Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wonderful, Magical Literary Elixirs II

I followed “Elixirs I” with a sequel (alas, its only), but limited the stories and expanded the wraparound this time, again with Steve supplying the atmospheric illustrations. In truth, the stories in this instance were written for Steve in mind (almost in a commissioned sort of vein); though one, “Of Summer Urges and Sweet, Balmy Blood”  (a coming-of-age yarn about ghouls) also incorporated my memories of Seaside Heights, NJ in the late 1960s, while the other was primarily inspired by Steve and, if I’m recalling matters correctly, his original intent to make a short monster movie with his friend, Dave Murray. Steve asked me to supply the story for such, and though the film never materialized, the idea yet led me to concoct “Space Monster”, wherein many of the lead character’s traits are based on Steve’s.  (For what it's worth, the monster’s design was  completely Steve's: based on a previous illustration he had fashioned of a Lovecraftian-type specimen.)

Incidentally, the lead character, a police officer who symbiotically harbors the monster, is named Kelton Wyndham: the first name a homage to Paul Marco’s beloved, bumbling cop from Ed Wood’s “Bride of the Monster”, “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and “Night of the Ghouls”, and Wyndham being a tribute to writer John Wyndham, who penned “Day of the Triffids” and “Midwitch Cuckoos”: the latter of which is the basis for the “Village of the Damned” and “Children of the Damned” movies.

The wraparound for “Elixirs II” focuses on a drive-in theater, and the stories that enfold emerge as movies upon the mystical, outdoor screen: indeed, a slightly different spin on the parenthesized concept of "Elixirs I".


  1. Just at first glance, it looks like Elixirs II may have a darker tone. Is this true with the content? Also, I look forward to your future posts on alternate realities - any idea as to when we all can get a glimpse of your thoughts?

  2. "Elixirs II" definitely has a more sinister slant than the original entry, though "Space Monster" is characterized (I firmly believe) by poignancy. "Of Summer Urges", on the other hand (beyond the nostalgic setting), is a yarn of ghoulish horror. Somewhere in the back of my mind, H.G. Lewis/David Friedman's "Color Me Blood Red" haunted my subconscious as I composed it, perhaps because of the shared seashore setting. On that basis alone, we're dealing with something significantly removed from the predominately easy-going, surreal quality of "Elixirs I", though the demon-propelled "Tormented" would have surely fit nicely in the sequel anthology.

    Also, "Elixirs II" gave me the chance to toy with creature concepts: "Space Monster" dealing with (surprise, surprise) an extra-terrestrial and "Summer Urges" insinuating a ghoul sub-culture. The grand mix-and-match of monsters is certainly not characteristic of "Elixirs II", but in its own basic way, I suppose the latter's ingredients led me to imagine ideas for "Flask of Eyes" well in advance of my ever fully tackling the formula, let alone ever daring to submit such to Damnation Books.


    Regarding your inquiry on alternate realities, I’ve always been deeply intrigued by such. I especially fancy “Twilight Zone”, “Outer Limits” and “Star Trek” episodes that cater to the concept. The parallel-universe idea ties the “Planet of the Apes” chapters together, as well, at least as far as I’m concerned. It’s just awe-inspiring to consider there may be any number of alternate outcomes to our actions and circumstances in life: that if we had the means to peer into other dimensions, we might actually see alternate variations of our lives, perhaps even scenarios where we don’t even exist or were never born, just like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

    It’s interesting, too, to think that a simple, seemingly innocent alteration in a set of circumstances (as initiated by something like time travel) might throw things asunder, creating an entirely different existence for us. Bradbury’s “Sound of Thunder” is a very good example of this. The film, “Another Earth”, also touches upon the idea, though via more subtle means.

    BTW, I once composed, and had published in a periodical called “Ranconteur”, a “Twilight Zone” type tale entitled, “Beckoning of a Desperate Man”. The story, in fact, deals with time travel (at least through mental means) and how a parallel/revisionist consequence stems from such. Yeah, I’ve been tinkering with this sort of mind-bending stuff for quite some time, and as such, it probably should come as no surprise that, in addition to “Flask” featuring monsters, the alternate-reality notion significantly drives its plot.

  3. Thanks for your reply! I agree, it is very interesting to think of certain circumstances that may have thrown things into an entirely different existence. Yes, there are several Star Trek episodes that cater to concept. There are so many current (or relatively current) sci-fi television shows out there that deal with alternate realities; some are Continuum, Fringe, Firefly and even Lost. If you ever review some any of these, I would recommend Fringe (which guest starred Leonard Nimoy in many episodes) as one of the major premises of this show is an alternate universe and the consequences that come with time travel and alternate reality cross overs. Cheers!

    1. My wife, Donna, thinks the world of "Fringe", particularly because of its alternate-reality samplings, and I firmly believe the series may be the most influential source to cater to the concept within recent years. (That if features Nimoy only helps.)

      Let's not forget, too, the latest "Star Trek" films play upon the premise that yet another alternate reality has been forged. ("Mirror, Mirror", of the original television incarnation, was but a starting point.)

      Also, as an afterthought to my previous reply, the alternate-reality view figures considerably in comic-book/superhero lore. "Watchmen" may be the most sophisticated, emotionally charged example of this. Additionally, the Gerad Christopher track of "Superboy" profoundly touches upon alternate-history escapades: something for which the show rarely receives credit.

      For what it's worth (in my arguably frivolous estimation), whenever we're offered a retelling of a favorite superhero, whether Batman, Superman...Spider-man, we're really being offered a parallel, co-existing origin: a notion certainly worth chewing upon...