#FangsFridayFlashback: The “Barnabas Collins Gives Good Head” Edition

Thank God it’s Frid-ay, Kinky Kreeps! ;))

It’s another fang-tastic day, so we’re talkin’ about Barnabas Collins, the groovy vampire from TV’s Dark Shadows!
Before Edward sparkled in the sun, Johnathan Frid as Barnabas Collins was the heartless heartthrob who broke the hearts of teen ghouls everywhere. For monster kids, he was koolest korpse on the small scream.

When Barnabas ruled the night, they plastered his undead mug on just about everything… board games, joke books, toys, comic, and Horror Heads!

What were the Ho-rror Heads, you ask? Well, the Ho-rror Heads were probably the weirdest and most awesome thing to come out the popularity of Dark Shadows… besides the time Barnabas met Bozo the Clown. (True story!! :))

These strange little doll heads were like the unholy love-child of Madballs and carnival punks. They came in Barnabas (‘natch), Quentin the Werewolf, and… a witch. That last one’s a bit odd because the witch in the line is a generic Halloween witch and not Angelique, the main witch on Dark Shadows. But I guess it doesn’t matter which witch is which… 😉

For pure Dark Shadows awesome, check out the commercial below:

Splatterday Matinee Virtual Drive-In: The “Titans of Terror” Edition

Salutations, Students of the Macabre! Today is an eXXXtra special day for us Kinky Krees! We’re skull-ebrating the birthdays (and pure amazingness) of a peerless Triple Threat of Classic Ho-rror Greatness: the abominable Vincent Price, the vampiric Christopher Lee, and the madly scientific Peter Cushing!
Yessiree, Blob! Vinnie P. and Chris Lee were born on this day and Peter C. was born yesterday!  We’ve ho-nored the un-ho-ly heck out of these Princes of Darkness many times before, but they deserve it! These three gentle-monsters represent the very best that ho-rror cinema has to offer. Even in the goofiest, ho-kiest picture, these gentleman brought a supernatural grace and dignity. They made our collective nightmares pleasant ones and gave the Creatures of the Night a cool elegance. If there were a Mount Rushmore of Ho-rror (Mount Blood-Gushmore? Mount Rushgore?), you better believe these ghoulish gents would be on it!
For their Birthdays, we’ve put together the very first Kinky Horror Virtual Drive-In! We’re giving you a spooky-cool drive-in eXXXperience from the (dis)comfort of your tomb! There’s just no better way to ho-nor our Birthday Boils than to show off the ghoulish performances that stole our hearts and turned our hair white!.
First, a cartoon starring Mr. Price! After all, it is Saturday morning (somewhere ;)), so let us do it up right! The cartoon is an episode of 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo and it features Vincent Price as… well, Dr. Strange! A legally safe knock-off, that is. Since Vinnie P. inspired Dr. Strange, I suppose we can’t get TOO mad. 🙂 Besides, anything that features Vincent Price fighting ghosts and demons with black magic (and the Scooby Gang! :)) is spooky-cool by me!

Next, a friendly word from our sponsor and Mr. Cushing. (#GushingForCushing :)) You’ll have to pardon Peter… he’s having a guest DROP in! 🙂

Now, an important educational short from Mr. Lee. If you’re going to stay in this crazy game called Life, you’re gonna have to do The Time Warp! You may even need to The Time Warp… again! Mr. Lee is here to show you how it’s done! 🙂

And now…

Hammer Films gave history the (severed) finger with Rasputin – The Mad Monk! Christopher Lee gives one of his best performances as the maniacal mystic. If you ever wanted to see the story of Rasputin done as a Dracula film, this one’s for you!

The Doctor is In… Sane! Vincent Price slays again in this Art Deco nightmare! (Not to be confused with the Kinky Ho-rror writer of the same name…That’s totally a coincidence! ;)0


And for the last of the trailers, Peter Cushing is one of eight potential werewolves in The Beast Must Die, a ho-wlin’ whodunit from the folks at Amicus. The only film with the WEREWOLF BREAK, an inserted 30-second break that asks YOU to guess the werewolf’s identity! (So. Freaking. Rad!!! :))

And now it’s time for our…

Our first film is The Satanic Rites of Dracula, the last of the Hammer Dracula films. It’s nowhere near the quality of the earlier films, but it’s an interesting mix of spy thriller and Gothic ho-rror. Dracula really thinks big in this one. Instead of biting the necks a few buXXXom maidens, he plans on destroying the world! No, Drac! It’s best place to find awesome ho-rror films!

Horror of Dracula (1958)

While it’s not their best film, Satanic Rites of Dracula features Christopher Lee’s Dracula and Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing together again for the last time. Heck, Chris Lee’s Drac even gets some decent lines in this one! It ain’t perfect, but it does showcase two greats doing their freaky thing!

For a bit o’ Lee and Cushing, check out the film below:

INTERMISSION

We’re back! Our last attraction is The Last Man on Earth with, you guessed it, Vincent Price! The film is the first adaptation of Richard Matheson and the closest to the source material. Vinnie P. goes a full-blown stake-out here, eXXXisting as the only human in a world of vampires. What’s great about this film is that it’s one of the few times Vincent Price got to be the hero in a fright film. In this film, he’s not the monster… or is he!?!!? 😉

To see that the Price is Fright, check out the film below:


Here’s to you, gents! Thanks for making the world a creepier place! 🙂

A Very El Santo Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo to all you Cool Ghouls and Groovie Ghoulies out there! The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla, but it has also become day to celebrate MeXXXican culture. In that spirit, I would like to take a moment to ho-nor El Santo, one of history’s greatest masked men.

Santo was born Rodolfo Guzman Huerta in 1917 and went on to become a real-life superhero. Santo’s wrestling career spanned nearly five decades, and he appeared in dozens of movies and comic books. Through his many appearances, he became a modern folk hero and, as Google put it, “a cultural icon, representing justice and the fight against evil.” The veiled victor went to great lengths to keep his face hidden away, even going as far as to have a special “mealtime” mask made for eating. The only time he removed his mask was in 1984 as a final goodbye to his fans. He died just a week later and was buried in his legendary mask.

To ho-rror fans, El Santo will always be known for his numerous monster films. The wrestling wonder went hand-to-claw with vampires, aliens, wolfmen, The Phantom of the Opera (El Estrangulador), zombies, cyclopes, and just about every fiend imaginable. Best of all, he bested every one of them with his fantastic wrestling skills! El Santo is Batman and Van Helsing rolled into one unstoppable monster-punching machine. No creature of the night stands a chance against the camel clutch of Santo!

In ho-nor of Cinco de Mayo and The Silver Maskman, we have Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro for your viewing pleasure! This is the definitive El Santo adventure, with its blend of whacked-out wrestling weirdness and deliciously Gothic atmosphere. While this version refers to El Santo as “Samson,” there’s no doubt this is the same butt-kicking luchador we all know and love. El Santo, by any other name, is still hard to beat.

Click on the box below to see El Santo in action:

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Fright Fans! 🙂 xoxo

#TataTuesday: The Outdoor Nudity Edition, Part 5

(Submitted by our beloved Smutmaster, Eric…Thanks, Kinky Ho-miebot! 🙂 xoxo)

Featuring: Kayden Kross, Sophie Dee, Ania Spiering, Kellie Cockrell & Monique Parent

The Hungover Games (2014)

 Blood Scarab (2008)


Bonus:

Diana the Vampire Slayer.

(LOL Aww…Thanks for including me, Smutmaster! 🙂 xoxo)

#MonsterMovieMonday: “It Came from the Malt Shop” Double Feature in Shock-o-Rama!


“Today we are concerned with juvenile delinquency – its causes – and its effects. We are especially concerned when this delinquency boils over into our schools.The scenes and incidents depicted here are fictional. However, we believe that public awareness is a first step towards a remedy for any problem.”

The previous quote comes from the opening text of 1955’s The Blackboard Jungle. That film features very little in the way of fangs and gore, but it does highlight one of the primary fears of the 1950s: teenagers.

Ho-rrible, ain’t they? The adults of the time thought so.  There was a widespread fear of juvenile delinquency, with “experts” claiming that post-WWII children were lazy, spoiled, reckless, disrespectful, violent, and just plain rude. Because of this, teenagers and youth culture were demonized and maligned to an extreme. Horror, being the genre that deals the most with society’s fear and anxiety, took this growing issue to the logical next step and made literal monsters of teenagers.


With the success of I Was a Teenage Werewolf in the summer of 1957, a horde of adolescent abominations invaded cinemas for the next few years. The next two teen terror tales to take the theaters were I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and Blood of Dracula, both films being part of a double feature in the November of 1957. While we couldn’t possibly top the drive-in eXXXperience, we are presenting the gruesome twosome here in this very post!
The monsters in both features are among the very best of ’50s schlock. I Was a Teenage Frankenstein‘s tit-ular ghoul looks very much like an apple sculpture shrunken head, and the teen vampire in Blood of Dracula looks like a creation from Dick Smith’s Do It Yourself Monster Make-Up. Both are utterly fantastic.

While Teenage Frankenstein is the clear winner here, both deliver on the teen thrills and chills.  My only complaint with Blood of Dracula is the title. How does the same studio behind the other two I Was a Teenage… miss out on the opportunity to call their vampire film I Was a Teenage Dracula?! Perhaps if they had done that, we’d be listening to Cramps song with that title…

For all you Hepcats and Kittens out there, here’s the double feature:

 

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.

 

Comic Book Review – The Lost Boys

(Submited by our Heroic Ho-mie, Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Sir! 🙂 xoxo)

“Santa Carla, California is on edge. The eccentric coastal town and haven for the undead was finally returning to “normal” after its last supernatural scuffle left the local coven’s head vampire dead and gave newcomers Michael and Sam Emerson a housewarming both violent and bizarre. Now the brothers must once again team up with militant vampire hunters Edgar and Allan Frog when a new gang of ruthless, stunning, life-sucking nightcrawlers known as the Blood Belles emerges from the aftermath to collect Michael’s love interest and their lost sister, Star.” (Vertigo)

It’s confession time; I have never seen The Lost Boys. I know, shame on me! The only reason I knew of it was because Kiefer Sutherland was in it. I really became intrigued by it, when Ms. Diana Prince got all excited over The CW developing a TV series based on the film property. So I tracked down the film, before hitting another stumbling block. That stumbling block was the film being directed by Joel Schumacher. Ever since Batman & Robin, my movie viewing has consisted of a “Sans Schumacher” rule. So I thought me and this film ever crossing paths was a no go! Then DC Entertainment, through the Vertigo imprint announced a comic book miniseries. So this was my compromise. Having read the book, and thoroughly enjoying it, as well as for reviewing purposes for this site; I will break my “Sans Schumacher” rule and watch The Lost Boys! See how much I love this site! Aside from liking this book, another reason I must watch the movie is because this book is a sequel to the film! I simply have to watch the events that led to this story unfold. Having said that, if you’re like me and have never seen the film, this book is not confusing. It tells you the basics. Brothers Sam and Michael move to Santa Carla. Michael falls for a girl he meets on the boardwalk named Star. However, Star has ties to a guy named David, a Vampire. Michael is lured into and seduced by the world of the Vampire’s. That leaves Sam, his grandfather James, and two other Vampire Hunters known as the Frog Brothers to save Michael. Our story picks up with the David and his gang of Vampire’s seemingly dead. Sam works at the local comic book shop (bonus points), Michael works at a retirement home, but is also making a life with Star, who’s trying to live amongst us as a human with his family. Meanwhile, his grandfather operates a flailing vampire hunters group out of a Veterans Center known as the Santa Carla Hunters Union. What I loved about this early portion of the book was that writer Tim Seeley catches the reader up to speed with the film just enough, yet works some other spoilery pertinent information about the film for later, when it serve his new story. I enjoyed the Frog Brothers. They kind of remind me of a younger version of Bill and Ted, mixed with the Stranger Thing kids. My one problem is that they seem to be too young for any responsible adult to train and allow go out & hunt Vampires. This is the same problem I have with Bruce Wayne allowing and training 9 year old Dick Grayson to fight crime and be his partner. Both cases are socially and morally irresponsible. Maybe it’ll play out differently when I watch the film, but right now, as they are presented in the book, it bugs me a little. I like that Sam works at a comic book store and in said store, there is a book that mirrors the events of the film. I like when comics and movies have that cool Meta aspect to them.

The peaceful status quo is interrupted when a fire erupts at SCHU headquarters. This lures the remaining few hunter left outside and the vampires kill them, including Michael and Sam’s grandfather. This action causes Star to flee and Michael to chase after her. Meanwhile, the Frog brothers are on the case, trying to figure out what the vampires are up to. Armed with wooden stakes, crosses, holy water and garlic, they find themselves at the Santa Carla Sea Caves, where they discover an underground female gang of vampires known as the blood belles, who revived David and secretly used an unknowing Star, to lure Michael and the Frog Brothers to their caves. Their ultimate goal; to resurrect the lost Vampire City of Xibalba, which had been lost under these caves thanks to earthquakes for six thousand years. Along with the city, their inhabitants, the Mothers of Vampires will be resurrected. To do this, they need to drain the blood of a half human/vampire of his blood, which is why they have Michael, as well as sacrifice a virgin, which is why they kidnapped the Frog brothers. This aspect of the story offers so much to like. First, is the classic method to kill a vampire. I’m a sucker for the tried and true techniques of killing a vampire and it’s nice to not see a story try and reinvent the wheel just to be different. I love that the new vampire threat in town is a gang of women, better still that they are revving an ancient civilization’s group of vampire’s. With rare exceptions like Buffy, Vampirella and Van Helsing, the vampire genre’s history is to position women in the roles of damsel’s in distress. It’s good to see them take the lead here and to be villainesses power houses too! Even David, the lead Vampire is working FOR them. He is their minion and that is a bold statement by our writer. As for how David survived death from the film? He was given an injection of blood from the Mother’s in stasis, which heals his wounds. I like the idea that their blood can save fellow vampires, as well as the conceit that a mere injection of vampire blood can turn humans into vampires. Typically, a human injected with vampire blood has to die before turning but here the change can happen amongst the living, which is unique. At least to me it is. Star’s Sire and chief member of the Blood Belle’s, Billy was the daughter of a master and a slave. While she was freed, she was chased by a witch hunter who branded her with the mark of a witch. As a result, her townspeople attempted to burn her. However, she was saved by a vampire, one of the original Blood Belle’s. Ultimately, she dies in the third act of this book, by watching sunrise, one last time. I was entranced by her origin but feel as though it was glossed over. They could do her origin story and early history justice with a comic book miniseries. Her death served to tell the reader that in this books mythology, when a sire dies, their offspring return to being human. This presents Star with a dilemma at the end of the story. Does she take the injection of blood from the mothers of vampires, or does she live out her days as a human, waiting to succumb to her pre-vampire disease of cystic fibrosis? Oh btw I am so not spoiling the end. Read it and see for yourself.

I do have some problems with the finale of the book. For one, Michael, Star and the Frog Brothers are rescued by Sam and an underdeveloped character known as The Believer. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy this guy as a vampire hunter. He has more in common with Ashton Kutcher in Dude Where’s My Car, than he does with Abraham van Helsing. Not to mention, we’ve already chronicled Sam’s non experience as a vampire hunter. The Mothers of Vampire’s were built up as such a threat, with their blood holding so much power, yet, they are given so little time to showcase their true levels of badassery. In the end, they are felled by a Vampire bomb thrown into the cave by Sam, which causes the cave to crumble on top of them. I think that was a waste of great setup for these characters. Also a waste, was the subplot of the residents of the Hughes Retirement Home being turned into vampires. First off, the turn was done off page, so you didn’t know it happened until you see them. Add to that, the fact that they are confronted and killed within half an issue. This book suffers from pacing problems, and could have easily been an 8 or 12 issue maxi series. All is not lost though. These problems could be fixed in a follow-up comic, which I believe is likely, since the ending suggests that original Lost Boy, David, once again escapes eternal death in this story.

Steve Godlewski is the artist for this book and provides great work. While his art is nowhere near as realistic looking as Alex Ross, I think the characters bare a strong resemblance to their film actor counter parts. This is especially true of David. You can definitely see a young Kiefer Sutherland in the rendering. One panel that is particularly beautiful is the shot of the Santa Carla boardwalk all lit up during a night setting. Also, in terms of picturesque beauty, the final image of Michael and Star kissing on the bluff as the sun sets, looks like something you’d see in and old school film like Gone With the Wind. Let’s get to the vampires shall we. I loved the look and wardrobe of the Mothers of Vampires. The Ancient Egyptian look really gave weight to their distinction as the mothers of vampires. One extremely striking image was the pages featuring the residence of the old age home as vampires. It’s striking because recent movies, television and books don’t depict elderly people as vampires. It’s typically reserved for the “young and beautiful.” The most gruesome images of the book go to the flashback of Billy being burned at the stake and David being skewered in the head/eye. I have to give special mention to the early pages of Sam working in the comic book store. On the walls, you can spot actual comic books from the 80’s including John Byrne Superman and John Ostrander Suicide Squad issues.

This was a really good book. I’m glad I decided to read it. Sure, I had some issues with it but overall it was fun and I got invested into most of the characters. This book is so good it has me eagerly looking forward to watching a Joel Schumacher film. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the highest amount of praise I could give to a comic book.

Goon Review: Vamp (1986)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, my wickedly awesome ho-rror ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

Can we agree that vampires are horribly misrepresented nowadays? I could count how many decent vampire movies that came out since 2000 on one hand, even if I were missing a few fingers. After the ‘80s, vampires didn’t seem to work too well. During that decade, we saw too much of the fashion and pop culture making their way into these films, like the filmmakers wanted to “modernize” vampires. They also had this unnecessary trend of having one of the characters reiterate all of the vampire rules just incase you have comatosed since the beginning of vampire films and didn’t know what kind of creatures there were. In all seriousness, a lot of vampire movies I like come from the ‘80s, including Fright Night and Near Dark (which in my opinion is the best vampire movie). I didn’t include The Lost Boys, because personally I don’t like it and I know it has a huge following, but it just doesn’t do anything for me.

Somewhere in the middle of all those movies lies Vamp from 1986, a movie that was advertised to be much darker than it actually is. The first time I ever saw this movie, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get the movie that was sold to me and it was jarring to watch this sophomoric comedy that happened to have vampires and an albino gang. I didn’t know what the hell was going on, but slowly it began to grow on me somewhat. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not the greatest. It’s about as middle of the road as you can get. The humor doesn’t always work, it doesn’t offer anything to frighten you, it’s quite predictable, but visually it’s super stylish. There’s mood and atmosphere to accompany the style Vamp undeniably has. It’s be can cool, it’s a little sexy and it’s very much a product of the ‘80s vampire era.

Chris Makepeace and Robert Rusler play Keith and AJ (I’ll let you guess which one of the two plays the loveable asshole), two young college studs that are trying to find just the right fraternity to join and not just any old fraternity will do. They are looking to rub elbows with the rich and spoiled, so ya know, less college work for them. Offering to provide the frat with any service, and they do mean anything, the frat tasks them with getting a stripper for their party. Sounds like no problem for two resourceful, handsome gents… except between them, so after enlisting the help of rich kid Duncan, they head off to the dirtiest part of town. Duncan serves almost no purpose for the film other than to later try and the wool over your eyes, but it doesn’t work. He pretty much just drinks and regurgitates bad jokes, but hey, this Meatballs inspired vampire flick needs a cliched Asian character. Speaking of Meatballs, Chris Makepeace was also in that movie. Well, let’s move on.

The trio runs into an albino gang at a pitstop for some coffee and now I realized I wrote the words “albino gang.” The leader, who kinda looks like a Pablo Honey era Thom Yorke pulls a switchblade on them, but AJ’s also kind of a badass and turns the tables. The scene ends and the film carries on and as it progresses, it will be in the back of your mind and you won’t be able to help yourself and wonder, “what the hell did that have to do with anything?” The short answer is nothing. Not a goddamn thing other than to add an action scene later that could honestly be cut from the film and it would have no effect on the overall feature or maybe it was to pad out the run time. When it comes to things like this in films like this, neither answer would surprise me.

Somewhere in between classy and sleazy is the nightclub, ran by a slender man in a pink suit named Vic and his brute of an enforcer, Vlad, where they decide to find their stripper and the patrons and workers are also somewhere in between classy and sleazy. Actually, it’s very fitting with how I first described this movie. It’s like it wants to take inspiration from others, but never finds an identity of its own. An old acquaintance of Keith’s, a very cute and new wave looking girl named Allison played by Dedee Pfeiffer, recognizes him, but he can’t seem to recognize her. Honestly, how could you forget such a cute face like that? This is Dedee Pfeiffer at her cutest. She would go on to do a lot of TV show appearances, like Supernatural, but her real big credit would go to starring alongside the 2000 action flick, Billy Ray Cyrus starring vehicle, Radical Jack. It’s worth it to see Billy Ray Cyrus try and play an action star.

Now for the main event. A mysterious woman named Katrina (Grace Jones) takes the stage and performs a very ritualistic style dance that commands attention, although I’d have to say it’s the fell-asleep-with-product-in-my-hair hairstyle I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Being thoroughly impressed, AJ, unbeknownst to Keith, goes backstage to hire Katrina, but never comes back. Keith now starts to realize that there is some really weird stuff going on, like Vic snacking on crickets and everybody seems to be telling him that AJ ditched him. Something isn’t right here and as Keith keeps meddling, his questions are making him a target and soon he’s confronted by AJ who is telling him to relax and then reveals himself to be a vampire! But, ya know, not before going down the list of rules that makes you a vampire. As I said, a lot of vampire movies at this time had a character exposition dump all the vampire rules, because the filmmakers and studios thought we were idiots and had never seen or heard of vampires before. No matter what film it’s in, these scenes bring the movie to a screeching halt for me and it never fits in. Well, it only lasts several minutes before the two are forced to fight and Keith escapes to learn that the whole nightclub and most of the town are bloodsuckers!

At this point, it’s relatively paint by numbers without any surprises, although the film will still try to make you believe there may be. Keith tries to survive the night along with his new galpal Allison, but escaping seems much harder than it should be and the film does a great job at this point of making an open city feel closed off and isolated. Keith is even driven into the sewers for hiding after being confronted by the albino gang once again, which at this point feels like filler. They needed something to stretch out the run time, so they added a subplot with a bunch of violent, punk rock albinos. Come to think of it, albinos are fairly rare, so the fact that they all found each other and formed a gang is commendable.

I have to wonder if From Dusk Til Dawn would later take the idea of a strip club full of vampires. Just a thought that’s totally irrelevant. So anyway, Arrow Video presents Vamp in a brand new high definition digital transfer that looks quite remarkable. The film itself is lit with a lot of magentas and greens, almost like it’s a comic book and this new transfer helps those colors really pop out and it looks really beautiful. There are some other features included, like a brand new documentary called One of Those Nights that interviews the cast and crew as they recall making the film. There are some funny stories involved, so it’s absolutely worth a watch. Retro viewers might get a kick out the rehearsals video and blooper reel or even director Richard Wenk’s short film Dracula Bites the Big Apple.

Vamp may not be the best vampire movie or even the best college buddy comedy, but it’s not horrible in any way. It unfortunately misses the mark at mixing both genres and has noticeable filler, but thanks to great performances, special effects and likeable characters, it will be one of the better “teen vampire” movies to me.

Blacula (1972)

(Submitted with all the love by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thank you, my fang-tastic friend. 🙂 xoxo)

“You shall pay, black prince. I shall place a curse of suffering on you that will doom you to a living hell. I curse you with my name. You shall be… Blacula!”

-Dracula

The Vampire is a rather pitiful figure. Unable to die a nature death, the vampire stalks the earth for sustenance out of a primitive need to survive.  If it feeds, it is considered a monster. If it resists the urge, it ceases to be. Along with a taste for blood, it carries with it many lifetimes of regret and sorrow, constantly tormented by the cruelty of Memory. The creature can never again walk on a warm summer’s day or experience warmth of any kind, save for the searing touch of a crucifix. Life(?) isn’t all romance and sparkles for the Vampire.

Traditionally, movie vampires are not particularly tragic. Cinema tends to focus on the monstrous side of vampires, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I usually prefer bloodsuckers who have a little bite to them. Save for one quick line about how  “glorious” it would be to be truly dead, Lugosi’s Dracula was primarily a ghoul, while Christopher Lee’s Count said very little and drank blood very often. One of the earliest depictions of a vampire as a tragic figure was 1935’s Dracula’s Daughter, the direct sequel to Universal’s Dracula. Other than that, there was Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows, but these two examples represent a minority of the subgenre. Considering this, it was rather bold for a film like Blacula to go in this direction.

Conceived as an attempt to capitalize on the enormous success of the growing “Blaxploitation” craze, American International Pictures saw a chance to cash in by producing a contemporary gothic horror picture with a primarily black cast. The result was Blacula. The film was intended to be more of a blatant cash-in, but star William Marshall wanted to give the film the dignity he felt it deserved. With Marshall’s influence, Blacula’s name changed from “Andrew Brown” to “Mamuwalde,” became an African prince, and was injected with pathos. His Mamuwalde is a man condemned to vampirism by an incredibly racist Dracula after the Count refused to help Mamuwalde suppress the slave trade. Mamuwade and his wife Luva are imprisoned, leaving Luva to die and Mamuwalde to suffer in isolation.

Nearly two centuries later, Mamuwade’s coffin is rediscovered in Transylvania by two flamboyantly gay antique dealers (there is a total lack of political correctness here that may be unpleasant for modern viewers, but please bear with the movie.) who transport the casket to California, inadvertently resurrecting the vampire in the process. Once revived, the vampiric prince stalks the night and begins to turn others into Creatures of the Night, like any respectable vampire is likely to do.  Mamuwalde soon discovers Tina, a woman he believes to be the reincarnation of his beloved Luva and attempts to reunite with his lost love. With his beloved wife found, Mamuwalde plans to  be with her forever… even if that means turning her into one of the undead.

William Marshall completely and utterly dominates this picture. While most of the other actors are quite good in their respective parts, it’s the Shakespearian Marshall who makes this film an eternal classic. Marshall’s Mamuwalde is an honorable man damned to the existence of a demon. All he really wants to do is reconnect with his humanity and the woman he loves. Mamuwalde doesn’t enjoy being a monster, but it’s his cross to bear… and it burns him as much as an actual cross would.  Marshall’s eloquence and regal bearing allow him to endear himself to us as a gentleman besmirched by fate… and terrify us an uncontrollable beast with an insatiable appetite for blood. As far as I’m concerned, William Marshall’s Mamuwalde is one of the most excellent vampires to ever haunt the screen.

With the exception of a few jokes, Blacula tells its story in a commendably straight fashion. Before Hammer gave it go Dracula A.D. 1972, Blacula combined traditional gothic frights with a contemporary vibe that manages to do justice to both the old and the new. The film also features some of the most memorable vampire minions in fright film history. Painted in ghastly white, the ghouls here are given an appearance that feels effectively ghost-like. With their fangs bared and their eerie stares, these ghouls are truly frights to behold.

 Blacula ends on a rather tragic  note. There is no triumphant stake through the heart and the young human lovers do not embrace at the end. Instead of the customary “Good Triumphs Over Evil” ending, the heroine loses her life and the monster is denied the love he fought so hard for. With no reason to keep existing, Mamuwalde solemnly tells his attackers to stand down and simply walks out into the sun. For a film intended to be a silly cash-in, that a pretty haunting ending. Like with so many great movie monsters before and since him, Mamuwalde’s passing is a dagger through the heart. For all his sins, he was primarily an ill-fated man damned into evil by forces beyond his control.

William Marshall went on to went on to portray the character again in Scream Blacula, Scream with the same grace he brought to the first.  In later years, Marshall played the “King of Cartoons” on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, earning a new generation of fans. While I adore him on that show, it’s his portrayal of Blacula that has made him a legend. Mr. Marshall brought nobility to a part that easily could have been phoned in and made us feel sympathy for a real monster. For that reason, he will always be my favorite pain in the neck. Blacula shall never die!

Goon Review: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest Soundtrack

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, ya big Goon! 😉 xoxo)

Castlevania without a doubt holds a place in video game history. It had some solid gameplay, cool tunes and it was creepy, plus what kid didn’t want to fight monsters, like Dracula? It help shape the side scrolling platformer and many would come to imitate it. Castlevania’s sequel, Simon’s Quest, however, is a totally different story. Although it was still the same side scrolling platforming style as the original, it tried to add some RPG elements to the game that didn’t mesh well and players were forced to wander back and forth between towns, farming for hearts. This was to pad out the length of the game and boy, did it feel like it. The game also confused gamers by adding cryptic text from villagers that were supposed to be hints at what to do next, except they made no sense and gamers were lost. Remember having to equip the red crystal and kneeling next to a wall for five seconds to make a tornado appear and then you could continue the game? Of course you do now, but the game never told you that!

Okay, so it wasn’t the best game. Or very well liked by fans. Or very well liked by critics for that matter either. But if there is one thing everyone universally agrees on, it’s that the soundtrack was – and still is – amazing. Arguably, it’s still one of the best out there and has some of the most iconic and memorable tracks by Konami Kukeiha Club. Having ventured from horror and sci-fi soundtracks over to video games, Mondo has “whipped” up a stellar release of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest on vinyl that’s worthy of any vampire slayer.

Being a company that loves and respects art, Mondo never skips on the presentation. First impressions and all, you know. Eric Powell’s artwork is an astonishing way to catch someone’s attention with Simon fighting a legion of skeletons. Kinda reminds me a Ray Harryhausen film. Behind him is a twisted path that leads up to Castlevania with skelefied version of Dracula over a full moon. Gotta hand it to Eric Powell there for capturing how Dracula looks in the game, since some people forget that he kinda looks like Death himself. Overall, it’s a perfect image that captures the good aspects of the game in one look. The backside is a werewolf beginning to reach out for you and I have to admit that it reminds me of old Nintendo Power Magazine images, which makes this packaging feel totally nostalgic. Once you open it, you’ll find the map of the whole world from Simon’s Quest with nothing labeled, like it’s something hand drawn… which it is, so this makes total sense. The vinyl itself is pressed on blue vinyl with green splatter, giving it a groovy effect.

Rather than split up the tracks on both sides, Mondo has done something unique that I am sure collectors and fans alike appreciate; Side A of the record presents the NES version of the soundtrack and Side B is the Famicom version of the soundtrack. For those of you who don’t know, the Famicom is the Japanese version of the NES and although both sides have the same nine tracks in the same order, the sound of them is different. The NES version sounds more rock/poppy (as much as 8-bit can) whereas the Famicom version sounds more rustic, like something you would expect an old vampire film to have. The Famicom version certainly fits the mood more and can create a haunting atmosphere (which I do love), I often prefer the NES version. Maybe it’s because that’s what I grew up with or certain tracks like the popular Bloody Tears sounds fantastic when it’s got more kick and gets you all energetic.

Listening to the whole album is like a quick walk through the game itself without all the backtracking and farming and it actually made me remember the parts of the game that I actually liked. It even made me feel that sensation of accomplishment when you finally figured out what to do next and continued further. I even found myself bobbing my head and tapping my foot to the tracks as it progressed and I continuously flipped the record over and over and replaying it for long periods of a time, because the soundtrack is that good and everlasting. Kinda like Dracula himself. It’s kind of a short experience, but video game music wasn’t that long to begin with. It was usually a short amount of music looped, but when it’s this good, you really don’t mind going back and playing it again. You can purchase the soundtrack at the Mondo site for only 20 hearts… I mean, dollars.