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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #126

October 1987.  I am a Freshman in University and about to hit my first big Halloween bash at a school notorious for it's 50,000+ people Halloween party.  But that is at night. Durning the day I pick up a copy of Dragon magazine that is destined to be one of my top three Dragons of all time.
So "Here I Go Again" with October 1987 and issue #126 of This Old Dragon!

Let's first talk about that cover.  It is easily one of my all-time favorite covers. Daniel R. Horne's "Saving the Best for Last" is an epic in a picture.  An old enemy back from the dead to exact his revenge and a ranger down to her last magic arrow.  Only one is going to walk away here.  To this day if I ever use a frost giant against a group of characters you can best believe that at least one of them is coming back as an undead to try to avenge.  That's some powerful shit there to still affect my gaming 30 years later.

Letters come from people looking for PBM games. I didn't have a mainframe account yet, but I knew even then that LISTSERVs were going to be the future of gaming, at least anyway for the next few years.  We also learn that Star Frontiers will no longer be published. More on that in a bit.

The Forum covers two letters concerning setting up a BBS (Bulletin Board System) for accessing older Dragon articles via modem.  Oh the can of worms that must have raised in the offices then.  This is the dawn of the age that TSR clamped down on ANYTHING on the Internet that was D&D related.  Heck in the 90s I seriously doubt I could have even done an article like this without hear from their lawyers.  Look, I am all about nostalgia here of the "Golden Age" of our hobby, but let's not forget what a bunch of assholes TSR had back in the late 80s and early 90s.  You could barely talk about anything online.  When it comes to doing anything online with D&D give me WotC over TSR any day of the week.  Sorry if that makes me loose my old-school street cred, but it is also the truth.

Ken Rolston is up first with his Copyright 1987 Role-Playing Reviews (No snark, I only point that out because it is one of the reasons why the BBS would not have worked and the CD-ROM didn't).  Covered this month is Role-Aids Undead.  I enjoyed the Role-Aids products even if they never had much, or any, traction in my groups back then.  Everyone was all "only TSR!". But Undead is a fun book an a fun adventure.  It had some great alternate lich ideas and some cool undead.  It even had a clan of disgraced dwarves.

Sage Advice runs the gambit.  One player asks if his LG Paladin could marry a CE Magic-User. It must have made a sub-conscious impact on me cause I'd spend the next few years having my Paladins fall in love with Witches.  Or maybe they are both my favorite classes.
We learn also there will be no more Star Frontiers (less details than promised) and no more D&D Cartoon.

We come up to our October feature! The Dead of Night.

To start off with a home run we have THE Tom Moldvay talking about a bunch of different vampires in Hearts of Darkness.  He gives us stats not only for the vrykolakas, Baobhan sith, and the ch'ing shih but also for Dracula himself. I had been working on the stats for Dracula for every game I knew at that point.  I even had Star Frontiers stats for him.  Seeing this was like a bolt from the blue.  I knew I was doing something right.  I still continue to this day.

Dead on Target by David Howery is a great article on using the right weapon against the right undead.  If you go with the idea that clerics can't use swords, then this article makes a lot of sense in explaining that.  Swords are not that effective against skeletons, zombies or ghouls. Sorry Michonne.  A lot of these ideas have been used in other games before or since, but here they were new and fresh and really, really bugged the crap out of my players. Especially since I Was about to go All Ravenloft, All the Time.

Vince Garcia is no stranger to the Other Side.  His article on A Touch of Evil:  Breathing life into the world of the dead was another one of those articles that were common sense in retrospect but seemed revolutionary at the time.  The article covers how to make undead scarier and more unique.  It flows well from Dead on Target to really, really make for a bad day.

And now the scariest article of all....Steve Winter is up with The Game Wizards Second Edition: An Editors Viewpoint.  Yes, 2nd edition is going to be here in about a year.  It is an overview of what the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide will contain.  I remember a few years back comparing this list to my PHB and DMG and found minor differences, but nothing that stood out.  I can't recall if I was excited then or not. I DO know what I did think eventually.  It is the same cycle I go through with ever edition change.  1. "I am not going to upgrade, I am happy with what I have." 2. "Ok, I'll have a look and see, but I am not really going to play." 3. "Wow this is awesome! I love what they did!" 4. "Abandon everything, this is now the only edition I will ever play!" 5. Repeat.  The notable exception was 3.0 and I was ready for that one the moment I knew it was coming.

Dan Salas is next with a world changing article for me. Well, game world changing.  The Ecology of the Shade gives us a look into the Shade (from MM2).  AS an alternate to the Lich this was a viable option for characters looking for immortality and not exactly Good.  Some of this would come back from the dead in 4e as the Revenant.

Bazaar of the Bizarre covers Treasures of the Orient. Neat, but I would have rather seen more spooky stuff.

Dean Shomshak is back with some spells for Call of Cthulhu in A Ghastly Grimoire.  I adapted some to AD&D.

Letters and Forum have their overflow pages.

The Dragon's Bestiary covers mutants for Gamma World.  Yes, I converted some of these as well. Especially the Giggle Bugs.

New contact system for Top Secret.

The Marvel Phile is next and it is another home run.
One of my FAVORITE Marvel Comics was The Tomb of Dracula.  Loved it. Was introduced to such great characters as Drake, Blade and of course Doctor Strange.
The Marvel Phile has stats for Dracula and bringing his "history" up to date.
I spent HOURS pouring over various books and movies and comics to come up with the most detailed history of Dracula.  I had him doing something every year from the time he was born till 1987.  Obsessive much? Yes. But you should expect that by now.
I added his Marvel stats to my collection as well.

HUGE ad for something I never thought I would see in 1987.  A Star Wars RPG.






Role of Computers covers the state of the art for PC games at the time.  One game it covered was Rogue by Epyx, Inc.  It reviewed the PC and Mac versions, but not the one I was playing at the time, the Tandy Color Computer 3.  I was most disappointed.

Small ads.
Convention Calendar
Snarf Quest and Dragon Mirth.
A double shot of Wormy in the form of a Hex-Word puzzle and the normal comic.
Fun stuff.




All in all a crazy great issue and one I still use.

Want to know what I thought of White Dwarf from the same month? Spoiler, it doesn't measure up. But check out White Dwarf Wednesday #94.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: My Last Sunrise

This one started out with a limited amount of time and we are already near the end!

My Last Sunrise - Gothic Horror 28mm Miniatures


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1512506318/my-last-sunrise-gothic-horror-28mm-miniatures

If it didn't have me at "Gothic Miniatures" or at a Dracula mini it had me at their witch mini.

Yeah, I am predictable.  But that also means that when these things hit the internet I will share them with you.

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.

DC ADVENTURES Universe
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.


Stats
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.

http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/2015/04/q-atozchallenge-re-opening-of-x-files.html
http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-to-z-challenge-q-cult-classics.html

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.

http://theosrlibrary.blogspot.com/2015/04/d6-supernatural-monsters-not-show.html

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,
http://www.toplessrobot.com/2009/09/the_10_best_and_6_worst_tsr_games_that_werent_dd.php?page=1
And 6 Worst
http://www.toplessrobot.com/2009/09/the_10_best_and_6_worst_tsr_games_that_werent_dd.php?page=2

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

Vampyre
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.

Dungeon!
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:
ASWANG MANDURUGO 23
BICHOHINDU 44
GROBNIK 125
KRVOIJAC 164
UPIER 294
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

Vampire
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1
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)
SAVES: M, P
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
SAVES: P
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)
SAVES: P, M
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

NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1
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
SAVES: P
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)


NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1 (2-4)
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
SAVES: P, M
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: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/amazing-adventures-rpg

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.

Well...it 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

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