Thursday, November 16, 2006

Will Shakespeare on Zombies

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From The Cornell Daily Sun:

William Faulkner wrote a vampire movie.

Yes. William Faulkner. As in William “The Sound and the Fury” Faulkner. The American South’s preeminent author is the proud scribe of a movie in which pale men are bloodsuckers in the literal sense.

Faulkner did, of course, spend a good part of his life writing for Hollywood. So this seems very appropriate.

His script is now being made into a movie. Is this, however, to be lamented? Is this worth our derision? The fact that one of the most important authors in American letters got sucked up by the Hollywood machine and made to write vampire novels could be distressing to some.

I, however, posit a different interpretation: How freakin’ awesome is it that Faulkner wrote a vampire movie? Honestly, even if you didn’t particularly cotton to vampires, isn’t this something that you’d choose to see? Isn’t anyone dying to see the screenplay? Nobody’s excited about the prospect of a stream-of-consciousness Dracula? Am I the only English major weenie here? Isn’t anybody else excited? Is anyone even listening anymore?

There’s something about having our most luminous authors taking on some of our more obscure and less-than-well-regarded characters that really does it for me. I can see them now, the bright lights of the marquee illuminating the following potential masterpieces:

Plato’s Frankenstein

[Scene: an old mill. Frankenstein faces an angry horde.]
Frankenstein (monster): Don’t human beings breathe and feel?
Sherlockus: That has been known to be the case.
Frankenstein (monster): Is it not true, angry horde, that I breathe?
Riotolous: Yes, it certainly is true.
Frankenstein (monster): Is it not also true that I feel?
Agitatorles: You would certainly be correct in that assessment.
Frankenstein (monster): [Beat] Do you not see where I’m going with this?
Mob: Kill the beast!

William Shakespeare’s Invaders from Mars

King Bleeborb: The breach of the Earth’s soft shores by our flaming death rays generations hence shall freshly remember. Disguise bellicose nature with seven set jaws. Gentlemartians on Mars now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their alienhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Kodos’ Day.

Jane Austen’s Mr. Hyde

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of two personalities must be in want of a wife. While one would be inclined to believe that those called schizophrenic would be in need of a psychiatrist, men in good standing must realize that a wife provides all the cares of a physician without the additional cumbersome worry of compensation.

John Milton’s Chucky

In overalls garbed with scarlet hair all aflame
Chucky stood in ruin, the beast now tamed.
Why no-one had kicked him cannot be explained.
He is just a doll, and of plastic made.

Herman Melville’s The Story of Satan

Call me Lucifer. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no pride in my being, and nothing particular to interest me on Earth, I thought I would sail about a little and see how I could dethrone God. That cursed White Beard! Those cursed White Sandals!

Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Jason Vorhees

Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. Jason himself was especially full of mirth. As he put Becky and Jim on a raft, they asked him whether they would be playing the part of the pirates or the commodores. With a grunt, Jason pushed the raft out on the river and set it on fire. And smiled a smile nobody could see.

F. Scott’s Fitzgerald's Tender are the Dead

“Well, old sport,” Gatsby declaimed. “I can tell you for sure that the neighbourhood's gone to hell.”

“Why would you say that?” I queried.

“It’s quite simple, really,” he declared, as a zombie in a silk yellow blouse attacked one of the maids. “It’s all these new dead coming in. They have none of the customs, conduct or manners of the old dead. The fact that they were killed yesterday certainly does not afford them the right to waltz into West Egg in their garish English-cut suits with their shambling proletarian gait and hideous, dissonant moans. Why, yesterday, I saw a zombie walk out without his bowler hat on. I could positively see his brains!”

Dr. Seuss’ The Bogeyman

There are no monsters under my bed
They are off in the land of Foolalastead
They caper and gimper in the green telafloe
What the hell is that thing grabbing onto my toe?
It grunts and it roars, it cavorts and it feeds!
It listens to none of my thousand-one pleads.


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