Well I bet the one or two of you who actually care about me are wondering, what the fuck happened to Vern. Where is his column. Why is he late. Did that Jet Li movie really make him so sad. What a puss.
The truth is I have been doing alot of soul searching, alot of introspective type work, alot of thinking, and all that type of garbage. You might say I am on a journey to find myself, or I am on an exploration of my past, or I am depressed, however in my opinion all of those things sound kind of fruity.
Whatever you want to call it, watching My Father Is a Hero really made me sad, especially when I found out this is the same picture the motherfuckers at Dimension or whoever have released as The Enforcer. The picture on the front shows Jet kicking a dude and although his son, Little Vern, is mentioned on the back, they really make it sound like he’s not in it that much. And I’ll tell you what folks that made a motherfucker even sadder to see my fellow americans pulling this kind of garbage on Jet and Little Vern.
Plus, what in fuck’s name does The Enforcer mean? It doesn’t make any damn sense. And I am afraid in this case I’m gonna have to assume whoever is responsible is retards and not dadaists.
It just hasn’t been a good couple a weeks for ol’ Vern. For one thing I finally decided to take my stand and dump the reel.com banners. These fuckers have been jerkin my dick around for more than half a year now. I e-mailed them probaly ten times tellin them that not a single cent had shown up on the reports for their affiliate program. Every time they explained that they were gettin to the bottom of it. As a positive individual I was willing to give them a second, third, fourth and tenth chance. Then I finally gave up, took off the banners, and the next day heard that the fuckers are going out of business. So not only will I not get my money, not only will I not be able to take away business from them, I also will not be able to buy my dvds at affordable prices. Shit. Teach me to be passive.
So you see here I am thinking about my past and my pop and how much I am like him and how much I don’t want to be like him. But he has passed it on, he has given me the curse and it is something I will always try to escape and never be able to. And I think about my present here as the outcast of the online film critic community. Even some of my buds aren’t asnwering my e-mails anymore. I am alot older and I represent a different lifestyle, I am not of this time or place. Sometimes I feel like I am up in my castle by myself, shunned by the world, wanting to strike out at them. Sometimes a motherfucker feels a little like Dracula.
And that being the case, the fact is sometimes there comes a time in a man’s life when a man has to watch 11 Dracula movies in a row. I am talking about Dracula pictures such as Universal’s Dracula and Dracula in Spanish and Frank Langella’s Dracula 1979. Or Hammer’s Dracula – Prince of Darkness and Satanic Rites of Dracula. As well as the Draculas the German’s have to offer, such as F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu and Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu and Blood of Dracula which stars a German. Hell I am even talking about Mary Shelly’s Dracula starring Gary Oldman. And others.
There are many differnt types of Draculas and many different styles, and as a positive open minded type individual I feel that I am accepting of most Draculas. It is hard to choose a favorite because they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.
The best looking Dracula in my opinion is the German, Nosferatu. This is a silent film made by the German’s in about 1910 or 1930. In this one his name is Count Orlok and he has longer fingers than most Draculas, but everybody fucking knows he’s supposed to be Dracula. Who do you think you’re fooling, Murnau? Even Bram Stoker’s widow knew it and she sued these krauts for everything they were worth, which was nothing except the prints. So she tried her damndest to have all of the prints destroyed. There was a film preservation movement at the time but, in my opinion, Mrs. Stoker was not a part of it.
Well let’s be honest the filmic devices of this particular piece are a little bit crude. There is very little flow from the editing and what not. The camera had to stay pretty still in those days and I mean jesus the acting can get pretty bad in the silent films, by today’s standards. However, that bald, rat looking bitch of a Dracula is the best ever as far as looks, in my book. This dude is a fucking FREAK. Rat teeth, hairy eyebrows, big shoulders. And his fingers grow longer throughout the movie. Hell I bet he would have some kind of combover if he could figure out a way to do it with the little puffs of hair above his pointy ears. This is probaly the closest to the disgusting Dracula of the book who even has hairy palms, which in that more naive time did not have the same connotation of jerkin off.
Hell I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Nosferatu is one of the top two or three film monsters of all time. And yes, that includes both Predator and X-Man for all you nerds out there.
The other Nosferatu is the one made in the ’70s which is one of the best Draculas ever. It is pretty close to the book in many ways with an extra emphasis on rats. Alot of people think Dracula is only a bat type of monster, however in the book he also controls wolves, rats, snow, and moths. Here Dracula is paralleled to the bubonic plague and when he arrives on a derelict ship he brings a hundred million filthy rats.
This picture is also closely based on the first Nosferatu but to be honest it was nice to have this version of the story told with dialogue and images set to specific music and what not. It is a very beautiful orchestra of a movie and plus this Klaus Klinski freak who plays Dracula, I mean jesus. The guy is weird. He seems like somebody who would end up your roommate, except with fangs. It makes it extra funny to see Jonathan Harker trying to be a polite guest when this guy 1) won’t eat any food 2) acts all freaky when Jonathan cuts his finger and 3) has white skin, bald head and pointy rat ears.
This does not have the same visual invention as the original Nosferatu but shit if it isn’t pretty as all fuck. If you look at the cover for the video or dvd you will see that it is a great illustrated poster, with an exquisitively drawn depiction of the rat freak himself leaning over the prone, pale Isabelle Adjani. This is taken from the climax of the movie, a shot that is as beautiful as any photograph ever taken of an ugly rat faced bastard leaning over a gal, so beautifully lit and composed it might as well be a painting itself. And it is held for what seems like an eternity as the sun rises and destroys the poor sap.
I mean can you imagine being this fucker and hearing that cockadoodle doo and realizing – whoops. What a nightmare for this Nosferatu feller.
Another very excellent Dracula is of course Bela Lugosi. This version came after Nosferatu when the Cinema technicians had already said, “Jesus, we forgot to put sound in movies.” But still it is very much in the tradition of silent films, and there is no music except for the opening. Well, on the DVD you can put on music by Philip Glass if you’re that hard up but for the rest of us, no music.
This one isn’t as creative visually as Nosferatu but it has some of the best atmosphere of any Dracula picture. Tod Browning the director of Freaks did this one and he knows what to do with the fog and what not. In fact this picture INVENTED most of the haunted house/Halloween type cliches – spider webs, bats, fog, moon etc. One cliche that unfortunately did not stick was the armadillo. There is a herd of armadillos running through Dracula’s house in this one and I think that’s creepy as all fuck but apparently the universal unconscious didn’t agree with me because armadillos to this day are overlooked as scary animals.
One thing Universal did that the Germans didn’t have the balls to do was make another version just for Mexicans and Spaniards. This is called Dracula – The Spanish Version and comes on the same DVD as the American version. They filmed this the same night on the same sets but some people consider it better. It has some extra camera movement and what not, the spanish speakers were trying to top the Lugosi version, it was a very competitive spirit. I mean they did a good job, can’t figure out what in fuck’s name they’re talking about being an English speaker, but I guess that’s the point. Anyway there is more fog and more rats, although no armadillos I believe.
Also, always trying to keep up with the Germans, Universal made a ’70s version of Dracula. This one starred Frank Langella as Dracula, Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing and Donald Dr. Loomis Pleasance as Dr. Seward. It was directed by John Badham the director of Saturday Night Fever and I believe some movie about a talking helicopter.
Like the Lugosi version this one was based on a play and not on the book, but it is a little closer to the book in some ways. There is a wolf there for example. However unlike the book this one is known for its sexy Dracula. There is a sex scene that is pretty hot if not held up to the standards of hardcore pornographical works in regards to nudity and penetration.
I never saw this one before and I didn’t think it would be good but actually I kind of liked it, mainly for the acting. Laurence Olivier has a remarkable performance as Dracula’s legendary arch nemesis. I mean he’s no Laurence Olivier but…
No, just kidding. That was only a joke added for humor. I like to put a little humor in my writings in my opinion. It is to lighten things up, or to hide my true feelings of despair, etc.
The main thing I liked was actually Frank Langella. I know now he is mostly famous for messing around with Whoopi Goldberg but he was actually a good actor. Not to sound gay but in this movie he is handsome and he has this quiet, deep voice and accent that are perfect for a mysterious, romantic Dracula. If you’re into that kind of thing.
Speaking of the gay Dracula Udo Kier plays him in Blood For Dracula also known as Andy Warhol’s Dracula although an individual by the name of Paul Morrissey is the true auteur of the piece, according to the auteur theory which states that the director is the auteur or author of a filmic work or movie.
Actually strictly speaking Udo is not gay since he goes after girls and not boys. But still, I think you know what I’m talking about.
This is a pretty good film although only loosely based on previous Draculas. In this version he is weak and dying and has to go to Italy to suck virgin blood or he will die. He and his assistant stay in a rich family’s mansion where he is introduced to each of four daughters hoping to marry one of them. Only one of them is a virgin but they all claim to be, but he really can’t stand impure blood. So what I’m getting at is there are two long scenes of him in the bathroom puking up blood. Which if I remember correctly was not in the novel.
It is some pretty good satire mixed in here I guess, I didn’t catch most of it but they talk about it on the commentary track. One part I thought was funny was the family gardener who is porking most of the daughters. First we see him exploiting and even raping the daughters. He is just a big asswipe in my opinion. But then he’s the only one who figures out that Dracula’s a vampire and tries to stop him, so he’s almost like the Van Helsing in this movie.
When he finds out the virgin blood deal, he is able to use the classic pickup line, “How bout losin that, eh, vuhginity of yahs.”
I also watched two of Hammer’s Christopher Lee Draculas although I fucked up and didn’t get the first one. First I watched Dracula – Prince of Darkness but when it opened with flashbacks from the first Dracula I realized that it was, in fact, the second one. But in this one Dracula has a freaky assistant who kills people and uses the blood to resurrect the dust of Dracula. Then Christopher Lee goes around and bites people. He doesn’t talk in this one but he has a good presence.
The next one I watched was Satanic Rites of Dracula, and I figured okay, this must be the first one then. But I was pretty sure I was wrong when the opening credits are over ’70s London. This one is sort of a cop movie about cops trying to hunt catch Dracula. Actually the main culprits are a satanic cult who pour blood on naked ladies and then have a scientist develop a killer virus for them. Turns out they are doing this because of Dracula. And then Dracula makes some big speeches about it while Peter Cushing as Van Helsing tries to stop him, mainly from releasing the virus but also from making speeches.
What I liked about this one is the satanic cult, because satanic cults were much cooler in the ’70s. They had white man afros and sunglasses and they drive around on motorcycles and what not. They were related to the hippie and biker cultures so they just dressed a lot better. None of this robe shit.
But you know what, the real magic of the Christopher Lee Dracula movies is, in my opinion, Christopher Lee. Unfortunately, he has a pretty small part in most of them. One exception is Dracula – Father and Son.
If you haven’t heard of this one well that is only because you aren’t as cultured as an individual such as myself. It is not made by Hammer, it’s made by Gaumont, the French company that made Fifth Element. This is a comedy where Dracula has a son. Lee gets to do everything – the romance, the scariness, and all in the name of the big C, comedy. The story is about Dracula’s relationship with his son Ferdinand, who is whiny and wimpy and completely lacking in the Dracula family elegance.
Dracula has alot more to do here than in, say, the satanic rights movie. He falls in love, he teaches his son how to drink blood, and they fight over a woman. Not all of the jokes work but most of them do and they are played straight enough that even the bad ones aren’t embarassing. I would recommend this picture in my opinion.
Another Dracula I saw was this fancy ass Frances Ford Coppola version from 1992. This one has Winona Ryder and the dude from The Matrix as well as Anthony Hopkins long before his starmaking role in Titus.
The gimmick is that this one is more faithful to the book, with the exception that in this one Dracula has this whole ridiculous origin story of how he was cursed by God and his fiancee killed herself when he was off fighting the crusades and then Mina is actually the reincarnation of his love and they meet each other and fall in love and there’s this whole romance and then at the end everyone agrees that she should be the one to kill him and she does it save his soul and it’s all romantic. So other than the entire core of the story being 100% different, it is more faithful to the book.
There is some good stylistic experimentation in this one. Very fancy photographical techniques and optical effects such as superimposing evil eyes over the sky, etc. It really is nice to look at and there is good music and Winona Ryder makes a nice Mina, she looks almost like a porcelain doll sometimes.
Anthony Hopkins is the only Van Helsing I’ve seen that attempts to use his crazy side from the book. For example they used the great moment where Lucy has died and Van Helsing tells her husband, with questionable tact, that he would like to cut out her heart and chop off her head. I liked it better in the book because I think he really thought it was a reasonable thing to say, but oh well. The dude is a fucking nut in this movie so I will give the role a thumbs up.
Unfortunately there are a couple other major casting mistakes in this picture. One of them is the dude from The Matrix who really seems like a dumbass and doesn’t have a believable English type accent at all. And I don’t think I am the only one who was disappointed that he didn’t do any kung fu in the picture. Look if you’re going to cast a martial arts star in a movie you are going to have to take advantage of their talents of the audience is going to be disappointed there pal.
But the biggest mistake, the thing that makes this movie not work at all, is the casting of one of the other fairly important characters, Dracula. Gary Oldman is an actor I liked alot in Fifth Element and etc. But here they are trying to make him into a more sympathetic Dracula. They are trying to make him seductive and romantic, which he ain’t. They are trying to make him charismatic enough that you can understand where he is coming from even though he’s killing people. But you can’t. They are trying to make him reasonably likable.
But Frances, this is Gary Oldman!
Let me ask you a question. Have you EVER seen a movie where Gary Oldman is likable? I’m sorry, the man is a brilliant actor, but LIKABLE?
If only the filmmakers had been able to watch Romeo is Bleeding they would have known – don’t even think of casting this fucker as Dracula! A vampire doesn’t have a soul, and Gary Oldman doesn’t have sympathy.
And especially when Mina is screwing the dude and she doesn’t even know him. I mean, this is Gary Oldman. Not Carey Grant or Rudy Ray Moore. It is not believable that this ugly freak could be such a Casanova.
There was one plus side to Gary Oldman’s performance, it was very funny that he tries to imitate Bela Lugosi’s accent. Especially because his Transylvanian accent isn’t that far removed from his Drexl the white pimp accent in True Romance.
Since Gary Oldman, there has only been one other prominent individual to essay the role – I am talking of course about Philip Fondacaro. The Creeps is a little seen picture which tried to revive the 3-D film process during its brief theatrical type run, although this does not survive on video. The story is very much in the classic horror tradition, using a pretty far fetched excuse to resurrect the “cultural archetypes” of Dracula, the wolfman, the mummy and a Frankenstein, all together in the same movie.
This is not one of the better pictures in my opinion. The acting is very bad, the writing and direction is alot worse. On the other hand it is good to see characters such as the Dracula and the wolfman and etc. treated in a modern film without any major shenanigans. For example if anybody saw that so-called Mummy picture that came out last year, I mean jesus. That mummy didn’t even have bandages, it’s obviously not a mummy I don’t know who they think they’re fooling but it’s not me.
Fondacaro is closest to the Lugosi tradition of Dracula, although his accent is Hispanic and he sports a beard and long hair for the role. Still, he treats the role with respect and without the same kind of noodling and hysterics as Oldman I would have to say, even if he’s a little stilted, he makes a better Dracula than Oldman. Sorry bud.
The other monsters in the film don’t get as much to do, they do not talk but only grunt and drool. But again, they do an admirable job with what they have to work with, and are helped by some pretty good makeup work.
One thing I forgot to mention, they are all midgets. The virgin that is being sacrificed escapes halfway through, so the ritual goes wrong and they come out as midgets.
It probaly goes without saying this one is from Full Moon pictures and Charles Band. I don’t know what happened to this dude when he was growing up, but he has made about 700 movies all about little dudes that kill. Everything from Ghoulies to Puppetmasters to Demonic Toys to Subspecies. Although he is not directly responsible for the Leprechaun series, he is their obvious forefather and inspiration.
Anyway I’m not sure this retard will ever make a halfway decent picture, but at least he’s got the right idea by doing a midget Dracula, in my opinion.
You see, there are many different Draculas in this world. There are German Draculas with pointy rat ears, there are gay Draculas, suave Draculas, old Draculas. There are even short Draculas, Blaculas, you name it.
When you really look at it you start to realize that you aren’t the only lonely motherfucker in this world. And at least you have a better chance for social acceptance than this Nosferatu. I mean no offense but that guy is some kind of freak. But I’m sure he is facing all the same problems as the rest of us, I guess.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.