February 1, 2023 · 12:18 am
THE KEEP (1983) – During World War Two, Nazi forces occupy a sinister stone Keep, only to realize they have disturbed a malevolent ancient entity which begins preying upon them. The unleashed force manipulates a prisoner of the Nazis into freeing it from its ages-old prison.
With hindsight, The Keep seems like it should have been a massive hit. Directed by Michael Mann, who adapted the screenplay from the novel by F. Paul Wilson, the stars included Jurgen Prochnow, Ian McKellan, Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne and Alberta Watson. Plus, the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark a few years earlier had made Nazis cinema’s most popular villains since the actual World World Two era.
So, what went wrong? Well, for starters, Mann’s cut of the film was supposedly just over three hours long at a time when studios expected such length only in epics (Reds, Gandhi, etc), not horror films. The Keep was then butchered in the editing room to the point where Michael Mann TO THIS DAY flies off the handle if this film is even mentioned during media interviews with him. Continue reading →
January 25, 2022 · 11:49 pm
Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the stories of pulp heroine Jirel of Joiry, the Medieval French woman-warrior created by female author C.L. Moore in 1934. For the first story click HERE.
BLACK GOD’S SHADOW (1934) – This was Moore’s sequel to Jirel’s debut story Black God’s Kiss. We pick up an unknown amount of time after the conclusion of the previous tale. Jirel has been having recurring nightmares and visions ever since she killed Guillaume the Conqueror, the man she belatedly realized that she loved.
Of late the nightmares and visions have been intensifying to the point where our heroine is becoming convinced that Guillaume’s soul must be trapped in the hellish netherworld where she herself acquired the weapon she used to kill him. Castle Joiry was immediately evacuated by Guillaume’s troops in their panicked, superstitious reaction to the supernatural death of their leader.
Order had since been restored in the castle but Jirel’s sleep has not been the same. As she lies tossing and turning, she ponders the various lovers she had taken over the years, none of whom took the hold over her heart and thoughts that Guillaume did.
Determined, she armors up, takes a sword and knife with her and sets out to somehow free Guillaume’s soul by daring to reenter the hellish domain that lies far beneath Castle Joiry. Continue reading →
January 20, 2022 · 3:03 am
JIREL OF JOIRY – From 1934 to 1939, the female author C.L. Moore wrote six stories featuring Jirel of Joiry, a sword-wielding woman warrior from late Medieval France. Moore’s thirteen tales of Northwest Smith, the 1930s version of Han Solo, were reviewed in 2014 here at Balladeer’s Blog, including the 1937 crossover story with Jirel in which they faced a time-traveling sorceror from her era.
With this blog post I’m at last beginning my promised examination of the Jirel of Joiry pulp stories from the iconic publication Weird Tales. She was the forerunner of so many recent heroines from Xena to Cara Dune.
BLACK GOD’S KISS (1934) – This debut story opens with Castle Joiry having for once suffered the fate that Jirel had forced upon so many other strongholds: its armies defeated and their commander, Jirel herself, taken prisoner.
Still fully armored, she has been brought before Guillaume the Conqueror, the first man to have ever beaten Jirel militarily. The cocky Guillaume, having taken the castle, is seated upon Jirel’s throne as he inspects the freshly seized enemy commander being held by two of his men who can scarcely keep the warrior restrained.
Soon he has another of his soldiers remove the helmet from the commander and is shocked to see that inside the armor it is a beautiful woman who nearly defeated him that day.
NOTE: Since so many people are still so into the Game of Thrones universe picture a fully armored Jason Momoa as Guillaume and for Jirel picture a fiery combination of Arya, Daenerys and Brienne with Sansa’s long red hair.
Back to the story, Guillaume infuriates Jirel by talking to her as the prisoner she is and she breaks free of the two men holding her and nearly escapes before Guillaume himself catches up with her and recaptures her. He forces a kiss upon Jirel, who, the minute their mouths are disengaged, bites into his exposed neck, just missing his jugular vein.
Things escalate and Guillaume smacks our heroine unconscious. She awakens that night in the dungeons far below Castle Joiry. She easily escapes from her cell and overcomes the guard Guillaume assigned to keep watch over her. Continue reading →