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Review: “The Lair of the White Worm” by Bram Stoker (2 1/2 Stars)

A meandering gothic tale of wormish fiends, overshadowed by a giant kite and frequent supper respites.

Written just before the author’s death, many reviewers have speculated that the writing suffered horribly as a result. There are seemingly random point-of-view switches (not set off by modern-standard breaks), dead end plots, confusing motivations of character, and staring contests (yes, mandatory staring contests that nobody can seem to avoid). Oh yeah, horribly offensive racist elements that probably even exceed what one might expect from this time period can be found in this work.

Most times when a book is read it should be considered on its own terms. For this book, the proper placement in history, literature and an open mind do very little to help the story elevate to any kind of level worth reading.

Despite all this, there are some interesting elements that rise up from the tattered ruins like dinosaur bones poking out of a primordial swamp. My favorite of which was an ominous kite that seemed to cast a strange influence over the characters and setting and even figure into the plot proper. The White Worm and its legend and place of abode are also intriguing and bolster up the back-story. The writing itself is very manageable for being an older work.

What mainly works in this story is the horror elements and the insufferable madness that rots the brains of the two chief antagonists: Lady Arabella and Edgar Caswall. The author does a decent job of describing their increasing descent into evil chaos. We seem to know what’s driving Lady Arabella’s ambitions and Caswall’s possessiveness. In contrast, the protagonists feel a bit like fluff as they wrestle with all the evil surrounding them. The African character is made to be one-dimensional and the other character’s views toward him are despicable and provide little more than an author’s lazy and contrived plot device.

The plot is not tight and moves slow as it plods over the occasional hole along the way. For myself, I found the continual and frequent meetings for strategy over tea between the protagonist and his would-be-ally (Sir Nathaniel) tedious and redundant if not pointless. The protagonist’s invocation of morality (sometimes a twisted morality) feel like a fragile shell of trite emblematic overtures. And the staring contests go on and on and on into absurdity and hilarity. I suspect that in the author’s time “mesmerism” (later hypnosis) were new and mysterious things in the minds of the culture and perhaps audiences of that time might be more intrigued by these references. That said, the author makes no great literary effort to complement this bygone fascination.

This is a story about privileged gentry that is filled with boring anecdotes of how dire their circumstances are without really feeling so dire. There is definitely a disconnect between the perils of the characters and what’s supposed to be at stake. The contrast is felt sharply when the climax of the plot crests into an absolutely bombastic finale that is fit to fritter across the pages of Hollywood’s worst action blockbuster (though it is described very well).

Ultimately, this book is not worth checking out. Not even for the fact that it is written by the author of “Dracula.” It may hold some small interest for those wanting to fully explore the author’s career (perhaps as an end cap of sorts). Perhaps those heavily interested in horror and wacky stories might find some elements worth noting. Overall, this is book is not for the casual fan or even the avid fan of this genre or related genres.

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes, Tune-In Radio, Stitcher, Google Play Music, YouTube or our website (www.nodeodorant.com).

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: The Lair of the White Worm (Ken Russell)

Review: The Lair of the White Worm (Ken Russell)

New podcast episode!

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E5M – The Lair of the White Worm(movie)*

SHOW NOTES:

The Lair of the White Worm film far exceeded the book. It was also a farcical incoherent mess of a film that was fantastic. Of course two out of the three co-hosts did not understand this and ruined not only their own experience, but those of anyone listening to the podcast (and possible people in the near vicinity that could absorb their negative energy).

Like all great films from the 20th century this starts with a man named Angus finding a skull. This of course leads to human sacrifice, an artificial phallus, an orgy, nudity, murder, the opening of hell, and a giant white worm who may or may not have a lair.

The movie is provocative and high camp at the same time. It is best enjoyed while on a sinking boat or LSD, but not…

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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

Review: “The Lair of the White Worm” – Bram Stoker

Review: “The Lair of the White Worm” – Bram Stoker

New podcast episode!

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E5B – Lair of the White Worm(book)*

SHOW NOTES:

Well, this show was fantastic. The book was weird but we managed to dig it up pretty well.

-Rick

WRITTEN BOOK REVIEWS:

Ryan:2 1/2 Stars “…A meandering gothic tale of wormish fiends, overshadowed by a giant kite and frequent supper respites…

Wilk:0 Stars “…This is a very bad book and was not meant to be published. It has a worm. The worm is white….Read Dracula instead….

Rick:3 Stars “…This book lies in the historical cesspool of courtship to inherited entitlement and propagates paranoid racist incitement that has continued to flush over humankind through the centuries…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on Goodreads.com)

FUN FACTOIDS:

Henry_Irving_portraitMuch of Bram Stoker’s life was dedicated to the support of famed Shakespearean, Henry Irving. Stoker was absolutely devoted to the actor…

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Posted by on July 19, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

Preview Episode (The Lair of the White Worm)

Preview Episode (The Lair of the White Worm)

New Podcast preview episode!

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E5P – Preview Episode (The Lair of the White Worm)*

SUBJECT MATTER:

Book: “The Lair of the White Worm (1911)” by Bram Stoker

An ancient evil walks among them.

When Adam Salton arrives at his grand-uncle’s Derbyshire estate he quickly senses that a macabre and malevolent force is at work. In his attempts to uncover the grisly mystery he encounters the chilling Lady Arabella and the obsessive Edgar Caswall, each harbouring their own dark and dreadful desires.

To his horror, Adam discovers that something hideous is living in the grounds of nearby Castra Regis, something that feeds on the flesh of humans. And so begins a terrifying quest to destroy the evil lurking in their midst …” (from Amazon.com)

*** * ***

Film: “The Lair of the White Worm (1988)” by Ken Russell (Amanda Donohoe)

“In a remote corner of England’s Peak District, a mysterious skull…

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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel – Philip Kaufman)

Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel – Philip Kaufman)

New podcast episode!

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E4M – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (movie)*

SHOW NOTES:

I go out on a limb to express a genuine and legitimate worldview, hold out a loving hand to my cohorts and get sawed off the tree. This time there was a shiny thing of fancy out on that branch placed by a rather large weasel. Instead of venturing out there to take a sniff, I stayed close to the trunk – the permanent home of the ever cautious one among us. Was I proud of using caution in a ridiculous environment characterized and ruled by the peevish obsessiveness of the Comic Book Guy? No. Until next show, hyper-nerds.

-Rick

MOVIEREVIEWS:

Film: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)” by Don Siegel (Kevin McCarthy)

Ryan:3 1/2 Stars “…I enjoyed it…definitely worth checking out…”

Wilk:4 Stars “…kind of like watching the twilight zone…”

Rick:2 Stars “…it applies…

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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

Review: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney (3 Stars)

Interesting concepts that provide creepy fun for the whole pod to enjoy.

The author loosely develops a fascinating concept that later provided a veritable sandbox of inspirations and interpretations for years of analysis. This book has been combed over for allegorical meanings through the years, mostly brought on by the various film adaptions. Finney himself denied having had any such agenda other than pure entertainment.

Even still, it is easy to read into this work a tale that strives to spotlights the virtue of individuality in the face of conformity. Whether the mashing conglomeration of society is brought about by political ideology, mob mentality or consumerism, doesn’t really matter.

The writing is easy to read and the plot plods along at a nice pace, without speeding up too much or slowing down too little. The story pauses enough times at well-crafted scenes of horror to create a lasting impression of the core storyline. The dialog felt somewhat stilted, if not dated or formal (sort of like an old 1950’s TV show).

The book has been criticized for its lack of scientific plausibility or credible character developments. However, this story isn’t really meant to be hard Scifi or an in-depth character study. The book is built around a high concept and contains a decent suspense plot that is tempered with Scifi elements. In that sense it largely succeeds. There is also a dogged relentlessness pervading the story that keeps pace throughout and helps to keep the horror aspect in play.

The story centers around a medical doctor operating in a rural town as a general practitioner. He’s divorced and an old flame/fellow divorcee is back in town for him to get excited about. His love interest draws him into the main plot when she asks him to look in on a relative that has a peculiar medical concern that cannot be explained. From there things slowly develop based on the increasing incidences of people acting strangely and the stakes are periodically raised a level along the way. The author does delve into the science behind the story a bit when he uses the doctor and a psychologist to both unravel as well as confuse the mystery.

There are some interesting passages about the different faces people wear in society and what it means to be a person, along with some loose social commentary that gets flipped on its head when it comes from an alien perspective.

The ending has also been criticized for this book and the film versions did not feel the need to follow it. It’s an ending, it works, but that’s about it. Reminds me a bit of an H. G. Wells ending, but less original given the publication date.

The very idea of “pod people” comes from this book. Without having even read this book or watched any of the films, most people will have a general idea of what this means. That, in itself, demonstrates how strong the concept is and how well it was developed by the author.

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes, Tune-In Radio, Stitcher, Google Play Music, YouTube or our website (www.nodeodorant.com).

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” – Jack Finney

Review: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” – Jack Finney

New Podcast Episode!

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E4B – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (book)*

SHOW NOTES:

Good lord. Someone is going to read this and get it and someone else is going to use this to justify their batshit world view. Tune in to see who!

-Wilk

WRITTEN BOOK REVIEWS:

Ryan: 3 Stars “…Interesting concepts that provide creepy fun for the whole pod to enjoy…

Wilk: 3 Stars “…A classic science fiction quick read that inspired a legion of movies, some of which far exceeded the breadth of the book…

Rick: 3 Stars “…Given how creatively the story and it’s characters were written, there still are solid antidotes that left me strongly suspicious this was just subversive propagandist red scare drivel…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on Goodreads.com)

FUN FACTOIDS:

Stealing Through Time (Book)

In the show Wilk mentioned that the author, Jack Finney, was very private and it was…

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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

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