All I Want For Halloween is Victorian Monster Movies

This Halloween I was really excited about reviewing the new Mummy— the first film to launch a new Universal Pictures  own Cinematic Universe named the  “Dark Universe” which is a reboot of their industry changing black and white monster films. However, we will not be reviewing that film because it was simply awful (and here I would like to direct you to the review by Screen Junkies on YouTube). Instead I would love to take a moment to celebrate the original films and their frequent connections to the wonderful world of steam.

Note: Many of these films contain elements that are not exactly steampunk visually, but the science, creativity, and technological creations in them are entirely within the spirit of the genre.

Frankenstein 

Creator: Mary Shelley (novel) Peggy Webling (adaptation) James Whale (director) Boris Karloff (starring)

Media Type: feature film (1931)

Audience: Though originally a spine chilling horror film, a modern audience would rate it at ages 10+

Summary: The one that started it all! Eccentric academic Henry Frankenstein retreats to an incredibly rainy castle with his laboratory assistant Fritz to conduct experiments in reanimating dead tissue, resulting in birthing a monster. The film solidified the image of the mad scientist surrounded by lighting strikes, switch boxes, and scalpels. The film takes creative license with many of the original novels theme though, focusing less on the relationship between the Monster and his Creator and more on the impact the monster had on the surrounding town– switching the conversation from the evils of man to the domino effect of evil.

Bottom Line: A must see for fans of horror films, steampunk, and groundbreaking special effects.

Find It: Amazon and YouTube

Murders in the Rue Morgue

Creator: Edgar Allan Poe (novel), Robert Florey (director), Bela Lugosi (starring)

Media Type: feature film (1932)

Audience: Produced during the pre-Code era in Hollywood, this film is generally fine for modern 13+ audiences but the Librarian recommends pre-viewing.

Summary: A mad scientist engaging in ape/human genetic experimentation begins abducting women from the streets of 1840s Paris. Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s novel of the same name, the story is credited with being the first piece of modern detective fiction. Filled with human experimentation, murder, and dramatic chase scenes this film became part of the foundation of the genre.

Bottom Line: Generally reviewd as “A for Effort”. While not everything about the film withstood the test of time, the obvious creativity in every scene makes it well worth the 62 minutes of your time.

Find It: Amazon Video and Youtube

The Invisible Man

Creator: H.G. Wells (novel),  R.C. Sherriff, Philip Wylie and Preston Sturges (adapted by), James Whale (director)

Media: feature film (1933)

Audience: 14+.

Summary: Dr. Jack Griffin, a chemist, has been experimenting with a new drug which unintentionally turned him indivisible. This new-found feature leads Dr. Griffin away from research and on a new path: murder and world domination. The film was a well respected success, so a sequel The Invisible Man Returns was released in 1940. The new invisible man was played by Vincent Price which alone makes it worth a watch.

Bottom Line: This is one of the few films to earn a 100% on RottenTomatoes, which says a lot. Many modern reviews also still call the film frightening, which isn’t the case for most “classic” films (look at Dracula for example, which at the time was horrifying but is now often given a G/PG rating).

Find It: Amazon and YouTube

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Creator: Robert Louis Stevenson (novella)

Summary: Dr. Henry Jekyll is a well respected physician in a fashionable piece of Victorian London. His experiments with chemistry and pharmacology, while originally pure in intention, soon turn dark. Drunk on the freedom from Victorian social expectations (and the law) his new drug offers him, Jekyll creates a whole new persona for himself, a Mr. Edward Hyde. But as the allure of Hyde’s debauchery grows Jekyll has to ask himself: who is he really? An excellent continuation of the Victorian theme of the inner battles between monster and man.

A myriad of film and TV adaptations have been created. Here are links to as many of them as I could find.

1912 short/silent film, directed by Lucius Henderson.

1913 Short/silent film, directed by Herbert Brenon.

1920 silent film, directed by John Robertson. Note: there are two other 1920 versions of Jekyll/Hyde as well. One was filmed in Germany The Head of Janus (German: Der Janus-Kopf)  directed by F. W. Murnau, and another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde directed by J. Haydon. However the Haydon film did very poorly and the director was known to have hated it.

1931 feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.

1941 feature film directed by Victor Fleming

Did I miss your favorite? Tell us about it on Twitter: @SteamLib

 

 

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Steam Themed Halloween pt2

Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).

Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at submissions@steampunklibrary.net and via Twitter @SteamLib.

Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:

Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.

Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?

Image: the librarian as a steampunk gender-bent Sherlock Holmes
Your Librarian as Sherlock Holmes circa 2012

Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.

Who doesn’t love coloring?

Image of my personal copy of Brian Kessinger's Coloring With Your Octopus
The best birthday present from The Boyfriend (aka The Project’s IT guy)

Artist Brian Kesinger (author of Walking Your Octopus) has a matching coloring book out now! You can find Coloring With Your Octopus at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Pages can be distributed throughout October in the Children’s (and Teen, and Adult) sections to bring some steampunk whimsy to your tables. There’s also the Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book, the Creative Haven Steampunk Designs Coloring Book, and the option to make your own coloring pages off of Google or with the help of a crafty coworker. These are great for having out the whole month and at the kid’s table at events.

Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.

Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story

Age/Audience: Teen/Adult

Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story

Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,

Summary:

Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.

When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.

Bottom Line:

Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Find It:

The Curious Case on Amazon

The Curious Case on Goodreads

Convention Season

As a community resource for librarians and steampunk fans in all walks of life, we here at The Steampunk Library project want to connect and share with as many members of the community as possible. To that end The Steampunk Library project is active on Tumblr (follow at http://steampunklibrary.tumblr.com/), sharing posts and steampunk art.

Recently Steampunk Library has also joined Twitter (@SteamLib), where we can share links from other steam-inspired people, like the Boston Metaphysical Society (@HMollyRosing), the Airship Ambassador (@airshipEmbassy), authors like Gail Carriger (@gailcarriger), and more. Follow the #steampunk hashtag and @SteamLib to get connected to the community.

Looking for some face-to-face cosplay filled interactions? August may be fast approaching but convention season is far from over!

I will be hosting a Steampunk Library panel in September at the first Steamposium Convention in Seattle Washington, September 26-28. For more info and badge prices visit their website, or their Facebook. Get your badges early to ensure you can see Steam Powered Giraffe LIVE in concert at the convention on Saturday night. Don’t know about Steam Powered Giraffe? Check out the review of them here.

Not in the Seattle area? Not to worry! Both TOR publishing and the Airship Ambassador keep up to date on the conventions happening around the US and Canada.

Been to a convention recently and want to share your experience with the community? You can share your con pics with us via Twitter, or send in your write up and pictures of your experience to submissions@steampunklibrary.net and host it on the site.

Evan Butterfield Photography

Evan Butterfield is a photographer based out of California. His work covers a wide array of topics, but lately he’s found he has an exceptional eye for steampunk.

"Your Hair Wants Cutting" c2014
“Your Hair Wants Cutting” c2014

Starting with custom created costumes and accessories with models enthusiastic about dress-up, Mr. Butterfield’s finished pieces encompass the best of traditional and digital photography. The images begin as detail-oriented traditional photographs that are then digitally manipulated to create a unique, antiqued look. Many images are faded, other crinkled, and some so meticulously edited that they look like they were lost in a drawer for generations.

Originally trained in English and a holding a degree in Law, Mr. Butterfields’s inspiration comes from his passion for literature and the steampunk butterfly affect: the notion that things are so dramatically altered by one small technological change. He credits The Difference Engine and The Diamond Age as his gateway and various conventions as his visual inspiration. In all of his steampunk works, he represents what he calls the “triple goddesses” of this particular SciFi aesthetic: Curiosity, Progress, and Science.

“It all comes down to the stories being told,” he said during our lovely phone conversation, “re-imagined into photo reality”. This reimaging comes in a variety of formats, from his series of literary themed pictures to turning Victorian sexism on its head through a series of “Steampunk Beefcake” shoots.

Steampunk Vincent  c2014
Steampunk Vincent c2014

Even though his art is labeled SciFi, Evan Butterfield has a much more down to Earth feeling about the genre. “Despite all the gears steampunk is not divorced from reality,” he says, “its just playing with themes that have always been there – using them to connect.” This enthusiasm and social understanding of the esthetic come through with every image, and I personally cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.

 

Beauty and the Beast c2014
Beauty and the Beast c2014

Evan’s work is available for license or purchase via his online gallery,  or at FineArt America.

Read more about his process and stay up to date on projects by following his blog, Lens Caps.

Jeremiah Congleve, Reflecting  An informal portrait of young Master Jeremiah Congleve, Tertiary Journeyman at the Royal Aetheric Engineering Academy. In later life, Congreve’s work with filamental liquid phenomena would revolutionize phlebotic medicine, military strategy, and commercial air transport; but during his student and journeyman years he struggled with personal demons (of the psychological, rather than phantasmal variety), inappropriate social behaviours, and, as has been previously suggested, rare varieties of addiction. That he overcame these obstacles to become one of the first non-nobles to ascend to the Board of the Imperial College speaks volumes both for his manly character and, of course, for the class-blind and deeply democratic principles that have always been at the very core of the Royal Scientific order, if not always visible on its surface.
Jeremiah Congleve, Reflecting
An informal portrait of young Master Jeremiah Congleve, Tertiary Journeyman at the Royal Aetheric Engineering Academy. In later life, Congreve’s work with filamental liquid phenomena would revolutionize phlebotic medicine, military strategy, and commercial air transport; but during his student and journeyman years he struggled with personal demons (of the psychological, rather than phantasmal variety), inappropriate social behaviours, and, as has been previously suggested, rare varieties of addiction. That he overcame these obstacles to become one of the first non-nobles to ascend to the Board of the Imperial College speaks volumes both for his manly character and, of course, for the class-blind and deeply democratic principles that have always been at the very core of the Royal Scientific order, if not always visible on its surface.