Monday, March 25, 2013

Hammer DVD and Blu-ray releases in April

After a long dry spell, April sees the release of several Hammer Horror classics on home video. Each one had been released previously but are now back again after being out-of-print.

The Hammer Horror 3 Feature Film Set from Millennium Films is out next Tuesday, April 2nd, a 2-DVD collection including Dracula, Prince of Darkness, The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, and Frankenstein Created Woman. These titles were previously released as part of Anchor Bay's Hammer Collection. No word on any extras for this set, although the press release mentions "new extras" and Blu-ray collector editions. This may be an initial release to test the market demand, as "a full release schedule is planned", and if so the under-$10 price at online retailers makes this an easy decision.

On the 30th, Shout Factory brings us The Vampire Lovers on Blu-ray. This first entry in the Karnstein Trilogy stars Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith and Peter Cushing. MGM released this film on a Midnite Movies double-feature DVD with Countess Dracula, which is also due on Blu-ray (at some unspecified point) from Synapse Films. The MGM disc extras carry over, along with some new interviews with Madeline Smith and Hammer film scholars.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Akira Kurosawa

Today would have been the director's 103rd birthday. To commemorate the occasion, Hulu is offering all of Kurosawa's films from the Criterion Collection for free this weekend on their streaming video service. Watch a old favorite or check out a film you may not have seen before.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Montgolfier Brothers Flying Balloon and Adventuring Co.

Elevator pitch for an RPG campaign.

Montgolfier Brothers Flying Balloon and Adventuring Co.

The Montgolfier Brothers have invented the passenger balloon, and they use it to travel widely and have adventures. Light-hearted picaresque romps through an alternate history in the vein of Baron Munchausen, the Three Musketeers, memoirs of Pre-Revolution France, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, and Monty Python.

 In December 1782, the Montgolfier Brothers made the first test flight of their hot-air flying balloon design. They successfully flew in a balloon on September 19th, 1783, during an audience with King Louis XVI. While aloft, the brothers' balloon disappeared behind a low veil of mist. They found themselves traveling through the aether and soon their balloon was gliding above the Pyramids of Egypt. Upon guiding the balloon back into a low cloud bank they were returned to Paris. Through a series of trial-and-error test flights and some mathematical calculations by their friend Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier at the Académie des sciences, the brothers could direct their flight's course -- often to a known destination, and occasionally to unknown and far-off lands.

The Montgolfier Brothers use their knowledge of ballooning through the aether -- accompanied by other like-minded individuals -- on missions of discretion for rich nobility, occasionally for the King, against rival British balloonists, and always, for adventure.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fire Sale for Chris Huth

Freelance RPG illustrator and designer Chris Huth and his partner lost their home and possessions in an apartment fire last week. His most current project is 13th Age, which was about a week from layout completion.

From the Pelgrane Press news page:

...until Friday, all margin on sales from Pelgrane Press products from the store will go to help Chris get back on his feet. DriveThruRPG will also give their royalty share to Chris on Pelgrane products.

100% of the price of download sales, and 50% of all physical sales will go to Chris. This is one step of several that 13th Age creators Fire Opal Media and Pelgrane will be taking to help out.

If none of Pelgrane's current offerings appeal to you but you still wish to help, direct donations can be made to Chris's Paypal account. His email can be found in the comments at the above-linked page.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Conan and the Academy

I was surprised this week to see that Conan and the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian had been released. I was expecting it but didn't know that it was published at the end of November.

Brian Murphy wrote an outstanding review and critique of the book at The Silver Key (read the comments, too). Finding out that some of the scholars involved with the book are perpetuating ideas that were debunked years ago, and not using the latest existing scholarship, is disappointing. With luck I can find a discounted copy this summer at the ALA annual conference or at Gen Con.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

C.L. Moore and Arthur Machen

I just realized tonight that I missed the recent birthday anniversaries of two notable fantasy legends, C.L. Moore (102 years ago) and Arthur Machen (150!), whose works have influenced later fantasy and horror writers -- and RPG designers. Taranaich was on the case with the above-linked tributes.