Tuesday, July 22, 2014
First published: 2011
The Blurb: Vampires first entered the pop culture arena with Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula. Today, vampires are everywhere. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the Twilight Saga to HBO's True Blood series, pop culture can't get enough of the vampire phenomenon.
Bringing her literary expertise to this timely subject, Susannah Clements reveals the roots of the vampire myth and shows how it was originally immersed in Christian values and symbolism. Over time, however, vampires have been "defanged" as their spiritual significance has waned, and what was once the embodiment of evil has turned into a teen idol and the ultimate romantic hero. Clements offers a close reading of selected vampire texts, explaining how this transformation occurred and helping readers discern between the variety of vampire stories presented in movies, TV shows, and novels. Her probing engagement of the vampire metaphor enables readers to make Christian sense of this popular obsession.
The review: I came across this through a Facebook Group and an article by Anthony Hogg. Now I am not a Christian (by a long shot) but the concept of the book seemed intriguing to me and I am always open to hearing a different viewpoint. Of course the joy of the vampire genre is that it is open to multiple interpretations and, as an archetype, the vampire is a malleable beast.
Clements covers the four vampire shows/novels mentioned above and the works of Anne Rice and attempts to show that the vampire has gone from the embodiment of evil to a romantic hero – as the subtitle relates – and of course this is true, except where the vampire is the embodiment of evil still, such as in such up to date series like 30 Days of Night. But she is not wrong that there is a definitive romantic movement in the genre. Interestingly she plots a secular course, where the tamer the vampire becomes the more secular the tale.
This was an interesting suggestion, though I’d suggest that the secularisation of the vampire is more to do with the general secularisation of society than it is the move to the romantic vampire, for instance in (and citing again) 30 Days of Night we have a rather secular take on the myth without the romance and with plenty of evil brutality.
Clements does, in my opinion, miss some directions she might have taken. She correctly argues that Dracula is a Christian novel. However her concentration is on the hunters and the apotropaic icons used in the novel. I think there was as much argument to be found in the fact that Stoker thought Dracula meant Devil, that he gave the Count the pseudonym Count De Ville and suggested he was schooled by the Devil in the Scholomance - indeed over time Hammer make the character, quite literally, the Antichrist.
Clements argues that Twilight is the most secular of the main series she looks at and her arguments are sound. Whilst Edward worries for Bella’s soul it is almost a throwaway comment and barely explored. However I think that the attitudes shown in the novel might reflect on the author’s social outlook and, being from quite an active religion, that may also reflect on her faith but this is not explored in here.
I think it would have been interesting to have explored I Am Legend as the movie took a totally secular novel, ignored or twisted the point of the climax of the book and created a very pro-Christian narrative. However that is just a wish list moment.
The book was well written and well argued, it was interesting to look at these things from another direction. It contains indexing and a bibliography - always a plus point. A worthy volume. 8 out of 10.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
I have seen positive and negative comments about the film – indeed it seems to polarise viewers. I have also heard various directors’ work it is compared to. What I haven’t particularly seen is a likening to The Man Who Fell to Earth but it is very much in the same ball park as an alien is used to explore someone who seems outside society and through that character we start to question the essence of what is humanity. However the question we need to ask is, “Is it vamp?”
|Scarlett Johansson is the girl|
|only skin remains|
|on the beach|
|what is under the skin?|
However, despite some familiar tropes I don’t think that this is Vamp. If anything the aliens are predators but that doesn’t make them vampires per se. Indeed I was kind of reminded of the film Prey, at least with regard the alien predatory aspect. Not Vamp.
Friday, July 18, 2014
First aired: 2014
When I reviewed season 1 (and only) of Dracula I had seen episode 1 of this series but was moved to say, in comparison to the older series, “the dark, griminess of Penny Dreadful’s London was a million time more effective”. I stick by that, indeed the series had a huge amount going for it – though it might have been better in some ways.
|Chandler, Murray and Ives|
|David Warner as Van Helsing|
|Harry Treadaway as Frankenstein|
|a vampire bride|
The imdb page is here.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Release date: 2014
When I watched Season 3 of Lost Girl I felt it was a little bit disjointed and perhaps a tad meandering, with no real big bad point. It did, however, reposition the main characters. This would either work or otherwise in the next season’s favour.
As we enter season 4 Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten), the Valkyrie, is dead and 18 months have passed. Bo (Anna Silk) is literally a Lost Girl as she was taken by the mysterious Wanderer (Kyle Schmid, Blood Ties & Being Human (US)), unfortunately none of those left behind remember her. Somehow Vex (Paul Amos) has taken control of the Dark Fae and Kenzie (Ksenia Solo) is masquerading as a fae and in a clandestine relationship with Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried, Underworld: Awakening & The Death of Alice Blue).
|Kyle Schmid as the Wanderer|
All in all the season wasn’t just back on form, I’d say it was the best so far. 7 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.
Monday, July 14, 2014
First Published: 1928
The Blurb: "It was the old man… with the long cloak and the fiendish grin!"
The most successful of all the collaborations of director Tod Browning and legendary Lon Chaney, ~ "The Man of a Thousand Faces" ~ was London After Midnight, their long-lost silent "Mystery-Thriller."
But now the novelization based on Browning's original screenplay is back for the first time since its original publication, in its entirety!
Once more mystery haunts the old Balfour House …and Lon Chaney’s gonna get you if you don’t watch out!
Complete with the original photo-illustrations plus additional features exclusive to this edition, including "Transylvania to Prague via London ~ After Midnight" and introduced by your Thriller Theatre host Margali Morwentari.
The review: London after Midnight is for many (including me) one of the most lamented of the lost films, probably more so because we have the remake, Mark of the Vampire, and the bravely constituted reconstruction to hint at what we are missing. That hint is greater still with the re-release of the original novelisation. The story is based on an early draft of Browning’s script and so contains aspects not in the final film, primarily heroine Lucy’s brother Harry Balfour – murdered early on and actually filmed by Browning but cut out of the final edit that made Lucy an only child.
I assume, as you read this, that you are aware of the storyline of London After Midnight (or have seen the reconstruction). At the very least I assume that you have seen Mark of the Vampire and thus it is not a spoiler too far to tell you that the vampires in this story are not actually real. Indeed the logic of having them there at all, whilst wonderful for the atmosphere of the film, demanded a twisted logic that was quite torturous. But, you know what, it doesn’t matter.
The vampires are connected with bats and can turn into mist. As well as being cited as vampires, they are referred to in text by the genus names Vukodlak and Murony (according to Bane’s Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology a Murony is both a variation of the Romanian Muroni and is a vampiric spirit or a Walachian/Moldavian variant of living vampire).
The writing is very melodramatic and certainly of an age – you couldn’t mistake this for a more modern written volume. But hey, you know what… it’s London After Midnight and that should be all the encouragement you need. 8 out of 10 for its historical value in the genre. The re-release of this volume was notified to me by a blog reader, Fenris, and so my thanks for the heads up.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
This was a Frank Oz directed muppet movie from 1984 and on viewing, I have to say, it was somewhat of a drag. Now don’t get me wrong, I grew up with the muppets but this did not seem a highpoint of the franchise’s output.
Starting with a core group of muppets, led by Kermit (Jim Henson), who are graduating from college and celebrating with a musical show that their fellow students love. A shout from the audience gives them the idea to take the show to Broadway.
They arrive in New York and, of course, selling their show is not as easy as they thought it would be. The gang eventually split up, leaving Kermit to try and get the show greenlit, at which point he’ll summon them all back.
|where's Count von Count?|
The imdb page is here.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
First aired: 1995
When my friend Leila asked whether I had reviewed the Space Precinct vampire episode I inwardly groaned. Admittedly I didn’t know there was a vampire episode but I do remember the show.
In my head this late Gerry Anderson production was a bit of a childish mess. Having re-watched it (or this episode at least) I can appreciate that there was quite a serious, straight sci-fi underneath the garish prosthetics and clichéd characters. In short, whilst it had plenty wrong with it, there was something to recommend about the series.
|Simone Bendix as Castle|
I’m stunned by the fact that I am going to give this a good score but it was entertaining, with a neat central premise regarding the vampire and a dark heart despite the dated look and inherent clichés. 6 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.