Saturday, November 28, 2009

Night of the Living Red

I've been getting ready to get back into the analog method of painting, recently, and here's my first try at watercolor (well, my first try in like 20 years). I love watercolor! Stuff happens with watercolor that you can't quite arrive at digitally. It's hard to compete with the undo button, though and I made a mistake with this one that lead me to stop before I would have. Not too shabby for an abortive effort, though. The painting is actually a blue-green. Everything was going okey until I threw the green in, though. So I scanned it and tweaked the color and settled on a nice juicy red. Anyway, I'll definitely be working with watercolors a lot more, now, even if I end up finishing on the computer. And I'll stay away from green.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Humphrey Bogart as Dr. X

A lot of people aren't aware that Bogey actually did have one bogeyman role, in 1939's The Return of Dr. X. The Original Dr. X was about the development of synthetic flesh for nefarious purposes. The main connection the sequel has is a new Dr. X (Bogart's Dr. Maurice Xavier) and the development of synthetic blood for initially altruistic purposes (but you know how that goes). It was an embarrassing role in a b movie for Bogart at a time when the actor's ship was just coming in (he was about to start on a movie called High Sierra, which would launch him to stardom) but it's interesting for it's novelties. First of all, it has Bogart in his only horror movie role. The character of Dr. X is also interesting because it seems to anticipate the Nazi mad scientist--a staple of the horror genre in the decades to come--who sees his unwilling experimental subjects as quite disposable to his ambition to live forever.

The movie is very competently shot by busy director Vincent Sherman (who lived to be 100!), with all the trademarks of what would more recently come to be known as cinema noir, but it is the protagonist's odd introduction to Bogart's unnerving bespectacled Dr. X, stroking a lab rabbit (a rabbit which has some significance in the story), that really struck my fancy. It was ripe for a Warner Bros. send-up starring Bugs Bunny as the rabbit. Due to a mysterious affliction, Dr. X has a ghastly pallor, a hand that's cold to the touch and a lame left arm. And the white streaks in his hair, which garners a probably unintended association when one character refers to him as a skunk. The movie's plot is rife with unfunny comic relief offset by chuckle-inspiring science and it's at least worth a look for fans of the genre and of famous actors in early camp roles. Curiously, the trailer for The Return of Dr. X is made from footage not seen in the actual movie and seems to play up Bogart's typical gangster persona and hints at a rather more interesting movie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Barbara Steele in Black Sunday

Update! 1/4/13 I dug up the old file and saved it in a larger size. The old one was so dinky! I also tweaked the colors and resigned it.

This is genre goddess Barbara Steele in half of her dual role in the seminal Mario Bava horror film La Maschera del Demonio, known in America as Black Sunday. In this scene Steele is Ukrainian noblewoman Katia Vajda walking the dogs on the family estate, where she encounters our protagonists. I don't know if this is considered one of the iconic moments of the film but I've always liked it. I'd love to do a huge oil painting of this but for now I'll move on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009