Monday, July 26, 2010

Well True Blood is halfway through its 3rd season...

What do you think so far?

Do you continue to enjoy the changes made to the books?

Who is your favourite characters, has it changed from the previous seasons?

Do you enjoy the inclusion of the werewolves, and what do you think of the portrayal of Alcide Herveaux?

What do you think of Alan Ball giving Sookie greater Faerie Powers?

And if you haven't seen the trailer for the second half of the season - here it is:

True Blood Season 3 Part 2 Trailer

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vampire/Horror Remakes and COUNT YORGA

In the lieu of old vampire/monster classics getting remade such as FRIGHT NIGHT and constant updates of DRACULA with Dracula: Year Zero, The Wolfman and so forth, what other vampire/monster movies from your past would you like to see remade (or not!) and how would you like them done?

Would you like the settings to be modernised or still set in the period? Would you like the cast to stay the same age or make them younger? And furthermore would you like the plot to be replicated or come up with an entirely new storyline or twist?

One film series I would like to see remade or a prequel to is COUNT YORGA. In the two Yorga films, the 2nd one Return of Count Yorga almost a remake of the original with a similar storyline, we see Yorga in a  in a small American town trying to increase his brood of zombified and creepy vampire brides. Out of all the vampire movies, I find these Brides to be the most frightening.

But what about Yorga before he came to America? We know from his history as Count Yorga explains it that he came from a small village in Bulgaria. What happened there? Who made him a vampire, and what were the events that led up to it? Was he always a Count or did he marry a Countess? Was he kind or evil before he was turned and was it the Countess that turned him? Who is his master? Why does Yorga have full mental function and appear as human while his Brides are shambling vampires? Was he similar before he became a Master Vampire if not why are they different? What were his reasons for leaving his homeland and coming to America, and finally just how old is Yorga?

These are the answers I would like to see in a modern updates of YORGA. Unfortunately the wonderful Robert Quarry has passed, and the YORGA films are 30 years old, but I believe if done right, this film could be a great return to classic Gothic Horror Vampire Cinema....

Other vampire films I'd like to see remade are DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS, REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE, VAMPYROS LESBOS (still would have to have that disco soundtrack) and SCARS OF DRACULA.

What are your thoughts on a prequel to COUNT YORGA or do you have some other favourite you'd like to see updated? or do you believe that the era that they were made in with the fashion, music and culture made those films what they were back then?

Monday, June 21, 2010

True Blood Season 3: First Impressions

Firstly, I apologise for my long absence from this blog. Had some personal stuff to sort out, and also I have started a new martial art called KFM aka Kesyi Fighting Method (that has taken up a lot of my time), which was chosen as Batman's fighting style in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

So life stuff has been sorted out and I'm back on track, and I've also had to spend a lot of time on KFM so I have it hard-wired in my brain I can give it my 100% and pass gradings and all that. Most readers probably won't know that besides my passion for Gothic Horror, my other life-long passion is martial arts which I've been doing almost all my life.

Anyways onto True Blood Season 3 - beware spoilers within!

Last we left Sookie and the other vampires of Bon Temp and Shreveport, Bill had proposed to Sookie and in panic she fled to the bathroom to sort through her feelings. While she was momentarily gone, a struggle ensued and Bill was kidnapped by persons unknown though Sookie suspects Eric.

The human members of Bon Temp, as well as its resident shifter Sam Merlotte has their hands full taking out the Maenad Maryanne, who was tearing their town apart. Through some careful planning and Sam's unique power, they were able to tear the heart from the heartless bitch and save their town, only for Jason to save one of their own from Eggs, who after having been in control under Maryanne for sometime asks Sookie to use her telepathy to show him what he has done.

When Eggs confronts Andy Bellefleur to arrest him for the murders, and pulls a knife to rush him, Jason kills Eggs with a headshot.

Onto Season 3: Sookie is desperation calls the police who are ambivalent about a missing vampire, so she runs straight to suspect Number one: Eric. Eric guards his secret that he was after Bill to coerce him in keeping his secret that he is dealing V for the the Queen Sophie-Anne, when a group of werewolves controlled by the King of Mississippi kidnap Bill.

Meanwhile Jessica deals horribly with the fact she killed her victim at the truck stop last episode of Season 2, (as well as a failed turning to save his life) and her guilt is affecting her relationship with Hoyt, when Sookie appears to confront Eric about the werewolves she uses this opportunity to consult Pam on feeding from humans and how to stop before the heart gives out, which is Pam gives in her usual cold detatched manner.

After a stand-off against angry werewolves which Bill manages to take out three, he is about to take down a fourth when the werewolf is told to back down by the vampire King of Mississippi Russell Edgington. Now I cannot remember whether in Club Dead (the third book this series is based on) whether the werewolves were under the control of the King, but I think its a nice touch and harkens back to Dracula and Classical Vampires where Vampires had werewolves as their henchmen.

Just like the books and classical folklore, the werewolves here take the form of true wolves, and not the Chronos/biped form you see in The Howling or the Wolf Man, but these wolves look very demonic and its fantastic. One of the best lines on the show when one werewolf named Cooter! standing off against Bill says "You're about to get deader! Dead-ass motherfucker!" I 'howled' from my couch at that!

Bill discovers that the King wishes to bribe/coerce him into forming a partnership/marriage with Sophie-Anne, the Queen of Louisiana so he can then take her out and control both kingdoms. In exchange the King Russell offers to make Bill Sheriff of Area 2, which will give him the same power as Eric. Subsequently Russell threatens Sookie's health and reveals that his sire Lorena is staying there which angers Bill enough, that in reality or a daydream sequence he immolates her with a gas lamp!

We have the usual Tara/Lafayette/Merlotte's crew storylines that are starting to bore me somewhat, though the Andy/Jason match-up with Andy covering for Jason's murder of Eggs leads to a goldmine when Andy takes Jason with him to Hotshot where we meet Calvin Norris and the rest of the werepanthers!! Also Sam manages to track down his biological parents who gave him away at birth (well the Father was in prison) and Sam discovers his father is human, and he has a brother who is also a shifter, who in episode 2 may or may not have tried to have him killed.

Two things stood out in the 2nd episode for me, firstly the way they did the wolves, they look fantastic and quite evil. Alan Ball is using real wolves here, not CGI but he has CGId their eyes to make them look more supernatural. The morphing from human to wolf is done the same here as when Sam shifts but it just looks so much better and much more sinister.

It seems here though, that not only does it seem that werewolves seem weaker than the vampires (after all Bill took at 3 in one fight) but they are so far portrayed as the villains, as least those wolves that serve King Russell, but this is where Alcide Herveaux comes in, and here is a preview pic:

Secondly even though after reading all the books I am Team Eric, Bill is kicking so much butt here, and Alan Ball has made him quite the bad ass. It's going to be a shame when Sookie discovers what's really going on, but until then I'm going to enjoy Bill's bad-assery to the extreme.

Other Highlights: Eric posing as a Nazi to expose the evil werewolves and the return of his sire Godric (above), and also Sam's sex dream of Bill due to his ingestion of Bill's blood to heal last season was quite funny and certainly a WTF moment! Lastly, only after 2 episodes, HBO have renewed True Blood for a 4th season! which is based on DEAD TO THE WORLD where Sookie is left to look after an amnesiac Eric, and um...things happen :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Season Finales of Vampire Diaries and Supernatural Pt 1

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers if you have not watched either episode!

The first in the two part article will discuss Vampire Diaries.

Well the season finales of Vampire Diaries and Supernatural were upon us last night, so what did you think of them?

Vampire Diaries:

Anna: I was very surprised that they killed Anna's character, considering her popularity and also her relationship with Elena's brother Jeremy. Before she died, she gave Jeremy a vial of her blood so he had the choice to become a vampire if and when he wanted, but giving the overwhelming love for this character on internet forums, including myself, I was quite surprised they let John Gilbert kill her. I read the actress Malese Jow had signed on for season 2, so I assume it might just be for flashbacks.

Damon: Wow. Almost from turning from an evil character to a love sick puppy for Elena, I can still say that Damon is my still my favourite character on this show. Of course there is always the link to Katherine due to the eerie resemblance between the two girls, but the love triangle was important in the books, as it is in the show, amping of the sexual tension to drive its fans crazy.

This of course mirrors the way both Damon and Stefan fought for Katherine's heart back in the Civil War Era days, though what happened then with Damon the supposed favourite due to his dark heart is now flipped with Elena finding comfort in Stefan's 'pure' one. For me honestly, this 'shades of grey' for Damon makes his character even more interesting then when he was purely evil, and the fact that Elena and Stefan love him has brought him out of the Darkness that he was in for so long since he turned. In regards to him kissing Elena at the end on her balcony, and how that scene ended I think he is starting to figure out what's going on, even if it's in his unconscious mind at this time. Lastly, is Damon going to be blamed for turning Jeremy (if he does turn from drinking Anna's blood at the end), though I'm sure Jeremy will come straight out and say it was Anna's from the vial.

Also his closing scenes with Jeremy and Bonnie were very well done. It goes to show you that in some way the people you surround yourself with is indicative to the person you will become. I'm not sure whether Damon offered to erase some of Jeremy's memory to further his chances with Elena, and how he also made amends with Bonnie, but his speech about changing from his original intent of wanting to destroy the town to saving it I believe is an honest choice, regardless of his feelings for Elena.

Stefan: I try to like Stefan, I really do. I think he is a good character and the show's Knight in Shining Armour, a hero the town needs to save it from the darkness, and just like Angel I think when all the players are set (incl Matt and Tyler) I think he will take the lead for the final battle against Katherine. I don't think it will be Damon, though those who have read the books know how Katherine meets her fate. But this show is a way different creature to the books, so what could happen could change dramatically from canon. I think his faith in people is admirable, and he was even able to turn a vampire hunter like Alaric from someone willing to kill all vampires to knowing some are worth saving, and fighting along side.

Of course Stefan's guilt that he was the partial genesis to all this, including his father's murder and Damon's full turning will cultivate into something more dramatic. Elena knows the truth of their vampire origins now, but due to this darkness inside him that he has to constantly control, I think Katherine will use that against him and for a while could even once more (with a gallon or two of human blood) sit on the right hand of Katherine as her Vampire King in Mystic Falls for a while. Something both Elena and Damon will have to resolve, while at the same time dealing with their growing attraction to one another.

Elena: I was very surprised with the final scenes of this episode, and was actually cheering Elena and Damon's pairing, I guess I am a 'Delena' fan more than a 'Stelena' fan to tell the truth, and I did not see that reveal coming that it was actually Katherine who kissed Damon and was allowed entry into the Gilbert Home by Elena's overprotective aunt Jenna. In the books Katherine poses as Elena for quite a while, and fools everybody until the boys start to piece things together, such as things Elena doesn't remember she said and vice versa. But as we saw Elena coming up the stairs at the end, telling Stefan on the phone someone stole her handbag etc, is she going to have a confronation in the house with Katherine, and is Katherine going to knock Elena out and stash her somewhere or play a sick mind game and pretend to be Elena only SOME of the time?

I'm guessing Elena will find the body of her father/uncle in the kitchen, sans fingers and magic ring and this show seems to be going quite the tragic route, you'll find no love and light in this town. Her bio father is now dead, and her mother is an uncaring vampire who is protecting her from afar, but perhaps can't show her true feelings due to Katherine's cruelty. I assume Isobel will die soon enough when she tries to protect her daughter from this monster that is her Master.

Alaric: I've becoming quite fond of Alaric, and enjoy it immensely when he and Damon team up to be 'bad ass' and carve through a room full of vampires. I'm not sure what role he has to play in coming season but I hope he doesn't meet the same fate as John Gilbert did since he is also a possessor of a regenerator ring. I can assume he will become another General like Stefan, where Stefan leads the supernaturals, Alaric might lead the mortals. I'm not certain of his relationship with Jenna, and whether she'll find out what's going on but I hope he makes it out alive at the other end.

Tyler: After the constant teasing of full moon shots and anger fits, most fans have guessed Tyler is a lycanthrope, and we finally see evidence due to John Gilbert's device knocking out vampires, but also other supernaturals such as Tyler and his father The Mayor Lockwood. The Mayor met a grizzly fate along with the other tombed vampires when they were stuck with vervaine and thrown in a room to be immolated. We saw vervaine doesn't work on wolves (though I assume wolfsbane will) but since The Mayor was unable to defend himself (I assume he know what he was) then I can only assume that this version of werewolves is the classic variety and only can turn and access their abilities on a full moon.

This of course puts Tyler at a disadvantage when it comes to fighting off other supernaturals, who after tonight's events could sense he isn't human. I think the device only affected the wolves indirectly since it emitted a high pitched sound only non-humans could hear, and due to the wolves sensitive hearing, it was too painful to bear, not in a magic way like the vampires, but more in a physical fashion.

But that leaves us with what side of the fence will Tyler sit on? If he discovers the truth of the town, which I'm sure he will when he speaks to his mother, and he has his first change, I hope he will side with the vampires as it was the Council that inadvertently killed his father. The town is also without a Mayor as well, and since this family comes from wealthy stock, is the title hereditary or public vote? I, for one think that Alaric would make a good Mayor, I mean who else is there?

Bonnie: Last but not least is Bonnie. I quite enjoy a witch character on the show as they can have more variety and depth that the other supernaturals. Their powers can also grow over leaps and bounds than the physical powers of Vamp and Wolf, and I think Bonnie will become the most powerful character on the show, if she isn't already. I'm glad she was able to resolve things with Elena, and I actually agreed with her not disabling the device. Elena doesn't quite think clearly when it comes to the Salvatore Brothers, and if she heeded Elena's word and disabled the device, a whole lot of humans would be dead right now, as compared to a few minor characters such as Anna and the Mayor. Elena really needs to treat Bonnie right, for I think without Bonnie on their side, when Katherine finally steps up to the plate, they don't have a chance of winning this fight without her.

BUT, just as Bonnie's ancestor Emily served Katherine, there could be chance even with her hatred of vampires that Bonnie could come under the control of her as Emily kind of was. It's iffy, but it could happen. I look forward not only Bonnie continued growth in magical power, but I hope she starts making more magical artefacts for the gang, much like Emily did in the past. Kudos for Bonnie also by grabbing Stefan and Damon by the privates, and announcing that if either spills a drop of human blood, she'll immolate them both with a flick of her wrist.

So what are your thoughts on the season finale, the fates of the characters, and your hopes and thoughts for Season Two?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Aww Shucks!

The lovely Nicole Hadaway over at ALL THINGS SMART AND SCARY  granted me this award today, and I feel a little bit like Chewy in Star Wars when Luke and Han are up on the podium getting the award from the ever sexy Princess Leia, and I have to hang back even though I helped just as much. Just joking :)

Thanks Nicole! Now to think of seven truths, or are they lies (?) that goes along with the award.

1) I've spent the night in Dracula's Castle on the Borgo Pass in Transylvania a few years back
2) I used to be a member of a Witches Coven
3) I have sixteen tattoos
4) I have a child each to three different women
5) I've done martial arts since I was ten but never got a black belt
6) My name means "Strength of God Forever" in two old Languages
7) I named my first cat after a Vampire: The Masquerade Clan.

Now for the seven blogs, some new and some old, that I have a daily joy reading and keep me entertained in the cyber world:

1) Taliesin Meets The Vampires - Goes without saying this is my favourite Vampire blog and Andy was the person who got me into the blogosphere in the first place. Always a delight to read his reviews, and you'll always find something new (or old) you've never seen before to watch.
2) Vampire News - Everlost's blog is great because it's all the World's Entertainment news of the Vampire Genre in one handy blog, and you never have to go anywhere else for the latest fanged news. Very up-to-date information for the vampire aficionado.
3) Lady Lovecraft is one of the Lovecraftian blogs I follow, and always has very interesting articles on HPL and the Cthulhu Mythos, worth checking out!
4)  Propnomicon is a wondrous site that catalogues all the HPL and Cthulhu Merchandise from around the world, you'll discover some neat artefacts!
5) Scare Sarah - As far as I know, Sarah is relatively new to the blogosphere, but she is charging full steam ahead reviewing all kinds of movies in the Horror Genre including old favourites from the Exorcist to new Horror such as Halloween 2 and Orphan. Check her blog out!
6) Vamp Chix - A great lover of the Vampire Genre (with a dash of werewolf), might seemed geared towards Paranormal Romance, but you'll always discover a new book to read there to dig your nails into!
7) Preternatura - Suzanne Johnson writes a great Pop Culture blog, from High Fantasy to Urban Fantasy among other genres. Suzanne has some very interesting articles, most recently on why Gandalf never married and a discussion of the 'overuse' of Kick-Ass Heroines as opposed to heroes in today's urban fiction. Worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grave Reviews: Martin (1977)

Directed and Written By: George A. Romero

Starring: John Amplas, Lincoln Maazel, Christine Forrest.

I first watched MARTIN about twenty years ago on VHS. I was 15 at the time, and had seen most vampire films back then such as Count Yorga Vampire and the Hammer Horror Films. I didn't know Rollin and Franco's work existed as of yet, and Martin was the one of the last vampire movies on the Horror shelf I had yet to watch, so after picking it up and putting it back a few times I finally rented it.

To be honest as it was so long ago I couldn't really remember what happened. I think I remembered the train scene at the start and that's it, so when news of a remake was announced recently, I thought it was time to revisit this strange little film.

Romero is mostly famous for his zombie movies, but I think this is his most underrated film and it's certainly his strangest. We first meet Martin Mathias boarding a train to go live with 'cousin' in Braddock, Pennsylvania (A modern Transylvania perhaps?). On the train Martin attacks an unwary fellow passenger with a needle pumped with narcotics and as she passes out he slices her arm with a razor blade and drinks his fill. As Martin does his clean up, the audience sees he is used to such a thing. He cleans most of the blood and changes into a fresh set of clothes, and scatters pills around the cabin to suggest the woman was depressed and attempted to commit suicide.

At the end of the journey Martin disembarks scott-free and meets with his superstitious and fantatical cousin Cuda, who is dressed like Colonel Sanders and drops the word "Nosferatu" towards Martin as a foul-mouthed expletive. During his stay Martin lives under Cuda's roof subject to his superstitious rule, tries to avoid his neurotic Niece Christina, and while working at Cuda's Deli strikes up a sexual friendship with lonely housewife: Abbie Santini.

Throughout the film we see Martin's struggle with his bloodlust, while putting up with the religious prattling of his cousin, who swears if one person goes missing or dies under suspicious circumstances, Cuda will blame Martin and destroy him before his soul is saved. Both Martin and Cuda claim that Martin is an 84-year old Vampire, and that the curse runs in his family from the Old World. It seems to be a recessive gene and has only afflicted perhaps five people in the last century.

When Martin hunts for his blood throughout the film, the footage is interwoven with surreal black and white imagery that could be Martin from an earlier time, or his own delusions of his supposed nature. For instance when he comes in contact with his female prey, Martin imagines her willing to seduced by the vampire much like they are in vampire movies, complete with candlebras and flowing gowns. In reality the women flee for their lives before Martin stabs them with narcotics, subduing them till they pass out so he can feed.

Martin does not possess the usual powers of the classical vampire. He isn't fast or strong, does not shapeshift nor has eye mojo, doesn't have vampire fangs, yet he claims he hasn't aged past the age of 18 or so. When Cuda attempts to repel him with a crucifix after Martin enters his bedroom, Martin chomps down on a garlic bud hanging from the door screaming "You see!" and holds Cuda's crucifix to his face lovingly, sighing that "their is no real magic, ever."

So it is up to the viewer to decide whether Martin is the vampire he and his cousin claim him to be, or that since he is not a Catholic like the rest of his family, they have labelled him a Devil due to his 'ungodly' nature. In the middle of the film after delivering meat to Mrs Santini, he discovers she has become enamoured with him which unsettles Martin because before no other woman has been interested in performing the 'sexy stuff' with him. After a few encounters and curious to know what it's like to make out with a woman while she is awake, Martin begins a short affair with her that expounds on her loneliness and ends in tragic results. Cuda doesn't see it that way and is quite certain to prove to Martin his 'point'.

This was a charming film, and at the same time unsettling. I can't really remember it making an impression on me 20 years ago, perhaps I didn't like it as I was used to vampires having powers and living in crumbling castles while flossing their fangs. I clearly remember coming home from school having discovered my Father watched it that day and getting quite an earful about how disgusting it was (hey it must have been good!), which was a similar experience to my Auntie walking in on my cousin and myself watch Grace Jones in VAMP around the same time.

Ultimately it is up to the viewer to decide whether Martin was actually a vampire, or a deluded, sick little boy who had his head filled with superstitious nonsense from his Catholic Family at a young age. There really wasn't anything else in the film that triggered Martin's 'madness'. He didn't watch vampire films, nor read horror novels. His supressed sexuality could be part of it as he seemed to have trouble hunting and feeding once he started doing the sexy stuff. I tend to think that this film was a social commentary on established religion much like Romero's Zombie films were a social commentary on consumerism. The only scene at the Church in the film had the Priest ask his parishioners to sell their unwanted goods so they could give all their money to the Church, along with Cuda's total domination of Martin and the rest of his family. Also during an exorcism at the house, Martin grows bored rather fast and wanders off to do something else.

The scene where Martin attacks Cuda in the playground at night dressed as Dracula with cape and plastic fangs is gold. After Cuda begins to freak, Martin spits out his teeth and wipes the white pancake make-up off his face professing "It's only a costume", but unfortunately for Martin, Cuda seems to get the last laugh.

My Grade is B.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010



The latest release in the line of OLOGY books alongside Dragonology and Pirateology comes Vampireology, a wonderful little plush book whose style I am quite fond of.

As a proud owner of the Vampire Hunter's Handbook and Demon Hunter's Handbook among others, I enjoy these books with a passion. Produced in the usual Journal Entry style of similar titles, Vampireology chronicles the creation of vampires from a line of Fallen Angels cum Demons named Moloch, Belial and Ba'al.

Destroyed by Archangel Michael and rendered to ash, primitive man found the remains and worshipped them, causing these monstrosities to resurrect as the world's first vampires. From here they took control of the Earth and established the Rule of Three whereas a vampire could only create three progeny lest the world become overun by vampires, and the blood supply of humans placed in peril.

The journal is filled with letters, news articles, pictures and personal items of the Last Protector, an Archibald Brooks who was a quasi-Van Helsing. He bequeaths his journal to his successor Joshua T. Kraik whom while reading this tome discovers the ghastly history of the vampires and his own need to take up the mantle of Protector to keep the world safe from The Fallen Ones.

Brooks describes the strength and weaknesses of vampires, some attributed as more powerful to each bloodline such as immense strength, speed, enchanced senses, mesmerism and shape-shifting. Brooks explains that vampires can take many forms including other predators such as Snow Leopards, and even a Cloud of Bats or a Nest of Spiders, though seperating one's form for too long is uncomfortable.

Vampires are daywalkers and their powers are not sapped by the light of the sun, though they are less compelled to kill in broad daylight preferring to kill from the shadows. Garlic annoys them, and religious objects are useless unless the bearer possesses immense Faith. The Fallen Ones do not require permission to enter a mortal dwelling, and their lack of reflection is relative to their stage of hunger. The more ravenous, the paler the reflection.

Most vampires are motivated by Earthly greed so if you are pursued or wish to detect a vampire dropping such things as pearls or coins may reveal a vampire. Grains of rice are explained in this myth not as an obssessive compulsive trait, but for the fact that rice was once used as currency in times past. Vampires cannot eat food, so any person who regularly denies hospitality should fall under immediate suspicion.

Vampires are difficult to destroy, only weakened by a stake through the heart, and must either be completely drained of blood, turned to ash or the head seperated from the body to insure destruction. Creating a vampire is a three-step process of draining a Chosen One, much like the old vampire stories/movies. Once the last bite has occured, the Chosen One must be completely drained of blood and ingests the vampire's own blood to turn.

Throughout the book Kraik details a correspondence with one Countessa D'Amigliani of Venice who is aware of Brook's Journal and as she admits to knowledge of The Fallen Ones initiates a detailed correspondence with Kraik and eventually begs him to come to Venice with the book so together they may solve the mystery of The Fallen Ones.

Mentioned in the book also are other allies in the war against these Demons. The Were-folk who are the natural enemies of the Vampires, men who aren't immortal or undead but outlive most humans and possess the strength to battle a vampire head on, and the Mysterious Slayer, a repentive Belial who has taken the form of a young girl. Together these three warrior types formed a Circle Of Protection that Kraik hopes once more to assemble.

This was a lovely book and returns Vampires to their sinister blood-thirsty (and Gothic Horror) origins. In this book Vampire Romance does exist, inasmuch as Vampires cruelly seduce mortals for selfish purposes perhaps to gauge their worthiness as future progeny. The art was exquisite and lush, provided by five different artists, and the journals writings along with some hidden compartments were fun. Included were shards of silver, pearls and other items a would-be Protector could use to start his quest towards the destruction of The Fallen Ones.

My Grade is B+

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vampire Dreams

From what I understand a lot of Horror/Vampire authors get their ideas from dreams they have, along with influences from their favourite vampire games/movies/tv shows.

For the last 5+ years I've had the same recurring vampire dream that is set in the same town, and is very episodic in a fashion. I cannot control when I have these episodic dreams, but when I am having them I know they are another part of the same whole and when I wake up I can remember them better than most others in full vivid Gothic Horror colours.

The dreams always start in an old video store in the same country town. I'm not sure what city it's in (It's obviously fictional) but it's surrounded by mountains and seems set in or around the late 1980s. The membership of this video store is exclusive invitation-only and seems to move around the town somehow. Sometimes it's at the end of an alley way, sometimes on the main street. So far I've only met one other member (though the store has other customers while I'm there) besides the store's owner and she helped me choose some titles during my first time there.

I say 1980s because the video store is just stocked with VHS horror tapes and no dvds. The store is filled with vampire movies that don't exist, and most contain the same vampire protagonist. The films seems European in nature though have the same Gothic Aesthetic as Hammer Horror but 100 times darker. They are bleak and morbid and while the main vampire is the protagonist he is not a hero.

So I rent a pile of these movies and go back to my house. When I insert the tape at the start I am on my couch watching them, and then suddenly for some of the film I am in the movie. Sometimes I am the Vampire, sometimes not. Most of the dreams seem to be set in the present with one so far set in the medieval past in the vampire's European castle. Sometimes I will be in a room with other vampires attending some kind of gathering but so far the dream has been 80% town/ 20% movie, though there is a blur between the two.

The vampire VHS cases seem to have a magical quality about them as well. When you remove them from the shelf at the store and look at the back, besides the synopsis is a thick plastic card not too different from the ones used in 3D gimmicks where you can tip them on angles and see a different scene.

The difference here is similar to Harry Potter where the card actually plays a trailer of the movie, similar to the moving photographs in HP, but there is no electronics in the VHS case to allow this. Vampires exist in this town in real life, and I am aware of them as they are of me, and I am also friends with one that owns a club but I am still human (I think). I'd say the town doesn't have more then 200-300 people in it, and when I think about it, the town resembles something out of a Stephen King story, similar to Salem's Lot but not as hilly.

There is something about the VHS covers themselves. When you look at them, even if you are a horror fan they fill you with an immense feeling of dread mixed with excitement, but you are compelled to watch them. When I pick up a movie I am ecstatic that I finally got hold of said movie as if I knew it existed but it was hard to find and I am compelled to rent it.

I also have to say none of these movies are low budget fare, and I am quite disgruntled that nothing like these movies exist in the real world. Even the Subspecies/Vampire Journals movies which are my favourites including the Yorga films do not match them!

Anyways, this last Vampire film was titled LUST, whereas lust meant bloodLUST. The film was a continuation of the same vampire series (having the same vamp) and it wasn't pornographic in any fashion, and was set in an old Gothic house (probably in my dream's home town) where the vampire was visiting someone, a young girl and her family.

He normally sleeps beneath a house in an ornate tomb and coffin. What's funny is that he resembles Kinski from Nosferatu in Venice and I have no idea why he does, though I am very fond of that movie, and it's inherent bleakness and wonderful setting.

He doesn't possess the same personality (or history) as Kinski's Nosferatu, but to be honest I don't think I've ever heard him speak in my dreams so I don't have the full picture.

During my dream I seem to fluctuate between these 'movies' and life in the town, and while the expostition isn't semi-apocalyptic like Salem's Lot or Nosferatu in Venice I can tell that it's heading towards something sinister.

Before you say why haven't you written about this as a story, the answer is I am trying to. But you might understand that having the remembered visuals of a dream, and trying to put those down into words is not an easy task!

Funny just now I just did a search for horror vhs tapes as a pic for this article and the first picture came across the one I have on my left. A video store called BLACK LODGE video, and they still stock VHS tapes mostly Horror. My video store in my dream almost looks like this, except it's more sinister and has a more gothic decor. A further check though and they stock DVDs but still I'm happy something like that exists.

There is a video store near my house called TRASH VIDEO that stocked VHS Horror in my teen years where I discovered Hammer, Yorga, Franco and Rollin so I am assuming my dream store is inspired by that store.

Part of my hesistation to write about these dreams is some similarity to The Japanese Ringu films. My dream plots are linked to these tapes which seem to be 'cursed' inasmuch they pull the watcher in to them, or affect them somehow. But perhaps the fact that I appear in and out of the movie could be just some weird non-linear dream mojo.

So what do you think, and at the same time I'd love to hear about your vampire dreams, if you have any. Also have any of these dreams influenced your writing?

Grave Reviews #14


Director: Roger Corman

Starring: Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr and Debra Paget.

Based on a story The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H.P Lovecraft (but strangely attributed to Edgar Allan Poe as one of Corman's Eight Poe Adaptations).

I love a love/hate relationship with Vincent Price. Actually it's mostly hate as he annoys me terribly. I can't see why he got so famous unless you knew a guy. I assume other than that, it was because of his stupid creepy voice that he got roles because he's a terrible hammy actor.

This is a bad rendering of the H.P Lovecraft tale The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and funnily enough is part of Corman's Eight Poe films. Even in the credits does POE get a writing credit. Besides mention of Lovecraft's Ward and the showing of The Necronomicon along with what I assume is an Old One in the well below Ward's Palace set in Arkham, this film doesn't really reflect the apocalyptic prose of Lovecraft's great work.

The setting isn't in the 1900s like Lovecraft's work either, and I found this movie to be a terrible adaptation and utter trash. The only reason it didn't get an F was due to the lovely gothic and creepy set design.

My Grade is E.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grave Reviews #13

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Director: Tony Randel

Starring: Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins, Kenneth Cranham, Imogen Boorman, Sean Chapman, William Hope and Doug Bradley.

A sequel to Hellraiser that was based on Clive Barker's novella The Hellbound Heart, this movie sees the return of the sadomasochistic Cenobities and the coveted Lament Configuration.

Kirsty (Laurence) wakes up at the Channard Institute, a mental hospital run by Dr Philip Channard (Cranham). There she relates in desperation the events of the last film, the crimes of her Uncle Frank (Chapman) and her mother-in-law and Frank's lover Julia (Higgins) who using the Lament Configuration summon and betray the Cenobites of Hell lead by Pinhead (Bradley). Kirsty literally makes it out with her skin intact when she hands Frank to the Cenobites who had disguised himself using the skin of Kirsty's father.

At the asylum also is Tiffany (Boorman), a girl who doesn't speak and has a penchant for solving puzzles. Channard learns of a bloody mattress that was found at Kirsty's house and she begs him to destroy it for otherwise Julia will just come back the same way as Frank did. The first night there she gets a visit from her skinless father begging for salvation from the torment of Hell.

Channard has the mattress taken to his house and sacrifices an asylum inmate to ressurect Julia so he can use her and Tiffany to glimpse Hell. Meanwhile Channard's assistant Kyle witnesses Julia's ressurection and frees Kirsty to put a stop to the madness.

Julia now wearing her own skin due to many bloody sacrifices tricks Kyle and kills him, and captures Kirsty. Channard uses Tiffany to solve the Lament Configuration, and the Cenobites appear ready to claim Tiffany, when Pinhead realises it wasn't her but Channard that ordered the box solved.

Kirsty wakes to discover Channard's house merging with the realm of Hell and runs into the Labyrinth looking for her damned father. Tiffany walks her own path through Hell to face her own personal demons and past just as Kirsty is tormented by her own. Kirsty crosses paths with Pinhead and she is powerless to use the Lament Configuration because she is already in Hell and has nothing to bargain with this time. Pinhead explains that each Hell is different, a person's own personal Hell. Pinhead suggests Kirsty explore Hell for the time being because the Cenobites have eternity to know her flesh.

Channard is led through the Labyrinth by Julia, and Kirsty begs Tiffany to help them get out of Hell since she solved the box. Julia and Channard make it to the centre of Hell to Leviathan, the God of the Cenobites and the Lord of the Labyrinth. It all becomes too much for Channard, who desires to leave. Julia reveals she was allowed to come back to Earth because Leviathan craves souls, and she will feed the doctor's to her God and forces him into the Chamber of the Engineer where he is painfully transformed into a Cenobite.

Kirsty discovers a representation of her Father's house and enters it alone, to discover to her horror it's Frank's chamber and the person that met her in her hospital room was actually Frank pretending to be her father. Kirsty torches the room burning off Frank's precious skin in the process. Julia walks in with Tiffany, and Frank attempts to seduce her once more but it betrayed and murdered by Julia because she is now above him and has set her sights on becoming the Queen of Hell. Both Kirsty and Tiffany use this moment to escape.

Channard resurrects as a Cenobite and ponders why he hesitated at the exquisite pain of it. Julia and the girls get caught up in the maelstrom of the labyrinth while escaping down a corridor, and as Tiffany tries to save Julia to Kirsty's protest, Julia's new skin is ripped from her flesh and she is hurtled screaming away from them. The girls flee once more, and suddenly find themselves back at Channard's Institute, which is Channard's own Hellish domain. They flee once again only to be cornered by Pinhead and the Cenobites where she challenges Pinhead to remember his own humanity from a photo she found of him in his pre-Hell days.

Channard appears desperate to feast on their souls and surprisingly Pinhead protects them by using his hooks to ensnare the Doctor. Channard is able to smite a few lesser Cenobites in the process and proclaims himself the new head Cenobite. Pinhead reverts back to his human form to die at the end of Channard's tentacle scalpels. Tiffany realises she has to solve the puzzle and makes her way back to the centre to Leviathan picking up a diamond form of the box along the way from Julia's discarded skin.

The box that Tiffany finds resembles Leviathan's form to the letter, and attempts to use the box's magic as a link to disable Leviathan's power but Channard turns up to spoil their plans. A bit of quick thinking on Kirsty's part gets her wearing Julia's skin to distract the Doctor long enough to change the box back to its original form neutralising the Cenobite's power and kill Channard. Leviathan begins to change shape to resemble the box, firing death rays at the escaping girls but they manage to make it back to their own realm and leave the Institute never to look back.

At the end, furniture removalists are cleaning out Channard's house and discover the bloody mattress which claims one of them as a sacrifice. His friend stares in horror as a bloody column of Cenobites and tortured souls arises from the mattress and asks the bewildered man: "What is your pleasure sir?"


In my opinion this is the best Hellraiser movie out of all eight that were made. I enjoyed the first one, and rate the fourth one but while number three was passable the other four I feel were like flogging a dead horse. Some of you may know that the first Hellraiser is up for a modern remake, apparently sans Bradley as Pinhead, and I'm at a loss as to what they can do with it except update the dated 80s SFX.

I enjoy Barker's rendition of Hell as I do his other warped works, thought I prefer his movie adaptations to his actual stories, mainly Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions. One must wonder what went on in his mind to invent such demented material but I for one enjoy the result. In a bit of trivia for those who are fans but don't know: the word Cenobite is actually a Latin form of MONK. The Cenobites are certainly Monks of Hell.

My Grade is B+

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Grave Reviews #12


Director: Daniel Haller

Starring: Dean Stockwell, Sandra Dee, Ed Begley, Sam Jaffe.

Based on the story by H.P Lovecraft

This film is one of the better Lovecraftian adaptations that happened to not be filmed by Stuart Gordon, Lovecraft's unsung cinematic hero.

The movie is set in Lovecraft's fiction Massachusetts towns of Arkham and Dunwich. The film starts a few decades earlier in the Old Wheatley House in Dunwich with Lavinia Wheatley bed-ridden giving birth to twins whose father is unknown.

At Miskatonic University in Arkham, Dr Henry Armitage (Begley) had just finished his lecture on the Necronomicon and ancient Cults, and asks one of his assistants Nancy Wagner (Dee) to return the Tome to the Library. She is followed there by Wilbur Wheatley who in a charming fashion asks if he can read the book. She relents, and Wilbur sits at a table with glee to read about Yog-Sothoth and his role as gate-keeper to R'lyeh that will release the Great Old Ones from their watery prison.

Wilbur's investigations are interrupted by Armitage who demands the book back at first, and then is delighted to meet a decendant of the Wheatley family and asks him out for drinks so they can trade information. Wilbur asks to borrow the Necronomicon (the only one in existence) and Armitage refuses shaking hands and leaving. Using guile Wilbur tells Nancy he has missed his last bus back to Dunwich, tricking Nancy into driving him home.

On the way there she experiences discrimination towards Wilbur and grows more sympathetic to him. While showing her his house, he disables her car and drugs her tea to make her stay the weekend, and she decides to continue her stay in his mysterious home when her friend Elizabeth and Armitage come check up on her. They all meet Wilbur's crazy grandfather who is shocked to learn Wilbur is seeking the Necronomicon, and while staying there Nancy hears strange alien sounds coming from upstairs that Wilbur explains as the creaking of an old house from ocean winds.

Meanwhile, suspicious of the Wheatley family, Armitage discovers the Doctor responsible for delivering Wilbur, and after explaining about the Alien cult, Dr Cory professes that he didn't deliver Wilbur, it was Old Wheatley, and that Livinia gave birth to twins, one reputedly stillborn. She was damaged inside from the violent birth and later moved to Arkham Asylum.

Wilbur and Nancy spend the weekend getting to know each other, and he shows her around the town and the tour finally ends on Sentinel Hill, an old ancient altar of worship to the Old Ones. Knowing she is a virgin, Wilburs uses chants and hypnosis and rapes her, while she has crazy visions of cultists and otherworldly horrors.

Elizabeth comes back to The Wheatley House to check on Nancy, and rudely pushing past the grandfather, walks through the strange house of alien design, and entering the wrong room releases Wilbur's rumoured dead brother, who is a tentacled monstrosity. Elizabeth is quickly despatched with ravenous hunger, with Old Wheatley barely managing to trap it back in the room.

Wibur and Nancy return to the house, noticed Elizabeth's car. Old Wheatley reprimands Wilbur after he explains Nancy's friend 'went up those stairs!' and blames him for what is about to happen. Wibur is sickened by his Grandfather's weakness in letting the town get to him with shunning his cultish heritage, and trying to attack his grandson in a rage falls down the stairs and dies. Wilbur holds an unsanctioned funeral for him using the old rituals of Yog-Sothoth, and as Nancy looks on the paranoid townsfolk rock up to put a stop to the intended blasphemy burying a cultist in a Christian cemetery.

Armitage gets a phone call from Dr Cory explaining that Livinia is dying at the asylum. Meeting him there, they arrive just in time to see her pass on while muttering a strange chant that Armitage recognises from the Necromnicon and urges Dr Cory to drive back to the University with him post-haste.

Having enough of everyone's BS, Wilbur drives back to Miskatonic University with a spaced out Nancy, and in the act of stealing the Necronomicon kills a guard. He returns to Sentinel Hill with Nancy and the book and plans to sacrifice her to open the gate to release the Old Ones. Now under Wilbur's influence she begans to chant for Yog-Sothoth (Wilbur's real father) to come forth. The ritual also releases his more-alien brother from his bedroom prison killing some Christians (The Coles) that provoked Wilbur.

Wilbur declares to Nancy that she is now a Wheatley as a storm brews in the distance. Armitage discovers the dead guard and en-route to Dunwich the two men see the remains of The Coles and the growing mob mentality of the townsfolk. They arrive at the Wheatley House to find it burning down, and from across the river a gnarling alien sounds tearing towards Sentinel Hill. Armitage arrives near the end of the ritual and they initiate a magical duel, and first with Wilbur proving his dominance. Armitage repeats a chant to confuse Wilbur's mind, which causes him to be struck by lightning and fall off the cliff in a screaming ball of flame.

Nancy comes out of her magical reverie for Armitage to explain what is going on, and that the last of the Wheatleys is dead. The film ends with a shot of an alien baby growing inside Nancy at a rapid rate.


The best parts of these Lovecraft adaptations is the creepy New England Massachusetts setting made famous in his work. What I was also impressed with was the use of ritual in the film on Sentinel Hill, the director put a lot of effort to make them seem creepy, alien and authentic with regards to the Cthulhu Mythos. Roger Corman was a producer on the film, so I assume since he had a hand in adapting Poe and Lovecraft stories in the past he might have been responsible for it level of authenticity.

The acting was good for the most part, with Stockwell's Wilbur cold, charming yet sinister, and though the set decorations were sublime, the SFX of Wilbur's 'brother' left a lot to be desired, but it was the start of the 70s so these type of effects were still in their infancy, so therefore could be forgiven for they didn't really tarnish a great atmospheric film.

My Grade is B+