I Want Him To Suck My Blood; or Lilly Discusses Dracula at Length

I discuss everything at length, just to be clear/show my own self-awareness, but on with the blog!

Image

“I got ninety-nine problems but a bride ain’t one–it’s three.”

Dracula is a character that has tickled my fancy since I was far too young to even know about the Count. I was only six years old when my parents rented the VHS of 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and, thinking it would save my little brain from scarring, sat me in the other room to colour, leading only the noises of the Count’s adventures to reach my little ears. After a few nights of nightmares, my dad’s approach to my fears of what I had heard was to get a child’s version of the tale to read to me, and while it sounds like that would only make it worse, it cured me of nightmares and insensed in me a need to find more stories like that, with strange other worldly creatures and regal monsters and castles full of bats. What more could a little girl want from a story?

Image

Hot for (undead) Teacher

I broke into it all easy. Mona the Vampire, The Bailey School Kids (I never reached Dracula Doesn’t Rock and Roll, but wish I did since Mr.Drake was a favourite of mine, unsurprisingly), Scooby-Doo–all socially acceptable things for someone my age. Very quickly, however, I was not getting nearly enough from my pre-teen novels and needed more. Buffy, The Vampire Diaries, Angel? Yes, please.

Grade eight was a fantastic year for vampire literature, at least for me. It was then that Interview with the Vampire and Dead Until Dark came into my life, and Queen of the Damned was in theatres (with the amazing soundtrack that matched my Big Shiny Tunes tastes of the time). Vampires were tough, they were sexy, and they were, most importantly, accessible due to the surge making more and more authors and screenwriters come out of the woodwork to put forward their own creatures of the night.

Yes, this lead to Twilight, and I feel like apologizing for promoting the industry that produced that, but it’s not our fault, I swear. It’s not vampire literature, anyway; it’s YA romance. Different genre, move on.

Now, I’ve never been one to say “enough with the vampires, already!” or “no” to any version of Dracula (I allowed for Dracula 2000 in my life, I was that keen), however this fall, NBC is testing my patience. Just watch:

Image

Lightbulbs? What?

I understand, NBC. You have an American audience to work with, so making Dracula sound like he is from Pennsylvania rather than Transylvania works (Hannibal, however, can still sound European–I know, I know, “European” isn’t an accent, shut up–without problem since…why?) and maybe you need to add more intrigue with what looks like a sexy vampire hunter (Apparently Van Helsing isn’t sexy enough), and yes, let’s make him bring electricity to the town–wait, what. What.

Let me tell you why this all upsets me after all that talk of taking vampires any which way I can get them:

It takes something I love and yet again makes it “socially acceptable”. Insulting.

Since when was Dracula not allowed to sound vaguely foreign, be vaguely evil, and look vaguely terrifying even when he is supposed to be charming your pants off (before biting you, not wooing you, MINA).

Also, who said Mina and Dracula have a past? Why do they need a past? Why can’t he just hunt like the predator he is, like the hunter he proudly proclaims to be? It would be like taking a film like Alien and making it a television series in which the alien is the descendant of a bully from Ripley’s primary school days or maybe the second cousin of a prom date who jilted her, I don’t know. It’s ridiculous. Dracula doesn’t pick Mina Harker for any specific reason (Francis Ford Coppola, are you listening?) besides she’s a lady. Yep. That’s it. Not even that, she is the last lady that is young in the area, no less! She wasn’t even his first choice. What is all this Mina-hype? Come on. Come ON.

Anyway.

Image

“Hey you kid, get down off my clock!” more than “Prince of Darkness”.

The casting. I know there is a good deal of love for Rhys Meyers out there, and I did once admire him greatly (in a squealing teenage girl kind of way), but to me, he doesn’t have nearly enough presence in the trailer for the series to be the Count. Maybe the Count’s little brother or nephew, or his neighbour’s bratty kid, perhaps, but not Count Dracula himself. The Count is not the vampire next door, he is the mother fucking Count who you don’t want to mess with. Even when he is trying to charm those around him, there is still the air of “Back off” wafting off him. Yet no. No, he is all smiles, flirts, and cheeky grins. Don’t get me started on Renfield, either. And no, it’s not about race, it’s about why the Hell is he sane in the slightest? Nope. No, thank you.

I will admit I had some worries about Hannibal coming to the small screen, however the show has amazed me and has me eagerly awaiting each new episode, but my worries were that of a fan of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal–Mads Mikkelsen has completely won me over, so that’s that. My worries about NBC’s Dracula rebirth stem from being a fan of Dracula himself, and I don’t think they’ll be soothed by any amount of good characterization. Maybe I’ll be surprised or maybe I’ll be annoyed.

Knowing me, though…it’s going to be annoyed.

Image

I’ll sulk with Hannibal and that skull. Yorick is a mope.

Sometimes to create, one must first destroy; or why Lilly liked Prometheus

In my recent attempts to watch all the films ever, I delved into the world of Ridley Scott’s Imagecreation in the films Alien and Prometheus. One I had seen but remembered little-to-nothing about (Alien) and one I hadn’t seen due to my lacking memory of the former leading me to believe I would just be annoyed by the in-jokes of the latter (Prometheus). I had seen Alien when I was a teen, too scared by the jumping and screaming to really get into it, truth be told. So, in an effort to give one of the most talked about sci-fi/horror films a (fair) shot (and placate the man who wishes to marry Alien, aka my boyfriend), it was watched again.

Now, why is this relevant (I hear you ask, all two of you reading this)? It’s relevant because while these two films are made in the same universe as one another, there are two different worlds being shown. When Prometheus came out, I was (frankly) annoyed by all the people posting on facebook about how it “wasn’t as good” as Alien. That argument agitates me for two reasons:

one) Who said anything about Alien? Well done, you spotted that Prometheus isn’t Alien. It makes me wonder if the people saying things like that were confused for half the film because Ian Holm looked a lot more like Michael Fassbender than they remembered. If I wanted to know what you thought of Alien, I wouldn’t have asked “How was Prometheus?” 

Image

Also known by the title “The one that isn’t Prometheus”

two) It’s not helpful. You know what else isn’t as good as Alien? Getting kicked in the face,  which is what is going to happen to the next person who gives me that review of the film Prometheus. Just sayin’.

Now, I am going to avoid the trap of talking about Alien any further, even though I’d love to talk about it, because I don’t want to be one of those dicks who go on about one film when you want to talk about another one. We’re here for Prometheus, and for Prometheus we will be.

To get it out of the way, I actually really liked it. I liked the style, I liked the plot, and I even liked Charlize Theron, which is saying a lot since I usually hate her. Her “upset” emoting is like the human equivalent of a plate wobbling to a stop after being spun–annoying and never ends at the right time. Luckily, she plays a cold bitch who doesn’t do much emoting, so all was well.

I am going to be honest here. The reason I wanted to watch Prometheus (and surely the reason a good deal of people wanted to watch Prometheus) was to get a chance to watch this handsome bastard in action:

Image

Bet he just noticed his reflection in that globe and is admiring his beauty like the rest of us.

Michael Fassbender was amazing in this, and not just because I “fancy” him (there is jealousy in the room just having him on the screen right now). He was the perfect android-becoming-a-real-boy. From the formative years of his film-watching and hair-dying (what was that about?) to his rebellious days of killing the guy who was a jerk to him (as we all do at some point), we watch David go through the stages of development without the key element pointed out by his “father” and creator, Peter Weyland; a soul. While he goes from duty-bot to sassy-bot (saying “I didn’t know you had it in you” to a woman who just had an alien life form inside her–get it?), he shows understanding of key moments through quotes from Lawrence of Arabia and thoughtful glances. He came off as fake and real at the same time, and had the ability to not piss me off when he knew everything because he should–it was his task while everyone else on the ship slept for the trip. He went from open-eyed awe to angst-y know-it-all to regretful adult in the span of one film, and it was awesome to watch.

Moving on!

The story was good. Religious idiots seeking answers get funding, go in search of maker, find out maker wanted to unmake them–with aliens. It wasn’t much to work out, frankly, which is a good thing when a film is full of body horror, sci-fi technology, and Guy Pearce in old man makeup. There was some hidden agenda action, some surprises (foreign bodies in the abdomen, ick), and some strange motivations (Fassbot getting rid of his competition for Noomi in particular) but over all, I wasn’t forced to watch closely while creatures were sucking off guy’s faces. There were some things I could see coming–Guy Pearce wouldn’t be made to look old for only a two second cameo, and also wouldn’t be in the opening credits for that, for instance–and there were some things I didn’t see coming–the buddy film set up for Noomi and Fassbot is fantastic–but over all, I thought it was explained well enough to not leave me annoyed or thinking “…well now what?” It ended, it was done.

The visuals were stunning. It was clean, it was light enough for me to see things, and the engineers (should I capitalize that?) were awesome looking. I was delighted when the crew with questions woke up the last one to only have him go on a rampage, pissed off that he was woke up by what he considered rodents. I would also go mad if I was woken up by household pests (if my reaction to getting roused out of slumber by my boyfriend tells me anything, it would be a bloodbath). I loved the map that Fassbot wondered at, I loved Charlize’s rooms in the ship, and I loved that the buttons the engineers used were sqidgy and weird since why should buttons look the same across the universe?

Image

Ah yeah, steer this ship right on into my bed, Captain.

I liked how people acted like they ought to have acted, meaning the geologists were only interested in rocks and the zealots were only interested in being batshit insane and doing stupid things in the name of answers. The boss-lady  was only interested in her ship (and its captain, ow ow, Idris Elba), Weyland was only interested in not dying, and the engineer was only interested in smashing shit a la the Hulk. None of this silly “adapting to the situation and becoming stronger” nonsense, it was all “go forth and do as you do, and see how that goes for you” nonsense. Even after having been wickedly menaced, the religious chick still was looking for answers from her makers–none of this “I’m a survivor” stuff, just keep on trucking on in the direction that got everyone else you knew killed! Good. Good.

It was entertainment. Harmless, bloody, alien-riddled entertainment. Prometheus was sci-fi/horror for the person who likes horror that is humorously gory and sci-fi that is clean (we are a strange people full of contradictions). It had some good parts, some great gore, and some interesting ideas. Most importantly, it had nothing to do with Ripley, Dallas, or that damn annoying cat. For all those people on facebook who whinged about Prometheus ruining the Alien franchise, and complaining that it wasn’t “as good”, I say this:

Then go watch Alien. 

Easy.

An Awfully Briant Adventure; or Lilly watches Hammer Horror (Again)

Pretty even with a gagged girl in the way

Pretty even with a gagged girl in the way

I’ve been watching a lot of horror films recently. No, for serious, a lot. I don’t mean “three or four over the last week or so” a lot, I mean “three on Saturday alone” sort of a lot. I naturally blame my enabler (and boyfriend) for this, though “blame” isn’t exactly the right sentiment, given my enjoyment of the classic films of the genre. Whatever.

As you might recall, I reviewed (in a sense) Hammer’s latest effort, The Woman in Black (found here for those interested) and rambled on about how it was brilliant and not quite like the stage version (which was okay by me) and so on, showing my absolute love for not only film but also having people read my ramblings. It’s been a while, and instead of looking to another recent Hammer flick (i.e. Let Me In or Wake Wood), I have come out of blog hiatus to discuss a film that is to be in a series of blog reviews the aforementioned enabler has been doing due to the film being  in Hammer Horror’s Ultimate Collection. Yes, I’ve come back to the world of blogging to discuss the brilliance that is Straight On Till Morning. Please, form a queue to put in your two-cents on this one, since I’m sure everyone ever has seen this and wants to talk about it for ages on end.

Or is it just me?

Right, so for those few idiots among you, Straight on Till Morning is a film from 1972 that was sold as a “love story from Hammer”, which is like something being sold as “your creepy neighbour with the scar telling you about his girlfriend”. So…awesome.

Here’s a trailer:

Brilliant, right? Calm down, if you can, so I can now discuss its awesomeness at length.

Pretty and his dog, Adorable

Pretty and his dog, Adorable

First of all, this is one of the very few Hammer films where the pretty lead isn’t some busty chick (as heavily emphasized by enabler’s “Hammer Glamour” section) but rather Shane Briant, a lady-pretty manchild with a Julian Rhind-Tutt look about him who struts about the film with tight seventies trousers (which is why everyone watches a film from that era, right?)  and pretty blue eyes (or are they green? I don’t know! Titter titter swoon). Shane plays Peter, a (pretty as a descriptor is now to be assumed present) young man who is actually not the main character, but you hope he’ll come soon, since the character you are left to start the film with is Brenda, a batshit blonde who is nothing if not desperate for a baby. Seriously, she really, really wants a baby. It’s the tagline of the film, she wants a baby that bad.

Baby-crazy Brenda is not the worst of female leads (see: every cleavage-toting, blank-eyed bride of Dracula or Sandra Bullock) but she certainly isn’t one you think “I hope she’s gonna make it after all” about, or even think about at all, as she is whiny, weird, and has a face that only a mother could love. Not that her mother seemed overly fussed when she said she was leaving Liverpool for London in the first five minutes to find a father for her baby that she was already carrying–not! It was a clever, crazy ruse. That Brenda! Cue the title sequence!

"And they lived happily ever after because the prince gave her a baby times a million. The End."

“And they lived happily ever after because the prince gave her a baby times a million. The End.”

Brenda goes to London and, surprise surprise, no one likes her. This has nothing to do with her butterface and everything to do with her wearing her womb on her sleeve. She prowls the streets and boutiques with a creepy smile, hoping to ensnare some gentleman into a baby-daddy situation by using her charming pickup line of “HI BABY IN ME NOW PLEASE” (or something along those lines). She doesn’t seem to have any real need for a husband, just for a baby, which might be why she ends up shacking up with a boy trapped in the body of a man who is a (spoiler alert) psychopath. Or sociopath. Or narcissist. You choose! But we get ahead of ourselves.

The first unfortunate housemate of Brenda is Caroline, a co-worker who just wanted someone to help with the rent (a subplot which leads to the confusing fight over not shitting where you eat, so to speak, between Caroline and her boss/lover, angry John Lennon). Instead of someone who would just follow the cleaning rota and get on with life, Caroline ends up with the social mess that is Brenda showing up at a party and leering at all the single guys with her ovary-obsessed eyes. Then, to make matters worse, while Caroline is just trying to make angry John Lennon even angrier by sleeping with another co-worker, she ends up breaking Brenda’s fragile heart as said co-worker was in line to be Mr.Brenda’s Baby Daddy (or so Brenda thought since he was nice to her once).

This hideous rejection of her feelings (that she had not voiced at all, not noticing the flirtation and deep dopey love the co-worker had for Caroline in the first place) causes Brenda to run off. Enter Tinker, the most adorable of adorable dogs. Brenda meets Tinker and realizes that this poor pooch belongs to the hot blonde down the road from her, our pretty (pretty) Peter. “Eureka!” she clearly thinks as she steals the wayward pup, “I’ll take this and wash it and surely Peter will impregnate me!”

No. Seriously.

No. Seriously.

No, seriously.

As you can imagine, when Brenda shows up at Peter’s door, I rejoiced. Finally someone that didn’t make me worry about mentioning wanting kids casually ever again, just in case I came off as insane. Of course, Peter (surname never given or worried about) brought his own baggage. He hates beauty, which is ironic since he’s beautiful, and funny since he adores Brenda (burn).

Once the two get to talking (for about five minutes, no joke), Brenda reveals she has come to get Peter’s babymaker inside her for a quick drop-off delivery, and he offers her a live-in cleaning job. Naturally. That’s normal. Completely normal.

It might not surprise you to know that it gets weird from here-on in.

After renaming Brenda as “Wendy” (as if we didn’t get the Peter Pan thing yet), the couple delve into the weirdness that is their relationship. They tell each other fairytales which are thinly veiled stories about themselves (Peter’s featuring clips of his previous lady-loves that ended up getting snuffed since they wanted nothing but his beauty) and live off money Peter keeps in a drawer (stolen from said lady-loves). He buys “Wendy” a bassinet to place in her (separate from his) bedroom and she cleans out his many ashtrays while not getting her questions about Peter’s past answered after talking about her mother at length. It’s touching besides the creepy underlying fact that Peter has done so much murdering in the place that you can almost hear the screams still.

Did I mention he kills Tinker because he's too pretty now? Well that happens.

Did I mention he kills Tinker because he’s too pretty now? Well that happens.

Wait, no, that isn’t the ghosts of the past screaming, it’s Peter’s recordings of his murders that he has done and listens to now and again for nostalgia’s sake! Oh, that’s fine then.

The film has a sense of “when is he going to kill Brenda already?”, or perhaps that was the sense I had due to my mammoth dislike for her character. The moment she steps into that house and he shows tendencies towards being a bit murder-y, it’s just a waiting game to see how long it will take before he gives in and just has at her face. It is heavily implied that the only reason that he likes her is that she’s not pretty, a wonderfully uncomfortable point that she doesn’t seem to pick up on (bless her) and almost ruins when she tries to make herself beautiful (an amazing scene shown in the trailer followed by Peter groping at her face to wipe away that sad attempt at sexing up a woman who is basically Dobby’s sister).  He scrapes that makeup off and seems relieved while Brenda sobs her ugly little eyes out. It’s touching.

"The fuck is this?"

“The fuck is this?”

Obviously, I’m not going to tell you the ending. That would ruin it for you, and I would hate to do that when you are clearly going to run off to go and watch it RIGHT NOW. I can say, of course, that it leaves you feeling like you want to watch it again just to be sure you didn’t miss what it was that happened, but not in an Inception way, more in a wake-up from a blackout sort of way. It’s not a case of wanting to know what happened, but how.

The main thing about this film that I loved was the grazing-the-surface look at the mind of a spoiled, child-like killer who was born of being called “beautiful” just a little too much when he had so much to give from deep down in his dark little self. Peter is the product of a society who values trends and forgets that horrors can lie beneath even the prettiest of covers, and Brenda comes along, too plain to be a threat and too eager to say anything that displeases Peter, including commenting on his looks. She sees him as something else besides a handsome prince: he’s a handsome prince who can give her a child. Unlike the others who came along and met their end by Peter, Brenda didn’t want his body; she wanted his offspring.

The story was messed up. The couple were messed up. The title song was incredibly messed up. And it all worked. Not one part of the film felt out of place, too sane or too crazy (even Tink’s sad end made sense in this twisted world), and the glimpses into Peter’s mind were just as troubling as the glimpses into Brenda’s mind, both psychos in their own ways. It was a thriller inasmuch as you weren’t sure if Peter’s affection for the weird-looking (and apologies for all the comments on Brenda’s face, but it was rather the point of the film) Brenda was going to last and those crazy kids were going to make it, or if the “crazy” part of that term might reign supreme, the film taking a darker turn. The atmosphere created by the flashes to Peter’s past and the flashes of pure fearful adoration in Brenda’s eyes made it worth watching alone, the chemistry of an abusive relationship with a manic child-like excitement running throughout to make the pair watchable.

Of course, if we’re talking about watchable, Shane Briant’s pretty didn’t hurt.

Just sayin’.

Thoughtful Pretty.

Thoughtful Pretty.

Straight on Till Morning was a decent film. I loved it, partially due to the Enabler (capitals now) being so confused about what to feel about it and partially because I love a good seventies based tale of a serial killer. This was right up my alley; serial killer, Peter Pan references, a cute dog, and tight trousers for everyone. I wouldn’t suggest it for everyone, and, in fact, I can hardly think of anyone I would suggest it to specifically, but if you want a weird love story that involves an inversion of the usual “way-too pretty girl with decent human-looking boy” with a murderous twist, this is the film you might watch if you thought of it. Eventually.