Tag Archives: Dracula

Movie Review: Dracula Untold (4 *’s) (2014)

Dracula Untold is the latest vampire story to hit the theatres. It purports to be the origin story of the most famous vampire of all time: Count Dracula (but not a real life account of Vlad Tepes, obviously). As such, it returns the traditional notion of a vampire: a potent force of darkness and slayer of men. The title role is played by Luke Evans, the guy who plays Bard in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. There are a number of other actors, of course, but I didn’t recognize any of them.

 

The story begins with a brief recap of the young Vlad Tepes’ early life. He was given, along with nine-hundred ninety-nine fellow children, as tribute to the Turkish caliphate. Here he was raised and trained as a ruthless warrior, a profession at which he excelled. Fast forward to the later years of Vlad’s life. The central conflict of the story is between the fully human Count Dracula, that is, Vlad Tepes and the ruler of the Turkish caliphate, Mehmed. Vlad and Mehmed were once the best of friends. Now, as caliph, Mehmed demands tribute. Vlad is happy to comply when such is just money. But, Mehmed is not satisfied with simple wealth. He wants a thousand young boys to train to replenish his army, one of them being Vlad’s own son, Ingeras. That goes too far and Vlad rebels. In desperation he seeks out the aid of an unholy vampire, but such aid may come at the cost of his soul.

 

Strengths: the plot held together well, the acting was fine, and the special effects were well-placed and perfectly respectable. The count’s desperation was well-exemplified and well portrayed. And although there was romance in the film, it was not of the cheesy Twilight variety. Vlad’s vampire nature did not make him more romantic; the romance was beset with tragedy. Vlad’s vampire nature was not regarded as a blessing or in any way positive. Weaknesses: I would almost call the fight between Vlad and Mehmed at the end a weakness. Vlad, as a vampire, should have ripped right through Mehmed. But the movie made clear that the silver present weakened Vlad, so the climactic fight could be, in fact, a struggle. I can’t think of any other true or pseudo weaknesses at all. I liked this film.

 

I’ll give Dracula Untolda grand total of four stars out of five.

Old Movie Review: Dracula Reborn (2012)

Dracula Rebornis one of the many movies made for DVD to cash in on the recent vampire fad. Unlike the likes of Twilight and similar such films, it is, as the name suggests, a return to the original sinister vampire of medieval lore. From the get-go it is pretty obviously a grade-B movie. I’ve never heard of any of the actors, directors, or anyone else associated with the film. The plot … well, it isn’t a precise retelling of the original Dracula tale; instead it takes the skeleton of the original tale and fits it to a modern-setting to mold it. Many of the characters from the original book are there, filling similar roles as they did in that excellent story, only transformed into a modern depiction.

 

The story begins with a woman in an empty parking lot, being stalked by a mysterious entity. There are a number brief shots of Dracula crossing the camera for suspense. Then, the woman is taken. Dun dun dun. From there, the story tries to follow, at least for a while, some elements from the original tale. Jonathan Harker, a real estate agent, meets a mysterious stranger on the premises of a large building that the stranger is interested in purchasing. Of course, the meeting takes place only at night, and, of course, the stranger (Vladimir Sarkany a.k.a. Dracula) has brought along an escort (Renfield). Harker shows much of the property without incident until a group of gang members show up, threaten the three “men,” then leave after Sarkany stares at them a bit. Later, they (the gang members) return to do Sarkany in, and he basically mops the floor with them. Not easy to kill Dracula unless you are prepared. From there the story evolves like many other traditional vampire tales. Harker’s wife, Lina, is bitten and the vampire must be destroyed to save her. Harker calls on the help of a certain vampire expert he meets through the boyfriend of another victim of the vampire (Lucy, if I recall). This expert, of course, is named Van Helsing, although he is a young, vibrant man, unlike the elderly, respected scientist of the original tale. They set out to destroy Dracula. Will they succeed? Or will they perish in the attempt?

 

Strengths: like I said, this was a grade-B movie. That said, I thought most of the acting was fine. The special effects were decent given the likely budget, and the plot made a single, logical hole. Most importantly, the tale was intriguing enough to keep me interested. Weaknesses: there was nothing spectacular about this film. It was, although interesting, pretty much standard hunt down the undead without being killed type of stuff. It was really a kind of modern homage to the original tale. As such, it does deserve some credit. My biggest problem with the film was one that is common in most vampire films: they make the vampire look like a hideous monster when it attacks. I remember once had a conversation with a friend a number of years ago and we both agreed that the true horror of a vampire is a subtle one that comes from its virtual undetectability. It is almost entirely human in appearance, and that makes its evil all the more disturbing. My other issue is a minor one. A cross wouldn’t work on this Dracula, because as Van Helsing queries in response to Harker’s query, “What denomination?” The more I think about this, the more of a failing it is. Part of the horror of a vampire is that it is a quasi-demonic creature, literally a minion of hell. And religious symbols don’t work? To me, if you are hung up on denominations, you have at least two options. You can go the “one true religion” route, which would probably be unpopular, or you could simply say, whereas there are multiple religions, there is but one God, and He won’t be particularly picky who He’s going to defend from the powers of darkness. All that is required is a faithful reliance on His power. The particular symbol, as long as it religious in nature, doesn’t matter.

 

Anyway, I’ll give Dracula Reborn three stars out of five.

Horror Literature versus Fantasy Literature

I’ve been on something of a horror literature kick lately. Well, to be more specific, I’ve been on something of a H.P. Lovecraft kick lately. I have an entire book of his short stories, including two novellas. The book is simply called: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death. At this moment, I have but one more short story to read, and then I’ll be done. Of course, I’m going to go back and reread some of the short stories and review them for this blog; I’ve already started that process, but I’m going to complete it. Anyway, for much of my life, the bulk of my literary diet has been fantasy. One of the first series of books I ever read were The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Prior to that, I think was Watership Down which I think I read for the first time when I was about eight. I’ve been reading ever since. And most of it has been fantasy.

 

As a result of my fantasy diet, I’ve been exposed to all sorts of horrors in literature: undead warriors, dark magic, death, chaos, blood … you name it. I’ve seen it all. Because of that, special effects don’t faze me one bit. A witch casting a spell … is that supposed to frighten me? Come on! I’ve seen it a million times before. The first time I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I read it as a fantasy novel. I thought it was okay, but pretty tame by modern standards. Last year, I read it again for about the fifth time and I walked away knowing I had just read a masterpiece. You can read that review here. I don’t get frightened by horror stories (I’ve read too much fantasy for that), but I do appreciate them more, now—as my review of Dracula will attest to. Fantasy stories are full of adventure and action. As a result of such, sometimes horrible things happen, or at the very least, are expected to happen should the hero fail. The horror of such events is usually derivative of the events themselves. In a horror story, the horror is more ambient and all-pervading. There is an appropriate mood and tone that carries the sinister appeal of the story. There is also a greater probability of death on the hero’s part in a horror story. And if done well, that can be a plus.

 

It is worth pointing out, that by horror I mean horror literature not film. Rarely does a horror film live up to something even approaching the magnificence of the novel, Dracula. Most of the time, horror movies are just blood baths. I wouldn’t even want to put them in the same category. Then again, my experience with horror is fairly limited. I’ve read Dracula and a few Lovecraft stories; but I liked the same thing about both: that ever-present atmosphere of dread and doom. And that, I think, is the distinguishing feature that separates Horror from Fantasy.

BBT Drasmyr Banner

Announcement: Upcoming Blurb Blitz Blog Tour for Drasmyr

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting on 6/17/13 and running through 7/19/13. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. The blog tour schedule is currently under construction. As of this writing, we’ve filled fifteen slots of the twenty available. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

Announcement: Blurb Blitz Blog Tour for Drasmyr

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting on 6/17/13 and running through 7/19/13. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. The blog tour schedule is currently under construction. As of this writing, we’ve filled fifteen slots of the twenty available. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

Announcement: Upcoming Blurb Blitz Blog Tour

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting on 6/17/13 and running through 7/19/13. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. The blog tour schedule is currently under construction. As of this writing, we’ve filled fifteen slots of the twenty available. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

BBT Drasmyr Banner

Announcement: Upcoming Blurb Blitz Blog Tour

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting on 6/17/13 and running through 7/19/13. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. The blog tour schedule is currently under construction. As of this writing, we’ve filled thirteen slots of the twenty available. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

Announcement: Upcoming Blog Tour

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting in late June and running through mid-July or so. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Immortality

Another post on vampires? Actually, today, I’m taking a little detour. I’m not going to write about vampires so much as one of the defining characteristics of them: immortality. A vampire, whether it is Dracula, Lestat, or Lucian val Drasmyr, is generally considered immortal provided he or she is not slain by some pesky human or the victim of some other fatal twist of fate. With that in mind, I want to examine immortality. Why is it so appealing? Or, better yet, is it really appealing?

 

Clearly, at some visceral level, immortality is appealing. That’s usually one of the temptations to become a vampire (“Become as I. Strong. Immortal …). Writer’s wouldn’t use immortality as bait for us poor mortal humans unless some part of us pined to last forever. I think this is largely a result of the natural fear of death. Even if you are religious and believe in an afterlife with sunshine and flower-filled fields of leisure, you certainly don’t know it will be as you think. No one does. And because of that, there is always a threat of total annihilation as one contemplates one’s future death. The fix for such is, of course, to not die. And obtaining immortality somehow—be it through a vampire’s bite, or what-have-you—is a way to avoid death. Immortality, then, is a balm for the human condition. We fear death. We seek to avoid it. And so we set up elaborate fancies in which we imagine we will never die.

 

But is immortality all it’s cracked up to be? First, what are the positives? For me, I like to learn. I could learn advanced physics, and math, and a bundle of other disciplines that have always intrigued me. Curious about the nature of Infinity? You’ll have ample time to read up on the subject. Quantum Mechanics? All in due time. Intellectually, it would be great for the first few centuries or so. Then, I suspect, boredom would sink in. How much can you learn, how much can you know, before it all just devolves into meaningless drivel? I’m forty years old and some days I’m already tired of life; I can’t imagine what it would be like when I’m 4000. Yikes!

 

Worse, still, is the question of company. Would being the only immortal on the planet be worth it? If all the people you knew and cared about died, would it be worth it? I’d say no. That would be depressing in the extreme. Talk about loneliness. Soon you would become an introvert simply for your sanity: it would be too painful to befriend somebody, just to watch them die a few years down the road.

 

Finally, the last negative of immortality concerns the afterlife. If there really is one, and it really is quite nice, then becoming immortal would deny you such an experience. And that would hardly be good.

Age of the Vampire: The Sweet Spot

As most of my readers know, I’ve written a dark fantasy novel about a vampire entitled “Drasmyr.” Talk of vampires almost always engenders talk of immortality, because that’s usually considered one of the advantages of being a vampire: they don’t die of old age. In my novel, the vampire is one thousand years old. I’ve read/seen other works where the vampire in question is 6000 or 10,000 years old or what-have-you. Generally, the age seems to be limited to several thousand years. I’ve never seen anything about a 5 million year old vampire or anything like that. But why not? There is no physical reason why a vampire could not be that old, if vampires are gifted with immortality.

 

I suppose one reason is that human civilization—or the historical record of such—only goes back several thousand years. Vampires are usually associated with civilized man. They are a tale of terror for those who huddle together on the edges of the night, thinking they are safe in their home, surrounded by others similarly secure. As vampires can appear human, though, this security is an illusion; a vampire can infiltrate a city or village and strike with ruthless savagery.

Likewise, according to most traditions vampires come from humans; they are the result of a human being bitten by a vampire, dying, and transforming into a creature of the night. In order for this to happen, there need to be humans around who can be bit. It makes no sense to have a vampire that’s been around since the dinosaurs, because there were no humans around at that time.

 

Basically, I think 1000 to 10,000 years is the sweet spot for a vampire’s age (Dracula, of course, was only 400 years old—he’s outside the sweet spot, but he’s cool anyway).  This gives them a good sense of timelessness, basically dwarfing a human’s lifespan without being too ridiculous about it. There is still that sense of a connection between themselves and their prey, for once, a long, long time ago, they were human themselves.

 

Anything above 10,000 years, in my opinion, is just excessive and runs the risk of starting a bidding war on vampire ages. My vampire is 20,000 years old. My vampire is 50,000. Oh yeah, mine is 300,000,000. Hmmph… 5 Billion. Two Trillion… at which point we have vampires older than the universe. In the end, age is just a number for one of the undead; what really makes them cool is the powers they wield and their respective personalities.