Aug 17, 2010

Warren Lich

Warren Lich Trailer by Horrornewsnet
An unscheduled post! I tweeted about this "trailer" for Warren Lich by Shaun Rana earlier this year, and then went digging for it again. Since this blog serves as a way for me to do my research in a public fashion, I wanted to make sure I had this link readily available in the future, as I think it shares affinities with the descriptions of the walled Whitechapel in S.M. Peters's Whitechapel Gods. It also confirms Cory Gross's assertions about the steampunk aesthetic at The Great Steampunk Debate "Steampunk means ugly and dirty and faux-industrial and post-apocalyptic and whatever." This sentiment was echoed in a recent interview with Diana Vick at The Airship Ambassador, where Vick stated that "Due to some misapprehension or mislabeling, steampunk is the term often applied to anything not modern looking that is gritty and mechanical." The idea is the same, although the intentions are different: Gross has left steampunk behind because this is one of the most popular aesthetic expressions of steampunk; Vick admits it's a popular approach, but sees it as falling short - there is a core aesthetic of steampunk that doesn't look like this.

I stated in my post on Whitechapel Gods that Peters's book is one of the best summary expressions of this popular view of steampunk:
Despite some narrative missteps, S.M. Peters' Whitechapel Gods is one of the most representative works of twenty-first century steampunk currently in print. No other book is as successful as capturing the secondary world of grit, grime, and gilding that the subculture, art, and fashion have suggested. All those costumes at the steampunk cons involving metal arms or ridiculously huge steam rifles? They belong in the walled Whitechapel of S.M. Peters' imagination
In regards to Warren Lich, I'd say that Shaun Rana has been the most successful filmmaker so far in capturing this gritty, mechanical, faux-industrial side of steampunk. That isn't to say I think this is what steampunk looks like - it's just one of the ways of expressing an aesthetic that mixes technofantasy and neo-Victorian retrofuturism. And while it isn't inherently steampunk per se, I love the way the music in this clip seems to be inspired by John Carpenter's soundtracks to movies like Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China.

Here's a link to the "making of" Warren Lich. 
Sean Rana's official site 
There used to be some wallpapers from this film kicking around - if anyone finds them, please send me the link, or put it in the comments. 


  1. Not all steampunk is dirty and dark and dystopic, just might be just my idealistic side, but I feel "happy" or at least neutral steampunk is more true to the spirit of the aesthetic, as you put it.

  2. Marena, I think one can safely say that it started out that way - there's a lot more whimsy in Blaylock than Peters. I don't know that either is "truer" per se: that's why I went the aesthetic approach - it gives boundaries that allow for both Warren Lich AND The Amazing Screw-On Head.

  3. Hmmm. Wow. 'Brazil' redone as 'Shoot em'Up' in sepia tones.

    I think Cory's got a point.

  4. He's definitely got a point about one expression of steampunk, but I wouldn't say this is representative of the whole kit and kaboodle that steampunk currently is. I think it matches the "Melancholic" approach Cory talked about - dystopic, dark, etc. There's still whimsical, upbeat steampunk out there - Carriger, Blaylock, Lansdale, Oppel - there's lots of the 'other side' of steampunk still.

  5. You are right, there are at present many steampunks. But whether they are facets, genus, or hydra I do not know.

    As for this rough beast, slouching toward Albion, it's definitely not my brand of steampunk. A dystopic member of the brown coat/timelord tribe I suppose.

  6. Facets, Genus, or Hydra - good question Jack. I love the Yeats hijack there, Warren Lich certainly looks the part of the rough beast. Great comments!

  7. It amazes me that the so-called "director" Shaun Rana doesn't just quit, and leave it to real professionals to make movies. Also, he doesn't pay the people who work for him. Try and google "Shaun Rana Scam" and see what I mean.

  8. JoKKe-svin, sorry to hear the man behind the work is unscrupulous. I've allowed your comment to be here to help others be cautious in their dealings with Rana. Please let the conversation remain at that point. This post is about how steampunk is being used in the clip, not the moral failings of the director. I'd never post about H.P. Lovecraft and a host of other writers if I got concerned with their moral and ethical leanings.

  9. This is interesting, because the only thing I'm seeing when I google that is the same guy saying the same thing on a lot of sites.

    But the video is gone... so what's going on here?

  10. You can see the trailer here, Jason:

    I'll update the page to play the movie again, soon.


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