bills, you can’t just believe in the invisible dinos anymore.

Sound of Horror is like that.


But with Ingrid Pitt where we actually get to see her!


Sound of Horror follows a group of treasure hunters in the Greek Islands who *ahem* acquired two halves of a map made by some antiquities thieves during World War II.   The thieves stole a bunch of Greek antiquities and hid them in a cave and the grizzled treasure hunters see it as their right to have the items (because war? They keep talking about how much the war sucked at every turn.   I mean, war does suck, but it’s not an excuse to steal antiquities). They enter the cave and start blowing things up, unearthing prehistoric eggs and causing them to hatch. Viola, invisible dinos! Add into the mix one treasure hunter’s niece, another treasure hunter’s girlfriend (yay Ingrid!), a housekeeper that supplies us with our “native superstition” element and constantly pronounces doom, an archeologist and a driver and you have a siege horror movie that frankly isn’t anything all that special.   Not nearly as special as it should have been, since it involves invisible dinosaurs, anyway.


First, the dinosaurs.   We didn’t see much of them, since they were invisible and all. But the brief glimpses we get of them – transparent shots here and there in the house and in profile while it’s burning at the end – show a pretty standard rubber suit dinosaur. I’m also not sure about the sounds it made. We don’t know what a dinosaur like that would have sounded like, but the sound in the movie just didn’t fly for me, and I can’t quite figure why. However, what money they didn’t spend on the dino was put into some really gnarly, bloody, gross claw slash wounds on the bodies the dinos killed. I was quite pleased with those effects.


Of course, we can’t neglect the showpiece effect, the dino getting hit my two throwing axes that proceed to float in the air.


This effect was a little stiff, but I still liked it. We saw, in a shot after this one, blood from the dinosaur all over the ground and I think the shot would have been more effective if we had seen both together, but given what technology I’m guessing they had, it was pretty good.

On the whole, the performances were okay. Nothing was expected of any of the actors except for the treasure hunters to be grizzled, the girls to be pretty and scream a lot, and the driver to be the comic relief, so they all achieved their aim. Also, there didn’t need to be that many of them. We really could have done without the driver, the niece, and Ingrid.   They didn’t really have any purpose in the plot.

Sound of Horror (Production Still_1) 1966

Now, I try to put myself in the mindset of people watching a movie when it originally came out, but there was something weird that kept me from being able to do that with this movie.   I studied quite a bit of anthropology in college (intended to make it my minor but bureaucracy got in the way) and I’ve been an armchair Egyptologist since I was 12. Sitting down to watch this movie for this blog post was not the first time I’d seen this movie. The first time I saw this movie I nearly screamed bloody murder when they took DYNAMITE into an archeological site.


*Wilhelm scream*

Sound of Horror - Maria attacked #2

I blame the archeologist in the movie for letting them do it and I’d strangle him with my own two hands if I could. Excuse me, I just need to let this heart attack pass…

DYNAMITE… in an archeological site. *rage shudder*

Anyway, Ingrid. We see quite a bit of her in this movie.   Her character, Sofia Minelli, enters at about the 15 minute mark. Ingrid said in her blog that they needed a skinny blonde in this movie and that’s what she was. That is about the sum total of her performance. I was a little surprised though. The niece, Maria, is clearly supposed to be our heroine so I, cynically, thought Sofia would be a problem as a character and be jealous of Maria, or try to sabotage the group (more than one woman in a movie tends to mean one of them is bad, right?), but her character was kind and she cared about the other people and did what she could to help them but was ultimately useless (though in her defense, none of the character are really all that useful). Still, I feel like I haven’t seen Ingrid in a role like that much, where there weren’t some darker undertones to what she was playing.   Mind you, I like the darker undertones, but it’s nice to see a change every now and then.

And there was one really stupid thing about her in this movie that bugged me: Short hair. Ingrid has short hair in this movie.


That’s just… not right.   I mean, she’s still gorgeous.   But… long hair. She should have long hair. All I’m sayin’.


The Ingrid Pitt Files: Chimes At Midnight

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And we’re back to the Ingrid Pitt Files with an Orson Welles film.


Ingrid had an uncredited role in Welles’s favorite film from his own oeuvre, Chimes At Midnight, a mish-mash of a bunch of Shakespeare plays that focuses on Welles’s favorite Shakespeare character Falstaff.

Chimes At Midnight (also known as Falstaff (Chimes At Midnight)) was released in 1965.   It was the result of multiple failed attempts to stage a play with a similar story and themes by Welles’s Mercury Theater and explores the relationship between Falstaff and young Prince Hal (the future Henry V). The much older Falstaff is a knight and drinking buddy to heir to the English throne Prince Hal, which Hal’s father, Henry IV disapproves of.

Basically, this movie is a lot of hanging around in bars, then a big battle scene, then a little more hanging around in bars, then Hal becoming king and repudiating Falstaff and Falstaff dies and everyone is sad.

Now, I couldn’t find Ingrid in this. I’m guessing she was one of the women at the bawdy house because that was pretty much the only place in the movie there were women. I thought I saw her a couple times, but can’t be sure. So I’ll just comment on the film as I viewed it.

In general, Shakespeare rates as a solid every-once-in-a-awhile. I like the tragedies, have high school related trauma over the comedies and zone out during the histories. And this part of the War of the Roses has never been of particular interest to me so I didn’t know who the people were or how they related to anything.

I also have trouble with Shakespeare in visual mediums. I tend to enjoy Shakespeare at least a little when I read him, but I’m just not fast enough to catch all the wit and meaning when I’m hearing it. As a result, this movie ended up being like a deep south accent for me: By the time someone was done talking, I understood what they were trying to convey, but could not tell you what words they used to do it.

And the really stupid thing was that Keith Baxter bugged me as Prince Hal, which is kinda dumb because you can tell he’d played the part over and over and clearly knew it really well but for some reason I just wasn’t buying him. The rest of the performances worked for me though.


However I may feel about Shakespeare, this movie is beautiful. Probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Each shot was carefully composed for maximum impact and the locations chosen were gorgeous. I was particularly impressed with the first scene where we see Henry IV in his castle just after he’s won the crown and Welles seems to be orchestrating how the light falls around everyone and it was just breathtaking.   Later, the robbery scene in the forest has got to be one of the best uses of one of the most beautiful locations in a movie ever.

Chimes of Midnight 1a

Then, of course, there’s the Battle of Shrewsbury, widely considered one of the finest battle scenes in cinema. It’s good. It’s a little scary and though long, it never felt long.   I tend to get really antsy during battle scenes (for being a horror fan I have very little tolerance with large groups of men just wantonly killing each other. I can’t handle it.) and even the short ones can feel overly long to me and this one didn’t. Welles apparently spent an exorbitant amount of time editing it, but it paid off.   The fighting felt savage and ugly.   And, as my brain is wont to fixate of weird stuff, I was actually really impressed with the way mud (of all things) was used in the battle scene. This fight seemed particularly dirty and mean spirited because everyone was rolling around and pounding each other into the mud.


I have mixed feelings about Welles himself. There are moments when you can see why people fell under his spell (The Third Man), and then there are examples of his ego running rampant and reminding you just how much of a disagreeable artiste he was (The Lady From Shanghai) and I actually have to put Chimes At Midnight in the latter category.   I am not impressed by Falstaff as a character. He’s an old guy who pissed his life away drinking and wenching but who could tell a good one liner and take a joke. The speech at the end was meant to make us believe that those characteristics meant he really had a good heart and should be mourned by all the people he routinely swindled, manipulated and took advantage of. Because he was merry, his being an asshole was okay. I’m not saying Hal repudiating him (and that was repudiating, because no less fancy word could properly convey how hard Hal gave Falstaff the boot here) was right, or that Hal wasn’t a TOTAL jerk about it (seriously, that was HARSH), but that doesn’t excuse everything Falstaff did.   Especially since, when he hears that Hal has become king, his first reaction is “Woo-Woo! The gravy train just arrived!” So he was as much a social climber as anyone else, he was just really bad at it. So Welles relating to this character so much may have been more telling then anyone realizes and doesn’t make a favorable impression for me.


So, unfortunately, this movie was Ingrid-less for me, but I’m glad I watched it as it really is one that people should see. However you feel about Welles, this is a gorgeous, technically perfect film and it’s easy to see why so many other film makers have been inspired by it.


Labor Of Love Part 1: I Vampiri


Frequent readers of this blog will know that I am a worshipper of the great Mario Bava. For criminy’s sake, the man made a gothic sci-fi movie! What more proof do I need that he was making movies for me?

I used to work in a craft store and the stories you hear are true. It results in a lot of “oh, that’s neat! I can do something with that but I don’t know what but I’ll get it now so we don’t run out before I need it! Wait, why is there a pile of unfinished projects in my work room?”

It all started with this pattern.


As you can imagine, I already have 20 million patterns for period ball gowns, but this one is slightly different!

After buying it came the period of turning it over in my head. What was I going to do with it?

I don’t even know where the inspiration came from, I just remember looking at the pattern display between customers and the words “Mario Bava” popped into my head. My eyes got super wide as it clicked into place.   The dress had basically four sections and there are four main colors I associate with Mario: Blood red, royal purple, lime green and, of course, my beloved Bava blue. I could use those four colors to make the most outrageous Bava-inspired period gown!

But I’d need the appropriate accoutrements, jewelry and the like. As I mulled over what I could do, it slowly dawned on me that a series of accessories based on the films he directed (credited or not) would be the perfect accompaniment.

Several ideas leapt to mind quickly (Caltiki took 5 minutes to plan and it was like the goddess-blob herself presented what she wanted me to do as if in a vision), some made me blanche at the intimidating prospect of reducing it to an accessory (I wanted to run and hide at the idea of doing Black Sunday. Barbara Steele is watching me! STOP WATCHING ME BARBARA STEELE!)

Barbara Steele 9

I decided it was best to push through in chronological order, just to keep things straight in my head.

I started with the first movie that can be easily obtained over here (if anyone has a line on the short films he directed before this, let me know, even if they don’t have subtitles I’m still interested) I Vampiri, a.k.a. Lust of the Vampire, a.k.a. The Devil’s Commandment.

I bought this movie at a used DVD shop a few years ago when I was just getting into Bava.   Apparently it’s the first native made Italian horror film of the sound era and was directed by Ricardo Freda.   But he had a temper tantrum and Mario was left to clean up the mess.

The film follows Pierre, a reporter investigating a string of vampire like murders in Paris. He is soon distracted by Giselle, the niece of the Duchess du Grand. Giselle is determined to make Pierre her lover but he wants nothing to do with her.   The du Grand family and his own have a bad history, stemming from the Duchess – now old and so ugly she covers her face in public – trying to seduce Pierre’s father and destroy his family.   But the trail of dead women keep leading back to the du Grand castle and the scientist who works in the catacombs beneath it to make the Duchess young and beautiful again.


From the standpoint of widdling this movie down into a wearable symbol, the process started out daunting. Despite its modern time period and faux science, this is a purposely gothic movie, which means, in matching a gothic dress, everything is a choice.

But when you’re doing projects like this, I have learned you never settle because if you’re going to all the trouble to make it for yourself it should end up exactly like you want it and it’s only a matter of time before the image you’re looking for whacks you across the face.


The tomb that was the door to Julien’s lab was my image.

Immediate thoughts included a bustle or a shawl (there’s a lotta drapey-ness there), or even a pair of bracelets. I discarded the first two quickly because the dress is already quite large and I want to add as little as possible. I wasn’t sure about the idea of bracelets, it just didn’t seem right and the sleeves on the dress go down to the wrists.

But a tiara…!

That idea clicked immediately, so I looked up a million billion tiara pictures and while they were all beautiful, none of them seemed to quite work and I didn’t really want to mess with metalworking.

I settled on a design and resigned myself to the metalworking thing (well, wire-working at any rate) when a picture at the bottom of my last search caught my eye.


This is the kokoshnik Cartier made for Queen Marie of Romania in 1914. It’s blackened steel with diamonds. Not sure what the red stones are, but I would guess rubies.

A kokoshnik is a Russian headdress that is basically one solid piece of fabric, typically with a peaked design, trimmed with beads and/or gems. They were worn by women as a part of their formal ensemble. If you were rich it would be bigger and more elaborate.

This gave me pause. I Vampiri was set in France and Mario was Italian. Would a Russian accessory work?   Then I remembered, Mario set a couple films in Eastern Europe and seemed to be fond of the works of Nikolai Gogol, so I could let it pass.

I gathered some materials from my stash that I thought would work.

Materials 1

Materials 2

I decided the skull and crossbones on top of the tomb would be my focal point, since everything on the tomb seemed to drape from it. I was fairly certain the jewels I had wouldn’t be enough to fill the front, but then an idea occurred to me: The du Grand family motto, “I shall conquer hell.”

Soooooooo cool! I’d paint that on the fabric! That would take up room and be a direct connection to this movie!

I played with ideas about fabric and decided to use black, flannel-backed satin. The flannel on the back makes the satin a little thicker and much, much softer, which means it drapes beautifully. Most importantly for me though, the light reflects off it, which means there’s almost a gray cast. I decided I wanted to soften the black and make the overall piece resemble a movie in black and white, which didn’t usually involve deep, light sucking blacks you could get lost in unless Jacques Tourneur was involved. There would be grades of gray and black in my piece.

I started with a piece of extra firm stabilizer cut in the shape I wanted the kokoshnik to be. I wrapped it in the satin then began to attach jewels.

Of course, right off the bat, I put the skull and crossbones off center, but adjustments would have damaged the fabric and forced me to start over again, which I was unwilling to do.

I fussed over the translation of “I shall conquer Hell.” There’s no clear shot of the family crest, but from what little I could see, the words looked French. Google translate says, “I shall conquer Hell” is je vais conquerir l’enfer, but there’s no way that would fit on the crest in the movie. I shortened it to conquiere l’enfer. “I conquer Hell” without the “I”.

But after practicing the painting on a scrap of fabric a bunch of times, my hand shook on the actual kokoshnik.

I stayed stubborn. I did not want to start over.

After the jewels were on and I was sure the piece would bend appropriately and not crease (yay Pellon #926!) I realized I had to do something about the back. In trying to make the front perfect, I had jacked up the back pretty badly.

I remembered admiring the heavy lace trim on the veil the Duchess du Grand had worn in public.   I’d wanted to work it in somehow but hadn’t thought of anything.

Until now.

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There were more tests to see if the piece sat right on my head or if anything would start falling off.   Then it was done.

Frankly, I’m not 100% pleased with it. It has its problems.

But looking at the finished product I realized why I’d been so reticent to start over. As of writing this, I’m jobless and am running on odd and ends with this project. I can’t afford to run out and buy replacement supplies for every stupid little thing I screw up. I was stuck making the best of what I had.

Just like Mario was when he made I Vampiri and, well, most of his movies.

What better way to honor him than owning what I’d done and displaying it proudly, like he did?

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If you have any questions about the process or tips for the future (clearly I need them!) please comment below!

Part 2 in a month or two:   Caltiki, the Immortal Monster!


The Ingrid Pitt Files: The Saint


I have been a worshipper of Ingrid Pitt since I discovered her. I’ve always thought women with attitude were the most beautiful and Ingrid had both traditional beauty and attitude in spades. Her early life wasn’t an easy one and included time in a concentration camp and escaping to Western Europe by the skin of her teeth.   This is probably what gave her the strength and confidence exuded on screen. We’ll talk more about that in the individual cases we see it in.

In this blog series, I’ll discuss Ingrid’s television and film roles, as well as her writing career.   Basically, anything I can get my hands on that she was directly involved in, I’ll be writing about.

Our first entry will have very little to actually do with Ingrid, though.

According to IMDB, Ingrid’s first acting credit (not on the stage) is an episode of the British TV series The Saint.


Ingrid was basically an uncredited extra in series 2, episode 14, “The Bunco Artists” which originally aired on 19 December 1963. The episode was directed by Peter Yates, who would go on to direct all kinds of famous movies that I’ve never seen because I don’t watch normal movies.

Title 'The Saint 2.14 The Bunco Artists' (1963)

In this episode, a pair of con artists with an impressively multi-layered con swindle a church out of all the funds it’s raised for upkeep. Unfortunately, the woman who works at the church is the mother of Simon Templar’s actress girlfriend and he decides to fix the problem. This involves jetting off to the south of France at an hour’s notice and affecting possibly the worst Texas accent I have ever heard in my life. The female member of the con duo was apparently American. She should have known she was getting taken from that accent alone. At any rate, the con artists get conned, the money is recovered, along with some extra so that the church can make all the repairs it needs and everyone lives happily ever after.

This was the first time I’d ever seen this television show and while it’s not really my cup of tea, it was entertaining.

I had no knowledge of The Saint in any of its numerous forms when I sat down to watch this, so it was a learning experience. However, after watching this show it’s clear why they chose Roger Moore to play James Bond later on. However, he had the smarminess turned up to 11 on this show. That’s too smarmy even for me and I think smarmy is hot.


Also, maybe Templar needs a hobby. It was cool when was being all heroic and stuff (and the climactic showdown had me in tears I was laughing so hard), but I couldn’t help but think, how does he fill his day? I mean, being smarmy doesn’t pay well and there’s only so many wrongs to be righted. Being that well put together does take time, but even after all that, there’s still HOURS left in the day. Is he secretly a knitter or something?

At any rate I found Ingrid.   She is credited on the IMDB as “poolside sunbather” and that’s really all their was too it. I couldn’t find a picture on line, but it’s a close up of her feet with her laying back in a beach chair. The shot lingers a few seconds, but no more. She did an excellent job of spraying on sun tan lotion, if I do say so myself.

Apart from that, well, hey, I’ve seen an episode of The Saint!

I just want to up and go to the south of France in an hour. Can I be Simon Templar’s girlfriend?

The Horror Heretic: The Invisible Man vs. Bride of Frankenstein

(The Horror Heretic is a blog series where I voice opinions about the horror genre that are unpopular.   Because I’m contrary like that.)


I’m just going to start by blurting it out: The Invisible Man is a superior film to Bride of Frankenstein.

Let me get the disclaimers out of the way: I am in no, way, shape or form dissing on Bride of Frankenstein. It’s a work of art and one of the best films Universal made.   And I must admit here that I’m not a big fan of Frankenstein in general. I understand how important the book was and as a woman who writes horror I very proudly claim to be a daughter of Mary Shelley. But I also have lived my entire life in the age where the themes she tackles have been pounded so thoroughly into the ground that I’m tired of having the discussion, so Frankenstein stories that don’t involve Peter Cushing being evil are pretty boring for me. That does inform the opinion I am about the give to a degree.   Also, I’m not as familiar with the making of these movies as some of my readers will be, so I can only speak to how the movies feels to me.


This past Halloween, just by chance, I watched The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein back to back and I puzzled over the differences for a good long while.   Comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges, but I felt like there was something I wanted to say about the differences. I felt like Invisible was a better film, but it took me a lot of humming and hawing to articulate why.

Story wise, there is no way to compare them. They convey different stories in different time periods in different ways. For me, as someone who spends a lot of time watching movies and seeing things that may or may not be there, there’s no denying that Bride has a hefty chunk of James Whale’s heart in it. Invisible does not.


I don’t think anyone would argue against Whale being one of the gods of cinema Gothic (and if they do, stop talking to them IMMEDIATELY and walk away. You don’t need them in your life). When he made Bride, he already had Frankenstein and The Old Dark House under his belt. He was comfortable with Gothic.

For my taste, perhaps a little too comfortable. There’s a static feeling about Bride. A lot of “just look at how pretty this is while we gloss over some plot stuff.”   There’s no denying it is a gorgeous movie, deliberately Gothic, but that gives the movie an almost leaden feel.   It feels like not much happens in Bride because we are chained to pretty locations.


The Invisible Man goes the opposite direction. Invisible is a wonderfully dynamic and energetic movie. It feels like play. Whale didn’t have the Gothic template to fit things into, which means he had to formulate how this movie would be made from the ground up and he was given the freedom (by necessity) to try all kinds of different stuff.

If nothing else, the cinematography makes Invisible a superior film.


Look at this shot. Look at this shot. We have one shot, a woman’s face framed by some flowers as she frets about the man she loves. That shot alone tells us in a subtle, delicate way everything we need to know about Flora. It’s all right there. If you had never seen this movie and only saw the picture, you wouldn’t even need to hear what she says. You just know what she’s saying and thinking.

Likewise, the camera makes subtle shifts when focused on Griffin. Towards the end of the movie when Griffin is going nutso, the camera will shoot him like normal, but as soon as he starts in on one of his world domination monologues, the camera angle goes as wonky as Griffin’s worldview.


The kicker for me was the scene where a radio broadcast at a party warns everyone that an invisible man is on the loose. The camera starts parting the crowd as it goes toward, then into, the radio. We feel like we’re traveling over the airwaves to all the houses full of terrified people trying to register that they should be scared of nothing.

I also think the performances in Invisible all around are better. The core performances in Bride are top notch, no doubt. But in Invisible, every single actor from star to bit player had to be on their game. A lot of actors spend a great deal of time interacting with nothing. When that cop gets kicked in the butt by the invisible man, he’s gotta sell it without making it look stupid. And he does. They all do. There’s not a hitch in the scenes where the actors have nothing to work with, which, in and of itself, is a miracle.

I also felt like, while Bride is a lovely time capsule we can sit and watch wistfully, Invisible is still relevant today. Both movies are about science gone wrong, but Invisible is much more immediate. It is also an early instance of a man who works in a science field that is specifically for benefiting people (whereas Frankenstein is much more about “look what I can do!”) going off on his own and creating something that will harm everyone.   In many ways, this movie presages what would happen in the atom age and, by extension, the sci-fi/horror hybrids of the 50’s (sorry Creature From The Black Lagoon, you weren’t first after all), in addition to the Cold War paranoia of what may or may not be out there to get you.

That last bit is a matter of personal taste for me. Grand philosophical dilemmas about the nature of human existence are fine, but I prefer to have my immediate worldview and surroundings challenged. Not a lot of people like that though, I know.

Now, for the record, the best horror film Universal made was 1925’s Phantom of the Opera (I will defend Phantom unto death! Come at me, brah!) and I was gonna shoehorn that movie in here eventually anyway, so just go with it. However, The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein are both contenders for number two. What makes The Invisible Man the winner – and I would assert James Whale’s masterpiece – is a subtle but important difference.


In Bride of Frankenstein, an ethereal Elsa Lanchester sit us down and tells us to watch her fairy tale unfold before our eyes.


In The Invisible Man, Claude Rains grabs you by the arm, drags you outside and laughs manically as he takes you on a journey to discover all the dangers you didn’t know existed right outside your door.

And when he’s laughing like that and promising such an adventure, I’d follow Claude Rains anywhere.