My movie page is coming along now. If you weren't around way-back-when to know it, this page got accidently deleted (let's not name names) and it's taken me a while to put a few things back up. I'm not a big movie-watching person, so it takes me a while to get around to new material. Unlike my book reviews; I read so many books that I can't keep up with the review writing. My life seems to be compromised of many such no-win situations.
Oh, and I've begun to notice a trend in my movie reviews-- they're all really negative. I just cut away with a tongue as sharp as a Ginsu knife. I've turned into quite the critic. I do a fair amount of bashing with my book reviews, but I do have at least some glowing praise for a few well-deserving authors. Here, there's none, and none available in the foreseeable future. It's not that I'm writing negative reviews just for the entertainment value (though Lord knows they're that), but, honestly, I haven't found a vampire movie yet that I love wholeheartedly.
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Bram Stoker's Dracula
I never have managed to make to make it all the way through this movie. Somehow I spontaneously get a stomachache every time I sit down to watch it. I think it is probably the most removed from Stoker's novel of all the Dracula movies. Everything but the names were changed to protect box office sales.
Despite the fact that I've only caught glimpses of this movie, I think I have material enough to adequately bash it. If John Carpenter's Vampires is a gore-fest to titillate the 12-15 year old male market, then this movie is its parallel– created expressly for sex-starved, "Harlequin Romance" reading housewives. I will certainly concede that vampire movies are supposed to be sexy, but this is so over the top that it qualifies as soft core porn. This movie takes Count Dracula and beats the audience over the head with him saying, "This vampire is sexy!" Well, duh. All vampires are sexy– that's what they do. A modern definition of a vampire almost certainly includes the words "sex appeal." The director, however, assumes that his audience is too ignorant to get subtle eroticism, so every scene is double-coated in sex. Lucy's character is the most obvious example of this.
This brings me to the characters– of, rather, the actors. Each actor in this movie is, outside this movie, a fine actor. But here, they are all horribly cast, and as a result, they act horribly. Since I've already mentioned Lucy– and she's the one I detest the most– she'll be the first to go to the noose. I don't know this actress from anything else, but I hope she didn't act as badly in another movie as she has here. In Stoker's book, Lucy is a sweet girl, whom we are to feel great sorrow for when she dies. Here she is portrayed as a shallow, nymphomaniac tramp. If they hadn't staked her, I would have gladly done it myself just to get rid of her! (By the way, has anyone figured out how a supposedly proper English Victorian lady managed to have so many red corsets and see-through dresses?)
Next up for the gallows is Keanu Reeves. I like him in Speed, but in this movie he has this half-witted, glazed look in this eyes that is infuriating. I expect him to burst out with a "duuude" at any moment. Winnona Rider is ill-fitted for her role as well. She looks as if she's 13 and her voice overs are horrible, as is her English accent. I'm sure there's something else about her that I don't like, but that's all I can think of at the moment. But trust me, there's more there.
Next to get it is Cary Elwes. I hate to do it to him, as he was a good son-of-a-bitch in Twister and is a personal favorite of mine from The Princess Bride, but he beyond sucks as Lord Godalming. He appears to have caught Keanu's blank surfer stare and he has all the lordly class of a beer-gutted auto mechanic.
I suppose Gary Oldman is an okay vampire; he does actually act and have some life in his eye as he plays the several different physical incarnations of Count Dracula. But, personally, I found him much more sexy as a Russian terrorist in Air Force One. Mmm, Russian accent, hard-nose Communist politics and the ability to unflinchingly kill anyone around, including defenseless women. Who wouldn't get turned on by that? It's just what you're looking for in a vampire– the power, the fear, the exoticness. That certainly does it for me a lot more than those stupid blue glasses. By the way, did they even have such a thing in the Victorian Era? And if so, what on earth were they used for? They look out of place and utterly ridiculous on Gary Oldman, and especially on a vampire.
So, to sum up, this movie bites rump roast. You're like to see better acting in the new Brittany Spears movie. I give it one star because, for one, I don't have a lower ranking (though I am serious considering extending the scale to 0), and two, the music and costuming people deserve some credit. The opening track of this movie kicks ass (but then, I'm a big fan of big, dark pieces, like "Night on Bald Mountain"). It also has some good spooky music scattered throughout and Annie Lennox– whom I like– does the title song, "Love Song for a Vampire," which is also pretty good. And I will conceded that I do love Rider's dresses and hats– though costuming really screwed up with that weird, pseudo-musculature red armor for Dracula in the opening scene.
Fright Night I'm not going to officially rate this movie because I only saw bits and pieces of it as I flipped though the channels. I just wasn't in the mood to watch an 80's movie. You have to be in a certain frame of mind to watch something that features big hair, bangle bracelets and heavy make-up– and this movie reeked of it. I just wasn't up to it.
The reason why I've mentioned it, however, is because it has the best vampire death scene that I have ever seen. If nothing else, watch that scene to see some really kick-ass special effects. It's even more amazing given the time period (they didn't have computer graphics to help them out) and the fact that it doesn't look like a big-budget film. It did star Roddy McDowell and Christopher Sarandon, so I know it wasn't completely a "B" movie.
P.S. If you do watch the movie all the way through, be forewarned that Christopher Sarandon plays the vampire who has a thing for girls too young for him. He's a 30-something dirty dancing with a 15-year-old. Now, there are some men that can do no wrong, regardless of an age gap (Mel Gibson springs to mind), but Sarandon is creepy with his doe-eyed young love interest. But then, I think Sarandon's pretty creepy all the time.
John Carpenter's Vampires
So much to bash, so little time. Where shall I begin? I'll come right out and say I did not like this movie. I had been misinformed that it was good and gory. While adequately gory for a vampire movie, it certainly was not good. Can we say unoriginal, rehashed vampire tripe? Boringly predictable? Fit only for gore-addicted, violence-loving 12 year-old boys?
Number one, the Vampire hunter (Crow) has the same tired, old excuse that every vampire hunter has for killing vampires—his family got axed by one. Well, actually, his father was turned, then he killed his wife (Crow's mother) and then Crow had to kill him. Boo-hoo. Two, the vampire hunters are rebels without a cause; they're so hard-as-nails tough that they can beat up defenceless hookers and unarmed priests without worry. Nothing like smacking around a woman and a man of the cloth to show how macho you are. Three, overkill. Crow stakes, decapitates and burns the vampire victims and then buries the heads more than a mile away. Um, I think just burning will suffice; everything else is just added gore, set to thrill those 12 year-olds that watch R-rated movies on the sly. And speaking of decapitation, is it a rule somewhere that all decapitees die with their eyes open and mouth gaping? Haven't I read that in the French Revolution people's eyes closed after death? And I would think that when a head hits the floor at least the mouth would get knocked shut.
Let's not forget directing too. I like my visual clues to be subliminal and so subtle that I don't notice them the first time around or without a film major pointing them out. Yet the first thing I notice in the movie is that the sunlight is always blood-red. How obvious. And here's another—doors and windows and other things are done in a gothic style. Though this is nicely reminiscent of Dracula and all, it's terribly out of place in the Spanish architecture of the southwest.
Technical points: the vampires' teeth, while retractable, are too long to allow their mouths to close. Again, overdone. Two, the movie's original vampire was supposedly created in France in 1300 something. See my thesis—I estimate the conception of the vampire myth not to be until around 1400 and only then in Eastern Europe. There was no concept of vampires in France in the 1300's, so where did this one come from? You'd think if he started in France everyone in France would have a vampire myth. Can't we make our vampires mytho-historically accurate? And something else I just thought of; I didn't notice a French accent on him. Tsk-tsk; character flaw. And there is-- for me-- a major plot hole in the fact that crosses and holy items/ground do not stop a vampire, yet there is no explanation for why they don't. Nor is any explanation given for why the other methods do work.
However, the biggest flaw with the movie was that the vampires were not enviable. They didn't have many displays of power nor any sex appeal—nothing in the least worthy of our admiration. Vampires only work when we like them for who they are—and subsequently who we're not. The writer obviously didn't understand this, so we're left with sucky-ass vampires and overdone cowboys for vampire hunters. No redemption. At least we could sympathize with Blade as a hunter. But then the vampires in that movie weren't bad either. They at least had some level of power, intelligence, wealth and sex appeal. The vampires in this movie live in condemned houses or just out in the ground. Poor buggers don't even have a proper tomb to sleep in. Why would anyone want to be a vampire if you had to live like that?
Let me wrap up with my final attack. The makeup for the master vampire was horrible! Just white foundation applied only to the face (what did your mother tell you about blending it into the hairline and down onto the neck?) with pink raccoon eyes. It looked like he left his sunglasses on while he got an anti-tan. Not to mention the badly drawn red arteries on his face. Hello, veins in the face are blue, for one, and number two they all seemed to bleed black, so wouldn't the veins also be black?
The one glimmer of originality in the whole waste of tape (and £2.75!) was the origin myth of the master vampire—even if it was set in the wrong country at the wrong time. Seems he was an exorcism gone wrong back in the middle ages. His life mission is to find the cross used in his exorcism and complete the ritual to give him complete power—most notably the ability to walk in sunlight. Now that you know that, there's no other reason to watch it—unless you're a 12 year-old boy.
City, ©Date The above picture was taken by myself. St. Mary's Cathedral dates from the 19th century and is still in use today. Kilkenny City, County Kilkenny, Ireland. © June 2001.
Dictionary/Terms | Step 1, The History of Eastern Europe | Step 2, Pre-Vampire Entities | Step 3, Vampire Creation Myths | Step 4, How Vampires Are Made | Step 5, Vampire Folklore | Step 6, "Living" Vampires | Step 7, Medical Information | Step 8, Vampire Names | Step 9, Vampires in Modern Culture | Step 10A, Vampire Book Reviews | Step 10B, Vampire Movie Reviews | Essays | The End | Home