Your Halloween VAMPIRE Playlist!

It’s our favorite time of year here at The Journals of Dr. Franken-Steve, and to get us in the mood for All Hallow’s Eve, we’re queuing up a hit parade of monster music. Since we’ve previously listed our fave Frankenstein tunes in honor of FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN, this time we’re going to do some bloodsucking bootie-shakin’ with those beloved members of the undead…VAMPIRES. So sink your fangs into these Top Vamp Tracks!

  1. “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” by Concrete Blonde: If you have the “ways and means to New Orleans,” then tune in to this ultimate vamp anthem that would make Ann Rice proud.
  2. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus: My own vampire bride Kelly Dunn debates whether this track really “counts” as a vampire song since it concerns the eponymous deceased actor and not the celebrated Count he played. I say any tune whose chorus is “Undead, undead, undead” belongs on this list. This brooding eulogy to Bela, the greatest Dracula of all time, is arguably the greatest Goth song of all time.
  3. “Love Song for a Vampire” by Annie Lennox: This beautiful, elegiac ballad was by far the most memorable thing about the Francis Ford Coppola film Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And someone should get Lennox to play a vampire—she’d be great!
  4. “Flesh and Bone” by Burning Brides: A wonderfully eerie and seductive song from the soundtrack to the criminally underrated vampire comedy rock musical film Suck. Burning Brides lead singer Dmitri Coats also played the goofy yet somehow still creepy vampire villain “Queenie” in the movie.
  5. “Moon Over Bourbon Street” by Sting: Speaking of New Orleans…the Big Easy seems to be Vampire Central for North America, and one could easily see Louis or Lestat nodding in agreement with this nameless narrator’s lament.
  6. “Vampires in Love” by The Misfits: A rocking punk ode to love between bloodsuckers.
  7. “Vampire Blues” by Neil Young: A deep cut from Mr. Young that indicts the real-life corporate leeches that are bleeding our planet dry. The rock legend played this rarity live for the first time ever this past year, suggesting how scarily relevant this cautionary lyric has become.
  8. “Drac’s Back” by The Bollock Brothers: A hilarious disco/rap cover version of a novelty song by singer and actor Andy Forray. Wait ’til you hear the backup singers squeal as Drac says, “I want to suck your…”!
  9. “Suck” by The Winners: Did somebody say “Suck”? This is the catchy title track to the aforementioned film of the same title. The movie’s ironically-named fictional rock band, the Winners are anything but. The comedy musical was written and directed by the multitalented Rob Stefaniuk, who also plays the Winners’ hapless lead singer and guitarist, and it features hysterical cameos from such rock luminaries as Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Alex Lifeson, and Henry Rollins. A must-see for all rock and vamp fans!
  10. “Lost Boys” by The 69 Eyes: This great Goth metal band from Finland sings in English and draws inspiration from many favorite Hollywood horror movies—in this case, the beloved vamp vehicle for Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Feldman. Another cool undead record by the band: “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn”
  11. “Nosferatu” by The Scared Stiffs: A splendidly moody instrumental by one of the best Halloween rock bands to haunt the night.
  12. “Vampires” by Godsmack: Spoken-word narration speculates on the psychological allure of vampirism while fuzzy, alt-rock guitars jam in the background in another Goth classic.
  13. “Vampire Girl” by Jonathan Richman: An infectious and funny paean to the vampire girl of your dreams.
  14. “Dracula’s Wedding” by OutKast: The ultimate love-’em-and-leave-’em bachelor confronts his own greatest fear: commitment. And you gotta love any disco-funk track that features a sinister harpsichord, right? 

Whew! That’s a lot of bats! And there’s plenty of other prime vamp tracks out there—we’d love to hear any of your pet tunes that we might have missed.

And to make your Halloween season complete, why not grab a copy of the ultimate monster read, FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN? The handsome Shadowridge Press paperback edition is available at the special discounted price of ONLY $9.99 for the holiday season, and you can get free shipping on qualifying orders. See the order page below for details:

 

Kindle readers can currently grab a copy of the FRAULEIN ebook for only $1.99 here:

 

Happy reading, and stay tuned for more “monster hits”!

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Get your FRAULEIN on for Halloween! Only 99 Cents!

Fall is in the air, ghosts are in the graveyard, bats are in the belfry, and the Things That Go Bump In the Night are starting to boogie, which can mean only one thing: Halloween is just around the corner! And what better way to celebrate your Season of Monster than spending it with the Queen of Monsters–FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN! Just in time for Halloween, the Kindle ebook of FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN is on sale for ONLY 99 CENTS. If you’ve been looking for the perfect book to put you in the monster mood, this is your chance! Here’s the link to order:

FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN Kindle Ebook Order Page

And for those of you who prefer paper books, don’t forget about the beautiful Shadowridge Press edition, also available through Amazon:

FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN Paperback Order Page

Let all your freaky friends know where to get their best monster fix for the Pumpkin Time! Thanks for reading, and Happy pre-Halloween!

FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN for Only 99 Cents!

FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN, the thrilling Gothic novel by Stephen Woodworth, New York Times best-selling author of Through Violet Eyes, is on special for ONLY 99 CENTS!

Her fate has become lost in legends. Some say her creator destroyed her; others believe fearful villagers burned her alive. Now, the mate that Victor Frankenstein created for his monster reveals her true story, from her awakening on the slab in the scientist’s laboratory, through her tortured initiation into human society, to her desperate quest for a love of her own…even if she has to manufacture the lover she wants. Get the Kindle ebook of FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN  for ONLY 99 CENTS on this page at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Fraulein-Frankenstein-Stephen-Woodworth-ebook/dp/B01HIU3PUG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499292201&sr=1-1&keywords=fraulein+frankenstein

But hurry! This offer is only good until July 11, 2017. Get your copy TODAY!

 

Learn the Mysteries of “THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK”!

Hark, monster mavens! You have a new creature of the night to fear–THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK!

For years, your humble author has been a rabid fan of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s wonderful audio adaptations of the classic stories by the Gentleman from Providence. Dark Adventure Radio Theatre performs full-cast dramatizations of the horror master’s works in the style of ’30s radio shows, complete with sound effects. (Except way better sound–it’s in stereo!)

It was a bucket-list ambition of mine to work with these incredibly talented folks on one of these productions, and HPLHS masterminds Sean Branney and Andrew Leman were generous enough to allow me to collaborate with them on the script for Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.” This story has long been a sentimental favorite of mine, for it was not only Lovecraft’s last major work, it was dedicated to my hero Robert Bloch, a Lovecraft correspondent and the celebrated author of Psycho and other great works of horror. The tale even features a hapless young writer named “Robert Blake” who falls under the sinister influence of an entity in an abandoned Providence church with an evil history. I urge everyone to check out the just-released “THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK” compact disc at the HPLHS website here:

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: HAUNTER OF THE DARK

As always, HPLHS has stuffed their CD packaging with ultra-cool free bonus keepsakes, including authentic-looking newspaper articles, letters, and other documents from the world of the story. I speak from experience: once you try one, you’ll want to collect them all!

Hope you enjoy the show! I’d love to hear what you think.

Before Fraulein…before Frankenstein…there was the GOLEM!

A scholar with arcane knowledge utilizes forbidden forces to bring a manufactured being to blasphemous life. When the hulking, misbegotten monster goes berserk, the horrified creator takes desperate action to destroy his wayward creation.

Does this story sound familiar, Franken-freaks? Any monster maven will recognize the concept as the basis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the many works that have since emulated it. But the tale I’ve just described predates Shelley’s great Gothic novel, its mythological roots extending back centuries. The creature is the golem of Jewish folklore, arguably the first “man-made” monster in Western culture and a possible progenitor of Victor Frankenstein’s creation.

The Hebrew word golem originally referred to a “shapeless mass,” and, indeed, the golem of legend began as a formless lump of clay, which a Jewish Kabbalist sculpted into a hulking humanoid form. The sorcerer then brought the creature to life through the use of magic Hebrew words. In some cases, the word would be scrawled on a parchment and placed in the creature’s mouth; in other instances, the word was inscribed on the figure’s forehead or chest. While animated, the golem would be its creator’s slave, bound to do his bidding. By removing or altering the magic words, the magician could again reduce the monster to an inert statue.

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References to golems appear in texts as old as the Talmud, but by far the most famous tale of such a creature is that of the Golem of Prague. In the late 16th century, Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel ostensibly created a powerful golem to defend the Jewish community in Prague from harassment by hostile locals. However, he made sure to deactivate the sentinel statue every Friday evening so that it would not disturb the devout Jews on the Sabbath the following day. One fateful Friday, however, the rabbi became preoccupied and forgot to incapacitate the golem. The clay being went on a rampage, and Rabbi Loew was forced to risk his own life to stop the monster. Although he stilled the golem once and for all, legend has it that he kept the dormant clay figure in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue in Prague, where it remains ready to be revivified if the Jewish people ever need its protection again.

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My wife and colleague Kelly Dunn and I recently had the pleasure of visiting the ancient and wonderful city of Prague, once the seat of the Kingdom of Bohemia, now the capital of the Czech Republic. The city still venerates Rabbi Loew with a statue in his honor outside the new town hall. As luck would have it, we arrived just before the Sabbath and did not have a chance to go inside the Old-New Synagogue, which was preparing for worship. (Incidentally, we never received an explanation of the apparent oxymoron of the landmark’s name. I imagine that, in the distant past, someone built the city’s first synagogue. Then, when the present building was constructed sometime in the 13th century, it became the “New Synagogue.” At some later date, an even newer synagogue opened its doors, resulting in the confusing taxonomy, like so: “Oh, no, that’s the New-New Synagogue! You want the Old-New Synagogue.”) Kelly and I cannot tell you what, if anything, lies in the attic of that holy place…but that figure behind Kelly in the photo below makes me wonder.

Kelly and Golem

 

Given the similarities between the two narratives, it is tempting to think that the cautionary tale of the Golem of Prague might have inspired Mary Shelley as she conceived of Frankenstein. Certainly, the image of Rabbi Loew and his misshapen figure of animate clay springs to mind when Shelley, in her introduction to the 1831 edition of the book, describes the nightmare that inspired her novel:

I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision,—the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.

In the novel, Victor Frankenstein even speaks of striving “to animate the lifeless clay,” as if his monster of flesh were a sculpted golem. Although film adaptations show Frankenstein assembling his creature from body parts harvested from cadavers, some scholars have pointed out that, in the novel, the scientist seems to fashion the raw material of his monster from scratch, so to speak. Mary Shelley cleverly uses this fact to explain the creature’s gargantuan size:

            As the minuteness of the parts formed a great hindrance to my speed, I resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the being of gigantic stature, that is to say, about eight feet in height, and proportionably large.

Like any pragmatic engineer, Frankenstein modifies his prototype to make it easier to work on. Miniaturization can wait until the product is ready for mass production!

As appealing as it is to theorize that Mary Shelley had the story of the Golem of Prague in mind when conceiving of Frankenstein, she makes no explicit reference to the fable in her writings. Indeed, in his article “The Golem of Prague” (Fortean Times #238, August 2008), Czech journalist Ivan Mackerle states that he was unable to find any account of the story in historical documents from the 16th and 17th centuries and says the apocryphal narrative of Rabbi Loew may be an elaboration on a legend brought to Prague by Hassidic Jews from Poland in the early 1800s—too late for Shelley to have used it as the basis for her horror story. Still, Mary Shelley seems to have tapped into the universal archetype the golem represents and reinvented it for the modern age by making its genesis scientific rather than magical, a topic I addressed in this earlier blog post.

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Although not, strictly speaking, science fiction, the cautionary tale of the Golem of Prague could be said to have engendered an entire subgenre of sf, for it is the primordial “Bad Robot” story. It comes as no coincidence, therefore, that in 1920, almost 400 years after Rabbi Loew, Prague also gave the world its first actual Bad Robot story, a science-fictional play entitled R.U.R. by the Czech writer Karel Čapek. The abbreviation stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots, a fictional company in the play that manufactures the world’s first line of artificial humanoids. Karel, with the assistance of his brother Joseph Čapek, derived the term “robot” from the Czech word robota, which can mean either “hard work” or “slave labor.”

The robots in the drama are not mechanical, however, but rather an assemblage of fabricated biological organs and tissue—again, shades of Frankenstein. Like the Golem of Prague, Rossum’s robot servants turn on the humans they were created to serve, rising up in violent rebellion. The play ends with the new beings virtually exterminating humanity—a sobering finale to us in the 21st century, where genetic engineering and burgeoning artificial intelligence threaten to make the grim prognostications of Shelley and Čapek a reality.

Capek_RUR

Somewhere, Rabbi Loew shakes his head sadly…and a sleeping golem awaits its ultimate resurrection.

If this post whet your appetite for more monster mayhem, be sure to check out the Kindle ebook of FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN at Amazon here.

And don’t forget that I will be signing copies of the fabulous Shadowridge Press paperback edition of FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN at the venerable Dark Delicacies horror bookstore in Burbank, California, at 4pm on Saturday, July 8th.

You’ll also have the opportunity to get signed copies of books by other wonderful Shadowridge Press authors, including Dennis Etchison (The Death Artist, Red Dreams, The Blood Kiss), Tracy Carbone (The Proteus Cave, The Rainbox), and my ONE NIGHT AT THE VILLA DIODATI co-authors Kelly Dunn (Beloved of the Fallen, editor of Mutation Nation) and the irrepressible Peter Atkins (screenwriter of Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Wishmaster and author of Morningstar, Big Thunder, and Rumours of the Marvellous). We’ll have copies of the DIODATI chapbook available for purchase and signing, as well. Here’s a link to the Dark Delicacies website for more info, including directions to the store:

Dark Delicacies Bookstore Website

For those who can’t make it to Burbank on July 8th, you’ll be happy to hear that Dark Delicacies will take your pre-orders over the phone, and will ship your order for an extra charge. All of us at Shadowridge Press would like to express our sincere gratitude to Del and Sue Howison of Dark Delicacies for hosting the event.

Hope to see you all there!

Mark Your Monster Calendar! FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN Book Signing!

Greetings, Friends of FRAULEIN! I wanted to let you all know that I will be signing copies of the fabulous Shadowridge Press paperback edition of FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN at the venerable Dark Delicacies horror bookstore in Burbank, California, at 4pm on Saturday, July 8th.

You’ll also have the opportunity to get signed copies of books by other wonderful Shadowridge Press authors, including Dennis Etchison (The Death Artist, Red Dreams, The Blood Kiss), Tracy Carbone (The Proteus Cave, The Rainbox), and my ONE NIGHT AT THE VILLA DIODATI co-authors Kelly Dunn (Beloved of the Fallen, editor of Mutation Nation) and the irrepressible Peter Atkins (screenwriter of Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Wishmaster and author of Morningstar, Big Thunder, and Rumours of the Marvellous). We’ll have copies of the DIODATI chapbook available for purchase and signing, as well. Here’s a link to the Dark Delicacies website for more info, including directions to the store:

Dark Delicacies Bookstore Website

For those who can’t make it to Burbank on July 8th, you’ll be happy to hear that Dark Delicacies will take your pre-orders over the phone, and will ship your order for an extra charge. All of us at Shadowridge Press would like to express our sincere gratitude to Del and Sue Howison of Dark Delicacies for hosting the event.

Hope to see you all there!

 

Here She Comes to Save the Day…for only 99 CENTS! Your New Superhero–FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN!

Prettier than Superman! Battier than Batman! Deader than Deadpool! Yes, it’s your new superhero FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN! And she’s currently a Kindle Monthly Deal on Amazon, which means you can get the ebook of the novel for ONLY 99 CENTS! So let FRAULEIN save *your* day. Check out the deal at the link below:

FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN Amazon Order Page

But hurry! This deal is only good for the month of May.

And don’t forget–if you prefer a copy of FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN you can hold in your hot little hands, there is now a handsome paperback edition available from Shadowridge Press. Here’s the order page:

FRAULEIN Paperback Order Page

Thanks for reading, and please LIKE and SHARE this post with your friends so everyone can enjoy the FRAULEIN FRANKENSTEIN special offer.