October 31, 2012

The Top 5 Scariest Book-to-Film Adaptations

I've pulled together a list of my five favorite Scariest Book-to-Film adaptations. There are numerous Stephen King adaptations that will scare you silly (Cujo!), but I had to narrow it down somehow. What are your picks? Happy Halloween! --Kim

5. Robert Bloch's Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock
That haunting Man Ray-reminiscent shower scene with Janet Leigh. Anthony Perkins as a genial psychopath. And the Bates Motel: "You can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave." Hitchcock films are always thrilling, but this one is truly terrifying.

4.  Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs, directed by Jonathan Demme
Anthony Hopkins is brilliantly psychotic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster is FBI agent Clarice Starling. Clarice needs Dr. Lecter to help her track another killer, but he isn't going to make it easy for her. "Claaariiiiice."

3. Stephen King's Carrie, directed by Brian De Palma
Apparently nothing is more terrifying than a teen girl hitting puberty. There are so many iconic scenes in this 1976 horror flick starring Sissy Spacek in the title role as a teen with telekinetic powers. (Also, watch for an appearance by a young John Travolta.)

2. Peter Benchley's Jaws, by Steven Spielberg
I saw this again recently on the big screen, and it holds up so well (unlike Nightmare on Elm Street, which, when I saw it again this year at a Hollywood Forever Cemetery screening, had me giggling rather than screaming).

1. Stephen King's The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick
It wasn't hard to choose the top scariest adaption--There's nothing quite like this fantastically creepy tale of what happens when a writer, his wife, and their small son spend the winter as caretakers of an old, snowbound lodge. Watch the video clip below with Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance interviewing for the job as caretaker. It's guaranteed to give you the chills. Notoriously, King never really liked this adaptation.

October 26, 2012

Theatre Review: Shakespeare's Cymbeline at A Noise Within

Mix together in a blender a whole bunch of Shakespeare plays (Othello, Romeo and Juliet and a couple of the cross-dressing comedies) with a dash of fairy tale (wicked stepmother, idyllic forest setting and sleeping potion) and you end up with one of Shakespeare's less widely-known plays, Cymbeline.

I'd never read or seen Cymbeline before attending last night's performance at A Noise Within, and was expecting something dry and forgettable. To my surprise, it was actually a very colorful and engrossing play, full of laughs and quintessentially Shakespearean plot twists. I suspect this particular staging and its charismatic players helped take The Bard's romance from good to great. Especially memorable were two of the laugh-out-loud villains, Iachimo (played by Andrew Elvis Miller) and Cloten (played by Adam Haas Hunter). The costumes were stunning, and the various wigs on stage were practically characters unto themselves.

Since I rather enjoyed the show, I left wondering why we so rarely see it performed on stage or film. I think the fault is with the play itself. It's too derivative of Shakespeare's other works, comes to a ridiculously happy conclusion (which, granted, many of his plays do, but this one o'erleapt all suspension of disbelief), and frankly feels like something the Bard was kind of "phoning in" toward the end of his career. Nevertheless, even an okay Shakespeare play is a great play in my estimation, and when performed with the showmanship of a great repertory theater, it doesn't disappoint.

For comparison, I'm eager to check out the BBC film version from the 1980s starring Helen Mirren as the young heroine, Imogen and Robert Lindsay as the troublemaking Iachimo.

October 23, 2012

New Movie Stoker Inspired by Classic Lit?

The talented Erin Cressida Wilson (a fellow contributor to The May Queen anthology) worked on the upcoming movie Stoker (March 2013), which, though apparently not a vampire movie, is inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula. Having just watched the trailer (below), it seems pretty obvious that the story was also inspired by Hamlet.

The film stars Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, and Mia Wasikowska, all three of whom look seriously spooky. Cressida Wilson, who wrote the screenplays for Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus and Secretary, collaborated with writer Wentworth Miller on the screenplay. Stoker is directed by Park Chan-wook of Oldboy fame.  --Kim

October 12, 2012

Costume Design for The Metropolitan Opera's Production of The Tempest

A fairy costume from The Tempest.

Costume Designer Kim Barrett's gorgeous costumes for The Metropolitan Opera's upcoming production of The Tempest are featured in The New York Times's inspiration issue. Barrett also designed the costumes for The Matrix. --Kim

October 11, 2012

Autographed Galley Giveaway of Our New Book Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's The Tempest

Amy and I are thrilled to officially announce that the first two books in our YA series Twisted Lit will be published by Merit Press very soon! Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's The Tempest will be available on December 18 and Exposure: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's Macbeth will be available on January 18. To celebrate this exciting news, we're giving away autographed copies of our galleys over at Goodreads throughout the next couple of months. Our first giveaway is for Tempestuous.

Here's more info on the books: 


Coming in January 2013: The 2nd book in the Twisted Lit Series. Pre-Order Exposure via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s.

Double, double, toil and trouble. Sometimes, the quest for high school royalty can be deadly! In this emotionally-charged twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a self-conscious shutterbug named Skye Kingston navigates a treacherous school year in Alaska fraught with unspoken secrets and tragic twists of fate. Along the way she encounters three strangely prophetic BFFs; one social-climbing, sociopathic cheerleader; and a heart-stopping hottie named Craig McKenzie: the man who would be Prom King. Can Skye save the boy she loves — and herself — before they get caught in the crosshairs?

Coming in December from Merit Press. Available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s.

Recently banished, unfairly, by the school’s popular crowd, former “it girl,” Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall’s nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Our Favorite YA Novels Featured on Children's Book Review

Amy and I shared our favorite YA titles with Children's Book Review. You can see all our picks here. Let us know what you think!

October 4, 2012

Shakespeare Theme Songs

Shout out to Shakespeare Geek for posting our "Scottish MacHillbillies" lyrical spoof this morning. Check out his blog to see some other great Shakespeare parodies set to famous TV themes songs.

October 2, 2012

Wuthering Heights, Take Two: The TV Series

I fleetingly wondered if this might be something from The Onion when I first read it. A TV-series based on Wuthering Heights, but set in Napa? Anyone who's ever been to Napa knows it's a bit tonier than "the moors" described in the novel, but I'll give them points for creativity. A Gossip Girl scribe is helping to pen the series. Hmmmm. I hope they don't make this too "soapy." For some reason I keep hearkening back to that 80s-era TV miniseries Fresno which revolved around a raisin-producing dynasty.

October 1, 2012

Macbeth and Time Travel in Looper

Till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane

Proving once again that, if you look hard enough, you can find Shakespeare in just about anything, Adam Sternbergh at the New York Times has an interview with Looper director, Rian Johnson, where Johnson mentions Macbeth as inspiration for his sci-fi flick:

"[Macbeth is] ...a kind of time-travel story itself, insofar as the main character is told, right at the start, what the future holds, and that knowledge affects all his subsequent actions, 'right up to the fact that Macbeth does all these horrible things to retain this vision of what the future could be,' Johnson says."  
You'll want to read the interview for more of Johnson's sources, including Casablanca. (Amy and I both saw Looper this weekend and thought it fantastically entertaining.) Sadly, thanks to the recession, my "hipster" neighborhood is already starting to resemble the urban dystopia shown in the film. You can read more about Looper and its portrayal of income inequality at Ed Champion's Reluctant Habits. --Kim