31 Horrifying Days- Day 11: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

I’ve been watching and reviewing the new El Rey series, so I decided it was time for a refresher of the original incarnation.

The film is grittier, on TV Zane Holtz and DJ Cotrona never beak a sweat even in their suitcoats in the desert heat. Clooney looks appropriately greasy, there’s nudity, creative cussing and more carnage. The movie, which is 1/2 criminal caper and then abruptly turns into a vampire flick; progresses quickly in comparison.

Which makes sense, characters get well fleshed out. We see why Jacob’s faith is shaken, we see why Kate is willing to do whiskey shots with an ex-con who has them hostage. Santanica becomes a sympathetic character. In the film version she’s one of those spicy latina cliches and sticks her foot in Tarantino’s mouth.

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In the series she needs Richie, in the film? She just chomps him. We meet Seth’s wife, where in the film she’s just an off handed comment. The cops who are cannon fodder in the flick get motivation, background and emotion in the series.

But there’s one character who doesn’t: Frost. But they have the same archetype. Big black dudes who are former military. But the film’s Frost (played by Fred Williamson, who has been making movies since the early 70s, and has quite a few upcoming) is integral to the longevity of the protagonists, he’s big as a house, but compared to war he thinks killing some vampires isn’t much trouble, he starts telling grisly a tale of serving in ‘Nam when Sex Machine goes vamp and takes a bite. but he fights until the end. The series’ Frost, who they find hiding in the supply room served in the Middle East and the vampires are giving him flashbacks. Very different reactions. He overcomes his anxiety just in time to fulfill the trope and sacrifice himself for all the white people. It’s ridiculous.

And Rodriguez has created a sensibly diverse cast for the series other than that major folly.

Also, Sex Machine isn’t in the series and instead Jake Busey plays Professor Aiden Tanner which is the direct opposite.

What I like better about the film? why do vampires have to be sympathetic, anyway? I like them as the are here, inexplicable monsters with insatiable thirst. It’s a mess of special effects, but it holds up well for being 18 years old, the vampires morphing into huge rats, faces in their stomachs, exploding pustules.

But is it scary? Nope. A wild ride at Titty Twisters, but not much in terms of a fear factor.

4.25/5

31 Horrifying Day- Day 10: Nosferatu (1922)

Remember when vampires were scary?

If you were born after Lost Boys (1987) came out… probably not. Aside from a sprinkling here and there: Recently, vampires are tortured love interests (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, Twilight, “TrueBlood”), action heroes (Blade, Underworld) or humans with strange dietary preferences (again “TrueBlood”, NBC’s recently cancelled “Dracula”), or as victims of a mutation (“V Wars”) with a political agenda (again “TrueBlood”). I miss vampires being ugly as sin, the most recent noteworthy example of vampires done ghoulishly in 30 Days of Night. 

The reason I bring up 2007’s 30 Days of Night, is because it really added something to the vampire lore as a whole. Southern Vampires make no sense. They didn’t make sense when Anne Rice did it, they did’t make sense when Charlaine Harris did it, they don’t make sense when Laurell K Hamilton does it, they don’t make sense in Forsaken. #1, It’s hot. You have corpses in the sun. #2, the days are too short. 30 Days of Night has vampires taking over an Alaskan town where they will rain terror down on anyone who didn’t get out of there for a damn month without needing to go hide in their coffins. Steve Niles wrote the original comic book miniseries that they movie was based off of and the illustration by Ben Templesmith, the movie stayed true in style to the original source.

Nosferatu is an adaptation of the novel Dracula. A wealthy castle owner is looking to move from Transylvania and needs a man to help with his affairs. The man slowly realizes that something is amiss but not before his wife becomes captivated by the creature of darkness and a chaotic whirlwind of death starts spreading. I know what you’re thinking, “If I’ve seen this done before -AND seen it with special effects, gore, good looking actors and WORDS- why should I see Nosferatu?” 

Vampire legends were created to explain mysterious plagues that cropped up in Europe and the US (actually, the states tended to blame witches, but that’s a whole ‘nother article). Nosferatu/Graf Orlok slowly affects his victims, causing delirium and malaise before fully consuming his victims. There are many references to plagues in this film, and Orlok travelled to Germany with coffins full of grave dirt, he drew strength from the cursed soil that he had been buried in. That makes far more sense than “modern” style vampires who choose to sleep in coffins. But adding to the plague references, Orlock’s coffins, when opened by the sailors who are transporting them to Germany, also unleash a swarm of rats. It really ramps up the creep factor, add that in that rats are known plague carriers who are inhabiting cursed soil? It’s clever. Of course most vampire films don’t reference the plague folklore any longer and instead the take on more current phenomena and explain violent unsolved murders; NBC’s “Dracula” and the brand new “Penny Dreadful” both reference Jack the Ripper, or STDs; Forsaken. 

But I like the grave dirt as a source of strength. I like the swarms of bugs and rats. I like that Orlok’s very shadow is menacing. 

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I love this movie. The acting is very theatrical. Movements are exaggerated because they had to be in the silent era. Max Shreck as Orlok is creepy, motions exaggeratedly stiff (like a corpse in rigor mortis), pointed ears and claws, wild facial expressions, because subtlety wouldn’t have shown through on film with the available resources of the era. Director FW Murnau made menace out of lights, shadows and small animals that most directors can’t replicate with CGI, expensive materials and modern camera techniques. Orlok appearing from out of shadows, while those around him fall ill and lose their wits is fascinating.

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And I love it. #ResurrectUglyVampires

Was it scary? Let’s face it. It’s based on Dracula, which wasn’t scary. But it was written to be captivating, which this film is. But it’s based on Dracula and we have all been down this road before. So, no, it’s not *scary*.

But I give it 5/5

V Wars #1

This is written by Jonathan Maberry. I have also read (some) of the book by the same name, in truth, it didn’t really capture my attention. I think partially this was due to the fact that the book switches between characters/settings in a way that actually works in comics but kind of sucks in long books. By the time you figure out what’s up with the actor, you’re back with some bikers and no one has ever met. But I chose to try this out because I enjoyed a couple of Maberry’s short stories (one from Apple for the Creature which I read in June of last year, when I used to read books all the time). 

Starts off with a different line up than the book. We begin with a man, a college professor who’s written academic books on vampirism, restraining a young girl vampire (who is his daughter) who has recently turned into a vampire -everyone carries the Ice virus and has potential to be a vampire. Conrad’s ex-wife and son are killed, his daughter is a vampire. He throws himself into his work, but as the President addresses the US, saying that vampires and humans can work together. That speciesism is just another form of discrimination. Only, it’s not. Because unlike real oppressed groups, vampires are actually dangerous. And they prove it by taking out the Speaker of the House. Not with fangs, but with a bullet.

Vampires and Vampire sympathizers quickly become an enemy. Vampires are ferocious, and have declared themselves the top of the food chain, but there are less of them. But if anyone can change at any time…

Human vs Vampire, a murder investigation, science and politics. Off to a well enough start.

Art by Alan Robinson is pretty gruesome, eyeballs fall out, broken teeth, buckets of blood. Colors (Jay Fotos) are muted and dark, back grounds stark, the sun might still shine there; by it does nothing to lighten the mood. It suits it well.

I had a chance to read over #0 that was given out on Free Comic Book Day, that one referenced the wannabe actor/barista from the novel, it was a great tie in for the source material and new series. 

I don’t know how to feel about the Ice virus causing vampirism. With the seeming political slant in the comics it reminds me of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy where all humans are carriers for a zombie virus that can amplify at anytime. They are very different in how this relates to political entities. 

Review! IN THE DARK a Horror Anthology

Drawn from a wide range of inspirations, stories reminiscent of childhood campfire tales, or Lovecraft-esque, or teenage action influenced and featuring creepy kids, self-sacrifice, monster hunters, petty revenge or something more existential, good people going bad, and bad kids going good from the tampering of horrific entities. What if the reason that jerk always checks his phone so much is that he needs to know when he’s going to change into a horrific beast? Nothing is as it seems here IN THE DARK.

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Among my faves:

The Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley penned story Guilloteens a punk rock Buffy homage with a Scooby gang monsterhunters and on one night they find a house being used by were-wizards for nefarious reasons. Were-wizards. So cool. Cute characters and extra blood spatters made awesome by artist Christian Wildgoose.

All Things Through Me by Mike Oliveri, artist Mike Henderson follows the son of a fallen priest who can communicate with the dead and has a knack for possession on a house call in a small town and stumbles on something local law enforcement would rather he hadn’t.

When the Rain Comes by Steve Niles is a creepfest about repercussions of fearing what you don’t understand. Damien Worm’s super creepy art is killer here, cloudy scratches, scribbled silhouettes capture the essence of the mysterious creatures that come forth to a farmhouse after a flood.

The Body by Tim Seeley, art by Stephen Green, mixes urban violence with a supernatural avenger.

Final Meal by Christopher Sebela and Zack Soto makes me glad to be vegan after reading this eerie tale about feeling like a God on the top of the food chain following a sad character who can’t get enough of sucking life from between his teeth.

The One That Got Away, written by Scott Snyder (who, y’know, writes both metropolis and Gotham’s heroic dudes) plays off our expectations when a young boy is approached by a knife wielding character.

Brian Keene’s The Lost Valley of the Dead is set in a wild West zombie plague. Tadd Galusha brings it with well drawn zombie animals sporting dripping fangs and exposed ribs. In trying to escape the disease they find a hidden entrance to a world of dinosaurs ..things get even crazier when the T-Rex ingests the zombie coyotes. Zombie freaking dinosaurs.

Swan Song by Rachel Deering takes a break from the plethora of werewolves and features a gorgeous vampire and the dashing would be hero who unknowingly unleashes a monster.

Extra treats- faux vintage ads and page 185’s horror trivia crossword! I’m thinking about sending $3.25 to get my “Creature in a Crate”.

Whether you like your villains internal, supernatural or humanly homicidal and your main characters twisted, teenaged, tragic or triumphant and your settings futuristic, realistic or rustic IN THE DARK has something for you. If you didn’t get in on the ground floor for this one order one from your local comic shop, IDW is printing and shipping this rad compilation soon.

Dracula- Episode 9

Mina lays in the hospital with vague recollections of a bloody and violent Grayson saving her life. He’s left her a single red rose. Renfield tries to convince Grayson that Davenport alone was seeking vengeance aginst Grayson and NOT the Order of the Dragon. Grayson says the it stinks of high order: using women and children to get revenge. Renfield is correct, of course. Van Helsing explains that he is no longer allied with Grayson, Renfield tries to talk sense into him, but he declines.

Lady Jayne is going on about various violent acts that she will carry out against vampires and Browning confides that his children have been abducted. He has proof that Grayson blackmailed Daniel and Lord Laurent. Browning is convinced that Grayson is Dracula.. Lady Jayne doesn’t buy it and is visibly frustrated at the accusation although they are no longer lovers.

Harker leaves Lucy’s, as he does she calls out to him. Harker looks some version of disgusted/upset/guilty (I’m not sure what he is emoting here). Lucy’s mother sees him leave and asks the negligee clad Lucy what she has done. Lucy closes the door on her mother.

A raid on Grayson’s estate. Renfield, who is his lawyer says that the warrant is invalid and that he will charge the police with criminal trespassing and vandalism. They are searching for evidence that Grayson has taken Browning’s children. The nonplussed Grayson tells them they have his permission.

But Grayson hasn’t taken them… Renfield thinks that it was perhaps Van Helsing.

Harker waits in Browning’s carriage. Grayson “puts Renfield in his place” in a way that was degrading and unneccessary. A crying Lucy confesses to her seemingly caring mother that she’s fallen in love with Mina her mother becomes outraged and Lucy is once again confronted with someone she cares for who does not accept her. Harker asks Browning about the attack on Mina, he says that the Order would never have sanctioned it and that Davenport acted alone… he also realizes that Harker killed Davenport… seems there’s a vacancy in the Order that Harker can fill he is welcomed aboard, his first mission is to steal blueprints for Grayson’s resonator.

Grayson meets with Van Helsing. Van Helsing reiterates that he thinks Grayson behaves irresponsibly and impulsively. Grayson accuses Van Helsing of stealing Browning’s children… he has, but he cannot kill him, no matter how badly he thinks Browning deserves the grief while Grayson feeds his enemies to hungry vamps.

A weak and fragile Mina lays in her hospital bed with Grayson lurking/creeping/watching her.. she realizes that he has been leaving her the roses. Which seemed pretty obvious. Mina says she remembers him saving her… he tells her that he was in Carfax, that she doesn’t remember it right. She disagrees and says she remembers he was there (although oddly enough she isn’t scared as she was earlier.) She asks Grayson to stay. but the sun has been up too long, and he takes his leave.

Lady Jayne goes to where the vampire attack occurs. Browning tells the police that his children are fine… they aren’t… but they have to keep that and the attack out of the public eye..

Lucy goes to visit Mina. Lucy brings her a bouquet and they are happy to see each other. Lucy is regretting her decision to deliberately hurt Mina.  Lucy tells Mina that she has to call off her engagement and forget about Jonathan. Mina demands to know what he has done… Through Lucy’s apology and avoidance Mina surmises that Lucy has slept with him… which is really weird since Mina knows Lucy only has eyes for her… ummm…

Harker is initiated in the Order… taking the oath that says he will put the Order before the needs of himself and all others in his life. Which he already does, so, that’s not new. Grayson has visited Mina three times while Harker has been scheming and sleeping with her best friend.

Van Helsing fashions a ransom note.

Grayson revels in his victory over the council, one day of direct action yielded more results than decades of covert scheming. The board of health says that Grayson’s energy company can reopen. This has been orchestrated by Browning so that they can cause a catastrophe at the demonstration -a failure so epic that no one will deem magnetism a viable energy option.

Mina busts out of the hospital and heads to Harker’s.. he enters and yells at her for being in his house?! The woman he is to marry! Harker blames the fact that he slept with Lucy entirely on Lucy… Mina doesn’t buy the slut shaming and calls Harker a pig. But Harker says one thing that’s true… Mina loves Grayson. And he knows it.

Outside a clumsy Mina catches a reflection of herself… appearing as Grayson’s dead wife. She passes out and back at the hospital Grayson visits her again. He teases her and she cheers up. But she cuts to the chase and asks what is happening between them. He tells Mina about his wife, Alana. Mina has dreamed about Alana, “she looks like me,” she says. “I owe that someone that I used to love a terrible debt and until I pay it I can’t move forward.” He reminds her that she loves Harker.. Mina confides about Harker’s infidelity with Lucy. Grayson gets all “How could  she?!” (look out!)

Grayson busts in on Lucy in the bath and sneaks up on her “If you insist on behaving like a monster, I shall make you one.” And he does. He bites her and then opens his own wrist forcing it in her mouth. He leaves in the blink of an eye leaving Lucy bloody and startled.

Well, Lucy got a shitty lot in the show… angst upon angst and then caught up in this convoluted deception. But at least we are rid of Harker -with Mina anyway. For now at least. I hate him. The way that Grayson treated Renfield in this episode flies in the face of their previously established relationship. Hated it. Next week: Lucy gets consumed and turned!!

Dracula: episode 8

Dracula is having sexy dreams about his former wife, and then the recollection of armored men breaking in and grabbing her away while he is beaten.

Currently Dracula is staring at Mina’s residence. “There is folly in this obsession.” Renfield tells him.

Mina is snooping around Van Helsing’s things again (last time she did this she created a potential vampire rat. This was never addressed, disappointingly). Her father comes to see what she is doing… and confronts her about the dance he caught between her and Grayson.

Lady Jayne and Davenport decide that there is indeed another elder vampire. (Not just the one she killed at her residence, Grayson’s friend). But the huntsman doesn’t find Grayson. She finds a female vampire (a black woman in fact, this show is beyond white and she doesn’t last long… unfortunately that’s a “thing” on this show) During the showdown, Lady Jayne easily beheads a man and the other woman confesses that dracula himself called her there.

Harker is in trouble. And he’s starting to put two and two together about Grayson, he thinks that Grayson killed the bookkeeper (he did).

Van Helsing can’t believe he killed a police magistrate (he did)

Grayson gets the sunlight serum. While Lady Jayne tells the Order of the Dragon that Dracula is in London. And tells the story of how the Order themselves changed Vlad the Impaler into Dracula. She vows to end it once and for all.

Harker tells Mina how violent and dangerous Grayson is. Mina doesn’t buy it when he tells her to stay away.

Grayson goes to see Lady Jayne. And she breaks up with him. She knows that his heart belongs to Mina, she’s known since she saw them dance at Mina and Jonathon’s engagement party. To his merit; he doesn’t deny it or make excuses… but he does say that he risked his life to protect her (he didn’t). She says that the whole time he was pretending she was Mina. He denies it (but he was).

Mina goes to see Grayson. She tells Grayson what Harker has come to her and said. “I would never lie to you, you have my word.” (but vague answers are us). She bizarrely tells him off, saying that her and Harker will not be used up by him.

Lucy is still inanely flirting with Harker. Harker turns her down flat. She begs for a kiss. He declines. So she tells Harker that Mina has been visiting Grayson. 

Grayson has a class A meltdown.

Harker confronts Mina about going to see Grayson against his wishes. Says that she invents reasons to see Grayson so that she can flirt with him (that’s not wrong… it’s pretty accurate, except that one last time)

A vampire lackey says that Dracula can walk in the day. “Dracula has bested God.” Lady Jayne feeds him some Holy Water he gurgles thick blood.

Van Helsing and Renfield talk business, discuss how they will go after High Council or the Dragon’s Head.

Mina steals Dracula’s blood sample from Van Helsing’s office (again) but as she is leaving 3 men break in. She kicks one in the shin and makes a run for it, but she is surrounded and one man shoves her down the stairs leaving her concussed. The men are primed to torture her (to destroy Grayson) …but Grayson shows up and starts ripping out throats. Then he impales them on the fence outside. Vlad the Impaler: Confirmed.

Harker and Grayson and her father are all at the hospital (if Harker thinks Grayson is a danger why does he let Grayson visit? At one point he even storms off leaving Grayson alone with Mina)

Hackett is Davenport’s man. Grayson tells Harker that the police will never believe him. Harker says that he will confront Davenport himself.

Davenport says Grayson is framing him. That Grayson sent Harker because one of them would be killed and either way he wins, either Davenport is dead or Harker is dead… then Grayson will have Mina. Harker falls to shambles under Davenports ranting and Harker shoots him… he sees the painting of someone looking mostly like Mina that Davenport stole from Grayson… and then heads over to Lucy’s. Lucy is not that into it, of course… but she’s satisfied that this will ruin Mina and Harker’s relationship and Mina will experience the pain that Mina inflicted on her. 

Great episode! Lot’s of vampire stuff happening. Beheadings, Grayson’s class A freak out, violence, lust, less fake science…

Bad stuff: it’s awful that a PoC character will walk on and I already know that they will be dead in 5 minutes. That’s ridiculous. Stop doing that. Also the fact that Lucy is so bitter and repressed and she’s the only LGBT character who is still alive? Not good. 

I hope Mina and Harker break up. I still hate Harker. How is it alright to tell your wife who not to see under the guise of “protecting her” but you leave her with this person while she is unconscious? Only one of those times required your interference and you picked the wrong one, Harker!

 

Feature and Follow Friday #3

Hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read.

This week’s activity: A photo-bomb with your favorite book!

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I’m not sure who is photo bombing who here.

Left to right; Lucinda, Queen of the Damned & Raphael.

Shout out to this week’s features, Kelly Walker and Girl in the Woods! Join up, make friends, say hi, follow some new blogs created by fun and interesting people. Follow the hosts, follow the features, follow anyone you think is cool, follow anyone who follows you. Hooray!

You can follow me on wordpress, bloglovin’ or on twitter! xoxo

My review for Moon Called will be up later today. Thanks for dropping by!