Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Secrets of the Heart (The Ravensmoore Chronicles #1) by Jillian Kent

This book is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers.

Madeline Whittington is the daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield. She has been deeply depressed and heartbroken since her father’s passing, along with her siblings’ passing, and has just ended a year-long period of mourning. Her best friend, Hallie, Lady Gilling, a widow, is trying to get her out and about but Madeline is still suffering.

Life is grey…

Devlin Greyson, is also suffering, but not deaths but from people bullying him and not wanting to befriend him because of his new title, Earl of Ravensmore. As the second son, Devlin had never planned to be the Earl, but instead wanted to pursue his dream of being a doctor. After his brother passed, he received the title, and to the chagrin of the ton he has decided to forgo what is expected and continue his doctoral studies.

Madeline is feeling lost and spends her days meandering the property by walking or on horseback. She is deeply troubled when she discovers a a mute girl on her property that looks as if she has been suffering from terrible things, she decides to help her-hiding and feeding “Brown Eyes”. This gives her something new to devote her attention to as home is not so pleasant with her mother’s new beau, Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be her late father’s friend, but Madeline doesn’t know him or trust him and she has a bad feeling about him. He is just too slimy and creepy.

Madeline continues in this despondent way, not going to any parties or events as she doesn’t want to be involved with what the ton likes. The grief she encountered from the loss of her family coupled with seeing the heartbreak her mother faced, she never wants to be married, but then what is left for her? What should she do with her life?

Hallie doesn’t mind her friend wanting to do something else, but is worried over her despondency and hoping to spark some light in her, she has invites her to join the latest hunt. Although Madeline is not into hunting, she agrees to go as she enjoys horseback riding. During the hunt Madeline gets injured and Devlin is introduced and looks in on her as she has injured her arm, but Madeline is not having it. She wants zero to do with Devlin as he killed her father.

Relax, Devlin is not a murderer, but he was the physician-in-training who was unable to help as her father arrived too far gone.  Devlin instantly falls for Madeleine, but is unable to start any relationship with her as she hates the very sight of him. She’d rather be concussed and lying on a field with a broken arm than receive any help from him. In fact she only gets treatment because of the insistence of her friends.

Wow!

So this wouldn’t be a gothic novel if it didn’t have a creepy building and the creepy building in this one is Ashcroft Asylum. The Asylum is located behind Madeline’s home and guess which creepy dude is in on board and in charge of a lot of asylum decisions? Lord Vale.

One day when Lord Vale is visiting the Countess, Madeline’s mother, he talks about a missing mute murderess, a child. Madeleine figures out it is “Brown Eyes”, but doesn’t believe him as the girl is so nice. Madeleine does all she can, but unfortunately the little girl is discovered and sent back to the creepy Asylum.

Creepy…

Ashcroft Asylum continues its creepy grasp as it holds dread for Devlin as well. His mother went insane and his father sent her away to the asylum where she passed away. Devlin does all he can to stay far away from it, and the fear of mental illness has a strong grip on him.

One day he can no longer avoid it as his school gets a call that the asylum is in need of medical assistance and his instructor volunteers Devlin. When Devlin looks at the wounded inmates, he feels very suspicious of the “self-inflected” wounds, they have but without any concrete proof nothing can be done. Fearing that there is something not right going on in the facility, he decides to tell his instructor and have him check up on it.

Hmm…

Hallie and Madeline run into Devlin and his fellow trainee Melton repeatedly, with Hallie and Melton being very interested in each other, but Madeline doing all she can to get rid of Devlin. Devlin honors her requests as a suitor, but as a doctor he feels he must check up on her health after the horseback riding incident, and then a later carriage accident. On one such visit to see that her arm is healing properly, the two go horseback riding (Madeline’s insistence) and when they return they discover Madeleine’s mother is gone!

She has eloped with Lord Vale to Gretna Greene.

They run after them, but are too late. They have been married and Madeline has a wicked stepfather. Madeline becomes so angry at it all, that when Devlin goes to check on her mental and physical state he discovers she has a gun, one she had wanted to use to keep Vale from marrying her mother. Devlin comforts her and helps her return home, but his visits stop as he will be busy with the upcoming tests to complete his training, leaving her alone in her thoughts.

Vale and her mother return and Vale slimily slips into every part of their lives, taking over. He even volunteers Madeline to help at the asylum, teaching two young boys who are awaiting transport. In doing so Madeline starts to see what really goes on in the asylum: uncleanliness, lack of food being given to the inmates, etc. Vale “listens” and agrees to consider her requests of going through the head of the Asylum’s practices and having  doctor check the inmates, but his compliance seems very out of character and as benefactor, does he really not know what is going on?

Hmm…

Madeleine finds herself attracted to Devlin, and turning to her with her problems, but she still doesn’t want to be with him if he is a doctor. She insists Devlin tell her what happened with her father, and when he reveals the truth, he wasn’t too far gone it turned out that her father didn’t like how tight the tourniquet was and when the doctors were busy with other patients, he loosened it and bleed to death.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Madeleine is furious at this statement and refuses to believe him. She tells Devlin she never wants to see him again and refuses letters, calls,  etc. all contact from him.

Of him

Madeline continues to fall into depression and melancholia.

Life is grey…from Anna Karenina (1948)

Then Madeleine’s mother grows very sick wasting away. Madeleine immediately grows suspicious of Vale and tries to get her away and send for Devlin. When Vale uncovers this, he sends her packing to the asylum.

In the asylum she encounters the horrors of the asylum:

The Wolfman (2010)

She also finds out the deep secrets that lie in the asylum and has to fall victim to the horrors of the asylum, Will she get out, or be stuck in the dreaded place forever?

Hmm…

Will her mother be saved, or will she die by the plotting of the dastardly Vale?

Hmmm…

And what terrible secrets does the asylum hold?

Hmm…

So this was a really interesting book as it talked a lot about grief and depression, and showed realistic reactions to it. I used to work with grieving people and we see parents and children hating doctors after their loved ones died, depression, isolation, wanting to not be involved romantically because of fear, pushing away from new people, starting a new relationship (the mother), etc. It’s actually nice to read about her being lost and confused but trying to journey through.

The conditions of the asylum were truly terrifying. And the way that people could so easily be thrown in one, made me think of The Woman in White. (An amazing book, you should definitely check out!).

This is of course a romance, so the end was a bit quickly resolved in a happy way but I still enjoyed it. I thought it was cute and mysterious.

This is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers as the character of Madeliene reminds me of Marianne Dashwood. Like Madeleine, Marianne has just encountered the death of her father and her whole world changed. With the estate entailed she and her sister lose their house, some of the furnishings, friendships, position in society, and have to move to a place rented to them out of the kindness of their hearts. Like Madeleine she is a whirlwind of passion and emotion, and also like Madeliene rejects a suitor adamantly. Madeline rejects Devlin believing him to have killed her father ad hating all doctors in general, while Marianne thinks Colonel Brandon is too old and not passionate-yet they both end up with those guys who patiently love them from afar.

As I said a good book to read.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Cat Burglar Black

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Homespun Bride

For more Gothic Fiction, go to The Poison Diaries

For more stories with asylums, go to Trapped in a Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere with a Psycho: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

Trapped in a Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere with a Psycho: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

“Trapped in a mansion in the middle of nowhere with a Psycho.”

This movie was sooooo good!

I saw it at the library when we were reorginizing and it sounded really interesting-a will, multiple people inheriting and fighting each other, locked in a house in the middle of nowhere, starring Paulette Goddard, Edith Head did the costumes, and it was early Bob Hope-so hopefully he won’t be too silly.

I have to watch it.

So the film is based off a play and it is one of those horror comedies that spoof horror films-you know like Arsenic and Old Lace or One Body Too Many.

Cyrus Norman was an eccentric millionaire, who insanity ran in his family. He passed away and determined that ten years from that date on midnight the will, will be read. They never say why-but I believe that he wanted certain family members dead, like in Mystery of the 13th Guest

10 years in this movie.

The night has came and the lawyer, Crosby arrives by canoe to the mansion, he will be stuck there until the next day as no boats run after midnight. Trapped like in House on Haunted Hill.

Haunted house!

Crosby goes there and is greeted by the creepiest housekeeper ever. She’s like Mrs. Danvers, Nancy, and Milly rolled into one. This is set in the Louisiana Bayou and she talks about talking to her master, and spirits, and roams the house soundlessly with a black cat. Just an uber creeper!

SUPER creeped

Crosby goes to where the will was stashed and finds not one, but TWO wills!

Hmm…interesting.

Hmmm…

The family starts showing up, all second and third cousins twice removed. We have two older sisters (40-50s age range) Cicily and Aunt Susan who arrive. Both are very unhappy to be out in the swamp-Susan is the older one, loud, aggressive, domineering-while Cicily is sweet, submissive, ad nervous.

Hmm…

Then the men arrive: Fred Blythe, grouchy and sarcastic; Charlie Wilder (Douglas Montgomery), handsome ladies man; and Wally Campbell (Bob Hope), actor, funnyman, and nervous talker. This part was actually created for him, an addition to the play.

They settle in for the will reading, yet there is one left-Joyce Norman (Paulette Goddard). Fred is in love with Joyce and tells all the others to back off of her. Charlie and Joyce used to have a thing but haven’t seen each other in years-he trying to ignite the flame again. And Wally and Joyce were friends when they were younger, he was always trying to help her out or protect her (secret crush).

More like a quadrilateral

The will is read with all the money going to the ones who have the last name Norman. That being only Joyce-she inherits everything.

Except there is one caveat. This family is rife with mental illness-if Joyce should  succumb to mental illness in one month or die-the money will go to another person in the other will.

What are you talking about??

That seems like an awful thing to do-the relatives are going to try and make her be declared insane, drive her insane, or kill her. What was he thinking!!!!!

I guess maybe he thought that there would be more heirs, but still-this seems to be a horrible idea.

So all are happy for Joyce, except Aunt Susan who immediately starts psychoanalyzing her-and Charlie who starts trying to reignite the flames and get her interested in him again-really. She just got the money. 

All have the stay in the house overnight together-and then things start taking a dark turn.

The creepy voodoo housekeeper gives Joyce a private message. Joyce then goes to get ready for bed when there is a knock on the door. It is a guard from the asylum down the way who has arrived to let them know that a manic got loose. The maniac has long claws and is called “The Cat”. He warns them to lock the doors and windows and he is going to check the bayou.

So we have crazy relatives, a million dollars, a creepy housekeeper, and an escapee from the insane asylum-things are getting good.

I have to watch it.

Meanwhile, Cosby has discovered something when searching through the files. He goes to tell Joyce, but before he can get the words out-he is kidnapped by someone who creeped through a secret passage.

Yes this house is full of secret passages, has a portrait with eyes that someone can watch you through, and was one of the influences of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. Yep, it’s that cool.

Someone’s creeping on Joyce…but who?

Joyce and Wally end up pairing up as he wants to hep her, and they discover a note about Cyrus’ hidden treasure-emerald and diamond necklace-that is on the property. They have to find the treasure, survive the night, and keep Joyce from being driven crazy by her family, and safe from the Cat.

This was an amazing film with great dialogue. I love the pace of the ’30s and ’40s films with such quick and pithy banter. This was just wonderful, I loved every minute of it and it didn’t disappoint. I highly recommend this and can watch it over and over.

For more on Haunted Houses, go to Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

For more hidden treasure, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

For more Horror-Comedy, go to What Do They Want You For? Murder: Silver Streak (1976)

 

Cesare, I Am Calling You. I, Dr. Caligari, Your Master. Awaken for a Moment From Your Dark Night.: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

“Cesare, I am calling you. I, Dr. Caligari, your master. Awaken for a moment from your dark night.”

So during my very first Horrorfest I reviewed the remake of this film.

This was back before I had established the “rules” of Horrorfest, one being always review the original film first.

It was an amaaaaaazing adaption! It used the original backgrounds from this movie and was full of talented actors, I highly recommend it. It is probably one of the best remakes I have ever seen.

Wow

And you know me, I’m not a remake person.

Well, every year since then I have thought I need to review the original, and with me being in my seven year of blogging (Horrorfest VIII), it is time to actually review the original 1920 version.

So this film was influenced by the life experiences of Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Janowitz served as an officer in WWI and was very embittered by his experiences. Mayer feigned illness to try and get out of service, as he was a pacifist-and spent a lot of time in an asylum and under intense examinations. In fact, Dr. Caligari is based off a doctor that Janowitz was forced to talk to (and really didn’t like).

The two met through an actor friend of theirs and the inspiration to write the film came through Janowitz’s friend Gilda Langer. Mayer was in love with Langer, and she became the basis for the “Jane” character (the one that is in the love triangle with the two best friends.)

One day Gilda took Janowitz to a fortune teller who predicted that Janowitz would survive the war but Gilda would die. When Gilda died unexpectedly in 1920, that experience influenced the scene when Cesar predicts Alan’s death.

Spooky…

There are conflicting stories regarding who exactly wrote, planned, directed, filmed, etc-did what, something that will most likely never be settled. When this film first came ouot there were actually protests regarding the film when it showed in LA as Germany was still not very popular in 1920. People were still upset over World War I

This style of film and the background artwork reminds me of the Bauhaus movement, with its style and a bit of Metropolis. Dr. Caligari is supposed to represent the German government being in control and dictating others, while Cesare the solider-those who have been conditioned to kill. The rest of the characters are the people being lulled, hypnotized, and controlled.

The set is beautiful-painted, angles, and nothing is quite right giving the film a demented and creepy space. This disjointed feeling really adds to the question, is the main character telling the truth? Or are they insane.

So it is hard to review this film as I reviewed the amazing remake that actually copied every scene perfectly-but I’ll try.

The film starts at the end when the main character, Francis, is speaking to an old man about his fiancé. This one feels creepier than the remake as the music is completely eerie and the actors have to overact as this is a silent film. Everyone eyes bug out and they just freak you out. Serious chills!

So Francis starts sharing how his fiancé has been through such a strange event that she will never be the same again. She walks every night in a trance, and does not speak anymore. Francis starts to recount his story…

We go back in time to a city and place that we don’t know where it belongs. The backgrounds are amazing and slanted.

A man comes to the main hall to get a permit for his carnival. He calls himself Dr. Caligari, and speaks of having a psychic who can reveal all’s future. The clerk is in a BAD mood, and is extra rude to Dr. Caligari and forces him to pay an exuberant amount of money. Caligari does and walks away, but all does not seem to bode well for this clerk.

The next day he is dead. Murdered.

Then we are introduced to Alan, who is stopping by to visit his friend Francis and is begging him to partake in some kind of adventure. We learn that Alan has been combating depression and has been holing himself away these past months, even having to visit an asylum. He however, is feeling much better and convinces Francis to see the fair with him, “for old times sake”.

On the way they meet up with Jane Stern, a girl they are both madly in love with.  Both are eager to get an answer from her as to who her choice will be, but she manages to slip away and into the night. The friends say good-bye and to the fair.

They stop at the fair and see the psychic Cesare. Cesare is a “living dead” man who can foretell all. He lives in a coffin, only being released every once in a while, Cesare is really creepy-the faces he makes.

Francis wants to leave, but Alan is rooted to the floor. When Dr. Caligari calls on him to ask a question, Alan is compelled to answer. He is physically incapable of leaving or turning away. He asks Cesare his question, but all does not go well.

Alan: How long shall I live?                                                                                  Cesare: The time is short. You die at dawn!”

Francis quickly grabs Alan out of the tent and fearing a relapse in his friend, reassures him that Cesare’s tricks are stupid and do not mean a thing.

The next day Alan is dead. Murdered.

This horrible tragedy leads Francis on a path of reality so intermingled with insanity that one can hardly tell the fact from fiction. Francis is so sure that Dr Caligari killed his friend, that he becomes obsessed with finding proof. Is he trying to stop a mad killer? Or has he experienced such trauma he has reconstructed reality?

Hmmm…

So while the remake tries to leave you guessing whether it is real or not, whether he is crazy or if he knows the truth and is silenced. In this they make it clear that he is being treated in a hospital. That was a bit of a disappointment, but the film seriously deserves a watch. Those eyes, they are haunting.

Spooky…

And the facebook banner!

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, go to A Tale So Strange It Must Be True: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005)

For more silent films, go to In Their Proper Place: Metropolis (1927)

For more characters on the brink of insanity, go to Go Ahead and Shoot…As Far As Killing Me, Well, I Don’t Think You’re That Good a Shot: Possessed (1947)

 

A Tale So Strange It Must Be True: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005)

The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariI must know everything. I must penetrate the heart of his secret! I must become Caligari!

So I checked out this movie from the library, thinking that it would be weird, but I was not prepared for how strangely horrtastic it was. This was an extremely well done horror film, that really does the original film justice.

So this is a remake of the 1920s silent film. It was revolutionary for its time, and inspired countless others. What David Lee Fisher wanted to do in his remake; is still have the orginal story, but redo it in a way that it would connect to a modern generation.

It was truly amazing. I recommend that all watch it; for multiple reasons:

This is one of the very, very few remakes that is as amazing as the original. They hardly changed anything, and took nothing away from the story.

The background is fantastic . Using a green screen they took the backgrounds from the original film, truly giving this film a uniquely demented and creepy space. It was seamlessly done, with the only times the fore and background being disconjointed is purposely, when you are at a point of the film that you are supposed to be unsure as to what is really happening. These out of sync scenes really help support the questioning of the characters’s sanity. 

The cinematography is beautiful. Almost every scene takes your breath away at how beautifully it is set up.

The actors are amazing! (Judson Pierce Jones & Neil Hopkins are very attractive! :D)

The end is magnificent. They just twist everything that you are not sure what is reality and what isn’t.

So the film starts off at the end. The main character, Francis, is speaking to an old man about his fiancé, and how she has been through such a strange event that she will never be the same again. She walks every night in a trance, and does not speak anymore. Francis starts to recount his story, warning the man that he probably won’t believe a tale so strange, it must be true.

We then go back in time to a city and place that we don’t know where it belongs. Is it past or present? All one can tell is that the buildings slant, everything is triangular, misshapen, and strange.

Strangely beautiful

A man comes to the main hall to get a permit for his carnival. He calls himself Dr. Caligari, and speaks of having a psychic who can reveal all who attend’s future. The clerk is rude to Dr. Caligari and forces him to pay an exuberant amount of money. Caligari does and walks away, but all does not seem to bode well for this clerk.

The next day he is dead. Murdered.

Then we are introduced to Alan, who is stopping by to visit his friend Francis and is begging him to partake in some kind of adventure. We learn that Alan has been combating depression and has been holing himself away these past months, even having to visit an asylum. He however, is feeling much better and convinces Francis to see the fair with him, “for old times sake”.

They go out and get drunk, and then stop to see the psychic Cesare. Cesare is a “living dead” man who can fortell all. He lives in a coffin, only being released every once in a while. Cesare has a truly creepy wake up scene. There is just something about how Doug Jones jerks and twists his body that frightens you.

Francis wants to leave, but Alan is rooted to the floor. When Dr. Caligari calls on him to ask a question, Alan is compelled to answer. He is physically incapable of leaving or turning away. He asks Cesare his question, but all does not go well.

Alan: How long shall I live?                                                                                  Cesare: The time is short. You die at dawn!”

Francis quickly grabs Alan out of the tent and fearing a relapse in his friend, reassures him that Cesare’s tricks are stupid and do not mean a thing.

On the way they meet up with Jane Stern, a girl they are both madly in love with. (It is a reoccuring theme in movies. Out of all the women in the world the best friends always fall for the same one). Both are eager to get an answer from her as to who her choice will be, but she manages to slip away and into the night. The friends say good-bye and go their seperate ways.

The next day Alan is dead. Murdered.

This horrible tragedy leads Francis on a path of reality so intermingled with insanity that one can hardly tell the fact from fiction. Francis is so sure that Dr Caligari killed his friend, that he becomes obsesed with finding proof. Will this quest for vengence and justice end well? That I cannot tell you as you must see it for yourself. The film is so good, that like The Bad Seed, I cannot tell you the ending. You must view it yourself.

This marks the seventh post of scary tales. More to follow.

Here’s a poster/cover page I made for my facebook page as a countdown to Halloween.

5_941275751

halloween banner

To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

To go to the previous post, go to Secrets are Great, Unless You Get Caught