Werewolves and vampires are popular these days (as witnessed by this blog and my book, Drasmyr). “Werewolf: The Beast Among Us” is a made-for-DVD movie about a werewolf terrorizing a small 19th-century village. A couple friends and I rented this film for a kind of pre-Halloween werewolf flick-night. It stars Guy Wilson as the main character, a young surgeon-in-training named Daniel who also has a penchant for drawing and blacksmithing (he’s a talented young lad). It also stars Stephen Rea (they guy who played the detective in “V for Vendetta and also starred in the latest “Underworld” movie), although his is a minor role.
In the film, Daniel and his village are desperate to stop the predations of the hideous beast. They hire a group of werewolf hunters, who will hopefully solve their problem. Soon, however, they learn that this werewolf is unlike any other: It was born a werewolf, not transformed by a bite. So, it is stronger and smarter than the rest of its brethren and it has the potential to learn how to shape-shift at will. Danielle, of course, wants to join the hunters, but he is turned down initially. Eventually, though, the leader of the hunters, Charles, accepts his help and they assign a few small tasks to Danielle—mostly procuring bait and what-have-you. Then, the hunt begins. I’ll leave the rest of the plot a mystery, so you can enjoy it yourself.
Overall, the film was entertaining. It was better than a lot of werewolf movies I’ve seen (not that I’ve seen too many—it just seems way too easy to make a bad werewolf movie). The special effects were okay, though not exceptional. The plot was interesting, but some of the developments seemed forced. There were gypsies in the movie, and they were only there because it was a werewolf movie. They had the one vital clue, and that was about it. And their costumes pretty much blended with the rest of the town—very non-distinctive. There was a romantic element to the film, but one which left a very large unresolved problem by the time it wrapped up. The film also used a number of elements “lifted” from other werewolf movies I’ve seen. Most particularly, it took a few elements from the remake of “The Wolfman” that came out a couple years ago.
Overall I’ll give this film three stars out of five. If you want to see a really good werewolf movie, I’d recommend the aforementioned remake of “The Wolfman.” Still, this movie was worth seeing. Good for Halloween.
Facebook Fan Page Established: Yes, I’ve finally gotten around to it. I’ve started a fan page for my book, Drasmyr, on Facebook. You can find it at: http://www.facebook.com/Drasmyr. The fan page will contain cool things related to the book; specifically, I’ll be periodically listing excerpts, a cool quote or two, and even the occasional vampire poll. I’m still learning the ropes on the Facebook Fan Page, so it may take a while before things start going smoothly, but I’m a quick learner.
Long and Short Reviews Haunting Halloween Blogfest: “A Toast to Dragons” will be participating in a Halloween Blogfest at Long and Short Reviews (you may remember them; they reviewed my book, Drasmyr, here) this year. I wrote a short short story (under 1000 words) entitled “A Woman Scorned,” which will be posted on the LASR website on 11/1 at 10 a.m. (I will post a link that day). In the meantime, from 10/29/12 – 11/2/12 dozens of authors in all genres will be blogging at Long and Short Reviews!Every post will be offering a prize… all you have to do is leave a comment on the guest blog in question. One comment will be chosen at random at every blog to win — it might be you! So don your best costume and come party with us at the Halloween Blogfest. Note: For “A Woman Scorned,” the prize will be awarded to a commenter at the guest blog at the LASR site, NOT the normal biweekly blog at “A Toast to Dragons” which is due out the same day. For more information on the Blogfest go here: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/promo.htm.
The prize “A Toast to Dragons” is offering for one lucky commenter on “A Woman Scorned” is a set of metal miniatures; specifically, a pair of vampire counts and a pair of vampire slayers from the Classic Vampire Wars line by West Wind Productions Gothic Horror.
This past Friday I went to see the children’s movie “Frankenweenie.” “Frankenweenie” is the latest cinematic effort by Tim Burton and is kind of a mix of science fiction and fantasy. As such, it comes complete with the dark, somber ambience Burton has developed a reputation for, though, not so horribly dark and terrifying that it would frighten children. It’s a well-developed film with an engaging storyline and fun characters. Perfect for a Halloween outing.
At the center of the story is the young Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist-in-training attending Junior High or so (I guess that makes him about 13 years old). He’s something of an introvert whose only true friend is his pet dog, Sparky. His parents, however, want him to be more sociable and get him involved in a baseball team. This, however, leads to tragedy: At one of Victor’s games there is a horrible accident and Sparky is killed. Victor is depressed for a long time until he gets the idea—inspired by his science class at school—to try to bring his dog back to life. He succeeds, but is unable to keep that success a secret, and the resulting chaos that breaks loose is enough to make your head spin. But it is great fun to watch, as a whole bevy of monster pets break loose and wreak havoc on the small town Victor Frankenstein calls home.
Overall, I found this movie entertaining and worth watching. It is typical Tim Burton: dark and gloomy, but like I said, not so much it’ll scar children. At least, I don’t think so. I do, however, have several complaints about the movie. The first is so minor I’m not even sure I want to complain about it. Basically, a certain young girl in the film performs divination via cat poo. If her cat poos out the first letter in your name in his litter box that means something “big” is going to happen to you. I just wonder if the only way to entertain children is to act childish ourselves. I mean, really? Cat poo? Must we? My next complaint concerns the wrap up of the film at the end (Spoiler Alert). The once-dead dog, Sparky, is killed again at the end of the movie and, with the blessings of the parents, Victor Frankenstein brings the animal back to life yet again. I know kid’s movies are supposed to have “happy endings,” but I’m not sure it is a good idea to implant in them the notion that bringing their pet back to life is the way to go. They (the film-makers) had an opportunity to let the animal go and let him rest in peace, but they brought him back again. Not sure that was a good idea. My final complaint concerns some of the kid’s science experiments in the film and this is, by far, my most significant complaint. There was a lot of manipulating of electricity throughout the film, an unsuccessful attempt to fly off a housetop, and other experiments of questionable safety being performed by young teen-agers for the movie’s audience of children. Maybe I’m being over-protective, but I don’t think that was very wise to include in the movie. Do we really want someone’s kid to think it’s a good idea to fly a kite during a lightning storm? Anyway, you can see where I’m going. I don’t know how Tim Burton could have made the movie without these things, but I’ve noticed in a lot of the children’s movies of recent years that the writers tend to forget who their primary audience is.
Still, it was a good movie and I enjoyed it. I’ll give it four stars.
Today I’m doing a bit extra (this is the third post today—make sure you check out the others). As part of their Scary October series, we’re running a promotion at the Mywithershins blog. Basically, Mywithershins is running a series of posts based on frightful October—all things related to vampires, zombies, witches, and what have you. We’ve posted a blurb and an excerpt from my novel Drasmyr at the blog. So make sure you check out Mywithershins and show them your support.
I saw the kid’s movie “ParaNorman” the other day and found it enjoyable, although I have a few caveats. A few months back I came upon a blog written by a Christian woman complaining about the upcoming children movies that support necromancy, something viewed as very sinful by the typical Christian (actually, I think most modern Christians probably don’t think it is even possible, so being ‘sinful’ is moot). ParaNorman was one of the movies referenced in the blog (another was Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie). Anyway, if you want to take that route with ParaNorman it is open to that criticism–but, then, so are most fantasy movies/books (including my own Drasmyr). Personally, I think that’s going a bit too far; the movie was intended as a silly adventure with a supernatural theme; something fit for Halloween consumption. And as a writer of fantasy myself and a long-time AD&D player, I generally regard magic use as an interesting use of one’s imagination and generally harmless. Still, I can see how the movie could be construed as supportive of witchcraft, sorcery, and similar themes. And it is geared towards young children. So, you’ll have to make up your own mind there. Like I said, it didn’t bother me, but others might be offended.
The main character is a young boy with the unusual ability of being able to see and speak with the dead. He is well-known for having conversations with the many ghosts he finds around him. And he is widely regarded as an outcast and an oddity by the people in his town. Naturally, it falls upon him to save the town from the evil of a three-hundred-year-old witch’s curse. The trial and nature of the curse, and the identity of the witch are all part of the mystery of the story, so I won’t spoil it here. Let’s just say the witch is justly angry for her execution and it falls to Norman to resolve the matter. To assist him, he has a best friend (whose name I forget… was it “Neil?”), and a few other compatriots who, at least initially, are less well-intentioned toward him. The story is basically a typical transformation of outcast to hero that seems so popular these days. I thought the climactic confrontation at the end was a bit overdone and drawn-out, but other than that the story held together well.
I do have two more caveats regarding the film. Near the beginning, there is an obviously ill man (Norman’s uncle) who, at one point, takes a handful of pills and tosses them in his mouth. I’m sure they were intended to treat his illness(es), but the casual way in which it was done did raise my eyebrows. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but I wish they had taken a little more care in presenting the medicine. The last caveat: towards the end of the movie, one of the male minor characters reveals he’s gay by saying “You should meet my boyfriend.” It’s done casually, in an offhand, but blatant way. Homosexuality is something of a divisive issue, so I don’t think it really belongs in a children’s movie. Some people might be offended by it, others not. In the end, I think particularly devout religious people (of the Christian persuasion, probably Muslim as well… not sure of the others) have ample opportunity to be offended by this movie. Personally, I was not; I enjoyed it, though I thought the gay bit was a hair inappropriate.
Overall, I’ll give “ParaNorman” three and a half stars out of five.