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Tag Archives: cults

The Second Lives of Count Dracula

27 Oct

October 27, 2016

Lee Halloween

I love Hammer films, especially their Dracula series. Christopher Lee is perfect as The Count. He’s regal but animalistic. He’s noble but savage. He has a commanding presence and the aura of someone that not only will you obey, but someone you would never consider not obeying, even at the cost of your life. As it usually is.

The films are moody and atmospheric and even the lesser films are creepy and gothic. Lee played Dracula in seven of the nine Dracula films Hammer produced. Despite the title, Brides of Dracula did not feature Dracula, and I am not counting 1974’s The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires as Dracula was little more than a cameo.

Dracula is the Lord of the Vampires, king of the undead, and the greatest vampire scourge on Earth, according to the films. He’s been around for generations and shows no sign of stopping. The problem is, that despite the menace he projects and the reputation he possess, he doesn’t do much. Count Dracula spends his time on film on petty and minor pursuits, usually being his own worst enemy, and starting with the second film, unable to survive more than a few days before being destroyed again. He’s a bit of a failure who just gets by on his name and reputation. His best days are long behind him.

Film 1: The Horror of Dracula (1958)
This is an excellent version of the Stoker book, easily my favorite, and much better than the Francis Ford Coppola version. Dracula terrorizes the countryside, making victims of whoever is foolish enough to be unprotected at night, and is feared far and wide.

But look closely and you’ll see that he’s a hermit who never leaves his castle. Yes, he feeds at night, but returns alone. He has three vampire “brides,” but shows very little interest in creating more vampires. He lives alone and stays alone. Coffin, kill, coffin. Professor Van Helsing calls him a worldwide menace who could use his powers to take over the world, but he shows no inclination to do so. Yes, he is the scourge of Transylvania, but he’s really just a local menace, and if he didn’t need fresh blood he’s probably just stay in his empty castle all the time. He has books and other diversions in his home but shows no signs of using them. Even his move to London is out of laziness- the city is more crowded and victims will be easier to find.

dracula_prince_of_darkness_1968Film 2: Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
It has been 10 years since Dracula has been destroyed but the local villagers still live in fear. They won’t even go to church since the shadow of Dracula’s castle falls on it.

Dracula is resurrected by a previously unseen servant. He kills a traveler and mixes his blood with the Count’s ashes, bringing him back from the dead. After a ten year absence, Dracula feeds on another traveler, then instead of resuming his haunts decides to be petty and stalk the remaining travelers who escaped him. After failing to do much of anything, and failing at killing the travelers, Dracula is again destroyed (trapped under ice in running water) after only a day.

Film 3: Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
After a year entombed, Dracula is freed from the ice when blood from a priest’s wound seeps through a crack in the ice and touches his lips. Dracula returns to his castle and finds that a large cross has been placed over the doors. Instead of simply having his hypnotized servant remove the cross and return to his old ways, he spends the majority of the film hiding in the back room of an old bakery plotting the death of a young barmaid, niece of the Monsignor who placed the cross. After another day, maybe two, he is impaled on the giant cross.

At this point in the film series, Dracula has been resurrected twice, spent his time on petty and pointless revenge, and “lived” for a total of no more than three days since the end of the first film. He’s spent time hiding in a wagon outside a monastery and in a dirty basement room instead of his castle.

poster-dracula-has-risen-from-the-grave-teaser

Film 4: Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
At some point, possibly weeks after the last film, Dracula is brought back by a satanic ritual and immediately vows to kill the people who killed the man who resurrected him, despite not knowing the man. Again, he shows no interest in returning to his castle and instead his petty desire for revenge, which frankly should be beneath him, directly leads to his being turned back to dust at film’s end.

Film 5: Scars of Dracula (1970)
After an undetermined amount of time, Dracula returns from the dead when a bat regurgitates blood into his ashes, which have been inexplicably returned to his castle since the last film.

This film breaks the pattern of the last films and is closer to the first. Dracula has servants, creates more vampire brides, and, most tellingly, slaughters an entire village. This is the Dracula that had only been hinted at in the previous films. This Dracula is nearly invincible and no human agency can stop him. He is only destroyed when he is hit by a bolt of lightning.

Unfortunately, Hammer decided to move the franchise into modern times, taking the Count totally out of his Gothic element.

Film 6: Dracula AD 1972 (1972)
Film 7: The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
These films take Dracula out his usual setting but surround him with satanic cultists, which finally brings Dracula in line with his description as being an enemy of the world. Dracula takes on new identities, somewhat integrates himself into society, and generally acts more like a cult leader than a monster. However, this being the 1970’s that fits in with the era’s horror mold.

There was one final Dracula film. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, which is mainly a kung-fu film bookended by short Dracula sequences. Why does Dracula move to Asia? Laziness. Things were getting too rough in England for him. So I guess this film was a throwback to the old lazy Dracula in the first movie.

dracula_poster

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What’s up with Japan? (Classic Allen Keyes is MIA Repost)

1 Oct

October 1, 2012

Where is Allen Keyes? Is this any way to start October, with Mr. Keyes MIA? Well, he’s not really MIA, I know exactly where he is. He’s too heavily invested in his fantasy sports league to do a little thing like write a blog. And I can’t blame him, since the season is winding down and the playoffs are about to begin. This is a serious time in the World Cricket Championships.

So I asked Mr. Keyes what I should run and he said to pick something at random. So I did. Luckily it fits his worldview as well as mine.

February 14, 2011

I have always maintained that culturally, Japan is as far away from us as, well, North America is from Japan. To a certain extent I can understand. There is something paradoxical about a culture which so quickly adopted Western garb and certain Western habits while also keeping alive traditional Japanese values. It is not uncommon to see men and women in business attire mixing with people in kimonos and robes at the local marketplace. However, it is hard to give them any kind of a pass when I read things like this:

I see Japanese people in masks around New York too but I simply chalked it up to fear of the bird flu. Turns out I was wrong. To say I don’t get it is to grossly understate it. I shouldn’t be surprised though. Compared to America, huge number of teenagers (and not-so-teenagers) spend entire days and weeks online in cyber-worlds that are more important to them than life itself. It isn’t uncommon to see young Japanese kids styling their hair to emulate their favorite manga or anime characters. OK, so maybe people over here wear Superman t-shirts and get Batman tattoos, but have you ever seen whole age groups dyeing their skin green like the Hulk?

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m making broad, unsubstantiated generalizations.

No I’m not.

Of course, this comes straight out of Japan.

Yeah, strapping yourself into a harness which electrically pulsates will really add “a human-like level” to online conversations. I wonder what the electric chair would add? More to the point, how long before this gets adapted for porn?

What is happening to human to human interaction when people think that a shirt which squeezes you while looking at your mother on a computer screen is the equivalent of a good night hug from your mom before you go to bed?

“For a while technology has been driving people apart, locking them in front of computer screens. Now we hope to use it to bring them together.”

No. All this new technology does is make it easier to be apart! Nothing can compare to another person’s touch, a parent’s embrace. Perhaps what we need is a device that kicks people off their computers so they can spend time with their families and get some genuine human interaction.

Taking this to the logical extreme, once this is perfected, you can take the human out of the equation completely. Once a computer screen and a hug shirt can mimic the human experience, how long until they can be programmed to do it with no person at the other end? Parents can program their computers to play goodnight messages, hug their kids, even tuck them in without all the hassle of actually doing it or even thinking about it. Kids are such a bother.

So why have them? The next step is not to replace the parent, but to replace the child. Why have a real child that poops and cries when you can have your computer mimic one? It can hug you, it can give you “a deep immersive experience.” All you would need is one child and millions of users can “interact” with it via these machines hooked up to computers. And it doesn’t even need to be a real child, just a computer program. Remember, this is the country that gave us the Tomagotchi.

Virtual parents and virtual children. The only upside is that with virtual sex, these losers will die out without ever procreating and maybe this whole stupid idea will become extinct.

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