Advertisements

Tag Archive: Dracula


Review by C.J. Bunce

For a generation of film fans, the words “Hammer Horror” are synonymous with the first color horror movies and studio stars Peter Cushing and David Prowse, who would go on to find real fame in Star Wars, and Christopher Lee, who would be the go-to guy in the 21st century for dark, imposing characters in Peter Jackson’s J.R.R. Tolkien movies, James Bond, the Star Wars prequels, and much more.  Before these blockbusters, these British thespians made movies for a London film company called Hammer Film Productions, and they were instantly recognized as Baron Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster, and Count Dracula.  These aren’t the famous monsters of Universal Studios fame, but thanks to Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures’ distribution, their take on these classic horror characters gained their own international fan following.  In time for Halloween, Telos Publishing has released a new information-filled guide for fans of Hammer’s horror legacy, writer Alistair Hughes’s Infogothic: An Unauthorised Graphic Guide to Hammer Horror.

As for the “graphic” in the title, it’s a bit of a play on words–think infographics, charts, diagrams, illustrations, and maps connecting the often intertwined fantasy world inside the Hammer films.  The titles to the studio’s Dracula and Frankenstein sequels provide an idea of the absurdity film goers were in for, with a list that makes the Planet of the Apes pile of sequels seem pretty short: The Brides of Dracula, Scars of Dracula, Kali–Devil Bride of Dracula, Dracula AD 1972, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Dracula Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Horror of Frankenstein, The Evil of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Frankenstein Created Woman, and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.  Hammer also made monster movies set much earlier than the 19th century.  The most famous starred Raquel Welch in Ray Harryhausen’s One Million Years BC and Ursula Andress in She.  Steven Spielberg would later provide a nod to Hammer films at the end of Jurassic Park.  The words on the banner falling in the final sequence with the T-Rex was an homage to the Hammer film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. 

One diagram in Infogothic recounts the 30 most famous actors to portray Dracula.  In others Hughes pieces together family trees based on information from the films for the Van Helsings and the Frankensteins.  A chart shows the number of adaptations of Frankenstein movies by decade (the 1970s wins with nine, and there has been 51 in all so far as we bask in the character’s 200th year).  Need to locate the story locations for each of the Hammer monster movies?  Hughes provides maps for that, too.  And Frankenstein’s monster and the Count aren’t the only monsters Hammer featured–the book includes interconnections of the several mummy movies and other creature features Hammer produced (The Gorgon, The Reptile, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, The Plague of the Zombies, The Abominable Snowman).  Hughes also includes details of lesser known and unproduced films throughout his book.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s just what fans of DC Comics have been begging for.  Finally, a Batman portrayal worthy of Adam West and Michael Keaton.  The complete membership of the classic Justice League as fun as we all remember them from the comic books.  Homages to famous artists adapted to the big screen from the best of DC Comics, like cover artist Jock, plus throwbacks to the campy series of the 1960s.  And more homages to the musical scores from the best of the DC Comics cinematic adaptations of the past, including callbacks to Danny Elfman’s score to the 1989 Batman movie and John Williams’ Superman theme.

What was your favorite DC Comics adaptation before 2017?  How far back do you go?  Most superhero movie fans seem to agree upon the original Superman starring Christopher Reeve as the modern rebirth of the superhero film, and count Reeve among the best embodiments of a superhero on film.  But after Reeve, fans begin to disagree as movies based on DC Comics are concerned, and usually turn to the CW Network television series for the next best DC iterations of comic book adaptations.

So when all of it finally comes together, it finally comes together in 2017, after the likes of misfires including Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, we finally have an exciting and worthy DC Comics outing that is fun for the entire family, and best of all, it is all heart.

And as a bonus, it features villains worthy of a movie from the DCU.  Sure, you might expect a pantheon of villains like The Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Egghead, Scarecrow, Bane, Clayface, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Man-Bat, Captain Boomerang, Crazy Quilt, Eraser, Polka Dot Man, Mime, Tarantula, King Tut, Orca, Dr. Phosphorus, Killer Moth, Magpie, March Hare, Frank Miller’s Mutant Leader, Dr. Hugo Strange, Zodiac Master, Gentleman Ghost, Clock King, Red Hood, The Kabuki Twins, Calendar Man, Kite Man, Catman, Calculator, Zebra-Man, and Condiment King.  But all in one movie?  And battling some of fiction’s other greatest supervillains, like Dracula and the other Universal Monsters, The Daleks, Lord Voldemort, Jaws, King Kong, Gremlins, velociraptors, the Wicked Witch of the West, Agent Smith from The Matrix, and Sauron?  Wait–was Darth Vader tied up in some other project?

Continue reading

New metallic Alien figure   New Ripley figure Funko

Entertainment Earth is now shipping pretty much all of its gigantic, multi-franchise line of action figures inspired by the Kenner line of Star Wars action figures from the 1970s.  Many aren’t aware that Ridley Scott’s Alien had its own line of figures by Kenner, developed and ready to produce until someone realized they were marketing toys to kids based on an R-rated movie most wouldn’t get to see.  Those figures were finally remade by Funko toys and discussed here at borg.com last November.

The success of the Alien line prompted figures from nearly every great sci-fi and horror franchise you can think of except Star Wars:  Firefly, Back to the Future, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Predator, Escape from New York, and Terminator.  Blockbuster horror films including Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and even the cult classic The Crow.  And classic monster films including Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, and The Wolfman.  We previewed all of them here.and here and here.  A similar but unrelated toy line is producing its own line of Six Million Dollar Man and The Twilight Zone figures, too.

Facehugger figure   Kane chestburst figure

Make no mistake, these figures aren’t for the discerning high-end collector of photo-real sculpts.  These figures celebrate all things retro in their dated styling and five-points of articulation in a world of figures made today with far more movement and features.

Continue reading

i-frankenstein moving poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

I, Frankenstein is a fantasy-horror motion picture released earlier this year, based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux.  Starring Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Bill Nighy (Underworld, Shawn of the Dead, State of Play), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings), and Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher), all signs pointed to the possibility that the film could be minimally watchable.  But retellings of classic monster stories are tough to get right.  In our ongoing pursuit at borg.com to identify the best of Blu-ray 3D home video we screened I, Frankenstein in Blu-ray 3D.  Despite having some pretty stellar 3D special effects, the film unfortunately can’t overcome its thin effort to retell the Frankenstein story.

With creators of Underworld behind the scenes, it’s no wonder this film has the look of that franchise.  It also shares the same dark vibe as the respectable and fun monster mash-up Van Helsing.  But its clunky twist on Frankenstein’s monster isn’t saved by the serious acting of lead Aaron Eckhart, or the quality bad guy villainy portrayed by Bill Nighy.

Adam Frankenstein

Good monster retellings?  Try Young Frankenstein (1974), Phantom of the Opera (2004), Van Helsing (2004), the American Werewolf series, Wolf (1994), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), The Mummy (1999), and the short-lived Dracula (2013) TV series.  These all show how retellings of classic monster stories can be done right.

Nicely done action sequences and fiery explosions?  It’s got ’em.  Beautifully-rendered, in-your-face 3D?  It’s got that, too.  And if you only want to watch special effects with the backdrop of a classic, then this may be something for one of those moments.

But I, Frankenstein is about a legion of gargoyles and their gargoyle queen (Miranda Otto) who are in a battle with demons under the control of a demon prince played by Nighy, posing as a modern-day biotech businessman.  Nighy’s character wants Dr. Frankenstein’s journal, to be able to resurrect soulless bodies for demons in hell to fill.  Otto’s character attempts to recruit Frankenstein (the monster has taken his creator’s name) to her cause, even giving him the rather silly name of Adam (which nobody else ever uses). Hundreds of years after their initial meeting, Frankenstein and the gargoyle queen reunite in the present day (still wearing the same costumes).

Huh? 

Continue reading

New Flash supersuit If you watched last night’s season finale of Arrow on the CW Network, you already know how well superhero stories can be translated to television.  Arrow will likely go down as the best adaptation of a comic book property to hit the small screen.  Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tried to find the same spark but unfortunately couldn’t make it happen.  After all, superhero series need superheroes at least once in a while.

The ABC Network released 12 previews for new Fall shows this week, including many that seem likely not to make it very far, including Selfie, starring Karen Gillan and John Cho.  With these two mega-genre stars, someone should make a series that is more than a fluffy comedy.  Cho has already shown through a variety of TV appearances, such as in Sleepy Hollow last year, that he has plenty of range beyond his movie roles.  Gillan needs to move beyond the role of model, and we think Guardians of the Galaxy will give fans more of what they are after.

Here’s the Selfie preview, but you’ve been warned: ABC did not yet release a preview yet for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Agent Carter featuring Hayley Atwell’s character from Captain America: The First Avenger as she builds S.H.I.E.L.D. in the aftermath of World War II.

But the NBC Network did release this preview of another DC Comics series, Constantine, to replace the unfortunately cancelled Dracula (which featured Arrow’s Huntress actress Jessica De Gouw and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) for the Friday night line-up with Grimm: Continue reading

Sherlock season 3 promo

Happy New Year!!!

So what do we do now?  How about a look at the start dates for our favorite TV shows?  Many are already in progress, like Almost Human, Arrow, Dracula, Grimm, Major Crimes, The Michael J. Fox Show, New Girl, and Sleepy Hollow.  Some don’t have new season premiere dates yet, like Bates Motel, Continuum, Doctor Who, Heroes of Cosplay, Mr. Selfridge, and Warehouse 13.

The most anticipated series is very likely the three-episode third season of Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, finally coming back to PBS this month.

The biggest question is whether Haven will get renewed for a fifth season on Syfy.  The end of Season 4 was really getting better and Syfy just can’t leave us with that cliffhanger finale.

Haven - Season 4

Update yours DVRs!  Here’s what we’re going to be watching in 2014 at borg.com:

Almost Human –  Season 1 continues January 6 on Fox

Arrow – Season 2 continues January 15 on CW

Bates Motel – Season 2 begins in March to A&E

Continue reading

Dracula or Selfridge

After its second week in the late Friday time slot following Grimm, NBC’s new Dracula series is off to a very solid start.  It’s incredibly polished for an early first season effort, with lavish sets, beautiful costumes, and an expertly cast group of actors.  Like Fox’s Monday night similarly dark Sleepy Hollow, Dracula is also an interesting update to a classic with an intriguing story and smart dialogue.

Set in NBC series Dracula

The cast of Dracula is mostly fresh faces, yet each actor could be the doppelgänger for well-known actors.  Dracula himself, known to his contemporaries in the series as Alexander Grayson, is played appropriately vampirish by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who played King Henry VIII in the romance heavy The Tudors.  Meyers seems to be doing a riff on Jeremy Pivens’ Mr. Selfridge from the popular British series, portraying a Gilded Age businessman from America bringing his ingenuity to the Old World.  Meyers also has the determination and charisma–and the same general appearance–of Josh Henderson’s John Ross Ewing from TNT’s Dallas series.  Meyers is good, very good in fact, as his Dracula only recently back from the dead, fawning after a woman who looks exactly like his wife, murdered ages ago by the Order of the Dragon.

Continue reading

Johnny Alucard banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

At long last, Johnny Alucard, Kim Newman’s sequel to 1992’s Anno Dracula, 1995’s The Bloody Red Baron, and 1998’s Dracula Cha Cha Cha is now available.  And for fans of Newman’s richly detailed universe, the first Anno Dracula universe tale in 15 years was worth the wait.  It’s a ballad of a kid born with nothing, who has a destiny, and that destiny takes him to conquer America.  And it all happens in a parallel world where Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a biography of an historical figure, and humans and vampires live side-by-side in a universe similar, yet very different, from our own.

Known for its deeply layered world building occupied by well-known fictional and historical characters with jumbled realities, this latest Anno Dracula entry doesn’t let up.  We at borg.com last year named the re-release of Dracula Cha Cha Cha the best read of 2012.  Check out our review here.  That novel followed Newman’s four protagonists as their stories collided with the death of Dracula in the 1950s.  Three women vampires are at the heart of the Anno Dracula universe: Geneviève Dieudonné, a centuries-old French vampire who watched and participated in key historic events in this timeline; Kate Reed–the most accessible of the three–a plucky Irish journalist who carries the reader through many events in Newman’s stories; and Penelope (“Penny”) Churchward, the third wheel who never quite becomes friends with the other “Charles’s Angels”.   The Charles is Charles Beauregard, a British spy all three women had relationships with over the years, and who died in Dracula Cha Cha Cha, around the time of the death of Dracula himself.

This latest installment of Newman’s series picks up with the tale of an up-and-coming vampire legend. Born Ion Popescu, Johnny Alucard was “turned” at the age of 13 in 1944.  But the story begins in 1976 when he ends up as a gofer under Francis Ford Coppola as he is agonizing over the production of, not Apocalypse Now, but his own Dracula film.  Geneviève, Kate, and Penny are back, and they have key roles in Ion’s story as he transforms himself into “Johnny Pop” and ultimately the wealthy Johnny Alucard, elevating himself higher than anyone thought possible.

Continue reading

We haven’t encountered anything like the Mayan prophecy of the world’s end since New Year’s Day 2000 and 2001, the Millenium Bug and Y2K.  The Mayan text the Popul Vuh established that, based on their linear calendar, we live in something called the “fourth world.”  The fourth world will have reached the end of its 13th b’ak’tun (a time frame of about 400 years), or Mayan date 13.0.0.0.0, on December 21, 2012.  Scholars or pseudoscientists (depending on who you believe) suggested that this will coincide with the end of the world (or alternately, the start of some new positive era).  If you haven’t read any of the discussions behind this, it is at a minimum interesting, and at worst, odd and quirky.  I read the Popul Vuh as part of an ancient Latin American history course I took in college and as ancient texts go in is very interesting, and still required reading in colleges around the globe.

So… it’s the perfect time for Dynamite Comics to have a crossover event featuring most of its properties and public domain characters that has as a story element the end of the world coming this December, courtesy of the ancient Mayans.  Called Prophecy, Issue #1 is out and it’s a lot of fun.  So far it is more of what I hoped for with Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the graphic novel mash-up of Allan Quatermain, Dorian Gray, Captain Nemo, Moriarty, Dr. Jekyll, Fu Manchu, Tom Sawyer and others.  Of course, unlike his forced change of DC characters to new made-up creations for his Watchmen series, with the League, Moore used public domain characters and avoided all that.  With Prophecy, writer Ron Marz and artist Walter Geovani use some of these vary same characters plus they add in modern characters like Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Purgatory.  Advance press from Dynamite reveals that the tale will include Pantha, Herbert West the Reanimator, Allan Quatermain, Athena, and Dorian Gray, too.

Issue #1 begins with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson investigating a murder.  The weapon that caused the death was an ancient Mayan dagger from the year 632.  And the dagger has disappeared.  Enter Red Sonja, soon to be the next sacrifice by this ancient people.  She chases her captor through time with the aid of the dagger and to the year 2012, where she encounters Vampirella in the forest, working with Dracula himself.

One excellent two-page spread has Geovani revealing a time travel voyage of Red Sonja, including the Three Musketeers, Edgar Allan Poe, Zorro, the Lone Ranger, Abe Lincoln and a host of others who will hopefully make an appearance in this series.

If you like mash-ups, this one looks to have a lot of territory it can cover, presumably in only the short span of the next 5-6 months that we have left, or, um, before we know one way or the other where December 12, 2012 will fit into Dynamite’s crossover series.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

In the Entertainment Memorabilia auction community, today is day one of the biggest auction weekend in years.  Following up on their second auction of Debbie Reynolds’ collection costumes, props and camera equipment from Hollywood’s Golden Age, Profiles in History pulled out all the stops and has accumulated props and costumes from sci-fi, fantasy, action TV and films, and an entire day devoted to original animation art.  It begins with the Icons of Hollywood Auction today and tomorrow, December 15-16, 2011, and continues Sunday, December 17, 2011, with the Icons of Animation Auction.

As reported here December 6, 2011, one item on the block is a special effects arm used for Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Summers as the original Bionic Woman.  But that just scratches the surface of great stuff available.  And based on recent auctions, there is no global economy problem, as props and costumes are breaking past records.  On eBay recently a Matt Smith Doctor Who costume sold for $75,000.  With a franchise as popular as Star Trek, and as old and with a similar fan following, this kind of price reflects fan loyalty and what really loyal fans are willing to shell out to hold a piece of TV or silver screen magic in their hands.

The auction starts today with original studio marketing photographs of various actors and actresses over the past 100 years, as well as lobby cards, posters and one of a kind costume sketches by the likes of Edith Head and other early designers.  Then lots of scripts and logo art from TV and film credits.  Here are some key items from Day One:

  • Billy Mumy shirt for his role as Will Robinson from Lost in Space, with an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.
  • One of the 1969 Dodge Chargers used as the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.
  • Dalek from a 1985 episode of Doctor Who, estimated at $10,000 to $12,000.
  • Mork from Ork costume from Mork and Mindy, estimated at $40,000 to $60,000

Some key items from Day Two:

  • Bela Lugosi screen-worn cape as Count Dracula from Dracula, estimated at $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.
  • Longbow from The Adventures of Robin Hood, estimated at $15,000 to $20,000.
  • Judy Garland gingham dress as Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz, estimated at $200,000 to $300,000.
  • One of four known pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, estimated at $2,000,000 to $3,000,000.
  • Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz, estimated at $2,000,000 to $3,000,000.

  • A variety of items from The Planet of the Apes and Back to the Future franchises.
  • The DeLorean from Back to the Future III that was at Comic-Con this year, estimated at $400,000 to $600,000.

  • Steve McQueen driving suit from LeMans, estimated at $200,000 to $300,000.
  • Steve McQueen U.S. Navy uniform from The Sand Pebbles, estimated at $30,000 to $50,000.

  • Gene Wilder Willy Wonka hat from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, estimated at $20,000 to $30,000.
  • Sean Connery Marko Ramius Russian naval uniform from The Hunt for Red October, estimated at $6,000 to $8,000.

  • The “Red October” submarine model from The Hunt for Red October, estimated at $20,000 to $30,000.
  • Michael Keaton batsuit from Batman Returns, estimated at $30,000 to $50,000.
  • Endo-skull from Terminator 2, estimated at $12,000 to $15,000.
  • Bruce Campbell Ash costume from Army of Darkness, estimated at $12,000 to $15,000.

  • Peter Weller Robocop costume from Robocop, estimated at $10,000 to $12,000.
  • James Marsden Cyclops costume from X-Men 2, estimated at $30,000 to $50,000.
  • PreCrime stunt jetpack from Minority Report, estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.
  • Bob Newhart Papa Elf costume from Elf, estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.
  • Will Farrell Buddy the Elf costume from Elf, estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.
  • Star Trek Original series wooden hand phaser, estimated at $30,000 to $50,000.
  • Patrick Stewart Captain Jean-Luc Picard tunic from Star Trek: The Next Generation, estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.
  • Jonathan Frakes Commander Will Riker tunic from Star Trek: The Next Generation, estimated at $3,000 to $4,000.

  • Collection of six costumes from bridge crew of Star Trek Voyager, estimated at $15,000 to $20,000.
  • Original NASA Gemini spacesuit, estimated at $150,000 to $250,000.
  • Russian spacesuit worn by first Russian woman to walk in space, estimated at $200,000 to $300,000.

On Day Three, every lot is a masterwork of animation history.  Lots include original art from Little Golden Books like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Smokey the Bear and The Night Before Christmas, Charles Schulz art from The Pumpkin Patch and Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, original work from production studios from Hanna Barbera to Walt Disney.  Major highlights include:

  • The earliest known color cel of Mickey Mouse, estimated at $80,000 to $120,000.
  • Cels of the Queen and Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, estimated between $12,000 and $20,000.

  • Giant pan cel from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, estimated at $80,000 to $120,000.
  • Original Dumbo, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp and Cinderella cels, estimated at $4,000 to $8,000.

  • Several cels from Song of the South.
  • Several stunning cels of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, estimated from $300 to $80,000.

More information is available at the Profiles in History website.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

%d bloggers like this: