Thursday, October 27, 2011

April Fool's Day

Since it is close to Halloween, let's discuss horror movies centered around holidays. There isn't one holiday I can think of that doesn't have a movie centered around it and most fall into the slasher genre with Michael Myers being the biggest example of cashing in on holiday horror. I think one of the most intriguing films plot wise and the first "holiday slasher" I remember seeing is April Fool's Day.

Film Plot: Rich college student Muffy St. John invites a large group of her friends to stay at her family's mansion on a coastal island for the spring break weekend, which falls on Muffy's favorite holiday: April Fool's Day. Its the regular set up of drinking, partying and sex but the atmosphere of good old fashioned pranks turns into something more sinister after a joke goes to far. A deck hand for the ferry is gruesomely injured, Muffy's cousin Skip disappears and the laughter turns into screams of terror when the bodies start popping up. Who is responsible for all of this? One of Muffy's guest or has the hostess taken her love of April Fool's Day a little too far?

Even though April Fool's Day is a horror film and regarded as a slasher it has a plot based on an Agatha Christie novel to make the horror more suspenseful. There is blood but it does not take it up to gore levels and the formula of what you don't see is scarier to make the film different from it predecessors. I first saw the movie on one of those early time slot days of being home sick from school when you could catch more obscure films and fell in love with this flick. There is humor and intrigue, drama and gore and also characters that you can actually like thanks to the terrific if sometimes cheesy acting but hey it wouldn't be an 80s horror film without it!

Next Blog: Embrace Of The Vampire

Friday, October 14, 2011


After a family emergency (which turned out better than it sounded) I have returned to my blog posting.

When you are sitting there watching a horror movie do you ever realize how beautiful it can be? Yes despite the blood and gore the cinematography or the sets of a film can be gorgeous. One off-shoot of the horror genre is quite good at this and that is Italian horror. One of the masters of Italian horror is Dario Argento and one of the classics of Italian horror cinema is Suspiria.

Film Plot: American Suzy Banyon arrives one night at a prestigious German ballet academy during a storm...and another young woman's flight from the same school. This girl, Pat, flees to a friend's apartment and is then attacked by some unseen dark force which results in the death of Pat and her friend. It seems Pat's death puts in motion a string of strange events that Suzy must try to uncover with only one sure clue: something about an iris.

Soon, maggots start raining from the ceiling, footsteps in the night and strange noises of whispers and snoring begin to haunt Suzy and her roommate Sara as a former pianist at the school is attacked and killed by his own seeing eye dog. When Suzy starts becoming sick, Sara believes that witchcraft might be to blame for the recent events and her roommate's sudden illness. When Sara is killed, Suzy is now left alone to face the dark forces within the school before they destroy her.

I find it very hard to describe Suspiria without giving so much of the plot away because the film is one of those movies that you just have to watch to know exactly what is happening. Turning away for even a single minute robs you of Suspiria, plot wise and visually. The film is gory and glossy and even though the film has no nudity it has plenty of porn...scenery porn that is with its use of primary colors and of course it is also expected to be grandiose thanks to setting it in a ballet academy and filming Suspiria in both Germany and Italy.

Suspiria is also notable in that it has a very dominant female cast with little or no dialogue from the male actors and characters which will make it a film that woman can grasp and men can enjoy. Lead actress Jessica Harper does a great job here as Suzy Banyon and if you want another great performance from her, try finding Phantom Of The Paradise on DVD (just as I'm trying to do.)

Short and sweet I know but if you haven't seen Suspiria I don't want to spoil it for you and if you have seen this film, you should already know how good it is or bad (depending on your view) it is. Since October is as good a month as any for horror, I recommend viewing Suspiria this Halloween.

Next Blog: April Fool's Day

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Brothers Grimm

Another thing you need to know about me when it comes to movies: I love films based on fairy tales. Since I grew up watching Disney films with the rest of my generation, I have come to enjoy fairy tales even in their most blatant forms of happy endings but I also enjoy the darker side of the tales which is how they were written way back when. The most prominent authors of fairy tales were the German Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, and their works have been adapted to film and even films have been made about the brothers themselves. Most of these movies are light-hearted adaptations but we are going to talk about the 2005 film directed by Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam. This movie of course begins once upon a time...

The Brothers Grimm, Jake and Will, are con artists who go from village to town to rid the people there of supernatural forces of evil: witches, demons, monsters and evil spells. Older Will is in it for the money, the glory and the women it attracts while Jake is more interested in chronicling the folklores into stories much to his brother's frustration. Being in French occupied Germany doesn't help the Brothers Grimm when they are captured by Italian torturer, Cavaldi, and taken to French General Delatombe who has another mystery for them to solve...while trying to find a way to debunk the brothers' past "victories".

Young girls are going missing in the village of Marbaden  and Will and Jake are sent to find out why and soon discover that the woods about the village are said to be cursed by an ancient queen, gifted with eternal life but in search of eternal youth and beauty that only the blood of twelve young girls can bring her. Not knowing the woods, the brothers along with Cavaldi are lead to the beautiful huntress Angelika, whose own sisters were taken by the queen, to lead them into the cursed forest.

After stopping the queen's werewolf huntsman from taking the final twelfth girl from the village, Jake and Will soon have to go off and rescue Angelika when it is determined she will be the last girl instead to complete the Queen's spell. All of the stories are coming true and the Brothers Grimm only have a short time to save Angelika and the other girls from the village from the wicked queen but with General Delatombe and his french soldiers out to capture them...can Will and Jake bring a happily ever after to their own dark fairy tale?

The Brothers Grimm is one of my favorite films due to its very dark take on fairy tales but with enough comedy and drama to keep me entertained and of course it is also filled with adventure and fantasy like the stories of the real Brothers Grimm that is the reason I watched the film in the first place. Matt Damon and the late Heath Ledger are very talented in this film which shows of how funny at times Matt Damon can be and the role of Jacob Grimm fits Heath Ledger's charm and he is just adorable and vulnerable at the same time. I relate with Heath's role more than Matt's role as Will because I am interested in the romance and the fantasy of the stories Jake wishes to tell more than the fame and glory that seems to be the character's focus but I love the connection of almost real brothers that Damon as Will brings to the story when he and Ledger share the screen.

Even though the Brothers Grimm are the main characters, Jonathan Pryce as General Delatombe and Peter Stormare as Cavaldi at times steal the movie with their over acting but being a Terry Gilliam film, it is to be expected that overacting does not equal hammy but comedic gold. Lena Headey's Angelika is a very positive female character and I like how she is not made out to be just some shallow love interest to cause friction between the two brothers but a woman who can handle herself without the help of a man. Monica Bellucci as the Evil Queen has a very limited role but the time she spends onscreen she is seductive, beautiful and dangerous enough to bring the role of the vain and evil sorceress  present in any fairy tale to life. Besides the characters, the beauty of the Czech Republic is showcased in the beautiful background as the filming location and the cinematography is just breathtaking.

If you enjoy fantasy films and love fairy tales as much as I do, you will enjoy The Brothers Grimm. I can also say that if you love Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as much as I do, you will enjoy this film. You may watch the film only to see these two talented and handsome actors but you will end up falling under the spell of this film for all its dark and fanciful charm just as much as I have.

Next Blog: Suspiria

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Carrie: Movie/Book Review

It has been awhile since I posted a movie blog review but I wanted to take enough time to get together my thoughts and ideas together on how I was going to write about one of my favorite films and books of all time. So here it is...

Carrie was Stephen King's first published novel and it was the first of his novels that I read and I have became a Stephen King fan ever since! I found the tie-in novel to the film version that was released in 1976 (the novel published in 1974) at my aunt's garage sale because it belonged to one of my older cousins. I was 11 or maybe 12 when I read it and then saw the movie when TNT still had its MonsterVision late on Saturday nights and completely took to the film. Why did it grab my attention so much? Maybe it is because the main character is a tormented young girl mostly mocked and the target of humiliation by her fellow peers and I can relate to that part of the main plot to Carrie.

The only difference between the titular Carrie White and myself is that Carrie possesses telekinesis, a latent but very potent ability to control and move objects by pure thought in situations that cause anger and distress. As you could guess having a power like this while in high school might not be such a good idea when one is tormented constantly and unlike me, Carrie not only suffers at school but at home as well. My home life compared to Carrie White's is more or less a basket of roses as she is abused by her overtly Christian Fundamentalist mother, Margaret, who sees everything as a sin...which includes her own daughter as she was the result of her own husband raping her in their otherwise "sexless" marriage.

The story and movie are driven by an incident of Carrie's everyday abuse when she starts her first period at 17 and having never been told of menstruation by her mother thinks she is dying. Her fellow female classmates decide not to sympathize but torment her instead and throw tampons and sanitary napkins at Carrie as she is in hysterics. The gym teacher stops the girls, lead by the very cruel Chris Hargensen, and later punishes them with detention in a boot camp style environment and most of the girls develop remorse for their actions...except for Chris who refuses and is banned from attending the prom.

One very remorseful girl, Sue Snell, is ashamed of her actions and decides to make up for not only the most recent incident but the years of torment Carrie has experienced by setting the girl up with her own boyfriend to take her to the senior prom. Tommy Ross, Sue's handsome, athletic yet academic boyfriend goes along with the plan out of his love for Sue and escorts Carrie to the prom where it seems that Carrie is actually beginning to fit in. She arrives in a gorgeous homemade dress and has even fixed up her appearance to look not only completely different but beautiful enough that Tommy starts to fall in love with Carrie as well. It seems like Carrie will finally have that one perfect night but she doesn't realize that Chris and her delinquent boyfriend, Billy Nolan, have one more little nasty prank in mind for the girl who has always been the butt of the joke and the class outcast. Even if you have never seen Carrie or read it, you know that a bucket of pig blood becomes the last straw and soon, a town and the people in it will pay a price for one girl's torment, one girl's hatred and one girl's kindness

This is the basic plot of the film and novel even though the style of the book is written more or less as a flashback set in the frame of a fictional documents such as interviews and excerpts from magazines and books documenting the night of Carrie's destruction, dubbed "Black Prom". Since so much is going on in the book, the reader will have to pay attention but Stephen King segues very nice and smooth between what is the present and what is the past with helpful headings for the "fictional" documents and the normal narrative goes in his delicious style of the omnipotent third person.

The 1974 novel and the 1976 film get a meshing of sorts in the 2002 remake (same plot and fictional interviews) where the effects are better but most of the acting is bland and the modern references are just horrendous. Now, I actually own the 2002 remake and it is only because I have that much appreciation for the novel that made me fall in love with Stephen King. Also I relate to its main character so much that I could watch anyone play Carrie whether they are as fabulous as Sissy Spacek (1976) or as hard trying as Angela Bettis (2002). There was of course a sequel to the 1976 film in 1999 titled The Rage: Carrie 2 but besides the reference to Carrie White directly, a cameo by Amy Irving as Sue Snell and more telekinetic outcast girl with religious mother, I view it as film of its own merit and don't know if you could really call it canonical even if parts of it fit with the original film plot more than the novel.

I'll eventually review The Rage: Carrie 2 in one of my future blogs but I wanted to focus mostly on the original Carrie because of its great sentimental and personal value. True, I don't have Carrie's telekinetic gifts or over bearingly religious mother and I am no longer in high school but I still bear the same emotional scars almost like a stain of pig's blood you can never get out. No matter how much time passes even though the stain may fade, it never dies...sin never dies whether it is your own or those brought upon you by others. I hate to end something on such a serious note but...thank you, Stephen King for not giving up on this novel so that it could be made in to one of my favorite films of all time.

On a less serious note: there is a little bit of comedy in the films and just enough horror to enjoy the movie if you think I'm trying to make it overly dramatic or anything. In's bloody good fun.

Next blog: The Brothers Grimm 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Witches Of Eastwick

Well we've explored the darker side of witchcraft in my previous blog so let's take a slightly more light-hearted look at the dark arts if you will. Comedy and horror combination movies are usually very silly in some ways but the right mixture of these two genres can actually make good movies and if you add a little drama, you might end up with a film that is riveting to watch. Also, I've noticed that movies that have a lot of leading movie stars in their films either bomb or turn out surprisingly good. So what happens when you add four A-list stars, a movie about witches and add some "dramedy"? The answer: You get The Witches of Eastwick.

Film Plot: In the idyllic New England town of Eastwick (either set in Massachusetts where it was filmed or Rhode Island where the book was set) three women are not as satisfied with their lives as the other townsfolk. Alexandra Medford is a sculptress with a daughter, Sukie Ridgemont is a journalist with six daughters and Jane Spofford is a music teacher who is newly divorced from her husband because she can not have children. Despite the bad, the three women are the best of friends and spend most of their nights together, downing martinis and talking about their ideal men. Little do they know, their musings about the perfect man have more of a chance at coming true then those of other women.

                                         Three Beautiful Women. One Lucky Devil.

Soon after, a mysterious stranger arrives and purchases the mansion in town that was once a place of scandal and becomes the talk of the town to the dismay of devout Christian Felicia Alden, who is married to Sukie's boss at the local paper, Clyde. The man named Daryl Van Horne is not a handsome man but his charm soon wins over all three women and when their jealousy causes rivalry among them, Alex, Jane and Sukie learn that they are witches as being around Daryl awakens their powers due to these powerful emotions. With his presence, Daryl shakes up the three friends' lives as Felicia spreads rumors about the indecency of their relationship with this man who she fears may be the devil himself. When Daryl tricks the women into performing a spell that leads to Felicia's death, Alex, Jane and Sukie realize that they must get rid of Daryl but will it be as easy as they think it is when Daryl shows his true colors and its their powers against his?

I absolutely adore this movie and the chemistry between Cher as Alex, Susan Sarandon as Jane and Michelle Pfeiffer as Sukie is what really bonds the movie together but Veronica Cartwright as Felicia can steal the show from the three leading actresses just as easily once her character goes around the bend in remarkable fashion. When I say that, I can tell you that I'll never look at a cherry the same way again. The one thing that leaves me a little on the fence at times is Jack Nicholson as Daryl Van Horne but it has nothing to do with his acting as Jack is always Jack no matter what he does.

Alex: Who are you? 
Daryl: Just your average, horny little devil.

I get the feeling that Daryl is not supposed to be attractive physically but charming enough to seduce a woman but when I look at Jack Nicholson I just don't see even that charm. I know they say looks aren't everything and personality is what matters and I may be judgemental but it is just an opinion. Although, I did learn that Bill Murray was originally cast in the role of Daryl Van Horne so I can't really say he has less or more charm than Jack or is more attractive or less attractive than Jack for that matter so I rest my case.

Last words: As I mentioned earlier, the movie is based off a book written by John Updike about three years before this film of it was released. I haven't read it but the synopsis of it is pretty much the same except the ending is different and some characters are omitted or based off other characters entirely so I can't vouch if the novel is better. One thing I can say is that The Witches of Eastwick is a popular film because it has been turned into a musical and there have been three series based off the film: two pilots that never got on the air and the short-lived 2009 series. Truly there is something magical about the film that keeps drawing people into adapting it and watching and I can say I am one of them and might be too.

Next blog: Carrie  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The horror genre, as you can see, is one of my favorites and the famous list of titles that I own is equal to the obscure amount of horror movie titles that I own. I sometimes think there is a difference between men and women when it comes to liking horror films and when movies come along that seem to rip-off greater horror films, I tend to like them even if I see similarities to greater films. Since we are talking about yet another horror film, let's talk about this sub genre of the horror family tree: the witchcraft horror film. They have been around for a long time and became big with the release of The Craft in the 90s but the new millennium has its own personal stand out for me: the little known gem Tamara.

Film Plot: Tamara is a girl who is not in with the popular crowd. Mousy and intelligent, she is good at English and writing but her plain looks leave her out of the in crowd and her recent article on school athletes and drug testing doesn't help matters much. When two school athletes, Sean and Patrick, get benched thanks to Tamara's article they are ready to make her life miserable. Soon they decide to pull the ultimate prank when they find out Tamara has a crush on her married English teacher, Bill Natolly, and decide to use this against her in the ultimate humiliation.

Getting the local AV nerd, Roger, to help them along with Sean's girlfriend Kisha and an audience for this prank with oblivious Chloe and her boyfriend Jesse, they invite Tamara to a motel under the guise of Mr. Natolly and decide to film the girl's humiliation and then show it to the whole school. When Tamara finds out, even though she's hurt, she fights back but ends up killed when she hits her head on a table and bleeds to death.

                                                               Karma's a bitch.

Things have now been taken to far and the six teens decide to bury Tamara in the woods to hide their tracks but they don't realize that Tamara has been delving into The Black Arts to win Bill Natolly's love and their spilling of her blood has awakened a powerful spell that will bring this shy girl back as a seductive force to get what she wants. In the beginning all Tamara wanted was her teacher's love but now she wants also wants revenge and when the two one will be safe.

                                                        Revenge Has A Killer Body.

I always want to spoil movies but something always stops me because I believe that if my description of the plot is good enough you will Netflix or Redbox or go out and buy this movie to see for yourself what happens. Tamara is one of those films where you really need to see it to believe all the messed up and twisted things I could tell you about the plot because I believe it is that good. Again, my taste in films is different from everybody else but Tamara stands up well on its own two feet even if it might slightly resemble films like Carrie of the past or even Jennifer's Body of the present.

The writing may be the problem or it may be the interpretations the actors give to their characters but Tamara is a sexy and gory film and something about the torment the lead character goes through in both social and romantic situations can't help but strike a nerve in me. Maybe it's why I enjoy the film because I can look past the visceral horror and enjoy it at the same time I am drawn in by the story. For the gore and sexhound fans of horror, there is plenty for you to enjoy as well but don't expect too much skin as the sexuality is pretty tame except for the extreme shortness of Jenna Dewan's skirts in the second half that shows off those killer legs of hers.

Yes, I'm ending on a bad pun but a film like Tamara only deserves the best as it is a classic in b-grade horror but I'll give it an A for effort. Hopefully...I won't be graded too harshly by my generous readers in schooling you on Tamara and I'll have taught you to enjoy it for all its charms and faults.

Class dismissed.

Next blog: The Witches of Eastwick

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Repo: The Genetic Opera

As I have stated before, I like musical films and I like horror films and when you combine the two it is very interesting to watch. Now there is a sub-genre of the musical that is the most mesmerizing to watch and that is the rock opera because there are only a few lines of dialogue spoken: all the rest are sung. Since I like horror films and musicals, when you tell me you have Sarah Brightman of Phantom of The Opera and Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy The Vampire Slayer series in a combination of those two genres...I am more than happy to sit down and watch Repo: The Genetic Opera.

Film Plot: As explained by GraveRobber (our opera's chorus if you will) an epidemic of organ failures plagues the world of the not so distant future. GeneCo, a multi-billion dollar biotech company rises from the tragedy to provide organ transplants but for a profit...and at an even bigger price. If payments can not be made then the organs are repossessed by the Repo Men, trained doctors turned into legal assassins to get back the organs by any means necessary. Nathan Wallace is the head of the Repo Men, working under the orders of GeneCo's president, Rotti Largo with whom he shares a past and a dark secret that concerns the death of Nathan's wife Marni.

Nathan is a man torn between two personalities as the sociopathic, remorseless Repo Man and overprotective yet gentle father to his seventeen-year old daughter, Shiloh. Kept from the outside world because of  a rare blood disease inherited from her deceased mother at birth, Shiloh watches the world from her bedroom window and is sometimes able to escape while her father is off doing his "work". On one such night out, Shiloh runs into Blind Mag, an opera singer who works for GeneCo and is a recipient of a pair of holographic eyes that allow her to see. The woman is an old friend of Marni's, shocked to see Shiloh alive as she thought the girl had died when she was born, and also about to be the latest victim of The Repo Man.

Not to happy about his latest assignment as Mag is Shiloh's godmother and was his wife's best friend, Nathan is goaded into the job by Rotti and his two sons, Luigi and Pavi, which causes the line between Nathan Wallace and The Repo Man to become all the more non-existent when it seems that Shiloh is set to become the new heir to GeneCo due to Rotti's disappointment in his psychopathic sons and his surgery obsessed, vamp of a daughter Amber (which is not her real name). With so much deception, truths are revealed, lies are unmasked and everything is coming to a head to be revealed at the Genetic Opera where the final curtain will fall...but who will live to see another day and who will face their final act?

The visualizations of this film are Gothic, bleak, twisted and completely visceral but make a fine interpretation of an almost post-apocalyptic world literally made of sex, drugs and rock and roll. As stated, I love watching Sarah Brightman and Anthony Stewart Head in his film mostly because Brightman is a sensational singer who looks at least half her actual age and still sings like she did when she played Christine in Phantom Of The Opera. Head also makes a surprising turn from being stuffy "Giles" to playing a role that is part villain, part hero and showcases a voice only glimpsed on Buffy but full blown to make him a modern day rock star. The only other actors that gain my praise are Paul Sorvino as Rotti because who can not love a man so over the top but so cultured and Alexa Vega, who is a very talented young actress even if not too good a singer but she proves she can handle adult roles that make an impression.

There is, however, one thing about Repo: The Genetic Opera that has me on the fence and that is Paris Hilton. Not that I hate her but to me: she can't act. Her singing isn't a problem (actually I love her singing voice) but even though most of the dialogue is sung, the spoken word type of singing she does sounds just awful to me for reasons I can't explain. Paris may have impressed the director enough to get the role as Amber but why does it seem to me that she is being type casted as herself (a spoiled heiress) and then exploited to be overtly sexual (like she was in her sex tape) ? It's just my opinion really but I will admit that at least Paris is trying to act and as long as you try and give an effort to your performance it saves it from being awful.

Last words: If you love gore and opera, then you will enjoy Repo: The Genetic Opera. If you don't love opera, you'll still like this movie if you are a fan of gore. If you aren't a fan of gore but you still want to see a great film, try to get over it and give this film a chance.

Next blog: Tamara

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Near Dark

Well here we are back on the vampire film bandwagon because as I stated in my first blog...I love vampire movies. I think I like vampire films because it is interesting to see how different people use the legends and mythos surrounding these marvelous creatures and reinvent them constantly. If I told you that one of my favorite movies was a vampire Western/urban horror flick...would you look at me like I was crazy? Well maybe I am crazy...absolutely crazy about this movie: Near Dark.

Film Plot: Caleb Colton, handsome young urban cowboy meets attractive young female drifter Mae and the two of them have a whirlwind night of each others company that culminates in a kiss before sunrise with Mae fleeing and Caleb wandering home, now sick and weak against the sun that is now beginning to burn his skin. Helplessly, Caleb's father Loy and his little sister Sarah watch as he is abducted by Mae and and the group of drifters she has been traveling with and flee in their RV across the Oklahoma farmland.

In one hot hungry kiss, he gave her everlasting love. She gave him everlasting life.
                                                                                              ~ Tagline for Near Dark, 1987

This is a strange group lead by the charismatic Jesse Hooker, his companion Diamondback, who is almost a surrogate mother to the child-like but by no means innocent Homer and rounded out by the psychotic and chaotic Severen. Not pleased with Mae's turning Caleb they decide to give the young man a chance to prove himself as a hunter and killer to fit into their "family". Caleb is tested to try and fit in but his confusion as to what he is and the disgust of what he might become make it hard for him to run away as he is still deeply attracted to Mae and she lets him know that she will care for him but she is unsure of how long her "family" will accept Caleb.

                                                     The night has its price.
                                                                                             ~ Mae

Things come to a head when Loy Colton finally finds his son and is ready to take Caleb home and figure out how to  save Caleb by ridding him of the inhuman hunger for blood. It's not the only worry for the Colton family when Homer sets his sights on making little Sarah is own companion and Severen is ready for revenge on Caleb for his betrayal as Mae is torn between the two things she loves: eternal life and her eternal love for Caleb.

This film is gory and gorgeous, entertaining and engaging, sick and seductive, gritty and slick. In the 80s vampire movies were on the rise and Near Dark did not do as well as rival flicks such as The Lost Boys and Fright Night but it has its own charm that can be appreciated by a very wide audience of vampire, horror, Western and action movie fans alike. Another thing that makes the film so mesmerizing is the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, who with their Germanic electronic keyboard/synthesizer magic, make an atmosphere of otherworldly suspense and hypnotic drama. If there had to be a star to point out in this film it would be Bill Paxton as the callously sexy yet sociopathic  Severen as it appears that Bill Paxton is having way too much fun getting grimy and bloody and delivering the best lines in the whole movie.

Howdy. I'm gonna separate your head from your shoulders. Hope you don't mind none
                                                                            ~ Just one of Severen's great lines

Last words: Near Dark is a very good vampire film and lately it is getting lumped together with the biggest vampire movie in history: Twilight. Recent DVD releases of Near Dark have the cover trying to lure in Twihearts by having Caleb play Edward and having Mae seem just a little more human than she really is. Also, a remake of Near Dark was put off because Twilight was released around the same time and another round of dueling vampire flicks was a little close for comfort. Now, being a Twilight fan and a big fan of Near Dark let it be known that: TWILIGHT IS NOTHING LIKE NEAR DARK!!

DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THAT DVD COVER...if you sit down to watch Near Dark and expect it to be anything like Twilight you will either be disappointed or surprisingly delighted by the results. I am sorry if I shouted at you but not everyone has my eclectic taste in films and I would not want you to waste your money or time on something that may not deliver the results you desire...but I am always ready to convert you just as willingly as any vampire into liking the films that give me such joy.

                                                            Pray For Daylight
                                                                                         ~ Tagline for Near Dark, 1987

Next blog: Repo: The Genetic Opera

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Switching genre gears to one of my favorites: the musical. I love musical films and one of my favorites is not in any way as guilty a pleasure for me as you might think: give me roller skates...give me Xanadu!

A place where nobody dared to go / the love that we came to know / They call it Xanadu

Now for those who have never heard of this film before I even discuss the plot I will tell you a little about why most people call this one of the worst movies. It was made in 1980 so it was on the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s so the cheese factor is very high and the script has as many holes as a piece of Swiss. There were constant rewrites according to star Olivia Newton-John as the script was written as it was filmed so I don't really think you can blame the actors when they had an ever-changing plot and possible characterization lost in so much script shuffling.

Film Plot: Frustrated but talented artist Sonny Malone is stuck at a job painting album covers for a record company but he wants so much more than to paint for others who have achieved their dreams. Things seem to change for him when one day he is kissed by a strange girl, finds the same girl on the newest album cover he is commissioned to paint and then keeps running into her. She soon introduces herself to Sonny as Kira and she becomes a new source of inspiration for our disillusioned painter and this also spreads to the next person who enters Sonny's life: Danny McGuire.

 Danny is a former 1940s big band leader now construction tycoon who has lost the inspiration that Sonny now has but thanks to both Sonny and Kira, Danny decides he wants to bring back the big band era he once loved and combine it with the new era of disco and he and Sonny decide to open up a roller disco nightclub that is a combination of not only both Danny and Sonny's generations but of their dreams also a symbol of the love Sonny and Kira are finding within each other. Before the club, named the titular Xanadu, is set to open, Kira reveals to Sonny just why all of this has come about as she finally tells him the truth about herself: she is one of the nine Muses of Ancient Olympus that are said to inspire people to follow their dreams and desires.
The dream that came through a million years / That lived on through all the tears / It came to Xanadu

Having fallen in love with Sonny and breaking the rules of feeling emotions and doing more than what she was sent out to do, Kira is brought back to the home of the gods and on the opening night, Sonny sets out to bring Kira back to Earth because even though Xanadu maybe the reality of his dreams they mean nothing without Kira.

The love, the echoes of long ago / you needed the world to know / They are in Xanadu

Now I've told you the main plot and what the cons of Xanadu are perceived to be but now let me tell you why this movie is awesome in a few very short statements:

1) Olivia Newton-John
2) The Great Gene Kelly
3) An animated segment by Don Bluth of An American Tale fame which is beautiful animation that is not seen today because it is hand drawn and flawlessly enhances the music of the artists in my next point...
4) Electric Light Orchestra provides music to the soundtrack along with Olivia Newton-John, the great Cliff Richards and even The Tubes. The soundtrack is one good thing that everybody has always agreed on and the soundtrack album had many hits and even reached #4 on the Billboard charts.

Maybe because I was a young girl when I first sat down and watched this film with my mother and a child of the 1980s brought up on Day Glo and pastel Care Bears and My Little Ponies to boot is a big reason why I love Xanadu or maybe its because I have grown up and appreciated the music more or learned to appreciate the classic quality of Gene Kelly's dancing in his final movie role (even though he lived to see another great sixteen years). For what ever reason, Xanadu will always be a pleasure to watch and never ever will it be a guilty one.

                                      Where time stops and the magic never ends.
                                                                                                        ~ tagline for Xanadu, 1980

Next blog: Near Dark

Monday, September 5, 2011

V For Vendetta

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot... But what of the man? I know his name was Guy Fawkes and I know, in 1605, he attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But who was he really? What was he like? We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I've witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I've seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them... but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it... ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love... And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man... A man that made me remember the Fifth of November. A man that I will never forget. 

Speaking of remembering...I still remember the first time seeing this movie when it came out to theaters with my friend Chris and his parents. Sitting there and watching this film in the dark it seemed like it went on for more than two hours but not in the way you're thinking. Time didn't drag on because I thought the movie was awful but because I was loving every minute of it!! Though I've never read the graphic novel written by Alan Moore on which the movie is based I'm sure that I would probably enjoy it just as much seeing as how... V For Vendetta is one of my favorite films.

Film Plot: Set in a dystopian United Kingdom under a totalitarian government and a fascist High Chancellor Adam Sutler (a thinly veiled portrayal of Adolph Hitler perhaps?) there is one man who is ready to stand up for the evils done to him and his country. He is the bold and charismatic fighter for freedom, the vigilante behind the mask of Guy Fawkes, the anti-hero and anti-villain rolled into one...he is only known as V.

After being saved by V from an attempted rape by the secret police, working class girl, the beautiful Evey Hammond unwittingly becomes a part of V's world when she helps him escape the television studio where she works to repay him for his earlier deed. While Evey agrees to stand up for what is right, she can't condone V's killing of government officials and escapes from V to the home of her boss but when he is captured by the secret police and Evey is imprisoned and interrogated to finding the whereabouts of V, she refuses to give in and becomes stronger and free to finally help V stand up for freedom but can they convince the rest of Britain to do the same?

Now I could go into the plot a little more or even spoil it for you but V For Vendetta is actually a movie I would recommend seeing or even reading the graphic novel if you haven't read it (or can find it which I haven't been able to do) because it is that good a movie. Natalie Portman is as always a phenomenal actress (even pre-Black Swan and her academy award) and carries the film well but Hugo Weaving as V steals the show even though his face is never seen which goes to show you that acting is a powerful thing and that the best actors never even have to be seen to be great.

No one will ever forget that night and what it meant for this country. But I will never forget the man and what he meant to me.

Next blog: Xanadu

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Okay so yes my second blog is another vampire flick but it's not just's also werewolves. What can I say I enjoy movies that deal with horror and supernatural themes like witches, vampires and werewolves but Underworld is completely different that I can see a presentation for it going something like:

I have an idea for a movie
Okay what is it?
It's vampires vs. werewolves meets Romeo and Juliet...with blood and guns!!

 Film plot: Werewolves are called Lycans and they have been slaves to vampires for centuries but now they are rising above their former masters and are searching for descendant of the Corvinus family that can be turned into both vampire and werewolf to create a hybrid to wipe the vampires out.

I am a Death Dealer, sworn to destroy those known as the Lycans. Our war has waged for centuries, unseen by human eyes. But all that is about to change. 

To keep this from happening, the vampires have their Death Dealers to hunt down the Lycans and they are lead by the icy, beautiful Selene. She has a grudge with the Lycans as they killed her human family and the vampire leader, Viktor, turned her to help end the Lycans and finally get justice for the murder of her family. Her vendetta is tested when she meets the descendant the Lycans have been looking for: Michael Corvin.

Whether you like it or not, you're in the middle of a war that has been raging for the better part of a thousand years. A blood feud between vampires and Lycans. Werewolves

Being bit by the Lycan leader, Lucian, Michael is slowly beginning to change into the one thing Selene has been bred to hate and when she begins to fall in love with him the war between vampires and werewolves is put to the ultimate test when she must be faced with killing him or allowing him to become not just a Lycan but a hybrid of vampire and werewolf that could mean danger to the both of them.

Besides the whole werewolf-vampire plot, I love the Gothic and dark imagery of the film with its stunning visuals and it brings out the pale beauty of the vampires and the rough and tumble look of the Lycans. The second thing I love: Kate Beckinsale. I always thought she was a good actress in her cutesy, romantic roles in Serendipity and Pearl Harbor but in Underworld and even Underworld: Evolution (which I don't enjoy as much as Underworld) Kate Beckinsale proves she has more than just her looks to fall back on. Her role is equally pleasing to both men and women: leather catsuit clad eye candy with a gun and an empowered woman who won't be tied down to a man but will be loyal if given respect...and will kick your ass if you try to pull the wool over her eyes!!

As stated, I have also seen Underworld: Evolution but I did not enjoy it as much except for the fact that Kate Beckinsale is in it as Selene and I have yet to see Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans for I'm afraid I wouldn't like it because Kate Beckinsale isn't in it (which is what always throws me off sequel and prequel films in general if there are unfamiliar characters).

Although... 2012 is just around the corner and a fourth film (right now titled Underworld:Awakening) is coming out with the return of Selene supposedly looking for her and Michael's daughter after being imprisoned by scientists in a world where humans now known about both vampires and werewolves. If that bit of Internet information is correct then I'll be going to the theater to watch Kate Beckinsale kick some ass again and adding another Underworld flick to my collection!!

Differences will be set aside. Allegiances will be made. And soon, I will become the hunted.
Next blog: V For Vendetta

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Queen Of The Damned; Movie/Book Review

Over the course of doing these blogs you will learn that I am a lover of vampires...and Anne Rice vampires are some of my favorites. I started reading Anne Rice when I was 15 with her first novel, Interview With The Vampire, but it was the third book in her Vampire Chronicles that became and still is my favorite: The Queen of The Damned.

 As a book, Queen Of The Damned is a continuation of the last book, The Vampire Lestat, but the film version which came out in 2002 is a combination of the two...more or less. Actually, it is better to view Queen Of The Damned as its own movie based on the next two books instead of a follow up to Interview Of The Vampire film released in 1994. I think this is probably one reason why most people find the movie a failure to the The Vampire Chronicles legacy but let's try to look at it through rose-tinted glasses as a film of its own merit.

Film plot: Leather-clad, sometimes shirtless vampire Lestat De Lioncourt is awakened from centuries of sleep by the sounds of a glam, goth-metal band and then takes it over as their lead singer when it appears he has the vocals of Korn front man Jonathan Davis to bring the band to world-wide success. The band is now called The Vampire Lestat (great use of the second book title in a subtle way but not subtle for Lestat's ego) and in the lyrics of their songs, the secret world of the vampires is being revealed and the other vampires of the world are not happy.

 Do you have anything you want to say to the other vampires listening out there?
  As a matter of fact, I do. Come out, come out, wherever you are. 
 Besides pissing off the vampires of the world, Lestat also happens to get the attention of Jesse Reeves, red-headed researcher for the secret society of paranormal studies known as the Talamasca. She becomes fascinated with Lestat when she learns he is a real vampire and learns his origins and it leads her down the road of being would be love interest/stalker/ groupie of the vampire kind. Too bad for everyone when Lestat's vocals and music become so powerful that they awaken, Akasha, the mother of all vampires known as...The Queen of The Damned. Drawn by the ever rebellious Lestat, Akasha kills her husband, abducts our anti-hero vampire as her new king and plots to kill all of the other vampires of the world and destroy the human race.

With Lestat in danger, Jesse becomes even further involved in the world of vampires, when her aunt, Maharet, and Lestat's maker, Marius, come together with characters I call "Vampires too awesome to garner appropriate screen time as they did in the books" to try and stop Akasha.

This is the movie's basic plot which omits greats amount of back story from the novel, great vampire characters are reduced to cameos and independent Jesse from the book becomes a rather dull school girl with a crush archetype. Although I hate how they change Jesse, I have to admit I would go a little puppy-dog eyed for Stuart Townsend...and his portrayal as Lestat any day. If I'm going to watch a movie with vampires, I could find better ones I admit but there is something about Queen of The Damned that just keeps bringing me back to watch and enjoy it every time.

 Despite all of the cons of rushed scripting, changing some characters and omitting others one pro I will stand behind is that I love Aaliyah as Akasha. Even though she was known more for her phenomenal music career and her role in this film was greatly diminished from the Akasha in the novel due to the writing of the script, every minute that Aaliyah is on screen you can't help but watch her and it is clear that if she had not been taken from us sooner, Aaliyah could have been another great singer/actress superstar like Jennifer Lopez.

Final Words: If you like movies made from a book, the book will always be better but if you want a movie with an awesome soundtrack, Queen of The Damned is a great flick to watch. If you haven't seen this movie, I recommend giving it a shot...but I recommend that you if you would rather read the book, do it after watching the movie and then go get the other Vampire Chronicle novels by Anne Rice and be amazed by how much better you feel that you actually read a book instead of vegging out in front of the television for once!!

Next blog: Underworld

Friday, September 2, 2011 introduction

It seems everyone has a blog and I've had a few but they never seemed to work out so now let's see how this turns out.

I happen to have a very large collection of movies - horror, romance, animation, sci fi. I also happen to have every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on DVD and I am in the process of collecting its spinoff Angel as well on DVD. My other favorite TV show that is almost a completed DVD collection is Tales From The Crypt.

 Why all of this information you ask? These will be the subjects of my blogs to come. I am going to review most of the films in my collection and even review a few episodes of my three favorite shows of all-time. Just to be warned...I will be spoiling the plots and my constant jumping from one genre to another may give you whiplash.

 So come back and join me soon for my first blog review!!