Thursday, August 27, 2009

'Near Dark' - September's Vampire Film

I'm looking forward to this film. I haven't seen it before- we use to have a copy on VHS at the back of the video cupboard, it always looked too scary when I was young. Now however, it looks great, all be it grainy, unsaturated in colour and quite gruesome.

Monday, August 10, 2009

'The Lost Boys' - Spoilers in this Post

This is the Original 1987's theatrical trailer.

I didn't enjoy this one as much as I thought I was going to. I was disappointed when it became obvious, that this was a 'spoof'. Had I realised that it was a comedic take on the genre, I would have perhaps been more open minded - but not necessarily. The gushing, weak-red- cordial-blood, flooding from every piece of plumbing in the house, was just B-grade for me.

But, regardless of whether I liked it or not, 'The Lost Boys' has become a cult classic for Vamp fans. So, it begs to question - why? The interpretation of the vampire myth is quite different from other vampire mythology. They more devoured their victims, rather than just killing them through feeding. I suppose its success is in just what I found annoying- it is funny, but not quite funny enough.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why Vampires Never Die

TONIGHT, you or someone you love will likely be visited by a vampire — on cable television or the big screen, or in the bookstore. Our own novel describes a modern-day epidemic that spreads across New York City.

It all started nearly 200 years ago. It was the “Year Without a Summer” of 1816, when ash from volcanic eruptions lowered temperatures around the globe, giving rise to widespread famine. A few friends gathered at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva and decided to engage in a small competition to see who could come up with the most terrifying tale — and the two great monsters of the modern age were born.

One was created by Mary Godwin, soon to become Mary Shelley, whose Dr. Frankenstein gave life to a desolate creature. The other monster was less created than fused. John William Polidori stitched together folklore, personal resentment and erotic anxieties into “The Vampyre,” a story that is the basis for vampires as they are understood today.

With “The Vampyre,” Polidori gave birth to the two main branches of vampiric fiction: the vampire as romantic hero, and the vampire as undead monster. This ambivalence may reflect Polidori’s own, as it is widely accepted that Lord Ruthven, the titular creature, was based upon Lord Byron — literary superstar of the era and another resident of the lakeside villa that fateful summer. Polidori tended to Byron day and night, both as his doctor and most devoted groupie. But Polidori resented him as well: Byron was dashing and brilliant, while the poor doctor had a rather drab talent and unremarkable physique.

But this was just a new twist to a very old idea. The myth, established well before the invention of the word “vampire,” seems to cross every culture, language and era. The Indian Baital, the Ch’ing Shih in China, and the Romanian Strigoi are but a few of its names. The creature seems to be as old as Babylonia and Sumer. Or even older.

The vampire may originate from a repressed memory we had as primates. Perhaps at some point we were — out of necessity — cannibalistic. As soon as we became sedentary, agricultural tribes with social boundaries, one seminal myth might have featured our ancestors as primitive beasts who slept in the cold loam of the earth and fed off the salty blood of the living.

Monsters, like angels, are invoked by our individual and collective needs. Today, much as during that gloomy summer in 1816, we feel the need to seek their cold embrace.

Herein lies an important clue: in contrast to timeless creatures like the dragon, the vampire does not seek to obliterate us, but instead offers a peculiar brand of blood alchemy. For as his contagion bestows its nocturnal gift, the vampire transforms our vile, mortal selves into the gold of eternal youth, and instills in us something that every social construct seeks to quash: primal lust. If youth is desire married with unending possibility, then vampire lust creates within us a delicious void, one we long to fulfill.

In other words, whereas other monsters emphasize what is mortal in us, the vampire emphasizes the eternal in us. Through the panacea of its blood it turns the lead of our toxic flesh into golden matter.

In a society that moves as fast as ours, where every week a new “blockbuster” must be enthroned at the box office, or where idols are fabricated by consensus every new television season, the promise of something everlasting, something truly eternal, holds a special allure. As a seductive figure, the vampire is as flexible and polyvalent as ever. Witness its slow mutation from the pansexual, decadent Anne Rice creatures to the current permutations — promising anything from chaste eternal love to wild nocturnal escapades — and there you will find the true essence of immortality: adaptability.

Vampires find their niche and mutate at an accelerated rate now — in the past one would see, for decades, the same variety of fiend, repeated in multiple storylines. Now, vampires simultaneously occur in all forms and tap into our every need: soap opera storylines, sexual liberation, noir detective fiction, etc. The myth seems to be twittering promiscuously to serve all avenues of life, from cereal boxes to romantic fiction. The fast pace of technology accelerates its viral dispersion in our culture.

But if Polidori remains the roots in the genealogy of our creature, the most widely known vampire was birthed by Bram Stoker in 1897.

Part of the reason for the great success of his “Dracula” is generally acknowledged to be its appearance at a time of great technological revolution. The narrative is full of new gadgets (telegraphs, typing machines), various forms of communication (diaries, ship logs), and cutting-edge science (blood transfusions) — a mash-up of ancient myth in conflict with the world of the present.

Today as well, we stand at the rich uncertain dawn of a new level of scientific innovation. The wireless technology we carry in our pockets today was the stuff of the science fiction in our youth. Our technological arrogance mirrors more and more the Wellsian dystopia of dissatisfaction, while allowing us to feel safe and connected at all times. We can call, see or hear almost anything and anyone no matter where we are. For most people then, the only remote place remains within. “Know thyself” we do not.

Despite our obsessive harnessing of information, we are still ultimately vulnerable to our fates and our nightmares. We enthrone the deadly virus in the very same way that “Dracula” allowed the British public to believe in monsters: through science. Science becomes the modern man’s superstition. It allows him to experience fear and awe again, and to believe in the things he cannot see.

And through awe, we once again regain spiritual humility. The current vampire pandemic serves to remind us that we have no true jurisdiction over our bodies, our climate or our very souls. Monsters will always provide the possibility of mystery in our mundane “reality show” lives, hinting at a larger spiritual world; for if there are demons in our midst, there surely must be angels lurking nearby as well. In the vampire we find Eros and Thanatos fused together in archetypal embrace, spiraling through the ages, undying.


Guillermo del Toro, the director of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and Chuck Hogan are the authors of “The Strain,” a novel.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Lost Boys

I had mixed feelings about the The Lost Boys. I was expecting something darker and edgier. It was very much a comedy featuring 80s music with a bit of teen horror thrown in. The movie is thoroughly situated in the 1980s and the worst aspects of that decade's fashions are played up to such an extreme that it is hard to see past the big hair and awful clothes. The usual vampire aesthetic of dark, underground gothic, is replaced with a crumbling resort hotel, however, the hotel set brings little to the meaning of the movie.
There is nothing sensual about the vampires of The Lost Boys, no point where the viewer might feel some sense of identification with or longing for these vampires. In comparison with last month's Movie The Hunger 1983, The Lost Boys seems dated. The acting of Bernard Hughes as grandpa and Dianne Weist as Mum was excellent they were convincing and their comic moments truly funny, but the rest of the acting left me cold. Not on my list of favourite Vampire movies.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Fool there Was 1916 & Blood: The Last Vampire 2000

Movies for May meeting

A Fool there Was 1916 staring Theda Bara

Caution, there are spoliers in this commentary.

and Blood: The Last Vampire 2000( a vampire anime movie)

Looking forward to contrasting these two incredibly different movies.

Raven ( PK)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In is a 2008 Swedish Vampire film directed by Tomas Alfredson, based on the novel by the same name, and written by John Ajvide Lindqvist. WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

Note: We started our discussion via email too hastily, so I am posting those email comments here:

Hi Guys
This is a fantastic review of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, and addresses the homosexual elements.

Go have a look at this blog!! BK

Guys I just read the posts at the end of the blog it explains the shot where we see Eli naked in the bathroom if you want to know what that meant. Sorry that is in the first blog. Now I really am going to have to read the book. JF

Yes, I agree I am going to read it for sure
I don’t think it was her dad, I think it was a pedophilic relationship.
I actually thought that maybe that the blood was her payment, which provides the motivation for him getting her the blood. But I suppose I will have to read the book. I think it is a real shame that they left all this stuff out of the movie. BK

Hello Fangsters
Thanks for the discussion on Friday and picking up on some things I hadn't thought about before.
It was very informative for me. You're all very clever - perhaps a bit TOO clever if you know what I mean (No, neither do I).

Here are some comments regarding Eli(as) and bonus scenes that were cut from the film.

A new Korean vampire film by Chan-Wook Park has just been released called Thirst.

I'm very much looking forward to this one as he's a filmmaker I very much admire. I think this is his first foray into genre film making so it should be quite interesting. JD

Certain scenes and themes take on a whole new meaning when you know the back story to Eli I think and I have no idea why they put the bathroom scene in the movie when they cut the back story out. It will be really interesting to read the book and find out who/what the man (did we even know his name?) was to Eli, I am going to stick with my guess from Friday night but it would not be the first time I had been way off base. Not that that doesn’t mean that there was a pedophilic relationship happening obviously as Oscar gets older that would develop?? I wonder what his reaction would be when he realized what “I am not a girl” really means We seem to have more questions than answers at the moment.

I have to say that this movie has really stayed with me.
JD thanks for the links they were great by the way

Thirst looks great it is another one for the list I think. JF

Hi all,
Thanks for the links JD, very interesting (I couldn't get the deleted scene to open for some reason though). I've had some thoughts on the movie:

I agree with you Jo, this film has really stayed with me as well. I've been thinking about the title... On the one hand the title "Let the Right One In" refers to the notion that you have to be careful who you 'invite' in to your home, they might be a vampire. On the other hand, it might also suggest that Eli needs to 'let the right one in' - to let the right one into her world, to choose the right mate for her own survival?

I found a reviewer that mentioned that the title was based on a Morrissey song also called "let the right one in" so I looked up the lyrics... really interesting,

Let the right one in
Let the old dreams die
Let the wrong ones go
They cannot
They cannot
They cannot do what you want them to do
Oh ...

And when at last it does
I'd say you were within your rights to bite
The right one and say, "what kept you so long ?"
"What kept you so long ?"
Oh ...

In relation to the lyrics it would seem that Eli needs to let the 'new' one in, and let the old one die... "let the wrong ones go".

I've also been wondering about the creepiness of this film, while it wasn't scary for me it certainly was disturbing - it seems to me that a great deal of the creepiness and the pathos of these characters comes from the fact that they are just children caught up in a world of violence and loneliness outside of their control. On top of this they live in an extremely hostile and unforgiving physical environment. The more I think about it the more I sympathise with Eli's character (even though she is a murderer). Despite the fact that she is a vampire she is also a very human character - when Oskar asks her if she is dead she replies 'no'. VKK

Hi all,
I agree VKK, they are really interesting ideas.
I wondered that too JF, why cut all that stuff out? But maybe it took to story sideways too much?

I have thought quite a bit about the film since Friday as well. It is one of those films that hang around, nagging you.
I have continued to wonder about that alienating, disturbing filmic style. I think it falls into Film Noir or Neo Noir.
I know film noir is usually associated with 1940’s B&W detective, but…
Then I got to thinking, who is the hero, I think Eli is, she saves the man who was helping her from his pain, and from the law and she saves Oskar from his lonely, bullied existence. Although she is a small, ugly vampire with very little in the way of ‘thrall’, we sympathise with her and we are really glad that she found Oskar to help her.

There is interesting stuff on Film Noir here, this is quote from the link below.
Beginning in the 1980s, neo-noir began linking noir with dystopian science fiction in films like Blade Runner (1982), Radioactive Dreams (1985), the Terminator series of films, and Minority Report (2002). Film noir presents a world gone sour and presumes the failure of utopian Modernism; similarly, an enduring strain of science fiction evident since George Orwell's 1948 novel, 1984, has depicted the future as a failed past. The central character of the futuristic Blade Runner speaks with a world-weary cynicism that evokes that of 1940s hard-boiled detectives.
What do you guys think? BK

BK, I agree that Eli is in some ways the hero of the story. She also gives Oskar the courage to stand up for himself when no one else will. After he hit that guy in the head there was a shift in his character he become more confident in way he even began standing up to Eli – refusing to invite her in comes to mind. Eli also literally saves Oskar in the pool at the end of the movie.

VKK, I have to agree, it was a very creepy movie. I never really saw Eli as the murderer though until she killed the boys in the pool at the end. Yes she killed people but that was because she has to it was clearly something she struggled with doing. Although on reflection she had no problem getting someone to do it for her!! JF

Hi all,
I haven’t been able to get this movie out of my mind either.
Did anyone notice that at one point Oskar asked how she got there and she said she flew? (or was I just tired and imagined it?) I also thought it very interesting that all the way through we were led into a false sense of sympathy for the dirty little waif – until her true strength and abilities were revealed in the pool scene. Funny though, I never really viewed her as a child, more like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

I thought it was very interesting that the superhuman qualities associated with vampires such as her scaling walls, flying etc. was underplayed in contrast to her more ‘human’ qualities (until the end that is). So nice to see a vampire film that also focuses more on the drama than on special effects. I think that’s why I keep thinking about it. Maybe we should put this on our “must see again sometime” list! KM

KM, you were not imagining that she did say that she flew there – interesting, wonder what she meant by that. For the record I am officially banned from talking about it at home now.

I did feel sorry for her at one point, it was the first time that we saw her kill to feed. She was sitting on top of the victim and she rested her head on the body once he was dead. I got the impression that she was crying about what she had to do, did anyone else get that impression?

It should be on the must see again list and maybe the must discuss again list as well. I was on my way home Friday night in the car and I kept thinking of all of these things I wanted to bring up. I think this is the kind of movie you need to mull over for a few days and let the layers unravel a little. JF

Hello Fellow Vampsters
I'm enjoying your insights and would like to address a couple of comments, but I won't because I'm tired and have to go to sleepy-poos.
In the meantime here's a link to an interview with the author of the book and screenwriter for the film.

It's a little on the long side but a worthwhile read with lots of info that may answer some of your questions.

Also, short responses to some comments:-

Eli Murderer? No!
Film Noir? No!

More later. JD

In reply to JD’s emphatic, and apparently definitive conclusion:

Eli Murderer? No!
Film Noir? No!

Thanks for the opening into a passionate debate on this point, because I totally disagree on both counts.
Firstly here are just a few definitions of Film Noir.

Film noir (a movie that is marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, menace, and cynical characters) "film noir was applied by French critics to describe American thriller or detective films in the 1940s"

A film / movie characterized by low-key lighting, a bleak urban setting, and corrupt, cynical or desperate characters

Are films with a grim, urban setting that deal mainly with dark and violent passions in a downbeat way. ...

I think it is in part, modern Noir; this film crosses a lot of genres.

As to whether Eli is a murderer, how else can it be described? Not only does he/she procure helpers to kill for her, but she kills at least six people during the movie. Ok, she has to feed, but most sympathetic vampires at least seek out the evil in the world to feed on, or choose to feed on animals. Not only does she kill the bullies who are ready to kill the Oskar, but she entices a man, who is described by his friend as "the kindest man I know", to come to her aid under the bridge, and then brutally kills him.

Virginia was a poor lonely character who harmed no one, and she was jumped on from the bridge and killed. Do we say that the pirates of Somalia have to live somehow, so they are not guilty of piracy, murder etc?

I think the choice to have her feed on good or innocent people, and Oskar’s willingness to help or at least guard her, was intentional and intensifies the moral ambiguity of both the child characters. PK

The question as to whether or not Eli is a murderer weighed on me a little bit. As I said earlier I never really saw her as a murderer until the last scene where she killed the boys in the pool, but and this is a big but, she never had a problem getting someone else to do the killing for her. Also it would seem by what happened to Virginia that she could not just feed, she had to kill, but the man could have drain some of their blood but let them live (ignoring of course witnesses)

I guess the question, for me is anyway, is she in fact an animal? (if she was an animal then it would not be murder) I have to say that she is not an animal, so any life that she takes, whether or not they are good or bad victims, makes her a murderer. I think part of the issue for me was that I felt sorry for Eli (as I believe we were intended to do) until I realized that she was not in fact the victim in this story. I have come to think that even though she didn’t feed on Oskar he was in fact her prey and he will one day end up like the man that was looking after Eli killing for her and being killed when he is no longer of use.

Eli may be in the body of a 12yr old but she is anything but 12yrs old. I think she is a master manipulator.
I will leave the debate about Film Noir to those that know. JF

Eli Murderer? No!
Film Noir? No!
Ha-Ha! Yeah, it's certainly lacking some meat on the bone there. I didn't mean to make it sound emphatic and definitive. I had all good intentions to clarify my view on these things before your wonderful and robust argument came crashing into my groin :(

Damn you’re well thought out arguments!

When VKK first brought up the 'Murderer' tag I was struggling to accept it for a ridiculously long time. I'm still not totally convinced. Eli is a killer for sure, but a murderer?

I would no sooner call a lion a murderer for felling its prey. That's why I make that distinction. She behaves exactly like a predatory animal that needs to feed. The growling, the large eyes, the way she feeds on her victims demonstrates that her humanity has left the building at that point.

Virginia was a poor lonely character who harmed no one, and she was jumped from the bridge.

I don't think Eli knew that Virginia was a poor lonely character. Do you think that Eli may have acted differently if she had that information? I'm not sure it would have made any difference because she was in hunting mode.

Do we say that the pirates of Somalia have to live somehow, so they are not guilty of piracy, murder etc?
I agree that they are guilty and should be charged within the full extent of 'human' law. If Eli were caught, would (s)he be charged with murder?

The pool incident is certainly problematic to my viewpoint but to my way of thinking she could be seen as a Wolf mother protecting its cub. Or the queen alien in Aliens protecting her eggs (hoo-boy! this is the point where I think I’ve totally lost it).

I think I may be getting bogged down with legal semantics here and my sympathy towards the Eli character may be clouding my judgment.

This film has presented ambiguous characters with ambiguous morals in ambiguous situations which have forced me to give ambiguous answers because I suck at arguing. Can't we just be friends?

Anyhoo, Film noir.

I was thinking of classic noir of the 40s and 50s when BK mentioned it the other day and for me it didn't seem like a comfortable fit. My definition was much too narrow to encompass this film.

Here's a quote "A majority of critics, however, regard comparable movies made outside the classic era to be something other than genuine film noirs."

As I understand it the critics are still arguing to this day as to what constitutes film noir outside the classic period. My personal feeling is that this film doesn't satisfy my narrow definition of film noir :)

I think it is in part, modern Noir; this film crosses a lot of genres.

Four genres according to this site. JD

Fangsters first Meetings

"Vampire" - a glamorous and terrifying creature of the night that has simultaneously frightened and fascinated us for centuries. From the very beginnings of film history the Vampire has held its own as a presence of darkness, sexuality, and difference. Neither dead nor alive the figure of the vampire never fails to lure us in with the thrill of its rebelliousness, its threat of infection, and its deviant sexuality. From the cult classic Nosferatu with its silent and predatory Count Orlok, to the many Draculas that have populated the big screen, to the larger than life peroxided-punk hottie Spike, the vampire in all it's 'otherness' repels as it attracts.
On this site you'll find information about our Wollongong based Film Studies Group - "Vampire Studies", as well as articles and other vampire related information.

Founded in 2009, Vampire Studies is a Wollongong based Vampire Film Studies group. All the members of our group are avid fans of vampire fiction, film and any vampire television series we can get our hands on, as well as all things vampire in popular culture.
Our group is relatively new so our objectives are fairly simple at present: to explore the variable nature of vampire myth in film. We aim to investigate how the vampire films we study conform to - or digress from - the dominant myths of the vampire genre. In doing so we also aim to explore these issues according to socio-cultural, religious, gender, and sexual issues that abound in the time of the films production. Additionally, we are interested in the conventions of Film Noir and of horror film in relation to vampire myth and representation.
Our plan is to begin our studies with the cult classic Nosferatu (1922) directed by German Expressionist film maker F. W. Murnau. Our selection of films for study is fairly subjective and is roughly chronological.