It doesn’t have a title yet. At least not one that’s announced. Still, when a friend pointed out this article that Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, is writing a horror film about a golem, I sat up straight in my chair. Since I don’t tend to dwell on children’s topics here, it may not be obvious that I was a real fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket, back when they came out. Alerted to this series by a cousin who was my daughter’s age, we made this bed-time reading for a few years. Handler, in the early days, did a pretty good job of keeping his identity secret. He’s written some adult fiction, and those of us who write know that readers want more of the same thing from a writer—if you want to survive you do what they ask.
I’m a very eclectic reader—that may be one reason I don’t have many followers on this blog. People like the same thing time and again. (I’ve always been suspicious of genres. One of the reasons, I suspect, that my students found my lectures interesting is that I drew from my eclectic reading, but that’s ancient history now.) In any case, A Series of Unfortunate Events was formative in my own writing. The movie remains one of the most gothic available, but it pales next to the novels. Yes, they’re written for young readers, but they’re also very well written for young readers. I discovered Snicket, or Handler, was Jewish when he wrote The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming. And now he’s turned his attention to one of my favorite monsters. The golem has been part of horror from the earliest days of the genre (that word!).
Paul Wegener and Henrik Galeen’s The Golem, part of a trilogy, came out in 1915. Before the Universal monsters. Even before Nosferatu. The legend of the golem—which may have inspired Frankenstein—has a long history. While not biblical, the golem does go back many centuries. Unfortunately these early horror films are lost, or mostly lost. The Golem and the Dancing Girl, from 1917, is a lost comedy horror. The third film, The Golem, How He Came into the World, from 1920, survives and is sometimes called “The Golem.” I wrote earlier about the excellent 2018 film The Golem by Doron and Yoav Paz, sensitive to Jewish issues in the seventeenth century. This sub-genre of golem movies may be starting to come into its own. It remains to be seen what Handler will do with it, but if his previous work is anything to go by, we may be in for a real treat.