Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MOVIE: Byzantium

Another vampire movie to appear recently on Netflix is BYZANTIUM.  In theory this film should be bowed down by he weight of its tired old tropes of first love, coming of age, mother/daughter strife and braided present-and-past storylines.  Yet somehow the quality of the screenplay and acting, and downbeat but atmospheric look of the movie carry it through.

It may help that vampirism gives both the length of time and the stakes to make melodramatic behavior of the leads believable motivations.  Mother vampire seeks a quiet life of transient prostitution to conceal her daughter from an ancient threat she has never fully explained to the girls. Daughter seeks a more refined and respectable lifestyle and yearns to tell someone, perhaps her new quasi-boyfriend, the truth about who she really is.

Both backstory and current conflict come to a crux on a dark pier, where both heroines will be either destroyed or transformed.

See also

Saturday, July 18, 2015

MOVIE The Unwanted (2014)

I started watching this movie on Netflix without having any idea what I was about, and I suspect that is the best way to watch it.  Then the vampire twist part way through, while somewhat foreshadowed, is still rather surprising and pleasantly shocking.

Hannah Fierman is the stand out performer as Laura, the young woman fascinated by the drifter Carmilla (Kristen Orr in an understated performance). William Kat is the least convincing, chewing the scenery as Laura's semi-psychotic father.

The movie works in its own right as a modern gothic, ad is also a retelling (rather loosely) of Carmilla that vampire aficionados will appreciate.  The movie starts rather slow but the narrative and cinematography built towards an evocative and visually compelling ending.

Highly recommended.


Links: IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Leech Women and Monkey Glands

In this 1960 movie a woman discover how to rejuvenate herself by killing men to extract material from their pineal glands.

The idea that dramatic rejuvenation was possible using simple extracts had been quite popular in the 1920s, and this movie represents its last gasp.

A French physician named Serge Voronoff felt that testicles could be transplanted to return youth to men. His experiments included both human and animal subjects. He claimed that grafting young testicles onto older donors not only increased vigor but could combat dementia. The practice of having "monkey glands" implanted in various ways became wildly, if briefly, popular amongst wealthy men.

These efforts were eventually ridiculed and any benefits attributed to the placebo effect. And Voronoff accelerated his downfall by undertaking in creasingly bizarre experiemtns such as trying to ineminte a monkey with human sperm. However, his work did pave the way for more productive transplant surgery and the discovery of testosterone--and he certainly inspired a great deal of speculative fiction.

"The Leech Woman" plays on Voronoffs masculinist focus in a strange way in that the female "leech" must have male donors and meets her downfall when extracting the material she needs from a woman.

See also:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


If The Vampire Project had been the first chapter of a book I would have been very enthusiastic about it. A vampire child I captured and taken to a research center.  There are intriguing hints that her refusal to eat human flesh may have made her special.

However the story just ends without any real resolution, which is disappointing. That said, it is free on Amazon and might be a good way to sample the author's work, although to what purpose I am not sure as she has not other titles on sale.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


This short story collection opens with a vampire tale that is fist deep in the sex/death overtones of vampire myth. The rest of the stories have a similarly perverse and thoughtful tone.  Some are more successful than others but all are worth the time spent reading them. 

Perhaps the simplest of the stories are the ones that will stick with me the longest. The Chipperlee Chair portrays a future where life extending AI is believably banal and imperfect.  Something Better shows how a monstrous mother may not be quite the complete villain she appears. And 'the dog next door' from the title turns a the typical boy-meets-dog stories in a rather twisted direction.

Overall every story displays a genuinely creepy imaginative concept to good advantage. While the characters are often recognizable types they are refreshingly unstereotyped. In fact the implicit misogyny often found in the work of developing horror writers is turned deftly on its head.

Overall I would consider this collection a qualified success, enough to put this author on my "will buy" list when it comes to future works.


Available on Kindle