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Dragonslayer (1981) – To This Day, Still One Of My Favourite Movie Dragon Designs

DragonslayerPoster1981’s movie, Dragonslayer, blew my twelve year old mind when I fist sat through this movie with my good friend, Robin. Now, 23 years later, I am still liking this movie.

Staring Peter MacNicol (better known to some as the short, curly haired lawyer, John Cage, from the TV show Ally McBeal), as Galen Bradwarden, a young apprentice of the Wizard, Ulrich of Craggenmoor (Ralph Richardson), who takes up the Wizard’s quest to slay the Dragon, Vermithrax Pejorative, after Ulrich is apparently killed while proving a point by brutish henchman Tyrian, right hand of King Casiodorus (Peter Eyre). Ulrich had just accepted the task of killing the Dragon when a delegation of peasants approached him asking for his help. Kind Casiodorus had implemented a lottery, offering up a female virgin each year to appease the beast. The people have had enough of the Lottery and living under the fear of the Dragon, and are at their wits end. Now seeing their hopes die almost immediately, with the death of Ulrich, they head back to their town. Soon, though, they are joined by Galen, who has just inherited the Wizard’s magic amulet, who states that he will take up his former Master’s task and slay the Dragon himself. Along the way he risks strong resistance from the King, who believes his lottery system is best for his people, and is temporarily jailed so as not to meddle with the lottery. It’s not until the King’s own daughter is in jeopardy that the King releases Galen in the hopes Galen can actually end the Dragon menace. Along the journey, Galen discovers one of their party is not what they seem (no, not a traitor)…

So, this early 190’s fantasy film still looks beautiful (not something that most movies with special effects from that era can say), and is still interesting. As stated in the title of the review/write up, the Dragon in this movie is still one of my favourite designs of a Dragon in movies, ever. Maybe it’s second to Smaug, now, though I’ll decide that after the third and final Hobbit movie. Still, this movie, in my opinion, still hold up well. I heartily suggest this as a must watch for any fan of the Fantasy genre.


Films That Were Hated By Their Stars – IMDb

Not sure what search got me to this link on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), but I got there nonetheless. Here is an interesting list of movies that were hated by their star.

Poll: Films their stars disliked – IMDb – IMDb.


Vampire Week Movie 7 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – Full Circle

DracposSo, here we are, with the seventh and last movie of our Vampire movie week. With this movie, 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we have in a away returned to the beginning. Our first movie of our Vampire week, 1979’s Dracula starring Frank Langella, and tonight’s movie, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), are both retellings of the classic Dracula story.

Starring the great Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, and taking place primarily in 1897 (with some important scenes happening in 1462). Count Dracula has decided to purchase several properties in London, England and his case has been handed to a new solicitor (like a lawyer), Jonathan Harker (played by Keanu Reeves, with the absolutely worse English accent I have heard in I don’t know how long). Harker has taken on Dracula’s portfolio from a Mr Renfield (played extremely well by Tom Waits), who has since gone completely insane. Harker must travel to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula to discuss his plan to purchase Carfax Abbey. Once in the hands of Dracula, he soon finds that he is a prisoner. While there are some perks (there are some pretty sexy vampire chicks), he escapes, a changed man, and heads back to London. Dracula, himself changed from a decrepit, creepy old man, to a now dashing young gentleman, has put a spell on Harker’s fiancé, Mina (played by Winona Rider who also struggles with her accent… though nothing like Keanu’s). Oh… He also seduces, rapes and drains Lucy, Mina’s friend. Yeah, this is Dracula – he does stuff like that. Enter Van Helsing, (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins) everybody’s favourite Vampire hunter.

Okay – this is the classic Dracula story, retold in 1992 with a good cast and a big budget. Director Francis Ford Coppola did a good job bringing the story back to the screen in this very watchable retelling. Is it better than the 1979 version? I wouldn’t say so, but it is good enough to watch and enjoy. Also, it’s good enough to forgive that awful accent of Reeve’s. Check out the trailer below:


Vampire Week Movie 6–Martin (1976) – Is He or Isn’t He?

MartinfilmposterGeorge A. Romero’s 1976 (or 1977 or even 1978 depending on your source), film, Martin, tells the tale of a man, Martin, who may or may not be a vampire…

Martin is a weird film. John Amplas played the title role, a weird, young looking man who has come to live with his great uncle, Tateh Cuda, an Old World Man who accuses Martin of being a Vampire – referring to him as Nosferatu. It doesn’t help that in the opening minutes of the film, we witness Martin drug, rape and bleed a woman on the train he took to get to said Uncle’s house. Once at the house, his uncle instructs Martin forcefully not to speak to Christine (a cousin I believe), and then goes about trying various traditional Vampire repellents (you know, like garlic and crucifixes), but Martin let’s him know that there’s no real magic. Martin starts working at Tateh’s butcher shop and meets local women while making deliveries – these woman later become his victims (or meals, if you will). One of these women eventually becomes Martin’s lover (she’s cheating on her husband). She finds herself attracted to Martin’s quietness, and lack of opinions and judgements. Martin, at first, runs from her advances, but after talking over the phone (and on air), with a local late night DJ, he decides to give into her advances. At the same time, while speaking to the DJ, he tries to remove the mystery from Vampirism . The DJ’s audience just eats this stuff up, and Martin is a hit. Martin’s relationship with this woman changes his feeding habits, and the fact that his uncle forbade him from feeding on anyone from their already dying town, so he soon finds himself in Pittsburgh looking for victims. There he manages to feed well, but took chances  that almost got him caught twice. Sated, he returns home only to find his love interest has taken her own life. And that event triggers… another major event.

So we have a guy that may or may not be a vampire who is becoming a bit of an anonymous pop icon, sleeping with a local, married woman, living in a home with a Great Uncle who is trying to ward you off, as he is convinced Martin is none other than Nosferatu.  This is pretty interesting stuff here and it’s all put together by one of the Horror genre’s greats, George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, anyone?). You never really know if you’re watching a vampire or just a crazy guy who believes he’s a vampire. We see scenes in black and white of events that would have to happen a long time in the past, but we’re never told whether or not these are Martin’s memories or figments of his imagination. Add that to the fact that he tells Christine, in passing, that he is 84 years old. What… What is going on here. A good movie – that, my friends, is what is going on here.

Check out the trailer below, and if you get a chance, check out the movie too.


Vampire Week Movie 5 – Shadow of the Vampire (2000)–The Troubles of Casting a Vampire – In Your Vampire Movie

ShadowoftheVampireposterSet during the shooting of the iconic 1922 Vampire film, Nosferatu, Shadow of the Vampire tells the tale of the dangers that can face you when you look for too much realism in your films. Staring John Malkovich as famous German Director, Frederich Wilhelm Murnau, during his filming of the above mentioned Nosferatu. Taking his cast and crew to film on location in Czechoslovakia, where he instroduces the rest of the crew to the star of the film, Max Schreck, whom, Murnau explains, will be in character for the entire time of the filming, and will only be seen at night. Schreck is played masterfully by Willem Dafoe. When members of the crew start to disappear, we see interesting back and forth  between Murnau and the Vampire, in which we find out that Murnau has made a very interesting and questionable bargain with the Vampire: His good behaviour for the life of one of his cast. Shame it’s so difficult to deal with the undead. 

Shadow of the Vampire puts a new twist to the Vampire movie: it’s a movie about the making of a vampire movie – wherein the Director of said movie chose to hire a real Vampire to play the title role. The cast is composed of a lot of “A” Listers and they all do an amazing job in this unusual film. The story is gripping, and the switch between regular filming, and the representation of what Murnau is capturing on his cameras is a great way to capture the dualism of the story. After watching this, I was compelled to watch the original, 1922 Nosferatu the very next day. If you enjoy horror movies, plot twists and damn good acting then you owe it to yourself to watch this film. Check out the trailer below:


Vampire Week Movie 3 – 30 Days of Night (2007)

30_Days_of_Night_teaser_posterSo this week is turning out to be pretty good week for movie watching for me. Three days in and so far three good movies!

30 Days of Night tells the tale of a Vampire outbreak in the little Alaskan town of Barrow, during the 30 day polar Night (in the Arctic, there is a period each Winter where the sun sets and does not rise again for 30 days, due to the axial tilt of the planet Earth). A great time for light fearing creatures of the night. Just before the beginning of the long night, strange things start to happen. Peoples cell phones are going missing, and all means of escape from town are either vandalized or destroyed (including dog sled). Once the night hits, it gets weirder when the town’s power is cut. Investigating, the Sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett), discovers that the crew at the power plant have been brutally murdered and the plant vandalized. You see, the Vampires have planned for this night… This is going to be a gory, un-dead versus the unsuspecting soft, humans. Of course there is the hiding to stay safe while one by one the survivors numbers shrink situation – like there is in almost all these movies.

These are dark, dirty, evil vampires. They seem much closer to a complete, separate species than just turned, ancient humans. That said, these Vampires can turn humans into Vampires also, but I did get the feeling that some of them may have been old, greasy dirty powerful killer hominids. I thought it was an interesting take (especially the use of a separate Vampire language). This is not a perfect movie, but it is an enjoyable, action and gore filled bloodfest that I thoroughly enjoyed. Have I seen better Vampire movies? Sure, but I would watch this again and not feel like I wasted my time. Check out the trailer below and decide for yourself if this movie is for you:


Suspiria (1977)–Witchy Italian Movie Weirdness at an German Ballet Academy

SuspiriaItalySuspiria is a 1977 horror movie directed by the Italian master, Dario Argento, and the fist of a trilogy of horror. And it’s weird… and loud.

Suspiria tells the story of America ballet dance student, Suzy Bannion who takes up study at a prestigious dance study in Germany, but quickly discovers that things are not what they may seem.  Upon arriving at the school on a ridiculously rainy night, only to see an upset girl fleeing and mumbling something about a secret and a flower – and then to be refused entrance. Next we see a girl die in an artistically weird stabbing… The next day Suzy manages to get to the school, meets Madame Blanc and Miss Tanner, and is shown around the school and introduced to the girls in the locker room. Suzy is told that the room she was to stay in is not ready and that she will stay with another student for the time being. At the school, Suzy has a fainting spell (after a weird encounter with the school’s cook)… later she seems okay…

Alright: All I am doing is describing what happened in the movie – and that is a silly thing to do. It’s al artistic Italian Horror by the master Dario Argento and it is about a Ballet School run by witches…

Argento manages to create a creepy, artistic weird horror flick of sorts that keeps you watching. The strong uses of colour is very jarring as well as is the cacophonous soundtrack which built up so much tension in me that I almost felt nauseous. Seriously, I have never had a soundtrack for a film affect me so… and it was loud. This is a trippy experience of a film and definitely bot for everyone. If you have an open mind (and not overly sensitive ears)  , then this will be a memorable watch. Will you like it? Many won’t – I did, but with reservations. You check it out and tell me what you think. Here’s the trailer: