Category Archives: vampires

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ~ Based on the novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the screenplay, this mash-up of the horror and historical genres is a lot better than it has a right to be, and yet, it should have been, and could have been a lot better.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a pretty good vampire slayer flick, and a half-decent horror flick. It tries very hard, sometimes almost desperately to make the historical part fit, and actually makes some pretty rational points about the philosophy of slavery throughout the history of mankind, and in the mind of man himself.

The problem is that the initial premise of the film, hell, the source material itself, is just ridiculous. Think about it. The idea that our celebrated sixteenth President had a secret identity hunting and killing vampires is just ludicrous – and it’s played straight, deadly straight. What’s missing is a sense of humor. Just a bit of whimsy or even a wink at the audience would go a long, long way toward improving this flick.

The movie is well done, as I said, and the fight scenes are pretty cool. The final train fight and the earlier stampede chase is especially dynamic. Benjamin Walker is excellent, and darned earnest, as the President, and I look forward to seeing him in other stuff. Turn your brain off, and just enjoy, and it’s not a bad movie at all.

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Somebody’s Been Watching Way Too Much Tim Burton…

Just the introduction of Scarygirl made me want to run out of the mall Hot Topic I was trapped in and throw up whatever hallucinogenic drug I had accidentally swallowed. Then I realized I was neither at the mall nor at a Tim Burton movie marathon. I was in my living room with the downloaded demo of Scarygirl. Sigh. At least I can delete it when I’m done writing about it, or at least that’s how I felt before playing it.

Scarygirl is based on the gothic graphic novel by Nathan Jurevicius and can probably be found at Hot Topic more often than your local comics shop. No offense meant, but it is 2012, and this whole Goth thing was over some time ago, like probably about the time “South Park” got wind of it. If you’re still Goth now, you’re either a vampire, living in the past, or really really committed – or all three. Again, no offense, The Bride leans that way sometimes, and I still love her.

Scarygirl is the story of a Goth chick who looks like a Tim Burton ragdoll and meets a friendly octopus who’s kind of obsessed with her. There are bunnies and owls and all manner of oddities along her way, but Scarygirl is a Goth chick with a mission, and that mission is to find out what’s what with a nightmare she keeps having. I think. I kinda dozed off.

Now all that said, gameplay is something else altogether. It’s still looks like Tim Burton threw up all over the screen, and the images are a bit disturbing, but it was fun, and even though it was a demo, I got a lot of play out of it, and for me, that’s saying something. It’s a fun world to explore, notably more fun to me than say Little BIG Planet or certainly Incredible Hulk. This is a platformer (see, I’m learning) definitely worth playing, thumbs up from the Non-Gamer.

The Better Bloodrayne

I don’t really know all that much about BloodRayne. What I know, other than two terrible movies, and one fantastic fan film starring Vera Vanguard, a review of which can be found here.

Recently I downloaded BloodRayne: Betrayal. I was thinking it would be cool. After all, what’s not cool about a hot chick killing Nazis and vampires, really, it sounds like the perfect game. The problem is, this game is really nothing like that at all. It’s not even as cool as previous BloodRayne games I’ve learned. Older versions of the game were actually similar to Tomb Raider in style, this one is a sidescroller (see, I’m learning the lingo), like Rolling Thunder or Bionic Commando. To me, the novice, this seems like a step backward in evolution. I definitely prefer Lara Croft to this weak 2D anime.

Like many games, I was unable to get very far. The game keeps it simple, half-human half-vampire BloodRayne is recruited by good vampires to fight bad vampires, but apparently not simple enough for me. This game would have been marked for deletion along with the others among The Rejected, had Crystal and Jeff not taken a liking to it.

Jeff, in his usual manner, got on the game and started kicking its ass. He was cruising across this side scroll whupping vampire butt left and right, though mostly right. The vampires good and bad were blowing up like Pookas and Fygars in Dig Dug. Have I mentioned how awesome Jeff is? Well, actually he might not be that great of a gamer, but he can sure make me look bad, not a hard feat.

As far as BloodRayne goes, I think I’m going to stick with Vera Vanguard. Like Jeff, she’s much cooler than this game.

The Movie I Can’t Watch

My mother-in-law and I talk about film a lot. An ongoing discussion seems to be that she doesn’t like horror movies – or creepy, scary, or anything like that of the kind. She’s often puzzled that I do like them. The argument that comes up most frequently is why would someone want to be scared. The point is I don’t want to be scared. I wouldn’t watch these things if they truly scared me. In fact, there is one movie I will not watch because it does absolutely terrify me.

Nosferatu – A Symphony of Horror ~ This 1922 classic of German silent horror is perhaps one of the greatest and most enigmatic and most legendary of all horror films – and I have made a conscious effort not to view it for years, as when I have, it’s given me nightmares, when I was able to finally get to sleep that is.

I’m not sure if it’s the imagery of the horrifying Max Schreck who played the vampire Graf Orlok or not. I am able to watch movies that emulate the visuals like the remake from 1979, or “‘Salem’s Lot,” or even Shadow of the Vampire, which is about the making of this film. So it just must be the wonderful shadowy direction of F.W. Murnau, and Max Schreck himself. Oddly enough, Graf Orlok only appears on screen for nine minutes, but it’s enough. No matter how you cut it, Schreck is scary here. The Renfield character played by Alexander Granach is also pretty fearsome as well.

Nosferatu is an unauthorized filming of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” thus why so many names are changed while the story remains much the same. Because of an ugly lawsuit, Stoker’s widow had every print and negative of the movie destroyed. Luckily (depending on your outlook), copies reappeared in other countries around the world. It has since fallen into the public domain, and has been accompanied by several wonderful soundtracks, including one by Type O Negative.

I had mentioned the shadow work previously. It is some of the best ever in film history in my opinion, and the German silents were masters of the artform. And still, I won’t watch it. I love watching old movies on the big screen, which is why I’m such a big fan of the Silver Screen Classics on the local Rave, but notably I once turned down a chance to see Nosferatu in a theater, it scares me that much. I probably won’t even look at the pics supporting this blog entry.

Happy Halloween.

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Remembering L.A. Banks

Author Leslie Esdaile Banks passed away yesterday morning after a relatively short battle with cancer. She also wrote under the names L.A. Banks, which I knew her by, as well as Leslie Esdaile, and Leslie E. Banks.

Banks wrote prolifically, with various projects and genres to her name(s), including horror, crime thrillers and romance among others. She wrote the Vampire Huntress and Crimson Moon series, two “Soul Food” books based on the TV series, and the Laura Caldwell books, among others.

Back in the day, L.A. Banks was also the first professional author I interviewed as host of the Fear of Writing Chatroom, later The Writer’s Chatroom. She was very sweet and understanding of newbness in doing the whole chat interview thing, and was a wonderful guest. She even came back a couple times, hopefully when I was better at it.

Banks was a wonderful teacher and always took time to help writers, new and experienced, both in those interviews and outside them. When I finally met her years after those interviews, she remembered me, which meant a lot. She taught me a lot, every time I saw her or saw her talk, I learned more about the craft. We have lost not only a terrific writer, but a wonderful woman and teacher as well. She’ll be missed.

Leslie’s friend and fellow author Jonathan Maberry announced in various writers groups yesterday the following event: “Leslie was a great writer, a brilliant speaker and teacher, a tireless supporter of literacy, and a dear friend. Her friends and colleagues in the Liars Club will host Leslie’s Big Hug Writers Bash to raise money to help Leslie’s daughter. (Saturday, August 6th, beginning at 7 p.m. and going on till closing at Smokey Joe’s Bar located at 208 S. 40th Street in University City on the University of Pennsylvania campus.). Silent Auction items include manuscript critiques; ebook and print-on-demand manuscript design services; tickets and a backstage tour for Jersey Boys on Broadway; full scholarships to writer’s conferences; and signed books by New York Times bestselling authors such as Charlain Harris, Heather Graham and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Tickets are available at the door and via eventbrite.”

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True Blood: Evil Is Going On

Finally, the long awaited season finale of “True Blood.” It’s gone by far too quick, and now the waiting begins for next summer. Next summer? Maaan…

So the faerie, the fae, Sookie’s people, might also be aliens, eh? It’s a curious thought. I have compared “True Blood” to “Dark Shadows” frequently this season. The gothic soap opera had a habit of doing everything within its genre and then throwing in the kitchen sink as well. We saw vampires, werewolves, ghosts, Frankenstein-ish monsters, time travel and even Lovecraftian horrors – but aliens, alien abductions and the like are more of a seventies phenomenon. Had “Dark Shadows” stayed on the air I guess they would’ve gotten o that sooner or later. Therefore, it’s probably fair game for “True Blood” as well. Can’t wait to see how it plays out.

We were left with one of the more thrilling cliffhangers so far last time, Eric and Russell both burning up in the sunshine. Such a good cliffhanger, I almost wish it had been a season ending cliffhanger, but such is this season of “True Blood” – it’s never what you expect.

Sookie insists on bringing Eric back inside to save him. The whole time Sookie and company were trying to save Eric inside Fangtasia I couldn’t help wondering one thing – is anyone watching Russell? Couldn’t he have just have crawled away to safety? Personally I was shocked when they saved Russell too. Eric’s not a good listener by the way. Godric said ‘forgive,’ not ‘save.’

The new subplots again supercede the main plot as Sam outs himself to Tara as a shapeshifter, and frankly (pun unintended) I find it hard to believe she took it as well as she did. I would have thought she would just run as far as she possibly could from this crazy town of Bon Temps. And it’s possible she did. I will miss her, but damn smart girl, if it’s true.

Now I’m not fond of Sookie to begin with, but I found it really distasteful the way she was taunting Russell like a trapped animal. No matter how evil the bad guy is – I’m pretty sure the rule for the good guy is to show mercy, or at least not be a sore winner. In fact, rule number one for heroes should be, don’t be a dick. Like Sookie.

The Hotshot subplot came to a head of sorts, but mostly it’s just set-up from the books and for next season. Jason is now apparently the new caretaker of the Jackson Whites, I mean the Pineys, ahem, I mean the shifters who sell V, meth and need dental badly. There’s more to come, according to the books, and I would have rather seen it happen all within one season.

Lafayette’s V aftershocks have taken on an interesting aspect as he has become slightly prescient. This will obviously be shorthand for the writers to tease the viewers with what’s to come. As we find out that Jesus is a witch, we are assured that witches and Wiccans and voodoo will abound in the next season. But again, I am bothered. Why introduce new storylines in the last twenty minutes or so of the season finale, especially when the main story has not come to a close?

We get to see a very dark side to Bill as well as a very dirty secret reaching back to the start of the show. This is a good thing as it adds a twist to this story’s ending. There is also an interesting parallel with Sam. We are told that both of their recent dark turns are actually how they have always been, we just didn’t know it. I don’t know however if Alan Ball and company have succeeded in making me believe this.

We leave as we began. Sookie rejoins the faerie folk. Next season should be interesting if nothing else. Did I like this one? You guess. I can’t wait until next summer.

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True Blood: Fresh Blood

This episode’s title is “Fresh Blood,” and it really does feel like such, more like a ‘new start,’ actually. It feels like we are playing catch up with all the new subplots, and some are completely new as of this episode. It’s almost like a new season. The highlight of the episode is Eric’s confrontations with Russell, and to me, much of the rest of it pales in comparison. A vampire who declares war on both the vampire and human worlds should be an unignorable main plot, don’t you think? And shouldn’t you tie up old loose ends before you unravel new knots?

Some random thoughts about what else happened this time around: the ‘In Memoriam’ mini-feature that opened this episode was interesting. Arlene consults the ‘Wiccan’ waitress as to how to get rid of her baby to mixed results. Bill and Sookie play let’s-pretend-we’re-normal. Andy confesses to Tara what really happened to Eggs in a less than satisfying sequence. Lafayette has some V aftershocks after refusing to do more with Jesus. Sam throws a drunken tantrum, then has a moment or two with Tara. Jason picks a fight instead of dealing with his shifter girlfriend or looking for Sookie.

None of the above have anything to do with Russell or Eric, and it’s sad. When they do get to it, it rocks. The climax, and Eric’s plan, and the cliffhanger. Oh. My. God. Imagine if the whole episode had been like this. That would have really rocked. Please, next time, more main story, and less subplots, and set-up for subplots. Thanks!

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True Blood: I Smell a Rat

A lot happened in this episode of “True Blood,” but really none of it was fulfilling. Sure, it had been stuff we had been waiting on for some time, but none of it was what we wanted to see. On the cliffhanger we got last time, this should have been all about Russell Edgington, but it seemed as if the live murder and declaration of war on live television was almost a non-event.

There were interesting bits. We got a round of secret origins with Sam, Jason finally confessed to Tara he shot Eggs, Eric wrote his will, Lafayette and Jesus took a v-trip that flashed forward on what may be next season’s big storyline, and of course we finally found out what Sookie is. On that last one, in Sookie’s own words, “Well, that’s lame.” And of course I did pat myself on the back for figuring it out earlier in the season without the benefit of reading the books. All this was good, but it wasn’t what we wanted.

“I Smell a Rat” was for the “True Blood” TV series what we used to call a fill-in issue in the comic book biz. It was a placeholder, to keep the show on schedule, but essentially it did not continue any storylines or cliffhangers. Comics eventually got rid of that tactic. I really wish “True Blood” hadn’t brought it back. Boo hiss.

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True Blood: Everything Is Broken

In the pre-credit teaser of this episode we get our first look at the vampire law enforcement/military. They are very Robocop, very Starship Troopers, and very old school cyberpunk, and of course, they are armed with silver. My first thought is ‘kewl,’ but my second thought is ‘how do you keep something like that a secret?’ I’m all for secret empires and ages-old illuminati and the like, but whoa.

“Everything Is Broken,” title derived from the Bob Dylan tune that closes the episode, is written by Alexander Woo, who also wrote the less than satisfactory episode “It Hurts Me Too” from earlier this season. We open on Russell cradling what’s left of Talbot and then move to a vampirically erotic shower scene with Bill and Sookie. Nice juxtaposition. The chatter between them, about what normal couples do, is fun and charming.

When Sam suggested to Tara that she see a shrink, I nearly snarfed Coke through my nose. I think the last thing this show needs is a psychologist creeping around Bon Temps. They would have to commit the whole town! Crazy aside, it’s a good episode for other things. Bill and Sookie get some, Lafayette and Jesus get some, and Sam’s brother gets some.

Eric rats Russell out to The Authority (not the comic, although that’s the first thing I think of when I type that). Full confession, baby. Only the result is not what he hoped. They leave him high and dry. Russell is too hot to handle, so if something is to be done, Eric has to do it himself.

Bill gets to visit fairyland. I have to wonder at the logic of this however. After Sookie’s blood saved his life, there was a weird effect where he could momentarily stand the sunlight. Here, he goes to that watery place of light near the cemetery and the hostess says he’s there because he has Sookie’s blood. But now, hasn’t Bill had Sookie’s blood before this? Why hasn’t this come up before this?

Franklin! He sure scared the crap out of Tara, but we knew he wouldn’t be gone long. Lesson learned for folks not in the know, like Tara – you must stake or decapitate a vampire or they just ain’t dead. Stake in the heart, or head off body, or there’s just no true death.

And finally, Russell takes his war public and worldwide – wow and holy crap – in one of the best cliffhangers on television in quite some time. I cannot wait for the next episode!

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True Blood: Night on the Sun

The episode begins with the touching parting of Sookie and Bill in one of the most twisted and bizarre mutual “it’s not you, it’s me” break-up exchanges ever. But of course we know, per Alan Ball, that they’ll be back together again, for good.

Supervising producer and writer of this episode, Raelle Tucker, finally gives us what is really going on with Arlene being pregnant. Nice. I guess the show is tired of rifting off “Dark Shadows” and decided to do a little “Dexter” as well.

Eric’s subtle game with Russell escalates and gets juicy. The pissing contest is great, but I’m happy to see some action finally happening. I loved the line about Eric waiting a thousand years for Russell. Talbot continues, although not for long, to amuse.

My favorite bit in the whole episode was when Jason thinks “Shut up, brain” to keep Sookie from reading his thoughts. I also liked Bill and Jessica’s workout at vamp speed. I’m glad fate brought Lafayette and Jesus back together. And catfights are always more welcome than dogfights. And what’s up with all the crying in this episode? Looking forward to the next one.

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