Showing posts with label dracula. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dracula. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2017

Powers of Darkness and the Dracula Myth

I do not consider myself a Dracula scholar. I have a number of rare Dracula related texts, read many more and pretty much seen every movie or stage play featuring the eponymous vampire count. My last (as in last ever) acting performance was as, appropriately enough, Dr. Seward in the Hamilton Deane play.  I try to reread the book every three or fours years or so.
I also once had a great conversation with a former Black Panther turned Educational reformist oh how horror in general, and Dracula in particular, was great insight on what people's fears are at the time.  We discussed how things he was doing and feeling as a young revolutionary in the 60s was being written about in the fiction of the time.  Great stuff.  Wish I had taken better notes.

So is it safe to say I am a fan who knows what scholarship is out there and I have read some of it.

So imagine my joy when I discover that there was/is another translation of Dracula out there.  One that was created nearly around the same time as the original, but with enough distance to be something new and old at the same time.

Over at Literary Hub they discussed the Icelandic translation of Dracula known as Makt Myrkranna, or the Powers of Darkness.

The book originally includes a forward by Bram Stoker, but it takes a number of interesting turns from Stoker's text.  The author, Valdimar Ásmundsson, includes mentions of the Ripper muders and a tantalizing preface that eludes that all the events in this book are true.
To the best of my belief, there is no doubt whatsoever that the events related here really took place, however unbelievable and incomprehensible they may appear in light of common experience.

[. . .]

I emphasize again that the mysterious tragedy described here is completely true as far as the events as such are concerned, although in certain points, of course, I have reached a different conclusion than the people involved. But the events as such are irrefutable, and so many people are aware of them that they will not be denied.
This is a long-held conceit in many post-Stoker works on Dracula.  We can't say it started here, it started with Stoker's novel itself, but there is something very seductive about this.

Scholars have long been under the belief that the Ásmundsson translation was merely a translation and an abridgment of Stoker's novel.  

Hans de Roos, the author of both the LitHub article and new re-translation, gives us some interesting insights to this lost translation, which ends up being more than expected.  There are the expected name changes; Johnathon is now Thomas, Mina is Wilma and Lucy is Lucia, but there is more to it that just that.

Mina/Wilma now accompanies Harker to Transylvania. Renfield is gone. And Dracula himself plays a much larger role.  That is one of the biggest things people who have not read Dracula don't know; how little Dracula is actually in the book.  It also seems that there are more sections that seem to be drawn from Stoker's own notes and incomplete manuscripts.  

Flipping through this book that is at the same time familiar and new*.
*Side Note:  I call situations like this a "Modula 2" moment. Back in college, I was a pretty proficient Pascal programmer. I later picked up other languages like C, C++ and Modula 2.  Modula 2 is so like and yet unlike Pascal it is like learning the same thing over again from an entirely new perspective.  If I ever mention Modula 2 here, this is what I mean. 

While I can't wait to jump feet first into this tale, it has gotten me more excited for my modern supernatural/supers game with Dracula as my big bad.

I am not anywhere close to getting this adventure together; either what the characters will do or what Dracula wants to do. I don't even have a system picked yet.

Maybe after this book, I'll have all that figured out.

Dracula-based Products I have Reviewed in the Past

And some I need to review

Friday, December 9, 2016

Green Ronin Holiday Sale on DC Adventures

Spend any time here and you will know that I am a HUGE DC Comics fan.  Yeah like many others in the 80s I read the X-Men and of course Spider-Man before that.  I know Marvel, but my love is DC.

So it is with some joy (and some anxiety) that I let you know about a huge sale Green Ronin is having on their DC Adventures RPG.  All four books are on sale for $5.00 each.  Not a bad deal really.  Scratch that, that's an excellent deal.

DC ADVENTURES Hero's Handbook
This is the core book and the only one needed to play the game.  It is based on Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition, which is also a fantastic game in it's own right.  The book is jam packed with great DC art.  All of the art and the write-ups are pre New 52 and pre Convergence.  But you know what, who cares!  This is DC which means Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Booster Gold! (ok so maybe Booster is not a reason to buy this...actually Booster is not in this book iirc).
You can plan in any DC world you like.  Hell you can (and should really) play in the future with Terry McGinnis as Batman. Mix in Oliver Queen from the Arrow TV show, Isis from the 70s "The Power of Isis" show and the Birds of Prey from their short lived TV show and do what you like.
All you need is a d20.  I personally like to use a clear green one since it looks like Kryptonite.

DC ADVENTURES Heroes & Villains, Vol. 1
DC ADVENTURES Heroes & Villains, Vol. 2
The A to Z guide of heroes, villians, organizations and even some places of the DC Universe.
Very nearly everyone is here in one form or another.

The "world book" or campaign guide for your games.  Great in that has some stats but it can't cover nearly 80 years worth of DC history, nor does it try.  It focuses on the then most current version of the DC Universe (Pre-New52 and just after the "Darkest Night" arc).
If you have read a DC comic then you know what you are in for. If you have only seen the Batman movies then you are in for a treat to a much larger and much more interesting world.

Not sure if this is the game for you?  Then try the DC ADVENTURES Quick Start PDF.

Now. I have heard a rumor that Green Ronin will be ending their DC license.  That is really too bad, but not unexpected.  Licenses cost money and the product doesn't always reach enough people to make it worth while.  I have (personal) experiences where a licensed product doesn't sell to the larger fan base of the license.  But no worries since I have my books and my PDFs.  The DC ADVENTURES game is also 100% compatible with (the same game as) Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition.  So as long as we have that then we can play all we like.
Maybe Freedom City can be part of YOUR DC Universe.

I have spent a lot of time with this game and plan to spend a lot more.
Here are some character write-ups I have done over the years.
I have two "DC Universe" games I want to try out sometime.  Both are mostly based on the current TV universe (aka the "Arrowverse").  One is the "The Incredibly Awesome (and Not At All Made-Up) Adventures of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle!"  the other takes place in that universe but is more a rif on the "I, Vampire" storyline of the New 52 comic era.  The "big bad" of this one is going to be Dracula, something I have always wanted to do.  I'll either use my version of Dracula (which I'll need to update to 3e) or the official M&M3 one, but upgraded.
I have always wanted to use Dracula as my big bad, especially against "street level" heroes.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October Movie Challenge: Dracula (2006)

We have a saying in our house. "If it is on the BBC then it is going to be good."  Well...this movie is really testing that theory.

Edited to add: Turns out this was on ITV.  So my theory is still good!

This was part of Masterpiece Theatre and BBC so I really expected a lot more than what I got.

He had some interesting ideas. Secret Society dedicated to the undead. Certain have a use for that.  Linking vampirism, blood diseases and syphilis; always fun.  Plus another retelling of the Dracula story.  I liked the actors that played Seward, Mina and Lucy. Sophia Myles as Lucy was exceptional.   But Harker and Van Helsing were a waste.

But I also had a lot of problems with this one.
First of the actor playing Dracula, Marc Warren, was just too young look really. Secondly casting Arthur Holmwood as a villain was a mistake.  Killing Harker early, while not original, is still a bad idea. Also there was no Reinfield. That I can't abide by.

I don't have an issue with people tinkering with the Dracula story as long as it is a good story.  NBC's Dracula series was a good example.  But this one was not.

I had hoped for better to be honest.

20 Watched / 15 New

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Christopher Lee: Farewell Good Knight

By now many of you have heard of the passing of the great Christopher Lee.
Very, very few actors have cut across so many of my interests quite like the way Sir Lee did.

If you have spent any time here whatsoever you know of my love of the Hammer Horror and of Lee's portrayal of Count Dracula.    But he also starred in other films that I equally enjoyed.

Not so well known is my love of the James Bond films.  But it's true, I love watching the Bond movies and some of my best birthday memories was going to see many of the Roger Moore bond movies in the theaters.  One of m favorite Bond villains was Francisco Scaramanga, played by Lee and written to be something like a Moriarty character to Bond.

Speaking of Moriarty and Holmes, Lee has played Sherlock, Mycroft and even Sir Henry Baskerville in three different Sherlock Holmes productions.  Playing Baskerville against Peter Cushing's Holmes was a treat.

Christopher Lee is most well known for his take on Dracula and maybe more so that any other actor he defined the role.  His verbal and physical sparring with best friend Peter Cushing as various members of the Van Helsing family made these movies extremely popular.  Lee and Cushing would star in several movies together even outside of the Dracula ones.  One of my favorites is still "The Creeping Death".

Christopher Lee would go one to be featured in over 200 movies.
Here are a  few of my favorites.
"The Wikerman", not the god-awful Nicholas Cage movie, gut the original creepy pagan one featuring Lee as Lord Summerisle.   "To the Devil A Daughter" which has Lee battling Richard Widmark over the soul of Nastassja Kinski. Yes in case you are wondering, Lee's character wants her for the Devil.
Lee also gave a great (to me) performance as Dr. Gannon in Disney's "Return to Witch Mountain".  I remember him freaking me out in this.

It was Lee's performances as Saruman in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" and the "Hobbit" movies that made him well know to a younger generation.  Lee gave Jackson's film an air of authenticity.  Christopher Lee knew Tolkien, he had read Lord of the Rings many times. He was very, very particular about how you pronounce everything.  He once said "if a man spends time creating and entire language then you must be careful to say everything correctly." or something to that effect.

He also played Count Dokku in the Star Wars Pre-olgy films. While the role was done as a means to honor his legacy as Dracula, I could not but help to see the ghost of Peter Cushing there.  Tarkin and Dokku had no screen time together, but I think it is fitting that Cushing and Lee could share this film series together.

Casting him as a dentist in the newer Willy Wonka movie is exactly the type of twisted joke I come to expect from Tim Burton and Lee did not disappoint.

Christopher Lee once said of his friend Peter Cushing that "he died because he was too good for this world".  I say Lee died because there was nothing left for him to do.

This meme makes it's way around the net right around his birthday, I think it is appropriate here as well.

I want to end with this.  I have a new project coming up. Nothing I want to talk about right now, but this will be the dedication in the book.

This book is dedicated to memory of Christopher Lee (1922 - 2015).  His contributions to my horror and fantasy education could begin and end with Dracula and that would be enough. But few people have cut across so much of my own fandom. He was Lord Summerilse, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Francisco Scaramanga, Saruman, Count Dokku, Death, Dr. Victor Gannon, Father Michael Rayner and yes, he was Dracula.  So much of this book would not be possible if it were not for him.

He was much more as a man than any of these characters. But that is how I knew him the best.

To quote his fellow countrywoman, J.K. Rowling:

"And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life."

For your consideration, here is my Christopher Lee inspired stats for Dracula for Mutants & Masterrminds.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blood, Boobs, and Carnage! Blogfest: The Films of Hammer

Today I am participating in the "Blood, Boobs and Carnage" Blogfest hosted by Heather Gardner and Alex J. Cavanaugh.

A lot of gamers talk about their "Appendix N", a list of fantasy or pulp-era books (sometimes movies and TV shows) that influenced their games.

Not me.
My Appendix N is full of Hammer Films.

My earliest memories are of horror movies.  Specifically Hammer Horror and the old Universal Monsters. I could not have been much older than 4 and my first memories are of Dracula.  I used (and still do) love old Dracula movies.  At one point in time I could claim I had owned every movie that featured Dracula. It should be no big surprise then that my games all had a horror bent to them.

Every October I participate in the Horror Film  Marathon.  I have taken it upon myself to watch (and rewatch in many cases) all Hammer Dracula films.  They all fit today's theme of Blood, Boobs and Carnage.

I have not seen all of the Hammer films and a few I have not seen in maybe 20+ years but they have always had a profound effect on the games I write.   Ghosts of Albion in particular is overflowing with my love for Hammer, as are most of my adventures.   My vampires are not modern mopey emos.  They are blood thirsty killers in the suave exterior of Christopher Lee.

Even in Eldritch Witchery I have tried t tap into that same vibe of Hammer Horror.  Even though most of their moveis were made in the late 50s and 60's, there is something very 70's about them to me.  Maybe that is when I watched most of them (then and the early 80's).

Sex and horror were the bread and butter of Hammer films.   In fact one of the books that sits proudly with my game book collection is Hammer Glamour; a glossy coffee table book of all the women that appeared in the Hammer films.

Here are some of reviews of Hammer Films I have posted here.  IF I had had the time I would posted a body count.

Dracula (1958)
Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966)
Dracula has Risen From His Grave (1968)
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
The Vampire Lovers (1970)
Countess Dracula (1970/1971)
Lust for a Vampire (1971)
Twins of Evil (1971) and on Blu-Ray
Dracula AD 1972 (1972)
Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974)
To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

That was the end of the "Classic" Hammer.
It "rose from the grave" more recently to give us some newer movies.  Less "Blood, Boobs, and Carnage" than before, but still solid horror.

Let Me In (2010)
The Woman in Black (2012) (Daniel Radcliffe blew me away in this!)

Even ones I have seen but not got around to reviewing, like the various Frankenstein movies or the Quatermass ones.

Check out the feature, Hammer for Dummies to learn more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

D6 Dracula

David Baymiller, blogger and owner of The OSR Library, has been doing a lot of posts about the D6 system.

I am planning on doing something with D6 over the summer (been working on it for a bit), but this is too good not to share now.

He has stated up Dracula for the D6 system.

Have a look.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The 10 Best (and 6 Worst) TSR Games that Weren't D&D

There is an article making the rounds again from Topless Robot.  It was originally posted in September of 2009 but hey, that's how social media works sometimes (and I guess Bob Denver is dead! [yes I knew this already]).

Here are the 10 Best,
And 6 Worst

I want to talk about some of these since a few of my favorites are on the list.

Vampyre was a mini-game in a time when many new D&D players (read fans of TSR) had no idea what a mini-game was.  I certainly didn't, not till later anyway when I discovered Steve Jackson.   This was a great little game.  You played hunters looking for Count Dracula.

It had a cool Hex map of Transylvania. A not as cool, but still cool map of Dracula's castle. Counters for the surviving members of the novel vs. Dracula, his brides, gypsies and other monsters (werewolves and wolves I think).   You had till the game ends, either by time or Dracula killing everyone, to find his coffins and destroy them.  It's an idea that has come up again and again in games before and since.

Obviously I loved this little game.  I loved the idea of going up against Dracula.  This was also when I was in my "Marvel" era so I loved the idea of using Dracula, as he appeared in the Marvel comics, as a bad guy.

The game was full of awesome Erol Otus art, Souvenir fonts and maps that looked like they were right out of Basic.   Long before my players ever heard of Count Strahd they clashed wits and swords with Count Dracula!

I remember the game being fast to play and it was surprisingly deadly.  This was also lost in the great game loss of the 90s when so much of my early stuff went missing.

Boot Hill and Gang Busters
Never played these, but I was always curious about them.  I borrowed a friend's copy of Gang Busters and decided it wasn't for me.  I picked up a copy of Boot Hill at a game auction (just the book) and thought it looked fun, but the Old West isn't my thing.

Star Frontiers
I loved this game. We ended up playing a lot of "D&D in Spaaaaace!" with it, but it was still fun.  Love all the support it gets these days.

Gamma World
Again, a game I always wanted to play and never got around to it.  In my mind a game that combined the best bits of Star Frontiers and Gama World would have been perfect.  One of the reasons I REALLY enjoy Mutant Future and Starships & Spacemen. They allow me to combine both as I like with a game system I know better than some games I wrote.  I really need to do more with both of them.

Marvel Super Heroes
Talk about timing.  I was heavy into D&D and I was getting into Marvel comics pretty deep too having just left DC (I came back, maybe you could tell) and there was Marvel Super Heroes.  I really loved this game and I had a blast playing it.

I have gone on and on about this game ad nauseam.  But I still love it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Nosferatu (1979)

I am not sure how to classify this one really.  I thought I saw it years ago, but once I started watching it again I was less sure.  By the end I was really unsure.  Some scenes were familiar, others I remember really differently.

This movie of course is a remake of the classic 1922 Nosferatu.  Remake is somewhat of an inadequate word.  This is a re-visioning of Dracula from the 1922 source.

Klaus Kinski was one of the greatest actors to grace the screen. A strange man by all accounts, but also a brilliant actor and quite brilliant in this role.  Isabelle Adjani as Lucy Harker is also quite fantastic and undoubtedly the hero of this movie outshining both Johnathan Harker and Van Helsing both..

Nosferatu (either version) gets it right where Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) gets it wrong. Vampires are monsters and they carry plague, disease and death.  Dracula is a bringer of death.

Like the Hamilton Deane play and the 1979 Dracula movie reverse the names and roles of Mina and Lucy.  Unlike the Deane play and the original novel nearly everyone dies.

Watching this movie is treat for the eyes. Like the 1922 Nosferatu the cinematography is a marvel to behold.

I am calling this one as a re-watch.

Tally so far:  30 Total Watched / 20 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

October Movie Challenge: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

We had gone to see the new Dracula movie about a week and half ago (well 10 days) and my wife and I wanted to re-watch Bram Stoker's Dracula from 1992.  Plus there had been some other movies I saw this challenge that made me want to go back and see this one.

I wanted to wait till I picked it up on Blu Ray.  I had watched the DVD a couple years back (four years) and it just didn't hold up on my HD TV.   The Blu Ray looked really nice.  It was a direct transfer, so no enhancements that I could see and I swear I noticed things in this that I didn't remember from seeing it in the theaters or on the VHS or DVD versions I have, which is cool.

I was hoping for more value added material though. There is a collection of deleted scenes, which I don't recall seeing on my DVD. There are some documentaries, which I do remember seeing.

There is something else.  I know people said this then and I ignored it, but really the acting is just not that good.  Ryder and Reeves are so horribly miscast as to be a joke really.  I like both actors, but this is kind of stupid really.  Anthony Hopkins is great, too bad he isn't really playing Van Helsing here. Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes and Billy Campbell are great in their roles as Lucy's suitors.  Sadie Frost in her first roll (if I recall right) was great as Lucy; but I don't really recall her being this lascivious in the book (it has been 3 years since I have read it last and all the Lucys blur).
Gary Oldman though gives a great performance (though sometimes coming close to being over the top) as Dracula.  Oldman is fantastic in everything he is in really to say he is good in a roll is like complaining about Nick Cage only having one character he plays in every single movie.  Tom Waits of course was an unexpected treat as Renfield.  Maybe one of the best Renfields ever in fact.

The sets, the costumes and the effects are still visually stunning 20+ years later.

I just wish we could drop this whole "Dracula and his immortal beloved" story idea.  Dracula picked Mina because she was there. She was Harker's wife and because he is an evil bastard (Dracula, not Harker) he decided to make her his bride.  We never hear stories about his three brides being his loves.  Come to think of it. We HAVEN'T ever heard of his three brides.  Do they even have names?

Ok new rule.  If there is a movie dealing with Dracula and his "murdered/suicided/dead and now reincarnated bride" then it immediately looses 1 star in my mental ranking system.  I'll give this movie a pass even though it is not the first and it is the most egregious of the error.
Remember the real-life Dracula actually murdered one of his own wives when he caught her lying to him.  So he is not the romantic ideal movies are making him out to be.
Harker is no saint either, but the book was very clear that they loved each other.

You can read what I said about this movie in 2010.
Overall I think I am a little harder on the cast now than then, but my main points remain.

Tally so far:  27 Total Watched / 18 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Zoltan Hound of Dracula (1978)

Zoltan Hound of Dracula also known as Dracula's Dog was always an interesting one to me.
I liked the idea of Dracula having a vampiric dog.

Well maybe not the Dracula, but certainly one of them.

Some Russians (or maybe Romanians) discover a tomb belonging to the Draculas.  One of the tombs has Zoltan buried in it and he attacks and drains a guard when his stake is removed.  Zoltan also goes to the crypt of his half-vampire former master.
Discovering a living descendant of Dracula, named Drake of course, the pair head to America.

I liked that old half-vampire own could communicate telepathically with Zoltan, but honestly it only made sense.  It's not like the dog had any lines of his own.

The Drake family goes camping with their dogs. Zoltan follows. Wackieness ensues.

The half vampire guy, Vedit, constantly scolds Zoltan about nearly attacking the children, telling him that he only wants the blood of Dracula. But wouldn't the children also have his blood?

There are some neat ideas in this movie, but not really put together well.  Zoltan does show a lot of vampire qualities; glowing eyes, strength and speed.  So I rather liked that.

Tally so far:  21 Total Watched / 14 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

October Movie Challenge: Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Also known as "Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride" this is one I was supposed to watch in 2010 when I did mini-Dracula thon.  My disk was a piece of junk and the movie never worked.  No big deal really, I had seen it back in the 70s or 80s. But I always wanted to re-watch it.  I loved the scenes of Satanic Black Mass combined with vampire mythos.

Plus I really liked (then and now) the idea that the descendants of Van Helsing keep popping up to fight Dracula.   This time we are treated to "Lorrimer Van Helsing" and his granddaughter Jessica.  Ah the mental gymnastics I went through to figure out modern Hammer canon and Marvel Comics Dracula Canon; Jessica Van Helsing vs. Rachel Van Helsing. Rachel was either Jessica's daughter or her niece.  But that is just my crazy head-canon.

Additionally there was the high tech/medical science aspect of this.  It is takes a lot of influences from James Bond (which also had Christopher Lee as a bad guy). This movie is also so in tune with the 70s occult revival it is hard to know nearly 40 years later which influenced which.

There really is a lot I love about this movie.  Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing and Van Helsing, really it is the best team up in the history of the genre.

The bit about the "Undead Sabbat" is a little silly, but the bubonic plague is a nice way to up the ante a bit.

I used this movie as a basis for my introduction of Dracula to Mutants & Masterminds.

Tally so far:  20 Total Watched / 13 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Friday, October 10, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Dracula Untold (2014)

It's nice to see a movie in the theaters for the challenge every so often.
Dracula Untold is the "untold" story of how Vlad Dracula Tepes became a vampire.

I am not going to say a lot on this to be honest.  I don't want to spoil anyone.  But I will say there is more "300" and "Lord of the Rings" in this than in Bram Stoker's classic.

Still, it was a very fun movie and I am looking forward to talking about more soon.

We took the kids to see it and they really enjoyed it.  Now I will need to have them watch one of the classic Dracula movies.

I'll pick this up on BluRay.

Tally so far:  12 Total Watched / 11 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Mario Salieri's Dracula (1994)

Ok. Not sure whether this one should count or not.  Not really scary enough to be horror, not sexy enough to be porn. The version I have is under an hour, softcore and edited rather poorly.  Given the cast and what I can find on the internet there is a hardcore version as well.

I should point out that this movie pretty much takes all it's cues from the Francis Ford Coppola Dracula inducing copying the title font for "Dracula".

The plot deals with the fall of Vlad the Impaler and his transformation to Dracula.  It even gets to England of the 1880s.  But beyond that it doesn't make much sense either has a horror movie or as an erotic one.  There are vampires running about but we don't really see much of Dracula.  Also is Ron Jeremy supposed to be something like Jack the Ripper? No idea.

Pity really.
Ok, not really, I went in with pretty low expectations and it still managed not to hit even those.

Thankfully I have some better ones coming up.

Tally so far:  8 Total Watched / 7 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Monday, October 6, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Alucard (2008)

Well...I can say this for this low-budget film.  It makes a valiant attempt to retell Dracula in a modern setting.
It also kept much of the original novel and tropes.  There are some interesting tibbits here too. The use of old fashion phones and typewriters was interesting. In fact the old 90s laptop Harker uses on his trip looked more dated than Mina's typewriter.

All the characters are here. Moreso than any other version of Dracula I have seen; yes even Bram Stoker's Dracula. There are some scenes that obviously influences by that movie, but nothing that also could not be derived from the book.  I do like that they cast an Indiana actor as Holmwood.

The acting is not great, but I did notice that many of actors appeared together in other films from the same company.  The editing is also a little off and the special effects are weak at best.

Interestingly enough while we only get glimpses of various female nudity we are "treated" to a full frontal of Dracula/Alucard.  The cover of the video it just one of the vampire brides.

I will admit. I thought the fight scene at the end was amusing. It wasn't supposed to be though.

At 2 hours and 36 mins the movie really drags on.  Yes the book is long, but I think they could have tightened it up a bit.

If at all possible avoid the song at the end.

A for effort, but a solid C- for execution.

Of course now I wonder why vampires only use permutations of their own name. Dracula = Alucard/a, Carmilla, Mircalla, and so on.  I used to say it was vanity, but maybe there is something more to it. Something to think about.
Tally so far:  7 Total Watched / 6 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: Actual Factual: Dracula - A Compendium of Vampires

Actual Factual: Dracula - A Compendium of Vampires is an unassuming book. The cover is stock art (I am guessing, not sure) and the preview is text with a small amount of art.  That and the $40 price tag (sale price $18) might scare some people off.

That would be a mistake.

Inside are 472 pages of detailed vampire types from all over the world.

In this book we are given a basic overview of vampires (aka the stuff everyone knows) and then we move quickly into the relationship between Vlad the Impaler and Vampires.  I will honestly say that this section, while entertaining seems tacked on.  The book would have been fine without it, but is likely better with it.

Next we get into the heart of this book.  The Compendium of Vampires.
The A to Z section detail vampires from around the world and not only represents the bulk of the book (340+ pages), but also the bulk of the research.

Each entry contains the name of the vampire, pronunciation and translation of the name. Also listed are it's country or area of origin, type of creature (creature, spirit, demon...), how it appears, prefered prey, how often it attacks or feeds, Modus Operandi, abilities, defenses against it and how to kill it.  Not every creature has everything listed, this is not a Monster Manual, but there are enough. In some cases the author has used her own imagination to fill in the blanks.  This is fine really, given that the author is Theresa Bane.
But I guess if you want something purer you can go to her pages of resources.

There is a bibliography, which is almost as interesting to read as the entries themselves.

What follows next really puts this book into a different category of usefulness, the indexes.
First is a more common index of words, names and other things you might want to find in the book.

Next is an index of Abilities.  So if you need a vampire that is Beautiful (as an ability) then you have GREEN OGRESS 124 and SUCCUBUS 274.

There is an index of Appearance.  So "barbed tongue" gives you:
WIESZCZY 330 (one of my favorite barbed tongue vampires).

An Index on Creation.  Indexes of How Often it Attacks, How to Find, Origins, Prey, Types, and finally Weaknesses.

Now what would have been a nice touch would be to hyper link all these indexes to the main document.  But I am not complaining.

What the book lacks in art, there are only a few pieces, it makes up for in research and utility.
You can debate on whether or not Creature Y is a vampire or not, but I can't fault the authors for doing all this work.

All in all a great book.  A must have if you are at all a fan of vampires or use them in your games.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Amazing Adventures: Universal Monsters

It is no secret. I love horror movies.

A large part of that is growing up on a steady diet of Universal Studios' classic Monsters.  My dad had a bunch of book about the Golden Age of Cinema.  Most I never bothered with, but the one of the horror stories and monsters.  I wore that sucker out.   When I got older (11 or 12) I bought a used B/W TV that still used tubes.  The thing got so hot you could warm a slice of pizza on it (not really, but it was hot).  This was not a big deal for me since I could watch all my favorite "Monster Movies" when they came on KPLR-TV out of St. Louis.

One of the things I discover later is that almost in every case the stories were updated to the (then) modern times.  Dracula hung out with 1930s fashionistas.  The Wolfman smoked modern cigarettes in his John Talbot guise. Yes Frankenstein seemed set in earlier time, but the sequels were thoroughly modern.

Makes them perfect for Amazing Adventures.

Dracula (1931)
The OD (original Dracula...not counting Orlock) is Bela Lugosi.

Count Dracula

SIZE: Medium
HD: 15d12+10 (100 hp)
MOVE: 40 ft., 60 ft. (fly), 20 ft. (climb)
AC: 22 (cloak of protection)
ATTACKS: Slam (1d6)
SPECIAL: Blood Drain, Children of the Night, Dominate, Create Spawn, Energy Drain, Alternate Form, Gaseous Form, Entourage, Electrical Resistance (half), Spider Climb
SANITY: 1d6/1d8 (Dracula tones down his horror)
INT: Genius
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
TYPE: Undead
XP: 11050+15 (12400)

Dracula never carries weapons relying on his Dominate and physical strength.

Frankenstein's Monster & The Bride (1931, 1935)

Both the Monster and the Bride (Frankenstein is the name of their creator) are Awakened Golems.

Awakened Flesh Golem
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1 (typically a unique creature)
SIZE: Medium to Large
HD: 10d10 (55 hp)
MOVE: 20 ft. (Typically these Golems are slow moving)
AC: 20
ATTACKS: 2 Slam (2d8)
SPECIAL: Berserk, Immunity to Magic*
SANITY: 1d6/1d8
INT: High to Genius
ALIGNMENT: Neutral (Evil)
TYPE: Construct
XP: 900+10 (1450)

An Awakened Flesh Golem possesses self-awareness, usually keen intellect and the self-reflection to abhor what they are.  This tends to make the creatures either tragic or villainous.

While immune to magic Frankenstein's Monster has been shown to be held under the thrall of Dracula from time to time.  Controlling the Monster though takes most of Dracula's attention.

The Mummy (1932)

Imhotep / Ardath-bey

NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1 (unique)
SIZE: Medium
HD: 10d12 (60 hp)
MOVE: 30ft.
AC: 22
ATTACKS: Slam (1d12) or by weapon
SPECIAL: Despair, Darkvision 60ft, Energy Drain, Fire Vulnerability, Magic*
SANITY:  1d8/1d10 (1d4/1d6 while in his "Ardath-bey" persona)
INT: High
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil
TYPE: Undead
XP: 60+2 (94)

*Imhotep does not have a mummy rot ability, instead he can drain life energy as if he were a vampire.  Also due to his curse he can not be raised.

The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man, aka Dr. Jack Griffin is a 5th level Gadgeteer who created a potion of permenant invisibility, but at the cost of his sanity. Dr. Griffin is currently in the 10-15 SAN point range and looses more all the time.

The Wolf-Man (1941)
Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

Larry Talbot, AKA the Wolf Man

SIZE: Medium
HD: 4d8 (16 hp)
MOVE: 30 ft., 50 ft. (as wolf-man)
AC: 16
ATTACKS: Bite (2d4)
SPECIAL: Beserke Curse of Lycanthropy, Wolf Empathy, Trip, Alternate Form*, Twilight Vision
SANITY: 1d8/1d10
INT: Average
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Good as human, chaotic evil in wolf form
TYPE: Humanoid
XP: 120+4 (184)

Larry Talbot's curse of lycanthropy turns him into a human/wolf hybrid creature.  Him mind is gone and all he knows is animalistic desires such as hunger and killing.  While in human form LArry searches for the wolf that infected him hopping to find a cure. 

The Gill-man (The Creature from the Black Lagoon)  (1954)

SIZE: Medium
HD: 3d8 (12 hp)
MOVE: 30 ft., 60 ft. (swim)
AC: 16
ATTACKS: Weapon (by weapon), Talon (1d4), Bite (1d4)
SPECIAL: Breeding, Darkvision 60 ft., Saltwater Sensitivity, Water Dependent
SANITY: 1d6/1d8
INT: Average
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
TYPE: Humanoid
XP: 30+3 (66)

Gill-men are the rarer freshwater cousins of the Spawn of Dagon also called Fish men.  Biology though will keep them forever seperate since the Gill Man can no more tolerate salt water than the Fish Men can tolerate Fresh water.  It is suspected that like Fish Men the Gill Man needs human females for breeding purposes.  

Now I want to rewatch all of these!

Don't forget about the Kickstarter:

Monday, October 7, 2013

October Movie: Dario Argento's Dracula 3D (2012)

Wow.  Where to start with this one?
Ok for starters I was very excited to be getting a new version of Dracula for the screen. I was cautiously optimistic, Argento is a "name" and there was a chance it could be done right.
Also I had heard it was a homage to the Hammer Horror films of the 50s and 60s. is a very pretty movie.  The HD is nice.

It IS a love note to the Hammer Horror. The visuals for that are down.  But that is where it ends really.
Ok what is bad? Well pretty much everything else.
Asia Argento can't act, at all.  Unax Ugalde makes wish for the nuanced and subtle performances of Keanu Reeves as Johnathon Harker. And Rutger Hauer (Van Helsing). Well Rutger has to eat too.
I will give Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula) credit though, he seems like a good actor. Interesting enough he is set to play Van Helsing on the new Dracula TV Series.

Again, we get the whole "immortal beloved" plot line; that is the idea that Mina (sometimes Lucy) is one of Dracula's past lovers. Sometimes it works, but most time I don't buy it.

Damn. I would have loved to have a good new Dracula remake.

Oh. So yeah. Pretty crappy movie really.

ETA: I am watching Jesús Franco's Count Dracula (1970) now.  I'll review that one soon too.

Tally: Watched 7,  New 6

What are you watching?

hosted by Krell Laboratories

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October Movie: Daughter of Dracula (1972)

Also known as La fille de Dracula this is one of the movies I bought back in the summer just for this. Plus Halloween would not be complete in my mind without one (or more) Jesús Franco movie.
I picked this one up last year with the intent to watch it for the last Challenge but I ended up traveling for work and I discovered that my work computer did not have the codecs installed to allow me to play DVDs.  Grumble....

So like all of Franco's work from around this time this one has a surreal feel to it. That and a lot of girl on girl vampire action.   No to mention a beach, a nightclub and lots 70s sex. The movie is a Franco play-by-numbers.

There is a subset of the Dracula myths in movies that often deal with his family.  The Subspieces movies touch on this, Dracula's Daughter from 1936 deals with this and many more.  There is also influences of Carmillia here, no surprise, and even some similarities

I liked the movie to be honest. You have to go into a Franco movie with some expectations. I would have liked a slightly different ending, but hey expectations right.

Tally: Watched 5,  New 5

What are you watching?

hosted by Krell Laboratories

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Monster Maddness: Dracula

Dracula is an old favorite here at The Other Side.
I have seen just about every movie featuring the Count, read scores of books about him and I was even in the play back in High School.

So it is with some excitement and trepidation that I report on the new series coming to NBC.

The trailer looks interesting and I am glad it is set in the Victorian Era rather than modern times.

The trailer looks good, and it seems to be a retelling of the Dracula novel and/or play.  There is a character named "Browning" in the cast that I am sure is a nod to Todd Browning.

It stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers from The Tudors as Dracula, so that is a good start.
Sure he is a bit young looking, but that is not a big deal.
I see they are going with the "immortal love" angle from recent movies though.  Not fond of that idea BUT it does give Drac a reason not to kill Mina right away and prolong a series.

I would have preferred to see to see this on Showtime or HBO, but hey at least we are getting something right?

I am looking forward to this.  Should be on the air about the same time True Blood takes their season finale.

Enjoy this? Please check out the other monster posts today!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vampire Blog Hop

Little bit of history here.  Long before I was known as "The witch guy" I was "the Vampire guy".
So it is with a sense of homecoming that I participate in the Precious Monsters Vampire Bloghop.

I still tend to write a lot about vampires here.

My earliest memory of watching a movie had to be Bella Lugosi and Christopher Lee as Dracula.  I can clearly recall being no more than 3 or 4 and thinking anything with red eyes was a "dracula".  This extended as I got older (5) when the Count became my favorite character on Sesame Street.  I am pretty sure I have seen every film adaptation of Dracula there is and I have read the original book a dozen times.

So yeah. I like Vampires.  What made me "stop" liking them?  Vampire: The Masquerade.
Well, that is not fair.  It wasn't the game itself, it was the over exposure of the game and I'll admit, some of the players.  But I have gotten over that.  In fact I really enjoy the 20th Anniversary edition and the translation guide  The truth is that Vampire really changed a lot things in gaming. In recent years I have come back to Vampire (and to vampires in general) and find I am enjoying it so much more.
So let's have a look at some the Vampire games I have enjoyed the most over the years.  This is not all of them, but it is a nice sample of new and old.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Revised Edition
This is it, the original. Well, not the original, original, but the revised version. This game is the go to game for playing an angsty, tortured monster.  Nearly everything known about vampires in myth or fiction is in here somewhere.  Re-reading it today if you had no knowledge of this game you might be tempted to say that this game is full of cliches. But in truth this is the origin of a lot of things that we take for granted.
Truthfully this is a great book to get even if you never plan to play the game.  There are plenty of ideas for Role-playing as well as integrating it with LARPing. There is also a lot of ideas for vampires here.
If you like Anne Rice's vampires, then this is the game for you.
Play if you like: Anne Rice

Victorian Age Vampire
The Victorian Age is best time for vampires in my mind. This the age of Dracula, of Varney the Vampire and tons of great Gothic Literature.  Also it is a time of science vs. religion, the city vs. the rural, the traditional vs. the modern.  This is a perfect mix for a Vampire game. The Vampire game mechanics are well served by this mix; the human vs. monster. In many respects this game is actually superior to it's parent game V:tM.
All the same vampire clans from The Masquerade are here, but changed.  Not as much as the Dark Ages version, but the alterations fit the times well. The vampires here seem to be so much more than their modern counterparts.
Play if you like: Dracula or Varney the Vampire

Vampire: The Requiem
A while back White Wolf rebooted everything.  They redid all their game lines, edited the rules and gave us a new World of Darkness.  On the plus side Vampire the Requiem has much more cleaned up rules.  They were similar to the old rules, but just better in most respects.  The meta-rules or how the vampires are played though felt worse. Not worse really, but off to me.
Basically you can play the same kind of game you did in V:tM, though if you had a favorite clan in the old game it might not be here, or be changed in subtle ways. Still though this is a great game with less overhead than old World of Darkness. If you are choosing between this game and Vampire: The Masquerade then this might be the easier choice, even if it is less "classic" choice.
Play if you like: Modern supernatural

Vampire Translation Guide
So say you like both Vampire games, or you prefer one but like elements from the other.  Well White Wolf came up with this great guide that lets you translate between the two games. At least in a mechanical way you can translate clans from one to the other. I like this product on concept alone. While this book is not the Rosetta Stone between the games, it is a good translation guide. If you are fan of one of the game then this book gives you the chance to double your stuff. For fans of both games this is a good way to open up your world of darkness a bit more. It is lacking on some crunch, but I think I can be OK with that.
I also like this product for what it means. White Wolf is basically saying something new now, the world is yours do with it as you please. No more meta-plot no more rigid distinctions that always come in 5's.
I like the converted characters, but would have also liked to have seen the same character in both systems.

Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
The 20th Anniversary Edition combines the best of the best of the old Vampire the Masquerade game and strives for completion.  All the clans, all the powers and most of the iconic characters. It is more expensive that any of the other White Wolf Vampire games, but it is also the largest and everything you need for years of playing is right here.  Or more the point, everything from years of playing is right here.  It is easy to pick this up and feel like it is 1990 again.
I think this book is really aimed more at people that played V:TM back in the day and now have a desire to go back to those nights where monsters roamed the city.  There is a lot here for new players though too.  If you have never played a Vampire game then this has everything you need.

Chill Vampires
I have gone on about this book before.  Chill Vampires is the standard to which all vampire related supplements to a horror game must be measured. Any game can produce a bunch of stats, some bad fiction and link them together, Chill: Vampires is a Master's Thesis on combating the undead. Not just notes for the would be vampire slayer (and game masters) but also detailed accounts of the most brazen of the undead. Complete with stats, history, motivations and the notes of previous investigators and SAVE agents.
This book is fantastic for any game but essential for a good Chill game. I would recommend it on the basis of the Dracula and Bathory write-ups alone, but there are more and even stranger and deadlier vampires in these pages.
Play if you like: Supernatural or The Night Stalker

James Mishler is an old name if you been doing this for a while.
He has a personal blog and his game company blog.  He also has a really awesome vampire book that I won a few weeks back.

Vampires of the Olden Lands
The Olden Lands is James' in house campaign the Chronicles of Mhoriedh.  All the books in this series are dual stated with Labyrinth Lord and Castles & Crusades stats.  This appeals to me on a number of levels.  I like that he went through the effort to do this and the nice effect is that between these two sets of stats you can play this under any old school version of D&D you like.   There is also plenty in this book that work with any other game as well.
We start out with some common protections against vampires.  We follow with 8 very different sorts of vampires including living, dead and spirit.  All dual stated.  There is a new race to play, The Dhamphir.  I have seen a lot of "Dhampirs" over the years, but this one is one of the best so far just in terms of simplicity.
All in all a really nice take and these vampires are not like the Dracula-Lestat-Edward clones that can populate so many other games.

Fang & Fury: A Guidebook to Vampires
This is an older book for 3.0 (not 3.5) D&D but there is still a lot of great things here.  This is certainly written from the D&D-fantasy world vampire; so feeding off of dragons and the like, what happens to certain  classes.  There are feats, prestige classes, monsters and gods. There are plenty of spells, magic items, weapons and artifacts.  There is really a lot of good stuff here and if you have vampires in your game then you need this.  If you have any vampire big-bads in your game then this is also a great buy.  Some of the material needs to be updated to 3.5 or Pathfinder, but nothing that is a show stopper that I could see.

Out for Blood

If there was anything you ever wanted to know about vampires or those that hunt them then this is your book. In the 200+ pages there are 18 new prestige classes, new uses for skills, feats, and of course tons of vampires. There are a handful of new spells and campaign ideas for using or hunting vampires in your game.
What I liked best about this book though was the Fist of Light Prestige Class. It was exactly what I was looking for in one of my games and I was happy to see someone else had done all the work for me.
The layout is very clean and clear and easy enough to read onscreen. The art varies, but most it is rather good.

There are a lot more including all the Ravenloft stuff.

And an honorable mention, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Roleplaying Game.  Someone has to kill all those vamps. Or date them. Whatever.

EDITED TO ADD: Forgot my own Vampire Basic Class

Want to know about Vampires?  Check out all the other members of this blog hop!

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