Tag Archive: Vampires


SPOILER ALERT

 I’m nearly done with Season 3 of True Blood. After I post this review, I’m only going to have two episodes left. This season has been incredibly gory and violent over the last 6 episodes or so. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen a vampire die the “true death” in an explosive burst of blood and guts. Humans and werewolves haven’t been spared the graphic violence either. If you need a good old fashioned fix of a bit of the old ultra-violence (but without the splendid Ludwig Van (I need to stop with the A Clockwork Orange jokes)), then this season is for you. Discounting the lesser products that are TV programs that are on Starz or Showtime (Dexter excluded from that disparaging remark), this is one of the bloodiest seasons of TV that I’ve ever watched.

The proverbial shit hits the metaphorical fan in this stretch of episodes. Russell and his werewolf servants come after Sookie. Bill and Jessica are only able to defend her from the 3,000 year old Russell’s wrath because Eric kills Russell’s lover, Talbott, as revenge for Russell killing Eric’s family whehn Eric was still human, 1000 years ago. This all comes to a catastrophic head when Russell loses what little bit of hold he had on his sanity and rips a new anchor’s spinal cord out of his back and then delivers a lengthy monologue about his desire to subjugate humanity. It’s one of the most awesome scenes of the whole show. I don’t know what it is but the site of Russell holding someone’s spinal cord and giving a crazy speech is just hilarious. Eric is given the duty of killing Russel by a mysterious vampire organization known as the Authority, but since Russell is 2,000 years older than him (and vampire strength is related to age), it’s basically a death sentence. We also get more of Sookie being a fairy but I’m going to go “NA NA NA I’M NOT LISTENING” to that incredibly stupid storyline.

Back in Bon Temps, we finally discover just what Crystal Norris, Jason’s new girlfriend, is. She’s a were-panther as are her clan of incestual red-neck meth dealers up in Hotshot. We’re also introduced to a mysterious woman named Holly, who turns out to be a Wiccan. Franklin makes his return to terrorize Tara, but Jason puts an end to him with wooden bullets. I’ll kind of his miss his crazy creepiness yet dark hilarity. We begin to see a darker side of Sam who nearly beats a man to death in his bar, and we get flashbacks that show him as some sort of Sawyer-esque (Lost) con man. I think this twist might be a little out of character for Sam, and for now, I’m against it. My dad says they continue to take him to an even darker place, and I really don’t like it. Lafayette and his mother’s caretaker Jesus have officially started dating, and it’s revealed that he’s a witch when they go on this weird acid trip sequence with vampire blood. It was super weird but it was pretty funny too.

Denis O’Hare has become one of the best psychopathic villains on TV in a really long time. He’s going full Patrick Bateman during this stretch as Russell and it’s just glorious. He’s ripping people’s spines out, carrying around a giant urn full of his lover’s intestines and blood, and staking prostitutes after having them pretend their his dead lover. True Blood is a fantasy melodrama first and foremost, but it is also a pitch black dark comedy at times, and Denis O’Hare gives the show that touch that it was missing. I really hope he at least gets nominated for some Emmy’s and Golden Globes for his performance.

The new season premieres next month. I’m pretty excited for it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve read most of the books, and book 4 is easily the best book in the series (that I’ve read). It’s actually heavily plot-focused (by Charlaine Harris) standards, and there’s a lot of Eric Northman. I honestly don’t know what shows I’m going to start reviewing once I’ve finished up True Blood and the rest of the Glee I have left, which isn’t very much. I might try Sons of Anarchy. My dad and the rest of my family are big fans so there’s a chance I might enjoy it. It’s probably either going to be Sons of Anarchy, Treme, or maybe Dexter. I know at some point this summer my sister and I will be watching the complete series of both Buffy and Angel, and my dad wants to watch Dr. Who. It should be good times no matter what I choose.

Score in Progress: B+

 SPOILER ALERTS

One of the things that True Blood the show does really well is that it incorporates certain aspects of the books into the series well before they should have appeared if they were strictly following the books continuity. Season 2 brought Bill’s maker, Lorena, in and made her an actually developed character instead of just being some ex of Bill’s that Sookie puts a stake through in Club Dead. We actually see the Queen of Louisiana (Evan Rachel Woods) long before she should have made her first actual appearance. There are definite hints at the presence of werewolves before we see the first one. And season 3 brought about the shifter community living outside of Bon Temps. However, there was one plot (which I’ll get to in this post) that isn’t revealed to far later in the series, and I was extremely disappointed to see it show up on the show since that was the moment the books “jumped the shark” for me and I could no longer continue to read them. I hope it doesn’t ruin the show as well.

Russell Edgington has discovered that Sookie is in Mississippi and that the Queen of Louisiana has taken a special interest in her (and possibly is the reason Bill went to Bon Temps in the first place). He takes Sookie captive and orders that Lorena kill Bill. Thanks to the help of Tara (who is being held captive by Franklin who is in love with her and extraordinarily creepy), Sookie is able to escape and free Bill and stake Lorena in the process. However, things don’t go entirely smoothly as Bill nearly kills Sookie as he feeds on her trying to regain his strength (the show left the part out from the books where he brutally raped her). And (in a moment that extremely pisses me off) Sookie, in a coma in a hospital, dreams of Claudine who is her fairy godmother which means the revelation that Sookie is part fairy is soon around the corner. It’s so dumb. This is a dark and violent show full of sex, blood, and gore. Fairies are not welcome. I am firmly against this plot twist.

Back in Bon Temps, Sam has discovered this his birth parents force his younger brother to compete in dog fights as a way to make money (since they’re shifters). Sam finally cuts off all ties with his family and takes his brother in. Lafayette has a new-found love interest in Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) who is his mother’s care-taker at her nursing home. Jason has finally got to join the police department and delivers some much needed comic relief. Jason is consistently the funniest (and dumbest) character on the show. We also meet his future (I assume) girlfriend, Crystal Norris, who is part of said shifter community up in Hotshot, Louisiana. Russell Edgington has also consolidated all vampire power in Mississippi and Louisiana into his hands by forcing Louisiana’s Queen to marry him and abdicate her power to him. He has also murdered the Magister (Zeljko Ivanek) to further solidify his power base.

I just want to go off on a little tangent about all of the scenes between Tara and Franklin. While Franklin is just about the creepiest character on the show and can be absolutely terrifying when he wants to be, there was something about his temper tantrums any time that Tara wanted to leave him that were just darkly comic and gut-bustingly hilarious. Maybe, I have a sick sense of humor, but knowing Alan Ball, I’m fairly certain that was all meant to be really funny, and boy, it was. It was a nice respite from the ridiculous amounts of gore in these episodes. The scenes where Lorena was torturing Bill were so bloody that I could barely watch them, and I am a veteran of countless horror films and violent video games. It was just all very intense. Tara taking the morningstar to Franklin’s head was just graphic and then some. You could easily say the same thing for Lorena’s death. If you had an appetite for blood , then these were the episodes for you.

I am so thankful that the slow start of the season was just a red herring. This season has turned out to be just as entertaining as season 2 and definitely better than season 1. If you like violent shows with tons of sex, romance, and drama thrown in for good measure, then True Blood is perfect for you. The writing isn’t Shakespeare but I don’t want all my shows to tickle my brain. Sometimes, I just want to shut my brain off, relax, and enjoy a good-old fashioned melodrama. I really wish that they had waited til much later (and preferably never) to bring up that Sookie is a fairy, but maybe they’ll do that storyline better than the books did. I’m not sure if you can do fairies well, but we’ll see.

 Score in Progress: B+

SPOILER ALERTS

The Christmas after the first season of True Blood ended, my father bought me the complete set of the Southern Vampire Mystery novels, which are the books that the True Blood TV series is based off. Each season of the show has been a loose adaptation of the books. Since each book is between 150-200 pages along with a decent enough plot strung along to allow Charlaine Harris to ship Sookie with as many possible romantic partneres as possible, it was essential that the show expand the plots and characters from the books. With that in mind, True Blood the show proved to be a far superior product compared to the books that spawned them, a rare accomplishment indeed.

I had complained that the first two episodes of the season didn’t really feel like they were going anywhere, and I can happily report that the next two episodes saw the series re-hitting some of its creative strides from Season 2. Bill remains abducted by the King of Mississippi, Russell Edginton, but out of a desire to protect Sookie from harm, he has pledged his fealty to Russell in return for Sookie’s safety. With assistance from Eric Northman, Sookie has enlisted the help of werewolf Alicde Herveaux, in an attempt to find and rescue Bill. However, Bill has contacted Sookie informing her that he does not wish to be found and breaks up with her (as a way to protect her). Despite this, Sookie throws herself headfirst into the werewolf community of Mississippi trying to find Bill and discovers a pack of werewolf bikers who are servants of Russell Edgington because he supplies them with the powerful drug that is vampire blood.

 

The strength of the show in relation to the novel is the show’s greatly expanded cast, and while the main thrust of the story is always dependent on the relationships and actions of Sookie, there is still an entire town of people to help fill out the hour long nature of the show. My favorite character on the show is Lafayette Reynolds, the gay drug-dealer, prostitute, fry cook, and road worker, and he has been made Eric Northman’s chief distributor of vampire blood in the Louisiana area. Jason Stackhouse has decided that it is his destiny to be a police officer since he killed Eggs last season and helped stop a meth dealer this season. Sookie’s best friend, Tara Thornton, has been seduced and ultimately kidnapped by a mysterious vampire named Franklin Talbott who works for Russell Edginton and is searching for information about Bill. Sam Merlotte is still discovering just how unsavory and untrustworthy his birth family is.

 The thing that helps to set True Blood apart from other romance/vampire pieces like Twilight is the darker and morally ambiguous nature of the show, which is no better represented than by Bill Compton. Bill is a consummately tragic figure, and any episode that explores his backstory and early days as a vampire are always great. He has so much more depth and nuance than Edward Cullen or Anne Rice’s Lestat could ever have. While in the books I am firmly on Team Eric, the show makes Bill a much more interesting and compelling character. Stephen Moyer fills his performance with a quiet emotion and intensity that really invests you in Bill emotionally. The show consistently refrains from making Bill quite too heroic though, and you are forced to see him in moments of great violence and depravity. The sex scene between him and his maker in the third episode is one of the most disturbing sex scenes I’ve seen since Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rosselini in Blue Velvet.

 I’ll finish this blog up but I wanted to give another shout-out to Denis O’Hare’s performance as Russell Edginton. I can’t remember such a bad-ass and dangerous gay character since The Wire’s Omar (although Russell will never be as awesome as Omar). He plays him as an old queen who will argue with his boyfriend about ancient antique carpets and then just as quickly viciously murder you. It’s fantastic. I’m glad the show picked up the quality so noticeable in the space of two episodes. Hopefully the rest of season 3 can maintain this level of fun and entertainment.

 Score in Progress: B+

*SPOILER ALERTS*

One of my favorite shows to air on HBO was Alan Ball’s classic dark comedy Six Feet Under. A couple of years ago, I read that he was turning a series of vampire books into his first project since Six Feet Under went off the air. It didn’t really strike me as the kind of project that I would associate with the man who was responsible for writing the script for American Beauty. Yet, I gave the show a shot, and while it will never be a show that I consider great, it’s a fun descent into a TV fantasy that feature’s Ball’s darkly comic tone mixed with a healthy dose of sex and graphic violence. The fourth season airs this June, and since I never watched the third season when it aired, I thought there was no better time than now to catch the stuff I missed.

Season 3 picks up literally seconds after the end of season 2. Bill Compton has just proposed to Sookie Stackhouse, but he’s been kidnapped by the vampire King of Mississippi, Russel Edginton, and his crew of werewolves. The town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, is recovering from the destruction wrought by Maryann, a maenad. Jason Stackhouse is dealing with the stress and guilt he feels for shooting Eggs, Tara Thornton’s boyfriend. Tara is suicidal and in the throes of depression at the death of her boyfriend and the revelation that he had murdered many girls in town. Sam Merlotte has headed off to find his birth family who turn out to be a bunch of white trash rednecks. Sookie enlists the help of the Vampire Sheriff of her area, Eric Northman, so that he can help her find Bill.

The first season was a fun distraction while I waited for my regular shows like Lost and The Wire to come back on. Season 2 was actually a significantly better product as it widened the scope and dramatic thrust of the series. I’m way too early into this season to guess anything about the overall quality of the season, but I’m not going to lie, these first two episodes were sort of disappointing. I didn’t really feel like a whole lot happened and there wasn’t any major development of the characters. It mostly consisted of Sookie running around like a cat in heat trying to find Bill. Sookie’s strength as a character is that she is such a powerful and usually independent woman. Having her seem so broken at the loss of her man is an insult to her character and to feminism. The only perks fo the episodes involved Jason Stackhouse and his usual whoring and hilarity and the scenes with the always refreshing Lafayette Reynolds, the gay fry cook at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill.

HBO shows have a lot less episodes per disc than the average TV show. Lost would have 4 episodes a disc. True Blood is never going to have more than three, but it will just as often be two. This would be good for a show like The Wire or The Sopranos where each episode would have an incredible amount of material to cover. I’m not so sure how well it’s going to work out for True Blood, but we shall see. Anyways, I’ll be back later with the next two episodes of the series and hopefully, it’s able to get out of the gates a little stronger than this less than impressive beginning.

Score in Progress: B

Forget Twilight. Forget  True Blood, and forget Anne Rice (I can now see hordes of rabid Anne Rice fans wanting my head on a platter for putting her work in the same category as those other pieces). If you want a thought-provoking, artistic, and downright beautiful film about a vampire, you need look no further than what is easily and single-handedly the greatest vampire film ever made. I am, of course, referring to 2008’s Let the Right One In, an import from Sweden and a film that makes you thankful we live in an age where it’s simple to have access to great foreign cinema.

Let the Right One In follows the tale of 12 year old Oskar, a boy who lives with his mother in a small apartment in Sweden. Oskar is viciously bullied at school and is not, generally, of the healthiest mental state, as he has an unnatural pre-occupation with grisly murders and acts out revenge fantasies against his tormenters at home with a knife. Eli (played in one of the best children performances that I can think of by Lina Leandersson) is a girl that has moved in next door to Oskar who is hiding a large secret. She’s a vampire. What follows is one of the most heart-breaking and sincere tales of childhood, loss, one’s first love, and growing up that I can possibly think of. While this is a horror film about a vampire, more than anything else this is a film about what it means to be a child and to love, and those themes mixed with the dark and horrific nature of the vampire tale leads to easily one of the best horror films of all time.

I can’t begin to say enough good things about Lina Leandersson’s performance as Eli. Her stage presence and natural delivery skills (as far as I can posit from a performance in a language I don’t speak) are absolutely astounding. I really hope that she is a future huge star in her homeland. Her performance ranks among the all-time great performances by a non-adult like Anna Paquin in The Piano, Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, or Haley Joel Osment in A.I. or The Sixth Sense. The same can’t be said for Oskar’s actor but anyone would look less than stellar compared to the performance of Eli.

The only thing keeping this film from perfection for me are the scenes that don’t focus on Eli and Oskar’s relationship. They distract from that beautiful tale and are unnecessary at enforcing the major themes of the film. That’s probably one area in which the recent American remake Let Me In actually succeeds more than this one. Really, I can’t think of a single type of person that I can’t recommend this movie to. It’s dark and atmospheric for the people who prefer that, but it also tells a hauntingly beautiful take of love and loss as well.

Final Score: A

The Lost Boys

There’s a certain paradox in my tastes in movies. I adore art-house films and things that can be described as thinking-man movies. My favorite movie of the 2000’s was There Will Be Blood, a slow-moving character drama that played out like a Tolstoy novel on film. Yet, if a crowd-pleasing popcorn film is well-made and genuinely entertaining, I have no qualms in admitting that I enjoy them as well. A movie doesn’t have to make me think or look at life in new ways in order to be entertaining, and I think that is something film snobs often forget. With that in mind, I just watched The Lost Boys for the first time since, I believe, middle school and it was an entertaining nostalgic thrill rider back to the ridiculous excess of the 1980’s.

The film’s plot is pretty simple. Corey Haim and Jason Patric have moved to a new town that is crawling with vampires. Jason Patric gets involved with a vampire biker gang led by Kiefer Sutherland, and he starts to turn into one. It’s up to Corey Haim and the Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and an actor I’m not familiar with) to fight off the forces of evil and save Jason Patric along with Jami Gertz, another local who is being turned into a vampire. What makes the film the cult classic that it has become is the fact that it seems like a perfectly encapsulated bit of 80’s Americana in the way it captures so much of what made the 80’s the 80’s from the fashion to the soundtrack to other little things that let you know this is from the Reagan Era.

I’m not saying this is one of the best movies ever made, but there’s a reason this film’s popularity continues long after the 80’s have finished. If you like vampire movies or campy teen horror flicks, check it out. I’m honestly surprised I enjoyed this film as I did since it’s a Joel Schumacher movie and he managed to single-handedly nearly destroy the Batman franchise. It’s not a perfect movie and I don’t even know if I would call it a great movie. But it’s entertaining and sometimes isn’t that enough?

Final Score: B