Friday, August 22, 2014

Penny Dreadful Release Dates & The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death

The hit series Penny Dreadful finally has a release date: the series will be available on a 3-disc version via Amazon for $41.38 plus shipping ($46.74 for Blu-ray, plus shipping); shortly before that, it will probably be released on iTunes and you can purchase the episodes individually. For an unspecified limited time, you can download, for freethe Penny Dreadful Multipack Illustrated/Annotated set featuring Wehr-Wolf, Varney the Vampyr, and The Mysteries of London Vol 1. Again, this is a free download for Kindle; if you don't have a Kindle, go to this link to download the free app, then download--literally--hundreds of free classics to read. Most of the books upon which the series has been based, such as the Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeBram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein can all be downloaded for free (along with lots of others).
Ethan (Josh Hartnett) has been a rather secretive character throughout Season 1, although numerous hints have been dropped. I haven't seen episodes 6-8, where Ethan changes, so I am not quite ready to post my thoughts on the series (this is why doing TV shows is so hard: you are always waiting for the artists' final word on what they want to say about something).  What I am most concerned about, knowing that Ethan is a werewolf and not a priest, is the "exorcism" he "performs" in Episode 6, Possession, on Vanessa (Eva Green). Given that Ethan is a werewolf, he, too, is possessed, and as the Bible tells us in Mark 3:24, "a house divided cannot stand," that is, a demon cannot cast out a demon from another possessed person. This leads us to two possibilities: first, the demon within Ethan is stronger than the demon possessing Vanessa, and that's why Ethan "has authority" over Vanessa's tormentor, and why Ethan can cast it out (i.e., Ethan is essentially possessed by a greater evil than is Vanessa). The other possibility is that, since God is outside of time (and we as mortals, are "inside" or subject to time) God took the prayers He didn't answer for Vanessa in Episode 5, Closer Than Sisters, and answered Ethan's and Vanessa's prayers with Vanessa's Grace from when she said those initial prayers (God exists outside of time, so He can take a prayer that we say in the past, and apply it to the future when He knows we will need that Grace more). One of the most important clues to Ethan being a werewolf comes from Brona when, at the theater, with her heavy accent, she called him "Eat-ing" rather than "Ethan," and Ethan points it out to her (it's easier to read it in the subtitles than listen for it), because Brona understands that Ethan is a man of the appetites and his appetites rule over him. This leads us to Ethan's werewolf teeth: do they remind you of a vampire? This could be a sign that Ethan is a stronger demon than the "Master" vampire that was possessing (or trying to possess) Vanessa: Ethan is both wolf and vampire, the master and the slave, the ruler and the one who can kill a vampire (there have been legends that only werewolves can kill dominant vampires because those vampires are strong enough to rule over the undisciplined werewolf; if the werewolf is desirous enough to break the bond, he can kill the vampire, we saw this in Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman). Another interpretation is that the demon holding possession over Ethan has only a "topical possession," that is, Ethan's soul is battling the beast but Ethan is NOT possessed: he is being allowed to battle this demon so his soul can become stronger; I don't really buy this, though, at least not at this point in the story, because Ethan just doesn't strike me as a strong character; this does, however, highlight for all of us the nature of sin, namely, that whatever our temptations, they are at the door of the soul, and if we don't open the door--regardless of how hard they push to get through--we have protected our soul. The strength, then, comes from recognizing that it's an evil spirit at the door trying to get in, then not letting the evil spirit in; when we sin, this is what we do, we either fail to properly discern, or we fail to stand strong against the temptation. Regarding Ethan, he recognizes his tendency to "wolf out" as we witness when he's with Dorian Gray at the dog vs rat ring: we can say that, in spite of Dorian's offer to become someone else, Dorian has pointed out to Ethan exactly who he is: a raging animal. The question is, then, why does this image appeal to Dorian, and how does Dorian's guess of the number of rats the dog would kill emphasize the Dorian really has an accurate idea of who, and what, Ethan really is? Later, at Dorian's house, when Ethan kisses Dorian and engages him in sex, is this a part of Ethan's appetites, or is this the fulfillment of Dorian's promise to "be someone else?" In having sex with Dorian, in other words, Ethan kind of becomes Dorian and ceases to be Ethan for a bit? Remember, these are both men with serious and mounting sins that are literally destroying their souls and even their temporal identities (Dorian casting all his sins onto the hidden portrait, and Ethan accumulating his sins of the murders within the hidden part of his animal nature). 
It's my understanding the following film is going straight to DVD, regrettable, because the film makers also made The Devil Inside, which I thought was brilliant, but earned a 6% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes,.... either they are wrong, or I am, we both can't be right. Anyway, the film makers have put together this film called Wer and features some of their stylistic signatures:
I think it was last summer, I had gone to the library to look for a book, and I passed the Information Desk; a little, white-haired lady was asking a young man, "What's a zombie?" She lucked out that I refrained from stopping to fully answer her question, because we would have been there awhile. What we can and should do, like her, is ask, "What's a werewolf?" I don't mean the man who turns into a wolf by the light of the full moon, but I do mean, "Why was the werewolf invented?" What cultural and social need does the monster fulfill, to not only enter society, but stay as a main part of the vocabulary of moral diction? A werewolf, simply put, is a man who cannot/will not control his appetites and thereby loses the dignity of his humanity by indulging his need for sex. Heretofore, if there was a female equivalent for a "werewolf," it probably would have been a Bride of Dracula (something like Mina in Penny Dreadful; please see caption notes below for more details).
This is a great scene, actually; why? Talan, the werewolf is "reaching for her," and why does he think he can drag her into his vortex of sexuality? She's wearing a leather jacket, she has a few strands of hair loose and we only see half of her profile. The leather jacket denotes her "animal" tendencies (like Talan's body hair--Talan is the name of the main character, the wolf man--she has part of an animal she is showing/wearing, probably because she herself is sexually active and therefore, just as likely for her sexual passions to get out of hand as Talan's passions). We know that hair symbolizes thoughts, so even though her hair is pulled back--a sign she disciplines herself and she tends to be logical--there are some strands loose, meaning she herself is "loose" about her approach to sexuality. Lastly, we see her in profile, so there is an entire part of her that is "hidden" just as Talan's animal nature appears to be hidden. We don't see Talan's face--his hair covers his face most of the time--and that symbolizes that his thoughts have "erased" his identity--our face is the seat of our identity, so to speak, people identify who we are by our face--so for his hair, i.e., his thoughts, to be covering his face, something about his thoughts tells us that they are destroying who he is. Simply put, even if we never see him commit any kind of an act of impurity or sexuality, he is always thinking about sex--he doesn't discipline his thoughts, which is why his hair hangs down and is so long and greasy--he is constantly thinking about sex that in turn is destroying his humanity and identity because he acts like an animal who only tends to his physical needs, rather than a human with a soul who has spiritual needs.  Another important aspect of the trailer is that they attempt to "diagnose" Talan as having a "condition," and that doesn't work out so well; why is this important? Not everything is the realm of science: just as science tends to reduce us to animals, and everything about us either falls into the normal or abnormal category, according to how it has been observed by scientists, so science thinks it can handle every "condition" by classifying it and monitoring it; some things, however, belong to the realm of the soul and the Church. As I noted above, women generally have not been likened to werewolves because the sexual appetite has always been something men generally have dealt with but women haven't been burdened by; that's changed. Films such as Dark Shadows, The Cabin In the Woods, Underworld: Awakening, and probably several TV programs, have demonstrated how women have started becoming werewolves, too. This is a devastating development and we can blame this, squarely, with the Left because of their preaching of promiscuity, abortion, contraceptives and denigration of marriage. Again, ten years ago, there were no female werewolves, now there are several, and they represent that a change has taken place in society, and not for the better. 
I am rather confident that Wer follows the general theme of the classic An American Werewolf in London: in the trailer, for example, the middle class family on vacation gets attacked by the werewolf. Throughout AAWIL, men and women from all classes were being attacked by the werewolf who refused to to kill his sexual appetites and, therefore, his bad, explicit sexual behavior was having a bad effect on everyone (which is why part of the film takes place in a porn theater, the main character is "living a life of porn"). Wer, likewise, probably depicts the disintegration of various parts of society due to this one man's disintegration into sexual oblivion; the question is, how does the film depict this? On a different note, but maybe not so different, the sequel to The Woman in Black has finally released their first trailer (you might recall another trailer being released last summer, that was perfectly hideous, and taking place in a more modern day sense; that is not what this film is about):
This is something of an important film: The Woman In Black (the first one of 2012) is the highest grossing British horror film in 20 years. The film was so well made, I actually wrote two very different posts on it, from different critical perspectives (please see Queen Victoria, Monkeys and the Catholic Church: The Woman In Black and Naming the Harlot: The Woman In Black for more). The synopsis is that, during World War I, children are sent out from London to the countryside and a group take residence at Eel Marsh House, awakening the Woman In Black who haunts there. Originally, the narrative made Eel Marsh House a temporary hospital for convalescing soldiers injured before they returned home or back to the front. The ominous rocking chair in the trailer is familiar to those of us who have seen the film--I almost screamed in the theater, it scared me so much!--so that it re-appears confirms, I suppose, that this will be the narrative we are familiar with; it will be released in the UK next year.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner