Goon Review: Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse Soundtrack

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Rock on, Ho-rror Ho-mies! 😉 xo)

Even though Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest wasn’t a hit with the fans, Konami still made a sequel, but decided to bring it back to its original roots and becoming more of the simple side-scrolling game that the first Castlevania was. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse wasn’t just a retread. Not only was it a prequel to the first game, taking place centuries before those events, it also offered the player the ability to switch between playable characters and also take branching paths during certain points in the game. That’s Konami for you. Well, the old Konami. Always thinking outside the box.

The music this time around was different, but still in the same spirit, if that makes sense. In Dracula’s Curse, the tone seems to be much darker and it lacks that poppy punch (that’s the best way that I can describe it) that Simon’s Quest had. I guess the idea was to make it seem more gothic horror, having a much more metallic tinge and slower pace. It certainly fits the image that would pop into your head when you think of Dracula; a dark, blue evening with a full moon reflecting on a thick fog that masks danger. However coming off of Simon’s Quest that arguably has the best score in the entire series, Dracula’s Curse seems to lack that action-hearted punch. Not to say that it’s bad or anything, I just enjoy Simon’s Quest more thoroughly. The soundtrack, not the game.

Mondo’s presentation of Dracula’s Curse, however, is not lacking. The original artwork from Sachin Teng is hypnotically eye catching, making your brain try and piece it all together. Another thing you’ll notice right away is that this soundtrack is spread across two 12″ 180 Gram LPs, one Famicom and the other NES. Both versions have the same 28 tracks (which, by the way, is amazing amount of tracks for an NES game), but once again just as with Simon’s Quest, the Famicom version has a much more rustic sound than the NES version and for this soundtrack, I actually prefer the Famicom version. I feel like it has a much more gothic horror and atmospheric sound and it fits what I feel the game was trying to accomplish. Having said that, I do like the NES version of Stage 01, Beginning and Stage 06, Demon Seed better. Both have a higher energy that their Famicom counterparts don’t seem to have and those are some jazzy, energetic tracks. Konami Kukeiha Club once again did a fantastic job capturing a nightmarish batch of tunes perfectly fitting for a Castlevania game.

The records themselves are really beautiful too. The vinyls I received are orange with some black splatter all over them with tinges of white or silver here and there. There is a variant for you collectors out there, disc one is Trevor Bronze and Alucard Black and disc two is Grant Maroon and Sypha Blue. I haven’t seen those for myself, but I can imagine they are quite a sight to behold.

There’s no better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Castlevania series than with these Mondo soundtracks. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse goes for $30 and while the split colored version is sold out, the orange with black splatter is still available, so get it while it’s hot.

 

#FBF: The “When Betty Met Drac” Edition

Ho-wdy, Ho-rror Ho-mies! Is just me or does cartoon flapper eXXXtraordinaire Betty Boop have a thing for the spooky-cool side of (after)life? She’s always running into demons, ghosts, weirdos, and other creep-peeps I really dig! In this Hollywood on Parade short from 1933, Betty really amps up the fright factor by running into Bela Lugosi, the king of Ho-llywood Ho-rror! The short starts innocuously enough with a Hollywood wax museum… then ends with Dracula (presumably) killing Betty Boop! Ho-ly Heck! Before his unholy deed, Dracula utters what may be his greatest quote ever: “You have booped your last boop!” I bet Bram Stoker is kicking himself for not adding that to his novel! 😉

For the greatest crossover in film history, check out the video below:

P.S.: There is some controversy over who is portraying Ms. Boop in that clip. Some claim it’s original “Boop-a-Doop” girl Helen Kane, others say it’s the famous Mae Questal, and still others say it’s Bonnie Poe. We here at Kinky Horror like to think it’s Ms. Poe… if only because it’s awesome to say “Poe” faced Dracula!

 

A comparison between Bonnie Poe and the Betty Boop in the short.

Goon Reviews: Waxwork Collection

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thank you, Ho-rror Ho-mie! And yeah, we can definitely agree…Waxxx statues are creepy AF!! It seems like they were solely invented for murderin’ purposes!! 😉 xoxo)

Can we agree that wax statues are creepy? Something about their shiny complexion and mannequin-like thousand yard stares that seem to follow you no matter where you are in a room are perfect nightmare fuel and yet very underused in horror film. You have fantastic exceptions like House of Wax (I’m talking the Vincent Price classic) that uses wax shells over human corpses to display the madman’s work. Surprisingly, this is an idea that was never fully exploited in the horror genre. What about rampaging, killer wax statues? Well, something like that did happen and it was actually a lot of fun.

Waxwork was a really imaginative horror comedy from director Anthony Hickox that was fun, adventurous, scary and gory. Like, surprisingly gory. At times, these varying moods can seem confusing as to which age group or audience it’s aiming to please, but a majority of the time they mesh well and make the movie a complete blast to watch. It captures that whole high-school-teens-in-trouble-with-the-supernatural-but-nobody-believes-them concept that the ‘80s loved so much, yet also seemingly captures the whimsy and magical wonder of movies you loved as a kid, except with a lot more creatures eating people and head’s getting cut off. Honestly, at different points in the film I felt like I was watching a fun, enchanted kids fantasy film and then the language and gore will totally throw you for a loop, but it’s a small you loop you learn to accept and it’s blended pretty decently.

Gremlins star Zach Galligan plays rich, spoiled high school elite Mark who acts maybe a little too mature for his age when he isn’t playing the overly jealous and possessive ex-boyfriend role to China. Not the country (lawlz), but the beautiful Michelle Johnson’s character. There seems to be a love triangle between him, her, a couple other dudes and the shy, petite virgin, Sarah (Valley Girl’s Deborah Foreman). Guess who will end up together? This all takes up the first several minutes, probably more, of the movie and kinda sprinkled here and there throughout the movie, but ultimately it’s irrelevant to the main course. A Waxwork operated by the always commanding and charming David Warner appears seemingly out of nowhere overnight and Mark and his friends China, Sarah and Tony (Twin Peaks’ Dana Ashbrook) are invited to check out it’s grand opening. I get a feeling it’s gonna be killer!

I apologize for that last attempt at a joke. I’m writing this while getting over the flu for the second time this year already.

Tony almost immediately finds himself drawn into a werewolf display, quite literally. He instantly begins having a long monologue and believing he was somehow hypnotized and that’s how he can see, feel and smell his surroundings. Gotta give Bobby Briggs credit for keeping his cool and still being a dick about the situation. He comes across a cabin with John Rhys-Davies who turns into a werewolf, which is what I’m sure would happen in real life if you were trapped in a cabin with him. Tony is bitten and begins transforming, but not before some hunters with silver bullets put them down. The camera very artistically pulls out to reveal the aftermath as the display just as Mark walks by looking for his friends who seem to be having their own gory adventures, like China who gets drawn in my Dracula’s gaze or maybe it’s because Miles O’Keefe has that super intense stare. This is one of the more gorier sequences and it uses some of those moments to a more humorous advantage, like with a man strapped to a table missing the meat off his leg and people keep hitting it and he screams in pain as he’s trying to help guide Sarah how to kill the vampires.

With a few friends missing, Sarah and Mark leave and get the police involved, one of which is one of my favorite cliches, a chain smoking detective who has a short temper. This detective takes a walk through the Waxwork and can’t help but notice all of the victims in the displays look a lot like people that have gone missing. Could it be a coincidence? Time to investigate, but not tell any other cops what you’re up to so when you go missing, nobody comes looking for you. There is a point for David Warner to be doing this, I think, that comes out when Mark visits his godfather who reveals to him all kinds of things about the occult and Satan, so you know, typical evil stuff, but it all leads to an absolutely glorious, silly, batshit battle between the wax monsters and a bunch of old guys with sabers. At least watch it for an old man in an electric powered wheelchair covered in flimsy armor and spikes.

I would say that Waxwork is imaginative, creative and a lot of fun most of the time, even if it’s not consistent at those. It’s funny at times, can be creepy and I thought the makeup work was excellent and even with some of the gore cut, it’s still pretty gory, especially when you see an old man get his head yanked off. Each one of the sequences feels like a different short film directed in a different style or by a different person and yet it fits. I especially liked the black and white zombie sequence. The sequel, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, on the other hand, well, is something of the exact opposite of that, but not for the lack of trying. The film certainly tries to recapture that same humor, magic and excitement, but unfortunately feels misguided and nothing seems to work where it should. Most of the jokes aren’t funny, the plot pieces seem out of place and the overall idea seems lost in what it’s trying to do and nothing mixes.

The sequel picks up immediately where the original left off with Mark and Sarah escaping the burning Waxwork building with Mark having significantly longer hair and Sarah significantly being a completely different actress. Clearly some time has passed, plenty of movies have continuity issues between sequels, so let’s just ignore it and move on. Sarah goes home to an almost abusive stepfather played by George ‘Buck’ Flower who’s murdered by the escaped severed hand at the end of the first film, which Sarah then completely pulverised Evil Dead style in the dish drain. Ok, so now that that’s happened, where do you go? How about to a semi-serious courtroom drama about the aftermath of the events and Sarah being on trial for the murder of her stepfather, her friends and the events that happened at the Waxwork? I know this seems like it could be an interesting way to take the franchise at this point, but how do you follow up something that was somewhat lighthearted, magical and scary by throwing in the idea of ‘this is what would happen in real life’? It’s a little jarring and with what’s about to follow, it’s gonna be like mixing peanut butter and shaving cream. Sure, you can do it, but should you? It doesn’t blend well and what you get is a mishmash of ideas that should have been their own entities and an film that leaves you unsure of how to feel.

Shit seems to be getting pretty serious, so the Mark decides that if they travel through time, they can collect some evidence and prove that the magic is real and Sarah will be totally innocent. Yeah, sure, that makes total sense. See what I mean about tonal whiplash? Also at this point, you’re going to start to notice that this is kind of an in name only sequel, meaning the idea of a Waxwork or what you think of is no longer, but it’s more like a continuing adventure, which I have to hand to them for trying something different. We are taken to some rather cool places, like a Frankenstein story where you really learn that the physical humor was really cranked up, but is more noticeably ineffective, a House on Haunted Hill era where I don’t remember what the hell the point of this one was, but like the zombie sequence in the first film is the most memorable and humorous mostly due to Bruce Campbell’s role and his physical humor as well as the camera work and lighting. The last segment is a magical kind of King Arthur sort of story and it’s at this point I had to wonder why this was called Lost in Time when none of the things happening are accurate to time or at least the real world’s time.

Well, short answer is because it’s later explained by a goddamn bird – yes, a bird – that it’s a parallel world. Ok, fair enough, but wouldn’t the title Lost in a Parallel Dimension be more accurate? Probably not as catchy, but at least I wouldn’t be able to call bullshit. I digress, but at this point you’re probably starting to notice just how padded this movie is and it’s going to drag and drag… and drag, especially the ending sword fight, which offers some cool ideas, but at some point you will feel like screaming, “END!” at your television. And it will… nearly two hours later. Yes, this is almost a two hour movie and so much could have been cut out of it. Whereas in the first film director Anthony Hickox managed to find a fine line in between all these different styles and genres, Waxwork II couldn’t find that same comfort zone. Nothing really blends well and you constantly feel like you’re watching a different film.

This is number three in Vestron’s Blu-ray library as a double features and although it’s under one package, each film is on its own disc as new a HD transfer and has their own special features. Well the first film has special features, the second film just has a trailer and audio commentary from Anthony Hickox and Zach Galligan, but you know what mean. The first Waxwork film has a six part documentary called The Waxwork Chronicles, a vintage “making of” featurette, as well as a trailer and a still gallery. Waxwork is also presented uncut, so even if you don’t like the second film, it’s still worth picking up for that alone.

#TBT: Vincent Price’s Dracula

Is there any name more synonymous with exquisite terror than “Dracula?” If there is, it would probably be “Vincent Price.”

Considering how often Dracula is resurrected for film, it’s rather curious that legendary gentleman ghoul Vincent Price never gave us his interpretation of The Count.  Sure, Mr. Price played Dracula’s cousin in a charmingly silly episode of F-Troop, but that’s hardly the same as a full-blooded portrayal of the Prince of Darkness. Casting the ever-elegant Price as the urbane bloodsucker seems like a rather natural choice, but it never happened. We can only speculate on what a Vincent Price Dracula would’ve been like, but that doesn’t that Mr. Price stayed clear of the Dracula legend entirely…

The 1982 documentary Vincent Price’s Dracula (or Dracula: The Great Undead) begins with an opening worthy of any gothic picture: an old carriage cuts through the fog towards an ominous castle.The carriage speeds away, leaving us to wander up to the old fortress. We soon discover that our host for the evening is none other Vincent Price, sporting a smoking jacket and welcoming us in his own inimitable way, informing us that his servants are away. The title appears in a bold, dramatic font: “Vincent Price’s Dracula.”

From this point on, Master Price begins to tell us all about the history of the Count, from the real-life Vlad the Impaler to the Bram Stoker novel to the various films. During the presentation, we are treated to clips from Nosferatu (1922), Vampyr (1932), Mark of the Vampire (1935, erroneously referred to as a 1936 Dracula sequel here), Return of the Vampire (1943), The Vampire (1957) and Return of Dracula (1958). Curiously, the Lugosi Dracula and the Hammer Dracula films are absent here, but I suspect that may have something to do with copyright. At one point, Mr. Price reads an excerpt from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and it as glorious as one would imagine.

Filmed in a spectacularly gothic fashion, Vincent Price’s Dracula is the rare horror documentary that’s as entertainingly dramatic as a true monster movie. Vincent Price is sheer perfection here, but I doubt that would surprise many horror fans. With his trademark humor and regal bearing, Mr. Price seems to relish every moment of the material. Mr. Price was always delightful in everything he graced, no matter how strange or morbid it was. There are few men in horror that are as consistently charming as Vincent Price was and this documentary is drenched with that signature Price charm. In addition to its perfect host, this macabre feature is rich with classic horror embellishments that make this a fantastic watch for all you vampire lovers out there. To my knowledge, it is the only documentary in which the host transforms into a bat at the end.

For you, the Creatures of the Night, I present Vincent Price’s Dracula:

TV Review: Van Helsing: Season 1

(In ho-nor of New Comic Book Day, I figured we’d go another round with our SuperheroScifi guru, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks for reminding me this exxxists, sir. I’m ashamed I haven’t checked it out yet, but I shall correct my misdeeds posthaste! 😉 xoxo)

“Vanessa Helsing, distant relative of famous vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, is resurrected only to find that vampires have taken over the world.”  (SyFy)

At the end of every episode, the credits indicate that this show was “inspired” by the Zenescope comic book.  The similarities between the show and the comic are that they both center on a female relative of vampire hunter Abraham Van Heling., and in both cases, the female lead was resurrected after presumed death. The difference between the two characters are; the comic book version being the daughter of Abraham Van Helsing, resurrected after hundreds of years, while the TV show incarnation is the great, great, great granddaughter of Abraham Van Helsing, who was resurrected three years after death..  If I had to compare this show to anything, I’d say it’s The Walking dead but for vampires. Essentially the story tracks a core group of survivors, who have been combating and also are always on the run from vampires. As for how the vampires took over, and forced humanity into slavery, as well as being their breakfast lunch and dinner, that is explained and I dig the explanation.  A volcano eruption in Wyoming has covered the air with smoke, smog, soot etc. This accumulation of darkness has in effect blocked out the sun, allowing the vampires to rise up and take control of the earth. To prolong the darkness, the vampires have taken control and are messing around with power plants. With all this going on we’re thrown into a feud between two sects of vampires. The ancients and the ferals. Ancients are more humanoid in thought, speech and appearance.  While they can’t live forever, they live several hundreds of years.  Meanwhile, ferals are newly minted vampires, lacking the proper amount of human blood consumption following their turn. This causes diminished intelligence and more animalistic look, mannerisms and behavior.  I love these new added wrinkle in vampire mythology. I also find it unique that both are after Vanessa for different reasons; the Ancients want to use her to prolong their race, while the ferals want to exterminate her to protect themselves. There’s a fascinating power struggle at play in this book.

Having the surname of Helsing isn’t what makes Vanessa so interesting to both sets of Vampires, it’s the blood that courses through her veins that is most unique. One night, before The Rising, single mother Vanessa was celebrating her daughter’s birthday.  The two were attacked by a vampire.  While the young girl escaped, Vanessa was furiously bitten by a feral.  However, rather than turning herself, her external wounds heal, and the vampire who bit her ends up dying. She is taken to a Seattle hospital, for observation, but shortly after The Rising, the military took control of her case and began running tests and experiments on our comatose. Hero   When we pick up her story three years after The Rising, Vanessa awakens in the now run down Seattle hospital while her fellow members of The Resistance, are fending off a vampire attack. Once again Vanessa is bit, however this time, the vampire who bit her begins throwing up blood, appears to die, but later returns to life as a normal human.  The idea of Van Helsing having powers has never been a part of any version I’ve seen or read before. So this is very new and interesting to me. I loved that the reveal of Vanessa’s heritage was a slow burn, over the course of the entire season. I was eagerly awaiting, watching every new episode hoping to get the next piece of the puzzle.  The nature of her abilities is a bit of a mystery. That mystery deepens, when Vanessa is captured by the vampires. There are two instances when this happens, and in both, Vanessa must bite a human and or drink human blood. In both cases, her healing factor quickened and she got stronger. I’m starting to think that Vanessa is somehow a vampire/human hybrid, and that’s why Dimitri wants her, because she can birth them daywalkers, as she is the original daywalker. That’s just my theory for now, so we’ll have to wait until Season 2 to see if I’m right.

I’ve mentioned the resistance Vanessa is in league and travelling worth, so let’s give them a closer look. The core group consists of Axel Miller, Sam, John, Doc, Flesh, Mohamad, and Susan. Each one had unique reasons for taking up the fight against the vampire’s, most of which make you as a viewer instantly connect with them. Even before finding out she was a Van Helsing, Vanessa took up the fight to find her daughter, who had gone missing when Vanessa was attacked. Susan was a neighbor and best friends to Vanessa. Vanessa had saved her from an abusive boyfriend, and then turned her human after they had reunited and Vanessa realized Susan had been turned during The Rising.  Susan fights out of loyalty and payback to her best friend. John is a former military man, along with Axel. After his wife was killed by vampires, his vendetta against them led him to take up arms against them. Doc is the doctor who presided over Vanessa and who the government had working on a cure for vampirism. She was bitten, but Axel kept her confined and fed from his own blood, until Vanessa returned her to human form. Flesh is the first vampire Vanessa encounters, and turns back to a human being. He stays with the resistance to atone for the sins he committed as a vampire, chief among them, slaughtering his wife and kids.  Sam and Mohamad are kind of a package details. Both used to be slaves and escaped. Mohamad now hunts vampires in search of his sister, who is still at one of their slave camps, while Sam has taken to protecting Mohamad.  I thought certain actors deserve recognition for excellent work, while others weren’t so good. Kelly Overton juggled the feelings of confusion over her new status quo, and sadness over her characters missing daughter perfectly, all the while flipping the switch just enough to go full on badass when the character had to fight the undead.  Vincent Gale as the vampire reborn as a human known as Flesh, was strong in portraying his characters sadness and repentant over killing his entire family. He questioned whether he was worthy of forgiveness and a second chance. As a viewer you can believe and appreciate his pain, but also question whether he can truly atone from something so heinous. A fantastic performance was given by Christopher Heyerdahl as Sam. The character of Sam is deaf and suffers a speech impediment. The veteran actor portrays these aspects of his character and the vocal and physical mannerisms with such sincerity and care.  All this is heightened because we’re dealing with a world that is over-run by Vampires. I’m so thrilled the creative team put this actor and character front and center on the show and made him a force to be reckoned with, rather than a frail person in need of rescuing.  My two favorite frightening performances belong to Paul Johansson as Dmitri and Laura Minnelli as Rebecca, The vampire duo don’t speak very often but are so menacing and methodical in their mannerism and movements, they are instantly imposing in every scene they’ re in.  Even if the show was on mute, you’d understand the fear other characters, both vampire and human have towards them.  On occasions when they do speak, there accents are passable, and never end up being over the top. Several actors do give over the top performances.  I thought Rukiya Bernard as Doc and Hilary Jardine as Susan, went unnecessarily over board in most of their scenes, regardless of the events that were unfolding, or the emotion that was called for.  On the other hand, I thought Trezzo Mahoro was rather bland as Mohamad. While I thought the friendship between Mohamad and Sam was written well, the character of Sam elevated it and made it stand out. Finally, actor Jonathan Scarfe who played Axel came off a little too stereotypical armed soldier to me. He felt like a one dimensional G.I. Joe character.

 When I mentioned this show is like The Walking Dead for Vampires, I meant that because our resistance group is constantly on the run from them late in the season. The original base of operation for our resistance is the abandoned hospital outfitted with booby traps and UV lighting, it keeps the vampires away.  When the power source is damaged, Vanessa and Axel head out into the streets on a parts scavenging mission. It is here, they meet another group of resistance fighters who have wounded members. Vanessa and Axel, take them to the hospital. Shortly thereafter, one of the members of the incoming resistance is murdered. Blaming Axel and Vanessa’s crew, the new tenant’s mutiny, taking control of the hospital. Believing Mohamad to be the culprit, they banish him to the unprotected outside world. Axel, Vanessa and crew eventually reverse mutiny, exile their captors and take back control of the hospital. That success is short lived as the vampires use a human to trip up the hospitals U.V defenses and launch an attack.  This forces our protagonist to flee and head to an abandoned army bunker. Their peace and respite are once again upset when a grenade is set off, barricading them inside,  While stuck inside, the murderer seemingly attempts to strike again, when John gets a little too rough with Susan, to the point where he is choking her. The group calls him out on it and upon further investigation, find evidence connecting him to the previous murder.  The group ultimately decides to kill him. Most of the group find a way out of the bunker via underground tunnels, however, one of the key figures in the group is killed, as they try and thwart off vampires in their escape. The remaining survivors head to a farming community of humans who have bargained with the vampires; blood in exchange for peace. A darker pact is revealed. In that the head of the community is providing actual young children and babies are being offered up to the vampires, not just blood. The leader of this group is killed, and Flesh decides to stay with this community to help them rebuild.  As Vanessa and the others embark on their journey to Dmitri’s concentration camp, the killer strikes again, meaning Vanessa and company were wrong in killing John.  The killer is taken out to the woods and wounded to the point where he/she couldn’t get away and was left there as vampire fodder. The Final act of the film finds Vanessa betrayed by one of her own and led straight to Dmitri.  The final battle between Vanessa taking on Dmitri and Rebecca features deception and death. It also answers the question of what happens to Vanessa’s daughter, tantalizingly setting up season 2.

 

This show is insane, in the best possible way. There’s always a threat of a vampire attack and our main characters are always on the run.  As a viewer, just as you get used to their new situations, those situations get upended.   Every time they meet fellow resistance groups, they encounter people who are secretly in league with the vampires.  Some of these defectors happen to be some of the shows main characters. Add to that a serial killer in their midst and WOW! Trust me, you won’t see the reveal for that one coming.  I’m not giving you spoilers on any of the big reveals or events of episodes, because that would absolutely ruin the season as a whole. I love that this show goes the Game of Thrones route and isn’t afraid to kill off, or change the status quo of our main characters. It takes balls to do that, and make things more interesting.  The show doesn’t shy away from violence. Heads are chopped off, vampires are stabbed through the neck etc.  The violence and blood spatter is more in line with Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, you know that hyper exaggerated style.  My top 3 favourite episodes are Help Me, Stay Away, and It Begins. Help Me is the pilot and instead of slow expository setup, it throws you right into the craziness of this post-apocalyptic vampire run world with a vampire attack on our main heroes and their home base.  Stay Away is a great episode because the mysterious killer is revealed. It Begins is the season finale and gives us the war that’s been brewing for the first nine episodes.  The reveal at the end was so big, that it had be going full Darth Vader, screaming “NOOOOOOO”; especially with the knowledge that I’d have to wait for season two.  If you’re a fan of vampires and The Walking Dead formula, this show definitely should be on your watch list.  Finally, SyFy has given us a show we can truly sink our teeth into.