Excuses, Excuses.

I used to update this blog all the time, I feel excessively guilty that I haven’t been. Sadly, my life is full of a million different things. Of all of these things, the one which is preventing me from blogging in a regular way is my thesis. Ah, my thesis. I’m currently in a mood where I am telling myself that my thesis is pretty excellent regularly. The reason for this is that I am writing the first chapter, which I am not altogether sure is any good.

My thesis is about horror movies (surprise!), specifically, it’s about recent extreme, gore, and torture films. Torture porn. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure when I developed all these strong thoughts and feelings about torture films. It happened sort of accidentally. I guess I always thought I would write about vampires, but alas, vampires feel so overplayed these days, that despite the fact that I am “into” vampires, and know a lot about vampires – it didn’t seem like a worthy thesis topic. So somehow, while muddling through things I found myself making some off-hand, and probably off-color (if anything can be said about this thesis, it’s that it is often rather off-color. I use words like “erotic” is VERY off-color ways.) comment about Saw and 9/11. I’m not sure how it became a thesis, but it did. I just started talking about it one day, and spent the whole of last semester talking about it, talking and talking. I ended up talking about it for hours a week, to my thesis adviser, who I do not think was my adviser at the time, in fact I think it was probably a pretty weird thing to start randomly talking about, whatever.

Well, I’ve talked about it a lot, I’ve discovered I am chock-a-block with opinions about torture, and bodies, and blood, and gore, and ratings, and politics (?) and sex, and France, and America and so on. Now I have to write all of this down, in a sensible, coherent (not in the manner that I use to review films.) style. This is really difficult. It is more difficult than I ever would have imagined. But, regardless of these difficulties it now must be done. Some days I am so excited about it, I want to sing about it from the hills, tell all the world about things like the erotics of torture, and some days I wish gnomes would come in the night and write it for me. I hope the gnomes do a good job, and read what I already have as to mimic my off-color, metaphor-heavy style. Though, frankly, if gnomes come I won’t read what they write, I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to question magical gnomish writing.

Moments of Searing Villainy!

I’d like to think I’m pretty pleased with my lot in life but there are days, when like anyone, I am distinctly dissatisfied. I often wonder what people daydream about when they are feeling listless, uncomfortable in their own skin –

I always think about how much I’d like to be a villain. Ideally, a super villain, but I’ll take a entry position to start. The kind of villain who can melt faces right off with her awesomeness. Villains, bad guys, nemesis’s, archenemies. These are the people who make good guys and heroes worth having – and they are almost always totally bad ass. I like to imagine I have a really impressive lair, equipped with an elevator and a giant fish tank. A ridiculously fast car and an entire wardrobe of menacing black outfits, and a maniacal laugh that makes toddlers pee themselves. How cool would that be?! I’d have a nemesis, of course, some startling goody-goody who I would thwart with ardor and intense devotion. Even if I always lost, I’d be a passionate villain.

While driving today I was pondering the whole…plan D (Plan A: phD, life in academia. Plan B: marry millionaire. Plan C: burlesque dancer. Plan D: villain.) and was thinking about some of my favorite fictional villains. Sure, I have favorite real life bad guys, but I actually think it’s more fun to talk about fictional ones, it allows me to be excited without being creepy or tasteless.

So to celebrate this, here is a quick run down of my favorite fictional villains, in no particular order:

Voldie

1. Lord Voldemort (of Harry Potter fame) I love Lord Voldemort (or Voldie) because he’s so unrelentingly evil, he’s always got something utterly mind-bendingly wicked to get up to! And whenever it seemed like he could sink no lower, ta-da more evil. Also, it’s pretty unusual to know so much about a villain’s back story. With Voldie, we learn about his family, childhood, adulthood – it makes him a fully rounded character. I think he’s probably secretly pretty lovable.

Jokers

2. The Joker (of Batman fame) Now, I have no real preference on who I prefer as The Joker (though I love Jack), because it’s the character I’m most interested in. I like that he’s eccentric and colorful – and that we don’t really know what motivates the character, anarchy, fame, money . He’s also extraordinary interesting on film because of the image of a pervert and scary clown being enacted on the audience.

Branagh as Iago

3. Iago (Othello) Iago is the best Shakespeare villain OF ALL TIME. Yes, other Shakespearean villains are interesting, but Iago is exactly the kind of scheming, self-serving worm I love. His ability to prey on the emotional vulnerabilities of people and weave whole realities for people to buy into really speaks to his power as a manipulator. A truly impressive manipulative monster. Also, it’s hard to forget the film version with Kenneth Branagh as a dangerously sexy, homoerotic Iago.

Ursula the Sea Witch

4. Ursula the Sea Witch (Disney’s The Little Mermaid) The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney movie and I always felt like Ursula got a bum deal in it. She’s not a mermaid, she’s a fat purple lady with a big black octopus for bottom, awesome. I bet she felt really confident growing up in Triton’s kingdom of waifish, beautiful mergirls. Of course she’s evil, everyone’s probably been mean to her. And besides, she’s the only character with an once of common sense – she actually understands how life works – you want something, you got to pay the price. Also, I don’t think it’s Ursula’s fault Ariel was willing to give up her family and voice to catch a man, if anything Ursula pointed out what a dumb idea that was.

Leatherface

5.  Leatherface (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is probably my favorite horror movie ever, and I think Leatherface is marvelous. Like many who have come after (Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, most notably) Leatherface doesn’t talk. He’s usually really quiet, he makes unearthly, scary noises when he’s shot or hurt but mostly this terrifying, hulking, mute monster. Oh, and he chops people up while they’re still alive, wears a butcher’s apron (why is he worried about his clothes?) and uses his victim’s skin to craft a nifty mask to hide his terribly disfigured face , sometimes he even hacks ’em up and cooks them for his family – Leatherface is truly the horror world’s Martha Stuart.

Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula

6. Dracula – Not only is Dracula is greatest vampire of all time, he’s awesome at being bad. He has a lot of skills other vampires, since him, have not had. Dracula could: turn into a wolf, a bat, a beast, a mist, a bunch of rats, or bugs, wilt flowers, manipulate the weather, hypnotize people, had superhuman strength, speed, and libido and on top of this kicked ass, took names, no aging, and he was an aristocrat! So he didn’t have a reflection, or much love for daytime and he got staked BUT he’s lived on in our imaginations as one of the most important literary, film, media figures in history, evil or not, as well as being a sex symbol. Rock on Count!

Satan

7. Satan – Ever since Milton thought Satan would make a pretty neat bad guy he’s been popping up all over the place totally dominating the super villain scene. Any time Satan is present he immediately out-awesomes everyone else. Why? Because not only is he dizzyingly powerful but he takes time for the little things – how many times have we seen Satan pitching up to fight it out with the powers of good for one measly soul? Apparently, every soul counts which makes Satan a very attentive villain. He could just lord it up on his big ol’ throne in Pandemonium, but no, he’s on Earth right now busting his ass to damn your soul.

Saruman

8. Saruman (of The Lord of the Rings fame) Now, a lot of people seem to think the Sauron is really the ‘it’ villain of this peice, but I have a lot more respect for Saruman. Firstly, during the material of the trilogy we mostly see Sauron pretending to be a giant CCTV over Mordor while Saruman is on the ground working. Breeding Uruk-hai, destroying forests, being wicked, burning and pillaging and most importantly (at least at first) deceiving other Istari, which I think we all know is no small feat. Secondly, Saruman is exactly the kind of character that people’s mistakenly think of as a side-kick, not so. He was doing his own evil without Sauron.

Hopkins as Dr. Lecter

9. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Hannibal) Sometimes I don’t even know if Dr. Lecter is a villain, that’s just how much I love him. The intensely creepy cannibal psychologist of Thomas Harris’ books-turned-films is a character that truly gets under your skin. When I think of him, it’s usually of Sir Anthony Hopkins doling out equal measures of perversity and intellectualism. Dr. Lecter is a truly thinking villain, a strategist and manipulator.

Patrick Bateman

10. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho) American Psycho is a book which probably never should have been made into a film, and it’s a film I probably should not have seen when I was 15. It was the first time I’d seen Christian Bale in a movie since Newsies. What a shock. Patrick Bateman is a highly successful, mentally deranged Wall Street executive with a penchant for violently abusing and killing prostitutes, bums and at one point in the book, a kitten. The character is brilliantly developed, moving rapidly from calm to frighteningly frenetic action. Brett Easton Ellis’ book features scenes which took even me aback and seeing the character on film is part revulsion and delight. I have a total crush on Patrick Bateman. Hmmm, chainsaws.

Film: Eclipse

I, along with thousands of over people went last Tuesday at midnight to see the latest (and greatest) installment in the filmic adaptations of The Twilight Saga. As I was settling myself in, amid the safety of my Team Mike shirted friends I, as usual, wondered why we were there. As it turns out, I think I was there because like it does for many people Twilight exerts a mysterious power over me. I am unable to figure out whether it’s the sweeping beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the ever present possibility of seeing Robert Pattinson sparkling, the overwhelming eye-candy,  or perhaps because anything with vampires has a certain magic for me. Either way, there I was.

I have taken the time to read the entirety of The Twilight Saga (despite finding it to be not a Saga at all, but then I suppose, The Twilight Melodrama has a mildly negative connotation.) Of all four books I find Eclipse to be the most dull. It’s one of those books where characters putter about a lot and talk about how they feel, kind of like in The Two Towers, or the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (not further comparisons between Rowling, Tolkien or Meyer will EVER be made by me.) I wasn’t really sure how they were going to make all that puttering into a watchable film.

Somehow they managed quite nicely. The quick and dirty of it is as follows, be wary if you haven’t seen/read it, and don’t want it spoiled.

The film begins with Bella and Edward reunited and snoogling in a field after the hysterical break-up of New Moon. At this point the true thrust of the story appears and he begins badgering her to marry him as she begins badgering him to make her a vampire. The pair continue to badger each other over this issue until Bella begins badgering Edward to have sex with her, at which point he explains the importance of female virtue to her as if she were a corrupted lady of the night. Naturally, his skillful manipulation of language and clever rhetorical tricks floor the poor, simple-minded Bella and she caves, agrees to marry him and the badgering pauses…briefly…until he begins badgering her to wear her ugly engagement ring and tell Jacob.

In the background of this fundamentally nonviable relationship between a wet flannel and a stalker, there are all sorts of nasty, hungry, uncontrolled new born vampires popping up all over Seattle. They spend most of their time tipping cars over (yah!), killing people (rock on!) and generally upsetting the delicate balance of vampiric secrecy (stick it to secrecy!) They are lead by Riley who, thankfully doesn’t last the film, because he has the jawline of an underwear model and the demeanor of a lemon.  This narrative revolves around the apparently very bored vampire, Victoria who continues to attempt to kill Bella to punish Edward for killing her mate, James (who tried to kill Bella because he was pretty bored and thought it would be fun.) Yeah, you remember that whole “bad vampires” narrative in Twilight that wasn’t interesting and didn’t really matter so long as Edward kept the smolder going? Anyway, Victoria gets a pretty good idea that the Cullen’s are a bunch of future-seeing, mind-reading freaks and using Riley as a conduit to conduct her malevolent plot and “use the blind spots in Alice’s vision”. Riley thinks Victoria is in love with him, what a tool.

In the mean time, Charlie (Bella’s awesome moustachioed dad) decides he’s none to keen on this Edward chap and begins encouraging his little girl to spend more time with Jacob. Eventually, after a particularly chilling moment where Edward disables Bella’s truck to prevent her from leaving to see Jacob, they begin hanging out. Oh, but remember Jacob’s a big, smelly werewolf so Edward hates him, it probably doesn’t help that Jacob also has a stomach on which cheese could be grated, and rides a motorcycle, and has a tattoo…

But through Bella’s skillful diplomatic efforts the Cullen Clan and the Wolf Pack join hesitant forces to protect little, weak Bella from Victoria, who is perceived as a mega-threat by all. At some point in all of this it becomes absolutely 100% necessary for Bella and Edward to go and sit in the mountains in a badly constructed all-weather tent, without appropriate provisions or clothing during a snow storm, while everyone else gets ready to go all out on Riley and Victoria’s “army” of new born vampires. Lucky for Edward his bride avoids being a real life ice queen because, surprise, there’s this toasty, sexy werewolf to snuggle up to her. Edward and Jacob have a little heart to heart while Bella sleeps. It’s probably the highlight of the book, and also the movie. Edward laments his coldness, how he’s worried about Bella, how he has to protect her, how he knows Jacob can protect her, how he wishes she didn’t want to be a vampire etc. etc. while Jacob thinks about doing Bella, and freaks Edward out (because he’s a child of Victorian morality and the thought of sex abhors him!) Eventually, Edward confesses that under different circumstances he might quite fancy Jacob, I mean, might want to be friends. This adorable advance is pretty much shut down by Jacob.

I should also mention that Eclipse is the film in which Jacob and Bella kiss. The first time it’s in the bumbling, oversexed manner that most 17 year old boys go about kisses. Jacob assumes the words “I don’t feel like that about you” mean “take me in your strong arms and kiss me.” Bella punches him in the face and breaks her hand. Now, I have to say, this kiss is weird and awkward, and a only a little hot, but I liked it. I liked it because Bella gets pissed off, and punches him. Bella never gets pissed off at Edward and I can’t imagine her punching him in the face. This is the moment that demonstrates that Bella isn’t in awe of Jacob, she doesn’t adore him, worship him – he’s a real person, someone she cares for, maybe even loves, but won’t allow to treat her in a way she doesn’t want. Imagine if she’d punched Edward in the face at the hospital in Twilight when he told her “no one will believe you anyway…”. What a totally different Saga it would be.

The second kiss occurs because Jacob tells Bella no more kisses until she asks. When he finds out she’s marrying Edward, she asks for the kiss in an attempt to get him to stay and not behave like an irrational 17 year old werewolf. This kiss is epic. I don’t want to describe it, because it’s that awesome. It was better than the first Bella/Edward kiss (which I also loved).

Overall, it’s a good film – some awesome angry vampires being turned into…rock candy? lots of teenage angst, melodrama and moments of channeling conservative Mormon sexual ideals into the brains of teenage girls.

Really, what more could you want?

well, you can have that too, Jacob is shirtless for 70% of the film.

The Charm of the Horror Genre

Because I’m a horror fan I spend a lot of time thinking about how the whole genre works. I contemplate how horror fans are different from other film fans, other people, how the directors are different, the production process, idea conception and the relationship between the audience, filmmakers and the product.

It has recently occurred to me that what’s primarily different about horror is that whole community, filmmakers, audiences, producers are a bunch of complete deviants. People who strive to take their weird dark fantasies and put them on screen. Also, horror fans tend to discover their love pretty early on. As a result of this a lot of horror directors, especially in the 2000’s forward spend a lot of their time recreating and reimagining the stories, scenes, characters and images that inspired and scared them as teenagers. The other thing about horror fans is they tend to be highly enthusiastic consumers.

We know there are lots of awful horror movies, but we don’t care. We have genre love and we’ll watch them anyway. We also have a beautiful canon of classics, running all the way from 1896 to 2010. It’s not all required viewing but it’s a prolific genre and there are lots of classics, and most serious horror fans know their classics. Now, it’s safe to say that the people who direct horror movies and the people who watch them are the same people, we’re all devoted fans. This means that when a director makes a film it’ll be filled with subtle references and nods to it’s sub-genre predecessors. If you can’t see those, you’ll not going to get it. To really enjoy a horror film you really need to have watched a lot of other horror movies, like it helps a lot to be familiar with the valuable objects of the genre (the repeat directors; Wes Craven, George Romero, Dario Argento etc, the rare Oscar winners; The Silence of the Lambs, Bram Stoker’s Dracula) as well as the campy artifacts. I never expect horror movies to do well, and I never read the reviews of them by normal people, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

A lot of people ask me why I watch these movies, and I have trouble usually answering: I like being scared, I have a twisted sense of humor, I like to question myself, I dig bad guys, I appreciate the development and work that goes into gore and creature effects and make up, and I like to watch people being disemboweled on screen. I also like horror movies because I feel a degree of connection to the people who make them because  I know they like what I like, they share my twisted sense of humor and my love of disembowelments.

A great example of a director I love that doesn’t get the best reviews, even among horror fans is Rob Zombie. The truth of my life that if I were to make a list of people who have inspired me, Zombie would be on that list. While some people question his right to rethink Carpenter’s Halloween, frankly,  after House of a 100o Corpses a lot people question his right to think about and produce anything, I think he’s awesome. I liked everything about House of 1000 Corpses, and I’ll be the one to say it, The Devil’s Rejects featured one of the best wearing-someone-else’s-faceskin moments ever.

A lot of people think he goes too far. I personally want to see the films that he would make if the film censorship people weren’t such fascists. When discussing the concept of “going to far”, Zombie stated, “sometimes on set something looks just ridiculous, but in editing you say “wow, this really works.” But I never say, “this has gone too far.” I mean – it is all fake. You can’t go too far.” It’s a sentiment I really support, espesically in horror. You can’t go too far. I mean that in every sense, there can’t be too much blood, too much gore, too many disembodied limbs. There can’t be too much fear, too much atmosphere, too much shock. Horror movies are designed to take the audience to the limit, you’ll be appalled, delighted, occasionally turned on (I can’t judge), horrified, repulsed, feel euphoric and physically ill when you leave the cinema if it’s done perfectly. There are no perfect horror movies, but they make more of them every year than anything else. It’s a testament to the fact that this, most unacceptable genre still has huge appeal.

People like to be scared, like to be grossed out. The experience of being in a theater with 200 other jumpy people is in comparable. At the end of the day we go to the cinema to question how our world works, how our morality functions and to test ourselves. If you can grit your teeth, and come out from behind your pillows you might learn a thing or two.

[Also, I could make my like 10, 20, 35, 50, 100, 250 most important horror movies, but it’s been done, and it’s a huge project…maybe I’ll work on it.]

Film: The Wolfman

Today was a very special day in my life. Today I saw Joe Johnston’s remake of The Wolfman. I firmly believe I have probably been waiting most of my conscious life to see this film, I now feel like the magic horror trifecta is complete (Dracula 1931, 1992, Frankenstein 1931, 1994 and The Wolfman 1941, 2010) and I will sleep better at night because of it.

The film is, in every sense a remake of Waggner’s original (though being made in 1941, it didn’t feel like a cop out). It was a speedy 102 minutes and not one of them was wasted. The story follows the homecoming of Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) to his family estate in England, after receiving a letter from his younger brother’s (now) widow informing him of her husband, Ben’s disappearance. He returns home to find his eccentric father, Sir John (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and the widow – Gwen (Emily Blunt) dealing with the discovery of his brother’s terribly mangled body in a ditch. All through the area people spectulate about Ben’s death, trying to work out if the local gypsy dancing bear, an animal or lunatic are to blame.

Lawrence takes it upon himself to uncover the mystery and while investigating at the local gypsy encampment is mauled during a wild attack by the beast. The film is frenetic, often scenes are accompanied by Lawrence’s disturbing childhood memories in the wake of his loss. He is stitched up by the gypsy medicine woman (who looked creepily like my Mother…) and despite mixed feelings from the community is sent home. His epic wounds heal surprisingly and almost unnaturally and soon the people of Blackmoor are gathering their pitchforks and making their way over to dispatch him. However, Sir John nips that situation in the bud rather quickly.

Lawrence goes on to discover his now lycanthropic identity and implications are drawn that is father is aware of this. He then proceeds to endure a horrifying and painful transformation and go on an entrail busting, dismembering, flesh-nomming orgy, it’s all very graphic. When he comes too, sleeping in a tree (?) his Pa is waiting, and in graceful style informs him he needs to “free the beast”. Lawrence (in man form) is carted away to the asylum (where he spent time as a child after having witnessed his mother’s supposed suicide). He endures from awful, Victorian psycho-therapies, which actually formed the most frightening and disturbing scenes of the film. Finally being set up in a lecture room (very much like Van Helsing’s classroom in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) to demonstrate that when the light of the full moon hits him he will not turn into a werewolf and the reality of his delusions will be proven. You can guess what happens next, it turns into a rolicking frenzy of blood.

He then goes on a epic jog through London with Scotland Yard in hot pursuit. It’s in this scene that Johnston does some of the best and most beautiful work, capturing the emotion and action of the scene as well as stunning recreations of the orginal’s best known shots.

Needless to say, I think we know how this ends…but he also finds time to woo the girl, be victor in an interesting, albeit campy werewolf a werewolf battle, and dismember some more people.

The film is beautifully gothic, shot in a real locations in England, and making use of well designed sets and make up effects which pay glorious tribute to the appearance of the original wolfman. I really like seeing horror movies as period pieces and appreciate how hard it is to make them good without being ridiculous. The costumes are stunning, and the countryside is evocative and charming – it reads like Wuthering Heights meets Underworld.

Also, it’s fair to mention that I have a serious crush on Sir Anthony Hopkins and he really makes the film. He wicked beady eyes and surreal calm are disarming and painfully charming. Who knew a 72 year old man could be so hot. I did.

This is not a film however everyone will love. It’s a horror film for horror fans, for people who adore the myths of werewolves and the genre of supernatural monster horror, it’s for people who loved the original, who appreciate atmosphere and want to see some heads, arms and other assorted bits be gracefully hewn from their owners. Not everyone will enjoy this, but for horror fans, and classic horror fans with an eye for reinvention and honoring our beautiful roots it is a powerful, sexy ride.

Just like Robert De Niro will never be Boris Karloff, and Gary Oldman will never be Bela Lugosi, Benicio Del Toro will never be Lon Chaney Jr. but these are the monsters that have defined our imaginations and scared generation after generation and I see nothing wrong with resurrecting them and carrying them with us in whatever form into the future.

It’s nice to see them all updated, Drac, Creature and now dear Wolfie.

Film: Daybreakers

First of all, you will notice that I am not writing about the epic, everyone-loves-me wonderbeast that is Avatar, why do you ask? I will answer briefly, I didn’t enjoy it enough, I don’t care and in my mind in 15 years the film will be little more than a grab bag of beautiful effects – a cute time capsule of what was possible at the end of the first decade of the 21st century and nothing more. Simply, not enough to warrant more of my time than this.

Secondly, Paul and I went to see Daybreakers. This gift is from little known and little experienced Spierig brothers out of sunshiney Australia, they have been the lucky so and so’s to give me my first vampire movie of the year. Right now everyone is vampire crazy, I say “right now”, naturally in my opinion everyone’s been vampire crazy since 1819 when Dr. P thought it was a good idea to put a bloodsucker in a good suit, and our cinemas have had blood fever since 1922. but I digress.

There are several things I like about this movie right out of the gate: It has Ethan Hawke in it, and the vampires are the majority population. I prefer vampire movies about vampires not about vampire slayers. The film is set in 2019, by which point (fingers crossed this’ll actually happen in the next 12 months) most of the population have been transformed by a blood borne vampire virus, there are little hunted hamlets of humans left and those that are caught are farmed for their blood like cattle. The vampire world is much like the human world, no one really goes out in the day, they have a massive network of underground walk-ways called Subwalks (and presumably underground malls, cinemas etc.) they live in neat, modular homes, and drive elegant American-made vehicles, with video cameras and excellent sun visors (none of your accordion foil here!) They drink blood in their coffee and everyone smokes (and why bloody not? I would.) However, the speedy spread of the virus has result in rather too few humans. In the face of running out of blood, some vampires drink animal blood, such as the unfortunately named hero, Edward (Hawke), some go crazy and attack other vampires or self-cannibalize and the blood farming company is working on a blood substitute (TruBlood anyone?) which is what Edward does, he’s a vampire hematologist, he’s also a classic angst-ridden-clinging-onto-vestiges-of-my-humanity vampire. This vampire society has some problems, running out of blood, social issues and because of poverty some vampires going mad and living below the surface of the city and mutating into Nosferatu-esque bat-vampires, with low IQ’s and intense bloodlust, these beasties are breaking into nice vampire’s HOMES!

So, the basic issue is that Edward would prefer to find a cure for vampirism, while his boss (Sam Neill) would prefer to find a blood substitute so they can continue to farm some humans and also repopulate the human race. Long story short, Edward meets some fringe humans, and realizes that vampirism can be cured by controlled exposure to sunlight – you can imagine the issues this causes. (Turns out that Willem Defoe was a vampire, named Elvis, who crashed his car, got shot through his windshield, burst into flame and was thrown into a sewage channel. When he emerged he was human again, as if the sun kickstarted his heart – fanciful but interesting.)

I’m not going to tell you the whole story, what I am more interested in is the treatment of the vampire. First off, they are very normal vampires – pallid, strange eyed, strangely beautiful, graceful creatures, strong and immortal. They can be killed by fire, sun, beheading and if they get staked they burst into flame (spectacular). They need blood, there is not a crucifix in sight and they cast no reflection (“Angel, how do you shave?”).  It’s great to see a vampire movie allow the vampires to kill, to feed and to be predators. These vampires aren’t softened into petting zoo curiosities for preteen girls, or hormoned up to dizzying sexual heights for frustrated women – they are a mixture of classic vampires and a Underworld like coldness. The film is vibrant and full of deep gore, disembowelment, decapitation, exsanguination, self-cannibalization, hoarding. It’s a beautiful sight to behold after watching Bill and Sookie make love in the cemetery and Dr. Cullen passively patch up Bella.

The film is shot with traditional vampire sentiments, their world is dark – nighttime, full of tones of blue and gray while human environments are gold, brown and pulsing with flaws and humanity. You want to like the humans and feel the telltale draw to the vampires that the Daddy-Vamps of yore were so intended to inspire. Interestingly, you never need to watch them kiss, pet or screw – which is a blessing because they’re dead and we all know that’s not possible. What’s also interesting is the fact that vampirism is clearly figured as a disease, a blood disease – as it was in Dracula.