Archive for Frankenstein

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: The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1980)

Posted in cartoons, Dracula, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, monsters, TV shows, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2011 by Paxton

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Here we are on Day 4 of Dracula TV week. Today we are looking at one of my favorite Halloween cartoon specials.  Today we are looking at the special, The Flintstones Meet Rockula & Frankenstone.

Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone VHS

The special was produced in 1979 but aired for the first time in Oct 1980. It featured the voices of Henry Corden as Fred, Mel Blanc as Barney, Ted Cassidy (Lurch from Adams Family) as Frankenstone and John Stephenson as Count Rockula.

The special starts with the Flintstones and Rubbles visiting the game show Make a Deal or Don’t. They win a trip to Rocksylvania to stay the weekend in Castle Rockula.

Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone titles

The ancient Castle Rockula has been turned in to a fancy hotel. The Flintstones and Rubbles attend a Halloween party dressed as Rockula and Frankenstone. They accidentally discover a trap door into a secret laboratory underneath the castle. While in this laboratory, a random bolt of lightning awakens the real Frankenstone monster. The real monster goes into another secret passage and awakens the real Count Rockula who has been asleep for the last 500 years.

Flintstones and Rubbles Rockula and Frankenstone

Count Rockula immediately orders everyone out of the castle. While herding everyone out the doors, he meets Wilma, mistakes her for his bride, then, when he realizes his error, he decides to take her as his bride anyway even if it means killing Fred.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2011: Dell Dracula comics (1966)

Posted in comic books, Dracula, Frankenstein, monsters, nostalgia, pop culture, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2011 by Paxton

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Continuing our Halloween AWESOME-tober-fest, this week we are looking at comics featuring Dracula. Today is one part of a group of comics by Dell that re-imagines the Universal Monsters as super heroes.

Dell Dracula 01 I have previously looked at the other Dell Monster comics for Halloween. Dell picked up the Universal Monster license in the early 60s and tried to reboot the monsters into super heroes.  It was as gloriously insane as you think it was.  I talked a little bit about the Dell Frankenstein comic during AWESOME-tober-fest 2009. I hope to someday revisit that comic for a more in depth review. Next I took a long look at the Dell Werewolf comic for AWESOME-tober-fest 2010.  While strangely awesome and weird, the Werewolf comic had the best plot so far.  They next turned their eyes toward Dracula.  And the above comic laden with ridiculous weirdness was the result.  Check out that goddam costume.  Did he design it in the dark?

The Dracula series only lasted three issue.  Here are issues #3 and #4.

Dell Dracula 03 Dell Dracula 04

The comics are pretty zany. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more entertaining bits.

Dracula origin 1 Dracula origin 2
Here’s the new Dracula’s origin. This guy, Dr Dracula is trying to clear his family name since it’s been smeared by legend. He is trying to cure brain damage with bats…somehow.  He creates a serum, pronounces it a success and then proceeds to let go all of his test bats because his work is done (without testing it?).  Then one of the bats knocks over the serum and it pours into Dracula’s celebratory drink…without him knowing it (of course!).  The serum inexplicably gives Dracula the ability to transform into a bat which, if you think about it as a super power, kinda sucks.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2011: A Story of Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein book and record set (1975)

Posted in Dracula, Frankenstein, monsters, nostalgia, pop culture, vampires, werewolf, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by Paxton

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Welcome to AWESOME-tober-fest 2011.  For those that don’t know, this is my yearly Halloween celebration.  I do it in conjunction with the Countdown to Halloween Blogathon.  Each week I’ll be looking at comics, movies, TV shows and books that feature monsters.  This year’s theme is Dracula/vampires, so the stuff will all feature Dracula or vampires.

Anyway, we begin the celebrations with comic book week. This week I’ll look at a bunch of comic books and comic book stories that featured the character of Dracula. Today, I’ll start with a different type of comic book. A Power Records book and record set. Dracula book and record This is the book and record set of A Story of Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein.  It was released in 1975 and features awesome artwork by Neal Adams.  Somewhat of a long and awkward title, isn’t it?  I thought this book would be appropriate to look at today because it features the monsters in reverse order of how they appeared in the last three years of AWESOME-tober-fest.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2011 – Dracula/vampires (NOW)
AWESOME-tober-fest 2010 – Wolf Man/werewolves
AWESOME-tober-fest 2009 – Frankenstein’s monster

The book contained one long story incorporating all three monsters.

Frankenstein 01
The story starts as a man and woman are discovered in the woods by a blonde Dracula with a Ted Nugent mustache.  The guy is revealed to be Vincent, the nephew of Baron von Frankenstein and the girl his fiance, Ericka.  He survived the murder of his uncle by villagers (saving the knowledge of his uncle’s work) and is being chased by those very same villagers.  Dracula offers his castle as refuge.  But as soon as the couple settle into the castle, Dracula takes Ericka hostage and forces Frankenstein to create a slave using his uncle’s lab equipment.  Frankenstein builds the monster and imbues it with life.  However the monster goes apesh*t and tosses the fiance out the window (I’m not kidding).  Frankenstein begs Dracula to save her and so he calls The Werewolf.

The Werewolf
The werewolf attacks Ericka, then takes her to a gypsy camp run by Maleva and her son Bela (the two gypsies from the original Universal Wolf Man movie).  Ericka discovers a pentagram on her hand and remembers a werewolf poem, “Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night may be become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the moon is shining bright”.  Yes, apparently Ericka has been turned to a werewolf.  Of course, at that moment, the full moon comes out from behind some clouds and Ericka turns into a wolf and engages in a battle with another giant werewolf.  Bela shoots the other giant wolf and it turns back into Maleva.  As a wolf, Ericka flees and somehow finds her way back to the Castle Dracula.

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Billy the Kid Week 2011: Review of Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities

Posted in Billy the Kid, comic books, Frankenstein, monsters, reviews with tags , , , , , on July 11, 2011 by Paxton

Billy the Kid Week

Our last Billy the Kid Week was last August when I celebrated the 22nd birthday of the movie Young Guns.  Now, nearly a year later, it’s time for another Billy the Kid Week.  This time, I am celebrating the 130th anniversary of Billy the Kid’s death.  It happened this week back in 1881.  This week, I’ll be reviewing various fiction/non-fiction books featuring Billy the Kid.

For today, I’m beginning Billy the Kid week with a review of the comic book mini-series, Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities.  It was released in 2005 by Dark Horse Comics.

Billy the Kids Old Timey Oddities

The comic is written by Eric Powell who also writes another popular comic, The Goon.  Like most of the Billy fiction I’ll read this week, this comic book assumes that Billy was not killed by Pat Garrett back in 1881.  That he somehow escaped. The comic starts off with a drawing of what looks like an old newspaper article talking about the chase, capture and killing of Billy the Kid (left).  At the top of the article is an image that homages an old dime novel woodcut from 1881 called “Killing the Kid” (right). I thought, historically, that was a nice touch.

billy the kids death killing the kid woodcut

Initially, we see Billy riding a train.  A man named Bill Sproule approaches Billy while on the train.  Of course Billy is suspicious, but Sproule offers Billy a job with his traveling circus, Bill Sproule’s Biological Curiosities.  Billy is reluctant at first, but decides to go with Mr Sproule to see what the job entails.

So, Billy goes to work for another guy’s traveling freak show.  Now, I think it’s weird that the title of the book is Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities.  Like Billy owns the freak show.  That’s actually what I expected.  I guess not.  *shrugs*  Let’s press on, shall we?

The traveling show is populated by a bunch of awesomely freaky characters like a tattooed lady who’s tattoos constantly change to predict the future and a wolf man.  Billy is, of course, stubborn and immature.  He manages to alienate all the “freaks” immediately after meeting them.  Then continues to use “freak” slurs when describing them.  At first, it’s irritating.  Billy just seems like a mean douche.  But as the story goes on, Billy’s edge softens a bit and he helps the group when they get in trouble.

And they do get in trouble.  The group goes looking for a jewel called The Golem’s Heart.  It is owned by none other than Dr Victor Frankenstein.  So the group goes after it and immediately becomes trapped by the mad doctor.  The doctor has been performing ghastly medical experiments on the people in the surrounding town.  He plans on using the freaks in some of these experiments.

Dr Frankenstein comic Dr Frankenstein movie

I love the depiction of Victor Frankenstein in this book (pic on left).  It’s eerily close to Peter Cushing, who portrayed Victor Frankenstein in a bunch of movies for Hammer Films in the ’70s (pic on right).  Just a really nice touch by the artist.

So Victor traps all of the group in his castle and plans to do horrible, horrible experiments on them.  Billy becomes locked in a chest but escapes and helps the group overcome and defeat Frankenstein.  They manage to turn Frankenstein’s mutated creations back on him.

It’s a pretty good book.  I enjoyed the majority of it and the artwork is perfect for the story.  It reminds me of some of the early EC work in Vault of Horror or Tales from the Crypt.  Very cool.  I can honestly recommend it to people wanting a nice, quick, fun read.

Billy the Kids Old Timey Oddities v2
(Via Dark Horse.com)

Last year, Dark Horse released a sequel called Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London (that’s a lot of title to type).  However, I was not able to track down a copy to read, but it looks pretty awesome.  It looks like a Billy the Kid and freaks vs Jack the Ripper.  When I finally get a copy, I’ll put up a review.  It seems Powell is including his other comic creation, The Goon, as a backup feature to this second volume of Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities.  I look forward to reading this.

Stay tuned, this week on the Cavalcade is full of Billy the Kid as we lead up to the 130th anniversary of the outlaw’s death on Thursday.