Posts Tagged ‘vampire’

Peculiar Blood

Posted: September 5, 2018 in -, Joe Giambrone
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I’m serious about producing a vampire film. Here’s how it opens…

 

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Despised by critics, Anne Rice’s tale of vampire mainstreaming has its flaws.  It also works significantly better than its first installment, Interview With the Vampire, where Brad Pitt was horribly miscast.  Even Tom Cruise felt wrong at a gut level, although both of them can act.  It just wasn’t going to work from inception.  The best part of the Interview film was the amazing Kirsten Dunst, who stole the show at 12 years old.

The Rice universe is so un-Hollywood.  It doesn’t jibe with red carpets and hype.  There’s a subtlety and complexity that is on the page, and perhaps film isn’t the right place to try and recreate it.  The two mediums are just so different, and the characters can seem a bit of a letdown when cast with actors.  Much of the magic doesn’t translate at all.  At least in Queen everyone involved looked dead on appropriate.

Queen of the Damned is more of a filmable story than some of her other books.  Tension ramps up toward the end, but there was a cold distancing from the characters that plagued the movie.  Empathy for the characters was in short supply.  None are particularly likable, although Akasha, the Egyptian Queen, is stunning to look at and brought a powerful presence that was unexpected.  She gives the film hope, once awakened, which is actually rather ironic.

I don’t think I’m totally off base seeing Lestat as a harbinger of a new age of nihilism.  Lestat is a product of the imperial age, while Akasha is the ancient absolutist.  But Lestat bridges the ages, uniquely touching the ancient lust for ultimate power, and yet he has adapted to modern mass market consumerism and our sense of individualism.

With society lost in this age of confusion, the death of the old way and struggling to forge a new response to global awareness and raw, arbitrary exercise of power, Lestat becomes a symbol for our time.  He’s a rock star, mass murderer, rabid individualist who would give the finger to the entire vampire race.  He doesn’t care about the consequences.  Suicidal?  Or inspired to progress?  The same questions can be asked of our society.  We’d give the finger to future generations and to the ecosystems of the earth for the glory of our own whimsical chaos.

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The big question in vampire tales is always how they relate to the still living, seeing them as worthless food or retaining human compassion.  Here Lestat is a bit muddled, wishy-washy over the course of the story.  Lestat is disillusioned with vampirism, the old ways, and yet flirts with Godlike power as he has throughout the books.  Here, the point is not so clear, and the story’s ending seems truncated and perhaps a bit unsatisfying.

The critics had a shit tossing fest at the film, but what are the alternatives?  It’s damned hard to make a vampire film that works on every level, which does something new and yet doesn’t go off the rails.  Case in point, Twilight, an abysmal juvenile take on vampires, at least the first film.  I avoided the others.  Even Coppola royally fucked up the granddaddy of them all – Dracula: terrible casting, terrible creative license with the source material, one of the biggest mistakes in all of recorded vampire history.

What Queen of the Damned did was stick to the spirit of the original, the coldness, the animalism, the nihilistic desperation of it all.  This was quite a bit closer to Rice than Interview.  Not a great movie, but definitely better than most vampire films.

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I hadn’t bothered with this film due to some reviews going around, which seem a bit petty now.  This is actually a decent sci-fi vampire story.  The look of it is noir futuristic, like Gattaca and Brazil, even a touch of Ultraviolet, not to suggest anyone should bother watching Ultraviolet.  But it is stylish, and they squeezed a lot out of an indie production.

The ideas resonate, even if we have seen most of them before.  In Daybreakers nearly everyone is a vampire, well anyone who is someone. The humans are mostly in the factory farms of blood. The big problem is that the humans are nearly gone for good, and there’s just no substitute for the real thing yet.  Societal collapse is imminent, that’s vampire society collapse.

Ethan Hawke is a scientist/vampire working on creating an artificial blood, but tests are unsuccessful.  Worse, those who can’t get blood devolve into feral monsters, sprouting wings and gruesome deformities.  These subterranean bat like creatures infest the sewers.  Things are not well in Wellville.

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And so I’ve told you enough.  When I noticed Willem Dafoe was involved that was enough for me.

Like more modern vampire stories there are subtleties and conflicts that aren’t strictly humans against vampires.  Lines are blurred, reminiscent of Blade, Underworld and other bloodsucker dramas.  The treatment is half science fiction and half horror.

 

 

 

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The vampocalypse hits redneck America. Savage, though pretty dumb, the vampires are hunted down by a man with no name. At the opening, a teenage boy is recruited by the hunter, when this boy’s parents are chomped by a particularly aggressive vampire.

The boy comes of age in an environment of vigilante justice, desperation and the breakdown of society. The hunter has his own code, which he tries to impart to the boy. The complication is a huge cult, the Brotherhood, which runs large parts of the landscape. These religious nuts are potentially worse than the vampires.

This film has a definite right leaning, libertarian bias. The landscapes are devastated, abandoned, and Washington is to blame. The people are left to survive by themselves, which they do in an old west styled, circle the wagons mentality. The rugged individual is all that’s left, and any organization seems doomed to fail, a victim of herd mentality and crazy ideas or rose-colored idealism. It’s a depressing tale, but not a bad vampire flik. It has its own cult following around it, and that’s how I heard about it.

Most survival tales skew right with guns and self-reliance elevated to mythic proportions. This is true of zombie films and most horror genre pieces. See if you can read more into Stake Land than meets the eye.