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)
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.
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.
Remaking old horror films that don't need to be remade + gratuitous nudity even for this genre + bimbos with the worst boob jobs ever + fake tanned, boob-jobbed, 2 dimensional douchebag characters + idiotic dialogue = SUCK.
Epic fucking FAIL.
This film now holds the title of worst line ever – "You have great nipple placement." I'm guessing that is supposed to be funny. Hint: it's just stupid.
Grade: D-, credit for nice set styling, the only redeeming value to this travesty on celluloid.
Long before Sam Raimi became a huge box office success with "Spiderman," he endeared himself to horror fans everywhere with the cult classic "Evil Dead" series. Even as someone who tends to frown on schlockey "humorous" horror, I have to give props to Raimi for these low budget, indie classics.
Which is why it's so painful to criticize "Drag Me to Hell."
Okay, it's horror. You are going to present us with concepts out of the ordinary and ask us to suspend our disbelief. I'll go along with you on that. But what I really hate, even when dealing with films about supernatural forces, is when characters act… out of character. In other words, I'll go along with you on goat-like demons trying to steal souls, but when your characters act in ways that make no sense to me and defy logic, you've lost me.
First, when our "heroine," Christine (Alison Lohman) takes, shall we say, her first attempt at resolving the issue of shaking the goat demon off her back, I just wasn't buying it. Maybe I'm just soft about kitties, but no…no way would she try that without so much as an afterthought, even with the clunky "foreshadowing" of the psychic saying "you'd be surprised at what people will do." Well, yeah, but that was WAY too surprising to the point of being unbelievable.
Then after she tries attempt number two, and fails, suddenly she learns of the simplest, most direct way to rid herself of her curse. Which, by the way, was going through my head all the damn time. Duh. Now after the butchered first attempt, pun intended, I'm supposed to believe Christine suddenly has some moral dilemma about an indirect way to resolve the problem where she doesn't have to see the results or do the deed herself? In fact, I am so annoyed at her for attempt number 1 and this idiotic lack of sensibility, I'm ready to see her lose the battle. Like…NOW. Drag this stupid bitch to hell, already.
As far as the "twist" ending, am I the only one who saw that coming a mile away? I mean, please.
I'll follow you on all kinds of strange monsters and myths, but you better make your characters act consistently and logically for their personalities. And really, when trying to foreshadow future events or set up a twist ending, subtlety please. I know subtlety is a lot to ask from the man who brought us "Evil Dead," but Bruce Campbell was way more believable than this twit. And FAR more likable.
The Damned have gone through many phases in their disorderly
career. They started out as one of the first British punk bands, along with the
Sex Pistols, The Clash, Generation X and countless others. The Damned would (unlike
the Clash) take a decidedly non-righteous, fiercely undisciplined rock and roll
attitude toward their craft. The original lineup featured Rat Scabies literally
setting things on fire in the background, Captain Sensible and Brian James
flailing about and screaming in the audience’s face while flanking either side
of the stage and Dave Vanian stalking the front while howling and crooning in inimitable
But by the time “Phantasmagoria” hit
the shelves, those days were long behind them. The lineup had been shaken up
about a half dozen times, Captain and Brian James had both left the band to
pursue other interests and the band’s sound had matured to an almost
unrecognizable degree. Gone were the speed-punk thrashers, replaced with
brooding Goth ballads and poppy sing-along choruses. The wild, off-the-hinge
punk years seemed long behind and only the experimental aspect remained from
the music of the band’s early years. Looking back over the band’s musical
output, one could see a clear progression into the late 80’s MCA era sound that
dominated the album. From the early, unpolished Garage Punk of “Damned Damned Damned” and “Music For Pleasure” into the slightly
more refined work on “Machine Gun
Etiquette” and straight into the Psychedelic buzz of “Strawberries” and “The Black
Album” which carried only a hint of the original punk sound. The natural
evolution of the band clearly pointed to the gloomy Goth pop on “Phantasmagoria” and it’s follow up album
As horrible as it may sound to some of you, the
metamorphosis from a straight forward punk rock band to a poppy British Goth
band allowed The Damned to create some of their most staggering music. This
entire album is like the soundtrack to a dream. Not a pleasant, fluffy love
dream either… “Phantasmagoria” sounds
like a surreal, feverish nightmare. Like some sort of drug-induced
hallucination on a hot summer night.
The album opens on “Street
of Dreams” with a questionable solo saxophone… like something out of a black
and white film noir, but suddenly the song explodes into a crashing B-minor
chord with heavy Goth organs and a rumbling bass line. You immediately know you
are listening to The Damned when Dave Vanian’s voice descends into the mix… “If you can’t sleep tonight, and if a fever
grips you tight, there’s a place we must explore – Open wide the door”. The
song continues with haunting sing-along choruses and does not relent until
fading into the next track – “The Shadow
of Love”. Track two starts with a low growl from some sort of unholy beast
and a simple, but effective guitar riff by Roman Jugg (who is tragically
underrated as a guitarist in my opinion). Scabies picks up the swing-shuffle
beat shortly thereafter and the bass trots along while Dave croons one of the
best vocal tracks of his recorded career.
The third track, “There’ll
Come a Day” begins in a similar, glorious fashion focusing on Roman’s
effortless guitar work and Dave’s melodious vocals, but with added fragments of
harpsichord piano in the background to add to the surreal overtone. The next
track “Grimly Fiendish” is a strange
bit of psych-out weirdo pop that only a band like The Damned could create. The
bizarre, child-like choruses of “Bad lad, bad boy” sound like something off an
elementary school playground.
Tracks seven and eight are both airy pop songs, “Edward the Bear” featuring Roman Jugg on
vocals while “The Eighth Day” returns
the microphone to Master Vanian. The next track “Trojans” is a boring instrumental track, and the only track on the
album that I almost always skip, which brings the vinyl version of “Phantasmagoria” to an unexciting close.
But I have both the vinyl version and the CD version, so I am treated to two bonus
remixes – “Grimly Fiendish” and “Shadow of Love”. The remix of “Grimly” differs only slightly from the
original adding a few extra choruses and breakdowns and a sample of a cash
register slamming closed at the end of the track (I’m almost sure the cash
register sample was an intended joke by the band. They had to know that
die-hard fans would still pick up the remixed version of the song, even though
it was essentially the same track, which equals more money for them, with only
minimal effort necessary). And finally the best track on the entire album – The
“Ten Inches of Hell” version of “Shadow of Love”. This time, Scabies does
not fuck around with the drums. He hits them hard and solid as soon as the
track begins. Once the beat is laid down, a heavy synth rhythm track is thrown
in with the country swing bassline and the heavily echoed vocals. The track
extends to over five minutes with added refrains, choruses and a guitar solo or
two. The album comes to a suitably spooky close with the sound of a desperate,
panting female and a werewolf howl.
has been out of print in the US for over ten years, but I’ve recently spotted
brand-new reissues of this album in record stores. I advise you all to track
one of the little bastards down and add it to your record collection. It’s
completely fucking essential.
Street of Dreams
Shadow of Love
There’ll Come a Day
Fiendish [The Bad Trip Mix] (CD only)
The Shadow Of Love [10 Inches Of Hell
Mix] (CD only)
Sisters of Mercy – Floodland The Cure – Disintegration