The Strain Season One Penultimate Episode (Recap and Review)

The Strain Season One Penultimate Episode (Recap and Review)

The Strain season one penultimate episode begins with Eldritch Palmer waiting in pain and fear for The Master to show up and grant his wish for immortal life as a strigoi. Abraham Setrakian is reacting badly to the group’s failure to kill the vampire leader under the subway. Zach says nothing of his little adventure while looking after Nora’s mother. Setrakian speaks to the heart in the jar in his basement and remembers his first encounter with The Master.

Guest Post from Author Tim Waggoner

Tim Waggoner

Author of

What Once Was Flesh

From the Anthology Collection

of

Michael West’s Vampires Don’t Sparkle

Guest Post

Vampires don't Sparkle

The Genesis of “What Once Was Flesh”

“Where do you get your ideas?” is the most common question writers are asked. (Followed closely by “Do you know Stephen King/Stephenie Myer/J.K. Rowling?” and “How much do you pay to get your books published?”) Sometimes it’s a question we can’t answer because we simply don’t know. Some ideas just pop into our heads fully realized, and all we have to do is sit down and write. (Too bad that doesn’t happen more often!) But sometimes we know exactly where and how a story idea is born, and that’s the case with my contribution to Vampires Don’t Sparkle, “What Once Was Flesh.”

Continue reading “Guest Post from Author Tim Waggoner”

Vampires Don’t Sparkle by Michael West: A Blood-soaked Bonanza

VDS-Cover-SmallI have to admit that I had given up on the world of vampire literature. Thanks to a suburban housewife in America, vampires had become a race of sulking, bloodless, pedophiles who glittered in the sun like cheap dime store jewellery.

In the sun??

Growing up on a steady diet of Hammer Horror (and yes the capitals are required) and discovering films like Near Dark, The Hunger, Fright Night, et al; I was disgusted at the thought of a “tween” vampire written by someone who did not even like vampires. It was a joke with a bloodless punchline that left a foul taste in one’s mouth.

I had given up hope of ever reading a vampire tale that would affect me so much that I had to sleep with the light on and nervously peer into darkened corners or jump, heart pounding, at every creak and pop as the house settles for the night.

But…

I had not counted on Horror Master (again the capitals are required) Michael West to collect such an array of brilliantly bloody and violent “old-fashioned” vampires. Vampires who: cannot walk in the sun and don’t look like a tawdry bit of moving glitter dust when they do, rip out throats, are cruel and vicious, have super-human strength and require a stake, and a hammer to kill.

It appears that I am not alone in my disgust at the current fad of foppish, shiny, reflective pompadour wearing sweetie-cakes who’d rather starve than rip out a throat and glut themselves on human blood. It appears that Mr West also longed for the more “traditional” Dracula type vampire and set out to find a collection of short stories where the vampires don’t sparkle…they kill.

He offers, for our entertainment and enjoyment (and terror) fifteen different stories about blood ingesting, super-human creatures who yearn for your blood from fifteen different contemporary authors. There is even a robot vampire!  But all these stories have one thing in common, apart from the fact that all the vampires in them are actually scary and would not appeal to any “tween” that I know of; these stories suffer from originality. 

They also have a wonderful Dionysian pathos that is admirable. I will admit that when I finished this blood-drenched work of art I felt (apart from uneasy about the fact that night had fallen) quite sated; akin to a tick or leech or even a mosquito after a long leisurely feast of blood from a victim.  Because the vampire is a blood sucking creature whose bodily fluid intake and exchange is as primal as the act of sex.

Michael West prefaces this collection of stories stating two things. The first is his dismay about what vampires have become in popular fiction. The second is his personal catharsis in dealing with two people who are near and dear to him being stricken with cancer.

One was a good friend and colleague who lost her battle against the horrible disease, the second is his wife, who has won her fight against this merciless killer. It is because of his personal involvement that he has donated a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this collection. He will be doing the same for his future anthologies.

If you love  more traditional vampires grab this book with both hands and read it. In a world of 2 and 3 star books and vampires who really aren’t, this collection is a real 5 star glorious bloodsucking creature of the night read.

I will leave you with Michael’s own statement about the book: “Stephenie Meyer stole this monster from Bram Stoker. We’re stealin’ it back!”

Michael with Elvira Mistress of the Dark...
Michael with Elvira Mistress of the Dark…

Bite: A Vampire Handbook by Kevin Jackson: Vampires 101

Published in 2009 Bite is a sort of chronicle of vampires for beginners. Jackson starts off by listing the various vampire myths throughout the world and points out that almost every civilization has their own version of vampires as well as unique names for the un-dead.

Considering the fact that the book itself consists of only five chapters there is not a hugely in-depth analysis of the vampire mythos it does , however, pay considerable “lip-service” to most of the more popular vampires of fiction.

The book goes on to discus vampires in literature, trotting out the old story of Byron and the Shelley’s and Polidori’s “monster” party where they challenged themselves to write a scary tale. Mary Shelley famously came up with the roots of Frankenstein which she later tweaked for publication. Polidori wrote about a vampire and was accused of plagiarizing Byron’s story.

There is also a mention of the penny dreadful series about Varney the Vampire and finally he winds up touching on Bram Stokers Dracula and gives a little background on Stoker’s alleged homosexuality and the actor Sir Henry Irving.

The vampire on stage and celluloid are broached next with a minimum of attention paid to Bela LugosiChristopher Lee and Max Schreck in their early depictions of the blood drinking Count Dracula.

There are quite a few books and authors that Jackson recommends and discusses. Anne Rice, Stephen King, Kim Newman, et al. The same holds true with films and television shows dealing with blood suckers although somewhat amazingly Jackson confesses that he did not like The Lost Boys, one of the best films dealing with the vampire genre in the 80’s.

Besides the fact that I seriously questioned the authors taste in film, I doubted that he had even seen the movie. How anyone could chronicle vampires in fiction and not like The Lost Boys worries me. More importantly to not  recognise the important impact that the film had on future vampire films is almost criminal.

Still, he does cover a lot of material in his five chapter introduction to the lore and gore of the vampire world. But, as I suggested in the title of this post, it is just an introduction for all that. He does not spend enough time on any of the areas he writes about.

For the novice vampire fan, it will serve the purpose of at least giving the burgeoning reader or film-goer a choice of what to read or watch. Although the first chapter can drag a bit as he lists all the names of the different versions of vampires in different cultures. It’s somewhat akin to reading the Book of Genesis in the Bible and yawningly going through all those begets.

So I can safely give this little handbook 3 out of 5 stars. There are other books out there that delve a lot deeper into the subject than this one, but it’s not bad for all that.

Author of Bite, Kevin Jackson.

Moon Child (2003) I’m Just a Teenage Vampire, Baby.

Cover of "Moon Child"

Directed by Takahisa Zeze (RaiyoDog Star),  Moon Child was co-written by Zeze, Gackt  and Kishû Izuchi. The film marks the film début of both Gackt and Hyde. It’s cast also features Tarô Yamamoto (Battle Royale, Get Up!), Ryo Ishibashi (The Grudge 2Audition) and  Susumu Terajima (Brother, Ichi the Killer).

Moon Child has two distinctions, it is the first and only feature film written by Gackt and it features not one, but two film début’s of Japanese rock stars, Gackt and Hyde. Although Gackt had been in a television short feature, Hero’s Hero in 2002.

When Moon Child opened it was savaged by critics. Even the usually more than fair Snowblood Apple, gave the film a very poor rating and pretty much disliked everything about the film.

While the film was mainly aimed at the two rock star,s fans, it is still a decent film and one that I felt had not been done before.

Moon Child opens with three children inadvertently robbing a Yakuza gang member. As the children start to die as a result, Kei (Hyde) comes to their rescue. Kei is a ‘teen’ vampire who one of the kids (Sho) had helped before the incident and Kei is returning the favour.

Several years pass and the Sho is now a young adult. His ‘gang’ comprises his brother Shinji (Susumu) and his child-hood friend Toshi (Yamamoto). These three cross paths with Son (Leehom Wang,) who is out to avenge his sister’s rape by another gang. The gang now numbers four with an ‘unofficial’ number of five with vampire Kei.

 

Given that the film opens in 2014 and that the Japanese economy has been decimated, the film could almost be prophetic. We are treated to three different time periods in the ‘gangs’ life. The first time period, deals with bonding and death.

In actual fact all three time periods deal with bonding issues and death. Not surprising when you consider that they all operate on the wrong side of the law.

The film deals with life, death, love and loyalty. Unfortunately, both Hyde and Gackt are quite obviously new to the acting field, it shows, but they do remarkably well for first timers. The other actors being more experienced to save the film to a degree. Yamamoto gives a heart wrenching performance as the ‘less than sharp’ friend who dies quite early in the film.

In fact my only complaint, was that we didn’t get to see enough of Yamamoto,  Ishibashi, or Terajima. The film tries very hard to emulate director John Woo‘s style of story telling. There are a lot of shoot-outs and wire work stunts. Unfortunately the limited budget does slightly affect these scenes.

Overall I really feel that Moon Child does not remotely deserve the hammering it initially received and still gets today. It was a sterling first effort by Gackt and Hyde. The story was different and despite the minimal characterisation of the main players you still grew attached to the main protagonists.

So despite the poor reception and the poor reviews I think that this film is a must-see. Especially is you are a Gackt or Hyde fan. To be honest the main reason I watched the film was to see Tarô Yamamoto. I had just fallen in love with his performance  in Battle Royale. I wanted to see something else he had done.

I can think of no other film that is a Gangster/Vampire film. That alone makes it worth the price of admission. The fact that they have used this as the basis of their film is commendable. That they haven’t made the film only about that is admirable. You could really call Moon Child a ‘coming of age’ film. We are allowed to see the character’s grow-up and change as and when it is necessary.

Kei the vampire is easily the films most tragic character. Trapped in a Peter Pan world not of his choosing, his world is a bit more simplistic than that of his comrades. The other members of the gang must deal, with death, revenge, betrayal and heartbreak.

But don’t watch the film expecting to see a ‘Count Dracula’ type film. The film is not about Kei. It is about how Kei sees the gang and his interaction with it.

I guess you could say it is a human interest film about a vampire and his friends.

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