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imagesWhat’s Cronos all about?

A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path.

Of course, it has help……

Why did I want to watch it?

This was a re-watch for me, having seen the film way back when. I decided to watch it again having recently seen The Shape of Water and feeling the need to get into Guillermo del Toro’s back catalogue.

What did I think of it?

I love a non-conventional vampire movie which is exactly what we get with Cronos.

Jesus Gris is an old man with an antique shop who comes across the Cronos device and uses it to postpone his death. Of course, this is never going to be straightforward because fo course there’s a dying rich man who wants it for himself, and of course he has a brutish nephew under his thumb who is trying to hunt it down for him ( a fabulous turn from the great Ron Perlman).

There are some touching relationships in the film, particularly between Jesus and his little grand-daughter who turns out to be wiser than her years. There are some shudder-making scenes (eg when Jesus is licking blood from a bathroom floor, yuck) but particularly gruesome, and the bad guys get there comeuppance so all is well. Mostly. The effects are admittedly a bit dated but the central core of the film is still solid and you could see what a talent del Toro would become.

This is up there with Near Dark in my list of favourites. Worth watching.

Dazzling details: del Toro’s first feature comes in at 94 minutes, and was rated 18 for strong language, violence and horror (though notable now for the DVD being rated 15)

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Dracula-Untold-bat-posterWhich for some inexplicable reason I keep on referring to as Dracula: The Untold Story, which is just silly, really, as this version of Dracula is not hugely at variance with most of the other stories already most definitely told.

Anyway, here you go:

What’s it all about?

As his kingdom is being threatened by the Turks, young prince Vlad Tepes must become a monster feared by his own people in order to obtain the power needed to protect his own family, and the families of his kingdom.

Let’s revisit that synopsis later.

Why did I want to watch it?

I must have considered going to see this film when it was announced because I had a jpeg of the poster in my files, and equally I must have decided at some point not to go and see it because I had heard some unfavourable reviews. I gave in because the Book God came across it by accident on one of the movie channels and thought it looked quite interesting, but was too scared to watch it on his own. That last part may be an exaggeration, if not a downright lie 🙂

What did I think of it?

Dracula Untold is not exactly as described by the lovely people at IMDb. Yes, kingdom-threatening Turks are around, but Vlad used to be one of their warriors until he dumped them and his old chum Mehmet is just looking for what’s due to him (1000 boys to train as soldiers and Vlad’s son as a hostage.) And Vlad isn’t that young, he’s done his fair share of fighting before coming home, getting married and producing a son who must be about 9 or 10.

And it’s just as much about unleashing his inner monster (all that past impaling f’rinstance, however he may try to justify it on ‘sacrificing few to save many’ grounds) as it is becoming a vampire to deal with his enemies.

But to be fair this wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had expected or feared, it was actually pretty OK, no small thanks to Luke Evans who was suitably angst-ridden in the title role. His wife was a bit wimpy and there was insufficient Charles Dance for my taste but the effects were good (especially all the bat stuff) and Dominic Cooper glowers wonderfully. It just felt like this was a shortened version of a much longer film and the ending smacked a little of bet hedging for a potential franchise.

So, absolutely fine and not a bad way to spend 90 minutes but can’t see there being demand for a sequel.

DaybreakersWhat’s it all about?

Daybreakers takes place

in the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind.

Which makes sense, although a covert bunch of vamps makes me think of a gang of Theda Bara lookalikes with long cigarette holders on the prowl, and I don’t think that’s what they meant.

Why did I want to watch it?

Vampires, obviously. And Sam Neill. And most importantly, Sam Neill as a vampire.

What did I think of it?

So where shall I start?

  • Sam Neill as a vampire ( I may have mentioned this already 😀 ) – I love him deeply but he is particularly good when he is being smoothly villainous and terribly reasonable in a sharp suit, which he very much is here
  • I am developing a soft spot for Ethan Hawke, but he really is a bit drippy and tortured in this film, looking for a synthetic substitute which will allow the human race to survive because vampires won’t need to feed on them
  • Willem Dafoe is suitably craggy as the main turning point in the plot
  • it looks very noir, right down to lots of action taking place in the dark with moody blue lighting (because vampires, duh), some nifty 1940s style hats and lots of smoking by your man Ethan
  • there is lots and lots of heavy-handed allegorical imagery here, just can’t decide which piece of human on human nastiness it’s referencing, but I winced at the obviousness at least once
  • well, that was always going to happen to (a) Sam’s daughter and (b) Ethan’s brother
  • well, he was always going to be a bad’un
  • never, ever trust the man in the sharp suit who sells stuff to make lots of money for a living

Reading back on this it makes it sound like I really didn’t like this film, but it was fine, honestly, a good choice for a Saturday afternoon settled on the sofa, but not really all that ground-breaking, and bloody without being frightening. To be honest *whispers* it was a bit of a disappointment. But it had it’s moments….

MV5BMTU2MDc0NDY0M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTgzMTYyNQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_What’s it all about?

A teenager suspects that his new neighbour is a vampire.

Short and to the point.

Why did I want to watch this?

Fright Night is a remake of, unsurprisingly, Fright Night which I saw donkey’s years ago and enjoyed though it was a load of tosh in many ways. I decided to watch the new version because, well, David Tennant is in it. Wearing leather trousers. And eyeliner.

Oh, and it’s about vampires, obvs.

What did I think of it?

The first thing to say is that this isn’t a horror film, it’s monster movie. A fine distinction perhaps, but an important one for me because I didn’t find it at all scary, but did find it immensely enjoyable despite the fact that it is absolute nonsense. It’s stylish and the cast look like they’re having a whale of a time, which is often off-putting but here is absolutely fine.

In terms of the plot, there isn’t really one in the sense that the vampire appears, causes mayhem is dealt with and everything goes back to (relative) normality and it’s all in a bubble of unreality. Which is par for the course for this sort of movie, but did the school really not notice that kids were just failing to turn up, and Ed’s parents seemed remarkably unconcerned when he just disappears and no-one with authority seems that interested in injured Mums and blown up houses and it’s basically all down to Charley to deal with. Though of course he does (eventually) have help from Tennant’s Peter Vincent, magician, vampire hunter, drunk, and man with a secret past. As you do.

Colin Farrell makes a nicely charming vampire, prowling and predatory, I am developing quite a soft spot for Anton Yelchin (he was great in minor role in another vampire picture, Only Lovers Left Alive – one of my favourites of last year) and Tennant is an absolute hoot.

Oh, and the Chris Sarandon cameo was great, if far too brief.

So nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking, nothing to move the genre forward, but a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

IMG_0127This is my new favourite film, and that’s all you need to know.

Oh. OK…….

What’s it all about?

Only Lovers Left Alive is the new Jim Jarmusch film and tells the story of

A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.

Of course this omits the single most important piece of information. They’re vampires.

But cool vampires, none of your Twilight nonsense here (although (full disclosure) I quite liked Twilight but probably not for the reasons the film makers intended).

Why did I want to see it?

Tilda Swinton. Tom Hiddleston. Vampires. That’s enough, surely?

What did I think of it?

I have been champing at the bit to see this film ever since I first heard about it. Two of my favourite actor types together in a film about vampires, so so excited. But as the time to see it came closer I got a tiny bit nervous that it couldn’t live up to my expectations, especially as some folk had said it was stylish and cool but nothing actually happens, but nope, it turned to to be just as fabulous as I had hoped.

It looks fantastic, flitting backwards and forwards between decaying Detroit and exotic Tangiers. The music is superb, so much so I bought the soundtrack as soon as I could. Tilda (Eve) and Tom (Adam) look great and their relationship is convincing, this great love experienced over time so that even though they live apart they are totally connected. I have admired Tilda since Orlando, and Tom is Loki so not much more to say there.

The supporting cast is equally good, Anton Yelchin as Tom’s fixer (with no idea that he’s dealing with anything other than a reclusive musician), Jeffrey Wright as a corrupt member of the medical profession (because where are you going to get blood if you aren’t in the habit of attacking people) and Mia Wasikowska playing another one of her odd and creepy young woman (see Stoker) as Eve’s younger sister, already known to be trouble (“but that was 87 years ago”) and it’s her actions that require a big change in their lifestyle.

But the real treat in the supporting cast is John Hurt as Christopher Marlowe. Yes, that Christopher Marlowe. Just lovely.

I didn’t expect it to be so funny, or to look so good. I coveted everything Tilda wore, I loved her poise and the whole style of the thing and the central idea that the only way to survive immortality is to have an insatiable curiosity about everything, which makes you so knowledgeable that you can come across as pompous and elitist without really meaning to. But of course reliance on human blood makes you vulnerable and fragile.

I’m gushing now, I can tell.

I adored this and it will be one of those films I will re-watch regularly. Please do give it a try.

 

MV5BNjY2Mzc0MDA4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTg5OTcxNw@@._V1_SX214_Well. The sixteenth president of the USA hunted vampires. Who knew?

So Honest Abe as a young lad sees his mother die mysteriously and decides when older to take revenge on Jack Barts, the man apparently responsible. He sets off to kill him but is entirely overwhelmed and on the point of being bumped off himself when an equally mysterious man, one Henry Sturgess whom he had recently met in a bar while drinking to gain courage, comes to his rescue and having saved his neck reveals that Barts is a vampire, one of many who have set themselves up in the Southern United States. He recruits Abe to help him wipe them out but of course our hero is hell bent on personal justice which sort of gets in the way, as does the lovely Mary Todd. Because of course being a vampire hunter precludes any kind of normal life. But Abe loves Mary and they marry.

American history then unfolds largely as expected, just happen to be lots of bloodsuckers around.

This is such nonsense but is also very good-natured and quite a lot of fun. Of course it has the advantage of an iconic central character whose weapon of choice is a silver axe and who exhibits a remarkable talent for improvisation. It also provides a whole new perspective on the American Civil War (I knew those Confederates were up to no good). Vampire make-up is cool, excellent use of the railroad and a really very elegant baddy in *sigh* Rufus Sewell. Generally good cast, Dominic Cooper nicely dissolute.

Bit of a romp but none the worse for that. A good Saturday night staying in movie where your brain is not required.

Byzantium-quad-posterI hadn’t heard a lot about Neil Jordan’s Byzantium before it was released, but what I had heard was enough to pique my curiosity and despite it being sort of a horror film I managed to persuade the Book God to come along with me to see it. Part of that persuasion may have involved reminding him that the lovely Gemma Arterton was one of the stars but who cares, it got him into the cinema with me.

I don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing that this is a vampire film, but it is miles away from recent films in that genre (yes Twilight, I’m looking at you). It’s intelligent and gritty and realistic and shows the lengths that Gemma Arterton (Clara) and Saoirse Ronan (Eleanor) have to go to in order to survive, meeting their various physical needs while keeping under the radar as it becomes clear that they are being hunted by some sort of secret brotherhood.

They eventually end up in a seaside town where their story unfolds through flashbacks into their past, where we learn how they became the creatures they are and what exactly their relationship to each other is through the people they interact with in the past and present. Clumsily put but hopefully making sense.

Because this was a film that hadn’t been overly hyped and had a sort of art-house vibe to it I wasn’t sure what to expect, and so I was thrilled to be totally and utterly bowled over by it. The performances were consistently strong, the two female leads in particular were both exceptionally good, and the story hung together really well which can be difficult sometimes in films which move backwards and forwards in time. The atmosphere of the seaside in the present day was suitably seedy, but it was the scenes set in (what I think was) the early 19th century which were really visually stunning.

There was a nice balance between the exploration of the various relationships and the depiction of violence which was necessary to establish not only what type of creature we were dealing with here but also the steps the women had to take to to keep them safe. The very first scene of violence was so graphic and shocking that I was really startled, but I mean that in a good way; a real WTF moment that lets you know you’re in for something special.

And Jonny Lee Miller plays a really really horrible specimen of humanity with great gusto.

I admired this greatly and will be buying it as soon as it comes out on DVD so that I can watch it unfold in all its glory without the distraction of having to work out the plot for the first time. Recommended as something truly different in amongst the blockbusters of summer.

So picture the scene. It is the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday Monday. The Book God and I have been more or less housebound over the weekend by choice, wishing to avoid the (a) wet weather and (b) crowds in town out watching all the Royal stuff (what we lost in atmosphere we gained by a good view watching it all on TV though to be honest the river pageant was really dull and I fell asleep).

But I digress.

So, its BH Monday and we decide that we are going to forge out to watch a film and have dinner but there is a limited choice on at our local multiplex and we decide that we will plump for the only film that we haven’t already seen and that seemed vaguely of interest.

That film was Dark Shadows.

Now I had kind of been avoiding this because of the very mixed reviews and despite of my love for Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and my worship of Helena Bonham Carter, but needs must and off we toddled.

And I have to say that despite everything I’d heard /read this was another unexpected hit with us both.

Now I have to admit to knowing only the vaguest outlines of the TV series on which this was based but that may have been a blessing as there was no feeling for me that something previously precious was being trampled all over by a director with his own very distinctive trademarks.

Yes it was very very silly. Yes it had more horror and less humour than the trailers I’d seen would lead you to believe. Yes, its more of what Burton does but as someone said (can’t remember who) if you like that what he does then there’s no real problem. I didn’t mind the camp seventies stuff because I was a teenager in the seventies and have a real fondness for the period and it was a little bit like a trip down memory lane albeit with the addition of vampire/werewolf/ witch action.

Depp was being Depp-ish which was fun but I do wish he would work with other directors more often and look forward to seeing him do something different once in a while. Michelle Pfeiffer was gorgeous and continues to be one of my favourite actresses, Helena B-C was magnificent and I could have done with more of her, and Eva Green chewed up the scenery gloriously.

Is it Burton at his best? Absolutely not.

Did it pleasantly while away the evening? Yes it did.

Am I really really really looking forward to Frankenweenie? You bet.

So what I said last year when I watched the first Twilight movie at the behest of Silvery Dude was that one of the reasons I hadn’t wanted to see it was because I thought I would be easily seduced by the over-the-top-Gothic-romanticism and the sparkliness of the vampires, and that I might (as someone old enough to be his mother) develop an inappropriate attachment to R-Patz.

And so it has come to pass.

For I wasn’t dared to watch Twilight: New Moon at all. This was totally of my own doing. We aren’t going to go into the detail of how I came to have a copy of this on DVD in the first place, but suffice to say that the Book God was off at a conference, I had been working at home and been incredibly grumpy all day and thought this might cheer me up, a view supported by His Silveriness who said it would make me smile.

And he was right, although it should be noted that when he and his wife watched it earlier in the summer his considered view was that it was “utter pap” followed this week by “all I remember is big dogs running through the woods”.

Great art always leaves a lasting impression, I find.

Oh and before we get into the stuff that stuck with me please note that however I came to have this DVD in my possession I certainly didn’t get the two disc special edition. Sad I may be, but not that sad. It’s just a nicer picture, honest. More R-Patz and a bit of K-Stew sexy-face.

So plot stuff. God, well it carries on from the end of the last film. Bella still wants to be vampirised, Edward doesn’t want to do the deed, there’s the whole Victoria still out for revenge thing which means Edward spurns Bella and goes off in a brooding fashion for her own protection and she’s thick enough to believe he doesn’t love her (duh!) so sulks for America and then cozies up to Jacob who turns out to be a dog. No, really, a dog. And then there’s the “if I put myself in danger I see Edward so that’s what I’ll do then” approach to life from Bella. And then it just gets too much to explain until we get to Italy and the Volturi. Now they are proper vampires, more blood-sucking, less moodiness. And lots of red, which I’m liking very much.

Anyway, the standouts:

  • Disappointment – no Eclipse clips!
  • Sparkly right from the outset – how fab
  • “Bella, you give me everything just by breathing”
  • R-Patz quotes Shakespeare. At length. Yay for iambic pentameter!
  • Vamps can be photographed – who knew?
  • “That changes things. A lot.”
  • Lots of glowering from the shirtless ones, and let’s face it if you are going to fall asleep alone in the woods you may as well be rescued by biceps on legs (yes I know biceps are on arms, but…. oh never mind)
  • “The pain is my only reminder that he was real”
  • “You’re sorta beautiful” “How hard did you hit your head?”
  • Very, very big dogs – puppy power!!!
  • “Your lack of confidence in us is a little insulting”
  • “I’ve never met anyone more prone to life-threatening idiocy”
  • The whole Italian vampire expulsion festival thing
  • Why didn’t she just yell at Edward?
  • “Interesting. I see nothing.”
  • Vampire smackdown

So there we are. I’m hooked and have no-one to blame but myself. This is what you get when you listen to your friends; I had taste before I met the Silvery One (OK some of it was dubious taste but it was all my own).

I just hope that in Eclipse there is more Michael Sheen. And more Anna Kendrick. And less brooding (hah – fat chance).

But it’s almost inevitable that I will find out.

OK, so the day finally dawned and the Book God and I settled down to watch the first Matt Smith Dr Who episode, and it didn’t disappoint. All this with a tiny wee bit of trepidation as I have long been a David Tennant fan, but fears had been allayed by the teaser trailers and clips which suggested that the Boy Smith might just have done good.

And so it proved to be.

And that’s as far as I got when I sat down to write this on 4 April and here we are a month and a half later and almost half-way through the series and I still haven’t published what I thought, and it’s probably too late but I don’t care cos I’m going to do the thing anyway.

And relax.

Plot synopsis = new doctor, out-of-control Tardis, small girl, crack in wall, Dr W goes away for 5 minutes, comes back not quite within that timeframe (oh, alright then, well outside said timeframe), escaped alien prisoner, saves the world, gains an outfit.

All while looking about 15.

Thoughts:

  • not sure yet about new music and title sequence
  • wee girl playing Amelia is brilliant and I seriously covet her red Wellingtons
  • “Who are you?” “Don’t know yet; still cooking”
  • whole food thing very silly except for “You’re Scottish – fry something”
  • “Give me five minutes, I’ll be right back”
  • “Because they called for you”
  • corner of your eye thing (see, I’ve always suspected that’s how the world worked)
  • 12 years and 4 psychiatrists
  • The Raggedy Doctor
  • times when he really sounds like Mr Tennant
  • “Just believe me for twenty minutes”
  • “Blimey! get a girlfriend Jeff!”
  • Silence will fall
  • “You lot. Back here. Now”
  • “I am definitely a madman with a box”

So good stuff first thing in.

Since then we’ve had the UK as a spaceship (OK), the Daleks in WWII (also OK), Weeping Angels and River Song two-parter (liked that one) and vampires in Venice (really liked that one).

So I am happy except for the occasions where he just looks like a wee boy, but that will pass I’m sure. And tonight Amy is married and pregnant and five years on from her last journey with The Doctor. Should be interesting.