Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Halloween, holiday on October 31, 2011 by Paxton

This is it. We’ve finally reached Halloween.  I hope you’ve enjoyed AWESOME-tober-fest this year.  I had fun doing it.  I’ve already started planning next year.   The theme is most likely going to be Movie Maniacs.  So imagine articles about Jason, Freddy, Leatherface, Lecter, etc.  That should be fun.

This past weekend I went to Destin, FL to run the McGuires Halloween 10K. I dressed as Capt Kirk and ran it with my wife.

McGuires Halloween 10K

This was my wife’s first 10K and she did great. I ran with her and we did it in 1:09. I’m very proud of her.  It was a lot of fun and that race is great because everyone dresses up and the costumes are so creative.  There were actually 5 dudes dressed as the Fruit of the Loom guys.  And they ran the race.  There were several Spartan soldiers, a Ghostbuster and a kid dressed as ET.  ET actually won the costume contest.  It was so much fun.  I’d like to do it again next year but I was also thinking about doing the Jacksonville Evergreen Pumpkin Run which runs through Evergreen cemetery. So I may do that next year instead of the McGuires run. It’s a 10 mile race as opposed to the McGuires 10K (6 miles).  But it sounds fun running through the cemetary.

Anyway, hope you have a great Halloween everyone. Trick or Treat!

AWESOME-tober-fest 2011: Dracula Dead and Loving It (1995)

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

This is it. The final day of AWESOME-tober-fest. This week I looked at lots of Dracula movies. I usually end these things with “Freaky Friday” in which I’ll review a particularly silly or spoof movie about the subject at hand. I did this with Billy the Kid last year. I also did it with last years’ werewolves AWESOME-tober-fest. So it goes this year. Today I’m going to look at a Mel Brooks spoof of Dracula from 1995.

Dracula Dead and Loving It

That movie was Dracula Dead and Loving It. I originally saw this movie in the theater. I am a HUGE fan of Brooks’ Young Frankenstein which spoofs the first three Universal Frankenstein movies.  So I was excited to see what Brooks had in store for Dracula.  This movie not only spoofs the 1931 Universal Dracula, it also pokes fun at the 1992 Coppola Dracula and the 1958 Hammer Dracula.

So overall, this movie isn’t that funny. It’s more along the lines of a modern spoof movie like Date Movie or Disaster Movie. It’s nowhere near as satisfying as a Young Frankenstein. And it’s tough that Brooks had to live up to Young Frankenstein which is a nearly perfect spoof comedy, but that’s how I watched it.  I enjoyed parts of it, though.  Leslie Nielsen is okay as Count Dracula.  The standout performance in the movie, however, is Peter MacNicol as Renfield.  He really gets his crazy on and models his insanity on the original 1931 Renfield, Dwight Frye.  He is a joy to watch.  It looks like he had so much fun.

Dracula Dead and Loving It 2

Steven Weber as Jonathan Harker isn’t bad either. Unfortunately, however, I’m not a huge fan of Weber’s Wings costar, Amy Yasbeck. I just don’t think she’s funny nor a good actress. She similarly tanked another Brooks movie, Robin Hood Men in Tights, which I thought was funny despite Yasbeck’s performance.  And she was terrible in The Mask.  How does she keep getting work?

This movie is all about the sight gags, so I’m not going to sit here and describe that to you. There are some genuinely funny moments onscreen, unfortunately, they come too infrequently. I really think the problem here is the script. Dracula is ripe for some parody, yet the material seemed thin and less a parody of Dracula and had more situational comedy. Maybe the movie would have been better with better actors. I don’t know.  I just wish it would have worked more as a whole because I really like the idea of this movie. Like I said, these horror movies are ripe for a good parody (not looking at you Scary Movie 2-4).


Mummy_banner Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2011: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Posted in Dracula, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2011 by Paxton

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Continuing the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest. This week I’ve been reviewing all Dracula movies. Monday was Nosferatu from 1922. Tuesday was Universal’s Dracula from 1931. Yesterday I reviewed Horror of Dracula by Hammer Films. Today I’m looking at a movie that threw out these past movie versions of Dracula and went back to the source.  The director wanted to do a new, more faithful adaptation of Stoker’s novel.  That director was Francis Ford Coppola.

Coppola's Dracula

So, in 1992 we got Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Coppola was actually given the script for this adaptation by Wynona Ryder.  She wanted a project for them to do together to help patch things up with the director after she pulled out of The Godfather Part III at the last minute. So Coppola agreed to do this and production began.

Coppola really wanted to create an ethereal almost dreamlike quality to this movie. Originally, he didn’t want to build any sets. He wanted elaborate costumes but very sparse, minimalistic backgrounds. Luckily the studio said no and forced him to do “traditional” sets. I’ve attempted to watch this movie several times since the 90s. But I hadn’t tried for a few years, so I thought this might be the year to give it a try, especially since I just read the original novel and watched a bunch of other Dracula movies.

So, what did I think this time? I didn’t like it. At all. They put Stoker’s name over the title, but that was mainly to differentiate it from Universal’s movie, not because there is that much more devotion to the novel. Coppola has created an overly indulgent arthouse flick about Dracula. It’s surreal and strange and boring. He ties the origins of Dracula to “The Impaler” Vlad III who renounces God after his beloved wife kills herself after mistakenly believing her husband was killed in battle.  Then Dracula stabs a stone cross, which starts to bleed, then he drinks the blood from the cross.  WHAT?!

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2011: Hammer’s Horror of Dracula (1958)

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2011 by Paxton

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Continuing the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest. This week contains all Dracula movies.

Next up is another very famous version of Dracula.  It was by an independent movie production company known for horror movies.  That company was Hammer Films.

Hammer Films

Hammer Films garnered its first hit in 1955 with an adaptation of an old British television serial called The Quartermass Experiment.  During production of a sequel to that movie, Hammer developed a re-imagining of the Frankenstein story.  This was released in 1957 as The Curse of Frankenstein with Christopher Lee as the monster and Peter Cushing as Victor Frankenstein.  I reviewed this movie back in 2009 for my Frankenstein AWESOME-tober-fest.  Curse became a huge hit which led to Hammer wanting a Frankenstein sequel as well as investigating other horror movie icons that could be given the “Hammer treatment”.

Horror of Dracula

After beginning development on The Revenge of Frankenstein, Hammer decided to remake Dracula.  Several scripts were submitted, certain rights agreements had to be signed with Universal Pictures and production began for in 1957 for Hammer’s Dracula.  Hammer released Dracula (titled Horror of Dracula in the States) in 1958.  It starred Christopher Lee as the titular Count Dracula and Peter Cushing as Dr Van Helsing.  The movie would break box office records in the UK and America.

Christopher Lee as Dracula

Many changes were made in the Hammer movie that deviated from both the novel and Unviersal version. Jonathan Harker does visit Dracula in the beginning, but he’s there to kill him, not to help him sign some real estate documents. Dracula appears to only have one bride. Dracula only uses two supernatural powers; hypnotism and travel through fog. Other powers like shapeshifting into bats and wolves is never shown. Also, Dracula is killed by sunlight in this movie (like Nosferatu) but in the novel, the sunlight only removes the Count’s powers.

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Nerd Lunch Episode #8: Nerdy Decor

Posted in Back to the Future, movies, podcast, pop culture, Star Trek, Star Wars with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

The newest episode of the Nerd Lunch podcast is live.  We are joined in the rotating fourth chair this week by friend of Nerd Lunch, Fitz. This week we are talking about Nerd Decor.

We are each given a fictitious $250 and we are to decorate our inner sanctum with nerdy goodness. Check out the nerdy extravagances we all get up to with this fictitious money.

Download it from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

A lot of the stuff we talk about this week is very visual in nature.  I wanted to give some notes to the podcast with images so you can see what I’m talking about in the episode.

Here are some of the things I talked about wanting to put in my Nerd Inner Sanctum.

SW SpEd Trilogy Ingot Poster(Via theforce.net)
Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition “Ingot” Teaser Poster (1996) – I actually have this poster currently hanging up in my house.

SW Trilogy
Star Wars Trilogy Promotional Poster (1990 VHS release) – I love the combination of the three Star Wars poster art for this. In the middle is the famous Star Wars Style A art by Jung. On the left is the Empire Strikes Back Style A art. On the right is the Return of the Jedi Style B art. It was used on a VHS trilogy set in 1990.

Star Wars Trilogy British Quad(Via theforce.net)
Star Wars Trilogy British Quad (1983) – Expensive, but worth it.

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