The Dresden Files: ‘Storm Front’
Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902)
The Dresden Files
From ‘Storm Front’, by Jim Butcher:
“How much would it cost to retain your services?” That made me wary. What would someone like Marcone want me for? “My standard fee is fifty dollars an hour plus travel expenses,” I told him. “But it can vary, depending on what you need done.” Marcone nodded along with my sentences, as if encouraging me to speak. He wrinkled up his face as if carefully considering what he would say, and taking my well-being into account with grandfatherly concern. “How much would it set me back to have you not investigate something?” “You want to pay me to not do something?” “Let’s say I pay you your standard fee. That comes out to fourteen hundred a day, right?” “Twelve hundred, actually,” I corrected him. He beamed at me. “An honest man is a rare treasure. Twelve hundred a day. Let’s say I pay you for two weeks’ worth of work, Mister Dresden, and you take some time off. Go catch a few movies, get some extra sleep, that sort of thing.” I eyed him. “And for more than a thousand dollars a day, you want me to…?” “Do nothing, Mister Dresden.” Marcone smiled. “Nothing at all. Just relax, and put your feet up. And stay out of Detective Murphy’s way.” Ah-hah. Marcone didn’t want me looking into Tommy Tomm’s murder. Interesting. I looked out the window and squinted my eyes, as though thinking about it. “I’ve got the money with me,” Marcone said. “Cash on the spot. I’ll trust you to fulfill your end of the deal, Mister Dresden. You come highly recommended for your honesty.” “Mmmm. I don’t know, John. I’m kind of busy to be accepting any more accounts right now.” The car was almost to my office building. The car door was still unlocked. I hadn’t worn my seat belt, either—just in case I needed to throw the door open and jump out. See how I think ahead? It’s that wizardly intellect—and paranoia. Marcone’s smile faltered. His expression became earnest. “Mister Dresden, I am quite eager to establish a positive working relationship, here. If it’s the money, I can offer you more. Let’s say double your usual fee.” He steepled his hands in front of him as he talked, half-turning toward me. My God, I kept expecting him to tell me to go out there and win one for the Gipper. He smiled. “How does that sound?” “It isn’t the money, John,” I told him. I lazily locked my eyes onto his. “I just don’t think it’s going to work out.” To my surprise, he didn’t look away. Those who deal in magic learn to see the world in a slightly different light than everyone else. You gain a perspective you had never considered before, a way of thinking that would just never have occurred to you without exposure to the things a wizard sees and hears. When you look into someone’s eyes, you see them in that other light. And, for just a second, they see you in the same way. Marcone and I looked at one another. He was a soldier, a warrior, behind that relaxed smile and fatherly manner. He was going to get what he wanted and he was going to get it in the most efficient way possible. He was a dedicated man—dedicated to his goals, dedicated to his people. He never let fear affect him. He made a living on human misery and suffering, peddling in drugs and flesh and stolen goods, but he took steps to minimize that suffering because it was simply the most efficient means of running his business. He was furious over Tommy Tomm’s death—a cold and practical kind of fury that his rightful dominion had been invaded and challenged. He intended to find those responsible and deal with them in his own way—and he didn’t want the police interfering. He had killed before, and would again, and it would all mean nothing more to him than a business transaction, than paying for groceries in the checkout line. It was a dry and cool place, inside Gentleman Johnny Marcone. Except for one dim corner. There, hidden away from his everyday thoughts, there lurked a secret shame. I couldn’t quite see what it was. But I knew that somewhere in the past there was something that he would give anything to undo, would spill blood to erase. It was from that dark place that he drew his resolve, his strength. That was the way I saw him when I looked inside, past all his pretenses and defenses. And I was, on some instinctual level, certain that he had been aware of what I would see if I looked—that he had deliberately met my gaze, knowing what he would give away. That was his purpose in getting me alone. He wanted to take a peek at my soul. He wanted to see what sort of man I was. When I look into someone’s eyes, into their soul, their innermost being, they can see mine in return—the things I had done, the things I was willing to do, the things I was capable of doing. Most people who did that got really pale, at least. One woman had passed out entirely. I didn’t know what they saw when they looked in there—it wasn’t a place I poked around much, myself. John Marcone wasn’t like the other people who had seen my soul. He didn’t even blink an eye. He just looked and assessed, and after the moment had passed, he nodded at me as though he understood something. I got the uncomfortable impression that he had duped me. That he had found out more about me than I had about him. The first thing I felt was anger, anger at being manipulated, anger that he should presume to soulgaze upon me. Just a second later, I felt scared to death of this man. I had looked on his soul and it had been as solid and barren as a stainless-steel refrigerator. It was more than unsettling. He was strong, inside, savage and merciless without being cruel. He had a tiger’s soul. “All right, then,” he said, smoothly, and as though nothing had happened. “I won’t try to force my offer on you, Mister Dresden.” The car was slowing down as it approached my building, and Hendricks pulled over in front of it. “But let me offer you some advice.” He had dropped the father-talking-to-son act, and spoke in a calm and patient voice. “If you don’t charge for it.” Thank God for wisecracks. I was too rattled to have said anything intelligent. Marcone almost smiled. “I think you’ll be happier if you come down with the flu for a few days. This business that Detective Murphy has asked you to look into doesn’t need to be dragged out into the light. You won’t like what you see. It’s on my side of the fence. Just let me deal with it, and it won’t ever trouble you.”
A Spielberg film from 1982 focuses on a suburban family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts that abduct their youngest daughter. It was budgeted at 10.7 million dollars, and grossed $121.7 million at the Box Office
A 1973 film written by William Peter Blatty, who adopted the novel for the big screen. Jason Miller was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance of father Damien Karras, and he was offered the role of Taxi Driver afterward, but he turned it down. The plot follows the demonic possession of a young girl and her mother’s attempt to rescue her through an exorcism.
Ghostbusters is a 1984 supernatural comedy film in which three eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in New York City. It was budgeted at 25-30 million, and grossed $295.2 million at the Box Office.
Due to competition for special effects studios among various films in development at the time, Richard Edlund used part of the budget to found Boss Film Studio, which employed a combination of practical effects, miniatures, and puppets to deliver the ghoulish visuals.
Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984, to critical acclaim and became a cultural phenomenon. It was well received for its blend of comedy, action, and horror, and Murray’s performance was often singled out for praise. It was the number-one film in theaters for seven consecutive weeks and one of only four films to gross more than $100 million that year. Further theatrical releases have increased the total gross to around $295.2 million, making it one of the most successful comedy films of the 1980s.
“Ghostbusters”, a paranormal investigation and elimination service operating out of a disused firehouse. They develop high-tech nuclear-powered equipment to capture and contain ghosts, although business is initially slow.
After a paranormal encounter in her apartment, cellist Dana Barrett calls the Ghostbusters. She recounts witnessing a demonic dog-like creature in her refrigerator utter a single word: “Zuul”. Ray and Egon research Zuul and details of Dana’s building while Peter inspects her apartment and unsuccessfully attempts to seduce her. The Ghostbusters are hired to remove a gluttonous ghost, “Slimer,” from the Sedgewick Hotel. Having failed to properly test their equipment, Egon warns the group that crossing the energy streams of their ‘proton pack’ weapons could cause a catastrophic explosion. They capture the ghost and deposit it in an ecto-containment unit under the firehouse. Supernatural activity rapidly increases across the city and the Ghostbusters become famous; they hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore, to cope with the growing demand.
Peter meets with Dana and informs her Zuul was a demigod worshipped as a servant to “Gozer the Gozerian”, a shapeshifting god of destruction. Upon returning home, she is possessed by Zuul; a similar entity possesses her neighbor, Louis Tully. Peter arrives and finds the possessed Dana/Zuul claiming to be “the Gatekeeper”. Louis is brought to Egon by police officers and claims he is “Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster”. The Ghostbusters agree to keep the pair separated.
In jail, Ray and Egon reveal Ivo Shandor, leader of a Gozer-worshipping cult in the early 20th century, designed Dana’s building to function as an antenna to attract and concentrate spiritual energy to summon Gozer and bring about the apocalypse. Faced with supernatural chaos across the city, the Ghostbusters convince the mayor to release them.
The Ghostbusters travel to the apartment building roof as Dana/Zuul and Louis/Vinz open the gate between dimensions and transform into demonic dogs. Gozer appears as a woman and attacks the Ghostbusters then disappears when they attempt to retaliate. Her disembodied voice demands the Ghostbusters “choose the form of the destructor”.
The Exorcist: Father Merrin
In Northern Iraq, Catholic Priest Lankester Merrin participates in an archaeological dig which unearths a medallion of Saint Joseph and an artifact representing ‘Pazuzu’, an ancient demon.
John Constantine I: ‘The Demons you Know…’
He appears in Hellblazer issue #6, and has gone on to antagonize John Constantine more persistently down the years than almost any other demon. Nergal is known as, among other titles, the son of Enlil, suggesting an Ancient Sumerian presence. In ancient Babylon, he was known for powers of Hypnotism and transformation of the flesh. I won’t even explain that one to you.
“Nergal can take any form he pleases, but generally he looks like a muscular, red-skinned, bald, tall humanoid with sharp claws and fangs. He sometimes also has wings in this form. He has also been shown to have another, hideous form that looks like a series of different species melded together, including flies, humans and dogs.”
In the 1980s Nergal heard a prophecy that a child of great power would be born on Earth – and that ‘Resurrection Crusade’, a militant Christian army were planning to co-opt the prophecy to bring about a new Christ. He set down in London and created his own force: The Damnation Army. He also created a monster named Ironfist to murder the Christ-child’s prospective mother.
After Constantine was hospitalised in an accident, Nergal gave him a transfusion of his own ‘demonic blood,’ instantly healing John and giving him a taint he would carry for decades.
Knowing that the balance had been thrown in Nergal’s favour, John then gave up his body so that the plant elemental Swamp Thing might inhabit it to impregnate its human lover Abigail Cable – unwittingly fulfilling the prophecy. Nergal chased John’s body around the astral planes but was unable to catch him. John subsequently tricked Nergal into entering the astral planes once more and tempted him up to the borders of Heaven, where a vengeful angel ripped the demon apart.
But demons are notoriously difficult to kill – Nergal even more so than most – and so he returned to Hell to lick his (considerable) wounds. Years later Constantine crossed The First of the Fallen, who declared that he would take the magus’s soul. Nergal made the mistake of speaking out against this and so The First returned him to a mortal soul and cut him to pieces, scattering them across the wastelands of Hell. (1992)
Nergal proved to be a tenacious sort, however, and slowly regrew his demonic form. But upon returning to his throne years later he discovered that his daughter, Rosacarnis, had stolen his throne and left his brother, the impervious Sterocax, unconscious in a pool of poison. Nergal tried to reclaim his lands but his daughter refused to believe he was truly back and had him cut to pieces once more.
In ‘Poltergeist’ Accounts differ as to the level of Spielberg’s involvement, but it is clear that he was frequently on set during filming and exerted significant creative control. For that reason, some have expressed the view that Spielberg should be considered the film’s co-director or even main director, though both Spielberg and Hooper have disputed this.
Steven and Diane Freeling live in Cuesta Verde, a California planned community. Steven is a successful real estate agent, and Diane looks after their three children: 16-year old Dana, 8-year old Robbie, and 5-year old Carol Anne. Late one night, Carol Anne inexplicably converses with the family’s television set while it displays post-broadcast static. The next night, she again fixates on the television, and a ghostly white hand emerges from the screen, followed by a violent earthquake. As the family awakens from the quake, Carol Anne eerily declares “They’re here.”
Bizarre events occur the following day: a glass of milk spontaneously breaks, silverware bends, and furniture moves on its own. These phenomena initially seem benign, but soon grow more sinister. During a severe thunderstorm, the gnarled backyard tree seemingly comes alive. A large limb crashes through the children’s bedroom window and grabs Robbie, and attempts to devour him. While the family rushes outside to rescue Robbie, Carol Anne is drawn into a portal inside the closet. After saving Robbie from the tree, which got sucked into a tornado, the family frantically search for Carol Anne, only for her voice to call out from the television.
In the Exorcist, Regan’s condition worsens, and her body becomes covered with sores. A doctor mentions exorcism as a remote option, suggesting a possible psychological benefit. Kinderman visits Chris, explaining that the only plausible explanation for Dennings’ death is that he was pushed from Regan’s window. As Kinderman leaves, the possessed Regan stabs her genitals with a crucifix. To Chris’ horror, the possessed Regan turns her head backwards and speaks in Dennings’ voice. The possessed Regan is confined to her bedroom.
Chris seeks out Karras, who visits Regan. Over two meetings, the possessed Regan claims to be the Devil, himself, projectile vomits into Karras’ face, speaks in tongues, and reacts violently when tap water is sprinkled on her, which Karras had claimed was holy water—a point against genuine possession. The demon says it will remain in Regan until she is dead. Desperate, Chris confides that the possessed Regan killed Dennings. At night, Chris’ assistant calls Karras to the house. They witness the words “help me” materialize on Regan’s skin. Still ambivalent, Karras nevertheless concludes that an exorcism is warranted. His superior grants permission on the condition that an experienced priest lead the ritual while Karras assists. Merrin, having performed an exorcism before, is summoned.
In Ghostbusters, Against his earlier advice, Egon instructs the team to cross their proton energy streams at the dimensional gate. The resulting explosion destroys Gozer’s avatar, banishing it back to its dimension, and closes the gateway. The Ghostbusters rescue Dana and Louis from the wreckage and are welcomed on the street as heroes.
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