Monday, March 04, 2024

Short Film: Vampire Siblings


At just over an hour this is close to being a feature, but the Kinigra Deon created vehicle is a web serial with the first season cut into a movie (there are three more movies of seasons 2 to 4 currently available). They seem to be part of an incredibly prolific output by Kinigra Deon but do not have, at time of writing, an IMDb page that I could locate.

vegan blood

The film follows Seraph who is just getting home as things begin. Mom has left a note about vegan blood being left in the fridge (by vegan, non-human, veg supplement and not the blood of a vegan). It isn’t appetising by all account. We soon learn that Seraph is a hybrid, mom is a vampire and dad is a human, though her two older sisters are both vampires. They are less than impressed with the vegan option.

the sisters

A knock on the door and the appearance of Seraph’s boyfriend Roman throws her a loop – he has flowers but she wasn’t expecting a visit (or had ever had one, one guesses). The sisters smell his warm blood and are downstairs and inviting him in, with him ignoring Seraph’s desire for him to leave. They try and feed him an elixir (to make feeding from him easier) and he eventually is about to be food when mom gets home and rescues him, wiping his memory.

wolf out

The sisters are grounded (behind a mystical barrier) and get their cousin to release them when mom goes back out (calling to the cousin by telepathy). Unfortunately Roman has turned up at the door again, wanting to celebrate his 16th birthday with Seraph, and is in danger, again, when the moon comes out and he turns into a werewolf and escapes. The film, to this point, seemed quite Young Adult sitcom but takes a turn here.

Seraph vamps

A world is drawn around the film of vampires and werewolves and a thinly held treaty between the races. Roman is condemned at the next full moon to become a wolf permanently, as the only way to prevent this is killing a vampire. That Roman seemed to know nothing of his nature, despite a werewolf society in the area and his mom being one was a plot point that might have been answered within the narrative. Seraph is also told, just as she starts to turn, that hybrid vampires become full vampire around 16.

mom and Seraph

This was really ambitious and whilst there were some strange choices (an old person, as a throwaway character, in an obvious mask rather than just getting an older actor, for instance) the less successful choices were still down to a commendable ambition and there was plenty that did work. The undertones of dealing with puberty and bullying were interesting and the full movie is available for free at YouTube.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Handbook of the Vampire: Australia and New Zealand Vampires


Written for Palgrave’s Handbook of the Vampire by Ashleigh Prosser and Blair Speakman their chapter page can be found here. As the chapter title suggests it looks at antipodean vampires and whilst it does touch on indigenous myth, around Australia at least, it focuses on media representation of vampires both in literature and films/television.

When it comes to Australia, I was aware of the various films it touched upon and there is a very Gothic aspect to much Australian horror focused cinema. Where my interest lay, in this chapter, was around First Nation representation in vampire media and, of course the authors touched on the series Firebite and its depiction of post-colonial racism still institutionalised in Australian culture. What really did interest me, however, was the literature from First Nation authors and in particular the series Master of the Ghost Dreaming by Mudrooroo. A four-part series, apparently it is books 2-3 that make up a trilogy of vampire tales that merge Dreaming and Gothic horror. Book 2 (the first vampire one) is called Undying and I immediately purchased it and will feature it on TMtV at some point in the future.

The scope of Aotearoa New Zealand vampire media is a bit thinner but also tends to import colonial vampires into its narrative. The chapter touched on TVs It Is I, Count Homogenised and the film Perfect Creature but the most impactful Aotearoa New Zealand vampire vehicle was, of course, What we Do in the Shadows - where the vampires are all, of course, colonisers/immigrants into a recognisable Wellington. In fact, it was its spin-off, Wellington Paranormal, that contained Māori myth and a main Māori character in the form of Sgt. Maaka (Maaka Pohatu). These vehicles are, of course, comedy and that continues a thread through Aotearoa New Zealand vampire vehicles that also includes My Grandpa is a Vampire. If there was a missed opportunity here it would have been to touch on the spin-off TV What we Do in the Shadows - whilst that was, of course, US based it is in the same universe and, with characters from the film appearing on occasion, could have created an interesting reverse colonisation argument. Nevertheless, this was a great introduction to antipodean vampires.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Creepshow: Meet the Belaskos – review


Directors: Justin G. Dyck & John Esposito 

First aired: 2023 

Contains spoilers

Into season 4 of Creepshow and, honestly, I thought the season as a whole was weaker than previous ones. Nevertheless, it is still a solid piece of spooky entertainment in the Lonesome October and that’s what matters.

In the fourth episode the first segment was our vampire part and it starts with a vampire hunter attacking a vampire woman in her coffin. 

staking

The staking is really rather well done with the vampire haemorrhaging into the coffin, filling it with blood, which is – of course – a folkloric type of stake response. The attack is a dream and Chuck Belasko (Brendan Taylor) awakens next to his wife, Helena (Lisa Durupt) – they are in a coffin made for two. He gets up and goes to a nearby coffin containing his daughter, Anastasia (Karis Cameron), telling her to put her phone down and go to sleep.

young love

They are in a moving van going to their new home and this is a world in which vampires are out of the coffin – indeed they are described as Vampire Americans. They have moved because Anastasia, or Anna, had been attacked in their old town (and bears a cross shaped scar as a reminder). The new town is meant to be tolerant but proves not so much so. Their new neighbour, Doug (Donavon Stinson), clearly doesn’t like them because they are vampires – though his son, Alex (Matthew Nelson-Mahood), seems rather taken with Anna. Equally, the local coffee shop is hiring but vampires need not apply.

bat creature form

Unfortunately, Doug doesn’t take kindly to the new relationship and this leads to both a tragedy and a rather cold revenge. The vampire elements in this are fun. They can turn into bat-creatures, they burn in the sun but it is a fairly slow, painful process, and they appear as dead things on camera. This is a world with all sorts of blood supplements and there is a comment that a Belasko hasn’t bit a human for 100-years. This doesn’t necessarily bring a whole lot new to the party (though the division in America on both racial and political lines are obviously sub-texts) but it is solid vampire fun. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Blu-Ray @ Amazon US

On Blu-Ray @ Amazon UK

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Enterfear The Next Wave – review


Director: Tim Wall

Release date: 2022

Contains spoilers

This is a sequel and, to be honest, I haven’t seen the first film but the opening of this gives a quick synopsis. A year before, a meteorite crashed near a TV broadcast tower and the radiation it gave off caused the broadcast to enter reality – in simple terms it brought forward a zombie outbreak. This was eventually quelled by Frank (Phillip Drake) and Rick (Hunter Bickham) who managed to zap the zombies with a remote and dampen the effects with a “radio virus”. The fragment was taken by the CIA.

Frank and Rick

One year on and Frank has a book signing, when a guy, Lucas (Ryan Reinike), comes to him with a messed-up copy of the book and wondering if the book told all or if there was facts missing. He then gets funny with Frank and declares him a fake. Lucas then meets some mobsters who he has been skimming credit cards for – though he hasn’t brought the required numbers. He’s threatened.

film

Lucas has kidnapped a janitor from a local lab and creates an ID so he can get in – the aim is to steal the meteorite – which he eventually does. He tries to tap into its power, when back home, but fails and puts on the video Vampirum King of the Night and promptly falls asleep. The meteorite powers back up and Vampirum is created – wanting to break the virus that’s holding back the meteorite’s power and take over the world. Vampirum possesses Lucas and they can swap between identities. The possession aspect means that the remote-control trick won’t work.

Ryan Reinike as Lucas

After turning one of the mobsters into the wolf man (Chase Waters), Lucas tracks down Rick at his TV repair shop to try and find the laptop that carried the virus. Rick doesn’t have it but realises things have started again, discovers that remotes don’t work, and tries to warn the new sheriff (Jeremy London), who doesn’t listen. He then gets Frank and together they search for the original Sheriff, Clooney (Wayne Rodolfich), who (they realise) must have the laptop. It is up to the three of them, plus detective Rebecca Wilder (Faith Stanley) and officer Chang (Cuong Alex Do) to stop Lucas/Vampirum.

Vampirum gets the laptop

This was actually quite good fun – though watching the first film would probably have been useful. I was genuinely amused and the Frank and Rick characters worked well. Vampirum was a tad rubbery to look at, but then he was the recreation of a b-movie vampire, so that actually worked, There wasn’t a huge amount of lore with this for the same reasons but it is worth watching as a B but more so as a pretty effective comedy. 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Honourable Mention: Interplanetary Revolution


This is a just over seven-minute-long Soviet propaganda movie from 1924, with the distinction of being only the second animated film made by the Soviets and the first sci-fi. It was directed by Nikolay Khodataev, Zenon Komissarenko and Youry Merkulov. I have to thank David Annwn Jones for bringing it to my attention.

Now, before looking at why this has got a mention, I have to just remind that Marx did use the vampire as analogous to capitalism. Indeed, most famously the line in Das Kapital, “Capital is dead labour, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.”

sucking the lifeblood of the worker

So, to the mention. The cartoon suggests that (in the near future of 1929) men will have colonised Mars and that the evil capitalists will be sucking the lifeblood of the enslaved workers there until Comrade Cominternov saves the day by going there and sparking revolution. The cartoon shows two capitalists becoming gorged upon sucked blood. We can also see that one has a swastika on his brow – showing a Soviet conflation of fascism and capitalism (the swastika was adopted by the Nazis in 1920 but also by other far right nationalistic organisations of the time). It’s this scene that gets the cartoon its mention, but take away the Soviet propaganda aspect and think about (a hundred years later) whether there are today capitalist demagogues who have eyes set to Mars (or space generally) and play to the worst of the right-wing popularist tropes, whilst treating their workers as disposable means to capital…

The imdb page is here.

I have embedded probably the best resolution I can find on YouTube but there are versions with English subs added that can be found through a quick google.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Handbook of the Vampire: Introduction to the Handbook of the Vampire


This is my First post looking in an in-depth way at Palgrave’s Handbook of the Vampire, a monumental reference work that has an introduction and 97 chapters concerning all aspects of vampire study. It is published as an e-book with the chapters available through institutional logins and being published as a two-volume hardcopy. I am lucky enough to have provided two chapters for the handbook (which I won’t be writing blog posts on but you can find links to the Handbook pages for each chapter I provided on the Handbook Page I have set up).

This first post concerns the Introduction, written by editor Simon Bacon. Of course, the chapter is an editorial, it outlines the scope of the project and what the reader can hope to find within. He suggests that “So much more research and study are required to understand and recognise the full implications of what we are saying when we say ‘VAMPIRE.’”. This is fitting coming from Simon – he and I indulge in frequent correspondence and have collaborated a few times, but his output into the arena of vampire study is vast (as both editor and author) but his definition of vampire is wide also and it is this width that allowed him to catch a vast net to snare the cornucopia of treasures within the Handbook.

I also have to give a moment of thanks for the fact that one of my entries for the Handbook was actually cited within the introduction.

As I continue to look at the Handbook, I will point out interesting ideas, new sources of vampire media and even where I disagree with a proposition within a chapter. This project, to map each chapter, over time, here at TMtV will undoubtedly take a long time. I will read the chapters over time and then have to write the article and schedule it for posting, of course, but it is a journey I think will be worth taking.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Dragged Beneath the Shadows – review


Directors: Jasper de Bruin, Xavier Hamel & Dustin Curtis Murphy (segments)

Release date: 2023

Contains spoilers

Creating an anthology film by tying shorts together is very much a thing at the moment and they often vary in quality. The shorts in this case, one of which I have previously looked at in its own right, vary on story quality but are all good quality shoots.

The film has six shorts in all and three of them are vampire shorts. I do have to give a shout out to the first short, however, which is a witch orientated one, simply because it was so well done. Shot by Sofìa Carrillo in Black and White it is called the Wandering Witch. A lovely sequence is included where two witches in the film both transform into cats as they prowl and fight in that form and as humans but with fangs.

The Hunger

The first vampire segment is the Jasper de Bruin directed short Nightingale, which still holds its own as a short and, indeed, I think was ultimately the most satisfying of the three vampire shorts. The next was called Forever & Ever and was directed by Xavier Hamel. It is narrated by Kate, a girl at high school who becomes invisible to all until Vicky sees her. When we first see them together they are led under a The Hunger poster. Vicky takes Kate to the prom and there is homophobic murmuring and Vicky dances with one of the mean girls but, when she lures Kate into a room, she reveals her vampire nature, turns her and a massacre ensues. The short was very short, quite classy in its cinematography though it showed very little and the story was absolutely basic.

survivor

The final vampire segment was Dustin Curtis Murphy’s The Last Confession in which a priest visits Franz, a dying man who had been a guard at a concentration camp. He is unrepentant but tells the priest that he did one selfless act, taking a girl who somehow survived the gas chamber and hiding her from the Nazis. Of course there is a reason she survived the industrialised slaughter and she has been in touch with him recently… This one worked well, mentioning her nature is a spoiler (but when the vampirism is the twist its hard not to spoil) and the thought that a selfless act amongst all the evil was an evil act in and of itself was interesting.

bitten

The collection is worthwhile and it’s nice to see vampires taking centre stage. In fact, the short Family History by Mark J. Parker could also be argued to have a vampiric aspect also but with three of the films being traditionally vampire stories I haven’t covered that one off. The scores for these are for the vampire segments and Nightingale strengthens this to a solid 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK