Lupoff and Chabon Talk John Carter of Mars at ERBzine

Those TC readers who have bothered to check the links I’ve posted in my ERB-related entries probably already suspect that I hold Bill Hillman’s ERBzine website in high regard. Such suspicions would not be unfounded. Mr. Hillman hath builded a mighty temple to the Lord of Tarzana that hangs amidst the æther in erudite splendor. 

This last January, Bill presented to his readership a most excellent symposium betwixt two major Edgar Rice Burroughs fans: Richard Lupoff and Michael Chabon. Mr. Lupoff, a long-time Friend of The Cimmerian, authored the first serious look at ERB and his works, Master of Adventure, as well as editing ERB volumes for Canaveral Press. Michael Chabon (a past recipient of the Pulitzer Prize) is on record as being a fan of of Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber. In his ERBzine interview (conducted by Lupoff), Chabon reveals his life-long love for the fiction of Burroughs.

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HPL’s “The Silver Key” on Youtube

Lovecraft was no fan of the cinema, and it could be argued that his disdain for moving pictures has been returned by a seemingly endless torrent of laughable and unfaithful film adaptations. Still, HPL was always a champion of the amateur artiste. Keeping that fact in mind, perhaps it is not too far-fetched to think that “Uncle Theobald” (as REH called him) would approve of the ten-minute film recently posted to Youtube which adapts his tale, “The Silver Key.”

One would have to look hard for a more fitting story to commemorate the anniversary of the passage from this mortal coil by the Man from Providence. Lovecraft always seemed fond of the tale, and Robert E. Howard expressed his deep admiration for it at least once. While an “update” in temporal terms, the short film seems to capture a bit of the atmosphere that the Great Old One strove for.

John Carter of Mars Is Coming to the Silver Screen

[redacted]’s impassioned post regarding Almuric got me to thinking about that novel’s primary inspiration and the fact that The Cimmerian has yet to even mention the forthcoming screen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic novel, A Princess of Mars.

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Weird Yuletide Tales, Past and Present

Yukon versus the Bumble

Those who hunger for Yultide fables with a different spin can find such here in the archives of The Cimmerian.

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Solomon Kane — the Movie

I’ve been reading up on the Solomon Kane movie, and watched the trailer.

From Moviephone:

Based on the character created by Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian), Captain Solomon Kane is a brutally efficient 16th Century killing machine. Armed with his signature pistols, cutlass and rapier, he and his men unleash their bloodlust as they fight for England in war after war on all continents.

His men?


“Solomon Kane” – The movie “Solomon Kane” tells the origins of Solomon Kane and is hoped to be the first of a trilogy of movies. When the story opens Kane is a mercenary of Queen Elizabeth I fighting in Africa, but after an encounter with a demon, The Reaper, he realizes he must seek redemption or have his soul damned to Hell. He returns to Engand and lives a life of peace, converting to puritanism, but soon the doings of an evil sorceror upset his plans and he must take up arms again. James Purefoy stars as puritan swordsman “Solomon Kane”. “Solomon Kane” is a 16th century soldier who learns that his brutal and cruel actions have damned him but is determined to redeem himself by living peaceably. But he finds himself dragged out of retirement for a fight against evil.

You know, it might be a pretty good sword & sorcery flick, and it has a nice grim feel to it.  Too bad they only took the look and the name of Solomon Kane, and basically made their own character.  Damned instead of pious, bloodthirsty instead of on a mission, the Robert E. Howard they call “legendary” in the trailer would have a hard time recognizing this as his creation.

Picacio Tapped for ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ Calendar







According to Missions Unknown, San Antonio-based artist, John Picacio, has been chosen to illustrate the 2011 calendar devoted to George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire.’ Also mentioned in the article is the fact that Martin has been in the UK since late October, where he is keeping an eye on the filming of the HBO series based upon his epic fantasy novels. Read more about it here.

John Picacio also provided the cover painting for [redacted]’s Howard biography, Blood and Thunder.

Possible Conan TV Production From Carlton in the UK


Over on the Official Robert E. Howard Forum, this was just posted by a member with the handle of “TortolaBVI”:

28 years ago, British television company Carlton Television, which was (and is) part of the massive ITV network, paid an extremely large sum to be one of the first terrestrial channels to be able to broadcast the motion picture Conan The Barbarian. An additional clause in the deal stated that Carlton television would have complete right to adapt for the television medium original works by Robert E Howard under the proviso that said work was in the public domain. Bearing in mind that this deal was made in 1981, The rightsholders to Conan really were not concerned with a date that was a quarter of a century away. Carlton Television did not have the rights to create original material. Everyone got that? They could create original material provided it did not make up more than 10% of any adaptation of an original Robert E Howard public domain story.

Which is where we are at, at the moment. The production has finance firmly in place to the tune of £7m, has a new director onboard (Mr Graham Harper has left due to scheduling commitments but was outstanding in helping find his replacement) the script has undergone revision to tighten the narrative, and a number of locations have been scouted.

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District 9


This is a rather strange movie. Filmed in a street-documentary way, with lots of choppy hand-held scenes reflecting modern war footage, it is the story of an ill-advised attempt to relocate aliens from their shanty-town to concentration camps farther away from the human populace. The aliens are somewhat sullen, violent arthropods who suffered some disaster in space that left them starving and leaderless. I had to wonder how HPL would react to creatures that resemble giant, intelligent seafood. The humans call them “prawns”; it is the first sign of the disdain with which they are viewed.

The movie is set in South Africa, and obviously the alien-hate can be read as an allusion to racism, but it is not really played to excess. It is just the backdrop to an interesting drama, played at both the personal level and a world-wide level as the humans find the prawn are not all as simple-minded as they believe. Three of the prawn have been planning for twenty years to escape the prison that is earth.
In a review for SFX, Nick Setchfield remarks:

This is pure body horror in the lineage of Alien, The Thing and The Fly.

That is certainly an element. Don’t go see this if you are easily grossed out. He also has these comments which I found interesting:

Wikus van der Merwe is a nepotistically-appointed bureaucrat, a Pooterish Afrikaaner charged with overseeing the mass eviction of the alien township. Tank-top, Chuckle Brothers moustache, neat side-parting. The word dweeb is all but laser-etched on his forehead. From the moment you clock his nervous weasel features you know he’s one of those middle-management peons cinema routinely earmarks for death in a moment of grisly, crowd-pleasing black comedy.

And then there’s a moment when you realise, with sudden, amused shock, that this is the hero, that they’ve handed the movie to this man (actually, it may be the moment that he ditches the tank-top). Sharlto Copley is brilliant as Wikus, mining unsuspected reserves of heroism and furious morality beneath the nerdish exterior …

The review has some slight spoilers, which I won’t repeat, but I did think the movie needed a final scene which never comes. Director and writer Neill Blomkamp said in an interview that while Hollywood always ties up the loose ends, real life isn’t always so neat. Well, that’s why we prefer stories to real life for entertainment, Neill. Still, a thoughtprovoking and compelling movie — you’ll either love it or hate it, apparently.

10,000 BC


Roland Emmerich’s much-maligned pre-historic fantasy adventure is making the rounds of the cable channels these days. It’s not a good movie, but it’s not as terrible as some claim either. Slavers capture some people from a tribe of mammoth hunters, including our hero’s love, so he sets out with a few other brave friends to track them down and effect a rescue. It turns out they are being taken to slave on massive pyramids, being erected by an advanced prehistoric civilization a la Stygia, ruled by sacrifice-demanding “gods” from Atlantis, or perhaps another world. There are other weird elements in the prophecies that move the plot and an ancient witch-woman with visionary and other powers. Obviously, complaints about historical accuracy are as off base as they would be regarding a Kull movie. The real stars of the show are the metafuana, particularly a scene stealing digital sabre-tooth and the hordes of mammoths.
Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers agrees:

The best acting comes from woolly mammoths, man-eating ostriches and a saber-toothed tiger — and those babies are digital. It’s the human actors who look fake.

Like Conan, D’leh (Steven Strait) can raise an army when needed, and he manages to recruit a tribe of black savages to his cause as well as igniting a slave rebellion among the pyramid workers.

The climactic invasion of the united barbarians and savages, sweeping into the decadent civilization of the pyramid-builders to slaughter and destroy evokes Howard; it’s like watching the fall of Acheron or the chaotic climax of “Marchers of Valhalla.”

Like “In the Name of the King,” this is an attempt to do sword & sorcery without actually crediting Howard, but his influence is there anyway. It’s also an interesting enough, if flawed, popcorn movie.

A Big Guy Turns 10


I saw this article about The Iron Giant turning ten years old the other day. This is one of my favorite movies, and the article goes a long way towards explaining why. (It also does a good job of explaining why summer blockbusters suck these days, and has a totally unneccessary reference to local starlet Megan Fox’s breasts.) Believe it or not, both Jennifer Anniston and Vin Diesel turn in riveting vocal performances in this film. The idea of a government agent whose raging paranoia leads him to lie and usurp authority is as scary now as its ever been, and the idea of an alien robot inspired by Siegel & Shuster’s Superman puts the lie to H.R. Hayes’ 1946 rant in the most powerful way possible. I don’t often crank up the old VCR but in this case I made an exception. If you don’t know this movie I really encourage you to click on the well-done article, it even has an excerpt from the film.

DEUCE ADDS: Follow this link to the Iron Giant Project blog.