In part 2 of my Dieselpunk Halloween blog posts, I focus on the wonderful cinematic legacy left to us by Universal Pictures.
The first of the Universal Pictures monster movies was Dracula, which was released in 1931. The movie starred Bela Lugosi and was based on the 1924 stage play Dracula, which was adapted from the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. It was followed by the sequel Dracula’s Daughter in 1936.
Frankenstein was released the same year as Dracula. Frankenstein stars Colin Clive as Doctor Frankenstein with his creature played by Boris Karloff. Jack Pierce provided the creatures extraordinary make-up. Universal made numerous sequels, including The Bride of Frankenstein (1936) and the Son of Frankenstein.The Mummy
Released in 1932, The Mummy starred Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, and Arthur Byron. The Mummy was inspired by the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922.
The Invisible Man
Based on H. G. Wells' 1897 novel, The Invisible Man was released by Universal Pictures in 1933. The movie starred Claude Rains as Dr. Jack Griffin, who discovers a formula that made him invisible and drove him insane. Universal released several sequels, such as The Invisible Man Returns (1940) and a comedy The Invisible Woman (1940).
The Wolf Man
The 1941 The Wolf Man wasn’t Universal Pictures' first attempt at the werewolf story. That was Werewolf of London, which was released in 1935. However, The Wolf Man is the most famous of the two. The movie starred Lon Chaney Jr. in the title role. The supporting cast included a who’s who with Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, and Bela Lugosi. The Wolf Man has several sequels, including Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.
While not released by Universal Pictures, the Dieselpunk classic Young Frankenstein is a loving tribute to the aforementioned Universal Pictures monster movies. Produced and directed by Mel Brooks and co-written by Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein was released in 1974. The cast included Wilder as a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein while Peter Boyle played the creature. It co-starred Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, and Gene Hackman.
I don’t think that I’ve seen people as fired up about Halloween as I have this year. I know that I was getting fired up at the start of September, although I admit that I’m pretty much into Halloween year around. This is the first of two Halloween posts for this season.
Let’s face it; nothing represents Dieselpunk Halloween more than the works of H.P. Lovecraft. His work written in the 1920s and 30s embodies the horror literature of that era and continues to influence modern science-fiction and horror. A Dieselpunk Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without Lovecraft.
Obviously, the best way to enjoy Lovecraft is to read his actual works along with the multitude of authors who continue to build the Cthulhu Mythos.Several of Lovecraft’s stories can are on YouTube.
The YouTube channel Steininger has a fantastic illustrated reading of Lovecraft’s short story, Dagon.
The YouTube channel MSA Matthew has a great illustrated reading of The Nameless City.
As I mentioned, the Cthulhu Mythos continues to grow and to be re-imagined. Possibly the most outstanding production of the Cthulhu Mythos is Lovecraft Country, which is found on HBO Max.
For those who want to learn about Lovecraft’s works, I highly recommend the TedEd video Titan of terror: the dark imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.
Finally, to better understand Lovecraft’s concept of Cosmicism, also known as Cosmic Horror, I highly recommend the video ALIEN: What is Cosmic Horror?
In the mood for classic Jazz and Swing Era Halloween music? I highly recommend Vintage Halloween Music (re-upload), which has songs such as Witchcraft by Frank Sinatra and Swinging at the Séance by Glenn Miller. While the music plays, the video displays Halloween art from that era, as well.
Not where you can watch YouTube? I highly recommend Lee Presson & The Nails CD Last Requests.
In the past, I’ve written about how much decodence (the element or impression of the Jazz/ Swing Eras) is in the Fallout series. The decodence in Fallout is primarily found in the music used in the various versions of the game. This blog post focuses on a Fallout soundtrack that I recently found: Tenpenny Tower Radio.
First, some background is needed. Tenpenny Tower is a side quest of Fallout 3. Fallout 3 was the third in a series of games set in a post-apocalyptic world. According to Fallout Wiki,
“The game takes place in the year 2277, 200 years after the Great War, on the East Coast of what used to be the United States of America, mostly in Washington, D.C., southwest Maryland, western Pennsylvania and northeast Virginia.”
Also, according to Fallout Wiki,
"Tenpenny Tower is a fortified settlement in the Capital Wasteland in 2277. It is located out in the wastes west of the DC ruins, directly southwest of the RobCo main production facility.”
Tenpenny Tower Radio is roughly four and a half hours of twenties-era jazz. The only breaks are a DJ who regularly gives the station-id and motto along with “Tenpenny Truisms.”
So, how can one listen to Tenpenny Tower Radio? Even if you played Fallout 3, you wouldn’t hear it because, according to Fallout Wiki, Tenpenny Tower Radio was cut from the final edition of Fallout 3.
The only way that I’ve found to listen to Tenpenny Tower Radio is through YouTube. While the music is excellent, visually the video isn't much to see. The video consists of roughly twelve still screen-grabs from the game repeated ad nauseam throughout the four-and-a-half-hour playtime while the “radio” plays in the background.
Of all of the Fallout radio soundtracks that I’ve found online, Tenpenny Tower Radio is the most dieselpunk and most entertaining. I highly recommend it. I’ve embedded the YouTube video below.
Without a doubt, Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger is an iconic dieselpunk movie. Its fusion of World War 2 with comic book/ science-fiction makes it the perfect example of the genre. Now, Marvel has given us a new spin on this fantastic character.
The Marvel series What…? debuted on Disney+ on August 11th, 2021, with their first episode, What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? Because of a quick decision by Agent Carter right before the experiment that in the original resulted in Steve Rogers becoming Captain America, Carter rather than Rogers gets the serum. The result is that she obtains the superpower rather than him. Carter then successfully has herself promoted to Captain Carter despite the misogynist bias of her times, and a new superhero is born.When Captain Carter isn’t punching Nazis and Hydra goons, she’s fighting sexism at home. On top of it all, we see some fantastic dieselpunk mecha. Throw in a little Lovecraft, and you have an animated short that’s an adrenaline-fulled powerhouse.
In 2018, which seems like forever ago, I wrote about a subclass of dieselpunk that I termed “Gothic Dieselpunk,” which I defined as “A subclass of Dark Dieselpunk that emphasizes the gothic or the macabre.” I will say that Gothic Dieselpunk is probably my favorite subclass, which should be evident by looking at my avatar in the About Me frame of this blog.
In researching what to write, I found a website that I had bookmarked some time ago titled “Diesel Punk Goth.” I’m not sure how old the site is. The parent site is a website dedicated to the goth subculture.
Diesel Punk Goth page focuses a lot on differentiating between steampunk and dieselpunk. Their descriptions of dieselpunk are generally good. The writer was either into dieselpunk or really did their research.
A major disappointment is that while the site references Diesel Punk Goth (i.e., Gothic Dieselpunk), it doesn’t spend much time on the Goth aspect. It doesn’t define the difference between “Diesel Punk” and “Diesel Punk Goth.”
Another disappointing feature is that there are no images of Diesel Punk Goth. Let me include a few images that I would like to have seen:
One final critique of the page, and this is a minor one. While the page does a good job explaining dieselpunk and how it differs from steampunk, it spells the two genres oddly and inconsistently. Steampunk is at times spelled the standard “steampunk” while other times “Steam Punk.” And the use of the spelling “Diesel Punk” is bizarre.
I do recommend that you check out the website Diesel Punk Goth. If for no other reason, it does a good job explaining the difference between the genres and a good general explanation of dieselpunk.
Currently, controversy is brewing in State and Local governments across the U.S. over whether Critical Race Theory should be taught in public schools. According to Wikipedia, "Critical race theory (CRT) is a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States who seek to critically examine the intersection of race and U.S. law and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice. CRT examines social, cultural, and legal issues primarily as they relate to race and racism in the United States." Also, according to Wikipedia, "As of 2002, over 20 American law schools and at least three non-American law schools offered critical race theory courses or classes that covered the issue."
This would not be the first time governments have attempted to prevent the teaching of subjects of which they disapprove.
On March 25, 1925, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed what would be known as the Butler Act. Introduced by member John Washington Butler, this legislation prohibited public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of humankind's origin. The law also prevented teaching that humans evolved from what it referred to as lower orders of animals in place of the Biblical account.
The law was challenged by the ACLU in the famed Scopes Trial, in which John Scopes, a high school science teacher, agreed to be arrested on a charge of having taught evolution. Scopes was served a warrant on May 5, 1925. Scopes was found guilty during the trial, and the law was found to be constitutional by the Tennessee Supreme Court on the grounds that it didn't establish a "preference to any religious establishment or mode of worship." However, Scopes's conviction was reversed on a technicality.
In 1955, The Scopes Monkey Trial was turned into a play and later, in 1960, a major motion picture titled Inherit the Wind. The film was directed by Stanley Kramer and starred Spencer Tracy as lawyer Henry Drummond and Fredric March as his friend and rival Matthew Harrison Brady. It also features Gene Kelly, Dick York, Harry Morgan, Donna Anderson, Claude Akins, Noah Beery Jr., Florence Eldridge, and Jimmy Boyd.
Movies are back in the theaters and a big one this year is going to be Jungle Cruise by Disney, and it promises to be very Dieselpunk. The movie takes place in the early 20th century and involves a riverboat being hired to seek out the “tree of life,” which is supposed to have healing powers. Jungle Cruise stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt.
Some have tried to compare the movie Jungle Cruise to the Jazz Age classic African Queen. Uh, no. However, from the trailers, the movie looks like it will be a lot of mindless fun and just in time for summer.
I've gotten hooked on YouTube. No, not cat videos. Okay, a few like these Kittisaurus videos. However, there's a lot of good videos that Dieselpunks can enjoy. Here's just a few that I recommend.
Who Started World War I: Crash Course World History 210
Both Dieselpunks and Steampunks claim World War 1. In my opinion, Dieselpunk was conceived during the Great War, while Steampunk died during it. This video is an excellent summary of the events leading up to the catastrophic event that gave rise to the modern world.
7 Life Lessons From Albert Camus (Philosophy of Absurdism)
Albert Camus was an influential Jazz Age philosopher whose writings have shaped many of my views. His philosophy was laid out in the World War 2 French Resistance newspaper Combat, the book Myth of Sisyphus (1942), and The Rebel (1952). This video is a good introduction to his philosophy.
1984 by George Orwell, Part 1: Crash Course Literature 401
George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece 1984 is still relevant today. This video is a great introduction.
Unraveling the Myth of Ernest Hemingway (Feat. Lindsay Ellis) | It's Lit
Any list of influential Diesel Era writers must include Ernest Hemingway. This video strives to separate the man from the myth.