100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Seventy-Six - "Bram Stoker's Dracula!"


Welcome, ghouls and boils! It's time yet again for the Hour of Power - er, I mean the 100 Days of Horror!

And with that, I am tapped out of energy! Read on about one ofmy all-time favorite bloodsucker films and I hope you all enjoy "Bram Stoker's Dracula" on your own at home! And thanks again for reading!

"Bram Stoker's Dracula (1993): Directed by Frances Ford Coppola. Starring Gary Oldman. Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Cary Elwes, Sadie Frost, Billy Campbell and Richard E. Grant.

The Skinny: Yet another adaptation of Stoker's novel about the bloodthirsty undead prince, this version by Academy Award-winning director Frances Ford Coppola purports to be the version most faithful to the original novel.

What's Good: In the long line of actors who have donned Drac's cape and fangs, none have launched themselves so deeply into the role (since perhaps Bela Lugosi's iconic performance in 1932) as Gary Oldman has. Whether he's the ancient prince roaming the halls of his crumbling castle, or as the young gentleman wandering the streets of London, or as a demonic half man/half beast who's getting busy with Winona Ryder, Oldman nails both the attraction and the revulsion behind the character. The most memorable scenes are of Oldman and Keanu Reeves (as Jonathan Harker) in the castle - there we hear the painstaking accuracy of the Slovakian accent Oldman reproduces with ease. We see the savage pride Dracula still carries with him hundreds of years after becoming undead. And we see the depths of the count's depravity as he brings a baby to his fiendish brides to eat instead of them eating Keanu. Director Coppola changes some elements of the original story but keep 95 percent of the characters the same, something that most of the other adaptations failed to do. He also eroticizes the violence and bloodletting to a standard most horror movies fail to achieve. When Dracula finally condemns Lucy (Sadie Frost) to undeath, blood gushes in from the sides, covering the bed and filling the room. It seems excessive, but when you consider that her life (or un-life) is now ruled by the blood, it makes philosophical sense if it doesn't make visual sense.

What's Bad: Many people have decried Keanu and his horrible accent - myself included. True, this is a few years before he hit superstardom with "Speed" and "The Matrix" trilogy, so his chops weren't exactly up to speed. But he brings his charm and energy (if not his trade prowess) to the role. His proper British accent, however, is horrid. Also, the film takes the idea that Mina is the reborn likeness of Drac's long dead princess - a convention borrowed from an early-70s version starring Jack Palance as the Count. Also, Coppola turns Dracula into a sort of antichrist character, at war with the church and the god who refuses to give his dead princess absolution because she was a suicide. It is his will to avenge her name that seemingly turns him into a vampire, and the scene includes a symbolic drinking of blood from a coptic cross that Vlad has driven his sword into. In the novel, Dracula was just an evil man and a sorcerer who discovered the secrets to turn him into a vampire. Don't get me wrong - I am nitpicking here, I really do love this picture. Other than a few pacing problems and an overlong length, however, this is a great modern take on the eternal tale.

Why We Like It: Because it's fantastic. It looks great, it sounds great, the cast is great ... and as I said, Oldman is just too much. Some call it over the top, but I disagree - Oldman is just having fun with the role. In the scene where he tells Harker that he never drinks wine, Oldman seems to barely be able to contain his joy as spouting such an iconic line. He makes the movie.

Memorable Stuff: Mina's seduction and conversion scene is the crux of the film's final third and stands out with powerful imagery and some of the best lines in the film ("I who served the cross, I who commanded armies hundreds of years before you were born!"). And as previously mentioned, the scenes between the Count and Harker in the castle are also fun to watch. And let's not forget Tom Waits as the cackling madman Renfield - Waits takes the character immortalized by Dwight Frye and turns him into a bug-munching maniac with chicken hair and strange contraptions on his fingers to prevent him from clawing. And again, while his accent leaves something to be desired, his performance is one for the books.