Malificent (PG: 2014)

malificent

Malificent (Rated PG – Released May 2014)

Starring: Directed By: Robert Stromberg, Written by Linda Woolverton, Charles Perrault, and others. Starring: Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, Elle Fanning as Aurora, Sharlto Copley as Stefan, Lesley Manville as Flittle, Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass, Juno Temple as Thistlewit, and many others. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1587310/.
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I’m really digging the fact that Walt Disney and other major film companies are starting to get on track with depicting fairy tales with “real faeries” as is becoming the artsy trend these days in media, film, and music. They were golden with how they manifested Snow White and the Huntsman I didn’t think the film wizards could do any better with the classics – wrong was I. “Malificent” is in that tradition, embedded deep into the faerie realms and the struggles between humans and the fae, following true folklore about faeries and iron, and much of historical folklore as accurate as they could go. It is the classic retelling (and most probable more authentic of the Sleeping Beauty myth if there was one in history). A young powerful faerie girl well respected in Faerieland as “Malificent” goes and befriends a young human mortal who stumbled into the protected realms. They begin a long childhood friendship which leads up to the guise of “true love” only to meet the ever-told fate between fae and humans that humans will always cross the fae. This throws Malificent into a darkness after she loses her wings and seeks revenge on the wrongdoer. She curses his child into a “sleeping beauty” enchantment that not even she could break, only to be broken by a kiss of true love – which she believed did not exist. As time passes she falls for the young cursed one only to despair that she couldn’t break the curse she cast. Battles between the humans and the magical folk build up high action and turmoil leaving you on the edge of your seat. Ents, Dryads, Pixies, Elves, Dragons, and other magical folk animate your imagination as malificent finds her way back to the fate of her beautiful wings. Just how I would have imagined “Sleeping Beauty”. Rating: 5 stars out of 5 [rating:5]

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The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Based in the town of “Sleepy Hollow”, New York formerly known as “North Tarrytown” experiencing the name change to honor this story in 1996. The tale is not documented as an actual legend, but rather a tale by the American author Washington Irving while he was traveling abroad in Birmingham, England. He was a resident of North Tarrytown, New York and used the area as a setting for his short story. Irving included it in a collection of short stories and essays he wrote in 1820 called the “Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a classic example of American fiction, alongside his masterpiece “Rip Van Winkle” which made Washington Irving become a legend in the literary world. As of an “actual” headless horsemen, there exists no evidence of a prior legend or reporting in the means of how Washington Irving told the tale, though there does exist a headless corpse buried in a unmarked grave in the Old Dutch Burying Ground (Sleepy Hollow Cemetery) that matches the “Headless Horseman’s” lack of a head and being a Hessian soldier. (The Full legend and short story can be read here: http://www.sleepyhollowcemetery.org/sleepy-hollow-country/the-legend/. )

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The story details Sleepy Hollow and its inhabitants living there in 1790 around the historical Tarrytown as it existed in that day. The area was inhabited by all Dutch settler descendants who moved to this sleepy little glen called “Sleepy Hollow” by Irving’s story which was already basked in myths and legends making it a dreamy and drowsy place even before this tale came to be. Full of ghost stories and the paranormal, Sleepy Hollow was the perfect place for the existence of the spirit of a Headless Horseman. He was seen by some as the most popular curse upon the village, as he was apparently a ghost of a angry Hessian trooper who lost his head by a stray cannonball during the American Revolution and “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head” eager to victimize those of ego and arrogance. The tale involves the local superstitious ego-centric school master named Ichabod Crane who was after the hand in marriage of 18 year old farmer’s daughter Katrina Van Tassel. He was in competition for the proposal with the town mischief maker named Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt. Crane was after the farmer’s wealth, Van Tassel estate, and saw marriage to Katrina as a way to obtain that status. “Brom Bones” however, also interested in Katrina, was interested in her for love. In his fight for the bride, he tries to mishap and veer Ichabod away from Katrina by performing numerous pranks on Crane, based around Crane’s paranoia and superstitions. Tensions become high, and during the annual Van Tassel harvest party, Crane is told ghostly legends of the area by Brom Bones and the locals. Crane is made so jumpy and nervous on that night that his intended proposal to Katrina was interrupted. He rides home “heavy-hearten and crest fallen” through the ghostly woods that the locals and Brom Bones told the tales of … edgy and spooked traveling from the Van Tassel farm to the Sleepy Hollow settlement. He passes by the tulip tree that had been struck by lightning and was reputedly haunted by Major André, the British spy. Instead of seeing that specter, he sees a cloaked rider at an intersection to the menacing swamp. This cloaked rider approaches him and rides alongside Crane. The man, large stature and size, appears to Crane not to have a head on his shoulders, but rather a decapitated cranium sitting on his saddle. Crane becomes spooked and races off to the bridge next to the Old Dutch cemetery. Upon reaching the bridge, the Headless Horseman vanished “in a flash of fire and brimstone” upon crossing the bridge. Ichabod crosses the bridge, but not before the specter re-appears on the bridge and hurls his head into Crane’s face. The next day, Ichabod could not be found except for his wandering horse, trampled saddle, discarded hat, and a mysterious shattered pumpkin. With Ichabod Crane nowhere in sight, the match with “Brom Bones” for Katrina’s hand in marriage was forfeited. Brom and Katrina married. Suspicion amongst the villagers bounced between believing the legend and “Brom Bones” being the villain who had the stature and size of the Headless Horseman. Many believe it was Brom in disguise, playing on Ichabod’s fears, and as a prank used to scare off Crane. However the Old Wives tales prevailed, stating that Crane indeed was “spirited away by supernatural means” and thereby increasing stories (mainly fabricated) of numerous sightings of the Headless Horseman to this very day.

Folklorists compare the American short story to the German folktale of “the Wild Huntsman” when a phantom races through the woods atop a horse scaring trespassers out of the forest. This tale most probably was the one that inspired Irving during this travels through Germany to concoct the tale of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

The German folklorist Karl Musäus states that the Headless horsemen was a staple of Northern European storytelling especially in Germany (“The Wild Huntsman”), Ireland (“Dullahan”), Scandinavia (“the Wild Hunt”), and English legends. These “headless” horsemen would race through the countryside with their decapitated heads tucked under their arms, often followed by hordes of coal-black hounds with fiery tongues (demon dogs). Folklore would talk of these as being omens of ill-fortune for those who chose to disregard their apparitions. These ghosts would mainly focus on individuals who had egos and arrogance, were overly proud, and/or scheming persons with misguided intentions such as the likes of Ichabod Crane. There are other folk tales and poems of a supernatural wild chase including Robert Burns’ 1790 “Tam o’ Shanter” and Bürger’s Der wilde Jäger, translated as the 1796 “The Wild Huntsman”.

The legend of Sleepy Hollow is classified as a fictional tale. It was set on a local bridge in Sleepy Hollow that crossed the Pocantico River into the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Irving most likely incorporated local residents as characters in the tale, whereas Katrina’s character has been matched by folklorists to local resident Elanor Van Tassel Brush. However, there is ample evidence to make it an actual legend based on place names, characters, and history leading to the fabricated tale by Washington Irving. There was a farm owned by Cornelius and Elizabeth Van Tassel that was raided by English and Hessian soldiers in November 1777. They tried to fight off the invaders which led to their farmhouse being burnt down and their family being held hostage. While they watched in horror as their farmhouse was burning, Elizabeth could not find their baby Leah anywhere, and upon trying to run into the flames to search for her baby, was interrupted by a Hessian soldier who led her to a shed where Leah was safely wrapped up in a blanket safe and sound. The family was so grateful to this soldier for the safety of their baby. After the event, when a Hessian soldier was found in Tarrytown (around the area now called Sleepy Hollow) dead missing his head, they gave him a proper Christian burial and buried him in the Old Dutch Burial Ground (now Sleepy Hollow Cemetery) in case he was the soldier who saved their baby.

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Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow was one of the historical sites where many battles and events of the American Revolutionary War took place, and was a great backdrop for this invented myth as many matching actual reports of hauntings and ghostly sightings that pervade the area. After these battles were done, a 30 mile stretch of scorched desolated lands were left to outlaws, raiders, and the corpses of the dead. One of those corpses was indeed a headless corpse of a Hessian soldier nicknamed Mr. Jäger found in Sleepy Hollow after a violent skirmish took place there. He corpse was buried by the Van Tassel family in a unmarked grave at the Old Dutch Burying Ground. While Washington Irving served New York Governor Daniel D. Tompkins, he had met an army captain named Ichabod Crane during an inspection tour of the fortifications in 1814. This meeting took place in Sackets Harbor, New York and not Sleepy Hollow. This meeting most likely inspired him to name the character as the schoolmaster for the name, and the schoolmaster image as Jesse Merwin, a local teacher in Kinderhook, New York he also inspired Irving.

This short story has been one the most well studied and examined of tales of its time and of Washington Irving’s works. Numerous re-tellings and re-writings have come about through the ages. Numerous plays, films, and television shows were done to memorialize the legend such as Edward Venturini’s silent 1922 silent film “The Headless Horseman” playing Will Rogers as Ichabod Crane; 1948 Broadway Musical “Sleepy Hollow”; Walt Disney’s “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” in 1949; Disney’s 1958 “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; the 1980 Henning Schellerup “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” television classic; 1988 PBS adaption; The one-act stage adaptation by Kathryn Schultz Miller in 1989 called “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; Nickelodeon’s 1992 “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” episode “The Tale of the Midnight Ride”; Rocko’s Modern Life “Sugar-Frosted Frights” parodie; Canadian television’s 1999 “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; The 1999 Speaker and Orchestra 15-minute composition by Robert Lichtenberger called “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; and the most famous 1999 Tim Burton’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” starring Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Casper Van Dien, and Christopher Walken. The Legend continued through film and audio tellings with the 1999 computer animated classic “The Night of the Headless Horseman” by Fox; Porchlight Entertainments 2002 “The Haunted Pumpkin of Sleepy Hollow”; Steven J. Smith, Jr.’s 2004 “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in Concert”; the television movie by ABC Family Channel in 2004 called “The Hollow”; 2004 “Charmed” episode of “The Legend of Sleepy Halliwell”; PBS “Wishbone” series “Halloween Hound: The Legend of Creepy Collars”; The 2009 Opera “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Robert Milne; William Withem and Melanie Helton’s 2009 Legend of Sleepy Hollow Opera; the Jim Christian and Tom Edward Clark 2009 Musical “Sleepy Hollow”; The 2011 Hunter Foster book and play called “The Hollow”; Darkstuff Productions 2012 adapted Legend of Sleepy Hollow; and in 2013 a Fox TV series pilot called “Sleepy Hollow” is in production as a modern tale.

North Tarrytown in 1996 changed their name to “Sleepy Hollow” as a memorial to Washington Irving, and its local high school team are called “The Horsemen”, by 2006 a large statue of the Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod Crane was erected, and since 1996 at the Philipsburg Manor holds a Legend Weekend where the story is retold and played out just before Halloween.

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Gargoyle (R: 2004)

gargoyle-movie

Gargoyle (Rated R: 2004. 84 minutes – Action / Fantasy / Horror. Russian produced.)

Director: Jim Wynorski. Starring: Michael Paré as Ty “Griff” Griffin; Sandra Hess as Jennifer Wells; Fintan McKeown as Father Nikolai Soren; Kate Orsini as Dr. Christina Durant; Tim Abell as Lex; William Langlois as Inspector Zev Aslan; Petri Roega as Father Adrian Bodesti; Rene Rivera as Gogol; and more.

Storyline tackles an age-old tale about a Christian priest killing off one of the world’s last gargoyles whose body falls down a hole into the earth that they seal with “the blood of Christ”. Jump to modern day where a CIA agent is sent to Bucharest with his partner to investigate numerous kidnappings and while trying to bust the thiefs, an earthquake releases a gargoyle from inner earth out to wreak havoc around the city. This gargoyle, ready to breed and multiply is also out for vengeance, and tracking down the only crossbow known to kill him. Effects are plain and definitely poorly done CGI. Plot has value, flow had errors, and after trying to watch this over 2 late nights, I fell asleep midway twice. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.

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Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods (R: 2012)

Cabin in the Woods ~ (Rated R: 2012)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1259521/ * Director: Drew Goddard. * Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. * Starring: Kristen Connolly as Dana; Chris Hemsworth as Curt; Anna Hutchison as Jules; Fran Kranz as Marty; Jesse Williams as Holden; Richard Jenkins as Sitterson; Bradley Whitford as Hadley; Brian White as Truman and many others.

Within the last several years Hollywood and the film industry has been evolving and expanding the classical monster tale, as we watched through the ages meandering from Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Werewolf, and Count Dracula towards a whole different species of Werewolves, vampires, and zombies. Then came the serial killers obsessed with pain, torture, maiming, and realistic grotesque murder sprees self styled after Ted Bundy, Fred West, or Jeffrey Dalmer only to exaggerate to supernatural tales of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now a new sense of horror, going back to supernatural beliefs on Witches, Druids, Spirits, and creatures from the races of Darker Faeries come crawling out from their sidhe with vicious mermaids and mer-men, leprechauns, gremlins, goblins, orcs, giants, and titans. The Old God/desses are being brought back to life. What one would imagine would be a typical hack n’ slash film by the title of “Cabin in the Woods” turned to a conspiracy theorie, Dark ancient Deities tale of human sacrifice at a high corporate level ploy to satiate the “ancient ones”. None other than a tale weaved by Buffy’s Joss Whedon to give that twisted plot some fantastical depth. These five friends go on vacation to a remote cabin in the woods, only to find them trapped and manipulated in a pseudo-realm where they are lined up to voluntarily sacrifice themselves to the dark spirits.

The five college-aged kids head off to a friend’s cabin in the woods and lose all communication with the outside world. During “party time” and unwinding, the cellar door mysteriously flips open, only to involved a truth or “dare” to investigate the darkness. Within is a treasure trove of artifacts, each with a secret and a beast to unleash. Meanwhile they are monitored by a high tech secret lab where the white coats bet on which creature they will face – Pinhead, the Mer-man, flesh eating zombies, a ghoul, or a prehistoric monster of dinosaur proportions. Dana reads from the diary of an imbred hillybilly family thereby awakening the now family of deadly murderous zombies. But this is not the only laboratory experiment of what supernatural creatures will be unleashed, as the lab coats are monitoring similar setups from around the world, hopeful of a successful stint with the cabin. As each of the college kids get knocked off, the ploy backfires as the “virgin” saved for the last, teamed up with the brainy pot-head discover the conspiracy and find their way down into depths uncovering an ancient temple lair holding back the ancient Titans from destroying the Earth – satiated by an annual sacrifice that was planned. None of the scenarios work out for the guardians and literally “all hell breaks loose” as magical and supernatural beings, creatures, and monsters look at the lab coats and armed forces as a smorgasboard brunch. The Director of the agency, played by Sigourney Weaver, tells them the truth that the ritual involving sacrifice of the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty), and the Virgin (Dana) was to appease the “Ancient Ones” who lived beneath the facility. They had to die in archetypical order until the virgin remained. Werewolves, mer-creatures, unicorns, ghouls, zombies, and a giant serpent take their wraith. The Ancient ones rise to destroy the facility and the cabin. While an element of “kitch” and whacky elements loomed over the film, the special effects and deep mythical supernatural plot humored and entertained me. [Rating:4] Rating of four stars out of five. ~ Reviewed by Leaf McGowan.

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Thor, God of Thunder & Lightning

Thor ~ a.k.a. “God of Thunder”, Ţórr (Old Norse), Ţunor, Ţunraz, or Donar (German), or ţonar ????? (Runic).
~ The Germanic and Norse God of Thunder, lightning, storms, strength, oak trees, protection of mankind, healing, fertility, and hallowing.

From earlier than the Ragnarok mythology onwards to the 2011 Hollywood blockbuster film of the same name, “Thor” has been a stable part of human history, folklore, and mythology. He is commonly depicted as a “God of storms, thunder, lightning, oak trees, and/or strength” in most of his history throughout proto Indo-European religions and faiths. In Academic literature, he is mentioned alot from the Roman occupation of Germania, during tribal expansions of the Migration Period, from the Viking Age, and to the incorporation of Christianity into Scandinavia as well as Ireland. The English day “Thursday” is named after him as “Thor’s Day”. He is often described as red haired (head and beard), muscular, and fierce-eyed carrying his war hammer “Mjöllnir”, wearing his iron gloves “Járngreipr”, sporting his “Megingjörđ” belt, and brandishing his “Gríđarvölr” staff. He is the son of Odin and Fjörgyn (Earth). From his father Odin, he has several brothers. He was married to the Golden haired Goddess “Sif”, Lover to “jötunn Járnsaxa”, father of the God/desses Ţrúđr (valkyrie through Sif), Magni (through Jarnsaxa), Móđi (through an unknown mother), and stepfather of Ullr. He has two very close servants – Ţjálfi and Röskva. He has two favorite goats that pulls his chariot “Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr”.

Throughout Norse myth, “Thor” is mentioned in numerous tales, and is referred to as potentially upwards of 14 different names. He is often corresponded to the Gaulish God of Thunder “Toran” or “Taran” and the Irish God “Tuireann”. He has been attributed with living in three dwellings through his history which are Bilskirnir, Ţrúđheimr, and Ţrúđvangr. He is often depicted as “reckless” and notable for the mass slaughter of his foes. He invokes fear and terror in battle, and it is with the mythical battle with the dragon-like serprent “Jörmungandr” in Ragnarok that he is very popular. He also was written about much in Viking Age folklore as “Th?rr” and is where in written history, he is first known. This was the period of time when he was the most popular as a defiant response to Christianity trying to take hold in the lands where they fused. Many “Vikings” often wore talismans representing his war hammer to oppose Christianity. As most of German history was unwritten, much of the written lore about Thor in relation to the Germanic peoples was done by their conquerors, the Romans. Within these writings, he was often merged with the Roman God Jupiter or Jove, or Hercules as first found in the works of Tacitus. He appeared on Roman votive objects and coins dating in Germanic regions as early as the 2nd and 3rd century of the Common Era (C.E. / A.D.). The first recorded instance of his name as “Donar” was on the Nordendorf fibula jewelry in the 7th century C.E. in Bavaria. By 723 C.E., Saint Boniface felled a oak tree dedicated to “Jove” which was called the “Donar Oak” in Fritzlar, Hesse, Germany. In the 8th century, there were numerous tales about “Thunor” (Old English version of “Thor”), as well as the poem “Solomon and Saturn” and the expression ţunnorad (“thunder ride”). In the 9th century, the Old Saxon Baptismal Vow In Mainz, Germany records his name in directions on how to get Germanic Pagans to renounce their native Gods as Demons. By the 11th century, Adam of Bremen describes a statue of Thor in the “Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum” that sits in the Temple at Uppsala in Gamla Uppsala, Sweden listing “Thor” as the ruler of the sky, governor of thunder and lightning, storms, winds, fine weather, and fertility. He was also described as looking like Jupiter. It is also at this time that two notable archaeological artifacts with runic inscriptions invoking Thor were created in England (aka “The Canterbury Charm” to call Thor for healing a wound by banishing a thurs) and Sweden (aka “the Kvinneby amulet” to bring forth protection by Thor and his hammer). By the 12th century, after Christianity took hold in Norway, Thor was still found heavily worshipped and invoked by the Norse for help. Iconography at this time of King Olaf II of Norway being christianized also held Thor’s elements and depictions. The 13th century “Poetic Edda” which was compiled from traditional sources from Pagan eras, Thor is mentioned in the poems Völuspá, Grímnismál, Skírnismál, Hárbarđsljóđ, Hymiskviđa, Lokasenna, Ţrymskviđa, Alvíssmál, and Hyndluljóđ. “Völuspá” tells a tale and premonition of the future talking about the Death of Thor as he would be doing battle with the great serpent during Ragnarok and dying from its venom. It is after this that the sky turns black as fire engulfs the world, the stars disappear, flames will dance in the sky, steam will rise, the world will be flooded with water, and earth will appear again green and fertile. Through this rebirth, Thor reappears wading through the rivers Körmt, Örmt, and the two Kerlaugar where he will sit as judge at the base of the Yggdrasil (cosmological world tree). He is then depicted as travelling “from the east” by means of a ferryman Hárbarđr who is Odin is disguise and is rude to him refusing him passage forcing Thor to walk.
He arrives at Ćgir’s home telling Ćgir he must prepare feasts for the Gods.

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Ondine (PG-13: 2010)

 

Ondine (PG-13: 2010)
* Rated: 5 stars out of 5 * Starring: Colin Farrell … Syracuse; Alicja Bachleda … Ondine; Dervla Kirwan … Maura; Alison Barry … Annie; Marion O’Dwyer … Nurse – Dialysis; Tony Curran … Alex; and many more. * Director: Neil Jordan * http://www.ondinefilm.com/ *
A modern Irish lyrical faerie tale about a fisherman named Syracuse who pulls up a stunning woman in his net called “Ondine”. Her name means “She who came from the sea” and begins to believe his daughter’s theory that Ondine is a selchie or mermaid, a seal woman who in Celtic myth is believed to be able to become human by taking off her seal coat in order to pursue love with a human. They begin to treat Ondine like she is a selchie as many oddities in the situation, the events, and the tale is mystical and tragic. Whenever Ondine is aboard the fishing vessel and sings her siren song, his nets are filled with bounty. It becomes a torrid love affair that turns out to have an even crazier origin of truth. Beautifully woven tale embedded in myth. Brought tears to my eyes and edge of your seat excitement. Why can’t I pull up a beautiful selchie like that in my fishing nets? Amazing plot, storyline, and cinematography.

 

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