Posted by: Gregoryno6 | December 1, 2012

Vampires in the cinema: here’s to the bloodsuckers that don’t sparkle, part one.

The epic tale, painfully drawn out and inflated, has reached its on-screen conclusion. After eighteen years of being utterly ordinary, Bella is now a vampire and a mother. Exactly which makes her no longer ordinary is hard to say in these modern times.

Edward is a 105 year old father – take THAT, Viagra! And their best friend Jacob has had his heart stolen by baby daughter Renfield. Little Renfield, powered by hybrid vigour, puts on a growth spurt that will see her auditioning for the cheerleader squad before she’s into double figures. This could be the basis for a new legal strategy: the Breaking Dawn Part 2 Defence. ‘She was exceptionally mature for a sixth-grader, your honour.’ Sorry, that was just wrong.

I don’t criticise Stephenie Meyer for trying to invest the vampire myth with a few original ideas. I criticise because she’s a crap writer and her ideas are silly. Perhaps she will serve as the Enid Blyton for this generation. Blyton has been described as a writer who wasn’t especially good but who gave children an interest in reading. The Twilight books have at least got the school age demographic turning pages instead of flipping channels. We can hope that the films will likewise lead young moviegores – sorry, moviegoers – to more successful twists of vampire lore. A vain hope? On this evidence, yes. Not exactly inspiring to think that these people are the airline pilots and brain surgeons of the future.

Nevertheless…

John Carpenter’s Vampires very nearly lost me within the first ten minutes. The introduction to Jack Crow and his vampire killing team is so ridiculously balls-out soaked in testosterone that it teeters right on the brink of parody. Somehow, Carpenter pulls it back. From there on it’s a clever and original vampire flick.

Crow is one of the Vatican’s best vampire slayers. His team clean out an abandoned house in New Mexico, but come off second best when Valek crashes the post-impalement party. Valek is the Master Vampire, the first with the demonic thirst. He seeks the relic that will give him the power to walk in the sunlight – because Valek just wants to have fun, and be accosted by kids rattling Red Cross tins. Crow’s parents were bitten by vampires, and he had to kill his father to save himself. That’s left him with a certain degree of anger. (Yes, that IS a language alert.)

James Woods puts in a perfect performance as Jack Crow. Bristling with a hunger for revenge that matches Valek’s need for the O negative, he keeps his wild staring eyes hidden by dark glasses for much of the movie. Tim Guinnee as Father Adam stays right with him all the way.

From studious man of the cloth...

From studious man of the cloth…

Guinnee’s built up an impressive body of work, and according to his imdb page he turned 50 just last month, so happy belated birthday Mr G! Father Adam is earnest and sincere and his hair is just that bit longer than it should be. But that’s okay because, you know, kids, Jesus was a rebel too. Father Adam would have been leading rock masses back in the 1970s. He’s got everything that’s needed for the service of God – everything except real life experience. A few days with Jack Crow makes this studious young priest into a ruthless slayer.

...to mean motherfuc - I guess you know the rest.

…to mean motherfuc – I guess you know the rest.

Dracula 2000 offers another angle on the origins of vampirism. And while Carpenter’s is the more entertaining film overall, 2000’s concept is the more theologically intriguing.

Revealed: the reason for Dracula’s hatred of crucifixes. Not revealed: how old man Van Helsing has kept his Austrian accent after living in London for decades, while Gerard Butler sounds no more Transylvanian than Kevin Bloody Wilson.

Questions remain. Why doesn’t Justine Waddell make more movies? Will anyone get cross with me for not posting a KBW link? Will anyone pick up on the pun in that last question?

During the 1950s and 60s vampires were rarely seen in movies. Science fiction pushed horror aside as man’s hubristic folly spilled atomic radiation all over the place, creating gigantic spiders and huge reptilian monsters that loved trampling across Tokyo. Dracula lingered on through the quiet years, thanks to Hammer Films, but in the 1970s a new neckmuncher appeared: the elegant Count Yorga played with smiling malice by Robert Quarry.

That's the last 'corrective dentistry' joke you'll ever make.

That’s the last ‘corrective dentistry’ joke you’ll ever make.

Quarry’s second turn as the Count was the better of the two movies; he shows up at a Halloween party and loses first prize to the crappiest vampire costume that was ever put in front of a camera. Later, he dispatches a priest.

Quarry also appeared as the vampire guru Khorda in Deathmaster. This showed up as the Sunday night movie in Melbourne sometime in the late 70s; I don’t think it had a cinema release.

A man without a vision is a man without a dream… I can see Father Adam pulling out the guitar in the middle of Mass and letting go with that.

Part two

Part three

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