Saturday, February 22, 2020

Stoker: Evolution of a Vampire – review

Author: Calvin Cherry

First published: 2018

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Dear reader,

When the boon of sleep becomes a presage of horror, while one’s long, shadowy days are laden with sordid events so terrifying they only bridge a thread to the same wicked nightmare, in what can a gentleman find refuge and catharsis? Writing.

No one can deny that Abraham Stoker penned a Gothic tour de force in 1897. All readers and moviegoers are familiar with the name Dracula, as a parade of literary colleagues and Hollywood directors have probed the monster’s conscience for generations. Even so, few artists have explored Stoker’s motivations for creating such a loathsome, seductive protagonist. Welcome to Bram’s frightmare: a wild, historical tale that fuses the life and times of a struggling author, a ruthless prince, and vampire mythology.

Set in London in 1887, aspiring writer and stage manager Bram Stoker attends a séance that changes his life forever. What starts as an innocent ritual follows as a series of unforeseen yet connected plot twists and encounters with the bloodthirsty beast mistakenly freed from the underworld on that fateful night. As Bram’s young son Noel intervenes to pull his father from the madness that ensues, wife Florence’s health begins to decline, and his employer, actor Henry Irving, is being questioned about a violent murder that takes place outside his Lyceum Theater. To save careers, families, and souls, father and son seek answers to the darkest secrets hidden within the Carpathian Mountains, an ancient monastery, a ruined castle, and a forbidden cavern.

My Dracula prequel is meant to pay homage to a brilliant man, writer, and Romantic masterpiece, mixing fantasy, fact, and Gothic elements to show how literary art is born. I have been a vampire enthusiast since the tender age of seven, having first read Stoker’s work in comic-book form. Since then I have made it my avocation to study vampire lore, the historical Vlad the Impaler, as well as everything known about Bram. A vast amount of commentary on his novels, the same reference materials Stoker used in composing his works, as well as the author’s very notes and private journals inform my narrative.

The review: One thing I hate about reviewing material for the blog is looking at a person’s work and feeling no choice but to criticise. As such I hope author Calvin Cherry is true to his word at the end of this novel when he says, “And when my writing is not of merit, I thank {God} for the humble attitude to recognize this, seek and accept constructive criticism…” (p575) for the criticisms hereafter may not seem it but they are an endeavour to be constructive as this lengthy tome was clearly a labour of love and, whether in a revision or whether in a new piece of work, I would hope that the writer seeks to take that raw imagination and improve upon what was here. For it is an inventive work and it clearly took time and effort.

However, that didn’t help my experience as the reader. I’ll start, if I may, with language as I found myself wishing, early on, that the manuscript had been subjected to an editor’s red pen (or, if it had one, a better editor). The book is about the conceptualisation of the novel Dracula and places Stoker as the primary character, who finds himself under the scrutiny of Count Dracula (actually Vlad Ţepeş) and forced to learn about the vampire’s life in order that he might create a written record of it. The threats to Stoker’s family are enough to coerce his reluctant cooperation.

As such we are in Victorian England but there are turn of phrases that really didn’t fit, and brought this reader out of the suspension of disbelief. For instance, Noel Stoker tells his father he wishes to take something to ‘show and tell’, this is an Americanism and wasn’t a thing in the UK, thus it jars, likewise measurements are given in kilometres when Britain used miles (and uses them still. Indeed, in the majority of the 19th century the British exclusively used the Imperial system across the Empire, hence the name.)

The thing that really drew me away from the book, however, was the language characters used. It is important to give a character a voice, however giving them an accent might not be the answer especially if it reads like the prose version of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. There were some accents used and I would have avoided those altogether, but more so I would have utterly avoided the use of Shakespearean pronouns/variations when writing in the voice of the Count. Firstly, it made no sense – Ţepeş may have been an anachronism but his first language will have been Wallachian, not English. Therefore when learning English (whenever that was), he would have learnt the vernacular of the time and, if time had past, certainly would have evolved his speaking as the language evolved (remember, Stoker suggests that the Count wishes to pass as a native and there certainly isn’t a “thee”, “thou” or “liveth” in his novel). But, beyond this, it felt clunky, stilted and was very inconsistently used.

I am also acutely aware that when reimagining history, one must take liberties and introduce changes. However, there are aspects also that one should try and get right. In the case of this book geography, for a starter. The handling of the geography around Whitby and London was poor. For instance, Bram is sent to Whitby to take passage to continental Europe (and returns to England through Whitby too, despite travelling from Le Havre and rushing back to his family). We could ask why; there were boats that will have sailed from London (as the Czarina Catherine did in Stoker’s novel) or the most obvious choice would have been to go to Dover (incidentally the original choice for Dracula’s landing in Stoker’s novel as per the notes) and on return perhaps even Portsmouth. Of course, that the author didn’t want to expunge Whitby altogether is the likely answer, but the use of the port for a planned trip to or from London is different to being blown there in the wilds of a storm. I wouldn’t expect the author to necessarily know that trains for the North East would leave Kings Cross and not Paddington (which is typo’d to Pennington at one point, incidentally). However, I would expect the author to realise that a train to Whitby would not stop at Portsmouth (or go anywhere near it), as it is in the opposite direction. All this can be quickly ascertained through a quick google map session and the same session could reveal that it takes approximately 5 hours in a modern car to travel from Whitby to London – not the 1 hour by coach as claimed later in the book.

Once at Whitby it is unlikely that the library would send a book (Wilkinson) overseas, especially on the request from a note put through the door when they were closed, but it is even less likely that the book would arrive before the passenger who set off the night before the library got the note. Wilkinson itself (available to view in scanned form) famously only had two paragraphs and a footnote pertaining to Ţepeş (and his father), only mentioning the name Dracula and certainly did not include the Saxon woodcuts (as implied) or photographs (as stated). To this observation might come the retort that this volume is fiction and artistic licence has been used around Wilkinson. In response I would point that the official blurb states that Stoker’s reference materials inform this book’s narrative. I’d also suggest that, when merging fiction and fact, perhaps inventing a book that has the details you want as the author would be better, especially when dealing with artefacts that are well known to the community you are selling your product to.

Incidentally, on the same issue of maintaining a real-world voracity, Ţepeş was not born with that name (as the character herein claims more than once, for instance, “My formal name is Prince Vlad Tepes Dracul – of Sighişoara, though most countrymen calleth me The Impaler.” p65 also "I was born as Vlad Tepes" p143) and likely was never referred to by the soubriquet Ţepeş to his face. Of course, Ţepeş meant impaler, though the quote above implies otherwise. The author does address, much later in the book, why a Voivode (not Prince, as stated above) is now referred to by the lesser title of Count, but the reason is not satisfying (essentially because Satan said so). Back to locations, for a moment, and Slains Castle was far from ruined in the time frame presented (indeed it was an occupied residence) – and speaking of time frames, we only discover a jump in time towards the end of the book but the impact of that timeframe shift on the young characters’ ages (Noel and his friend Jonathan) is not addressed earlier, leaving them very young in the reader’s visualisation and up to things that children so young would never have gotten away with.

You might think I am being picky, but these were just examples from a long list of notes made and some of these things could have been answered through diligent research. However, the Americanisms, the errors of fact and geography, the clunky use of Shakespearean English and accents and the fact that the prose could be cumbersome in and of itself served to take this reader out of a story that brimmed with imagination and whose central conceit was interesting. This was the case to the point that I struggled to pick the book up rather than put it down. 3 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Short Film: Crave

This is a short film of around 8-minutes length, directed by Carl Shanahan and released in 2017 and is a nicely put together short.

It starts with three people sat in a derelict looking room that is a ghost of its formal glory. They are lined up, waiting room style, and made up of a nervous looking man, Rob (Kris Fisher), a woman (Katie Villa) toying with a cross on a chain, whilst praying, and a second man (James Cotter) holding flowers.

A man (David Warren) exits the adjoining room, looking shaky on his legs and indicates the next should go in. It’s Rob. He walks into the room and meets Edmund (Joe Hancock). Wearing a brown suit, with a bow-tie but no shoes or socks, he welcomes Rob. For his part Rob mentions the flowers the other man has brought, sweet replies Edmund but unnecessary, whilst handing over cash and a photo of a woman (Muirenn Brady).

Rob's perception
Edmund explains how this will work. He will put a song on from a record and *it* will end when the song ends. We see Rob’s perception with the woman lent over him, then we see her eyes are white, dead, and we see the reality of Edmund, now vamped, at Rob’s throat. Its really clever, the vampire using its powers of mind manipulation to encourage people to pay him to suck their blood and feed their fantasies. It’s been done elsewhere (for instance, whilst produced later, Dracula offers Lucy a choice of dream as he feeds from her in the 2020 release) but this feels particularly mercantile and has overtones (to me) of Philip K Dick.

Edmund feeds
Edmund is careful with his customers, however, he won’t let Rob return until his body has recovered from this feed – one imagines how such a transaction might become addictive for the dreamer. One also has to ask why a devout Christian (such as the woman outside) would become drawn into such an arrangement? Perhaps the short will explain – after all it is embedded below and is a satisfying little foray into the mercantile vampire.

The imdb page is here.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Savage Creatures – review

Director: Richard Lowry

Release date: 2020

Contains spoilers

Vampires, zombies and aliens… oh my… oh, and cannibals. Richard Lowry throws the lot at us in a very low budget film that surpasses the budget, limitations and low grade effects to become a fun run through a grindhouse landscape.

This isn’t perfect by any stretch but with a fast pace and short (75 minute) run time it was great fun. But let’s see just what was packed into that runtime.

victim
The film starts with some meteors passing the moon and heading for earth. We then get landscapes in a red tint, which I thought was going to be a default – sort of, this is what the meteors did – but it was a credit sequence effect and through the credits we also got flashes of spoilers from the upcoming feature. So, starting proper, a car is seen. It drives into the mountains and a snowy landscape. Inside a woman, Liz (Cean Okada), holds a cross whilst Darby (Ryan Quinn Adams) drives. When the camera goes into the back of the car a young woman is unconscious and tied up.

Cean Okada as Liz
They pull in the driveway of their house and Darby carries the girl in. They inject her and take her to a bathroom. Placing her in the bath, the girl is stabbed and then Darby chops her up with an axe. Hymns play on the radio as Liz cleans up the blood. We see them cooking, saying grace and it is absolutely clear that they are cannibals. Darby comes to bed, getting in besides Liz; his fart and waft (and the filmic gag thereof) shouldn’t work but they both laugh and it does raise a viewer snigger. We discover later they are mother and son and so the bedroom scene carries an incestuous undercurrent although we see nothing sexual.

vagabonds
They drive out the next day and bury some of the remains (this seems slightly incongruous as body parts, clearly from earlier victims, are later discovered in their chest freezer). However the trip allows them to pass two vagabond looking young women, Ursula (Victoria Steadman) and Rose (Kelly Brown), walking the road. They turn the car around and offer them a lift and then, when driving, suggest they come to their home for a shower and a hot meal. Once they get there the travellers are looking to rob the cannibals, who in turn are looking to chop up and eat their guests.

Rose with fangs showing
They manage to split Ursula and Rose up and drug them both. Ursula is taken to the bathroom to be killed but Liz leaves Darby to it – she needs new cleaning products and so drives into town. Darby stabs Ursula and then chops her arm off, but when he looks it is reattached. The clever part of this was we don’t see the reattachment any more than he does, it saves developing a sfx that might not work. He chops it off again and again it reattaches and he asks 'what are you?' By now Rose has come in behind him, they both sprout fangs and attack.

bitten then staked
After the attack they retrieve their bags. They travel with stakes and mallet and stake Darby before he can turn but leave him in the bath for Liz to find, when she returns. Liz does find him, runs downstairs and grabs a gun. Bullets don’t phase the two vampires who attack and, subsequently, stake Liz. Ursula can’t be bothered dragging the bodies too far and so they are put in a cupboard. The film decides to slow the pace here, just for a moment, and we get a scene of the two vampires sharing a blood bath (the blood seems quite dilute, go with it). The conversation takes in their age (Rose turns 426 at midnight), the poisonous nature of modern blood (due to chemicals and drugs), the fact that the cannibals actually had chemical free blood, and how inconvenient modern life was with security cameras and such like.

zombie attack
The next day – late afternoon – Rose wakes. Ursula has been listening to the radio about the meteors and the fact that they contain creatures. We get a ‘War of the Worlds broadcast’ moment as a reporter describes the hatching of an alien. There is later radio chatter about victims coming back and rabidly attacking the living. The vampires decide to split but, on the way to the cannibal’s car, they hear a scream in the woods. They investigate and see someone prone, with an alien enfolding their body, and then zombies running through the trees towards them – so they run back to the house. A couple of zombies break in and they kill them with headshots (lucky shots as it turns out) and Ursula is bitten. She seems to react but then reveals she is joking, the bite has healed.

gun toting nun 
There is a commotion outside and they see a priest, Father Cooper (Greg Travis, Lilitu) and a nun, Sister Gigi (Kannon Smith), toting guns and shooting zombies as they run to the house. They let them in. Cooper asks about the homeowners – calling them God fearing Christians – and then reveals that headshots are not the trick with the zombies but actually destroying the pineal gland – the source of soul energy. He says that the aliens essentially eat the victim’s soul and then the victim tries to recover what they have lost. The church has known about them for some time (a previous invasion is the source of the Book of Revelations).

ranting priest
He rants a bit and starts showing his cross around. Now the vampires have been out in sunlight (sunglasses worn) and have reflections but they do retreat from the cross and the holy water he starts splashing around. He then finds the bodies of Darby and Liz, drops the holy water and comes out with the best line in the movie: “you avoided the crucifix, you moved away from the holy water, bite marks on the neck, spikes in the chests… you’re feminists, both of you.” He does, of course, get to a vampire conclusion but the zombies are breaking in and there are aliens around.

autopsy with knife and fork
Phew… there is so much packed in here. I want to mention a moment when we see a zombie kill someone, get the pineal gland and eat it. Their face does (through post production effect) light up as they take the soul energy but then it seems to shoot up through them and through the ceiling – that bit is all very Lifeforce (though unexplained in the film). The vampires discover that the aliens (which fly and also seem to be able to appear out of thin air) have a combined brain/heart and a crossbow bolt through it will kill it. The aliens are able to fire small bugs at people that bite and incapacitate them. Vampires do not have souls. At one point we get a passing mention of “Mother Lilith” with regards the vampires.

vampire eyes
There is so much going on here and it is great fun. There was too little of Sister Gigi (who was incidentally introduced as mute) but Greg Travis chewed the scenery wonderfully as the Irish priest. Whilst the acting wasn’t anywhere near A list, it was all watchable, and Kelly Brown and Victoria Steadman had a rapport and chemistry that worked. The effects were definitely B movie – the aliens, especially, looked cheap (though the one for a makeshift autopsy with knife and fork looked better than the floating ones, which all died with the exact same repeated screech sound effect).

soul sucking alien
But it was fun. I can’t stress that enough. It moved at pace, the camerawork supported the pace, as did the editing. It might have been cinematic guff but it was enjoyable guff and worth watching because of it. That is why, despite its problems, this is going to get a credible 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Carmilla Movie – review

Director: Spencer Maybee

Release date: 2017

Contains spoilers

When I put the warning ‘contains spoilers’ on this review it is not just for the film I’m reviewing but also, in this case, for the web serial that it is based upon.

At the end of Season 3, Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis) and Laura (Elise Bauman) managed to avert the apocalypse but at a great personal cost. Having mercy upon them, the death goddess restored Laura to life and Carmilla was made mortal. The series ended out in the real world, rather than in web-cast mode. That was five years ago…

Elise Bauman as Laura
The web series has a post-credit coda that doesn’t really fit with this, so let’s ignore that. Laura, to camera, updates us on the fate of several main characters. Danny (Sharon Belle) is still a vampire but is an advocate for vampire rights. Perry (Annie Briggs) and Lafontaine (Kaitlyn Alexander) are in business creating paranormal busting technology. Carmilla is using her ‘vampire trust-fund’ to do very little except sunbathe and eat pastries – much to Laura’s chagrin. Laura, Mel (Nicole Stamp) and Kirsch (Matt O'Connor) are on a local news show. Laura, it becomes apparent, is unhappy with the direction of her life and her feelings about Carmilla’s choices are to avoid her concentrating on her own disappointments.

blood coffin
Laura starts having dreams, in a period setting, where she witnesses Carmilla still as a vampire as she seduces a victim, Elle (Dominique Provost-Chalkley). There are also dreams of Carmilla in a blood filled coffin. Eventually she dreams that Carmilla bites her and wakes with Carmilla (in a dream-state) actually biting her. This, of course, is shocking as Carmilla is meant to be mortal. Lafontaine discerns that the spell which brought her back to life is detectable within her, they settle on calling it a spark, but is fluctuating. When the spark is weaker she gets fangs, a sunlight aversion and a craving for blood.

the gang
However, when Laura quotes something Carmilla said in her dreams they realise that these are not just dreams (the quote comes from LeFanu’s story ). Carmilla finds a picture of Elle’s house and it is the one Laura has been dreaming of. They decide it is a call to go to the house and get the gang together (all the characters mentioned above, bar Danny who only appears in the film’s epilogue) to go and check the place out – flying back out to Styria. Lafontaine and Perry bring ghost hunting equipment and Mel a crossbow.

dreams of the past
Soon they are locked in the house with a group of ghosts who are all Carmilla’s victims. They are not after revenge, however. They have been stuck in a nightmare-scape since dying, reliving their worst moments. They have found a spell book that suggests that Carmilla can perform a ritual that will let them move on. The ghosts are represented by Emily (Cara Gee) and Charlotte (Grace Lynn Kung) – the Bronte sisters – we don’t get details on the others. Although the ghosts are genuine they lie about one thing. Elle has come back (they say she hasn’t) and she’s pulling the strings…

Nicole Stamp as Mel
So the first thing to say is congratulations to this web-series for going full movie. I understand there was some crowd-funding involved but nevertheless it is a great achievement. And also possibly a weakness. What I mean by that is that the film is clearly a fan-pleaser. It draws in primary serial characters (though if Kirsch had a purpose it was hard to see) and even Mattie (Sophia Walker) makes a late cameo appearance (in a set up for a second film). But despite this the main story is thin and under-explored. There was an opportunity to develop a heap of atmosphere and, let’s face it horror, that was squandered.

Natasha Negovanlis as Carmilla
It does open up the Carmilla character more than the serial ever did, which was good, but (barring Laura) our other characters were under-explored and under used. The film has received very positive (and deserved) praise from the LGBTQ community for showing queer characters in a natural way, without falling back on coming out tropes (all the characters are out comfortable in sexuality and gender identity) but the supporting characters could have been rounded much more.

bite
This isn’t to say that it is a bad film, just that it isn’t exactly horror and is story-lite. How much you get on with it will depend on whether you are a fan of the serial or not. If you have never seen the serial then the characters will mean little to you and the story will be annoyingly thin, if you have but weren’t a fan you have an advantage but, even so, it won’t be up there on your film lists. If you are a fan I have no doubt you’ll love it (some critically, others not so much). I think, with those caveats, 5 out of 10 reflects a fair balance. More work with characters, atmosphere and plot needed.

The imdb page is here the movie is available at its Homepage.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Honourable Mention: Carmilla Season 3

Director: Spencer Maybee

First aired: 2016

Contains spoilers for Season 1 and 2

This is an honourable mention (as it is available to watch for free) for the web serial Carmilla, and the third season, which at the tail end actually bursts out of the single set format and actually has some limited locational work. That is for the finale, however.

So, Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis), Laura (Elise Bauman) and LaFontaine (Kaitlyn Alexander) are hiding in the Silas University library – a sentient building – having lost the battle for the campus. This was mostly down to being manipulated by the dean, Carmilla’s mother who was thought dead at the end of season 1 but was actually hiding amongst them, having possessed Perry (Annie Briggs). The library is preventing the dean gaining entry.

the dean
Back on campus proper the dean has consolidated her control of the University and is using the students as slave labour to dig down into the pit that previously contained the angler fish demi-god intent on opening up seven gates to gain entry to Hell and bring about the end of the world. The only thing that can stop her (the gang discover) are four items of power. Still ghosting around is Matska “Mattie” Belmonde (Sophia Walker). She was killed in the last season by Danny (Sharon Belle), who broke her pendant that contained a piece of Mattie’s heart, but something raised her from the dead.

the gsng
Danny herself was raised as a vampire by the dean, who she now serves. Carmilla and Laura are still dysfunctional, having broken up in the last series, and Laura is having self-doubts about doing the right thing, as every attempt has led to disaster, whereas Carmilla is now ready to fight – simply so she can kill her mother once and for all (LaFontaine wants to find a way of recovering Perry). The series takes in the apocalypse, Sumerian gods and pocket universes as it winds its way to conclusion.

use of powers
Like previous seasons it is set in a single set location (bar newscasts) with the story mostly relayed through story, which makes it play like, though we get special effects such as the use of powers when the dean gets in the library at one point, or the appearing and vanishing of Mattie before camera. In the finale, however, we get some locational work with the passage to the pit, the gate room and an external shot. If you fancy watching season three then you can find it here and the imdb page is here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Honourable Mention: Carmilla – Season Zero

Director: Mars Horodyski

First aired: 2015

Contains spoilers

So, hot on the heels of Season 2 came Season Zero, a bonus short run of Carmilla episodes that sees Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis) and Laura (Elise Bauman) trapped in the library. A camera senses motion and starts to record.

They are in an interrogation room area and Laura stumbles, literally, over some VHS tapes. On watching we see a short adventure based before Season 1.

stumbling into the room
Lola Perry (Annie Briggs) and Melanippe Callis (Nicole Stamp) find themselves deposited in the interrogation room. There is recording equipment (on), torture implements and a strangely large collection of sanitary product – the series were sponsored by U by Kotex – unsure as to why they were brought there. They are both freshers and they started Silas University three months before. Eventually Perry, a wiccan, starts trying to cleanse the room with sage – something that Mel disapproves of as she is a sceptic.

casting spells
However, soon their interrogator comes in and it is none other than Carmilla – this is before season 1 and so Carmilla works for her mother, the Dean, and is still pretty much evil and, of course, her identity as a vampire is not known. The two prisoners totally believe she will break their fingers as promised. She is looking for a fall-guy after a frat boy fell from a roof, thinking he was a chicken. But as things progress they realise it wasn’t an isolated incident, that frat boys are being morphed into animals and that more and more of the female students (and faculty) have started to fail to get their periods (a phenomena that has gone on since fresher week). They also discover that the room has locked them in until they solve the mystery.

Carmilla sets the camera
A really minimalist season with only the characters mentioned and occasional video from another cell where frat boy Kirsch (Matt O'Connor) has been taken. The story is simple, though effective, and it was a nice little bonus for fans of the series and a different take on the characters as we see them in the series proper. The imdb page is here and the season can be watched here.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Honourable Mention: Carmilla – Season 2

Director: Spencer Maybee

First aired: 2015

Contains spoilers for Season 1

This is an honourable mention (as it is available to watch for free) for the web serial Carmilla and it is such a sin that I have taken so long to get to posting this as the serials have proven to be good fun and went on to spawn bigger things

At the end of Season 1 the vampire Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis) and Laura (Elise Bauman) had been through Hell…. Almost literally. They had fought the evil dean of Silas University (Carmilla’s mother) who was looking to sacrifice students to a creature of light. Carmilla had taken a soul sword and stabbed her mother and the being – only for them to discover that the ‘being’ was a lure – literally a lure on the end of a giant angler fish – referred to as a demi-God.

Carmilla and Laura
In the post-season special we discovered that the girls were looking to escape over the alps but, at the beginning of this season, they are back at the University having failed to cross the alps (villagers and pitchforks might have been encountered). The demi-God never made it to the campus as the aperture from its underground cave was too small; but the power vacuum left by the death of the dean has led to the Summers (the sorority), the Zetas (the fraternity) and the Alchemy Club splitting the campus into three sections and now involved in border skirmishes and outright attacks.

they're all dead
Now, if all this sounds exciting, I need to forewarn you (if you are new to the serial) of the format. The serial is in the form of webcasts (and events in the room the casts are recorded). The serial is a one set affair and the events are described (and referenced in costume and makeup). This actually works really well, giving it a play-like feel. Anyway, they are back, they have new accommodation (Carmilla neglects to mention it was her mother’s house) but almost immediately things go awry when Perry (Annie Briggs) enters the room traumatised and covered in blood.

Mattie
She had visited the press club – and they’ve been slaughtered. As Laura sees a mystery to be solved (and takes on the mantle of newscaster) the gang become faced with the reappearance of the Silas University Board of Governors – chaired by Matska “Mattie” Belmonde (Sophia Walker) – Carmilla’s vampire sister who thinks it her duty to kill Laura (as slayer of their mother) and is only held back by Carmilla. The board seem to be up to no good, liquidizing assets to a sinister corporation and so the gang side with board member Lugenbaron Vordenberg (Ian D. Clark, Forever Knight). However, is it wise to side with a vampire hunter, stuck in the past, whose ancestor was killed by Carmilla?

vampire screech
The relationship between Laura and Carmilla is also under strain. Carmilla is a vampire, has centuries of experience and a jaded view of the world. Laura is a 19-years old, with an idealistic view of the world who thinks love means to change and to better oneself. Actually, the way the relationship was handled was really rather well done and hats off to Sophia Walker, who was magnificent as Mattie. We discover in this that an elder vampire (Mattie is older than Carmilla) can scream – an ultrasonic screech that hurts humans and causes recording equipment to fritz.

If you fancy watching season two then you can find it here and the imdb page is here.