Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Castle and the Vampires

Last night's episode of Castle wasn't Just about Halloween and Vampires. It introduced many viewers to the vampire subculture in a very vivid manner. I'm sure many viewers were surprised to learn that some of men and women who live the life of a vampire have porcelain fangs implanted in their mouths. Even more shocking were the scenes of sanguinarians, or blood drinkers, actually ingesting blood from other people. The writers of the show didn't make this up, it happens to it in special clubs, in homes and apartments, and sometimes-in dark and places out on the street.

Though the show had a campy atmosphere, it was well paced, and figuring out who was the murderer was difficult. The surprise ending, took the viewer to a dark place where a stepmother murders her stepson in order to preserve her secret that she killed his biological mother.

After the show, many people Twittered each other about the episode. How do I know this? When I went on Twitter at 11:20 p.m. Eastern time, Castle was one of the hot topics listed. When I entered, "#Castle," I could see the actual messages going back and forth. The majority of them was from women and concerned Nathan Fillion, the tall, hunky, star of the show, has over 200,000 people following him on Twitter. Nathan, was the star of the short-lived cult science fiction show Firefly. Later, he starred in the movie Serenity, based on the television show.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Old Vampire Movies Never Die: They Just Get Older by Neil Benson

I watched a couple of old, old vampire movies and was disappointed. The original Dracula has become a classic for a variety of reasons, but largely due to Bella Lugosi's campy, over-the-top, performance. His image, words, and style has become "the vampire" for many people for many decades.

This is not true of most of the other early vampire movies. The movie "Vampyr " made in 1932 by Carl Theodore Dreyer, is long on style and short on substance. The director, focused on visual effects, which were very powerful in their time, but not enough on the plot. It is the story of a traveler obsessed with the supernatural visits an old inn and finds evidence of vampires. In a way, it's unfair to compare a movie made seventy-seven years ago with current and recent films. This movie is best enjoyed by aficionados of vampire movies, and other early cinema.

Mark of the Vampire, made in 1935,starred Lionel Barrymore and Bella Lugosi. I found the dialogue to be clich├ęd and the acting "hammy" even for its time. One critic thought it was amusing. Perhaps it was, but I failed to see it as so. The photography by the famous James Wong Howe captured the eerie atmosphere, but didn't provide anything we hadn't seen in the original Dracula. Only when the script turns everything on its ear at the end of the movie, doesn't rise to a higher quality. The supporting cast, including Lionel Atwell, was talented, but limited by the stylized acting of the time.

The myth of the vampire has become part of world and American culture. It's a shame that movies about vampires aren't seen as potentially premier movies by the powers that be in Hollywood. Then again, the powers that be in Hollywood give us an endless array of cartoon characters in our movies.