Photos From The 2014, 4th Annual Calgary Horror Con
Vampire Week Movie 7 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – Full Circle
So, 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?
George 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
Set 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 2 – Near Dark (1987)
You like bad ass vampires? Then you will like 1987’s Near Dark.
A gritty, dark Vampire movie that tells the tale of Caleb Colson (Adrian Pasdar), a small town young man who meets an attractive woman one night and offers her a ride home one late night. Along t he way, insisting on a kiss from her before he drives her home. She kisses him, but also leaves him with a bite on his neck, shortly before she jumps out of his truck and takes off running (home, I guess).
Soon Caleb is struggling , stumbling home in the early daylight hours, smoke billowing from his exposed skin. Spotted by his little sister and father before he arrives at their home, all of a sudden a blacked out recreational vehicle (and RV) drives up and someone quickly scoops him up. Who’s inside the RV but a bunch of bad ass vampires, debating on how to kill Caleb… until the girl that bit him reveals that while she bit him, she did not bleed him, meaning that he too, is now a Vampire, and pleads for his life. They vamps decide to give him a little time to prove himself. Unfortunately he’s not a killer at heart and has trouble doing the deeds that a Vampire must do. The girl that turned him feeds him to keep him alive, though this is something that cannot go on… Failing test after test, the other Vampires want to get rid of Caleb, though he does manage to buy himself a little time by orchestrating a daring escape while the crew of Vamps are holed up and under fire from the police. An incident later leaves Caleb with a decision between the Vampires and his own family… A choice Caleb has no real trouble deciding. Of course the Vampires won’t let someone leave quietly, right?
This is a dam fine Vampire movie. Unfortunately whit was released around the time of the Lost Boys (also a good Vampire movie – but not as good), and did poorly at the box office, despite good reviews. Great performances from leathery tough guy, Lance Henriksen and then up and comer Bill Paxton are just the cherry on the top. If you haven’t seen this movie (and are into Vampire movies), then you must, and if it’s been a while since you have seen it, then it deserves a re-watch.
Check out the trailer below:
Vampire Week–Day 1: Dracula (1979)
There are a lot of movies about Dracula and Vampires over the years and many if not most are pretty damned crappy. Well it is my pleasure to say that the 1979 release of Dracula is a great telling of the Dracula story.
Staring staring Frank Langella in the title role of Dracula, the movie tells the story of the infamous count after relocating to Victorian England. Shipwrecked on the shores of the town he was moving to, Dracula is found on the shore by Mina Van Helsing (portrayed by Jan Francis). Later, to thank Mina for saving his life, Dracula visits the house of Doctor Jack Seward (Donald Pleasance), where Mina is staying while visiting the Doctor’s daughter, Lucy Seward (Kate Nelligan). While visiting Mina has a spell, and while Doctor Seward is quick to suggest a dose of Laudanum, the Count suggests he try to help her, and quickly puts Mina under a hypnotic spell. While under, he commands that she listens to him, and tells her she’ll fell no pain upon waking. Releasing her from the trance, Mina wakes feeling fantastic. Later that night, while Lucy and her lover (and Dracula’s lawyer), Jonathan Harker (Trevor Eve) are fooling around, Dracula appears to Mina in her room, revealing himself to be that Vampire that he is, and drains her of her blood. The following morning Mina passes away while struggling for breath. While everyone is upset, Mina was known to be sickly. Doctor Seward calls for Mina’s Father, Professor Abraham Van Helsing (the great Sir Laurence Olivier), so as to attend her funeral. Upon arriving, Doctor Seward fills in Professor Van Helsing on the nature of his daughter’s death – a great loss of blood. Investigating, Van Helsing starts to suspect a Vampire is the culprit in his death, and does his best to convince Doctor Seward and Jonathan of this also. Meanwhile, Dracula is now casting his spell on Jonathan’s love interest and Doctor Seward’s daughter, Lucy.
Well, I just realized that if I continue as I was above, I would just tell you the entire movie and there would be no need for you to watch it (yeah, right – I don’t write that well). So let me say that I have no problem saying that I think that this is one of the best re-telling of the classic Dracula story. Frank Langella is masterful in his portrayal of the Count. In fact all the actors do a great job in all their roles. Director John Badham does a great job creating moods through lighting and colour – just fantastic.
I think you get the point: I like this movie. Check out the trailer below, and then go find a copy on Blu-ray (or whatever you watch movies on in your dwelling).
Halloween 6 The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)–Why Did This Have to Be Your Last Film Mr. Pleasence?
Let’s get this straight: 1978’s Halloween was a seminal, ground breaking film in the Slasher/Horror genre. Let’s get another thing straight: Halloween 6 The Curse of Michael Meyer is not.
Obviously looking at cashing in on the already tired Halloween franchise, this one puts the blame for Michael of some ancient curse/alignment of the stars that only happens on certain Halloween’s.
This movie sucks. They brought back the usually great Donald Pleasence, who seems frail and weak in this film – heck he passed away very shortly after completing this film, and it also stars a young Paul Rudd. Unfortunately they couldn’t secure Daniel Harris to revise her role as Jamie from the two Halloween movies prior to this one – She was too smart and they were too cheap to pay her.
You know, I could tell you more about the actual movie but I won’t waste you or my time doing so. Let me just say that your time would be better spent watching any number of other movies… Check out the original Halloween or even Rob Zombie’s remake.
This movie is boring.
Bounty Killer (2013)–A Silly But Entertaining Homage to Corman Films
2013’s Bounty Killer has been touring the movie circuit (recentlyplay at Edmonton Alberta’s Dedfest), and having recently watched it, I thought I should tell you a little about it.
Starring Christian Pitre as Mary Death and Mathew Marsden as Drifter, two Bounty Killers competing for fame and fortune in a post apocalyptic world. Like bounty hunters of today, but always bringing in their bounty dead (simpler that way). They’re pretty much against the establishment – until the establishment is destroyed by a giant Company – then they join forces to kick some corporate butt.
Oh, and there’s some personal history between Drifter and Mary Death
This feels like someone put a whole bunch of Roger Corman ideas in a blender and came up with a modern version of something that would be at home at a 1970’s drive in theatre. This is not a good movie but it is a sure a fun movie.
Don’t watch it expecting as serious film – watch it expecting something ridiculous and you will not be disappointed.
Check out the trailer below:
Calgary Horror Con 2013 Was Amazing!!!
Thank you to everyone that made the Calgary Horror Convention an AMAZING event. A fantastic lineup of guests, including a reunion of the cast from the fantastic 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead: Bill Moseley, Tom Savini, Patricia Tallman and Tony Todd,
Remake Week Movie #5 – Fright Night (2011)
We decided to take on the 2011 remake of the 1985 classic Vampire film, Fright Night last night and were not disappointed.
Fright Night tells the story of Charley Brewster (played by Anton Yelchin, now famous as Chekov from the Star Trek reboot) a teenager living in the suburbs of Las Vegas. Charley discovers that his neighbour, Jerry Dandrige (played by Colin Farrell) is actually a Vampire and must defeat him to save his family and friends.
Initially Charley just thinks Jerry is a normal guy that just moved in next door – that is until former best friend, Ed (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) opens his eyes to what is going on around him. Ed and Charley have become distanced and do not hang out any more, but Ed blackmails Charley to come with him to one of there mutual friend’s place to check on him as he seems to have disappeared without a trace. When they get there they find no trace of either their friend or family. It is here where Ed reveals that Charley’s new neighbour is a Vampire – something that Charley refuses to believe. Events at home, between himself and Jerry change his mind when Jerry asks him if he could borrow some beer for an upcoming liaison between himself and a girl – Charley obliges, and notices that Jerry cannot go past the threshold of his open door… Everyone knows a vampire cannot enter a home without being invited.
Soon things ramp up, and Jerry, being a Vampire starts feeding more and more and more people that Charley knows start disappearing. Jerry discovers that Charley has learned his secret and tries to get to Charley and his family, in any way possible. Charley seeks the help of a world famous occult/vampire hunter/Vegas Magician guy, Peter Vincent (played by David Tennant who at first just kicks him out, but eventually looks over a pile of information Charley left behind and realizes Charley is dealing with a real Vampire and decides to help… well, is forced to help when Jerry forces his hand. A note: in the original Fright Night, this character was played by the late and very great Roddy McDowall, and was the host of a late night horror movie show.
What follows is an action packed human’s versus Vampires battle(s) that is actually quite entertaining. There’s a cool battle between Charlie and former buddy, now turned Vampire Ed that in a way made me sympathetic to Ed. The final battle between Charley, Jerry and Jerry’s new brood of freshly changed Vampires is exciting and in a way pays homage to the original.
Is this better than the original? Oh, hell no. Is this movie good? Oh, yes. I found it a fun, entertaining Vampire movie and would not hesitate to recommend it as a watch.
Check out the trailer:
Remake Week Movie #1–Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
Call me a heretic or call me crazy, but I like this remake better than the original.
In 2007 Rob Zombie released his remake of the classic, influential 1978 Slasher-Horror film, Halloween. The original starred an unknown actress by the name of Jamie Lee Curtis and the better known Donald Pleasence. Both movies tell the story of Michael Myers – a child who killed his family when he was 10 – now 16 years later, he’s escaped the criminal asylum where he has been held… HE’s heading back home to find his last remaining family member, his sister – oh, and he’s racking up a big body count along the way.
Rob Zombie kept true to the original story, but in my mind created a much more watchable movie. I’m sure much of that is due to the time that has passed since the original was released – hindsight is 20-20 they say.
Now, don’t get me wrong: while I thing the remake is a better movie, I still like the original, and without a doubt the original is a much more important movie – Just not as well made. I feel that the family background of Michael is more fleshed out in the remake, and the acting doesn’t seem as forced… Except in the case of Sheri Moon Zombie’s portrayal of Deborah Myers, Michael’s mother – Sheri can’t act and I really hope Rob Zombie figure this out soon. The always great Malcolm McDowell plays the role of Dr. Samuel Loomis, the role originally played by the late, great Donald Pleasence.
So, as remakes go I say this is definitely a good one. I watched the original and this remake back to back – a fun way to compare.
What do you think?
Here is the Trailer:
And here is the trailer to the original: