Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe


Near Dark – Publicity Still

Cool Near Dark publicity still featuring Lance Henriksen, Jeanette Goldstein and Bill Paxton.

Teenage Vampire Movies – Twilight etc…

Apparently this ‘Twilight’ thing is really big with the kids. That’s a good thing; hopefully some of them will search out better vampire flicks and develop an appreciation for the genre beyond Robert Pattinsons cheek bones. With the impending release of the final Twilight instalment, of the recent batch of teenage vampire flicks are there any good ones..? Anything as good, for this market, as ‘The Lost Boys’..? Doubtful but worth a look anyway… marks in A, B, C and D ratings, just like your school reports! Twilight: Breaking Dawn trailer here

We’ll start with ‘Twilight’. I didn’t hate it, as a teenager movie it works well. Yes there are a lot of woe-is-me tormented teenager scenes but they are handled fairly well. The performances are good, particularly Kristen Stewart as Bella. By now everyone knows the story; Bella moves to a remote North-West town to stay with her father, she falls for local vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), he vows to protect her. It looks good and director Catherine Hardwicke manages to keep the film flowing well without too many cringe worthy moments. The North West setting really gives the movie a different feel and it looks great. The only problem I have with it is it’s not really much of a vampire movie. Yes there are vampires in it but they are just there, they don’t really do any bloodsucking and are merely portrayed as an odd family. I like a bit of neck action from my vampires and on that score ‘Twilight’ let’s us down. Cue screaming abuse from 12 year old girls… It is a pretty good movie though; it’s entertaining and obviously hits all the right notes for its target audience. B

The first ‘Twilight’ movie is Citizen Kane in comparison to ‘Twilight: New Moon’. The sequel was directed by Chris Weitz and is a poor follow up. The desaturated look from the original is gone and replaced with vibrant colours, the restrained emotions are now all out there and the CGI werewolves are laughably bad. This time around Bella is torn emotionally between Edward and Jacob (Taylor Lautner); a love triangle that never really gets going. I didn’t like this second movie at all; it’s all a bit obvious and overstays its welcome at 2+ hours long. We really don’t need all the longing looks, pouting and silences. Just get on with it… a disappointment after the surprisingly good first movie. D+

Cirque du Freak: The Vampires Assistant was directed by Paul Weitz, brother of New Moon director Chris. Paul has made a better movie than his brother. Cirque Du Freak is much more fun than New Moon and out points it on almost every level. Apart from sibling directors the other thing that both movies have in common is awful werewolf effects, the one on Cirque is possibly even worse. The story isn’t very original but then these days what is? It’s done fairly well though, moves along at a good pace and has a sense of humour. Teenager Darren Shan (Chris Massoglia) and his best friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson) go to see the Cirque Du Freak. One thing leads to another and after a series of mishaps to save Steve’s life Darren makes a deal with vampire Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) that involves more than he bargained for… There are some good performances from John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe and Ray Stephenson; and Salma Hayek is clearly having fun as a bearded lady. Having already said that this is better than New Moon, it’s not as good as the first Twilight. C+

There are a few vampire series on television now. True Blood is excellent but out of this age bracket. What is in the age bracket though is Kevin Williamsons ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and it’s terrible. Admittedly I’ve only seen a couple of episodes and it’s clearly for teenagers, so not aimed at me… but there’s no denying that it is an awful series. They should be watching the UK Skins (NOT the terrible US version) or anything else. D

I don’t have a problem with the Twilight series, unlike most horror fans who sneer at its tweenage crushes and lack of blood & guts. It’s not aimed at the hard core horror audience so they were never going to like it anyway. However,  it has struck a chord with its intended audience and some of them will no doubt watch more vampire movies because of it, some may even watch more varied horror movies in general and surely that’s a good thing. My top 10 vampire movies will appear here next week.

Underworld: Awakening

Another Resident Evil is on the way, and this fourth instalment in the Underworld series will be released in January. I’ll probably see it if there’s nothing else on that week, and as with Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil, watching Kate Beckinsale is easy… however i just don’t get why these movies are so profitable…

Dracula 3D

Italian horror maestro Dario Argento has released info and a new gallery of promotional images for his new take on the Dracula legend with Dracula 3D. Featuring his daughter Asia Argento as Lucy Harker and Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing. Check out the official site and the synopsis below:

One night in the woods adjacent to Passo Borgo, at the foot of the Carpazi mountains, a couple of young lovers, Tania and Milos, secretly meet.  On her way home, Tania is chased and overcome by a “dark shadow” that kills her. In those days Jonathan Harker, a young librarian, arrives at the village hired by Count Dracula, a nobleman from the area. Tania’s body mysteriously disappears from the cemetery.  In the meantime Harker, before going to Count Dracula’s castle, takes the opportunity to visit Lucy Kisslinger, his wife Mina’s best friend as well as the daughter of the local mayor.
Upon arriving at the castle, Harker is greeted by Tania, brought back to life from the dead and made vampire, who tries from the very beginning to seduce him; however they are interrupted by Dracula’s entrance welcoming Harker. The following night Tania tries again to bite Harker, she is close to his neck when she is stopped by the count who gets the upper hand and it is he himself who bites Harker’s neck, however allowing him to live. The following day, weakened but still conscious Harker attempts to escape, but as soon as he is outside the castle a large wolf with a white lock assaults and savagely kills him. Meanwhile, Mina, Harker’s wife, arrives in the village and is guest for a few days at the home of her dearest friend Lucy Kisslinger, who will also be bitten and vampirized. The day after, Mina, worried about her husband, goes to Count Dracula’s castle. Their encounter makes her forget the reason for her presence there. She is completely under the count’s influence; the count  had orchestrated the events leading up to their encounter; in fact Mina looks exactly like his beloved Dolinger, who died some centuries ago. Upon her return to the Kisslinger house, Mina learns of the death of her dear friend Lucy. The sequence of such strange and dramatic events summons the aid of Van Helsing, vampire expert of the techniques used to eliminate them.  Van Helsing, aware of the circumstances decides to act swiftly and prepares the tools needed to combat vampires.  He directs himself to the center of evil, Count Dracula’s castle.   Meanwhile Dracula, in the village, kills the inhabitants who rescinded their pact, while Van Helsing, inside the castle, is able to definitively eliminate Tania.  Dracula, intent on his desire to reunite with his beloved wife, leads Mina, completely hypnotized, to the castle where Van Helsing is waiting. He  has decided to engage in a deadly fight  with his evil foe.  During the struggle Van Helsing loses his gun with the silver bullet and Mina, still under Dracula’s spell, gathers it and tries to aid Dracula, but she misses the target and involuntarily kills him. The special silver bullet transforms Dracula into ashes; but his spirit lifts the ashes into the air and uniting, they shape into a large bat with a mocking grin… 

30 Days of Night: Dark Days **

Taking place a year after the Alaskan town of Barrow was decimated by vampires during the annual month long darkness. Stella Oleson (Kiele Sanchez) has spent her time since the attack trying to convince the world of the truth about what happened at Barrow and that vampires exist. She is met with scepticism and laughter wherever she goes. After a meeting in L.A. where she turned ultra violet lights on the audience and burned up a couple of vampires Stella is cautioned by FBI agent Norris (Troy Ruptash) who warns her to stop her crusade. Upon returning to her motel, Stella is met by Paul (Rhys Coiro), Todd (Harold Perrineau) and Amber (Diora Baird) who introduce themselves as vampire hunters. They inform her that the vampires who attacked Barrow were instructed to do so by Lilith (Nia Kirshner) who happens to be in L.A… Blah, blah, blah…

After a series of action set-pieces where first Paul is killed by vampires, then their vampire contact Dane (Ben Cotton) is killed by the now turned vampire agent Norris; Stella decides to take on Lilith and her coven head on.

If you really liked the original ‘30 Days of Night’ you probably won’t like this sequel very much. I liked the original and I wasn’t expecting much of the sequel and was still underwhelmed. Although both movies followed the outline of the Steve Niles graphic novels they are markedly different movies.

Whereas the first movie has character development, good actors, a decent script, a wonderful premise and a good stylish director; this sequel, well, it doesn’t really have any of those. Although to be fair Kiele Sanchez is okay, far better than any of the rest of the cast.

It starts well enough then descends into an action flick where we follow stupid characters doing stupid things. If you’re going to hunt vampires and you know where they are it may be a good idea to do it during the day. Not these clowns, they do all their hunting in darkness. Well, it’s cheaper I suppose. And why do head vampires always look like someone out of an Evanescence video clip?

The SFX is a mixed bag, some of the prosthetics are very well done and some of the blended CGI shots work okay. I think they spent most of the budget on the effects. There are also some pretty good, gory action scenes although some of them though just don’t make sense. It’s established early on in the movie that ultraviolet light kills vampires so no one ever uses it again… They use guns and machetes for the remainder of the movie.

It’s not useless; it’s just not very good. Watch the original or Blade 2 instead.

Quality: 2 out of 5 stars

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars (because I wasn’t expecting much)   

30 Days of Night ****

Barrow, Alaska – Northernmost town in the U.S. Isolated in 80 miles of roadless wilderness. Cut off every winter for 30 days of night. Town Sheriff Eben Olsen (Josh Hartnett) notices some strange occurrences during the last day of sun, cell phones burned, local dogs slain, the town helicopter sabotaged and his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), the regional Fire Marshall, is stranded in town after missing the last flight out. Eben arrests a stranger (Ben Foster) after he’s aggressive in the local diner; the stranger informs him that “they’re coming” and that he’s a dead man.

The vampires then arrive for a feeding frenzy during the month long darkness. Led by Marlow (Danny Huston), these vampires aren’t sexy, seductive or cool; they’re vicious, brutal and single-minded. It only takes 17 minutes into the movie before the first attack, quickly followed by another and another on the helpless townsfolk “You just keep shooting and they just keep coming”

Eben, Stella and a small band of locals must survive for the next 30 days or perish at the hands of Marlow and his clan of vampires…

Written by Steve Niles from his graphic novel; Produced by Sam Raimi and Directed by David Slade. This movie has some solid credentials and doesn’t disappoint. The original source material has been followed quite closely; I’m a big fan of the graphic novel and Steve Niles has done a great job retaining the sense of dread and isolation. David Slade has done a fantastic job translating the story to the screen. His first feature, Hard Candy (2005) was an incredible debut and he’s followed it up with one of the better vampire movies of the last decade, and there have been a lot of them! Here he focuses on a gripping story of perseverance and survival against the odds; the characters are fleshed out as the movie progresses and their reactions are grounded with real emotions.

The cast are all solid; Josh Hartnett is the best he’s been as stoic Eben. Melissa George and Ben Foster are very good; however the movie belongs to Danny Huston wheneverhe’s on screen. As the lead vampire he’s incredibly menacing, intense and creepy.  

The visuals are beautifully shot and the movie looks amazing; the setting and characters look and feel so cold and real. The movie makers haven’t shied away from bloody violence, the movie is filled with incredibly brutal attacks by the vampires. An original take through a well worn mythology that feels fresh. It is intense, violent, gory, action-packed and great fun.

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars

Jim Jarmusch Vampire movie

Tilda Swinton, Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska have been confirmed for Jim Jarmusch’s untitled vampire movie, which the writer/director calls a “crypto-vampire love story”. It’s an exceptional cast and with Jarmusch behind the camera should be an exciting take on the vampire genre.

Jeremy Thomas and Reinhard Brundig will produce the film which will be “set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangiers,” and will shoot on location in Detroit, Germany, and Morocco early next year.