What Sort of Vampire Are You?

With so many choices for vampirism these days, the decision for immortality can be a daunting one. But stay with me, curious reader, as we delve into the murky world of the fanged undead. Stroll the aisles and choose the form of blood-lust that most appeals to you.

Sparkly Vampire

Yes, this the Twilight variety. Able to saunter around in daylight (looking eternally glum in the process), this vampire has some great features to consider. Sunlight has no negative effects. Plus, you become a disco-ball in the blazing sun. Bonus. Add to that the special ability you get by going vampiric (prophecy, telepathy, tracking) and you’re a vampire that’s going places.

God-Fearing Vampires

Good old fashioned undead who shriek in the sight of the crucifix. Nothing beats the original. People often debate what happens when the cross-bearer or vampire isn’t Christian. Stop it. You’re complicating things. Just accept that crosses make the vampire flesh sizzle like bacon on a griddle.

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Also known as the “Ugly Vampire.” These vamps often have chrome domes and pointy ears.  But hey, looks aren’t everything. You get super long fingers, nifty German-Expressionist shadows, and the ability to cause disease. Who’s missing their hair now?

And now, new and improved, Nosferatu with hair. Check out the Radu model from Sub Species.

Public Vampire

Maybe you don’t want to spend eternity in the shadows. Maybe you want to party down with your blood-sucking self. Why not opt for the public vampire. One that’s been outted from the coffin.

True, there are all those fangbangers to deal with. Groupies always flock to the famous. A warning here: with fame comes certain consequences. People want to drain your blood and sell it as the drug V. Now the vampire is the victim. Go figure.

Virus Vampire

Do you want vampire friends, but don’t relish the three bite quota of most vampire conversions? Well look no further, the virus vampire is your answer. Any blood contact, bite, scratch, hangnail, can create new vampires. This variety sprouts a nasty set of teeth, bordering on shark-like.

They have the added benefit of never truly dying. Just a bit of blood is all that it takes to revive them. Take a look at the grandaddy of long-living vampires, Christopher Lee in “Dracula, Prince of Darkness.”

Go ahead, make your choice. After all, if you’re going to be stuck with immortality, you might as well get the features you want.

Tim Kane

Happiness is a Disease

Love doesn’t make you happy. Neither does money. It turns out that happiness makes you happy. Sounds redundant, doesn’t it. But it turns out that happiness is a sort of social disease. Check out this study done by the Framingham Heart guys. They studied 4739 people for twenty years. The conclusion was that being around happy people makes you happy. It even works on two degrees of separation (a friend of a friend). But not with happy coworkers (who probably just annoy you).

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This brings up all sorts of crazy ideas. Like, could you inoculate yourself against happiness? Could there be a happiness cult? As always, my mind turns to film in these instances. The first to pop to mind was actually TV. In the episode Plato’s Stepchildren of Star Trek (1968), the crew is captured by the Platonians. These beings can control the crew, making them act in all sorts of ridiculous ways. The best is watching Spock laugh. You have to zoom ahead to the two-minute mark to see Spock emotionally freak out.

This is just crazy laughter. To see real, infectious laughter, we need to turn to Austin Powers. Here, Dr. Evil has just revealed his plan, and then his laughter spreads to everyone in the scene.

Then, there’s laughter that disturbs you. Ash, from Evil Dead II is deranged. It’s the sort of happiness you never want, but that sometimes happens in the wee hours. This too is mighty infectious.

So I guess the counterpoint to this theory is: If you want to be happy, ditch the slugs and nay-sayers and hang out with some happy folk.

Tim Kane

Nosferatu: The Film Resurrected (Part 2)

Florence Stoker, widow to Bram Stoker, did all she could to stamp out any imitators to the vampire in Dracula. She had all copies of Freidrich Willhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens burned. Yet Nosferatu did not stay dead. Like any good horror movie, the villain revived himself and carried on the fight. A print of the film resurfaced in 1929, playing to audiences in New York and Detroit. However preeminent Dracula scholar, David J. Skal, writes that the film “was not taken seriously” and that most audiences considered it “a boring picture”. The print was then purchased by Universal to see what had already been done in terms of a vampire movie. The film was studied by all the key creative personnel leading to the Universal production of Dracula in 1931.

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The undead film continued to rise from the grave throughout the years. An abridged version was aired on television in the 1960s as part of Silents Please, and subsequently released by Entertainment films under the title Terror of Dracula, and then again by Blackhawk Films under the name Dracula. Blackhawk also released the original version to the collector’s market under the title Nosferatu the Vampire. An unabridged copy of the movie survived Florence Stoker’s death warrant and was restored and screened at Berlin’s Film Festival in 1984.

Despite its influence on the making of the 1931 Dracula, Nosferatu has few film decedents. It’s theme of vampire as a scourging plague has only been seriously taken up by two films: the 1979 remake by Werner Herzog, Nosferatu: The Vampyre.

Another film (same year) was the television miniseries of Salem’s Lot, directed by Tobe Hooper.

Perhaps if the original Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens had been allowed regular release, this would not be the case. It remains to be seen if Nosferatu will vanish again with the daylight or if this rare film will rise again in a new form.

For more information on the making of the original Dracula, check out David Skal’s book Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen.

Tim Kane

Nosferatu: The Film That Died (Part 1)

There is no doubt that Freidrich Willhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Symphony of Horror) is a piece of landmark cinema, both for its Expressionist filmmaking and its unique treatment of the vampire as plague. Yet few people saw this monumental film prior to 1960. Though slated for destruction by Bram Stoker’s widow, the film managed to survive, popping up in the most peculiar places.

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Here is a trailer for Nosferatu (colorized, but it’s the best of the batch) that shows just how ominous Max Schrek was in this part.

Nosferatu debuted at the Marble Hall of the Berlin Zoological Gardens in 1922. The movie was the first and last product of a small art collective called Prana Films — the brainchild of artist Albin Grau (later Nosferatu’s production designer). A month later, Florence Stoker caught wind, and she started the legal machines rolling. Her only income at this point was her deceased husband’s book Dracula, and she would not let some German production company steal her meal ticket. During the 1920s, intellectual rights were a bit dodgy, so Florence paid one British pound to join the British Incorporated Society of Authors to help defend her property. Never mind that the society would also pick up the tab for the potentially huge legal bills.

Florence_StokerFlorence seemed unaware that a second vampire film, this one called Drakula, was produced by a Hungarian company in 1921. Although the title harkens back to Bram Stoker’s novel, the resemblance ends there. This film, now lost save for some stills, was more concerned with eye gouging than straight out vampirism. Nosferatu on the other hand took much of its plot from Stoker’s Dracula, changing only the names.

The film continued to be exhibited in Germany and Budapest up through 1925, though Prana was beleaguered by creditors and harassed by Florence Stoker. They tried to settle with the society, offering a cut of the film’s take in order for them to use the Dracula title in England and America. Florence would not relent.

She not only wanted Prana to halt exhibition of the film, she wanted it torched — all prints and negatives of the film destroyed. And she got her way. In 1925 Florence won her case and the destruction order went through. Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens vanished into thin air just as Count Orlock, the vampire in the film, did when exposed to the rays of the morning sun.

For more information on the making of the original Dracula, check out David Skal’s book Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen.

Tim Kane

Survival of the Fittest for Movie Genres

People often complain that movies are never like the book. The movie cuts too much or adds unneeded scenes. Most of this is due to the fact that people don’t understand that movies are alive. Yes, alive. At least in the sense of survival of the fittest.

Movies are created by producers who pump money into an idea. The producers aren’t parents, yearning for their filmic offspring to go onto glory. Awards and accolades are added benefits. No, movie producers want one simple thing: to make money.

Viewed from this perceptive, books adapted into movies make sense. The goal isn’t to transform the vision of the text to film. (The director or the actors or screenwriters might strive for that.) No, producers only want to transform the readers of the book into watchers of the movie. If that means they have to adhere to the story, fine. But mostly, movie producers take liberties because the readers will still flock to the film and see it.

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Why this long tirade about books and films? Mostly the Hobbit. I love the book, but wasn’t wowed by the film. I understand all the additions and changes as it made its way toward film. Ultimately did the film make money? Yes. Will more like it be made? Yes. It’s like evolution in film. If a certain type of film makes money, then more will be made.

Parker Movie Free

Another adaptation is Parker with Jason Statham. The original book, written by Donald E. Westlake, is nothing like the film. (For a more in depth view of the book, check out the Weekly Rot.) The protagonist is unlikable and repugnant. However, the genre of action-movies states that the led be likable and somewhat honorable. Thus the Statham Parker says: “I don’t steal from people who can’t afford it, and I don’t hurt people that don’t deserve it.” There’s little to distinguish this film from the many other Statham action films.

Parker was expected to make money by following the genre formula, yet in this one fumbled.

In the future, when you complain about movie adaptations, consider this: If people refused to see it, then that genre would wither and die.

Tim Kane

5 Best Scenes of Drunkeness from Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Sure, as a fan of horror, everyone’s getting plastered. Yet turn to fantasy, sci-fi, or superheroes and debauchery is more limited. When I picked these scenes, I tried to choose ones that resonated with me. A scene of drunkenness that glued itself so hard to my brain, I could never wipe it clean (unlike most nights drinking). Where possible, I included a link to the YouTube clip of the scene. Just click on the picture.

1 Superman III

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First let me say that I saw this movie nine times in the theater. I’m not saying it was a good movie. Only that I had a lot of spare time as a twelve-year-old with a bike. I think the writers were trying for a sort of Bizarro. Only in this version, Richard Pryor (playing computer genius Gus Gorman) tries to recreate kryptonite but one ingredient is unknown.  Since it’s the 80s, he has a pack of cigarettes and enters “tar” as the final ingredient. When exposed to this tar kryptonite, it turns Supe nasty and evil (this the drinking binge).

2 Iron Man 2

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I couldn’t find any pics of the best scenes, where Tony Stark is dancing with hotties or blasting water melons. Lets just say it’s what we expect most people would do with super powers.

3 Princess Bride

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By far one of my most favorite movies. This scene takes some explaining (although if you haven’t seen the movie, stop everything and go and rent it now). Inigo, a famous swordsman, has failed to defeat the Man in Black, so he gets himself rip roaring drunk. The real fun begins when the local police, headed by his pal Fezzik come across him. Fezzik nourishes Inigo back to health by repeatedly dunking his head in water.

4 Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

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I often replay the drinking game between Gimli and Legolas. The dwarf pounds beer after beer, while the elf only gets tingly in his fingers.

5 Star Trek (J. J. Abrams remake)

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Why is this my first choice. Well, I wish I could have found a movie clip, but it’s such a great scene. Chris Pine (as James T. Kirk) simultaneously flirts with Uhura, insults some aggressive bar folk, and gets his butt kicked. Here’s how the lines went down:

Lt. Nyota Uhura: I’m impressed. For a moment there, I thought you were just a dumb hick who only has sex with farm animals.
James T. Kirk: Well, not only.
Burly Cadet #1: This townie isn’t bothering you, right?
Lt. Nyota Uhura: Oh, beyond belief, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.
James T. Kirk: You could handle me, if that’s an invitation.
Burly Cadet #1: Hey, you better mind your manners.
James T. Kirk: Oh relax, cupcake, it was a joke.
Burly Cadet #1: Hey, farm-boy, maybe you can’t count, but there are four of us and one of you.
James T. Kirk: So, get two more guys and then it’ll be an even fight.

What are your favorite drunken scenes from sci-fi, fantasy, or superhero movies? Comment below.

Tim Kane

The Man with the Iron Fists Hammers the Chop-Chop Flick

This is a film that you will either love or hate. And you’ll know before you even see it. If you’re excited about over the top sound effects, fists flying through the air, and blood squirting everywhere, then this is the film for you. If you have even the slightest doubt, then you’ll hate it. No in between.

Directed by rapper RZA and co-written with horror filmmaker Eli Roth, this film delivers. It starts off with gansta rap while two clans, lion and hyena, spar. You know you’re in for a great film when the leader of the lion clan, a fella decked out with a massive mane of hair, rips the arms off his opponent.

Plenty of blood throughout the film.

RZA certainly knows how to hit all the marks for a chop chop film. The plot is fast and loose. (Honestly, if you pay too much attention to plot on these films, it just gets in the way.) He segues from rap music to cowboy (as the clans ride out to battle) as well as traditional Chinese.

The Gemini Twins using the their secret weapon, a thigh mounted gun.

The fight scenes are well choreographed and filmed so you can witness every bit of gore. There’s one scene where an eyeball shoots out toward the audience. Excellent.

Eyeball popping scene.

Russel Crowe eats up the scenery as Jack Knife, the lone Caucasian with a twirling bowie knife.

Byron Man, who plays the baddie Silver Lion, is so over the top he makes the whole film. Every line is delivered with a devilish grin. When one of his victims begs for mercy, Silver Lion mocks him, whining out: “Please stop.”

Cung Le as Brass Lion (left) and Byron Mann as Silver Lion (right wearing glasses)

Did I forget to mention that Lucy Liu is there, as the madame of a brothel? She holds off with her Kung Fu skills till the final battle royale.

I can’t add to much more without spoiling the best parts. If any of this sounds good, then just go see it.

Tim Kane