A new "Phantom"

Just in time for Halloween, Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced that his long-planned sequel to the smash hit musical The Phantom of the Opera will open next March in London, and November 2010 in New York. Titled “Love Never Dies”, it continues the story of the Phantom, who has left the Paris Opera House and moved to the fairgrounds of Coney Island in New York. According to an interview with Lloyd Webber, many of the characters from the original musical will be returning, including Christine, the Phantom’s love interest.

The musical The Phantom of the Opera is based on a book of the same name (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra) by French author Gaston Leroux, originally published in 1910. The musical premiered in 1986 in London and 1988 in the US, starring Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine. It is the longest-running musical in Broadway history, and the highest-grossing as well.

While Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is the most famous adaptation of the story, it is not the only one. There is a 1925 silent film starring Lon Chaney, a 1943 movie featuring Claude Rains as the Phantom, and the 2004 film version of the musical, starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson. Several authors have also written their own sequels to The Phantom of the Opera. Susan Kay’s 1990 novel Phantom is a reinterpretation of the story from the point of view of Erik, the Phantom. Frederick Forsyth’s The Phantom of Manhattan (1999) is a sequel to Lloyd Webber’s musical (rather than Leroux’s novel) in which the Phantom has moved to New York. Andrew Lloyd Webber's new sequel is said to be inspired by the same ideas as Forsyth's novel.

200 Years of Poe

The circumstances surrounding the exact nature of Edgar Allan Poe’s death still remain a mystery. The celebrated author was found wandering the streets of Baltimore confused, in a “pitiable condition,” and was taken to the hospital where he died four days later, at age 40. An also pitiable funeral was to follow, with a meager ten people in attendance and barely a footnote in the newspaper.

So it is only appropriate that this Sunday, October 11th, a funeral will be held in Baltimore, MD for the master of the macabre. 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth in 1809, and the 160th anniversary of his death on October 7th, 1849. Along with the funeral services to come this weekend, an open casket “visitation” service was held yesterday at the Poe House - complete with a creepy lifelike replica of Poe’s corpse.

Actor John Astin - better known as “Gomez Addams” of the original Addams Family television show - will be serving as Master of Ceremonies for the special event on Sunday, which will begin with a police-escorted funeral procession and two “services” in the afternoon. If you can’t make it to Baltimore this weekend to pay your respects, be sure to honor Mr. Poe this October by checking out some of the many materials available at the library.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #177

10 years ago, rumors of human sacrifice, ghosts and magic were just that - until journalist Paul Seaton came face to face with unspeakable evil at the abandoned Fischer House and barely escaped with his life. Still haunted by his loss, he is asked to return to prevent the house from claiming more unsuspecting souls.

Riveting and seductive, The House of Lost Souls* is a brooding and sinister tale of supernatural horror that unfolds gradually, building up suspense, and drawing the readers in. Atmospheric and cinematic, rich with historic details, a complex plot, engaging narrative devices, nonstop chills and gore, this U.S. debut from British F.G. Cottam terrifies and entertains. Likely first of a projected series. Don't miss it.

For fans of horror master Stephen King's Duma Key*; and newcomer Christopher Ransom's spanking new The Birthing House* (another FFF); and of course, a perennial classic - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

* = Starred reviews

HOT HOT Zombie Lit.

A ton of pre-pub hype didn't prepare us for the reception to Pride and prejudice and zombies: the classic Regency romance -- now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem! In Seth Grahame-Smith's Austen spin-off (with 85% of Jane's original text), life in Regency England has been disrupted by undead brain-eaters so aggressive that even young ladies are trained in the deadly arts of zombie defense. Elizabeth, skilled with sword, musket, and kung fu, is an especially gifted warrior, making her even more irresistible to Mr. Darcy, who is himself a fearsome slayer of zombies. A bloody good time is guaranteed.

The dark horse of the bunch (and a personal favorite) is perhaps Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S.G. Browne.

Andy Warner, newly risen zombie from a fatal car crash finds life after death sucks. The Undead are shunned, fearful of capture by Animal Control and subject to recreational zombie-bashing by Breathers (the living). Thank goodness for Undead Anonymous, where he meets gorgeous Rita, and Ray, a hunter who simmers a mean stew. So, what is that tasty special ingredient anyway? By turns funny, tender, and gruesome, you won't be disappointed.

For teens, there is Daniel Waters' Generation Dead, where dead teens are coming to life at Oakvale High. Goth girl Phoebe is drawn to the undead Tommy, while Adam, Phoebe’s best friend/secret admirer broods. What begins as a macabre teen love triangle swiftly morphs into a thought-provoking examination of intolerance. Utterly absorbing.

Take a peek at the eclectic list of recommended zombie flicks, soundtracks and playlists, in Devour Books, Not People: A Librarian Picks the Best Zombie Lit., this timely round-up of top picks in this hot genre will chill and entertain.

DVD Genre Spotlight: Silent Films

The AADL owns over 100 silent film DVDs, and now this high-quality collection has a DVD genre shelf for easier browsing. To the novice silent film viewer, some tropes of these films can seem stilted, but become rather seamless as you grow familiar with them. For example, the musical score is an omnipresent and integral component as it must perform several functions. The music must reflect a character's emotions, advance the action in a sequence, and set the tone for a scene. Also, intertitles appear frequently as brief frames of textual narrative or dialogue that help deliver the story.

Filmmakers during the silent film era (1888-1927) embraced several types of feature films, including comedy, drama, and fantasy. Some primers for silent film fandom that the AADL owns are the surreal Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for those interested in the darkly psychological, The Birth of a Nation, a perennially controversial drama, and almost any film from comedic geniuses Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin.

MAY

This 2003 movie is a sleeper. MAY is an awesome movie with great acting.

Tha main character, May, who is shy and quirky, is wonderfully played by Samantha Adams. May has been an outcast since childhood due to her lazy eye. She turns into the neighborhood joke because her mother insists she use a "pirate patch" to cover her lazy eye. Instead of making things better, it actually makes the situation worse. For her birthday, in order to cheer her up, May's mother gives her a doll that she cannot take out of the case and play with. Even though she cannot hold her new friend, she ultimately becomes best friends with the inaccessible doll in the box.

As May grows into an adult she stays best friends with her doll. She works at the animal hospital, and sews her own clothes in her spare time. One day she sees Adam, played by Ken Davitian, and instantly falls for him. They run into each other in the town's laundry mat, and soon begin a friendship. Through heartaches that follow, she begins to realize that only certain parts of people are perfect. May snaps, and her "macabre fix" of her disappointing life ensues.

Terrifically terrifying

Ready for a scary book for those cold winter nights? Get your hot chocolate and jammies on, you will need them since this book will NOT make you any warmer! International Horror award winner, the Terror by multiple award winning author, Dan Simmons, brings the reader up close to the trials of the 1840s Franklin Expedition to the Canadian Arctic. The expedition, while searching for the famed Northwest Passage, was besot by foul weather and eventually became lodged in the ice, never to be seen again. Simmons takes these true events and adds some horror and a touch of the supernatural. It is a very suspenseful book and extremely well-written. You won't have to go outside to get the feeling of the freezing Arctic temperatures, Simmons does it all for you!

The Graveyard Book: Audiobook

When a family is murdered only their baby son escapes, crawling away from his house and into the local graveyard. The boy is taken in by the ghosts and named Nobody Owens, otherwise known as Bod.

Even though he is alive, the ghosts and Bod's mysterious guardian Silas, teach him all the ways of the dead and make sure the graveyard is the safest place for him. But one day the man who killed Bod's family comes back to find him...

Neil Gaiman is both the author and audio performer of The Graveyard Book, a beautiful and gripping tale inspired by Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Gaiman's voices for his characters are spot on. You haven't lived (or perhaps had a fulfilling afterlife), until you've heard his rendention of Nehemiah Trot, the graveyard's very own poet. Each CD also begins with a superb musical rendition of the Danse Macabre. If you like this audiobook, you might also enjoy Coraline, another scary book for children read and written by Gaiman and soon to be a major motion picture.

Braaaiinninsss....

Fall is upon us and that means colder weather, cider mills, changing leaves, and Halloween! With the season of spooks nearing I thought it an appropriate time to warn you all about the upcoming invasion. That's right, on October 26th, 2008, Ann Arbor will be overrun by zombies!! No need to worry though as these zombies have better intentions and motives behind their staggering than the typical zombie. 10/26/08 is the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead and World Zombie Day and to help celebrate people are asked to bring non-perishable food donations to the zombie walk. All donations for the Ann Arbor walk will be given to Ann Arbor’s food bank Food Gatherers.

The walk will start at Espresso Royale

Twilight: Audiobook

You may have noticed the buzz when Stephenie Meyer's fourth book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, just came out this August or when the Twilight film grabbed Harry Potter's original release date of November 21st (it's not Twilight's fault, don't get mad at them). All this publicity also means that the original Twilight novel is still in hot demand here at the library. But if you're like me and you enjoy audiobooks, then there's a significantly shorter holds list on the Twilight audiobook.

As for the story and audio themselves, for any who've managed to avoid the media, Twilight is a vampire teen romance novel. For personal reasons Bella Swan (the name kinda makes me think of a certain Pirates of the Caribbean character) arrives in the small town of Forks to live with her father. Used to the warmth and sun of Arizona, Bella languishes in the dreary gloom of Washington state until she meets a strange boy at school...

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