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Apr 062016
 

When it comes to TV shows about cool heroines fighting different evil creatures based on folklore, I usually think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed. Keeping with that style of adventure, aside from Supernatural, is Lost Girl (2010-2016).

The heroine in this show is Bo (Anna Silk). She’s a succubus with the power to absorb the life force from others through their mouths. If Bo is ever hurt badly, she can heal by sexual intercourse. She can also charm others just by touching them. One thing I admire about Bo’s powers is that she knows how to use them responsibly and never uses them selfishly.

Bo then discovers that she is part of a community of magical beings that live apart from humans called Fae. However, light and dark sides divide the Fae, which doesn’t necessarily mean good and evil. When Bo is faced to choose a side, she chooses neither, which is an ongoing issue throughout the series. With her great deeds Bo has saved people, humans and Fae alike, but she will always be known to the Fae community as the unaligned succubus.

Of course, Bo doesn’t fight evil alone. She has allies helping her out. Like her best friend Kenzi (Ksenia Solo), who is a pickpocket and provides Bo an opportunity to use her skills to be a private investigator in order to pay the bills. Kenzi is human, which means she has no powers of her own. However, she is great at going undercover and is very witty, which I find likable. It’s just unfortunate that Kenzi isn’t involved in every adventure Bo has.

There’s also policemen that are Fae, Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried) a shape shifting wolf and Hale (K.C. Collins) a siren. Their detective skills are used to help Bo find the evil Fae and then erase the damage so nothing is revealed to the human race.

When the team is not on a task, they usually hang out at a Fae pub called the Dal Riata. Running the place is a powerful Fae named Trick (Rick Howland). He’s very knowledgeable about the many types of Fae and has other titles like the Blood King which gives the team an edge, despite that Trick hardly ever goes to battle himself.

Sometimes a task requires the aid of a doctor and what better doctor for the Fae to have than Dr. Lauren Lewis (Zoie Palmer). Like Kenzi, Lauren is human and a very useful ally. She even helped Bo learn to control her powers more efficiently.

In later seasons, a new ally joins the team, Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten). She’s a Valkyrie that’s strong-minded and becomes Dyson’s new partner on the police force. Tamsin may come off mean, but she eventually warms up.

Many villains get destroyed but some are actually reoccurring. One such villain is the Morrigan (Emmanuelle Vaugier). This ruthless Fae runs a talent agency to get her hands on young musicians and artists to feed off their talents and life force. How low can one get?

A real interesting reoccurring villain is Vex (Paul Amos). On top of having the ability to control people’s bodies with a wave of his hand, Vex has quite a sense of humor to go with it. That makes things interesting when he eventually becomes an ally.

This was an interesting series. Though I should point out that it tends to revolve around secrets as Bo gradually tries to understand who she is and where she came from as the series progresses. Must she be kept in the dark?

Nov 262014
 

Phantom Museums: The Short Films of the Quay Brothers (1979-2003) is a series of short films that looked interesting when I found this on Netflix a while back.

These films are horror themed stories on an adult level that use stop motion animation. There is no dialogue and the characters and scenery have a creepy look. You might think these are similar to the style of Tim Burton’s animated movies, but believe me, they’re not. I think this material is more along the lines of Aurelio Voltaire’s short animated films, which I also find interesting.

The story lines are hard to understand sometimes and the pacing is a bit slow at quite a few points. However, the creativity behind them is amazing. I mainly want to point out the four Stille Nacht films. They may be the shortest of the group, but I like that a song plays while the various dolls and objects move to the music. Yes, they are my most favorite of the group and not because they were the shortest.

Overall, Phantom Museums is a fascinating group of short films and I’m glad that I found out about them. Each film is different, but it’s nice that some of the puppet characters get to be reused, even if they are nameless.

Oct 292014
 

This Halloween I thought I would cover the most famous vampire in pop culture, Count Dracula. There’s no doubt that this vampire is so iconic because there have been so many versions. Whether it’s about his own story, or if he’s part of a group of other monsters, the role of Count Dracula has been played by more actors than any other vampire. Here are the versions I remember best in chronological order, even though most of them are highly obscure.

Dracula (1932): Frankly, who doesn’t remember the original movie with Bela Lagosi as the Count. This may be a classic horror feature, but it’s not one I was hugely into compared to the following films and TV appearances, even though he was the inspiration behind the Count from Sesame Street.

Mad Monster Party (1967): Normally when the classic movie monsters are together, Dracula is the one in charge because he’s the toughest in the bunch. Although he’s quick on the attack, Dracula tends to fumble especially since Frankenstein’s monster is stronger than he is.

Electric Company (1970s): Believe it or not, one of Morgan Freeman’s reoccurring characters was Dracula. He has a mysterious presence that can scare people, but isn’t dangerous. It seems that this Dracula’s favorite pastimes include drinking vanilla malts and taking a bath in a casket.

Ghostbusters (1975): This version of Count Dracula, played by Billy Holms, is very goofy and as a bat he tends to bump into walls. What really stands out are his fangs since they look so fake. Luckily his wife Countess Dracula is with him to keep him in line.

Ghostbusters (1986): Although this version of Count Dracula looks a lot like the Dracula from Groovy Ghoulies, he’s actually a lot tougher than many of the evil spirits the Ghostbusters ever faced. His ambition is to take over Transylvania by taking human slaves with his hypnotic power instead of a bite. He also hates mirrors as well as garlic. A little strange, don’t you think?

Castlevania Games (1987-1991): Dracula has appeared on video games before, but the best known is in the Castlevania franchise as the main villain. Instead of the Van Helsings fighting Dracula, it’s the Belmont family. It goes to show that the Count always returns no matter how many times he’s been defeated.

Captain N: The Game Master (1989): The animated version that’s based on the video games is a warlord trying to take over the world of Castlevania. Though I must admit that the Count has a creepier look.

Monster Force (1994): As the main villain in this series, Dracula prefers to be called Dracule. Even though he has a charming persona, don’t be fooled. Dracule is very powerful with his metamorphosis, hypnotic spells, and other magical abilities, which gives the Prince of Darkness an edge over humans and monsters alike.

Leslie Neilson as Count Dracula

Dracula: Dead and Loving it (1995): I remember when I first heard about this comedy classic. After discovering that Leslie Nielsen was going to star as Dracula, I knew from the start that it was going to be a good one. This Dracula is clumsy and his shadow has a mind of its own, but don’t take him too lightly. He’s powerful in the ways of mind control, sometimes even more than he realizes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2000): Dracula’s only appearance on this show was in the season five episode Buffy vs. Dracula, where Rudolf Martin played the role, but he did leave his mark during his time in Sunnydale. He seduced Buffy, made Xander his Renfield, even Spike remembers Dracula as an old rival before he got famous. This certainly covers a lot of ground on how Dracula stands out from other vampires and it’s hilarious when Buffy slays him… twice.

Van Helsing (2004): Richard Roxborough plays the role in this movie. As the main villain once again, he introduces a new skill that vampires have and that’s the ability to walk up walls and on the ceiling like it was nothing. Though Dracula is both strong and deadly, it’s really his three wives that stand out as big favorites to me.

Hotel Transylvania (2012): Adam Sandler voiced the most recent animated version of Count Dracula. Unlike other Draculas, this one is actually one of the good guys. After losing his wife to a group of angry villagers, Dracula created a hotel resort as a safe haven for monsters. However, he also became an overprotective father and control freak. Dracula is also funny, especially when he tries to tell humans that he never did say, “Bleh, bleh, bleh”.

Oct 082014
 

Sam (Bret Harrison) is a college dropout, who finds out that his parents sold his soul to the Devil. The Devil (Ray Wise) pops in and makes Sam his personal Reaper (2007-2009) to retrieve escaped demons with different types of vessels.

The Devil may be portrayed as a good guy at times, but he’s still a trickster when it comes to winning souls. Some vessels appear sillier than others do, but when they’re used right, they get the job done.

After the demon is caught, Sam has to take the vessel to a portal of Hell, which is at the DMV. Gladys (Christine Willes) takes over from there.

The different demons are creepy. Yet they still remind me of the many demons from Charmed. Some of my favorites include a jealous woman who can take the form of a swarm of bees, a cannibalistic doctor with monster fangs, a chemical plant CEO as a monstrous blob, and a serial killer called the Butcher who has become a rabid werewolf.

Luckily, Sam isn’t alone. His allies include Soc (Tyler Lebine), who is hilarious and outspoken, and Ben (Rick Gonzalez), who actually dates a demon named Nina (Jenny Wade). In human form Nina is gorgeous. Together they make a great team of bounty hunters. One great advantage to working at The Work Bench is unlimited access to supplies.

Image result for reaper series andi

Missy Peregrym plays the role of Andi, Sam’s girlfriend. I remember her most as Haley the comedic gymnast from Stick it. She’s not as comedic on this show, but it’s still good to know that Andi eventually knows Sam’s secret about his demon hunting duties. That way they become closer as a couple. Before, while Sam had to be secretive to Andi, I find the awkwardness hard to watch sometimes.

This was a good comedic series overall. It’s too bad that it ended so abruptly. I have heard that the story would continue in the comics, but I’m not certain.

Jan 312014
 

Before Monster High, there was another animated series about teenage monsters in an all-monster high school. It’s called Gravedale High (1990-1991), which is about human teacher Max Schneider (voice of Rick Moranis) making a difference to the school and his students with his quirky persona and creative teaching methods.

Gravedale High School has many different types of monster students. The main ones include, Vinnie Stoker the cool and laid back vampire, Frankentyke a young Frankenstein monster with a Bart Simpson persona, Reggie the brainy werewolf, Sid an invisible teen who is very comedic, and Gill the surfer lagoon creature with a monster tongue to go with his appetite.

There’s also JP an Igor-like monster that only dreams of being rich, Cleo the cute pigtailed mummy, Duzer the Medusa-like valley girl, and Blanche a shopoholic zombie.

The principal is Headmistress Crone. This strict witch-like monster that looks like the Bride of Frankenstein runs the school with an iron fist, which would explain her detachable iron hand.

Another character I remember well is Boneyard the bus driver. He has a deadpan persona and dresses like an undertaker.

Much of the humor comes from Chef Sal Monella. The stuff he serves in the cafeteria is unusually monstrous, just the way the monster kids like it. Sal takes pride in his filthy kitchen and his chef hat has a scary face on it. He certainly has a way with food.

This was an enjoyable series and I remember it best as part of a Saturday morning lineup. It was the show that always came on after Captain N and the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3. Now that I see Gravedale High in comparison to Monster High, they are still very different, mostly because of the generation gap, if you know what I mean.