Wednesday, April 16, 2014
First Published: 2013
The Blurb: There's a murderer loose in Greystones, a small estuary village tucked against the wintry, wooded trails of O'Halloran Hill. The gory body count begins to rise, sending the media into an all-out feeding frenzy. The village is swamped with police and onlookers, and everybody wants to catch 'The Vampire Killer'.
While the hunt is on James Stixx and his partner-in-crime, Faye Burns discover that beneath the surface is a whole different story, a mystery that goes back decades. The teenagers find everyone has something to lose, or secrets to bury.
And all the while the vampire is waiting ... choosing its moment to strike...
The review: You should never judge a book by its cover, so they say, but can we take a moment to revel in the glory that is the cover of Stixx. A cracking piece of cover art that totally sells the book to me.
The book itself is a piece of crime fiction set in the English countryside, a rural landscape that is haunted by lumbering shells of derelict buildings as sepulchre as a tomb. Winter beaches, uninviting woodlands and fields on which there is no place to hide. In this bleak, winter scene we are witness to a double murder and the killer seems to be a vampire. This is not the suave vampire flitted out of some City goth club and wintering out in the sticks. Nor is it a cloaked member of the gentry, using his mesmeric gaze to trap the fluttering heart of a damsel. The vampire is naked and a ruthless killer and the police can’t seem to catch him.
In this village lives Stixx and he has just met Faye Burns who has recently moved to the village (and has a boyfriend overseas). They begin to try and investigate the attacks but what was great about the primary characters was just how damaged they all were. Stixx works a dead end job (though he may have just lost it), is known to the police due to a bad habit he used to have of setting fires and is a small time drug dealer. Faye has massive psychiatric issues – stemming from her dad having a psychotic break and cutting her twin sister into pieces. Porter writes a great character as they are damaged, sometimes petty, but you still sympathise with them.
Is it a vampire – now that really is a spoiler too far though certainly there is belief that a vampire is out there. I will say that there is a deeper plot aspect, a dark mystery at the heart of village life that, if I had a complaint, seemed just a tad convoluted. However that is a minor issue as the story certainly did keep me with it, but it is those characters that really hook you.
Not a heartthrob vampire, a Count or an angst-ridden vampire in sight, rather a ruthless monster and a novel that is definitely worth your time. 8 out of 10.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Director: Hollingsworth Morse
First aired: 1965
I must admit that I was unaware of the series McHale’s Navy. As I settled down to watch this vampire orientated episode from the third season that fact left me at somewhat of a disadvantage, I think, and I came away with the impression that it was essentially Bilko at sea (or at a naval base at the very least). I wasn’t far wrong.
From what I gather McHale’s Navy started off as a drama (with comedic elements) in its original pilot form with Ernest Borgnine playing Lt. Commander Quinton McHale one of 18 survivors of a Japanese attack during World War 2 and their struggle against a Lieutenant parachuted in to get them up and running as a fighting force, as they had gone native and were content to just try and survive the rest of the war on the island. However, when it became a syndicated series it was under the producer, Edward J. Montagne, who had been behind the Phil Silver’s Show - making it Bilko in the navy (but in war rather than peacetime).
|Benson and Parker|
|Ernest Borgnine is McHale|
|our fake Vampire|
|plus Mummy too|
The episode’s imdb page is here.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Release Date: 2010
This was one of those frustrating films that, for everything it did right, it managed to make a mistake also. Probably unavoidable, to some degree, when you are making a low budget movie but some of the issues were avoidable.
Let us take the location of the film – Roach City. Creating your own city for the location offers a freedom next to a real world location in that you can design the city as you want it and not have to worry that someone who knows the location will know that the locations are fictional. On the other hand, calling it Roach City makes the viewer start – it makes you wonder who would call a city that, even when you realise the director used his own name.
|fanged and bloodied|
|attacked in the stall|
|Elle LaMont as Jaq|
|Doc and Dick|
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Release: 2006 (re copyright notice)
I found this film on YouTube and, to my knowledge, it has not had a DVD release nor is it on IMDb (at time of review). It does an awful amount wrong but there are moments within it. For instance it might be down to the low resolution on the YouTube upload or the film may just look washed out, but that – if deliberate – does give the film a feel of a 1970s movie. Something rediscovered (a claim made at the head of the film that suggests this is a “lost” movie). That said there is no excuse for the title banner that sits across the film like a bird of doom.
We are in the realm of the vampire western, though this is a western with biblical pretentions, quoting through its length passages from the book of revelations and, so, we are also in the subgenre that ties vampire and antichrist together.
|Armando Creeper as Von Strom|
|Gregg Griffin as Harley|
|More like zombies|
All in all this wasn’t brilliant but I could see something worthwhile in its core, a should-be-gleaming gem that you won’t want to watch it for as the slow pace strips it of any lustre. 1.5 out of 10.
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
First published: 2006-2007
This was the second reimaging of Batman’s encounter with the Mad Monk – we looked at the original story here. Between this version and the original there was a storyline in 1982 establishing the Monk character within the DC Multiverse.
This was the second of a two-part series called Dark Moon Rising, the first trade paper back (tpb) being Batman and the Monster Men, a Hugo Strange story. Batman is at the start of his career and the relationship between him and Jim Gordon is just beginning. As in the original version Bruce Wayne is in a relationship with Julie Madison, but she is a law student and her father, Norman, is a psychological wreck terrified of Batman.
The Mad Monk goes by the name of Niccolai Ţepeş, though Batman comes to believe he is Richard Rallstone, a bad-boy heir to the Rallstone Castle (a blooming great castle in Gotham). A pictogram at the end suggests that Ţepeş possessed the body of Rallstone. Whilst Ţepeş clearly believes he is a vampire (drinking blood, having hypnotic powers and sleeping days in a coffin) the storyline keeps the actuality of this fluid and it may have been delusion rather than him actually being a vampire.
Of course the hypnotic powers are real enough and he uses them on Julie to get at her father’s fortune whilst he poses as a self-help guru. We also see that she has been bitten and the bite marks are of the two puncture variety. Batman may not believe that he really is facing a vampire but errs on the side of caution and creates some silver batarangs. The monk’s end (oh that wasn’t really a spoiler) comes about in a Hammer way.
Ţepeş is creating a vampire cult called the Brotherhood, though none of the members are actually vampires. He has wolves guarding the castle, but they are natural wolves and werewolves are not mentioned within the story. In the original story Dala was a vampire, in this she is a servant who has been recruited with the promise of being turned and ruling at his side. Dala actually will appear again as a vampire in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode Shadow of the Bat.
The tpb is rather good, not too stretching in concept, rather it has solid storytelling and the art is rather fine too. 7 out of 10. Thanks to Dave for the loan of the tpb.