Up the Bloody Creek

What is scarier than a blood-drinking mad man tapping into ancient occult practices for super villain powers that include being able to raise the dead? Why, a NAZI blood-drinking mad man tapping into ancient occult practices for super villain powers that include being able to raise the dead, of course.

I was perusing various horror films last night and ran across this one. It had some good reviews and quite an impressive pedigree with Joel Schumaker at the helm, of “The Lost Boys” and “Falling Down” fame. (Of course, he also directed “Batman and Robin,” but I daresay he probably wants to forget that as much as we do. ) Even with an established director like Schumacher, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, hardcore (and hard-to-please) horror fanatic I am.

The film stars Dominic Purcell (Prison Break) and Henry Cavill (The Tudors) as brothers on a mission of revenge who become trapped in a harrowing occult experiment dating back to the Third Reich. The film starts in 1936, where the Wollner family, who lives in rural Town Creek (the original title of the movie,) are contacted by the Third Reich to host a visiting scholar, Professor Richard Wirth. In need of money, they accept. Wirth’s grand occult project seals the Wollners off from the rest of the world and makes them players in a horrifying game of survival. After 71 years, in 2007, Evan Marshall’s life has stalled after his older brother Victor’s disappearance from a camping trip near Town Creek, and he can’t seem to pick himself and move on with life. But then Victor returns one night, very much alive and having escaped his captors, Evan asks no questions – at his brother’s request, he loads their rifles, packs up their boat and follows him back to Town Creek.

The whole not-telling-his-brother-wassup thing was stretching my believability, but hey, you throw in a scary bad guy, loads of cool creepy atmosphere, and I’ll let you stretch my suspension of disbelief a little. I’ll work with you.

Now, I tend to get wrapped up in personal and business things to the point I sometimes miss pertinent movies, music and pop culture phenomena, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess I’m not the only one who overlooked this film when it was released. Which is especially surprising with a heavy-hitter director like Schumacher, and a high profile tv actor like Purcell. And given the recent success of “Inglorious Bastards” for Michael Fassbender, who plays one bad Nazi devil here.

A little research into this matter yielded the answer to this mystery — for reasons unknown, Lionsgate gave the film almost no hype and a very limited release, much like they did for “The Midnight Meat Train.” Now, this is supposed to be a movie review, but I’m going to digress here into a bit of a rant.

What the hell is going through your heads over there at Lionsgate?

It’s particularly disappointing that Lionsgate seems to be burying some very dark, disturbing, and GOOD films, exiling them to limited release in only a handful of theaters, and some of them second run discount theaters at that. I cannot understand what is happening here. I can’t understand burying what could have been a nice money maker for them. That Lionsgate opening logo has become almost synonymous with horror in my mind these days, but could it be that Lionsgate is trying to distance themselves form the genre? Could they be making a play for “respectability” with the recent critical successes of “serious” films like “Precious” and “Brothers?”

To be blunt, someone has their head up their ass over there. Because Blood Creek is a good, creepy movie. I saw some homage to “Hellraiser” in the styling of Wirth’s long black coat and sleek head, “Books of Blood” in the carvings in his flesh, and “Lord of Illusions” with the third eye like Nyx.


Do you suppose the Lionsgate guys have something against anything related to Clive Barker, one of the great horror geniuses of our time?

I don’t know, but I can tell you this. Make the effort to find and watch this movie. I did manage to find the trailer above for you to watch. I tried to find some nice photo stills for your visual pleasure, but they are pretty much non-existent.

Even on the Lionsgate website. I could run a studio better than this.

Grade: A- (Probably should be a B+ but sympathy for the shoddy studio treatment)

Google Deletes Music Blogs, Prompts a Twitter Upheaval

What’s sad is most of these blogs are not only claiming the music they posted was with permission, but this is cutting off many outlets for lesser known bands to be heard. They didn’t even give these bloggers the chance to show they used tracks with permission.

If you are an independent band, like independent bands, or just want the option of finding new music through PERMITTED posts and downloads, make some noise…

Google Deletes Music Blogs, Prompts a Twitter Upheaval

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Oh my Goth

Being a child of the eighties, it’s no easy task for any “goth” band to catch my attention. They forever suffer from a comparison to Siouxsie, or Bauhaus, or the Sisters of Mercy, but every now and then, one catches my ear.

Right out of the gate, Dommin opened their current cd, Love is Gone, with the anthemic “My Heart, Your Hands” and made me take notice. I must confess to being a bit surprised, as I’m particularly cynical about anything labeled goth in this age of emo lameness and idiotic teen vampire flicks, to the point where I’ve pretty much written off anything new in the genre altogether. But this band… this band bears some watching.

I don’t pretend they are blazing new ground here or setting the world on fire — just yet — but this is a solid debut on Roadrunner Records. What most impressed me was the variety of music on this album. At times, the songs are rather mellow, even a bit sparse during the verses. Then at other times, more pop and, well, dare-I-say-it, bordering on perky, on tracks like “Tonight.” Although the majority bear the typical sad edge common to the genre, it is not wallowing in its misery, but almost hopeful, even on songs of loss like “Closure.”

I’m walking away from the things that drained my soul
From the things that took control
From the love that left me cold

Now I don’t hold any hate
And I don’t regret my mistakes
I’m learning to grow from the things that hurt me so…

Sometimes it works, and in a few, not so much, but I always respect a band that is trying to stretch their boundaries and not just take the easy formulaic approach. I was not particularly moved by the second track, “New,” but keep going to check out the aforementioned “Tonight,” to the wonderful “Love is Gone,” which screamed “Twilight Soundtrack” to the point I actually checked to see if they were on it.

Clearly, “My Heart, Your Hands” and “Love is Gone” are Hits with a capital “H.” They could have churned out an album full of songs all like this — and probably had a huge commercial hit — but they chose a more rugged path.

There are more gems here. Or diamonds in the rough, at the very least. Slap some silly lyrics on it, and the wonderfully quirky “Dark Holiday” could be a Voltaire tune. There’s also the melancholy pop beat of “Honestly,” the rock out track “One Feeling” which borders on gothic, fist-pumping hair metal (and I mean that in a good way,) the grand anthem “I Still Lost,” and the hauntingly beautiful album closer, “Remember,” which showcases frontman Kristofer Dommin’s vocal range from soft to soaring.

This is not so much a cd for swirling around the dance floor of some industrial club, but more for sipping absinthe by candlelight. Rather than the bleak hopelessness of industrial goth, it’s a throwback to a more romantic, classic gothic sensibility.

They’re still in their infancy, but Dommin shows promise — they’re a refreshing bit of Bram Stoker in a Stephanie Meyer world.

Putting a little bite into noir

Oh, I used to love vampires, back in the days of Christopher Lee, and have watched them done… and re-done… and re-done again over the years — each incarnation increasingly whiny, emo… and pathetically annoying. It’s been sliding downhill since the angsty Lestat and Louis, to the current…well, I shall not even utter the dreaded “T word.”  But it’s pretty much remained a variation of the same old thing, vampire meets girl (or boy in Anne Rice’s case,) vampire falls for girl, girl almost falls for vampire but is saved from turning at the last minute or turned back by some miracle. Vampire possibly or possibly not killed, depending on if the studio wants a sequel. I would have sworn no one could find a new twist.

I was wrong.

In “Daybreakers” the credits open with a desolate, apocalyptic cityscape, setting an all too familiar mood we’ve seen many times. But then the shades come up as the sun falls, and the city starts swingin’…this is a world where vamps rule the roost, and damn, they got style, baby, if in a rather cold, neo-noir kind of way. I was expecting “Blade,” but this is far more “Bladerunner,” right down to their glinty eyes.

Right away I knew this was going to be eye candy, but would it have substance, even with a heavy hitter like Willem Dafoe? And despite Ethan Hawke, who I have never been particularly moved by?

Hawke plays Edward Dalton, a somewhat angsty vampire (sigh) who also happens to be a hematologist shackled with the enormous responsibility of finding a blood substitute to save both vampires and humans alike. And, oh yeah…they need that by, like, next week. ‘Cause otherwise, if they drain the last of the human blood supply, not only do humans go extinct, but vampires get to mutate into some decidedly un-stylish, batshit crazy creatures that scare even the vamps. And with good reason.

Of course, Edward is sensitive and sympathizes with humans, and is a vampire vegetarian — he doesn’t do human blood, dammit! But then, being a vampire is a bit of a touchy subject with him, as he was turned against his will by his brother Frankie (Michael Dorman), a (little too) gung-ho soldier in the vampire military, who now specializes in hunting humans. There’s some dynamic tension for you.

After Edward gets tangled up and sympathetic with a group of humans, you get the usual romantic sideline, but unlike other vampire films, instead of him turning her, she is intent on helping him turn…back to human form. And finding a cure for the vampire plague.

What does make this film different from most vampire movies is not only the noirish styling, but that someone finally explored on film the idea of vampires in crisis at the risk of running out of human blood. It is still a somewhat romanticized version of vampires, at least the non-mutated ones, but with a bit more of an edge than their frou-frou Victorian counterparts. And those nauseating emo teens falling in love. So maybe part of the reason I liked the movie is because I have to admit I set the bar pretty low for expectations as soon as you say the “V word.”

As expected, Willem Dafoe is a bit of a scene stealer, as a former vampire with a redneck drawl and a love of vintage hotrods. His name is Lionel, but you can call him Elvis…that sort of says it all, don’t you think? And Hawke is okay, which sounds like a slight, but my neutrality toward him is a step in the right direction. His performance isn’t Oscar material, but I didn’t particularly dislike it either, save the odd moments here and there.

“Daybreakers” is certainly one of the most stylish vamp flicks to roll around in a while, with a little dark humor, and a fresh twist in the usual vampire flick plotlines. I’m not sure of it’s longterm place in the grand scheme of the genre, but maybe it will usher in a new neo-noir vampire trend. That would surely make the whole genre visually exciting again, and hopefully teen-free.

Let’s just hope if there’s a “Daybreakers 2” it doesn’t star Robert Pattinson.

Grade: B