The Gruesome Thrills of Dracul

Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the first “adult” book I remember reading as a child, and being all about horror as a lad and having already been exposed to the Bela Lugosi and Hammer film classics, I was positively obsessed with the book…so much so that years later as a senior in high school I took a mythology and folklore class where Stoker’s tale was the primary topic for a full semester and we dissected the book journal entry by journal entry, line for line.

I always imagined a bold modern update…in the 80’s and 90’s the story would’ve been told through television news clips, emergency room visit logs, and frantic 911 calls.  Today, it would be told through tweets and vlogs.

Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker however, imagined something quite different, driving a stake through the heart of the 1897 classic further back into its origins and Bram Stoker’s childhood and young adulthood where the mysterious fate of his beloved nanny, Ellen Crone, becomes intertwined with that of his siblings and an evil force even more fantastic than what ended up on Bram Stoker’s pages.  The result is a fun, gruesome thrill-ride complete with the tearing apart and re-assembling of a man, among other supernatural horrors. Continue reading

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The Pros and Cons of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Abe Lincoln has an axe to grind with you!

I am disheartened to report, ladies and gentlemen, that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (the film based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel) is a most spurious piece of anti-Vampire-American propaganda that tarnishes their good name and celebrates their horrific and callous mass destruction!  The litany of crimes attributed to Vampire-Americans is legion.  Would you believe the following?

The reason slavery flourished in the American South?  Vampires!

The reason a young Abraham Lincoln got into politics?  Vampires!

The main cause of the Civil War?  Vampires!

The reason poor Willie Lincoln became ill and died in childhood?  Vampires!

The source of Mary Todd Lincoln’s depression and madness?  Vampires!

But seriously…to all of those crying foul over this preposterously premised film not containing a single note of humor…well, you obviously missed the joke.  I applaud the filmmakers’ absolute conviction in presenting the material dead seriously.  Taking a Zombieland approach wouldn’t have worked and would’ve made the film even more painful to sit through.

What are fair game, however, are the film’s obvious flaws such as the clamoring sound design that rendered some dialogue incomprehensible coupled with some of the most hacksawed editing this side of a Michael Bay film where scenes or spoken lines were often cut off mid-thought only to race to another scene before the viewer could even digest what happened.  Continue reading

A Review of David Slade’s “30 Days of Night”

Best Vampire Movie in Over a Decade, 23 October 2007
8/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

As night begins to fall for a thirty day spell over a small Alaskan outpost village, a motley crew of vampires comes waltzing in for a feast in David Slade’s adaptation of the graphic novel, “30 Days of Night.” Ever since “Interview with the Vampire” vampires have been depicted in films as something hip, cool, and sexy. Recently the idea of becoming a vampire is like making a fashion statement or becoming a Scientologist. In “30 Days of Night” the vampires are nameless, cunning, animal-like bloodsuckers and far from mindless zombies (which have been more popular of late). Finally, vampires are restored to film as monsters to be feared and not as some sympathetic and alluring subculture.

 

The film grabs you from its opening shot of a man walking through a desolate snow covered landscape away from an ominous boat docked in the ice and never lets go. Director Slade wisely avoids many of the seizure-inducing trappings of recent horror films. Sure, there are the prerequisite quick-cuts in the intimate scenes of carnage, but there are also haunting wide-angled shots and one expertly staged bird’s-eye-view crane shot when the vampires first begin dragging people out of their houses into the street. While successfully adapting some of the great imagery from the graphic novel, Slade is fully aware that this is still a film and shies away from CGI and overly-stylized lighting and effects that would detract from the sense of realism necessary in a far-fetched horror film such as this.

Slade also makes good use of his cast. Danny Huston is perfectly creepy as the vampires’ leader. Josh Hartnett, who is typically miscast and emotionless, actually fits well the role of a wooden Sheriff of a remote Alaskan town. Ben Foster, who always overacts, is used effectively here in a bit role as an over-the-top Reinfield-like character who ushers the vampires’ arrival in town. Melissa George is pretty and sympathetic as Hartnett’s estranged wife. Like many serious horror films of recent memory (“Dawn of the Dead” or “The Descent”) the film attempts some character development that is often “emo” but never overplays its hand.

Aside from being better directed and better acted than your run-of-the-mill horror flick, “30 Days of Night” is also fantastically gory. Decaptation aficionados will especially rejoice. Refreshing, too, is the way it takes its gore and action dead seriously. There are no silly one-liners or graphic sight gags. The characters are deeply affected by what they witness and what they have to do to survive. This is pure horror, and it’s relentless.

Yes, there are some missteps with the film’s pacing and some huge leaps of logic in the amount of time that passes between events. However, for the shear originality of its central conceit, the intensity of the gore, and the haunting quality of many of its signature shots, David Slade’s “30 Days of Night” is the most exhilarating horror film since Danny Boyle’s original “28 Days Later” and the best vampire film since Francis Ford Coppola delivered “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” back in 1992.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database:

http://imdb.com/title/tt0389722/usercomments-107