Tag Archives: Vampire

Review of Dracula (1992)

29 Jul

Dracula also known as Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) is a fantasy/horror/drama film, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (Dementia 13 (1963), The Godfather (1972)).

Written by James V. Hart (Hook (1991), Muppet Treasure Island (1996)).

Starring: Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Waits, Monica Bellucci, Cary Elwes, Richard E. Grant and others.

I won’t dwelve much into plot details, because if you don’t know what happens in Dracula by now, you probably don’t care to find out anyway. Coppola decided to do a little more faithful adaptation of the novel and called it Bram Stoker’s Dracula, however, how its faithfulness is debatable.

Right from the start and throughout the movie we get some amazing visuals, which are even more impressive because they’re all practical. The movie also has this otherworldly, dreamlike quality.

One interesting thing is that we are provided with more insight into Dracula’s character than in the novel, and he now is less of a villain and just a tragic figure, he is basically an anti-hero and way more likable than the protagonist.  We first are introduced to Dracula in a very bad state, he looks old, frail and has an absurd looking wig/hairstyle. Gary Oldman is great casting for the role, but then again, when is he not a great casting choice.

Then, when Dracula gets to London, he starts looking as a young man again and for some reason he walks around the city in daylight. In the novel Dracula was mentioned being able to turn into a wolf, but even though it looked cool, they went overboard here and made him turn into a fucking werewolf, nice effects, but still.

I don’t hate him, but I wonder why some filmmakers cast Keanu Reeves in serious dramatic roles, it’s clear he has a very limited range, he can play a certain type, but it is definitely not Jonathan Harker, the horribly stilted accent he’s doing doesn’t help either.

Jonathan Harker is an odd character, because in all adaptations, that have him arrive at Dracula’s castle, he is very oblivious about all the strange things going on around him. Here they do that as well, but it is sort of explained. He notices all the weird shit, but is just too polite to say anything and after all, Count Dracula is an important client, but still, he should be more creeped out, especially in homoerotic scenes, like one, where Dracula is shaving him.

Winona Ryder is another odd casting choice. I like her just fine, but she doesn’t make any sense as Mina Murray. There’s also Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, which is a good, yet uninspired choice. I wish he had been in Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein, then he would have been in all the modern versions of Universal Horror’s „big three”.

I wouldn’t call this a horror movie though, it’s more of a psychological thriller, exploring the themes of sexuality. And it’s very unbalanced overall. It is the most interesting portrayal of Dracula, yet the least interesting of all the other characters. It is a very well-made and cool looking movie, but not very involving and after a while becomes even slightly dull. Coppola seems to pay great attention to details, yet lose the sight of the picture as a whole.

Also I think of Dracula as a very hard novel to adapt, because of its unconventional format. It consists of letters, diary entries and telegrams, which makes the narrative subjective and constantly changing perspectives, when you apply conventional movie structure to something like that, it tends to fall apart.

Overall, it’s not a great movie, but probably the best adaptation of the novel. I felt it was, in a way, style over substance type of deal, which is weird, since the movie is very much about the characters and romance. I don’t know, I have mixed feelings, but still – recommended.

“I know what you’re thinking “how does he look so cool, without seeing himself in the mirror?”, well let’s just say I have a lot of paintings of myself at home.”

Review of The Last Man On Earth (1964)

29 Dec

The Last Man On Earth (1964) is an Italian sci-fi/thriller/horror film, based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend. Yes, it was also adapted as The Omega Man (1971), I Am Legend (2007) and I Am Omega (2007).

Directed by the Italian director Ubaldo Ragona (Una vergine per un bastardo (1966), Baldoria nei Caraibi (1961)).

Written by William F. Leicester (The High Chaparral (1967 TV), Bonanza (1959 TV)), some work was done by Matheson himself, but because he wasn’t satisfied with the results, so he was credited as Logan Swanson.

Starring: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart and others.

Richard Matheson’s novel has been brought to the screen more than enough times, and as far as I can tell we can stop expecting a film that would do it justice. All the adaptations work best at the beginning where it follows the heroes while they have (a quote from this film) “Another day to live through. Better get started.”, but start falling apart when they try to do something different.

However, this could be considered the closest adaptation and maybe for that reason it is also my favourite one.

It used to not be uncommon for Italians to make horror movies for American market and this is one of those Italian-produced “cheap” horror flicks in English. And it kind of suffers from this aspect. It isn’t a conventional 60’s horror b-movie, so the opening credits in spooky fonts and over-the-top dramatic score add unnecessary cheesiness to an otherwise pretty subtle movie. It has a certain mood, that is just perfect but then, when it gets interrupted by the inappropriate score I got pretty pissed off. It does improve later on, but mostly because the film becomes more dramatic.

Some subtle music cues and even total silence would be much better suited for the post-apocalyptic feel. At one point Vincent Price puts on an LP and that serves as a lot better soundtrack.

I don’t know what happened there, but there are some montages of Price killing vampires by hammering stakes into their chests, but it shows it from a low angle so you only see him hammering away in what seems like totally random directions.

Vincent Price isn’t bad as Neville, but is miscast and I guess was cast mostly because of his horror-cred. He’s a good actor, but has this vibe about him that is just too elegant and not enough everyman-like. Franca Bettoia is ok, is it just me or does she look a lot like Jenna Elfman?

The “vampires” are portrayed pretty accurately as they are basically a bit more intelligent zombies, I suppose the term just wasn’t that well-known when the book was written.

It’s amusing how Neville’s home video looks like a 50’s TV show, when it is shown being shot with a Super 8 camera.

Overall  a good movie, best I Am Legend adaptation yet and totally recommended.

"I'm here to kill vampires and grow pencil moustaches. And my moustache is fully grown."

Review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)

25 Nov

Could have gone a bit easier on the airbrushing.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011) is a romance/fantasy/drama film and is the latest entry in the Twilight franchise, based on the novels by Stephenie Meyer.

Directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls (2006), Kinsey (2004)), who has won an Oscar for best writing for Gods and Monsters (1998).

Written by Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up (2006), Dexter (2006 TV)), who has also written all the previous Twilight movies.

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and others.

Since I am not a 15-year-old girl or a 40-year-old house-wife, I’m neither the target audience or a fan of the series. But as each movie got more blatantly stupid, they also got more entertaining, so I naively thought I actually might have fun watching this, in a “so bad it’s good” way. Sadly, it just got the “so bad” part right. Although at times it was really hilarious, for example, when Bella says she wants to name her daughter Renesemee. Really? You’re gonna go with that?

I don’t ever remember myself being more bored in a movie theatre. The movie achieved almost amazingly slow pace, kept me yawning constantly and to entertain myself, I often danced in my seat. To an orchestral score. At times I felt really depressed and wondered how they didn’t realize, they’ve made this concentrated mixture of over-the-top melodramatism and absolute boredom.

The acting is not good. There’s nobody that feels like a real person. Booboo (what kind of name is that?) Stewart is so incredibly bad. His character is written like he’s 10 and he delivers the lines likewise. Robert Pattinson is as always, looking like he’s in some slightly uncomfortable pain, but trying to hide it. Taylor Lautner is as usually stumbling around as a caveman, varying between his two emotions – “I’m strong and angry (like Hulk)” and… well, no, he has no other emotions. Kristen Stewart most of the movie does a “It’s ok, I’m fine, guys” routine and from time to time cries, letting the special effects department do most of her acting with CG body shrinking and some make-up shadows on her blank face.

The character Jacob is just fascinating to me. The first scene of the movie is one where it takes barely 5 seconds for him to remove his shirt and reveal his physique. I still don’t understand, why he’s the most muscular of all the “werewolves”? And why does he only take off his shirt and let the short pants get shredded to pieces? Does he pick up the shirts afterwards and go around, while Donald Ducking? And what do the fans see in this character? He’s rude, constantly angry, lives in a wooden cabin with a bunch of mexicans, who act like college frat-boys, skilled only as an auto mechanic, thinks that he is better than this other guy, Edward, who is protective, nice, doesn’t look like he’s on steroids, lives in a nice house, is smart and well-mannered, but is a vampire, which obviously is so much worse than turning into a huge wolf. And he wonders why Bella didn’t choose him, get over it!

There is basically no action in the movie. 80 minutes in,  I was so desperate, that a scene where Jacob kicks a motorbike across a driveway seemed cool now and, of course, the naive me thought that now the action will start, but what I got next was a cartoon, where a bunch of incredibly awful looking CG wolves got together and talked. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. On the other hand, the scene was so unintentionally hilarious, I loved every second of it. After that it goes back to the sluggish drama. Then there is another action scene at the end, but since all the wolves look the same and the vampires are so fast, that all you see is a blur, it becomes an unsatisfying mess.

This anti-feminist movie also keeps pushing the same old shit into my face, as if I’m supposed to care, that this indecisive little bitch, Bella is not having as much fun as she had expected from her rich and handsome boyfriend, who is concerned that he might be fucking Bella too hard. Even though, Bella likes it a bit rough. As we all know, every girl’s dream is to wake up in a bed that is demolished from the amazing sex she’s had. Women like to preach that they never watch porn, but it seems like this isn’t that far from that, just less graphic and more like food for imagination. And then, when it has to abandon the whole “no sex before marriage” thing, it goes into an idiotic pro-life message.

After the credits you see that vampire council again and I really want to know if in the books they’re written just as gay as they seem in the movie? The biggest reason, why I despise this franchise is because they just keep destroying the vampire mythos and all these young people who have never seen any cool vampires will think of them as these lame, sparkling weirdos. That cannot be forgiven.

I could keep pointing out other details, but I’ve been rambling on for too long here, so I guess I’ll leave that for next year.

I don’t recommend it to anyone, although if you watch this at home you can riff on it pretty easily and have fun. Definitely the worst of the series. I died a little inside, while watching it. Seriously, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

Bella just kept wishing they would play more chess on their honeymoon.

Review of Fright Night (2011)

13 Oct

Fright Night (2011) is horror/comedy/vampire film, which is a remake of Fright Night (1985) by Tom Holland.

Directed by Craig Gillespie (Mr. Woodcock, Lars and the Real Girl)

Written by Marti Noxon (Angel (TV), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV)), using Tom Holland’s original story.

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrel, Toni Collete, David Pennant, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and others.

The original movie came at a time when vampires tried to find their place into the modern world. It did that quite well and brought along some bad-ass practical effects. It is loved by many horror fans, but while I enjoyed it, I can’t say I’m a fan. So I could watch this version a bit more open-minded than if I was. Also this is the kind of remake I like, it does something new, updating the previous version for the times the new one is made in.

In this era of sparkling, gutless, idiotic vampire teenage romance movies, I take any vampire movie, where they don’t rape the vampire mythos, gladly. I want to see these evil fucking beings, doing what they do best – being bad-ass. And that’s what Colin Farrel is in this, he manages to be menacing as hell. If you’ve seen the original, he is the perfect casting for the role.

Thank god, I didn’t see this movie in 3D, because most of it takes place in very dark settings and with the glasses I wouldn’t have seen shit. Also I noticed only like 3 instances were I thought “Oh, yeah, that thing flying into my face would have been cool in 3D.”

Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays just another nerd, he does an alright job, considering the Evil Ed character in the original, which was so over-the-top that I hated him and found funny at the same time. Even funnier was the fact that he went on to do gay porn, not because of the fact itself, but because I imagine him doing the same overacting ridiculous character there.

From an elderly horror host, the Peter Vincent (the significance of the name might be lost on the modern audience) character is updated to a vampire enthusiast, who puts on a flamboyant magician Chris Angel/Russel Brand type of persona. This character, portrayed by David Tennant, is turned into the comedic relief of the movie and in my opinion is one of the best things they updated for this new version.

Anton Yelchin is the main character Charley, who has a hot girlfriend and tries to forget his nerdy friend Ed and the love for horror movies. This approach is weird, because you’d think the target audience is people who wouldn’t want to be considered “uncool” just because they like horror movies like this one.

The minor cast members I found surprisingly not annoying. Toni Collete is ok as Charley’s mom, Dave Franco as usual plays a douchebag asshole, Reid Ewing plays a total idiot, like in the comedy series Modern Family, Imogen Poots (With that name I instantly knew she must be British) was very likeable and hot and Sandra Vergara was so funny as Peter Vincent’s assistant/girlfriend.

The special effects were ok, but CG just doesn’t hold a candle to practical effects (of which, thankfully, there were some). But the CG wasn’t insultingly bad, so I forgive that. The fully transformed vampire mouths look on the verge of stupid, but I appreciated it as an homage to the original.

There’s quite a few negative aspects to the movie, but I liked it so much more than I thought I would, so I definitely recommend it.
And watch out for a cameo by Chris Sarandon.

Get it? Stakes! Hah! It's like they're doing bad puns as taglines!... oh, wait, they are.