The Return of the Vampire Review

It’s time to look at another vampire movie. It’s actually been quite a while since I’ve seen one. Have they gotten better over time or is it doomed just like the rest? This one’s basically the latter. It’s far and away not the worst vampire film I’ve seen, but it still isn’t particularly good. It deserves some props for trying to do its best within the genre, but at the same time it could have simply have chosen another genre and that would have been the end of that.

The film starts off with a vampire showing up and deciding to destroy someone. It’s what he has been doing for years so why stop now? He then claims another victim in a town so 2 of the locals head over to his coffin and murder the guy. (The vampire base gets less and less guarded in each film) Unfortunately the groundskeepers show up later and remove the stake since they were dismayed to see the corpses being defiled in this way. This allows Dracula to return from the grave (All right, I’ll start calling him Tesla from here since that’s his name in this film) and continue his hunt. Tesla decides to adopt a human identity once more so that he can attract more attention to himself and gloat in his self satisfaction. Can anyone stop him?

Right away I have to give the film some credit with how it treats Lady Jane as the lead. She handles the situation wayyyyy better than most of the other main characters who run around crying and screaming at the mere sight of Dracula. Nobody’s got time for that. Jane destroyed him once and when he returns she is ready to conquer him once again…I mean Tesla. Her best scene is when Tesla walks over to her room and boldly starts telling her every part of his plan. He’s going to take her family and rule the world from the shadows. She calmly ignores him during the whole speech and gives him a look that says “Are you done yet?” Tesla gets a little perturbed by this and approaches her. Jane calmly finishes her piano piece and then puts the book down, revealing a cross under it. Tesla runs away scared and you realize that Jane is a very sensible character. She also spends a great deal of time trying to convince everyone else that Tesla is real.

Of course, a vampire film wouldn’t be all there without that one skeptic who refuses to believe that vampires are a thing. He sees the bite marks and doesn’t care. It’s all superstition and hocus pocus. Even his two comic relief underlings eventually see the light while this guy doesn’t even at the very end. You always cut these skeptics a little slack since it would take a lot for me to suddenly believe they are real as well, but you should at least look at what is happening and consider the possibility. What does this guy have to lose? As a result he is rather slow and doesn’t help much at all. He brings a gun to the final fight where he panics and fires the first shot, but that doesn’t help his case either.

To quickly give the underlings a shoutout, they did put up a reasonable fight against the werewolf. It may have been futile, but I’m glad that they didn’t go down in one punch as you may have expected. The Werewolf himself is a little annoying. He can’t resist Tesla’s powers and even after being cured he allows himself to regress back into a villain. At the end it takes getting shot in the chest to finally get him to realize that being a hero is the only true path to take. Better late than never though so we take those.

What makes this film a little better than the other Dracula films is that it doesn’t go for the low brow vampire moments that doom the genre. We don’t see Tesla constantly draining people’s blood. Make no mistake, there are fatalities here and he’s still just as unlikable a villain as always, but the film doesn’t rub our faces in it. There is also no animal violence squeezed in this time. I still don’t find vampires particularly interesting, but considering the genre I think the movie did a fair job of it. The writing isn’t bad either. It balances in some humor and the characters sound reasonable. While the skeptic ultimately would not see reason at least he had some valid reasons for sticking to his version of events.

Overall, The Return of the Vampire is about what you’d expect from a Vampire film. It basically goes through all of the usual motions, but does its best to stay classy throughout. If you are a fan of these films then you’ll certainly enjoy this one. Get ready to see Jane dish out the damage against Tesla. While Vampires have quite a few weaknesses including Garlic and Stakes, I’m always glad that the Cross gets such a powerful effect against them as well. It’s used quite effectively here. The most random scene in the film is probably when a giant explosion occurs which prevents the cross from finishing off Tesla, but since the vampire was doomed anyway perhaps it was just a way to stretch out his inevitable end. Tesla certainly didn’t end up going very peacefully.

Overall 4/10


Dracula: Prince of Darkness Review

Time for more Dracula! This film actually had the best beginning out of all the Dracula films which was quite impressive. For a little while there, I actually began to think that this film could actually be good. The second half falls back down the rails into terrible territory but at least it actually tried this time. If only the film had stuck to being a slice of life with a few jump scares instead of a nitty gritty vampire film. Don’t we have enough of those anyway?

The film starts off with a bunch of savages about to impale a girl who’s already dead. They want to make sure she stays that way. A passing preacher/evangelist stops them with his pocket gun and tough negotiating skills. He then heads to a cabin where we meet the Kents. 4 people are going on a big tour of the world and are having fun stopping at all of the various bars. He warns them not to go to a castle coming up since it’s evil. To their credit, half of the party listens. The 4 people are Alan, Helen, Charles, and Diana. Helen really doesn’t want to go inside and Diana isn’t fond of doing so either. Luckily a carriage comes along so Charles proposes that they get on it and head for the next town. Unfortunately the Horses are uncontrollable and quickly take the heroes to the castle. It appears to be empty, but a butler remains.

Helen continues to believe that something bad is going to happen and her fears are put to rest as Alan is destroyed and she goes next. Unlike Alan, she is at least given the pleasure of becoming a fellow vampire who will serve Dracula. Dracula wants Diana next, but Charles intends to put up a fight to save her. Charles and Diana head to the old guy from the intro and hide in his church, but the Church has a traitor who works for Dracula and the guy invites him in. It’s now a desperate battle for time, can Dracula be stopped!?

I really did like the intro. The first 30-40 minutes are basically the heroes bickering among themselves and just enjoying the hospitality once they get into the castle. You know that it’s not going to end well for them but at least they are having fun in the meantime. Charles is a pretty good character as he’s not a nervous wreck like the rest of the heroes and doesn’t mind taking charge. Diana may not be as brave, but she always stands by Charles. Alan and Helen aren’t quite as good. Helen is extremely nervous of everything to the point of paranoia which gets old fast and Alan just barely seems like a character. He’s just along for the ride for the most part. Still, it’s a fun group dynamic. These are actually characters that I can get behind and it’s just an entertaining intro.

Then Dracula shows up and things get messy. First of all, the film is quite violent. The Hammer films in general are always a little more intense and this one is no exception. One character basically bleeds to death which takes a while and it’s on screen. Another character gets impaled with a stake on screen. Ironically, Dracula’s death at the end is the least violent since he simply slips on some ice and freezes to his doom. Not exactly the way you’d imagine the famous Prince of Darkness to go out. I’m aware of the Garlic and the Cross as counters to Dracula even if the former never works. I never heard about Vampires drowning in clear water though. I never assumed they could breath underwater, but it’s actually a weakness now? The deck is really stacked against Dracula since he is quite slow and is weak to just about everything under the sun. Good luck beating any more humans at this rate count.

The traitor inside of the Church was annoying as well. He’s a prisoner as they even say to take him back to his cell, but people still take orders from him? Clearly the guy isn’t the only crazy in the place. It’s also awfully convenient how many empty rooms are in the Church so it’s easy for Dracula to sneak around. I was hoping there would be more people running around trying to stop him. It’s also annoying how quick the hypnosis works on Diana. It’s essentially instantaneous which isn’t surprising, but still not all that great. Where is the will power in all of this?

As a side note, this is probably the worst Dracula design. The red eyes just make him look super weak and then the actual movie certainly doesn’t do anything to dissuade you of that notion. Anyone can out run him and while he has super strength, he tends to let his opponents go. He’s also lucky that Alan was quite naive and not too smart as he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten resurrected in the first place. The heroes make a bunch of bad calls throughout the movie. In another scene they see the butler with a baseball bat or some kind of knife, but just shrug. All 4 of them agree that the butler seems crazy and likely dangerous, but they are still fine with sleeping in the manor. At worst they should have just overpowered him and then gone to sleep. They could have woke up the next day with a “Nothing personal” story and that would have worked. Well, I suppose at least some of them got the last laugh in the end so that’s a start.

Overall, This film is really just more of the same. Once Dracula shows up you can switch the footage with any other Dracula film and it’s basically the same. The film goes through the same beats as he takes the heroes down one by one but then plot armor comes to help the heroes. Dracula gets Charles in his grasp at one point, but then throws him away. He completely had the victory sealed up there, but lets him get away. Why would he do that? Seems like it was a bad move to me. Ah well, I’d recommend staying away from this film. You can watch other Dracula films that aren’t as over the top violent and at the end of the day, vampires are past their prime anyway. If you don’t mind stopping early, then the film is quite good if you just watch right up til Alan says he is going to check downstairs. Stop the film right there and it’s a solid 7/10 with a good cast and solid writing. If every film ended as well as it started, a lot of scores would be quite different in the horror genre.

Overall 2/10

Curse of the Undead Review

If the last film was YES! tier then this one is I want my Money Back tier. This film is just so bad and since it is a vampire film I expected a bad result from the start. It was still a little worse than I had anticipated. The Wild West angle is actually far more interesting than the Vampire one and you know how I’m not really a fan of the former either. It’s all pretty tragic to be honest, but at least the ending will go down as a classic.

There is a town where a mean man named Buffer is messing with everyone. All he wants is to be able to have a nice beer every day and bully an old man. That’s his only wish and so the town allows him to do whatever he wants. Things take a turn for the worse when the old man is murdered and then Buffer is forced to murder his son in self defense. Dolores decides to place a wanted ad to avenge them and a wandering gun for hire named Drago shows up. Dan advises Dolores against this since hiring someone to destroy someone else is pretty similar to doing the job yourself. You will have effectively committed murder. Dolores doesn’t care and even claims she’ll pray to the Devil if necessary. Dan realizes this is a lost cause and goes to the Sheriff to try and work something out. Little does he know that Drago is a vampire!

I think the main reason why I didn’t mind the Wild West setting this time was because it didn’t feel like one. You don’t see a lot of sand or anything since they stay in town the whole time. It was a nice fusion of genres and the film handled it well. The locale is one of the only positive things I can say about the film. Beyond that, I also liked the Sheriff. He still deserves some blame for not actually trying to stop Buffer sooner. He took quite a while to get involved and it was too late by then. At least he was very tough though. He didn’t back up for anyone and stood his ground at gun point. The way he handled the band of bandits was pretty admirable so it’s a shame that he went out on such a sour note. He was just a really good character.

Prepare for the onslaught of negatives now though as they are quite extensive. First off, Dolores is a very annoying main heroine. She faints quite a few times and always makes the wrong choices. I’m not against her hiring someone to take Buffer down since the authorities weren’t doing anything about it, but letting him into her house was mistake number 1. The next one was going right to sleep and not noticing him messing with her. She also didn’t notice that she had bite marks on her neck even though I feel it would be pretty obvious. I’m confident I’d notice something like that on my neck and clearly it means she hasn’t washed it in a while. She then proceeds to faint several more times so Drago has his fun and she even sides with him instead of Dan. She made no good choices and was just a struggle to watch.

Drago is even worse as he’s a vampire who doesn’t know what he is doing. I don’t even think he had a master plan so much as he just wanted to suck everyone’s blood while also having fun doing it. He acted as if he was on her side to gain her trust but why? He would leave her alive so he could keep using her I guess, but it was a pretty random move. Furthermore, if he can hypnotize people, he should do it to everyone so he’ll have a life long supply or blood for all of his needs. He came off as rather distasteful and there was no way to like him. It’s a shame since he could have been a decent character in theory. The idea of a lone gunman coming into a town and liberating it is nothing new. Of course, when the two sides are the bully and an evil vampire, you know that the battle is lost before it even begins.

Dan is an okay character I guess, but he seems content to stay as an observer until something happens that he doesn’t like. He didn’t really help to solve the Buffer problem until the gunner showed up and then he made his move. By then, it was a little late for words. He did a good job in the final battle though so I have to give him credit there. He’s certainly better than pretty much all of the other characters by default. The Sheriff was really good as well as he didn’t let any of the others mess with him. Buffer wasn’t a likable character of course. You couldn’t feel sympathetic to him either since he was a villain the whole time. Perhaps he wasn’t as bad as the vampire, but that’s a pretty low bar to set.

The dialogue and writing for the film wasn’t bad, but it never became an engaging watch. We also got an incredibly random, but dark origin story for Drago during the film. Apparently he murdered his brother and then murdered himself so his punishment was to obtain super strength, high speed regeneration, and immortality so he can murder other people. Pretty interesting punishment. Another thing that hurt the film was just the amount of times Drago had his way with the heroine when she asleep. Those scenes are very dubious and hard to watch. Add in the fact that he’s brainwashing her and it sinks the film to new lows. At this point she basically doesn’t have a choice in the matter. The film was already past saving, but these scenes really ended up hurting the score more than the rest put together.

Overall, This was a pretty bad vampire film. I expected nothing less though. It has some pretty decent scenes and as I mentioned the human moments weren’t bad. The posturing at the saloon wasn’t bad and the various bar moments, but the vampire just brought the whole thing down. The film also just liked being dark like when the kid died or the origin story. It was pretty unnecessary the whole time. If you want a good vampire film…I recommend just looking for something else. The odds of finding a good one are extremely low. It’s almost a contradiction.

Overall 1/10

The Brides of Dracula Review

The Dracula movies have a pretty negative reputation and it is admittedly one that it has earned. They typically just aren’t all that fun and forget to be engaging. This one doesn’t even have Dracula in it. Now that could be a good sign, but it barely even matters since a new Dracula has surfaced in the town. It’s essentially the same story as always, but with a different cast for Van Helsing to deal with. He barely escaped from his last confrontation so does he even have a chance here?

It starts off with Marianne deciding to take a carriage through a forbidden part of town. She is going to become a school teacher and doesn’t want to be late so this is the quickest route. Unfortunately her driver leaves right away so she is forced to spend the night at a bar. The owners don’t want to take her in though and they seem pretty scared so she accepts a shady old lady’s offer to stay at her mansion. There she sees a guy being tied to his room so she frees him and then faints in the road. Van Helsing finds her and takes her to the school, but the vampires aren’t done with her yet. She has released the most powerful one yet and he aims to convert all of the people in the town. Can Helsing put an end to this?

The film’s very convenient a lot of the time and especially in the opening. It seems like the old couple knew something about the vampires or at least that the family couldn’t be trusted. I can understand that, but why were they so vague about it the whole time? Why did it take hours to rent a cot? If they know that the old lady has been kidnapping previous tenants then shouldn’t they tell the cops? The family owns the whole town so that’s a little iffy, but based on how isolated they are the whole time, I like to think that they don’t have complete dominion over the whole place. Ah well, this leads Marianne to go to the castle. Naturally, everyone keeps on lying to her so she decides to just pick one of them to trust and she picks the captive. Turns out that he couldn’t be trusted, but the old lady would have likely murdered Marianne anyway since she had been feeding sacrifices to the vampire anyway.

This is where Van Helsing should come in, but honestly it takes him a real long time to show up. When he finally does pop in he isn’t as impressive as you’d expect. He tends to go into battle unarmed except for a small cross which the vampires always overpower. After that he just looks shocked and dazed as they toss him around. Van Helsing really can’t hold his own against any of the villains and he certainly looks out of his league. Fortunately for him, the vampires basically end up destroying themselves by lighting the castle on fire and being too slow to escape it. One of them basically just falls down and dies. Van Helsing got lucky and this should increase his reputation, but his luck is bound to run out sooner or later.

He can be an annoying hero because it almost feels like he is helping the vampires at some points. For example, after one of the victims has been terminated by the vampires, he knows that she will rise at night. The plan is for him to be there in wait so he can stab her as soon as she wakes up. Unfortunately it seems like he forgot to set the alarm or something so he arrives there 20 minutes to late which gives her time to escape. The same thing happens again later on as another victim appears and Van Helsing decides to make a few stops first. By the time he gets there the situation had already been resolved in the vampire’s favor. You had to wonder what he was doing the whole time? Certainly this should have been his top priority right? He was probably posturing and stroking his ego though so I guess we’ll just have to let it slide.

Marianne isn’t likable because she’s rather gullible and oblivious to everything. That makes it really hard to root for her since she is practically begging to be bitten the whole time. The vampire isn’t any good either as he just seems like a guy who can’t control his own bloodlust. He just wants to drink and he would be your average “It’s Miller Time” Budlight character if he wasn’t a vampire. I did like how he was kidnapped early on though. I guess an old lady can put up more of a fight than Van Helsing sometimes.

The film gives a lot of time to various subplots and characters that are ultimately pointless as well. One really random scene introduces a doctor who likes to smell mystical water and use a lot of pills to keep himself from getting sick. He’s a comic relief character who likes money, but vanishes as soon as he appears. What was the point of the scene? I dunno and I guess you just have to leave that part to your imagination.

Beyond that, the film commits to all of the typical tropes of a Vampire film. They drink people’s blood and keep on building an army. Everyone is too stunned to do anything about it and the vampires take a lot of victims before they finally go down. Blood sucking has always been pretty wince worthy and certainly doesn’t get any better here. None of the villains are likable in the slightest and I didn’t like any of the heroes either. When you have a bad cast there is not much that can ultimately help the film. You need a likable cast.

Overall, This film is just like any other Dracula film. You could watch another version and swear that it was the same film. There is nothing even remotely original here and everyone seems to have a higher opinion of themselves than the reality. To keep things in perspective…Van Helsing lost to an old lady. She rushed him and stole the cross so that the vampires could take him down. That was just plain embarrassing and she was definitely an odd character. I’ll assume that she was mind controlled for most of the film and then got turned into a vampire because most of her behavior just doesn’t make sense otherwise. Unless she was just plain crazy I expect. I advise you to stay far away from this film. You’re better off watching a classic title like Scooby Doo or something. Even Batman vs Dracula is a big step up if you really need to see something with a vampire. This film will just leave you trying to fill in all of the holes in the writing to make the movie more interesting, but all you’ll be left with is pieces of ineligible paper.

Overall 2/10

Fright Night Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would likely be more negative.
Oh no, it’s my worst fears realized. Lets look at the checklist. Gratuitous violence? ✔ Horrendous writing ✔ Lots of fanservice? ✔ Animal Violence X Vampires ✔ Terrible characters ✔ Well, it may not have been a perfect score on how bad a film could be, but it’s quite bad. It’s been a while since I saw a film quite like this one, but I can assure you that this holds its own against most of the other big horror films. I still think it’s really difficult to make a vampire film good and this helps my argument. There’s just not much in the way of positives here at all.

The film starts off with good ole Charley being one of the “cool” kids. He used to be a guy who was really into fantasy, play fighting, and other things that were deemed “uncool.” As a result, Charley dumped his best friend and started hanging out with the bullies so he could look cool for a girl. It worked quite easily and now they’re together. Charley is so cool that he doesn’t care about anyone else anymore. The bullies pick on his ex-friend, but that’s not Charley’s concern. Students start going missing and it seems as if a mass murderer is on the loose, but again…that’s not Charley’s problem. It gets to be an issue for him though once his ex friend is murdered and he finds out that the perpetrator lives next door. Okay…now it’s time to care. Can Charley take this guy down to save himself and his family or is it already too late?

It’s like the old saying, “First they came for the Johns, but I stayed quiet. Then they came for the Smiths, but I stayed quiet. Finally, they came for me and there was nobody left to help” It’s like that as Charley really couldn’t care less about the rest of the neighborhood until it was just him. He’s the main character and it’s a mainstream film so it’s not as if he has much to worry about, but it didn’t make him a likable character in the slightest. The film actually goes out of its way to make him a terrible character as he refuses to explain anything. Even once he learns that the guy next door is a vampire, he refuses to tell his Mom or Amy about it because he doesn’t want to look bad. This doesn’t work so well as it comes close to wrecking all of his relationships. Luckily, they’re better characters who don’t panic at everything and actually try to talk things out. Charley just gives them a hard time about absolutely everything. He never develops into a good character as you can’t forget that he is essentially a poser who betrays his ideals just to look cool.

Jerry makes for an imposing villain I suppose, but certainly not a good one. He spends a lot of time trying to make conversation with Charley. I guess he wants to get in the main character’s head to psych him out, but he drags on and on. He was so obvious as the villain that I was expecting a misdirect from the film, but it never happened. He certainly didn’t improve my view on vampires. Edward is supposed to be the sympathetic friend that you can root for. He was ditched by Charley and as a result his social life has completely fallen to pieces. Now there is no one to help him when he gets bullied and he also has to pass by the bully’s home every single night. It’s not very fun for him and then Charley refuses to acknowledge him and this finally leads to Edward being taken out by Jerry. So, he should have been sympathetic, but what doesn’t help his case is that he resorts to blackmail. Yes, he decides to blackmail Charley with old videos of them fighting together and the old hobbies that Charley had. It may have worked, but it’s certainly not a nice move. He also started unloading some pretty personal insults at Amy which just made him even more unlikable. I forgot another part of Edward that doesn’t help his case…he’s on drugs. He casually admits this to Charley during another one of those really terrible written conversations. Even the way he lets Charley know about the vampire next door is handled pretty unrealistically.

Amy was all right as I mentioned earlier. She helped out a little during the skirmish with the vampires and at least she didn’t get paralyzed with fear the way that many characters do. Amy played her part well. Peter is the professional vampire slayer who turns out to be a fraud at first, but then we learn that he has actually encountered Jerry in the past. He’s pretty unlikable and is supposed to be that way. He helps out quite a bit in the end, but mostly he is reluctant. By the time he jumps into action, it’s a little too late to care.

So, there are a lot of negatives here as mentioned in the intro. The writing is horrendous. Luckily, the edited version cut out all of the language with the nice air filters, but with how often they occurred you can see how bad the script was. Every character was constantly yelling strings of words that make you shake your head. Even when we get past the language, the rest of the writing isn’t much better. The boring conversations with Jerry come to mind and the forced tension between Charley and all of the other characters. His excuse in the computer room for why he ditched class is another awful moment as it shows he will go to great lengths to avoid telling people about vampires even if it hurts his reputation even more.

Next, there’s the gratuitous violence. This one’s pretty obvious. The vampires bite people just about all the way through the neck and it’s pretty violent. Every character has a habit of blowing up some blood even after they’re already dead or in vampire form. The blood sucking is as irritating as usual and I don’t think I’ll ever care for that aspect. I’m still pretty surprised that there was no animal violence so that’s a good thing. The “romance” here is of the usual Hollywood variety. It’s basically just the characters deciding to skip the formalities and just jump into the making love part. It’s mostly all they talk about at the beginning and the end of the film. At least they got over all of the gruesome murders really quickly eh? The film goes for a lot of excuses to have characters in pretty risque outfits as the heroes head to a night club (Where naturally nobody notices someone getting murdered right in front of them) and Peter has a secretary with benefits rooming with him. It’s definitely not a film that tries to take the high road.

I can’t really think of any plot holes surprisingly, but if there is any then it may be with Jerry being weak against sunlight. I could have sworn that when he was planting the garden the first time he showed up that it was still daylight out. Maybe it was dark enough where the sun wasn’t potent or something. Just something that I noticed, but at least it can be explained away so that helps it a lot.

If there is one good thing about the film, it’s that the soundtrack is actually pretty decent at times. The rock music that played when Charley went to get his gear was pretty good. His montage may not have been as epic as the music would have you believe, but it was a slight silver lining at the very least. The special effects weren’t half bad either. The classic Vampire blowing up to sunlight and weapons was handled decently well. The super agility was handled pretty badly though as the Vampires moved in impossible angles with very obvious Photoshop kind of effects. It definitely didn’t seem like something you’d expect from 2011, but maybe I was holding it to too high of a standard.

Overall, Fright Night is your average horror film. It’s not very fun to watch and the characters are all poorly written. Everyone is so bad that you have to wonder at some points whether horror writers can read their scripts with a straight face. Lets put this into perspective. The kid who got bullied and ostracized by the school along with being betrayed by his friend was murdered by the main character. The bully who went around objectifying people and making the friend miserable got to live in the end. That’s just the kind of film that this is and I’d recommend sticking away from it. It’s a pretty mean spirited film and Jerry ends up being a pretty bad villain by the end. He’s even willing to use fake romance to get a reaction out of Charley, but that’s not very effective since Charley was more interested in finally getting to use his hastily prepared plan at that point. I should mention that the plan should never have worked and involved quite a lot of plot hax. Lets just say that Jerry conveniently decided to stand still and have absolutely no reaction times in order for it to work. The film stacked the deck against itself too well (As expected) by giving Jerry a great amount of regenerative abilities and speed. The writers couldn’t think their way out of that one. If you want a good horror film, check out Poltergeist 3. It’s actually a lot better than you would expect.

Overall 1/10

Vampire Knight Memories

I thought that the original Vampire Knight was rather terrible, but this sequel is off to a better start so far. Of course, there is only so much you can wreck in one chapter so we’ll see if it is able to keep it up or if the flaws of the original will eventually materialize and limit the sequel as well. Only time will tell. I’ll have a review for this series when it is finished!

Overall 5/10

Seraph of the End

I’ve started another action manga at last. Well, it hasn’t been too long since Saint Seiya I suppose. The series seems to be off to a decent start, the main character is definitely pretty epic even if he’s constantly trolled by Shinoa. I’m ready for the fights to really get real, but based on how strong the characters are already, that shouldn’t be a problem. I expect good things from this title as long as the vampires don’t drag it down!

Overall 6/10

Dracula Untold Review

It’s time to check out a film with vampires in it! That’s typically a bad sign for me to be honest since vampires = blood sucking which = instant loss. Luckily, that doesn’t really happen much until the end of the film, which is a big plus. It’s still filled with enough negatives to fill a bowl of mashed potatoes, but it’s a start and a franchise with this film at the center could be pretty decent. It should also be noted that the poster for this film is pretty incredible!

Dracula grew up as a nice guy until he was sold to the villains. He helped them destroy hundreds/thousands of opponents and then left to rule his homeland. Well, the villains are back and they want most of the youth along with Dracula’s son. Dracula quickly slays the minions who report this and prepares for war. If he is to beat an army, he will need some extra power! (Especially since Dracula’s allies are extremely weak) Dracula heads to a mountain where an old vampire gives him vampire abilities. This is how the legend of Dracula begins! The change will not be permanent if Dracula can resist the urge of blood for 3 days. Can he really win the war in that time? Let’s hope so!

Considering that this film is about Dracula, I think it’s safe to say that we know the answer to that last question. Still, he tries pretty hard not to give in to the temptation and he certainly had the potential to win the war in 3 days. His strength and speed were greatly enhanced and this could be one of the strongest incarnations of Dracula that we have seen. He can manipulate the weather and his super speed allows him to take down dozens of opponents in an instant. That is certainly a feat that one can respect.

All right, let’s go into the negatives before we look at the rest of the film. It was teetering on the edge between 3-4 stars, but one area ended up plunging it down. I nearly forgot about it at first, but the film has quite a few romance scenes that do not age well. The film isn’t that old, but the writers may already realize the problem here. There’s no point to the scenes with Dracula and his wife as they don’t impact the plot. It’s also not a good or developed romance as they just make out with each other for no reason. That’s the kind of romance that will hurt any film and this one is no exception.

The next negative would be the classic animal violence part. A dog is attacked in the background. Again…there is no reason for this! We also watch as a spider catches his prey and there’s no need for this as well. Unfortunately, this is where we get to the blood sucking part and it’s no better than usual. It’s pretty gross to see Dracula drink the blood from a cup from the get go, but it’s even worse once he starts to bite his opponents and steal their strength. Dracula even goes as far as to bite someone who was already dying for his extra bit of power. His excessive biting eventually backfires on him, but he really over did it.

The fight scenes were better than anticipated at first. Dracula was finishing everyone off, but it wasn’t in an unnecessarily gritty/violent way. That changed for the climax as it went all Lord of the Rings/Prince Caspian on us. The heroes were biting all of the villains that they could find and then we remembered that there were no more heroes. They were all gone or corrupted by this point. The film definitely lost steam by the end.

Still, the film does end on a great note. Not just a good note, but a great one as we see the true potential of this new universe. The ending involves a certain character in the modern world. A necessary step if we are to have a shared universe after all and then we see the big villain. Presumably, he shall be the big threat in the first crossover film. He states that the games will now begin and you can’t help but feel excited for what may come next. There appears to be a war between two immortal figures. We know that one of them is the old vampire and he has already recruited Dracula to his side. (Dracula has no choice in the matter) I’m speculating that Imhotep is the other one and maybe he’ll recruit a Werewolf or Frankenstein. Then we’ll have the biggest fight on our hands since Batman vs Superman! Of course, we need the shared universe to really start if that’s to happen so they’re going to need to hurry with that. If they back off now, that’ll be sad for the fans!

There’s not much of a soundtrack to be found here I’m afraid. The effects are decently good and it’s fun to see Dracula in his bat form. How likable is Dracula as a character? He’s actually good for a while and I can sympathize with his desire to protect his people at any price. That being said, he should have easily ended the war right away. When it was night time, he should have headed straight for the opposing king after messing up the enemies. He also could have done a better job commanding the troops and letting them know of his abilities so that others could not spoil the opportunity for him. It’s pretty terrible that the people were so scared of him when they found out, but that’s the casual observers for you. They simply were not ready. Dracula was also very powerful before he became a vampire, which was certainly a welcome twist. He made the right decision when he didn’t hand over his son.

The final battle between Dracula and the human is riddled with plot hax all around, but the important thing is that he still won. The film had to make the clash dramatic somehow, but they should have simply thought of another way. I’m sure they could have made it a little more believable if they really put their mind to it. It was interesting to see the main villain because he looks a lot like Howard Stark from Agent Carter. I couldn’t help but think of the guy whenever the villain appeared so it was always humorous to see him. The characters are stark contrasts of each other after all.

There’s not much of a cast here though since almost all of the other characters don’t actually get any personality. They’re just here to talk big or to lose dramatically. The ending proves that none of them have any strength of will and most of the heroes are traitors anyway. The only one Dracula can count on is himself. There’s an odd guy who follows Dracula around and wants to be his servant. The guy just didn’t make any sense as he wanted to help Dracula one moment and destroy him the next. He seriously needed to make up his mind!

I give the film some props for its mention of Heaven considering how much Hell is discussed. Dracula says something along the lines of “Now that I know Hell is real, I know Heaven exists as well” when a certain someone dies. The Cross also continues to have power over the vampires once they have consumed human blood. It’s always good to see those influences here since horror films tend to only show you half of the equation. It’s not much, but it’s a start!

Overall, Dracula Untold suffered from the negatives that follow just about any vampire film, but it did have some enjoyable moments. The ending really leaves it with a lot of potential for a good sequel and the film did a good job of making Dracula more likable and sympathetic than usual. Unfortunately, the romance, animal violence, and blood sucking ensure that I cannot recommend this film. If you want to see a good horror film that doesn’t even try to take itself seriously, go check out Scooby Doo Frankencreepy. If you want to see something with Dracula in it, I recommend waiting for the (possible) sequel or maybe checking out The Batman vs Dracula if you’re feeling bold. Finally, I know you have one more question. Could Dracula defeat the Avengers? The sad answer is…yes…yes he could. At least, the movie versions, but we’ll see if I still think this once Age of Ultron comes out!!!

Overall 3/10

Van Helsing Review

It’s time for a vampire film review! After Twilight, I know that it can be a little hard to take vampire films seriously anymore. To my defense, I have always been against them. They just don’t make for very interesting characters. Luckily, we also get Dr. Hyde, Frankenstein’s Monster, and a vampire hunter. Adding in all of these fighters should help to make things better….I hope!

The plot revolves around the hunter known as Van Helsing. He’s notorious around many regions of the world and everyone has heard of him. He has quite the reputation after all. He finishes off a few monsters and his boss sends him to go meet Anna. He has to keep her alive to foil Dracula’s plans. Unfortunately, her brother has already been taken down so Dracula’s plan is almost complete. Will the heroes be able to put aside their differences and defeat him? It’s a longshot, but it may be possible!

Well, this is essentially how I pictured a film with Dracula as the main villain. I’m sure that Dracula may become a cool character someday, but I’m just not buying it. I really didn’t like him here and disliking the main villain can definitely hurt in the long run. Before we really discuss the film, let’s look at the cast involved.

Van Helsing is our lead and he’s basically the Jonah Hex of the group. He’s the confident professional who always gets his man and he doesn’t back down from a fight. That’s pretty noble is it not? Well, I’d argue that he’s all talk. His first fight scene against Mr. Hyde is supposed to show us just how hardcore he is. It only serves to prove the opposite as Van Helsing continues to brag despite being outmatched. He should have been destroyed several times during the fight and he only makes it out thanks to Hyde’s overconfidence.

After that, he gets beaten up on by Dracula’s two henchwomen before getting knocked around by Dracula himself. Van Helsing may not be human, but he may as well be for all the good that it does him. He’s just completely outmatched and that makes it tough for him to pose a threat to anyone. His personality is really generic in the end and there’s nothing to separate him from the other main leads of a hollywood film.

Anna is certainly not the next Black Widow. She takes pride in her overall ability, but it’s simply not enough in this film. Perhaps she could give the average human a run for their money, but she definitely wasn’t prepared for Dracula and his cronies. Due to her family history, you would expect her to have a little more experience. Unfortunately for for her, Anna gets thrown around for the entire film. Van Helsing even takes her out with his handy dandy sleeping gas. Anna continues to talk tough until the very end, but it’s very hard to take seriously.

How can anyone really take a fighter seriously when they talk tough and get defeated the next moment? I believe that it’s supposed to be inspirational to see the hero mocking the villains even while being kicked around, but I can’t say that it’s very good character development. Anna essentially serves as a parody to the tough female lead that we are used to seeing nowadays. She never really had an edge in any of her fights and it definitely wasn’t a fun showing for her. Perhaps things will turn around if this film got a sequel..too bad it won’t get one at this rate. At least she beats most of the other characters in the film…it just isn’t saying much.

Dracula is the big bad. He’s the head honcho and the ultimate evil in the film! His design is a little off putting since Dracula’s hairstyle is usually a little more subdued. Nontheless, it’s always good to have a powerful villain. Unfortunately, Dracula loves to squander his power as he holds it all back until it’s too late. He spends a lot of time talking to his minions and showing us why he’s such a terrible villain. It’s impossible to root for him while he’s so preoccupied in doing things that don’t really help his plan. His minions are constantly distracting him.

Dracula is also supposed to be immensely powerful, but we don’t really see a lot of this. His two guards seem to be a lot stronger than him. They could move at super speed! Dracula didn’t really show a lot of that, but he does have a good amount of regeneration at the ready. If it could have worked more towards the ending, things would have gotten pretty interesting. This is one of those times where power isn’t enough. Dracula is powerful, but he’s still not a great villain. He simply doesn’t have what it takes and that’s the way that I see it. Dracula’s brides were no better. They were mostly there to be really dramatic and help Dracula in his inevitable downfall. They didn’t have much of a role as characters.

Carl is Van Helsing’s assistant and he’s here to keep things light. It’s sad when characters are really just in a story for comic relief. Carl should at least try to be helpful and get some big moments. Technically, fans could argue that he had a crucial role at the end, but I can’t say that I buy it. They were really generic moments meant to make us like Carl a little more. No! Carl is the type of sidekick that I just can’t root for. Give him a few years to learn how to fight and improve his tech…then we’ll talk. As it stands, Carl was definitely expendable.

Frankenstein’s Monster disappears for most of the film, but he finally comes back towards the end. He’s played off pretty accurately from the book. He’s a misunderstood hero and everyone wants to destroy him as per usual. It’s definitely not fun to be a monster. His design was definitely hard to look at and while he could fight..he was pretty slow. Making him so traditional may not have been a great move. At least he helped to add to the monster count, but he was mostly unnecessary.

Igor is one of the more minor villains in the film. He defected to the side of the villains so that he could fulfill his evil ambitions….or not. I wish that it had been for such a deep reason. Regardless, Igor just isn’t a good villain. He’s very weak and he doesn’t stand a chance against any real character. He likes to hit people when they’re down, but he’s no match for a real opponent. Igor typically isn’t a likable character in the films and this one is no exception.

Velkan is a supporting character at best. He does get a decent number of scenes though and he may be stronger than we thought. There’s a plot twist that keeps him relevant for a while. Needless to say, he lacked strength of character and I can’t say that he was very impressive at the beginning of the film. Everyone looked bad though, but the overall plan was terrible. His reaction times weren’t great either and it’s a lose-lose situation. If only he had been stronger!

It should be noted that some scenes will stretch your limits for disbelief. The “plot hax” in this film isn’t concealed very well. Anna is thrown through a window and she bangs a lot of wood beams and the wall as she went crashing down. It was a pretty big blast that a human likely wouldn’t survive. Likewise, Dracula’s brides kept slapping her around while throwing Van Helsing into walls. Both of them should have been out of commission considering how powerful they were.

The biggest moment where you may have to facepalm is the final fight between Dracula and a powerful creature. By all accounts, Dracula should have crushed his opponent. The film didn’t show us anything to suggest otherwise so I don’t see why it was such a close fight. In fact, Dracula is on the defensive the entire time and he seems very worried. He should at least try to act tough on the outside since that’s what all of the heroes do anyway. This film just made the mistake of making the villains too powerful. When that happens, the heroes always have to win in really fake ways like what we saw here.

The fight scenes ranged from pretty good to decent. The final fight with Dracula is pretty fun to watch since it’s essentially a monster bout. It was also good to see Dracula’s brides take on the village. Their super speed feats were pretty impressive and they should have destroyed everyone without any real effort. The plot wouldn’t allow it, but that’s how powerful they were. Other battles were less interesting like Van Helsing versus Hyde. It was way too one sided and the fight was pretty boring.

The soundtrack was mostly absent from the film. Luckily, there is still a really good theme that plays during the ending and at one point near the beginning. It’s very operatic and that’s the kind of theme that can make a scene become a lot cooler. It would have been cool if it had played more, but it’s enough to grant the soundtrack a passing score.

Finally, the film did have some unnecessary romance. It’s squeezed in at the last second for the heroes so you can tell that they just wanted to throw it in. Dracula and his brides also have some wince worthy scenes that are pretty sad. Sure, it could be worse, but this certainly didn’t help the film win any points.

Overall, This film lived up to my hopes for a Dracula film. I’ll never like Vampires at this rate and there will likely only be a few exceptions by the end. (Strauss is epic) There was a moment where some animal violence concerned me, but the animal lived, which was great. Still sad to see it get hit, but at least it managed to tank the blast. The film mostly suffered from the fact that it dragged on for too long and it wasn’t terribly interesting. Cutting out Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster would have helped it a lot. Or, make Dracula a compelling character as he punches people out instead of biting them. That could have been a nice twist. This film felt like I Frankenstein, but the normalized version that can be more acceptable to the crowds. Unfortunately, the crowds didn’t include me this time. If you like Vampire movies, then you should like this one. Otherwise, I’d advise you to steer clear of it. Watch I Frankenstein if you want a film with lots of magical creatures going at it. Perhaps I was a little harsh on the film since it could have made more mistakes, but it definitely made enough of them. A cooler cast with better action scenes could have potentially bumped this up to a 6 if handled right. Maybe next time.

Overall 4/10